Thursday, July 30, 2009

Luck - Review */5

Bad Hindi films hardly perturb me these days – I have started taking them with a pinch of salt. But if you make a film estimating the audience to be absolute morons, you are in for trouble.

Soham Shah made his foray into direction with the much-hyped ‘Kaal’. His claim to fame was that he had worked under RGV and Karan Johar, two filmmakers as contrasting as chalk and cheese. However, it appears he has picked up the negatives from both of them.

The problems that plague “Luck” are too many to mention here and I will mention the two most glaring among them.

1. The film’s target audience is those with IQ levels below 50. With utter disregard for logic, Shah picks up threads of inspiration from ‘The Condemned’ and “13 Tzamti” and stirs it into a bad, tasteless film.
Sanjay Dutt plays a gangster (yawwwwn!!) who bets on the lucks of human beings. He picks up people from around the world to participate in a contest where they have to perform daredevil stunts with people placing bets on them. Not surprisingly, 6 of the ten people are from India!

Cliches that existed in the Stone Age are repeated here. Ailing wife, sobbing mother, revenge, you name it.

2. The dialogues: You might not believe me, but there is not one, and I mean ONE instance where the characters talk normally. They all dish out shayris for lines and the dialogues are without doubt the worst in recent times. I’d be surprised if Sonam Shah finds any more work as a dialogue writer after this film. Not to forget the irritating “Aazma Luck aazma” score running in the background throughout.

The performances are uninspired. Only Ravi Kishen seems bearable, but that’s only because he looks completely natural as a jerk. Imran Khan cant rise beyond the flaws and Shruti Hasan is very, very bad in the acting department.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Being ordinary is extra-ordinary in itself..

Me and Twinkle were sitting in the library. There was a woman who used to come regularly to the library. She would sit in the junior room and help the children to read, colour and paint. We were sitting in the office room and preparing a poster for the Summer Camp. She offered to help us prepare the poster and we started talking.

She said that she was waiting for her son to finish his classes. Ironically, right next to Bakul Children’s Library, there is a ‘Brain Institute’ where children are taught new, path breaking techniques on how to cram. Needless to say, more children attend the cramming-coaching than come to the library!

She started talking to us about her son. Apparently, he was a prodigy. He was the top ranker in his class and scored the maximum marks in every exam. He was also gifted with artistic skills. He painted and had won many prizes at different levels. She then took out from her bag some photographs of her his son with the Chief Minister, the Governor and many other dignitaries. He had had his first solo exhibition at the age of 6 and continues to paint!

I marveled at the exposure that today’s kids got and couldn’t help wondering what I had done as a 6 year old.

We got talking some more and it was all about her son. “Does he get time for studies?”
“Yes, he is the 1st ranker in his class.”
“Does he have any other talents?”
“Yes. He is a singer. He was selected for and participated in “Little Champs”. He can also dance…”

We continued working on the poster and the kid arrived after his class was over.

He was surprisingly young, all of 8 years old. But he didn’t have the mannerisms of a child. He did not smile, or fumble, or goof up. He walked in and picked up a few books. He knew what to do. For some reason, he seemed much older than an 8 year old.

We went to the other room where he had found a book that he liked and was browsing through it. When his mother introduced us to him, he promptly stood up, did a ‘namaskar’ and bent down to touch our feet! Embarrassed as we were, we said it wasn’t necessary. The kid did not seem very interested in us but it looked like he had no option.

“Sing a song for bhai….”
“I want to colour..”
“Just one song, come on song”

The boy started singing an Oriya bhajan, and did it beautifully. After he was done with the song, he sat down.

“Sing a Hindi song also, na…”
The boy hesitantly began singing “Pal pal dil ke paas…”.

But his mom wasn’t done yet. “Now sing a modern song..”
Maa, later…”

Twinkle and me were starting to get uncomfortable. “It’s alright, aunty”, we said.
“No, no…he will sing. You will, won’t you, beta?”.
He began singing “Kal ho na ho..”

Hoping he didn’t have any other talents, we quickly said goodbye and left.

On my way back, I wondered how that little kid would be spending his childhood.How many people's feet he touched everyday and how many songs he sang for them? Did he play cricket with his friends in the evenings? Did he read comics? I was glad that my childhood was extremely ordinary. As a child, I had Chacha Chaudhry, Mithun, Mogli and Sachin Tendulkar. I wondered who the kid had…..

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Review: New York * *

Director Kabir Khan's first venture, 'Kabul Express' was quite an interesting watch. He had cleverly blended the documentary style with commercial elements. It had its flaws but it was quite watchable. However, in his second outing, Khan chooses a wider canvas - 9/11 and its impact on Muslims.

Omar (Neil Nitin Mukesh) is asked to spy on his former college friend, Sam (John Abraham) because an FBI officer (Irrfan Khan) is convinced that he is involved in terrorist activities. Neil agrees to it hesitantly, but more to prove him wrong. Sam is married to Maya (Katrina) who was Neil's college crush. He discovers there is more to Sam than meets the eye. You might want to watch the movie to know what happens next.

What works for New York is that it has its heart in the right place. Khan wastes no time to setting up the mood of the film. Supposedly based on actual research, Khan keeps the plot clean from any sub-plots, item numbers, or gimmicks- something that is common in Bollywood these days. But since it is after all a Yashraj film, you have the usual slow-mo of the heroine, the flowers falling from the trees, and the songs in the background.

However, there are large gaping holes of logic in the film. If the FBI has sufficient proof on Sam, why are they willing to wait and watch out for his next move? If Maya works for Human Rights of immigrants, how can she let her hubby blow away thousands of innocent people just because she is waiting for him to "come back to the right path"? If you can ignore these follies, you might find the film somewhat engrossing.

Now the performances. The backbone of the film obviously is Irrfan Khan. He manages to make his role convincing. Neil Nitin Mukesh does a competent job. However, it is the acting of the lead pair Abraham and Kaif that disappoint. You cannot sympathise with the characters because they hardly make you believe it. While Kaif gets to do something different from her usual mad-cap comedy capers, it is John Abraham who disappoints. In what is an author-written role that could have made the difference between an okay and good film, John doesn't deliver the goods. His acting skills have graduated from wooden to plastic and it is a serious dampener in the film.