Yash Raj Films

Sultan’s teaser doesn’t reveal much….

A very short teaser released for Sultan, Salman Khan’s 2nd collaboration with YRF after the massive success of Ek Tha Tiger. Although we’re no fans of such short teasers or motion posters but we’re always willing to make an exception for Sallu Bhai.

What is interesting is how Sultan’s been announced to release at a date that was already booked for Raees starring YRF (former) blue eyed man-boy SRK. YRF has moved away from the grand romantic movies that made SRK the star he is today so it’s quite surprising they would pull such a move. Although YRF is known for being quite aggressive with when it comes to locking in cinema screens as they did when Jab Tak Hai Jaan released and completely destroyed any chances of Ajay Devgn’s Son of Sardaar working.

Both films are still in the near future so things might change but at the moment, we seem to be heading for a clash.

Produced by Aditya Chopra and written-directed by Ali Abbas Zafar, the film will commence shooting in November and will release in Eid 2016.

 

Mardaani Trailer Breakdown: Rani is a bad ass!

Mardaani has been under the radar for a while now but I had assumed wrongly that it was going to be a female version of a Southploitation movie along the lines of a Rowdy Rathore but with Rani Mukherjee instead of any cash hungry male actor. Which didn’t really excite me as they tried doing that with Gulaab Gang to a certain extent and failed miserably.

The first look poster released back in May was pretty terrrible (as with most YRF releases)  and made me think they had roped in Ram Gopal Varma to direct a female Sarkar.

But boy, does this first trailer prove me wrong on all accounts (a feeling i love when a movie manages to do so)

Mardaani’s trailer is a tough watch which makes me wonder if the audience will be clamoring to watch a movie about such a horific subject as Child Trafficking but when making a movie like this, that might be besides the point especially as YRF has been doing a lot of brand diversification with collaborating with more Indie film directors.

Pradeep Sarkar had previously made Laga Chunariya Me Daag which dealt with prostitution and also starred Rani but that movie failed and was part of the old YRF glossy cinema where as Mardaani seems much grittier.

I love seeing Rani be a bad ass again after No One Killed Jessica and they again manage to put in a few scenes of Rani cussing out men, and then even elbowing their faces in which is all kinds of awesome. It’s really good to see a female actor do some push ups and quite realistic action instead of the kung fu wire crap they pulled off in Gulaab Gang, Dus and Chandni Chowk To China.

We love Rani here at Upodcast (As you can hear us gush when speaking to her for Talaash) and hope the movie is hardhitting but made sensitively enough, maybe softening up the next trailer might help in not scaring away some of audience members as some of the shots of girls being stripped are truly gruesome to watch.

Release Date: 22 August 2014
Starring: Rani Mukerji
Directed by: Pradeep Sarkar
Produced by: Aditya Chopra

Shuddh Desi Romance Digital Poster

Director of the run away hit Band Baaja Baraat,  Maneesh Sharma is back, this time teaming up Sushant Singh Rajput (Kai Po Che) with Parineeti Chopra (Ladies vs Ricky Bahl and Ishaqzaade) and newcomer Vaani Kapoor.

Yash Raj have released a digital poster and a very rustic looking one.

Although he got rave reviews for Kai Po Che, Sushant Singh just has a bit too much of Vivek Oberoi’s doucheyness for me to fully like him. Parineeti is awesome though and I can’t wait to see what she will be up to when her 3 deal contract with YRF is over.

I think like their predecessors Ranveer Singh and Anushkha the bigger and interesting works comes after the contract is done.

We don’t get to see much of what the movie will be about but here is some info in any case from the YRF website:

 

From the director of Band Baaja Baaraat and the writer of Chak De! India, comes a fresh and very real love story about the hair-raising minefield between love, attraction and commitment — SHUDDH DESI ROMANCE — finally, a romantic comedy that tells it like it is.

Starring in this classy, candid look at the affairs of the heart in today’s desi heartland are the endearing Rishi Kapoor, exceptionally talented Sushant Singh Rajput, and the versatile Parineeti Chopra, along with debutant Vaani Kapoor.

SHUDDH DESI ROMANCE is directed by Maneesh Sharma, written by Jaideep Sahni, and produced by Aditya Chopra.

ADDITIONAL CREDITS:
MUSIC: Sachin-Jigar
LYRICS: Jaideep Sahni
DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY: Manu Anand
EXECUTIVE PRODUCER: Aashish Singh
EDITOR: Namrata Rao
PRODUCTION DESIGNER: T.P. Abid
COSTUME DESIGNERS: Varsha-Shilpa
SOUND: Pritam Das
CHOREOGRAPHER: Brinda
LINE PRODUCER: Yogendra Mogre
CASTING DIRECTOR: Shanoo Sharma

The film releases worldwide on 13th September 2013.

