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The Mindless Winner!!

Kangana Ranaut is on a roll these days. Slowly, but steadily.
..she is climbing the steep steps of stardom and popularity. To all of us, who dote on strong, women-centric movies … Kangana is an idol. She symbolizes the ultimate image of feminism in her movies. She doesnt shy away from looking unglamourous on screen. She doesnt play the hero’s love interest dancing on item numbers or crying for love and attention. She doesnt don chiffon sarees or bikinis or italian for that matter. She feels more comfortable in hindi than in english and doesnt have the ‘accent’ which almost everyone in Bollywood flaunts these days. She is not going around with any big star and is very friendly with the actors and actresses. And she didnt get all this served on a plate. She has had her troubled times. From tolerating physical abuse from Aditya Pancholi, a strained relationship with Adhyayan Suman and a long-distance fling with director Nicholas Lafferty, Kangana has gone through troubled waters too and has come a long way since. But unlike some, she hasnt flouted videos of her depression or havent starred in fashion magazine videos teaching the rules of feminism. No sir. Kangana has always been in a separate genre of her own.

In this movie, she has proved yet again.. why she is the current indisputable “Queen” of bollywood. In ‘Tanu weds Manu’ she played the wild child avatar to the T, whom we couldnt help but love. She has returned to India after 4 years, in ‘Tanu Weds Manu Returns’. Playing the ‘enfante terrible’ act yet again, kangana somehow sends her husband played by the  restrained and diametrically opposite R. Madhavan to a mental asylum. The reasons for her displeasure and irritation with her marriage are never highlighted, but who cares, because by the time Kanagana lands in Kanpur, she is back to her antics and everybody is busy raising eyebrows at her. She meets up her old flames and remembers her old days wih half nostalgia and half melancholy, heaving a heavy sigh. Mohammad Zeeshan Ayub sparkles as the lawyer and the new ‘Aashiq’ who refers to himself as ‘Kandhaa’ for the ladies and dotes on Kangana who is the ‘Batman’ of her mohalla. In the meanwhile, Sharmaji aka Madhavan, releases miraculously from the london mental asylum, lands in Delhi, and meets Kusum, the quintessential ‘sports quota waali’, haryanvi, tough but simple-hearted girl. For reasons unknown, Manu Sharma starts stalking Kusum and starts feeling for her. And for more unexplicable reasons, Kusum, falls for Manu, although knowing pretty well that she is just a face replacement for Manu whose wife she resembles.

More mayhem follows, with the entry of Raja Awasthi, the unlucky lover, played by the inimitable Jimmy Shergill, who unfortunately is about to be engaged to Kusum from Delhi. Adding to the madness is Pappi (Deepak Dobriyal), Manu’s best friend, who is hell bent on proving that he’s the best idiot around. He plans to kidnap a chick called ‘Komal’ in Punjab, and abducts him only to take her to Kusum’s place, where Manu and Kusum plan to marry. In the meanwhile, Tanu’s best friends Payal and Jassi join her to Punjab to find Komal, and surprisingly, on reaching Punjab, forget about Komal and become engrossed in Manu and Kusum’s wedding. If you are already bogged down by the mindless plot, let me tell you, the ‘plot’ has nthing to do with the movie’s fun. Because, the fun here lies in Tanu’s swagger, Kusum’s simplicity in which she ‘old-school girl’ with a lovable haryanvi accent. The fun here lies in Arun kumar aka Zeeshan’s vibrancy with which he tries to impress Kangana and then the vengeance with which he tries to mar her life. The fun lies here in Pappi’s over-the-top antics ..sometimes bordering on hamming. The fun here lies in Raja Awasthi’s sarcastic lines making fun of his own unlucky situation. The fun in this movie lies in the overall light-heartedness and a certain relatability of the overall film. Because when you see Manu’s father giving him marriage advice and Manu’s mother bantering about endlessly in the backdrop, you realise you have seen this situation and gone through this. When you see Kusum replying coyly but responsibly towards Manu’s advances , you remember the girls you have come across in DTC buses. The dialogues are hilarious …. the best ones i have heard lately in any movie. Every character has been given the best lines… ones which you can help but remember hours after you finish watching the movie. kangana-ranaut__812576

Although Kangana’s swagger and her impeccable haryaanvi act wins our hearts, the rest of the cast is just as superb. However mindless it is…  however illogical the plot maybe… this crazy movie….is indeed a winner… a mindless winner

So… I booked the tickets for this particular movie…. in doubt.  Some suggested the Abhay Deol starrer “One by Two” instead of Hasee toh Phasee. But for some reason, I chose Parineeti Chopra over Abhay Deol. This movie is the brainchild of two producers who have belong to diametrically opposite genres of Indian cinema. As Anurag Kashyap’s phantom and Karan Johar’s Dharma productions are introduced together in the opening credits, I expect something quirky, something which has the raw, wry humor of Kashyap’s films and the romance, style and opulence of Karan Johar’s movies.

