Akshay fooled Manoj and Neeraj fooled the audience

First of all, I express my gratitude towards esteemed esteemed reviewer and blogger Sam Sammy (better known as confusedsoul in the virtual world) for penning a review of Special 26 (2013). I did not write the review of this movie because my thoughts and opinion might contain spoilers and reveal the suspense of the movie to the readers thus spoiling their enjoyment sought through this movie. Hence I chose to write anything about this movie quite late.special-26-wallpaper-06-12x9.jpgSpecial 26 or Special Chhabbis (a group of twenty-six specially chosen people) is based on the real life event of the loot of the jewelry showroom of Tribhuvandaas Bheemji Jhaveri in the Opera House of Mumbai (then Bombay) on 19.03.1987. The specialty of the loot was that the robbers had posed as CBI officers giving the loot the look of a CBI raid on the showroom, taking away jewelry worth millions of rupees in the shape of the forfeiture of the unaccounted goods. For this purpose, the real robbers had used 26 fake probationers of CBI, ‘recruiting’ them through a fake interview just one day before and telling them that that raid was a ‘practical test’ for them.

Popular Hindi novelist Ved Prakash Sharma used this incident in his suspense thriller novel – Jurm Ki Maa (crime’s mother) which was published in 1989. The novel depicts a very sharp-minded lady as the mastermind behind that fake raid who later gets caught by the same cop whom she had used as ‘the official help’ to conduct that raid. However the real life robbers were never caught. But this incident gave Neeraj Pandey, the filmmaker a plot to make a thriller movie which came in the form of Special Chhabbis.Special-26-MovieNeeraj Pandey has shown that there is a group of four conmen who pose themselves as CBI officers or income tax officers and conduct sudden (fake) raids on the business houses and residences of corrupt govt. officials and ministers. The ‘confiscated’ currency notes and jewelry is their booty with which they vanish in the thin air sans the robbery being reported to the police because of its being black money. They are fond of slapping people also while conducting the raid nay robbery. And they are very much proud of this act of theirs too as if they were doing something laudable. Coming from different cities, they assemble only for this joint venture of theirs whenever it is planned by their leader – Ajay (Akshay Kumar). After such a raid at the residence of a minister in Delhi on the Republic Day of India in 1987, the matter reaches the real CBI and an honest and dedicated CBI officer – Wasim Khan (Manoj Bajpayee) starts trailing them. By taping the phone of one member of the gang – P.K. Sharma (Anupam Kher), he comes to know of a big robbery planned to be conducted in the jewelry showroom at the Opera House of Mumbai (Bombay) and also the drama of recruitment of 26 youngsters to use them as ignorant accomplices in this loot. But despite his knowledge of everything, the loot takes place. His team of 26 cops proves to be the Special 26 for the robbers (and not the recruits) which is used by the mastermind as the ignorant accomplice for the job. Instead of the showroom, the workshop of the owners gets looted where the jewelry of the showroom had been shifted by the real CBI.00368e1d5-1First let me jot down the pluses of the movie in a nutshell (because their trumpet has been blown by several reviewers quite loud). The filmmaker has created the period of the eighties with almost perfection on the screen which is a great job and deserves high accolades. The performers have done exceedingly well especially Manoj Bajpayee who from every angle, appears to be a no-nonsense CBI officer. The movie contains good humour and Ajay’s demonstrating his quick-wit in an unexpected adverse situation is highly impressive. The director has maintained the momentum of the narrative throughout, keeping the audience hooked (with the exception of the utterly superfluous romantic track). It’s a very interesting movie, no doubt. Music is also good.

I have asserted in my review of 3 Idiots (2009) that sometimes the audience as well as the reviewers are carried away by the pluses of some movie in such a way that they simply overlook the minuses. The same has happened in the case of Special Chhabbis. Almost all the viewers and the reviewers (including me) got so much carried away by the entertainment value and bringing the era of the eighties alive on the screen that they (perhaps unknowingly) bypassed the minuses of this movie which are no less in number than the pluses.

The filmmaker has not bothered to explain the reason behind this robbery act of the characters except a (probably false) explanation furnished about Ajay’s failing to make it to the CBI years back which led him to become a fake CBI officer. Very less is told about the personal lives of these foursome except the family life of P.K. Sharma containing his wife and several children (mocking the norm of small family because despite their advancing years, P.K. Sharma and his wife are shown as going to have one more child). Besides, he has glorified the crime as if it were some noble cause and (undesirably) mocked the honesty of the real CBI officer in the end. The ladies in the lives of the foursome are shown as aware of their profession with no objection to it.

The real CBI officer shifts the jewelry of the showroom to the workshop, replacing it with imitation jewelry. Why ? When the robbers were going to be caught red-handed, what’s need for that ? When 26 fake CBI recruits were required due to the loot being huge this time, how could the foursome handle it on their own, leaving the so-called special 26 ones waiting in the bus ?

