Ek Chalis ki Last local

Sanjay Khanduri attempts his hand at a comic thriller. Written and directed by him, this flick has Abhay Deol and Neha Dupia in central roles. They play Nilesh, a call center professional and Madhu, just a simple girl, who miss the train by 5 minutes. The last local train leaves at 1:40 AM (Ek Chalis in Hindi) and therefore the title of the film.

Missing the train sparks off a series of unfortunate events (or fortunate) where Nilesh ends up saving Mdhu from an assault only to eventually find out she is no simple girl but one who plys her nocturnal trade with passengers of the last local train. 

Nilesh ends up gambling, gets involved in a gang war, gets arrested by the cops and has an eventful night. Will it all end well ? Watch this not so boring and not so great movie to find out.

Abhay Deol surely can act in those good boy roles and just requires a good script and direction. he proves it once more with this one. Neha Dhupia does what she is good at, which is to try and look good and anxious. This movie reminded me of another gem of a movie called Waisa bhi hota hai part 2 and I could'nt help but compare. Waisa bhi hota hai was far superior primarily because of its script and performances. Ek Chalis Ki Last local loses out because of a not so great storyline. Been there done that. There are a few entertaining moements though, like the one where the underworld don is asking for his night companion and Nilesh speaks to himself about how women always get their way and then to his horror finds out that he is meant to be the consort !

The movie is worth a watch in spite of all its shortcomings, because it is a honest and simple effort. 

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Trailer to the Screen Actors Guild Awards

On 25th January 2009, the 15th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards will be announced. The nominations were announced on 18th December 2008. The Awards ceremony honours thirteen categories, inclduing individual performances as well as ensemble casts of comdey/drama series on TV and motion picture. The Screen Actors Guild (SAG) was established 75 years ago.

The nominees for the 15th SAG Awrads are as follows. You may see the whole list at IMDB

Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008)
Doubt (2008)
Frost/Nixon (2008)
Milk (2008)
Slumdog Millionaire (2008)

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role
Richard Jenkins for The Visitor (2007/I)
Frank Langella for Frost/Nixon (2008)
Sean Penn for Milk (2008)
Brad Pitt for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008)
Mickey Rourke for The Wrestler (2008)

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role
Anne Hathaway for Rachel Getting Married (2008)
Angelina Jolie for Changeling (2008)
Melissa Leo for Frozen River (2008)
Meryl Streep for Doubt (2008)
Kate Winslet for Revolutionary Road (2008)

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role
Josh Brolin for Milk (2008)
Robert Downey Jr. for Tropic Thunder (2008)
Philip Seymour Hoffman for Doubt (2008)
Heath Ledger for The Dark Knight (2008)  (my bets are on this one. Read here to know why)
Dev Patel for Slumdog Millionaire (2008)

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Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi


Aditya Chopra returns to helm this one and I presume hoping to salvage the not so rosy fortunes of Yash Raj Films.

Shahrukh Khan returns to the Yash Raj stable after Chak De India (which was a phenomenally good movie by the way) as the very boring, very old fashioned Surinder Snahni. Surinder gets married to Taani (Anushka Sharma debuting) when her betrothed dies on the day of the wedding. Surinder, marries her for she is his professors daughter and wants to fulfill his professor's dying wish (whew ! haven't seen this since the movies of the 80s).

Taani turns out to be a fun loving, free spirited girl which is a stark contrast to Surinder's routine and boring existence. When a Mumbai Dance troupe comes to Amritsar, Taani is all set to join and win the couple's (Jodi) competition, only if she finds a suitable partner. Enter a wacky, colourful Raj (Sharukh Khan) and there supposedly begins what the tag line says- There's an extraordinary love story in every ordinary Jodi, or does it ?

Taani does not realize that Raj is none other her very own husband Surinder who, thanks to his very weird friend Balwinder Bobby Khosla (Vinay Pathak), a hair dresser who transforms him into a yuppie looking Raj/ And wonder of wonder, Taani does not realize Raj is Surinder just because a moustache is removed (are we still in the 70s and 80s, Superman notwithstanding).

Will Taaani fall in love with Raj and leave Surinder or will true love in whichever form win ? The whole premise of the rest of the story is supposed to be that. Sadly, the movie seems 10 years too late in the making. With numerous references to many of Rash Raj Films' including Dhoom, the movie is entirely predictable and a little too long. While Sharukh puts in a delightful and at times hilarious performance as the boring Surinder of the tight-jeaned Raj, Anuska Sharma does well and her svelte figure really shows off in the dance sequences.

The movie is allegedly making a lot of money and I wonder why. Its definitely not worth a watch. Wait for it to come on TV is what I say.

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Max Payne


Max Payne

If you haven't played the game don't watch this movie. having played May Payne 1 and Max Payne 2 and having loved it, I enjoyed watching the movie unfold.

The tale sticks to the storyline of the game. Max Payne (Mark Wahlberg) comes home one night and finds his wife and baby girl killed. Killed by a gang high on a new drug in the market which raises aggression to a new level. Why was Payne's family killed ? Was it a random act of a drug induced gang or is there a more sinister conspiracy behind it ?

Chased by the gangsters, hunted by his own former colleagues, Max Payne turns the city into a battlefield and with a multitude of weapons from the 9 MM to the pump action shotgun, unleashes a unique style of revenge while trying to get to the truth.

