Reccos: Wadjda

WadjdaOfficial Synopsis:
Every day Wadjda passes a toy store window showing a beautiful green bicycle. Although it is forbidden for girls to ride bicycles, Wadja concocts a plan to earn enough money to afford the bike by secretly selling ‘illicit products’ in her schoolyard. But her plans are soon exposed, leaving her with only one last chance to make the money she needs; a Koran recital competition with a big cash prize. With her slyness and cunning mind, Wadjda tries to find a way to rise above her fellow competitors to make her most cherished dream come true… the green bicycle.

Wadjda is a Saudi Arabian–German film. Its the first feature film shot entirely in Saudi Arabia and is the first feature-length film made by a female Saudi director. The film was the Saudi Arabian entry for Best Foreign Language Film at the 2014 Oscars and it was the first time that Saudi Arabia submitted a film for the Oscars.

The movie can be said to be similar to or having been influenced by Majid Majidi’s Iranian classic Children of Heaven. This one also has a couple of young protagonists (boy-girl) and it revolves around Wadjda’s quest to attain the bicycle. There is a different competition in here – winning which should enable her to attain the bicycle but doesn’t get her what she wanted. The ending can also be termed similar to Children of Heaven.

But what makes this different is that this is also a movie which shows how strict and regressive the Saudi Arabian society is. Everything is banned or frowned upon. Girls are not supposed to ride bikes and 11 year girls have to wear Abaya to school. They cant even play in the school yard because some men can watch them and they are not even supposed to laugh because some men can hear their voice. Women have to hide on their balcony for fear that some male can view them. A 11 year old classmate comes back married to school. They have religious police which is shown in one scene in the movie. Wadjda’s father gets married again because Wadjda’s mother cannot beget him a son. And this same husband does not want her to work at the hospital because she would be in contact with other men.

The scenes where Wadjda sells her products in school and the scene where she passes the letter to “brother” of a girl from school are funny. Wajda striking a deal with Abdullah to use their wall in return for letting her ride the bike or immediately offering her hand out when offered a bribe are cute. The mother trying to stop her husband from marrying another woman by buying a red dress shows the sad situation of hers. And what happens after the Quran reciting competition is again sad. The final scene is the best scene of the movie and it captures the freedom and rebelliousness beautifully.

Waad Mohammed is excellent as Wadjda. She is cute and lovely in scenes where she is trying to earn money for her bicycle. She is spunky in her scenes with her friend Abdullah and and the life of the movie in every scene of hers. Abdullrahman Algohani is very good as her friend Abdullah. Reem Abdullah is very good as the mother and looked very pretty. Sultan Al Assaf is ok as the father in a small role. Ahd is very good as the strict teacher Ms Hussa.

Background music by Max Richter is excellent and Cinematography by Lutz Reitemeier is very good. Haifaa Al Mansour’s direction is very good. In spite of the underlying strict environment she keeps the movie lively and entertaining. There is no melodrama and everything is subtle. Even though Wadjda was made with official permission her effort is very remarkable because women are not allowed to work in public and she had to direct while sitting in a van. This is definitely a must watch and highly recommended.

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Recalling: Sara Akash (1969)

A 1969 film, ‘Saara Akash’ is the debut directorial feature of Basu Chatterjee, who later went on to make some of the most acclaimed films of the 70s and the 80s. It is very much a non-mainstream effort with mostly first time actors forming the cast, and has been given a very unique treatment by Chatterjee, especially in terms of its experimental shot-taking, quirky camera angles, and use of nano-flashbacks to depict the internal conflicts of the chief protagonist. Like many of the director’s later efforts, the movie has its basis in literature and its story is adapted from the first part of a novel of the same name, written by noted Hindi writer Rajendra Yadav.

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The movie has a very novel premise about how a newly-wed husband and wife don’t exchange even a single word between themselves for almost six months. Set in a traditional middle class Hindu family in the historical city of Agra, the story is soaked in the atmospherics of the Indian grassroots, especially the ones associated with the custom of arranged marriages in a joint family system.

A young man, yet to complete his formal education, is married off to a beautiful and demure girl, much against his wishes. The girl too has had some schooling, and is seen as someone who is well educated by the general societal standards set for her kind. Thus, completely unprepared for matrimony, both youngsters enter into a relationship that is marked by uncertainty, apprehension, and bashfulness. After making an inauspicious beginning by completely ignoring each other on their first night together, their problems only get compounded, as the reservations they have towards one another keep on getting fueled by their family dynamics.

The boy is fiery and ambitious, heavily influenced by the ideals of Subhash Chandra Bose and other noted public figures that had a stirring impact on the youth of those days. He channels a firm outward belief that marriage is nothing but an impediment in the makings of a great man, resulting in him assuming a tough face in front of his wife, despite covertly longing for her companionship. Some of the most delectable moments of the film are the ones that highlight this contradiction, and mostly involve him completely ignoring her presence, despite wanting to do the exact opposite. Till about halfway into its duration, the film has a light-hearted approach and derives humor from such situations. However, the tone of the film soon changes as the focus shifts on the other half of the conundrum, i.e. the inner world of the bride, who is harangued not just by her husband’s insurmountable apathy, but also by his family members’ demanding behavior and condescending attitude towards her education, especially from the jealous women-folk of the household. In a poignant scene that illustrates this change of treatment, the girl makes a mistake while doing a household chore and is severely reprimanded by her mother-in-law, and when the boy enters the scene and is told about the misdeed done by his wife on whom he has no apparent control, he goes forward and slaps her, which marks the first physical contact between the couple. Later he cries like a baby, hating himself for that act of physical abuse, and mocking his own fake ideals that couldn’t stop him from hitting his wife. The result of this unfortunate occurrence is that he starts spending more and more time outside the home, taking refuge in solitude or in passing time with his friends. On the other hand the girl’s solitude becomes even more absolute, especially when her confinement’s only solace, the boy’s sister with whom she shares some sort of understanding, is sent back to her husband despite her many protests.

Throughout its short duration of 90 minutes, the film unequivocally portrays the plights of a newly wedded bride in a patriarchal, male-dominated set-up. In the alien environment of her husband’s home, the young girl is shown to get little respite, and her world gets completely distraught as she gets abandoned by what could have been her only source of comfort in the unforgiving situation, her husband.  The husband, on the other hand, comes across mostly as a pitiable and spineless figure, with little points of redemption. Hardly out of his childhood, his mind replete with regressive societal notions on how a wife should behave and not behave, and at the same time heavily influenced by the elders in his family, the boy-man’s helplessness too comes out on occasions when he breaks into a child-like smile on being teased by a friend, or when he shyly dreams about little moments of intimacy with his wife.

The acting by the two leads, Rakesh Pandey and Madhu Chakravarty is impressive and both manage to do complete justice to their extremely complex characters. The three most familiar faces in the cast are those of AK Hangal, Dina Pathak, and Jalal Agha, but none of them have really much to do. There are no songs in the film; however, the music by Salil Choudhary, which plays mostly in the background, fits the mood of the film very well.

Parting Note: An exceptionally well shot experimental film with a very realistic treatment that remains topical, despite the forty-five years that have passed since its making. A must watch for all those who wish to study and savor the parallel Hindi art-film movement, which according to many, started with this film.

