Chef-2017

Standard

Roshan Kalra ran away from home at 16 because his dad wouldn’t let him learn cooking and that was his passion. Many years, one hotel management degree (how?!! He ran away to Amritsar- what about money-shoney, exam-shixam?), one divorce and one 10-year-old child later, he cooks in a restaurant called Galli Kitchen in Amrika but seems to be losing his pot—er plot. He punches a complaining guest on the face, draws blood, lands in jail and then is fired….while he is busy screaming at his own staff for their inadequacies.

He heads back to Cochin, where ex-wife and son reside in a gorgeous house. She is a dance teacher and seems to have a significant other, who raises the hackles of chef in a most dog in the manger-ish manner. (This part was handled much well in the original.)

Significant O and ex-w suggest that he takes over a run-down double-decker bus and turn it into “mobile restaurant”. After taking strong offence, stating that he’s a “chef” and not a “cook” and generally behaving like a completely misplaced prima donna, sense prevails and he agrees to the project.

The rest is about the transforming the bus with young son’s help and driving it from Cochin to Delhi via Goa. What they sell is a “rottza”-a pizza made with rotis. The drive is scenic, the locales breath-taking and this part of the film is thoroughly enjoyable. A superbly danceable number by Raghu Dixit is included here.”Shugal Laga Le” is superb.  https://youtu.be/sJTEca51zG8

Roshan Kalra is played by a squarely-rotundish Saif Ali Khan who hams through most of the film though in an odd scene or two-some of his acting does shine through.Padampriya Janakiraman plays Radha-the ex-w. Charming and lovely. Their son Armaan is played by young Svar. Chandan Roy Sanyal plays Roshan’s protégé from New York who follows him to India and joins up with him. Significant O is an almost illegally handsome Milind Soman. Made me want to acquire said bus!

20171006_214240.jpg

The director turns the original story of Favreau’s “Chef” on its head and makes the Bollywood version about a chef who’s lost his mojo and is quickly unravelling and resorting to breaking his complaining guest’s nose as opposed to the Original which is about a spat with a Critic and a bad review due to being stuck in a rut and his creativity being suppressed by a short-sighted controlling owner.

Given the fact that this film will have only an urban appeal or understanding, the change of story was mystifying and is in fact detrimental to the film. Food critics and the power they wield on Restaurants is very much a part of modern Indian society. Forget critics, an adverse Zomato review strikes terror into restaurateur’s hearts. Also, other parts, scenes and even dialogues have been faithfully adapted and shot, often down to the exact dialogue almost-which actually could have been changes to make them more believable!

Further, for a film straddling North and South India, there is a deplorable lack of mention and depiction of the vast variety of Indian food. Given that the Chef’s original inspiration as a child was chole bhature, his introduction of it to his son is bordering on insipid. The only food he is ever shown cooking is tagliatelle or spaghetti and the rottza. Almost as if he jumped from chole bhature to pasta and landed in a rottza-ignoring all other edibles en route. A missed opportunity for shooting some of our Indian food. Think the 100 Foot Journey. A minor redeeming scene was him making tomato chutney, which will be tried shortly in the home kitchen. Otherwise…..gah. The sizzle of a tadka. The ballooning of a puri. The steam from an idli…..sooo much possibility. But the passion for food missing.

I say that it was enjoyable but nothing to rave about or deserving a full rant. Watchable with some lovely scenes, some oversimplification and tons of mistakes on actual chefs. Home viewing is fine.

20171006_204103.jpg

Advertisements

Badrinath Ki Dulhania

Standard

My review on Badrinath Ki Dulhania got stuck in the recalcitrant wheels of my computer, who decided to sulk just when I started to write it out. Thus the delay and my having come across varied views to the film and so having had time to think those through as well.

 Films, like food are individual in taste and likes and My impression though, remains the same and I like and enjoyed the film, as I had its precursor, “Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania”.

The film begins on an off-putting but truthful note, describing the birth of girls as liabilities and of boys as assets in the narrow mindsets of people. And then proceeds to state many more facts, which are part of our daily lives, and are all to do with not giving women their due respect and choices. A lot of it, while appearing extremely offensive to the more fortunate of us, is the bald truth of large parts of our country. Dowry, not being allowed to take up a job, kowtowing to a despotic husband-the issues women face. They are not always dramatic headlines. Rather, they are occurrences in our lives which happen to people we know well and around us.

(I recalled many situations which I had witnessed directly or fairly close to home-specifically to do with dowry, aborting female foetuses, not being allowed to work and underestimating women generally. All of these in and around the metros.)