The movie is no match for the game. Featuring a host of actors from Olga Kurylenko (the latest Bond girl), Chris O'Donnell, Ludacris and others, there isn't much acting to do. While Mark Wahlberg puts in a good performance as max Payne, the movie lacks the edge of the seat action we get in the game and it does not give you a storybook like unique experience like 'Sin City' did. Director John Moore does not have to do frankly, so all in all the movie is one you will forget too soon. The game though, stays on in your head !

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Broadband not broad enough

Sorry folks,

Have been watching tons of movies but not able to share with you. My BSNL broadband and phone is down from over 8 days. Yup, it sucks but what to do. :(

Will be travelling till the 15th so back to blogging next week and you can expect a lot of views for you to review !

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Eagerly Awaited

Read on below and you will know why I eagerly await these !

Ghajini
The Hindi remake of the Tamil hit based on the English movie Memento. Watched Memento which was a cool movie starring Guy Pearce. Awaiting Ghajini in Hindi though. Watch the trailer and you will know why.



Luck by Chance
Directed by Zoya Akthar, starring Farhan Akthar and Konkana Sen Sharma. Interesting trailer and I have a friend who worked on it production, so do I need more reasons to watch it ?


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Hindi Cinema: Ups and Downs

Watched a lot of Hindi Cinema recently therefore the title of ups and downs. Read on below in this series and you will know why. Where have all the good English movies gone ?

PS: Haven't watched Dasvidania , 1920 etc yet !

Watched Mumbai Meri Jaan. Thought it was very good but lost its way towrds the end.

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Hindi Cinema: Ups and Downs-Yuvvraaj


Yuvvraaj

Subhash Ghai returns donning the director's hat once more. The movie stars Salman Khan, Katrina Kaif, Anil Kapoor, Zayed Khan, Mithun Chakraborty and many others. The story is of an abandoned son returning to want a share in the dead father's wealth so he could marry his love, whose father will not allow her to marry a poor man. Somewhere is the story is supposed to be the musical.You get a feel of where I am going with this I guess. The movie sucks ! BIG TIME !

The movie is like 10 years too late. It still has the vastness, colour and expanse of canvas that you get to see in Ghai films. Nice music by A. R Rahman. The script and editing is absolutely a mish-mash and lets you down terribly. The dialogues are amateurish and evoke laughter at their silliness. I wonder if Subhash Ghai actually wrote and directed this movie.
Definitely down this one is!

PS: boxofficeIndia says it had a poor opening.

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Hindi Cinema: Ups and Downs-Dostana


DOSTANA

Produced by Karan Johar and directed by Tarun Mansukhani this movie stars Abhishek Bachchan, John Abraham and Priyanka Chopra. The movie is the tale of two men pretending to be gay so they can get a place to stay and then falling in love with their housemate. There enters a straight love interest for her (Bobby Deol) so starts all the antics to get her away from him and yet not break her heart.

The movie has decent enough parts. The title song 'Shut up and Bounce' which has Shilpa Shetty in a guest appearance and shot in Miami I guess is absolutely breathtaking. very hummable song. The women may have their eye's fill with John Abraham's expanse of skin generously shown including lingering shots of his derriere. For the men Shilpa Shetty makes it worthwhile. You wonder why I am objectifying both genders ? Well..frankly the movie does not have much else to offer.

Decent performances, some good comic scene, dialogues make this movie bearable. Don't spend too much on the ticket though. Between an up and down this one is, guess !

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Hindi Cinema: Ups and Downs-Fashion


FASHION

Madhur Bhandarkar returns with his expose/view of the fashion industry. Starring Priyanka Chopra, Kanganaa Ranaut, Mughda Godse he puts together a tale made of some real life incidents and tells you the story of the rise, fall and comeback of a small town girl with big dreams.

The movie unfolds in typical Bhandarkar style. 3 hours of it then follow. The usual mix of charades and depictions of various real life personalities which keep you guessing - Who's who ?. There is the usual common man on the sidelines explaining the inner workings. In Page 3 it were the drivers, in Corporate it were the office boys and here you have the Photographers occasionally pitching in. Good performances from the leading ladies push this film up many notches. Bhandarkar seems to be getting his touch back but has lot of work to do.

Mugdha Godse puts in a stunning debut perfomance. The movie is rife with inconsistencies and illogical story moves but then what the hell, it is a movie after all. it is more the tale of one person or 3 persons rather than of the whole industry. The movie would have been far better if it was 1 hour shorter. The depiction of the fashion shows, behind the scenes action is brilliant. The music by medieval Pundits is awesome. All in all a sober, maybe depressing but well made movie.

Somewhere closer to a Up then a Down.

An 'Above Average' verdict with over INR 258 Millions is what boxofficeindia says.

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Hindi Cinema: Ups and Downs-Golmaal Returns


Golmaal Returns.

Golmaal returns with Rohit Shetty stil at the helm and the same team except for deletion of Tusshar Kapoor and addition of Shreya Talpade and Kareena Kapoor and a few others. Golmaal Returns continues with the wacky incidents of the 4 friends/enemies whichever way you see it. Some additional twists with Kareena as Ajay Devgan's wife and Amrita Arora as his sister who is in love with Arshad Warsi (a police inspector now). There is a serial killer on the loose too who chops of the victim's fingers.