Neeraj Pandey had earlier made A Wednesday (2008) which was laudable because its theme was a common man’s declaration of war against terrorism at his individual level. However just like A Wednesday, he has tried to create an unexpected twist in the climax of this movie in order to give a shock treatment to the audience. However since in case of this movie, the story is a real life incident, he had to amend it to create the desired shock value. And that’s where the real flaw appears before the viewer after he has been entertained for more than two hours. This shock is less for the real CBI officer who has been made a fool by the conmen, more for the audience who has been fooled like anything by the filmmaker. It is revealed in the end that the cops who were posing as the ignorant accomplices of the con-gang are actually fake and their real accomplices. How can one digest it because the fake cop (Jimmy Shergill) himself brings the case to the real CBI and himself furnishes the identity and the Chandigarh address of P.K. Sharma (Anupam Kher) enabling the real CBI officer (Manoj Bajpayee) to tape his phone and thereafter trail and nail him ? This is as good as hitting axe on own foot. Besides, when the actual address of Sharma is known to the CBI, how can he escape now ? He has a very large family and establishment behind him. Just like Raju Hirani in 3 Idiots, Neeraj Pandey has also challenged the intelligence of his audience and fooled them.downloadIn no review of this movie (except the one on Koimoi.com) did I find this flaw of the movie being highlighted. What does it mean ? Do we enjoy being made fool just because the filmmaker has entertained us very much ? And is this why that instead of complaining, we start going gaga over the movie and singing praises for the conman, i.e., the filmmaker ?

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It’s partially a predecessor to Ghajini

During the fifties, sixties and seventies, Bollywood boasted of good script-writers. There were specific story departments in the film companies where full time writers worked relentlessly on scripts. That’s why several novel ideas used to emerge for making feature films upon them after they were developed into interesting screenplays. During the seventies, Salim-Javed emerged as high-profile script-writers who wrote a number of action-dramas and virtually, they were the makers of the Angry Young Man – Amitabh Bachchan, who went on to become the biggest ever star of the Indian screen in due course of time. The fairytale like emergence of Salim-Javed sent the writers of original stories into oblivion because this duo did not bother to think and write anything original and instead, used to prepare scripts by adapting foreign movies in Indian set-up. And that trend continued not only during their reign but thereafter also and is still continuing. By the end of the eighties, originality had taken a back-seat and gradually people used to forget about old movies too. Their re-releases stopped with the advent of cable TV and by the end of the nineties, there came a time when people virtually forgot what were the stories of many interesting movies that had come during the bygone decades. It became a bonanza for the copycats because they could copy the stories of many forgotten old movies and make new movies, putting old wine in new bottle. Why to tax your mind for thinking something original when so much stuff is available in the archives to plagiarize and gain unearned success (which the poor original thinkers could not gain) ?

Ghajini (2008) is a highly successful movie which was first made in Telugu in 2005 with Surya in lead role and then remade in Hindi with Aamir Khan in lead role, by the same director (A. Murugadoss), casting the same heroine (Asin) and the same villain (Pradeep Rawat) in respective roles. The critics and reviewers could correctly trace the origins of the main story of Ghajini to Hollywood movie – Memento (2000) but what about its rom-com track ? Ghajini is not just the action-packed revenge saga, it has a romantic track also which not only forms the basis of the revenge-based main story but also provides relief moments in the movie, showcasing the talent of Asin. What about its origins? Well, let me clarify it in this review. The complete script of the rom-com aspect of Ghajini is a straightaway lift from a very old Bollywood movie – Sajan (1969) starring Manoj Kumar and Asha Parekh.downloadSajan pronounced as Saajan (lover) is the story of a theatre artist, Rajni (Asha Parekh) who comes from a modest background. She is fatherless and has been brought up by her mother (Sulochana) alone. One day, to avoid getting late on her job, she seeks lift from a person – Baalam (Om Prakash) who is actually the driver of a wealthy businessman, Ashok (Manoj Kumar). Her employer as well as the colleagues get a wrong impression that she is close to Ashok because she has come to the theatre in his car. To save the financially sinking company and her job, she starts pretending to be the sweetheart of Ashok and this rumour becomes the headlines of tabloids. Ashok is very unhappy to read the false reports in the newspapers and approaches Rajni to seek explanation. But he falls for her charms and instead of revealing his true identity, fakes as a journalist before her. And after some romantic and comic incidents in the script, their love story reaches the point where Rajni’s mother and Ashok’s father agree for their union and they get engaged. Now comes the twist in the tale which lays the foundation of the utterly different second half of the movie.

