Atithi Devo Bhava. Guest is akin to God. Us Indians have been brought up on this adage…respect a guest and treat him nice. Easier said than done, isn’t it? There have been many an instances of an unwanted guest overstaying their welcome and becoming and unbearable PITA. And before long, we try to conjure up inane ways to get rid of them, as politely as we can and without appearing to really detest their presence!
Around such a mundane situation does revolve the latest movie to hit the marquee – Atithi…Tum Kab Jaoge? Into the lives of Puneet (Ajay Devgn), a script writer and Munmun (Konkana Sen Sharma), an architect, breezes in one Lambodhar Chacha (Paresh Rawal), ostensibly as a far off relative of Puneet. He is welcome initially but his rustic mannerisms, eye for detail and voracious appetite – among others – start irking the family slowly. Though he endears himself to the other inhabitants of the society and their son, Puneet and Mumnun are clearly fed up of this guest’s overstay. Out come inanely conjured plans and desperate manoeuvres to oust this “pest” but to no avail. I won’t spoil the fun by revealing whether they actually manage to get rid of him or not!
Even with a pretty thin premise and a none-too-unexpected outcome, ATKJ manages to hold your attention and probably does strike a familiar chord with the urban audience, who maybe have faced such a situation before. Most of the humour is situational and well woven into the storyline. One gets to see a multitude of characters as in Priyadarsan movies and they’re well etched at the outset before they make an eventual contribution at crucial junctures in the story. In fact, I half-expected to see something like Bawarchi where a complete stranger becomes such an influence that he becomes indispensable. But this one’s nothing like that!
Its not often that I watch two new releases back-to-back. I usually pick one, and ignore the other till it either receives an obscene amount of recommendations or it comes on cable. But with Rann yesterday and Ishqiya today, I had to break that habit…coz both looked extremely promising and paisa-vasool. And let me say it: Ishqiya more so.
A shishya’s work may not better the guru’s but this effort from debutante director Abhishek Chaubey can be a potent example that it can come pretty close. Vishal Bharadwaj being the guru here and his Omkara, the comparative benchmark. But in all fairness, whilst Omkara was a re-telling of a Shakespearean saga, Ishqiya is penned by Vishal Bharadwaj, Sabrina Dhawan and Abhishek Chaubey and the latter in the role of the director, brings it on-screen in a delectable manner.
Set in the bhayya belt of Uttar Pradesh, Ishqiya is the tale of two petty thieves – Khaalujaan (Naseeruddin Shah) and Babban (Arshad Warsi) who’re on the run from a goon who’ve they robbed and end up in sleepy Gorakhpur, taking refuge in the house of their old friend. The friend is dead now but his widow Krishna (Vidya Balan) gives them shelter nevertheless and decides to help them out when the goons threaten them with a pay-up-or-perish deadline. The three put their heads together and plan a sinister coup & as the plot unfolds layer-by-layer, several hidden truths and stealth motives come to light.
The seemingly odd love triangle between Khalujaan – Krishna – Babban is the highpoint of the movie and is quite well handled. Khalujaan’s romance is old-school, clean, pure, delicately developed around tender talks, mundane kitchen-tasks and nuanced by some old hindi film music from S D Burman and Hemant Kumar. Babban’s is raw, bashful, physical and lustful in nature. And fitted to the latest & raunchiest filmy tunes – something that highlights the generational gap between the protagonists. Krishna plays up to both advances with aplomb and suavely manages to manipulate both to her advantage.
Ho hum! After all the brouhaha about you-have-to-see-it-in-3D…I put aside my carefully and laid-with-military-precision plans of spending a lazy wintry Sunday morning in bed and headed out to catch the 10 AM show of Avatar.
Agreed that the 3D would enhance the overall visual experience of the movie, but sometimes movies are not all about the experience. In that aspect as well, Avatar does well as the visuals and performances are as good as they get. The mechanical and scientific man-made setup on the planet Pandora are similar to those seen in movies like Resident Evil or Jurassic Park but its the natural world out there that is the highlight in this movie. And not to mention the amazing technical wizardry that went into creating the planet, its people, the animals and even their language.
But only visuals do not make a movie (2012 prolly would stand as a testament to that) but James Cameron supports it with a decent script and storyline as well. Ignoring some questionable sequences where we’re told about why man had invaded Pandora – for the “sells-at-20-million-a-kilo” Unobtainium & the whole corporate bottom-line theory. And BTW, don’t Americans use pound more than the kilo?
The first that springs to mind after watching Kurbaan is that how similar it is to the Mani Rathnam movie Dil Se! Of course, both have terrorism as its background but one would assume the similarity ends there…but as I found out, some love stories have inspirations in them!
