Friday, 28 February 2014

Coupling My Review Shaadi Ke Side Effects

Director   Saket Chaudhary

Starring   Vidya Balan, Farhan Akhtar, Rati Agnihotri, Ram Kapoor, Ila Arun,  Vir Das

Saket’s debut film “Pyaar Ke Side Effects” was a fun ride, and the casting coup of Rahul Bose with Mallika Sherawat paid off.

After seven years, he returns with a sequel, with a different cast.  Shaadi Ke Side Effects.  A casting coup of a different kind, Farhan Akhtar, the suave metrosexual with the curvaceous  and talented  Vidya Balan.  The promos promised an interesting treatment of a stale premise.  A happy young couple very much in love and what changes when they get married and have a baby.

The first hour of the film is likeable, giving enough moments where you laugh and chuckle at the situations being faced by the husband Sid (Farhan) and wife Trisha (Vidya).  The dialogues are fun and the film flows well.

Farhan is perfect as Sid,  he looks and plays the part well. Vidya is back after  Ghanchakkar,  looking good and giving a solid performance. Both share a good onscreen chemistry and look like a real couple who has spent years together.

The story is predictable, but the situations and the dialogues (Arshad Syed) make it a fun watch.  Seeing a paranoid new mother and a reluctant father trying to keep themselves from almost killing each other over the right side of a towel makes you sympathize alternately between Sid and Trisha. As Sid finds an escape from the pressures of his life with help from his brother in law (Ram Kapoor), he realizes that life cannot be escaped from.

The film is from the husband’s point of view and they have used the voice-over of Sid to underline it.
The supporting cast is aptly cast, with Rati playing Vidya’s mother and Vir Das in a funny appearance as a struggling actor who has done only one ad in years of an obscure product “Panchmola” but is dedicated to his dreams. The surprise cameo is that of Ila Arun who is always a pleasure to watch.

As the film tries to delve into the travails of a married couple, the responsibilities that come crashing down on the husband and how a carefree romantic couple changes into a bickering pair… the married people will find a lot of things to relate to. The part where Sid also gets "Pregnant" is hilarious and such fun to watch. There are many other moments where very real dilemmas of an urban marriage are presented in an interesting manner.

Sadly, towards the last 45 minutes of the film, the situations start becoming contrived, the film loses focus and despite an attempt to add a twist and jerk, one has started shifting in the seat and looking at the watch.  What also doesn’t help are the forced songs in the film. Despite a good over-all narrative, you wish it would end soon. The repetitive actions of Sid in the second half hamper the pace.

But over all, the director is in control and despite the latter dragging part, he has done a good job.

In a nutshell, go for Farhan and Vidya’s natural performances, laugh while seeing a bit of yourself as you choose sides!  Oh and some ladies sitting in the row ahead of mine called up their husbands in the intermission to tell them they loved them!

My Verdict  2.5/5

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Ye Manzilein hain Kaunsi... My Review Highway

Director Imtiaz Ali

Starring  Randeep Hooda, Alia Bhatt

So how do you fall in love, what is the definition of attraction, how do you put a vibe in words... if you are familiar with these conundrums, Highway will not give you answers, but will definitely give you food for thought.

Highway is the story of Veera (Alia Bhatt) an Uber rich, young and somewhat rebellious daughter of a Delhi Industrialist. She is abducted 4 days before her marriage from the Delhi Haryana Highway. The kidnapper is Mahabir (Randeep Hooda) who runs his gang of goons running extortion rackets. He is a killer, brooding and rough. As they travel through Haryana, Rajasthan and Himachal Pradesh, they are on their internal journey too, which is beyond that of an abductor and abductee.

The film tries to explore at a languid pace the connection that is forged between Veera and Mahabir, improbable in the real world, but in the director's world, two broken pieces can try and make a whole.

Veera tastes real freedom while being captive, and Mahabir is captivated by the vivaciousness and innocence of Veera while controlling her life in this journey. As the film progresses, the hows and whys will melt as the characters prod you to open yourself to the "Now".

Alia is well cast, she has managed to erase the memory of superfluous Shanaya of SOTY with one broad stroke in Highway. A clean scrubbed look and a Body Language coach had a large role to play in this, also credited in the film. Her exuberance at the most unimaginable junctures of the film does not irritate you, her Veera is "like that only".

