In a Country like India where Cinema, Cricket & Politics are the 3 most popular areas of interest for most people (along with religion of course) it is always exciting to look at anything important in these 3 broad areas. In recent times there seems to be a sort of marriage of Cinema & Cricket as by now we have seen quite a few Indian movies with a cricket theme. Continue reading
If there were lines of poetry, written by someone, and he were describing innocence, naughtiness, magic, and dreams, his description would begin with extracting silk from rays of light, painting clouds from dispersed water droplets, autumn leaves hazed out by smoke, floating joy in the evening mingled with all colors of the spectrum. That’s precisely the magic of “Barfi!”. In cinema, the greatest subject, as we have learnt, is the face of the human being, where characters talk, not through words they speak, but through their eyes. And slowly, poetically, lyrically, they come closer, and closer.
This, is that artistic film, where characters, if they talk, they do it via expressions, they don’t simply speak it out. When Shruti (Ileana) tells us that, when she first met Barfi when her parents got relocated to Darjeeling, we are told his back story, of how he earned his name, or how he cried in mute, or he couldn’t listen to shac-shacs, all through a song, the song that refuses to be sentimental, even if there is a devastating reality told, it is still charmingly sweet and amusing. And this is where the film succeeds. It avoids unnecessary schmaltziness, over sentimentality and melodrama, well, almost.
The beauty lies in its moments, and there are plenty. Because every time when it is evening, the frame is never completely lit, but it does gradually, slowly, the lights are turned on, or sometimes, suddenly. Or sometimes, minor details are shown by the moving headlight of the steam train, and suddenly they are hidden again. And the steam train, or fog, or haze, everything that is used to add beauty of this film, seems to be taken from a dream and when everything is so imaginative, and this visual flair is added to the non verbal flow of emotions amongst the characters, you know that the director, Anurag Basu, is gifted, the film is superlative and his cast & crew is ready to give in total commitment, perhaps, they have.
But then sometimes, that isn’t enough. And this film falls short, somewhere. This film, no matter for how long it tries to stay away from melodrama and superfluous show of weakness of its characters, and that pitfall of a film about physically/mentally challenged, it goes straight into it. Just, as another love story takes off. When Barfi tries to help her childhood friend Jhilmil (Priyanka Chopra) who is shown mentally challenged. And this triggers a plot, the greatest weakness of this film. And the focus of the film diverts from the chemistry amidst the characters to the plot, and there this film stumbles, and continues to stumble, even if it drags, in the second half, and drastically towards the end. Perhaps, whenever Ranbir Kapoor Joota Phakes Leather, the movie’s dil goes chicha ledar (he throws his shoe high up in the film, to signal his presence, to call Jhilmil).
Still, even if the unnecessary plot reduces the overall impact marginally, even if Priyanka Chopra isn’t half as effective as she could be (though I must say she isn’t bad, she is just not good enough), this film still gives us that rare magical cinematic elegance, as Scorsese told us in his own dreamy masterpiece, Hugo, cinema can be used to create and capture dreams, that we just don’t find in Hindi movies these days. And this film gives us that, along with characters who don’t speak, they widen their eyes, they squeeze it, they have a very beautiful grin on their face when they meet, and they look at each other, for a long time, or they don’t, even if they do, it is more than visible that they are thinking about something else, even if they are seeing something, they are thinking something else.
And this was just not possible without the tremendous effort put in by the technicians. The magic wouldn’t be half as effective if it was not properly shot by Varman’s far more than effective imagery, or Poddar’s authentic production design, or striking costumes, or Pritam’s & Amitabh Bhattacharya’s songs. And score, those scenes, would have terribly missed the background score, even if Pritam pays homage to Michael Giacchino’s “Married Life” from the film “Up!” when Ranbir Kapoor throws his shoe high up for the first time, still when the whole film pays homage to Charile Chaplin and The Notebook, I don’t mind that with the soundtrack too, it really works, more than most of the times when we produce the cacophonous ear drum exploding score.
And the actors, Ranbir Kapoor outdoes, everyone we have in our industry, everyone. It is this performance we as an audience, and this character he as an actor of this calibre, deserves. It is unique, subtle, powerful, enchanting, with his shoulders high above all, all in this film. Ileana, who most of the times, as her character demands, is plain vulnerable, and she does her part so well, that seeing what and how Shruti goes through makes your heart melt. Priyanka Chopra, falls into the pitfall, perhaps her story, which forms the major part of the film, is the weakness, and the culmination, because it reduces the overall impact, also makes the experience tiring to some extent, she does it fine, if, first of all, her character sketch wasn’t overdone, secondly, her story supported her well, either of the two don’t happen and only weaken the film.
