July 29, 2013

Movies you've probably missed out on #2

This is about Talaash. Clearly, many of you did watch it, and didn't like it. Many others didn't watch it at all because of the negative word-of-mouth publicity. Oddly, the most common criticism I've heard is "It didn't feel like an Aamir Khan movie". Interesting. What's an "Aamir Khan movie"? I see no visible pattern in the last 10 films. Because there are Salman Khan movies and Shah Rukh Khan movies and even Saif Ali Khan Movies (yuppie 40-something trying to look like 20-something gets with a pretty 20-something and grows up instead of being a dumbass --> every Saif Ali Khan movie in the last 7 years). But there hasn't been a category called "Aamir Khan movie" after Raja Hindustani. Which, you have to admit, was extremely cringe-worthy - so maybe it's a good thing the category died.

Talaash, in that way, is one of his better picks even considering he's rarely made any bad choices in the last 10 years. (Hrithik Roshan, take a cue. Stop doing Krishh 1 and 2 and 3 and movies called Boom Boom.)

Quickly then, good things about Talaash:

1. No montages and no blossoming love story. Instead, it's a mystery set against the backdrop of a marriage crumbling under the weight of unbearable grief. Reema Kagti (props to her and Zoya Akhtar, who've done a great job co-writing) manages to explore the blurred lines between obsession and moving on, depression and hope, real and unreal.

2. Truly brilliant cinematography. No, there are no wide angle, sweeping shots of Punjab farms - which is what *good cinematography* is supposed to represent in Bollywood. Instead, there's a dark theme in everyday places in Bombay that just matches the mood so well.

3. Shernaz Patel plays batshit crazy with aplomb. Rani Mukherjee with one of her best, most understated performances. Nawazuddin Siddiqui proving, yet again, that he's probably the find of the year. Kareena Kapoor does a great job of not getting on the audience's nerves.

3. The marrying of two parallel stories, the solution to both. For everyone who thought one or the other was unnecessary, open your minds, children, open your minds.

4. Haunting sound track.

5. Loads of foreshadowing and subtext. Watch again and again to piece it all together.

(Turns out that upcoming Hrithik Roshan movie is called Bang Bang. My bad. In other news, he will also be seen in a cop flick called Zamaana Kahe Boom Boom Boom and will eventually become Salman Khan, hopefully without all the court cases.)

Here's all you need to do - keep an open mind when you watch this movie. It's not like anything you've seen before and that doesn't have to be a bad thing. By now you likely know the story, the climax, the suspense. I knew all those things by the time I watched it for the first time too. Just watch it with an open mind for what it is - an edgy thriller with great writing and top-notch performances.

And don't come back to me and say "Yaar but I really liked Raja Hindustani."

July 21, 2013

Movies you've probably missed out on

There's a category of movies that get released and go completely unnoticed for some reason or the other. Often they're not what the audience wants at that point, or they don't have a bankable star, or they don't find producers, or... the list goes on. Result - we, the mango people, miss out on a great product.

One of these is Luck by Chance - Zoya Akhtar's directorial debut which grows on you with repeated watchings just as AR Rahman's music does. By which I mean, the first time around you're all like "Okayyy, this shit is nice." The second time you're like "Aw hell, I didn't notice that!" and the 3rd time onwards you're all like "Gimme more!! I wanna do illegal drugs while listening to this and go to heaven!" (This is assuming you're some sort of hybrid between an educated Indian and uneducated NRI.)

But I'm being facetious. What I'm saying is, despite the incredible success Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara received, it was Zoya Akhtar's second best, vanilla effort - targeted at the urban middle class that loves a simple story and coming of age - no matter at what age. Luck By Chance is not formulaic by any stretch, because it has no Bollywood style script of "Buildup - Crisis Point - Resolution". And therein lies its beauty, because it takes time to examine and understand characters and situations, revealing more of each character as the story progresses, presenting situations with wry humour and no judgment.

From the opening credits onwards, the movie has a self-deprecating humour and takes a dig at all things Bollywood. From Rishi Kapoor's Punjabi producer, with his "God bless" and "Vulcano of talent" to his brother-in-law, explaining a concept for a movie, holding up his fists and saying "Yeh hai first half, aur yeh hai second half" to Juhi Chawla as the over-made-up producer's wife describing a tantrum-throwing star as "Actually na, she's vaery complexed" - from Anurag Kashyap as the befuddled writer of a potboiler  to Isha Sharvani who can't quite bend to touch the producer's feet thanks to the length of her dress - the cast's performances, for once, don't fall short of real star - the writing.

Konkona Sen Sharma and Farhan Akhtar give memorable performances as flawed and believable characters, and the whole support cast (there's a LOT of it) shines through too. If there's one movie on Bollywood (or the Hindi film industry, as an irate yesteryear heroine insists) you must watch, it's this. You've most likely missed it in 2009 when it came out, but a lot of crappy Salman Khan movies have been released since and a lot of rubbish has passed for serious cinema and a lot of Yash Raj Movies have done undeservingly well, so what I'm saying is, why don't you just go watch this one?

PS. Ladies. Farhan Akhtar and Hrithik Roshan in the same movie. When they were younger and less beefed up. Need I say more?