Katha – A Fable, Less Known

In the year 1983, Coolie grossed millions riding on the sympathy wave generated by Amitabh Bachchan’s injury during its shoot. 1983 also saw Jeetendra dancing Tathaiya Tathaiya Ho all the way to the bank for his Himmatwala. In that same year, a little known gem also released; a gem called Katha directed by Sai Paranjape.

We live in an age where DVDs of Hollywood are an essential ‘research’ for most Bollywood movies. But here was a slice of life drama-comedy which was based on the simple premise of the fable of hare and the tortoise; the hare being the inimitable Farooque Shaikh and the turtle being the ever dependable Naseeruddin Shah.

The story is simple enough. In a chawl in Mumbai (then, Bombay) lives Rajaram Purushotam Joshi (Naseeruddin), a clerk who just become ‘permanent’ at a shoe company. Altruistic, conservative and shy, Rajaram spends his days working overtime in the office, helping out everybody in his little world and secretly loving his next door neighbor, Sandhya Sabnis (the effervescent Deepti Naval). In comes Bashudev Bhatt (Farooque) who is the diametric opposite of Rajaram, not just in virtues but also in vices. He is fast-talking, quick thinking, selfish, cunning and confident guy who knows how to live the good life. Bashu not only takes over poor Rajaram’s room (kholi) but also gains a foothold into his office by getting close to his boss, his boss’s wife (the wonderful Mallika Sarabhai) and daughter. As if these heartburns weren’t enough, Bashu causes heartache for Rajaram by getting close to Sandhya. Finally a day comes when Sandhya’s parents ask Rajaram to play matchmaker and ensure that Bashu and Sandhya get married. How does a free-spirit like Bashu react to this? What happens to Rajaram? And in today’s day and age, does the tortoise really beat the hare? For knowing all these, you will have to check this film out.

The cast of this film was the real hero. Three eminent talents of 1980’s so-called parallel cinema were deftly complemented by a vast array of character actors (some of whom were residents of an actual chawl in Mumbai; Salunkhe Chawl). All the characters and instances in the movie are easily relatable to almost any average Indian’s life. We all have a Rajaram and a Bashudev in us and no matter how much we love the former, we hate being him and no matter how much we detest the later, we know that he is the one who will eventually succeed in life. The movie even boasts of two highly hummable songs ‘Tum sundar ho’ and ‘Maine tumse kuch nahin maanga’ composed by Raj Kamal.

It is such a pity that this movie never really got its dues. Under the desert of mediocre superhits of 1980’s, there are many such gems waiting to be rediscovered. Go ahead and get yourself a copy. Maybe you will become more forgiving of the 80s, maybe.

 

 

Rating: 8/10

 

pic courtesy: wikipedia.org

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Don 2: If SRK tried any harder, he’d be Shahid Kapoor

This review probably comes a little late considering it has been a couple of months since the movie released and helped Sirish Kunder soar into previously un-imaginable levels of fame. But how could we not talk about the movie whose greatest achievement, arguably, is reducing this to this.

Unlike a lot of moviegoers out there, Don 2 was not a disappointment to me. Honestly. If I’d have expected anything worthwhile from someone whose “magnum opus” was a movie named Ra.One, then I guess I deserve the dung that was Don 2.

What is disappointing though, is how Farhan Akhtar, whose relatively good directorial skills have given us movies such as Dil Chahta Hai & Lakshya, allows SRK to take over the reins of this movie completely. From the opening sequence where a pony-tailed, cigarette smoke engulfed “D” slides into the screen on a speed-boat to the closing where he meets up with his ‘gang’ at a rendezvous point in the middle of a bridge (which apparently is in the middle of some ocean?) on a super-bike wearing his awesome cool dude clothes and awesome cool dude shades ……

… it isn’t difficult to see that every shot in the movie has been driven and manipulated by the (once) great Khan.

The entire movie is one man’s effort to make meaning of his mid-life crisis.

The plot is a cliché – one man putting together a team to attempt a seemingly impossible heist, but the twist at the end is refreshing.

There are some decent stunts, like the chase sequence, while the others are stuff that we’ve seen enough times.

And while the original Don was about punch-lines and dialogues that one doesn’t forget, in this one, the Don just doesn’t stop talking!!

“bandook se sar khujane mein jo mazaa hai woh kahin aur kaha jaaneman…”

Priyanka Chopra and Kunal Kapoor are extras. Boman Irani is a wasted talent. And Om Puri.. my dear face-full-of-craters Om Puri.. you really need to tell someone off when they are giving you re-cycled dialogues from 20 years ago.. I mean when you went all “police tumein charo aour se gher chuki hai.. apne aapko hamarei hawale kar do” the entire movie hall burst out laughing..

"yeh maine kya kar diya..."

At the end of the day, I think the best part about the movie was Hritik Roshan’s 3 minute role. And that’s saying a lot about the movie.

My rating: Click

pics courtesy: hindustantimes.com

Welcome to the Rileys (2010)

How often is it that you see the great James Gandolfini, famous for the intensely scary and incredibly ruthless image as Tony Soprano from the HBO series Sopranos, cry? Not a lot, you might say. Well then how often is it that you hear him tell someone off for using the f-word too many times? Never, I’d say.

