Kill Dil is a disaster!

Kill DilBefore I rant, which I absolutely must, let me quickly congratulate Kill/Dil for unlocking a whole series of achievements.

Let’s see, wastes Govinda, makes Gunday look like one of the most sorted out movies of the year, and, baap of all blasphemies, squanders Gulzar’s recitation talent around poorly-timed, insipid song picturisations.

Shaad Ali returns to direct a new movie for Yash Raj Films after seven years with a script so abysmal; I can almost hear the folder crying out Move to trash.

While on the subject, a gangster (Govinda) takes pity on two orphans lying next to a trashcan and raises them to be mastermind henchmen (Ranveer Singh, Ali Zafar). Trouble arises when one of them falls for a girl (Parineeti Chopra) and decides to mend ways by doing stuff that will make him hero in her eyes, offender in the villain’s and a certified moron in ours.

Hold on, this isn’t really Gunday. This is, this is… Desi Kattey. Seriously, even the on-going season of Bigg Boss has more meat than this half-cooked turkey of a script.

What it does have is a knockout title track from composer trio Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy, where Sonu Nigam’s rendition alone packs more punch than two hours of the deflated bromance between Ali and Ranveer. I’d happily sit through 120-something minutes of K-k-k-k-kill the Dil playing in a loop over this pretence of a caper that’s a no go in both style and substance.

It’s as though Shaad discovered some boob’s cell phone, read all 20 SMS jokes (the kind that led to the invention of technology like mute and block) and decided to make a no-holds barred dumb movie out of it. Intersperse it with random songs, birdbrained logic and a romance that’s about as exciting as toothpaste.

When we first meet Parineeti Chopra, she’s seductively gyrating her amply bare waist in a nightclub booth and then comes down on a gawking rake in a manner so bawdy, you’d mistake her for a bar dancer. Turns out Ms Moneybags is an MBBS dropout turned social worker helping reformed criminals find jobs when she’s not partying or dating. (Read NEVER.)

Kill DilChopra is terribly miscast and wears clothes that should’ve never left the wardrobe. Meanwhile, the dapper albeit deadpan Ali Zafar strolls through the chaos with a zombie’s enthusiasm. Their co-star Ranveer Singh is a charming lad and quite a hoot when he can regulate his hyper energy.

But his character in Kill/Dil is too haphazard to make sense. As admirably as he tries, occasionally scooping out a laugh out loud, his change of heart is ridiculously unnatural.

And, finally, there’s Govinda doing/dancing his best to appear threatening in an underwhelming, underwritten part mouthing lines like, “Kutta jab pagal ho jaaye toh usse goli maar deni chahiye” in that mock badass vein he reserved for a David Dhawan comedy. Too bad there’s no Kader Khan to put a lid on it.

Stars: 1

This review was first published on rediff.com.

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Revisiting Aamir Khan’s frothy coming-of-age in Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar

Jo Jeeta Wohi SikandarI have fond memories of an ice cream parlour I frequented every single weekend as a kid. It wasn’t particularly fancy but, back then, it was among the only few places that offered such variety in flavours. And the best part was how the shop owner always gave me a complimentary cornet to chomp on because I enjoyed the crunchy sounds it led to.

The ice cream parlour now exists only in my memory. Yet every time I remember it, I am instantly transported to my childhood.

To me, Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar is just like that ice cream parlour. Except, as opposed to places or people, movies are everlasting—no matter how many years go by, not a single frame changes. And, if one’s lucky, neither does the joyful response it first sparked of what would go down under as a childhood favourite.

Every time I revisit Mansoor Khan’s wholesome coming-of-age drama, I go back in time and reminisce of all the carefree school days when I could easily relate to Sanju and gang’s defiant tone (“Raahon mein humse takrayega jo hatt jayega woh ghabrake”), Anjali’s legitimate excuse (“Woh toh sab bekaar ki baatein karti hain”) for not hanging out with girls her age and a vocabulary filled with silly jibes like ‘Tunna, Paunchy, Pyjamachaap.’

Set against the picturesque hills of Dehradun (it’s all Ooty, Kodaikanal and Mumbai), Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar tells the story of Sanjay aka Sanju Lal Sharma, a mischievous college kid and how he eventually channels his prankster energy to emerge victorious in race and reality.

