A Long (Slightly Long Winded Too, But It Ain’t Exactly a Review) ‘Review’ of Tamil Movie Thillu Millu

Cast

Shiva as Pasupathi/Ganguly Kandhan
Prakash Raj as Sivagurunathan
Isha Talwar as Janani
Kovai Sarala as Senthamarai

A millionaire is about to commit suicide by plunging himself into the lake when a luckless tramp who’s passing by, rushes to rescue him. The millionaire is drunk like a fish and shall be food for the fishes if he isn’t saved, but our brave-heart risks his own life and brings this man out of the water alive. The rescue attempt lasts for about five minutes, as each time the millionaire is rescued, he falls back into the lake, hardly able to stand straight and balance himself in his intoxicated state. When he is finally rescued for good, the millionaire shows his gratitude by befriending the tramp and taking him to a swanky restaurant, where they have a gala time eating spaghetti and courting lovely ladies. When the millionaire comes to his senses the next morning, after a tipsy trip-sy night, he finds the tramp comfortably sitting in his car and, failing to recognise him, shooes him away. And thus begins their unique friendship where the tramp becomes the millionaire’s bestie whenever the latter is drunk and is completely a stranger of no worth or importance when he’s not under influence.

By now, most movie buffs would’ve recognised that is the plot of one of Charlie Chaplin’s finest movies ‘City Lights‘. As I waited for the bus that was to me to my aunt’s home, where I’m temporarily staying until my summer internship ends, my mind took me for a moment to this film, which I’d probably watched about a year back. Now, how did my little brain reach this film all of a sudden, especially when I’d been consciously thinking of how what I shall write in my blog for a Tamil film I’d just walked out of?

The film I’d just abandoned is called ‘Thillu Mullu‘ and I have no idea what the title means. All I know is the film is hopeless. So what did this film have to do with a wondrous classic like ‘City Lights’, beloved by almost everybody who’s seen it? I shall begin with what happened between the moment I exited the theatre hall in a hurry and the second I reached the bus stand, which was about seven minutes away from the theatre.

Initially, my mind could not come up with anything resourceful,good or bad, to write this film. So I began thinking what brought me to watch this particular movie. It was easy to find an answer to this question: I had managed to catch a couple of scenes from this film while I was conducting a survey at a Chennai multiplex a few days before, as a part of my college internship. My job was (and still is, till this weekend) to collect data from patrons regarding their level of satisfaction with the facilities provided at the multiplex. I chose to conduct this survey either when customers were entering the theatre hall or during the interval, when I’d enter the hall and ‘harass’ with a barrage of questions, the poor unfortunate customers who chose to remain seated inside. In between, I’d be waiting in the lobby restlessly, pacing up and down the hall, checking out my face now and then in the men’s room, and chatting with the security guards who’d smile every time they see me as if I’m a foreigner who has come as a guest to their theatre.

By afternoon, I would get very anxious, not being able to hear my inner voice that I usually can very well and that I consider my most special friend and guide. When I ‘m unable to stand the boredom, I would enter a screening and watch bits of movies that are running, but would never stay for beyond five minutes. One day, I entered the hall that was running ‘Thillu Mullu’, and stood like an usher, close to the entrance.

There were hardly any audience present and only the top few rows were taken up. I could hear a joint chorus of laughter from them when I entered and so I stood to take a look myself. The scene running had a boss who catches his employee, the hero of the film, skipping his job to catch a cricket game. The boss confronts him the next day at office, recording his rowdy behaviour at the stadium on his mobile phone as a proof. The hero, who’s been giving an holier-than-thou impression to his boss, saves his skin by telling that his boss hadn’t seen him that day but his twin brother, who is a cricket lover cum karate master. His ‘gullible-than-thou’ boss believes his farfetched excuse and apologises for suspecting his character; in the very next scene, the hero jokes with his friends that if the Guinness World Records had the title for ‘Most Foolish Person on the Planet’, his boss would come first and his boss’ assistant, who also believes the hero’s lie, second.

In a later scene, the boss decides to meet the hero’s mother; to watch the cricket match, the hero had originally made an excuse that his mother had injured herself on the staircase and he had to take her to hospital. In fact, the guy’s mother is already dead and so her has to find a fake mother in three hours. His sister and he beg their female bootlegger friend to act as the mother; they dress her up like a sadhvi (the hero’s boss is a bhakt of Shree Krishna) and also convince her to pierce her tongue with a little trishul (trident) shaped object so she can’t speak. A hilarious scene plays next, starting with the boss meeting the mother and falling at her feet; when he tells her that he shall be visiting her again after his trip to Delhi, she begs him not to otherwise she shall have to pierce her tongue for the act again, but he can’t understand what she’s gesticulating (but we do).

I laughed unabashedly even when I knew they were overacting all the time; I laughed even at the nonsensical sequence where the hero, acting as the fictional karate master/brother, bashes up the guy sent by his boss as a spy after the cricket match incident. I soon stepped out of the theatre, and reserved this film for a future watch. Now I’ve seen it and you’ve heard my verdict already – its hopeless. It isn’t a film but just a set of gag sequences clipped together, with gags being flung one after the other and most of them failing to hit the target audience (us, obviously). There’s barely any effort from the director or the writer or from the actors to plunge into the story or it’s characters, and the post synchronous dubbing is so poor you hear many of the character’s dialogs many seconds after they’ve been mouthed by the actors.

So what really made the few parts so special when I saw it the first time, when most of them seem atrocious now? The answer to this is that when I entered the theatre hall this time, after spending my day at the office chatting jovially with my seniors ( I didn’t conduct the survey today), my mind was in its usual state, and I could hear my inner voice thinking, judging and critiquing every moment clearly. While on that day, it wasn’t that I had kept my brains aside (it isn’t scientifically possible to keep the brains aside and still respond to anything) but that my mind was in a state where even the silliest joke could have me in a fit of laughter. And I think that is why most people in India prefer loud and cheap comedies and artificial performances, because their mind is just too tired to ‘think’ while watching a film; lousy long job hours without any exciting work to do, plus a long journey to home that’s impeded often by traffic jams, simply put the mind in a zone where even a tiny, insignificant stimuli will incite a big reaction.

Just imagine this: a guy who has been locked up for years inside his home finds a way out one day, and the first place he finds himself is a shitty motel; this guy doesn’t need any luxury at this moment, because he is at such a low point that even an ill-functioning motel will give him respite and some freedom. When I watched Thillu Mullu the first time, I was desperately in need of any form of entertainment, and so I laughed. Now that I’ve retained my senses and my ‘inner voice’, I get extremely critical about the same. In a way I’m like the millionaire in City Lights, finding a worth even in the littlest and commonest of things when my mind is in it’s lowest state, but rejecting the same when I come to my senses, know my worth and what’s worth my time.

