Thursday, 31 May 2012

When your favourites disappoint

They say you only are a true fan if you are willing to suffer through your favourite´s god-damn-awful filmography. Bad films happen. To everybody from Dilip Kumar to Akshay Kumar. Sometimes they are not even really that bad, but somehow disappointing and weak. Some of such films of some of my favourite actors to follow.

Jodi Breakers

Directed by: Ashwini Chaudhary
Starring: Madhavan, Bipasha Basu, Omi Vaidya
Released: 2012
Verdict: destroy every copy – horrible – bad – whatever – flawed but enjoyable - good – great – amazing

I tried to watch the film before, but turned it off after first 15 or so minutes, but then I told myself I may not want to be as harsh, after all Madhavan is my teddy-bear. Sadly his presence doesn´t save the film, and the character he plays is actually one of the most annoying loosers I´ve seen on screen. Bipasha is way too unbelievable with her innocent act and the two have no chemistry. The film has one of the dumbest twists (and resolves) ever. So he destroys somebody else´s marriage so his ex-wife can get a rich new husband and he gets his car back? Really? And I am supposed to root for this person? And frankly I didn´t see s single reason what would Sid need Sonali as his partner anyway, thus even the basic plot doesn´t really make sense. To top it all Omi Vadiya was completely annoying as a sex God from the high heavens. In one word: lame. Why was Helen in this?


Directed by: R. Balki
Starring: Amitabh Bachchan, Vidya Balan, Abhishek Bachchan
Released: 2009
Verdict: destroy every copy – horrible – bad – whatever – flawed but enjoyable - good – great – amazing

I guess some films are just overrated. After having a shock from rather awkward subtitles narrated for whatever reason by Jaya Bachchan, I was kept waiting .... and waiting for the awesomeness praised by the critics to appear, but it never did. The story deals with a very sad issue of progeria, a rare disease causing the body to age before its time – and that very rapidly. The main character, a twelve years old boy Auro, suffering from the condition, actually has a body of an 80 year old. And what more – he doesn´t have a father. Or rather, doesn´t know him. After all this father did not want a child and only because Auro´s mother refused to go for an abortion and left her partner was the child born. The fate however brings the family together again. Everybody in the film does an OK job. From Abhishek to Amitabh, who did not really understand what age he is trying to act. Instead of a 12 years old his handling of the character made Auro seem like barely 7 years old boy. He did well, don´t get me wrong, but nothing overly impressive. I had the same problem with Sridevi in Sadma, where she is supposed to act like 7 years old, but instead gives an impression of a four-year-old, and that does a hell lot of a difference. Vidya is the best of the lot, but is criminally deprived of deserved screen time by the male protagonists. If anything the movie should have been named Maa, because what I took from the film was really the assurance that love of a mother is above everything.


Directed by: Vivek B. Sharma
Starring: Amitabh Bachchan, Aman Siddiqui, Juhi Chawla, Shahrukh Khan
Released: 2008
Verdict: destroy every copy – horrible – bad – whatever – flawed but enjoyable - good – great – amazing

Not one, but two favourites included – Shahrukh and Juhi – and yet... oh Mr. Sharma this is a perfect example of wasting great acting talent. When you have actors like this you don´t give all the screentime to a kid. Bhootnath is a fine film for children, but far from a great piece of cinema the director presents it till this day.
Shahrukh, the freakingly handsome in his white uniform sea cruise captain moves his wife and son into a new house, not caring everybody says it is haunted. He promptly leaves and his wife invests all her time to attempts to make the new living space more comfortable, while their son soon discovers the house is indeed haunted by a grumpy and dirty old ghost. In no time, they become friends. There are way too many question concerning the ghost (sometimes he can´t touch things, sometimes he can, he apparently eats and can shave and wash..... way too many supernatural powers for one sad soul if you ask me, and pretty much defying everything one would imagine when it comes to ghosts), but I guess children wouldn´t really mind. However the kids should not be too demanding. There is nothing scary or hilarious about the story and the situations shown. See, I don´t even know what else to write. Watch and forget movie.

