Thursday, June 23, 2016

Kriti - Where's the thrill bro?

Movie - Kriti
Director - Shirish Kunder
Starring - Manoj Bajpayee, Radhika Apte, Neha Sharma

Shirish Kunder's short film Kriti released yesterday on YouTube and since then it has created a buzz on social media. Being a film aficionado and someone who hopes for filmmaking to become more liberal, economical and equal, I decided to check it out.  

Kriti is purported to be a psychological thriller about a man who is in love with a woman but is that woman real and can his psychiatrist help him figure it out? As it stars a seasoned actor like Manoj Bajpai (who I remember being deliciously creepy in Kaun?) and everyone's favourite newbie Radhika Apte, I had high hopes that it will knock my socks off. 

It didn't. 

For a film to be a good thriller, it should make the audience jump off their seats and be awed at the ingenuity of what's happening on screen - none of which Kriti manages to do. It's predictable from the first scene and does not stop being so till the last shot where it starts to spike interest but by then it has ended, literally.

What's worse is that as an audience member I can identity exactly why Kriti goes wrong the way it does. Like most Indian filmmakers, Shirish Kunder seems to have decided to spoon feed his viewers. It is a character in the film itself who reveals the entire plot line in one dialogue. Why do Indian filmmakers believe Indian audiences to be fools of first order who will not be able to add up things together at the end of the movie and work out the twists and turns on their own? Had this one scene not been there, the film may have actually done justice to its genre. 

Verdict - My rating would be 1.5 stars for the effort, for trying to break away from the usual style of presenting films and the decent acting but none of it can save a thriller if there is no actual thrill in it.

Poster credit - Shirish Kunder's Twitter account

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Look Who's Back - some thoughts

Movie - Look Who's Back
Director - David Wnendt
Starring - Oliver Masucci, Fabian Busch, Franziska Wulf

Just finished watched a rather interesting film called 'Look who's back', directed by David Wnendt, on Netflix. The film is based on a novel, written by Timur Vermes, by the same name. The film is about the 'what if' scenario of Adolf Hitler waking up in 2014's Berlin and trying to understand the changes that have taken place in Germany and the world at large since he was in power.  

Hitler is mistaken to be an impersonator of extraordinary method acting talent by a freelance producer who then uses him to rejoin his old TV production company. Hitler on his part is exuberant about this development as now he has the power of media to broadcast his ideas, no matter if many take it to be a joke - at least they’re listening. 
And they’re listening all right. 

Hitler becomes an instant hit, save for a few who view his ideas (even if dubbed as ‘jokes’ by his fan clubs) as dangerous. Most are quite taken by this “new comedian” on the block, showcasing the latent disgruntlement they feel with the current political order including Germany’s policies on welcoming refugees. 

They don't care that this man does not only look remarkably like Hitler but also speaks his language. His marketing is what matters, the fact that he appeals to some disagreements that they have in their hearts matters, the fact that he stands for so called “greatness” of the nation matters but not how he hopes to reach the pinnacle or the lies he spins to support his theories. 

‘Look who’s back’ is a film of our times. World over, we are seeing a takeover by the extreme. It may be in your face or it may be hidden behind sweet words but what we need to understand as citizens of a world, with history on our side, is that there is a call to be vigilant. Hitler may have died but his ideas, unfortunately, did not. Hitler may not rise again as we know him but he is always on the look out to be back. He may reinvent and rebrand himself but the ideas will, at the core, remain the same. 

We have the choice to decide if we want our own personal Hitler who fans that small tinge of anger and resentment that resides in our heart till it all but consumes us and makes us blind to rationality and humanity.  

Watch ‘Look who’s back’ - it will make you laugh and ridicule but only till your defences are down and then it will attack.
Just like the Hitlers of the world. 

Verdict - Do watch for we need to be alerted lest we repeat the mistakes of the past.

Picture credit - the wondrous 'world wide web'

Friday, April 15, 2016

FAN - Its SRK all the way!

Movie - FAN
Director - Maneesh Sharma 

Starring: Shah Rukh Khan

First things first, with FAN, Shah Rukh Khan has effectively shut down all the critics who had been writing him off over the past few years. SRK as Gaurav is a treat to watch and reminds one of the superstar’s rise to fame with anti hero roles like in Darr, Baazigar and Anjaam.

FAN Gaurav Chandna considers superstar Aryan Khanna his God and he could not be more thrilled to look somewhat like him. In fact Gaurav is known as Junior Aryan Khanna in the Inder Puri area where he resides and is the long standing winner at the local talent show held every year during Dussehra. This time however Gaurav has a plan - he wants to travel to Mumbai on his idol’s birthday and share his little success with him and thus starts the journey. Gaurav meets his idol, yes, but under circumstances which make him want to prove to Aryan that he was right when he said that he is nothing without his fans and for poor Aryan, this fan knows entirely too much about him, his schedule and exactly what would harm him and his image as a nice family man!

Gaurav has been established as a somewhat rowdy yet sweet Delhi boy who is not above threatening people/standing his ground/doing both without any care of practicality - his introduction scene has him fighting it out with three men who are definitely stronger than him because they refuse to comply to his request to leave his cyber cafe as he has the above mentioned competition to attend. Gaurav’s character comes across as a regular Dilli ka launda (self assured, confident, a little crass but sweet in his own way) with an irregular kind of love for Aryan Khanna - one which you only start raising your eyebrow upon when it starts transcending into a harmful obsession. Till then, the audience is happy (like Gaurav’s parents) to indulge in his tomfoolery and imagined paradise where only two exist - Gaurav and his idol.

And then this fool’s paradise is interrupted with actions one cannot ignore or brush under the carpet, no matter how innocent and vulnerable Gaurav still manages to look. You laugh at his antics, yes, he is oddly loveable that way but you also cringe because you can guess that this ‘love’ will result in catastrophe - be it for Aryan or Gaurav himself.

Maneesh Sharma manages to keep the audience at the edge of their seat for the whole of the first half. You are played with as you constantly feel the tug towards Gaurav yet are creeped out by him too; you’re confused as you realise that you cannot fault Aryan for his actions but you cannot outright dislike Gaurav either for his. And by the end of the first half, it seems like the director has set the stage for an engaging psychological thriller only for the second half to come in and do nothing for the amazing built up it had.

The second half suffers from the lack of coherence about exactly what genre is this movie aiming at - psychological thriller or action? It also suffers, more acutely felt than in the first half, with the lack of subplots and characters other than Aryan and Gaurav. The screenplay feels entirely too heavy for a movie of this kind - a lot of dialogues could have been easily replaced with one or two meaningful scenes which developed more on the characters of Gaurav’s parents and his ‘one way wala’ love interest. Also except VFX, the film falls short in other departments (it only has one song - the FAN anthem and I absolutely love it - lyrics and all!). The editing was done well for the film they had on the table.

Had the second half been as engaging as the first, Fan would have been a force to reckon with as a story in itself and not as a SRK fair which it is through and through. Shah Rukh is brilliant as the creepy yet vulnerable Gaurav (he literally gave me the heebie-jeebies!) and the tired, exasperated but spirited superstar Aryan Khanna - the two characters could not be more poles apart yet their execution is done with equal conviction.

Verdict - 'FAN' is a must watch for all SRK lovers, but more so for those who wrote off the man over the past few years without realising that he has ruled Bollywood for 25 years - there must be something that sustains him and he proves just what it is in this movie.

Poster credit - Yash Raj Films