Monday, January 15, 2007


Directed by Mani Ratnam

Writing credits:

Anurag Kashyap (dialogue)
Mani Ratnam (story)

Genre: Drama / Romance
Credited cast:
Abhishek Bachchan .... Gurukant Desai
Aishwarya Rai .... Sujatha
Madhavan .... Shyam Saxena
Vidya Balan .... Meenu

Mithun Chakraborty .... Manikdas Gupta

Mallika Sherawat .... Jhumpa


Who does not want to be independent? Who does not want to control one's own destiny? Who does not want to carve a niche for oneself? Everyone does. But there are some who answer the above correctly and dream on and then there are others who go on to make it a reality. Gurukant Desai (Abhishek) is one such person.

Partly driven by his ever-pessimistic dad's incessant taunts, Gurukant, who likes to be called Guru, orients his life's goal to make it big...real big. Driven by a stint during his early years in Turkey, Guru is hell-bent on being an independent businessman in a field that people hesitate to take risks -- yarn trading. In that bargain, he decides to play with lives, others' that is. To raise capital money for his new venture, he decides to get married to his friend's sister Sujatha (played by Aishwarya) and use the dowry gained as part of that. It's a coincidence (in the movie) that the girl turns out to be the same one who he met on his train ride back to his village -- when she was planning to make a run for it with her lover, who in fact had chickened out.

Guru irradiates revolutionary thinking. Cotton being the norm of the day, it would apparently be foolhardy to play with people's choices, but he thinks otherwise and starts to trade in polyester instead -- a great gamble, fetching him returns that make the gamble look minuscule in comparison. His rise is simply meteoric and it's not long before his fame and wealth are rivaling each other to rise higher. It's interesting to see how Mani Ratnam captures the initial hardships that Guru has in getting a foothold in the industry; the very issues that he overcomes using the one thing that seems to be a solution to every impediment: money.

Sujatha learns of her husband's dowry-capital scheme and moves back to the village. Guru's march into the corporate world continues but he yearns for her and the feeling in mutual and they are re-united soon after a song. These few scenes reinforce how Guru considers Sujatha to be his pillar of strength for everything he has achieved so far and everything he seeks to achieve. At this point, Abhishek's performance has just started to show a glimpse of what is to come. It is Aishwarya who has been able to play the perfect foil to Abhi's role. In Ash's own words in a post-movie interview, it is completely Abhi's show...and the rest is yet to come!

Manikdas (Mithun) makes a nice entry as the owner of the daily newspaper and is instrumental to get Guru his first break. Manikdas essays the role of the guru, until he crosses the line of truth himself in his quest for success. Vidya Balan plays Meenu, the girl with multiple sclerosis and Manikdas' grand-daughter, who soon becomes the Guru's pet and she is showered with the same love that Guru would have for his own children.

But when Guru crosses over to the "dark" side, Manikdas along with his able journalist employee Shyam Saxena (played by Madhavan) takes on the might of Guru, his power, fame and the strength of money. What follows then is an interesting tale of how the pen is mightier than the sword, how love conquers physical disabilities and the resolution of one man to not hear "no" for an answer.

If you noticed, most of the above review highlighted the title character and rightly so -- this is Abhiskek's movie as Guru. The choice of characters and their acting have been done very nicely to not take away the crux of the movie. It is one man's fight against himself in the end. It is of great relief that Abhishek has come of age with this movie. One grouse though, that I will have against Mani Ratnam is to always focus the camera too close to the face of the characters, for e.g. seeing the tear drop flow down the face and into the mouth. Imagine seeing this on the big screen. I'm pretty sure there are subtler ways to present the same emotion to the audience. The makeup-less characters are a nice change to the powder-laden faces; Mani Ratnan has always emphasized naturalness in his movies.

Also, please do not go to see this movie just for Mallika Sherawat. She is wasted in one completely unnecessary song and is practically non-existent...and if you have read this far, it just wouldn't matter whether this movie is indeed based on DhiruBhai Ambani's just wouldn't matter.

I would definitely mark this movie as a one-time watch. Don't have too much of expectations on the music (although, Rahman's music always catches on late after the movie releases). Be prepared for some lame last minute lame dialogues but the hospital scenes of Abhishek will bring back nostalgic memories of Amitabh. A son following in the father's footsteps? Only time will tell...