A wicked person who poses himself as a respected businessman, Seth Dharamdaas before the world but is actually a criminal – Sheru (Madan Puri) starts blackmailing Rajni’s mother on the basis of the fact that Rajni’s father was his accomplice in crimes and presently he is a jailbird. He threatens Rajni’s mother that if he is not paid the demanded money, he will tell this fact to Ashok’s father and then Rajni won’t be able to marry Ashok. Rajni’s mother asks her to extract money from Ashok. Highly surprised Rajni keeps a vigil on her mother and finds her as meeting clandestinely with Sheru aka Dharamdaas. The next morning Dharamdaas is found as shot dead in his house. Investigating police officer (Raj Mehra) interrogates Rajni, Ashok and Baalam for this murder but gets shocked like anything when all of them confess for the murder separately. Evidences are also there against each one out of this threesome. Then who actually killed Dharamdaas ? The courtroom drama taking place in the climax, furnishes the answer to this ticklish question.sajanJust like Ghajini, Saajan also contains two completely different tracks rendering two entirely different types of entertainment to the audience. The first half is a very very interesting romantic comedy which stands on its own. Actually, it was remade as a full-fledged comedy movie – Pasand Apni Apni (1983) with Mithun Chakraborty and Rati Agnihotri in lead roles. And it’s this part which has been completely plagiarized in Ghajini.Sajan-PAA-GhaziniThe second half, like Ghajini, is entirely different from its counterpart. It’s an engaging murder mystery which reminds of some Agatha Christie work. The police investigation, three different versions of the murder coming to fore through confessions of three different individuals and finally the court-room drama; all combine to a grand treat for the mystery lovers. Saajan, therefore, is a two-in-one entertainment. It renders a wholesome entertainment studded with songs, comedy and romance in the first half and follows it up with a brilliant murder mystery in the second half.sajan-indian-movie-posterTechnically the movie is up-to-the-mark. It’s around two and a half hours long but it doesn’t bore at any place. Director Mohan Segal has done his job pretty well. The different scenes culminating into the death of the murder-victim have been presented very skilfully and despite the complete struggle between the victim and the (confessing) murderer goes in different manners for different people, the dying moment of the victim is uniform which is something very impressive and proves to be intriguing for the spectator.14696Laxmikant Pyarelaal have composed good music for the movie. The duet of Lata and Rafi – Resham Ki Dori and the title track – Saajan Saajan Pukaroon Galiyon Mein (sung separately by both Lata and Rafi) are pretty impressive. Bansuri Tihari Nandlaal (Asha) and Aye Mere Meherbaan (Lata) are also quite good. The songs have been shot and choreographed also quite nicely.Sajan-1969-500x500.jpgPerformances are average. Neither Manoj Kumar nor Asha Parekh has ever been considered a great on-screen performer. However they are not bad either and they pull the script satisfactorily with able support from the supporting cast. Alongwith the lead pair, Om Prakash has also done good comedy. This was the first released movie of Shatrughan Sinha who has played the role of a policeman in this movie.

Despite the blockbuster success, Ghajini as a whole was not meant for everyone due to its excessive violence. The rom-com part is the same in Saajan and instead of the violence-filled revenge saga of a patient of short-term memory loss, it presents a refined murder mystery in its remaining part, thus making the overall product more satisfying than Ghajini. It’s meant for both kinds of audiences – the rom-com lovers as well as the mystery lovers.

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Entering married life post own molestation

