Monday, 27 January 2014

The big 2013 overview

Being busy in real life effects my movie-watching ability. Because of that my annual overview of the past year comes a bit late, and is not at all complete. I am still waiting to cach up with many releases and hopefully will be able to review them soon as well. Now, let´s take a little trip down the memory lane, shall we? The start of the year was rather lukewarm, with Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola and also ...

Table No. 21

Directed by: Aditya Datt
Starring: Paresh Rawal, Rajeev Khandelwal, Tena Desae
Verdict: destroy every copy – horrible – bad – whatever – flawed but enjoyable - good – great – amazing

A social message wrapped up as to convince you it´s a thriller/horror movie. A young couple wins holiday on Fiji and are more than enjoying their stay when they are promised 21 million rupees. There is a catch though: they have to play a game. A game of questions and tasks, when one lie can kill..... The ending is powerful and unexpected, the length of the film is good and so is the pace. Performances are fine though not outstanding, the exception being Paresh Rawal near the finale (a time by which you actually hate the people you were so scared for originally). But the whole "game" was not treated as well as it could have been. Some of the tasks were just too random. For example I wouldn´t hesitate a second if somebody asked for my hair in exchange for 4 million. What films is trying to say is true, but what leads to this message is more of a B-grade TV show than something I would watch on a big screen.


Directed by: Sudhir Mishra
Starring: Arjun Rampal, Chitrangada Singh
My rating: 4/10
Verdict: destroy every copy – horrible – bad – whatever – flawed but enjoyable - good – great – amazing

In the busy world of advertisement companies we find ourselves with a report complaining about sexual harrassment. The accused is a CEO of the company Rahul and the one who filed the complaint Maya, a young woman he groomed to professional perfection years ago. Through their eyes we look into the past, that appears a bit different depending on who presents it. The film has only 2 hours, yet still feel unneccessary long. The point of it too stayed lost to me. It gives you frustration, but not really a drama, there is no deep psychology invaded and the unhealthy relationship between the leading couple is anything but romantic. The ending is confusing, comes out of nowhere and doesn´t really give you an answer to anything. If there is a plus point it is Chitrangada. Previously I have only seen her in her embarrassing cameo in Desi Boys, so this was a nice surprise. She gave a competent performances, easily overshadowing Arjun Rampal, who is as same as ever and doesn´t stand out in any of the scenes. Not something I would reccomend.

Finally Akaash Vani „did it“ for me, but Race 2 „did it“ for the box office. The first big hit of the year was also the first step in the successful stride of a certain young actress, who later swept everything and everyone. Meanwhile February started.

ABCD Any Body Can Dance

Directed by: Remo D´Souza
Starring: Prabhudeva, Kay Kay Menon, Lauren Gottlieb, Salma Yusuff Khan
Verdict: destroy every copy – horrible – bad – whatever – flawed but enjoyable - good – great – amazing

Remo has not given up on the message to the youth that they should do what makes them happy. He failed to convey this (un)original message last year with his faltu movie (pun intended), and gave another try in 2013. There is absolutely nothing new or innovative to the story of a choreographer, who in spite of being fired of his old prestigious job make a dnace troupe out of street kids only to really show who´s the Boss to his previous employer. The acting is poor, since dancing talent does not automatically translate into acting one, the plot is full of clichés. Yet the movie is obviously made with such pure heart and passion for the art of dance, I couldn´t help but like it. It has its weak moments, it has its flaws. But ultimately it´s about dance and what you get is dance overload - and the choreography is absolutely top class. In spite of not being original in any way, the story does have several strong moments - which can only be attributed by the passion and expression of emotions by dance, because the reasons (parental disaproval and personal tragedy) are again nothing but a cliché.

Much more critically acclaimed Special 26 presented me with the Akshay Kumar I love, but it was also the last breath of air before I almost drowned in bad films....

Murder 3

Directed by: Vishesh Bhatt
Starring: Randeep Hooda, Aditi Rao Hydari, Sara Loren
Verdict: destroy every copy – horrible – bad – whatever – flawed but enjoyable - good – great – amazing

A tale of two overly attached girlfriends out of which one is a naive dimwit and the other a jealous mental. The man they both pine for is pretty much just an excuse for the plot. Or rather for an attempt for a plot. Loopholes are amazing. The acting of kinda unattractive Randeep Hooda was OK, but he really didn´t have much to work with. Sara Loren was adequate, and looked pretty throughout. Aditi was best of the three, gave a convincing performance, at times one could almost forget what an unlikeable psycho her character actually is, that is how at few moments she made one feel for her. In any case the film is a big pile nonsense, fine perhaps for one viewing, but threatening your logic at the same time. Let´s hope there ain´t no Murder 4, although with the current trend of every hit film turning into a pathetic franchise, I wouldn´t bet on this hope. And finally, if there is no murder, you don´t name your film Murder.

