22 Dec 2011

Its Coming Precioussss!: THE HOBBIT Movie!

The rumours they were spreading, yesss,spreading like verminssss, that they make a movie on the J.R.R Tolkien's 1937 book that started it all - The Hobbitssss..eh, The Hobbit.We were so worried, yesss, when they told us, those gossip mongerssss that it was not Peter Jackson directing it. But we have it confirmed to a certainty, yessss, a chain of events have led to Jackson being the director. Huraahs, we says!What more the movie trailer is out, preciousss!Yesssss...and we saw Peter Jacksonssss name in itsss, reallysss...

The Hobbit:An Unexpected Journey is set for a 14th December 2012 US release. For starters, The Hobbit was a fantasy tale aimed at children. But when Tolkien wrote the Lord of the Rings (published between 1953 & 1954), which took off from where the 1937 book left, he revisited The Hobbit, making changes in the chapter Riddles in the Dark, where the characters of Gollum and Bilbo Baggins face-off.

For those who do not know, Peter Jackson masterfully directing the three films on the Lord of the Rings Trilogy released between 2001 and 2003. Anyway here is the link to the IMDB page of the film: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012) 

Enjoy precioussss....

(In no particular order) Fili, Kili, Oin, Gloin, Thorin Oakenshield, Dwalin, Balin, Bifur, Bofur, Bombur, Dori, Nori, and Ori

20 Dec 2011

More Awaited Hollywood Movies

Guy Ritchie's follow up to the zany 2009 Sherlock Holmes featuring Robert Downey JR and Jude Law will have Holmes facing his most deadly opponent - Professor Moriarty. Although Ritchie diverts from the Arthur Conan Doyle depiction of the detective in the first movie, it made for a satisfactory if not a classic adventure and mind game.

Stieg Larsson, an author and journalist left three unpublished books behind, when he died in 2004, aged 50. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, the first of the series, is now a film. Daniel Craig stars as a journalist and Rooney Mara as the unconventional young girl detective. Our interest: David Fincher's first release as director, post The Social Network (2010) 

Cameron Crowe, the director of Jerry Maguire (1996) and Almost Famous (2000) is back with a film inspired by a true story, the book of the same name on his experience was written by Bejamin Mee

The Bosnian war that took place between 1992 and 1995 is the background to this movie. The 'awaited' neon sign concerns Angelina Jolie debut as director. 

Still Awaited: Martin Scorsese's HUGO in 3D

After years of gritty movie making with characters who live on the edge and consequently mouth four letter swear words (Indian swear words were also showcased in The Departed!), Director Martin Scorsese, of all people, has ended up making a children's film. Already playing in US and UK, Hugo is a 3D movie that is to be looked forward to by Indian audiences.Yes, we have heard of the acclaim of the glittering use of 3D elements, but we wait until we watch the film.  

12 Dec 2011


While we do not yet know if the eight-minute preview of Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight Rises is playing in Indian theaters before the latest Mission Impossible movie, we do know that the trilogy culmination is set some time in July 2012. The initial posters signalling the end of this series are out now. Have a look.

1 Dec 2011

A journalist explains - Why This Kolaveri Di?

Amidst all the hype and extensive exposure to that song from the upcoming Tamil movie 3 - Why This Kolaveri Di, I am still getting used to the groove and lyrics.

What I would like to share today is an article written by an Indian Express journalist, published as it was on November 29, 2011 on the editorial page. The writing is incandescent with knowledge and exudes a love for music. It deserves to be read more widely. So with this blog as the medium, here is a link to the article:
THE KILLER LOVE SONG by Nandini Nair     

30 Nov 2011

Leaving Home: The Indian Ocean Story

 On April 2nd 2010, the Indian documentary world saw a first in a rare theatrical release of  LEAVING HOME: The Life and Music of Indian Ocean. The film stayed for a week at select screens, and it was a treat to view it on 70mm. Asheem Chakraborty, one of the four members of the original line up had passed away by the time of the film's release. The film is dedicated to his memory.

Also, the film traces with simple, endearing detail the band members, the ones who left the band midway and regretted it, the woman who left soon, the coming of Amit Kilam, and of Kandisa, the album that turned things around. Here is the link of the review written then: LEAVING HOME  

27 Nov 2011

Music Review: THE DIRTY PICTURE: Breezy Filmy Music of the Flesh

Music - Vishal-Shekhar / Lyrics - Rajat Aroraa
The impressive Vishal-Shekhar soundtrack in an early Milan Luthria film Taxi No. 9211 (2006) also had a rocking Bappi Lahiri solo Mumbai nagariya. Five years later, the evergreen Bappi gets a very 80’s filled duet with an appropriately naughty and spunky Shreya Ghoshal. Ooh la la is a treat for its provocative noises and sparsely (well) used Bappi inspired disco riffs. The audio-visual Himmatwala (1983) reference is also not overdone.

