Happy New Year: The ‘Indiawaale’ Manage To Win Hearts

Like the start in Farah Khan’s ‘Happy New Year’ (HNY) where Shah Rukh Khan sets of by saying that there are two kinds of people in this world, winners and losers, I believe that there are two kinds of films in the world. Films that are made with a script and films of Farah Khan, who successfully manages to become the leader after HNY to make commercial potboilers!

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Going by the recent failures of deadpan films without a script, HNY is a much better film as compared to its peers. However, it isn’t as great as Farah’s own ‘Om Shanti Om’ but yet promises abundance of entertainment in three hours.

Thankfully, unlike her previous outing ‘Tees Maar Khan’ which was a bore and sleepy affair, HNY is on the go right from the opening sequence where Charlie aka Chandramohan Manohar (Shah Rukh Khan) unveils his dashing eight-pack abs and mouths dialogues of all his previous hit films. It is followed up by his ‘keep it simple’ plan to avenge his father’s death and plan a robbery of diamonds worth crores of rupees from Charan Grover (Jackie Shroff). He then sets out on his mission ‘Happy New Year’ and manages to build a team of ‘losers’ (including him) who scale to great heights when they decide to take the route to participate in a reality-dance contest in an attempt to rob the diamonds.

Farah Khan sticks to what she has done in her last two films, ‘Main Hoon Naa’ and ‘Om Shanti Om’ respectively, that is use the prowess of her characters. This, itself, makes up for an entertaining and a supreme first half where characters are introduced even as Charlie plans his heist. From Abhishek Bachchan’s ‘desi’ entry to Deepika Padukone’s ‘eazy’ Mohini dance, every character manages to entertain and surprise you as the film progresses to a not-so-riveting climax.

The director excellently blends Bollywood humour, her regular dose of spoofs on her industry colleagues and her cameo specialist actors. But where she scores brownie points is when the bunch of losers suddenly realise that their motive to win the contest is far superior and this is what makes ‘Happy New Year’ entertaining and patriotic at the same time. For once robbery takes a backseat and the troupe comes together to enthral Dubai. Taking a cue from late Manmohan Desai, whom Farah Khan has always regarded as her guru, the director manages to pull off HNY like a supremely executed film with minor glitches, a feat that many commercial directors haven’t managed to achieve.

Music by Vishal-Shekhar is good to hear on the big screen and is peppy. Even Vishal’s act with Anurag Kashyap in a scene would keep all in splits. From Manwa Laage to Indiawaale, each song carries the story forward and keeps pumping up the entertainment level.

At three hours, the film is stretched at places but the performances keep you glued. I must say that HNY isn’t Shah Rukh Khan’s film alone. While he does get maximum screen time, he is excellently complimented by a talented bunch of actors who lend him good support. My clear favourite remain Boman Irani and Abhishek Bachchan who pull of their acts in such wonderful fashion. Deepika Padukone, as Mohini, also compliments with her dancing skills and adds the glam quotient. Sonu Sood and Vivaan Shah are apt in their roles.

With ‘Happy New Year’ being a single Diwali release, it is only fair to say that the film has success written over it and the powerhouse star cast just makes it easy. I went with zero expectations and enjoyed my time at the theatre. Probably you do the same and you won’t be disappointed.

Final Verdict: Happy New Year may not be the intelligent kind of cinema. However, it is one of those expensive buffet outings which one can relish once in a while. This might not be close to Om Shanti Om but these ‘Indiawaale’ certainly manage to win hearts, in true Farah Khan style!!! ENTERTAINMENT GUARANTEED!

Rating: ***

Haider: Shahid and Tabu Make Up For The Botched Climax

Vishal Bhardwaj’s ‘Haider’ may certainly be compared with his own works, ‘Maqbool’ and ‘Omkara’ respectively. But while the director manages to rise above these films, in terms of narrative and storytelling, he fails to deliver where it matters the most, the crucial climax.

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Intentionally slow paced in the first half, ‘Haider’ seeps into a film which endlessly drags towards the end, leaving one half satiated just like how Tabu’s character is shown as a ‘half-widow’ as she desperately seeks for her husband’s return after he mysteriously disappears.

Haider (Shahid Kapoor) seeks revenge from his uncle Khurram (Kay Kay Menon), whom he holds responsible for his father’s disappearance, and is distraught to see him have an affair with his mother Ghazala aka Moijee (Tabu). When Roohdaar (Irrfan Khan) sends him a message, informing that his father has asked him to take revenge, Haider is instantly drawn into a world of bloodshed and hate even as his own family begins to believe that he is going insane and needs psychiatric treatment.