Mansoor intended this to be his first film before he got busy with the romance of star-crossed lovers, Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak, which catapulted cousin Aamir Khan and his leading lady Juhi Chawla into instant stardom. But the subject stayed close to his heart and four years later he was out with what he deems to be his best work.

Having grown up on a staple diet of Archie Comics, it’s easy to see Mansoor has modelled Dehradun’s cosy universe on the lines of Riverdale and Mall Road’s Ramlal’s Café (site of JJWS’s several dramatic and chaotic scenes) is its answer to Pop Tate’s Chocklit Shoppe whereas the influence of its four iconic characters is unmistakable in the characterisations of Aamir Khan, Deepak Tijori, Ayesha Jhulka and Pooja Bedi as they slip under the skin of a utterly lovable Archie Andrews, cocky cad Reggie Mantle, golden-hearted Betty Cooper and the hot ‘n’ haughty Veronica Lodge respectively.

Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar Nevertheless, it’s the cutthroat rivalry between the prestigious colleges (Rajput, Xavier’s, Queens, Lawrence) and the lowly (Model), which works as the catalyst between their personal interplay aside from the all-important annual inter-college sports competition of which the championship won at the closing bicycle race is the ultimate prestige symbol.

The detailing and imagination gone in preparing the catchy banners and slogans is quite commendable. Especially Veer Bahadur ladke kaun? Rajput, Rajput. Sabse aage ladke kaun? Rajput, Rajput.

What Mansoor delicately conveys through is how, much of one’s youth is defined by competition and one-upmanship while the real challenge lies in excelling within not against.

But before the sports drama arrives at its momentous realisation, Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar introduces us to its lively ambiance of spoilt, rich types in preppy boarding school uniform on one side and the recipient of their perpetual disgust– the not-so-affluent local kids –the Pyjamachaaps, on another.

“Unki taraf dekhna bhi mat, dear. Model college ke hain.  Ek number ke ghatiya. Hum unhe pyjamachaap kehte hain. Shakal ke bhooke, pet ke bhooke aur har cheez ke bhooke,” warns a Miss Know-It-All to Devika (Bedi), the trendy new admission at an all-girls college, Queens.

Not all the criticism hurled in Model’s direction is unjustified. Scrawny, sleepy and slow-witted, most students would rather spend their time browsing through a provocative copy of Stardust screaming ‘Sex, Drugs, Booze and a bikini-clad Pooja Bhatt’ on the cover instead of paying attention to Asrani’s explanation of the Pythagoras theorem.

As the naughty younger son of Model’s sports instructor (Kulbhushan Kharbanda), Sanju (Aamir Khan) has little interest in athletics or academics and whiles away all his time with cronies — Maqsood (Aditya Lakhia), Ghanshyam (Deven Bhojani) and doting gal pal Anjali (Jhulka) to engage in all kinds of tomfoolery, much to his father’s chagrin who has his hopes pinned on the well-mannered, reliable, all-rounder elder son Ratan, (Mamik makes an earnest debut, so earnest he’s stereotyped for the rest of his career).

Jo Jeeta Wohi SikandarBetween helping his father run a small café and household chores, studies and training in an ill-equipped gym with an ordinary cycle as opposed to Rajput hotshot Shekhar Malhotra (Tijori), Ratan falls short of winning the championship, last won by his dad, also a Model College alumnus who defeated Rajput coach (explains the permanent scowl of Deb Mukerji).

Rest of JJWS is everything that happens around the time Model loses the race till the one it is hell-bent on winning by concentrating on the tale’s unlikely hero – Sanju.

The charming rascal that he is, Sanju easily wins over Devika’s affections by concealing his true identity and posing as a business tycoon’s son living in a palatial house (what’s passed off as Thapar’s mansion is actually the majestic Bangalore Palace). Devika drops erstwhile romantic interest Shekhar like a hot potato and Anjali who’s secretly crushing on Sanju goes from pehla nasha to pehla heartbreak.

As much as the audience enjoys his humiliation following the hilarious “Aye ghaseethe, yeh taaza wala bhi” scene, it would be foolish to assume an egoistic fella like Shekhar will take the rejection or buckets of cow potty on his clean-shaven mug lying down. In his arrogant fit, he retaliates badly leading to consequences that are much more grave than he intends them to be.

