Monday, November 26, 2007

‘Goal’: Bend it like Southall

-By Swetha Amit
Being sportive seems to be the main connotation for filmmakers today. Whether it is taking a spoof at themselves by ‘reincarnating’ their images in a recent flick; or achieving their goal in every possible manner, they certainly do not fail to score a winning streak with the audiences.
Dhan Dhana Dhan Goal indeed makes its mark in a profound way without unnecessarily giving away a penalty.

The film starts by showcasing the pitiable condition of Southall United football club which is in dire straits due to bankruptcy. Adding fuel to the fire is their lack of victory for over 25 years making everyone including the commentator Johnny Bakshi (Dilip Tahil) and the city council authorities wash their hands off them. The pathetic plight of the team instigates the latter party to present a condescending proposal which involves the utilization of the lush green grounds for a better commercialized purpose for the community.

A perplexed Captain Shaan Ali (Arshad Warsi) wows to bring back the team to where it belongs in a span of time and sets on a target mission to achieve his goal. Coaxing a privileged yet disgraced ex-player of Southall- Tony (Boman Irani) to coach them, the rather battered team picks up its threads to weave themselves as one bundle of strength, unity and power packed players which prove to be a challenging task for all.

However a missing ingredient in the team after a disastrous defeat compels Tony to approach Sunny Bhasin (John Abraham) -an aspiring football player who was mercilessly dropped from one of the top teams due to racist reasons. A considerable amount of persuasion propels Sunny to join Southall United evoking mixed reactions from various sources. While his entry brings in immense joy to Rumana (Bipasha Basu) who is the sister of Shaan and the physician of the team; it infuriates Shaan and the rest who are at loggerheads with Sunny and are rather enraged at this ‘striking’ gesture of Tony. Personal differences and petty squabbles rise at an alarming rate which prevents the team from tasting success and ultimately turn them into a laughing stock for all. The reprimanding speech from Tony makes realization dawn upon them like the rising sun that dispels the darkness at daybreak. This results in a newfound energy and spirit in these players who emerge with triumph in every game with intense grit and determination.

Their popularity begins to soar high along with their morale and confidence. Unable to withstand their supremacy,Johnny Bakshi manages to entice the star of the team-Sunny into the jaws of material gains and a stifling contract in the name of professionalism. Sunny agrees much to the dismay of his team. However an unexpected discovery of his connection with Southhall United in more than one way causes a change in his attitude and sets Sunny to fulfill his unrealized dreams. His fierce fight and 'never say die' attitude brings Southall to its deserving numero uno position which accomplishes the achievement of more than one person’s goal with a melodramatic tinge.

Goal is a well made film with energetic performances and well directed by Vivek Agnihotri. Arshad Warsi is brilliant in his serious and subdued role. John Abraham stands out as the cocky yet passionate player who proves his point in the end. Bipasha is good and the on screen chemistry with John is remarkable. Boman Irani is fantastic as the ex player cum coach who is burdened with the traces of his disturbed past. The rest of the star cast makes a special mark in their unique way.

One is bound to find traces of similarity with 'Chak De India' which portrays an under dog team winning the world cup and how they set aside their personal differences to work collectively. This film also brings about the shameful issue of racism which is the cause of concern for many Indians settled abroad. This is especially brought out in the scene where a ‘gora’ calls John Abraham a ‘paki’ much to the latter’s indignation. The unfair act of dropping him out in spite of his good game, depicts the unprofessional stance of the unsaid yet obvious reason being ‘colored’ which sadly exists in reality.

The film also emphasizes the essence of team spirit which is an inspirational and a motivational lesson for many especially in ones professional lives. It exhibits the admirable passion and love for the game which extends beyond just a mere livelihood for the players. It teaches one to learn to adopt a courageous stance to prove themselves as winners despite the whole world being hostile and scornful towards them.

Achieving a short term or long term goal is all about investing perseverance which will bring out the winning streak with flying colors.