 @asimburney

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Ek Tha Tiger Review

Yash Raj Films (YRF) and Salman Khan finally come together for the first time under the direction of Kabir Khan to bring us the story of what happens when a RAW Agent called Tiger starts using his “heart” when he has been trained to use his “head”. As usual with our reviews we have a separate spoiler section below so does this Tiger miaow or roaarrr, find out below!

 

Bollywood has been going spy crazy lately, starting with Don 2 (although that wasn’t really a spy movie but it ripped off many ideas from it) followed by Agent Vinod and a medium budget heroine driven movie (that I won’t be mentioning by name as it would spoil a big reveal), now comes Ek Tha Tiger (ETT), which from the first teaser trailer got catapulted to our “most looked forward”-movies of 2012.

ETT succeeds where the likes of Agent Vinod failed, is it delivers a movie that works within Bollywood conventions (sometimes to it’s detriment) and by not having it’s head up it’s own ass. This is big budget, big screen movie making, people. Where every shot looks pristine like it’s been scrubbed with Dettol, all the way from the locations to the actor’s faces. The dancers dance in sync, the fights are epic and in YRF tradition, we travel around the world without giving ourselves a Turkish makeover.

 

There are moments that feel like a compromise made by either the director Kabir Khan (who has a background in documentary film making and almost makes us sense his distain for selling out), star Salman Khan (who does not want to unleash the success he has tasted in recent years from his jaws like he lost a bet to one of the other Khan’s (and production house Yash Raj Films (who just can’t seem to find a consistency in it’s success ratio) so is trying out everything they can, even working with a star that they had until now not considered YRF material and one that they clearly can not control in any way possible.

 

The movie is segmented in very clearly delineated chapters in the screenplay, each with a different mood, location and wardrobes that sometimes gel together and sometimes don’t.

We start of, in the greatest of James Bond tradition, with action packed prologue set in Northern Iraq, where Tiger needs to deal with a double agent who has been selling RAW secrets to the ISI but essentially this is just a teaser to the bad ass-dom of the central character and has no further baring to the rest of the plot, but it is some serious butt-kickery on a level we haven’t seen in Bollywood.

 

The movie really gets going when Tiger is then sent to Dublin (after cooking some daal for his boss and having a few drinks with him) and needs to shadow a nuclear scientist by posing as a writer where he meets and eventually falling in love with charming Zoya, part time dancer and part time caretaker of the professor.

 

The Dublin storyline is just the mcguffin to set up the romance in Ek Tha Tiger, playing off their real life chemistry between with Salman and Katrina which up until now hadn’t been harnessed on the big screen yet (neither in Maine Pyaar Kyun Kiya which was almost Katrina’s debut and neither Yuvraaj as Subhash Ghai lost his ability to make coherent movies back in the 80’s).

 

The back and forth dialogue feels so natural between both that you start wondering wonder how much was ad-libbed, references to Katrina’s pronunciation of the letter “dh” and her rabbit teeth seem to be very “Salman”.

 

What I really appreciated is that we go to see the sweet and charming Salman Khan again as we have to be honest that in Dabanng, Wanted and Ready he was playing kind of an a*hole. Salman seems to be having fun interacting with the local extras in every city he is in, from the hotel reception clerks in Dublin to the kids and old folks in Cuba. He is also genuinely funny again without having to play off his own persona or referencing Salman Khan the star.  The humor is dryer without obvious punchlines followed by a deliberate pause. There are some wonderful visual gags that works really well especially the intercut scenes of previous adventures and mishaps of Tiger and some of the winking at the camera without having to break the 4th wall. And clearly Salman loved spending time with Katrina and how could you not?

 

Katrina Kaif has been so consistent in delivering roles that seem to fit her like a glove. Like Mere Brother Ki Dulhan or even Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, I can’t see any other actress enacting the role of Zoya. The lady just has tons of screen presence and besides her bedazzling styling she brings such physicality to the role that other actresses like Priyanka (Don 2) and Deepika (Chandni Chowk To China) can only dream of.

I wouldn’t have minded seeing some more of that physicality in some key scenes (especially just before the interval). The problem she has is the characterization of Zoya is sometimes flaky, the screenplay never decides if she is a bad ass on the level of Tiger or a damsel in distress and that really does a disservice to Katrina.

