Ratings: - * * *
I am firmly of the view that a remake should not be compared with the original film. It’s my belief that a remake is a way of looking at a particular story in a different way and during a different time-span. It’s more like an experiment as well as a tribute. Having said that, I am forced to say that the original 1974 flick The Taking Of Pelham 123 should be better than this remake by Tony Scott, only because of a particular scene which I found illogical.
After grabbing the ransom money, why on earth will a terrorist walk on the streets of a city without a care in the world so that the cops can catch or shoot him? Even someone like me, who has no criminal record, would know that the first thing in this situation to do is to flee from the city or country as soon as possible. However, in spite of this, this remake is worth watching mostly because of the technical aspects, the sleek look and the performances.
It’s a typical hostage drama where Ryder (John Travolta) and his group hijack the New York City’s subway train The Pelham 123 and demand a huge ransom in return within 60 minutes. Ryder vows to gun down one person every minute after the deadline. Walter Garber (Denzel Washington), an MTA official, is forced to become the negotiator due to the recent circumstances in his life.
Thanks to a gripping screenplay and some stylish effects, the interest is generated throughout the 121 minutes. Plus, some innovative camerawork add to the plus points. The bird view shots are terrific. The above mention points help a great deal when the goings goes off-track slightly in between. The stunts and the action too deserve special mention. However, the couple of accidents included looked like a forced attempt to create thrill.
Travolta and Washington’s performance and the witty interaction between them act as the main pillar. Here, the dialogue writer deserves applause for creating a bond between the characters. Because of these plusses, The Taking Of Pelham 123 can be quite satisfying, especially for thriller lovers.
Gone are the days when box-office hits were movies that easily lasted at least 10-15 weeks and most of them completing silver jubilee. In today’s times, it’s impossible to see such a thing happening.
We are living in a see-and-forget-world. The world has become so fast that the first weekend collections itself determine whether a film is a hit or flop! And most of the times, a person who hasn’t seen a particular movie labels it as good or poor by just looking its business over the first three days.
Let’s take two examples –Singh Is King and Kambakkht Ishq. Singh Is King was considered as the most successful Bollywood film when it released in 2008. The stamp of a blockbuster was granted to it just because its producers and distributors booked almost all theatres in the country with around 10 shows per day.
As expected, people stormed into the theatres in the first weekend as it was a hugely awaited movie. Therefore, it gets the status of one of the biggest hits ever in Bollywood. However, you will hardly hear any praises from those who have seen this. Singh Is King’s audience rating in Imdb.com is just about 5 out of 10. Any regular reader at Imdb will know that to have a rating of 5 over there isn't good by any means.
Kambakkht Ishq is even a bigger example. Some critics are of the view that it’s a super hit judging by its business on the first three days. But do we have any appreciators for this so called super hit? On Imdb, the audience’s response is merely 3.6 out of 10 for this flick.
This proves that in today’s times, it’s not difficult to 'cook' a box-office hit. All you need is a top actor, an exciting promo and a good marketing strategy. In fact, it seems some filmmakers are putting in more efforts in creating their film’s promo than the actual movie.
There is a dialogue in the movie Halla Bol (sadly, another sincere effort going unnoticed) by some side actor. It says “Aaj kal sab kuchh marketing pe chalta hai. Jab tak public ko achchhe-bure ki samaj aaye, teen din mein maal andar”. The '3 Day Affair' cannot be described more accurately than this!
The Twist called Terror
Ratings: - * * *
When fourteen year old Sikandar (Parzan Dastur) picked-up a gun lying on the road, he had no idea that his few minutes of heroic pleasure will bring a drastic change in his life and will also force major turn of events in a terror-torn area of Kashmir.
Because of such an intriguing and novel concept, director Piyush Jha’s Sikandar cannot be labeled as just another film on the issue of terrorism in Kashmir even though it is actually just another film on that issue. This is largely because of the narration, which is thrilling as well as simple at the same time. However, the final conclusion acts as the only drawback and can well be the reason for the film receiving mixed reactions.
Jha’s maturity in handling a delicate issue can be felt throughout the duration of the narration, which doesn’t go off-track even for a scene. In addition, the beautiful and mind-blowing locations can make anyone fall in love with the place. The scenic mountains and the landscapes force one to stay glued to the screen even when the going is a bit slow. In fact, it won’t be an overstatement to consider the location as one of the principal characters. For this, credit goes to Somak Mukherjee’s artistic cinematography.
Parzan Dastoor manages to carry the film on his shoulders and displays the right emotions. Playing the central character in such a film and that too for the first time can be a daunting task and the small sardar of Kuch Kuch Hota Hai passes the test.
Ayesha Kapoor (younger Rani Mukherjee in Black) too gets a scope to show her skills while Madhavan and Sanjuy Suri enact their parts perfectly. Debutant Arunoday Singh shows some promise in a cameo.
The subject of the film doesn’t leave much scope for songs though Dhoop Ke Sikke fits in the mood. More than the music of the few songs, it’s the background score that is more noticeable and has a gripping impact throughout.
