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Dabangg – Movie Review

You got to give him credit.  In a time when actors are trying to act smarter than their pants, pass off retarded roles like meaningful cinema, and then shamefully collect awards given by an equally retarded jury, this man does what he does best.  He is a STAR (all caps) and is not embarrassed in playing one.  The result may or may not appeal to everyone but he doesn’t care.  Not that Dabangg is flawless, but it doesn’t pretend to be either.

There is a worrying trend however.  Once a movie does well, the entire team, teams up to do another similar sort of movie.  The feel is the same, the actors are the same, the genre is the same and after a few years while watching these movies on TV, you might confuse one for the other.  They may name it the same adding 1, 2 or 3, like the Golmaal series, or they may give it a different name but the attempt is almost the same; for instance, a host of Priyadarshan movies – De Dana Dan, Dhol, Bhagam Bhag Hulchul, Hungama etc. 

Buoyed by the success of Boney Kapoor’s Wanted, Arbaaz Khan as producer attempts a Wanted Part 2 with Dabangg.  But Dabangg is a poor chinese remake in comparison to Wanted.  The problems are plenty; Dabangg doesn’t enjoy the freshness of Wanted since we’ve already seen something like this last year.  Wanted at least had some semblance of a story or script.  Actually, the twist in Wanted was one of the high points of the movie.  Dabangg has neither.  And the biggest problem with Dabangg is the Bad guy.  Sonu Sood just doesn’t cut it in the role of the Villain.  In Wanted, there was the slimy Inspector Talpade played by Mahesh Manjrekar who did inspire hate and it was fun when Salman pulled one on him.  Even the bigger bad guy – Gani Bhai seemed a toughie and with a sense of humor as well.  Sonu Sood as Chedi Singh is just too soft and you just wait for the time when Salman will bash him up.  The story about pitting brothers against one another is just showy coz. all of this is irrelevant.  The movie is only and only about Salman Khan.  So, I guess, the staunch Salman Khan fans won’t really complain about these petty nuances.

The music is also quite hummable and ‘Munni Badnam’ and ‘Tere mast mast do nain’ are very good reasons to get the album. 

The direction by Abhinav Kashyap (yes, this is Anurag Kashyap’s brother) is passable and not really important since most of the movie is Action sequences.  Vijayan Master does a commendable job with action here just like he did with Wanted.  The difference however is that the action in Wanted was dead serious.  Here it tries to be funny and thus loses its edge.  Neither is there a single action sequence that really stands out or stuns you.  It is all predictable bang, bang.  When I think action by Salman, I think Veergati or Karan Arjun.  He looks deadly when he is actually serious.  Action isn’t really fun when it is funny.

To sum it up, I wouldn’t really recommend it unless you can just watch Salman Khan doing whatever he likes [or if you’re in India on vacation and have nothing else to do :)].  And I really hope it doesn’t do very well or else we’ll be forced to watch another Wanted Part 3 next Eid.

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(Humble request: To be taken with a pinch of salt)

Ok, I’ve been tagged by Deeps, Hitchy and Masood, been dropped hints in comments and even threatened to take up this tag.  Why did I just not do the tag?  Well believe it or not, I was trying to be nice to the women folk all around reading my blog.  But since you asked for it, here are few of the things I might have done which I feel are so womanly 😛 

  1. I get bored of chess very easily.  I feel, it’s unnecessary to use my brains too much;
  2. Sometimes I’m in this mood where I’m frustrated for no reason and I make a fuss about the most trivial of things;
  3. On some days, just to get back, I irritate my wife by asking her to keep reminding me how much she loves me… every 5 minutes;
  4. And if she’s out of the house, I keep calling her every half an hour to check whether she’s hungry and remind her to keep drinking water;
  5. Sometimes I just hate it when my wife praises her dad;
  6. And sometimes, I am such a pathetic driver.  I don’t give indicators, am not sure of where I really want to go and meander along leisurely on the highway; Once even my car shouted at me to wake up and drive;
  7. I love gossip and I love reality tv;
  8. Sometimes, I don’t get intelligent jokes.  I keep waiting for the punch line… and then people around me start laughing;
  9. I spend 40 dollars for my haircut;
  10. On some days, I just feel so dumb.

Phew.  Now let the brickbats begin.  But before you leave this blog with a promise to never return again, please continue to read.  Whatever I’ve written above is just a silly joke.  It was just that I had read this tag so much and by the time I turned around doing it, almost all the ‘cool’ womanly traits like “I love cooking” and “I love pink shirts” had been taken.  So, instead of making it vanilla plain, I tried making it funny.  If you find this humor sick, please let this post pass, and don’t hold it against me.  Trust me, I do not believe any of the above traits to be strictly womanly (except maybe the one about not getting intelligent jokes! Oh ok, not again, sorry).

