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6 points: Nil Battey Sannata

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A simple small-town film with simple small-world issues. And a hard-hitting question: Doctor ka beta doctor, engineer ka beta engineer,… will the world go on like this? And are our dreams really supposed to be crippled by our current means?

This film was a breath of fresh air, in its treatment and its sensitivity. Money well spent. And here are the 6 points once more:

  1. I loved maths in school. I was probably the geeky chap who was teaching everyone and spouting off one-liners about loving maths and finding answers within questions. Nevertheless, the film connected with me. And if it connected with a math-lover like me, कुछ तो बात होगी.
  2. The film stands on the shoulders of four performances – Swara Bhaskar, not a false step as a conscientious and aware but undereducated young mother-cum-maid (and never have I seen her get a local accent wrong!), Ria Shukla, the ambitionless but street-smart daughter, believable to the extent that you hate her throughout, Pankaj Tripathi, a revelation as the polite teacher who comes with his own cute quirkiness, and Ratna Pathak Shah, in the tried and tested affluent but down to earth and helpful matriarchal figure.
  3. The music reminded me of the style that we know as the signature of Amit Trivedi in places, but isn’t by him.
  4. Agra! Never seen it so beautifully captured. The Taj makes an appearance in only a handful of scenes, but the city is still presented so tastefully – the bylanes, the bungalows, the city’s bustle, and the river flats (I remember seeing such terrain from the window during train journeys as a kid) – everything’s beautiful.
  5. The film stretches a bit in the second half. The challenges keep mounting, and the resolution stays a little out of reach. But in the end, what the protagonist achieves isn’t Hindi-film style absolute success, but just enough to validate her outlook of dreaming beyond what she’s capable of.
  6. The film does get preachy at times, though I understand it’s par for course for such a film. The math geek’s dialogues make him appear a bit too wise. The moment that changes the daughter’s heart is literally in your face struggle porn. And the final scene where the mother explains to the daughter about having a dream went a bit too long, and repetitive.
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Isa Khan Niazi’s Tomb

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Near the complex of the famous Humayun’s Tomb in New Delhi, there’s another mausoleum, whose architecture is strikingly different from its popular neighbour. It is that of Isa Khan Niazi, a Pashtun courtesan in Sher Shah Suri’s durbar, who fought against the Mughal empire.

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6 Points: Fan

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A film with two Shah Rukh Khans – one of them is the SRK as he appears in real life, and the other is the SRK from his early movies we all starting loving him from. On to the usual 6 points.

  1. The obvious: Wow it’s got two-two SRKs! And not like Duplicate, where the plot was furthered purely on them looking identical. Here SRK-2 has to take extra pains to pass for SRK-1. Well, the film crew took extra pains to make SRK look non-SRK. Inconsistencies on Gaurav’s look in some frames aside, thumbs up for pulling this off. While Gaurav Chandna looks every bit the 20-something Delhi boy whose mannerisms are like an early lanky SRK playing the 20-something local boy, and who sometimes turns into “indistinguishable from Aryan Khanna” when he intends to (i.e. when he goes “kar ke dikhata hoon“), SRK the real one impresses as being the larger than life, accomplished star that he is, right from his first frame. And Aryan Khanna isn’t shown as a do-gooder, made of the first snow, purely innocent victim here – he has feet of clay, he isn’t perfect, and he could have done a few things in a different way to avoid everything that followed. It’s difficult to root for either of them consistently – which makes it more interesting.
  2. It’s a thriller: The chase sequences, while thrilling, are too long and over the top. Each one of them. The end could have been way way shorter. Also, when we’re watching a film about a film star and a fan, it’s hard to suspend our disbelief when they’re both performing stunts fit for James Bond in every third scene.
  3. The ladies: Shriya Pilgaonkar, Sayani Gupta, Waluscha Dsouza, are present, noticeable, and do well in a film with two SRKs. No mean feat, especially for first-timers(?).
  4. My Name Is Khanna: SRK plays up his “chip on the shoulder with foreign law enforcement” bit again. The dialogues between Aryan and the interrogating police officer, and with the filthy-rich-NRI-patron are fun to watch. In fact, Aryan’s arrogant, borderline obnoxious wit makes him more real.
  5. The Brother: The mimicry of a contemporary actor (and I’m not telling you whom, go watch) is just accurate enough to become uncanny, and by the time you recognise it, it’s gone. Just shows that SRK can act, even when he’s not supposed to act like SRK.
  6. Comparisons with “originals”: I’ve seen The King of Comedy, and I’ve read the story of The Fan. SRK pulls off… wait… he isn’t even trying to pull off a DeNiro here. The archetype of the story has to be similar, but the writer and director have localised the context so much, that it’s an original in its own right (I haven’t yet watched The Fan, so don’t know if sequences, frames et al have been lifted). If you are going to ask Maneesh Sharma and Habib Faisal if this is inspired from the other two, and they say they came up with the story on their own, I’m going to believe them, whether you do or not.

