Sunday, November 23, 2014

Movie Review: Happy Ending - Distasteful

Take one 1 Bowl of  "Salam Namaste"  and 2 bowls of "Cocktail"; mix them well and add a few pinches of "Hum Tum" plus a teaspoon of "Bachna Ae Haseeno". Bake the mixture for 2 hours and the raw and uncooked dish that comes out is HAPPY ENDING!

Bingo! you guessed it right, Saif is playing the commitment-phobic dude yet again. I am sure you would not want me to give you a snapshot of the story beyond this.

The two hour movie is a drag from the beginning till the end. There is nothing unique about the movie. Saif looks really unfit in the movie and Ileana isn't looking her best either. So basically, while the story is stale, the glamour quotient too is missing. To add to it, the wardrobe of the lead actors isn't any good either. All in all there is nothing in the movie to hold the interest of any kind of audience.

About the screenplay - you know that the script-writer has not done his job well, when Govinda's presence in the movie goes underutilized. Its sad that the screenplay is so weak that it does not do even a bit of justice to Govinda's comic skills. It is the script-writer’s failed attempt at a Rom-Com or "Romedy" - as they call it in the movie.

To cut it short, the movie’s recipe is not worth your time and money. Go and have a dinner with friends instead.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Movie Recommendation: Garm Hava - Iconic, To Say The Least

MS Sathyu's 1974 movie on the post-partition era was re-released on November 14 after digital restoration. Last Saturday, I chose to watch the 40 year old movie over other options like Interstellar, Gone Girl and Kill Dill and I don't regret a bit. In fact, before writing anything else, I must thank PVR cinemas for running the movie and giving the audience a chance to view one of the rarest jewels in the history of Indian Cinema.
Garm Hava is a BEAUTIFUL movie indeed.When I moved out of the hall it felt as if I had walked out after living the history of India for 146 minutes. The feelings were mixed - that of empathy, patriotism, pain, brotherhood and joy. But above all, there was a feeling of immense respect for the makers of this movie.

The movie is a story of a the travails of a Muslim family that chose to stay in India after partition. Based on Ismat Chughtai's unpublished story, 
it is a heartwarming tale of lost love, of broken trust on one hand and of strong faith in the secular fiber that India is made up of on the other hand.

The movie stands tall on four pillars - Kaifi Azmi and Shama Zaidi's screenplay, Balraj Sahni's marvelous acting, Gita Shauhat's portrayal of Aamina's character and MS Sathyu's attention to detail.

Making a movie based on Partition has never been easy. Think of any movie based on the subject and you will remember it ran through some controversy or the other either before or after the release. MS Sathyu's conviction towards the movie however deserves a special applause - making a movie on the subject when the wounds were still fresh was not an easy job - he survived protests and bans to present to India a touching chapter from its history. A chapter that is generally intentionally skipped by many of those who, for their own mean reasons, wish to present a distorted version of history.

It is ironical that most movies that I believe have the ability to promote communal empathy have been termed as "controversial releases" for the fear that these would instigate communal discord. This is what exemplifies difference in perception I guess. Garm Hava too was banned for the same reasons but when it was released it went as to win an award for National Integration. As they say, good work always pays, sooner or later.

When I recommend you to watch the movie today, its not because you as an audience deserve to watch a good movie but because this movie deserves a tribute from all those who believe in a secular India.

For those of you not moved by my emotional urge, here are a few other facts that make this movie special: this movie is the first few movies on partition, it was Farooq Sheikh's debut and veteran Balraj Sahni's last. It is an Oscar-Nominated movie! Convinced enough?

Go and watch this movie now, if it is still playing at at a PVR around you. Else here is a YouTube link - the print may not be fine but the movie is one of the finest movies you will watch.


Saturday, November 15, 2014

Movie Recommendation: Arth - Search for Meaning in Life & in Relationships

Fond of Jet Airways? Not really, right? Neither am I. But I have to confess that my last travel by Jet Airways was a very pleasant one - only because of the beautiful collection of thought provoking Shabana Azmi movies that their in flight entertainment housed.

