Fukrey – A Review

Mrigdeep Singh Lamba directs a cast of relative unknowns in Fukrey.  The story focuses primarily on Honey and Choocha played admirably by TV’s Pulkit Samrath and Varun Sharma and their hilarious dream interpretation schemes at winning lottery tickets.  Ali Fazal and Manjot Singh round out the quartet of lovable losers.

The story is based in Delhi and the characters are caricature delhites with loud and brash demeanor yet an inimitable lovable persona. Honey and Choocha are class 12 students having spent 3 years in the same year while dreaming of making it to the college and leaving the uniforms and the all-male classmates and hanging with the girls.

The movie is everything Delhi Belly wanted to be but couldn’t be. Honey with his bravado and Choocha with his insanity are the perfect foil for each other. Pulkit Samrath who shows promises in the same vein as Aayushmann Khuranna is the rough around the edges but still charm personified . Varun Sharma who makes his debut with this movie elicits the loudest laughs and if you were in the show with me I apologies for my fits of giggles courtesy Sharma. Manjot Singh as the correspondence student dreaming of joining his childhood sweetheart at her college is also amazing as Laali. Ali Fazal plays Zafar the budding musician who has  lost his muse, Fazal impressed me the most as he has been entrusted with the movie’s only emotionally heavy moment and he carries it off with such ease and élan that I hope he gets more challenging role which allow him to show a range which he obviously possesses.

Another comparison where Fukrey does Delhi Belly one better is with its portrayal of its female characters. Vishakha Singh plays Neetu a college professor and has the smallest of the roles of the other actors but is still quite competent. Priya Anand who impressed with her turn in English Vinglish is again in top form going a full 180 and playing the naïve Delhi damsel who willingly falls for the charms of Honey and unwittingly becomes embroiled in the madness that ensues. Richa Chaddha plays Bholi Punjaban and is perhaps the best of the cast along with Sharma. She with her animal print clothing which are supposed to reflect her ferocity and the fear she instills in people who come across her, she with her African henchmen , she with her broken English, she with her Sinderalla tattoo to remind the viewers of her girlish charms as well. The scenes with her and Sharma are so amazing that I am willing to sit through a 3 hour movie starring just these two fantastic characters! A special mention also to Pankaj Tripathi who plays Pandit the college guard who brings these four Fukras together and lands them Bholi Punjaban’s lap.

The movie is shot beautifully capturing the earthy hues of old Delhi by K U Mohan after his beautiful work on Talaash last year. The dialogues fresh and crisp and not reliant on toilet humor to elicit laughs.  Music by Ram Sampath is fantastic for that Punjabi folk song Ambarsariya alone and does well to provide other tracks which work well in the context of the movie.

We went into the movie with absolutely no expectations of it being great or even consistently entertaining and we were surprised to say the least. I cannot remember when I last laughed out this loudly in a theatre and when I walked away from the theatre with such a grin on my face.

Go see this movie because in all honesty it is the best comedy this year (so far) and in my opinion one of the best comedies in the last few years. Go see it for Choocha and Bholi’s chemistry and the madness that ensues. Go see it because everyone needs to lighten up and have a roaring belly laugh!

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Before Sunset – A Review

 Richard Linklater, Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy reunite in Paris in Before Sunset (2004) after going their separate ways in 1994 in Vienna. Jesse is a published Author, Celine is an environmental activist and they haven’t seen each other for 9 years after that one night in Vienna.

The movie opens with Jesse sitting in the famed Shakespeare and Company bookstore in Paris for a book signing and interview with Parisian reporters about his book which is based on the one night he spent with Celine walking the streets of Vienna and talking about everything under the sun.  Celine walks in and they are back where they left off.

Wandering the streets of Paris, catching up on the time that has passed, 9 years is a lot to catch up on.  But before they do that they have to get the question of if either of them made it to Vienna as they had promised 6 months after they last saw each other 9 years ago or not. I won’t spoil it for those who haven’t seen the movie but that is one of the most tender moments in the movie that is devoid of any hijinks or drama and just another conversation that needs to be had.

