Recall the 'Kantaben' episode in Karan Johar's KAL HO NAA HO. The episode is alive even today, in skits, on stage, amongst friends. That was a mere trailer. Picture abhi baaki hain. DOSTANA takes 'Kantaben' episode to another level altogether.
DOSTANA is no BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN. It's not a serious take on homosexuality either. On the contrary, it's a madcap comedy where two straight men pretend to be gays. Although DOSTANA is a mainstream commercial film, it dares to push the envelope in its own way. It brings homosexuality out of the closet, gives it respect and dignity and doesn't treat gays as 'abnormal'.
Love triangle in Hindi movies often centre around two guys falling in love with the same girl, or two girls choosing to love the same guy. But DOSTANA is a first. It's the first Hindi film that, at the core, is a rectangle [three men loving the same woman], but two of them, guys in this case, pretend to be a couple.
Sure, DOSTANA has ample shock-value since what has been witnessed in its promos is barely a fraction of what you'd get to watch in the movie. But more than shock-value, the film offers loads of fun-n-laughter and dollops of entertainment in those 14 reels.
A word of appreciation! It requires courage to fund a project like DOSTANA. Karan Johar, the producer, deserves to be lauded for treading the untrodden path. It requires courage and conviction to swim against the tide in your directorial debut. Tarun Mansukhani, the debutante, deserves a few brownie points extra for not thinking straight. It requires courage for two A-list actors to go all out and risk their professional [and personal] lives. Abhishek and John deserve an ovation for not only agreeing to play these characters, but also infusing life in them, without making a mockery of the gay community.
To cut a long story short, DOSTANA is not to be missed. Dharma Productions, the late Yash Johar and Karan Johar's film production outfit, has produced several significant films in the past. Add DOSTANA to the list!
Miami is the setting for DOSTANA. When Sameer [Abhishek Bachchan] and Kunal [John Abraham] are turned down for an apartment because the landlady [Sushmita Mukherjee] doesn't want two strapping young men to corrupt her young sexy niece Neha [Priyanka Chopra], they hatch a plan: they pretend to be gay to secure the apartment.
Over a period of time, Sameer, Kunal and Neha become buddies. When Neha's boss Abhimanyu [Bobby Deol] enters the fray as the third contender for her affections, it gets even hotter…
DOSTANA shocks you all the while and that is its biggest USP. Don't expect stereotypical situations or characters all through this film. Watch Abhishek cook up a romantic story between John and him in Venice. Watch Boman Irani's interaction with Abhishek and John. Watch Kirron Kher's dramatic entry at this point. Howlarious scenes all, they're sure to bring the house down.
If the first hour is laced with crackling chemistry between the guys and terrific humour, things get serious towards the second half since there's one more person vying for Priyanka's attention -- Bobby Deol. There's humour in this hour too, but the focus is mainly on who'd get Priyanka in the end.
The length is a slight deterrent in the second half and the editor could've easily cut the unwanted flab to make the narration in shape. But the film works as a package! Also, the film has a shocking end and people are bound to raise eyebrows. It would have its share of advocates and adversaries. A debatable culmination, for sure!
Director Tarun Mansukhani is here to stay. He deserves kudos for choosing an offbeat story, then making a foolproof screenplay and most importantly, executing it with flourish. DOSTANA merges form and content beautifully, since the film is, technically speaking, sound. Ayananka Bose's cinematography is top notch. The locales of Miami are a feast for your eyes. Costumes and styling are very upmarket.
Vishal-Shekhar's music goes well with the mood of the film. It's young, peppy and energetic. 'Desi Girl' and 'Maa Da Laadla Bigad Gaya' are foot-tapping compositions. The latter is bound to be a rage!
Both Abhishek and John are fantabulous! Abhishek pulls out all the stops and delivers one of the finest performances of his career. His comic timing is superb! John will make guys and girls drool over his amazing physique. But, most importantly, people will sit up and notice how fine an actor John is. Both Abhishek and John compliment each other so well. In fact, had the chemistry and camaraderie been missing, the story would've failed to look convincing. Two thumbs up for these two guys!
Priyanka looks stunning and delivers a first-rate performance. First FASHION, now DOSTANA, Priyanka is back with a bang. Bobby Deol lends the required class to his role. No other actor would've looked so real while underplaying this character.
Boman Irani is sure to bring the house down, the auditorium is sure to resonate with laughter in his sequences. Kirron Kher is superb as the Punjabi mom. Watch her throw a fit when she learns that her son [Abhishek] is gay and much later, when she accepts John as family. She's remarkable! Sushmita Mukherjee, as Priyanka's aunt, is fantastic. She's so, so funny. Shilpa Shetty sizzles in the opening track.
