Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Ek Vivaah Aisa Bhi

Some things can never change. And never will! One may have a very modern outlook towards life, but most of us continue to be very traditional at heart. Every Rajshri film is rich in emotions and mirrors the traditions and culture with utmost simplicity and understanding. EK VIVAAH... AISA BHI is no exception!

The present-day adaptation of Rajshri's own classic TAPASYA [Raakhee, Parikshit Sahni], EK VIVAAH... AISA BHI is a simple story of sacrifice that aims at pulling your heart strings. Every Rajshri film works for two reasons -- the storyline and strong emotions -- and EK VIVAAH... AISA BHI follows the tradition well.

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Of course, a story like the one in this film may seem regressive to the multiplex junta of metros, but the fact remains that cinema is all about narrating stories and EK VIVAAH... AISA BHI has a strong story to tell. Besides, there're ample moments in this film that strike a chord, that touch the core of your heart, that make you moist-eyed. And that's where this film scores big time.

It's really disheartening to note that family sagas have actually disappeared from the face of Hindi movies. Come, watch EK VIVAAH... AISA BHI with your family and re-connect with your roots!

Chandni [Isha Koppikar] belongs to a middle class family, living in one of the tiny bylanes of Bhopal. She lives with her father and younger siblings -- Anuj [Master Amey Pandya/Vishal Malhotra] and Sandhya [Baby Ishita Panchal/Amrita Prakash]. Chandni, who is deeply attached to her school-going brother and sister, is trained in classical and folk music. During a stage performance, she falls in love with Prem [Sonu Sood]. Prem hails from a rich business family.

Life is picture perfect, until on the day of their engagement, Chandni's father [Alok Nath] passes away. Suddenly, she becomes the eldest in her family. On one hand, her mehendi adorned hands beckon her to the dream home of her fiancé. On the other hand are her younger siblings whom she cannot take along. Chandni decides not to marry, so that she can raise her little brother and sister with self respect.

Prem understands her and waits for Chandni for twelve long years, until she fulfils all the responsibilities as an elder sister.

Debutante director Kaushik Ghatak [a known name on television circuit] remains faithful to the subject material and most importantly, captures the sensitive moments well. The tale of sacrifice has been witnessed time and again, but it works only if the characters make you cry, even weep. In the latter part of EK VIVAAH... AISA BHI, you can't stop tears rolling down your cheeks at several points in the story, especially the Raksha Bandhan sequence and towards the end, when the brother returns with his wife. Rajshri has placed ample trust in Ghatak and the debutante doesn't let you down one bit.

On the flipside, the music [Ravindra Jain] could've been better. 'Mujhme Zinda Hai Woh' is the only track that merits a mention. Also, too many songs in the first hour put you off after a point. Dialogues are good at places.

Both Sonu Sood and Isha Koppikar vie for top honours. Sonu is restrained, mature and acts the part well. Isha is first-rate, exuding simplicity and strength that this character demands. Alok Nath is very good. Ditto for Vallabh Vyas and Smita Jaykar. Vishal Malhotra springs a surprise. He's excellent. Chhavi Mittal is effective as the sister-in-law. Amrita Prakash doesn't get much scope. Anang Desai is okay.

On the whole, EK VIVAAH... AISA BHI is akin to a delicious Indian thali in times of Pastas and Pizzas. You may opt for international cuisine at times, but Indian food, for an Indian at heart, would never go out of vogue. At the box-office, expectedly, the film may start slow, but it has the merits to climb the ladder with each passing show. The strategy of releasing the film at single screens and that too at limited centres makes wise business sense, since EK VIVAAH... AISA BHI is not the multiplex kind of movie. Business at single screens of Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar should be the best

Thursday, October 30, 2008

'Fashion' is a fun family fare

Cast: Priyanka Chopra, Kangana Ranaut, Mugdha Godse and Arjan Bajwa

Director: Madhur Bhandarkar
Producer: Madhur Bhandarkar, Deven Khote, Ronnie Screwvala, Zarina Mehta
Rating: ***1/2
With his latest offering, Madhur Bhandarkar has proved that he has more than just facts to share. For Fashion, unlike his other movies, is not just a depiction of reality, but a story... a tale... and that too surprisingly a delightful one! Keeping in mind Madhur's delight quotient that is...

Kangana Ranaut opens the show, continuing from where she left in Woh Lamhe. She plays a devious supermodel Shonali Gujral (Gets really angry when her abusive boyfriend, more like sex and coke buddy, calls her crazy!), who ends up losing her career to an upcoming model Meghna Mathur (Priyanka Chopra) and to the much hyped addiction. She is admitted to a rehab for until the end of the movie. We will talk more about her later. That's for sure!

As for our heroine, who comes to Bombay... aah! Mumbai...from Chandigarh to fulfil her (mind you, not just model) but her supermodel dream, Madhur makes it an easier than miraculous ride for her. She gets her first show too fast too quick (Spare the lingerie advertisement... that's just for Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. Yes there are some funny moments here) and in no time, she becomes a top model! *Trust me girls, it is not that easy*. As for Meghna, she takes the other road, driving in the 'employee with benefit' lane with Arbaaz Khan, a fashion honcho, who escorts her till the top. (And keeps her there!)

But Fashion ka jalwa gets to our girl. She goes around insulting everyone (reason is not justified though, apart from what she calls "attitude") sparing not even her roommate cum part-time boyfriend Manav (Arjan Bajwa, a newcomer to look forward to definitely). She rubs Arbaaz the wrong way and result - her contract is terminated. And she has no friends for support either.