Ishq sufiana is another addition to the Sufi fever; thankfully it is a likable clean solo, in two versions here. Kamal Khan and Sunidhi Chauhan do the honours, the male vocals suit the content more, considering the lyrics are duplicated. Though Chauhan does get a tune twist in the antaras, the repetition somewhat dilutes it.
Back to the provocative, skin-show world, Twinkle twinkle has a ‘silky tumka’, references to ‘Jack & Jill’, ‘Humpty ghayal huva, Dumty pagal huva’ and other nursery rhymes. Rajat Aroraa’s cheeky lyrics are apt stuff. Rana Mazumdar mimicking R.D. Burman to precision (almost) is charmingly, calculated retro. The accordion conveys the restlessness to good effect; the three minute take saves it. Shreya Ghoshal impresses again.
The Disco 82 referenced Honeymoon ki raat is again a toned-down provocative piece. Obviously these are songs for the ‘films within the film’ to showcase the flesh show. Though you may not hum along, there is breeziness here. Sunidhi Chauhan fits right in. 
No flinching stuff,  deliberate sultry lyrics and skilful use of the eighties ‘soundscape’ make for a leisurely, fun listen in something that is plesantly kinky. Tickling myself -Ishq Sufiana stands out like Nirupa Roy* among a horde of vamps. 
* For those who came in late, Nirupa Roy played the Hero’s ideal, pure mother in countless Hindi movies of the 1970’s and 1980’s.

24 Nov 2011

Music Review: DESI BOYZ: Pritam Returns to Familiar Territory

Music: Pritam / Lyrics : Irshad Kamil, Amitabh Bhattacharya & Kumaar
Post the clean, soulful Mausam soundtrack, Pritam returns to give filmy marketable tunes for Rohit Dhawan's debut Desi Boyz, but the overall effect is been there, done that territory.  

We go song by song, Make some noise has a groovy Punjabi rhythm, watch out singularly for the guitar licks that stand out here. The lyrics by Kumaar hovers between passable and average, sample kainde hai Lady Gaga hai fan hamari, usse kaho katte mil ja zara. 

The album's pick is Subah hone na de, a beautiful tune that fits in to the DJ groove, except for the some good, some really bad lyrics. The obscene boom, boom, shot, shot, marage saari raat fadeout almost kills it (Kumaar again). Mika is all attitude and Shefali Alvaris has that rare soft, seductive dance floor tone. As for the Humko kehte superman, ON karlo handy cam start, we are wondering what's that about.

Jhak maar ke returns to the Punjabi 'balle balle' circle, Pritam frequenter Neeraj Shridhar is computer treated to effects, while Hashdeep Kaur sounds fresh. Again, the main theme guitar stands out in the dhol-filled number. Catchy if not deep. Irshad Kamil's lyrics are OK here.

Allah maaf kare stings back to the pseudo-filmy Sufi space, Sonu Niigaam and Shilpa Rao are spot on here. The effects mitigate the definite catch that the song has, so we are left without any saving grace, again Kamil has compromised words to be filmy.

It's pleasant to hear Shaan again, flowing and neat, in Let it be, a soft 'persuading the girl back' stuff. The most simplistic song of the soundtrack, Amitabh Bhattacharya's sole lyric contribution for the album is effective. The remixes, we miss as usual.

23 Nov 2011

NH7 2011 Day 3: Indian Ocean & Some Farewell Confetti

20th November 2011, Sunday
Arrive to catch the tail ends of the jumpy Swarathma act, as they spruce up the darkening evening. Then sample the Dub Station stage where a reggae punk band is insanely loud, for some reason. As for getting used to Bhayanak Maut’s heavy metal, loud snarl act at the Bacardi stage - that would be for the time when we go a little deaf from their continued ear hammering. If that is music, it must be strictly for those looking for alternatives for the punching bag or for those seeking catharsis in one prolonged spell.   
So we are back at the Dewarists stage, which is, by the way, a whisky brand (Dewar’s), the Dewarists definition on the TV series is more of a brand creation then. We return midway Zero, a very jazz inspired act that had a reunion routine in NH7 2010, when they were supposed to be officially disbanded. They are good. This is followed by Papon and the East India Company, who apart from their Assame folk-electro, get through a pro-drug song Banao Banao, the same that featured in this year’s Hindi film Soundtrack.
“India’s biggest band,” may be an apt title for Indian Ocean, ‘sublime’ suits them better. Getting used to Himanshu Joshi’s vocals on Bandeh and Kandisa is an adjustment, so used as we are to the late Asheem Chakraborty’s baritone in the same spaces. If comparisons are unfair, Joshi does dazzle in the work done with the new set up (Now included in the double CD album - 16/330 Khajoor Road). Tuheen Chakravarty on the tabla is a confident, assured artist as Ma Rewa and an instrumental piece is spectacularly played out.
As for the farewell, at the All Stars stage, English pop covers are blended well with Indian sounds. The end more frenzy than music, but that much deviation is forgiven, when NH7 is probably the only large scale festival for alternate music in a Hindi film music doused world.

It was a well arranged festival minus hassles, some expensive food, tattoos, merchandise, mostly guitar-lead acts, some rare soft soothing stuff, and speakers - sans a sensible volume control.  It also had us, a crowd that knew their bands, and a section among them who were eager to dance to everything.   

20 Nov 2011

NH7 2011 Day 2: Postive Signs....

The evening of 19th November, 2011 

The second edition of NH7 is here. Bacardi and Weekender going with the tag. Koregaon Park was a more friendly venue in 2010. Venues at different places added to the exclusivity at KP. They do distance the different stages at the sole open spaces at Laxmi Lawns, Magarpatta. It has the ambiance of a village fair, with the proceedings on one stage, trickling to another venue, betwixt the music breaks. Drinks flow here, the food coupon system is such that you are compelled to buy a minimum one of Rs 100. 

Among the many guitar and drum heavy bands, the evening belonged to Advaita's classical fusion, Soulmate's rock-heavy guitar licks and vocals (All the way from Shillong, worth it), The Raghu Dixit Project's brief but impressive crowd-hopping act and lastly a glimpse in to Imogen Heap's genius, even if her act was decent, cut short, the 10 pm deadline been the dampener. 

