Tag Archives: Rishi Kapoor

Movie Review: Sanam Re (2016)

sanamre1 Star (out of 4)

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Screenwriter Sanjeev Dutta is stuck in a time warp. His previous film, Heropanti, was an out of touch throwback when it released in 2014. His latest movie, Sanam Re, is similarly dated in its notions of characterization and storytelling.

Director Divya Khosla Kumar compounds the problems by relying on goofball sound effects to set the tone. Such effects may have been the norm in Hindi films ten years ago, but they’ve fallen out of favor in all but the broadest comedies. It’s as though Khosla Kumar and Dutta are determined not to evolve.

Pulkit Samrat of Fukrey fame plays Akash, an office lackey desperate for a promotion that will send him to America. He has a blowhard boss (played by Manoj Joshi), a wacky landlord, and a sassy maid — required characters if you want to make a movie that the audience has seen a thousand times before.

A family emergency requires Akash to return home to his quaint mountain town, a snow-covered place frozen in time following the exodus of all the young people to the city for better opportunities. There’s a brief moment where it appears that the story will explore the aging of small towns in India, but that spark is quickly snuffed.

Instead, we get flashbacks to Akash’s childhood, which he spent dressed as Oliver Twist even though it was the 1990s. Akash’s grandpa (played by Rishi Kapoor) hoped his bratty grandson would one day take over his photo studio. Little Akash only dreamed of marrying his true love, Shruti (played as an adult by Yami Gautam).

Teenage Akash abruptly leaves town to attend college in the city, without so much as a goodbye to Shruti. The plot offers no explanation for his decision. It only happens as a pretext to separate the sweethearts.

Sanam Re routinely takes such things for granted, failing to assign the characters motivations for their actions. The “why” behind an action doesn’t matter, so long as the plot is advanced.

The film also takes for granted that the audience will sympathize with Akash simply because he is the protagonist, overlooking the fact that Akash is a selfish jerk. He abandons his family and friends more than once, always putting his own feelings first. As he says: “Destiny wants it. Because I want it.”

Dutta’s story is built with Akash at the center of the universe, and Shruti only exists to further Akash’s development. The reason she rebuffs his romantic overtures when they reunite as adults is cliched and predictable.

Yet there’s a reason for Shruti to exist, which is more than can be said for the character Akanksha (Urvashi Rautela). Her backstory ham-fistedly positions her as the third member of a  grade school love triangle, which doesn’t ultimately matter to the plot. Akanksha only reappears in the adult portion of the storyline so that Akash can seduce her, thus allowing director Khosla Kumar to objectify Rautela in the grossest way possible.

In keeping with her outdated styling, Khosla Kumar insists that female performers wear skimpy outfits no matter how obviously cold the climate is. In one scene, you can see Gautam’s breath, even though she’s wearing only shorts and a belly shirt.

Many of the film’s jokes are homophobic, racist, or made at the expense of overweight people. Khosla Kumar and Dutta refuse to acknowledge that they are making movies in the 21st century.

Samrat’s delivery during romantic scenes is too slimy to qualify him as a swoon-worthy leading man, no matter how chiseled his abs may be. When Gautam isn’t absurdly chipper, she’s forgettable. Just like Sanam Re.

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Movie Review: Kapoor & Sons (2016)

Kapoor&Sons4 Stars (out of 4)

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Kapoor & Sons packs enough of an emotional wallop to leave one reeling. It’s going to be tough to beat when the Best of 2016 rankings come out.

The Kapoor family — father Harsh (Rajat Kapoor), mother Sunita (Ratna Pathak), elder son Rahul (Fawad Khan), and younger son Arjun (Sidharth Malhotra) — reunite at the bedside of ailing patriarch Amarjeet (Rishi Kapoor) when he suffers a heart attack just before his 90th birthday. The birthday provides a reason for the boys to linger for a few days in their childhood home.

All of the undercurrents of tension between the family members surface as soon as the boys come home. Harsh and Sunita are shorter with one another than they used to be, though they fall back into old patterns with their sons. Rahul is the golden boy, his room a shrine to his accomplished youth. Perpetual screw-up Arjun finds his bedroom re-purposed as his mom’s closet, overrun with purses and exercise equipment.

