Sunday, November 16, 2008

Dostana - Review

Before we start I must confess that there's something money can't buy, but a 'feel and look factor 'is definitely not one of those rarities. Have the plushest of Miami, Florida apartments as a backdrop, throw in the most ravishing looking Priyanka Chopra you have ever seen and an equally toned John Abraham (who is showing pulling up his D & G undies) plus a fat, shaggy but natural Abhishek Bachchan in a nice, comfortable 185 INR seat you have paid for 3 hours, and things start feeling good.

But then there's only so much that good looks, bright colours, a skimpily clad Priyanka and lack of worldly worries can get you.

I entered the theatre expecting the crassest of gay jokes and Karan Johar's puppet director, Tarun Mansukhani (I actually had to do an IMDB search for the director's name less than 3 hours after I left the theatre) didn't bother to prove me wrong. Gays have been shown throughout the movie in the exact same stereotypical manner as we have seen in Kal Ho Na Ho (another of Karan's ex-minion directed it), Honeymoon Travels Pvt. Ltd. and parts of Fashion and Page 3. The problem is these movies depict gays/homosexuals as sex maniacs, because the way they are shown to get attracted to the same sex characters is a mockery. We never see a hero or a heroine lusting like a fool for a girl or a guy (resepctively) as the gay characters are shown in our movies.

The story is based on the wafer thin plot of two men (straight) Abhishek Bachchan and John Abraham are looking for an apartment in Miami and they both like only one particular apartment where Priyanka Chopra is staying. Priyanka's aunt Sushmita Mukherjee will not let men stay there and so they decided to act as gays. The rest of the story is a predictable chain of gay jokes and some situational comedies, which I will again confess did give me a few good laughs, intermittently. Then the jokes became an overload, and the 'best friends' fell in love with the same girl. What would have been an otherwise normal love triangle ended up being even more confused with the infusion of the most wooden character ever award winner, Bobby Deol. He played the part of Priyanka Chopra's boss and lover to perfect imperfection. The rest you can see for yourselves.

As mentioned earlier Priyanka Chopra was sizzling hot, the best that comes to my mind in a long long time. John Abraham without a doubt was the male counterpart of Ms. Chopra and sure had the girls drooling over him, but he had the weakest role cut out for him and he took his revenge by showing no emotion at all, throughout the movie. Abhishek Bachchan looked conspicuously unattractive in contrast to his other two co-stars, but was a notch above his male lead as far as performance goes. He tickled your funny bone now and then, and gave the impression he was thoroughly enjoying himself. Actors like Boman Irani and Kiron Kher were as usual wasted for 10 minute slapstick roles, but even in that timespan both of them managed to hold your attention.

Vishal-Shekahr's music no doubt is catchy and the 'Desi Girl' and and 'Jaane Kyun' tracks will linger for longer than most songs that release these days. Otherwise the editing department could have worked a bit harder in the second half and cut some repetitive gay jokes. No questions raised about the sets and background, KJo wanted colours, glamour and a lavish background and it was present in every frame.

On the whole it's a movie which doesn't manage to touch any of your heartstrings, and perhaps was not even meant to. One which deals with a subject like homosexuality in the same old insensitive and ridiculous manner as has many movies before it. But does manage to stop you from stepping out midway through the screening.

Overall rating: 5.5/10

Monday, November 10, 2008

Dear Dada

Dear Dada,

It's been a slightly hectic journey, and you must be a bit tired at the moment. But just before you hang up those boots which were quarantined in New Zealand, and plunge full time into the machher jhol-bhat business on Park Street, we wanted to take a moment of your time and thank you.

Anandabazar Patrika & The Telegraph would like to thank you for increasing their Sports page advertisement rates since that summer evening of '96 when you and Rahul started what is now called the Golden Era of Indian batting. All of us, students during the late 90's would like to thank you for those 4 man of the match awards in Toronto, because it was only because of those nights we got permission to watch cricket till as long as we wanted since then. The selectors and some long-retired players would like to thank you for helping them be in the news all the time by just saying a few nasty things about you. And for those who wanted a bit more they even found themselves sculpted as 'ashura' during Durga pujas over the years.

