3 Storeys

Standard

हम सब कहानियां हैं.हमारी अपनी.दूसरों की.अंजान लोगों की.अपनों की.

किसी भी कहानी का पूरा सच सिर्फ उसके किरदारों को पता होता है. सुनने वाला वही जानता है जो उसे बताया जाता है. दूर से देखने वालों के लिए तो यह सिर्फ उनकी कल्पना की उड़ान होती है. अक्सर, कहानियों की इसी काल्पनिकता में खो कर, कुछ देर के लिए ही सही, हम अपनी कहानी की वास्तविकता से या तो राहत पाते हैं या उसके लिए शुक्रगुज़ार होते हैं.

3 Storeys Mumbai के माया नगर की एक 3 मंज़िली चौल की कहानी है..हर मंज़िल की एक….शुरुआत में साधारण सी, पर अंत होते होते अचंभित करने वाला एक मोड़.

Flory Mendonca के बिगड़े हुए बेटे की कहानी. वह बेटा जो छोटी उम्र में एक हादसे का शिकार हुआ. क्यों, कैसे? और अब Flory मेंडोंसा अपने घर के लिए तीन गुना कीमत क्यों मांग रहीं हैं? और ६ साल में यह पहला खरीदार, उसे दे क्यों रहा है?

Varsha Apte और उसके पियक्कड़ पति की. वह क्यों सेहती है उसकी मार?

Suhail और Malini की प्रेम कहानी. जो सबको दिखती है.पर दोनों की माओं को नहीं सुहाती. बात जात पात की है या…..?

तीनो कहानियां एक सूत्रधार के धागे से बुनी हैं. और उसकी भी एक कहानी है…या फिर वह एक कहानी है ?

2018-03-10 23661953350..jpg

If we go storey wise, right at the top is the cast and crew with their effective execution.

Renuka Shahane as Flory Mendonca-the loving neighbourhood auntie is exceptional. The lapses into the disdainful old lady with the broker are super and she is the epitome of a good Goan Christian. Absolutely un-relatable to the sanskaari Pooja Bhabhi from Hum Aapke Hain Koun or any of her other roles, which have been too far and too few. More please!

Pulkit Samrat channelling Salman Khan in mannerisms and acting and doing a much better job than him! If they get beyond the choc boy looks and muscle-shuscle, the possibilities of an actor within are bright.

Masumeh as Varsha does justice to her beleaguered with a drunkard husband role;While escaping into memories of happiness with her lost love. Tarun Anand is the said drunk and is good enough to be despised thoroughly. And they do equally well in a turnaround…..

Sharman Joshi as Shankar is his usual utterly charming best. I think he’s great actor. Give him an opportunity Bollywood. (Soft spot alert!)

Ankit Rathi and Aisha Ahmed as Suhail and Malini fit the role assigned and don’t over-do it. If anyone reading this, who has seen the movie, can tell me Malini’s mother’s name, I’d be grateful.)

Richa Chadha As Leela…..the utterly oomphy resident of the chawl. Or is she?It is Maya Nagar after all.

The absolute delight for me was the small but very effective role of Ganpat Rao the Cop, played by Himanshu Malik. A very far cry from his other work in the past such as “Tum Bin” and “Khwahish”. Brawny and beefy and totally in love with Leela, he fits the role like a glove. Another one to be given opportunities. Look beyond the handsome face and chiselled body!

All of them ably directed by Arjun Mukerjee, about whom nothing is known at least on the www. If this is indeed his debut then what an excellent one man. Good show and all that.

The second storey would be the stories themselves. Simple enough and executed well thanks to the director and actors. In here, there are stories we have all seen, heard or lived through. I have to admit, I cracked two of them before the movie unfolded to the twist, but that’s just years of using my grey cells. (Immodesty alert!)

The third storey would be the music which is not memorable at all but fits in well with the film I guess. Sorry Clinton Cerejo.

3 Storeys. Please watch.

Advertisements

Padmavat

Standard

If Padmavat-thi, then she’s probably wishing she wasn’t .All her strength and all the Rajput principles of valour, fair play and aan, baan and shaan have been undone by their descendants-The Karni Sena.

We’ve all witnessed their cowardly threats, violence and dastardly , unreasonable behaviour-All over sheer conjecture over a possible offence to their “tradition” and sullying the fair queen’s image.

Well congratulations-You’ve done a spectacular job of sullying it yourself and if your courage and bravery involves vandalism and harming children, god save you.

So to Padmavat- A typical, opulent, larger than life Sanjay Leela Bhansali presentation.

