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Archive for the ‘Movies’ Category

Movie: Raja Natwarlal

Year: 2014

Cast: Emraan Hashmi, Humaima Malik, kay kay Menon, Paresh Rawal, Deepak Tijori and lot more other actors lending support

Director: Kunal Deshmukh

Writer: Parveez Sheikh, Sanjay Masoom

https://i2.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/0/03/Raja_Natwarlal.jpg

Plot: A small time conman dreams big and tries to con a powerful man in turn losing his accomplice and mentor. He then teams with his brother to take revenge on the powerful man.

My Thoughts: The film was a surprise. It is not a great movie but its not bad either. The heist or the con here is actually a well thought out plan. Not like in "Dhoom" series where style is more important that the actual heist is quite stupid.

The success of a con movie depends on the whole journey till the final climax. The end is quite obvious but its the way the movie and the story goes in implementation of the con.

The movie takes its name from Amitabh bachchan Starrer "Mr. Natwarlal" which itself was based on real life conman, Mithelesh Kumar Srivastava. The movie has enough twist and turns to keep you interested.

Indian movies do require to have songs and that is the main problem. The songs do not add any value to the story and at the same time breaks the flow of the story.

Paresh rawal is really good as the brain for the con. Emraan Hashmi does what he does, no complaints there. Kay kay Menon as the villian performs his job well. The heroine, Humaima Malik does not add any value but does contribute to the story in a small way so cannot complain there. All in all if you want to enjoy a good con movie, Raja natwarlal is not a bad choice.

UpSide: Story, Paresh Rawal, Emraan Hashmi, Kay kay menon

Downside: Songs

Rating: 6.5/10

Rating Means: Not A bad movie. Has a repeat value

Note: This is not a review. Just my thoughts

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“Pushpak” is one of my favourite movie. It was one clever piece of writing, combined with good humour and good acting by Kamal Hasan and Amla. “Pushpak” proved that a story could be told and does not need gimmicks.

But this is not about “Pushpak”, not entirely. Rather its about the climax of “Pushpak” when Kamal Hassan admits to Amla that he is not the rich man he has been pretending to be. As she leaves the hotel forever, she throws him her address (although its an assumption). The twist of fate and the gust of wind blows the paper from Kamal Hassan’s hand into a sewage drain.

With the paper ends the movie and the hope of kamal Hassan to find Amla. It was a rather sad ending to the “quite” humorous movie.

“Pushpak” was made way back in 1987 when computers were still Greek for most people in the world, when buying a computer was not even on the agenda of an Indian family and when Computers was not a part of many careers.

But times have changed. From the dial-up modem to the always-on broadband connection, the world, the computers and the internet has come a long way since “Pushpak” 24 years ago.

It would be very difficult to imagine a “Pushpak” today. If he would have tried then too, I guess getting Amla’s address from the hotel would not have been impossible but a logical way of finding her.

But then “Pushpak” would not have been a tragedy.

Today its not that difficult to find someone with Internet touching most of our life. Although in India, many still do not have a digital identity, it would not be long when Internet will make an impact on our life. It takes the concept of “Six degree of Separation” to a total different level.

Facebook, orkut, Linkedin and even Matrimonial sites can offer load of information.

“Pushpak, Part 2” if ever made would have Kamal Hassan finding Amla’s name or the magician’s name from the hotel’s website, then searching the social sites, matching the profile with the information he has and zeroing on the exact person.

Maybe he can later send her a friend’s request or just poke her on Facebook. If he really tries and put efforts, he can find Amla and then “Pushpak Part 2” will end on a happy note.

Today we have gadgets and devices to help us stay connected. I read a few days back that it has really become difficult to stay anonymous in the Internet age. Can I stay anonymous even If i want to?

Now social sites and gadgets urge you to stay connected. We may not meet people physically but we will know what is happening in their life. We have mobile, computers, notebooks, Internet to stay connected.

Maybe all this accompanied with the will to actually meet will result in physical meeting. But then with a fast moving world and less time in our hand, the world will move into a virtual world. We stay connected but do we communicate?

That is a debatable question.

So is there a “Pushpak” possible in today’s connected world? I have my doubts.

But if Kamal Hassan had known about Internet, he wouldn’t have felt sad about that piece of paper that went down the drain.

 

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A 38 year old divorcee, a 28 year old virgin and a playboy falling in love or lust. A sex comedy or a romantic story. Madhur Bhandarkar’s “Dil Toh Baccha hai ji” (DTBHJ) just could not make up its mind.

