Archive for the Bollywood Category

Queen

Posted in Bollywood with tags , , , , , , , on June 3, 2014 by Roshan Mathew

Looks like Tis the season for coming of age movies in my life. First Adele in the devastatingly poignant Blue is the warmest Color, then puppy eyed, hormone crazed Renato in Malena and now Rani in Queen. I was struck by the fact that these three movies, in very different languages ,from very different socio ecomnomic backgrounds , are all united by the same pathos of experiencing all the pain and joy that comes with adulthood. One of the very reasons I love watching foreign language movies is this very fact, that we are all united by our emotions and that pain and happiness transcends language and that we are all united by the human experince. Now, let me get down from my philosophical pedestal and get to the review.

Directed by Vikas Bhal , with a very heartwarming script by Vikas Bhal, Chaitally Parmar and Parveez Shaikh. Rani, (Kangana Ranaut) is a very typical, very over protected Punjabi girl. She helps run her fathers sweets shop, is escorted everywhere by her phyalman(someone who looks like a wrestler) brother and in preparation for her inevitable future as a wife, studies Home Science in college. For all non Indians yes it is a real degree from real colleges even in the 21st century!

Rani is marrying Vijay( Raj Kumar Yadav) with whom she has been in a relationship for the past couple of years.( When I say relationship I am talking about the Indian relationship, which is very chaste and innocent. Most of the time it is not really  love, but the idea of love as they envision it for themselves, which is usually modeled from the omnipresent Bollywood movie stereotypes of lovers) Then out of the blue, Vijay very matter of factly dumps Rani a day before the wedding. A devastated Rani, locks herself in her room, wanting to escape the embarrassment and sympathy of the people around her. She reflects on the start of her relationship and all the plans she had made for the future, including her honeymoon trip to Paris and Amsterdam. She asks her father to let her go for her honeymoon trip by herself. The overprotecting father reluctantlysuccumbs to her desire seeing the pain she is in. The rest of the movie s about Rani’s experiences in Paris and Amsterdam and her journey about understanding herself and realizing her self worth.  She makes some life changing friends in Paris  the exuberant, extroverted Vijayalakshmi played by the gorgeous Lisa Haydon, and  thoughful, loyal Oleksander(Mish Boyko), energetic and lovable Taka(Jeffrey Ho) and friendly Tim and the token handsome Italian Marcello(Canadea Lopez Marco) in Amsterdam.

As Rani travels, the experiences she has along the way makes her reflect on her relationship with Vijay. She sees how he was very controlling and self absorbed. We see her initial feelings of helplessness and accommodation towards Vijay give way to rage at the way she was treated by him. She didn’t even have enough self awareness or even know that she had the right to demand to be treated better, because of her upbringing and this idea of accommodation that is  forced into most Indian women. The problem with this is, how do you understand the line between accommodation and succumbing to mental or physical abuse, when that is what you are taught by your parents and the society around you?  Rani  is able to see beyond the obvious differences in skin color and culture in her new friends and is able  broaden her understanding of people and ultimately herself. What starts off as an escape from her heartbreak ends up being a journey of self discovery and introspection. The most beautiful thing about these discoveries is that she never loses sight of who she is as a person, but comes into a deeper understanding about parts of  herself she didn’t know even existed or were suppressed and gains the courage to be herself as she sees all these new acquaintances embrace her for herself.

The stand out of course is Kangana Ranaut. I knew she was a good actress, but had not gotten a chance to see much of her work. Her Rani is pitch perfect. This character could’ve gone into dumb territory before you got through the first half hour, but it is entirely to Kangana’s credit that her Rani strikes the balance between naive ,overprotected, intelligent and open hearted and not between dumb and dumber. Just like all the friends she makes on her travels, we the audience can’t help but love her. My favorite scenes are her breakup scene with Vijay, the Paris taxi driver dance  and the mugging scene. Lisa Haydon(half Malayalee BTW) as Vijaylakshmi almost walks away with the whole Paris section of the movie. She did a good job as the free-living, partying, single mother who takes Rani under her wing in Paris.  The Amsterdam crew was also perfectly cast. Other than Tim. I don’t see the point of that character being there other than to introduce the right mix of color into the group(He is French African). Raj Kumar Yada( Vijay) was another stand out in the whole movie as the love to hate, a***** who broke our Rani’s heart. Vikas Bhal, the dircetor was very good at capturing the myraid of emotions and changes that Rani goes through. Lot of time spent of character development, which was great. I wish the movie was shorter, especially the Amsterdam section could have been cut short.  Cannot understand why Indian movies have to be so long. Most of the narrative gets at least a bit compromised when you have to fill 3 hours of screen time. Case in point 24 hour news cycle!

In spite of its length you can’t help loving this simple, heartfelt, well acted, well-directed, well written lighthearted coming of age story. Parents of teenagers, this is a wonderful movie to watch with your almost adult. Some themes of sexuality, drug and alcohol use.

