Bollywood-ish

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Badlapur

Directed by: Shriram Raghavan
Starring: Varun Dhawan, Nawazuddin Sidiqui, Huma Qureshi, Yami Gautam, Divya Dutta
Released: 2015
My rating: destroy every copy – horrible – bad – whatever – flawed but enjoyable - good – great – amazing


A bloody revenge movie is a tricky thing. You need a lot of strong points. Reason for revenge. Believable acting. Arevenge which leaves you with a feeling of gratification or at least understanding for the hero. And most importantly a sense of compassion for the avenger. Not all real-life situations, during which a man (or a woman) takes law and revenge into their own hands are like that, but in the film world should, at least in my view. Badlapur does have believable acting, it has a powerful trigger to start off, unfortunately the compassion is missing entirely.


Varun Dhawan shakes off the cute image he has had by embracing a character much darker than Aamir Khan from Ghajini or Shahid Kapoor from Haider. Starting off as a tragedy-stricken young man he turns into an avatar which is more repulsive and awful than the villains who took the life of his family in the first place. Acting-wise he nearly pulls it off. As a character Raghu is possibly the worst lead protagonist I can think of. Repeatedly raping a completely innocent woman, threatening another one with the same, only to murder her in cold blood and most horrifying manner cannot be excused or put down to any inner pain or turmoil. Not even the popular "eye for an eye" theory fits, since the lovely Yami Gautam and her child were killed pretty much by unwanted accident. One has to wonder what kind of person Raghu is, if he is capable of such things as rape and abuse of trust. No matter how loveable he seems to be in the flashbacks, Raghu remains terrifying and disgusting. Perhaps more character development could have done the trick and show his personality alternate, but instead the makers decided to simply jump ahead 15 years (during which nobody but Nawazuddin Sidiqui seems to have aged). Furthermore the movie ends on a very anti-climactic note, with no justice served to anyone at all, not even greedy bribe-mongering police officer.


Performances on the whole are all good, but none outstanding. I cannot help but to compare Badlapur with last year´s Ek Villain, which starred Varun´s debut co-star Siddhart the Visually-perfect. While Siddhart has shown less ease in his acting, Shraddha Kapoor was not as half as natural as Yami and the film lacked logic, it still managed to make me cry and feel for the characters. Badlapur made me sick. No wonder, when the rape-victim announces to the her rapist and a murderer that of all the people involved in this messy story he is the one who has been given the second chance.


In conclusion from technical point of view there is nothing too wrong with the film, except perhaps the way the script looses pace and becomes boring as soon as, ironically, Raghu finally confronts his wife´s killer outside the jail walls. Some ends feel loose. Perhaps more soulful and more strategically used music (again like in Ek Villain) could have done make things better. For all its worth though I cannot recommend watching Badlapur to anyone. Not to people like me for all the reasons stated above. Not to lovers of thrillers because there is not enough thrill to justify other things. Not to fans of psychological movies because no development is shown in anyone.

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Hawaizaada

Directed by: Vibhu Puri
Starring: Ayushman Khuranna, Pallavi Sharda, Mithun Chakraborthy
Released: 2015
My rating: destroy every copy – horrible – bad – whatever – flawed but enjoyable - good – great – amazing


Loosely based on the life and alleged achievements of Shivkar Talpade, who is sometimes credited as a maker of the first unmanned plane, which he supposedly constructed with the help of Vedic texts as leads for proportions and materials, Hawaizaada is a product with an ambition to be part Lagaan, part Bollywood extravaganza. I would have enjoyed the film a lot more if it didn´t feel like a huge Saawariya hangover. Mind you, Saawariya is to me a gem of a film, one of my most favourite movies ever. But here the inspiration with Bhansali style of making films is so rampant it actually out-Bhansalies the Bhansali. The one thing missing though is the mystery, atmosphere and deep feeling of it all. Cinematography is stunning and details poetic and wonderful, yet the picturesque beauty lacks soul.


