Archive for August, 2009

27
Aug
09

Movie Review: Yeh Mera India (2009)

 

N. Chandra's Yeh Mera India (2009)

 

There are films like Black Friday which tell a story the way it is, pass no judgement whatsoever, and whisper ‘go figure!’ to the audience. It’s an effective way of saying, to quote W. Axl Rose, ‘you can look but you don’t see’. But that’s where the effect stops, and prejudices centuries old will take more than minor side-effects to erase themselves. That’s where Yeh Mera India comes in.

Armed with over a dozen actors who establish themselves without any difficulty, N. Chandra takes several potshots at Mumbai, and Indians, in general. But it’s mainly the city that gets the major chunk of the grief. And N. Chandra is taking on everything here…rich vs. poor, Hindu vs. Muslim, ghaa…Maharashtrian vs. North Indian, high caste, low caste, everything but animal rights and gay rights. Enough social causes, yeah? No Celina Jaitley and no songs, rejoice.

So, N. Chandra takes on a city at the peak of its frustration and taunts and prods it for a good two hours. Enough to drive the point home, I say, and happy endings for everyone to drive the audience home feeling content.

The dialogue is stimulating, even crackling at times, especially when Sayaji Shinde deals with North Indians, and when he meets his old friend Atul Kulkarni. ‘Be cautious while working with an educated, unemployed man’, gangleader Milind Gunaji tells Vijay Raaz, referring to Kulkarni. And Rajpal Yadav and the cell phone! There’s a whole bunch of talented actors who’ve got roles to sink their teeth into, and they get ample time onscreen. Enough footage for everyone, and they all do justice to the story.

There are some kickass scenes – a guy who has his car stolen twice looks jubilant after letting his frustration out, the hardcore Marathi cop slapping the crap out of a paanwallah bhaiya, Sayaji Shinde and Atul Kulkarni drinking chai opposite a mosque, the dialogue exchange between two Muslims outside the mosque, and the conversation between a Hindu gangster and a Muslim one.

The language is strong when it needs to be, and for once it doesn’t seem forced. That the film ventures into a bit of extra detail to add all the moral twists is when the pace drops, but luckily, that’s only towards the end. Riding very low on the cliché factor, N. Chandra doesn’t get preachy at any point, but doesn’t even stop at telling the story the way it is.

He doesn’t pass judgement, either. Instead, he staples your eyelids to your forehead and points out what he thinks is wrong with things around us. Yeh Mera India is a highly engrossing flick that forces you to think. It’s got characters that get a resounding slap from either their conscience or circumstances or both at the same time. Which is terrible, by the way. But works real well for N. Chandra and his mini-bomb of a film.

When was the last time you saw a movie that had actors you couldn’t shake out of their respective characters even at gun-point? With superb cinematography and slick editing  topped with witty dialogue and cock-sure direction, N. Chandra’s Yeh Mera India could very well be the movie Ram Gopal Varma never made while he still had an idea of what he was doing right.

 

RATING: 3.5/5

20
Aug
09

Music Review: Black Clouds & Silver Linings (2009)

 

Dave LaBrie Sucks

Fine songwriting meets poor lyrics on the new Dream Theater album

 

From the many occasions on which vocals take the fun out of listening to music, the ones that stand out come from Dream Theater and Cryptopsy. Both have stimulating music and killjoy vocalists singing ineffective lyrics. Not that lyrics need to be effective all the time, but when the music is played with such conviction, it’s a wonder how the words being sung can be so dull. Cold Hate, Warm Blood is a great song by Cryptopsy, and a great example of how unintelligible shouting can make one cringe right from the first bellowed sentence. Even those who aren’t fans of James LaBrie’s singing style (s) will agree that he does justice to the music here.

Opening in dark metal style that will make you pay attention, John Petrucci and Mike Portnoy dive into a part that Metallica are (hopefully not) writing for their next album. 1:40 into A Nightmare To Remember, James Hetfield creeps up on James LaBrie from behind, snatches the mic and shoves him aside and starts jumping and singing gleefully. Not really, but he could easily do that, as could Dave Mustaine, going by how LaBrie’s singing on certain parts. Not wanting to miss out on the fun, Petrucci lets loose, and I’m half-impressed with LaBrie attempting Gothenburg-style vocals, but here comes the Metallica riff again. Hop, Rob Trujillo.

The guitar solos are definitely impressive, and one of them changes the mood of A Rite Of Passage. The style of the song is Megadeth shaking hands with Dark Tranquility. LaBrie begins Wither the way Atif Aslam would, but the song is not too bad. In fact, none of the songs are low on quality, they just take awhile to grow on you, like most other Dream Theater stuff.

