VIRTUALLY REEL

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Raavan

Posted by virtuallyreel on June 19, 2010

In a religious country like India, where people have ended up fighting over Rama and Allah, it needs some courage to take up one of the two greatest epics written and show our worshipped Lord Rama having a grey side to him. It takes even more courage to start telling the story from the villain Raavan’s point of view and justify his actions. Mani Ratnam is his latest film does exactly that when he gives the mythological story a realistic setting in today’s world and twists the story a bit to make people sympathize for the villain of the epic.

Abhishek Bachchan plays an outlaw called Beera(Raavan) in the film. Though he goes against the law, the villagers believe in him, his actions, and his ideology which makes him a character like Don Vito Corleone or the Sarkar. The only difference is he is wilder than those. The wildness, ofcourse is to draw parallelism to Raavan’s character in Ramayana. He kidnaps Raagini(Sita) played by Aishwarya Rai Bachchan to kill her for reasons told later in the film. But instead of killing her, he starts falling for her beauty, her bravery. This is where we see the film getting similar to RGV’s Jungle where the lead bandit started falling for Urmilla Matondkar and starts taking wrong decisions.

Mani Ratnam goes back to what he is most known for and does the best, depicting violence and terrorism on screen. Though Raavan isn’t exactly a film about terrorism, its style is very similar to those. He might not have come back to his real best, but it seems like he is on his right way now after Guru where I thought he completely lost his way and like other directors got pulled and attracted by commercial brand of cinema. With Raavan, he seems to be coming back to his own.

The most pleasing thing in this film is the visuals, the cinematography. Santosh Sivan is really a master of camerawork. He has never disappointed me with his camera work. While Terrorist is his best piece of work for me, Raavan isn’t very far behind. Though shooting infront of the waterfalls, and naturally beautiful scenes makes it easier for him to make the picture look beautiful, he is equally good in indoor scenes and close-up shots. He and Manikandan make the film a visual treat and worth watching just for the visuals alone.

The acting is the most disappointing thing in the film. Both our leads look like they didn’t go into the skin of the character. While Aishwarya was busy screeching, Abhishek was overacting in most of the part. He was supposed to go over-the-top but he ended up overacting in most of the scenes.  It was really tough to play that monster-ous character which Abhishek Bachchan was portraying and only two people come in my mind who could have done justice to that role – Toshiro Mifune – he would have made the perfect Raavan IMO and the other is Min-sik Choi (after seeing his performance in Oldboy). Vikram played his role very well but his role was simpler than the other two. Govinda was miscast in this film. He was doing comedy in this film, jumping like a monkey form one tree to another (OFC, as a reference to the character of Hanuman in Ramayana) but it did not suit the film at all. I would have preferred a more serious character. Ratnam for once looked like he was compromising with the film just to give some comic relief to an otherwise dark thriller kind of a film. Even Ravi Kissen was there to provide some comic relief in the film. Priyamani was impressive in a very short but yet very important role.

A.R. Rahman gives a very different, aggressive and dark, wild music to this film. It suited the film’s atmosphere very well. Beera obviously was a bit like the title track of Omkara. Thok De Killi was wild. The soft songs, Behne De and Khlli Re, too were good. But I liked Ranjha Ranjha the most.

I think people won’t be able to accept this film for it challenges their religious beliefs and seeing Rama having a grey shade while justifying Raavan’s action will be hard to get the nod of general public of India. Ratnam indeed took a big challenge with this film. But I for one enjoyed watching the film and I bow to Ratnam for taking up the challenege and giving the story his own interpretation.

7/10

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Raajneeti – Disappointing

Posted by virtuallyreel on June 5, 2010

One of the most awaited films this year, due mostly to the director and the stellar star cast, Raajneeti carried a lot of expectations on its shoulders.  But here we are let down first and foremost by the director himself.  Prakash Jha deals with too many characters in this film and in the end it turned out to be a disadvantage for him and the film. I felt a few characters should have been developed more. Ranbir Kapoor’s and Manoj Bajpai’s character were among the very well written ones. Ajay Devgn’s character too had “dome” motive in the start, but in the second half even his actions were not well justified. Katrina Kaif was hardly even there in the first half.

