Faridoon Shahryar's Blog

Friday, April 29, 2011

Shor In The City: Get Hooked To This Mesmeric Noise!

Move over pretentious Slumdog Millionaire, its time the world took notice of a brilliant and true-to-life indigenous ode to Bombay. Shor In The City has the potential to create a loud Shor not merely in India but across the world. Varied stories crisscrossing seamlessly, fallacy of human relationships and the little big emotions superbly amplified by fantastic camerawork and crafty direction. This film scores in every department. And scores very high.

Several films have been made on Mumbai. Several films have been made, which are an amalgamation of multiple stories. In that context, Shor In The City is another film on the similar lines. The narrative structure is obviously Non Linear. So, how is it different from other films? Technically, its a very superior film.Tushar Kanti Ray's breathtaking Cinematography makes this film world class. Many a times, the camera movements have a delightful hand-held rawness that is extremely captivating. Even the colour scheme gives each frame an earthy grainy effect. Ashmit Kunder's Editing is bang on. The pace is delectably laid-back and yet the story keeps on getting layered with new dimensions. The climax has a subtext that zaps you completely.

The background score and the original soundtrack are top notch. In fact, the sound design of the film at many places is like an independent character in itself. For e.g. the Visarjan sequence is accentuated by the manner in which the music tempo goes up and down, thus highlighting the mood swings of principal characters and the prevailing situations.

The real hero of Shor In The City is its screenplay. Directors Raj Nidimoru and Krishna DK have also been credited with the Story-Screenplay. There's fluidity in the manner in which each character unfolds and the kind of language that is used. Once again it gets established that Mumbai is a city that assimilates any and every culture. There's the hard core Mumbai lingo of the three petty criminals played by Tushar Kapoor, Nikil Dwivedi and Pitobash Tripathy while Sendhil Ramamurthy and Preeti Desai with their British accent find a context of their own. Aspiring cricketer Sundeep Kishan, like many others in the city, finds a cozy corner on a sea facing promenade to get intimate with his girlfriend. Each character has their dreams-n-aspirations smeared with a quest for self respect and self preservation.

The casting director deserves full marks for putting together a wonderful ensemble cast. Tushar Kapoor is brilliant. The shades of grey-n-goodness have been gelled superbly. When he helps out an injured kid or the manner in which he elevates his performance in the end is awesome. Nikhil Dwivedi holds his own and sensibly doesn’t try to overshadow others. Pitobash Tripathy as the firebrand Mandook is the real find of the film. “Chal English mein sorry bol,” he says and you end up cracking with laughter. Tripathy is in the same league as Deepak Dobriyal and will surely be an actor to watch out for in the days to come.

Sendhil Ramamurthy delivers a nuanced performance. He looks real with a flabbergasted expression when he is asked for protection money. The much hyped Preeti Desai has a miniscule role. Radhika Apte as Tushar’s wife is a revelation. She speaks so much through her eyes. Sundeep Kishan as the young cricketer effectively showcases an ability to keep the viewers interested. Zakir Hussain as the hot headed local gangster is expectedly impressive.

Directors Raj Nidimoru and Krishna DK have made everyone stand up and take notice of their tremendous talent. They have managed to make a film that not only entertains, but also makes you think and introspect without being preachy-or-profound. Their objective approach of being true to the screenplay and expertly navigating through a tricky climax inter-cutting all the stories is masterful. I really hope the makers push this film internationally so that it could get it due share of recognition.

Shor In The City: Do yourself a favour…get mesmerised with this Noise…Today!

Star Rating: ****

Chalo Dilli: Why Not!

Chalo Dilli is a feel good film wrapped in the fragrance of Desh-Ki-Mitti. The road journey from Mumbai to Delhi reminds you of Jab We Met in a way especially because of the emphasis on capturing the finer quirkiness of small town India. Decently written and sincerely executed, this Shashant Shah film has several merits to deserve your time and money at the movie hall.

Vinay Pathak's larger-than-life persona and a natural flair for comedy keeps you engaged for most parts. The Manu Gupta in him is a quintessential common man that is both likable and detestable at the same time. Lara Dutta's Meika Banerji is the high bro Corporate type who carries her mineral water and is obviously perturbed by Manu's burps-n-farts-n-spitting habits. They are an unlikely behenji-bhai sahab combo who take you through their intriguingly entertaining potholed journey.

