Jab Tak Hai Jaan – Bachaa Ke Bhaago

I dont want to say that Jab Tak Hai Jaan is a bad movie. That would be too generous on the man who gave us Kabhi Kabhi and Silsila. I don’t want to pity him after his death. I do feel bad though. His last outing was Veer Zaara, which even at an indulgent pace, and with extreme hyperbole, had traces of Yash Chopra that made it tolerable. And it had a bunch of good actors playing their part, including the music department.

JTHJ is a finely crafted bouquet of mediocrity from one of the most resourceful production houses of the country. Yash Chopra can rope in exotic locales, big actors, expansive sets, color coordinated choreographed sequences, so his is not the story of someone having to make intellectual compromises because he ran out of resources. His is a case of either dying at the wrong time (which meant that he did not look at the last version of his product) or a case of blatant idiocy. Given the extremely emotional end-credits footage, I will go with the latter.

For those who prefer short reviews, summary reasons why I disliked the movie (detailed later)-
1. Bad Script
2. Horrible acting
3. Ridiculous pace
4. Painful set pieces
5. Murder of some good music
6. 45 year old SRK as a 28 year old street singer
7. End of debate about Anushka’s “potential”

The good thing was that there were some 7-8 trailers – Race2, Talaash, Dabangg 2, Mere Dad ki Maruti, Khiladi 786, Twilight, and a couple I am forgetting. Also, the 5-10 minutes of banter between SRK and his friend in the second half is better than the rest of the movie (its a pity that IMDB or several other sources do not identify his friend’s real name). And yeah, one stand out dialogue, which comes from Rishi Kapoor – “Har ishq ka ek waqt hota hai!”
I want to spare SRK a bit on this movie. He is the only one who holds this movie together, despite not being the best suited for the role.

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Side story: Someone asked how do I end up watching these movies (SOTY, JTHJ, kinds) – and a conjecture is that biwi says we are going, and I say yes ma’m. However, as you know, life is more complicated than that. It will be unfair to blame the biwi completely. I should rather blame it on my undying optimism. That some day, that one day, that once in my lifetime, someone in this industry would actually spend money on a good script and then back it up with insane amount of funding to create an end product that I’d fall in love with. So much so that I would come out of the theater only to walk right back in for another show. Philosophical shite aside, this is how it happened –

Mom-and-dad (biwi’s parents) are in town for Diwali. As I was leaving for the station to pick them up, biwi casually mentioned – “before I forget, and in case I haven’t told you, we are watching JTHJ tomorrow. 11 AM. So, if you were making any plans…”.
I said – “OK. By the way, is the ticket for today or for tomorrow? Since today is a chutti as well.”
“Tomorrow.”
“OK”.
Next day morning 10AM. “Shit! The ticket was for yesterday”.
“Shit. I asked you to check”(laughing heartily inside my head).
“Shit Shit Shit!”.
“We can’t book online now. Less than an hour left. Lets go to the theater and check”.
“Hmm”.
“Hmm. I think we will get it. Morning show hai yaar.”(Wildly happy by now, in the hope that there are enough idiots out there who would want to watch this one, and the show would be sold out. And then, we would watch Son of Sardar) (NO! You cannot ask me why SOS would be any better!)
“Chalo.”
Happily drives for the next 20-25 minutes. Asks biwi to go get the ticket while parking, hoping to get a call announcing the inevitable. Call happens. Tickets have been procured.
“Ticket mil gayee. Kahaan ho?”, she says.
Sends a curse up the air. Parks, throws a few curses under his breath, and the house-band marches on to Screen 7 of PVR Cinemas, Phoenix MarketCity, Kurla (the one which announces – learn to say Kurla with an accent- yep- that one).

 

