Jagga Jasoos

My friend said “It’s Tintin”, after he caught a trailer of Jagga Jasoos in which RK was seen dancing in school uniforms. I didn’t get his fantasy then. I watched the film. He was spot on. In fact it’s a ‘Tintin meets Indiana Jones’. It gets a whopping ‘go for it’ recommendation from my side despite being overindulging in parts – specially towards the end when it steps beyond the 62nd page.

 

  • Visuals are stunning. I don’t know which scenes were sets, which were outdoors and which VFX; I don’t care. The frames look beautiful – straight from an animated comic strip… the sky, the water, the greens, … the ostrich, everything made in heaven.
  • Ranbir Kapoor, Katrina Kaif, Saswata Chatterjee, Saurabh Shukla, Rajatava Dutta – knowing the Bengali names in the list, I can safely call it a casting coup. By the way, “Have I told you lately that I love” to watch Katrina Kaif? I always did, no matter what the cynical world had to say about her stiff accents. The role Saswata essayed was initially assigned to Govinda. He opted out citing a creative fallout. The movie took long in its making and finally saw the light of the day… thankfully! 
  • I’ve never seen Manipur hogging the limelight this long on the celluloid. Mind you, it’s still a Hindi film. Ukhrul? I have never heard beyond Imphal and Loktak lake. Kudos to Anurag Basu to venture something so offbeat!
  • It’s a Bollywood musical. I honestly don’t remember experiencing anything of this sort before. Pritam had an extremely difficult task of not falling into pits of repetition and yet sound mushy, fantastic and plain. He does. I can’t say if there are hit songs, but it’s endearing to listen throughout. He delivered exactly what Mr. Basu asked for. This is what a Tintin must have been made of… if it were written in Hindi. Pritam goes from cartoon to hiphops to North East folks to dance moves to African beats!
  • RK is Tintin with the spike on his hair. He is jolly, lovable, plausible and a great actor. He plays Indiana Jones too. Saswata C does the Sean Connery act. He plays the Henry Jones, Sr… but highly indigenous. What a gift he’s to the contemporary Indian cinema! Hope he gets noticed more to the larger mass.
  • It’s Bengal all the way. That’s not a prize, in general. But for me, it was a bonus I didn’t have any expectations of. It stretches beyond Kolkata (and its trams) to far west… Purulia (yet another lesser name on the map). Almost all the lead characters bear a Bengali surname: Bagchi, Sengupta, Maitra etc. Then there is ‘Agapastala’ and ‘Shundi’ – it took my Bengali ears a couple of seconds to adjust and sink them in… with all my hospitable heart. If 70% of Hindi movies brazenly display Delhi and Punjabi nuances and references, the taste-buds must welcome such a change.
  • The first half is outstanding. However the film falters as progresses. I’d classify JJ as a comic adventure flick. Such movies are common in English. It’s meant to have no substance or reason, but just for moving from one funny or adrenaline-dripping sequence to another. The problems with JJ are explained in the opening scenes, albeit in a different context. It’s the clash between the left and the right brain of Mr. Basu. He couldn’t restrain his left brain in totality and cared to pause to explain things, tie events with reality and give a deep meaning into the plot. That stretched the film and surely made it more expensive while taking a toll on its engrossing index. Having said that, I can’t really deduct marks on an experiment so passionate and goodhearted. It’s an honest dream visualized by its makers and I’m happy to see it.

# RK, Anurag Basu and Pritam Chakraborty – this is their 2nd memorable trio-work. Barfi was marvelous. 

Rock songs – my top picks

Let’s get straight to the point. These are my picks in the category of ‘Songs you must not die before listening to’. I’m keeping the scope of the selection limited to a language called English, a sketchy genre called rock songs this time around. (Do I need to say that the biggest limitation is my own limited exposure? It’s also a language I barely speak). I’ll try to cover as many singers/bands as I can so that the list doesn’t look predictably clustered around a chosen one or two. That’d also mean I’ll sacrifice many outstanding songs for the sake of uniformity across the table. Maybe I can group the songs around the names behind them. Ordering is a dated concept, I don’t care much. Those in RED are must before dying.

