Tuesday, January 30, 2007

There are so many things to write about but at this very moment in life my hands are tied. I cannot get myself to type anything more than regular e-mails. I hope this phase in life will pass me by and that I will get rejuvenated to write more things in this space.

Ya, my life sucks right now...when it is up and bright I will be back to write!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Guru (2006) - Hindi Movie Review

Ranking: 3/5

Cast: Abhishek Bachan, Aishwarya Rai, Mithun, Madhavan, Vidya Balan
Director: Mani Ratnam
Music: A.R. Rahman

Where do I start? Okay let me first sequentialise my thought process...Way too many things that I feel like putting down in this space but at the same time I want to keep it simple and clear...

1) Mani Ratnam
2) The story
3) Acting
4) Direction

There I have it now...So let me start with my first topic...

Mani Ratnam: I have grown up enjoying Mani movies right from Pagal Nilavu to Bombay. Suddenly after he became this International director his story lines shifted from simple family stories narrated with beautiful scripts became lavish movies directed in more than one language. This movie Guru also falls in the category of Mani trying to keep pushing his bloated ego where he thinks people will watch whatever he directs. It did not work with Dil Se and Kannathil Muthamittal and neither did it with Guru.

The Story: There is a huge disclaimer at the very beginning of the story that redeems the movie of any relation to anyone living or dead...so believing that it has nothing to do with Mr. Ambani or Mr. Goenka...it is just a story that Mani himself came up with...So lets see how brilliant and convincing Mani is...

Gurukant Desai (Abhi) is a young lad who goes to Turkey to make some money from a small village called Idhar in Gujrat much against his father's wishes. After a few years of making money working for Shell gas company Guru comes back to India to make it out on his own. Of course his father is against it and Guru does not have enough capital. To solve this problem he decides to marry his best friend's sister who is unwed due to her "tried-to-elope" status. She came with a Rs. 25,000 dowry which would adequately meet Guru's business needs. Guru along with Sujatha (Aish) and her brother Jignesh (??) move to Bombay to start business.

After fighting many hardships and with the help of Nanaji (Mithun Da) Guru makes it big. Guru is the textile barron now and he has many textile mills running helping thousands people. He also makes his company public and people revel in the success of his industry. Everyone knows that Guru is not stepping up the ladder in the fast pace using honest means and when his mentor Nanaji hears about it he does not want to cut his protege any slack. He grooms Shyam Saxena as the heir to his media empire and also tells him to bring down Guru by exposing his misdeeds. Shyam hot on the tracks of Guru manages to do just the same using the newsprint media as his help.

Guru looses the trust of his investors. People blame him for loss of money and life and Guru gravely upset succumbs to a heart attack. With the love and care of his wife Sujatha, Guru slowly fights back only to realize that he has been summoned in front of a special panel of judges to decide what punishment Guru will be meted with. Guru gives a supposedly five minute speech and walks out of the room free...

Acting: Abhishek seems to be the director's actor. Has done a decent job and no complaints about it at all. Mithun though is brilliant in the movie. You can see the years of experience that is not visible in most of the movies cast. Aishwarya should stop acting. She has lost so much weight that she looks gaunt and has lost the charisma. Also, I always never thought she could act and she has not improved for sure. Madhavan surely looks handsome having lost some weight and he is also the director's boy and no complaints about him either. Vidya Balan is wasted in the movie and one wonders how her character affects the story at all.

Direction: Mani has always used the old locomotive train in all his period flick, its like he has some discount to use it.

He is not at all creative when it comes to directing videos. He needs to learn from Shankar. The video for Barso Re reminds you of Chinna Chinna Aasai from Roja and some of the videos are not even worth mentioning. Also what is the deal with the song Ek Lo Ek Muft by Bappi Lahiri? First it is inserted at a time when the movie has already lost its pace and then it is also badly choreographed and sung as well.

The promise in the first half of the movie that the story makes is not fulfilled in the second half. A lot of dialogues are redundant and incomplete. Also the final supposedly five minute punch line of the movie runs into more than six minute and is not at all convincing about why Guru should go free. He should have made the dialogue writers work harder.

The movie in terms of direction is an utter disaster. Mani should stop making formula movies and do something sensible like "Mouna Ragam" or "Agni Natchathiram."

