Monthly Archives: November 2016

Dangal’s first song ‘Haanikaarak Bapu’ champions everything that’s right with Aamir’s film

Comparison is the fuel of Bollywood at the moment, what with the many clashes (read: Mohenjo Daro and Rustom; ADHM and Shivaay) we have seen in 2016. However — and we never thought we would say this before its release — Aamir Khan’s  Dangal seems to be doing everything right, where Salman Khan’s Sultan went wrong.

Allow us to elucidate.

After its intriguing trailer, Dangal‘s first song, ‘Haanikarak Baapu‘ revolves around Aamir Khan coaching his daughters to become competent wrestlers. The song is shot and sung from the girls’ point of view, where they seen working out really hard, training their bodies to be wrestlers, and facing the wrath of Aamir, who is shown to be brutal with them in their training.

You don’t need us to tell you that Aamir can really act. He plays the stern father part with complete conviction, and it works well for a song that laments about this very fact.

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‘Haanikarak Baapu’ is peppered with dialogues; Sakshi Tanwar, who plays Aamir’s wife and mother to the girls, has her Haryanvi accent bang on. Aamir rocks a dad bod (an elderly man with a paunch and a flawed, yet desirable body, for the uninitiated) in this film, much like Salman in Sultan. However, he is a lot more nonchalant about it.

The song itself is catchy, and we’re sure kids will love it, but the real champion of ‘Haanikarak Baapu’, and by extension Dangal, is its nuanced and unbiased portrayal of the fact that it is actually two girls who Aamir trains; his daughters.

Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge to Ae Dil Hai Mushkil: Bollywood loves naming films after hit songs

Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge still runs successfully at Maratha Mandir today. What runs along with it in the film industry, are all the DDLJ clichés that the film gave birth to, in 1995. The train sequence, lovers running and uniting in the fields and the girl’s furious father letting go of his daughter in the climax – all these scenes became historic and, in turn, the formula for all commercial entertainers.

Ae Dil Hai Mushkil borrows its title from the Johnny Walker's iconic song from the 1956 film CID.

An unnoticed trend or formula that Aditya Chopra’s film injected into the veins of the industry was that of dedicating the title of the film to the name of a famous song. Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge was the name of a song from Yash Raj Films’ 1974 movie Chor Machaye Shor starring Mumtaz and Shashi Kapoor.

Chopra, who was just four years old at the time of the release of the film, is likely to have imbibed the dialogues, scenes and songs of his legendary father Yash Chopra’s films. Thus, while selecting a title of his directorial debut, he chose one of the famous songs that he grew up listening to. The title fit into the context of the film aptly as well.

What followed was a trend of naming films after famous songs as a formula, on the director’s part, to replicate DDLJ’s momentous success. One of the first attempts at executing the formula was in the 1998 Sohail Khan directorial Pyar Kiya Toh Darna Kya starring Salman Khan and Kajol.

The film could have been named anything else but Khan chose to bank on the popularity of the legendary song from K Asif’s 1960 historical drama Mughal-e-Aazam. The film emerged successful and the trend of naming films after famous songs continued.

While intertextuality was not a new phenomenon in Hindi cinema, these allusions to popular songs gained traction as a mere market trend. There were several instances when the title of the film had little to do with the story but was used nonetheless as the song it was named after had immense recall value among its target group.

For example, Samir Karnik’s 2011 comedy Yamla Pagla Deewana was named so to attract the fans of Dharmendra to cinema halls. The film was nothing more than an ode to the revered actor and the fact that he was sharing the screen space with his sons Sunny and Bobby Deol for the first time. The right packaging, in which the title played a crucial role, ensured the film was a huge success at the box office, though it was panned by the film critics.

Similarly, after Ranbir Kapoor had a flawed launch vehicle in Saawariya, Yash Raj Films decided to capitalise on their own formula when they re-launched Kapoor through the film Bachna Ae Haseeno, named after his father Rishi Kapoor’s iconic song from the 1977 action film Hum Kisi Se Kum Naheen. The film worked and launched the fourth generation star in the process. Incidentally, another film of Ranbir, Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani was named after the title song of his uncle Randhir Kapoor’s 1972 film Jawani Diwani. The titles of the two films were in tune with Ranbir’s characters but at the same time, they indicated the fact that Ranbir is carrying forward his family legacy.

There were a few films which took their titles from popular songs but presented it in an entirely new light. The most recent example is Karan Johar’s Ae Dil Hai Mushkil. The title is inspired from Johnny Walker’s historic song from the 1956 film CID. Though the context of that song was the trials that one faces while making his ends meet in Mumbai, Johar’s version turned into an anthem for unrequited lovers.

