India Masala

Bollywood and culture in an emerging India

D-Day: Gripping enough

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(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters)

The search for India’s most wanted criminal and a fictitious operation to capture him in Pakistan is a great idea for a Bollywood movie. Filmmaker Nikhil Advani uses this premise in “D-Day” and exploits it to maximum effect.

Advani builds a gripping tale that chronicles a covert operation to bring back Goldman, a fictional mafia don undoubtedly based on Dawood Ibrahim. He lives in Pakistan, masterminds terrorist attacks in India, is protected by the government of the country and speaks to his henchmen in Marathi (The real-life Dawood Ibrahim is from Ratnagiri district in Maharashtra).

Told for the most part through flashbacks, “D-Day” has interesting characters and even though the 153-minute film has its sluggish moments, the plot is intriguing enough to hold the viewer’s attention.

Irrfan plays Wali Khan, a Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) agent based in Pakistan who is posing as a barber in a small town. Khan, along with the mysterious Rudra Pratap Singh (Arjun Rampal) and two other agents (Huma Qureshi and Aakash Dahiya) plot the kidnapping of Goldman (Rishi Kapoor in a flamboyant role) from Pakistan.

Bhaag Milkha Bhaag: The game is over

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Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra‘s biopic of Milkha Singh is one of the few sports movies to come out of the Indian film industry. It is also a perfect example of how not to make a sports biopic, and a telling comment on the compulsion of most filmmakers to “Bollywoodise” what starts off as an unusual subject and premise.

It seems Mehra and writer Prasoon Joshi started off with the noble intention of making a gritty film on India’s most successful athlete, but fell back to their Bollywood ways. They added a bit of romance here, a song there, topped off with over-the-top melodrama, and convinced themselves that this was the heart-wrenching story of a man who fought against all odds to succeed at the international level.

Lootera: This one steals your heart

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(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters)

If there is one thing to be said about Vikramaditya Motwane’s craft, it is that he makes melancholy look beautiful. In his debut film “Udaan”, and now in “Lootera”, the filmmaker depicts angst-ridden and tormented characters and creates the perfect environment for them. The lighting is muted, the setting is an isolated house, the music is haunting and you cannot help but feel as tormented as the characters in the film.

Motwane is undoubtedly one of the few Indian directors who has mastery over the craft of filmmaking. Everything in “Lootera”, the detailing, sound design and pretty much every aspect is picture perfect. From a small village in the Bengali countryside in the first half to the quaint hill station of Dalhousie for the more sombre part of the movie, Motwane chooses his locations well.

Ghanchakkar: Not crazy enough

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(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters)

There is nothing ostensibly wrong with Rajkumar Gupta’s “Ghanchakkar”. The filmmaker builds a story about a bank robber who loses his memory and cannot remember where he stashed the booty from a heist three months ago.

Emraan Hashmi plays Sanjay Atre, a seemingly mild man who is an expert at cracking bank vaults and lives with his garrulous and gaudily dressed wife Neetu (Vidya Balan). In what he decides will be his last crime, he pulls off a 350 million rupee heist with Pandit (Rakesh Sharma) and Idris (Namit Das).

Raanjhanaa: Not the perfect love story

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(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters)

Director Aanand L Rai is a smart man. He plays his trump card right in the beginning and hooks you to his film. He introduces his charming hero with A R Rahman’s “Tum Tak”, a lilting number that plays out in the first few minutes of “Raanjhanaa”. What choice do you have but to hum along in the narrow lanes of Benares, where schoolboy Kundan (Dhanush) falls irrevocably in love with Zoya (Sonam Kapoor).

He pursues her brazenly and when her parents send her elsewhere for higher studies, he promises to wait till she returns. When Zoya returns eight years later, she has forgotten their adolescent romance but he is still pining for her and is ready to do whatever she asks, just to get her to smile.

Fukrey: Friendship and fun

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(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not necessarily of Reuters)

The ‘Delhi film’ has become somewhat of a trend in Bollywood. You have smart dialogue, actors speaking in a Punjabi accent and chase sequences in the bylanes of old Delhi.

Yamla Pagla Deewana 2: Insanity overload

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In Sangeeth Sivan’s “Yamla Pagla Deewana 2″, the bankruptcy of ideas and creativity is so obvious that the director knows he has to resort to another hit film and franchise to try and crack a few lame jokes. So Bobby Deol and Neha Sharma fall in love over their mutual love for Salman Khan and his “Dabangg” films.

The fact that even Salman Khan’s name cannot retrieve this film from the depths of mediocrity should tell you something. Sivan resorts to all forms of toilet humour and slapstick comedy, with characters such as a whisky-drinking chimpanzee and a villain called “Dude”.

Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani: A fun, breezy film

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Deepika Padukone has obviously never gone on a trek before. Why else would she be wearing a mini-skirt and fur boots on the Himalayas? She’s also got perfectly set, blow-dried hair during these treks, and even after a day of playing Holi during the festival of colours, which would render most of us looking like something the cat dragged in, Padukone looks radiant. But that is the world she and other characters in Ayan Mukerji’s “Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani” inhabit.

These are pretty people falling in love, travelling to picturesque locations, having epiphanies while attending expensive destination weddings and following all the clichés Bollywood loves to propagate. And yet, you cannot help smiling as you leave the cinema hall.

from India Insight:

Collaboration key to Bollywood’s global appeal – Irrfan

Irrfan is no stranger to Hollywood. The Indian actor, who uses only his first name, has been part of critically acclaimed films such as "Life of Pi", "The Namesake" and "A Mighty Heart".

The 40-something actor is doing his bit to help Indian films reach more audiences worldwide. Irrfan says he's goading local movie producers to collaborate, find new markets and swap its Bollywood image for a more universal language of cinema.

Ishkq in Paris: Love gone wrong

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Preity Zinta’s comeback Bollywood film features the characteristic Zinta elements her fans have loved over the years. Effervescence and her famous dimples. Both are present in “Ishkq in Paris”, albeit in heightened form. Zinta is a little too bubbly, too jumpy and flashes her dimples far too often for them to be endearing. It’s like enthusiasm on steroids.

To counter her obvious efforts, co-star Rhehan Malliek narrows his eyes each time he is expected to show some emotion.

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