Sunday, December 10, 2006

My World This Week


Read a satisfying book after ages - debutant novelist Cody Mcfayden weaves a great tale of serial killers and an elite FBI taskforce in his 'Shadow Man'. Given that this is a theme done to death (and that too, by authors as gifted as Thomas Harris and Michael Connelly, just to name two offhand), the author does a fabulous job. Smoky Barrett, wounded in all senses of the word, makes for an endearing heroine - not quite a Clarice Starling, but pretty great alright. I'd recommend this book anyday, especially to fans of the genre.


Watched 'Iruvar' once again, and fell in love with the movie all over again. For the few unfortunate moviegoers who haven't seen this movie yet, rent / buy a copy straightaway; somebody has also put up the whole damn movie on Google Videos, fyi. For one, its the best Mani Ratnam movie ever, IMO. And, it has Mohanlal at his awesome, vintage best (he really deserves to be called vintage now!) - whoa, what a performance! In addition, it has Prakash Raj matching Mohanlal scene for scene, in the second amazing performances of the movie.

The movie deals with the dynamics of the MGR-Karunanidhi duo. Hindsight is a great thing to have, and it shows in a lot of the dialogues (a young Karunanidhi remarking to actor MGR that the latter's entry into politics would really 'kill' him - ironic and sorta sad, since it did turn out to be sorta true). The weak link is mostly Jayalalitha's character, played by Aish Rai in her first ever screen appearance. She's better here than all her other screen appearances put together, but most of her screen-time appears to be heavily edited, and the character suffers as a result. There's another scene where Mani slyly hints that Jaya might have actually goaded MGR into raising arms against his old friend KNidhi. In the end, its virtually a school of acting from Lal - given a meaty role to sink his teeth into, Mohanlal shows once again why he's up there matching shoulders with the rest of them.

Kamal Hassan's 'Hey Ram' is another movie that has few things wrong with it. Except for some self-indulgent direction and poor graphics, this is a near masterpiece of a movie. Semi-fiction as a genre is rare in Indian cinema, and so is a film criticizing the policies of Gandhi (no matter how obliquely). 'Hey Ram' straddles both worlds with aplomb most of its running time.

Its a heavily researched movie, and the effort shows. Characters speak in their own mother-toungues most of the time (unlike a Kashmiri terrorist conveniently knowing Tamil, for instance), and are seldom black or white. Kamal himself is grey here - a mere puppet in the hands of Hindu hardliners such as Abhayankar (splendidly enacted by Atul Kulkarni). References abound - whether they be to Sarvarkar's controversial works (its not clear whether the movie refers to Hinduvta or Gandhi Gondhal), or to the Ramayana. Its intelligent movie-making here from Kamal, with little thought or compromise made in the name of entertainment. It might have affected the movie's BO prospects, but then so be it, I guess.

The performances are just awesome: Naseer as Gandhi is very convincing. Amjad Khan's son plays a rioting Muslim, and is pretty sleazy. Rani and Vasundhra Das do turn in good performances, but end up being remembered more as the target of Kamal's lecherous gropes. Atul Kulkarni steals the show from the lot of them with ease. Kamal is just apt acting-wise, but its as a screenplay writer and director that he is in complete control here.

Also watched Farhan Akhtar's and SRK's version of 'Don'. Of course, none of the current actors manage to match the charisma of their counterparts in the original (esp Kareena; SRK comes the closest); but still, watching the new hi-fi Don is fun alright. The action sequences are nicely done, SEL put in some nice numbers (the new numbers, that is; the remixes are not a shade on the originals) and the climax packs a tremendous punch (which the purists and staunch AB loyalists are gonna hate, obv).

Farhan manages to rein in Khan, and except for the horrible dialect he attempts as the normal guy, he comes out truimphs in and as the new-age Don. He is much more cruel and sadistic than AB ever could be; however, he's not a patch on AB in the style department. AB was naturally stylish, despite the horrible clothes he wore; SRK tries hard to be, and the effort shows sometimes.

'Jaaneman' was alright, I suppose. Salman struts his stuff, Akshay Kumar was affable for the most part (and I loved that goofy laugh of his) and Preity is her chirpy self. Director Shirish Kunder attempts to make a Broadway show out of the movie, and would have brought it off were it not for the stale, insipid music by Anu Malik (save the Ajnabi number). Also, for the record: its painful to hear Gulzar pen words like 'mera future hai tere hath mein' or some such crap. He should stick to his splendid Urdu-spouting self. Oh, and how I wish men would learn not to weep like they'd caught their dick in their zips or something; SRK started the trend, and now everybody seems to be following suit; terrinble I tell you!

'Vivaah' was too, too sweet for my taste. All the reverence and goodness made me want to puke. Amrita Rao (who I like) looks piteously at everybody, behaving like a pregnant cow; Shahid sports his 'I'm SRK' ruffled hairstyle and runs around like a loveshorn puppy - uck, in one word!


Its ARR all the way here. First it was 'Munbe Vaa' from the Tamil flick 'Sillunu Oru Kaadhal', and now its the songs from the much awaited 'Guru'. As has been the norm, ARR seems to reserve his best stuff for Mani Ratnam.

'Tere Bina'
is a gem of a number sung by ARR himself in a Sufi style, reminiscent of the great Nusret - its amazing how different Chinmayi sounds here (she sang the title track in 'Kannathil Muthamittaal'). 'Aiy Hairathe' is another splendid romantic ditty, that wouldn't have been out of place in the upcoming 'Jodha-Akbar'; its sung exquisitely by Hariharan and Alka. And then we have the soaring 'Jaago', which begins as a hush and soars into a full-blown extravagantly orchestrated piece.