Final Verdict: This movie is an attempt to deliver something old in a new platter. The serving is not only cold but also tasteless. There are many scenes which are incoherent or irrelevant. I hope that we can expect something better than this from Mani. God knows if even Dhirubhai is happy with his life portrayed through Guru!

Monday, January 22, 2007

Veyil (2007) - Tamil Movie Review

Ranking: 4/5

Cast: Bharath, Bhavna, Shreya Reddy, Pasupathi
Director: Vasantha Balan
Music: G.V. Prakash

The story is set in a small town in a family of two young boys raised by their butcher dad and home maker mom. The father keeps a tight rein on the growth of his children and the children keep finding loop holes to get out the grips of their father. The younger son Kathir (Bharath) is the naughtier of the two and constantly keeps escaping from his father's lashes owing to his smartness. While the elder brother Murugesan (Pasupathy) is the silent but naughty guy always keeps getting into trouble.

On one such occasion the angry father catches the sun bunking classes to watch MGR movies in a local theater while smoking with his friends. Murugesan is stripped naked and made to lie on the bare road throughout the day while his friends who walk back from school make fun of him. Angry with his father, Murugesan steals his mother's jewelery and elopes from the house.

His love for MGR movies leaves him penniless and destitute. He gets a small job and a place to stay at a local movie talkies and he grows up to be the theater operator. He also falls in love with the daughter of the restaurant right across the theater. And both of them are caught by many people alone locked up in the operating room. Ashamed the girl commits suicide and Murugesan is devastated. And his bad luck follows as the theater owner decides to close the business and now Murugesan is again in the street. On his friend suggestion Murugesan decides to head back to his village...

In the meantime Kathir has also grown up into a young man taking care of his parent and sisters. Along with a few friends Kathir has also started a small publicity business competing with the local company that has the monopoly. Due to his diligence and PR skills he keeps winning most of his competitors regular customers thus earning bad will from them.

Murugesan comes home to find that his father still hates him and he gets kicked out of the house even before he has a chance to speak with his mother. In the bus stand a lost Murugesan meets with his brother Kathir who takes him back home and makes him live with them.

How does living back in his family suit him? Does his family trust him? Like him? What happens to Murugesan? All to be seen when you watch the movie.

It is a beautiful movie showing how small things we do in our childhood can change our entire life. It also shows the great love and respect Kathir has for Murugesan in spite of being estranged for so many years. The movies brought tears to my eyes on more than one occasion and I would certainly recommend everyone to watch it.

Acting/Directing/Screenplay/Story are simply brilliant. I don't have to single anyone out. Even Bhavna has done a great job as Kathir's girlfriend. Their love story is not a separate storyline but somehow feels like it is intertwined in the main story. The girl that Pasupathy falls in love with first (Priyanka) and his childhood sweetheart (Shriya Reddy) are also brilliant.

A definite watch. Loved it!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Woh Lamhe (2006) - Hindi Movie Review

Ranking: 2.5/5

Cast: Shiney Ahuja, Kangana Ranaut, Shaad Randhawa
Director: Mohit Suri
Music: Pritam

The story is supposedly a "real-life story" like so many of other Mahesh Butt's movie are...He did write the story...The real-life story is supposed to reflect his times with Parvin Babi...Is it all true...well it is for you to decide...

Aditya Garewal (Shiney) is a promising young director who wants to make it big in the film industry. He has his eyes set on roping in Sana (Kangana) who is a star for his next venture. But Sana is under a contract with a big name producer and is a puppet in the hands of her boyfriend Nikhil (Shaad) who controls her every movement in life...

Sana is attracted to Aditya but she is unable to commit until one day she sees her boyfriend cheat. Then she is out on her own and starts to work with Aditya on his new venture. In due course of time the two of them fall in love. But Aditya is not able to commit to the relationship and they keep dragging along...Until Aditya realizes that Sana Schizophrenic issues and then he starts helping her...The movie drags on...really...we all know how this is really supposed to end if it was Parvin Babi's story but thats not how it ends...

Anyhoo, Mahesh Butt really thinks too much of his looks casting Shiney as himself! Shiney is a good actor and I wonder why he wasted his time acting in this movie as it is a very mediocre fare with cliched dialogues and badly edited script as well as screenplay. Kangana also has displayed brilliance in acting in Gangster has done a good job but somehow the story does not do justice to her talents. The director seriously needs to get some schooling before he sets out making loosely written biographies. The movie has shades of gray in it and is certainly not a fun movie. It is a little dragging and a little boring in many occasions but it is a skin fest for sure!

