Movies to look out for this week

Aashayein [IMDB]

A compulsive gambler wins the bet of his life, but finds out that sometimes life is much more than what meets the eye

Cast: John Abraham, Anaitha Nair (Aaliya Bose in Chak De India), Soanl Sehgal

Direction: Nagesh Kukunoor

Hello Darling

Three office girls put their wits together to thwart their lecherous boss' intentions and teach him a lesson or two

Cast: Gul Panag, Eesha Koppikar, Celina Jaitley, Javed Jaffrey

Direction: Manoj Tiwari

Crank : High Voltage [IMDB]

Chelios faces a Chinese mobster who has stolen his nearly indestructible heart and replaced it with a battery-powered ticker that requires regular jolts of electricity to keep working.

Cast: Jason Statham, Geri Halliwell, Amy Smart

Direction: Mark Neveldine, Brian Taylor

Vertige - Lignes de vie (Vertigo) [IMDB]

A group of friends get stuck on a high mountain trail and their attempts to escape result in more and more casualties

Cast: Justin Blanckaert, Abel Ferry, Nicolas Giraud

Direction: Benoît Vautrin
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Movies to look out for this week

Lafangey Parindey [IMDB]

A love story set amid a rivalry among bike gangs in the gritty streets of Mumbai

Cast: Neil Nitin Mukesh, Deepika Padukone

Direction: Pradeep Sarkar

Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore [IMDB]

The ongoing war between the canine and feline species is put on hold when they join forces to thwart a rogue cat spy with her own sinister plans for conquest

Cast: James Marsden (voice), Christina Applegate (voice), Nick Nolte (voice)

Direction: Brad Peyton

Bitch Slap [IMDB]

Three bad girls travel to a remote desert hideaway to steal $200 million in diamonds from a ruthless underworld kingpin

Cast: Julia Voth, Erin Cummings, America Olivo

Direction: Rick Jacobson

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Movies to look out for this week

In what looks like a series of apologies, here's one more. I am out of the country for work - only 2 weeks. So there wont be any reviews this weekend. Things will be back online next weekend

Peepli Live [IMDB]

Two heavily indebted brothers find out that the only way to save their land from being repossessed, is to benefit from the govt scheme which aids farmer-suicide families. However, word leaks out and soon the whole world cant wait to find out – will he, wont he ?

Cast: Raghuvir Yadav, Omkar Das, Aamir Bashir
Direction: Anusha Rizvi, Mahmood Farooqui

The Expendables [IMDB]

A team of mercenaries head to South America on a mission to overthrow a dictator

Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li

Direction: Sylvester Stallone

Dinner for Schmucks [IMDB]

When he finds out that his work superiors host a dinner celebrating the idiocy of their guests, a rising executive questions it when he's invited, just as he befriends a man who would be the perfect guest

Cast: Steve Carell, Paul Rudd, Zach Galifianakis

Direction: Jay Roach

Grown Ups [IMDB]

After their high school basketball coach passes away, five good friends and former teammates reunite for a Fourth of July holiday weekend

Cast: Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, Rob Schneider

Direction: Dennis Dugan

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Despicable Me

Despicable Me is one of those "Awwww so cute" animation movies which shamelessly use really big-eyed cute kids and cute furry little creatures to make you smile - and succeed big time at it ! While not breaking any new ground like Wall-E, it has its own adorable creatures - the Minions - tiny yellow capsule shaped creatures that scurry around making you smile at their antics

The plot of the movie is something only animation studios can come up with. An over-the-hill thief Gru finds himself being upstaged by a younger challenger Vector, who filches the great pyramid and replaces it with a inflatable replica. To one-up on him, Gru decides to steal the moon itself, using a shrink ray - which happens to be in Vector's house. To distract Vector, Gru adopts three cute little orphan girls, whom he intends to dump after he is done with Vector. But ofcourse, we know how it goes

Gru is voiced by Steve Carell, who brings a nice somewhat Russian accent to Gru - while the star of the show are definitely the Minions. Dedicated to Gru, but not above dumb antics, the movie is worth seeing for them alone. Wouldnt be surprised to see a sequel or a derivative of the movie starring the Minions. The animations look similar to Toy Story, and 3D is superflous to the movie - you can easily skip it and watch it in 2D. But between the melt-your-heart kids and the grinning Minions, you will definitely find something to love in Despicable Me.

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Movies to look out for this week

Aisha [IMDB]

Aisha loves making everybody's business her own business, especially link ups and marriages. Arjun just wants to save her from the impending disaster. But love does what it does

Cast: Sonam Kapoor, Abhay Deol

Direction: Rajshree Ojha

Despicable Me [IMDB]

When a criminal mastermind uses a trio of orphan girls as pawns for a grand scheme, he finds himself profoundly changed by the growing love between them

Cast: Steve Carell (voice), Julie Andrews (voice)

Direction: Pierre Coffin, Chris Renaud

Predators [IMDB]

A group of elite warriors are dropped into a jungle on a distant world, only to be hunted by members of a merciless alien race known as Predators

Cast: Adrian Brody, Topher Grace

Direction: Nimród Antal

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Once Upon a Time in Mumbai

While the soothing strains of Pee Loon have a very calming effect on me, I gnash my teeth whenever I come across a fawning review of Once Upon a Time in Mumbai - and there are quite a few of them around. For me, this movie stands for almost everything that is wrong with our Bollywood style of movie making. Dont judge me - I am not being an elitist. I love our desi movies as much as anybody else. I enjoy all the multiplex movies, the timepass movies and a long time back, even Priyadarshan movies. We have been making some very good movies recently - mostly small budget, but comparable with the best in terms of screenplay or plots. However, the one thing our desi filmmakers do not know how to make is serious movies - movies on serious topics, biopics etc - barring exceptions like Mani Ratnam maybe.

