Category Archives: Review

Kangana rules in Queen

Welcome to the second edition of the Weekend Movie Club. Queen won the poll by a wide margin. If you haven’t seen it yet it is available on Google Play and iTunes for streaming.

I loved Queen the first time I saw it and I enjoyed it even more the second time around to do this review.

Spoiler Alert: Avert your eyes if you don’t want to be spoiled.

When we first meet Rani (Queen) her wedding preparations are in full swing. It’s day of the mehendi (henna) ceremony, a day before the actual wedding.  Rani is full of verve and spirit and has a family that dotes on her and she is getting married to Vijay. A perennially popular name for a Hindi movie hero. What can possibly go wrong?

Plenty, we soon find out.  When the London-returned Vijay makes his first appearance, we find that he is no prize. He wants to call off the wedding because he considers Rani gauche and no longer cool enough for his fancy self. We see Rani crumple before our very eyes, her freshly applied mehendi  flaking off as she nervously clutches her phone. As she returns home crestfallen with her chaperone and younger brother Chintu, hugging herself, clutching her sweater, you just want to give her a hug.

Pay close attention to both the mehendi and the ugly sweater (her security blanket) she is wearing, they are a guide to Rani’s evolution throughout the movie.

After moping for what might have been and a pep talk by grandma, Rani decides that she wants to go on alone her honeymoon to Europe. Thus begins Rani’s journey from Delhi to Paris to Amsterdam and back again to Delhi.

When she leaves for Paris she is still sad about being dumped, but through subsequent epiphanies at pivotal moments, she discovers her own strength and recognizes Vijay for the controlling cad that he is. But enough about Vijay, the movie is about Rani and how she discovers her mojo, her spirit which was always there. Even when she was being chaperoned on dates by her younger sibling and bullied by her fiancé’.

In Paris, Vijaylakshmi the lanky half-Indian hotel maid takes her under wing. Initially, Rani is  shocked and scandalized by Vijaylakshmi devil-may-care attitude compared to her own uptight conservative upbringing. However, she is non-judgmental and open to new experiences and ideas and accepting of people for who they are. At the Paris night club when the drunk Rani loses her sweater and lets her hair down to the tune of Asha Bhonsale’s 1970s hit, Hungama, it’s a sight to behold! Though Rani and Vijaylaksmi are nothing alike on the surface, they form a close bond.

When she heads to Amsterdam on a train to a Youth Hostel, it’s a different Rani than the one that landed in Paris. Initially she is freaked out at the idea of having to share a room with three strange guys in a youth hostel. However, they win her over with their humanity and understanding of where she is coming from, something she never experienced with her clueless fiancé.

Rani soaks up the experience, takes up new challenges, sometimes makes an ass of herself, aces a challenge with flying colors. For the very first time in her sheltered life, she experiences freedom and finds it exhilarating. So when Vijay shows up in Amsterdam to make amends, she is ready. She no longer wilts at his criticism but stands up for herself and does not let him destroy what remains of her vacation. She will deal with him when she gets back to Delhi and deal with him she does!

Hungama Ho Gaya

Kangana is Rani, she makes Queen, utterly believable and real. Her National Award for acting in 2014 for Queen was well deserved. She imbues Rani with grace and character even in her most vulnerable moments. Rani’s transformation from a diffident and shy young woman to a confident person who knows her mind happens before our very eyes.  Kangana’s Rani is immensely likeable and vulnerable and makes you want to root for her.  We share her enthusiasm, cheer her small victories, feel for her when she is at the receiving end of Vijay’s clueless male privilege. Kangana Ranaut is a revelation as Queen. The supporting cast was memorable too, starting with her family, her grandma, parents and Chintu felt like a close knit Punjabi family. As for the three guys  she befriends on her journey, together with they reminded me of the United Colors of Benetton. Lisa Haydon as Vijaylakshmi stood out for me, tall and willowy and charming, she was Rani’s very own fairy godmother.

I liked Vikas Bahl’s  little directorial touches, like the motif of the fading mehendi and Rani’s ugly sweater.  As she becomes more confident and the mehendi fades, she no longer needs her security blanket. Even the change in Rani’s wardrobe is subtle, she still sticks to long skirts and kurtas. Its more daring than before but  Rani is never going to be another Vijaylakshmi, she just going to be the best Rani that she can be!

One of the reasons that this movie resonated with me was that I have known many Ranis IRL, who unquestioningly accept the unspoken mores of the society they live in. Shackled by tradition that expects women to put up with men who belittle them.  Unlike the stereotypical Hindi movie leading lady, Rani realizes that there is more to her life than a man.  She doesn’t waste away pining for a man who clearly doesn’t deserve her, she goes ahead and lives her life. You go girl!

Grade: A+

Credits: From IMDB

P.S. If you missed our first outing, check it out and stayed tuned for a poll of classic comedies to be reviewed next by the insufferable movie snob. Suggestions and questions welcome as always.

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Shock Corridor and Masculine Fragility

I want to thank Schroedinger’s Cat for inviting me to post with her on her blog. She thought our two ways of writing about movies and culture would be compatible, so here I am! I still have my (sadly neglected) blog about Pre-Code movies, so I’m going to use this space to talk about other movies in the same vein that don’t fit into the Pre-Code time period of 1929 to 1934. Today’s topic is Samuel Fuller, who managed to independently produce his own films his own way at the height of the studio system by imitating the ploy of the Pre-Codes and not submitting his films to the censorship office until they were completed. This allowed him to explore stories and subjects that were supposed to be off-limits, as in today’s featured film, Shock Corridor (1963).

