Temper movie review

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In a cricket centric country like India, the common tendency is to compare knocks played by different cricketers. It is , a certainty, then, that these things lead to a few arguments. Thankfully, the other passion in India- movies- doesn’t lead to such arguments. We have the directors to thank for that.

Puri Jagannath has directed 25 movies before this. Most or all of them have the protagonist playing a loud mouth. The heroes in the Telugu movie industry want to act in a movie directed by Puri Jagannath, because he elevates the hero character in his movies like no other. Simply put, he is the director that every hero wants to act under.

So, with such a database, his own movies, at hand, it’s obvious that he would try to do the simple comparisons that a cricket crazy fan would do. Probably his comparison would be how a specific hero would have performed in that role and how a hero would perform if he were to enact his previous role.

Probably out of such comparisons was born Temper which seems like a rehash of Businessman and Rakhee.  Yes, it has all the elements that a typical Puri movie has, but, as a friend of mine said, and as I felt, the first half was entirely NTR trying to prove that he can fit in the same shoes as Mahesh Babu. Well, he did come into his own in the second half, but the film as a huge sized ‘Businessman’ hangover all over it. Probably that’s the exact reason why the presence of Kajal Aggarwal doesn’t help.

***

NTR has been without a hit for quite some time. He has tried his hand at routine entertainers and failed. He then combines with a man who gave him one of the biggest disasters in life and succeeds. Does the movie give him everything that he wants from it? The answer is probably no. Does it give his legions of fans everything that they want from him? Partly yes, maybe. The title song has probably the best moves from him in a long time. Viewed in isolation, his performance was good too, but as mentioned before it somehow reminds us of Mahesh Babu.

Every movie that I watch of NTR strengthens my belief that with him, the sum is never equal to the parts. The best dancer in the industry, the best actor in the industry and the person with the best dialogue delivery in the industry. Though he is the best individually, he ain’t quite the numero uno in the industry. He is further down in the pecking order than that.

You don’t need further evidence than watching the audio release function of the movie to realise how desperate he was for a hit. Hype doesn’t help him and he doesn’t seem to realise that. His movies release with immense hype and fail to set the cash registers ringing- most of the time.

Like Pawan Kalyan had a turn in his fortunes with Gabbar Singh, NTR too deserves one, but does he have the chutzpah to choose a script that needs him to shed a lot of chains he is bound by?

He is very good with the emotional scenes in the movie and doesn’t break a sweat in most of the scenes. His scenes with Posani Krishna Murali are very good in the first half. Posani acts as his conscience keeper and the scene where the character and the conscience converge is one of the best scenes in the movie.

One of the biggest comforts in the movie is the relatively short role for Ali. His roles are usually reserved by Puri for entendre and vulgar gestures. We are also helped by the censor board as they have been quite liberal in chopping the dialogues that might have had us squirming.

***

The penchant of Puri Jagannath to use vulgarity as a tool to sell his film is not unknown. This film has less of that and rightly so. When the language used in Neninthe was abusive, I thought it was in keeping with the people that he purported to show. But it became a common fixture in all his movies. Gone was the loveable rascal nature of his heroes. Instead we had people whom we would love to hate in his movies as heroes.

Kajal Aggarwal comes in lesser scenes than Madhurima, if we remove the songs. The others acquaint themselves well.

Yes, the pre-climax twist. Probably hearing about it dampened the shock factor for me as I knew there was something coming but never knew what it was. It is unique too.

In cricketing terms, this movie described as a match, would be a match where it meandered along all the way, only to come to life in the final few overs of an ODI. All of it because one batsman decides to go kaboom! But then it would always be compared to innings that came before it and that’s where it would pale!

Verdict: A movie that became a hit because NTR wanted it to be a hit and the people obliged. It’s time he obliges and gives people what they have been rooting for

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Cricket, friends and fun

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World Cup. I am always reminded of 2003 edition whenever the mention of a World Cup is made. It was, simply, the best World Cup I saw. It helped that, Australia, my favourite team, were undefeated in the tournament. It got off to a worst start possible with the suspension of Shane Warne.