DTBHJ is a story about three different individuals who stay in the same house and having three distinct life style.

Ajay Devgan is Naren is a 38 year old banker going through a divorce. He falls for a 21 year old intern in his office, June Pinto played by Shazahn Padamsee

Omi Vaidya is Milind kelkar aged 28 is a wannabe poet who works in a matrimonial company setting up marriages. He falls for a Radio Jockey, Gungun Sarkar played by Shraddha Das who wants to be an actress and live in the glamorous world of movies.

Emraan Hashmi is Abhay Suri, a playboy who makes woman pay for his expenses. He falls for high socialite and Businessman’s second wife Anushka Narang played by Tisca Chopra. Things become complicated when her husband’s daughter enter the picture.

DTBHJ is about the life of these three men or rather the non-existent love life of these men. The story tracks their pathetic effort to attract the women. Its but obvious that there are lots of signs that these are going to fail. But neither the characters nor the story writer seem to believe it as the characters go from one humiliation to another that we stop feeling sorry for them.

The story fails to decide what it wants to be, a sex comedy or a love story. The first half is laced with adult and gay jokes. The second part becomes a little heavy with the obvious process of dumping starts.

Ajay Devgan’s story is the only segment of the movie which is close to believable. A middle aged man infatuated with a much younger woman makes an interesting concept and you certainly know how its going to end.

Omi Vaidya really needs to come out of the “3 Idiots” acting style. The way he says his poetry, it reminds me of the “chamatkar” poem in “3 Idiots”.

Emraan Hashmi’s character is the most confusing part. One moment he is confessing of being the perfect playboy who lives to have fun and the next moment he goes and falls in love with an older woman and then he falls in love with her younger teen step-daughter.

DTBHJ really does not pick up in terms of story telling and characterisation. The story slows down very much in the second half.

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The music is good but then comes up randomly without warning.

Madhur Bhandarkar is made to make movies where stories reflect real life but has most certainly gone wrong. Comedy is not his forte.

DTBHJ is an interesting chance gone wrong. Wish it could have been better like the trailer

Rating: 5.5/10

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Dhobi Ghat (2011)

The trailer was impressive and with Aamir Khan backing it, it was worth a look.

Kiran Rao’s “Dhobi Ghat” (DG) is a story of 4 characters and a city. DG is a story where the characters and their life criss-crosses each others to arrive at a climax where not everyone finds its destiny.

Its not a typical Hindi movie but follows a very non-conventional narrative.

Arun is a painter, divorced and living alone in Mumbai. He rarely meets people and moves into a new rented home. There he finds tapes left by old tenants. Going through the tapes, he discovers the tapes belonging to the housewife, Yasmeen who was staying in the house before him. Her life is revealed to him through the old tapes as he goes through the emotions of her life in Mumbai.

Arun meets Shai, a photographer on a “sabbatical” in Mumbai on a photographic project. She is attracted to him but he does not want to be part of a relationship.

Shai meets Munna, a dhobi in the Dhobi Ghat who wants to be an actor. Living small and dreaming big, he doubles up as rat catcher in the night.

The life of these 4 characters take a course they could not have predicted.

The movie slowly builds up the tempo but never rushing to its climax. It takes its own time, even with its 95 minutes playing time. Its a good thing that the movie does not have a break in between so that the viewer don’t come out the mood the film sets for them.

Its not a great story but the treatment makes it a little better.

Aamir Khan is not his charming self. He is more of a recluse. I couldn’t help but remember “Rakh” which was promoted as Aamir Khan film but did not have the Bollywood masala. In DG too, Aamir Khan is more of an actor than a star.

Monica Dogra as Shai is believable as she balances the two men in her life. With an ascent, she delivers the NRI required for the role.

Yasmeen played by Kriti Malhotra is played innocently. She plays the housewife from small towns who loves her brother very much, trying to understand her husband and trying to make most of the city and her life. Yasmeen’s character has the soul of the story.

Prateik plays Munna, one of the many migrants who want to make it big in the city and he is the best of the cast here. His mannerism, body language gets the perfect balance of the character. His aspiration to dream big knowing his limitations leaves you a little uncomfortable.

And there is Mumbai, silent, ever changing and watching. It goes along at its own speed not stopping for anybody. The rain, the gateway, the sea all the typical images of Mumbai and still telling a new story.

The music by Gustova Santaolalla matches with the slower mood of the movie.

