Highway – In bondage she found freedom!

Imtiaz Ali is easily one of the best storytellers of our times and he narrates his stories with great passion. With Highway he takes the road less travelled and makes a film that is braver and more risky than his previous outings. Does he succeed? Let’s just say Highway is his best film till date.

Like all his films the characters in Highway also traverse long distances and transcend geographical boundaries. In this case, Mahabir and Veera travel from the arid tracts of Rajasthan to the snow-capped mountains in Kashmir (Which Anil Mehta captures beautifully). Interestingly, Imtiaz had already told this story when he directed an episode for Zee TV’s Rishtey but Ali felt that there was more to the story and thank god for that! 

I have always loved the way Imtiaz Ali develops the characters in his films; especially the female protagonist.  Mahabir and Veera’s relationship is ambiguous and that is the beauty of the film. They can be lovers or they can’t be but they are definitely in love. Love that cannot be outlined by the conventional definitions.  Mahabir sees his mother in Veera and the way she embraces and caresses him when he cries, he probably finds his mother in Veera. However, the way Mahabir looks at Veera when she breaks into a spontaneous dance somewhere hints at Mahabir being attracted to her. Similarly, Veera feels protected with Mahabir and finds the father in him which she has never had. But, whether she saw a lover in Mahabir is something we don’t really know as the film doesn’t give any clear answers. I believe she didn’t.

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Mahabir and Veera are two characters that are hurting as hell. They are stooges of destiny whose childhood is obscured. They are fighting an inner battle with themselves which they eventually win as they confide in each other; whether it is Veera’s painful secret from her childhood or Mahabir’s guilt of killing three people.

Highway is about discovering oneself. It is about attaining freedom. It is about achieving salvation. It is about self-discovery. Like most Indians, I love happy endings and would have liked to see Mahabir live but his life wouldn’t have served the purpose of the film. His death sets Veera free. Veera unearths herself on the journey with Mahabir and experiences freedom. I also loved the way film subtly mocks the ‘tameezdar’ society and leaves us with a message. It talks (doesn’t preach) about child molestation and how the ‘well behaved’ society remains a mute spectator to it. It strips our hypocritical society and makes us ask ourselves ‘Kya hum bhi inhi mein se ek hain?’

Talking about the leads, Randeep Hooda is brilliant as the abductor and plays his part with great ease. He is one of the good actors we have today and is much more than what the Bhatts make him do. But Highway belongs hands down to Alia Bhatt who inhabits Veera’s world and infuses it with childlike honesty. This girl can act and how! Watch her in the scene when she is talking to herself as she mounts on a rock in the Kashmir valley or when she confronts  the man who abuses her or when she breaks into a spontaneous dance. Brilliant!

Imtiaz-Irshad-Rahman are Tridev (God). Highway wouldn’t have been what it is had it not been for them who instill soul into the film. Whether it is Veera’s run in the Sambhar lake with ‘Tu Kuja’ playing in the background or their journey to the mountains with Jonita’s haunting vocals; ek रूहानियत hai; a sufi feel to it.

In one of the scenes in the film Veera says to Mahabir;

“जहाँ से तुम मुझे लाए हो, में वहाँ वापस नही जाना चाहती.
जहाँ भी ले जा रहे हो, वहाँ पहुँचना नही चाहती.
पर यह रास्ता, यह बहुत अच्छा है.
में चाहती हूँ की यह रास्ता कभी ख़तम ना हो.”

It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey quite like what Lord Krishna says कर्म करो, फल की चिंता मत करो. Go, take this journey!

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5 Off-beat Hindi films that I love

Films have always been an integral part of India and the very fact that we churn out the maximum number of films in the world every year confirms my statement. Indian cinema has been divided into two ‘types’ – Mainstream and Parallel or Commercial and Art House. This distinction was correct also but over the years things changed and so did the cinema and so did the audience. Art-House/Parallel cinema became Off-beat. The line between the two ‘types’ of cinema started to blur and we saw that off-beat films can be commercially viable too. I wouldn’t say that the line between the two has completely vanished; however; we now see a greater acceptance of all kinds of cinema.

