Tag Archive: romance


Pop! goes my heart…

There was a time when popular music in India also meant Indi-pop, with its own star system and billboard chartbusters. But no sooner was the genre coming of age, it vanished into oblivion, writes Jaya Biswas

Those in their late twenties or early thirties surely wouldn’t have forgotten those evenings when we would it take a little break in between our homework and dinner to watch Chitrahaar, on Doordarshan on Wednesdays at 8:30 in the evening, which was popular because it aired a bouquet of songs from both old and upcoming films. There were no trailers or teasers back then on television so an odd song was often the only sneak peek at a forthcoming film, a peek that the nation seemed to wait for.
Every Wednesday, with baited breath we waited for Chitrahaar. Like much of the offerings on the state run channel, it was shoddily produced and often half-a-song would be edited out to make way for adverts/ news bulletins. But in the difficult and oh-so-far-way 1980s Chitrahaar, since it didn’t have to match steps with satellite music channels, was oh-so-very welcome.
But the early 1990s were a defining period for the Chitrahaar generation. We witnessed the emergence of yet another musical countdown show which made an entire generation dance to its tunes. Our loyalties almost unflinchingly shifted to Superhit Muqabala, aired on the newly launched DD Metro which promised to be more urbane than the staid and Bharatiya DD National. And it was here, in this show, more brazen than DD and more slickly produced that we first caught Alisha Chinai crooning to a shrill Made in India for a breathtakingly handsome Milind Soman. The song caught the generation as if by the collar and became the unofficial anthem of young India.
The story of the ascent of Indi-pop would remain incomplete without mentioning Biddu Appaiah, more popularly Biddu. An Indian-British music producer, composer, song-writer and singer, he not only produced and composed many such hit records worldwide, the credit goes mostly to him for managing to create a non-filmi niche in the 1990s. It was Biddu who made the Indian audience savour the real taste of pop with Pakistani singers Nazia Hassan and Zoheb, a sibling duo whose records, produced by Biddu, sold millions of copies. Nazia and Zoheb were Pakistani singers from Karachi. The group initially gained prominence with their single Aap Jaisa Koi was then featured as a soundtrack for Feroz Khan-Zeenat Aman starrer Qurbani. The song was also part of the group’s debut album Disco Deewane, released in 1981 by Biddu. The album became a best-seller. It also changed trends of music in Pakistan and was the first South Asian album that was also a hit in Brazil, Russia, South Africa and Indonesia. The duo released their second album Boom Boom in 1982 which was also the soundtrack for the Bollywood film Star, made in 1982, starring Kumar Gaurav, Rati Agnihotri, Raj Kiran and Padmini Kolhapure.
Made in India (1995), composed by Biddu, went on to become one of the highest selling pop albums of its times and Alisha, who had made some name years ago singing in Tarzan, became a household name. Biddu, also composer of the Boom Boom track, featuring the then newly minted Anupama Verma made many a heart go aflutter.
Indi-pop or Indian pop music, notwithstanding the distaste that lovers of western pop showed for its denizens, had started taking shape as a subculture. Bollywood was of course there while a singing culture with pan-Indian appeal, started to evolve outside it and very quickly too. 
Next, Biddu turned his attention to Hindi vocalist Shweta Shetty, both writing and producing the Johnny Joker album in 1993. In 1996, Biddu backed another brother-sister duo with Shaan (Shantanu Mukherjee) and Sagarika Mukherjee, producing the album Naujawan. Biddu spent the rest of the 1990s working with various musicians. Into the new millennium, he produced two hit albums with Sansara, Yeh Dil Sun Raha Hai and Habibi.
Biddu was almost a one-man army for the first few years when Indi-pop gained in prominence. But more than just the score, other factors also came into making it popular — creative videos, peppy music, pretty girls and a new group of talented singers. One must remember that Bollywood was on an overdose of Bappi Lahiri and late Laxmikant-Pyarelal, both insufferably kitschy, throughout the late 1980s. While Bollywood turned a new chapter with Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak and Maine Pyar Kiya, Indi-pop emerged as the music for the nightlife — groovy and clever melange of Indian folk and popular tunes with peppy beats and often heady rap especially of the Baba Sehgal variety in Thanda Thanda Pani. Pop music had arrived and by the time satellites TV invaded the drawing rooms, India finally had its own divas and icons slowly but steadily eating up most of Channel V and MTV’s airtime.
In fact, music videos in the country made a splash with Indi-pop. Film music gave little scope to do videos and Indi-pop took the opportunity to make expensive and often experimental (by Indian popular standards) videos, thereby managing to hold on to the increasingly remote-happy, diminishing attention induced viewership.
Indi-pop soon, perhaps too quickly, touched its pinnacle with artistes like Anaida, Lucky Ali, Mehnaz, Daler Mehndi, Leslie Lewis, Raageshwari, Ali Haider, Ila Arun, Shaan, Anaida, Asha Bhosle, Anamika, Sonu Niigaam, Shubha Mudgal, KK, Babul Supriyo, Shankar Mahadevan and bands such as Euphoria, Silk Route, Stereo Nation, Aryans making Indi-pop a convenient money-minting option with albums sales soaring higher and higher.
