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

August 30, 2010

Karan, Kareena & Arjun on ‘We Are Family’

Filed under: What's new — Rajeev @ 7:32 pm


Producer Karan Johar and the stars of We Are Family Kareena Kapoor and Arjun Rampal talk about working with Kajol, and why this was one boring set to be on.

This interview is divided into 2 videos.

(This interview first aired on CNN-IBN)

James Cameron on re-releasing Avatar

Filed under: What's new — Rajeev @ 6:45 pm


In an exclusive interview I conducted in Santa Monica on August 12, 2010, James Cameron explains why he’s re-releasing Avatar, and discusses why Titanic will be a whole new experience when you watch it in 3D in 2012. The filmmaker also talks about the performance capture technology, and responds to criticism that Inception was a smarter film than Avatar.

This interview is divided into 2 videos.

(This interview first aired on CNN-IBN)

Karan Johar on the film that changed his life

Filed under: Video Vault — Rajeev @ 6:26 pm

Filmmaker Karan Johar talks about the film that changed his life.

(This interview first aired on CNN-IBN)

Shekhar Kapoor on the film that changed his life

Filed under: Video Vault — Rajeev @ 6:24 pm

Filmmaker Shekhar Kapoor on the film that changed his life.

(This interview first aired on CNN-IBN)

Shyam Benegal on the film that changed his life

Filed under: Video Vault — Rajeev @ 6:22 pm

Filmmaker Shyam Benegal talks about the film that changed his life.

(This interview first aired on CNN-IBN)

Ramgopal Varma on the film that changed his life

Filed under: Video Vault — Rajeev @ 6:19 pm

Filmmaker Ramgopal Varma talks about the film that changed his life.

(This interview first aired on CNN-IBN)

Mahesh Bhatt on the film that changed his life

Filed under: Video Vault — Rajeev @ 6:16 pm

Filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt talks about the film that changed his life.

(This interview first aired on CNN-IBN)

Bellissima, madame!

Filed under: Have you seen this? — Rajeev @ 6:05 pm

Nothing short of a mini-masterpiece, the Italian film Malena is the coming-of-age story of a 12-year-old boy in Sicily who becomes fixated with the town’s most beautiful and voluptuous resident, the wife of a local soldier who’s away at war. The lady in question, Malena, played by Monica Bellucci, has the entire town in a tizzy. Men of all ages find her utterly irresistible, and to the women, she’s a slut, a home-wrecker and also the target of some very malicious gossip.

Renato, the young Italian boy who’s become obsessed with her, might actually be the only person in the whole town who has an idea of who she really is. Having climbed up a tree outside her house, Renato has spied on her; he’s seen her dancing sadly with her husband’s photograph. He’s also followed her across town when she visits her father’s grave. When he notices men in the town staring at her lustfully, and women giving her spiteful looks, Renato creates a sort of imaginary world in his head where he becomes Malena’s protector.

It’s a boyish fantasy and sometimes he acts upon it, like that time in school when he fights with the boys who make cheap comments about her. When word comes that Malena’s husband has been killed in war, she’s shattered both emotionally and financially. She ends up becoming exactly what the townspeople had imagined her to be all along.

Directed by Giuseppe Tornatore, the director of that excellent Italian film Cinema Paradiso, the audience sees this story too unfold through the eyes of the young boy. And much like Cinema Paradiso actually, this film, Malena is also essentially a growing-up story. It’s the performances of the two leads that really infuses color into this story.

Monica Bellucci burns up the screen with her sex appeal, she’s also just remarkably beautiful, so she uses that to construct a character that is sometimes girl-next-door, sometimes sex-kitten. What’s more she does this with almost no dialogue. Meanwhile, Giuseppe Sulfaro, the young boy who plays Renato, proves himself to be such a bright young talent because he plays the part with just the right degree of wide-eyed-curiosity and balances that appropriately with quiet maturity.

The film is shot dreamily, the town is filmed postcard-perfect and these factors lend character to this story which is told in flashback by Renato.

