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

June 16, 2015

Melissa McCarthy on Spy: “I hung off a helicopter with Jason Statham for three-and-a-half days, and I loved it”

Filed under: Video Vault — Rajeev @ 9:48 am

In this interview with Rajeev Masand recorded in Los Angeles, SPY star Melissa McCarthy talks about the deep affection she has for the characters she plays, and particularly the kinship she felt towards Susan Cooper, the character she plays in Spy — an unassuming desk bound CIA agent who must go undercover to prevent a global disaster. McCarthy talks about working with action star Jason Statham who surprised her with his comedic skills.

(This interview first aired on CNN-IBN)

June 12, 2015

ABCD2 stars Varun, Shraddha & director Remo D’Souza play ‘Show Me Your Moves’

Filed under: Video Vault — Rajeev @ 8:50 pm

In this interview with Rajeev Masand, ABCD2 stars Varun Dhawan, Shraddha Kapoor and director Remo D’Souza revealed the challenges of making this movie. The trio also played a round of Show Me Your Moves.

(This interview first aired on CNN-IBN)

Rex appeal

Filed under: Their Films — Rajeev @ 8:35 pm

June 12, 2015

Cast: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Nick Robinson, Ty Simpkins, Vincent D’Onofrio, Irrfan Khan, Judy Greer, Omar Sy, Jake Johnson

Director: Colin Trevorrow

Early on in Jurassic World, while explaining the current challenges of the business to potential sponsors, Bryce Dallas Howard’s character, Claire, the uptight operations manager of the movie’s titular theme park says: “No one is impressed by a dinosaur anymore. Kids look at a brachiosaurus like it’s an elephant.” She may well be echoing the sentiments of the makers of this film, who likely found themselves similarly pressured to raise the stakes and up their game. It has after all been 22 years since Steven Spielberg made us gasp at the sight of ripples in those cups of water on a jeep’s dashboard, announcing the entry of cinema’s most famous reptile.

When the new film opens, some two decades after the events of Jurassic Park, we see that John Hammond’s dream of a fully functioning family-friendly dinosaur theme park has been realized. Thousands of tourists – among them two young brothers (Nick Robinson and Ty Simpkins) – mill about this potentially dangerous Disneyland, where humans and beasts appear to have arrived at a tentative arrangement. Former navy man Owen Grady (Chris Pratt), a member of the park’s on-site staff, is tasked with training the four velociraptors to respond to his call. Meanwhile Claire’s boss, park owner Simon Masrani (Irrfan Khan), has commissioned his scientists to create a genetically modified hybrid dinosaur to boost visitor attendance. But when this super-intelligent, raised-in-captivity killing-machine – the 50-foot Indominus Rex – escapes from its pen, all manner of havoc ensues.

Co-writer and director Colin Trevorrow, his ear placed firmly to the ground, seldom skimps on the kind of spectacle that fans have come to expect from a new Jurassic movie. CGI and VFX have come a long way since the last film in 2001, and Trevorrow makes it a point to reflect that, evoking awe and wonder particularly in the scenes with the terrifying raptors, and the Mosasaurus, a giant aquatic beast that we’re introduced to in a terrific Sea World-like sequence. There’s a steady buildup before the Indominus Rex is revealed in all its fearsome glory, resulting in a few moments of great tension. But unlike the previous films, the body count is high in this one – good luck trying to keep track of just how many people are killed. It’s evident that Treverrow wants to create a very real sense of danger and risk, which is highlighted in those scenes where hundreds of flying critters terrorize the visitors when they’re released into the park after their enclosure is destroyed.

While all along raising the same moral questions of the earlier films – about mankind’s tendency to play God, and the possibly horrible outcome of genetic engineering –Jurassic World also toys with some bold new ideas. One of these is the possibility of using the raptors to work alongside humans. The other is the poetic justice in the fact that the oldest living creatures on Earth should destroy this futuristic, state-of-the-art attraction created by man.

There’s the obligatory romantic track between Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard’s characters, which feels contrived and entirely unnecessary. Yet Pratt brings some refreshing moments of lightheartedness and humor as a breather between all the dino-mayhem.