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Now then, the detailing –

1. Bad script. The number of loopholes being what they are, and historically, not a real problem for someone like me, the number of idiotic things that happen in the movie are mind boggling. A man with a case of retrograde amnesia walks into a cordoned off area because of a bomb scare starts saying something about the bomb and the Brit cops are more than happy to let him touch the bomb and go about detonating it. Obviously the fact that its a train station is not so important. And that guy is a brown guy in a white country isnt either. In a separate scene, a chick strips down to bare essentials and doesnt feel the sting of cold air in Leh. Another man is sitting in a t-shirt. And when she jumps into water, the cold water numbs the senses of a national level swimmer within 5 seconds to such an extent that she drowns. But the other man manages to get her out of water, and comfortably drive away in his wet suit. Well! The bomb diffusion scene (first one) seems like a straight lift from The Hurt Locker.
2. Horrible acting – Katrina Kaif, by herself, is usually good enough to take care of the acting problems. The others, by halo effect, look like good actors. In this movie, Anushka and Katrina are fiercely competitive. Katrina wins by one expression. That is, she has one, while Anushka has two. Expressions.
Katrina has an amazing happy expression, where she is romantically running around or dancing or whatever with some good or average music in the background. Her second expression is one of extreme disinterest. No expression at all. She mouths dialogues, but the face remains the same, and as the biwi points out – her eyebrows dont move at all. At all! Now, pan the camera (slowly and romantically) on Anushka. She is better. She has two expressions. One that classifies her as the true born of a Punjabi family. Everything is – O Teri kinds! And the second is when she is the true born Punjabi who is trying to hold her emotion back but a traitor tear finds its way out. You know the happy sad tragic kinds. There is no third expression really that comes to mind (or screen) when you think of her.
3. Ridiculous pace – The movie moves at a pace which is in line with the old age parable involving a hare and a tortoise where eventually the slow and the steady wins the race. Unfortunately, no one in that parable defined till what speed can it be considered “slow” and for what duration can it be called “steady”. The movie makes you check your watch so often that if you carry a set of dumb-bells to the movie and wear a watch on both your wrists, you will surely come out with Arnie – biceps.
4. Painful and inappropriate music set pieces – This one is a traditional strength of YR. Remember “Aaya tere dar pe deewana” from Veer Zaara. Ridiculous scene but music used well. Ends with Shahrukh wearing a black shawl and looking on with intense eyes. Yeah. This one, however, sets up a dance sequence where KK will dance to her hearts glory (on the streets, true Step Up style) and discover her inner peace. Way I see it, the sequence features some good dancers as extras/foils who are relegated to the background, to highlight an amazingly un-graceful dancer (KK) and an otherwise extremely energetic dancer (SRK) who has a broken back and who is well past his expiry date when it comes to dancing. So, it looks comical. And a wasted opportunity. Maybe, then, that was the idea. And it bloody goes on for close to ten minutes with the Ishq Dance followed by Ishq Shava. Phew! So much for a generation which is fed Jhalak Dikhla Ja and Dance India Dance and similar shows at least 4-5 days a week (and with multiple reruns across channels, including news channels)
5. Death of some good music – Heer is a brilliant track. I loved playing it on loop. Sadly, once you’ve seen Katrina emote that one on screen, it loses all emotions. She spoilt the song for me. Thankfully, not so much that I can’t listen to it anymore. Likewise, Challa is a good song where the chosen voice does not sound like it belongs to SRK. And once you see SRK on the screen jumping on the song, it becomes worse.
6. End of debate around Anushka’s potential – Now I am convinced that she is not good for anything else but playing the happy punjabi kudi. That, thankfully, she does quite well.
7. SRK as a 45 year old 28 year old guy – PLEASE GIVE ME A BREAK, will you? Wasn’t it enough that Aamir Khan was playing a gyaani 17 year old guy in 3-idiots? That guy at least tries to look more earnest about getting his walk,talk right.
8. The movie is a barrage of set pieces where the lead actors (or supporting cast) have the opportunity to deliver some amazing cheesebally suger coated syrupy inanities. The kinds that when spoken in real life, amongst good friends, especially when you’re young, are bound to draw guffaws. Imagine you talking to your girlfriend, and saying things like – “meri aur xyz ki kahaani us adhoori kitaab ki tarah hai jinke panne umr ke thapedon mein dhundhle se ho gaye hain. kuch harf nazar nahi aate, kuch sirf khayalon mein hain!” I mean, really, do you expect your friends to empathise with this profound statement. Most likely, they will hold silent for, exactly, maybe, 5 seconds. And then, hell shall break loose. But anyway, YR is known for getting away with those profound moments, making generations of women believe that true love happens when there are roses blooming, people standing on the alps in nothing but a t-shirt, and people narrating love poems in uber cool baritones – jab tak hai jaan, jab tak hai jaan.

Last thought – Jab tak hai jaan… bachaa ke bhaag lo. OR, if there was a positive spin to it – “Dekh lo. iske baad sab kuch acha lagega, jab tak rahegi jaan”

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Movie Review: Ek Tha Tiger

It’s almost an insulting thing to do. An attempt to review Salman’s movies of late. It is. And yet, with my love for his irreverent acts, I do it. However, I have realized how to solve for it.
From here on, if I do a rating on his movies, I would use a rating scale of 1 to 5 salmans, instead of 1 to 5 stars or something like that. How much of Salman-ism did you see in the movie. And on that token, I think Dabangg was a solid 5 Salmans, Wanted was 4, Ready was 4 and Bodyguard was 3.5 or so. Each of these is a MEGA HIT. So, my conclusion right now is that a movie which has more than 3 Salmans rating will easily cross 100Cr+

Now, to ETT – Its a 3.5 Salman movie. My prophesy puts this one close to 200Cr.