What the film showed was that these issues are part of the conditioning we receive while growing up and shedding all or any of them is as difficult for women as is for men. Once the realisation, does happen, it is gradual, and one just has to keep it at it. Childhood conditioning can be deep and hard to budge and even acknowledging that a change is needed is a huge step forward-both for men and women.

So

 Badrinath Bansal, 10th pass, son of a rich, tyrannical through illness kind of dad, resident of Jhansi, good natured chap. Life for him means marriage with a girl with good dowry, approved by father and joining into the family business and raising a brood of children.

Meets

Vaidehi Trivedi- feisty younger daughter, ambitious, pretty and resident of Kota. Cheated out of her dad’s money by the apparent love of her life, she remains valiant in her drive to become a career person –all of this without a ‘naari mukti morcha (women’s liberation march)’ but in a steadfast and spunky way.

Badrinath declares intention to marry Vaidehi and engineers a proposal being sent to her parents. Aghast when she says a firm no and threatens him with the cops if he persists, he  is unable to wrap this novel concept of a girl not wanting to marry at all, and not marry him (!) and exhibits a spot of harassment but is promptly harassed right back. However, friendly relations are established.

Badri agrees to help her find a groom for her older sister (in an attempt to further his own cause) and actually succeeds! At which point Vaidehi, under some pressure, agrees to marry him as well. Badri also arranges for the shortfall in the dowry amount asked and discovers then, that his quiet, soft-spoken bhabhi (sister-in-law) is the brains behind his brother’s business success and that she can cook the books as well she does lunch (well just this onceJ). This is perhaps the beginning of Badri’s change –the realisation that a woman can be educated and qualified and yet be forced to stifle her own desires because”papa ne mana kar diya (my father forbade it.)”

The day dawns for the nuptials, and while the elder one gets hitched, Badrinath gets ditched. Vaidehi follows her heart and takes off to become an air hostess. Heartbroken and bewildered, he expresses his angst with violence. On his father’s caveman like instructions, he leaves to bring her back and flog her publicly for the embarrassment she had caused.

Except that he is faced with a Vaidehi who is financially independent, good at her job and has prospects of a flourishing career. She counters his anger with an apology but tries to get him to see her point of view. Over time, Badrinath finds his views changing slowly and steadily……

Badrinath is enacted very well by Varun Dhawan and one can see the metamorphosis from the set in thoughts and ways “man” to empathetic, thinking person. From his brash almost stalker to his declaration of independence to his emotionally blackmailing father (aided by spirits), he visibly evolves.

Alia as Vaidehi (interesting choice of name-one of Sita’s.) is brave, vulnerable and committed all at the same time. She takes a bold step to find her place in the sun, but loses none of her focus. Professional and hard working but missing her family very much, she does well, though not as brilliantly as in some of her other films.

These two are ably supported by Rituraj Singh as Badri’s heart clutching blackmailing father, Shweta Basu Prasad as his bhabhi and many more.

The dialogues are funny in parts and the look and feel very colourful. There is the hallmark Karan Johar synchronised song and dance. The music includes a reprisal of “tamma tamma loge’ from Thanedaar  (1989) which had Madhuri Dixit and Sanjay Dutt look awful .This version was far more fun! Distinct notes of “pinjre wali muniya”from Teesri Kasam (1966) played out in the title track. The rest of the music was lacklustre.

As a second time director, Shashank Khaitan has handled his story, his actors and his film very well, and in just the right tone. One hopes he continues to make his films just so in the future as well.

On the whole, it is a fun, frothy film which does not turn preachy and does not portray dramatic, overnight transformations of thought and action. It shows that the jagged rocks of age old prejudices and subjugation can be smoothened through relentless efforts and the willingness to be open to change. And yes-the occasional confrontation or two does wonders!

wp-1489507983471.jpg

Rangoon

Standard

wp-1488033600288.jpg

War movie, struggle for independence, love story, or all three?

Rangoon cannot make up its muddied mind and ends up being neither.There are perfectly chosen and styled actors -all of them-from the tiniest role of a nurse to Kangana (full marks for casting and acting), delivering some good and some great performances, mouthing the occasional relevant dialogue, but otherwise held together less weakly than the rope and wood bridge that is crossed and burned.

It skims the surface for love, hate, patriotism, jealousy, neither being felt deeply enough or conveyed effectively to reach the audience. Emotions get switched on and off like a flick of a button.

