English Vinglish Cover Photo,Poster
There are no villains in “English Vinglish”. Only imperfect human beings like you and I, who make that common error of taking loved ones for granted.
Admit it. At some point in our lives we have all felt that if we don’t speak good English, we are not destined to be successful human beings. Imagine a housewife – beautiful, efficient, charming, supportive – and imagine if she looks like, well, Sridevi and still feels she is being taken for granted just because she can’t speak fluent Angrezi.
Shashi’s children find her embarrassing at times. Her husband openly cracks jokes about her accent. Shashi’s husband thinks he’s just being urbane and witty. But it hurts. We see that hurt in Sridevi’s eyes each time she is slighted and snubbed by those whom she loves the most.
We know this world. We know this woman too. Director Gauri Shinde brings to the comfort of the familiar a feeling and flavour of wonderment, discovery and beauty.
“English Vinglish” is a fabulous fable of a woman’s self-actualization. Shabana Azmi used to do such films in the 1970s. The issues in those films about unfulfilled wives were largely socially-defined – infidelity, adultery and betrayal. The betrayal of the unforgettable woman in “English Vinglish” is far less dramatic and therefore much more profoundly deep-rooted.
Shashi breaks up a little every time the three most important people in her life – her husband, daughter and son – crack up at her vernacular accent.
Then comes the chance for redemption. A five-week vacation in the US, a clandestine crash course in English and best of all, a chance to feel wanted and special when a fellow-classmate, a quietly striking French chef, gives Shashi the attention she doesn’t get from her husband.
This is the complete middle-class woman’s fantasy. Go out on your own and find happiness. Shinde wins over the audience at the story level itself. And then as a bonus, she proves herself a master storyteller.
Sure, Shinde gets a tremendous boost from cinematographer Laxman Utekar who captures New York in its quiet mellow state of bustling grace; composer Amit Trivedi’s music simply and fluently melts into the theme and storytelling; and editor Hemanti Sarkar cuts the footage the way Shashi would cut her vegetables, precisely, lovingly and without anxiety.
Finally it’s really the director’s call.
In what I rank as the best debut by a female director since Aparna Sen’s “36 Chowringee Lane”, Shinde imbues a majestic mellowness and an unostentatious glow to the story of Shashi’s coming-of-age saga. Shashi’s ennui is not the in-your-face tragic pathos of Madhabi Mukherjee in Satyajit Ray’s “Charulata” or Shabana in “Ek Pal”. No case-history of domestic torture is built for our heroine. And no, the husband, played by Adil Hussain, brilliant in a thankless role, is not a cad sneaking into another woman’s bed.
The narration doesn’t try to pin its resplendent protagonist’s life down to boomarked vignettes suggesting a violent need to be liberated from her domestic life. It’s all very routine, recognisable and familiar.
The miracle of watching “English Vinglish” confer such a supple and contoured shape to Shashi’s life is attributable to the director’s high-concept theme and treatment. Shinde abhors overstatement. You hardly ever see Shashi break down. And so when the awards fall into Sridevi’s lap at the yearend the nomination clip won’t be the woman who suffers wracking trauma stereotype.
Nope. This woman is far more special than the bored housewives who look for an alibi to burst into their own version of ‘Kaaton se kheench key yeh aanchal’ to justify their succulent bites into the forbidden fruit. Sridevi simply sinks into the Big Apple, biting off juicy mouthfuls of New York’s sobering cultural grace absorbing the cultural shock with a dignity that films about journeys tend to undervalue. Not this one.
“English Vinglish” a delectable geographical and emotional journey undertaken with a refreshing absence of bravura and selfcongratulation.
Much of Shashi’s inner power comes from Sridevi owning the role. This actress simply vanishes into her character living every breath of Shashi’s voyage from laddoo-making to self-actualisation. The journey is so excitng for us the audience because we feel a new world of experiences unravel for Shashi even as she savours the newness of it all.
Sridevi is the film’s backbone. To her good fortune, and ours, the film is supported by a uniformly impeccable cast. Hardly ever in recent times have I seen so many wonderful performers in one film who don’t seem to ‘perform’ at all. Whether it’s Shashi’s immediate family, or her sister’s family in the US, and her classmates at the coaching institute – every character stays with us. Every person populating the plot is vididly sketched.
