Review of Chashme Baddoor 2013

Har ik friend kameena hota hai – this is the refrain of the remade Chashme Baddoor 2013 and quite aptly so, at least in the context of the film.

Now if you’ve seen the original Chashme Baddoor, you may cringe and roll your eyes at the maliyametoing the film’s director, David Dhawan has done of the original film. Yet, if you watch the movie with an open mind and a light heart, you will enjoy its silliness and loudness – a trademark of Dhawan films.

The film is the story of 3 friends played by Ali Zafar, Siddharth and Divyendu Sharma, college boys with no money, lots of debt, one panga after another and generally a bindaas lifestyle.  A new girl, Tapasee Pannu, comes to their neighbourhood in Goa and the story revolves around their vying for her attention and love. Drama ensues and it flits between comedy and tragedy. 

The dialogue is crisp, crazy and seems to be ad libbed quite often. The film moves at breakneck speed and reminds you of a Nickelodeon show (one of the partners of the film) – bright colours, loud music and exaggerated acting. The actors are no Farooque Shaikhs or Rakesh Bedis and I wasn’t expecting them to be so I wasn’t too disappointed.

Rishi Kapoor and Anupam Kher are veteran actors and held their place in the film. Rishi is Joseph who falls in love with Lillette Dubey aka Josephine and they make a cute couple.  Anupam Kher never fails, he is in a class of his own and is an absolute hoot. He plays Santru and Cheeku (double role. Haanji!) and everytime he appears on the screen, he has you in splits.

Was it anywhere close to the original? I wouldn’t even bother comparing them because CB 1981 was in a class of its own and the star cast was subtle and polished while these are newcomers who worked really hard but the total effect was more of today’s entertainment world as we know it, loud, garish and over the top.

The actors did a good job though. Pakistani actor, Ali Zafar played the sedate friend quite well, he definitely had an old man vibe around him. There were times when his style seemed to mimic Dev Anand’s. His friends played by Siddharth and Divyendu stole the show as they were energetic and fit the bill of kameena friends. Newcomer, Tapasee Pannu is cute and a natural with the girl next door look. She reminded me of Preity Zinta and it was refreshing to see an actress without a ton of makeup and a closet full of designer fashions.

The quips are too many and too funny to recount here but the ones that stuck in my head were:

Anupam Kher: Lahaul vila Kuvatt. Actor: Tum kahan jaa rahe ho? Anupam: Arre kaha toh, Lahaul via Kuwait.  

Actor: Film main tumhe swimsuit pehnana padega? Seema: Kyun? Actor: Kyunki film doobni nahin chahiye na.

A fun movie for a rainy day which will leave you in an uplifted mood when you exit the theatre.

Khiladi 786

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Akshay Kumar is back as Khiladi …. for the 8th time. And this time he is Khiladi 786. I am always wary when I watch AK movies because they go from funny to ridiculous to absolute torture very quickly and I didn’t expect much from this one either. I knew nothing about the film before I started watching it, so I groaned when I saw Akshay as a police officer. Another Dabangg wannabe? You have to give it to Hindi film makers. They are utterly shameless in their lifting of ideas, scenes and sometimes entire storylines. So, as I sank into my seat thinking it would be something worse than Dabangg. (can anything be worse than Dabangg?) I was pleasantly surprised to find the movie quite tolerable and very funny.

So, Akshay is Khiladi Bhaiya (you have to listen to the song … it just grows on you and yes, it’s quite like the Dabangg title song) and he is 72 Singh as in Bahattar Singh. His brothers are Pichhattar, tehattar …. you get the drift. He also has a brother ikhattar who is his twin. You know how every second 70’s movie would have twins going to a mela and then tragedy would strike. Well, that’s what happens to Bahattar’s twin but you don’t shed any tears when you hear this. You just laugh mercilessly. Bahattar has superpowers as all Indian heroes do, his tag line is something along the lines of  – Duniya main teen hi cheezein hain jo nazar nahin aati – ek bhooton ka sansaar, doosra pyar aur teesra bahattar ki raftaar. So, he beats up the bad guys, has a very multicultural family and then runs into Asin (of Ghajini fame). She is TTT’s (Mithun Chakraborty) younger sister who is waiting for her boyfriend Azad to get out of jail. Notice the cleverness of the name, Azad locked up in jail? Poor Azad comes close to being released several times but just doesn’t make it until the good guy rescues him.