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Agent Vinod

Directed by: Sriram Raghavan
Starring: Saif Ali Khan, Kareena Kapoor, Ravi Kishnan, Prem Chopra
Released: 2012
Verdict: destroy every copy – horrible – bad – whatever – flawed but enjoyable - good – great – amazing

Fight it, if you will, but whenever a spy movie appears people expect to see a version of a James Bond. Stylish, dangerous but fighting for „the good guys“, witty, with awesome one-liners for every occasion possible, sexy and with women swooning at his mere presence. Vinod is no exception and he fulfills this generally accepted perception of a secret agent to the utmost, as is quite apparent from the first moment we see him all beaten up and interrogated by the bad guys in a terrorist camp in a middle of a desert, seemingly with no chance to escape his certain death. After causing a mild shock to the viewer by his pretended disloyalty and betrayed of his country he manages to escape with a minor help of his secret accomplice and even manage to rescue a beautiful girl wearing fancy desi outfit and having a flaw-less make up on in spite of being tied in a bag. And it´s time to get onto other things – like finding out why Vinod´s collegue had to die in Russia and what exactly is '242', which was the last info that the dead agent provided.

Vinod´s search takes us places very much undiscovered by the Bollywood camera lenses, from cold Russia to dusty and hot Morocco, to how-many-of-you-can-find-it-on-the-map Latvia and ultimately of course Pakistan and India. Spectacular cinematography gives each place its own identity and takes some of the best out of what the countries mentioned have to offer. The plot is interesting enough, but ultimately lacked the thrill and mystery factor for me, since unlike Vinod we can pretty much get the hint that 242 is actually a nuclear bomb. The film is cleverly edited. Usually it is easy to loose orientation among many flashbacks, but the editing really makes the best out of it and in this matter the film really gives the impression of being seamlessly put together. 
I´m used to pain....

...but doctor tell me the injection will not hurt!
Saif Ali Khan is today undoubtedly among the most talented and charismatic actors in India. He blends into the character of Vinod with admirable ease and the powerful subtlety he acts with is brilliant. He owns the film, that was apparently written for him, with him and about him, and gives him a chance to shine. The action sequences may not be completely realistic, but they seem to be, so why complain? The weakness of the film it´s the length of it all. The perfect editing needed to be more tight.

The villains are plentiful and impressive, all different from each other which makes it even more great. Leaving the villanious businessmen running the world aside, Prem Chopra takes the cake among them with his portrayal of a Moroccan gangster having no mercy with people but shedding tears over his pet camel. To get a glimpse of Gulshan Grover was also a pleasant surprise, after all I´m a 90s fan!
Why do we always have to be the bad ones?

Because we are awesome like that.
A character yet to be mentioned is Iram, or „Dr. Ruby“ played by extremely-good-looking-in-this-movie Kareena Kapoor. Why only now? Maybe because it seems appropriate to ad her to the final product without caring much if she has a place in it, which apparently is the case of the role within the movie. From the promos Iram was somebody I was looking forward to, but she is stripped of her mystery way too soon, and had nothing more to offer except for a very awkwardly choreographed and executed Dil Mera Muft – a truly not good a song that was originally propagated as the new mother of all mujras (Ha!). As if Iram didn´t belong in the story at all and Saif just really wanted his girlfriend in it. When you have a real life couple though, wouldn´t you spice the story up with something romantic? But all those hoping for some love on screen were hugely disappointed, as Vinod and Iram are anything but lovers. 
Dil Tera Muft Ka? I should actually charge you for having to watch that dance!
Obviously hoping for a slick and rocking action movie coming to us from Bollywood may not be a completely futile one. No, Agent Vinod is not it. But it is a great promise for the future.

