Daayen Ya Baayen Movie Review: Hills and Wheels Thursday, 28 October, 2010Posted by ~uh~™ in Bollywood.
Tags: Bela Negi, car, comedy, Daayen Ya Baayen, Daayen Ya Baayen movie review, Debut Director, debut film, deepak dobriyal, Manav Kaul, Movie Review, Review, satire, Uttarakhand
This was the first review of this movie to be published on PFC [link], being cross posted here.
Written, edited and directed by: Bela Negi
Release date: 29 Oct 2010
I saw this movie during a private screening organized by the director, thanks to Kamal Swaroop. I had only read her interview [link] and did not have any clue about the story. All I knew was-
1. This movie is on and about Uttarakhand (temporarily named as Uttaranchal).
2. Bela Negi hails from Uttarakhand, is an FTII pass out and have worked with the legendary Renu Saluja.
3. This is the first movie where Deepak Dobriyal plays a lead role.
Before watching, I was intrigued by the title of the movie. The first thought that came to my mind that it must be a pahadi movie with a political subtext. But it wasn’t. The movie turned out to be much broader than that.
Plot Synopsys [Spoilers protected]
Daayen Ya Bayeen is a minimalistic contemporary tale of the people of Uttarakhand. The protagonist of our film, Ramesh Malija (Deepak Dabriyal) returns from a big city to his native village, Kanda, somewhere in Kumaon, for good. He is a day-dreamer, poet, visionary, husband, father and above all a messy loser. He returns to his roots, takes up a job as an English teacher in the local school and dreams of building a ‘Kalakendra’ right in the village, to nurture the indigenous talents. He is a ‘cool’ fashion conscious dude with his corduroy jacket, jeans, shades, cap et al, educated enough to carry books written in ‘simple English’ by Russian writers. He is welcomed quickly and ritualistically by the loving people- the motley bunch of villagers and his family. However, within no time he degenerates into a subject of ridicule, for his impractical ambition, poetic thoughts and radical ways of teaching his students. His wife has her own share of dissatisfaction on their general state of being, especially in light of her superlative brother’s urban success story. Things suddenly change when Ramesh’s entry in a jingle contest on TV, wins a brand new luxury car! Overnight, Ramesh becomes the village hero, the icon of triumph and epitome of bravura. Ramesh too flaunts his possession. But with the newfound luxury life becomes complicated for him. He quickly makes enough enemies to disrupt his otherwise mundane unexciting life and his dream of Kalakendra. Like the car, his life also rolls down in a bumpy road of twists and turns. He gets involved into a platter of problems involving a local political stalwart, his sister-in-law, huge financial loan burden and not the least, an absconding calf. The car, as a metaphor of life takes him to a juncture where he must take a turn towards the right direction, to salvage his dream and his identity.
Direction, Characters, Cast, Cinematography
It’s difficult to talk about this movie without revealing the plot spoilers, and there are plenty of elements to talk about. The prime subject remains as the people of Uttarakhand, their identity, aspirations and ambitions with the obvious backdrop being the picturesque Kumaon Himalayas. A simple tale involving an object of desire, a luxury sedan in this case, is then interwoven with earthy characters sprinkled with abundant ‘pahadi humour’ (if I can take liberty to use such term), a rocky version of dry humor tending towards malice. Some contemporary topics are part of this tale; education, television soaps and most importantly- identity of the people and their direction in life. The movie delves into few fundamental questions. What is achieved by creating a new state? Is such transformation, where girls aspire to be named as the much married bitchy TV serial women, kids walk and talk in English without knowing what they are learning, justified ? Where migrating to a big city is still the biggest aspiration ? Men gamble with cards and get drunk by sundown. How does this new state affect the people and boost their confidence ?
Bela, hailing from Uttarakhand, knows her roots, feels the dilemma and expresses it in cinematic medium. I have observed, when a writer directs a movie, there’s always a lot of attention to detail. Daayen Ya Baayen would be a treat to the observant audience, to gather the subtle nuances of the characters, the slick coordination of certain sound and visuals to create a humorous note, the framing, dialogues and at times, silent expressions. Quite laudable debut.