The major problem of Raajneeti is the scripting; Jha gave more preference to how to bring in Mahabharata in the film than to concentrating on the current politics, which should have been the main plot. The elements and characters of Mahabharata should have been add-ons. He was concentrating more on the character of Dhrithrashtra who was a less important character in Mahabharata, at least if we are only using elements of Mahabharata in a different story to tell. And Raajneeti wasn’t staying so true to Mahabharata that it should have characters like Dhrithrashtra when there are only 2 Pandavas and Dhrithrashtra has only one son.

The film turns into an unintentional comedy because of all these extra doses of Mahabharata going on and a few more scenes of poor writing. Katrina Kaif saying “I love you” to Arjun Rampal and when Ranbir/Arjun’s mother tries to tell Ajay Devgn that she is his real mother are laughable moments. And in a film which is supposed to connect with the youth, who uses words like ‘jaisth’ (meaning eldest) in the dialogs –  “Tum mere jaisth putra ho.”

It also turns illogical sometimes, when you see a mother going to meet someone when she has just lost her son and hasn’t even performed the antim sanskar. The film really misses the word EMOTION. Everyone here including brother, sister, mother, father was more interested in politics than their personal relationship. It is true in politics, people are more concerned about winning and losing, but even a mother? I can’t take that. Katrina Kaif was married to Arjun Rampal because he was standing up for the post of chief minister. I don’t see why a father of a girl will sell her daughter to a person and give over 50 crores rupees as dowry; especially when her daughter is Katrina Kaif. And Katrina Kaif did not turn the match down, which again was unjustified. The script really needed more effort and even though the duration of the film was around 170 mins, it still was incomplete. Although after seeing how the things going in the film and emotional moments turning into hilarious scenes, I was happy it was left incomplete. It would haven difficult to take more.

The high points in the film were the characters who were all shown with some negativity except for the ladies in the film. Why such partiality Mr. Jha? But whether it was a Pandava or a Kaurava, they all had some negativity in them and were using wrong means to win the election. The highlight of these characters was the character of ‘Krishna’ (played by Nana Patekar). It was good to see Jha taking up the risk and showing the negative side of Krishna too.

The casting too deserves special points, though not the acting. The casting deserves special points as the actors were chosen in such a way that they can easily be related to real politicians. But though some non-actors did try their best to act, they still did not come up with convincing performances. Ranbir Kapoor and Nana Patekar played their parts very well. Manoj Bajpai was good too, but after seeing him perform in Shool and Satya, it must not have been difficult for him. For most part of the film, he was only shouting. Ajay Devgn wasn’t making much of an effort in his acting in this film. The character suited him and he could have played it even while sleeping.

Though we see a good amount of effort been put up in this film, the film still demanded a lot more. It looked like Prakash Jha got strained and gave up after sometime and completed it just for the sake of the efforts he put into it. The film could have been much better, but sadly it disappoints.

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Housefull – How big a loser are you?

Posted by virtuallyreel on May 4, 2010

Cast – Akshay Kumar, Riteish Deshmukh, Deepika Padukone, Lara Dutta, Arjun Rampal, Boman Irani, Jiah Khan, Chunky Pandey

Direction – Sajid Khan

Akshay Kumar, depressed with his life, swims for a very long time, until he gets tired and tries to commit suicide by drowning himself. Deepika Padukone, just like Clint Eastwood in Spaghetti Western films, comes out of nowhere, lifts him up and carries him towards the shore that is some miles away. And we call Akshay Kumar a Khiladi!!!!

The film starts with the most hilarious disclaimer of the decade. Sajid Khan mentions the names of 5 very important directors in Bollywood who have influenced him to direct films. And that includes Hrishikesh Mukherjee. Heyy babyy and Hrishikesh Mukherjee? HouseFull and Hrishikesh Mukherjee? Ohhhh, that was joke as the film is supposed to be a comedy. Such is the humor in the film that you yourself would need to find out the humorous moments if you want to laugh as the film hardly is humorous.

