Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Yearend Post

Reflecting upon the last year, I find that it has been quite a tumultuous one. Things happened. Shit happened. Learnt a lot. Gained a lot. Lost a lot. Made new good friends. Broke up with a very good old friend too. Handled huge responsibilities. Failed at a few. Rose again. Fell again. But then that is life. That happens all the time, but we don't stop and think about them unless it is the turn of the year. We tend to account a lot of things for this largest unit of time. Things and shit keep happening throughout, we never list them otherwise. This fact irks me the same way it irks Dhirendra Kumar of when everybody celebrates the Sensex passing the 13000 or the 16000 mark, or any other thousand. And that is why I was reluctant to write a year-end post.

Come year end and you have all sorts of lists being compiled up from all directions and on all media. As the clock ticks away to the last few moments of 2008, I am thinking about my lists. I had wanted to blog about my favourite movies, my top-ten songs, my most memorable moments, best blogposts I read, coolest photographs I clicked, my resolutions, things I want to improve next year, basically tens of top-ten lists of the departing year and lists of resolutions for the new year in gestation. But I was either short on time or deprived of genuine inclination. Or maybe I could not decide where to begin, what to pick first from amongst the plethora of ideas I had in mind.

Anyway, however hard I might try not to, I cannot stop myself from considering the new year as a fresh start in life. Have many things in mind, haven't listed them though. Listing them and not being able to fulfil them hurts. But sometime or the other, I need to list them down, else I'd forget them. And I'll have to fulfil what I list. Oops...I already listed down the first and the most important resolution. Before I end up listing a few more of my (dark) secrets, let me wish you all a Happy New Year and bid 2008 adieu!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi

As I drove back from work last Friday, I was sort of worried seeing the traffic from Windsor Manor onwards, and dreaded another Kumaraswamy rally like last month when I had got stranded for five hours on the road. As I inched ahead towards Cauvery Circle, I realised it was not Kumaraswamy but Shahrukh Khan who was holding the traffic. At the Cauvery Theatre. No, the King Khan had not descended there incarnate, it was only his new Aditya Chopra flick. I drive the same road everyday at almost the same time, but have never encountered such congestion due to a release. This was despite the fact that RNBDJ was the only Hindi film released that weekend and Cauvery is a rather mediocre theatre.

This huge turnout can be attributed to intelligent marketing, good promos, and of course the banner's and actor's reputations, a year-long wait for a Shahrukh movie, who appeared only in a cameo in Bhootnath this whole year. Despite dozens of idiotic poor jokes, scores of plot loopholes, and hundreds of irritating jis, the movie still made a whopping Rs 60 crores worldwide on the opening weekend, per YRF. “I have become like an ISI mark on a product, so people think, ‘dekh toh le, kuch toh hoga, since it is SRK and Adi together’,” is how Shahrukh reacts on Economic Times, and for once I see a slightly modest SRK.

The movie begins with a situationally forced wedding between the blander than common-man Punjab-Power-lighting-up-your-life employee and his teacher's commoner than the girl-next-door daughter Anushka Sharma. Following which, they inhabit, but do not cohabit, in the mansion the small-town average man lived all alone. The moustached, oil-haired, bespectacled, white-full-sleeved-baggy-shirt-clad cartoon transforms into another spike-haired joker donning red/yellow/orange/peach/lavender/plum/violet tees and sporting large fashionable shades, in an attempt to win his wife's love. And the wife does not recognize the new guy as her husband, because she abhors him so much she never even saw him properly, and falls for the outspoken blabbermouth who emerges from the shy introvert every evening. There is another toon who provides all the paraphernalia required for this double life. And I still wonder what part did poor Rab play in all this.

Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi goes an as SRK shifts hamming from one character to the other, going through several emotions and changes of minds. The simple Simon character keeps smiling secretly and mischeivously, as if he is the forged one, or is playing a prank. The good-for-nothing Anushka prepares lunch boxes for one (and asks them back in the evening without fail) and teaches choreographic steps to the other. She doesn't have any charm or appeal whatsoever, and an extra would have looked better. Vinay Pathak disappointed immensely. Sirji, you are not made for this kind of crappy shadowy roles when you can run an entire film on your own.