We would like to thank you for that innings in Taunton which heped us overcome an otherwise forgettable '99 World Cup outing in England. The lovers & elopers woud like to thank you by showing them how to jump over walls and win your lady love and take the dulhaniya away. Thank you for halting a billion 'man-Sunday evenings' a few March-es ago, and even if Ponting lifted the cup you instilled the belief in the billion Indians. And last week when a coloured American was delivering his acceptance speech at Grant Park we felt the same goose bumps we felt when you did that Salman Khan dance at the temple of the white man's game.

Finally Dada, we thank you for instilling the belief in us once again of not giving up. Of never giving up. Even if that meant taking digs at yourself and urging the nation to drink a cola drink and listening to Dada's words while the sharks were eating him up.

It's been a long walk to the pavillion, one which took 16 years to complete, but it left behind the cricketing world with one of those personalities who don't take too long from transforming from one of the greatest cricketers to a legend and a myth.

Thank you Dada. Will miss you.

Monday, November 03, 2008

CAT De India

They say every day is not a Sunday, definitely not the third Sunday of November. This day decides India's fate every year. The great Indian middle class dream is up for grabs for two to three hours on this day.

Whether you become a part of the all conquering India Inc. or spend another year trying to multiply two numbers with three digits following the decimal point in less than two point four seven seconds is decided on this day. Your entry into the steel and glass world of Euros, Yens and laptops is decided by your ability to understand the pathos of a character from an excerpt from a management story and relate it to the feelings of an eskimo after he has bought his latest refrigerator. Is he happy that he has a new item to flaunt? Or is he flaunting his happiness at the new acquisition? Or is it a blend of both emotions? Did you say (a)? Or was it (b)? You better be sure because in the difference lies your anonymous existence and the key to the brave new India.

How do you expect someone to handle the declining sales of a company in times of recession such as this, unless she could blurt out the volume of a pyrimad on a spherical object in less time than a computer, ten years back? You thought the last sentence was convoluted with an intention of propelling you into the orbit of uncertainty and gloom? Ha! Your comprehension abilities are many notches below what is required to add up cells in Excel with the help of your Executive Assistant. You are not welcome to the 'club'.

Frankly, you tell me, which sane person will employ you in an organisation if you don't know the differences between chutzpah and chiroprocter? Or is it chiropractor? Well, there goes my chance!

If MBA is religion CAT is baptism. Baptism by fire as many would say. As a friend's dad recently mentioned about the i-banking crash, "It was but natural for the crash to shake up the world. After all these years all these super brain MBAs finally did something for the world as a whole to take notice."

For all of my friends and others trying to 'bell the CAT' (the winner of the most cliched Indian expression, 7 years running), I wish you all the best. May the MBA Gods smile approvingly upon your DI, PS and VA questions on the third Sunday of November.

P.S: been there, haven't done that it. Took the test a few years back and couldn't divide numbers fast enough. So feel free to call it sour grapes or half baked wisdom:)
Sent from my BlackBerry Wireless Device

Cashing In The Terror

If there was one thing we required the least amidst the 60 odd blasts in 5 months in India, it was mindless politicizing of the issue. But not expecting our favourite sport to enter at a time when the nation is at it's most vulnerable state is like wishing cops not making some money out of a quick snort.

The veteran Congress leader Digvijay Singh should have known better than making statements like 'Blasts happen whenever BJP is in trouble'. Maybe we should A Wednesday to all these irresponsible leaders. But then again in the land of the Mahatma that doesn't sound quite right. Anybody who has the solution please feel free to leave it as a comment. It will be most appreciated.

Sorry Sir, Didn't Mean To Kill You!

This is one 'gaffe' our forever ridiculed police department could have done without. I mean what do you say when you just kill someone 'by mistake'? The bumbling avuncular (Mama in Indian) cop image now got a sinister tinge to it.

With incidents like this, implementing POTA (which maybe a necessary evil in these times) just becomes that much tougher, and we keep playing the guessing game of which city will be the next target.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

'Smash' Hit!