Interesting fact: The film was shot entirely in the ancestral home of its writer, Rajendra Yadav (source Wikipedia)

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Recalling: Chaitali (1975)

This is a mid 1970s movie stchaitali2arring Dharmendra and Saira banu in lead roles, and directed by none other than Hrishikesh Mukherjee, a man who helmed arguably some of the best Hindi movies made ever. There is another great matter of prestige attached to this feature, that of it being a Bimal Roy production, albeit posthumous. Bimal Roy, who himself arguably made some of the best Hindi movies ever, is also seen by many as the precursor to Hrishikesh Mukherjee, who he mentored along with a man called Sampoorn Singh Kalra, better known as Gulzar. So it will be fair to say that ‘Chaitali’, as a movie, boasts of some enviable pedigree. And yet, it is one of those criminally under-seen movies, reflected in just a handful of ratings it has garnered on Imdb (less than 20 on last count). It might have been a commercial failure at that time, but does it deserve the obscurity that it is shrouded in today? For sure not, as, though the film is not faultless, it is still a reasonably engaging dramatic feature that makes a social comment on delinquency, forgiveness, and redemption.

Adapted from a Bengali short story of the same name, Chaitali inhabits a world that is much different from the general Hrishikesh Mukherjee fold, wherein most of his movies stayed away from depicting the darker strata of our social order. The narrative is centered on Chaitali (Saira Banu in the title role), a woman who has been forced by her circumstances and her unfortunate upbringing to occupy a space that constantly haunts her, but from which she not being able to escape. Creating a stark contrast, her life merges with a more typical Hrishikesh Mukherjee middle-class urban household, full of family values and righteousness. The first few minutes of the movie establish this moral rectitude and bonhomie of this family, headed by a kind matriarch, and assisted by that ever cheerful and passionately loyal servant (Asit Sen yet again). The tone and tenor of the film then changes considerably when Chaitali enters the household, guiltily taking advantage of goodness of the elderly matron, with the intention of swindling some money. All this while, the younger son of the family Manish, (Dharmendra in a mostly subdued role) is aware of the reality of the woman, but takes pity on her circumstances, apart from developing a soft corner for her. The drama later shifts to a religious sanctuary on the hills, where Chaitali shares her life story honestly with Manish, who gets utterly shaken by the grimy details of her upbringing, which include a criminally inclined father on the run, a brothel, many lecherous eyes eager to pounce on her adolescence, and a suitor (played uninhibitedly by Asrani) who is both a danger and a comfort to her in the murky vicinities of her life.

Throughout the story and its dramatic last act (the best executed out of the lot in my view), Chaitali comes across as a highly complex character, both repulsed by and dependent on crime and delinquency. And this confusion, somehow, gets reflected in the treatment of the film, with its highly uneven tone oscillating between glimmers of hope and pits of hopelessness. Dharmendra’s part is under-cooked and not well defined, with neither his motivations, nor his intentions, and nor his beliefs, coming out on screen clearly. This in some ways gets evened out by strong subsidiary characters- chiefly the lawyer elder brother (who gets a lot to do in the last act) and his wife (Bindu in a meaty part, but hamming it up completely).

The music of the film, much like the film itself, is not popular at all. There are just three songs, and seen in isolation, two of them are pleasant enough. But none add to the movie in any which way; this lack of memorable tunes another reason for the oblivion the film finds itself today.

Signing off with a vintage ‘on-the-set’ still from the filming of an outdoor shot from the movie:

chaitali1

http://cinegems.in/dharmendra-hrishikesh-mukherji-durga-khote-and-saira-banu-on-the-locations-of-chaitali-1975/

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Recalling: Gaman (1978)

gaman1Muzzafar Ali’s first film, Gaman, is an effort that, at one level, delineates the chasm between the India of the villages, and the India ruled by urbanity. At another level, it portrays the multitude of different worlds that inhabit the urban fold. The film keeps oscillating between two starkly shot geographic settings throughout its duration; Kotwara, a small village in Uttar Pradesh, and Mumbai, the quintessential metropolis, simmering with a lure that is almost Pied-Piper-esque. The lead character, essayed by a tremendously understated Farookh Sheikh, migrates to the big city from this native village of his, in search for a living, leaving behind a newly-wedded wife and an ailing mother. This migration (or Gaman), is his last resort, much like how it is for thousands of his ilk. How his life first interacts, and later merges, with the all-encompassing landscape of Mumbai, and how he constantly tries to make peace with the guilt of having left his family behind, while all the time trying to seek redemption in this choice made by him, is what the film is all about, at least on the surface. But the director has ensured that deeper connotations are implied by giving a very unique treatment to the screenplay, where instead of focusing on the affairs of just the main leads, he has created a mesh of similarly themed stories of human survival, which suffuse into each other, and construct an ensemble. And yet the handling is minimalistic, and in most of the frames the emotions are more explicit through the visuals, than through the words spoken by the characters.

Gaman2The movie is also an excellent example of crowd-sourcing and how ‘real’ people, places, and locations have been used in the narrative (The director duly metions the natives of Kotwara in the credit roll). In fact, it is hard to find a frame which looks inauthentic or which might have been shot on a set or in a studio. Mumbai too has been shot painstakingly, with much love, and for anyone familiar with the city’s terrains, the cinematography of the movie is reason enough to give the movie a watch. The language, grammar, and dialect of the words and the music of the film is rooted in realism and is full of references from history, and especially that from the history of Islam, for the lead characters are Muslim, and their native village, as in the film, has a sizeable Muslim population. The practices observed during Muharram at the village of Kotwara have been shot guerilla style and are depicted unequivocally. In a poignant moment from the film, the lead character gets caught in a frenetic Maharashtrian celebration, and is promptly reminded of the Muharram communal mourning back at his village. This is perhaps another way to bring to fore the intermingling of cultures, which the director portrays, not just by setting his film in the melting pot of all humanity that is Mumbai, but also by relegating the religious identities of his characters to the background by treating them in a very matter of fact manner, which in itself is very refreshing. The songs too are reflective of this timeless convergence that is perhaps the most defining feature of Indian socio-cultural fabric; the music (by Jaidev) is based on our ‘Hindustani’ tradition and has a classical base with the lyrics in both Hindi and Urdu. Half of the songs are set against Smita Patil’s incredibly expressive eyes in the backdrop. She hardly has any dialogue to speak in the film, and yet she says a lot in each and every frame she is present in.

Signing off with the song ‘Seene Mein Jalan’, which is the perhaps the best remembered song from the movie…

P.S.- Nana Patekar has a character role in the movie, while Satish Shah also appears in a scene.

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Epic Moments from the Family Guy

Check out the epic scenes from The Family Guy. Somehow no one ever recommended me this show for all these years until recently. Its the greatest cartoon show ever made for adults

Warning: NSFW (Adult content)

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Shaheed (1965): A Relook

Link: http://moviesandnomore.blogspot.in/2011/08/shaheed-1965.html

23rd March, 1931- Never before had a scheduled execution been advanced by a day- never before had an execution taken place at dusk- 23rd March, 1931- the mightiest empire in the world had to twist the rules written by itself- Such was the power and threat of Bhagat Singh and his friends, that the empire could not afford their survival for another single day- even when they were safely behind bars.

