Tag Archives: movie

We are a family – dammit!

I have this super cool merchandise idea for Mr Karan Johar’s latest flick ‘We are a family’. A branded box of tissues.

No jokes. Considering the movie is so soppy! Half the members of the audience were sniffing and pretending they’ve suddenly developed a nasty cold. The other half were yawning or squirming in their seats or watching the others sob silently.

This very Indianised remake of Stepmom is not for the cry-at-the-drop-of-a-hat types. You have a divorced couple – Kajol, Arjun Rampal and their 3 kids aged around 4, 8 and 13. Kajol is a supermom who manages all three kids brilliantly and singlehandedly. Plus I’m guessing she has some sort of career going in publishing because she has this lovely little house with a lovely little garden. Arjun Rampal is a bustling fashion photographer and is having a hot affair with a cool, happening designer…ta ta dai…Kareena Kapeer. And oh before I forget, the movie is of course set in San Francisco.

Kajol is starting to look old and certainly needs to do a crash course in understated acting. Arun Rampal is also ageing – albeit gracefully and still looks dishy. His restrained performance was a treat. Kareen looks good and surprise surprise… has handled the role with absolute panache. The three kids do a decent job of it – the youngest one is a natural and certainly gives heart tugging moments. Her obsession with fairies and tiaras and magic wands make you go awwwwwwwww right through.

So here’s the story. Supermom Kajol and the three kids do not like Kareena and want her out of their father’s life. Kareena tries hard to win them over – but no luck. But then supermom is diagnosed with Cervical Cancer and their lives turn topsy turvy. Arjun Rampal comes back to live with his family and eventually Kajol realizes that the kids will need a mom after she ‘goes’. So enter Kareena Kapoor into the home. Till this part the movie is fine.

Then the sop begins. The ‘I’m gonna die but I don’t wanna leave my world and go’ cloud hangs in the air. Everyone cries. Goodbyes go on and on. There are those give-this-family-jewellery-to-my-daughter-when-she-gets-married moments. And the she-will-be-the-most-beautiful-bride-in-the-world moments. And the I-will-be-a-star-in-the-sky moments. And the think-of-me-and-i-will-be-with-you-even-if-you-don’t-see-me moments.

In the end you just want to woman to go so that you can go home too. I wish they had cut down the sop and made the movie more crisp and understated. The happy pace of the first half is simply missing in the sobbing second half. And somewhere there the movie has gone wrong.

So my verdict is if you want to get rid of all the dust in the eye and clear your nose. Go for it.

White man saves the smarter natives. Whew!

a still from Avatar

It seems, director James Cameroon (of the movie Avatar) chose blue for his ‘Avatars’ based on the Avatars of Vishnu (Rama and Krishna) who are always depicted in blue. Now throw away that overpowering sense of Déjà vu and don’t you dare yawn while I tell you the story. You see there’s this unbelievably fantastic place in an alien planet called Pandora. Filled with Nature’s bounty, floating mountains, prehistoric creatures, glow in the dark foliage and what not! Now here reside some natives who love and respect their land. They have a sacred tree that they pray too. To do any task – they must feel ‘connected to it’. A cosmic connection that tells that this is ok to do – otherwise they simply cannot perform that task. Now these highly evolved natives live on a piece of land that houses some really rare minerals. These minerals apparently will sell for millions. So, predictably there is a greedy organization that wants to grab it all. Plenty of scientists and money are pumped into this project. The good hearted scientist wants to arrive at a peaceful settlement. So she has created ‘avatars’ of the human body. These ‘avatars’ look like the aliens but they have a human mind. In that sense they are sort of there in two places at the same time. While the human body sleeps in a coffin-like box, the mind explores Pandora in its alien body. In this manner a few Avatars have managed to befriend some of the natives and even taught a few of them English.

Wheeled into this scenario is our hero – the paraplegic ex-marine. He’s come to replace his dead twin brother whose avatar already exists. He’s not really welcomed with open arms but he has an authority-defying attitude that gets him by. The bulky security chief promises to get his real legs back if he succeeds in this avatar role. This is motivation enough for the man!

