Posts filed under ‘Excel God Reviews’

Life in a… Metro (2007)

Name: Life in a…Metro

Starring: Shiney Ahuja, Shilpa Shetty, Kay Kay Menon, Konkona Sen Sharma, Irfan Khan, Sharman Joshi, Kangna Ranaut & Dharmendra

Director: Anurag Basu

Language: Hindi

Did I watch this recently? Yes

Synopsis: 8 people living within Mumbai, all connected. Rahul (Sharman Joshi) is working as a call centre He silently loves his boss, Neha (Kangna Ranaut). A smart young woman who has made it up the ranks in a very short time. And hard work is not her only secret but her affair with her boss, Ranjeet (Kay Kay Menon). Ranjeet is married to Shikha (Shilpa Shetty). They decided Shikha she should stay back at home and take care of the house and the kid. So Ranjeet ventured out on his quest for money and success� and forgot his family somewhere on the way.

Neglected by an indifferent husband and bogged down by family chores, Shikha is soon attracted to a maverick in Akash (Shiney Ahuja). Akash is a struggling theatre artist and Akash and Shikha’s love blossoms. Shikha’s sister and Neha’s room-mate, Shruti (Konkona Sen Sharma) works in at Radio Mirchi. In her 30s and still a virgin, shes desperate to get married. She is dreamy eyed about her RJ, Wishy K. Her boss hooks her up with Wishy K. While she also meets Debu (Irfan Khan) through a matrimonial site. Hates him. But Debu, an ordinary man, is ready to marry her. Her affair with Wishy K blossoms. Amol (Dharmendra) is a 70 year old man who’s returned to India after 40 years to spend last few years of his life with his first love, Vaijanti. This a movie which looks at 8 peoples life, in a metro.

Review

I was really looking forward to seeing Life in a metro. Over the last year quite a few people have mentioned it as one of their favourite movies of 2007. For me it seemed original, contemporary and to be full of great performances by many stars i really love. In many ways I got my wish. It was very contemporary, I realised that in the first 10 minutes when i heard mentions of sex and the Mumbai city settings. I also got to watch some great performances and memorable scenes especially thanks to Konkona Sen Sharma, Irfan Khan, Kay Kay Menon and surprisingly Shilpa Shetty. In fact I could not say enough how much I loved Konkona and Irfan in this movie. Their scenes and characters were fantastic! Even the pop-rock music nicely flowed between the scenes of the city.

So where did it go wrong?

Sadly despite the movies merits, my love for this film gets bogged down by the fact it has a significant portion of the film copied directly from a previous film. Only two weeks ago I borrowed out a Hollywood classic called “The Apartment” (1960) with Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine. When i started to watch Life In a Metro i was very upset to discover that the Kay Kay Menon, Shilpa Shetty, Sharman Joshi and Kangna Ranaut stories were all ripped off from Apartment. When I say ‘ripped off’, I don’t mean “inspired by”. As having seen the Apartment only a few weeks before I can say that Life In A Metro ripped off almost completely the storyline and dialogue. Even some of the jokes were taken directly from the Apartment but Sharman Joshi is no Jack Lemmon. The only difference is they focused on the wife side of the marriage (Shilpa Shetty’s character). In the Apartment there was no focus on the Boss’s wife, but other then that the differences between the Apartment and Life in a Metro stop there.

*Sigh*…I really wished to get passed the fact it was a remake, but it was just so directly copied that i felt i was watching an inferior copy of the film. Not only that someone has also informed me that some of the music was copied. Which is no surprise considering its Pritam, but still it just aided in my disappointment finding out that the film was not as original as i hoped it would be. But luckily I haven’t heard the original music so I wasn’t so annoyed by knowing the music was copied. Also people have said one of the scenes was copied from “For Love or Money” but luckily I haven’t seen that film either.

But the film is not without merit, it was still overall a nice timepass thanks to the subplots and strong performances.

Leaving the unoriginality of some of the movie behind, it has several points that make this movie a nice timepass. For me the Konkona Sen Sharma and Irfan Khan storyline was the highlight of the movie for me. Debu (Irfan Khan) is 35, has been looking for a wife for a long time and is a bit wierd. Shruti (Konkona Sen Sharma) is 30 and desperate to get married. Although she meets Debu, she doesn’t like him – instead she dreams of an ideal man such as her boss is Wishy K.