Finally, of course, this is Sridevi’s film. In the past she has given outstanding performances in awful films like “Nagina” and “Judaai”. Here her inviolable virtuosity and exceptional grace get brilliant support from every department of the film.
Specially memorable are her scenes with her French co-star Mehdi Nebbou who is so splendidly supportive, we forget what a major star he is in France.
Each time the two get passionate and emotional about one another, they speak in their native tongues, certain that their words would not impede the meaning of their thought expression.
Words, this beautiful work of unassuming art tells us, are redundant. More so, when the embodiment of silent eloquence Sridevi needs to express her inner thoughts. She never allows her character to look like a victim. That is the real triumph of “English Vinglish”.
Sublime, subtle, seductive and thoroughly engaging “English Vinglish” is in some ways, a life-changing experience. It turns around the male gaze, making patriarchal tyranny seem like an acceptable tradition that we never thought we needed to break. With oodles of persuasive charm, the director breaks down the bastion of male pride with a film that generations will look back on with affection. As for the incandescent Sridevi, was she really away for 16 years? She makes the contemporary actresses, even the coolest ones, look like jokes with her flawless interpretation of a woman who seeks only respect because love, she already has.
Flaws? Yes one. Amitabh Bachchan’s cameo, interesting as it is, overstays its welcome. Actually Shinde plays the Big B the best possible compliment in the opening credits: “100 Years Of Indian cinema 70 Years Of Amitabh Bachchan.”
To that we can add, a good 40 years of Sridevi. If you watch only two films every year make sure you see “English Vinglish” twice!
Rush Cover Photo
Ouch, the TV channels won’t be flattered. “Rush”, like Ram Gopal Varma’s “Rann” three years ago, rushes into the cut-throat world of TRP-driven competition among news channels where news, if not discovered is created in the newsroom. So Varma told us in “Rann”.
And now late director Shamin Desai’s “Rush” takes us into the ostensibly murky chatroom politics of newchannels where news-baron Roger Khanna (Aditya Pancholi, unintentionally hilarious) gets reporters, civilians, politicians and criminals bumped off to make news. Just like that.
Far-fetched, yes. But “Rush” has its adrenaline rushing moments in the second half when the narrative picks up momentum and moves steadily towards a climax that is not entirely edge-of-the-seat. But certainly the popcorn on your lap is likely to ignored for a bit as ambitious crime reporter Sam Grover (Emraan Hashmi) gets sucked into a web of crime created by his over-reaching dangerously-connected boss.
“Rush” is not the first film about a young ambitious professional losing moral and ethical equilibrium to attain success. Recently, we had Kunal Khemu in “Blood Money” and Paoli Dam in “Hate Story” reaping the bitter fruits of their savage harvest.
More closely, “Rush” resembles Goldie Behl’s “Bas Itna Sa Khwaab Hai” where Abhishek Bachchan got trapped into a glamorous web of grime by media baron Jackie Shroff. Sushmita Sen had played the suave chic assistant to Jackie who took Abhishek under her sexy wings. In “Rush” it’s Neha Dhupia, every bit as suave and chic as Sushmita, playing the media baron’s right-hand woman who gets too close to Emraan for comfort. And yes, they even share a furtive kiss in a long-shot to ensure Emraan’s hardcore following doesn’t commit suicide.
“Rush” does have its sluggish chunks in the storytelling. But the narrative gathers strength from the basic plot structure where a television journalist is shown to be on the run. Some of the chase sequences are expertly done. And the whole theme of the newsmaker’s descent into compromised journalism makes for some riveting moments.
While many of the characters are sketchy, some like the sharp-shooter (played by Murli Sharma) who befriends our journalist-hero provide the plot with a spicy if not completely pungent propulsion.
The entire episode after the murder of Emraan’s journalist-friend Rikin (played by TV actor Alekh) makes for absorbing viewing.
Emraan as the backbone of plot performs decently. He has more speaking lines and less kissing to do here than in all his recent films. Whether the verbosity actually translates into something substantial or not is debatable.
