In this forthcoming sci-fi thriller directed by Andrew Niccol and starrring Justin Timberlake and Amanda Seyfried, in the future the time is money principle is taken a step further and money has been replaced by time as a measure of wealth. We stop aging at 25 and if you want to live you need to earn your every minute. The richest can live for ever, while the poor die young . Sounds like an interesting premise and Andrew Niccol goes back to the dystopian Sci-Fi world which he showed considerably vision for in Gattaca (1997). Check out the sizzel reel from Comic- con which is essentially an extented trailer and some of our thoughts below!
What’s really interesting to see here is Justin Timberlake taking on an action heavy role. JT’ is actually a pretty good actor and I don’t think he gets the credit he deserces. He’s been constantly looking out for challenging roles and he was pretty great in Alpha Dog and Black Snake Moan. And if anyone has seen Bad Teacher and the SNL’ shorts like Jizz in my pants and Dick in a Box, you know he’s pretty hilarious too. But here he is taking on Jason Bourne types of preportions and who knew before Matt Damon took on the that role that he would become one of the most reliable action stars around?
How freaky is that scene with the daugther and the mom?
The rest of the cast is pretty strong too with Amanda Seyfried (we like her), Olivia Wilde, Alex Pettyfer, Cillian Murphy and Matt Bomer ( Bruce from Chuck!) and except S1mOne, I dont feel Andrew Niccol has ever made a bad movie. If this even makes the type of money Limitless made this year, I am sure everyone will be happy.
Do you think JT can pull this off? Let us know in the comment section below!
With the release of Murder 2 and Singham, message boards and twitter timelines are rife with calling out movie makers as lazy thiefs and intellectual hacks. Bollywood has always had a rich tradition of playing fast in loose with it’s ‘inpirations’ so Upodcast decided to take on this subject head on with our unique view of the world of Hindi Film and music industry and accompanied by an esteemed panel of sharpshooter bloggers, we give you the discussion to end all discussions. Check out our take on Remakes, Adaptations and Straight Lifts in Bollywood! Read More
Bajirao Singham is an honest cop and darling of a small town, Shivgad, where his daddy is a rich merchant and crime seems to be very low as he keeps paying off every crime anyone does, maybe not the best of crime fighting techniques. Singham also helps out villagers with road side assistance when their carts get stuck in the mud and helps crippled kids win school races (what type of school would put a crippled kid in a race, is a question best not asked), while all the time wearing Aviators and having the cleanest police uniform in the history of Ariel. Before spending the first half of the movie romancing Kaavya (Kaajal Aggarwal known from the bonkers Magadheera making her Hindi Film Debut), he comes face to face with Jaikant Shikre(Prakash Raj), the usual thug/politician villain and part time comedian in a pretty awesomely shot pre-intermission scene in his local village. Not able to take the insult to his ego, Shikre pulls some strings to get Singham transferred to Goa, a city under his thumb. He “tortures” Singham by prank calls and having his henchmen play “doorbell ditch” which forces our eponymous hero to take his shirt off and unleash the lion within him. The Indian Police uniform has lions on it, so there are metaphors on kung fu wires in this movie as much as there are cars and goons flying around.
Although I have laid down the plot in quite a few details, it’s a story we know and can’t be spoilt. This movie in my mind is truly critic proof. You can point out problems with it but at the end of the day it does win you over. You rejoice when the hero thrashes the bad guy and clap when he roars his punchy dialogues against the villain. Taking box office out of the equation, a movie is effective when it succeeds in its intention and Singham truly does that. The best comparison I can make is actually the Transformers ( of which we reviewed part 3 on episode 30 of our podcast) series. Like Michael Bay, Rohit Shetty has an unbelievable eye for action and quite the visual flair but his comedic sensibilities and handling of the romantic track is low brow and juvenile. (And sometimes you do wonder if it’s written by this guy)
Director and longtime collaborator, Rohit Shetty (who also designed most of the action) uses a hell of a lot of wire work in his set pieces and most of it is truly heart pounding but he tends to go overboard quite a few times where cars and people are just flying around with no weight or consequence. There are moments where you just stop caring the third time Bajirao takes off his belt to whip villains. I admit, the first 2 times were awesome, the third even the villain seems bored and just talks through it.
I have never found wire work to be effectively done in Hindi Films ( I hold my heart for RA.One), it works when used as a punch line to action but not when the entirety of the action is built upon it. Unfortnately Rohit Shetty has a propensity for overusing it as demonstrated in pretty much every movie he has ever done as a director (Sunday, All The Best, Golmaal series) there are moments that it feels like a 5 year old bashing action figures against each other. Some scenes are bizarre choices that take you out of the movie especially the night sequences which are shot with green screen and a filter, and everything just seems brightly pastel colored which give the movie a fresh look but for tires my eyes after a while. I do see Rohit turning to 3D, I think he would be very effective. There are some underlying religious and nationalistic themes to the movie too which felt a bit heavy handed. (There’s that Michael Bay comparison again was…). I did really enjoy how hands on Rohit is in designing the action sequences as we see in the post credit sequence and he genuinely seems like a cool guy to hang out with unlike Bay who just seems like an twat.
