Kareena Kapoor’s much ballyhooed film Heroine is getting whipped by critics.
Directed by Madhur Bhandarkar, Heroine is the roller-coaster life story of a movie star played by Kareena, one of Bollywood’s most mediocre actresses.
Here are excerpts from a few unflattering reviews of Heroine.
The first half of the film passes swiftly enough, with much spot-the-unsubtle-celeb-impersonation to be played…But soon things devolve into utter lunacy..
“Heroine” belongs to the “Madhur Bhandarkar” genre of films. Pick any field, or place (Corporate, Jail, Fashion), stuff it with every cliché you can think of and more, add a gay character (irrespective of whether the story needs it or not), throw in some over-the-top dialogue, and of course, package the whole thing as “realistic cinema”….“Heroine” is no different – it feels like Bhandarkar has copy-pasted characters from his films to this one, changing their names and making cosmetic changes to suit this film.
Heroine is drably monotonous, its insights are shallow, most of the characters are caricatures and the lines that they speak border on the corny, if not on the outright ridiculous.
It is a single-note film that never manages to break free from the limitations imposed on its flow by its own slew of predictable contrivances.
All said and done, the film may be a one-time watch. But if you expected too much out of the film, it may not be worth the anticipation and your money.
* Upper Stall
Tacky does not even begin to describe the production value on this film based on films based on movies based on Bollywood, and if Bhandarkar’s team hasn’t already realized the sheer worthlessness of working on the same project over and over again, they might end up as the secondary cast in his next.
Here, read excerpts from some of the reviews for Joker:
Joker is a crude joke of a film that will leave you in tears unless you have a stomach strong enough to digest such unmitigated junk.
Occasionally, trash does have its uses in the domain of entertainment. But when it decomposes and turns into putrid garbage, it stinks. Yes, Joker is a load of rubbish that belongs in the dump yard.
There isn’t a single line in Shirish Kunder’s Joker that actually works…
The best thing I can say about Joker is that it’s better than Tees Maar Khan. That gem — the benchmark of all that is mind-numbingly terrible about Hindi films….Listing out the inanities of Joker would take an obnoxiously long amount of time and effort, in addition to the two hours the film saps out of your soul watching it.
[I]t gets cumbersome to sit through the film after a point, since what unfurls is ridiculous and bizarre. ..On the whole, JOKER is a joke of a film. Disaster!
No marriage is happy after it happens. It’s only before, thinking of it, that it’s happy.
- Manju’s drunkard father in Behind the Beautiful Forevers p.183
I can’t swear it’s all non-fiction.
But Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity by Katherine Boo is a devastating indictment of what is often proudly touted these days as “Rising India” or “Shining India.”
Kathering Boo, a staff writer with the New Yorker and spouse of an Indian academic Sunil Khilnani, spent several years writing this book, which broadly covers the 2008-2010 period.
India has hundreds of thousands of slums in metros like Mumbai, Delhi and Chennai where people live in unsanitary and inhuman conditions.
Behind the Beautiful Forevers is said to be a true account of the lives of some people in one such Indian slum.
Annawadi – A Mumbai Slum
For her book, Katherine picked Annawadi, one of the hundreds of slums dotting Mumbai, India’s largest city and a magnet for desperate migrants from across the country.
Located close to Mumbai’s international airport, Annawadi lies in the shadows of five-star hotels like Hyatt and Intercontinental.
The slum is named after Tamil migrants from South India who settled there first. Anna is a respectful Tamil word that refers to an older brother or any elderly person.
Every day, Tamils and other migrants make the long trek to Mumbai yearning for a better life and, if they’re not sleeping on the pavements and sidewalks, live in fetid slums.
Most of my readers are schmucks, forever lost in reveries of their lips tightly wrapped around a Bollywood hulk’s schlong or tongue down a Kollywood starlet’s twat, and will never pick up this 254-page book.
So let me summarize the book for you.
Behind the Beautiful Forevers is a close look at the hard struggle of a bunch of people in Annawadi to rise above their fetid surroundings.
Do they succeed in overcoming the countless obstacles the poor in Indian slums face every day?
The answer to that question is to be found in a line from the book,
For every two people in Annawadi inching up, there was one in a catastrophic plunge (p.24).
To all those who claim that a rising Indian economic tide will lift all boats, it just does not appear to be true.
At least, not the boats of India’s poorest in the slums.
Katherine weaves her account of Annawadi from the perspective of a few characters, principally the garbage sorter Abdul Hakim Hussain, the slumlord and politician wannabe Asha, her college-going daughter Manju, garbage picker Sunil and One-Leg Fatima.
But several other people (friends and relatives) and institutions (police, judiciary, hospitals etc) that impinge on the lives of the principal characters make frequent appearances to provide an all-round, vivid portrait of Abdul, Asha, Manju and Sunil and of the slum itself.
Life in Annawadi with the sewage lake, the goats, pigs, dogs and the buffalo expelling its shit on those nearby with a furious velocity is living hell.
And the people living squalid lives there are nothing but prey, often of other poor people on the same level or just a few rungs above.
