Monday, June 29, 2009

'New York' Reviewed

Some movies are entertaining, interesting while they are running and yet completely forgettable. That doesn’t make them good or bad, it’s just the way they are. New York fits in this category. I didn’t find myself gushing about it the next day and yet when I suggested my friends go watch it, it wasn’t out of spite (I suffered, so shall everyone else!)!

New York, as is obvious, is based on how the 9/11 affected the lives of the protagonists. Not in a documentary sort of way but rather in the form of a story. It revolves around the lives of 3 friends, played by Katrina, Neil Nitin Mukesh and John Abraham. The movie traces their relationship from college to 7 years later in completely different circumstances.

Being a Yash Raj Film, the eyes were treated to rich visuals, beautiful cinematography and imagery that would make even the drabbest of cities enthralling. The music was good (though not memorable) and did not seem to stretch forever. The screenplay would fluctuate between the present where Neil is being interrogated (rather politely) by Irfaan Khan (where have I seen that before?) to flashbacks on his life in college. Though not seat gripping, the narrative did not fall and kept us involved and interested.

Which brings me to the actors. Katrina Kaif is so incredibly gorgeous that it becomes irrelevant to expect her to act. She played her bubbly part well and did I mention how pretty she looked?? John Abraham seems to be getting more confident with each film. He definitely commanded screen presence in this one and is a feast for one’s eyes as well!! Which leaves us with Neil Nitin Mukesh. What a disaster! And this comes from a self confessed fan post his debut in Johhny Gaddar. The man seems to be at a loss of words, fumbling through the script and being dragged along by the others. I had moments where I wanted to reach into the screen and shake him awake but I managed to hold myself back! Irfaan Khan has done so many of these police/ FBI roles that even he seems to have lost interest in them. His constant repetition of dialogues (you have been ‘detained’) and references to Islam where completely irrelevant (on the jetty trying to tell Neil about the greatness of USA) were unnecessary. All in all, he’s done better.

My problem with the movie perhaps stems from the fact that I invariably ended up comparing it with the Pakistani ‘Khuda Ke Liye’ also based on how 9/11 affected innocent people. The latter was a piece of art, a piece of cinema that I will make my children watch decades later. The acting, the screenplay, the music, the emotions – there wasn’t a single flaw I could find in the film. If you haven’t seen it, then do not fret, you will enjoy New York.

Go watch it with some friends, take it as light entertainment and try not to notice the misspelt Barrack (!!) Obama at the end!

Rating: 3 on 5

Paisa Wasool Moment: Katrina Kaif in her red streaked hair look.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Dhoni, India and T20!

Yes, India lost. Though the T20 World Cup did not attract as many eyeballs as IPL did, now that we have been knocked out of the same, everyone seems to want a piece of the pie to throw at Dhoni. He let us down, he’s playing politics, Veeru could have saved the day, Dhoni should be punished!!!

But wait a second. Aren’t we the same people who 3 days back were convinced that Dhoni is god’s gift to India? He is ‘Destiny’s Child’. Everything he touches turns to gold! Almost like the Alchemist himself? Then how can we so suddenly fall out of ‘love’? The fault, my friend, lies in each one of us. We ourselves build up our cricketers into some sort of demi-gods. When they perform, we almost open temples in their names and pray to them. But lo-behold. If they lose, it is like a personal betrayal. We think not twice before burning their effigies, throwing stones at their houses, calling them names and demeaning them in every way possible.

And the truth is that they are human beings. Exceptional ones to reach where they have and do what they do, but human nonetheless. The day we realize that and give them the benefit of doubt, we probably won’t feel so let down by them. Every single person in the country, without exception, seems to know exactly what went wrong and how they could have avoided this situation and won the championship. Well people, give them some credit. They reached where they did. They played like heroes for years. They did not this time. It happens. Deal with it!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Words that soothe...

I have often wondered how people pray. I don’t mean the rituals but the prayer itself. When one stands in a temple/ church/ mosque/ gurudwara, do you chant something, do you talk to god as a person, do you recite verses?

