The Common Man Speaks

27Feb/102

Final Slap For The Critics!

After carrying out the mountainous task of batting throughout the fifty overs and scoring the first ever double ton in the history one day internationals, Sachin Tendulkar has once again proved that age is nothing more than just a number. While he hit 25 fours and 3 sixes, he was also hitting away the question of his retirement … for ever! As it is, the demand for his retirement from his critics was always baseless. And on February 24, 2010, the Master Blaster proved their idiocy while batting against South Africa in Gwalior.

Since February 2009, Sachin has scored 1,158 runs in 20 one day internationals with 4 centuries at a mammoth average of 72.37 (Stats provided by The Times Of India). Apart from this, he has to his name 10 Test Match centuries since January 2008 in 23 test matches (Cricinfo stats).

Apart from scoring these huge numbers of runs, just playing in these many matches in both the forms of the game requires a unique fitness level when you are in your late 30s. That uniqueness is seen not only in the maestro’s batting but also his fielding. He plays all kind of traditional as well as cheeky shots with ease. He sprints across the boundary with the same level of energy when he was 20. So, while considering all this, why the hell should anyone think of his retirement?

Time and again Tendulkar has answered his critics by his performance and in Gwalior he provided a final slap to them. These include, Indian and international ex-players, columnists, the cricket-illiterate news reporters and anchors and some self proclaimed chaps who wrongly consider themselves pundits of cricket. However, if they still continue to wriggle their tongues, Sachin’s bat is always there to do the talking with those fools!

16Feb/104

My Name Is Khan Review

Repairs Almost Everything… But Almost!

Ratings: - * * *

It’s surprising to see a movie on world peace and about the portrayal of Islam coming from a man who is known for churning out tear-jerking love stories and family dramas. It’s even more surprising to see filmmaker Karan Johar using a character with Asperger’s Syndrome (a form of autism) to prove his point. Although the film succeeds in the mission, it is the central character of Rizwan Khan (Shah Rukh Khan) that you feel like carrying away more than the film because of a sloppy storyline and a stretched second half.

Right from his childhood, Rizwan Khan is told by his mother that human beings can be distinguished only as good or bad as religious differences pose no meaning. Despite, his autistic condition, Rizwan possesses a special skill of repairing all kind of gadgets. Hence, he can 'Repair Almost Anything'. He meets a pretty single mother Mandira (Kajol) when he is forced to migrate to the US with his brother Zakir (Jimmy Shergill). However, the 9/11 attacks change everything including the equations between Rizwan and Mandira. Now, Rizwan has only one mission – to meet the President of the United States just to say, “My name is Khan and I am not a terrorist”.

It is the character of Rizwan and his innocent activities that makes the film possible. He makes you laugh, cry, enlighten as well as rethink on certain issues. His each and every interaction is memorable, especially his comments, “Liar liar” for those who are ‘bad people’.

Johar deserves appreciation for bringing to light an important issue and for trying to spread the message of humanity. Also, he shows the plight of innocent Muslims after the 9/11 attacks without the use of melodramatic and round-the-mill dialogues. Plus, Rizwan’s encounter in Georgia is memorable and moving.

However, having said that, the problems in the story and script are too big to ignore. These include: -

  • A character suffering from autism easily travels from one unknown destination to another without facing any problem whatsoever because his condition.
  • Too many incidents added after the interval tests one’s patience. Needless to say, this also increases the length to a large extent.
  • The motto of Rizwan (of meeting the President just to say that he is not a terrorist) isn’t appealing enough to generate backing from the audience.
  • The reason for Rizwan getting arrested when he was standing in the crowd appears weird.
  • Communal riots are shown taking place in Mumbai in the year 1983. They never happened in that year.
  • Sadly, the list doesn’t end here.

It takes the genius of Shah Rukh Khan to make the character of Rizwan possible. Because of SRK’s charm, one doesn’t feel awkward or uninterested while watching an autistic character. He achieves perfection with regard to the mannerisms, way of speaking and gestures of an autistic character with ease, which is hugely difficult. In short, this surely deserves a place in SRK’s top 5 performances ever.

However, My Name Is Khan is not just about SRK. Kajol shows her brilliance as much as him. The actress achieves mastery while depicting every emotion whether it is love, comedy or tragedy. It is because of the absence of Kajol that some non-talented glam dolls have acquired the top spot these days. Jimmy Shergill, Soniya Jehan and all the supporting characters play their parts well. Zarina Wahab, as Rizwan’s mother, deserves special mention.

Because of the negative points (mentioned above), My Name Is Khan turns out to be just a one-time watch movie. Still it can be considered special because of SRK’s performance and the issue it focusses. The film is definitely going to enjoy huge profits because of the hype and the huge scale release but the collections are expected to come down after the first week or so.