This is hardly an Akshay Kumar kind of comedy. If you want to watch Akshay Kumar kind of comedy, I think you are better off watching Jaane Kahaan Se Aayi Hai. He manages to make you laugh more in his two and half minutes special appearance than this two and half hours long film. Being a fan of his comic timings and his work in films like Mr. and Mrs Khiladi, Garam Masala, Bhool Bhulaiya, this one surely is a disappointment. The film mainly belongs to the ‘Timepass’ genre films which Sajid or Farah makes. While Farah tries to spoof The Matrix, Karz, Madhumati, Youtube videos in her films and manages to get some laughs, Sajid Khan straightaway copies them with no intention of even spoofing if he can’t get original. He plays the game of wife swapping in the film, something we just saw 6 months ago in All The Best. The game is not even half as funny in Housefull as in All The Best.

Five years ago, filmmakers in India started to feel that a film that does not have the King Khan has to have an item song to make it a hit. The latest trend in ‘Timepass-Filmmaking’ says a film has to have some gay humor in it. Housefull tries having both of them. And since it is a Sajid Khan film, he does not even try putting in efforts in the item song. Instead he simply took up an old Bollywood hit number and remixed it. Though it is wonderfully sung song by Mika, IMO, who manages to keep the craziness alive in the song, the video is very disappointing, thanks to the Arjun Rampal. For most of the film Arjun Rampal plays an angry man with one expression on his face, and for once he was asked to enjoy and he ends up ruining a song, How can one fail to get the right expressions in that song? It should have come out naturally given that song is so crazy. The video really missed the craziness I was expecting it to have.

Chetan Bhagat novels have the lead character as a loser who ends up having a girlfriend. Akshay Kumar plays a even bigger loser in the film, who carries a background song saying “He is such a loser” along with him, and brings bad luck to everyone who comes within 10 meters of his range; and ends up visiting Macau, London, Italy, attends a party in Buckingham place, stayed in one of the biggest house in London, has a very good friend in Riteish Deshmukh and 3 girlfriends namely Maliaka Arora Khan, Jiah Khan and Deepika Padukone. God, make me a loser too (preferably even bigger)!!!But this is a comedy. And as I said you need to find the jokes in the film yourself, if you want to laugh, as it only has hidden or unintentional jokes placed by Sajid Khan. Another example is the ‘Brada’ scene. The scene has Akshay Kumar leaving the house of Riteish Deshmukh and Lara Dutta, after arranging the house that he made a mess of, and replaces the Brada (parrot) which went inside the vacuum cleaner and died with a new Brada(tiger). The humor again does not lie in a parrot being replaced by a tiger or the scene, but the fact that he was leaving the house without even notifying Riteish and Lara that he has left a tiger.

For what actually was good in the film, I will have to start talking about Raavan and Raajneeti promos that were shown in the beginning. Apart from that, Chunky Pandey for once did entertain me in his extended special appearance. Though, he was sometimes irritating, but considering the other things in the film, his role and performance was better than the others. Lara Dutta and Riteish Deshmukh did act well, esp. in the ‘Brada’ scene. Boman Irani was wasted in this role. I agree with one of the critics (I think it was Raja Sen), that it is sad to see some fatherly figure like him to get slapped by younger actors. That is seriously not HRISHIKESH MUKHERJEE kind of humor!!! It was really sad to see him getting slapped in the film and play the role of Kanta Ben (Kal Ho Naa Ho) in the film. Lillete Dubey once more in her life plays the role of an old lustful woman. Deepika Padukone once again proves that she can’t act. So does Jiah Khan. While one of the songs copies the location of ‘Khuda Jaane’, the one with Jiah Khan is a mix of “Bebo Main Bebo” and “Yeh Mera Dil”.

The film has a watchable first half with a ‘Brada’ scene and Chunky Pandey act, and disappoints badly in the second half by having gay jokes, wife swapping act of All The Best and Arjun Rampal spoiling ‘Apni toh Jaise Taise’, and keeps going down to make climax the worst part of the film. I still have to find out the underlying humor planned by Sajid Khan in that scene. Was it Arjun Rampal winning an award for a brave soldier just like he won the National Award? Might Be. 🙂

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The Adventures of Prince Achmed

Posted by virtuallyreel on April 7, 2010

Eleven years before Walt Disney came up with its first animated feature film, The Adventures of Prince Achmed was made. The Adventures of Prince Achmed isn’t the first animated feature film made, but it is the oldest surviving animated film. Two other films, The Apostle and Without a Trace by Quirino Cristiani are considered to be lost.

