The Motorcycle Diaries (Diarios de motocicleta)

US Presidential hopefuls take RVs, Che went on a motorcycle. The point is you need to go on a road trip to become a successful leader of the people

Ee Adutha Kalathu (Recently)

Strange and familiar make an appearance together for the first time in Malayalam cinema and the pair is a hit

Ladies Vs Ricky Bahl

Four feisty ladies, upbeat music and a handsome conman. Anushka gets Ranveer. Bollywood gets Parineeti

Das Boot (The Boat)

Best WWII film ever, in fact the best war film ever. In true German fashion, restraint is applied by shooting the entire movie inside a U-boat

Neelathamara (Blue Lotus)

Blue lotus shares the same stature of blue moon in Malayalam, so do good remakes. This one bucks the trend.

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Nov 29, 2007

Yaadon Ki Baraat

From the father of formula films in Bollywood, Nasir Hussain, comes one of the biggest hits of the century - Yaadon Ki Baraat. This is probably the third or fourth time I am watching this 1973 classic. A vanguard in its own right Yaadon Ki Baraat was a nested product of formulas many of which Hindi filmdom has been recycling to this day. The important ones include son avenging the death of his parents, brothers torn away by circumstances reunited by a talisman(a song in the typical Bollywood fashion in this case), the utterly honest poor guy with incredible singing capacity wooing the rich girl, the high-tech villain in his seventies gadget-infested dungeon bent upon destroying the hero while wearing shoes of two different sizes(a dead giveaway!) and a Miss India(Zeenat Aman.)

The incredible soundtrack of the film composed by R.D.Burman is another selling point. The song 'Chura Liya' defined an entire generation and beyond, so did Ms.Aman. Vijay Arora stars opposite to her in the movie, as the second one of the three brothers. Dharmendra is the elder brother and the youngest is played by Tariq, a nephew of the director. Neetu Singh makes a guest appearance in one of the songs, so does the later Bollywood heart-throb Aamir Khan. This is his first movie(well, the director was his uncle) and he appears as a child artist - the youngest of the three brothers. Yaadon ki Baraat is your quintessential Bollywood movie of the swinging seventies. If you have to give someone an introduction to the proverbial Hindi masala movie, you can pick this one sans hesitation.

Nov 24, 2007

Nee Varuvolam


Directed by Sibi Malayil, this is one of the first movies of Dileep as a hero. It has Divya Unni as a village belle where she looks totally out of place in long silk skirts and a made-up innocence which is hard not to notice. Dileep is okay, the story thrives on what a typical Malayalam movie should ooze in tons - grief and insurmountable obstacles only solved by suicides or sudden deaths.

Nov 21, 2007

Manorama Six Feet Under

A quirky black thriller from Navdeep Singh. The movie, Singh’s first directorial venture establishes him as one of the latest breed of talented film-makers who are crawling out of the Bollywood wood-work with their original and offbeat creations. Abhay Deol is a Deol of a different breed (after Sunny, Bobby, Esha and Papa Deol), this cousin Deol is the proverbial everyman yet handsome and talented.

The movie is set in a Rajasthani desert town, beat up by heat and overlooked by rain clouds for years. Nothing is going anywhere, life languidly flows with what is at its disposal, which is to say not much. This is not the Rajasthan of typical Bollywood movies or tourist brochures. The colorful village belles and the multi-tasking singer-dancer camel herders are noticeable by their absence, so is the thakur-thakurayin duo and the big haveli where it is always the wedding or the infighting season. This is the small town Rajasthan of everyday India – hot, parched, corrupt, Hinduized, politicized and middle-class.

Abhay Deol plays a PWD engineer who moonlights as an author, albeit a failed one at that. The novel which was supposed to make him a household name ‘Manorama’, sold just 200 copies, but it plays an important role in the movie. Gul Panag(a former Miss India) is Deol’s wife in the movie, a role which she carries off with natural panache. Vinay Pathak, ex-Channel V VJ has a very distinct role in the movie as the local police officer and Deol’s brother-in-law. Raima Sen plays her usual role as a guy-trap. Sarika and Kulbhushan Kharbanda plays other important roles.