15 Nov 2011

Movie Review: THE SECRET OF THE UNICORN: Tintin in all its Herge spirit!

All previous TV adaptations have failed to capture the essence of Herge’s classic Tintin comics. Beneath the exaggerated nature of adventure, danger, humour and a disbelief that so comfortably fits to the comic series, it’s the sheer drawing, vivid colours and expressions in still art that Tintin readers are magnet-attracted to.
Happily, Steven Spielberg’s inventiveness and the integration of the performance capture technology makes for an unforgettable 3D experience that I would like to return to again and again. Three books are skilfully merged here for a racy screenplay. The incredulity of the comic action sequences comes alive in animation,  the story an able prop to Tintin’s (Jamie Bell) relentless search for the truth, Snowy’s smart hero act (only animation could make it work) and Captain Haddock’s (Andy Serkis, a riot) drunken stupor. From the main thread, it is the several deft moments that stand out. The seaplane sequence, Bianca Castafore’s glass shattering tone, Haddock’s mad storytelling and the eye-popping scroll chase, among many others are just sheer joy and entertainment.
The adventures of Tintin: The secret of the unicorn is recommended for all movie lovers, and Tintin fans – you just can’t miss this 3D candy. Rejoice! They finally got it right. Bring on the next one soon please Mr. Spielberg.

Movie Review: ROCKSTAR: Disjointed and Contrived

All movies directed by Imtiaz Ali  so far have emitted - a love for travel, endearing girl-boy chit chat and love stories with adventures. These entertaining tales have always ended with the two main protagonists realizing that they are meant for each other. As much as we have known the inevitable conclusion, the journey to the end credits has been the punch in Ali’s movies. Such is certainly not the case with Rockstar.

Janardhan Jakad (Ranbir Kapoor, excellent) is a wannabe rock star; he stares at Jim Morrison posters and munches samosas at the college canteen wondering why he isn’t a star yet. A buffoon with talent, ridiculed by his mates, his only sincere friend is the college professor who proclaims, “To be a singer, first get a broken heart.” Thus JJ proposes to the college siren Heer (Nargis Fakhri, rusty debut), backtracks, and then is befriended by the girl. Why? Heer is to be marry in two months and move to Prague. She needs a friend to have some daring adventures before that. Like this year’s My Brother Ki Dulhan, in the process, the bride falls for JJ. Finding him blissfully unaware of any passion, she follows the norms. These opening parts are well-etched. 

The main spoilsport here are the inexplicable back and forth edit cuts, which stem the flow all through, we see JJ making it big in the music world. In yet another manufactured part, he finds himself in Prague, deep in love with Heer, who frolics about with the star, with her husband nowhere to be seen. They kiss and he comes back for more. JJ can’t resist her, obsessed, he stalks her no end, and the girl wants him out of her safe marriage. For no reason now, the singer, returns home, lashes out at scampering TV journalists, gets angry and angrier. The rest of the story descends to unbelievable mode.  A déjà vu of this year’s nerve-wracking Mausam hovers. Only Ranbir’s performance and the soundtrack keeps us till the end credits roll.

To be fair, there is promise in the cut pieces, in the love story, but the amalgamation of a rockstar's musical journey to the usual Ali fare has no plot to support it. Rahman’s sometimes magical, sometimes decent soundtrack suffers in the process ending up as music video props. Watchable for Ranbir’s inspired, energetic act, some of the director's passing flair and the stand out song - Kun faya kun. This journey took some getting through.

26 Oct 2011

Movie Review: RA.ONE: Confused Sheep in Sci-Fi Clothing

Ra. One shows that there was the potential and the budget to make an entertaining and convincing science fiction movie. Only that, the movie holds on too tight to tried and tested Hindi film emotions. Shekhar Subramanium (Shah Rukh Khan, good act) is a bumbling, on the face South Indian (SI!), part of a London-based computer gaming company, husband to Sonia (Kareena Kapoor, OK) and father to his constantly embarrassed young son - a very conveniently placed tech whiz and game crazy Prateek (Armaan Verma, confident). In order to please his son, the curd rice with noodles eating Shekhar designs a game where the antagonist is more powerful than the hero.

As the sci-fi tale goes, the game villain Ra.One (Arjun Rampal impressive in a criminally brief part) becomes a self-sustaining program to such a level that it enters the real world to finish the game that Prateek started, leading to Shekhar's death. The only filmy way to end the game is by resurrecting G.One (Shah Rukh again), the game hero. There is more mumbo-jumbo that this review will not go to, for the proceedings are all lukewarm, even though the special effects sequences are individually impressive.

The culprit again is the safe Hindi film corner of high lathered emotion, as G.One's deliberate likeness to Shekhar is exploited for teary-eyed cry baby emotion that stalls the proceedings all through the second half, that the final showdown is a whimper. Read Kaho na pyar hai (2001) rehashed and several other template-adhering films. The Rajnikanth sequence is a cold, redundant tribute. The Vishal-Shekhar music is decent, not a saving grace. If not for the special effects, we say, miss this one.

Memorable moments?
Ah, aaah, aah?

