Jab Harry Met Sejal Movie Review: Tab Head Met Wall!

There’s a moment, bang in the middle of Jab Harry Met Sejal, when one of the titular characters remarks snidely “This is silly, we need to get out of here”, and you end up thinking to yourself, what if the same had been said by Aditya to Geet (Jab We Met) or Tara to Ved (Tamasha), the seeming voices of reason asking a dreamer to change course, to not fly too close to the sun, to stop sprinting and take a breath. When the promos of JHMS first showed up, it seemed like yet another Imtiaz Ali tale of two strangers in a strange land, but when the two strangers happen to be Shahrukh Khan and Anushka Sharma, can the magic of Jab We Met, the soulfulness of Highway and the pathos of Tamasha be captured again on celluloid?Continue reading “Jab Harry Met Sejal Movie Review: Tab Head Met Wall!”

10 Path-Breaking Marathi Films of this Decade (So Far)!

We all must be aware that in terms of filmmaking, ‘Path-Breaking’ is an adjective used for films which in a way opens up a different genre/style/theme or redefines a previously known genre/style/theme. In case of Marathi cinema, ‘Path-Breaking’ could be a title used to honor films that broke the mould of conventional ‘Marathi’ genres/styles/themes & while doing so also succeeded in overall aspects, expected from a good film. Comedy & family drama have always been the most conventional genre in Marathi, not to forget ‘melodrama’! There are people who have recently recognized Marathi cinema & have also coined the term ‘The Marathi New Wave’ which includes any random popular Marathi film (like Natsamrat or Katyar..) of recent times. Is the ‘Wave’ really there? Even if it’s there, is it even averagely substantial? Well, let’s examine it!

Note: ‘This Decade (So Far)’ stands for 2010-2016.Continue reading “10 Path-Breaking Marathi Films of this Decade (So Far)!”

Tamasha (2015) Movie Review: The Art of Bad Storytelling

Imtiaz Ali’s film Tamasha is, at best, an attempt at a grand spectacle, and at worst, an eloquent exploration of the title’s other meaning, that is, commotion.The movie starts with the back story of a child fascinated with storytelling, beautifully shot by the talented Ravi Verman of Barfi fame, and coherently strung together by editor Aarti Bajaj. The movie is narrated not so subtly, by a theatre show of a futuristic robot and a joker.In a desperately clichéd attempt to portray the story as contrary to reality, young Ved is seen escaping his cruel father, collecting stolen pennies in a secret box, and using them to pay to listen to an old man’s (Piyush Mishra) fantastical tales. The old man keeps reiterating that all stories are essentially the same with characters that keep changing. The child, much like the protagonist in Pan’sLabyrinth, finds stories in unlikely places, and imagines characters materializing from the dark corners of his house. Unable to discern reality from fantasy, his young mind is enraptured by the possibilities of a fictional world, which contrast starkly to his life under his father watchful eye.Up until this point, Tamasha has merit enough to be a very good children’s film.Continue reading “Tamasha (2015) Movie Review: The Art of Bad Storytelling”

Tamasha Movie Review: Performance of Life


Jab We Met, Break Ke Baad, Ek Main Aur Ek Tu and Tamasha – what do these have in common? They have a stuck-up, somewhat depressed beta-male who is liberated from the monotony of life by a freewheeling sorted-in-life chic. They unlock the guy’s true potential. Out of these movies, 2 have Kareena Kapoor, 2 have Deepika Padukone and 2 are made by the same guy, Imtiaz Ali. It says a lot about all of them. Kareena and Deepika are the true female superstars of the multiplex era. Just like Madhuri and Sridevi (Beta, Chalbaaz) from the 90’s, they fulfill the male writer-director’s fantasy of women with reins (“If I’m going to submit myself to someone, it has to be one of these”). Imtiaz Ali’s lead male characters are highly conflicted (nothing profound, just confused) and eventually turn to the women for life-affirming comforts. With Tamasha, he continues with his adolescent pre-occupations of finding the one-true-special-one, but this time he exhibits a very strong narrative control for almost three quarters of the movie, where he shifts through places, timelines and perspectives much more organically than his other more ambitious films like Love Aaj Kal and Rockstar.Continue reading “Tamasha Movie Review: Performance of Life”

Tamasha Movie Review: Imtiaz Ali’s Mera Naam Joker Moment

Tamasha Poster 1If you flip through filmography of accomplished directors, you will find at least one film that goes on to become a symbol of their pedigree. ‘That one film’ may not necessarily be the directors’ most accomplished work or a roaring commercial success, yet it beams with the faith, idea and conviction of its creator.Continue reading “Tamasha Movie Review: Imtiaz Ali’s Mera Naam Joker Moment”

Highway Marathi Movie: Trailer

highway marathi movie posterUmesh and Girish Kulkarni are two of the most sort after names in the marathi film industry. Their upcoming projects are closely followed. The buzz about their films begins from the festival screening of the film itself. This time however they have chosen to directly release their film in theatre without taking the festival route.