This film is worth a watch and gives its viewers an opportunity to 'bend it like Southall' by exhibiting a whoop of delight and cheer ‘Dhan dhana dhan GOAL!!!!

Written for www.msn.co.in

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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Not a child's play


-By Swetha Amit

http://content.msn.co.in/MSNContribute/Story.aspx?PageID=cf522f43-b4d7-4b71-84a2-e2e4977417f7


While children’s day is being acclaimed every year on the 14th of November, it is ironical to notice the childhood factor being conspicuous by its gradual decline. That carefree stage in life which is reminisced fondly for some may sadly be devoid for the upcoming generation due to the competitive fast paced life and over dose of unnecessary awareness.

Few years back parks and the building compounds portrayed the playgrounds, carrying the musical titter of laughter and glee by children. This provided a soothing effect to those who were hassled with the pressures of existence and were immediately gifted with a faint smile on the wrinkles of turmoil. Sadly today children hardly indulge in those outdoor games anymore. Today’s parks are being converted into 'car' parks instead!!

Education seems to be a prime cause for the direct promotion into ‘grown up’ segment in both ways. Either millions being deprived of it due to the unfortunate stance of being orphaned or nestled into poverty leading to the horrendous and pitiable act of slaving or begging. Another instance is depicted by the brutal employment of such naïve souls in several factories which is termed as child labor. Fortunately the government has taken a strict measure to ban recruitment of children into the gruesome real world. It is a shame to see the youth of such individuals being robbed mercilessly out of their due right for their faultless state of being.

Another case is that of parents themselves indulging in mounting pressure right from the start and converting them into bookworms. It seems that the philosophy of ‘all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy’ is followed religiously. It is horrifying to see the children being stifled out of their free spirit. Right from tuitions to extra curricular activities, parents seem to want to prepare their kids for the future to face the cut throat competitive world. They fail to realize the importance of enjoyment during these crucial days and shove responsibility even before they are ready for it psychologically.

There are several cases where such selfish adults earn money through their kids which gives rise to the concept of child artists. Coercive acts by parents to be conscious of their appearance results in an unbearable load on these delicate little shoulders apart from fulfilling their star status in getting the first rank. Mounting expectations tend to rob the cheerful stature of these tiny tots which ultimately make them ‘grow up’ too quickly with unnecessary exposure.

Rapid technological advance though considered as a boon in many instances also turns out to be a bane especially in taking away the innocence from kids. The loads of all kinds of information available grips the awareness bug at a fast pace. This eradicates the ‘ignorance is bliss’ theory and instigates the curiosity and addiction levels which can hamper the healthy pace of growth for these little beings. Especially with the videos which carry material exclusively for the ‘adult’ segment alone.

Certain heinous acts by the so called suave adults cause a scar in more than one way which is deeply imbibed into these tender minds. The atrocity of the increasing rate of child abuse has flabbergasted millions. It is even more shocking to hear of such outrageous occurrences of incest within the circle of trust of family members. While there are more of these offensive acts done by perverts who are undoubtedly sick mentally they unfortunately ruin the mental state of being on these juvenile souls. Such victims tend to get entangled into the web of pessimism and a cynical mode instead of being exuberant. It is abhorrent to see such grave sins causing serious repercussions to the innocent.

Going by the above instances instigates one to adopt appropriate measures to help in preserving the childhood factor before it drowns into the quick sands of the queer sadism.
Parents need to develop a liberal style of giving their children the needed space and the breath of fresh air in the open instead of cooping them indoors. Encouraging them to slack a bit and enjoy their happy go lucky days would develop a healthier pace of personality development rather than the opposite approach.

As responsible citizens, many can undertake the noble cause of educating one needy child in this world. Tons of money being wasted away in all sorts of abuse and gambling can be utilized for the essential betterment of the society. It is heartening to see several corporates coming forward and devoting the time and resources for such causes.