The basic premise why Lara misses her Delhi flight and ends up hiring a seedy taxi from Jaipur Airport (I am sure the Airport gives you a better option than a rickety ambassador car) is not convincing. The climax is too stretched and the attempt to answer questions that you don't even want to ask is a needless attempt at over simplification of unearthing the plot. In fact the film could have been chopped off by at least 20 minutes. Music is strictly average. Except for the notable title track and the raunchy remix of Laila O Laila (will keep the 'Item' flag flying high), the songs tend to drag the story. Also, how on earth does Lara's make up remain prim-n-propah through the mud-n-grime of the heartland?

As a viewer, does the film keep you interested from start to finish? Yes, for most parts. And that is definitely an achievement in today's times when most of the over hyped movies fail to hold your attention. The uncouth Bablu driver, the forest Dhabha owner who unknowingly scares Lara with his tales of snakes and 'bhedias', local mafia with their gun-loaded Desi similis and metaphors, rishwatkhor train ticket collector and 'alluring' art work at the Red Tomato Hotel provide you lasting moments that you carry back home from the movie hall.

Vinay Pathak's character has been expertly written by Arshad Syed. He is a 50-50 character. If you like his simplicity, way-with-words in the trickiest of situations and sense of humour, then he will give you enough reasons to cringe at the natural tendency to invite trouble, despicable sense of hygiene-n-manners and an absolute disregard for any urgency even in the most harrowing conditions. Syed's dialogues are amusing and carry an authentic flavour of the soil.

Vinay Pathak has played his part very well and truly justified the director's faith in him. Yes, you don't have to be a six-pack-moron to get eyeballs. You can be pot bellied with bloated cheeks and yet earn the respect-n-recognition of a wide audience. Pathak knows his strengths and effortlessly plays to the gallery. Lara Dutta, despite the make-up blooper remains within her character. And to her credit, she doesn't try and do anything unconventionally 'real' to prove-a-point as a serious actress. She is a good foil to Pathak's cute antics and this unlikely pair weaves up a good chemistry. Most of the supporting actors add value to taking the narrative forward. Production Designer Teddy Maurya also plays a delightful cameo as a local don. Interestingly Maurya also played the unforgettable owner of 'Decent Hotel' in Jab We Met.

Nikos Andritsakis' camerawork is realistic and captures the hues-n-shades of rural India very well. As I mentioned earlier the editing is sloppy and the film's editor Aseem Sinha should have been ruthless in cutting off the loose ends. Director Shashant Shah has made a decent film that is watchable for sure. He is honest in his portrayal of the charm of Indian heartland. Yes, he does goof up in some areas but maybe there could have been other forces that 'influenced' his vision to allocate prominence to the people who 'matter'. My grievance is that such a film as this should not have been released at a busy junction of a filmi weekend clamouring with three other films for attention.

Chalo Dilli: Why Not!

Star Rating: ***

Friday, April 22, 2011

Bollywood On My Mind (April 22, 2011)

Interviewing Govinda is not an easy task at all. As we were about to start, an aide told him that he looked tired. The actor immediately went to the washroom to freshen up. Once he was back, he asked the cameraman who was manning the camera with his frame to shoot a tight close up and show him. One take, he felt he looked tired. Consequently, the light was shifted by a certain angle. Two more takes of the same shot and he was still not sure. I said, "Sir the moment you smile and laugh, you'll look as fresh as ever." My flattering remark worked and the interview started. Before we started, I asked if there were plans to be a Director (considering he directed us rather well). His answer was "No way".

I started the interview in Hindi since he is more comfortable in the language. Its important to understand the comfort zone of the celebrity that one is interviewing to get the best possible results. Govinda spoke on 'Naughty @40', why he still has the tag of 'doing vulgar stuff like Sarkaiye liyo khatiya' (Raja babu), he refused to accept that 'Ladki kahaan hai' line from Naughty @ 40 is in a way vulgar and demeaning to women. He kept on equating 'Virgin 40 year old man looking for love line'.