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Official site

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Dhoom 2

Also Known as: D:2 - Back in Action
Runtime: 152 min
Language: English / Hindi
Genre: Action / Thriller
Directed by Sanjay Gadhvi
Produced by Aditya Chopra
Original Music by Pritam Chakraborty (as Pritam)
Salim Merchant (as Salim)
Suleman Merchant (as Sulaiman)
Hrithik Roshan .... Aryan Singh/Mr A.
Aishwarya Rai .... Sunehiri
Abhishek Bachchan .... Jai Dixit
Uday Chopra .... Ali Akbar Fateh Khan

Bipasha Basu .... ACP Sonali Bose

Rimi Sen .... Sweety Dixit

For fans of Dhoom 1, this larger than life movie will serve as a great thirst quencher. Action, comedy (minus Uday Chopra) and even some suspense has been built into this blockbuster of the year, which has been possible because of a very powerful storyline strong enough to keep it going for two movies with the same theme: Thief-fools-cop-fools-thief.

Indeed, it comes as no surprise then that most of the original hit cast has been maintained. In comes Hrithik "Macho" Roshan who steals the show from start to end. It's entirely his show and he makes the other "heroes" look like cameo stars, just put in place so that the movie need not be rechristened "Hrithik 2".

The bikes are yet another feature of this movie that make it pulsating and keep the viewers on the edge of their seats. Now, which cops have we seen riding such trendy bikes in a hypothetical question altogether. The villains, though, always seem to out-run, out-play, out-and-out take the cops for a ride. I wasn't at all surprised when I read a news article about thieves in Punjab telling the cops that they have been highly influenced by this movie.

Hrithik is a classy villain. He has been portrayed as a master of techno-gadgets which get used effectively in the movie, his rippling muscles themselves make him a force to reckon with, a true master of disguise (revealed in the first 10 minutes of the movie), and of course, a great dancer (Hey come on! Villains need to relax and chill out too!). It would have been tough to say who would have been a better villain: Shah Rukh (who was supposedly in consideration) or Hrithik, but I prefer Hrithik so as to avoid an over-dose of a negative Shah Rukh K-k-k-khan, especially after DON.

No premise has been as to why Mr. A (Hrithik) starts to make these robberies, that are globally spread out except a pattern that (who else!) Jai Dixit (Abhishek) is able to pinpoint. And guess where the next target is? Mumbai! After the failure to thwart that attempt, there is the introduction of Sunehiri (Aishwarya), with her irritating addition of the word "like" in most of her sentences.

e.g.) "Sunehiri ne to like faisla kar liya hain...". The audience cries -- Why? Why?!

One thing to her credit is that she has lost oodles of weight and with her a new tanned skin look, oozes tremendous oomph. Kudos to her for that. In fact, I don't think baring Hrithik and Aishwarya, anybody can get away with a dialogue in the movie like: "So, are you checking me out?"

Jai Dixit is a shadow of his original self from the first Dhoom, who doesn't seem to care two hoots about his pregnant wife, Sweety (Rimi) whose only job in the world is to complain. I now realize why Jay is shown as a grumpy police fella throughout the movie; the only smile on his face is when he sees Sonali (Bipasha). Hello?! Bipasha is this gun totting bimbette who is a lady-cop wearing a banyan and roaming about and I don't blame the male cops at all for ogling at her. Unfortunately her brain is pea-sized, which I guess is a compromise that gets made when bimbettes join the Indian Police Service. The worse is yet to come. The second half of the movie, Sonali gives way to her twin sister in Brazil, whose brain is virtually non-existent. And then the audience screams again -- Why? Why?!

Let me not even get started about Uday Chopra, playing the role of Ali. This 5 feet something midget, built like an Ox, is the ever I-am-funny-cop, who seems to have a smile even when there's a gun to his temple. Even though his acting and dance steps have dramatically improved since his last few movies, I will find it surprising if he gets acting offers from any movie outside the Yash-Raj banner. In any movie, it's all about how well you perform in relation to the others. Uday Chopra, I'm happy to say, is able to show a little credibility in his comic sequences, much unlike Jai, who thinks he is he new Ajay Devgan, to carry on a serious role with some hint of comic taste -- sorry, you are not yet there, in fact, there's a very deep chasm you need to cross Mr. Bachchan Jr.

It would virtually not make sense trying to outline any part of the plot here, since it's all the usual police-thief chase, but the plot has been very nicely laid out with thrilling action sequences.

In closing, if Hrithik ranks 5 stars, Ash would come second with 3 stars, and others would each end up getting 1. A statutory warning to Abhishek fans is to not see his dance steps in this movie, otherwise you would end up crying until you reach home. It's not his fault -- Hrithik is too good and the human mind simply can't stop comparing. It's worth a one time "dekko", maybe two simply because of the awesome breathtaking sequences and charismatic Hrithik and the improved Ash; others can simply be skipped.

Official site