Rape is the most heinous crime by which a rapist male crushes not just the body of the victimized female but also her soul. The patriarchal social set up in India as well as in several other parts of the world puts a premium on the chastity of a woman and therefore a raped woman is considered something like spoiled stuff and thus whether or not the culprit gets the punishment, the victim positively gets punished by the society and more so by herself through her own guilt-complex. She tortures herself by thinking that now she is impure and not fit to be someone’s wife or love-interest. That’s the tragedy of this crime which has led to making of several Bollywood movies. Today I am reviewing one such movie only which seems to be a romantic movie by its title but mostly it is an intense drama based on the trauma of the rape of a woman who is all set to marry the love of her life. This admirable movie is Aap Aye Bahaar Ayee (1971).59120.jpgAap Aaye Bahaar Aayee (primavera has arrived alongwith you) starts with the love story of Rohit (Rajendra Kumar) and Neena (Sadhana). They decide to marry. Meantime Rohit’s friend Kumar (Prem Chopra) also sends his marriage proposal to Neena with his photograph and to his utter humiliation, Neela tears off his photograph even without casting a look at it. This sense of humiliation and defeat turns Kumar into a maniac and he rapes Neena. Now Neena, considering herself as impure, is no longer willing to marry Rohit. However Rohit does not leave her and marries her. She gives birth to a son which, in all probability, is a result of the rape imposed on her by Kumar. Now Neena is living the life of a wife and a mother with all the social respect and her husband’s abundant love being avaiable to her but the thing is that the woman in her has died an untimely death. However Rohit, being a true lover, is ever-trying to keep her happy by all means and he has no issues with the kid also whom he gives all the fatherly love that he has in his heart. The story again gets a twist when years later, Kumar comes back to complete his revenge (he had lost an eye in the post-rape tussle that he had with Rohit). The climax takes the baddie to the destination he deserves and renders security and happiness to the aggrieved family.download (2)Aap Aaye Bahaar Aayee starts just like a regular romantic movie made in the style of the sixties and we find the lead pair interacting like their earlier romantic movies. However a few reels later, the movie turns serious and the trauma resulting from Neena’s rape takes the driver’s seat for the narrative to move ahead. The movie is an engrossing one though the tension post the rape makes it a bit heavy. I contrast the rape incident and its aftermath in the conjugal life of the lead pair with that shown in an earlier movie – Satyakaam (1969). In Satyakaam also, the raped lady, despite abundant unconditional love of her husband for her, is not able to establish normal conjugal relations with him because of the negative effect of rape on her mind and heart. And an interesting trivia is that in Satyakaam also, the name of the rapist is Kumar only.Aap Aaye Bahaar AyeeDirector Mohan Kumar has handled the sensitive subject very well and underscored the significance of the people who genuinely love the raped lady, in her life. Through the character of Neena, he has very accurately portrayed that though the love of the close ones is able to apply ointment on the wound on her soul, finally the biggest healer is time only and nothing else. Despite application of love and sympathy, it may take years for the victimized lady to be normal within her heart. And that calls for a lot of patience on the part of those who love her, who live with her and who console her. The narrative moves steadily and finally, leaves a strong impact on the heart of the audience who start empathizing with the victim and her beloveds. It also underscores this fact that the attitude of the people should be positive and sympathetic towards the child who might take birth as a result of such crime. After all, that kid is an innocent one and had no hand in his birth. Then why should he suffer ? Rape is a sin but who is the sinner ? The rapist is the sinner, not the rape-victim or the child thus born.527In my reviews of relatively recent movies like Raavan and Red Alert (both released in 2010), I have raised the question as to why rapes take place at all. There may be many reasons behind it, depending upon case to case as to which reason is applicable in which case. Aap Aaye Bahaar Aayee highlights that hurting of ego and a sense of defeat (plus the associated humiliation) may also lead to such heinous crime by the concerned male. Considering the biological vulnerability of a female, the best revenge that a male can seek from her is rape only which once done, cannot be undone. In India, several rape incidents take place in which the culprits are the losing lovers. It is a lesson for the ladies also that refusals or turning down of marriage or love proposals should be polite and not hard-hitting. You have a right to refuse but the prudent thing is not to hurt the self-respect or the ego of the proposer while forwarding your refusal. Anyway, this is my viewpoint. The lady readers are free to dissent.AapAayeBaharaayeNow with the changing times at least in terms of mentality of both the men and the women, the womenfolk should bear in their mind that getting raped by misfortune is not to be considered as the end of their life or happiness. They should face this reality with courage and make a fresh start of their life. When the rapist does not feel any guilt for whatever he has done, why should they feel any guilt about it when the sin took place with their physic without their will and therefore, it was an imposed one ? Every such female may not be fortunate like Neena of Aap Aaye Bahaar Aayee who gets such a sincere lover who marries her and stands by her in all the bad times including the rape and after. She should not lose heart all the same. After all, life is more precious than anything else. And times are bound to change. One never knows what is in store for him / her in the times to come.download (1)This admirable movie got further elevation through the brilliant performances of the lead actors. Both Rajendra Kumar and Saadhana have done very well with outstanding on-screen chemistry between them. Both were past the peak of their careers as lead actors at the time of this movie. However they have made this last movie done together by them a memorable one. Prem Chopra as the villain is also perfect. He has portrayed the jealousy and sense of humiliation in Kumar with finesse. The complete supporting cast alongwith the child artist has done its part well.imagesTechnically the movie is in order. Cinematography, art direction, choreography, action and thrills, editing and background score, everything is satisfactory. Length of the movie is also apt considering the norm prevailing in that period. downloadLaxmikant Pyarelaal’s music alongwith Anand Bakshi’s lyrics is also a big plus point of this movie. All the songs – the title track (Saare Zamaane Pe Mausam Suhaane Pe), Koyal Kyun Gaaye, Poochhe Jo Koi Mujhse Bahaar Kaisi Hoti Hai, Taare Kitne Neel Gagan Pe etc. are ear-soothing ones. The best song is definitely Mujhe Teri Mohabbat Ka Sahaara Mil Gaya Hota which signifies the essence of the movie.Aap Aaye Bahaar Ayee2Aap Aaye Bahaar Aayee is a praiseworthy movie which is many notches above many other movies made on this theme. It was a box office hit and could have fared even better had it been made prior to the era of Rajesh Khanna. The audience of golden oldies should not miss it.