The film uses Silhouette animation technique where the characters and other things appear dark while the background is light in color. The director of the film explains about how she animated her film using this Silhouette technique –

“…The technique of this type of film is very simple. As with cartoon drawings, the silhouette films are photographed movement by movement. But instead of using drawings, silhouette marionettes are used. These marionettes are cut out of black cardboard and thin lead, every limb being cut separately and joined with wire hinges. A study of natural movement is very important, so that the little figures appear to move just as men and women and animals do. But this is not a technical problem. The backgrounds for the characters are cut out with scissors as well, and designed to give a unified style to the whole picture. They are cut from layers of transparent paper.”

– Lotte Reiniger,Sight & Sound (1936).

The Adventures of Prince Achmed isn’t all about the effort put behind the animation and the technicalities. The story of the film is based upon the characters taken from different stories from the collection 1001 Arabian Nights and made into a fascinating tale on how Prince Achmed wins Princess Pari Banau from the evil African magician.

The film was full of imagination both in terms of story as well as the technique behind animation. Taking in different characters from different stories of Arabian Nights and making a good supernatural story with romance in it was a real treat. The film took 3 years to complete because of the animation technique, which required lots of effort to make the simple photographs of cardboard cutouts to appear in motion. The scenes are very much detailed and every movement is shown flawlessly and with lot of clarity. It was a lot more difficult to make the animation in those pre-computer days compared to today where we mostly make the animation digitally (I don’t mean digital animation is easy). It involved taking pictures of every frame of every movement a character or object is making and juxtapose them to make it appear in motion. Given that there are normally 25 frames a second, it means it required 25 different still photographs for every second of the film and putting them together with every photo differing very slightly from the previous one.

The importance of the film in the history of animation can well be compared to the importance Avatar is going to have in 3D motion pictures. It is a must watch for every animation film lover or even those who love supernatural stories like Aladin, etc. It might require patience as it is a very old animated film and the technologies have improved a lot since then, but I loved it as I saw a completely new form of animation which I was unaware of before. Also the runtime is just around 65 minutes, so it would not be too much of a problem. 🙂

To know more about the animation technique used refer to this link – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silhouette_animation

References – http://www.methodshop.com/video/reviews/prince-achmed/index.shtml

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Karthik Calling Karthik (2010) – Movie Review

Posted by virtuallyreel on February 27, 2010

Cast – Farhan Akhtar, Deepika Padukone

Direction – Vijay Lalwani


Every great magic trick consists of three parts or acts. The first part is called “The Pledge”. The magician shows you something ordinary: a deck of cards, a bird or a man. He shows you this object. Perhaps he asks you to inspect it to see if it is indeed real, unaltered, normal. But of course… it probably isn’t. The second act is called “The Turn”. The magician takes the ordinary something and makes it do something extraordinary. Now you’re looking for the secret… but you won’t find it, because of course you’re not really looking. You don’t really want to know. You want to be fooled. But you wouldn’t clap yet. Because making something disappear isn’t enough; you have to bring it back. That’s why every magic trick has a third act, the hardest part, the part we call “The Prestige”.

– The Prestige

Similar to magic tricks, a suspenseful story or play or a film has 3 parts generally termed as Act 1, Act 2 and Act 3, and having similar significance as the 3 parts of the magic trick. How about modifying the meaning of Act 3 a bit and instead of solving everything for the audience, for a change leaving it unsolved. I think it is better to leave some mysteries unsolved instead of ending them badly. Though the general audience may get disappointed because they want closure and mysteries to be solved so that they don’t think about the film at all, but not all mysteries in life get solved. IMO, Karthik Calling Karthik was just that kind of a film that would have worked better for ME if it was unsolved instead of ending in the ridiculous twist that was shown. I was hoping against hope that the director really would not reveal the twist and leave the ending open or something, because the way he was moving the story forward, I knew, the twist won’t be as exciting as the buildup was. But like I said, that would not have been generally appreciated .