Cutting to the chase, Kurbaan is the story of Avantika Sharma (Kareena Kapoor) who’s too young to be one but still is a professor of psychology teaching at Delhi University but actually from New York. She runs into brash co-professor Ehsaan Khan (Saif Ali Khan) who charms his way into coffee dates. Before you’ve finished your cuppa coffee, love blossoms and with alma mater beckoning, they have no choice but to return back to NY where Avantika gets Ehsaan a professorial post at her institute. I’ll digress a bit here in pointing out that the college shown – Webb Institute – has only Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering courses…probably they had psychology lectures on the side and also agreed to Ehsaan taking up a lecture on Islam just for KJo’s sake!
Anyways, the professorial couple move into an ‘Indian neighbourhood’ and meet some nice people, including Bhaijaan (Om Puri), Aapa (Kirron Kher) & others and hope to start a blissful life amidst the woods. But bliss is too far away as Avantika finds out one night, courtesy her neighbour Salma (Nauheed Cyrusi) who pleads for help and warns her of a fair amount of danger lurking around them, with people not apparently being what they seem to be. What follows is a web of deceit, mistrust, treachery and cold blooded planning and plotting which forebodes a cataclysmic event. Entwined with all of this is an investigative journalist Riaz (Vivek Oberoi) who must play a deadly game of his own to prevent these events from unfolding.
Now you would say its not even remotely close to Dil Se but I can’t convince you that it does unless I give away crucial story information! Let’s just say that where in Dil Se there were SRK, Manisha Koirala and Preity Zinta, in Kurbaan there are Kareena Kapoor, Saif Ali Khan and Vivek Oberoi. Then there’s also love amidst deceit, taking unfair advantage of someone’s position, passion fuelled by revenge, holy war, assorted bunch of cohorts, the works. Replace Kashmir with Afghanistan/Iraq and New Delhi with New York and you have the nouveau riche Kurbaan! The story’s credited to Karan Johar, BTW.
One of the most eagerly awaited movies this year and the first of the three biggies to hit the theatres this Diwali – Blue – has many things that can be said to be its advantages. Two A-listers as the main protagonists, a successful production house behind it, the music of A.R.Rahman, adrenaline-pumping action and above all, the novelty factor of an underwater thriller. In spite of this, the movie borders on mediocrity coz it lacks something that is the backbone of every successful movie – a coherent storyline and a strong script!
Aarav Malhotra (Akshay Kumar) runs what is presumably a fishing business in Bahamas with Sagar Seth (Sanjay Dutt) as his main employee, presumably as a paunchy diver! Sagar’s lady love is Mona who stammers something about conservation and museums so we’ll presume that’s her job. Aarav has one deep-rooted desire: to delve into the blue oceans of Bahamas and retrieve the treasure of a sunken ship – Lady in Blue – and for that he keeps nagging Sagar coz he’s the only one who knows where it is but he steadfastly refuses. Cut to Bangkok and Sagar’s pesky li’l bro Sameer a.k.a. Sam (Zayed Khan) plays Fast and the Furious Bangkok Drift on the streets and cavorts chin-pierced Nikki (Katrina Kaif, Spl. appearance) but ultimately runs into trouble with Gulshan (Rahul Dev) who’s presumably a most dangerous man. Sam escapes into the arms of big bro but events unfold such that the trio have to dive into the blue in search of gold to get out of the red!
As I’ve noted above, there’re too many presumptions in this one and not one character is well-defined and developed properly. Some of the dialogues are authored so as to provide some explanations but that’s sketchy at best. The first half drags on for like eternity and though some action scenes pepper up the narrative, it all starts going downhill. The underwater scenes pose a great challenge in that there can be no dialogues to supplement the happenings and most of the time the viewer is left admiring the marine life – which we’ve seen many a times thanks to Discovery/Nat Geo/Animal Planet – whilst being clueless as to why the lead actors are swimming about a sunken ship! Its hard to emote with an oxygen mask on your face and a tank on your back and most often, the actors have to resort to tacky body language to convey their expressions.
The biggest strength of the movie Wanted is Salman Khan. And the biggest weakness…well, is Mahesh Babu! His portrayal of the poker-faced fearless and arrogant goon-cum-undercover cop in Pokiri comes in the way of Salman asserting his authority all over the movie. Not that Salman himself can’t be poker-faced and arrogant, he usually excels in those type of characters and is no different in Wanted. Its at the lighter moments that he doesn’t even come close to Mahesh’s superb comic timing in the original. I mean, a simple upma-comment would evoke chuckles in the Telugu version but a similar comment on pasta in the Hindi one hardly makes one grin!
