Monday, December 31, 2007

In case anyone was interested...


Saturday, December 29, 2007

Taare Zameen Par

I rave about so many movies, and lesser ones at that, so it is only fair that I rave about this one too. But chances are, you have already seen it or will be seeing it pretty soon.

Taare Zameen Par is easily the best Hindi movie this year, and one of the best in the last several years. If one overlooks the simplified symbolism or some cliched characterization, this is a masterpiece of a debut (if one discounts allegations of Aamir Khan's interference in the direction of his movies as far back as 1992 with Jo Jeeta Wahi Sikandar). The cast, especially Darsheel Safary and Tisca Chopra, is amazing. I had appreciated the fairly realistic small-town portrayal in Aaja Nachle a few weeks back. But the authentic manner in which an upper middle-class family from Mumbai is portrayed here is quite rare for a mainstream Indian film. Makes one think how one of Indian cinema's most successful (and hence one of the more affluent ones) film personalities can do such a good job in doing that. And Prasoon Joshi's lyrics reach heights maybe even Gulzar's could not in a movie like this!

I haven't met one person till now who hasn't loved the movie. Another rarity for a Hindi film. And more people confess to have cried while watching this than any other movie till now.

In recent times, and in fact, coincidentally, thanks in no small measure to a film made by the same production house that has made this film, any good Hindi film has been touted as an Oscar potential. I don't think this movie should be sent for the Oscars, even though it is the best of the year, because this is a very Indian movie and should not be insulted by making it try hard to be appreciated by a predominantly American jury.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Movie Heaven

I am always on the lookout for that perfect horror/thriller that is truly scary. Which, as most of you would understand, is different from being just bloody. I think I found one of those.

I can't think of any other Josh Hartnett movie that I have liked so much. Directed by David Slade, who made another classic thriller Hard Candy before this. Produced by Sam Raimi. Written by Steve Niles (the graphic novel).

Monday, December 10, 2007

A Violent Film that I Hated

I have seen many fucked up movies (pardon my French, but I couldn't think of a more polite-yet-effective word). Movies that have gratuitous violence, lots of gore, bucket-fuls of blood - hell, I even enjoy exploitation movies most of the times. But, I hate it when the entire movie tries to do everything it can, building up gradually through every single scene, for that one final scene of gut-wrenching violence, only to make people sorry for the victim. I hate, as I had said about Saawariya in a different context, movies where the manipulation shows. You might feel what the director wants you to feel probably, but you also feel, for want of a better word, dirty.

I hadn't seen Alpha Dog for a long time, because I don't think very highly of the director (Nick Cassavetes). He actually reminds me a bit of Bhansali in that he does not know when to stop. And he does not even have the aesthetic sense of the latter. The plot line didn't seem very ineteresting either. And the one criterion that might have made me ineterested was also not fulfilled - I couldn't find an Ebert review of the movie. But at a recent quiz I got to know that it has one of the highest number of 'fuck's uttered, much in the same league as Scarface or Goodfellas. I thought it can't be that bad in that case. We all love to hear profanities, don't we?

And I didn't hate the movie all that much either. It could have been made into a much better film by so many other directors. I think I missed a conversation early on because of my habit of chatting with people while watching a non-engaging movie and I got an inkling of what was going to happen quite late. I knew that the movie is about the youngest person to be on the America's Most Wanted FBI list, so it had some relation to reality. And so when the thing happened, I was saddened by it. But that was because of the horror of the incident itself, the fact that something like this could have happened this easily. Where I felt irritated was that the director had been showcasing the victim's innocence and goodness the whole way through. In fact the innocence of the victim and the perpetrators, through the very first sequence during the credits. That's lame. Respect the intelligence of your viewers. Don't read their stories out to them.

I am probably more pissed off because I hate it when a director does not know what his movie wants to be, and Alpha Dog is a bastardisation of way too many different divergent styles.

Having cribbed so much though, I would still recommend this movie, because some of the actors still end up doing a nice job and salvaging the movie. And I am sure the incident would pay off for a lot of people.
Someone should give Sharon Stone better roles though. I hated her in this.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Blown away - part 2

The first paper went much better than what I had expected. For a few hours last night, I was getting the feeling that after Chemical Engineering, I was going to suck at the other stream that I was trying to specialize in. Not that low on self-confidence now. The worst is over. The next exam, which starts in about an hour, should be easier. And so I decided to write a little more about Aaja Nachle.

I really don't get what the critics, or most of them at least, are cribbing about. Was there ever any doubt that we were going to watch this movie for any other reason. And the one reason we saw the movie for delivers. And how. This is what a Star is. The elan with which She makes a comeback would make one believe that She never went away at all. I remember when I first heard about Her marriage (I was in school then), I had this really sad feeling in my stomach (or it could have been something I ate the previous night) that we'll never see Her again doing what She does better than anyone else - the equivalent of a Kapil Dev maybe, the perfect all-rounder. Then Devdas gave hope that She'll be around. But that wasn't to be. Finally. more than five years after Her last outing as Parvati, we have Diya. And one feels happy that there are some things that one can always rely on to come good.