Anaida’s ouvre was in churning out a strong storyline in the song, well-choreographed sequences, and tight editing with an eye for the over-all impact. Even ace choreographer Shiamak Davar and superstar Amitabh Bachchan joined the league with their songs Jaane Kisne and Ek Rahein Eer Ek Rahein Beer… respectively, also remembered for the brilliantly choreographed videos. Another big hit on the small screen was Malaika and Jas Arora in Malkit Singh’s music video Gud Naal Ishq Mitha.
Actress-singer Suchitra Krishnamoorthi doled out hit albums like Dole Dole and Dum Tara. Ghazal singer Hariharan and singer-composer Leslie Lewis joined hands to form their unique band Colonial Cousins, in 1996. They fused Indian and Western musical genres which were instantly lapped up by the listeners. Their eponymous debut album broke all records including hitting platinum sales in India. The duo also won the MTV Asia Viewer’s Choice Award and went on to bag the US Billboard Viewer’s Choice Award. The album had two major hit singles, Krishna and Sa Ni Dha Pa; their videos repeatedly playing on various music channels.
Shweta Shetty came up with another one in the year 1998 named Deewane To Deewane Hai. Her album became a huge success and her gravel voice and come-hither-sexiness seem to spill out of the television. 
Siblings Shaan and Sagarika hit the jackpot with the remix of Disco Deewane, followed by Roop Tera Mastana and Love-o-logy. Sagarika released her solo albums Maa and It’s All About Love. Few years later, Shaan scored big with Tanha Dil and Tishnagi.
Baba Sehgal, who is credited as the first Indian rapper, shot to fame with Manjula, Thanda Thanda Pani and Aaja Meri Gadi Mein Baith Ja in the mid-1990s. But he went on a world tour and by the time he settled down again no Indi-pop was left. He turned to playback singing and acting.
Around the same time we saw yet another bunch of singers like Daler Mehndi and Sukhbir who made us sample the heady flavours of Punjab. Daler Mehndi switched from classical music to pop, and in 1995 his first album Bolo Ta Ra Ra… was the best selling non-soundtrack album in Indian music history. He received the Award for Voice of Asia International Ethnic and Pop Music Contest in 1994. He earned Channel V’s Best Male Pop Singer Award, which he received in 1996 for Dar Di Rab Rab and in 1997 for Ho Jayegi Balle Balle.
Sukhbir’s unique Bhangra songs were a fusion of Bhangra with rap, techno and reggae. In Oi Triesto (2002), his music was complemented by Spanish and Portuguese rhythms, while he also uses instruments like tablas, congos, guitars and keyboards. He also stated once that Daler Mehndi and Malkit Singh were his biggest competition in the Punjabi music market.
In 2000, Asha Bhosle teamed up with Adnan Sami to release a collection of love songs named Kabhi To Nazar Milao. The music was also composed by Adnan. The album became an instant blockbuster and topped the Indipop charts for most of 2001. Two songs from that album — Kabhi To Nazar Milao, whose music video featured model Aditi Gowitrikar and Lift Karaa De whose music video starred Amitabh Bachchan — became immensely popular.
Sonu Niigaam was perhaps the only singer who could successfully juggle between film playbacks and private albums. His list of non-film popular albums includes Deewana (1999), followed by Jaan, Mausam, Kismat, Yaad and Chanda Ki Doli (2005) — most of which topped the charts.
But sooner than later Indi-pop came to an abrupt, and as we now know, a definitive end. Actress-singer Suchitra Krishnamoorthi had even said that the decline of pop spelled the death of her music career.
Mohit Chauhan, now a popular playback singer and once a part of music band Silk Route, rues, “Music companies are to be blamed which simply refuse to produce Indi-pop albums in fear of incurring huge loss due to piracy. Otherwise, there is no dearth of talent or listerners.”
Suneeta Rao, once famous for her Pari Hoon Main, released her last album Waqt in 2008 which sank. Alisha, like Shweta Shetty tried making a comeback to the Indi-pop scene with Vouz Soulement in 2003. But after that failed, she went back to doing film playback. And then she struck gold with Kajra Re (Bunty aur Babli in 2005). Alisha won several awards for this song and has since scored several hits.
So, what really went wrong? According to music critics and singers, film music itself went pop and Indi-pop lost its musical exclusivity, definition and identity. Almost 20 years down the line, the concept of Indi-pop may sound worn-out and overdone, but we do carry its essence in our hearts! Those who were better performers in the Indi-pop genre — singers, video-makers, arrangers and choreographers — made a quiet but effective move towards Bollywood. And those were there for publicity and money, faded away.
Indi-pop had a short life. Perhaps because Bollywood proved to be too big to take on! Perhaps Bollywood itself accommodated that kind of music. The item number for example, remains a kind of an offshoot of Indi-pop. Many films now shoot promotional videos to go with promotional music. Is it not a legacy of Indi-pop? Perhaps it is. Or may be with the coming of a new breed of talented and smart musicians — from AR Rahman to Santanu Moitra, from Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy to Pritam — Bollywood music itself became varied, tracing influences to not only music forms in India but often outside. Somewhere down the line, Indi-pop lost the plot.
Though choreographer-singer Ganesh Hegde claims to have brought the pop music scenario with his latest album, Let’s Party, could we really forget Lucky Ali’s O Sanam Mohabbat Ki Kasam… or Pankaj Udhas’s Aur Ahista Kijiye Baatein… or Ali Haider’s Purani Jeans aur Guitar? If not, then that’s the take away from a decade of what was born and died young as Indi-pop!