The movie is hilarious in bits and parts but obviously suffers from the sequel syndrome and does not have the simplicity of the first part. Tusshar Kapoor puts ina good performance. Arshad Warsi is wasted in the movie. Ajay Devgan is his usual confident self. Kareena Kapoor seems to be getting thinner by the day and is bound to disappear soon. All that aside, the movie is watchable for its first half after which it looses track in spoofing movies, people and everything else.

BoxofficeIndia informs us that it is a HIT with a gross of over INR 508 Millions.

I think it is somewhere between an Up and a Down.

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Hindi Cinema: Ups and Downs-Rock On


ROCK ON !

Easily one of the best films this season. The movie is tha tale of a band of 4 (Farhan Akthar, Arjun Rampal, Luke Kenny, Purab Kholi) who go their different ways due to an incident taht occurs when they are just on their way to stardom. Their paths collide when Aditya Shroff's (Farhan Akthar) wife Sakshi (Prachi Desai) bumps into KD (Purab Kholi) while planning a surprise birthday party for Aditya. Thereby begins her exploratioon of Aditya's past and she finds out the passion that existed for music which now missing from their lives is the reason for the deep unhappiness in each of the four.

Will they get back together and give in to their passion for music again ? Those of you who have watched it will know. Awesome music I thought and farhan Akthar singing is well suited to the songs. This incidentally is India's first hindi Rock Film ! Great performances, nice and tight script, good direction, surprising but good casting, awesome music. What more do you want froma movie ?

Definitely a UP !

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Hindi Cinema: Ups and Downs-A Wednesday

A Wednesday

Debutant director Neeraj Pandey scripts and directs this delightful peice of cinema. A simple concept and story idea is developed into a tight thrilling script, however improbable the tale might seem.

Starring Naseeruddin Shah, Anupam Kher, Jimmy Shergill and Aamir Bashir the movie deals with urban terrorism. On a Wednesday the commissioner of Mumabi City Police receives a call taht there are bombs planted all over Mumbai and will go off if his demans of releasing a few terrorists are not met. Who s the faceless man ? is he the mastermind ? is he a specialist hired by terrorist groups ? The commissioner (Anupam Kher) has to call in his best men , Arif Khan (Jimmy Shergill) violent and ruthless and Jai Pratap Singh (Aamir Bashir) straightforwarda nd restrained. Will they be able to stop this nameless man in time to save Mumbai or will they ahve to give in and release the terrorists responsible for the death of many ? The end of the Wednesday will tell.

Brilliant scripting, performances, direction. I wonder sometimes how do these debutant directos/writers come up with such delicious peices of work and get all the elements right.

Definitely an UP !

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Quantum of Solace


One of the most eagerly awaited films this season. After the brilliance of Casino Royale where the new age Bond was introduced, the sequel or the next in the franchise was keenly awaited by me and many others.

To cut it short, I found no solace in 'Quantum of Solace'. Bond is gritty, tough and vulnerable as in Casino Royale. Daniel Craig slips perfectly into the role of the 'licensed to kill' 007 agent whom M (Dame Judi Dench) seems to affectionately mother. The action sequences are gripping and recently there were comparisons to the Bourne series and you will have to admit watching the action, the close quarters hand-to-hand combat you cannot help but compare too.

The film takes off with a car chase and James Bond and M interrogating Mr White (Jesper Christensen) whom Bond captured at the end of Casino Royale. They interrogate to find out more about the organization behind Le Chiffre (from Casino Royale) which seems to be large and powerful but not on the radar of any of the intelligence agencies. A series of incidents then unfold setting Bond off on a trot across the globe partly driven by duty and partly by uncontrollable rage for revenge of Vesper Lynd's death (from Casino Royale). Along the way he meets Camille (Olga Kurylenko) who is out on her own revenge saga and to achieve it gotten close to Domnic Greene (Mathieu Greene). Greene is the CEO of an 'eco' company that is allegedly looking to improve the ecological sustainability among corporates. Greene also is out to capture
the most important resource on earth, nope not Oil as you are made to believe but freshwater, in Bolivia Greene has the convenient ignorance of the CIA and the British Government who are mislead into believing they will have their share of Oil from Bolivia and of course there is no Oil and it is up to Bond to save the day.

James Bond does engage in a many a chase and fight to get to Greene with some help from Felix Lieter (Jeffery White) of the CIA and a romp in a hotel room with Fields (Gemma Aterton). The CIA , MI6 and the Organization (called Quantum) trying to stop him, each for their own reason and yet Bond will find a way.

Disappointing. Thats one word I would use to describe this movie. What lets us down is the story. Absolutely no depth either to the conspiracy or the revenge track it is almost as if the writers ran out of ideas for the sequel. The story does not hold you and the only saving grace of the movie are Daniel Craig and the action scenes. Imagine saying that about a Bond movie. You don't have all the swanky gizmos, you don't have the Bond theme playing and you don't have the 'Bond. James Bond' too. I did'nt miss too many of the original bond elements in Casino Royale because that movie presented a new Bond, stuck to it faithfully and presented a story that was both interesting and plausible with a villain (Le Chiffre) who intrigued you. This movie doe not have a great storyline and you might ask since when did a storyline matter for a Bond movie ? Well...since you changed Bond and made him more real and believable, since then the story made a difference. The modern Bond cannot be without a believable purpose.

