Friday, July 31, 2009

Love Aaj Kal

Hero and heroine meet, date, kiss, dance, sing, breakup, miss each other and get back together finally. Haven't we seen all of this together and in bits n pieces in a million hindi films. So what's new?




Aaj

Jai (Saif), an architect of sorts and Meera (Deepika Padukone),a fresco artist live in the United Kingdom. Jai meets Meera at a pub, asks her out and they click instantly. For two long years they stay as a couple. Its time for Meera to move to India to continue with her work and Jai has this vision of going to San fransisco to work on the Golden Gate project. They decide to breakup but continue to keep in touch with each other. They decide to move on with their lives with Meera developing a liking for her boss Vikram (Rahul Khanna). Saif starts dating a phirang who decides to travel to India on a holiday. Jai and Meera meet up, no sparks fly, no I-missed-you happens and they merrily go dancing around Delhi. Predictably, Meera feels that its time for both of them to move on genuinely and not keep in touch though Jai the casanova really doesn't care about these 'lauvvv' talks. After a year Jai flies down for Meera's wedding with Vikram and... - does Jai get married to Meera just when Vikram is about to do the saath pheras with her? NOOOOOOO

Kal

Veer paaji [Rishi Kapoor] runs a restaurant in London . He meets Jai at his restaurant soon after he breaks up with Meera and insists that he [Jai] go to the airport to see her off. When Jai wonders why he takes so much interest in poking his nose in others' [his and Meera's] lives, Rishi says that he(Saif) reminds him of his younger days - the dashing Panju dude Veer who was after Harleen the typical silent chamattu Punjabi kudi in his locality. He starts narrating his story from the time he followed Harleen wherever she went right from the lanes of Delhi to Kolkata and then back to Delhi... Rishi is more the Love Guru of sorts who 'enlightens' Saif on saccha pyaar.

Pyaar... Ishq... Mohabbat

This movie oozes romance - be it the ekdum fullon fun that Saif and Deepika have or the 1960 type - silent, no-talking pyaar of Saif and the girl who plays (Har)leen..
And thank you, Imtiaz Ali for not using terms like Saccha Pyaar , Mohabbat ka bulandi, Ishq ki darwaza, Dosti ki dulhan etc anywhere in the film.

Love hojaye!

What works for the film are the treatment, pace and the dialogues . Even before you realize, Saif and Deepika have met, kissed, partied and broken up. And broken up with a smile, for practical reasons. The dialogues are very today and lingo not over the top. No "mujhe maaf kardo Rahul..Saccha pyaar ki imtihan" kind of dialogues. The breakup scene is a delight to watch.... actually a lot of scenes are like the one where Saif and Deepika post their breakup talk, chat and SMS each other about what they didn't like in each other which they couldn't say when they were together. Even the 60s is very mellowed down except for the bit when Leen's family opposes the entire relationship - slightly filmy I thought.

Not once do you see Leen fluttering her eyelashes - a la 'Love birds' types or putting that bun kondai running around trees only to put an official stamp to the retro bit.

Love Bore-jaye!

Post Meera's wedding ,the pace slackens and how. For our junta who's used to hero coming to the wedding and getting married to the heroine in the last minute, this one, honestly is a downer. A huge dip from the jet speed of the film till then. The entire San fransisco bit gets maha boring with repetetive shots. Even a KK-Pritam song couldn't lift the pace and the spirit of the film.

Cast

Deepika Padukone is easily the best looking actress in Bollywood now. Thank God they didn't cast Kareena Kapoor for her role though Saif was the producer. Kareena would have butchered the role with her pout and that stupid grin of hers. Deepika is perfect as Meera and no Kareena-ing of Jab we met - I meant over acting.

The role donned by Saif is very Saif-ey - Casanova, care-a-damn about relationships, asattu dancing etc. But honestly he looks old. Time to wiggypedia dude! Would have preferred Ranbir. Ranbir would have been best as Jai and as Veer [Rishi's younger days].

