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Can also read my posts at Mumbaikar.com and filmi features @ Bollyspice.com


Movie Review - Jhootha Hi Sahi *John Abraham , Pakhi

Those who read my reviews regularly, would vouch that Im rarely harsh about a movie and there has hardly been an instance where I have been unsuccessful in finding atleast one bright spot in the most terrible film. Otherwise, I merely refrain from writing about it. Sadly, that resolve breaks with ‘Jhootha Hi Sahi’ and I have to say, this has to be one of the extremely distasteful movie of the year.

We have Sid (John Abraham), Pakistani friend Omar (Raghu Ram of Roadies fame) running a bookshop in London named 'Kagaz Ke Phool’. Sid’s number gets mixed up with that of a suicide helpline and instead of getting it fixed, he voluntarily agrees to provide consultations to bunch of callers with suicidal tendencies. Whilst not getting into the legalities of having permissions or expertise of the profession, let me also mention here that the helpline is again purely DESI and for desi’s! Anyhow, as fate would have it, our heroine Mishka (Pakhi) calls in wanting to be talked out of ending her life and in true Bollywood romantic flicks style, our hero falls for her. 

Yes, couple of reels later Sid bumps into her when she visits his bookstore. However, see the twist is, Sid knows Mishka as his desperate-advise-seeking-caller, but Mishka doesn’t know Sid as her (k)night-in-phone-friend. Yet Sid won’t reveal the big mystery right away, because he is shy around beautiful girls (though he has a stunner of a girlfriend). He’ll just play along, spend sleepless nights being agony-aunt, and hope someday the truth will be out and everyone will live happily ever after, while his friends muse ‘Tu usse sach kab bata raha hai’. Now where have I heard this one before – Saajan, Aur Pyaar ho gaya, Rehna hai tere dil mein maybe? Then there’s the whole set of friends-clones with their set of problems or so made to be.

Despite it being inspired or borrowed or whatever, the story is quite an interesting one and so it’s disheartening that a fairly horizontal plot with a strong promise just fails to be. There’s clear lack of direction and screenplay is scattered all over the place. Add to it, the slow pace and the fact that the other supporting roles aren’t flawless either, do not help. Like why is the pregnant sister refusing to marry her loving boyfriend is one of the example of the many poorly etched characters.

Mistake 1: It’s sinful to pick up bunch of references from MUCH-LOVED Hollywood movies/sitcoms and try to desi-fy them with absolutely nil depth or direction or creativity.
Mistake 2: and top it with a setting that is a foreign land (and characters have no trace of Brit-accent??).
Mistake 3: You just don’t cast for the sake of making a film or pleasing your loved ones, there has to be some connect somewhere. Or atleast screen presence. Or atleast chemistry. Or atleast acting capability. Not too much to ask, is it?
Mistake 4: You don’t put together dysfunctional cast with attributes like nerd, Japanese (?!), alter-ego, gay, Asian, and then provide absolutely no track, justification, or history behind them. It’s neither cute nor funny!
Mistake 5: You don’t cast actors like Madhavan in insignificant roles that even out-of-work actors would refuse.

And with that I hardly have anything more to say about this disaster of a movie. I am greatly disappointed and hoping that John tries to redeem himself from yet another blotch to his filmography and sticks to movies like Dostana. He was good in the movie, and so he was in Aashayein too, but when the plot is this flawed, there is no scope for anyone to add any points to his career graph with such a film.

Verdict: JHS should be rechristened ‘‘X ways to bungle up a film’’ and be used as a case-study in schools for ‘upcoming directors/scriptwriters’ as an example of what you should absolutely NOT DO while making/writing a film.

P:S: I have deliberately steered clear from any mention of ‘Jaane tu…’ because any comparisons with that movie are futile.