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‘Shaheed’, a 1965 Manoj Kumar film directed by S Ram Sharma, is a story of martyrdom- it is the story of arguably the greatest set of revolutionaries to have taken birth on the Indian soil. One of the few biopic features made in our cinema, it is certainly one of the finest too- if not the finest. It narrates the life and times of Bhagat Singh, a name that resonates every now and then in each and every home of our country- and understandably so. At the start of the new millennium, our film-makers decided to relive his story on celluloid and thus we were confronted with as many as four features on the same man, and the same story. Although Raj Kumar Santoshi’s effort was indeed a fine one, it certainly had a great reference point in the form of this movie that is an extremely rich feature despite being made in an era characterized by minimalistic use of technology and lack of resources and high budgets. This movie has a soul as bright and as warm as the great soul it talks about.

Unlike its remake (I would be addressing Raj Kumar Santoshi’s ‘The Legend of Bhagat Singh’ as its remake, for it was the movie that came closest to replicating its spirit and intentions); Shaheed focuses more on the times spent by Bhagat Singh and his mates behind bars. It also keeps its scope pretty much restricted to these characters and does not include the other noted personalities of that time in its narrative. Thus it refrains from showing the interactions and exchanges between the Viceroy and the congressmen, and also does not lay much focus on showing the external dynamics of the situation. In effect, the greatest strength of this movie is that it does not pitch the ideology of Bhagat Singh and his mates against the one MK Gandhi had and abstains from making this contrast-which could have been used to escalate the spirit of revolution and sacrifice (a tool used to a good effect in its remake).

The story has been collated from authentic sources like Bhagat Singh’s mother herself and Batukeshwar Dutt, who was an important part of Bhagat Singh’s party and in fact accompanied Bhagat Singh while they exploded a bomb in the Central Legislative Assembly as a mark of protest against the introduction of the Public Safety Bill and the Trade Dispute Bill (which were touted to make the lives of the common men more miserable). He was also involved in a historic hunger strike by Bhagat Singh and his mates against the dreadful treatment given to the inmates in Indian jails. This hunger strike gets prominent focus in the movie, and is portrayed in a much more restrained and less horrific manner than in its remake. Here a character played by Pran (that of a dacoit inmate along with Bhagat Singh and his group) has been used very well to depict the scale of the sacrifice and level of courage shown by the men for the betterment of their race and their country.

Despite tackling a vast subject matter, the movie has its focus pretty clear and sharp editing helps the cause.The sets and shooting locations are pretty authentic- the only grouse is that the lighting is poor at some places. The soul of this movie, however, lies in its performances and its music. Manoj Kumar lives the character of Bhagat Singh and comes up with a truly memorable act that I believe remains unmatched (even in the modern day remakes). Prem Chopra plays Sukhdev, and though he lacks the finesse displayed by his more important colleague, he still manages to do a good job backed by the subject matter and the other supporting cast. The character of Bhagat Singh’s mother (played by Kamini Kaushal) is a very well etched one and has been performed remarkably by the lady (one of the best on screen mother acts). Other notable performances are by the jail staff and the Jailor (Madan Puri). Pran’s cameo too is very impactful and one wonders why this character was done away with in the remake. Chandrasekhar Azad, as a character, is not given much prominence in the film.

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There are no words apt enough to describe what the music of this film brings to it. The songs are heartwarming and evergreen and take the narrative forward in a splendid manner. In fact, songs come at the highpoint of all the dramatic bits of the story. The songs are based on the poems by Ram Prasad Bismil, another notable revolutionary of that time who was involved in the Kakori incident (which gets a fleeting mention in this film unlike its remake). “Sarfaroshi Ki Tamanna”, “Aye Watan”, “Mera Rang De Basanti Chola”, “Pagdi Sambhal”- it is hard to recall any other movie having so many memorable gems- and all having tremendous bearing on the film’s unfolding.

Parting Note– The movie is memorable for more reasons than one. It is one of those patriotic movies that won’t let you remain just a passive viewer watching a movie. It will involve you, it will evoke sentiments, but above all it will make you reflect and think about the meaning of sacrifice, love, and freedom.

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Postscript: Bhagat Singh is relevant even today, more so than ever before, for his efforts were not only directed at achieving freedom, but also towards betterment of the posterity and most importantly spreading the feeling of love and pride for our nation and our people- which sadly today comes up only during cricket matches or when our media channels decide to take it up during remembrances such as today. It is only when we, as individuals, start feeling responsible for our country and start caring for it as much as we care for ourselves, will issues like corruption cease to infest our society. We don’t need an Anna Hazare or Kejriwal for that- we have enough examples in our history to take inspiration from- or better still setting an example ourselves by being honest, diligent and fair at whatever we do or at the methods we adopt. Jai Hind.

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Senna 2010 – Must Must Watch

sennaSenna (2010) – Have you ever heard of Ayrton Senna? If not then you need to know everything about him. He is one of the Greatest Sports Star in the world and those who follow Formula 1 definitely know about Michael Schumacher but very few of them know about Ayrton Senna. This movie in itself is the greatest documentary ever made on a sports personality. This documentary is so intriguing and captivating that you may end up with tears and instantly become a Huge Fan of Ayrton Senna.

This movie is a documentary based on Brazilian Formula 1 driver Ayrton Senna who won the F1 world championship 3 times and created many records at time of his reign. The best thing about the documentary is that they have documented it as a Movie casting the original stars such as Niki Lauda, Alain Prost, Ayrton Senna, F1 Director and other people instead of someone else performing on their behalf. They have made use of every last video on Ayrton Senna in this movie and given us a better look on real life of Senna. Don’t miss it guys; it is one of The Best Movie I ever have seen.

The movie has covered almost everything from politics, money, fame, rivalry, tabloid etc… in the best possible scenario. This movie will be at No 1 in my list of Best Sports movie ever even though it is a documentary. I don’t think anyone can make a better movie on Senna than this documentary and top of that, Asif Kapadia (The Warrior starring Irfan Khan) is the director and Manish Pandey (road to Sangam starring Paresh Rawal) is the writer. Highly  Recommended!!!

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Bulandi (2000) : When panchayat becomes a penchant

bulandi

Bulandi is one of my biggest guilty pleasure film  to date along with Clerk and Gaon humaara shaher tumhara. I have seen it multiple times, visited it recently  and each time it is just as enjoyable because there is so much to decipher in every scene. The film celebrates male chauvinism at danke ki chot and takes extreme pride in it in a very earnest way. It is about a thakur family which has a history of making disastrous decisions.

Each time a thakur makes an entry on his ghoda -gaadi, there is an epic BMG which resembles the Bane chant from The dark knight rises. You have no option but to get mesmerised each time anil/rajni as thakur walks in slow motion . Rajnikant but naturally has more flair here. He doesnt light stick by rubbing it on match box but instead rubs the match box on the stick to light his cigar. Since that day i always lighted the match stick in my chemistry lab in same fashion. such is the impact of that scene. If during an argument in panchayat, someone doesnt agree with Rajni and tries to fight back, rajni just moves his gamcha and no one dares speak a word after it. The movement of gamcha on his shoulder signifies apocalypse. It is another matter that once the gamcha movement is over, then rajni is vulnerable and can be shot dead by a tamancha by ranjit.But during the godly moment of gamcha, he is invincible.