In this post, I write about 5 ‘Off-beat’ Hindi films which I saw and why I loved them.

1. The Lunch Box

The Lunch Box is one of the most beautiful and ‘delicious’ love stories that I have seen on screen. I love this film because it takes an unconventional path with respect to storytelling. In the age of SMS and internet, this love story develops over hand-written notes delivered via lunch box. There is a comfortable ingenuousness in the notes which the protagonists exchange. There is an intense vignette of loneliness; and what’s interesting is that the characters talk about their life, experiences, and problems to each other but never really profess their love or meet each other. But, the magic is that still you can feel the love that grows between them and that is the beauty of the film.

2. Stanley Ka Dabba

Well coincidentally, Stanley Ka Dabba is another film based around food & lunch box that I absolutely love.  There are many reasons why I adore this film. One of the many reasons being that it is a slice from our lives. It takes us back to our school days when the lunch time was the most cherished hour with friends. The time when we used to play, fight, laugh, cry and of course share food with our classmates. Stanley Ka Dabba also brings back innocence into the kids. The kids here are just their age and not the over-smart or overly matured bunch of kids as shown in most films. Around all this, the film conveys a deeper message against child-labor. It isn’t easy to address serious issues through a film and not sound stodgy. Stanley Ka Dabba excels here!

3.  B.A. Pass

Based on a short story ‘The Railway Aunty’, B.A. Pass is a gritty story about sex and betrayal. The film shows us a Delhi that is beyond India Gate and Lal Quila. It shows us the deep dark and ruthless city that it becomes as the neon lights are switched on. It exposes the life of middle and upper class people where the middle class is battling with hypocrisy while the upper class is battling loneliness.  Amid all this is enveloped the story of a boy who is forced into male prostitution and the film tells his tale brilliantly. It also talks about sex from a woman’s perspective; how physical needs are not just meant for men. Women too yearn for physical satisfaction. There aren’t many films which have touched the subject of male prostitution; B.A. Pass does and it passes! For all these reasons I love the film.

4.  Dhobi Ghat

Most films have stories which are set in some city but we seldom come across a film where the city forms a character in itself. Dhobi Ghat is one such film and one of the major reasons why I absolutely loved it. It is the story of a city with four people living in it. In fact, it can rightly be called an ode to Mumbai. The film takes you to the chaotic lives of the people of Mumbai from all walks of life, their daily struggles; sometimes with themselves and sometimes with others, their hopes, their desires, their dreams. Just like a free flowing river, the film has a free flowing narrative and it’s still interesting how the four people are connected to each other in the film. It’s a painting of Mumbai with people filing colors into it.

5.  Ankur

Shyam Benegal’s Ankur is one of my favourite films of all times. Interestingly, this was the first film of Shyam Benegal and Shabana Azmi who created the path for parallel or off-beat cinema as it is called now. Based on a true story, Ankur is a film that mirrors the brutal feudal system which prevailed in India and the evil social customs that had (still have) chained India. The beauty of Ankur is that it addresses various social issues from alcoholism and casteism to inequality and dowry; yet it is more about the underlying human relationships. The title of the film also has many connotations left to our imagination. It can refer to Lakshmi whose womb is waiting for an offspring to grow in it or the seedling of uprising that takes birth against the feudal system and social customs. However, if I have to pick one reason as to why I love this film then it is because of Shabana Azmi who shines in the character of Lakshmi. She excels as a coy yet strong house servant who submits to her master who is attracted to her. We don’t know whether Lakshmi also loved her master or approved of the affair or whether she used him to get the child she had been yearning for. Her eyes speak of the emotions which churn within her. Ankur is truly class apart!

This post is a part of the Miss Lovely Activity in association with Blog Adda.

Miss Lovely, an off-beat film directed by Ashim Ahluwalia is set in the lower depths of Bombay’s “C” grade film industry. It follows the devastating story of two brothers who produce sex horror films in the mid – 1980s. A sordid tale of betrayal and doomed love, the film dives into the lower depths of the Bollywood underground, an audacious cinema with baroque cinemascope compositions, lurid art direction, wild background soundtracks, and gut-wrenching melodrama. Miss Lovely is scheduled for commercial release on 17 January 2014.