There’s trouble between the boys, too. Rahul waits for his brother to grow up, while Arjun harbors resentment toward Rahul, not just for his exalted status but by a suspicion that it may have come at Arjun’s expense. None of these concerns are addressed openly, leaving wounds to fester.

Two people make the trip home worthwhile. First, Grandpa Amarjeet, whose abundant love for his grandsons only grows when they teach him how to watch pornography on his iPad. Second, Tia (Alia Bhatt): a fun-loving neighbor who meets the boys separately and charms them both.

Kapoor & Sons is beautifully balanced, with funny moments juxtaposed against serious revelations. Writer-director Shakun Batra and co-writer Ayesha Devitre Dhillon set the perfect tempo, allowing subplots and relationships to develop at a pace that never feels rushed.

Behind all of the action is a beautiful, evocative score by Sameer Uddin. Of all the film’s wonderful qualities, the score may be the very best.

The acting in Kapoor & Sons is top-notch, the whole cast striking the right tone under Batra’s direction. Ratna Pathak and Rajat Kapoor are so strong as a couple whose marriage suffers after their kids have grown up and moved out. It’s wonderful to watch Alia Bhatt and Sidharth Malhotra grow as young actors.

Fawad Khan is hypnotic. His acting is graceful and grounded and stands out even when compared to the film’s other great performances.

Rishi Kapoor is terrific as well, equal parts funny and moving as an old man who just wants his family to be happy again. His makeup and prosthetics (designed by Greg Cannom) age the 63-year-old Kapoor effectively, without being distracting.

Two supporting performances of note belong to Sukant Goel as Arjun’s pal Wasim and Fahim Shaikh as Wasim’s bodybuilding brother, Boobly, who steals every scene he’s in.

Batra’s directorial debut Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu showed a ton of promise, though it was marred by a frustrating ending. Those frustrations are nowhere to be found in Kapoor & Sons, a mature, satisfying film. Well done.

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Movie Review: All Is Well (2015)

AllIsWellZero Stars (out of 4)

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Few movies have angered me as much as All Is Well. It’s cruel and offensive, making light of human suffering for the sake of an easy moral lesson.

This is a huge surprise given that Umesh Shukla is behind the camera. The last film he directed (and co-wrote) — 2012’s OMG: Oh My God — is funny, understanding, and generous of spirit. Then again, Shukla also directed 2009’s Dhoondte Reh Jaoge, a rip-off of The Producers that I also described as offensive. Maybe OMG was the aberration, and All Is Well is Shukla showing his true colors again.

All Is Well fancies itself a comedy about a bickering father and son, played by Rishi Kapoor and Abhishek Bachchan, respectively. When Bhalla (Kapoor) isn’t losing money via his unpopular bakery, he’s yelling at his wife Pammi (Supriya Pathak) and son Inder (Bachchan).

Growing up in such a hostile environment turns Inder into a complete misanthrope. After having been kicked out of the house for calling his dad a loser, he’s spent ten years in Bangkok, avoiding his parents and struggling as a musician.

Inder’s misanthropy is most acutely directed at Nimmi (Asin Thottumkal), a brain-dead chatterbox who is in love with him. Nimmi is so oblivious that she can’t recognize Inder’s contempt for her. Her arranged marriage subplot is shoddily tacked on to the main story, in which Inder is tricked into coming home to settle his father’s debts. Everyone is an unrepentant jerk throughout, and few cinematic “happy endings” have felt less earned.

All Is Well does wrong by so many people. Dwarfs and people with dark complexions are the butt of needless, hurtful jokes. The movie — written by Sumit Arora and Niren Bhatt — has no respect for women, hence why Nimmi is portrayed as a total dumbass, desperate to marry.

No character suffers as much as Pammi, who is a human plot device. Inder returns to India to find his mother in an “old folks home” suffering from Alzheimer’s. (Note that Pathak is only 54.) The movie makes the following untrue claims about Alzheimer’s, all in the name of moving the story forward:

  • The progression of Alzheimer’s can be stalled if you keep the patient happy at all times.
  • Alzheimer’s is caused by familial neglect, somewhat on the part of one’s spouse, but mostly due to neglect by one’s children.
  • Alzheimer’s can be improved, if not outright cured, if said neglectful children move back in with their parents.

