Look Who’s Calling

All I knew about ‘Karthik Calling Karthik’ before I entered the movie hall was that it’s about a loser who turns his life around. I fell in love with the opening credits, and then, the film just sort of rolled.
Karthik is a hard worker, but his work’s never noticed or appreciated. Karthik’s life is made up of an angry, domineering boss, indifferent coworkers who take credit for his achievements and a frustrating landlord. The fact that his lady love, Shonali, never notices him and is dating his coworker, doesn’t exactly make it all a rosy picture.  Things change when Karthik decides to stand up for himself and confront the boss. Karthik, has lost everything he had, but then a phone call shakes up his life. He manages to turn his life around and emerges a winner. He has a great job, a big pay packet and the love of his life is now his girlfriend. But who’s this Karthik who has been calling Karthik?
That’s the premise of the movie. The plot cleverly unfolds, although through the first half, you are convinced it’s all predictable. I was convinced that the whole movie would be about Karthik rising up and proving he’s not a loser. But I was mistaken.
The strength of the plot lasts only if the audience doesn’t know what to expect next. Therefore I won’t say anything else about the story. But I will say this, it grips you, makes you impatient even.
Farhan Akhtar is a brilliant actor and he’s proved it on prior occasions but Deepika really surprises you with a sincere effort to emote.
The loose ends get tied up in a rather clichéd manner toward the end and the epilogue is rather unnecessary. But all in all, I found the film entertaining and totally worth a watch…
My verdict: 4.5 on 5…
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And he made it happen!

‘What is it about cinema that makes you Indians go mad?’ my British friend once asked me. ‘What makes it such a religion?’

I honestly didn’t have an answer, but I felt it too. I still feel it when I buy tickets to an SRK movie or when I watch Dev D, but I can’t explain it. Maybe the answer lies in the way this industry originated, probably the madness, the passion was well sowed into it back in the days where it began.

Where did it all begin? Everybody knows Dadasaheb Phalke was the pioneer of Indian cinema. But you have to watch this story- the story of how the idea of making a moving picture (which we merrily have abbreviated to movie) completely possessed him, the story of how his vision helped establish what we today know as the largest film industry in the world. This story will make you understand and appreciate the madness of being ‘filmy’.

Harishchandrachi Factory, is a simple Marathi film that tells you the story of how Indian cinema was born. It begins in Girgaum, Mumbai on the 14th April 1911 when Dadasaheb Phalke chances upon a moving picture exhibit while running away from a keen investor. He gets so excited by the concept that he decides to go against all odds, sell his furniture, belongings etc. to explore and study this new form of art. He travels to London, acquires the equipment, learns the horrors of casting, discovers ‘method acting’, gets his wife to take on the role of developing the film, manages to release the film and when the theater is empty, the man discovers film promotions and marketing gimmicks to get the box office ringing. It’s such a thrill to see these things that we crack our heads over today, being effortlessly thought out by this one man, just out of passion and a vision.

Paresh Mokashi tells us this story in the Phalke format- simple scenes, linear narrative, jarring harmonium in the background, focusing completely on the story.This style of filmmaking could also be credited to his theater background, but that’s digressing.  It isn’t a path breaking film in terms of how it’s made. One could almost call it a docu-drama, but at the end of the film, when Phalke rejects an offer to move to London to stay back and establish filmmaking as an industry in India, you realize that the fact that you sit in this multiplex, watching this film distributed over a satellite network (a technology pioneered by Sanjay Gaekwad, an Indian) because of that one decision. I think this feeling is the reason why this film is made, and that is exactly why you must watch it.

Watch this film, for cinema, for the love of cinema and to just feel glad that it all happened. Perosnally, I can’t imagine my life without Indian films and I feel grateful to the fact that a potential investor chased Dadasaheb on 14th April 1911 and to escape this investor Dadasaheb chanced upon the tent screening moving pictures and out of curiosity, he spent 2 annas on a ticket… 2 annas well invested…

New York I Love You; The Film, Not So Much

NYC to me is a city glorified by films and music. Many directors have romanced this city on celluloid. Quite a few legendary TV series have had the city as a character by itself and not a mere location. New York. It has cinematic magic glued all over it. So when you happen to be in New York when a film called ‘New York, I love you’ releases, you can’t help but be a little excited.