Deewana Main Deewana

Directed by: K. C. Bokadia
Starring: Govinda, Priyanka Chopra
Verdict: destroy every copy – horrible – bad – whatever – flawed but enjoyable - good – great – amazing

Why would anyone think it was a good idea to ever release this film? Not only it had zero potential to boost anyone´s (read Govinda´s) failing career, but it would have actually helped everybody involved to let the world forget that there was something as awful as this ever in existence. And it is not just because the film was long delayed, because it would have been awful at any point of time, not just by today´s standarts. A lazy script, a pointless, done to death story, and worst of all – Govinda looking bad, acting bad and having to deal with one of the creepiest and most unlikeable „jawaan“ heroes ever. He is vain, annoying, sporting awful unfitting outfits, and while everybody has him for an angel, he is actually a bunch of lies and bigger lies. But you are supposed to feel for his plight because he is only lying (and LOT WORSE stuff)„for love“ - which you never feel or even believe. There is no relationship development and asking for a bit of logic is just too much. I could hardly believe this film was shot in the past ten years! In fact it looked like something from deep 80s. Indeed, what an embarrassing piece of crap! Forever wondering why Priyanka Chopra actually promoted this instead of completely disowning it and suing the producers for letting it out.

I, Me aur Main

Directed by: Kapil Sharma
Starring: John Abraham, Prachi Desai, Chitrangada Singh
Verdict: destroy every copy – horrible – bad – whatever – flawed but enjoyable - good – great – amazing

This was OK. No tragedy, no greatness. In fact I watched it and basically forgot about it overnight. John play a selfish, self-centered and in-love-with-self music agent, who´s been spoilt since childhood, and sffers a nasty shock when his girlfriend, who was expecting a commitment after living with him for several years, packs his stuff and throws him out of her flat and life. And while Johnny boy is coping with problems both personal and professional, the ex-girlfriend finds out that he actually managed to get her pregnant..... Now what? He is a selfish brat, and in addition found himself a new, sweet girlfriend....
John is poor, Chitrangada is just there, Prachi is good and looking pretty. I can imagine such a story happening in real life, but as a film it doesn´t really give you anything. It´s like you standing on a platform, waiting for a bus home, and this another one passes by. You notice, follow it with your eyes.... and forget it the moment it takes a turn at the end of a street. Meh.

Fortunatelly as the time progressed, apart from some minor hiccups, my filmi wounds found some balm....

Kai Po Che

Directed by: Abhishek Kapoor
Starring: Sushant Singh Rajput, Amit Sadh, Rajkummar Rao, Amrita Puri
Verdict: destroy every copy – horrible – bad – whatever – flawed but enjoyable - good – great – amazing

You know what, this was a good, believable story, but it was not exactly an enjoyable film. We are introduced to three inseparable friends – only one of them being a responsible human being – who dream about opening a sports shop and training children in cricket, discovering talent and supporting it. Short of money they keep taking loans from rich uncle, who has big interest in involving them in his political career. The first hour or so was actually very boring. And the ending is too abrupt. Performances are comendable, and I can imagine this working more as a book or even short story (which actually is the case, as I figure out later), but it is not a movie I would want to watch twice. There was too little time dedicated to emotional growth and relationships, and this was a story primarily about relationships. The romance between Govind and Ishaan´s sister deserved more space, Ishaan´s reaction to this romance deserved more space... and of course: the conflict between Ishaan and Omi deserved a way more space.

Jolly LLB

Directed by: Priyadarshan
Starring: Arshad Warsi, Boman Irani, Amrita Rao
Verdict: destroy every copy – horrible – bad – whatever – flawed but enjoyable - good – great – amazing

I can honestly say Arshad Warsi and Boman Irani are two of my most favourite actors. Jolly LLB, though a good, decent film, has them both as convincing and in top form as ever, yet somehow one wishes more for their talents. A tale is simple and following a known formula. Unsuccessful lawyer gets his hands on a big case against a man who has never lost a case before, and who is, naturally, defending with all his might, power and money a rich and unworthy client. The underdog ultimately makes it. The plot lacks originality, which could be forgiven, if the criminal case investigated was more mysterious, unusual or presented in a more engaging way. Jolly LLB thus stays among the better films of the year, at the same time it is rather forgettable.


Directed by: Suparn Verma
Starring: Bipasha Basu, Nawazuddin Sidiqui
Verdict: destroy every copy – horrible – bad – whatever – flawed but enjoyable - good – great – amazing

The running time may be mere 1,5 hour, but that obviously does not ensure a fast paced, gripping story. Within 30 minutes you know everything and there is nothing mysterious left. Rather a bummer for a horror, even more so because all there is to the fear factoris endlessly putting the kid to sleep and waking up to an empty bed, and endlessly jumping at a phone ringing every five minutes. Performances are lukewarm, only Nawazuddin Sidiqui succeeds in convincing you he is the character: meaning until I watch him in something else he will be an abusive psycho for me. However he has like 3 scenes in total. Also, his "powers" are never explained and it all feels extremely bizzare when you realize everybody dies except for the kid. There was absolutely no point to the character of the investigating policeman, who seemed to be doing nothing, even messing up babysitting.

