The Common Man Speaks


Review of Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai

Company Remade?

Ratings: * * *

Films on underworld have been a regular feature in Bollywood right from the time of Shiva, then moving on to Satya, Vaastav and Company till the recent ones like Gangster and Shootout At Lokhandwala to name a few. Because of the success and popularity of these films, Milan Luthria’s Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai turns out to be one of those ‘been-there-seen-that’ sagas despite some intelligent direction and sleek presentation.

To make matters worse, the culmination of the story is fearfully similar to Ram Gopal Varma’s Company. Plus, as the word has spread that the film is based on Haji Mastan and Dawood Ibrahim’s friendship and rivalry, the story becomes predictable for most of us.

Perhaps the only novel thing offered here is the exploration of the underworld in Mumbai during the 70s, an area which is hardly explored in Bollywood. It is during this era that Sultan Mirza (Ajay Devgan or Devgn) ruled over Mumbai. Although a smuggler by profession, Sultan is a messiah for the poor and underprivileged. As his ruthlessness never hurts an innocent, he enjoys a Godly status in Bombay (then called). Then there’s Shoaib (Emraan Hashmi) who has been a notorious goon since early childhood. Fate brings Shoaib and Sultan together. What happens next forms the rest of the story and the history of Mumbai.

Luthria’s presentation of Mumbai in the yesteryears is the biggest plus point. The director also makes his mark felt in a number of praiseworthy and stylized scenes especially during the climax, which is wonderfully shot.

Things would have looked better if Luthria was blessed with a powerfully punched story and screenplay (Rajat Arora). There aren’t many punches or kicks during the first half while the film gains momentum only during the pre-climax portions. Although the dialogues are witty and intelligent, they tend to become a bit too philosophical particularly the lines given to Randeep Hooda.

Contrary to most of the gangster movies, OUATIM scores in the music department (Pritam) with tracks Pee Loon and Tum Jo Aaye standing out. Aseem Mishra’s cinematography jells well with the mood of the flick.

Ajay Devgan to Once Upon A Time In Mumbai is what petrol is to a car. The actor gives one of his most powerful performances while portraying anger, sympathy, joy, ruthlessness, sadness and power with utmost ease. A sheer delight! However, his act doesn’t overshadow Emraan Hashmi’s baddie act that he enacts perfectly. This actor is coming of age from a ‘serial kisser’ image.

Although there isn’t much to do for the ladies, Kangna Ranaut and Prachi Desai manage to fit well in their characters. Randeep Hooda in the role of the ACP is quite good.

One won’t be disappointed with if he/she isn’t expecting newness from Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai. Definitely worth a watch if you are looking for an interesting modernly crafted flick with lots of style and a powerful background score. The good opening, especially in the single screens, will make sure the film enjoys good returns in the first two weeks.


Traditional Blindness!

The more views this post of mine gets, the more are the chances of me facing the wrath especially from the likes of Sooraj Barjatya, Ekta Kapoor and their followers. Contradictory to your thoughts, I am not thrashing the genre of movies and serials they produce (that will require me to write a book than a mere blog post). The thing which I am going to express has been going in my mind since years. Finally, I have found time to explode this thing onto my blog, without giving a damn to the criticisms and gaalis!

Before starting off, I would like to make myself clear that I have deep respect for Indian culture and traditions. However, there are some beliefs and practices which appear to me as plain stupid or illogical. I am not one of those huge majority of Indians, who unquestionably and blindly follow some beliefs despite being aware of its absurdity. So, here’s the list of those practices or beliefs which I find trashy: -