"i'm gonna kill you and then i'm gonna have my breakfast.."

Welcome to the Rileys is an unexpectedly impressive movie that I chanced upon this past weekend. I must be honest, the moment I read that Kristen Stewart, from the Twilight ‘fame‘, plays a lead in the movie, I was.. disappointed, to say the least… I mean..

Y U No smile??

But at the end of the 2 hours or so, I couldn’t help myself from looking at my wife and going, “that was good!”

The movie follows Doug Riley (Gandolfini), who on his business trip to New Orleans, chances upon a young Florida runaway working as a stripper – Mallory/Allison (Stewart). In Allison, he tries to find the love and care he might have had for his dead daughter. Mellisa Leo plays Doug’s wife, Louis, who is so disturbed by the death of their daughter, that she refuses to get out of the house, even if its to get the mail. But that’s until she decides to drive down to New Orleans to make things work with Doug. And Allison is just too torn between wanting the love that the Rileys try to shower her with and her own inner demons. There’s really only that much to the story. However, it is in the portrayal of these characters that the actors shine. The directory Jake Scott (son of the famous Ridley Scott) does an impressive job of creating a tight depiction of every important character in the movie. There is no one in the movie that the movie could have done without, nor do they linger on unnecessarily. But there is one more character that the director very lovingly portrays – New Orleans. The post-Katrina efforts of the city to regain its normalcy is visible in so many subtle scenes that it is just impossible to miss.

Gandolfini is at his best and Stewart, I cant believe I am saying this, actually does a good job. In fact, she won the Best Actress award at the 2011 Milan International Film Festival!

Go watch the movie if you get a chance. You might have a change of heart about Kristen Stewart. And may be, even Gandolfini.

My rating: 6.5/10

pictures courtesy:

blog.bullz-eye.com
chzmemebase.files.wordpress.com

Agneepath: It’s all in a name

It is ironic that my very first review on this blog is of a film that is a remake of classic, I’ve grown up watching. I’ll still try to be objective, but do overlook an occasional lapse.

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What is in a name, right? In Karan Johar’s Agneepath of 2012, Mandwa could have been Diu instead of a mythical island off the coast of Mumbai where the sun never shines. Vijay could have been Ajay, Master Dinanath could have been Master Hariprasad and Kaancha could have been Kunvar. This is the thing about Agneepath. It is a completely standalone story that could have been “Pratishod” or “Krodh” and it wouldn’t have mattered much.

The movie starts like the original; with the altruistic Master Dinanath Chauhan who has a penchant for speaking like Dharmendra of Satyakam and for quoting the poem, Agneepath. The déjà vu, though, ends when the Masterji dies and Vijay opts for a rather low profile burial than taking the dead body on a cart while chanting Agneepath and cremating it.

Thereafter the story moves to Mumbai from where the story takes a completely different turn. I’ll just stick to the discrepancies here. In this Agneepath, Vijay is more calculative and cunning. He has no qualms about dealing with drugs. He seems to have a lot of public support simply by financing an ambulance and Kaali’s (Priyanka Chopra) Chinese beauty parlour. He is also the more brooding type who continues to be haunted by his childhood. This somehow shaves off a lot of dimensions from the character. But just when you become comfortable to this Vijay, he turns around and inexplicably becomes a super-hero who can still pull up a guy like Sanjay Dutt after being stabbed multiple times!

The patience-testing Krishnan Iyer (YemYeah) of 1990 has thankfully been done away with. Plenty of characters have been tweaked to make way for Rauf Lala (the magnificent Rishi Kapoor) and the audience is indebted to director Karan Malhotra for the same. Sanjay Dutt as Kancha Cheena is on precarious grounds. He looks menacing when he laughs and snorts but falls flat when he’s chanting shlokas from Gita. Priyanka Chopra is relegated to being a pretty but irritating dancing extra. Hrithik Roshan…hmmm.. I personally feel that he was a bit of miscast in this movie. I’m not being biased towards lineage, but I really feel that Abhishek Bachchan could have lent more gravity to Vijay Dinanath Chauhan. Zarina Wahab as Vijay’s mother is a major letdown. She doesn’t stand her ground and you never really trust her allegiance. Owing to an obvious ‘liking’ that I have for Katrina, I shall resist the temptation to comment on her ‘item song’. 🙂

Technically, the movie looks good. The set design (especially the Mumbai of yore) by Sabu Cyril is great. Production values are consistent throughout. The dialogues pass muster. All the ingredients are there but they just don’t add up to the desired taste. It is in the destiny of every remake to be compared to its original at least in terms of memorable scenes, characters or dialogues. In the Agneepath of 1990, I had “aaj sham 6 baje maut ke saath apna apilment hai”, “yeh ladka, chingari!” and “Dinkar Rao, Topi sambhaal” among others; In Agneepath of 2012, I only remembered Rauf Lala and Chikni Chameli. Now what do you make of a film in which you only remember the secondary villain and the item girl? Agneepath, I feel, would have been better off with some other name.

Rating: 6/10 (Watch it, if you haven’t watched the Mukul Anand classic)

 

 

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