Movie Review : 2 States (2014)

2_States_movie_posterRating : Good (4/5)
Genre : Romance
Year : 2014
Running time : 2 hours 29 minutes
Director : Abhishek Varman
Cast : Alia Bhatt, Arjun Kapoor, Revathy, Amrita Singh, Ronit Roy, Shivkumar Subramaniam
Kidwise : PG

Punjabi boy meets Tamilian girl. Love happens. And then comes the drama.

If you’ve seen the trailer of “2 States” or read the book on which this film is based, you already know where this film is heading. It is not enough that the bride and groom wish to wed and live happily ever after. The parents won’t let them. We take the culture clash between the North and the South and run with it. The guy’s mother is horrified that her darling son wants to marry a “Madrasan”, and the girl’s mother is convinced that the “uncultured Punjabis” will make her daughter’s life miserable. Ananya Swaminathan (Alia Bhatt) and Krish Malhotra (Arjun Kapoor) try and bridge the cultural divide but find that it is an ever widening chasm which seems to grow whenever the parents set sight of each other.

“2 States” gets deep and dirty in all matters cultural. So yes, you have Krish describing Ananya’s parents’ simple house as one bereft of furniture, and you have Ananya wondering at Krish’s relatives named “Minty” and “Duke”. Then we get dirtier. Out come the barbs about dowry, skin color, and “netting handsome Punjabi men”. And on and on it goes.

You’d think that all this back and forth of cultural insults would get taxing after a while. It is to the lead pair’s credit that it doesn’t. Both Arjun and Alia present a realistic and endearing picture of a couple in love. While Arjun Kapoor could be a better actor, Alia Bhatt comes through with flying colors – all beauty and mischievous charm. And then there are Revathy and Amrita Singh as the mothers, who add a sheen of class to this film. Ronit Roy does well in his irate, father-figure role, exuding a simmering anger even in his most restrained scenes.

This film works because it so effectively portrays people like us. Those cultural issues are true; we know they are. Yes, the film does gloss over over serious issues like dowry, domestic abuse and the skin color prejudice, but one step at a time I say – this is a Karan Johar production after all. Let’s hope the next time the director has the guts to portray Ananya as a dusky beauty AND a strict vegetarian, and really take the bull by the horns.

The film has some good music, and humorous cultural digs are made at both parties. “2 States” is a fun entertainer – this actually got applause at my local AMC. Highly recommended.

Kidwise : 2 States is about a young couple in love – there are scenes of intimacy/love-making, but stuff is mostly implied, not shown.

Posted in 2014, bollywood, humor, rating-PG, recommended, romance, social issues | Leave a comment

What To Watch On Netflix Instant – Edition #17

In BrugesIn Bruges (USA, 2008)

Hitman Ray (Colin Farell) and his friend Ken (Brandan Gleeson) are holed up in picturesque Bruges, Belgium, after a job gone wrong.

Their boss Harry (Ralph Fiennes) has ordered them to lay low and await his orders. Meanwhile they are to sightsee, which Ken likes doing. Ray however doesn’t want to do the touristy thing and is jittery just sitting waiting. Thinks perk up when he meets lovely Chloe, but then come the boss’s orders and they are quite unexpected.

This was a great film, unpredictable and funny.

IntouchablesThe Intouchables (“Intouchables”, France, 2011)

Rich quadriplegic Philippe (Francois Cluzet) needs a caretaker, and finds one in Driss (Omar Sy). Everyone around Philippe is taken aback by Philippe’s unexpected choice, even Driss himself, who had never expected to get hired.

Slowly but surely, a bond develops between the sharp, intellectual Philippe and the laid-back, easygoing, rough around the edges, Driss.

This is quite a lovely film, poignant and funny and touching, without overdoing it. Cluzet is magnificent as always, and Sy is quite a revelation.

BreakdownBreakdown (USA, 1997) 

This one is an oldie, but a great one.

Jeff Taylor (Kurt Russell) and his lovely wife Amy (Kathleen Quinian) are on a road trip when their car breaks down on the highway. Sans communication, Amy sets off to fetch help by taking a ride from a trucker passing by. The plan is to reach the nearest available phone and call for help.

But help never comes. And Amy seems to have disappeared.

If you didn’t see it then this fantastic edge-of-your-seat thriller then, don’t miss it now!

PoetryPoetry (“Shi”, South Korea, 2011)

An elderly grandmother (Jeong-hie Yun) lives in genteel poverty paying her bills with a part-time job, and caring for her grandson. She discovers that she has Alzheimer’s and that a family member has committed a ghastly crime. Sad and desperate, she gains strength from her poetry class to do the right thing.

This was a slow moving film, but quite powerful in its subtlety. Yun is magnificent as the hesitant, perplexed grandmother. Quite a gem this one, although some patience is needed to watch it.