What is interesting is that unlike in the usual Hindi movies, there is no easily readable black and white as such in this movie, it covers a lot of grey zones. Gold fishes are used to expound life’s big lessons since people keep on making the same mistakes you and me would make and are no good. Natural, darkly comic and a lot like real life.

Nov 12, 2007

Life in a Metro

Hindi movies are going places. I heard the songs of Life in a Metro perhaps six months ago and as expected of my tin-ear, promptly forgot about them, except for the title of the film – which was a bit different for a Hindi film. The songs came back from the dead, a couple of months ago when my more sensitive other half resurrected them from a dusty back-up drive, wrote a CD and made it our traveling companion. Have been hooked on the songs, composed by Pritam with lyrics by Sayeed Qadri, ever since.

Then came the quest to get hold of the movie and watch it. The mission was completed successfully this weekend. It is a slickly produced version of life in India’s primero uno metro, Bombay (or Mumbai as it is known now.) The film deals with the emotions and sentiments in the lives of its nine protagonists, all whose stories are intertwined in a way, although the characters themselves are not aware of these connections in the beginning.

What impresses me about this movie is its photography, music, editing and direction. What takes away some of the glory is its plot-lines, some of which looks like they may have been borrowed from some Hollywood originals. Shilpa Shetty, Kay Kay Menon, Konkona Sen Sharma, Sharman Joshi, Shiney Ahuja, Kangana Ranaut, Dharmendra, Nafisa Ali and Irfan Khan play the nine main characters who inhabit the four interconnected plots.

Although it might go against majority’s idea of how a movie should be made, I loved the inclusion of the band who composed the music for the film in the song scenes. It gave the songs a music video effect, not bad considering this is not the run-of-the-mill Bollywood movie. Life in a Metro is one of the movies which catalogs the evolution of Bollywood cinema. It might not be mind blowing, but it makes you aware what’s blowin’ in the wind and gives an idea where that wind might take you.

Nov 1, 2007

Babel


Alexandru Inarritu - the king of multiple story threads, all with connecting elements which will be revealed as the story progresses, is the director of this trans-continental cinematic odyseey. His second foray in to Hollywood as a full length feature director sees him paired with his favorite writer and literary twin, Guillermo Arriaga. All Arriaga's screenplays are written for the movies, has a one of a kind feel and is assured to give the audience the edge-of-the-seat anticipation with events that happen to real people. Inarritu and Arriaga had a fall-out after Babel was released and the director banned the writer from attending the film's screening at Cannes, that's another story.

The events in Babel take place in three continents and four nations - Morocco, the USA, Mexico and Japan. With an ensemble cast that includes Brad Pitt, Gael Garcia Bernal, Cate Blanchett, Adrianna Barraza(nominated for Oscar for her role in this movie) and Rinko Kikuchi, Babel got seven Oscar nominations in 2007, although only one materialized in to the coveted bronze statue - Best Original Score.

Like Inarritu's Amores Perros and 21 Grams - the other two his Death trilogy, Babel is driven forward by the tension experienced by the viewer just as it'd be if the viewer had faced the situation in real life. Unlike the other two, Babel is more topical. It touches more contemporary issues like the US governement's definition of terrorism and how it affects the rest of the world, illegal immigrants from across the Mexian border and shows a side of Morocco most Americans would never see. The two young Moroccan boys who plays goat-herds in one of the stories have shown exceptional acting skills, so has Adrianna Barrazza, the Mexican actress.

Although the film is peppered with brilliant pieces of direction, cinematography and acting, one that I'll mention here is the Rinko Kikuchi's drug induced evening at the park and discotheque. If you plan to stay away from hallucinatory drugs or has never taken any ever, this sequence is a must-see, it is the next best thing.

As the lyrics from Mike and the Mechanics song, 'The Living Years' goes, "You say you just dont see it, He says its perfect sense, You just cant get agreement, In this present tense, We all talk a different language, Talking in defence....." all of us are right in the light of our plights and many a time, all of us are wrong. That is the premise of Babel.