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

September 26, 2014

Booty fall

Filed under: Their Films — Rajeev @ 10:33 pm

September 26, 2014

Cast: Miles Teller, Analeigh Tipton, Jessica Szohr, Kid Cudi, Leven Rambin

Director: Max Nichols

Some movies are perfectly watchable, just not compelling enough to make a trip to the cinema for. Two Night Stand is one of those films. It’s your standard rom-com, featuring pleasant enough actors and a premise that sounds promising. But an hour into the film when nothing – and I mean absolutely nothing – original happens, you’ll wish you’d waited for the DVD instead.

Recently dumped by her fiance, also jobless and broke, depressed New Yorker Megan (Analeigh Tipton) finally musters up the courage and signs up on an online dating site. Taking her roommate’s advice to pursue a no-strings-attached one-night-stand, she begins chatting with Alec (Miles Teller), the first guy who seems moderately interesting, and heads over to his place for a hookup. But when they get into an argument the next morning, she’s horrified to discover that overnight the city has been hit by a massive blizzard and that she can’t get out of his apartment building. You know what happens next! Trapped in his flat for two nights, they inevitably find themselves drawn to each other.

Aside from a few sharply written scenes – including one in which they give each other tips on how to be better in the sack – the film feels tired and over-familiar, and never breaks new ground. What’s more, the script doesn’t offer any profound or deep insights about love or sex or even online dating, making this the kind of harmless, time-pass film you could enjoy while simultaneously cleaning out your cupboard. Nevertheless, director Max Nichols (son of Mike Nichols, who directed Dustin Hoffman in his breakout film, The Graduate) lucks out with two talented leads who breathe life into familiar tropes. Both Tipton and Teller have a charming presence and a nice chemistry; they even make some of the flat dialogue work.

I’m going with two out of five for Two Night Stand. It’s cutesy and inoffensive, but also entirely forgettable.

(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)

Devil’s (not) in the detail

Filed under: Their Films — Rajeev @ 10:32 pm

September 26, 2014

Cast: Eric Bana, Edgar Ramirez, Joel McHale, Olivia Munn, Sean Harris

Director: Scott Derrickson

Deliver Us From Evil is supposedly inspired by true events, although you’ll be hard pressed to guess what portions in this fairly routine demonic-possession film could possibly be rooted in reality. Director Scott Derrickson employs all the usual clichés of the genre – bats, Latin verses, little children in peril, and screeching cats – to cook up a reasonably creepy first hour. But he can’t seem to prevent the film from sinking into an abyss of predictability as it plods into its third act.

Eric Bana puts in a sincere performance playing hardened NYPD cop Ralph Sarchie, who appears to have a ‘radar’ when it comes to detecting sinister crimes. This keeps him busy in his South Bronx precinct, where he becomes involved in a series of increasingly strange events, including the investigation of a mother who flings her baby near the lions’ den at the zoo. Things become clearer when he meets Rev Joe Mendonza (Edgar Ramirez), a chain-smoking, hard-drinking priest who’s convinced that these hideous incidents are linked to a malevolent presence.

Unsettling but never terrifying, the film doesn’t deliver the same punch Derrickson gave us with his far superior previous films, The Exorcism of Emily Rose and Sinister. An attempt to link the songs of The Doors into the film’s horror plot is misguided and laughable at best, while the big exorcism scene in the climax – although impressively staged – feels just too long to hold your attention.

I’m going with two out of five for Deliver Us From Evil. There are some interesting themes at play, but sadly they aren’t explored with much inventiveness.

(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)

Hrithik Roshan & Katrina Kaif play ‘Never Ever Have I…’

Filed under: Video Vault — Rajeev @ 10:30 pm

In this interview with Rajeev Masand, Hrithik Roshan and Katrina Kaif talk about remaking the Tom Cruise starrer Knight & Day into Bang Bang! The actors explain their approach to filming the action scenes, and reveal how they overcome personal challenges to meet the film’s demands. They also participate in a revealing game that’ll give you an idea of just what makes them tick.

(This interview first aired on CNN-IBN)

September 25, 2014

Shankar: “The audience expects me to make big films”

Filed under: What's new — Rajeev @ 9:10 pm


In this interview with Rajeev Masand, visionary Tamil filmmaker Shankar talks about his new film I, about reuniting with his Anniyan star Vikram, and about pushing the boundaries of creativity but being limited by budgets. The director of such blockbuster films as Indian, Jeans & Enthiran also talks about filming in China and about the potential of Tamil films to cross over to non-Tamil-speaking markets.