“Rush” has the bone though not enough meat to make for a juicy fare on the excesses of television journalism. It leaves you wondering what director Shamin Desai would have done with his film making career had he lived
Student Of The Year Cover Photo
After love your parents message, Karan Johar now talks about loving your friends in his latest film “Student Of The Year” (SOTY).
“Student Of The Year” is light and fluffy, yet full of substance. The lead threesome – Varun Dhawan, Siddharth Malhotra and Alia Bhatt – are adorable.
The narrative goes back and forth in a similar fashion that was witnessed in “Jaane Tu… Ya Jaane Na”. School friends meet after a decade of leaving school when they come to meet their dean, Yogendra Vashisth (Rishi Kapoor) who is unwell and recap their final year in school.
They studied in St. Teresa, a formidable school where kids of rich and famous mingle with hardworking scholars. The contrast is evident when the have-nots are at the beck and call of the creme de la creme.
The rich and flamboyant, Rohan Nanda (Varun Dhawan) is the heartthrob of the school. Shanaya (Alia Bhatt) is his taken for granted girlfriend. Life is hunky dory, till Abhimanyu Singh (Siddharth Malhotra) enters.
SOTY is quite unpredictable. Instead of the regular cliched rivalry, here are two friends who bond together, till circumstances push them away.
For those who are not into teenybopper may find the film dragging in parts. It’s only post-interval when the competition for the Student of the Year Award hots up that the viewer is glued to his seat. The pace of the film picks up and we wonder who will walk away with the coveted trophy?
The film emits Karan Johar’s pink humour in plenty.
Rishi Kapoor as the gay dean with a roving eye and soft corner for sports coach, played by Ronit Roy, is fabulous. The scene where he throws the ‘dafli’ at the coach’s wife during the sangeet ceremony of Rohana’s brother is thoroughly enjoyable.
The camera does not miss any opportunity to capture the best of the male leads Siddharth and Varun, with their six-pack abs et al. A treat for the eyes of many.
In terms of performances, all the three debutants are confidence personified. Siddharth is a bit stiff in certain scenes, whereas Alia Bhatt obviously has acting in her genes. But it is Varun Dhawan who steals the show with his charismatic and endearing performance. He is spontaneous and an elegant dancer.
Niranjan Iyengar’s dialogues have their moments. With puns and rhymes, he wows the audiences.
Alia’s dialouge that her marriage will not be decided by ‘rab’ (god in Punjabi), but at the rich wife’s club elicits lots of laughter.
If Rensil D’silva’s screenplay is sleek, production quality is visually appealing, glossy and vibrant. Vishal-Shekhar’s young, peppy and soulful compositions are enjoyable and foot-tapping.
Son of Sardaar Cover Photo
Every time Vindoo Dara Singh, who plays a part of an extended patriarchal Punjabi parivaar in the Sikh heartland, opens his mouth to speak, he is shushed down by others saying, “Silencer lagaa.”
By God, at times you feel this loud, flamboyant, ostentatious yet-all right, admit it-sinfully engaging film should just pipe down. There is so much that’s noisy about this film. And we aren’t talking about Sandeep Chowta’s over-accented background score. Yet it’s never unpleasant noise.
“Son Of Sardaar” takes us into the core of a family feud in Punjab where Sanjay Dutt, playing a goofy oddball of a Panjabi patriarch as only he can, wants our affable Sardarji Ajay Devgn dead to fulfil an ancestral vendetta.
The IQ level of every character in this film is way below average. Every man in Ashwani Dhir’s world of belligerent bloodbaths is more daft than the previous. The women are slightly more intelligent, though our leading lady Sonakshi Sinha, photogenic as she is, has begun to get repetitive in her chirpiness. Juhi Chawla, as the woman who waits 25 years to marry Sanjay Dutt and then finally tells him, “Sorry, I don’t want to build my mandap over the grave of another woman’s love”, is also intellectually challenged.
The smartest character in this smarter-than-the-characters film is played by Tanuja who, as the matriarch, feigns senility whenever it suits her.
The men around her make it easy. They are incorrigibly dumb, you see.
