Saturday, January 30, 2010

Rann...That does not run a tight ship...

Having gone with no idea what so ever as to what this movie was about, it dint take much beyond the titles for me to know what Rann had to offer and its fair to say that it did not make me Run for the money I invested in the movie at a multiplex after a long and strenuous drive on behest of a pal who insisted on absence from the busy ness of busy life to places far away.

God Father is implanted in the mind of RGV and he can never make a movie which is completely devoid of it. Godfather, Bad Son, Son-in-law with a negative shade, his aversion to anything which is immoral (drugs there yellow journalism here), closely knit family which has few apparent frictions and tensions within them etc. or I can add a birthday party of the lead man to which all friends and foes attend and now I can definitely use etc just to tell you that am not falling short of comparisons.

I had to say that I did have little confusion with respect to the magnitude of the negativeness in the role of Jay (Sudeep) and was rather glad that it was not a ridiculously negative characterization which would have branded this film as an outright cliché with tried and tested formulas implemented from the films which attempted themselves to be made under the ‘different from the rest’ genre.

But as the movie unfolds, you cant help yourself from drawing comparisons with movies of similar themes & Corporate comes closest. RGV subconsciously & inevitably drifts to his favourite plot of underworld crime & nexus with the same tenacity as your car which is in need of wheel alignment drifts to the left side.

As the movie moves on you very well know how the climax would shape up and strongly believe that Big B was taken away from the scheme of things only to extend the length of the movie. You also are quite amused by the convenience with which Big B errs in his judgment of publishing the scandal on someone who holds the office of a PM & his return back to senses once he realized that he messed it up. Both are too unconvincing for a man who is portrayed as a hardcore upholder of Journalistic ethics and morals.

The actions and reactions get as predictable as the outcome of India Pak Game at Sharjah during mid 90s after Sachin Tendulkar's dismissal. RGV desperately attempts to make complete use of the emotion emitting range of Big B and even as the young protagonist (Ritesh Deshmukh) comes to take over the reigns in the climax after few words of appreciation from his mentor, you clearly feel that a self proclaimed stoicness of RGV is strongly attempting to entice allure and persuade the audience to buy the tearful emotions emoted by his star cast and feel for them & add Rann to one of his brighter feathers of his mixed hat which was quite dismal in the recent past with the exception of Sarkar Raj.

The subtleties taken care by RGV usually deserve a mention but they are as integral a part of his style of film making as a Godfather storyline & an underworld touch are. He should realize that people don’t expect his films to be different from the routine formulaic films anymore & should attempt to raise the bar by focusing a lot more on his script to ensure that the sub plots are much more convincing & are properly weaved with the main plot to architect a well synchronized effort.

Amidst all this it has some decent performances from the Big B himself for whom this role should be a piece of cake and stroll in the park, Paresh Rawal, Rajath Kapoor, Rajpal Yadav & also Ritesh Deshmukh. The performers in the female lead with the likes of Neetu Chandra, Suchitra Krishna Murthy and Gul Panag were all quite apt.

At the end of the show, he may have been successful in his desperate bid to convince the audience that he was completely out of the juvenileness that made him do the ‘RGV ka Aag’ but you would have rather put your money on a Madhur Bhandarkar to handle such a wonderful concept which has so much potential to explore instead of an RGV who invariably and inevitably drifts from scope of things the subject of yellow journalism for TRP ratings had to offer & instead gave us a tiresome stereotype output.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Review...'2012 the World is coming to an End'... very late but very true...

Last month of the year we got to see a Multi Million extravaganza of a Hollywood film which was supposed to be an action flick but might as well find itself a nomination in the first ever category of ‘Action turned into unintentional Comedy’ genre at the Academy Awards. The elite crowd with which I went to watch the movie was quick to trade few SOS texts but our minds were collectively programmed and brilliantly synchronized to decided that there will be more than Money’s worth if this movie is construed as a comedy, albeit an inadvertent one.

