Thursday, 19 May 2011

HAUNTED 3D: Average spooks, unintentional laughs

As in Vikram Bhatt's earlier release 1920, the setting is a bungalow faraway from the city, with fog as blinding as vehicular smoke, the imprint of a hand, standard shrieks, severed heads and scampering feet. A woman's dead spirit is ravaged by the dead spirit of her perverse piano teacher, for 80 years and counting, until our dour-faced hero Rehaan (Maha Akshay, decent) arrives at the scene. With the ghost working a night-shift, Rehaan has to wait for darkness for the blood and scream show to take over. Unable to release the girl from the evil spirit's clutches, the hero is conveniently transported back in time to prevent the chain of events from occurring.

Things get predictably romantic with kisses exchanged, the ghost making some lustful attempts in invisibly tearing through a woman's old-fashioned attire. Thanks to 3D, there are a few rare heart-stopping moments. Also inclusive, is an abundance of unintentionally-funny moments of raw, average dialogues.
As in 1920, Bhatt exploits the sway of religion to build on beliefs, symbolisms and superstition. But then, ghosts, like our knowledge of death, been unknown territory, are allowed their liberties and free will. We only say, this could have been so much fun.

It is not that borrowed ideas from movies like The Entity, What Lies Beneath, is a deterrent. The weakness is the tepid, old wine script, that runs on similar lines. Laugh while you can, the scare moments are limited, and even if this is your first 3D movie, Haunted displays what not to do in 3D at several instances. You are advised to take someone along with a good sense of humour, if you are risking it. You will need the jokes to keep coming, a 3D screening on 70mm has no intervals, yet.

As to why we need to be frightened at the movies, and when did the whole thing begin, that is for another blog post.                             

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Movie Review: Shor in the City: Humour, characters work wonders

SHOR IN THE CITY is a juxtaposition of random sound and visuals of Mumbai during the sonorous Ganesh Festival,enlivened with frothy humourous dialogues, lively city-bred characters and some drama.The film mostly works in its humour bits. The drama is a little steely, with people getting away with murder umpteen times, without any police intervention.Thankfully, the director duo (US based, of Indian origin), do not take things too seriously and spin a fun yarn of three bumbling goons,a NRI, a budding cricketer, a newly-wed couple and a girl flooded with marriage proposals.

Tilak (Tushar Kapoor, adequate), Mandook (Pitobash Tripathy, standout) and Ramesh (Nikhil Dwivedi, good) steal a bestselling author's manuscript, Tilak plans to publish the same to boost his pirated book business. Abhay (Sendhil Ramamurthy, cast suitably), back in India to start a new business, is hounded by local goons for 'protection' money. Sawan (Sudeep Krishnan, fits the part), is a struggling cricketer hoping to make it to the Mumbai under-22 team.

The central idea, how the city's arrested, shunted spaces, the booming human population, the resultant noise, affects the way people act, is reflected vibrantly on the characters. A Lord Ganesh idol strapped to a car seat, couples kissing at Marine Drive in broad daylight, are couple of eye-catching vignettes.

The familiar Mumbai lingo finds its crazy outlet in Mandook's loafing character, and this is where we find the most engaging scenes. The female strands are as unconventional as they come, though it is never clear how Tilak's wife (Radhika Apte, arresting) ends up in wedlock. Yet, there is a bitter-sweet humour in how a young girl (Girija Oak) complains about her dry lips and later of a forcefully extracted ring.

There are not many complaints, as the directors seem to have achieved what they set out to achieve - an entertaining, irreverent tale of Mumbai, with both real and comic book style interpretations gelling in to the narration. Go for it, best watched on 70mm. 

Final spark
A 'professional' protester douses himself in kerosene and rants a mock-sacrifice monologue, then goes stiff in horror when a lighter flame is held before him.  

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Movie Review: I AM: Relevant, Lacking Punch

Although the four stories are all relevant and contemporary, I AM lacks the punch to take its audience on an edgy journey that the film could have been.The torch of promise is all there - in Afia's isolation and consequent decision to have a baby from a sperm donor, Megha's unwilling return to her former home in Kashmir, Abhimanyu's trauma of a nightmarish childhood and finally Omar's teasing homosexuality that has disastrous consequences for whoever crosses his path.

The performances are all inspiring, the stand outs been Anurag Kashyap's underplayed child abuser and Purab Kohli's nervous sperm donor. It is probably in the brief formats of the stories that the depth is missed. We never get to see Afia's life go full circle, only the abrupt end of her decision to stem a budding relation. Megha's agony is effectively understated in the use of an effective background score,the flashback is never shown, only heard, to subtle effect. Abhimanyu's story gets through, if not searingly, but with deft touches. Yet,the script here conveys the pain of abuse,and not the salvaging moment, as to, a solution. Omar's story is a more about the twist in the tale, rather than about targeting gays.Yet, even if the film succeeds in social awareness of the issues rather than cinematic, I AM is still worth a watch for its sincerity.