Dialogues are rejuvenating and always leave goosebumps in me.a sample scene is when  raveena plays a proud educated city girl and misbehaves with older  anil and anil explains her the dharm of an indian wife – “patni ka dharm hai ki pati ki daasi ban ke seva, kare,maa ke tarah use khilay pilyae”. raveena calls rekha an uneducated women and rekha defends herself saying she is a graduate from alllahabad university (may be referring to amitabh here). It doesnt impress raveena all that much. Eventually Raveena starts respecting thakur family only when she gets a reality check of their bank accounts.Fair enough i suppose.

Shakti kapoor plays the villian and mostly he is semi nude in the film. he wears dhoti in the manner of speedos which looks pretty gross. He is banished from the village as he had raped a SC/ST woman 18 years ago. So in oldboy style, he counts each year by making a mark on his body with hot iron rod.

Like in all south films and in general with such unpretentious and enjoyable cheesy masala films, the senior actors become superheros as they get older. so harish (that small gay south hero of the 90s who debuted with karishma in prem qaidi) who is 20 years younger to shakti is no match for him but anil who is in late 50s has the aglity and strength that can put Micheal Jai white to shame.In the climax scene, during a fight , anil shows he is not just about the brawns. He turns a bullock cart into a maternity ward room .

In the tradition of thakur dynasty,they die only when they want to and same is the case with anil. But raveena has just given birth to a new legacy in the bullock cart turned maternity ward. Younger anil takes over as the next thakur with the bane chants and the legacy continues….

 

 

Full movie here:

#anil-kapoor, #bane, #bulandi, #madrasis-can-be-fun-too, #micheal-jai-white, #rajnikant, #raveena-tandon, #rekha, #shakti-kapoor, #the-dark-knight-rises

“It’s A Wonderful Life” – What a Wonderful Film it is – A Real Classic, A Masterpiece!!!

images (1) I have no idea how to put it into words about my feelings after watching this movie. I have seen many movies based on such topics, sort of inspiring but this is something “real” and I am sure out of those many people who have watched it have done something great in their life as well as life of others. When I checked Wikipedia to know whether it is based on real story, it said “it is based on the short story “The Greatest Gift“, written by Philip Van Doren Stern in 1939, and privately published by the author in 1945.[3] The film is considered one of the most loved films in American cinema, and has become traditional viewing during the Christmas season”. It further says, “The film was nominated for five Oscars and has been recognized by the American Film Institute as one of the 100 best American films ever made,[6]placing number 11 on its initial 1998 greatest movie list, and would also place number one on its list of the most inspirational American films of all time.”

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Scene of the Week: Khuda Kay Liye

Check out this excellent scene from Khuda Kay Liye

Below is a review/recco I had written a couple of years back.

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Recommendations

Piya Ka Ghar

It reminds me of the days of college when my friends were facing difficulty in finding room for privacy (off-course for 😉 ) but never expected those things to happen for a married couple as the family members are matured enough to understand the desire for lovemaking or intercourse. One cannot possibly imagine the everyday life of people living in a small cabin like house unless they have lived such life or if you are Filipino expats.

Film is about Piya ka Milan in Piya ka Ghar hoga ya nahin? Jaya badhuri performed well including the all the other known and unknown actors in the film. Jaya who lives like a queen in her village is married to dhawan who lives in Mumbai – an accountant by her parents without informing jaya’s grandfather as her parents know he won’t let it happen. However when jaya comes to sasura, she gets disappointed looking at the pathetic life her sasural’s living in a Chawl. The house has one kitchen and it is accommodating two 3 couples (jaya – baduri, bhabi and her husband, parents) including a small brother. The new married couple is given the place in kitchen as a bedroom and rest are in living room divided into partitions.


Now whatever they talk could be heard by one and all and giving the circumstances they avoid suhagrat for the first night. Unfortunately this doesn’t end on day one but continues for months. Both have desire to come together and both are bothered with various circumstances. The film is very engaging and entertaining with many tensions inflicting the minds of audience and holds the excitement of audience till the end. 3.5/5

Mithya

When a movie consists of stars like Ranvir Shorey, Vinay Pathak, Nasiruddin Shah and Neha dhupia directed by none other than Rajat Kapoor, the film is bound to be different and thrilling. Mithya is definitely a different film but I won’t say it was thrilling but ends up on tragic note. The story itself was such that it was bound to have unorthodox end.

Ranvir shorey is exceptionally brilliant along with naseerudding shah. The story starts on a usual way but after 15 minutes turns into very interesting and engaging plot. Neha dhupia was also brilliant along with other characters.

Ranvir is an aspiring actor doing small roles or sidekicks for advertisers, directors etc… is abducted by some gangsters and coerced to enact the role of another gangster head that is a look alike of him. He is threatened of serious consequences to him as well as his family if he declined to enact the role. He accepts and get prepares to don the role of a don and gets into the act when the gangster that abducted and trained him kills the real one.

The plot and film was on right track till one unfortunate incident happens, he falls from the floor and loses his memory. Rajat kapoor completely failed to utilize the opportunity what could have been a classic finish or thrilling end but loses out the plot and tries to make out of its own kind. By the end I was not sure whether I was happy with the film of not but I liked the film. 3/5

Moonrise kingdom – 2.5/5 – Won’t recommend for sure but if you have time watch this only of visuals and a kiss scene between the 16yr old couples. Have no idea why it is chosen for Oscar when there are enough and better films than these.

Undisputed 1 – there is nothing much to talk about this movie. Its all about boxing and both are real fighters. But it was entertaining as well 3.5/5

Undisputed 2 – all about marshal arts and fights in the ring. watch only if you are interested in martial arts. 2/5

Undisputed 3 – 2/3 Again the same thing

Never back down 2 – Pathetic – Recommending not to watch

#mithya, #moonrise-kingdom, #piya-ka-ghar, #reccos

Reccos: Junoon

This is a slightly edited version of a review that I wrote a few years ago.
Director: Shyam Benegal
Cast: Shashi Kapoor, Shabana Azmi, Nafisa Ali, Naseeruddin Shah, Jennifer Kendal

Junoon, based on Ruskin Bond’s novel A Flight of Pigeonsis the story of Javed Khan (Shashi Kapoor), a pathan, who is smitten by Ruth (Nafisa Ali), a British girl and his obsession for her. Ruth’s father is killed by Sarfraz Khan (Naseeruddin Shah), an indian revolutionary and brother-in-law of Javed. Ruth, her mother and grandmother are all kidnapped by Javed Khan from a money lender’s home where they had taken refuge. Javed Khan, wants to marry Ruth and take her as a second wife but her mother Mariam opposes the marriage by laying out a condition. The rest of the movie is whether Javed keeps his word or will his obsession get the better of him.

The movie is basically a love story set against the backdrop of the Indian mutiny. It is a movie about relationships between people of different cultures, the prejudice, the hatred, love and obsession. Javed is obsessed with Ruth while Sarfraz is obsessed with driving the British out. Mariam is obsessed with protecting her daughter whereas Firdaus is obsessed with her jealousy and anger towards Ruth and her family.