Another good example is Farah Khan’s Om Shanti Om, which was a complete detour from Rishi Kapoor’s song from the 1980 thriller Karz. Though both the films were based on the theme of reincarnation, the title had little to do with the coincidence. It alluded to the characters of the film, Shantipriya and the two incarnations of Om.

Another interesting example is Rakesh Roshan’s Koi Mil Gaya. The title referred to a dance number in Johar’s Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. Since the song was a children’s favourite, Roshan decided to name the film after the song to please his target group. However, the rationale behind the title was not superficial as unlike the song it was named after, the ‘koi’ in the song did not refer to first love but to an extra-terrestrial creature.

Roshan’s 2003 fantasy film came just six years after Johar’s film so the song had good recall value by then. Similarly, films like Guzaarish and Jai Ho also followed the same path as they banked on the popularity of recent hit songs from Ghajini and Slumdog Millionaire. Though Sanjay Leela Bhansali added depth to the title of Guzaarish by addressing the issue of euthanasia, Sohail Khan changed the name of his film from Mental to Jai Ho after AR Rahman won an Academy Award for composing the renowned song sung by Sukhwinder Singh.

As the trend continues with upcoming films like Meri Pyari Bindu and Raabta, we are yet to see whether these films hold any titular relevance or are merely spin offs of popular songs with good recall value.

Force 2 movie review: Slick mix of action, John Abraham, suspense and an appealing villain

It is hard to find a film that does not promise an iota more of anything than what it intends to deliver, and then efficiently delivers on its promise. Force 2 is an intense action flick that serves up slick stunts and technical finesse to support its straight-laced storytelling style.

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Director Abhinay Deo’s latest film is a sequel to Nishikant Kamat’s Force (2011), which starred John Abraham and Genelia D’souza. That film in turn was a remake of the 2003 Tamil blockbuster Kaakha Kaakha directed by Gautham Menon, starring Suriya Sivakumar and Jyothika.

Force did not have Kaakha Kaakha’s emotional heft, but it did have gripping, not-before-seen action plus a villain worth living and dying for. Its Achilles heel was the casting of the heroine. Four years since Force, the franchise repeats the mix, giving us gripping action once again, a solid villain and a contentious heroine.

Abraham is back in Force 2 as a well-intentioned Mumbai policeman who does not play by the book because the book, in his opinion, can tie a good cop down. In the years since Yashvardhan lost his wife (played by D’souza) in the first film, he has remained as strong-willed, impertinent and determined to vanquish evil as he was back then. When a bunch of agents of the Indian intelligence agency RAW (Research and Analysis Wing) are exterminated in well-planned back-to-back killings, Yash enters the picture to find out why and to prevent further deaths.

The case lands him in beautiful Budapest. His partner and supposed boss in this mission is RAW officer KK, Kamaljit Kaur, played by Sonakshi Sinha. KK is to the always-defiant Yash what chalk is to cheese, so of course they clash repeatedly.

Together, they find themselves up against an antagonist who somehow manages to stay ahead of them every step of the way. Shiv Sharma (Tahir Raj Bhasin) is driven by an unexplained grouse against RAW and India. It is evident from the moment we meet him that Yash and KK will solve the case when they crack the reason for his animosity.

The purposefulness of this film’s writing is both its strength and its weakness. Parveez Shaikh and Jasmeet K. Reen are here to entertain us with suspense and unrelenting skirmishes – involving wit, guns and fisticuffs – and they do that well. If only they had paid more attention to the characterisation of Yash and KK, Force 2 would have been more than just that.

Yash relies almost entirely on our pre-existing investment in him from the previous film, on Abraham’s dimpled charm and the actor’s unapologetic willingness to be objectified without denting his dignity in the way Hindi cinema tends to do with women. However, we do not see enough of the character’s journey here, nothing much to add to the Yash we already know from Force.

The film’s potentially most interesting element is the most problematic. Leading ladies in Hindi cinema are rarely in positions of authority over leading men, and they are certainly rarely at the centre of hard-core action cinema. KK, then, is a fascinating proposition. Having envisioned her though, the writers give her short shrift.

Sections of Bollywood these days are taking a long, hard look at the way women have been straitjacketed in films since the 1970s. While some are ushering in genuine change, too many are struggling to pull themselves out of the morass of their own misogyny. Sinha earlier this year starred in Akira, which made a woman the central figure in an all-out action-reliant drama but then spent so little time on fleshing her out as a human being, that the most engaging character in the film turned out to be her arch enemy – who was a man … of course. Deo & Co are better in the sense that their KK is not a one-line concept note. We do get to see her for the person that she is. Still, she is a RAW agent who screws up on an important assignment in a way you know the male lead of this kind of Hindi film would not, and when it comes to the crunch, she still needs a man to be decisive on her behalf and have the last word.

