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

September 30, 2010

“The stakes are much higher this time,” says AB about KBC 4

Filed under: What's new — Rajeev @ 10:34 am


Amitabh Bachchan talks about returning to Kaun Banega Crorepati for its fourth season, why he decided to move on from hosting Bigg Boss, his 68th birthday that’s round the corner, and his thoughts about winning the National Award recently for Paa.

(This interview first aired on CNN-IBN)

September 25, 2010

Shankar on ‘Enthiran: The Robot’

Filed under: Video Vault — Rajeev @ 10:41 am

Tamil filmmaker Shankar is considered the country’s most expensive director, and he has an impeccable box office record too. He’s delivered a string of hits including Jeans, Indian, Mudalavan, Boys, and Sivaji, and his latest film, Enthiran: The Robot starring Rajnikant and Aishwarya Rai was made on a budget of Rs 150 crores reportedly. The film will be released in Tamil, Telugu and Hindi. In this interview Shankar talks about working with Rajnikant, and the special effects in Enthiran.

(This interview first aired on CNN-IBN)

September 24, 2010

A greed apart

Filed under: Their Films — Rajeev @ 10:30 pm

September 24, 2010

Cast: Michael Douglas, Shia LaBeouf, Carrey Mulligan, Josh Brolin, Frank Langella, Susan Sarandon

Director: Oliver Stone

“Greed is good,” he famously declared  more than 20 years ago in Oliver Stone’s Wall Street, and Gordon Gekko’s mantra clearly resonated with many in the business world, as the recent global financial meltdown has proved. A sequel set in the present day would appear timely then…

Alas, Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, directed by Stone himself, is too sanitized, too preachy, and ultimately a disappointing follow-up to that delicious film which turned the slimy corporate wheeler-dealer Gekko into a role model for a generation of stock traders.

Michael Douglas reprises his Oscar-winning role as Gekko, and we meet him in 2001 as he’s leaving prison after serving eight years for insider trading. The film quickly jumps another eight years and we meet Gekko again. By this time, he’s written a book titled “Is greed good?”, and it appears he’s had enough of the crooked corporate life.

Gekko remains the most interesting character in the story because his motives are hard to figure out, but he isn’t at the centre of this film. The sequel focuses on a promising young trader, Jacob Moore (played by Shia LaBeouf), who’s engaged to a squeaky-clean, morally upright blogger Winnie (played by Carey Mulligan), who happens to be Gekko’s daughter, although she hasn’t spoken to her father in years.

After the firm for which Jacob works goes under, and his father-figure boss commits suicide, Jacob seeks out Gekko and plots revenge against rival bank-head Bretton James (played by Josh Brolin) who had a big hand in the tragedy.

At two hours and thirteen minutes, Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps is too long, and it’s missing the sense of dangerous fun that made the first film so attractive and enjoyable. Stone directs with a heavy hand, underlining every point he makes, leaving absolutely nothing to subtlety. The message of this movie is clear from early on – greed is bad – and the director takes it upon himself to preach the cancerous effects of greed, trashing the financiers and bankers whose greed has gone to their head and is now threatening to take the global economy with it.

The acting’s solid, particularly from Michael Douglas who appears older and wiser, but still seems to possess that shark-like quality when an enemy crosses him. The best thing about this film are the scenes between Shia LaBeouf and Carey Mulligan whose relationship is the only thing that rings true.

And yet, the film fails to engage for many reasons. If you’re unfamiliar with trader jargon, much of this movie is going to sound like Greek to you. It could have been gritty and realistic, but it goes for a more commercial, populist tone instead. The conflict seems too simplistic, and you’re bored for much of the film’s second hour.

For all these reasons I’m going with two out of five for Oliver Stone’s Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps. Indeed, money may never sleep, but there’s a good chance you will, while watching this film.

(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)

September 22, 2010

In Om Shanti Om, what is the name of the movie at whose premiere Shah Rukh Khan’s character Om Prakash Makhija first sees film-star Shantipriya (played by Deepika Padukone) in person?

Filed under: Quiz — Rajeev @ 12:50 pm

Nagesh Kukunoor on the film that changed his life

Filed under: Video Vault — Rajeev @ 12:35 pm

Filmmaker Nagesh Kukunoor on the film that changed his life.

(This interview first aired on CNN-IBN)

Will Ranbir be Mira Nair’s ‘Reluctant Fundamentalist’?

Filed under: What's new — Rajeev @ 6:00 am


If Ranbir Kapoor harbors any crossover ambitions, Mira Nair might be his means to fulfill them.

I have it on good authority that the Monsoon Wedding director has approached Ranbir to star as the lead in her next film, an adaptation of Pakistani author Mohsin Hamid’s acclaimed book, The Reluctant Fundamentalist.

The film will be produced by a Hollywood studio and will be shot in English.

Ranbir meanwhile, is yet to get back to Mira about his interest in the project. The actor has been asked to read the book so he can decide if he might be interested in starring in the film.

