Rajeev Masand – movies that matter : from bollywood, hollywood and everywhere else

September 9, 2009

Love aaj kal…

Filed under: Their Films — Rajeev @ 11:44 am

October 09, 2009

Cast: Eric Bana, Rachel McAdams

Director: Robert Schwentke

The Time Traveler’s Wife starring Eric Bana and Rachel McAdams is one of those sappy romantic sagas, like Ghost or The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, in which a couple must come to terms with some unnatural obstacle in their relationship, such as life after death, a lover who ages backwards, or in the case of this film, a time-traveling disorder.

Bana stars as Henry, a Chicago librarian, who suffers from a genetic condition that causes him to be suddenly transported back and forth in time without warning. McAdams plays Clare, the love of his life, whom he first encounters as a six-year-old girl in a meadow when he is transported there stark naked.

Creepy as that may sound, over the years and across time zones, a romance develops between the two. Their marriage is a tricky one, with him vanishing out of sight minutes before the ceremony, during their honeymoon even, and at every other important occasion. But she hangs in there for him each time, mustering up unbelievable patience and dedication.

The problem with this film, adapted from Audrey Niffeneger’s novel, is that it’s got an unsatisfying narrative that jumps around as much as the film’s hero. Also it doesn’t really succeed in establishing the tone it wants to go with. It’s dramatic, romantic, tragic, even comic, but in the end all the time-bending leaves you more confused than connected with its characters.

Eric Bana and Rachel McAdams ooze ample charm, but sadly not enough to distract you from the film’s loopy nature. I’m going with two out of five for The Time Traveler’s Wife; it’s got a few touching moments, but apart from that it’s just an over-sentimental, gooey love-story. Watch it if you must, but only for its gorgeous leads.

(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)

September 4, 2009

A star is reborn

Filed under: Our FIlms — Rajeev @ 8:30 pm

September 04, 2009

Cast: Rishi Kapoor, Priyanshu Chatterjee, Kulraj Randhawa

Direction: Ranjit Kapur

A charming little treat of a film, Chintuji, written and directed by Ranjit Kapur, is a clever satire that stars Rishi Kapoor as an exaggerated version of himself.

The action unfolds in a fictional Indian small-town named Hadbahedi whose locals discover that Rishi Kapoor the movie-star was born on their soil 55 years ago. Hoping to draw some attention from the state and receive adequate facilities like 24-hour electricity supply, the townsfolk of Hadbahedi invite the actor to visit his birthplace. Currently contemplating an entry into politics, Rishi Kapoor accepts the invitation, optimistic that Hadbahedi could well be the constituency to stand from.

Brash and spoilt and unaccustomed to life in a small town, the actor turns the place upside down with his incessant unreasonable demands, even as the locals pull out all stops to make his stay with them comfortable.

When an accident leaves him injured and unable to travel back home, the harried producer of his incomplete film decides to show up with his unit and complete the actor’s remaining scenes in Hadbahedi itself. Meanwhile, he finds himself seduced by a lucrative offer from a political broker representing the rival town that Hadbahedi has always competed with for resources and recognition.

Held together by a sharp screenplay that throws up some pleasant surprises, Chintuji is light and easy and enjoyable for the most part, barring an unnecessary subplot involving a journalist with a mysterious past (played by Priyanshu Chatterjee), who the townsfolk have accepted into their fold. Also quite redundant is the love track between this journalist and the feisty young PR executive (played by television actress Kulraj Randhawa) who’s accompanied the actor on his visit.

The film works because it’s intelligent and uncompromising, and because it’s simultaneously serious and light, without ever trying too hard to be either. It’s packed with delicious little scenes and moments that will have you chuckling pretty much the moment you settle into your seat. One of my favourite scenes in the film is the one in which a Bengali doctor who arrives to treat the injured star, pulls out a script he’s written himself, which he subsequently narrates in agonising detail, complete with impromptu rendition of duet songs in both male and female voices. Another ingenious stroke is that item song (filmed on Sophie Chaudhary) whose lyrics are basically the names of leading international filmmakers.