Govinda spoke on his long innings, the influence of his mom, what's happening with Partner 2, his equation with Salman Khan and does he have differences with his Partner, what's happening with 'Banda Ye Bindaas Hai' and 'Run Bhola Run'.

Director of Naughty@ 40 is Jagmohan Mundhra. Interesting man. Interesting Resume. He is an alumunus of IIT Bombay, has made erotic thrillers like 'Sexual Malice', 'Monsoon' etc and has also made films on social awarenss like 'Bawandar' and 'Provoked'. He also emphasised on the 'love' element in 'his film rather than lewdness. Mundhra also spoke about his ambitious project on Sonia Gandhi. He feels that Preity Zinta can make for a good Sonia Gandhi coz of the dimples. There's still no final word on the film.

There was an On Location of Salman Khan's 'Ready' in Mumbai today where the media shot scenes from the song 'Dhinka Chika'. The music release of the film is happening in Mumbai on April 25. I haven't seen 'Dum Maro Dum' or 'Zokkomon' yet. But hearing good things about Abhishek Bachchan's performance and apparently the second half of DMD is not working.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

"Directors Are Like Sophisticated Pimps": Anurag Kashyap

Doing an interview with Anurag Kashyap is always a treat. He is honest, blunt and gives loads of headline worthy bytes. In the first part of this BH exclusive, Anurag talks about 'Shaitan', the shallow manner in which the film industry functions, his take on the Payal Rohatgi-Dibakar Banerji controversy, does he stand by his outburst against Bachchans over Khelein hum Jee Jaan Sey and is he afraid of people pointing fingers at him for promoting his girlfriend Kalki. One of my best interviews for sure.


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

"We Should Stop Mixing Handsome Stars With Main Actors": Amol Gupte

"We Should Stop Mixing Handsome Stars With Main Actors. That way Brando may have to retire. We wouldn't have had Godfather," says Amol Gupte in his bollywoodhungama.com exclusive. Gupte honestly expressed his thoughts on the discrimination meted out to the writers in Bollywood. The analogies given by him are interesting. Gupte also talks about his film 'Stanley Ka Dabba'.

I've interviwed many film personalities but Amol Gupte is one of the few who make you feel special. He is not merely a special talent. He is an artiste who doesn't run after the dramatic desperation of Bollywood. Gupte also sang a few lines from a song that he has composed himself for 'Stanley ka Dabba'.


Monday, April 18, 2011

Gift A Positive Smile To The Elderly

Last few days have been life altering. My father had a Stroke and spent a few days in the Hospital. Luckily it was not critical but an alarm for us nevertheless. He is back home now and recovering well. Someone said its old age (75), but still howsoever old your parents maybe, you wouldn't want them to go.

My elder brother rushed to Bombay from US. We tried to keep the surroundings of Abba as light as possible, cutting jokes, talking about all his illustrious accomplishments and achievements to bring back the confidence that gets dented by a Stroke. Insha made a few cards for him and he seems to be loving her attention and care the most.

A Stroke affects the speech and its important that the patient talks to retain his/her vocabulary and awareness of language. Abba hasn't been talking much and gives precise answers to the questions asked by us. I've been trying to put my journalistic experience to use by enquiring about the thought process for writing poetry, the movies (for which Abba had penned lyrics) that were never made, his childhood, the impact of great poets like Ghalib and great men like the former Indian President Zakir Hussain sb on his personality.

Abba had written the songs for Muzaffar Ali's 'Zooni' (famous Kashmiri poet Habba Khatoon). The film starred Vinod Khanna and Dimple Kapadia. It was shot in Kashmir in early 1990s. But the problem in the valley stalled its shooting and it was never completed. A few of the songs were recorded. One song 'Rukhe Dildaar Deedam, Daras Ko Aaye Preetam' outstandingly sung by Asha Bhosle ji had a brilliantly haunting melody composed by Khayyam sahab. We heard that song a lot during our childhood. I really hope Muzaffar Ali and HMV Saregama will someday release the 'Zooni' music album. It had the 'Umrao Jaan' stamp on it.

