Yes. We have this society in us which possesses dark shades. Lives a simple life, appears to be noble, exploits women and their helplessness with élan. And yet, survive like worms and disappear to come back with evil. For a change, this protagonist doesn’t live enough. But it every story is fortunate enough, not every human being is planted with sanity.

‘Haraamkhor’ is a devilish tale of human beings who swear and die in a society very far from our urban excellence and glory. And, we have no clue till something like the the episodes in ‘Haraamkhor’ hit us. I don’t think it’s the question of culture or honor here, it’s about being a human and not being one. Sadly, we live with such creatures around who take advantage of innocence, insecurity and feminism to get there tails wagging. And, they do it shamelessly.

I think I will shower some unanimous praise on Nawazuddin Siddiqui, again. I don’t think anyone else will have the audacity and darkness to play such characters on screen. If you think ‘Raman Raghav’ was fetish enough, watch ‘Haraamkhor’. Nothing loud about it but equally menacing and scary. A thumping pat on the back for the director who chose to make a film on disdainful taste. I take a bow for the Kashyap stable who try to stand out with such films that shed light on such invisible yet mainstream holes in our revered clan.

Truly, wretched it is.

At a time of floundering commercial cinema making the means out of creativity, films like ‘Udta Punjab’ come as a neat surprise. Overwhelming, I would say. Scary and blemish-less.

‘Udta Punjab’ comes from the stable of Phantom films, and no prizes for guessing the creative minds behind the making of this dark, raunchy, spine chilling saga of the drug menace that has consumed an entire state.

‘Udta Punjab’ is the Punjab you and I will never dare to visit. It is the Punjab of our nightmares, the insanity behind the tradition of a beautiful state that it upholds in the eyes of public media.
If you grossly remember history, Punjab has been the eye of the storm in the past. Be it during the emergency in 70s or the infamous ‘Operation Blue Star’, Punjab has been a tepid travesty. Substance abuse is just another blip in a sea of huge political quick sand.

Coming back to the film, the narrative and cast is exemplary. In fact, I don’t think anyone else could have filled the shoes of Tommy Singh and Mary Jane other than Shahid Kapoor and Alia Bhatt. Shahid is a brilliant artist and UP is another cap is his illustrious feather. Alia Bhatt has shown glimpses worthy enough of being spoken in the same breath as her father. The scene wherein she helplessly emotes and divulges her agony to an equally ravaged Tommy Singh is a paranoid stealer. One heck of a scene it is, I would say one of it’s kind in Indian cinema.

Kareena Kapoor has very little to do in this crime drama but holds her space in a well deserved cameo. The way she is killed by Balli while trying to stop him from fleeing her rehab is well shot. In fact, am equally fond of the scene where 2 youngsters claim to be Tommy’ fan and signify their inspiration by falling prey to drugs. It’s a pitiably powerful seen that even jolted the conscience of a stray celebrity like Tommy Singh.

Though it’s a Phantom production and inevitable names will have their classic intervention. But Abhishek Chaubey has been impressive. I did not see anything debonair from him since Ishqiya (not the sequel please) but Udta Punjab certainly brings him back in style.

‘Udta Punjab’ has an uncanny resemblance to one of my all time adorable favorites, ‘Goodfellas’. Don’t jump the gun yet, no pun intended but it isn’t a straight shot unless you know what I am talking about.

Sometimes, our love stories don’t need bad guys to create a rift and separate 2 made-for-each other souls. Our nubile minds are just enough and too good to create miseries for self inundated human beings.’KV’ is a bi-product of such individuals who live and smurf themselves with their ego to destroy superlatives.

Love, lust, sex or marriage – we all live in a volcano of emotions that’s ruled by ego – tiny, small, big. It’s available in all sizes and is devoid of caste and religion. It just resides, sometimes for good and sometimes for bad. It depends on how we use our ego – to create or to destroy. Ourselves, sometimes everyone else who is around us. It is celebrated with a cacophony and mourned with anguish. Mani Ratnam’s film deals with such familiar yet anonymous components of human life. Not commercially, but in his own way. What better way to make 2 people fall in love amidst war? Classy patriotism.

‘KV’ begins with the carnage of Kargill and ends with a household whimper. No surprises here, and all ends well. But the journey of love, togetherness, ego, separation, pain and ecstasy are bundled up in a dramatic deluge of thrills and bore. It is inspired by true events – I don’t remember seeing this tag line in a Mani Ratnam film since’Bombay’ in 1995 but we were not that explicit way back then with such catch phrases. Times have changed, so has cinema. Mani Ratnam has forged in to a fascinating collaboration – romance amidst tumultuous waters. It works, sometimes it doesn’t.

