Movie Review: Aaja Nachle…. Madhuri is back!

I have to write this post. Came back home a little while back after having watched Aaja Nachle. And have a flight to catch in an hour or so. So, best use of this one hour would have been to sleep. But then, I claim to be different!

Aaja Nachle re-establishes one of my firmest beliefs about Bollywood – Madhuri Dixit can beat the shit out of all current actresses with both her hands tied behind her back. She just rules the screen from the first shot. Its a Madhuri movie all along with good support from the other well cast actors. I think its a true entertainer of a movie.

A few of the high points of the movie –
1. Choreography – Boo to all those who tried to blast the choreography/music/dances of the movie. This is the best choreography I’ve seen after Devdas. Examples in context – 1. the choregraphy of O Re Pia sung by Rahat. First, its a beautiful song sung amazingly well by Rahat (thats hardly a surprise). Second, the song has beautifully used Ghunghroos in the background. The dancers seem to match the ghungroo ki jhanak perfectly. Madhuri has flawless movements and expressions in the song. The choreography has a classical base, which makes it a delight. Need more reasons? 2. Choreo of the title song – again, a phenomenal use of a talent like Madhuri. 3. Choreo of the long “nritya natika” towards the climax. I think that particular sequence just revives everything that a nritya natika (or, as the refined people would like to think about it – a broadway musical) should be. perfect use of props, individual positions, stage movements, and dance forms. I think the nritya natika on Laila Majnu is the high point of a movie which is all about dance.
2. Performances – Madhuri, undoubtedly, is the queen! But then, there are some refreshing performances by Vinay Pathak, Akshaye Khanna, Ranvir Shorey, Raghuvir Yadav, Yashpal Sharma, Konkona Sen, Kunal Kapoor, Irfan Khan et al. I think the beauty of this movie with a fairly average storyline lies in the characterization as well. The weakest characters in the fold are those of Konkona and Kunal, even though I think they have sleepwalked through their roles with consummate ease.
3. Music – Whatever people say, I think O Re Pia, Ishq Hua, Aaja Nachle, Show me your Jalwa.. all these songs will catch on very soon. Some have already, and some will now!

The enlightened will tell you that the story is weak, and there is an overdose of fantasy. Where does this dilapidated set get all the money and resources to set up such extravagant dances. I dont know. I dont care. The movie entertains. And the elite can go take a skywalk for all I care!

And yeah, just in case I havent given you enough reasons to watch the movie … My final.. nail in the coffin.. last straw to break the camel’s back… aakhiri hichki.. etc etc. argument is ….
GO WATCH IT FOR MADHURI!

Bollywood Gossip – Peeping Tom saw a certain Sonam Kapoor and a certain Ranbir Kapoor at Taj Lands End last night (Dec 3rd) having a noodly and dimsumy hot dinner at Ming Yang. Both were smoking. Since it was Tom Peeping, Sonam was looking extremely ravishing in a black tank top with her mid-riff well exposed with navel piercings and all. Tom wonders – is something brewing? er.. coffee?

Comment of the night – “Having seen her like this, I don’t think Bhansali was able to exploit Sonam completely during Saawariya!”

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Movie Review: The Namesake



I saw the movie more than a week back. However, I was thinking of writing the review only after I have read the book as well. As Diamond would have it, the book has taken steam in the last day or so, and the review has been pending a while.

Yenniways, back I am. To talk about Gogol, Goggles, Ashoke, Ashima, America, India, Bengal, and all their Namesakes.

Of all the classical literature I have followed, somehow, I never ended up reading Nikolai Gogol. Dostoevsky, Chekhov, and Tolstoy were as much a Russian repertoire as I could get comfortable with. Anyways, the plan is to read and figure out if I have also come from Gogol’s overcoat.

The movie seems to have impressed a lot of people, but yours truly wasn’t really impressed. And for a change, the biggest disappointment was Tabu, who just doesn’t seem Bengali enough. IrfanKhan is extremely convincing in his accent and demeanor of a Bengali. Kal Penn disappoints (with due respect to his comic timing and my appreciation of his several other movies). Others don’t really have a role.

