Nautanki Saala! – A Review

Nautanki Saala directed by Rohan Sippy holds a lot of promises with the current next-big-thing Ayushmann Khurana taking on the titular role of the theater actor/director. The movie has all the elements that made Ayushmann’s last movie such a massive success, him in a leading role (that of a Delhi dude), a relative unknown but very pretty co-star (times 3 this time around well) , him lending his vocals to some very good songs.  What could go wrong? Nothing but just a tiny almost insignificant component that set Vicky Donor apart – this movie suffers because there isn’t Juhi Chaturvedi doing the script/screenplay or someone just as competent.

The story starts off with Ayushmann coming across Kunal Roy Kapoor (Mandar Lele) while the latter is trying to commit suicide, being the Good Samaritan that he is Ram Parmar a.k.a RP (Ayushmann) brings Mandar home. This reminded me distinctly of that Zach Galifianakis and Robert Downey Jr. Starrer Due Date. And that comparison does not bode well for any movie.

The cast includes Shulbha Arya as the Grandmother to Mandar and she does her best to ham out the 1 minute that she is on the screen, it includes new comer Pooja Salvi as Mandar’s object of affection and one of the angles of the pentagon ( Chitra-Ram-Nandini-Mandar-Loli) and is the definition of the bimbo. She supposedly is this modern woman who owns her own business and lives in a posh society by herself but goes from loving the looser Mandar to getting ready to get married to the cheat Loli to falling for the ruffian charms of a stray customer who walks in to make a purchase. Gaelyne Mendonca is passable and does not irritate too much. Evelyn Sharma as the Seetha in the Stage show RPis acting and directing is the prettiest of the lots and a part which has barely couple of spoken words does that job effectively. The only character of any merit was Sanjeev Bhatt as Chandra the producer – sure he is ham but then atleast he doesn’t pretend to be anything else and the way he commits to his character enables some genuine funny moments.

Kunal Roy Kapoor is the biggest reason why I found the movie to be almost unbearable. I disliked him in delhi belly and here he does nothing to change my mind. His lethargic loser portrayal of Mandar also suffers because the only glimpse into his psyche or the reason why he is who is a is via Shulbha Arya mouthing “jo kuch nahi kar sakta vo actor hi ban sakta hai”. That one line is supposed to make up for all the strange behavior being displayed by him. He is quickly becoming the Zach Galifianakis for me .

The music is good with Ayushmann delivering another hit. But overall the music is a distraction and hinders the story progression it does make for a good listen on a long drive.

What bothered me the most was the obvious disconnect between the different characters, their motivations for whatever actions they took and the reliance of the script on coincidences.  There was a Ramayan play to be used as subtext and if it was then it was lost on me.  What I did like was the way the movie was shot, the high production values and the elaborate set decoration.

My advice? Skip it – pop in Vicky Donor one more time as it is way more entertaining than this insipid fare. Ayushmann I had higher expectations.

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The Place Beyond the Pines – A Review

With the Place beyond the Pines, Derek Cianfrance reunites with his star from his first movie (Blue Valentine) Ryan Gosling. The movie is an epic tale spanning two generations and had this movie been called Les Misérables it wouldn’t have been off as it is dark gloomy and depressing.

The story starts as Ryan Gosling’s carnival daredevil (aptly named) Handsome Luke walks from the trailer to the tent where he will be performing his motorcycle riding stunts.  Once the stunt is over we are introduced the enchanting Eva Mendes who is almost unrecognizable Romina, the waitress Luke had a one night fling a year ago which resulted in a child which Romina is bringing up with another man. This is the catalyst that compels Luke to mend his nomadic ways and we see the yearning and the longing in his eyes as he wishes to settle down and raise his son which he wasn’t even aware of. We see it in Romina’s eyes also that she longs to be with Luke but her current boyfriend provides her the stability she needs to support her mother and child.

We are also introduced to Robin played to drunken buffoon perfection by Ben Mendelsohn who becomes fast friends with Luke, offers him a place to stay and a job. It is Robin who suggests to Luke that he take to robbing banks to support his child. Luke’s daredevilry comes in handy as he uses his motorcycling abilities to escape with the loot. Luke wants to go big after a few small heists and wants to rob 2 banks one after the other and Robin backs out. This is where Luke runs into the rookie cop Avery played by Bradley Cooper. Giving up what transpires between the two would be to spoil the shock factor of the movie so I won’t but suffice to say that there is a very intense chase sequence which also shows that Cianfrance has an eye for the visual artistry as well.

