Saturday, January 20, 2007

Shake What Ya Mama Gave Ya

I was listening to a Hindi song from the movie Naksha and the music was composed by Pritam. He is notorious for using other musician's work without any qualms and without any modification and still calling himself the music director. Well, this post is not about him.

In that movie, a song goes like this: Shake What Ya Mama Gave Ya ... HMMM.......

The song wasn't too bad to listen to but the lyrics were banal. Some of the reviews were scathing and merciless, more so concerned with the lyrics. I, for one, was a little relieved that some lyricist was able to come up with something original, even if its quality sucked. The joy didn't last long. Apparently, some bloody frigging' geniuses Pharrell Williams & Ying Yang Twins had apparently come up with the above mentioned lyrical verse in some hip-hop song.

If we had to plagiarise, why go for such abysmal work??? How low do we stoop???

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Sunday, January 14, 2007

Guru - Movie Review (Hindi, 2007)

There is a saying in our village,
if people say bad things about you,
you must be doing something good.

The above quote used in the movie sums up the movie to a large extent. A movie by Manirathnam is always something to look forward to. They usually have enough positive attributes to overlook the negative ones. Same can be said about the latest offing from Madras Talkies.

Guru is the story of a guy making it from rags to riches, defining his own norms and breaking the convention. Though a disclaimer at the start of the movie claims its not based on any individual, the lead character here shows a lot of Ambani's trait.

One big problem with the movie is that the lead character excellently portrayed by Abhishek doesn't carry the emotional appeal to endear itself to the audience. Mani covers a lot of territory without addressing any aspect in-depth. As a result, when Abhishek gives a long monologue right at the end, its not uplifting. It falls a little flat. Also, there aren't many instances portraying the lead character making an impact on other's lives so as to make us care for him.

Mithunda plays an honest news publication owner who is initially impressed with Guru's enterprising attitude and later falls out with him as he learns how Guru plays outside the law for his personal gain. Interestingly, Mithun is given top billing. I really liked his portrayal and was pleasantly surprised. This is more due to the fact that I haven't watched any of his earlier art house performances and only sat through the trash that he dished out later in his career. Madhavan plays the young reporter hell bent on exposing Guru. There is not much to write about the two female leads. Aishwarya and Vidya are mere window dressing and could have been done away with.

Its also hard not to compare his latest effort with two other bio-pics that he has come up with: Iruvar and Nayagn. Both undisputed classics. Kamal and Mohanlal played characters with enough grey shades in them but were able to endear themselves to the audiences. That attribute is missing in Guru and hence gives an unsatisfied feeling.

A movie like this could have easily done away with the songs. This could be easily the worst of Mani-Rahman combination. The belly dancing song shot in Turkey with Mallika gyrating does offset some of the disappointment. Other songs are badly placed and just stall the story telling process.

In spite of the all the above criticism, the movie is definite paisa vasool for the following reasons.

1. Excellent acting by the three male leads.
2. Wonderful cinematography by Rajiv menon
3. Occasional manirathnam's touches
4. Some crisp dialogues.

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Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Lawsuits and actors

It was really funny reading about the lawsuits slapped against Hrithik, Aishwarya for their smooch scene in Dhoom 2 and about the hullabaloo over Mallika for her New Year dance performance. Thankfully, the police have so far not entertained filing a case against Mallika. Not that I am a big fan of Mallika or anything.

To her defense, her contract stipulated that that performance shouldn’t be shown on TV and as soon as she found out about the breach in her contract, she walked out half way through the performance. There is some lawyer planning to file a case against her saying that her performance was vulgar and he felt uncomfortable watching it with his family. He didn’t mention how he would have felt had he been alone while watching it. From the pictures, it looks like she was wearing a skin coloured tight costume. I just cant understand why he is not suing the TV channels for broadcasting it or the regulatory board that monitors what programs should be shown on TV and at what times. It looks like a cheap publicity stunt.

The case against Hrithik is even more hilarious as the smooch scene shown was totally lame and tame compared to what we have been exposed to in the last few years. Only reason for this lawsuit, in my opinion, is that both the actors are popular and again the lawyer is trying to make the most of the situation. The censor board cleared it and if the lawyer had a problem, it should have been against the censor board for allowing the scene that only the lawyer found so objectionable. Looks like he hasn’t watched any of the other movies in the last two years where a smooch is almost as obligatory as having actors in a movie.

The media too plays up the issue and gives the lawyers more publicity than they deserve. Hope the courts see through the motive behind the lawsuits and throw out these cases.

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South african fiasco

I watched the cricket series between India and South Africa. It’s been a while since I watched the entire series and it made for tough viewing given that India under-performed during the one day series and squandered a good start in the test series.

It’s hard to imagine that it was the same Indian team that won 12 or 13 matches in a row against strong opposition and now fails to even put up a decent fight. The bowling was pretty good at times and regularly removed the top order with few runs on the board. But the inexperience of the bowling attack was noticeable when bowling at the death where they gave a lot of runs. The Indian batting was completely another matter though. It’s hard to believe that a team having the likes of Tendulkar, Dravid, Dhoni and Sehwag would misfire this spectacularly. Tendulkar did have a couple of decent knocks but not the kind that would inspire the rest of the team. He looked laborious while infrequently playing a gorgeous drive or cut, and that is definitely not adequate.

After the one day series, it must have looked like the Indian team needed a minor miracle to even put up a fight in the test series. That miracle came in the form of Sreesanth who bowled spectacularly to dismiss the SA team for 84 in their first innings. His aggressive attitude combined with his ability to actually back up his words while bowling was the shot in the arm needed by the team. Ganguly too looked really good with the bat. Everyone would know about his deficient technique against the short rising ball into his body but that may not be enough to keep this batsman down. He copped a few, took a few blows on his body and was laid low by a nasty bouncer but he always came back fighting. He was fluent scoring runs at a decent pace and kept the score board ticking. Tendulkar was doing fine as well until the very last innings where his scratching and prodding innings was flagger basting. It was the right time for him to make his presence felt in the match and prove that he is a big match winner. It’s been a recent trend where the need was to keep the scoreboard ticking while playing carefully, Tendulkar inevitably comes up with a knock that completely deflates the morale of his own team and plays right into opposition's hands. This kind of approach was also noticed in the last match of the series between India and England.

If you had to pick a session that defined the India's approach to winning or losing the match, it was this session when Tendulkar and Dravid bored everyone to sleep while batting in the second innings. Its quite clear that Tendulkar may occasionally come up with a decent knock but its hard to imagine him play a defining innings like Lara (even at this stage of his career) is capable of. This is not to belittle little mater's contribution over the years but to make the management open its eyes and consider him in the larger scheme of things only if he is still the best player around to fill the slot he currently occupies. His bowling is still awe-inspiring though he is being under-used. I still wonder why he is not being considered as an all rounder when this little guy can bowl virtually everything short of sheer pace bowling.

It’s good to see Ganguly back in the team and hope he carries the same attitude forward as the world cup is nearing. Some players who really impressed during the tour were Dhoni (though he was not matching his own high standards but still performed considerably better than others), Karthik, Sreesanth, Zaheer khan and of course Ganguly. Its high time players like Tendulkar step and provide the kind of impetus and performances that players of their stature should.

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