Some scenes are excellent like the one where Ruth’s father is killed by Sarfraz or the scenes where Firdaus displays her resistance to Javed’s second marriage and her jealousy of Ruth. Some scenes stand out like the scene where Mariam lays out the condition for her daughter’s marriage, the silent war between Javed and Mariam and the scenes where Ruth starts to fall for Javed. The best scene of the movie is the one where Sarfraz attacks the pigeons saying “Hum Dilli Har Gaye” – Sarfraz’s heartfelt lament as to the cause of the loss is just brilliant.

I had posted this scene once on NG as Scene of the Week.

Shashi Kapoor is brilliant whether in his display of obsession or his vulnerability. Shabana Azmi is excellent as the angry jealous wife and her expressions in the final scene are marvelous. Naseeruddin Shah is excellent as the angry revolutionary and Jennifer Kendal is like a tigress in the role of a protective mother. Nafisa Ali looks gorgeous and acts well as the naive young girl and Ismat Chughtai, the famous author, acts well as the grandmother of Ruth. The performances by the rest of the supporting cast are good too.

Shyam Benegal’s direction is brilliant. Almost every scene is a gem. This is definitely one of his best movies and one of the best literary adaptations ever made in India. Dialogues by Pandit Satyadev Dubey and Ismat Chughtai are excellent. Cinematography by Govind Nihalani is excellent. Being a period film, the havelis and the costumes are very authentic. The song “Ishq Ne Todi Sar Pe Qayamat” sung by Mohammad Rafi is very good and picturized very well too. The movie won the Filmfare Awards for Best Film and Best Director for Shyam Benegal. It’s a classic not to be missed.

Rating: 4.5 / 5 (Brilliant).

The movie won the following awards according to wikipedia.

1979 National Film Awards awards

Best Feature Film in Hindi – Shashi Kapoor
Best Cinematography – Govind Nihalani
Best Audiography – Hitendra Ghosh

1980 Filmfare Awards awards

Best Film – Shashi Kapoor
Best Director- Shyam Benegal
Best Dialogues – Pandit Satyadev Dubey
Best Editing – Bhanudas Divakar
Best Cinematography – Govind Nihalani
Best Sound Recording – Hitendra Ghosh

#filmfare-awards, #govind-nihalani, #ismat-chughtai, #jennifer-kendal, #junoon, #member-reviews, #mohammad-rafi, #nafisa-ali, #naseeruddin-shah, #national-awards, #reccos, #reviews, #shabana-azmi, #shashi-kapoor, #shyam-benegal

Reccos: The Butterfly Effect

This review was written by me a few years ago.
Director: Eric Bress and J. Mackye Gruber
Cast: Ashton Kutcher, Amy Smart, Melora Walters, Elden Henson, William Lee Scott, Eric Stoltz

The Butterfly Effect starts off with the saying that “something as small as the flutter of a butterfly’s wings can ultimately cause a typhoon halfway around the world. – Chaos Theory”. Evan Treborn (Ashton Kutcher), blacks out frequently at moments of high stress during his childhood. While reading his adolescent journals, he finds out that he can travel back in time and alter parts of his past. When Kayleigh (Amy Smart), his childhood friend kills herself, Evan decides to change the past hoping to save her but finds out that the changes he makes have unintended horrible consequences. He continues to alter the past trying to fix everything. Will he finally be able to make everything perfect is what the rest of the movie is about.

Some of the scenes are brilliant like the one where Evan first finds out his power or the one where Evan is seen holding a knife or the one with Evan and his father (Callum Keith Rennie). Some scenes may be shocking or disturbing like the one where Kayleigh’s father (Eric Stoltz) is making a movie with the kids in the basement. The Scenes where Evan is an amputee or the scenes where Kayleigh is a prostitute or the scene with the fortune teller are pretty good. Its however the final scene in the director’s cut that is the best scene of all.

Ashton Kutcher does a decent job as Evan Treborn and this is a big departure for him from the regular dumb roles that he does. But one can’t help wonder if a more talented actor would have excelled in this role. To his credit, he is the executive producer of the movie and is a major reason for the movie being made. Amy Smart as Kayleigh, Elden Henson as Lenny, William Lee Scott as Tommy are all very good as they have to play different versions of themselves with completely different personalities and back stories. Melora Walters, Callum Keith Rennie and Eric Stoltz and the actors who play the younger versions of the lead characters are all very good.

Matthew F. Leonetti’s cinematography is excellent. The music by Michael Suby during Evan’s journal reading scenes is done brilliantly. Peter Amundson’s editing is excellent amidst all the traveling back and forth. Direction by Eric Bress and J. Mackye Gruber is excellent for the movie keeps you continuously engrossed and it’s very difficult to predict the next scene. The Butterfly Effect is part thriller, part science fiction based on the Chaos theory and there is a good philosophical explanation and a message of how playing God can be even more disastrous.

The movie is pretty disturbing and may not be everyone’s cup of tea and is recommended only for those who can stomach disturbing stuff. There are different endings to the movie but the best is the Director’s cut. The theatrical ending is tame and looks like more of a compromise to ensure that most of the audiences are happy. The ending in the Director’s cut is very disturbing but it leads to the realization as to who the root cause of all the problems is and the extreme step that Evan has to take to make everything perfect. If you have ever wondered ‘What if I had done this/What if I hadn’t done this’ then this movie is definitely for you.

Rating: 4 / 5 (Brilliant).

#amy-smart, #ashton-kutcher, #elden-henson, #eric-bress, #eric-stoltz, #j-mackye-gruber, #melora-walters, #member-reviews, #reccos, #reviews, #the-butterfly-effect, #william-lee-scott

Reccos: Lage Raho Munna Bhai

This review was written by me a few years ago.
Director: Rajkumar Hirani
Cast: Sanjay Dutt, Vidya Balan, Arshad Warsi, Dilip Prabhavalkar, Boman Irani

Lage Raho Munna Bhai is the second movie in the Munnabhai series. Though the lead characters are the same the story does not follow the first one and hence is not technically a sequel. Munna (Sanjay Dutt), a lovable goon pretends to be a Professor to win the heart of a beautiful radio anchor – Jhanvi (Vidya Balan). But as he reads more and more about Mahatma Gandhi to keep up his deception, he begins to hallucinate that he can see Mahatma Gandhi. He starts practicing Mahatma Gandhi’s teachings as ‘Gandhigiri’ with hilarious results.

The scene in the toilet (vinamrata se), the first meeting with Jhanvi, the college scene, the paan spitting scenes, the old man getting back at the corrupt bureaucrat, Circuit talking to Gandhiji, Munna’s response after the goon slaps him twice and Munna and Circuit’s scenes in jail are all excellent. Screenplay and dialogues by RajKumar Hirani and Abhijat Joshi are excellent. The movie is filled with some of the best one liners in Hindi cinema.

Music by Shantanu Moitra is pretty good though they ripped off the song ‘Pal Pal’ from the Cliff Richard’s song ‘Theme for a dream’. The songs ‘Lage Raho Munna Bhai’, ‘Samjho ho hi gaya’ and ‘Pal Pal’ are all beautifully picturized and choreographed. Cinematography by C.K. Muraleedharan is very good.

