Popcorn, anyone?

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

(Hi)Jacked Up.....

PRICE: Rs.200

For a first effort, the soundtrack of Hijack isn't really all that bad. However, debuting music director duo Justin-Uday still have a long, long way to go.

The soundtrack begins with an easy on the ears track called "Aksar", rendered soulfully by KK. It's a medium-paced jazzy number which'll have you humming it for a while afterward. It would've been great, though, had the duo not fallen in love with their own composition--because there are not one, not two, but FOUR different versions of Aksar. One a remix, one an "unplugged" version (dunno what that means) and one a "sad version", along with the original itself. Frankly, apart from the original, the rest fail to impress (including the unplugged version which has been sung by Shaan).

Aksar's followed up by a peppy "Dekh Dekh" sung foot-tappingly by Sunidhi Chauhan. Simple lyrics, simple beats, it's definitely the one aimed at night clubs.

The next song is Koi Na Jaane, performed by KK and Shilpa Rao (of Jaane Tu...fame). It's a slow-ish number and, frankly, it's a disappointment. It's got a major Pritam feel to it and that's exactly what I'd call its bane. Come on guys, be a little more original, will you?

Now one of the best songs in this albums comes by way of the main theme of Hijack. It's fast, the lyrics "simply rock" (pun intended)and if the visuals live up to the track, you've got yourself a super-hit number. Way to go, guys, this one's killer.

The rest of the tracks are remixes of each other and are just plain unnecessary.

On the whole, not a bad debut by Justin-Uday. If the main theme's anything to go by, then their forte lies in rock and metal and should concentrate on it.

Quick Take: Download the main songs, don't waste your money on the CD.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Funny Money, Funnier Honies.....

Before I start this review, let's get a few things straight:

This movie, Money Hai Toh Honey Hai, stars Aftab Shivdasani, Upen Patel, Celina Jaitely, Kim Sharma, Sophie Choudhary, Hansika Motwani and a decidedly senile Prem Chopra (though it's got nothing to do with the character he essays). So, however crazy a movie-goer you might be, you cannot possibly have any expectations from this no-brainer.

However, it also stars Govinda, Manoj Bajpayee and Ravi Kishen (all of whom, time again, have proved they are actors par excellence). So I guess you've got yourselves a few redeeming factors after all.

Let's get down to it, then, shall we?

Prem Chopra plays an extremely successful industrialist by the name of Jaiswal. He's super-rich and super-crazy! When he realizes that he has no heir to his empire, he dreams up the names and numbers of six losers (Govinda, Patel, Jaitely, Hansika, Aftab and Manoj). In the process, he ends up annoying Ravi Kishen who's been his faithful manager for eons and was waiting for the day the reigns would be passed over to him. (How he dreams them up is another matter completely and one which nobody thought mattered enough to explain. Oh well).

Govinda plays a rich spoilt-brat of a kid to Javed Sheikh (who, after commendable performances in Om Shanti Om and Jannat, delivers a damp squib here), a harassed rich dad, and Ketki Dave, a soap-opera-obsessed mother. Ketki's entire life (and her household's) revolves around the sitcom "Meera" whose title character is (surprise, surprise), Hansika Motwani!

Aftab Shivdasani is down on his luck loser in life. He's an advertising guy who's "catchy" lines never seem to work. He also loses his girlfriend, Kim Sharma (awful), to a richer, more handsome fellow. Obviously, she's got her priorities right.

Celina Jaitely is a fashion designer (huh? She can't even dress herself) who can't earn a buck out of designs; all because of super-evil, richer, better-known designer Dolly (Archana Puran Singh--finally in a classy comic role. She's just perfect) who buys her designs at dirt-cheap prices (though Celina does get Dolly's stamp on her clothes. Frankly, I think this's is a classic case of 'beggars can't be choosers'. But who'm I to comment?).

Upen Patel is a model. . .for "Fauji" underwear. He's handsome, he's got the moves and he's got......Dolly? Patel plays a sexually-exploited aspiring model who's just dying for a deal with a soft-drink company. It must be mentioned that even though he CANNOT act, his specific sub-plot isn't all that bad though I guess most of the credit goes to Archana Puran Singh for adding a zing to the tale.

Manoj Bajpayee plays an anti-Murphy--a repeated failure when it comes to business, he refuses to give up and maintains an optimistic approach to life (constantly chanting that even though he lost a truckload of money, he gained invaluable experience). His role may not be extensive but, trust me, he's simply fabulous. What little this film has to offer, Bajpayee plays a huge rule in it.

