Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara

Most of us are lucky enough to have one set of friends (usually from school), among whom the grownup business doesn’t hold much sway. With them, you are always juvenile – your jokes, reminiscing about school incidents – and your laugh is unfettered and unabashed. Doesn’t matter if you are not in regular touch anymore – you may as well be meeting after years – but it takes you just 5 minutes to find that old frequency and start from where you left off. Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara is a cinematic ode to those friendships

It has three friends, on a three-week vacation to Spain as a sort of bachelor trip, after one of them, Kabir (Abhay Deol), is engaged to be married. The trip was a pact the three had made in their schooldays, where all three will pick one adventure sport each and the other two have to do it. And yes – this backstory about the trip is totally lame and unrealistic – but the movie gets much better if you decide to just ignore this wee bit

Once the premise is laid out, the movie moves to firmer ground as the equations between the three friends is slowly revealed. Arjun’s (Hrithik Roshan) fixation with making money (he is investment banker, of course) clashes strongly with Imraan’s (Farhan Akhtar) tomfoolery while Kabir plays the mediator between the two. Soon they bump into the movie’s fourth cog – Laila (the luminous Katrina Kaif) – the diving instructor, who exhorts Arjun to see the world apart from money. After all, what if you don’t live till forty, she reasons ?

And this is the second unrealistic bit in the movie – as Hrithik starts seeing all the colors in the world after his first deep sea dive. But it does the movie good as Hrithik finally lets his hair down and soon all three friends are at their chummy best. The first half of them movie with Katrina is also the most enjoyable part as Imraan finds himself a Spanish chick and there is bagwati of course.

But just like its predecessor Dil Chahta Hai, everyone has his inner demons to combat and we are introduced to their conflicts one by one. Hrithik’s was the first, but Imraan’s baggage is the heaviest and Kabir’s is the one most unwilling to confront it. But each sport in turn, leads to each one of them come to face with their issues and resolve them – culminating in the final climatic bull run

But it is the juvenile tomfoolery between the trio that warms your heart. From bagwati to their petty one-upmanship to impress Laila, Hrithik, Farhan and Abhay strike the right chord in us. Sure, comparisions to Dil Chahta Hai are inevitable. But slight similarities is characters aside (Aamir-Farhan, Saif-Abhay, Akshaye-Hrithik), Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara is an endearing light hearted movie which has its own story to tell and will definitely succeed in making you smile

If nothing else, then at least for Farhan, Hrithik and Abhay reproducing the old Doordarshan just-before-the-Sunday-1pm-movie music

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With Ready pushing all other movies out this weekend, filmgoers this weekend have very little choice if they are not enamored by Salman’s swagger. Hanna was the only Hollywood movie releasing this week and we figured it couldn’t be worse than Ready. Turns out, it isn’t – but not by much

Hanna is a 16-year old teenage girl, being trained by her father in a remote frozen corner of Finland. She has been there all her life, getting coached in foreign languages, learning to hunt, fight, and survive by her dad Eric, a rogue CIA operative. She has never seen civilization and neither has she been in contact with anyone else – no friends, nothing. And she is yearning to go out to the real world – to satisfy her curiosity about things her father reads out from an encyclopedia every night – and to fulfill her mission for which she has been training all her life

Soon she gets her wish and she reaches the real world – but finds her dad hasn’t trained her enough, when she meets a touring British family – who’s daughter is her age and she makes her a friend.

Partly a thriller and partly a humanizing story of a trained assassin-child, the makers of Hanna have given away most of the story in the trailer itself. Meaning, it has a two-line plot – which can more-than-easily be compressed into a 60 sec trailer. And that was the movie’s biggest failing. It has good action sequences – and the opening scene in the frozen artic was very eye catching, but the rest of the movie is just too simple. You keep on waiting for that giant twist you know is coming, because surely the movie cant be so straightforward. Yet after 100 min, when the end credits roll, you find yourself really disappointed

The movie touches nicely on the surprise to Hanna when she makes her first contact with fluorescent tubelights, tv and fans etc, but that angle isn’t explored much beyond that. On the flip side, the director has a penchant to shoot segments in slow-mo, capitalizing on the very unique soundtrack by The Chemical Brothers. It comes across as trying very hard give the film an arty look. Overall, not worth spending your money on. Catch some of the previous weeks releases if you can.