Sanjay Dutt gives an excellent performance as Munna. He is fantastic in every scene whether he is angry and frustrated at the present day state of India, wooing Jhanvi or having a blast with Circuit. Arshad Warsi is excellent as Circuit with his great one liners and is the life of the Munnabhai series. Dilip Prabhavalkar gives a great performance as Mahatma Gandhi and deservedly won the National Award for Best Supporting Actor. Boman is ok but his performance is not as good as in Munnabhai M.B.B.S. Saurabh Shukla is good and Vidya Balan gives a decent performance. Diya, Jimmy and the rest of the cast are ok.

The movie has a message but it is not didactic or boring. Rajkumar Hirani’s direction is excellent and he uses comedy to get his message across. The movie does suffer a bit in the middle and the scenes involving Jimmy Sheirgill and Diya Mirza are a bit melodramatic. But just when you think the movie is getting bogged down there is a funny scene or a dialogue and it gets better. An emotional scene is followed by a comic scene and vice-versa.

Lage Raho Munna Bhai won the National Awards for Best Popular Film providing wholesome entertainment, Best Screenplay (Abhijat Joshi, Rajkumar Hirani and Vidhu Vinod Chopra), Best Supporting Actor (Dilip Prabhavalkar) and Best Lyrics (Swanand Kirkire). The movie won Filmfare Awards for Best Movie (Critics), Best Story (Rajkumar Hirani), Best Dialogue (Rajkumar Hirani and Abhijat Joshi) and Best Performance in a Comic Role (Arshad Warsi)

Lage Raho Munna Bhai is one of the best Hindi movies in recent times. What’s more is that it is an original film and not inspired by any other movie. It’s a clean family entertainer with a message. Just when everyone thought that Mahatma Gandhi had lost relevance in today’s world the movie shows that his principles and methods still work. The movie inspired Gandhigiri style protests which worked and this itself is the movie’s greatest contribution.

Rating: 4 / 5 (Brilliant)

#arshad-warsi, #boman-irani, #dilip-prabhavalkar, #lage-raho-munna-bhai, #rajkumar-hirani, #reccos, #sanjay-dutt, #vidya-balan

Reccos: The Artist

Director: Michel Hazanavicius
Cast: Jean Dujardin, Bérénice Bejo, James Cromwell, John Goodman

George Valentin (Jean Dujardin) is a matinee idol in Hollywood before the dawn of talkies. His marriage is far from perfect, and one day he meets ambitious chorus girl Peppy Miller (Bérénice Bejo) and is smitten. Sound comes to movies, but he ridicules it. While everyone moves on to talkies he thinks its just a fad. George proclaims that people love him and come to see him and he sinks all his money into an epic silent film, while Peppy becomes a star in the new era.

The very first scene where George Valentin is enjoying all the attention showered on him shows how narcissistic he is. Some scenes stand out like the one where he puts on a show for the press when a fan Peppy Miller (Bérénice Bejo) is pushed into him or the scene where he gives her a part despite the studio boss’s objections (John Goodman) or the one where Peppy Miller is playacting with George Valentin’s dress. Some scenes are very good like the one where George Valentin fires his valet Clifton (James Cromwell) or the one where he looks at himself in the glass window of a dress shop or the one where he tries to burn his movie canisters. The best scene is the one where Peppy Miller makes a comment about silent movies that it is just “mugging it up for the cameras” and that the old have to make way for the young.

Cinematography by Guillaume Schiffman is excellent. The movie was actually shot in color and then monochromed in the lab. Art Direction by Laurence Bennett, Robert Gould is just brilliant and it looks like one is watching a silent film from the 1900s. The Artist should win the Oscars for Best Cinematography and Best Art Direction too but it might lose to Hugo in these two categories. Music by Ludovic Bource is excellent and the theme music of Vertigo is used in one scene. Editing by Anne-Sophie Bion and Michel Hazanavicius is pretty good except that the movies drags just a bit in the second half and some scenes seem repetitive. Costume Design by Mark Bridges is spot on with the time period.

Jean Dujardin is just brilliant as George Valentin. He shows that one can convey emotions without even uttering a single word. He has already been nominated for an Oscar for Best Actor for his performance and he should win the award. Bérénice Bejo is excellent as Peppy Miller and has been nominated inexplicably in the Best Supporting Actress category though she is the main female lead. John Goodman and James Cromwell are excellent too.

Screenplay by Michel Hazanavicius is excellent and he pays homage to the silent movies and also the movie Singing in the Rain. The movie is basically a tale of one man’s hubris and how he cannot change with the times. The Artist has been nominated for ten Oscars including Best Picture. It should go on to win the Best Picture Oscar and Michel Hazanavicius should win the Oscar for Best Directing. It is the best movie of the year 2011 without a doubt. The Artist proves that one does not need color, dialogues (except for the last line) or some silly VFX to make an entertaining, endearing movie. This a movie for everyone who loves movies and shows how pleasurable even a silent movie can be.

Rating: 4 / 5 (Brilliant).

#anne-sophie-bion, #berenice-bejo, #guillaume-schiffman, #james-cromwell, #jean-dujardin, #john-goodman, #laurence-bennett, #ludovic-bource, #mark-bridges, #member-reviews, #michel-hazanavicius, #oscar, #reccos, #robert-gould, #the-artist

Reccos: Garm Hava

This review was written by me a few years ago.
Director: M.S Sathyu
Cast: Balraj Sahni, Gita Siddharth, Jalal Agha, Farooque Shaikh, A K Hangal, Jamal Hashmi

Garm Hava, based on an unpublished short story by Ismat Chugtai, is one of the finest movies ever made in India. It deals with the trials and tribulations of an Indian Muslim family during the post partition years. Salim Mirza (Balraj Sahni), an ever optimistic businessman, has to face a lot of difficulties, trying to keep his shoemaking business afloat in the wake of all the distrust and angst caused by partition. His relatives and family members start migrating to Pakistan. His ancestral house is taken over by the custodian, his young daughter’s fiance is arrested and deported to Pakistan and his son cannot find a job and is told to migrate to Pakistan. He clings on to hope that things will get better but a personal tragedy and all the humiliation meted out to him deal a final death blow to his optimism. Will he too move to Pakistan or stay back and fight it out is what the movie is about.

Some of the scenes remain in your mind long after watching the movie like the scene which shows Salim’s elder brother giving a speech in a rally that “even if all muslims leave India he would still be in India” and the scene immediately after that or the scene where Salim Mirza’s mother does not want to leave the haveli and hides in a woodshed or the scene where her whole life revolves before her eyes just before her death or the scene where Amina(Gita Siddharth) finally gives in to Jamal Agha’s protestations of love or the scene where Amina finds out that Shamshad (Jamal Agha) is getting married to another girl. The only thing a little unsettling for the average audience would be the abstract ending.

Balraj Sahni is brilliant as Salim Mirza. This is arguably his best performance. He captures the resilience, optimism and the never give up spirit so well. Gita Siddharth is brilliant as the daughter on whom circumstances play a cruel joke. Jalal Agha, Farooque Shaikh, A K Hangal, Dinanath Zutshi and Jamal Hashmi all deliver very good performances.