For me Konkona and Irfan have an abnormal pairing which is why I think I liked it. Their storyline was different, humourous and I think also teaches a good lesson to us girls (that sometimes the right man for us is the ordinary man before us, not the dream guy as they don’t realistically exist). Their characters are so real and its just hard not to fall in love with Debu and Shruti.

There are several strong scenes between Kay Kay Menon and Shilpa Shetty that make me want to take back whatever bad things I have said about Shilpa in the past. Some of their scenes are the most believable and intense of the film and Anurag does a superb job extracting these performances from them. I also have to applaud Anurag Basu for being able to direct all the film’s stories together. Often with these multiple storyline movies that can fall flat due to the assembly of the stories together – either feeling rushed or too choppy. I didn’t feel any of the stories felt rushed, they just seemed to interlink and relate to each other with ease which i’m sure takes some effort. Also the technical elements of Life in a metro such as the cinematography is A-Class.

For me the weaker performances in this film were Shiney, Kangna and Sharman Joshi. I enjoyed Kangna Ranaut and Shiney Ahuja in Gangster but here i felt they were just bland. Also I’m yet to see Kangna where she doesn’t play someone mentally unstable, its starting to get boring seeing her play the same character all the time.

Overall Score: 3/5 Hairy Anil Kapoors – Overall Life in a Metro is a nice timepass. I loved watching the Irfan Khan and Konkona Sen Sharma storyline and also Kay Kay Menon and Shilpa Shetty put in some solid intense performance. Basu excels in the technical aspects of the film and manages to nicely balance all the storylines (which is a huge achievement). Problem for me and the movie lies in a significant portion of the film being directly copied from “The Apartment” and some of the bland performances by Kangna and Shiney. Basu also tries to hard to create some high drama, which doesn’t always pay off for him. But at 2 hours its a pretty good timepass to watch for some engaging subplots, pop-rocking music and some intense scenes.

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April 24, 2008 at 1:20 pm 3 comments

Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam (1999)

Name: Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam (Straight from the heart)

Starring: Aishwarya Rai, Salman Khan, Ajay Devgan, Zohra Seghal & Helen

Director: Sanjay Leela Bhansali

Language: Hindi

Did I watch this recently? Yes

Review:

Please be mindful of spoilers. So if you really don’t want to be spoiled about the film, just skip to the end overall score

Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam (straight from the heart) is a movie which resembles Bollywood closest to its purest form. I say purest form in the way that Bollywood is known for, in terms of colour, dancing, songs, heightened emotions, extravagant costumes and jewellery, 3 hour long films, parent drama, love triangles, manly heroes and pretty heroines. It is Sanjay Leela Bhansali at his best and it was this movie that set the standard for his future magnum opus Devdas.

Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam is the story of Nandini (played by Aishwarya Rai). Nadini is a fiercely independent and beloved only daughter of a famous folk singer. One day a half-indian boy called Sameer (Salman Khan) comes from Italy to their house in Rajasthan to learn singing off her father. Sameer is joyful, fun, romantic, good looking and soon Nandini and Sameer fall in love. But little do they know while they keep their love secret, Nadini’s parents have already arranged her marriage to a quiet and dark man named Vanraj (Ajay Devgan) who falls for Nadini during one of her dancing performances. Sameer is soon banished from the house and leaves for Europe where he hopes one day Nadini will follow him. Vanraj and Nadini marry but she is so depressed during their marriage that Vanraj takes Nadini to Italy to reunite her with her past lover Sameer. Soon Nadini must choose between her youthful lover and her dutiful husband.

I’m writing this review after seeing Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam for the third time. Twice, a couple of years ago, and now this time. I am STILL conflicted who i think she should have chosen in the end or which long guy i like best. The two relationships are very different. In fact they probably juxtapose each other as they both are almost opposite. Sameer (Salman) is joyful, fun, the life of the party, good looking, great singer – everything one could want in a lover. But Nandini (Aishwarya) and Sameer (Salman) relationship is filled with immaturity. After she accidently slaps him she apologises and apoligises but he stamps off to his room and locks himself in it like a little boy. But their relationship is full of energy, chemistrty and fun. While Vanraj (Ajay) and Nandini has a more mature relationship. Vanraj is dark coloured (and not the best looking), a bad singer, quiet but something he has in common with Sameer is he is a very nice man. When Vanraj finds out that Nandini has another lover he doesn’t get in a huff and lock himself in a room, he deals with the problem head on and makes a decision. Their relationship is alot less joyful and eventful but they still appreciate each other on a more mature and developed level then the gayity and fun of Sameer. She would probably find joy and love in conversations with Vanraj, seeing how he acts rather then how much fun she can have with him.

