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

December 9, 2011

Gun crazy

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

December 09, 2011

Cast: Gerard Butler, Michelle Monaghan, Michael Shannon, Madeline Carroll, Kathy Baker

Director: Marc Forster

Machine Gun Preacher is a true-life story that stars Gerard Butler as Sam Childers, a Pennsylvania druggie and hardened criminal whose life changed when he found Jesus. During a missionary trip to Africa, Childers became obsessed with rescuing Sudanese children that were orphaned and recruited by the vicious Lord’s Resistance Army.

It’s meant to be an inspirational story, but Childers’ transformation from a heroin-injecting junkie to a hymn-singing family man is so swift and unconvincing that it’s hard to wrap your head around this character. His heart is in the right place – he builds an orphanage in the middle of this war-torn territory – but given how unflinchingly he picks up a gun and begins shooting down LRA insurgents, you can’t help but question his mercenary methods.

It’s all played out so sincerely and simplistically that it’s hard to connect with; and had the central role been performed by an actor capable of conveying greater complexity, perhaps this might have been a moving film. But Butler plays it like he’s in a gritty action movie and that’s a large part of the reason why this film doesn’t work.

I’m going with one-and-a-half out of five for Machine Gun Preacher. There’s more gunning than preaching here, and the film’s best intentions get diluted in that bloodbath. Not the best way to spend your weekend.

(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)

December 6, 2011

Tom Cruise on performing those dare-devil stunts

Filed under: Video Vault — Rajeev @ 2:07 pm

In this interview, conducted on December 4, 2011 in Mumbai at the red-carpet of a special fan screening of Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, Hollywood star Tom Cruise talks about wanting to come to India all his life, about his friendship with Anil Kapoor, and about how the Mission Impossible films have evolved over the years.

(This interview first aired on CNN-IBN)

December 2, 2011

Farhan Akhtar on playing Milkha Singh in Rakeysh Mehra’s next film

Filed under: Video Vault — Rajeev @ 11:49 pm

In this interview, Farhan Akhtar explains why he decided to make Don 2, sequel to his 2006 hit, and also talks about his acting jobs in this year’s Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, and the Milkha Singh biopic he’ll begin shooting for shortly.

(This interview first aired on CNN-IBN)

Served bold

Filed under: Our FIlms — Rajeev @ 10:32 pm

December 02, 2011

Cast: Vidya Balan, Naseeruddin Shah, Tusshar Kapoor, Emraan Hashmi,

Director: Milan Luthria

Vidya Balan goes where few have gone before, putting it all out there, literally, for the sake of her art. Pity it’s for a film as unremarkable as The Dirty Picture.

At one point in this movie, her character, a titillating dancing star of the 80s, says there are only three ingredients in a film that can guarantee its success: “Entertainment, entertainment, and entertainment.” It’s a point director Milan Luthria and his writer Rajat Arora seem determined to beat into our heads. For The Dirty Picture seems to have been made specifically to shock you.

All those lured in solely by the promise of skin-show are unlikely to complain. Yet, despite its masala scenes, heavy dialoguebaazi and liberal sexual innuendo, in the final analysis, this film is far from perfect. The Dirty Picture takes an unconventional idea and bakes it in a predictable oven.

What it suffers most from, unfortunately, is lazy writing. With a plot straight out of a Madhur Bhandarkar film, and a screenplay that follows a familiar graph, The Dirty Picture offers a superficial, simplistic view of the seamy, exploitative side of the 80s film industry. There is little attempt to treat this material with sensitivity and depth. No sir, this film unfolds as a series of provocative scenes strung together on the strength of their sexually loaded dialogues.

Despite repeated testimonials on the part of its makers that their inspiration isn’t Silk Smitha, The Dirty Picture still comes across as a thinly-veiled life-story of the famous South Indian screen siren. In typical filmi fashion, the story opens with Reshma, a village girl, running away to Madras to realize her impossible dreams. Reshma is a Plain Jane, but she wants to be a star. Grabbing an opportunity with both hands, Reshma gyrates seductively in her first break before the camera. She acquires the name Silk, falls into an affair with a much-married superstar, and a siren is born. Her downfall, incidentally, is as quick as her rise – Silk’s recklessness makes her overdose on a cocktail of disastrous love affairs, alcohol, bad debts and excess.