Movie Review - Letters to Juliet

Amidst annoying chic-flicks and ‘wannabe’ romantic comedies, it's a nice surprise to stumble across a film of the genre that DOESN'T ‘try-hard-to-be’ and LETTERS FROM JULIET was that surprise for me. Since this was one of those films, for which the trailer gave away most of the plot, I had not expected to see anything incredible, but it ended up being a double romantic payoff, beautifully portrayed, directed and performed.

New Yorker Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) is on a pre-honeymoon vacation with restaurateur fiancé Victor (Gael Bernal) in the picturesque Verona, Italy. While exploring the city, Sophie visits the historic home of Juliet Capulet (from the Shakespeare classic ROMEO & JULIET) where she discovers a fifty-year-old letter hidden in the stonewall (a place where the heartbroken leave notes asking Juliet for her help). The letter was written by a British girl, to her Italian lover, who she abandoned to please her strict parents. Sophie innocently answers the letter, only to discover that the girl, Claire, (Vanessa Redgrave), now a woman in her sixties, has traveled to Verona, accompanied by her grandson Charlie (Chris Egan) in search of her lost lover, hopeful by Sophie’s response. Bored and neglected, as fiancé Vector is occupied meeting vendors for his restaurant, Sophie agrees to accompany Claire and Charlie on her quest for finding Claire’s lost love. You can easily work out the rest of it. In fact, you can guess the whole film based on the 2+ minute trailers.

The major part of the movie rests on the delicate shoulders of Amanda, who does her part efficiently. The gem of the movie however is Vanessa Redgrave. Her grace, wit, mischievously hinting eyes reminded me of the older Rose (Gloria Stuart - Titanic). She is beautiful, irresistibly charming and the scenes between her and real-life husband Franco Nero together are an eclectic combination of bittersweet, poignant, and the most compelling reason to watch the film. The weak link is Christopher Egan, whose oppressive square Brit act is an unwelcome contrast to the sidetracked but moderately appealing Victor. (Still none of the male leads are even remotely gorgeous or swoon-worthy as expected for the Italian backdrop)

Oh ‘Letters to Juliet’, why do I adore thee? Let’s summarize the reasons: there are no pretentions, no bad blood, no going back & forth, no unfunny jokiness or  amateurish tendencies, no clichéd dialogue or people or scenes - just one intricately woven love story, two enchanting Italian romances and dollops of Italian scenic beauty. While it does not break any new paths, the movie is aptly supported by the leading ladies genuine conviction, that slivers through the mushiness to make the predictable plot feel real and touching, while steering clear of the schmaltz of candy floss melodramas.

So it's not a great flick, it’s an indulgence (chocolates/desserts kind), a lazy afternoon leisure and the perfect substitute for ‘chicken soup’ on those feeling low days. Portrait landscapes of delightful Italian countryside, lighthearted gestures, conversations, and immensely affable cast make "Letters to Juliet" worthwhile, even if you've seen it before. Many times before. Recommended.


Talk around Tinsel Town- Lots happening in Tinsel town in the final quarter of the year. Lots of Big releases, gossips, news and views. Read further as I pick the famous few!

* ROBOT ROBOT ROBOT! Superstar Rajinikanth, Aishwarya Rai starrer is making a splash not in our circuits but internationally as well. Although the Hindi version started slow, picked up latter through WOM, Tamil numbers don’t fit on my calculator screen. Read my review on it and read Anuvab Pal's smart take on Rajinikanth v/s Ayodhya verdict.
If he (Rajinikanth) showed up at a disputed site, that's where a temple, mosque, church, synagogue would come up in simultaneous harmony. His answer to Ayodhya was one simple sentence: 'I am Superstar Rajinikanth and I have a new movie.' HAIL THALAIVAR!

* KBC new seasons starts soon. The changes to the format were revealed at a media meet last week.
In the help lines: Audience poll, phone-a-friend stays, 50/50 option is replaced with a new helpline- Ask the Expert. ‘Watch’ is called ‘Ghadiyal Babu’ while ‘Computer Ji’ remains as is. Prize money is now Rs 5 crore. The show also gets a new name ‘KBC 2010’ and not KBC season 4.

