Friday, December 5, 2008

Random thoughts on Yuvvraaj

Originally published on

I’ve always found it a challenging task to transform a dramatic script into a spellbinding musical,
Though I’ve done this before with films like Karz, Meri Jung, Khalnayak and Taal…………..

……….Imagine a film where: Salman is a dreamy singer…
Katrina is a leading musician…
Zayed grooves to a chaotic disco sound…
Anil kapoor enjoys only classical music…

Imagine the symphony of sounds created by all these characters.
Now imagine my struggle to match my visuals to rahman’s
Mesmerizing sound and Gulzaar Saab’s magical lyrics…

This is Yuvvraaj.

Hope you enjoy it!
Subhash Ghai.

This personal note from Mr Ghai is the first thing that would greet you when you open the audio CD jacket of Yuvvraj.

Frankly speaking I even liked two or three tracks from the album.

I think Rahman’s music grows on you over a period of time and it peaks after you have seen the movie.

There were also special comments (on the CD cover) by Mr. Rahman and Gulzar Saab testifying Ghai’s genius in matching up the visuals to the music.

Testimonials from these two gurus convinced me to break my resolve of abstaining from all Subhash Gai movies post Kisna (actually Yaadien. I gave him a second chance with Kisna).

Finally, I saw this movie last night.

I read a quote somewhere which vaguely meant that the most dangerous stage in a creative person’s life is when he starts to copy himself.

There isn’t a better way to describe Ghai’s latest effort- why only the latest one- if you look at Mr. ghai’s impressive body work- right from Ram lakhan, Saudagar, Khalnayak, Trimurti, etc- and try to draw a common pattern among them- it isn’t difficult to decipher the common overriding formula.

All…ok…say most of his movies would have two central characters (often brothers) with conflicting ideologies- one has to be an idealist while the other a bit confused and mixed up. Throw in a widowed mother, raped sister or a murdered father to sensationalize the plot and villains with obvious streaks of quirkiness (BAD MAN).

In the end the good always wins over evil with a climax sequence involving a song and a fight that happens simultaneously.

Also, if you don’t doze off half way through the movie- you might see the showman himself in a blink and miss sequence doing his bit of clowning around.

Let me talk about Yuvvraaj- if not anything, the movie has at least made me aware of Hindi’s rising popularity in the western world. The Goras babble dialogues in Hindi as it was official language of Prague and Austria (that is where the movie was supposedly shot).

Now a bit about the cast-

What can I say about Salman Khan- bad is no bad when worse is expected.

All thanks to his past few misadventures, I have no expectations whatsoever from him- but so great is the man that- he manages to disappoint me even then. Almost like cricket commentators who change the stance with every ball, the actor (if I can call him that) takes it scene by scene- with utmost adherence to inconsistency in all departments- from looks, to mannerisms to even hair styles.

Zayed is next in the row- I can’t even use words like career worst for him because he doesn’t have one. Playing a role that might be the closest to his real life (he plays a rich spoilt kid) Zayed gives a whole new definition to the word “wooden”. With his hair expressing more than his face and the rest of the body put together- you helplessly laugh at the scenes where this guy is trying hard to weep.

Anil Kapoor and Boman Irani are perfect examples to of what a bad script can do to even talented actors. This has to Boman’s shallowest performance till date- he doesn’t look convinced of his role even for a minute and that shows so badly on the screen.

Yuvvraaj from now on will also hold the distinction for the most uninformed and insensitive portrayal of autism. I think the brief to Anil was simple- play a mix of Rani Mukhurjee in Black and Sridevi in Sadma and he does that to a T.

There is also Mithun da in there- but you can excuse him in the acting department because for most part of it- his wig was really obtrusive and overpowered his performance

Poor Kaif woman is lost somewhere between these stalwarts in a role that only demands her to look good and at times even confused. In many promotional interviews before the release Miss Kaif has talked at length about getting trained in playing a cello, so that the portrayal looks realistic- though the effort is commendable, the lady would do pretty well with a crash course in acting at Ghai’s film school.

Then there are the infamous villains- a mama ji in a wheelchair who plots evil but hides it under his religious get up- complete with rudraksha, tilak, etc

And a bhabi who is desperate to be aadhi- gharwali (symbolism- non existent blouses and vulgar perfume squirting in a public setting)

Ghai is known for his in film placements- but this time around I think a brand of potato chips had refused to put money in his film- so there is a fatso who is just shown munching chips all the time- a clever negative publicity for the brand.

Also, there are few insignificant negative characters whose job is to just fill the frame and add to the magnitude of evil (the more the people the badder the evil)

The art direction is so grandeur and in your face that it never lets you forget that you are watching a movie and that it doesn’t look like this in the real world.

The plot and script is so weak and fake that as an audience the only emotions you ever feel are that of indifference, anger and boredom.
The inconsistencies are so obvious that they leave you with a feeling of being cheated- that is when you were not expecting anything from this fare- Its as if the gang that put the show together is taking us on ride- completely disrespecting our intelligence, patience, time and money.