This was also my first personal experience of a major illness in the family. It has greatly sensitised me to the problems of old people. Weakness of body isn't equal to weakness of spirit. Patience, care and sensitivity can bring the best out of the elderly. They are far younger than the young (in age) in many ways. Abba is happy in eating anything that Aarefa makes. No complaints, no demands. He plays Ludo with Insha and reads her story books for her.

Death is an eventuality that one can't deny. Seeing your loved ones in pain, pains a lot. Somehow one starts valuing life by the mere fact that tomorrow we may not be around. I've always tried to be sensitive towards the elderly. I promise, each time I'll see any old person, I'll make sure to stop and lend a helping hand if required. Or otherwise, maybe gift a positive smile.

Friday, April 15, 2011

"Ready Is Most Wanted"

The first look promo of Ready is a good news for Salman fans. "Zindagi mein teen cheez ko kabhi underestimate nahin karna- I, Me And Myself," says Khan at the end of the promo. Worth many a whistles. I spoke to T Series Director Ajay Kapoor once again and he clarified on a few rumours and discussed the promotional plans of Ready. So, when is the music launch of Ready, is Farah Khan choreographing 'Character Dheela', how many songs in the film, when is the first song promo coming out and how is Salman going to promote his film. All this and more in this bollywoodhungama.com exclusive.


Saturday, April 9, 2011

Thank You: No Thank You!

A bhelpuri of stars, beautiful Canadian locations, lots of skimpily clad women and sexist dialogues. Thank You. Hmmmm...Not really. No Entry, Shaadi No 1, Masti... the list of ’inspirations’ is endless for this Anees Bazmee film. What strikes you is that if someone has so much of money to splurge on making the film look so grand and opulent, why can’t they think up of a more novel idea (and aren’t we fed up of vulgar, regressive concepts). When will Bollywood start taking the ’writing’ in a film seriously?

On the positive side, Akshay Kumar is looking fresh and successfully tries to impress with his cool-quotient. He is in a good form when it comes to the song-n-dance routine (though the songs aren’t happening) and the likable con-man-come-detective act is somewhat commendable. But the actor who gifts you several laughs in the film is Irrfan Khan. That’s the hallmark of a versatile actor that he manages to give even an absurd film, a tinge of credibility. Khan is genuinely funny. Still, one must say that many of his dialogues darted towards wife Rimi Sen are downright sexist and objectionable.

Bobby Deol, Irrfan Khan and Sunil Shetty are married men with a proficient roving eye. Sonam Kapoor, Rimi Sen and Celina Jaitley play their respective wives with the common fate of failed attempts at trying to keep their husbands under check. Most of the escapades of the men are excuses for advertising generous skin show of the firang extras and hopefully get the ’eyeballs’. Akshay Kumar is a detective-come-adviser-come-brother, who, while solving the problems, actually complicates them even further.

There are way too many loopholes in the film. The story is pathetically worn out. One can indulge in stupid suspension of disbelief but still there ought to be a method in senselessness too. Even though Sonam is Bobby Deol’s wife and is flirting with Akshay primarily to make her husband jealous, but still the audience is made to feel that Kumar has a thing-or-two for the Kapoor babe. The philanthropic idea behind Kumar’s actions (or should we call them antics) is extremely silly and bizarre. Sonam’s make up is tacky and you can see the colour complexion of her skin undergo changes. Considering she is touted to be a style icon, this won’t earn her brownie points from the fashion police. Celina’s bursting-with-anger-nostrils act on catching her husband cheating on her is just one example of garish over-the-top crassness. Bobby is an undercover cop and his wife of many years, isn’t aware of it. How convenient.

Pritam’s music is a huge let down. Razia is aimed at the masses but this item song lacks the Munni-Sheila punch by a long margin. Steven H Bernard’s editing is sloppy. One can notice a blooper when after an interaction between Akshay and Sonam near a waterfall, the camera zooms out and one can notice a few people (must be assistants of the film) crouching near a wall. The pace of the film is sluggish. The gags fall flat most of the time. Four people have been given credits as writers: Rajiv Kaul, Anees Bazmee, Rajan Agarwal and Ikram Akhtar (Akhtar naam hone se hamesha ’Jaadu’ nahin hota). The dialogues, as I mentioned earlier, are somewhat funny, when Irrfan Khan is in the picture. Rest are stock lines that have heard-before, boringly written all over them.

