Monday, 28 October 2013

A Tribute to Manna Dey

Memories of Dey
During the Golden era of Hindi film music, right from the 50s to the 80s, virtually every popular actor had a playback singer who suited his voice the most. But Prabodh Chandra Dey, known to us as Manna Dey, was an exception. He sang a variety of songs and to say that he was versatile is as obvious as saying the sky is blue.

The first song that he recorded was at the age of 22 for the character of the sage Valmiki in 'Ram Rajya', and some of the songs he sang subsequently were filmed on old people! Over the years, his voice was not restricted to any particular actor but that often proved as much a bane as a boon. Unlike a Rafi-Shammi Kapoor or Rajesh Khanna-Kishore Kumar team, Manna Dey was a lone ranger. True, he had a few hits with Raj Kapoor but the actor had far more hits with Mukesh. Manna Dey's legacy is thanks to songs with a classical touch like Laaga Chunri Mein Daag to fun ones like Aao Twist Kare from Bhoot Bangla, with Mehmood doing his antics on screen.

Today, it is interesting to note the choice of personal favourites on social media  among Dey's fans and listeners. They range from Ae Mere Pyaare Watan (Kabuliwala) to the more upbeat Phool Gendwa na Maaro (Dooj Ka Chaand). Incidentally, Balraj Sahni, who sings the song Ae Mere Pyare Watan, a perennial favourite on certain national holidays in India, plays an Afghan longing for his motherland. It is said that when Manna Dey was recording the song, the sound recordist wasn't too pleased. He thought the singer was singing it too softly but Manna Dey knew the essence of the song better.

The story of Ketki Gulab Juhi is well known, but for those who haven't heard it before, it goes like this. The music directors Shankar-Jaikishen wanted to record a song with Manna Dey and Pandit Bhimsen Joshi, to be picturised as an on-screen singing duel between two vocalists. It turned out that Dey was meant to win the competition, but he developed cold feet before the recording. How could he win a competition with Pandit Bhimsen Joshi, that too one involving a classical song? As legend has it, Panditji comforted Manna Dey saying he had no problem losing to Dey on screen. A half century later, the song is still a treat to listen to. Music aficionados with a broader horizon might want to savour a hard rock version of the same song on Youtube by an Indian rock band called Lambada.

That is not the only ‘competition' song that Manna Dey sang; Ek Chatur Naar in which he competes with Kishore Kumar still remains popular and, incidentally, he loses to Kishore Kumar on screen in that contest. Here, as with many of Manna Dey's songs, it would be hard to recollect on whom it was picturised. Take for instance that brilliant rendition of Khamaj Raag in Aayo Kahan se Ghanshyam. If you haven't see the movie, it might come as a surprise that it is the character actor of yesteryears, Om Prakash on whom it was filmed. Har taraf ab yahi afsaane hain penned by Kaifi Azmi (Hindustan Ki Kasam, 1973, Madan Mohan) had a dapper Raj Kumar in his Air Force uniform longing for Priya Rajvansh.

While we associate Manna Dey singing Zindagi kaisi hain paaheli in 'Anand' for Rajesh Khanna, later he also sang Tum bin jeevan kaisa jeevan (Bawarchi, 1972) with Khanna wearing a postman's uniform and a Gandhi topi with a tanpura in hand. Hasne Ki Chaah ne (Aavishkar 1974) involved the relatively unknown Kapil Kumar and Kanu Roy as lyricist and music director, with the song used in the title credits, while in the less celebrated Gori teri paijaniya (Mehbooba, 1976) Rajesh Khanna plays a court singer and Hema Malini dances to his tunes.

Manna Dey had a splendid partnership with Shankar-Jaikishen and Salil Choudhury, even though it did not last very long with the former. In his autobiography, Memories Come Alive, he wrote that the first song he recorded with the composer duo was a duet with Lata Mangeshkar, Tere bina aag yeh chandni (Awaara). Over the next few years they delivered a string of hits like Dil ka haal sune dilwaala, Pyaar hua ikraar (Shree 420), Yeh raat bheegi bheegi, Aaja sanam (Chori Chori) and Lapak jhapak from Boot Polish based on Raag Miya ki malhar, superbly filmed on David singing to inmates in a jail. The last song that Manna Dey sang for Shankar-Jaikishen was the memorable Sur Na Saaje from Basant Bahar (1956). Apparently the first choice for this song was Mohd. Rafi but Shankar insisted on Manna Dey.

