This movie is special

31 12 2007

Taare Zameen ParThere have been very few attempts by Bollywood to talk about delicate issues. Ashutosh Gowarikar touched upon one very sensitive social issue in Swades. He was the one who had teamed up with Aamir Khan 6 years ago to create Lagaan, which I consider a legendary movie. It was Rakesh Omprakash Mehra who created another gem called Rang De Basanti (with Aamir Khan again). And it is Aamir Khan this time that has created perhaps the best movie of this year – Taare Zameen Par. A maiden directorial venture for him, this movie stands out for the sensitive way it has touched upon its subject.

I read somewhere recently that for a man who believes in perfection, his directorial venture too has to be a success. Aamir has lived up to that notion. He has created a masterpiece. This comes many years after he made the statement that he would never like to produce a movie because he felt that there are too many hassles in producing a Bollywood movie. Today he is the producer of two masterpieces and the director of one of them. How this transformation came about is something one should ask him personally.

I am not wasting any time with the plot synopsis of the movie. I’d rather look at the shortcomings if at all there were any. So far I haven’t found any shortcomings. This looks like an impossible statement. In perhaps all the movies that I have watched, old or new, good or bad, I have found at least a few shortcomings, either technically, in the story or in the performances. To me at least there do not look like any shortcomings that exist in this movie. Can it be the perfect movie ever made in Bollywood? It comes very close to being the perfect movie. Aamir is the perfect teacher who has the ability to understand a child. Tisca Chopra is impressive as a middle class housewife and a mother of two kids. Darsheel Safary can leave you speechless with his role of the dyslexic child Ishaan. Tanay Chheda is the perfect friend of Ishaan.

Oh yes there is a shortcoming. The music – although the music scored by Shankar Ehsaan and Loy is good there are songs that you can afford to skip especially if you’re watching this movie on DVD. However here again there is this one song called Maa which stands out as the perfect tribute to a mother. Somehow I feel this song reflects my relationship with my mother, or maybe I’ve listened to it just a few times till now and also because I am far away from my mother right now so I guess I’m feeling the loneliness and longing for my mother as is expressed in this song.

Every child is special is the message of this movie. But not every movie is special. This one however is special as it brings out the problems of a dyslexic child and helps to create an understanding for his state. It is a question mark over parenthood. Do parents really understand the needs of their children? Or is it that they tend to overlook their special needs and expect them to compete against the rest of the world? Something is wrong and this movie looks to set it right. If the message of this movie goes in the right direction then it would help prevent some of the damage being done to children of similar disabilities.


Circuit and Munna

31 07 2007

Circuit: भाई अमेरिका में address पूछेगा तो क्या बोलने का
मुन्ना: धोभी घाट
Circuit: भाई english में बोलनेका तो?
मुन्ना: Washington
Circuit: भाई इधर आने को क्या बोलना
मुन्ना: Come Here
Circuit: भाई फिर उधर जानेको क्या बोलते है
मुन्ना: पेहले उधर जानेका फिर बोलनेका come here.
Circuit:भाई येह कैसा बोलने का – चले हट हवा आने दे
मुन्ना: simple हैं यार – Hey u move sideways let the air force come in.
Circuit: भाई तुम तो पास हो गेला भाई
मुन्ना: Yes bro i have just passed away
मुन्ना: अभी तू बोल एह
मामू भेजा मत फिरा
Circuit: Mother’s brother dont rotate my brain
मुन्ना: येह बोल
इधर आ खज़ूर देता हूँ कर्चा पानी {कज़ूर याने डटे}
circiut: Come with me for a date i will pay u
मुन्ना: अब येह बोल
अपुन को बहुत सर्दी हो गयी है
circuit: I got big winter in smoll nose

Of course these would have been the dialogues from the next Munnabhai movie had Munna not gone to jail. A loss to the Indian film industry but still, justice finally done.

Makkadman – Hollywood makes a Hindi movie

2 06 2007

Okay please don’t be surprised. Hollywood doesn’t really make Hindi movies. They just create movies that look inspired or similar to trashed Hindi movies. I’m talking about Spiderman-3. Well really, I didn’t think much of it, especially since I have watched both the previous movies.

Spiderman was about the creation of the legend in the city of New York. It showed his own fears, insecurities and his musings over the choices he has to make to lead a life of respect and use the powers he has acquired due to the bite of a genetically altered spider.