Aatma has no soul or sense. Yet another proof Bollywood is not friends with the horror genre. And subsequent Himmatwala proved that divorce of Hindi cinema and masalla movies should be hurriedly proceeded. While Ek Thi Daayan brought in some mystery and thrill, Nautanki Saala aspires to be one of the most boring films of the year. Aashiqui 2 came and made teenagers cry, and while other girls wept for dumbass musician played by Aditya Roy Kapoor, I allowed myself to drool over awesomeness that is Vidyut Jamwal.

Commando – A One Man Army

Directed by: Dilip Ghosh
Starring: Vidyut Jamwal, Pooja Chopra
Verdict: destroy every copy – horrible – bad – whatever – flawed but enjoyable - good – great – amazing

I can understand why guys liked this film so much. The story is nothing new, and in fact it has some serious flaws and loopholes. What bothered me the most was who in the world was the soldier/killer sent after our drool-over-worthy hero? Characterization of any of the people in the story is not too good. Still, the movie has things to offer. Apart from the oh-gosh-so-incredibly-sexy Vidyut Jamwal in the lead role, it is pleasantly fast-paced. The villain is scary - something which cannot be taken for granted in films these days, when many of the bad guys easily become mere caricatures. And most importantly the film can boast of some amazing action scenes. I am not the biggest fan of action. In fact many a time I fast forward the dishoom dishoom scenes, or silently suffer through them, as I try to remember if I fed my cat or not. With Commando it was the other way round. I was looking forward to each such scene! And the fact they were performed so brilliantly by marry-me-now-I beg-you Vidyut, made it even better. All in all Commando is no masterpiece in terms of filmamaking, but it is definitely worth a watch for setting higher standarts for every action movie to come out of Bollywood for sure. 

Next in line was John Abraham, who decided to try his manly charms on me too, however he chose one of the worst projects imaginable.

Shootout at Wadala

Directed by: Sanjay Gupta
Starring: John Abraham, Anil Kapoor, Tusshar Kapoor, Kanagana Ranaut, Sonu Sood
Verdict: destroy every copy – horrible – bad – whatever – flawed but enjoyable - good – great – amazing

Unnecessary violence and vulgarity are two greatest impressions I had from this film. Lots of guys getting out of cars, smoking cigarettes, killing someone, getting into cars, smoking cigarettes. It starts with a quite good story – both our hero and our villain share in retrospective what led to the filmi present from their point of view, however in the second part the storyline diappears and it all becomes a big celebration of boom, bang bang and teri-maa-ki. The journey of an innocent who becomes the greatest gangster in Mumbai is not well presented – the transformation is never shown and also his later progress in the climb to the top is not explored. It all looks so damn easy one could think if I decide tommorow that I wanna rule somewhere all I need is six filthy looking guys and an intense stare.

Women only appear in short intervals so our protagonists can bed them or salivating over their semi-clad bodies. Priyanka Chopra is shooting bullets from her boobs and the rest of item numbers I am not even going into. Out of the actors Anil Kapoor is the saving grace. Sonu Sood and Manoj Bajpayee as brothers are good, menacing, but rather wasted. John Abraham is as frightening as a pudding, and even outacted by Tusshar Kapoor who is decent as a filthy, small-time criminal.

Very regressive in sentiment, disappointing from technical view and full of poetic speeches from the cops. Starts as decent, continues as average and ends in a gutter. There is no emotional connect with any of the characters, least of all the main protagonist. Even the zombies and newcomers that came right after were more enthralling.

Go Goa Gone

Directed by: Raj Nidimoru
Starring: Kunal Khemu, Saif Ali Khan, Vir Das, Pooja Gupta
Verdict: destroy every copy – horrible – bad – whatever – flawed but enjoyable - good – great – amazing

I am joining the brigade of those who found it really funny. It has been a while since I found an Indian (or any other really) film quite this hilarious. True, it could have been because I was mentally exhausted after spending several days in company of a seriously DUMB person, basically 24/7, so my brain refused to looks for deep meanings and complicated sutff. Also, I am not a fan of zombie films or shows and have never seen one. But I still found Go Goa Gone extremely entertaining. Kunal Khemu completely steals the show, but Saif, in such an unlikely avatar, was a really pleasant addition to the whole, competent to say the least, cast. Perhaps they could have shortened it by some 15-20 minutes, especially after the zombie attack in the night, when Saif leaves them alone, it got a bit repetitive. And the little Bollywood running around the trees spoof was a crowning jewel. 