Each of them has lived a life in the past 9 years that has changed who they were 9 years ago. But once again when they meet there is no grudges or regrets or resentment, it’s like it is 6 months after Vienna. But then slowly as the movie progresses you can see the regrets start showing, regrets about how different the life would’ve been had they met again in Vienna as promised and fallen in love and lived a life together the past 9 years. Resentment about the fact that one of them idealized the night to the point of perfection that nothing since then has been able to live up to that moment.

Hawke and Delpy collaborated with Linklater on the screenplay and the effect is evident , the conversations do not feel forced, it feels organic and also a little voyeuristic , like you are snooping in on a couple having a private conversation, a conversation that is not meant to be overheard.

The heady romanticism of youth in the early 20s is replaced with the longing for a different life of the 30s; the conversations are darker, yet honest. The dreams that they had in their 20s seem a little silly now while still a lot better than the mere existential lives of today.  I cannot go into more details without revealing the plot a little bit but suffice to say that there is also a sense of things coming unraveled in the personal lives of these two people who we fell in love with in Vienna and cannot bare to see them unhappy. But while they may be unhappy they do it with a shrug of the shoulders and a sad smile that seems to say “Well that’s life! What can you do?”

Like Sunrise, Sunset also ends on ambiguity, each having confessed to the lack of romance in their personal lives end up at Celine’s apartment where she plays him a song she wrote about him. Then they relive the record store moment from Vienna by putting in a CD of the same artist they were listening to in that listening booth. Celine then does an impression of Nina Simone at concert and you laugh, you laugh like Jesse does, you feel like Jesse does, you want them to be together, they are meant to be. But then Celine admonishes that Jesse will miss his flight and then credits roll. Leaving you another 9 years’ worth of second guessing, did he miss his flight? Did he get on the flight never to return again?

What Linklater has achieved is phenomenal, I couldn’t believe he could top Before Sunrise but here is does. The relationship between Jesse and Celine has grown and matured as have the characters. Yet they still possess that magic of conversation which can tide over 9 years of not having seen each other.

Like I mentioned in the comments on the Before Sunrise review, I finally got around to watching these movies because I want to watch Before Midnight comes out this year, after a gap of 9 year and you want to see where the journey has led them. 

 

Before Sunrise (1994) – A Review

 Richard Linklater directed Ethan Hawke and July Delpy in the 1994 Before Sunrise. Ethan Hawke plays Jesse an American returning from Madrid after breaking up with his long-distance girlfriend and Delpy plays Celine returning from Budapest after visiting her grandmother. Total strangers these two end up sitting next to each other when another couple starts arguing loudly in the train. What ensues from there is a romance like no other.

There are no grand gestures or drama, just two young people in their 20s walking about in Vienna talking about everything under the sun. You are with them as they talk about their respective childhood and then about growing up and what their idea of growing up would be like. What they want to do with their lives and their dreams.

They have only 1 night in Vienna and they both agree that they are not going to exchange numbers and addresses to make it a long drawn out thing. Instead they want to live in the moment and take everything in. you can see a definite bond developing between the two as they each open up about things one does not generally discuss with someone they are trying to charm or impress. These are just two lost souls on an adventure.

Ethan Hawke is the very American Jesse and July Delpy the very French Celine, the conversation between the two is the idealized version of romance without the ribbons and roses , it is simply a wonderful conversation between these two , their views on Mortality, Morality, religion, love, family and many more.

My favorite moment from the movie is the one in the restaurant where they each pretend to have a phone conversation with their respective friends. It’s warm, tender and genuine at the same time it is funny.

It is very hard to explain the sense of contentment I felt watching these two characters just talk it was like someone was having a conversation I wanted to have with no holds barred no topic taboo no embarrassment and no judgment. Just a sense of belonging with a stranger who grows more familiar as the time passes.

What Linklater did here is incredible, just 2 people in one of the most beautiful cities in the world but it is not about the city and its sprawling palaces and architecture and rivers and canals as it is about these two people experiencing it, how each place sparks a conversation, which in insolation means very little other than random thoughts but when pulled together it forms this wonderful tapestry of lives that they have lived and hope to live in the future.

