5. Corporate: Madhur Bhandarkar’s movies (with the exception of “Chandni Bar”) , being elaborately-mounted, heavy-handed morality pieces with an underlying “rich people are evil” message, are invariably packed with mostly monochromatic characters indulging in assorted forms of debauchery and malfeasance. “Corporate” , a tale about corporate greed and Bipasha Basu, is no different—- chronicling a dirty battle between two business families where everything , even bonds of love, have a “For Sale” tag on them.
Simplistic: Very much so. Over the top: Frequently. But just as with “Page 3”, “Corporate” is also vastly entertaining with a fast-paced twisting plot, liberally garnished with barely concealed allusions to actual/suspected corporate scandals, dramatic conflict, Payal Rohatgi as an “item girl” who doubles up as a hooker and competent performances from all.
4. Jaaneman: A song situation has been created. Suddenly there is a knock at the door. Salman opens it to find a bunch of qawwal singers standing there. The qawwal singers walk in, take their positions as Salman, Akshay and Anupam Kher stare on in silence—they have no idea of what’s going on.
Anupam Kher asks “Tum log yahan kya kar rahe ho?”
The qawwal singer says :” Music kaun bajayega, tera baap?”
The song starts.
The mystery of how backup dancers and musical accompaniment materialize from thin air during movie songs is thus explained, once and for all.
Any movie that has Salman Khan in drag is already half-way to greatness. But Jaaneman isn’t your average Bollywood masala made with an eye to NRI nostalgia or boldness-loving men. Make no mistake — escapist nonsense fun it is, with Akshay and Salman in rampaging comic form as a goofy astronaut and a failed matinee idol respectively. But what makes it stand out from a gazillion other “comedies” is Jaaneman’s endearing penchant for making fun of mainstream Hindi movies’ age-worn clichÃ©s while at the same time revelling in them.
3. Omkara: Vishal Bharadwaj’s Hindi adaptation of Othello set in the gangland of rural UP-Bihar had the critics in rapture and deservedly so. A timeless tale of greed, passion, revenge and jealousy Omkara packs a solid punch, helped no doubt by its shockingly profane but crackingly powerful script.
The true star of Omkara however is Saif Ali Khan who brings a visceral magnetism to his role as Langda Tyagi, the passed-over lieutenant who burns with revenge and hatred. Who would have thought that the chocolatey more-than-a-little effeminate “Aashiq Aawara” of the mid 90s, stilted and artificial in his dialogue-delivery, would metamorphose into India’s most versatile mainstream actor (this included Aamir Khan). Whether it be spitting out dialogues with barely-concealed venom or wordlessly echoing disappointment and shock (when he gets passed over for promotion), Saif is unforgettable in “Omkara”.
And the biggest tragedy is that despite this, 2006’s “Filmfare” Awards as well as a countless others will go to those clowns in Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna.
Makes you want to take a gun and start shooting at the peechwares of all the chutiyas.
2. Khosla Ka Ghosla: One of the things that Hindi movies seem to have forgotten is telling the story of the “every man” —-it’s always tycoonish NRIs in palaces, idyllic families steeped in sanskriti or mafia men cutting off ears with knives that form the fulcrum of their narratives. This is where “Khosla Ka Ghosla” is like a breath of fresh air with its protagonists looking, talking and fighting among themselves just like real people in real families do. There are no super achievers, no cloying happiness and no ring-a-ring-a-roses during weddings.
A story about how a family unites together to outwit a land-grabber (a delectably evil Boman Irani), “Khosla Ka Ghosla” is consistently funny with the real laughs coming from the interaction between the father (Anupam Kher) eager to bridge the generation gap with his sons (one a failure and another trying to fly away from middle-class stagnation by taking up a job in US) and Boman Irani’s spot-on portrayal of a mataji-obsessed land-shark trying to buy some “class”.
A superb family movie that touches a chord close to one’s heart.
1. Kabul Express: One thing that Bollywood has never done right is a good road movie. “Road” was execrable, “Daud” was a misfire and the closest one came to greatness was “Hum Dono” with Nana and Rishi Kapoor. But all that changes with “Kabul Express”, as different from the traditional Hindi movie as anything I have seen, a worthy “road” movie that truly moves.
Shot wholly in Afghanistan (no attempt to shoot in the Chambals and pass it of as Kabul) with authentic-looking characters who speak authentic-sounding dialogue, “Kabul Express” is a smart snappy comedy that is at the same time a moving testament to the destruction of a nation and its people by international politics. It is not easy to string together laugh-out-loud situations (in one particularly symbolic as well as hilarious scene, the Pakistani Taliban fighter gets nearly buried in an avalanche of Pepsi cans) with understated moments of tragedy (the Afghani driver pointing to the barren desert and reminiscing about the good old times when these dead lands were verdant fields full of grapes) but first-time director Kabir Khan manages to seamlessly weave the two to create an exceptional movie that makes you reflect long after the credits have rolled.