And also, I’m not tagging anyone coz. everyone has done it.  Please send me the pink shirts that were promised. Thanks.

Raavan – Movie Review

Unbearably loud, horrendously tacky and incomprehensibly silly is how I would describe Raavan in short.  But if short doesn’t do for you, read on…

Unbearably Loud:  Right from the first scene, the sound or rather noise of beating drums starts getting to you.  And then, loud is not only about the noise, the movie is even loud in its appearance, ABHISHEK’S (BEERA’S) MADMAN EXPRESSIONS, AISHWARYA’S (RAGINI’S) SCREECHING, VIKRAM’S (DEV’S) NATHULAL MOUSTACHE, almost everything in the movie SCREAMS at you.  The blaring continues right through to the end, it isn’t reserved for some special scenes.  It is just out and out blaring from start to finish.  There isn’t a moment of respite, not a moment.  There’s a slight hint of peace in a flashback scene between Ragini and Dev but even that is edited in 5 second parts regularly coming back to the present to include the unbearable noise. 

Horrendously Tacky: Santosh Sivan, for one, known for his ability to cover tremendous landscapes (remember Roja) seems to have just one task:  Forget about everything else, focus on the faces.  The cinematography suffers from an overdose of close shots, hand held unstable shots (which especially feels unbearable in action scenes), and lots and LOTS OF RAIN.  He has just worked on the entire film without a wide lens.  In every scene, the FACE occupies 70% of the screen.  Imagine 3 hours of in your face Abhishek who overdoes his long face and bottom lip pout and Aishwarya who overdoes her blue eyes and confused expression with loud drums beating in the background and again… a lot of rain.    There isn’t a single wide lens shot that captures the natural landscape coz. Mani Ratnam just doesn’t want to waver from the first family, or more specifically, their faces. 

Incomprehensibly Silly:  There isn’t a hint of a story in the movie.  If you let go the overdone references to Ramayana, it is just Mani Ratnam’s pretentious version of Road – Remember that movie where a madman (Manoj Bajpai) kidnaps Antara Mali and Vivek Oberoi follows them to get her back; Exactly the same – As silly and as tacky as RGV’s Road.  Just to align it to the Ramayana, there’s a monkey aping Govinda (Sanjeevani), and the unnecessary references to the characters as Raavan and the lie detector test that Dev asks Ragini to take etc.  At least Road didn’t pretend to be serious or an epic and in the process provided a few laughs.  What is disappointing is that at least with Mani Ratnam you do not expect absurdity; I still don’t understand why was Ragini trying to seduce Beera.  The way she looked at him, supposedly angrily, was actually more like seduction.  Dev’s ploy to trick Ragini in going back to Beera is… retarded.  In the climax, an entire special force fires at Beera while Ragini sits below on her knees unharmed by a single bullet.  On top of that, Dev is standing in front of the force while they merrily fire at Beera, from behind him while he’s untouched as well.  And what was Govinda doing in the movie? He doesn’t have a role; other than act as another sorry point of alliance to the Ramayana by his tree jumping antics.

There are bad movies but therein, you can find some respite, some moment that you can speak about or at least a rare fleeting glimpse of what could’ve been a good scene.  But Raavan is entirely incongruous right from the start to the end titles.

(click to open and zoom to see where I’m pointing)

  • German cannot really be a hard language to learn.  Even kids in Switzerland speak German fluently.  (Yeah, I guess now you get the tone of this post)

 

  • India and China seem to be the most prosperous countries and the ones least affected by the recession. 

 

  • More particularly Marwadis and Gujaratis seem to be the most prosperous communities.  And everyone seems to live in Bombay.

 

  • Switzerland as a honeymoon destination seems to have gone down well for second honeymoons rather than firsts.   

 

  • Playing in the snow isn’t that overrated after all.  It is actually fun.

 

  • Staying with the same, natural beauty isn’t that boring to look at.  At times, watching out of the window can be more interesting than reading Angels & Demons.

 

  • On books, in spite of being called the Rakhi Sawant of writers, Karan Bajaj’s ‘Johhny gone down’ was lapped up by me in 2 days straight; and considering that I was in Switzerland on vacation, where I didn’t really have a lot of time for reading a book, this just confirms that I love the Rakhi Sawant types.