The only good part lays exactly at the end of the first hour, when Kajol/ Bipasha/ Lara/ Preity/ Rani appear on screen for less than a minute each, and SRK mimics Raj Kapoor/ Devanand/ Shammi Kapoor/ Rajesh Khanna/ Rishi Kapoor, to the tunes of an intelligently written and choreographed song even with stupid lyrics: Hum Hain Rahi Pyaar Ke, Fir Milenge Chalte Chalte. You can listen to Haule Haule too.

Shahrukh's last venture, the year-old Om Shanti Om is closely paralleled in Rab Ne.... SRK in two characters, one introvert, timid and sincere (an underdog there), the other flamboyant, smart and vivacious (a successful superstar there), one new girl in the lead role, one good actor screwing up his reputation being a sidekick to SRK, a star-studded light-hearted song, even the release timing at the end of year, coinciding with another actor's who allegedly has a dog named after him.

How much ever money RNBDJ would have made, SRK-Adi's third project together is nowhere compared to their first (DDLJ). The second one, Mohabbatein, was likeable too, maybe because of AB and Aish. But I would nevertheless agree with Shahrukh, SRK and Adi ek saath hain, kuchh to hoga, dekh to lo ek baar, though I'd rate it only 5 on 10.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Monday Blues and Shopping

Come Monday and you get the blues. I look for excuses of not going to work on almost all Mondays, and more often than not, end up working from home. Actually it starts sprouting up Sunday afternoon, latest by the evening. Add some greys from the skies on Monday morning, and you have a dirty, gloomy concoction of blue-grey tinges that keeps you troubled throughout the day. And a bad start to the week tends to create a bad taste.

With my contrarian style of working and the flexibility at work I generally sit with the code late nights on weekdays and afternoons on weekends, becoming the object of suspicion of colleagues with my short hours at work (Hope my manager doesn't read this...), getting up as late on a weekday as on the weekends, there is no reason I should get depression-filled Monday mornings. But I still get them. Monday is like getting up for the week. A parallel can be drawn between nights and weekends, between dawns and Mondays, between being night owls and flexi-workers.

So anyway, come Monday and you get the blues. There are several remedies to it, the one I usually follow is going out on Sunday evenings also. Well, the popular idea of staying indoors Sundays helps me because I find lesser traffic on roads and lesser congestions at restaurants and theatres. And going out on Sunday evenings leaves lesser time to worry about the next morning.

Another cure I discovered this Monday, though it was practised by female colleagues from my first job and I never realised it, was to go out shopping on weekends and wear the loot to work on Monday. Okay that can be a girly thing to do but I really felt lesser impact this and the previous Monday. I could beat the blues by donning new pairs of denim blues (and new shirts too) to office, and receiving compliments. However, this leaves me in a lurch for the next 50 weeks; two pairs of jeans is almost the upper limit I buy in year.

Going out for lunch on Mondays can be of help too. This is inspired by another friend; she doesn't eat out on the weekends, but makes sure she doesn't have dinner cooked at home on Mondays. For me, good food anyway serves as an anti-depressant at all times. And the best part is that unlike clothes, I do not have a quota on eating out.

Talking of melancholy and food, I am already feeling sad about not being able to finish this piece on Monday, and about getting up five hours later and going to work. Let me visit the kitchen and eat something before I retire. By then, you let me know how do you deal with your Monday blues.

[Photo courtesy: Vicky Walsh]

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Cognitive Dissonance

To be or not to be, that is the question;
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing, end them. To die, to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to — 'tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish'd. To die, to sleep;
The Shakespearean Prince Hamlet in his soliloquy above talks about his indecisiveness. There are conflicting views among the literary intelligentsia on which one is the to be option and which is the not to be. I feel facing the highs and lows of life seems the more difficult to be option, and the braver option of taking up arms and fighting against and dying is the not to be. Hamlet continues in his monologue and observes that death is not an absolute annihilation and end of problems, you might still dream and God knows what you'll dream about and what dilemmas you might face therein. So the decision-making might never end.

