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The Pursuit of Happyness

Truly inspiring, touching and unreal !

Although based on a true life story it almost reads like fiction. Will Smith is a failing salesman trying to sell a whole bunch of bone density scanning machines which nobody wants to buy. He has a son he absolutely adores and will do anything for and a wife who tired of his failures leaves him.

What does the father do but works hard to get into a stockbroking firm and on the way losing and finding his machines which he tries to sell to make some money so that they can live, loose his shoe, is locked up in jail for non-payment of parking tickets and glibly lies his way to get a few deals going.

While these few lines may give you quite a discouraging picture, thinking the movie is about losers who remain losers (as Bikram put it on his blog Dear Cinema), I would differ since the movie might seem to be about losers who remain losers till the end but the movie really is about winning, about love, faith and effort. The movie takes you through in an autobiographical manner through different phases in the life of Chris Gardner (Will Smith) and his son Christopher (Jaden Smith, Yes, Will Smith's real life son).

The movie is well made since it really emotes the loss and desperation felt by the protagonist in all those moments of loss and all those moments of happyness. Will Smith turns in an Oscar nomination deserving performance as Chris Gardner (who ultimately went on to establish and later sell a multi-million dollar stockbroking firm).Thandie Newton as the wife Linda is effective. Jaden Smith as Christopher is very natural, seems extremely comfortable with the camera and turns in a very adorable performance.

In all the movie is worth a watch at least once for all those who have to work for a living !


No Namastey to London

Bad wine in very old bottle

Have you ever had really bad wine ? Do you remember the last time that you ate some exotic looking food which left largely a sour and pukish taste in your mouth but in between those morsels you get those wee bits of taste ? That's exactly how the movie Namastey London turns out to be.
Made by Vipul Shah, starring Akshay Kumar, Katrina Kaif, Rishi Kapoor and Upen Patel, the movie was much hyped and seeped in controversy since the so-called upcoming actor Upen Patel went all around town saying Vipul had given him the short end of the stick ignoring him in all the trailers etc. No loss actually Upen, is what I say. No loss to you and more importantly no loss to the audience.

The tale is supposed to be of brattish NRI girl (Katrina), her very Indian Dad (Rishi kapoor) and the funjabi (Punjabi) lad (Akshay Kumar) who is married to her in India at the instance of her father, but later ignored in London at the suggestion of her friend (Upen) who is on his way to marrying a phirang girl and possibly changing his Islamic name to an anglicised version ! Well.... now you know why I said bad wine in old bottle. If the movie was good I would have said old wine in old bottle, but then....the movie disappoints.

The Punjabi lad believes true love will return his bride to him even if he has to lead her to the altar to marry a phirangi boy, who is marrying for the 3rd time. Will true love prevail ? That's the big question which is supposed to hold you till the climax. Sadly, when the journey is so wasted who is bothered about the climax.

Katrina Kaif is very attractive and absolutely wooden like a post box in an apartment complex. Akshay Kumar doesn't have much to do except grin and act like the doleful Indian lad who is in love with the NRI girl and rant about the greatness of India to some very shoddy looking extras pretending to be the stiff upper lip left-behind-from-the colonial-days Brits. Rishi Kapoor is extremely natural as an actor and tries desperately to rise above the mish-mash that this movie is. Upen Patel should give up acting and save all of us audience a lot of pain. Let him stay as a model, we wouldn't care, but an actor he will never be. Himesh Reshammiya directs the music and except for the title track and one punjabi number, fails to impress.

The movie turns out to be a bad dream except for those few instances where it seems you have pinched yourself awake and then you go back into the bad dream till the movie ends and the lights come on.


Coming Soon !

Watched Namaste London (the Indian movie in hindi) and finally got to watch the delightful- The Pursuit of Happyness (the Hollywood movie in English)

Will be letting you all know what I think about these movies.

Keep watching this space for more.


The Namesake

I haven't read this so wonderful book by Jhumpa Lahiri so fortunately will not be influenced or be comparing the movie to the book. Got to watch this movie early Sunday.

First of all, this movie is not your typical 'entertainer'. The movie is absolutely delightful since it tells a story and tells it well with great direction and great performances.

The movie is directed by Mira Nair of Salaam Bombay, Monsoon Wedding fame and stars Irrfan Khan, Tabu, Kal Penn (Kalpen Suresh Modi actually), Jacinda Barrett and others.

To me the movie was a tale of identity, culture, roots, human relationships and discovery. Yeah, I know a lot of movies are all these and more but whats special about this movie is it is so Indian and any expatriate, repatriate or NRI will surely relate to this story.

The story begins with Ashok Ganguli (Irrfan Khan in a brilliant & controlled performance as a Bengali away in the US ) coming to see his prospective bride- Ashima (Tabu, in her most classy performance). The scene is something that one would normally scoff at as cliche spoof where the bride-to-be sings for the prospective groom, but Mira handles this and many other sequences with absolute panache giving it a lot of respectability and quite amusement. Ashok marries Ashima and takes her to the US where Ashima has her experience of life so different from India. Life goes on, they settle in and have a son and unlike in Bengal where they name children officially with a name and then a Good Name, the hospital administrator informs them that they have to choose a name. Ashok having liked the author Nikolai Gogol names his son Gogol and so Gogol Ganguli the main character of the tale comes to being.

Gogol and his sister grow up with a mixture of Indian and American experiences. Their visit to Kolkata when in their late teens is a treat to watch. You can almost feel the air of Kolkata, smell the aromas of the food and see the wonderful city. There are many interesting sequences and characters who make you chuckle such as the fat manservant who is asked to chase Gogol while he jogs. The ugly duckling who goes to Paris and comes back so fine and hot. The reluctance of Gogol to meet her and then after meeting the new-looking woman, his eagerness to meet again is so understandable and amusing.

Amidst these light hearted moments is interwoven the story of Gogol who has taken the good name Nikhil (conveniently shortened to Nick for his American friends), gotten an American girlfriend and is almost embarrassed about his real name and roots.

His father Ashok is a constant figure of support and understanding and balance, who is able to transcend between worlds with ease while remaining a pillar of support for Ashima. Ashima is the typical Indian mother who with resilience, warmth and strength tries to hold together her family which appears to be slowly breaking down and drifting apart.

Kal Penn lends credibility to the role of Gogol, being one of the well recognized Asian faces in Hollywood and bringing in a lot of intensity and honesty to the screen. His journey through teenage to adulthood, losing himself and rediscovering himself with the words of his father ringing in his years, the tale of why he was named Gogol is like watching an autobiography in motion.

I do not wish to give away too much of the story and what happens but let me tell you that this is one story that imitates life, there are moments of joy, amusement and happiness. There are also moments of pain, suffering and despair but life goes on as long as you know who you are, what your family means and you know where your roots.

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