You can check the trailer of the film

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চাঁদের পাহাড় : Take this journey

I am a typical North Indian who grew up watching Hindi films. And like most North Indians, Indian cinema equaled Hindi films for me. However, education brought me to South and courtesy my hostel friends, I was introduced to the world of regional cinema. And soon I realized that some of the outstanding films made are NOT always in Hindi.

Chander Pahar is my first film of 2014 and happens to be my second Bengali film in the theater. The first was Aparna Sen’s ‘Iti Mrinalini’. And I must say that I wasn’t disappointed. After a long time, I have enjoyed watching an adventure film so much and I couldn’t help but write about it. So, here I shoot!

Chander Pahar is based on Bibhutibhushan Bandopadhyay novel by the same name and as my Bengali friends tell me it is considered to be one of the finest novels in the Bengali literature. The story is about Shankar Roy Chowdhury who has got himself a job in a jute mill in his village but he yearns for a life full of adventure and risks as he is influenced by explorers like Marco Polo and Livingstone about whom he grew up reading. Luckily, he finds a job in South Africa and then starts his eventful journey in Africa.

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The first half of the film is about Shankar’s encounters with the African wild as a station master at Uganda Railways. The sequences involving the wild animals are directed so well that you can’t take your eyes off the screen when Shankar escapes the man-eater lion in the dead dark-night or when the black mamba snake crawls onto his bed. Watch out for the moment when Shankar opens his eyes and finds the snake staring at him from a few inches; the terror and discomposure on his face is just so real! One of my favorite scenes was when Shankar uses himself as a bait by drenching him into animal blood to catch the man-eating lion. The best part about the film is that it is shot with real animals and none of them are graphically developed barring the tacky ‘Bunyip’.  Remember Dharma Production’s ‘Kaal’? Made at approximately the same budget and it was also shot with real lions but what a farce it had turned out to be! The makers can learn from Kamaleshwar Mukherjee.

The second half of the film is about the journey of Shankar along with his explorer friend Alvarez to the ‘Mountain of Moon’ and the innumerable hardships they face. The film however loses its steam in the middle with the totally unwanted sequence of volcano eruption. May be I would have liked it had it been done more skillfully. The whole sequence seemed too fake and much of it was because of the shoddy graphics. But, given the budget constraints which Indian films suffer, I think I can ignore it. Following it, Shankar’s expedition through the caves, forests and desert stretches is splendid.

We have been mostly shown the ‘gorgeous’ locations of South Africa in the films but Chander Pahar shows us Africa minus the South.  The cinematography of the film is just brilliant and one of the major reasons why the film works. You cannot help but fall in love with the natural landscape of Africa. The shots in Drakensberg mountains, Kalahari desert and Kruger National Park are breath-taking. Interestingly, this is the first film to be shot in Kalahari after a gap of 17 years. In an adventure film, it is always crucial that you get the cinematics correct and Chander Pahar doesn’t disappoint.

The actor Dev Adhikari breathes the character and there is a lot of sincerity in his work. Be it is the childlike enthusiastic Shankar eager to take the quest to the Chander Pahar or the bereaved explorer fighting for survival. India doesn’t have a great history when it comes to adventure films and I  doff my hat to director Kamaleshwar Mukherjee for making Chander Pahar. It needs courage to make a film without songs & dance with two men wandering around in the jungle for 2.5 hours. Though made at a budget of just 15 crore it looks so large and glorious on-screen. Hope the Hindi counterparts can learn a thing or two who spend waste crores on shitty films. The film would have been even better if it was edited well and had a better background score as most of the time it adopts the usual tunes associated with Africa.

Chander Pahar is the story of courage, endurance and determination. The film also subtly leaves the message of humans destroying the nature as one of the dialogues says “Beasts don’t kill. It is the human greed that kills”. Last but not the least a life lesson for all of us; “It is better to travel than to arrive”.

I would suggest you to drop everything that you are doing and arrive in a theater near you. Venkatesh Films has released it with sub-titles. Take this journey and you can thank me later!