(This interview first aired on CNN-IBN)

Chiyaan Vikram: “Success was hard-earned; can’t take it for granted”

Filed under: Video Vault — Rajeev @ 12:19 pm

In this interview with Rajeev Masand, Tamil star Vikram talks about his grueling physical transformations for Shankar’s new film I. The actor also reveals how they kept his many looks in the film a closely guarded secret during production.

(This interview first aired on CNN-IBN)

September 19, 2014

Farah Khan: “The time apart (from Shah Rukh) was good for both of us”

Filed under: Video Vault — Rajeev @ 10:42 pm

In this interview with Rajeev Masand, Farah Khan, the 49-year-old filmmaker of such blockbusters as Main Hoon Na and Om Shanti Om talks about the failure of her last film Tees Maar Khan, about being betrayed by those she believed were close friends, and about her relationship with Shah Rukh Khan whom she’s reunited with after a much-discussed falling-out a few years ago. She also explains why she won’t work with Akshay Kumar again, and reveals exactly how she felt when her brother Sajid Khan was hauled over the coals for Humshakals recently. Of her own new film Happy New Year, Farah explains why it’s a feminist statement of sorts, and why she’s confident it’ll be a monster hit.

(This interview first aired on CNN-IBN)

Klutz alert!

Filed under: Our FIlms — Rajeev @ 10:35 pm

September 19, 2014

Cast: Sonam Kapoor, Fawad Khan, Ratna Pathak Shah, Kirron Kher, Aamir Raza Hussain

Director: Shashanka Ghosh

The Disney logo at the start of Khoobsurat is a telling sign of what to expect from the film. This isn’t so much a remake of the Hrishikesh Mukherjee-directed comedy starring Rekha, as it is a squeaky-clean chick-flick from the Mouse House. Sure the premise – of a free-spirited girl who loosens up a stuffy family that’s headed by a strict matriarch – is reminiscent of that 1980 gem, but director Shashanka Ghosh and his writers literally root their story in a Rajasthan palace, turning it into a charming Princess Diaries -like fairytale.

Sonam Kapoor is Mili, a middle-class physiotherapist whose expensive wardrobe suggests she’s clearly good at what she does. When she shows up to work with a blueblood (Aamir Raza Hussain) who’s lost the use of his legs, we learn that she’s a klutz too. The lady of the house, Nirmala Devi (Ratna Pathak Shah), has little patience for Mili’s blatant disregard for rules, but her son, Prince Vikram (Fawad Khan), finds himself slowly drawn to this ball of manic energy.

Inoffensive and entirely predictable, the film follows a familiar narrative that rarely springs any surprises on you. There’s a stubborn patient to convert, palace staff to win over, and a confused teenage girl to inspire…nothing Mili can’t achieve without resorting to a tantrum or breaking into a dance routine. Yawn. Still it’s a breezy watch, not least because the film focuses primarily on the love story, and because the leads have palpable romantic chemistry. Fawad, who plays the humorless, straitlaced royal is the perfect foil to Sonam’s hyperactive rebel. Their scenes together crackle with sexual tension (yes, in a Disney film!) and Mili even gets to make a joke about it.

Shashanka, who revealed a knack for delicious left-of-field humor in his previous directorial outings (Waisa Bhi Hota Hai Part II and Quick Gun Murugun) flexes those comic chops in scenes involving Mili’s overbearing motor-mouth mother (a terrific Kirron Kher). There are laughs to be had also in the exchanges between Mili and Vikram, whose real thoughts are conveyed to us through the voiceovers in their heads.

Much of this works because the cast appears to be having a good time on screen, and to be honest that enthusiasm is infectious. Sonam Kapoor, doing some of her better work here, is nicely goofy and consistently endearing as the unpredictable Mili who seldom filters her thoughts before speaking. Fawad Khan is a perfect fit as the charming Prince, silent mostly, repeatedly rolling his eyes, arching his brow, struggling to wrap his head around this ticking time-bomb of a girl. A word here also for the excellent Ratna Pathak Shah, whose tightly wound Nirmala Devi isn’t so much a tyrannical disciplinarian like her mother Dina Pathak was, playing the same part in the original film.