Lastly, spreading the awareness of child sexual abuse and the punitive measures to those found guilty of this shameful act would reduce the disturbed feeling which snatches away the joy of existence. This would also remove the excess baggage of guilt carried throughout the developing years until it takes an unwarranted toll on them emotionally.

Seeing the above grim happenings would certainly make Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru’s heart bleed had he been alive and whose birthday was dedicated to his fondness for children. While it certainly isn’t a child’s play for us adults it’s important to act fast. After all, we do not want the world to turn into a zone of ‘no child’s play’, do we?

Written for www.msn.co.in

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Monday, November 12, 2007

Om Shanti Om: Rebirth of a star


-By Swetha Amit
Some of us are content being down to earth while others aspire to be one among the stars. Dreams of going up above the world so high and attaining stardom at times takes more than just one lifetime.

Farah Khan’s Om Shanti Om is one such story of a struggling actor whose aspirations needed more than one birth. It seemed that acting and he had a karmic relationship which couldn’t help but proclaim him as a superstar with his desired climax.

The film starts with a foot tapping popular track from the blockbuster Karz which words the title of this film as a means of tracing back to the 70s era. The flamboyant flashback depicts the bell bottoms, funky hairdos, colorful attires and the graceful glide of the leading actresses. Om (Shahrukh Khan) is a junior artiste and an aspiring actor backed up by his close confident Pappu master(Shreyas Talpade) and mother (Kirron Kher)whose biggest inspiration lay in the star and dreamy girl of millions-Shantipriya (Deepika Padukone). Deeply in love with her, Om places her above the rest even his own life as he proves it by rescuing her from a flaming fire sequence while shooting a scene on the sets. From there begins a new found friendship and Om’s joy knows no bounds.

However there is a turn of events with the revelation of a shocking truth about Shanti’s secret liaison with the biggest producer Mukesh (Arjun Rampal) that dismays Om who is heartbroken. Mukesh’s dreams are shattered with the confession of a distressed Shanti which instigates him to take a ruthlessly brutal act of locking her up in a flaming studio. While Om tries to come and save her little does he realize that his rescue mission would go up in a fatal smoke?

Thirty years later portrays the existing heartthrob of many and the super star Om Kapoor aka O.K (Shahrukh Khan)-son of a top actor. An encounter with Mukesh retrieves his past life tragedy and sets him on a quest to avenge the death of his love. With the help of his mother, his close confidante, Shanti’s look alike-Sandy (Deepika Padukone), and the theory of the "circle of life philosophy", he recalls the ghost from the past. Deriving a ‘spirited’ climax to the incomplete story ironically results in a new and happy ending.

Om Shanti Om is entertaining and has all the essential ingredients of being successful movie commercially. Action, comedy, romance, emotion, spoof and a playful jab at the stars in a lighter vein takes the audience through a whirlwind of fun, sadness and a thriller ride at the same time. The story tends to remind one of the blockbuster 'Karz' and the age old classic 'Madhumati' at times.

Shahrukh does well as the meek yet energetic Om in the first half and transforms himself as the cocky and arrogant Om post the interval. The scene where he does a spoof of a Tamil superstar kept the crowd in splits. At the same time, his emotional dialogue during the drunken stature overwhelms the audience. Deepika Padukone is launched in a dream debut and looks graceful in the 70s costume but doesn’t have much to do in the latter half of the film. Kirron Kher and Shreyas Talpade play their parts with conviction. Arjun Rampal stands out as the suave and vile villain. His grey shades projects the uncertainty of the clouds which either sends showers or whizzes away without any damage, keeping the people below guessing. Such ambiguity is portrayed in the scene where one moment he is raising Shanti’s hopes high only to shove her brutally by the blaze of his flaming fury.

