Sunday, 25 January 2009

Movie Review: Slumdog Millionaire: Riveting, Gripping Storytelling

The; just the gist of it…

A young illiterate man who sells tea at a call centre in Mumbai is a participant in the popular TV game show - Who wants to be a millionaire? He is one answer short of winning 2 million rupees, when the police pick him up on charges of cheating.

How did a man who grew up in the slums know the answers? The incredible story of Jamaal is depicted with cynical humour, great assurance and control by director Danny Boyle and co-director Loveleen Tandan.

The tale of cruelty, lust, greed, love, human decay and fate unravels like an exciting jigsaw puzzle in the background of filth and dust-ridden Mumbai. Endearing performances by the cast, a creatively rich and rocking background score by A R Rahman, all add up to make a fantastic movie. 

Cinematic Liberty?
There is no credible explanation as to why Jamaal and Salim speak such good English; can be attributed to the international production.Oscar or no Oscar, Slumdog Millionaire is an unforgettable experience on the 70mm screen.

Dev Patel is Jamaal

Frieda Pinto plays Latika, Jamaal's lost love
"How did you do it?" asks the Police Inspector, played by Irrfan Khan

photos courtesy:

Monday, 19 January 2009

Be still...

There is this abandoned derelict house on the bend of the road. The sky is its roof. We stop here and click each other's pictures. 

No "Smile please", no "Say cheese!"

On an impluse.

Thursday, 15 January 2009

Movie Review: The Edge of Heaven: compelling, powerful drama

It is the final five minutes of the movie that conveys the most powerful emotion.

A son sits on the beach, waiting for his father to return from his fishing trip. The waves ripple endlessly on the shore, a fishing boat lies moored to the left of the frame, a blue sea stretches before him. Even as the end credits roll, the son is still waiting, the waves still wash up the shore…

The best films are best experienced. You enter a theater, the lights go off and you are transported to another world, which is what The Edge of Heaven (Germany, 2007) did to me. Don’t miss it…

photo courtesy -

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Pune International Film Festival: Monday Brief

The plan 

one day 

two theaters

three movies 

11:30 hours - E-Square

Watching the jury members in person in the theater is like spotting THE WANTED, as their pictures are prominent in the festival booklet, aligned next to each other. 

One sits right behind me, his deep voice extolling the film to be screened - The Edge of Heaven...

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Movie Review : Persepolis : Poignant and Endearing

Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis, a graphic memoir about her childhood, teenage years and adult life is so beautiful and inventive in its black and white illustrations and content, a movie was always on the cards. 

Co-directed by Vincent Paronnaud and Satrapi herself, Persepolis is as inventive as the book and condensed with great skill into 95 minutes. The movie has innocence, humour, heartbreak, despair, hope, war and through it all the story of how a woman finally finds her individuality. 

The movie is a rare gem, though most of the animation is in black and white, you never miss the absence of colour, such is the brilliance of its storytelling. 

For Book Readers 
Much of the graphic memoir content has been trimmed in the movie, so if you want the whole canvas, the book is a great buy. Read the book review HERE.    

Rebellious, curious and full of life, young Marji finds an attentive audience in her grandma.

Marji uses her wits to escape the fundamentalists

Away from home, Marji's dream world is soon to be shattered

spotlight on Slumdog Millionaire

The most awaited movie of the year, yet to be released in India - Slumdog Millionaire has already won a lot of awards. Most significantly, AR Rahman won the Golden Globe for best score. Here is the link to the official website.

Monday, 12 January 2009

Pune International Film Festival 2009: before the screen lights up...


The razor moves like a snail over my chin. 

Passport photographs; somewhere between a blink and a smile. 

Two beautiful bored college girls hand me the schedule booklet and a photo ID to dangle around the neck.

They let us in, a tiny crowd, 15 minutes before the screening. Sunk in soft seats, in semi darkness with nothing but a blank screen to stare at, the audience reacts in various ways.

An old man nervously plays with the ID card strung around the neck. 

A woman gently taps the encroaching hand of her male companion. 

Four college students, A, B, C and D discuss if there will be uncensored sex scenes in the movie.
Student A reacts, “It is an animation movie, you moron.”

Student B fires, “So what, you fool?” 

It gets tense, just moments ago they had been laughing together. Abuses on various aspects of the human anatomy follow. C and D intervene and an uneasy silence prevails

Meanwhile, two beautiful bored girls appear before the screen and needlessly read out the movie name, duration and the director’s name, just like reading from those textbooks in school because the teacher asked them to. Strictly factual, not even a smile… 

I am in a sarcastic, ' laugh at every opportunity' mood. 
So when one of the bored girls says, "We request you to enjoy the movie," I smile widely. It seemed like a subtle command - You have no option but to enjoy.... 
Don't get it? 
Never mind. 

Mercifully, somebody decides to start the projector. 


Monday, 5 January 2009

Movie Review: Ghajini: A great idea wasted in formula

So what should a good movie be like?

For me, it is how well the director is able to communicate to the audience with sincerity and creative liberty, the story and the screenplay. Communicate, by cutting down on elements that are part of the film just because they have 'gone well with the audience' in the past. 
OK, don't yawn...

Ghajini (remake or not) has a great cinematic idea - a man with short-term memory (15 min, to be precise) searching for the killers of his lover. Its execution? A mix of refreshing comic and romantic scenes, repulsive presentation of violence, indulgence in the illogical - the hero beating numerous goons ( the villains never carry guns) in stylised fight sequences, a needlessly loud background score ( where silence would have worked better), and a couple of pleasing songs by A R Rahman

Aamir and Asin act their parts with conviction, so if you are strictly admirers of great acting, go for it, otherwise Ghajini is a mindless entertainer. Maybe you can watch the first half for the endearing chemistry between the lead pair and hear the rest of the tale from a friend...