Nothing Like Lear – a Play Review

Vinay Pathak (Pic Credits – The Company Works)

To single-handedly hold the anxiety of an audience for 90 minutes is no mean feat. And Vinay Pathak successfully manages just that in a remarkable monologue act for the play “Nothing like Lear” staged at Prithvi theatre.

Directed by Rajat Kapoor! Well this was reason enough for me to have my seats booked for the evening while in Bombay for a day. It was his play, ‘Hamlet-The Clown Prince’ and my first that had got me to fall in love with theatre. This time too he sure knows how to keep his audience coming back for more. Prithvi holds the “Come early grab a good seat” thing. So seats taken we were excited for the play to begin.

Clad in a not so perfect suit, big shoes, a hat and a suitcase (psst: reminded me of Bheja Fry:P) a clown enters the stage 5 mins prior saying “It hasn’t started yet, continue your work”! Had I not known the lone cast before I would not have recognized Vinay Pathak dressed well to his character! So begins a roller-coaster act. This clown was not here to just make you laugh but to share his agonies as a father, a brother and a son. Humor tagged along as a well-placed emotion amongst all these bouts of sentiments.

The ramblings were various threads from his life woven together to form a see-sawing tale that had the audience engaged. They crackled with ripples of laughter on his witty lines, listened with anxiety on his relation and love for his daughter and drifted to his childhood sagas with his brother and father with equal enthusiasm. My favorites were his spontaneous entertaining lines right there in response to some audience talks. That’s what I think differentiates the skills of an actor on stage and in reel.

To end, Vinay Pathak I knew was a commendable actor but to see his various shades of emotions through this act just established his praiseworthiness. And Rajat Kapoor is a grounded man. Even after the show like always he is there to listen and greet his audience’s verdict. I would not compare it with Hamlet but Nothing like Lear was ace for a monologue act to be.

Is it playing at a theatre next to you? Go watch it and give your verdict. And if not go make a trip to Prithvi’s. Its vibrant atmosphere will sure play its effect and make you fall in love with theatre like me!

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Piku Movie Review – Charming, Witty and Heart warming Potpourri

PikuIf KJo flaunted in a largely overdramatic film, ‘It’s all about loving your parents’ crafted for the upper class, then enter Piku’s world where scores of Indians will relate to this movie and conclude yes, this is what is about loving your parents no matter how absurd they are.

Hindi cinema has come a long away from making larger than life movies where everything is near perfect to real-life movies where characters are well not that perfect. Piku, directed by Shoojit Sircar is a beautiful, breezy and a charming film that made me smile. I loved it.

Quite an odd pairing I thought when I saw the trailer for the first time, which was not exciting to me either. But this quite aptly proves doesn’t it, that when you have all the other elements of a movie right chemistry within actors just works if they play their part. Shooojit has made an engaging movie that keeps you hooked till the last scene, yet wanting some more. Just like his previous movie, this too has the essence of being Bengali complete with dialogues. I am sure quite a few non-Bengalis must have picked up a few words by now. (I do! -courtesy Odiya roots:P).

So what is the story line? Quite literally- nothing. Just a regular story woven around a constipation problem. But when you have three fine actors under one roof, a well written script and some rib- tickling dialogues, it’s amazing how even crappy talks sound entertaining.

Piku Banerji (Deepika) works in an architecture firm and lives with her father Bhasker Banerji (Amitabh Bachchan) who has an oddity for his health, constipation woes and verbal diarrhoea. Unabashed that Piku is, she often gives up on his talks but selflessly attends to his every beck and call. Enter my star of the film, Rana Chaudhary (Irrfan Khan) – a rental taxi owner who after a hilarious needful lands up driving the father-daughter duo to Kolkata via a road-trip. Thus the story opens to the world of Bhasker’s constantly harried bowel talks, Deepika’s relentless efforts to be calm yet caring and Irrfan Khan absolutely taken back by this, but wittily keeping Bhasker engaged throughout all his conversations.

Deepika’s stellar performance is one of her best in this, arrive the new demeanor of 2015. Her fine personality, earthy looks and casual acting will have quite a few heads turning. Amitabh is a proof of legend. His eccentricity amuses you, although I wouldn’t say it’s his best.