Friday, 18 May 2012

Yeh Nazdeekiyan

Directed by: Vinod Pande
Starring: Marc Zuber, Shabana Azmi, Parveen Babi
Released: 1982
Verdict: destroy every copy – horrible – bad – whatever – flawed but enjoyable - good – great – amazing

Yeh Nazdeekiyan is not a very well known movie, which you can judge even from the fact I failed to look up a single decent sized poster for it. Everything else that came up were photos of Parveen Babi running on the beach in a bikini and a bottle of Coca Cola in her hand, which I can imagine is the only truly memorable moment. It is one of those movies that just happened to get in my way and since I can never say no to Shabana Azmi I decided to give it a shot.

The plot is build around a highly pathetic guy who likes to flirt with everything feminine in sight but in the end of the day he always faithfully returns to his own wife (the gorgeous Shabana Azmi). However passion gets the best/worst out of him the day the pretty, pretty Parveen Babi appears more naked than dressed, weaving herself around the chair and pretty much making love to the camera as she is trying to get a job in his new TV ad, because that is what he is – the guy supplying our small screens with promotional stuff. Perhaps nothing would have come out of the meeting, had it not been for Parveen´s persistance in trying to capture his attention – which very unromantically comes out of her being dared by her friends. In any case she gets drenched in the rain and yells at him a bit which ultimately does the trick and they spend a night together.
I don´t like empty beds.
Even though at first he tries to forget and behave as if nothing has happened, he succumb quite quickly when it comes to more meeting and more love-making full of passion – which is pretty much the only thing he is missing in his marriage. His libido switches off his brain for a while and what follows is an agonizing watch of him not even try to mend the relationship with his wife, just aimlessly lying in one bed or another (there were several very much adult scenes) and feeling sorry for himself. Soon after his wife leaves him he finds out that sex is probably not everything, and proves to be an idiot once more when he brushes off every attempt of his lover to make their life happy. Parveen´s character turns from wicked to highly naive, even stupid, but I guess falling in love does that to you.
Well, I guess I love you from her side is expected now?
Shabana is amazing as is her custom, and the only good thing about the movie really, since she doesn´t sit around crying begging or moping, she faces all and comes out victorious. By her victory I do not mean she gets the guy back in the end (though yes, she does), but because she refuses to be reduced to a weeping wife blackmailing her unfaithful husband to come back with her little child or personal grief. She never succumbs to clever (and less clever) tricks to lure him back, as usually is the custom in Bollywood films no matter if he cheated once or on every occasion possible. She has dignity. She is more than capable of picking up whatever she has left and start a new life, completely independent, even though heart broken. 
Moral of the film: you are in trouble if these are the words your husband uses to describe you.
Overall the pace of the film was slow and if you do not have a fetish for elderly guy lying without a purpose among sheets - also boring. That much said the movie has a feel of reality, with nothing over-dramatized or overdone.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012


Directed by: Abhinav Kashyap
Starring: Salman Khan, Sonu Sood, Sonakshi Sinha, Arbaaz Khan, Dimple Kapadia, Vinod Khanna, Anupam Kher
Released: 2010
Verdict: destroy every copy – horrible – bad – whatever – flawed but enjoyable - good – great – amazing

