Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Hannah And Her Sisters, A Mess

Must say, this wasn't all that funny for a Woody Allen movie. Not that it wasn't, but it was slightly more serious but not uncomfortably heavy.

I think when Woody Allen thought about the script, he was under depression and had many thoughts running in his mind. The movie has many themes, each quite suitably handled by the actors.

Hannah's husband Elliot gets entangled in a relationship with her sister, Lee. He seems to have lost it for Hannah because of self-sufficiency and resentment of her emotional strength (picked from Wikipedia). Lee, herself, is living-in with a reclusive artist, Frederick. And seems like she has lost it for him as she doesn't feel equal.

Then there is the third sister, Holly, who is not too sure what she wants in life. She is contemptuous of Hannah despite the financial dependency.

The only comic relief in the entire set-up is neurotic Mickey, Hannah's ex-husband. Of course, Allen plays that role, so you can be rest assured that he is funnily irritating. Now, his part in the movie explores life, death religion and spiritual awakening.

It is a typical Woody Allen movie, albeit a bit serious.

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Purple Rose Of Cairo, The Real & The Reel

Woody Allen never disappoints. If you are looking for meaningful cinema about serious issues without getting a headache but certainly that can exercise muscles in the face and gut, chose any one of his flicks. You will never be disappointed.

The Purple Rose of Cairo is a very interesting film with an innovative treatment.

The movie, set in the Great Depression era, is  about a Cecilia (Mia Farrow) who is married to an abusive Monk (Danny Aiello). She makes many failed attempts at moving out of the marriage but returns, finding no place to go. The only solace in her life is movies.

While watching The Purple Rose of Cairo for the fifth time, Tom Baxter (Jeff Daniels), a character in the movie breaks the fourth wall, and runs away with Cecilia. They begin to like each other and fall in love. A pandemonium breaks out as the cast in the movie are now not sure what to do with Baxter gone and movie goers are puzzled with how the movie will proceed.

Gil Shepherd (Jeff Daniels) who plays Baxter on the screen is brought into solve this peculiar situation. In the process, he also falls in love with Cecilia. An interesting scenario.

This is a very intelligent movie that keeps you entertained in every scene. I loved the scenes involving Baxter in the real world and the cast of the movie on the screen conversing with people in the real world. Must watch!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Why Rajinikanth Is A Superstar?

That Rajinikanth can still command a salary more than any other Indian star can only imagine and that in the recent past his movies evoke strong interest across the nation and many other countries, despite being a Tamil film hero, is pretty intriguing. As a Tamilian, I do feel very proud about that.

I have been a Kamal Hassan fan since I was a kid. I have had fights with my mother, classmates and cousins over who is a bigger/better hero. There would be extreme excitement and nervousness during every Diwali and Pongal to figure out whose movie would be a bigger hit. And most of the times, I would end up with bitterness, as the dark skinned and ugly hero would romp the box office.

Rajini to his fans is demigod.

Interestingly, some ignorant lady tweeted saying that Rajinikanth is only about style and smoking. Or something to that effect. In fact, to many, and even to me for a long time, Rajini was all about style. He has a very weird way of doing things. Whether it was wearing glasses or smoking a cigarette or just a simple walk, his style element has become legendary.

He cannot dance. His range of emotions is limited. Most importantly, as I said earlier, he is anything but good looking. He doesn't even possess a well built body, a must for all the new age actors. Then what is it that makes Rajini a phenomenon?

  • The vacant spot: Before the Rajini-Kamal era, it was MGR-Shivaji period. Quintessentially, while one entertains the masses, the other takes up the cudgels for performance.  Kamal and Rajini were fighting for the dominance till a point came when consolidation of turf became inevitable. And it was during this period that the two stars decided to chart out a different course for each other. With a grounding in the film industry, Kamal naturally filled in for Shivaji Ganesan. And Rajini became the mass hero. But just as Kamal is different from Shivaji, Rajini is completely different from MGR.
  • The style element: There is no denying that style was and is Rajini's differentiating factor. I would be only look stupid if I even elaborate further on this. I have, despite my devotion for Kamal, always attempted Rajini stunts, often failing in it. I especially love the cigarette flick and wearing the glasses. In an industry that has always been crowded with many aspiring for the glamour and fame, his signature styles helped him establish and make a mark for himself.
  • The look: It has often been said that people like Rajinikanth resembles the common man, hence the masses love him. They are able to relate to him, it is often said. Well, it does sound true. But then, MGR was anything but dark. While I don't think it is incorrect, I cannot agree with it completely.
Long time back, when I was servicing Lason India, the then President of the company, Mr. Pradeep Nevatia, said that the more a person grows up the ladder, the more one has to be humble. He went on to explain that a person reaches the top because there are many supporting from below. Losing humbleness, is akin to kicking the very ladder in which one is standing. In Rajini's case, the glamour and fame never got into his head. Rajini's fans hold him in respectful veneration. He is very approachable. I can vouch for it, myself.

While what I have pointed out certainly contributed to his success, I think it is his own story that people like. It's well known that Rajini's is that of rags to riches. He was a bus conductor who, through dedication, perseverance and hard work, grew to stardom. People relate to him, because he is one of them. Not just in real life, but also on the screen. His movies are always, almost always, about a humble poor man who through hardwork and struggle succeeds. It is a recurrent theme. Dharma Durai, Padikadavan, Panakkaran, Velaikaran, Veera, Muthu, Annamalai, Arunachalam, Basha, Padayappa and Sivaji. There may be slight differences but at the core is the story of struggle and success.

Rajini is not a superstar because of his acting skills. He is, because he is a symbol for an ordinary man. He gives hope. He represents struggle. He is a beacon of light for those who want to succeed. In Public Relations, there is a concept called perception reality dissonance. In Rajini's reel and real life, there is just no dissonance. And that makes him the phenomenon, that he is!