Thillu Mullu is certainly not worth even a second of my time now that I’m ‘sober’. But it certainly gave me a couple of chuckles that day.

Review of Monsters University, a Pixar Animated Film Directed By Dan Scanlon; A Prequel to Monsters Inc

Grade: BBB / 70%

Summary: Until the interval, your eyes don’t open with the usual sense of wonderment while watching Pixar movies. Post intermission, they do, oh yes they do!

A timid clownfish who travels hundreds of miles in search of his son and an amnesiac regal blue tang who guides him along. A rat who can cook teams up with a prestigious chef’s illegitimate son who can’t. A trash compactor robot on Earth who falls in love with an advanced robot visiting from outer space to inspect for signs of life. A grumpy old retired widower who flies along with his entire house to Paradise Falls and a tubby little sprightly boy scout who is accidentally carried along. These are some of the unique pairings that have wonderfully driven Pixar Animated Studios to Oscar glory. Now consider this : a green little monster who knows each and every way to scare but can’t actually scare anybody, and his mighty college companion who can frighten one to death but is a one-trick pony. Does this Pixar pairing seem unique enough to hold up to its predecessors? Not really…

That’s problem number one Pixar’s latest venture Monsters University has to overcome. Problem number two: the movie is a prequel. Pixar is hardly known to make prequels or sequels; its only super successful franchise is the Toy Story Series, which began in 1995 and has continued with two hugely acclaimed sequels, the third part being nominated for the prestigious Best Picture at the Oscars. The other known franchise is Cars, whose sequel Cars 2 could barely score among critics (I adored both the films though).

This seems to be the decade of sequels of Pixar; on one hand, Monsters University comes ten years after the brilliant Monsters Inc, while on the other, Pixar classic Finding Nemo continues its legacy with Finding Dory, to be released in two years. Sequels or prequels is equal to familiarity, and we always expect Pixar to give us something new and original. Nobody bothers when rival studio Dreamworks clings to its green ogre Shrek to make money, but we have come to expect much greater things from Pixar, so the thought of watching its memorable characters do another act disconcerts us because we’ve seen the best already.

Problem number three: this movie is set in a college. You’d ask what’s wrong about that? American Pie was set in college and it worked. But keep in mind why American Pie worked: it was an R rated comedy about the three-letter-word with a lot of four-letter-words used in their three-letter-word context. Monsters University is G rated, and it’s comedy involves watching the lunch lady serve garbage to students while freshers are given a totally positive picture during an orientation of Monsters University conducted by a hyper-cheery girl. There are jock monsters, geek monsters, blonde monsters, prep monsters and other monsters of different shapes, sizes and colours in this university led by a staunch female dragon Dean. Oh so familiar you’d think if these were actors instead of monsters, this film would have been instantly forgotten.

Some of the names are cringe-worthy too – the movie’s protagonist Mike goes to ‘Frighton’ Elementary School as a child. Its a take on the word ‘fright’, get it?Uhm… not so bright. Also, you’d be surprised during this film to find sequences that remind you of other films. There’s an ‘initiation ceremony’ that’ll take you straight to the Ring of Fire sequence from Finding Nemo. The first part itself with the monster introductions feels similar to another animated film Hotel Transylvania, which albeit spent too much time showing one monster after the other. Five problems or rather challenges already, and does Pixar manage to overcome all of these? Yes, to a large extent it does.

I’d probably use the word ‘redeem’ than overcome here; Monsters University redeems itself by getting back its Pixar magic post interval. Until then, your eyes don’t open with the usual sense of wonderment while watching Pixar movies. You want to be googly eyed like the protagonist Mike when he steps into Monsters University for the first time, but you are unfortunately squinting instead. When you see his initial rivalry with Sullivan, you feel like you’ve seen all this before. Even when actress Helen Mirren unleashes her Miranda Priestley cum Sister Aloysius as Dean Hardscrabble, you still wait longing for signs of Pixar again, feeling as though you’re watching a Dreamworks film that’s been mistakenly marketed as Pixar’s.

By the interval, I’d coined the term ‘Pixar’s blot’ for this film, because I found nothing to positively surprise me in this work. This term would not be used for this film at all, however, as the second half surprised me – in a big way.

The film wakes up and becomes altogether special once Pixar’s magic slowly fills in like the scare-meter used by students of Monsters University to record scare-levels of children. Once Mike makes a wager with Dean Hardscrabble to retain him into the ‘Scare Program’ (he is suspended from the same for creating a chaos during their exam) if he stands the winner of a college event called ‘Scare Games’, he teams up with four other not-scary-in-the-slightest fraternity guys and his rival Sullivan, who’s also suspended and joins their team Oozma Kappa only to get back into the program; when the team begs to understand each other’s strengths and capabilities, you begin to see Pixar’s flashing light that you were waiting for so long. There’s an unexpected surprise I won’t disclose here, and eventually the film’s broader themes seem to have the depth of Pixar’s earlier efforts. The only problem in the end is the first half itself, which although seems necessary after watching the whole film, has no moment of Pixar spark. That jumpy little lamp you see every time he logo appears (he’s Luxor Jr., from an earlier short film) was probably on low voltage until the interval. Thank goodness everything turned out right afterwards and it burned bright. But I constantly was worrying the little bulb would blow out, and I don’t want to get that that feeling again, not from Pixar.

Review of 2013 Pixar Short The Blue Umbrella, Directed By Saschka Unseld, Screened Before Monsters University

Grade: BB / 60%

My screening for Monsters University began with Pixar short called ‘The Blue Umbrella‘. Not surprising as Pixar is known for screening a short film before its main features, but Indian theatres never played one perhaps, until today.

A typically touching Pixar short on a blue coloured umbrella (with little eyes) enamoured with a red coloured umbrella-ina (also with little eyes) one rainy night, The Blue Umbrella is a familiar tale yet Pixar livens up this film with its little magical moments. Its not just about to umbrellas here, but about two people – the owners of these umbrellas – who meet for the first time, after the blue umbrella chases after it’s or rather his lady love, using the wind to move.

And the entire street -the drain pipes, the traffic signal, the street lights, the building windows –  witnesses this incident with their little eyes. When a car threatens to mangle the blue umbrella that’s helplessly lying in the middle of the road, the drain it’s lying on blows out steam so it can avert the accident.

It’s not Pixar at its best; for that you’ll need to catch ‘Geri’s Game‘, ‘Knicks Knack‘, ‘Lifted’, ‘For The Birds‘ and ”Presto‘. But you’d surely shed a tear or two at the very end because you’d find ‘The Blue Umbrella’ simple yet very heartfelt.

Review of Raanjhanaa, a 2013 Bollywood film Directed by Aanand Rai and Starring Dhanush, Sonam’s Kapoor, Abhay Deol

GRADE: JUST SAD / 10%Raanjhanaafilmposter.jpg

Summary: Raanjhanaa is a ki

nd of film that makes you want to thump your forehead with a sledgehammer. It’s less painful to gouge out your eyes than to watch Dhanush and Sonam attempting to romance in this movie.

