Saturday, November 13, 2004
Naach Naach ke Duniya Hila De
Berang Zindagi hai...raftaar chahiye
The above line sums up what goes wrong with RamGopal Verma's latest, Naach. The movie was made with very good intentions but soemwhere along the line, the writer, director and the screenplay people got lost.
Abhi is a struggling actor in the Hindi film industry who can do anything for fame, money and recognition in the movies. Rewa is a budding choreographer with a very strict set of rules and conducts that she will not compromise upon, not even for success and fame. Despite this basic difference in idealogies, the two characters come together in a bus as Abhi and Rewa are both coming back from a production office.
Abhi persuades Rewa to teach him dance, which he badly needs for his first break in the movies. While learning and teaching dance, Rewa and Abhi fall in love. Abhi becomes a big hit after his movie and achieves all that he ever wanted to. Rewa, however, is thrown out of the movie because of some petty reason. Before the audience could even think of all this leading to a happily ever after ending, comes the jolt. The idealogical differences between Abhi and Rewa come to a head and they decide to go their separate ways with some cruel words by Abhi marking the separation (somehow, the scene reminded me of Amitabh in Abhimaan).
As Abhi gets more and more busy with his movies and fans, Rewa does not let go of her ideals and ultimately succeeds as her work is recognized by Diwakar, a young director who launches Rewa in his music video. The video is immensely successful and Rewa becomes an overnight star. Diwakar launches a musical with Abhi and Rewa in the lead, little knowing the past story of the two. Being professionals, both of them carry on putting the garb till one fine day, when it becomes too much for the jealous Abhi who is not able to prevent seeing Rewa and Diwakar together from affecting his work.
As Abhi decides not to work for Diwakar's musical any more and breaks down in his proclamation of his pining for Rewa, the movie ends (rather abruptly, as Ravi says is the hallmark of Ramu movies) with Diwakar, too, declaring his love for Rewa and Rewa making the final choice.
The movie, as I said earlier, lacks speed. What it has in plenty, however, is realism. Right from the first bus scene where the conversation between the lead pair is interrupted periodically by the conductor's bells and the coming in/going out of passengers, to the scenes on the movie sets with aparent hits on candy-floss genre, the movie is as real as they come. Not that being realistic takes something away from the movie...rather, it only adds to it. However, all this realism needed to be at a pace where it made sense. The sluggish nature of the screenplay leaves hardly any scope to identify and appreciate the nuances that make Ramu such an acclaimed movie-maker.
At times, the sets and the costumes go over the board, too. The sleaze show that Antara Mali presents for the B-crowd starts getting to the head after some time, too. Instead of slowly appealing, as Urmila was in Rangeela, Antara tries too hard and does an overkill (yes, despite showing all flesh that she could probably have without the movie getting an A certificate). Abhishek, on the other hand, does not seem to be trying at all. Though the character does need the intense, brooding, and even arrogant part that Abhishek looks, there are ocassions when he plays it in too subdued a manner, which again adds to the overall sluggish and dull feel of the movie. Ritesh Deshmukh, as Diwakar, will surprise the audience with his credible peformance. After Masti, I had almost written off this actor who proves with this movie that he is made of sterner stuff. A very restrained, and to-the-tee performance should surely earn him some browney points.
The direction, as in all Ramu movies, is a little hatke. The shades of darkness and light are mixed to perfection, and so are the facial expressions in the dances and the scenes. Inspite of being based on dance, the movie surprisingly lacks good music (except one or two catchy numbers). Though the dance is there, it looks more of a gymnastic performance than dance. Given that dance, like gymnastics, requires fluidity of body, but does every step requires twisting your legs back in some sparingly believable postures? But then again, from the point of view of the choreographer, the movie's dance steps might look appealing...so, nothing against them as I do not have enough expertise or even knowledge to talk about this area.
The typical Diwali movie-goer who is looking for a bit of all-in-one, will be disappointed with Naach. Although he will get more than his dose of sleaze, he will, in all probability, find the movie a little too heavy and dull and slow. Despite some very interesting scenarios that could have been built in the story (especially when the movie starts with Abhi and Rewa in the lead), the screenplay fails to capitalize on them and disappoints the public. The domain experts (that is the dancers, choreographers, et al) will probably like the bits and pieces, but even they will not be satisfied with the overall effect. As for the parallel cinema enthusiasts, it would be difficult for even them to appreciate this half-escapist, half-realistic movie.
Posted at 07:08 pm by Nitai
Is the candy floss too sweet for you?
Main, Kaidi No. 786, jail ki deewaron se baahar dekhta hoon,
to wahaan ek pari si dikhaai deti hai,
wo kahte hain main unsa nahi,
phir kyun wo apni si lagti hai
The latest offering from the Chopra stable comes to town this Diwali amidst some very high expectations and some tough competition in the form of three more movies making their presence felt the same weekend. Veer-Zaara, as the promos and Yash Chopra's reputation (which is not to be underestimated any day) suggest, is about love...love between an Indian Air Force Officer and the daughter of a Pakistani politician...love between the junta of the two neighboring countries of India and Pakistan that goes much beyond the cacophany of political slogans.