On a pleasant evening, I coaxed my heavily pregnant friend to come see this rendezvous on celluloid. A rendezvous with a city that I have been much fascinated by. Unfortunately, we came out unimpressed. The stories were predictable, random and sometimes, one couldn’t help but wonder if the stories had anything to do with New York in the first place. I mean how is chatting up a woman over a cigarette, a New York phenomenon?

One would expect to see the Empire State Building or the Statue of Liberty or Central Park, Brooklyn Bridge weaved into the stories beyond being mere locations or part of some random montage. Honestly, if it wasn’t for the montage, you’d never realise this film was about New York, leave alone be a tribute to the city. Or how is a squabbling old couple walking down a street innately New York like? Distanced couples rediscover each other all over the world and the musician who has to read Dostovesky could have been in Moscow for all I care? Where is New York in these stories?

I feel no New York love in this one, I don’t see anything remotely fascinating or remotely ‘New Yorkish’ about these films made by a bunch of noted filmmakers and written by some very awesome people. I loved Paris Je T’aime. I loved how the soul, the identity of Paris was weaved into each segment with much love. That love, that soul is simply missing in this one.

Btw, my sandals broke and I had to walk home barefoot! Couldn’t help but think about Neil Simon’s play, ‘Barefoot In The Park’. Had he written something for this ‘tribute’, I am sure he’d have created a fiery little story that would do justice to the madness that is New York City. Dad, I am sure you’ll agree!

 

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RIP MJ

When you wake up, you happen to check facebook for birthdays and you read RIP Michael Jackson in your timeline, you know it’s a sad sad sad day. I went numb. How can he die? He used to live in Neverland, for crying out loud. No no no! But then the news channels confirmed it and I couldn’t help but shed a few tears. Michael Jackson was my hero not for a year or two, not a teenage obsession. He was ‘the’ dude, I’ve always thought. Laser Discs (they never caught on) had just arrived and dad bought a player and got the Dangerous LD for us to watch. His music videos, tours, were all covered in that video and that’s how my love affair with the man’s music began.

Our generation might have seen many pop icons, influences, but what MJ did to our generation is significant. His whacky videos, his gyrating moves, his expressiveness. Those things made us… Everybody wanted to dance like him everybody wanted to have his style, his panache. He was the ‘shit’, as they say.

His music ranged from pop to rock to soul. And it really did rock the late 80s and 90s. When he sang the Free Willy theme, he actually formed a bond with the whale, Keiko. He poured his soul into his music. He spoke about dangerous girls, racial discrimination, burning up the dance floors but he also told us to make the world a better place. He made us believe in making an effort to make sure the world was a happier place for the coming generations. But that said, his personal life was a complete mess. He married the King of RocknRoll’s daughter. He fathered illegitimate children. And the worse was when he was tried for pedophilia, in which he was found not guilty. And let’s leave that at that! Enigma, mystery and controversy, he lived a life full of it and yet he once famously said, “I’m just like anyone. I cut, bleed and get easily embarrassed”

MJ… He sure made the world a better place for you and for me and the entire human race with his music… There’s a place in my heart and I know that you are still rocking it in there. Because you will be alive in the millions hearts that learned to beat to your rhythm. Whatever the controversies, one cannot deny the fact that he leaves behind a legacy- his music.

R I P King Of Pop. You are not like anyone and there will be none like you.

Shivaji Raje Bhosale Leaves an Impression

The last film I saw was an English one about Parsis. Now, I dared myself to go and watch a Marathi film about ‘Marathi Manoos’ and it was a struggle (in a good way). Plaza cinema: house full, Chitra: house full, Fame Nakshatra: house full.

“Go to a non-Marathi area!” Mom suggested. So off I went to Cinemax Sion and managed to grab the tickets. The ticket vendor actually spoke to me in marathi! Odd, because everywhere me and the brother insist speaking in Marathi, we are met with a ‘samajh mein nahi ayaa’!