Not only the fairytale-like, colour-harmonized sets larger than life feel familiar. Ayushman Khuranna as Shivy feels familiar too. As if "Raj" from Saawariya just stepped into another story with a different face. They are both young, carefree, optimistic and playing instruments, not worrying of where they are to sleep tonight or what tomorrow will bring. They both fall for a girl who is beautiful in a second, and she becomes their obsession. Where Ranbir was believable in the role, Ayushman does not strike the chord. Perhaps my knowledge of his previous movies interfered too much with the innocence shown here, and so I was simply not convinced, even less so during his weeping scenes. As the film progresses, Ayushman´s over the top act gets actually really annoying. The exumberant, forced smiles, the constant shaking of the head and stubbornly repeated sentimental lines – Shivy with his head of artificial curls has nothing on Ranbir´s Raj. Pallavi Shardha is a girl who I think is destined to be lost to Bollywood viewers soon, simply because she just has hardly any screen presence. Unless luck smiles upon her, I don´t think she will stick around for long as a lead actress.


Then there is of course Mithun Chakraborthy, a man grossly underrated because once upon a time 80s happened to him. I cannot say a bad word about him, and if there is any failing with his character of Shastry, just pin it on the screenplay please.


Clearly, the film was meant to boost some patriotism, being after all set at the time of British dominance over India. And so you can be sure there are petty English officers (awful actors) speaking awful Hindi - even among themselves, and some big patriotic speeches and mottos. I like patriotism, just in films it sometimes gets too much. Hawaizaada does overstep the line, more dramatically as it goes on. Furthermore: I am not keen on technical aspects of building planes, but the movie made it look as easy as nailing few boards together. It takes one particularly harmless bomb to set free and flee with a prisoner right from a courtroom, and the British only find out hours (days?) later. Well, no wonder, since they also apparently have no idea where to look for the guy, even though he lives on a big-ass ship that keeps the lights on and is clearly inhabited.


Better, tighter screenplay and more emphasis on the conflict between love for a girl and dedication to a teacher and friend could have made Hawaizaada a very good film in spite of the blatant ripping off of Saawariya. As it is, it does not deserve more than an average rating.  


Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Second half of 2014 overview

The second half of 2014 was full of changes for me on personal front. I finished university, got thrown into the whirlwind of looking for a job, and then finally finding it as well as finding out I got diabetes. Naturally with a change of lifestyle and schedule I have not been able to keep up with Bollywood (or other things) as much as I would have liked to, and so the films I have watched were fewer. As you may have noticed also by lack of activity on this blog. The following are the ones I still managed to see:

Entertainment





Directed by: Sajid-Farhad
Starring: Akshay Kumar, Sonu Sood, Prakash Raj, Tamanna Bhatia, Johnny Lever, Mithun Chakraborthy
My rating: destroy every copy – horrible – bad – whatever – flawed but enjoyable - good – great – amazing

This could have been a truly great family entertainer, had it not been for too many hurt crotches, a useless (and awful) song about being forced to drink and perhaps too much not-funny violence near the end. Also, the amount of film-references is like a tsunami which almost makes you choke for air. Akshay, Sonu Sood, Prakash Raj, Johnny Lever - all are effortlessly funny in this over the top comedy, in which the over-the-topness is fine since you have never been expected to take it seriously. Unlike another film of the similar sentiment - Humshakals - it remains watchable throughout, and that a dog might inherit a business empire is still more logical than that a potion can change your DNA and turn you into a dog. And while Tamanna (who was meant for better things in life) has a very small and basic role, the picture is not insulting women (still comparing with Humashakals). Entertainment is a stupid name for a dog, or for a film for that matter. If you are a big Akshay Kumar fan, you might enjoy parts of it. Like the scene in which Akshay interacts with a bunch of different dogs in the jungle. "Hey, Germand Sheperd! Has you father ever been to Germany?!"

