India Masala

Guzaarish: Slow death

November 19, 2010
Guzaarish: Prepare to die At one point in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s “Guzaarish”, the protagonist of the film, Ethan Fernandes, sings “it’s a wonderful world” while his mother is being buried. It’s a poignant moment, one where you feel the pain of the man. It’s also one of the very few genuine moments you will find in the film. Everything else, like Aishwarya’s Rai make-up in the film, seems fake and loud, and as a result, puts you off. The emotions, the set design, the dialogues, Hrithik Roshan’s beard are all out of this world, residing in some alien world that only Bhansali inhabits. I’m from Goa (where the film is set) and I can assure you, I don’t know of too many Goan women who wear Victorian skirts, have elaborate hairdo’s and bright lipstick, all the while nursing a paraplegic man. Actually, I don’t if women anywhere do that. The said paraplegic man is played by Hrithik Roshan, a former magician, who after a magic trick gone wrong, is paralysed from neck down and confined to a wheelchair for the last twelve years, we are told. He seems unfazed by his plight though, hosting a radio show from his run-down mansion, with the help of his loyal nurse Sofia (Aishwarya Rai, wearing said Victorian skirts and lipstick), who, when she is not helping him brush his teeth, is primly embroidering sheets. One minute he is telling listeners to live life to the fullest and the next, he asks his lawyer friend (Shernaz Patel) to file a euthanasia (or as he calls is Ethanasia) petition in the court, asking for permission to die. The rest of the film chronicles his efforts in this direction. It is also peppered with more characters that seem out of the world, including a young man keen to learn magic and talk as loudly as he can (Aditya Roy Kapoor), Ethan’s doctor, Dr Nayak (Suhel Seth), and Ehtan’s mother, who says she cares for her son very much, but lives far away from him, never calling or visiting. The problem with all of this is that it seems designed to get your sympathy. The fly on Ethan’s nose, him getting drenched because of a leaking roof, the death of his mother, the accident, all of it seems too melodramatic, too put on. It’s almost as if Bhansali is determined to extract every little tear hidden in yours eyes. The only one’s he managed to extract out of mine was when I was laughing at the sight of Suhel Seth jumping into Ethan’s bed to hug him. You are never told the reason why Ethan decides to die after twelve years of living life as a paraplegic. What triggered the decision? The climax gives us no answers, instead we are subjected to a long “thank you” speech, which is boring to say the least. In a film with over-the-top performances (watch Patel have a row with Rai, all the while nibbling a slice of bread and some tea and you will know what I mean), Hrithik Roshan is the saving grace. He bring a trace of sanity to Ethan’s sometimes crazy behaviour, and uses his face to convey his emotions so well that you are almost willing to forgive him the crazy laughter and the Jesus-like appearance. He is the only reason to watch this film. guzaarish

Action Replayy: The past ain’t pretty

November 5, 2010

action replayyIt’s easy to romanticise the past, isn’t it? Easy to think back to the time when bell bottoms and “arranged” marriages were the norm and tell ourselves it was a much better time. The past has that intangible quality of making us all look a little better, even to ourselves. Perhaps that is why Bollywood is going back to the past so much nowadays, making films about every period but the present.

Robot is a critic-proof film

October 1, 2010
I could write a regular review of the Rajnikanth-starrer “Robot” as I do almost every week. I could give you the story outline and list out the positives and negatives, talk about the performances. But that would make no difference because most people are going to watch this film anyway. And no matter how absurd the storyline might be, you cannot escape the sheer star power of Rajnikanth. He makes even the most ridiculous scenes and plot lines look entirely stylish and believable. So, in a departure from the usual drill, here are some thoughts on “Robot” rather than a regular review - First, the story in brief. Rajnikanth plays three roles in the film. That of a scientist who creates a humanoid robot, the robot itself who “falls in love” with the scientist’s girlfriend (Aishwarya Rai) and finally the “bad robot” who is out to destroy everything. That is pretty much all there is to the story. - The action, special effects and animatronics in “Robot” are perhaps some of the best we’ve seen on the Indian screen. The climax sequence, though long drawn out, is especially impressive and you can understand why this movie cost the amount that it did. - Rajnikanth seems ageless. You wouldn’t believe he is more than 60 years old from the way he jumps, dances and talks. Of course, it is also the result of some good make-up and special effects but I think I understand where all those Rajnikanth jokes come from. - Aishwarya Rai looked more like the “Robot” than Rajnikanth did. Her expressions were entirely artificial and so were some of her costumes in the dance sequences. Also, this is the shallowest role she has done in a long time — she has nothing to do but kiss Rajni (on the cheek, mind you, this is a family film) and look good. And she doesn’t even manage to do that most of the time. - The film is too long. Yes, I know it would have meant a little less Rajni but did we really have to witness a five-minute long conversation with him and a swarm of mosquitoes? A lot of the scenes are entirely unecessary. - Even though the film is all about the snazzy action sequences and hi-tech special effects, there is an underlying message — the man vs machine one — that gets through to the viewer quite effectively. - Go watch this film anyway but I think one should watch it in Tamil. I have a feeling it’s going to be more fun that way.