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A horror-soaked spellbinding mystery

Surendra Mohan Pathak is a Hindi mystery writer. He pens suspense-based novels and not horror-based ones. Sunil Series has been his most prominent series of novels in which a press reporter plays the hero and solves the mystery, if any. Quite surprisingly, he has written a novel under this series which is not only suspense-filled but also very very scary and should not be read by weak-hearts during the dark hours. This admirable novel is Kaali Haveli (black mansion).Kaali-Haveli-Surendra-Mohan-Pathak-925667240-435994-1Kaali Haveli is based on the mysterious events taking place in a very old mansion (Haveli) situated on an islet at some distance from the sea shore. The nearest residential area from that Haveli is Devgaam, a village of fishermen known mainly for a fishery there and a seasonal fall (active in the rainy season only) for which it is said that by bathing with its water, many skin diseases are cured. Devgaam is populated by fishermen only and that populace does not seem to be welcoming outside visitors at its place.

The mansion is called as Kaali Haveli because it is around 400 years old (built by some king of that islet in that time) and despite its durability, the battlement of the mansion has turned black with the passage of time. Still it is more or less like a fortress containing 120 rooms and many floors coupled with a minaret though now its impenetrability is doubtful because one floor (which is near the sea-surface) has collapsed some time back and whenever the sea is on a rise or storms arrive, sea-water enters in that part of the Haveli. Therefore that part is no longer fit for residence.925667240s.jpgThe story starts with the journey of the hero – Sunil to Devgaam where he reaches amidst rainfall and his car has a breakdown in a village on the way. Our journalist hero is personally very close to a famous criminal lawyer, Mr. Chatterjee whose firm – ‘Chatterjee and Mukherjee’ is the biggest law-firm of the metropolitan city of Rajnagar (the fictitious city created by the author for this series of novels). The owner of Kaali Haveli, Thakur Joravar Singh has approached Mr. Chatterjee for help because a guest of the Haveli, Vikram Singh had mysteriously disappeared some days back and nothing has been heard of him since then. Thakur Joravar Singh is fond of paintings and a big art-collector. He has collected a lot of scarce and therefore, precious paintings. Vikram Singh himself was a painter and had come back from France after devoting a few years there in refining his art only. He spent just a night in the Haveli and suddenly disappeared. Though apparently he had used the motor-boat of Thakur Joravar Singh for reaching the shore and thereafter his car also for reaching the city but Thakur Saheb feels he has been a victim of some foul-play and seeks the help of Mr. Chatterjee who assigns the responsibility of finding out the truth to Sunil. That’s why Sunil reaches Devgaam after a lot of difficulty and is now in search of some means to reach the Haveli.

In Devgaam, Sunil spends some time in a hotel-cum-restaurant run by an old Goani man and his young daughter, Lucy. He is surprised to see that instead of helping him in reaching the Haveli, almost everybody in the restaurant is interested in sending him back. A seemingly dangerous person, Michael first advises (like others) him to go back to the city by catching a train from a nearby railway station but when finds him hell-bent upon reaching the Haveli that night itself, he gives him a skiff so that he could cross the watery distance between the shore and the Haveli through that, using the oars. Since the sea is on a rise; the night is dark, rainy and stormy and there are high rocks in that watery path; the skiff of our hero meets with a mishap but before falling unconscious he feels that a lady is saving him from drowning in the sea. Coming back to his senses, he finds himself near the gate of Kaali Haveli and finally enters it.

In the Haveli, the most shocking fact that comes to Sunil’s knowledge is that the owner of Kaali Haveli, i.e., Thakur Joravar Singh has been blind for a long time. The other two residents of that gargantuan mansion are Thakur Saheb’s nephew, Jaipaal who spends most of his time in the city (Rajnagar) and the lone in-house servant, Bhoopat. After a brief talk with Thakur Saheb, Sunil apparently retires to bed after getting a caveat from both Jaipaal and Bhoopat that there are ghosts in the Haveli. He gets likewise experiences too during the night but the most terrifying thing is the falling of a large and heavy stone on his bed which he escapes due to his good-luck and caution. The whole combined experience of the bygone evening and the night in and out of the Haveli tells him that there’s something fishy in the whole affair which is being portrayed by different people as supernatural. He returns to the city and seeks the help of his close friend – Ramakant Malhotra and his confidante employees – Jauhari, Dinakar, Rakesh, Mohan etc. in investigating the things. One of them – Jauhari arrives at Devgaam as a tourist willing to cure his skin disease by bathing in the famous fall whereas the other one – Dinakar becomes a servant in the Haveli. After many cabalistic and scary incidents, Sunil and his team is able to lift curtain from all the secrets and bring the truth to the fore.

I have read the first edition of this novel (published in 1976) whose very first page clearly states – ‘A hair-raising novel. Please do not read it in the night’. Though it is not applicable to me (I read it during the night-hours itself) but may be true for a reader with a weak heart. Not only that many of the incidents of the novel are scary but putting it straight, the whole environment of the novel right from the opening scene to the climax, itself is full of suspense and horror. Heartbeats are bound to be fast when going through the story. There is nothing supernatural in the story because the logically thinking author does not believe in the supernatural and has unravelled the mystery as something man-made only. Secrets are unmasked one after another and the whole issue becomes clear to the reader gradually. The more you read further, the more the things become clearer to you.

