Review:English Vinglish

on Thursday, October 25, 2012

Producer: R. Balki
Director: Gauri Shinde
Starring: Sridevi, Mehdi Nebbou, Priya Anand, Adil Hussain
Music: Amit Trivedi
Lyrics: Swanand Kirkire
Genre: Drama
Recommended Audience: General
Film Released on: 05 October 2012

English Vinglish
marks the return of Sridevi who returns to the silver screen after a hiatus of 15 years and not only does she deliver a flawless performance but the film has plenty of subtle happy-vappy and sad-vad moments that everyone experiences in daily life which gives it repeat value. Right from the opening scene, the movie makes you feel like you are in a typical home in India with an uncomplaining and patient wife, a husband who earns a good living, two cute kids and a loving mother in-law, Shulbha Deshpande. The story is about Shashi (Sridevi), a Maharashtrian housewife who quietly puts up with the playful and insensitive jokes from her husband and kids pointing to her inability to speak proper English. It's such a terrific performance by Sridevi that every mother will at one point or the other find herself in the place of Shashi! But it’s not only about English. It’s also about how we take mothers for granted. How we rant, shout, make rude remarks, even feel embarrassed at our own parents (like Shashi’s daughter sulks at her inefficiency).

In return what the mother gives is selfless love. Shashi is not only a doting mother and loving wife but also a small scale entrepreneur who delivers homemade laddoos! It’s the only skill she is proud of but the fact that her husband isn’t equally proud saddens her. Eventually she comes to a conclusion that only English speaking people are stylish and important. The cameo by Amitabh Bachchan fits in the plot and the fun tit bits will be remembered by the audience, for example, the moment she has to fly to the USA she is all panicky and gets up in middle of the night asking her husband not to send her alone. My heart goes out for Shashi in the song “Jiya Ra Dhak Dhuk”.
The main story begins in the US showcasing the dazzling New York along with the skyscrapers where Shashi decides to learn English and meets all her affectionate friends, a collection of immigrants—a Pakistani cab driver Salman Khan, a Tamilian software engineer, a Spanish-speaking nanny, a young Chinese girl who works in a parlour, a largely silent African man who (like the instructor David) is homosexual. Last but not least is the Frenchman (Mehdi Nebbou) who is a cook and a fervent Shashi-admirer with whom she opens up comfortably in Hindi and he tries to console her in French. These are the moments you feel there is no need of a language between two friends to feel good. At times even silence is enough.
The amazing support cast of English class makes you laugh all the way and the nuances of the English language in various regions are funnily portrayed. Priya Anand fits into the role of an empathetic girl with a lot of freewill who likes her Shashi maussi and encourages her to learn English. The tense moment for Shashi where the French man tries getting close to her is portrayed in the song “Gustaakh Dil” that follows and her revelation that she doesn’t need love but needs some respect are all shown so damn naturally.
Sridevi’s expressions undoubtedly add flavour to the movie. The scene where she is all smiles when the groom Kevin is mesmerised by tasting her mouth wateringly fresh laddoo and her husband Adil Hussain (K.K.Menon look alike) immediately cracks a joke that “She is born to make laddoos”, the way her smile fades and her expression changes is well done. “Navrai Majhi” brings you in to the Marathi wedding mood!
The final speech given by Shashi about how important it is to have a family and feel important in this vast world is all heart touching. She thanks the Frenchman saying he made her feel good about herself.
Hats off to Gauri Shinde for this well-crafted movie (debut directorial) and kudos to Amit Trivedi for music which blends well with the movie. Three cheers to Navika Kotia who plays Shashi’s daughter is also a natural along with son Shivansh Kotia who is as cute as a teddy bear. All said and done this is a full-on Sridevi movie and she passes with flying colors. Though aged she is beautifully balanced with dignity and grace but keeping the girly kiddish charm which she always had. Welcome back!