There are quite a handful of characters, each with their own idiosyncrasies and colourful traits. There’s a character called ‘Haruldi’. She is an octogenarian lady in sneakers who’s wealthy enough to disburse loan in thousands. There’s the bidi smoking mother of Ramesh. Then there are village bumpkins and yokels played by Manav Kaul (1971, Jajantaram, Mamantaram), Badrul Islam, local political stalwart Jwar Singh (Jeetendra Bisth) and his sidekicks. A veteran ‘Frosted’ school principal (Girish Tiwari) who invariably ends his speech with “miles to go before I sleep”. One of the most important aspects on this film is that it is also made with the local people. Other than three major roles (Deepak Dobriyal, Manav Kaul and Badrul Islam), all other characters are played by local actors and artistes. Reportedly, some of them have faced a camera for the first time. Large number of school students are featured in certain scenes and as I understand, shooting were conducted without any workshop or training. Ramesh’s family members, especially his little kid (Pratyush Sharma) and his wife (Aditi Beri) sourced from the region seamlessly merges with the household and domestic brouhaha. The wife, particularly in the scenes of her ‘outrageous housekeeping’ antics is hilariously natural.
Deepak Dobriyal is simply brilliant as the protagonist. His acting prowess probably comes from his theatrical background. I have always admired his work, irrespective of the character he plays. One of his best performances probably was in Gulaal, which was shot much before he was noticed on Omkara. Deepak is a powerful actor. For the attentive audience, he is a treat to watch on screen. Remember the paan shop scene of Gulaal ? Or the bridge scene in Omkara ? He has handled difficult roles with panache in films like 13 B, Delhi 6 and Shaurya. In this film, his character is a sublime combination of a poetic dreamer and an ambitious visionary, but unintentionally ending up being a loser or playing the jester. He teaches his son to hand stand, as that will facilitate blood flow to the brain. He makes poetry. He learns driving. He drinks country liquor. Still, he tries to impart basic values to his students and his son. He does it with intensity. This is undoubtedly, his one of the meatiest and finest performance on screen. His character is beautifully supported by Badrul Islam, a fanboy hopelessly sweet in his own way. Pratyush as Ramesh’s son radiates lot of potential who reminds of the kids in Majid Majidi’s films.
Like recent Udaan and Do Dooni Char, this film too makes way for filmmakers who, while trying to entertain, are also willing to create meaningful content on realistic themes. While the movie is predominantly based on the people and societal culture of Uttarakhand, it talks about certain values, identities and aspirations which is identifiable beyond geographical boundaries. However, one must not expect a somber Blue Umbrella here. Apart from some obvious similarities (people, mountain), DyB deals with is much down to earth issues and materialistic aspirations, but with lighter mood. The tone of the film is bright and upbeat, and it never loses its humour even at its darkest point.
Though DyB is a low budget film, the production value is high. The cinematography( Dop Amlan Datta), costumes (by Nikunj Vyas), music are elaborate, well detailed and very entertaining. The magnificent locales, panoramic views, bright sunny days, winding hilly roads, vivid hues are all part of the captivating storyline, all captured candid which prevents it to become a documentary. There’s a scene where, Ramesh with his son walks along the narrow stone steps and a rainbow shimmers on the horizon- absolutely stunning! The film is full of many such colourful occasions of happiness, sorrow and surprises. Arguably, films shot on picturesque mountainous locations are somewhat vulnerable to the landscape overpowering the characters. But it’s the good director’s panache to make them blend with the terrain, but to retain their own importance in the plot. Fine examples are Eric Vali’s Himalaya (aka Caravan), Ray’s Kunchenjungha and Shohei Imamura’s Ballad of Narayama. Bela, is quite successful in achieving a fine balance between the characters and the backdrop, interdependent but collectively complete. The BGM by Vivek Philip (Sorry Bhai, My Brother…Nikhil) is upbeat and pertinent with the visual setting. There’s only one song, a spontaneous upbeat one, sung by Zubin Garg on which the entire village makes merry !
The narrative is simple, believable, straightforward and chronological. Though in the otherwise logical narrative, absence of mobile phones or a gas filling station does feel a bit conspicuous. Remember, the car plays the pivotal role (also to some extent literally, by the end of the film). While almost all aspects of the car and driving was captured in detail and expressed with much humour, one or two instances of gas filling could have been added, keeping practicality in mind. In another scene against sunset where Deepak leans against his sedan, quite looks like an advertisement, probably of a car. Otherwise the screenplay is taut and at places emotionally involving. The films takes it own time to develop the plot, which some may term as a slow start, but once Deepak takes the steering, there’s no brake.
Overall, a high quality satire intelligently packaged within an entertaining cinema. Watch it, you may feel right after you’ve left the theater.
A Twist in the Tale of 2 Cities: 99 Movie Review Thursday, 21 May, 2009Posted by ~uh~™ in Bollywood.
