Sunday, 29 March 2015


Directed by: Indra Kumar
Starring: Aamir Khan, Manisha Koirala, Anil Kapoor, Sharmila Tagore
Released: 1999
My rating: destroy every copy – horrible – bad – whatever – flawed but enjoyable - good – great – amazing

I sincerely, honestly believe that the ONLY thing that ever made indra Kumar´s films work was Madhuri Dixit. Apart from Dil, which I consider a good film, even if flawed, Beta and Raja were only bearable because of her awesomeness and talent, and everything after that I have seen of his work just plain sucks. Mann is no different.

I write poetry in my spare time. Love me.
There is so much wrong with the plot! A severely mopy Sati Savitri Manisha falls in love with a cheater and a liar because he loves his grandmom. Because him being able to appreciate the old lady equals, in Manisha´s eyes, to being a good person. In fact, the character played by Aamir Khan is repulsive, unlikeable asshole and womanizer, who enjoys being creepy. The lengths he goes to while „wooing“ women would get him a restraining order in real life. Yet she falls in love with him, is jealous of girls he pays attention to, even though she has rejected him before. By the time the movie reached the interval I was ripping my hair out of frustration and sheer disbelief. Then the asshole-ish hero turns good and full of izzat overnight. How am I supposed to buy that?

"What the..."
"Do I turn you on?"
In the second half of the film we are served a completely different story. That of selfless love and that you should look around before crossing the road. Manisha´s face is all swollen throughout and her glycerin-tears-stained cheeks can only be equaled by Jaya Bachchan´s from Kabhi Khusi Kabhi Ghum. Because our heroine lost both her legs! From extreme „hilarity“ the movie sinks into extreme depression, and everything is so theatrical you just wonder what has the director do to make all these good actors act so terribly. 

So hot.
I was irked by so many things in the story, but the greatest outrage was perhaps when Manisha admits to the headmistress of the orphanage (where she had grown up) that she doesn´t want to marry the cheerful and genuinely nice Anil Kapoor (whom I did not expect in the least to show up), because she loves the womanizing stalker. She is then lectured on how she has no right whatsoever to follow her heart and be actually honest with her fiancé, because, you know, there is a chance he just might turn into a lunatic and go crazy because of that. And also: certainly, if she dares to refuse him, nobody will ever marry a girl from an orphanage again. Like WTF.

"Was my moustache not pervy enough for you, biatch?"
Aamir Khan is at his annoying worst (I think I read he regretted doing the film? It would definitely make sense.) Manisha looks disturbingly ill, I had to wonder whether she had some issues with her health off screen. Comedy has never been her forte, and her tragedy is too overdone in this. Anil Kapoor comes and goes, with the only sane character to play, but being himself more than anything. Sharmila Tagore cast as Aamir Khan´s grandmother felt so wrong! The fabulous actress, who was in her fifties at the time, is unrecognizable under a deck up of at least 80 year old woman, who appears very briefly only to pile on some more depression by dying in the second half.

"I am a Cinderella waiting for a Prince."
"But when he brings a shoe he won´t recognize you since you have no legs now."
"You lil shit!"
Logic has never really had place in Indra Kumar´s universe, while annoying over the top comedy thrived. Mann, which also stole a song or two from vintage European hits (here is one and here is another) is a confused movie trying to go from comedy into a tragic romance, much like Dil, but comedy is lame and tragic romance frustrating. The first half, made up of every wrong cliché, made me uncomfortable, the second half with its mopier than mopy ridiculousness made me roll my eyes till they almost stuck on the other part of my head.

"Good luck and break a leg, like you broke my heart."

(note on captions: Sorry for lame jokes. I don´t  mind Anil´s stache. The Cinderella comment was indeed made in the film. Except the ending. Of course.)

Friday, 27 March 2015

Jab Jab Phool Khile

Directed by: Suraj Prakash
Starring: Shashi Kapoor, Nanda
Released: 1965
My rating: destroy every copy – horrible – bad – whatever – flawed but enjoyable - good – great – amazing

Clearly the awful Raja Hindustani drew much inspiration from a film lot older, lot sweeter, and less blatantly sexist and prejudiced. Perhaps not as equally successful, but very successful still. Those were my initial thoughts after watching Jab Jab Phool Khile, a picture full of beautiful songs, terribly unrealistic studio sets, sophisticated Lolita-reading Nanda and above all the cutest, handsomest Shashi Kapoor. Perhaps no other actor has had innocence so clearly mirrored on his face. Mr. Shashi is simply adorable as a simple Kashmiri falling in love with a wealthy lady.

For most part Jab Jab Phool Khile is pure joy to watch. The wealthy girl is spoilt, but not rotten spoilt and does not think that poor people stink. She is wearing western clothes, but the traditional Shashi does not tell her off because of it (unlike Aamir in Raja Hindustani). She is, actually, clearly educated, sophisticated and has a strong will and sense of independence. Very early on she makes it clear that she has not yet thought her own life through, so why think of marriage. And she keeps the same attitude until love comes her way. Then too the wedding is not quick affair in a rush of emotions moment. Nanda has been known as the „homely“ heroine with sweet, inoffensive charm, and she essayed the role of Rita perfectly.