Performance wise Ajay “Jazz hands” Devgan(I haven’t kept up with the latest version of the spelling of his name using numerology) in the titular role is amazing! One of the most consistent actors in the Hindi film industry (even more so than the Khans) he is back in an action packed role sans 90’s hair but mixed in with the comedic flair he has developed lately mostly by working with Rohit Shetty. The first half of the movie is full of comedy which is completely subjective if it works for you or not. Comedic sidekicks or villagers running away scared by a plastic mask are just not my thing but Ajay even performs well in those scenes. But he really comes into his own facing off with Prakash Raj or bashing goons and even in our screening the audience was close to clapping and whistling.
Kaajal Agarwal has a very perky appearance but unfortunately her character of Kaavya is the most vanilla of Hindi film love interests. She’s the annoying prankster in the first half and the motivator in the second. Even though Kaajal does well, I was groaning every time she would appear in the second half as I just did not want to get back to the corniness of the first. Someone does need to fire the wardrobe department as she’s wearing the same suit in a multitude of colors throughout the movie.
Prakash Raj has been playing the same bad guy in Wanted and Bbhuddah Hoga Tera Baap ( check out our special podcast) but he’s just so good at it, that I just love seeing him on screen. This time he gets a lot more screen time and amazing lines. And the balance he strikes between comedy and straight up menace even overshadows Ajay in some scenes. The Shikre vs Singham dialogue showdowns are truly the best part of the picture and are so well paced from the pre-intermission on wards that you are fully on board with the pace of the movie. Both actors get the chance to get the upper hand in sequences and especially Ajay Devgan is really great in underplaying when he needs to let Prakash’s charisma as a villain shine on screen.
The songs in Singham on the other hand are unforgiveably bad and even are shot uninspiringly.
Although I find the drums in the title song very rhythmic, the song works better as a background score then a fully-fledged play back song . However cool the Jazz hands are, the belt buckle shake from Dabanng trumps it. The other songs are completely forgettable and honestly I have forgotten them already… I just know they had Kaajal Agarwal and Ajay Devgan in them and they were dancing or riding a bike or something else romantic…
All in all Singham is straight up masala flick, nothing meta about it, no subversion of the genre like Dabanng was to certain extent. You need to watch this movie with your heart and whenever your brain starts thinking again, just wrestle it back to the ground or look at the pretty colors and carflipping or munch on some popcorn. Singham succeeds in what it sets out to do and if you want to have a good family friendly time (the action is completely bloodless) and some old school hero-giri, then it’s a total recommend.
Some Further thoughts:
I know Ganesh Acharya is not the most svelte of choreographers, but does he ever invent any dance steps that move more than 1 body part simultaneously?
The whole officer Kadam suicide track which serves as a catalyst just pops up and out when needed and his kid that’s supposed to play “the conscience” of the police force has the most morose face ever. Who in the production team is he related to?
Sonali Kulkarni is a joy to watch on screen and I’m glad to see her again, I can’t believe she is already relegated to aunty roles.
I had some real issues with the climax of the movie. I just don’t agree with police brutality and I feel it felt out of character for a straight laced, honest cop to out and out assassinate the villains. And you could totally flip around the roles and make the cop the villain and the hero the goon taking on a corrupt police force.
This movie is the bizarro version of Ajay Devgan’s “Gangaajal” directed by Prakash Jha, there is even a villain whipping scene which I felt was much more effective than the ones in Singham.
Trailer Analysis: Our good friend Honey who always has all the latest Bollywood the scoops just posted the trailer and posters for Salman Khan‘s next outing The Bodyguard (check out her site for more pictures and goodies!). Written and directed by the director of the original South Indian movie, Siddique, it co-stars Kareena Kapoor and is produced by Atul and Alvira Agnihotri (brother in law and sister of the star actor). So check out the trailer below and some of our thoughts after the jump!
In the words of Janice from Friends(a very popular series in the 90’s-Ed)…”oh, My, GAWD!”, do we have a show and a half for you this week. The Upod tri…erm…pod, was hyperactive like never before; it’s almost easier to tell you about what we didn’t talk about than what we did!
We kick-off with the great and not so good of current TV and movies. Has Ahmed been transformed by the final installment of Michael Bay‘s robotganza, or just bored without la Fox? Green Lantern gets the treatment next and is swiftly followed by Bridesmaids and by Bad Teacher. Cameron (Diaz NOT James) is free to spank me anytime – I’m the naughty pupil that needs teaching. (easy tiger! Ed)
Next up, two of our favourites. Newly Emmy nominated Louis CK and his “let me take you to a dark place and leave you there” humour and comedy GOAT Larry David‘s Curb Your Enthusiasm, season 8 curtain raiser. After 7 seasons, we surely know where the jokes are going to go, but we are still powerless to stop the inevitable hilarious and of course slightly uncomfortable outcome.