Ho, what’s this? The Shattered Fortress is another riff from the new album ‘Tallica and ‘Deth are writing, but with keyboards and a Joe Satriani touch. There’s so much about what the songs from the new Dream Theater album sound like because one can’t help being reminded of other bands while listening to this album.

Not to say this isn’t ‘original’, it’s just that the similarities are right there in front of you. And Dream Theater eventually let every song find its identity and settle in its place.

The Best Of Times is a simple and straight song with Petrucci performing a guitar exercise every now and then. Their progressive nature outs itself on The Count Of Tuscany, which is more Dream Theater than the mildly gothic theme they’ve taken on.

The keyboards are okay, and you can’t really hear John Myung’s bass.

Bringing nothing new to the table, Dream Theater experiment with Black Clouds & Silver Linings, letting go of their progressive style almost completely, yet making a strong and satisfactory (for most part) album.

VERDICT

Black Clouds & Silver Linings is a strong album that grows on you, similarities to other bands notwithstanding.

RATING: 3.5/5

19
Aug
09

Music Review: Fast Forward (2009)

fastforward-2009-4b-1_1244216601

Akbar Sami mixes the Bollywood tinge with techno beats for this soundtrack

Akbar Sami is one of the more famous DJs from Mumbai, and is also a big name in Bollywood circles. His music for Fast Forward, as expected, is packed with songs built on techno beats and a heavy Bollywood flavour.

Opening the album, Taali Bajao (Fast Forward Mix) is a few minutes of lifeless thumping. Shaan and Pamela Jain’s Aankhon Ki Baat is a decent composition. Sami does make it sound fresh, retaining the Bollywood tinge throughout.
The exact same thing can be said for the rest of the album. Techno beats, Bollywood approach, slow songs remixed with mid-paced techno beats. Yes, that sums it up.
There’s a whole bunch of singers here, understandably, since there are 14 tracks. Half of these are remixes, but it’s nice to have a different singer crooning over the newly-added techno beats, yes? Shaan, Shweta Pandit, Kunal Ganjawala, Shamur… all good for Sami.

Also, these songs clearly have a structure. Evidently, a decent bit of thought has gone into all of this, so it’s not ‘mindless nonsense’ if that’s what you’re expecting.

Dated as it may sound, the treatment is timeless. Akbar Sami has got his ‘Bollywood Remix Formula’ down pat. Aqueel is another name that sticks to this formula and always comes out shining. Slower stuff may display Sami’s music-making ideas, but making people move is what he’s best at.

The tunes that stand out on Fast Forward are Let The Music Play (Marascia Mix), Glassy, Rise Up Feat. Jaba (Club Mix), Rhythm Of The Night (Original Mix), Punjabi MC’s Mundiyan To Bach Ke and Nachna Onda Nei (Revisited) that takes liberally from Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean and hits it over the head with flowing bhangra.

VERDICT

Expect to be moving and shaking to Akbar Sami’s music for Fast Forward, especially if you’re at a nightclub with some alcohol in your veins.

RATING: 2.5/5

12
Aug
09

Music Review: Shadow (2009)

shadow-movie-2009

Anand Raj Anand innovates and occasionally rises above standard Bollywood fare

The music of the soon-to-be-released Shadow is a mixed bag from Anand Raj Anand. Let’s observe a moment of silence to show gratitude to the filmaker, music composer and record label for not pushing for crap remixes.

Yaariyan is the expected wannabe item number, and with help from songstress Anushka Manchanda, Anand Raj Anand gets it right out of the way.

Masti has lyrics by Anjaan Saagri, and Sunidhi Chauhan twists it to her predictable style. Anand surprises here, taking Masti slightly beyond expectations by putting a slightly catchy chorus where it should be.

The title track would be better understood with the help of a music video. Starting off well, Shadow meanders into an unexciting place, always showing the spark of innovation. Sukhvinder Singh and Aakruti Kakkad sing on this not-too-bad track. Anand Raj Anand could’ve done a lot more to this.

Sunidhi Chauhan returns on Khumariyan, and Anand Raj Anand takes the opportunity to experiment with sounds under her vocals. Straight and simple, but not stuff you’ll care about a few minutes from now, unless perhaps you’re wondering which heroine gyrates to this in the movie.

What do you get when you cross Pritam and AR Rahman? Anand Raj Anand’s Rabba Rabba. Don’t get me wrong, Rabba Rabba is a very nice track… despite the inspiration being too obvious.

The sixth and last track, Dil Ke Yaar is the best composition from Shadow. Anand Raj Anand takes a whole different approach and the result is a fresh-sounding number that delights. Aakruti Kakkad accompanies him well, but it’s Anand Raj Anand takes Dil Ke Yaar to another level with his singing style here.

VERDICT

Anand Raj Anand innovates and occasionally rises above standard Bollywood fare with his music for Shadow. Wish it had more memorable tracks.

RATING: 2/5




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