My 2 cents

Dhobi Ghaat (Mumbai Diaries)

I am not sure if Dhobi Ghaat is an apt title for this movie, just ‘Mumbai Diaries’ would have worked better for me. Or maybe ‘Bombay Diaries’ since no one in the movie refers to the city as Mumbai anyway, not that I am complaining.

Most of our movie experiences depend on two factors – our expectations from the movie and our mood while watching it. This is one movie where these factors become crucial, really crucial. Most of the people watching the movie with me (not just my gang, the entire hall) did not like the movie and were pretty vocal about it (sadly during the movie also), I enjoyed it. This is one movie which wants you to let it be, had no pretensions of being conventionally engaging, does not offer any sort of  closure for any of the lead characters, does not have any larger than life characters and does not have any item song (shudder!!!).

Yet it is engaging and interesting, makes you think enough for it to be called smart, and is funny and endearing in enough places. You are invited to view the lives of young Munna (Prateik Babbar, the best of the lot in Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na and very good and endearing here) and Yasmin (Kriti Malhotra, simply the most outstanding performer here), through the eyes of Shai (Monica Dogra, looking okay but performing just adequately) and Arun (Amir Khan being Amir Khan). As an added attraction you also get a peek into the lives of Shai and Arun.

Yasmin is the one you empathize with most even though she has the simplest story. You feel for her as she tries to find (or create) capture-worthy experiences in her apparently routine and to some extent boring life. Her interview of her maid and maid’s daughter is easily the highlight of the film, the one scene where even the naysayers in my theatre were hooked. It was interesting to notice how Arun’s attitude towards her story changes as the movie progresses. At the start he had her story at his beck and call, pausing and rewinding as he pleased/needed. But later, the story took over him and ultimately his decision (of moving house) was controlled by the story, a far cry from him having the control.

Munna is next in the list of characters that made you feel for them. He has dreams, and he is working towards them even though it is highly unlikely that he will be able to realize them, he keeps on working towards them. Even adding Shai to the list of apparently unachievable dreams that he has. Where the film succeeds is in making viewers also want the success of Munna. Prateik is endearing and honest in his performance and I feel this is only the second of many such performances.

Shai should have been the more intriguing of the two observers since she is an outsider, more than Arun anyway, but it is Arun who is sucked in more. Shai is in turn intrigued by Arun and is apparently oblivious to the feelings Munna has for her, though she genuinely cares for him and is in no way using him. Initially I felt that Shai was looking at everything with Slumdog Millionaire eyes, but her genuine feelings for Arun as well as Munna made me feel otherwise. Her story is the one that comes closest to a closure in that she has something to look forward to when the movie ends. Munna is looking at a life of responsibility and hardships and Arun is plain lonely, but she has a choice and a chance to pursue what she wants.

The best way to watch this movie would be the way Arun watches Yasmin’s videos, at our own pace pausing/rewinding at will – continue if we are interested or just leave it. So once again I would say wait for the DVD, else you might be in the majority who won’t like this experimental movie.

In one of the pre-release interviews Kiran Rao said she was not comfortable being known just as Amir Khan’s wife. While I do feel she is a talented director, I think she will have to face that predicament for some more time. This movie would not have been made, analyzed so much, and gotten an international release without Amir Khan’s name attached to it. Amir’s name has a certain credibility which ensured that scores of people went in to watch a non-conventional movie on the first weekend of its release and the ones who liked it are a small subset of those people. Even the ones who liked it might not have gone for it had it not been an Amir Khan production. This was an Amir Khan film first for most of us. But looking at it, I feel the audience of a Kiran Rao film is already building up.

Avatar

Posted in Last movie I saw, Movies, Movies I recommend, review, something I like, Something New by urmilesh on December 23, 2009

It is not often that you are witness to a human-alien war and you side with the aliens – Avatar is the experience that will bring this change in you.

I’d been hearing about this movie for a long time now, and saw the first visuals only last year. And I was so hoping that it is not one of those movies where the special effects guy takes over as the director. Well it turns out the director here took over as the special effects guy, and found a way to let us peek into his mind and see what he is visualizing. Yes he did do that.