Akshay Kumar acts reasonably well (better than Housefull, Action Replayy etc etc). Still, he needs to add some variety to the roles that he chooses. There’s much more to being an entertainer. Doling out the same fare at short intervals is not helping his stock in Bollywood. Sonam Kapoor is wasted. The simpering cry-baby act is not going to add anything to her CV (specially when she has been making loud claims and passing judgments on several of her contemporaries). Suneil Shetty’s clownish avatar doesn’t work. Bobby Deol is a shadow of a star that he could have been. Celina Jaitley should stop pretending to ’Act’. Rimi Sen is effervescent and sprightly. You will enjoy her on screen presence. Her comic timing is impressive.

Anees Bazmee as a director is losing his grip on the Bollywood Box Office. He needs to pull up his socks. The regressive stance of Irrfan-Rimi track draws analogy from the ’Saajan Chale Sasural’ brand of cinema that is not acceptable any more. To give credit, Thank You is definitely a better entertainer than Bazmee’s disastrous No Problem. But its not entertaining enough for you to bring home a bouquet of smiles.

Thank You: No Thank You!

Star Rating: **

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Bollywood On My Mind (April 7, 2011)

Doing an interview with Mr Ram Gopal Varma is always a treat. He is doing a film 'A Love Story' based on Neeraj Grover murder case. As always, RGV was candid in his answers. As a matter of fact it was his birthday today but he says he "hates birthdays since one year of the life has gone away".

We also spoke about the other film that he'll be starting in mid June called 'Department' starring Amitabh Bachchan, Abhishek Bachchan, Sanjay dutt and Kangna Ranaut. This film releases in November this year. He isn't affected by the disastrous response to Abhishek's last few films. He also spoke on Rangeela and Satya. Yes, there's something more that he spoke about but for that one ought to check out the interview. Coming tomorrow.

I wrote yesterday that I'd like to interview noted film author Nasreen Munni Kabir. Well, the wish came true today itself. A very nice, affable and simple person, she wins you over instantly. She had seen the review that I had done on the book on 'Pyaasa' (written by her). It seemed she had liked the video of that review.


Nasreen told me that the book on Rahman was written over a period of eight years since the idea germinated way back then. She met Rahman in Chennai, London etc and the final productive stage of the interviews happened through Skype. Interesting. Isn't it! She also spoke about her hugely popular documentary 'The Inner and Outer World of Shahrukh Khan'.

While speaking to my colleague Zoheb later in the evening, I was told something that made me chuckle and gasp both at the same time. Zoheb told me that at the Rahman book release function yesterday, a journalist asked Nasreen that if she added Munni in the middle of her name after 'Munni Badnam Hui' became hugely popular. Yes, some of the questions during the press conferences are really silly and gross. This must have been one of them.

Bollywood events for tomorrow:

1) Press Conference of the film 'I Am' where Juhi Chawla, Sanjay Suri, Rahul Bose, Nandita Das, Arjun Mathur, Abhimanyu Singh and Shernaz Patel will be present apart from director Onir.

2) At the book launch of 'Broken Melodies' by Gajra Kottary, Anupam Kher, Dimple Kapadia, Kunal Kapoor and Mahi Gill will be present.

Also, 'Thank You' releases tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Bollywood On My Mind (April 6, 2011)

Almost the entire day yesterday was spent in executing the video of the book review of 'A R Rahman-The Spirit Of Music'. I really enjoy the process of initiating a plan, executing it and then hoping that it will be appreciated by the people. Some videos are special and this was one of them. Minutest of care was taken in giving the due credits. Now, hoping that a wide spectrum of Rahman fans will watch this video. For me its always very important that any video that we produce has to be watched by maximum people. Box Office matters. And so does quality of the content. Aim is to try and fuse quality content with the likes of the masses.


I wanted to do an interview with the author of this book Nasreen Munni Kabir. But somehow in spite of frantic efforts, it didn't materialise. I really like the writing style of Nasreen. She is the daughter of Mr Mukri, one of the finest character actors in the Hindi film industry. He has done several memorable films with Mr Bachchan.