Squadron Leader Veer Pratap Singh is a rescue pilot with the Indian Air Force with an uncanny :-) habit and job of rescuing and airlifting girls from precarious positions. Some day, he plans to fulfill his Babuji's dream of working for the upliftment of their village. All is going well with his life till he rescues a girl who changes his life.
Zaara Hyatt Khan is the daughter of Jehangir Hyatt Khan, one of the influential politicians of Lahore. Jehangir Hyatt Khan has dreams of fulfilling his father's wishes of making their political party successful, at any cost. Zaara's Bebe (played in a short but effective role by Zohra Sehgal) is on her deathbed. Having taken care of Zaara and her family for years, Bebe now wants Zaara to fulfill her last wish of being immersed in India after her death. Zaara brings her Bebe's ashes to India and that is when her bus has an accident and she is rescued and airlifted by Squadron Leader Veer Pratap Singh, who not only saves her life, but also changes it completely.
In return for the help that Veer provides Zaara in taking her to her destination in India, Zaara promises to spend a day with Veer in his village...give one day of her life to him, as is said in the movie. This one day turns out to be the most special day of Zaara's life with Chowdhury Sumer Singh and his wife Saraswati Devi (the uncle and aunt of Veer who have raised him up) giving her love, respect, and even naming the girl's school after her. Zaara also finds place in the hearts of the Punjabi-Madrasan couple as both of them encourage Veer to open his heart out to Zaara.
Before he can do so, however, comes in Raza, the fiance of Zaara who has come to India in search of her. Our hero, nevertheless, proclaims his love saying that he can die for Zaara if need be, but since she is engaged to be married to someone else, he might as well say good bye for now :-).
Even after the good bye, Zaara can not forget Veer. Zaara's friend and confidante, Shabbo (played in a most effervescent manner by Divya Dutta) calls up Veer to tell him about Zaara's coming marriage to Raza (which is a poltically motivated decision of Zaara and Raza's fathers) and her love for Veer. Veer resigns from Indian Air Force and comes to Pakistan to claim his love. Though he does create a scene at the dargah on the day before the marriage, he is soon persuaded by Zaara's mother (Kiron Kher, in another Devdas-esque role) not to ruffle the lying feathers and return to India. But return to India, he can not, because of certain plots and plans that result in his spending 22 years in a Lahore prison with the news of his death reaching his dear ones.
Veer is destined to live his entire life without Zaara in a prison, but not so easily if all goes as per the plans of the gutsy little advocate, Shaamiya Siddiqui. Shaamiya is going to court for the first time with the re-opening of Veer's case and despite the biggest barrister in town (and also Shaamiya's former boss) as the opposition, she spares no efforts to bring justice to Veer. She even goes to India in search of this justice and in turn, unravels some things that had been buried and forgotten for a long long time.
The story, as can be seen, is not very original, and yet it is not the quintessential boy-meets-girl-loses-girl-fights-bad-men-wins-girl-back-lives-happily-ever-after story either. The movie comes across as a sincere attempt to please the masses. Whether it be the little bit of the wedding festive mood thrown in, or the des prem emanating from the songs in the sarso ke khet, the movie plays to popular themes. The only place where Veer-Zaara fails is probably the elongated sequences of emotions that the characters go through in the movie and the fact that it is, in one word, sweet candy floss.
The music, derived from the original works of Late Madan Mohan, is excellent and haunts the viewers for quite some time (I am still humming some of the tunes). The picturisation is typical Yash Chopra, all green and happy and sunny and rosy. As for the actors, Shahrukh Khan seems to be improving with age and Preity Zinta is becoming more and more beautiful. Rani Mukherjee does the job of walking fast in long corridors pretty effectively and that is the only thing that she is actually required to do in the entire movie.
If the lead actors are not considered, the best performance comes from the supporting artists or the special appearances, as the title says. Kiron Kher as Zaara's mother, Anupam Kher as the prosecution lawyer, Hema Malini as Veer's amazingly beautiful (still!!!) Maate, Divya Dutta as Shabbo, and above all, Amitabh Bachchan as Sumer Singh, Veer's Babuji, are all a class of their own, as they lend to this movie, what the lead actors could never have hoped to provide. In fact, it has been a recent observation of mine that a good string of supporting cast actually sells more than a strong subject with the lead pair performing very well.
For all those who are Shahrukh and Preity fans, the movie is a must-watch...for all those who want time off from their busy schedule to relax and be happy about it, the movie is a must watch. The movie can, however, be avoided by people who want the realistic touch...people who are fed up of too much sweetness in the world...and people who think that this movie is another India Pakistan war movie.
Posted at 06:23 pm by Nitai
Friday, November 12, 2004
Long long ago, in a land far far away, the return of a King was celebrated by his subjects with a city decked with lights and hearts overflowing with happiness.