In what was the fourth match of the tournament, they faced Pakistan, a repeat of the 1999 World Cup final. Wasim Akram, the captain from that final, made early inroads. I din’t see the initial part of the game because we friends were busy playing cricket ourselves. I remember vividly that our game could not be ended because one of our friends picked up a fight with a senior. So, we came back to what was the common room, if it could be called so, to watch the game. The score when I saw was 86/4. Jimmy Maher had just fallen to Waqar Younis.

All of them had said that Pakistan would win the game. I had this blind faith that Australia might find a way out. That the way was named ‘Andrew Symonds’ was beyond my wildest dreams. Shot after shot, run after run, he just drilled fear into the Pakistan bowlers. We were all mute witnesses to the carnage unfolding before our eyes. He was awesome that day. The fact that he scored 97 runs on the off side stands testimony to the utter domination unleashed on the bowlers.

They were in trouble in two other games. One was against England and the other was against New Zealand.  Against England, they were reduced to 130 odd for 8 before Bevan and Bichel saw them home. It was a chase and till Bevan was around there was hope. This match too, like many others, was seen in the common room.

The match against New Zealand was a tense one as they were reduced to 84 for 7 before Bevan and Bichel, again, started the repair work. It was a huge help to them that Shane Bond’s quota of overs were done by the 29th over. McGrath got the early wickets for them and Brett Lee ran through the tail in a matter of four overs. The sight of him signalling five with his palm after the match ended will stay forever in my memory. This match was seen at the college canteen. The dominating feeling, at that point of time, was sympathy for Shane Bond- he bowled his heart out and ripped through the top and middle order of a famed batting line-up. The fact that they lost by 96 runs was a surprise.

And then there was the mother of all matches- India v Pakistan. Played on the 1st of March, a Saturday, it was a bonafide holiday for all of us. We were all crowded in front of the small 14 inch TV like our lives depended on it. The knock by Saeed Anwar was a dampener. Sachin Tendulkar ensured that all that negative feeling was washed away by a pre-determined assault on Shoaib Akhtar. It won’t  be an overstatement to say that each one had ‘the hair on the back of our neck standing’

The final was the clincher. It seemed as if the entire population of Vizag was in our common room and the noise had to be heard to be believed. Soon the noise turned into groans and groans turned into moans of disappointment. All through I was watching the game because Australia were dominating. When it rained, a few of my friends  resorted to heckling me, but going by the result you would know who had the last laugh

***

I came to Bangalore in 2005 and remember being close to tears when Australia lost to England by two runs at Birmingham. I saw most of the match at an internet cafe in Jayanagar. With that friendship made, I saw most of the games at the same place. I didn’t even need to surf the net to be there.

My best memories of watching cricket involve 2008 IPL and the 2009 Australia India ODI series. During the 2008 IPL- the game between Deccan Chargers and Kolkata Knight Riders. We were watching the game at a pub called ‘Sherlock’. There was this gal who was a supporter of KKR and was vocal about it. She was spoiling our experience of watching the game. Well, our own shouting and the comments ensured that her evening was a bad experience though KKR won. Trust me when I say that there were no lewd comments and eve teasing involved. That’s the joy of watching cricket with friends.

***

The 2009 series between India v Australia was a brilliant one. On the day of one of the matches, me and my friend decided to venture to Vellore- a place 207 kilometers away from where we stayed. We didn’t know that. We thought it was only 116 kilometers. Our foolishness was so stubborn that we refused to ask people and see milestones. So, at the turn we need to take at Krishnagiri to get to Vellore, we thought of having breakfast and had our fill. A Kilometer after that, when we expecting Vellore to be around 20 kilometers, imagine our shock when we see that Vellore was 100 odd kilometers away. We were at that point where we couldn’t go ahead nor come back. As luck would have it, it started to rain. Well, we did go ahead to Vellore … in the rain. While coming back, it was still raining, we stopped at a small restaurant. The shop had a television and they were beaming the India v Australia game – the game played at Mohali. It was a close game and we stayed back till the innings ended. It didn’t matter to us that we came back at 1AM in the morning.

