Khamoshiyan review: A ghost no one takes seriously!

Khamoshiyan PosterGhosts like to hang around dimwits with an uncontrollable libido. It’s convenient, you see.

Only a certified dolt would check into a spooky, vacant hotel and stay on because a mysterious head turner runs it or accept rides, shelter and a suspicious glass of wine from creepy, crooked strangers.

Khamoshiyan, written by Vikram Bhatt and directed by debutant Karan Darra is populated with such oversexed fools and, again, conveniently assumes the viewers will shove their brains in a corner as remote as the mansion on screen to revel in the cheap thrills that ensue.

It all begins when a one-book wonder (Ali Fazal) shaken by his bitter (read five minutes of flat out phoniness) breakup, ventures into the deep, desolate woods of Kashmir seeking inspiration for his next novel. It’s actually South Africa and that’s why such absolute nonexistence of army.

Author fella lands in a secluded redbrick manor filled with all the generic props – swooshing winds, looming paintings, self igniting fireplace, tumbling books, wide stairs, French windows, locked rooms, eerie wine cellars and a vintage radio’s ominous cry– Aayega Aanewala, a low-brow nod to the bizarre, enigmatic genius of Kamal Amrohi’s Mahal.

He’s instantly drawn to the manor’s lady, manager and housekeeper (Sapna Pabbi) as emphasized in the camera’s constant focus on her strategically bared cleavage. All that multitasking, plus nursing a bedridden husband (Gurmeet Chaudhary), would leave anyone sapped but her cold, robotic tone vies for a mystifying stature.

Hum sab apne raaz ke shikaar hain,” she muses as if explaining why Vikram Bhatt’s trapped in a horror rut.

Curious events ascertain that the site is haunted. Only Khamoshiyan is so consumed by its cheesy scares-sex-scares-sex pattern, the upshot is tacky and unintentionally hilarious. At one point, the exasperated ghoul actually has to explain the range of its supernatural mumbo jumbo to Khamoshiyan’s daft protagonists.

This demonic presence is one of the most juvenile representations of evil I’ve witnessed in a while.

As if it’s not humiliating enough that no one takes you seriously, the wretched thing has to resort to form shifting tactics that render it more mutant than monster. Also director Darra, please teach your bhoot some keyboard shortcuts, it’s embarrassing to see how much time it took to delete text from one measly document.

Scenic locales, half-decent actors and a lilting soundtrack keep the hocus pocus tolerable till interval point. Thereafter Khamoshiyan slips into a hopeless mess of time worn ghost busting, freakish sights and comical gems like “Hum yeh laash paidal nahi le jaa sakte.”

Stars: 1.5

 This review was first published in rediff.com.

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Review: Dolly Ki Doli is worth a ride!

Dolly Ki DoliI can name a hundred movies where the end shot is that of the hero and heroine tying the knot. Marriage is a national obsession, an adopted pastime and so deeply entrenched in our collective consciousness that any refusal to get on the ‘I do’ bandwagon is almost viewed as rebellion or, even worse, a mistake.

First timer Abhishek Dogra’s droll Dolly Ki Doli isn’t an anti-marriage propaganda but deviously defiant towards the institution while both — mocking and exploiting — the pomp and pomposity that leads up to sealing the deal.

Personifying this sass is serial con bride Dolly (Sonam Kapoor) while Rajkummar Rao and Varun Sharma chip in as her silly, significant bakras. There’s also a pretty Pulkit Samrat, playing an achingly stiff, un-Chulbul clone of Salman Khan’s cop in Dabangg.

Although the film’s premise is uncannily similar to Punjabi rom-com RSVP-Ronde Saare Vyaah Pichon (high on the hilarious banter of comedian Jaswinder Bhalla) Dolly Ki Doli subsequently moves out in an entirely unique direction.

With its winsome ensemble of actors, background actors and walk-in parts, the lighthearted caper radiates an inviting, attractive energy that’s pleasant to be around even if hardly profound. Moreover, Dolly Ki Doli goofs on the coy dulhan stereotype with such wicked relish it never gets dull.

Save for Samrat, much of the casting hits a home run. The incredible Rajkummar perfectly brings out the tragicomic impulses of a duped romantic, Varun Sharma’s believability as a puerile, Punjabi, momma’s boy is both a masterstroke and matter of concern.

As for the lady in the Doli itself, Sonam’s Dolly is playacting to entice suitors for most part and her rendering of the obvious, overstated airhead (sporting a wardrobe that’s a gorgeous mini movie on its own) is sly enough to be on the joke and be a sport about it. All she needs now is to get rid of her spoilt princess speech, work on her dialogue delivery, modulate it and her performances will come out looking much more effective.

A still from Dolly Ki DoliSomewhere in its breezy 100 minutes duration, the film cooks up a fuzzy origins story about its looteri dulhan and none whatsoever of its gang members. Strangely, the ambiguous, unapologetic tone favours the overall whimsy narrative and its aversion to melodrama.

Even if the concluding bit of the script could do with a couple more rewrites, I am glad Dogra doesn’t cop out to accommodate an overnight change of personality.

And that alone make Dolly Ki Doli worth a ride in my book.

Stars: 3

This review was first published on rediff.com

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The Annie & Anya Foodie Trail: Bento: Teddy in a romper!

To tell you the truth, I’ve never really had any experience with Japanese bento meals. I thought it would be challenging to try my hand at assembling one courtesy this food meme.