 

The production values are top notch and ETT is beautifully framed, and truly feels global without feeling disjointed (unlike Don 2 and Agent Vinod which felt the need to globe hop for no reason) or giving a sense of déjà vu even though locations like Istanbul have recently been rediscovered and used in quite a few other movies (Game amongst other but maybe I’m the only one how saw that). YRF did a slightly better at the hiring non-Indian extras and background dancers job than that other foreign local gloss machine Dharma Films (who really scrape the bottom of the barrel, may I remind you of the drunk chapel scene in Ek Main Aur Ek Tu?).

 

The action set pieces are probably the highlight of the movie and they really pack multiple scissor kicks, the only problem I had was with the facial imaging effects they used on the Salman Khan Body Double were slightly jarring in the Dublin sequence, they weren’t as bad as some scenes in Krissh but when it comes to daylight shots, there is still some work to be done.

Another problem is the lack of central villain so we don’t get a final brawl although the climax does deliver in many other ways.

A bigger issue is that we never get a true motivation for why our romantic duo is being chased with such vigor, this could have easily been tweaked on a screenplay level but if you haven’t bought into the Tiger by then, you probably won’t.

 

Final Verdict: The Movie is GREEEEEAAAT (Could I leave you guys without a lame Tony The Tiger reference? – no, as that’s the kind of reviewer I am).

But lame jokes aside Ek Tha Tiger is a great summer blockbuster that is slightly loose around the edges but the performances of the main leads, the romance, production values, cinematography and action set pieces truly deliver and isn’t that really what we look for during the summer?

 

Spoiler Section:

Although the trailer was great and built up the required buzz, it did spoil quite a few jokes and action set pieces, which is a shame as they lessen the impact within the movie, but maybe that’s my mistake for rewatching them a billion time in anticipation for the release.

 

Ranvir Shorey styles some amazing facial hair.

 

Was there a need for the other ISI agent beside Katrina? It would have easily sufficed having her go all Angelina Jolie on the audience although Salman fans would probably not appreciate her clobbering him like a ninja and stealing his phone.

 

This movie is riddled with gaping lot of plot holes (Salman even jumps over a few in Iraq) consider yourself warned.

 

The biggest compromises in ETT were made by director Kabir Khan. To the point that if you listen very carefully you can hear him gnashing his teeth in the back ground at very forced Salman Khan trademark shirt removal scene. The placing of the song “Mashallah” also feels like an after thought, although beautifully picturised, these all out populist conventions clearly make the director feel ill at ease and it shows.

 

For a moment during the tram sequence I thought Salman would go all Spiderman on us and stop the train with his bare hands.

 

The epilogue and voice over were completely redundant as was the reveal of Tiger’s real name, had even less impact than the whole Professor Kidwai scene.

 

@asimburney

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Review Ladies vs Ricky Bahl

Ranveer Singh, Anushka Sharma and director Maneesh Sharma come together once again under the YRF banner after their sleeper hit of last year Band Baaja Baarat, Ladies Vs Ricky Bahl is called a Rom-Con puntastically and banks heavily and is pretty much built around the popularity of the leading man, after Ranveer’s debut which almost ecplipsed his co-star unfairly.

 

Here we follow grifter Ricky Bahl (Ranveer Singh) under his different guises as he cons Daddy’s Girl Dimple in Delhi (Parineeti Chopra) as a gym trainer, no non-sense business lady Raina in Mumbai as an art critic (played by former model Dippanita Sharma) and before that as shy garment manufacturer from a small village so where he duped the innocent Saira played by Aditi Sharma in Lucknow (Probably the most “evil” of cons).

The swindled ladies want to get back their money, respect or “boyfriend” back and hire salesgirl Ishika (Anushka Sharma) to con the “conner”.

 

Up to this point in the story (which is pretty much the interval) the movie is a joyous ride of the different cities, accents, get-ups, cultures and each of the different scams of which especially the one in Delhi is fun to watch.  We see firecracker Ranveer proving his debut was not a fluke and he truly is a guy to watch out.  Anushka makes an energetic introduction in Jazba, shaking her behind in front of dubbawhala’s in a station and Parineeti has us pretty much cracking up in every scene she is in almost playing a spoilt version of Shruti Kakkar, or is just that no nonsense Delhi accent she puts on? It makes certainly makes us look forward to her forthcoming movie Ishqzaade with Arjun Kapoor.

But then things start to go downhill as soon as the focus shifts to the duped trying to get back at Ricky.

 

As we discussed during our Matchstick Men Upodcast about con movies, a con movie is only as good as the con, and here there is not a moment that you truly believe that these girls will be able to have the upper hand on Ricky. What remains is the love story, which is underdeveloped, and when it does pop up, it comes out of nowhere.

