Drowned In Gulaal!

The timing of Gulaal’s release is just fantastic. Right after Holi and just before elections. Gulaal tells the story of a nobody, Dileep Singh. This nobody is a colourless, passionless character who is a student who looks like a professor. He’s straightforward and never challenges things that happen to him. He takes to the shadows of Rananjay Singh, a hot blood youth who doesn’t fear challenges- a ‘true’ Rajput. As Rananjay steps in to contest for the post of GS, the college turns into a battle field. In the fight for the post, two candidates put everything at stake. It is this fight for power that starts adding colour to our straightforward protagonist.

Gulaal’s story is multi layered and it unfolds itself. But the beauty is in the characters. Every character is complex and alive and it is through them that the story unfolds. The characters create the story and vice-versa, a give and take one rarely sees in Indian cinema. Kashyap’s Gulaal uses characters as a form of telling the story but his characters are also metaphors and symbols. Be it the John Lennon that hangs in Prithvibana’s neck or the dancer/beautician’s obsession with herself, or the Kiran who silently plucks the strings on her guitar as her brother decides the course of her life. Kashyap uses music, lyrics and musical metaphors brilliantly. Of course the neon signs and the psychedelic paintings at Dileep’s residence remind us of Dev D.

When Mr. Kashyap says this is his angriest film till date, you believe it. He uses every possible metaphor to bring out the anger, frustration and disappointment that he feels against the establishment or the system in which people become an establishment. The rendition of ‘Yeh Duniya Agar’ from Pyasa just takes this entire symphony to a climax, where you soak in the anger and you watch it helpless swallow and digest all that comes in its way. It takes me back to the original song, where Guru Dutt dies in a stampede at a function held in his honour and nobody recognises him. And here, we have Dileep, who wonders if he recognises himself as he walks down a street, wounded. It’s a similar ethos, but brilliantly executed in the context of Gulaal.

It depressed me to see an empty theatre on day 4 of this fabulous film. It didn’t deserve an empty theatre, I clapped after the film, for films like these need to be made. Films that use reality to tell a fictional story that is ever so cleverly crafted needs to be seen and appreciated. Overheard after the movie: Dude, Bhojpuri films are not as bad as they’re made out to be. This one was serious and all that! Right! I’m glad the theatre wasn’t as empty as this woman’s brain.

Cheers, Mr. Kashyap!

…Hmmn

I never knew what love was (not that I know now!) until I saw Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge! The day I watched the movie I fell in love. The guy was Raj, Raj Malhotra. It was the magic of the film and the magic of SRK.

Of course, the love of SRK has made do some crazy things including buying a car he endorses (Santro is zipping still and nobody’s complaining, so get that judgmental look off your face, NOW!).

Since the last two years, my singledom has been a cause of worry to all and when they ask me, my answer is, ‘No guy’s swept me off my feet!’ and I go into a dreamy smile and silently tell myself, ‘except SRK!’

People noticed this and started telling me I needed to get over SRK if I was to ever notice any other guy around. After all who can hold a candle to a superstar, right? So in my set of resolutions for the year 2009 I made a list of things for my ‘get-over-SRK’ mission. Here’s what I needed to do to stick to it.

  1. Not grin dreamily everytime a song related to Shah Rukh appears on TV/Radio or wherever.
  2. Avoid longingly looking at his pictures in the newspaper
  3. Stop buying the products he endorses (If they r awesome, as they mostly are, I will still buy them)
  4. Give up on dreaming about him randomly.
  5. Stop talking about how he’s the right one, he’s taken, so me being single is all fine!
  6. Stop looking for him on all airports, trains stations etc.

So yeah I have pretty much stuck to it, until my Goa trip happened. On the trip, nothing made me smile like a line or two from ‘Ruk Jaa’. I couldn’t stop analysing how he’s a ‘smart’ brand manager and not a repetitive actor and I realised that the man is a source of great joy in my life!

So yeah, I am not giving up on him. I will love him. And btw, I am now following him on twitter. So, any hopes of me getting over the S man are officially down the drain!

