Super filmi week: Long live Aamir’s Model School Pajamachaaps!

A childhood favourite turned silver.
A childhood icon passed away.
And a childhood heartthrob from Hollywood showed up to surprise a movie screening. My super filmi week:
It’s 25 years of Aamir Khan’s coming-of-age in Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar.

But the joy of watching Model School’s pajamachaaps upstage the snooty Rajput boys is no different from the time it first came out.

Feels like only yesterday I was cheering for Sanju Lal and shouting ‘Change the gear’ at the television set for a race that wasn’t even live.

Full of prankish humour, genuine drama, starry-eyed romance, upbeat soundtrack and high-spirited rivalry, Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar hasn’t lost an ounce of its innocence or freshness.

There’s something so enduring about Mansoor Khan’s feel-good creation, its characters, conflicts and cafes, which are tangibly woven into the story that makes it very natural for us to invest in them.

With every repeat viewing, I only wish Ramlal’s Cafe was a real place where I could place a yummy order of ‘special coffee, cheese toast, some pastries with French fries.’

That would be all. That would be something.

Roger Moore has passed away.

The handsome actor who played James Bond in seven movies of a flourishing franchise is my first introduction to the British secret service agent. Except my earliest memory of a 007 flick is not Bond but the bad guy.

The Atlantis fight scene towards the end of The Spy Who Loved Me, where the steel-toothed Jaws (Richard Kiel) gets stuck on a magnet till Bond releases and drops him into a shark tank (the inspiration for Shakaal’s lair in Ramesh Sippy’s Shaan) is a visual my awestruck eyes can never forget.

Although I grew up watching every single Bond starring Moore, with whom I share my birthday, I never felt any connect to the iconic spy who enjoys a rather revered place in my family.

Not until Pierce Brosnan stepped in did I truly care for the man or his martini.


What are the chances of a Hollywood superstar showing up for a movie club screening in Mumbai unannounced? Not so slim, I learned today.

On my way to PVR Phoenix, I read a news snippet online saying how Brad Pitt has made a hush-hush trip to the city to promote his Netflix original movie, War Machine.

‘Like that’s ever gonna happen,’ I sceptically shrug it off sounding exactly like Shrek after he’s read that line about true love’s first kiss.

Normally stars and event managers make such a big deal about these things that it’s nice to see there’s still some hope for straight out surprises.

Thanks to Team MAMI and Netflix India, I now feel a lot less distrustful.

As soon as David Michod’s bumpy but barbed military satire wraps up, the director, his producers Dede Gardner and Jeremy Kleiner and, what do you know, Brad Pitt get on the podium along with movie critic, MAMI director and moderator Anupama Chopra to discuss the film and filmmaking.

His catchy life mantras bring the house down — feel the pain, embrace the suck — and send my irrational resentment as a lifelong member of Team Aniston out of the window.

Sad when a beloved character overstays his welcome.

No amount of hype or digitally de-aging can make worn-out look wow or so I discover at the screening of the latest Disney offering.

Captain Jack Sparrow’s return to sea in Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revengesings a familiar tune and involuntarily cautions about the evils of overkill.

Even if the film itself is slightly better than the previous sequels, for an audience bored out of their wits watching an irreverent pirate repeat his gig over and over again, there’s simply no difference.

It’s what I wrote in my review, ‘After a point, the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise became so bloated and interchangeable, it became hard to tell one apart from another.’

What really worries me is that the makers have still not learned their lesson. The post end-credit scene teases the possibility of yet another sequel.

Like I said before, ‘I am seasick of it all.’


Amidst the noise of who wore what, I am catching up on all the rave reviews for The Beguiled, Sofia Coppola’s competition entry at the 70th Cannes Film Festival. (On Sunday, she went on to win the coveted Best Director prize, the second woman to do so in Cannes history.)

I’ve been intrigued by its premise ever since I saw the first promo.

As it is there’s something so extraordinarily enigmatic and temperate about Coppola’s storytelling, how she reaches out to her characters in their most intimate state without disturbing the emotional equilibrium of a script.

With The Beguiled not hitting Indian screens before July, I do the next best thing to satiate my curiosity — watch director Don Siegel’s adaptation of Thomas P Cullinan’s novel of the same name starring Clint Eastwood and Geraldine Page.

Set against the backdrop of the American Civil War, a wounded Union soldier is taken in by a group of women running a school.

The Beguiled plays on the themes of repressed sexuality and slow burn seduction. It acquires the shape of an awry thriller when the nature of his relationship with the adult and the adolescent occupants of the claustrophobic abode shifts from inappropriate to erotic.

My biggest takeaway from Siegel’s version is a sensual, sly Clint Eastwood. Bed-ridden for most part, it may be his most inactive role but also his most provocative performance.

Can’t wait to see Coppola’s take on it.

When he’s good, he’s great. But when he gets personal, he’s the best.

Music wizard A R Rahman is blessed with a rare sensitivity that recognises the inner-most feelings of the characters he designs music for.

Sometimes he hits a nerve so precisely, it’s like he understands the depth of their despair even more acutely than the creator of those complications.

A belief that only strengthens every time I play Tamasha‘s Tu Koi Aur Hai, also sung by the maestro, on a loop.

Sundays are for lazing about and watching obscure movies, ones that reiterate necessity as the mother of invention.

Like Professor Ki Padosan, which was only 75% complete when its leading man Sanjeev Kumar passed away.

Too ahead in the project to abandon it completely, its makers reworked the storyline in a way that would render the late actor invisible and roped in Sudesh Bhosle to dub his voice.

Next, they approached Amitabh Bachchan, a frequent associate of his beloved ‘Hari Bhai’ to do the voice over and persuade the audience about the most bizarre contrivances of its plot.

It’s one of his most personal commentaries too where AB pays tribute to his co-star in the final scene by hanging a garland around his framed picture.

Cheesy or touching, you decide. But the audience wasn’t moved by the gesture, not enough to indulge the endlessly delayed film’s bizarre creativity or sad history anyway.

This column was first published on
Long live Aamir’s Model School Pajamachaaps
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Getting ready for the Baahubali juggernaut 
Super filmi week with Hit Girl Asha Parekh
Feasting on Achari Alia, Mastani Papdi!
Grace under fire
More power to Anushka Sharma
Rishi Kapoor’s page-turning debut!
Picking Jedi skills from Amitabh Bachchan
Mera wala Shah Rukh
Ranbir-Ranveer, sigh sigh!
When Tabu struggled with a 500 rupee note
Of post-festival blues and toilet titles!
Finding links of life in Dhoni’s Ranchi and Madhuri’s Mujrim!
Inside Dharmendra-Hema’s intensely private world
Power of Pink
The irrepressible cuteness of Pooja Bhatt
Indradhanush was our Stranger Things
When Saif Ali Khan wore Rishi Kapoor’s sweater
Getting nostalgic about the 1980s, Winona Ryder & Kishore Kumar
Rediscovering Gulzar’s Ghalib & finding Free Love
Applauding NTR’s Superman on screen!
Tripping on A R Rahman
A millipede and Kimi Katkar’s monsoon romance
Udta Punjab, worst casting decisions, and naheeee…!
Of warring Khan bhakts and meeting Mogambo!
Ranbir’s forgotten romance in Bachna Ae Haseeno
Funnier than Aishwarya’s lips
Clashing superheroes and crying Khans
OCDing on Neetu Singh’s LPs!
Garam Dharam, Mantrik Origins, Rockstar Cruise

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