Archive for January, 2008

Mumbai Se Aaya Mera Dost (2003)

Name: Mumbai Se Aaya Mera Dost

Starring: Abhishek Bachchan & Lara Dutta

Director: Apoorva Lakhi

Language: Hindi

Did I watch this recently?Yes

Review:

Before there was Dhoom, before there was Yuva, before there was Bunty aur Babli and before there was Guru – Abhishek Bachchan starred in Mumbai Se Aaya Mera Dost, a city boy returning to his rural town with a tv.

Mumbai Se Aaya Mera Dost story revolves around – not Abhishek, not Lara Dutta BUT the protagonist of this film is a TV. Don’t believe me! Read the below summary of the plot…

When Kanji (Abhishek Bachchan) returns to his rural community (which only recently received electricity) he brings with him a TV and a satellite dish. The rest of the movie then track the impact this TV has on the lives of the villagers – from the barber, to the local Priest and to the Landowner of the village. Villagers start to mimic the characters and scenes of movies in their everyday lives (often to considerable failure). Most villagers are pleased about the arrival of the TV, which has brought entertainment and interest to their lives, with the exception of the local priest as the villagers are not coming to the temple to give money as they are pre-occupied by the TV.

So the Priest, offended that the TV is taking all his villager’s time and money, goes to the local Landowner of the village to help get rid of the TV and the problem. The Landowner at first refuses to help until he finds out that the TV in the village is in fact bigger then the Landowners. This then sparks off a violent campaign to take down Abhishek, his family and the TV.

There is also a side romantic plot whereby Abhishek falls in love at first sight with the landowner’s sister Kesar – played by Lara Dutta. Although not a very special romance, it does have considerably steamy scenes and there is definete chemistry between Abhishek & Lara in this movie. I woul love to see another movie (other then Jhoom Barabar Jhoom) properly explore their chemistry, because i think its one of the few interesting things about this film.

The movie’s plot is unintersting and at times rediculous. It does have its few scenes that can be quite funny – like the villagers trying to do actions and scenes from some classic movies to a disasterous effect. But this is repeated so often in the film that too soon gets boring.  There is also i’m sure a message about the impact of progress in rural town, but there are so many other films out there that do a better and more interesting job at addressing this issue.

Some more positive things to say about this film is Abhishek does a decent job as Kanji. He has certainly lost his wooden acting that plagued his earlier career by this stage, but unfortunately the screenplay makes you forget any great acting by Lara & Abhishek.  Also on a more vapid note, Mumbai Se Aaya Mera Dost marks the beginning of the bearded/stubble Abhishek which has graced the screen for many years now and my personal Abhishek appearance favourite.

Another positive of this movie is the cinematography of Rajasthan. Watching the beautiful scenary of Rajasthan was certainly a strength of this film and viewers might feel the itch to visit Rajasthan after watching some of the scenes. Director Apoorva Lakhia (now known for his 2007 hit ‘Shootout at Lokhandwala’) both directed and wrote this film. I think of his as a decent director, but obviously he was the reason for the screenplay. He has obviously improved since then but his other movies Ek Ajnabee demonstrate he had room to improve before Shootout came along.  Also some of his experience in the movie ‘Karma Sutra: A Tale of Love’ incorporated into the movie when he shows more shots of Lara’s cleavage then her face.

Overall Score: 1.5/5 Hairy Anil Kapoors – Mumbai Se Aaya Mera Dost marked the improvement in acting for Abhishek Bachchan, but even he could not save this incredibly boring film whose main protagonist was a television. Lara Dutta & Abhishek’s chemistry is the main highlight of this film as well as the beautiful cinematography of Rajasthan. Other then these points though, the film is an all round boring dud.

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January 14, 2008 at 4:40 pm Leave a comment

Darna Zaroori Hai (2006)

Name: Darna Zaroori Hai (Being Scared is Necessary)

Starring: Amitabh Bachchan, Ritesh Deshmukh, Anil Kapoor, Mallika Sherawat, Rajpal Yadav, Sunil Shetty, Arjun Rampal & Bipasha Basu

Director: J.D Chakravarthi, Manish Gupta, Sajid Khan, Jijy Philip, Prawal Raman, Vivek Shah & Ram Gopal Varma (1 Director per story)

Language: Hindi

Did I watch this recently? Yes

Review:

True to it’s title, being scared is necessary. In this case in order to think this is a good scary movie it has to do one thing – make you scared. However Darna Zaroori Hai fails on this promise for about 95% of the movie. Its more interesting and comedic then scary and often turns potentially scary moments into characters saying ‘I’m just joking’. Which of course got predictable after the first 10 times.

Although I haven’t seen Darna Mana Hai i’ve been informed its essentially the same premise – 6 scary stories by 6 different directors. I have watched a few Bollywood horror films with one i’m ashamed to say got me quite scared which was Vaastu Shahstra (2004). But most of the time these horror films suffer from lack of originality and tight budgets. When I watch Hollywood scary films, the bollywood attempts just look pathetic in comparison. But Bollywood i think is pretty strong at doing good thrillers so i hope they stick to that instead of horror.

The best thing I can say about this film is its only just over 1.5 hours. It also has some good ‘ohhhhhh’ moments (twists) at the end of the stories when the pieces of the stories puzzle suddenly link up. If i had to pick the best story for me it would be the Arjun Rampal & Bipasha Basu story, that one was semi-scary and had a good twist at the end.

So here are my quick thoughts on stories:

  1. Introduction: Pahwa a film buff goes off to see Darna Mana Hai in the cinema but he is running late so wants to go to a short cut through the cemetery despite the fact his mum cautioned him against doing it on the 13th moonless night. This story is not really meant to be scary, its more of a introductory story which pokes fun at the Ram Gopal Varma movies. The director of this story, Sajid Khan (not known as director of Heyy Babyy) does a good job at poking fun at RGV and at least RGV can laugh at himself because the end moment of this story i found quite funny.
  2. Story 1: Amitabh Bachchan plays a professor who sees someone in his house ‘trying to be him’ and Ritesh Deshmukh plays a student trying to figure out what the professor is seeing. This storys ending was a total let down and most of the time was just Amitabh saying ‘look over there’ for about 10 minutes. Quite a boring and anti-climatic story.
  3. Story 2: Arjun Rampal plays a man whos car has just broken down and has to go into this big old house to use the phone to call a mechanic. This is where he meets Bipasha Basu. I found this story the best by far, it got me a bit scared in places and had a really good ending. Both Arjun and especially Bipasha were creepy in it.
  4. Story 3: Sunil Shetty & Sonali Kulkani play a couple that gets an expected guest one day from a wierd salesmen played by Rajpal Yadev. An insurance salesmen trying to sell life insurance to Sunil. It has an ironic twist at the end, but all round was quite stupid and not scary at all.
  5. Story 4: Anil Kapoor plays a filmmaker about to make his first horror film so is off to see the shooting location at Khandala. On the way there he meets a strange yet beautiful girl, Mallika Sherawat, who needs a lift there as well. At times i found Mallika quite scary so was totally disappointed with the twist at the end and to be blunt was just stupid.
  6. Story 5: Randeep Hooda plays a man driving along the road at night and then sees a woman on the road. He goes over to her but finds himself petrified. He wakes up the next morning charged with the murder of a man. This story is not scary, but is quite interesting. So at least it has that going for it.
  7. Story 6: For me probably packed with the most scary bits involves 5 children being lost in the woods after trekking so they go into this old ladies house where she tells them the scary stories. I found the grandmother quite chilling and I found some moments involving the children quite scary. So this story would have been my 2nd pick for most scary out of all the stories and this one is an overarching story that goes for the whole movie.

Overall Score: 1.5/5 Hairy Anil Kapoors – Darna Zaroori Hai has a couple of chilling moments and some good story twists but most of them are a major let down. More cheap thrills and comedic moments then any decent scary moments. Highlights of the film are the Arjun Rampal & Bipasha Basu story, some comedic moments and the Grandmother’s story. Overall though a pretty big waste of time that is luckily quite short.

January 2, 2008 at 1:47 pm 1 comment

Maine Gandhi Ko Nahin Mara (2005)

Name: Maine Gandhi Ko Nahin Mara (I Did Not Kill Gandhi)

Starring: Anupam Kher, Urmila Matondakar & Parvin Dabas and Special Appearances by Boman Irani & Waheeda Rehman

Director: Jahnu Barua

Language: Hindi

Did I watch this recently? Yes

Synopsis:

Uttam Chowhury (Anupam Kher), eminent author and professor of Hindi literature at the University of Bombay now lives the quiet serene life of a retiree with his daughter Trisha (Urmila Montondkar) and youngest son. Life was good until he gradually began losing his memory. At first what is described as ‘old age’ soon becomes evident is much more and is diagnosed with Dementia (a form of Alzheimers). When his dementia leads him into believing that he killed Gandhi drastic steps must be taken by his supportive family in an attempt to cure his delusion and keep him out of a hospital asylum.