PS: Driving 650 kms in a day can bring out a lot of inane thoughts and somehow the fatigue gives you the freedom to say it out loud!

The Magic’s Gone

Anybody who knows me knows I eat, live and breathe movies. I enjoy an abstract French film as much as a grand Chinese picture. I dig dramatic sci-fi films as much as I adore romantic comedies that make you weep and smile at the same time. But when it comes Indian cinema there’s a different magic. It’s like speaking your mother tongue. It comforts you.

Once a year, when Shah Rukh Khan movie releases, I am all dreamy eyed. I love the man, have loved him since his TV (Circus) days. The so called ‘purist’ cinema lovers might sneer at me for saying this but I think Shah Rukh is talented and smart. He can do offbeat cinema (remember Anjaam, Maya Memsaab and Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa) and he carries off being the quintessential ‘Rahul’ who dances in Swiss valleys with a chiffon clad woman. Smartly enough, he’s realised that the way to the heart of the masses is through these dreamy ‘Yashrij’ish romances.

Of course, now that he’s been labelled the ‘King Khan’, he’s moved away from the typical romances and explored different genres of cinema. I believe that two of his best performances have been ‘Swades’ and ‘Chak De India’. In Swades he played the NRI who comes back to India and rediscovers his love for the ’Motherland’ and in Chak De he plays a fallen Hockey player who coaches an all girls team to play at the World Cup.

These off beat roles of his made me love the actor so much that with the promos of Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi, I nearly jumped out of my seat with excitement. I couldn’t wait to watch Shah Rukh play this simple man with a moustache, when we all know how far from this character the real SRK is. The tagline for the Aditya Chopra movie promised us an extraordinary love story and as a girl who grew up watching Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge, I believed it would be. In fact, for a long time I haven’t felt the magic at the movies.

As I settled into Rab Ne… I waited for the magic to strike me but… nothing. The story talks about how love can be beyond appearances and there’s this guy who just loves his wife. But, something’s missing! Something about the story is unconvincing.

You might say most Yashraj films are illogical and unrealistic but that’s ignored because there’s a certain dreamy haze that surrounds the movie. Rab Ne… tries to have a dreamy haze and yet attempts to give slight ‘realistic’ references. I drooled over the simple man Suri’s true love for his wife and the confused Jat ‘Raj’. He’s over the top, he hams and yet you like him. But eventually you start yawning. The story moves at an excruciatingly slow pace and you end up wondering where the love is. It almost ends up being a Balaji serial type of a love story.

So yes, every couple has an extraordinary love story, and this one had an extraordinarily boring one! Somebody please bring the magic back in films… until then, I’m settling for the Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge DVD.

We’re Just Good Friends!

‘A man and woman can never be friends!’ Harry tells Sally who staunchly disagrees. They prove the point by sharing an awesome friendship, but the inevitable happens. They fall in love! 

‘I am so lucky! I married my best friend,’ says Naina in Kal Ho Na Ho. Some of us do fall for our best friends and don’t get as lucky as Naina.

Take Reema’s case. She was very close to Varun who shared a lot of common interests with her. Both spent a lot of time together talking about anything and everything. ‘I guess nobody around us could understand that we were just good friends. They kept brainwashing us to realize there was something!’ finally Reema developed feelings for Varun and he wasn’t sure. They took their friendship to a new level but it was a disaster. ‘We were great as friends but our relationship sucked. I knew too much about him and expected too much too. It just ruined our beautiful equation!’ Reema admits sadly.

Sometimes, two individuals connect on a level that takes them beyond their gender differences. In fact, this male female mixture brings a newer and a fresher perspective to the relationship. ‘I love getting serious advice from my best friend. He’s a guy and sees things practically!’ Sandhya always tells me. I adore her relationship with her best friend but quite a few of their friends have tried and nudged them towards ‘the next big step’. They both know that their compatibility is limited to friendship and nothing else. But not everyone can sustain this friendly ‘advice’ business.