The thrill moments – Mani and his cameramen are made for life. Ravi Verman’s exploits in ‘KV’ takes us to another planet. Right from the start – the credits that overlap the blood of Kargill war, the snow laden mountains that look like sleeping in your lap every now and then, the dust laden camps – all look like pieces of divine particles put together to etch an epic love story. Aditi Rao Hydari gives a refreshing performance as the leading lady, I hope the pretty face moves ahead after this memorable stint with Madras Talkies. Karthi as the flamboyant Air Force officer and an eccentric individual does justice, often handsome and often unpredictable. The last 20 minutes of the film is a stunner – the high voltage chase scene in a jigsaw puzzle-like roadway and a riveting background score by AR Rahman will just take your breath away. Absolute brilliance. Plus, ARR’s songs are already a chart buster. I am on a rewind for the past couple of days with ‘Nallai Allai’ and ‘Tango Kelaayo’. Just hooked!

The dull moments – ‘KV’ isn’t your commercial wannabe, and it had to be quite pacy to get attached with the audience. It does but not consistent enough. Mani Ratnam’s definition of romance in itself is a bit unconventional, but it isn’t as ravishing as we expect it to be in his kind of urban love. The could-have -been better editing is compounded by ordinary dialogues which makes few sections of the movie stoppable. The story isn’t iconic, and all his usual suspects appear inadvertently – Srinagar, snow, closed door dialogues, Red Cross to name a few.

Comparison trivia – I don’t want to but irresistible me! It has few similarities with his own films – ‘Roja’ and ‘Alaipayuthey’. Some uncanny resemblances with ‘Top Gun’ and ‘Pearl Harbor’ too.

Mani Ratnam isn’t the kind of filmmaker anymore whose films will set the cash registers ringing. But his films possess class, and technically way above the rest. There is something about his films that I rave about, I like his kind of cinema. Few notches high, the ground below still looks clean. That’s ‘Kaatru Veliyidai’ in a nutshell.

Crime beholds crime. @msksmiles

There is this animal in all of us that gains momentum in sensitive and reluctant moments. Sporadic and violent. Voracious and fierce. We all have break even points, some  much earlier than we conspire and few that follows an aftermath. But we always seek a nemesis for redemption. A partner in crime. An orchid in a rose palette. A reason for our coral existence. The reason to survive through means unknown.

Our deficiencies often out power and defeat us in the battle of goodness and sanity. We kill ourselves to bring the insides out, and the soul becomes the most dreaded object of ulterior motives. Vulnerable and exuding massive energy of culpable destruction.

Raman Raghav 2.0.

Picture Source: Google Images

Notting Hill is one of the most sublime and exuberant love stories of our times. Truly, isn’t it? Well, I watched it years back but watching it again and again isn’t a crime.

Think about this, you falling in love with an actress who comes to purchase a book from the most boring book shop in London and ends up in your bed as you spill cappuccino over her slickly dressed attire in your jolly good neighbourhood street. Yes, you can fantasize about such encounters and we often dismiss such aberrations as creative foolishness of a novice head. But Notting Hill is a reminder to say that such impossible stories can happen. It doesn’t say it will happen but such is the paradox of life that magic could just be around the corner without you blinking an eye for its oblivious and cheeky presence. Doesn’t matter if you don’t manage an actress as your lover or wife, but you would have borrowed a love story of a lifetime. For your life. 


My enchantment of ‘Notting Hill – The Movie’ extended many years later when I visited ‘Notting Hill – The Neighborhood’ in London last year. It gave me this vivacious feeling that my stay in London was incomplete without paying a drop in the streets of Notting Hill. Nothing came close to the film but the inspiration of a cajoling and middle class neighborhood in London was the dazzling leaflet of the day.

My apprehension turns in to an insomniac, ballistic version when I talk about SRK films. But ‘Fan’ is a different experience altogether. It brings together a gamut of emotions that sway across as I watched the film – the newcomer, the emerging star, the human being, the superstar, King Khan. Well, yes. Life does come full circle.

‘Fan’ is not an untold story, but it does have its moments of revelation. It isn’t a tribute to a star, it depicts the flip side of being a star. It doesn’t show the star as a great human being, it shows that stars are human beings and are flawed components of a genius box that has all kinds of apples – good, mediocre, bad. We see the good side, admire the bright side but the other aspects of a star are largely and consciously ignored. Yes, fans are crazy people and defy conventions. Their forte is madness and strength is unsurpassable madness.