A word of warning for those who’ve never read my regular blog, The Insufferable Movie Snob: my motto is “All Spoilers, All The Time.” If you don’t want to know what happens in Shock Corridor, go watch it and then come back to read this.

Okay? Okay.  Read the rest of this entry

Introducing the Weekend Movie Club

By two_kittehs

Do you need a respite from the Trump Horror Show that we are watching unfold? Starting this week, we will feature a movie review every weekend. I am happy to announce that the Insufferable Movie Snob, a serious student of  movie making  has joined forces with me in this endeavor. Stay tuned for her review of The Shock Corridor. If you haven’t already done so, you should check out her blog here.

Some Thoughts on the 2016 Oscars

So far I have only seen one of the nominees for the Best Picture, was glad to see it get the best picture award.  Spotlight was a brilliant movie, I was riveted from start to finish. Excellent story, I was rooting for Mark Ruffalo to win the best supporting actor Oscar.On my list to see next, Bridge of Spies, Brooklyn and Mad Max: Fury Road. Here is the complete list of winners and now for the more important things!

Chris Rock was funnier and more biting than last few Oscar hosts.

Best Dressed Winner : Brie Larson

Best Dressed Presenter: Tina Fey

Best Acceptance Speech : Mark Rylance, the winner of the supporting actor award. British actors give really good speeches don’t they? I wonder what their secret is, elocution competitions in school?

Best Presenter: Sasha Baron Cohen in his Ali G persona. Question: Has he ever interviewed Trump as Ali G?

Best Musical Performance: Lady Gaga, Till it Happens to You. I loved the song, first time that I had ever heard it.

LolCat Acceptance Speech

By two_kittehs

BTW Do you like my outfit?

A Quick Review of Bajirao Mastani

  • The musical score is sublime (jukebox 1 and  jukebox 2)
  • Best Number: Gajanana (entire song)
  • Most Boring Number : Mohe Rang Do Lal, even Bajirao looks like he is going to fall asleep at any moment.
  • Most relatable character : It has to be Priyanka Chopra’s Kashibai.
  • Best Dressed : Kashibai, I loved her traditional Marathi outfits, from the nose-pins to the nine-yard sarees to the traditional khopa, or the braided bun.
  • Character that defies Credulity: Mastani, she was drowning in a sea of fabric and seemed weighed down by the jewelry, especially the nose rings. You would die in Pune in summer (90s in shade, if you are lucky)  if you wore all those layers.  Also, her pedantic lectures about Ishq (romantic love) to her parents, Bajirao’s terrifying mother and Chattrapati Shahu  defy both common sense and credulity.
  • Dialog seems at times overwrought and overdone, see the point above.
  • Hottest scene: Kashibai sneaking up on Bajirao in the bath. (around 0.56 in the Albela Sajan video)
  • A paragraph about where Bajirao fits in the history (chronologically and in terms of importance) of India would have been useful either at the beginning and/or the end of the movie. A  prologue and/or an epilogue, if you will.
  • All in all, despite some missteps Sanjay Leela Bhansali manages to hit many high notes.  The main love story is not as riveting as  it could have been, I found it hard to root for Bajirao and Mastani.   However the resulting  fallout and conflict with orthodox religious hierarchy of Pune and Bajirao’s own family is believable and depressing familiar. Even today an interfaith  match like Bajirao Mastani wouldn’t go down too well among most Indian families.

Musical Score : A

Dialog : B-

Overall : B +

I will expand on these points in my upcoming posts. Until then I leave you with a poster of Bajirao Mastani starring my kittehs. As always questions and comments are welcome.

By two_kittehs ( Picture by: two_kittehs)

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Pinga From the Upcoming Movie Bajirao Mastani is A Hot Mess

After the energetic Gajanana and the visually decadent Deewani Mastani, two songs from Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s upcoming movie Bajirao Mastani, I was expecting a hat trick from SLB. However, the much hyped dance-off between the two female leads is a dud.  It didn’t float my boat. Here in no particular order is a list of my critiques.

1. If two women love the same man, the last thing they want to do is dance together. This premise stretched credulity even the first time Bhansali attempted it in Devdas.

2. Whatever this dance is, it is not pinga.  (pinga ghalene : to spin around)

3. Lame choreography is lame, mishmash of the dancing styles doesn’t quite gel.

6. Married Marathi women don’t put sindoor in the hair part. Research fail.

7. Where is the Gauri? Isn’t this supposed to be a Gauri celebration? Which is presumably why these women are dancing in the first place. This to me looks like a Gauri or Mangla-Gauri jagran or all nighter, which is primarily a huge sleepover party for women where they get together, gossip, sing songs, dance etc.  This is usually an female affair, by women and for women, and men are not welcome.

8. Plaigarism alert, Bhansali needs to credit V. Shantaram.

9. Deepika Padukone and Priyanka Chopra have nothing on goddess Madhuri when it comes to dancing abilities.

10. Is it my imagination or does the pattern on this dance floor resemble the one in Chandramukhi’s parlor? SLB we expect better from you, stop being so repetitive.

 

Deepika Padukone

Deepika and Priyanka pretending to put sindoor in their hair part in a still from Pinga (Credit :NDTV)

Grade: C-