This upsetting turn of events, which prove near fatal for Ratan change Sanju’s wayward perspective and he begins to value his, previously taken granted for, family– an unconditionally supportive brother and persevering single father, gently illuminated in Jatin Pandit’s soulful rendition of Roothkar Humse Kabhi featuring a knee-high Imran Khan as his uncle Aamir’s younger, cuter version.

Jo Jeeta Wohi SikandarAnother family member, Aamir’s younger brother Faisal assisted his filmmaker cousin on the movie and also made a fleeting appearance as one of the blazer-clad students.

Mansoor’s flair for stroking emotional scenes with precise sentiment is a quality I admired in QSQT and it’s what’s endearing about the unspoken affection between Sanju and his uncommunicative father and the love-hate relationship between him and his older sibling—the hard time he gives a blushing Ratan over a classmate (Kiran Zaveri) he fancies.

Sanju’s methods are roguish but they have a greater good in mind as highlighted in the amusing Diwali-time prank he plays by writing two sets of fake love letters to unite the shy duo.

Considering he could get away playing a college student in his 40s (in 3 Idiots), Aamir has no trouble passing off as uniform-clad benchwarmer in his late 20s either. Always known to prepare for his role, there’s noticeable change in his physique as he graduates from a lazy, lanky sophomore to a driven, determined contender. The actor’s puckish charm and melting naiveté here makes it easy to adore his shenanigans, forgive his immaturity and, ultimately, root for him as intently as Ratan, Anjali and the rest of Model, in a cycling race that hasn’t lost its thrilling edge after more than two decades.

Even if it’s the only part of the film I watch, even if I know exactly where it’s all headed, an anxiously beating heart and a field of goose bumps are inevitable. I know my voice cannot travel through a television screen but I cannot supress that strong urge to cry out, “Change the gear, Sanju! Top Gear!”

Because Mansoor’s storytelling has such a strong emotional core, the results of this contest feel unusually gratifying and jubilant.

Speaking of which, 1992 turned out to be a terrific year for Ayesha Jhulka. Both Khiladi and JJWS earned her acclaim and attention. Her portrayal of Anjali is all heart and indulges Aamir because she loves him but when she discovers the girl he’s going gaga over isn’t into him, she doesn’t refrain from giving him a reality check.

Meanwhile, her co-star in Khiladi and JJWS, Deepak Tijori is suitably hostile as the graceless bully in a role originally offered to model Milind Soman. The latter even shot for some scenes but didn’t get along with the director and parted ways.

Jo Jeeta Wohi SikandarThe other girl, Pooja Bedi sparkles as the “bloody gold digger” with her straightforward sexiness and disregard for convention (though prudent enough to save herself from the fate of a certain Kamla and Vimla). She smokes, flirts, locks lips and recreates Marilyn Monroe’s flying skirt moment atop a car’s roof in a stunning image of one of Bollywood’s MOST romantic, most played, most requested, most dedicated (on every SINGLE Valentine’s Day) song.

A director of several blockbusters today, Farah Khan got her big break as choreographer with Pehla Nasha since the original dance director Saroj Khan was unavailable. Her novel approach to shoot the dreamy contents of this Majrooh Sultanpuri chartbuster in slo-mo punctuated with red (Sanjay’s jumper, Anjali’s bandhini skirt, Devika’s halter-neck dress) lends it a sort of wistful, romantic air, which pays an exhilarating ode to the winsome sensations of first love like never before and never after.

Shockingly, while JJWS was adjudged best film, wordsmith Majrooh lost out to Sameer (for Deewana’s Teri Umeed) at Filmfare Awards.

Regardless, Jatin-Lalit’s vibrant soundtrack is of great significance to this film. Rivalry is its running theme and expressed with delightful fervour and cheek in Yahan Ke Hum Sikandar, the city-bred chicas versus small town beauties argument of Shaher Ki Pariyon and, finally, the varying tone and attitude of its three compositions medley — as part of the inter-college dance competition — Humse Saara Jahan (yep, that’s music director Jatin as lead performer)/Arre Yaaron Mere Pyaaro/Naam Hai Mera Fonseca.