We somehow take a pause for breath whilst we look forward to December and review the trailer for MI:4 Ghost Protocol. And that’s not something we thought was possible from a Tom Cruise action film featuring an Eminem theme song.
Finally, we get in the mood for the next big summer blockbuster – and possible saviour of comic book films this year – Captain America. Much as we’d like to have had a world exclusive secret screening, we haven’t and had to content ourselves with Albert Pyun‘s 1990 marvel instead. It’s got Ned Beatty and Ronny Cox in support roles so it has all the potential for an underrated classic. We let you know where to start with the Captain America franchise!
I’ll lay my cards out on the table; I am a sucker for Excel Entertainments cinematic sensibilities (production team of Farhan Akthar and longtime collaborator Ritesh Sidwani). Pretty much every movie they have had their hand in has worked for me (except Karthik calling Karthik) and although I don’t run always run out to the theater to catch them at the day of release, whenever I do discover them, they truly are small gems to me. Zoya Akhtar‘s previous directorial venture “Luck By Chance” was a behind the scene glimpse in the world of the Hindi Film Industry, that sensitively portrayed the challenges of struggling to make your mark in life as in Bollywood and had tons of heart.
Although it didn’t light the box office on fire, it was one of my favorite movies of 2009. A much retweeted pun by comedian Mihir Fadnavis calling Zindagi Na Milegi Dobar, Chutiya nahi banega dobara (in the grand tradition of spoofing Bollywood names. There are quite a few good ones out there especially one for K3KG which I won’t be repeating here, google it) illustrates how the cinematic landscape in the Hindi Film cinema has changed since Excel’s maiden venture “Dil Chahta Hai“, a movie that has been named in the same breath as ZNMD (as well as Hangover and Bucket List) both comparisons that don’t really hold up in anyway. The hindi film geek/cinephile is alive and very vocal, he has seen movies of the past 2 decades and can use copy/paste functions to post the wittiest comments from the message boards of Reddif or the now defunct bastion of hindi film snarkiness Passion For Cinema.
On the one hand Hindi film cinema needs and wants to evolve, but on the other hands gets beaten down at every effort it tries to do so. Recent release Delhi Belly’s was a good example of this even though the movie was hugely successful, it was derided by traditionalists for its obscene use of language and potty humor and simultaneously mocked by film geeks for its inspiration and influence from British gangster flicks.
Like Dil Chahta hai, ZNMD does live within the yuppie world with slim ties and designer thick rimmed glasses (I am wearing mine whilst typing up this review). A perfect example of the new golden, shining India. A world I imagine the Akhtars feel at home. A world where everyone is an architects, poet, artist or financial brokers and lives in sleek monochrome apartments carrying rustic notepads if ever the moleskine stock has run out. Throughout the movie there are poems serving as serving as a leitmotif written by Farhan Akthar himself, if you feel you cannot connect with his poetry, I would suggest you walk out of the theater immediately as you will not connect with the message the filmmakers are trying to convey and you will leave theaters sorely disappointed.
ZNMD is a beautifully composed film that starts off in a fairy tale setting where we see slim tie, thick rimmed glasses wearing architect Kabir (Abhay Deol) proposing to his interior designer girlfriend of 6 months Natasha (Kalki). But before his wedding, he and his bwaoys – Imran (copywriter/poet played by producer, dialogue writer and brother of the director Farhan Akthar) and Arjun (broker, workaholic played by Hrithik Roshan stepping out of a GQ shoot) have to take a Mcguffin of a sport adventure road trip through Spain that will give them life lessons as well as some unbelievably scenic backdrop.
The movie focuses as much as possible on the growth and relationship of these boys becoming men. I have to admit I felt the cast was a bit old too still be unable to figure out simple life lessons which is surprising as the cast of Dil Chahta hai was probably older but I didn’t feel that way. From the offset we see the seeds being sown of the underlying tension between the wise cracking Imran who has some daddy issues and Arjun who only seems to be interested in making a future and not living in the now. Every character is finely sketched and given enough emotional background with the aid of some well-placed flashback sequences. (Hritiks flashback even gets a colored filter)
Surprisingly knowing that the movie is written by women (Zoya Akhtar and Reema Kagti) the female characters get the short shrift, not that women writers should be forced to write only fully developed female characters just because they are women. And even though the ladies in ZNMD are less well sketched out they still have their moments to shine. A good example of this is Kalki’s charater that was it not for the charming sing along in the car ride to the airport would pretty much be a one note jealous “chuddail”(witch) but the actress is so charming in her role that she brings more depth to the performance than is actually written in the screenplay. Katrina Kaif‘s Laila is basically playing the desi version of the manic pixie dream girl who serves to give guidance, life lessons and serve as the romantic counterpoint Arjun but you never quite understand where her cavalier attitude to life comes from or what her background actually is.
Except for the male bonding the true heart of ZNMD for me is the resuscitation of Arjun life and his return to humanity by deep sea diving instructor Laila.
