Tuesday, January 29, 2008

‘Sunday’: Boredom all the way

-By Swetha Amit
After the mundane routine of the five day week, it is the weekend that many look forward to unwind and gear up for some enjoyment. However with such poor quality of hyped up entertainers with the pretext of tickling the funny bone and raising the expectations; one may as well be confined to their corporate drones and buzzes.

“What if one day went missing from your life?” as the film tagline says. However if one is left with nothing to do except watch a flick like Sunday, it’s certainly worth a miss.
The movie starts by portraying a gruesome murder of a young girl. And the police are on the ‘who dun it’ trail.

Seher (Ayesha Takia) is a dubbing artiste for animated films and is like any other fun loving girl next door. However things take a turn when she realizes her inability to recall her experiences of one particular Sunday. A bewildered Seher is even more alarmed when she is hounded for not paying a Taxi driver Ballu (Arshad Warsi) and being called a ghost by his friend Kumar (Irfan Khan).

It proves to be even more appalling when she is chased by rogues who are after her life. A distressed Seher turns to her prospective life partner ACP Rajvir Randhava (Ajay Devgan) to get to the bottom of these mysterious happenings. Munching his cone ice-cream and accepting bribes at every given opportunity; Rajvir manages to get to the bottom of this perplexing puzzle. In between these instances are romantic breaks with a soulful song which makes the viewers want to ask the filmmaker to take a break. Interrupting the momentum of the furtive flick are comical concealers by Arshad Warsi and unnecessary numbers with cameo roles by Tushar Kapoor and Esha Deol.

Ajay Devgan looks jaded as he finds solace in his cone ice-creams more than his on-screen image or his dialogue delivery. Ayesha Takia is apt as the bubbly Seher. While the story twists and turns at its slow pace, its Arshad Warsi and Irfan Khan who prove to be the saving grace of the film with a few comical moments. This is depicted in the scenes where Irfan Khan who is an aspiring actor is dressed in Ravan’s costume and chased down by a dog. Also the night escapade with the twosome and a drunken Ayesha Takia who takes them for a ride literally up to the spooky graveyard on the outskirts of Delhi is hilarious.

Music deserves a yawn after a slightly peppy start of the title track. Direction loses pace with the unwarranted numbers and certain sequences are dragged in order to fill the two and a half hour duration bracket. Plot thickens only to thin down like loose ends of a rope.

Rohit Shetty’s Sunday neither falls in the genre of comedy nor suspense. An attempt of combining the two finer elements results in an out of shape comic thriller which at times showcases unrelated aspects. The previous release ‘Golmaal’ by the same director seems to have been carried forward in a negative manner; making one realize that the ingredient of ‘Golmaal’ has been added in large doses. Especially when the final outcome does neither evoke laughter all the way nor retain the gripping factor of suspense.

‘Sunday’ which is usually associated with a 'fun' day, sadly turns out to be bored(ay)om all the way. Instead it can be utilized to catch up on some sleep which is bound to occur inside the cinema halls; the only difference is that one needn’t ‘pay’ for catching up on their forty winks.
Written for www.msn.co.in

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Monday, January 14, 2008

‘Halla Bol’: A revolutionary revelation



-By Swetha Amit

http://content.msn.co.in/MSNContribute/Story.aspx?PageID=b796b30f-e3fd-46de-a107-d4b13eee1f42
Great heights reached, often result in a crash landing especially when one gets lost in that starry space. No matter how high things are thrown; they are always pulled back by the gravitational force which acts as a reminder of the ‘ground reality’. Such is the case with people specially actors who get so immersed in their ‘reel’ lives that they almost lose touch with the ‘real’ world. To an extent that they fail in their obligations to raise their voice against ‘righteousness’ in the society.

Rajkumar Santoshi’s Halla Bol is a story of one such issue based on a horrendous incident and a star who fights against injustice, corruption and fraudulence.

Ashfaque (Ajay Devgan) is an aspiring actor who wants to earn name and fame in the tinsel town. With blessings from his Guru of his theatre group in street plays cum former dacoit- Sidhu (Pankaj Kapur) and his love interest Sneha’s support (Vidya Balan); he gradually makes it big as a superstar His popularity soars amongst his fans bringing about a change in him beyond just his screen name: Sameer Khan.