I kept hearing about these two movies for the longest time but never got around to seeing them. And now that I am going through a phase in my life ( that’s a story for another blog) where I meet these strangers and all I can care about is their ability to have a conversation and having seen this movie I wanna take that train from Madrid to Paris and meet my Céline and spent a day in Vienna! I think this movie has quickly climbed the top spot of best romantic movie of all time for me.

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The movie ends with Jesse and Celine promising to meet again in Vienna, leaving you with questions about will they meet?  What if they don’t meet? Or if we really want them to meet? Because this one day was so unpredictable and so unconventional that all that can happen if they meet and become lovers is that they will grow apart slowly and that is not the romance I want for these two amazing individuals.

Man Of Steel – A Review

The worlds of Krypton and Earth collide in Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel. Henry Cavill dons the red cape in a story by Christopher Nolan and David S Goyer which sees the origins of Kal-El Aka Clark Kent aka Superman. Amy Adams plays Lois Lane Kevin Costner and Diane Lane play Kent’s earth parents and Russell Crowe plays Jor-El Kal’s Kryptonian father. Michael Shannon plays General Zod Krypton’s military general who stages a coup before Kal is sent packing to Earth.

After Christopher Nolan’s ground breaking Dark Knight Trilogy the landscape for Comic book adaptations has been forever changed and the audiences have come to expect a certain level of sophistication that goes beyond mere set pieces and action sequences.  And despite Nolan getting story credit and being the executive producer on this the movie is entirely Snyder’s, the Nolan influences that were apparent in the initial trailers are few and far between. The opening sequence plays straight out of Snyder’s Sucker Punch visually speaking.

The story is told in flashbacks letting on important pieces of Clark Kent’s past as he grows from a scared child to a confused young boy to a formidable young man who eventually fills out the blue suit quite nicely. Henry Cavill was my absolute favorite character in The Tudors and here is a vast improvement on the Man of Steel as portrayed by Brandon Routh. In his steely appearance you are assured that we have a superman worthy of the title, I only wish the character was given a little more humor and dialogues that did not felt they came out a Michael Bay movie.

Michael Shannon, who plays general Zod, plays it Mean. He gets the most dialogue of any characters and after a point you just want him to shut up. The angry sneer and the shrill rhetoric are beyond annoying and grate on your nerves. Instead Antje Traue who plays Faora-Ul is a much more menacing villain than Zod could ever hope to be.

The movie is not all bad; there are some quite moments where skyscrapers are not exploding that is where you can see that this could’ve been such a good movie. The flashbacks with Costner are wonderfully intimate and feel like they belong in a Nolan movie. The music when not accompanied by the sounds of explosion is signature Zimmer and isn’t as derivative as his work on TDKR was.  Amir Mokri’s work on that one scene where Kent is underwater after the Oil-Rig event is brilliant.

Snyder who ruined watchmen for me (I know of people who disagree and MoS will be my final argument) is at his Michael Bay-best with references to Independence Day and Transformers. I was told that the problem was the story but on the contrary the story is not so bad, it is the execution of it where Snyder makes a mess of it. There are so many references that any original element is completely forgotten.  There are references to the Independence Day, Transformers, The Avengers, Thor, The Day After Tomorrow and all of it does nothing to enhance the viewing experience. The final sequence feels like an unending assault on your senses and your intelligence. The fight sequences keep going on for what feels like 20 minutes too long. What also is extremely irritating is the silly glorification of the American Armed forces which just feels out of place and takes away from the focus which should be on Superman and Zod. Snyder seemed preoccupied with IHOP and Sears placements than any focus on storytelling.

The story telling in the second half of the movie felt like it was bereft of any sense and the only explanation I can find is that Nolan left Snyder the reins to continue to focus on the story for Interstellar. Watch this movie if the only thing you care about is endless explosions and yet another destruction of New York by an alien race. Watch it at your own risk because it might say Nolan on the playbill but there is nothing Nolan-esque here.

