Shades Of Words


Dhan Te Nan

Ladies and Gentlemen, take a bow. Quentin Tarantino of Indian Cinema has arrived. And how!  With Kaminey, Vishal Bharadwaj weaves the familiar Tarantino-ish magic of black humour and gorgeous violence. Yes, I used the word gorgeous as an adjective to violence – because in film making that is possible and yet very difficult to achieve.


Kaminey is a milestone in the way movies are made in Bollywood. For starters, it doesn’t dumb down the story for the audience. Secondly, the way it is shot – the cinematography is far from the clean landscape beauty of commercial cinema. Instead the movie is shot in dark places, with handhelds, pretty shaky yet gripping. Thirdly, no one has ever dealt with the “judwa” theme like this in Bollywood, and I mean ever.

 The plot is complex. The movie takes around 20 minutes to establish all the characters and storylines. And as you are just starting to wonder – what on earth is going on – the movie kicks into its roller coaster ride.

 The plot in essence and in brief is as follows: Two identical brothers,   who hate the sight of each other, and lead very different lives suddenly find themselves in life threatening imbroglios. One, the straight forward college student has a pregnant girlfriend and her murderous brother to deal with. The other, a smalltime bookie and gangster, has stumbled upon loads of cocaine and is wanted by several mafia gangs. There are multiple plot lines that meet and separate throughout the movie and somehow all tie together in a hilarious and almost poetic end. Oh it is so brilliant!!

 Shahid Kapoor is brilliant in both his avatars, and is truly blessed to land a role like this. Priyanka Chopra does a very good modern day kaali wielding a burning torch in one scene and a machine gun in another. The whole supporting cast is absolutely fantastic in their roles.  My favorite performance was that of Amol Gupte as the slightly off the edge, don turned politician Sunil Shekhar Bhope. Every time he came on screen, I shivered with fear. All characters are unpredictable and that is what literally keeps the audience on the edge.

Kudos to the writers for such a brilliant script! I loved the use of different languages – that brought in so much authenticity to the mélange of characters that make the movie.

I am absolutely a huge fan of music in Bharadwaj’s movies. Omkara’s music made me weep. How can one man be so talented?

Gulzar’s lyrics are absolutely on the spot in the title song “Kaminey” and truly reflect the sentiment of the movie. And how can we not mention Dhan-te-nan – I don’t think it’s possible to hear this music and not head bang. I hear it in my car, literally everyday.

 It’s a must watch. No doubt about that.


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Mystery Weekend

This is probably the hundredth time that I am saying this on the blog that mystery stories are my comfort read. Back from a lovely but tiring trip and catching up on housework,  I just wanted to read something pacy. So I picked up “Menu for Murder” by J. G. Goodhind and “As if by Magic” by Dolores Gordon-Smith.
I am reviewing them together because they are part of the same genre and yet very different.
Now I am no writer and I feel very guilty rubbishing off someone else’s printed word, hence do not judge me when I say that “Menu for Murder” was an extremely painful read. It had bad language, feeble characters and an extremely silly plot. At times the writing was so bad that I wanted to cry.  When I say bad language, I dont mean incorrect or poorly formed sentence. It was just bad story telling. You know how people say  that if you explain an joke you have killed it. Well thats what Goodhind does with every punchline in the book. And then there is so much sex related content – victorian corsets, homosexuals, TVs, sexual deviancies- its all there in one book. I am no prude but it all becomes irrelvant and boring after sometime. I do like my detectives to be strong independent woman, but honestly, Honey Driver is the most annoying character ever. Everytime she opened her mouth I went – please stop talking !
I just managed to finish the book and I swear I will never read J.G Goodhind again. Ever.

After that terrible ordeal, I picked up Dolores Gordon-Smith’s “As If By Magic” – a post-war Jack Haldean story and had the most amazing experience. The language is much more mature, the characters well developed and the mystery actually interesting. I loved the fact that there were multiple plots that tied in really well together at the end. The two detectives Jack Haeldean and his Scotland buddy  were likeable and believable characters. Some of the platforms that the story is based on are post war England and growth in commercial aviation. Its fascinating to know that a non-stop journey from London to India was considered impossible just about 100 years ago – how far we have come! I have not much of  post war literature and I thoroughly enjoyed reading this well written mystery.


Up in th Air

Up in the air. In Suspension. In limbo.

This Oscar nominated movie is all about uncertainity. Narrated through the eyes of Ryan Bingham ( George Clooney) , a consultant, whose job is to fire people for companies. ,Up in the Air,  is clearly a movie of the times.
On the surface you would believe that this story is about being a frequent flyer, about calling the airplane your home and about the privelage of being a preimum customer. But it really is about life – about how as humans we tend to tie ourselves up and forget to do things that really matter.

Though Ryan claims to be free of all attachments with his famous empty backpack philosophy, when a change at work threatens to upset his lifestyle , you realize that his need to be on the move is a constant baggage.

The change at work is brought on by Natalie Keener ( Anne Kendrick) – fresh from grad school who is determined to revolutionzie her work place. Her “firing over videochat” brainwave is instantly popular with the management,but Ryan believes that she is far removed from the realities of her job. Directly challenged by Ryan , she is sort of “apprenticed” to him to understand the nature of her work. What follows is a comical little journey around the country with both of them .

The other main character is Alex ( Vera Farmiga) , a frequent flyer that Ryan bumps into at an airport lounge. They instantly fall into an affair. She is the female version of Ryan which is what appeals to him. She literaly becomes his mirror as the movie progresses and Ryan learns some pretty hard lessons.

” Uncertainity ” is the key theme of the movie – The unfortuante employee who gets fired faces uncertainity with his future. The young, ambitious newbie on the job, doesn’t know if her revolutionary ideas will be stomached with other veterans in the company, worse can she stomach them herself. She doesnt know if her life is going where she wanted to go.

Then there is Ryan, whose  his life has been literally suspended in mid-air. Is he ready to grow roots and settle down? When he meets the perfect woman, does he get the perfect life? Is he ready to follow his oft repeated advice that he hands out to the person that he has just sacked – take a second chance at life.

The acting is top-notch. I have been a huge fan of George Clooney over the recent years. I believe he has a talent for picking really slick and tight scripts – Michael Clayton, GoodNight and GoodLuck case in point. Up In The Air is another tight script full of surprises. Anna Kenderick is very convincing as a young busienss school pass out –  why are we all so naive that when we step out in the real world, all we want to do is change it?

I think Jason Reitman is my new favorite American director – I absolutely loved “Juno” and “Thank you for smoking” and this is another brilliant piece from him.

I loved the opening titles of the movie – the ariel shots of America! I was really excited to learn a little trivia about the St. Louis airport – yay!

Things that I did not like about the movie – the unabashed American Airlines, Hilton  and Hertz advertising !I found out later that  this was not paid advertisement – the production crew used these facilities and in exchange displayed the logos. Symbiotic business existence – good for the industry!

Verdict: Watch it.