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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Great Movies of 2010

A little late perhaps, but better late than never (and hey, the oscars are not out yet either). So presenting Bombay Cinephile's list of awesome movies of 2010 (in the order of release)

Big caveat - since the name proudly proclaims the Bambaiya origins of the writer - the list contains movies released in Bombay in the year 2010 (which includes some movies which were released in 2009 worldwide )

Sherlock Holmes
There were three good Robert Downey Jr movies this year - but only one makes the cut. Even with a slightly disappointing mystery, this remarkable adaptation of the classic detective franchise by Guy Ritchie was one of the highlights of this year. The spectacularly visualized super-slo-mo fights, the rapid fire humorous exchanges (bromance?) between Holmes and Watson and the authentic 19th century sets make it a must repeat-watch

Paranormal Activity
The small-budget horror movie that made quite a few bravehearts skip a beat with its potrayal of an always lurking, but never-seen monster that terrorizes a suburban couple in LA. While it takes a while to build up that tension, the pressure mounts rapidly in the end and the sudden ending is sure to leave you shaken. And despite all my bravado, I dont think I want to sit through it again

Road to Sangam
A really touching movie that most people probably never heard about. Yet among the movies listed here, if I had to choose one that everyone should have seen, it would be this movie. A simple god-fearing muslim mechanic finds himself trapped between religion and patriotism when a motor engine that carried Mahatma Gandhi's ashes needs repairs and muslim leaders of his locality have downed shutter as a protest against the government. The writing is almost impossibly nuanced and deceptive, and the movie has many layers. And if you still need some more convincing, Tusshar Gandhi (Mahatma Gandhi's grandson) saw it fit to play himself in the movie for a substantial part.

In Wake Up Sid last year, we saw a wonderful coming-of-age movie - but in the candyfloss world of Yash Raj productions. Striker is raw, gritty, real-world coming-of-age movie, set in the 1980s in the slums of Malvani in Mumbai. A gifted carrom player, shackled by the crime and poverty, strives to make it big in life. Some wonderful cinematography depicting the 1980s era accurately and an award-worthy performance by Ankur Vikal in a supporting role - Striker is one of best kept secrets of 2010.

Up in The Air
After its nominations and awards, Up in The Air really doesnt need any words from me. A moody, melancholy film about a man who fires people for a living - and collects air miles with a passion. Till he meets someone who also collects air miles - and he thinks he has found someone who understands him ...

Love Sex Aur Dhokha
With Love Sex and Dhoka, Dibakar Banerjee has almost cemented his claim as India's coolest director by making this -ing awesome movie. Three stories, which can be approximately called Love, Sex and Dhokha respectively - although each of the three stories has all these three elements individually. The visuals are ultra-realistic (because of extensive use of handycam, spycamera and CCTV footage), actors are remarkably genuine and the twists in the endings are astounding. A definite must-watch movie

Already a recipient of several critics awards in many Bollywood awards ceremonies, Udaan is the other coming-of-age movie in this list. Equally gritty, but much more personal and melancholy than the first one, Udaan feels almost an autobiographical tale about teenage angst and despair under an autocratic father and in an alien land. Slow and brooding, but with an equally liberating and exhilirating end

Tere Bin Laden
The first light-hearted movie in this list. Some loser journalists in Pakistan stumble upon a Osama Bin Laden-lookalike and try to exploit the similarity. Recruiting a rag-tag bunch of friends, they set about making their fake Osama a real one. A genuine laugh out loud situational comedy made memorable with the Urdu-Punjabi mix and the antics of the murga Sikandar.

Again, gazillions of pages have been devoted to the enigma called Inception and I feel really incapable of saying anything that hasnt been said. The gifted director Christopher Nolan toys with the audiences, showing them a convulted story of dreams within dreams - where nothing is what it seems. And to top it all, he leaves a somewhat ambiguous ending - setting up the basis for heated arguments all around the planet. Intriguing and devilishly-clever

Peepli Live
Aamir Khan's first production which didnt have him acting. Peepli Live was a sensitive (and sarcastic) take on the hardships faced by farmers and the ridiculous extents our news media will go to cover a juicy story. In this case, it was the carrot of a live suicide of a farmer under a pile of debt. As the media frenzy increases, the Natha's home becomes a battleground/circus for various reporters and political parties. Yet, debutante director Anusha Rizvi ends the movie on a surprisingly nuanced and haunting note. A touching story which succeeds in making you think

