Saturday, 22 June 2013

Bawarchi (1972) Review by Shivom Oza – This Cook Did Not Spoil The Broth!

3.5/5 Stars

Bawarchi, inspired by the Bengali film, Galpa Holeo Satyi (1966), by Tapan Sinha, revolves around the disgruntled Sharma household, who cannot retain a cook for more than a while, owing to their rude behaviour. And then, the affable Raghu enters, and overstays his welcome!

The Hrishikesh Mukherjee film can be described in two words - Simply charming. In fact, any of the legendary filmmaker's films could be given the same description. Bawarchi belongs to a genre that so many filmmakers in today's day and age are trying to recapture. Any story which does not abandon the Indian-ness despite being embedded with western influences, works for us. Bawarchi is a story that reminds us of ourselves. And mind you, so many elements put forward in the film are still very relevant, even four decades later.

No person wants to take up the cook's job at the chaotic Sharma household. Their Shanti Nivas is riddled with ashanti, and no member in the family is leading a peaceful life. All of them carry their problems to work/school/nowhere and back home, and vent out all their frustrations at each other, which leads to much negativity. Add to that, the absence of a cook only increases the tension, leading to much irritation and blame-game!

Enter Raghu (Rajesh Khanna)! Within a few days, Raghu mixes up nicely with everybody in the household. He's absolutely impeccable at his work. Moreover, he takes that extra effort to solve everyone's problems at home. He even sorts out differences between estranged family members, and acts as an agent of change in the Sharma household.

But, how could a cook be so knowledgable, one wonders! Is there more to it than what meets the eye?

There is no dull moment in the film. It has everything that the regular cinema viewer in you would want to watch in a movie. It has got drama and comedy in abundance; music is nicely tailored in, and the suspense element towards the end takes the film to another level. Performances by Khanna, Jaya Bachchan, Usha Kiran, A. K. Hangal and Asrani, stand out. Meanwhile, Amitabh Bachchan's voice works wonders for the narration in the film. Music by Madan Mohan has its 'old-world charm', which may never be created again. Gulzar's dialogues form the perfect foil to Hrishikesh's perfectly-conceived scenes.

More than anything, the film manages to be very witty, despite going down the 'preachy' path, more often than not. Rajesh Khanna's monologues, if listened to intently, will leave you with a melancholic smile on several occasions. There's a certain sense of overwhelming quality in these underdog-films, where you cheer on as those who have for long suffered, decide to stand up for themselves. There's a certain sense of relief in such films, when you see good things happen to good people. Such films give us hope to fight back against all that's negative in our lives. 'Goodness' always wins. While we may not see it happen around us often, it is important that we believe in it.

This cook did not spoil the broth!

Shivom Oza 

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Enemmy (2013) Review by Shivom Oza – Not Very Viewer-'friendly'

1.5/5 Stars
'Enemmy' is a film about four buddies (do you sense irony here?). Suniel Shetty and Kay Kay Menon play foster brothers in this crime-drama, which revolves around
the police-underworld-politics nexus. Mithun Chakraborty plays a senior investigator, who is looking into a robbery case.

There are moments in the second half, when you do notice a semblance of a good script. There is a clever story hidden in the film, and it shows, albeit occasionally. However, most technical elements, such as dubbing, editing, music, screenplay among others, fail to make the cut.

An innocuous robbery takes place in broad daylight. A lot of money is involved, which should apparently reach a dreaded gang lord Mukhtar Menon (Zakir Hussain), but is stolen by four mercenaries. No one knows who the four mercenaries are!

Four police offers begin hunting for these apparent fugitives – Eklavya Karmarkar (Suniel Shetty), Eric Colaco (Johnny Lever), Madhav Sinha (Mahakshay Chakraborty) and Naeem Shaikh (Kay Kay Menon).

But, the real story begins to unravel when Yugantar Sharma (Mithun Chakraborty) enters the picture, and turns the entire investigation on its head.

The way in which the equation between the police department and the criminals, has been portrayed, is quite engaging. However, the production values, the unnecessary songs, needless characters, over-the-top, gravity-defying stunts and the occasional hamming does mar the film a trifle!

Mithun Chakraborty and Kay Kay Menon have got the best dialogues and scenes, and both the seasoned actors live up to their billing. Suniel delivers a decent performance as the ‘Bhau’ of the gang.