Watch this movie for it is a James Bond movie and Daniel Craig puts in a stunning performance with breathtaking stunts. Am not looking forward to the DVD of this one. Will go back and watch Casino Royale once more !

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WHY SO SERIOUS ?



I return to Blogging with a review or should I say tribute to one of my favourite movies in recent times which had one of the most astounding performances ever !

THE DARK KNIGHT

Directed by Christopher Nolan who also directed the first one (Batman Begins), The Dark Knight is a brilliant piece of modern cinema. The movie has been in the news for various reasons right from the death of Heath Ledger to its box office success (it made 155 .1 million USd in its first week opening which is considered a record). Heath Ledger truly gave one of his best performances ever. There will be no other joker ever. I deeply regret the passing away of one of the better actors of the generation. Who knows what heights he would have reached. His performance as the 'Joker' is just a sign of what he was capable of.Born April 4th, 1979, Heath Andrew Ledger an Australian breathed his last on 22nd January 2008. You may read more about him here


The Dark Knight, watched by me 4 times in the cinemas is like the most delicious meal I ever had. the thought of it still gets me all excited. The movie starts off where part one ended with a lot of attention on the Joker and the mob in Gotham City. The Batman and Jim Gordon try and work together to bring down the mob and eventually want to take on the Joker. But then, things are not as they seem and the mob hires the Joker to kill the Batman. The Joker has no past and no associations and nothing to lose. How will you take down a man like that ? Then there is Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart) the District Attorney who is also the romantic interest of Rachel Dawes (Maggie Gyllenhall replacing Katie Holmes). Rachel if you recollect works in the DA's office and was without a boss (who gets shot in part one). Harvey Dent seems to be the upright, outstanding law abiding DA who is bent upon cleaning up Gotham City. He does have strong views of the Batman and believes the war against crime has to be won without masks. Rachel is caught in the middle between the man she has always loved namely, Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) and the man she now loves, Harvey. The Joker's assault on Gotham City brings the Batman, Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman) together, but will they succeed ? For, the Joker does not need money or power but believes in chaos and corrupting the good. Who will be his victim ?


The tale unfolds at an explosive pace and the thumping background score by Hans Zimmer really keeps you on the edge of your seat. The movie is brilliance and pardon me if I seem to be completely bowled over by this movie because to me it was perfect, the performances, the direction, the casting, the story, the music ! Aaah ! A taste of heaven.


Christopher Nolan continues his treatment of the comic book and brings about a dark menace to the tale. The Dark Knight and the anticipation of its DVD made me pick up the DVD of the first part 'Batman Begins' and I saw it in new light. Nolan makes this tale almost believable. Gotham City is no longer Gothic but a modern city. The Batman is not just a comic hero but a man driven by a deep sense of justice and belonging to Gotham City. Once the DVD is out, make sure you watch both the parts successively and let yourself be taken into the good old tale of Good vs Evil but watch out for in The Dark Knight the Joker will succeed in questioning your beliefs and will question your sense of right or wrong !


Heath Ledger puts in an absolutely brilliant performance (a posthumous Oscar in the waiting ?) as the Joker. The hunched shoulders, the greasy green hair, the colourful clothes right down to the chequered socks, the violet gloves and the slushy voice make sure the image remains in your mind long after you have left the theatre ! The dialogues ring in your ears for days to come and if like me you watch it more than once do not be surprised if you end up asking people, "Why so serious ? let's put a smile on that face". One of the most memorable lines in recent times. I would put that up along with the line "I will make him an offer he cannot refuse" from my other all time favourite The Godfather (incidentally I got the 5 DVD Coppola special edition DVD pack of this which I am watching).


My mention of The Godfather is not accidental. Heath ledger was considered the upcoming Brando of this generation and if you have watched The Dark Knight you would know why. If you have not yet watched it, you must be from another planet ! try and catch it. It's still running at one of the multiplexes.


It is ironical that all the actors do brilliantly well but pale in comparison for no fault of theirs. The character of the Joker is brilliantly scripted and even more brilliantly performed that the excellent performances of notably Aaron Eckhart and Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Morgan freeman, Gary Oldman are forgotten.I can go on and on about this movie ! trust me its that good and yes there would be people who will say, "Well...its good but what are you so ecstatic about ?" My answer would be, "there are very few things in life that give you real pleasure without ego, society and others coming into play. A great movie is one of them. I am glad I partake this pleasure and when something like The Dark Knight comes by, I know I am in heaven"


Eagerly awaiting the DVD pack of this one !

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TO WATCH OR SKIP ?

