Archive for the ‘Irrfan Khan’ Category

 

I recently saw Hindi Medium (2017), a much feted Bollywood film featuring one of my all-time fave actor, Irrfan Khan. I wanted to watch this one particularly after allegations surfaced that the film has borrowed from the Bengali sleeper hit RAMDHANU (2014), a film that I have quite enjoyed – something that the makers of HINDI MEDIUM has vehemently denied.

HINDI MEDIUM started off on a promising note. I was enjoying the lead couple’s brilliant put-ons & Punjabi flashiness (they enact a  Chandni Chowk trader from Punjab). But after a while, HM loses steam. The affluent business couple suddenly hits upon an idea to present themselves as one from the poorer strata of society in order to secure admission for their daughter in a private school. I felt this portion was rather far-fetched and the weak link of the film. Hereafter, HM became preachy and illogical and meandered towards a predictable end.

The basic theme of Hindi Medium matches with the Bengali film – the hardships parent endure to secure school admission for their child. The protagonists in both the films are deficient and try to hone their English speaking ability providing some funny moments. The central similarity is too glaring to be dismissed. Apart from the basic theme, HM differs vastly from RAMDHANU and the sub-plots doesn’t bear any kind of sameness.

I don’t know why the makers of HINDI MEDIUM are refusing to acknowledge their inspiration. Even in the past we have had several instances of successful Bengali films remade in Hindi which proved to be hits in Bollywood. Films like MERE APNE (Apanjan), CHUPKE CHUPKE (Chhodobesi), MANZIL (Akash Kusum), BEMISAL (Ami se o sakha), KORA KAGAZ (Saat Pake Badha), BAWARCHI (Golpo Holeo Satti) and many others which were successful in the original language and later remade successfully in Hindi. I think the earlier directors of such remakes have acknowledged the original work.

 

 

Advertisements

 

namesake

It is a big thumbs-up when three non-Bengalis (Mira Nair, Irrfan Khan & Tabu) gets into the nuances of Bengali culture and make a convincing film. Based on a novel by Jhumpa Lahiri, the film NAMESAKE highlights the immigrant experience of a Bengali family in America. The film
is rightly paced capturing the transitions and the developments in a credible way. The filming is superlative with an International crew grabbing the essence and the landmarks (like Howrah Bridge) of the city without blemish. The quiet romance between Tabu and Irrfan is endearing. The sequence where Tabu alone in the house gets to know about the passing
away of her husband and breaks down in their garden demonstrates her acting prowess.

In a similar way, Karl Penn, who plays the son, does well in dramatic sequences when he breaks down on the pillow where his father had slept last. There are several wonderful cameos as well by actors from the Kolkata film industry – Sabyasachi Chakraborty as the father & Kharaj Mukhopadhyay as a servant of the family in the ancestral home of Tabu. The tendencies of immigrants to live within their communities, the blossoming of romance between a second generation immigrant (the son Karl Penn)with a white woman with its complexities have been neatly juxtaposed into the narrative.

Rating: 4.1 out of 5

Piku: For the Motion

Posted: October 24, 2015 in Hindi films, Irrfan Khan

piku

Piku is quite likely a tribute to Satyajit Ray as it is named after a short film the legendary filmmaker made some decades back, and also because of the references of Ray the director sprinkles in the early part of the film. However, if you expect Sujit Sarkar to match up to that of his influence, you would be truly disappointed…The director says in a Television promo that he is a bit of Bhaskar, the eccentric Bengali central character played by Amitabh Bachchan. The film is seen through the eyes of his daughter Piku (brilliantly played by Deepika Padukone). For the storyline you can refer to any of the several reviews out there. My nit-picky trait uncovered the following:

  1. Bhaskar is shown to be a self-centred 70 year old man. He is so selfish that he doesn’t want his daughter to get married and go elsewhere. In real life such a Bengali would be very difficult to come across. I haven’t seen any Bong father who is as selfish as Bhaskar is depicted in the movie.
  2. Bhaskar is a confused person. Someone who is petrified of travelling in a car because a knife is in the dickey of the vehicle, and who wouldn’t allow his daughter Piku drive on the highway, goes cycling for 30 kms on the streets of Kolkata one fine morning. Didn’t the unruly traffic of the city bother Bhaskar? What about his motion when he ventured to go quite a distance from his home?
  3. Bhaskar introduces his daughter Piku to guests as a non-virgin. Which crazy Bong father would do this?
  4. A greedy promoter flies down from Kolkata to Delhi and comes to Bhaskar’s house in Chittaranjan Park with a proposal of a buyer for Bhaskar’s Kolkata house. Bhaskar is so rude that he doesn’t even offer a cup of tea to this man. Quite unlike a Bong trait again.
  5. What was the point of this movie? Maybe the film is a bit of family drama/road movie but exactly what message did we learn from Bhaskar and his life?

As Piku in a dining table conversation remarks “There is a limit to how much one can tolerate talk about shit.” (Piku’s father’s only subject of discussion revolves around shit) Perhaps the director ought to realize that there is a limit to the extent a viewer can keep patience on a never-ending conversation about human shit.