 

  • Indian food stalls are a hit wherever you go. 

 

  • And Indians remain their own selves while standing in a queue for a buffet lunch, wherever you go.

 

  • And Indians remain their own smart selves buying their bottles of whiskey from the supermarket and carrying them in their pockets to restaurants, wherever you go.

 

  • Despite being a supposedly Arabic originated snack, Chicken Shwarma is much yummier in Switzerland.  It is called Doner.

 

  • The bigger the group, the more the fun; NRIs are most welcome in Indian groups and Joint families.  And small kids who blabber incessantly can be such ice-breakers.

 

  • Dubai is still an enigma amongst westerners.  For Indians, it is a colony somewhere in their neighborhood.

 

  • If you think people in Switzerland don’t speak a lot of English, you should visit Turkey.

 

  • When you’re drunk, you make a lot more and seemingly lot closer friendships.

 

  • Turkish people are unbelievably sweet with kids.  Unbelievably sweet.

 

  • And finally, the officers and people at the Dubai Immigration have to be the best in the world.  After a long trip and an exhausting night in the plane, it is good when they see you with a baby and make you jump the queue, the immigration officer greets you ‘Good morning Mr. Rakesh, You look sleepy’ with a smile, even do some small talk and also give your wife shopping ideas for your next vacation.  This is the thing about Dubai that makes me feel like I’m back home even when I come back from a trip to India.  Think about it, an Immigration officer is the first impression you have of any foreign country.  Shouldn’t they all be like this?

Last night while watching India bat against West Indies, I was getting this sinking feeling. Actually, it has been a while since I got this feeling. It felt like the 90s and the early 2000s all over again: India choking whenever there is a big match. I know, we can’t win it all but what is disappointing is the manner in which we fold up in big matches.

But then, being the all optimistic Indian that I am, I tweeted this…

“Technically, even if we loose, and the SL & WI loose from Aus by a big margin and India defeat SL, we could still be in the semis”

The rest of the evening, my mind was on Group F run rates and I turned to the cricket channel every now and then to see how SL was faring. Just before going off to bed, I checked the score – SL were 26 for 2… no make that 3 as a Dirk Nennes Yorker just caught Jayasurya plumb in front! Some relief, I thought. I knocked on my brother’s door who was already half asleep and updated him with the score: SL 26 for 3. He in his sleep, still had his brains working and said… ‘Still not possible’. I knew he didn’t mean it. I knew he’d sleep better on hearing this score.

After an hour of churning in the bed, I woke up to have water and again rushed to the TV. I saw the program “Great Centuries”. I was ecstatic coz. this could mean only one thing – SL were all out. I opened up the laptop and checked the score “SL loose by 87 runs”. YIPPPEEEE….. Now I could sleep in peace.

When I woke up at 6.30, my brother was already up and the first words I uttered were “SL 87 All Out”. “Really” he jumped with joy (see I told you). After all, all of us Indians are hopeless romantics, no?

We sat down (without even brushing our teeth, everybody else sleeping and we were getting late for office but all of that could wait) and started discussing the possibilities and the run rates. I checked the sites, got out a calculator and calculated the run rate deficit. We came up with a figure of 40. If India defeats Sri Lanka by 39 runs, we could be in the semis. Tough ask but possible…

Back in office, immersed in files, I got a call from my brother again. He asked, “How did we calculate the deficit of 39?” I explained him the run rate and said that SL is -0.6 and India is -1.58 so if India have to reach -0.6, India need to win by 39 runs… Immediately I realised the error. If India defeats SL, India’s run rate would get better while SL would get worse. So we just need to meet them half way and voila, the all important number comes down to 20. This is huge. I mean, a win against SL by only 20 runs looks quite possible. Especially, considering the fact that Indian batsmen love Sri Lankan bowlers when it comes to big tournaments.

So again we pat each other’s back on reducing India’s target by 20 runs; and get back to work, a tad happier.

But the point of this post is not the important number but introspection over why, are we such hopeless optimists?

This hasn’t happened for the first time. I’m sure all of you Indians reading would realise that this is a very frequent situation wherein India loose the first few games and then we hang our hopes on other teams to win their matches and let us in the next stage. There may be few who might, from the start say, India will be out of the Super 8s but I swear to God, they don’t believe themselves. More often than not, they are saying it only because of a superstition that whatever they say turns out to be false. But we believe, we do believe, that it’s not over till it is over. Why?