Coming to the movie, even if you take Her away (how can you seriously, though!), it's still a pretty enjoyable film. OK, I am kidding. I can't imagine this film without Her. But the film does not let Her down really. We have an interesting story - a retelling of Lagaan in some ways - shouldered by a very competent cast. People like Vinay Pathak, Ranvir Shorey, Raghuvir Yadav, Akhilendra Mishra, Yashpal Sharma, Sushmita Mukherjee are some of the most reliable actors you can ask for in a supporting cast. Then there's Irrfan Khan, who can't get even one expression wrong. Divya Dutta is prone to overacting on occasions, but thankfully manages to avoid that here. Kunal Kapoor is meant to look rigid for most of the movie, and he is good at that, isn't he? I would have preferred someone more 'glamorous' in the role of Anokhi, but she's pretty much Irrfan Khan's female counterpart in Hindi cinema today. Jugal Hansraj isn't all that noticeable in this crowd, with all due respects. And the best thing is that all these characters, for most parts, aren't cardboard figures. They have cliched characteristics, but one misses these cliches in A-grade movies of our times, where the only people you see are super-affluent, English-spouting, metrosexual unreal characters. Even the odd gaali is such music to one's ears when it's shown in an authentic manner.

Not that the movie's setting is completely authentic. The village is too good to be true. The final show couldn't really have been staged by any village/town in a month. Politicians, even if they are Laloo Yadav, do not join a dance show. Even royalty-turned-MPs are possibly not that benevolent. But, it's less unbelievable than Amitabh Bachchan living in a Tudor castle close to Delhi's Chandni Chowk in K3G. And much less incredible than the fact that a 40-plus woman can still manage to take your breath away in in the title track of the be to leave for the exam.

Forgot completely after the exam about this thing. Came back to write about another movie I just saw, and found it incomplete. I won't go on more about how much I liked Aaja Nachle...just notice the absolute glee on Vinay Pathak's face when he is dancing (and dancing well) in the Jawaani sequence of the final extended performance. The song's great too (with lines like 'Ghar ki murgi nahin yeh chhutta saand jawaani').

Blown away

I don't think I'll write about it again, but I really am too short of time right now to put in more than a few words. I am stuck with two of the toughest courses' exams on the same day tomorrow...oh ****, it's already today! I found this earlier today on the LAN and had to watch it in bits and pieces. And I do LOVE her.

Read this, which is anyway much better than what I can dream of writing. I might be falling in love with him too. Now that's a statement you won't hear too often.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Where have all the great blogs gone?

Or maybe they are still there and I am just not interested in reading them anymore.

I don't visit The Delhi Walla blog very often, maybe once in a fortnight or so. But each visit is always rewarded with some interesting account of a not-so-well-known aspect of Delhi. The one that I found really interesting on today's visit, not the least because I am really hungry as I write this, was Mayank Austen Soofi's description of a breakfast of paya and nihari in Old Delhi.

I have been to the area surrounding Jama Masjid a few times, but was never adventurous enough to try out one of the many dhabas spread in its vicinity. I never realized what I was missing. My first, and only as of now, taste of what Old Delhi has to offer by way of culinary deligths was outside Delhi in fact. Lahori cuisine in many ways is a purer form of what one could probably have got more easily in Delhi before partition. While visiting Lahore, our host had taken us out for a breakfast of tandoori roti (much much softer than any I have seen anywhere else) and nihari and halwa. I can still recall those amazing flavors, and could very well kill for another taste of that breakfast. This post at The Delhi Walla brings back those memories in a rush. I am drooling all over my laptop right now.

This, and continuing upto early March, is the best time, if you are in Delhi, to try out this food. It's too rich for our modern tastes and you might want to avoid any physical engagements right after the meal. Starting off with a heavy breakfast at one of these dhabas, following it up with a walk around the area, similar to one I took a couple of years back (unfortunately alone) that started from Safdarjung's tomb, went through Lodhi Garden, touched upon several landmarks (some not found in tourist brochures like the tomb of Abdurraheem Khankhana), went upto Humayun's Tomb and then also covered some parts around Nizamuddin, and then a late afternoon meal at another one of the eateries in the area - that sounds like a good day.

The best time I have spent in this part of Delhi was almost two years back when three other guys from my college and I went food-stall hopping near Chandni Chowk after a fantastic morning spent at the Book Fair in Pragati Maidan. The night before that I had seen Rang De Basanti - which made it one of the best 24 hours periods of my life.

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