Thy synopsis says it is a film of that escape from the grind that all of us yearn for. It is an attempt to see our own reflections in today’s time.

It stars Girish Kulkarni, Huma Qureshi, Tisca Chopra, Renuka Shahane Rana, Vidyadhar Joshi, Mukta Barve, Sunil Barve, Mayur Khandge, Shrikant Yadav, Kishore Chaugule, Kishor Kadam, Vrishali Kulkarni, Purva Pawar amongst others.

It releases on the 24th of July.

Here’s the trailer :

Continue reading “Highway Marathi Movie: Trailer”

Bollywood in 2014: The Women Have it

What does the quintessential Bollywood heroine do? Other than wear skimpy clothes, dance to crazy songs with cheap lyrics and play the damsel in distress perpetually waiting for her knight in shining armor you mean? Pretty much nothing. This fact has not changed for the last 100 years of Hindi cinema’s existence.

Barring the stray “Mother India” or a Kahaani, women have very little to do in our films. They play the docile wife, the obedient daughter, the chirpy lover or the evil scheming vamp- all characters cut out in 2D with very little resemblance to anyone living or dead.Continue reading “Bollywood in 2014: The Women Have it”

Highway (Bengali Movie): Trailer

Highway 2014 Bengali PosterSudipto Chattopadhyay who has made Hindi films like Pankh and the unreleased Shobhana 7 Nights is now ready with his first Bengali film, Highway. Featuring Parambrata Chatterjee and Koel Mallick in the lead, the film is produced by Nispal Singh of Surinder Films who incidentally is also Koel’s husband. Highway has music by Anupam Roy while R.Dee is the DOP and Rabi Ranjan Maitra is the editor.Continue reading “Highway (Bengali Movie): Trailer”

Imtiaz Ali’s ‘Highway’: Some Thoughts, Insights and Perspectives!

Have you as a person,  ever felt a compelling desire not to go back to your origins?
Have you sensed a strong urge to leave all your ‘inner demons’ behind and break free, even when you realize that there is no way ahead?
You can’t also escape from the reality and go further with a game-plan or scheme as you are totally aware of the futility of that exercise!
A part of you actually, doesn’t want to move forward! But somewhere halfway in the journey- between going back and moving forward- you are stuck!
And you fall in love with that!
You yearn for that journey to be perpetual, never-ending and in that ceaseless journey – you seek solace!
You just need to be there, involved in that dream voyage for as long as possible, not for once perturbed or afraid of the consequences…
You want some more time to breathe, one more second of happiness for basking in that moment! One more instance of joy…
You just want to spend some time on the crazy expedition seeking something incomprehensible!
You simply wish the journey froze, in the present!

What if that journey involved two contrasting individuals from completely different backgrounds, fighting varied issues, pitted against each other?

How does it feel to be someone from the uber-upper-class, and how does it feel to live off the edge?
What are the odds that these two extremes strike a common chord? On what kind of dire circumstances?
How would it be if you felt ‘susceptible’ in the safe confines of your haven, but ‘safe’ with your captor in unknown dangerous territories?
How will it feel to be deprived of any sort of love, affection or care for twenty long years, only to develop new, hither-to, unfelt strange emotions with someone you have taken hostage?
Is what you are forced to perceive as freedom, the real ‘freedom’?
Is what you are lead to believe as normal, really ‘normal’?
Is what you discern as hostility, actually loneliness and vengeance spewing out?
Does something that is forced onto you, account as something to feel ‘guilty’ or ‘shameful’ about?

Highway 2014Its simple.  An emotionally charged road trip unfolds as a consequence of a seemingly violent man accidentally kidnapping an urban girl. Taking this one line as the premise, writer-director Imtiaz Ali attempts to answer almost all of these questions, and much more in his recent film ‘Highway’!

The real test of a scriptwriter/director’s prowess is his show of ‘versatility’- his ability to keep the dangerous ‘genre tag’ at bay! Few people in the South, like KamalHaasan, have mastered that art. Imtiaz Ali has tried to break out of his ‘loud, romantic and commercial’ shackles by trying his hand at a honest ‘unhurriedly- simplistic’ movie, which moves you with its intense visuals and moments of mesmerizing silence!