The film is about Karthik (Farhan Akhtar) who blames himself for the loss of his brother in childhood and can’t concentrate and focus on his life and tries to commit suicide until he gets a phone call. Karthik Calling Karthik is a confused film, and is a clear example of a the director did not know how to carry the story forward after having thought of a brilliant idea. The film could have been a lot better if it was made into a horror thriller kind of a film just like 13 B. Instead the director chose to take the story forward in a very relaxed manner. A few scenes in the film could have really worked better if it had the horror touch to it. The concept suited the horror genre a lot. But in KCK, most of the scenes instead of giving a thrill, look more like an unintentional comedy. Like when Shefali Shah receives the phone call, I ended up laughing instead of being thrilled. I really think the film should have had that 13 B kind of touch to it.

Though I say the idea of Karthik Calling Karthik was brilliant, I must say it is very much inspired from Fight Club (David Fincher), just that we don’t see the alter ego of Karthik in this film; instead we hear his voice over the phone. I won’t call it a remake of Fight Club, it is hardly that, but yes the concept seems to be inspired. A major part of the film in the second half reminded me of No Smoking where the protagonist tries to run away from himself. But unlike No Smoking this film is not a surreal one and a confusing one.

Deepika Padukone might have looked hot yet again, but her performance was again disappointing. But more than her, it is the character she plays that disappoints. Her character in this film was more or less the same as her character in Love Aaj Kal, only a lot less important this time. She did not have much scope like Farhan in the film and all she had to do is look good on screen and dance to Uff Teri Adaa. A few scenes required a bit of acting, but she did not perform well IMO. Karthik Calling Karthik is another film where the female lead had hardly any substantial part to play in the film. With the plot mainly based on Farhan and the phone calls he gets, Deepika’s role was not given much importance. I am not saying her character was completely unneeded, but it could have been developed in a better way.

Farhan Akhtar tries to do a Surinder Sahni in the start. He plays a common man working in an office and tries to copy the mannerisms of Surinder Sahni until he goes through a complete makeover. Sadly enough, Farhan doesn’t have the charm of Shah Rukh Khan to carry off Surinder Sahni like the latter did. But once he goes through that makeover, he plays the confident character quite well.

In the end, I can only say I am disappointed with this film because the film could have been a lot more interesting and thrilling. Right now it is nothing but 2 hours of Air Conditioned Room and a Sofa Seat for the ticket price.

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Striker Review

Posted by virtuallyreel on February 26, 2010

Cast – Siddharth, Ankur Vikal, Vidya Malvade, Nicollete Bird, Aditya Pancholi

Direction – Chandan Arora

Chandan Arora’s new film is very much unlike his previous two attempts – Main Madhuri Dixit Banna Chahati Hoon and Main Meri Patni Aur Woh. While his first two films were quite good and simple, Striker looks to be a fake attempt in showing realism.

The main problem of Striker is that it has nothing new to offer except for the game being played. Siddartha plays an ambitious person who plans to go to Dubai to make it big in life. He falls into the trap of gambling and plays carrom to earn money. I never thought carrom is such a famous or popular game that people actually bet in lacs of rupees on it. And then we have the unneeded Mumbai Communal riots in 1992 in the film. The setting and the scenes were very much inspired from ‘Salim Langde Pe Mat Ro’ film by Saeed Akhtar Mirza. Also there are some scenes in films like when Surya and his friend chat with each other on terrace which reminded me of the chemistry between the two brothers in Slumdog Millionaire.

The best part of the film was the soft and sweet romantic track between Surya and Noorie. And with a mesmerizing song sung by Sonu Niggam. Sad the entire romantic track only lasted for a few mins. Why couldn’t he make the entire film on this sweet romance?? Simplicity is where Chandan Arora excels. Sadly, the romantic part was the only segment in the film that was worth watching.

I found the performances in this film very weak. Siddharth was good in a few scenes but could not emote the angry expressions very well. But he carried himself well in most of the parts. I found Ankur Vikal, who played his friend, a bit irritating. His character was very similar to Salim in Slumdog Millionaire. But he played that character rather badly IMO. Anupam Kher again was effortless in his role. Nicollete Bird who played Sruya’s love interest was the best of the lot and gave a very natural performance. But the worst performance came from Aditya Pancholi who was playing the main mafia in the Malwaani area. He did not suit the role at all.