Here's my recommendation:



  • Roadside Romeo: WATCH (for sake of yash Raj films and for some awesome animation)
  • Body of Lies : WATCH
  • Babylon: SKIP
  • Kidnap: SKIP (except if you like a lot of Minissha Lamba)
  • Righteous Kill : SKIP (such a disappointment)
  • The mighty Zohan: WATCH (if you like toilet humour)
  • Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na: WATCH ! WATCH !
  • A Wednesday: WATCH
  • Phoonk: SKIP
  • Mumbai Meri Jaan: WATCH
  • Jannat: WATCH

EAGERLY AWAITED:

  • Quantum of Solace (The trailer is brilliant and it's a Bond movie)

  • Fashion (Madhur Bhandarkar, lots of models...so why not ?)
  • Max Payne (Have played the game and its got Matt Damon. what other reason do I need)
  • SAW V (seen the first four so might as well watch the 5th)
  • Eagle Eye (trailer was nice, ahs Shia Le Bouf, produced by Steven Spielberg...enough reasons)

Any more you can suggest ?

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I will be back

Watching movies has'nt stopped. The writing has (temporarily). Trying out something new. Will be back soon !

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Gateway


I have been following this really awesome show on Sony PIX for a few weeks now. Yup, its very similar to the show 'On the Lot' that was on Star World and which was produced by Spielberg.

This one is called Gateway and it is a reality show contest for directors where the winner will get to a direct a Hollywood film produced by our very own Ashok Amritraj of Hyde Park Entertainment. And now, they are even calling for scripts. Aspiring scriptwriters may submit their scripts on gateway.rediff.com

The show is refreshing and wonderful. The jury consisting of regular jurors Ashok Amritraj, Anurag Basu( Director: Murder, Gangster, Life in a Metro) and Rajat Kapoor (Director: Mithya) is absolutely objective, helpful and professional. They always have a guest juror and some of the past ones have been Nagesh Kukunoor, Ketan Mehta, Sudhir Mishra etc. They started with 18 contestants and had series of team tasks as well as individual tasks. These tasks ranged from scriptwriting, storyboarding, shooting, script selling to short film-making.

Based on the performance there were four finalists. Last week Aman Sachdeva got eliminated leaving Bejoy Nambiar as one of the final two. Today (Sony PIX 10:00 PM Indian time, Sunday) Prshant Rasially and Vikram Bhatti , former team-mates in the team exercises will be up for judging based on a 10 minute film that they have made.

An awesome show with some great tips from the jurors, lots of lessons in film-making for many aspirants (and maybe some of our so called renowned film-makers as well!)

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Tashan


What a let down this one was ! What's happening to Yash Raj Films ? After some great ones like Chak De last year, they come out with a blooper of a movie called Tashan. Supposed to mean style, this movie as a whole lacks any of it.

The movie is nowhere close to the trailers and promos that ran. The trailer is worth more money that the movie itself and the only three things worth something in the movie are Akshay Kumar (as usual now a days it seems), Kareena Kapoor in new form-fitting Bikini and some good music.

The movie promised to be an awesome action movie. Well it has action, but sparse and unimpressive. The John Woo style action zips by that you blink and miss it. The small town hangover of Bunty aur Babli and Jhoom barabar Jhoom still lasts and ensures this movie sinks beyond repair, with flashback tales of small town backgrounds and charatcerization.

Anil Kapoor as Bhaiyaji, a don in Mumbai from UP who wants to learn English irritates you with repeated mumbling of broken English, Saif Ali Khan as Jimmy, a call center exec and an English coach is absolutely wasted. Kareena Kapoor as Pooja, who is not what she seems and is more or a less a prop and looks fabulous in her size zero bikini. Askhay Kumar as Bachchan Pandey, a goon from the banks of the Ganges with superhuman strength is the only one who shines purely because of his own efforts, timing, confidence and sheer screen presence. Direction/Story by Vijay Krishna Acharya simply does not exist. It appears as though a series of sequences were shot and then hastily put together. Absolute trash of a story which takes you all over India in the search for 25 crores which Jimmy and Pooja steal from Bhaiyaji and then Pooja steals from Jimmy and disappears (and they thought that's unpredictable ?). Bachchan Pandey is called in to track Pooja and then the money down. So you get a view of some exotic locales in Ladakh, Kerala and you get an item number in the desert too.

Absolute bloopers all through. Pooja hides money all over the country and the people hiding it don't take any ? Bhaiyaji is captured in his so called kingdom and gets away from the car with hardly any effort. These and many more big holes in the story/script.

Don't worry about the story. There isn't any. And the Saif-Kareena chemistry (since they are a couple in real life last I heard) simply isn't there. The music, her body and even Akshay Kumar just cannot save this disappointing let-down of a movie from Yash Raj films. they desperately need some new script writers. Maybe they should watch the TV Show Gateway ?

Sir mein dard bhaari, na Kareena ki body, na Akshay ki adakari, bachaye iss story/direction ke galathi ko, yehi to hain iss picture ka Tashan. (A heavy headache, neither Kareena's body nor Askhay's acting can save the mistake of story/direction, that is the style of the film called Tashan)

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3:10 to Yuma


Westerns are back ! Absolutely thrilled to have watched this one. Who doesn't love a lovely western flick ? And this movie just doesn't let you down

3:10 to Yuma has all the classic western elements and a superb cast with Russell Crowe, Christian Bale, Ben Foster and directed by James Mangold (of Walk the Line fame), the story of Outlaws, gunslingers and the eternal Good vs Evil is once again immortalised in cinematic glory.