Both the friends have to be extremely clear, matured and focused to sustain the societal pressure. ‘People can easily manipulate your thoughts and create unwanted complications,’ says Sameer whose best friend refused to understand that two people loving each other as friends does not translate into being ‘in love’. He believes that we watch too many films and believe what they have to say.

It’s like a huge plan to make sure the friendships across genders do not remain where they are. I used to go to a school where every girl tied a rakhi on her guy friends’ hands. This prevented the teasing, winking and elbowing. I thought getting out of school would change that, but it still exists around me in a mutated form. Labelling your friendship with ‘brother’ tags might be super sad, but at least it shuts the people around you up.

‘It’s a very treacherous situation. If you feel the passion and stuff, sure go ahead and take the plunge. But if you’re just getting together because people suggest it, and there’s nothing better to do, think again!’ says Payal who’s fallen for her best friend and has been enjoying a super fun yet mature relationship for quite some time now.

Everybody’s story is different and you have to let friendship be. To quote Miranda Hobbes from Sex and the City ‘Only the two people in any relationship know what’s really going on and nobody else!’ So, while it’s awesome to be best friends with the love of your life it may not necessarily mean that your best friend is the love of your life! You may still take that step but remember it’s a huge risk. It works for many but if it doesn’t, you stand to ruin your relationship.

Let Harry love his Sally and let Rahul and Anjali live happily ever after. Don’t let films or people around you dictate the course of your relationship.

PS: I’ve changed names to avoid any old stinky sandals flying at me. Also, this is no ‘Dostana’ inspired post. I was working on this for two weeks, and now that I got the weekend to look away from CampusJunkie, I have put it together! Watch out for my own review of Dostana, tomorrow!

Golmaal Returns but disappoints

Golmaal, both the Amol Palekar as well as the recent Ajay Devgan one, is synomnymous with a laugh riot. So when a sequel to Rohit Shetty’s laugh riot Golmaal is released on Diwali, you walk in expecting to be tickled to laughter. Nah, you won’t laugh. You’ll barely manage to giggle a bit.

The story is pretty straightforward and it’s the silliest murder mystery (sans any mystery). What adorns this silly story is the interesting characters. The ever suspicious, telly soap lover Ekta (Kareena) or her Tharkee husband (Devgan) and the super awesome as dumb Lucky (Tusshar) are the pawns that make this silly story happen even. Their performances keep you glued to the madness.

The jokes are just silly at times but the actors pull the cart through. There are way too many digs at the film industry. Parody on Black returns, constant slamming Balaji, Ajay Devgan’s monologue using the titles of his films and endless references to Golmaal I are deviced by the director to ensure a laugh riot. He just about manages it but in a mediocre fashion. I found myself itching to laugh like I did with the first movie, but the movie just didn’t give me the chance to.

The digs at the film industry are way too internal and at times the joke’s just missed by the audience. For example, the protagonists’ names, Ghai and Santoshi. I was the only one who gave out a single spurt of laughter in the theatre. But by the end, I found myself giggling a lot. The comedy sort of grows on you.

I really enjoyed Tusshar’s performance. I think there are just two films that bring out the best in him. Golmaal and Golmaal Returns… So yeah, Tusshar, keep your trap shut and tolerate your sister being ridiculed.

Umm… I don’t think I have anything more to say about the film.

Watch it only if you have absolutely nothing to do and if you have a couple hundred rupees to spare. Actually donate it to charity and wait for the DVD to come. When the DVD comes contact me and I will tell you exactly which bits to watch!

Lights, Camera, Fashion!

Madhur Bhandarkar has been known to pick a certain profession, find the unspoken truth, blow it out of proportion and make a dramatically real film about it. With his latest offering, Fashion, he underplays it.
To begin with, the film is full of gaps that leave you with a ‘why’. The characters are interesting but not convincing. In the end, you leave with a heavy feeling, but you still wonder, ‘why’.