JOHNNY GADDAAR DVDJohnny Gaddar (India, 2007)

Indian action-thrillers are rare and not very well done when they come. This one is an exception and about junior gang-member Vikram who has double-crossed his other senior partners in crime. They are now in hot pursuit, and he is on the run.

This is an unpredictable, tension-filled film. The story’s interesting, screenplay tight, and the direction deft – an absolute must-watch! Full review here.

 

Posted in 2014, All Netflix, crime, english, french, Hindi movies on Netflix, hollywood, humor, korean, mini-reviews, mystery, Netflix Recommendations, thriller | Leave a comment

My AMA on Reddit!

Just a quick note to let y’ll know that My AMA on Reddit is live NOW. Hop on over and ask away!

Posted in 2014, bollywood | Leave a comment

Movie Preview : 2 States (releases 18th April 2014)

Based on Chetan Bhagat’s book of the same name, this explores cross-cultural marriages – Punjabi and Tamilian in this case. Amrita Singh plays the Punjabi mom and Revathi is the Tamilian one. Arjun Kapoor and Alia Bhatt star.

Posted in 2014, bollywood, humor, Previews, romance | 1 Comment

Movie Review : Gori Teri Pyaar Mein (2013)

Gori Tere Pyaar Mein! Hindi DVD (Bollywood Film/Cinema/Movie) (2013)Rating : Below Average (1.5/5)
Genre : Romance
Year : 2013
Running time : 2 hours 30 minutes
Director : Punit Malhotra
Cast : Imran Khan, Kareena Kapoor Khan, Shraddha Kapoor, Anupam Kher
Kidwise : G

Another silly-fest from director Malhotra (remember I Hate Luv Storys?). Here are the bare bones :

Sriram Venkat is the un-reverential, relatively uncultured, black sheep of a traditional Tamilian family. When his parents try to arrange a match between him and lovely Vasudha Natarajan (Shraddha Kapoor) Shriram recounts a past love tale to Vasudha, who doesn’t seem all that keen to marry him either. Anyway, the love tale is of lovely Dia Sharma (Kareena) a feisty, justice-wanting activist. The two Sriram and Dia tangle for a bit and break up. When talking to Vasudha, Sriram realizes that Dia actually is the girl for him. But she seems to have disappeared and even if he could track her down, would she have him?

What happens next isn’t all that interesting. Yawn! This is such a jaded, been-there-seen-that film! Kareena Kapoor makes a very unsatisfactory feminist – she might spout all those dialogues on wanting justice and equality for all, but she sees nary a problem when daddy wants to question the bf on how he will “maintain” her lifestyle. Like she’s a cow wanting a warm cowshed. Plus, when push comes to shove, Ms. Activist is content to have lover-boy do all the work (as seen in the second half) – she’s the activist, he’s just dabbling, shouldn’t she want to be in it, front and center? And the cherry on top is her song about the “naughty, naughty tooh”. Excuse me while I barf!

Shraddha Kapoor is cute in her little role. Anupam Kher is reduced to a caricature. The less said about hero Khan, the better. Songs are mediocre. The story is as weak as a new sapling in winter.

This was a majorly problematic film. Yes, it did work in little snippets like those of the traditional Tamilian family and their wayward son. But the characters were so inconsistent – happy and type-A when there was a peppy dance number in the background, and just blah and twitchy otherwise.

Yes, a full 2.5 hours of my life I’ll never get back.

Kidwise : Non-scarring for the kiddos.

Posted in 2013, 2014, bollywood, rating-G, romance | Leave a comment

The Music of Little White Lies

Little White LiesI saw “Little White Lies (Les petits mouchoirs)” on Netflix because it starred Marion Cotillard, Francois Cluzet and Giles Lellouche, 3 French actors (although Cotillard has made forays into English movies too) whose movies I’m familiar with. The film turned out to be great, as I’ve said here. The soundtrack is very good too. Amazingly all the songs in this film are English, even the one song actually physically sung by a French singer in the film. Why do French films have English music? I do not know, but I did enjoy it very much.

My favorite of the lot is the vocal by Maxim Nucci “Talk to me”:

And here are the rest :

Posted in 2014, All Netflix, drama, foreign, french, music, outstanding, recommended | Leave a comment

Movie Preview : Revolver Rani (Releases 25th April 2014)

2014 will be Kangana Ranaut’s year. Hot on the heels of Queen’s success, comes another Kangana starrer. Let’s hope it’s as good.

Posted in 2014, bollywood, drama, Previews | Leave a comment

Movie Review : Shaadi Ke Side Effects (2014)

Shaadi Ke Side Effects (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
Rating : Average (3/5)
Genre : Drama
Year : 2014
Running time : 2 hours 25 minutes
Director : Saket Chaudhary
Cast : Farhan Akhtar, Vidya Balan, Ram Kapoor, Gautami Kapoor, Vir Das, Rati Agnihotri, Ila Arun, Purab Kohli
Kidwise : PG-13

Sid (Akhtar) and Trisha (Balan) are very much in love. A baby comes quickly after marriage. Working woman Trisha quits her job because she wants to stay home with baby, which leaves musician Sid to bring in the moolah. Needs must. He quits “creative work” and devotes time to composing jingles to bring home the paycheck. Their ideas on parenting differ – while she wants daughter Mili attached at the hip, he wants some couple time, sans Mili. Differences bloom. Then come the little white lies.