Directed by: Atul Sabharwal
Starring: Arjun Kapoor, Rishi Kapoor, Prithviraj, Jackie Shroff, Amrita Singh, Sasha Agha
Verdict: destroy every copy – horrible – bad – whatever – flawed but enjoyable - good – great – amazing

A tale of twins separated shortly by birth and growing into complete opposites is one of the most popular Bollywood plot patterns. It has been, truth to be told, done to death. We have had the like of Ram Aur Shyam, Seeta Aur Geeta, Kishen Kanhaiya etc. and the latest one to join the gang is Aurangzeb. Which by the way manages also to tickle another hugely popular pattern – of brothers on the opposite side of the law (do I really need to even list those films?). Problem with popular themes is that you really need to ad something special to your film to cover up for the lack of originality you are starting with. Aurangzeb is nearly there. But just nearly. Good attempt that runs out of breath because of way too much nonsense involved. What mother, running away from her criminal husband, leaves one child behind? And that too the „weaker“ one? What deserves plus points are all the performances though, I was especially pleased to see that Arjun was capable of portraying two quite different characters. It was shree pleasure to see Jackie and Rishi, both were superb, and Amrita as a scheming lady too makes space for herself. Sasha doesn´t seem like a heroine material from the film. She was the weakest and doesn´t show much promise. The character of the mother is just frustrating and the actress is really "just there" without doing anything. The pace is good, Aurangzeb is definitely not boring. But really, the ammount of WTF is just too great.

After all the action one was craving for a change. How about a romantic comedy? But if you have to choose, stay away from rubbish named Iskq in Paris. Go for refreshing, even though not really original, Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani. And if you are into stalker-ish kind of „romance“ you may go for Raanjhanaa (review coming eventually). And after action and romance.... we still have some comedies waiting in the wings, right (or maybe not)?

Yamla Pagla Deewana 2

Directed by: Sangeeth Sivan
Starring Dharmendra, Sunny Deol, Bobby Deol, Neha Sharma
Verdict: destroy every copy – horrible – bad – whatever – flawed but enjoyable - good – great – amazing

It was my profound fondness of the Deol khandaan that made me watch this. Also, the first film was definitely enjoyable. However this one makes you feel, almost literally, like a monkey business played on the viewer. Story is extremely feeble and unfortunatelly the situations built on it do not evoke fits of laughter. Rather they make you roll your eyes, after which inevitably you glance at your watch and wonder when it will all end. While Sunny had the leading part in the first film, this time it is more of a Bobby Deol show, however what sed to be madly funny is awkwardly mediocre. While Bobby can still somehow pull off a pairing with a young girl, Sunny looks rather desperate. They should have kept his character the same – married and with children – after all his Canadia wife from the first movie was great fun. Similar scenario goes for Anupam Kher – hilarious once, he is rather pathetic here as Dude-G, a character never explored, explained or needed. Annoying overkill of film references has been a passé for months now and you know something is wrong with the world when Dharmendra wastes most of his efforts on winning the affection of a giant (and boring in spite of everything) monkey.

July had its share of hits and misses. My possibly two most favourite movies of the year came out in that month – Lootera (review coming eventually) and Bhaag Milkha Bhaag. I deliberately stayed away from few films, that got review so bad I knew they had to be true, but curious about what was the project Sanjay Dutt was so eager to finish before going to jail I put on Policegiri, only to be disgusted by everything and everyone related to it. I enjoyed D-Day and while on Shruti Hassan track I also gave a chance to.....

Ramaiya Vastavaiya

Directed by: Prabhudeva
Starring: Girish Kumar, Shruti Hassan, Sonu Sood, Randhir Kapoor, Poonam Dhillon
Verdict: destroy every copy – horrible – bad – whatever – flawed but enjoyable - good – great – amazing

This is so 90s it couldn´t be more 90s if you would try! Right from the introductory shot of the Central jail gate, to overly-smart animal, godly interventions, I hate you/I love you story of two not exactly overflowing with talent individuals, it is actually even more 90s than the 90s itself. Throughout I couldn´t really decide if it was a cute reminder of the films I love, or if it was just regressive. I guess it is a mix of both, and so I partly loved and partly hated it. The content was nothing original in the least - the story starts like 80% of the 90s romance films and second half is a shameless copy of Pyaar Kiya To Darna Kya. It is visually pleasing and doesn´t really hurt any sentiment, it has its share of loop holes and a dose of OTT humour. However one scene I will not forgive is when hero tries to forcefully kiss the heroine and gets slapped – and he gets so upset it is HER who has to literally beg him on her knees to forgive her for not being enthusiastic about forcing himself on her.

Sonu Sood does not have a difficult job completely outacting his on-screen behen Shruti Hassan, who was just as able as every other pretty face twenty years ago would have been in a film like this, however her filmi beau Girish Kumar is a blend of annoying and boring. Once he calms down he passes of as decent enough. I was really happy to see still so pretty Poonam Dhillon on the screen again, even though her character of the money-minded momma was very superficial, and unlike epic 90s Maas never got a weepy scene in which she could lament her own wretched nature.

Ramaiya Vastavaiya is stays an old-fashioned plot in an old-fashioned wrap, that can serve as a kind reminder of an era so much loved, but at the same time it definitely convinced me that not evolving and holding onto old clichés is not a way to go for the makers.

By August my real life started to interfere into my film life (as I indicated above already), but I still found myself boarding, quite happily, the Chennai Express (review coming eventually) and was quite content to lie under the tracks with Imran and Sonakshi in.... .