Either way because they are both so nice (no clear bad guy) it makes me conflicted. I like how Sameer seems like alot of fun and Vanraj seems boring. In fact first time i saw it i cried my eyes out cause of the ending. But this is probably my youthful outlook on it. I originally didn’t like Vanraj at all but the couple of years since i last saw this film i’ve been swaying more toward Vanraj and finding Sameer’s youthfulness more exhausting and annoying.

But now looking back at the two relationships i think Vanraj gets it right when he tells Nandini “you don’t know what love is”. Was what Nadini and Sameer had infatuation or love? I still don’t know. I think that both relationships are love, but are different types of love. Which is the right love – the arranged and mature or the joyful and youthful? I’m sure there is cases in the world where both have worked very well for couples. I guess its up to the individual viewer which they prefer.

Nadini’s end choice between Vanraj and Sameer some see as a message of choosing between between youthful infatuated love or her duty as wife. In some ways the film supports the duty vs love theory when Nandini says to Sameer that she must go back to her husband to fulfil her duty. In this way she is giving her reasoning of choosing Vanraj as a sense of duty rather then love for her husband. But i believe her choice is more then a sense of duty and i don’t believe it when people simply say that it was just duty vs love. I think its more then just a choice between society obligations vs writing her own destiny. I believe its more a choice between her 1st love vs 2nd love then duty vs love. She loves both Sameer and Vanraj in very different ways and is conflicted who to chose. But it can be easily seen by the end she definitely has love for Vanraj that moves beyond purely dutiful love. Its like choosing between your first love and second love – which was real love? Its impossible to be able to say which one was real, but it can be clearly seen by the end that Nandini has made the decision of Vanraj based on her duties as a wife and falling in love for a second time. But people are more then free to disagree with me.

Even though Sameer and Nandini had a more immature love, it certainly shared a lot better chemistry then Nadini and Vanraj. You cannot escape how good the chemistry is between Aishwarya Rai and Salman Khan. Is it a result of their real life love life? The 1st half you get through because their chemistry is so believable you can’t help but cry in the end of the first half and second half for Sameer and Nandini. Although when Nandini and Vanraj are on the train together and have to snuggle to get past the ticket collector – that too is pretty steamy.

In terms of acting Aishwarya manages to have moments of acting talent in many of the scenes most of them include her post marriage scenes where her character shows maturity and depth. The ones that springs to mind is her first married night, the Tadap Tadap song, some of the later scenes when they are trying to find Sameer etc. In fact its mostly only the really emotional scenes where she screams her head off (when Sameer is leaving and just after flying the kites) that she really hurt my ears and where i cringe at the loudness of the acting. But i think she shows greater maturity in her acting (then her previous movies of that time being Aur Pyaar Ho Gaya & Jeans) when she has to demonstrate a subtle emotional scene. I think its when she has to go big with her acting is when she gets in trouble.

I think out of Ajay Devgan, Salman Khan and Aishwarya Rai, that Ajay had the best performance amongst them. He could be venerable and lovable to his wife, he could play hurt and angry. The character of Vanraj could have easily looked like a simple fool but Ajay manages to combine the venerability of Vanraj but also insert strength and dignity in the character where he doesn’t look like a total idiot for what he does. I must admit i have to give Vanraj respect for resisting the urge to slap Nadini during the beginning stages of their marriage and search for Sameer. She never showed any appreciation for what Vanraj was doing for her and really was only acting like a spoilt little girl. But luckily as they start to spend more and more time together her character really matures and becomes much nicer to Vanraj. I’m glad they did that so as to redeem her character for the audience.

Very special mention has to be made towards the music and choreography of this film. From the sultryAnkhon Ki Gustakhiyan‘, to the devastating ‘Tadap Tadap‘ (i encourage non-hindi speakers to get the song with subtitles), to the flamboyant dance number that showcases Aishwarya’s dancing talents ‘Nimbooda‘, the romantic duet ‘Chand Chupa Badal Mein‘ and lastly the other great dance number with Salman and Aishwarya which just makes you want to get up and dance ‘Dholi Taro Dhol Baaje‘. The music is literally up there in my top 10 favourite albums of all time and the choreography, costumes and picturisation does not let it down. All the songs, sets, costumes etc are done to grand opulence in a Sanjay Leela Bhansali film and it was Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam that set this future standard.