To Cinema – With Love, Bombay Talkies

The first film that I saw in a theatre was way back in 1994 when Hum Aapke Hain Kaun had released. I was in standard one and I still remember how I coaxed my dad daily to get the tickets. Yes, like many of you who read this; even I find it difficult to believe but I had this thing about movies since childhood. I am one of those zillion crazy fans around in our country who love cinema. I have made a failed attempt of getting up at 5.00 AM in the morning and travelling 20 odd kms only to get a glimpse of Shah Rukh Khan. I have for no reason maintained this list of all the movies that I have seen in a theatre till date (Keeps getting updated). I don’t mind going alone and watching a film if I don’t have company. I still get excited when I get a reply from my favourite actors on twitter. I have wasted so many hours arguing with fiends defending my favourite actor and his/her films. I hate cricket but I support KKR because it is owned by Shah Rukh. To be precise; I breathe cinema!

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Apart from the fact that Bombay Talkies celebrates 100 years of Indian cinema; I was excited because it had four of the most sought after directors to tell us four different stories. Very few films are able to pull out the lazy blogger inside me and Bombay Talkies is one of those few. So, here is what I felt about the film. NOT a review because I am no critic. This one’s straight from the heart as an audience!

Ajeeb Dastaan Hai Yeh

Karan Johar is one of my favorite directors so for obvious reasons I was most excited about his part in the film. Right from the start this story jolts you and catches your attention.The characters here are flawed and hurting as hell. You have a young homosexual who has just left his parents after a tiff with his dad who is ashamed to have a homosexual son, an editor whose marriage (read sex life) lacks passion and her news anchor husband who is lonely and finds solace in old Hindi film songs. I always like complex characters in films; probably that is one of the reasons I had loved Johar’s Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna. Few writers have such solid control over their screenplay as Karan Johar does and here too, the characters are very well written. As far as performances go; Rani Mukherjee who hasn’t looked this sexy in a long time gives a powerful performance. I have always believed she is one of the finest ‘actors’ we have and she proves it yet again. Watch her in the scene when she wipes off her make-up and says “I am free”. Lilah! Or, when she puts on the lipstick in the end; this time dressing up for “herself“. Randeep Hooda who is fighting an inner battle about his identity is superb and one can see the pain he goes through. Last but not the least; Saqib Saleem is brilliant as the young homosexual intern. Cocky, funny, disturbed and emotional. You know you have arrived when you can get noticed in spite of having seasoned actors as co-stars and Saqib Saleem does that.

Oh! And how can I forget the most important character in the film; the SONG which a small girl on railway station sings. I absolutely loved the way Karan thought of this and the way one of the characters in the film draws a life-lesson from the song. The film has to be the boldest among the four stories and also the boldest when it comes to Indian cinema as a whole. When was the last time you saw two mainstream male actors kiss on screen?  Lest I forget; a word for Niranjan Iyengar who has written the dialogues of the film – Bloody Good! Karan Johar who was in the esteemed group of so-called ‘intellectual’ film-makers makes his own mark and how! IN YOUR FACE critics!

Star

If you have Nawazuddin Siddiqui in your film then half your work is done and if the director is Dibakar Banerjee then the other half is taken care of. Eventually, what you get is STAR – Sheer brilliance! The story revolves around the life of Avinash (Nawazuddin) who once aspired to become an actor in films but could never succeed. It’s about his experience when he accidentally ends up getting a blink & miss role in one of the films whose shooting he was watching. It was such a treat to see the superb actor Sadhashiv Amrapurkar on screen after a long time. In fact his little conversation with Avinash remains my favourite from the film. Watch out for the scene where Sadashiv  throws variations of ‘Aye’. Sublime!

I also loved the way camera zooms out in the end slowly with music playing in the background as Avinash narrates the story to her daughter; brought a tear to my eye. The lady who played Nawazuddin’s wife – I would love to see you in more films! The film is about unfulfilled dreams, daily struggle of a middle class man, theatre artists and above all the love of a father. Take a bow Dibakar Banerjee, you are way ahead of your contemporaries. The only issue which I had with the film was the weird idea of having Emu as a pet in a ‘chawl‘. It might have some deeper and crazy cinematic meanings but I guess I am not intellectual enough to understand the intricacies!