Hansika Motwani. Ok, she is SO pathetic an actress, I find it hard to comment. I might be harsh, after all, she's just 16, but mincing words won't change things: she can't act. She plays "Meera" (mentioned above), a spoof of the surprisingly popular Parvati from Kyunkii Saas Bhii Kabhii Bhau Thii (give or take a few i's, a's or k's) and she's desperate to leave the boob tube and head for Bollywood.

A special mention of the Hansika angle, though. The directors have either forgotten that she's just 16 or they're a bunch of perverts. Whatever the case, they're exploiting the natural beauty of this lil' girl--cleavage enhancing/baring costumes, miles and miles of legs and a skin show Celina Jaitely would redden at (and if that isn't a yardstick to measure the titillation by, then nothing is), specially in that semi-belly dance number she does with Ganesh Acharya (who's really, really fat but a really, really good dancer).

The acting, eh? Well, here goes...

Being Govinda, you know he'll always be worth a watch, but it's sad that he's being made to act like a 20-year-old when he's clearly nearing the mid 40's. As long as he acts his age (like he did in Bhagam Bhaag) he's extraordinary.

Aftab's okay-ish, I guess. It's not a very extensive role but he does justice to it (though I still think he was way better in De Taali).

Upen Patel can't act. Let's just leave it at that. Oh, he's also got a beer-belly in this film. It looks quite strange compared to his bulging muscles.

Celina Jaitely is surprisingly restrained, a remarkable departure from her usual dare-to-bare act. She flaunt no skin and she delivers her dialogue well. Weird.

Manoj Bajpayee is AWESOME. No other word for him, he's simply a genius when it comes to acting. He fits like a rhythm to a rhyme when it comes to a role and this one's no exception. Outstanding. Take a bow, sir.

I've avoided mentioned Ravi Kishen till now but that's only because I feel he's a rare talent. He speaks English beautifully and his Hindi isn't as punctuated with the Bhojpuri you're familiar with (i.e, if you're familiar with who he is in the first place--he's a superstar of Bhojpuri cinema). How I wish he had a larger role to play. Along with Govinda, Manoj Bajpayee Kishen delivers a comically superb performance.

The cinematography is okay-ish, nothing to write home about though. Most of the clothes arouse your suspicion that the designer was either playing a practical joke on the actors or was love with the clearance sales at the local bazaar.

I'll never understand the reason a song's shoved into the middle of a movie for no apparent reason. I wonder what they write in their screenplays: [Camera pans white beach sand--cut to song--damsels waving their bodies seductively]?

The music is a complete let-down considering it's a Govinda film. However, if there's any one song worth watching, it's the one Esha Deol makes an appearance in. She's so scorchingly hot in it, it isn't funny. Watch it for the way Govinda moves and grooves, watch it for Esha Deol's perfect body. Simply wonderful.

So, finally, I go with a 2/5 for Ganesh Acharya's Money Hai Toh Honey Hai. All in all, it's an average affair. It isn't completely horrible but it isn't a great film, either.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Kross This Konnection.....

There're some films which make you think.

Kismet Konnection is one of them.

It makes you think what the bloody hell you're doing watching it....

It's not as if the story sucks or the actors fail, no way. It's just that this film's been caught in a tremendous time-warp. It's a 90's film being made in the 2000's. There's no possible way that it could work.

If you're thinking there'll be a few redeeming factors at least, you're in for a huge disappointment.

Again, I'll be clear when I say that there's nothing wrong with the film, per se. It's just the timing that's wrong. If Kismet Konnection had been made on the heels of Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman ('94) or even Yes Boss ('97), it would surely've been a super blockbuster. Of course, Shahid Kapur would still be a back-up dancer in Shiamak Davar's dancing troupe and Vidya Balan could well still've been a teacher, but, hey, what's Shah Rukh there for, eh?

Speaking of SRK, the Kingh Khan does a snazzy intro for the movie. I must clarify here that I'm a super-huge SRK fan and hearing his voice right in the beginning made me sit up and smile. That, of course, lasted for barely a minute, as you'll soon find out.

