Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Chal Chala Chal Review

Deepak (Govinda)’s ex-school principal father wins a long running court case against his school and ends up getting a school bus as compensation. But instead of selling it off, Deepak’s father advises him to run it and earn money. Deepak’s two sisters (Upasana Singh and Amita Nangia) and their respective Ghar-Jamai hubbies (Asrani and Manoj Joshi) are against it as the feel it’s a very low profile job. They aim to sell it off so that they can earn some share from selling it off.

But Deepak values his father’s judgment and with some financial help coming up from his good friend Sundar (Rajpal Yadav) he establishes a company and names it Chal Chala Chal transport. But as the noble hearted Deepak begins his transport business, everyone he starts encountering wants to extract money from him. What roller coaster rid it all leads to forms the rest of the film.
CCC would have been surefire hit had it come some 8-10 years ago. Though really entertaining at places, the film fails to qualify as a worth watch because of the second half which wanders off aimlessly. The story keeps moving round and round, the jokes and gags start falling flat and appearing dated and above all Govinda doesn’t seem to be in the form he used to be once in his hey days. Also one wonders why everyone in the film is shrieking so loudly every time. But to give due credit where it deserves, the characterizations have turned out well and some of the sequences (plenty in the bus) make you really laugh out loud.

Age has started to show on Govinda’s face and he should stop doing youthful roles. This film would have been a much better one, had there been a young actor doing his part. Reema Sen is an average actress who carries limited expressions on her face. Also her pairing with Govinda looks awfully odd. Rajpal Yadav however, seems to be in top form and delivers the goods. Razzaak Khan as the bus driver and Asif Basra as the sweet talking conductor are entertaining. Murli Sharms is okay but Manoj Joshi is irritatingly loud.

The camerawork is strictly functional, editing leaves a lot to be desired and the set design too tacky. The music barring the catchy title song is no great shakes.
Chal Chala Chal is the kind of a film which you can easily avoid going to a theatre to watch for but it won’t harm you if you catch it on a DVD or satellite channels

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Delhi-6 Movie Review

Delhi-6 - captivating mix of politics, religion, culture and Delhi

Producer: Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, Ronnie Screwvala
Director: Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra
Cast: Abhishek Bachchan, Sonam Kapoor, Atul Kulkarni, Divya Dutta, Om Puri, Rishi Kapoor, Waheeda Rehman, Pawan Malhotra
Music: A.R. Rahman

So simple from above and yet so lusciously layered beneath, "Delhi-6" does what its director's last work "Rang De Basanti" did so spectacularly. It pushes the boundaries of cinematic entertainment almost beyond the brink, but catches its breath just in time in an exhilarating exhalation of enchanting thoughts, images and characters that seem to convey the truth about life without obstructing the truth about cinema.

Abhishek Bachchan jumps from one building top to another in the congested colony of old Delhi, as the monkey-man shows up in "Delhi-6", a mix that's zingy and intoxicating without trying to be either.

The most valuable quality of this film, which tries to portray the cultural fabric and its tragic-comic resonances in a society trapped between the machinations of religion and politics, is its transparency.

Even when Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra makes deep comments on the culture and politics of religion in contemporary India, he keeps his narrative liberated of punctuation marks.

The narrative flows in one seamless harmony of characterizations, music and satire bound by a vision that sees the aspirations of an "Indian Idol" contestant (Sonam Kapoor) in the same line of vision as the sexcapades of a wily local photographer and the self-serving pontifications of a Hindu right-wing woman.

The greatest virtue of "Delhi-6" is its bustling mass of everyday commuters from Chandni Chowk, whose lives converge in routine and not-so-routine ways to create a work of art that pays a heartwarming homage to the spirit of a city without romanticizing the gali (bylane) culture of towns where jalebis are fried by streetside vendors next to kids defecating in open sewers.

As a society based on hierarchical and communal segregation collapses all around us, Mehra portrays this society in a flux with a mixture of pleasure and regret without getting overly nostalgic.

There are lines which openly ridicule the 'dilli ke dilwale' who are supposed to be one big happy family. However, the family here - warring brothers Om Puri and Pavan Malhotra - and religious communities fall apart with a heartbreaking thud.

The dynamics of a culturally-decaying society are projected into scenes that come together as vibrant vignettes drawn with sincerity, affection and transparency from the most endearing colours of life.