9 Oct 2011

Music Review: ROCKSTAR: Magic Sparkles, Fades and Sparkles Again

Music AR Rahman / Lyrics Irshad Kamil
AR Rahman is forgiven his last lukewarm original Hindi film soundtrack Jhoota Hi Sahi (2010), for the long-awaited 14-tracklist long Rockstar, which is far from disappointing. The songs are still growing their gentle creepers as we write. Yes, there is some testing stuff too.
Mohit Chauhan gets a windfall of nine songs, solos and otherwise, that he grabs with both hands. A film musical requiring a certain vocal identity for the protagonist must have prompted the Chauhan largesse, considering Udit Narayan got a bountiful from Rahman a decade ago for Lagaan (2001). The thing about Rahman, that within the limitations that film music imposes, his creatively-gifted melodies and technical robustness, ensures something new. Evidence of the freshness here too.  
Phir se ud chala is a beautiful Irshad Kamil tribute to all the dreamers and travellers, as Chauhan goes - mitti jaise sapne ye, girta bhi palkon se, jado phir aa jate hai…. The turns of the song as unknown bends of a fast flowing river, moving from a guitar background to a techno fade out, riveting stuff. Jo bhi main is another deep poetic Kamil, set a live Chauhan act, soft and spiralling array of guitar, underplayed percussion and wordplay.
Rahman gave evidence of his Punjabi-theme dexterity first in Taal (1999), and he is clearly enjoying himself in Katiya karun, where Harshdeep Kaur is a perfect female lead, if you have heard her in similar Bulley Shah shades, at the recently concluded MTV Coke Studio. Although the main refrain of Kun faya kun can be heard fleeting in the antara of Mujhe Rang De - Thakshak (1999), no complaints, and the effect is stunning in atmospherics, you can almost smell incense here. Sample the simple harmonium-tabla magic with Javed Ali, Rahman and Chauhan as Kamil’s lyrics add lustre. All comes together in harmony, an experience.Kamil’s words deserve a front cover credit that he doesn’t get. 
Sheher mein plays as a studio recording as Chauhan mock-improvises to a straight-forward Karthik rendition of deliberate pop lyrics. A peppy number, embedded as it seems to the film plot. Hawaa hawaa will take getting used to, as a Spanish tango stage inspired song, again Chauhan omnipresent.
The off-key stuff coming up. Aur ho goes down the dark alley of destruction, a modern Devdas take, the Spanish influence hovering in the background. Has not got through yet, a weak link. Dichotomy of fame has some technically muffled shehnai and sparks of Rahman’s album experiment Connections (2009). Pass through stuff. Tango for Taj is an instrumental with Spanish hues reappearing with harmonica and piano, and patches of Hawaa hawaa. Kavita Subramaniam makes a comeback in Tum ko, reminiscent of her part in Tu hi re Bombay (1995). Still to grow on us, has a hint of spark.  
After the low-intensity moments, magic makes a re-entry with Nadaan parindey, Rahman and Chauhan gel well in this stage-set situation, a call for home-coming, Rahman gets the band infusion right here, knowing where cymbals have to shiver and the guitar histrionics blaze. Tum ho has the sound, situation, singer and déjà vu of Pritam’s Tum se hi – Jab We Met (2007). Decent, we expected better. In contrast, Sadaa haq is a sure winner, original, ‘anthemic’ and epic as Rahman does best, Kamil is in his element here as – kyun sach ka sabak sikae, jab sach sun bhi na paaye, sach koi bole toh tuh, niyam kanoon batae! The Ranbir Kapoor monologue to conclude is a brief filler. So, of the most good, some bad Rahman spread, we will applaud and tinker with doubt on some.
Phir se ud chala, Jo bhi main, Katiya karun, Kun faya kun, Sheher mein, Nadaan Parinde and Saada haq, are all - shut yourself in a dark room and listen in stuff.