Over the course of the film’s 2 hours 20 minutes running time, we’re introduced to the men in Silk’s life. Naseeruddin Shah is expectedly first-rate as the egotistical, ageing superstar Suryakant, who exploits Silk, then cuts her off ruthlessly. Heartbroken, she takes up with his younger brother Ramakant, played by Tusshar Kapoor. This character seems forced into the plot, and Tusshar is miscast, as is evident by a bizarrely comical dance he breaks into, straight out of those Golmaal movies. Emraan Hashmi is appropriately restrained as Abraham, a director who believes in film as art, and who abhors the idea of inserting steamy numbers in his movie to lure in the crowds. His hatred for Silk seems misplaced, and so does his sudden change of heart…and yet he has the most interesting dynamic with the siren. Alas, it’s too little too late.

Despite the film’s shortcomings, you go the distance for Vidya Balan, who’s riveting as Silk. She plays the part with gusto – it’s a rare performance, one that’s this brave and uninhibited. Vidya pushes the envelope in the way she bares herself both physically and emotionally. Watch how she stops traffic by dancing on the bonnet of a car to disrupt a party she isn’t invited to, or the scene in which she saucily lounges naked in a bathtub while giving an interview to a journalist. Vidya’s lack of vanity and complete surrender to her craft reinforces why she’s miles ahead of her contemporaries.

Alas, one can’t muster up the same enthusiasm for the film. For although The Dirty Picture is nicely shot and comes with a foot-tapping score from Vishal-Shekhar, the makers seem too preoccupied with the style and the fashion of those times. The film is refreshingly judgment-free, but leaves you confused about your feelings for Silk in the end – is she a victim, or just someone who made her bed and had to lay in it?

I’m going with two out of five for the film, and an additional one for Vidya Balan alone, which makes it three out of five for The Dirty Picture. It’s an average film made eminently watchable by its courageous star. Go on, give her the awards already!

(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)

Cool cat!

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

December 02, 2011

Cast: Voices of Antonio Banderas, Salma Hayek, Zach Galifianakis, Billy Bob Thornton, Amy Sedaris

Director: Chris Miller

The swashbuckling ginger cat with a gravelly voice and an attitude to boot might have first shown up in the Shrek movies, but he finally gets his place in the sun as the charming lead of Puss in Boots.

Antonio Banderas returns to lend his growly Spanish purr to our Zorro-like tabby cat-hero, who’s very sure of himself and his seductive ways with female felines, until he meets his match in Kitty Softpaws, a formidable pussy voiced by Salma Hayek. Sparks fly between the two from the very moment they compete in a thrilling dance-off that’ll have you cheering for more.

We’re also introduced to our hero’s best friend from childhood, Humpty Dumpty (voiced by Zach Galifianakis), who was like a brother to Puss when they were raised together at an orphanage, until Humpty betrayed him. He’s back now, seeking forgiveness and Puss’ help in stealing some magic beans that will send them up a giant beanstalk to get their hands on a coveted goose that lays gold eggs.

This is an enjoyable adventure with lots of frenetic moments and some witty banter between the three protagonists. Like the Shrek movies, this film too cheerfully references a few popular fairytales including Jack and Jill, and Jack and the Beanstalk. It’s also visually rich – likely to be best enjoyed in 2D – and consistently amusing, though not in a laugh-out-loud way.

I’m going with three-and-a-half out of five for Puss in Boots. This is one cool cat, and it’s a good thing he got his own movie!

(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)

Masand’s Verdict: Safe to say no to Yes Man

Filed under: Uncategorized — Rajeev @ 7:15 am

  Cast: Jim Carrey, Zooey Deschanel
Director: Peyton Reed

In the new Hollywood comedy Yes Man, Jim Carrey stars as a sad-sack bank-loan officer who still hasn’t recovered emotionally from his divorce three years ago.