I want to take some time to rave about Katrina Kaif, so you may skip this paragraph if this will annoy you or if you feel that the actress is just a pretty face that still needs to prove her acting prowess although she has done this many time already in my book. Dear God the lady just sparkles on screen. Our friend Filmigirl always speaks about the physicality that Katrina brings to her every role and I strongly believe that no one else could have pulled off the role of a diving instructor as Katrina has. She seems completely at ease underwater and there is no moment you don’t believe she hasn’t been diving, speaking Spanish or riding on Royal Enfields (my all time favorite bike) for years. Her cute accent works perfectly imparting wisdom and some clichéd Carpe Diem moments as well as just riffing and being one of the boys. Every shot she is in, she brings more light to the screen that then Spanish son and the moment she leaves, you can’t wait for her to come back. (Which she does eventually but in a weirdly edited finale)
Beside that together with Hrithik Roshan they probably are the best looking people in India at the moment.
Don't you just hate them for being so pretty?
Both actors have a very similar meticulousness to their performance which works really well and I hope we get to see these two teamed up together soon. He definitely seems to share more chemistry than with Priyanka in Krrissh but knowing Bollywood producers he probably will be teamed up with Priyanka or Deepika sooner that Katrina which is a shame. The whole deep sea dive sequence and quiet walk through the street of Spain sequence are perfectly played and quite touching.
Abhay deol playing the straight man is probably the opposite of these 2 performers and together with Farhan they have a cool, laid back demeanor and approach to acting. Each plays their part excellently although one wonder how much “acting” there is involved for them. And I understand Abhay hesitance to step into mainstream hindi films as he would need to work quite a bit on his singing and dancing, but I guess standing next to Hritik doesn’t do you any favors, but then I think of that scene in Wanted where Salman Khan danced next to Govinda and Prabu Deva… some people are actors and some are stars, but I don’t think Abhay wants to be a star in the conventional sense of the word so I guess it doesn’t matter.
Farhan is pretty much hilarious and had me laughing out loud throughout. But the moment he does need to deliver emotionally he does so with aplomb, like the touching scene with his Spanish Flame where they both communicate without speaking a common language is beautifully touching. He gets to play the clown with the sad eyes and he does so faultlessly.
The soundtrack of Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara is amazing and seeing it in the grandeur of the cinematography of in theaters just makes it perfect, actually I would say that this is a movie that will have a bigger impact on you if you watch it in theaters not only the visuals but also your emotional connection with the movie as you can’t get engaged if you are tweeting at the same time or getting drinks out of the fridge. Both “Senorita” and “Paint It Red” are so much fun to watch and especially as the entire cast seem to be having a blast. Many times you forget if they are actually being choreographed and filmed or just having fun.
All oft eh adventures sports are so exhilarating to watch. The deep sea dive is actually much better than anything shot in Anthony D’Souza’s “Blue” especially as there is emotional pay off that follows. The same goes for the sky jump and the run with the bulls of San Fermin.
All in all there wasn’t a scene in “Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara” that didn’t work for me, and I genuinely cracked up where needed and even got a lump in my throat a few times. I truly loved this movie and cant wait for what Zoya Akhtar will cook up next.
I have some more thoughts for the spoiler section but I am glad there is a place created for movies like ZNMD and it might not be “paisa vasool”/popcorn entertainment but we have enough of those coming soon. It definitely is a high quality cinema and that’s something we should all applaud.
I loved how Farhan underplayed the scene confronting his long lost dad, Naseeruddin Shah (who else could it have been?). It’s not easy playing off such a talented artist but I felt that the moment felt real.
The final shot of the Running with Bulls is perfect end to the movie especially the slow motion finals shots, I was hoping the movie would end even if I knew there were a few unresolved threads. Although some people in the theater seemed quite disappointed. (Don’t you just hate those people that shoot off a condescending comment just at the final shot and take away your chance to feel what you want to feel- unless it’s you that s making the comment, and then it’s hilarious and quite witty). But if you haven’t bought into the movie until then, I can understand you haven’t just be quiet and let others enjoy what they say. I think my tip works, if you haven’t connected with Imran poetic interludes, walk away immediately.
The reappearance of Katrina Kaif seemed a bit random and also anachronistic with the editing but her every scene is so sparkling and it leads to an extra shirtless shot of Hritik so I guess neither man or women should complaining.
The Wedding post credit sequence clearly inspired from a very well known Youtube video was although fun to watch was a bit unnecessary. It doesn’t make sense that all these people are still friends and especially it’s supposed to explain what happened to Kalki and Abhay’s track which is left open but you need you need to watch the end credits with a magnifying glass to figure out what happened. ( Is Natasha going out with one of the dudes from the start of the movie? I didn’t catch that part). I understand director decision to end the movie where she did by focusing on the boys and not the individual relationship, a choice not everyone might agree with. And we got to see Katrina Kaif dance in a white dress which was great. Have you figured out we like her quite a bit?
Here’s the trailer and my favorite track from the OST.
let us know what you thought of Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara on the comment section below!
