Friday, 30 January 2015

Darr (1993)


Kiran (Juhi Chawla) studies in Shimla (Switzerland, undisguised). She is happily engaged to daredevil navy officer Sunil (Sunny Deol). But there is another secret suitor, her college mate Rahul (Yes, Shah Rukh Khan), a shy, awkward one who sings a song for her, guitar to boot. He just doesn't show himself. Instead he chooses to terrorize Kiran, stammering (Kkkkkk...Kiran) on the phone, shadowing her and attempting to kill Sunil.   

Yash Chopra's Darr is a rare Hindi commercial movie with a stalker shown in negative light. That took some time, otherwise heroes were stalking heroines no end anyway and making it to the marriage hall with them, all smiles and end credits. Darr does glorify the stalker's madness as a kind of feverish love.

The film's trump card is clearly Shah Rukh Khan's unconventional take on the Hindi film villain. The mannerisms that became repeated over several films and have now become mimic artist fodder, were very effective in Darr.  

The high point is when the three protagonists come together before the truth pops out. Songs, though beautiful, mitigate flow and all sense of dread. Still, this is a decent take on possessive love. For once, even if in patches, story does take over starry airs. In ego-infested star-insecure Hindi film territory, this is a monumental achievement.        

Monday, 19 January 2015

Shuddh Desi Romance (2013)


Shuddh Desi Romance has a reluctant, compromised heart at the core of its plot and that almost kills all its good, great, charming parts. 

A long winded, bumbling arrival to apply the vermillion on live-in relationships, the makers of Shuddh Desi Romance are too wary of disturbing their family audience to give it a free-wheeling touch. This is despite the kisses, bravado and modern attitude, which all seem pat and candy floss, things that can happen only in 'bed-of-roses' films. Even for the lovers of the make-believe, Shuddh Desi Romance isn't crazy enough.   

Dabbling comedy, drama, romance doesn't help either. Just comedy would have suited the film's take on youth and their irrelevant, confused of relationships, not the metaphors and visual hints. Shuddh Desi Romance is fiery when it sticks to the fun of it, the chemistry of the main lead sizzle in those parts.   


As for the characters not seeing an inch of gritty time while earning their livelihood is another bubblegum tale. This is best blamed on Yashraj's sleek production values that colours all social-economic classes in one eye-pleasing colour.  


Then you end with a human being cheated out of marriage, reconciling, sleeping with him and again left stranded by the same guy and yet taking it all serenely without any anguish, just because this is a romantic comedy, blame it on Yashraj again.

A visual treat of Jaipur, Sushant Singh Rajput and Parineeti Chopra's acting chops, (Vaani Kapoor's confident turn let down by weak characterization, Rishi Kapoor is good) and two Sachin-Jigar songs are prime viewing reasons.

Friday, 16 January 2015

Ugly (2014)


Ugly reeks of familiar Anurag Kashyap elements, from suicidal tendencies, alcohol, cigarette smoke, enclosed rooms to mentally-ravaged characters. But like his best films, the combustive combination of it all is startlingly real.

The daughter of an estranged, aspiring actor disappears from his parked car in one of Mumbai's crowd-infested streets. A prime suspect is killed in the heat of a chase (chase scenes, another Kashyap authority). The actor's ex-wife has a police officer for a second husband. Old wounds, vengeance and greed rises up like a writhing snake. There is a grim persistent stench to the proceedings. The culmination punches in like an old parable.    


Purposely devoid of style, buoyant in its stark performances (Girish Kulkarni steals the show), Ugly is a credible watch for cinema lovers.    

Thursday, 15 January 2015

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014)


As one who adores the JRR Tolkien book, this has been a disappointing movie trilogy. Thankfully, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies is the most engaging of the three movies. Peter Jackson is in genius territory when it comes to detailing large scale fight scenes, body language and fighting styles of each race/army. Creative liberties, character quelling and additional characters are ho-hum. The only welcome deviation (spoiler alert-spoiler alert-spoiler alert) is the grand manner in which Smaug is shot down.

There are many aspects that the film scores on, not as ravishingly as the The Lord of the Rings trilogy. But as a Middle-earth expert there is a limit to the bad Peter Jackson can do. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies is still a monumental achievement, even if mitigated.