Thursday, October 20, 2011
While Bollywood is fanatical about mega-budgets, top stars and international locales, Nagesh Kukunoor, by and large, looks the other way. Low costs, absence of big stars, sleepy and secluded locations [except 8 x 10 TASVEER and BOMBAY TO BANGKOK]… Kukunoor has made movies that may not really boast of gargantuan budgets, but have stories that linger in your memory. You expect MOD, his new outing, to live up to the expectations as well. MOD sprints energetically initially, but runs out of breath as it reaches the finale.
In one of my earlier interviews, Kukunoor had stated very categorically that he would never attempt a love story. He contradicts himself this time, for MOD is a love story and if that's not enough, it's an official remake of a Taiwanese film CHEN SHUI DE QING CHUN aka KEEPING WATCH. A love story is no safe bet. Bollywood is known for churning out prem kahanis or teeny bopper romances with amazing regularity, but the challenge lies in breaking the clutter and telling a tale that's dew-fresh and heart-warming.
MOD is an emotional love story of two completely mismatched people -- a genre Kukunoor has never tackled earlier. In fact, in his earlier movies, love was a part of the main plot, but it's the central theme this time. MOD boasts of an interesting idea and even Kukunoor's mature handling of the material needs to be lauded, but the film suffers for two reasons -- it unfolds at a sluggish/lethargic pace and is prolonged.
Aranya [Ayesha Takia Azmi] lives in the sleepy and idyllic hill station, Ganga. One day, a stranger, Andy [Rannvijay], lands up at her watch repair store to have his watch fixed. He is painfully shy, but keeps returning day after day to have his water-logged watch repaired. As payment, he leaves a 100 rupee note in the form of a swan. Aranya slowly warms up to this quirky stranger and through a series of meetings, they fall in love. But who is Andy? And what is his past?
Kukunoor has mastered the art of telling a story adroitly and his choice of the subject is also appropriate. For an average viewer, the identity of Rannvijay does come as a surprise, but MOD leaves you with mixed feelings. Certain sequences are delightful, but awfully extended. Some parts could have just been left out on the editing table. Some sequences don't add much value to the goings on and end up disrupting the flow of this movie.
Cinematography [Chirantas Das] is truly eye-filling. The locations are mesmeric. The songs [Tapas Relia] are a deterrent and the fact that the music hasn't caught on makes it worse.
Ayesha Takia Azmi sparkles yet again in MOD. A truly wonderful performance! Contrary to his image, Rannvijay is cast as a sweet, quirky, sensitive, geeky guy here. And not just the character, but also his performance takes you by surprise. He nails it right this time. Raghubir Yadav is, as always, dependable. Tanvi Azmi shines as well. Anant Mahadevan is first-rate. Rushad Rana does well. Nikhil Ratnaparkhi excels. Prateeksha Lonkar appears in a cameo.
On the whole, MOD appeals in bits and spurts. That's about it!
Review by Taran Adarsh
Yash Raj Films are synonymous with love stories, and with their second release from newly launched youth division Y-Films, the production house stick to what they know best: a story about love.
A romantic comedy set against the backdrop of social networking, Mujhse Fraaandship Karoge tells the tale of two losers, Vishal (Saqib Saleem) and Preity (Saba Azad) who fake their online identities in an attempt to get the attention of drop dead gorgeous Malvika (Tara D’Souza) and rockstar Rahul (Nishant Dahiya). What they do not realize, is that the person they hate most in the real world, just happens to be the same person they have fallen in love with online.
So, the premise for the season’s most screwed up love story, is: Rahul loves Malvika. And Malvika loves Rahul. But Rahul is not Rahul. Rahul is Vishal. And Vishal loves Malvika too. But Malvika is not Malvika either. Malvika is Preity. And Preity loves Rahul. But Preity hates Vishal. And Vishal hates Preity. Got it? Good.
From the opening scene with a naked guitarist gone viral, it is clear that director Nupur Asthana – previously known for cult TV shows like Hip Hip Hurray and Mahi Way – is firmly targeting the 18-30 demographic. MTV style jump cuts, speeded up segments and innovative camera angles, do not let us forget that this is a film for the youth.
We have a vague plot centered on a college project to celebrate the founder’s day of the college. Add to that a cast of shiny, happy students, in a campus where seemingly everything takes place except the small matter of study. Throw in shirtless boys and debut heroines not yet at the ‘no-bikini-clause-in-my-
contract’ stage of their career, and wash it down with copious amounts of tequila and a thumping background score. And there you have it, all the ingredients necessary for a sweet, zesty film.
Asthana scores bonus points for tapping into the language of young, urban India. So people are ‘despo’ and things are ‘obvo’. A ‘Jawaani Booty Booty’ (don’t ask, just watch) MMS scandal and a ‘BRB’ Facebook status announcing the intermission, will appeal to those always on Facebook – day and night.
As anyone in Bollywood will tell you, launching not one – but four newcomers – is a big risk. Here we have no established stars to support the debut actors, as YRF had tried previously with Shah Rukh Khan and Amitabh Bachchan in Mohabbatein. Nor have we taken the star offspring route Karan Johar is currently travelling down in his forthcoming Student of the Year.
When you are banking on newcomers, one of the key attractions that get you into the cinema in the first place, is the kick-ass promo backed by even more kick-ass songs.
With indie musician Raghu Dixit onboard as composer, Mujhse Fraaandship Karoge has created a soundtrack to rival the popularity of ‘Pappu Can’t Dance’ (Jaane Tu… Ya Jaane Na), and the I Hate Luv Storys title track. ‘Dheaon Dheaon’, a tribute to the South Indian street music form of Dappan Koothu, has been given a fusion feel with hip-hop and rap influences. Sung by Vishal Dadlani and Aditi Singh, the song is already a hit across music channel platforms. ‘Uh-Oh Uh Oh!’ is charming and likeable, picturised with a funky choreographed campus dance. ‘Chhoo Le’ brings Suraj Jagan belted out vocals into a modern twist on the classic stadium rock track.
As is de rigueur for every Yash Raj release post Bunty aur Babli, we are also treated to a bonus track, in the form of a karaoke version of ‘Kajra Re’ sung in the back of a speeding rickshaw.
Performance wise, Saqib Salim as loser Vishal gets my vote. Nishant Dahiya delivers a confident debut as the equally confident Rahul. Katrina Kaif fans will see something of the star in Tara D’Souza (an identikit accent for starters), while Saba Azad brings the cuteness of Genelia to the table. Pay close attention to how Preity goes through a post-interval metamorphosis. Graduating from checked shirts and hideously oversized jeans (1974 called and wants its denim back), to a sleek and sophisticated conventional Bollywood heroine look.
Without giving the movie away, the climax – all about love, pyaar, ishq, mohabbatein – ties up the story so that everything is as it should be, and everyone is with who they should be. The final reels have fun with a photo story montage, and seem to do the trick of preventing the audience of rushing en masse to the exit sign before the movie is properly over.
In the pre-Diwali rush to release everything and anything before the arrival of a certain Shah Rukh Khan sci-fi project, Mujhse Fraaandship Karoge jostles for a place in the crowded box office with four other releases. While its target audience will get it, and in urban centres the movie should do well, non-multiplex audiences, however, might literally not connect with this love story.
On the whole, BollySpice is quite happy to make fraaandship with the film (though perhaps on limited profile). It is not just another love story. ‘It’s complicated’ and we ‘Like’.
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
so we jump straight into My Friend Pinto and as far as the story goes, the main one [yes, there are more than one] is about Michael Pinto [Prateik Babbar], a Goan lad that has his world shaken up because his dear mother has passed away. So sad. But wait, there is a bright side. With no-one else to turn to, Pinto decides to go the big, bad city of Mumbai in search of his childhood friend Sameerurff(aka) Sam [Arjun Mathur]. Along the way, he saves the life of a Mallu Don [Makrand Deshpande], saves a dog that is given to said Don’s muse [Divya Dutta] but loses his wallet in the process, and basically becomes a magnet for trouble, all in one night. Throw in a few life lessons, a cute aspiring dancer/ladylove named Maggie [Kalki Koechlin] and a few songs and voila, you have a light hearted giggle-a-thon. Not exactly.
Sometime noble intentions are not enough to make an impact on the big screen. For My Friend Pinto, the story of simpleton coming to the big bad city maybe basic but it isn’t all it entails. Yet when it adds in a few [or many] subplots to make the proceeding a little interesting, the concoction that becomes the film just doesn’t work. Ok so maybe I’m jumping ahead a little and being a big harsh. After all, sometimes you need to look at the simple things in life to enjoy it. Maybe that is why Sanjay Leela Bhansali decided to step away from his larger than life canvas films with deep, meaningful and heartfelt stories of human emotions. Maybe he wanted to do something a little different, lighter with some fresh upcoming talent like Prateik Babbar and Kalki Koechlin in the lead roles. Noble intention, indeed, for the film is essentially about seeing the good in your fellow humans, friendship and making your own destiny. Alas, SLB’s My Friend Pinto isn’t working too well on that front either.
That’s not to say it is all bad. Yes, it does induce a smile or two here and there. But with the confusion of the plot, the multiple characters that are half baked and the situations which you can see happening, it does make it hard to remember them all after you’ve walked out of the film. On the acting front, Prateik is improving with each film and while you do get the feeling on occasion that he isn’t as innocent as Pinto, the attempt to be charming is sincere. Kalki doesn’t enough screen space to make this impact she needs and what’s more the character itself is sketchy. Makrand playing a Mallu Don may have been funny on paper but on screen, it doesn’t sit very well. Divya Dutta surely deserves better than this and Shruti Seth’s animosity towards Prateik isn’t explained very well, making her character a tad annoying. The rest are just so so.
With pretty much everything falling out of place, it’s not going to be easy to save this. Editors Shan Mohammed and Dipika Kalra try to snip it back together in a desirable way but unfortunately, fail. The cinematography has some unique shot added in to it and it is appreciated. Sadly, the writing plays spoilsport to such visuals. The music by Ajay-Atul too leaves much to be desired, although it seems to flow with the film ok. So what is left to watch in My Friend Pinto by debut director Raghav Dhar? Well, had there been a little more depth into Kalki’s character/relationship with her mother or maybe proper giggle worthy material for Makrand and crew to work with, a nice comfy couch-and-popcorn worthy film, maybe. But all that you are left with is the thought that the film was meant to be funny and charming but wasn’t.
My Friend Pinto has a long way to go before he can befriend the audience.