This is not a typical novel of Sunil series because the story does not move alongside the hero and there are many scenes which do not feature him. The journalist version of the hero is also not there. In addition to the hero, there are many significant characters in the novels who leave their impact no less in the story. Other than the human-beings, an ape is also an important character of the novel. But the most significant character, in my opinion, is a neutral one – Kaali Haveli itself, in other words, the character playing the title role. Kaali Haveli is a gargantuan structure which is more or less a fortress of the bygone era, containing basements as well as secret paths for entering and exiting it and also for moving into the minaret which is an integral part of it. The Haveli is the pivotal point of this novel and the sea in which it is situated, also plays an important role in the narrative.

The language used is as full of suspense as the story is. Since the author has not kept the novel as hero-centric and allowed all the living and the non-living characters to develop properly, the narrative engrosses the reader from the very first word and keeps him / her as hypnotized till the climax. If you are sick of the so-called horror movies, then better enter Kaali Haveli.

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Stone is the response to brick

Eent Ka Jawaab Patthar (when someone throws a brick at you, the best response is to throw a stone at him) is a Hindi maxim used for the expression of ‘Tit for Tat’ or to pay back in the same coin. An interesting Hindi movie was made with this title which I am reviewing today.

Eent Ka Jawab Patthar (1982) is a revenge saga with nothing extra-ordinary about it but this Bollywood potboiler has a taut script which consists of an engrossing courtroom drama and is duly supported by some admirable performances. I had watched it first when it was used to be telecast very frequently on Sony TV under the Cine Matinee time slot and recently I watched it on internet. Sadly, I found the internet version as moth-eaten with several scenes missing or shortened. And that’s why continuity jerks appear before the viewer watching this version.

Eent Ka Jawaab Patthar starts with the love story of Lakshmi (Neeta Mehta) who is the sister of a corrupt lawyer and who is also the Deewaan (a senior official working for the state, taking care of mainly the financial affairs) of the king of a princely state and Maadho Singh (Surendra Pal) who is a naval officer. Deewaan loots the treasure of the princely state by keeping the king unmindful of the happenings around through alcohol and the charms of a courtesan named as Rajni. Deewaan and his criminal associates work with a smuggler named as Sevak Raam (Premnaath) and a corrupt cop (Raza Murad) helps them. Finally, Deewaan and his associates not only kill the king by poisoning him through Rajni but also trap Maadho Singh who is after their smuggling activities, in a false murder case. Maadho Singh is sentenced to life imprisonment whereas Deewaan arranges the marriage of Lakshmi to the corrupt cop who is hand-in-glove with him in all his wrongdoings.

Maadho Singh flees from jail after ten years and then destiny makes him wealthy and capable to settle scores with his wrongdoers after further ten years. He re-enters their lives with a new identity and starts seeking his revenge. Nobody identifies him in his present get-up except his ex-flame Lakshmi who is now the mother of a grown-up daughter (Nameeta Chandra). Situation takes such a turn that her beau who is a fake prince (Adil Amaan) is trapped in the charge of a murder. Maadho Singh seeks the services of an honest cop (Amjad Khan) who was earlier a lawyer, to fight the case as the defense counsel of that innocent youth and during the hearing of this case, the twenty years old case in which Maadho Singh was the accused, also gets reopened. After a brilliant courtroom drama, Maadho Singh completes his revenge but gets killed in the hands of his ex-flame Lakshmi only.

The script of this revenge saga is studded with all the regular Bollywood formulae but still it is well-knitted and admirable, capable of keeping the audience engrossed. Plot-holes which are a specialty of all the Bollywood crime-thrillers, are there but skillfully written script keeps the viewer glued to the screen except for some useless songs which interrupt the flow of the narrative. The start-cast is B grade but the movie renders A class entertainment if we ignore its minuses including the songs, plot-holes and untied loose ends. Director Pachhi has handled the script well. The best part of the movie is undoubtedly the courtroom drama taking place in the final 30 minutes.Technically the movie is okay. I found continuity jerks but it’s because the full version of the movie is not available on the internet (and the Shemaroo CD through which it’s been uploaded). Those who are able to watch the full version aren’t likely to find the continuity problems in the movie.

Shankar Jaikishan (Shankar only because Jaikishan had passed away long back) have delivered completely forgettable music and it is hard to believe that this is Shankar-Jaikishan’s music. It would have been better had many of the songs been removed from the movie.