30 Sep 2011

Music Review: Damadamm: Some Himesh Spark, Redundancies Abound

Music: Himesh Reshammiya / Lyrics: Sameer and Shabbir Ahmed
Should we be running for cover, now that the latest Himesh Reshammiya-starring soundtrack is out? We are referring to the string of movies since Aap Kaa Suroor – The Moviee (2007) that have had Himesh in dual roles of screen hero and music composer. He also insists to stubbornly sing the male vocals all through, and some really insipid lyric-writing have made mockery of many a song.
Ta...ta...ta...ta…Tandoori nights, tandoori nights…from Karzzzz (2008), anyone?
Failure has, as music history is witness, attracted ample criticism and Himesh has got the brickbats. We say Himesh is gifted, if misdirected by ambition, as a composer. We will do the best Himesh compositions sometime soon here. Until then, let’s sample the Damadamm soundtrack. 
The title song Damadamm takes its mukhda reference from the traditional Sufi song and twists it well for a competent take. The additional singers - Punnu Brar, Palak Muchhal, Shabab Sabri, Alam Gir Khan, Sabina Shaikh, Vineet Singh and Rubina Shaikh, apart from Himesh add colour to the track. Certainly an above average song, a little slowing down of the pace could have added punch.
Hum Tum is surprisingly soft soothing stuff minus the Himesh histrionics; still would Mohit Chauhan have rendered it better, or a Sonu Nigam or Shaan? Himesh does well though; there is soul there, alright. Soft effective guitar riffs, melancholic and nostalgic. The lyrics are a lift – Zindagi hai badi ajnabi / jaan sakhe isko na hum kabhi / unkahi, unsuni, unbhuji…The stand out song of the soundtrack.    
Aaja Ve is standard Himesh fare with the Aap Ka Suroor hangover and in the Hum Tum space,  a redundancy in both feel, concept and template-stamped Punjabi lyrics – going lutiyave, janiya, jiya naiyo lagtave, dil lutiyave…etc. Been there, done that thing.      
Bhool Jaun uncomfortably changes its mood of the lyrics which ranges from forgetting a person to remembering her, to unfinished desires, with shutters in its flow. Sachin Gupta aids Himesh in the vocals; the effect in totality is haphazard.  
I need my space is an off-putter despite the ‘live life’ lyrics and Queen ‘I want to break free’ reference. Himesh’s vocals are the culprit here, appropriate modulation is lacking and again we are making a list of who could have rendered it better. Dil jo kahe vahi karna hai bondishon mein nahi marna hai maine socha hai, he goes in one breath, followed by jeena hai har mausam…/ I need my space, I want my freedom. Done in by misguided execution. Add it to the mock list please. Madhushala is another off-putter in composition and rendering, both. Himesh is all irritatingly nasal, he still can make intermediate catchy stuff, the retro female scatter is perky, but the song falls flat.  
Mango starts promisingly as a female voice over goes - ‘philosophical research on mangoes, incorporating in it romance, humour and fun.’ Out of the box? Missing someone like mangoes? The female vocals going ‘Mangoes, tarara…parara, I am your Mango (!!?)’ kills it and so does – Tere intezar mein …my time goes…mangoes. A misplaced experiment. Needed a lyrical elevation, which is nowhere to be seen. Mock list grows.
Tere Bina sticks to the nostalgia mood, yet again, there is no denying the punch,. .Par ke bina parinda jaise/ sur ke bina sazinda jaise / ghar ke bina, bashinda jaise/ main yahan, tere bagair… is cool stuff of which we already have sufficient dose of in the soundtrack. It still has the Himesh-vocal soft zing. A word for the intelligent slow drum percussion. A saving grace.
Umrao Jaan is familiar territory with Himesh going nasal with a vengeance. The croaky female refrain of ‘No touching, only seeing’ could have been subdued in this catchy song. Why doesn’t Himesh get another male vocalist, there are so many out there. Understandably, he lip-synchs the same in the film, still why not try alternatives?
Sadhna Sargam is good company to Himesh in the hummable, brief, under three-minute Yuh toh Mera Dil. Some wonderful interplay of guitar at the blooming of love. Impressive soft touch, proving Himesh does well with minimum add-on's than the bang bang Punjabi dhol beats. Remixes, we elude again. Overall, a lot of ‘would have been better moments’ in a soundtrack largely average with some pleasant soft streaks.
Rewind Potentials: 1.Hum Tum, 2.Yuh to mera dil and 3.Umrao Jaan.

27 Sep 2011

Movie Review: MAUSAM: No Smoke, No Fire

Sometime in 1992, Harry (Shahid Kapoor) or Harinder is awaiting a life-changing letter in his remote Punjab village. Apart from idling with his village friends, borrowing cars to race with trains, and having an empty purse, Harry falls for the new Kashmiri girl Aayat (Sonam Kapoor) at the bakery at first sight. Soon, his bicycle chain starts slipping off near the girl's abode. Hand-written notes are exchanged quietly, dipped in water as evidence disposal, and finally, caught in a downpour, the girl promises to tell him," Tomorrow." Only, the girl has left the village in haste with her family, as Harry hauntingly looks at a disappearing train. These initial parts of the movie are all charm and simplicity.

Cut to, suddenly, 1999, Scotland. Huh? Aayat at the Royal Academy of Dance. Harry is a moustached pilot visiting on a pilot exchange program. The lovers meet and just can't act like lovers. In one jarring scene, in which, we are subjected to a telepathic conversation, to another where a cigarrate lighter is excuse for a forced retro take on the classic Hum Dono song Abhi na jao... In rising exasperation of the story's disregard for time lines and redundancies, Harry misses a marriage-possible meeting because he is summoned for the Kargil war. He doesn't inform Aayat for dramatic effect rather than logic. Thus is the period until INTERMISSION survived.

Part two. Harry calls up Aayat, but the forced turn of circumstances, wouldn't let the lovers communicate. Aayat is a travel freak now, moving from Scotland to Punjab to Ahmedabad to Scotland and back again to Ahmedabad with a sore face. The air force objected bombing scene is a sitting duck. Like the hand video games of the nineties. By the time Harry's left arm is paralysed, I have to leave the theatre. I never thought I would walk out of a cinema theatre midway, ever. It is easier if you are at Westend. Not so, when you are sinking in thousand-buck tickets, 100-buck pop corns, and 50-buck coffee. Of course, you don't get a movie as flawed each time. Only a bad movie made with confidence, nowadays, and an occasional gem.

Mausam is slayed by a first-time director's ambition, that the story had to cover so many geographical settings and event references. That every historical event from 1992 to present had to adversely affect the lovers' lives is just too sad to be true. That James Cameron kept it spectacularly simple in Titanic (1997) - A ship, two lovers and an iceberg. Also the absence, of any hint of fire and passion between Shahid and Sonam only adds to the misery.

If all the venom is well-deserved, Pankaj Kapur (An amazing actor, no doubt, Director? Ahhh?), ironically, does have the promise of telling a good, simple tale. He shows his stuff especially in the village scenes. We say, try again. Something simpler please.

Music stays
Pritam's music and Irshad Kamil's lyrics are a saving grace, an odd contrast to the cracked proceedings. Some arresting moments when the Hans Raj Hans rendered Ik tu hi tu hi tu hits the screen.     