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Jaya Biswas

 
Film: Thank You
Director: Anees Bazmee
Cast: Akshay Kumar, Bobby Deol, Suniel Shetty, Irrfan Khan, Sonam Kapoor, Celina Jaitley, Rimi Sen
Rating: Average

Men hate him, women simply adore him. Anees Bazmee’s latest film, Thank You, sees Akshay Kumar playing a detective who specialises in extra-marital relationships. Akki tells heartbroken wives about their promiscuous husbands, enlightens them with signs of a cheating man and how to catch him red-handed. He educates women and makes them wiser. Well, now you know why!
The basic premise of the plot dwells on ‘Men are dogs’ and ‘Women are dumb’ philosophies. Raj (Bobby Deol), Vikram (Irrfan Khan) and Yogi (Suniel Shetty) are three married men trying to have some fun outside their marriage. Sanjana (Sonam Kapoor), Karthika (Rimi Sen) and Radha (Celina Jaitley) play their lovely wives.
All seems to go well until Sanjana senses something fishy about her hubby’s smooth-going life. On Karthika and Radha’s suggestions, Sanjana hires the perpetually flute-playing private detective Kishan (Akshay Kumar), who promises to teach the three philandering husbands a lesson that they’ll never forget. Sounds familiar? Thank You, sadly, comes across as a not-so-appealing concoction of erstwhile releases like Shaadi No. 1, Biwi No. 1, Masti et al. But most prominently, it is hugely inspired by Bazmee’s own film, No Entry.
While nothing significant happens in the first half, the storyline gets slightly better post interval. But just when you feel the end credits are about to roll, it starts stretching like a chewing gum with Raj’s ‘realisation’ phase in focus. That’s not all. It’s followed by an unnecessary and predictable flashback of Akshay and his wife played by Vidya Balan.
Pritam’s music is uninspiring except for Mika’s Pyaar do Pyaar lo number (from Jaanbaaz-1986), which is already climbing the music charts. The song sounds more like a remix and looks very much like trying a re-do of Apni To Jaise Taise from Housefull.
Akshay delivers an average performance; he does nothing that we haven’t seen him do before. One wonders if Akki doesn’t get tired of playing clichéd roles. Irrfan Khan is simply brilliant with his superb comic timing. Suniel Shetty’s character seems an extension of Hera Pheri. Bobby Deol is decent. As far as the leading women are concerned, Rimi Sen is good but not very different from what she did in Dhoom, Sonam Kapoor looks the prettiest of all. But that’s about it. As far as performance is concerned, this is certainly not one of her best performances. Celina Jaitley doesn’t really stand a chance as she remains absent most of the time. Mallika Sherawat with her item number fails to tickle you.
Annes Bazmee should perhaps say “I’m sorry” for directing Thank You. Watch it for Irrfan, if you must.

Sayandeb Chowdhury

 

 

Film: 7 Khoon Maaf
Director: Vishal Bhradwaj
Cast: Priyanka Chopra, John Abraham, Neil Nitin Mukesh, Naseruddin Shah, Irrfan Khan, Anu Kapoor, Usha Uthup, Aleksandr Dyachenko, Ruskin Bond, Vivaan Shah and Konkona
Rating: Excellent