While Deepika’s flawless persona floors me in most of her movies, its Irfan Khan that I fall in love with, playing a lead role in a mainstream movie moreover opposite a stunning diva. With a blend of sweet and salt, he plays his character perfect. His acting has this element of laid back feel that gives you effortless dialogues. I discovered it in ‘The LunchBox’. His clueless expressions are what make you like him whenever on screen. Even his wardrobe is rightly done to meet the young look (p.s.- his final scene jacket is a killer). Ironically it’s the remarkable movie Lunch Box that had made me my write first movie review (read here).

Unlike Finding Fanny which put me off, this is real road trip movie. And unlike Mary Kom where the ad placement was on your face, you don’t mind the subtly placed ads. To end, you will enjoy the movie and see quite literally every actor coming alive, including the many helpers seen. I like the part where Bhaskar ardently listens to Irfan Khan, or when Bhaskar insists on being blunt like it or not. And the breezy conversation between Irfan and Deepika while having rolls is one of the most subtle blooming relationship I have seen in a while.

Piku is breathtaking, Bhasker is adorable and Rana is my show stealer.  Go go watch it now.

PK Movie Review: Aall izz not well but a a charming, witty & delightful must watch

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This very photo of Aamir with his cute & witty smile gives away that it is his movie all the way

So finally Pk is here! To conveniently exaggerate, a movie that has been in news since the day perhaps the story idea first cropped in Rajkumar Hirani’s mind. And why not, coming from a fine director like him who has built an exquisite niche for himself over the years, heartbeats are bound to palpate and expectations are sure to rise. Verdict: So did Peekay live up to all the promises & brouhaha it created? Well, if you choose to not take the meaning of all here quite literally, then I would say a close yes.

After 3 cult movies, Hirani is back to making one more, with Amir playing onscreen and Vidhu Vinod Chopra once again cleverly making business, gliding on the duo’s feet. This time around the theme is religion via alien ki kahani. Pk played by Amir Khan is an alien from neighbourhood planet who arrives on Earth to study them. But as luck would have it, on setting feet in the picturesque locales of Rajasthan he finds his only means to go back stolen. In desperate search of God now, there starts the journey of Pk, a name he quite wrongly earns for rightly questioning the people & godmen across country on their compounding religious beliefs. Meanwhile journalist Jaggu played by Anushka arrives in Delhi from Belgium where she was studying TV production. Fresh from heartbreak by her Pakistani boyfriend, played by Sushant who ditched her at the aisle she is compelled to believe in her family Godman Tapsvi’s prediction on the same. She chances upon a Bhojpuri turned, pan eating Pk whose captivating personality charms her to make a story on him. What follows is a pleasant jig on all religions barring none.

In a country where the word religion itself is enough to stir some unwarranted news, Hirani has made a brave film. However it left me with mixed feelings. As much as I enjoyed watching the movie bundled with crackles of laughter almost all throughout, it was not quite overwhelming. I know that repeated watching it in future is going to phase out the movie, unlike his 3 Idiots or the Munnabhai series which only make you admire its fresh storyline. Yes, that’s the word. Pk falls short of cinematic excellence right there.  You are bound to be reminded of Oh My God making it lack in a fresh appeal. After a hilarious first half, the second half narration gets repetitive.  Logic takes a backseat. Umm, thinking about it again yes it does quite a few scenes. Amir-Hirani duo movie have raised the bar so high for them, that it sure is a steep view from top. But let be it so! For they are beyond the level of being judged for their abilities to create a masterpiece, but being critiqued to always make sure they never miss making one.

Nevertheless, it’s a must watch for every atheist to enjoy a hearty laugh and for every narcissist to heartily take a potshot at himself.

Besharam Review – On why must you not watch it!

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Let me start by saying that Indian cinema can redefine the meaning of the word Comedy to maybe ‘Below Comedy line’ (you know like BPL-Below Poverty Line) and include all the nonsensical movies that are being made in the name of masala. And Behsharam to sum up, falls into precisely that – baseless comedy, same old script and loud scenes.

Not that the trailer had left me with much expectation but because I thought Ranbir Kapoor is still good enough to pull off a magical stunt and save it in time.

Script

I am really wondering how much time was actually spent on writing the script, considering there was none. It was more of a musical drama that I was exposed to, in which even the music too was bad. Abhinav did a good job in Dabangg, but did he think he could blind the audience this time by presenting anything. Ranbir I contemplate was forced to sign this movie at gunpoint, for I don’t see the chance to act alongside his parents a reason good enough to agree for this tackiness.

Music

The movie breaks into a song and dance number at every car turning with no exaggeration leaving you thinking that wasn’t the script already bad enough. At least the music could have been a good respite, but the lack of tonal consistency makes it sound naïve. Lalit Pandit’s music is loud and ever since he has gone solo seems to be going down-hill.