Still, for every fiber of light that floats in the air, saturated color that literally moves in the forms of costumes, players of the skit in a traditional marriage, or a refracted image through a transparent sphere of glass, the whole film feels magical, every subconscious calculation that directs a physical movement, or every test of loyalty is bizarre and funny in its own way, and it is rich and dense and colorful. For that glossy imagery, masterful expressions, and cinematic purity, where characters feel more than they think, “Barfi” as a film must be applauded. It would be a masterpiece, if only Barfi hadn’t thrown his shoe, so high up.
When I booked my review for BARFI!, of course there was a lot of excitement that led to the decision. However, there was an apprehension, “What if I don’t like the film? What if the film falls flat on its face just the way KITES did?” Continue reading
Now if politics was this funny we would all be voting, but alas we are surrounded by imbeciles and buffoons in this great nation who literally/physically fight with each other in the name of democracy.
Anyway, that rant aside for those who love Will Ferrell (how can you not!) and his and his quirky sense of humor (Talladega nights, Step Brothers, Anchorman, A Night at the Roxbury….the list could go on) and those who consider Zach Galifianakis funny (Hangover, Due Date) are in for a special treat in this movie. Continue reading
Could a movie have a better cast? Probably not!
Could the movie have been made better…sadly, Yes!
For those who saw the first part, I feel sorry for you guys going to see the second part in the theatre hoping for something different. I mean with 12 men in Hollywood who could probably displace Earth of its axis if they jumped together on it and if you went in looking for a movie like Shawshank Redemption you are probably not only barking up the wrong tree, in all probability the tree is not there anymore and you are probably barking at a branch of the original tree you wanted to actually bark at. Continue reading
When the Bhatt’s had released Raaz in 2002, the horror genre was nearly defunct in Bollywood. The movie which was a lift of Hollywood hit What Lies Beneath, featured Bipasha Basu and Dino Morea and it was the second biggest hit of the year. Vikram Bhatt who directed the initial Raaz has continued to find success in this genre with movies such as Haunted and 1920 doing well at the Box Office. The second installment of Raaz franchise was directed by Mohit Suri and featured Emraan Hashmi in the lead and interestingly Continue reading
Last week, a colleague put me under tremendous pressure by asking, “I’m sure you must have seen The Great Debaters? Arre, the Denzel Washington movie, quite old, you know?” I mumbled that I shall be watching it the coming weekend. When I started watching the trailer on YouTube, it did not impress me much. Apart from the fact that it had Denzel Washington and Forrest Whitaker in the lead, it looked like one of the many movies on racism. What got me hooked, however, was the last credit which said, “Directed by Denzel Washington”. I decided to give it a shot. Continue reading
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It begins with the song from the iconic TV serial, “Kyuki Saans bhi kabhi bahu thi”, and suddenly the TV is burst open by gunfire, the area is deserted, while a man tries to escape and one of the men with a gun kills him. They close all the open shops in that street and evacuate the place signaling a possible firefight, they locate a house and open fire, throw grenades inside the house, fire randomly, tirelessly and to verify if there is a survivor, the leader of the clan simply makes a phone call to check if anyone receives it or not, inside a traditional restroom a bunch of people who have the phone don’t receive it, and the hoard of people firing and exploding to kill are so naïve and overconfident that they don’t go inside the house to even verify whether anyone is alive or everyone is dead. We know at the end of the film that this scene will be featured in the next part and such a severe flaw hints early on that part-2 will not be as good as part one.
Part one, how good it actually is, is another question altogether. But as an experience, it shows us a world, unseen, heard a lot but never experienced, and it comes to life. Where every statement is twisted, every human being living is angry and everyone is an opportunist. A world, where one sees, that way of life here is to live like an animal and inside this dirty land where people breathe coal and speak foul, everyone is capable of being the lion in this jungle, all one needs to understand is, if there is loss, there is vengeance, and for every act of vengeance there is a possible enemy and to defeat him, is to become powerful.
It begins when a villager impersonates an iconic dacoit. The villager, Shahid Khan, is caught very soon, and forced to exile from his village. He joins a coal mafia and a potential politician, Ramadhir Singh, who very quickly understands that this villager, iron fisted, vengeful and angry, is useful but ambitious who plans to overthrow the politician, he gets him killed by the people from the family of the dacoit, Sultana Daaku, or the Quereshis or the butchers from that village. But what remains behind, is his brother, his brother’s son and the most precious truth for which he fought the world his son Sardar Khan, whose mother dies at the time of childbirth, who needed prompt attention, that shahid couldn’t give in, because he wasn’t allowed out of the coal mine and by the time he could fight his way out, it was too late.
And this beginning, lasts over 40-45 minutes and how spectacularly it unfolds, it draws us in. In one of the scenes, when Shahid impersonates the Dacoit, Sultana Daaku, he stops the train and tells him, “patra utra sab ukhaad diye hai chcha, chalaaiyega to bheetar chale jaiyega” (uncle, we have pulled out all the rails, you go forward, you go down), such impactful this line is, that since the movie, if anyone really achieves something in his real life, people refer this line, that he could pull out the rails.
