India Masala

Peepli Live: Brilliant, nuanced satire

August 13, 2010

Peepli LiveThere are a lot of nuances in Anusha Rizvi’s “Peepli Live” that you may not get at once. There will be a comment on the health system in villages or the lack of hygiene but they are so subtle that it may escape the notice of the less attentive viewer.

Tere Bin Laden: Average but harmless fare

July 16, 2010

laden1Abhishek Sharma’s “Tere Bin Laden” is a sporadically funny but badly made film that tries a little too hard to draw out laughs from the audience and fails for precisely that reason.

It’s a Wonderful Afterlife: Too little laughter, too much curry

May 7, 2010
Gurinder Chadha’s “It’s a Wonderful Afterlife” (‘Hai Marjaawaan’ in Hindi) is a comedy about a harassed Indian mother, who is so obsessed with marrying off her only daughter that she kills off anyone who dares to reject her. Those killing methods are so corny, you want to puke when you see a victim’s stomach burst open due to an overdose of curry and another one stabbed with a skewer of chicken tikka kebabs. The victims come back to haunt her, chicken tikka skewers intact. They cannot be reincarnated unless their killer dies but Mrs Sethi doesn’t want to kill herself before her daughter is “settled”. So the spirits and Mrs Sethi (played endearingly by Shabana Azmi) set out to look for a suitable groom for her daughter, leading to a somewhat comedic situation. The problem here is that the comedy is as laboured and forced as the make-up job on the spirits and laughing becomes a chore. Chadha does bring in some of the sharp, British humour that characterised “Bend it like Beckham” but those moments are few and far between. For most of the time, there is only curry flying in all directions, making you think about the colossal waste of food shooting for this film would have involved. Also, just because it is meant to be a comedy doesn’t mean you can account for a nonsensical storyline. Most of the events don’t make much sense and plot points are explained away by the flimsiest of excuses. Azmi does play her role well and Sendhil Ramamurthy as a police officer investigating the attacks is good, but watching the film isiawasuch a laboured exercise that these two don’t quite make up for it.

iawaGurinder Chadha’s “It’s a Wonderful Afterlife” (‘Hai Marjaawaan’ in Hindi) is a comedy about a harassed Indian mother, who is so obsessed with marrying off her only daughter that she kills off anyone who dares to reject her.

Housefull: Turn down the volume!

April 30, 2010

housefullThere is a song in Sajid Khan’s “Housefull” with the lyrics “volume kam kar” (turn down the volume). Wouldn’t it be nice if the director and actors had imbibed this simple message? That would have made this alleged comedy easier to tolerate.

Well Done Abba: Not that well done

March 26, 2010

wdaShyam Benegal’s last two films have had similar themes — humour coupled with a social message (actually lots of social messages). The last one “Welcome to Sajjanpur” was a delightful watch, with neither the humour nor the social message getting too overpowering.

De Dana Dan: Entertainment of the lowest level

November 27, 2009

Watching a movie like “De Dana Dan” in a single screen theatre where people are hooting and clapping at crass humour on screen may give you an insight into Indian audiences.

Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani: Ranbir saving grace

November 6, 2009

You hear the words Rajkumar Santoshi and comedy in one sentence and you immediately think — “Andaz Apna Apna”.

All the Best: Adding that Diwali sparkle

October 16, 2009

Watching three films in the space of 18 hours isn’t easy, especially when the first two are films like “Blue” and “Main Aur Mrs Khanna“.

Golmaal Returns – Don’t expect any sense in this sequel

November 3, 2008

There are some things you don’t want to make sense of, instead preferring to just go along with the flow. You’d be well advised to do exactly the same with “Golmaal Returns”.

Nothing exciting about ‘Ugly Aur Pagli’

August 1, 2008

In retrospect, I should have just switched off the television. But I didn’t. I watched “Pyaar Ke Side Effects” in its entirety – barely 24 hours before I was treated to the wannabe version of the film – “Ugly Aur Pagli”.