Rangoon – that bridge too far.

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Wow! It was Friday, even before we could say ‘Thank God’, and He had given us a little more to cheer, it was Shivarathri, and the movie release – Rangoon. Thank you god! We said. A lil too soon we thought, thinking back a little afternoon that day.

I salivated at the thought of the treat from Wednesday (the next Wednesday was Ash) on. Even decided to do the piety of lent for a couple of days – practice run for the coming feast. Rangoon is a Vishal Bhardwaj film, and it had Shahid (with whom he has never really failed, not just that but even gave Shahid new life) and then gorgeous Kangana. Vishal had gotten back to form with Haider after a bit of a slip with Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola, but then with MKBKM would have been difficult to get Imran to be Amir, and even the confidence of blowing the breath of life into Shahid didn’t help then. Cut to the present, Imran seems to have retired and must be in the same state of bliss as Abishek the Bachan! So, move on we will.

And come Friday we rushed about all the chores of the morning and got to the theater for the first show (yes, first day first show). Ah! Shiva’s slumber and the producer having to talk with the Censor board guys seemed to have effected the guys in Mumbai. The censor board is the joker in the pack that brings more tears than laughter. Our censor board is the most hardworking team on earth. Their sharp scissors can’t seem to have enough. They chopped off the kiss from the Bond flick Spectre and with it all of Monica Bellucci, making it a total waste of a cinema outing. We will save the stuff they did Under My Burkha for later. Moving on, after an hour’s wait the movie began. All the better for the lovely feast we thought, licking jowls in anticipation, thoughts that voiced itself in that hall, the 10 of us in the stall (the 11.30 morning show and it eventually got us to Rangoon at 12.30) were fairly well acquainted by now. And because of this instant camaraderie we also found out that in this digital age the movies are streamed at the theaters, show after every show, and that these guys had some issue with the film certificate.

OK, movie now. It was really nice to see Kangana on screen, it was nice every time she was on. Oh, Shahid was solid too, that boy has been working very hard, the debacle that was Mausam, an indulgent one which his father mounted for his son, did disturb his inner blocks. And he continues his good from from Udta Punjab. Saif’s struggle continues, he looks good, he gets to wear crisp tux en-all, the creases in place period wardrobe. Yes, he does carry it off and well, sometimes it just becomes that, and them clothes does not maketh the man. Earnest, oh he was! Also there was Richard McCabe, he had a lot of screen time, if he was out to get us to loathe him, he did a good job of that. He was just over the top, and his Urdu and Hindi mostly made you cringe. So it was nice to see him shot down after that fearless Nadia train rescue, very short lived that was, he came back and how! Kangana’s fearless Nadia would have made Mary Evans proud (yes another Aussie reference) and a lot many others too. She is fragile, strong and she soars, and she lifts your heart. Will the melancholy that only seems to add further to her sparkle consume her too soon? Her screen presence is almost Brandonesque.

The sets and the bridge to Rangoon, the scenic Arunachal Pradesh were just very small drops that promised a downpour this summer. So like one swallow and a few little water drops does not a summer thirst quench, Rangoon too does very little. Rather disappointing horse at the Race from the Vishal stable. So, in some ways it was like the debacle that was Rajni’s Baba(2002_film) . Well, scale it down a bit, and the impact in this small world would have the same feeling of hurt. Rangoon did however get me to dig out a copy of another war flick (Aussie reference again) about the girls who went on to entertain the troops – The Sapphires. And that lovely sound track.

Rangoon OST was bloody good too.bp-Full-Juke-box-out-rangoon-shahid-kapoor-kangana-ranaut-Saif-ali-khan

OK, now for the script. Yes, it had lots packed into it. Vishal was through, so when he made Saif’s Billimoria walk the tight rope and then take off his hand at the wrist very early in the movie, he was setting up a finale that would take the whole lovely bridge down and with it your heart and let you wallow in your tears of loss and love, and also love of our country, that heady concoction was flat beer – neither foster nor our own kingfisher. But there is that wooden feeling, quite like billimoria’s mechanical hand, or a hangover from cheap bad liquor.