Cast

Dhanush –Kundan
Sonam Kapoor – Zoya
Abhor Deol -Akram

Sonam Kapoor is box-office poison, and it’s entirely her own bloody fault for poisoning her films with her forgettable performances. In Raanjhanaa, she plays Zoya, a rebellious Muslim girl who participates in anti-government rallies, dharnas and satyagrahas along with her boyfriend Akram, a student leader. Both study at Jawaharlal Nehru University, a prestigious college in Delhi which may get a bad name now because the film suggests that all the agitations and fierce political and philosophical debates held by it’s students fall useless to a common man’s smooth-talk and makhan-maroing (buttering).

I digress here but I cannot help it; my mind is boiling with such an intense agitation, I can’t stop complaining (read: spewing venom) about each and every frame of this ‘ch*du’ film. Raanjhanaa has little to do with politics, and its basically about a loafer named Kundan being besotted by Zoya since childhood but losing her after her parents find out she’s in love with a Hindu. The political angle is basically to add some complexity to their love story, and Sonam’s part involves falling in love with Kundan, losing him, falling for the JNU guy and later losing him forever after his death, and then the gradual reconciliation with Kundan  but with a twist.

Sonam seems like an actress who must’ve slept through all her acting classes and needn’t have to sleep with anyone to enter the industry, being the daughter of actor Anil Kapoor. She does not know how to pause, how to intonate and how to feel her lines; she has a few stock expressions (adding a few with each film. In a previous debacle called ‘I Hate Luv Stories’, I remember she just had two) to fall back upon and enough of glycerine to help her cry. But she has next to nil screen talent.

Complementing her in ineptitude is Dhanush, a National Award winning Tamil superstar who may have some screen talent (didn’t see much here through) but has zero screen presence as lovestruck Kundan. Even an apparition would’ve had more screen presence than what Dhanush had in this film.

Let me prove this. He has a stick figure for a body but so does Nawazzudin Siddique, so this point isn’t valid. He moves as though there are strings attached to his hands and feet, especially when he dances. When he acts it seems as though he’s thinking how he shall speak the next sentence in Hindi convincingly. It end up looking like he is practicing how to act on screen than actually acting.

His diction is poor, and his narration is very flat because he is afraid he might screw up if he takes any intonations. Bollywood actress Sridevi, a South Indian herself, fumbled at times while playing the Marathi housewife who’s takes up English classes while on a trip to America, but had remarkable screen presence and great confidence at showing lack of the same (as her character is supposed to lack confidence). Dhanush has zero charisma and little confidence here; it’s better he literally glue himself to the South and never ever look North towards Bollywood – the pole star doesn’t shine on him.

His character Kundan has a dreadfully ill-defined characterisation; he spends the first forty (agonizing) minutes of Raanjhanaa hitting on Sonam’s Kappor’ character Zoya, first as a teenager, then an as adult. He saves her from getting married to a suitor chosen by her parents, and later convinces her father to allow her to marry the man she loves, all while loving her unconditionally himself.

After her boyfriend is discovered to be a Hindu and is beaten up by the Muslim community (throw in caste issue just to make the film more controversial), Kundan accompanies Zoya to her boyfriend, who has been shifted to Delhi.

On reaching his home, Kundan releases that he is dead; the man is so shattered he runs out crying and vomits (buttermilk most probably, judging from the colour) in the garden as though HE was the guy’s lover. Later he becomes a chai-walla at JNU and joins Zoya and her fellow student protestors in rallies.

It doesn’t take much time before he replaces Sonam as the leader in their youth party, and then Raanjhanaa’s director Aanand Rai decides a further twist of betrayal is required, along with an obligatory ‘American Beauty’-like monologue at the end, where Kundan narrates the fate of each of the film’s major characters. Of course, as nothing in the film can be taken seriously, the monologue sounds just as cheap as everything else.

‘Chutiya’ (stupid) is used a couple of times in the film and some people in the audience sniggered like ten-year olds only because Dhanush was mouthing them. They really should’ve sat next to me because the words that flowed from my mouth while watching Raanjhanaa were way worse than chutiya.

This is a movie that seriously lacks in all aspects of good film-making; along with weak and inept performances, it has horrid writing, weak cinematography and wasted music. The movie doesn’t give the feeling of Benaras, where much of the film is set and many of the scenes have an artificial look look like they were shot on readymade sets. The writing keeps adding new elements recklessly, like it mixes politics into the film in the second half just to tick the f*ck out us. Nobody in the cast or crew knows how to ‘capture a moment’ and that is what good film-making is about. And its funny how composer AR Rehman’s name roars out firsts in the closing credits, because the music is forgettable and functions only to fill the runtime, which should’ve been filled with good writing instead.

Raanjhanaa is a kind of film that makes you want to thump your forehead… with a sledgehammer. It’s less painful to gouge out your eyes than to watch Dhanush and Sonam attempting to romance in this movie. It’s Benaras is ‘bina ras’ (without essence), there’s only ‘vish’ (poison) here. But it was kind of expected when the film’s lead is the one and only Ms. Box office poison herself.

Review of Man Of Steel, a 2013 Zack Snyder film starring Henry Cavill, Amy Adams

Grade: BB / 60%

Summary: Superman is a welcome addition to the list of recently rebooted superheroes. While the second half of Zack Snyder‘s ‘Man of Steel‘ can be described as ‘Noise! Blasts! Destruction! Noise! Noise!!’, the first half soars largely because of Henry Cavill‘s performance. It’s worth catching this flight once.

Superman is a welcome addition to the list of recently rebooted superheroes that includes Spiderman (where Andrew Garfield replaced Tobey Maguire to don the new Spidey suit in The Amazing Spiderman). Henry Cavill is the young man in blue suit and red cape (without the red trunks, thankfully) who’s our Superman/Clark Kent/Kal-El this time, and the actor has everything that makes him the perfect choice for Superman –  a square-jaw, an extremely ripped body  and a dashing appearance.

The character he plays is the strongest of all superheroes, but he is a superhero with a big heart  and Henry Cavill has the face of a charming guy, a loving son, a doting lover and a responsible citizen, everything which makes us instantly empathise with him.

It takes Zack Snyder an entire film to establish Cavill as the harmless, bespectacled office employee Clark Kent, yet we already get to see our Superman saving the whole world from total destruction in Snyder’s Man of Steel. My concern here is that when Snyder keeps the stakes so high in the first film itself, how will this franchise (everybody knows there are two more films to come in the near future, and then a similar reboot) move to a whole new level in the sequels?