Rusi Billimoria –A suave Saif Ali Khan –(acting well after ages and looking good)is a film maker, Brit supporter  and mentor and lover for Miss Julia-a suitably groomed Kangana, doing a super job. Miss Julia is  an action heroine and hugely popular. In a bid to garner further help from the Raj to get raw film stock, Rusi agrees to let his beloved Julia go to Rangoon for a morale boosting trip for the soldiers at war.

A conniving British Major General (Richard McCabe-truly despicable angrez) assures her full security (in  awful, “I’m an Indian at Heart ,Hindi .Made me want to kick him hard.)Thus goes off Ms Julia on a long train journey.Her Rusi gets left behind due to the machinations of his father and a sulking, screaming Julia meets Jamadar Nawab Malik-An extremely rugged and desirable Shahid Kapoor (I Sigh-ed lustily-a lot!), her bodyguard, who has to bodily stop her from jumping off the train.

wp-1488033600278.jpg(Sigh-ed So Cool)

 The travelling troupe gets attacked by the Japanese and while saving Miss Julia and leading her to safety, Nawab and the lady develop a bond which  eventually falls in the category of Fevicol ka mazboot jod.

Running parallel to this tale is that of the Indian National Army and its growing popularity.

The three tracks are woven together looser than bad gunny bags and are interspersed with many many songs, which on their own are appealing; but as part of the film, stretch it into interminable agony. Even then “tippa” , “bloody hell” and “alvida” stayed enough to make me listen to them again without the background of the film.Gulzar Sahab’s lyrics had something to do with that as did Sunidhi Chauhan’s lovely voice.

So it drags on almost as long as WWII possibly did, in classic Vishal Bhardwaj sepia tones, across some truly beautiful locales,but with none of the gut wrenching pathos he is capable of evoking. Think Haider.

 The possibilities for this film were very bright with its stupendous cast and crew. I Guess some refresher lessons in knitting and snipping are needed.

Bloody hell-I feel bad.

Jolly LLB 2

Standard

The world is bursting with dishonest people, corrupt lawyers and policemen. They have sold their soul to the devilish duo of money and power and will not hesitate a nano-second to destroy another human being for their gains. Some don’t even stop at feathering their nests by helping unfriendly neighbours rip apart the fabric of the nation.

Loyalty is only to the self. Justice is deaf as well as blind and is easily manipulated by pieces of paper….with Gandhiji on them.

So blinkered are people in their own ambitions, that they think nothing of using a less fortunate person to achieve their ends. The conscience emerges belatedly after the long, lone struggler for justice gives up at being lied to and used just for the hard earned money she can provide and ends it all. Thereafter do or die attempts at a delayed justice and redemption on part of the scheming lawyer.To achieve this too, it takes bribes,bloodshed and underhand ways to just get proof that has been suppressed.

Jolly LLB had struck a chord with audiences and critics alike with Arshad Warsi’s restrained performance, Boman Irani’s panache and a Saurabh Shukla’s superlative act of the apparently bumbling but actually hard as nails Judge Tripathy.The sequel tries hard to continue from where the supremely honest and heartfelt Jolly LLB left but falters somewhat. It loses track often due to forced and frankly unmelodious songs and superfluous, unecessary attempts at comedy.

It is  worth one watch and a fair amount of laughs as part of the dialogues and not so much the situations.

Beneath all the humour and ultimate justice, it is an unnerving reflection of our times and these are a horrible, almost disgusting place to be living in.Of course, we already know how this can be fixed, but does anyone actually want to?

Carrying over Saurabh Shukla as Justice Tripathy from Jolly LLB , the rest of the cast includes:

Akshay Kumar as Jagdish Mishra-Jolly-in an average performance largely due to not being able to carry off the UP ka lehza.That, of course is the UPite in me quibbling.He has to be lauded for his choice of films these days and is an under-appreciated actor.

Huma Qureshi as Pushpa Pande, wife of Jolly -Underutilised.

Annu Kapoor and Pramod Mathur the successful lawyer-Overacting and over emphatic but a pleasure to hear him speak just for the Hindi.

Kumud Mishra-Spot on as Suryaveer Singh the rogue cop. At first glance a rotund, pleasant person, in a second he is a menacing encounter cop-and all the changes is the expression in his eyes.

Rajiv Gupta-Jolly’s friend-Birbal.An understated, suitable performance.

Sayani Gupta-As the wronged Hina Qureshi- Authentic.

wp-1487245119260.jpg

Saurabh Shukla, for me, was the star of this film.His calibre far outdoes anybody elses in the film, barring perhaps Annu Kapoor.I did also wish that Arshad Warsi was still Jolly but well…..that’s the way it works I guess.

Watch it.At least it tries.