Special mention to the girl who acted as Leen. Perfect looks, expressions. I mean, even a bit of an extra reaction would have killed the character. Even her dancing bit was very ordinary and not Farah Khan-ish.

Rahul Khanna joins the league of former boyfriend / to-be husband / morai payyan for which Abhishek Bachchan used to be the perfect choice in most Yashraj films. Kunal kapoor , you have stiff competition from Rahul Khanna for those 'guest' appearances.

Rishi paaji is okay and you see the ultra slim Neetu Kapoor also, in a scene.

Oye Pritam

KK and Pritam's magic that worked in all their earlier films doesn't, in Love Aaj kal. Their combination just goes past without a trace. Ofcourse the other songs - Twist and Chor bazaari are already chartbusters. But my favourite is the last song 'Aahun Aahun'. And this song reminds me this Vaadhyar's song . Pritam has taken a world tour from copying Azerbaijan, Turkey, Antarctica tunes,he's back to Kollywood. Just kidding - Its the raagam I guess!

Nutty , Editing and costumes

Nataraja Subramaniam's camera takes you on a joyride tour of London, San Fransisco, Delhi and old delhi. Delightful!

The film goes back and forth from '09 to the 60s time and again when both stories run parallely. Commendable job by the editor. But in bits and portions the to and fro is kinda painful.

Deepika's tight jeans churidar and Anarkali kurti is Linking road's next fresh maal, mark my words.

Finally..

You may see traces of Jaane Tu... in a few scenes and the story but Love Aaj Kal is refreshingly different. No Kal throwing on this one. Your weekend majaa guaranteed from director Imtiaz Ali!

Love Aaj Kalakkal - 4 out 5

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Film-making: The madness : LOCATION

LOCATION - A department very close to my heart 'coz that's where and how I started my career in films - hunting for the best suited locations the script demanded.

Slumdog millionaire, Satya, Maqbool, A Wednesday are few of the films shot extensively in Mumbai and around. It's a great thrill when you watch the film and identify the locations. Slumdog millionaire is one film I would have loved to be on location. The slums, the railway stations, Chawls, old bungalows ... would have been quite a challenge matching and getting permissions for locations as per the script.

In films, once the script is ready, the location manager is the first guy to be summoned to identify, shoot pictures of the locations in the script. The location manager does an exhaustive search, uses his/her contacts to get all the locales that match the director's vision and comes back to the director with his pictures. The director does his shortlist, joins the location manager along with his team and cinematographer for a reccee` and post his approval necessary permissions and payments are done.

Ad films are equally challenging. My friend and I once went hunting for a lonely tree all the way till Karjat for an adfilm. A hunt for a housing society with lots of space and narrow roads landed me at Dahisar's Dahiwali society. Where will you find a sea-facing apartment with lots of artefacts? Ask me. But you will get an eccentric Parsi couple free, along with the location. Theek hai? Want a sea facing terrace? Gujju family + loads of veggie thaali food free!

It is indeed a tough job to get the location the director has in mind. The director would want an old bhoot bungalow bang in the middle of the main road with a side lane next to the bungalow... with one tea shop on the lane, a small room outside the bungalow and so on. And the location guy's job doesn't stop with taking permissions and making payments. Arrangements for parking generator vehicles, makeup vans and cars and permissions to park them if they need parked in the middle of the road need to be taken. Then comes permissions from neighbours and their dogs. The cinematographer, right in the middle of his shot may want the light at a distance of 1 km in someone's house to be switched off. The location manager has to RUN ,convince, beg and plead with the neighbours to switch off the light.

Oh yes, how can I forget location owners' eccentricities? If you are shooting at a particular location for the first time, you are bound to face a whole lot of problems. The owners don't understand, don't know anything about film shoots. Can’t blame them really 'coz no one tells them that a shoot involves a bare minimum of 50 people at any point at the location, paan chewing-spitting production guys, caterers who lack the basic civic sense using your place like a dump yard for their paper cups and Bisleri bottles and annoying location managers who apologize to you time and again for the mess.

