Monday, January 30, 2012

Agneepath - Poem by Harivansh Rai Bachchan

Any poem that can kindle a fire in the hearts of millions over several decades has to be considered an epic. It has also inspired two massive Bollywood productions, but that is a lesser achievement for a poem that is so simple in its concept and yet so great in its scope. It can be applied to any situation where one's soul goes through a trial by fire. One can only marvel at the genius of the great Harivansh Rai Bachchan for composing this epic, inspirational poem.

Vriksh hon bhale khade,
Hon bade, hon ghane,
Ek Patra chhah bhi,
Maang mat, Maang mat, Maang mat.
Agneepath! Agneepath! Agneepath!

Tu na jhukega kabhi,
Tu na mudega kabhi,
Tu na thamega kabhi,
Kar shapath, Kar shapath, Kar shapath.
Agneepath! Agneepath! Agneepath!

Ye Mahaan Drushya Hai,
Chal Raha Manushya Hai,
Ashru, Shwed, Rakta Se,
Lathpath, Lathpath, Lathpath.
Agneepath! Agneepath! Agneepath!

- Harivansh Rai Bachchan

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Agneepath - Movie Review - Bollywood at its Best

If you are a fan of classic Bollywood masala fare, then Agneepath is a must watch! It's been a really long time since I saw a proper Bollywood blockbuster and watching Agneepath was an awesome experience. It felt so good, watching a movie in a packed theater, with the audience stunned into silence at times, breaking into applause and collectively gasping and hooting during some knockout scenes.

If you've followed the media hype or watched the original Agneepath, you would know that the story is an out and out revenge drama. So I won't bother getting into the story.

First let's get done with the comparisons to the old movie. I felt that the original movie was a very flawed movie. The scenes between Amitabh and Danny were brilliant and the rest of the movie fell flat. It was almost as though the director had thought through the Kaancha vs Vijay sequences very thoroughly and did not care too much about the rest of the movie. Story wise, the original had more than enough masala to become a blockbuster, but unfortunately it did not come through. Despite that, it is remembered for one of Amitabh's defining performances and as one of the few movies where Danny Denzongpa got his due as the stalwart that he is.

The new Agneepath is, well, a new Agneepath. It is not a scene by scene recreation, it is a very different movie. What it does very well, is use the basic plot of the original - the story of the wronged Vijay Dinanath Chauhan, who is driven into a world of crime because of the pure evil of Kaancha. But that is where the similarity ends. Some of the characters from the old movie have been discarded and rightly so. The one's that have been retained, have been shaped in such a way that one simply can not compare them to the original movie characters. They are completely new avatars and brilliant ones at that. And there are a few new characters added to the script.

Kaancha, played by Sanjay Dutt at his menacing best, is one of the greatest on-screen villains in terms of screen presence. The movie director, Karan Malhotra has used Sanjay Dutt's immense physical stature to add to the power of the character. The carefully constructed evil look, adds value to the role and Sanjay Dutt brings on his most devilish smirk onto the big screen in a role that you can clearly see, he enjoyed performing.

Rauf Laala, is a depraved villain; played with delightful intensity by Rishi Kapoor. This one is a maverick, casting masterstroke and adds an insane amount of value to the movie. You can see how much fun Rishi Kapoor has had playing this character, especially during the celebration song that is picturized on him. One would never have imagined Rishi Kapoor playing the kind of character he plays in the movie and mouthing some of the most filthy dialogues any villain can ever say on screen (in terms of concepts). Hats off to the man, for getting into the skin of the character and surprising us yet again, even after spending four decades in the industry.

Vijay Dinanath Chauhan. From the trailers it seemed to me that Hrithik Roshan would underplay the character to avoid comparisons with Amitabh Bachchan. I even feared that his role would end up being overshadowed by the two villains. But... Hrithik Roshan delivers yet another knockout performance, elevating his acting in the most crucial scenes. His rendition of the legendary line 'Pura naam, Vijay Dinanath Chauhan, baap ka naam, Dinanath Chauhan, Gaon Mandwa' is the high point of the movie and showcases how Hrithik and the director choose to redefine the character while retaining some of the trademarks. That one scene, first stunned the theater audience and then got them clapping. Pure brilliance.

The movie is three hours long but does not seem to drag on at any stage. The action sequences are powerful. Not because there are too many explosions happening, shot from different camera angles or any other technical breakthroughs in filming. The action scenes work because of the points where they come into the story. The battle between Vijay and Rauf Laala, takes place against a backdrop that completely drives you to root for Vijay and hate Rauf Laala. You want him to beat the hell out of the perverse villain.

The climactic battle between Kaancha and Vijay. Well, lets just say hats off to the action director Abbas Ali Moghul. Everyone in the theater knew that the movie would end with the face off between the two super stars. The entire movie is just a build-up to the climax fight and expectations are sky high and the movie delivers. The set pieces make for an awesome visual experience. The art direction for Kaancha's haveli is top notch and at the very end of the movie, when Hrithik delivers the Agneepath poetry, everyone in the theater was awestruck. Hrithik's performance exceeded everyone's expectations.

It's not just those scenes, right through the movie, especially in the short emotional sequences between Vijay and his mother or the scenes with his sister, Hrithik expresses the pain of his character wonderfully and increases the empathy the audience feels for Vijay.