I hope Chandan Arora gets back to form and simplicity in his next film where he excels. Handling too many characters and situations doesn’t seem to be his strength.

ALERT – Spoiler

The Mumbai Communal riot from where the film starts was useless and did not serve any purpose. In the end it became a Sholay kind of moment where Surya, after losing his sister just like Veeru in Sholay, goes around killing all his enemies on his own and in turn helping his society. But this did not help the story and the film in anyway IMO. It was just a lame way of ending the film.

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The Use of Pink – My Name is Khan Review

Posted by virtuallyreel on February 20, 2010

Cast – Shah Rukh Khan, Kajol, Jimmy Shergill, Arjun Mathur

Direction – Karan Johar


It is a late review of the film, so I am not writing everything about it. Most of the things have already been said about the film, so I don’t think it makes much sense to revisit them. The review might have a few spoilers as it describes a few scenes in the film.

For a change we have an Indian film where a character is suffering from a disease but we don’t have any lectures, or doctors giving lectures, on how the character would behave. SRK simply plays the role and lets the people understand on their own the behavior of the disease by seeing the mannerisms of the lead actor and hearing his voice-overs. The disease was never highlighted in the film and I really liked that fact very much.

Karan Johar tried to do something different in this film while still managing to bring in the right emotions. There is lot of emotional manipulation done in the film mostly in the second half. We can see Rizwan Khan feeling the pain of losing Sameer especially in the church scene in Georgia where he speaks about Sameer. SRK delivered a very powerful performance in the scene where he had to express sadness but could not cry because he had Asperger’s. He smiles while mentioning his son’s death and yet he manages to express his sadness. We can see tears in his eyes that were not able to come out because of his condition. In the penultimate scene where he finally meets Kajol in the hospital, a drop of tear that was waiting to come out for a long time finally drops from his eyes. So, even though the film had made some sacrifices when it came to the disease, it was very rich in emotions and worked well for me.

My Name is Khan may not be a perfect film, but it is a very brave effort by the team who almost pulled off 3/4 of the movie very well. There were some unwarranted moments like product placement of Reebok shoes in the film or the introduction of the lead characters in a suspenseful way. I don’t think that suited a serious film like MNIK at all. I don’t know what was the need for President Obama’s role in the film and if it would have mattered if SRK meets President Bush instead of President Obama. Introduction of Obama’s role unnecessarily extended the time period in the film from 2005 to 2008. Also I didn’t quite agree with the job of salesman that Rizwan Khan was asked by his brother to do. I read that autistic people don’t like meeting new people, but the job of salesman is nothing but meeting new people.

Also I don’t agree much with the screenplay of the film. I don’t think the film deserved a non-linear screenplay. It was a kind of film which should have been told in a sequential order so that the reason of the journey is clearer to the audience. It is clear to those who have seen the trailers of the film, but a few years from now, for a person who is completely unaware of the film and catches it on DVD, the non-linear timeline might not work too well.

For a change Shibani Bathija did a good job but again it was not perfect. The smaller moments like “Marry me” scenes were much better than the bigger ones like the hurricane scene. There were some cheesy dialogs like Kajol saying in the second half “Pyaar mujhe kamzor banayega, nafrat ladne ki takaat dega” which could have been written in a better way or simply could have been avoided because the film has been told mostly from Rizwan Khan’s prospective and the audience were made to sympathize for him. On one hand Rizwan traveled so much just because of her despite suffering from the disease, and on the other hand Kajol is made to say that line.

Almost everyone thinks that the Hurricane scene was useless and looked unreal. But I think the scene was used for a purpose and it served the purpose just like the Reservoir scene in Swades or the child delivery scene in 3 Idiots. These scenes were added in the films to make the character heroic in everyone’s mind. While the Reservoir scene worked well in Swades because it was film beautifully, the hurricane scene could have been made better though to make it look more real.