If the pacing of a movie engrossing you don’t realize some loopholes but this is not the case in Ladies vs Ricky Bahl and the pace actually drops in the scenes were Ranveer isn’t present.

 

Although the supporting actresses are talented, and Saira was channeling a bit of Yasmeen from Dhobi Ghaat)

Both Anushka and Ranveer look great but as an audience member you almost feel cheated as I didn’t feel there was enough of them in the 2nd half of the movie. We never really get to understand Ricky and in a very “500 Days of Summer”- way we only see the version of Bloody Kamina that the victims of his cons show us. Making it that even the climactic scenes of character growth feel like they materialized out of thin air. I do think Ranveer was trying to channel a bit of Tanni from Rab Ne Banadi Jodi (before the reveal) looking at everything with mysterious glances, is he aware that he is being conned? Or is he just playing along? But this is probably just the performance trying to add more to an underdeveloped script.

Anushka is radiant, and there was lots of talk of her weight loss, some going as far as to shout anorexia but she manages to fill the screen with a positive energy that no other contemporary actress has.  Some actresses ooze class, some sensuality, Anushka manages to do both and adds a girl next-door charm.

And god that smile… too bad Ishika, the character, doesn’t live up to the talent of this amazing performer.

 

The visuals are glossy as Christmas ornaments; every scene has the popping energy that we are used to YRF studios (I do wonder if this is a look that will translate to the US movies they are now producing)

 

The songs are mediocre although choreographed marvelously. I did feel that the undershirt dance in title track was reminiscent of the studios massive hit Dhoom 2′ s “Dhoom Machale”. The song placement is balanced and the performances by the leads against are so energetic they are enjoyable even though you wont be buying the soundtrack anytime soon (something I haven’t done either, although that jazz sample in the title track is pretty awesome)

Every close up is shot with lots of fans so hair is always flopping around, something I might have found more annoying as I was sitting super close to the screen.  (I could actually see a couple of nose hairs poking out of Ricky’s pulling me totally out of the moment, I hope I didn’t spoil any moments)

 

All in all Ladies vs Ricky Bahl is quite fun and enjoyable even though I don’t imagine it ending up on any best of 2011 lists. Something I am preparing for a future Bollywood Upodcast so keep checking us out. Maneesh Sharma needs a better screenplay next time but it’s quite tough to capture lightning in a bottle. If you don’t go with the expectations of another Band Baaja Baraat, you will have a great time.

 

Something more:

 

  • I would love to see what Ranveer can do coming out of the YRF banner. The guy has such a screen presence and could totally take on more challenging and edgier roles if given the chance.

 

  • I would like to see Anushka Sharma in pretty much everything, she s such a delight to watch.

 

  • Ladies vs Ricky Bahl is another in a long line of Yash Raj con after Bunty Aur Babli, Badmaash Company, the Dhoom series and in some ways even Rab Ne Banadi Jodi. Maybe Band Baaja Baraat connected more with audiences, as it was a movie about hard work and graft? Something we don’t seem to get as much in contemporary Hindi cinema.
  • It seems that Yash Raj studios have no idea how to portray the business world actually works.  Salesmen are equated with con men (something that was also raised in last years Rocket Singh-Salesmen of the Year) and seem to be proud of duping their customers, something I inherently disagree with. Even Raina’s who’s supposed to be a hardnosed corporate manager also has to deal with interior decoration and also being a part time art critic

 

 @asimburney

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Review: Lafangey Parindey

Lafangey Parindey (directed by Pradeep Sarkar ) is the product of a confused studio,Yash Raj films. Once the most illustrious production company in India now a factory of cookie cutter, bland and utterly forgettable products. A studio that just doesn’t understand anymore how to recapture their old glory and Lafangey Parindey is the another final grasp of desperation from  a man trying to hold on to anything he can whilst plummeting to the debts of mediocrity, this movie is basically Hans Gruber falling off the Nakatomi building!

Our fiend Ness from ShahrukhIsLove  and I decided to do a double review for this movie as we stumbled across it on the same day and decided/were forced to watch it.

You can find her review here which is a great piece of writing although I do not agree with much of it. Ness found a lot of enjoyment out of Lafangey, I unfortunately found almost none.

To summarize the plot, Nandu is a sweaty, grease-laden underground fighter with heightened extra sensory perception or an acute sense of smell (must be one of the two as he can knock out his opponent blind folded with one single punch).  Before the movie starts( in the part we don’t get to see), he hires a team of communication consultants to come up with the perfect catchy nickname which would look good on  billboards and publicity hoardings as well give him exactly the right street amount of cred for his homies and peeps who he enjoys taking motorcycle rides with.