Christian Bale (according to me one of the most under rated actors in Hollywood) plays a rancher Dan Evans who lost one leg in the war and is now struggling to save his ranch from the local landlord, feed his family and live up to his son's expectations. He soon gets a chance to do all of that and more when a famed and much wanted outlaw Ben Wade (Russell Crowe) is caught and the railroad company (from which Ben robs quite a lot) offers 200 dollars to Dan if he escorts Ben Wade and puts him on the 3:10 train to Yuma.

Ben Wade is coolly confident that he will never set foot on the train, he will either escape or he will be rescued by his faithful and psychotic gang member Charlie Prince (Ben foster). Dan Evans on the other hand is fully determined to make sure Ben in put on the 3:10, to save his ranch, his family and more importantly be a man in his son's eyes. There begins a beautiful tale of wits, action and relationships.

The horses, the clothing, the dust, the boots....all the western elements shine through in glory.Will the hard and cold blooded Ben Wade see the error of his ways or will he have his way through force or bribery ? Will Dan Evans fulfill his mission and not give in to the bribery of Ben Wade, will he save his family and more importantly will his son see in his father a man and a hero who stands up for what he must do ?

3:10 to Yuma is a beautiful tale that will answer all these questions and will leave you strangely involved especially with the climax. While some would say predictable, what matters is the manner of storytelling which reminds you of all the Louis L'Amour westerns you read as a kid (if you did) and will remind you of the Clint Eastwood westerns.

Brilliant performances take this movie to an unforgettable level and this will be one of the best modern day westerns ever made. I am now watching another one - 'The Assassination of Jesse James by the coward Robert Ford' and after 3:10 to Yuma, my expectations are sure high up there.

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Meet the Spartans


Its a spoof. What can you expect from a spoof ? Lots of slapstick comedy, lots of caricaturing of popular stars, films and personalities ? Lots of cheap, crass, gross jokes and lots of sexual references ?

Meet the Spartans gives you all that and more. It gives you a lot of spoofs rolled into one, like any other spoof movie. Primarily the movie focuses on the movie 300 and that's why the tag line is 'Bigger the hit, harder they fall'.

Starring Sean Maguire as King Leonidas and Carmen Electra as Queen Margo, you have a series of characters right from Britney Spears to Tom Cruise to Ugly Betty to Ryan Seacrest to Paula Abdul appearing. Of course Leonidas for a spartan he is is born with a beard and is considered normal !

Cannot say much about this spoof except that like any other spoof, leave your thinking hat behind and just watch it. One of the painful parts if that the Spartans keep breaking into song and dance too often. One of the hilarious parts is when Xerxes, the God king of the Persians appears and the voice over says- Xerxes, the God king who looks very similar to the naked fat man in Borat, for the actor is the same !

Is the spoof good ? Well... NO. It gets a little too one sided and boring after a while but then if spoofs were classy and intelligent, who would watch them right ?

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U me aur Hum



A romantic cruise, a sharp womaniser, a bubbly cute woman, lots of music and dance. These are the key elements of the 1st half of Ajay Devgan's directorial debut U, me aur Hum.

The promos were clear that this was a romantic movie (the greatest journey is the distance between two people..) and right from the title screen you are treated to an overdose of romance, right from romantic sayings and proverbs on love appearing written in the sky as clouds etc

A new born baby, Alzheimer's, friends with troubled marriages, a doting husband-these are the key elements of the 2nd half of the film. My overall 'view' of the film is that it sucks ! Big time !
Not because the movie itself is boring, insensitive and long but the movie could have been so much more better if some time could have been spent on the story and script. The movie has done fairly well at the box office. According to Boxofficeindia.com the movies has grossed over 18 crores INR (USD 4.5 Millions) in about 3 weeks.

You get to watch the movie in mostly flashbacks as a tale being told by a man to a woman , supposedly a stranger in a restaurant, in order to win a bet with his son. You the man is Ajay (Ajay Devgan) and the woman is Piya (Kajol). The tale is one of a whirlwind romance on a cruise, some bits of comic incidents thrown in courtesy the loyal friends of Ajay culminating in a so very romantic marriage.

When all seems to be well and hunky dory, Piya is diagnosed with Alzheimer's and then begins the saga of a doting husband taking care of his wife who no longer recognizes him. There are many moral questions asked such as would you relegate your loved one to a care home for they no longer can take care of themselves ? Sadly, the movie shows no impact on these issues and they tend to be frivolous side dishes to the main dish featuring Ajay and Piya.

There are a couple of sequences which are extremely powerful and if the entire script was in the same league, this movie could have been far more powerful. The scenes where Piya forgets her home address, the scene where she is distracted by a lizard on the wall while her baby is in the bath tub are all arresting visuals, but then the movie is just too long and too focused on the dramatics of the husband, the wife and patient rather than on the story itself. The film could have been far more romantic if it had not tried to show too many things and just focused on one aspect.

The sidekicks played by Karan Khanna, Divya Dutta, Summet and Isha do not provide much relief either and only add to the pain you feel.

Watch it, if you really must. The music is no great deal except for a song or two. Better luck next time Ajay, focus on the script is all I can say ( I paid money for the ticket you know !). I wish the distance between me and the movie was the greatest journey ever!