JJWS is often suspected of copying Peter Yates’ 1979 classic, Breaking Away starring Dennis Quaid, Dennis Christopher and Jackie Earle Haley and Daniel Stern. But barring the thematic similarity — four friends, class barriers, bicycle racing, father-son communication gap — both strike as distinctly different movies. The narrative, its characters, their motivations, the treatment and even the rules of the race in Breaking Away vary from that of JJWS.

Mansoor acknowledged the existence of this comparison but says he saw (and loved) Breaking Away only after the likeness was brought to his notice.

What is certainly ripped-off though is a segment of Jatin-Lalit’s campus favourite, Yahan Ke Hum Sikandar, the antara – the Jo Sab Karte Hain Yaaron bit takes unabashed inspiration from The Who’s Pinball Wizard.

Jo Jeeta Wohi SikandarJJWS masterfully weaves a compelling human story around multiple themes — siblings, true friends, single parents, dating, rivalry, triumph of spirit and sportsmanship. Even the language spoken by its youthful characters is characteristic of its age – pedestrian but catchy, hot-blooded but heavy-handed.

At one point, Shekhar claims Devika to be his “girl” and Sanju bites back with “No, she’s mine. And I am not haramzaada. You are haramzaada.”

It’s strength lies in its empathetic understanding of tender yearnings and misunderstood angst that constitutes teenage years and the lifelong lessons it imparts, which can be looked back with a sense of accomplishment and pride if you discover the inner Sikandar in time. All you have to do is change the gear to its highest capacity.

This article was first published on rediff.com

Also read:
Parakh| ArjunAnand Math| Khubsoorat| Andaz Apna ApnaKala Bazaar|Salaam BombayShaukeenSaaranshAmar PremMeeraLamheHero | Daddy | Kora Kagaz | Khamoshi | Awaara | Qurbaani | Half Ticket | Khel Khel Mein | Shakti | Gharonda | Junglee | Johny Mera Naam | Khamosh | Ittefaq | Lal Patthar | Chashme Buddoor | Umrao Jaan | Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak | Sikander | Ram Aur Shyam | Teesri Manzil | Mili | Yaadein | Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa| Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron| Aag | Chaudhvin Ka Chand | New Delhi | Taxi Driver

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The Annie & Anya Foodie Trail: Surprise Me: Mini Donuts

Surprises should be of the sweet and pleasant variety.

And so when the theme of this week’s challenge demanded ‘Surprise Me’ I thought I’d make mini donuts.

Though they are not exactly healthy and sometimes excessively sweet, I quite enjoy eating them every now and then. When I was a kid, mom would always pick up cream donuts from a bakery not too far away from my house. I could never finish the whole thing but, boy, was it yum?

Krispy Kreme, Dunkin Donuts, Mad Over Donuts or ones from local boulangeries, I’ve had it all but, honestly, homemade variety is the best.

Here’s a mix of chocolate sprinkles and powdered sugar coated donuts.

DonutsDonuts

And now be wowed by Anupma Bakshi‘s super fancy surprise of Cheesy Jalapeño Wrappers.

Related links:
Week 1: Pasta: Four cheese ravioli in butter sage sauce
Week 2: Mexican: Homemade nachos and salsa bar
Week 3: Exotic India: Valval
Week 4: Let’s Bake: Rosemary, cherry tomatoes & black olives focaccia
Week 5: Element Broccoli: Broccoli kebabs

The Annie & Anya Foodie Trail

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The Shaukeens: Akshay’s cameo is the best thing about this remake

The Shaukeens posterWhy do filmmakers option the rights of a film and then do everything to assert their version has nothing to do with the original to dodge comparisons? This fallacy is not only disappointing but lazy too.

I mean, if you are bold enough to touch a realized product, why not acknowledge your enthusiasm for the source or explain the inclination to alter it?

Director Abhishek Sharma’s The Shaukeens is a retelling of Basu Chatterjee’s 1982 film and adding The in front and s behind Shaukeen doesn’t make that any less conspicuous.

It too begins with a voiceover, by its star and producer Akshay Kumar (in an extended cameo), introducing the viewer to its three 60-plus, Delhi-based, central characters (Anupam Kher, Annu Kapoor, Piyush Mishra) and their lecherous preoccupation with women less than half their age.

What perhaps distinguishes them from roadside eve teasers is that their disparaging dissection of single and married young women is confined to muffled whispers whereas sunglasses conceal their ogling gaze and disturbing lack of propriety.

