Supermen, Untouchables, and Cocktails

I had a mixed bag weekend. Of the three movies that I watched, two left me speechless, and the third left me speechless too.

Let’s start the evening with Cocktails

I will start with the worst one. It is called Cocktail. It starred a star who’s started looking like a teen din purana naan (3-day old stale naan) – layers of rubber that stretch all you want without breaking, and is a bad idea for a good meal – Saif Ali. You can keep chewing on it, but it won’t get over. No, it won’t. Like this movie. Naan-sense movies should not be given ratins, but Naan-rating. It also stars Ms. Deepika Padukone, who I believe is going to be the biggest whistleblower for the industry someday (given the number of guys she has been associated with and actually knows a good deal about the performance(s) of). And then there is the new girl – Diana Penty. Enough has been said about her surname already, so I will spare her on that one. One of the things I have inferred about casting in bollywood is this – when they audition someone for a lead actress role, they surely would be asking a lot of questions – including surname, most likely. They definitely check your looks, the length of your legs, and the length of the shortest thing you’d wear to cover those legs. But somewhere they forget to ask a question, which should be the question – Can you act? That’s the only justification for Aishwarya, Deepika, Katrina, and the likes. Diana seems to be a protege of the Katrina school, and Deepika is already on her way to be the next Katrina. Deepika is in a hurry though, and started trying out acting too soon, I think. Why don’t you just come, do some jiggy wiggy chiggy wiggy, and get to take the hero home in the end? Agar yehi safedi, yahi jhaag, kam daamo mein mile to koi wo kyon le, ye na le? Btw, that slice advertisement that runs during every big cinema movie interval (yeah, the one with Katrina Kaif), could well be a saree, a condom, a vacation, or well, as an afterthought, a mango drink ad. It’s funny how the creative directors thought of the last option as the first.

The movie is so bad that there is only one thing that saved it from my wrath. The audience. Right behind me, we had a rather “vocal journalist” from burrp. He ensured that his reaction to every scene of the movie could be measured by the quality of his burrps. For a bad scene, two resounding burrps, and a small tiny one for the less harming scenes. Also, there were enough people in the theater who found something funny in every other scene. I envy them. They can find joy where none exists. They all are the true hermits. Siddhartha! Nevertheless, I shall move on to the joy that I could discover. On a somewhat positive note, the song Jugni was quite good. And finally, I conclude, it’s band jawani (of band baaja kinds). Not banned jawani, or behan jawani, or pained jawani, or something else.

From Naan to Supermen

What a movie!!! Really… Malegaon ka Superman runs close to 70 minutes or so. Getting up early and driving to Juhu was all worth the effort (and without breakfast too). Even PVR’s extremely messed up service level that early in the morning (9AM) could not take the taste away. The movie is almost a docu-movie. Handheld cameras, shaky angles, unplanned shots, candid camera moments, and the works. Loaded with innocence, the irony of movie making, an entire expose on 50K-100K movies, rural aspirations, society and life, the contradictions that people live every day, the small joys that keep them going. It never seems like the cast is acting, because most likely, they are not. Or maybe they are, and they are just too good. There is a point in the movie where the camera falls in water and the shoot is cancelled. Naseer, the director, is absolutely devastated who keeps convincing himself that it will be fine. And while keeping at it positively, he also keeps talking about the shooting delays of 2 days it might cause. All this while, the poor superman, shivering with cold, is floating on water on a tyre tube, trying to wade himself to the shore. That sequence tugs so hard at you with its poignant and ironical sense of humor that’s difficult to explain. The scene where the cinema (or video parlour) owners/ attendants run for their life just after they open the shutters, as throngs of people run each other over to get to the best seat in the parlour, and the expressions shown on their face (later in the movie) as they are watching a dubbed english movie, the shadow of the cigarette smoke, are priceless. Or, the four day delay caused because superman is getting married. I can keep going on forever about how a tightly edited, honestly crafted 70 minute movie(?) cobbled together with no stars whatsoever is worth more than hundreds of skin-shows like Cocktails that bollywood graces us with. The movie was screened under PVR’s Director’s Rare initiative (and the ticket was all of 70 bucks for the 9AM show). Yes, such movies are a rarity in our country. Rarely do people pack their bags and say thank you when they are done saying what they had to say. So, thank you Nasir Shaikh. For introducing us to the supermen of malegaon.