From here on the plot meanders a bit with and the pacing of the narrative slows down considerably. Things become more miserable for all involved to the point that the beautiful sweeping sunrises and sunsets shot exquisitely by Sean Bobbit seem to be mocking the characters deeply entrenched in their gloom.  The atmosphere becomes so excruciatingly suffocating that you feel the characters hopelessness and despair.

The final act of the film involves the sons of both Avery and Luke and how their paths cross and how they learn how their pasts and paths are interlinked. Dane DeHaan who plays Luke’s teenaged son shows why is being touted as one of the upcoming young actors to watch out for. Ray Liota plays the dirty cop like no one in Hollywood can.

The choice of music is curious and at times jarring and at times oddly amusing especially when Ryan Gosling dancing with a puppy to a Hall and Oats song.  The story co-written by Derek Cianfrance is not the easiest story to sit through, there is a lot of sorry and tragedy and at times the narrative seems to wander around aimlessly. Till the final 10 minutes of the movie I was beginning to get frustrated as I couldn’t see a way how Cianfrance would take this story to any conclusion let alone one that I could consider as a “happy ending”.  But he does manage to pull everything together to some extent and finish on what could possibly be deemed as a happier ending than any of the scenarios I saw the movie heading towards.

It is a hard movie to recommend but I find it just as hard to ask people to stay away from it . Derek Cianfrance is a director to watch out for, Eva Mendes is the best she’s been and Bradley Cooper is solid as the rookie cop. Ryan Gosling has had my attention front and center since Lars and the real girl and is one actor I’d watch in absolutely anything (Crazy Stupid Love!!!).  Watch this movie but brace yourself to being pulled into the character’s tragedy.

Chashme Baddoor – A Reivew

Fiurst-Look-Poster-Chashme-BaddoorDavid Dhawan the maker of all the No.1s with Govinda returns to Bollywood after a long hiatus with his attempt at remaking the classic Chashme Baddoor and it appears the laziness in the remake isn’t limited to the unoriginal title.

Not having seen the original which everyone who I spoke to remembers fondly I went in as a blank slate ready to be transported to the typically David Dhawanian utopia where pelvic thrusts are a professional qualification second to none. In that aspect I wasn’t disappointed there are pelvic thrusts and then some and most of them come courtesy Siddharth who plays the wannabe actor Jai

Pelvic thrusts aside there is very little that is reminiscent of the David Dhawan of the past. Dhawan specializes in mass-appeal, loud, self-deprecating humor that is at times annoying but mostly enjoyable fare with not a lot of grey-cell workout required.

The three friends are played by Ali Zafar, Siddharth, and Divyendu Sharma and object of their affection is played by newcomer Tapsee Pannu. Ali Zafar who ruined a perfectly enjoyable “Mere Brother Ki Dulhan” is relentless in his endeavor of ruining another movie here. For someone as good looking and talented (in my books if you can sing you are talented) he is wooden and unlikeable in every shape and form as Sid. He tries to channel everyone from shah rukh khan to dev anand and the end result is less than successful. Divyendu who shot to fame with his angst-ridden Nishant in Pyaar ka Panchnama is equally annoying as the shayaari spewing Omi. Neither of his 50000000 Shayaaris is funny. The southern superstar Siddharth who garnered favorable reviews in Rang De Basanti manages to expunge the last of the carried forward good-will with this role. New-comer Tapsee is thinned down version of Zarine Khan in both size and talent and that is saying something for Tapsee’s talent as Zarine is practically size-zero in the talent department. Everything is loud and crass and thoughtless.

Why does Anupam Kher do movies like these? There are surely better things that are offered to him as the premiere character actor of Bollywood but for every Wednesday he does another 50 Chashme Baddoor. Here in a double role which serves no purpose he is doubly wasted. The only bit of charm and genuine warmth to be sought comes from Rishi Kapoor and Lillette Dubey as the past-prime singletons they are charming in the limited time they spend on screen but again it begs the question what purpose do these characters serve other than the mandatory Chamko reference which also seems as out of place as the hair-do on Zafar’s head during the final song.

Speaking of the music – it is mostly unintelligent noise which assaults your eardrums with the power of a super-sonic jet. The editing is non-existent and the entire movie seems like a giant puzzle which a 2 year old put together trying to force pieces where they don’t belong. Continuity is left in the cold storage on the same shelf as coherence and consciousness – sample this – in each of the flashbacks – the girl’s clothes don’t change but the guys are all wearing different outfits, as the forlorn lover when Zafar walks in with a bottle of alcohol it is clearly a screw-top bottle but when they pop it its magically turned into a bottle of champagne.

The anti-Tobacco PSA which played at the starting of the movie and during the intermission were more enjoyable than the entire movie and that is the final insult I can hurl at this waste of time and money.