Bollywood Movies, Crime, Popular, Recently Posted

Gangs of Wasseypur (Part 1) directed by Anurag Kashyap

00-Gangs-Of-Wasseypur-2012-VMR-Covers-Album-Art Gangs of Wasseypur, for me, is a landmark in Hindi movies. There has been quite a few path breaking movies which have come recently – Taare Zameen Par, Udaan to Dhobi Ghat, Kahaani and Paan Singh Tomar recently, which have slowly started creating a market for movies with strong unique stories. Gangs of Wasseypur will be among the top in this list and will also have a few uniques to its name

I don't recall a Hindi movie that was intended to be produced in two parts from the start, different from a sequel. Which is a gamble. Since if the first half does not catch on, the second one will have no takers. But this confident gamble seems to have worked out for Kashyap and his cast

And another thing about Gangs of Wasseypur is that the whole universe of the movie is in a very believable hellhole of rural India. In the genre of movies dealing with gangs and the underworld, started primarily by Ram Gopal Verma, most have dealt with urban gangs, mostly Mumbai based. The fact that India has a very rich tradition of banditry and mafia culture across its length and breadth has been largely ignored till now except in superficial ways. This criminal culture is heavily intertwined with local politicians and police, to be almost indistinguishable from them. This has usually been shown in a very fantastical light – e.g. Singham, Rajnikant movies etc. These have never really got into the teeth of the matter.

Gangs of Wasseypur completely rips away this curtain of shallowness and presents to us a story which is completely raw and bloody and completely believable. Local mafia in a rural town of India is shown exactly how it is – driven by history, sustained by opportunistic politics, driven to a frenzy by a people who know no other way to survive. The characters are in a world where there is no moral compass of right or wrong. The right or wrong is completely dependent on who is on top and who has the muscle. Might wins at the end, no matter what else you put up at the table. You either fight and hope to win or you are suppressed by a heavier boot everyday. If Paan Singh Tomar was about banditry – outlaws who are forced to take up arms for dignity or revenge, Gangs of Wasseypur is all about the choice of a lifestyle. There is a revenge aspect all right but its mostly about gaining power, money and fame.

There is no sugar coating in the world of Gangs of Wasseypur. You swear, fuck around, kill people with a knife, gun or agangs-houseful bomb depending on the day, intimidate the police, earn a cut from illegal mining and hack bodies. Sometimes all in a single day! And nobody will think of asking for a justification nor will any be offered. Things are right or wrong just because, well, it is and because the guy on top said so.

The rawness of this world is something that is seen to be believed. Many people will be turned away by what they see as  'excessive' violence. I differ. There is no unnecessary violence at all in the movie. Each kill drives the story forward and I didn't find any violence for violence sake. In any case the whole point of Gangs of Wasseypur is that there is a continuous war outside your door. Do you sit back or dream or do you kill to love yourself? For those who like sanitized violence, watch the highly stylized violence of Singham. Gangs of Wasseypur is real. Deal with it

What increases the realism is the fact that real stories make up the Gangs of Wasseypur storyline – stylized and adapted for the screen. So you know right from the time that they show the history of Wasseypur (from 1941), you are dealing with real stuff. And talking of realism, the acting is something that needs to be seen to be believed. There are no ‘extras’ in this movie. Each character has a role to play, a story to tell of their own. Each in its own way takes the story forward. Manoj Bajpayee, the central character in this first part, shines as the complex gangster who kills to save a 335437-interview-with-zeishan-quadri-writer-of-gangs-of-wasseypurwoman’s modesty and sleeps around blatantly cheating on his wife, at the same time. The galaxy of talented stars around him – Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Jaideep Ahlawat, Tigmanshu Dhulia, Reemma Sen, Richa Chadda, Huma Qureshi are all deliciously rural Bihar – sing song dialect with the choicest swearwords, homemade revolvers and all. They get completely  into the story. Not for the characters of Gangs of Wasseypur the superficiality of mere rural clothes over urban behavior. These guys walk, talk and fuck like guys in Gangs of Wasseypur should!!