Singham Returns



Directed by: Rohit Shetty
Starring: Ajay Devgn, Kareena Kapoor, Amol Gupte
My rating: destroy every copy – horrible – bad – whatever – flawed but enjoyable - good – great – amazing – experience

Bajirao Singham is possibly my favourite action masalla hero, but I would have been happier if he had not returned, as the sequel is no patch on the first film. It is much less focused, and there is no engaging storyline, at times it actually felt as if Rohit Shetty just shot for two different films and then he glued parts together. Inconsistent and eventually boring, Singham 2 gets easily short of breath. The character of Bajirao and its portrayal by Ajay Devgn are still as awesome, but the script was really weak, with no meat at all. It doesn´t help that the villain is more comical than scary, and hence there is no tension between Singham and his enemy – which was exactly what made the first film interesting. Finally Kajal Agarwal has been disposed off (her character of Singham´s wife is never even mentioned – here´s to disposal of actresses, right?) and replaced by Kareena Kapoor, who manages to be annoying as hell. This was really not a role for her. Anyone would have been annoying in it, but she was an utter miscast, even if only because she has done the loud-mouthed energetic girl so many times before – and better. No, Singham should not have returned.

Following the release of the testosteron-overalod three “women oriented” films burst onto the cinema screens. After a fairly awesome Mardaani and less awesome and overpraised Mary Kom, Bipasha Basu fell into deeper chasms of “plz stahp” with yet another horror.

Creature



Directed by: Vikram Bhatt
Starring: Bipasha Basu
My rating: destroy every copy – horrible – bad – whatever – flawed but enjoyable - good – great – amazing

It is 2014 and yet films like this are being made. Even before the opening titles start you would have already encountered the “creature” and thus taken away the element of surprise and wondering. Then you are thrown into a very basic bunch of people who are as cartoonish as one could imagine. Within twenty minutes you know the reason which makes the “creature” behave the way it is. Why should you even bother watching any more? You should not. And I only went on so I could convince you to spare yourselves. The film boasted of the use of special computer effects, however the creature looks weird, for the lack of better word, and never manages to create an illusion of actually existing. Dialogues are poor, logic took a holiday. People in horror films are generally of low IQ, but yeh log deserved the Darwin Award (“You go find a bullet and I will keep the empty gun so both of us have no weapon!”). Intimate relationships are created within a day, there are stuffed artificial panthers being hunted down, and police distributes heavy weapons among the civilians just like that. Sometimes the creature can smash down the door without problems, other times it is too big of a problem. Sometimes it outruns a speeding car, few minutes later it cannot catch up with two people running. The closer the film gets to the climax, the more boring it becomes. Most importantly there is hardly any story. The plot is simple – a mythical demon kills in the woods so let´s go and kill it. That is it really. If I wanted two hours of shooting and running I would watch the Olympics or something. Performances are wooden and basic, and it seems to me that the lack of good scripts is slowly but surely reducing Bipasha Basu to certain irrelevance. On one hand I am glad she does not depend on big names and labels to do a film, on the other hand she should really think her projects through. Films like Players, Aatma and now Creature do her more harm than good. Which is really sad because I think she is a fairly good actress. BTW nobody had to die if they just brought a flamethrower with them.

Sadly for Bollywood Bipasha is not the only performer who is running short of breath and keeps doing bad films.

Raja Natwarlal



Directed by: Kunal Deshmukh
Starring: Emraan Hashmi, Paresh Rawal, Deepak Tijori, Kay Kay Manon
My rating: destroy every copy – horrible – bad – whatever – flawed but enjoyable - good – great – amazing

Emraan Hashmi remains the poor man´s Anil Kapoor, dressed in shirts which are obviously too tight for him. And everyone acts better includuing shot-20-minutes-in Deepak Tijori, criminally underused Paresh Rawal and not at all sexy though she tries soooooo hard newcomer Humaima (then again she has little to work with besides swirling her skirts around a night club to the playback of unremarkable songs). A film about a conman can be both funny or dramatic, but in any case it should be clever. Raja Natwarlal offers neither wit nor brain-stretch. The plot is as thin as a wet paper and everything too easy for everyone. How did the villain know who stole his money? He just did. How did the police find out about Raja and his group? They just did. Everyone knows everything to the point you really wonder why is there any conflict at all. Boring, nonsensical and stale movie. Instead of blood this avenger should sip milk.

