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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Music Review: Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi

 

RabNeBanaDiJodi (*ing Shahrukh Amol Palekar Khan)

 

This is the latest trend music – glossy YR Films or a lookalike movie (OSO, Bachna Ae Haseeno, Race, Dostana etc.) with about 6-7 songs – one romantic number, one sad song sung by (usually) Shreya Ghoshal or Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, a peppy number by (usually) Sunidhi Chauhan where some dude named Blaze uses words that I dont understand the meaning of,and lastly, if its not getting covered in the above categories, a song by Sukhwinder Singh/ Atif Aslam. One song per singer in the movie is the new paradigm. Remix of 1-2 sings in the main album itself is another (they are just not letting some the remixing DJs survive, I tell you!)

 

Look back at some of the musical hits that fall in the glossy category this year, and you will know what I mean.

Anyway, how does Rab ne bana di jodi fit on the trend line –

1. Romantic Song – Haule Haule belongs to the combo of Sukhwindar and romantic category. Or, you can add, TUjh mein rab dikhta hai
2. Sad – The shreya ghoshal version of Tujhme rab dikhta hai
3. Fun – Dance pe chance by Sunidhi 
4. Remix – Dance pe chance remix
5. Rahat/Atif not in this album. Ably replaced by Sonu Nigam and Roop Kumar Rathod.

Now – what do I think of the music? 

If you are ready to forget and forgive Aditya Chopra for setting expectations through DDLJ and Mohabattein, the music is not that bad. But if you are looking for that charm, forget it!! Salim Suleiman, do not even meet their own high standards! 

Haule Haule, as can be seen through the new found popularity of the RNBDJ promos, is the pick of the lot. Sukhwindar adds a lot of soul to the sing, the punjabi touches, and a lot of passion. It grows on you. And it is growing on me! Another Sukhi ace! 

Tujhme Rab dikhta hai – its a good song, but it does not hit you that hard. Shreya Ghoshal version is better than Roop Kumar Rathod version (probably because its sadder). I am a sucker for sad songs. 

Dance Pe Chance – Average joe. Will catch on as the song is promo-ed on air. Thats my forecasting model talking. But not my heart. Shut up and bounce is catchier than this one! 

Phir Milenge Chalte Chalte – is a spoof song. With lyrics made up of songs and hindi movie names of yester years. So.. my guess is that again, the picturisation of the song will do the trick. Otherwise, very difficult to hum along, and not that great either. 

 

Overall –
I would give it a 3 on 5 – Average – because the singers do put in a lot of heart behind the songs which are quite average. Recommendation – download/stream and listen. If you like it, buy the CD. 

 

Passing Thought – Do you also think the Sonu Nigam is loosing his touch with singing? I think his voice is flattening out now

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: Chak De India

Update – Just realized that I had left this post in the draft mode! 🙂
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This movie should become a big hit. And you have to see the movie to understand why.

It’s a pretty drab script about a failed coach leading a substandard team to world cup glory, nothing less. It has 16 very very average to hopeless actors trying to support Shahrukh ‘Kabir Khan’ make this movie what it is. The music barring a few chords here and there can at best be called average. But the movie is nothing short of sensational. A perfect sports movie capturing the spirit of sportsmanship, the passion that being at the highest level requires, the agony of loss, the ecstasy of victory, the embarrassment and happiness of newly found fame, the jealousy between champions, and the lack of humility being the downfall of every sportsman.
The movie took me to the times when I used to take the field. Much as you know that this is just a game, and winning and losing are a part of it, only a sportsman can understand the pain of losing a game. The one thing I have never been able to understand about betting scandals is how someone can throw the game at the highest level. The honor, pride and emotions (in addition to the love for the game) are what make you play the game at the highest level. Maybe the money is too high and people do get tempted. But I am sure its difficult to implement the bet once you take the field. It must kill you as a sportsman.