Editing could be much tighter. The first 1 hour is extremely drawn out with not alot happening in them other then showing the family fun moments. The one song i would cut would be the kite song, it added nothing to the movies but an extra 6 minutes.

Amongst all the drama though there were some light comedy moments. Zohra Seghal provided alot of the humour for me as the loveable grandmother. Other funny bits included when Nandini thought she could get pregnant by a kiss, Sameer always annoying her and Vanraj trying to do uncoordinated hungarian dancing (sorry italian dancing).

This is not a perfect movie – by a long shot. The theme is not anything new and the movie has many imperfections and problems with it. But in the Sanjay Leela Bhansali presentation i get so caught up in the drama and beauty of this film that I forget a large amount of things that might annoy me as the movie progresses.

Overall Score: 4/5 Hairy Anil Kapoors – Overall Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam is classic purest Bollywood. It has the drama, heightened emotions, grand costumes, dancing and one of the best musical albums. It even has a love triangle where three watches later i’m still trying to figure who i want her with. But of course with this type of movie the over the top experience may give many a headache, especially at times the characters of Sameer and Nandini. Another big boo boo for the movie is the fact their ‘Italy’ looks nothing like Italy but was in fact shot in Hungary. But hopefully despite its many flaws, you will walk away from this film with a couple of used tissues and a sense of grandeur and emotion about the film.

March 23, 2008 at 6:42 pm 8 comments

Hum Dono (1961)

Name: Hum Dono (Both of Us)

Starring: Dev Anand, Sadhana Shivdasani & Nanda

Director: Amarjeet

Language: Hindi

Did I watch this recently? Yes

Synopsis:Mahesh Anand is in love with a rich girl named Mita. After asking Mita’s father for her hand in marriage, Mita’s father reminds Mahesh how poor he is and unable to support his daughter with no job or ambition. So without informing Mita and leaving his ailing mother, Anand joins up in the fighting in WWII. There he meets Major Verma who is from a well-off family and both look-alike. When Major Verma is missing, believed dead during a war, Mahesh is asked to convey this news to his family. Upon arrival, he is mistaken for Major Verma. He meets with Verma’s mom, Mrs. Verma, as well as his ailing wife, Ruma. Unable to break the news of Verma’s death and shatter their fragile world, Mahesh gets mistaken as Verma and is welcomed home. This creates complications in Mahesh’s life as his sweetheart, Mita, thinks that Mahesh no longer loves her. Mahesh has trouble deciding what he shoud do.

Review

Hum Dono is the 1961 attempt by Dev Anand at a dual role. Although there will be many more golden oldie experts who can adequetely compare Dev Anand’s dual role performance, i have not seen alot of the great dual role movies to compare. But in isolation without comparison i think this is one of Dev Anands better films. I found the movie moving and engaging due to the screenplay and most of all the performances. I very rarely felt the actors over did the acting which is rare for the golden oldies. The movie had a more relaxed pacing and tone then a lot of the more dramatic films (more 70s era) where everyone screams their lines and every dramatic scene has the thunderbolts and drawn out close ups. It was nice to see this more nostalgic and relaxing movie where not every drama was played out so grandly.

Despite the fact i got caught up with the characters and liked the movie, the story itself was the biggest downfall in that it was utterly predictable. If it wasn’t for the scenes and characters being so engaging, then i probably would have been very bored by the predictable story. Even the occasional comedy of the lookalikes was so cliched that it didn’t bring any laughs. One thing that i was glad of was they didn’t draw out the drama involving the mistaken husband identity. I almost expected that to be played out for 3/4 of the film but luckily was only reduced to 45 minutes so then the ‘will he, won’t he tell the truth’ scenes were a bare minimum. So something i must commend about the film was the pacing in the second half was good, only the first half was dragging but i’ve almost come to expect that off all bollywood movies. If anything important actually happens in the first 45 minutes of the early bollywood films i almost die of shock.