SRK and his chemistry with Kajol was the main strength of the film. While Kajol was very spontaneous in the first half, SRK played his character perfectly. In the second half, I thought Kajol was overacting a bit and the charm in her eyes and face was replaced by tears in the second half. I don’t know if her spitting ladoo in the ‘Sajda’ song was scripted, but her reactions were very spontaneous. SRK was superb in the entire film but the scene where he blushes after Kajol proposes and the church scene where he addresses people stand out as the best scenes in the film. The supporting cast – Jimmy Shergill, Arjun Mathur too played their parts very well. The songs were very well picturized and placed in the film.

Lastly – The use of PINK. Pink is so not my color. So, let’s leave it. 😛

I would say the film was 7.5/10. As I said, the film was good in most of the parts, but it wasn’t a perfect one. It could have been better. But it is definitely Karan Johar’s best effort.

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Ishqiya – A fun watch.

Posted by virtuallyreel on January 30, 2010

Cast – Naseeruddin Shah, Arshad Warsi, Vidya Balan

Direction – Abhishek Chaubey

Like other Vishal Bhardwaj films, Ishqiya too is a very bold film. No surprise, as it is directed by Abhishek Chaubey who used to assist Vishal Bhardwaj in his earlier films. Set in the rural areas of UP, near the border of UP- Nepal, it hardly shows any good thing about UP. Instead UP is shown as a state where most of the criminal and terrorist activities take place like manufacturing guns and selling them.

The narrative of the film is based on multiple story lines coming together in the end. We see two thieves played by Naseeruddin Shah and Arshad Warsi trying to escape their boss after stealing money. They take asylum in Vidya Balan’s home, she is a widow after her husband died in a fire explosion in their house. Both Naseeruddin Shah and Arshad Warsi fall in love with Vidya Balan. But their boss finds them and to add to their problems, the money too is stolen. Vidya Balan then proposes a plan where they can steal money from a rich person by kidnapping him. And both of them are left with no option but to accept the plan because of their problem and love for Vidya Balan. Once they agree to the plan, the entire thing showed prior to it becomes a MacGuffin. What is a MacGuffin? –

A MacGuffin (sometimes McGuffin) is “a plot element that catches the viewers’ attention or drives the plot of a work of fiction.”
Sometimes, the specific nature of the MacGuffin is not important to the plot such that anything that serves as a motivation serves its purpose. The MacGuffin can sometimes be ambiguous, completely undefined, generic or left open to interpretation.
The MacGuffin is common in films, especially thrillers. Commonly, though not always, the MacGuffin is the central focus of the film in the first act, and later declines in importance as the struggles and motivations of characters play out. Sometimes the MacGuffin is even forgotten by the end of the film.

It is very much similar to Psycho directed by Alfred Hitchcock where a girl steals money and tries to run away from the boss, but that is hardly something to do with the basic plot of the film. Similarly in Ishqiya, the two thieves running with the money has hardly anything to do with basic plot.

The problem in Ishqiya is that the plot of the film was very paper thin and is based on one word – ‘TWIST’. The entire film is constructed around that very word. Of course, I can’t reveal the twist here as it would spoil the film for those who haven’t seen it yet. Although a few smart things, like the old woman with a fire torch and every room having a cylinder, that are very significant in the end were added in the film, but overall the plot wasn’t very well handled and I felt the director should have made more effort in developing the plot if twist was the word Abhishek Chaubey had in his mind.

Set in a rural background like Omkara, Ishqiya is yet another very bold film from Vishal Bharadwaj’s camp. Though it isn’t directed by Vishal Bharadwaj, Abhishek Chaubey ensures that just like Vishal Bharadwaj, even Ishqiya doesn’t make any compromise in the language or the scenes to make it a family watch commercial film. However, this time unlike Omkara, the cusswords are added to the film for the purpose of comedy rather than them actually suiting the film and the situations. In Omkara, the abusive words sounded apt according to the situations, but here in Ishqiya, we see them just to add the shock value to the film. It was slightly disappointing to see that happen. But the film had some genuinely good funny moments apart from the abusive humor which they relied on a lot.

One good metaphor in the film was a nude statue of a girl hanging in the car and swinging to the beats of Ibn-e-Batuta while Naseeruddin Shah and Arshad Warsi were driving the car, which probably meant that these two are going to fall in the trap laid by a girl.