Tags: 99, Anupam Mittal, Boman Irani, comedy, Crime, Cyrus Broacha, Dimple, Guy Ritchie, Humour, Indie movies, Krishna DK, Kuber, Kunal Khemu, Mahesh Manjrekar, Mobile, movie, Mumbai, New Delhi, Period Film, Raj Nidimoru, Review, Soha Ali Khan, Vinod Khanna
I have studied, worked and lived in Delhi from 1996 to 2007. I was actually present there in Delhi through 99 and Y2k, when those thick pencil box shaped Siemens and Motorola handsets were launched with incoming call Rs 16 and outgoing Rs 32/ minute. We had to pull out the antenna and walk to a ‘better signal area’ for getting better call clarity. I have also met many Pujas and Nehas in Delhi, I have also been cheated at many occasions; starting with the auto rickshaw-wala to the landlord to the boss. Though Delhi sucks, it has its own charm radically different from other metros.
Now, after 5 years of staying in Mumbai I have realized the basic differences between the two cities.
In Mumbai: Time is calculated in Rupees. Distances are calculated in hrs. Everything else is theory.
In Delhi: Show off even if you need to beg, borrow or steal to do that. Trust is a myth.
That’s why I liked 99, for capturing the essence of these two cities without losing the humour or focus, while telling the story.
99 is an indie film written and directed by Krishna DK and Raj Nidimoru ( Software Engineers turned filmmakers) and produced by People Pictures (Anupam Mittal and Aditya Shastri ). Krishna DK made ripples in US with his first indie venture Flavours (a film on Indian techies working on US, genre – comedy) which is not released in India yet. Read what Krishna DK has to say about his journey from Flavours to 99.
In short, the story is about money, gambling, goons, small time crooks, Dons, Bhais, petty thiefs, Cricket, Delhi, Mumbai, cell phones and mobile technology all interwoven accidentally into the lives of Sachin (Khemu) and Zaramud (Cyrus). Those who have seen Guy Ritchie crime comedy capers like Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch, they will get the drift. Sachin & Zaramud (yes that was a name) are on the run since their small business of ‘sim card duplication’ is busted by the cops. They steal the Merc of AGM (Mahesh Manjrekar), a local ganglord, and bang it to a lamppost and a truck in succession, in the effort of fleeing with élan. AGM force bonds the duo as his accomplice till compensation is recovered towards the damaged Merc. On a parallel story Rahul (Boman Irani), a Delhi based compulsive gambler is desperate to win from a cricket betting to make it big and to settle his existing debts to Kuber (Amit Mistry)- a Delhi crook. After few failed betting attempts Rahul lands up owing big booty to almost everyone. The storytelling smoothly shifts from Mumbai to Delhi. Sachin, Zaramud and Rahul all are in the need of money to save their ass from AGM, teams up making a plan to exploit clout of JC, a big time Cricket match fixer. What happens at the end should be best to watch out at the theatres.
Ninety Nine part Inspiration
The best part of the movie would have to be a combination of cast and the intrinsic humour embedded into the characters. Most notable idiosyncratic performances are delivered brilliantly by Boman Irani, Mahesh Manjrekar and Amit Mistry. I wasn’t very impressed with the lead duo. Kunal lacked the ‘thing’ to fit into the shoes of Sachin, he dangled somewhere in between a tough tapori and sophisticated conman. Ritesh Deshmukh or Arshad Warsi probably comes into my mind who sets a benchmark for such roles. I think, Khemu is yet to recover from Silsila mode (Traffic Signal). I have not seen Zakhm, but the less we talk about him in Dhol & Superstar, is better.
Cyrus Broacha has successfully made a potato-sack out of him and he seems to be encashing on it. He is so hungry in the film, that he swallowed most of his dialogues, even before they are delivered completely. Also a discounted fee (cost reduction) might be the reason for him spending most of the screen time inside the loo. His running and hitting a lamppost scene (shown on the promos) was perfect, though. Overall, a great potential partially wasted.
Boman, as a sucked-up-in-debt Rahul portrays his never-say-lose attitude, throughout the performances. His mobile phone conversations with Kuber, waiting outside in-laws apartment door and persuading his wife, the discussion on the pretext of gifting a mobile phone is a treat to watch.
Kuber with his sidekick Dimple, a gentle giant probably takes the cake of characterization. Whenever they were present on screen, it was a hilarious affair. Those with Delhi experience will vouch that Amit Mistry represented a typical Delhi thug, innocent in looks, comical in action but as dangerous as it gets. The artist who played the Bhojpuri hero ( I remember to see him in some adverts) is also subtle but hilarious is their character portrayal.
Mahesh Manjrekar rocks with his Maratha beard and tapori lingo. The delicate moments of laughter is created as he outperformed his role as AGM.