Coming this from a die hard Kamal fan, means a lot! :)

PS: A note to Ilaya Thalapathi Vijay and Simbu. You may fancy occupying the space that Rajini might vacate. And I think you are already imitating him. Remember you can easily copy what he does on the screen. But it would be better if you learn more from the true self.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Luck By Chance: Shades of Grey

Javed Akhtar must be a really proud father. Farhan-Zoya Akhtar, the twins, are probably the most talented Directors in Bollywood today. Farhan, of course, excels in acting department with his subtle underplays, too.

I loved watching Luck By Chance and advice people who love intelligent films not to miss it.

The movie revolves largely around Farhan Akhtar and Konkana Sen. While Farhan who has just passed out of an acting school is aspiring to make it big, Konkana is an actor whose stars are fading. But believe me, the movie does justice to every character in the film. Be it Rishi Kapoor who acts as a hassled producer or Hrithik, a super star, or Dimple Kapadia, an ex-star and mother. The film is complete.

Every character's life is interconnected with others in some way or the other. It is also pretty realistic in the sense that every character has shades of grey. Especially, the way Farhan makes his moves. In one scene you may hate a particular character, but in another scene you realize that it was fine and empathize.

While the movie is set in the film industry, it could easily be in any industry. Though it is close to reality, it wasn't a bit nauseating which is often the trademark of Madhur Bhandarkar.

Hoping to see from Zoya.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Atithi Tum Kab Jaoge: Soaked In Culture

This is like a Hrishikesh Mukherjee movie set in contemporary times. Ashwni Dhir, the director, does a nice job in giving lessons in Indian cultural, capture the urban lifestyle and all the while tickle the funny bone. Maybe, just maybe, a few moments, it was bordering preachy, but it never crosses the limits.

All the three main cast - Konkana, Ajay and Paresh - have given a nice measured performance.

The movie is about a couple with small kid who receive an unannounced guest. Everything seems fine, till the couple realize that the guest is in no hurry to leave. To add to their misery, he is a simpleton with no exposure to urban sophistication. The couple use a variety of methods to eject the guest out, but meet with failure every time. However, in the end they realize their folly and understand the valuable contributions he has made.

If you are looking for a movie that will entertain you and also teach a lesson about hospitality, watch it. I particularly loved the bit where Ajay takes Paresh to the shooting spot where the latter takes fascination for Viju Khote! Athithi Tum Kab Dekhoge!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Baton Baton Mein: Fall In Love

The smile you acquire when watching this movie gets fixed long after it gets over. Set in 1970s in Anglo-Indian community in Mumbai, the movie is about mature apprehensive people falling in love with each other.

Baton Baton MeinTina Munim has bad experience because of which she is apprehensive about men. Amol Palekar, who is just settling into a career, doesn't want to rush into marriage and commitment. He is also finding his ground and wanting to come out of his mother's shadow.

The innocent comedy apart, every song in this movie is beautiful. All characters stand out.

I wouldn't mind watching the movie again for the songs and ravishing Tina Munim. Falling in love with her. Of course, now she isn't what she was then. :(

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Karthik Calling Karthik: A Pep Talk

Karthik Calling Karthik (New Farhan Akhtar Hindi Film / Bollywood Movie / Indian Cinema / DVD)

The movie is about a submissive pushover Karthik. Pushed to an extreme, he decides to take his own life. Just at that moment, he receives a call. A call from himself! The story moves with the Karthik-over-phone (KOP) mentoring the real-life-Karthik (RLK) on how to redeem his honor and win.

Life changes completely and the new Karthik seems invincible. The twist comes when he has to admit that he receives calls from himself to Shonali (Deepika), the lady love. Despite being warned against it by KOP, RLK commits the blunder. An angry KOP is now determined to 'finish' RLK. And thus begins the nose dive for the latter.

What happens to RLK, thereafter? Who is KOP? That's the story.

The treatment for a serious subject like Schizophrenia, I must say, is shallow. But that doesn't mean the movie is bad. The trademark muted performance of Farhan Akhtar and pretty Deepika keep your eyes glued. Though I felt the chemistry was lacking between the two. The movie is certainly not for the masses. Though it is not gripping, it certainly doesn't bore you.

Ninja Assasin: Disgruntled Employee

Blood on the dance floor. Errrr...sorry, blood all over the screen. People get cut as if they were birthday cakes and blood splashes as from an exploded undersea oil well.

A visual treat, this movie is nothing else. Raizo, an orphan, is raised in a Ninja training centre. The godfather is strict task master with no heart. Interestingly, this movie starts with reference to a heart and ends with a similar note.

Disgruntled by the attachment-less life, brutal life and watching his girl-friend die in the centre, Raizo chooses a different path.

It's strictly for martial arts and graphic fans.

3:10 To Yuma, Miss It

3:10 to Yuma (Widescreen Edition)
Unless you are a fan of Russell Crowe or Christian Bale or love Western, you may conveniently miss it.

Ben Wade (Crowe) is a famous outlaw. Dan Evans (Bale) on the other hand is an impoverished rancher and Civil War veteran who is seeking some honor.

Upon Wade's capture, Evans joins a group of men to deliver him for arrest on the 3:10 to Yuma. The movie is about Wade's attempt to flee and Evan's resolve him to deliver. Both fight and save each other from different difficult situations.

Finally, emotionally attached Wade helps Evans redeem his honor.

Usually, I would have cried, but I kept wondering why did everyone have to go through so much difficulty. Either the concept of encounter killing was unknown in that period or common sense was missing. Despite the fact that Wade kills two of the group during their journey, he still has almost complete freedom. Were people so naive, then.

The movie has received positive ratings, I am not sure why. Watch it without any expectations.