I haven’t mentioned it at this website, but earlier this year, my mother died in her mid-sixties after suffering for five years with a degenerative neurological condition. Not Alzheimer’s, but another incapacitating disease with no specific cause and with a similarly slow decline (both mental and physical) and grim prognosis.

It’s hard to watch a parent undergo such hardship without any hope of a cure and without anyone to blame for it. There was no accident, no source of infection. There was no one to yell at, no one to sue — not that it would have helped. She was predisposed to get sick, she did, and it was horrible.

So, for Umesh Shukla, Sumit Arora, and Niren Bhatt to imply that someone like my mom might suffer a terrible death because her kids didn’t pay enough attention to her is bullshit. It’s offensive, and it’s mean.

To make light of such a dreadful condition for the sake of a comedy film is beyond callous. Pammi might as well be just another prop, the way she’s shuffled from car to house, forced into a situation she can’t possibly understand. She utters only a handful of words, which is a tremendous waste of an actress of Pathak’s caliber.

There’s no reason to see All Is Well. None. Something this hateful shouldn’t be rewarded.

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Streaming Video News: June 2, 2014

New on Netflix streaming is the 2013 spy thriller D-Day, starring Irrfan Khan, Arjun Rampal, Rishi Kapoor, and Huma Qureshi. I think about D-Day more often than any other film from last year, and I look forward to watching it again.

Eros Now debuted Purani Jeans on its streaming service a couple of days ago. The coming-of-age film from last month didn’t open in North American theaters, so it’s great that fans over here finally have a way to watch it.

Movie Review: Kaanchi (2014)

Kaanchi_poster1 Star (out of 4)

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Kaanchi: The Unbreakable fancies itself an inspiring story of a simple country gal taking on the powers of corruption. In reality, Kaanchi is a tale of personal revenge, and a really boring one at that.

The story begins with an uninformative framing device that has no narrative payoff until over an hour into the film. A Mumbai police officer, Bagula (Chandan Roy Sanyal), sits handcuffed in an interrogation room, trying to explain his role in the tumultuous events sparked by a woman who’s gone missing. Bagula says that the woman is his childhood friend, Kaanchi (Mishti).

Kaanchi (Mishti) is the female version of the big-man-on-campus Bollywood hero whom everyone seems to love even though he’s an immature, annoying asshole. Kaanchi is every bit the asshole — temperamental, jealous, and vain — yet she’s the favorite daughter of her mountain village, Kochampa.

While Kaanchi trades verbal barbs with her boyfriend, Binda (Kartik Tiwari), members of the wealthy Kakda family arrive in town, intending to force out the villagers in order to build a luxury resort. This troubles Binda, but Kaanchi could give two shits. She’s too busy worrying about other girls flirting with Binda.

Kaanchi befriends Sushant — heir to the Kakda fortune — and he falls in love with her. This sets off a chain of events that results in Kaanchi fleeing the village in a rage, vowing revenge. Thus ends the first hour of a two-and-a-half-hour-long movie.

Kaanchi’s reunion with Bagula in a Mumbai dance bar is unintentionally hilarious. Scantily clad ladies sing, “You’re sexy. You’re like a taxi,” to which Bagula responds, “I’m a carefree big boy.”

Only Rishi Kapoor — who plays one of the villainous Kakda brothers — gets a better character introduction: strumming a guitar on a round bed while a pair of busty women in lingerie chomp on Ritter Sport chocolate bars.

There are nine or ten pointless musical numbers that serve only to waste at least forty minutes of runtime in an already overly-long film.

Among the dance numbers, the highlight is “Thumka,” but for the wrong reasons. It features the least flattering outfits I’ve ever seen on white backup dancers. Each dancer wears a monokini, black elbow gloves, gladiator sandals, a bobbed wig, and black, control-top pantyhose. A few of the dancers look like they’re wearing athletic cups inside their hose. Check out these sartorial abominations:

The acting throughout is pretty abysmal. Kapoor’s performance is hammy and out-of-place. Mithun Chakraborthy — who plays the other Kakda brother — has cotton balls stuffed in his cheeks for no apparent reason.

Misthi doesn’t do herself many favors in her debut performance. She moves as though she’s wearing a back brace, and her high-pitched shrieking sounds insane, rather than powerful.