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Reason for no posts

Been quite a while since regular reviews were seen on this blog, isnt it ?

Apologies to the two people who still visit the blog regularly
First it was the lull induced by the cricket world cup which made the movie release tap run dry. Then when the releases spluttered back to life, I took off on a 10 day holiday

And now that I am back from the holiday, it it some other personal issues which is taking up time. With so many good movies released last weekend, I am really behind the curve on new movies. Will take a couple of weeks to catch up ... Read More!


Cowboys and westerns never held too much charm for me - and I can count on my fingers the numbers of westerns I have seen. This year's oscar frontrunner True Grit has been the only western that I have really appreciated - and that was because of the brilliant portrayals of Rooster Cogburn and Mattie Ross by the leading actors. But back to our movie of the day - Rango - play on the famous 1966 movie Django perhaps (one of the few I have seen).

Rango is a through-and-through western, right down to the last gunslinger, only told through the medium of animation. The small town of Dirt, in the midst of the western desert, is populated by rodents and reptiles - who are having a difficult time as water is drying up. Enter Rango, a chameleon who is not quite sure who exactly he is - but with tall tales of valour and a lucky encounter with a hawk - earns himself the badge of Sheriff of the town

But he still has to unravel the mystery of the missing water. And impeding him are the Machiavellian mayor of the town and Rattlesnake Jake, a machine-gun toting villian. All of these set up for a climactic standoff in the main street of Dirt

While most animation movies tend me to make light fun out of movie genres, Rango is a serious tribute to it. Hence missing are the jokes, the laughter and the feel-goodiness of a usual Pixar presentation (this is neither a Pixar movie nor Disney). All the jokes are very dry and this is anything but a movie for kids. The animation is of extremely high quality though - it is fun to try and identify each of the animals. The movie itself has a somewhat dark edge to it - not as much as Persepolis or Waltz with Bashir, but similar. Rango didnt work for me at all, even though I loved the other two. Am really not sure who this movie is for, apart from the classic western fans

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7 Khoon Maaf

After turning several of the Bard’s works into Hindi cinema masterpieces, Vishal Bhardwaj chose to work on an Indian story this time. His choice of Ruskin Bond’s Susanna’s Seven Husbands is consistent with the dark theme of his previous movies. The high decibel promotion of the movie had made all and sundry know that it is about Susanna killing all her husbands and the implication automatically is that it a murder movie or a thriller of sorts. However, 7 Khoon Maaf turns out to be a brooding movie about a woman’s simple desire to find true love – and her sadness at her repeated failures

Of course, this is just a movie and debating on the justification of killing off husbands is completely useless. So leaving that aside, it is quite charming to see the life of an rich Anglo-Indian lady (in what is presumably Panchgani), living in her ancestral bungalow, surrounded by antique furniture, a horse stable and even having a church in her own grounds. She is loyally served by her butler, maid and her father’s old stable-hand throughout her life – even in the inexplicable deaths of her husbands. All the three staff do amazingly well – especially the mute stable-hand/jockey. And without spoiling the fun - the maid is a surprise to say the least.

All the husbands are from different walks of life – and they each represent one unique aspect of the man of Susanna's dreams. But they are all flawed in some way - and it proves fatal for them. Except for John Abraham’s rock star act, all the other husbands perform exceedingly well – never letting you guess how or why it all goes wrong. The standout among them is Annu Kapoor as inspector Keemat Lal and the russian Aleksandr Dyachenko.
[Just to show that women can never be satisfied - unlike men who just want only one thing :D]

Priyanka gives this movie all she has got in acting. Which makes for very engrossing watching. If I had to pick a flaw, it would not be in her acting – but the person that she is. Priyanka is very good looking, and can act fairly well – but she comes across as very straight and open. There is no mystery about her – that intangible mystique – which you just can't fathom, Paeans have been written by poets throughout the ages about this very aura of mystery around women - and Susanna was one character which demanded that mystery. Like Smita Patil did in her times – and what Tabu has in this generation. Tabu would have blown everyone away with this role.