Culminating in a bloated climax of mass destruction, not unlike the Transformers movies, Jurassic World frankly delivers enough bang for your buck. Sure, I’d have liked to see more ‘implied danger’. Remember that scene from Jurassic Park of a door handle being pushed down, suggesting that the raptors were smarter than we’d imagined? But hey, 1993 is a long time gone and perhaps there’s little room for subtlety today.

Nevertheless, I’m going with three-and-a-half out of five for Jurassic World. It’s bigger and louder, and delivers plenty thrills.

(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)

June 11, 2015

Chris Pratt on Jurassic World: “Spielberg and I spoke about how we can’t be objective about this film”

Filed under: Video Vault — Rajeev @ 9:54 pm

In this interview with Rajeev Masand, Jurassic World star Chris Pratt explains what a whole new generation of film-goers can expect from the new Jurassic movie. He also explains how similar (or not) he is to the character he plays in the film, and what Steven Spielberg and he discussed before making this movie.

(This interview first aired on CNN-IBN)

Bryce Dallas Howard on Jurassic World: “My daughter is petrified that a dinosaur is going to show up in the night”

Filed under: Video Vault — Rajeev @ 9:49 pm

In this interview with Rajeev Masand, Jurassic World star Bryce Dallas Howard recounts her memories watching the first Jurassic Park movie as a teenager, and how surreal it felt working with dinosaurs and making this sequel.

(This interview first aired on CNN-IBN)

Jurassic World director Colin Trevorrow on Irrfan Khan: “He has a royalty to him”

Filed under: Video Vault — Rajeev @ 9:44 pm

In this interview with Rajeev Masand, Jurassic World director Colin Trevorrow explains how he intends for his film to reach out to a new generation of viewers raised on sophisticated CGI, and how he hopes to evoke a sense of awe and wonder with his dinosaurs. The filmmaker also talks about casting Irrfan Khan in a key role in the film, and what the Indian actor brought to his role.

(This interview first aired on CNN-IBN)

June 5, 2015

Vidya Balan on surviving failure and never losing confidence in her talent

Filed under: Video Vault — Rajeev @ 8:55 pm

In this interview with Rajeev Masand, Vidya Balan talks about surviving three back-to-back box-office flops, and why it didn’t shake her confidence in her talent. The actress also explains why she doesn’t have a problem if people think her character in her new film Hamari Adhuri Kahani appears regressive.

(This interview first aired on CNN-IBN)

Tanu Weds Manu director Anand L Rai on the film that changed his life

Filed under: Video Vault — Rajeev @ 8:50 pm

In this interview with Rajeev Masand, Tanu Weds Manu Returns director Anand L Rai talks about the film that changed his life. Rai explains how that film, and the film’s director specifically, has influenced his own cinema.

(This interview first aired on CNN-IBN)

Hijinks on the high seas!

Filed under: Our FIlms — Rajeev @ 8:35 pm

June 05, 2015

Cast: Anil Kapoor, Shefali Shah, Ranveer Singh, Priyanka Chopra, Farhan Akhtar, Anushka Sharma, Rahul Bose, Vikrant Massey, Riddhima Sud, Zareena Wahab, Parmeet Sethi

Director: Zoya Akhtar

Where else, but in the movies, do you set out on a 10-day luxury cruise in the Mediterranean and find your problems magically dissolving along the way? Director Zoya Akhtar’s Dil Dhadakne Do coasts along on the premise of a dysfunctional wealthy family finding their lost mojo, as they finally accept and love each other for what they are. This is a rich chocolate truffle of a movie – extravagant with its emotions, and ending on a sweet note. It’s that term we bandy about so often – feel-good cinema.

And yet, there are choppy waters in this journey. As the film heads towards the three-hour mark, you feel yourself getting restless. Despite all the injured feelings flying about on this ship, these are the problems of rich people. Not to say that rich people don’t have real problems – just that in Dil Dhadakne Do, it all seems to revolve around marriage, bankruptcy, marriage, mismatched love, how society will view you and…did I mention marriage?

The film welcomes you to the world of the messed-up Mehras – patriarch Kamal (Anil Kapoor) and his wife Neelam (Shefali Shah), and their children Ayesha (Priyanka Chopra) and Kabir (Ranveer Singh). Each of them is unhappy, but have no clue how to go about fixing their lives. We’re introduced to these four and their problems by the perceptive Pluto, a bull-mastiff who considers himself the sanest member of the Mehra family. Voiced by Aamir Khan, his lines written by Javed Akhtar, the whole idea of the reflective dog feels like a gimmick, and one that loses its novelty quickly.