The Art of The Steal (documentary) – A Review

Extra Large Movie Poster Image for The Art of the StealHow can a documentary be so engaging that you watch it over and over and over. That’s right a documentary that I have seen not just once or twice but three times. The Art of Steal by Don Argott plays like a debriefing of a major heist. Interspersed with interviews from people who knew Dr. Albert Barnes personally or were associated with the “friends of the Barnes foundation” and also newspaper clippings and interviews with people who are essentially the bad-guys in this movie.

If it is a heist movie then there has to be a priceless treasure at the heart of it. And here we are talking of a private collection of post-impressionist and modern art which is conservatively estimated at 25-35 billion and might even touch a 100 billion mark if art like that was ever to hit the market. It consists the who’s who of the greatest artists including Van Gogh, Degas, Matisse, Renoirs, Cezanne’s, Picassos, Monet’s and Manets. Art that is not just staggering in terms of quantity but also in terms of the quality in that it includes some of the best example of the artist’s work, for instance it includes Cezanne’s Card players featuring 5 subjects as opposed to the Cezanne’s Card Player which is currently the most expensive painting at 259-300 million featuring 2 subjects.

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The documentary does not try to strike a balance in terms of portraying both sides of the story. It is an out and out vilification of the people who disregarded Dr. Barnes wishes and moved the collection out of its original house.  But I don’t have a problem with that. Imagine if you will that you are a very rich and successful chemist who has developed an antiseptic drug Argyrol to treat gonorrhea and made a fortune from selling your company in your 30s. you then go on to study art and actively collect artists who are not that famous yet and also picking up famous post-impressionist masterpieces before those names became being taken in the same breath as Da Vinci and other masters. Imagine that you lovingly put your art on display not in the setting of a museum but more like how it would in a home, putting pictures together because of their visual style rather than just the artist’s name. Imagine that you explicitly put it in your will that the art is to be forever displayed in the same way to students who want to learn from the masters. Imagine that after you died greedy rich fat-cats want to lay their dirty hands on your priceless treasure to rip it off the walls you so lovingly adorned to be displayed in the stark soulless confines of museums which will also play hosts to the same rich fat-cats’ dinner galas. I’d be pretty darn pissed would you? So what if I was a nutcase and didn’t like the society folks of Philadelphia? It is still my art and my wish and my will which has been violated. There can simply be no justification. The argument that had it not been done the public would have been deprived of the art is ridiculous and blasted to smithereens by the fact that Dr Barnes always allowed a limited number of visitors to come in to view the display and spend as much time as they wished.

Some of the interviewees who speak so passionately about the power of the art and eye with which Barnes put the collection together you are moved yourself. This is a fascinating documentary which covers nearly all the aspects of the decades long legal struggle of trying to return the Barnes collection to its original home in Lower Merion Pennsylvania.

If you’ve never seen any documentary then might I recommend you start with this one? While some documentary subject matters are very hard to palate this plays out more like a thriller. This is an exciting and fascinating look at an art theft which is perhaps second only to what Hitler perpetrated at the beginning of the Second World War.

As a side note, on my recent visit to USA , I was thrilled to bits to be visiting Philadelphia and wanted to watch the Barnes collection at the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, as much as I hated the people who put the collection there I wanted to see in person the art that was at the center of the entire debate, but turns out the only wish of Dr. Barnes that they have adhered to is to limit the number of visitors and I was not allowed inside despite several requests and pleas that I had a flight to catch back to India the next day.

Behind The Candelabra – A Review

Steven Soderberg directs Michael Douglas and Matt Damon in the Liberace biopic “Behind the Candelabra” in a movie reportedly too “gay” for the studios and the only way it could be made and released was by the premiere cable channel HBO.  Also reportedly Behind the Candelabra is Soderberg’s last film as he is taking a retirement.

Liberace was such a massive figure that his name has become an adjective to anything that is glossy glitzy and adorned with Rhinestones because he loved his excesses and lived life as European royalty with all his jewelry, his Art Nouveau palatial residence and his fur coats. He was also gay before it became acceptable for iconic entertainers to be openly gay, so his manager reportedly spent millions letting his adorning female fans know that he was very much straight and waiting for the right girl.