Deepika’s Padmavati is beautiful, graceful, steely and gentle in one elegant, jewel laden package. She emotes through her luminous eyes alone to great effect.

Shahid as Maharawal Ratan Singh is restrained, toothsome ,of a sculpted body and always perfectly coiffed. A tad understated though.He does declaim the four points of Rajput valour emphatically and smiles at his Padmavati rather endearingly adoringly.

As does she at him with large limpid eyes and a constant half smile.

(Some chemistry but nowhere close to Ranveer and Deepika’s in Baji Rao Mastani)

His badi rani is Nagmati- whose request for replacement pearls from Singhal ironically leads to Padmavati meeting Ratan Rawal.She literally hunts him down and then nurses him back to health and love blossoms.

And there’s Ranveer’s Alauddin Khilji.An evil, psyhotic, sadistic, power crazy nut job who wants to possess all that is beauteous-whether he’s seen it or not, by mere description he is enamoured. (I wish more people I meet as a sales person were so willing to aquire the wares on mere sales spiel).

He’s done such a super job that one feels revulsed and disgusted with throughout.Kind of dirty to just having seen him.

You know “ghin aatee hai”?

Ratan Rawal marries Padmavati.His advisor in the court casts an improper eye at her and he is banished for this misdeed.Big mistake as it turns out for he seeks revenge via A Khilji.He describes to him Padmavati’s beauty and prophesises that with Padmavati at his side, Alauddin K will rule the world.

Since said Khilji had bumped off his uncle for the kingdom, the idea of ruling the world clearly appealed and crazy coots set towards getting her by mostly foul means.

Two battles, much dialogue, drama , bloodshed later, it ends with RawalRatan dead and Padmavati leading the women to “jauhar”.

Alauddin is left staring enraged at his dream of world supremacy go up in flames barred behind a reinforced metal door.

Seeing Padmavati was denied to him in death as it was in life.

The costumes are well designed and each eco system portrayed well.So all of Khilji’s scenes scream grey-brown, brutal barbarism and the Rajput scapes are gentler beiges and whites but an energetic red showing up valour and sacrifice.

Of the music, the “ghoomar” song is melodious and catchy.The balance is forgettable….well I’ve forgotten it!

An able supporting cast helps the story.

Less impressive than Bajirao Mastani, Padmavat nevertheless merits one watch for sure.

If for nothing else, as support against bullies.

Ittefaq-2017

Standard

The “original”-in itself inspired by an English film from 1965,  was made 48 years ago.If you hailed from a movie loving family such as mine, and were born in the 60s or 70s, you will have seen the Rajesh Khanna ,Nanda,Iftekhar starrer for sure. Directed by the King of  Romance-Yash Chopra.
Unusual for its time, it was talked about for no songs and the unexpectedness of the plot.A gripping watch.

1200px-Ittefaq-poster
The 2017 version  is very well adapted, slickly shot, sans superfluity and has an unexpected ending which honestly is a bit blah…(but maybe that’s just me-justice being important.)

Two unconnected murders.Two suspects.Two  stories and a cop with 3 days to untangle the mess.He is the factor connecting them…or is he?
Vikram Sethi, a well-known writer is on the run, suspected of having killed his wife.Sidharth Malhotra in a handsome, I’m innocent , boo-hoo believe  me, melting brown eyes avatar. He seeks asylum in Maya’s house-Sonakshi Sinha in a Madonna like look and  trifle seductress mode. The police apprehend him from there, next to another corpse-this time of Maya’s lawyer husband Shekhar.

Nasty ittefaq from him..eh?This onslaught of bodies.

Dev is the cop investigating both crimes. Akshaye Khanna in a great role and in many frames, flashing his father’s charming smile.As he switches between their stories, it gets more and more difficult to figure out the truth….for some discoveries end up being damning as pre-conceived notions can be…….but may not necessarily be the truth.

A conclusion is reached.Arrests are made. And the cases are closed.But then…..the inspector reads a book.Possibly a tad late and it dawns-there are no coincidences.

Not fast paced enough to be an edge of the seat thriller, it nevertheless keeps one intrigued in  a “hmm, interesting puzzle this…wonder who dun it” kind of way. You’re interested and want to solve it, but are not “in” it. You know-how some films just absorb you and you ‘are’ the henchman, the victim, the criminal….you are there.Stabbing.Starting in shock.Looking furtively over a shoulder….Not that level of involvement but not boring either.

Sidharth Malhotra has to evolve as an actor, beyond the chocolaty looks. Sonakshi did well as did Askshaye Khanna who really should be getting more roles.

Don’t compare it to the old one. Watch this for its own sake. You’ll enjoy it more.

 

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

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.