Music by Vishal and Shekar is mind-blowing; the added attraction of the ‘Deewangi’ song being graced with the top stars shaking their leg with the King Khan. ‘Dard-E-Disco’ is a rage and portrays a shirtless Shahrukh in his newly acquired six-packer. The extravagant sets are marvelous with a tribute where Deepika is seen romancing with the yesteryear stars like the late Sunil Dutt, Jeetendra and Rajesh Khanna. Such shots are beautifully merged and directed.

The post interval scenes such as the one of the film fare award nominees are hilarious with a special gesture of Akshay Kumar mocking his ’Khiladi’ image subtly. Several other light digs send a titter of laughter across the sea of viewers.

Though the story has nothing to boast of in terms of novelty, it is very well directed by Farah Khan who has done a wonderful gesture by giving due credit to the entire cast and crew with a musical ending.

"The world is a stage" as William Shakespeare has said and we play our versatile roles at various points. Sometimes the climax of our stories and lives prove to be against what we want and never-ending. This makes us want to return again to attain the end that we think is justified even if it means replaying our lifetime which tends to leave room for rest of our narrative. Such is the case of Om Shanti Om where one tends to feel that ‘yeh picture abi bhi baaki hai’ to see the rebirth of a star yet again.............
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Saawariya: A musical trip


-By Swetha Amit
Love tends to either bring out the best or the worst in an individual. The latter emotion tends to explore the dark and mystical side to this intense feeling.

Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s ‘beloved’ debut launch ‘Saawariya’ depicts the two sides of the same coin with poised freshness spinning through a mixed web of reality and fantasy.

The film starts by showcasing the spectacular set of a city which portrays a remarkable resemblance to that shown in a fairy tale. Amidst all this is located a bar infested by over decked women waiting to entertain customers. One of them is Gulabji (Rani Mukerjee) who loses her heart to an aspiring singer Ranbir Raj (Ranbir Kapoor) and engages in a narrative about the latter.

Ranbir brings a ray of light into everyone’s murky lives by entertaining them with his boyish charm and going on a musical trip at every pretext. His warm eyes manage to melt even the heart of the grouchy Lily pop (Zohra Sehgal) who eventually accepts him as a substitute for her lost son.

A chance encounter with a beautiful yet mysterious lady one night on a bridge changes the life of Ranbir who falls head over heels in love. Sakina (Sonam Kapoor) initially mystifies him with her mixed flurry of tears and smiles; gradually leading to a series of innocent and gentle gestures, exchange of words and strengthening of this friendship. However Sakina’s shocking confessions of her endless wait for the ambiguous return of her beloved Iman (Salman Khan) and her flashback nevertheless baffles Ranbir who is naturally dismayed. Trying to woo her constantly, by striking chord almost results in success only to see his soulful singing go in vain.

Saawariya tends to remind one of Moulin Rouge with its musical trip and the splendors of its sets. This magical setting ironically vanishes into thin air like a puff of the magic wand with its realistic ending.

Ranbir Kapoor makes his mark as a promising new comer with his unique style. Some of his mannerisms and antics tend to make one reminisce about Raj Kapoor’s Awara. Sonam Kapoor looks refreshing with her pretty looks and smile yet is provided with a limited scope for acting due to the weak script. Rani Mukerjee is decent in her guest appearance proving to be much better than her similar role in her last release-Laaga Chunari mein Daag. Salman Khan is wasted in his cameo role. Music by Monty is melodious and soft. It certainly does not fail to strike the chord with its listeners who are transported into a different world altogether.

Some of the scenes display the dark side of love such as the one where Ranbir burns the letter given to him by Sakina on the bind of trust to be delivered to Iman. However the former in his streaks of burning jealously shatters the written communication to go up in flames only to be pricked by his conscience later. Also the scene where Ranbir goes up to Gulabji offering to be her customer to someone whom he acclaims as a friend much to the latter’s indignation and enragement bring out the grey shades of the passionate feeling.