I am no Salman Khan fan. I genuinly love some of his films from the 90s, but that usually has hardly anything to do with him. Instead the films he stars in either have some other great actor or actress (like in the case of let´s say Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam), or are simply perfectly made (like Bhansali´s Khamoshi). There are several movies I like because of him (Andaaz Apna Apna anyone?), but they are rather rare cases. Unlike many others I do not care for Salman´s personal life and I do not feel the need to hate on him just because he and Shahrukh don´t get along, the truth is I simply don´t find him an actor powerful or convincing enough. There is X-factor more at work than talent, although he has (had?) plenty of it when he was younger. The older he gets the more lazy he gets. Hardly ever challenges himself, he doesn´t wander from his comfort zone, and he is one of those who will repeat the same formula again and again as long as somebody watches. So as you can see I am no Salman Khan fan. And yet after watching Dabangg I wanted to turn into one!
Prem is dead. Long live Chulbul.
Dabangg is a cinematic entertainment of the first class. Clever and witty, full of effortless comedy, action-packed sequences, beautiful songs and if I should use the atrocious clichéd saying, there is something for everybody. And the main hero is a real treat. Chulbul Pandey calls himself with gusto „Robin Hood“, but unlike the medieval European bandit who robbed the rich and gave all to the poor, he robs the robbers and keeps the loot to himself. In a way I was astounded to see how corrupt Chulbul actually is and nobody seems to mind. I guess the general perception of policemen is that they are all corrupt, and apparently as long as you are as righteous towards others as Chulbul you can afford it. There are other things that make him a sympathetic character. He is neglected by his step-father who naturally spoils his own son Makhi, he is devoted to his Maa, and finally he is loveable in his goofiness when it comes to his lady love (incredibly fresh and charming Sonakshi Sinha). Chulbul is Dabangg. Chulbul is what the whole film is about.
Bit of a Freddie Mercury style can never hurt.
When his younger brother Makhi steals some of the money Chulbul kept from himself, he has no idea they belonged to another wretchedly corrupt person – a politician Chedi Singh (Sonu Sood), and he naturally wants it back. He also wants to destroy Chulbul, who has made his life rather uncomfortable after finding out that some of his dark deeds harm the common folk (basically you can steal as long as nobody knows or comes to harm – that seems to be the moral of the story). And after Chulbul interrups Malaika Arora´s hot item number with some of his own awesome steps and pelvic thrusts, Chedi stops to control his own hatred....
Let´s shake it bhabhi!
The thrill, the family drama, the kick-ass action, the adorable romance and political plotting are intertwined just spectacularly. Painted with pleasant, earthy colours and tones and framed with melodious songs, the film is actually beautiful from every angle. True enough, over the years we have grown tired of the sudden stop of the hero in the air while he´s beating the heck up of the bad guys ala Matrix, but somehow Dabangg manages to present them as cool, something not all those who use the trick are able to do. There are memorable dialogues („I am going to make so many holes in you, that you are going to get confused where to breathe from and where to fart from“) and memorable scenes, and for the first time ever Salman doesn´t take off his shirt. Instead the shirt takes off itself.
I´m too sexy for my shirt!

I won the best stripper award six years in a row!

Are you kidding me?
As I have already noted, Chulbul is one of Salman´s best performances. He is unusually (for him) convincing and one can see the role was tailor made for him. His charisma and body language are wonderfully in sync with the character and he definitely deserves all the praise he received for it and more. Where is Salman, there needs to be an arm-candy as well. Debuting Sonakshi Sinha doesn´t have a big or deep role. She is what is demanded of a heroine. Beautiful, young, sweet. We can argue about how overrated she is (or is not) by media as we are waiting for her to act in something else, but the fact remains she did exceedingly well with whatever she was given. She definitely has the best dialogue delivery among the leading ladies who were launched in the last 5 years, and she has a pleasant, expressive face. She refused to be lost in Salman´s larger than life image and in spite of everything made her presence known. 
My hope for brighter Bollywood future.
Arbaaz Khan, who is one of the most wooden actors I´ve seen, finally found himself. Supporting role of a village lazybum, who is not evil, but not exactly saint or clever either, did for him what Chulbul did for Salman: it made him seem a great actor. For the first time ever I found him completely natural and at ease in front of the camera. The supporting cast overall did a good job, even though sentiments could hurt at a bit when you realize Dimple Kapadia plays Salman´s mother alongside Vinod Khanna. For me she will always be that young girl unashamedly opening door for Rishi Kapoor dressed inocently inapropriate.....
Pocket money time.
It´s difficult to label anything as a modern day classic. People are bound to disagree and some will slam you for your inferior opinion, and of course only the future years can really show if your guess was wrong or right, but somehow I have a feeling Dabangg deserves to be on the list of „modern classics“ for the pure fun and entertainment it represents. Also because even though it´s a massala and Salman Khan film, you do not need to leave your brain at home. And even though my undying devotion lies with Shahrukh Khan, I dare say Dabangg was the best film of the whole 2010, leaving its "chief rival" My name is Khan far behind.