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The first look of Rajneeti, a film by Prakash Jha, is out :
It has a dream star-cast and Katrina Kaif. And from the look of it, this might complete Ranbir Kapoor’s hat-trick of performances after Wake Up Sid and Rocket Singh. I have a tough time convincing people that Ranbir Kapoor is one of the best mainstream actors we have right now : his acting is invisible while audiences can only see loud acting. I’ll go ahead and say he is the best thing to have happened to Hindi cinema in recent times.
I feel guilty for not posting this earlier given how badly the film needed publicity, good at that. But as Meera would say, “Batter letter than nah were”. I saw Rocket Singh a fortnight ago, and most of this review is from what I can recollect.
The absolute first point : much much thanks to Shimit Amin for bringing back D. Santosh from oblivion. D. Santosh, the actor who played Rajguru in the marvelous The Legend of Bhagat Singh, was the thing for me in this movie. When I saw him in TLOBS, I thought he was Marathi in real-life. I saw this movie, and I can swear he is a South Indian. The guy is bloody brilliant, especially in comic roles. Forget the cliched comic timings and delivery, the guy can elicit laughs with just facial expressions. More power to him.
Now the movie.
Bollywood and restrain have never gone together, so movies like Rocket Singh are noteworthy, coming from the Yashraj camp. From the writing stage to the execution, restrain is maintained. Two scenes are representative of this maturity : first, when Harpreet Bedi (Ranbir Kapoor) checks his results and reacts to it — it is not frustration, he doesn’t seek pity, no strong background music; it is just matter-of-factly done. The second, in the climax scene where he is working in a retail outlet and has the final confrontation with his ex-boss. He wins back pretty much everything, but at the end of the scene, there is no celebration. He continues with his work and the scene ends with a slow fade out. This isn’t out-of-the-world writing; this is just one of the basics of writing — consistency of character. But I can see so many writers who would mess such simple things so easily in the flow.
And that is Rocket Singh’s strength. The simplicity of the lead character drives the entire movie, the dialogues and execution — all the while keeping things consistent.
Well, almost. The climax is a debatable topic. I thought about the climax and couldn’t think of a better way to end the story, that would also provide closure to the audience. I was even tempted to think the climax was alright, because the rest of the movie was well made. But if I’m honest to myself, I should say the climax is a let down.
That doesn’t affect the quality of Rocket Singh as a whole. It is a delightful watch, and Yashraj must be commended for backing the story. Shimit Amin and Jaideep Sahni are proven talents, and with every passing movie, Shimit Amin continues to hold his script in the highest esteem : a great sign for mainstream cinema.
The acting : I covered D. Santosh, it is always nice to see good actors getting appropriate roles. Gauhar Khan, Prem Chopra, Naveen Kaushik and Manish Chaudhari are all apt, something we can expect of Shimit Amin’s casting. Shazahn Padamsee does pretty well in her role for her first movie.
Then — of course — there is Ranbir Kapoor. The guy evidently can do no wrong. Give him any role, and he’ll dish out a wonderful performance. Here the role was superb, and he takes it that much higher. I get a feeling that I’ve said the same things about Ranbir in past reviews, but I can’t help it. He just doesn’t give any reason to complain !
I have high hopes from Ranbir — a mainstream actor with good brains can do so much more for Hindi cinema than independent filmmakers with their niche audience. The other hopefuls are the Akhtar siblings — Zoya and Farhan — but they are just different in the same format. In a way, Ranbir Kapoor is the counterpart to Abhay Deol — on the mainstream side.
If you haven’t seen Rocket Singh yet, please do.
I wasn’t keen on writing this review, but this was the quickest way of ending my hibernation.
There are 2 things I inferred from this movie :
1. This is from the writer/director of Andaz Apna Apna.
2. Even he can’t re-create Andaz Apna Apna.
The movie has around 15 mins of wonderful comedy — sadly all those scenes are scattered and in the second half. But if you have to watch this one, walk straight into the second half. I was disappointed that Smita Jaykar and Darshan Jariwala (as Prem’s parents) weren’t used earlier in the movie. Once these (and other) side-characters get screen-time and the story veers away from his romance and friends in the second-half, the movie is almost on a stimulant. But just in spurts, not enough to save the movie.
The script is so bad that even someone as earnest as Ranbir couldn’t pull off some of the scenes (like the one in the balcony after intermission). Katrina Kaif is strictly okay but improving — her Hindi accent now sounds only 70% English. The revelation in acting is surprisingly, Upen Patel. The way he satirically imbibes the acting skills of those non-actor model-types who can’t act to save their life, was one of the high points of the movie.
Overall, I was especially disappointed with Ajab Prem .. as this could’ve so easily been a superb comedy, if only the script was worked on. It ends up being the story of another director stuck in a time-warp, struggling to reinvent himself. Sad.
Word has it that Rajkumar Santoshi is planning a movie on the lines of Andaz Apna Apna. It won’t have Salman, but more importantly, even Aamir won’t be in it.
Gee .. I wonder who’ll play a college student then.
I finally caught Wake Up Sid and here’s what I thought of it.
The theme is coming of age, and while it seems cliched, I cannot think of many Hindi movies with a similar theme, save Lakshya. Just a heads up, Lakshya is still the best film carrying this theme.
The plot has Sid, an affable rich kid – the reason I don’t call him a spoilt brat is because he isn’t called Monty, Vicky or Rocky. He is a nice guy, who by no fault of his, is rich and is as mature as someone like him should be.
Then there’s Aisha, who is very reminiscent of a similar character again played by Konkana Sen Sharma in Luck By Chance. She is an antipode to Sid, and never really gets past seeing him as a kid until the end, where she realizes she is the heroine, needs to get together with Sid and has just 15 mins. (of movie time) to do that.
Before I give any other ideas (I suspect the review might get harsh further down), let me summarize that Wake Up Sid is a nice one-time watch, and you shouldn’t miss it just for Ranbir Kapoor. Don’t expect a Luck By Chance or Lakshya or Ranbir doing a full monty, and you’ll have a good time.
Back to the movie, the plot is quite linear without deploying any twists and is as simple as the lead character Sid. But there were a few things I couldn’t digest.
Ranbir Kapoor is outstanding; he gets under the skin of the character perfectly and exudes the right amount of innocence. He keeps the performance so understated and real that I almost felt like yelling, “Dude, ham it up !! You’re in a freakin’ Bollywood movie !”.
But the performance, ironically, works against the story, because Sid seems so genuinely nice that his side of the romance never really blooms. When he runs down to meet Aisha in last scene near those wave-breakers in Bombay and says, “I love you”, I swear I was expecting a “Didi” after that. Technically, it is a shortcoming in the script.
Iktara, the superb little gem from Amit Trivedi, is used very effectively, and I am glad it wasn’t wasted. But I couldn’t control my laughter when the slow male version in Punjabi begins. A KJ movie without a single utterance of Soniye, Aavanga, Javanga, Mainu and Tenu is a rarity, and I’m guessing they took their chances with this song as the lead character’s last name is Mehra (Punjabi). But someone please explain why a song in Punjabi !
Here’s the thing – when a background singer sings some lyrics, the characters should atleast understand what the poor guy is singing.
In the acting department, Konkana Sen Sharma is okay, Anupam Kher is thankfully restrained, Supriya Pathak contributes to some sweet moments and Namit Das, of The President is Coming, gets a good shot which I hope translates to more roles in the future.
Lastly, the music doesn’t come across as noteworthy (sparing the obvious Iktara). As mentioned in the music review, I hope SEL reinvent themselves and move out of their comfort zone.
Overall, I like the way Ranbir Kapoor is progressing as an actor. I always thought he was good with that rare quality of screen presence. He was very fine in Saawariya (that reminds me, I liked the movie), never bothered to complete Bachna Ae Haseeno and the promos of Ajab Prem Ki Gajab Kahani seem very interesting.
Please share your thoughts (and defend yourself) if you are among the ones who thought Wake Up Sid was a great movie.
Not that I get everything related to Bollywood, but I still wouldn’t have expected the following few to show up as Bollywood’s Milestones in 2008 :
Amitabh Bachchan starts blogging.
Katrina Kaif’s birthday party.
Ramgopal Varma at the Taj. (This I could maybe live with. As long as he isn’t making self-indulgent movies, I’ll give him anything)
For me, the biggest milestone for Bollywood is the emergence of good quality entertaining independent cinema. With most of these being directed by debutantes, we can sure anticipate some good cinema.
Akshay “Singh is King” Kumar has said enough today to finally grab some space here. To answer the question why he was endorsing Levis jeans, he has this to say :
I think we can all agree that the fate of Saawariya has proven some things beyond doubt. Hope Levis has better reasons to sell their product.
And when asked what was the first time he ‘unbuttoned’ :
Anyone who knows Akshay and Tamil would say : poratiyaar ke vaadyaar.