During his early days, Dey was a member of the Bombay Youth Choir which was set up by the maestro, Salil Choudhary. In the later years, he sang quite a few hits for the music director like Zindagi Kaisi hain Paheli (Anand) and Ae mere pyaare watan. Salil Choudhury also gave Dey his first break in Bengali films with Ek Din Ratre starring Raj Kapoor and Chhabi Biswas. In fact the song Ei duniyay bhai shobi hoy was also recorded by Manna Dey for the Hindi version, Zindagi Khwab hain (Jaagte Raho), but in the film it was Mukesh's voice which was used. The genius of Salil Choudhary and Manna Dey was such that the former composed the music for a landmark Malayalam film Chemmeen (1965) and the singer immortalized the song Maanasa Mainey Varoo which remains popular till date. It helped that Dey's wife Sulochana Kumaran was from Kerala and she assisted him in getting the pronunciation right.

During the twilight of his life, Manna Dey was still active performing on live shows and on television as well. The voice that delighted us over the years may have fallen silent but the legacy Manna Dey left behind will live forever.

(Published in The Navhind Times on 26th Oct 2013)

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Film review - Mickey Virus

Quite a Hack

Film: Mickey Virus
Cast: Manish Paul, Elli Avram, Manish Choudhary
Directed by: Saurabh Varma
Duration: 2 hrs 15 mins
Rating: * *

Mickey Virus is one of those films that have an interesting premise and characters but ultimately, the whole is much smaller than the sum of its parts. It desperately wants to be hip and different but yet it falls in some of those standard Bollywood traps.

Thrillers are a rare breed in Hindi cinema these days and that too ones involving modern technology. So we have Mickey Arora (debutant Manish Paul, reminding you of Virat Kohli) who is a numero uno hacker in the Delhi-NCR and beyond. He has also designed a computer game and the main character is called Kung Fu Chameli who looks more like Savita bhabhi.

The company he keeps is also a bunch of hackers including a girl curiously called Chutney (Puja Gupta). I was most fascinated by the kind of computers and monitor screens they use, it is something you see only in movies, that too Hollywood ones. In an underground office in Delhi, they looked a little out of place.

An international gang of hackers who call themselves Bhram gang (bhram as in illusion) are on the loose in Delhi so a top cop (Manish Choudhary) decides to recruit a hacker to tackle them. After all, as we know, loha hi lohe ko kaat ta hain.  

Since Bollywood films can barely do without romance, our hacker guru meets a foreigner Kamyani (Swedish-Greek model Elli Avram) and falls in head over high heels in love with her. The rest of it involves an ultra complex plot with wheels within wheels.

In the first half, Mickey Virus tries to be too clever and in the second, it is too silly. If they had found a middle ground, it would have been more effective. The dialogues written by the director Saurabh Varma are the best part of the film, the lingo is authentic Dilli with quite a few smart lines thrown in. Take for instance the hawaldar who sees Mickey working on the computer and says “Pata nahin ke www type kiya jar aha hain” (I don’t know why you keep typing www)

Manish Paul in the lead role is not the most smashing actor to make a debut but he is likable. As for Elli Avram, she still needs more lessons in acting. This virus business is okayish if your mental security levels are on the higher side.
(Published in The Navhind Times on 27th Oct. 2013)

Film Review - The Fifth Estate

Open Secrets

Film: The Fifth Estate

Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Daniel Bruhl

Directed by: Bill Condon

Duration: 2 hrs 8 mins

Rating: * * 1 / 2

Directed by Bill Condon whose has films range from the eminently watchable Gods and Monsters to the disastrous Twilight films (Breaking Dawn I & II), The Fifth Estate tells us the story of Wikileaks and Julian Assange. From what we know, it should ideally be a gripping account of how that one man caused so much upheaval all around the world by exposing dark deadly secrets but the screenplay leaves a fair bit to be desired. The primary source for it is two books, one of them written by Assange’s former friend Daniel Domscheit-Berg, the two had split acrimoniously.