Randeep Hooda looks convincing with his scruff look and intense eyes. He delivers a solid performance, rarely missing the mark. Infact he is one actor who is becoming better and better with each film.

The film is not without flaws, but when it refreshes you, makes you part of the experience, I am not complaining. I will not be bothered by "this could have been done like that". That is the director's prerogative. Imtiaz chooses to not answer questions in black and white. Is it love between Veera and Mahabir? How is a girl seeing her captor as an object of affection and sympathy? etc. You can draw your own interpretation.

There are only two things which I found niggling me. A) The flashbacks of both Veera and Mahabir, which were not only unnecessary, looked patchy and out of place. B) The suddenness of Veera's recounting her troubled childhood to Mahabir. It comes too abruptly and feels manipulative.

As they travel together through the north, you get lost in the beauty of locales, captured stunningly by Anil Mehta. Rahman's music enthralls as Patakha Guddi plays and Sooha Saha Sa gets you misty eyed. Special mention for the stellar casting done by Mukesh Chhabra.

I enjoyed the ride. And the Himachal part of the film, I wanted it to never end. It reminded me of these lines of the famous song. "Ajeeb dastan hai ye, kahan shuru kahan khatam, Ye Manzilein hain kaunsi... Na wo samajh sake na hum..."

So here's to the traveller in us!

My Verdict  3/5 

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Khamakhaan Song Video Bewakoofiyaan

After the peppy and fun "Mujhse Fraaandship Karoge", director Nupur Asthana returns with this rom-com titled Bewakoofiyaan. The film is written by Habib Faisal of Ishaqzaade and Do Duni Chaar fame.

Starring Sonam Kapoor and Ayushmann Khurrana, he film will see the versatile Rishi Kapoor in a different avatar.

The song is a fun listen.


Saturday, 15 February 2014

I love you, Man My Review Gunday

Director  Ali Abbas Zafar

Starring  Ranveer Singh, Arjun Kapoor, Priyanka Chopra, Irrfan Khan, Saurabh Shukla

Gunday is a beautiful epic saga of two men in love and how they live only for each other.

It begins in circa 1971, with the creation of Bangladesh. Bikram and Bala are two friends who escape the clutches of the army after killing an army man ( 30 second role played by Manu Rishi) and helped by the man they used to run guns for (45 second role played by Pankaj Tripathi) who is later shot dead by the army.

They land in Calcutta and from here their journey begins toward being Gundas. From coal khadans to LPG to other kaala dhandhaas, they own the city together. They are very very angry young men, they blame the system for creating Bangladesh and making them refugees and criminals. They have become a pain in the ass for the Calcutta police. Enter Inspector Satya (Irrfan Khan) who takes it upon himself to destroy their mohabbat bhara rishta and get them behind bars. He has his own methods, including scientific approaches like Newton's. To make the very exciting going ons hotter and plumper comes the cabaret dancer Nandita (Priyanka Chopra). Little does she realize that she would wreck havoc in their lives. Will the very much in love Bikram and Bala defeat the world and stay united is the story. Will love over come the bizarre twists and turns the deep script throws at them? Oh, so exciting.

It is great to finally see some real on-screen chemistry. Two shirtless men with Spanish guitar strumming in the background, fight each other passionately and then gaze deep into each other's eyes. Everything in the film is in glorious slow motion, which enhances the over all appeal of their romance.

After the short 2.3 hours when the film ends, I was crying. Why they ended the film so soon, I so want more of this hitherto unseen ode to the 70's cinema. What a perfect potpourri of Kala Pathhar, Sholay, Dostaana etc etc etc. I am upset they spent such little money on this film that deserves a few more crores to put slow motion in the rest of it.

I will definitely go and watch it again. Oh wait, I am writing this from the theater only. Oh, I just woke up. I just dreamed all of the above.

O god, now I have to go home and write the real review.

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Dil-logical My Review Hasee Toh Phasee

Director  Vinil Mathew

Starring  Parineeti Chopra, Sidharth Malhotra, Sharat Saxena, Neena Kulkarni, Manoj Joshi, Adah Sharma

"Tum aa rahi ho ya jaa rahi ho?" asks Nikhil (Sidharth Malhotra) " Filhal toh phansee hui hoon" replies Meeta (Parineeti). That to me is the status of the main characters in the film. They are all trying to escape, trying to find happiness, trying to break out, but are stuck. Some in their madness, some in their weakness, some in their commitments, some in their expectations.