The film’s arty stance tends to draw spells of boredom at times. It’s hyped up publicity lets down the expectations of the audience proving to be quite a disappointment for many. While Saawariya suffers from the lack of a powerful back up story, its enchanting surroundings at times makes up for it taking the viewers on an enigmatic journey and ensuring its ending, on a musical note.
Written for www.msn.co.in

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Wednesday, November 07, 2007

DeLIGHTFUL Diwali


-By Swetha Amit

http://content.msn.co.in/MSNContribute/Story.aspx?PageID=82ddc930-22f1-4e64-af77-aa2db629ea24


Crowds are flocking eagerly at the shopping arenas with a sparkle in their eyes. Jubilant and joyful, they find several reasons to crack up. Lightening up in every possible manner, the young and the old unite together for this scintillating festive occasion. A titter of laughter accompanies such enthusiastic beings like a faithful friend ensuring a happy state of mind always. The colorful array of lights, lamps and the display of fireworks seem to dispel the darkness caused by the evil both within and outside.

This festival falls on a new moon day in most years and is one of the most popular ones which has now spread to the other side of the world as well, thanks to the Indian diaspora. Diwali has arrived; to be celebrated with tremendous zest and an opportunity for many to have a BLAST.

Though being common festival among all Hindus, it is celebrated in different ways for varied reasons in various parts of the country, with the exception of Kerala. In the north, the day is marked to celebrate the return of Lord Ram to Ayodhya from his 14 year exile. The south commemorates the killing of Narakasura, an evil demon, by Lord Krishna's wife Satyabama .In the eastern parts, it is the completion day of the austerity by Goddess Shakti for 21 days to attain the left half of the form of Lord Shiva.

It is the beginning of new hope for the mankind to start afresh from the destructive times in the past. Buying of gold and precious metals marks the onset of the festival in many parts of the country. The day is dedicated to prosperity and success and people welcome the goddess of wealth – Lakshmi to their homes.

It also encourages artistic expressions in the form of home decorations adorning the floor with designs made out of colored powder,' Rangoli', dancing, singing, elocution are held thereby enhancing the talent display of the people. Rainbow colored rockets streaking through the clouds, lights up the skies on this dark night making their presence felt by the deafening sounds and wishing us in their own special FIERY way.It is also accompanied by exchange of mouth watering, sweets that are packed in attractive boxes.

It enlightens our minds towards bringing in unity and brotherhood with our own kith and kin, by brushing aside the petty differences and shedding our vile destructive enemy-EGO. It emphasizes the importance of retaining love in every heart and seeking blessings from our endearing and loving elders in the family. Nevertheless, it involves in not failing to wish our near and dear ones irrespective of the sour ties which need to be sweetened on this illuminating occasion.

The spirit of Diwali is essentially to lighten up people’s lives like the lamps that light up and adorn our homes. It is also an occasion to take time and make a difference to those souls who are unfortunately deprived of their families due to an untimely catastrophe. Eliminating the gloom of loneliness from their worlds for even a brief moment would generate the glow in their faces like the radiant flames on the earthen lamps. While we are showered with abundant love, good wishes and gifts on this day, such lives of these remorse souls are devoid of these prized possessions.

Noble gestures of visiting old aged homes/orphanages bring in immense joy as they look up with new eyes glistening like starlets as we hand over sweets/crackers/clothes. Seeing a ray of hope in the form of our little token of grace would propel brightness and a cheery stance into their solitary worlds, enlivening them up a bit.

Expressing our love to all, it’s a time to give and share, spread the joy around in the form of good thoughts and deeds and usher in happiness.

The true significance of Diwali can be put forth in these following lines expressed by Rabindranath Tagore” The night is black Kindle the lamp of LOVE with thy life and devotion.”

Happy Diwali!!!!!

Written for www.msn.co.in

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Monday, November 05, 2007

Grooming for attention?

