have an opinion? got feedback? drop me a line- pooja.x.rao@gmail.com
Can also read my posts at Mumbaikar.com and filmi features @ Bollyspice.com


Movie Review - Eclipse

While first part Twilight introduced the translucent relationship and electric attractions of frail Bella (Kristen Stewart) and mysteriously handsome vampire Edward (Robert Pattison), second part New Moon questioned the unusual alliance establishing the scope for a troublesome triangle owing to were-wolf Jacob's (Taylor Lautner) fixation for Bella. The story picks up exactly from where it left, and thus gives birth to the third part of the Twilight franchise - Eclipse. If you thought the second installment in the series, ‘New Moon’ was just about a bunch of shirtless hot boys prancing around with a plot hanging on a thin thread, be prepared for this one. 
Lovers Bella and Edward, with Jacob for added company still have to make up their minds on what’s more important – Bella’s life or their happily-ever-after story. Whilst Edward and Jacob snarl at each other and make clear their deep affection for Bella, Bella seems more dazed than ever in terms of her relationship with her two antagonistic suitors, and more confused on which monster she’s more interested in. Icy cold boyfriend or hot-blooded friend? Well-behaved vampire or determined aggressive werewolf. Oh! The tough choices a girl has to make these days! To add to their troubles, vampire Victoria makes a comeback wanting to avenge the death of her lover James tugging along her trained new set of vampires (who btw look like boy-band rejects)
Will Edward & Jacob join forces to protect Bella? And Bella’s decision ‘to be or not be a vampire’ forms the story of Eclipse.
For most part of its running time, the movie is about conversations - between Bella-Edward, Bella-Jacob, Edward-Jacob, and finally Edward-Bella-Jacob. At a point in the movie, I felt that it would have been better to have combined new moon and eclipse, done some heavy editing and have it all in one film instead of stretching it needlessly. Since we had been exposed to the freshness of vampire-human romance and vampire-werewolf rivalry, there should have been an extra zing in this one to bank upon. Sizzling chemistry between Bella and Edward or some adrenaline-pumping vampire action. Sadly, between parts 2 and 3, there is nil story progress, characters haven’t added any substance, and hardly anything unpredictable takes place.
Three movies and you would think the cast would have warmed up to their characters and shown some praise-worthy acting. No such luck here! Taylor bagged the stronger role with some fine but equally cheesy one-liners hence overshadows Robert who looks as if he’s going to cry in a minute or sneeze in the second. Bella remains an unlikable character, her acting is poor, and she continues to don a disgruntled look, appearing withdrawn and drab.
There are moments that ensure you enjoy the antagonism between the two gorgeous boys, irrespective of your loyalty towards anyone in particular. Here lies the charm of Eclipse. Although it lacks the awe-inspiring magnetism of Twilight, it is more intense and enthralling than New Moon. This is the first Twilight film that manages a stand-alone in its own right and is tedious yet enjoyable in small fragments. Stuffed with uninspired characters and cliché dialogues, Eclipse is doubtful to win many new fans, the quality of the stories remains along a straight horizontal plane with a whole lot of vaccum.
Final Verdict: Obviously aimed at the teenage female fan base, with Taylor going shirtless in every opportunity he comes across, the movie is action-packed but highly mundane and mushy. Overall, by the end of it, there will be two sets of people - the faithful twi-hards who will lap every second of the film or the serious movie aficionados who will scream foul and groan.

Diagnosed with the 'Twitter' flu

Hola! So off late I haven't been true to my blogging duties except for the filmy stuff (which is not counted as its part of the job!), and its not because I've been lazy or bored, but rather (& I am shamefully admitting this) - I've been hooked onto TWITTER & how! After an immediate vent of thoughts via tweet, I hardly have any motivation left to follow that with a longer blog post.  
However having said that, most of my friends won't join because "its confusing". I say "Bulls***". If you can survive in this world, you are officially qualified to use Twitter. Thus, I bring to you my reasons why you should be a Twitterati (you don't know what that is?!?!? Jeez where have you been?!?

Movie Review: Salt. 'Not so Jolly good'