 

 

 

 

Raees-baniye ka dimaag, miya bhai ki daring.

Standard

“Pabandi hi baghawat ki shuruat hai”

So says the cop Jaideep Majmudar, beginning his narration of prohibition bound Gujarat, the thriving boot legging business there-desi and videshi and Raees.

How apt for all situations from raising children to raising slogans (and for the many pabandis in the country today).

As stories go, it’s pretty much a standard good hearted gangster story. Raised in poverty by a hard working mother, Raees (Shah Rukh Khan) is a street smart young child who earns a few bucks by working in the business of moonshine. Rising through the ranks of spurious and moving on to the imported “maal”, he works hard and is a loyal lieutenant for many years to one of the biggest in the trade-Jairaj (Atul Kulkarni).

He starts off on his own, despite his onetime mentor’s taunts and insults and with ingenuity and a display of integrity (refuses to kill another don for dosh), succeeds and establishes himself. Spurious liquor is not his trade and he gives back to the community through charity and help. Like I said, mobster with a heart of gold and the teachings of his mum “koi bhi dhanda bada ya chhota nahi hota aur dhande se bada koi dharm nahi hota”.
Add to this his own “Main dhanda karta hoon, dharm ka dhanda nahin” and his staunchness that the innocent should not get harmed.

The cast of his life includes his able aide and close friend Sadiq (Mohammed Zeeshan Ayub), his wife-Aasiya (Mahira Khan), the residents of the place he has grown up in and the people he does business with and through. The villain of his piece is Jaideep Majmudar (Nawazuddin Siddiqui), the conscientious cop who gets transferred frequently but remains unfazed in his determination to fight crime.

Raees grows, builds and sustains his “dhanda” despite the shenanigans and games of political power. He spares no one who wrongs him and protects his people, even at a terrible cost to himself.

A gangster with ethics and a conscience….as incongruous as it sounds.
A film well made. A paisa vasool, Bollywood style entertainer with action, emotion, drama, humour,gaana and bajana (the dhishoom type).

Shah Rukh Khan has acted after ages and superbly too. His carriage, his emotions, his look-terrific.
All members of the cast hold their own and are exceptionally talented in any case. Sheeba Chaddha,Mohammed Zeeshan Ayub, Atul Kulkarni, Narendra Jha, Pramod Pathak and definitely not the least-Nawazuddin Siddiqui. The smallest of roles has been well cast and that is a huge plus for the film.

wp-1485611632734.jpg

Slickly shot and well directed, the film never really falters. Slightly sepia toned and gritty when needed, some shots remained with me. Notably,SRKs first scene, a fight in a meat market and the Laila song. All fairly bloodied too! The second half possibly could have been a little shorter and they could have done without all the songs barring “laila”. The background score is interesting though. Overall, one never gets restless or bored and at no stage does it become glaringly predictable.

It’s not the best gangster film made but it’s among the better ones. Do watch.Tell me what you think?

Pink

Standard

pink980-1473947016_980x457

It’s been an hour or so since the last of the credits rolled away and Mr. Bachchan’s baritone, urging me to find my wajood, faded out.

I’m still shaking at intervals and the odd unshed tear is still finding its way out.

I could tell you blandly that it is the story of 3 young women. 3 young men. An evening out. An accident. Egoes.Intimidation.Threats.Character assassination. An eccentric but effective lawyer.

I could say well written. Well directed. Well cast. Superbly enacted.

Please watch.

I tell you instead that the film depicts starkly the prejudices and mindsets of our times. Nothing we don’t already know. No new information. A lot of it lived by urban women. It just puts them there in our faces. Brutally.

That how difficult it is for educated, independent women to be accepted without the trimmings of husband, children or parents.  To have choices.

That if three young women set up home together, the world around them will not hesitate to gawk at their lingerie in the balcony and peep through curtains. If they have male friends visiting them and they party, then the same world, will unhesitatingly declare them characterless at the first suggestion. That drinking is a mere “’health hazard” for men, but defines the character of a woman.

That a woman who drinks and has gone out partying to a rock show, smiles and laughs and cracks jokes becomes a commodity to be pawed with and played with and she does not have the right to say NO. And when she does say a violent NO, the male ego is so hurt that you threaten her and abduct her and molest her.  When she does not get cowed down but goes to the police, terrified as she is, you file a counter report and vilify her character and have her branded as a prostitute.

That the first line of advice to a woman is to always scare her into submission and make the incident her fault.

That a single woman is “easy”.

That a lot of men clearly have their private parts and brains interchanged (so neither  satisfies) and cannot accept that from a Prostitute to a Pujaran-Women have the right to say NO.