Vishal Bhardwaj made Maqbool. And that was it. A new school of cinema was born in Bombay. Cinema that was tough, unrelenting, atmospheric, harsh and full of power. In case of Maqbool, and its successor Omkara, the author was none other than William Shakespeare (Macbeth, Othello). By the time he reached Kaminey, Bhardwaj had already acquired a kind of an unsparing vision of a life and its assorted idiosyncrasies that he had harnessed to remarkable effect. Kaminey, the gangster movie about Mumbai underworld and the horse racing mafia was but cool. In 7 Khoon Maaf, Bhardwaj manages to pull his aces together to create what is perhaps most Shakespearean of his films. In what is a virtuoso adaptation of Ruskin Bond short story Susanna’s Seven Husbands, Bhardwaj shows how he has internalised the Shakespearean eye for the imminent and the immanent, to what beauty he can build an atmosphere of genuine suspense even in the everyday, how premonition and clairvoyance resides in ordinary acts of human kindness and insight. And most importantly how behind chilling acts of crime are often the most tragic and lonely of human beings who are otherwise pilgrims of love.
Priyanka Chopra in what is an author backed role plays Susanna to almost perfect effect, falling for love every time when actually there was none. She lives and breathes her role as a love-seeking, vulnerable woman, who gets accosted by and seduced by six brazen men, who turn out to be different from who they were supposed to be. Her vulnerability is however her biggest weapon in her troubled life and as she grows old, she learns to use them more effectively than ever before. And like any woman who has passed not once but six times, alone, through the territory of impertinent men, she learns to use the craft of her sexuality too, even as her bones and skin turn thicker and thicker under her beauteous, if wrinkled skin. 
The story moves fast and uncontrollably towards its denouement, which is nothing short of revelatory. On the way, Priyanka changes her religion twice, visits Kashmir and Pondicherry, get’s married to a Russian attaché and a Bengali doctor apart from a Rajput rockstar, a Goanese General with one leg and a UP police inspector. Her milieu changes from the brazenly feudal world of the landed military, to that of an Urdu poet with special affection for sadomasochism, from the heroin-induced world of skirted rock singers of early eighties Goa to that of naturopathy of a bankrupt doctor. Her only witness and confidante is the narrator, Arun, who remains the distant young lover and the only normative influence in her mad life, perhaps the only one who could have survived her audacious search for love in a battered human landscape that includes her husband and her band of murdering minsters.
The film’s premise and period moves from the swinging ‘70s to 26/11 and beyond and the details are brought out with total attention and care. Ranjan Palit’s superlative, atmospheric photography is the highpoint of the film, apart from, of course, Bhardwaj’s superb ear for music which includes a rock ballad, a sufi lovenote and of course the Russian folk inspired Darrling, which remains the film’s chartbusting number. 
7 Khoon Maaf is vintage Vishal Bhardwaj, sensible, sensitive, powerful and sparsely illuminating of the darkness that we all carry inside.

AS you like it!!

Everything is fair in the game of love. If you are a man looking for a date on Valentine’s Day, a little act of indifference on your part will help to hook the woman of your dreams

Supreeta Singh
ere’s some interesting news for men on Valentine’s Day. A recent study reveals that a woman is seemingly more attracted to a man when she is uncertain about how much her man likes her. Conducted by experts at the University of Virginia and Harvard University, the study reveals that if a woman is left wondering about the degree of a man’s interest in her, it would improve his chances of grabbing her attention. In other words, ‘playing hard to get’ is a foolproof strategy to arouse a woman’s interest and keep her hooked.
 Among the many unwritten rules to be followed by both men and women during courtship could be a show of indifference. It really works since it triggers the instinct of chasing a possible partner and winning him/her over. Poonam Jha, a media professional, says, “It is human nature to pursue a thing more persistently, when it’s hard to get. If you get something served on a platter, you tend to take it for granted and soon lose interest. When you apply the same formula to romantic relationships, a man or woman’s apparent aloofness drives you crazy. In the initial stages, it can be an effective method to keep the person, especially women, guessing.”
 Dating has its own code of conduct which at times leaves men and women confused. But when a man plays hard to get, it adds an aura of mystery and charm that women find difficult to resist. According to the study, when a woman goes around with a man who is not forthcoming about his level of interest, then she spends considerable time thinking about him. The more she muses, the more attractive he becomes, at least in her imagination.
 Paromita Banerjee, a student, says, “This is a more subtle psychological tease. A man can easily woo his love-interest with more mushy things like chocolate, flowers or taking her out for dinner. But when a man makes me curious about him, I find it more captivating. It adds to his masculine magnetism.”
 Fed on a diet of amorous tales of passion, women find it a worthwhile pursuit of slowly discovering what teases men. However, an intelligent man would know where to draw the line. Asif Iqbal, a PR professional, says, “When dating a girl one must know that girls love attention but it is important to be careful so as not to drive her away. Change in your attitude will compel her to shift focus towards you as well as the relationship. But you must show your care  in a subtle way even while being indifferent because drastic changes in your behaviour will hamper the relationship.”
 So, is there any way to be appropriately indifferent? The measure of a man’s success with woman he is eyeing, depends on the perfect blend of cool reserve and friendly banter. Supratim Roy, an event oragniser, doles out the mantra, “When you are hanging out with your friends, take her out with you. Don’t show her that you are over-protective. Call her at regular intervals. Let her know that you enjoy her company without forcing yourself on her. Allow her to make moves too.”
 Try it!

