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

November 15, 2013

Imran Khan & Kareena Kapoor on their ‘vegetarian’ chemistry in the movies

Filed under: Video Vault — Rajeev @ 9:52 pm

In this interview with Rajeev Masand, Imran Khan and Kareena Kapoor, the stars of Gori Tere Pyaar Mein, talk about their ‘vegetarian’ chemistry in the movies, and attempt to explain why both their films together have had references to…ahem…the posterior.

(This interview first aired on CNN-IBN)

Coming Soon: The Bollywood Roundtable 2013: The Actresses

Filed under: Video Vault — Rajeev @ 12:47 am

Coming Soon on CNN-IBN, a new season of The Bollywood Roundtables with Rajeev Masand. For our first edition, we assembled four actresses who delivered the best performances in 2013: Deepika Padukone (Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani/Ram Leela), Vidya Balan (Ghanchakkar), Kangana Ranaut (Krrish 3), and Nimrat Kaur (The Lunchbox) to share tales from their filmmaking journey. Stay tuned.

November 8, 2013

Bad company

Filed under: Our FIlms — Rajeev @ 10:37 pm

November 08, 2013

Cast: Punit Singh Ratn, Anaika Soti, Mahesh Thakur

Director: Ram Gopal Varma

Cinema has the power to shock you, but Ram Gopal Varma takes that quite literally in Satya 2. In one particularly gruesome scene, a burkha-clad woman wielding an electric drill directs the weapon towards a rapist’s crotch, and blood splatters everywhere. This is Varma’s idea of the new underworld, where citizens play vigilantes, forming an anonymous ‘company’ that strikes fear in the hearts of the rich and the powerful. The mastermind behind this nameless crime enterprise is Satya (newcomer Punit Singh Ratn), a man who deliberately keeps his background a secret so he cannot be caught.

The film traces the journey of this bespectacled everyman who comes to Mumbai with a chilling plan to redefine the underworld. “My company will have no name, but the product it’ll deal in is fear,” he tells construction magnates who bankroll his daring plan to assassinate a top industrialist, a police commissioner, and a media baron all in one day. Satya recruits those who are disillusioned with the system, including a former encounter cop, but keeps a low profile so even his wife and his closest friends have no idea what he’s up to. One of these friends is a skimpily clad starlet named ‘Special’, who is so unremarkable that you wonder how she acquired that name.

To be fair, somewhere buried in this muddled film there is an interesting idea of why citizens are forced to stand up for themselves. Through sweeping top shots, we see a metropolis bursting at the seams and rotting with neglect. But the film goes downhill as Satya turns into a messiah, rectifying the system’s injustice and giving us mind-numbing speeches in an expressionless monotone. Leading man Puneet in fact is one of the chief reasons the film doesn’t work. He delivers a labored performance and appears to have the emotional range of a plank of plywood. As is a staple in Varma’s films, there is a motley crew of singularly unattractive characters, including a disfigured, bald henchman whose chief purpose is to stare straight into the camera.

Comparisons are odious, but when you title a film after your best work yet, who is to blame? Varma’s seminal 1998 film Satya redefined the underworld genre, and while Satya 2 may not be his worst film, it has no resemblance to that exciting, clutter-breaking gem.

Many, many times during this overlong film, we hear that the underworld company formed by the protagonist is just a thought, and not an actual entity that can be snuffed out by the cops. Much in the same vein, Satya 2 is not so much an engaging film as it is an interesting idea that Varma squanders away with a hackneyed script, and an ensemble of over-actors.

I’m going with one-and-a-half out of five for Ram Gopal Varma’s Satya 2. We’ve been waiting for a film that gives us a fresh take on crime in the city. Sadly, this is not that film.

(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)

Mighty bore

Filed under: Their Films — Rajeev @ 10:35 pm

November 08, 2013

Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Anthony Hopkins, Christopher Eccleston, Idris Elba, Kat Dennings, Stellan Skarsgard

Director: Alan Taylor

Having overcome exile and battled his treacherous brother in 2011’s Thor, before teaming up with a band of dysfunctional superheroes to protect the earth from the same power-mad sibling in last year’s The Avengers, our hammer-hurling demi-god returns to vanquish a new enemy in Thor: The Dark World.

Fresh off his charming portrayal of cocky racecar driver James Hunt in Rush, Chris Hemsworth slips back into his Asgardian armor as he prepares to take on The Dark Elves in this ridiculously complicated story. Turns out this ancient race of evil aliens, led by the vengeful Malekith (Christopher Eccleston) is seeking a powerful energy source that has somehow found its way into the body of Thor’s astrophysicist girlfriend Jane Foster (Natalie Portman). Left with no choice but to reunite with his unreliable brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston), currently locked away in a prison cell in Asgard, Thor must not only protect his ladylove, but also foil Malekith’s plan to plunge the entire cosmos into darkness and despair.

Everything moves at a frenetic pace in this film, giving you barely any chance to enjoy the action, to soak in a clever one-liner, or to mourn the death of a loved character. The special effects are pretty impressive, but Asgard still looks like a gaudy Vegas attraction. What’s surprising about the film is how spectacularly uninvolving it is. The previous film had a nice fish-out-of-water charm, but this one’s trying too hard to achieve an epic feel.

The best moments are the humorous bits, including Loki’s stinging putdowns, and stray clap-traps provided by the likes of Jane’s bumbling intern (Kat Dennings), her would-be-suitor (Chris O’Dowd), and her daft mentor (Stellan Skarsgard). Hemsworth himself gets a few light moments, including a scene in which Thor travels on the London tube with cape and all. These little treats are scattered sparingly during the film, which expectedly focuses on Thor’s mission to save the Nine Realms from imminent disaster.

