Saturday, February 21, 2009

Crazy and Beautiful

Dev Dhillon is a spoilt punjabi kaka. His dad owns a sugar mill and is loaded. Parminder Kaur (alias Paro alias Chammak Challo) is the manager's daughter. The duo is madly in love and have every intent to get it on, marry, have children and continue to live on the sugar mill campus for ever. But destiny has other plans. As in the original, Paro and Dev never get together and Dev goes off on a drinking spree. He goes on his psycheldic way to perdition, doing bootleg drinks and drugs. He is thrown into the room of Chanda by Chunnilal who is her - as she succiently calls him - 'bhadva'.

The movie begins by delineating the stories of Paro, Dev and Chanda and then leaves us to follow Dev until he is done sowing his wild oats. The movie bows to the new generation (finally) and lets us know that they all experiement with sex, hot chatting, nude pics, porn. This does not mean they are depraved. It just means they are learning about life and how to cope with it. While parents just want the kids to discover life via the route they did, parents deciding the career graphs (what to take in 11th - Med, Non-med or Arts), pointing them to a career (doctor, engr, papa ka business, yaa phir nalayak bachchon ke liye Call Centre) , finding a girl/boy for them (Savita aunty ki beti, Puran uncle ka ladka), a lavish wedding, two cute kids (hopefully boys or atleast one boy one girl) and the kids are on a giddy spree through a life of their own, plotting things for their own children.

But Paro, Dev and Chanda have taken life into their own hands. They are spirited and can think for themselves. They are clear about their own sexuality and look bemused at the term - virginity - which is such a prize for the older generation. They are not interested in being 'Good'. Hence they turn into interesting characters, even if they are careening about, clueless about what to do next. They stop being characters and become metaphors of all that is restless within the human soul. Because, without this restlessness, we would never have seen progess and would still be living in caves.

The performances of all the three leads is superlative. Mahi Gill is perhaps way ahead of the rest with her uninhibited act as Paro. At one time, she is on the verge of tears and fighting to control herself. She presses her palms against her face, and the veins on her forehead stand out. It was a magnificent act. Even the glimpse of her taking off her bra to cater to her boyfriend's wish for a nude pic. Sadly, despite her fire, she is the first of the trio to go under, kowtow to tradition and marry an older man for security, love and money, even if it is to spite Dev.

Kalki looks perfect as a schoolgirl whose life spins out of control because her boyfriend was a such a creep. She is suddenly put in a tight spot and spends some time trying to get the situation in hand. Funnily enough, she finds security and identity as Chanda in a brothel. Here she can earn her keep during the night and study during the day.

Abhay is the hero and the quintessential questless man of this saga. He is content to drift and let things happen to him. I dont know if I can label him as a good actor, but he doesnt make any jarring moves, so I guess I can say he melts into the character. All Dev knows is that he needs more daru and more daru and wont say no to drugs either. It is Chanda who jolts him out of his self absorption. That and an epiphanic moment when he is this close to death.

The movie kicks away the model of heros and heroines as perfect characters. These are three normal people who make their own decisions and come back from the brink of sure perdition.

Despite the criticism meted out to it, I loved the music and wanted to pick up a cd right away. I want ALL the songs, not just 'emosonal atyachar'. They are all played out in the background, almost substituting the background music entirely.

A friend of mine said that if Anurag Kashyap took the same team and tried to re-do the movie he wont be able to make the same kind of thing. It is so unique that it just cannot be replicated. Here is a no-holds barred look at life.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

LBC - Kaun Banega Superstar

Movies on the movie industry have a peculiar charm about them. It is like turning a camera back to face yourself, or shooting your own feet. It is a time to reveal your warts. Zoya reveals the beauties and warts of the film industry with a gentle humour with Luck By Chance.

Vikram Jaisingh (Farhan) is a fairly good looking fellow (hot actually) who can emote well, dance well and has a good bod too. He has a couple of friends connected slightly to the movie industry. He has this childhood friend Abhimanyu (Arjun) who is a laid-back kind of a character. He does theater and has a hot neighbour, Sona (Konkona). He also hangs out with another friend who assists Mahesh Bhatt. Almost inadvertently, 'by chance' to borrow the title phrase, a grandfather clock sets things in motion for Vikram, and he winds up charming the right people, which leads him to a big break.

Our Vikram is not all sugar and sweet, he is out to be a superstar and he can be sans scruples when the occasion demands it. All the people in the industry are shown in an equal light, they are neither white nor black. The backbiting, the mediocrity, the manipulations are all shown with such a gentle humour that you are left giggling and marveling.

The story is like a slice of life and very complete. The characters are totally STANDOUT. There is not one character I would cut out of the movie. Dimple, Juhi, Rishi are the stellar seniors, though Juhi looks mint fresh as Minty. Dimple is grace personified as ever, and her acting is flawless as ever. Rishi is now getting the kind of roles he deserved. He is an emotional, Punjabi, old time producer who can shed crocodile tears at the drop of a pin. He wolfs down paranthas with his diet food. Isha Shravani as Nikki,  the debutante heroine  and the daughter of an yesteryear's superstar is perfect. She looks exactly like a pampered teenager who has had everything on a platter.

If the characters are a standout, I don't have words to describe the script and dialogues. They are simply PERFECT. The dialogues are fun and funny without being smart ass. I am dying to reveal the one about khoon and murder. But won't. No point in spoiling others' fun. The story moves so well, and is so well done, that I feel its one of the best scripts ever in a film industry.

The acting is superlative, the cast is definitely ensemble, especially as the hero of this movie is not there to hog footage, but to make a good movie.

May I please compare this movie with Dil Chahta Hai? Of course DCH is fun personified and one of the best movies out of Hindi film industry, but still I didn't quite like the Preity-Amir tamasha at the end of it. It was too dramatic. And I also had a bit of a quarrel about the opulence of sets, the attempt to create a 'designer' look. These two faults are totally avoided in LBC, there is no attempt at opulence, and the look is strictly according to the situation. The clothes of the characters and the sets are just perfect.

Alright, that comparison above was a bit out of line, Farhan and Zoya are brother and sister, but they are entitled to their own movie making styles.

I had a bone to pick with Sona (Konkona) opting to drop out of the rat race at the end.  By doing so, Sona shows that you cannot survive in the film industry unless you are willing to play dirty.  The message it gives out is that when someone uses you, you just use them back.  If you cannot do that, go away. Also, I am sure television world has as much dirty politics going on as the film world.