Acting

Now I am someone who goes weak in the knees after seeing Ranbir perform. He is a classic actor in the making who I thought could save a sinking ship like this one. But that does not happen because although he does brilliant there is nothing else in the movie that holds him.  The new actress Pallavi Sharda shows slight potential just like Sonam Kapoor did once but maybe needs more learning. Although her dancing skills I would rather like to not comment on and would leave it for you to judge. Jaaved Jaafri, one of the finest actors and comedian is reduced to just a bad villain. Rishi Kapoor and Neetu Kapoor again left to crack jokes that are not even funny.

What’s left…ok What’s Good?

Well, I am still trying to remember a few good words to appreciate the movie and criticise it less but remembering my precious money that went down, I choose to rather forget it all.

The LunchBox Review – Food for the happy soul

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“Sometimes even the wrong train can take you to the right destination.” – quoted

Have you ever felt characters seen sometime during life become real while watching a movie? Maybe that grumpy neighbour uncle who was always fussy while passing a cricket ball, that enthusiastic youngster who was very keen to learn new things surpassing all hurdles or that caring housewife who may have spent an hour too much in the kitchen. These characters each with their unrealized dreams are woven together to present a story so simple but yet touching a chord somewhere down.

When mistakenly a lunchbox sent by Ila (Nimrat Kaur), a neglected housewife is delivered to Saajan Fernandes (Irfan Khan), an about to retire accountant at a Government office, a conversation sparks off through notes that eventually leads to an uncanny bond between the two. Who would think that a delicious meal could unite two lifeless individuals who have never met, to share with each their life’s travelling’s? For Ila, whose life revolved only around trying to win her husband’s love, the feeling of hesitation to open up to a stranger is palpable but yet unfolds herself without much expectations. On the other hand, Saajan shown to be a loner enjoys the lunch and also oddly responds back to the letters. Enter, Shaikh (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) a carefree, relentless lively orphan who would soon replace Saajan when he retires. Saajan is cold, but its Shaikh’s charming ways that finally breaks the ice between the two leading to the two travelling together and also Saajan playing guardian during Shaikh’s marriage.

The LunchBox stands out for its unpretentious story line that tells you, life is all about finding joy in small things. The brilliant performance by the actors introduces you yet again to the growing number of talented artistes brimming in the industry.  The perfectly natural camera shots of the city of Mumbai, a sneak peek into the daily routine of the world famous dabba wallahs and the pacing local trains’ leaves you feeling amazed.

Ritesh Batra has successfully captured the intricacies of the human emotions and elements of the city turning it not an unusual but beautiful love story that also makes Indian cinema proud.

The Lost Flamingoes of Bombay

Post reading a column by the author Siddharth Shanghvi  in a daily recently, I was so overawed by this guy’s writing that it was kind of an instant love for it. The kind that makes you feel connected to it in some way. So I got hold of his second novel, ‘The Lost Flamingos of Bombay’.
The title itself is peculiar that it definitely stirs interest in the book. It makes you wonder in what context may have Bombay been described this time. Well now having finished the book, I should say I was left with mixed feelings. But his beautiful words keep me more towards the ‘liked it’ side. The buildup to the story was great, making the reader want to know more. The book talks around the lives of four characters and as the story delves deeper, the complications that arrive .It talks about lost and found friendship, of love, of a celeb but yet her solitude and other different facets of their lives ‘and’ of Bombay.  However, it lost its sheen in the middle when it drifted to a famous murder case to a great extent making you feel like it’s already read in the papers. The ending left me cold. It lets you give up on a certain positivity we believe in life. And yes it does make you feel that you just want to complete the book fast. I did rush through the pages in the middle to just get to the ending.
However, my love for his writing simply overpowered all the flaws it had. His characters are described with so much detailing that you feel for them. You know them in and out. Siddharth’s love for Bombay is synonymous to like that for a living being. His true love for the city is so intense that it will make even a non-admirer of the city love the intricacies of it. And yes I have absolutely fallen for all of it and loving Bomaby. The sewris of Bombay, the chor bazar, the Bombay fornicator, Ban Ganga, the socialite hangouts all are places which even a travel guide may not mention. Some place may be known only by a true ‘Bombayite’.
However with all it flaws, and even the critics having thrashed the book after much expectations from his debut novel, ‘The last song of Dusk”, I still stand by it that I loved the book and can be read once.