But when this sex-starved troika holes up inside one of the friend’s farmhouse with the aim of experiencing more than an eyeful, it concludes in an evening of great embarrassment and a steadfast resolve to holiday in a more sex-accessible country.

Thai Capital of Bangkok, Tigmanshu Dhulia’s script vociferously insists, is too revealing of their intentions. They settle for the less obvious Mauritius and find an answer to their prayers in the leggy bohemian and homestay host, Lisa Haydon. Her character, a fashion designer who creates hats out of used tooth picks, is going through post-breakup blues but mostly because her ex is grabbing more likes and comments on Facebook.

When the wannabe philanderers discover she’s a crazy fan of Bollywood star Akshay Kumar (playing a boozy version of himself), they take turns to impress the airhead by devising loony schemes for a meeting.

The Shaukeens justifies their actions as an outcome of loneliness seeing as one’s wife (an under utilised Rati Agnihotri) has turned devout; another’s is dead and third never got married. Which would be acceptable if Kher, Kapoor or Mishra weren’t saddled with overstating, caricaturish characterisations that contribute adversely to their cause and render them shabby and irredeemable.

Mishra pouts and pants in coppery hair, striped pink undies and a gruff voice that labours in vain to bring back memories of a certain Jagdish Bhai. His ape evolution scene, however, is worth a chuckle even if it highlights the exact opposite.

Anupam Kher doesn’t bring anything new to a part that frequently feels overfamiliar on him. And Annu Kapoor’s high-strung, gaudy performance simply doesn’t add up.

In Chatterjee’s light-hearted commentary on ageing, the explicit need for companionship among its three friends triggers a wild craving of a sexual escapade to hilarious results. Much of this tricky premise succeeds because they’re more reluctant than raunchy, more decent than dirty, more blundering than bawdy and, most importantly, more Ashok Kumar, Utpal Dutt and A K Hangal than anyone else.

Sadly, the adaptation’s sole takeaway from the original is the sensational, lustful nature of its elderly trio, which translates into a smouldering Haydon flashing a lot of skin for the bikini-requesting guests in her home. Her free-spirited but scatter-brained humour fares better when she’s fawning over Akshay.The Shaukeens

Even though there’s only 15-20 minutes of him in this 124-minutes long farce, the star (and his chart of expressions) emerges as its undisputed scene-stealer. As do some of his colleagues and family members who sportingly mock his celebrity as well as their own.

Abhishek Sharma’s competence in the satirical, evinced in Tere Bin Laden, extends into a tongue-in-cheek subplot around Akshay’s personal aspiration to win a National award by working under an idiosyncratic Bengali filmmaker (Subrat Dutta) against the good sense of his endorsement-pimping business manager (Cyrus Broacha providing a welcome relief from all the oversexed jokers) and commerce-obsessed director (an excellent Manoj Joshi) taking vicarious pleasure in his rival’s downfall.

Whenever Akshay appears on screen, The Shaukeens transforms into another movie – one that’s infinitely more comic, cheeky and winsome — it’s the one I enjoyed the most, it’s the one I wished I had come to see.

Stars: 2

This review was first published on rediff.com.

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The Annie & Anya Foodie Trail: Element Broccoli: Broccoli Kebab

Not a big fan of cauliflower but I don’t mind its milder cousin broccoli so much.

Although I must admit, I hardly ever buy this –rich in fibre and protein– veggie unless a recipe specifically asks for it.

This week’s theme involves using broccoli as a key element to dish out something tasty on the table. And so I’ve tweaked the recipe of one of our beloved Indian starters — hara bhara kebab to accommodate a generous quantity of this curly-headed green.

Here it is then, ladies and gentleman, broccoli kebab.

kebab

And do not miss Anupma Bakshi‘s take on the vegetable in a mouthwatering, rich and creamy avatar:  Cream of Broccoli and Mushroom Soup.

Related Links:
Week 1: Pasta: Four cheese ravioli in butter sage sauce
Week 2: Mexican: Homemade nachos and salsa bar
Week 3: Exotic India: Valval
Week 4: Let’s Bake: Rosemary, cherry tomatoes & black olives focaccia

The Annie & Anya Foodie Trail

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Posted in Blog, Photography | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment