Monday, June 25, 2007

Cheeni Kum: A nice sweet movie

Cheeni Kum had been released more than 2 weeks back ago, but it was fairly busy on the weekends, and I was somewhat busy on the weekends, unable to go see the movie. Well, I finally found time last weekend, and I did not regret it one bit. The hall was Housefull, although there were only 2 shows during the day.
It is also a different kind of movie, given that I have never seen a successful movie in India giving a romance between 2 people with an age difference of 30 years, Amitabh Bachchan being shown in the movie as a 64 year old man, and Tabu as a 34 year old man. In a normal movie, you might have expected to see a romance develop, but then shear off since the age difference is too vast. Not so. This movie is sure to give a filip to our older citizens, telling them that life is not done beyond the 60's.
Budhadev Ghosh (Amitabh Bachchan) is the perfectionist chef of Spice6, an Indian restaurant in London. He is unmarried, lives with his mother (Zohra Sehgal) who looks old, but not in spirit. She is forever after her son to join a gym, so as to make his condition better. He in turn keeps on poking fun at her cooking. He also has a very sweet relationship with his 6 year neighbor, Sexy (Swini Khara), who suffers from cancer, and realizes that she does not have a full life.
His life is normal, where he is a terror in his restaurant's kitchen, unsparing of any mistakes. Then one day a mistake happens. Neena (Tabu), coming from India in a low fare flight, comes into the restaurant with her cousin and orders Hyderabadi Zafrani Pulao (narrated by the waiter in a different accent that Amitabh keeps on trying to correct). Amitabh is astounded when the dish is returned to the kitchen as being sweet, and goes out and tells her off about not realizing quality when she sees it.
The next day, he realizes with a bit of investigative work that the mistake was caused due to the sugar and salt containers being right next to each other. This intrigues him. He has to apologize, but is not sure as to how to do it. His staff in the meantime is having (the discussions in the kitchen lend a nice bit of comedy to the film). It's raining, and he offers Tabu an umbrella outside the restaurant. He is somewhat intrigued by her, and looks forward to her coming again.
On a regular basis, she uses the excuse of his umbrella to come again and again to the restaurant, and he looks forward to those trips. He even starts going to the gym, to the surprise of his mother and neighbor. Once when she is eating with her cousin's boyfriend, Amitabh becomes quite incredibly jealous.
Anyhow, the romance develops, and eventually they decide to marry. It is decided that he will go to India to ask her father for her hand. And then tragedy strikes. Sexy becomes ill, and is in hospital. At the same time, Tabu's father is unwell. There is a bit of tension at this point, but he eventually comes to India. And then the next part of the movie starts. Tabu's father is Paresh Rawal, a 58 year old (younger than Amitabh), and when Amitabh is introduced to him, Paresh talks to him like a normal retired person; with phrases such as grand-children, retirement, body being wracked by ageing issues, and so on. Amitabh is not able to get the time to push the question.
Eventually, he does so in the men's room of a hotel, shocking Paresh beyond reason. Paresh is shocked, after all Amitabh is 30 years older. But when Tabu also supports the proposal, Paresh is shocked and goes on a fast to break this relationship. The movies drags at this point, but eventually Paresh gives in and agrees. Just when he has agreed, Sexy dies, so that moment is a bitter-sweet moment for Amitabh.
Overall, this is a nice movie, not having any great twist, but still holding attention through a mixture of comedy and romance. The title song Cheeni Kum is great, and plays throughout the movie.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Baaton Baaton Mein: A great movie to watch again