Benedict Cumberbatch essays the role of Assange and the film starts at a point when he still was one man force. He met Daniel Domscheit-Berg (Daniel Bruhl) a young programmer who shares Assange’s enthusiasm for setting things right in the world. The Wikileaks website offered a platform for sources to anonymously provide information about corrupt practices and the duo had first exposed a Swiss bank and from there on, their campaign to publish information that would rattle the powerful and mighty continued. Till the Bradley Manning episode occurred that made waves around the globe and most importantly, riled up the United States no end. 

On key issues, the film doesn’t really know what stand to take. Since the book is biased against Assange, it projects him as a very self centered, selfish guy. And because Daniel has written the book, he gets as much screen time and his character comes off far more polished and clear. There are moments when Assange is shown as a crusader with a vision but at the end of it all, there is no clear picture.

Comparatively, Alex Gibney’s documentary We Steal Secrets-The Story of WikiLeaks was far more insightful.The Fifth Estate keeps you engaged because of the nature of the subject and a good performance, both from Cumberbatch and Bruhl.  

(Published in The Navhind Times on 27th Oct. 2013)

Film Review - Boss

Boss Karo !

Film: Boss
Cast: Akshay Kumar,  Shiv Pandit, Aditi Rao Hydari
Directed by: Anthony D'Souza
Duration:2hrs 15 mins
Rating: * *

The good news is that Boss is not as bad as some of Akshay Kumars other films.  But if you leave those abysmal standards aside, it is still a lousy film with an asinine story and that is the bad news. Directed by Anthony D'Souza so gave us that unforgettable under water dud Blue, this horrible Boss is a remake of the super hit Malayalam film Pokkiri Raja starring Mammoty and Prithviraj.

By now, film makers should have realised that what works in the South, may not work anywhere else. Yet you see many remakes that sink in without a trace, occasionally they do make money for the producers in spite of being a bad film, like say Rowdy Rathore.
So Akshay Kumar plays the lead role of Boss, a goon and contract killer of sorts. Several sunrises ago when he was a kid, his dad (Mithun Chakraborty) had banished him because he was a very violent character. Not since Amar Akbar Anthony have we seen the opening credits come in so late into the film but that's the only similarity it has with Manmohan Desai's classic.
The younger son Shiv (Shiv Pandit) was and remains the apple of his eye but he gets into trouble with a politician (main top par pahunchna chahata hoon he says) and a corrupt police (Ronit Roy). Incidentally,  he also falls in love with the cops sister (Aditi Rao) and that complicates it further.
The old man then 'hires' his elder son to rescue the younger one. The rest of the film involves family bonding, breaking limbs but mercifully, no romance. Sonakshi Sinha makes an appearance in an item number but even before you can dig and not find gold, she vanishes.
While there is the odd funny moment,  most of it is rather hackneyed.  The is a fair amount of violence as well which was strictly avoidable.Akshay Kumar does his usual bit but it's not enough to salvage the situation. The audience certainly deserved better than a Boss like this one !

(Published in The Navhind Times on 20th Oct. 2013)

Film Review - Captain Phillips

Captain Courageous 

Film:Captain Phillips
Cast:Tom Hank,Barkhad Abdi
Directed by:Paul Greengrass
Duration:2hrs 15 mins
Rating: * * * *

With films like United 93, The Green Zone and a couple from the Bourne series, director Paul Greengrass is no stranger to making thrillers. With Captain Phillips,  he has added yet another gem to his already impressive repertoire.  Like his other films,  Greengrass gets the best out of his actors and knows precisely how to generate tension and excitement even with routine action scenes.
Based on the true story of Captain Richard Philips (played admirably by Tom Hanks) who was in charge of the  massive cargo ship Alabama when it got hijacked by Somalian pirates in 2009. An American citizen,  He is a family man who takes charge of the ship when he boards it at Oman port.
Even though there are warnings about the pirates, what should be a routine trip turns out to be a night mare. The captain is on his guard taking possible measures but that didn't prevent a bunch of gun wielding young men to board the ship and take the captain hostage.
The cat and mouse games begin as the captain and his crew try to outwit the pirates as the situation gradually spirals out of control. Since he is an American citizen, along with heaven and earth, the navy and the SEAL team is moved to diffuse the situation.