17 Sep 2011

Music Review: RA.ONE:Most Good, Little Bad

Music: Vishal-Shekhar / Lyrics: Panchi Jalonvi,Vishal, Nirangen Iyengar and Kumaar
The much-awaited Vishal-Shekhar soundtrack is here and already we are rocking to the priceless pop-irrelevancy of the Akon-Hansika Iyer Chammak Chalo rendition. While Akon is clearly enjoying himself with the Hinglish parts and additional harmonies, the Tamil part is at most a strange addition before Hansika packs a punch with a classical antara-ending touch. Cool fresh stuff. The Akon solo of the same, credited as an ‘international’ version is good, if not as enjoyable as the duet. In contrast, the other Akon song Criminal is a meandering beat song with Shruti Pathak and Vishal tagging along, the lyrics have little meaning here. You may like its pacing on repeated listens. 

The singer’s dream song in the album is Dildaara as Shafqat Amanat Ali’s lead vocals weave magic in to a demanding loop all through. The chorus parts, very English boy band inspired work, gels well here - a standout. The VS favourite Sukwinder Singh gets, as a welcome change, an experimented lounge number, Jiya Mora Ghabraaye. It may not be instantly catchy, well, we may need a dance floor to swing to this one. A new road taken here, thumbs up for that.

The RD Burman influence is all spread over the Vishal mimic-retro take in Raftaarien, the reference been the 1977 RD-Gulzar Dhanno ki aankhon mein from Kitaab. Again, the boy band tinge returns to Right by your side, this one’s separate Hindi-English stuff works well with the lyrics blending much better than Criminal. The modern Krishna-Radha version finds spunk in the Nandini Shrikar execution of Bhare Naina. Another potential gem.

The remixes? Please, we take them as redundancies for the weekend disco. At least three potential rewind-materials. A sturdy album that could have been a classic in the absence of the techno-noise, but a satisfying effort considering the limitations of the popular Hindi cinema framework.

Music Review: MAUSAM: A Touch of Soul

Music: Pritam / Lyrics: Irshad Kamil 
We would like to start with applause for two separate mesmerizing takes by Shahid Mallya and Rahat Fateh Ali Khan on Rabba main to mar gaya oy. The prolific and plagiarism-tagged Pritam last composed something as soft and original in the 2007 films Jab We Met (Tum se hi, tum se hi) and Life in a Metro (In dino dil mera). The flavour is largely Punjabi, except for a sole whirling Karsan Sagathia Gujarat-garba composition Aag lage us aag ko. A glowing addition to the album.

The other dual version, the sufi-soul Ik tu hi tu hi tu hi has maximum effect in the Wadali Brothers version, the male chorus of the refrain dilute the beautiful Hans Raj Hans version a little. Some rare moments of depth in this Hindi soundtrack decade are embedded in this one song.

The Mika attitude is again at its guttural peak with Sajh dajh ke, the Nagada (Jab We Met)  déjà vu is fleeting, the story-telling of Kamil shines through here, where an NRI groom is teasingly accused of discarding everything of his rural life, except the colourful attire and style. The vocal selection is spot on to the demands, as we see Rashid Khan go full stretch on the part-ghazal Poore se zara sa kam hai, (filled with calculated percussion add-ons) and pull it off with ease. The Tochi Raina rendered Mallo Malli is a surprise, a dance number with a medium pace, the lyrical ode to love again. Stud of the pack. The remixes are passe for us. 

While Ram Sampath’s Delhi Belly stood out for variety, daredevilry and cheeky stuff, Pritam’s Mausam is a good foil to end up as one of the best soundtracks in the calendar year.        

16 Sep 2011

Movie Review: BOL: Heart-rending despite hiccups

Even as a woman is condemned to be hanged in Pakistan, her last wish is to be allowed to tell her story to the world from the gallows. Even as newspaper reporters and the TV media collect below her, a tale is told.

Somewhere in bustling Lahore, a Hakim (Manzar Sehbai) in want of a son forces his wife to give birth to seven daughters. After the eighth-born boy is discovered to be a hermaphrodite, the eldest daughter Zainub (Humaima Malik) decides that enough is enough, and has a vasectomy done on the mother. The tyrannical father, feeding the family on a dwindling income, is enraged at the turn of events. The fiery venom from the father’s mouth finds its answers in only Zainub, even as the Hakim interprets religion to suit his interests. The women are not allowed to leave the house, nor are they allowed to study. The neighbours try to secretly help, with the son allowed to venture out to earn from his passion for drawing, and tragedy follows. Repression has never done anyone any good.

Pakistani Director Shoaib Mansoor’s last release, the sincere Khuda Ke Liye (2007) had a genuine issue, and more so, does Bol. The proceedings could have had a tighter screenplay at instances, and there a few over-the-top moments, the effect in totality is devastating to a degree. The consequences of suppressing human freedom, the caged lives of woman, and the dreariness of a compromise-filled life is all brought to the surface. A must watch.

Clean Slate
Note has to be made of the performances, all up to the mark, with the famous singer Atif Aslam making it to the supporting cast. Again, as in Khuda Ke Liye, the soundtrack is clean and heart-felt, Indian composers can certainly learn the importance of not mashing in western elements for the sake of sounding cool. The standouts and these are not the only ones – two Atif-Hadiqa duets Hona tha pyar and Kaho aaj bol do.

15 Sep 2011

Movie Review: Mere Brother ki Dulhan: Bearable Humour

The commercial Hindi film romcom (romantic comedy) in the last two years, by default, has wealthy characters, thus sweeping aside with any monetary hurdles in the screenplay. London-based Luv (Ali Zafar) calls off a five-year relationship with his girlfriend, following an altercation. Fifteen minutes in to ‘singledom’ he calls up his younger sibling Kush (Imran Khan) in India, asking him to look for a suitable bride for an impromptu marriage.