Once Upon Ay Time in Mumbaai Dobaara

Directed by: Milan Luthria
Starring: Akshay Kumar, Imran Khan, Sonakshi Sinha
Verdict: destroy every copy – horrible – bad – whatever – flawed but enjoyable - good – great – amazing

A timepass, perhaps even good - however what ironically shoots a nearly fatal bullet into the body of this film is the fact they decided to sell it as a sequel of something much superior and different. It would stand better as a completely new film with new characters. In any case Akshay Kumar would be a miscast. He has nothing of the terrifying unpredictability Emraan Hashmi had in the first movie, however ANYONE would be a bad choice because Emraan is simply too etched into everybody´s minds in this avatar. Akshay is way also way too "in your face", to the point of theatrical as a nasty gangster, in spite of monotonous dialogue delivery. The man can do so much better. Imran is OK, Sonakshi looks gorgeous and does well, one just wishes she would take on more challenging projects. Sonali Bendre has exactly three scenes and is great in all. One wishes there was more of her and Akshay. After all, the whole film moved on from struggle for power over Mumbai to intimate and romantic spheres, so to see more of their relationship would only make sense. 

Political stuff happened next with...


Directed by: Prakash Jha
Starring: Amitabh Bachchan, Ajay Devgn, Kareena Kapoor, Manoj Bajpaye, Arjun Rampal, Amrita Rao
Verdict: destroy every copy – horrible – bad – whatever – flawed but enjoyable - good – great – amazing

While I believe it is important that flaws in society and hardships of everyday life should be adressed by popular media, Satyagraha gave me an unpleasant feeling that the art of cinema is being sacrificed for the intended message. You have to tell a story to share your thought and protest, and Satyagraha´s plot is very weak and unengaging. What good are good and great actors, if you cannot give them characters a viewer could connect with, support them or at least understand? There were too many of them to matter in the end, because none got a space significant enough to be revealed as truly complex or interesting. They all seemed shallow in the sense we are told who they are and what they think, but we are never really shown. Best example of the case would be probably Yasmine, played by Kareena Kapoor. The whole time I failed to understand her motivation. Not a single scene sheds light on her process of thinking or character traits. And her romantic interest in Ajay Devgn serves no purpose and only slows things down.

There are attempts at making the film mainstream (people bursting into songs, that unfortunatelly feel out of place) and symbolism (corpses dragged to the Gandhi statue in the square). But there are also unending speeches and lousy editing in parts. Prakash Jha wanted to start a roaring fire, but I felt more like I was given a cup of lukewarm milk before falling asleep. The word for Satyagraha is "boring".

Given I have not seen The Lunchbox as yet, I can state that the quality of films went seriously down in the autumn time.


Directed by: Apoorva Lakhia
Starring: Ram Charan, Priyanka Chopra, Sanjay Dutt, Prakash Raj, Mahie Gill
Verdict: destroy every copy – horrible – bad – whatever – flawed but enjoyable - good – great – amazing

Black liquid dripping off half-naked women. The opening of the movie already send out warning signals this will be bad. And it is. See, I thought the original film with Amitabh Bachchan was average. However after watching this remake, I found a new respect for it. I still think there was lots to be desired, but at least it was a story that went from somewhere to somewhere, its motivation and storyline were tightly woven into the script and of course acting performances were very good. None of this can be said about this film. Our hero is violent without any reason(and an asshole if I might ad) and everytime he is beauting someone up it is to the beats of Raghupati Raghav Raja Ram. Our heroines is so dumb you could cry. Our villain has been on the same thing again again in the past few years there is nothing scary or intimidatig left to him, and he becomes a laughable caricature. Mahie Gill is pathetic and Sanjay Dutt looks bored to death. What really carried the original Zanjeer, was Amitabh Bachchan with his overwhelming persona and projection of deep, dark feelings without being over dramatic. However his „successor“, southern star Ram Charan seems a walking men´s wear ad manequine rather than a living person. I am not at all familiar with his work down south, so perhaps I am too harsh in my judgement of him, but his Hindi debut was terrible. Expressionless to say the least, he did not even manage to pose convincingly as a bitter police officer with childhood issues. But why just him? Everybody associated with the film deserves some flak for creating such a superficial drab, which by the way took me seven long viewings to even finish. Ridiculous plot craters everywhere you look, punchline that lack any punch. The character of Mala is completely changed – from independent, feisty and street-smart girl into a spoilt, whiny and stupid NRI. Priyanka Chopra (whom I like) has nothing on Jaya Bachchan (whom I don´t like), and actually acts the way she did ten years ago. Her performance is extremely half-hearted and unconvincing – and disappointing cmoing from her. She has passed the stage of a dumb eye-candy long ago, and she should stay away from it. Name anything you want to see in a film – this Zanjeer will not have it.

Shuddh Desi Romance

Directed by: Manessh Sharma
Starring: Sushant Singh Rajput, Parineeti Chopra, Rishi Kapoor
Verdict: destroy every copy – horrible – bad – whatever – flawed but enjoyable - good – great – amazing

This is definitely a Bollywood film with greatest ammount of (awkward) kissing and rolling together in bed I have seen so far. Why does "modern" and "cool" image has to be always linked with smoking, drinking and sleeping and sex anyway? The commitment phobia bit of the story works well enough to move the film from one point to another, but looses breath in the progress, that too quite early on.