Spiderman-2 turns out to be my favorite of the three. Spidey was growing into a cult figure, he knew his responsibilities and he was fighting for the people who lay trust in him. it again showed his own insecurities but he is able to overcome them.Spiderman

Spidey-3 is different. Like Maggi hot and sweet tomato chilly sauce, it’s different. Well jokes apart, the difference here was that Spidey was not fighting for the people of New York, rather he was fighting against the man who killed his uncle. The killer had become the sandman. The sandman was not entirely the villain. He only had shades of gray. The real villain was the venom, which Spidey willingly lets take control of himself but soon realizes its destructive potential.

It had all the drama of a Bollywood movie. Spidey’s love for Mary Jane is well known and he blows it off by kissing Gwen Stacy. Eddie Brock is her boyfriend so obviously he is after Spidey and in doing so, acquires the venom and decides to use it against him.

Harry, Spidey’s long lost friend-turned-foe-turned-friend comes to his rescue at the very last moment. Okay, I think its enough, I’ve spilled all the beans I guess. No wait, there’s something that I didn’t write about and I will skip it obviously. I don’t want to spoil the climax. Go and watch it.

But there’s something more about Spidey-3. They didn’t leave any openings from this movie to create Spidey-4. Or do they really want to create another sequel? Personally, I have my doubts but with the way Hollywood works, I won’t be surprised to see another sequel soon. After all, there wasn’t any opening in Spidey-2 too but they created the sandman out of nowhere and made this movie!

It is good entertainment, especially if you want the kids to enjoy some breathtaking stunts. Overall, writer’s rating – 6.5/10

© Writer’s Block

Ambition takes you places

15 02 2007

Ever wondered how the late senior Ambani created a wealth that has so far remained unmatched in its sheer numbers? How did he make so much money that even after its division between his two sons they remain the biggest businessmen in the country? It is all because of ambition. His ambition gave birth to a peerless company that would go on to soar unimaginable heights of success. It gave rise to an industrial group that today is the most familiar name in every Indian household. Ambani didn’t believe in not taking opportunities.

This is the essence of GURU. Gurukant Desai (aka Gurubhai) is a believer in his abilities and does not let anything come in the way of his ambition. As he constantly says, he does not know the meaning of the word NO . He wants to be the best and wants to compete with the biggest businessmen around and he makes sure that nothing becomes a stumbling block in his way.

Gurubhai comes from very moderate means, having a father who constantly taunts him for his belief in making money by doing business instead of a steady job. But it is his desire for money that takes him to Turkey where he manages to earn a lot in a short time. He then returns to India, marries Sujata and along with his brother-in-law Jignesh goes to Bombay to trade in the cloth market. His first and foremost stumbling block comes in the form of getting a licence to trade in the cloth market, which is very hard to get. Whether he gets it or not is for you to see. I am not spilling any more beans.

Gurukant’s meteoric rise in the business world of India almost mirrors that of senior Ambani. Within a few reels you see Gurubhai changing his appearance from a young village boy to a middle-aged babu of the ‘60s, travelling in his brand new Mercedes and making money at the speed of thought! Some of my friends said that Gurubhai looked money-minded. I disagree. Gurubhai is ambitious, and he has all the traits that perhaps each one of us should possess. He thrives in risk-taking, has belief in himself and knows that he will not earn money just by sitting idle. He knows how to bend rules, how to connive with the netas and how to get things done in his favour. It is due to these traits that he earns a lot of admirers (like Meenu) and foes (like Shyam Saxena).

The movie is not only about Gurubhai. Sujata (okay, this is Ashwarya) is a good wife and knows that she is a partner in crimes of Gurukant (if at all they are proven). Manik Das Gupta is the idealistic editor of the newspaper The Independent. Shyam Saxena is a reporter with the Independent and as the film goes on, he reveals his true self which though not good, still it does no harm to his character. Meenu acts as his perfect foil and is literally in awe of Gurubhai.

The Performances
I thought Abhishek was superb in his portrayal of Gurukant Desai. He looks in control of the character he plays throughout the movie although I did feel that in the second half he was somewhat subdued. Only one scene towards the end makes an impact. In some scenes I felt that he was almost imitating the style of his father while there were some scenes where I felt that Amitabh (in his prime) would have done better.

Some of my friends said that Ashwarya was pathetic in this movie. I again disagreed. I thought that she has done a reasonably good job in her portrayal of Gurukant’s wife. Yes there are chinks in her acting skills but still she manages to carry herself well in the movie.

Vidya Balan. Hmm, what should I say about her? She is wasted indeed; still she leaves a mark on you as she plays the role of Meenu.

