Sunday, 25 December 2011
It was a chilly Saturday afternoon. Also an afternoon, I was anxiously awaiting for the longest time. After all, there I was perched on a seat inside a Noida hall, endlessly waiting for the curtains to go up and for the drama to unfold. Don 2, probably the most anticipated film of the year. Mainly for two reasons: 1.Farhan Akhtar had done a fabulous job 5 years back. Chandra Barot’s Don is a classic and its legacy is unquestionable. But Farhan, who is known to add his own perspective to his work(DCH and Lakshya replete with such moments) had offered us a slick, technically superior film with edge- of- the- seat moments.
2. SRK’s rendition of Don in the 2006 version was a testimony to the fact that the King Khan was not only the King of Romance but also the Guru of Grey characters.. The swagger, the smirk, the dialogue delivery everything catapulted the character of Don to the highest level of cinematic experience.
So expectations from Don 2 had reached fever pitch. But 30 minutes into the film, it glared at us with its borrowed yet flawed storyline, an even weaker screenplay and all hopes of Don 2 turning out to be a treat disappeared with a whimper.
The movie starts on a promising note, amidst the meandering backwaters of Thailand as the camera artistically zooms into the profile of the Don, now the undisputed king of the Asian drug cartel.His next mission- to establish his supremacy within the European drug mafia as well. All this while Roma (Priyanka Chopra) works on his sole mission in life- the put the Don behind the bars. Her character doesn’t evoke much interest in the film except a scene where her exposed back in a dance sequence with Hrithik (yes, he makes a cameo, and an annoyingly stupid one that is) which exudes her hidden sexuality.
Clearly, Don 2 lacks a story and is nowhere near the engaging thriller that Don was. Farhan, whose films always smack of superb story-telling seemed to have handed over the reins of direction as well to SRK. He dominates every frame right from the beginning till the credit rolls. He does have some riveting moments to himself, but his overpowering presence reduces Don 2 to little more than a SRK portfolio trailer that lasts more than 120 minutes.
The pace of the film, is slower than the government’s approach towards the Jan Lokpal Bill. The screenplay scampers at such a sluggish pace that even the breathtaking stunts and the daredevil action sequences do not evoke much response. Jason West’s camera work earnestly captures the picturesque town of Berlin. Never has Berlin been portrayed so extensively in a Bollywood film. West does a commendable job in capturing the globetrotting adventure as it kicks off in Thailand, and then unravels in Europe. Some of the stunts exhibited in Don 2 match up to international standards. But the SRK free fall from a Berlin skyscraper though sleekly shot, suffers from the MI4 Tom Cruise- Burj scene hangover.
The second biggest disappointment of the film closely following the heels of its weak script is the music. Though Don 2 does not give much scope for music to take centre-stage, but even the title track ’ Aa Gaya Laut Ke’ is a thumbs down. Shaan’s emphatic vocal cords had made the prequel’s title track a runaway hit. But Shankar- Ehsaan- Loy this time has failed in their department.
Don 2 honestly is a display of SRK’s histrionics. He lends a leaner and deadlier feel to the character with his swagger, his cocky smirk but is letdown by a heavily weak script. Priyanka doesn’t have much to do, as the script doesn’t have much scope. Kunal Kapoor back in the big league after a long time shows promise while the role of Lara Dutta who plays the Don’s moll is nothing more than that of an extended item number. Both the beauty queens have been wasted in the film. Boman Irani delivers an endearing performance yet again, and his versatility is the silver lining in an otherwise disappointing take of affairs.
In the end, a word of caution for SRK, Farhan and those willing to invest their (or their father’s) hard earned money on the film:
Dear SRK, it is time you stop taking your fans for granted. You were the very reason I got glued to Bollywood. But of late your films are giving birth to strong withdrawal symptoms when it comes to watching Hindi Films. Your star power is and shall remain unmatched. Please stop being insecure about yourself . Next time, give some space to the director.
Farhan, your films have always been uber, sleek, cool and a torchbearer of the changing times in our film industry. Don 2 was a colossal disappointment. Next time please have a story to tell. Remember, a story drives a film and a screenplay is the catalyst. Do have a word with your dad.
If you are an SRK loyalist, Don 2 warrants a one-time watch. But somewhere in the middle, if you are forced to yawn, keep it low. You might just wake up the person snoring away next to you!