Baaton Baaton Mein is a light-hearted movie that you can really sit down and enjoy. It has some great music, with some very hummable songs (music by Rajesh Roshan) such as the title song - Baaton Baaton Mein (YouTube), Na Bole Tum, Uthe Sabke Kadam, Kahan Tak Yeh Man Ko ( It is a small-budget movie, but very delightful. The movie was made in 1979 by Basu Chaterjee, and starred Amol Palekar, Tina Munim, Asrani, David, Pearl Padamsee, Tun Tun and Mazhar Khan.
The story of a young Christian Boy and a young Christian girl in Bombay, it gets the boy, Tony Braganza (Amol Palekar) to see the girl, Nancy (Tina Munim looking really beautiful) in a Bombay local, and take a fancy to her. Her uncle Tom plays the introducer, and soon they are roaming around a bit, like good friends with a budding romance. He visits her house and meets with her family as well.
However, both of them are somewhat relationship phobic, in the sense that marriage is not talked about. She is getting over a past relationship, and soon she is ready for a relationship with Tony. Tony, however, does not seem ready. He does not talk about marriage (and her family is mystified at this - after all, if a couple is roaming around so much, they by now should be talking of marriage and getting the families together). His mother also thinks that he is too young, and overall, he is not seemingly ready for commitment.
However, like any good romantic story, there is a person who brings them together, in this case, in the shape of Henry (Mazhar Khan) who pines for Nancy and is ready to pop the question. At the last minute, Tony comes to his senses and is now ready for all commitments.
The movie does not have much of a masala, but there are many positive and endearing aspects to the movie. It is a simple straight movie, with a strong sense of romance, and coming of age. The music gives it a tremendous feeling, and the setting in a Christian milieu somehow seems very appropriate.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Aparachit: A different anti-corruption movie

There are movies over the ages that deal with corruption, and society's wish for a hero who will make people follow rules and punish the evil. So, for example, the angry cop as exemplified by Amitabh was portrayed in a number of movies. And then you had ultra angry movies such as Ardh Satya. And part comic ones such as Shahenshah.
The last few years portray such kind of evil punishers from people outside the police stream, such as Nayak, Hindustani, etc. In such movies, it is typically the hero who will take on the role of prosecutor, judge and executioner; something that is fairly dangerous for society. When we start idealizing such roles, the role in Nayak is somewhat of a positive role, while the other movies have roles who are pre-decided executioners, not somebody who constructs something positive. Sort of like the contrast between the preserver, Vishnu, and the destroyer, Shiva.
So here I was watching Hum Tum on TV, a normal non-serious movie (although the director of the movie might differ), when another channel started showing this dubbed Tamil movie called Aparachit - The Stranger. This movie is directed by Shankar, who has got fame by making other movies in the same mould, such as Gentleman, Hindustani and Nayak. It stars Vikram in the lead role, and gives him tremendous scope to showcase his talent.
The movie, in totality, is at a minimum, fairly unrealistic. But I found the movie gripping, and the end, a sudden twist, tremendous. It is basically about the character of a lawyer, Ramanuj, also known as, Ambi (Vikram). He is extremely idealistic, believes in playing by the book, obeying laws, not avoiding tax, etc. And of course, he is criticized and booed for this habit of his. He also loves a childhood friend, Nandhini (Sada) who is studying in medical college.
Ambi's love is rejected. His attempts to commit suicide does not work as he realizes that it is a crime. He has a website called, which aims to punish anyone who does a wrong. The punishments are as laid down in scripture (Garuda puranam) , which lay down a variety of punishments for offences, such punishments being boiled in oil, gored by a herd of buffaloes, eaten away by worms, etc. And the police start finding people who have dies under such punishment.
What has happened ? Ambi actually suffers from multiple personality disorder, and while his main one is the normal law-abiding one, another one is a flashing one (Remo), the third one is the most deadly one, Aparichit. Aparichit, with hair falling on the front of his face, appears from nowhere, gives people the punishment as per scriptures, and then converts back to Ambi. While he is Aparachit, he has super-human like powers (this getting more powers was difficult to understand), and he punishes offenders.
There is a horrifying scene (quite long one) where after Nandhini gets the help of Ambi to conclude a deal, and he realizes that she was cheating the government of tax, he gets angry and tries to prevent her. And then later he converts to Aparichit, and wants to kill her for her crime (his own love). This is an extended sequence, and shows some flash of brilliance when the challenge of trying to kill his own sweetheart causes abrupt changes between his different characters.
He is examined by doctors, and it is determined that he is suffering because of the death of his sister when he was young, due to negligence, and this has caused a tremendous change in him. Doctors see the change, and then counsel Nandhini to love him for what he is.
In the meantime, there is a policeman who is trying to catch the murderer (his own friend was murdered), and finally catches Ambi and takes him for interrogation. This is brutal, and then suddenly the changes happen and the policeman is taken by surprise. The sudden changes are pretty interesting.
In his trial, he is sentenced to treatment, and after 2 years, when doctors are convinced, they release him and he marries Nandhini. He is cured, and when they are going on the train to their honeymoon, they come across a man who is essentially a waste to society. Nadhini is worried that Ambi will revert, and sees him standing next to the train door. He smiles, everything is fine, and with the back of his hand, Ambi drops the wastrel into a ravine from the train. This is the end, Ambi no longer has to convert to Aparachit to punish people.
It was a very interesting movie, but I can't say that I would want such a thing to happen. Capital punishment is reserved for the extreme crimes, is permissible only by the states, and vigilantism can turn very destructive. Having said that, the movie is watchable.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Shakalaka Boom Boom: Potential, but ..