Hasee Toh Phasee as a title doesn't do justice to the film, which is so much more than a simple rom-com that you may go expecting, based on the promos. I guess they wanted a catchy, safe title.

We are introduced to a young Meeta and Nikhil, both good at using their sharp brains to do naughty stuff that leaves their parents and others agape. If Nikhil's father, a police officer (Sharat Saxena) is always angry at his antics, Meeta's dad (Manoj Joshi) encourages her by giving her more challenges to crack. We see them 10 years later where destiny makes them bump into each other at a Gujarati wedding Nikhil has run away from Delhi to attend. When he meets her, she is running away to Goa. They meet again seven years later, seven days before his marriage, unknown to him, to her sister Karishma (Adah Sharma). What follows is a heartwarming tale of bonding and bindings and breaking free.

It is a pleasure to see well etched out characters, each one leaving an impression, in roles big and small. The Gujarati side of Meeta sees Manoj Joshi as a lovable father, who doesn't see his daughter as deviation, but an extension of himself. The others are also know Gujarati television and theater actors. Sharat Saxena as a strict albeit funny Police officer is again in top form, one of my favorite actors. Another special mention must be made of the Anu Malik fan relative of Nikhil, who is a chalta phirta orchestra in himself. Bonus is Tinu Anand in a cameo!

Adah Sharma doesn't have a long role, but she is quite befitting the character of a girl who wants Nikhil to be successful at business, like her dad, and breaks off with him at the drop of a hat. Sidharth is pleasant on screen, is learning fast and gives a convincing performance ranging from a fun loving young man, to a responsible fiance who doesn't shirk from his responsibility and commitments made. The routes he takes are dubious at times, but heart always in the right place.

Now coming to Mental Meeta. The film stands firmly on Parineeti's shoulders. She has me besotted. Not one second in the film when she is there, I could take my eyes off. Perfectly cast, in an author backed role, she has proven she has more to her than just bubbly, feisty characters she has been playing till now. Her Meeta makes you laugh, roll your eyes, cry, feel frustrated, wanting to hug her as she plays one of the most vulnerable characters seen in recent times. As a Chemical engineer from IIT, who is different from her sisters, is not understood, ridiculed and has run off on her sister's wedding causing her father to have a heart attack, she has found solace in anti-depressants. Her facial tics, her motor fast speech and then sleeping with a wet towel on her stomach to ward of hunger pangs.... this girl has worked hard on her performance and it shines. Her graph grows, pretty much like her hair, styled differently for each stage. From a unkempt boy-cut to a more styled long out curls towards the end. Her tooth-paste eating, battery fixing, vada pao craving madness has a lovely method to it.

Sidharth and Parineeti make a good pair, from innocent friendship to a deep bonding to love... they grow comfortably together. The film is full of tender moments, my favorite, the one where she is locked inside a room and Sidharth finds her later (Look out for it!)

The film's story doesn't follow the typical pattern, sometimes not logically tying threads together, not giving you certain answers, specially the long portions where Karishma is totally missing, but I did not find them big enough for me not to like the film. To see a character like Meeta in a mainstream film itself is paisa wasool for me. To see a female protagonist so flawed yet so endearing, reminds me of Raat Aur Din, Sahib Biwi Aur Ghulam's iconic ladies. And this one still has a long career ahead if this performance is any indication. After Shuddh Desi Romance, this is another avatar you will see of Parineeti.

The film is fresh, the director totally in command, full marks to Vinil Mathews for that, the dialogues are a high point (Harshwardhan Kulkarni, Anurag Kashyap, Vinil Mathew and Purva ). Sanu's camerawork is getting better with each film. The music by Vishal Shekhar is good, specially Zahenaseeb, which sounds even better after watching the film.

What seems like an old story of boy meets girl and by the time realizes he loves her it is too late, gets a fresh lease of life in a way most interesting is Hasee Toh Phasee.

Watch it for Parineeti's scene stealing performance in a very very endearing character. And for some mad moments!

My Verdict 3.5/5