The film fails to impress, mostly owing to poor editing and misplaced scenes. Overall, the film is a half-baked affair!

'Enemmy' is promising in some parts. However, these parts are too few, and far in between.

Shivom Oza

Friday, 14 June 2013

Man Of Steel (2013) Review by Shivom Oza – Just Falls Short Of ‘Super’

3/5 Stars

Every superhero franchise has gotten an overhaul ever since Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy (Batman Begins, The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises) tasted success. This time, it's Superman's turn. 300 and Watchmen director Zack Snyder is at the helm of this story, co-written by David S. Goyer and Nolan. The trailer of Man Of Steel has generated a lot of hype among the audiences. Let's see if the film is worth all of it!

Man Of Steel gets a lot of things right. It mixes up the dark elements (which we associate with the recent Batman films) within the commercial space wonderfully. The screenplay and the dialogues are also a good mix of cheesy and hard-hitting.

Where the film falters is the length, the casting of the principal villain Zod and the never-ending, repetitive final face-off between Superman and his nemeses. However, it is a fine film. Trailer flattered to deceive a little bit, but then you all are going to watch it anyway. So, I must stop the ranting.

As planet Krypton is nearing destruction, Jor-El (Russell Crowe) and Lara Lor-Van (Ayelet Zurer), send their biological son, Kal-El (Henry Cavill), to Earth to carry their race forward.

While Jor-El and Lara Lor-Van do face resistance from Krypton's military commander, General Zod (Michael Shannon) (who has now turned hostile, and planned a coup against the establishment), Kal-El does get transported to Earth eventually.

Zod, along with his team of mercenaries, is caught, and is sentenced to spend all eternity in the Phantom Zone, an eternal living void.

Kal-El, who finds himself in a different environment altogether, struggles to adapt to the human world during his childhood. However, while growing up (with the name given by his adopted parents Jonathan Kent (Kevin Costner) and Martha Kent (Diane Lane), Clark Kent), he realizes the significance of the superpowers that he has been bequeathed from his place of origin.

Kal-El/Clark Kent is rechristened once more (SUPERMAN!), when he puts on his suit, and readies to wage a battle against Zod, who successfully managed to escape the Phantom Zone.

The first-half of the film (setting of the basic premise, the marvellous special effects in the Krypton sequence, Kal-El inadvertently showing-off his superpowers, the wonderful conversations between him and his adopted father, the introduction of Amy Adams, and to top-it-up Hans Zimmer's enchanting score) is terrific.

The film, especially in the first hour-and-a-half, wonderfully balances out the quirkiness of a commercial superhero film and the seriousness of a coming-of-age story.

It is in the latter half, when the film really begins to drag. The final face-off, involving a lot of hand-to-hand combat and innumerable explosions, between Superman and his nemeses lasts for almost an hour.

While the action and the special effects are brilliant, the repetitiveness of this never-ending last act does mar the impact, a trifle!

The dialogues of the film, especially the ones involving Kal-El and his two fathers (biological and adopted), are well-written and performed. Watch out for those scenes!

The highlight of the film is our superhero's bravado! There's a scene in which Zod is threatening Kal-El's adopted mother Martha. At this point, the man in the blue suit swoops in and beats the evil commander up to smithereens, while warning him to not threaten his mother. For the lack of a better word, such scenes are absolutely filmy, and manage to keep your interest alive!

The one major downside to the film is the runtime. With a shorter duration, the film could have been much better.

Not bereft of flaws, but entertaining enough.

Shivom Oza

Friday, 7 June 2013

Yamla Pagla Deewana 2 (2013) Review by Shivom Oza - Quite A Mixed Bag!

2/5 Stars

Deols (Dharmendra, Sunny Deol and Bobby Deol) are back with the sequel to their 2011 hit 'Yamla Pagla Deewana', 'Yamla Pagla
Deewana 2'. This time, the conning game will get bigger, with the conniving father-son duo (Dharam and Gajodhar) trying to pull off a heist in UK. 

Notwithstanding the magnificent screen presence of the Deols, 'Yamla Pagla Deewana 2' does leave a lot to be desired as far as the 'entertainment' quotient is concerned. Several gags and one-liners, albeit funny on paper, do not transcend well on screen. However, the superb soundtrack and the camaraderie between the Deols, does salvage the film to a large extent. It should work for audiences that do not mind slapstick humour. 