Thoughts flutter. They make you fall in situations you need to make a decision. You have both the choices equally viable, both of them seem right, you have a tough time deciding which way to choose. You have a fight within yourself. You try to logically eliminate one of the options available, but you always have the fear of thoughts quivering and you regretting on The Road Not Taken at a later point in life.

There is another kind of situation you tend to fall in, which is more difficult than to-be-or-not-to-be. That is one after you have made a decision. Thoughts still flutter. You've made a decision but are unable to stick to it. It is not necessarily between the good and the bad, the two options available may be equally right or equally wrong. Correctness is anyway a relative concept. You choose one from the two roads equally travelled, and since there is no one less traveled by, there is nothing that has made all the difference. But two things cannot be the same, and you end up struggling with yourself.

Or, you know you've made a wrong move, but you tend to find excuses to yourself trying to justify your decision. Thoughts flutter again and you have a battle within yourself. Usually it is a tussle between the heart and the head. Invariably the heart wins, and the head ends up helping the heart win by providing excuses to you. A case of induced compliance without sufficient justification. The cognizance of your acts being against your own (and that of others') wellbeing makes you fall to abysmal depths and think very low of you. The moment you try to get up and stand against, something comes up that forces you to give in yet again. The more you give in, the more troubled you feel, the deeper you fall, and more difficult it becomes to emerge from the recesses of depression and self-criticism, and the more prone you become to giving in. A vicious circle follows, the exit from which is visible to you but you are not strong enough to follow the path. All this could have been avoided had you nipped it in the bud. Had you not let the uncomfortable feeling of dissonance come in the first place.




Thursday, December 04, 2008

Sorry Bhai! Say Dasvidaniya to Dostana of EMI and Karzzz

This month's edition showcases more Hindi movies than English, more new than old, and covers all seven Bollywood movies released in November, and the remaining six out of 10 in October, four of which I wrote about last month. I have tried not to have any spoilers in any one, and I think I've succedded. Let me know if you feel otherwise.

[Parenthesis after the release date contains the country it was first released, if the movie was/is not released in India. Mentioned alongside the title in brackets is the IMDB rating at the time of writing this post, if the movie features in the top 250 list. The last column contains a rating I would give them on a scale of 10.]

Title (IMDB Rank)Release(Country)Rating /10  

Sorry Bhai!28-Nov-086  
Sorry Bhai is an interesting concept, a bit bold for the Indian audience, perhaps the reason it is shot entirely in Mauritius. Director Onir defied stereotypes again after My Brother Nikhil, but he could have treated it better. One, the movie begins slow and dull, where everyone is cracking jokes with a long face, as if they've been tortured to produce humour. As the movie progresses, the heaviness reduces and characters open up, giving out some light moments. The interesting ensemble of cast had mixed performances. Sharman Joshi was wasted. He simply cannot look and act serious at all, doesn't have that talent. Boman Irani was the star here. These are the kinds of roles he does well, where he does witty one-liners acknowledged with a self-smile. Chitrangada Sen looked hotter than in Hazaaron Khwahishein Aisin. Shabana looked fatter but acted the usual. Sanjay Suri was sidelined after the interval. A short movie that could have been made better by using good timing of humour, lesser of melodrama, and more natural acting. There are quite some scenes that look very artificial, though some other look real good, like the one where Sharman-Chitrangada slide down the staircase railing. The ending could have been improved. Despite those shortcomings, Sorry Bhai can (and should) be watched once for the freshness and boldness of the subject.

Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye!28-Nov-088  
A hilarious drama that takes you through the streets of Delhi and through the life of an intelligent thief. Quite an interesting one, a detailed review can be read here.

A drama shot in opulent sets, pretty European locales, and presented with rich music. Poor script, bad direction, insignificant acting; only the music steals the show. I wrote a detailed review earlier, which can be read here.

