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Leave your brains home and laugh away! Chashme Baddoor

I’m not impressed by remakes, as a rule. But it’s hard to resist a classic David Dhawan movie, no matter how intellectual you think you are (jokes on me people!)….

ImageI went in to see Chashme Baddoor with low expectations. After all, how excited can anyone be about a bunch of first timers or losers (had a fairly low opinion of Ali Zafar, for instance, and detested his chocolate boy looks)! I was in for a surprise, though.

The film is pure slapstick, rather predictable and loud, but it keeps the viewer engaged. The events unfold at breakneck speed and crafty dialogue keeps the laughs coming. It treads that oh-so-thin line between vulgarity and hilarity rather well, despite Siddharth’s best attempts at putting us off by jiggling his man boobs at the slightest provication. Newcomer Divyendu Sharma, whose character is modeled on Ravi Baswani in the original, was rather good. Ali Zafar redeemed himself slightly and watching him deliver some punchy lines and improve his comic timing convinces me once again of David Dhawan’s sheer talent as a director of comic films. Tapsee Pannu, who plays the female lead, pitched in and the talented Rishi Kapoor and Lilette Dubey did a great job of providing the balance to what would otherwise have been rather over-the-top! However, I’m glad Dhawan had the sense to recognize that Lilette and not Tapsee is far more deserving of Deepti Naval’s role!

What made the film work was good dialogue and superb direction. What didn’t work was the terrible music, the ’80s dance sequences (they really could have spent money on a choreographer) and the super quirky wardrobes worn by all of the male characters. Siddharth wore pink shorts and purple t-shirt in one scene and I was thinking….oh boy, is this what it takes to get us to laugh?

Anyway, it made for many laughs. I digested all the popcorn I ate. All in a night’s work!

Life of Pi: The beauty of nature, 3D technology and Suraj Sharma!

Yann Martel’s ‘Life of Pi’ is an incredible story. Fantastical and a commentary on life, the meaning of existence, etc etc. Ingredients for a runaway hit. Ang Lee’s film does it tremendous justice, but in a very different way from merely retelling the narrative. It is certainly the first 3D film I have seen that actually justified the use of this technology.

When I read the book, I thought for days about many abstract and existential aspects of life. I wondered about whether man was less or more selfish than animals. I wondered about our need to believe in something greater than ourselves. I wondered about faith and doubt and the wonderful inter-relation of these two disparate points of view. I mused about my childhood years and being conflicted between the strong influence of two ultra-religious grandmothers and my atheist father and how I have set this question of faith aside, for the most part. Some day, it will come and loom large in front of me and shall have to decide to let my life move ahead. But for now, it doesn’t bother me too much.

The movie was whole other experience from the book. I disagree with those who say the movie is a faithful imitation of the book; it wasn’t for me and it never is; how can it be, the mediums are so so different, one relying on each individual’s power of visualization and the other visualizing it and merely opening the visuals for interpretation?

But it was good. So good. I loved the way the 3D brought alive the zoo. And the technology that could create the sheer magnificence of Richard Parker! I loved the ethereal quality of the scenes out at sea and the sheer glory of nature. I want Udai to see it, for it brought back to me memories of how wondrous the world appeared as a child. How intriguing the world is, and yet how we accepted the vagaries of our lives as perfectly normal. I wasn’t touched as much as I thought I would be with Pi’s tremendous loneliness and his faith, but it’s hard to achieve everything when all you have to work with is a landscape, one human, a boat and a computer-generated animal! Suraj Sharma’s effort is commendable though and he is beautiful in the film. Certainly, he brings a freshness to the film that a known face simply could not have done.

All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of watching the film. Its beauty and effects mesmerized me. But I have not brought the film back with me in my head the way I carried the book around. I will re-read the book though…and that’s something!

The movie culture: the moronic feat of watching two in a day May 25, 2012

Going to the movies has been a vital element in urban culture. I lived in Mumbai as a young child and was taken by my parents to watch a few films a year. During summer, my cousins from Goa came to stay and the film outing became a gala event. Once I remember an older child in our apartment building (we called her Shilpa Akka) took us all to watch one of those Sridevi type family dramas in Hindmata, an iconic talkies movie hall in Mumbai.
Things changed drastically when multiplexes started out. As college kids, we stood for hours in a narrow long snake like line behind PVR Anupam in Saket to fight our way and procure tickets for Rs 7. Regular tickets were priced upwards of Rs 70 and were totally unaffordable for us. Before college, back during the Lucknow days, going to the movies was a luxury. We lived far out of town and there were a handful of theatres considered appropriate for girls from ‘good’ families! Sahu, Mayfair, Novelty, Pratibha- only these four. If you didn’t want to be prodded, ogled at, etc.
And then multiplexes mushroomed all over the country. Movie halls came to our doorstep, sometimes literally. And movie going became accepted among the urban middle classes as a more expensive (read upmarket) affair replete with goodies from the confectionary stall. Popcorn and coke combos entered our lives and menus kept expanding to give movie goers the experience of dining and being waited on while plonked on plush seats in front of a large screen with Dolby sound!
I’m a bit soft in the head today from watching two films in a day, do forgive me the wandering narrative! Chhota Bheem, the movie we took a whole kiddie gang to in the daytime was the expected horror. No nuances, no humorous, no variation in the storyline. Ugly unreal creatures and mumbo jumbo with Bheem fist fighting his way to hero hood once again.
The second film, Men in Black 3, was more of the same but far better made. Humour and technology saved that one, but nothing to write home about.
Clearly, the film and animation industry crave moronic kids and adults for whose pleasure they can continue to churn out this formulaic stuff. What we city dwellers wouldn’t do for a spot of entertainment!

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