Do Dooni Char
A touching middle-class story that harks back to the days of Hrishikesh Mukherjee and Amol Palekar movies. Do Dooni Char stars Rishi Kapoor as a middle-aged maths teacher, who like other middle class families, just barely makes ends meet. But when he decides he wants to buy a car, it sets of a chain of events which ends in reaffirming family ties and one happy Duggal family. Rishi and Neetu Kapor as Mr and Mrs Duggal make this movie super special - and a must watch

The Social Network
A movie that is more of a documentary rather than a feature film, follows the birth and rise of www.facebook.com and tells us the story of its founder Mark Zuckerberg. We get the inside story about how facebook might not be Zuckerberg's idea at all - and how alienated (and mistreated?) some of his closest aides. A fascinating docu-drama, with crisp dialogues and an enigma called Mark Zuckerberg

Phas Gaya Re Obama
Phas Gaye Re Obama happens to be another biting sarcasm, about the cottage industry of kidnapping in the hindi heartland of India. A down-on-his-luck NRI gets kidnapped by cash-strapped kidnappers languishing in the recession aftermath. However, there are bigger fish in the waters and a NRI is too good a bait to let go. Phas Gaye Re Obama is a delightful play on the subprime crisis, with some subtle comic situations and some outrageous guffaws. All culminating in a very intelligent ending.

Band Baaja Baaraat
And finally, my most favorite movie of this year ! A bollywood love story of two colourful individuals who are complete opposites - yet inevitably get attracted to each other. Filmed amidst the riotous colours of Delhi weddings and with catchy songs, Anushka Sharma and debutante Ranveer Singh steal hearts with their performances. And you go home with a wide smile plastered on your face

Honorable mentions

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Movies to look out for this week

127 Hours [IMDB]

A mountain climber becomes trapped under a boulder while canyoneering alone near Moab, Utah and resorts to desperate measures in order to survive

Cast: James Franco, Amber Tamblyn, Kate Mara

Direction: Danny Boyle

Dil Toh Baccha Hai Ji [IMDB]

Madhur Bhandarkar's attempt at a romantic comedy showing the extent to which three lonely men will go to avoid love or achieve it

Cast: Ajay Devgan, Emraan Hashmi, Shazahn Padamsee, Shruti Haasan, Omi Vaidya

Direction: Madhur Bhandarkar

Burlesque [IMDB]

A small-town girl ventures to Los Angeles and finds her place in a neo-burlesque club run by a former dancer

Cast: Cher, Christina Aguilera, Alan Cumming

Direction: Steve Antin

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In case you didn’t know, Tangled is Disney’s 50th animated feature film. It has been a long journey since Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, all the way back in 1934. And I really hope they go on to make another 50 of their fabulously entertaining movies which always seem to paint the world in such optimistic colors. The world could definitely use some of that good cheer

And there is plenty of good cheer in Tangled – from the delightfully cute Rapunzel and the roguish Flynn Rider to the animals Maximus and Pascal. Maximus and Pascal star as the amazingly funny yet cute animals that abound in all Disney movies in the last decade. There are too many to count – Bartok the bat in Anastasia, the cricket in Mulan, Louis the alligator in The Princess and The Frog and many more.

The Disney version of Rapunzel has her as a sassy, spunky teen who yearns to get out of her tower prison. For company, she has her chameleon Pascal and some magical lights which seem to float up in the sky every year on her birthday. Till one day, a thief on-the-run climbs into the tower to hide.

What follows is the typical Disney extravaganza of song & dance, color and laughter. The renderings are gorgeous and 3D adds a special flair to the visuals. The humour is integrated extraordinarily well in the screenplay – much to the joy of us moviegoers. Soundtrack duties are in the hand of 8 time oscar-winner Alan Menken – and results in two standout tracks. “Mommy knows best” and “I have a dream” are picturized memorably and will have you laughing through them or at least smiling widely

Very few movies get a ovation from the audience at the end – even fewer if they are animation movies. Yet the crowd at PVR Phoenix Mills on a Tuesday night saw fit to applaud this movie when the end credits rolled up – for being such a fabulous entertainer. If you are looking for a dose of good laughter and happiness this week at the multiplexes, give Tangled a watch. You wont be disappointed.

