Nargis Fakhri

Kick Review and Bollywood Catch Up Upodcast

Our good friend FilmiGirl was nice enough to join us this episode and we had a VERY long but long overdue chat about tons of topics any Bollywood afficionado would be interested in.

We start with a rundown of this year’s releases and we give Filmigirl a ton of homework to catch up on since she is back from hiatus. Then we look towards the rest of the 2014 release calendar and the movies that are looking interesting and 3 that we agree on look terrible (funily for different reasons)- Can you guess which ones they are?

We wrap things up with a main review of Salman Khan’s Eid release Kick which is probably going to be one of the biggest BO earners every *until that records get shattered as Asim‘s predicts maybe even this year.

As usual we go off on many a tangent, but I guess that’s the reason you guys listen to us!

Let us know what you thought of this Upodcast Episode by streaming/downloading it below.

Or you can subscribe to us in iTunes in the links below and never miss a beat!

Madras Cafe Review

Director Shoojit Sircar’s latest – Madras Cafe, sees him teaming up again with actor/producer John Abraham after the successful Vicky Donor to bring a different story to life. This time, John takes matters in his own hands, as he takes centre-stage as the big and brawny Indian Army Officer Vikram Singh, who is dropped in the middle of a country in civil war. Set mostly in India and Sri Lanka, Madras Cafe depicts the tale of 25+ years of the Sri Lankan Civil War, which eventually resulted in the assassination of one of India’s ex-Prime Minister.

The events in the story demand the plot to be taken seriously, and Madras Cafe wants to be a lot of things. From a political espionage thriller, to a war drama, to even a conspiracy theory about the dealers of war, Madras Cafe does not shy away from the grim side of politics and war. It does not necessarily take any sides, or show a blatant support to anyone. The one opinion it projects however, is how humanity is completely destroyed when the wrath of war strikes.

With cinematographer Kamaljeet Negi’s lens sweeping the tropical landscapes of Sri Lanka and the Southern coast of India, Sircar expertly captures the ugliness of how a nation gets torn into pieces when its people go to war. Enter our hero Vikram, who is on a mission to “conspire” peace by dealing with the ones who are the centre of it. Turns out, things are more convoluted than it seems, and caught in the action are not only the neighbouring countries, but a hell lot more. With so many dramatic elements playing, Madras Cafe does get a bit confusing at times.

And yet, it somehow feels a bit inadequate in its storytelling.  The scenes where RAW officers are in a cabinet meeting, making the calls on what would happen on the field is reminiscent to many political thrillers. And yet, it lacks that extra oomph that would grip us. It often feels like the dialogues by Juhi Chaturvedi were instead written by an intern who was provided with an outline of the scene, and just wrote the first thing that came into their heads. It is blatantly obvious at times, sometimes obvious enough to make you cringe.

It is unfortunate to see a brilliant supporting cast such as Siddharth Basu, Piyush Pandey, and the Bongs from Vicky Donor to be undermined by these badly written lines. Having said that, Siddharth Basu does seem effortlessly natural in his role as the head of RAW. Thankfully, there  is no sexual tension explored between John Abraham and Nargis Fakhri’s character, however it did come a bit close. Fakhri is not as annoying here as she was in Rockstar, however her character makes me confused. Why would a war reporter (apparently intelligent and pretty attractive) go in a jungle full of sexually starved men, dressed like she was? All for the job eh!

Madras Cafe also sees the debut of News Reporter Debang as a “khabri”, and one can only laugh when he says with a deadpan face – “Ye meeting kabhi nahi hui”  (This meeting never happened).

For those who expected this to be a John Abraham version of Ek Tha Tiger, they would be utterly disappointed. Because our hero is a mere mortal, and not a Sunny Deol, who’d gatecrash the Jaffna border, and win the island back with a handpump in one hand, and a baby in the other. Abraham’s Vikram Singh is a helpless protagonist who is compromised by moles in the organisation, kidnapped, beaten, and who eventually ends up as a drunkard in Kasauli. If you are not ready for your hero to be that, you should rather catch the Chennai Express. John does seem to play his part well, and I think it is all down to a director like Sircar to cut down the theatrics and treat the story as how it should be. However, I do have a problem with the lead guy being treated as one, when it comes to fashion. There are several moments where it does look like a snippet from a shirt advert.

In conclusion, all I would like to add is that Madras Cafe is an earnest effort at telling the tale of the Srilankan civil war and its aftermath. However, it does fall short as a captivating movie, and it is entirely the writer’s fault. There are scenes which you can predict coming from a mile, and for a thriller, that just should not be. With scenes involving hacking code that will make you giggle more than having a “Whoa” moment, Madras Cafe could have been so much more. Instead, it is a fairly simplified version of one of the many espionage conspiracy political thrillers that we have seen.

Rating: A disappointing 2.75 stars out of 5.