Review:

Maine Gandhi Ko Nahin Mara came out in 2005 with a whimper and left in silence at the box office but luckily this poignant film was not all forgotten. It still managed to receive critical acclaim with Anupam Kher winning a special jury award at the National Film Awards and Urmila Matondkar won Best Actress award for her performance. But somehow i wish the mainstream audience appreciated this film more, its truly original (especially for bollywood) and a quality movie that people should watch for Anupam alone. But be mindful, its not your every run-of-the-mill bollywood film. It has no music, its thought provoking (rather then just plain ‘feel good’) and most of the time realistic. But its exactly the kind of experimentation that is good to see once and a while in Bollywood especially considering its distributed by Yash Raj one of the most commercial powerful distributors and producers in Bollywood. This movie was definitely the starting trend of Yash Raj’s experimentation with niche cinema.

Anupam Kher plays Uttam, the retired Hindi professor who does not know it yet but has succumbed to dementia (a form of Alzheimers which is a degeneration of the brain). His loving Daughter Trisha, played by Urmila Matondkar, starts to get worried when he begins to forget names, where he is, what happened the day before and even that his wife has died. Things go from bad to worse when Uttam starts to blur reality with fiction and believes that he killed Gandhi.

The true strength of this film is Anupam. You can tell he has put so much love and effort into this film and character and it really comes across on screen. Its extremely rare to find an actor like Kher who has done 200+ films and who can do both comedy and drama with such ease. A truly powerful performance and one of the best i have seen him do. He really showcases his talents in this film from the confusion, to pleas of innocence, the loving father, the scared prisoner he really does them all with such passion its hard to forget his performance. I’m sorry to see he didn’t gain the award for best actor in 2005 which of course went to Amitabh Bachchan in a similar role in Black (2005) involving Alzheimers.

Other strengths of this film lay in the cinematography and special mention for the background score. Considering the movie had no music, it was more then made up for by the score of the film. It just perfectly matched the ambiance and emotion of the scenes, so its good to see when they aren’t creating songs they are still focusing on the strength of the score to create emotion and add to scenes. Other mention I have to give goes to Urmila Matondakar. I’m not really at all a fan of Urmila but then i watch films like Satya (1998), Pinjar (2003) & Ek Hasina Thi (2004) and i’m reminded exactly why people consider her a good actress. I wish she gets better roles then Bas Ek Pal & RGV Ki Aag cause judging by this movie its a total waste of her talents.

All performances in the film were outstanding with the one exception of the youngest son ‘Karan’ played by an actor called Addy. I’m not sure if its the character or the actor i dislike but i definitely got quite annoyed at times by the one note whiny acting. It could have been a character with alot of depth but instead was completely wasted. Checking by his filmography he has luckily not done a movie since. Bomani Irani also is over the top but then again he is playing an actor! Waheeda Rehman plays a small role that unfortunately was too small for her to show off her talent.

There is heavy Gandhian symbolism in this film but i think in terms of executing the Gandhi messages it was not all that well done and was weakly integrated. I think if i had to choose a film that really tackled the Gandhian philosophy and trying to teach the audience about Gandhi, i would chose without question Lage Raho Munnabhai (2006). I know that it was a comedy and this is a drama so they are quite different in their premise, but as someone who is not that familiar with Gandhi I felt that Lage Raho Munnabhai taught me so much more about what he stood for and the issues associated with present day Gandhism. Though its a very good idea to show Uttam’s gradual erosion of his memory in the present like the erosion of Gandhi’s principles in todays society, but beyond that I feel i didn’t feel the full power of their intended message.

There was strong emphasis on establishing the connection between Gandhi and Uttam that i feel they lost focus on what was truly good to see in this film. I mostly felt the film when they focused on the children and Uttam’s journey into dementia. The complex emotions of sadness, frustration, denial and confusion were for me the things that made this film, not the execution of the Gandhi issues. There is a court scene in the second half where the children and doctor try to stage a court room drama so Uttam can be convinced he did not kill Gandhi. This is where i kind of lost interest. It was too far fetched for me considering this is supposed to be a realistic take on the disease. But it was the strongest scene at least for conveying the Gandhi message but i wouldn’t miss it if the whole last half hour was cut and spent more time integrating the Gandhi message better.

Last issue i had with the film was the length. The story was quite thin so i really didn’t think it needed to be 2 hours considering there wasn’t much to the story. It would have been much better if they kept it to the 1.5 hour mark. Or at least add a bit more to the story so the pacing didn’t feel so slow.

Overall Score: 3.5/5 Hairy Anil Kapoors – A very good watch if you want to see something different in Bollywood. Engagingly emotional scenes, Anupam’s fantastic portrayal of Uttam and Urmila touching journey to help her father all combine to give many viewers their dosage of realistic, thought provoking and quality cinema. However it experiences issues with slow pacing, i’m unsatisfied with the courtroom drama and not all the Gandhi messages were well executed. However the lack of attention this film received in 2005 means i encourage people to watch it for the growing trend of cinema in Bollywood and of course for Anupam Kher.

January 1, 2008 at 10:59 pm 2 comments


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