Shiela Ki Jawani

Zoya’s film is about a child who wants to become a dancer like Katrina Kaif after he sees her dancing on ‘Shiela Ki Jawani’ in one of her films but the problem here is that he is a boy. His father wants him to play football which he believes is for boys and would make him tough; whereas the son likes putting on his mom’s lipstick, dressing up in his sister’s clothes and dancing on Bollywood numbers. He doesn’t play cricket with his friends but likes to observe the Kathak dance classes. The story takes time to sink in and once it does you are totally into it. In spite of some warm moments in the film; it couldn’t touch me. Much of this is because we all have seen this story somewhere; parents forcing kids to take up things which they like and suppressing their feelings.

The only thing that stayed with me was the last scene when the boy dances on stage to collect money for her sister’s trip. The applause, whistles of the audience as the boy dances with his closed eyes enjoying every moment of this instant fame like a star and experiencing freedom.  Wow! As far as performances go; there is nothing much to mention except the very cute Naman Jain who plays the protagonist. Kids always give honest performances and this one too is special. The film is not bad at all and I am sure most of you will like it. It’s just that I expected a bit more from Zoya Akhtar.

Murabba

“Kissa Kahani Dal Biriyani” used to be my favourite story book as a kid and when I was watching this film I felt as if I was reading to one of the stories from it or listening to one of those tales narrated by my grandma. Literally! Out of the four stories this one comes closest if we talk about ‘Love for cinema’. It shows how crazy, lunatic we are for our actors. A man on his deathbed has his last wish as getting a murabba tasted by Amitabh Bachchan and he sends his son to accomplish this task. “Are you fucking kidding me?” This is what anybody who comes from any place other than India would ask but we are like this only! We even have temples for our favourite stars. No? The pleading scenes with the guards and the daily struggle of the protagonist to meet the actor are heart warming and you can’t help but feel bad for him. Full marks to Anurag for the authentic treatment of the film; Uttar Pradesh comes alive on screen. Vineet Kumar who hails from the state itself does full justice to the role; the accent, dressing, style is as they say “ठेठ उत्तर प्रदेश वाला”. Also, this is the only story out of the four which had dome decent songs that went very much with the flow of the film. I dropped a tear with the protagonist as ‘Murabba‘ played in the background.

The film ends with an awful composition where all the mainstream stars from Hindi cinema come together. I would have preferred if they had played the famous ‘Om Shanti Om’ video instead. Moreover; why only Bollywood stars in a film that celebrates “Indian Cinema”? Anyways, Bombay Talkies is not about this song. It’s like the Halley’s comet that appears very rarely and brightens up the sky. Don’t miss this celebration of cinema!

My Favourite?

A tough call but I would pick up Karan Johar’s film only for the reason that it comes across as the boldest, coming of age and the riskiest of the four. Your pick?

English Vinglish : A slice of our lives

The director of English Vinglish says that she drew inspiration from her mom when she started writing the film. Her mother like Shashi (Sridevi) was an entrepreneur who had her own pickle making business and the director admits that she often laughed at her mother’s English. And after watching the charming film that English Vinglish is; it wouldn’t be wrong to say that the film takes inspiration from every woman in this country. Even I could relate Shashi to my mother very easily. In fact we all will! More than the language; the film talks about the struggle of every woman to be the perfect mother, wife and daughter-in-law. It’s the story of every husband who doesn’t care about his wife’s aspirations. It’s the story of every kid who has ridiculed her mother because she didn’t know the colonial language. It’s the story of an average middle class Indian woman who goes out-of-the-way to please her family without a complaint.