For once you will not feel betrayed at paying the prohibitively costly ticket prices, you might in-fact feel lucky to be able to witness something so path-breaking and so revolutionary for a couple of hundred rupees. As it happened in my case, you will also not mind the long wait for parking, the utterly mis-managed queues for 3D glasses distribution, and the jostling crowds. Yes it is that kind of a movie.

There is nothing much to say about the story, it is fairly predictable. But the depiction, the visualization and the execution are AWESOME. Every little detail has been tended to, and there is so much rich content on the screen in almost every frame that you just HAVE TO watch this in 3D. I am hoping to get a chance to watch it in IMAX for my second viewing. Yes a second viewing is a very real possibility – It is such a great movie.

Hindu mythology says that Vishnu will come to earth in an avatar whenever the right is over-powered by the wrong; and he shall do so for not more than ten times in total (out of which nine incarnations are already past us). There is an interesting theory on PFC about how Avatar is the story of the tenth incarnation of Vishnu. It is very well possible that JC himself is the supposed tenth guy burdened with the task of salvaging movie-making (since the world seems to be beyond Vishnu’s saving power anyways :P) and Avatar is his way of doing it. Yes, it is such an act of brilliance from him.

Go watch it, in 3D.

Kaminey

Posted in Last movie I saw, Movies, Movies I recommend, review, something I like, Something New, Songs by urmilesh on August 14, 2009

Since I posted last (which it seems was SOME time back), I have seen a number of movies; have liked some and hated some. But none of them got me to write something about it, for a number of reasons. Kaminey is one exception, and a pretty good one at that.

First, I am pretty thankful that there are some directors who do not require us to leave our brains at home when we come to watch a movie (because it’s pretty much impossible to do so). Because I do not like spoon-feeding, non-linear narratives generally work for me (not the regular flashbacks that are so prevalent). And though Kaminey does not have a very complicated non-linear narrative, we do need to stay focused to understand what is happening on the screen, and to the credit of the director, it is not very taxing to stay focused.

The performances are first-rate. If Omkara made me notice Deepak Dobariyal, then Kaminey had Mikhail (I missed the name of  the actor who played this character). Shahid Kapur brought enough nuances to the twin roles he portrayed, this was pretty different from what he had done till now. Priyanka was adorable, Amol Gupte was effective. Actually everyone fitted what he/she played and so a blanket ‘well played’ is in order.

There are some scenes which I want to mention for the way they were conceptualized/portrayed but I guess I will hold off on that for now.I do not want to share the story here. Not because there is some high-voltage suspense, but because it would be better appreciated as it unfolds in front of you. So what I am saying is, take your brains with you and go watch Kaminey.

Oh and Yes….the music is awesome and very well used in the movie.

Gulaal

Posted in India, Last movie I saw, Movies, Movies I recommend, politics, review, something I like by urmilesh on March 25, 2009

It is surprising in a way that this is the first Anurag Kashyap movie I have seen (since I watch pretty much anything) but I can only say this : ‘better late than never‘.

One of the most difficult tasks at this time would be to find faults with this movie simply because it has been so well made. And it gives me a bad feeling to know that it will not make as much money as a film good as this should make; but I guess the makers also knew this beforehand.

The movie packed a whole lot in itself and as such can mean different things to different people and the impressive part is that none of these different people would feel short-changed by the director. For me, it was about the extent to which politics has crept into our day to day lives, even in personal relationships. The way Dileep is exploited by Kiran (obvious to everyone but Dileep) and the way Kiran is exploited by her brother Karan (which is not as obvious); reflects at a personal level how the office of general secretary is exploited by Dukey Bana at a political level. In the end the clear winner, or the last man standing, is the one who was the least obvious in his manipulations; which says a lot about how politics is played out.

The strengths of the movie are many: dialogues, songs (used very effectively as background score), performances, screenplay, use of lighting (notice the place where Dileep and Ransa reside, and also the scene when his highness learns of his son’s death…you will know what I mean) and the writing. What’s great is that every character has story and a part to play, no one is a filler. And nobody’s story is dictated out to you, you are assumed intelligent based on the fact that you bought a ticket for this movie.