Love it or hate it, “Son Of Sardaar” is what a mainstream Hindi film is meant to be. A full-on masala-maar-ke action-comedy with dollops drama dripping from the edges like wet cheese in a tasty pizza. This is a film which is not just smarter than its character but also much more intelligent than it actually seems.
“Son Of Sardaar” derives its feisty energy from the original Tamil film by S. Rajamouli (“Maryada Ramanna”). The feudal plot is transposed from Madurai to Punjab. With that journey that the plot undertakes the film acquires a whole lot of cocky humour and a kind of eclectic warmth that keeps popping up most unexpectedly.
Providentially, “Son Of Sardaar” turns the vendetta saga on its head. The bloodshed between two warring families is converted into a crisp comic currency where action speaks louder than the words. Director Ashwan Dhir, whose antecedents in television show up here in the episodic movement of the plot, sustains the action, comedy and drama in the same line of vision. Miraculously, the plot moves steadily from mood to mood without seeming scattered. There is space even regular breaks for romance in the narration. Though the songs could have been avoided, the song breaks are pleasant.
By the time the chaos is all sorted out, the narration collapses in an exhausted but triumphant heap.
Some sequences such as Devgn and Sonakshi’s first encounter in the train overstay their welcome. Just like the mehmaan Paresh Rawal in Dhir’s last Hindi film “Atithee Tum Kab Jaoge”, Devgn refuses to leave once he enters Dutt’s family home. The rather eccentric comic strain in the plot hinges on trying to get Devgn out of Dutt’s home to settle an old family score.
While Dutt is more satirical than sinister in his search for vendetta (and that’s what the script requires him to be), Devgn’s Sardar act is brilliantly controlled and moderate. He plays the foreign-returned Sikh who is suddenly thrown into a fatuous feud with a sense of wonderment.
The quips about Sardar jokes and Sardar quirks lend a self-deprecating transparency to the character. Ideally, Akshay Kumar would’ve played this part. But Devgn takes the rather dimwitted but affable character to a higher than the goofy plane. This man knows when to act dumb.
Among the truckloads of supporting players, Mukul Dev as an oafish loutish drunkard stands out. But didn’t he play the same character in Samir Karnik’s “Chaar Din Ki Chaandni” not too long ago? Come to think of it, haven’t we visited the Punjabi heartland frequently enough since Imtiaz Ali’s “Jab We Met”? Give this one a chance though.
“Son Of Sardaar” is a rollicking rumbustious wild and wacky action-comedy. It’s a spaghetti-western relocated to Punjab that would keep Devgn’s fans regaled. Even if you are not a big fan of the typical potboiler this one makes you smile.
Talaash Cover Photo
Aamir Khan never ceases to surprise viewers. In “Talaash”, he does so quite literally. The succinctly written, complex screenplay, smoothly interlays between the police investigation and personal emotional turmoil of the characters make “Talaash” a nail-biting thriller.
The plot about a police officer Surjan Singh Shekhawat (Aamir Khan) investigating a high profile case of film star Armaan Kapoor’s accidental death keeps you riveted. Alongside the main plot, one gathers that Shekhawat and his wife Roshni (Rani Mukerji), have lost their eight-year-old son Karan in a freak accident in a lake, for which Shekhawat blames himself and lives in guilt.
His investigations constantly lead him to Kareena Kapoor, a prostitute with a good heart, who acts as the ace informer for Shekhawat. Kareena as Rosy, has shades of her earlier “Chameli”, although she makes a conscious effort to be different. She is effective and convincing, touching your heart with the innate goodness of her character, in spite of her circumstances.
The mystery shrouding the case, unravels gradually in a carefully written tight script, with no loopholes. The film is entirely unpredictable, not conforming to the usual approach to thrillers in Bollywood. This one is clearly different and keeps you guessing till the very end.
The climax brings you to the edge of your seat, but leaves you satiated. As the case unfolds, you get your answers from the characters on celluloid. But clearly, Reema Kagti and Zoya Akhtar, the scriptwriter duo, give you much more than just that. They take you through a complete self-exploratory journey and bring you back replete with answers. Farhan Akhtar’s dialogues in colloquial parlance are witty and unleash several underlying messages.
