Thursday, 14 January 2016

Amar Akbar Anthony (1977)

Chauffeur-taking-the-blame father.Tuberculosis-ridden suicidal mother. Their three separated kids. Years later, three brothers, each adopted by Hindu, Muslim and Christian families respectively, donate blood that converges into a single bottle (medical atrocity!). Unknown to them, the blood recipient is their ex-ill, ex-suicidal mother, now blind. Meanwhile, ex-chauffeur father is a mob boss raising his ex-boss's daughter (who he had kidnapped) as his niece. Father thinks his wife is dead and children, lost. Blind mother sells flowers. Sons are a policeman, a singer and a good hearted small-time thug.

This is just a glimpse of the anything-goes set up for Manmohan Desai's weirdly entertaining Amar Akbar Anthony. Pitched as a comedy/drama, full of strange situations, formulaic and catchy Laxmikant-Pyarelal /Anand Bakshi songs and great acting by the lead cast, especially Amitabh Bachchan, Rishi Kapoor and Vinod Khanna (in that order). 

Meanwhile, blind mother regains her sight, thanks to a god-intervened miracle. In the film's climax, three brothers roam about in disguises that the whole audience can see through, except for the dim-witted villains.Yet you have to admit, that there never is a dull moment in the 3 hour, 5 minute running time. 

Stereotypes, slick dialogue-making and maudlin emotions found screen space with this film, in many ways creating the degenerative Hindi potboiler genre. Something changed in Hindi films for the worse, starting with Amar Akbar Anthony. Yet this is the redundant genre's pinnacle film, still worth watching.

Monday, 11 January 2016

Premam (2015)

Much like Kerala, its unchanging culture and quiet, comfortable stillness, a timeless wrap surround Premam

Once upon a time in a sleepy Kerala village, a 16-year-old boy falls for the school beauty. Only, almost every other teenage boy in the vicinity is crazy for the same girl. Love letters, songs, bright-shirted, sun-glassed flirtations, thrashings follow. 

Five years later, the now angry, rebellious, black shirt, the lungi-clad bearded student goes soft on his alluring pimple-ridden college teacher.Cut to nine years later, a subdued, rough high-end bakery owner is whisked away by love again.  

How is it?  
Love stories with a comic touch have rained down incessantly in the film world, yet writer/director/editor Alphonse Putharen's second film Premam stands out for a fresh approach, endearing life-imitating characters, and assured storytelling. 

Deft camerawork, great performances, dialogues, clever editing...Premam is a rare case of several aspects coming together to make memorable cinema. 

Popular Malayalm film culture, Tamil hero-mould touches, innocent flirtations, all converge to form something achingly real and evocative. You don't have to be a Malayalam film regular to enjoy Premam. But if you are, you will connect more.   

Cast and crew
The cast needs special mention, even those with one-line roles lend authenticity to their parts. Kudos to the lead players, Nivin Pauly and the three female leads, Anupama Parameswaran, Sai Pallavi and Madonna Sebastian. 

Also to be lauded, Anand C. Chandran's cinematography, Rajesh Murugesan's brilliant celebratory soundtrack to wacky Shabareesh Varma (also supporting cast) lyrics. As one of the film's songs go in translation - when we look back someday at the life lived, there should be something to laugh at.      

Of wasted, love-slippery youth, yet life-affirming, joyous and breezy, it will be hard to equal a romantic comedy like Premam for a long time. 

Sunday, 10 January 2016

Wazir (2016)

Wazir is a quality thriller that works on the force of its tight performances (Amitabh Bachchan-Farhan Akhtar chemistry, primarily), well-written script & editing (Vidhu Vinod Chopra & Abhijat Joshi), steady direction (Bejoy Nambiar) and wisely clipped running time (102 min).

Daanish (Farhan Akhtar, thick moustache, a first) is a dedicated officer of the anti-terrorist squad. He also adores his beautiful Kathak dancing wife Ruhana (Aditi Rao Hydari) and little daughter. But an offhand terrorist operation soon rips their life apart.Post a cathartic revenge, Daanish is sent on leave, when he ends up meeting the wheelchair-bound chess teacher, Pandit Omkar Nath Dhar (Amitabh Bachchan, apt casting).The two become close friends, even as the chess teacher views his daughter's seemingly accidental death as murder.

Post a taut first half, the pace slackens a little in the second, the twist-in-the-tail climax saves it. You may well see the ending, if not for an explosion that acts as a good diversion, to an extent. Certainly a satisfying, convincing thriller, if not great.

High/Giveaway Point
A touch of poetry in Neil Nitin Mukesh's bit part, though for an attentive viewer, it acts as the film's giveaway point.