Sunday, September 14, 2008


We know he stutters 'ka...ka...ka...ka…Kiran'  in the most ludicrous of manners! We know he takes the cheesiest of cheesy dialogues to garnish his flicks. We also know that sappiness, sentiments and saccharine-sweetness go hand-in-hand with most of the roles he ‘Don’s (couldn’t resist the pun!).

And yet…

…and yet, when Shah Rukh Khan emerges from the train, turns around and winks; or reveals his dimples in that million-buck smile, our hearts melt!

So, what makes the man tick, beyond his badly-etched role in Kuch Kuch Hota Hain(KKHH), the mountains of over-acting in Chalte Chalte and all the emotional melodrama of Kabhie Kushi Kabhie Gham(K3G)?

Charisma, for one. The man oozes s muck of the C-word on screen that any movie turns to be a drool-fest! To see those steely Scorpio eyes (Nov 2 born) freezing the lady-love in an impenetrable eye-lock, is enough, for any girl to wish she were his screen goddess and any guy to wish he had that luck and flair!

Style, to mention another. Who would mouth a “Bade-bade deshon mein aisi chotti-chotti baatein hoto rehti hain”(in DDLJ) and a powerful inspiring ‘Chak De’ dialogue with equal élan?!

Spirit, too, if we may add. Which hero can convince himself to do roles like he did? He contradicts himself in KKHH. Tells us ‘Pyaar ek hi baar hota hain’ and takes away both Rani and Kajol!!! He dives away from Satish Shah’s spit in ‘Main Hoon Na’ ala Matrix-ishtyle! He does a ‘loved-lost-reborn to find love’ role in ‘Om Shanti Om’ with so much conviction that we are smitten by its flamboyance and cinematic flashiness! Who else, we ask again, can take up a ‘Badshah’ or a ‘Duplicate’ and ACTUALLY make it enjoyable?! Who else would have the guts to continue a ‘Kaun Banega Crorepati’ from the Big B himself and make it oh-so-good?

We almost forgot his Confidence. Strutting around declaring ‘I am the best’ may not really sound modest or down-to-earth. But believe it or not, we still think he’s one of the most people-friendly and adorable guys that scorched our screens! Such strength and poise that this guy exudes, makes everyone who has anything to do with films, mouth a ‘WOW’!

And not to forget, Stamina. From small-screen ‘Circus’ to big-screen Bhoothnath. From ‘Kabhi Haan Kabhi Na’ to ‘Kya aap Paanchvi Paas se behatar hain’- this man has lasted long enough and belted out enough hits to prove everyone who scoffs at him, wrong. Be it being silly in the initial moments of ‘Phir Bhi Dil Hain Hindustani’ or mute in ‘Koyla’ or taking up a powerful role in ‘Swades’ and excelling in it, King Khan has lived his role the way it should be!

There are very few men who would openly hail the guy as a true entertainer and a great actor. They repeatedly find faults out loud, because they grudgingly realize, that their wives and girlfriends, will always want to see the SRK in them! Daughters want the cool-dad. Mothers and mother-in-laws look out for the doting son! How terrible it must be to be born in the world as a man where SRK shall always be the better of the species, and you shall be compared to him in every way- walk, style, personality et al!

In a way, it is justified, as he does prove why he is called King Khan; he reigns supreme- head firmly on shoulders, working his way insomniacally into the top, and staying there, still declaring with a dimpled and delectable smile- ‘I am the best’!

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Rock on(2008)

Why Rock On probably works, is because of the maturity with which the film is handled.The movie has its share of cliches,but in places where you expect the movie to fall flat and you're sure it is contrived, surprisingly you're spared. And of course there's some really good music by the trio Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy(yeh tumahari meri baatein-surely one of the most beautiful songs written and composed); and the actors who seem to be perfectly handpicked by the casting director.Above all, the film has its heart in the right place, and you are bound to like it.

So Even though Abhishek kapoor's directorial debut 'Aryan' was a no show at the box office and his story is suspiciously similar to Dil chahta Hai, the man is quite talented. He sure knows his craft quite well. But then, he plays it safe and the film seems a little bland.