Shahid does get you to leave your cushioned seat and stand up, with his rendition of the national anthem and his Bhagat Singh stance. Supreme court ruling of which stanza to stand for and when you could snore through, be hanged. Our patriotism being defined by lathi and gun yielding unruly, lacking any culture could do with this selfless lesson no? OK no! But then that is the farther-est we are from today. We understand en-mass chest thumping to lies and self love. Well, that is not the reason why the film didn’t do well at the box office. Rangoon does test your patience quite some in the first half and then the second half gets muddled up with too many of the subplots having to knit. Vishal does lose it every now and then, and sometimes when he thinks he has got it, he has lost you. Was it the big budget and scale that made him lose it? Was he infected with the same virus that got Anurag Kashyap when he was in Bombay ?

And for that triangle that Shadid, Saif and Kangana play, is but just a Tinny percussion discord. Can a girl love two men? Can two men live with the love of one girl? Well, NO answers, maybe they were not even the questions that were asked. But if you ended up asking, then you have Billimoria left alone to walk the tight rope with a tattered flag and a battered hand. Love is a just a thin veiled backdrop, but it still gets the lot of them to perform very brave acts like with grenades and bullets in the brain .

The old world trying to speak to the shallowness of the new world will let your art down. Like after all that tough kissing in the movie, the big question Kangana got asked many-times over was, ‘who is a better kisser, Shahid or Saif?’ hmm m…

Oh yes, Kangana does take a big part of you when she leaves saying, my soul left with the Soldier and of-course ‘Bloody Hell!’ nice touch with that as the famous last words, but the cgiafter a big let down. All puns and spoilers intended.

Bloody hell, Vishal rise up from that drunken mud wrestle and give us another.

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Broadchurch

Now that was one nice ride – Eight episodes of a  set in a small English town. The

Broadchurch

acting superb. The town beautiful!

This idyllic town is rocked – a 11 year old boy is found dead on the beach. And before we are let to discover the killer in the last episode we live some lives and then watch some very great struggles – our everyday does become our special or eerie day, does it not! The final part of the wrenching discovery: the emotions are high, tears will well up in in your eyes as it does to the ballsy(big city girl in this small town) reporter Karen White played by Vicky McClure. After the high note of tears and still restrained emoting on screen, the music (narrative) continues to soar… it’s sublime as the Reverend Paul Coates (Arthur Darvill) tries and manages to bring solace from the Good Book: Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamour and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.

Be kind to one another. Tender-hearted. Forgive one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

And you hear the term Service (as opposed to Mass) mentioned a few times too… Yes, these are the Anglicans :). But, yes, this priest if he were at your parish might get you to visit and also forget that the church was fast losing its relevance, which you were completely convinced about just a few weeks ago. Quite like the guys in Broadchurch.

The Detectives: Inspector Alec Hardy (David Tennant) Detective Sergeant Ellie Miller (Olivia Colman) are superb. it’s a triumph of underplaying that ably carry you the viewer on high emotional note. Tennant is called on to be this very strong guy even in the larger setting of failing health and coming in from a high profile blotched murder investigation in the city, before he come to this small town. He carries the melancholy and machoness firmly on his slender shoulder. And in Colman he has able support. She has a lot layered into her character and she plays them well – mother, detective, wife, friend, neighbor…

And when Karen White (Vicky McClure) does the Journo thing, of trying to bring justice instead of reporting and uses the ‘English Rose’ – Beth Latimer (Jodie Whittaker) effectively. Beth’s brilliant as the young mother – tender, lost-of-faith, wavering, strong. Mark (Andrew Buchan) the father of the boy has it tough with one streak of gray.

It’s a story told tenderly, of a gentle community that comes on hard times. Yes, like it’s said, it’s the tough times that defines one’s true character. Oh, right! the town goes about these times, they falter, they find strength, they hold on, a couple of them fall by the wayside, It’s not all bleak, there is the brighter most encouraging triumph of the human spirit. there is the otherside (the invisible/the force) that flits by when the fight gets tough and the spirit weak. but it still stays in the realm of the logical – the real. Not once is the viewer asked to look away to hide the twists or blind eyes for red herrings.