-By Swetha Amit
The beginning of an Indian wedding scenario starts with the much anticipated arrival of the groom’s family. The bride’s party wait with garlands in their hands, tension writ on their anxious faces and a silent prayer on their lips which otherwise should have portrayed million dollar smiles, is unmistakably noticed here. Even the sweet fragrance of the scented flowers is unable to ease the stress-filled atmosphere and the welcome committee just hopes that the start is not fraught with the customary criticism that so envelopes the groom’s so -called "superior" side with a strange sadistic streak.

No sooner than the ‘guests’ arrive, their overt ‘might is right’ expression is exhibited like some proud artwork displayed in a museum. The awe and apprehension towards the groom’s side which existed several decades ago still continues to prevail in these so called modern and liberal times. Surprisingly even the most educated and exposed individuals continue to display such old fashioned stance probably due to pressure by their seniors or as a means of continuing an irrelevant trend.

The ‘fault finding’ syndrome seems have spread among these beings like a contagious common cold. Some trigger just sets off and the sniffing and fussing over minute details starts off. Whether it is complaining about the lighting in the rooms; the water heaters; failure of being asked a million times about their quota of beverages/snacks; scrutinizing and comparing saris and jewellery by the woman folk; the supposedly lack of hospitality by the caterers; inaccurate measure of salt/spice in the meals; the criticizing catastrophe continues like some uncalled due diligence which mars this otherwise festive celebration.

Adrenalin levels naturally tend to rise with the alarming voice of hue and cries for no rhyme or reason. It almost begins to feel that the bride’s party are mere pawns in the hands of their future ‘relatives’ who seem to enjoy seeing them squirm and wriggle like helpless birds in a cage.

The absence of laughter and smiles almost robs the fun and festivities associated with the rituals of a wedding. The lack of friendliness from the groom’s side worsens the situation when their snobbish stance makes the hosts feel like slaves during the era of the slave dynasty which ironically was abolished centuries ago. A wonderful occasion which is meant for enjoyment and zest by both parties unfortunately ends up like a war zone. .A final sigh of relief is heaved when the groom’s side leaves after the ceremony!

Marriage essentially denotes a partnership. Equality in every aspect must be enhanced right from the cost sharing to shouldering responsibilities in taking care of the guests from both sides. Today is a trend where women hold equal position and stature in society. This lack of equality is what has led many to be filled with remorse and disappointment over the birth of a girl child. Sometimes the fear of incurring the costs and failure to meet the growing expectations of the future alliances has instigated many to commit the heinous crime of killing the innocent female infant, sometimes even before it is born. Why give room for such murky evils to prevail?

While sensex zooms ahead over 20000 points and development in several areas is visible, we even talk about our country becoming a super power in a few years' time but are we really? It’s appalling to note such sluggish growth in these aspects. Justified existence of it years ago can be rationalized as the ancient customs and narrow attitude which were far from being groomed due to the lack of awareness and knowledge. But such instances in today’s ‘advanced’ world makes one pause to ponder and question about the occurrence of such ‘broadening of the minds’ in reality. It is sad to realize that only very few families have progressed in this aspect.

Its unfortunate to see the double standards that people adopt…. to enjoy the benefits the modern society offers,(like allowing the woman to work and get in that extra income..)yet refuse to move away from many other age old practices. Modernity does not necessarily manifest merely in the designer saris or expensive accessories’ or an Armani suit. The real essence of it is determined by the attitude with which the whole event is approached. It certainly does not involve the indulgence in petty fault finding and seeking attention in the process!!

It also does not include the indulgence of a petty comparative study between the so called ‘credentials’ of the bride and the groom portraying who is the better one. After all this isn’t a competition is it?

It is high time that we take a quick step to march ahead and attain the compatibility between changing times and our attitude. While we ensure this factor is prevalent in the prospective couple to be wedded, isn’t it essential to groom our approach and abolish the atrocity of the ‘attention’ syndrome?

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