Throughout the incredibly dull second half of the film, side characters refer to Kaanchi as a representative of young India, fed up with politics as usual and tired of a corrupt system. However, Kaanchi doesn’t see herself that way. She never mentions the threat the Kakda family poses to her village, nor does she mention the rigged system that benefits such wealthy families.

Had Kaanchi decided to fight for Kochampa or on behalf of the underclass, that would’ve constituted character development. But Kaanchi doesn’t develop at all throughout the film. She begins and remains a temperamental young woman who’s used to getting her way. After the interval, she just redirects her temper.

This isn’t a political or inspirational movie, no matter how badly writer-director-producer Subhash Ghai would like to frame it as such. Kaanchi is a messy, dull revenge flick, and that’s all.

Links

  • Kaanchi: The Unbreakable at Wikipedia
  • Kaanchi: The Unbreakable at IMDb

Movie Review: Bewakoofiyaan (2014)

Bewakoofiyaan_Poster3.5 Stars (out of 4)

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Do not be fooled by the title of Bewakoofiyaan (“Stupidities“). There’s nothing stupid about this movie. Director Nupur Asthana and writer Habib Faisal use a familiar romantic comedy formula to tell an unexpectedly thoughtful story about how economics affect romantic relationships and one’s sense of self-worth.

Life is sweet for marketing executive Mohit (Ayushmann Khurrana). He’s got a new job, a new car, and a beautiful, successful banker girlfriend, Mayera (Sonam Kapoor). Mohit’s driving instructor/life coach warns that one never knows what problems lie down the road, but as long as Mohit has Mayera, everything will be okay.

Mohit’s plans to marry Mayera hit a roadblock when he meets her stubborn father, V.K. Sehgal (Rishi Kapoor). After struggling to raise his daughter on the modest salary of a government bureaucrat, Sehgal believes that Mayera must marry a man with a lot more money than Mohit.

Just when Sehgal decides to give Mohit a probationary run as a candidate for future son-in-law, the real disaster strikes: Mohit loses his job. His pride keeps him from taking jobs he considers beneath his MBA status, and the financial stress of keeping up with their free-spending social circle wears on both Mohit and Mayera. All this while they hide Mohit’s unemployment from Sehgal.

Asthana establishes the appropriate humorous tone for Bewakoofiyaan given the characters. These people are executives, so scenes are funny without devolving into clownish wackiness, reliant more upon sly facial expressions than slapstick.

The secret of Bewakoofiyaan‘s success is Faisal’s story construction. The story never drags, and scenes don’t outstay their welcome. Themes are stated early and recur throughout the story. Faisal really, really knows how to write a screenplay.

One of my favorite aspects of the screenplay is a B-story that puts Sehgal in a similar position to Mohit, even though he doesn’t know it. Forced to retire at age sixty, Sehgal feels — like Mohit — that his skills that aren’t being utilized. He secretly enlists Mohit to help him find a job, over Mayera’s objections. Seghal’s introduction to the wonders of email, Google, and video games is very amusing.

The two jobless men form a bond, but they don’t suddenly become best pals. That wouldn’t make sense. Seghal is still stubborn, and Mohit still hates the idea of begging Seghal for anything, even Mayera’s hand. Yet their bond pays dividends for both by movie’s end.

Khurrana and Rishi Kapoor both do a great job at making their flawed characters sympathetic from the beginning and showing slow but steady growth. Both characters — united in their love for Mayera — must come to terms with the fact that they can’t provide for Mayera as well as she can for herself and decide what that means for them as men.

During an argument with Mohit, Mayera complains that she’s had to curtail her shopping since he lost his job. It’s a testament to Sonam Kapoor’s talent that she’s able to make this complaint sound reasonable rather than whiny. Mayera’s no less affected by Mohit’s job loss than he is, just in different way.

All this exploration of male ego and the side effects of job loss aside, Bewakoofiyaan is still a Yash Raj Films romantic comedy. There are exotic locations, a pair of flashy dance numbers, and an easily accessible story. It just deserves extra credit for being smarter than it needed to be.

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New Trailer: February 6, 2014

The trailer for Yash Raj Films’ Bewakoofiyaan is out now. The romantic comedy — starring Sonam Kapoor, Ayushmann Khurrana, and Rishi Kapoor — hits theaters on March 14. It looks sort of cute, but uninspired. [Update: I changed the video to one featuring English subtitles. I’m still not impressed.]