Monday, 28 October 2013

Bhaag Milkha Bhaag

Directed by: Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra
Starring: Farhan Akhtar, Divya Dutta, Sonam Kapoor
Released: 2013
Verdict: destroy every copy – horrible – bad – whatever – flawed but enjoyable - good – great – amazing

A biopic and a sportsfilm – two genres that do not count among my favourites. Yet Bhaag Milkha Bhaag crosses the borders of both and becomes, above all else, a complete emotional ride – without a trace of emotional blackmail that often plagues biopics (and Bollywood movies in general). Based on the life of famous Indian athlete Milkha Singh the movie tells a story of much more than just amazing achievements in sport. It is, in its heart, a story of a person, of a character development and growth, that is influenced by trying times, big challenges and inner conflicts.

Touching on India/Pakistna partition, an issue quite sensitive even today, even drawing from it as the foundation stone of the whole plot, Bhaag Milkha Bhaag manages not to feel political at all (not to me at least). The struggle and tragedy which we learn about as the film progresses, is of a very deep personal nature. There is no propaganda for either side, just an attempt to convey the harsh reality of the time and event, a reality that thousands and millions have not yet made peace with. Milkha in the film doesn´t hold a grudge. He holds a pain. Some may think I cannot have emotional connection (being neither Indian nor Pakistani) with the story, but frankly a family being drawn away from their homes and even murdered is a concept that, unfortunately, my own country and even relatives are familiar with. Horrors brought upon population because of big political decisions, no matter whose and for what, are a daily occurrence since the dawn of time. Bhaag Milkha Bhaag is not putting blame, is not pointing fingers. Tragedy simply happens because of circumstances of its time, and the film is not about taking a revenge, but about facing the past – and ultimately forgiving and moving on.

Farhan Akhtar was really good and he deserves all the praise for all the immensely HARD work he put into the role. It is definitely his best so far and may be also the one with which he will go down to history. There was not a single second in which he wouldn´t be thoroughly believable. He owns the movie. As a case of exception confirming the rule the child actor playing young Milkha was extremely good too, carrying some of the most important scenes on his shoulders and breaking your heart. Divya Dutta as his doting, devoted elder sister is also perfect. Their on-screen relationship is by far the most intense and moving one. Sonam Kapoor may be the most „starry“ name among the cast, her screentime is extremely limited though. Being associated with the film still helped her position in the industry, previously rather questionable. She is back on the map for now and hopefully will continue to do good work. As a simple village girl Biro she is really sweet and looks very pretty, She is so easy to look at one doesn´t want her to open her mouth and ruin the effect, but to be fair she did well overal in this. Her bits and the ending are the best parts of the movie in fact.

If there is a flaw, then it is only a teensee complaint that it is too damn long. If it was at least 30 minutes shorter it would be more gripping. Then again when I think about it, I cannot really think of any scene as useless, waste of time, and if I was handed the editorial scissors I would end up in a complete dilemma. Everything has its place in Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, everything seems essential to the story and character development. Perhaps the songs could have been done without, or be only incorporated into the background – the one in Australian bar was actually kinda awkward. So basically I was a bit bored during the first hour, but cannot think of much the film could have done without.

The story of „the Flying Sikh“ is inspiring both on professional and personal level. Sometimes facing ones pain is much harder then breaking records. But it should be done.  Because without forgiving there can be no healing.

Friday, 25 October 2013


Directed by: K. S. Ravikumar
Starring: Sanjay Dutt, Prachi Desai, Prakash Raj
Released: 2013
Verdict: destroy every copy – horrible – bad – whatever – flawed but enjoyable - good – great – amazing

This film is just absurd.

I am not even going to try to describe the story, because Vigil Idiot has done that in his absolutely hilarious and painfully honest way HERE.

Yes, Sanjay Dutt is a kind of a man who looks convincing as a macho policeman with ability to beat the goondas on his own and not even break into a sweat while doing it. However I´ve had enough of films with Dabangg hang-over and the presentation of the main character in this is completely boring, in spite of unending explosions and dramatic shots to show us that SANJU IZ DA SUPAHMAAAAN. Like geez! Move on, we get it!!! Not only he is unstoppable and un-destroyable, but even his bloody CAR doesn´t get a scratch when it crashes down an iron gate.... Hell yeah! Watta ride!!!! Except The whole character of DCP Rudra made no sense. A policeman who lets the criminals do whatever they want "as long as they don´t harass or harm public"? WTF? Does not every crime harass or harm someone?

At the same time we are given a Sanjay Dutt breaking into a dream-sequence song while trying to pull off some Shahrukh-ness with some unconvincing CGI projection of mountains and waterfalls in the background and with voice that is painfully apparently not his. And lovely to watch, but annoying to listen to Prachi Desai (I would say "who deserves better", but every actress would deserve better than this) being head over heels with him. A word has not yet been invented to describe how incredibly they look together. At times it feels pedophilic. Either they should have abandoned the "romantic" part altogether and make Prachi his sister (if making her his daughter would make him look "old") or they should have searched for some actress closer to his age and desperate enough to be a part of this rubbish.