 

Jaya Biswas

Film: Band Baaja Baaraat
Director: Maneesh Sharma
Cast: Anushka Sharma, Ranveer Singh
Rating: Very Good
 
There is a lot to like in this new Yash Raj venture. The story about two wedding planners, Shruti Kakkar (Anushka Sharma) and Bittoo Sharma (newcomer Ranveer Singh), has a natural charm and sweetness that’s been missing from YRF movies for a long-long time.
Debutant director Maneesh Sharma, who has also written the story, takes us out of the artificial studio settings into the lanes and by-lanes of the national capital. The dialogues and screenplay have been written by Habib Faisal, who directed the charming Do Dooni Chaar.
Set in Delhi, Band Baaja Baraat (BBB) is all about two 20-years-old young graduates set to enter the real world. Shruti and Bittoo are as different as chalk and cheese. Shruti hails from a middle class background. She is ambitious, determined and focused and has set goals for herself as she reaches final year of college. On the other hand, we see Bitto as a freeloader with no aim in life. He is more interested in having fun with friends than attending classes.
This rom-com revolves around these two characters as they meet by chance and happen to become business partners. No, BBB has nothing to do with Jennifer Lopez starrer The Wedding Planner.
At first they hesitate to work together considering the complications, as Shruti aptly puts it, Jisse wyaapar karo usse kabhi na pyaar karo (you shouldn’t fall in love with someone you do business with). But they can’t resist taking the plunge, however, pledging that they would never mix business with pleasure. Will they or won’t they is for you to find out…
What makes BBB worth a watch are believable characters and a milieu exuding authentic Delhi texture. When Bittoo speaks of reaping sugarcane in Saharanpur, he plays the character to the tee. The actor is just perfect as an uncouth but good-hearted small-town loafer, who doesn’t have any qualms speaking with his mouth full or pronouncing business as ‘binness’. But when it comes to managing business deals and convincing his clients, he is better than many. As a newcomer, Ranveer is not at all camera conscious.  In fact, at times he reminds us of Ranbir Kapoor in Wake up Sid!!
The first half, in which Bittoo and Shruti set up their company, Shaadi Mubarak, is great fun. In terms of performances, Anushka, who has been ‘okay’ in Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi or Badmaash Company, finally comes into her own as the ambitious Delhi girl, who can take on the world.
Unlike other Yash Raj films, the music is average in this one. Save for the song Ainvayi Ainvayi, sung by Salim Merchant and Sunidhi Chauhan, rest have little recall value. Ainvayi is pacey and totally ‘Punjabi’ in essence. This song is sure to have you tapping your foot.
Sadly, the second half drags with too much of altercations between the protagonists, stretched-out wedding sequences and even an item number where Bittoo and Shruti fill in for Shah Rukh Khan!! Can you beat that?
Overall, Band Baaja Baaraat is entertaining. It’s definitely one of the best films you’ll have in theatres this weekend.

ALSO READ:  REVIEW: Watch it for Ranbir-Priyanka’s awesome chemistry

 

Jaya Biswas

Film: Break Ke Baad
Cast: Deepika Padukone, Imran Khan, Sharmila Tagore, Shahana Goswami, Yudishtir Urs, Lilette Dubey, Naveen Nischol
Director: Danish Aslam
Rating: Poor
 
Break Ke Baad, co-written and directed by debutant Danish Aslam starts off well. Over a long title sequence a la Main Hoon Na, we are introduced to the lead characters — Abhay, played by Imran Khan and Aaliya, played by Deepika Padukone — both Hindi film buffs who share their first kiss while watching Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. The first hour-and-a-half goes off like a breeze. But that’s about it.
Imran Khan re-enacts a character he’s essayed quite effectively in Jaane Tu…Ya Jaane Na. Here too, Abhay Gulati is a chocolate-faced epitome of patience. He is sensitive; the quintessential Mr Right putting up with his insolent, spoilt, self-centred childhood sweetheart, Aaliya. Imran is charming, but his character — that’s supposed to manipulate the audience into agreeing with him —doesn’t quite work.
Aaliya, who aspires to be an actress, calls her mom (Sharmila Tagore) by her first-name. She’s smart and manipulative who knows how to work her way to get what she wants. Aaliya’s ambition to follow her passion has everyone tied up in knots. Abhay’s mental conflict of working in his father’s business, despite hating it forms another angle to the story. So far, so good. 
Danish has tried too hard to be cool but the effort is glaring. The film’s weak foundation and lack of fun moments make it tedious. The concept of breaks-ups and relationships have been dealt with in far  more mature way in Love Aaj Kal (also starring Deepika Padukone), where the film starts with a break-up and then goes on to focus on the metamorphosis of the couple meeting new people, and so on. At least, it was entertaining, and the conflict in the film proceeded with ease.
The second half, where Aaliya enjoys her time at the university, making new friends and her over-protective boyfriend follows her to woo her back is too much to handle. Tired of a claustrophobic relationship, Aaliya wants space and a break-up! Abhay on the other hand disagrees.
The two friends (Shahana Goswami and Yudishtir) — the owners of the house where both Aaliya and Abhay put up in Australia, are just okay.
There is an overload of content advertising (Kit Kat chocolates, Volkswagen Beetle, Zen mobile). Nothwithstanding the mandatory big, fat Punjabi wedding, clips incorporated from Bollywood rom-coms like DDLJ, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai and other films, Aslam maintains a mellow vibe and concentrates on establishing the close friendship between Abhay (Imran Khan) and Aaliya (Deepika Padukone). And thank god for small mercies, their Hindu-Muslim status is never a subject of concern or speculation here.
It’s always nice to see veterans like Sharmila Tagore and Naveen Nischol lending some warmth to the otherwise insipid surroundings.
Lillete Dubey, as the coquettish single aunt with her tongue-in-cheek repartees, is too good.
The storytelling is superfluous, barely scratches the surface of the characters’ conflicts, preferring not to delve deeper and is unconvincingly served to the audience.
Watch it if you haven’t had enough of rom-coms already.