New to the BBC this summer is a 6 part drama, The Hour, written by Abi Morgan. Set in 1956 on a British topical news programme (think Panorama in a prior incarnation perhaps) at the time of the Suez crisis, The Hour, according to Ben Stephenson (Controller BBC Drama commissioning) aims “to [re-establish] BBC2’s reputation as the home of distinctive, intelligent and ambitious drama”. The BBC press release says that a competitive and sharp-witted love triangle (ouch, I don’t want to be in one of those) will be the lens through which viewers will see the defining events of the decade unfolding. The backdrop to this is a mysterious murder and a controversial and dangerous journalistic investigation.
My only concern is that it will be unfairly labelled the BBC’s Madmen. Whilst I can understand the superficial comparison – set in the 1950s, looks and feels as authentic and stylish (from the trailer at least, see below) – I think this will prove to be unfair. Certainly Abi Morgan has only given viewers 6 episodes and of course the show will not span the decades and detail quite the social changes that take place over the course of Madmen. If anything, the trailer makes me think more of the opening credits to the outrageous cartoon Archer.
I have no idea why the producers of A Bout Portant chose to give this French thriller, directed by Fred Cavaye and starring Giles Lelouche, Gerard Lanvin and Roschdy Zem, the same name as the classic John Boorman– Lee Marvin 1967 film noir but there must be some marketing genius that got a promotion out of it, so who am I to complain about it.
We start off with a very impressive bike crash (the opposite of Meet Joe Black’s car accident) in the tunnels of Paris where a wounded man, bank robber Hugo Sartet (Roschdy Zem), is brought into the ward of Samuel Pierret (Gilles Lelouche) a nurse in training with a lovely 7.5 month pregnant Spanish wife Nadia (played by Elena Anaya known from Sex and Lucia , Mesrine and Van Helsing) . After rescuing the wounded man from an assassination attempt and in the midst of bragging about it in the morning, he is knocked out and his wife is kidnapped. When he wakes up by the sound a ringing cell phone he hears a crying Nadia and a simple message: Bring the man you saved to us and your wife will be returned to you.
From the outset the stakes are set unbelievably high, just having a pregnant women crying in a cold storage room gives viewers the Heebie-jeebies and the movies pace is relentless with some a very cold and realistic cinematography. Although not related but after seeing last year’s “Ne le Dit a Personne” (Tell No One, soon to be remade by Ben Affleck… and there was much rejoicing) these kind of pulpy French thrillers have definitely been on my radar.
Where Gilles Lelouche had a small but pivotal role in “Tell No One” where he was playing a gangster/ hustler, here he plays just an everyman that bleeds, cries and pukes. He really sells you on the sense of desperation straight from the kidnapping scene. It’s the complete opposite of the cell phone scene with Liam Neeson in Taken. Where that scene left the audience fist bumping “Fuck Yeah”, here Gilles really sells us his helplessness but also his resolve to do anything to find his wife.
The performances by all the cast are great and I have to give a special mention to Elena Anaya who just has the cutest accent when speaking French, maybe something non-native speakers won’t catch but I am sure her performance will win you over and feel protective of her.
I am trying to be careful of spoilers but knowing French cinema conventions and general disdain for the police force, you can pretty much figure out the twist and turns but the action is so fast paced that you are fully engaged with the movies. Director Fred Cavayé‘s approach has a good balance of familiar thriller tropes combined with that Gaelic “I don’t know what” and like his previous movie Pour Elle which was remade by Paul Haggis with Russel Crowe and Elizabeth Banks, A Bout Portant is ready to be remade by Hollywood too, I hope it does get a better treatment at the box office then “The Next Three Days” did (as it was a pretty good movie that was completely neglected by general audiences).
Nothing ground breaking but if you are in the mood for a decent thriller you can definitely not go wrong with A Bout Portant.
Here is the trailer:
A Bout Portant is now out on Blu Ray and DVD in France.
The Emmy nominations are about to be announced this thursday and to create some viral buzz here is a hilarious video of last year’s Emmy host, Joel Mchale, loved by Upodcast for his role in one of our favorite shows Community and Melissa Mcarthy, who almost stole the show from Kristen Wiig in Bridesmaids, “training” for this years awards show which I assume Melissa will be presenting after her succes in Bridesmaids.
Tune in for Episode 30 of our Podcast (Posting this week but if you subscribe to Upodcast in iTunes there is no chance you’ll miss it!) to hear our review of Bridesmaids but Melissa does keep surpising us with her abilitiy throwing herself headfirst into any comedic possibilites especially as we only knew her as Sookie from Gilmore Girls before this. (Yes we confortable enough in our masculinity to admit to having seen episodes of Gilmore Girls)
Since we all love trainging montages (with freeze frame ending and all), and both of these performers are wonderful, we thought we coudl post this clip even if have no interest in the Emmy’s whatsoever.(Unless Community wins, then YAY!)
Check out the clip below!
Let us know what your thoughts and if you are tuning into the Emmy’s this year in the comment section .