On the whole, DOSTANA is a winner all the way. In terms of content, it might just prove to be a trendsetter. In terms of business, the film holds tremendous appeal for the youth. The 16 to 25 age-group would go into raptures and bonkers over this film. Its business at multiplexes mainly will be amazing. In Overseas too, the film should emerge amongst the biggest draws of 2008. DOSTANA rocks... have a blast!
Monday, November 17, 2008 | 8 Comments
Are you ready for an expose on the fashion industry? Where designers pass off 'Indira Market, Bangkok' stuff as their own creation. Where ad agency/fashion mag honchos call the shots. Wild lifestyles, backstage dramas, wardrobe malfunction, casting couch... ouch, ouch, ouch!
Madhur Bhandarkar, the undisputed king of realistic fares, comes up with yet another hard-hitting film that enlightens you, moves you, motivates and deflates you, even shocks and surprises you and of course, entertains you.
The solid reason why FASHION works is because Madhur brings alive everything you've read in newspapers or watched on TV as an outsider, to the big screen. And that works and how!
But let's not give the subject material all importance, for Madhur's handling of the subject is exemplary. Madhur dresses up his mannequins well, but most importantly, infuses life in those prime bodies. A number sequences leave you tongue-tied [more on that later].
But there's a hitch. And this problem tones down the impact considerably. The running tine of almost 2.40 hours makes you restless, especially the penultimate 25-odd minutes. Yet, all said and done, FASHION has all it takes to be the showstopper this Diwali!
FASHION tells the story of a small-town girl with a dream and the determination to make it a reality. Meghna [Priyanka Chopra] is ambitious, she wants to attain the status of a supermodel. She realises her dreams and rises to walk the ramps for leading designers across India.
But Meghna has to pay the price for her fame and her journey to the top. Her career starts sliding downwards. In this journey of Meghna, she encounters a number of people. Most importantly, Shonali [Kangna Ranaut] and Janet [Mugdha Godse]. Also, Abhijit Sareen [Arbaaz Khan], a tycoon who controls the fashion industry.
CHANDNI BAR, PAGE 3, SATTA, CORPORATE, TRAFFIC SIGNAL -- every Madhur Bhandarkar film has a new story to tell and he tells it most convincingly. In fact, Madhur strikes a fine balance between realism and entertainment in every film. Given the fact that FASHION is all about the fashion industry, the narrative is inevitably filled with lots of glam-n-glitz moments. The fashion shows, the stunning models, the superb styling, the vibrant colours and the behind the scenes drama is worth every penny spent on the ticket.
But it's not just ramp shows and style-n-fashion here. There's a story running concurrently -- of three models. One, the rise of an unknown into a supermodel. Two, the fall of a supermodel to dust. Three, the ambitious model not achieving success, but opting for a marriage of convenience.
While Madhur has handled the theme as if he were an insider, this review would be incomplete if you ignore two major sequences that are simply outstanding. One, Kangna's wardrobe malfunction and two, when Priyanka exposes Arbaaz to his wife [Suchitra Pillai].
Mahesh Limaye's cinematography captures every aspect of the fashion industry to the fullest. The screenplay [Madhur Bhandarkar, Anuradha Tiwari, Ajay Monga] is perfect, except for the penultimate portions. Niranjan Iyengar's dialogues are fantastic. Nitin Chandrakant Desai's production design is truly upmarket. The costumes and styling are top notch, a feast for the eyes. Salim-Sulaiman's music is well synchronised as well. 'Mar Jaava' and 'Jalwa' are lilting creations.
Madhur places immense trust on Priyanka and she is remarkable all through, more towards the second hour. Post AITRAAZ, FASHION is another medal that shines the brightest when you look at her body of work. But the real star is Kangna. Her role may not be as lengthy as that of Priyanka, but the actress pitches in an awesome performance. Her confidence at the very start is infectious and her overall performance deserves an ovation.
Mugdha Godse is, again, supremely confident. She has dum. Arbaaz Khan is first-rate. Arjan Bajwa does well. Harsh Chhaya, the gay designer, stands out with a realistic performance. Ashwin Mushran, Priyanka's confidante, is top notch. Samir Soni is good. Suchitra Pillai and Kittu Gidwani are effectual. Raj Babbar and Kiran Juneja are seasoned in such roles.