A special note about the music. Sneha Khanwalkar is truly a force of nature when it comes to extracting music from noise and creating amazing sounds. In Gangs of Wasseypur, she has created some ground-breaking music. Music created from emigrant history and localized, the music is something of a revelation. Listening to them separately, the music of this movie is a collector’s item in itself

Gangs of Wasseypur brings something quite different to cinema. All I can say is that I cant wait for Part II. This review will be complete only then

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paan-singh-tomar
Bollywood Movies, Popular, Thriller

Paan Singh Tomar directed by Tigmanshu Dhulia

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Paan Singh Tomar makes for good movie recipe…a national sports champion turning bandit to avenge injustice

Like a desi Robin Hood

Paan Singh Tomar, the movie, is also a sad testimony to the fact that unless he had turned bandit, a movie would not have been made on him. Not if he had broken a thousand sports record

The movie itself proves what the movie tries to say.

Ironic

The real Paan singh But it makes for a great script. And with the irrepressible Irrfan Khan in the lead role, you can expect the screen to come alive. And it does. Irrfan Khan brings to Paan Singh Tomar an amused dead pan humour that suits both Paan Singh the athlete and the Paan Singh the bandit

Like Paan Singh Tomar says in the beginning, while giving an interview – “dacait to parliament me hai, hum to baagi hai” (dacoits are in parliament, I am an outlaw)

 

Its the same Paan Singh Tomar who readily joined the army sports team because he was told that he could eat as much as want without limits

The movie starts off with a flashback, while giving an interview to a local newspaper, of how he first becomes a national steeplechase champion, creating records that will stand for decades and then how a disillusioned Paan Singh turned bandit to avenge his land grabbing of his ancestral property

There is good rhythm in the first part as we see the rustic youth in the army turning into an athlete. His talents as anPaan singh soldier inexhaustible runner is soon recognized and he goes on to represent India at the Asian Games. He is a good family man and is content with loving his wife and his children. Mahie Gill as his wife plays the perfect supporting role – a wife who will support Paan Singh no matter what and who understands why he has to act the way he did.

The first half ends with the transformation of Paan Singh Tomar as he is pushed into what has been both the curse and the blessing of Chambal valley. Turning bandit is both an act of liberation and defiance and an act of desperation. And Paan Singh tries his damn hardest to defy his fate – going through all ‘proper channels’ to try and get his issue resolved.

He even tries to use his sports medal to try and persuade. In a heart-wrenching moment when his medals are thrown away by an openly corrupt police inspector, Paan Singh finally sees the truth. He sees the only way open…

Mocked and derided at every turn by a compromised establishment, facing apathy by even the district collector, Paan Singh does what many men and women before him had done and what many after him will do – he turns to the only route that will give him justice. Through the barrel of a gun

The second half is his journey as a bandit – from taking his revenge to finally falling to police bullets, refusing to surrender till the end.

The second half is also the story of the sheer futility that he faces as he realizes that he has to be always on the run. Even if he completes his revenge, he realizes, there is no going back. Paan Singh Tomar will only run for his life now. He can never again run for sport. As he gains notoriety and his gang becomes big, he knows that he only has to go forward. That this was the life chosen for him. Not by him but chosen for him.

I do have an issue with the second part. It seemed a little incomplete. The Paan Singh we could relate to in the first half paan_singh_tomar_20120319 seemed to disappear somewhat in the second half. The storytelling in the second part dealt more with action than with the man. We see he becomes a bandit but what we don't see what it does to him. Except for a few scattered dialogues, we don't see the dilemma much. The man who loved his family to bits – does he not miss the wife that he loved so much? If he did and I am sure he did, that fact never makes an appearance. We know that he realizes the futility of it all but Irrfan Khan as the Paan Singh Tomar on screen does not share it with us.