Or a scene when an angry Shahid brutally kills those guards who don’t let him out of the mine, a fist fight so visceral that leaves you with Goosebumps.
The humor, where Sardar’s wife finds him in a brothel and he pleads in front of her that he was manipulated, or the way they talk amongst each other, they tease each other, they challenge each other and try to bring them down, even in the angriest of the moments, the brutal moments, they are funny in their own honest way, every line dialogue meant to tease, meant to annoy and for us audience rooting for our amoral hero, meant to amuse.
Even when Sardar in one of the scenes when he tries to flirt with Durga, a woman character who seduces him, he simply says, “itna badi ho gayi ho, byaah nahi hua hai” (you have matured pretty well, still unmarried?), or imitates her when she washes clothes. The chemistry when he knowingly returns from the shower ,that he does openly, wearing a langot and gamchi, durga with those lustful eyes she relishes his built, sometimes openly, sometimes while she is hiding.
This world, where jealousy, envy, vengeance and anguish build the characters, where even moral acts are done because of the hunt for power or to hamper the ego of the opponent, all the colors seem plausible and loveable. That panache with which each character executes it and brings his own bit to the character, makes this world worth visiting worth fighting for.
Like years to spend and places to visit, characters grow and time is spent, this movie moves forward from one character to another, one generation to another, we see a city grow and children turn into youngsters. That coal mafia leader, following his success to a lavish businessman into a powerful politician, now, whose business and political stance being hampered by the continuously interfering Sardar Khan, calls the Quereshis back, into the picture, but then, a girl from the Quesreshis marries Sardar’s eldest son. Khans move on to better things than mere vengeance and establish better business and look for better life. Much to the dismay of the eldest successor, betraying his family, being the politician’s mule kills Sardar Khan. This marks the end of two things, the overtly amoral and always loud Sardar Khan, and one half of this huge saga, and marks the beginning of new generation of men ready to seek satisfaction from their enemy’s devastation.
New generation of youngsters join this story, ready to take on this city and emerge as lions of this jungle. Unfortunately, even if every character is new, every character has got his own style and lavishness, it is, once again, characters, talking in that Sarcastic dialect, teasing, irritating, annoying, having fun, forcing their strength on others, uncaring about the rest of the world and all they are thinking is their selfish interest, and nothing wrong with that, but, to the makers, people, we’ve been there, seen that.
So we begin, with a youngster, who dies seeking revenge and in a very Sonny Corleonesque way the younger brother takes on the family and promises eye for an eye. Now once again we have business, we have people hating each other, we have a newer generation of people who are fond of movies, the lead hero, who is doped but not once we see this world through his eyes. Rather in part one we are shown for some time, whenever he comes on screen, of how he sees this world, but not here.
Gangs of wasseypur part one, primarily, dwells in that lawless land, its dwellers fighting amongst each other, meeting, talking, hating, doing business, trying to save each other, trying over power others, trying to live big. In its true terms, Part one, acknowledges Gangs of Wasseypur, and explores the gangs as such. Part 2, is a mere continuation, and families dwell and fight, even when they have settled, or rather agreed to.
So how do the makers take it forward, force another twist? They introduce another character. This guy brings in business, profit and money, but as they say in this film, the guy holding the reigns now, Faizal knows nothing about business, he knows profit. So this new character, Shamshaad, brings money and again we have a new enemy. And then we bring the old enemies back. How do we do it? We introduce another character, Faizal’s youngest brother Perpendicular, and he brings in more conflict. But then we have to bring in the actual villain back into the picture right? After all he needs to die to end this story, how do we do it? We introduce another character, from the part one, we had Sardar khan’s illegitimate son, so we add him too. Alright, so we have a herd of characters, we have the setting right; we have researched it well, so we have the humor right, all we need is, we just have to give each character some space to breathe in, and we have a new film altogether. In between we add slow motion shots, because Anurag Kashyap is directing so we have a chase sequence, prolonged chase sequence set to chicha ledar, but it isn’t half as captivating as the one in Black Friday. We have hero heroines sharing chemistry, but still the scene where he asks permission continues to be more effective than every scene they share together irrespective of the goodness of the scene where looks older than he should or she sings to make him feel good.
This, introduce a new character, and take the story forward technique exists in the first film as well, but it was something absolutely new, and unseen, it compels to go into the scene, but here after the 2 hours 40 minutes of that experience, the same sense of humor, we know of, the world we are familiar to, and the business that grows and the hatred that continues, it continues on and on and on forever. Kids are born, they grow up and cause problems for each other, they become each other’s enemies, and this happens over and over and over again since the beginning of the first film till the end of the second film and this becomes repetitive in nature.
