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Friday, 23 November 2012

Life of Pi-mind boggling visuals,profound narrative and story telling at its best

Life of Pi- a must watch

It’s quite apparent going by the trailers and the buzz generated by this movie that its all about a young man’s survival from a terrible ship wreck and a certain Bengal Tiger ( named Richard Parker for mildly amusing reasons) during a storm in the Pacific Ocean. A middle aged Pi ( with a generous mop of curly hair , played by the subtle and extremely engaging Irrfan Khan) recounting his tale to a wide eyed Canadian novelist.

The older Pi takes the novelist down memory lane and in the process paints a picture postcard of Puducherry, the zoo owned by his rational and strict father and his innate faith in godliness, religion whetted by his curiosity during the adolescent years. The parents had a different perspective on religion  and spirituality – the father an atheist and the mother – mildly encouraging and endearing do not impede the young boy’s religious intentions giving him the wherewithal to choose his own path.His life is not devoid of love as Pi in an understated manner states " We both had just enough time to break each other's heart"

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Jab Tak Hain Jaan - the alternative review

Teri aankhon ki namkeen mastiyaan
Teri hansi ki beparwa gustaakhiyaan
Teri zulfon ki lehrati angdaaiyaan
Nahi bhoolunga main
Jab tak hai jaan, Jab tak hai jaan
Tera haath se haath chodna
Tera saayon ka rukh modna
Tera palat ke phir na dekhna
Nahin maaf karoonga main
Jab tak hai jaan, Jab tak hai jaan"

The movie starts with the leading hero going by the nomenclature of Samar Anand ( Raj???) driving away from the sunset on the arid bad lands of Ladakh with just his priceless bullet for company against the above mentioned poem playing while the credit lines roll. This brief does sound good on paper and is a pre curser for the events to unfold.

As a struggling immigrant SRK  shacks up with a fellow Pathan , sings Punjabi songs for a living in the cold climes of London  by the day and does odd jobs till he lands a job at a decidedly upmarket restaurant as a waiter.Meera played by the ethereal Katrina is a daughter of a rich business man going by the chauffeur driven Bentley she glides in. Samar and Meera represent different spectrums of society and the director does not dwell much on it. The pauper and the princess do fall in love after a series of encounters in different environs and yes music does play a supporting role here.

As is his wont, The director focuses on the lead pair and their relationships without really getting into details on the choices they make. He does try to marry the old fashioned romance with a  contemporary treatment of love with astounding results. Case in point Srk does a little bit more than just pecking his heroine and breaks his no kissing clause, cavorting with his heroine in phone booth and making out in bed. There is a  special appearance by a celebrity couple who have played star crossed lovers many a time in YRF movies and they do add a positive spin on infidelity .The fairy tale romance hits a road block thanks to a deal with god based on life and death post which the lead pair separate and the male protagonist comes back to India

Cut to the present. Ten years down the line Samar has grown into a bomb diffusion expert , rechristened by his fellow colleagues as” the man who cannot die “ ( that’s a nice job description to have )  difusses bombs and has  a certain pocket diary for company killing it in sun soaked Kashmir and Ladakh. Enter Akira- a feisty independent documentary film maker  who believes in  instant make out and break out ( sounds like a advert for instant noodles!!!) and has a bucket list of making out with men having different accents ( colorful!!!). She is instantly drawn towards Samar , his brooding intensity and predictably falls hook , line and sinker for him.

The second half is a mash up of clumpsy plot twists ( similar accident happening twice , a certain spot for amnesia , loud conversations with god and the obligatory confrontation scene between the leading ladies) The  story telling is quite indulgent and drags its feet in some portions. The movie is a tad too long at 180 minutes and requires enormous patience.

The movie does have loopholes in its story- pray how does SRK transition from a dejected lover to a bomb diffusion expert, the love saga spans a time period of 10 years only shows the leading hero growing old in the form of a scruffy beard (and I thought the armed forces was very particular about their male officers being clean shaven) while Meera has not aged at all with no trace of wrinkle or laugh line to boot. The Leading man  in a foreign land is allowed to diffuse a bomb in the train based on his incoherent mumbo jumbo on the chemical make of the bomb. In spite of all the loopholes the movie has the yrf stamp on It.

