Saturday, January 31, 2009

Luck By Chance


A few months ago, I went to dinner with this really great friend of mine. We have been friends since our college days (although we went to different ones)

She is smart and funny and charming, kinda pretty too ;) loves sports and will tell you more about cars than Autocar ever could and can put most guys to shame when it comes to discussing women. She is just very very cool.

So the obvious question (and some common friends have asked me this) was why is she not my girlfriend? Well, mostly because I already had a great one before I met her. But suppose I didn’t. what about then?

After college though, we lost touch and went about our lives and got super busy. However, with my new found “time” I have been busy seeking out long lost friends (thanks FB, orkut, LinkedIn) and luck by chance (c’mon I had to use this SOMEWHERE!), I ran into her.

We started chatting and it was like time had never passed. Like we were right back in college lamenting how little pocket money we received and bitching about some common friends (you know who you are and you know you deserve it!)

It was during this meeting that I found out the answer to my question. Why even though she had every single attribute a guy could ever want, why nothing could’ve happened.

It was because during all our the times we spent with each other, there was not one moment where it all just came together.

Even though all the signs and ingredients were there, put together, it just wasn’t clicking.

The sum was less than the parts.

Which is almost exactly how I would put the one line summation of Luck By Chance.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with the film. Infact, the parts are positively brilliant - but put together, they just doesn’t click.

Farhan does an absolutely excellent portrayal of a struggling actor who is charming and cunning at once and wants to succeed and believes in making his own luck.

You can’t help but like him even though sometimes he can be an a***ole (a line that also apparently describes me as I was told only yesterday).

Rishi Kapoor proves why he is so awesome with his excellent depiction of a “jolly” (sorry no other word quite sums it up this well) producer who is in there to show that “bollywood is one big family” angle – replete with his funny and pretty trophy wife played by Juhi

Dimple amply demos the “yesteryear superstar heroine now launching her daughter” complete with tantrums and nauseating involvement with everything in the movie.

The dialogues are really sharp and randomly funny. Funnier are the one liner’s that Farhan delivers while flirting with the starlet daughter.

Sample some classics -

Rishi Kapoor describing Dimple - “she is a crocodile in a chiffon sari”

And - talking to his script writer who is trying to turn a negative character into a positive character because the actor throws tantrums: -

“Oye institute, main yeh film Film Festival ke liye nahin bana raha”

The movie touches all aspects of the Indian film industry – from the dignified and muted potrayal of the casting couch to the insecurities of a big star who is threatened by a successful young comer. The new role of corporates investing into movies and “trying to change the culture” is also beautifully weaved in.

More intelligently connected is the way Farhan (or Vikram) goes around literally making his own luck, getting his own break and how the attitude of people around him changes once he lands the big role.

From the aunty who stops being caustic about him living in her house (he is from Delhi – like SRK?) to the childhood friend and fellow struggling actor who turns visibly bitter about Farhan’s success.

However, somehow, the bits and pieces don’t come together to give you the entertainer that was OSO nor is it as thought provoking or introspective as a Page 3.

Despite great performances by every single actor in the movie and some great songs, great dialogues, and superb direction, the movie just doesn’t quite work.

Infact, it oscillates between trying to decide whether to be dark or funny about the film industry and ends up being a grey (ok light grey) sarcastic caricature that will leave you confused about your feelings for the movie.

The sum then, is less than the parts.

So should you watch it?

You CAN watch it for Farhan and Rishi kapoor if you have absolutely nothing else to do on the weekend.

However, if you have a life altering situation (like say.. you are feeling lazy) and you miss the movie, don’t fret.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Raaz II – The Return of Horror


There are some things that just aren't done.

No matter how good it tastes, a Frenchman will never accept that anything from Napa is any good. And god forbid you gift him one, he will break the bottle on your head. That is, if you are lucky.

Ask a German what his favorite car is, and you will never hear the answer as a Ford or a Chevrolet. Because Detroit sucks at making anything that can go further than 5 miles on a tank full of gas - and I don't mean in a giant tank sort of way where you can sit pretty in the knowledge that if the traffic is bad, you could just driver over them.

If you ever get late for meeting a Japanese the chances are you will see a contorted painful expression which will make you wallow in self pity for being around 1.296 seconds late.