One man grows in the field of crime, he has an opponent, he is killed, his son seeks vengeance, he harms his enemy, enemy gets him killed with help of his enemy’s enemy, who becomes the friend, so that one man’s grandson takes over, he grows, he earns more enemies, the grandson seeks revenge, he gets it, but one of his illegitimate brothers become his enemy and he wants vengeance from his father’s family and more power in his life so he kills his half brother, the remaining members of the family are killed in process, those alive leave the town.
Or in simple words, one man grows, another man pulls him down, another man grows become the kingpin, the first man’s son pulls him down, that son grows, then he is pulled down, then that son’s son grows, he is pulled down, then his brothers grow, one of them is pulled down, another half brother is introduced, everyone join hands to grow, but bring the kingpin down, and ultimately everyone goes down, ultimately all I want to say is “patra utra sab ukhad gaya chcha, itna picture chalaya ki bheetarhe chala gaya”
All this set to a contrasting superb soundtrack, shot aesthetically, humor set in right place and tone filmed properly, but it is the same god damn thing, ultimately it is Anurag Kashyap’s overkill that burdens this picture of boredom and that uniqueness and quirk is lost, it looks so god damned conventional in such a perspective that you have this attitude towards the film where you say, alright budd, I know you are funny, you are angry, you are stylish but enough man, go get that dud killed, get yourself killed and let me buy a ticket back to my place, enough of wasseypur. Seriously, at the end of it, you need a new place to visit, new people to meet, new point of views to discuss.
Another major problem with Gangs of Wasseypur-2 is, in this film, only two characters seem complicated enough, Pankaj Tripathi’s Sultan, and Zeishan Quadri’s Definite. Every other character is allotted so little poetry to him/her that you just can’t build much of an opinion for them. All the characters are grey and nuanced, but still you don’t get lot of time to study and observe, you are asked to see the action, character arc is disjointed. In part one, the 2 primary characters, shahid and sardar have a complete lifecycle, they breathe, they get angry, they tease, annoy and they fight and they Die. After a point in this film, specifically, part 2, no one dies, they come and then more come in and then more come in. And to end one’s story there is a new one introduced. More plots, little characterization and more jumps make it disjointed and impacts cohesion. It’s like throwing more tomatoes on the wall, but after all a stained wall is a stained wall, staining it further won’t make it dirtier or shocking.
Characters no longer drive the story, the setting does, the dialogue does, the music does, the technique does too, but no, not the characters. This makes in for an overtly underwhelming experience. Ultimately, it turns out to be just a film, it is good, but it’s just not great. The scale, the vision, idea and everything is unique, and it’s too much of uniqueness takes its uniqueness away. It becomes a conventional wasseypury film.
When initially the film’s character was Sardar’s character, it looked and felt like the film portraying superfluous Sardar Khan, the music too supported him there. Later on, when Faizal was meant to be central character, there is a bunch of central characters, and the colour retained from the previous film, mixed with so many new ones which ultimately tone it down and it is a done deal, this film feels too bland and anecdotal. We get an unfocussed, distracted overlong epic, which hops from one mini plot to another. After a while it doesn’t matter, it will reach somewhere, somehow.
This epic, full of characters, is saved by its ensemble. So many, so talented actors grasp all the nuances, within whatever space they get to breathe in, and flourish. The way they look at each other, they talk to each other, doesn’t matter when Manoj Bajpai on loud speaker announces he will demolish the whole Singh family, or when Ramadhir Singh tells his son, again and again that it is beyond him to succeed as a politician (especially the scene in part 2), or when Zeishan Quadri Bombards Shamshaad’s den with a grenade disguised as kashmiri apple, or when perpendicular simply robs a jewellery shop, every actor has his moment, every character has his scene, or her scene. Richa Chaddha till the end of the saga speaks through her eyes and her mouth whenever required, her anguish is most relatable and she stands out as the female lead, along with Huma Quereshi’s Moshina, only one character in front of whom, even Faizal gets his heart in mouth or misses catching his cigarette by his lips. Saba Parveen is indeed the sweetest of the lot and the way her demise is portrayed it leaves you devastated. Pankaj Tripathi’s Sultan, the most complicated and the most nuanced of the lot is the truest villain of this feature and deserves to be applauded.
With Anurag Kashyap’s indulgence, that exists mostly in part one, and very little in part 2, every, well composed shot or dramatically crafted scene, for every soundtrack playing the role of another parallel narrative, it is ultimately, like recurring Yashpal Sharma, it becomes a repetitive film, where every laughter seems forced after some time, many scenes seem unnecessary and feels far too long, it is all in all, an average film, with occasional brilliance, Gangs of wasseypur may be produced with a lot of love and care, it indulges the best parts of the film over and over again, it becomes too boring and uninteresting ultimately, by the time this story ends, you do not retain a lot from this visit to wasseypur and move on, just too soon.