* Speaking of KBC, anyone up for lunch with BIG B? You don’t have to pay the bill, but you do need to bid for the lunch date. The current bid is standing at INR 1,002,000.00 (Approximately US $22,529.97). Read about it here http://bit.ly/cLqLcR

* BIG BOSS 4 starts with song, dance, and drama in full force, Salman at his wicked best, and if you’re wondering about some unknown names, some of the profiles are ex-Mr India, ex-model, Pakistani host , Splitsvilla winner, chor, daaku, Kasab’s ex-lawyer among others. Think it sounds like fun, catch the ‘mazaa andar, mazedar bahar’ episodes onCOLORS’ starting today!

* But no reality show is without its share of controversies. The Shiv Sena and MNS have threatened to stall the run of BIG BOSS, protesting the inclusion of Pakistani artistes in the 4th season hosted by Salman Khan.

* Hisss star Mallika Sherawat will be a special guest at Robert De Niro's Tribeca Film Festival in Doha, Qatar end October.

* All those who thought Anjaana Anjaani rocked (Im not one of you-my review) Priyanka Chopra and Ranbir Kapoor will romance again in Anurag Basu’s 'Silence'.

* It’s raining endorsements for celebs. After Malaika Arora-Khan gets signed for Zandu Blam, Bipasha Basu will endorse Emami. Asin for Amrutanjan, Aamir Khan is the new ambassador for Mahindra Two Wheelers, Sameera Reddy for MTS mobiles, Karishma Kapoor for Puretta Baby wipes.

* Ajay Devgn, Akshaye Khanna starrer 'Aakrosh' closes its fight with the censor board, gets an A certificate and prepares for its release on 15th October.

There are some good, bad and some very bad movies lined up! :)

* Ram Gopal Varma sings for his next – RAKHT CHARITRA. Although RGV is singing the telugu version, Suresh wadkar is doing the same is Hindi

* No Problem Theatrical Trailer is out! Yipee! It stars Sanjay Dutt, Akshaye Khanna, Kangana Ranaut, Sushmita Sen, Anil Kapoor, Suniel Shetty, Paresh Rawal and Neetu Chandra. *PHEW* and is a December 10th release.

* Theatrical Trailer of 'Break ke Baad' starring Imran Khan and Deepika Padukone is out. Looks like IHLS without Sonam. Anyone else feels Imran is getting typecasted?!

* Knock Out promo is out staring Kangana Ranaut, Sanjay Dutt and Irfan Khan, directed by Mani Shankar, scheduled to release on 15 October 2010. Yet another remake for Btown, this one is picked of ‘Phone booth’ starring Collin Farell

What’s brewing this week!

* Superstar Rajinikanth will be in Mumbai on Monday, October 04, 2010 for a special screening of ROBOT at a suburban theatre.

* A book on KBC will be launched on Oct 7th and will be available at leading stores for 95/-. Don’t know what the contents are, will have to wait till the launch.

Cine-scope this Friday! (Films releasing 8th October 2010)(Not the complete list, only selective ones)

* Crook (Hindi) – Starring – Emraan Hashmi, Arjan Bajwa, Neha Sharma (Hindi debut)

Crook: It's Good To Be Bad is based on the racial attacks on Indian students in Australia and will look into segregation, discrimination and racism among all kinds of people. Emraan Hashmi plays the role of an Indian middle class guy who goes to Australia in search of a better life. His character is a crook who, at times, uses unfair means in his life to achieve his goals. Neha Sharma plays a girl born and brought up in Australia who tries to mend the cultural gap between Indians and Australians.

What works: Combinations of Emraan hashmi and Mohit Suri have given decent hits at the box office with Raaz2. Hopefully they repeat it.

What does not work: There is nil pre-release hype for the movie. There have been no marketing efforts from the team and hardly anything is known about the movie, which is leading to no curiosity to watch in theatres. Previous week’s releases Robot, Anjaana Anjaani are still going strong and may have a cascading effect on the opening.