So his avatar defies rules and explores Pandora like no one before ever did. He even manages to find a girlfriend there – as she is entrusted with the task of ‘nativising’ him. With her aid, he explores the breathtaking world – and yes it is breathtaking. Someone with a childlike fantasy seems to have gone berserk on the landscape special effects! There’s plenty of glow in the dark foliage, flowers in all possible fluorescent colours, flowery touch-me-nots, little creatures that suddenly fly off like helicopters when touched, giant, vicious looking prehistoric birds, mind-blowing floating mountains, massive trees with winding pathways, little pollen like things in white that keep floating by …so many amazing and fantastic effects! Yeah you do feel that you get your money’s worth. The child-like effects are worth it!

As for the story…if you haven’t guessed it by now…here it is: the corporation gets greedy and decides not to wait any longer for a peaceful settlement. They bombard the place and ruin their homes. The natives – who really are far superior creatures – because they can actually connect with Nature – are completely baffled by these attacks. They are clueless until our hero – the proverbial white man – comes to their rescue! A noisy battle ensues. It’s brazen gun power against sense and wisdom. Needless to say, the white and his entourage win – despite severe casualties. The while man’s real body is left behind and chooses to remain alive in this Avatar body with his alien girlfriend by his side.

If you think I’m being mean by giving away the story – check out the trailers – they give it away too! The only reason for you to watch this film is this created world called Pandora. That’s imagination unleashed. And you’ve got to see it!

The choices that life throws open

I can’t remember the last time I was so moved by a movie that it made me cry.  Yes, I did for this one. And no. I’m not ashamed about it. At the end of the movie, while I discreetly wiped my tears and sniffed – I wondered what it was that had made me cry. Certainly not the tedious, melodramatic, oh-so Bollywood, climax! I mulled over it for a day. I think I now know why.

For the uninitiated – the movie is Paa – in which Amitabh Bachan plays a 12 year old boy named Auro. The boy suffers from a rare disease called Progeria which causes the body to age 5 times faster. So a 12 year old boy will have the body of a 60-70 year old person. The brain however is that of a little child.

I must pause to credit the director. At no point in the movie are you made to feel sorry for Auro. He is treated like any normal 12-year old. His mom (played by Vidhya Balan) treats him like a friend and does not overly fuss over him because he is a special child. No melodrama there. Thank the lord… ah…no the director.

Well, the story goes this way. Abhishek Bachan (AB) and Vidhya Balan (VB) meet each other as students in Cambridge. They fall in love and the inevitable happens…VB ends up getting pregnant. Now the classic debate for AB. Should he do the right thing and marry her. Or should he run after his dreams of being Politician. He prefers to chase his dreams.

VB deals with the same issue – she is studying to be a doctor and is keen to complete it. She also worries about being socially accepted as an unwed mother. What must she do?

The most astounding chemistry in the movie is that of VB and her mother – played by Arundhati Naag. The mother convinces VB that she must do what she really feels is right. So VB bids adieu to AB and tells him that it’s all taken care of. And they part ways.

VB goes ahead and has the child. Auro is born. (Not short for Aurobindo. Just Auro – he assures you towards the climax).

There are amazing moments in the movie…how the mother and daughter duo handle the boy’s disappointment…or when VB is with Auro in the park and someone asks her what is wrong with her son…

Ah yes the script is impeccable. The characters have been etched out wonderfully. I particularly loved VB, her mother and AB. Auro is shown as an intelligent and sensitive child. So you’ll want to ignore his moments of impertinence.

What touched me in this movie was the classic, heart rending debate between what you want to do and what is ‘expected’ of you. Do you chase a dream or do you abide by social norms? The practical or the emotional. How do you make that choice? How do you judge at that moment what is right – when that decision could alter your life? You have no clue at that point about what life will throw at you. So you need to decide and then you need to have the courage and strength of mind abide by it – come what may! Life is tough, huh This I guess is what made me cry.

Aside: M came for this movie with me. Before entering I told her the story and reassured her its just a movie and everyone is just acting – so no need to feel sad or cry. She happily sat through it. Then when she saw me sniffing she rolled her eyes and said “mom it’s just a movie!”