Picture this - Cruise or Daniel Craig or Matt Damon dodge the bad guys, beat up people with nil emotion and hobnob on highways amidst gleefully indulging in disguises, bruise-less escapes from a hailstorm of bullets, building homemade ammunition and emerge unscathed from vehicle blasts! ! Then there is Angelina Jolie, who essentially for all purposes is the feminine answer to James Bond in her new film ‘Salt’. Undoubtedly, there’s no two-ways that it has to be Jolie, the only female star in H-Town, who more than measures up to any of the men.
When Evelyn Salt (Angelina Jolie) a CIA agent is asked to interrogate a Russian chap, mid-conversation he casually accuses her of being a Russian spy. Jolie doesn’t take this well, she wants to head home & have a candle-night with husband for the wedding anniversary. Before you say ‘huh!’ she vanishes, makes a dash for the nearest exit, whilst her fellow agents stare helplessly at video monitors. Why is she running you ask? Too ensure we audiences stay put is my best guess (there is no another reason to sit thru the rest 60 odd mins). the big question - Is she a double agent (or was that triple) or not, forms the remaining reels of the film.
Less on suspense, there is tension and all that, while our lady jumps from bridges, leaps onto moving trucks, balances her frame on building ledges with an ease that would put many an olympic acrobats to shame. Stunts that would result in serious broken bones or certain death to an average joe are nothing for Salt, which in time become ridiculous and even laughable for those not focusing on the pout and the figure. It's sad that the writers decided to spend more time on the lead going from pose to pose instead of exploring a potentially fiery character. So everyone is prancing around asking, “Who is Evelyn Salt?” like they are playing a game of ‘Who wants to become a millionaire?’ but for an attentive viewer the true story in unraveled much before climax.  Finally, its only the chase which forms the point - more or less.
Second thoughts: Salt was originally written for Tom Cruise & the character was named Edwin Salt. Cruise didn’t go along as it was similar to Mission Impossible and he was tilting more in favor of Knight and Day. The plot was altered, Cruise became Jolie and Edwin became Evelyn.  So would Salt be any different had the movie gone the ‘Cruise’ way? I don’t think so. The sex change is what gives the film a fresh feel and much needed uplift amidst the predictable and ludicrous plot.
Quick take: Salty enough, but probably in a little incorrect measure for the Indian palate. The movie is a fun roller coaster ride - implausibility and all. Watch it for the stunts and action, Angelina’s fine & sincere efforts, still opt for a matinee show if you must.

'A raw dish' - Khatta Meetha Movie review

A concoction of all Priyadarshan movie elements – the rural village backdrop, huge palatial bungalow, a satyawadi father (Kulbhushan Kharbanda), an aam aadmi, his loyal sidekick, hordes of poorly baked characters (with zilch rhyme or reason), their big dreams and bigger problems (for the audience as well).
Sachin Tichkule (Akshay Kumar), a small-time sincere road contractor (who sports RayBan glares BTW), determined to make his name in a society that is heavily marred with corrupt babu’s (including his brothers), who get their way by greasing a few palms. Running out of money and not bagging anything worthwhile in return, Kumar is compelled to shed his Gandhian virtues and walk the path of under-the-table scheming-dealings to bag a project where he can prove himself. To his dismay, enters ex-girlfriend Gehna Ganphule (Trish Krishnan), an uptight no-nonsense ‘sarkari’ madam who shoves Kumar around before falling for his charms (Yeh Bollywood hai remember!!). A quick flashback is squeezed in to show why Trisha loathes Kumar. Sachin Tichkule’s adventures with the bribe-backed system, sprinkled with issues of collapsing bridges, pot-holed roads and relationships with family, co-workers forms the plot or whatever is left of it.
Firstly, whoever classified this movie as a comedy needs a humour check asap. Remaking his own 1988 Malayalam movie, “Vellanakalude Naadu”, Priyadarshan and team probably didn’t contemplate that the two decades gap would have a devastating effect on the age-old tricks and jokes, which were an entertaining watch then but don’t make for audience appeal now. At bullock-cart gait, the plot crawls mercilessly with the umbrella-jhola toting Kumar making a mish-mash of any trivial job there is. The story scampers into just as many subplots without connecting anywhere appearing disheveled.
Akshay Kumar, being the director’s actor that he is, tries very hard but is unable to shift the glaring spotlight from the script, which is weak and overflows with unwanted melodrama. Trisha lacks screen presence and just about manages but fails to stand up to Akshay’s compelling act.
Yes, there are some forsaken gags, and at times Kumar’s rant about the common mans’ struggle and woes makes you relate and empathize. But on a parallel plate, there are too many ughh moments in the film – the blame-game with the driver, the sister’s (Urvashi Sharma) sexual violence and death, some bland bathroom scenes, all make up for a nauseating watch without any disclaimers to alert you in advance. To add to the trauma, there are some sing-songs, which just jump out at the worst possible reels in the film. Another culprit that adds to the unbearable viewing of this film is the length of around 2:40, which is a tad too long for a narrative that goes from ok to bad to worse by the time the curtains come down.
Quick take: Khatta-Meetha is a recipe gone horribly wrong, unsavory blend of all ingredients sweet and spice, leaves a sour taste in the end.