I would recommend this movie to all who love good cinema…and would like to say that Anurag Kashyap and Piyush Mishra have gained a new fan who is starting his research on them as of now 🙂

What happens in Vegas – should have stayed in Vegas

Posted in Bangalore, Last movie I saw, Movies, review by urmilesh on September 17, 2008

YAWN!!!
That’s the first and the last thing that I remember about the movie…in between there are a number of other things also, but none of them could take priority over it 🙂 That, in effect, sums up the movie for me.

I am one of those who pride myself on knowing how the movie will be (again for me) by watching the trailer. And from the trailer itself this movie seemed to be one I would not pay to see; but the ticketing software of PVR Bangalore took care of that and gave us 4 tickets to this movie when we’d boooked 4 for ‘Righteous Kill’ (one which is also not very high on the wanna-watch list).

The movie is one of the ‘Rom-Com’ genre and does nothing which hasn’t been done before. It is completely predictable, except for bits and pieces here and there, and that is what spoils the fun. It is the story of Jack (Ashton Kutcher) who is fired by his own dad at the start of the movie; and Joy (Cameron Diaz) who is dumped by her boy-friend right in the middle (more at the start) of the birthday party that she has painstakingly organized for him. They both go to Vegas to forget everything, and do just that…accidentally getting married in the process.

Oops!!! Did I just gave away the story? No I did not since this much is shown very prominently in the trailers, as also the part where Jack wins 3 million dollars in Jackpot the morning after and that makes the idea of annulement of their recent marriage rather unattractive for Joy.
The rest of the movie is about how they try to stay together for 6 months for the sake of money, how each one tries to make life hell for the other, and how they fall in love eventually.

Nothing wrong with the story actually…nothing wrong with the movie as such also; except for the fact that it gives you a feeling of ‘been there done that’ and that too a number of times. The actors are ok…Cameron Diaz has started looking old, and the jokes more or less fall flat.

Watch it if it’s coming on TV…don’t spend money on it.

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Tashan – Review

Posted in Movies, review, Something I dislike by urmilesh on May 22, 2008

I am not even sure if ‘review’ is the right word since the word indicates that I will have to view the movie once again in my head so that I can write something about it, and I am not sure if that is something I even want to do (woah I did not take this into account when I started writing this post).

Tell you what, the movie is not worth watching; and it is not worth wasting precious storage space of wordpress. Watch at your own risk, or if you have to watch it then watch it as a spoof movie, may work.

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Love Songs – Yesterday Today and Tomorrow: Movie Review

Posted in Last movie I saw, Movies, review by urmilesh on April 2, 2008

All those who know me know that I am a movie buff, that I am ready for a movie at any time of the day, at any point in my personal/professional/social life, with (almost) anyone.

So when I think that there is some movie which even I can’t watch then that more often than not means that the movie is a total disaster.

Well yesterday I found out that there is one more rung which is lower that the ‘total disaster’ category; it will henceforth belong to the movies which made me fall asleep midway. Adjacently placed will be movies from which I walked out. The movie ‘Love Songs – Yesterday Today and Tomorrow’ has the distinction of belonging to both these categories.

There is nothing further I need to add to this review I feel J

My Name Is Anthony Gonsalves : Movie Review

Posted in Last movie I saw, mithun, Movies, review by urmilesh on January 12, 2008

If there is one good thing that can be said about this movie (and there are not many believe me), it is that they had the right casting director.
Sample this:

  • the protagonist is a normal looking guy who wants to make it big in tinsel town, and who do you have?? A Hemant Birje lookalike who is as normal as normal can be (and I do not mean that in a bad sense).
  • the heroine is a pretty young thing who just has to look nice and blabber, and Amrita Rao does justice to what is needed.
  • years of watching movies has told us that Pawan Malhotra can fit into any role with ease so for that the credit should go to the actor I guess.
  • anupam kher as the head of the mafia family.
  • mukesh rishi as the mindless maniacal goon.
  • and finally, since because of his own ideological limitations the director could not cast Prabhuji as God, he cast him as God’s own man. (note: if you do not know what Prabhuji means then stop reading now)

Besides this, there is nothing much in the movie to warrant spending well earned money, except for Prabhuji’s fight scene at the end as well as a couple of sequences here and there.