He avoids his friends, stays locked up at home most days, and isn’t particularly nice to his boss either. A chance encounter with an old friend inspires him to attend a self-help seminar where a modern-day guru convinces him he’s got to say “yes” to every opportunity if he really wants to turn around his life.

To his surprise, the just-say-yes strategy yields welcome results. For example, when he grudgingly agrees to help a homeless fellow, he lands up meeting a free-spirited young lady (played by Zooey Deschanel) who he starts a romantic relationship with.

We also see what happens when he says no – it invariably invites disaster. Like the time he turns down the sexual advances of his toothless, elderly neighbour, only to go back and give in when he learns the painful way that there really is no way out of this “yes” commitment.

Constructed around a flimsy premise, the plot of Yes Man is really a limp one – in the end, it’s a one-line concept that’s been stretched too far.

You know exactly what’s going to happen and why, and that’s never much fun. In fact I was reminded of Jim Carrey’s Liar Liar while watching this film because both have a similar concept at their core.

That film, however, was a lot more entertaining because Jim Carrey was allowed to completely loosen up and go wild. He desperately wants to lie, but a lie won’t escape his lips, it was hysterical. In this film, he’s got to say yes and he wants to say yes anyway, so where’s the fun?

Having said that, I must confess I was still very impressed by Jim Carrey’s performance in the film because it’s not one of his typically comic ones, there’s an undercurrent of sadness that he brings here, which even makes the film deep at times.

On the whole it’s not an entirely unwatchable film, but not the kind you’re likely to count among Jim Carrey’s best either.

Two out of five for Yes Man. You won’t be punished if you decide to say no to this one!

Rating: 2 / 5 (Average)

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December 1, 2011

I wish SRK luck for Paanchvi Paas…: Big B

Filed under: Uncategorized — Rajeev @ 11:55 pm

  After SRK, is the Big B planning to return to the small screen? CNN-IBN’s Entertainment Editor Rajeev Masand finds out in this exclusive chat with Amitabh Bachchan.

Rajeev Masand: You have a commitment with Star TV to do something with television. What is the nature of the shows that you are discussing? I ask this specifically because after Kaun Banega Crorepati the game show format seems a little redundant now.

Amitabh Bachchan: This is exactly what I have been telling all the television channels who have approached me. There is a balance amount left over with Star TV and we are looking into how we can accommodate that. But yes, it is time to think of something new and normal.

I have spoken to several channel heads and they are battling with new ideas but if nothing comes up then I will go back to the tried and tested formula of game shows or question-and-answer shows.

Rajeev Masand: Shah Rukh Khan’s new show Kya Aap Paanchvi Paas Se Tez Hain is also a quiz show. It is perhaps filling in the void that KBC left. Have you had a chance to see it?

Amitabh Bachchan: I haven’t seen it. But I saw the master, the original. It was put up to me as one of the options that I would do. But it has gone to Shah Rukh now and I wish him all the best for it.

Rajeev Masand: Are you looking at other formats like acting on television?

Amitabh Bachchan: I don’t think so. But you never know, circumstances maybe such in life that you may finally end up acting on television.

Vishal-Shekhar revisit their biggest hits

Filed under: Uncategorized — Rajeev @ 11:54 pm

  Mumbai: They are without a doubt the most popular music composers working in Bollywood currently with a string of hits behind them — Jhankaar Beats, Salaam Namaste and Om Shanti Om which went on to become last year’s highest selling music album. Watch music directors Vishal and Shekhar revisit some of their biggest musical hits.

Shahid Kapoor reveals all about painful break-up

Filed under: Uncategorized — Rajeev @ 11:50 pm

  Mumbai: For the first time speaking directly about the pain he felt after his highly publicised break-up, Actor Shahid Kapoor explains exactly how difficult it was promoting his film at the time that his relationship was crumbling. CNN-IBN’s Entertainment Editor Rajeev Masand spoke to the actor about the upside of success and the flip side of heartbreak in this exclusive interview.