Do you have a checklist of things to do before you die? Because that is what Vinay Pathak does before he says Dasvidaniya to the world. Now this is no spoiler; this is revealed by the time you settle in your seats, after which the timid protagonist starts fulfilling all he had wanted to do in life. Following his uncanny habit of preparing a mundande TO-DO list every morning, he does a list that he carries along as the clock ticks. Vinay Pathak, in a brilliant performance that can be said as his career best, above even Bheja Fry, makes you smile, feel sorry, evoke pity at different times. The scene where he enacts out the Dumb-C way his love to childhood sweetheart Neha Dhupia is stunning and quite moving. Debutante producer-director Shashant Shah treated the subject quite sensitively, though there were influences from Hrishikesh Mukherjee's Anand (on a similar subject, where the protagonist lives his life to the fullest in the event of impending death of the same cancer) and Raj Kapoor's Mera Naam Joker. The movie has sad and poignant undertones with quite some light moments also, but it does not depress, rather makes you think about finding out your ambitions and wishes and ways of fulfilling them. The music is meaningful and melodious. A must watch, one of the best Hindi movies this year.

I had dismissed this one as a Karan Johar movie but then came to know that KJo had only produced it, the director was Tarun Mansukhani, and therefore it could have been watchable. I was very wrong though, little did I know Mansukhani was the assistant director for KKHH, K3G, and KANK. Not much different from a regular KJo movie, Dostana carries on a tale of two strangers who pretend to be gay to get a place to live. The third flatmate is the gorgeous female and the three develop bonds of friendship. What follows is the very predictable plot adorned with poor, cliched jokes, cheap gimmicks, a few tear-sheds, innumerable references to Karan Johar movies, and the declaration of the guys' fake sexual inclination every five minutes that gets you in the head. The good part is obviously Priyanka Chopra who, like in all her other flops earlier this year, gets you interested. The songs are good and catchy, The school-skit-like drama is watchable once.

Another new face Saurabh Kabra could not live up to other debut writer-directors who have been bringing up fresh ideas and delivering great movies. EMI-Liya hai to chukana hi padega has a funny tagline, and has its moments at places though they are far and few, and the storyline was novel too, but somewhere it lacked the fizz. EMI is about four parallel tales of people who've taken loans in some form or the other default, and a recovery agency is employed by the bank to--well--recover money. Four stories become a bit too much and do not flow in tandem. Some of them like Kulbhooshan Kharbanda acted well, a few others sucked. Sanjay Dutt was good, and his character seemed inspired by Munnabhai. The movie comes with a message, but fails to convey it properly. Nothing remarkable about EMI, not even the music.

Ek Vivah Aisa Bhi7-Nov-085  
Another product from the Rajshri Production house which is no different from the earlier ventures. The opening scene was exactly like an Indian wedding video, and the storyline revolves around a wedding. But this is a different one, and that is what the movie about. The plot gets too goody-goody as it moves ahead, and both the lead actors Esha Kopikar and Sonu Sood are ever-smiling and so composed it almost looks they are stoical. Esha Kopikar does look pretty and innocent even in this non-glamourous role, and has the biggest role which is powerful and determinant. Sonu Sood's love for her is extremely selfless and idealistic. Alok Nath, the signature Rajshri father, thankfully got a smaller role. One good thing about Rajshri movies is that the families are getting smaller, but that also means smaller houses and less of grandeur. And also less of music, which again uesd to be a plus point of Rajshri movies; the music of Ek Vivah Aisa Bhi is inconspicuous. For all the above reasons, this would not be a hit even with uncle-aunty audience..And no, this is not a sequel of Vivah.

Another movie from another renowned director that disappointed me. I feel the newcomers perform much better than the seasoned directors these days. So Mr Bhandarkar picks up another issue, that in the modelling industry and the hardships faced by models and the means used to reach the top. However, the treatment of the subject was rather weak this time. After delivering great works like Chandni Bar and Satta, he was a let down in Fashion. And then he uses exaggeration to prove his point. Six gay fashion designers in the movie? Depicting gaydom was fashion in today's movies but following fashion just for the heck of it? I mean, every designer cannot be gay! And there is one who changes his sexual preferences! All the girls looked good, but Kangana was in the typecasted role of a drunkard and druggie. Priyanka was good, and the new girl Mugdha Godse acted well too. The plot has many loopholes, and the ending unsatisfactory, though he tried to make it a happy one this time. Perhaps that is where Fashion sucked big time. With a happy end in mind, a well-built plot was screwed in the last half hour. Bhandarkarji, are you following Subhash Ghai and leading a downward graph?