ALSO READ:

REVIEW: Watch it for Ranbir-Priyanka’s awesome chemistry

 

 

Jaya Biswas

Film: Guzaarish
Cast: Hrithik Roshan, Aishwarya Rai, Aditya Roy Kapoor, Monikangana Dutta, Suhel Seth
Director: Sanjay Leela Bhansali
Rating: Very good
 

Hrithik fans can heave a sigh of relief and finally rejoice, for the actor has redeemed himself with his fantastic performance in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s latest offing, Guzaarish, after giving a box office dud like Kites.
Guzaarish is one of those films that is not just meant to entertain you, but makes an attempt to shake you by the intensity of its content. Like Bhansali’s Black, Guzaarish too strives to survive on the spirit of a central character — in this case a quadriplegic, whose life depends more on machines than anything else. Yet, the film tugs at your heartstrings because you can’t help but feel compassionate towards Ethan and his lifeless life. It is a simple story woven in a fascinating web of fervent sentiments, superb cinematography and interesting dialogues.
The film sees the return of one of the hottest pair in Bollywood — Hrithik Roshan and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan. Director Sanjay Leela Bansali is donning the director’s hat after three years, this time dealing with a sensitive subject like euthanasia or mercy killing.
Ethan Mascarenhas (Hrithik Roshan) used to be the best magician in town (Goa, to be precise). But a fatal accident left him paralysed and bedridden for life. But Ethan believes in the theory of ‘smile and the world smiles with you’; we see him hosting a radio show ‘Hello Zindagi’ (ironical indeed) where he spreads hope to listeners through his inimitable wit and humour. For 12-long-years, he’s being aided by a nurse, Sofia D’Souza (Aishwarya Rai Bachchan), who’s also his companion, caregiver and much more.
On the 14th anniversary of his accident, Ethan decides to make a petition to the court for euthanasia (which he humourously calls ‘Ethanasia’). This leaves his best friend and lawyer Devyani (Shernaz Patel) and Sofia in a frenzy. Meanwhile, a young lad Omar Siddiqui (Aditya Roy Kapoor) enters Ethan’s world with an earnest desire to learn magic from him. Impressed by Omar’s dedication to magic Ethan agrees to pass on his legacy to him.
The indoors as well as outdoors add so much to the film. There’s no refuting that cinematographer Sudeep K Chatterjee has created some really enthralling visuals that’s sure to stay with you for a very long time. The first half is breezy and you don’t realise when it gets over. The second half is a bit of a drag. Like Kal Ho Naa Ho, Guzaarish’s narrative is light-hearted with many funny moments. Sample this: Ethan says, ‘God pe bharosa hai, isiliye I am dying to meet him.’ Also, the scene in which Sofia gives Ethan a leg massage is hilarious.
The songs in Guzaarish are meaningful which seamlessly blend with the situations. Tera Zikr Hai Ya Itra Hai is exceptional while Udi is foot tapping.
Now let’s come to Bhansali’s recklessness. The film’s plot has an uncanny resemblance to the Spanish film, The Sea Inside (2004). Based on the real life story of a sailor-turned-poet Ramdon Sampredo, who became a quadriplegic following an accident, the film dwells on his three-decade long struggle to get the government grant him euthanasia. Sampredo, immaculately essayed by Spanish heartthrob Javier Bardem, had two women in his life, a lawyer and a nurse. One only wishes Bhansali had bothered to change the characters in this one. And not just the plot, few scenes where Hrithik is seen on a wheelchair staring at the sea is a straight lift from Bardem’s film. Again, the scene where Hrithik exhibits his magic tricks on stage is an exact copy of Christopher Nolan’s The Prestige.
Also the director must have decided to give his favourite theme ‘blue’ a break and opt for black and red instead, which again we see in opulence — be it Ash’s long frilly gowns, Hrithik’s performance attire or the stage backdrop. We don’t mind it at all!
A unique love story, passion in Guzaarish is expressed with subtle smirks and gentle smiles. Ash’s looks pretty in her classy dresses and aprons. The scene where he burst into a rapturous dance performance in a resto-bar is worth a mention. Suhel Seth as Ethan’s doctor and Nafisa Ali as Ethan’s mom do their parts well. Aditya Roy Kapoor is effortless. After Action Replayy and Guzaarish, this VJ-turned-actor is definitely making his presence felt.
As for Hrithik, Guzaarish is likely to act as the much-required springboard to bounce back.