On the whole, FASHION has tremendous curiosity value and also shock value for the Indian audiences. Its subject -- the behind the scenes working and drama of the fashion industry -- is its USP. At the box-office, the pre-release hype and buzz will ensure a successful run for the film. Its business at multiplexes mainly should be bountiful. However, trimming the film will only help; not only will it enhance the film, but also its business. Must watch!
Thursday, November 06, 2008 | 1 Comments
Jog your memory a bit. Samir Karnik's first two movies [KYUN HO GAYA NA, NANHE JAISALMER] have been critical and commercial disasters. But Samir has assembled an impressive cast for his new outing HEROES. The billboards look really impressive. You think, chalo, dekhte hain, will Samir deliver this time? Will his fortunes change for better? Come to think of it, you saunter into the auditorium with zilch expectations. HEROES is an underdog.
Before we delve any further, let's clear a few misconceptions pertaining to this film. Just because the promos highlight the men in uniform, it doesn't mean HEROES is a 'war film'. Sure, it talks about love for the nation, but HEROES is not anti-Pakistan, is not jingoistic either, is nowhere close to BORDER, LOC and the likes, in terms of content.
HEROES talks about a journey undertaken by two boys and the three letters they've to deliver to the families of the deceased. HEROES is more of an emotional experience, how each family copes with life after their beloved has become a martyr.
Besides evoking strong emotions, HEROES also arouses strong patriotic feelings. There're moments in the film that compel you to salute those who guard our nation, so that we can sleep in peace. At the end, the message it delivers is simple -- You don't have to be a soldier to love your country.
Back to the two pertinent questions we raised at the outset. Question 1, Does Samir deliver? HEROES is a revelation. Cinema is all about narrating stories and Samir proves that he's a proficient storyteller. Question 2, will he prove lucky this time? Well, HEROES has all it takes to strike a chord, with family audiences mainly. The moments linger in your memory much after the show has concluded.
Final verdict? HEROES salutes the heroes who guard our nation. It's a powerful film. A moving experience!
HEROES is the story Sammy [Sohail Khan] and Ali [Vatsal Sheth] who travel a thousand miles to deliver three letters as a part of their film school assignment. But little do they know that the journey they have embarked upon will give a new meaning to their life.
HEORES unfolds in three chapters. But before that you get to see the wild side of two misled youth who don't take life seriously. The first chapter, Salman-Preity, is the highpoint of the film. The emotional moments in this chapter are worth applauding. Note the moments between Salman-Preity and also between the kid [Dwij Yadav] and the two youth. The scene at the Indo-Pak border -- the fence dividing the two nations -- is amazing. Watch Preity missing her husband and also embracing his uniform. Another brilliant stroke! This chapter deserves a 10 on 10 for its high emotional quotient and captivating performances.
Chapter 2 is slightly less impactful than Chapter 1. The portions between Sunny and Bobby are well executed, but the writing isn't as compelling. Yet, the fight sequence -- when a group of hooligans act smart with Sunny's girlfriend [Hrishitaa Bhatt] -- is superb. Sunny's 'dhai kilo ka haath' and the way it shatters the tiles on the floor leaves a strong impact. Watch this sequence with the masses and you'd only hear whistles and claps. Another scene from this chapter -- Sunny paying his last respects to Bobby -- is moving.
The third chapter [Mithun, Dino] is the softest link. Nothing wrong with the writing or its execution, but something is missing, the pace suddenly dips. The match in the end works mainly because it has been edited well.
Samir Karnik takes giant strides as a storyteller. Binod Pradhan and Gopal Shah's cinematography is top notch. The DOPs have done complete justice to the panoramic locales of North India. Sajid-Wajid's music is a major asset. 'Mannata' is the pick of the lot. What a soothing composition! Ditto for 'Makhana' [filmed on Sunny, Bobby]. Dialogues are magnificent at places.
The ones who leave the maximum impression in this multi-starrer are, in this order, Salman [superb; one of his finest works], Preity [outstanding; has spoken Punjabi so fluently], Sohail [pleasant surprise; evolving into a very fine actor], Sunny [very likeable] and Mithun Chakraborty [mature]. Bobby is effective in a cameo. Wish he would've got more footage. Vatsal Seth is decent. Dino is just about okay. Dwij Yadav is first-rate. Prateeksha Lonkar is fair. Amrita Arora and Ria Sen are passable.
On the whole, HEROES is a genuinely well-made film with strong emotions as its trump card. At the box-office, the pre-Diwali dull phase notwithstanding, it has the merits to climb the ladder with a strong word of mouth. The film deserves to be tax-exempted for its noble theme and noble intentions.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008 | 1 Comments