The doomsday epidemic announces it’s out-break with a massive Earth Quake followed by a tsunami & the Terminator’s California is drawn into the Pacific Ocean. The ground level protagonist steers his kin out of harms way but as the Ground is shifting, he needed the expertise of a part-time pilot in Gordon (his ex wife’s current husband) in the first escape sequence which would have been good enough to be a climax in any movie given those excellent state of the art graphic works. But if you would have watched at least 1/5th of these Hollywood flicks as any movie buffs did, it would have been easier for you to predict that the director climaxed way too soon and lost sense of direction. What you see thereafter is only a Play Station 7 version Video game played in God-Mode as the lead men navigate their families from one doomsday disaster to another. You have Volcano’s erupting, Earth Quacking, Tsunami’s inundating the left over land in a manner that all it requires is one hour for the Earth to be submerged in high seas & that’s when the movie reaches un-scalable heights when the BBC announces as part of the Breaking News that the 2012 London Olympic Games are cancelled, a chronological disarray given the fact that we are in the third quarter of December 2012 & announcement is made about games that should have by now been concluded. As the destruction spirals around the globe more attention is given to the family of the writer protagonist either paying very little heed to the intelligence of the audience or with the underlined assumption that the audience watching the movie are long considered lost in the mayhem caused by this catastrophic epidemic.

The movie also touches the 1980s America Russia Cold War discrepancies when a narrow minded Russian billionaire who doesn’t own the Chelsea Football Club is ridiculed in a way only Hollywood does showing scant respect to the existence and intelligence of other lands & cultures. Amidst all this the lead-men continues their jolly good run in the middle of the doomsday chaos & falls short of their ultimate destiny by about a few 1000 miles as their Super Jet crash lands. The director may be taking liberties from the brain-dead audience tweaks the script in such a way that the havoc created by the forces of nature displaces the actual destiny exactly to the place where the plane crash landed. After all it’s a Video game being played in God Mode and God alone has control on the forces of Nature was his cosmological premise perhaps.

You also have the presidential Elect of the United States (who has a very pretty daughter pursued with all earnestness by the scientist who prophesied the doomsday outbreak) prefers to stay back in White House to fight the inevitable and tries to boost the morale of the sinking Nation and World caused by the apocalypse thru a Television address.
The impending catastrophe doesn’t allow the Vajpayee paced Presidential address to complete because it still has a world to cover and deadlines to meet.

Once all the lead characters finally reach the mega Titanic Vessel supposedly good enough to quell the force of natural disasters, further drama ensues when the prospective Son in Law of the now late US President fights a case of humanity by urging the authorities to accommodate more people in the Vessel. He obviously does not have many takers but thanks to his emotional outburst that would have made all the life time subscribers of God Channel proud, the gates are opened for the remaining people so that a new civilization can be started on a non devastating note. Amidst all this, the Protagonist of the God Mode Video Game messes up with the gates of the huge Vessel in his endeavor to gain unauthorized entry which hinders the start of the big engine & with Mt Everest fast approaching, the end is inevitable.

In further twists and turns to the story all the Characters now considered redundant to the lives of the main characters are eliminated which also ruthlessly includes pilot Gordon who has navigated the Jumbo Russian Flight to safer snowy lands. The differences between the writer father (the protagonist) and the early teenage son are resolved by way of son helping the father out in clearing the jam so that the gates close and the Engine starts, even while their family has a drenchy reunion. Any indulgence of hormones by the reunited lead pair would have left the fate of their children submerged for good. (But I would have never doubted the director’s ability to pull another rabbit out of the hat to save the kids and the lead men in spite of any eventuality).

The immortal words by President Obama in the 2004 address were collectively called upon and echoed louder than the Digital-Dolby stereo effects by the audience not to save the World but to save themselves from this movie.

Hope in the face of Difficulty. Hope in the face of Uncertainty. Hope in the face of Adversity! The Audacity of Hope! In the end, that is God’s greatest gift to mankind, the bedrock of the entire IMAX audience belief that the ‘2012 end of the World’ does have an end if not the real World & the audience quite ironically leave the theatre in High Hopes once the credits start rolling.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Wonder Years My Stefan and I…

The title is inspired from John Hislop’s ‘My Baba and I’. It some how made me believe that it’s the most apt way to describe the impact the visual sporting spectacle had on me during my growing years, its befitting that I write something as a tribute to him on 19th January his 44th Birthday.