My colleague Zoheb informed that at the first look launch of 'Stanley Ka Dabba' today, Vishal Bhardwaj had a lot of good things to say about debutante director Amol Gupte's (creative director-writer of Taare Zameen Par) effort. Gupte on his part said that this film was a result of a workshop that he had undertaken with the kids.

We have featured the first look promo of Raginni MMS. Yup, the promo is intriguing. The producers of Love Sex Aur Dhokha seem determined to push the envelope of small budget films that are high on hype driven by a strong publicity machinery.


Book Review: A R Rahman-The Spirit Of Music

Here's a Bollywood Hungama Exclusive Book Review of 'A R Rahman-The Spirit Of Music'. This book will be launched today. We give you a sneek peak into Rahman's personal and professional life. Hope you like it.


Here's the script of the video commentary that I did for this video (video link in comments section)

This brilliant book chronicles the life and times of Rahman's personal and professional life and the big gift for the Rahman fans is a music cd called Connections having 8 fantastic spiritual tracks composed by Rahman and inspired by Ameen Peerullah Malik Sahab.

Nasreen has done an exhaustive interview with Rahman traversing his entire life and it is presented in a non linear format

How was the childhood of this musical genius, the big role played by his mother in shaping his destiny, early demise of his father and how he and his family scraped through facing severe hardships, reasons for converting to Sufi Islam, how he has grown spiritually over the years with the help of his spiritual gurus, what makes him humble and down to earth and why whenever he has to imagine Home the thoughts of his childhood home at Habibullah Road in Chennai comes to his mind. And yes the roof leaked in this house during rains.

Rahman talks about the bleak phase after his father's death when he played musical instruments in whatever recordings came his way, how he found decent security once he started producing Ad Jingles, when he talks about his mom selling off jewelery meant for the marriage of his two sisters so that Rahman could buy his multi track recorder in 1990, it makes you choke but yes it seems kinda real life imitating reel life....there are long discussions on his association with varied filmmakers like Mani Rathnam, Shekhar kapoor, Danny Boyle, Shankar, Ram Gopal Varma, Subhash Ghai etc. There are noteworthy discussions on the importance of good lyrics for making a lasting song, why he gave break to new singers, his influences both in the south as well as the hindi film industry, experience of working in the West, what did Oscar mean to him and how he looks at the future.

One is also treated to a detailed discography of Rahman's works in all languages and spheres along with various recognitions bestowed upon him in India as well as abroad.

Talking about the Audio CD Connections that is complimentary with the book, there are some wonderful instrumental tracks...three of them are called Silent Invocation 1 , 2, 3 respectively where Naveen Kumar's haunting flute mesmerises you...in Kural, rap singer Blaaze soulfully sings in English while Mann Chandra has been written by Sukhwinder Singh and he sings it along with Shweta Pandit.

Having had the privilege of interviewing A R Rahman on a few occasions, i can safely say that he is a man of very few words and one has to really labour hard to get answers beyond short sentences or mono syllables...in that context, i must say that Nasreen has succesfully made the musical genius open up like never before....A R Rahman The Spirit of Music is an extremely fine biographical piece that must be savoured and yes Connections makes it a double treat for all the fans....go for it

Star Rating: ****

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Bollywood On My Mind (April 5, 2011)

My friend Margaret has asked me to write down my views on a regular basis apart from posting the links of the work that I do on this blog. Well, lemme try it out and let's see how regular I can be. To start with, lets stick to the Bollywood context. Today is the music launch of 'Chalo Dilli' starring Lara Dutta and Vinay Pathak. Its the debut production of Lara. The first look promo has been extremely intriguing and fun. Surely looking forward to the film.