What keeps you invested in the film throughout are these high-strung, often hilarious characters and their idiosyncrasies. The script is loaded with humor, and the dialogues, written by Farhan Akhtar, are smart and consistently witty. Take Kamal Mehra, a “self-made” millionaire, who never hesitates to repeat his rags-to-riches story. Behind the scenes, he’s popping anxiety pills because his company is on the verge of bankruptcy, and his son Kabir clearly isn’t ready to take over. All Kabir longs for is his plane, soon to be sold off to reduce business debts.

Kamal’s wife Neelam is that perfectly-outfitted socialite you instantly recognize – she who turns a blind eye to her husband’s philandering, she who pastes a false smile, she who schemes with her husband to push their son to marry a rival businessman’s daughter in order to save the business. The one that’s left out is Ayesha – a pariah now that she’s married. All everyone expects of her is to produce a baby; never mind that she’s a successful career woman, who is miserable with her obnoxious mama’s boy husband (Rahul Bose) and his hypochondriac mother (Zarina Wahab, a complete hoot).

This motley crew boards the cruise to celebrate the Senior Mehras’ 30th wedding anniversary, with assorted relatives and close friends along for company. Complications abound – Ayesha wants a divorce, Kabir falls in love with a dancer on the cruise (Anushka Sharma), and Ayesha’s ex (Farhan) hops on aboard too. The parents watch their plans turn to dust as their children rebel against what’s expected of them.

With Dil Dhadakne Do, Zoya turns her gaze once again on the inner lives of the rich and the privileged. Where her 2011 hit Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara explored friendship and bromance over the course of a road-trip through Spain, this new film dissects the hypocrisies within an affluent Indian family as they (literally) float through Turkey and parts of Europe. She captures the carefully coiffed universe of high society astutely. It’s perfectly illustrated in a scene where the wives of two business rivals frostily nod at each other, only to realize that cardinal fashion sin – both of them are carrying the exact same handbag.

The film, in fact, is buoyed by these light moments and by the breezy performances of its ensemble cast, right down to the actors in the smallest roles. The heavy lifting naturally is left to the central players, and all four actors are arresting; they work off each other’s energies and feel like a real unit.

Priyanka Chopra’s Ayesha is a curious paradox; the kind of character I have trouble believing actually exists. She’s a successful entrepreneur, a woman of the world, but also strangely submissive when her husband or her father unfairly bears down on her. Priyanka nonetheless makes the character warm and likeable, the stray voice of reason in a cuckoo family.

Ranveer Singh is effortlessly charming as the rich slacker, always ready with a clever quip. There’s an innocent, boyish quality to his humor and even his dancing. He’s terrific in one of the film’s best scenes, throwing caution to the wind, exposing his parents’ double standards with fiery intensity.

Anil Kapoor and Shefali Shah are absolutely riveting as the Senior Mehras. Anil brings a natural pomposity to Kamal, and walks away with the film’s funniest moments. Watch how he reacts with utter surprise when a business rival gingerly makes a proposition that he’d all along orchestrated himself. Shefali, for her part, brings emotional heft. It’s hard not to connect with her character when, in a heartbreaking act of rebellion, she practically chokes herself on desserts. It’s a deeply affecting moment and one that you’ll wish the camera had stayed longer on, allowing us to take in the full extent of her misery.

Moments like these – of unmistakable and genuine feeling – are in short supply here. For the most part, Zoya uses humor to blunt the edges while making uncomfortable observations about the affluent set, whose ‘struggles’ she was accused of romanticizing in her previous film. It’s clear this is a world she knows and recognizes intimately, but she turns a critical eye, exposing their biases, their prejudices, their regressive attitude towards women, and their single-minded pursuit of profit. This approach yields several scenes of laugh-out-loud humor that keep you engaged in the film despite its 2 hours 42 minutes running time and frankly silly climax.

I’m going with three out of five for Dil Dhadakne Do. It’s easy and breezy, and packed with terrific actors who appear to be enjoying themselves.

(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)

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