I first heard of Stefan Edberg in my school when a certain friend of mine was in awe of him for his style grace and elegance. In Wimbledon 1988, I was rooting for the popular choice Boris Becker, while my cousin Bunnu, went for Stefan Edberg and Edberg won and I dint appreciate Bunnu’s hi-fis and jigs. Things changed in the next year when I went for Edberg and Bunnu went for Becker and Becker won the 1989 Wimbledon crown. In the year that followed Edberg beat Becker again to make the Wimbledon Final tally between them 2-1 & am sure Becker wouldn’t mind trading his over all career record of 26-10 against Edberg to Edberg’s 2-1 at Wimbledon Finals.

Then started the long story as Stefan Edberg became an integral part of my life and I was also following Tennis Master events and not just Grandslams. I was an avid subscriber and follower of The Hindu newspaper for its extensive Tennis coverage and soon realized that Nirmal Shekhar their Tennis Editor also had similar likings for Stefan & used to cover him often in his articles. Even though like a true Journalist he was changing loyalties once players with the likes of Agassi Sampras Courier Chang and ilk joined the fray my loyalties were firmly rooted to Edberg and Becker was my second favorite.

I dint like the Yankees gen’next Tennis federation. I followed US open 1990 in news paper and was stunned to see Edberg eliminated in round one to Alexander Volkov. I knew something special was coming in 1991 and Edberg did win the US Open title for the first time and was in form of his life and by a far margin Edberg’s best Grandslam final against a formidable Jim Courier. To my heart break, few months later Edberg’s form took a dip when he made to the Final of Australian Open but looked completely out of touch and lost to Courier. Edberg’s performance was an acute heart ache as the other team I support; Indian Cricket team was not doing well at all in Australia. India were being outplayed in the fourth test at Adelaide and though Azaruddin show some sparks in the fourth innings, a defeat was inevitable there too. Edberg’s slam form continued its dip when he lost to Medvedev and Ivanesevic in French and Wimbledon 1992. The mother of all Grandslams came in form of US open when Edberg rallied not once but thrice in fifth set to beat Krajicek, Lendl & Chang respectively in 4th Quarters and Semis. In finals he beat Pete Sampras, in a match that supposedly changed the destiny of Pete Sampras when he felt the pain of being no.2. He got a chance in Australia to defeat Edberg but the Edberg was down 0-4 in first set and came back to win the match in straight sets.

After that his form painfully took a dip and was making rather uncharacteristic early exits from Grandslams with the exception being the 1994 Australian Open wherein he reached semi finals. There were days when I used to follow the coverage on then Prime Sports for one full day just hear a mention of the name of Stefan Edberg, in the bargain I understood the game of tennis a bit.

During Stefan’s painful exits, I was often consoled by my sister and cousins about the glory days of Edberg and I used to feel rather relieved while answering their routine questions like, did Edberg win Wimbledon, what is the only Slam Edberg did not win etc.

The worst fear of my wonder years came true when in 1995 Stefan Edberg announced that he is going to retire the coming year. The reception that he got at each and every tournament in his last year on circuit was phenomenal. He had his moments in his last year on circuit when he beat Chang in French Open third round and Krajickek in US Open first round and when he went to the Quarter Finals of US Open and eventually lost to Ivanesevic. It was a night game and there was a scheduled power cut from 9am IST and destiny had it that the match was finished before the power-cut and I had the last glimpse of my hero on a Grandslam court. The unavoidable tears rolled past my cheeks not in the same way as they continually did for the glycerin induced Aishwarya Rai in Sarkar Raj during climax scenes but in a less melodramic and more heart wrenching manner.

Stefan Edberg made the biggest impact on me and laid a strong foundation in my sporting beliefs that the best moment in sport is when an underdog overhauls an established opponent. May be because Satellite Television came to India when Stefan was well past his prime and as I was growing wins never came easy for Stefan but even in defeat the man had a lot of charm style and poise.