1.  AC/DC – It’s the most definitive and straight way to Rock n Roll, hard but not heavy, simple but not easy.

Shook me all night long / Highway to hell / Back in black / Thunderstruck

2. Bruce Springsteen – The Boss takes you to different flavors of honesty; hard, soft, folk or glam. He never had a writer’s block. He is one LIVE-time experience.

Brilliant disguise / Born in the USA / My hometown / The river / Tunnel of love / Human touch / Thunder road / …

3. REM – A cryptic journey that makes you wonder about your own consciousness. They weave through frequencies to create a department of sound engineering, I wouldn’t know what ‘alternative’ meant without them.

The great beyond / Man on the moon / Losing my religion / Orange crush

4. Nirvana – Minimalistic, grunge, angst.

In bloom / Smells like teen spirit / Been a son / Come as you are / You know you’re right

5. Pearl Jam – This is a band… maybe the band!

Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town / Jeremy / Black / Even flow / Last kiss / Better man / Nothingman /  Given to fly / I am mine / Rearviewmirror / …

6. Alice in Chains – Singing lessons from a drug addict to anyone who wants to sing grunge or any other form of rock.

I stay away / Would? / Rooster / Rain when I die

7. Stone Temple Pilots – Grunge.

Interstate love song

8. Dire Straits – Mark Knopfler played, sang and headed this band.

Heavy fuel / Money for nothing / On every street / Walk of life / Brothers in arms / Romeo and Juliet / Tunnel of love

9. Motorhead – Devil-may-care Lenny is the quintessential rockstar. He stuck to his roots, of singing with head held high and spewing venom at death.

Ace of spades / Killed by death / Damage case

10. Soundgarden – Greatest singer according to many list with Matt Cameron on the drums – dark and heavy hardness of early grunge.

Jesus Christ pose / Black hole sun / Fell on black days / Outshined / Spoonman / Loud love

A lot more were expected, I know I’m not quite there. Assume I had a strict word limit in a minimalistic world. I’ve consciously kept the elitists of the likes of Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Beatles, The Who, Rolling Stones, Deep Purple out – I don’t listen to them (actually I don’t feel doing so) often and they are already parts of major playlists.

Raees, none the richer

Rahul Dholakia, the famous director of Parzania (2005), is not a hit maker, while SRK and the producers (his better half has a stake) of Raees are best known for their command over commerce. On paper, it’s an interesting combination of a semi-real plot and backdrop setting with the glitz of SRK, his larger than life character and its bearded look. In terms of Box Office collections, the film has had a decent run, crossed 100 Cr seamlessly.  Nawazuddin is brilliant in his role of a police officer. SRK does well as an actor. That’s about the plus points in Raees. The real or deglam sides of the movie doesn’t blend with the commercial aspects and the end result is a dull, insipid film. It’s a listless experience for me with no takeaway. I’m used to see much worse movies, but this is a sleepy hollow. It’s enough to say it’s watchable once to hardcore SRK fans. Aamir’s Dangal and Salman’s Sultan are far superior and far bigger success stories.

Dangal, 3 cheers

Dangal was released on 23rd Dec ’16 whereas I watched it on 15th Jan ’17 in a packed theater at a small town. That says a lot about its BO performance. Yes, it has clocked in 370Cr+ (as I write on 17th Jan) and still ticking – it’s the highest grosser of ’16 (surpassing Sultan) and an all-time blockbuster. I was part of the wing who felt Sultan would dent away Dangal‘s prospects. I was wrong, quite happily though.

They’re similar because there’s a scooter, a village in Haryana, similar accents, a trunk with medals, shabby walls in the room, rustic backdrops, nice-happy folks around, hero sports a paunch in his midlife and there’s wrestling that’s oxygen to both the films.

As Aamir Khan spoke about in KJo’s Koffee With Karan TV show, he was initially jittery when first heard about Sultan being made on a similar theme. He called up Adi (producer, Sultan) and understood that it was a love story. He was at peace then on. He knew he was safe with his father-daughter story of Dangal. Even if he’s speaking in hindsight now, he has a right to speak. These 2 films are very different from each other.