Fortunatelly we have Parineeti, who looks lovely, and gives us a good performance. She is not the mad agressive cuckoo from Ishaqzaade and neither does she resemble her character from her debut film, in fact for the first time she manages to project vulnerability and a guarded personality. She is still only second to the best - because that title belongs to wonderfully effortless Rishi Kapoor. Sushant is OK. Newcomer and Meenakshi Sheshadri look-a-like Vaani is only so-so, and resemblance to the famous actress non withstanding, she is not too pleasant to the eye, somehow lacks charm.

The characters are confused all the time, and managed to confuse me as well. I did not understand their thought-process and kept waiting forever for some explanation - which comes in a form of "message" of sorts - that marriage is not for everybody (was that it? I think so....). Jeeeeeeez. I was actually hoping Gayatri had some really dark secret that prevented her from going through the marriage and that we would learn about it and solve it with her. And since the girls want the guy so bad, one would expect them to, you know, actually put up a little effort to get him.

Phata Poster Nikla Hero

Directed by: Rajkumar Santoshi
Starring: Shahid Kapoor, Padmini Kolhapure, Ileana D´Cruz
Verdict: destroy every copy – horrible – bad – whatever – flawed but enjoyable - good – great – amazing

Armed low expectations and forgiving mood I found Phata Poster Nikla Hero a harmless movie with some fun and no consequences that would matter. The story is sweet, even though simple - a boy grows up with big dreams of becoming a film star, while his mother is adamant he should become a police officer. The most imaandaar police officer there ever was. The clash between two dreams leads to mess of a situation which entertained me for most part and gave me few good laughs as well. The comedy is effortless and really well done, unfortunately the film attempts to mix in some emotional blackmail and family drama, and that is what actually brings it down to its knees. I becomes boring in those moments, almost unbearably so. The ending was a bit unclear (or maybe I actually fell asleep and that is why I don´t know what exactly happened to "Napoleon"?) and I was expecting some new comical twist before the closing titles started rolling, but my waiting was in vain.

Shahid Kapoor is excellent. He really shows how talented he is and how easy it is for him to convey the emotions. Unfortunatelly he cannot choose films. Ileana, who charmed me in Barfi last year, is lovely, but doesn´t have the ability to raise a poorly written character into something better. It was lovely to see Padmini Kolhapure (who gets more scope and imporatnce than "Complaint Kajal"), however she was from that crop of slightly mental Maas of the 80s and I had to roll my eyes at her logic in few moments. Other supporting actors do really well. Salman Khan´s cameo was excellent!

When you have Shahid Kapoor, you expect a kick-ass dance number, but even though there are several song, there is not a single one that would utilize his dancing proweness, and frankly apart from Main Rang Sharbaton Ka none is worth a re-watch or second listen. Nargis Fakhri looks sexy in the itme girl avatar, but she gets owned in dancing even by the extras behind her. The film was still load better than rather crude Besharam and even atrocious Boss (starring that Akshay Kumar I am not fond of), so I was actually quite relieved when superhero Krrish 3 appeared and saved the day. Meanwhile Kareena Kapoor probably regretted her decision of letting go of the WTF but comercially successful Ram Leela (review coming eventually), since her own venture was not really up to the mark.

Gori tere Pyaar Mein

Directed by: Punit Malhotra
Starring: Imran Khan, Kareena Kapoor, Shraddha Kapoor, Anupam Kher
Verdict: destroy every copy – horrible – bad – whatever – flawed but enjoyable - good – great – amazing

I did not expect much from the director who made the ultimate borefest with I Hate Luv Stories, but in the end I found Gori Tere Pyaar Mein quite a pleasant venture. The film starts off slow and unfortunatelly also returns to the slightly boring mode as it nears the climax (which doesn´t really feel climactic or satisfying really). It lack "punch". However the whole bit with Imran´s engagement and later him running from the wedding (possibly the best scene) as well as initial days in a small village are good and entertaining.

The film belong to Imran Khan, both story and performance wise. This is the kind of roles he does well and looks good doing. He is charming and believable. Kareena Kapoor looks truly beautiful and act well, however a film like this is, simply said, below her. There was nothing new or challenging about it for someone like her. She is solid, but has done so much better in similar avatars in the past. Frankly I felt that she was a miscast. Somebody less prolific and experienced would have been a better choice, and would probably feel fresh in such simplicity. What irked me about the movie was when we are first introduced to the character of Dia, it is immediatelly said that she is "a lot older" than our hero. I found it rude and needless. Firstly - Kareena does NOT look older than Imran, forget "a lot". Secondly I have never ever heard any such comment in a film which had a 40 plus actor trying his moves on a 20year old girl. Hell, not even something as hideous as Policegiri did that.

