Raavan: Black, White and Gray

Ramayan has been telling generations after generations about the triumph of good over evil. History is written by the winner, and we forget that between black and white there is always gray. Raavan is an attempt to bring out this gray in the mythological tale, by placing it in a modern day scenario.

Beera (Abhishek) is loved by the people, feared by the people and wanted by the police. He lives in a beautiful rocky place where there are pretty carvings in the middle of a flowing river. Beera kidnaps Raghini (Aishwarya), SP Dev’ wife (Vikram) for revenge. The SP sets out to rescue the wife with inspector Hemant for company. An alcoholic, tree climbing forest officer Sanjeevni (Govinda) joins the rescue squad.
Meanwhile, Beera and Raghini develop a bond and Raghini discovers a human side to the monster as she hears his story.

The story progresses as black turns gray and white turns an even darker hue of gray.
The story wins when the audience wants Raavan to survive as opposed to Ram. But wait, the story takes a good 120 minutes to get to this point. The pace of the film is its weakness. It fails to grip the audience to the point of understanding what is going on and why.

Aishwarya Rai manages to look pretty and rain soaked, but, honestly she does a usual ‘aishwarya’ with bewildered looks, high pitched dialogue delivery and constant crying. Abhishek has done a great job, breaking out into maniacal laughter. Govinda is wonderful as the modern day Hanuman. I was surprised to see him hang by the trees and jump around with an innocent smile. Vikram is rather stiff as the SP, and at times, goes a bit overboard with underplay.Priyamani is a gorgeous curvy damsel, who plays Beera’s half-sister and a modern day Shurpanakha. Other than showing off her voluptuous mid-riff, she hasn’t got much to do.
What really makes the film worth the 2 odd hours is the cinematography. Although it’s always raining, the green, rocky valley is a delight to watch.

All in all, decent performances and great locales can only hold your attention for a while. If the story doesn’t progress at a pace it needs to, you find yourself shifting in your seat, waiting for your cellphone to catch network so that you can tweet while Aishwarya finishes sobbing and SP finishes yelling randomly.
I say: Avoid. I wish I wish I wish I could say otherwise.


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…

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.

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!