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Monthly Archives: March 2009

Subhash Ghai – A Leopard Changes Its Spots

Subhash Ghai, the showman of the industry, is now not-to-be-seen anywhere. The man who gave a string hits like Vidhata, Hero, Meri Jung, Karma, Ram Lakhan, Saudagar, Khalnayak, Pardes, Taal; and then suddenly he lost the magic touch. When you read the names of these movies, I am sure you noticed that all these were the typical masala Hindi movies which had the recurrent themes of separation, injustice, revenge and love. And most of these movies had brilliant soundtrack, good songs and nice ear for music. I am not going to write about these movies, that’s already done in a post which is a small capsule of all his potboiler movies which he made before the beginning of the new millenium. That post can be found here, and my intention was to write about his later movies.

Yaadein – 2001 : At the turn of the century, Subhash Ghai gave us this crap of a movie. This was the first time he was working with Hrithik Roshan and Kareena Kapoor, he wanted to capitalize on their popularity. The YRF banner, KJo and other makers started making movies for the NRI audience when they realised that foreign revenues coming in $$ makes a huge difference to the BO report. So, Ghai wanted to follow the trend and he set his movie in London. Since he was targetting the NRI, he based his story on a NRI disjointed family trying to retain Indian values.

The movie turned into an ‘ad fest’ with long shots of Coke in Jackie Shroff‘s hands, his daughters riding Hero cycle, Ladybird I guess; Paas-Paas flavoured gutka or whatever the hell that was. We were subjected to such paid-torture; do we buy tickets or rent dvd’s to see ads, but here we were bombarded with ads. The story-telling was no good at all, even emotional scenes had ads peeking from all sides, Jackie openly declaring that Coke is his second love. Ghai lost the plot in the screenplay stage, and the final product was embarassing. Even the music of the movie was not very good, save for a couple of songs like Jab Dil Miley and the title song. The showman failed miserably, and he still has not been able to make a comeback. His downfall started from here onwards.

Kisna – 2005 : After the disaster of Yaadein, it took Ghai 4 long years before he could come out with his next directorial venture. In between, he wrote a simple story of love blosomming between a young actress and an old judge, the movie was Jogger’s Park. He produced Jogger’s Park in 2003 and Aitraaz in 2004.

With the success of Lagaan came the new trend of having a foreign face in the movie, a white actress. Lot of movies were announced with such starcast, like Out Of Control, Mangal Pandey, Salaam-E-Ishq etc. This probably prompted Ghai to write a periodical, or a movie set in 1800′s. He signed Vivek Oberoi who was the most sought after guy, back then. The story was about Kisna, a poet, and his crusade for saving the life of a British woman who is being chased by nationalists; and how he escorts her to safety and fights everyone who tries to stop them. Ghai did not adhere to his normal formula, he ventured into unknown territories and was lost.

The movie had good music, both from Ismail Darbar and AR Rahman. The performances were a shame, no one did justice to their role. Isha Sharvani, in her debut, danced well; but that’s all she did, that’s all she was asked to do. Nothing good from the foreign actress Antonia Bernath, and Vivek Oberoi did not look the part. He was so out of place. This movie was Amrish Puri‘s last release, in fact he expired two weeks before the movie released.

Black & White – 2008 : After the debacle of Kisna, Ghai went into hibernation once again. He continued producing small budget movies which did well, like Iqbal and 36 Chinatown. After the success of Iqbal, he backed Nagesh Kukunoor‘s next project Bombay to Bangkok which flopped.

Anyways, terrorism was turning out to be the talk of the country. Lots of film-makers were writing stories about terrorists and terror plots. Ghai, not to be left behind, also started writing his own story, much inspired by the Afzal Guru episode. He called the movie B&W, because he hoped to show both sides of the coin. Having married a muslim himself, I thought Ghai would be able to bring out the dichotomy in a sensitive manner. He made a brave attempt in trying to explain the psyche of a terrorist, but he failed in nailing the issue. I felt cheated when he declared that the protagonist came from across the border. He should have had the guts to show a home-bred terrorist. The movie climax was much like Dil Se, a terrorist taking refuge in a house and is on a mission.Â

The musical score by Sukhwinder Singh was impressive. Anil Kapoor gave a very restrained performance as professor Mathur and Habeeb Tanvir as the poet was marvellous. But again, Ghai’s lack of experience in dealing with serious issues of grave consequence was exposed. An attempt in vain.