If you were looking for a review of the film, this wasn’t it. You should be reading Rahul Desai’s blog for that.

Also, here are three jokes around Fan that have been floating around, verbatim. I’m looking for three more jokes to complete the list, so if you have any, please comment:

  1. “SRK’s fans are watching SRK’s Fan where SRK is SRK’s fan who tries to kill SRK’s fan [sic] coz SRK’s fan tried tokill SRK, Fan is Indian Inception”
  2. Watching ‘FAN’ right now. It’s just amazing and mind blowing. I will give it three stars out of five. You can also watch it live at your place. Just switch it on and it will start revolving [sic] at an amazing speed on the top of your roof [sic]!! 😃
  3. Kamal Haasan watches Fan. Decides to remake it. Adds a couple of more lookalikes to the film. Multiple fans against one star. – Rony D’Costa
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6 points: जंगल बुक (The Jungle Book)

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“जंगल-जंगल पता चला है, चड्डी पहन के फूल खिला है…”

कुछ दिन पहले डिज़्नी के नये जंगल बुक का हिन्दी ट्रेलर आया, गुलज़ार-विशाल के २० साल पुराने गाने के नये रूप के साथ. और मेरी उमर के आस-पास के सारे लोग सारे दिन इसी ट्रेलर को बार-बार-बार देखते रहे, और रोमांच का अनुभव करते रहे.

तो ये तो तय था कि फिल्म आते ही देखनी है. और हिन्दी में देखनी है. तो देखी, और ये रहे ६ पाइंट.

  1. फिल्म लाजवाब है. एक सेकंड के लिये भी मैं अपनी आँखें स्क्रीन से हटा नहीं पाया. और कहीं भी ऐसा लगा ही नहीं कि मोगली का किरदार एक जीते-जागते हाड़-माँस के लड़के ने निभाया है पर उन्हीं फ्रेम्स में जो भालू, तेंदुआ, भेड़िये इत्यादि हैं वह कंप्यूटर पर बनाये गये हैं.
  2. इफेक्ट्स मज़ेदार हैं. फिल्म ३डी में देखने लायक है, और कई ऐसे सीन हैं, जहाँ ३डी का प्रयोग कमाल का है.
  3. जिन्होंने ९० के दशक में दूरदर्शन पर आने वाला जापानी जंगल बुक देखा था, वे ज़रा अलग रूप की कहानी जानते हैं, पर ये फिल्म डिज़्नी की है, और डिज़्नी की कहानी पर ही चलती है.
  4. लेकिन, शेर खान के डायलॉग फिर से नाना पाटेकर की आवाज़ में सुनकर बचपन वापस आता-सा लगता है. इस के अलावा ओम पुरी का बघीरा, इरफ़ान का बलू, और प्रियंका चोपड़ा की का (एक हाल ही की निकम्मी सी फिल्म के नाम जैसा ये केवल संयोग से सुनाई पड़ता है), और बग्स भार्गव के किंग लूई के डायलॉग भी बेहद सटीक और मज़ेदार हैं – ऐसा लगता ही नहीं कि फिल्म अंग्रेजी में बना कर हिन्दी में केवल डब की गयी है. इस के अलावा मोगली के रूप में नील सेठी बहुत ही उम्दा है.
  5. मैं अंत तक हॉल में खड़ा रहा, ताकि “जंगल-जंगल बात चली है…” एक बार बड़े परदे पर देख सकूं, लेकिन मुझे निराश लौटना पड़ा. ये गीत फिल्म में नहीं है. लेकिन आखिर के क्रेडिट्स देखने लायक हैं.
  6. जिन्होंने १९६७ वाली डिज़्नी की जंगल बुक देखी है, उन्हें बलू और मोगली का गीत “बेयर नेसेसिटीज़” तो याद ही होगा. इस फिल्म में भी वही गीत है, पर चूंकि मैंने फिल्म हिन्दी में देखी, ये गाना भी हिन्दी में है, और मज़ेदार है. आखिर के क्रेडिट्स में किंग लूई वाला गाना दोहराया गया है, पर एनिमेशन बड़ा ही दिलचस्प है.