We saw the epic Hyderabad game in a seedy bar in some basement where the stench dominated everything else. We went there only because it was closest to our house. Nothing else mattered to us other than watching the game. It was a brilliant game and I ended up predicting correctly that the game was lost for India after Raina’s dismissal.

***

The 2011 WC Semi-final was watched at a friend’s place and we had fun that day discussing the game. I couldn’t watch the final with him because he had gone off to meet his prospective wife for the first time.

I hope I get to talk about similar experiences come the 2015 World Cup

Shamitabh Movie Review

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Amitabh Bachchan’s last movie released on April 11, 2014- Bhootnath Returns. And today, February 6, 2015, Shamitabh released. There was a gap of 11 months in between the releases. It is difficult not to miss him. Though he is 73, we would like him to keep acting. After 2011, in Bbudda hoga tera baap, he has taken a backseat to the main protagonists in the movie. It was the last movie where we saw him in all his flourish. Agreed that it was a bit over the top, but it had everything that we had come to love in Amitabh Bachchan.

Now, for those of us, who were waiting for an out and out Amitabh Bachchan movie to rejoice, we have Shamitabh. It’s a movie that has him in the frames that he isn’t in, thanks to the baritone of his. The leitmotif of the movie is how Amitabh and Dhanush are interdependant on each other and wouldn’t be able to do without each other.

It dwells on their abilities, frailties, their deteriorating relationship with each other and how they make up with each other. Akshara Hassan does well to hold her own against them both. Truth be spoken, she has the easiest role in the movie.

**

In one of the beginning sequences of the movie, we see a young kid seated in an open classroom and listening to a lesson on Mahatma Gandhi. He is making notes to himself as the lesson is being narrated. He notes down Ben Kingsley, Hero and Oscar. When the teacher admonishes him and asks the name of Gandhi’s wife, he writes down Rohini Hattangadi. That scene and the following scene show us that Dhanush has the passion for movies from his childhood. The kid who played this part was brilliant and it won’t be a surprise if we see more of him in the years to come.

We are introduced to Dhanush in the movie as a man who attained superstardom with his first movie and a lot of that has to do with Amitabh Bachchan. In time, we see that both the people crave their individuality and the situations between them are disasters waiting to happen. They, or rather, with the help of Akshara Hassan keep pushing those issues to the background till all hell breaks loose one day.

The scenes between Dhanush and Amitabh crackle with tension, desperation, humour or whatever be the emotion they are trying to convey. Yes, Amitabh Bachchan is the star of the movie. No two ways about it. Dhanush has the toughest role and he manages to charm most of the people.

**

There are some brilliant scenes in the movie. Some of the best scenes are, undoubtedly, reserved for Amitabh. The scene where he is talking about the Wood in ‘Bollywood’, the dialogue with the pic of Robert de Niro and the exchange with Dhanush in the vanity van. The exchange with Dhanush come back to haunt him at a later point in the movie.

For those of us used to the ‘manipulative mush’, as said by Akshara in the movie, this movie might not appeal much. The movie isn’t without flaws either. It is very difficult to invest our emotions in any character, because none of their struggles are shown to us.

**

Amitabh sings in the movie, but that’s sort of wasted in the movie with the picturisation, but in the larger scheme of things, it was probably apt as it has Dhanush wanting to prove a point to Amitabh. Amitabh acts in the movie, but nobody lets him down with it. He will be in running for all the awards in the ‘Best Supporting actor’ category. It is also endearing to see him play a foul mouthed old man who has no respect or regard for others. The scene in the airport where he gives Gaalis in a multitude of languages for every alphabet or the scene where he says not being handicapped is the biggest handicap are pointers to that.