The story kicks off with a 17 year  old Scott Thorson played by Matt Damon being picked up at a gay bar by Bob who takes him to a Liberace performance and then backstage to meet Liberace himself. Liberace instantly takes a shine to the soft spoken star-struck Scott and invites him over for brunch the following day.   What ensues is a 6 year long relationship where Liberace takes in Scott and tries to mold him in his image what with the garish jewelry, the furs and plastic surgery. Scott who’s had a tumultuous childhood is so taken by the new lifestyle that he goes along with all of it to disastrous consequences.

As actors Michael Douglas is Liberace – his soft spoken, delicate mannerism the showmanship the extravagance it’s all very Liberace. Matt Damon is a fantastic actor and he does full justice to the role of Scott Thorson first as the wild eyed teenager and then as the jilted lover, the physical transformation of Damon is striking. The long conversations between Damon and Douglas as they develop their relationship are the core of the film and you feel like you know both Liberace and Thorson through these actors. Rob Lowe as the plastic surgeon who give Liberace his facelift and put Thorson on the “California Diet” at Liberace’s behest is almost unrecognizable but brilliant. The effects of plastic surgery on Lowe and the way it affects his mannerism is at once revolting and at the same time brilliantly funny.

The movie has that quintessential “Soderberg look” the muted colors the absolute absence of background score. I’d heard a lot about the buzz around this movie and to an extent it lived up to it. Michael Douglas and Matt Damon are brilliant in their roles, but the pacing of the story and the overly simplistic nature of the story was a little lacking. Soderberg claims that the reason why Hollywood studios rejected the movie was because it was too gay , while that may be have been part of the problem I think the inherent TV-movie kind of pacing and lack of real talking points in the movie might have contributed to it being released on the Cable network rather than in the theatres .

There is genuine warmth to the way Douglas plays Liberace and the final scene is beautifully written. Watch it for because at least Soderberg keeps pushing the envelope and trying to make movies that are a little left of the center.

We Steal Secrets The Story of Wiki Leaks

What does a cross dressing US soldier, Lady gaga, the Arab Springs and a sexual assault charge have in common? They form part of the narrative of the Alex Gibney documentary “We Steal Secrets the Wikileaks story”.

The documentary tries to explore both sides of the persona of Julian Assange – a Man who in 2010 was touted to be named the “Person of the year” only to be replaced by Mark Zuckerberg head of Facebook a social media giant accused of complicity in helping the US government to spy on its own people.

There are essentially two focal points to the documentary, the rise and fall of Julian Assange-the weird white haired Australian and the story of Bradley Manning a soldier with the American army who leaked classified documents on the Afghan and Iraq “war on terror” which brought to light the actual number of casualties of the war as opposed to the severely underreported “official” numbers.

Wikileaks hit the headlines when they released evidence of wrong doings against Icelandic banks which triggered the 2008 financial meltdown. Then it gained primetime coverage when they released a video of the US army apache helicopter attack on Reuters reporters in Afghanistan. With the spotlight firmly focused on Wikileaks the rockstar-ish almost meteoric rise to fame of the editor of Wikileaks Julian Assange and the consequent downfall following the sexual assault charges forms a larger part of the focus than the real tragic hero Bradley Manning.

The story is interspersed with the chat conversation transcript that Bradley Manning had while coming to grips with his gender identity disorder and the fact that with his access to the US security database he had incriminating evidence which implicated the US government of serious wrong doings. There are accounts of those closest to Manning and somehow it paints a picture of a naïve sexually confused man rather than that of a young man who had access to the holy grail and  through an act of conscious laid bare the biggest expose on the classified secrets in the history of mankind.