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No Country for Old Men


Easily one of the classier movies I saw recently. Did the Cohen brothers deserve an Oscar for it and the 3 other Oscars it got ? Well... I don't know and frankly I don't care. I shall leave that to the intellectuals to debate. I am just a movie watcher.

Directed and written by Joel Cohen and Nathan Coel based on a Novel by Cormac mcCarthy the film features some of the best performances on screen by a stellar cast featuring Tommy Lee Jobnes, Javier Bardem, Josh Brolin and Woody Harelson in a cameo. The tale is an awesome tale of changing times, greed, survival and desperation.

Josh Brolin plays Llewlyn Moses, a hunter who stumbles upon a drug related shootout, the drug consignment and 2 million dollars in cash. All that money and the promise of a better life sets off a chain of events that leads to many murders, mayhem and loss of law in this small town of Texas whose Sheriff Ed Tom Bell (Tommy lee Jones)believes the world is changing but still holds faith in the Bible.

Javier Bardem puts in an astonishing performance(and an Oscar winning one) as Anton Chigurh, an assassin for hire who murders in the strangest way possible, with a spring loaded metal rod triggered by a pressurized can of gas. The moment Javier comes on screen you sit back for he epitomises toughness and just basically cold-blooddedness. He's on the trail of the 2 million and on his trail is the DEA man Carson wells (Woody Harelson), but Anton leaves no trail or witnesses behind.

The hunter becomes the hunted and finds means and ways of survival with his survival instincts honed by fear and the desire of getting away with the 2 million. The assassin will not rest, nor tire of the chase. Will the law which is in a way startled by the ruthlessness of the crimes, the cold blooded assassinations catch up with them at all ? It is a country where the nimble footed quarry can get away but if the hunter is even more agile, nimble footed and psychopathic, will the chase ever end ?

Absolutely brilliant movie. Brilliant for its characterisation, brilliant for its casting and performance and brilliant for the way the makers have treated the story. The story appears to unfold in a lazy manner. You don't have the fast paced camera shots or jangling background score, it's just a story being told but then death like it does, appears suddenly and you realise this tale is no simple one, you better keep your eyes open !

Watch it ! Watch it !

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One Missed Call


A stranger Calls, The Ring and many other suspense/horror flicks usually remade from Japanese hits have caught our imagination or bored us to death at some point or the other.

One Missed Call is a bit of a mix of The Ring and Final Destination with a 'missed call' thrown in. No wonder the tag line says-What will it sound like when you die ?, for in this tale when you are about to die you receive a missed voice call and you get to hear yourself dieing along with the date and time ! And then from the victim's phone, a missed call goes out to the next victim ! Wow ! that's quite some story huh ? Directed by Eric Valette and based on a Japanese flick and novel, One Missed Call stars Edward Burns and Shannyn Sossamon. Edward Burns plays the police detective whose sister dies under mysterious circumstances and Shannyn plays the college students who notices a pattern to all the deaths happening around her.

There's also this little girl who is rescued from a burning hospital, who doesn't say a word but is somehow connected to the sinister happenings. That's The Ring angle for you ! And the deaths happen as pre-destined, in horrific manner. That's Final Destination for you .

The tale just doesn't have enough in it to hold you in horror. It becomes increasingly predictable as the story unfolds and you are left with a feeling of Deja Vu. Horror/Suspense film makers of today have a challenge should I say scriptwriters since we are exposed to so much of horror that 'horror' by itself doesn't seem to horrify us.

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Jumper


You are here one moment. The next moment you are on the Eiffel tower in Paris and the next you are in a place you see in a photograph. That's jumper for you.

Jumpers are a class of very few special beings with powers of teleportation. And yes, hunted by those who have sworn to kill them they live in hiding and fear. As the tag line says - Anywhere is possible.

Better than I expected it to be the movie is the tale of David Rice, a kid who discovers his powers when escaping from his drunken father's rage and looking at the photo of his long lost mother. He grows up on his own to become a young teen(Hayden Chritensen) and soon discovers that he can control his powers and of course live every teen's deepest fantasy...yup, of robbing a bank and getting away with it! He lives a life of worldwide travel, comfortable riches and also goes back to his hometown to meet his childhood crush Millie (Rachel Bilson).

But then, there's an ominous looking Roland(Samuel L Jackson) who's now hot on his trail and he has a machine that actually allows Roland to follow the jumper's trail. Will David escape and survive ? Will David get the affection of Millie ? What's David's mother got to do with all this ? Are there more Jumpers ?

Watch this movie, now only on DVD or on TV for its no longer running in the multiplexes in India, to know all this and have a quite afternoon of entertainment. Mind you, the star cast puts in an only average performance and the action is not so great but the scenes atop the Sphinx and the Pyramids are quite amusing.

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Shaurya: far from valour


Most other reviewers were right. The movie is a pale comparison to 'A Few Good Men'. While the comparison of the two is natural, let me also say that the only point of comparison is the fact that both movies feature people from the armed forces and the conflict of following orders to doing what is right, doing what counts as valour. The film by itself is well made from a technical standpoint like camerawork etc but falls flat on everything else.

