Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Movie Review: Johnny Gaddaar

Given the way Bollywood has failed me in the past few months with any hardly good movies to watch, I thought this was the best time to catch up on movies I have missed on home video. The first one I caught was the Neil Nitin Mukesh starrer, "Johnny Gaddaar".

RED is the colour of passion, the colour of passion and the colour of treachery. The movie is filled up with every frame shot in red. The colour used is for sensational effect and everything in this movie is red even the beanbags, shirts, blankets, mid-burger slices of tomatoes, sitar covers constantly get highlighted and meticulously framed by persistently dull colours around it.

Thankfully, this movie is not shot in black and white or it is not made on a computer but still the way the director Sriram Raghavan dabs the red colour and assimilates it is just awesome. The cinematography is masterfully executed and is a perfect example of a fast-paced thriller. Funky lowslung camera angles to a kickass old school title sequence, from a snazzy shot to go to interval to the edgiest soundtrack to arrive in Hindi cinema in ages, Johnny Gaddar is the recipe.

Next, we are introduced to our new kid on the block Vikram (Neil Nitin Mukesh) and the story is set in the next four days. His buddies include Prakash (Vinay Pathak), Shardul (Zakir Hussain), Shiva (Daya Shetty) and they work under the able guidance of Mr. Seshadri (Dharmendra) who are planning a double fortune.

This film is not for the ones who are the mushy-mushy types. There are gory scenes like opening a can of corpses, blood, banknotes, betrayals and of course, the typical Bollywood fights. The action flows and the bullets of a revolver assimilate very beautifully into the story. The film is full of deceptiveness at its peak, there is plenty of brooding between the lines and the lies blends in very well with the theme of this movie.

The acting is top-notch with a really awesome cast for a realistic thriller demands. Vinay Pathak plays this ego-gambler and in a performance that proves that he is beyond the buffoon. Zakir Hussain is okay but Dharmendra talks in English the way only he can. Govind Namdeo is the best choice I would say as the corrupt, code-loving police officer. Rimii Sen, who plays Vinay's wife, doesn't have much to do. The ensemble cast doesn't demand histrionics. The best is of course Neil with his acting. He mostly appears in the film as an eye-candy. Honestly speaking, this guy does look like the cooler, leaner and more cerebral version of Hrithik Roshan. His English dialogues need polish and he needs to open up a bit on his expressions but this is not too testing for him as a role. The story demands a well-placed calm composure, which he delivers strongly.

Johnny Gaddaar is a very clever thriller. A type of movie that delights in having two steps ahead of the characters and then gauging their expectations. The dialogues are smart, chic and snappy coupled with black humour underlining some one-liners, but this is a grim film. There is no need for comedy and I am glad that the filmmaker didn't make a mockery out of this movie. The treatment is awesome, as it is needed for a thriller. Johnny Gaddaar is the coolest film in a really long time and you need to watch it atleast for the songs and Neil.

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Ministers and Public bonded sole to sole

The worst puns in the world were playing out on the news channels over the last few days and the sole reason was Mr. Jarnail Singh, who inspired so many others to follow suit and fling shoes to show their anger against the politicians. Mr. Jarnail Singh calmly threw a sports shoes towards the Home Minister Mr. P. Chidambaram. Of course, the news channels showed the incident from every possible angle, in slow motion, with freezes and the works. Then we saw the closeups of the shoes sitting on a carpet.

The shoe-throwing incident has spurred a series of such incidents and surely has become a nationwide timepass session. After this Jarnail Singh issue, I guess everywhere there have been some people asking if you could throw shoes on whom would you throw: I would say Shahrukh Khan tops the list since he deserves one from me. I just saw one man, who threw a Kolhapuri chappal on the Deshdrohi actor and director. I am really amazed at the way the news channels failed to tap the full potential that the shoe had. Think of it closely. Are you happy with the way the news channels covered the story?

The shoe throwing incident had the potential to hold a spicy discussion programme with an SMS question being, "can you identify the shoe that Jarnail Singh threw on the Home Minister? If your answer is yes or no, please send your answer to us. Three lucky winners will get an opportunity to have their shoes autographed by Mr. Singh and one lucky winner will get an all-expenses paid dinner with him in a five star hotel."

Surely the Dainik Jagran journalist hogged more headlines than the Home Minister himself and he is the one responsible for starting off a new trend for timepass: shoe throwing. Emboldened by his instant celebrity status, we must not forget the innumerable Sikh organizations who might be offering him lots of instant cash to show their solidarity. Many of the common people have actually found the courage to fling shoes at the impotent politicians. Another man who threw a shoe at the Congress politician Navin Jindal didn't get as much as coverage the way Jarnail Singh got. It is discriminatory but what to do, ultimately election coverage is more important than such trivial issues, isn't it?