Wednesday, 27 July 2011
For all those contemplating the idea of buying a new car or purchasing a new home, the headlines on all leading dailies in the country on Wednesday, 27 July 2011 would be nothing less than disappointing. As the Reserve Bank Of India announces hikes in car and home loans in a desparate attempt to wrest the rising inflation, the ‘aam janta’ may have suddenly found an unlikely villain, RBI Governor D Subbarao
But before you go all guns blazing at the good old man, just ponder on for a moment. Afterall, he is just trying to make amends for the lavish expenditure that the central government has incurred in the last few years, and trying to bridge the enormous budget deficit left in its wake. The RBI’s action might get the brickbats flying towards it, but it is just trying to clear the mess created by the Central Government.
Anyways, coming back to the topic of my article, buying cars, homes as present would perhaps be a forbidden territory for a majority of the tax-payers.But there are a lot of other products that you could buy. And what more, our top politicians, ministers, those in the corridors of power are endorsing them. You don’t believe me, well you just might after gazing through the article.
Dr. Manmohan Singh- Product: ‘Bose MS’ Soundbox
The latest joke doing the rounds on the social networking websites is that patrons entering a movie hall are being implored to put their mobile phones on ‘Manmohan Singh’ mode. At a time when his government is embattled with corruption charges, the latest rant being from A. Raja himself about his alleged knowledge about the dubius dealings in the 2g case, Singh resorts to his greatest weapon- Silence.
Being an economist himself, isn’t it time he took the reins in his hand and formulated a policy to swerve us straight out the ‘inflation blitzkrieg’? As someone, who leads the government of the world’s second largest democracy, what stops him from coming clear on all the charges levelled against his government? Is his allegiance only restricted to 10 Janpath Road or does the domain extend to the entire nation as well?
I am sure the last time Manmohan Singh called upon his dentist for a check up, the latter must have taken a dig at him as well. He must have said, “Atleast open your mouth now”
P. Chidambaram – Product: PC Security Alarm System
As three bomb blasts on 13/7 ripped through the city of Mumbai, India’s commercial hub, thereby exposing India’s vulnerability to terror attacks, Mr. P. Chidambaram, Union Home Minister seemed a content man the very next day while addressing the press in Mumbai. Retorting to a question directed by a journalist, Chidambaram insisted that Mumbai was a ‘safe haven’ and that there has been no terror attack on the city for the last 31 months. To deconstruct his statement further, what he meant was that the security deployed in Mumbai is so ‘extraordinarily’ tight, that those intending to strike terror on the shores of the city had to wait for 31 months after 26/11 to finally get an opportunity. Any sane person’s instant reaction to such a statement would be, “ROFLMAO”.
The reality, that our Home Minister perhaps would choose to ignore, is that every nook and corner of the country is on the brink of terror. We are at the mercy of the terrorists for our lives. For it is they who draft up the ploy to sabotage the peaceful fabric of our nation. And all we get in the name of security and in return for the tax we pay to the exchequer are policemen equipped with 3-not- 3 rifles and the famous danda to thwart the bullets from AK 47 and other automated machine guns.
The Maoist insurgency in around ten Indian states remains the biggest internal threat to India till date. In 2009, Manmohan Singh had bluntly pointed out that the country was losing the battle against the Maoist rebels. Come 2011, the government it seems have surrendered to the Maoists and have dug up graves for them to do the needful.
In 2010 alone, we lost over a thousand lives to Maoist attacks. In 2011, the toll stands at over 300 till June. God only knows, how many more fatalities has been hidden under the radar and concealed from the media. And yet, there has not been a single foolproof strategy to counter the threat in the Red Corridors.Or for that matter, constructive efforts to bring back the Maoists to return to the mainstream of society.
Reports of violations of Line Of Control by the Chinese Army pour in on a regular basis. The People’s Liberation Army even has the audacity on marking the presence of China on boulders and rocks belonging to the Indian soil. What steps has the Home Ministry in consultation with the Ministry of Defence taken to avert such perpetual infiltrations?
So if you want your home , ‘safe and sound’, its time you got the PC Security Alarm System installed.
BS Yeddyurappa: Product: Mantra healed ruby gem stone
Indicted along with other Karnataka heavyweights by the Lokayukta Report for causing a loss of Rs 16085 crore through illegal mining, the beleaguered Karnataka Chief Minister now invokes the blessings of God to save his throne. The other damning charges pressed against the CM are donations to the tune of Rs 10 crore by a mining company to the trust of the CM’s kin and him selling private land to a mining company for a whopping 20 crores.
But a vividly optimistic and defiant BSY, who just returned from the exotic climes of Mauritius after a family holiday still expresses a fervent desire to continue for two more years and passes the buck to the PM and the Home Minister, questioning their moral right to continue in office after the recent charges levelled against them by the tainted former Telecom Minister A. Raja.