Jaya Biswas

After a lengthy week of sheer monotony at office, one couldn’t even think of staying at home doing nothing, especially when you were staying alone in a city like Mumbai. Thankfully, my weekend trip to Shahapur turned out to be an entertaining jaunt. We still had a sliver of twilight left as I set out with two friends to this less-frequented village en route Nasik. Having wrapped up work early, on a Saturday evening, we headed for the Big Red Tent, a camping ground in Shahapur. The Mahauli mountain range made a splendid appearance on the left. But we had more interesting view on the right as ‘the three idiots on the run’ giggled at any handsome guy who passed by on his bike. We sang tacky Bollywood numbers and clicked pictures much to the delight of our driver, a smart aleck, who was so amused by our antics that he had conveniently switched off the radio. Realization hit when he requested if we could also take a picture of him driving. Though irritated, we obliged. And it did the trick. Our cabbie turned out to be the best possible entertainer-cum-guide taking us to the best possible dhabas and chai stalls during our three-hour-long drive. The milestone indicating Shaha­pur brought us to reality. There was a stunning change in the view around with welcoming lush green trees of unknown varieties. The mud road meandered through brinjal, corn, potato and tomato fields. The orchid garden with freshly made flower beds and pollution-free air breathed in an added energy. We screamed in delight as we alighted from the car. Having paid the driver who would have rather stayed and was keen on taking us back the next day, we had to bribe him with extra tip and send him packing. To our surprise, a young woman in her late twenties came forward and introduced herself as the co-owner of the vast acres of land that assembled the camps. She took us around the campground flanked by a plant nursery on the serene banks of the Bhatsa River. The highlight of course was the private, zipped-up tent well-equipped showers and loos, complete with toilets, washbasins and every typical bathroom appointment, right down to the toilet paper. The next steps were learning how to build our own tents and light a campfire. We were taught how to make our little habitat complete by hanging sheets. To prevent the sheets from flapping, we had weighed them down with our hunter shoes filled with stones. Oh yes, we were supposed to prepare our dinner on a small clay oven provided to us by our hosts. Our barbequed potatoes, tomatoes, mushrooms and cottage cheese, with generous dollops of butter and salt and pepper sprinkled over, the food turned out to be edible, probably because of all our hard work that went into handling the mini clay oven. Post dinner we resumed our chat session. As it was late October, the cool night breeze was bothering us. But we were certainly not in a mood to waste our time inside our tent. We bumped into a wildlife photographer on a shooting spree, an ad man looking for solitude and a bunch of interns on their first camping trip. As we strolled further we saw two more groups camping on the ground. A big telescope camera placed exactly in the middle of the lawn caught our attention. When probed, our hostess informed that camp next to us belonged to a group of students studying astronomy. They had come to capture the meteor showers predicted by the meteorological department late in the night. We were thrilled at the prospect. However, I couldn’t shake off the feeling of vulnerability sitting on the lawn surrounded by tall stalks of grass and black silhouettes of hills around. Was anyone watching? Would some creepy-crawlies dare to come out of the grass to investigate us? I was scared. We waited with baited breath; it was like being privy to a secret world that most people don’t get to experience. Tired after our night walk, I lay on the ground admiring the green grass and blue sky; I burst out singing the Hutch song. Suddenly, I saw a flash in the sky. I had never seen another shooting star of such brilliance and magnitude, which kept getting brighter as it crossed from one corner to the other. We were in awe of what we had just witnessed. I had never seen anything like that before. What I felt was inexplicable. The streak lasted less than a second, bright and dramatic like nature’s Roman candle. The meteor shower continued for hours and by the end of it, we lost count of how many each of us had spotted. The night was all about contemplating things we so rarely see and how we had been lucky to be at the right place at the right time. Perhaps it was the overwhelming episode that kept steaming through my subconscious as I sat there, trying to relax and enjoy the night sky. By then, the temperature was freezing outside … so we decided to retreat into the cosy comforts of our sleeping bags.