But this is a bit of a hack job coz I didn’t even have a real tiffin box. I’ve basically used whatever decent restaurant takeaway container I could find. Also, didn’t find the time to shop and buy nori sheets like I originally planned. So I just followed a rough outline of what is to be done and dug inside the fridge and came up with this last minute teddy in a romper bento. ;)

Well, that’s it. Meme accomplished. Like I said in the beginning, never set out to make a point. This was a purely fun exercise made even more enjoyable with Anupma Bakshi lending me company. I’d like to believe it’s only made us realise the extent of our potential and how much happiness food invariably generates.

So thank you Anu, this one’s for you.

BentoBento


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
Week 6: Surprise Me: Mini donuts
Week 7: Intimidating recipe: Pyaaz ki kachoris
Week 8: Beverages: Strawberry margarita mocktail
Week 9: Dips: Roasted beetroot hummus
The Annie & Anya Foodie Trail

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PK: Mixed bag of spunk and schmaltz!

PKAmong showmen and whiz kids, game changers and auteurs resides a genial filmmaker, a fairy godmother the disenchanted audience badly needs.

Rajkumar Hirani could easily be mistaken for that kindly neighbour in one’s building, the sort who greets you in the lift with a warm smile and offers to help you with the grocery bags.

But mostly he’s the genius generator of best-selling philosophies like jadoo ki jhappi, Gandhigiri and all izz well — persistently seeking some good in an unthinkably dark world through oddball protagonists driven by curiosity and a desire to repair dated, defective mind-sets. It’s the foundation of all his features, be it Munnabhai MBBS, Lage Raho Munnabhai, 3 Idiots and, now, PK.

Somewhere through the frolic, in playing society’s self-appointed conscience, Hirani has fallen in a monotonous, pattern-predictable rut. In PK, he tackles the widespread evils of religion-dictated farce in this country, the bizarre rituals it entails whilst acknowledging the distinction of a divine presence from idol worship.

Previously Paresh Rawal-starrer OMG-Oh My God, a satire I quite relished — in fact a tad more than PK — raised similar concerns through hard-hitting rationality and an element of mythological fantasy. Part comedy, part drama, PK opts to share its genre specification with science fiction.

To get across his point, Hirani appoints Aamir Khan to play PK, a freakier, flashier version of 3 Idiots’ Rancho. The actor, given his newfound comfort in the socially aware, is on the same wavelength as his director resulting in a performance that’s flamboyant enough to make a splash. One sees a lot more of him than is accustomed to in PK. While it’s certainly not pin-up material, refreshing to see a mainstream star in such an uninhibited space.

During the course of his zany quest to return home, filled with madcap discoveries regarding God, fashion, music, language (watch out for one hilarious achha scene), social etiquette and self-defence (who knew Hanuman stickers could come in so handy?), PK bumps into a pixie-haired television journalist Jaggu Sahni with daddy issues (Anushka Sharma) and they join forces to blow off the whistle on a flimflam Godman (Saurabh Shukla is a hoot).

Before arriving to the story’s simplistic and lacklustre conclusion that points out to Hirani’s chronic weakness – schmaltz, PK moves at a blithe, buoyant pace save for the Aamir-Sanjay Dutt (a special appearance credited as a lead role) track, Tharki Chokro, which feels needless and punctures the narrative momentarily.

Music, as in the case of most Hirani offerings, is not a strong point in PK. His fluency shines in storytelling where even the most mawkish moments scrape through largely on his conviction and his actors’ charm.

PKMost of the initial film is centred on Aamir’s drollery and unique logic, wherein he uses a cycle lock to safeguard his chappals from temple thieves, pees on the walls of Delhi’s Red Fort (the notoriously picky censor board did not mind?) and tries to barter food for Gandhi’s pictures presuming it’s the man and not the moolah that carries worth.

Considering how rare it is when the hero and heroine do not romance one another, the dynamics of a high strung Aamir and sunlit Anushka’s animated chemistry are more Lilo and Stitch than, say, Shrek and Fiona.

Beneath its vibrant bouts of humour, PK mocks at the societal arrangement we have grown apathetic to. Those jokes are ultimately nothing but PK spewing sarcasm at the expense of our collective banality and desperation that wagers to chance and dubs it a miracle, rejoices in disparity, exhorts fear and has forgotten their fundamental right to question.

When PK works, it does with great merit, spunk and surprise. When it does not, it meanders, sermonises and guilt trips exactly in the tone of the one it reproaches.

Stars: 3.5

This review was first published on rediff.com

 

 

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The Annie & Anya Foodie Trail: Dips: Roasted beetroot hummus

Theme: Dips

What I have to offer: Beetroot hummus with generous topping of toasted pistachios.

Because: It’s healthy, it’s colorful and one of the only few times I don’t mind consuming beetroot. :P

Roasted Beetroot Hummus

Roasted beetroot hummusAnd here is Anupma’s take of my favourite Creamy avocado dip. Can wipe off an entire bowl of this in no time.

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
Week 6: Surprise Me: Mini donuts
Week 7: Intimidating recipe: Pyaaz ki kachoris
Week 8: Beverages: Strawberry margarita mocktail
The Annie & Anya Foodie Trail

Share via email+1Pin it on PinterestShare on TumblrDigg ThisSubmit to StumbleUponSubmit to reddit
Posted in Blog, Photography | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment