“Bajirao ne Mastani se Mohabbat ki hai…..Aaiyashi nahi…………!”

Epics usually have an attachment of legacy and grandeur with them, and they bring a riveting sense of watchable-ness with them. Yes, Bajirao Mastani does that with ample to say but it isn’t the greatest of such marvels made in the silver screen.

The story of a warrior, his love for his community and his obsession for Mastani – that’s precisely Bajirao’s tale in this SLB creation. Bajirao isn’t your fairy tale hero of dreams and symphony, he is outrageously brave, a passionate husband, a voracious lover and is plagued by demons of his emotions and prerogatives. Adored by Kashi, caressed by Mastani and hailed by his peers – Peshwa Bajirao Ballad is the pride of the Marathas who has valiantly conquered half of Hindustan. He is palatial warrior of tentacle dimensions, a patriot of the true kind. Yet, he succumbs, not to wounds but for deep rooted love.Bajirao-Mastani-wallpaper-1For an era and a generation that lives and swears by it’s flings, this is an unbelievable yet colossal story of a largely forgotten hero.

SLB’s films are created with passion and driven by powerful performances. BM is no different. Priyanka Chopra delivers a restrained yet watchable performance. Deepika Padukone hogs the limelight as the second lady in Bajirao’s elusive cordon and gives a matured performance (her Ram Leela act was more of a I love-I die syndrome). Uncompromisingly, she looks stunning in every frame. Ranveer Singh creates a space of his own in this epic portrayal of the frolic warrior and is undoubtedly, the soul of BM. The key moments in the film goes to him and he packs quite a punch in the stellar scenes – his sequences with his wife and mother are usually staggering.

SLB’s proven strength are his visuals, and without a hitch, Bajiao Masani is exquisitely shot. Songs are passable except a couple of them – my pick is Albela Sajan and Aayat. Pinga does remind you of Madhuri-Aishwarya duel in Devas but the choreography impresses.

At a time when valuable scripts are seldom written or watched, this SLB movie brings some respite, to eyes and ears.

World Cup is high on the table and India is off to a rocking start. Beating Pakistan was significant (more from a non cricketing sense) but downing the Proteas was good performance as they are a quality side and will give India the right impetus to progress ahead. Early days but looking forward to some positive news from our stable.

I haven’t been writing much but have been catching on with some stories, and some inspired stuff. Interestingly, small packets make a good headline.

I credit Gautham Vasudev Menon for 2 achievements in Tamil Cinema. One for creating the most sublime love story of the 21st century and other for churning out raunchy crime thrillers that has been one of its kind for our audience. Honestly, ‘Yennai Arindhal’ doesn’t relive the usual charisma of his earlier classics but is certainly watchable for more than couple of reasons. It brings the actor Ajith out with some hard hitting sequences and interesting playback. Rest, is all that’s packaged in a new container. Background score is impressive but songs have a tinge of earlier notes, though hummable. Arun Vijay isn’t the veracious baddie but delivers a commendable performance. Overall, a flick that takes you relive some glorious moments from GVMs earlier classics.

Anurag Kashyap and his dark men are made for each other. ‘Ugly’ brings them together under roof with his usual tangy vitals and fatal notes. His characters are truly ugly and have their share of grey curvatures. Though, his credibility lies in getting them straight out of life with an uncanny urge of uncomfortable bliss. The crime in the background still stays afloat as protagonists revolve in a riveting tale of torrid drama. Great editing, apt casting and king size performance makes ‘Ugly’ a great collage of emotional dynamite. Must watch!

‘American Sniper’ brings Clint Eastwood in the forefront of an American war hero who is a champion shooter who fights the ghosts of battlefields in his daily life. We have seen such epics in the past (Munich, Madras Cafe to name a quick few) that depict such heart wrenching tales of loyalty and sorrow. Consumption is the major vehicle here, and who consumes who is an enigma. Despite 4 horror stricken tourneys of death and survival, he still emerged a winner but with little to take away for his own. The Iraqi sequences are beautifully shot (reminded ‘Body of Lies’) and Bradley Cooper’s performance stood out in this poignant biopic. Not the best ever, but certainly stands out of the mediocre queue.

Masala films have never been my kind, but some stand out for sheer depiction and execution of characters. Simplicity is their powerful weapon, and sometimes, it does deliver the knock out punch. I will rate ‘Badlapur’ in this genre. Sriram Raghavan’s slickly made action thriller is a neatly made film. He does bring the age old revenge-to-avenge formula to decorate his plot but does it with some no nonsense barriers. Good job with the casting, he bought some very talented actors together to show we can do with an ordinary yet smart script. Varun Dhawan is a surprise, and he shows he can act. His dad could be less proud but I liked him in this brooding avatar. Others have small yet significant portions and do well. Songs are taken off and is such a breather, Indian films could do so much better by stripping of those lyrical jingles in such genre. My pick is Nawazuddin Siddiqui, his screen space is not huge but he packs a punch in his scenes. Perhaps, the way he looks is probably the biggest asset to Hindi cinema. Small film but could be a big winner.

Rustic characters, naive intentions, fake prejudices, 5 human beings treading a path of nullified emotions, desires and smallness. Finding Fanny isn’t your run of the mill, next door 2 and a half hour maroon. It’s celebrating human discoveries.

Set in the ever gorgeous Goa, FF renders the laziness of the island amongst few individuals who are basking in deterrent glory of their self devoid barriers. A widow with a cavalier attitude, a postman who unravels his love story after 46 years, a pretty young lady who loses her husband and desires minutes after her wedding, a painter who embodies lust over artistic colours, a young lad who searches for life after losing his girl to his best buddy. The best thing about each of them is their hidden fiascos of life. Or rather, the lack of it.

Homi Adajania strikes the right chords while he oscillates between the tangled lives and frivolous lives of the mean people he tries to broadcast in this conjugate tales. The beaches, the low lying yet ambitious sensibilities and the chemistry of malicious emotions take us through the rugged paths with immense flavour. His characters are not conventional, but they certainly are plucked straight from our unearthly lives. Its seldom that we realise such poignancy with ominous flair.

His casting is the brightest here. What else can we expect when 2 fine actors come together with 2 ravishing women and a young lad with loads to flaunt?

Naseer is at his usual whacky self, Pankaj Kapur is crookedly brilliant and Deepika Padukone makes our jaws drop as she blinks beautifully through the Goan ranches. Arjun Kapoor does well to creep in this ensemble drama with sumptuous humour. Dimple Kapadia, I must say, looks awful in her mommy act here. Not her performance though but she does need to become a tad slimmer to ensure we can say that sharing screen space is indeed a reality (no pun intended though!).

I loved this short, turbulent yet enjoyable journey to find fanny, and ourselves.

Biopics have always been addictive affairs for me. And, magnitudes of such maverick proportions are rarely depicted with such audacity. Forte, remains magnetic. Class, oozes envy and a legend survives the most dramatic chapters in American history with quantum poise and touch of evil debonair. Perhaps, Nixon’s final words describe the powerhouse of a man J. Edgar Hoover was.

We can debate, ponder and remain at awe to merely flash through the exploits of Edgar (as his mom likes to call him) as he spectacularly weaves the web around the then little known bureau of investigation. I could easily throw hoodlums to enface the indispensable-like facet of Mr. Hoover – without a hugely submissive yet pierced Tolston or the vivacious yet intelligent Miss Gandy, I for a moment of periodicity that mangles the test of times, could ignore a titanic with bruised icebergs.

The radical movement, the primitive ways of dealing criminology in an environment of rarity and growing emulation of torrid communist fallacies – it was a tailor made featherbed for the young and immensely inquisitive Edgar to get himself stamped all over in the leaflets of the attorney general in the Justice department. A monopoly of guts, severance and marque observations, Mr. Hoover held sway in a department of classy lounges and over the moon officers. When he gets appointed as the acting director of the bureau, few could sense the vigour of an imperious renaissance. Rest, as they say, is history.

Post 1935, emerged FBI and still amongst the most notorious talent, Edgar romped home with the savouries of America’s most privileged and eminent with consummate ease. He bought stories, re-developed scripts, maintained files that spit fatality and treated the Roosevelts + Kennedys + Nixon with paranoid stigma. Rather, they disdainfully adored him to make themselves poorly comfortable.

Clint Eastwood is the ‘Master’ but disappoints in technical arenas. The make up and the face recognition could have been so much better, at times felt like watching a comic strip from a faded sequel of a dud. At times, individuals looked glued to their masks and it severely tarnished the hindsight of an otherwise ensemble cast with brilliant performances.

Naomi Watts as Helen Gandy was as effective as it could have ever been imagined. Tolston (little known to me though) does a superman like effort and runs himself in to a greatest ally that I have admired in the recent past. DiCaprio, I have to salute you for being the perfect Edgar, almost. His histrionics and rendered body language with a cheese of cult is stuff that mammoths are made of. An enactment of a lifetime, he surpasses his ‘Aviator’ act with miles to squander and plethora to bask in glory.

In all, a massive effort with colossal performance and basic spoilers take the sheen off from a crafted artisan.

In the 90s, Vijay Dinanath Chauhan epitomised the fallacy of a celebrated gangster. It was touted as THE film of the Shahenshah and famously earned him the national award for an iconic performance.

21 odd years and we have Kancha Cheena rocking Mandwa with his ubiquitous aura. Rauf Lala becomes an aid for Vijay to avenge his father’s death and reclaim the little picturesque near the sprawling Mumbai.

For me, KJOs Agneepath is a far cry from what his dad crafted with Mukul Anand at the helm. Vijay was the consortium of an outcry in Kancha’s devious motives. He topples his empire with ferocious charm and flaunts a heart of gold. The latter is visible in the Vijay of KJOs but the former is completely gone. And, that for me, relinquishes the very soul of Karan Malhotra’s Agneepath. With few notwithstanding, Kancha Cheena, the Bollywood baddie is back rocking and Lala will remain etched in me for sometime to go.

Again, this version survives on splendid performances from its lead actors who are the antagonist. Like the original, the ladies have nothing to cash in on, though Madhavi was a critical leaf in Vijay Dinanath Chauhan’s blood-immersed life of goons. Kaali, is hardly there (except in the song and dance sequences) and her frames with Vijay lack the desired chemistry. Zarina Wahab falls prey to the script she was handed over and does justice (Rohini Hattangadi as Vijay’s unapologetic mother was an irreplaceable venture). Om Puri as Gaitunde was ordinary, and one of the finest actors in our country has been wasted. Katrina does the stealer act with ‘Chikni Chameli’ and leaves quite a few hearts famished.

You could easily blame me for rekindling past a bit too much, but then, nostalgia defines the roots of our lives in a mysterious fashion. I missed these sorely: the confrontation between Vijay and his mother on his ways, her constant attempts to keep him away from his little sister, the delicate relationship between Gaitunde & Vijay and above all, the camaraderie of Vijay Dinanath Chauhan and Kancha Cheena. And, how could I ever forget the ferocious talent of the abusive ally in Tinnu ‘Nathu’ Anand? I will always miss when stamps are bygones.

Sanjay Dutt is my favourite devil here and gives a knock out performance. He is back and look how! The muscle baldie with lingering tattoos of the ‘Shaitan’ is a look borrowed straight from hell and I adored it. Rauf Lala’s inclusion is the biggest saving grace of this Johar remake and Rishi Kapoor deserves an ovation for his stand out feat as the wrecker in chief amidst the Vijay – Kancha despair. His exit post interval took the sheen away and I had to wait till Kancha comes back for the penultimate. The dialogues fitted the bill of the need but Kader Khan’s rendition in the ’91 classic was powerful and remains undisputed.