That is what troubles when I see the recent ‘saving the whole wide world’ trend in superhero movies. There was a time when common people ( i.e. Everyone excluding the Superhero and his nemesis) had some powers of their own but now it seems everyone has little job except to be attacked until their Superhero finally rescues them. Man of Steel had me wondering that when human beings on earth could use their technology and knowledge to create televisions, skyscrapers etc, why do they fall completely helpless a race from Krypton, whose world looks quite barren compared to Earth, invades them?

Apart from this, I’ve observed that CGI has upscaled the level of calamity to a 11 out of 10 and nobody really bothers about property destruction worth billions of dollars in Superhero movies; in Man of Steel, it seems as though the CGI team invaded the sets of the film as the second half was being shot, drove out Snyder from his chair and took over until the very end. Half the city is blown to pieces with skyscrapers tumbling like a house of cards, and still everything turns fine just like before the moment good wins over evil. Wouldn’t it take months or maybe years for redevelopment of a city, but no one pays attention to that!

In spite of these grumblings, I found myself liking Man of Steel more than the other Superhero blockbusters released this year like The Ironman 3. While director Snyder falters during the action sequences (he similarly botched up the nearly unbearable Sucker Punch), he is able to film the flashback sequences well, which form the core emotional content in the film.

His first shot is a close up of a mother’s wailing face as she’s giving birth to a child. Seconds later we realise the mother and child belong to a different world, and we cheer because Russell Crowe’s the father.

The Oscar winning actor plays Jor-El, Superman/ Kal-El’s father who belongs to the Kryptonite race; Jor-El and his wife celebrate this event as it’s the first natural birth in centuries on their warring planet. They want their son to ‘be free to forge his own destiny’ and so decide to send him away to Earth, where he shall be the first Kryptonite to adapt to human condition.

Before he can convince the leaders of Krypton (a bunch of conservative oldies) to move to another planet before death consumes them all, rebel General Zod and his supporters, who will go to any lengths to save Krypton, attack the leaders and try to convince Jor-El to support Zod in reviving the planet. Jor-El, however, has certain principles and he wouldn’t think of attacking his own people only to save the planet; when he refuses to support Zod, he is taken as a prisoner. Jor-El puts up a fight and escapes to his wife, and they successfully send their son to earth on a spaceship before Zod can stop them.

Zod kills Jor-El and then surrenders eventually; along with his supporters he is sentenced to three hundred cycles of ‘somatic reconditioning’ (whatever that means). They are in fact lucky to get this sentence as the planet is soon consumed in flames and they’re the only ones to survive. For the next thirty three years, they try to locate Kal-El and find him on planet earth on last. I must say poor earth is the most resilient planet of all, withstanding zombie attacks, alien invasions, bird terror, dragon rampage, Voldemort etc… the list can go on forever.

Jonathan and Martha Kent, a couple living on a farm in Kansas, find an infant Kal-El inside the spaceship and name him Clark. They raise him as their own son, and try to dissuade him from revealing his supernatural abilities to others for his own good. In one instance, when he saves all his class-mates when his school-bus crashes into the river, Clark is reprimanded for using his ‘god-like’ powers. When he asks his father whether he should’ve let the kids drown, he reluctantly replies “Maybe” only because he doesn’t want the world to see his son like a freak of nature.

Through various flashbacks, we are shown how Clark is pushed around, insulted and bullied by his school-mates and he bears the abuse silently. Words like ‘Dumb-a**’ and ‘ass-w*pe’ are used to taunt him only because he reads Plato in school (he’s have been my friend!). Clark keeps switching jobs when he grows up and remains a mystery man for almost everybody who knows him.

Tales of his abilities become a part of urban legend, until Daily Mail reporter Lois Lane (played by lovely Amy Adams) begins investigating about him. Now how does she know about him? The two cross paths when Clark’s a part of the crew that investigates a mysterious ship found in the Arctic, later revealed to be the Kryptonian spaceship; both Clark and fearless Lois try to find out what’s inside the spaceship before others can. When the ship’s automated defenses attack Lois, Clark rescues her and cures her using his abilities, telling her “I can do things other people can’t” (he means powers, supernatural powers).

Lois publishes an article about him anonymously after her boss refuses to publish it in his newspaper. She finds Kent after a series of investigations, and learns about his wish to keep his powers a secret. Before she can drop the article, a new storm brews up – a UFO is sighted close to earth, and it’s learnt that General Zod and his team are its inhabitants. A message is sent across to the whole world about the presence of a Kryptonian on earth, and a warning is given that if Kal-El doesn’t surrender in 24 hours, earth shall see its doom.

There is a humorous scene where Kent visits a church and confesses to a stunned priest that he’s the man Zod is looking for. He decides to surrender, and is handed over by the US army to Zod; however, Zod also demands that Lois be sent along with Kent. When Kent learns about Zod’s mission to wipe off human existence and establish their kingdom on earth, he fights back. Lois meanwhile learns how she can stop Zod from the ghost of Jor-El.

While the first half of Man of Steel is entirely taken up in building the plot, going back and forth in time to give much insight on Clark’s childhood and boyhood, the second half is taken over by a non-stop chain of action sequences. Something’s going on everywhere and you feel quite disoriented because the first half did a commendable job of holding you in.

There is little to write about the second half except ‘Noise! Blasts! Destruction! Noise! Noise!!’ and the sequences are not as smart as those in Tobey Maguire’s Spiderman;  Spiderman could use his web to ingeniously trap his enemies, while all Superman can do is ‘Pow! Pow! X-Ray Vision!’. And while I do commend Lois’ tenacity, I thought her character seemed a little too over-zealous; take the scene where Zod asks the army to hand over Lois and she says ‘I’ll go’ like she’s going shopping. I would’ve wet my pants had I been in such a position.

Still, still, still I do believe this movie works. It’s sequels should scale down the scope and scale action and restrict to the destruction of New York or whichever place they’re shooting in, instead of ‘World destruction’. Maybe Superman should think twice before destroying property, and the sequels could have more sequences that show him saving a specific group of people (like Spiderman saving passengers on a runaway train in the brilliant Spiderman 2). This film has its moments, like the part where Superman finds out his true identity and soars across land and seas in his newly obtained suit. The first half soars in the same way; the second half spirals unsteadily but lands safely in the end. It’s worth catching this flight once.

Review of ‘Fukrey’ a 2013 Bollywood Film By Mrigdeep Singh Lamba Starring Pulkit Sharma, Richa Chadda, Manjot Singh, Ali Fazal, Varuna Sharma

GRADE: CC / 40%

Summary: Fukrey is an overwrought, overindulgent effort that’s got little of the subtlety it requires. Characters are quirky for the sake of being quirky, and every scene is laboured down by excess of dialogues, mostly corny and pakau. This Fukrey is ‘phuski’ for me.