Binod Pradhan's cinematography is the real hero of "Delhi-6". He captures the faded pastels of the crowded gallis of Delhi and the aesthetic garishness of the Ram Leela with the feeling and fervour of a subtle celebration rather than a flamboyant festival.

Mehra's film completely avoids the touristic cliches that the theme - NRI boy returns to desi roots with dying grandma - could have happily embraced. By the time the narrative reaches a sombre climax, we're watching a work of art that transcends the power of the visual medium, sneaks into the realm of dark poetry and then re-merges as a socio-political commentary.

Abhishek, who plays a half Hindu-half Muslim NRI returning to his roots in Delhi, essays his role with elan.

It would be grossly unfair to single out any of the performances. But mention must be made of Deepak Dobriyal as the innocuous Muslim jalebi seller who's pushed against the communal wall, Pavan Malhotra as a loud somewhat mean electrician, Divya Dutta as the locality's garbage collector, Vijay Raaz as the neighbourhood sadistic cop and Atul Kulkarni as the native punching bag.

Waheeda Rehman is so serene yet spirited as the dying grandma, somewhat representative of the world that she comes to inhabit in Delhi with her grandson. But the film belongs to Abhishek Bachchan.

"Delhi-6" is swarming with metaphors, some of them poetic. Peeling off layers of texts and subtexts, we arrive at a work that exudes the scent of true lived-in and experienced emotions.

The hurt and anger of a socio-political system that has gone from corruptibility to destruction is hidden just beneath a warm, sunny all-is-well veneer so beautifully represented by Sonam Kapoor dancing with the pigeon balanced on her head.

What an idea Sirjee!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss

For past few days, my daughter went absolutely ga-ga about a Dr. Seuss and insisted on bringing only Dr. Seuss books from the library. At first I didn’t pay much attention as all I knew about Dr. Seuss that he wrote one of my kiddo’s favorite rhyme that started like

“There was an old lady who swallowed a fly
I don't know why she swallowed a fly - perhaps she'll die!
There was an old lady who swallowed a spider,
That wriggled and wiggled and tiggled inside her;
She swallowed the spider to catch the fly…”

I thought of Dr. Seuss as someone writing meaningless rhymes for children, but then I got a notice from the class teacher asking every children to participate in a reading challenge for Dr. Seuss’ birthday. It sounded worth being curious, and I pulled a few books from my little one’s shelf and started reading.

Theodor Seuss Geisel, born on March 2, 1904, was a writer and cartoonist, most widely known for his children's books written under his pen name, Dr. Seuss. He published over 60 children's books, which were often described by ingenious characters, rhyme and frequent use of trisyllabic meter. His most notable books include the bestselling Green Eggs and Ham, The Cat in the Hat, and One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish.

I managed to read some of his books, namely The Lorax, The Cat in the Hat, It’s Your Birthday and few more. Unexpectedly enough, I found them pretty interesting and funny at the same time. Most of them had some inner meaning to educate some basics of life.

In his ‘The Lorax’, the lorax is a creature who speaks for the Truffula trees, the humming fishes, the bar-ba-loots and the swomee-swans as each of them had their life in danger because of Onceler’s greed. Onceler had chopped off all Truffula trees, leaving nothing for the bar-ba-loots to eat; he filled the air with the smoke of his factory that produced thneed, made out of the trees. The swomee-swans were as sick as not being able to quack. The factory waste was drained to the pond, making the humming fishes sick and The Lorax sent them away one by one, even when the birds had to fly even for months to find a suitable place and the fishes had to walk on their tales.

At the end, when the lastest Truffula tree was chopped off, only Onceler and the Lorax were left, while Lorax flew off keeping behind a pile of rocks and a word ‘UNLESS’. The Onceler finished telling this story to a small boy who had come to find him. The boy asked, "Unless? What does that mean?" The Onceler tossed a small seed to the boy and explained that unless someone cares enough to grow this seed, the last Truffula seed, and let it mature, then maybe the Lorax will come back.

My daughter reacted almost instantly to the story and I realized how cleverly, yet how simply the author passed the message to the children. On his 104th Birthday I wish more authors with such talent be in this era, to educate children about life’s bigger messages in smaller ways.