Apart from the comedy, Salman Khan puts in a bravura performance and carries the movie throughout. He’s never one for expressions but the arrogance and brooding machismo of the role fit him perfectly. Ayesha Takia’s portrayal is commendable and she does quite well at the emotional scenes as well as the confrontation scenes. Mahesh Manjrekar is good…he’s very hateable as the lecherous cop who makes everyone’s boot-tip itch. Prakash Raj reprises his role as the villain and I didn’t know he could speak hindi so fluently. Assemm Merchant (he from the bin tere sanam music video) plays his right hand man and could’ve been given more scope. Ditto for Vinod Khanna, who plays Salman’s father. He’s too big an actor to be relegated to bit parts such as this. Inder Kumar tags along with Salman as his friend, a cruel departure for a guy who played the friend/foe in Tumko Na Bhool Paayenge so well. Mahek Chhal plays the vamp, averagely.
This was one album every Bollywood music buff was eagerly awaiting for (well, this and Radio). Its the OST of the upcoming movie Blue, with music by none other than the Oscar-winning maestro – A.R.Rahman. In his own words, “…is my first film after the Oscars. So expectations are scary”. Well, expectations are always high when it comes to Rahman’s music…aren’t they?
The soundtrack of Blue kicks off with the foot-tapping and soon-to-be-on-everyone’s-lips Chiggy Wiggy, marking the Bollywood debut of Kylie Minogue. The song is quite good in Kylie’s hands vocals but gets kinda mediocre with Sonu Nigam’s entrance. The Anglo-Punjabi beats and lyrics in the song don’t quite gel and the fun goes off once Kylie is relegated to the background by Sonu…and probably Akshay as well. I wish filmmakers would stop pushing his ‘khiladi’ image in every nook and cranny of the movie! Aaj dil gustaakh hai has already become a favourite. Its strummy beats and the vocals of Sukhwinder Singh and Shreya Ghosal give it an instant lift. I presume it will be picturized on Sanjay Dutt (dunno why…Sukhwinder’s vocals never seem to suit him!)
Fiqrana is a travelogue-esque song and the healthy smattering of Urdu words make one seem like its penned by Gulzar saab. Vijay Prakash does a swell job with the vocals and Shreya Ghosal ably supports him. The catchy background hook and the stop-n’-go rendition of some of the lines stand out in this one. Could’ve done done away with the electronic modulation of the voice though. Hope they won’t ruin it by picturising it on Zayed Khan! Bhoola tujhe is the lone solo track in the album and a pretty slow one at that. Dunno why but it reminded me of (shudderrr…) Yuvvraaj! Probably the orchestra/opera esque setting of the song. Rashid Ali croons it with his usual mellifluousness but won’t be a repeat track for me. Shreya and Sonu team up for the seductive-sounding Rehnuma with Sonu sounding pretty nasal at times and deep at others, and Shreya trying hard to sound like Sunidhi! The beats and slow rendition make me think it will be played out as a background track…maybe as some dangerous shenanigans are played out underwater.
I don’t want to be a pile-on but in my opinion, Love Aaj Kal is one of those ok-could-have-been better movie. What saves it from falling into the bucket of mediocrity is – surprise – not the so-called refreshingly different story-telling of director Imtiaz Ali but the matured performance by Saif Ali Khan. A love story where realization dawns late in the day is something Bollywood has churned out effortlessly. Saif’s own Hum Tum comes to mind immediately. Love Aaj Kal tells the same story set in the present…but the past acting as a catalyst. The goings on in the present are disparate but yet intertwined, occurred decades apart but yet are parallel. This essentially is the crux of the story and is both the high point as well as the downside of this movie!
Present Day: Jai Vardhan Singh (Saif Ali Khan) and Meera Pandit (Deepika Padukone) are a new-age dating pair. Less of lovers, more of friends, foreseeing each others’ moves, knowing each other intimately, they are not tied down by commitments or promises. When a higher calling beckons, they’re not afraid to end their relationship and remain friends. But there’s something they don’t know, rather, don’t realize. Veer Singh (Rishi Kapoor) is the catalyst to their realization; but how does he know that it is love in between them? Simple…coz he’s been there, done that!
44 Years Ago: Veer Singh (Saif Ali Khan) and Harleen Kaur (Gisele Monteiro) see each other everyday. Silence speaks louder than words between them. Veer Singh pines for Harleen and albeit belatedly, Harleen also reciprocates. Veer promises to the skies and to himself that in this birth and in all births, Harleen will be his soul mate. Do they overcome the hurdles and come together? How does yesterday’s love comes to the help of today’s love? Well, you’d have to see the movie to know that