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Saturday, July 29, 2017

Fidaa

Going by its non-Telugu title I hadn't cared much about watching Fidaa until I discovered it was directed by Sekhar Kammula.
The opening scene is very interesting and very different from the routine star entry of heroes in Telugu films. It has three orphaned brothers and their early-morning routine in the US with the hero cooking.Yes, this Telugu hero does the unthinkable! There is a disparity in age as the youngest is a late adoption.
One day, they decide that Raju, the eldest should get married so that the family is complete. Towards this, they travel to India. There they meet Sharanya whom they together select to be Raju's bride..
But it is the naughty sister of Sharanya, Sai Pallavi, who soon becomes the center of the story.
Varun Tej, the second brother and Pallavi are drawn to each other. Yet, a misunderstanding separates the two, with Varun returning to the US with his brother and the newly-wed bride.
But after returning, Varun understands that he isn't able to overcome his feelings for Pallavi and messages his proposal to her. Pallavi not only rejects the proposal but also goes on to get engaged to someone else. Heart-broken, Varun tries to forget her, in vain.
Later, Pallavi comes to the US to visit her sister. This allows the two to meet once again and realize their feelings for one another.
When Pallavi returns to India, her father convinces her to marry for love and no other reason.
The story line maybe thin but what makes the movie a run-away success is its execution.
One, as is his wont, Kammula knows how to direct his movies towards a youth appeal. The very bubbly and energetic acting by the female lead in combination with Kammula's known focus on women characters helps too. A big and bold move by the director is relying on Telangana flavor for his movie. He tells the story in this backdrop without making a mockery of either the region or the language. Third, is the way Kammula has kept his movie so devoid of all theatrics and close to everyday life. That village life doesn't equate to backwardness is illustrated well.
Sai Chand as Sharanya and Pallavi's father,  Geetha Bhaskar as their aunt, Aryan as Varun's younger brother have added great value to the movie.
I did not watch Varun Tej's movies earlier, wary as I am of the OTT performances from the Konidela stable. But Varun in the role of a quiet, educated and dignified NRI has done a very decent job.The giant personality also seems so apt for the role. Full marks to Kammula for a great casting in the movie.
Of course, there are a few weak links too. Sharanya looks like a wannabe in trying to fit into the western style and her acting seems a little forced. Pallavi's sudden transformation in the way she dresses in the US is inexplicable.The end, where Varun decides to stay back in India also doesn't look convincing. It isn't that easy to chuck one's dreams, no?
Pallavi is definitely NOT a looker. In fact, her very first scene has her running and screaming her gut out. I was hoping that this was not the female lead. Yet, she is the main draw. Kudos to a non-Telugu girl in learning Telugu and pull off the Telangana accent so well.
The movie is a smooth, light hearted love story which will appeal more to the youth in their 20s.
My rating 3/5. You will not be bored, for sure.