The story of four friends, who form a rock band, which breaks up and then reunites, might sound simple at the outset, but the way it plays out on the screen, with some beautiful vivid imagery-flashes of the past and the present juxtaposed with some 'rocking' music, makes for an engaging watch.

The multi-talented Farhan Akthar who makes his acting and singing debut, is a powerhouse performer, but he slips off at a few places. Television's young starlet Prachi Desai (aka Bani-another Ekta Kapoor find) too makes her debut. The maturity with which she performs is quite commendable, especially after her daily Kasamh se, where all she had to do was sob. After years of flops, Arjun Rampal seems to be choosing the right films. He performs with utmost sincerity.So does Shahana Goswami, who seems like the next Konkona.She's completely natural.Luke Kenny is good too.Purab Kohli, who invariably provides us with the lighter moments in the film, seems a little wasted.

Surely one of the better films of the year.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Manorama six feet under....(warning:no spoilers but a few good dialogues and lottts of hindi!!)

Set in Lakhot, a Rajasthani village which exists in extremes-either fatally hot or lethally cold, and is further personified as “…jahan duniya se alag apni ek alag duniya hai...ghaadi ki sui mein atka hua wife sa boring,haathi sa sust,bin naade ke pyjaame se dheela dhaala Lakhot”.

“..paranthu registhaan ki ek sach hai…jo dikhtha hai wo hotha hota hai wo dikhtha nahi....yahaan kidon ko bhi nahi pata ki jis reth par wo bistar banaye hai…pata nahin kaun saap,bichchu chupa baita hai uske neeche…”

And so is the life of Satyaveer Randhawa very similar to Lakhot ,one moment it is dreary and unfruitful but the next moment he’s caught in mystery,murder and adventure. And like the nature of the desert, nothing is what it seems.

The movie introduces us to Randhawa,a junior PWD engineer at an abandoned canal construction site with some brilliantly pictorial dialogues, ambiguous surroundings and a surreal painting like setting in the desert.


“tumhara tho dimag bhi pending hai,poora dept commission le raha hai-aur tumhi ek akele buddhu jo pakde gaye..”

This tells us about Randhawa who is in suspension awaiting the enquiry report for taking small commissions; and about his beautiful but nagging wife Nimi.Randhawa always wanted to be a famous writer and almost got there with his debut detective novel “Manorama”. But the novel corked his soaring dreams as only 200 copies were sold. The first and biggest failure in his life.

“har kisi ki zindagi mein ek aisa waqt bhi aata hai jab sale aaine ko sach bolne ki bimaari lag jaati hai”

But this day, in which he laments his lost glory the most, ends with the buyer of one of the 200 copies knocking on the door late into the night.


“afsos..!par raghu tho sirf ek character hai na…kirdaar…kehthe hain kirdaar kiraedaar nahi ban saktha,par kalaakar tho kiraedaar ban saktha hai..”

A fan of detective Raghu in Randhawa’s novel, and in need of one such man to spy on her irrigation minister husband P.P.Rathore…she turns to Satyaveer Randhawa for the lack of any trustworthy private detectives in Lakhot. She requests him to find out whether her husband is seeing another woman and to click pictures for evidence, in return for a fat paycheck. Owing to his need for and a spark in life, Randhawa agrees. But the day after he hands over the film roll to the woman, he accidentally discovers that she is not the minister’s wife.

Before his shock subsides she stops his bike one dark night to say that her name is actually Manorama and her life is in danger. She runs away after throwing him a cryptic line. What happens later? Like Brij Mohan,his typical-thanedaar brother-in-law, recounts a story of a kid called Bholu…
“jaisa naam waisa kaam....bada bhola bachcha tha Bholu.....choti choti cheejon se kush ho jaata-par saale mein ek hi bimari thi-pichwade mein jigyasa ki khurach thi usse”

Yes, the itch of curiosity got better of Satyaveer Randhawa and he fell headlong into this thriller of a situation only to find more complicated characters and more mysterious and dangerous situations! All this in spite of Brij mohan’s warnings…”zara si saavdhaani,zindagi bhar aasaani”,which he got from a condom ad and “kutte ki haddi aur mantri ki chaddi mein haath nahi dala karte jijje.Ek mein 14 injection lagte hain aur doosre mein tho bas…lag jaati hain,pata bhi nahi chaltha “

Manorama six feet under is of the noir genre and can be termed as one of those DVD hits.Though an indianized take of Roman Polanski’s Chinatown(yep the story is not original..sigh),it does not feel as if it has tried too hard to be baptized Indian.