This film is not a continuation to 'Yamla Pagla Deewana'. Barring the three principal characters, Dharam (Dharmendra), Paramveer (Sunny Deol) and Gajodhar (Bobby Deol), 'Yamla Pagla Deewana 2' begins on a completely different note. Dharam and Gajodhar lead extremely comfortable (and dishonest) lives in Benaras, by duping people. Paramveer, meanwhile, is a recovery officer working for a bank in U.K. The conning duo never let the righteous Paramveer know about their misdeeds, and pretend that they are running a flower business in India. 

Dharam and Gajodhar come across a wealthy NRI businessman from U.K., Sir Yograj Khanna (Annu Kapoor), in Benaras, and decide to make him their next target. Dharam persuades Gajodhar to impress Yograj's daughter, Suman (Neha Sharma), and convince her for marriage so that they can acquire all his money. Everything goes as planned till the father-son duo land up in U.K., for the marriage!

Dharam and Gajodhar have to face a few uncomfortable truths during their stay over there, which sets the premise of the film. 

Story-wise, 'Yamla Pagla Deeqana 2' offers something different from the usual fare that is meted out in the 'commercial' cinema space. The screenplay, somehow, manages to do justice to the plot as well. The various twists in the film are well-placed, and move the story along wonderfully. However, the humour, more often than not, lacks the punch. The principal villain Dudeji (Anupam Kher), and his two sidekicks Bunty-Babli (Johnny Lever and Sucheta Khanna), may get overtly slapstick for your comfort. Their side-plot involves the making of a virtual mall (which will consequently become the eighth wonder of the world). In order to acquire land for this mall, Dudeji sends Bunty and Babli to take control of Yograj Khanna's nightclub. Bunty-Babli choose to get into unusual disguises (while taking inspiration from Shah Rukh Khan's 'Don', Sardars, Samurai and the likes) so that nobody recognizes them. There's also an orangutan, Einstein, who befriends Dharam and Gajodhar, and goes on to play a very important part in the story. Johnny-Sucheta's characters, the orang-utan’s antics, and the inclusion of Sumo wrestlers and Ninja fighters, do provide this film with a quirky flavour. However, none of these sequences manage to invoke more than a guffaw. 

The action in the film is all 'Sunny Deol'. Deol can move beyond 'Gadar', but 'Gadar refuses to leave the man. The action is very much similar to what we've been accustomed to see in his films, over the years.

These aforementioned instances do seem like fillers in what was potentially a very good dra-medy! A few of these gags could have been done away with, since they unnecessarily lengthen the duration of the film. 

The film's primary USP is the music (Sharib-Toshi and Sachin Gupta). Songs such as the title track, 'Changli Hai Changli Hai', 'Main Taan Aidaan Hi Nachna' and 'Suit Tera Laal Rang Da', and their excellently-shot-and-choreographed videos, infuse a lot of life and colour into the film. 

The Deols, as expected, deliver exceptional performances in the film. While the hilarious duo of Dharmendra and Bobby Deol have the best dialogues, Sunny pulls off a coup of sorts, managing to perform comedy, action, romance and drama with élan. 

Australian model-turned-actress Kristina Akheeva is extremely impressive for someone who is acting in her first Hindi film. Neha too, impresses with her whole 'Salman Khan-die-hard-fan' act. 

Director Sangeeth Sivan and writer Jasvinder Singh Bath had a great concept at hand. Doing away with a few unneeded gags would have worked wonders for the film. Overall, the film is a half-baked affair, and only die-hard Deol fans will enjoy it!

Shivom Oza

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Mere Haule Dost (2013) Review by Shivom Oza – Such A Howler!

1/5 Stars

I had found the premise of Mere Haule Dost was quite interesting, which is why I thought that I should review the film. It revolves around 5 friends, Mota, Bong, Dada, Bheja and Paisa (all nicknames, presumably), who want to go on a bike rally in the Himalayas but do not have the resources.

However, a good concept has to be executed in the same manner. Mere Haule Dost fails to transcend a decent premise into a passable screenplay. Most aspects about this film, from the dialogues to the camerawork to the screenplay to the performances, are amateurish. Notwithstanding the poor production values, the film, which encompasses elements like friendship, trust and love, fails to connect with the viewer at any level.

The basic plot has been already given above. Beyond that, the film focuses on the problems that the five friends face in their personal lives (matters of money, heart etc.).

