Tag Archives: Rani Mukerji

Movie Review: Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham… (2001)

KabhiKhushiKabhiGham3.5 Stars (out of 4)

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Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham… (“Sometimes Happiness, Sometimes Sadness“) may not be the best movie ever, but it certainly is the most movie ever. Those able to embrace the film’s excesses are rewarded with non-stop entertainment.

From the outset, K3G (the film’s popular nickname) establishes familial love as its theme. The movie opens with a wealthy man, Yash Raichand (Amitabh Bachchan), talking about the particular affection a father feels for his child. Yash’s wife, Nandini (Jaya Bachchan), stresses the unconditional nature of motherly love. They smile as they talk about their pride and joy: their son, Rahul (Shahrukh Khan). Cut to a portrait of the happy family.

Wait, who’s that other kid in the picture? The one they didn’t bother to mention? It’s their younger son, Rohan, who is a complete afterthought in his parents’ eyes.

Yash and Nandini adopted Rahul as a baby, after having trouble conceiving. When Nandini unexpectedly became pregnant with Rohan nine years later, they continued to focus all of their parental affection on Rahul, leaving young Rohan to make due with hugs from the Raichand family maid, Daijan (Farida Jalal).

Yet when Rahul is disowned for falling for a working-class gal named Anjali (Kajol), it falls on poor Rohan to try to reunite his family. He does so willingly, despite being the acknowledged second-favorite of his parents’ two kids.

Fortunately, the years spent carrying that chip on his shoulder have molded adult Rohan into an Adonis, played by Hrithik Roshan. He takes his prep school education and sleeveless shirts and heads to England to find his estranged brother.

Rohan’s quest is aided by his former childhood nemesis: Anjali’s younger sister, Pooja (Kareena Kapoor). The minute grown up Pooja is introduced, everyone else in K3G ceases to matter, because Kapoor’s fabulousness outshines them all.

Adult Pooja is the queen bee of her college, sneering at the girls and smugly brushing off the boys she deems too lowly for her to date. She’s so damned popular that she can go by the nickname “Poo” without people laughing in her face. Her wardrobe is made up exclusively of hotpants, fur shrugs, and tops that are basically a cocktail napkin held in place by a shoelace.

It cannot be overstated how amazing Poo is. Everything she does is over the top. No character has every been as bratty yet lovable. Kapoor commits to Poo’s outrageousness, and the results are hilarious.

London is where the character relationships in K3G are at their best. Shahrukh and Kajol are even more charming as a married couple then they are in the early stages of Rahul and Anjali’s relationship. Rahul and Poo banter sweetly as he acts as her protective older brother. Poo’s romantic advances toward Rohan are as funny as his rebuffs.

There are a couple of negative aspects to K3G. First is the incessant fat-shaming of young Rohan (Kavish Majmudar). Young Rahul (played by Shahrukh Khan’s son, Aryan) calls his little brother “fat” in every conversation he has with Rohan as a boy. Other members of the household join in, too, as do young Pooja and her pint-sized cronies. When adult Rahul realizes that the hunky guy who’s been living with him under false pretenses is his long-lost brother, the first thing he asks Rohan is how he lost so much weight.

Then there’s the creepy relationship between patriarch Yash and Naina (Rani Mukerji), the woman he’s chosen for Rahul to marry. Naina is all kinds of fabulous, in her sparkly backless dresses and midriff-baring tops. Yash is way too touchy-feely with Naina, and she only makes it worse by singing a sultry, Marilyn Monroe-style rendition of “Happy Birthday” to her would-be father-in-law.

Yet all can be forgiven thanks to the movie’s endearing absurdity, including a song that features Shahrukh dancing in front of the pyramids while sporting see-though shirts, and then pawing at Kajol while wearing various all-leather outfits. When characters aren’t celebrating, they are crying. There is so much celebrating, so much crying, and you just have to roll with the whole experience. Keep that mindset throughout Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham… and you are guaranteed a great time.