From the dusty stretch of vast desert and evil looking scrubs in the beginning of the movie to the small flower wetting itself in the unexpected rain, the movie felt like those dark forgotten whodunits with everything clichéd(like brown toothed cackling goons to corrupt politicians) made into a very gripping screenplay.

Vinay pathak-“Rajasthan plays a character in the movie”

I completely agree with him and believe that Rajasthan and the brilliant dialogues by Abhinav Kashyap and Manoj Tapadia play main protagonists followed by the soundtrack in the supporting role.’Dhoka' sung by Richa Sharma gives a sense of mystery and doom leading on to ‘dhundla jo sama’ by Kailash Kher in the end of the movie.

Abhay Deol,Gul Panag and Vinay Pathak did full justice to Satyaveer randhawa,Nimi and Brij mohan respectively. Raima Sen did not go unnoticed in her stint as Manorama’s room-mate Sheetal. Kulbhushan Karbanda fits perfectly into the role of the corrupt politician P.P.Rathore and last but not the least Sarika gives her enigmatic best to ‘Manorama’.

So hats off to Navdeep Singh the director whose belief in his movie is extremely evident and feels like he fulfilled a childhood fantasy.

Ps: It would be great if next time this was done with an original story :D

Anoodha Kunnath

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


Aamir joins the league of movies like Lagaan, Dil Chahta Hai, Yun Hota Toh Kya Hota, Taare Zameen Par, Mithya (these are the only ones I can think of, as of now) and loads of others- movies synonymous with the coming of age of Indian cinema, where the story and screenplay are the real heroes of the film. Never mind the stars attached to them.

So even though it is 'inspired' from a Filipino film Cavite (Have not watched it.-- Talk about Bollywood and originality.) and deals with the same old subject of branding certain people as terrorists just because they are Muslim, debutant director Raj Kumar Gupta, gives it a whole new meaning, with such finesse and control over the medium, rarely seen.

As our protagonist (Rajeev Khandelwal) is coming out of the Mumbai Airport, after a squabble with the immigrations officer- Just because his name is Aamir Ali( his luggage checked thrice-What if he's a terrorist??)-he's given a mobile by two strangers. Soon Aamir becomes a puppet in the hands of a man(Gajraj Rao), who has kidnapped his family and is constantly giving him instructions over the phone, taking him(and us) through a maze called Mumbai, all this leading to a riveting climax. But why is Aamir chosen?- He too doesn't know and so don't we.

Shot on real time locations(all of it during the day) the city of Mumbai comes alive, with some very interesting camera work(Alphonse Roy).Very neat and clean, nothing too gimmicky.Yet there is some novelty in the way the shots are taken. Right from the opening shot where we get to see montages of the cityscape, with "It's a good day....." playing in the background to the scene where there is this chaotic traffic jam or even the abandoned shady alleys which Aamir has to go through. It gives the movie a very raw feel.This combined with Raj Kumar Gupta's adept direction and Amit Trivedi's music and background score, keeps you hooked on till the last minute.

Even though, this drama has a running time of 98 mins, the pace does slacken at some point, and the dialogues (Raj Kumar Gupta again.) get a little repetitive, especially that of the man on the phone.
The cast mostly comprising of unknown actors, except Rajeev khandelwal, performs quite well( Gajraj Rao gets a little annoying though.) Ekta Kapoor's then sone-ka-anda-dene-wala-murgi, Rajeev Khandelwal, who was wasted in two completely hopeless dailies ( Kahin na kahin...and Left Right left) means business, and just does that-act, displaying his wide range of histrionics and proves that he fits the character of Dr. Aamir to the T.

This movie surely needs to be watched.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Mahanagar : The Big City

With Mahanagar (The big city)(1963) Satyajit Ray explores the pathos of the people living in a modern day city.