I don’t believe in comparisons, but I revel in legendary moments. The cash registers are singing the swan song and Dharma Productions will certainly take that. But I am sure KJO will lose the reins over a cup of coffee with his dad at the outcome. And, I would, by all means, take the senior Johar’s side.

Once upon a time, there used to be this golden era in the world of Hindi film soundtracks, obviously with stern references to the perennial ones. Then came the rejuvenated 80s and the congenial 90s. The subsequent decades witnessed glory and slump in vivacious intervals. 2011 is here, and I see a clear vicinity of creative inadequacies.

Today we lack the aura of playback singing that could evoke legacy. We miss writers who could pen down words like waves in an ocean that refuse to die and the meanings that could send a shriver down your spine. Yet, we live in an environment of extreme ignorance where the entertainment industry had started borrowing our gems from the past to hide our sustained prejudices. Please do not get me wrong, classics can get revisited but not tarnished.

Mohd Rafi was a legend, Manna Dey was exquisite, Mahendra Kapoor infused life, the genius of Kishore da was eternal. Further down, Udit Narayan and Kumar Sanu erected early nineties and refurbished their brand for almost one and half decades. Sonu Nigam further reestablished the soul of Rafi Saab and Abhijeet/Babul Supriyo/Shaan showed glimpses of the great Kishore Kumar. I miss their fervour and mince no words about it.

Sahir Ludhianwi isn’t there today, Gulzar chooses meticulously and Javed Akhtar only scripts for his children. Where are the writers whose pen was mightier than sword? I see no words these days, they cheat without glitz and publish sans elegance.

I am contemporary and enjoy versatility in music, especially films made in our inevitable Bollywood. I can relish the talents from the glorious fifties to my very own 2011. But I doubt if my children will remember the munnis and sheilas 20 years down under. I have a shalu now but that makes matters worse.

I get a feeling that we have sort of subsidised our talents by cashing in on our very own chartbusters of yesteryears. Remixes have become household cacophony and tracks are nurtured for the sake of animosity.

‘Dhanno’, ‘Mit jaaye gham’, ‘Laila o laila’ are few of those sizzlers which were distinguishably part of pedestrian projects. Have we run out of stock? Are we judiciously inadequate to produce winning tunes? Do we miss our prodigious talents who were instrumental in belting those número uno numbers for more than 30 peerless years?

I am afraid, but I might be bang on.

Awesome. Reverberating. Raunchy. That precisely describes Rahman’s exploits in the ‘Jai Ho’ Concert held yesterday, at the Marg Swarnabhoomi, near Mahabalipuram in Chennai on 11th October, 2009.

As the ‘Mozart Of Madras’ churned out some of his sparkling chart busters, the crowd went berserk. It was typical ARR at his best and his commitment of giving a treat to his music lovers stands undisputed. There were some notable absentees like SPB, Shankar Mahadevan and Sukhwinder Singh to name a few, who are usually a part of his concerts by default. I missed them but Rahman almost compensated by bringing in host of new and talented artistes. Sivamani enthralled the 80,000 odd audience with his drumsticks and Chithra was seen in her usual elegance. I had the privilege of attending Rahman’s first concert in India, ‘The Unity of Light’ in Calcutta, way back in february, 2003. Since then, he probably has belted more numbers to his credit and recieved numerous laurels including the twin academy awards, but his obsession for music remains unscathed. I guess, that’s what makes him so special. He rounded off the evening with the unanimous ‘Jai Ho’ and his trademark ‘Vande Mataram’.

While on my way out after the concert ended, I heard few people murmuring about the fact that there were very few Tamil tracks and most of it were from his Bollywood blockbusters. Well, my sympathies to those in this part of the world, who have to battle the ghosts of the ‘language barriers’. After all, ‘Music knows no Language’ but seldom do people understand the gravity of the concept. This was pretty evident when the collaborative efforts of Marg & Shakthi Foundation are heading for more such events, which would invoke ‘Oneness’ amongst the human clan.

Way to Go ARR! ‘Jai Ho’ is just the beginning..