The movie starts with the childhood incidents of Parineeti aka Meera and Siddharth aka Nikhil. Parineeti is a brilliant mind, a science freak who is for some very silly reasons not accepted by her family and society. She finds encouragement only in her father, who is a small time “saree businessman” living in a chawl. Nikhil is the chronic liar whose father is a strict IPS officer with a permanent scowl on his face. So Nikhil lies and sneaks out to catch a movie. He lies to escape from studies and from his affection-less father and thus is socially considered weird (Hey, give the kid a break!)

Just when you think the movie is going to revolve around Meera and Nikhil’s struggle and about their respective unacceptance from the society, the kids suddenly grow up!

Nikhil-the-chronic-liar, grows up to be a bigger liar and manages to sneaks out to Goa where he meets cute-and-nerdy Meera. Meera and Nikhil share more than a conversation. Meera runs away to Goa after throwing out an outlandish idea about revolving cricket fields to Nikhil. Nikhil listens to the ideas, pitches some of his own ideas as well and then keeps staring into space minutes after she leaves. Enter Adaah Sharma, as the sexy, prim and proper Karishma. Nikhil and Karishma fall for each other and the story takes a time leap.

Nikhil is going to marry Karishma, but is hassled bcoz of money and career issues. Nikhil meets Meera again who is actually Karishma’s ostracized sister, who stole money and ran away from her sister’s wedding only to return and steal more money from her another sister’s a.k.a Karishma’s wedding! All this because of her science project based out of China which makes polymer balls. Well clearly, the director didn’t care to bring about some intelligent description of the project maybe because he thinks it would be to much for the Indian audience. So Meera video chats in Chinese with her research mates, cries when she sees chinese goons thrashing her lab and in the meanwhile wins the heart of a Anu Malik inspired guy who happens to be one of Nikhils’s reatives. Meera is addicted to drugs, eating toothpaste, chocolates and sugar. So Nikhil, the chronic liar who grew up to be the confused and hassled but “sanskaari” and simple guy falls for Meera. The movie continues in mayhem till both of them sort out their differences, learn to understand their own imperfections and decide to marry each other.

The movie scores only because of the bitter sweet chemistry between science girl Parineeti and simple guy Nikhil. At some points, the logic is missing but credit should be given to the director. He brings out the story of a young Indian couple who don’t dance around trees. He brings out two lead characters who are a far cry from our typical Blbollywood lead heroes and heroines. The girl is a rebel and a drug addict. The guy runs around arranging money to be given to his father-in-law. The confusions and thoughts of the lead pair are very relatable to the modern Indian couple. Some typical KJo moments are relived, such as the Punjabi wedding songs and dances, the boy-ties-girl’s-choli scenes. Anurag Kashyap’s influence is not felt much throughout. Parineeti’s character is very quirky and eccentric but real and identifiable. Siddharth comes across as a surprise playing the confused middle class Indian to the T. Watch it for the innocent chemistry between the lead pair. And I am glad i put my money on Parineeti, she didn’t let me down.

A town called Wasseypur….

Anurag Kashyap has re-invoked “Wasseypur” in urban India. Who would have thought..that in the age of tablets, apps, spas, live-in relationships and 3G scams… we would watch a movie….in awe..about a village rivalry between Qureshis and Khans… and a mafia story on coal and iron!! But that’s what Kashyap is all about, right when you start expecting a rural drama with clichéd social issues and hackneyed plots.. he rocks you to the core with a slick vendetta story which has more style and panache than some yashraj flicks. None of the characters are black or white. Every character is real. The dialogues are colloquial yet awe-inspiring and intriguing. If Part I was about Manoj Bajpai’s life, his women, his rise to power and death, Part II is about his sons, their continuation on the journey towards revenge. It is a stylized gangsta flick but set in the heart of rural india. Women though very pivotal to the story, are kept to the sidelines. This movie was adapted as from a novel written by scriptwriter Zeishan Qaidri, who also plays the fearless and street-smart Definite, the illegitimate son of Sardar Khan and a huge Salman Khan fan. As the first part revolves around Manoj Bajpai playing Sardar Khan, the second part focuses on Nawassudin Siddiqui, the wronged son of Sardar, who while remaining stoned has a huge heart for romance for his lady love portrayed oh-so-saucily by Huma Siddiqui. Tigmanshu Dhulia is the suave Ramadhir Singh, fighting for power and control with two generations. Watch for the witty dialogues sprinkled with dry humour which make you cringe and smile at the same time … watch it for the crazy medley of characters… each trying to tell a different story. Watch it for the sheer boldness of Anurag Kashyap for showing the heart of India, as it is.. ruthless, unapologetic, yet very interesting.