Fast and the Furious

 

Supreeta Singh

There was a time when the word ‘romance’ evoked a sense of adventure and thrill. It felt like the slow unveiling of a fantastic treasure that only you were privy to. Love was a private affair, an emotion to be cherished, built upon and guarded with jealous pride. The journey from being strangers to lovers and finally being a married couple used to be a step-by-step discovery. It was both arduous and intoxicating. Even a few decades ago, men and women had a certain charm about them – men were expected to be chivalrous while women were painstakingly coy. Many rue that today the spirit of ‘true romance’ is fading away, only to be replaced by a relationship which is more ‘convenient’. There is nothing emotional about it. While it is true that times were different then, life was simpler… yet even now whenever there is a reference of ‘love’ it can still tug at the heartstrings. Ayan Chatterjee, CEO of Futuresoft says that it makes him sad to see how the whole dynamics of courtship, communication and commitment have changed over the years. “This is the age of flings. Men and women neither have the patience nor perseverance to search for something deeper in their relationships. Much of it is on the surface with conditions applied.” Earlier, rules were stringent and young couples were kept under the scanner of the watchful eyes of parents. The young man had to muster enough courage to approach his dream girl whose best friend became the channel for communication. Debika Mukherjee, a housewife and mother of two remembers how she had to devise elaborate plans to fix a date with her then boyfriend and now husband. “I am talking about the early 70s. My husband and his parents were our tenants. I was in college. Since I knew my parents would oppose the match, we would meet at a friend’s place. We would write each other letters and fix up a time and place. My friend would deliver the message to him. When he left the city for his job, we would write long love letters. I would look at his photograph and cry copious tears!” Today, a date begins with an SMS that says, ‘Let’s have a cup of coffee’. In an age of urbanisation and liberalisation, few men and women are willing to walk the extra mile for each other. Thanks to digital revolution that has fostered online communities like Facebook or virtual communication like Skype, the world has come closer. Issues of commitment do not bother anyone. The concept of ‘one-woman man’ or ‘one-man woman’ is also under considerable pressure. Ayan observes, “With so much sharing of personal information on public platforms, the depth has gone out of people and relationships. The wait for the perfect girl or boy is no longer that intense. If you don’t like someone, you just move on to another person. I see young girls come to nightclubs with different guys every week. These women use moneyed men as their arm-candies and the men in turn enjoy other favours.” Samadrita Bhattacharya, an IT professional believes that men and women are ready to compromise with their values and are motivated by their mind and not their heart when choosing partners. “I see a lot of women around me who are not spontaneous anymore. First they think about the man’s social standing, money and future prospects before they even begin to date. If you let your mind decide for you, then what about your emotions? Relationships are therefore more cut and dry than they used to be.” The fairy tale romance is now obsolete. Or Is it?

By Nasreen Khan

First things first. This is not a book by Sidney Sheldon. It’s a series inspired by his writings or rather an effort, looking obviously at commerce, to continue with the legacy of the bestselling author. The author Tilly Bagshawe is a British freelance journalist and writer based in Los Angeles. She had been a big fan of Sidney Sheldon’s and after his death she was personally chosen by the Sheldon family to carry on writing in his indomitable style.
So if you pick up this book looking for the Sidney Sheldon drama, suspense and thrill, I suggest you pass it. But that is not to say that the book is a let down. The beginning is a tad slow. Then, it picks up pace and comes up with twists and turns that mark every Sidney Sheldon novel. But its the end that leaves you cold, perhaps even in a state of mourning for the deceased author who excelled in the thrill-a-minute, explosive climax in most of his novels.
Grace Brookstein is the prised wife of the king of Wall Street Lenny Brookstein, a true sugar daddy. Billionaires many times over, the Brooksteins have estates around the world, a fleet of yachts and a fantasy life. Lenny is the financial wizard who made billions with hedge funds and then apparently lost it all.  Grace remains the pretty, angelic little daddy’s girl who is guileless and trusting. And she suffers because of that.
When Lenny disappears and billions go missing, Grace finds herself behind bars. Locked up with criminals and facing the wrath of the world, Grace sets out to clear her dear husband’s name. The real drama and suspense begins to unfurl once Grace is in jail.
The book deals with contemporary subjects without delving unnecessarily. There is mention of the Wall Street’s collapse, reminding of the recession. Then there is same-sex love, sibling jealousy and incest. Yet they fail to shock or justify the plot. This is mostly because, overnight, Grace transforms into a bold woman undertaking a dangerous journey.
All through the story you are supposed to feel sorry for Grace and you do. But only at the surface. Underneath you wonder why is she being made to appear as if she is daddy’s little girl. Neither is Grace’s pain convincing nor is her transformation and you might find your interest waning as you near the end. And though the author intends the end to be dramatic, you get a nagging feeling that you knew it was coming. 
The plot feels like a long-running soap opera and the main characters straight out of Danielle Steel novels. There are elements of Mills & Boons too. The characters are one-sided, though Bagshawe tries to add colour through the characters. But in the end they all seem like dummies put out there to highlight Grace’s innocence. Grace is the least convincing, particularly toward the end.
You expect the plot to thicken but no such luck. There are dramatic escapes and sudden accomplices, and friends turn into enemies out of the blue. The storyline is hackneyed and lacks surprise. The author has tried to fit into Sheldon’s shoes but she leaves a clear imprint of her gender. It is good for those looking for light reading. For those looking for thrill, better you re-read some of Sheldon’s earlier novels.

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