My final word for this movie is don't waste time if you have better things to do...

Monday, January 08, 2007

Pongal O Pongal

In a few days in the South Indian Calendar a plethora of holidays is bound to come through...which just reminds me sometimes how unfortunate I am sitting in a foreign country and leaving eons of traditions away...but then hey, this is the life I chose so no complaints and I am glad that I have the memories to celebrate and enjoy albeit in a small way...

I remember my childhood during Pongal season...for the last one month mom would have been waking up real early in the morning to clean and decorate the entrance of our house with kolam...and then the day would come when mom woke me early in the morning and we would both clean the entrance of our house. Mom would then bring the few things that she had prepared to destroy for Bogi and we would light it up like the rest of the neighbors smoging the entire city...Ya...This was Bogi...Marghazhi than odhi pochu Bogi achu....naaliku than thai porakkum thedhi achu....Bogi marked the ending of Marghazhi and beginning of the wedding and ceremonial season once again after a month long break...

The next day, once again we would wake up early and mom would cook an elaborate brunch. I would be in-charge of cleaning the terrace and draw a sketch of a pot with overflowing pongal, four sugarcanes-two on each side, the mighty sun, and general other stuff and also color the sketch. Mom and dad would then bring the pongal and the rest of us including my brothers would look up to Sun god and yell three times, "Pongal O Pongal." After the ritual mom and dad would pick up all the food and return to the house while I would sit with a plate to see if any of our ancestors in the form of crows came to feed on the food left aside for them...Once a crow started eating I would run down screaming that the crow has tasted the food...then on the rest of us would enjoy the food till we would burst... All the eating would be followed by TV programs
The next day I would call all my friends and wish them "Happy Birthday" and also tell them that I have bought special bells, ribbons, shawl, colors to decorate them as it was "Mattu Pongal!" Loads of fun we would be trying to get the better of each other...

Finally the last day of celebrations was marked by Kanum Pongal, a day where mom advised all of us to stay put in our house as she did not want us to risk taking the crowded bus or trains...Everyone is visiting each other and mom just did not want us to get crushed in the crowd...so this was a dedicated family and local friends day...we would not venture very far from home...the bakshina's made from Pongal may still be in the fridge and that would make for awesome snacking!!!

I miss those days from my beautiful childhood...Wish I could go back...

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Fanaa (2006) - Hindi Movie Review

Ranking: 2.5/5

Cast: Aamir, Kajol, Rishi Kapoor, annoying kid
Director: Kunal Kohli
Music: A.R. Rehman

Zooni (Kajol) a visually handicapped girl joins a singing and dancing troupe from Kashmir to perform in a Presidential festival in Delhi. Zooni runs into Rehan (Aamir) a flirtatious tourist guide who falls in love with Zooni. After a few romantic scenes the two of them are madly in love and Zooni requests her parents come to Delhi for their wedding.

Before her parents come Rehan arranges for Zooni's eyes to get fixed. When Zooni wakes up she hears from her parents that Rehan is no more. The viewer knows that Rehan is part of a Pakistani terrorist group trying to blow up Delhi...and that he has faked death and escaped...

A few years after we see Rehan in Indian army uniform playing football with officers in the mountains...and we get to know that he is a mole planted in the army...Rehan smartly kills a whole group of officers on flight with him before jumping off in a parachute. As luck would have it he lands near Zooni's house in a terrible blizzard.

Zooni can see now but she does not know Rehan's face...so Rehan stays with her and their son and father-in-law (Shashi Kapoor)...What happens to Zooni, Rehan, the father-in-law...

The story is not well thought off...there are very many loop holes...How does Zooni forget the voice of Rehan and the feel of Rehan...Aren't blind people supposed to be more sensitive to such things? How come the parents of Zooni were not even half interested to take care of their daughter's blindness as Rehan was? Why was the little Rehan made to be so annoying with crappy third-person dialogues??

The songs are of course really a pleasure to listen to...especially the Chaand Sifarish song...but then the story is very ordinary and it is sad to see Aamir choosing such a loose script to work with following RDB...Anyways it is a surely a decent watch but do not expect too much and don't look for logic for sure...