Post the mildly amusing reference-filled title song, and rushing through an predictable unsuitable band of prospective brides (stupid, foolish and crazy in typical Hindi film treatment), the right match is finally found in Delhi. Only, the London-born Dimple (Katrina Kaif) is a former college mate of Kush, and as he remembers - rebellious, a beedi-smoker and alcohol 'binger'. None of this is revealed to the parents, as after a ten minute provocative (the movie’s best, original moments) video chat, Luv and Dimple assent to the wedding.

Even as both parties collect at Delhi for the engagement, Kush accompanies Dimple to fulfill her desire to live life to the fullest before the D-day. Even as the engagement takes place, Kush realizes that he is in love with Dimple. Inevitably, he declares his love to Dimple who, after a thundering slap, assents. The plot that Kush, his friends and Dimple hatch to turn the tables on the marriage forms the rest of the movie.

All sugar candy in the location, attire and scenery, the film picks up after a tepid laugh-miserly half-hour, but only just. The promised jokes come in a trickle; all the tribute paid to various Hindi films is sadly devoid of any wickedness. Thankfully, the story follows a linear path that keeps us interested. Imran Khan puts in a sincere performance. Katrina shows that if she is given a breezy, cheerful role minus complications, with an excuse to use her accented Hindi, she can act too. The screenplay overshadows Ali Zafar’s fresh performance, we like it whenever he makes it to the screen. The supporting cast are all good, especially Kush’s friend. Dimple’s mentally challenged brother is a stereotype best avoided. A bearable one-time watch.

Sohail Sen’s soundtrack is standard Yashraj fare, all seen and done, from Sufi-wannabe songs like Dhunki (Neha Bhasin rocks, Katrina doesn’t emote as well) and Isq risk ( featuring the indefatigable Rahat Fateh Ali Khan again) , to the passables – Do dhaari talwar, Choomantar and Madhubala. We expected more after Sen’s sincere stuff for last year’s Khelien hum jee jaan se. 

28 Aug 2011

Hindi Film Songs Lyrics: A Restless Javed Akhtar

After the breaking up of his iconic scriptwriting pairing with Salim Khan, Javed Akhtar went on to write lyrics for Hindi films, starting in the early 1980’s. He also, reportedly had a fling with alcoholism, where things went to such a point that he had to finally take a decision if he wanted to dip further or do away with the habit. Did this occur before or after he debuted as a lyricist, only Akhtar can confirm. Presently, we are the distant music-loving, document-making folk here.
We talk here of the use of the word betaab in Javed Akhtar’s lyrics. The first noticeable instance was in Mangal Pandey: The Rising (2005). The nautch girl of the 19th century gives voice to her life of comfort, and how she utters to A R Rahman music:
ke ek chuban thi jo jiski kami thi
Ke phoolon ke sejo mein main to pali thi 
na betaab din the, na betaab raatein

(If there was an absence, it was of a prick,
I was brought up on a bed of flowers,
neither were the days restless, nor the nights…
While the ‘restless days’ refer to life,  ‘nights’ presumably the girl’s wrapped message to her admirers.
Cut ahead to Rock On (2008), a boy, no, a 'men band' film with two songs of the Shankar-Ehsan-Loy soundtrack reserved to women, one of them goes in the opening lines…
aankhon mein jiske
koi toh khwab hai,
khush hai wahi jo
thoda betaab hai

(In whose eyes 
there is a dream, 
the one who is 
happy, is a little restless...)

The song is featured in the closing credits, like an epitaph to the film’s ‘Live your dream’ theme.    

In proximity to the time of writing this post, we sample this year’s S-E-L soundtrack of Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, where one of the trios of the Spain road trip keeps a diary of his poems, one of them comes as a voice-over, in the last scene, as slow motion, the three friends evade death at the Bull Run, Pamplona, Spain:
dilon mein tum apni beetabiyan leke chal rahe ho 
toh zinda ho tum   
nazar mein khawabon ki bijliya leke chal rahe ho
toh zinda ho tum
hawa ke jhokon ke jaise azaad rehna seeko 
tum ek dariya ke jaise lehro mein behna seeko 
har ek lamhe se tum milo khole apni baahe 
har ek pal ek naya sama dekhi nigaahen
jo apne aankhon mein hairaniyan lekhe chal rahe ho 
toh zinda ho tum
dilon mein tum apni beetabiyan leke chal rahe ho 
toh zinda ho tum   

(If you carry restlessness in your heart,
You are alive
If there is the lightning of dreams in your eyes,
You are alive
Learn to be free like the breeze,
Like a river, learn to flow with the waves,
meet every moment with open arms,
every moment the eyes see new worlds
If you who carry amazement in their eyes,
You are alive
If you carry restlessness in your heart,
You are alive )

So much for betaabi...

16 Jul 2011

Movie Review: Delhi Belly: Ribaldry Works!

Do words come out more spontaneously, when one were to write about a movie one enjoys? Probably - YES, for all ‘good movies’ appeals to our certain senses, likes and perceptions that we have developed over the years.

If you draw an outline, Delhi Belly’s theme of mistaken identities and misplaced items has been told in many unimaginative, repetitive ways before in Hindi and regional cinema.But never with this sort of daring ribaldry. A portly man from Russia alights at Delhi Airport and hands over a package meant to be smuggled through an air-hostess Sonia (Shenaz Tresurywala), who is unaware of its contents. She passes on the delivery responsibilities to her fiancee Tashi (Imran Khan), a bored newspaper reporter, who passes it on to his obese photographer room mate (Kunaal Roy Kapur). The photographer, devastated with painful bowel movement, passes the package to his caricature making room mate (Vir Das), who gets the destinations mixed up. Then come the goons, missing diamonds, retrieval and chase, the police, a ‘lesbian’ sequence, and finally an old scooter crashing down.  It is the stench-funny contents within this framework that the film is endearingly disgusting.