Haider is caught between two people Khurram and Roohdaar and is clueless about which of these are in his side, or whether he is just being used.

While I haven’t read ‘Hamlet’, like all Shakespearean tales, this one too has characters that all are grey, a mix of positive and negative shades. Vishal Bhardwaj interestingly infuses the conflict of Kashmir and a revenge saga of a son into ‘Haider’ which intensifies the story and makes it compelling especially with the visual treat that each frame offers. Thanks to the cinematography by Pankaj Kumar, whose frames are magical on screen.

However, in the second half, Haider loses its steam, towards the climax, and it seems like a botched up effort after a startling twist in the tale. A few questions particularly pop up in the minds with reference to Ghazala’s sudden association with Roohdaar. A broken link in the storyline (especially after the several cuts made by Vishal Bhardwaj himself to make the film crisper in spite of its 2:42 hours length) is difficult to digest as it leaves one clueless.

Nevertheless, Haider still manages to keep you tediously glued as the performances keep the film alive. Shraddha Kapoor as Arshia is good but she hardly is present in the film. Most of her romantic scenes create an impact but that’s about it.

Kay Kay Menon as Khurram is excellent and it is hard to miss the expressions that he delivers on screen. Ditto for Irrfan Khan who emerges as the surprise package in spite of having a miniscule role.

But it is Tabu and Shahid Kapoor who make up for all the flaws and make Haider a film, not among Vishal Bhardwaj’s best but certainly a film that helps one forget the debacle of ‘Saath Khoon Maaf’.

Tabu is first-rate in all her scenes and it’s a delight to watch the actress perform a role with so much conviction. Post Maqbool, the actress surely would be in contention for the awards just like the film’s main lead Haider aka Shahid Kapoor.

Haider, undoubtedly is Shahid Kapoor’s best performance. After a spree of flops and a second lease of life in ‘R Rajkumar’, Shahid Kapoor delivers a performance that many would find hard to believe. He goes a top notch above his performance in ‘Kaminey’, which was also noteworthy enough. Be it his restrained look, with eyes filled with hope to see his father, or the bloodshot-eyed, bald, psychic and revengeful avatar, it is hard to miss his antics that unveil on screen. A monologue, which socially reflects his political views on the valley, and his bird-cum-beastly act when he exposes Khurram while enacting a play (Bismil song) is simply astonishing.

Final Verdict: Haider isn’t Vishal Bhardwaj’s best and isn’t close to Omkara. But it still is a good film with performances of its characters that make it noteworthy. A visual treat of the valley with Tabu and Shahid’s act make it a full ‘Chutzpah’ (read brilliant) affair. (For the meaning of chutzpah, watch the film to know more!)

Rating: *** 

MARY KOM – Priyanka Lives Up To The Legend

Hi All,

There were a few comparisons drawn in the theatre while watching ‘Mary Kom’. And the obvious reference was to an earlier biopic made on the life of the ‘Flying Sikh’ aka Milkha Singh, ‘Bhaag Milkha Bhaag’.While a few people sitting felt that the film has handsomely managed to weave the 5-time world champion’s life and justified it to screen, while there were a few they were just watching an extended version of the same film, with the only exception of the main lead and a sub plot.

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A viewer probably went to the extent of saying: “Just by showing a glimpse of training and adding a background inspirational song doesn’t make a film a biopic.” I personally felt that it was a little too harsh considering the efforts put in by the leading lady Priyanka Chopra, who also has gone ‘bald’ for a crucial scene, to make the character believable.

A sports biopic, especially on legends, will have its own merits and de-merits. But what makes ‘Mary Kom’ a good film is that it has the heart at its right place. Mary Kom’s glorious career comes alive on screen and makes an impression primarily in the second half when she makes a comeback after the birth of her twins.

Debutant Omang Kumar, who is known to be a master of vibrant frames and extravagant sets of former Bhansali films, makes a decent transition from art direction to a feature films and manages to weave the right amount of magic in getting the emotional act of Priyanka Chopra and the others right. He gets excellent support from his team who manage to take viewers to a curfew-ridden Manipur and the tension-stricken boxing ring, all wonderfully designed and executed by Vanita Omung Kumar, making ‘Mary Kom’ look as authentic and rich as possible.