Friday, July 21, 2017

A disaster called Jagga Jasoos

I have managed, so far, to avoid going to watch movies with Katrina Kaif in it. It is like watching it with one half of the lead cast missing. Her presence/absence with the jarring accent makes no impact whatsoever on the movie.
Well, Jagga Jassos is about how Ranbir Kapoor sets out to trace his missing father (played by Saswata Chatterjee).
Ranbir's father leaves for some undisclosed destination after admitting him to a boarding school in his childhood. But he makes sure he greets his son on his birthday through a video tape he sends every year. One year, when the tape doesn't arrive, Ranbir sets out to look for his father. The story is supposedly based on the infamous Purulia Arms drop case in the 90s. Saswata discovers the conspiracy and is then forced to be a fugitive as his life is threatened. Katirna is also a detective of sorts in international crime and helps Ranbir find his father. There is also another weird logic because of which Ranbir is sure Katrina could help find his father. But wait! Why bother...
The director, Anurag Basu, invests about an hour of 'Interstellar'isque kind of plot combined with a 'Sound of Music' one... resulting in a musically confounding movie which does justice to neither. Whether the move is to be a mystery, a musical, an adventure or a romantic comedy...Basu remains undecided till the end. Ranbir's Tintin-like curl in hair and how it helps the story is also as unfathomable as its story.
Any reason to watch Jagga Jasoos? Hard to find. Yet...
The bright spots in the movie are all the wonderful locales that it takes you through in the quest of Ranbir's father. Second, very decent job by Saswata Chatterjee. Third, Ranbir's brilliant performance through all his idiosyncratic behavior, namely that of a child-adult with a stammer. Following his father's advice, he sings his way through his stammer to be able to converse. This jars after a while in this non-musical movie.
The execution of the plot is poorly handled. I am sure Basu finds no help from the break-up between the lead pair in real life. As it is, getting Kaif to emote is an elephantine task and a miffed Kaif is so plastic, a touch and she would smash into smithereens. Finding an excuse for her accent in every movie is an unenviable task for each of her directors. Nawazuddin Siddique in a 10-second appearance packs more punch.
You can still survive the ordeal, maybe, if you ask someone to wake you up in the second half of the movie.
A 1.5/5 for the movie from me.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Mom

"God can't be everywhere...and hence he created mom," is the only clich├ęd sentence you'd hear in this otherwise unconventional thriller movie.
There are times like these, I am glad I don't have a TV connection at home. I had no clue of the story, the actors or what the film is about. All I knew and wanted to know was that it had my favorite, Sridevi in it.
The film starts with a family of four: parents and two daughters, the elder one, Sajal Ali trying to convince her parents to be allowed to go to a farm house to party. Sridevi's advice to her to be careful and safe are not heeded as she is her step mom and Sajal doesn't like her.
Yet, when she goes out to party, she is cautious, refusing to dance with strangers and even turning down drinks offered by them. As in all of the rape cases, rape happens not because it is the girl's fault but because of a man's hurt ego. Sajal is kidnapped from the party, raped and thrown into a roadside ditch.
(The music during this scene is so eerie, it gives you goosebumps!)
Sajal is later found and admitted into a hospital. Cloning the infamous Nirbhaya case, the trial goes on for days, the accused go scot-free, appeals in the High Court etc etc.
How Sridevi ensures justice is done to her daughter forms the crux of the story.
In this. she is assisted by Nawazuddin Siddique, a private detective and Akshaye Khanna, the police officer. Nawaz's role is described as a special appearance but Akshaye and he share similar screen presence.
Nawaz's rat-like appearance took me by surprise. Guess as a detective, he needed that look to merge with the crowd. For an actor, it must have taken guts to make himself appear almost grotesque. Scenes which Sridevi and he shared lit up the screen with brilliant performances. Akshaye Khanna as the police officer who keeps tabs on criminals, both "who do something wrong" and those "who do something very wrong," has done a brilliant job.
None of the actors try to outshine the other. On the other hand, they fit into their respective roles so well! Adnan Siddique in the role of Sajal's father leaves a mark in the portrayal of a father-daughter relationship. He isn't given much to do though.
Writing even one extra line about the movie, will give away the plot, thin as it is.
The movie is pretty predictive offering simplistic, implausible and impractical solutions. These things don't happen in real life
As a child we used to clap when viewing the dishoom-dishoom scenes between the hero and the villains. You get a similar feeling when you watch the villains get punished in this movie. The approach is as simple as that. Dishoom-dishoom and your work is done. No time or effort has gone into weaving intricate details of a complex plot into this thriller.
Why should you watch the movie then? Subtle and brilliant performances by Sridevi, Akshaye Khanna and Nawazuddin Siddique...and a story that manages to keep you interested to the end.

In the last five minutes...you know what's going to come but still, be prepared to pull out your large handkerchiefs for the copious tears which are sure to flow.
My rating: 3.5/5....the extra 0.5 sheerly for my bias towards Sridevi. And why not? Look at the thousand and one expressions she is capable of giving in any scene.