Alex Gibney is the Oscar winning director of the 2007 documentary which exposed the torture techniques employed by Bush-Cheney as part of the war on terror. There have been scathing attacks on both the movie and Gibney as being an agitprop for the US secret services to malign the names of both Assange and Manning. While I don’t completely agree with that stance I do believe that Gibney’s narrative confuses the message he seems to be trying to deliver. Gibney does well to give equal time to champion the cause of the initial Wikileaks’ expose and then to the on-going legal troubles that assail Assange. He also does well to highlight the hypocrisy of the US government in isolating Assange in the vilification as “enemy of the state” and leaving UK’s The Guardian and the New York Times out of the equation. But the last third of the movie where he focuses more on the rape-charges and Assange’s growing paranoia and in my opinion and understandable accusation that the charges are nothing more than a “honey-trap” is where Gibney crosses over to the dark side and muddles the balanced portrayal of the first 2/3rd of the movie.  Manning at this point is only an after-thought.

Some think of Assange as this modern-day revolutionary who by promoting free speech will bring about a paradigm shift in the world democracy, while others are just as willing to vilify him as a paranoid deviant personality who leaked confidential documents which could hypothetically damage US national security. The documentary tries its hand at exploring both the possibilities. The conclusion about Assange will depend not so much on the documentary but rather on your own political inclinations. But there should be no such conundrum about Bradley Manning who had more courage than we can ever imagine possessing.

 

Now You See Me – A Review

Louis Leterrier directed Now You See Me brings together the worlds of magic and high stakes heist. Starring Jesse Eisenberg the illusionist, Isla Fisher the escape artist, Woody Harrelson the Hypnotist and Dave Franco as the small type pick-pocket cum lock opener are summoned together by a mysterious benefactor to come together as a headlining act “The Four Horsemen”. What ensues is high voltage magic trick which has you involved from the very beginning and will have you guessing till the very last minute.

The story kicks off as the four horsemen are headlining a Las Vegas show and invite an audience member to participate in the act and teleport him to rob a bank. The way this is accomplished is spectacular and it drew an audible gasp from the audience. The foursome are chatty, witty and absolutely engrossing and that is what draws the audience in, you as an audience feel involved in the magic trick. The subsequent 2 tricks only get successively better and more unpredictable and therein lies the strongest moments of the film.

Of the cast Eisenberg is his Social-network chatty best with cocky arrogance and nerdy charm. Isla Fisher again continues to impress with her enthusiasm and eager portrayal of the magician’s assistance turned into an escapists act. Woody Harrelson is witty and funny and has some of the best lines in the movie. Dave Franco is competent and shows signs of the talent that obviously runs in the Franco family. Morgan Freeman plays Thaddeus Bradley a former magician who now debunks the magic tricks by exposing the magicians and how they performed the trick. He also plays the FBI-consultant when Mark Ruffalo and Melanie Laurent come up short trying to apprehend the magicians. Michael Caine rounds out the cast as Arthur Tresler the Insurance magnet who plays benefactor to the Four Horsemen Act.

Where the movie comes up short is when towards the end it tries to tie up loose ends and in doing so does a rush job of revealing who’s who and why so. It could have been handled so much better. Rather than the reveal of the identities happening in the conversation between 2 characters it would have best suited as a conversation that happens at the very end. Melanie Laurent is absolutely breathtakingly beautiful but is left with an unresolved character, the myth of the eye of Horus which plays such an important role in the overall story is blurted out without context and left hanging there with nothing to move it further and then just as summarily dismissed without much thought.

In hands of a better director and with perhaps a little more attention to the screenplay this could have been truly a fantastic movie instead of just ending up as a pop-corn fare. But make no mistake the time you spend watching this movie will be time spent being entertained and that is purely because of the fantastic star cast and some very witty writing.

While certainly no Prestige or Illusionist Now You See Me is a perfectly entertaining Magic-Heist movie that will not leave you bored for even one second. Watch it for the fantastic chemistry between the four lead magicians and some spectacular effects which truly bring alive the Magic and brings you in closer.

Celebrating 100 years of Indian Cinema : A Quiz

Recently I hosted a quiz based on Bollywood at office and judging from the response I’d deem it to be quite successful. The quiz featured 4 rounds.

