India Masala

Bollywood and culture in an emerging India

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).

The trio decide to lie low for a while. Sanjay is asked to keep the money safe but three months on, when the other two arrive to claim their share, much has changed. He’s lost his memory in an accident and is unable to recognise them, let alone remember where he hid the cash.

Gupta builds his story very well – you are sufficiently intrigued by the characters and their intentions by the time half the film is over. You are never certain what the two main characters (Balan and Hashmi) are thinking and Gupta tries to add a Hrishikesh Mukherjee kind of humour in some scenes.

from India Insight:

No ‘Dirty Pictures’ please, we are Indian

Indians woke up on Sunday to front page newspaper ads announcing the TV premiere of “The Dirty Picture”, a National-award winning film that was both critically acclaimed and successful at the box-office.

The film, based on the life of soft porn star Silk Smitha, was one of the most popular Bollywood movies of 2011, and its success catapulted lead actress Vidya Balan into the big league.

Kahaani: Vidya’s latest is a taut thriller

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If you go by the Bollywood formula, Sujoy Ghosh’s “Kahaani” doesn’t tick any of the boxes. It’s a thriller — a genre Bollywood usually stays away from; it’s got a female lead, hardly any songs and no distractions in the form of a comedy/romance track.

It does tick one crucial box though — it’s a well-made film, with some great characters and powerful acting, and if you are willing to ignore some plot holes and go with the flow, this is a very satisfying watch.

The Dirty Picture: Vidya Balan, the hero

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In one scene in Milan Luthria’s “The Dirty Picture”, the protagonist, determined to make life miserable for one particularly pesky journalist, stages an impromptu dance performance in front of the journalist’s house — gyrating atop her car and biting her lip suggestively. Soon, a crowd gathers, there are wolf whistles and catcalls, and the police are called in to control the chaos that ensues.

Wearing nothing but a skimpy, midriff-baring blouse, pants and over-the-top sunglasses, Silk, as she’s called in the film is all smiles, and it’s obvious she’s loving every moment. You could say the same about Vidya Balan in the film. She’s having a blast playing Silk and it shows in every frame of the film.

No One Killed Jessica: Flawed but has its moments

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- Raj Kumar Gupta’s “No One Killed Jessica” is based on the very gripping saga of the Jessica Lall murder case, one that captured the collective conscience of India at a point in time, and galvanised a dormant middle-class into taking action. A young model shot dead because she refused to serve a powerful politician’s son a drink at a party. The murderer gets away because of his connections, but when an aggressive reporter takes it upon herself to solve the case, things change. Vidya Balan plays Sabrina, Jessica’s sister, who learns soon enough that fighting against a corrupt system is of no use, even though more than 300 people witnessed her sister’s murder. Star reporter Meera Gaity (Rani Mukherjee), who initially doesn’t think the case is worth her time, takes it upon herself to crack the case, when a lower court acquits all accused in the case. Her investigative reporting shakes the system forcing public protests and re-opening of the case. Gupta’s source of inspiration is spot-on and perfect celluloid fodder. However, the director doesn’t utilise his raw material well enough for you to be completely gripped by this tale. Rather than packing in the second half with action and some sort of drama, he chooses to dwell on the emotional quotient — something he has already established, thus making it repetitive. The actual events which led to the reopening of the case are glossed over and there is much expostulating on the equations of the powerful in Delhi. Also, Rani Mukherjee’s character is not given enough time and you don’t really get a sense of her. Sabrina, on the other hand, is quite well-developed and Vidya Balan does the character justice, bringing out the frustration and grief that Jessica Lall’s family must have gone through. “No One Killed Jessica” is a film that does have its moments, but on the whole it doesn’t quite make the impact it should have. The length could have been cut by 20 minutes and some of the supporting cast doesn’t perform up to the mark. If you are willing to forgive these flaws, this is good enough for a one-time watch — to relive the horrific incident and its aftermath, if nothing else.

noonekilledRaj Kumar Gupta’s “No One Killed Jessica” is based on the very gripping saga of the Jessica Lall murder case, one that captured the collective conscience of India at a point in time, and galvanised a dormant middle-class into taking action.

A young model shot dead because she refused to serve a powerful politician’s son a drink at a party. The murderer gets away because of his connections, but when an aggressive reporter takes it upon herself to solve the case, things change.

Ishqiya: Raw, gripping cinema

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ishqiyaEven if you didn’t know it before, the first few frames of debutant director Abhishek Chaubey’s ‘Ishqiya’, will confirm that he has imbibed a lot of his skill from his mentor Vishal Bhardwaj. The look, tone and feel of the film are all very reminiscent of Bhardwaj’s films.

That said, Chaubey does bring his own sensibility to the film, depicting the arid, gritty landscape of Western UP and its people with a freshness that we haven’t seen very often on screen.

Paa: Flawed but gives us a whole new Bachchan

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paa1First things first. “Paa” belongs to Amitabh Bachchan. And Vidya Balan. Or actually it belongs to Auro and his mother. Because that’s who you really see on screen and that is the hallmark of a great performance.

For this reason alone, R Balkrishnan’s “Paa” is worth watching. There are some hiccups (or hickis as referred to in the film) but on the whole, this film should leave you with a lump in your throat and nothing but admiration for Amitabh Bachchan.

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