There are many moods of the city and so are of Dhobi Ghat. From love to solitude to acceptance it captures it all. I may have to watch it again to know more. Although it looks perfect at first glance, I was left with wanting for more. Maybe that is the failure of the movie or maybe that it was supposed to be.

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My one more interest of watching the movie is Shai character is a photographer. Photos taken by Jyotika Jain are really good.

So the debut of Kiran Rao will not be a major hit. But will it set a trend where movies like these are readily accepted

Rating: 7.5/10

 

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The police in India are a sorry lot. Burdened with work and suffering from corruption, old weapons and uninspired leadership, they fight a lone battle maintaining law and order.

Kedar Shinde’s new movie “On Duty – 24 Taas” (OD-24T) takes a humorous and satirical look at the life of Maharahstra Police.

OD-24T starts two years after the Mumbai attacks. The government is still not prepared for another Terrorist attack. In a rushed meeting, 14 police person are selected under a Sardar Police officer to form a terrorist squad.

Except that these 14 people are bottom of the ladder who would rather be unnoticed than be heroes. With no motivation, they form the unwilling team under the Marathi Sardar aptly named Karan Bedi.

Kedar Shinde may had some idea about the movie showing the apathy of Indian police who are unable to take action under their political bosses and he planned to do it with humour. However what he ends up is making caricature of the characters.

A men-hating sub inspector, a south-indian superior who plots to bring the team down, a giant police constable, an old police officer who knows the rule of the game and so on.

Some issue are still put forward like no facilities, less salary, corruption, unlimited working hours but then each scene comes as an episode rather than a continuous story.

Why would an anti-terrorist squad diffuse bomb or control riots? The riots scenes are clearly “inspired” from “Police Academy”.

Although the concept is noble, the implementation is haphazard. There was a chance of making a humorous movie like “Munnabhai” which touched issues with a smile. The transformation of hopeless team into a highly focused team is never explained.

Some of the scenes are good but then the scenes in between are a big letdown. I guess there is no connect with the characters. There are far too many characters in the movie.

The Hero is a Punjabi Sardar who speaks fluent Marathi with a very unrealistic ascent which is neither Marathi nor Punjabi. He could have done without the ascent. The best cross character I have seen is a Sardar who has lived in Tamil Nadu played by Suresh Menon in “Badhai Ho Badhai”

The romance in the movie are rushed and does not slowly build up. The climax is again unrealistic where the story tries to play safe.

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The acting is good by all actors but they are let down by a episodic story. A little more soul and Kedar Shinde would have hit the jackpot. But focusing the story on the much ignored Indian Police is a commendable effort.

Rating: 6.5/10

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Mumbai Pune Mumbai (2010)

“Before Sunrise” and “Before Sunset” are two of my favourite movies. Both the movies based on same two characters do not have much of a story. Its about two strangers meeting in Europe and just having a conversation. They talk and their talks gives an insight into their life and thoughts. The depth of the thoughts and conversation is what makes the movies a must watch.

Having a movie without much of a plot but only relying on conversation between two individuals, two strangers and doing it twice can be quite an achievement.

The romantic comedy Marathi movie “Mumbai Pune Mumbai” takes the concept from “Before Sunrise” and moulds into an Indian context. The idea is not copied as such but cannot help remembering those two movies while watching this movie.

“Mumbai Pune Mumbai” (MPM) is about two strong minded individuals who meet each other in Pune.

Mukta Barwe is a fashion designer from Mumbai who visits Pune to meet a boy who has been recommended by her mother for marriage. Reluctant to meet a complete stranger, she is sceptical to meet the person and is in Pune to convey a “no” to the boy.

Swapnil Joshi meets her when she asks him the address of the boy. They keep bumping into each other and he offers to keep her company till she can meet the boy. Few coincidences that the boy is not at home and Mukta’s cell phone is not charged help the circumstances.

They talk and discuss their life, their past, their value, their belief and that is what forms the rest of the story. The climax is quite obvious but as they say the journey is more important than the destination, so is the culmination of the climax.

Its not a high level philosophical discussion but an attempt of two individuals to know each other or lets say just have a chat.  They talk, fight, flirt and have a friendly banter. The talks explore the value and tradition but refuses to take sides. Its neither wrong nor right. It is as it is.

MPM only has this two nameless characters and are virtually in every frame of the movie. Keeping the story interesting can be quite an achievement and Script writer and director Satish Rajwade does it quite effectively. Parag Kulkarni shares the credit for story and script.