Nitesh Tiwari has left a great impression on Indian cinema by making this ‘based-on-a-true-story’ movie. There’s a constant provocation to succumb to his sweet tooth, but he was clear in his head of where to deny and where not. A heady mix of real vs fantasy, Dangal is a must watch for all. The protagonist, Mahavir Singh Phogat, is young for jiffies, mostly middle aged and quite a bit of a senior citizen in this Jatt-land. He has 4 daughters, has a wife who knows no singing-dancing-romancing. Sakshi Tanwar plays this role of a village housewife who occasionally objects to her husband’s whims, but finally gives in to the patriarch with a strange reticence. Haryana doesn’t belong to the most progressive states of India, be it economy or women’s empowerment – Dangal doesn’t hide that. The 14Y old girl in bridal-wear says it all. The real elements in this film stand tall amidst the deftly injected props to turn the film absorbing throughout. It teaches Indians about wrestling basics without ever being preachy. In fact the dialogues are quite quirky and fit the bill of supplying adequate laughter to viewers while matching the surrounding. The father-daughter bonds, the ordeal of a father vs a trainer and the hardship of grueling training sessions and misunderstandings – all covered well in the time limit of 2hrs and 40mins.

The woman-centricity is stronger as the fight against the stereotyped backwardness of the society is louder. There is a semi-villain towards the climax to intensify the drama the audience craves for. The protagonist is not all over the frames; there are girls who share, if not hog, the limelight. Geeta and Babita Phogat, played by two young girls and two very young ones, their cousin (again two timeframes, two actors) – they have a solid reason to be in the film. It’s actually a Dangal of sorts between top acting performances by many. There is no MMA, but just plain, classical wrestling without ‘Dhobi-pachar’. Technicalities overshadow the glitz until the climax which unfolds to the spectators’ much desired outcome. If the director has decided to go no-nonsense, the music director’s job gets tougher. Plus there’s no romance. Many would have declined the offer, but Pritam has his skills honed to serve different clients, geographies and moods. He ropes in Daler Mehndi to strike perfect notes on the baseline in the title track. The songs are almost tightly coupled to the film and still enjoyable.

Aamir has bagged Filmfare best actor’s award for this role 3 days back, a national award seems in the offing. The ‘injurious to health’ father, the headstrong rebel, the frustrated man who had to abandon his dream, the passionate trainer, Aamir Khan has physically and mentally transformed himself into this character – definitely one of the finest performances we get to see in Hindi films.

Top picks: Aamir Khan, 6 newcomers (who enact Geeta, Babita and Omkar), Pritam, wrestling.

Rating: 4.5 / 5

 

Byomkesh Pawrbo

Sharadindu Bandyopadhyay’s brilliant creation, detective Byomkesh Bakshi, is being re-read by Bengali filmmakers and as a side-effect, there is a revival of sorts for him as an author. In last one decade, Bengali directors have all turned to sleuths – a typical case of ‘Domino theory’. Byomkesh has spawned off multiple franchises since his business track record has been decent in last few years. Director Arindam Sil and lead actor Abir Chatterjee has teamed up for their 2nd venture – Byomkesh Pawrbo.Read More »

Dear Zindagi (2) – Symbols and Meaning

Story about Everest and the Love for Disorder
The story of the film is also the transformation of Kaira from a person who likes complicating the simplest of things, Turning things over instead of keeping them straight to a person who earns the ability to face and resolve life’s problems.
The story of a climber who blindly wants to climb Everest as told by Dr. Jehangir Khan to Kaira during her first session, summarizes what Kaira seemingly does very often – Complicate the simplest of things. Lesson learnt, let things that are simple be simple. Just because your past or present is convoluted, do not complicate the simple things around. It becomes second nature to complicate things. The theme is again reiterated when Kaira proclaims that wants to set herself free. Toward the end of film, Kaira starts seeing things as they are and responds as she feels, with a sense of freedom. She, in most innocent terms, admits to liking Dr. Jehangir Khan. It was a moment that could have been so complicated, but she admits it candidly and the Doctor reciprocates the feeling and we are done.Read More »