If you have seen Pyaar Ke Side Effects, know that that film is superior, and that movie didn’t even have the star-power this one has. PKSE was cute, quirky and charming. SKSE is full of forced cuteness. You’ll have to imagine the quirk and the charm is kinda absent.

It is not that the film doesn’t try – it brings up valid points of difference in a relationship and gives us the (believable) lowdown on the transition from double-income-no-kids to life-with-baby. But, and this is where it fails, it doesn’t know what it is or where it is going. Is SKSE a farce? Are we supposed to laugh at these ridiculous, whiny, new parents having semi-breakdowns? Or is it making a point for feminism and domestic equality? Or is it just being Bollywoodian, and lazily meandering along with nary an end in sight? The director didn’t seem to have a clue.

Farhan and Vidya, great actors both, can do only so much to salvage the film; they are bound by the lazy, pointless script. Ram Kapoor, ballooning by the minute, is himself, effortless and charming as the smarmy, smug brother-in-law. Vir Das is wonderful in his short role.

I’d sum up this film as a big blah. Yes, it’s better than all the other trash out there, because the lead actors bring their classiness wherever they go. But when post-watch, the film hasn’t entertained, made a point, or even given you a mild, tepid, feel-good buzz, it has failed. Let’s chalk this up to a not quite.

Posted in 2014, bollywood, humor, rating-PG13 | 4 Comments

Movie Review : Bewakoofiyaan (2014)

Bewakoofiyaan (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Rating : Above Average (3.5/5)
Genre : Romance
Year : 2014
Running time : 2 hours
Director : Nupur Asthana
Cast : Sonam Kapoor, Ayushmann Khurana, Rishi Kapoor, Gurpal Singh
Kidwise : PG

Mohit Chaddha and Mayera Sehgal. Two yuppies in love. Disagreement. The crash of breaking hearts. A stark, cold breakup just when the family is warming up to the idea.

That’s the gist. And really while this luv-shuv ka drama was going on, it was like deja vu. How many love stories have trodden this weary path? (Yup, rhetorical question.) So, interval time comes, and I’m preparing for a snooze-fest. And that is when this film really gets going.

First things first – is this a predictable film? Of course! It is a love tale in Bollywood complete with BF-hating Papa. We know that that there is love story in trouble, and rescue will come by the time the film ends. The question is the how.

Well, the how is charmingly done. The lead pair are fresh and young, and look realistically in love. The story has these authentic moments I’ve come to associate with Habib Faisal’s writing, where the twosome look adoringly at each other or coo sweet nothings, and we are with them, hoping that they have this happy future with each other that they are dreaming of. Sonam and Ayushmann are good actors, and it is to their credit that they look appropriately besotted, and have us so invested in their happiness.

The first half does stretch the overbearing-father-in-law joke a tad, and the humor is forced at times. Rishi Kapoor is the rotund, retired bureacratic servant, all puffed up in self-importance (and fat). He does well, his jowls quivering with the indignation that is the birthright of all good Bollywood-ian dads with daughters of marriageable age. Sonam looks lovely, and acts appropriately high-maintenance as the indulged beti of above dad. Ayushmann is our hero with that heart of gold. And he looks it – there’s something like-able about that boy.

Then there are the nicely etched minor characters – another Faisal speciality. One is Gursharan uncle (Gurpal Singh), Sehgal’s PA/friend/sounding-board who offers his opinion on most things plaguing Sehgal; i.e.; the troublesome, good-for-nothing boy-friend the daughter has brought home. Singh does a wonderful job as slow, cloying, stick-in-the-mud Gursharan. Another great minor character is Radha, who keeps house and cleans for the Sehgals.

“Bewakoofiyaan” is a feel-good movie with the happy buzz of romance. And it oozes charm. And some appropriately peppy music. Granted the story is not the creative concoction that “Mujhse Fraandship Karoge” was, but it is a pleasantly told tale, once it gets past the cliches clogging the pipeline. Hold out till interval time and all will be well.

Kidwise : The lead pair kiss and cuddle; further encounters of the closer kind are implied. Nothing to scar the young ones with though.

Posted in 2014, bollywood, rating-PG, romance, watchable | 2 Comments

Movie Preview : Bewakoofiyaan (releases 14th March 2014)

Bewakoofiyaan releases tomorrow. High expectations from this one, because it is directed by Nupur Asthana who also directed the rather cute “Mujhse Fraaandship Karoge?”.
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Posted in 2014, bollywood, Previews, romance | 1 Comment