Something that extremely adds to the relaxed yet emotionally moving tone of the film was the music. Never did i feel like the songs were just there for the sake of having more songs. Each song spoke about the characters feelings and interactions. Not just the normal comparing the girl to a flower, season or moon but something with a little more depth. “Abhi Na Jao Chhod Kar” is my personal favourite. It is a duet with Mohammad Rafi & Asha Bhosle. Its light and melodic, but sad once you know whats about to happen. Also “Allah Tero Naam, Ishwar Tero Naam”, a devotional song that is aided emotionally by the concurrent scenes in the movie. Its beautifully moving when you watch it in the film and is supposedly still quite often sung by Lata in her concerts and one she herself is very proud of to this day after the thousands of songs she has sung. Prabhu Tero Naam is another song that adds the emotions of the character through song.

Now for the acting – I’m not much of a fan of Dev Anand. He seems a bit of a sleeze nowadays, but watching his B&W films House No.44 and now Hum Dono i must say he is absoutely fine in his 50s-60s film. While for Hum Dono despite the predictable storyline, i really think he did a good job as both characters in his dual role. I’m not in a position yet to judge him based on other dual performances (such as Hema Malini in Sita aur Gita or Amitabh Bachchan in Don) but from what i saw i think he was able to distinguish his acting between both and you can fall for both characters predicaments.

But despite the fact Dev Anand was definitely the star of this film, i have found a new favourite actress of sorts. After watching Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam there was something alluring about Waheeda Rehman that made me want to rush out and get all her other good films. The same thing i have felt about Sadhana Shivdasani after seeing Hum Dono. She plays ‘Mita’, the rich girlfriend of Mahesh who gives up all her riches to look after his mother while Mahesh is at war. Sadhana has beauty, charisma and presence on the film reminds me of Waheeda (although i must say Waheeda still beats her if there was a competition). She reminds me of Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday, well of course the indian version. But in terms of the looks, class and elegance i would call Sadhana and Audrey very similar. I didn’t expect to be so taken back by Sadhana, considering her character doesn’t get a whole lot to do. Its my own opinion that Dev Anand’s character Mahesh does not treat her all that well in the film. She always seems to always come second on his priority list, despite the fact he says he loves her. But this love is rarely shown, which is a bit of a disappointment to me. But anyway i’m looking forward to seeing Sadhana eventually in ‘Woh Kaun Thi’ (1964) where she has a much bigger role and gets to sing ‘Lag Jaa Gale’ one of my favourite classic songs.

Although i prefer the love story between the husband and wife, Major Verma (Dev Anand) & Ruma (Nanda) there were some especially cute scenes. But i think Nanda performance has the personality of a wet mop in this film. Although i like the husband and wife scenes i feel she did very little to add to them. I know she is supposed to be the ailing devotional wife. I love how Major Verma is quite devotional to his wife (and of course vice versa) but i think in the emotional scenes or just the normal husband-wife discussion scenes she is missing something. be really emotional scenes but Nanda does not give back enough in the scenes. Its hard to explain what i found lacking in her performance, but she just does not give back enough in the scenes. Maybe i’m just badly comparing her to Sadhana, but even in the crying and whimpering scenes Sadhana wasn’t as boring as Nanda. I don’t know i just wasn’t feeling Nanda’s performance overall.

Overall Score: 3.5/5 Hairy Anil Kapoors – Overall it might not be an all time favourite because the movie is far too cliched and predictable to be special, but it was beautiful to watch it once thanks to the relaxing drama tone of the film, performance of the actors and music that only helps to add to the emotions of the scenes and characters.

Side note:

I love the cheap budget scenes for the WWII shots of Dev Anand. They took stock footage of WWII and inserted a face over with Dev Anand – a very funny cheap budget trick!

March 6, 2008 at 7:04 pm 7 comments

Do Anjaane (1976)

Name: Do Anjaane (Two strangers)

Starring: Amitabh Bachchan, Rekha, Prem Chopra & Pradeep Kumar

Director: Dulal Guha

Language: Hindi

Did I watch this recently? Yes

Synopsis:

Amitabh Bachchan stars as the good-natured Amit, who falls for the gorgeous and ambitious dancer Rekha (played by you-know-who). Their marriage cuts short her career, which Rekha blames Amit for. Amit (coincidence or not) falls victim to a coma-inducing train accident, and Rekha, egged on by a conniving businessman who was also Amit’s best friend. The best friend could always tell Rekha’s weakness and exploits it from the beginning. So egged on by the best friend, Rekha begins to pursue an acting career. The now-amnesiac Amit vows to put the pieces of his life back together, an ordeal that will involve singing, dancing, deceit, revenge, and yet another bout of amnesia!