The only possible flaw remains that the film gets a tad too repetitive when Mary Kom takes a panga with the boxing federation; a corrupt official tries to bring her career down aka ‘Chak De India’. All these look like a borrowed cue just to glorify the legend’s life in a way, and sometimes fictional. But that is the harsh reality of today that other sports like boxing are hardly given any recognition in India.

A film that is the least in running time, considering it’s a biopic, stands on the lone shoulders of Priyanka Chopra, who pitches in a performance that sure will compete strongly with her counterparts for the awards next year. Only if the awards play a fair game, with the many films in 2014 that have had extremely strong woman protagonists, Priyanka Chopra faces immense competition from the likes of Alia Bhatt (Highway), Kangana Ranaut (Queen), Vidya Balan (Bobby Jasoos), and Rani Mukerji (Mardaani). Looks like the year definitely belongs to the women!

Final Verdict: In the list of the above films, add Mary Kom as well. It may be a story with a thin plot but it is only made strong and punches hard with Priyanka’s riveting performance. To compare it with any other film would be injustice. It’s the effort that undoubtedly needs to be lauded.

RATING: *** 1/2

KICK Review: Another feather to the Salman-Sajid Combo

Irrespective of Kick’s fate at the box-office, one thing for sure is that whenever Salman Khan and Sajid Nadiadwala (who debuts as a director after producing many Hindi films, which mostly featured Khan himself) collaborate, the result is absolute fireworks.

Starting from Jeet , Judwaa, Har Dil Jo Pyar Karega, Mujhse Shaadi Karogi and now ‘KICK’, the friendship has only grown better just like another Khan (tch tch..We all know who it is) bonded with his coffee counterpart. And like Salman-Sajid’s previous ventures, even KICK may prove to be a cash cow, even if it boasts of a wafer-thin plot defied of any logic.

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KICK, a remake of the Telugu film of the same name and a Tamil film, Thilalangadi, that starred Jeyam Ravi and Tamannah, stays almost true to its original, with a minute change of removing the sub-plots involving the secondary characters. Well one has to know that in a Salman Khan film, there has to be just one star, who acts, laughs, cries and in one word, ENTERTAINS!

‘KICK’ begins on a train in Poland wherein Shaina (a hot and extremely beautiful Jacqueline Fernandez), a psychiatrist, is discussing marriage with Himanshu Tyagi (Randeep Hooda), a cop, and talks about her KICK, Devi Lal Singh a.k.a Devil (Salman Khan), who left her to pursue his several KICKS! Meeting him during a wedding was her biggest mistake as he gave her a headache with a terrible hangover, but eventually when Devi manages to woo Shaina, she falls for his Being Human avatar. However Devi decides to leave her for a KICK to earn money, ala a superhero-style, crossing paths with Himanshu, thus beginning a cat-and-mouse chase between the two.

Probably if Salman Khan’s previous film, ‘Jai Ho’ wouldn’t have been made, KICK would have created a better impact as the climax is just an extended version of the former. The only difference is that it is stylized and non-preachy unlike its earlier counterpart. This and the odd picturization of songs is the other blemish in the otherwise entertaining film.

Himesh Reshammiya’s music along with Yo Yo Honey Singh and Meet Brothers Anjjan are good to hear on the big screen, but that’s about it.

KICK picks up wonderfully after the intermission with the entry of Shiv Gajera (an exceptional Nawazuddin Siddiqui) who manages to infuse more exciting moments even as Himanshu and Devi engage in their own sweet battle. With Rajat Arora (The Dirty Picture, Once Upon A Time In Mumbai) being at the helm of affairs at writing the dialogues, several punchlines leave a mark.

‘Mere Baare Mein Itna Mat Sochna…Dil Mein Aata Hoon Samajh Mein Nahin’. It is dialogues like these that define the purpose of the film. While KICK is definitely not for the film-school and art-house intellectuals and is meant to be a no-brainer, writers, Rajat Arora, Keith Gomes, author Chetan Bhagat and director Sajid Nadiadwala himself; try to infuse basic logic into the film at various intervals. Thankfully it pays off as unlike the recent spree of masala entertainers, this one has a plot to boast off, even if it is as thin as a sheet of ice.

After producing a spree of films, Sajid Nadiadwala tries his hand at direction and fares exceedingly well in his first attempt. However, his television style of shots of switching over to actors for their reactions seems a bit odd for a film. He is known to be a producer who doesn’t compromise on grandeur and this is evident in every frame of KICK.

