Chak De India: Revival of a dying game?

Just a Silly thought: why aren’t there many sports movies being made in Bollywood, despite the fact that it is a genre that sells pretty well all-over? Unfortunately, the ones that had been around hardly attempted to focus on the games; instead, used them as thematic context. Chak De India, perhaps, would be the first authentic and honest Bollywood attempt on a particular sport (also, as its sole selling point.) The fact that it’s more laudable is because the sport in question is also a dying entity. So, it was mandatory to use a massive star power to reach across the homes. SRK fitted the bill best; no surprise that he rode the audience solely on his magical PR charisma to the cinemas. But, from then the movie has been on its own — making clever moves, dodging obstacles with great finesse, and finally reaching smoothly to the viewers’ hearts!

Kabir Khan (SRK) — failed, discarded and despised, is a former captain of the Indian hockey team, who vows to savage his lost honor by transforming the national women hockey team into a winning one. Kabir, however, faces an uphill – if not impossible – task ahead. The team he has got is at best can be described as a collection of sixteen different state players: fragmented and individualistic, who don’t even have the self-belief; forget about the skills. As if that’s not all, Kabir and his team also has to fight the acute indifference and negligence from the board officials, who refuse to provide adequate support, leveraging the populist belief that Indian women are better suited in kitchen than playing a sport. All Kabir has left with is his belief and the will to bring the Gold for India.

What could be easily described as the best performance SRK has ever produced on screen: drives the entire story so brilliantly that at one point — when Kabir motivates the girls to bring out their best on the field, one feels the nerves getting pumped up and the fists tightened as if watching an India-Pakistan thriller. The rest of the cast were equally outstanding with each one bringing their characters live and so believable. And, that’s also what makes the movie appealing — the believability, unlike other Bolly-products, which would not think twice before flying a cow in the sky 🙂

Go for it!! Who knows, it might have just etched the turning point for Indian hockey…

Chak De

Badal Pe Paon Hai

Maula mere

Sattar Minue

August 17, 2007 at 12:36 am 1 comment

Paris Je t’aime: Cinema 2.0?

How would you describe an assembled package of eighteen five minute shorts, neatly woven and transitioned? a next generation of cinema i.e. cinema 2.0?? The stories, directed by different directors around the world, show 18 (originally planned for 20) arrondissements of Paris, and are woven with a single narrative in interstitial sequences. the main theme, as the name suggests, is Paris and Love, and eventually becomes the common thread among the stories. each story ends with the following one’s opening shot, and starts with the last one’s ending. the music and narration at the background prepare the audience for the next change. A unique way of making film, indeed. Although many of the individual stories are brilliant and thought provoking, the cohesive experience from the viewer’s perspective is not equally enthralling. it, somehow, stops just short of being a whole – leaving the mind unable to connect its parts into a schema. but, for the ones who thrive for the new and innovative, this one is a Must Watch.

August 9, 2007 at 2:26 pm Leave a comment

Water: Are you thirsty?

If there’s one movie that has quenched my thirsty soul in a long time, it would be Deepa Mehta’s Water that I had for long ignored and kept under the wrap. To be honest, i am not much fond of depressing cinema, however good or critically acclaimed that they may be. It was under that condition when you don’t know what to do in a rain-soaked Saturday evening that I reluctantly played the disc. For once I didn’t repent for not catching up with a current movie playing at the nearby multiplex. I was completely absorbed by the experience I had have in that two hours.
water

After a huge controversy in India, makers of Water had to complete the shooting in Srilanka, which was nominated for Oscar (under foreign film category) as a Canadian entry and went very close to wining it. I have no clue what the controversy was all about. Did we try to hedge the dirty past, which had suppressed women for centuries – sometimes in the form of sati, the child-marriages, disgraced widowhood and many more we’re not probably aware of – because we found it like a potential threat to our emerging image? I think somewhere we are scared to even admit the past, forget discussing.