The “First” round:

This round featured a number of questions based on the many firsts of Bollywood. There were 3 questions per team with 2 questions without options (the relatively easy ones) which would earn the teams 5 points per right answer. 1 question which was relatively less easy would earn the teams 10 points if answered without options, or 5 points if answered after hearing the options.

My Two Senses:

A video clip would be played, which would have a different audio than the original. The teams will be awarded points as follows

10 points for guessing the song from the video

10 points for guessing an actor/actress from the audio

10 points each for the name of the movie of the audio and the video

Here are the videos I put together by merging an older video and a relatively newer song to a curious and hilarious effect. Have a look – each clip is approx. 2 mins long and let me know what you think of it.

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Clip 2:

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Clip 8:

Teesri Manzil:

A pair of actor/actress will be given, the teams must answer 3 movies starring them together, 10 points for each right movie, a bonus 10 points for a 4th movie.

Four degrees of separation:

A,B, C, D, E are all people, clues are provided for each and the teams have to guess all A through E ( 10 points each) and there is a question at the end which relates A & E together and an additional 10 point for that.

Eg:

A is known as the king of Bollywood, also ranked by BBC as the most famous actor in the world (2011)

B has acted with A in what is arguably the longest running Bollywood movie in a theatre

C is married to B and is a Bollywood actor and the son of a famous action choreographer

D starred opposite C in the 2012 which featured the very poetic song “po po po po “

E was credited with Launching D’s career in Bollywood with the very fearless movie which was also credited to increasing the sales of a certain pain ointment.

Name the first time A & E starred together not just once but twice over!

Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani – A Review

Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani(YJHD) is Ayan Mukherjee’s sophomore attempt at telling a new millennia coming of age story with Ranbir Kapoor, Deepika Padukone, Aditya Roy Kapur and Kalki Koechlin. Ayan Mukherjee grabbed all the right headlines with his rooted in reality Wake Up Sid(WuS) which also acted as the first real Ranbir Kapoor launchpad.

Unlike WuS, YJHD suffers from what I’d assume is the Johar effect of fake accents, loud Manish Malhotra couture and outlandish wedding celebrations. I want to get the bad parts out of the way first so that I can then talk of the movie’s redeeming factor. Considering that UTV is the production house under whose banner this movie is distributed the roy-kapur nepotism threatens to derail the story with a drunk Aditya Roy-Kapur ( once again) and a bumbling buffoon Kunal Roy-Kapur ( once again). The introduction of the Evelyn Sharma to the movie serves no purpose and is about as subtle as nails on a chalkboard.

 With that out of the way I want to dedicate the rest of the review to the biggest revelation of the movie – Deepika Padukone’s Naina who goes from geek to chic with such casual ease and confident demeanor that it is a breath of fresh air. Not once did I find anything to fault her for. She essentially carries the entire movie on her shoulders and once again it goes to show that no matter how much Ayan Mukherjee says he wrote the movie with Ranbir in mind it is quite clear that Ayan Mukherjee writes her leading ladies as strong level headed rooted in reality. She is essentially the heart of the movie and she melts yours with her dimpled reluctant smiles. Even in her limited role Kalki Koechlin is effective and again proves why she leaves a lasting impression in the itsy bitsy roles.

Ranbir who is charisma personified struggles with Kabir and is not as natural with the role as he was with Sid. In order to portray the carefree, adrenaline-chasing thrill-seeking travel enthusiast he often comes off as rather cocky and at times insensitive. He does manage to reel in the cocky arrogance and exudes that legendary Kapoor charm and manages to salvage the movie in the second half.

The other saving grace of the movie is the combination of what is arguably the best music album of year courtesy Pritam and some of the most breathtaking visuals captured through the lenses of Manikandan, the sweeping panoramas of Himalayas, the dazzling lights of Paris and the scenic sunsets of Udaipur has not been better served on the Indian screens.

Watch this movie because despite its pitfalls this is a beautifully told story of friendship, love, powered by one hell of a soundtrack Watch it because even if Ranbir is slightly off his game he is still better than all his peers and seniors by a clear mile. Watch it for an acting turn by Deepika that is an even bigger delight than the return to the big screen of the dancing diva Madhuri Dixit