A Salman Khan film is a one-man-show. But luckily, KICK gives a chance to all to match up to him. And well, Randeep Hooda and Nawazuddin, actually come close to it. Randeep Hooda as the cop is energetic and matches Khan in every sequence they share screen space. Nawazuddin Siddiqui makes an impact with his menacing smile as the evil Shiv Gajera.

Jacqueline Fernandez is good and one definitely shouldn’t miss her dance sequence which is wonderfully choreographed by Ahmed Khan.

Saurabh Shukla, Mithun Chakraborty, Archana Puran Singh play their parts well.

But the KICK one get, is only because of Salman Khan. Devi Lal Singh aka Devil is surely the next superhero who in his Krrish-cum-Dhoom style avatar manages to give a performance that may just break his previous records.

Final Verdict: Salman Khan may be getting old (if you notice strands of grey hair in a few scenes) but the energy that man possesses and he carries off, cannot be ignored. Enjoy and get the KICK!

Rating: ***

Bobby Jasoos: Vidya Balan As The ‘Master Of Disguise’, One Can’t Miss This One

Hi All, 

A detective story would normally be envisioned with two characters, the detective and his side-kick, trying to roam around the world with their magnifying glasses, chewing gums or carrots (ala Karamchand style) or donning a black hat and a long coat (ala Sherlock Holmes). But our ‘Bobby Jasoos’ directed by debutante Samar Shaikh isn’t either of these, yet emerges as a winner.

Bobby Jasoos - Theatrical Poster

Bobby Jasoos – Theatrical Poster

Right from the first scene, Bobby Jasoos a.k.a Bilkis Ahmed (Vidya Balan) is on the mission to become the best detective in the city of Hyderabad. Being a ‘master of disguise’ and heavily inspired by our very own CID and ACP Pradyuman, she sets out in her tryst to crack various cases involving spying on lovers, wives and getting telephone numbers in exchange for her fees. While she is hardly given any respect by her orthodox father (Rajendra Gupta) and criticised for being detached from the family, Bobby realises the true value of having a family while working on a case for Anis Khan (Kiran Kumar) that changes her from a bold and bindass jasoos to a suave daughter. Meanwhile Bobby is also caught in a dilemma of getting married or not married to Tasawur (Ali Fazal).

One must admire the sincerity with which Sanyukta Chawla Shaikh and Samar Shaikh have written the script that boasts of such wittiness as well as questions the society in a light-hearted way especially the traditions and values of a conservative Muslim household. Bobby Jasoos would easily have become a caricature of detectives, but thankfully Balan takes full control of her character and not once goes overboard with her act.

She may not have to deal with gruesome murders to investigate, but she comes across as a detective, so passionate, that no insults can hold her away from chasing her dreams.

Bobby Jasoos also stands out for its colourful canvas and explores Hyderabad with so much gusto. If one has seen ‘The Angrez’ (a cult b-grade Hindi/Hyderabadi film and thoroughly enjoyed it), the Hyderabadi style Hindi in Bobby Jasoos is surely bound to make you smile.

Dia Mirza and Sahil Sangha need to be credited for backing a film like Bobby Jasoos as it is one of the few films that so brilliantly portray its strong lead women character. While films continue to be made in Bollywood with the Khans and the new breed of actors, films like Bobby Jasoos, Kahaani, Queen, and Highway are strong examples of having a story written for a women protagonist and also ensuring that it evokes a noteworthy response from the audience.

Sans any vulgarity, the crass humour, Bobby Jasoos also takes us back to clean family comedies that can be enjoyed with tasty snacks. In the age of loudness and nonsense content, this one comes as a huge surprise!

The only flaw Bobby Jasoos suffers is from a song towards the climax that dips the narrative and an extended melodramatic ending.

While the film’s star undoubtedly is Vidya Balan, who once again portrays a character with such simplicity and sincerity, the supporting star cast are equally brilliant. From the senior breed of actors like Rajendra Gupta, Supriya Pathak, Tanve Azmi, Zarina Wahab and Kiran Kumar, each one stands out with their flawless performances.

Prasad Barve as Shetty, Akash Dahiya, Arjan Bawa and Ali Fazal also deliver commendably well.

Final Verdict: Bobby Jasoos may not be an edge-of-the-seat thriller or have a nail-biting climax, but it is a film that is surely to win hearts with the performances not just by Vidya Balan, but also the supporting senior versatile actors of Bollywood. Made at a modest budget, the film surely will taste sweet success and reinvents the family comedies. This is surely a film one wouldn’t want to miss. Give it a chance!

Rating: *** 1/2