None of the performances leave a mark. Writer-director Nitin Raghunath tries to capture real situations out of the lives of ordinary college-going students. However, it gets too much into detail, hence making the end-result very cringe-worthy. The basic story had a fair bit of potential, the only positive from the film.

This one’s a howler!      
Shivom Oza

Now You See Me (2013) Review by Shivom Oza – Just Not ‘Magical’ Enough

2.5/5 Stars

Director Louis Leterrier (of ‘Transporter’, ‘Transporter 2’, ‘Clash Of The Titans’ and ‘The Incredible Hulk’ fame) brings together distinguished actors (Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, Mark Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson, Isla Fisher and Jesse Eisenberg) for this film, which revolves around the world of magic.

The screenplay is crisp and fast-paced, and the performances are brilliant. However, the climax (with the supposedly unfathomable twist in the end) leaves a lot to be desired. However, ‘Now You See Me’ is very much watchable. It will keep you engaged through its duration of two hours, and the premise is quite interesting. Clichéd, but interesting enough!

Four street-magicians, J. Daniel Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg), Merritt McKinney (Woody Harrelson), Henley Reeves (Isla Fisher) and Jack Wilder (Dave Franco), receive mysterious invitations from an entity named 'The Eye'. Four of them, who happen to vaguely know about each other, land up at the given address only to be greeted with an empty house laden with a few surreal objects.

A year later, these four street-magicians turn into big-time stage illusionists in Las Vegas. Referred to as 'The Four Horsemen', the team is sponsored by Arthus Tressler (Michael Caine), who is an insurance magnate.
The magicians decide to end this show by pulling off their biggest trick – a bank robbery.

So, their volunteer is apparently tele-ported to a bank in Paris, where he activates an air-duct, which sucks up the money and transports it to the show in Las Vegas.

FBI agent Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo) and Interpol Agent Alma Vargas (Melanie Laurent) are called upon to investigate into the theft. We are also introduced to Thaddeus Bradley (Morgan Freeman), an ex-magician who makes money by revealing the secrets behind other magicians' tricks. Thaddeus goes on to play an important part in the film's story.

What follows is a cat-and-mouse game between the law enforcement and 'The Four Horsemen'!

The element of suspense is inherent through the film, as you can never figure out who the 'bad guys' are till the climactic moments. The magic tricks, pulled off in this film, are clichéd but presented in a lavish manner. Visually, the film is brilliant and credit for that should go to the people behind the production design, and the director. The dialogues, especially, deserve special mention.

Concept-wise, the film had the potential to be way better than what it was. It falters at the moments where it matters the most. In films of other genres, if the climax of a brilliant film is a bit underwhelming, it is still forgivable. However, in a film like this, where a viewer's perspective can be overturned just by the ending, ‘Now You See Me’ leaves a lot to be desired.

‘Now You See Me’ is fairly entertaining. However, with a better-written climax, it could have been way superior. It's quite watchable though.

Shivom Oza

Monday, 3 June 2013

Monsoon Wedding (2001) Review by Shivom Oza - Join The Celebrations!

3.5/5 Stars

Indian weddings are, more often than not, known to be dramatic. If it's a Punjabi wedding happening in Delhi, the drama multiplies. Moreover, if it's an arranged marriage interspersed with ego clashes, financial troubles, bitter memories and incessant delays, there's chaos! Welcome to Mira Nair's 'Monsoon Wedding'!

The film is a complete entertainer, filled with drama, emotion, romance, lust, song-and-dance, deceit, betrayal, breach of trust and loads of laughter. At no point, do the aforementioned elements hijack one another, and that is what makes the film an engaging watch. 

Lalit Verma (Naseeruddin Shah) is a worried man. Having taken up the responsibility of taking care of his daughter Aditi's (Vasundhara Das) marriage with an NRI, Hemant Rai (Parvin Dabbas), Lalit finds himself troubled by financial, family-related, work-related and organizational problems. 

In addition, his wife Pimmi (Lilette Dubey) keeps nagging him, his elder daughter Ria (Shefali Shah) is yet to come to terms with a traumatic childhood incident, the 'contractor' 'P.K' Dubey (Vijay Raaz) keeps demanding money without producing results, his elder brother Tej (Rajat Kapoor) burdens him furthermore by insisting on providing more funds and the no-good Rahul (Randeep Hooda) keeps bugging him with his inefficiency. Lalit is a troubled man. Will he be able to pull off the 'Monsoon Wedding'? 