Linking all these stories up is debutante Vivaan Shah as the orphan boy whose schooling Susanna sponsors – and who is also the narrator for the movie. His fresh face somehow lends a little more credence to his story of a childhood crush – and hence contributes significantly to making the story believable.

Vishal Bhardwaj has not pushed any boundaries with 7 Khoon Maaf – which people have come to expect of him given his body of work. It is a linear account of the life of Susanna Anna-Marie Johannes and her loves. As with all of Vishal’s previous works, 7 Khoon Maaf is brooding and dark, but Susanna connects with the viewer much more than any of his previous lead characters. It makes you feel her initial euphoria of getting married, then her despair, and finally her resignation to fate. All of it adds up to a movie with soul.

3 star

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Movies to look out for this week

7 Khoon Maaf [IMDB]

The highly anticipated Vishal Bhardwaj movie adaptation of Susanna's Seven Husbands by Ruskin Bond. It has Priyanka marrying 7 times in the movie as each of her husband seems to die

Cast: Priyanka Chopra, Neil Nitin Mukesh and John Abraham

Direction: Vishal Bhardwaj

Rabbit Hole [IMDB]

Life for a happy couple is turned upside down after their young son dies in an accident. Based on a play by David Lindsay-Abaire

Cast: Nicole Kidman, Aaron Eckhart, Dianne Wiest

Direction: John Cameron Mitchell

Gnomeo & Juliet [IMDB]

Garden gnomes Gnomeo (voice of McAvoy) and Juliet (voice of Blunt) have as many obstacles to overcome as their quasi namesakes when they are caught up in a feud between neighbors

Cast: James McAvoy, Emily Blunt, Maggie Smith

Direction: Kelly Asbury

I Am Number Four [IMDB]

John is an extraordinary teen, masking his true identity and passing as a typical high school student to elude a deadly enemy seeking to destroy him. Three like him have already been killed ... he is Number Four

Cast: Alex Pettyfer, Timothy Olyphant, Dianna Agron

Direction: D.J. Caruso

How Do You Know [IMDB]

After being cut from the USA softball team and feeling a bit past her prime, Lisa finds herself evaluating her life and in the middle of a love triangle, as a corporate guy in crisis competes with her current, baseball-playing beau

Cast: Reese Witherspoon, Paul Rudd and Owen Wilson

Direction: James L. Brooks

Kaccha Limboo [IMDB]

Bheja Fry's director Sagar Bellary next venture. It is about a teenage kid Shambhu's struggle with adolescence and its associated baggage.

Cast: Bhairavi Goswami, Iravati Harshe, Chinmay Kambli

Direction: Sagar Ballary

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Yeh Saali Zindagi

When I watch gangster capers like Yeh Saali Zindagi, I am never quite sure how to go about reviewing the movie without giving away the essence of it. Because none of these movies have much of a story in the traditional sense. But they make up for the lack of a depth with their moviemaking style – and packing the script with quirky characters

Which Yeh Saali Zindagi has by bucketloads. Beginning with Irrfan Khan, a crooked account par excellence who helps arms dealers, politicians and other unsavoury characters stash away their moolah. He might be exceedingly clever in the ways of the world, but the wiles of women are completely beyond him, as he discovers, hanging from his 30th floor balcony in the opening scene of the movie. Holding the end of the rope is his boss, Saurabh Shukla – who doesn’t think much of the womankind and their wily ways – and nor does he care about his promises to his employees.

The opening scene of the movie might be a bit of a shock to some – given the coarse and vulgar language in it. Sudhir Misra’s writing and editing is crisp – so you have to follow the movie carefully to understand the twists and turns of the script. Those squeamish about vulgar hindi words are better off not watching the movie – and those with weak hindi should probably brush up their abuses. Because the dialogues in Yeh Saali Zindagi are really profane – and all the fun is lost if you don’t understand the dirty jokes – of which there are plenty

The humour is irreverent (and of course very rustic). Death and violence are casually treated, and the background narration by Irrfan adds dry deadpan humour to the proceedings. There are mandatory backstories for most characters – and jumps between them quite abrupt – hence requires full concentration.