The story doesn't take too long before cutting to the chase, you are in the middle of the action right from the word go and once the action starts, the tension is relentless. Take the scene where the pirates approach the ship and hijack it, as the audience, you know that they are going to take over but the manner in which it unfolds keeps you on the edge of your seat. Even the characterization was solid, even though the deeds of the pirates were not likable, as people, there was an element of sympathy for them.
Greengrass uses a lot of his usual hand held camera shots which gives you the feeling of being in the middle of the action. The shaky movements may also be unsettling for some viewers.

Of the cast,  the director brings out the best in the newcomers who play the pirates. Tom Hanks in the lead role is nothing short of brilliant. The final scene where he breaks down is itself worthy of an Oscar.
It is films like these that restore your faith in main stream Hollywood,  don't miss it.

(Published in The Navhind Times on 20th Oct. 2013)

Film Review - Shahid

Minority Report

Film: Shahid
Cast:Rajkumar Yadav, Prabhleen Sandhu, Zeeshan Ayub
Directed by: Hansal Mehta
Duration: 2 hrs
Rating: * * * 1 / 2

Based on the life of lawyer/activist Shahid Azmi, this film directed by Hansal Mehta is remarkable for the story and the treatment. Real life stories or serious issues are rarely highlighted in Hindi films hence this effort is all the more commendable also because it is made with sincerity and dares to trod the uncommon path.

Since the 90's there has been a huge polarisation within the communities in India.  The have been bomb blasts and terrorist attacks but in the process of apprehending the culprits, many innocents have also been put behind bars and tortured without getting a fair trial. A young man Shahid (Raj Kumar) is picked up by the police after the '92 Mumbai blasts.

The next thing you know,  he has joined a terror camp across the border but since he doesn't agree with their ideology he escapes from there. Once he is back in Mumbai,  the police apprehend him again,  this time he serves 7 years in prison. But there he is inspired by another gentlemen (Kay Kay Menon) who is also a victim of a crime that is ambiguous. Shahid studies law and as a professional, he takes up cases of those innocent people who have been wrongly accused of terrorist activities.  It is not an easy job for him as he has to tackle many issues- cases go on forever in courts and he also receives death threats for being 'anti national'. He also marries one of his clients (Prabhleen Sandhu) who already had a son and is very liberal in nature.

Rather than the politics, it is Shahid and his dedication to the cause that makes an impact.  The plight of many innocents is aptly high lighted but it also makes you wonder,  in troubled times like these,  what is the best and fair way out in such situations. 

Full credit goes to Hansal Mehta and his team for crafting a superior film.  Apart from the screenplay,  it is the acting which deserves an applause. Mohammed Zeeshan Ayub as the brother is a natural born actor and surely we'll see more of him in the days to come. The star though is Raj Kumar Yadav who had delivered one of the best performances of the year. 

Shahid deals with issues that concern all of us,  those who are concerned about any such things, should not miss this film.

(Published in The Navhind Times on 20th Oct. 2013)

Film Review - Escape Plan

Jail Break

Film: Escape Plan
Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarznegger, Jim Cavieziel
Directed by: Mikael Hafstrom
Duration:1hr 54 mins
Rating: * * *

The prospect of seeing two action heroes of the stature of Stallone and Arnie would have been extremely exciting a couple of decades ago, than it is now. But even though they don't hold the same command at the box office and among their fans,  they still generate enough buzz for old times sake.