When characters in a movie are quirky just for the sake of being quirky, we begin wondering why they are acting weirdly. Fukrey has a minor character who steals cylinders and petrol tank of vehicles, maybe because he is addicted to the smell of petrol or he is an arsonist; we’ll never know the reason why he does so, nor shall we ever know why he’s dressed like a beggar when he reveals to everybody’s surprise that he is very rich and owns a couple of rental establishments.

His oddity has no justification, and that annoys us; the problem here is that Fukrey is set in a ‘real’ world inside the film and that’s different from say Quentin Tarantino‘s movies, which feel as though they’re set in another world, Tarantino’s world. That stamp is missing in Fukrey, and if this is a true representation of Delhi, then I’d seriously think twice before booking a ticket because Fukrey is ‘pakau’.

It is pakau to an extent that I found myself wondering “Where the heck are these guys going?” about three or four times during the film. I sighed loudly a couple of times. I threw my hands in the air out of despair once. In the second half, when one character was rambling endlessly, my mind screamed “Stop!” in exasperation. 

The problem with Fukrey is that dialogue writer (and director) Mrigdeep Singh Lamba makes it very obvious that it’s his debut effort; the film is overindulgent, and it does not have a clue when it should stop and that’s why all the subtlety is lost.

It seems as though Lamba was thinking this while shooting the film: ‘Just look at all these Bollywood directors, making films that barely have stuff. I’ll make a film that has lots of stuff: a crackling narrative with loads of dialogues, totally eccentric characters and the daring-and-dhamaal Delhi attitude. Those choo-chi-yaas ki maa ki chooch!’. And so his film includes characters with nicknames like ‘Choocha’ (and its variations used as euphemisms for Hindi gaalis/swearwords) and ‘Bholi Punjaban’, and attitude-wale dialogues like ‘Agar paise nahin mile to tere pichwade  ko khol ke nikaaloongi (If I don’t get my money back, I’ll rip your a** apart to get it!).

Everyone tries so hard to entertain us, to be different  that the final product ends up feeling stodgy and overcooked; the film’s pace derails so often I felt like the movie was an hour too long. The word ‘derail’ reminds me of the couple of shots of a passing train I saw during the film; I kept thinking that the train would be used for a scene at some point because its seen quite often, but it never is. Fukrey takes up too many things, and hardly does justice to an of them.

I come to the plot first. Four guys – Lali, a Sardar ka puttar working at his daddy’s dhaba, Dilip aka Hunny and Vikas aka Choocha, two slackers who want to enter college only cos the chicks are hot, and Zafar, a guitarist who dreams of recording an album but falters every time opportunity knocks his door – agree to do a ‘jugaad’ (gamble) by striking a deal with a local female don Bholi Punjaban (she has ‘Sin-drella’ tattooed on her back. ‘She’s the baddest b*tch!’… At least the film wants us to think so). 

The deal involves something to do with lottery that I don’t remember clearly because of so many ridiculous dialogues hammered at me, but I remember it having to do with Choocha’s symbolic dreams which Hunny believes can help predict the winning lottery number. When the four fukreys (the word used by Bholi for addressing the four) fail to pay back her money, she makes their lives difficult. She asks them to sell drugs at a rave party, then informs maliciously the police to raid the party and frame the four. She threatens to seize Lali’s father’s dhaba with the property papers pawned by Lali. She has tough African henchmen waiting to break their bones in case they falter. 

The movie also has to do with Choocha and Hunny leaking exam papers but I don’t know what ultimately happened to that. Many other insignificant things take place during the film but I don’t recall them. At points, Fukrey seems like a couple of sketches featuring recurring characters glues together to give a feel of continuity. You often forget where the film was heading in the previous scenes, and you also fail to understand the characters’ intentions at times. 

Fukrey is unnecessarily dense, and should be condensed quite a bit to make sense as a film. I see effort, but little wit. This film would work better when it follows ‘Less is more’. Fukrey is a bit ‘phuski’ for me.

Review of Hangover III, a 2013 Film Directed By Todd Phillips Starring Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifiniakis, Ken Jeong, Justin Bartha

GRADE : CC / 40%File:The Hangover Part 3.JPG

Summary: Hangover III is a kinda pointless film with an astoundingly shallow plot, whose sole purpose is to be as nasty and crass as possible in an attempt to humour us. The result – we rarely rejoice this Hangover.

Cast

Bradley Cooper –        Phil
Ed Helms                –        Stu
Zach Galifianakis –        Alan
Justin Bartha.         – Doug
Ken Jeong        – Mr. Chow
John Goodman –       Marshall

Hangover III is a kinda pointless film with an astoundingly shallow plot, whose sole purpose is to be as nasty and crass as possible in an attempt to humour us. The result – we rarely rejoice this Hangover.

Unlike everybody else present in the theatre hall, I haven’t seen the previous instalments in the Hangover series. And yet I felt throughout as though I was watching not a film but a season of Hangover; littlest thought has been given to the plot, and the characters have simply been thrown into a couple of pretty straightforward situations and given some silly sketches to perform. And it doesn’t help that our three leads sleepwalk their parts, totally unenthused by the material. Even as a non-fan, I can clearly sense that Hangover has jumped the shark.

What writers Todd Phillips and Craig Mazin do here is expand a few loose threads from the previous films or rather ‘episodes’. It begins with our jailed Korean lunatic Leslie Chow escaping Klong Klem prison after creating a prison riot to distract authorities. On the other side, rich bum Alan seems to live his life leisurely, buying a giraffe and accidentally killing it and indulging in similar misdemeanours. That’s when Alan’s family and his buddies, including fellow ‘Wolfpack’ members Phil, Stu and Doug, decide that he needs an intervention.

And so our four heroes embark on another journey, expecting nothing to bother them this time. But soon their journey turns to another wild ride when a couple of guys in pig-faced masks ram their vehicle and kidnap them in broad daylight. They are taken to an isolated spot, where we learn that their kidnappers are Marshall’s men, which includes Doug; Doug had a minor role in the first film and Marshall’s name was only mentioned by him once in that film.

Marshall informs Phil, Stu and Doug that their friend Alan has been in constant touch with Leslie Chow via the internet; the two crazy net-pals loved sharing the inane and insane misdemeanours they committed, it seems. Marshall wants to hunt Chow down and get the gold-bricks (worth millions) that Chow stole from Marshall’s men (they in turn had stolen it from the bank) years ago. Now that he has found the only link to Chow, he gives Phil, Stu and Alan the task of finding the madman and bringing him to Marshall. If they fail, Doug, who shall remain with Marshall’s men, will be killed.