This one actually has a plot, and if they had kept the topsy turviness for a bit more, it would have been great for the movie. They could have snipped a couple of emotional scenes for that.
This one has a brilliant Salman. It has some awesome action and chase sequences. Now, one of the gold standards for me is the initial chase sequence in Bond’s Casino Royale when Daniel Craig chases the dude forever. This one, due to the lack of similar athleticism, tries to make do with slo-mo camera work. And there’s more than one of them chases in the movie. SO, that was kinda neat. I think, and I think I am alone in thinking so – Katrina was brilliant in the movie. Some part of her accent still kills the dialogue, but for most part of the movie, she was the perfect foil to Salman. And believe you me – during the action sequences, I heard as many hoots and whistles for her as there were for Salman. So, dear body double of Katrina for the jumps and hoops, you were brilliant.

The let down is the music. This one does not have a Munni or a dheela character. Mashallah is an afterthought. The rest of the songs are not sticky. And in some ways, spoil the pace of the movie.

Kabir Khan’s life is not going to get bigger than this. I don’t think he has talent. I think he is an average guy with better than average luck on his side.

Ranvir Shorey is wasted, and barring a couple of scenes, Girish Karnad too. The movie is all about Salman. And Katrina. Katrina – you’re finally coming of age. And if my movie reviews are worth much, than you can see how my opinion of you has been evolving steadily. Just as your career.

Sallu bhai – tussi too much ho. Too much.

Dear Readers – those of you who love Sallu bhai – this movie, again, is a must watch. However, this time, the pseudo intellectuals can give it a try as well. I don’t think I know any real intellectuals visiting this blog – so I think I can skip that part.

Movie Review: Ajab p…ppp…fff..frame ki ggga…ga…gg..jab Kahani

Beat this – you are walking down the street with your girlfriend, and someone stops you and asks you if you are interested in a trip to Hawaii. All for 50 bucks. You say yes, very eagerly so. The dude then points you to the latest brand of Hawaii chappal. All for 50 bucks. That’s what Ajab Prem Ki Gajab Kahani Is.

It’s  A-JAB to break your FRAME.  APKGK is A movie that Santoshi made PK .

I had walked into the theater with high hopes, expecting to see a movie which was going to be different (these guys have also come up with APKGK comics as well, hum-tum style). The theater was housefull. India had just lost a match despite a thunderous innings from Sachin while chasing 351. The mood was somber, and a good light hearted comedy could have just been the right solution. But alas – Indian film-makers are rapists. They try to get you in a corner and rape you.  Of your sensibilities, money, and worst of all, your sense of humor.

The movie starts with a random Lord Hastings’ (or some Lord from Brit Era) mannequin harassing a dumb reporter looking for an “Ajab” story in this unnamed place, where nobody is to be seen. I knew that it’s likely going all downhill from here. But I had paid 300 bucks, and I had liked some of the songs. And I knew that Katrina Kaif was yet to come. At least there will be some visual delight in the movie.  That’s what I meant by cornering the unsuspecting audience like me.

After introducing an extremely over the top Ranbir Kapoor who has no idea why the bloody character of Prem was created in the first place, they introduce a “talking” Katz. C’mon, give me a break. Who pays money to hear Katz talk. She is supposed to walk in, look good, wear good dresses, smile a little, mumble some innocuous things, and dance, and make merry and leave. I would like to believe that Biwi is also usually happy to see Katz, for she might get some good dress, pumps and boot ideas.  But Santoshi does the unthinkable. She wants Katz to act. So here she is, stammering when she is upset, trying to act out of her skin. Totally justifying the salary she might be getting, she gets emotional, defends a set of mean foster parents, goes around town with Frame (that’s what it sounds like when Jenny calls out for Prem), and in the whole process, disappoints us beyond redemption. Sometimes, I wonder if the stammer-when-I-am-upset track was introduced simply to cover for Katz’s exquisity dialogue delivery.

Prem hangs out perennially with his friends, helping other people elope with their lovers. Not doing anything worthwhile, he runs happy club, which has no members, apparently. People come to play carrom, TT, etc. to happy club. And Prem is the smartest cookie in town, who is 9th fail, and he also stammers when upset. The character is so over the top that in one scene he actually falls from the top of a cliff, bicycle and thief asunder. The same thief vows revenge, and later becomes Don bhai, but the director forgets to remind him of his earlier reason of anger with Frame.  And so, they indulge in Priyadarshan style mindless fight scene where everyone is hitting everyone.