Last but not the least- the songs for which I saw the movie in the first place- were so out of context and meddlesome that I ended up forwarding each one of them- For the first time because of the movie and their place in it- I will completely give up on the music of this one.

I felt a sense of liberation when the movie ended (with Mithun’s words of wisdom “Independent you live, united you stay- that is a happy family”) - and the end credits (inspired by OSO) started rolling.

I just hope that Mr. Ghai is not taking too many classes on direction in Whistling woods, or we would have many Yuvvraajs in the years to come.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Oye Lucky Lucky Oye: Movie Review

Originally published on

If there has been one film that I have been anticipating for the longest time- it has to be ‘Oye Lucky, Lucky Oye (OLLO)’. In fact I rate Khosla Ka Ghosla as the second best bollywood film I have seen in last five-six years (the first has to be ‘Maqbool’- but I will save it for another post).
What an impressive debut KKG was- it was heartening to see such a simple tale of underdogs- with characters etched out so well- that you almost feel that you know them from before. Indeed, by end of the movie, I knew the Khosla family so well that even in any other situation – I could imagine- exactly how they would react.

When you raise the bar so high- in your first movie itself, it’s quite a task to stand up to the huge expectations with a worthy follow up. While a few directors have done it successfully, many have disappointed us as well.

So did Dibakar disappoint me?

Not at all. Actually, I came out quite impressed from of the hall.

OLLO- is a brilliant second movie from a very talented director. What impressed me more is the fact that Dibakar has picked up a rather complex story this time as compared to simplistic one before. There are lots of layers in the story and there is an amazing sense of maturity that marks the narration.

A single story can have many interpretations, and what I am about to write is my take out from the movie- which. It is a very personalized account of how I comprehend the movie.
The movie follows the growth of Lucky from his teens to thirties and his journey from innocence to notoriety-all this with the back drop of Delhi (Guys lets accept it- nobody does Delhi better than Dibakar)

The initial scenes clearly establish Lucky’s strained relationship with his father and his uneasiness with the other woman in the house (father’s keep).

Also, it gives you a glimpse into Lucky’s world of aimless friends and their collective dreams and aspirations. Their fascination for good things in life (cars, chicks, etc) is obvious but what sets Lucky apart from his group is his self belief- and that is brilliantly captured in this one line Lucky keeps saying through out the film- “Kyon main kar nahi sakta?”

I also thought that his becoming a ‘Mona’ sardar symbolizes his giving up on social conformity.
Lucky is an incorrigible thief- it’s almost like he has a kind of compulsive disorder to steal- and sometimes through the things that he steals- you get a hint of his feelings at that point in time- his deprivation and loneliness-he steals a greeting card (reminiscing his first love), family photograph (His longing ness for a family), a king size teddy (the child within).
But the movie is not about stealing- it is about Lucky’s emotional vulnerability, his pining for love- the only thing he can’t steal. All the people who befriend him have a selfish motive (except his girlfriend, but again I am not sure- because there is a scene where she asks him to keep the money on the fridge). His father, surrogate father and the business partner (all three played brilliantly by Paresh Rawal) are the three fatherly figures who inflict him the maximum pain.

These are the few scenes which stand apart for me- teenage Lucky’s first encounter with a neighborhood girl in the greeting cards shop and subsequently their first date in a restaurant, Lucky asking Dolly what she wants to eat in a night club, his first date with Sonal and her reaction to school girls in short skirts, Dr. Handa’s insights on the male dog and the lady dog, the conversation between Sonal and Lucky’s bhabi.

There are some nice touches which were like master strokes- The kid sardar’s air fighting sequence when Luck’s father is chasing Lucky out of the house for demanding a new scooter, the hanging wires, air conditioners and the election posters in the background when Lucky is taking the girl on a motor bike ride, the zebra striped interiors of the black Mercedes that Lucky steals for Goga Bhai., Sonal’s pink cybershot, a shot of Lucky’s bare feet while he is escaping on a stolen Enfield from the police station.

I also quite liked the scene in which Lucky does these car stunts with Sonal- the muted closed ups worked very well for me.

All performances are good, but these guys deserve a special mention- the sardar who played Lucky’s childhood part, Lucky’s partner in crime- Bengali and Dolly.

Ofcourse Paresh Rawal is magnificent in all three avatars. Also, Neetu Chandra packs a poised performance and renders an understated composure to her character .

One guy who carries the film on his shoulders and deserves a standing ovation is Abhay Deol- the ease and subtlety with which he plays Lucky is mind blowing. I can’t stop myself from diverting from the topic here to have a look at the movies that Abhay has done so far- Socha Na Tha, Ek chaalis, Manorama Six feet under, Honeymoon travels and now OLLO (upcoming Dev D)- what a range- no wonder he has become the poster boy of the new age- popular- niche bollywood cinema.

The music is well researched and does a great job in enhancing the narrative- it perfectly compliments the mood of the movie.

It’s refreshing to see Delhi as a backdrop- with each of its locality having a distinctive character and how well Dibakar captures it.

Finally, what looks like a simple funny movie is work of a painstaking research and original thinking and I guess that’s the way forward for Indian cinema.