It's not surprising that nobody beyond India takes Bollywood seriously. I mean, sure, we love our whole song and dance routine, our Bollywood tracks are the only chartbusters we actually know or hear, and our music directors are legends in the world of music (some, like Panchamda and A.R. Rahman, deservedly so...among others, of course). But the whole fiasco begins when the damned POINT of a song becomes unclear.

Case in point: Shahid Kapur asks Vidya Balan out for coffee. Cut to the next scene: Shahid Kapur dancing a la Justin Timberlake in Aye Pappi. Though the song rocks (as does the choreography), you just can't help wondering whatever happened to the damned coffee....? (Did they drink the coffee and then come to the club? Were they talking about Irish Coffee to begin with? Did they order the coffee and forget about it? If so, why would they.....and so on and so forth).

And that's the case with every song. Vidya agrees to spend the day with Shahid after much pooh-ing and pouting (on Shahid's part, by the way. Weird, yes, I know) and the next thing you know, Shahid's crooning "Bakhuda" on the streets of some godly place in Canada. And then we question Xenophobia....

In the acting department, Shahid Kapur delivers a performance that can be described as "ok", at best. He isn't bad, I guess, but his Raj Malhotra in Kismet Konnection isn't a patch on the Aditya he portrayed in Jab We Met.

Which brings me to another point (before I review Vidya Balan).

Comparisons to Jab We Met will be inevitable. Justifiably so. I mean, why not? It's Shahid first release after JWM and the one that's being touted as a make or break movie for him (though I very much doubt this'll pull him down in anyway. The girls in some halls were busy whistling, letching, ooh-ing and aah-ing at him, I'm told). Oh, and he's supposed to be seeing Vidya Balan off-screen, too, along with Sania Mirza. (Quite a player, the guy. But that ain't any of my concern).

But just in case you do go and watch Kismet Konnection, I'd implore you to go without expectations. That way, you might even enjoy the movie because, all in all, it isn't horrible. If you don't compare Aditya to Raj and just go for the Shahid konnection (oops, connection, I meant), you'll see that the boy ain't half bad and that he'll go a long way if he chooses his movies better.

On to Vidya Balan.

She can't dress. She just can't. Whatever she may say in public ("I don't care what people say, I am who I am and I'm happy the way I dress", "It used to hurt, now it doesn't"), well, she should know that she's got NO style in her. It's very easy to blame the costume designer for failing to make her look good, and I'm sure that's what a majority of you'll do, but come on. Doesn't she have a say on what might look good on her and what'll make her look like an oversized racoon, escpecially in long-shots?

I have no idea WHY she hasn't lost weight yet, despite coming under fire time and again. She's someone who debuted with a truckload of promise and potential but so far, apart from the fluke Bhool Bhulaiyya (fluke in the sense that she got signed for it. As far as I rememember, she wasn't Priyadarshan's first choice. The film rocked), she hasn't lived up to either: she was horrible in Heyy Babyy, she was lacklustre in Lage Raho Munnabhai and she's plain old and fat in Kismet Konnection. Speak up, Vidya, it's in your DNA...

Of the supporting cast, Vishal Malhotra as Shahid's panicky best friend serves his purpose well, I guess. Only problem is, he isn't any different from how he acted in Kaal or Salaam-e-Ishq (surprise, surprise, he was a "best friend" in both of those, as well. At least he's carved a niche for himself). He was infinitely better in Kunal Deshmukh's rollercoaster hit Jannat because he had a meaty role and he had his heart in the right place. Here, he acts as if he's in desperate need of the money.

Vidya Balan's fiancee, whatever his name is, is a good example of bad acting. Enough said.

The old people at the nursing home Vidya runs are just plain irritating. Again, enough said.

Om Puri should be banned from cinema and be made to watch his own films from the past (starting with Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron). Maybe then he'll learn that he's become a washed-up-has-been. Unless he reinvents himself, and fast, nothing can be done to revive his sagging career (though Priyadarshan might do an RGV and swear to cast him till he becomes a hit again. In that case, Priyadarshan himself could do with some solitary confinement). I'm guessing we're gonna see a bit more of Om Puri make a fool of himself in the upcoming Singh Is Kinng, so I'm not very hopeful.

Boman Irani, surprisingly, is effective in the four or five scenes he was paid for. A marked improvement over the jackass of a role he had in Love Story 2050.

A note about director Aziz Mirza. He's good, he's still got his touch, but I just wish he'd get in touch with today's reality. I still respect him, I still adore him as the man who made Yes Boss, one of my all-time favourite movies. Sir, just stick to SRK, will you?