The slim-hipped, smooth-moving, polite-talking, prized pupil of a finishing school in manners and volleying, when "in the zone" is the best sight any sport or sportsman can ever offer.... Stefan Edberg in motion is probably the strongest synonym for Poetry in sport.

I would also like to post a certain fact here and will leave it to the readers to decide if it’s a coincidence or strong connection of admiration. In the year Stefan hung his boots, his wife was expecting their second child a son and out he came in 1997, right on the day yours truly was celebrating his Birthday too, February 28th. Have shared this fact with very few may be one to be honest but I believe it’s apposite to be virtually engraved in my first official tribute to Stefan.

No matter even if his slam record now stands at a modest 6 which in that era was quite exemplary, I still would like to dedicate these lyrics Stefan ‘You are simply the best, better than all the rest, better than anyone I ever met’,

Thanks a zillion.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Review Late but true.... 3 Idiots!

My first post so nervous moments & here I go....

Having read Five Point someone, I was always worried at the idea of making a film out of that book completely starring Aamir Khan, given the youthful nature of the lead characters in the original plot. But after I saw the movie which was made with considerable amendments to the original plot and just keeping the main story intact, I was more than relieved with the thoughtful and refreshing changes that were made to the original plot. No this is not any attempt to indirectly support the VVC production house and query Chaitan Bhagat’s claims but it’s just a personal observation. But most of the good things to say about the movie unfortunately end here.

Aamir Khan is of late playing roles where he is everything you want a lead role to be, confident, clear in thought, beyond materialistic pursuits of money and fame, always willing to forgive, forget and share his widespread knowledge & enlightening the lesser mortals; being spontaneous, sensitive with good blend of sympathy & empathy, not to mention romantic, humorous, great mind-reader who is well-informed about almost any issue that’s going on in the movie & the list doesn’t end that easy. The amended script did his image no harm as it took all the good traits of all characters of the book and bundled them up in Rancho played by the emperor of Khans. The title should have been 2 idiots and an intellect, but for the modesty of the lead man who might have peeped out of his role and suggested the director to let the title remain 3 idiots. Four decades earlier the movie could have been named as ‘Do ankhen chaar haath’ with their (2 idiots) apparent vulnerability to any distress that pops up during their allotted screen time.

The second half has some done to death sub plots with most predictable endings and the one that takes the icing as well as the cake is the bridal escape scene which has been the most preferred scene of Bollywood ever since DDLJ happened and I guess it continues to stay so for the next few decades.

Now for few good things about the movie, well Aamir Khan himself no matter how many times he plays such roles he is always a refreshing sight on screen. He has transcended his nearest Khan contender the King Khan himself quite comfortably over the last decade & the gap is only going to get wider with each of his well conceived movies that turn out to be Block Busters. If at all you have to pick on films of any Indian actor who you can proudly show to a phirang friend of yours, I guess Aamir fits the bill, at least from the beginning of Lagaan days and needless to say, he reached stratospheric heights with Rang de Basanti. Madhavan was quite refreshing on screen & he portrayed the role of Farhan quite effortlessly (am forced to include this bit for reasons I cannot mention) and the director and the script writer redid their Lagey Rahoo Father-Son Radio scene in the climax when Farhan tries to convince his dad & needless to say same goes with the interview and its predictable outcome of second Idiot. In short it was a polished version of Munna Bhai with the lead role’s I can fix all the problems attitude and aptitude in his own educated & elegant way, the script of which was based on FPS and few main scenes also taken from that Chetan Bhagat best seller.

But still this has to be the best film in terms of revenues and also entertainment because of the strong FPS connection with a Munna Bhai kind of narration. It makes us feel that we are watching something worthy but at the same time it lets the critic down in its endeavor to appeal to all segments of audience, but it’s entertaining & that rests any cynical perspectives that may crop its ugly head against this master piece.

All said and done when you compare this movie with the usual stuff dished out by Mr Khanna or the other Khans, 3 Idiots sits pretty in stratospheric zone of its own even though it’s pleasantly but tiresomely predictable, with the exception of the finale twist in the film of course & if I can add, may be Mr Bhagat’s case could have been rested there.