Rating: 1.5 out of 5

THE LUNCH BOX

Posted: February 28, 2014 in Hindi films, Irrfan Khan, Mrinal Sen

lunch box

You are often compelled to watch a film because of the buzz it manages to create. In recent times, very few films got spoken off in such glowing terms as ‘The Lunch Box.’ A lot of the press it received was owing to the fact that it wan’t chosen as the official Indian entry for the Oscars. Newspaper pages were filled with the team of ‘The Lunch Box’ and its many admirers sympathizing how a brilliant film was overlooked and denied its due as the best representative film from India.

OMG. The drag of a movie about a developing romantic relationship between a bored housewife (Namrata Kaur in a superb performance) and an elderly Govt. servant (Irrfan Khan) due for retirement has hardly anything to recommend about. Improbable situations of lunch box landing up day after day in an incorrect destination and genesis of an epistolary relationship in its wake seem highly unrealistic. The Ritesh Batra directed film has similarity with the Mrinal Sen directed Bengali film ‘ANTAREEN’ starring Anjan Dutta and Dimple Kapadia, also about a similar relationship that evolves between two complete strangers. The mellowing of the crusty middle aged Irrfan owing to the relationship with a much younger woman also echoes in some respect to another Mrinal Sen film (Bhuvan Shome).

Apart from shots that provide a glimpse of Mumbai life (like market groceries sent up in tightly roped buckets between floors of an Apartment), the film has hardly anything to write home about. The performers act creditably. Nawazuddin Siddiqui does a cameo as a colleague of Irrfan.

Rating: 1.5 out of 5

pi3

It takes you to a very different plane. The survival tale of a shipwrecked boy and a tiger is laced with gritty realism on the one hand, and a leap into a magical land and divine forces on the other.The visuals are stunning. The gritty tale of survival is based on a prize winning novel by Yann Martel. It weaves a fortituous tale of the protagonist Pi, a zoo keeper’s son who grew up in Pondicherry and thereafter loses his entire family in a ship enroute to Canada where his family was immigrating. They find themselves in an inclement, stormy weather.

He is the lone human survivor in the ship at sea. Keeping him company is a royal Bengal tiger Richard Parker, an orangutan, a hyena and a Zebra. The provisions in the ship would last a few weeks….Would Pi be able to hold himself in the midst of these ferocious animals and reach safely among human civilizations. Beneath the surface level tale of human drama and endurance, the film sublty weaves in spiritual philosophy, faith in the divine and incorporates elements of fantasy in the narrative when the protagonist reaches a strange island with miraculous happenings. Can a man develop a bonding with a man-eating beast? Do humans and animals react in the same way to tragedy? Find out the answers by watching this absorbing drama…

pi1

pi2

Hats off to the cameraman and the computer team for this. It is difficult to really believe that Richard Parker (well that’s the name of the tiger) was really computer generated. The film is directed superbly by Ang Lee (Brokeback Mountain). The cast includes Irrfan Khan, Tabu and others.

Rating: 4.75 out of 5

PAAN SINGH TOMAR

Posted: March 18, 2013 in Hindi films, Irrfan Khan

paansingh-story-big

“Jab desh ke liye medal laaye, to kono nahi puchcha Ab baaghi baan gaaye, to sabbhi puch ne laage” –

This sarcastic comment by the protagonist is so evocative of disrespect shown to many talents in these present times. The film released in the first half of 2012, and became a major hit – it is a real life tale of a National Award winning athlete, who represented the country in International sports and by a turn of fate was compelled to become a dacoit.  This hard hitting film is embellished with a remarkable performance by Irrfan Khan. In the past, Irrfan has wowed us with restraint performance in films like The Namesake and others, but hogging the limelight in this film which revolves entirely around him, he delivers the performance of a lifetime.

The first half of the film which focuses on his sporting career and his family is laced with good charm. The sequences where he sprints and delivers ice cream to his superiors’ residence within four minutes, or his efforts to pack off his children elsewhere to enjoy few moments with his wife (Mahie Gill), or the interactions with his sporting coach (Rajendra Gupta) depicts the human side of the talented sprinter. The other half of the film highlights the circumstances which compelled this simplistic man from a rural background to let go his sporting talent and embrace the gun. His property in his native village in Central India gets usurped by a village strongman, a distant relative of his. Violence engulfs the screen from this point and continues unabated till the end, when the protagonist quite predictably succumbs and compels us to question the system that makes criminals out of such talented sportsperson.

The protagonist uses the rigorous physical training methodology he underwent during his stint in the Army to train his band of outlaws later. The fluid camerawork in this Tigmanshu Dhulia (Saheb, Biwi aur Gangster) directed film captures the mood in the unfolding sequences superbly – whether capturing the athletic events, or depicting the rural backdrop, it is spot on. The muted scene where Irrfan wins a race and his coach erupts in joy shows how visuals can effectively convey the emotions of situations without dialogues.

Almost the entire narrative unfolds through flashback with the protagonist giving an interview to a reporter at his secret hideout. The film is realistic in its depiction, and the gritty film could have done with a better editing. It tends to drag in patches, especially in the overdose of violence. Nawazuddin Siddique, who has made a name to reckon with his performances in Kaahani & GOW series, acts in a cameo.
The film won the Best Film award as well as the Best Actor award for Irrfan Khan at the National awards in 2013.

 

Rating: 3.8 out of 5