Talaash can be watched. But only once

** No Spoliers **

There are several well constructed and bewildering moments in Talaash, the stand out being the introduction of Shernaz Patel as Feni Mistry . The queerness of her personality in her introduction scene is quickly replaced by a reasonably mature albeit abnormal personality, sadly.

Let that not deter you because Talash is a very well made movie. Slowly brewed, gripping, especially in the first half, the movie is carried forward by Aamir Khan’s intensity more than anything else. The movie is also a very gentle reminder of how good an actress Rani Mukherjee is and how she has wasted her career. The movie further reminds you that Kareena is beautiful, has oodles of expressions, and is extremely lazy about acting. The others are props. Much as is being said about Nawazuddin (it’s fashionable to talk about him), he is just about fine in the movie. And if you set the bar by his recent performances, below average. Shernaz is a disappointment, unexpectedly. Rajkumar Yadav – good but wasted. Almost everyone else exists to give Aamir a chance to act some more.

In a world where bundling is becoming a common phenomenon, Reema Kagti and Zoya Akhtar have managed to compensate for the discounted script with some good background score (Ram Sampath) and good camerawork. The movie maintains the feel and the ambience and the colour pallettes of a good suspense thriller. The music is good and maintains the pace of the movie. Songs are not distracting. One of the full-length songs (“jee le zara” in the background) could have been trimmed for the movie.

The last 10-15 minutes of the movie are an unqualified torture on your senses. One thing that I am strictly against  is thrillers trying to round off everything and then continuing on for some more.  Simplicity is such a difficult thing.

You cannot avoid getting pissed at the gaping flaws in the script. And it’s very difficult to unleash your fury at Reema and Co unless you are allowed to criticise most of the focal diversions in the movie. So, I will skip to the biggest problem with the movie. It’s a movie that can not be watched twice, much as it is a movie that you would not mind watching once.

So, go for it. Before someone as idiotic as Kamaal R Khan spoils the movie for you.

Movie Review: Dhobi Ghat

Nope. I won’t even attempt to sound intellectual and say that the movie is great in parts, and the blah blah. Dhobi Ghat did not work for me on Friday night. Dhobi ghat may work for me on Sunday afternoon 3 weeks from now, when I have no emotions attached to a Friday Aamir Khan release. Not when I have just been sitting on meetings all evening, and it is my only way to avoid slowing down my life. And Dhobi Ghat slows down the world around you. Come to think of it, that’s so against the natural spirit of the city that I know as Mumbai.

DUMB ALERT: I would likely look back at the movie five days from now, and I may say that the movie is a good watch. But I was quite bored while I was watching it. For some reason, I could not understand why some people were clapping at the end of the movie. It did not even seem like sarcasm. Maybe, I am not intellectual, after all. What is an investment banking consultant by the way?

What worked:

  • Prateik. Adorable, in the character (for most part) and the saving grace of the movie. Does not seem like a contrived character, not someone you’d want to glorify OR pity, not someone who’s character is clouded in fake conversations.
  • Monika Dogra is reasonably good. But I don’t see how she will move on from that character to any other mainstream character. She can be the next low budget ABCD movie star though.
  • Special mention: background score. For most part of the movie, the movie does not depend on any background score. It uses (apparently), the natural sounds and the stillness of the city. However, wherever there is, it’s poetic.
  • Some of the pictures (still) and the final painting of Yasmeen are beautiful.
  • Some of the camerawork is good, but not as breathtaking as Satya was. To me, Satya still brings out some of the best Mumbai moments on screen (apart from Rimjhim Gire Sawan from Manzil). What’s your favorite?
  • I like the screenplay for about 70% of the movie

What did not work

  • Pace: Extremely slow and uneven. There are times when you almost feel like screaming that you get it, you get it, and we can move forward. But I guess Kiran Rao made this movie as a self-indulgent Sunday siesta movie where pace is not the most important thing for storytelling. The feel and the texture is.
  • Editing: Some of the jumps are extremely jerky. It takes a few reels to get used to the four narratives, and
  • Dubbing: without realizing, I ended up at the Hindi version of the movie. And the dubbing is horrendous. Dubbing is where Monika’s character goes terribly wrong, and Aamir’s character comes out a little better than what it s.
  • Characterization: Aamir’s. Not thought through is an understatement. Seems like this time, Aamir did not get it right. Surprising, for someone who managed to look reasonably convincing as a 19 year old in 3 idiots. Even otherwise, Monika’s character Shai seems lost. I really don’t know why Munna (Prateik) and Shai did not run the final lap. I am not sure why the other random lady in the building keeps calling Munna to her bedroom while Shai (that’s the name, right?) cannot. And who was that random friend of Shai buyind dope? And what was the point of Arun’s (Aamir) family equation? And the casual relationship between Vatsala (Kittu Gidwani) and Arun? And Salim and Munna? To me, the part that worked were Yasmeen and Munna. Surprisingly, Kiran seems more comfortable handling the characters from lower echelons of society (which have anyways been beaten to death by avant garde cinema), but fails to handle the India shining generation. The obsessions and independence of this class are not even semi fuelled.

I can rant about the movie for a few hours. But the net conclusion is – For the want of a better word, its a Bangaali Intellectual movie :). You can IM about it for long, but its dull and its not a movie I’d recommend you watch in theater. But it’s a reasonable one time watch for a Sunday afternoon.

Taare Zameen Par: Must Watch!

There are several movies that I have seen in the recent
times, but haven’t felt the urge to write about. Movies that were good –
Ratatouille, average – Michael Clayton, bad – I Am Legend, Strangers, etc.

But I saw Taare Zameen Par on X-mas. And believe you me, it’s
a great movie! I am full of words, emotions, reactions about the movie. But I
wont speak that much.

I think Darsheel Safari as Ishaan is the pick of this year’s
movies. As good as or better than Vinay Pathak in Bheja Fry. TZP is better than
the other few movies I would have picked (Chak De India, Bheja Fry and Gandhi-
My Father). Aamir Khan, the director outshines Aamir Khan the actor (who should
be given a special prize for having these movies – Dil Chahta Hai, Lagaan, Rang
De Basanti and now, TZP).

Tisca Chopra as Ishaan’s mother has pulled off a performance
that she could not in her primer (remember, a forgotten movie called “Platform”
starring Ajay Devgan?). And despite its fair share of flaws, melodrama and
stereotypes (Ishaan’s father, some of his teachers, for instance), the movie is
nothing short of a perfect 3 hour movie for me!


But kudos to Aamir Khan for having thought about a movie
like this, getting a kid to act something that kids naturally are(no cute scenes,
no big gyaan coming from them, no extreme circumstances expecting them to turn
into heroes, no turnarounds around the intermissions), and being so sensitive
while handling a topic which could have so easily become preachy.

And last thing – I think some of the songs of the movie are
exceptional – especially “tujhe sab hai pata, hai na maa”!

Watch it if you  were
to watch just one movie for the next 6 months! It is! That good!

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