If you enjoy good foreign cinema and you don’t have a problem reading subtitles, don’t miss Malena. It’s a film you can’t help losing your heart to.

Faking news

Filed under: Have you seen this? — Rajeev @ 6:00 pm

A thrilling expose film, Shattered Glass is the true-life, fall-from-grace story of promising 20-something journalist Stephen Glass, who was discovered to have fabricated dozens of stories for leading political journal The New Republic.

Hayden Christensen plays Stephen Glass as an amiable kid, too eager-to-be-liked, a bit of a suck-up, if I might say so. Glass is popular among his colleagues and his editors like him, and he comes up with all these interesting stories. But the bubble bursts when a journalist from another publication begins an investigation against Glass on discovering that some of his facts might have been cooked up in one of his stories.

When called upon by his boss to verify his sources, Glass complies, and that’s really the scariest thing about this case — you discover he’s covered his tracks for this entirely fictionalized story by inventing a string of fake phone numbers, websites and contacts.

Subsequently it’s learnt that Glass has been inventing stories left, right and centre, and doesn’t seem particularly repentant on being exposed.

I recommend this film for its engaging plot, for its dramatic arcs and sequence of events, and for two central performances: Hayden Christensen is fantastic as Stephen Glass, and Peter Sarsgaard constructs a wholly layered character out of Glass’ boss., Chuck Lane.

Thrilling and devastating in equal measure.

August 27, 2010

Hope bloats

Filed under: Our FIlms — Rajeev @ 11:35 pm

August 27, 2010

Cast: John Abraham, Sonal Sehgal, Anaitha Nair, Farida Jalal, Girish Karnad

Director: Nagesh Kukunoor

There are many reasons why Aashayein is a difficult film to sit through, but chief among them is its misplaced sense of self-importance.

John Abraham lumbers through his scenes as chain-smoking gambler Rahul, who abandons his live-in girlfriend and takes off to a remote home for the terminally ill when he’s diagnosed with lung cancer. There he smokes some more, befriends the assorted co-patients, and ultimately redeems himself when he sets out to fulfill their last wishes.

It’s a formulaic, tried-and-tested plot that’s inherently manipulative anyway, but director Nagesh Kukunoor weighs it down further with a tone of self-congratulatory smugness. An AIDS-afflicted ex-prostitute (played by our favourite screen-mummy Farida Jalal) is treated like a pariah by the other patients, until Rahul comes along and shows them the error of their ways. He reunites an older speech-impaired patient (played by Girish Karnad) with his estranged family; and softens a caustic teenage patient when he indulges her romantic fantasies.

Aashayein as you can see, is the kind of film that’s yelling out to its audience: “Look at me! Look what a noble, heartfelt film I am!”

The only character in this movie written flexibly enough for an actor to inject any personality into it is Padma, the wheelchair-bound teenager (played by Anaitha Nair) who has a knack of saying all the wrong things at the wrong time. In a film bursting with stereotypes and cardboard caricatures, she’s the only flesh-and-blood character that rings true.

There’s an interesting track involving Rahul’s obsession with the cult film Raiders of the Lost Ark, but it’s sadly overwritten and ends up becoming so ridiculous that you wish they’d never tried.

Unlike Kukunoor’s earlier gem Iqbal – also a formulaic film but one that pushed all the right buttons – Aashayein is contrived and goes for emotional overkill instead of subtle humour. The film’s pre-climax scene in which Rahul finally agrees to Padma’s last wish is calculated to get those tear-ducts going. But it’s so awkwardly performed and written that it comes off as laughably stupid and defeats its very purpose.

John Abraham’s shoulders may be broad, but he can’t seem to lift this sinking mess of a movie. He struggles through the emotional scenes, never really helped by Kukunoor’s shoddy writing and ham-fisted direction.

I’m going with one-and-a-half out of five for Aashayein. Intended as a heart-felt story, it is in fact a serious test of your patience.

(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)

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