on Wednesday, April 6, 2011
Story: Corrupt cop Chulbul Pandey ( Salman Khan ) needs to bridge the distance with his step brother, Makkhi (Arbaaz Khan) and stepdad, Vinod Khanna, on the behest of his mother (Dimple Kapadia) even as he needs to set his own house in order by marrying the potter girl (Sonakshi Sinha) who refuses to succumb to his charms. And if that's not enough, there's the local goon, Sonu Sood and the crumbling administration of the small town that is craving his attention too. Can Chulbul Pandey deliver? Movie Review: For anybody who wants to know what is the on-screen definition of Bollywood (read popular mainstream Hindi cinema), Dabangg is truly text book fare. It's loud, crazy, zany, exaggerated, larger-than-life, almost nonsensical, totally make-believe, comic book like, complete kitsch, generously peppered with the mandatory desi tadka (garnishing) of songs and dances that keep popping out of nowhere and is literally oozing with star charisma. Most importantly, it's not meant to make sense. It's only meant to entertain. And entertain, it does in overdoses. No, this isn't meant for people who are looking for different cinema. Nor is it meant for the viewer who likes movies to appeal to his head. Yet, for those who celebrate and serenade the `silliness' of mainstream masala movie lore and swear by its popcorn quotient, Dabangg is the greatest getaway of the season. Debutant director Abhinav Kashyap chooses to walk the road that makes a complete U-turn from brother Anurag Kashyap's edgy, hard-hitting, realistic cinema and opts for a signature tune that re-invents the age-old formula in aaj ka idiom. Plot-wise, the film might make you cringe with it's hackneyed tale of two squabbling step brothers who have the arduous task of keeping the great Indian family together. And guess who's making life even more difficult for the parivaar? Who else but the local goon (Sonu Sood) who tries to play one brother (Arbaaz Khan) against the other (Salman Khan). But all this brouhaha about a non-story is truly irrelevant, because there never was supposed to be a story in Dabangg. The only factor that was supposed to be there was Salman Khan, Salman Khan, Salman Khan...followed by some more Salman Khan. So just sit back and savour the star power of an actor who chooses to enunciate the role of a thoroughbred entertainer. Salman's corrupt cop act as Chulbul Pandey, playing Robin Hoodin a semi-rustic environment is so engaging, you are willing to forgive and forget everything else. As soon as you begin to realise the film hasn't moved at all in terms of story, bingo! There comes Salman swinging his bare fists around, ducking bullets, spewing mischievous threats and abuses, making eyes at his girlfriend (Sonakshi Sinha), creating chaos in his dysfunctional family and breezily breaking the rules with his brattish ways. And in case you still tend to get a bit restless, there is the Pelvic! Watch him gyrate in sync with all those uproarious tunes and you'll be down to your last coin, having flung all the loose change you have on chartbusters like Munni Badnam Hui....And finally, if you still want more, there's the shirt-ripping sequence, where our desi hulk gets to showcase his sculpted torso without having to unbutton it. It simply tears on its own! Now didn't we tell you Bollywood films have their own undefinable logic.... Dabangg is designed as a vehicle to showcase the star charisma of Salman Khan and the actor literally hits bull's eye. He has a ball on screen and makes sure you join the party too. Aiding him are two special factors: the excellent action choreography by S Vijayan (watch out for all of Salman's slow motion antics and the Matrix bends and leaps that are sure-fire taali-seeti fare) and the foot-tapping music score by Sajid-Wajid and newcomer Lalit Pandit. The locales of the film too are exotic and re-create the hinterland ambience that is becoming so popular in Hindi cinema today. Set in a small, sleepy, one-horse town in Uttar Pradesh, Dabangg creates an alluring canvas of decay and dissolution, even as it celebrates the ordinariness of the aam aadmi's life. In terms of performances, the show is definitely anchored by Salman Khan , but debutant Sonakshi Sinha too stands tall. As Salman's silent, shy, yet gritty girlfriend, she has great screen presence and a spontaneous charm. Bad guy, Sonu Sood too ends up as an interesting adversary to our local Robin Hood while Arbaaz Khan articulates the angst of the underdog brother. But hey, in the end, Dabangg is not about theory and analysis; it's only about the Zandu Balm effect of cinema: completely home grown, hybrid, purely desi stress-busting therapy. Period. A word about: Performances: It's a Salman show all the way. The actor is completely in command as the larger-than-life entertainer who knows all the rules of the Bollywood hero act. Newcomer Sonakshi Sinha too impresses with her spontaneity and spunk. Story: Now that's the weak link. Too hackneyed, this tale of sibling rivalry. Dialogues: They spring straight from the Hindi heartland and are street-smart, colloquial and sometimes silly. Cinematography: The small town has been created well with all its colourful disarray by cinematographer Mahesh Limaye. Action: Now that's the highpoint! S Vijayan's absolutely unbelievable stunts truly add to Salman's larger-than-life image. Music: Dabangg boasts of a great soundtrack by Sajid-Wajid, with a special number by newcomer Lalit Pandit: Munni Badnam Hui which is fast topping the charts as item number one! The fight between good and bad has been the fodder of many a Hindi film of 1970s and 1980s. In fact, it wouldn't be erroneous to state that these films dominated the cinema of yore and a lot of us, who have grown up on masala films/wholesome entertainers, will vividly recall the serpentine queues outside cinema halls and a mad scramble to book the tickets of those films. Hardcore masala films were relished with glee by the audience then.However, for some inexplicable reason, masala films became extinct or should I say, disappeared from the face of Hindi cinema over a period of time. GHAJINI and WANTED revived this genre, bringing back memories of the bygone era. Now DABANGG takes this genre one step ahead. Be forewarned. DABANGG