So, the love story isn’t much of a story. Both Bahattar and Indu are having trouble getting married so the matchmakers decide to tie their knot. And the matchmaker is none other than Himesh Reshammiya accompanied by a caricature of Amol Palekar. Himesh has to arrange at least one successful rishta to prove to his father that he can be successful on his own, Bahattar has to get married to any girl and Indu has to make sure that she does not get married to anyone except Azad. So, does anyone get married in the end?

Overall, I enjoyed the film. Complete bakwaas, mindless fun which made you laugh out loud several times. I thought the comedy was quite well done and I could imagine the crew having a blast writing the lines and making the film. For example, while TTT quotes the very staid, Sanskrit shlok which is the motto of Maharashtra police, his Punjabi counterparts’ motto for Punjab police is …. hiliarious. Then, if you are a hindi movie buff, you will get the other jokes, like when Indu throws a flower pot at Bahattar, he says – Main jatt gamla pagla deewana! Azad is quite a character too, as is the supporting cast.

And if you do start to get distracted, the movie is shot in the brightest of colours, the songs are loud and the dancing is mad. Nothing subtle about this movie. So, I hear that Himesh wrote the film and produced it, along with Akshay and Twinkle. But still, did they have to use Himesh’s voice? The voice and Akshay did not gel at all. But I loved the visuals of the song shot in Dubai/Saudi Arabia/desert somewhere. And thankfully the voice isn’t Himesh’s but not much of an improvement. Mika Singh is a permanent fixture in AK films and Long Drive is his item in the film.

All in all, a fun movie that will make you laugh provided you leave your scepticism, intelligence and reasoning at the door. You might just say – Saadhe naal rahoge te aish karoge …..

 

City of Veils – Zoe Ferraris

There is something about books written by foreign authors where the usual charm of a story becomes deeper with the nuances and mystique of a different land. So, as I was adding Zoe Ferraris to my list of good foreign writers, I found out that she is an American author, white as they come, married to a Saudi Arabian. That kind of lost the legitimacy of her right to write about a foreign country but when I saw that her books come from her experience of living in Saudi Arabia with her in-laws for 9 months, I had to give her another chance.

When I began to read ‘City of Veils’, I wanted to devour it one big gulp because it started off with the body of a woman washed ashore in Jeddah, then it switched to Miriam Walker, an American woman travelling to S. Arabia to be with her husband who is working a security job. You can almost feel the claustrophobia of Miriam as Ferraris writes, “They were technically in New York, but she could feel Saudi Arabia draping over them with every blast of recycled air. She ran a hand through her hair and thought, Enjoy our last bit of freedom, curly locks.” Then the book moves at breakneck speed when Miriam lands in Jeddah and is thrown into a room for ‘Unclaimed Women’ because her husband is not at the airport to ‘claim’ her and as she has no work permit, she needs a man to accompany her from the airport. Eventually Eric Walker does show up and takes her home. As he leaves the house to bring some shwarma (this had my full attention, food always gets me) for her to eat, she goes up on the roof of the house. Shortly afterwards, she hears the door slam. She goes down, the food is on the table so she takes a bite  then calls out to Eric. No response. She calls out again and looks in the bathroom, the other room, outside – nothing. Two hours later, no Eric. Two days later, no Eric. And this started the thrilling ride of this book. I wanted to finish it in one night while my friend who also loves to read said that she takes small bites of these kinds of books and relishes them slowly.

City of Veils is set in the Arab world and along with the mysteries that need to be solved (there are more than the just the two mentioned), the richness of Ferraris’ writing takes you to another world. You can smell the souk, feel the heat of the desert, the rules of not speaking to a man or being alone with him, the mutawwa – religious police who ensure women’s heads, faces and bodies are covered in public, the struggles of male characters who admire the choices of the women they love but cannot reconcile their religious upbringing with their beloveds’ independent thinking. While restrictions abound, there are scenes of sons going trousseau shopping with their mothers to buy intimate lingerie for their wives, hints of prostitution and other vices that humans succumb to easily.

There is suspense, drama, murder, romance and all the other ingredients that make for a thrilling read. The vividness of Ferraris’ writing takes you right into the scene where you can almost hear the characters think and feel their thoughts. For example, there is a sandstorm towards the end of the book and the details of the storm left me breathless as I almost skipped pages to see if the characters survived the rage of the desert.