Fifty shades of Erotica?

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It starts off as a mills and boon story. Predictable, romantic but mysterious. The somewhat Nancy Drew-ish female protagonist is besotted with the multi-billionaire bachelor- Christan Grey. The complexity of the male lead character is what maintains the interest throughout the book. As Anastasia is introduced to the dark and forbidden world of Christian Grey, she is put in a dilemma. If she refuses to enter his world, that will mean parting ways with grey with whom she is madly in love with. Entering that world will mean forgetting her real self and surrendering completely to Grey’s demands. Meanwhile, she juggles between her career, family, and friends. There are some complex and witty conversations between the Christian and Anastasia. As the readers get to know more and more about the complexities and hidden layers of Christian’s persona, it is Anastasia, the narrator, who captivates with her helplessness and lost in love demeanour. The strong characterisations of Christian and Anastasia are the high points of the book. Sadly, the author is too eager to cater to the masses. Erotica is necessary, and at points been excellently used to depict the tension and chemistry between the lead pair. But as they say, excess of everything is bad. The constant graphic description of their steamy sessions at times make it monotonous. Though one can say, this book can termed as one of the best of erotic literature of recent times. Raunchy, racy and yet very complex. Don’t just read it for the kicks. Read it to understand and witness how a strong and successful story can be woven around porn literature. And… read it to grab the rest two books of this trilogy as well!

The Continental Adventure…..

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Here we are again… on yet another adventure with Sid, Manny and Diego. They embark on yet another journey woven around the formation of continents. Adding to the list of sequels this year… Ice Age 4 adds to the list of this hugely popular franchise which has already enthralled audiences worldwide. With an added ensemble cast of new creatures, this introduces us to Manny’s teenage daughter, Shira…a female sabre tooth, Sid’s eccentric granny and Captain Gutt, who plays the main antagonist of this movie. The continental drift is initiated by Scrat’s hunt for acorn. The herd is separated. The trio meets pirates and in the end reunites with their family. 

  Though the movie is fun, filled with a lot of heart-tugging and beautiful moments, the animation is fantastic, the movie is extremely fast-paced. The producers must have thought again before releasing this movie in 3D because it is not worth it. The 3D effect adds unnecessary confusion to the already breathtaking scenes. The storytelling and the pace was much better in the previous movies where each character was developed properly. In this part, apart from Sid’s Granny,none of the personalities have been characterized in depth.      

Also, i really do not understand, this concept of “dumbing down“. People have been criticizing the movie because of the recreated theory of continental drift. I say.. why not?.. as filmmakers, directors have a right to present each theory in their own way… and as this movie is for the kids…why not present it in a way which is interesting as well as links to the story!!? Let the kids have some relief from their geography and physics lessons and let them have some fun… !! An entertaining movie… not as good as its predecessors but definitely will make the day for kids… 

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KARNA by Heisnam Kanhailal

Karna, the most under-rated but virtuous characters of Mahabharata. The secret love of Draupadi, the secret son of Kunti, the secret best warrior who could not prove his worth just because he was..till the end, an ill-fated man. This play  focuses on the  story of that ill-fated man of Mahabharata.

Only because Karna was the son of a charioteer and a low-caste, he was not even allowed to prove his skills. There has been numerous plays staged on Karna till now. But this play scripted and directed by Heisnam Kanhailal, father of experimental theatre, throws light on the much neglected aspect of Karna- his parents and his childhood. Karna’s mother-Radha who brought up Karna goes through anguish and pain when after Karna’s death in the battlefield, Kunti finally announces the truth about Karna to everybody and with that forbids the cremation of Karna through Shudra rites to ensure the easy passage of Karna to heaven as was believed then.

Karna was always used to  glorify the upper caste. The play resonates the dismay of Karna as he laments that however he was not set within the body and spirit of a Sudra, he was solely identified as a Sudra throughout his life. As Radha calls out to  him –  “Karna, if you really made us the ,lower caste, a part of your life, then we call you. All five elements of your body has turned into ash, but your life still remains. Come, come before us. ” Karna, in turn, responds –  “Receive me in your womb for the next Mahabharataof the underprivileged when it comes out to be”. This play enables us to view Karna’s story in an entirely different light. Karna was used as a role model for matching up to the higher caste. By becoming a king and a renowned warrior, although with no evident royal lineage, Karna was, for them, a symbol of equality they could only dare to dream. They considered Karna as the brand ambassador of against the divine upper class.  But ironically, Karna himself, was in truth , a royal descendent himself. Had he been actually belonged to a low lineage, would he suffer the same consequences?Interestingly, Karna himself laments that he could not bring justice to the society and class in which he was born and brought up. Truly indeed, it is difficult to sketch and analyze a character as complex as Karna.