is rustic, has loads of action, harps on the age-old mother-son and varied relationships [half-brother, step-father], eventually turns into a vendetta fare, has a number of songs placed smartly in the narrative [including an item number]... but the packaging is slick and polished. Sure, it's old wine, but packed in a brand new bottle, with a new brand ambassador [Salman Khan] endorsing this masalathon. Most importantly, it has Salman like never before. Breathing fire and venom, Chulbul Pandey aka Robinhood Pandey taps Salman's star power like no film has and the result is sheer magic. In fact, DABANGG stands on three pillars - Salman's star power, smashing stunts and super music. Final word? Salman fans, rejoice! You walk in DABANGG with 100% expectations and you exit with 200% gratification. Entertainment guaranteed. This film will create a pandemonium of sorts, a mass hysteria, crushing old records and setting new benchmarks at the box-office. Set in Uttar Pradesh, DABANGG is a story of Chulbul Pandey [Salman Khan], a totally fearless but corrupt police officer with unorthodox working methods. But even the most fearless at times face a tough fight with their innermost demons. Chulbul has had a bitter childhood. His father passed away when he was very young, after which his mother [Dimple Kapadia] married Prajapati Pandey [Vinod Khanna]. Together, they had a son Makhanchan [Arbaaz Khan]. Prajapati favors Makhanchan, which does not go down well with Chulbul. He decides to take control of his destiny and detaches himself from his step-father and half-brother. His sole attachment is his mother. However, after his mother's demise and an unsuccessful attempt to mend wounds, Chulbul snaps all ties with his step-father and half-brother. Rajo [Sonakshi Sinha], with her unique perspective of life, enters his world and turns life upside down. Chulbul starts to see life more positively and also gets sensitized to the value of a family. But his detractors, especially the dubious Cheddi Singh [Sonu Sood], have their own vested interests and emerge as spokes in the wheels, putting one brother against the other. Makhanchan ends up carrying out an act oblivious to the consequences. When Makhanchan realizes he has been used, he turns to Chulbul. Will Chulbul take his extended hand? Will the brothers be able to thwart their detractors? The job of a promo is to give a gist of the film and prepare the audience well in advance about what to expect when they saunter into an auditorium. The promos of DABANGG have sent the right signals to the audience about it being a paisa vasool entertainer. Let's face it, DABANGG has nothing ground-breaking to offer as far as its plot is concerned. We've visited similar stories in the past, but what makes DABANGG shine, and shine brightly, is Salman's star power, which camouflages the aberrations wonderfully. The darling of the masses has been cast in a role that his fans love to see him in, which explains why this film works from start to end. Like I pointed out earlier, DABANGG is special for two more reasons: S. Vijayan's stunts and Sajid-Wajid's music, with an additional song by Lalit Pandit. Talking of action scenes, Salman's introduction at the start and the fight-to-finish in the climax will send the masses in frenzy. To state that the action scenes are outstanding, especially the fight in the finale, would be an understatement. In the finale fight, when Salman's shirt tears apart and the rippling muscles and the bare-chest fight ensues, mark my words, it will lead to chaos at mass-dominated centres, especially at single screens. The climax will be one of the prime reasons for repeat viewing, for sure. It's difficult to accommodate music in an action film, but Sajid-Wajid come up with a melodious score. The title track, 'Tere Mast Mast Do Nain' and 'Munni' [composed by Lalit Pandit] are the icing on the cake. Director Abhinav Singh Kashyap is in his element. He's made an out and out entertainer with an eye at the masses and he succeeds in his endeavour. Doing justice to vintage formula is no cakewalk, let's not forget. Besides, the director stays away from going overdramatic while handling the dramatic and emotional moments. This explains why you don't exit the theatre with a spinning head. Mahesh Limaye's cinematography is perfect. I'd like to make a note of the editing [Pranav V. Dhiwar], which is super-slick in action scenes. Dialogue, especially those delivered by Salman, will be greeted with claps and whistles. Especially the one 'Itne chhed karunga'. Salman Khan is the boss, when it comes to playing to the masses. This film reaffirms this truth. The role provides him ample opportunity to prove his star power and he does it with remarkable ease. Let me put it on record. DABANGG is yet another landmark film in his career, besides MAINE PYAR KIYA, HUM AAPKE HAIN KOUN, JUDWAA [tapping the funny side], TERE NAAM [tapping the emotional side] and WANTED. Sonakshi Sinha looks fresh, acts confidently and pairs off very well with Salman. Most importantly, she delivers the right expressions and is not overpowered by the galaxy of stars in the cast. Arbaaz Khan is efficient. He underplays his part well. Sonu Sood is electrifying, matching up to Salman at every step. In fact, the fight in the finale between Salman and Sonu is awe-inspiring. Vinod Khanna is excellent in a role that has grey shades. Dimple Kapadia is truly wonderful. Anupam Kher is, as always, good. Ditto for Om Puri. Mahesh Manjrekar doesn't get ample scope. Mahi Gill is alright. Tinnu Anand is effective. Murli Sharma is nice. Malaika Arora Khan sizzles in the 'Munni' track. On the whole, DABANGG is a full on entertainer with three aces - Salman Khan like never before, stylish action and super music. It's a foregone conclusion that DABANGG will open huge. As far as the business prospects are concerned, the film will set new benchmarks, so much so that DABANGG will be one of the yardsticks to gauge the level of business in times to come. Sure to fetch an earth-shattering opening, the film will create a pandemonium at the box-office, cementing the status of Salman Khan as the darling of the masses and making the distributors laugh all the way to the bank. It has Blockbuster written all over it!


on Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Pulp Fiction (1994)

One of the early scenes in "Pulp Fiction" features two hit-men discussing what a Big Mac is called in other countries. Their dialogue is witty and entertaining, and it's also disarming, because it makes these two thugs seem all too normal. If you didn't know better, you might assume these were regular guys having chit-chat on their way to work. Other than the comic payoff at the end of the scene, in which they use parts of this conversation to taunt their victims, their talk has no relevance to anything in the film, or to anything else, for that matter. Yet without such scenes, "Pulp Fiction" wouldn't be "Pulp Fiction." I get the sense that Tarantino put into the film whatever struck his fancy, and somehow the final product is not only coherent but wonderfully textured.

It's no wonder that fans spend so much time debating what was in the suitcase, reading far more into the story than Tarantino probably intended. The film is so intricately structured, with so many astonishing details, many of which you won't pick up on the first viewing, that it seems to cry out for some deeper explanation. But there is no deeper explanation. "Pulp Fiction," is, as the title indicates, purely an exercise in technique and style, albeit a brilliant and layered one. Containing numerous references to other films, it is like a great work of abstract art, or "art about art." It has all the characteristics we associate with great movies: fine writing, first-rate acting, unforgettable characters, and one of the most well-constructed narratives I've ever seen in a film. But to what end? The self-contained story does not seem to have bearing on anything but itself.

The movie becomes a bit easier to understand once you realize that it's essentially a black comedy dressed up as a crime drama. Each of the three main story threads begins with a situation that could easily form the subplot of any standard gangster movie. But something always goes wrong, some small unexpected accident that causes the whole situation to come tumbling down, leading the increasingly desperate characters to absurd measures. Tarantino's originality stems from his ability to focus on small details and follow them where they lead, even if they move the story away from conventional plot developments.

Perhaps no screenplay has ever found a better use for digressions. Indeed, the whole film seems to consist of digressions. No character ever says anything in a simple, straightforward manner. Jules could have simply told Yolanda, "Be cool and no one's going to get hurt," which is just the type of line you'd find in a generic, run-of-the-mill action flick. Instead, he goes off on a tangent about what Fonzie is like. Tarantino savors every word of his characters, finding a potential wisecrack in every statement and infusing the dialogue with clever pop culture references. But the lines aren't just witty; they are full of intelligent observations about human behavior. Think of Mia's statement to Vincent, "That's when you know you've found somebody special: when you can just shut the f--- up for a minute and comfortably enjoy the silence."

What is the movie's purpose exactly? I'm not sure, but it does deal a lot with the theme of power. Marsellus is the sort of character who looms over the entire film while being invisible most of the time. The whole point of the big date sequence, which happens to be my favorite section of the film, is the power that Marsellus has over his men without even being present. This power is what gets Vincent to act in ways you would not ordinarily expect from a dumb, stoned gangster faced with an attractive woman whose husband has gone away. The power theme also helps explain one of the more controversial aspects of the film, its liberal use of the N-word. In this film, the word isn't just used as an epithet to describe blacks: Jules, for instance, at one point applies the term to Vincent. It has more to do with power than with race. The powerful characters utter the word to express their dominance over weaker characters. Most of these gangsters are not racist in practice. Indeed, they are intermingled racially, and have achieved a level of equality that surpasses the habits of many law-abiding citizens in our society. They resort to racial epithets because it's a patter that establishes their separateness from the non-criminal world.