But ofcourse there are regular bungalows and shooting locales that you will find in every other film. S S Vasan [Gemini] house in Mylapore was a regular shooting place till it was replaced by this building, a few years ago.

There was an article in the Mid day on Sunday [Jul 26 '09- can't find link] about Mumbai locations in films. It recalled all major scenes shot in the Mumbai background of CST, Bandstand and the famous Marine Drive.

Want to rewind and go back and see how Madras looked? Watch this clip. I am sure the location manager didn't shell out a penny to shoot at any of these locales. These days, the under-the-table monies to the Police guys, Corporation officials is more than the cost of hiring the location.

Express estate and Binny mills are the most sought after locations in Madras for songs and fights. Athiradee from Sivaji was shot in Binny mills. Alaipayuthey, Bombay were shot in Express estates. Besant Nagar beach was an eternal 'lauvv point' or 'chase-fight location' in films from the 90s. Maniratnam loves Chalakkudi falls. Check out the collage from his songs that were shot in Chalakkudi falls in Kerala.



And guess who or which film made this location famous before it started becoming a Maniratnam regular? 1....2.....3... juuuummmmppppp!


A few films shot at Hampi - Guru, Padaiyappa and Iruvar



Tirumalai nayakkar mahal, Madurai - In Bombay, Guru and Iruvar



Like I said earlier, its a major thrill for me to spot locations from different films and say "Isn't it this familiar?" or "Weren't these two films shot at the same locations?" like this one....The picture on top is from a film released in 1980 and the one at the bottom is from a '97 film.


Meendum kokila and Iruvar [2:17 onwards] were shot at the same location. Does anyone know where this bungalow is?


The next time you watch a tamizh film, look closer. It just might have been shot in your neighbourhood.

Other film-making links from the blog - Click here and here

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

விளம்பர விளையாட்டு 31

Identify the eight advertisements in the picture grid.


Email your answers to blogeswari {AT } gmail {DOT} com

  • Eight points to be won - One point per correct answer
  • One attempt per person - One guess per advertisement, please.
  • Email your answers to blogeswari {AT} gmail {DOT} com before Monday 3rd August.
The answers for விளம்பர விளையாட்டு 30 are

1. Livon

2. TVS Scooty

3. Reliance mobile

4. Limca

5. Colgate max fresh

6. Honda jazz

7. Bournvita ++

8. Sunfeast marie light

9. Bajaj alliance

10. Minute maid Pulpy orange

Results:

Lavs gets a perfect 10. Congratulations !
Priya - 7/10 ; Swap - 5/10; Kritika - 5/10
Good luck for விளம்பர விளையாட்டு 31! Please do not post the answers in the comments section.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

I love New

Sony's Jhalak Dikhlaja season 3 started it. "Aaj kya new kiya?" they asked. Do something new... Do something different from the routine... take a different route etc etc.

Tata Docomo that launched in South recently has a tagline - 'Do the new' . K S Chakravarthy, National creative director , Draft FCB Ulka says, “‘Do the New’ is all about inviting people to be adventurous, be fresh in their thinking and asking people not to follow the beaten track” - Whatever!

Unilever's Dove shampoo's new campaign asks "What have you done new today?" or something similar to that.

I worked on all three briefs (No, I don't work for an advertising agency... these guys happen to be our clients) and ended up reading the same 'inviting-people-to-try-something-new'... 'fresh thinking' kinda nonsense in all the three.

And all these 'NEW' campaigns were launched between Jan and June this year. I just have one thing to say to these lovely, creative duds - "Please think of something new"

Inspired by all the newness around. Here's my NEW blog. It is open only for few friends and tweeple who I haven't met. If you want access you've gotta be either of the two.

When you don't know how to end a post, the best thing to do is to go the advertising way. Ask the question of the season - "So, what have you done new today?"

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Peep Peep

Stores like Fab India, Anokhi, Cottons have a lot in common apart from the kind of clothes they sell. It is their I-am-doing-you-a-favour-by-selling-you-my-stuff attitude. In short, a very Dilli attitude.