Piyush Jha certainly churns out a commendable product which deserves a watch though the final culmination of events wouldn’t find many takers. In fact, the final scenarios prevent the film from being an outstanding effort. But more than that, the poor opening will make Sikandar go unnoticed at the box-office. Sadly, this will have to be included in my next ‘Unsung Heroes’ post.
A Road Less Travelled
Ratings: - * * *
Bridging the gap between parallel cinema and masala entertainers can be dicey. Though Vishal Bhardwaj, who tries it in Kaminey, succeeds in his new and unusual storytelling method, there’s no denying that he ends with being a bit too nasty and complicated. Therefore, those inclined towards goody and light entertainers will be disappointed.
Coming straight to the plot the writers and the director have added high doses of freshness in it even though it follows the premise of two twin brothers Guddu and Charlie (Shahid Kapoor) and the comedy of errors arising due to their identical looks. Guddu is a soft-hearted goody boy while Charlie is a gangster and is equally wild. Surrounding the two brothers is a bunch of unusual characters like Sweety (Priyanka Chopra), Bhope Bhau (Amole Gupte), Mikhail (Chandan Roy Sanyal), Lobo (Shiv Subrahmanyam) and Lele (Hrishikesh Joshi).
The whole story, which takes place in a span of 48 hours, keeps the interest alive because of the fast narrative. Bhardwaj shows his touch of class in a number of praiseworthy sequences. Even a host of characters are beautifully woven into the main plot. However, one does wish Bhardwaj had kept things simple instead of being too wild at several points.
Shahid Kapoor and his gutsy performance acts as the major pillar for the film. The actor plays two opposite characters with perfection. After watching him here, one cannot argue against him being one of the most talented youngsters in Bollywood. His character Charlie’s ‘fa’ pronunciation for ‘sa’ plays a big role in the humor content. Priyanka Chopra once again proves that she has come of age lately. Her role required her to be soft and hard-hitting at the same time and she manages it with utmost ease.
However, Amole Gupte’s negative act comes as a total surprise. The script writer turned actor is flawless and adorable. Where was he all these years? Chandan Roy Sanyal makes a confident debut and promises a lot. The rest of the characters like Tenzing Nima, Shiv Subhrahmanyam, Hrishikesh Joshi, etc provide perfect support.
As a music director, Bhardwaj’s tunes suit the subject perfectly. Apart from the hugely popular Dhan Te Nan, Raat Ko Dhaai Baje is another impressive number. Even his background score is apt for the subject.
Kaminey relies mainly on performances. In fact, it’s because of the performances that one feels satisfied with this one. The satisfaction could’ve been greater if, as stated earlier, the narrative was less nasty and complicated. All in all, Kaminey is laudable for the hatke path it follows.
Along with the well-known blockbusters, each year Bollywood also witnesses a number of well-intentioned and intelligently made films that go unnoticed and fail to get the due respect which they rightfully deserved. There can be various reasons for their downfall like lack of promotion, lack of interest for the masses, lack of superstars or lack of masala or entertaining factors. Sadly, the first half of this year too witnessed such unsung heroes. Let’s take a look at them: -
The Stoneman Murders: Director Manish Gupta’s thriller was based on the mysterious serial killings which terrorized Mumbai in 1983. After adding some meaningful fictitious elements, Gupta made an intense drama with some unpredictable twists leading on to a heart-wrenching climax. It had a powerful script without a single dull moment. Plus, Kay Kay Menon’s flawless and memorable performance summed up a flick which surely deserved a watch. Unfortunately, it opened with a poor response and was ignored after the first week itself.
Gulaal: This one received a great deal of critical as well as international acclaim. However, that wasn’t enough as the film failed to gain a good response at the ticket-window. An unusual subject of student cum mafia politics was dealt in a mature manner by director Anurag Kashyap, who showed his special touch in a number of praiseworthy sequences. It had some topnotch performances by Kay Kay Menon, Raj Singh Chaudhary, Abhimanyu Singh, Ayesha Mohan, Piyush Mishra and, in fact, even by those side actors. Its dark, hard-hitting and somewhat disturbing subject could be the reason why it didn’t attract the masses.
Firaaq: Actress Nandita Das’ directorial debut was appreciated round the globe. Sadly, back home the film received a dismal response at the box-office. It was a never-tried-before realistic account of the people who have just gone through the nerve-wracking Godhara riots in Gujarat. Das managed to churn out some realistically excellent performance from Nasserudding Shah, Paresh Rawal, Shahana Goswami and Raghuveer Yadav. One doesn’t expect such a film to be a blockbuster but one certainly expects the multiplex audiences to help the film gain at least something notable at the box-office.
Let’s Dance: Aarif Sheikh’s directorial debut wasn’t a such a praiseworthy affair. However, what’s saddening is that the fact that a superlative performance by the first-timer Gayatri Patel didn’t manage to turn heads. It’s a rare for a debutant girl to carry the whole film on her shoulders without any support whatsoever from her male counterparts. When was the last time we witnessed such a thing? Memory takes us as back as 1997 when Rani Mukherjee did the same thing in her debut Raja Ki Aayegi Baraat.