It doesn’t take much time to find Chow as the guy tells Alan via internet to meet him in Mexico. Chow is really a disgusting piece of sh*t who shall, for Christians at least, die a horrible death in hell! The insane guy who speaks very much like Hannibal Lecter, brags how he spends his time in Mexico (you know the way most people do) cockfighting, giving men blowj*bs etc (certainly going to hell!… According to Orthodox Christians, at least). The four make a plan to retrieve the stolen gold from ‘Chow’s mansion’ in Mexico, and they succeed, except that it’s not Chow’s mansion but Marshall’s and the ‘stolen’ gold was Marshall’s half that wasn’t stolen by Chow before (but it is now, obviously).

Now it would hardly make sense for Marshall to rely on Phil, Alan and Stu but the makers of Hangover need an excuse to harass our trio further. So Marshall orders them to find Chow, get gold or Doug’s dead. The makers also need to come up with an ‘intervention’ for rich bum Alan, so there’s a ‘what-can-at-least-in-this-case-be-deemed-as-touching’ moment between him and Jade’s son Tyler (Jade is recurrent character from Hangover 1) plus his romantic connection with Cassie, a pawnbroker who rejoices in treating her mom like sh*t. All roads finally leads the three to Vegas, where it all ends indeed.

There are a lot many times you’d hear the f-word in Hangover III, usually in flat and unimaginative dialogues like ‘F*ck!’ ‘What the f*ck’s going on?’ ‘Motherf*cker’. We chuckle a couple of times, then start wondering whether it’s really funny. Do the filmmakers want us to guffaw like an idiotic teenager whenever the ‘f-word’ is spoken? Is being nasty all the time real comedy?

Even the situations in which the characters are thrown are given very less thought. Consider the scene where Chow and Stu enter the mansion to disable security cameras and buzzers before the rest can proceed. Except for Chow acting like a mad dog (literally), crawling on his fours, sniffing Stu’s butt and later saying he’s color-blind while instructing Stu which color wire to disable, nothing else is done to make the situation more interesting. Hangover III has one-dimensional situations, and that’s just sad.

The trio of Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms and Zach Galifianakis are barely risible and act like they’ve been given a chore. On one hand, a cardboard would’ve looked more excited than the disinterested Bradley Cooper and on the other hand, Ed Helms does bad comedy. With more focus given to Zach’s character Alan this time, he fares better yet totally fails on occasions. Like the part where Alan complements Phil’s body in a Diesel t-shirt (never include product placement in a joke): a total FAIL. It’s only fresher (to the series) Melissa McCarthy as pawnbroker Cassie who injects some freshness to this feeble film.

The movie says ‘It all ends here’ but Tyler’s and McCarthy’s introduction plus the post-credits scene hint there’s more Hangover in store. Wish these guys would hang up their boots and retire and say “Nevermore!”.

Review of Bend It Like Beckham, a 2002 Gurinder Chaddha Film Starring Parminder Nagra, Keira Knightley, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Anupam Kher

Grade: BBB / 70%  

Bend It Like Beckham

Bend It Like Beckham (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Summary: ‘Bend it Like Beckham’ is all about hopes and dreams dribbling their way past disasters. And director Gurinder Chaddha balances the film very well – there’s comedy, drama, romance, football and yeah, Beckham!

Cast

Parminder Nagra as Jesminder Kaur “Jess” Bhamra
Keira Knightley as Juliette “Jules” Paxton
Archie Panjabi as “Pinky” Bhamra
Jonathan Rhys Meyers as Joe
Anupam Kher as Mohaan Singh Bhamra
Shaheen Khan as Mrs. Bhamra
Juliet Stevenson as Paula Paxton
Kulvinder Ghir as Teetu

Indian ‘Kudi’ Jasminder dreams of playing alongside David Beckham one day (he doesn’t need an introduction, I guess). She constantly talks to his poster, stuck behind her bed on the wall, like he’s her best buddy. She maybe the only straight girl who doesn’t dream of getting into his pants… rather shorts, unlike those bimbos her sister Pinki hangs around with.

She’s pukka to her Indian roots in all ways, except her love for ‘football-shootball’; that makes her mother Mrs. Bhamra go ‘Hai Rabba!’ (she turns like a typical Indian lady to the poster of Guru Nanak, the religious guru of Punjabi Sikhs, every time she hears ‘Football’). Mrs. Bhamra wants Jasminder to get a husband… and learn some cooking – who else shall cook roti-shoti for him but she, right? She has high hopes her younger daughter would marry Teetu, Jess’s (Jasminder’s nickname) friend since childhood. Of course, Teetu will never marry her – he’s gay, still closeted.

Teetu and Jess play football with a bunch of their Hispanic, Indian and Afro-American soccer buddies at a local park. Juliette or “Jules”, an English girl is impressed with Jess’ moves; Jules plays for Hounslow Harriers, a local football team coached by Joe, who’s also her crush. Jules brings Jess to Joe and soon Jess joins Joe’s team (hey, this could be a decent tongue-twister!) without informing her parents. It’s totally a success tale for Joe and his girls on field, but it’s the off-field drama that brings ‘Bad News’ every time.

Everyone’s got problems of their own, so Bend it Like Beckham never ‘All About Jess’, though Jess’ definitely in s##t the most (in her own words). She’s got the stuffiest family you can imagine (they seem stuffy to whites at least. To Indians like me, it’s like watching home!) – a dad who can’t forget his disaster past with goras (whites) and cares for Jess too much to see her facing a similar treatment, a mom whom we know of already but wait… my notes also say ‘she’ll drop dead if Jess is found with a white man’; Jess’ sister Pinki is better that the parents at least but she’s the girl Jess would hate to become – the looks-obsessed bad girl who has no problems having sex in a car (Jess’ shy to expose her bra even in a girl’s locker room, but that also could be because her seamstress comments on one occasion that Jess’ breasts look like mosquito bites!). Family’s no-no to football – check. Then comes Pinki’s marriage, and Jess can’t keep her secret from the family forever; she doesn’t actually, as she’s caught often, but Joe somehow convinces her to play on.

Jess does play on, mainly because football’s her passion but also because she likes the lean and handsome Joe (cue thunder effect for Mrs. Bhamra – ‘bababadalgharaghtakamminarronnkonnbronntonnerronntuonnthunntrovarrhounawnskawntoohoohoordenenthurnuk’*it’s a James Joyce thing). That sours up her friendship with Jules, who sees them almost kiss outside a club.

Chadha/Berges

Gurinder Chadha  (left) (Photo credit: Mai Le)

Poor Jules risks losing Joe to Jess and her mother Paula Paxton doesn’t make it any easier for her – she wrongly thinks Jules and Jess are in love! Paula does clarify that ‘she has absolutely no problems with lesbians. She was cheering for Martina Navratilova herself’, but that doesn’t stop her from getting snooping around whenever Jess and Jules are together – the perfect prototype of a hypocrite. Plus she’s Mrs. Bhamra’s English counterpart when it comes to discouraging her daughter from football.

‘Bend it Like Beckham’ is all about hopes and dreams dribbling their way past disasters. What’s best about this film is that it doesn’t favor only one culture and acts bigoted against others. This makes the movie not just for ‘Indians only’, but just about everybody.