Golmaal Returns29-Oct-085  
Sequels are not generally as good as the original in Hollywood (with the exception of a few like Terminator), how can they be in Bollywood, though I was not a very big fan of Golmaal anyway. But it was definitely better than the Returns. The sequel manages to get some laughter, but most of it is corny, cliched, and cheap, revolving around homosexuality or Ekta Kapoor's K-series. Too many people and too many subplots that fail to flow into each other. And then there is this irritating mute Tusssshhhhar (I am sorry if I missed an 's' or an 'h' there) Kapoor, who can utter almost all syllables, and repeatedly keeps appending "Uck" whenever someone says "What the". Sister Kareena cannot get over his real-life-sister's serials and tries to draw similarities between real life and soaps every instant. Arshad Warsi keeps on laughing, while Ajay Devgan's character keeps on trying to look smart. Shreyas Talpade was underutilized, and Vrajesh Hirjee was a joker as always. The other actors are okay, and the Cadbury girl Anjana Sukhani looked hot. And yes, the music is catchy and foot-tapping. The end was a mockery where Tusshar is speaking and the others mention him not being in the third. Somebody please save us from a Golmaal Returns Again.

Roadside Romeo24-Oct-085  
Disney's debut into Bollywood. Yash Raj's entry into animation. Jugal Hansraj's first direction and script. Tata Elxsi's expanse into animation from special effects (Dhoom, Spiderman 3, Iron Man). Saif and Kareena's first voice-overs. India's first animation movie not based on mythology. So many firsts and the movie garnered high expectations, but sadly enough did not live up to it. First, the animation is good but does not appeal because all the dogs are naked except for a neckwear, and they walk oddily enough on two legs. The backdrop is not given attention and is not very good. Second, the story is predictable and not gripping enough. It is about a polished pet dog abandoned by its owners into the dark streets of Mumbai occupied by unkempt, dirty strays. After initial bullying, they are taken into the smooth talks and start a business. Then comes the hafta-vasooli and the villains. Third, the dialogue-delivery is poor, and the only humour that is attempted is by using mimickry of Bollywood dialogues, which sucks. The love-story between the lead couple is fantastical, and is depicted by means of music and dance, which is okay. Not much, but can be watched once as the first non-mythological Indian animation.

You get put off at the opening parallel scenes that have been directly picked up from Five Point Someone and Friends. What follows is a cheap comedy sequence that could have done away with in this otherwise serious movie with a subject as earnest as depicting war heroes. Two film academy students choose to make a documentary on "Indian Defence Forces kyon nahi join karni chahiye", in the course of which they deliver three letters from slain soldiers to their families. So you get to see Preity-Salman, Sunny-Bobby Deols, and Mithun-Dino Morea in three different subplots that change the mindsets of filmmakers Sohail Khan and Vatsal Shah. The idea is novel, seemingly inspired from Che Guevera's The Motorcycle Diaries, but the frivolous inital half hour was needless and lessened the effect. Sunny Paaji could not help show his antics even on a wheelchair, when he kicks of an entire team of firangi goondas, and ends up making a mockery of our heroes in war. Disappointing scripting and direction, and loud, tasteless humour spoit the idea that could have done wonders had it been treated the RDB way, but writer-director Samir Karnik chose to make a masala movie and ended up making a mishmash.