I took some delight in Finding Fanny and was genuinely pleased with Daawat-E-Ishq (review coming eventually), and then after Deepika and Parineeti it was Sonam´s turn in trying to charm me.

Khoobsurat



Directed by: Shashanka
Starring: Sonam Kapoor, Fawad Khan, Ratna Pathak Shah, Kirron Kher
My rating: destroy every copy – horrible – bad – whatever – flawed but enjoyable - good – great – amazing

Average entertainment with some bad songs, which just might fit your mood for something light, or it might make you angry with how terribly basic it is. There is absolutely nothing new or fresh neither about the story or Sonam Kapoor in the role of whacky, cutesy, "modern" girl. Impossibly handsome and suave Fawad Khan thus takes the cake as a show-stealer, being very natural and charming. But to give Sonam some credit, she does well with her own limited abilities, and does not annoy. Furthermore she is simply beautiful to look at, no argument there. What a pity these two beautiful people share no chemistry whatsoever. The whole film looks and feels like cotton candy, fortunatelly all the gloss and sweetness lets some nice moments to reach out to the viewer. If I definitely liked something was the fact how Mili managed to make everyone in the royal family realize their lack of communication. That was a lesson few more families, filmi and real, should take.

Bang Bang (review coming eventually), Haider, Happy New Year (review coming eventually) – those were the big releases of the autumn days. I loved none, though Bang Bang entertained me, Haider made an impression and Happy New Year... just happened to be honest. The year ended on a high with PK, but before we could get to it, there was still some suffering in the store.

The Shaukeens



Directed by: Abhishek Sharma
Starring: Anupam Kher, Annu Kapoor, Piyush Sharma, Lisa Haydon, Akshay Kumar
My rating: destroy every copy – horrible – bad – whatever – flawed but enjoyable - good – great – amazing

Just when I thought Yaariyan and Humshakals were the sleaziest films of the year, The Shaukeens came and gave those two a tough fight for the spot. Three sex-starved over 60 perverts on the hunt for physical pleasures, oogling over each girl they meet (correction: each girl that fits the standard model type). Their behavior is not really even desperate, it is downright disturbing. There is nothing even remotely funny about situations created for them, and I was left severely repulsed by what I saw. Second half of the movie I have only skimmed through, unable to bear any more. Lisa Haydon crowns the awfulness of the film with her performance, which, I am sorry to say, is simply pathetic. Awful, vulgar, and everyone involved in making it should be ashamed.

Happy Endings



Director: Raj and D.K.
Starring: Saif Ali Khan, Ileana D´Cruz, Ranvir Shorey, Kalki Koechlin, Govinda
My rating: destroy every copy – horrible – bad – whatever – flawed but enjoyable - good – great – amazing

Either Bollywood romantic comedies are loosing breath or Saif Ali Khan is. I think I´d put my money on the latter. The careless player of a lover has been Saif´s most successful domain in the past ten years, but he truly has grown out of the image, but apparently have not noticed. I believe his last successful film of this kind was Cocktail, and that one I do not hesitate to ascribe to Deepika, who shouldered the whole thing. The film gets better in the second half, with Ileana being just lovely, but sharing no chemistry with Saif. The blink and miss cameos by Preity and Kareena showed me Preity in a much better light than her comeback film, and those few minutes of Kareena reminded me that I have missed her on screen (Singham 2 does not count). The film has no plot, no drive and no push, even though there are some cute moments. However, are we not all tired of pathetic middle-age men with commitment-phobia? They have become a trope, and not an endearing one. The film passes by like a breeze on highway ride, without much to be noticed. It is definitely not a cinema piece, felt more appropriate for a DVD watch.


I turned off “Ungli” - another boring Emraan Hashmi film – 20 minutes in, and I refused to watch Action Jackson. And so that really was 2014 Bollywood for me. Maybe one day I will find courage to watch more?