Excuse me while I go and throw up.
Prakash Raj has lost his touch it would seem. He has become a caricature of himself on the screen. That his villain is at the same time trying for some comic relief makes it all the more confusing and difficult to imagine he might actually be dangerous. The whole comic side-track thing (with Prachi´s potential beau) is really something that cinema has moved on from and while it belongs to the films of the past, it feels extremely regressive today. Not to mention - it is not funny.

All there is to dialogues are several un-endingly repeated punch lines that are not punchy, rest of the time the characters are threatening each other. Blah blah blah blah..... it´s like listening to a broken record. Villain to hero, hero to villain, they just repeat the same things to one another. I really hope that script writer asked for just half the cash, because he obviously did just half the work. And frankly for a pearl like „You have the voice like Osama, I have the power like Obama“ they didn´t deserve two rotis even..... The only good line from the whole film, one that actually had me laughing, was uttered at the beginning. "Beauty is in the eye of a beer holder!" Goes down to my book of favourite quotes. Question is: is it original?

I just hope that while in jail Sanjay Dutt will have enough time to think of his terrible film choices and when he comes out he will be back to making classics like Munnabhai or at least films that would be bearable.

Sunday, 20 October 2013


Directed by: Harmesh Malhotra
Starring: Rishi Kapoor, Sridevi, Amrish Puri, Prem Chopra
Released: 1986
Verdict: destroy every copy – horrible – bad – whatever – flawed but enjoyable - good – great – amazing

I HATE snakes. And this movie reminded me why. They are quick, noiseless and the way they move freaks me out. Usually I cannot even stand the sight of them. But I´m willing to watch this film again and again! Yes, it is good, one of the actual classics among the 80s pile of average crap. And let´s not play games: it is so because of Sridevi and Amrish Puri. While the movies would still be good with Jayapradha, the original choice for the film, Sridevi gave it something special and to be honest I think this is my favourite performance of hers. But more on that later.

Sweater-wala Rajeev (Rishi) returns home from abroad after 15 years, to his loving mother (who probably had him when she was 11) in India ready to take over family business, till now managed by an unusually friendly Prem Chopra, who is hoping that in return for a good service Rajeev would marry his beloved daughter. It may all have just gone according to plan, but „Raju“ falls in love with a mysterious young woman he encounters in the misty-veiled ruins of an ancient mahal. Rajni (Sridevi) introduces herself as a poor orphan, and Raju is happy enough to accept that and prance around the trees with her. But breaking manager daughter´s heart may just yet prove costly....

Nagina starts as a typical romance against all odds movie, but as it progresses it turns more to an action and family drama (with saas-bahu conflict) with distinct horror features. Those are rather subtle – for Bollywood at least - which makes them all the more effective. It is a great reminder that you don´t need super computer effects to create an illusion of supernatural and mysterious being real. From the haunting hide-and-seek song in the ruins of an old building to ever-present snakes following the protagonists everywhere, it gives hints but is never „in your face“. It is not predictable – another considerable plus.

Rishi Kapoor was already beginning to look very much out of shape at the time. There can be no questioning his acting abilities, but as a jawaan chokra for whom the girls are vying for after one glance he was not suitable anymore. Though yes, the charm he excludes makes his pairing with Sridevi quite nice (something which cannot be said for any actress younger than her, whom he romanced in the decade that followed). His character is not too endearing either. Raju comes off as somebody who cannot deal with anything himself and is constantly in need of help and guidance, be it from the manager, his mother of Rajni. He is actually just a pawn moving from one stronger persona to the next.

The film belongs to Sridevi, as I have already mentioned. Though dubbed by someone else in several scenes, she did just absolutely wonderful in the role. The highlight has to be her interaction with Amrish Puri. The fierceness she projects while threatening him can only be matched by his own thundering dialogues of the dark and the supernatural. Indeed, it is these two performers who steal the show and others just do not match. The legendary Main Teri Dushman dance number is a crowning jewel of Sridevi´s performance – and film. A song that actually sounds rather unpleasant was made into a fabulous spectacle by the dancer and choreographer (it is, to my knowledge, the song that put Saroj Khan on the map.)

One thing I could have done without was the (un)neccesary comic track. Apart from the usual loud people who talk but don´t think it was full of fat people and nasty wives jokes, that everyone in the film seemed to find hilarious, while I kept rolling my eyes and cringe. Ironically the funniest moment has to be the very end: „they lived happily ever after“ title plastered over an image of Raju sobbing over his mother´s corpse was just too unexpected and too much of a temptation for the cynic in me.