The songs work well in the film, but don´t have a repeat value. The surprise of the movie was Shraddha Kapoor. She doesn´t have a big role, but she is extremely lovely and delivers a lot better (and less zombie-like) performance than in the much famed Aashiqui 2. I actually thought SHE would have been a perfect casting for Kareena´s role.

And that is it for now. I am still patiently waiting for DVDs of Singh Saab the Great, R Rajkumar, Bullett Raja, Rajjo, Dhoom 3 and several others to see the light of day. All in all 2013 was a year of disappointment, with few gems and lots of peebles.

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Open letter to DNA editor Upala K. Basu

Originally posted HERE

It is no secret I am a Madhuri Dixit fan, and I have also made no secret over how disheartening I found the failure of Dedh Ishqiya at the box office. However the following lines are not a reaction of a Madhuri fan, they are a reaction of a WOMAN I am above being everything else, and I would like those of you who read it forget about everything you know about me except for the fact I am a woman and an avid watcher of Bollywood films, old and new.

Just this morning I have been directed to THIS ARTICLE published by DNA and written by their Deputy News Editor Upala K. Basu - and to whom I would like to convey this message:

Dear Madame,

much like majority of others you too obviously believe actors and filmmakers - but above all actresses - are only as good as the box office figure of their last movie. It doesn´t matter if they have as long as 30 years of hard work, success and appreciation behind them. In fact, that is what makes them even easier to target. With your latest contribution to DNA you have made abundantly clear you believe women come with an expiration date, talent or artistic abilities nonwithstanding. You believe after reaching a certain age an actress should dilligently fall into a convenient slot and stay there if she wants to be accepted by the audience, and basically implied that any other attempt on breaking new ground is not wanted or needed.

If I am to dissect your article, right from the very first paragraph it shows how unprofessional views you hold and voice out. A failure of a film is never one person´s fault, even more so if it is a film like Dedh Ishqiya - with four main leads of equal importance. Given Madhuri Dixit is the greatest star of them all, Naseeruddin Shah is still nothing short of a living legend, Arshad Warsi is a comedy king for the masses and Huma Qureshi has been only gaining in the count of fan following ever since she made her impressive debut. And these are just actors. The makers are critically acclaimed Abhishek Chaubey and even more critically acclaimed Vishal Bhardwaj. To pin low BO collections on just one actress is highly unfair, especially since if it was the other way round people would be giving credit for the success to all people involved. Including you.

Perhaps the most outrageous part of your article is the following: "Sridevi chose to return to the big screen with a film befitting her age. She played a wife and a mother. Madhuri chose to return as the leading lady who is looking to get married and is holding a swayamvar.” There is no other possible interpretation than that a woman over 40 can only be a wife and mother. There is no other way a role could “fit” such an actress. How very narrow minded and short-sighted such a perception is? While being  a mother and a wife is for most (definitely not all!) women what they aspire for and cherish, a WOMAN is always a WOMAN first. Everything else comes later. Given your poor observational skills and biased, sexist views, I do not suppose you have ever watched Mother India (1957). The amazing message of that movie is that a woman is a woman, and a mother is able to kill her own beloved child for the sake of protecting the dignity of womanhood. Saying Madhuri chose a a role not befitting her age is utter nonsense. Begum Para Mirzada IS a woman in her late 40s, she is a widow and she is actually an inspiration to all women by carrying on with her life, planning her future and making her own choices.If all you could think of while watching a movie with story as complex as Dedh Ishqiya, and with a character as layered and problematic as Begum Para Mirzada, was that a woman in her 40s is planning to remarry (and for whatever reason you found it wrong), then it shows you are unable to broaden your own mind and accept a concept that differs from traditional, rusted views.

It is nothing but painfully ironic that you mention Naseeruddin Shah´s seniority over Madhuri as a problem that weighted the movie down. The age difference between the two is still lesser than the age difference we see almost every Friday in other films. Shahrukh Khan´s next is opposite Deepika Padukone, Salman Khan opted for baby-faced Daisy Shah, Aamir Khan got to romance Katrina Kaif, Sunny Deol was cast oppostie a 19-years-old Urvashi and I still have nightmares over Sanjay Dutt drooling over Prachi Desai just last year. This in itself screams “sexist”, much like the fact male stars are allowed to be in our faces 24/7 and still make films, but the moment an actress reaches out to her audience through the same means she becomes over-exposed. Yes, it kinda rules out rushing into the cinemas because of a specific actress, BUT people should be primarily interested in good cinema over somebody´s persona. It is not such case in India, which results in public being happy about mediocre to downright atrocious movies as long as their middle-aged hero looks impressive on screen. Putting a movie like Dedh Ishqiya down just because one of the leads is often seen is, again, unfair and irrelevant considering the quality of the product.