And I almost forgot because now I’m just wrapped up in the story of the book but when I started to read the book, the very first sentences made my eyes pop and I was tempted to drop the book and first research the truth in the author’s statements. “The woman’s body was lying on the beach. “Eve’s tomb”, he would later come to think of it, not the actual tomb in Jeddah that was flattened in 1928, to squash out any cults attached to her name, nor the same one that was bulldozed again in 1975, to confirm the point.” What!!! I had no idea that there was an actual Eve, of Adam and Eve fame, and she has a tomb. And that is another story of legendary proportions in itself.

Desi Boyz – Hindi film

Watched Desi Boyz last weekend. Akshay Kumar and John Abraham starrer directed by Rohit Dhawan, son of all those madcap Govinda -Salman starrers’ director, David Dhawan. I can’t say that I loved or hated the movie. I watch Akshay movies with caution because you never know how ridiculous they will get and whether you will just give up and leave the movie half way or sleep through it, as I have started to do lately. (Not just with Akshay but all boring movies literally put me to sleep)

So, the movie is set in England. Do they make movies in India any more? Akshay is Jignesh Patel, aka Jerry and it was nice to see a Gujarati character played by a hero for once as everyone is usually a Punjabi fella. Not that this stopped this gujju from singing in Punjabi. I enjoyed his Gujarati dialogue with his mom, brief but funny. John Abraham is Jerry’s friend. He is the successful friend with a pretty girlfriend (Deepika P) while Akki is the loser friend.

So the movie starts out with Akshay coming into John’s apartment where Deepika has organized a surprise for John. Nothing noteworthy about the scene other than the fact that it was lifted straight out of a Hollywood film. I couldn’t for the life of me remember which movie it was but it was lifted frame for frame. Typical!!

Without going into too much detail, the film covers the struggles of Akshay and John and how Sanjay Dutt (who has Khalnayak music as his signature tune) bails them out. Akshay and John get to show off their muscles and much as I love John’s phyisque, this movie was a bit much. He looked extra pumped and somewhat grotesque at times with his bulging biceps. Whatever!! They are actors not eye candy so I should focus on their acting abilities. ;) As far as acting goes, Askhay has become a caricature, very predictable and there were times when he was copying Paresh Rawal to a T. That was disappointing and annoying. John was okay, I didn’t expect much from him acting wise. Not that I expected Akshay to deliver much either. So the boys have fun while they can, make some money but then they have to become the traditional Indian boys too and get back to normal living and that is pretty much the movie.

Deepika was okay but who was that Bindu avtar who showed up as Akshay’s ex- class mate? She had a very vampish look. Made me somewhat uncomfortable as I’m used to those pure as Ganga, delicate heroines in Hindi movies. Saw Anumpam Kher after a long time, he was silly and all right but I was reminded of his versatility as an actor as I always think of his Saaransh and Boney Singh characters.

One thing about Akshay movies is that they have good music. One song that really stood out for me, music wise, was ‘Allah maaf kare’ though the laat maar dance style went right over my head.

It’s a good time pass kind of movie. I’d say 3.5 stars out of 5.

Before I go to Sleep – S.J Watson

Before I go to Sleep – S.J Watson.

Before I go to Sleep – S.J Watson

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My oh my! What a thrilling book this was. A psychological thriller to the core and it quite literally deals with neuropsychological issues that keep you engrossed till the very end. As for the end? Well now it’s an ending that you just don’t expect and trust me, you will be floored by it.

This is a story of Christine, a 47 year old woman who loses her memory in an accident. Her memory loss is so severe that every morning is a new day where she does not recall events from the past at all, even from the previous day. She wakes up next to a stranger every day and the stranger has to remind her that he is her husband of 22 years. Then there’s a Dr. Nash in the story, a neuropsychologist who Christine is seeing but has to be reminded every day about who he is and what he does. He encourages her to keep a journal so she can recall some of her day to day events.

As the story progresses, Christine discovers that her husband has been keeping secrets from her. He tells her that she lost her memory due to a motor vehicle accident but she finds out otherwise. Why is her husband lying to her or is he? What else could he be hiding from her? She finds a long lost friend who she suspects of having an affair with her husband. So can she trust her with her doubts and fears? Does her amnesia get resolved in the end? What the heck is going on? Those were the questions that made it very hard for me to put this book down. 

Though the book is set in England, it has a very American feel to it. I don’t know if you hear the characters talking as you read books, but I usually imagine them speaking and I could hear the characters of this book speaking with American accents. (Just an irrelevant point I thought I’d make).

Turn of Mind – Alice LaPlante

Turn of Mind – Alice LaPlante.

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