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Movie review:"HIMMATWALA"

Movie review: "HIMMATWALA"

Rating:  *
Released On: 29 Mar 2013
Directed By: Sajid Khan
Released On: 29 Mar 2013
Directed By: Sajid Khan

Read any recent interview of Sajid Khan and you would see him stating "According to critics, I think too much of myself," well Sajid, after watching Himmatwala critics will surely change what they say to "Sajid Khan has stopped thinking altogether." One can never imagine a day would come when you would claim all of Sajid Khan's previous works to be master pieces compared to this apology of a film titled Himmatwala!

Re-written as the filmmaker claims this remake to be, Himmatwala of the present times has pretty much the same plot with scenes twisted here and there. A tyrant Sher Singh (Mahesh Manjrekar) who has the entire village under his control uses his might and power to wrongly frame Dharam Murti (Anil Dhawan), the pandit, who catches Sher Singh committing murder. On being shamed in front of the villagers Dharam Murti commits suicide while his wife (Zarina Wahab) is left with two kids to fend of herself. Sher Singh's tyranny doesn't end here as he comes after Dharam Murti's son too. But the mother helps Ravi, the child escape. The son, now Ajay Devgn, returns to Ram Nagar after years to avenge his father's death and his mother's lost pride

Sridevi famously said recently that her 1983 career-making potboiler “Himmatwala” was no “Mughal-e-Azam”. She was right to a point….Until now, when Sajid Khan’s remake of the 1983 K. Raghvendra Rao film has come along to provide a comparative viewpoint.

And suddenly the old “Himmatwala” does appear to be a classic. It gave us the timeless Sridevi as an arrogant spoilt rich bitch who mouthed insanely capitalistic dialogues like “I hate the poor”.

Thirty years later, Tamannaah Bhatia does a Sridevi.She gets into Sridevi’s leather pants, with a whip to match and tortures the peasants in a village lorded over by a fatuous feudal dad who is not really evil. He is just mad. Somehow Tamannaah misses the bus and the bullock-car by a wide margin. Not her fault, really. It’s the mood and milieu that this oddball of a remake generates.

We hear the larger-than-life hero Ravi (Ajay) mouth words of old-fashioned heroism with a straight face. But somehow we aren’t convinced if he means business. Indeed, there was more than a dash of Shakespeare’s Taming Of The Shrew in the way the original Himmatwala Jeetendra brought Sridevi to heel.

The new-age Sridevi is a squeal. She quickly changes from her audacious mini skirts and high heels with whips as accessories, to being a simpering salwar-kameez-clad doormat who is willing to walk that extra mile for the man in her life.

There are only two other female characters in the entire plot. The hero’s long-suffering mother(played with commendable dignity by Zarina Wahab) and a sister (Leena Jumani). Vanquished by the villains, the mother and daughter live in the village forests.

Curiously the daughter appears to have walked straight out of a gym. Like all good sisters from the past history of commercial cinema, this one too nearly gets gang-raped. This one happens in a sealed van(Delhi’s grisly rape reconstructed?) until the hero appears to literally crush the wannabe-rapists’ balls. Ouch. Devgn ends his ballsy crusade with one of the film’s many bravura-tinged exclamation lines: “As long as women are attacked, Himmatwalas would be born.”

Chalk up a long-hurrah for this dime-store braveheart. We can look at Ajay Devgn in “Himmatwala” as the man who came in from the cold and warmed up the bucolic baddies’ backsides with what he calls a “bum pe laat”. That, we can say is the other side of the jadoo ki jhappi which Sanjay Dutt used to heal the world not so long ago. I guess Sanjay’s jadoo ki jhappi got a bum pe laat .

Cute? That’s how Ajay plays his shehar ka hero gaon ka super-hero part. He wants us to believe he is having fun with the trite part. But the boredom underneath the facade of fun shows up often enough to make us cringe.