So before I ask you, let me talk about myself. Perhaps as an offshoot of my upbringing (and my mom’s undying efforts), when I close my eyes and join my hands, automatically the verses that come to my lips are those of the ‘Mool Mantra’ that start with ‘Ek Onkaar’. The Mool Mantra is supposed to be the first composition that Guru Nanak wrote when he gained enlightenment. I have also often wondered the meaning of what I chant and here is a part of what I have understood….

Ek Onkaar Sat Naam Karta Purakh Nir Bhao Nir Vair Akaal Murat Ajuni Saibhan Gur Parsad Jap Aaj Sach Jugaad Sach Aij

Ek Onkaar – There is but one god. He manifests Himself ceaselessly throughout His Creation in diverse forms

Sat Naam – His name is truth/ he is the ultimate truth

Karta Purakh – He is the creator

Nir Bhao – Fearless

Nir Vair – Without any hate

Aakaal Murat - God is a Being beyond time: An Eternal, Indestructible Entity

Ajooni – Never been born / doesn’t have a physical form

Saibhan - God is self-creating, existing alone without external support; God is self-begotten and has no origin

Each of these meanings are so simple and yet so pure. Which is what most religions were when they were created. What we see today in the garb of various religions is not how they were made. All religions, without an exceptions (except perhaps Budhism) have been hijacked by a group of people at some point of time in history who declared themselves the ‘keepers’ or ‘protectors’ of the religion and what we have today is not a shadow of the truth. But let me not digress, this post is not about religion but about praying for peace of mind.

So what about you? When you pray (if you do), do you talk to god? Do you recite something? If yes then what? Tell me….

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Wolverine Reviewed

The perfect recipe for a Monday evening to drive away the blues – hot chicken biryani, chilled lemonade, feet up on the bed and a movie DVD in the console. That is how we decided to take this week on. So yesterday evening, we kicked off our shoes, dimmed the lights and settled in for the much awaited film – Wolverine.

Now it is difficult to critique a movie which stars the delectable Hugh Jackman. When choosing which mutant hero they would use to launch the X-MEN feature-film prequel series, the creators of the hugely successful franchise had a no-brainer of a decision in going with Wolverine. Not only is he the most well-known and popular X-Men character, but Wolverine--as brought expertly to life in true leading-man fashion by Hugh Jackman--was essentially the star of the three previous X-MEN movies (and I would vouch for that). Ever since his act at the Oscars this year, I have become a sworn fan. He doesn’t disappoint here either from flashing those rippling muscles at no provocation to being the ‘good’ guy. It’s tough to think objectively on this one, but objective we must be and alas, the film fails to please.

Wolverine is the back story of the fiery and conflicted Wolverine (James Logan), whose mutant powers include killer claws that shoot from his knuckles and a regenerative ability that allows him to live seemingly forever. The movie follows Logan from his first recognition of his mutant powers as a young child up through his infamous Adamantium rebirth and the total memory loss that would subsequently fuel his angry quest. It traces his relationship with his half brother Victor (who will go on to become SaberTooth) and how Logan develops a conscience thus putting an end to their ‘together forever’ pact!

So far so good. The problem I suppose is that the filmmakers couldn't decide what to cut out, so they threw everything into the pot and hoped for the best. The results are half interesting, but half filler. Also, the pirated version of Wolverine, albeit what’s claimed to be a “work print” of it (one that lacks various digital effects and is shorter than the real thing), is unfortunately the only one available as of now. Which means that the special effects were more or less a half baked video game and I suspect play a role in our lack of satisfaction with the film.

The script has many open loops and is not very tight. The director has built up characters for no joy. Take for example the exemplary action in the first half by the sword guy who eventually is reduced to a moron who is supposedly the perfect (?!?) mutant (who is slain in 30 seconds flat by the wolf brothers). Or the very good looking Remy LeBeau who can manipulate any material into a weapon. Unless they bring him in for the next X-Men movie, it was a complete waste of a character.

I hate to be a bubble burster (if there is such a word) but I truly tried very hard to like the film. The film itself is not bad. Its just that when you follow up on a cutting edge series like X-Men, you are expected to be fantastic. And fantastic it is not!

Rating: 2.5 on 5

PS – I know Ras is going to go all out with protests. But truly, for a moment forget that Hugh Jackman was in the film…now don’t you agree partly with me??

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