Madhavan as Shyam Saxena is also wasted although his role is not insignificant. In a way his role is a reflection of Gurukant’s misdeeds because Shyam also employs unfair means to get his works done just the way Gurukant did.

Mithunda is a transformed man. No longer will you feel that this is the same person who played Disco Dancer in the ‘80s and then did a streak of B and C grade movies in the ‘90s.

As for the music of this movie, I won’t say anything. Listen to it and get mesmerized by it.

My Verdict
To be honest, the second half was a kind of letdown after the near flawless first half. Maybe they needed to give Gurukant some more dialogues to speak; maybe they needed to give Sujata some more scenes about playing the helpful wife. Maybe just… maybe…

I still liked this movie. I liked it for Gurukant’s courage and ambitious nature. You have to possess these traits to be a winner. The movie is not just about Guru’s zeal for making money. It is also about what he had to do to earn the money and the trust of his shareholders. How you earn the respect of millions of people of your country is one of the highlights of the movie. Gurukant is admired for these very traits, just like Ambani.

The worse of two goods

3 06 2006

Fanaa, the film is based on a simple philosophy: It is always easy to chose between good and evil but what determines the course of our lives is how we chose the better of two goods and the safer of two evils. No doubt Fanaa is a good movie but if you ask me, I think I chose the worse of two goods. There are better movies around as compared to Fanaa, just that I decided to go for this one rather than the better ones.

Going into this movie, I had great expectations from it given that I am an ardent fan of Aamir Khan. But the actor falls flat in his performance, especially when pitted against as talented a co-star as Kajol. More on him later but first I want to focus on Kajol.

Kajol has given a wonderful performance. This multi-faceted actress can carry an entire movie on her back. I feel that our film industry has lost a great artist since she stopped working. Today’s Ranis and Preitys and Priyankas are no match to her. I read an argument (probably on Mouthshut or maybe while talking to a friend, not sure though) that Kajol’s character in Fanaa was deliberately created as blind to add more challenge to her role as she was returning to the big screen after a long hiatus. I find this argument totally absurd because as was evident from her performance, she still had all the qualities that a multi-talented artist of her calibre possesses.

The one good thing about the movie is that Kajol’s character has been very well established, which is something that Aamir’s character lacks. Kajol is shown to be a young Kashmiri blind girl whose life has been totally under control of her parents. Her parent, though shown as conservatives, do not suppress her desires and wishes. This is how she is able to decide about her visit to Delhi much to the happiness of her parents.

Once in Delhi, Zooni experiences the kind of freedom that she has not even dreamed of in Kashmir. Though blind, she takes to Delhi like one of its very own. And when Rehan starts flirting with her, she doesn’t retreat into a shell. Rather she responds to his flirting. She is overjoyed at being in an alien surrounding all alone, and she loves her freedom. When she is alone with Rehan, she is amused, joyous, anxious, playful, all at the same time. To show such emotions at the same time calls for some brilliant performance which only Kajol could deliver. She shows that she is determined not to let her disability become her weakness and her first encounter with Rehan is evident of that when Rehan remarks ‘Arre andhi hai kya?‘ to which she replies ‘Haan andhi hoon, tumko dikhai nahi diya kya?‘ The dialogue sequence was amusing for the viewer but it showed the acceptance that Zooni had in her mind for her disability.

Now lets come to the cliché of the movie. Given that Zooni and her troupe of girls were in Delhi for only 5 days, how could one expect her to fall in love with Rehan in such a short time? I have seen a friend raise this question earlier too and honestly, I don’t have any logical reply to him. We see that when Rehan flirts with her, she responds to him. Zooni was a girl who had absolutely no contact with the outside world and her life was determined by her parents. Given the sense of independence Zooni felt in Delhi, she could not stop herself from interacting with Rehan in the first place. The gentle smiles on her face when Rehan was cracking his bad shayaris was evident of that. But given her background that was so well documented in the movie, one would be led to believe that a girl like her would take a long time to realize if she is in love with a guy or not. This doesn’t happen in this movie. The movie shows that she not only falls in love with Rehan but also decided to marry him after consent of her parents, all in the space of just 5 days. I think this is the cliché moment of the movie. Maybe perhaps because this happens in every other Hindi movie where the guy and the girl realize in a moment of passion that they are really in love and decide to marry.