If you are planning to watch it in 3D, definitely do try to watch it in a PVR multiplex. The plastic 3D glasses they provide are of much higher quality than the disposable stuff provided at other multiplexes and provide a dramatically better visual experience
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Dhobi Ghat (Mumbai Diaries)

Over the last few years, Aamir Khan movies have become an automatic must-watch - so great has been his knack in picking the right scripts/directors and his dedication to his art. Dhobi Ghat though, is being sold more as a Prateik Babbar movie - with Aamir Khan and some other new faces in the other roles. My first instinct was that he probably has a minuscule role in it – and that is why he is appearing more as a producer rather than an actor. (There was also the male chauvinist in me who contemplated that maybe wife Kiran Rao coerced him into lending his name to the movie)

So it was without much expectations that I entered the theater to watch Dhobi Ghaat. Not quite sure what to expect from a 95 minute movie without any interval – but the implicit assurance was that if it is indeed terrible, the torture wouldn’t last long.

Yet, 10 min into the movie, I was engrossed in the beautiful cinematic rendering of four lives in this teeming city – from distinctly different social classes, backgrounds and stations in life – whose lives intersect in a short frame of time, changing much, and yet nothing. In those 95 minutes, Kiran Rao has sketched Arun, Munna, Shai & Yasmin in amazing clarity and details - yet all this she does with commendable subtlety. There is a lot that is not spoken in Dhobi Ghat – yet reading between the lines is never too hard.
(the contrast to Ashutosh Gowariker’s terrible characterization in Kheley Hum Jee Jan Se couldn’t have been more stark)

In the course of the movie - Arun the painter, Munna the dhobi, Shai the NRI tourist and Yasmin the young housewife – cross each others lives in ways they don’t quite fathom, precipitating certain events which become lifechanging. And yet, by the time the movie ends, you are not quite sure if anything did change. The slight tinge of melancholy throughout the movie is accentuated by the use of black and white frames in some places. And Kiran Rao shows her skill by making the ending bittersweet – but not without hope

For a debut movie, Dhobi Ghat has managed to strike an amazing balance between the four characters – giving each of them an equal amount of space – and importance – in the movie. However, Prateik Babbar definitely carries away the acting honors, showing what genes are all about. He is a fantastic natural actor, fitting into his role such effortlessly, he is bound to have a few people sit up and take notice. While he will never have the looks and flair of Ranbir Kapoor, he can give any of the young brigade (the Kapoor scion included) a serious run for their money as far as acting is concerned

The other two debutantes, also do a fabulous job – as the rich NRI kid taking a sabbatical in India and a newly-married housewife having just moved to Bombay – both Monica Dogra and Kriti Malhotra are very convincing & apt in their roles. And Aamir Khan delivers his flawless work as usual, his face telling you as much as his spoken dialogues. You just have to see the scene where he gets frightened and freaks out – without speaking a word of dialogue.

When you walk out of the movie, your head is filled with a torrent of thoughts – as you ponder on how each of the characters go on with their lives. Do Arun, Shai & Munna stay in touch ? Does Imran ever get the messages that were meant for him ? Kiran leaves you without definite answers to most questions. Yet in the course of the movie, she leaves you enough hints as to how things might pan out. The script is engrossing, touching and thought-provoking. And Aamir continues his ways of giving us a must-watch with his every outing.

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Movies to look out for this week

Dhobi Ghat [IMDB]

In the teeming metropolis of Mumbai, four people separated by class and language are drawn together in compelling relationships.

Cast: Aamir Khan, Prateik Babbar, Monica Dogra

Direction: Kiran Rao

Tangled [IMDB]

The long-haired Princess Rapunzel has spent her entire life in a tower, but when she falls in love with a bandit who was passing by she must venture into the outside world for the first time to find him

Cast: Mandy Moore (voice), Zachary Levy (voice)

Direction: Nathan Greno, Byron Howard

Season of the Witch [IMDB]

14th-century knights transport a suspected witch to a monastery, where monks deduce her powers could be the source of the Black Plague.

