India Masala

Bollywood and culture in an emerging India

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.

Mukerji makes a candyfloss romance with the most unoriginal storyline ever – there are no surprises along the way. But there are tender moments, playful banter and some crackling chemistry between the two leads that overshadow the other flaws.

Ranbir Kapoor plays Bunny, the rebel full of wanderlust. Padukone is Naina, who appears to be meek at first but emerges as the stronger of the two. The characters are brought to life by Kapoor and Padukone, both of whom are excellent in their roles. Kalki Koechlin and Aditya Roy Kapur play their friends, to form the film’s quartet.

Barfi!: The sweet life

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Even before you see a single frame of Anurag Basu’s “Barfi!” you will get a sense of the movie, thanks to a quirky song which calls on you to switch off “both your mobiles and kids”. It also promises that the film will give you no “gyaan” (expressing opinion) and that it will tell you about “saccha pyaar” (true love).

You could either be charmed by this unusual beginning or be put off by it, as I was, especially because it feels like overstating the tone of the movie and making a judgment for you about its content. But you might soon forget that and a lot of other things. The very first scene, a Chaplinesque chase through narrow streets is shot expertly by Ravi Varman, and will give you a sense of the old-world charm that pervades the film.

Rockstar: Ranbir, Rahman are the stars

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If you want to watch the rockstars in action in Imtiaz Ali’s “Rockstar“, look out for the “Kun Faya Kun” number in the first half — both A. R. Rahman and Ranbir Kapoor are at their best here — the lilting melody of the song and Ranbir’s range of expressions remind you of how good the two are at what they do.

They are the stars of “Rockstar” — the reason why you leave the movie with a somewhat positive feeling. Everything else, including the script, the direction and other performances are found wanting, much to your disappointment.

Anjaana Anjaani: Suicidal story

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Making a film with just two characters and about their journey towards love is a concept that has worked quite well. The Ethan Hawke starrer “Before Sunrise” and its sequel “Before Sunset” come to mind immediately. These films had at their centre a great love story between two very interesting people and their interaction with each other itself was enough to take the story forward. It is of course entirely to the credit of the director and the scriptwriter that he can achieve that. And no matter how many foreign locales director Siddharth Anand shoots in and no matter how American his characters talk and act, he doesn’t come even close to creating that kind of interest and sympathy for them, or his film for that matter. “Anjaana Anjaani”, which is about Kiara and Aakash, two very whiny people who meet each other when they are trying to kill themselves, but by the time they change their mind, you might want to do the deed for them. They spend the 2-and-a-half-hour film driving around deserts and swimming in freezing water, pretending they are friends, when you could have saved them that trouble and told them they were going to fall in love in the first five minutes of the film. Their exchanges are childish to say the least and have none of the freshness and originality you might expect from a film that is anyway re-hashing an old formula. Both Ranbir Kapoor and Priyanka Chopra share a good chemistry on screen, but give the sense that they are trying too hard to make up for the listless script. The last scene especially is so bad it is cringe worthy and both actors ham it up like there is no tomorrow. Avoid this one unless you want to die of boredom

AA2Making a film with just two characters and about their journey towards love is a concept that has worked quite well in the past.

The Ethan Hawke starrer “Before Sunrise” and its sequel “Before Sunset” come to mind immediately. These films had at their centre a great love story between two very interesting people and their interaction with each other itself was enough to take the story forward.

Raajneeti: An epic nicely retold

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BOLLYWOOD/First things first, “Raajneeti” is not about the first family in Indian politics even though some characters might resemble familiar cardboard cutouts.

So don’t go expecting some dope on a reality which is much stranger than fiction.

Rocket Singh: Underdog does win but barely

rocketWe all know that feeling. When you are just out of college and fresh into a new job with no experience whatsoever, just a burning desire to do well.

Ranbir Kapoor captures a bit of all of us in Harpreet Singh Bedi, the protagonist of “Rocket Singh: Salesman of the Year”.
He is wide-eyed, eager and flabbergasted, all at the same time, as he tries to negotiate his way around the snake pit that a corporate office can sometimes turn into.

Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani: Ranbir saving grace

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

Fifteen years later, Santoshi is back with another comic caper, this time starring Ranbir Kapoor and Katrina Kaif.  But if you are expecting another “Andaz Apna Apna”, you will be sorely disappointed.

Wake Up Sid: A whole new formula film

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Bollywood has always survived on the formula — the elusive secret to making a successful film that combines elaborate sets, melodrama and of course, dancing around trees. Then multiplexes arrived and we were told it was the era of niche films, ones that didn’t go by the formula.

Films like “Wake Up Sid” are well on their way to becoming a meeting point between the old and the new, and becoming a whole different genre of films — the formula multiplex film.

More than ‘just good friends’ in Bollywood

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“We are just good friends” has to be the most overused phrase in Bollywood (or even Hollywood) for that matter.

 

A couple of years ago, each time rumour mills started working non-stop about a “friendship” between celebrities, the two concerned parties were sure to come up with a statement about how they were just good friends.

Bachna Ae Haseeno: Ranbir comes out shining

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Dreamy locales, designer threads, wedding sequences, racy numbers and a happy ending — Yash Raj Films finally got the formula right.”Bachna Ae Haseeno” has all this and more. It’s a formula film no doubt, but it has its heart in the right place.

Bachna Ae HaseenoSo when you are introduced to Raj Sharma, an incorrigible flirt and lovable rascal with a serious commitment phobia — you kind of take to him immediately.

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