Anyways, back to the movie, I think this movie is perfect film-making example. The Director does not depend on too many things/people to make a great movie. He just knows what he is making, and what he wants his actors to do, what his cinematographers to shoot. For this movie, I would give full marks to the Director. And to Shahrukh. Now, to tell you, I am not a great fan of Shahrukh. More often than not, I don’t like his movies. The candy floss romance from the YR table is just not me. I would anyday prefer watching a Gunda, Shivaji, Partner over a Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna. But in this movie, its one helluva restrained performance, no hamming and you get a feeling that he must have played some game at some point in time.

The editing and cinematrography when it comes to the hockey match scenes is also good. Whats definitely worth mentioning is that unlike most of the hindi sports movies where bulk of the movie time is devoted to off-the-field histrionics, this movie is a humbly sports-centric movie and spends most of the time on the field (and training grounds). There aren’t too many people falling in and out of love, neither are they doing it for their father/mother. Everyone is playing for himself/herself and eventually, for the pride and honor of playing for the Indian team. That’s the winning sentiment.

And quite refreshingly, the way the cast is selected, at least most of them don’t look like jokers holding hockey sticks (remember Asif  Tariq (thanks Kuffir for pointing this out) holding the guitar in Kya hua tera waada? Or, Rishi Kapoor molesting the guitar in Dard-e-Dil dard-e-jigar? Or, more specifically, Amir Khan fooling around with a bat in Awwal Number?)

I would STRONGLY RECOMMEND watching this movie. And you can tell me that you were not able to feel the surge of emotions at different times.

Ahh.. and before I close the post – a song which is definitely worthy of mention – Maula mere le le meri jaan!! Beautiful, in the background, and extremely melancholic. You all must listen to this track!

Movie Review: Jhoom Barabar Jhoom


I managed to watch Jhoom Barabar Jhoom
over the weekend.. Saturday morning first show it was! And I am glad it was so… why? Morning show tickets are cheaper than the evening shows. Much to my agony, in this age of scantily clad actresses and sparkling colors on the Yashraj screen, I was still not able to recover my 90 bbucks. Not even Gulzar’s lyrics, Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy’s music, london locales… Nothing worked! Pathetic movie!

Its a movie which revels in mindlessness, below average acting, and poor casting.

The basic plot of the movie seems inspired by the movie Chocolate featuring Anil Kapoor, Emran Hashmi, Irfan Khan and Tanushree Dutta. Not the bank robbery thing, but people cooking up stories on the fly looking at the billboards and magazines lying around. Guy meets girl. Girl wants to avoid guy. Cooks up a story about being engaged. Guy cooks up a similar story about being engaged. (How usual!) Both cookup extremely flimsy idiotic stories. Start liking each other. But can’t say! Since the other likes someone else. Mess? No! They go back to their homes. Call up each other. Forcefully and with the right set of incentives, persuade their story characters to participate in a 15 minute long dance and music competition, at the beginning of which know the only surprise element left is – “who will win the dance competition?”. Everything else is already fixed. Match fixing, eh? Worse still – even the choreo of this 15 minute marathon is not great.
The constant reference to the guys being from india and the gals being from Pakistan is just not needed. There are better ways of advocating unification of India and Pakistan into one nation!
Absolutely no chemistry being Abhishek and Preity. 2 smooch scenes featuring Lara Dutta (once with Abhishek, and the next time with Bobby Deol). What is the bachchan family thinking now? I heard there were some strong reactions to Hrithin-Ash smooch scene in Dhoom2, including some from Abhishek too! Preity refuses to oblige in a similar way. With her, its back to the flowers in gardens, birds in sky and other such metaphors. Bobby Deol is pathetic, no surprises there. Lara Dutt looks hot, but 1. is there for a very short duration and 2. even that doesn’t help.

And those who are wondering where Amitji is in the middle of all this – This really is a new role for him! Special Guest appearance as a singing dancing sensation, who sings and dances everywhere in London, without any invitation. And the same song, over and over again!

Best character – Hafeez Bhai! He has his comic moments!

Music- some of the songs are good. You can see some of Gulzar and SEL in action there! Title Song, Bol Na Halke Halke, and Ticket to Hollywood are the ok.

Overall – Dont watch!

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