* Do Dooni Chaar (Hindi) – Starring – Rishi and Neetu Kapoor

When was the last time you saw something - on a window display, on Amazon.com, in the flight magazine - and told yourself, 'Someday, I'll buy that!'? Santosh Duggal fights that battle almost every day! When Duggal’s sister comes visiting to invite them to a wedding at her in-laws, she gives them an ultimatum: They have to come by a car. The only problem is that the Duggals don't own a car. After putting together all their resources, one big hole remains to be filled. Do Dooni Chaar talks of the middleclass man and his struggle in coping with the fast, new 'India Shining'.

What works: The movie marks the comeback of Rishi Kapoor and Neetu Singh as a lead pair on the big screen albeit a completely different avatar wherein they play husband wife of a middle class family. Also, the central theme laced with humor can score well with the particular section of the society

What does not work: Small budget, unimpressive musical score, no fancy names, no foreign locations - movie boasts of none of the usual requirements of an average cinegoer these days. Hopefully, the lead couple should be able to pull in crowds and even if the opening isn’t huge, word of mouth should be strong to help the film sustain. In addition, since it’s a family movie, first 3 weeks of October is a time forexams etc, which could also deter audiences. Again, it is bound to receive competition from Robot, Anjaana Anjaani.

Tweet (le) birdie told me! (Kyunki har Tweet kuch kehta hai!)
(Disclaimer: No vocabulary/grammatical corrections done. Decode at your own risk :) )

While KARAN JOHAR goes on a twitter sabbatical, latest entrant to join Twitter is choreographer/director FARAH KHAN. (in time for Tess Maar Khan promotions?)

@Thefarahkhan Off 2 shoot last 2 days of entrtnment ke liye.sad n relieved.wi miss the show.lekin shairi se toh chutkaara milega.sorry 4 calng it shairi.

@beingsalmankhan Was watching usha uthup ji , she rocks , a total rock star. .

@priyankachopra http://moby.to/fcj848 - Bloody traffic.. Uff.. I have a flt to make.. Tryin to calm my nerves listenin to tujhe bhula diya.. Its my anthem

@realprietyzinta Meetings , meetings and more meetings today ! Phew ! I hate sitting in one room and in one seat ! Grrrrrr ! Need to get out and stretch ....

@iamsrk direction deptt says i am delaying shoot by coming late on sets. this is a first in 20 yrs, bas yehi sunna reh gaya tha..ha ha.

@deepikapadukone Shooting for fiama last couple of days...hair shoots are THE most exhausting!but completely worth it...

@vivek_oberoi The gym is empty..cmon,workout with me! I need inspiration tweeps..waiting 4u sleepyheads to WAKE UP!!! ;) lol http://plixi.com/p/47705794

@bipsluvurself http://twitpic.com/2ttnwp - RockyS my dearest friend shares his bday wth al these grt ppl!No wonder he is al heart!Love him:)

@bomanirani working on 4 movies right now. Don2, bullet train, stand by me, ferrari ki sawari.

@riteishd Watching Rakhi Sawant on IndiaTV 's Aap ki Adalat - she is too entertaining- enjoying d show

@duttalara Off 2 a european sojourn before joining my cast & crew in Berlin! Best friend is getting married so going 2 b a 'best woman' 4 the 1st time!

@anumpampkher Fether called from Simla,"Do you know why when Canada has day, we have nite?""You tell me Dad."" I also don't know,Ask ur twitter friends.:)

@R_khanna (Rahul Khanna) On a quest for inspiration for a piece @VogueIndia has commissioned me to write. New Blank Document, you're a cruel mistress.

