Sunday, September 14, 2014

Terrible time at the movies

Its been a while since I did detailed movie reviews but I hardly get the time these days nor can I summon the energy to sit back and (re)think on how I felt when I was actually watching the mostly insipid fare being dished out these days... However, there is a reason why I was compelled to jot this blog entry down and the reason is the last movie that I will cover in the post so read on....


Lets get this clear straight off the bat - Chetan Bhagat does not write literary masterpieces but no one call deny that he pens what I call "real timepass" books which are perfect for a few laughs, a quick cry and a good 2 hours of all masala entertainment elements  packaged in the right propotion. As his protagonist Krish in the semi-autobiographical 2 States says early on, the story should always be honest (and relatable) and the story is the real hero. Most of Bhagat's books lend themselves to screen very easily and though the adaptations have been mxed so far (loved Kai Po Che, didn't really fancy 3 Idiots), I was quite looking fwd to seeing 2 States in reel.

Short verdict: If you aren't a fan of Alia Bhatt, stay miles away from this movie. The film is a DUMMY's GUIDE TO REGIONAL STEREOTYPES and while the book treated all of this in a lighter vein, the movie takes itself too seriously and ends up boring you to bits. Arjun Kapoor is horribly miscast and if it weren't for his lineage, he would have probably become a librarian or a musuem curator.    


There are just 3 reasons why you should even give this product from Karan Johar's stable a shot - Parineeti Chopra who is increasingly looking like she could be the Juhi Chawla of this generation (cute, likeable and genuinely capable of performing if pushed by the director), Mohan Joshi who is one of the finest, under-utilised character artists of Bollywood and Vinil Mathew, the director, for having the guts to create on paper one of the truly "hatke" heroines of recent times (she is a geeky scientist who actually has no shame in trying to steal her sister's fiance) before the inevitable surrender to the machinations of his producer when he started shooting the film.

Everything else about this movie is a problem - the story, screenplay, music, tone, I could go on and on - and I cannot imagine why/how Anurag Kashyap got himself associated with this?


Very few movies in recent times have got as much universal critical acclaim and commercial success as Queen and more so, when the starcast is led by a heroine (Kahaani is probably an exception but I thought Vidya was strictly ok in it not mind blowing). When expectations are this high, you are only bound to get disappointed so I had been avoiding seeing this movie for a loooooong time till I was left with no choice but to give it a shot during a long 15 flight journey... and by god, WHAT A MOVIE... W-H-A-T   A   M-O-V-I-E !!!!

There's nothing that I can say here that has probably not been covered in earlier reviews so without going gaga over Kangna, let me draw your attention to one person. In a role that screams LOSER in caps and bold and 42 Times New Roman, Rajkumar Rao nails the character of Vijay. If this were Hollywood, where length of the role doesn't matter and stars still do "guest appearances", Rajkumar Rao would probably be nominated for the Best Supporting Actor Oscar and might actually win it too. He is really THAT GOOD !!! Forget Shahid and Kai Po Che, watch Queen and watch it just for him.

...and yes, the music in Queen is a dream. If Amit Trivedi's songs rocked as a stand alone sound track, it is ten times better within the movie.  


It takes a special kind of talent to get two big stars like Vijay and Mohanlal together and then mess things up bad.... REAL BAD. Director Nesan pulls off this miraculous feat with aplomb in Pongal 2014's biggie Jilla.

If Nesan learnt his early trade under Bhagyaraj, then he clearly wasn't paying much attention as the movie clearly shows the influence of his other mentor Vincent Selva, the man behind brilliant (cough cough) movies like Priyamudan, Iraniyan etc.

The only way to enjoy Jilla is to go to the theatre with your friends and have an ongoing guessing contest on predicting what will happen in the next scene. Warning alert: Its bound to be a high scoring game with every mistake costing you - the winning score is likely to be in the high nineties in terms of percentages.

Its also sad to see a star like Mohanlal playing paycheck roles like these but I am told his Malayalam potboilers are worse and I cannot even imagine that. What worries me more is Vijay's tendency to keep going back to these old horrible templates just when you think he's doing well for himself in v3.0...but then I remember this is the guy who sent DVDs of his old movies (Vishnu, Chandralekha, Coimbatore Mapillai, Selva) to Shankar after he had made Jeans and asked him to write a script to suit his own image *shudder shudder*

Jilla is illogical and silly and also mind-numbingly long at 182 minutes (almost sat through 3 airline meals). What's worse is that it is going to be remade in both Kannada and Telugu. God  save audiences who escaped this monstrosity the first time around.

....which brings us to the magnum opus of 2014 Tamil Cinema (and I say this with complete confidence despite there being another 3 months in the year)


The story (or whatever poses as one) is as old as the Old Testament. It is a routine revenge drama told with no energy or novelty. I have seen movies of the same genre starring Sarath Kumar and  Namitha (i think) narrated with more panache. The pacing is dull and dreary, critical events unfold with no sense of edge or tension and just when something seems to finally be happening, there is a horrible interruption in the form of a tedious song. The sound track is one of the worst in Yuvan's stuttering career and it isn't helped by gimmicky stunts like getting Surya to sing. The lyrics are cringeworthy - sample this

Sirippu En Speciality
Silk Smitha Community
Day By Day Majority
Take It Easy Mentality

Hey Paapa Pola Maturity
Ada Pasanga Kootam Security
Yen Azhagukae Naan Authority
Yen Adimai Indha Mumbai City

The dialogues, btw,  are no better. Cliches abound - the cartoonish Dubai based don, the honest Muslim, the sincere cop, the double crossing aide - and there is no attempt to even try and relate things in a logical fashion. Casting choices provide a lot of unintended comic relief with Vidyut Jamwal a sureshot winner for a Raspberry or a Golden Kela.

I cannot fathom why respected artists & technicians like Manoj Bajpai, Santhosh Sivan can sign up to something as moronic as this. Samantha is on record saying she worked in Anjaan to give herself an image make-over.  Why just wear a bikini and play a token bimbette love interest for a ruthless gangster in a C Grade masala potboiler. Why not go whole hog and do a Penthouse centrespread?

Nothing about the movie makes any sense. No one associated with the project (starting from the producer to the director, actors, technicians) seems to have cared about the end product. Their only concern seems to have been to start, shoot, cut, release & make a fast buck.

How did someone sell this project to Surya?
You've tried being different in 7aum arivu and Maattrraan (Lost count of the T,R,As) and it did not work - we just commissioned a survey on what will work in all our major markets (Tamil Nadu, Andhra, Kerala and Hindi dubbing rights) and this is the script that covers  ALL the major findings.

Its 20 years since Baasha released and we've not had one memorable Gangster movie post that. Let's do this. Why will it work? The story is set in Mumbai (location sentiment) and we just cannot fail (let's just forget Thalaivaa for a moment).

Surya bhai, I've designed a look for you in this film that would do even Marlon Brando proud. You have a tooth pick in your mouth and that makes you look realllly menacing. How is it????

All this might have been true if it were a newcomer but this was a Lingusamy effort.... so did he just tell Surya "I made Paiyaa and that was your brother's last hit. Trust me. This WILL work."

Whatever it is, I pity Surya. I read he was very offended when people trashed Anjaan within hours of its release. Has Surya become so sensitive that he cannot tolerate criticism? Yes, some of it was downright spiteful but the film absolutely deserves it. If he cannot admit it himself, then I am sorry, its time to wake up and smell the coffee. 

For now, I am staying miles away from the films of the two brothers... till they fire their PAs who screen the scripts or till Sivakumar gives them a right, old fashioned spanking. Not holding my breath though.