On the contrary, in Spain if you turn up for a 11pm party at 12, you will still have around 2 hrs to kill before the host shows up.

Being on time just isn't done.

In India however, we have no such issues. We are as frequently late as we are on time.

German cars are so overpriced that you can buy several houses for the price of 1. So we love Chevy and ford.

We really can't tell the difference between Napa and Bordeaux and we don't care.

In India, sab chalta hai.

Except, when you talk about horror movies.

We just don't make good ones. Directors, actors and audiences run away from any that actually get released and if you look at the stuff we have churned out so far, you wouldn't blame them one bit.

Who can forget the psyche altering rubbish churned out by the Ramsey brothers - the stalwarts of Bollywood Horror. Movies of such abject stupidity as “Do Gaj Zameen Ke Neeche”, “Shaitani Ilaaka” Puraana Mandir or… I could go on but the bottom line is, we just don’t know how to make a proper horror flick which is without the gore and funny makeup. We are awesome at doing song and dance sequences while jumping off buildings holding an umbrella, but when it comes to the horror genre, we suck. Horribly.

Which brings me to Raaz II – The Mystery Continues.

With a reasonably big budget and a star cast which is respectably A list, Raaz II is perhaps the first A grade India horror flick.

The story is the same old formula about a spirit possessing a pretty girl (a model no less!) who has a boyfriend who doesn’t believe in ghosts or spirits. In fact, his disbelief is so complete and bordering on the idiotic that he actually has his own TV show talking about the superstitions going on in the country.

Cut to an angry arrogant painter who paints the future but only about Kangana and the story revolves around of course how they beat the spirit that possesses her. And yes, true to the stereotype, the painter roams around with the Bhagvad Gita in his pocket.

As performances go, Kangna has proved my theory that the only roles she can do remarkably well are those where she has to be hysterical and crazy – bordering on the psychotic. Which she does with aplomb.

Adhyayaya..yaya..yaya..n (or however else its spelled) is a terrible actor. Completely botching up simple scenes like asking Kangana to go back to sleep while he is sleepy.

The dialogue writer needs to be shot in the head – twice.

I cannot believe someone was paid to come up with lines like:

Kangana to Adhyayan, explaining her slit wrist in the hospital -

K – “Tum sochte ho ye maine khud kiya hai? Tum jaante ho main apne aap se kitna pyaar karti hoon!”

On second thought, also shoot whoever approved this line’s use.

The story then meanders its way to various parties and scary scenes to reach the climax which seems inspired from The Ring – complete with black and white effects and a well for you to drown into. Ofcourse, our hero wins in the end and good triumphs over evil.

Sounds nothing new does it? It's not.

So then is this movie the Napa to a Frenchman and a Ford to a German?

No. Not even slightly. Infact, what it is, is excellent.

You see, despite the dialogue writer who should be shot (twice. remember.) and Adhyayan who cant act and parts and scenes inspired from a multitude of Hollywood films, the direction and camerawork is from a different planet. And its exceptional.

The story is superb, the plot is gripping and scenes will really make you pull that Red Lounge blanket up to your eyes.

The movie is genuinely scary in parts and is thrilling and exciting in its entirety.

Emraan Hashmi is just incredible. His acting is both intense and measured and to the point. None of the onscreen kissing business and no longer do you feel that he walks around thinking he is gods gift to womankind. He is smooth and carries his role off with ease.

The music is catchy and haunting at once and except for one song, the others are really not that out of place.

The movie doesn’t rely on past make up tricks of sticking painted vegetables on people’s faces and dirty yucky funny moving “Shaitaan” trying to kill. It relies on effects, anticipation and surprise and in that alone, we must give a presidential pardon to the script writer.

What this movie is, then, is that rare Ford that can make a German smile – a Mustang. It has its quirks and its kinks and its not perfect but its entertaining as hell and will keep you on the edge of your seat for the entire 2hrs 45 minutes.

This movie is to our horror genre what Barack Obama is to the United States of America.

A movie inspiring hope and instilling in us - the "Yes We Can" of making horror movies!

Go watch! It is full paisa vasool!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Sign of marriage

How do you know a couple have been married for a long time?

When the cushions leave the sofas and hit the streets!