However the second half is action packed and the chase that ensues between Paan Singh and his main nemesis is one the most riveting moment. Especially when Paan Singh uses the same strategy to run over obstacles as he did when he ran for India – the tragedy of his situation could not have been made starker

The end is shot with care and the very last that we see of Paan Singh leaves you with a good closure…

Another thing to note is that the dialogues are almost completely in rustic dialect. This is a great move. Since you understand what is being said well enough, the dialect gives a very earthy and real feel to the movie. You can almost feel how Paan Singh must have talked

Overall, Paan Singh Tomar is a welcome direction that Hindi movies are taking. India is filled with folklore and mythical figures.Chambal folklore especially has never been exploited as it should have been. Man Singh, Putli Bai cry out for a245909-paan-singh-tomar portrayal on the screen. We really don't need to go to exotic locales or dance in Greece or in front of pyramids to get audiences anymore

Paan Singh Tomar's success is testimony to the fact that the we, the audience today, want a good story told. And we want a a sincere movie not a fluff in the wind…

This one really should not be missed. Irrfan Khan as Paan Singh Tomar will leave quite a mark on you… and so will the ending credits, when you realize just how many sportsmen have been neglected to death. Makes the movie even more telling…

This is a good article that I found on the web post the movie release – well written piece on a journalists journey today to Paan Singh's homeland

Times crest article – here

and a Frontline article related to Chambal dacoits – here

What do you think?

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Bollywood Movies, Popular

Kahaani directed by Sujay Ghosh

Kahaani Vidya BalanYou get an immense shock of a revelation. A twist that leaves you grappling with the realization that you have been taken on a merry go round for the 99% of the movie.

 

All the beliefs and convictions that you had built up during watching the movie is shattered completely. You start seeing the whole story from a radically different perspective and you get that A-ha moment when you pinpoint the places that you were taken for a ride. And you realize that there were no flaws and that indeed there were two stories running in parallel – one which you were being told and one that was actually happening

 

The best of the suspense thriller aims to do exactly this. Ask Hitchcock. And as any avid movie watcher knows, such movies are truly hard to find. Among Hindi movies, one that springs to mind is "Kaun", featuring Urmila Matondkar and to some extent "Khamosh" starring Naseerudin Shah.

 

What do you get when you start off with a terrorist attack, then get a pregnant woman searching for a missing husband in the crumbling magical city of Kolkata, a mole in the Intelligence beareau and a race against time to uncover a mystery that seems to become15NXG_KAHAANI_951357f unsolvable by the minute? You get "Kahaani" or a "Story". And unless you see the end, you would not know what a perfect yarn has been scripted

 

After seeing "Kahaani" one can say with belief that this one will go down as one of the best well made movie of this genre. Not only is the story impeccable, not only is the premise well thought through but what makes the "Kahaani" complete is the environment. The sounds, sights, the camera work, the music, the hotel room, the chase through the alley way, the puja preparation, the poignant flashbacks. Everything makes this a complete delightful package

 

And a big part of the environment is the city in which everything takes place – Kolkata.

 

Kolkata is a magical place for a lot of reasons. But the Kolkata brought alive in "Kahaani" is truly a delight. By turns eerie, by turns old world charm, always colorful both in characters and happenings, Kolkata in "Kahaani" is one helluva interesting place. And for once the Kolkata depicted is not the cliché Kolkata depicted in movies like "City of Joy" or the invisible one in "Yuva". The sights and sounds and the people are much more authentic than anything else you have seen.

 

The characters in "Kahaani" gives it the special edge that a movie. Bob, the harmless looking Still-from-Kahaani insurance agent who is actually a hitman is probably one of the creepiest character to be shown on screen; Rana, a newbie Kolkata sub-inspector, who starts off getting involved out of a sense of gallantry and then gets enmeshed in something much more sinister; Khan – the Intelligence guy who is a ruthless pragmatist.