The saving grace of the Yash-KK equation is that despite the hint of a romance between them, the film does not go too far in that direction. This is a good thing, since Sinha looks like a child in comparison with Abraham. The actress does a fair job of what she is given to do, but I wish she had been given more to do and the screenplay had been less patronising towards KK.

The best written character in Force 2 is Shiv Sharma, a criminal who is both cold-blooded and nuanced, a man we can fear yet empathise with without the film getting too maudlin in its portrayal of him. Tahir Raj Bhasin is wonderfully controlled in his execution of Shiv, making him as intriguing as Vidyut Jamwal’s Vishnu was in Force yet completely different.

Koffee with Karan episode three: Varun, Arjun say it best when they say nothing at all

Koffee with Karan season five is most certainly all about busting secrets. Or atleast, you’ll see Karan Johar trying really hard. Episode three saw childhood buddies Varun Dhawan and Arjun Kapoor share the Koffee couch and Johar wasted no time in addressing the (multiple) elephants in the room.

The first question that was asked to the two chaddi-buddies was whether there was a girl that ever came between them. For those of you who were hoping that Kapoor and Dhawan would address the rumours of either of them dating Alia Bhatt, you will be disappointed. Neither confirmed anything of the sort, infact they both denied having any sort of romantic involvement with Alia.

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However, much more was revealed about Varun Dhawan and Arjun Kapoor’s long-standing friendship. We found out that both are nudists, ie, both roam around their homes with minimal clothing (thank us later for the image).

In typical Koffee with Karan style, both actors were grilled about their love lives and even asked about their penis size. (this seems to be a recurring theme, and also found a mention in Twinkle and Akshay Kumar’s episode).

The highlight of this episode was that a lot of secrets were ousted without really saying anything. Arjun choosing any other actress whenever given the option of Sonakshi Sinha, and Varun always slotting Sidharth Malhotra in the last rank of any choice question, gave us a little inkling of the fact that where Bollywood and gossip are concerned, there’s no smoke without fire.

Also both Varun and Arjun chose to marry Ranbir Kapoor and kill Ranveer Singh in their rapid fire answers. Also neither wanted to hook up with Katrina Kaif, for reasons best known to them.

We were also shown snippets from a short film that both Varun Dhawan and Arjun Kapoor were a part of, back in their struggling phase. The film, which shows a much younger Dhawan and Kapoor, was shot during Barry John’s acting classes, that the two were a part of. It was shot in 24 hours and with a budget of Rs 5000.

However, the moment of Episode 3 was Arjun Kapoor reacting to Karan Johar’s innocuous question with the most brazen answer.

Hrithik Roshan, Kangana Ranaut’s legal spat might have reached an official conclusion

March 2016 marked the beginning of one of the biggest controversies in Bollywood for the year.

Kangana Ranaut and Hrithik Roshan had slapped each other with legal notices through their respective attorneys, Rizwan Siddiquee and Deepesh Mehta.

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After Kangana made a comment about a ‘silly ex’ of hers, Hrithik Firstpost slapped a defamation notice against her that seemed to indicate that (he believed) the comment was directed at him. The fight got murky, and allegations were thrown from both the parties.

As had reported earlier, the crux is that an email ID, from which Kangana claimed to have received messages from Hrithik, seem to indicate that they were in a relationship. Hrithik, on the other hand, said he never had an email account with that ID, and that it was an impostor who had been communicating with Kangana
all along.

He even tweeted that he would rather have an affair with the Pope. Ouch.

An officer connected with the Cyber Crime Cell has been quoted by various news outlets as saying the emails came from a US server, and in the absence of data from there, no user could be identified, which for Kangana’s team was a win-win situation.

With Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, it seems Ranbir is remaking Rockstar with different directors

Think about it for a bit, and you’ll recall a stock shot that Ranbir Kapoor seems to have in so many of his films. You’ll recognise it when you see him walking towards the camera, which linearly tracks away from him. In this shot, there’s usually emotion writ large on his face, as he leaves something behind. And then, as you think about it some more, you realise that Ranbir seems to have made *that* pain – of unrequited love – his pièce de résistance, so to speak.