Another sexist claim of yours: “She needs to evolve and needs to let go of playing the desireable diva.” Again, you imply that a woman who has crossed a certain age is not desirable no matter what she does. Wrong. A woman in her 40s, 50s, even 80s can be desirable and charming. And as for evolving - Madhuri Dixit has beaten all other actresses of her generation in it by choosing Dedh Ishqiya and the character of Begum Para (I am beginning to think you have not even bothered to watch the movie). Begum Para is a child-woman, crippled by past experience. Her health has deteriorated and she is possibly even mentally disturbed. Ad to it (and now I am sorry for the spoiler to all who might read this and not have seen the film) homosexual colouring of the character, her disinterest in romantic love (SPOILER END) and unapologetic actions. What you have is an absolutely new, unique character, never seen before in Indian cinema. You applaud (and rightly so) Sridevi for her meek, sweet housewife who finds self-respect, but Begum Para is no less compelling or complex. In fact she is much more fascinating. She is just not easily to relate to. Madhuri Dixit has taken up a role most actresses would turn down out of fear it would rag their image. Instead of being launded for her daring choice and stunning performance she is being told to settle on conventional mother roles and being put down because she was presented as beautiful and enchanting.

In the end I would like to point out to you that some of the most loved and celebrated gems of Indian cinema flopped badly at the time of their release. Kaagaz Ke Phool, Guide, Mera Naam Joker, Umrao Jaan, Lamhe, Andaaz Apna Apna, Dil Se and others are considered masterpieces and are remembered as cult classics. Even Pakeezah was flopping badly and was only saved at the BO because of Meena Kumari´s tragic demise. There is no denying Dedh Ishqiya did not hit the bull´s eye, while another random college romance Yaariyan scored. Now look ahead of ten years and say with conviction Dedh Ishqiya, with its poetic setting, unique story, different treatement and brilliant exectuion is not going to be remembered and loved. And look just few months ahead and tell me people will actually even remember Yaariyan.

You may defend yourself by saying you only write what people think. However that is not an excuse good enough given you expressed your own opinions. Surely you must realize how strong the sexism and ageism in the two-faced Bollywood industry is. And how wrong it is. Pointing out what is wrong in mindset of society is your job. I can just say you are extremely lousy at that, serving to support the sexist, ageist mindset instead.

Sincerely an offended woman in her twenties.

Friday, 3 January 2014


Directed by: Nikhil Advani
Starring: Irrfan Khan, Arjun Rampal, Rishi Kapoor, Huma Qureshi, Shruti Hassan
Released: 2013
Verdict: destroy every copy – horrible – bad – whatever – flawed but enjoyable - good – great – amazing

Being neither Pakistani nor Hindustani I cannot really judge if the film was hurtful in sentiment, but truth to be told I did not feel like either side was made heroes or villains. In fact both sides are shown as showing no mercy or thinking twice about sacrificing lives of common folk while going after their goal – which is what they believe will secure their country. I don´t think anyone should imagine their country is not doing these things.

Inspired by the foul deeds of Dawood Ibrahim, D Day is about an attempt of four RAW agents trying to capture a man behind terrorist attacks from Pakistan, where he is hiding with the approval of local authorities, and to escort him back to India. Carefully planned and almost successful operation „Goldman“ takes place during Dawood´s son´s wedding. Unfortunately things go wrong and the four agents find themselves trapped in the streets of Karachi, pursued by both Dawood and their own Hindustani agency, who has quickly decided to give up on them and terminate them as unwanted evidence. How to lure them out though? Maybe some of them have weaknesses. Maybe some of them have families.

D Day is a skillfully crafted picture and possibly the best action thriller coming out of Bollywood last year. I was positively shocked to find out Nikhil Advani, the man behind the whiny glycerine-fest Kal Ho Na Ho, was the director. The pace was really good, even if it slowed down a bit in the second half, the work with numerous flashbacks seamless and effective. There are quite many characters and all are given at least some backstory - Irrfan´s is the best explored since it moves the plot. I was hoping to see more of Huma and Arjun´s past and relathionships, but that never happened, possibly because it would slow the film down too much. I think the weakness of the story was the fact that way too many things happen seemingly without reason. For example - why kill off the prostitute? And why does one of our protagonists suddenly decide to blow everything up, even though there is really no need for such drastic measures? And when did Irrfan and Arjun made that last bit of a plan up??? After a little stale bit we spent with our protagonists in hiding, the renewed tempo of the climax is refreshing, superb and again the whole scene very well edited, switching between thrills and emotions.

Actors do a solid job, with Irrfan being (not surprisingly) the best among them. Arjun Rampal as a silent, expressionless soldier without past fits the role and so does well, Huma Qureshi screams a bit too much from time to time but you believe her at any given moment. Shruti Hassan has a small role, is lovely to look at and in beautiful song Alvida her eyes steal the show by telling a story on their own. Her dialogue delivery sucks - something 90% of young actresses these days struggle with. Rishi Kapoor is brilliant. There is really nothing you can complain about when it comes to him. His mannerism and command over voice are remarkable.

I truly enjoyed the movie. It had just the right mix of mystery, thrilling stuff and emotions, it didn´t feel too stretched out of reality at any point, it was very "human" without any emotional blackmail involved. It was dark and rough, but not graphic. Definitely one of the better films of 2013. I repeat, I cannot say if it was politically correct or not. But strictly as a film, it was well made.