I end up visiting these shops 'coz they are the only ones who seem to be stocking kurtas / kurtis which fit me. It has been years since I shopped at Fab India - read link.

I visited Cottons in N-Block, GK I in New Delhi last week. These guys seem to think that every customer is a shoplifter. Unless you are dressed in silk kurtas-salwar, putting one kilo lipstick and makeup and talk "dahlling" like a South Delhi-ite or "hainjeeee" like a Punju maami, you definitely come under the shop lifter category for Cottons. From the looks they give you, it is very obvious that they will assign one ollipicchan girl who will follow you like a Vodafone puppy wherever you go.

I have one more important reason to say this. How else would you explain a changing room that looks like this?

That pic was clicked from the inside of the changing room. Inside... where you could see everything on the outside AND VICE VERSA. So a passerby can actually peep into your changing room as you are trying to fit yourself into yet another 'L' kurta. That was the first time I saw a changing room with a mirror outside the room. You will actually need to get out of the pigeon hole also called as changing room to look at your wonderful self in the 'L' kurta. Its not just you, even the employees can see you with the HALF DOOR that opens into the changing room.


The store room [locked in the pic] is located right next to the changing room. Obviously the employees - particularly men who walk into the store room get their daily, hourly, minute by minute dose of 'deiva darisanam' as people try fitting into the clothes.


As I could see, these people at Cottons do have their stringent measures like giving a coupon marked with the number of clothes you take inside the pigeon hole, to curb shop lifters.

I am still trying to figure out what prompted the owners to have a changing room like this which provides a free view for all. There was not one, but two pigeon holes. The other room faced the entrance directly.

So here goes another shop out of my list. If anyone from Cottons is reading this - Aunty-jies, not everyone who visits your shop is a shop lifter. Grow up people!

Thursday, July 02, 2009

The Bandra-Worli sealink

The Bandra Worli sealink [okay okay Rajiv Gandhi bridge or whatever it is called ] is a complete engineering marvel. Its an amazing experience to drive on the seabridge that connects Bandra and Worli. There I was yesterday with seven of my colleagues driving towards Bandra in the evening in the office vandi. And everybody who drove past us, drove with us had this victorious "Isn't-this-wonderful?" look on their faces.

If I were to put it in Tamizh, Mei silirthupochu during the drive.


On the eve of the inauguration of the bridge there was an ok-ok laser show and fireworks which I managed to shoot from my balcony.

A lot of my colleagues took the bridge in the morning after the inauguration came back annoyed with the traffic jam. There are no toll taxes for five days and its free for all till then. Obviously everyone who wanted to experience it on the very first day was there.

Later last evening, my best half and I took off on this drive at half past eleven and we thought it'd be fairly empty. We were so.. so wrong. It was bumper to bumper on the Worli sea face heading towards the sealink.


We were stuck on Worli seaface for almost 45 minutes and as we got on to the sealink, the jam wasn't all that bad. We realised that the jam before getting on the bridge was not because of the number of vehicles heading towards the sealink but because of the people who were stopping ON THE BRIDGE to click pictures with their mamma, pappa, doggie, neighbour, cat, friend, girl friend etc.

And there were smart a#$%^ who took a u-turn midway causing further jams.. all this at midnight.

I was/ am annoyed. Why the blame the Governmet, cops, Sonia gandhi , Rajiv Gandhi, CM (whatever his name is) for the 'BAD TRAFFIC' management when its junta like us - the pappus, nileshes, iyers, mehtas, parulekars and sharmas who have caused / causing this mess?

I wont be surprised if you see redddddd paan stains on both sides of the sealink after a couple of days [and the arabian sea turning RED in a couple of days]

People have no civic sense, driving sense.. No sense absolutely!

Here's a collage of the pictures i took last night of all the pappus whose facebook / orkut messages today will read "I stpd n sealnk n clckd pic...ma pic hre ..lv, pappu"

[All the cars on the left extreme left belong to the pappus]


If you find such a message on any of the social networking groups, make sure you slap that person NOW!