All shoe-throwers in India must be treated with equal respect. Had I been the President, I would have bestowed them with the Padma Awards. The fallout of the shoe-throwing incident was Jagdish Tytler and Sajjan Kumar were chucked out of the election madness by their respective parties. Jagdish Tytler appeared on almost every news channel blaming it on political conspiracies and also vehemently pleading his innocence.

Monday, 13 April 2009

Encounter with fantasy: Njaan Gandharvan

I had a dream last night. I was imagining myself as a gandharvan. Gandharvans are celestial men who are very good musicians. Their job is to keep the Gods happy with their music in paradise. They are also womanizers, who often get caught. If they are found guilty, they are punished and forced to stay away from paradise and spend a certain time on Earth. The Gandharvans during their stay on Earth keep on doing what they are well known for, seducing women. They seduce women on earth and go back to paradise after the punishment time is over. What an interesting life!! I would love to be one and if it was in my hands, I would have instantly chosen to be one.

This Malayalam movie is about one such Gandharvan and a young college girl Bhama with whom he falls in love with. She goes on a tour to some seaside town and while standing alone in the beach, she gets a statue. The statue is so beautiful and turns into a man at night. This particular Gandharvan is someone who does not enjoy living in paradise and wants to leave everything and live like a normal man on earth. Unlike the usual Gandharvans, he actually falls in love with Bhama and breaks some of the rules that a Gandharvan is supposed to follow. The Gods come to know of this and order the Gandharvan to come back to paradise and face punishment. The Gandharvan is in love with Bhama and he does not want to go back. Did the lovers succeed in their love life or not is the rest of the story.

The movie is lyrical in nature and the scenes are filmed in a normal and realistic manner. Whenever the Gandharvan appears on screen, it is a sight of pure imagination. This is a story of pure fantasy and it is hard to convince someone about a Gandharvan coming and falling in love with a girl on Earth. A slight mistake could screw up the whole story but Padmrajan doesn't leave any room for that, which proves his greatness as a writer and director. Unfortunately, this was Padmarajan's last film as a writer and director. The film has beautiful visuals, good background music, nice dialogues and songs and the characters are well-written and layered. The music of this film are classical based songs and they are rendered flawlessly by Dr. K.J. Yesudas.

Friday, 10 April 2009

Election Blues

India is warming up for another season of elections. This election season really seems to be quite colourful since there are so many layers to these general elections. The phase that India is passing through is going to be a catalyst, with the economic meltdown and the issue of terrorism scaling new heights post 26/11.

In the past few months, I have noticed that general news has just disappeared from the news channels these days. Almost every other news channel has a special agenda to grab eyeballs and almost every news channel seems to focus only on the election. Yes, I do understand that this election is an important one but it shouldn't be so much that it leads to an overdose of election mania. The mania has just lead the media go haywire with every story seeming to have a piece of sensationalism attached to it.

In the recent past, the citizens have become increasingly consciously about their duties. It is no longer only the political parties that contest the elections; it is common to see citizens doing their bit and raising their voices in ensuring that their vote counts. It is also heartening to see that the Jaago Re ads created such a huge impact. Today, it is good to learn that people seem to have realized the fact, "if politics is a dirty game, it is time to clean it up". One has seen a vast change in the attitude after the terror attack in Mumbai, with people hitting the streets and making their elected representatives answerable to them.

The small black dot can bring about the change that we want to see. I agree that my vote is as tiny as a small drop of water in a big blue ocean. The Indian youth have been gearing up for these elections like never before. Earlier with their who-cares? attitude, they would not even cross a polling booth, but now they are actively promoting every citizen's right to vote. A major "get out there and vote" campaign is on to get more and more young people to get that black dot stained on our fingers. One cannot stress enough the role of the youth in the democratic decision-making process.

The parties seemed to have understood this philosophy---most of them are fielding younger candidates and trying out newer modes of publicity to woo Young India. Young India is evidently proving to be Intelligent India. One of my cousins told me that only this generation can reform the democracy and he told me it is necessary for us to vote not for a particular party, but for an individual--irrespective of party affiliation--who is ready to work hard to prove his/her worth.

The change we all want can only come only if we change our attitude and mindset. In these elections, Young India will vote for change, because of them, it is not a concept, it is a duty to their motherland.