The film treads the fine line between subtle and over-the-top. To imagine an actual marriage (in real life) to be as dramatic as this one, would be a bit far-fetched. The marriage in the film lasts for four days, and within this limited time period, Mira excellently captures relationships. Be it Lalit's changing equations with his wife owing to his growing responsibilities, Ria's moment of vindication and her family's acceptance, P.K Dubey's harmless flirting with the house-help Alice (Tillotama Shome), Hemant and Aditi's acceptance of each other among so many other instances, all of them incorporate realistic settings, dialogues and performances. 

The music of the film (Mychael Danna) is fantastic, and goes well with the 'dhoom-dhaam waali shaadi' concept. Sabrina Dhawan has penned an excellent screenplay, showing the more liberal side of Indians living in metropolitan cities. The only other film to do the same was 'Dil Chahta Hai', which released during the same year. As far as performances go, not a single cast member disappoints. Notable efforts by Naseeruddin Shah, Vijay Raaz, Shefali Shah and Tillotama Shome, lift this film to another level. The final 30 minutes of the film are absolutely delightful. Yes, all the dots do join, and in the most celebratory manner! 

Join the celebrations!

Shivom Oza

Saturday, 1 June 2013

Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani (2013) Review by Shivom Oza – Kuch Zyaada Hi ‘Lambi’ Kahaani!

2.5/5 Stars

Ayan Mukerji made a scintillating debut with the coming-of-age drama ‘Wake Up Sid’ in 2009. With ‘Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani’, the writer-director sticks to the ‘coming-of-age’ theme. The film revolves around how four fairly different individuals (Bunny, Avi, Aditi and Naina) deal with friendship, love, success, failure and consequently, life!

Buddy comedy, coming-of-age drama, travel adventure, marriage extravaganza, familial melodrama and multiple love triangles - 'Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani' mixes up too many elements. There are quite a few sparkling moments in the film. The equations between several characters have been showcased brilliantly. However, owing to some implausible side-plots and the never-ending-length, the film leaves a lot to be desired.

3 friends Bunny (Ranbir Kapoor), Avi (Aditya Roy Kapur) and Aditi (Kalki Koechlin) set off on a trip to Manali, expecting a life-changing experience. Bunny is a middle-class boy who doesn’t want to lead his life in the conventional way. In his words, ‘Main daudna chahta hoon, udna chaahta hoon, girna chahta hoon’. The effervescent Bunny wants to travel the world, and wants every day in his life to be dramatic and eventful.

Avi is a sentimental (and temperamental) guy, who depends too much on his best friend Bunny. The guy has no focus in life, and cannot handle either alcohol or money.

Aditi is a tomboy. Unabashed, brave and gutsy on the outside, but very emotional deep-within!

So yes, these three individuals are quite different, but that’s what works in their friendship. The three are joined on this trip by Naina, an introverted medical student, who wants to break free.

What transpires in this trip, which drastically changes the lives of these four characters, and how they come to terms with its repercussions eight years later, is what ‘Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani’ is all about.

Several elements don’t work for this film. It could have done away with at least three dance numbers. A big chunk of the film (close to 40 minutes) involves a marriage, and so, all kinds of song-and-dance sequences have been thrown in. Yes, the soundtrack of the film is very good, but the lip-syncing and the over-the-top choreography are reminiscent of dance numbers in Karan Johar’s (the producer) ‘Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham’ and ‘Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna’.

Secondly, the screenplay is very inconsistent. It seems too slow at some places (the aforementioned marriage sequence, the entire Manali trip) and too rushed at some (climax, patch-up between bickering friends).

Thirdly, the film is long. 160-odd minutes!
There are good points as well. The dialogues are wonderful. Ranbir Kapoor, Deepika Padukone, Farooq Shaikh (who plays Bunny’s father) and Kunaal Roy Kapur (delightful cameo) deliver exceptional performances. The music, as already mentioned, is wonderful. The locations are absolutely magnificent.

Ayan is absolutely terrific at capturing relationships. The scenes involving Bunny and his father strike a chord. Even scenes wherein Bunny defends his lifestyle are well written, directed and performed.

The film is quite a mixed-bag. That’s why am sitting on the fence with 2.5 stars.

Shivom Oza