The Namesake is the story of Gogol Ganguli (or, Nikhil Ganguli) (Kal Penn), the namesake of the great Russian author Nikolai Gogol, with his unique name bestowed upon him by his father Ashoke Ganguli (Irfan) given his love with Russian literature and a past haunted by an accident.

However, rather than getting into the story, which I will definitely get into in my other post on the book review of The Namesake, I will focus on the movie.

The things I did not like about the movie (there are n number of blogs talking about how good the movie is!)

A. Settings

  • Calcutta (then, and now Kolkata) of 1974 hardly seems authentic.
  • Ashoke’s accident occurs in 1974, and he is bed ridden for one year. He goes to the US for 2 years, and that would take us to 1977. Getting married in 1977, and with a son who is nearing 25+ years at the time of going to Maxine’s house in New Hampshire, would take us to something like 2003+. I am surprised that neither Max nor Gogol had a cellphone. Surprisingly, no one in the movie had a cell phone till the time Moushumi flips one open. And even at that point, she is the only one with a cell. Everyone else uses landlines all the time.

B. Performances & Characterizations

  • Tabu’s accent is just not Bengali enough. Her accent reminds me not of a Bengali turned American, but the recent metro English movies like 15 park avenue, etc. where the artists add a musical tinge to their English. “What Rahul! I tell you. These kids no! They are just taking our generation down the drain. You don’t trust me? How mean?”
  • Kal Penn doesn’t look young enough to be a 14 year old (at the time when Ashoke gifts him the book). And he never seems irritated enough! More importantly, the story belongs to him. Somewhere Mira Nair has gone wrong in showcasing the conflict between Nikhil and Gogol.
  • His sister’s character is totally sidelined. With her first half looks, it was a good ploy, but the second half is where she should have had a role to play. However, the book is about Gogol. And Gogol’s sister probably is not important for Gogol’s existence.
  • The events are simplified a bit too much – Gogol’s hatred for his name is long drawn phenomenon where he doesn’t hate the name as much as its strangeness, its un-indianness or something like that. The trauma on his face (for the first 5 minutes after Ashoke tells him about the accident) is lost without any further analysis. And guess what – changing his name from Gogol to Nikhil is the most important thing he has done ever.
  • The divorce between Gogol and Moushumi just happens. Moushumi’s side of the story is never explained. And she does look pretty hot in some of the sequences. So my sympathies are with her. Not with the confused brat Gogol.
  • Breakup with Max! but why? What went wrong? In her own way, she wanted to be a part of the family. What went wrong there? No explanations given!
  • Gogol’s choice of being an architect. Again, too simplistic. What was he doing till the time he saw Taj? There is only one point where he is shown sketching. But what about the career shaping forces known as Indian parents, who want their kids to become doctors/engineers!!
  • I can go on and on and on. But the point remains. Some of the underlying struggle of being a namesake, a fact that haunts Gogol forever, are hardly dealt with.

I feel, as I write this review, and as I walked out of the theatre, that The Namesake is another book turned movie gone average, a fact I would never understand. When a novel is written, the authors usually creates exquisite detail around who a person is, their life, their environment, their dresses, the walls, the colors. Someone converting it into a movie, needs to be honest to the spirit of the book. But they edit and re-edit it. Thinking they are making more logical sense than the original. They underestimate the viewer. Moreover, they make the mistake of assuming that the viewer has read the book.

However, having said all this, let me take some of the harsh words back. I am being overcritical because I had high expectations from the movie. I don’t remember having the feeling of walking out of the movie during those 2 hours. SO, its definitely worth a watch. It’s a decently narrated story in chunks. Its a collage of small snippets that Mira Nair tries to walk us through in her journey of understanding Gogol. Or, maybe, that’s her understanding of Gogol. It’s a reader’s interpretation!

Overall Rating -5-6 out of 10. Bulk of that 6 is Irfan Khan. And the fact that the movie is not a bore!

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