 

And Vidya or as the Bengalis keep insisting – Bidya. Vidya Balan is truly an actor to watch out for. The sheer versatility she is capable of not only shows in the difference between her "Dirty Picture" and "Kahaani" but also within "Kahaani". By parts vulnerable, by parts pragmatic, by parts manipulative, by parts teasing, "Kahaani" is a powerful vindication of Vidya Balan's ability to carry a movie completely on her shoulders. Never did you feel the need for a hero, so completely she dominates the story. It helps of course that she had a powerful story and a talented cast to back her up. But nonetheless, take Vidya Balan out of the movie, there would be a glaring vacuum.

 

Vidya as the pregnant woman searching for a husband who for all purposes seems to have abandoned her is one of the most memorable character in recent Hindi movie history. She kahaani-cinema-038manages to exact your sympathy and your awe at the same time as she struggles against an  advanced pregnancy to follow up every lead on her missing husband. And as she slowly gets enmeshed in a much bigger plot, as her life comes under danger, you get involved completely in trying to solve the mystery for her, working out every possible angle in your head

 

Every possible angle except the one that is right!!!

 

The ending makes this perfect movie complete. The five minutes of shock you experience as you digest what has been revealed is worth every paisa you have spent in getting that movie theatre seat or in buying the DVD…

 

This is a movie that can be enjoyed only in its seeing. Nothing else comes close. Just go and see it!!

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Bollywood Movies, Documentary

Inshallah Kashmir directed by Ashvin Kumar

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Inshallah-Kashmir-poster-movie-online Banned in India by the ever faithful Big Brother of a censor board, the director took the unprecedented step of releasing this online (apparently there is no law against releasing something online…yet).
 
Ashvin actually opened it up for download for one day – on 26th January, the Republic Day. That’s quite a symbolic gesture!!
 
And once you see this you know why…
 
Which is why you need to see it
 
It has been the practice of all governments to try and dictate what we must see and hear and there us always an effort by all governments to make the public buy into their version of current and historical events.
And there has been an increasing virulence of intolerance by self-appointed patriots whose sense of injustice bleed too easily. Look at what happened to Symbiosis university’s Kashmir seminar “Voices of Kashmir”, which was cancelled due to the ‘fatwa’ by the right wing fringe.
 
And Kashmir is one topic which will always invoke strong reactions. And this is one topic which will always see an effort to give the ‘official’ version of the story
 
 
In Kashmir, Ashvin Kumar has taken different interviews from a wide variety of people to give a very different perspective of Kashmir, different from what the self-censored mainstream media would not give.
 
Through the interview, Ashvin talks gives a feel of the history of Kashmir and why so many things that we see today has roots in events kashmir missing people that happened long time ago, even as long ago as Akbar. But more recently due to the allegedly rigged elections in 1990. During the whole length, all the topics, deemed too controversial for our sensitive ears are brought into the open – rigged elections, army and police brutality, excesses on civilians, mainstream indifference, the Kashmiri Pandit exodus
 
The people interviewed include ex-militants, current militants, former Kashmir administrator Wajahat Habibullah, Nobel nominated activist Parveena Ahangar (who has struggled for two decades to raise attention to thousands of missing people, or as she calls it ‘enforced disappearances’), Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, a Hindu Pandit couple who were kidnapped by militants
 
Perhaps the most controversial interview was that of women of village of Kunan Poshpura, who were raped by the Indian army personnel on 23rd February 1991.
 
It is almost taboo in India to talk about excesses by the Indian Security forces, as if they are somehow fundamentally different from armies in rest of the world. In a situation of warfare where you have absolute inshallah-kashmir ex militantcontrol over life and death decisions, its a power that corrupts easily. So to expect the Indian army to somehow be made of supermen of  morals is to believe a whole hypocrisy.
 
There were no holy cows who were spared. Its not only the army and the Indian government who are brought to the dissecting tables, the people on the other side – the militants are brought here too.
 