The excessive adulation and admiration entices Sameer into the make believe world of glamour and glitz. This lavish lifestyle results in him losing his integrity and values much to the dismay of his family and mentor. Distancing himself from his true self and supporters he continues his multiple ‘role playing’ until that one night at a page 3 party. A brutal murder of a girl leaves him stunned and things take a drastic turn. Justice is suppressed due to the witnesses turning mercilessly hostile as the guilty were none other than sons of politicians.

Torn between his stature and pricked conscience, Sameer finally refuses to be bought over by ‘power’. How he battles against danger with the support of Sidhu and group, to get the deserved verdict for the victim forms rest of the narrative and results in the rise of a true hero.

Halla Bol adopts a ‘hell-raiser’ stance. The ‘fight for justice’ ingredient forms the essence of a typical Rajkumar Santoshi product drawing similarities to his earlier films like Damini and Ghayal.

Ajay Devgan is very good as he transforms from a carried away star to that of a conscience pricked one with conviction. Vidya Balan makes a sound impact in her brief role. Pankaj Kapur is brilliant and powerful as a dacoit turned theatre artist who sends the audience in titters with some scenes and leaves them gaping in awe with the others.

Some stupendous sequences are indeed worthy of a special mention. The one where Ajay Devgan urinates on the ‘Persian carpet’ is hilarious and nevertheless manages to tickle the funny bone in this otherwise serious drama. The other scene where Vidya Balan retorts to the media hounding a rather uncomfortable Ajay Devgan with awkward questions is outstanding. Pankaj Kapur’s mild slash at Chadda’s proposition evokes a roar of laughter just as his thought provoking dialogue in the end makes one indulge in deep retrospection. While the first half moves at a rapid pace, the second half consists of irrelevant and unnecessary sequences which could have been avoided.

This film is certainly bound to make several rack their cognitive aspects with great concern. Its poignant message rings quite clear. Crime rates seem to be on the rise arising due to the failure of the ‘rise in our inner heroes’. The shocking reports of murders/attacks occurring with the public being mere spectators’ make hearts bleed as they realize the diminishing stance of humanity. It appears that the ‘reel life’ syndrome seems to have caught up with people that they behave as though watching a shooting of an action flick. Refusing to come to aid of our fellow humans, make us no less than criminals. And we assume partial responsibility for such mishaps by refusing to comply with our social and moral obligation.

While the world is getting entangled in the web of greed, power and malice, it depicts that it’s the truth that always triumphs beating away the glooms of these murky elements. It is a thorny encounter which one goes through in the pathway of righteousness.

Many such cases exist where the ‘famous’ can use their influence and bring about a turn in events yet choose to remain indifferent. It’s ironical that they fail to realize their true aura of a hero is reflected in indulging in these noble gestures.

Overall it’s a film portraying a revolutionary revelation to people and society which is bound to make them go ‘Halla Bol’.
Written for www.msn.co.in

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From peoples’ person to peoples’ car

-By Swetha Amit
Some gaps are better off not being bridged. However there are others which fall in the ‘bridge the gap’ category. This is especially so, when it involves the fulfillment of unrealized dreams and aspirations of the common man.

It was a keen observation of families riding on two-wheelers that ignited compassionate feelings in Mr. Tata. It invoked him to visualize a safe, affordable, all-weather form of transport for such a family.

Time has come for one to say goodbye to the humidity of helmets and wrap themselves around a seat belt; in the cozy warmth of an innovative car. It is a moment of shifting the balancing act from a bike to that of being behind a sleek steering. The lifestyle launch has propelled millions to hope for a safety and security factor in more than one way. Weathering the norms and storms of all kind, the highly technological vehicle has gradually entered into the market with splendor and style.

The Tata Nano has created ripples in the automobile industry world wide. A stupendous response is what welcomed this new entrant at the auto expo 2008. Many swarmed like bees to honey eager to get their hands on the ‘Nano’ which was booked in large numbers to be taken home to their respective ‘nannies’. It was evident that this ‘margin’nal utility seemed un’bounded’ by these remarkable reactions from people.

The suave look and its magnificent mileage of 20km/ltr prove to be a deadly combination. Being eco and economic friendly with its 1 lakh pricing and meeting the Euro-4 norms has carved a niche for itself. This ‘out of the box’ thinking has gained a competitive edge over others in the similar segment by giving its customers more space by a significant 21%. The 4 doors and generous 5 passengers seating along with its steel make up have assured its ‘hard core’ responsibility. Indeed it has slapped its critics hard, who were secretly hoping for this ‘dream’ to remain as one on an eternal basis. To an extent where the outcome exhibits that of a superior quality; eliminating away the whiffs of the foreseen ‘compromise’ controversy in turn.