Subrata Mazumdar (Anil Chatterjee) is a bank employee. The meagre income he earns is not enough to support his middle class family, which consists of his wife Arati (Madhabi Mukherjee), their son, his retired father (Haren Chatterjee) and mother and his young sister Bani (Jaya Bhaduri). After a few hints from her husband, Arati too decides to take up a job with stiff opposition from the elders, especially the father. Arati finds a job as a sales girl selling knitting machines door to door. Her success notwithstanding, Subrata asks her to quit her job. But as luck would have it, Subrata ends up losing his job due to unforeseen circumstances. Now its Arati who is the ‘man’ of the family. But then everything isn’t smooth sailing in the big city…..Thus begins a journey of struggles and hardships, and one has to be optimistic.

Somehow Mahanagar doesn’t have that poetic flow to it, as the other Ray films I’ve seen, especially Pather Panchali and Charulata (I know they can’t be compared, but then….). But he lends the film a raw feel which is much understated and he’s made a film which was completely modern for its time- about people living in 1950’s Calcutta, and it still holds relevance. The issues he deals with in this film are plenty. Like Arati’s racist boss, who has a strong dislike for her Anglo-Indian colleague Edith or her father-in-law, who has a problem with the women of the house working outside. Even though the movie deals small vagaries of city life, not a second does it leave you bored.

This was Madhabi Mukherjee’s first film with Satyajit Ray, after which she went on to star in his Classic Charulata and Kapurush. The transformation of Arati from a timid housewife to a confident working woman is excellently brought about. She underplays her character without being overly dramatic. Ditto with Anil Chatterjee. Even Haren Chatterjee as the father, who is unapologetic about his views, especially women working, but how he slowly ends up surrendering to the ways of modern times, plays his part well.

The camera work is quite impressive, and so is the way a few scenes have been executed. The scene where Arati is looking at herself in the mirror, with her first pay in her hands- the expression on Madhabi Mukherjee’s face and the scene as such is brilliant. A few of the close-up shots, of the main players, throughout the film, have been very interestingly shot with the play of light and shadow.

A film with interesting insights of city life

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


VK runs for his life after seeing a gang shoot out first hand. He madly runs along what I think is the Mumbai marine drive in the dead of the night. The camera follows him all along till a bird flying above the sea catches its attention. I don’t know whether the camera man got lucky or it was graphic but I loved that shot. That particular bird (among many others) seemed to be fleeing and sharing the same trembling apprehension. Side kicked with a very nice background score by Sagar Desai, Mithiya then on keeps you hooked.

You have to give it to Ranvir Shorey .Desperation, helplessness, charm, oblivion, humor…. and what not, he has portrayed it all. This guy is going places. The other protagonists like Saurab Shukhla ,Naseerudin Shah ,Vinay Pathak, Iravathi mayadev,Neha Dhupia,Harsh Chaaya etc are given equally distributed screen life and do full justice to the black comedy.

I don’t know whether this movie can be put into any one of the commercial or parallel cinema slot. It is so realistic that you can touch the characters, at the same time utterly entertaining .It has no long-muahahaha dialogues before someone shoots down another, no superhuman heroes and no spy cameras conveniently popping up (remember Race!).

Director/writer Rajat Kapoor and co-writer Saurab Shukhla have taken the age old humshakal or the doppelganger concept and beaten clichés into shape.VK an aspiring actor shares his face with Raje an underworld don, whose rivals-Gavde (Naseerudin Shah) and Shetty (Saurabh Shukla) - seize him in order to carry out their master plan. They kill Raje and send a trained-in-captivity VK in his place.VK plays his part well. The aspiring actor got a role of a ‘lifetime’ alright but is terrified. Will the kahani-mein-twists aid his acting or lead to a tragic love story or both!

The rest is mystery… :P

Anoodha Kunnath

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Charulata:The Lonely Wife

The closing scene of the movie shows Charulata and the trust-lost Bhupati, hesitantly reaching out to each other, just when the camera freezes, showing us the uncertainty.That's how uncertain I feel, writing about this beautiful film,which has put me in a complete loss of words.

After madly having hunted for a Satyajit Ray film for quite a long time, I finally managed to get my hand over this classic.Based on Rabindranath Tagore's short novel "Nastanirh"(The Broken Nest), this 1964 Bengali film is a masterstroke by one of India's most celebrated directors.