There's a nice moral progression to the stories. We presume that Vincent hesitates to sleep with Mia out of fear rather than loyalty. Later, Butch's act of heroism could be motivated by honor, but we're never sure. The film ends, however, with Jules making a clear moral choice. Thus, the movie seems to be exploring whether violent outlaws can act other than for self-preservation.

Still, it's hard to find much of a larger meaning tying together these eccentric set of stories. None of the stories are really "about" anything. They certainly are not about hit-men pontificating about burgers. Nor is the film really a satire or a farce, although it contains elements of both. At times, it feels like a tale that didn't need to be told, but for whatever reason this movie tells it and does a better job than most films of its kind, or of any other kind.

The Namesake

title :The Namesake
actors :Irrfan Khan , Tabu , Kal Penn
directed by :Mira Nair

The film tells the story of an expatriate Indian couple living in New York. The story begins in early 70s. Ashoke Ganguly (Irrfan Khan ) marries a Kolkata girl, Ashima ( Tabu ) and they emigrate to the US. It takes some time for Ashima to adjust to the lifestyle of the west.

A few years down the line, Ashima gives birth to a son, Gogol, and a daughter, Sonia.

Thereafter begins the tale of slow but unreceding conflict within Gogol ( Kal Penn ), who finds himself torn between the western lifestyle in the American society all around him and the Indian culture in his home. His friends poke fun at his unusual name. Overtime, Gogol begins to dislike his own name and his traditional parents.

In order to find an identity of his own, Gogol changes his name to Nikhil, or Nick, and begins dating a white girl (Jacinda Barrett), thereby openly going against the wishes of his parents who want him to settle down with a Bengali girl.

On the other hand, Gogol's father Ashoke stands as a liberal minded man who sticks to his roots and his values without shunning the western culture.

One meeting with his father Ashoke begins to change Gogol's life. In the meeting, Ashoke explains to him why he was named Gogol, (after Ashoke's favourite author Nikolai Gogol). A tragic incident that changed Ashoke's life in 1971 prompted him to name his son Gogol.

The story then comes to a crucial point when Ashoke dies of heart attack, leaving Ashima alone and shattered. His father's death brings new realizations to the prodigal son. Now, Gogol begins to see and realize who he really is.

Irrfan Khan and Tabu are simply superb together. Irrfan gives a controlled, understated performance while Tabu is highly expressive even when she is not delivering any dialogues. Kal Penn gives a decent performance. Jacinda Barrett is competent.


UP :animated:
Directed by
Pete Docter
Bob Peterson

The movie focuses on 78-year old man Carl Fredrickson's (voiced by Edward Asner) life who always had a dream of going on a journey to South American to see the wilds of it. He buys thousands of balloons just to attach it to his house to float up in the sky. So, he starts with his journey up in the sky in his house with balloons attached to it. Suddenly, he's not alone and somebody's at the door while flying, it's a boy scout kid named Russell. He invites the boy with him on his journey to South America.

Just brilliant and simple story-telling, beautiful visuals as usual with Pixar, awesome voice work, funny and smart dialogue, beautiful score once again by Michael Giacchino & very, very enjoyable characters. Speaking of characters, the highlight of the film: Dug the Dog. A sort of "robot" dog that will have you have you in a lot of stitches each scene that dog is in and that was the case with me. Simply, one of the funniest characters Pixar ever made. Pete Doctor, one of the four Pixar directors (John Lassester, Andrew Stanton, Brad Bird) who directed Monster's Inc (2001) needs and should get nominated for his clever, genius and smart directing of this but if Stanton didn't get the nods for (Finding Nemo and WALL-E) and Bird for (The Incredibles & Ratatouille) which they should of been, then the Oscars are making another HUGE mistake for not nominating this guy for this movie.

Up is the funniest Pixar movie, funnier than the Toy Story movies, A Bug's Life & Finding Nemo which were the funniest, in my opinion. The movie is not just hilarious, it's emotional and sad at times. Like WALL-E, it focuses on the character feelings but not as magical as WALL-E. Still, Up is full of emotional, fun and hilarious proportions.