It certainly ensures eliminating the nightmares of environmentalists as the chairman put it. The ‘concern’ expressed by the authorities ironically restricted itself only to the Nano especially when its reported to cause pollution lower than that of two wheelers and other four wheelers; the latter, some of which still do not adhere to the euro-3 norm.

The commendable project shows traces of similarity to that of the socially inclined Mr. Ratan Tata. Stylish and suave yet simple and down to earth: this makes him a cut above the rest. Yet not so high that he remains unreachable to the masses below.

This noble gesture has evoked jubilant feelings across the rural and urban sector as well. It has made the ‘middle class’ to look forward to a rise in their social stature and lifestyles. Comfort factor is attained by its moneys worth and will realize the ambitions of several of attaining ownership of a car at least once in their life time. When it all seemed like a distant dream like twinkling starlets beyond their reach especially with the climbing inflation.

While the concept of corporate social responsibility is emphasized by several companies; very few actually practice it. “Promises are promises” as the 70 year old chairman put it; he assured the ordinary stance of his dream to be nothing less than extraordinary it its utility. Many thrive and dwell upon profits while it takes one in a million to address the common issue of the common man. This is what probably makes Nano a ‘one in a million’ or rather ‘one in a lakh’ car in this case.
Written for www.msn.co.in

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Monday, January 07, 2008

Unfair play

-By Swetha Amit
http://content.msn.co.in/MSNContribute/Story.aspx?PageID=398605b7-f7b8-4297-a469-94a07f372228


Sports fields were once a great source of team spirit, fitness and healthy competition. However it is sad to see the increasing aspect of commercialization enticing the entire sportive essence. Such is the case with Cricket. Controversy which seems to be the second name earned for this game much to the dismay of its keen watchers and ardent fans.

The test match in Sydney is the last straw which has enraged people all over. A supposedly friendly game gradually turned into a war especially with the slurry and unwarranted abuses by the haughty kangaroos. The latter not only hurled derogatory remarks against their opposition but also lodged a complaint against them for racial abuse. It proved to be of immense disgust to millions to see the so called ‘mighty champions’ indulge in an amateurish and petty stance, equating them to squabbling school children.

It appeared that the Australians wanted to retain the sole proprietorship of the ‘Aggression tag’. Unable to withstand the equally aggressive game by the Indians has instigated them to resort to crass techniques to gain a ‘Psychological’ edge. A convenient case of ‘selective amnesia’ was developed along with the defense mechanism of ‘denial’. Instead of conducting themselves like professional, dignified players, the Kangaroos were no less than the stampeding crowd in the stands.

Not to mention, the umpires seemed to be enjoying this ‘horrendous hospitality of the hosts’. Refusing to consult the third umpire in certain crucial decisions; blind belief in the opposition skipper regarding his decision on Ganguly’s wicket; believing the Australian players’ statements and indulging in Harbhajjan’s ban; it appears that umpires and the referee need a crash course in ‘impartiality’ and ‘alertness’. It also proves that fitness tests need to administered on them in ‘every’ aspect as their sense of fairness seemed to have been left behind resulting in enormous failure. Or should there be a case of banning the umpire instead of a ‘strik’ing bowler?

These abhorrent instances have caused many to be indignant especially against Harbhajjan’s ban. A lack of video/audio proof certainly does NOT call for such a harsh measure. The men in blue have been subjected to unfair umpiring which has cost them an important game. It is sad to see the spirit of the game being snatched away for reasons such as insecurity and foul practices. A game should be a game for all including the ‘third party authorities’. Ensuring harmony and righteousness is of utmost importance to avoid leaving a bitter taste overall. Being prejudiced will rob the zest for the sport which will slowly withdraw the intensity and interest factor.

This disastrous day has indeed put the men in blue into the blues. Disappointment and disbelief have engulfed the Indians to an extent which has propelled them to feel morally down. Half heartedly they continue with this series only to save themselves of being stigmatized as ‘sore losers’.
While any game isn’t all about winning, it seems that the‘real losers’ have just proven themselves in a reprehensible manner with the lack of spirit of the game. It does not seem to be a gentleman's game any more...after all.

Written for www.msn.co.in
Appeared as story of the day

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