The characters of Ishqiya are the biggest positive point of the film. Infact Ishqiya is a character driven film rather than a plot driven one. The characters are very well written and every actor did justice to their characters. Arshad Warsi was providing some good comic reliefs while Naseeruddin Shah was mesmerizing to say the least. It was great to see him showing his romantic side even in this age. Vidya Balan like Kareena Kapoor played the role of a fair looking girl in a village, only this time she wasn’t ‘MASOOM’ like Kareena Kapoor. For why I said ‘Masoom’ in capital letters, watch the film.  Aprt from the lead three, the other actors like Jijaji of Naseeruddin Shah, Kakkad and the boy (don’t remember the name of his character) were very good.

The music and the songs of the film are the finest I have heard in a long long time. Dil to Baccha Hai is the best of all of them and very aptly placed in the film. The lyrics of that song are awesome. Ibn-e-Batuta, failed to create the same level of excitement in the film as it creates when seen without any video. “Badi dheere Jali Raina” is awesome and melodious. “Ab mujhe Intezaar Kahaan” is one of the finest ghazals I have heard. Rekha Bharadwaj has a great voice and should sing more often.

Overall, Ishqiya is a fun film to watch, but I would have enjoyed it a lot more had the plot was more strong and the cusswords were used in a better way and not just to add humor. Still, I must say Ishqiya is an exciting film and a must watch.

MACGUFFIN INFO SOURCE – Wikipedia.

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The Best of Adnan Sami

Posted by virtuallyreel on January 13, 2010

Adnan Sami started playing piano since the age of five. Sami began taking lessons from Pandit Shivkumar Sharma when visiting India during his school vacations. Indian singing legend Asha Bhosle spotted talent in a ten-year-old Sami at an R.D Burman concert in London, and encouraged him to take up music as a career.

As a teenager, Sami, when performing on the keyboard at a programme in Stockholm, was noticed by Keyboard Magazine as being the fastest man on keyboard in Asia.

Sami went on to learn Indian classical music from Maharaj Kathak, a Pakistani classical singing teacher and dancer. At the age of sixteen, Sami was approached to write a song for famine-hit Ethiopia for which he won a special award from UNICEF

He became the first person to play Indian classical music on the electric piano.

These, IMO, were the best songs by this exceptional talent –

Bheegi Bheegi Raaton me

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Rocket Singh – The Salesman Of The Year(2009)

Posted by virtuallyreel on December 14, 2009

Cast  – Ranbir Kapoor, Prem Chopra, Gauhar Khan, Shazahn Padmashee

Writer – Jaideep Sahni

Director – Shimit Amin


Who is Shimit Amin? The one who directed Ab Tak Chhappan or the one who directed Chak De! India and Rocket Singh. After watching Rocket Singh, I began to think is Ab Tak Chhappan more of a RGV Factory product than a Shimit Amin film? Is Chak De! India and Rocket Singh more of Jaideep Sahni films than a Shimit Amin film? Does Shimit Amin adapt himself to the company he works for? When he was associated with RGV factory he gave Ab Tak Chhappan that always looked like a factory product. When he moves out and teams up with Jaideep Sahni, his style of making film completely changes. I am not blaming Shimit Amin for making himself look adapted to the company he works for, I am just trying to figure out how much is Shimit Amin, the director, involved in making films? I wouldn’t call Chak De! India or Rocket Singh as regular Yash Raj films but yes, they have Jaideep Sahni written all over them. And I appreciate Shimit Amin not taking the credit for the film alone. Instead he has made sure that Rocket Singh is as much his film as it is of Jaideep Sahni. The first stills that came out of Rocket Singh had Ranbir Kapoor, Shimit Amin and Jaideep Sahni in it which is quite surprising. That itself showed Shimit Amin respects Jaideep Sahni for his contribution to the film. I haven’t seen such immense respect given to a writer before in Indian Cinema. Gulzar and Anurag Kashyap have got recognition for their writing too but then they probably got it once they entered the field of direction. Jaideep Sahni on the other hand is getting himself recognized only because of his writing skills and capabilities. We never heard the name of Shimit Amin alone whenever there was talk about Rocket Singh. We always heard Rocket Singh is from the makers of Chak De! India or Jaideep-Shimit duo are back.

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