Coming back to the movie, Water provides a very powerful snippet of these cultural blotches of our society during that early twentieth century time frame, where widowed women were denied their rights to live a respectful life. What could be termed as a gross violation of humanity, they were shoved and quarantined like harmful viruses, once their husbands would die – most of them were of their grandfather’s age, counting their last few days, at the time the marriage happened; sometimes the brides would be so young that they wouldn’t even know what marriage was all about. Imagine how inhumane it would be when an young widow – a playful little girl – was sent to a filthy widow home to spend rest of her life performing pujas (self purification that is!) to make amends for the sins from her previous life that supposedly caused her husband’s death. The home, located at one of the ghats of Varanasi, was already cramped with veteran (sarcastic) oldies. The wealthy men, many of them were revered figures, would use agents like Gulabi to bring the younger women from the home to fulfill their lust. So, as you see, a such ecosystem was created by men in the name of religion for their own purpose. The story walks you through this system through its characters – chuiya, a child widow (played by Sarala Kariyawasam, a Srilankan girl), Kalyani, a beautiful young woman (Lisa Ray), Shakuntala, a middle-aged woman (Seema Biswas), and Madhumati, the oldest of the lot, who ran the ashram (Manorama) – all of whom were primarily the victims of this system. The iconic representation was so strong in the movie that you will feel your skins crawl at some point, visualizing the women in your life in such context. The movie also shows a positive transition of the society towards the end, which were mainly leveraged by the great reformers like Mahatma Gandhi, Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar and Raja Ram Mohan Roy, and brought through the characters of Narayan (played by John Abraham), an young man from the upper-class society and an ardent follower of Gandhi, and Sadanand (Kulbhushan Kharbanda), a priest who would later provide the inputs to Shakuntala that helped her finally realize the truth; ultimately giving her the strength to liberate the child from this infested system – a metaphor that the director used brilliantly to showcase the uplift. this is where it succeeded too – for being able to radiate the positivism. At least, it worked for me.

The music is also gracious and regarded as one of the best from AR Rehman, which he himself rated as 10/10. Listen it here.

Here is a video on Deepa Mehta talking about the cinematography from the film.

August 8, 2007 at 9:49 pm Leave a comment

Apne: Welcome to Deol family reunion!!

After a long break of few weeks, I was finally able to watch a film. The backlog was quite heavy already due to the gap, which had already started giving me the itchiness. And boy, how the hell did I make a start-over! I sat through a long 173 minutes to watch a family reunion!! YES, it’s the tri-deol ‘Apne’!! The team of Gadar, a huge blockbuster, sort of reunited and ill-conceived a plot which intended to cash in on their favorite jingoism called ‘patriotism’.

There’s no denial that the story have had a good potential. And it started well too. Baldev Singh, a silver medal winning Indian boxer, was desperately holding on to life in a bid to wash the stigma that West had wrongly inflicted upon him. His hopes, first by his elder son Angad (Sunny Deol) and later through a local boxer he coached, were all crashing down as they ditched him; though, for different purposes. Baldev was getting more and more depressed until an accident brought him a blessing in disguise, when his younger son (Bobby Deol), who was partly paralytic, had had a miraculous recovery. The son decided to bring his father back the honor by joining boxing and participating into an international boxing challenge.

All was well until then. As the plot progressed further, the film was suddenly out of gas and looked like dragging along. Fighting scenes, which could have been the main draws, were below standard with unnecessary slow motioned stuffs, very predictable outcomes and over-sentimental touch-ups; eventually ruining the good foundation. The music was only worth reaching out for the mute button 🙂 as Himesh Reshamiya was likely focusing on his own movie – aannp knaa snurooooooor!!

Finally, Apne fails to connect as a whole barring a few occasional glories lying amidst a pile of disposals. i personally feel that it’s the poor presentation that crippled a good storyline. While the seniors – Dhramendra, Victor Banerjee and Kiran Kher sparkled, the younger Deols were consistent in delivering stupid and forgettable performances.

Trade reports, however, indicate an ‘Above Average’ status, possibly due to its strong show in northern India. It has also been a ‘success’ in the overseas – a fact that makes me wonder if the NRIs have collectively acquired a flair for non-substantial gimmicks (another example being Namaste London).