Surendra Pal has done well in the lead role of Maadho Singh. He not only possesses a dashing personality but is also a good actor. He got famous by playing Dronachaarya in B.R. Chopra’s serial Mahabhaarat in later years and then became a character actor. He is one of those talented ones who don’t get the right break at the right time. Neeta Mehta has always been labelled as a B grade heroine but I never found her acting badly. Here also, she has done pretty well. Amjad Khan in a positive role is very impressive especially in the final phase of the movie. Legendary actor Om Prakash is also very effective in a meaty role. All the other supporting cast members as well as the villains including Premnaath are okay.

The ending scene of the movie in which Maadho Singh, in his dying moment, fills the hair-parting of Lakshmi, now a widow, with his blood, touched me like anything and left an indelible imprint on my heart (perhaps because I am a very emotional person).

I recommend this interesting movie to the regular entertainment-seekers as a one time watch.

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The sound of the ankle-bell

Among the three Anand brothers of Bollywood, Chetan Anand always remained a highly respected film-director whereas Dev Anand remained an evergreen romantic hero. The youngest brother – (Late) Vijay Anand (popularly known as Goldie) was also a respected director like his elder brother Chetan and presented gems like Guide (1965), Teesri Manzil (1966), Jewel Thief (1967) and Tere Mere Sapne (1971) through his great direction. However like his another elder brother Dev, he was also fond of acting and to cater to his acting interest, he did a few Bollywood movies as an actor viz. Haqeeqat (1964), Tere Mere Sapne (1971), Kora Kagaz (1974), Main Tulsi Tere Aangan Ki (1978) etc. One such movie is Ghungroo Ki Awaaz (1981) which is a suspense thriller. It was made under the family banner of the Anands – Navketan and directed by Tulsi and Shayam Ramsay.MV5BM2U5YmFmYjktZDg1ZC00MGY0LTk2ZDYtNDA4NWZjMWNmMTRiXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMjM4ODUxNTM@._V1_UY268_CR7,0,182,268_AL_Ghunghroo Ki Aawaaz (the sound of the ankle-bell) starts with a double murder committed by the hero – Thakur Ranjeet Singh (Vijay Anand) who is the heir of an erstwhile princely state and lives with his maternal uncle – Thakur Jasbir Singh (Dr. Shreeram Lagoo) who is the only living relative of his. The double murder committed by him is of a courtesan – Kaajal (Rekha) whom he loved very much (that’s why he had brought her to his palace) and her supposed clandestine lover – Shaakaal (Dheeraj Kumar). However after the murder, he starts hearing the sound of the ankle-bells of Kaajal (because she was a courtesan) and seeing her spirit (who talks to him also) which keeps on haunting him every night. His maternal uncle hushes up the police case and advises him to change the climate by moving out of the estate for quite some time. Ranjeet Singh moves to Mumbai, taking a break from the estate life and going away from the spirit of Kaajal. Now comes the twist in the tale.

In Mumbai, Ranjeet Singh happens to meet Kiran who is the look-alike of Kaajal. He gets confused but while coming back from Mumbai to his place, he brings Kiran with him as his nurse. Now a new chain of events start in the estate, creating a number of hallucinations for Ranjeet Singh. Finally, he gets mentally disturbed to this much extent that he is shifted to an asylum. However he gets out of the asylum and starts searching for the truth behind the spirit of Kaajal and the sound of her ankle-bells. Finally the mystery gets unravelled before him.downloadGhunghroo Ki Aawaaz was directed by the horror-kings of Bollywood during the seventies and the eighties – the famous Ramsay brothers. However this is not a horror movie. This is a suspense movie. It starts on an interesting note and keeps the viewer hooked for the major part of it. Only the climax is a letdown. The plot of this movie appears to be partially inspired by the classic mystery of Raj Khosla – Woh Kaun Thi (1964) and partially inspired by the classic mystery of Alfred Hitchcock – Vertigo (1958). A few good songs and a good climax would have turned it into a much better flick.

This old-fashioned mystery can be called a pure mystery sans all other Bollywood formulae – comedy, romance and action. Therefore, despite some songs, there is little relief for the viewer during the suspense-filled drama. Since this is not a classic mystery, some relief would have helped making it spicy and interesting according to the taste of the regular (Indian) movie buffs.download (1)Technically the movie is good. A mysterious environment has been maintained throughout that part of the movie which takes place in the estate. Since there is no comedy or romance, it is free from superfluous scenes and not unduly long. The director has revealed the suspense to the audience before it is revealed upon the hero in the story which has weakened the final sequence of the movie. Due to this directorial mistake, the viewer’s interest in the final reel (the last 10-15 minutes) gets nullified. In fact, the presentation of the very last scene appeared a bit irritating to me. I feel, had Vijay Anand himself directed this story (instead of the Ramsay brothers), he would have made it in a much better way.Ghungroo-Ki-AwaazR.D. Burman’s music is passable. Only the title track which is a good suspense song – O Mere Humraaz, Kaisa Hai Ye Raaz (sung by Kishore Kumar), remains in memory after the movie is over.download (2)Vijay Anand was not just a great director, he was a good actor too. He has proved it in all the roles played by him in different movies. In Ghunghroo Ki Aawaaz also, he does not disappoint. In fact, it is his movie only. Rekha has performed in two different personalities (of Kaajal and Kiran) and being a great actress, she has done well. Others including Dr. Shreeram Lagoo, Leela Mishra, Padma Khanna, Dheeraj Khumar, Iftekhar, Pinchoo Kapoor etc. have also performed satisfactorily according to the requirement of the assigned roles.