Ram Sampath gives an apt background score, in keeping with the flavour of the film and if anything, only enhances the viewer’s experience. Music in the film otherwise is nothing to write home about, but you’re definitely not complaining. The plot and performances leave no room for frivolities.
Rani Mukerji in her de-glam avatar, is true to her character as the distraught mother. Nawazuddin Siddiqui as Taimur, the lame Man Friday in the brothel doing odd jobs, excels in a superbly written role. Realistic performances and get ups of all the characters, add to the ingenuity of the plot.
The cinematography, though simple, captures the essence of Mumbai. The locales of the city are wonderfully depicted, making those, a character in the film, rather than a mere backdrop.
Devoid of the usual Bollywood masala and gimmicks, this one is a pure treat. Aamir Khan’s fans apart, “Talaash” has the power to grip all cine-goers.
Khiladi 786 Cover Photo
What can be said about a film where a couple named Mili and Bhagat conspire to bring their employer’s empire down?
Mili? Bhagat? Get it?
“Khiladi 786″ is the kind comic orgy done in shades of green, orange and pink, which doesn’t require us to strain our brain. The kicks and grunts, guffaws and chortles, the antics raillery and tomfoolery flow out unstoppered like an uncapped toothpaste tube.
The formula is simple. And stark. Get the audience to laugh at any cost. And some of it does work quite well. Shukriya.
We have a hero. No, make that a super-duper-hero, who flies across the air, pounds automobiles to a pulp with his bare fists, breaks down a jail cell’s stone walls with a flick of his manly fist, gets goofy or gooey-eyed depending on his co-star on screen.
Akshay’s crazily improvised performance as a sham cop borrows dollops from Salman Khan’s “Dabangg” and Akshay’s own “Rowdy Rathore”. The derivative derringdo doesn’t diminish the impact of the italicised antics that range from the arresting to the exasperating.
Sample this. Asin (back in fetching form for the first time since “Ghajini”) loves a lout who is chronically incarcerated. Each time the jailed loverboy (Rahul Singh, well-cast effectively played) is about to be released, he’s sent back packing for some unintentional crime or the other.
Aa ab ‘lout’ chalen?
The script seems to be written by someone who loves Akshay’s humorous heroics and his emphatic but spoofy hijinks. Both the traits are amply accentuated in the script. “Khiladi 786″ ultimately becomes a showcase for its insanely successful superstar hero’s talents. Akshay, as we all know, loves to play the Punjabi Devdas. He did it effectively in Vipul Shah’s “Namastey London”, where he stepped back gallantly to let his wife Katrina Kaif make a fool of herself with an undeserving boyfriend.
Exactly the same triangular situation crops up in the second-half of “Khiladi 786″, when midway through the anarchic hilarity, Akshay decides to play the bleeding teary-eyed martyr “gifting” Asin to the aforementioned jailed jerk.
Mamta Kulkarni in the early ‘Khiladi’ film “Sabse Bada Khiladi” had done the airheaded lovergirl running after the wrong man. Back then, Akshay stood guard over Mamta with the same steadfast loyalty as he does for Asin.
Some things never change in our cinema. Heroines may come and go. Heroes live on forever.
A sense of continuity runs through all of Akshay Kumar’s comedies. He doesn’t do anything here that he hasn’t done before. The trademark goofy grin and the self-deprecating humour are back. Here, the hero is desperate to get married . That’s a sporting part whose subtext screams, ‘Look, I am such a big star and I play a character who can’t get a woman to marry me, ha ha.’
It’s all done in fun, with plenty of unzippered zest and a comforting absence of vulgarity. The ensemble cast, particularly Mithun Chakraborty and Raj Babbar, catches on to the shrill sur of a music that suggests a blend of parody and homage to the Formula Cinema. So, we have long-lost brother of the hero showing up in the climax with a mocking mawkishness that Manmohan Desai would have approved of.
The music by Himesh Reshammiya is splendidly in-sync with the film’s wacked-out mood. He often uses standard background effects from old Hindi films to remind us that we are laughing at conventions that never grew outdated in our cinema.