This movie will surely go onto become a colossal box office success, it may also win Hrithik, Sanjay Dutt and Rishi Kapoor awards for Best Actor, Best Villain and Best Supporting Actor at next year's Filmfare awards. The director deserves a lot of applause and credit for delivering the quintessential Bollywood blockbuster to the audiences after a long time. Agneepath... Agneepath... Agneepath!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Those Three Words...

Those three words... aah, the passion they convey. Every man dreams of hearing those words from his lover. The sentiment, the raw innocence and honesty in them. The ecstasy and thrill of hearing those words. There is no other equivalent. No other feeling comes close to hearing those three words escape the lips of your lover... fuck me harder!

Monday, January 23, 2012

At a wedding

There are different kinds of weddings -

Friend Weddings

Family Weddings

Then of course there's Your Own Wedding; but at that time you're torn between fake-smiling at random guests, listening to and following instructions given by every old aunty and the pundit, along with fantasizing about the suhaag raat when there's time for that.

Friend Weddings - can be fun if you've got a good collection of other friends to hang out with. You don't really get to spend anytime with your actual friend whose getting married, because his/her mind will be occupied with what was written in the previous paragraph.

The most fun I have had at a 'Friend Wedding' has been while sitting around with other friends, making fun of all the relatives at the wedding.

Another thing I noticed is that, all families are the same.

There's always a talkative, know-it-all uncle/aunty who keeps pestering the bride's/groom's parents, who have to tolerate them for social reasons.

There's always at least one really, insanely hot chick who struts around in a shiny green/blue dress.

There's always this moment at the end of the reception where the bride/groom are surrounded with friends who crack the non-veg, suhaag raat based jokes. I think the only reason that friends are invited to weddings is for this brief period of laughter that they contribute to the couple's life.

Family Weddings -

There's always someone who has a complaint about the food.

There's always some relative who you've never seen before but claims to have seen you when you were two feet tall (a measure that is also referred to as 'jab tu itna saa thaa')

There's always some relative who wants to know your entire resume. This type can be easily detected by looking out for people who ask the following question - 'toh aaj kal kya kar rahe ho?'

You will always hear the phrase 'arrey tum kitne badey ho gaye ho', even if you've stopped growing a decade ago. That phrase is damn irritating, especially if you are a short person. You always wonder if there's a tinge of sarcasm involved.

If you're tall, then the phrase changes a little to 'arrey tum toh badey hotey jaa rahey ho'

On a related but slightly random note. Imagine the scene if Pamela Anderson were Indian. At a wedding, if she's told 'arrey tum toh aur badi hoti jaa rahi ho'!

Back to the post...

There's always this gang of old aunties singing, who sound like a cross between Anu Malik and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, both, on dope.

The songs sung during these occasions are the one's pulled out of the playlist used by All India Radio's Bhoole Bisre Geet. If you were born post-independence, there's a high chance you will not remember any of them.

You will lose count of how many feet you have touched.

There will once again be a very hot chic at the wedding. But here's the main difference between a Friend Wedding and a Family Wedding. At a Friend Wedding, you are free to shamelessly ogle at women, but at a Family Wedding, it is not so safe, because there is a high chance that the said female may turn out to be a very distant cousin. Which is kinda scary!

Let me end this pointless post with a crass joke:

Q - Why do all the guests have a weird smile on their face when greeting the bride/groom at a wedding?
A - Coz they know you're gonna get fucked soon!

See you at the next wedding!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Cinema Paradiso - Movie Review

I have never seen a movie as honest and powerful in its emotions as Cinema Paradiso!

The story is so simple and yet complex, that it's impossible to explain.

Cinema Paradiso tells the story of a man called Salvatore Di Vita a.k.a. Toto and his deep friendship with the city's movie hall projectionist Alfredo!

The movie is set in the post World War II era - Toto is a bright, mischievous young kid who lives with his mother and sister. He knows that his father is dead even though his mother clings on to the hope that her husband would return someday. In such a situation, Alfredo becomes a father figure for Toto as their friendship deepens with time.

Alfredo realizes that Toto is a very intelligent kid and could do greater things in his life than become a projectionist in a small town. All through Toto's developing years, Alfredo tries to encourage Toto to ensure that he does not get satisfied with a simple small town life. Alfredo's sentiment is best portrayed by the following quote he says to Toto:

"I don't want to hear you talk anymore. I want to hear talk about you..."

The movie also showcases one of the best ever portrayals of cinematic romance when Toto falls in love with a girl in his town, named Elena. Even today, the scenes will touch your heart and remind you of your first love.

The last twenty minutes of the movie are a study in how silence can sometimes be the best dialogue in a film.

The movie ends with a very moving sequence that is brilliantly enacted by Jacques Perrin, who plays the older version of Toto. But frankly speaking, the acting in the movie right through is brilliant. Phillipe Noiret as Alfredo is spectacular, while Salvatore Cascio, who plays the child version of Toto is fantastic. Marco Leonardi who plays the adolescent version of Toto and Agnese Nano who plays Elena, the girl who steals Toto's heart - do a brilliant job of establishing their special bond as lovers despite very simple sequences. Their romance is the definition of the term on-screen-chemistry.

Hats off to writer-director, Giuseppe Tornatore, who, a decade later gave us the wonderful movie - Malena. And word of praise for a perfect background score which carries the last 20 minutes of the movie by the legendary Ennio Morricone.

The movie won the Oscar in 1989 for Best Foreign Language Film, once you watch the movie, you will know why!