Subash Ghai commented in an interview somewhere that he had wished Karzzz to be a hit. That was really generous of him. I had expected it to be crap and Karzzz lived up to my expectations. A perfect example of how an excellent script can be ruined by incompetent direction and poor acting. Karz had a haunting music and an intriguing narrative but despite being the same story, Karzzz had a rather idiotic plot movement, laced with stupid unnecesary jokes only director Satish Kaushik can crack on screen. Farhan Akhtar's Don at least had a classy treatment of the original Don, interesting shooting locales and sets and a new twist in the end, but Karzzz had Himesh's silky mane and nasal twangs. He can neither act nor sing but takes on the role of a supposedly charismatic rock star flanked by girls. The part after the revelation of renaissance finishes off instantly and ridiculously. Urmila looked older and fitted the role, and perhaps she was the only charm, otherwise the movie is a burden to finish once you start it.

Cheenti Cheenti Bang Bang17-Oct-085  
I had heard the movie was an animation, and had assumed it would have been in some way related to the 1964 book (Chitty Chitty Bang Bang) by Ian Flaming. To my utter horror, it was about two kingdoms of the industrious Cheentis banging against each other. The movie is about a war that had sparked because the royal daughter-in-law of red ants was teased by the prince of the black ants (or vice-versa wrt the colour). Both the sides have larger reptiles as accomplices, a chameleon that never changes colour, a frog that never stops croaking, and a wheat eelworm Ghunn who crosses sides, instigating the war. The voice-overs by stars like Mahesh Manjarekar and Asrani turned into creaky dialogues, and did not grab any interest either. The story is dimwitted, and the animation crude 2-D. Having said that, I am glad that animation movies are increasingly being made in India, and are getting creative and out of the realm of mythology. Cheenti Cheenti Bang Bang was a small movie, targetted only at kids; the Indian still believes animation is meant for kids. However, a few dialogues like woh hamare badan par toot pada cannot be really in a movie for children. Cheenti Cheenti Bang Bang went on completely unnoticed, I don't know whether it was screened even in multiplexes. There is still a long way to go before we can start seeing jewels like Ice Age and Wall-E in India.

Babylon A.D.10-Oct-085  
Hollywood seems to never get bored of plots set in the dystopian future, where survivors are fighting for--what else but survival. Babylon A D, adapted from French novel Babylon Babies, tells us the story of a veteran-turned-mercenary transporting a young woman from Eastern Europe to America. What follows is an intercontinental drama-action-drama-action series that fails to flow smoothly. The movie, set a mere decade into the future, demontrates sleek advancements in technologies that cannot be imagined in such a near future. There is an interesting technology shown that seems to get lost in all the commotion. The French director Mathieu Kassovitz was unhappy with his own creation a week before release, and admitted "It's pure violence and stupidity", and that he had wanted to communicate a message which it couldn't; he didn't get to do a scene the way it was written or the way he wanted it to be. Producers 20th Century Fox instead cut 70 minutes to make the running time to 93. That explains the incoherence. Vin Diesel acts the plastic messenger, and Michelle Yeoh looks old, but the movie can be watched only if you enjoy action scenes, some of which shot on ice-covered mountains on sledges.

Flashbacks of a Fool3-Oct-087  
A ageing Hollywood star who leads a narcissistic lifestyle of sex, drugs and celebrity status in his plush house by the sea, caretaken by a laconic personal assistant, learns about the demise of his childhood friend at a time when his own life is getting lonely, and he is no longer the charm of moviemakers. The next hour-long flashback takes us to the lazy English hamlet in the seventies when the adolescent protagonist goes through a lot of emotions, good and bad, set to the beats of Roxy Music and Bowie. The movie switches back to the present when the young boy leaves home in search of a new life. At present the actor visits his friend's funeral and learns new things about his past. Though slow-paced, the movie holds attention throughout through a emotion-filled poignant drama, the kinds I find rare in Hollywood. The stark contrast between the east coast America and the countryside in Britain, the present and past lifestyles, is beautifully shot. Daniel Craig did not have to do much in a non-Bond role but the younger Harry Eden who occupied more screen time as the protagonist was superb. Overall, a nice watch.