I finally got around to watching Shakalaka Boom Boom, and while I really can't say that it set my heart on fire, I did not exactly find it a dud either. As always, for a lot of movies like these, I actually admire the intent, and give my points for what I feel is the intention and effort, and if the end result is not all the great, well not every movie is great. It was still a change to see a music movie where not everything is hunky-dory, where people are beset by aggression and rivalry. Also where neither of the lead characters is a sweet person.
To set a correct perspective, this is a movie made by Suneel Darshan, whose previous movies include Raja Hindustani, that I detested for its sexist portrayals, and Dhadkan, which I found somewhat better, but mostly because I liked some of its songs, and I like Akshay Kumar :-).
And to make things even more realistic, this is not an original movie, but an adaption of Amadeus, a Hollywood movie.
The story of 2 extremely hot headed and arrogant stars, their clash with each other, and how both suffer is the stuff around which an extremely great movie can be made. So maybe Bobby Deol and Upen Patel are not exactly the best people to portray such roles, even if they have the physique to look like international stars. Maybe more seasoned actors would have been able to portray the angst and emotions in way that the audience could identify with the ego, and made this into a different movie. One could easily think of this being a metro hit, and winning some awards. Well, no point cribbing about what could have been ..
So what the story like ? AJ (Bobby Deol) is a very successful singer, who by dint of hard work has got 5 hits, and is on a roll. He is impressed by Kangana Ranaut, who is an upcoming singer. Upen Patel is Reggie, an upcoming singer with a chip on his shoulder, very arrogant. Dalip Tahil is the owner of the music company, who launches all the albums that have made AJ a hit. Reggie romances Celina Jaitley, who is Tahil's PR person, and she gets him introduced to Tahil. Reggie puts a good impression on Tahil, while at the same time ruthlessly putting down AJ.
This rankles AJ no end, who fears for his success since Reggies seems to be better than him. This feeling gets increased when Kangana falls for Reggie, and AJ is left high and dry. AJ is determined to wreck Reggie's career, and he does this in a very ruthless manner. He pretends to help Reggie, while making his a drunkard and sending his career downhill. He takes the help of Celina, who has been ditched by Reggie.
Somehow, for a film based on music, you expect far more than what you see or hear. In addition, if this is a movie about the egos of two people, one of whom is being ruthless, you should feel the hate seeping through. Bobby Deol does try, but you cannot feel the hate burning through. Upen Patel does portray arrogance, but for a large portion of the movie, he is supposed to be the one who is being victimized, and somehow that feeling does not come through. Kangana is the faithful, and Celina is the ditched one, but don't expect too much. Bet you didn't know that Anupam Kher was also there, he is truly wasted unless he is making a guest appearance. I liked the title song for the beat, but did not concentrate on the lyrics.