With bestest friend and best friend in tow, I entered the theatre to watch a Marathi film after almost a year! (The last one I watched was an impressive ‘Checkmate’, but that’s for later)

The film starts with a sorry tale of a common man. A marathi man working as a bank clerk, who dreams of buying a nice shirt and longingly eyes the pomfret in the fish market, but gets shooed away. He cringes and accepts insults and shuts his eyes in shame when someone calls him ‘ghati’. That’s Dinkar Bhosale (Sachin Khedekar) for you. His life is depressing. He lives in a run down mansion with a nagging wife, a struggling daughter who can’t break into the industry because of her downmarket surname and a son whose career is one the line because of his CET result. Enter a builder who’s trying to acquire Bhosale’s palace, and then there’s trouble in (not-such-a) paradise.

His daughter wants to change her surname to Chopra because she’s denied a role absed on her surname, the son is upset because he has to give up his engineering dream for the lack of money for the donation.

Bhosale shuns his Marathipana, curses ‘Para-prantiyas’ and in a very impactful scene, shuns the founders of Maharashtra and its culture. This scene stood out to me because the statues of Ambedkar, Phule, Tilak glare helplessly from their statued busts at Bhosale as he rants on being Maharashtrian, ghati and being denied the right to live a peaceful life.

What follows is a bit vague. Shivaji maharaj (Mahesh Manjrekar) takes it upon himself to free Bhosale of his meek attitude. Bhosale being from the Bhosale family that Shivaji Maharaj himself belongs to, is given the baton to awaken the Marathi Manoos. Bhosale completely changes, goes around threatening ‘Muskatat Marin’ (I will slap your face) and convinces people that he is not suppressible. He takes on corrupt BMC officials, policemen, politicians, builders and transforms a Don, even!

In his small victories, the audience rejoices. Claps and whistles were just raining throughout the film. When a distraught Shivaji Mharaj says, “Thank God you don’t pray that Shivaji should be born but in another state!” many members of the audience stand up and clap hard! This is the film’s victory. It captivates the audience, holds them close and expresses an emotion that resonates with them.

Many people assume this an anti-Non-Maharasthtrian movie. It’s not. The movie solely tells the marathi manoos to get up and be pro active. It doesn’t slander any Non-Maharashtrian. Considering its context, it would have been easy for the director to get carried away. But he stays with the concept and plot. Of course, the preachy bit toward the end was a little cheesy, but that’s ok.

Makarand Anajpure as Raiba is priceless! Bharat Dabholkar as Afzal Khan is convincing. Watch out for many other cameos and guest apperances by celebrated Marathi artistes like Reema Lagoo as Jijau, Ajit Bhure as the Chief Minister, Kishor Pradhan as the band manager etc.

All in all, it’s a good film. It captivates, it entertains and it leaves an impact. Not bad Mr. Manjrekar, Marathi Paul Padate Pudhe!

Title: Me Shivajiraje Bhosale Boltoy

Dir: Santosh Manjrekar

Cast: Sachin Khedekar, Mahesh Manjrekar, Makarand Anajpure, Sucheta Bandekar

My verdict: Worth a watch, but make sure you watch it in a theatre where you can enjoy the audience. Watch out for dialogues written to induce an applause!

Rating: 3.5 /5!

For Parsis, By Parsis and Of Parsis

A stellar star cast, a celebrated screenwriter who turns director and some exciting promos convince you Little Zizou is worth a watch. If you’re like me and you grew up in a Parsi locality mesmerised by the dhansaks, gymkhanas and Agiaries, you will certainly be drawn to this film.

The film, largely performed by a Parsi cast, tells the story set within the confines of very real issues faced by the community. We see the stories through the eyes of young Xerxis Khodaiji, who is rather fascinated by the footballer Zidane, talks to his dead mother’s picture and observes the world with a humorous angle.

Be it his father who’s a spiritual healer or the father’s assistant or his father’s arch enemy Boman Pressvala , each character is very ‘Bawa’ and extremely quirky. But the plot is just so fickle that the characters are the only hope you’ve got. That just puts too much pressure on the characters. The story is very random. It doesn’t move for quite sometime and by the interval you give up hope of it ever moving.