At its soul, ‘Highway’ is Ali’s take on ‘Stockholm syndrome’, which he crafts effectively by conflicting the ‘fear’ of an abducted girl, with her slowly developing sense of ‘freedom’ and increasing ‘comfort levels’ with her kidnapper! A contrasting display of emotions is caught raw on screen, as the captor doesn’t know that the girl is an engaged daughter of a big-shot, and further insists on resorting to a ‘do or die’ strategy on realizing it ! The beautiful bond that the two come to share is something not to be analysed or judged, but savored! For one thing, this doesn’t fit into the typical ‘Stockholm’ script like Amarkalam or Raavan, as the hostage here actually doesn’t develop any kind of feelings for the captor, but instead senses freedom when he is around! This makes the script unique and definitely one with lots of potential.

With a persistent dark, gritty feel and a state of silent stagnation at many instances, the director leaves it to the audience to reflect and ponder on the emotions of the characters on screen! So, essentially, this is not the kind of cinema, which would entertain everyone, but, is certainly the type that will keep you ‘hooked’! The director builds the suspense with many tense moments all through, but he doesn’t reveal anything till the end! That keeps you guessing on when the eventual will happen; and when it does at the least expected moment, it does hit you strong and hard! Having said that, few incongruities in screenplay and excessive dark layering in the script does make the viewing experience a bit strenuous and unappealing at times!

The film’s technical credentials are outstanding! Casting is top-notch and the performances are rock solid! Alia Bhatt as ‘Veera’- being the natural performer that she is – turns out to be a revelation throughout! She manages to portray fear, vulnerability and insecurity even with her half-covered face in the initial parts of the movie! And at times, when she is clowning around with her dangerous captors, she makes it all ‘believable’ with that naive look of hers, convincing us of the the false security, she is bound to feel and express because of extreme upper class ‘closed upbringing’! The authentic feelings of claustrophobia, the ‘giving up’ moments of escape, lack of normal human fears and reactions – all these, bearings of a rich caged girl, flow out from her naturally! Full credit to the script which has brought out her best! Later when she shows traces of real freedom bursting out, she absolutely nails it, even amidst all that that dark silence! She comes out unscathed and terrifically convincing in that particular long sequence, when she recounts the ‘closed, oppressed’ nature of the urban society and the ‘silent abuse’, she had to endure as a child! The gleam she gets to her eyes, when she finds her dream destination at last is all ‘sheer magic’ – you have to see to believe! On the flip side, her monologues sometimes pass off as a bit eccentric!

On the other hand, Randeep Hooda, with a Haryanvi jat accent, lends tons of credibility to the role of Mahabir Bhati, a violent rustic criminal who is seemingly ruthless and intensely cynic on the outside! With so many opportune moments to overreact, he delivers an extremely guarded brilliant performance, hiding under dirty clothes and messy looks for almost the entire movie! Eventually, in an emotionally intense scene, when he gets to finally smile, Alia cries and we are caught between them, crying and smiling in joy! And then, there is this surreal scene in the end, when he keeps hesitating to enter a make-shift ‘home’ with Veera, where we can actually see through his emotions! Finally, when he opens up and weeps in agony, conveying his uncertainties regarding the remains of his humanity, and his motherly emotions for Veera, he makes us wonder why such fine actors are hardly  ever utilized! You know its not just another film for him and you have been treated to something really genuine and honest, when the first credit to appear at the end of the movie is that of the body language consultant! And add to it, the trivia that he didn’t speak to Alia during the major portion of the shoot, to get the character shade! This man has shown, when given a chance, what he is capable of!

Astonishingly marvelous cinematography in pristine beautiful locations and a restrained yet appealing background score are the two concrete pillars of  ‘Highway’! The movie has some insanely splendid visuals, showcasing the beauty of the road highways of Delhi, Haryana, Rajasthan, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Kashmir, the six states through which the lead characters get to travel! The final shots in the valleys and rivers of the Himalayas have to be seen on screen to feel the experience. Well done, and thank you Anil Mehta and his entire crew for all the efforts taken! Rahman gives a scintillating background score which gives lots of space for ‘silent’ introspection! That is clearly a rarity in Indian cinema, and Rahman gives a demonstration of how it is rightly done! The songs are a rage and perfectly blend in with the narration!

‘Highway’ is definitely a triumph for Ali, personally and for Indian cinema as a whole! It engages and awes you with its rich visuals, at the same time leaves you pondering over a lot of sensitive social hypocrisies! It gives you the kind of high, you would get while you are trekking in Ladakh, sans any sort of artifice, reflecting on the beauty of the terrains… and Yes, it pains, because its not a fun ride! Its a trek for god’s sake, but it rewards you with wisps of fresh crisp breeze and unusual resplendent sights!

A sort of ‘different’ high, worth taking the risk of indulging!

Enhanced by Zemanta