So when a filmmaker comes out with a mafia movie and acknowledges its based on the life of a famous smuggler Haji Mastan, its infuriating to find the movie full of inconsistent logic, wrong dresses/looks for its period and the general unprofessionalism that passes off in regular hindi movies. Its more infuriating because the story that is being narrated is really good - and the movie could have become a real masterpiece. Haji Mastan was indeed a larger-than-life figure who was loved and revered by many in the city. Instead, the movie is almost a caricature, an overwritten film, filled with inane flamboyant dialogues like "jinki manzil ek hai, woh raaste par hi milte hai" which amuse for sometime, but make you despair when you realize the movie is composed entirely of punchline dialogues.

Post independence, when India was trying to find its socialist feet, the permit raj and high import duties made smuggling a very lucrative business - and maybe even a necessary evil (esp during the prohibition days). In the 60s and 70s three names flourished in the Mumbai underworld - Karim Lala, Varadarajan Mudaliar and Haji Mastan. Haji Mastan was the most flamboyant of the trio, living on Pedder Road, hobnobbing with film stars like Dilip Kumar, Dharmedndra, Feroz Khan etc. and even producing & distributing movies. He even married a B-grade actress Sona (who still lives in Juhu). Varadarajan Mudaliar's life has already been immortalized on the silver screen by Mani Ratnam and Kamal Hassan in the mega-acclaimed Nayagan. Haji Mastan's life story had much more masala - if you can, do read up more on him. In a godfatherseque ending, he even chartered an entire Indian Airlines plane to bring back Varadarajan Mudaliar's body from Chennai to Mumbai, to honor his wish for last rites to be done in Mumbai. Haji Mastan himself died of a cardiac arrest in 1994

Once Upon a Time in Mumbai tracks the life of Sultan Mirza (Haji Mastan's original name was Mastan Mirza) as he grows up to become a notorious, but benevolent smuggler - a perfect robin hood. Always ready to help the poor, acting as a godfather for 'his' people - settling disputes, dispensing justice etc. All the while, driving around in a Mercedes, smoking expensive cigarettes and wooing top heroine Rehana. And ofcourse, always outsmarting the police. Alongside, it also tracks the rise of Shoaib, son of a police constable, who has a burning desire to become rich and famous fast at any cost - whose idol is Sultan Mirza (Apparently Shoaib's character is based on Dawood Ibrahim, but I couldnt verify the factuality of Shoaib's story). The blackness of Shoaib's heart is exploited by ACP Agnel Wilson, who sees his ruthlessness as the only way to break Sultan Mirza's hold on the city.

The story, as I have mentioned before, is pretty good (and also very similar to Company, if you noticed). But Ajay Devgan and Emraan Hashmi do well enough to make it appear a completely different movie. Kangana Ranaut looks nice throughout the movie (and thankfully nothing like a psycho) while Prachi Desai is just a waste - her character confused and irritating. Not to mention, the irregularities are more prominent for the female characters. Kangana keeps showing very generous amounts of (her admittedly meagre) cleavage throughout the movie, making you wonder whether you are looking at the 1970's or the 2000's. Agreed Zeenat Aman & Praveen Babi were in the 70s, but they were an exception, not the rule. And the outfits of Kangana Ranaut didnt seem consistent with the time, especially accessories like earrings etc which were glaringly modern. Prachi Desai's costumes arent a problem - she is clad in salwar kameezes like a demure muslim girl. However, her promiscousness is an entirely different matter. Openly necking and smooching Emraan Hashmi in broad daylight - who did that in the 70s ? And esp a muslim girl ? In which muslim localilty even today can a guy go over to a girls house and have sex whenever he wants ? Maybe if the girl is a prostitute or a 'loose' character - but Prachi's innocent face suggests nothing like it and neither does the movie.

Such glaring logical and detailing mistakes could have still been sidelined, if not for the atrocious dialogues. What starts off as good 70s masala fun with punchline dialogues like "Jab dost bana kar kaam ho sakta hai to dushman kyun banaye", becomes tedious after a while and you really lose it when even the romantic scenes are a exchange of such dialogues and metaphors ! And the director keeps the best for a speech in the last, including gems like "har kitab ki kismat mein library nahi hoti, kuch kabadi ki dukan mein milti hai" - but you are now groaning at the punchline overload. And this is the single biggest reason this movie doesnt work

On the plus side, there is one not-to-be-missed scene in the movie which deserves to be watched on youtube, if need be. Its Shoaib's introductory scene in the movie, when he is just a kid stealing coins from a public telephone. The kid's performance is fabulous ! Too bad he had just once scene ...

PS - The stature of people like Haji Mastan & Varadarajan Mudaliar can be best summed up by a quote from a senior police inspector "However powerful Dawood and other gangsters like Chhota Rajan are in comparison with Karim Lala, Haji Mastan et al, they cannot expect a peaceful death given the amount of hostility evoked by them"
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