The story is set in late 19th century Calcutta. Charulata/Charu(Madhabi Mukherjee) is an intelligent bored lonely upperclass housewife.Bhupati(played very well by Sailen Mukherjee), loves his wife, but is engrossed in political work and his own printing press.To give her company, he invites her brother Umapada(Shyamal Ghoshal) and sister-in-law Manda(Gitali Roy).In the meanwhile,a happy-go-lucky Amal(Soumitra Chatterjee), Bhupathi's cousin also arrives.Charu and Amal share similar interests in literature and poetry, and on Bhupati's request Amal starts mentoring her, so that her talent in writing wouldn't go wasted.But Charu soon starts harbouring other feelings for Amal.

It is so difficult to write about a film like this, which is so simple yet so complex. Satyajit Ray brilliantly plays with just the basic human emotions so well, nothing overly dramatic. Its the silences that speak more in this movie. The first few minutes of the film, of how Charu observes the outside world through the window using her opera glasses,barely has any dialogues in it.It's just beyond words.It leaves you dumbstruck.

The kind of contrasts he creates within the film and between the characters, are so obvious, yet shown with subtility.The film is so modern in its outlook,making it relevant even in such times.Even the references he makes to Bankim Chandra, show his eye for details.The camera work (Subrata Mitra) throught the movie is exemplary.Satyajit Ray also gives music for the film, which is another highlight.

The beautiful Madhabi Mukherjee as the intelligent, lonely, childless wife,Charulata, plays her part so well, that you believe she is actually Charulata.The kind of chemistry Soumitra Chatterjee and she share is brilliant.

Satyajit Ray considered this film as one of his best and the one with least defects.This classic of a movie should not be missed.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


What is it that makes us watch some movies over and over again?
Why is it that sometimes after a dreary depressing day, we seek the reel world to escape?

Medical research has proven that cinema therapy is one effective tool to cure depression. Those random images on screen woven together to form a canvas to paint a story have an infalliable formula of feel-good inherent in it!

Take for instance the timeless Balachander flick 'Ethir Neechal'. The tale of a struggling yet ambitious errand boy and his ultimate triumph in life still inspires us, while simultaneously making us double-up with laughter at its interwoven comedy track!

'Life is Beautiful', although dealing with the holocaust, is one movie that makes us cry at the brutal nature of the human mind while at once showing us to what extents we can stretch our strengths to survive.

So what is it that makes these movies a sure-shot cure to replenish our hope every once life deals them a blow?

Movies have this innate ability to make us take a break from reality and portray the very same reality in a way that the make-believe seems more real than the existent reality. This surreal space where we connect with the players on-screen is where the director plays with our mind and gives us the impression that the recorded thing going on a piece of canvas cloth, with some story enacted by random people is what is happening then and there. Our worries get suspended, our responsibilities-tossed in the air. For a while, reality gets redefined. And in that time-space, when a director portrays a tale that showcases the ultimate triumph of the human spirit, it touches some part of our soul and it feels good!

This triumph of the human spirit is served not just with a simple direct narrative but with some extra doodling of ideas on reel- comedy, action, drama, music, dance etc. Comedy makes us laugh our hearts out. ‘Thillumullu’ proves us that point! Bruce Lee flicks tell us why we love it when the baddie gets bruised! Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, through its breezy romance sweeps us off our feet. Mr.And Mrs.Iyer, Mouna ragam, Paasa Malargal, Abhimaan speak volumes about the drama of life. Dance and its gusto in movements and the emotion-churning ascent and descent in music somehow leave a joyous footnote to the proceedings.

With popcorn or without your cold coffee, sprawled in your favourite couch or standing in the aisles of a crowded touring talkies, in that short span of a few minutes or hours, what is going on in screen somehow does something within you and makes you smile. They may just be puppets danced around by a story-tellers’ hand, but they tell us a tale so very like our own- hardships, struggle, heartbreaks, tears and the ultimate quest of success and smiles. Ah.. feels good!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

For you, a thousand times over.

Marc Forster's adaptation of Khaled Hosseini's tale of friendship and redemption,The Kite Runner is good, but not great. It isn't as overwhelming as the book, nor do you feel the way you would for the characters as you feel for them while reading the book.