The doors were kept open for the deity of wealth to come in the households and leave behind the eternal blessing of long-lasting happiness and wealth.
These and many more legends reflect what we know of Deepawali, The Festival of Lights. Celebrated all over the country (and even abroad, amongst Indian settlements), Deepawali is not just these legends...not just the victory of good over evil. For children, it is one time in the year when they are not scolded for making noise and having fun. For teens and semi-adults, it is the time when they meet new people over sweets and delicacies and rise over petty disputes to bridge gaps and (re)form friendships. For the middle-aged, this time of the year means a time-out from their busy schedules to re-affirm family ties and engage in some networking with neighbours, relatives and friends. For the old, it is time to sit back and enjoy the lights emanating the youth that they once felt, while wondering at the timelessness of it all.
India, a land of so many religions and cultures, seems to unite under the umbrella of this amazingly celebrated festival with Hindus, Muslims...Punjabis, Tamilians alike, none knowing any bounds to the joy and enthusiasm that Deepawali symbolises. In fact, I still remember that the biggest and most varied collection of fireworks in our mohalla used to be that of our Muslim neighbors. Not having been home for the past few Deepawalis, I don't know if somebody from down south has now occupied the frontrunner position but what I do know about and can still smell, sitting at all this distance from home, are the sweets of Deepawali, the new clothes, the view from the terrace, with the absence of stars and moon on an Amavasya more than compensated for.
As I sit here today morning writing this post n my blog, I want to reach out to everyone I know and wish them all a very happy and prosperous and joyous Deepawali. I will be calling up some of them, meeting in person, another few, but for all those I may not be able to communicate with on this auspicious day, may they all be blessed with all the happiness that Deepawali brings with it.
We do have a party tonight at IIMK to celebrate Deepawali the traditional way, with sweets and lights and fireworks...there might even be a movie lined up if some of us decide to go for it...I just hope that it is a night to remember for all of us, a night to cherish for yet another year till we come across and join together to celebrate another Deepawali.
Posted at 09:51 am by Nitai
Tuesday, November 09, 2004
There are times when happiness knows no bounds and yet there are others, when there is no limit to the tears that come to the eyes. Some people say that this is what brings balance and fairness to it all. But why does it have to be like that? Why can't joy and sorrow be in moderate measures at all points in life?
Despite the kind of dare-all face that I may put forward to the world, I am frightened...frightened of all these sorrows that await me...of all those joys that might cause me to forget the people who matter. No matter how hard I try, I just can not make myself call Nani today. With exactly one year having passed since Nana passed away, I could not control my tears today. They flowed like they knew no end...compensated for all those tears that had dried up in my eyes one year ago...during the rushed flight from Chennai to Kolkata...the train from Kolkata to Patna...the Ghats where Nana was lying on the ground, all cold and silent, as if waiting for me to kiss him good bye. I never knew that a person's forehead could be so cold...and then the fire that purified...that took it all away from me...the guardian that I ever knew, even more than my father.
Baba is not keeping well and is bed-ridden ever since he came back from his yearly trip to Vrindavan. I tried talking to him yesterday but he couldn't even speak to me. The effort that it took for him to call out my name made me cry out at my helplessness. As Maa said, it is time for me to be strong because I am going to face some very big losses in the near future. As she put it, it is time for one generation to bless us and go on to attain salvation...sounds logical...but I am so selfish...I don't want them to go. I want to hold on to them, never let go.
I am actually ashamed to write all this on the blog...somehow, it feels as if I am trivialising the entire thing by opening my wounds and hurt for others to read. I still don't know why I am doing this, except for the fact that it helps me get over the thing in some way. I know that I am being selfish and just because I am afraid of my emotions, I am trying to give them a shape and figure that I can then ignore.
Posted at 12:13 pm by Nitai
Tuesday, October 26, 2004
To know that Prof. Uday Damodaran knew my by name did not come as much of a surprise (given his much acknowledged interest in student blogs) but that I came to know of it for certain in this way, really took the cake. It was the first of a series of UD's quizzes on readings from The Economic Times and I was peacefully writing whatever precious little I knew of the answers. I have this habit of moving my head and craning it upwards and towards the left at an angle of nearly 45 degrees whenever I am thinking hard (am not sure but I believe that I have read it somewhere that it is natural for people to look Left Up if they are trying to make up something, Right Down if they are trying to recollect something and so on).
To say that I had no idea that UD might take it as an indication that I was cheating, would probably be an exaggeration. I admit that it may look to the 'suspecting' eye as something not really out of a book but then again, the truth of the matter is that there was hardly anything that I could have cheated for (even at the cost of hypothetically admitting of my intention to cheat). Nobody would have known more than what everybody (including me) knew and so, it was not worth it at all. Whatever it may have been, as Ravi rightly pointed out, I am now in the spotlight and I better take care of myself and my neck movements from now on if I don't want any more trouble from UD.
I might as well go for that band those people wear around their neck for some back/neck problems...
Posted at 06:10 pm by Nitai