This play was staged using the experimental theatre or physical theatre methodology invented by Heisnam Kanhailal. Following the Manipuri folk culture in terms of choreography, music and costumes, the striking feature of this play was the strong body language. The choreography was beautiful. Hardik Shah and Debashish Mondal, both were excellent in expressing the anguish and latent anger, but it was Hardik Shah who took the prize with his perfect portrayal of Karna- his preparation for becoming a warrior, his pride on becoming one, his helplessness on being struck by Arjuna when unarmed, and anguish when unable to bring justice to his mother, Radha, even after his death. Wrapped in an hour or so,this play gave us something, which is sometimes the sole reason we watch a play based on as mundane a subject as Mahabharata- a fresh new perspective !

Chanakya’s Chant

Chanakya has always been an intriguing character in mythology. Silently brilliant but unapologetic in his endeavors to realise his ambition, heartless but affectionate for his favourite disciple Chandragupta, he was indeed a man of charisma. Ashwin Sanghi has brought two timelines together in his book – Chanakya’s Chant.

Chanakya, the kingmaker who achieves his ambition of Akhand Bharat through Chandragupta Maurya, shares space with another kingmaker from Kanpur – Gangasagar Mishra who makes his protegé – Chandni, the Prime Minister of India. The chapters alternate between ancient and modern India. The wit of both Chanakya and Gangaprasad make the read very interesting. To fulfil their high ambitions, both of these men sacrifice their own personal lives, become ruthless, become the target of hate even among their followers on the way…but eventually become the masters of fate. They realize, that some price has to be paid to achieve and create greatness. Though, in general, the tools are forgotten after they help create an object; the Kingmaker, is in theory, bigger than the king.

The amount of research gone into this making this book is highly commendable. Every single character of the Mauryan era is accurately characterized and the historical background is very well researched. The highly convoluted corrupt and commercialised political scene of modern India is described  in detail. Towards the end of the book, the political nitty-gritty seem to be a tad too confusing., but the book maintains its pace throughout. No wonder, this book may be adapted into a movie soon! Check out the video trailer below. Also, this book could also be used as a curriculum reference for management students as well! Informative, interesting and insightful. A must-read!!

So… after the Box office dud named “Luck By Chance”, Zoya Akhtar, from the famed Akhtar genepool, gives us “Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara”. Though there had been controversies regarding this poster being a rip off from the movie “Lords Of Dogtown”( see image), high expectations had been pinned on this movie which boasts of an interesting ensemble cast of Hrithik Roshan, Farhan Akhtar, Abhay Deol, Katrina Kaif, and Kalki Koechlin.

But had Zoya Akhtar been watcing the DVD of “Dil Chahta Hai” while writing the screenplay for ZNMD, because this movie seems to have been inspired by the former.  The same 3 guys story, differences between two of them, a road trip, interesting experiences on the way. It seems as if we are going through a slicker, international version of Dil Chahta Hai in Spain. Sure, the locales are shot fantastically, but the characters are sketched very primitively but interestingly.

Hrithik is a hot-shot trader with no time for love and relationships coz he’s busy minting money. Abhay Deol is in distress because of the dominating kalki doesn’t let him be hiself and doesn’t give him space and mind her own business. By the end of the journey he musters up enough courage to tell kalki that their engagement happened by fluke and he has no plans to marry in the near future. Farhan gets to know after his father’s death that he actually was not his biological father and goes to meet his ‘real’ father and to find answers to some questions which had been troubling him. Though this movie has few heart-touching emotional scenes, and the star cast almost brings justice to the script barring a few, the cinematography is beautiful. There are some beautiful moments between the three friends which bring out the best in all of them… Hrithik’s restraint, Abhay’s subtlety and Farhan’s whackiness..! Farhan has got the best lines… and he borrows papa Javed’s poetry as well. Katrina appears as a diving instructor who accompanies the three to the Tomatina festival. Kalki is dull and her potential is unexploited.

Every character in this trio is going through an inner turmoil, and they learn to enjoy and live their life through friendship. Interesting watch.., especially Farhan is splendid as the whacky copy-writer with an even whackier sense of humour. A good watch.