Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Film Review: BODYGUARD

Pack up your logical mind and leave it behind before going to the film

Cast: Salman Khan, Kareena Kapoor, Raj Babbar, Sharat Saxena, Hazel Keech
Director: Siddique

I like watching Salman Khan flicks. I was keen to see this one but none of my family or friends was interested in watching this one. That’s when I decided to go on my own.

THE STORY: Sartaj Rana (Raj Babbar) is a wealthy man with a lot of enemies. His bodyguard, Balwant Singh, is killed while protecting Sartaj Rana. Rana manages to save his pregnant wife who gives birth to Lovely Singh (Salman Khan). Lovely grows up to become a bodyguard too and is extremely loyal to Rana. Rana employs him as bodyguard for his daughter Divya (Kareena Kapoor). Divya falls in love with him while he reveres her. Along with her friend Maya (Hazel Keech), Divya plays a prank on Lovely. She calls him from an unregistered number and with a false name Chaya, she insists that she is in love with him. Lovely Singh falls in love with the voice on the phone. Watch the film to see what happens when Divya comes to realize that Lovely is too loyal to Rana and will never agree to wed his daughter.

MY PERCEPTION: Pack up your logical mind and leave it behind before going to the film. Lovely Singh falling in love with a caller on the phone; Divya accepting that she cannot marry her bodyguard and sending her friend Maya to rescue him from her father’s henchman; Maya deciding out of the blue that she is in love with Lovely; the two of them getting married with Lovely believing Maya to be Chaya; Maya writing down Divya’s love story and her own deception in a diary and leaving it for her 8-year-old son to read – no logic, no sense. I was so reminded of an old Tamil saying that my grandmother used to utter – kadhaikku kannunda, kadhunda? Does a story have eyes or ears? That just applies to this one – no rhyme or reason. And this film has been made in Malayalam, then Tamil (Vijay-Asin starrer by the same name) and now in Hindi – Siddique has a lot of guts, what else!

Salman Khan was in his element with his six-pack abs, fight-sequences and song-dance sequences.

Kareena Kapoor looked beautiful – I mean really beautiful for a change. She has also done well in her role as Divya, what was possible to do that is.

The songs were good, nothing great.

The best part was that the film was just 2 hours long. Thank God for small mercies!

VERDICT: If you are a Salman Khan fan, then you will see it like I just did. Nothing else to it!

RATING: ** Shaky

* Silly
** Shaky
*** Smart
**** Snazzy
***** Super

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Film Review: MANKATHA (மங்காத்தா)

If you like senseless fighting, looting and murdering, then this one is for you

Cast: Ajith, Arjun, Trisha, Vaibhav Reddy, Premji Amaren, Mahat Raghavendra, Ashwin Kakumanu, Lakshmi Rai, Andrea Jeremiah, Anjali
Writer / Director: Venkat Prabhu  

My husband Venkat and I had been trying to see this film three weeks since its release and finally managed to catch it last Saturday at Arora Theatre at King’s Circle. Both of us are fond of Ajith and were keen not to miss this one especially as it’s been a while since Ajith has been seen on screen while this also happens to be his 50th film.

THE STORY: Vinayak Mahadevan (Ajith) is a police officer based in Mumbai. Sanjana (Trisha) is his girlfriend who hopes to marry the forty-year-old soon. The suspended Vinayak just wants to have a good time and leads a happy bachelor’s life while Sanjana does her best to change him. He drinks, smokes and sleeps around and is not the most straightforward of policemen. Sanjana happens to be the daughter of Arumuga Chettiyar (Jayaprakash) who actually runs a gambling den in an old movie theatre that he owns. USD 100 million is to come to India for betting in IPL cricket matches. That’s equal to 500 crore rupees. Arumuga Chettiar (AC) is keen that the money passes through his den. AC’s protégé Suman (Vaibhav Reddy) is keen to steal the money. He gets his friends - police officer Ganesh (Ashwin Kaumanu), bar owner Mahat (Mahat Raghavendra) and IIT gold medalist Prem (Premji Amaran), to help him do this. Vinayak gets to know about the theft and jumps into the fray as the fifth share. In the meanwhile, Prithvi (Arjun) is an ACP who is determined to wipe out illegal betting and has been successful in bringing a number of crooks to book. He gets wind of the USD in AC’s den and is keen to capture the same. Watch the film to see whether the thieves get away with the money or whether it is ACP Prithvi who triumphs.