How can we talk about the movie without talking about the Background music in the movie? As with most movies that Illayaraja has composed for, the BGM plays an invisible character in the movie. A lot of people I know din’t like the music in the movie, but I liked most of the songs.

Dhanush is growing with every movie. Probably he would’ve been given a thumbs down if he tried to do this in Tamil, but his obscurity in the Hindi Film Industry helps him well – it allows him to experiment. His performance in the movie is brilliant

Akshara Hassan has a good debut and she looks comfortable in presence of Dhanush and Amitabh. Her fresh face is a help to the movie.

Balki has done good job with the movie. Without trying to be preachy or mushy, he conveys his point. The fact that he has managed to rope in the bigwigs of the industry speaks a lot about the goodwill he has. One more thing that impressed me about him was the credit for Valet’s of the protagonists. It’s  a good gesture!

Verdict: Powerhouse performances by Dhanush and Amitabh mask whatever be the shortcomings in the movie. For me, this is much better than the preachy films rubbed on us by more popular and successful directors

Image courtesy: aisakya.in

Baby Movie Review

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Every director, in Indian cinema, has to grapple with the devil called ‘believability’. In such cases, he can do three things – choose an apt actor for the script in his mind, choose an actor who believes in the script as much as he does and is willing to go the distance to justify it or care two hoots for the audience and make the film.

Director Neeraj Pandey, has done the first two things for Baby. He chose Akshay Kumar as protagonist for the movie and Akshay went the length to justify the role. The biggest achievement for an actor, with/without an image, is the moment when audience fails to separate the reel from real. Perhaps that’s the reason why they are so happy when they are called by their reel names.

***

Neeraj Pandey, sets the premise early in the movie and doesn’t beat around the bush. He seems mighty sure of the story at hand. It has been his hallmark in both his previous movies- A Wednesday and Special 26. He has the knack of drawing good performances from every actor. Anupam Kher, these days, seems to reserve his best for Neeraj’s movies. And so does Akshay Kumar. Akshay has given two of his best performances in the recent memory in Neeraj’s movies.

Neeraj’s movies, in movie industry parlance, are ‘somewhere in between’. Not art house films and not your typical masala fare. It would be a fallacy to say that he combines the best of both the forms. The presence of a star gives him the chance to explore the script on a much bigger canvas. That said, not everything is perfect with his movies. If you saw Special 26, you would be as bemused with the graphics work done for the scenes in Kolkata because they seemed to nail the Delhi part well. In Baby too there are some irregularities, but they are few and far in between.

In this movie too, he inserts a few scenes that could’ve led to addition of few more scenes. In fact, you are expecting it. The decision taken against having those scenes is good as we know the reactions to those situations. The fact that he doesn’t have them makes the screenplay tight.

***

The biggest achievement of the director was to take three ‘wooden faces’ in Akshay Kumar, Rana Dagubbati and Tapsee Pannu and make each of them have a defining scene in the movie. OK, Rana, not quite so. The scene of Tapsee Pannu  in Katmandu was probably the best scene of the movie. Everything in that scene sort of surprises you and, yeah, for fair measure, Akshay Kumar too.

Anupam Kher as the foul mouthed technical person seems to be in grip of the proceedings and doesn’t bumble around. He is a dependable artiste in Neeraj’s movies.

Danny as the head of the team performs well

Akshay Kumar, after the character was zeroed in on, had to be just himself and he does a good of handling the proceedings. He lends naturalilty to a lot of scenes that would’ve seemed scarcely believable with other actors. After Sangharsh he has been a changed actor and this movie would surely be remembered fondly by him

Verdict: A Good movie. Enjoyable fare without getting emotionally or jingoistically sucked into the proceedings