In the very soul of the story, however, is Raju (the most Shashilicious of all the Kapoors), his naive dreams and devoted persistence, which, as should be mentioned, never goes out of control. Far from being a stalker who puts himself in front of every step of the lady he fancies, Shashi loves Nanda from a certain distance. This distance always remains respectful, and for once the hero is not creepy at all. In fact he is completely loveable. Shashi with his gentle eyes and shy smile is forever my crush and whatever damage to his image was done by Satyam Shivam Sundaram, Jab Jab Phool Khile repaired seamlessly. The Kapoor men have always had incredible energy and gusto with hich they performed set them apart from other actors. Shashi´s excitement and unbounded joy as he sings about his hopes are infectious.

The smooth narrative, unfortunately, does have a few dents, most of which one is willing to forgive given the release date of the movie, and the fact the rest of it is so sweet. Still, they did take a away a bit from the viewing experience. The hero tries to fit into an unfamiliar world of his beloved without making it seem like a huge sacrifice of his moral conscience, and unlike in Raja Hindustani he is successful and not ridiculous at all. But just as I was ready to cheer for the movie, the eternal „west is bad“ idea crept into it and ruined the ending. When Shashi and Nanda dance at a party thrown by her parents, she goes on to dance with someone else for a bit. Within seconds the sweet Shashi turns into a lecturer on morality. Because how dare you dance with other men. It basically means you are a used thing with no worth. Naturally Nanda ensures a dramatic finale, during which the imagery is all too clear: Shashi having the moral high ground stands in a moving train, while she trips on down below on the pavement, begging him to take her away from everything what has been her life. I feel like inserting the „you tried“ meme here – for the makers.

Oh – the comedy bits were.... painful.

In the end it should be noted that the only saving grace of Raja Hindustani today is the music. Jab Jab Phool Khile, on the other hand, is still a pleasing cinematic piece. When two do the same, it is not the same.

Monday, 16 March 2015


Directed by: Rajkumar Hirani
Starring: Aamir Khan, Anushka Sharma, Saurabh Shukla, Boman Irani, Sanjay Dutt
Released: 2014
My rating: destroy every copy – horrible – bad – whatever – flawed but enjoyable - good – great – amazing

I love Raju Hirani and his films. They are cheeky, provokative, yet essentially „good at heart“, working with characters that go easily over the top, but still remain believable. Even if they are an alien, and even if the same faces have been used by the same director in his previous ventures, as figures very much unforgettable.

PK share much of its features with both E.T. and OMG Oh My God (starring Paresh Rawal and Akshay Kumar, and which I hear was also a take on some English film), so while this time it is not about being innovative and original, it is still about skillful filmmaking and cinema which can both entertain and educate. Certainly we should be grateful when a film like PK becomes a massive hit, instead of the mindless masala, at least once upon a time. Also thank God (the asli wala) that the film stayed away from much of romantic moping or emotional revelations, which would inevitably slowed the narrative down (It was not about romantic love anyway, so why dilute it.)

Aamir Khan gives a commendable performance, and while the biggest strength of PK is in the way his dialogues have been written more than anything, when his extravagant weirdness stops bothering you after a while, he slips into the role effortlessly. Anushka Sharma is a natural performer and one gets happy just seeing her twinkling eyes. Whatever she has been doing with the lower part of her face is completely her business and I do not judge her for it, but yes, I must admit in some scenes her mouth area was as distracting as Katrina´s lips in Jab Tak Hai Jaan. Saurabh Shukla appears and makes quite an impression as a mean religious leader, while the erst of the cast divide some special appearances. Boman Irani, I felt, got the mean deal. Given he has been such a power in Hirani´s previous movies, here he has nothing to work with at all. Sanjay Dutt is funny, and his shocking demise.... well.... shocking to say the least. The special appearance by Ranbir Kapoor at the end would have been an extremely pleasant surprise, had it not good friend tumblr ruined it for me just days after the film release.

PK, unfortunately, does not reach the higher than high standards set by Hirani himself with his previous films (namely 3 Idiots and above all Munnabhai MBBS). Half-an-hour-too-long, while it carries a fantastic message, it lacks any true drama to drive the plot. One feels for PK, but there is not a single moment when one would not expect him to return home eventually. Finally, the last twenty minutes seem sloppy. The whole explanation of „how maybe Sarfaraaz probably did not ditch you ever thought of that“ felt forced and over-constructed (does this word even exist?). Also, if you have a huge lasting fight over religion on national TV, there should be a grand conclusion, but the viewer is robbed of the experience, as the climax remains underplayed and underwhelming. Few times I also had to remind myself to be tolerant when it came to a fine line between humour and crude humour, without which Hirani seemingly cannot do (though I admit the dancing car was funny). The movie lacks memorable soundtrack.

When it comes of the specific theme of religion and how it became a big money spinning business, Rawal´s OMG remains superior. PK is more cute, with a hero and heroine more to the mainstream tastes, and on a grander scale. It carries the Raju Hirani signature: it is light-hearted, funny yet touching, all that just somehow little less than usual.