Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Dor (2006) - Hindi Movie Review

Ranking: 4.9/5

Cast: Gul Panag, Ayesha Takia, Shreyas Talpade
Director: Nagesh Kukunoor

In simple words it is one of the most beautiful movies I have ever seen in my life. Tight script, a story that has no loose ends, immaculate direction, beautiful locales, simple dialogues, and to top it all off brilliant performances by the entire cast makes Dor a must watch. I have seen this movie once and will see it many more times in the future just to digest the small details that I might have missed during the first time around.

It is the story of love, loss, friendship, trust and above all honesty. It is the story about how two unrelated lives come together. Zeenat an independent girl lives in the hills of the beautiful Himalayas married to Amir and waiting his return from Saudi where he works as a truck driver. While Meera a naive village girl lives in a joint family married to Shankar also waiting for her husband to come back from Saudi where he is working to settle the family debt. But what they both receive is the twist in the story that brings them both together.

Shankar dies in an accident and Amir is facing death sentence being accused of Shankar's murder in Saudi. Zeenat has a mercy petition document in her hand that needs Meera's signature to relieve Amir from the death sentence, but she has no idea where or who Meera is. Boldly with just one photo of Shankar Zeenat leaves her hill country to the desserts of Rajasthan looking for Shankar's wife Meera. Meera on the other hand has lost all her rights and freedom that was hers once since her husband death. She is now living the life of a widow at a very young age banished from fun and frolic.

Zeenat with the help of a young impostor (Shreyas) hunts Meera's house down. On approaching Shankar's parents she gets spat on and kicked out of the house. Not giving up hope Zeenat befriends Meera by meeting her in the temple everyday...While Meera's father in law is trying to sell her to an out-of-town contractor for money...

Does Meera sign the papers when the truth is revealed? What happens to Meera's future? Please watch the movie and you will not be disappointed.

The casting for the movie is brilliant. Ayesha as the young widow with a big heart is portrayed so well by this young actress. Her acting prowess is exposed to the highest degree in this movie. I have seen her movies in Telugu and Hindi and this is her best till date. The innocence in her eyes, the sadness, the need, the love, everything is expressed in a very convincing way. Gul playing the role of Zeenat has provided us with some brilliant performance showing determination and poise while trying to give life to her husband who is sitting on death row.

Shreyas is a brilliant actor, nothing new about that but his role as the impostor brings in the lighter moments of the movie. He is spontaneous and very funny. Nagesh Kukunoor as the out-of-town contractor is very convincing as the bad guy as I was really mad at him for a long time after the movie. Girish Karnad as the father-in-law mad at his daughter-in-law is also portrayed very impressively.

In all this movie is a brilliant package with great acting, direction, stills, location, and above all an impressive story and this would most certainly be my pick for Oscar next year!

Monday, October 23, 2006

Elavattam (2006) - Tamil Movie Review

Ranking: 2.5/5

Cast: Navdeep, Sheela, Suhasini, Vijaykumar, Shubalekha Sudhakar
Director: Raja Raajha
Music: Mani Sharma

The story is a rehash of what has been done in the past many times. This is my idea of what the director must have thought...To make a movie with lots of sex to sell the movie but then to get the attention of decent audience use the sex to teach a lesson to youngsters. Nice idea but the execution went sourly wrong. The story is banal and so is the screenplay and dialogues. The songs are also not so lingering and on the whole an average fare.

A college that had never had any gold medallist finally gets one in the form of Navdeep. Everyone wonders why Navdeep always received police security to college and he goes on to explain his flashback...

Navdeep and Sheela are in the same school and they are at loggerheads with each other. One rainy night Navdeep is exposed to the concept of sex and then he gets physically attracted to Sheela. Which of course turns into love in due time!

Sheela's is the daughter of a rich landlord (Vijaykumar). She has a sister who is married to Babloo (this is what he used to be called when he used to act in Tamil serials). Babloo is a rogue in the disguise of a nice guy. He is secretly planning to marry Sheela so that all the property owned by Vijaykumar comes under his control. When Vijaykumar discovers his plot Babloo kills Vijaykumar and dons the role of the head of the household.

On discovering Sheela and Navdeep on the bed in their house he gets mad and tries to kill Navdeep. The district collector Suhasini with whom Navdeep is already acquainted helps get Babloo arrested and thrown into Jail. She also gets a promise from both Navdeep and Sheela that they will both study and pursue a career before giving in to physical attraction which may also be infactuation at such a young age.

Honestly I don't see why Navdeep receives police protection every single day of his college life when the bad guy Babloo is behind bars! The whole story is under a wrong premise. I am not sure I even remotely enjoyed the movie. It is very sensual in parts and certainly not for family viewing...trust me when I say this as I saw it with my mother and it was thoroughly uncomfortable! Even if the story is not new a lot of movies have something different that makes the movie interesting (for example the movie Run) but this is plain boring! So avoid it if you have anything better to do. But I must give credit to both Navdeep and Sheela for very decent acting. I honestly believe it was not their fault for choosing to act in a below average movie!

Friday, October 06, 2006

Godavari (2006) - Telugu Movie Review

Ranking : 4/5

Cast: Kamalinee Mukherjee as Sita Mahalakshmi, Sumanth as Sriram and Neetu Chandra as Raji
Director: Shekar Kammula
Music: K. M. Radha Krishnan

Cinema can be two things. It can either be a fantasy portrayed on screen or can be reality bought to light. A director should be clear about what he wants. If he is confused then the final outcome is also not great. But if the director knows that he wants to direct a fantasy movie and goes about doing it with great screenplay, setting, story, camera, music, etc then the movie is beautiful. Godavari is a fantastic fantasy. Beautiful scenery, some great acting, and a very simple story backed with a good screenplay and dialogues. The music is also soothing but the background score reminds you sometimes of AR Rehman's Thiruda Thiruda or his older movies. In other words I liked this movie and would strongly recommend others to watch it. Family viewing should bring no embarrassment to anyone.

Sita is a very pampered and spoilt child who wants to achieve something on her own in her lifetime. She is a free spirited independent girl raised to live her life in her own way. Due to pressure she agrees to marry a guy her parents had chosen for her but gets frustrated to realize that the guy had rejected her. So in anger she packs her bags and leave to see Sita-Ram marriage in Badrachalam on a house boat called Godavari on the river Godavari.

Sriram is an US-return software guy who wants to do something for the people of India and hence comes back to India to join politics. He wants to marry his cousin Raji who is also his best friend but her father thinks otherwise and gets her engaged to an IPS officer and the marriage is scheduled to take place in Badrachalam. The entire wedding party is booked to travel on the house Boat too.

Sita and Ram meet in the boat. Sparks fly but nothing is uttered. Before it is uttered there are small confusions and tensions and the story takes a small twist and eventually ends in a happy note. Sorry for giving away the ending. Like you anticipated anything different. It is a Golti movie for the love of GOD! and that too a romantic one!

So in conclusion, a simple predictable love story that is done very nicely. Kamalinee Mukherjee to me seemed to have matured as a Telugu actress in this movie from her performance in Anand. She is cute and adorable and portrays her character to perfection. Sushanth on the other hand seems to lack energy but maybe that is his role in this movie. He can try and do better in his next movie. Neetu as the confused cousin of Sushanth has done a great job too. Her confusion is portrayed very aptly. And last but not the least, the animated talking dog Kotigadu is simply the BEST! He is cute, adorable and funny and not overdone one bit also.

Go and watch the movie if you have not done so yet!

Ratings by outbrain