Essentially there are two stories running in parallel in the movie – Irrfan & Chitrangada’s love track and Arunoday & Aditi Rao’s marriage track. Irrfan and Chitrangada need no introduction. Arunoday is ex-Cabinet minister Arjun Singh’s grandson while Aditi Rao is the bua from Delhi 6. Both of them are quite the revelation – Arunoday showcasing his good physique and acting and Aditi Rao coming across as quite smouldering despite her cute Nauheed-Cyrusi-looks. Infact there is a constant sexual tension between her and Arunoday, resulting in about a dozen slaps and two dozen liplocks in the movie

But Chitrangada Singh takes all the male attention as the sultry and smoking-hot singer Priti. She forms the linchpin of the movie – not very different from her debut movie Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi – where two men are vying for her charms. The difference is that Yeh Saali Zindagi has a busload of other weirdos – gangster brothers Bade & Chhote, corrupt cop Satbeer and the motley group of henchmen.

This is not Sudhir Misra’s most serious movie by a mile – but the director seems to be having fun here. There script is manic, punctuated by languid frames of Chitrangada - yet there is an air of nonchalance through out the movie which stands it in good stead over other movies of its genre. In comparison, Kaminey feels almost formulaic. And because of its exaggerated eccentricity, this movie will not appeal to everyone. But if you keep up with it, Yeh Saali Zindagi will reward you will a tumultuous thrilling ride packed with a lot of fun.

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Movies to look out for this week

Yeh Saali Zindagi [IMDB]

A gangster caper about a strong-man who wants to do one last big job before settling down with his wife, a gangster who desperately wants to escape from jail, a crooked accountant in love with a unfaithful singer and lots of other desperadoes

Cast: Irfan Khan, Chitrangada Singh, Arunoday Singh

Direction: Sudhir Mishra

Sanctum [IMDB]

An underwater cave diving team experiences a life-threatening crisis during an expedition to the unexplored and least accessible cave system in the world

Cast: Rhys Wakefield, Allison Cratchley, Christopher Baker

Direction: Alister Grierson

Biutiful [IMDB]

Acclaimed director Alejandro Iñárritu's latest movie about the mean side of Barcelona. Nominated for Best Foreign Language oscar and best actor oscar

Cast: Javier Bardem, Maricel Álvarez, Hanaa Bouchaib

Direction: Alejandro González Iñárritu

Inside Job [IMDB]

Takes a closer look at what brought about the financial meltdown. Nominated for best documentary Oscar

Cast: Matt Damon, William Ackman, Daniel Alpert

Direction: Charles Ferguson

Utt Pataang [IMDB]

Another gangster caper, populated by stalwarts like Vinay Pathak and Saurabh Shukla, about a money deal gone wrong and five individuals stuck at one place at one night

Cast: Vinay Pathak, Mona Singh, Mahie Gill

Direction: Srikanth Velagaleti

Alpha and Omega [IMDB]

Two young wolves at opposite ends of their pack's social order are thrown together into a foreign land and need each other to return home, but love complicates everything

Cast: Hayden Panettiere, Christina Ricci and Justin Long

Direction: Anthony Bell, Ben Gluck

United Six [IMDB]

Six girls in Bangkok, out of desperation and frustation, decided to try and rob an bank. However, they realize that its not quite a cakewalk and quit, only to find the bank was looted and they are the suspects

Cast: Isha Batwe, Daisy Bopanna, Pooja Sharma

Direction: Vishal Aryan Singh

Hum Dono [Rangeen] [IMDB]

A reluctant Mahesh takes the place of his lookalike Major Verma when Major Verma goes missing in action in Burma War. However Mahesh's love life goes for a toss between his girlfriend and Major Verma's wife

Cast: Dev Anand, Nanda, Sadhana

Direction: Amarjeet

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