From “Anand” to “Kal Ho Na Ho” and to the recent “Dasvidaniya”, Indian viewers have witnessed numerous projects based on the stories revolving around a dying personality. Yet, Nagesh Kukunoor opting for this cliché subject did raise many questions in my mind before watching the movie. But coming as a complete surprise AASHAYEIN washed out all my doubts in just one hour and then turned out to be an entirely different experience with a novelty of its own having the same old stamp of the director who gave us “3 Deewarein”, “Dor” and “Iqbal” in the past.
As far as the story plot is concerned, AASHAYEIN may not have anything new to say to the viewers. But talking about its fresh treatment, the movie does have few worth mentioning merits in its kitty which rightly differentiate it from all the previous ones made around this particular subject.
If we look back, then all the films revolving around a dying person made by many famous directors in the past, have two things in common. Firstly it’s the fun element incorporated in them which lightens the mood of the viewer throughout the film, till it reaches its climax. Before coming to the concluding moments every such venture first makes you smile with few hilarious or enjoyable moments and then leads you towards the end, talking about the ultimate death of the hero. Secondly, all those movies have never been too verbal on the subject of death. If you can recall, their characters always talk about the most certain truth in a very subtle way without any strong offensive or direct dialogues in a sheer poetic kind of mood.
AASHAYEIN breaks all these preset modes of the subject and takes you into a more bitter, hard hitting and truthful kind of arena where every character clearly knows that he has to die in few months and they don’t feel shy or uncomfortable talking about it freely with each other. All the key characters of the script live under one roof, getting their decent daily life facilities while waiting for their final moments to arrive any time. And it’s the interaction between these different dying people in the film, which transforms it into a worth watching venture, dissimilar to anything you have seen before (made around the same theme).
Especially the sequences between John Abraham and Anaitha Nair, which are beautifully written and superbly enacted by the talented duo. The verbal expressions of Anaitha when she talks about her experiences within and outside the help-house are simply a treat to watch. In fact, death has never been expressed so freely on Indian screen before as done by Anaitha in AASHAYEIN. In short she gives the most explosive performance of the movie which deserves to be seen as a must.
Apart from John-Anaitha’s brilliant on-screen chemistry, the movie has some highly enlightening scenes featuring Farida Jalal, Girish Karnad, Sonal Sehgal and a charming child actor Ashwin Chitale. Here I would like to mention a dialogue which has never been used before in a movie on the same theme, where in Sonal explains her trauma to John saying, “Your pain gets over within few days when you would be gone, but what about us, the people you will leave behind. How are we suppose to live with this pain all our life?” Indeed a well written thought put in by the writers.
John Abraham being the central character surprises you with an honest and heartfelt performance. After the few initial moments, you just forget about his killing looks and star status and start believing in his pain as he easily establishes an emotional relationship with the viewers. Undoubtedly he delivers a performance he can always feel proud of. Other than the main lead, Nagesh extracts some great performances from his entire supporting cast (including himself in a cameo) and with this; he once again proves his mastery over the medium when it comes to emotional and sensitive subjects.
Salim Suleiman’s music works as you are watching the movie, but the song featuring Shreyas Talpade as the rock band leader remains the one in your mind while walking out of the theater. And Shreyas is also equally good performing it on the screen. Another merit of the movie remains its Cinematography which captures both the indoors and the outdoors fantastically. As a matter of fact, I still remember the last shot on the screen with just the clouds all over and John only in the one fourth part of the screen at the bottom.
Now let’s talk about the main avoidable glitch in the movie which serves as a big unwanted interruption in its otherwise smooth progression. Here I am referring to all those sequences in the film wherein John imagines himself as Indiana Jones leading to some strange dream sequences inside a cave where there are many white faced ghosts tied in thick chains. The relationship of the dream with the reality was fine but why it was used in such a length was quite weird and out of my understanding. Anyone watching the reaction in the trial shows could have easily pointed out the irrelevance of the scenes and the restlessness they were capable of creating in the theater. Still, they somehow just made it to the final edit, hampering the overall impact of the film on its audience.
Along with this big mistake, Nagesh also uses another half baked and unexplained character in his script who gets no justification of any sort right till the end. This refers to the character of a small child who is shown to have some magical healing powers in his body. Now whether he really had some powers…., if yes then how did he actually benefit John with his powers in the end remains a mystery, since the director adds no scene in the climax to explain this imaginary angle in his script.
So, in all AASHAYEIN could have been a much better and highly appreciated movie in absence of The Indiana Jones character in its script. It certainly has its own highly commendable moments to watch and learn from. But minus all those dream sequences it surely would have impressed a lot more people in the theaters as well as in the industry. Still it didn’t deserve to be canned for more than a year for whatsoever reasons.