 After holding focus groups, in depth motivational analysis and finally a Don Draper-type eureka moment they came up with the name “One shot Nandu” and there was much rejoicing. Armed with a snappy nickname, his band of motorcycling cronies and his desi-street lingo dictionary (although nothing of Govinda level: “Haata sawan ki ghata kha khuja ke batti buzhake soja nintukale pintukale..Raste pe khadeli Anty bajarahi hain baar baar ghanti..atale watae shaane..Kulla ghuma ke pashchim ko palat..phutale watale shaane..”-Deewana Mastana) Nandu is ready to take on the world if he can find time between some horribly choreographed dancing and inspiring a few precocious SlumDog Millionaire-rejects.

One Shot is student of the Bobby Deol’s school of boxing, he decides that you don’t need to tone or train any part of your body to be a professional fighter. Just a few pushups here and there suffice!

He feels a promotion is well deserved wants to take the next step career wise to major league Goondabaazi so he asks Anna (the criminally underused Kay Kay)  to take him on his next Goonda related assignment.

Pinky is from the same neighborhood  as Nandu and wants to use her skating ability to skate her way to a better life by taking part in India Got talent. Pinky is very tall and her arms and legs are all over the place. She is clearly not a quitter and can be as foul mouthed as the rest of the Basti- gang, these facets of her personality will be highlighted incessantly throughout the movie.  She gets run over by a car in a scene very reminiscent of Brad Pitt’s death scene in Meet Joe Black and loses her ability to see! (Can someone edit both these scenes together?- it might be bigger than the keyboard cat!)

So what happens next?

Will Pinky manage to find a dance partner?

Will Nandu be able to come to grips with his guilt?

Will they fall in luuurv sweet luurv?

Let me save you the trouble of actually watching this arduous journey of a movie by saying: of course they will. To quote The Zohan:” I have seen this. I have done this. You don’t want this”

This movie is filled with Tarantino-esque movie references or  Anu Malik type “inpirations” but since the performances by the leadcast are pretty monochromous It is never clear which is which.

Here are some of the blatant déjà vu feelings I had explained through the magic of math!

Lafangey Parinday= (Rab ne banadi Jodi) x Ghulam /(The Killer+ Naseeb) x −Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman

The point being we have seen this movie already a million times and Pradeep Sarkar’s treatments adds nothing to the journey we take with these characters. Every beat is predictable and every dialogue uttered by the lead pair sounds false.

I don’t know about these new actors lately, they are not able to convey true passion in their performance anymore, I just don’t believe these people have any true feelings for each other.

ShahRukh Khan always claimed he can romance a tree if needed, I just don’t see the same ability in the new Brat Pack of boys and girls and I do miss that essential Bollywood component to give me a full massala flavor. That chemistry between the lead pair is completely lacking between Deepika and Neil.

I worry for Neil’s career, although likeable, I don’t know what he can add to the Bollywood hero roster especially as the buzz around Jonny Gadaar has now completely died down and  being a Hrithik Roshan  look-alike  isn’t the best way forward. We know how well the Hrithik references worked for Harman Baweja’s career-ZING! (They do reference his resemblance again in this movie which I don’t see but I never really do, maybe coz I knew a lot of twins growing up…)

Deepika, I worry less about since she’s quite easy on the eye which seems to be the most important factor of succes in bollywood movies, and if Priyanka Chopra can win a “best actress” award there is hope for Deepika. Plus she plays a blind girl which means she can mostly look away and stare blankly which she does pretty well.

So the story is old, treatment is bland, the setting and look is corny, performances are unconvincing, there is no chemistry between the performers,  the CGI in the skate performances have the most jarring visual effects I have seen in ages almost close to Game of Death-level  work. (A movie completed with left over material after Bruce Lee’s passing away, google it! It was painful)

What I did like about the Lafangey Parindey was Kay Kay’s performances, which was blink-and miss ni length but it made me at least take note of what was going on and beggars can’t be choosers. the other was the song “Man Lafangey” by the always excellent Mohit Chauhan. The production values are high but it’s covered with the same YRF gloss that makes all their movies look exactly the same. Yash Raj films needs to fire their entire art department for being lazy for the past 12 years and then read this article by Cracked: 5 Annoying Trends That Make Every Movie Look the Same.

I’ really have been racking my brain but that truly is it!

Also if you want to see convincing fight scenes filmed in grizzly grey tones since that’s what the movie poster promises us, watch this underwear ad starring Salman Khan.

Lafangey Parindey? More like disease infected pigeons!

If you agree or disagree, leave us know in the comment section below!

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