In his films — while he may or may not have ended up with the person he loves in the end — when he’s pining for that person (or for whatever it is his character is seeking) Ranbir emotes like no one else. Imtiaz Ali’s Rockstar, of course, was the crowning glory in this regard.

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While the cult of Rockstar endures, it is still a film that seems to have more haters than (passionate) lovers, and that will always be one of the tragedies of Ranbir Kapoor’s career. He had famously gone into a depressive phase post the intense shoot of Rockstar, and somehow, he gives the impression that he isn’t done with Imtiaz Ali’s mystic ode to eternal unrequited love quite yet.

It seems, in fact, that since Rockstar, Ranbir’s choices have veered towards characters that need a desperate sense of validation from love. (Think Barfi, Bombay Velvet and Tamasha.)

And here’s the thing — no film suggests this more than Ae Dil Hai Mushkil does. In so many ways, ADHM is basically Rockstar made less cryptic and esoteric, more universal and accessible (and hence, more ‘commercial’). In fact, once you start counting them, the similarities between Rockstar and ADHM will astonish you.

There’s Ranbir playing the talented but devoid-of-success aspiring singer, who’s yet to grow up and come of age. He falls in love with a gutsy, full-blooded woman, but doesn’t get her because she marries someone else. Thus begins the saga of intense one-sided love, which causes him to channel his pain into his art, infusing his talent with that magic element it hitherto lacked. Success follows, but life isn’t done playing games with him yet. He’s destined to run into his love again, only to feel more pain, and then some. (I must stop there, because anything more and I’ll run into serious spoiler territory.)

So much about Ae Dil Hai Mushkil will make you feel that both films are actually the same story told in two different ways; and the difference between Rockstar and Ae Dil Hai Mushkil lies in the difference between the filmmakers whose vision the respective films are.

If Imtiaz Ali’s film was complex, nuanced, tinged with Sufism and left with you with a sense of crippling loss, Karan Johar’s film is frothy, contemporary, set in a significantly upper class milieu and eschews intensity in favour of breezy palatability. Rockstar versus ADHM is essentially grungy love versus glossy love. (ADHM, though, does give you a glimpse of how Rockstar could have been, if the character of Heer Kaul had a more accomplished actor – or just *an* actor – in place of Nargis Fakhri.)

In the commercial compromises, so to speak, that Johar makes with his film, he ends up missing out on some heft for sure. Rockstar was never meant to leave you with a happy feeling, while ADHM tries hard to make sure that no matter what, you don’t really walk away from the film primarily in pain.

Make no mistake, some of the sequences and character interactions in the film are loaded with life-changing advice about love and loss for the more ‘filmy’ folk among us; but the film firmly caters to an audience that comes for a Hindi film with only one expectation – ‘paisa vasool’.

Karan Johar’s efforts to make the film more universal, though, might just go in vain. Because it seems like those who liked Rockstar will probably like ADHM too, while those who hated the former may just dislike the latter as well.

Hence, ADHM will probably just end up being a fair one-time watch for most, unlike Rockstar which, for so many, keeps pulling you back to it again and again, as you discover more love and more pain hidden within it with each successive viewing. (Then again, who knows. Perhaps ADHM has more depth to it than is apparent in the first viewing? Only time will tell.)

It is Ranbir Kapoor, eventually, that deeply links the two films together. You get the impression that a piece of Rockstar is still stuck in Ranbir’s heart, and it’s going to make him go back over and over again to it, until he gets some closure. Perhaps there really is no escaping what Imtiaz Ali and Ranbir reminded us with Tamasha – that it’s always the same story.

Ae Dil Hai Mushkil speeds to 100-cr mark; Shivaay picks up on day 4: Box office report

Diwali has long been a coveted box office slot for Bollywood filmmakers, with its potential to draw in the festive/holiday audience.

Ae Dil Hai Mushkil has pulled ahead of Shivaay in their box office battle

But the two high-profile Diwali releases this year — Karan Johar’s Ae Dil Hai Mushkil and Shivaay — haven’t given the industry as much of a boost as expected.

In fact, the joint collection of both films by the end of their opening weekend (Rs 64.16 crore), is reportedly the lowest in six years — and by a substantial margin.

“Diwali puja and festivities made a dent in the business of Ae Dil Hai Mushkil and Shivaay on Sunday. Business should witness an upward trend on Monday and Tuesday,” tweeted trade analyst Taran Adarsh.

Distributor Joginder Mahajan told IANS: “People are more inclined towards festivities during Diwali. So these collections are good for both films. The crucial days will be Monday and Tuesday.”