It’s a very balanced film – there’s comedy in it, drama, romance, football and yeah, Beckham! The Indian humor has been tastefully sprinkled in to spice up taste-buds, the drama is appropriately light and breezy and the romance is sweet like juicy mangoes. Gurinder Chaddha, the film’s director, scores a winning goal, and we’re all here to cheer.

 

Review of Hugo, an Oscar Winning 2011 Film By Martin Scorsese, Starring Asa Butterfield, Chloe Grace Moretz, Ben Kingsley, Sacha Baron Cohen

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Hugo (wikipedia)

GRADE: AA / 90%

 Summary: Martin Scorsese is a magician who loves making movies, and each and every minute of Hugo is a testament to this; with his arms outstretched, he invites us to be hypnotized by his timeless creation, a cinematic ode to films

Cast:

Asa Butterfield as Hugo Cabret
Chloë Grace Moretz as Isabelle
Ben Kingsley as Georges Méliès / Papa Georges
Sacha Baron Cohen as Inspector Gustave
Helen McCrory as Jeanne d’Alcy / Mama Jeanne
Michael Stuhlbarg as René Tabard
Jude Law as Hugo’s father
Ray Winstone as Claude Cabret
Christopher Lee as Monsieur Labisse
Emily Mortimer as Lisette
Frances de la Tour as Madame Emile
Richard Griffiths as Monsieur Frick

Martin Scorsese is a magician who loves making movies, and each and every minute of Hugo is a testament to this; with his arms outstretched, he invites us to be hypnotized by his timeless creation, a cinematic ode to films – a medium that shall carry on so long as we dream, so long as our spirit for adventure doesn’t die and our purpose of life remains strong.

Broken is the life of Georges Méliès, a man, a magician celebrated once for his innovative contributions to film, and only can Hugo Cabret being back happiness to his defeated existence; it is Scorsese who colors their lives with wit, with charm, with humor, with a tinge of sadness but most importantly, with hope.

Hugo is a visually brilliant film, a Scorsese’s vision of Paris, and you soon fall in love with its characters, their lives, their desires, their dreams. It is an ode to cinema, and yet it remains entirely Scorsese’s and that is what makes it new and fresh.

‘Time is everything’ chimes Hugo’s uncle Claude, a drunken lout, as he brings Hugo to train station Gare Montparnasse’s clock-tower where he mends clocks; Hugo’s father has just died in a fire accident, and his son, now orphaned, is taught by Uncle Claude how to mend clocks. We see of Uncle Claude no more, its only Hugo and his little, secret life inside the enormous castle of a clock-tower. Scorsese opens the film with turning clock wheels dissolving into Parisian streets, then gives us a scintillating glimpse of Paris like we’ve never seen before, before taking us down to Gare Montparnasse station, moving along the station life and rising to the clock face but closing in near number five, where we see finally see Hugo’s eyes.

Hugo controls time, the station time to be exact, and so long as the clock functions fine, he remains safe. His only hurdle outside is the station inspector, a hard-hearted monomaniac whose sole purpose is to catch hold of orphaned children loitering in the station and send them off to orphanage. Through the dial, he watches the movement outside – the amusing courtship between café owner Madame Emile and newsstand owner Monsieur Frick, flower lady Lisette’s morning greetings to passersby, the station-master’s watchful eye and toymaker Georges’ tiny shop. He’s particularly keen about Georges’ shop because he steals toy parts whenever Georges dozes off to sleep; he needs these parts to fix ‘Automaton’, a mechanical man Hugo’s father left behind unrepaired. Automaton, when fixed, will write down something and Hugo believes it would be a message from his late father.

Martin Scorsese at the 2007 Tribeca Film Festi...

Martin Scorsese – the man, the magician (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But while attempting to steal some parts one day, he’s caught by Georges. The toymaker threatens to alert the station-inspector unless Hugo reveals to him why he is stealing toy parts. When Hugo remains defiantly silent, Georges peruses the diary he’s holding and mysteriously utters ‘Ghosts!’ before taking away the diary from him and declaring to burn it. Before Hugo can persuade him to return the diary, the station-inspector Gustave and his Doberman Pinscher give him a chase. Hugo escapes, but now has to find a way to get the diary back; he follows Georges to his home one day and beckons his goddaughter Isabelle to meet him.

The two little explorers embark on an adventure to get the book back and find the key that would make Automaton work. In doing so, they discover something they’d never even dreamed of – toymaker and Isabelle’s godparent Georges is the man behind pioneering movies like ‘A Trip to the Moon’; yes, he is indeed THE Georges Méliès, but he’s defeated and lost all his former glory. And he’s dead, according to Rene Tabard’s book on film history, but that’s until Rene meets Hugo and Isabelle in the public library, and things soon begin to change, for everyone.

Along the way, we learn how cinema began and just how important it was for the makers. Even today, you have filmmakers complaining that the glory days of film are over. Even Scorsese’s film, as good as a film can get, still could hardly match up to collections of the Transformers movie released in the same year. The truth is, so long as you have love what you’re doing and haven’t lost the burning desire to do it, you’ll live a happy life and be proud of what you’ve accomplished. And Scorsese should take a bow for creating Hugo.

Wouldn’t have been such a delight without its wonderful cast – Asa Butterfield and Chloe Grace Moretz, who are expressive and believable, especially Moretz. The wrong casting would’ve made Hugo and Isabelle snotty and annoyingly precocious children, but Asa and Chloe play it right. Sacha Baron Cohen is a comic delight as Gustave while Ben Kingsley is convincing as the crabby Georges and touching in his later scenes. The DVD comes with a special feature that includes the making of Hugo, and you get a good insight on what these actors felt working with a man, a magician like Scorsese who loves making movies.

Review of Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani, a 2013 Bollywood Film By Ayan Mukherjee Starring Ranbir Kapoor, Deepika Padukone, Kalki Koechlin, Aditya Roy Kapur

Yeh jawani hai deewani.jpg

Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani (wikipedia)

Grade: D / 20% 

Summary: Ayan Mukherjee’s Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani isn’t an effort but an attempt at direction, a miserably lazy one that too. His story is trite, his dialogues are stale, his characters are hackneyed, their situations clichéd and their resolutions tiresome. Yeh Jawaani Hai Puraani, Bahut Puraani.

Cast

Ranbir Kapoor as Bunny (Kabir Thapar)
Deepika Padukone as Naina Talwar
Kalki Koechlin as Aditi
Aditya Roy Kapur as Avi (Avinash)
Kunaal Roy Kapur as Taran
Evelyn Sharma as Lara
Farooq Sheikh as Bunny’s Father
Tanvi Azmi as Bunny’s Step-mother
Dolly Ahluwalia as Naina’s Mother

‘Yeh Jawaani Hai Ghissi Pitti’ ‘Yeh Jawaani Hai Puraani’ ‘Yeh Jawaani Nahi, Bachpanaa Hai’ ‘Wake Up Sid (Hangover Version)’ could easily become alternate titles for ‘Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani’… no, let me change that a bit – more suitable titles for Ayan Mukherjee’s sophomore effort… no, not really an effort, more an attempt at direction.