Links

  • Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham… at Wikipedia
  • Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham… at IMDb
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Movie Review: Mardaani (2014)

Mardaani3 Stars (out of 4)

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There’s a great shot early in Mardaani (subtitled as “Fighter,” literally “Manliness“). The face of Crime Branch Inspector Shivani Shivaji Roy (Rani Mukerji) is silhouetted against the lights of Mumbai traffic. Her profile takes up half the screen; she’s as much of a part of the city as the traffic itself. She exists in the light, and it’s her sworn duty to bring the criminals of the underworld into that light.

The criminal enterprise Mardaani focuses on is sex trafficking, particularly the trafficking of underage girls. Onscreen statistics at movie’s end emphasize the alarming frequency with which Indian girls are abducted and sold into prostitution.

Like all movie detectives, Shivani doesn’t play by the rules, but she’s respected by her colleagues and quick with a dirty joke. She lives with her husband, Bikram (Jisshu Sengupta), and their niece, Meera. Shivani is also a sort of foster parent to a 12-year-old street vendor named Pyari (Priyanka Sharma), whom she rescued from poverty and placed in a reputable orphanage.

(The niece, Meera, is superfluous to the story except in that she establishes Shivani as a maternal figure and provides an explanation for why Pyari doesn’t live with Shivani.)

When Pyari goes missing, Shivani stumbles onto a sophisticated ring of drug dealers and child traffickers lead by a young man named Karan (Tahir Bhasin), who prefers to be called “Walt” in homage to the Breaking Bad character Walter White. The stakes rise as Shivani gets closer to Karan, and their mutual pursuit hinges on who will slip up first.

Mukerji is believable whether she’s playing bubbly and beautiful or jaded and tough, and she’s great again in Mardaani. She handles action scenes with ease, and she’s funny during scenes in which Shivani jokes with her fellow officers, Jafar and Morey.

Director Pradeep Sarkar and writer Gopi Puthran don’t diminish Shivani’s femininity even though she’s in a typically masculine role. Shivani is a working woman with a family. She makes tea and wears her hair long. But she can chase down a criminal on a moped, and she gets to say cool lines like, “With a lot of love and patience I’ll squash you to a pulp.”

Sarkar and Puthran also deserve praise for their handling of an uncomfortable scene shortly after Pyari’s kidnapping. Pyari and the other girls are sprayed with a firehose and made to strip in front of their captors. The sequence is simply business, and the girls are treated like animals being judged on their way to auction. There’s nothing titillating in the way the scene plays out, which is an important distinction that other filmmakers have missed.

This “just business” approach to trafficking is enhanced by Bhasin’s performance as Karan. His unruffled detachment lends him an air of danger that keeps even his own underlings in line.

The movie occasionally falls into preachiness, as when Shivani explains to a police captain why rescuing girls from force prostitution is a good thing. The soundtrack is melodramatic and corny, at times, though the rock score during chase scenes fits nicely.

In Mardaani‘s climax, Shivani goads her opponents with the same kind of bravado exhibited by other notable Hindi-film cops, all played by men. However, she doesn’t position herself as the arbiter of divine justice (as opposed to a character like Singham in Singham Returns). Obviously she guides events, but Shivani remains aware of her duties as a public servant. It’s a more realistic approach to the single heroic cop story, and it’s more satisfying because of it.

Links

Opening August 22: Mardaani

The Rani Mukerji crime thriller Mardaani (“Masculine“) hits Chicago area theaters on August 22, 2014.

Mardaani opens on Friday at the AMC River East 21 in Chicago, MovieMax Cinemas in Niles, AMC South Barrington 30 in South Barrington, and AMC Loews Woodridge 18 in Woodridge. It has a listed runtime of 1 hr. 54 min.

After a super opening weekend, Singham Returns carries over at all four of the above theaters plus the AMC Showplace Niles 16 in Niles, Regal Gardens Stadium 1-6 in Skokie, and Regal Cantera Stadium 17 in Warrenville.