There are problems too, particularly a handful of script contrivances that jar. A break-up between a couple that’s engaged to be married feels strangely sterile, and the protagonist’s way of dealing with heartbreak towards the end of the film feels ‘different’ for the sake of it. But these are minor quibbles in a film that is inherently sweet. Khoobsurat, then, is a good example of how formula, when done skillfully, doesn’t have to be a bad thing.

I’m going with three out of five. It may not be for everyone, but for those who seek comfort in the familiar, it’s a pretty satisfying watch.

(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)

Love’s flavour lost

Filed under: Our FIlms — Rajeev @ 10:31 pm

September 19, 2014

Cast: Aditya Roy Kapur, Parineeti Chopra, Anupam Kher, Karan Wahi

Director: Habib Faisal

Texture is everything, and writer-director Habib Faisal is in on that secret. From the car-purchasing ambition of a middle-class school teacher’s family in Do Dooni Chaar, to the rapidly expanding business plans of a pair of hardworking Janakpuri entrepreneurs in Band Baaja Baaraat (which Faisal scripted), he understands well that rooting one’s characters in a world that feels familiar and relatable is half the battle won. That’s the part he gets right again in Daawat-e-Ishq, whose universe feels real and characters fully flesh-and-blood even if their actions aren’t entirely convincing.

Tired of encountering dowry-seeking families and spineless prospective grooms, working-class Hyderabadis Gulrez (Parineeti Chopra) and her father (Anupam Kher) hatch an outlandish plan to get even. This brings them to Lucknow, where strapping kabab-shop heir Tariq (Aditya Roy Kapur) walks right into their trap. Inevitably, complications arise when love threatens to derail this carefully planned con.

Not many Hindi films have successfully woven food into their narratives, but Faisal achieves that nicely from early on in Daawat-e-Ishq. Kababs, biryanis, jalebis and phirnis all get their close-ups, yet the film is unmistakably bland. For one, the romance between the protagonists feels hurried and unconvincing, established quickly over a bunch of songs. The climax too, which unfolds at a railway platform, is so rushed and convenient that you’re never fully satisfied that the issues between them have been truly resolved. More problematic, to be honest, is the film’s sloppy handling of the very issue it claims to address. Think about it: we’re meant to root for a woman who brazenly misuses a provision made by law that protects victims of dowry harassment.

Fortunately the actors bring their A-game to the film, glossing over many of the script problems. Parineeti Chopra is genuine and affecting, although she’s played this kind of spirited character a few times before. Aditya Roy Kapur, in a part more flamboyant than he’s tackled previously, gets the body language just right and builds from there. Anupam Kher strikes the right balance between comical and vulnerable, constructing a character that feels immediately recognizable.

Daawat-e-Ishq coasts along comfortably until intermission, then comes undone when multiple twists in the second half require complete sacrifice of logic. The humor dries up fast, and even at a running time of 2 hours, the film feels overlong.

I’m going with 2 out of 5. What started off promisingly is never fully exploited. Shame.

(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)

September 17, 2014

Sonam Kapoor on Fawad Khan: “I wanted a hero who was good-looking, but not more than me”

Filed under: Video Vault — Rajeev @ 6:21 pm

In this interview with Rajeev Masand, Khoobsurat stars Sonam Kapoor and Fawad Khan reveal what made them want to appear in this remake of the much-loved Hrishikesh Mukherjee hit. Sonam explains why she could relate to the misfit protagonist she plays in the film, and defends the sometimes controversial statements she tends to make. Fawad, meanwhile, talks about meeting Anil Kapoor whose Mr India he was a fan of while growing up.

(This interview first aired on CNN-IBN)

September 16, 2014

Arnold Schwarznegger: “I’d love to make an Indian film. I’ll be back”

Filed under: Video Vault — Rajeev @ 1:07 am

In this interview with Rajeev Masand, Hollywood legend Arnold Schwarznegger talks about his many visits to India, and about being here currently to attend the music release of Tamil director Shankar’s latest film I. The 67-year-old star of such films as Terminator, Predator, Total Recall and True Lies reveals that he’d be happy to make an Indian movie soon.

(This interview first aired on CNN-IBN)

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