Rajeev Masand: Your personal life and your break-up with your girlfriend was much in the spot- light around the time when Jab We Met was being released. So was it difficult for you to be fielding questions constantly about your personal life and the break-up at a time when you were already anxious about a new release?

Shahid Kapoor: Yes, it was a very trying period for me for almost a month, and it was very clearly a question for me of choosing between my personal feelings and my profession.

I had two choices, one was to come back and not talk at all, not go out in the press and not interact with the media— which would save me the pain of answering questions which I am uncomfortable about, or go out there and promote my film which was releasing in three weeks.

I chose to do the latter, because I think it was important for me as a hero to be there for my film and I had great faith in the film. So yes it was difficult and uncomfortable but I accepted that as a part of the way things work out here.

I am super picky about films: Kajol

Filed under: Uncategorized — Rajeev @ 11:48 pm

  Two years after Fanah, Kajol lights up the screen once more in U Me Aur Hum. Entertainment Editor, CNN-IBN Rajeev Masand caught up with the actress.

Rajeev Masand: Welcome to Now Showing let me start with the question that comes to you very often. Are you often asked why you work so less these days?

Kajol: As I said before and I would say it again, and again and again. I always was picky and I have gotten really superpicky now. I need something to validate my time away from my daughter. It has to be worth it.

Rajeev Masand: Do you miss the sets?

Kajol: Not really. I didn’t work for two years and I didn’t miss it at all.

Rajeev Masand: We are going to see you in U Me Aur Hum that your husband Ajay Devgan has directed. Did he talk to you about this project when he was developing it just as a project that he wanted to direct and that you come on board later, how did he put it into play?

Kajol: We were just talking about it and I thought that the script sounded really exciting. I asked him what the basic idea was and it was superb. And that was what really got the ball rolling. It just evolved after that.

Actually speaking the script that we heard and what we eventually made came out to be totally different.

Rajeev Masand: We are going to ask you questions that we ask actors on the show, what was the first film you ever saw?

Kajol: I do not remember the first film that I ever saw but we used to watch black and white TV. They televised Chayageet, on Saturday they showed a Hindi film and on Sunday they showed a Marathi film. Those were my earliest memories of movies.

Rajeev Masand: What film are you embarrassed to reveal that you love?

Kajol: I don’t get embarrassed much actually. I am quite bad but I loved Sholay. I know all the dialogues of the film. I really loved the film.

Rajeev Masand: What is your favourite snack while watching a movie?

Kajol: Popcorn that is salted with extra butter or cheese. All that put together and that is very fattening.

Rajeev Masand: What quality did the best directors share with you because you really worked with some very good directors?

Kajol: The best quality that you can ever ask from a director is clarity. As long as you know what the director is doing then you have a good director on hand.

Rajeev Masand: Who is your favourite actor or actress of all times?

Kajol: My actress of all times is Sreedevi, I love her and adore her. She is superb as an actress. I do not know if you do agree with me on this point but I think that she is like a chameleon. I have met her, I have seen her on screen and have watched all the films that she has done. Her fil Chaalbaaz is one of the most entertaining films. She is so much the character and not Sreedevi and I love that about her.

Rajeev Masand: What is your best quality as an actor?

Kajol: My best quality as an actor is that I have a very vivid imagination.

Rajeev Masand: What’s your greatest weakness as an actor?

Kajol: My greatest weakness as an actor is the fact that there are certain things that I believe about myself which I cannot overcome even for taking a risk on a movie or taking a risk in front of the camera.

If I don’t believe that it is looking good or that it is working for me then regardless of whether it is working for me or anybody else, it doesn’t work for me. I do not know whether it is a weakness or a super-critical mind but I consider that as a weakness really.

Rajeev Masand: What will they be writing about your work 50 years from now?

Kajol: I don’t want them to write about my work like that. I will already be 90 and will have one foot in the grave. That’s not me. That is such a long time to go, please.

Rajeev Masand: Best of luck and hoping that you will continuously surprise us with the work of your choices, thank you so much for talking to us.

Kajol: Thank you.

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