 

Cover of "Wake Up Sid (Dvd) (Bollywood Mo...

Ayan Mukerjee’s first film Wake up Sid (Cover via Amazon)

He serves you cold soup this time and that isn’t the worst part – he also serves you the same soup. With a heavy handed treatment; it feels like your college canteen’s old lunch lady’s made the soup. That’s how lazy Ayan Mukherjee is this time – his story is trite, his dialogues are stale, his characters are hackneyed, their situations clichéd and their resolutions tiresome. This guy seriously needs to grow out of this ‘follow your dreams’ ‘accept change’ ‘settle down’ phase; yes, he got his chance in ‘Wake Up Sid’ and he fared well, but this is plain directorial lethargy.

 
Deconstructing Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani’s plot shall begin with a cliché – it’s about four young friends. Oh, a respite – two are boys and two are girls so it’s not the ‘all-guy film’ or the ‘all-girl film’. This film starts with one of the girls reminiscing her past, as the other is to get married. The girl who’s narrating is Naina Talwar (Deepika Padukone), and she takes us eight years back into the past, when she was studious, plain-Jane, good-girl Naina. And as all studious good-girls need to be spectacled, she dons one. Still looks hot in it, but since it’s Bollywood and spectacles is equal to ‘behenji or nerd’, our Naina’s totally ignored by guys.

 
She’s in the supermarket with her snobbish mother, shopping in her little skirt/shorts (anyway, she’s showing legs, but nobody notices because she’s got ‘spectacles’ on). She hears someone yell near the exit counter; it’s Aditi, her former schoolmate. Aditi is mad at a young stout kid who was checking out her legs (according to her). He tells her she’s not that hot – she gets madder. Naina approaches her, they greet, Naina’s mother talks about her daughter, Aditi praises Naina for being the ‘padhaku’ type and then tells about her trip to Manali. The scene ends with Naina being secretly invited by her to the trip.

 
Next scene at dining table. Naina’s mom’s insulting Aditi for being the ‘bad girl’. Naina throws a tantrum with ‘I want a holiday’ and then leaves the table. Next we see her checking out Make My Trip Site, probably co-sponsors for this film because they’re everywhere! Our brave girl Naina slips out the next day and joins Aditi for the trip but Aditi isn’t alone – she’s with Bunny and Avi.

 
We’re already introduced to these two chaps – Bunny is the photographer who dreams of travelling around the world (for some reason, Ayan can’t think outside the box; Ranbir Kapoor in Wake Up Sid = photographer, Ranbir Kapoor in Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani = photographer) while Avi is an alcoholic who loses lots on gambling (no idea how he gets the money). We first find Bunny in a brothel filming with a foreign crew about prostitutes; so there’s the usual ‘spicy talk’ with the prostitute, then a totally purposeless dance number featuring Madhuri Dixit. But we know why it’s been added – it’s a Karan Johar production, he was a judge with Dixit on a dancing reality show, he must’ve thought it appropriate to randomly place her in a dance number that’s got NOTHING to do with anything. She looks lovely though, and her dancing is sensuous and expressive but why on earth (or why in a brothel of all places) is it there?

 
So Bunny’s the photographer who calls his step-mom ‘step-mom’ (ridiculous and childish – why not the first name?), Avi is the faltu (useless) alcoholic, Avi is the cool girl and Naina the ‘scholar’. All board the train to Manali, their trip being sponsored by MAKE MY TRIP (they could’ve just had the four break the fourth wall and shout ‘I love Make My Trip!). They meet hot chicks, and Bunny has a crush on one of them called Lara, a hot but dumb chick like you see in every other college movie; the girl actually has a background music’ played whenever she’s on screen and it’s so kiddish, your brain feels embarrassed that it has gifted you the power of hearing for these sounds. Okay, so on trip our Naina loosens up (she wears lenses and voila turns into a hot crazy babe in a day), begins enjoying life (she gets drunk. Don’t tell her fussy mom though) and falls in love with Bunny, who’s commitment-phobic. There’s a scene where both Naina and Bunny scream from the edge of a hilltop and you really wish they’d slip and fall to their deaths so the film could surprise us.

 
The film never does surprise us. Our hero Bunny leaves for US after the trip, Naina becomes Aditi’s best friend, Aditi decides to marry a podgy guy named Taran after Avi doesn’t reciprocate the feelings she has for him, while Avi remains a drunkard and is in huge debt. The second half’s more embarrassing and most of its set around Aditi’s marriage. Random characters come and go and we are meant to chuckle (we don’t, not once). There are the ‘buddy movie serious scenes’ we don’t give a rat’s a— about; they’re a chockfull of banal moments stuffed with platitudes you’d find on Facebook, written by IQ 100 boys and girls who only think their crappy thoughts are profound.

 
One think I observed in Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani which I pretty much took notice of in other commercial Bollywood movies but didn’t bother to report is the absence of spontaneity among actors. Take the scene where Deepika and Ranbir are alone at camp-site and she can’t resist him; she holds his hands even after their conversation is done.

 
To show this, Ranbir has a dialogue ‘Then why are you still holding my hand’ which then reveals her hand holding his. Wouldn’t it have been better to frame the two characters from a distance and show her spontaneously holding his hands and not leaving them? It was such a delight to watch Meryl Streep and Eastwood fall in love in Bridges of Madison County because both were responding slowly without the need for any mechanical gesture or motion. Bollywood however thrives on mechanical motions that just feel inauthentic.

 

Deepika is more than tolerable as the nerdy woman but her character’s so easily transformed into a beauty queen only based on the hideous notion that wearing spectacles makes you nerdy. Ranbir is a method actor and I really wonder what he thought about the randomly inserted dance numbers – did he never question Ayan why his character could dance and sing like a professional? Or probably his bank account was so overstuffed with Johar’s money that he overlooked everything else. Kalki and Aditya Roy Kapur are passable in their poorly written roles.

 

English: Indian actor Ranbir Kapoor

Ranbeer Kapoor – Talented Guy. But Has to Work on Better Projects.(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This kind of film minting hundred crores at the box office is sheer criminality. Don’t encourage Ayan Mukherjee to make more like these! Stop Johar from making money like this!
And do reconsider your Make My Trip subscription if you have one – they’ll take you to Kashmir, calling it Manali! (in case you are wondering, the filmmakers have been accused by Omar Abdullah of shooting in Kashmir and then deeming it Manali in the film)