Writer-director Ranjit Kapur has a keen eye for the real, which is apparent in his subtle characterisation of the simpleton locals, his accurate representation of the B-movie industry, and his scathing comment on the fickle nature of celebrity.

Chintuji wouldn’t be half the film it is if it weren’t for the abundant charm and sheer lack of inhibition by its principal actor, Rishi Kapoor who sportingly participates in this self-parody, leaving no stone unturned in creating a lovable, loathable, and ultimately memorable character. It’s hard to imagine another actor pull off such an unselfconscious performance with such ease.

The film falters in its second half when the screenplay deviates from the central premise and crams in too much emotional indulgence including a purely gratuitous appearance by a Russian co-star of the actor’s late father Raj Kapoor from Mera Naam Joker. Even the climatic scenes in which the actor realises the error of his ways is cheesy to say the least.

Despite its flaws however, it’s warm and engaging in the end, and far superior to the similarly themed Billu Barber. Watch it because good films are hard to come by. I’m going with three out of five for writer-director Ranjit Kapur’s Chintuji; give it a chance, you’ll come out smiling.

(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)

Wrong turn

Filed under: Our FIlms — Rajeev @ 8:24 pm

September 04, 2009

Cast: Shreyas Talpade, Kay Kay Menon, Vijay Maurya

Direction: Indrajit Nattoji

Aagey Se Right, directed by first-timer Indrajit Nattoji, is a comedy of errors involving a reluctant sub-inspector Dinkar Waghmare (played by Shreyas Talpade) who loses his revolver accidentally, and while searching for it finds himself sucked into crazy situations with criminals and cops alike.

There’s a parallel track involving a terrorist named Jaanu, also known as Balma Rashidul Khairi (played by Kay Kay Menon) who arrives in Mumbai on a mission to blow up a Police Day function, but ends up falling in love with a pretty starlet.

Throw in a bunch of supporting characters into this mix, add some juvenile humour, and what you have is an occasionally comical chase movie where a series of coincidences take the screenplay forward to its predictable, limp climax.

There’s a hilarious angle in which a local South Indian don (played by the excellent Vijay Maurya) teaches Kay Kay’s Urdu-spouting terrorist how to speak tapori slang so he can woo his lady love. Those bits are the some of the best in the film for the crackling tone in which both actors perform their scenes.

Shreyas Talpade is also in fine form despite the limited material, delivering a bag of laughs with his manic timing.

The film has some sparky dialogue but in the end it’s just an average watch because it feels more like a never-ending stream of jokes and witty one-liners than a film with an actual plot.

I’m going with two out of five for Aagey Se Right. It’s the kind of film you’ll have no memory of, 20 minutes after you’ve left the cinema.

(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)

When death comes calling

Filed under: Their Films — Rajeev @ 7:56 pm

September 04, 2009

Cast: Bobby Campo, Shantel VanSanten, Nick Zano

Direction: David R Ellis

Not very much has changed in terms of formula. The Final Destination, part four in the popular series of youth-death movies, once again follows a group of pretty young things who have escaped the opening scene disaster – in this case a freak accident at a motorcar race – only to be killed one by one as fate catches up with them.

Oh yes, what’s different here, is that this one’s in 3D by the way.

Not so much a film as it a series of gory death scenes strung together for maximum effect, The Final Destination brings no fresh ideas to the mix. What it does do however, is come up with some inventive new ways to bump off people that will look good in 3D.

So you have death by flying rubber tyre, you have death by ramming into speeding ambulance, you have death by falling hospital bathtub, even death by stone gorging out your eye.

The blood and gore quotient has been raised considerably in this film, making this an uncomfortable watch for anyone with a weak heart. But, if you’re looking simply for a guilty pleasure at the movies this week, an evening out with friends, it’s hard to think of a film better suited to 3D than The Final Destination.

With four-inch nails, screw-drivers and spanners, and assorted sharp objects flying around the place, it’s one hell of a cheesy, but occasionally enjoyable ride.

Don’t expect anything in terms of plot or acting; go in purely to be grossed out. Two out of five for The Final Destination. Be warned, this isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.

(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)

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