Sunday, 8 June 2014


Directed by: Imtiaz Ali
Starring: Randeep Hooda, Alia Bhatt
Released: 2014
My rating: destroy every copy – horrible – bad – whatever – flawed but enjoyable - shitastic - good – great – amazing

I genuinely loved Rockstar, but after Jab We Met, this one is Imtiaz Ali´s best film till date. He doesn´t work according to tried and tested formula. His movie lacks everything most of the mainstream filmmakers throw into the mix just to gain some more attention from the public. Imtiaz Ali is here to make films and that is it. And this one he made with much heart and much feeling, and I cannot stop thinking about it even though I have finished it several hours ago.

A daughter of a rich, prominent man gets kidnapped, by mistake and by chance, but kidnapped still. As the search for her starts, she is stuck with a group of mournful thieves, who are not entirely sure as of what to do with her. The group slowly goes their separate ways, until the girl, Veera, stays in the company of just two (and subsequently one, called Mahabhir) of her kidnappers. The longer she stays with them, the more she realizes how unhappy she was in her home. There is no bull-and-donkey sob story that would ensure her seeing „good hearts“ of her kidnappers – in fact she never learns the truth about them, and they do not need to save her from being raped just so she can promptly fall in love with one of them.

Highway is not a film about finding oneself. Veera is not in search of her identity, neither she is a shy girl who discovers confidence. And I do not even think the film is essentially about finding freedom – rather cleansing of the soul, in both Veera and Mahabhir´s cases. The movie has a distinct, interesting atmosphere and stirs emotions, some of the scenes are extremely powerful. At other times Highway becomes an enchanting composition of visuals and music, both as pure as one can imagine. Many a time I caught myself thinking Highway is, among other things, Imtiaz Ali´s ode to nature. Veera caresses grass and cries over beauty of swift river breaking against a rock, she is gulping the wind as if she could taste it, she stares into the heaven and feels completely content, happy to hear the whistles and songs of sheperds passing through the mountains. Highway is, for most part, a poem without words.

And yet, I did find a few flaws that took away a little bit from the overall experience. The movie has really two emotional peaks. Apart from the obvious Veera´s confrontation with her family at the end, the first one comes about an hour into the film, when she confides her story to Mahabir. An extremely powerful scene, but followed by suddenly very languid series of scenes that already disappeared from the mind. It takes a while before the build-up leading towards the climax again fully engages attention. Secondly, while Randeep Hooda gives a very good performance, there were several moments in which he did not resonate with my sentiments and one or two of his emotional outbursts felt somehow artificial. The character development may have been more elaborate, then again it may also have slowed down the already not action-packed narrative.

Highway marks the actual debut of Alia Bhatt the actress. After being an inconsequential showpiece in Karan Johar´s glossy awfulness of a movie, she can finally bring forth her talent. The girl is more than just Mahesh Bhatt´s daughter. Even if Veera was a character Alia could related to, it was still a challenging role, mostly unglamorous and one the whole film rested upon. She still feels like a diamond in a rough, in need of some polishing, and I have my reservations towards her baby-faced self taking on „sexy“ roles, which are inevitably coming her way (because EVERY girl HAS TO be sexy, otherwise she should not bother breathing), but hopefully there will be more „Highways“ in her filmography in upcoming years. Be it because of Imtiaz´s direction or her own intuition, Alia Bhatt impresses.

Highway leads you on a way that has no demands of anyone. It makes you remember the dark secrets you´d prefer to forget, but it also shows you there is always somewhere better to go. Start again. And feel pure again.

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Jai Ho

Directed by: Sohail Khan
Starring: Salman Khan, Tabu, Daisy Shah, Genelia D´Souza, Mohnish Behl, Suniel Shetty, Danny Denzongpa
Released: 2014
My rating: destroy every copy – horrible – bad – whatever – flawed but enjoyable - shitastic - good – great – amazing

What is the point of films like this? That´s right. There is none. For whatever reason Indian masses cannot imagine anything more awesome than a middle-aged guy being himself on screen year after year after year. Jai Ho (which immediately makes the famous A.R.Rehman track go off in my mind) tries hard to convince you it has a plot and a message, but it is really just random scenes plastered together to fill in the time between overstretched and, by now, boring scenes of Salman Khan beating everybody around him senseless. Sohail Khan probably wanted to pay homage to brother who feeds the whole khandaan and the rest.... like script and story... are yet again viewed as inferior. That said Jai Ho is still somehow one of better attempts at Salman Khan-ish cinema, definitely more watchable than atrocious Ready and not as boring as Bodyguard.

Let´s face it: this screenshot could be from any of Salman´s previous films and you wouldn´t notice.
The thought which is dragged through more than two hours is a genuinely nice one: if someone helps you, don´t say thank you, rather help another three people. I don´t know why you shouldn´t help AND thank, but OK. The flaw of this concept is naturally people are selfish bastards who rarely even say thanks, forget helping. But in Salman Khan´s bharat, where all social issues can be addressed in a single (awful) song, are people of pure hearts and indeed live by this rule. This „help other three“ stuff however soon gets on your nerves, because it is repeated about 50 times in the film, often within mere minutes from each other, and gets as annoying as the stop smoking ads in front of every film we all suffer through.

No, daddy, I will not stay home!
Other than that Jai Ho is a mix of bizarre and questionable, often brought to us by known and semi-known faces. I still cannot get my head around the character played by my lovely and cute Genelia D´Souza. She is obviously an extremely clever college student, unfortunately handicapped in a way, that prevents her from writing her tests herself. When her nikamma brother, who should be helping her, gets stuck in the traffic (and not for the first time), she fails the test and commits suicide. WTF. Are you seriously telling me such a bright, intelligent young woman would kill herself over ONE test? Are you telling me university will not give organize a retake for her, given her condition? Are you telling me in the whole building with thousands of students, teachers and staff they couldn´t find ONE person who would write for her instead of her brother? That is just an example of how idiotic situations make Jai Ho.

Between Salman Khan, Tabu, Mohnish Behl and Mahesh Thakur I has strange visions of Hum Saath Saath Hai going all wrong. They are all competent. Daisy Shah, a girl looking like a porcelain doll with baby face (bickering with a kid whom she calls with a nickname derived from his little „equipment“ while he know what colour her underwear is) , had a tiny role of no consequence and did Salman no favours by making everybody see he is another Khan too old for girls in their 20s. She dances beautiful, but I don´t see much of a future for her in Bollywood. A wild Suniel Shetty with a tank appears out of bloody nowhere too, just because. Danny Denzongpa is an iconic villain, and I don´t think Salman had such a strong opponent since the time of Sonu Sood.

How the hell did you know how to get here?
I followed the sound of tears.
In the end the movie can be really summed up as follows:

Note: I made the gifs from THIS amazing video :)