Tomorrow is going to be a hectic day. Here are the four main events lined up for April 6:

1) Vishal Bharadwaj will unveil the first look of Amole Gupte's (Taare Zameen Par's creative director) film 'Stanly Ka Dabba'
2) IIFA and TIFF (Toronto Film Festival) will join hands to showcase "Raj Kapoor and the Golden Age of Indian Cinema". Kareena, Rishi and Randhir Kapoor will be present at this event.
3) Mani Rathnam will launch the book 'A R Rahman-The Spirit Of Music'. The book has been written by Nasreen Munni Kabir. Rahman will be present at this event.
4) There will be the star studded Premiere of 'Thank You'. Akshay Kumar will be present. Sonam Kapoor will be skipping the event since she is still recuperating from her illness.

I have read 'A R Rahman-The Spirit Of Music'. It is a very fine biographical piece on the musical genius with some rare pictures and the added bonus is a music CD called 'Connections' which has eight superb tracks composed by Rahman. This book will sell like hot cakes across the world.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Craftily Stitched Heart

A few mossy dreams
Hesitant expectations
Treasure relationships
Fluctuating fortunes
Lingering insecurities
Unrepentant flirtations
Fickle friendships
Unrealistic longevity
Stupid promises
Surprising goodness
Constant immaturity
Few heartfelt smiles
Millions of smirks
Unsuccessful discoveries
Secret victories
Changing meaning
Wavering priorities
Free advice
Unexpected love
Craftily stitched heart
Tears soaked in blood
Twisted reality
Life slaps hard
Opinions come for free
Road is empty
Thoughts are crowded.
Avoid madness
Try out a diversion
Come back on course
Dump humility
Selfishness seduces
Practicality wins...

Friday, April 1, 2011

F.A.L.T.U: Decent College Musical

If the expectations are less and the entertainment is exuberant, it makes for a decent cinema watching experience. Choreographer Remo pleasantly surprises with a solid grip (mostly) on the narrative of his directorial debut F.A.L.T.U comprising of a bunch of exciting new stars and a superb new music composer duo Sachin-Jigar.

The concept of the film is innovative and connects with the youth of today. Like 3 Idiots, the director questions the education system that lays too much emphasis on grades while sidelining the pursuit of excellence or honing one’s special talents. Yes, starting a new college for all the just-pass students is bizarre and incredulous but discovering the individual skills and disseminating information regarding the same to help many others to self educate themselves is a commendable effort.

The publicity campaign for F.A.L.T.U has been in an overdrive. Full page Ads in national dailies, hoardings, a deluge of promos on TV. You just can’t miss it. Moreover, the music has caught on considerably. Party Abhi Baaki Hai, Aaltu Jalaltu and Le Ja Tu Mujhe are being liked a lot. Producer Vashu Bhagnani insured that his son Jackky gets a dream re launch (his debut film Kal Kissne Dekha tanked). One expected the film to be a one man show with Jackky getting all the prominence. But then you get to see Chandan Roy Sanyal of Kaminey fame (where his role was royally slashed) having a very fine track of a high-percentage-earning geek who dares to follow his heart by pursuing acting against the dictates of his Hitler father Akbar Khan. Debutante Puja Gupta is a Betty like cutie who spreads her winsome charm in abundance while muscle man Angad Bedi holds his own too (despite his Appa). Arshad Warsi (Mr Google) as the facilitator and Riteish Deshmukh as the Principal of the fake college have some cool lines too.

So, the appreciable part is that F.A.L.T.U turns out to be a good team effort rather than a desperate attempt to bolster a moneybags Producer’s son’s career. And to his credit Jackky is in fine form as well. Comedy, drama, dancing...he is adept at all of this and his next film will be surely worth watching out for.

Mayur Puri and Tushar Hiranandani are the screenplay writers while Sachin Bajaj has written the story. There are many lines which make you chuckle with joy while some try and ape what the youth are supposed to be mouthing-these-days and fall flat. The film is entertaining and breezy for sure but there are gaping loopholes in the plot. The big flaw is the convenience with which a big college is erected out of a dilapidated building within a jiffy. Alright, students have paid a fees for getting admission so that can somewhat take care of the huge expenses (the Beer flows like BMC water here), but why is the city administration sleeping for long, letting a fake college run right under their noses, which is administered by two men with no teachers or support staff at all. Akbar Khan reprimanding Chandan (btw he looks older for the part he plays) for getting 94% instead of 95% is rather silly. Jackky oogling at the bosom of women buying vegetables near the kabad-ki-dukaan of his dad is in bad taste. The simplistic manner in which the losers turn heroes with such a fast broadband speed is too filmy and hard-to-digest. There are moments which are preachy and didactic too.