Ashvin tries to show that there are  no good guys or bad guys. There are only situations and there is only human nature. People, be they the idealistic youth who took to militancy or the common soldier, act according to the prism they are shown. The militants see the Indians as invaders who use guns to silence Kashmir. The soldiers see the militants as an extension of Pakistan, the enemy who is an enemy because they always have been.
 
Importantly, what ‘Inshallah Kashmir’ catches brilliantly are the ordinary people who are caught in the middle. The women searching for 20 years for their missing children, husbands and brothers, who are all most certainly dead. The women who were raped just because they were vulnerable enough. The aspiring young cartoonist who was made to feel a terrorist in his country’s capital just because he was Kashmiri, the budding cricketer who lost a leg just because he was caught in a demonstration, the militant who was disillusioned with both sides of the conflict, the kidnapped couple who helped their captors escape because they understood that the army could not…
 
Inshallah Kashmir shows that that we are far from making any solutions in Kashmir. Instead of winning over people, we are subjecting a new generation of Kashmiris to only one image of India – that of a rifle and Army boots. How can we make it better from that?
 
asvin kumar inshallah Kashmir The documentary has a very raw feel to it – almost as if the director wanted to maintain the immediacy of the videos taken. It is almost as if its something that you could have taken. Its one the main reasons you get drawn to ‘Inshallah Kashmir’. It puts you behind the camera and brings you into the lives of the people that the censor board didn't want you to see…

 

 

 

 
 
It is important that you see this. Its good to have your beliefs challenged.
Catch the whole documentary here…
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

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rajneeti
Bollywood Movies, Drama, Popular

Rajneeti directed by Prakash Jha

Prakash Jha Rajneeti Wallpaper Ok, this is a review that I had been wanting to write ever since I saw it three weeks back. In that time, I saw, much to my surprise, that it was becoming a grosser…I wonder why…
But first of all my impression. It is plainly apparent that Jha is a big fan of the Godfather series and that he has borrowed heavily from the movie (he admitted as such – he used the word ‘inspired’ not borrowed though). In the mixture, he also put in themes from Mahabharata.
For someone who has literally grown up on the cult classics like the Godfather (both the movie and the book – both masterpieces in their own right), ‘Rajneeti’ proved to be a sort of a farcical déjà vu.
Scenes have been lifted unapologetically from the movies – the hospital scene, the horse head scene , the killing of the traitor in the car, the shooting of the don, the car bomb scene which effectively combined the Sonny shooting scene and the death of Pacino’s pregnantthe_godfather_movie_image_al_pacino__3_ wife, the transformation of the reluctant youngest son to the ruthless don…though none of them came close to the drama of the original
It was really too much. He should have just labelled the movie – ‘Rajneeti – Godfather scenes included’ or something. I don't quite fathom how someone like Jha could stoop so low to become akin to Anu Malik of direction. Either he thinks that the Indian audience wont care that the movie that they are seeing is a rip off (in which he seems to be dead right) or that the majority have  not seen the original or both…unfortunately, he seems to be right…
 