Looks like all that hoopla over the riches and spoils of the IPL was misplaced afterall. From what we could glean from the various media reports it seemed like these young players could rest on their laurels for the next five years at least and had the markets not crashed then some sane advice and smart investing could have provided them a life with no work and enough income forever.

But either the media, as always, exagerrated or greed is not only unlimited but illogical and violent as well. Or else, how do you justify a player of the IPL winning Jaipur team beating up a truck driver and running away with the truck and fifteen thousand rupees? Yes, a mere fifteen thousand rupees!

Okay, there is one last piece of the jigsaw which can put things to perspective. The cricketer's father is a personal assistant to a state cabinet minister. And now that we have a cocktail of politics, cricket and alcohol I guess things are all fine, we don't need to get worked up.

Relationship Status: It's Complicated!

We all love the rags to riches to stories, sympathise or frown upon the riches to rags ones depending upon the circumstances and if it's a rags-riches-rags-riches yarn then it takes the cake or the bread as you put it.

But this news item perhaps beats them all! Childhood buddy, married at a whim and quickly divorced in 55 hours (smells strongly of some poker bet loss) and now offered a job of a butler!

Maybe it's because of people like Jason that Facebook has the 'It's complicated' option as a relationship status.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Fashion - Review

If the first few scenes are more realistic takes from Bunty Aur Babli, then the body and soul of the movie is heaviy borrowed from Laga Chunari Main Daag and Page 3. After Chandni Bar, Page 3 and to some extent Traffic Signal expectations from Madhur Bhandarkar's latest movie were high to begin with. And maybe that's what ended being it's bane as compared to the previous projects this one is definitely a lot less fresh, hard hitting and rivetting.

The story is extremely predictable after watching a few teasers itself. Small town girl with big modelling ambitions goes to Mumbai. Gets noticed by the men and women who matter and rises quickly to the top. Along the way she sheds some of the usual morals portrayed in our movies - smoking, drinking, getting touchy-feely and also her attitude turns to arrogance. And as you expect all bad things come to an end and so does her career once she suddenly gets back to her middle class mindset. She loses it much faster than she achieved it all. Writing about the rest will perhaps be a spoiler.

From most other directors this would have been considered a refreshing movies, but Madhur actually disappoints slightly with the use of cliched emotions, sensibilities and props. Some examples would be bad girls smoke and drink, good girls recoil at the taste of wine; bad times signified by black nailpolish compared to the birght red ones during the positive times; good girld recoil at the touch of a male hnd on the shoulders during photoshoots (these are professional models mind you) while bad ones coil up with men in bed; a middle class girl will ultimately get back to her middle class 'uprighteous' roots and so on and so forth.

Two real life incidents were included in the script - Carol Gracias wardrobe malfunction during a fashion show a few years back (don't buy the tickets just for this, the 'intersesting' part was blurred out) and the story of Geetanjali Nagpal, the model who was found begging in the streets of Mumbai as a result of getting into drugs. The maker has categorically said that no parts of the movie are based on real life incidents but he could well have done without that obviously false disclaimer. Both of these were filmed on the same character played by Kangana Ranaut and it must be said she put up a watchable performance.

Continuing with the actors, most of them have put up decent performance with the requisite eccentricities the roles of 'fashion-world people' demanded. Arbaaz Khan, Kitu Gidwani, Samir Soni, Ashwin and Harsh Chhaya did justice to the somewhat stereotypical roles of a rich, unfaithful fashion magazine owner, head of a model agency, gay fashion designer and another gay fashion designer respectively. The one take away from the movie, if true, is that the Indian fashion world has many times more gays than straight men.

Finally, Priyanka Chopra has delivered a very strong performance. Very reminiscent of Rani Mukherjee in Laga Chunari...So far it was just the body and a lot of luck but after this movie she is a major force to reckon with in Bollywood. And yes, she looked stunning all through the movie.

The editing department definitely has a lot of learning, as the movie could well have been 30 minutes shorter. The music was just some background score, and good at that but nothing more.

On the whole a good watch, 6.5 on 10.