Find more of Sujoy’s work on : OneKnightStands | Bollypop | @9E3K

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Madras Cafe New Images and Video’s

Whatever we’ve seen of Madras Cafe until now has been quite intriguing, it might be because John Abraham makes a savvier producer than leading man and because casting Nargis Fakri as a foreign war correspondent might actually work.

We received some new images and plot synopsis, which explains a bit as the movie itself was shrouded in mystery.

 

The political action thriller is set against the backdrop of the tumultuous and controversial Sri Lankan civil war of the 1990s. The film stars John Abraham as an Indian Army Intelligence Agent sent to Sri Lanka to break a resolute rebel group.  Once there, he meets a charismatic female journalist, played by Nargis Fakhri who is determined to uncover the truth about the civil war. Together the pair uncover a deeper, sinister conspiracy by a faceless enemy.

Madras Café releases nationwide on 23rd August 2013.

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Madras Cafe Trailer Breakdown

During Part 2 of Our Bollywood catch up Upodcast ft FilmiGirl and Getfilmy (click here if you haven’t listened to it yet), I accidentally mentioned Madras Cafe as one of the movies I was looking forward to. Luckily enough my co-host corrected me that I had in fact confused Shoojit Sircar (Vicky Donor) for Shimit Amin (director of Chak De India) and that Vicky Donor was one of my most hated movies of the year.

But looking at the trailer for Madras Cafe it looks like this definitely has the potential to be something to look forward to.

John Abraham’s production company is teaming up again with Shoojit after the massively successful Vicky Donor to bring audiences, what looks like a Military/Spy Thriller shrouded in mystery looking at the set up of the facebook page and website of the movie.

Johnny BamBam might be a producer than actor (even though this must be the best phase he has ever been). Casting Nargis Fakhri might be a risk but unlike most people I felt her appearance wasn’t grating in Rockstar. The poor girl had to bear the brunt of an overzealous producer and actor who after hyping her, dumped her pretty bad. It’s never a good idea to dub voices and Nargis’ voice and the disconnect with her mediocre acting ability was something that should have never passed the rushes by Imtiaz Ali. She was fine as the girl you fall in love with in high school but playing a globetrotting journalist might be something more up her alley, if those horrible interviews of her in glamour magazines are to be believed.

I despised Vicky Donor much more than Nargis Fakhri’s performance in Rockstar but Madras Cafe looks like it’s much more dynamic and engrossing as a movie. The genre classically doesn’t do too well in Hindi Films but maybe Abraham and Shoojit have honed into an angle we haven’t seen yet.

Here is the trailer for Madras Cafe and the poster. (the Trailer is from Yahoo! India which has a very annoying Vicky Donor Style ad inserted, I wonder it’s an annoying meta tie in)

 

Madras Cafe Releases in August, Let us know what you think of the trailer in the comment section below!

@asimburney

 

 

 

 

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Rockstar Review

Coming to the close of a huge year in Box Office but maybe not in complete tune with my personal sensibilities I was pretty much sold on Rockstar from the outset just because of 2 names: Imtiaz Ali and AR Rahman. Imtiaz Ali has been quietly making romantic movies in a very fresh manner. When the trailer and especially Kun Faya Kun video was released I knew this would be hitting all my sweet spots.

A bittersweet love story (which I am going to talk about below in the spoiler section) set against the backdrop of the birth of a fictional Rockstar, from gangly Steve Urkel look-a-like Janardhan Jakhar to trendy bohemian bourgeois shalwar/pant-wearing stadium rocker. Although Rock On was a success and a movie I totally loved, London Dreams left such a skid mark in my cinematic briefs even if it starred one of my favorite actors that I was weary of Hindi Films taking on Rock again. (Ranbir prancing around with a guitar during the press tour really didn’t help either)

I was happy to see that there was less rock than the title suggests but the amount there is, is unfortunately not well handled. For anyone that has had the soundtrack on repeat (like me) would know that there really is only one song that could maybe be qualified as rock (although people that like to wear black T-shirts probably don’t agree with either) but it does bring us to the second element of the movie that had me sold and that is of musical wunderkind AR Rahman. Every soundtrack that the guy has ever produced is like crack to me. If I don’t get some new music at regular intervals I started hanging out with Bubbles in Hamsterdam or trying to steal some copper wire.

The movie is told in a nonlinear timeline starting with the final concert in Rome, flashing back to a young Jordan. This is quite refreshing although not unique for a Hindi film, it did however create quite a bit of confusion for the samosa auntie collective around me in the theater. Some of the emotional beats suffer a bit due the timeline but the movie weaves such a magic that it sticks so close to your heart that you yearn to revisit it as soon as you step out of the darkness of the cinema.