Spanning two decades,the story begins in 1970's Kabul. Its about how Amir ( Zekeria Ebrahimi/Khalid Abdella), the protagonist, seeks redemption for something wrong he did. Something wrong he does to his best friend Hassan by being a coward.Of how the truth is not spoken of,and how time deepens the scar more and more.

If you've read the book, comparisons are just inevitable.With movies adapted from books, you always anticipate certain things, and when they don't live up to your expectations, you feel disappointed.Marc Forster tries his best to cram in as much as possible in a 2 hr movie, but it somehow lacks a certain depth. The conflict that Amir goes through lacks conviction. Amir(kahlid Abdella ) and Soraya's(Atossa Leoni ) relationship looks a little superficial and forced. And the last few minutes of the movie are just too hurried. But that doesn't mean the movie isn't worth watching.

The movie is shot beautifully( Roberto Schaefer).No one would believe that most of the parts supposed to be Afghanistan are actually shot in China.Very authentic. Even the dialogues, most of it being in Dari Persian. The whole kite-fighting tournament, is brilliantly choreographed.'ll understand when you see the movie. It has some really good background score by Alberto Iglesias.

The boy (Ahmad Khan Mahimdzada ),who plays Hassan, fits his part so well.He's everything of how you would imagine Hassan to be. Same with Homayoun Ershadi who plays baba. The other actors play their parts efficiently.

But if you've never read the book, you'll probably love the movie. A good effort, but just if the film had that 'something' in it.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

MATHILUKAL........(spoiler ahead)

If irony,love,simplicity and satire born from sheer experience can together form a movie,we get 'Mathilukal'.

This 1989 directorial masterpiece of Adoor Gopalakrishnan takes us through a brief episode in the life of Vaikkom Mohammed Basheer-the celebrated storyteller of Malayalam.Mathilukal or walls ,is based on an autobiographical novella of the same name by V.M.Basheer.

The movie is about Basheer who is serving time in the Travancore jail for,as he puts it,desha droham(anti-national activities).So this political prisoner,in the pre-independence era,walks across the gates to his cell and adeptly settles in the dreary abode.His relentless humor and philosophical frankness helps him befriend everybody,from the inmates to the warden.

Simple details like his softly adamant nature in pursuing 'theyyila' tea leaves,how he meticulously uses his limited supply of beedis and matchsticks(which he readily gives away to a prisoner who was going to be hanged,as an act of condolence) and how he walks down the corridors imitating the siesta-time snoring of fellow prisoners,are well brought out by Adoor.

When the short period of his sentence is prolonged,Basheer falls into deep despair.He did not get his long-awaited freedom for which he planted rose bushes and waited.All the other political prisoners except him were released.The Beypore sultan(as he is fondly called),however, grins and bears it and feeds his disappointment to the paper through ink.

It is not long before his solitude is romantically punctured by Narayani,a voice from the other side of the insurmountable wall facing his cell which separates the female prisoners.The blossoming love is portrayed through sensuous dialogues and exchange of little nothings thrown across the wall.The only media of communication are their voices,which walls cannot bar, and the dry twig which Narayani throws up in the air as a signal to Basheer whenever she can steal a few moments to talk to him.

The movie takes us hand-in-hand with Basheer literally because we see it through his eyes,we see only what he sees.The inmates are never shown unless he is there talking or looking at them.Even Narayani and the other side of the wall is not displayed.He never meets his lover and so do we.

Thus love makes even the bleak prison homelike for Basheer and he looks forward to everyday there.But as the lovers plot to somehow meet,fate steps in and hands Basheer his release order.Instead of being happy,he is torn by the irony.
"You are free",says the warden.
"Freedom!Who wants freedom",retorts Basheer.
Thus telling us that freedom is when we are allowed to choose.

And so he is forced to leave Narayani behind without even the mercy of a farewell.The poignant tale of love ends with a scene showing the dry twig going up and down against the sky from the other side of the Mathil(wall).

Kudos to Mammooty for the excellent portrayal of Vaikkom Mohd. Basheer and to KPAC Lalitha as Narayani-this would be the only movie in which an actress has acted so well, solely through her voice.The hilarious dialogues portray deeper meanings and makes the movie a gripping watch.The other members of the cast like Thilakan,Murali,the late Karamana Janardhanan Nair,Ravi Vallathol etc gave commendable performances for the limited screen space they had.