Wall-E (# 32)29-Aug-0810  
This is what is called a modern classic. A cute story set up in a futiristic era. Intense feelings depicted through lifeless machines. Great direction, script and soundwork. Superb chemistry between the lead couple. Amazing animation by Pixar. Huge attention to detail would have been a key point in the extreme hardwork in designing the animation and everything else. The movie begins with the eponymous solar-powered protagonist doing about his chores on a lifeless earth 800 years hence. All the other WALL-E (Waste Allocation Load Lifter- Earth-Class) robots have perished but this one, who over seven centuries, has developed a personality and a sense of curiosity, including his fascination for the old musical Hello Dolly! that he watches every evening after returning from work. The small but rought-tough tank-like robot is joined by the cute and svelte egg-shaped Apple-product-like EVE (Extraterrestrial Vegetation Evaluator), who is sent by humans living in a space liner to evaluate the possibility of life on the devastated earth. It clicks in at the first meeting, and an unrequited romance develops which takes him after her to the space liner where the story becomes all the more interesting. The dance in the space where WALL-E uses a fire-extinguisher to move is terrific. A cool score, some from the classic Hello Dolly add to the sentiment. The movie ends in a very feel-good way. A must watch, I would rate this much above Kungfu Panda earlier this year.

This French movie in English is an action-packed, fast-paced thriller with a simple plot that does not have too many twists and suspenses. The end is predictable from the beginning but that does not reduce the excitement. The daughter of Liam Neeson, the ex-CIA 'preventer', is abducted on her arrival in Paris by Albanians who deal in trafficking of women. The sharp, poised, courageous, trigger-happy dad who has 'a very particular set of skills acquired over a very long career' travels from the US to Paris. The one-man army is fast, agile and resourceful, and 'makes a mess' in Paris, killing anyone who comes in the way. The movie starts with a slow pace but gains momentum the moment she is kidnapped. The prologue had resemblance to Kidnap closer home where a powerful father goes out to hunt for her teen daughter who used to live with his ex-wife. The plot is rather unbelieving but you enjoy the confidence with which Bryan moves among the criminals in a foreign land. This was almost like James Bond sans the gadgets and the babes. The movie was a one-man-show; the other actors were rather unknown, except the X-Men star Famke Jannsen, who looked rather haggard. The dialogues were crisp and powerful. Overall, an exciting watch when you are feeling lazy and want some thrill.

Had wanted to watch this movie because of the hype about Jiah Khan and her legs. When I finally saw Nishabd, I was wordless at the ostentatious publicity it had garnered. The hypes and the promos would have told that it is the story of an older man falling in for a younger woman. If that rings a bell, yes, you are right about Lolita, American Beauty, and Joggers' Park. The last one is quite close because that's the theme with an Indian ethical angle; the plot here has nothing new to offer, the screenplay and direction poor, and the movie as a whole much worse, even though the older man is a much better actor here. Actually Amitabh Bachchan did a very good job as one more Vijay, his only shortcoming was that he signed this movie. Jiah Khan looks like a malnutritioned nympho brat, and the camera always finds her below the belt, or between her stick-like legs, with AB's face in the backdrop. RGV needs to learn, among many other things, the concept of subtlety. The concept of older man-younger woman is preposterous with the traditional Indian, and the way Nishabd is made shows that RGV is one of those Indians that find it wrong. That is why he should not have made this picture. I had initially rated it a 4, but as I write this, I recap AB's acting, and raise it to 5.

Æon Flux2-Dec-05(USA)7  
A scifi that takes you to life 400 years hence in a walled city that houses the last bunch of human survivors on earth. True to the name, the movie belongs to Æon Flux, the long-legged assassin who is hired to kill the ruler of the ruling Goodchild dynasty of scientists. What follows is a series of action sequences in the futiristic city with the assassin and her partner fighting an entire army. What strikes throughout is oscar-winning Charlize Theron in a very sexy and the very same leotard almost throughout the movie, open in a weird but sensuous manner under the shoulders and above the cleavage, and shows her 5'10" figure from every angle you would like to see. The martial arts fights are good, but there is a lot of unbelievable stuff that looks magical, wrapped under the realm of science. The story does have an interesting revelation towards the end, that makes you go wow. An interesting watch, if not for anything else, for Charlize Theron.

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