This fan is no different. He is completely, totally obsessed, consumed, and provocatively immersed in a sea of juggernaut that has no semblance of the star in itself. He copies him, he emulates him, he becomes him. His identity is the price he pays for his adulation of the star and he is ardently proud for cannibalizing his own personality to prove just one point – that he is the biggest and undisputed fan of the star.

Fans are usually preciously sensible people but their common sense is seldom found. They have this insatiable urge to mutilate everything in their lives to epitomize their star and they come to believe that they are the only ones with such unblemished desires. Few, place themselves in a niche radar, and couple of more strictly believe that the admiration is mutual. By all means, trouble starts here. The ‘Fan’ here falls in this category of vendetta. His admiration has no break even point, and all hell breaks loose when he realizes that his ‘God’ has way too many followers to look at and he only has time to wave his hands across and blow insurmountable kisses to all those crazy people who come to wish him ‘Happy Birthday’. Apparently, that’s about it. ‘It’s my life, why should I even devote 5 seconds to you’ is a statement that ended ‘Fan’s’ meteoric 25 years of devotion and palpable affection. His world is upside down and ends in bout of frenzy calm. Rest is, usual events of inflicting pain and anguish. In fact, ironically, the story of ‘Fan’ ends here.

The star drastically comes to realize that he is the very reason for his fan to be alive. His life, his cyber cafe, his one-sided love story, his parents, his yearly stage show  – all were byproducts of his deep rooted obsession and love for the star. Quite aptly and painfully, he calls himself as his ‘Junior’.

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The star’s character is sketched with grey orientations. The scene wherein the Indian Embassy doesn’t have kind words for the star is an agonising moment wherein his god like image is dubiously contrasting to his persona as a human being, who here is depicted as filthy and an ass. I strictly believe it is intentional – I do not take it that stars are good human beings but the vice versa could be equally daunting and true. Apparently, this sketch of the star makes the ‘Fan’ even more endearing and deserves all the sympathy of the audience despite he being grossly unfair to his ‘Senior’.

‘Fan’ is scripted, conceptualized and enacted for Shahrukh Khan. For once, I must say that this will go down as one of his talismanic and courageous performances. He is brilliant as the ‘Fan’ – charming, notorious, nonsense, fearless, rampant. He is all soul and energy in his fan avatar and is spectacularly watchable as an actor, which could otherwise be deemed as another run-of-the-mill flick. For playing the ‘star’, which comes naturally to him, isn’t a surprise but the grey edges showcased through his character is a stunner. Not every star can demean themselves, even if they deserve it (which is hugely circumspect). So, lets leave it here as of now. SRK will go down as the winner, both as the ‘Fan’ and the star.

‘Rehene de, tu nahin samjhega’. – @Fan.

Regional films are often relegated to the sidelines when compared to the more glamorous and perceived world of cinema. Well, that’s the choice you and me have made (grins!). But, now and then, I have seen quality scripts coming out from the regional world of cinema that deserves subjugation of twin elements – money and media. ‘Court’ is one such film that inclines me towards the deprived vicinities of this glorious silver screen.

A local artist who claims himself to be a folk singer and a teacher with a past of tiny little political affiliations, 2 lawyers and a judge, slithering appearances of ad-hoc nature. With such an abysmal line of casting, it’s quite amazing how the film begins to shape itself with the judicious realities of life. The plot is not about the characters the actors play, the characters are in itself a plot that courageously spades through the context of each other’s lives. They don’t collide, but have this inconvenient resemblance in terms of how their lives have been raised amidst colossal grapevine.

It does have this unscrupulous similarity with the classic ’12 Angry Men’, though the spectacular film cum documentary witnessed some iconic conversations that define the law book in terms of questioning skills and eliminating the veracious factors. ‘Court’ is more of a monologue fabric wherein the characters are generally submissive about the facts but intention is to be fair and kind. It is also the ultimate reflection of our famed judicial system that’s so hopelessly driven by toothache evidences and situational grievances.

‘Court’ clearly established the consortium of values and relationships that form the very basis for a human being to judge, navigate, negotiate and conclude. On the contrary, the ‘accused’ isn’t the only accused around. The judge, the lawyers, the cops, the witnesses – all involved components have their own derivation of justice, and in a society rammed by diversities, our conclusions are the remains of how, why and who. Inclusively, these components arrive from the respective layers of the societies each of us belong to.

‘Court’ is a tribute to the world of cinema. Equally, it’s a disdain to the laws we are governed by.