Tere Bin Laden - Movie Review * Ali Zafar

Osama Bin Laden - the name is associated with terror; hijack; fear; killings but not this one. Tere Bin Laden takes the most controversial name in the history of global terrorism and flips it into a rip-roaring comedy that is going to have you rolling with uncontrollable laughter. 
All Ali Hassan (Ali Zafar) wanted was an entry into Amreeka which for him spelt the path of serious career and the league of big bucks. He was almost there, had it not been for the split-second misunderstanding aboard his Karachi-America flight. He innocently picked up a knife dropped by the airhostess; she panics, rings the hijacker bells and Ali is deported. Any post attempts by Ali to get a visa are rejected. Yet years later, Ali is stuck-for-good in Karachi, employed by a shady news channel run by Majeed Khan (Piyush Mishra), covering frivolous news, but not ready to give up on his big dreams. Single option is a local travel agent (Rajendra Sethi), who demands lofty sums of money in exchange for the desirable entry to US. While Ali ponders over raising the money, luck comes calling his way in the form of Noora (Pradhuman Singh), a poultry breeder, who bears an eerie physical similarity to Osama. Ali with the help of his loyal sidekick cameraman Gul (Nikhil Ratnaparkhi) develops a plot to tape a fake Osama video and barter it with media channels for money. Supporting them in this swindle are makeup artist Zoya (Sugandha Garg), dubbing artist Qureshi (Rahul Singh), an Arabic scriptwriter (Chirag Vohra), but the toughest challenge remains to get Noora to enact Osama!
Will Ali pull it off and fulfill his Amreekan wish without ruffling any major political or criminal feathers, forms the backbone of the film.
Debutant director/writer Abhishek Sharma has put together a simple story, which is neat and seamless. Sharp dialogues, uproarious one-liners, lean character sketches, keeping the sensibilities primed are the USP’s of this comic caper. Abhishek does complete justice to the subject by his astute direction. Every minuscule aspect ranging from the language, voice-overs, tones, looks and costumes, sets is accurate and along with the translucent narration culminates into a good film. Santosh Thundiyil's cinematography is on par. Musical contributions by the genius trio Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy have already received their due.
Casting is undoubtedly the trump card of the film. No particular actor can be singled out as every character has been defined perfectly and leveraged upon. Performances by every one in the film are par excellence. Ali Zafar, the singer-actor, who is already being touted as the next big thing puts in an open performance. His portrayal of the ambitious and desperate journo is easy on the eyes, coupled with good looks and confidence takes the act a notch further. Pradhuman Singh is the cherry on the cake and scene-stealer hands-down. His dual roles as the naïve Noora and spiteful Osama on film are mature, confident and riveting. His act is strappingly compelling, so much so that you want to sympathize his innocence in one scene and subsequently smack him for his idiosyncrasy in the next. Piyush Mishra as Majeed, the miserly owner of the news channel is exceptional, as are the rest of the cast who fit into their roles comfortably.
It’s refreshing to see Bollywood coming out of hairbrained so-called comedies and experimenting with subjects and genres that are fresh, in sync with times and thought-provoking. Tere Bin Laden is a comical look at the American government’s mindset about Pakistan, Osama, Taliban and its likes. The film has its heart in the right place. The running length of around 100 minutes is perfect. What provides the edge is that the movie indulges in endless LOL moments without treading the path of silly gags, gay jokes, gibberish storylines, 8-pack abs & unwanted song/dance sequences.
On second thoughts: I’m tempted to know the real Osama’s reaction if he chances to see what Noora has done to his grim image.
Final Take: Tere Bin Laden is pure harmless fun.

'I Hate Luv Storys' - Movie Review "New wine in old bottle"