I recommend this long-forgotten mystery to all the mystery-fans who like to watch pure mysteries (without other attractions in the script). I also recommend it to the fan-following of Vijay Anand and Rekha.

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Cocktail ? No, it’s actually a mocktail

Cocktail (2012) was not only a blockbuster but accolades were showered upon it by several reviewers. I watched it quite late. I was expecting it to be as good as Love Aaj Kal (2009) but my expectations were not fulfilled.MV5BOTQ2ZGI4ZTUtN2RmNy00MDBjLTg0MjgtODJkMjhhMDY2NmUxXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNDUzOTQ5MjY@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,690,1000_AL_
It’s a hackneyed story containing the love triangle of one boy and two girls. But the problem is that the boy is no longer a boy. I have always been an admirer of Saif Ali Khan and never in any earlier movie, I have found him so irritating and dislikable. It’s not his fault, it’s the casting director’s fault who alongwith him, conveniently overlooked this fact that age has taken over him and now he appears too old to play the role of a lover boy. His role is akin to his role in Yeh Dillagi (1994) but the thing is that at the time of Yeh Dillagi, Saif was in his early twenties whereas now he is in his forties. The aggravated trouble is that in this movie he is actually in his early forties but his face appears to be that of a man in his late forties.

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The director – Homi Adjania seems to have got confused between making a comedy and making a serious love story. That’s why where the first half is something like a comedy containing everything over the top, the second half is an intense love triangle. The first half does not deserve to be called a rom-com. Instead, it should be called an irricom (i.e., an irritating comedy). At many places, during the first half I could not understand as to what the director is willing to show and why he is wasting time. He could have saved a few reels in the first half (and the second half as well) and made a shorter movie.

The second half is better and emotionally appeals but again, it contains some unexplainable things. The hero and the second heroine (Diana Penty) are having completely different personalities and approaches towards life and dislike each other but adjust only due to the common friend Veronika (Deepika Padukone). Then all of a sudden they fall in love. How ? Just because of a kiss that spontaneously takes place between them. Should we rely upon this ? Difficult for me at least.Cocktail-MovieFurther, when the love triangle is known to all of its angles, i.e., the threesome, Veronika declares to move aside from the path of the other two because ultimately one has to be the loser. However thereafter she feels the intensity of love in her heart for the hero and messes everything up. But again, she repeats the same thing to repair the situation, thus bringing everything back to square one. This rollback type action may suit the Indian finance ministers, not the educated and sensible heroine of a modern movie.

There is a lot of boredom in the first half and a lot of dragging in the second half. Veronika’s accident seems to be imposed on the story to add a few reels because the script-writers could not think of something normal to take the story ahead and towards its logical conclusion.

The movie has been concluded in the style of Love Aaj Kal but it does not impress even half of LAK. I remember that I had shed many tears during my watching of LAK in theatre but while watching Cocktail I was feeling as if some (ridiculous) comedy was being shown in the name of sentiments. So artificial ! So plastic ! Emotions when forcefully thrown on the narrative, can’t impress the spectators. And that’s the case with this movie.

The locations of London and other places have been portrayed beautifully. And that’s a plus point. Preetam’s music is another one which is completely in sync with the mood of the movie. Tumheen Din Chadhe Tumheen Din Dhale is definitely the best song whereas Yaariyaan and Jugni also impressed me a lot. Background score is also in order.

As said earlier, aging Saif Ali Khan is miscast in his role and even his look is quite repelling. His character seems to have come from some other world who can flirt with any girl any time (only the director may be knowing how that’s possible). Deepika Padukone has got a lot of praise for her performance but she has performed well because her role is an author-backed one. Else, the truth is that she has exposed more than performing. Her hairdo in most part of the movie reminds of a witch. New face – Diana Penty adds value to the movie. She is charming and has performed well too. Boman Irani has done well but will the director tell me what’s the significance of his role ? Randeep Huda seems to have been given a role to perform like Rahul Khanna in LAK but he is also miscast and does not fit the bill. Dimple Kapadia has done whatever she was asked to do. She is over the top for most part of her role.downloadMy final verdict – this movie has its moments in the second half and certain sequences are certainly impressive. Since Veronika’s character tells how it feels to lose in the game of love, the losers in love may be able to relate to it. This flawed movie is a one time watch only. It’s name is ‘cocktail’ but actually it’s a ‘mocktail’ with only the look of a cocktail sans any intoxication for its consumer.

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