As I said earlier, when the expectations are less and you get more than what you had asked for, as a viewer, you feel satiated. In spite of flaws (which one expected anyways), Remo doesn’t pretend to make anything other than a feel-good entertainer and he succeeds in doing that. The choreography in the penultimate song when F.A.L.T.U students win hearts through their performance is simply superb. The execution of this song brings a tear in your eyes and ignites goose pimples. Some of the songs have become chartbusters. All the other songs have been nicely woven in the film giving a college musical kinda feel. The support cast of Darshan Jariwala as Jackky’s father and Rameshwari as Angad’s mother have some good scenes. Nice to see the guy who played the photographer in Dabangg (Bhayya Ji Smile...remember) giving his toothy smile in this film.

: Worth your money

Star Rating: ***

Game: Not Really On

Smoky silences, carefully orchestrated background music fishing for dramebaazi and a whirlwind trip through glitzy cities of the world doesn't compensate for lack of thrills in a murder mystery. Abhinay Deo's Game just doesn't excite you enough. Yes, it has its moments but the style unabashedly overshadows a lukewarm story.

Kartik Vijay's camerawork is fantastic. Also, the virgin island in Greece looks deliriously gorgeous. But the look of the film in general is a mixed bag. It tends to be mostly greyish and dark giving a morose feeling for most parts. Amitabh Shukla's sloppy editing makes for a long-winding 'chase' that may lull you to cozy naps in between. And it is definitely not a good news for a 'thriller'.

The film pretends to be an intelligent murder mystery but if you are a keen watcher, then there are several laughable loopholes in the supposed 'mystery'. Billionaire Kabir Malhotra (Anupam Kher) is bumped off. His Will is being burnt in a dustbin adjacent to his dead body. The fire is caused by a fire cracker and the smart-shades cop (Kangana Ranaut) is unable to notice it during her investigation. One has to wait for the genius nose of Neil Menon (Abhishek Bachchan) to discover this garish 'fact' right in the end. And voila, mystery solved. Elementary my dear Watson. Hmmmm....

Newbie Sarah Jane Dias (Maya in the film) has a couple of songs, a handful of dialogues and she is made to rest in peace. Her romantic track with Abhishek deviates from where the film should have been headed. In fact, Junior Bachchan's character undergoes too many transformations. A Casino owner who can kill at ease, sneak into buildings and con people (a la Hrithik in Dhoom 2), has access to the OB van of a news channel (in a country he's not familiar with) and go live with heart-attack worthy Breaking News. Obviously, his real identity is revealed later but one is unable to clearly understand his motives for killing. Line of duty or avenging the death of his beloved?

Moreover, Abhishek tries to put up this cool dude act laced with a crooked smile and smart ass sense of humour. But his double chin, unkempt persona lets down the character he is meant to play. Somehow, he doesn't look the part. Hrithik Roshan or maybe Saif Ali Khan could have taken this character to a higher, cooler level. Kangana looks super with those shades but her accent is a downer. She tries too hard to look-n-sound intelligent but the manner in which her firang boss (caricaturish casting) treats her like a school girl makes it unintentionally funny. Anupam Kher is reliably good and Gauhar Khan is getting better with each outing.

Director Abhinay Deo is a slick craftsman. He has a strong command over the technical sheen of his film. As a product, Game looks very polished. Great locales and dishy editing chops. But, Deo falters in his execution. The basic plot is interesting and one does get surprised at several junctures. But the over all impact is half baked. To put it more clearly, the thrills are not thrilling enough. The dialogues have been credited to Farhan Akhtar and they are surprisingly ordinary. Some of the lines (specially Kangna's) are cheesy and unintentionally funny. Music by Shankar Ehsan Loy is passable but no lasting numbers there. Background music by Ram Sampat nicely weaves the Middle Eastern feel in the Turkey scenes but on the whole, there's nothing exceptional about it.

Game: Not really on (unless you are fatigued by movie drought).

Star Rating: **