Regarding its box office prospects, the chances are not so bright as today’s busy generation is simply not interested in seeing a movie revolving around the theme of Death, unless there is a Shahrukh, Aamir, Salman or Hrithik dying on the screen. But I would really like to recommend it to my readers, for the effortless performance put in by Anaitha Nair and its few not to be missed enlightening moments, capable of teaching some new lessons of life to all of us.
Ratings : 3 / 5 (.5 given more only for the performance of Anaitha Nair)
(Note: The film may appear to be depressing to many viewers who simply dont like to discuss or watch anything related to the topic of DEATH. But if you are willing to see the positive things in its few well written sequences then it indeed becomes a fine movie made on the most certain truth of our lives.)
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Few weeks before we had a small movie made on a realistic subject which went on to become a huge success, mainly due to its well planned marketing campaign and its association with a big name in the industry, AAMIR KHAN. And this week we again have an equally important film, made on another realistic truth of our rural population which sadly doesn’t have AN AAMIR associated with itself. As a result, media is least concerned about its release, the channels have no special coverage around the movie and majority of the viewers are not even aware of its theatrical release this Friday.
That’s how our media plays partial to some specific projects and the rest simply die and wither out in the midst of the overhype created by some big names in the industry. ANTARDWAND becomes the latest victim of this commercial process as it cannot be considered a lesser important film than PEEPLI LIVE in any respect. Yes, it’s not a comic feature nor a hilarious satire filled with high dosage of local abusives. But evidently it does talk about another bitter truth of our society which even has its own consequences on the coming generations.
Coming to its basic storyline based on some true incidents, I bet most of the youngsters living in the cities would really find it very hard to believe that this actually happens in our country in the year 2010. But the truth is that it’s indeed a reality wherein young and well educated boys having a bright future are kidnapped and then forcefully married to girls of rich and influential families without asking their consent. Director Sushil Rajpal surely deserves praises for choosing this novel idea for his movie, which he also successfully transforms into an applaudable, powerful film with a strong social message.
The movie starts off calmly and without wasting any time starts talking about its main topic of Groom Kidnapping within minutes. The performances are believable and the actual locations give a rustic feel to the project as required by its subject. It has few worth watching sequences showcasing the hiding and beating of the groom and his attempt of running away. Moreover the intelligent move of keeping an open ending also works in the favour of the film which forces the viewer to think and have his own conclusions.
The performances of its entire cast especially the explosive acts of Vinay Pathak and Akhilendra Mishra take the movie to a different level altogether. Raj Singh Chaudhary as the victim groom underplays it well and Swati Sen is quite natural. All the other actors playing the members of both the families are equally impressive. Musically the film has got nothing much to talk about but I felt its background music could have been better.
The only flaw which restricts ANTARDWAND to strike hard on the viewers is its slow pace in the mid where nothing is happening in the script as far as the story progress is concerned. It’s the phase in which the couple (post their forceful marriage) is locked in a room for developing a liking for each other and getting physically involved as a husband and wife. But after the well conceived and brilliantly written confrontation scene between both the head of the families, the pace gets back on track and the story moves ahead. Another drawback of the film is its too simple narration at times which is not fiery enough as seen in some similar issue based films made by Prakash Jha, such as APRAHAN.
However, ANTARDWAND remains an important film mainly for touching the following burning issues of our current society, with its unique subject and treatment :
1. It clearly shows the fascination of families in some areas towards educated young boys who are expected to become IAS Officers or reputed Government Officials in the near future. This in fact results in a cut throat competition within the students and an unbearable pressure of high expectations of their parents, which further gives rise to Students Suicides.
2. The scene where the father himself suggests his girl to get an abortion simply shows that this curse still remains highly active in the rural areas despite of the strict new laws implemented by the government against it.
3. The whole concept of kidnapping the groom basically arises as many families face a problem in finding a suitable match for their girls in the local region. The reason for this remains “Flight from Land” wherein all the well educated boys shift their base to either cities or to a foreign land & don’t prefer to spend their lives in the rural regions.
4. The subject also throws a light towards the misuse of power and influence in the remote areas, where the rich can get anything they want for their families with the support of both the police and the law-makers.
5. Lastly and most importantly the problem of finding a suitable match for the girl and then arranging for her dowry also becomes one of the biggest reasons why every couple wants a boy in their laps instead of a girl, especially in the rural areas. And this further leads to the current burning issue of GIRL FOETICIDE prevalent in the country all over.
So, if we take into account the above mentioned points then ANTARDWAND undoubtedly should be publicized in a much better way both by the Media and the Government as a part of their social responsibility. But unfortunately it does not have the support of a Big Star who can readily feature in all the reality shows on the T.V. converting “ANTARDWAND” in a household name within weeks.