Organised by Cary Rajinder Sawhney the LIFF aims to showcase Indian films in a different light; those that don’t conform to the traditional Bollywood structures, story and direction.
Festival organiser par excellence
Upodcast, in yet another exclusive spoke to Cary about the LIFF and what we can expect from it in the future. For those who can’t quite get their heads around the all singing all dancing side of Indian cinema, the good news is that there is a great outlet for something new and challenging and it will only get bigger and more accessible.
With the current glut of American TV shows that continue to dominate the comedy / drama landscape, both in the US and here in the UK, it is sometimes easy to forget that there are high quality alternatives out there. As Upodcasting has mentioned, nay fawned over, in the past, the possible highlight of this last year was the BBC re-working / re-boot of Sherlock Holmes, with Martin Freeman and Benedict Cumberbatch. One of the few occasions when I genuinely decried the shorter TV seasons that we enjoy in the UK. New to the BBC this spring, was The Shadow Line. Not something that could ever spill over into multiple seasons like for example The Sopranos or as “light” as Sherlock Holmes, The Shadow Line is a self-contained one-off series, albeit with more than three episodes.
The Shadow Line written by Hugo Blick, tells the story of a murdered drug-lord investigated by from the side of the criminal underworld and the police. The show caught my attention initially due to Christopher Ecclestone’s presence. Here he plays Joseph Bede, a reluctant drug-lord-cum-straight businessman, forced into the drug dealing driving seat following the death of his previous “employer” Harvey Wratten. With a lot of angst we see Bede plan his strategy of one big deal and then exit, in order to pay for the care for his wife who is suffering from Alzheimer’s. Second in the list of notable performances goes to Chiwetel Ejiofor, as DI Jonah Gabriel. Rather than simply give the audience a cliched “copper with questionable morals” the writers create a character who is “copper with a bullet in his head and amnesia”. I found this twist hugely interesting and gave a lot of freedom to question the character’s motivations and potentially his morals.
The highlight in terms of charcaters for me however, is Gatehouse, peerlessly played by Stephen Rae. I shan’t reveal too much about Gatehouse for fear of spoiling things, but there is more than sufficient menace and threat to sustain you over the 7 episodes. Also watch out for a superb scene in the clock shop, where he and Glickman come face to face; top notch stuff from Rae and Anthony Sher.
If you enjoy police dramas but want a break from the tried and tested proceedural formula, you can do far far worse than give this a look. There is a high quality feel throughout, coming from the strong writing and acting. I felt the atmosphere, created by washed-out colours and bleak, empty spaces (be they urban or otherwise) was very effective: although following a trend from the Swedish Wallander shows (both UK and Swedish versions) it complemented both the writing and storyline.
The show seemed to divide both critics and viewers when broadcast. The watching public started at 3m viewers becoming 2m after 1 episode and then to a hardcore of 1.3m thereafter. And critically there seemed to be much division, derision and worship in equal measure. Some hailing the fact the Beeb had wanted to show something as complex, stylish and occasionally baffling; and some who wanted to bash the script, the “extended metaphors” and the attempt to break from the usual in-house, comfy feel of BBC drama. Frankly I’m pleased it was made and glad I loyally watched each episode, even if the ending pissed me off slightly. That still doesn’t detract from seeing a fine performance from an ensemble cast and having to actually think about a plot for 7 weeks. It may be that the British public have lost their taste for adventurous, thought provoking TV drama and perhaps I am in that 1.3 million minority; but I’m better off for being so and so should you be too.
Out this week via BBC/2entertain for £15 and I would personally give this 3 1/2 stars as opposed to the 3 stars that a freebie daily newspaper in London gave it.
Delhi Belly is already a huge box office and critical success, but Martin had the chance to attend the world premiere at the London Indian Film Festival and chat with director, Abhinay Deo‘s. In true Upodcast style we manage to ask the film maker about his cinematic influences (some surprising, some less so), the advantages of approaching Hindi movies from an advertising background and all this will the place was buzzing with the appearance of the London glitterati.
We have the inside track and as we were granted special access to the director for a quick interview. Listen below to our exclusive!
The Trailer for John Abraham cop drama Force has just been
released. Like Wanted last year and Singham releasing very soon, this is a remake
of a South Indian movie (Kaakha Kaakha). A couple of years before either of
these movies, Ghajini was remade by Amir Khan starting the trend of remaking
South Indian movies to a Hindi Film audiences and to mythical box office success.
Both Ghajini and Khakha Khakha originally starred south superstar Surya, a very
accomplished performer from everything I have seen of his, which admittedly isn’t
much due to the unavailability of South Indian DVD’s with decent English
subtitles (sort it out Tollywood if you want to compete with your Northern
brethren!) Now the question is why just importing Surya to Bollywood? He
managed a pretty menacing performance in Ram Gopal Varma‘s Rakht Charitra – 2 even
overshadowing Vivek Oberoi in some sequences.