Touch the Intouchables

Intouchables touches you. And how beautifully. The movie doesn’t try to do too many things. It explores the relationship between an unlikey duo – a low society-from the projects-criminal background man taking care of and becoming a great friend to a filthy rich paraplegic. The story is full of pain and pity, and yet there is none. The movie overflows with genuine moments of connect between two people – not forced sentimental long dialogues, but two people who connect because they connect. Because there’s a spark to their conversations. Because they are naturally different. The lead actors are absolutely brilliant. Even the dubbing was quite fine, but I wouldn’t mind just the subtitles as well. One thing that needs a mention – background score. It was pitch perfect. And the strip down of most melodramatic moments is brilliant. There are some butchered sacred cows as well – the way Driss replaces Chopin, Beethoven and Mozart with the music from Kool and the gand and the likes, and gets the drab party on its feet, or Phillip’s hitler moustache moment, or the furious laughter during an opera. The movie has such comic moments that you forget the tragedy that underlies them. Right from the way Driss lifts Phillippe like a puppet and his body hangs about limply, to the life in the projects, and the coversations between Driss and Lyovanne. Here’s one from Driss – “There’s no way I am emptying another man’s ass. It’s a matter of Principle. Stockings were bad, but I did it. But there’s no way I am emptying another man’s ass.”

It’s a beautifully told true story. So, if you think you just wasted 300 bucks on Cocktail, please go and watch Intouchables. There aren’t too many shows of that movie, and most likely it will be off the screens this Friday, once the Dark Knight returns.


Movie Review: Om Shanti Om

It’s a weird feeling to be writing a blog post after so long. Not surprisingly though, to voice my opinion of the haute news in town – Om Shanti Om. But that does not mean that I haven’t been watching movies lately. Its just that I have been terribly busy lately. Busy is not new for me. Terribly busy happens all the time. But this has been the worst possible spell ever of busy-ness. Saluja would have been proud to see me putting so many night outs. Something even Inductis could not do with such frequency.
Back to OSO, a tribute to the yesteryears (that part is similar to how Main Hoon Na was done) and an open admiration of SRK, is definitely watchable. You smile almost throughout the movie, but at the end of the movie, you have this weird expression in your mind which is that of your squint eyes staring at you and saying, “Well…..”.
Deepika Padukone impresses in her debut. She does what she can do really well – she looks gorgeous. However, she does what I did not expect a lot of – manage her way in the acting department.
Shreyas Talpade, as usual, is subtle and good. Kiron Kher, as usual, is loud but good.
Most importantly, SRK is, as usual, LOUD, hamming, but quite unusually, fitting. It’s a role that let him be – an over-actor, with an ease that can only come when you’re not acting!
The movie is a mish-mash of Karz, Madhumati, with plenty of spoofs (like The Great Indian Laughter Challenge), quite a few gaping voids (people leaving the hot shot producers to lie on the floor just when a mishap has happened), some great editing (I loved the shots where DP is dancing with Sunil Dutt (not Sanjay Dutt) and old-time Rajesh Khanna and Jeetendra, average to good music and a lot of masala. Comments on the industry cannot be missed – be it a Sooraj Barjatya searching for cliché dialogues, or the subtle reference to some star sons being superstars by virture of being star sons (read- Abhishek Bachchan), or the dominance of Khans and Kapoors in the industry. The best comment is when a director Partho Roy (reference to great Bengali directors) who has put in three cameras – one for Bimal Roy angle, one for Satyajit Ray angle and one for GuruDutt angle is suggested by Mukesh Mehra (Arjun Rampal playing a producer – Prakash Mehra?) – ek Manmohan Desai angle daal do, wahi kaam aayega! This definitely comes across as Farah Khan’s way of deprecating the industry/her comrades to create some laughters – just as dada (Subhrajyoti Ghatak) would do.
Story – Beaten to death reincarnation story, cameras panning in from all angles to remind the protagonist of his forgotten past life, a white-haired mother leaving no chance for cracking melodramatic monologues, a friend who’s grayed with the age and believes in his friend, a spirit who manifests just at the right time to seek her revenge, even as things are being kept as human as possible. A villain who conveniently commits a murder and leaves the country to return 30 years later where his past is waiting for him. Oh-so-convenient. Its not the story where the effort is put. The story is conveniently taken off from Karz, Madhumati (yeah! she thought I wouldnt notice!), chala murari hero banNe and the likes. It’s the screenplay and editing where the effort has been put.
Screenplay and editing – Good. Better than above average. Good comments, spoofs and humor.
Music – Ajab Si and Main Agar kahoon are definitely above average. Rahat’s Jag Soona Soona Lage is standard Rahat Fateh Ali Khan fare – soulful, nice, but wont make it as big as Saiyaan (Ta Ra Rum Pum) or Mann Ki Lagan. updated (11-Nov) – won’t make it as big as his previous songs (like Mann ki Lagan (Paap) or Jiya Dhadak Dhadak Jaye (Kalyug).  (Khan – Thanks for pointing out. My mistake!!)

Overall – Definitely watcheable once. Don’t go by my cribs. I think it’s a director’s movie. She has played it by her creativity which is weird and funny. And she has done a tremendous job of editing. Actors are fitting. Everyone fits. Even the over acting kkkkkk.. Khan. .. shahrukh khan.

and on that note -I do want to watch Saawariya. Despite the complete snubbing it has got from many reviewers. 1. Its based on Doestoevsky’s White Night. 2. It wont disappoint me on a couple of counts – Great camerawork and sets, and some great imagination.

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