Right from the scene where Shashi keeps away her cup of coffee to serve Marie Biscuits & Tea to her mother-in-law; I could see the dutiful  woman in her. There have been so many instances where my mom has left her tea to attend to the whims & fancies of others (Including ME) only to find a nipping cup of tea when she returned. I also remember the first time my mom travelled by a plane. Though it was a domestic flight from Mumbai; she was tensed like anything. The nervousness, the anxiety and the apprehension which Shashi faces on the airport wasn’t something alien to me.  Switch to America where Shashi asks her kids on phone if they had their breakfast and took their lunch boxes. Aren’t all our mothers the same? Even today whenever my mom calls me, she is concerned whether I ate my food on time or not. As they say kids will always remain kids for their mothers. And it’s worth pondering that how many times we ask the same question? Cut to the scene where the ladoos prepared by Shashi fall down because of the prank played by her son. The dad takes no time to hold his ears but minutes later we see the mom kissing the son. Even till today, whenever I fidget around in the kitchen, I break something or the other but apart from a nano second of anger I have never seen my mom go berserk. The patience, the calmness, the love knows no bounds! And last but not the least, like Shashi all the mothers are emotional and it doesn’t take much time for tears to start trickling from the eyes. Mothers think from their hearts but ironically, they are emotionally more stronger and mature than most men.

English Vinglish is a film that goes beyond the ordinary story-telling and gives us lots of lessons to learn. Firstly, it gives a peek into the feelings of those who are not good at knowing the foreign language English and are subjected to disdain and jibes by the YO generation kids. Anyone who has ever laughed on their parents or for that matter anyone because of their inability to speak correct English should retrospect. If we can’t help somebody overcome their weakness, then at least not make them feel inferior. Secondly, the husbands/kids can learn to value their wife/mother and may be once in a blue moon say a Thank You for all that they do! Lastly, the film ends with a beautiful message that “You have to help yourself”  It’s about achieving what you want. It’s about pursuing what you love. It’s about determination. It’s about courage. It’s about winning!

It would be unfair to end the post without the mention of Sridevi. The film wouldn’t have been what it is without her brilliant performance. She is back and she is still the best. Don’t wait for occasions;  go and hug your mom tightly once and say “Mom, I love you. Thank You for being there always!” English Vinglish is a film made with a lot of heart and it will touch all of us. It’s a slice of our lives. It’s a tribute to all the dedicated yet taken-for-granted women!

Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu : PERFECTLY Average

“Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu (EMAET) has flop written all over it”  These were my exact words when I saw the trailers of the film & strongly believed that after Break Ke Baad & I Hate Love Stories this shall be another failed attempt by Bollywood to try its hand at rom-coms. And what added to my worries was that it was produced under a banner which is known for its candy floss love stories. BUT, I was pleasantly surprised and after watching it I can confidently say that it is indeed one of the finest films to be made in Bollywood pertaining to the genre.

Rahul (Imran Khan) is leading a boring, mechanical life & is burdened by his parent’s expectations. He meets Riana (Kareena Kapoor) who is exactly the opposite; fun, lively & living life on her own terms. They meet accidentally, get drunk and end up getting married. The two have to wait 14 days before the annulment comes through and the film charts their relationship over those two weeks. The plot is predictable yet delightful and the crisp screenplay & Shakun Batra’s smart direction makes it stand apart. Apart from solid direction what works  hugely for the film is its supporting cast. Boman Irani as a demanding father & Ratna Pathak Shah as the sophisticated socialite mother are just perfect as Imran’s parents. And Nikhil Kapoor as Kareena’s father is also extremely likable. All the characters are very much real with whom you can relate quite easily. In fact, you will remember meeting someone like them at some point of your life. Imran and Kareena are brilliant in the film and the chemistry between them is superb. Kareena looks drop dead gorgeous and though her character seems inspired from her character ‘Geet’ in Jab We Met, Kareena plays the part honestly and gets into the skin of her character. Riana is more sensitive, mature and above all closer to the real world. Imran is surely not the finest actor we have today but you cannot imagine any one else as Rahul. He proves that given a good script & role; he can do justice to his character like he did in Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na.

EMAET has its share of some wonderful and well crafted moments which make you smile and at the same time bring a tear to your eyes. The scene where Kareena gifts Imran a camera or when she takes her for a visit to her school or when Imran lashes out at his parents at the dining table. It also has some lighter moments, like the bathroom scene between Imran & his horny date, his interview scene with the Japanese or the scene where Kareena rates her ‘bum’. The subtle treatment without any over the top drama makes the film less syrupy which is quite unlikely for the films in this genre. Also, it is one of the few films which has a second half which is BETTER than the first and also has an end which displays the maturity of relationships (and of Hindi films). Rarely you find a rom-com which has no place for kisses or sex!