It’s rewarding few hours in the dark. the light after is comforting still.

Broadchurch will be back, flashes the message on the screen. That kind of hope ever so welcome… though the wait might be a long time.

Dedh Ishqiya

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 Dedh was a cuss word in the streets of the small suburbs of Bangalore we grew up in, of the 70s and 80s. And this half measure does need some cursing, much more than the One and half I haven’t quite uttered.
Vishal is an artist who in 2013 has decided to feed us Rotis that are only half cooked. True that even these are better than the Rowdys and Chennai trains that go nowhere. Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola disappointed, so does Ishqiya 11/2.
I accept, we went in with the memory of the sweet taste of gaalis and Vidya from Ishqiya, and came out wanting to go back to the old. This 11/2 and not half the fun.
The parts we liked:
The guys are quite good. Naseer and Arshad are good together. Their timing delightful, though Arshad moves like he probably chewed one bhang more than he should have.
The English subs – a very cool idea. If it wasn’t for that, a lot of the Urdu shayaris would have been wasted on us aam jantha.
Vijay Raaz is in good form, he has a lot of screen time and dockhe makes good.
Huma promises but has no support from the script. She is the bodyguard to this petite aging Begum and she plays it straight.
Didn’t much care for:
Madhuri Dixit, there has been much made of her come back. She is all dainty en all.. but she’s quite like a mannequin that was given some lines to speak. Oh, yes, she looks very well preserved and there is even a whole song as the credits run for her to showcase Birju Maharaj’s deft moves, but it held back none, not at the theater I was at anyway. A person from the newspaper a couple of days later wrote that she was more enthused by Madhuri in the 1 minute trailer of ‘Gulab Gang’ more than this movie that she went to see. We sometimes make too much of a comeback: sometimes we expect great brilliance to come after a fading away. If you remember Pukar in 2000 it was more Namrata than Madhuri. And when the barefooted Hussain couldn’t quite get her to ride them horses around that time. Devdas was like: ‘ok, now we are tired, am going home’, and Chandramuki handed the bucket to Paro and left with Nene.
And Madhuri did come back 5 years later, and they (mostly reality shows on TV) crowned her dance queen with the ravishing smile.. and in the last 5-6 years she has been trying to freeze that to her image. Oh yes, that’s it, she does look a bit stiff.. And about that trailer, which pits these 80s girls on the big-screen for the first time, we think they might have waited too long.
There are some cool lines and Naseeruddin does the shayari well and the con man even better. And that time when an old Hakim (yes about 100 years older than Naseeruddin) holds his trembling hands and then just when Khalujaan (Naseer) thinks the Hakim might have gone to the other world in the course of listening to his pulse, the hakim wakes up from deep seance and delivers his cure: the mohabaat (seven course) will do it!
And Masha Allah! Mohabaat does heal!  kicks and lives again.
Oh right, and Babaan (Arshaad) does gets a few stages into Mohabaat and get into Huma’s skirt too.
And these being the 7 stages: Dilkashi (attraction), Uns (attachment), Mohabbat (love), Akidat (trust), Ibadat (worship), Junoon (madness)
and the last stage is Maut (death).
This team that worked on this flick are such heavies : gulzar, rahat fateh ali khan, vishal… and they even get Honey Singh to mouth Gulzar’s lyrics with the banal ‘horn ok please’… no, it is not crass as dinka chika… remember Vishal made Dhan Te Nan (kameney) sound classy, and gulzar got Bipasha Basu to light a Beedi… So, these guys when they pick up dirt, it does breathe life. But the energy and the hooks abandon them here. No – Dil To Bachcha Hai. No – Ibn-e-batuta … Kya Hoga soars some height but doesn’t quite get there.
Oh ok, it is a good outing at the theaters I accept, but it is difficult to settle for anything but the finest Biryani from these folks.