Lahore-based author Mohsin Hamid’s novel was published in 2007, and deals with a Pakistani protagonist’s love affair with, and eventual abandonment of America.

Mira has revealed that she was drawn to the project for a very specific reason: “There have been many films made post-9/11 about the War, about Iraq, about Afghanistan, about this part of our world, also about terrorism… But they’re always seen from the Western point of view, almost never from our point of view. And this film seeks to look at that, but from this part of the world, from Pakistan’s perspective… About how America can be re-examined.” She has explained: “We always used to think that America was the dream, that was the promise, but this film seeks to look at what is happening in the world today in a different way.”

The filmmaker, of course, is no stranger to personal stories about identity, and more specifically, the American dream. Her 2006 adaptation of Jhumpa Lahiri’s book, The Namesake earned strong reviews both in India and the West, and became Irrfan Khan’s calling card to international success.

Ranbir Kapoor, meanwhile, appears to have his plate full in Bollywood. Following the release of Anjaana Anjaani on October 1, the actor will go back to completing Imtiaz Ali’s musical (tentatively titled Rockstar) which is scheduled to release next year. He is committed to starring in Anurag Basu’s Silence in which he plays a deaf-mute character opposite Priyanka Chopra’s mentally challenged character. That film will begin shooting in November. He will also start Wake Up Sid director Ayan Mukherji’s road-movie early next year.

The actor is currently sifting through offers, which include Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra’s Bhaag Milka Bhaag, a biopic of athlete Milka Singh; and Sajid Khan’s superhero film.

September 19, 2010

Trick or treat?

Filed under: Have you seen this? — Rajeev @ 1:58 pm

There are disturbing films and then some. Hard Candy is the kind of film that works when it makes you uncomfortable; that makes you shift in your seat and leaves you all hot and bothered in the end.

It’s the story of a 14-year-old girl who entraps a 32-year-old pedophile on the Internet, gets herself invited to his home, and quickly has him strapped down and helpless. Hard Candy carefully treads the line between titillation and revenge, and it’s riveting because it’s held together by a heroic performance from Juno star Ellen Page who was 17 at the time she played the film’s protagonist.

Never a conventional thriller, the film is for the most part a dramatic battle-of-wits between its two central characters, who spend pretty much the entire duration of the film talking to each other. Shot mostly in a single location, the film is hard to disengage from.

Patrick Wilson, who stars as the girl’s hostage, delivers a brave performance and is especially convincing as he squeals and begs, using everything from polite requests to abusive threats as he tries to talk her out of what she intends to do to him.

Hard Candy works as a psychological thriller, and it challenges you to continue watching. Bold and disturbing, the film is clearly not for the faint-hearted. It throws up the important debate about what is fair punishment for pedophiles.

If you can gather your guts, give it a chance. It’s a film that takes the subject of pedophilia and twists it in such a way that your standard response is challenged severely. Worth a watch, if you have the stomach for it.

Scandalous behavior

Filed under: Have you seen this? — Rajeev @ 1:56 pm

There’s nothing better than a taut, gripping drama, and it doesn’t get much better than Notes On A Scandal.

British actress Judi Dench stars as Barbara Covett, a hard-nosed school-teacher who takes a fancy to the beautiful, new art teacher Sheba Hart played by Cate Blanchett. When she discovers Sheba’s having an affair with a 15-year-old student, Barbara befriends her, promises not to report the scandal, but warns her to end the relationship right away.

Sheba’s grateful to Barbara for showing her the right direction, but she has no idea Barbara has deep-hidden motives. The thing about Barabara is, she’s lonely and she needs someone she can focus her emotions on, someone to whom she can be a confidante and vice versa.

Barbara has chosen Sheba to be that person, and for a while Sheba goes along. But when she suspects Barbara might be nursing sexual feelings for her, Sheba begins to withdraw. That’s when Barbara strikes. In one single blow, she ruins Sheba’s life forever.

The star of the film is without doubt Judi Dench, who plays Barbara as a bitter, caustic woman whose words are dripping with sarcasm. She plays down the lesbian undertones but creates this uncomfortable air of quiet desperation every time she’s in the presence of Sheba. And that’s really what makes this film so good.

Cate Blanchett plays Sheba as a radiantly beautiful woman who seems much too distracted herself to notice how she’s being manipulated.

The film’s real charm lies in the mood that it creates, a sort of ticking time bomb-like urgency because you know it’s all going to blow up and you can’t wait to see how and when…

Notes On A Scandal is like bitter chocolate. It’s dark, but sinfully delicious.

Madhur Bhandarkar on the film that changed his life

Filed under: Video Vault — Rajeev @ 1:55 pm

Filmmaker Madhur Bhandarkar talks about the film that changed his life.

(This interview first aired on CNN-IBN)

September 18, 2010

The irony of the founding of Facebook

Filed under: What I'm Reading — Rajeev @ 1:30 pm
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