Yuvraaj – 2008 : Aamir’s TZP became a hit, Apna Asmaan received critical appreciation, Iqbal also did well. As goes the trend of the industry, follow the trend, Ghai did so. He decided to make such a movie, and he went for the easiest inspiration in the form of Rain Man. Rain Man was a story straight out of the saying where there is a will, there are relatives; and Subhash Ghai added one more relative to that list. He made it a story of 3 brothers, one of them being autistic; Anil Kapoor played the part which Dustin Hoffman had played, Salman Khan was doing what Tom Cruise had done; and Zayed Khan, I still don’t know what the hell was he doing in the movie.

The only kind of relief was the musical score. AR Rahman gave some very hummable numbers like Tu Muskura and Tu Hi To Meri Dost Hai; and the background score was really good. But the casting of the movie was horrible. Salman Khan, as usual, just slept through the role; Zayed Khan mouthed the lines without any expression/emotion/feeling and Katrina Kaif was just about tolerable. Anil Kapoor tried his best, to compensate for the non-acting of his fellow artists.

I feel really bad for Ghai who has fallen into bad times. He has been trying different things, but has not succeeded at any of them. Unlike 1990′s, where he hit a jackpot with his formula movies, he is trying to re-invent himself now. He seems to have lost the touch of making his masala movies, inserting action-emotion-tragedy-melodrama-comedy-revenge-family, he is a pale shadow of his golden past. Zindagi har kadam ek nayi jung hai …

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Posted by on March 25, 2009 in bollywood, movies

 

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Straight – Are You Happy And Gay?

While I was in high school, we guys had a little joke book which had some gay jokes as well. One of them was – Whats the height of being gay? The answer – When you can’t even think straight.

Thats exactly what this movie is about. Vinay Pathak as Pinu Patel is confused about his sexuality, as the title suggests already. What has compounded the problem is the fact that he has been a virgin for far too long, never had an escapade. And the first ever such encounter that happens to him is in the form of a peck on the cheek by a fellow worker. That totally leaves him dumbfounded.

Pinu Patel is a merry restaurateur in London, who goes about doing his work. He has never had an iota of fun and his life is quite dry until Renu and Kamlesh enter. Renu, beautifully played by Gul Panag, is looking refreshing and cute. The peck on the cheek which I mentioned above, comes from Kamlesh, a wannabe stand-up comedian, who joins the restaurant as a chef. Kamlesh wins a lottery and in one impulsive act he kisses Pinu. But his unintentional act makes Pinu doubt his own sexual orientation. He starts getting attracted to Kamlesh and not Renu.

Somewhere in between, this movie starts looking a lot like 40 Year Old Virgin, when Pinu makes all attempts to bed a woman; basically becasue he is trying to explore his sexuality and prove to himself that he is not gay. He makes all kinds of attempts with women to see if he gets turned-on by women or if he enjoys their company. And in one such attempt with Renu, he says that he is a virgin and she retorts that she is not; thereby giving us hints of feminism and sexual liberation.

Pinu does not have the hots for Renu, but looks forward to Kamlesh. Unlike Dostana, the issue is approached with much more sensitivity. But just when you start taking it seriously, they turn it into a cliched and melodramatic stuff; and make a mockery of it.

Somehow the movie meanders and right when we start getting restless and losing interest, Pinu’s cousin enters the scene and clears the air. He becomes Pinu’s friend, philosopher and guide; and answers all of Pinu’s questions.

The music of the movie is pretty good with nice hummable songs like Saanso Ka Rukna, which is picturised so well, and Humko Churaya. Sagar Desai has done good work.

The director of the movie, Parvati Balgopalan, has done a fairly decent job. Her second outing, first being Rules…Pyar Ka Superhit Formula, is a good follow-up; but a tad bit late. My reactions to both movies are the same though, just about average. I did not enjoy Rules…  so much, but did appreciate the effort. Actually, Straight scores over the previous movie when it comes to the craft and handling the actors.  Vinay Pathak is awesome as Pinu. The honesty he brings to the role is amazing, I just felt that he is being over-used and wasted in roles like these. He deserves better than this. Gul Panag is really good, she is improving frame-by-frame. This is the second movie with Vinay and Gul, first being Manorama-Six Feet Under. The surprise packet in the movie is Sidharth Makkar who plays Pinu’s cousin. Even Anuj Chaudhary as Kamlesh is very good and has ably supported Vinay Pathak.

The movie has a very good premise and first half, but loses steam in the second half. What could have been a fantastic movie, ends as an average-to-good movie. There was another joke going around during my shool-days : A man cannot be happily married, he can either be happy or be married. In Pinu Patel’s context : A man cannot be happily gay, he can either be happy or be gay.

 
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Posted by on March 24, 2009 in bollywood, movie review, movies

 

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