When I saw Vinod Khanna first on the promos, I was pleasantly surprised and in the movie he was a treat to watch. His encounters with Boman are subtle yet powerful.
Puja (Soha Ali) was a tad disappointment as Sachin’s love interest, am not sure whether to blame the script or the editing, it felt as if she was doing favour to the role. As a support role as Rahul’s estranged wife Simone Singh was sweet.
Dialogues are quick witted and the humour is sharp, tounge-in-cheek. The Director Krishna DK surely had his details in place and it shows. The mobile phone models, the meter-less Ambassador taxis, Snake game ver1 and 2, Y2K conference, the reference to Matrix, Palika Bazaar, the petty crimes, the signal problem of mobile (incidentally in Monsoon Wedding also this signal problem was captured humorously), the comforter hanging over Dimple’s safari suit- small meaningful brushstrokes of Delhi life were painted on the plot canvas to make the picture look complete. The background score is upbeat and well synched with the pace of the movie.
Another exceptionally good treatment to mention are the title credits. They are shown in a very interesting way & you will miss it, if you reach late to the theater. The names of the cast appear on the parapets of landmark buildings of Mumbai. The best was when a name appeared on the level crossing with people crossing over it. Cool graphics.
Any Idea which Hotel was it? Looked like Le Meridian to me.
One part perspiration
It was not shown, how Sachin and Zaramud were dressing up in fancy clothes even after losing all their belongings. That was a little unexplained loose end in the otherwise taut script.
Cyrus was under-utilized and did not match my expectations. I have seen him compeering shows and he is extremely free and spontaneous in real life and doesn’t mumble.
Soha was stiff and they did not look like a pair at any stage. Even if there was any Chemistry between Khemu & Soha, it was purely inorganic. Their intimacy seemed to have progressed geometrically, without any convincing reason (like money, sex or flashy cars, the works basically). Platonic love in Delhi? You must be kidding.
What the hell was the bong guy impractically named ‘Jonmodin’ (Birthday)? Bengalis have funnier names like Horipodo or Khogen or from the famous proverb Gouri Sen ( lage taka debe Gouri Sen- When you need money Gouri Sen would shell out).
Sudesh Beri-The forgotten stud appears as a police inspector, with a facial expression of constipation combined with prolonged heavy protein diet.
The 140 minutes seemed a bit stretched, ideally 110-120 mins would have been a more power packed ride. Few of the Boman-Simone, Kunal- Soha conversations and some other slow scenes could have been edited.
Overall, an excellent Sunday entertainment for crime comedy lovers and a welcome break from bland love stories and slapstick comedy (of errors) of Hindi Cinema. Take your friends, family and kids bindaas, for a laugh ride.
Bhagam Bhag: Running into Engulfing Nothingness Wednesday, 15 April, 2009Posted by ~uh~™ in Bollywood.
Tags: Bhagam Bhag, comedy, mystery, Priyadarshan, Pyar ka Signaaal, Rajpal Yadav, Tanushree Dutta
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This is one my old reviews posted elsewhere.
Background & Expectation
Malamaal Weekly, Garam Masala , Hulchul, Hungama, Yeh Tera Ghar Yeh Mera Ghar, Hera Pheri. What’s common? Priyadarshan is the Director. My favourite Director.
Hera Pheri, Hungama and Malamaal weekly, redefined comedy is semi-urban context! Humour expected in Priydarshan and Neeraj Vora combo is a balanced blend of slapstick sequences and intelligence in dialogues, with exceptional performances by actors like Paresh Rawal, Rajpal Yadav.
Bhagam Bhag was supposed to be a comeback for Govinda. Govinda, my favourite again. The master of no brainer comedy flicks. I believe, he somewhat started the laugh riot under the able guidance of David Dhawan. Hadh Kar di Apne, Dulhe Raja, the No 1 series are all my favourite time-pass movies.
So, for all the reason stated above my expectation from Bhagam Bhag was high, high above. Especially, when it was expected to be a comic mystery!
Watching Bhagam Bhag was a letdown of the year. The movie ended up as a 3-hour torture for me. I had similar experience watching Sajan Chale Sasural (I ran out of the hall halfway).
The Cast & Story
I will try to be as detailed as possible. It will not really matter if you don’t understand the story. The Director himself had let the story go on its own.
Govinda & Akshay Kumar are the key members of a drama group owned by Paresh Rawal (Champak Chaturvedi). Akshay is “Bunty” and Govinda is “Babla” ( B&B). Notice the sheer intelligence in the character naming! Both these characters are rationally attracted towards the female flesh, because of which none of the lead actresses are able to stay in the group. The movie starts with an item number (?) featuring Bong bomb Tanushree Dutta, gyrating her flabby torso along the weird tune of ” Signaaal, pyar ka signaaal”. Other than showing her cleavage & bum from different angles and other interesting parts of her body during the song/ dance she slaps Govinda before vanishing out from the movie.