If there is a language barrier (although I find the accent
charming) it’s nothing that a language coach can’t solve and it’s certainly
better than spending months with personal trainers and nutritionist to reach
the impressive physiques that seem to be a requirement to take on these role in
Here’s the trailer: *Update this is a new trailer*
John Abraham’s dedication can’t be put into question
(especially as he had gained weight for his previous role making the Photoshop
laden poster above even more impressive) he doesn’t have a huge fan following to speak of (none that I
can imagine lining up for an action movie) and I would argue Surya would be
able to bring in more people just from the South. I also wonder about John’s ability
to pull off a macho role like this…he just misses that masculine growl in the
few dialogues in the trailer.
Also I’m pretty sure he lotions up with Aloe Vera as soon as
he steps out of that pensive shower and books in a nail appointment.
Force releases in rumored for a releasing on September 16,
Do you think this will be John Abraham’s breakout role? Let us
know in the comment Section below
We kneel before the Emperor of Bollywood this week. In this “Bbuddah
Hoga Terra Baap” Podcast episode, we are joined by Burlesque and Movie Club
Host Bastard Keith and friend of Upodcast and regular guest Danny Bowes writer
for Tor and MoviesByBowes, we dissect the awesomeness that is Amitabh Bachchan
with the release of his latest masala reboot. Listen or download to the podcast
below! Read More
Cartoon Network’s reboot of the 80’s animated Show
Thundercats is ready to air on TV in the next few months. And a new trailer and
some footage of how the show looks like have just been released on YouTube.
Check out both clips after the jump! Read More
Delhi Belly is the long in the making black comedy produced
by the illustrious Amir Khan Productions, a banner that is constantly on the
threshold of that very coveted first potential Indian cross-over that gives Hindi
cinema the acceptance and credibility by International audiences that it almost
tasted with the 2001 Oscar nomination of Amir Khan’s very own period cricket
saga Lagaan (and then Danny Boyle took away it’s thunder with Slumdog
Millionaire). Former Ad maker Abhinay Deo‘s shows a hell of a lot of visual
flair, as he did in his previous release Game (a slick who-dunnit that Upodcast
enjoyed but was universally panned by critics and rejected by the box office),
taking us on a wild and thoroughly unhygienic ride through the mean street of
Delhi via diamond scams, dubious broast chicken, orange juice lota’s and halfhearted
cunnilingus interrupted by a Paris Hilton style inability to switch off the
The story of Delhi Belly is off three ironic T-shirt wearing
slacker types (Imran Khan- Tashi the jounalist, Vir Das– Arup the cartoonist
and Kunal Roy Kapoor- Nitin the perverted photographer) who live together in a
dirty ass apartment with bad plumbing, noisy classical-dancing (I won’t try to
guess if it’s Khatak or something else, just take it from me it’s classical as
the teacher is kinda effeminate) upstairs neighbors and a meek prostitute
visiting landlord. Tashi’s airhostess girlfriend played by Shehnaz Treasurywala
(a pleasant appearance after a very long hiatus- I didn’t bother with Himesh
Reshammiya ‘s Radio) asks him to deliver a package, containing a Russian doll
with diamonds, for some shady Russian types. Through a series of confusions, as
is the case with such crime capers, the packet gets exchanged with Kunal Roy
Kapur’s stool sample that’s off to the doctors lab as after he’s eating some
very dubious looking chicken and is suffering from the titular “Delhi Belly”. The
delivery was expected by wise cracking foulmouthed and pretty menacing Vijay
Raaz playing the crime boss. After a firecracker sodomy torture scene (reminiscent
of Dum Maaro Dum’s chili pepper pistol scene) the pressure is on our reluctant
heroes to retrieve the diamonds. There is a lot of running around, quippy
dialogue, snappy editing, a blaring background score, taking you on a wild journey
that all ties up at the end.
The problem is that the ride takes a pretty long time to get
going and before it does Delhi Belly tries so hard distancing itself from the
usual Bollywood tropes and clichés that it starts to revel in its own ugliness,
demanding a lot of audience. We see butt cracks, diarrhea spread out over
velvet and a cacophony of poop noises that after a while just ends up being
stomach churning. The comedic beats in the first half are very erratic relying
heavily in the ability of the scriptwriters to pack as many swear words as
possible. And boy there are a lot of swear words and although the movie is
mostly English spoken, it’s the Hindi dialogues that really work especially
when delivered by Vir Das or Vijay Raaz. The English ones just don’t seem to
sound right. Maybe not all the cast is used to delivering English dialogues and
sometimes the cadence is just a bit off making it lack verbal panache. But
Delhi Belly kicks and screams like a petulant child trying to break free by the
shackles of its expectations and even though it stumbles along the way to before
finding its footing in the second half, the overall the product is very
Arup’s romantic and professional woes really slow down the
first half of the movie and serve no real purpose to the overall story line.
They also seem to pop and drop randomly. The banana joke, Ja Chudail and Disco
Fighter are funny as hell though helped by Vir’s comedic timing( probably honed
by his years of Stand up Comedy), the girlfriend break up scenes were unnecessary
except to make him get rid of that terrible haircut which we can all applaud. It
also further feeds into Bollywood’s newfound Elvis Jumpsuit obsession.