With clamours for his removal within the BJP itself getting stronger by the day, party President Nitin Gadkari, it seems would have to engage in a lot of permutation , combinations before arriving at a decision. Though after Wednesday’s indictment, his exit seems imminent, the party would have to pre-empt the backlash it could face from the Lingayat community in Karnataka, of which he remains a popular leader.
A cat has nine lives. BS Yeddyurappa has eleven. In the past few years the ‘Destiny’s Child’ has survived eleven attempts of assassination of his political career. Well, this time however, he finally might have to vacate the CM’s post but his tenacity and zeal to fight back has is praiseworthy.
So, if you’re in search for luck in your professional and personal life, contact Bookanakere Siddhalingappa Yeddyurappa at his Race Course Road residence in Bangalooru. Extra charges are to be levied for private consultations.
In a similar fashion, Nitin Gadkari would shortly be endorsing ‘Slimming Belts’, LK Advani would sign up for an ‘anti-ageing cream’ campaign and Sushma Swaraj would soon be roped in as the brand ambassador for the next big Dance Reality Show.
Wonder, what/ who a certain Mr Digvijaya Singh who pledged political exile in 2003 would endorse? The Gandhi family scion Rahul Gandhi, may be.
P.S- The writer of this article does not endorse ‘slander and profanity’.The right to freedom of speech and expression? Well, may be!
Tuesday, 12 July 2011
There is a tide in the affairs of men.
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat,
And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures.
Julius Caesar Act 4, scene 3, 218–224
The stage was set for Dr. Manmohan Singh to rise to the occasion. Embattled with charges of corruption against the coalition he leads, rattled by the tirade of the Civil Society, this was the septuagenarian’s chance to give a befitting reply to his critics and the nation; that as a Prime Minister, his integrity and probity was unquestionable, that the cabinet reshuffle as he had promised, would truly be ‘expansive’
But, in the end, the Cabinet Reshuffle just turned out be a damp squib, lacking both credence and conviction, reminiscent of a tale of missed opportunities.
Case1- JAIRAM BOWS OUT, GREEN SIGNAL FOR JAYANTHI
Jairam Ramesh, as the erstwhile Environment Minister raised the most potent and relevant questions. An activist in the garb of a politician, he single-handedly prioritised ecological concerns and put it right on the UPA’s agenda. Here was a man who never shied away from calling a spade a spade. His crusade against the development enthusiasts and corporate lobby was perhaps the most fascinating “untold’ story of 2010, though it made him a ‘not so favourite’ in the corridors of power and that of 10 Janpath.
Jairam blocked the FDI to the tune of 51000 crore by Posco in Orissa, vetoed the final approval to Lavasa for infringing on environmental laws, made Praful Patel sweat over the Navi Mumbai. Mr. Patel even went all guns blazing against Ramesh on national TV for his obsession with environmental laws. Though, his decision to surge ahead with the 9900 MW nuclear plant project in Jaitapur,Maharashtra propelled him in the epicentre of controversy, the bigger picture tells a different story. Jairam Ramesh, his gaffes notwithstanding, was assertive in putting environmental concerns ahead of India Inc. In his vendetta on behalf of the mangroves, he may have antagonised the elite who love the malls and airports instead.
Case 2- THE CURIOUS CASE OF VAYALAR RAVI
When Vayalar Ravi took over the reins from outgoing Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel in January, 2011, the humongous losses suffered by Air India stared blankly at him in the face. Losses pegged at almost Rs.720 crore then, Ravi’s biggest challenge was to restore the old glory of the national carrier. Air India, a monopoly at one time today is just a frail shadow of itself, retaining as much as 13% of the market share. Today, a passenger shudders before boarding an Air India flight. Delayed flights, bad timings, unreachable customer care rule the roost at Air India.
Six months, down the line, the bleeding carrier is contemplating approaching the RBI for a special waiver after defaulting on payment of service tax and interest, and owes to the tune of 48000 crore.
Vayalar Ravi is certainly not to be blamed for the mess. A certain Mr. Patel might take offence. But a sneak peek into the steps he has taken since his tenure, and Mr.Ravi cuts a sorry figure. He has done NOTHING, to hasten AI’s speedy recovery. In the last six months, there has been no positive signs from the ageing politician that could help us nourish hopes about the cash strapped airlines’ turn around. The AI obituary has been written. He is perhaps copy-editing it!
At this juncture, Dr. Manmohan Singh should have relieved Ravi of his duties and instead appointed a more dynamic, forthcoming person to script the aviation industry turnaround. Someone who could formulate ideas to tap profitable routes, ideate on rebuilding the brand and take eager steps in re-instilling the respect for AI in the minds of the jetsetters and the common class. But instead, he chose to retain Ravi. This shows utter lack of pro-activeness on the part of the PM.