Whoever else was in the movie was either so bad that I'm not gonna mention them or so good that they don't deserve to be mentioned in relation to this movie.

I'm going with a 1/5 for Aziz Mirza's Kismet Konnection. It's not as bad as it's made out to be, so maybe it's worth a one-time watch...in a cheap theatre. . .with no air-conditioning. . .

Monday, July 21, 2008

Knight In Shining Armour.....

While my gut (yes, my GUT...in your face) tells me that nothing is perfect, my eyes and my mind (and my heart....quite romantic, yes) heartily/mindily/eye-ily (sorry for that) disagree.

That was a very weird introduction. It conveyed absolutely nothing (except, maybe, that I've gone mad).

Anyway, my madness aside, The Dark Knight is......well, it's perfect, ok? Go watch it. What the hell's the point of me telling you what's so great about it if I'm not allowed to include spoilers? Blah-blah-blah.

Fine, here goes, then.

I'm gonna start off with the obvious question: Does Heath Ledger Live Up To The Hype His Role And His Acting Created?

No. He didn't.

Surprised? Well, that's purely because he FAR EXCEEDED anything that anybody could've ever said about him. It's a pristine (though villanous) performance by a man who surely would've gone on to become one of the most respected actors the world has ever seen.

It's amazing how he's created so many character quirks for the Joker and even more amazing how he maintains ALL of them, right till the end of the film. However repulsive the sight of him licking his lips, however shaggy his eccentric mop of hair, however evil his saccharine voice, you just can't help worship the guy.

Kudos to the scriptwriters (the Nolan brothers) for creating one of the most remarkable characters in the history of cinema. Well, maybe most of the credit goes to the prolific Bob Kane for creating the Joker in the first place, but it's the Nolan bros who manage to bring out the best (or worst, I guess) in him for the first time.

With all due respect to Messr. Jack Nicholson, Heath Ledger has more than made his director proud. What Nicholson lacked, for no fault of his own, was a rock-solid script and, for fault of his own, a vision. This is where Heath Ledger scores (apart from in all other areas, actually).

There were media reports of him locking himself up in a sleazy hotel room for a month to prepare for the role. That's where he came up with the unique lip-smacking, the voice and the walk for his Joker. If you see him on screen, you'll know that this genius more than just did his homework: he created a work of art Picasso would be proud to claim as his own.

Heath Ledger lives on. It's a performance that'll draw you to the silver screen time and time again, no matter how well-versed you are with the movie.

Oh yeah, there's the Batman, too, isn't there? Haha, I almost forgot, how funny.

Christian Bale, eh? Well, the name sounds familiar (think American Psycho. More recently, think Batman Begins). See, Batman Begins was Bale's film. And he was outstanding. He was refreshing, he had the intelligence to change his voice everytime he adorned the Batsuit (unlike Blondie Clark Kent who, in a decision that still doesn't make any sense, decided to pull a string of his hair down to "disguise" himself. Micky Contractor, sir, you listening?) and he was just a helluva lot better than Chocolate Boy (Old Guy, actually) George Clooney or Holier-Than-Thou Val Kilmer. This guy could think.

He hasn't changed much. Save for his body which is fitter, tighter and a lot musclier than it was before. It suits him and, of course, Batman.

But it's not his fault that this flim doesn't really belong to him (I might've mentioned someone called Heath Ledger above....hell, he should posthumously buy the rights to this film, it's his all the way). True, he's still magnificent as the Caped Crusader but you just can't help waiting for him to clash with the Joker. And when they DO clash, you just can't help blocking Batman right outta your mind. Again, it's not Bale's fault. He's still awesome and he's still the best damned Batman ever. Maybe the next film'll have somebody less talented than him. Who knows? I hear they're planning to resurrect the Riddler and if that happens.......well, you all know Batman doesn't like mind games.

Of the supporting cast, Michael Cane emerges, yet again, as an extremely bankable actor. He exudes his natural wit and charm even in the role of Butler Royale, Alfred. To say that he supports Bruce Wayne/Batman on his extremely able shoulders, would be an insult to the man. He handles with care, yes, but without his advice, without his spontaneous dialogues, the film would've stagnated; Batman wouldn't've known what to do or how to move on (oh damn, that's a sort of spoiler, isn't it?). Yes, Michael Cane rocks.