Kunal Roy is hilarious as the perverted and easy going
photographer playing the equivalent of the Zach Galafanakis role from the
Hangover, Melissa McCarthy in the recent Bridemaids or even taking us all the
way back to Jim Belushi in Animal Farm. In other words he’s playing the
overweight comedic catalyst to the plot. He does have a moment of emotional
redemption at the end which is sweetly played. In my mind he’s a performer than
his younger brother Aditya Roy Kapoor and has much better hair.
Imran’s Tashi as the lead is a tough call, clearly still
very fresh as a performer when this was shot (and you can see it in quite a few
sequences although Imran disagrees when we spoke during our Podcast). Dellhi Belly
is supposed to be Tashi’s hero’s journey but you don’t really understand the romantic
malaise he feels with his fiancée Shehnaz Treasurywala nor do you really root
for his no-nonsense chemistry with Poorna Jagannathan (making her debut in
Bollywood). Somewhere you want him to stand up and just become a man but at the
point it happens you’ve stopped caring for any of his three story treads. Maybe
it’s just the remnant of Wake Up Sid/Break
ke Baad slacker types from a couple of
years ago that just don’t want to take a stand in life until the climax of the
movie and audiences (and me!) have gotten annoyed with and latched on to more
testosterone driven masala hero roles like Wanted, Dabanng, Dum Maaro Dum and
soon Singham; But the guy definetly deserves respect for taking such bold choices at the start of his career. Clearly although he has found box office acceptance in romantic roles but the actor in him does want to experiment and do something different which is something that needs to be applauded and in my book puts him above the cookie cutter roles that his competitors take on.
As soon as the gangsters come into the fold, and this
happens quite quickly, the movie finally really picks up the pace and Delhi Belly
starts delivering consistent laughs. The visual style and the awesome
soundtrack that has been rocking my iPod since the first teaser trailer starts
kicking in and as an audience member (and I feel the movie makers) have a
better sense of where we’re going. A lot of Hindi movie fans have an
uncomfortable position towards the Danny Boyle Feel Good Oscar monger of 2008 Slumdog
Millionaire, feeling a lack of ownership towards but it being billboard or
entry point for “outsiders”. (If I only had a nickel for everyone that’s told
me they loved Slumdog Millionaire when conversations veer towards Bollywood). Delhi
Belly tries to cater to the same Metroplex/ International film smug geek audience
but instead of subverting Bollywood tropes as Slumdog Millionaire did it does
so with Danny Boyle’s own Trainspotting mixed with a heavy dose of Tarantino
and Guy Ritchie. A tactic that might backfire as this is exactly the audience
that is very familiar of this type of storytelling and doesn’t mind spouting
their half assed “IT’S A COPY, YAAR”-comments on every possible social media. A
point very eloquently written up on Rajasen Blog which you should definitely read
if you are one of those guys.
Releasing on the same day in India as Amitabh Bachchan’s
return to his angry young man template created in the 70’s gotten in Buddha
Tera Baap, a movie probably ingrained in Bollywood conventions and meta-references.
And although these movies have nothing to do with each other (except releasing on
the same day) and cater to completely different audiences, people will be
caught up in pitching box office returns against each other. Delhi Belly carves
its own path making no qualms of its influences i.e. Snatch and Lock, Stock and
Two Smoking barrels but to me it’s closer to 2002 Brazilian “Cidade de Deus” (City
of Gods) where director Fernando Mireilles managed to transport the Brit
Gangster/Tarantino tropes to the Favelas of Brazil. Delhi Belly does the same
and it does it quite successfully rising above its influences and adding that
desi tharka (seasoning) that adds all the flavor to Indian homegrown dishes but
comes with the risk of giving us the runs.
Sometimes Bollywwod needs a kick in the nuts or in this case a firecrackers up it’s ass! Delhi belly is just that wake up call!
Other Things I really liked
Shehnaz Treasury (wala) looked great shitting, bleeding
out of her nose, almost sexually climaxing and slapping Tashi (not all in the same scene)
Amir Khan’s, Austin Powers-hair wig wearing
Disco Fighter promo that’s on the air now really worked for me. What can I say;
the man can do no wrong in my book!
The soundtrack composed by Ram Sampath is
amazing. Definitely a music director to look out for after Amit Trivedi (Dev D,
The Cinematography is lucious even surrounded by all the murkiness
Vijay Raaz is a great desi Bricktop!
Some side thoughts:
Check out our interview with Delhi belly’s star
Imran Khan by clicking here!
The Adult certificate and the production teams
numerous warning should really be taken to heart. Don’t take your mommy and
daddy to this unless you guys are cool.
What’s up with all the curly hairdos? (Poorna
Is it wrong to think that chicken that causes
all the problems did look delicious? I grabbed a KFC after the screening and
felt something was definitely missing.
Here’s the trailer:
Let us know what you thought of Delhi
Belly and our review in the comment section below!