Oh yes, Reshammiya also plays an important part in the film as a hopeless inept wedding planner. It’s good to see Reshammiya doing a Gujju act. He was born to play Mansukh.
As for Akshay Kumar’s ‘Khiladi’ act, he can do the parodic paces blindfolded. Adding adrenaline to the antics are the crashing, tumbling somersaulting cars, which provide thrills in a very Rohit Shetty way.
Incidentally, one character played by Sanjay Mishra thinks he looks like Amol Palekar. And bursts into “Aanewala pal jaanewala hai” from Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s “Gol Maal”
Dabangg 2 Cover Page
For those who thought Chulbul Pandey in Abinav Kashyap’s “Dabangg” was wacky and fun only because Salman Khan played him, here is more spoof-proof in the sequel of how Salman adopts, embraces and assimilates the characters he plays until one can’t tell the star apart from the character.
This is not to say Salman is a method actor. God forbid! He’s just the opposite. Chulbul Pandey, if ever such a khaki-clad law-enforcer ever, would want to be as chirpy and obnoxious as Chulbul Pandey.
So what does Chulbul do in “Dabangg 2″ that he didn’t do in “Dabangg”? Nothing, and everything. There’s more of everything in the sequel and hence a sense of deja vu.
The fights which begin, end and bolster the plot, are done with that irrepressible mix of guffaws and grunts that Salman patented in Prabhu Deva’s “Wanted”. Indeed it wouldn’t be wrong to say that Prabhu Deva was the father of Chulbul Pandey, in a manner of speaking.
Here of course in “Dabangg 2″ Vinod Khanna is back as Chulbul’s father. The scenes between Salman and his screen-dad are written with a delicious mix of irreverence and affection. There is a hilarious encounter on the rooftop of their Kanpur home where son asks his sleepy, annoyed father about the deceased mother (Dimple Kapadia, a mere photo on the wall in the sequel).
And then Salman leaves in a huff saying, “Mom was right. You’re no fun to sleep with. I am better off sleeping with my wife.”
Ahem. Save the blushes for a rainy day. Salman’s Chulbul gives us no time get bothered with niceties. Chulbul simply sweeps us along into a tidal wave of wackily written and executed action sequences undercut by a sharp sense of self-deprecating humour.
The storytelling is breathless. The characters can’t really keep pace with the breakneck storytelling. They are underveloped and largely kept in the shadows to accentuate the hero’s larger-than-life (though blessedly never larger-than-laughs) persona.
Sonakshi Sinha, of course, enjoys playing the seductress in the shadows. In film after film, she plays the dutiful beloved soul-mate to the macho-hero. And really, her sartorial styling and the designer sarees and backless blouses in a film that pays a lot of attention to mofussil modes is way-way-way over the top. It’s hard to see her expressions beyond the eyeshadows.
That reminds me…Sonakshi shares the shadows with Arbaaz Khan who as Chulbul Pandey’s brother is delightful daft and goofy.
The villains have a coherent voice (never mind their livid screaming) and more space to develop as characters. The plot goes into spasms of explanation as to why one of the villains Niktin Dheer needed to take off his shirt in the climax .Really, Salman’s shirtless act needs no accompaniment.
Prakash Raj does his usual snarling sneering arch-villain act, no surprises here. Deepak Dobriyal who gets to die in a rather gruesome way in the irate Chulbul’s hands, is sharp and cutting in his brief role. Some of Salman’s subordinates in the police station are also engaging.
But make no mistake. This film belongs to Chulbul alias Salman from the first frame to the last. Salman goes through the motions without any punctuation except a string of exclamations. While the other characters remain dutifully tenuous, Chulbul’s comic-book valour is highlighted unapologetically.
“Dabangg 2″ takes off effortlessly from the first frame creating a wackier, wilder, wittier saga than “Dabangg” woven around Chulbul Pandey’s agile, anarchic antics.
Though the plot is written in half-hearted measures leaving many episodes including the climax looking incomplete, the film is loads of lowbrow fun with some peppy songs by Sajid-Wajid which are filmed with an earthy gusto. Aseem Mishra’s camera looks at life in “Kanpur” through wide-eyed lenses that stare unabashedly at the characters’s quirks.