Out of the movies that I watched from the collection I would highly recommend movie buffs who enjoy intense cinema to watch Arth - a Mahesh Bhatt movie from 1982. Read the synopsis of this movie anywhere and you will mostly find it being described as a movie on marital infidelity - the story of a movie director's extra-martial affair with a top-notch actress.  I however, believe that this description of the movie comes from the people who failed to uncover the innermost sheaths of the story.

Those with a deeper perspective would describe Arth as a movie on a woman's search for identity, set in the background of marital infidelity - and when I say woman , I am not just referring to Shabana Azmi's character (Pooja) in the movie; I am also talking about Rohini Hattangadi's character (Pooja's maid) and also that of Smita Patil (the famous actress Kavita Sanyal). And this is not the only other way the story can be described. The layered story can be interpreted in so many ways and attaching a single interpretation would be injustice to the master piece that Mahesh Bhatt created. Infact, I am consciously not mentioning more about the story-line because I would want the viewers to get involved in the movie without any preconceived notions.

You may ask,  enough movies have been written on both the subjects (i.e extra-marital affairs and woman's self-identity) in the recent past, why watch a 1982 movie to explore the same subjects yet again? I would say, yes I agree, that the themes are rather the most exploited themes in Indian cinema but this movie is actually class apart. What sets it apart is Mahesh Bhatt's ability to bring to life the complex characters of the star cast, Shabana Azmi's flawless acting and Jagjit Singh's voice in Kaifi Azmi songs with the deepest meanings that set the mood just right.

Every director or story writer always spends a lot of time sculpting the principal characters of the movie. Mahesh Bhatt, however, deserves appreciation not only for the attention that was given to the principal characters i.e the husband, the wife and the mistress but also for the way he has carefully crafted the characters in the side roles including that of the maid and of Pooja's admirer (Raj Kiran's character).

Not convinced about the movie yet? Okay, I have more reasons coming...

For those of you who enjoy Bollywood gossip, this movie is claimed to be a semi-autobiographical work inspired by Mahesh Bhatt and Praveen Babi's real life love affair.

Fashion mavens reading this article are also advised to watch the movie. It may be a 1982 movie, but take a closer look at Shabana Azmi's dresses and you will definitely be inspired sartorially. Her suits in the second half of the movie are as contemporary as can be. So watch the movie for some tips to glam up your ethnic wear.

Still need more reasons? Well, I would say wait for the comments below from the readers who have watched or will watch this movie :-)

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Movie Review: Philomena - A Heart-Tugging Classic

Rating 5/5

A COMPLETE Bollywood Loyalist, I rarely watch other movies. However, the limited choice of Bollywood movies on the in-flight entertainment systems often forces me to explore the world beyond Hindi Cinema. And I have been extremely lucky in my explorations - I always find a gem - Philomena is one of them. While the movie is a heart-tugging drama for the viewers, it is an example of serio-comic excellence for the film-makers.

Stephen Frears's Philomena is a truth-based story of an Irish lady in search of her son who was taken away from her when he was a toddler - she is the victim of the ill practices carried out in the name of religion at a convent.

Sure the story is emotionally gripping, but what makes this movie a classic is Judi Dench's acting. Watch her act and you will realize that acting is much more than powerful dialogue delivery. Dench's eyes do all the talking - the agony and yearnings of a mother are all beautifully expressed through her eyes. Coogan as Martin does a great job of complementing Drench's journey as Philomena. Their chemistry is effortlessly charming. The personalities of the two characters are poles apart, yet as the movie progresses the two develop a warm bond, giving the audience the feel good factor needed to cope up with the seriousness in the storyline.

The direction and screenplay too deserve an applause for stitching together three different stories so well - the story of the distraught elderly woman , of a jaded journalist and that of an adopted child. All the stories effortlessly merge together creating a lasting impression in the heart of the viewer.

For of you who like thought-provoking movies, this one will definitely give you some food for thought. The logic behind some shallow religious practices, the role of destiny in shaping our life's experiences, revenge vs forgiveness were a few themes that I picked up.

To conclude I will quote John Keats - "A thing of beauty is a joy forever". Does that not say enough?