Her lifestyle changes drastically. She falls on alcohol and smoke, and takes to the junkie lifestyle. Drunk and high, she ends up sleeping with a black guy (*evil eye to the director*). That strikes her (the colour black) and she realises the mess she has put herself into.

Upset, she goes back to her parents. A year goes by; she gets psychological help! But then her dad (Raj Babbar) figures out that her only cure is that she must go back to Mumbai and start all over again. He advices her this, and she returns to Mumbai. Apologising to everybody in her contact list, she decides she will start afresh. She again gets an opportunity (she has the right friends!) but this time she messes that up.

She is broke in all means. It is here that Kangana resurfaces on the roads of Mumbai (you know where this is taken from). Meghna takes up her responsibility in repentance. She helps Shonali recover, and in the process finds her lost spirit. Let me not reveal the climax. Though it is very predictable but still it holds you. The same can be said about the entire film, very blatant in terms of story, but the director keeps you engaged nevertheless. So much so that despite the 170 minutes length, you still want the movie to not end (Though a major reason and credit for this goes to the look designers and choreographers. Voila! The girls look magnificent). It truly is fashion at its best.

Taking about the girls, Kangana Ranaut is unbeatable on the ramp. The lady burns it from the first step, making Priyanka look like a substandard replacement throughout. Way to go! Brilliant performance also as she justly personifies the madness of a supermodel in the most relentless fashion, using her dysfunctional accent as an asset once again and steals all the sympathy from Priyanka. As for Piggy Chops, she does her thing, yes, but then that's all she does. And I have to mention this, the lines on her neck are a turn off, make-up malfunction once again and also when you see the slim as a scale Kangana and Mugdha Godse (who looks pretty where she has to and has acted fairly), it is difficult to not notice her paunch. Buck up on that one sweety. You are a supermodel! Nevertheless, she has her 'oomph' moments of course, and has delivered a substantially grounded performance.

As for the detailing in the movie (Madhur's speciality), guess there is just too much to show, for he hardly covers all aspects of fashion, maybe touching some, but all that hoopla about revelations about the industry, there are none, apart from the usual gay, promiscuous and couch shades! Technicalities, fair enough, however cinematography had a lot more scope. The music is really good but is underutilised. But overall, damn the movie is a must watch. Your eyes are going to love this and so is your heart. And genuinely, there is nothing really 'adulty' about the movie. So go enjoy it with your family. Yes, I used the word enjoy. See for yourself!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Rafoo Chakkar - Fun on the Run (September 26, 2008)

The sole purpose of making laughathons is to transport you to ha-ha-land for the next two hours. The last few years has witnessed a barrage of comic fares and brainless comedies exploding on the Hindi screen -- some of them genuinely funny, most of them trying so hard to be funny.
Choreographer turned director B.H. Tharun Kumar's RAFOO CHAKKAR is yet another attempt at making you laugh. On paper, the concept had the potential to tickle your funny bone, but its celluloid translation is a put-off. Sure, you smile at the inane jokes at places, but the second hour falls to abysmal levels.

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Problem area? Scripting! Writer Ikram Akhtar's screenplay fails to maintain consistency from start to end. Everything's well laid out in the initial portions. In fact, the sequence of events that compel the lead men, in their early 20s, to marry women almost double their age keeps you entertained. But post-interval, the screenplay gets boring and humdrum. Sure, no one's asking for logic and common sense, but how about jokes, entertainment and amusement?

Munnu [Aslam Khan] and Pappu [Yudhishtir] are spoilt brats. Julie [Nauheed Cyrusi] and Millie [Nisha Rawal] are equally spoilt. In fact, all four are not interested in getting married and when forced by their respective fathers, run away from their respective homes.

While on the run, Munnu and Pappu meet and get attracted to Julie and Millie, not realizing that they are the same girls with whom their father [Ananth Mahadevan] had fixed their marriage. Another twist comes in the story when Julie and Millie are saved from a bunch of hooligans by Kokila [Archana Puransingh] and Koena [Mita Vashisht], two middle-aged sisters who hate men and never want to get married.

Kokila and Koena's father, who is on his deathbed, wants to see them married. He even incorporates a clause in his will that if they don't get married before they turn 45, the property should go to the trust. Kokila and Koena have only 24 hours to find the boys, get married and save their property because they turn 45 the very next day.

Munnu and Pappu land up at Kokila and Koena's house to rob them, but get overpowered by the sisters. This leads to their arrest and eventually marriage to the two sisters. All hell breaks loose.

Very few comedies have the ability to make you smile from start to end. That's one of the reasons why most comedies have proved tragedies this year. A joke here and a gag there isn't enough. And no director or actor, howsoever skilled and proficient he/she may be, can rise beyond the script. B.H. Tharun Kumar's direction falters for this reason. You do smile at times, but it has more to do with the witty one-liners [dialogues: Raghuvir Shekhawat] than the situations in the storyline.

On the music front, the title track at the start is foot-taping and well executed, but the absence of promotion takes its toll. K. Rajkumar's cinematography is passable.

Aslam Khan makes a sincere attempt. He seems more confident this time. In fact, his comic timing, at places, is just right. Yudhishtir tries hard as well and does reasonably well, but the rawness shows at several points. He needs to work on his expressions. Nauheed Cyrusi acts well, but Nisha Rawal has a long way to go.

Archana Puransingh is in comfort zone, since she's not new to comedy. But, surprisingly, Mita Vashisht looks out of place. Shakti Kapoor and Sadashiv Amrapurkar are wasted. Tinnu Anand is the best of the lot. Ananth Mahadevan is good.

On the whole, RAFOO CHAKKAR is a lacklustre attempt.