Asrani, who is a NRI promoter, likes Ms Dutta and invites the entire group to put up a show in London ( why the hell was London chosen?). Tanushree is enticed by B&B (separately, of course) and she leaves the group. The suckers then fly down to London w/o her, after the group decided to find a suitable desi replacement in London. Champak declared he, who brings the girl will get to be the hero.
Tempted by the offer, Babla befriends the Taxi driver Gullu ( Rajpal Yadav). Bunty follows Babla. They find Lara Dutta ( Minni), a dumb made-up lady suffering from suicidal tendency. She agrees to play the heroine (why, not explained in the movie). Then comes the never-ending army of characters, you name the chump and he is there -
CP Mehra- Jackie Shroff (the commissioner , actually looks like a old unpaid watchman)
Guru- Shakti Kapoor (the musician turned drunkard, breaks all his 4 limbs at the end)
Haka- the bald old & swaying tapori, who always get beaten in all the movies (what’s this suckers name?)
Vikram Chauhan- Arbaaz Khan. He has nothing to do, except to get killed by a single bullet. That’s what I called efficiency.
Manoj Joshi- As a drug baron, he is as noisy and as clumsy he can be, and arguably one of the good performers.
Sharat Saxena- the Ghulam villain, now demoted to sidekick of drug baron. Poor chap- he runs the maximum in the movie and jumps in the pool from upper floor.
Tanushree Dutta- Already stated
Lara Dutta- Mostly in evening gown but he should have cured her prickly heats on her back. She imagines, the blue flame of gas stove can engulf her to enchanting nothingness. Sucks all the way.
Accidentally B&B gets into a drug deal and exchanges his suitcase full of underwear against a briefcase full of “puria”. They thought In London Puria means heroine! Intelligence everywhere! They try to surrender hoping for a reward, the cops does’nt believe their story. The drug barons gathers that they are “khufia police” and starts bumping over them accidentally & repeatedly & consistently. Finally they decide to kill B & B. While tracing the background and history of Minni, B&B discovers greater details of the plot & females & names like Aditi, Nisha etc. Guru breaks his leg due to negligence of B&B, so the desi goons led by Guru & Haka chases B & B & Gullu till the end of the movie.
All these characters are linked to the drug dealing and a criminal conspiracy against the wife of Arbaaz, who is also the sister of Jackie Shroff. Lara Dutta is forced to play the wife of Arbaaz ( but actually she is a desi babe from India, you see) and also take part in the drug business. Jackie shroff finally kills Arbaaz, as his sister was burnt alive after being drugged by Arbaaz, whom B & B thought as Minni. Because Minni was in love with Bunty and wanted to kill herself, as she was suicidal. Confused already? I have not even gone into the greater details. Okay, I will spare you people. Finally, the movie ends after a pandemonium and everyone flies in the air before falling from a fire tender turntable ladder.
Genre- Comedy Mystery
That’s what I understood. Yes it is. The mystery is to discover the comedy in the movie. It’s a movie where comedy & torture tend to converge & be synonymous. The movie drags on & on & on, characters keep coming in for the heck of it, they don’t get linked to each other, they just bumps among themselves, literally. The movie neither belongs to nonsense nor comedy, but unqualified noise to your eardrum.
The worst is by the Producer ( Sunil Shetty- popcorn entertainment) & Director. Paresh Rawal, Akshay Kumar, Govinda, Rajpal, Manoj Joshi are consistent in their individual domain. Had it been a “Nautanki”, full marks to them. Lara Dutta- pathetically dull, woody and expressionless. I, myself was feeling suicidal seeing her. Jackie Shroff should retire now, so should Arbaaz. Sunil Shetty & Sanjay Dutt had reportedly made guest appearances. Please let men know where they were. Other characters are scattered all around the movie, and tortured to make us laugh.
Two major actors Govinda & Akshay did a film together or the first time. Unfortunately, this film was a waste of their talent. Sunil Shetty can probably earn more by selling popcorn, than this movie.
The Music is unbearable. The songs are horrifying. In Signaaal number obese Govinda literally flies here & there. I always believed “flyingelephant” exists.
Bottom line- I did my biggest mistake watching this movie. If you don’t get a headache out of it, you are lucky. Worse, you can get suicidal tendency embedded on your psyche. So don’t watch it, unless you want to rediscover London.