In Escape Plan directed by Mikael Hafstrom, Stallone gets the major share of the spoils with Arnold playing second fiddle. The former plays a prison break specialist who hired to test the security of prisons. His modus operandi is to get into a prison as a convict and then try to break out.

He accedes to one such assignment from the CIA but it turns out to be a set up,  a maximum security prison in the middle of nowhere. That's where he meets Emil (Schwarznegger) an inmate who becomes his partner in his attempt to escape.

The premises is interesting but it never really hits a high. Their attempts and planning look a bit far fetched and needed some polishing. The finale has a twist but again is not the most convincing one. Relatively,  Expendables was far more fun because it was not so serious.

This is just a time pass film meant for action buffs.

(Published in The Navhind Times on 20th Oct. 2013)

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Film Review - Gravity

                                                        It’s a Masterpiece

Film: Gravity

Cast: Sandra Bullock, George Clooney

Directed by: Alfonso Cuaron

Duration: 1 hr 31 mins

Rating: * * * * *


 It is only once in a blue moon that you get to see a film that uses technology and story telling to such great effect and great is not word one would like to use loosely. Right from the first scene to the absolute last, Gravity keeps you spell-bound and it is a triumph for director Alfonso Cuaron who already has a few impressive films in his C.V.

While for most films, 3D is more of a curse than a boon, Cuaron has used the technology in his favor and the end result is stunning. Not since Avataar, has 3D been put to such good use (Hugo and Life of Pi also deserve a mention).

 For those who don’t know anything about Gravity, it might come as a slight surprise that there are only two characters in the whole film. It opens with one of the most remarkable shots in cinema an 18 minute continuous take up there in space. Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) and Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) are doing some routine maintenance on the Hubble telescope. There is a third astronaut assisting them as well, his name is Sharif and he must be an Indian because he is heard singing Mera joota hain Japani.

“You have to admit one thing; you can’t beat the view” says Matt before all hell breaks loose. The debris from a Russian satellite comes hurling sending them running for cover and resulting in a catastrophic situation. Matt and the lady are left to fend for themselves with very little resources as they hardly get a chance to say Houston we have a problem.
And we know, in space, no matter how loud, no one can hear you scream.

 Even though a large part of the film is about her endeavor, you don’t feel the lack of characters one bit because the space and the vast emptiness more than makes up for human characters. By transforming you up there, you are also in a different zone altogether. 

Technically, the film is a superior effort. Note the shot where the camera comes close to Sandra Bullocks face, goes into the helmet she is wearing and comes out of it seamlessly making you wonder how on earth they managed that.

 From a science point of view, you might find a couple of aberrations but as a film, there are hardly any.

 George Clooney has a relatively small role to play but yet he makes his presence felt. Sandra Bullock already has an Oscar on her mantelpiece but I won’t be surprised if she is nominated for her extraordinary performance here. For trivia buffs, Ed Harris’ voice can be heard from the mission control at Houston.

 Here’s a film strongly recommended to be watched in 3D, don’t miss it.



Film Review - War Chhod Na Yaar

                               War and Piece

Film: War Chhod Na Yaar

Cast: Sharman Joshi, Jaaved Jaffrey

Directed by: Faraz Haider

Duration:2 hrs

Rating: * *

Directed by Faraz Haider, War Chhod na Yaar is a war comedy made with noble intentions. Humor and border tension is not something which is concocted quite often and hence the premise is interesting, but alas, the script doesn’t have a great deal of fire power. Sure, there are some funny scenes but it could have delivered the knock out punch, which it doesn’t.
            Captain Rana (Sharman Joshi) represents the Indian army and Captain Qureshi (Jaaved Jaffery) is from Pakistan. The two share a cordial relationship on the border and even indulge in a game of cards in the middle of the night when no one is watching.
            The Chinese are hand in glove with the Pakistani politicians trying start a spat at the border and the Indian leaders are not far behind. Dalip Tahil has a whale of a time playing an American, Indian, Chinese and Pakistan, all the four roles.
Soha Ali Khan plays a television journalist covering the tension at the border and her character is quite dull to say the least. Also the film oscillates between comedy and then tries to convey messages in a serious fashion which doesn’t quite work well.
Sharman Joshi and especially Jaaved Jaffery liven up the proceedings with their acting. However, I wish the screenplay had more spark though.