Of the two films, both of which released on Friday (28 October), Ae Dil Hai Mushkil has pulled ahead with a comfortable margin.

Opening collections: 

Shivaay‘s opening weekend collection (ending Sunday, 30 October) came to Rs 28.56 crore, trade reports confirmed.

Taran Adarsh and trade publication KoiMoi.com confirmed these numbers for Shivaay’s domestic box office collections over the three days — Friday: 10.24 crore; Saturday: 10.06 crore; Sunday: 8.26 crore.

In contrast, Ae Dil Hai Mushkil registered domestic weekend collections of Rs 35.60 crore.

At Rs 13.30 crore on Friday, ADHM gave Ranbir Kapoor and Anushka Sharma the third highest opening figures of their careers so far, and collections stayed strong on Saturday, at Rs 13.10 crore.

Just like Shivaay, ADHM too saw a drop in collections on Sunday, to Rs 9.20 crore.

Ranveer Singh on working with Shahid in Padmavati: ‘Excited to collaborate with him’

After starring as the lead protagonist in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Goliyon Ki Rasleela Ram-Leela (2013) and Bajirao Mastani (2015), Ranveer Singh is all set to play the antagonist Alauddin Khilji in Bhansali’s next period drama Padmavati.

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Bhansali’s Padmavati has just recently gone on floors and stars Deepika Padukone in the titular role as the beautiful queen of Chittor who plays a pivotal role in a battle.

While Ranveer Singh was already slotted to star in the film opposite his alleged real life girlfriend; the news of Shahid Kapoor joining the cast as Raja Ratan Rawal Singh — Rani Padmini’s husband also sparked rumours about a rivalry brewing between the leading men on sets.

While the shoot of Padmavati has just taken off; Ranveer Singh took time out to clarify a few things about his alleged rivalry with his costar in an exclusive interview with HT Cafe.

He told the daily that when he found out that the script required a third hero, he spoke to Bhansali that they “should get the best possible actor to play this part.” And I am very excited about Shahid [coming on board]. I think he’s a brilliant actor and an amazing inclusion to our team. He will add immense value.”

He also added the reports of any friction between the actors was not true since he and Shahid share a warm and affectionate equation with each other and also work out at the same gym. “I have tremendous amount of respect and admiration for his work and him as an actor. I have been watching his films even before I got into the industry. I am excited to be collaborating with him.” Singh elaborated in the interview.

This is not the only point of controversy surrounding Padmavati though. Reports had suggested that Sanjay Leela Bhansali had been asked to portray the historical drama with historical accuracy by a political organisation, or he wouldn’t be allowed in Gujarat.

Ae Dil Hai Mushkil courts fresh trouble: Now, row over ‘insult’ to Mohammad Rafi

Enraged over a dialogue about his father and iconic singer Mohammad Rafi in Karan Johar’s latest Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, Shahid Rafi has demanded a public apology from the filmmaker and has asked him to delete the sequence.

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In the recently released romantic-drama, Ranbir Kapoor’s character, aspiring singer Ayan, tells Anushka Sharma (playing Alizeh), that many people have said his voice is like Rafi, to which, Sharma says, “Mohammad Rafi? Woh gaate kam, rote zyada the na?”

Shahid says he did not expect a filmmaker like Johar to pass such a line under his watch and feels the damage has already been done.

“Karan Johar is a great filmmaker, I don’t know how he used this line. He should have thought about it as he is the director. I did not expect this from Karan. I am ashamed of him, he is supposed to be a good director,” Shahid told PTI.

“I saw the clipping. I haven’t seen the film, so let me see the film first then I will think what to do. But a public apology (from Johar) is appreciated, and also removal of the scene. Although the damage is done. Let’s see what he (Karan) can do from his side,” he added.

Shahid says he got to know about the dialogue through Rafi’s fans and was deeply saddened by it.

“I am deeply hurt about the dialogue. I came to know that the dialogue doesn’t take the story backward or forward. People have often mentioned or spoken about my father in films or in general in good way, then why all of a sudden this dialogue and this controversy.”

Shahid has also lashed out at Ae Dil Hai Mushkil dialogue writer Niranjan Iyengar.

“It (the dialogue) is not good. My father is a versatile singer, he has sung love songs, sad songs, bhajan etc. Niranjan wrote the dialogue and it seems he doesn’t know anything about my father. What image (of Rafi) is he trying to put in front of the youth?

“Even after more than 36 years, people still remember my father, he is a legend. So many shows take place in his memory.. he has huge fan following. He (Niranjan) doesn’t know what he is doing.”

Shahid said he is yet to talk to Johar regarding the issue.