If producers like AAMIR KHAN are really interested in doing some social work by making films such as “PEEPLI LIVE” then they should also come forward in adopting these kinds of small films which are capable of raising some valid questions in the society too. But if their main aim is to only make some quick millions in a weekend, then that’s a different case altogether.
Summing up, if you loved PEEPLI LIVE purely for its subject and social issue then you may find ANTARDWAND even better as it doesn’t take any help either from the media or from a big star.
Ratings : 3 / 5
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Bollywood movie lovers living all over the world are well familiar with “Amar Akbar Anthony”, one of the most famous movies of both Amitabh Bachchan and director Manmohan Desai. Along with its brilliant comic sequences featuring Amitabh and Rishi Kapoor, the movie had Vinod Khanna completing the trilogy in a tough role standing against his biggest competitor of that time, Amitabh Bachchan.
But apart from these many renowned merits, the film also had a rare and amusing fact associated with its melodious music which probably remains the only example in the history of Hindi Film music wherein the four most respected stalwarts of our Indian Cinema performed together in a song for the entire lead star-cast.
The song was “Humko Tumse Ho Gaya Hai Pyar Kya Karein” in which Mohd. Rafi, Kishore Kumar, Mukesh and Lata Mangeshkar all sang together probably for the first and last time.
Mohd. Rafi sang for Rishi Kapoor, Kishore Kumar for Amitabh Bachchan, Mukesh for Vinod Khanna and Lata Mangeshkar for all the three female actresses, Shabana Azmi, Neetu Singh and Parveen Babi.
Moreover this particular song of the movie also stands out of the entire soundtrack as in it the composer Laxmikant Pyarelal very insightfully incorporated the essence of Hindu, Muslim and Christian communities in an unique and intelligent way. Just listen to the western arrangements in the start of the song with all the strings and a choir singing in the interlude generating an Anthony kind of impact. Then in the middle, the use of Duff, giving it an ethnic kind of traditional feel representing Amar. And later on the insertion of Qawwali beats with the group claps to suit the character of the naughty Akbar. Simply an outstanding achievement by the director, music directors, singers, choreographers and all the actors involved in the song.
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Amol Palekar as a director has given us some rare offbeat gems in the past like Ankahee (1985), Thoda Sa Roomani Ho Jayen (1990), Daayra (1996), Kairee (2000), Anaahat (2003) and more. Keeping his track record in mind, his latest “And Once Again” in English, was also expected to be another thought provoking and worth watching gem from the thinking director.
But unfortunately the film falls way below the expectations and just remains on the periphery without any kind of emotional depth and feel as required by the subject chosen by the master film-maker. In fact, I would like to add that the movie frankly fits no-where in the list of all the other notable achievements made by the director in his illustrious career.
Revolving around Rajat Kapoor & Rituparna Sengupta a newly-wed couple visiting Sikkim on a business cum pleasure tour, the film actually begins when out of a sudden Rajat Kapoor faints in a Buddhist temple seeing a lady monk saying her prayers, played by Antra Mali. His past has something to do with the lady which starts haunting him and he loses all his peace of mind due to that. The story then mainly deals with this love triangle between the three characters and it goes on to reveal many dark secrets of their past disturbing each one of them individually.
Truly speaking, Sandhya Gokhale’s story was fine having both the elements of love and surprise to shock the viewer. But her own screenplay ruins the idea completely as the film never pulls you in to share the trauma faced by the trio. Further, Amol Palekar’s direction also leaves you unmoved since the characters remain few fictional people moving on the screen and never give you the feeling of some real people as experienced in all the previous projects of the director.
Rajat Kapoor as the husband is fine but I couldn’t understand why he was made to speak Hindi in his few dialogues when the film was actually made in English. Rituparna Sengupta doesn’t look like a real life character as she is adjustable to simply everything happening with the couple. Due to this fact her portrayal of Rajat’s wife appears to be a fake. Antra Mali too is not able to make any kind of impact on the viewers with her bold bald getup as the lady monk. She mostly remains silent and expressionless throughout the movie. The actor playing Rituparna’s father has a great voice and fine dialogue delivery style but the girl playing their family friend has nothing much to in the film.
Musically, the project should have been a song less venture for sure. Still Amol very strangely puts in few songs (in English), having no melody in them, which were not required at all in the first place.
In all, “And Once Again” has nothing to offer either to the classes or to the masses. The movie never makes you feel even once that you are really watching a film directed by the veteran Amol Palekar. May be he had his own reasons of making it this way. But considering its skillful cinematography, the film can be more enjoyed as a visual trip to Sikkim and its monasteries than a movie made for the theaters.
Ratings : 1 / 5
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