Kaifi Azmi has adapted the story well. His dialogues and the couplets like “Gita ki na koi sunta na Quran ki sunta… (No one heeds the Gita, no one heeds the Koran)” are very good. There are no songs except for one qawwali by Ustad Bahadur Khan, beautifully shot at the Tomb of Salim Chishti. The Taj Mahal scenes are very beautiful too.

M S Sathyu’s direction is brilliant. He wonderfully captures the Muslim culture. The scenes where Balraj and Farooque Shaikh talk into a camera are brilliantly done. The film is filled with one heart wrenching scene after another. The movie shows how an average family is affected by a big thing like partition.

This film was nominated for the Golden Palm Award at the Cannes Film Festival, 1974. It won the Filmfare Awards for Best Dialogue (Kaifi Azmi), Best Screenplay (Kaifi Azmi & Shama Zaidi) and Best Story (Ismat Chugtai & Kaifi Azmi). It also won the National Award for the best film on National Integration (1974) and was India’s official entry for the Oscars. Garm Hava is the best movie dealing with the aftermath of partition and is a movie that every Indian and Pakistani should watch.

Rating: 4.5 / 5 (Brilliant)

#a-k-hangal, #balraj-sahni, #cannes, #farooque-shaikh, #filmfare-award, #garm-hava, #gita-siddharth, #jalal-agha, #jamal-hashmi, #m-s-sathyu, #member-reviews, #reccos, #reviews

Reccos: Andaz Apna Apna

This is a slightly edited version of something I wrote in June 2009.
Director: Rajkumar Santoshi
Cast: Aamir Khan, Salman Khan, Raveena Tandon, Karishma Kapoor, Paresh Rawal

Andaz Apna Apna is the story of two wastrels Amar (Aamir) and Prem (Salman), whose only aim in life is to get rich by marrying a rich girl. They both fall for Raveena, an NRI from London who comes to India to get married. The rest of the movie is about how they try to outsmart each other in their attempts to woo her. The movie did not do well when it released as many people thought that it was a silly movie with no story but over the years it has acquired a cult following. The movie is full of gags and all kinds of humor – funny, silly, subtle, toilet, slapstick. The movie doesn’t have a serious plot and is not meant to be taken seriously. It’s the kind of movie where you don’t have to use your brains and can just have a blast laughing your guts out.

The movie is hilarious from the very first scene to the last. Aamir’s scenes with Juhi Chawla and Govinda, the scenes between Aamir and his father, the scenes where Aamir and Salman are trying to outsmart each other, the scene where Salman tries to tell his feelings to Raveena, the scene where Aamir talks about the football match, the scene where Amar and Prem meet Raveena’s dad, the scene where Aamir and Salman try to rescue Raveena’s father, the scenes where the gun ends up with Salman first and then Aamir, Salman trying to copy Aamir’s stunt with the rope – its just a nonstop laugh riot.

Dialogues by Rajkumar Santoshi and Dilip Shukla are excellent and the movie has some of the funniest lines you will ever come across. Sample these. “Main Tumhe apne Tan Man aur Dhan Se Sweekar Karta Hoon”, “Main betiyon ku chudiyan pahna raha hoo, aur aap maaokon chudiyan pahna rahe hain”, “Seeta Aur Geeta nahin, Ram aur Shyam”, “Sholay dekhi hai?” “Haan haan, dus baar!” “Iske baap ne likhi hai?” which is actually true as Salman’s father Salim Khan did write Sholay along with Javed Akhtar, “Tum bade woh ho. Woh kya? Arre wahi naa. Accha woh. Woh to mein hun hi”, “Saala waise hi, kitni musibat hai, Raveena kaun, Karishma kaun, us musibat se nikle nahi ki ek nayi musibat, Uncle Kaun?”, “Uncle aap ko ghalat faimi hui hai. Asli Uncle aap hi hai”, “50 Lakh kahaan se laayenge hum? Aapka plan hi galat hai. Aapne Baap ko kidnap kiya aur beti se paise maange. Aapko Beti ko kidnap karna chaahiye tha aur Baap se paise mangne chahiye the. Lagta hai Kachcha Khiladi Hai!”, “Main teja hoon kyunki mera naam bhi teja hai”, “Aap Purush Hi Nahin Hai… MahaPurush Hai”

The music by Tushar Bhatia sounds like that of old songs of O P Nayyar from the 50s and the 60s. Lyrics by Majrooh Sultanpuri are good. The songs ‘Do Mastane’, ‘Dil Karta Hai’, ‘Ye Raat Aur Ye Doori’ and ‘Ello Ji Sanam Hum Aa Gaye’ are all pretty good.

Aamir gets the best lines and is excellent as the oversmart Amar. Though he overacts in a couple of scenes he completely steals the show. Salman is good as the slow witted Prem but he is not in his element and his hairstyle keeps changing as the movie was delayed a lot. Raveena is ok in the role of a dumb bimbo. Karishma is ok in the role of Raveena’s assistant. She has the horrible hairstyle which she used to have before she had the whole Manish Malhotra makeover. Paresh Rawal is brilliant both as Ram Gopal Bajaj and Teja. Mehmood reprises his role of a director of ‘Wah Wah Productions’ from ‘Pyar Kiye Ja’. Deven Verma is good as Aamir’s father. Javed Khan as Anand Akela, Viju Khote as Robert and Shehzad Khan as Bhalla are very good. Jagdeep is a bit annoying in his ‘Soorma Bhopali’ role and so is Shakti Kapoor with his silly antics as Goga. Juhi Chawla, Govinda are hilarious in their special appearances.

Rajkumar Santoshi’s direction is excellent and this came after his serious fare like Ghayal and Damini. He spoofs every thing from twins to amnesia to Mogambo to Rajnikanth. It’s definitely a movie which has a terrific repeat value and can be enjoyed more if you watch it with friends. The movie kind of drags a bit at the end but it is definitely one of the best comedies ever made in India.

Rating: 4 / 5 (Brilliant)

#aamir-khan, #andaz-apna-apna, #deven-verma, #karishma-kapoor, #mehmood, #member-reviews, #paresh-rawal, #rajkumar-santoshi, #raveena-tandon, #reccos, #reviews, #salman-khan

Reccos: Memento

This was written by me in May 2009.

Director: Christopher Nolan
Cast: Guy Pearce, Carrie-Anne Moss, Joe Pantoliano

Memento is a psychological thriller that has Leonard Shelby (Guy Pearce), a former insurance fraud investigator searching for a man who he believes raped and killed his wife during a burglary attack. He gets hit on the head during the attack and as a result suffers from anterograde amnesia and cannot remember anything for more than 15-20 minutes. He takes polaroid pictures and writes down notes and tattoos important facts. He is aided in his investigation by Teddy (Joe Pantoliano) and Natalie (Carrie-Anne Moss). The movie is based on a short story written by Christopher Nolan’s brother Jonathan Nolan.

The movie has alternate black & white scenes which move forward and alternate color scenes which run in reverse chronological order. As each scene begins, Leonard has just lost his recent memories, leaving him unaware of where he is or what he was doing. The scene ends just after its events fade from his memory. By reversing the order, the viewer is unaware of the preceding events, just like Leonard. The final black & white scene turns into color halfway through the scene. It’s like converging from the front and back to the same point. The climax is just genius and you have to listen to the dialogues very attentively as therein lies the whole turning point of the movie. It’s when you see this you realize why the movie needed those scenes to be in reverse order. Watching Memento is like watching a puzzle unravel. Yes, it takes some cinematic liberties and leaves some things unanswered, yet it’s a cinematic masterpiece recommended for every one.