 

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Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara Review

Posted in Bollywood with tags , , , , , , on July 21, 2011 by Roshan Mathew

Plot Summary

Kabir(Abhay Deol) is getting married to Natasha(Kalki Koechlin) and he wants to go on a bachelor road trip to Spain with his school buddies Arjun(Hrithik Roshan) and Imraan(Farhan Akthar). Each person is allowed to pick one activity that the others in the group has to participate in. The story is about the journey they go on that will force each of them to face their insecurities, fears and ultimately the hard, but necessary truths of their lives.

Going into more detail will spoil the movie for the audience because the beauty of Zoha Akthar and Rima Khatgi’s script is the simplicity and they way they peel off thin layers of each character’s facade to reveal who they really are. It is not just a travel channel journey through picturesque Spain, it is a journey that each of the characters takes to arrive at the truth of who they really are and to rethink the way they approach life. Just like any great trip, this trip makes them rethink their own life .As anyone who travels knows, it’s not really the places that you see, but the people you meet and the experiences you share that makes travel so life changing and memorable.

The movie has a lot of great moments and the three men have great chemistry with each other and really does feel like they are having the time of their life. Its a fun joyride that really makes you want to chuck your 9-5 job and head out on a road trip. The music by Shankar Eshan Loy is perfect for the movie and there are not many lip sync dance/ song numbers by the cast. The songs serve as soundtrack and the one song where they are singing ,has really been sung by the actors. Katrina Kaif as Laila was good for the part and a good casting decision as there are not many actresses that  are naturally  sporty and physically fit in Bollywood. Zoha really did bring the best out of Hrithik (who I am not a huge fan of), who has given a believable, restrained performance. Abhay Deol was voice of reason in the group and was a pleasant surprise as I have not seen any of his previous movies. Farhan in my opinion was the best of the group. His character was the one undergoes the toughest metamorphosis and the one that had to have an actor who has great acting chops. Have to say he did an amazing job.

 I did not feel there was a dull moment in the movie. I was throughly entertained during the whole 2 and half hour movie! Director/ script writer Zoha Akthar has done a wonderful job on her sophomore project after “Luck by Chance”. The script was great as each of the character was very well thought out and the writers did justice to each of these character’s personal journey. Zoha has managed to make a thoughtful, intelligent and soulful movie with a lot of heart. One of the best Hindi movies I have seen in 2011. A must watch.

I am

Posted in Bollywood with tags , , , , , , , on May 26, 2011 by Roshan Mathew

This movie has a lot to say! It’s a multi – narrative drama that tells the story of  four individuals in modern India.

Afia(Nandita Das)- a successful web designer whose was unlucky in love decides to be a single mother with artificial insemination. She faces tough opposition from all sides, as it is unheard of in Indian society to raise a child by yourself without being part of a traditional marriage.

Megha(Juhi Chawla)- A displaced Kashmiri pandit whose family was kicked out of Kashmir because they were Hindus. She makes a trip back to military controlled Kashmir to sell her ancestral home to her childhood(Muslim) friend(Manisha Koirala)

Abimanyu(Sanjay Suri)- A man struggling to move forward in his life because of his past sexual abuse by his step father. He is forced to confront his demons when his mother calls with the news that his abusive step dad is dying.

Omar(Rahul Bose)- A  gay man, who is feeling more confident about his sexuality with the easing of India’s strict homosexuality laws.

Common thread of the stories is that these are all individuals that refuse to live a lie and be miserable because of the fear of being ostracized by society.  They refuse to conform to tradition – which is the most convenient excuse that Indian society/family uses to have their own will executed. Indian society does not reward individuality, that is something to be crushed. These characters dare to pursue their personal happiness.

What’s special about this movie is that, this movie was produced with money raised mostly through social networking sites like Facebook.  Some of the actors worked for free and friends of the director, who are fashion designers provided the wardrobe for the actors. Because of the subject matter most studios did not want to produce it.

Sexual abuse and homosexuality are topics that are seldom acknowledged, let alone discussed in the majority of Indian society. These are taboo subjects. Especially in rural areas. So any step toward getting a dialogue started is a step in the right direction.

The stories are executed well, except Megha’s story in Kashmir. I felt that the director/script had a lot of bullet points that they needed to cover and crammed it into situations to accommodate all those points. The narrative was lost and as an audience  felt very discombobulated. One minute Megha is reminiscing about with her childhood friend and the next minute lashing out about the unfairness. A lot of unnecessary elements that just informs the viewer about the horrible situation there, but does not provide anything to move the story forward . For example Megha meets her friend’s brother who is a reformed terrorist/ informer for Indian military. But he is not important or relevant to the narrative in any other way, other than to let us know that people who live there now(Muslims) face difficulties too.

Rahul Bose and Nandita Das gave really strong performances. Juhi Chawla was adequate and Sanjay Suri looks good on screen. A decent movie, with some good performances and great issues that needs to be bought to light.