Film Review - About Time

                                       A Romantic Time Travel

Film: About Time

Cast: Domhnall Gleeson, Rachel McAdams, Bill Nighy

Directed by: Richard Curtis

Duration: 2 hrs 2 mins

Rating: * * 1 / 2

            Directed by the romcom specialist Richard Curtis (writer of Notting Hill, Love Actually, Four Weddings and a Funeral) About Time is the amalgamation of a story that involves two diverse genres - romance and time travel. Now, its not often you come across a film involving the two, so it grabs your attention immediately. But sadly, the running time is more than 2 hours and the plot goes in a loop when it could have so easily made the same point in 90 minutes.
            A young man Tim (Domhnall Gleeson) learns a family secret from his father (Bill Nighy) that all the men in their family can travel back in time, if and when they wanted to. Tim uses this valuable trait to woo a girl Mary (Rachel McAdams), when things don’t go in his favor the first time, he simple rewinds back and sets them right.
            Gradually their romance blooms, they get hitched and Tim also has a couple of other family matters to take care of.  Now all this takes it own sweet time and in the end, the predictable message of living each day at a time and making the best of it, is delivered.
            I quite enjoyed 3/4th of the film but when it started to elongate you begin to wonder, does it have any more steam left. Unfortunately, there was very little. Like a Richard Curtis script, everything is pretty much sugar coated and there is very little subtlety here as the voice over keeps explaining everything.
            Nevertheless, if you dig romantic films, you might find some enjoyment in this film.

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Film Review - Diana

Candle In the Wind      

Film: Diana

Cast: Naomi Watts, Naveen Andrews

Directed by: Oliver Hirschbiegel

Duration: 1 hr 53 mins

Rating: *  *  *

There has been a lot of negativity surrounding this film and the British press has been very harsh on it. They perhaps have their reasons, after all it is about a person who was close to the public there and everyone had an opinion about her, mostly a sympathetic view. So when you make a film on a figure like the Princess of Wales, it is an uphill task to begin with after all,  there were good, bad and quite a few ugly episodes as well in her life.

But as a film, I thoroughly enjoyed and appreciate this effort by director Oliver Hirschbiegel who gave us Downfall, the unforgettable film on the last days of Hitler. Based on a book by Kate Snell, he is focused on a specific episode in her life, after her split with Prince Charles.

The story is told in flashback after she had separated with her husband but not divorced. Diana (Naomi Watts) was the cynosure of all eyes and had a tough time keeping out of the public glare. That’s when she met Hasnat (Naveen Andrews), a heart surgeon working in London and a romance brewed between them. It was of course not easy for the two of them, she had to keep the affair private and he was also a man who didn’t want to compromise on his principles.

Diana as we know did a lot of good work in all parts of the world, especially in Africa for the landmine victims. The good Samaritan that she was, is highlighted as much as the vulnerable person that she was, who longed to be loved. During a moment of conflict with her lover, he says that he loves her to which she replies that there are billion around the world who love her, what she wants is someone who will stay by her side.

Moments like those, give us a glimpse about a woman who loved and also wanted to be loved.

The dialogues are not particularly sparkling and the romance may seem a bit trite, since there is no concrete evidence of how exactly it unfolded. Her relationship with Dodi Al Fayed also has a certain twist with regards to the doctor, she wanted to make the latter jealous by getting involved with the billionaire.

Her differences with Prince Charles and her skirmishes with the Royal family are completed avoided, but the way the story unfolds but I didn’t miss that. One way to savour this film is to enjoy what is being served rather than look out for what is missing.

Naomi Watts in the lead role has expectedly done good job. Even though you might hear mixed views about the film, I suggest you see it for yourself and decide.