Aaron Eckhart. Oh man, I had seriously no expectations from this guy. For one, he looks weird and two, he's just not that popular an actor, let's face it. BUT (finger raised, pointing in the air, fierce expression in eyes for effect), he's just too good. If ever a Harvey Dent exists in real life, Eckhart draws the most amazing parallels with him in reel life. He's simple awesome as the flambouyant yet restrained DA of Gotham City and he's so damned convincing, you just keep on wondering whether he's been a lawyer before. Rock on, Mr.Eckhart!

Morgan Freeman will, I guess, have to settle for his blink-and-you-miss role in the new Batman Series. While in Batman Begins he was there to explain and to create and to invent, in the Dark Knight, he's incredibly effective as the inventor with morals, Lucius Fox, specially in that scene where he "resigns". Amazing.

Gary Oldman, as always, is marvellous. Jim Gordon, the character he essays, is more of a hero than anybody knows and the Dark Knight is his mantle to prove it. The stage is yours, Mr.Oldman.

A special mention must be made of the kick-ass cinematography and the extremely, extremely, extremely detailed make-up. You know, as the film progresses, you start seeing the Joker's face-paint peeling off, cracking in places and you think the make-up guy's've goofed off.....but you soon realize that it's all part of the "plan" (contradictory to the Joker's theory, by the way) and the lack of attention to detail is, paradoxically, very detailed! Take a bow Mr.Cinematographer and Mr.Make-up Guys(s).

Hans Zimmer is GOD. The background score for the movie is so damned awesome, there's no way you won't feel a part of the movie when you watch it. And it's been used to amazingly. Mr.Zimmer, shimmer and shine, your music's divine.

So, yeah, that's it, I guess. Covers all aspects of the movie, I hope.

So go and watch it, I give it a full on 5/5 (the only time since the Shawshank Redemption).

My Time Is Now.....

You know how it is, right, when all you ever wanted comes true so fast, and so unexpectedly, that you've got no idea how to react?

I've become so numb.....

It's been that way for a while with me now. Initially, I told myself that this was just way too amazing to be real. You see, my reality's different. It's formatted, planned, almost clinical in the way it functions. So for me to've bagged this opportunity. to've clinched it (and to be holding it close to me, playing this one "close to the chest"), is disconcerting. Not in the negative way, no, but I'm suddenly in an alien world and, surprisingly, I've got a strong foothold here already! I'm not slipping or sliding or fumbling or mumbling....I'm just being me.

Apart from feeling settled here already, I'm surprised at how comfortable I am with everything. Much more comfortable, in fact, than I was previously. I know it'd be too cliched for me to say "I was born to do this, baby", but, well, what can I say? I really WAS born to do this.....baby.

Filmfare does that to you, you know.

It's an infectious environment. It's brimming with activity, all the time. There's not a single moment in the day that you'd find somebody lazing around, doing nothing, chilling (which is NOT to say that it's a slave-house). There'll always be people running around, discussing their latest stories, sipping chai/coffee, typing away to glory. It's nice and busy.

And you know what the best part about this is? This place is so steeped in films that even if you're Bollywood braindead, it won't really take you time to "fit in". Giant posters of Shah Rukh Khan, Aishwarya Rai, Sushmita Sen, and one very good-looking woman in black and white whose face for the life of me I can't recognize (it's agonzing, by the way, since she's freakily familiar) "decorate" the office. Hell, I bet even the HR people discuss Bollywood (and you KNOW that that's a yardstick to measure Bollywood's popularity by. Of course, it could also be put down to the fact that the HR people sit right where all the action is, but I'd rather stick with the first one).

It doesn't hurt that I'm called a "Multimedia Executive" over here. Sounds snazzy and very "corporate-y". I love it! "Hi, I'm Harsh and I'm Multimedia Executive at Filmfare". Nice, eh? I thought so :-D

Haven't really explored the place too much, though the 6th floor's where the action's at: The CANTEEN! Man, one ENTIRE floor devoted to the Glutton's Workshop. Talk about employee motivation and work incentive! I always knew that TOI treated it's employees really well, but this is amazing! Dirt cheap, awesome veg food, what more could you ask for (yes, I know you cynics out there'll come up with a billion lists but, please, keep them to yourselves, will you? Spoilsports).

So that's my first impression of Filmfare magazine--a world within a world.

And yes, inevitably, I now incorporate the title of this blog over here: My Time....(pause)....Is NOW.