Saturday, 30 January 2010

Movie Review: ISHQIYA: Two crooks, one love and adventure...

Nothing is as it seems somewhere in rural North India as two thieves (uncle-nephew) on the run from their former boss (also the brother-in-law of the uncle) seek refuge at the village of a former jail mate. To make matters worse, not only is the man dead, his voluptuous widow attracts both men into her own designs. The older man is smitten enough to dye his hair and beard with eyeliner, while the nephew is determined to bed the woman. Meanwhile there are rumblings of murky gun dealings in the nearby villages....

Told with comic exuberance, smothering village dialect and shimmering with delight and mystery of its three main protagonists, Ishqiya takes you on an enjoyable adventure of flesh, greed and power and pleasantly surprises you with a mild twist as it wraps up. Though loopholes exist, they are not enough to tarnish a wonderful film, if not for a family audience, but certainly for lovers of gritty, crooked and humourous cinema. Go for it.

Shining bright
Arshad Warsi delivers a dazzling performance just when we thought we had lost the actor in him, Naseeruddin Shah lets go as the charming, ageing lovelorn thief and Vidya Balan is a revelation in her role as the quiet scheming widow. The Vishal Bharadwaj-Gulzar team up again to create songs that add much needed colour and softness to the movie.

Friday, 15 January 2010

PIFF watch: Antichrist

The images above are not from the film poster, it is a sign to avoid this exceptionally sick film that we were unfortunate enough to watch at the Pune International Film Festival 2010 called ANTICHRIST. The uppercase and font size is for you to look out for the title and avoid the sickening experience that I had.
To be fair to the film, it has an exceptional five minutes at the start. As the unfazed film students discussed the use of light and camera angles, things were not the same for the general audience. Watch at your own risk.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Movie Review: PIFF Watch: Made in Hungaria

Made in Hungaria is just the kind of upbeat, feel-good, rock and roll filled musical comedy that you would love to watch at nine on a Sunday morning. Hail the festival's selection committee for that.

Inspired by the early life of Hungarian rocker Miklos Fenyo, peppered with dance numbers from the sixties, and set to the background of repressive communist Hungary, the movie relies on the liveliness of its lead cast, the resplendent, sugar-coated comedy - reality has no place in this bright, sunny song and dance genre.

The good thing is, you will not complain, for Made in Hungaria is a roller-coaster ride from start to finish. There is hardly a dull moment and if you love rock and roll, you are welcome to the party. Highly recommended.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

PIFF watch: A Police Romance (French)

Un roman policier or A Police Romance has sexual tension, drama and humour flow between its two main tales - one of a senior lady police officer been sexually attracted to a rookie and another of the same police team trying to bring down a mysterious drug dealer. The lady officer's search for love and lust almost threatens to mar the investigation, as her frustration and despair grows.
Saved by its unexpected humour, the film doesn't go deep enough for us to 'be' with the characters. We do get glimpses of their lives, the routine and loneliness that members of the police force have to face, but only on the surface. For Indian audiences, unaccustomed to such kind of cinema, such films are an refreshing experience, as was apparent at the screening. Perspective, as they say, may differ from person to person. Certainly worth a watch for cinema lovers.

Monday, 11 January 2010

PIFF watch: Taking Woodstock

Taking Woodstock is a sweet, light, comic take on the spirit of the Woodstock music festival. Based on a true story, it all begin in 1969 when Elliot Tiber, a struggling interior designer returns to help his parents salvage their motel in White Lake, rural New York. It is the news of a neighbouring state denying a permit for 'hippies' to host a music festival that Elliot contacts the producers to his place. What follows has an irreversible impact not only Elliot's life but on American culture too. Though the movie dips and looses tempo towards the end, it is still an experience best seen on 70mm. A bright if not brilliant first watch at the Pune International Film Festival 2010.

Saturday, 9 January 2010

PIFF 2010: ID cards, schedule and samosas....

The Pune International Film Festival is back again. Hurrah.
So if you love cinema, or believed until now that there were only Hindi and Hollywood movies movies been made, you were wrong. There are films from Hungary, France, Britain, Poland, Slovenia and from other countries all over the world. Countries, whose names you probably couldn't spell but their directors and actors still come together to make movies that they want to make and not what the market demands. Hail freedom. Art is individual and impartial, hence proved...

This time they have a web cam for the photographs, so the 'Delegate ID Card' is made with much less fuss. Rs 500 is cheap if you can camp at the theatres screening the movies over the coming week (The festival ends on January 14), its Rs 300 for those who can prove they are students.
The same bulk of literature is provided along with the ID card - one with the synopsis of every movie to be shown at the festival, a daily newsletter - this one carrying the inauguration pictures, and the schedule, that is sure to change by the first evening of the festival and it does - almost by tradition.

No complaints about the movies though or the experience - soft comfortable seats you can fall asleep in if you want, nice but expensive food (samosas at INOX are grand, even without sauce or chutney; and the volunteers who bluntly recite the movie synopsis (word-to-word from the same literature we carry) before each screening are forgiven that they do so. Another year, same festival.
As long as the movies are engrossing, and they allow cine buffs like us to view it from opening credits to end credits in peace (including uncensored sex scenes and a new vocabulary of swear words), and let us fulfil the inclination of reading the subtitles aloud sometimes, who's saying anything?
More about the movies watched in subsequent posts....