The fractured world of Sajid Khan’s “Himmatwala” is not looking for healing. It is happy being unfinished, wonky and out of shape. A wheezing grunting snoring world of demented feudalism where the Zamindar, as played by the gifted Mahesh Manjrekar is part-fiend, part-clown. Meals are not cooked in this tottering tyrant’s kitchen. Instead he orders the villagers to get him khaana from their homes which he eats on a table long enough to serve as the passenger’s cabin in a domestic airline. And when his daughter announces she is pregnant, the father throws a fit in the style of a 8-year-old who has just been told his favourite GI Joe has gotten flushed down the toilet.

The narrative serves up enough ‘feud’ for thought to make our heads go dizzy with thoughts of ruptured continuity. But gosh, are we really seeking logical explanation for what the characters do, say and convey in this film where a tiger appears from nowhere to help the hero fight the goons in the climax? Is this a film to be taken seriously? Presuming for a minute that we are expected to abandon all rationale and ….well go with flow, how do we set aside the uneasy feeling that the narrative is laughing not with us, but at us?

The second movement of the pesky potboiler is taken over by the Mahesh Manjrekar-Paresh Rawal duo doing the Amjad Khan-Kader Khan banter from the original “Himmatwala” with a dash of homo-erotic humour thrown in when the duo are forced to share a bed in a cowshed. This is where the mystery of the shapeless potboiler deepens.

The dialogue that follows between the two bedded buffoons has to be heard to be believed. To their credit, Manjrekar and Rawal, seasoned troupers both, try their utmost to have fun with their parts. Their vain efforts to infuse a joie de vivre in the clogged veins of this perverse potboiler only reminds us that stereotypical characters from conventional mainstream cinema died long before Joy Mukherjee.

Any attempt to revive the old-fashioned masala potboiler would require oodles of inbuilt humour and a developed sense of spoofiness. “Himmatwala” lacks both. It is neither fish nor fowl. How does one describe the film in a nutshell? For that we can go back to one of the songs recreated from the original Himmatwala.

Ajay Devgn, the Himmatwala of the new version tries blending his valour with comedy but fails miserably this time around. There's definitely a limit to extract from a formula and Ajay seems to have reached his. South star Tamannaah Bhatia on the other hand is the only respite in the film. Not only does she look beautiful but also plays her part well.

Movie review: 'The Attacks of 26/11'

A dramatised Bollywood account of the Mumbai attacks of 2008, when 166 people died in a three-day rampage, opened in the cinemas on Friday to present an unusually emotive tale told from the perspective of a police officer.

"The Attacks of 26/11" chronicles the events that began on November 26 2008, when 10 gunmen went on a killing spree throughout the coastal city, attacking two luxury hotels, a train station and a Jewish centre, among other places.

It is the latest in a recent spate of Bollywood movies taking inspiration from real-life incidents, a practice that used to be unusual. Just over the last few years, there have been films on the gruesome murder of a model and a daring bank heist.

The film's director, Ram Gopal Varma, said he decided to make the film to try and answer questions about how a small handful of attackers was able to lay siege to a vast metropolis the size of Mumbai.

"How can 10 men hold a city of 1.5 crore (15 million) people to siege? That is something everyone should know," Varma told Reuters.

The film focuses on the city police and their response to the attacks, for which India blames the Pakistan-based militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba, with veteran actor Nana Patekar playing a high ranking Mumbai police officer referred to only as "joint police commissioner."

Patekar's character, based on a real policeman, narrates the film, which portrays in graphic detail how the hapless police force, caught completely unawares, struggles to cope with an attack of such enormity.

At one point he frantically tells a government official, "I don't know what to do."

"You need to understand that the police were confused and didn't know what to do," Varma said. "If you were in their shoes, you would react the same way to an incident of this magnitude. It is important to understand their point of view."

Advertising posters show a group of 10 men, the attackers, in a dinghy heading towards the iconic sea-facing Taj Mahal hotel, one of the most recognised buildings in Mumbai - a nod to the powerful shock and emotions the attack still evokes, symbolised by the hotel.

Varma himself has fallen afoul of these still unhealed emotional scars, setting off controversy several times.

The first came just days after the attack, when he was seen at the Taj Mahal hotel with a major politician and accused of insensitivity for visiting the site so soon after the disaster and of gathering material for a film, which he denied.