Songs i liked:

Mehfooz

Dekhhon tumhe to

Apne

Aankh Vich

July 24, 2007 at 5:47 pm 5 comments

Awarapan: So close yet so far…

awarapan

From the Bhatts’ stable, ‘Vishesh’, comes another not-so-special movie ‘Awarapan‘, directed by Mohit Suri of ‘Woh Lamhe/Kalyug/Zeher’ fame. Mohit Suri is one of the finest emerging story-tellers, so i believe, who knows how to deliver a commercially viable package, mixing the right ingredients at the right places. Though he does that quite well in Awarapan, but somehow loses it down the line; too much of blood and violence become spoilers at the end. However, Awarpan comes with a few good things that should see it home with a ‘Should watch‘ label around; an interesting though lifted/inspired story (Korean Film – DALKOMHAN INSAENG), some refreshing musical tracks by Pritam, few good performances including otherwise-intolerable Emraan Hashmi (Ashtosh Rana is cut above the rest), and a seasoned handling of characters within a neat flow of events. though the movie starts very well in the beginning and keeps you on the edge, it somehow fumbles in the second half leaving the viewers wanting for more…

[Trailer]

Listen Songs:
Maula mera maula

Toh Fir aao

Tera mera rishta

Mahiya

July 8, 2007 at 4:58 pm 2 comments

Shivaji exhibition eyes Guinness entry…

A unique exhibition, which brings alive around 250 forts captured by King Shivaji from the Mughals in the 16th century, has been thrown open in Pune… The organisers RajaShivaji.Com said the `Guinness Book of World Records’ will be taking note of the event as it has surpassed all earlier photo exhibitions in respect of the pictures put on display.

[source: Hindustan Times]

By the way, it has nothing to do with the current public rage from the stable of another Shivaji (Rao Gaekwad), the southern emperor – Rajnikanth’s ‘Sivaji: The boss‘!

read more | digg story

June 29, 2007 at 4:45 pm 3 comments

Jhoom BarAbar Jhoom: Booms to the Doom!

jhoom-barabar-jhoom

I have class…”, insists Rikki (Abhiskek Bachhan) in every possible opportunity he gets, though he completely lacks it. And so does ‘Jhoom Barabar Jhoom’; Ditto. Yes, that’s how I can sum up the entire movie and possibly end the infuriating tumult inside me that it caused. But some insipid yet big-mouth entity like this needs a bit more assaults for the loss, shock, and agony it offers for our hard-earned money.

Two people, engaged to different people, arrive in Europe to get married, but fall in love with each other instead. That’s the movie plotline, and the moment you read something like this, expect nothing. Lesson One!

Then you see a bizarre looking Big B in tight pants humming a song like an erratic nomad. By now, you already have the feeling that you’ve actually bought a moronic fart machine thinking it as a hi-fi music system! Still you go into the ‘denial’ mode and think that it’s just an aberration—a temporary glitch—that will go away. “Hope feeds broke”; so you hold your breadth and prepare yourself for a story to emerge. The clock ticks. The idiotic duo, Abhishek and Preity, are still caught up in telling stories to each other at Waterloo station, as they wait for their respective fiancées to arrive. Sr. Bachhan wanders in between to croon. And the situation predictably turns into a romantic (or comic, or stupid?) one. “wat the hell!”, you think, “Where’s the damn story?”

Then you remember the tagline—This June dance… jump… shout..—and you suddenly feel an upward pressure at your rump to jump out and shout loud “B-A-****-D”!!!! But by the time you do that, the Yash Raj gang has already sucked into your wallet, and are raising toasts somewhere else, while their paid critics are busy inserting a few extra stars into the ratings.

Way to go bollywood. It’ll take another 100+ years to arrive at the international landscape, despite IAFA and the cine-stars continually and comically boast of doing that, if such movies continue to be made, sold and encouraged.

Jhoom Barabar Jhoom, now you know, is worse than going to a filthy public toilet under pressure; though, both such ordeals evoke the same expression at the end (“Thank God it’s OVER!”), but in the later case you eventually thank it for being there…

That makes me wonder if YRs would better build public toilets than movies! For now, they got no one to Jhoom with 😦 which reminds me of our men in blue…


[trailer]

Listen Songs:

Jhoom

Bol na halke halke

Ticket to Hollywood

June 27, 2007 at 8:46 pm 3 comments

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