MY PERCEPTION: The film is absolutely violent from beginning till the end. It kind of makes one wonder whether human lives have the least value in the world. That does not leave one with a good feeling at all! We sat through fight sequence after fight sequence, fisticuffs, gun-shots, blood and gore.

I blindly went to see the film for Ajith and so did Venkat. Yeah, the actor has delivered and how! He has done the part of a debauched police officer just perfectly. Salt and pepper hair, bags under his eyes, a slight paunch and a sneering smile – Ajith in a very different role wonderfully delivered. And this is the only plus point in the film.

Yeah, the many actors such as Jayaprakash, Vaibhav Reddy, Ashwin Kaumanu and Mahat Raghavendra do have chunky roles and they have performed alright. Premji Amaren was exceptionally good.
Trisha has a small part and has done it well while Arjun has a minuscule role that does not really test his acting skills.

Most films I find begin with negativity but go on to become positive with good triumphing over evil, etc. Not so this one. I found the plot quite senseless and seeped in negativity.

What’s extremely misleading about Tamil channels on TV is that they praise all films to the skies and no one comes forward to point out any flaw. Ditto goes to the web. So one can never get the right idea of how a film will be before going to see it.

VERDICT: If you like senseless fighting, looting and murdering, then this one is for you.

RATING: ** Shaky

* Silly
** Shaky
*** Smart
**** Snazzy
***** Super

Monday, September 12, 2011


A special congratulations to Ritesh Soni for editing the film so well!

Cast: Imran Khan, Katrina Kaif, Ali Zafar, Tara D’Souza
Director: Ali Abbas Zafar

Having seen the attractive promos, we decided to go to the film on Day One of its release. The theatre was packed, of course. Thanks to the manager Mr. Rakesh at Cinemax Sion, we managed to get tickets for the 10 pm show on Friday.

THE STORY: Luv (Ali Zafar) lives in London and has been having an affair with Piali (Tara D’Souza) since five years. The two of them break up after a quarrel and Luv decides that he wants to get married to a girl from India. He calls up his brother Kush (Imran Khan) who works as an assistant director in Bollywood. Luv persuades Kush to find him a bride and that’s how Kush lands up looking for ‘Mere Brother Ki Dulhan’. After running through a number of suitable girls, he hones in on Dimple (Katrina Kaif) and feels she is the best for his brother. Luv and Dimple meet over skype and approve of each other. Wedding preparations happen in a frenzy and Kush and Dimple end up spending a lot of time with each other getting things organised. And then… the two of them realize that they are in love. Watch the film to see the obvious ending.

MY PERCEPTION: The film was a fun-watch from beginning till end. I love romances and Yash Raj Films are famous for the same, even though some of their films bombed at the box office and were painful to watch. This one was bang-on with good direction and better editing.

Imran Khan was very good in his role as Kush and I hope this will be a continuing trend, as I feel the actor keeps sliding back to bad acting sometimes. Congrats!

Ali Zafar was excellent. I thought he was very good in his Bollywood debut, Tere Bin Laden. He was even better in this one with his sharply honed acting skills. Kudos!

Hmm… Katrina Kaif! Well, the young lady has come a long, long way. She was simply amazing. She’s lovely, sexy and now, she can act too and very well at that. It was her film throughout even though the guys were good.

The music by Sohail Sen was catchy and fitted well with the film. The songs were good and my favourite was Naache re naache Madhubala. I heard on Star News that the song was not choreographed. It was very nice and Katrina has proved that if she can do a Sheila ki jawani, she can be equally good at dancing to Madhubala too. Simply loved it!

The story was cute and the film was well-directed both thanks to Ali Abbas Zafar.  A special congratulations to Ritesh Soni for editing the film so well! It was a tight fit running for 2 hours and 20 minutes and kept the audience entertained throughout with absolutely no excesses.

VERDICT: A fun-watch romance, just my cup of tea!

RATING: **** Snazzy

* Silly
** Shaky
*** Smart
**** Snazzy
***** Super

Thursday, September 1, 2011


Lord Ganesha!

Happy Birthday to you Ganpati Bappa! I simply love you! Wishing every one of my readers a very happy Ganesh Chaturthi!