Movie Review - Robot 'Double Rajinikanth Mazaa' * Rajinikanth, Aishwarya Rai

When Rajinikanth hits the screens, the audience is divided into 2 extreme groups – one who tease his comic hyperbole, forward jokes about superstar’s antics, and can’t seem to understand what the fuss around him is about. For the others, the man is a humble star or a demi-god like no other – an entertainer who despite his age maintains his mass appeal across generations, is versatile and they worship him. While, Twitter, Facebook are buzzing with all the ‘rocking’s, ‘awesome’s, and ‘taali-seeti’s in praise of the movie, theatres in most parts of the globe are celebrating and how!

It’s usually a writer’s tendency, to pen down anything that has been observed/seen/heard almost immediately. I do that too. Thoughts are fresh; words come easily, analyzing becomes a comparatively effortless task. When I stepped out of the theatre after watching Robot, my mind was swarming with endless thoughts and excitement. I could not stop gushing to anyone who cared to listen about the amazing 3 hrs I had spent in probably my most rewarding theatre visit till date. I felt a mix of emotions – exhilaration for having had a fantastic movie experience, satisfaction for walking out minus the feeling of being cheated, admiration for Shankar’s vision and ambition but largely, pride for being a part of the Indian cinema, which can finally boast of a befitting reply to movies from western counterparts.

Dr Vaseegaran (Rajinikanth), builds an andro-humanoid robot Chitti (Rajnikant) with an objective to help the Indian Army. Chitti is programmed to fight, dance, speak, learn, teach and do most things that humans can but with an unexplainable speed. However, his creation is rejected by boss Dr. Bohra (Danny Dangzongpa) blaming Chitti’s failure to deal with emotions. Vasi upgrades Chitti's to imitate emotions, not realizing Chitti’s first attraction and infatuation will be for Vasi's girlfriend Sana (Aishwarya Rai). When Chitti’s feelings are not reciprocated by Sana who considers him as a ‘toy-friend’, he is overcome with jealousy pangs and vengeance, turning him into a violent mayhem. Can he be stopped? It’s for you to watch!
Simply put, Robot is by far the most entertaining film to have been made in India. It’s the perfect example of a good, blend of histrionics, emotions, action, drama. It’s a deadly combination of the biggest superstar Rajinikanth, world beauty Aishwarya, big fat budget rightly justified by the visual effects with an Indian tag.  Despite its extensive use of effects, it doesn’t feel animated, never gets too intense and has a little bit of every genre thrown in for the Indian appetite. Yes, the film could have done with editing of a couple songs and scenes to make it crisper, but a substantial part of the film does command a second dekho.

The star Rajini sir, praising him is a literal case of ‘choti mooh badi baat’. He jumps, swivels, romances, fights, and never ceases to amaze. He is subtle and explosive in balanced measures for which the partial credit also goes to Director Shankar for playing the cards of direction and screenplay perfectly. Watch out for his scene when Chitti is looking at his image in the mirror with a straight face, and then suddenly breaks into the meanest laugh. You get goose bumps and that’s the effect of the superstar. Aishwarya does what she does best – looking dolled up, sadly for the Hindi audience, the translations, dialogues does make it a little heavier, the original ‘Endhiran’ obviously getting brownie points here. An aspect that seemed very doubtful to me in the promos, the camaraderie between the leads is near perfect, not OTT, just soft and works. The supporting cast of Danny is effective, the rest are played ably. Rathnavelu’s camera effect is superlative; songs shot in exotic locales add the additional zest. Sabu Cyril’s art design is highly commendable.

Finally, ROBOT is a celebration of larger-than-life extravaganza called RAJINIKANTH. If you thought he was glorified for his sunglass, cigarette gimmicks, punch dialogues, and other unfathomable stunts, watch ROBOT to discover that there is more to the actor than just stunts. You won’t be disappointed.
Verdict: I don’t need to tell a Rajini fan to watch the movie. If you’re not a Rajini Fan, consider going for this one. You might just convert after watching Robot.

On second thoughts: Can we have 1st October declared as ‘RAJINI ‘ROBOT’ DAY’ already?!


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