This brilliantly held-together trashy tale (Writer Credit - Akshay Verma) of swear words, bawdiness and mistaken identities, fires all cylinders in its 96-minute running time. There are orgasmic moments - fake and real, cracked ceilings, bosom-honks, human excrement (with exclusive booming sound design) and a lovelorn, gun-wielding lover. The swear words are just not there as props, nor are the toilet jokes, all wound deep in the story-characters cobweb, giving it reason to be shouted out loud and clear. With hardly a plot thread out of place in this deftly built comic caper, it is the open yet controlled black, black humour that gets us through. Aamir Khan Productions took a risk and it paid off. Director Abhinay Deo’s second release, post the Game debacle, proves he has it in him, given inspiring content to work with. 

Ram Sampath’s impressive evolutionary music (Hindi Soundtrack of the Year, so far) - the very skin of the movie, is effectively used as part of the background score snatches, rather than the common-place whole end-to-end spool, as we see in mainstream Hindi films. Amitabh Bhattacharya’s lyrics deserve more than a mention. The wicked genius of DK Bose, which no censor board could touch, and how a lady’s footwear (Sandal, sandal, sandal…) makes comic verse. 

Hinglish or Hindi
The original Hinglish version is where the cosmopolitan Delhi city characters fit in to place. Having said that, yet to watch the 100% Hindi version. Yes, the film is tagged ADULTS ONLY, a very wise tag. It also means you need parents with a sense of humour from outer space to tag them along to this one. Do so at your own peril. The same goes for sensitive females too, it is a very male-world movie, no kidding, no chauvinism here.
Classic Touch
A burqa clad man picks up a glass of water from a tray and pours the contents to the drawn veil, and places the emptied glass on the table, even as a policeman seated beside him looks on, bewildered.

7 Jul 2011

Sandeep Chowta returns...

Apart from creating some great songs for Mast, Pyar Tune Kya Kiya and most notably Company, Sandeep Chowta has also done, additionally and singularly, the background score for several of Ram Gopal Varma's movies - notably Kaun and Satya.
While the hiatus took us all Chowta fans by surprise, he is now back with the background score for RGV's next Not A Love Story. This is certainly a relief for 70mm movie fans, as the director's two-part Rakht Charitra has some deafening stuff, that killed much of the film's impact.
Chowta had been, meanwhile, collaborating with jazz artists like Jeff Richman, Jimmy Haslip, Russel Ferrante and William Kennedy, and consequently brought out an album, 'Matters Of The Heart’ in December 2009, a work seven years in the making.    
Not A Love Story, set on the gruesome 2008 Neeraj Grover murder case, is ready for release. With one of the accused, Kannada actress Maria Susairaj released from jail last week, the blur between fact and fiction is certainly helping the film's trailer grab eyeballs.

6 Jul 2011

Music Review: SINGHAM (2011): Ajay-Atul stick to the template

Prominent film and music journalist Raju Bharatan has written of the unfair criticism that Hindi film music has got over the years. Film music, as he says, is an audio-visual medium and so there are certain limitations to the song composition, how it would gel with the story, and when it would appear in the film. With song situations becoming decorative props of costume, than hooks to a story, music directors are increasingly becoming limited to a template. Another thing about songs is how something grows upon you, over repeated listens, over a period of time, and of us relating to a song.

A remake of the 2010's very commercial, violent cop-mode, Tamil moneymaker Singam, Ajay - Atul get their first major Hindi release of the year, with the delay in the release of Sanjay Leela Bhansali produced My Friend Pinto. The Singham music album has three songs and their respective remixes. Swanand Kirkire (Parineeta, Haazaron Khawishen Aisi) has written the lyrics.

The title song Singham is a clever execution of slokas (incantations, shall we say), Marathi tradition-rooted percussion and arrangements, lion-roar snatches, extended children choruses in the mid-paragraphs, and a rousing end (Lezim dance arrangements). The Udd Udd Dabangg deja vu is evident in the Sukhwinder Singh vocals, and the hard earth-canvas of the visuals. The lyrics are all hero-worship, 'bashing up the bad guys', 'Watch out the Lion is coming!' stuff. A sample:  thagda jhatka hai...dum hai toh chaklo...Over all, a song worth a listen for some innovative singing and timely percussion, certainly not a melodious sing-along.

The primarily Shreya Ghoshal voiced Saathiyaa is salvaged by some clever vocal add-on's in the mukhda, in the form of one of the music directors - Ajay Gogavale. Not that Ghoshal doesn't sing well. The lyrics are all 'girl loyal to man' thing. The stand out refrain lines....badmash dil toh thag hai bada, badmash dil yeh tujhse juda, badmash dil meri sune na zid pe ada...

The sufi tone is now a much-repeated Hindi film trend, Maula Maula Re is OK. Kunal Ganjawala sounding redundant in romantic ones lately) finally gets a non-romantic song  that he gives an effective understated tone, Richa Sharma's voice (think Chaiyya Chaiyya Sapna Awasti mould) is good company here. Decent turn, the best song of the soundtrack.

Overall the album, (we think nothing of the remixes) is an above-average listen, just about. The limited number of songs does help our collective verdict...