Movie Review: Barfi!

There is a point in the movie where Barfi, sitting in a store room, is carving Shruti’s name on a “Prestige Pressure Cooker” (jo apni biwi se kare pyaar, wo prestige se kaise kare inkaar), and he notices her inside the shop. As he tries to confirm, the camera pans and moves from blinds to blinds till Barfi is sure. Shruti Sengupta looks like a Bengali baudi should, and Barfi approaches her. But stops, and takes out his comb and gets his appearance right. He tries to whistle but obviously, he doesn’t know that his whistle is silent. And then Shruti turns around. They make eye contact and Shruti goes through a series of conflicting emotions interrupted by the honking of her husband Ranjit, and Barfi carries the pressure cooker for her to outside the shop – that 90-120 second montage of emotions – that’s poetry. And that’s Barfi – four cheese fondue – dipped in four of the nine rasas – shringar, hasya, karuna, and adbhut.

The theatre erupts, holds its breath, sighs, and (almost) cries with Barfi. It amuses you, and keeps you smiling throughout. It makes you draw parallels with several things without ever slowing down so much so that you start caring about the parallel more than you care about Barfi. It tries to be a thriller in the middle, and while you cringe about the villain being too much of a villain, it finds the hero inside them as well.

The music blends so beautifully that you almost don’t notice it. The lyrics are poetic and situational. The sound is Darjeeling. Remember the fresh feel of kashto maza from Parineeta. Barfi’s soundtrack is made up of quite a few of those light in the middle and effervescent at the outside poignant songs. In fact, as discussed offline, the soundtrack sounds more like Shantanu Moitra than Pritam.

The tragedy is never overplayed, nor the deformities. The lack of dialogues does not bother you. Ileana’s voiceover is a good supplement, administered as required. And it’s not soppy to the point where you feel like it’s a rooting for the underdog movie. The screenplay is tight and lucid, even though it gets into a two-three layered flashback at certain points.

While it is brutal to compare it to “The Artist”, but the artist of this movie, while imitating Chaplin and Rowan Atkinson, has left a searing imprint on bollywood. Ranbir Kapoor is brilliant. Make that – BRILLIANT. I won’t analyze further.

Special mention for Ileana who is breathtakingly beautiful without looking unreal, Priyanka who’s making half the industry wonder how did she pull this one off. The world’s wondering what might have happened had she pulled off What’s Your Rashee and Saat Khoon Maaf in a similar fashion. She does go overboard a few times, but is, on the overall, very very good.

Anurag Basu has figured out that the three musicians (three blind mice?) in the background are his lucky charm. They were there in Life in a Metro, and they’re here too. He indulges himself. Not just once. But you will forgive him for that. For many of my generation, the throwback on the eighties and nineties is nice, albeit exaggerated. And thankfully, it’s a prop, and not the point.

The movie, in a very Masand like preachiness, is not without its flaws. It runs longer than it should, and there are stretches where you would want to gloss over rather than go through it again and again. But then, which classic have you read where there aren’t a few pages of creative self indulgence! There are times when Barfi’s Chaplin moments could have been snipped out, but then, they keep the theater light as well. It’s almost sad to see Ashish Vidyarthi becoming a shadow of what he could have been, but then, it wasn’t a movie for him. Biggest gripe I have is – Ileana does not speak Hindi the way Bongs would. While it probably does not matter, but with so much of the region thrown in here and there juts for the flavor, it would have helped to get some of those details right (the way Kahanii did). Saurabh Shukla is good, but then again, the region is missing from the dialect. Considering that he and Ileana have most of the dialogues in the movie, it would have been good to have. The level of detailing leaves a lot, but that’s not going to be a complaint you carry as you leave the theater.

Some of the emotions are left unexplained. And that’s good. I won’t tell you which ones.

By the way, I do think that an older Ranbir will look exactly as he’s shown in the movie. And Ileana looks so gracefully old. Good job by the makeup artists for not turning them into caricatures.

Endnote: Lovely movie. A 9 on 10. When you come out, you stay silent, and in your zone for a bit. And that zone is a happy place. So, please watch it.

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: 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 ….

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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