  • Husband-Worship: A husband and a wife are considered life partners. They are two people who have decided to stay together since they love each other (in most of the cases I suppose). If this is the case, then why the hell is the wife expected to give a Godly status to her husband? Why does the society make the husband look superior to his wife by promoting beliefs like Pati parmeshwar hota hai and Patni ki jagah pati ke charanon mein hoti hain? The man is not doing any ehsaan on the girl or her family by marrying her. After all, isn’t he in need of a wife just like the girl is in need of a husband?
  • Right-Hand Theory: Innumerable times during my childhood I was ordered not to use my left hand while accepting prashaad or money. Yes, I know the left hand is used for some ‘other’ thing but don’t we wash our hands or take a bath after that activity? So what’s the big deal in using that hand? It’s just a part of our body yaar! And if the hand is considered so inauspicious, don’t use it for any purpose and just keep it reserved for ‘that’ activity. If discrimination amongst people on the basis of religion, region or caste isn’t enough, we also have discrimination between our body parts!
  • Karvachauth Hangover: After following innumerable number of movies and serials, these wives keep Karvachauth Ka Vrat for the long life of their husbands. But the big question remains – why only the wife prays for her husband’s long life and why not vice versa? And by the way, how can anyone be a fool enough to believe that such a thing actually increases someone’s life span? What biological changes does the body experience that increases the life expectancy due to this bloody vrat?
  • A Curse in Disguise: It is annoying to see phrases like ‘Sada Suhagan Raho’ and ‘Akhand Saubhagyawati’ being considered as the most auspicious of blessings. It is indirectly telling the girl, “Bhagwan kare tere pati ke pehle tu mare!” How can you hope or wish for someone’s death? Or do these people still believe that a woman won’t be able to live alone even in today’s era? You talk of women’s liberation but at the same time keep promoting such curses. Why not a single pro-women group has ever raised its voice against such a ghastly gender bias?

Today, modernism is only limited to clothes, appearance and way of speaking while the thinking continues to remain backwards courtesy these beliefs. Our society will be truly modern only when logic and equality will rule every institution and phenomenon. Until that time – Andhera Kaayam Rahen!


Red Alert – The War Within Movie Review

Best of 2010 So Far!

Rating - * * * *

Almost daily we read newspaper reports about naxals and their terror movement. But how many of us are truly educated about this grave problem India is facing? Ananth Narayan Mahadevan’s Red Alert – The War Within is a scorching eye-opener for all those ignorant about the issue as it provides an in-depth view of the naxals and also portrays their mindset in a manner that will shake, thrill, move as well as entertain.

The film gains momentum right from the very first scene when Narsimha (Sunil or Suneil Shetty), a cook, visits a naxal camp to provide food. The unexpected circumstances force Narsimha to stay with the group and also be a part of them. Along with Narsimha, the viewer is taken on an unconquered, harsh and heart-wrenching journey courtesy the activities of the naxalite group that includes Velu Anna (Ashish Vidyarthi), Saralaka (Seema Biswas), Murli (Sunil Sinha), Radhaka (Ayesha Dharker), Laxmi (Sameera Reddy) and Krishna (Ehsan Khan).

Making a film like Red Alert can take a toll on the best of directors and for this Anant Mahadevan has every reason to keep his head high as he has handled the subject with maturity and intelligence. His subtle as well as hard hitting presentation of Narsimha’s journey is sure to grab the viewer’s attention throughout. This is easily Mahadevan’s best work till date. In fact, it is difficult to believe he is the same person who gave films like Aksar, Victoria No. 203, Aggar and Anamika.

Mahadevan is blessed with Aruna Raje’s flawless and watertight screenplay. The film wouldn’t have been what it is without such a brilliant writing effort. To weave the lives of the naxals, their thinking, attitude and terror acts while making the audience feel for the central character of Narsimha is no ordinary feat. Although the climax might appear filmi, it certainly provides a positive feel because of unexpected twists.

The dialogues and the background score are highly effective. The cinematography deserves special mention as it can be a hell of a task to shoot around 80% of the movie in jungles.

Red Alert redefines Sunil Shetty who shocks with his career best performance. The actor gives a run for the money to all top performers in the country as he gets into the skin of the character in a masterful manner. His expressions, dialogue delivery, the way he depicts Narsimha’s confusion, depression, agony and determination makes him a candidate for a National Award. Damn all those stand up comedians who make fun of this actor!

There are a bunch of other actors like Seema Biswas, Ayesha Dharker, Sunil Sinha, Makarand Deshpande, Vinod Khanna and Zakir Hussain who give top-notch performances. But it’s Ashish Vidyarthi who makes us wonder why he isn’t seen much these days. His performance as the head of the naxals Velu Anna oozes terror in every scene of his. Sameera Reddy is a total revelation. Also a career best performance by her for she leaves a strong impact in a complete de-glam avatar. Naseeruddin Shah impresses in a cameo while Bhagyashree is not bad.

The low opening the film has gained (which will always be the case until the audience comes out of romantic and comedy entertainers’ hangover) won’t overshadow its numerous achievements. In my personal opinion, Red Alert – The Terror Within is clearly the best 2010 has offered so far.