That said, the film captures Parsi lifestyles impeccably, but why shouldn’t it everybody’s a Parsi in the film. The performances are awesome and Imaad Shah is fantastic.

Frankly, I enjoyed it the most because  of the familar locales of Dadar Parsi Colony and the little things that made me wonder what being Parsi was all about… So, I’d say watch ‘Little Zizou’ only if you’re a Parsi or have some connections to this adorably insane yet elegant species of people.

PS: Why is the film called ‘Little Zizou’ again, my daft brain didn’t quite catch that!

Dostana- Different and fun, but not quite awesome!

Dostana has all the makings of a masala hindi movie, but I was pleasantly surprised that it’s a completely new Bollywood experience! Hot guys, hot girls, beautiful locales, an OTT Punjabi Mom, gorgeous designer clothes (minimal but beautiful!), dhinchak music and I can go on and on.

The plot is nothing new. Two guys falling for the same girl has been done to death but this time it’s different! There are two men vying for an apartment and are ready to go to any length to get it. Kunal and Sam fake a romantic gay love story to move into a plush Miami apartment. The hitch? They share it with a super sexy Neha, who works in a fashion magazine, but has the ever so slight makings of an Indian girl (She doesn’t share an apartment with guys because of valid reasons and also respects her deceased parents’ sentiments). A few songs, a few twisted comic situations and major emotional turmoil later, the boys fall in love, not with each other silly, with Neha.
Kahani mein naya twist is the silent, intense and confident Abhi, who transforms from mean, hard to impress boss to a sweet, simple guy who adores Neha. Which of the guys’ heart is about to be shattered? Will Neha forgive Kunal and Sam for the web of lies they’ve spun?

The plot is obvious, but the way it’s presented is fully entertaining. Abhishek is absolutely brilliant as the male nurse Sam and John is just concentrating on looking hot and succeeds (Oh! How hot he looks!). Priyanka’s performance is awesome but with John & Abhishek’s chemistry, she is sidelined
(maybe it’s just that John’s yellow trunks made a far better impact on my oh-so-feminine mind than Piggy Chops’ golden bikini)

Why must you watch Dostana:
– John’s butt
-John’s abs
-Abhishek’s effortless portrayal of a loving, gay boyfriend.
-Delicious beaches of Miami!
-Music that’s sure to set your foot tapping and the videos will almost inspire you to get up and dance
-Just for fun guys!

Questions I’d like to ask Tarun Mansukhani:
-Ummm… I don’t see how they end up bonding! Coffee, shopping sprees and stuff are regulars! Why weren’t a scene or two dedicated to show their inter-dependence beyond sharing the house? The song (Jaane Kyun) would have been awesome after establishing their friendship
-How do the dudes manage falling for Neha? What is it about her that makes them go crazy? We know Neha is ambitious, we know she’s sweet n caring but what beyond that? I want to know what are the little things she likes, dislikes etc.
-What’s with the hamming and corny giri? KKHH dance in the rain scene replayed! Really?!?!
-is Neha really daft? Doesn’t she get the vibe? Whether Gay or not, when guys are whisking you off to a surprise romantic setting and doing super special things, you kinda figure or at least question the motives!
-Where’s the magic gone from movies? I wanted to feel the magic I still feel watching KKHH or a DDLJ!

Dostana lacks a plot, has a lot of loopholes and doesn’t exactly make you feel like hugging your best friend pronto! (Remember how you felt after Dil Chahta Hai??)
But wait, it’s not an absolute waste of money or time. It’s worth a try. Keep your brains aside, take a chill and enjoy the first (almost) movie that openly talks about homosexuality even though it’s all humored. At least its not poking fun at a gay side character by dressing them up as half woman half man, right? This is a huge step for Indian cinema, I truly believe.

Kudos: John and Abhishek! You need to be very secure about your sexuality to pull off a Kunal and Sam! And you guys look so good together! Bipasha and Ash will get jealous with the sizzling chemistry!

I am inspired: To go and dance to Desi Girl! And yeah go on a strict diet and exercise regime… everyone in the film looks hot! Except Kirron Kher and Sushmita Mukherjee, of course…