Last November, a political ally of the government said shooting at the actual locations of the attack "mocked" Mumbai residents.

"Seeing broken glass or grenade dust isn't going to help me make a film," said Varma, who has directed around 40 movies in the past 25 years.

"But after two and a half years, once the investigations were completed and the charge sheet was filed ... that is when I had the time to study it and that is when the idea of making a film came into my mind," he said.

So far, the movie has garnered mixed reviews. While a critic for news channel NDTV said some moments in the film were "gripping enough to touch some raw nerves," a review for mainstream newspaper DNA wasn't as kind.

"'The Attacks of 26/11' ends up being a confused piece of work that has neither the well researched methodology of a documentary nor the dramatics of a feature film," critic Tushar Joshi wrote.



Movie review: 'Special 26'

Special 26'
U/A Drama;
Cast: Akshay Kumar, Anupam Kher, Manoj Bajpai, Kajal Aggarwal, Jimmy Sheirgill, Rajesh Sharma, Kishore Kadam
Director: Neeraj Pandey
Rating:  * * * *

As second films post remarkable debuts often do, Neeraj Pandey’s 'Special 26' carries the same burden that Bejoy Nambiar’s 'David' did last week. A lot of us wondered if Pandey would be able to recreate the tension and appeal of 'A Wednesday'. Well, the answer is, yes he does. Although 'Special 26' is a much different subject..

Ajju (Akshay Kumar) is part of a conman team comprising of P K Sharma (Anupam Kher), Iqbal (Rajesh Sharma) and Joginder (Kishore Kadam), who dress up as CBI officials or Income Tax inspectors and loot people’s homes in broad daylight. Their victims are mostly politicians or businessmen with a lot of black wealth who are reluctant to report the crime to the police.

When Ajju is not devising their next victim and looting, he is romancing a neighbour’s daughter (Kajal Agarwal) whose parents have fixed her marriage to someone else. All’s going well till this under-the-table case is brought to an honest CBI cop Wasim Khan (Manoj Bajpayee). Like a dog with a particularly yummy bone, Khan devises how to lay a trap to beat Ajju’s at his own game.

There is no doubt that Neeraj Pandey’s second film is a winner. Pandey and his production crew also stay strictly loyal to the era of the story, India of the 1980s. Only Maruti 800s and Fiats on the roads, no skylines visible anywhere, briefcases, watches, the look is authentic and enhances the sober mood of the film.

The story is fast-paced and thoroughly gripping, so much so that the protagonist’s minor romantic track actually seems like a drag. Much of the film’s success can be credited to an absorbing and audacious plot and its gentle sarcasm and quiet humour.

Another share of the film’s success goes to its fabulous performances. Anupam Kher is such a delight to watch when he is not playing ‘daddy’ roles. Jimmy Sheirgill is always in control. Akshay Kumar surprises with his restraint; his mellow over-confidence is the perfect foil to Manoj Bajpai’s mocking belligerence.

So what is the hitch? Just a small one; the end of the film is a slight letdown, a little far-fetched for our logic. But even then, 'Special 26' is worth a watch.

Allahabad: 35 Kumbh pilgrims killed in Allahabad railway station stampede



Several eyewitnesses said there was a lathicharge by the police that compounded the panic but Divisional Railway Manager Harinder Rao claimed passengers were not baton charged and that police only attempted to regulate the movement of the crowd at the platforms by asking passengers to stand in line.

Eyewitnesses said the stampede at Platform No 6 was triggered near a foot overbridge when hundreds of passengers rushed to board a train whose arrival was being announced in a public address system. Platform No 6 was later sealed by authorities. The bodies of some of the victims shrouded in white cloth were kept at the platform for several hours.

At least 35 persons were killed and scores of others injured on Sunday night in a stampede at Allahabad railway station teeming with thousands of pilgrims returning after a holy dip at the 'Maha Kumbh' here. A senior police officer  said 35 people died in the stampede that occurred at 7:15 PM when Platforms No 5 and 6 were packed with thousands of passengers.