The Story:
Predictable as the phases of the moon! Meghana (Priyanka Chopra) has her eyes set on the ramp. She arrives in Mumbai with a mediocre portfolio, a few thousand rupees and a sackful of ‘attitude’. Fashion is the story of Meghana’s rise and fall and her attempt to rise back again.

One does wonder how the Chandigarh kudi agrees to live with a guy or accept being a mistress to a wealthy man with such ease. A lot of the so called turning points are incidents added forcefully to the story to shock the audience, but the attempt falls flat on its face. Meghana’s character though is something that strikes a chord and you want to know more about her. You want to know why she goes on accepting whatever happens to happen to her. Her romantic life, her career, it all just falls into place. There is no sign of hard work or struggle as such. That, Mr. Bhandarkar, seems unreal. Towards the end, you start losing Meghana as she turns unreasonably over senstitive.

Performances:
Priyanka Chopra is amazing as Meghana. As Sneha rightly said, you hate Meghana when she’s arrogant but you also feel for her when she is down in the dumps. Priyanka carries off the role effortlessly.
Kangana Ranaut is pretentious up until she goes mental. She really has the natural talent to play up insanity.
Godse is pretty good considering this is her first film. But both Godse and Ranaut should take some diction classes.
Sameer soni has given a very natural performance without overplaying the ‘gay’ity. It almost broke my heart to see him gay but that’s just my teenage crush talking!
I am not going to say much about Arjan Bajwa because the man barely has the scope to perform.
Harsh Chaya is completely wasted!

Miscellanous frills and thrills:
The movie has a very cool feel to it. The fashion industry is depicted almost to scale. One aspect that Mr. Bhandarkar missed was the few models who make it into international beauty pageants and then become A list move stars.

I love Madhur’s portrayal of Meghna’s desire to be the ‘show-stopper’ while she’s in the sidelines. He creates the perfect grandeur of the ramp, with lights flashing, musing thumping and models strutting. Of course, I wonder why he featured in the film for a nano second and had to add the line ‘Now Madhur wants to make a film on the fashion industry also,’. The characters are fiery but many lose their spark by the time you reach the interval. Some incidents in the plot are too mechanical and could have been avoided. The last half hour of the movie drags on you with over-sensitivity, melodrama and obviously a winning moment.

Verdict: Look, it’s not a festive film. It has the Bhandarkar effect on you. It bombards you with depressing facts and hopelessness of the glamour world. It is not a masterpiece like Madhur’s ‘Chandni Bar’ or ‘Page 3’, but it’s a good film. Well researched, decently executed and well performed.

Mamma Mia I’m Impressed

During the summer that me and my sister spent holidaying in UK, we waited and waited for a cheaper ticket to show up for the musical, Mamma Mia. We ended up not seeing the show and when I saw the movie today I realized what a fool I was to try and save a few pennies (well pounds actually).
The movie version of the musical is absolutely over the top, full of drama and still has the hangover of a typical musical (the yelling shrieking and flailing of hands all the time!)

All said and done, for an ABBA fan, its an absolute treat. With the picturesque Greece and good looking people, the song n dance story takes you into a different world. However, if you’re not into ABBA, it’s just another chick flick with a whole lot of singing, dancing and more. The karaoke lyrics for all the songs were fabulous and I was singing along shamelessly! There is a magic about ABBA’s music!
The Bollywood fan in me couldn’t help but curse Sawan Kumar Tak for distastefully copying the story and making Mother with horrifying Rekha and all!
Meryl Streep’s rendition of The Winner Takes it all was fabulous. She is natural, composed and emotes brilliantly. Donna couldn’t be Donna without Streep’s exceptional performance (much like Miranda Preece of Devil Wears Prada)
Pierce Brosnan’s attempts at singing are cute but the dude can’t sing to save his life. Oh but he looks gorgeous!
I couldn’t help but think again and agin how they executed the story on a stage. I could almost imagine colourful lights, grandiose sets and a brilliant cast and I was aching to see the musical more than the film. What I really liked about the movie was the grandeur that it retained.  It goes over the top at times, but Mamma Mia, how can they resist it.

Thank you for the music!