Cast: Nicolas Cage, Ron Perlman, Claire Foy

Direction: Dominic Sena

Little Fockers [IMDB]

Family-patriarch Jack Byrnes wants to appoint a successor. Does his son-in-law, the "male nurse", Greg Focker have what it takes?

Cast: Ben Stiller, Teri Polo, Robert De Niro

Direction: Paul Weitz


A look at the ugly side of ragging that goes on in Indian campuses. Manish Gupta's last work The Stoneman Murders was a nice little movie.

Cast: Vatsal Sheth, Tulip Joshi

Direction: Manish Gupta

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Movies to look out for this week

Yamla Pagla Deewana [IMDB]

A Canadian sardar suddenly comes to know that he has a father and brother back in India. And when the three meet, mayhem happens

Cast: Dharmendra, Sunny Deol, Bobby Deol

Direction: Samir Karnik

The Green Hornet [IMDB]

Following the death of his father, Britt Reid, heir to his father's large company, teams up with his late dad's assistant Kato to become a masked crime fighting team

Cast: Seth Rogen, Jay Chou, Christoph Waltz

Direction: Michel Gondry

Turning 30 [IMDB]

A single young woman decides to take stock of her life when she turns 30. A journey of finding herself and discovering love

Cast: Gul Panag, Purab Kohli, Sid Makkar

Direction: Doug Liman

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No One Killed Jessica

Just before writing this, I was watching the Koffee With Karan episode with Rani Mukherjee and Vidya Balan. It wraps up a very loud and aggressive promotion for this movie that Rani and Vidya have mounted – appearing on numerous shows (reality & otherwise), on nearly every channel. The promotion had needless sexual overtones – lesbian kisses and erotic thumb-sucking – completely at odds with the serious piece of moviemaking that is No One Killed Jessica. Though it raised the profile of the movie – making it visible to a larger audience (and probably got the single-screen audiences somewhat interested in a movie without a hero), I wished it had mounted a different kind of campaign instead of the regular publicity that marks every big movie.

Promotions aside, No One Killed Jessica is another of the well-intentioned movies that do not quite become great cinema. Based on the famous Jessica Lall killing and the public outrage caused by the travesty of justice, it has a great victory-of-good-over-evil story. But unfortunately that same well-known story becomes an impediment for it because it leaves it very little scope for taking liberties with the script. Although the disclaimers claim that it is a hybrid of reality and fiction, apart from dramatizing a coupe of characters, the story sticks to the original events as much as it can

The movie is divided into two clear halves. The first half belongs to Vidya Balan, the quiet and determined sister who will not give up on her sister’s killing. Running after recalcitrant witnesses and attending tedious hearings of the case that dragged on for several years, Vidya portrays Sabrina Lall with a stoic face and steely resolve – you can just feel that she is someone who you cannot budge once she has made her mind. A role without any histrionics, somewhat diametrically opposite to Rani’s – yet I appreciated her performance far more than Rani’s

Rani Mukherjee gets the bolder role – the abuse-spewing, hard-nosed journalist who apparently loves to be described as a “bitch” (don’t ask why). Her opening scene from Kargil tells us all we need to know about which real-life character she is inspired from. Thankfully, at least she didn’t crop her hair like Preity did in Lakshya. The second half of the movie belongs to her completely – and opposed to what their promos seem to suggest, Vidya and Rani have only two scenes together in the movie. Also, Rani’s loud dialogues seem a tad over-dramatized and distract from the seriousness of the movie.

Some other smaller characters make a super impression though. Shireesh Sharma, who plays the accused Manu’s politician father, does a very interesting job as the brooding, hesitant politician instead of the obviously-upto-no-good netas portrayed in our movies. So is the police inspector in-charge of the investigation, who again has a very interesting take on the corrupt cop. Also, Manu Sharma’s mother plays a hilarious caricature of a filmi-mom, with a single dialogue through out “Dekhiye ji, mere Monu ko kuch nahi hona chahiye”.

Director Raj Kumar Gupta shows some of his Aamir brilliance in No One Killed Jessica, but unfortunately cannot match the same taut tension of his debut movie. It is still a very solid movie, where your anticipation is heightened before many pivotal events – but somehow, he never manages to land a cinematic knockout blow. Even the climactic scene between Rani and Vidya turns out to be a damp squib. It is worth a watch to see how blatantly power can be abused in our country, and maybe give us apathetic young people a little wakeup call, but not for its cinematic genius.