Case 3: VILASRAO: BLOW TO PROPRIETY
Why is Vilasrao still in the Cabinet? – Is a question that journalists have asked for long. Former Maharashtra CM & recently nominated Minister of Science and Technology and Minister of Earth sciences is an accused in the infamous Adarsh Housing Scam for marking the Adarsh file as ‘tatkal’. A Mumbai collector testified against Deshmukh last week, thereby bringing his very integrity under the scanner. In such a scenario, the PM in a rarest show of propriety should gave handed over Deshmukh a VRS and instead inducted someone with adequate knowledge about the ambit of the ministry, someone who not just be a namesake minister but contribute to the pivotal role of the ministry in promoting science and technology in the country. Vilasrao, anyways has no remarkable achievement as a Rural Development Minister to vouch for.
Case 4- CABINET: RAHUL’S ABSENCE OF PRESENCE
Rahul Baba, for long has been looked upon as the ‘PM –in-waiting’ . The media’s blue eyed boy, Congress loyalists have never lost an opportunity in vouching for Rahul’s Prime Ministerial qualities on national TV. Their comments may have appeased Rahul’s mommy, but has he really proven himself at the national level. If the Congress is so affirmative about Rahul’s PM credentials, shouldn’t he have been given or rather compelled to take up a ministerial post to prove that’ the taste of the pudding is in the eating’? Merely shaking hands with villagers or eating at a Dalit household wouldn’t make him pass the acid test. The rule is simple: If you desire to become the captain of your team, be a part of the team first.
Rahul, as far as my memory serves has never openly craved for the PM’s post. But if he wishes to be the messiah of the farmers, why doesn’t he take up a post of responsibility and change things around. For heavens sake, the guy in 41 and has been in national politics for seven years. Mrs Gandhi, what stopped you from telling your boy to take up a position of responsibility and accountability in the government.
The Cabinet Reshuffle , thereby in my opinion is a tale of ‘missed opportunities’. Being the class monitor, he should have dealt with the bullies with an iron hand and encouraged those who showed spark of good work. Guess, the PM needs to go back to school!
Thursday, 7 July 2011
A word of caution at the very outset. For all those ‘hopeless romantics’ out there who believe that ‘Delhi Belly’ is going to revolutionise Hindi films are bound to be heartbroken. We would still make those mindless comedies and follow them up with sequels, bombard our audience with over the top action flicks and continue robbing the average middle class audience on the pretext of being ‘international’.
In the midst of the usual crass that hits the theatre every alternate Friday, ‘Delhi Belly’ is like a lease of fresh air. But only in a metaphorical way, as ‘Delhi Belly ‘unfolds in a derelict apartment amongst three friends; Tashi, a reporter waiting for the big leap in his profession(Imran) , Arup,a disinterested cartoonist trying to survive office blues( Vir Das) and Nitin, photographer trying to battle frantically against the sudden attacks of diarrhoea , which the British famously termed “Delhi Belly’’ . And while these three disoriented yet unique characters are struggling desperately to pay their rent, they land up in the middle of a smuggling racket, courtesy Tashi’s ever nagging fiancée(Shehnaz Treasury).
The plot is not inventive to say the least, but a tight script by Akshat Verma duly complimented by crisp editing makes it a refreshing watch. As warned by the filmmakers at every possible juncture during the promotional events, ‘Delhi Belly’ is replete with expletives and innuendo. But nowhere does the film denigrate to being crass as the narrative holds it and at the end of an enjoyable 90 minutes, its money well spent.
Delhi Belly derives its greatest strength from the effortless and spirited performances by the protagonists. Imran Khan plays the role of a reporter stuck between a dead-end job and an ever nagging fiancée with aplomb, while Vir Das strikes a chord with his natural yet understated histrionics. Kunal Roy Kapoor gives a stellar performance as the photographer afflicted with a serious stomach condition and may have already booked a spot in the Best Supporting Actor Category in all major award ceremonies next year. But, in my opinion it is Vijay Raaz who steals everyone’s thunder with his rendition of the role of a stoic gangster who conjures up all the ‘shit’ in the lives of our protagonists. He truly is one of the most underrated actors of the industry and deserves a lot more.
Abhinay Deo, whose maiden venture ‘Game’ was a disaster at the box office has been vindicated, and his direction exudes a fair amount of freshness and conviction. The music which is already a rage propels the movie ahead wonderfully.
In the end, just when you thought the credits have started rolling, and its time for you to make a move, you’d be bombarded with another shocker, which in every fairness, would make you, ‘shake that biscuit’.