The movie focuses a lot on  the SRK aura and his moments. He does try his hardest best to  sell romance in only the way he does and he does try ( akin to selling ice to an Eskimo) but is let down by the leading lady’s lack of acting skills ( fluttering eye lashes, pumped up lips and one energetic dance number just cannot cut it) .SRK infuses a fair degree of sincerity as the hurt lover as well as the subdued bomb diffusion expert ( watch out for his eyes  and you will get the answer).Anoushka as Akira starts on a very shrill note and is quite irritating initially in playing the exhuberant lass ( though she does infuse a lot of energy in the jiya jiya re song) and has one delightful line on love in different times at the end of the movie.

Yash Chopra has the innate  ability to make heart ache so enduring and noble that the lead characters effortlessly wear it like second skin.This movie is for die hard romantics , please don’t go looking for logic in this one.

PS- Given a choice to pick between JTHJ and SOS , The majority would pick JTHJ. There in lies the answer.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

The name is Bond .... 'James Bond' of course!!

James Bond – everybody needs a hobby
Villain – so what’s yours?
James Bond – (cryptic and sardonic as ever) resurrection

Yes the man with the most famous alpha male sir name is back and is he is on a resurrection drive. The movie starts with an elaborately mounted action sequence starting from a non descript marketplace in the latest low cost location for shoots (a busy marketplace in turkey) staged on all man –made machines – mini truck, motorbike, train , JCB machine  culminating in a man to man fist fight with Mr Bond and a random villain fighting it out till death do us apart and then  James Bond is  shot by one of the MI6 Agents accompanying him on the wild goose chase.

James Bond is pronounced dead and his obituary is written in an appalling manner by Madame M . The security of  the MI 6 agents are compromised as there is a creepy villain- Silvia  who has an old axe to grind with Madame M and he hacks into the security system of MI 6 containing classified information causing mayhem by revealing lucid details of the Agents to all the terrorist organizations of the world
Bond does come back from the dead with a day old stubble and crinkly eyes to save the Madame M from the ignominy of a fast looming retirement and save the world at large from the menacing villain. As per his job requirements (would love to have a look at his job description ) he criss crosses across Shanghai and Macau bedding the mole to get to the elusive villain . There is quite a bit of intrigue build around Silvia and the way his devilish mind work ( He’s all blonde hair and matching eyebrows and can build a story out of rats – inspiration from the pied piper story gone bland ) Bond does need a villain who is more substance than style and Silvia does pack a mean punch.
Silvia does get caught by the MI6 and there is a certain element of suspicion on how such a crafty villain is captured so easily… a few frames later one understands the bigger reason for his capture and how he benefits from it. The film in a nutshell is a revenge drama between a deranged person ( ex agent gone hostile) and the indestructible Madame M with James Bond caught in the crossfire.

The film makes James Bond appear very vulnerable, an irresistible potion  of no nonsense and old fashioned stubbornness( yes he does have a thing for objects which are sharp – complementary for the morning ablutions and killing the villain in the end)  and senor does fill into the suits well minus the accompanying belt. One just feels he likes to get on with job and has the gambling instincts of a street fighter- raw and visceral  Judi Dench as Madame M is solid as ever and carries her reputation as a no nonsense hard taskmaster with elan .There are a few additions to the supporting cast ( we will be seeing more of Ralph Fiennes in future installments, Q has a younger , nerdy avatar and there is a back story on the introduction of  Eve Money Penny). Javier Bardem as Silvia is creepy and and creates the aura of a wily villain ( read – Joker from Dark Night minus the clownish makeup) and this is one villain who has bad dentures and a smooth face
The film has quite a few stand out moments. Primarily – the electric introduction scene between James Bond and Silvia ( a hint of homoerotic happiness here) , the brilliantly shot  action sequences which speak a language and have a color of its own  ranging from the gun fight in the minister’s office to the pre climax action sequence which incidentally is brilliantly shot against the dull ,dreary climate of Scotland . Hell there’s even trivia on James Bond’s parents and where he spent his formative years.

The film looks beautiful and the color as well as the tenor changes  as the story develops from the busy market place of turkey to the myriad dragons of Macau and the skyscrapers of shanghai City. The villain fittingly is killed in an old run down church (resurrection remember)

The Film has everything for James Bonds Aficionados in plenty and there’s one more coming soon to a theater near you.