Entertainment and Kick also carry over at MovieMax and South Barrington.

Other Indian movies showing at MovieMax this weekend include Kabadam (Tamil), Anjaan (Tamil), Sikander (Telugu), Lovers (Telugu), Run Raja Run (Telugu), and Jigarthanda (Tamil).

New Trailer: June 26, 2014

Yash Raj Films recently released the trailer for the new movie Mardaani. Rani Mukerji stars as a cop who must rescue a teenage girl from the clutches of a sex trafficking ring. I can’t wait to watch Rani kick some ass when Mardaani hits theaters on August 22.

Movie Review: Talaash (2012)

Talaash_poster3.5 Stars (out of 4)

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Talaash: The Answer Lies Within is exactly I wanted it to be: an engaging thriller with great performances.

Talaash opens with footage of Mumbai’s red light districts set to a jazzy theme: an intro to the excellent soundtrack by Ram Sampath that permeates the film. The action begins as a car veers suddenly from a seaside road near the red light district, soaring over a wall and crashing into the ocean.

The car’s driver is Armaan Kapoor (Vivan Bhatena), a famous actor. The circumstances of Armaan’s death — Why was he in such a seedy part of town? Why was he driving instead of his chauffeur? — are suspicious enough to lead Inspector Surjan Shekhawat (Aamir Khan) to treat the case as more than a simple accident.

The case also provides Surjan with a convenient escape from the tension at home. He and his wife, Roshni (Rani Mukerji), are struggling with the recent accidental death of their young son. Both blame themselves, but Surjan refuses to discuss his feelings with Roshni, choosing to throw himself into his work.

Surjan finds an investigative ally in Rosie (Kareena Kapoor), a coy prostitute who knows which of Mumbai’s least savory residents has clues to Armaan’s death. Two persons of interest in the case include a pimp named Shashi and his much abused errand-boy, Tehmur (Nawazuddin Siddiqui).

Rosie does more for Surjan than just help his case. She provides him with a place free from memories of his son. At home, Roshni stares at Surjan with expectation, waiting for the chance to really talk with her husband, whereas Rosie’s eyes hold an invitation.

Khan is powerful as the tortured Surjan. Whether it’s investigating Armaan’s death or following beguiling Rosie, Surjan is desperate for a problem to solve. All that comes from thinking about his son’s death are the questions of what he could’ve done to prevent it.

Mukerji is likewise terrific as Roshni, who is just as saddened by her son’s death, but even more troubled that Surjan won’t work with her to heal their wounds. She stares at her husband with such longing before finally resolving to find peace on her own.

Kapoor’s Rosie is too coy at the start, and it takes a while before she seems like a real person and not a caricature of a prostitute. When she finally starts to discuss serious topics with Surjan, she does so with an evasive glibness.

As is the case with seemingly every movie he’s been in recently, Nawazuddin Siddiqui again steals the show. Pitiable Tehmur is the perfect target for abuse: his mother was a prostitute and he has one misshapen foot, so he has no other option but to do what Shashi says. Siddiqui plays Tehmur as resourceful and scrappy, and he seizes an opportunity to get rich quick, even if it gets him in way over his head.

The sweetest relationship in the film is between Tehmur and Nirmala, a prostitute who’s been told she’s too old to be of any value. World-weary Nirmala is not overly affectionate with Tehmur, but because she’s the only person who treats him with any kindness at all, he acts as though she’s promised him eternal love. The relationship wouldn’t be so affecting without someone as skilled as Siddiqui playing Tehmur.

In Talaash, director Reema Kagti and her co-writer Zoya Akhtar have created an entertaining thriller that uses every one of its 139 minutes wisely. It’s easily accessible for anyone who’s a fan of thrillers, as the English subtitles are well-translated from Hindi.