(Published in The Navhind Times on 6th Oct 2013)

Film - Runner Runner

Not worth Betting On

Film: Runner Runner

Cast: Justin Timberlake, Ben Affleck, Gemma Arterton

Directed by: Brad Furman

Duration: 1 hr 31 mins

Rating: * 1 / 2


Two words that would aptly describe this Justin Timberlake, Ben Affleck starrer is dull and lacklustre. In fact it looked like a poor remake of the Mahesh Bhatt production starring Kunal Khemu, Blood Money which in turn was ‘inspired’ by host of other films.  

The biggest crime of any film is to subject the audience to boredom and Runner Runner is guilty of that. 

The basic premise is interesting but all hopes of an exciting film evaporate within ten minutes after it starts. Richie (Justin Timberlake) is a college student who is an expert at online gambling. But like many gamblers, he is broke and doesn’t have enough money to pay his college fees, after he loses all his playing poker on a website. 

He goes all the way to Puerto Rico to meet the owner of the website. Ivan Block (Ben Affleck) turns out to be the shrewd owner who also offers him a job. From being a wiz kid, Richie becomes more of a delivery agent and supervisor and suddenly he discovers that Ivan is into illegal dealings.  The glamor quotient is fulfilled by Gemma Arterton, who is Ivan’s girlfriend and partner in crime. 

Runner Runner is a shoddily written film. The characters are as convincing as onions being sold as Rs.2 a kilo. Even when there are situations where you think something interesting will happen, it takes the dullest possible route. It is surprising how they managed to rope in Affleck and Timberlake for this film. Maybe it was the pay check, it can’t be the story, that’s for sure.

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Film Review - Besharam


                    Shame Shame Paapi Shame

Film: Besharam

Cast: Ranbir Kapoor, Pallavi Sharda, Rishi Kapoor

Directed by: Abhinav Singh Kashyap

Duration: 2 hrs 20 mins

Rating: * 1 / 2

Ranbir Kapoor was on a roll with a string of hits making him one of the most bankable stars at the box office. And then he did Besharam, a film devoid of any imagination or wit. What prompted Ranbir and the remaining Kapoor clan to be a part of this atrocity remains a mystery. I mean, presumably they must have been narrated some ‘story’ before signing this film but then there is no story or a plot at all that is evident here. Perhaps it was a case of a  few lines were scribbled on one of those sticky notes.

There has been this tendency among film makers to ignore important aspects like a decent storyline, after all, if you have a big star in your film then the audiences are more likely to come anyway. But then there is a very fine line between being silly and being ridiculous and this film crosses over to the latter.
So Ranbir plays Babli, a car thief who gives away all his earnings to an orphanage which he is also a part of. With his sidekick (Amitosh Nagpal) he steals cars in the dreariest fashion. A couple of cops (Rishi, Neetu) who also happen to be a couple, try to hunt him down after he outwits them.
He falls in love with Tara (newcomer Pallavi Sharda) who lives in a very modest house but still owns a Mercedes Benz A Class (approx. Rs.24.09 lakhs ex-showroom price) Since he is an uneducated, unsophisticated besharam and she is A class in more ways than one, she gives him as much attention as the government has given to the Lokpal bill. And since a villain is needed to spice things up (in vain though), we have Bheem Singh Chandel (Jaaved Jafferi) who is a hawala kingpin.

The proceedings are so dull that it could put an insomniac to sleep and those who stay awake, have to go through torture. Amusingly, two writers are credited for the ‘story’ even though anyone with half a brain could have done a better job.

Ranbir is also shown stuffing a sock in his crotch to make an impression and that’s not all, in a scene that has nothing to do with the plot, he shows his posterior and you almost get to see the place where the sun don’t ever shine. Not that you want to see it. 
Butt seriously, this is unadulterated lame, lazy and embarrassing writing.

While Ranbir Kapoor sparkles in his role, it is not enough to take the film to safe shores. Neetu and Rishi Kapoor are wasted in insignificant roles, it looks like someone put a gun to their head and made them do this film. Debutant Pallavi Sharda is just about okay and it takes a special director to get absolutely nothing out of Jaaved Jafferi.

Here’s one word to sum it up – avoid.

(Published in The Navhind Times on 4th Oct. 2013)