Adoor Gopalakrishnan wanted Basheer to be there at the first screening.What an immensely touched Basheer told after the lights came on stands true for Mathilukal.......
........"Not a dull moment".

Anoodha Kunnath

Sunday, February 3, 2008

khoya khoya chand

Sudhir Mishra's tribute to the golden era of Hindi cinema falls short of becoming a classic. Only if he wasn't too lost trying to re-create the era(which he does brilliantly.), and concentrated on the screenplay.

The film follows the (so called) turbulent relationship of Nikhat(Soha Ali khan) and Zafar(Shiney Ahuja). Of how the aspiring actress Nikhat is saved from the manipulative superstar Prem kumar (Rajat Kapoor) by upcoming writer Zafar, and how in the meanwhile they fall in love.Of how Nikhat begins trusting Zafar, and how their relationship grows, goes through ups and downs, is what forms the story. There are lots of references made, mostly noticeable are the one's made to actors of 50's.
The film is interspersed with some really brilliant photography by Sachin Krishn, but only if it had a brilliant story supporting it.Every little detail in the film-from the costumes to the hair do's to the sets or even Ameen Sayani's voice on the radio played in the background, seem to be painstakingly done, but only if it wasn't for the characters meandering and mouthing vague dialogues of which even they are not fully convinced of. Shantanu Moitra's music is good, but nothing memorable, barring a couple of songs. Especially the title track, thirak thirak..and o re paakhi..
Soha Ali khan does a good job, in parts, especially in the first half. But she just isn't convincing as the fading star, who takes up to alcohol in the later parts.Shiney Ahuja is ok.Its the supporting cast, which does a better job. Especially Sonya Jehan as the fading starlet. Or even Vinay Pathak as Zafar's friend, who gets him to write for a film.
The film captures all the little nuances of a bygone era, beautifully. Of how movies were made then,of the kind people in the film industry, the stars and the mysterious lives etc. The movie isn't too bad, but not that good either.

Saturday, January 26, 2008


The blurb at the back of the cover reads.."A witty, romantic and very dangerous love story about chance meetings, instant attractions and casual betrayals.CLOSER..."
I've not seen a film as candid as this.Quite an unusual film, about people, walking in and out of each others lives.It takes the viewer some time to warm up to the film, as it starts off as abruptly it ends. So there are no explanations or flashbacks about the characters, its just meant to be like you've known them forever.There are too many jumps in time.Just four principle characters entangled in each others web of life, no sub-plots, not too mushy,the film is quite straightforward. The film is a little of everything- Dumb.Erotic.Romantic.Funny.Chaotic.Strange.

Of the four actors, Natalie Portman as the stripper does a really good job.She's beautiful, especially in the closing scene. Clive Owen as the desperate dermatologist is good.Jude Law as the aspiring writer and Julia Roberts as the Photographer just look too constipated.Director Mike Nichols honest take on relationships,love,infidelity makes for quite a watch.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Taare Zameen Par

Amidst high-budget movies,snazzy promos,superstars and a bare butt-one Mr.Aamir Khan quietly but boldly walks in with 'taare zameen par'(stars on earth) and proved that for this once the big bang came after the stars.It left such a big impact.

There was no better way to start a new year!Frankly,i walked in thinking it was just another one of those children's movie where the hero takes the spotlight with the oh-i-am-so-kind-i-love-kids portrayal and walks away with the superstar adulation.Boy was i surprised to know that Aamir Khan was playing second fiddle to the show stealer Darsheel Safary(Ishaan Awasthi in the movie)-the most perfect casting of the century.

Mischievous Ishaan is paying his price for being a little different.He suffers from Dyslexia.His parents and teachers, taking it to be adamant carelessness, give him a tough time.Ishaan runs to his creativity for help.His imagination takes him places.He looks at things and sees beauty.His fingers do wonders with paints and crayons but not with pencils and notebooks.

When the entire world is at the peak of writing him off as an incapable idiot,the wonder teacher walks in.Ram Shankar Nikumbh,well portrayed by Aamir,enters dramatically mid-movie.He empathises with Ishaan and what happens later is practically fantastic.

The movie,with its blatant mockery of the cruelly competitive world gives us the paradox which is Ishaan.He is everything,every small beautiful thing which is snubbed in a world which wants only material profit.Ishaan is the intellect that cannot be found in report cards.