To keep the story alive, the actors have to be equally competent. Mukta Barwe and Swapnil Joshi are just that. She sometimes obnoxious and he equally irritating. Mukta Barwe plays the modern, independent and free thinking woman. Thankfully there is no attempt to label her as a pious Indian woman. She had past relationships and she is ok to discuss with a complete stranger. The story does not judge her but considers it a part of her life.

Swapnil Joshi has his own past baggage.

As I said, Satish Rajwade keeps it interesting in the little over 1 hour 40 mins runtime.

There are two songs and quite ok.

In addition to Mukta and Swapnil, two other stars in the movie are the cities, Mumbai and Pune. The rivalry between the two cities are quite known. The two lead characters represent the two cities and their personality reflects the cities they come from. Mumbai, fast and modern and Pune, traditional and proud.

The two cities unknowingly became a part of the story. Pune in an active role while Mumbai in a passive role.

MPM is close to a classic and has a repeat value. Its a movie which you see when you want to just smile. No villains, No drama, no melodrama, no emotional atyachaar.Just pure fun!

Its an example that good scripts and story with good characters development can make an entertaining and good movie.

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Marathi movies go through ups and down, experimenting. I guess that gives Marathi cinema its brand value unlike Hindi cinema which is going down the pits with mindless entertainment.

MPM is an example of a experiment that just succeeds

Rating: 8.5/10

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Road, Movie (2010)

“Road, Movie” (R,M) is about a journey, a journey which looks interesting but turns surreal and by the climax looks directionless or a journey that achieves its goal. Its looking at the perspective of Vishnu’s journey.

Vishnu is a bored young man groomed to join his father’s hair oil business which he has no interest. He takes up an assignment to deliver a pre-independence Chrysler truck to a museum in Samudragad across the dessert.

On his journey, he meets a small boy who is looking for a escape from his life, a motor mechanic who knows to repair almost everything and a gypsy widow searching for water. Together they make their journey through desert in search of a road to Samudragad, water and a fair in the middle of the dessert.

The truck houses two 40 year old movie projector and had served as a mobile projector van.

The movie is shot in the hot desert with little or no greenery. On their way they meet corrupt police officer and a water mafia. The movie takes the journey from humorous to surreal to bizarre, At the end of the movie, it does feel like what is the objective of all the journey? Where does the hero and the movie is leading?

I guess its the way you look at things. To some it might be plain boring to see miles and miles of barren dessert and a lone truck making through the dessert on a road which is almost not there. To others, it might be a journey of self realization where the protagonist is exposed to the harsh realities of the country where even after 60 years of Independence, we cannot promise a basic necessity like water for all.

As I said there are different ways of interpreting the story and the characters.  I guess you either like it or overwhelmed to make you determine to understand what the story actually told us. Its a surreal story where the situation appear like a mirage in the dessert and the boundary between reality and fiction blurs to a great extent.

Like did the hero-heroine really make love or how is the fair set up in the dessert or

The hair oil serves as a solution for all needs, right from greasing the old projectors to escaping the Water mafia head by making him a “Man” with the oil.

The way I see it, the situation and people are quite symbolic. The dessert represent life with harsh realities and the search of water symbolizes search for happiness by every individual. The four main characters also seem symbolic. The oldest of them being the most experienced who knows that happiness will come no matter what. You just have to believe in it.

I couldn’t help but compare it to Kevin Costner starrer, “Field of Dreams”. Like the movie where the main protagonist builds a baseball stadium so that people will come. Here too the older man erects a movie screen in the middle of nowhere because he knows people will come when the movie starts. He believes it with all his heart and it happens.

The movie has a good cast right from Mohammed Faizal who plays the young boy to Tannishtha Chatterjee who plays the gypsy woman to Satish Kaushik who deviates from his comedy roles to give a good performance after “Brick Lane”

Abhay Deol continues with his unconventional roles and his ability to transform actors into characters and not just a hero.

And there is the truck, an old Chrysler driven through a very barren dessert with the sound of guitar in the background. It stays with the story, the journey. A truck that making its last journey and driven by a protagonist who is making his first.

The visuals are stunning and looking from the 4th row in the theatres, it looks like 3D. I guess the cheapest way to make 3D; a moving camera and seats very close to the screen.

Dev Benegal, nephew of Shyam Benegal writes and directs this one. The characters are wild and more human which means more prone to being quite real in life.

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At the end of the movie, R,M is a journey to be experienced and not watched. Someday sit all by yourself and watch the movie and think what really the insane dialog really mean? But for now, it tires me!

Rating: 6.5/10

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