robotI could write a regular review of the Rajnikanth-starrer “Robot” as I do almost every week. I could give you the story outline and list out the positives and negatives, talk about the performances. But that would make no difference because most people are going to watch this film anyway. And no matter how absurd the storyline might be, you cannot escape the sheer star power of Rajnikanth. He makes even the most ridiculous scenes and plot lines look entirely stylish and believable.

Six-step guide to making India’s most expensive film

September 28, 2010

Tamil filmmaker Shankar’s last project “Sivaji – The Boss” was reported to have a production budget of a billion rupees and his latest “Robot” is being pegged at 1.5 billion rupees, which would make it India’s most expensive film ever.

Sanjay Leela Bhansali turns to music

September 24, 2010
At the launch of the first look of Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s latest offering “Guzaarish”, it came as a surprise that the trailer didn’t have any hint of the songs. Instead, it was just a melody that served as a background. Given the memorable music of his earlier films, there are a lot of expectations from this one. But the director does have a reason for keeping the music under wraps a little longer, because there is a brand new music director making his debut — Bhansali himself. The director says he didn’t want to pass on the “deep thoughts” the characters would be expressing musically in the film to someone else. “Only I can understand what my characters feel the best. So I thought it was best that I score the music for the film,” he said. In “Guzaarish”, Hrithik Roshan plays a magician who becomes paraplegic after a stunt goes wrong while Aishwarya Rai stars as his lady love. The film opens in cinemas on Nov 19. “Guzaarish” also marks the Bollywood debut of model Monikangana Dutta and will be important for Bhansali, coming as it does three years after his much-hyped “Saawariya” failed at the box-office.

guzaarishAt the launch of the first look of Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s latest offering “Guzaarish“, it came as a surprise that the trailer didn’t have any hint of the songs.

How Rajni became Robot

August 16, 2010
We Mumbaiwallahs hear so much about the big guns down south – Rajnikanth, Kamal Hassan, Mohanlal, Chiranjeevi, etc, but hardly get to hear them. So of course, I didn’t know Rajnikanth has such a great sense of humour, in addition to being a huge star and a great actor. The veteran charmed everyone off their pants at the music launch of his new film “Robot”, and had the audience in splits with his explanation of how he came to do the film. “If I hadn’t known Shankar (the director) before, I would have said no to the film, because it is a very tough role. You Kamal Hassan was to do the role initially, and even Shah Rukh Khan was approached, but ‘daane daane pe likha hai khane wale ka naam’ (every grain has the name of the person who is going to eat it),” he said, leading to hoots and claps from the audience. I wonder if I have seen so much candid humour from any Bollywood superstar. He described “Robot” as a never before seen experience in Indian cinema, and said he “guaranteed” that it would be a great film. Touted as the most expensive film made in India (with an official budget of 1.5 billion rupees), “Robot” also has special effects similar to the one used in the Oscar winning “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”, and of course the presence of former Miss World Aishwarya Rai as the film’s leading lady. But that is not why it will be a hit, at least according to Rajni. “‘Sholay’ was not a hit because of the budget or the stars, it was a hit because of the story and characters. In the same way, Shankar has created such lovely characters and such lovely moments, that I am sure, people will like it,” he said. With a guarantee certificate by Rajni himself, you don’t need much more motivation t

rajni We Mumbaiwallahs hear so much about the big guns down south – Rajnikanth, Kamal Hassan, Mohanlal, Chiranjeevi, etc, but hardly get to hear them.

Raavan: Very little Mani, and absolutely no magic

June 18, 2010

raavanThe overwhelming feeling as one leaves the theatre after having watched “Raavan” is one of disappointment. Make that huge disappointment. Could it be that one of this generation’s finest filmmakers, is credited as director in this disjointed, mediocre effort?

A Minute With: Aishwarya Rai

June 13, 2010

Actress Aishwarya Rai poses as she arrives for the screening of the film "Wall Street - Money Never Sleeps" during the 63rd Cannes Film Festival May 14, 2010. REUTERS/Yves Herman For someone who came into the Indian film industry as a former beauty queen, Aishwarya Rai has done her fair share of unglamorous roles in Bollywood.