What i liked about the movie was that,it did not use the word 'special' to denote disability.That word was used only to show that every child had a talent to call their own.

Moreover,no character looked out of place and there was not one unwanted scene in the movie.

Kudos to Amol Gupte,the writer and creative director.He did most of the paintings too.And of course,the maestros-Shankar Ehsaan and Loy!And hats off to Prasoon Joshi for such imaginative lyrics.

Full marks for Taare Zameen Par.It starts off with a few good laughs but please take along a bunch of napkins.I guarantee you there are no cheap emotional stunts to melt the glaciers in your eyes.This tugs at the right strings.

Anoodha Kunnath

Saturday, January 5, 2008

The Man and his music...

They call him by different names-all hailing him sky-high as the greatest composer of India!
His style, the various nuances he employs to whistle in a freshness, the numerous new voices he introduces to bring in a hitherto unknown variety and vibrancy-every little aspect of his music makes him one great beam of inspiration to anyone!

Who else can make your smile take a deeper curve?
Or evoke that single secret tear vent out all the grief that lay hidden within you?
Where else does genius and repose come together?

Oh! The man! His music! A.R.Rahman! Ah! Uttering his name gets those secreted violin strings in your soul to start playing a lovely tune!

Be it any language, any banner-his music transcends barriers and transports us to a totally elevated plane! It is a 'high' that you experience, every cell in your body dance; your mind seems relieved of its worldly care!
The whole feeling of listening to his compositions bring random disconnected images to your mind- the first bloom of spring, a whiff of lemongrass, a burst of crackers, a stroke of paint on an empty canvas, paper boats on a puddle of water, the first smile of a baby, the elation of success, the gurgling sound of the brook, the chilling silence of a tomb, the darkness that is partner to death, the magical whirl of the cosmos!

Untainted by the vulgarity of the world!

The sudden background bursts of sounds in his music shows the intricate mesh he weaves to create the tapestry of the song! A pluck of strings, a beat of drums, a slow purring of wind in the throes of the flute... ah, to have been born during the times of this maestro is to be able to get short-lived tickets to utopia every once his music plays!

And to that man, who relentlessly continues to inspire us, lend meaning into his and our lives through his unblemished creations, here's wishing him all the happiness on his birthday!

May the force be with him!

Don't look away...........

for what shall i wield a dagger, o lord?

what can i pluck it out of

or plunge it into

when you are all the world?

— 10th century Indian poet and saint, Devera Dasimayya

When Mr. and Mrs. iyer released in 2002 it somehow just failed to generate any interest in me. Thought of it as just one of those other Indian English films, made by some foolish director. Saw bits and pieces of it, and completely forgot about it.Until two years ago, when they showed it on some vague channel(which ceased to exist). I just had to watch it. I remember being glued to the television watching the movie late into the night, in spite of the annoying ads which appeared every five minutes.I would have seen the film at least another 3-4 times, and till date it remains one of my favorite Indian films.

Watching the movie times and over, I've always discovered something new in it. Like the second time I saw it, I was completely bowled over by Konkona Sensharma's stellar performance.Or certain little nuances in the film...Everything is so intricately woven into one another. Or even the saying by the poet, which appears in the beginning of the film, which I was quite ignorant about, till recent, thinking it was just pretentious,and wanted to sound profound.
At heart, the film is just a love story.Two people on a bus journey, falling in love during times of violence.Every scene in the film is underlined with some form of religious-political element, which sometime seems a little over-done.Maybe, it was meant to be an undertone, but somehow just sticks out.For that matter, even some of the English dialogues, they just don't sound natural.Very theatrical.But otherwise, the film is brilliant.Rahul Bose gives a very restrained and understated performance as the liberal Muslim wildlife photographer.Some really good acting by the supporting cast as well, especially Bhisham Sahani and Surekha Sikri, as the old Muslim couple. Has so many layers to it, only seen or noticed after multiple viewings.Goutham Ghose captures the Himalayan foothills,with his beautiful photography. Zakhir Hussain's music just flows with the film.For the kind of issue it addresses, Mr. and Mrs. iyer will be relevant any given day.

Arvind Caulagi