To be honest, I don’t have anything against Ranbir. I liked him in the bad movie Bachna Ae Haseeno, as well as the good movie “wake up sid”. I think the dood has potential if he can get over his doped look. But he is like Yuvraj Singh right now. Got sweet timing does not mean you can hit every ball outta the park. The characterization of frame is all over the place. In one shot, he is good for nothing. In another, he makes more than 5k per month just working as a halwai shop assistant. He walks to the halwai shop in a tie and shirt. Indian halwais sure are sure going places.

The worst though is reserved for a so-called special appearance from “Upen Patel”. Remember the UK return patel duuuude, who has acted in several movies as the sidekick now (like 36 China Town, Namastey London, etc.). His accent in the movie is thicker than waddi glass of lassi from Punjab, and surely thicker than Katz’s accent. He is a dude who is ready to settle down in Frankfurt and buy a Ferrai for Katz (Jenny). Frankfurt-Ferrari-Ferrari-Frankfurt.. you know.. the works… yeah yeah.. And buys a 1.5 Crore necklace for Jenny. And Jenny leaves him still. It’s got to be his extremely amazing histrionic skills that embarrassed Katz. How can I be seen with someone who looks like a patchwork and acts worse than Sunil Shetty in Balwan!!!

There are some saving graces – the best scenes of the movie are reserved for baap-beta interactions between Ranbir and Darshan Zariwala. Even though an extremely loud and hamming performance, Darshan still manages to deliver a few really funny ones.  Smita Jaykar as the mother is absolutely wonderful, especially in the scene where she is trying to stop Darshan from going to the bathroom because Katz is already in there. There is one scene where Ranbir comes with Jenny to a dance party. Slightly OTT, but Ranbir is fabulous in that scene.

The songs are good. But usually misplaced. In one song (kaise batayein), you almost get a feeling that it’s a Diamond ad. Not my company Diamond, but like a real Diamond. The kinds where actresses are wearing blank long dresses, and the brightness is artificially low, so that the glitter of the diamond is for everyone to see. Remember? Yeah, that kinds.  In another song, the whole city dances singing “Prem ki naiya hai ram ke bharose”. Yep. And it seems Allah Meherbaan to Gadha Pehelwaan. Nikhat Kazmi finds the movie to be worth four bloody stars. And I am sure there are others in his (or her?) ilk, who will find the movie adorable because Ranbir and Katz just look gorgeous on the screen.  Or, something like that.

In Masand style – I will go in with 1 star for this one, since it’s a bad movie, with a bad story, with bad characterizations, supported by bad acting and bad direction and  bad editing. The one star is for good songs, Smita Jaykar, and the Turkey shots in Kaise Batayein (given my recent trip to Turkey, I have an attachment to the place).

 

p.s. Turkey shots? ahem ahem… i am trying to imagine what it would be like to take turkey shots!! quite disturbing i guess!

Movie Review: Singh is Kinng

I will try to be honest.. about what comes to my mind now when I see this picture


Humpe ye kisne.. hara rang daala
maar daala… allah.. maar daala….

So.. I watched one of the kinngs of bollywood (SRK is one, AB is another, Aamir K is a third.. and Akki is the fourth) take the screen in a pre-premier show at PVR Goregaon. (I like the sound of the ringing NNNNNNs in Kinng… reminds me of Bheja Fry – It is ringing)…

And here are my two conflicting thoughts about the movie –

1. The movie is going to be a hit. One of the bigger hits of the year.
2. The movie is trash! Barring the occasional comic moments, the movie is a mindless creeper that takes 140 minutes to get over!

Ek Color Ke Terah Patte, Lekin Sab Mein Hai Ik King….
Read that as – there are several trashy movies like this, but there is a kind even amongst them! And most likely, Akki has another hit up his someplace yet again!

I went through a lot of emotions as I watched the movie. Some of it were related to my views on the movie. Some of it were related to my constant urge to check my mails in a hope that my colleagues in US would have something more sensible than Anees Bazmee’s crapshoot. In the end, the emotions had a similar flavor – Disappointment.