It is very hard to pinpoint what exactly is wrong with the movie; the problem is that everything is just ok. And unfortunately, that does not count for much now-a-days.

Up to you (as always) to decide what you wanna do.

Welcome : Movie Review

Posted in Last movie I saw, Movies, review by urmilesh on January 5, 2008

It is too late for a proper review since the movie has already been out for 2 weeks, so I’ll just have a pro and cons list and hope that works.

Pros

  1. Anil Kapoor is in great form and his timing makes many scenes work.
  2. Nana Patekar is the ever dependable again.
  3. The first half is pretty taut and there are not many dull moments (it is basically an assortment of funny sequences).
  4. The second line of supporting cast (Vijay Raaj, Mushtaq et al) work.
  5. The individual scenes have been executed well even if editing is a bit tacky.
  6. Nana Patekar in Kiya Kiya song.

Cons

  1. The songs are plain bad.
  2. Since it is an assortment of funny sequences at best, you may not find anything resembling a script.
  3. The climax is very stupid (not that the rest of movie isn’t but still you have to draw the line somewhere 😉 )
  4. The editing and special effects are very tacky.
  5. Akshay Kumar has nothing new to offer; ditto with Paresh Rawal.
  6. Were there any heroines in the film??

so the score is 6 each, you decide if you wanna watch.

Taare Zameen Par : Movie Review

Posted in Last movie I saw, Movies, Movies I recommend, review, something I like by urmilesh on December 22, 2007

After a long time, I saw the first day first show of a movie (courtesy Project Team Outing) and in the end I was pretty happy that this movie was chosen. Not just because it was a good movie; but also because, for a change, everyone in our project team liked the movie (which is very hard to happen as I have seen in the past).

It’s a nice, simple movie about a kid who faces some trouble in keeping up with the regimentation and competition that has become a part of everyday lives of children (and adults as well) now. In the movie the kid is dyslexic, but it may well happen very easily with kids who are not facing this problem but just not that inclined towards subjects which parents traditionally find suitable for a good career.

The movie mostly belongs to the kid Ishaan Awasthi (played very well by Darsheel); and the first half is completely his own. He carries the movie pretty well and I am pretty curious to see if he will be nominated in the Best Actor category in the 101 award functions that are about to start as soon as the new year comes.
His trauma and problems are established very well by the director (a job well done by Amir) in the first half even at the cost of looking repetitive. Many times I felt that the camera was overstaying at the kid’s face, but it did help in building up his character, even if it did make the movie a bit slow. The song Mera Jahaan has been picturized very well; especially the way the street vendors have been depicted (though I did wonder how did the kid get his hands on money given that he takes the school bus to school and back). The way he handles his Maths problems in the class test has traces of Spaceman Spiff written all over it, which fits because Calvin is one of the most well-known misunderstood kids. His fights and attempts to hide from peers that he finds it difficult to read/write is something most of us would identify with at some level. His trauma does not end with fight, pressure and being mis-understood. He is finally packed off to a boarding school when it is felt that he strictly needs a dose of discipline; which ends up almost stifling him until life sends an unconventional art teacher Ram Nikumb (played well by Amir) to rescue him; which marks the start of the second half.

The more time Amir had spent in establishing the problem, the lesser he has invested in  portraying the solution; which ends up looking too simplistic, something Munnabhai would have done. But still, to find fault at this stage would be like nit-picking so I’d let it go (along with the couple of places where Mr Nikumb gets preachy). The climax again tries to play on the emotions of the viewer and looks too simplistic, though the song Tu Dhoop Hai is in the league of Robaroo from Rang De Basanti.

Performance-wise, everyone has done a good job. The kid (Darsheel) and his mother (Tisca Chopra) stand out. Amir has raised the bar so much from himself that this kind of a performance is routine for him now (although Amir the director is a good story-teller). The movie’s camera work and art direction is something everyone will take notice of, it really stands out.

Two expressions of the kid that really stayed with me (for some time only :)) were:

  1. when he realizes his father had been teasing him about leaving the house.
  2. when he realizes that everyone is calling out his name for coming on to the stage.

It’s a good watch, I’d recommend it.