In look and style, the film is very much like any  Hollywood rom-com. The music of film is melodious and the songs seamlessly flow with the film without disrupting the pace. Amitabh Bhattacharya & Amit Trivedi are slowly emerging as the Javed-Rahman combo. David MacDonald’s cinematography captures Vegas beautifully without going for the usual skyline & casino shots . Asif Ali Shaikh’s crisp editing keeps the film below 2 hours and never makes it a tiring affair. After Wake Up Sid, this is one film that made me leave the theater with a smile. So, go for this pleasant & breezy ride and you won’t be disappointed.

EMAET can be summed up in one of the lines from the film only – “Tum perfect average ho, na kuch zyada na kuch kam karte ho.” It is a perfectly average rom-com.

ROCKSTAR : Pain, Anger, Love & Music

Few writers have such solid control over their screenplay as Imtiaz Ali does. Ali today is easily one of the best story teller of our times who tells his stories with great passion and with his recent film Rockstar he has proven it once again that no body understands the genre ‘romance’ like the way he does. It is indeed a braver and a more riskier film than his previous outings.

Rockstar has a lot of pain, anger, sorrow, agony and love.  It is about the quest of a middle class boy Janardhan for music, fame and love. Like all his films the characters in Rockstar also traverse long distances and transcend geographical boundaries. In this case Janardhan & Heer travel  from the streets of Delhi to snow-capped Kashmir and from there to the beautiful Prague.  I have always loved the way Imtiaz Ali develops the characters in his films; especially the female protagonist. In Rockstar; our Heer is confused, complex and hurting as hell. At one point she the ‘pious’ wife who is reluctant to take her relationship with Jordan further but at another point she is that passionate lover who cannot stop herself from delving into the love of Jordan. She is unfaithful but you cannot stop empathizing with her.This, probably is the beauty of her character (Wish she did justice to her role) The arrogant, high-ended and disturbed Jordan who goes about showing middle finger, bashing policemen, missing shows also seems “correct” to you. Ranbir inhabits Jordan’s complex world and infuses it with a childlike honesty. It is indeed one of his finest performance since Rocket Singh and he is of course the “Next Big Thing”.  Talking about the supporting actors; only Kumud Mishra makes an impression. He is brilliant as Janardhan’s friend, guide and manager and his raw, earthy mannerisms make him the very much believable *typical* Uncle ji from Delhi. Rockstar also will be remembered as Shammi Kapoor’s last film and the film that brought him and his grandson Ranbir together. It is beyond words to describe Shammi Sahab’s ‘final’ act as the Shehnai player Bismillah Khan. The jugalbandi –  ‘Dichotomy of Fame’ where he plays the Shehnai & Ranbir plays the guitar gave me goose bumps and I couldn’t hold my tears. Yes you are missed!

The soul of Rockstar is it’s music. Probably a slap on all those who had written Rahman off. A.R. Rahman‘s tunes, Irshad Kamil‘s words and Mohit Chauhan‘s voice create sheer magic on-screen. All the songs are intelligently incorporated into the screenplay and don’t seem out-of-place. It is easily the best album of the year. A special mention for Irshad Kamil who I believe is one under rated lyricist. Have loved his work right from his first film Chameli. Rockstar review is incomplete without a mention of ace cinematographer Anil Mehta. I don’t think anyone has captured Kashmir more beautifully on-screen than what he did in Rockstar. And the way the concerts have been filmed. Superb!

  • Was fascinated by the Kashmiri Pandit wedding which was shown probably for the first time on 70mm. Than you Imtiaz for this. (Wish the now refugee community returns back to their homes soon)
  • ‘Kun Faaya Kun’ took me to another world all together. The last time it happened was when I had heard ‘Khwaja Mere Khwaja’ on screen.
  • All the scenes in Delhi took me back to my under graduation days (Bahut ‘gand machaya’ hai) Oh Delhi! You beauty. You don’t know how much I love & miss you. Bangalore sucks!

With every film Imtiaz is maturing & improving as a director. And I say that as I saw that one quote in the end. Tugged at my heartstrings!

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
there is a field. I will meet you there ~ Rumi