Love them or hate them, Love stories make the world go round. Although new-age cinema is experimenting with genres from politics to terrorism to religion, Bollywood will always be associated with sugar-coated romantic flicks. As much as we hate to admit, at the end of the day, a true blue Bollywood aficionado still counts DDLJ, Lamhe, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai amongst the ultimate Bollywood films.
And taking it some steps further, Punit Malhotra in his directorial venture attempts a story-telling using a collage of yester-year classics adorned with ‘been-there-done-that’ formulas of snow-capped mountains, chiffon saris (neatly flying in the wind), clean scrubbed dudes, Karwachauth and the likes. Not that it’s a problem really, if done correctly.
So we are introduced to a ‘I love, eat, sleep, live Mills & Boon fairy tales’ film production designer Simran (Sonam Kapoor) and ‘Girls = Dates = one night stand ONLY” assistant director (Imran Khan) who in true tradition of Bolly-rom-coms are at polar extremes on the concept of Love and all the good things that go with it. They bicker, snicker, and make their displeasure at each others view very evident. Opposites are bound to attract, and as in most cases, since it is a one-side thing, we wait till the end of the movie for the second side (read: Jay) to connect to it. No jigsaw puzzle this one! The boy-girl have to make up their mind if indeed Mr Wrong is Mr Right or Mr Right is Mr Wrong, while hot shot investment banker boyfriend Raj (Sammir Dattani) keeps himself busy sending a flower daily, booking the fanciest restaurant, planning the perfect proposal, all the while waiting patiently, looking dull, confused and bored.
Yet again, by the end of it all, Imran finds himself in the last-ditch airport scene, and has to inform of his riveting revelation to the heroine. Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na, anyone? Hope Imran does not make this a habit that spills onto his real life as well!
The movie comes from a director/writer who openly professes his revulsion for all things ‘love’, which is quite the irony since the movie ends up being just that - an out-&-out love story. Punit Malhotra having spent considerable amount of time under the conscientious guidance of Karan Johar, knows grandeur, massive sets at the back of his hand and uses that factor to his best advantage. This coupled with sequences of wine-n-dine, lying in bed and staring at the ceiling, getting wet in the rain, now like-now hate, ‘lets be good friends’ confused conversations (which I have a feeling Mr. Malhotra has personally experienced-`n’-endured) make for an innocent and relative watch and you can actually hear ooh’s-aah’s-awww amidst the “hey, I have also been through this s***’ confessions in the audience.
‘I Hate Luv Storys’ is outrightly predictable, with dollops of mush and overflowing emotions. But it’s the simple yet fresh presentation that makes it hatke, and not make you cringe in your seat. Now having a movie-within-a-movie is no mean feat, but Punit manages it decently keeping the whole fare above the average mark. The glitch here is that it has way too much of Karan Johar scribbled all over it, thus stealing Punit’s individuality.
Direction, well-learnt at the ‘Johar institution’ is eloquent, to the point and helps both characters reach a level of sensibility. Dialogues, a mish-mash of cute quips & charming one-liners are random, today and quite in sync. The comic scenes stay true to the rom-com genre. On the other hand, the writing could definitely use some heavy improvement. I wouldn’t mind if the movie had extended an extra half hour, but as a whole the movie should have been a little more spaced out and shuffled especially some clichéd re-enacted scenes and songs wherein they kind of all toppled over one another. Good effort for the first time though!
The movie is well festooned by Vishal-Shekhar’s musical chartbusters, which have already been well received.  Ditto for Salim-Suleiman’s background score which keeps you up and cheerful for most of the time. Scenic beauty is well-captured and cinematographer Ayananka Bose, who recently proved his mettle in ‘Kites’ will find him in the top league hereon.
Imran and Sonam make a fine pair, not sizzling, just fine. No over-the-top chemistry, bonding to an extent of killing the passion, too many stolen glances, leaves much to the audience desire. Samir Soni as a certain-high profile director justifies the casting director’s choice; Aamir Ali is well placed and performs with ease. But the hiccup is Sammir Dattani, who unfortunately despite being as talented as he is, is not given the platform he deserves. By the time the story moves ahead, he is lost, displaced and sadly nobody really cares. A very special mention to Kavin Dave, (who in the smooth extension of his role from Rishta.com to IHLS), carries his act as Imran’s friend with earnest performance and some steal worthy scenes.
The thing about the movie that appeals the most is the ‘real’ feel to it. As an audience, you could be in any corner of the world and you will be truly able to identify and relate to Jay & Simran. Anyone who has been even remotely close to a film-set culture, would smile inwardly while watching the movie for the sheer comfort to the familial setting and characters (except for the glamour part, for which Manish Malhotra is highly laudable, but trust me no film crew would be able to look so fashionable in reality).
The silver lining is that the film makes for a decent everyday flick, because just like love it's neither perfect nor imperfect which is completely enjoyable. You'll begin to wonder if there was any sense to the film at all only once the screening is over because while the movie is on you will be over-occupied indulging in it!
I Hate Luv Storys definitely will not feature in my list of “favourite love err ‘luv’ movies” but it does make for an entertaining watch because of its soulful music, refreshing duo of Imran-Sonam and the overall Dharma King of Romance Karan Johar’s proverbial ‘Midas’ touch.
Go for it if you are a hopeless romantic or simply a huge fan of any name associated with the movie. If you’re dragging your better half to make them ’fall in’ or ‘fall out’ of love, haha, Tough Luck! This film is not going to help! If you’re expecting it to impart ‘gyaan’ or have a moral-of-the-story ending, you’re looking at the wrong film. Neither can you expect twists and turns to give you an adrenaline rush. Grab a tub of the popcorn, tag along a couple of friends, sit back and relax.
Final Verdict: Fulltooo Timepass! Dil ‘Bahara Bahara’ ho gaya!!

EAT PRAY LOVE Official trailer.

Official promo of 'EAT , PRAY , LOVE' starring the oh-so gorgeous Julia Roberts.

*sigh* I so need to try this myself. Can I afford it ?@?!?@!#?!#@?


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...