It is from here on that the movie becomes predictable. The guy disappears, time flies, the girl has a son and then they reunite under difficult circumstances. What happens next too is predictable. You can actually predict the story of this movie from here on if you are an avid reader of novels. For example, I have been an avid Ken Follett reader and I found that parts of the story of this film are rip-offs from some of his stories. The difference in this case is that in Ken Follett’s novels, all the characters almost always have a well established background (like Zooni in this movie) while in this movie we are still open to question Rehan’s background. What do we really know of him? That he is a terrorist on a mission? That he only communicates with his so-called Nanajaan? Or that he is a Kashmiri? When Zulfi (Zooni’s father, played by Rishi Kapoor) questions Rehan about his background, he simply doesn’t have any answer. Part of it was due to the fact that he didn’t want to reveal to him that he was a terrorist. But the film doesn’t show anything about Rehan’s Kashmiri links. At one point Zooni herself questions him that after hearing so many lies from him how could she trust him. In the same way can we, the viewers, believe that he is a genuine Kashmiri?

Lets talk about the performances now. Kajol, as I said was simply brilliant. It is no use repeating that she was the ace of the movie. Aamir disappoints. He looks older in the first half and brazen and emotionless for a large part of the second half of the movie. Mr. Perfectionist falls flat on his face in front of Mrs. Talented. In his search for perfection, I believe Aamir has not achieved his full potential. I also felt that a part of his role resembled that of Rang De Basanti. His mannerisms, looks on his face, a dash of Punjabi accent all reminded us of RDB. But honestly speaking, I hated his shayari sessions with the girls in the first half. It nearly put me to sleep.

Rishi Kapoor looked apt for the role of the father of Zooni. He plays the role of a very emotional father but is never coming in the way of his daughter’s decisions. Kiron Kher likewise played the perfect mother. Tabu’s role as a psychologist with the Anti Terrorism Bureau is something that I did not like much because given the way she was making her comments and decisions, it almost looked like she was working on hunches rather than plain facts. I am not saying that she performed badly, I believe that her character was not developed in the script. I guess that had something to do with the fact that her appearance was very limited in the movie.

The film tended to slow down in the middle. It can be safely said that you can afford to sleep through one hour of the first half of the movie and then another half hour after the interval. The shayaris, the wah wahs, the subhan allahs all bored me to near-sleep. Another thing I felt was that the surprise factor was missing in the movie. Take for example, RDB had a surprise factor in it. The way they plan to kill the minister in RDB and the plan is executed in a flash acts as a surprise factor. Something similar should also have been there in Fanaa given the fact that it was a story based in Kashmir and a so-called Kashmiri terrorist was at the center of this story. But it never happens and as I wrote above, the moment the injured Rehan reaches Zooni’s house, the story becomes predictable. Had there been a surprise element, things could have been very different.

The music. Hmm, now this is something that I have already written about here. The picturization of most songs is beautiful. Watch Chand Sifarish and you won’t need to visit Delhi again. They have covered literally all the well known monuments of Delhi in this song, starting with the Qutub Minar and progressing to Old Fort, and so on. A few scenes here and there, and you will be able to watch the entire beautiful side of Delhi in just a few brief moments. Watch the beautiful landscapes of Poland in Mere Haath Mein while watch out for the chemistry between Aamir and Kajol in Dekho Na. Chanda Chamke may be a fun song but its tune is… oh well, thats repetition from my review of its music album. Des Rangila, the worst song of the album thankfully came at a time when my cell phone rang and I had to run out of the hall to attend the call.

A word about the director and the producer. I had a lot of regards for Kunal Kohli as a film critic but his works as a director have not been up to the mark barring Hum Tum. Fanaa fails to live up to my expectation given that it boasted of such a magnificent star cast. I felt at times that the acting talents of Aamir and Kajol could have been better exploited by some other more experienced director. As regards Yashraj films, I believe they should go back to making love triangles. It is their forte and Aditya Chopra should stop making films that are different per se and if he wants to become a producer, he must hire more talented directors to keep the Yashraj banner afloat. I wont call this film mediocre but yes certainly it could have been better. This is all I have to say about Fanaa – the movie.

Fanaa – My First Ever Music Review

17 04 2006

They say that the nature of Fanaa consists of elimination of evil deeds and lowly attributes of the flesh. Fanaa calls for abstention from sin and look for only Divine Love. Fanaa – the film is about a blind girl who falls in love with an incorrigible flirt. What she doesn’t know is that this man is destined to change her life forever.The music of this film is not the kind of music that will mesmerize you immediately. It takes time to grow on you. The music of Jatin-Lalit will be heard for one last time in this movie before they part their ways. Being a big fan of theirs, I feel sad at their break up as a musical jodi. As regards their composition for this movie, I feel that they haven’t been up to the usual standards that they are known for.