Rockstar is many things, but first and foremost it’s a musical epic composed around the soundtrack of Rahman.  Rockstar would not be possible without the sounds that have been on repeat on my iPod since the soundtrack was released a couple of months ago. From the chant-along stadium anthem Saada Haq, the hypnotism of the sufi inspired Kun Faaya Kun to the fun loving Katiya Karoon, there hasn’t been an album like this all year and truly only someone like AR Rahman’s midas touch could craft something that accompanied with the beautiful cinematography of Anil Mehta takes us to the soaring highs that we see Jordan gaze upon many times throughout the movie. A very smart move was to have one playback singer take on all of the songs that Jordan sings; it just creates more cohesion between Ranbir and Jordan which makes the character just that tad bit believable. And another thing I loved about the songs… there were no damn techno remixes of them on the album, thank Rahman.

Rockstar is a powerhouse performance by Ranbir Kapoor, although the young actor has been known to have the luxury to experiment unlike his contemporaries, he has an innate and effortless talent that can’t be denied.  We have seen him as a slacker in Wake Up Sid, a college graduate transformed into a political strategist in Raajneeti but the performance here is just something different. Although Jordan is pretty much a petulant man child (isn’t that what Rockstar are supposed to be?) Ranbir makes you feel his anger, his frustration, his ambition and his love for Heer.

Played by newcomer and former Whose Americas Top Model ( I dont know the exact name of that show) contestant Nargis Fakhri, the character of Heer teeters on the manic pixie dream girl, a character template coined by film Critic Nathan Rabin.  Man-children protagonists usually fall in love with MPDG but Heer is more of a driver of the relationship than the label usually offers us. The decision to dub Nargis’ voice creates a disconnect doesn’t help making the performance more stilted, a decision I never understand but then again I am a sucker for all types of accents.  And who knows if it’s something that even Rani Mukherjee and Katrina Kaif struggled with at the start of their careers maybe we can see more of Nargis soon, I definitely wouldn’t mind seeing more of her. (I totally also dig that little scar she has under her nose)

And maybe Heer is a MPDG in the way Paro was in Devdas or Kiran was in Darr but Nargis’ fresh appearance is so charming that you just want to chill out with her and have fun like Janardhan does before he becomes Jordan.

Her backstory is treated with nuance and hints (her marriage and her decisions in Prague) which are very subtle but make us understand why we as audience members fall in love with her. She is clearly playing that girl in high school that every guy has met, the one every guy and approximately 10-15% of girls are crazy about in college, that teenagers dream about after class and since she is engaged to be married that just adds to her allure.

Rockstar is a passionate love story of the kind we haven’t seen in a while and earlier this year Mausam probably tried to deliver. Director Imtiaz Ali has steadily worked throughout his previous movies trying to understand the foibles of young love within the conventions of Bollywood. Some might say he is getting stuck in the same mold but he manages to do so by giving us a new perspective on stories we know and some of us love. This is the case with Rockstar too, we know where the story will take us and where it will end but the ride is just so fresh that you forgive most of the faults.

There are some issues with the movie though, the second half of the movie starts dragging and the writing of the characters becomes a bit unbelievable especially in the female characters, like Heer’s sister, her sister in law and mother. ? Maybe the writer in Imtiaz Ali is only able to handle one female character to halfbakedly flesh out?

I also would have liked to see more of the journey of Jordan, suddenly he seems to be rocking stadiums and kicking journalists and we never have a sense on how that is justified. It would have been great to see him struggle more with the music industry (which we hear clearly in Sheher Mein on the soundtrack than in the movie itself). It reminded me of those scenes in 8 Mile where we see Eminem writing lyrics on the palm of his hand as he’s just working on this music all the time. This sense of creativity was lacking in Jordan. But this is probably due to the decision to focus on the love story.

Most of all Rockstar is a movie of achieving all your dreams but the price it comes at can be very high.

Spoiler Section: (if you want a non spoiler- non desi review, you should check out the review I did for HeyUGuys posting very soon)

  • What a wonderful strategy to release the music much earlier. We all know AR Rahman’s soundtracks are slow poison so it was great let us get used to the songs so we are singing along oh yay a with Jordan during Jo Bhi Main.
  • Mohit Chauhan, the main playback singer and Irshad Kamil, the lyricist are together with Rahman an amazing combination. Sheer poetry together with an amazing voice, it leaves me speechless at every listen. I love this soundtrack especially in a horrible year for music in Hindi films.
  • I have been trying to avoid as much as possible but Rockstar is a TRAGIC love story, meaning someone dies but love never does.  I think the way Hindi Films just go all out and wallow in the tragedy and melodrama of love is the reason I adore our good ole Bollywood. We’ve had our masala and will probably have more looking at the roster of releases for the next year but Rockstar reminded me in parts of some of my favorite movies like Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam.
  • Where can we order those pants Ranbir is wearing? They seems very conforable to lounge in but debonair enough to go out and get some milk on a sunday from he corner shop.
  • Also is Shehnaz Patel getting typecast taking care of bed ridden characters after Guzaarish?
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