3 star

P.S. - The Dilli track sounds super awesome in the multiplex
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Movies to look out for this week

No One Killed Jessica [IMDB]

A reporter teams up with the sister of a murdered model in order to bring her case justice

Cast: Rani Mukherjee, Vidya Balan, Rajesh Sharma

Direction: Raj Kumar Gupta

Paranormal Activity 2 [IMDB]

After experiencing what they think are a series of "break-ins", a family sets up security cameras around their home, only to realize that the events are more sinister than they seem

Cast: Katie Featherston, Micah Sloat

Direction: Tod Williams

Fair Game [IMDB]

Plame's status as a CIA agent was revealed by White House officials allegedly out to discredit her husband

Cast: Naomi Watts, Sean Penn, Sonya Davison

Direction: Doug Liman

Life As We Know It [IMDB]

Two single adults become caregivers to an orphaned girl when their mutual best friends die in an accident

Cast: Katherine Heigl, Josh Duhamel, Josh Lucas

Direction: Greg Berlanti

Impatient Vivek

Poor Vivek is smitten by a girl he meets in Goa. So when she rejects his marriage proposal, he along with his friends, kidnap the girl

Cast: Vivek Sudarshan, Sayali Bhagat

Direction: Rahat Kazmi

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Band Baaja Baaraat

“Bread pakode ki kasam !”, three weeks after I watched this movie, I still look fondly back at it – and wouldn’t mind paying to watch this movie again. An unabashed Bollywoody movie after a long time, full of song, dance, laughter & dollops of “Dilli-ness”, Band Baaja Baaraat is one of those vibrant romantic movies which make Bollywood what it is – a happy-dreams factory. In the process, Yash Raj finally found its mojo again and we might have found two potential superstars of the future

If a month after its release, you do not know the story of Band Baaja Baaraat, then you really have been living under a rock somewhere. But just to humour you, Band Baaja Baaraat is a romantic comedy set in a backdrop of weddings in Delhi – where the lead duo of Shruti Kakkar and Bittoo Sharma form their own wedding planning company Shaadi Mubarak. Their complementing natures make their venture successful, but the attraction of opposites is too hard to resist and love gets mixed with business – with slightly tumultuous results.

While the pace of the movie flags for a bit in the second half when the emotions run riot, Band Baaja Baaraat has a fabulous first half where the energetic and fresh Shruti meets the UP ka launda Bittoo (who is terrified of being dragged back to his dad’s sugarcane fields in Saharanpur). Newcomer Ranveer Singh is a complete natural and does a fabulous job as Bittoo – including his “binnesse” and love for bread pakodas. His confidence and screen presence are something some older actors might be jealous about. Anushka gives her best performance so far, as the bubbly girl from Janakpuri, decked in bright punjabi suits and fits like a hand in glove into the role.

Apart from the slight melodramatic post-interval section and the predictable ending, there is not much to nitpick in Band Baaja Baaraat (and which romantic comedy’s ending surprised you anyway ?). The supporting actors do their parts very well and the weddings are true-blue dilli weddings. The songs have been making waves, especially “chai mein dooba biscoot ho gaya…”

This is obviously not a serious movie, looking for critical acclaim. It is a light hearted movie with joy, laughter and an honest attempt at making you leave the hall with a nice smile on your face. In that it is fairly successful (I quite liked the ending credits). So if for some reason you missed catching this movie in the holiday season, it still has a couple of shows in all multiplexes this week.

(After 3 weeks, I might have selectively remembered only the good things, hence only 3.5 stars)
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Movies to look out for this week

Gulliver's Travels [IMDB]

Travel writer Lemuel Gulliver takes an assignment in Bermuda, but ends up on the island of Liliput, where he towers over its tiny citizens

Cast: Jack Black, Emily Blunt, Jason Segel

Direction: Rob Letterman

Ada ... A Way of Life [IMDB]

Another story of young souls lost in the life of crime. But with A R Rahman's music

Cast: Ayaan Ahmad, Nauheed Cyrusi, Saurabh Dubey

Direction: Tanvir Ahmad

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