Given the fact that a part of this film is based in Kashmir, I felt that the typical Kashmiri folk music is missing from the soundtrack. I wonder why. Having said that, the Sufiana music can be experienced in Chand Sifarish. Kailash Kher has done well in singing this song. Lyrically this song is perhaps the best. We get a good visual of the kind of background set up for this song.

I have always felt that Sonu Nigam sings at too loud a pitch than what suits him. He takes a break from it when he sings Mere Saath Mein. He sounds good. Kajol and Aamir Khan too have lent their voices to this song. Look out for the dialogues that you hear in the trailers of the movie. They are part of this song.

The music of Hum Tum was one of the biggest hits of Jatin Lalit. Now you might be wondering why I am talking about Hum Tum in a review on Fanaa album but there seems to be direct connection between both the films. Both of them have been produced by Aditya Chopra, directed by Kunal Kohli and music is given by Jatin Lalit. The song Chanda Chamke looks to be a direct rip-off from Yaara Yaara of Hum Tum. Hear it for yourself. The rhythms, beats and notes are exactly the same. They have the same effect on you and you almost start visualising Yaara Yaara in your mind. The saving grace is the lyrics of this song. The tongue-twisters make it a lively and fun song to play.

kitna mushkil yeh gaana zara gaake dikhana

I guess Jatin Lalit might have taken this line of the song a little too seriously. Maybe that’s why they did not create any new tune for this song.

Sunidhi Chauhan turns into melody queen in Dekho Na. She is a complete revelation from what we have heard from her in some earlier movies. And full marks for Sonu Nigam again for the way he has sung this song.

Des Rangila is a big let-down. If I were to play this song on radio, I would play it as filler between two good songs or in between two commercial breaks. Sung by Mahalaxmi Iyer, they have tried to make it into a patriotic song but it falls well short of being one. When watching the movie on theatre, this song will give the viewers the much needed welcome-break they need while watching a 3 hour long movie. Or maybe, (I’m not sure of it though) given the fact that it has a part of Jana Gana Mana in it, it could have been used at the end of the film when they usually show the credits of the film’s crew.

I think Destroyed in Love (lounge mix) could have been used in the beginning of the movie (again it’s a fact that I cannot confirm for sure as yet). The flute mixture is good and it suits well for easy listening.

DJ Aqeel’s version of Chand Sifarish starts on a rather jarring note after the end of a good album. But the jarring first few seconds gives way to a good remix of the original. The Yaara Yaara effect can be felt here too.

Overall the album is good. It has the potential of being the largest selling album of the year. The music will take some time to grow on you but otherwise there is nothing in this album that can be regarded as bad.

Himesh Reshammiya and Music

7 04 2006

There is music and then there is Himesh Reshammiya’s music. There is a big difference between them. Music is well… music to ears. But Himesh Reshammiya’s music is like a car coming to a screeching halt. Terrible comparison there? Okay, you are entitled to your own different opinion of his music but seriously speaking I don’t have any inclination to accept his brand of music in its current form.I am a connoisseur of good music. There are days at end when I don’t look beyond a few compositions of Gulzar and RD Burman. Then there are times when I go crazy about AR Rehman, Jatin Lalit and a few other good music directors. Himesh too has given some good compositions in Tere Naam (2003), Aitraaz (2004) and Maine Pyar Kyun Kiya (2005) among others. But off late his music doesn’t sound like music to ears.

It started with Aashiq Banaya Aapne (2005). The film had Tanushree Dutta and Emran Hashmi lip-locking every other moment and it needed good fast music. But Himesh messed it up with his rendition of the title track that felt like music from a broken radio set. There was no problem with Himesh as long as he played behind the scene sctivities in the form of a music director. Problem started when he himself donned his thinking cap and decided to try his luck at singing. As luck would have it, he was an instant hit. Instant success does not necessarily mean long term stardom. His stubble, cap, T-Shirt and jeans made him look ultra cool but his singing talent has taken a nosedive for the worse.

He sounds loud, nasal, sometimes feels like crying while singing and other times makes you wonder why is he singing? Okay, his nasal twangs may not be as pronounced as Kumar Sanu’s but still his nasal voice is all the more evident in some of his recent songs.


I look for music that has a certain amount of shelf-life. Unfortunately none of his albums have a good shelf-life of say beyond a month. If I have to go and buy an album, I’d much rather prefer an AR Rehman to Himesh Reshammiya.