Links

Opening November 30: Talaash

Excel Entertainment’s Talaash: The Answer Lies Within — starring Aamir Khan, Rani Mukerji, and Kareena Kapoor — opens in five Chicago area theaters on Friday, November 30: AMC River East 21 in Chicago, Regal Gardens Stadium 1-6 in Skokie, Big Cinemas Golf Glen 5 in Niles, AMC South Barrington 30 in South Barrington, and Regal Cantera Stadium 17 in Warrenville. It has a listed runtime of 2 hrs. 18 min.

Jab Tak Hai Jaan — which has earned $3.047,539 in the U.S. so far — carries over at the Golf Glen 5, South Barrington 30, and Cantera 17. Son of Sardaar gets a third week at the South Barrington 30, with U.S. earnings of $713,754.

Other Indian movies showing at the Golf Glen 5 this weekend include Damarukam (Telugu) and Thuppakki (Tamil).

Movie Review: No One Killed Jessica (2011)

2.5 Stars (out of 4)

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When a movie begins with promise, it’s almost more disappointing when it falls apart than if it had been terrible from the beginning. Such is the case with No One Killed Jessica (NOKJ), which fizzles after a gripping first hour.

NOKJ begins with a disclaimer that the movie is a mix of fact and fiction, and not a strict reenactment of the Jessica Lall murder case. Based on accounts of the case at Wikipedia, the only major changes the movie makes are to the names of the persons involved. From a dramatic standpoint, sticking so closely to the facts actually makes for a weaker movie.

If you want to avoid plot spoilers, you may not want to read further (and certainly don’t go to the Wikipedia page).

The movie begins with Jessica’s murder at a party attended by 300 Delhi socialites. Jessica, in her capacity as a celebrity bartender, refuses to serve a trio of young men after last call. One of the men, Manish (Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyubas), shoots Jessica in the head and flees the scene.

Since the murder took place in front of several eyewitnesses — and that dozens more saw Manish run from the party — it seems like an open-and-shut case. Given the likelihood of conviction, popular war correspondent and reporter, Meera (Rani Mukerji), turns down the opportunity to cover the story.

But victory looks less certain after Jessica’s bookish sister, Sabrina (Vidya Balan), talks to the prime witnesses. Those who are even willing to speak to her are either too scared to testify or willing to sell their testimony to the highest bidder. Rumors swirl that Manish’s wealthy politician father is threatening witnesses.

Up to this point in the story, the movie is terrific. The scene in which Jessica is shot is tense, and Manish undergoes an impressive transformation from arrogant clubgoer to terrified suspect. There’s just enough of Meera, the foul-mouthed but charming reporter, to make us want to see more of her.

Balan is riveting as Sabrina. Jessica’s introverted sister becomes her unlikely advocate, working with the one beleaguered police chief more interested in the truth than placating a killer’s politician father. Sabrina expresses her emotions in few words, sitting stone-faced, as a high society woman, who professes her fondness for Jessica, claims to have forgotten what happened that fateful night, all while blithely stuffing her face with chocolate cake.

But the story loses its intensity as soon as the case goes to trial. The lawyers are poorly-written and poorly-acted. All of the key testimony is given over the course of a few days, but a montage accelerates time forward six years. While this is true to the actual case, it makes little sense in a fictionalized account. Plus, there’s no mention of what Meera was doing during that time.

After the initial trial results in an acquittal, Meera makes getting justice for Jessica her personal mission, and uses her news program to do so. While crass Meera injects some much-appreciated humor into the film, the story stops being about Jessica at this point. It becomes a cheesy paean to the power of the people.

While it is true that it took public outcry to prompt a retrial of Jessica’s killer, the movie puts too much focus on the people doing the protesting, overshadowing Jessica and Sabrina. There are “man on the street” interviews set to absurdly patriotic violin swells. It’s very on-the-nose, and it makes the movie longer than it needs to be. The point that an outraged populous can affect justice could’ve been made more subtly and more succinctly.

*Even though No One Killed Jessica has no official MPAA rating, consider it an R-rated movie. Meera curses a blue streak in both Hindi and English. The scene in which Jessica is shot is so intense that a child at the showing I attended cried. This is not a movie for children.

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