8Feb/102

Harishchandrachi Factory Review


Witnessing the Birth 

Ratings: * * * * ½

The cinema industry is flourishing in India since close to a hundred years. Thousands and thousands of films have been made in a number of languages and genres. But ever wondered how the gates of the Indian film industry were opened and by whom? Paresh Mokashi’s Harishchandrachi Factory enlightens on the birth of Indian cinema. The end result is an exciting journey of the Father of Indian Cinema, Dhundiraj Govind Phalke (respectfully known as Dadasaheb Phalke) – the person who made cinema possible in India.

Right from the time he saw a movie for the first time, Phalke became eager to make a movie himself and join the filmmaking profession. However, he possesses zero knowledge about the art of filmmaking. His eagerness to learn and master the art triggers his journey to make India’s first motion picture. He receives moral, practical and emotional support from his wife Saraswati (Vibhawari Deshpande). Phalke doesn’t even hesitate to go to London by putting his financial future at stake.

The uniqueness about Harishchandrachi Factory is the feel-good factor throughout. Although this is a story of a struggler, Mokashi, as a writer, has added humor in each and every scene and that too in the most simplest of situations. He proves that one doesn’t always need slapstick and sarcastic jokes to make people laugh. Even simple and clean humor can produce hundreds of rib-tickling moments.

To direct a movie about a movie isn’t everyone’s cup of tea and Mokashi shows that the cup is certainly his. He has shown every aspect of filmmaking from story idea to script preparation, from reel development to camera operation, from cast selection to scene narration and finally, from the final shoot to the actual screening. During all this, the goings doesn’t appear like a documentary or a learning activity even for a minute. However, amidst all the fun, there should have been more footage to the struggling factor considering it was a daunting task for India’s first filmmaker.

Art Director Nitin Desai produces a visual treat by building sets which take you back to the 1911-1913 era. In fact, Desai’s work makes sure that the art direction turns out to be one of the main characters of the movie.

Nandu Madhav in the central role of Dadasaheb Phalke is tremendous and flawless. The film would not have looked so beautiful if Phalke’s character was not played with conviction but Madhav takes full care that doesn’t happen as he oozes perfection in every frame. Vibhawari Deshpande (Savitri) and the rest of the actors playing the film crew and the neighbors give sound performances too.

It would be unfair to label Harishchandrachi Factory as a Marathi movie. It’s one of those rare films which crosses all language and cultural barriers. And if you like cinema, you will love this one.

1Feb/105

Rann Movie Review

Truth or TRP?

Ratings: * * * ½

In a time when news channels are busy with celebrity gossips, astrology, saas bahu news, promoting blind faith, creating sensationalism over petty issues and cooking news about mythological evidences, one tends to wonder what the real role of a news channel is. Ram Gopal Varma’s Rann tries answering the question and not only that; it also shows how the whole political scenario of a nation can change due to the abuse of media.

Vijay Malik’s (Amitabh Bachchan) TV channel India 24 X 7 is low in TRPs as it has not surrendered to sensationalism like other channels. But this won’t bend Malik’s traditional and ethical ways of journalism. Of course, Malik’s ideology is not appreciated by people from his own company including his son Jai (Sudeep). However, Purab (Riteish Deshmukh), an upcoming journalist, considers Malik as a Godly figure because of his honest ideology. One day, India 24 X 7, knowingly and unknowingly, becomes the reason for a major chaos in the country, which benefits a corrupt politician Mohan Pandey (Paresh Rawal).

Ram Gopal Varma does achieve his goal and, surprisingly, without much media bashing. His intelligently crafted scenes create intenseness throughout with the focus not shifting from the topic for once ever.  Plus, Amit Roy’s unusual yet out-of-the-box cinematography and Amar Mohile’s powerful background score generate further interest. However, one does hope there were some more powerful punches considering the hard hitting subject. Because of their absence, the film may not go down well with the entertainment hungry creatures.

The songs, which are used only in the background, suit the mood of the film perfectly, especially the Vande Mataram track and a song on TRPs.

The ways of describing Bachchan’s up-to-the-mark performance have exhausted over the decades. So I’ll only say that this performance should be added in Big B’s long list of qualitative performances. Over here, he skillfully manages to convey his message thorough his expressions when his inside is full of lava. Despite Bachchan’s presence, Sudeep manages to surprise amazingly. He is flawless throughout with his expressions, actions and dialogues. He surely deserves lots of opportunities.

With this performance, Ritiesh Deshmukh proves his worth even as a serious and intense performer. His pre-climax scene with Bachchan is memorable. Paresh Rawal, in the role of a baddie politician is too good. You love to hate him. Rajpal Yadav, Mohinish Behl, Suchitra Krishnamurthy and other supporting cast play their part well. However, Neetu Chandra is wasted. All she does is expose her body and cool down Sudeep in almost her every scene.

Rann should surely be watched by all those who take every word from these TRP-hungry news channels. The film will surely appeal to those who prefer meaningful, insightful and hard-hitting cinema. Its chances, however, look bleak because of an unimpressive opening.