Some scenes are brilliant like the one where we find out that the motel manager is renting two rooms to Leonard, the scene where Natalie manipulates Leonard by hiding all the pens, the scene where Leonard is in the middle of a chase and assumes that he’s chasing the other guy until he is shot at, the scene where Leonard after beating Dodd asks “Who did this to you?”, all scenes involving Sammy and the final scene

Guy Pearce is brilliant as Leonard Shelby. He conveys the confusion, despair, anger and sadness of a memory loss patient seeking vengeance excellently. Its a shame that he was not even nominated for an Oscar for such a brilliant performance. Joe Pantoliano and Carrie-Anne Moss are excellent too. The screenplay by Christopher Nolan is excellent and the editing is brilliant. The movie was nominated for Oscars for Best Original Screenplay and Best Editing.

It has marvelous dialogues like “How am I supposed to heal if I can’t feel time?”, “My wife deserves vengeance whether I remember it or not.”, “Memory can change the shape of a room; it can change the color of a car. And memories can be distorted. They’re just an interpretation, they’re not a record, and they’re irrelevant if you have the facts.” and “I have to believe in a world outside my own mind. I have to believe that my actions still have meaning, even if I can’t remember them. I have to believe that when my eyes are closed, the world’s still there. Do I believe the world’s still there? Is it still out there?… Yeah. We all need mirrors to remind ourselves who we are. I’m no different.”

The background music and the editing is excellent. Christopher Nolan’s direction is excellent and it is shameful that the Academy decided to ignore him and the movie in favor of some very undeserving movies like Moulin Rouge, In the Bedroom and Lord of the Rings II. Reverse chronological order has been used in movies and even in an episode of Seinfeld before but this is the best use of it as it puts the viewer in the same state of confusion as the protagonist. The director deliberately leaves some things unanswered which may leave some viewers confused.

Memento is definitely one of the best movies of all time and is arguably the best psychological thriller of all time and one of the best movies in the genre of film noir. Its a must see movie.

Rating: 4.5 / 5 (Brilliant)

#carrie-anne-moss, #christopher-nolan, #guy-pearce, #joe-pantoliano, #jonathan-nolan, #member-reviews, #memento, #reccos, #reviews

Reccos: Saaheb

This was written by me in September 2011.

Director: Anil Ganguly
Cast: Anil Kapoor, Amrita Singh, Utpal Dutt, Rakhee, Biswajeet, Dilip Dhawan, Vijay Arora

Badri Prasad Sharma (Utpal Dutt) lives with his four sons and a daughter, Geeta aka Bultie. Only the youngest son, Sunil aka Saaheb (Anil Kapoor) and Geeta are unmarried. Badri Prasad expects that his three working sons will come up with the money for Geeta’s marriage but is disappointed when two of them make excuses. When he decides to mortgage his house Saaheb appears with the money required by the family. Most of them assume he stole it but they then find out how the uneducated and unemployed loser Saaheb made the ultimate sacrifice for his loved ones.

The movie is full of heart touching scenes like Badri Prasad fearing that Saaheb’s elder brothers would kick him out once he is dead or Saaheb being used for daily errands by family members who ridicule him or Saaheb stealing the newspaper ad that his father saved or Bultie’s break down scene or Saaheb’s meeting with the business man and Badri Prasad being rejected by the business man. The scenes between Saaheb and his Bhabhi (Rakhee) show a mother-son bonding between them and the brother-sister relationship between the youngest two is very nicely portrayed. The love track between Saaheb and Amrita with the silly ched-chad annoys a bit. The wedding cards not being printed till a day before the wedding seems a bit ridiculous.

Story by Ranjan Roy is excellent and screenplay by Sachin Bhowmick is very good. The movie makes fun of Sachin Bhowmick himself when Deven Verma’s character comments that Sachin Bhowmick writes clichéd stories. Dialogues by Madan Joshi are very natural. The goal keeper metaphor in the movie is very apt and Badri Prasad lamenting to his daughter-in-law that while the whole team runs with the ball Saaheb stands at the goal post doing nothing is the best.

Music by Bappi Lahiri is very good in a few songs. The song ‘Yaar Bina Chain Kahan Re’ sung by S Janaki and Bappi Lahiri is very good and choreographed pretty well. The song ‘Kya Khabar Kya Pata’ sung brilliantly by Kishore Kumar is excellent with some great lyrics by Anjaan. ‘Chalte Chale’ is excellently picturized showing Saaheb’s simple middle class dreams. ‘Tuku Tuku Pyar Karoongi’ is annoying.

Anil Kapoor gives a very natural performance as Saaheb. This is one of his best performances. He is exceptional in the emotional scenes especially the scene where his father thinks that he stole the money. Utpal Dutt is brilliant as the caring father and portrays the helplessness and frustration brilliantly. Rakhee delivers a very good performance as Saaheb’s Bhabhi. She is nothing like her later performances in mother roles where she is so annoying. Amrita Singh is ok in a loud role. Biswajeet is good as the nicer elder brother. The girl who plays Bultie is decent. Deven Verma, who plays a writer who steals from Hollywood movies provides some silly comedy. Dilip Dhawan, Vijay Arora and the rest of the cast are ok.

Anil Ganguly’s direction is excellent. He captures the middle class and its problems very nicely. Though the story of a middle class family, its problems and the elder brothers being selfish may now seem clichéd it was very apt for its times. The movie never becomes over melodramatic or loud like the usual family sagas. People from middle class or those who have a sister will probably identify more with the movie and the climax may leave a lump in their throat or cause them to tear up. The climax is excellent and the way Saaheb sacrifices the thing that he loves most for his loved ones delivers a beautiful and poignant message. Technically or visually it might not be appealing but Saaheb is a must see movie for its pure soul.

Rating: 4 / 5 (Brilliant)

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Reccos: Shatranj Ke Khilari

This was written by me in May 2009.

Director: Satyajit Ray
Cast: Sanjeev Kumar, Shabana Azmi, Saeed Jaffrey, Farida Jalal, Amjad Khan, Victor Bannerjee, Sir Richard Attenborough, Tom Alter, Farooque Shaikh

Shatranj Ke Khilari, based on Munshi Premchand’s short story of the same name is about two friends Mirza Sajjad Ali (Sanjeev Kumar) and Mir Roshan Ali (Saeed Jaffrey), who are so obsessed with the game of chess that they neglect their wives and are indifferent to the kingdom of Awadh being seized by the East India Company. The ruler of Awadh, Wajid Ali Shah (Amjad Khan) is more into singing, dancing and poetry than administering the Kingdom of Awadh and the British General Outram (Sir Richard Attenborough) uses this as an excuse to seize the kingdom.

The movie takes digs at the Nawabi culture – how the Nawabs were more into playing games of make believe wars (chess) rather than fighting actual wars. The movie shows how the King was more into art and poetry rather than ruling and defending the Kingdom and how the king was resigned to his fate. The movie also shows how the Kingdom of Awadh was annexed without a fight.

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