Review:

When i first read the synopsis for Do Anjaane I thought of it as nothing more than another 70s movie with groovy clothes and a WTF storyline. It does in some ways have the WTF storyline – a man losing his memory twice. Amitabh’s character in this (Amit) is a bit like a bad tv. One minute you bang the TV and it gets the channel reception and next time you bang the tv it loses reception. Same thing for Amit who after one accident loses his memory, but after the second accident gains his memory back. Comedic to be sure, but do not think the rest of the film is as flimsy.

The movie is more then just your average 70s soapie storyline. It actually deals with serious and relevant issues – while of course doing the usual push of indian values to the viewer. The themes and issues explored are relatively bold, mature and relevant to even todays society where Indian women are conflicted between career and family. But don’t think that it is a broad minded and even look at that debate. The career seeking Rekha is mostly portrayed as evil (and does some very evil things) because she wants a career and security over a son. The movie makes some very good points, but overall i think the issue was not played out even handedly. Oh well it is bollywood, i’m just glad they even tried to attempt this kind of issue.

The title ‘Do Anjaane’ or in english ‘two strangers’ most likely refers to the fact that Amitabh & Rekha married in the movie without really knowing each other. He sees her dancing and then decides he wants to marry her as a result of his first attraction. They soon discover as soon as the nuptial night occurs that they both have very different wants out of life – she doesn’t want to be married with children but wants to be a famous dancer, rich and with power. He wants nothing more then a wife and to have children. He is happy to be poor as long as his family is happy and loved. Because of not knowing this about each other in the first place, they are really two strangers who are now in a marriage where they both want very different things. This of course inevitably leads to future problems.

This film has a good social message and i think was a product of its time where India was trying to push socialism against western capitalism. You could view Amitabh’s character (Amit) as the good indian husband who is happy to work for 500 rupees a month in the same job till he dies. Then there is Rekha who is always obsessed with looks and money, “paisa, paisa, paisa” as Amit says. She should be the good indian wife, happy to just stay at home being a doting wife and mother to her son. But she has career ambitions – shes the new age western woman. She wants to live beyond her means just for the sake of looking good to others. But Rekha becomes so obsessed with money that she loses sight of what is important in her life – the love of her husband and son. She was so blinded by her ambitions she never saw what was right in front of her. As the beatles once wisely said ‘money can’t buy you love’. So in some ways i’m sympathetic, in most ways not. She did have to dance since she was young cause her family is so poor, so its only understandable she has a drive to be well-off. But the way in which Rekha tried to pursue her career and riches was in such a way, even in todays perspective you can’t pitty such a harsh woman who doesn’t even show love on her child.

I’m guessing by the fact the characters are called Amit (for Amitabh) and Rekha (for Rekha) that they were always the actors in mind to play the characters. Maybe thats why they are so believable together. Amitabh does a good job at playing the poor guy in love with his new wife, who would do anything for her. Rekha in the first half was mostly a bitchy character but there was splatters of sympathy for her character in some of the marriage scenes. Like when she fires her dancing instructor cause they don’t have enough money or when she wants to give the best friend back the pearls he bought her after Amitabh gets jealous over the present. But in the second half I lost all sympathy for her.

The biggest let down of this film for me was the ending. I felt the last 1.5 minutes was a major ‘cop out’, they should have left it at the airplane scene. I have a feeling the director changed it after fearing how audiences would act after a sad ending, cause it really feels like the other ending was quickly shoved in after. There were only a couple of songs and the only one that sticks to my mind is the father and son song. Other then that they are largely forgettable.

    Overall Score: 3/5 Hairy Anil Kapoors – Overall the film has an engaging and unconventional storyline. The movie attempts to address several social issues, but i feel they have not been even handed and have been weak in the delivery. Amitabh as the sympathetic protagonist is extremely moving (especially in his father & son scenes), but only Rekha could do such a convincing job as the emotionally devoid wife. Overall its a good attempt at the issues but the delivery is fairly weak especially due to the ending which annihilated any chance of providing a powerful social message.

    Couple more pictures:

    March 2, 2008 at 10:39 am 1 comment

    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.

    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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