The movie primarily fails because it does not really have a plot and what semblance of a plot does exist, seems to be a hastily put together one. The story is of two army lawyers Major Akaash Kapoor and Major Sidhanth Choudhary who are posted in Shrinagar. One has to defend a captain Javed Khan accused of killing his superior officer and the other has to prosecute the accused. There is an enigmatic brigadier (a la Jack Nicholson in few Good Men) played by Kay Kay Menon (Brigadier Pratap)who does a good job as much as possible in this failure. The two lawyers are played by Rahul Bose (Major Sidhanth) and Javed Jaffery(Major Akaash).

Too much time is spent on Rahul Bose and Javed Jaffery and then Rahul Bose and Minisha Lambaa (who plays a journalist Kavya covering the story) and then again Javed Jaffery and his fiance's story etc etc and absolutely no time or depth spent on the core issue around which the movie is supposed to based. There are minor sub points like religious bias etc which come in to further dilute the plot purpose. Yes, there is this flashback when one of the witnesses recounts the tale. there is this final courtroom scene too which is supposed to be the shattering climax but once again sadly falls flat in spite of some good work by Kay Kay Menon.

Minisha Lambaa is wasted and so is Kay Kay Menon. The whole Minisha Lambaa sub storyline makes absolutely no sense. the title is misleading and Shaurya (valour) remains an oft used term All in all I have no words to express how wasted I feel this whole effort. If they had remade A Few Good Men as is, in Hindi the movie would have been far better. I only wish the filmmaker watched the new reality show Gateway on Sony Pix which is hosted by Ashok Amritraj and really gives you the basics of film making !

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In rememberance: Charlton Heston


Charlton Heston, who potrayed Moses to perfection, won an Oscar for Ben Hur and later became the voice of the gun-toting American died at the age of 83.

Charlton Heston made other cameo appearances in Tue Lies, Any Given Sunday. To me Charlton Heston was the perfect Moses on screen ever.

You can read more about what The New York Times has to say here

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The name is Rajinikanth ?



Is there anything Rajini 'kant' do ?

'The Name is Rajinikant' is not a documentary on the superstar but is a book (an unsupported biography) by an ophthalmologist Gayathri Sreekanth. Since the book is about a cinematic icon I thought it fit to express my views. Yes, I read the book and was possibly among the first few Bangaloreans to read it. Let me admit I am no expert on this icon.

Shivaji Rao Gaekwad's journey from Bangalore to super stardom as Rajinikant in Chennai is the tale covered in this book culminating in the success of his latest blockbuster 'Sivaji". The movie has garnered over INR 300 Crores and has reinforced Rajini's standing as the highest paid actor in India (and Asia too I think along with Jackie Chan). His next film "Robot' by Shankar and starring Aishwarya Rai Bachchan is reportedly being made for INR 100 Crores. There was a time when he had retired from acting and was renouncing the life he lead and going to the Himalayas. There was a time when rumours were rampant that he is entering politics. There was a time when he allegedly was offered a chance to lead politics in Tamil Nadu and become the Chief Minister. His friction with the political supremo Jayalitha is well know to south Indians. There was also a time when his film did so badly that he returned the money the film distributors had paid up. The story of a toughie turned bus conductor turned millionaire superstar is a fantasy for many and therefore the interest in this hardbound (INR 495/-) first edition is understandable.

The book gives you the childhood of Rajini, his early years, his youth with comments from various people who knew him, notably his friend Raj Bahadur a bus driver in Bangalore's own BTS (now BMTC). Old Bangaloreans travelling the 10 and 10A bus number routes will know of Rajini for he became famous for his unique style and body language as a bus conductor.

Sadly, the book while being a collection of various tales of Rajini (which if you know any Rajini fan, you would have heard of) does not enter into the soul of the persona of Rajinikant possibly because it is a biography and not an autobiography. The book has repeated grammatical errors and factual errors such as the names of places in Bangalore etc. It is obvious that the author's research is limited to here-say and there has been no walk through like most authors would do. While I understand that criticism is easy and I respect the efforts of the author I do not see the passion for cinema and the efforts justifying the magnitude of the personality that is Rajini showing in this book. The storytelling is disjoint and contains numerous cliches. Dr Sreekanth, couldn't you have put some more efforts? And what was the editor from the publisher (On Books) doing ? Maybe they were all in awe of the subject.

Sadly, this is no way to do justice to one of the greatest Cinematic Icons of India. The book does give interesting tales. Fortunately for me, I have heard some of these tales during my years of growing up and I have an office colleague who seems to be an ardent fan of Rajini. These tales and more are there in the book. How did he get his name Rajinikant ? Why was he part of a cycle chain wielding gang in Bangalore? Is it true he slept on the footpath in Chennai during his initial days ? How did he meet his wife ? Why did he choose to give up acting and go to the Himalayas ? What was his flirtations with politics ? Does he move about in disguise? What was his friendship with another cinematic great Dr. Rajakumar? All these and more tales that generate awe, inspire you, and create complex dilemmas in your mind are there in this book.

"Na oru thaddava sonna, nooru thoddava sonna madi" (If I tell once, it is like I have said a hundred times), his famous line from Basha (I think) does not apply to this book, unfortunately. Rajinikant is an enigma and remains so even after this book. Can there ever be a book written that explains the phenomenon that he is ? I think not. Meanwhile lets just be amazed by the man, and the actor. As for the author, better luck next time. Do some justice to the subject chosen madam.What hurts most is the lack of passion and purpose!

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