Is it the Hindi movies that do this to us? The movies where the Hero (or even Heroine now) always needs a six off the last ball and always hits it? The movies where inspite of being shot a 100 times, the hero does manage to travel half the country and reach the hospital… (all on foot) and survive to wake up fresh the next day, just with a few bandages on his chest?

Is it the 9000 odd Gods that do this to us? We always have someone to go to like even if you’re disappointed by Shiv Bhagwan, someone will tell you of a Devi Mata’s temple where if you go barefoot, your prayers will be answered? And then there’ll be a special temple of Bajrang Bali. If that doesn’t work, try Hajipir and so on and so forth…

Or is it that old dingy song that we used to sing in school that has stuck… “Hum honge kaamyab

I mean, seriously, what is it?

(Btw, 20 is indeed that all important number for the next two days)

Have you noticed lately, how weird the world has become? Or was it always like that and I’ve just woken up…

If the circus over the Shoaib Sania wedding was not enough, their reception in Pakistan was just more of it. Supposedly, the Punjab government has a rule which restricts serving of more than 1 dish at weddings. This ban is imposed as a part of austerity measures… Dude, seriously, who thought of this brilliant idea? Like what’s next? Banning the number of meals you have at home, banning the quantity of food you can order at restaurants… Now you brilliant minds of our neighboring government (well, so you also see that governments are the same, be it any country), I’ll give you another brilliant idea to enforce this rule. Why not limit the quantity of shit you can pass out of your drainage? So you just block the guy’s drainage system once he’s passed the maximum amount of shit allowed to him. That’s to ensure that nobody flouts the rules of over-eating as well. Coz. if you put a limit on maximum possible output, the people will have no option other than restricting their input. Every time, that dude puts a morsel in his mouth, he’ll be thinking of the conversion rate of that food to shit. Brilliant, innit?

You ever been to a food court?  Yeah and you ever got that feeling, you want to eat everything all at once.  You end up ordering a veg. burger from McDonalds, 2 pieces chicken from KFC and pani poori from Bombay Chowpaty.  At the end of your meal, you feel like the chicken piece that you’d eaten was a vegetarian who had eaten pani poori just before he was slaughtered.  Paatshala is like that feeling.  At least after that kind of meal, you get some entertainment playing ‘Guess what did I have for dinner?’ game, every time you burp.  With Paatshala, I’m still guessing @#$%$ “What the F@#$ was it all about???

Seriously, this movie seems to be like a typical house wife’s grocery shopping trip.  Milind (Director) says to Hanif (Writer) “Dude, did you try this new education subject.  My wife tells me it’s really nice.  She saw TZP and 3 idiots really liked them.”  Hanif sets out in the supermarket and first gets Education from the subject shelf. 

Later in the story maker section, he enters the key word “Education” and clicks on the FIND RELATED THEMES button.  He gets a whole lot of results – Children, Teenage romance, crush on teachers, typical accent teachers, school fees rising, profession vs. commercialization debate, talent hunts, reality TV shows for kids and a whole lot of similar stuff.  He clicks on buy all for special price…

You have Shahid as a school teacher, Ayesha Takia as another, Nana Patekar as the ethical principal, a whole bunch of child actors – the Fanaa boy, the Cheeni Kum girl, the Balika Vadhu girl and they don’t even have proper characters or roles.  The popular Balika Vadhu girl doesn’t even get a single dialogue on screen.  Few cute teenagers as well are in there but just like passing sideys, I don’t even remember any of their names in the movie.  That’s why I say it is like a housewife’s shopping trip.  The director put in everything in the bag not having any proper role for any of them.

And this was just the beginning of clichés; the hero’s name is Rahul, he teaches music, rather holds the guitar as a mannequin and it strums itself, sings songs, makes the entire school happy, girls have a crush on him, teaches cool handshakes to everyone from students to stuck-up geography and hindi teachers… and all this in the first 10 minutes in a happy song.  An ugly kid doesn’t have any friends; the PE teacher is always punctual and carries a stop-watch everywhere; the peon is the good old Wagle (Wagle ki duniya), the principal is ethical, the school trustees are money minded, even the school’s name is “Saraswati Vidya Mandir” and what else could be the movie’s name – Paathshala.  You see, how original everything is.

And listen to this, the writer forgot to pick a music director from the supermarket so he himself makes up some ordinary songs.

There’s no purpose, there’s no flow in the script and no sense to the whole hullabaloo on screen.  And if that’s not enough, the climax is a 5 minute long lecture by the righteous principal about education, commercialization of schools yada yada yada.   It’s so bad, you can’t even doze off.