I said tears at the beginning.Tears because the palpable fear of the young women in the film is something women all over have all experienced . I know I have. Intimidation has various forms. When we walk down dark alleys and hear wolf whistles. Or are alone in elevators with only men. When we get obscene calls at all hours. When we are stalked. When unwelcome suitors throw acid on our faces. When cars slow down at the sight of us walking. When we are pinched and groped in crowded places. When our chests are stared at openly and appraised as meat would be.

The fear didn’t stop the ladies in the film. The fear is not stopping women today from going places. Or working. Or making choices.

My wish in an equal world is that men feel a similar fear too. Just to even things out a bit.

Watch Pink. Make your sons watch it several times. Take your daughters for it.

And stay for the credits.

Where is the what?!…

Standard

While attempting to explain the logic of an educated, trained wrestler getting pregnant and giving up her dream of an Olympic Gold to a friend today, the profound, all encompassing though slightly in-articulate phrase “where  is the what?” got coined.

And I find it expresses so many sentiments so comprehensively and with such brevity, requiring just a change of intonation….

Searching-Me looking for my glasses-where is THE what and instant comprehension across the household, one of whom point to my head where they are perched.

Indignation-Me to asinine driver turning right-Where is THE WHAT! –indicating lack of indicating on their part. Of course they only see wild gesticulations but the meaning is clear.

Soulful-where is the what in life. Here it is….in rum and coke.

Crying-Where is the what and I get handed a tissue.*sniff.

I like this phrase.

So, these deep with meaning words were uttered when I was narrating the (predictable and clichéd) story of “Sultan” to aforementioned friend.

There are two good parts to Sultan. One where Randeep Hooda makes his all too brief appearance and the other, when the film ends.

Yes-I sat through it-though very sensibly in the comfort of my own home, via a pirated DVD @ Rs 50/- only. Curiosity had got the better of me after the “rave” reviews and I pressed play expecting a National Award winning performance and film. Such naivete-at my age too….

I now want to recover even that-perhaps Olx pe bik jayegi?

To sum it up- Sultan is a  beefy 30 year old, living off his dad and selling Dish TV (product endorsement check)connections, whose only talents seems to be in recovering kites after they have been brought down. He falls for tough Aarfa, the only child of a wrestler, who has educated her, trained her and together-daughter and dad hope for an Olympic gold. (Social message check-beti jalaoge, toh bahu kahan se laoge etc).

Sultan confuses Aarfa’s friendship for love and his ego and heart take a big beating when she tells him off  in no uncertain terms-  “look at you –and look at me-Ahm so cool-you’re such a fool” kind of dialogue. Hurt ego turns Sultan into broody man and then ace wrestler. This in turn, caused Aarfa to change her mind and things take a turn towards marriage and domestic bliss, along with Sultan’s increasing success and arrogance.

And then, Aarfa gets pregnant and drops her dream of the Olympic gold or indeed any career at all. And makes the stomach turn. Contraception? Timing? Consider not having the baby? Naaaah.

Gah!

So she has the child and sadly loses it-because the child needs his father’s rare blood type to survive and it is not available anywhere. He in turn is earning his Gold miles away. Thus Aarfa walks out in hurt anger and Sultan gives up wrestling to collect money via crowd funding for a blood bank in the village. This continues for 8 long years, where he also collects a paunch along with dabbas of money. Wonder what he did with all his endorsement and prize money?

Anyway-a pro-league modern day wrestling project is losing money and the young owner is advised to get Sultan and he will have a sure winner. After some convincing, broody agrees to join in and becomes brawny again. Gets fit in record time. Wins every fight. Reconciliation. Happily ever after. Etc.

Salman Khan looking square, hefty, scantily clad and Haryanvi.Anushka looking tall and skinny and half his age. Randeep Hooda wearing headgear hiding his looks but sounding good as usual. Kumud Misra, Anant Vidhaat Sharma as the hero’s mandatory friend, Amit Sadh, Parikshat Sahni and many wrestlers.

The what in this where is clearly Salman Khan who despite being a deer shooting, girl-friend beating, hit and runner of people, and obnoxious statement maker is clearly acceptable to an alarmingly large number of people in our country. Even more scarily-many of these are educated, intelligent, informed people.

Yet they transform this arrogant, unapologetic purrson’s average films into record breaking money spinners, year after year. Sure they burst with social messages and “goodness”. But for all the positivity his films show and specifically the redemption this one talked about- what about some of it in real life?

salman-khan-sultan-movie-poster

Or isn’t owning up to a mistake and atonement Being Human?