Unfortunately that’s as formulaic and predictable as the recipe for an omelette, and there’s never any real sense of fear or dread when Thor faces off against the supposedly indestructible villains. As superhero movies go, this is underwhelming stuff.

I’m going with two out of five for Thor: The Dark World. Only enjoyable in spurts.

(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)

Ranveer Singh on Deepika Padukone: “She’s the yang to my yin”

Filed under: Video Vault — Rajeev @ 9:23 pm

In this interview with Rajeev Masand, Ram Leela stars Deepika Padukone and Ranveer Singh talk about their scorching chemistry and their contrasting personalities. The actors explain how they prepared for their roles and realized the vision of their director, Sanjay Leela Bhansali.

(This interview first aired on CNN-IBN)

November 1, 2013

Sunny Deol: “I haven’t adapted to the times”

Filed under: Video Vault — Rajeev @ 10:47 pm

In this interview with Rajeev Masand, Sunny Deol admits he hasn’t adapted to changing times, and reveals there are no lasting friendships in Bollywood. The actor also speaks of his plans to launch his son as an actor, and talks about the one Hindi film he wishes he’d have done.

(This interview first aired on CNN-IBN)

Zinda Bhaag: First Pakistani film in 50 yrs to go to Oscars

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

In this report filed from the Abu Dhabi Film Festival, Rajeev Masand looks at Zinda Bhaag, the first Pakistani film in 50 years that will represent the country at the Oscars. The film’s directors explain why they were keen to show a different reality of their country on screen.

(This story first aired on CNN-IBN)

Man in the mask

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

November 01, 2013

Cast: Hrithik Roshan, Priyanka Chopra, Vivek Oberoi, Kangana Ranaut

Director: Rakesh Roshan

From the moment we’re first re-introduced to our masked superhero in Krrish 3, saving a airplane from an imminent crash in a scene reminiscent of Bryan Singer’s Superman Returns, it becomes clear that filmmaker Rakesh Roshan is challenging us to a game of ‘Name The Original’. Indeed Krrish 3 is a potpourri of set-pieces and characters plucked out of every superhero film to come out of Hollywood in the last ten years or so.

Reunited at the end of 2006’s Krrish, father-and-son Rohit and Krishna Mehra (both played by Hrithik Roshan) are now happily saving lives in their own way: Rohit by developing cures to deadly global viruses, and Krishna by secretly taking on the identity of Krrish when robbers barge into a jewelry store, or when a kid is dangling off cables between the roofs of tall buildings. Their world is complete, and their secret safe with Krishna’s wife Priya (Priyanka Chopra), who whispers into his ear at a party that she’s expecting their child, just so they can make a big song and dance about it.

But (in a scene ripped straight out of last year’s The Amazing Spider-Man) when Krrish releases an antidote to a virus that poses danger to an entire city, he evokes the anger of Kaal (Vivek Oberoi). A cross between Magneto and Professor Xavier from the X-Men movies, Kaal is a paralyzed super-villain stuck in a wheelchair, who can move objects with his mind, and commands a troop of mutants. Amongst his most loyal ‘maanwars’ is the catsuit-clad Kaya (Kangana Ranaut), a shape-shifting temptress modeled after Mystique, who delivers clunky dialogues like: “Alag, anokhi, adbud hoon main, kyunki mera koi ateet nahin.” Before you can blink, Kaya has fallen in love with Krishna, while taking on the identity of Priya.

Unlike Hollywood superheroes, each of whom come with their own comic book mythology and back-stories, Krrish’s roots are planted firmly in Rakesh Roshan’s fertile imagination. Which means there’s plenty 80s melodrama about daddy issues and brotherly bonds, and a lot of hullaballoo over the safety of Krishna’s unborn child. Yet it’s the film’s action scenes that keep you engaged. The special effects are nicely done in a confrontation between Krrish and three of Kaal’s mutants that ends with our hero ripping out the protruding tongue of the frog-like creature. You can’t help but cheer when Krrish lifts an entire portion of a skyscraper with his bare hands. And to be fair, the climatic duel between Kaal and Krrish alone is bang for your buck. Inspired no doubt from every recent Hollywood blockbuster in which an entire city is reduced to rubble, this sequence is nevertheless thrillingly shot and edited.

What there’s no getting away from, unfortunately, is the un-slickness of the entire affair. From junior artistes staring directly into camera, and dialogues that take you back decades, Krrish 3 is an unlikely cocktail of cool, shiny technology and outdated treatment. As the pasty-faced Kaal, Oberoi gets the cheesiest lines. Pointing to his maanwars, he declares in one scene: “Fusion is the future”. On another occasion, referring to the virus he intends to unleash, he says: “Logon ko thoda marne do; aur zyaada darne do.” But the film’s biggest letdown is Rajesh Roshan’s uninspired score – a string of stale tracks that fail to strike the right note.

It’s Hrithik Roshan who compensates for many of the film’s hiccups with an earnest, committed performance. He brings consistency in his portrayal of the lovable man-child Rohit, a part he first slipped into ten years ago in the far superior Koi Mil Gaya. As Krishna/Krrish, he’s impossibly buff with gleaming chest and abs, but there’s a depth of emotion that’s unmistakable. Watch how he quivers with anger, his entire being visibly shaken, when Kaya reveals an important secret to him. Hrithik fills out the superhero suit convincingly, and makes you care for the character even when everything around him is laughable. The other impressive performance is from Kangana Ranaut, in the scene-stealing part of Kaya, who hits just the right balance between vulnerability and voluptuousness.

I’m going with two-and-a-half stars for the film, and an additional half star just for Hrithik Roshan, which makes it three out of five for Krrish 3. The film is ambitious but flawed. It is, however, consistently watchable for its terrific lead star who you can’t take your eyes off, even for a moment.

(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)

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