Ganesha Idols made from clay at a village (Pic courtesy: Nilesh Mhatre)

Ganesha is the elephant-headed God who is so loveable and cuddly that all of us want to befriend. This festival is celebrated with pomp and ceremony by all of us, Mumbaikars, most especially. On this beautiful occasion, I bring to you a blog on how the Ganesh idols are made and brought to the markets in Mumbai city. I have taken the information and pictures from a barracks-like stall at Dharavi for the same.

Work on Ganesha idols heats up in the village (Pic courtesy: Nilesh Mhatre)

As you walk from Sion station to Dharavi, you will find this stall on the right across the 90-feet Road that is on the left. The shop has no name or anything for specific identification. The primary thing is that you find a number of Ganesh murtis in various shapes and sizes in different stages of creation.

I was lucky to get these close-up shots
I met Raj from Ahmadnagar, a painter. I am not sure whether Raj should be called an artist or a painter. He does have the skill to turn out handsome hand-painted idols, but I mainly saw him wielding a spray gun while painting them. Luckily for me, Raj was quite willing to give me a lot of details of how the show goes on there. Raj asked me for a favour - their official photographer had not turned up, yet. He asked me whether I could give him copies of the photos on a CD. I was thrilled as he was ready to remove dust-covers from completed idols to make it possible for me to click away. Lucky me! You will find more pics on Rising Sun over the next 10 days.

That's Raj working on a Ganesh Murti
About 25 painters come down in a group from Ahmadnagar every year, about 2-3 months before Ganesh Chaturthi, to work with the same manufacturer, year after year. This is just one group. There are hundreds such coming down to Mumbai. This particular group works at the stalls in Dharavi, Andheri, Jogeshwari, Borivali and Kandivli.

A worker putting finishing touches to a clay idol (Pic courtesy: Nilesh Mhatre)
The idols all come ready made from many parts of Maharashtra – Pen, Ahmadnagar, Ambeghar, Shirki and some others. Some are made from readymade moulds while others are created by hand. Sometimes, the murtis are created with a mould and embellishments are later added by hand. Murtis are made of clay as well as plaster of paris. The ones in this particular stall were all made of the latter. Most of the small ones – one foot and less – are painted at the villages. The larger ones are brought in the raw state to be painted right here in the stalls to avoid damage.

POP Ganeshas waiting to be coloured at Dharavi

An idol partly painted
The shop that is set up here includes 10 barracks, each measuring 30’x10’. They pay a rent of Rs. 35,000 per barrack per month. That’s big money indeed! This is just the set up at Dharavi under one particular manufacturer. While the shop comes into existence 2 months before Ganesh Chaturthi, it continues to hold good for the upcoming Navaratri festival when there is demand for idols of Devi.

The gorgeous hand-painted Ganesh with tones of Lord Krishna
Raj takes about a couple of hours to paint a murti that is 4’ in height. This is just for spray painting. If there is a lot of hand painting involved, he takes another hour more. Spray painting is used most of the time as this works out cheaper. Hand-painting is done only on specific orders as these come very expensive.

The idols, especially the bigger ones, are booked by customers before they are painted. In fact, the buyers can choose the colours they want their Lord painted in.

A 4-foot murti made of POP costs between Rs. 300-400 when it is brought down in the raw state. Raj is paid Rs. 2000-3000 for the painting job. The cost of raw-materials is separate. The completed version of a hand-painted 4-foot idol is sold for about Rs. 35,000. Raj makes about Rs. 80000-90000 per Ganpati season. What he makes during Navratri is separate. The smallest and cheapest murti at the stall costs Rs. 200. The biggest murtis that come to their stall are as much as 12’ in height when I went to check the idols out. Raj said that bigger ones may turn up if there was demand.

Awaiting sale!
You might have noticed by now that all costs are given in a range. Well, that’s how it is, as costing is pretty flexible if you know how to deal with it.

I found this idol of Lord Krishna there. For Janmashtami, I presume
The costing ebbs and flows as per demand and the time when the customer lands up at the stall. Bargaining is possible as they are keen to sell away all their goods. But if the demand is more, then you might have to go away disappointed if you leave the purchase till the last minute.

I am sure all of these must be taken by now
The last I read up on the internet, a large number of idols were destroyed during the recent rains, creating a huge loss to the industry as a whole. I sincerely pray to Lord Vignaharta (the one who destroys our problems) to take care of everyone involved.