Akshay Kumar as Happy Singh manages to board a flight to Egypt while going for Australia. With no cash in his pocket, manages to go around Egypt with a hot chick. And Singh Sings and is Happy. Lands in Australia and meets the biggest underworld kinng (Sonu Sood) within an hour of landing (with no money and address of course!). Becomes an underworld kinng in the next 20 mins. Is Happy. Has a roadside lady pose as a rich woman at his mafia world’s expense – because the lady’s daughter does not know that her family is not rich anymore (sigh!) – while the henchmen play Yes Boss! More Sing-hing (its a different matter that Hing (asfoetida) is a pungent smelling thing added to some Indian dishes). And a whole lot of Priyadarshan Movie Climax scenes where humor is dependent on how clumsy people can be, and how outrageous the scene is. All this in 140 minutes (Yeah.. you do keep counting minutes!). Paisa Vasool.

Its a movie full of cliches, hamming, and average performances. In my book, it would be a below average movie. And being the bollywood buff I am, who can watch any trash, and being one who has no issues with leaving his mind outside the theater, I think I have a right to be unhappy (the pun on the name intended). The movie does not live up to the hype it created.

Now you may ask me – If everything is so bad, why is the movie going to be a hit. WELL .. I did not like Om Shanti Om that much.. and it became a rage. I hated Race. And from what I understand, its one of the biggest grossers of the year. And this movie belongs to the OSO genre of mindlessness. But beyond all this, there are some extremely funny moments and dialogues in the movie. Javed Jafferi in a loud role manages to create some cool moments. Yashpal Sharma manages to pull off another good comic performance. Katrina Kaif looks gorgeous as ever… and whether Sallu likes it or not, there is chemistry between KK and AK. Music is quite a rage already. Title track is going to be an anthem!

Anees Bazmee amazes me – Based on his IMDB record as a director, he cannot give two consecutive good ones. No Entry and Welcome had Sandwich and Benaam sandwiched in the middle. And before that, Deewangee came after Pyaar to Hona Hi Tha, which followed hulchul! Such variety!

I should have been careful!

At a certain point, a dialogue is – Ye aadmi to itna buddha hai ki sarkari naukri mein hota to ab tak teen baar retire kar chuka hota…. well…

Btw.. one really good thing about the show I watched – Trailers of 1. Kidnap, 2. The Last Lear, 3. Heroes and 4. Victory. Most of these movies – I did not have much idea about. Of these, Kidnap has Imran Khan (of Jane Tu Ya Jane Na) in an angry young man role taking Sanjay Dutt on. Last Lear is something I am looking forward to – Amitabh Bachan, Preity Zinta, Rituparno Ghosh, “Arindam Chaudhuri”, etc etc..

Movie Review: Winning the RACE hands down

In the last one year, bollywood has dished out some amazing crap. There have been movies like Goal, Strangers, Sunday, Jhoom Barabar Jhoom, Ta Ra Rum Pum, etc etc. But RACE beats them all hands down. It’s downright pathetic.

First thought after the movie ended – After every 15 minutes, Abbas Mastan realized that they have already done a lot of (in)justice to the current plot and so, they need a twist. Net result- a movie where everything has a twisted touch. Ouch for me! I don’t have that twisted a sense of humor.

More analysis – It’s a movie which combines bad story, torturous dialogues, pretty bad performances, lousy characterizations, pathetic direction, some absolutely horrible editing and sheer mindlessness.

Last thoughts – The movie could have been cut down by at least 2 hours. The remaining 34 minutes of the movie would probably be the song and dance routine, sold as a music album with some (potentially) cool videos.

Real Lows – The dialogues. I think the dialogues did it for me. Extremely cheesy, LS, 1960istic, and I am running out of politically correct expletives.

Disappointments – Saif (who according to me has improved gazillions since his tu hai mera lucky number, tera number hai 12, main hoon Aashiq Awara days), Akshaye Khanna (I have always thought that the dude can act! More so after movies like Gandhi, My Father).

High Point – Katrina Kaif. She delivers. She has mastered this drill of walking into the movie in a tunic kinda dress, singing and dancing to a few songs, mouthing a few dialogues here and there in her twisted hindi accent with absolutely no emotion, looking pretty, and playing the role of the perfect bimbette. (Come to think of it, I think someone can turn this into a movie – The Perfect Bimbo!). However, as I said, she fulfills the promise she has made throughout her career.

Ugh characters – Anil Kapoor and Sameer Reddy. Its no surprise to me that Mallika Sherawat refused to play that character. IMHO, Mallika has “some” brain compared to most of the B/C grade actresses in the industry.

And last nitpicking thing – The audibly good songs of the movie have been completely wasted through some below average choreography. None of the star-cast can really dance to music. Neither do they have Shahrukh’s energy to live up to a choreographer’s design.

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