Sunday, June 04, 2006

Movie Review - The Inside Man...

First off, I did not know that it was a Spike Lee film till the credits started rolling and it said, 'A Spike Lee Joint'. So this was to be my second Spike Lee film after Girl 6, which completely wooshed me. So I wasn't really looking forwards to it then onwards.
The movie is about the perfect crime. It begins with four people taking hostages in a bank. But what appears to be a routine (???) crime, is really something else altogether. You see, the thieves are not after the money, r so it seems. They don't break open any of the locks, nor touch any money in the bank. It seems they are after something more valueable. but what could it be.....
And while all this unfolds, there is a polica officer outside the bank, trying to convince the bank robbers to give themselves up and also trying to read their minds as to what their next move will be. Over the next 129 minutes is a battle of wits between the cop and the robbers.
The movies is quite gripping, and builds up a nice tension about what the thieves could possibly be after. But alas, all this is shattered by the ending, when the reasons and the thing they are after are revealed. From being smart crooks, the theives turn out to be pretty ok guys, having justified their robbing. Noble thieves, if you please. It just felt that like in the end, everything must be alright. And I found the whole premise that the thieves were able to hold an entire bank hostage using fake guns, and without killing anyone. Just doesn't compute. The climax is a let down, but all the parts leading up to it are quite interesting. All in all, an ok movie.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Movie Review - Fanaa...

First things first, Amir looks very old in this film, and Kajol looks very fresh. Also, Amir can't do a convincing loverboy act anymore. To repeat, he looks really old. That said, on with the review.
This being a Yash Raj production, it is bound to push the right buttons to entertain. Ergo, the girls are vivacious, the guys are smart talkers, fathers are yuor buddies, and mothers are aa girl's best friend. Just like in a Sooraj Barjatya film only with less jewellery and more sophistication.
The girl Zooni (Kajol), a Kashmiri, wants to go to Delhi to attend a government function at the CM's residence, but her parents are apprehensive, they being the protective parents. Finally they relent to her going to Delhi without her even raising a fight about it, them being progressive parents as well. So off she goes, wishing to 'see' the world, and promptly falls in love with a shayari spouting tour guide, Rehan Khan (an ancient Amir Khan). Really, do girls fall this easily for people? A simple shayari is all it takes? But our girl is not sure about whether to love him or not, she having been always sheilded by her over protective parents. About the only intersting part in the whole affair is Vrajesh Hirjee as the comic relief. I persoanlly found the shayaris a real groaner. Amir totally fails as a loverboy, and really looks like Kajol's pervy uncle. But loved his shirt in the song, though. Finally, she takes an independent decision and falls in love, only to recover her eyesight and lose her man. What a trade-off!! That's the first half of the film.
In the second half, we learn that Rehan is not who he claims to be. He is, in fact, a terrorist, associated with a secret terrorist organization that seeks freedom from both, India and Pakistan. And he is also James Bond, an international man of mystery. Flash forward to seven years, Amir now has a nuclear trigger, which can fire a nuclear missile. While escaping from the army, he is wounded, and takes refuge in, u guessed it, Kajol's residence, who is living unmarried and with his kid named Rehan (her parents are very broad minded). In the time he spends there, his love for her is rekindled, and he thinks of giving up his life as a terrorist and settle down with his wife and kid. But as things turn out, he ends up dead, thanks to his wife, who is an India supporter, but not after accidently killing his father-in-law, who too is an India supporter.
Personally, I like the second half better than the first one. The first half is too predictable, and all the shayaaris grated on my nerves. And, I say it again, Amir looked like Kajol's pervy uncle rather than a lover boy. Everything was so hunky dory in the first half, that it reminded me of a Sooraj Barjaty film!! In contrast, there is a little story in the second half, and Amir looks the parts of a tired, hardened terrorist. And Kajol looks fresh too. The second half shows promise of developing into an arresting tale, but sadly, all is sacrificed for the sake of political correctness, and not stepping on people's toes.
In the end, who could have been a pretty good story ends up being an ok story.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Going Way-Back...

My friend, N, was finally getting engaged, and this provided me an opportunity to attend his engagement, which was held at Dehra Dun, the place I once studied.
Now, the Dehra Dun that I remember from my childhood days was a typical small town, falling apart, with an irresponsible administration. The only thing it had going for itself was the nice weather, which wa salways welcome when one arrived from the plains of Delhi.
So, when I visited D. Dun after almost 15 years, I was in for alot of surprise. For one thing, D. Dun is now a capital of the state of Uttaranchal. That, by definition implies that special attention is being meted out to it by the administration. As a result, its boundaries are being widened, what was once the outskirts is now within town, and it will soon get an airport as well. Within the city as well, the roads have improved a lot. Gone are the potholes, replaced by smooth tar. Quite a few time, I felt they were better than the roads in Delhi, which is no comparision, really, but still.
Previously, the center point of the city was the three theater points near the Ghantaghar, and it still is, but not in the real sense anymore. What was once the cultural center of the city, where everyone came to hang out, is now just one of the points. The three theaters have been renovated, but one doesn't see crowds there, and a fourth one, Capri, has been turned into a shopping center, which is just as well, 'cos it used to show adult films there, and was really run down. And where there were just a few small shops or kirana stores, there are now fancy stores selling prepackaged food and designer stuff. Yes, liberalisation and globalisation has touch the small town India in a major way. Another thing was the number of Nepali street hawkers selling momos and chowmein. These wernt there earlier. And the momos were better, and cheaper than what one gets in Delhi.
The two places I visited were Chukuwala and Tapkeshwar and Garhi cantt. I have very fond memories of both places. Chukuwala, because I used to go there every Sunday and have a nice home cooked meal at a friend's place. And Tapkeshwar, because during our 2 km morning jog there, we were allowed to rest there. And it was nice to seethat both these places haven't changed much. The area around Tapkeshwar has become more crowded, with more villas coming up, it otherwise remains quite peaceful.
The Tibetian market, which was again a very busy spot, has become less crowded. One can't find too many 'Free Tibet' stickers there anymore.
Another landmark of D. Dun, the Anandpuri restaurant is, I am told, no more, being a victim of a family feud among brothers. Think Ambani family feud.
That's all I could do in the less than one day I spent there. But all in all, a very happy tri[p. In fact, any truip outside of Delhi in the midst of the heatwave is a happy trip.