Tag Archives: Lilette Dubey

Movie Review: Chashme Baddoor (2013)

Chashme_Baddoor_(2013_film)_Poster3 Stars (out of 4)

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Chashme Baddoor is an enjoyable comedy, and I’m not just saying that because Ali Zafar is adorable. And his hair looks so soft. And when he smiles, I feel like I’m floating.

Knowing that David Dhawan is responsible for both the film’s direction and updating the screenplay from 1981’s Chashme Buddoor, I expected the film to be as crude and tedious as some of his other recent comedies, like Rascals and Do Knot Disturb. Though it has a few annoying elements, Chashme Baddoor is a sweet, funny film about the ways love can interfere with friendship.

The plot focuses on three best friends living it up in Goa: bookish Sid (Ali Zafar) and two aspiring Lotharios, Jai (Siddharth) and Omi (Divyendu Sharma). Their landlady, Ms. Josephine (Lilette Dubey), and the tough-guy owner of the local bar, Mr. Joseph (Rishi Kapoor), can’t understand why a guy with as much potential as Sid hangs out with two losers.

The film introduces Jai and Omi first, which is something of a mistake, since they’re not as likeable as a Sid. The apparent risqué humor of Omi’s romantic poetry doesn’t translate well from spoken Hindi into English subtitles, and Jai is too brash. Their antics are often accompanied by irritating musical cues that had me reaching for my earplugs.

Jai and Omi take turns trying to woo the cute new girl in town, Seema (Taapsee Pannu). Both flame out, but conceal their failure from each other and Sid, inventing stories of romantic conquest. When Sid — having never seen Seema before — falls for her, Jai and Omi conspire to break the couple apart before Seema can reveal their rebuffed flirtations and subsequent lies.

More than just a pretty face, Zafar does a fine job playing Sid as a regular guy. He’s shy, but not mousey; scholarly, not nerdy. Sid’s presence has a calming influence on his buddies, and Omi and Jai are at their best when they’re with Sid.

Pannu likewise does a fine job with Seema, who is feisty without becoming a shrill caricature. She’s youthful but a bit more worldly and confident than Sid, enough to lead him to believe that she could be a lot more worldly than him.

Anupam Kher plays a double role as Seema’s father and uncle. Kher’s characters are even more outrageous than Omi and Jai and are accompanied by even noisier sound effects. This isn’t my favorite performance by Kher.

Kapoor and Dubey, however, are very cute as Joseph and Josephine, a pair of single adults whose courtship is heartwarming. Their story could’ve been more thoroughly integrated into the main plot, but they are delightful every minute they are on screen.

Even during its darkest moments, Chashme Baddoor never gets too dark. When romances and friendships are at risk of falling apart, there’s always a sense that the relationships can be saved, because the characters are all good at heart. This is unapologetic light entertainment that succeeds because it maintains a carefree air throughout.


Movie Review: Pankh (2010)

0 Stars (out of 4)

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Normally, I don’t write reviews of movies I don’t finish, but I’m making an exception for Pankh. I had to stop the DVD after 30 minutes, because director Sudipto Chattopadhyay’s ceaselessly spinning and rotating camera gave me motion sickness.

Pankh is Chattopadhyay’s first directorial effort, under the banner White Feather Arthouse Films. Chattopadhyay seems to think making an “art” movie is little more than a license to disregard the rules of competent filmmaking and get away with stuff the censor board would normally disallow.

The movie’s story is fractured into flashbacks and dream sequences that interrupt the flow of the action set in the present. The story revolves around a young man named Jerry (Maradona Rebello). When he was a child, Jerry’s mother, Mary (Lilette Dubey), tried to foist her own dreams of screen stardom onto her son, making him appear in movies dressed as a girl under the stage name “Baby Kusum.”

As an adult, Jerry predictably struggles with his sexual and gender identities. He seeks refuge in a fantasy world where he meets with a glamorous screen diva, played by Bipasha Basu.

The dream sequences are the most physically unsettling parts of the movie. In one, the camera, trained on Basu, rotates on a pivot while simultaneously tilting from side-to-side, like a rocking boat. I got dizzy watching it and turned the DVD off.

But stupid camera techniques are used in the present day scenes as well. At one point, as Jerry talks to an old acquaintance, the camera is turned 90 degrees to the left. Jerry’s face is visible in the top right corner of the screen, while his body is off camera. All that’s visible of his friend is the top of his head in the bottom left corner of the screen.

I could forgive the nauseating camera work if it had a point. In The Blair Witch Project, the shaky handheld camera shots were supposed to make it feel like a documentary. Chattopadhyay uses the camera the way he does in Pankh just because he can.

Chattopadhyay tries to make Pankh edgier with somewhat scandalous content. Jerry smokes and does drugs. Characters swear profusely in English, and their Hindi curse words are bleeped. In one fantasy scene, Jerry is depicted as Jesus carrying a cross. Jerry and another male character are shown masturbating.

As a filmmaker, Chattopadhyay is like the 13-year-old boy left home alone, trying to get away with doing as many “adult” things as possible before his parents return. There’s no maturity to his attempts at edginess. I can only imagine how painful — physically and emotionally — it would’ve been to endure the final 70 minutes of Pankh.