Rajneeti2 The question to be asked is – could one relate to it? A police inspector slapping the member of the one of the most powerful political families in India?A gang-war happening within a political party which ends up decimating everyone? I mean really, what works in the environment of Mafia ridden New York of 1940s transplanted into the Indian political environment seems absurd. You don't kill powerful opponents in the middle of the road – its not Corleone vs. Tattaglias. I mean imagine Sushma Swaraj and Uma Bharti going out on physical decimation wars. Police inspectors don't slap heirs to the political thrones, as they might have done to heirs to mafia families on the decline.
And I don't see the similarity to Congress that everyone kept talking about. True, every effort was made to make Kaif look like Sonia Gandhi (the wave especially and the accented Hindi coming naturally) and her rajneeti husband was assassinated but that's that…Just pre-launch hype.
The end result? I just remember multiple scenes of Mahindra Scorpios screaming their sirens coming into identical looking mansions and people with a put on air of mystery and menace streaming in. This scene must have looked admirable enough for the director to have repeated it atleast three dozen times. I also remember lot of individual scenes which seemed to have been stitched together just because they looked good in godfather (and made perfect sense there though sadly, not here). I was almost cringing as waves of déjà vu washed over me.
And as I said,  in the sad admixture, Jha puts in elements of Mahabharata – of Draupadi and Karn (or Karan). Again, the scenes seemed forced. Put in because it suited somebody’s fancy and not because it had to make sense.
The acting was terrible except to some extent from Ranbeer, though the transformation was not convincing as in the case of Pacino. Patekar looked the part maybe because these are the roles he usually does – so bvhvoutside the comfort zone for him. Kaif was wooden and Manoj Bajpai  was excruciatingly over the top. Devgan did not have the meat in the role to make an impact. And I didnt quite figure out why they put Naseerudin Shah in the credits…He had barely five minutes and his contribution consisted solely of siring an illegitimate child.
The plot made no sense. One thread did not follow the other. Truthfully, if it was a series, would have made more sense. Three odd hours was too short for all that was shown to be given meat. By the time, the movie winded to a halt after some senseless twists and turns, I was so weary and nauseated, I wanted to take a stiff drink.
And then it turns out that it was a hit!!! I think that the reason would be that we don't have a mature political genre for the movies. The last movie in that genre was the excellent and sophisticated “HazaaronHazaaronKhwaisheinAisi Khwaishein Aisi”. The genre and the look and feel of the movie is different from the usual stable. Plus we are political without knowing it and it seemed like a movie that would mix politics and intrigue – a deadly combination!!! Plus for someone who hasnt devoured Godfather, some of the scenes would look very interesting and arresting…More film makers should look at this genre and more of the “Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi” please. “Rajneeti” would not be more than attractive junk for more mature audiences…
So Jha wins on the back of the inexperience of the movie going public…alls fair in politics and movie making it seems…

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raat-gayi-baat-gayi Neha dhupia
Bollywood Movies, Comedy

Raat Gayi Baat Gayi directed by Saurabh Shukla

raat-gayi-baat-gayi Well, this is another from the stable of the team that gave us movies like “Dasvidaniya” and “Mityha”. And you like this one for the same reasons you liked the others – its quirky, has a story told differently and it has actors that look good together. It has a very urban setting and deals with people who look and act real. The songs are different and blend in nicely with the movie unlike other commercial movies where the songs are a movie in themselves. And yes Neha Dhupia looks hot, with or without the backless dress!!!

The story is about a party and how Rajat Kapoor just cant seem to remember whether he did it with Neha Dhupia, a girl whose name is fake and whose phone number he might just be able to remember. He40109-a-still-image-from-the-movie-raat-gayi-baat-gayi wakes up in the morning with a terrible hangover to find his wife behaving very strangely. So starts the day in which the mystery is unravelled. Of course that is not the only thing that seems to have happened at the party. And Rajat Kapoor’s relationship is not the only one to become somehow rocky after the party.

What I liked about the story is how the story seems so utterly real. The  problems, the reactions, the fears of the people involved all seem like things that you would mimic in a similar situation. The three couples are different but yet have something very similar. The movie does well to bring the nuances of the relationships out…

RaatGayiBaatGayi_Still1 The characterization is not very deep but is not necessary for the movie. You get to know enough about everyone to bring out the flesh and blood in the characters and to make you relate to them.

A special mention about the humour. Its understated and very natural, like a normal conversation you would have with your friends…

By the time you end with the movie, I realized how much I enjoyed it. Its not in the parts of the movie or any particular scene that makes it but the whole sum of it, together…

Hoping that this team brings out more and more movies. They are such a welcome break from the normal Bollywood costly junk…

 

 

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