Corrupt policemen, doctors in the hospitals, government employees, politicians and even other aspiring slum dwellers like Asha constantly prey on Annawadi residents.
That people like the garbage sorter Abdul Hussain or the garbage pickers like Kalu, Sanjay, Sunil or Sonu make it through a single day is itself nothing short of a miracle.
Ultimately, some of our acquaintances like the garbage pickers Kalu and Sanjay and the Tamil girl Meena die horrible deaths.
Nobody, not the charity organizations, not the police, not the government, not the social workers, not even the court, is a friend.
As Katherine writes of Abdul’s thoughts after One Leg’s fatal blow on the Hussain family:
The Indian criminal justice system was a market like garbage, Abdul now understood. Innocence and guilt could be bought and sold like a kilo of polyurethane bags (P.107).
As anyone familiar with India knows, even God has forsaken India’s poorest.
Fiction or Non-Fiction
I am skeptical that Behind the Beautiful Forevers is 100% non-fiction.
Why am I not sure if Behind the Beautiful Forevers is fiction or a much embellished non-fictional work?
First, Katherine Boo is a foreigner with nil or limited knowledge of Marathi, Hindi or Tamil, the main languages spoken in the Annawadi slum on which she writes.
Tis’ true that she employed translators and assistants but to see in print the thoughts of Abdul, Manju, Meena or other characters expressed in their words (standing by the toilet, during One-Leg’s immolation and other dark moments) is hard for my skeptical mind to swallow.
Second, I’ve never come across non-fiction accounts of poverty so richly and beautifully written.
By the way, the title Behind the Beautiful Forevers is drawn from an advertisement for Italian floor tiles on a concrete wall hiding the slum from travelers arriving at the airport.
Your favorite blog SearchIndia.com heartily recommends Behind the Beautiful Forevers with the near certainty that none of you will pick it up.
Frustrated with the intermittent WiFi connectivity issues plaguing my 27-inch iMac (despite a $1,700 price tag), I vamoosed over to Best Buy today and got the Actiontec Powerline Network Adapter Kit PWR 500 for $50.
Actiontec’s PWR 500 provides Internet connectivity in the home through the existing electrical wiring circuits, promising speeds up to 500Mbps.
So if you have a badly built product like the 27-inch iMac (with WiFi issues that Apple refuses to fix) or a WiFi black-hole in a part of your house, powerline network adapters are a good route to stable Internet connectivity.
I purchased the Actiontec for two reasons – First, the printed material on the box promised me encryption with key management and second, because it was on sale for $50.
Actiontec PWR500 Adapter Kit for My Bad 27-inch iMac
Actiontec PWR500 is easy to set up and I had smooth Internet access in no time.
Plug-n-Play, folks. Literally.
After hooking up the PWR500, I did a speed test to see what speeds I was getting.
My speed test on a Sunday afternoon showed a download speed of nearly 26Mbps on the iMac and over 4Mbps upload.
This was my first experience with powerline networking gear and I was pleased as punch.
Pleased, that is, until I decided to follow the ‘instructions’ for encryption key management that came in the PWR500 manual.
Once I followed the ‘instructions,’ I fell into a big ‘connectivity’ pothole.
What Comes in the PWR500 Box
The PWR500 comes with two adapters, two Ethernet cables and an instruction manual.Continue reading »
One of Bollywood’s hideous actresses, Priyanka Chopra is the kiss of death for anything resembling class in a movie.
If it’s a Priyanka Chopra movie, you can be sure the movie will be a piece of trash.
True to form, Priyanka’s latest Bollywood outing Teri Meri Kahani is already drawing withering scorn from a gaggle of Indian critics.
Here, take a look at critical excerpts from some of the reviews for Teri Meri Kahani:
Teri Meri Kahaani doesn’t work despite potential in the premise. It feels soulless and superficial, and is unlikely to find many fans.
It is unlikely that the rather soulless Teri Meri Kahaani will last beyond the first week in the multiplexes. The film is only two hours long and yet it trudges down its hazy path rather sluggishly and, worse still, goes nowhere in particular….Teri Meri Kahaani is flat and fluffy for the most part.
…“sometimes life is a suitcase but you feel like it’s a lunch-box” (or was it the opposite?), and if you are sitting in the audience, you might be forgiven for going “huh? Did she really say that?”
Be prepared for many such moments during this two-and-a-half-hour film that claims to be an epic love story spanning three eras. Director Kunal Kohli is obviously trying to tell you that love does not change,whether in pre-independence India or London in 2012. If only you didn’t have to watch this film to find out.
The pace of the film becomes its biggest peeve: it is slow, there’s absolutely no character development and gets boring after a point. Your interest wanes as after the first story you know what’s happening in the second and third. There’s so much style that substance takes a back-seat, which is pitiable.
The awkwardness isn’t limited to the third’s narrative alone. Kohli dilutes the chance of a wholesome, affable entertainer down by his predilection for risk-free conclusions. What’s the point of telling three different love stories if you plan to give them a similar finish off? The whole exercise seems plain cosmetic.
Nobody loves a movie full of clichés. The party really gets pooped when the clichés are about love. Unfortunately Teri Meri Kahaani employs every known truism about love to establish its three love stories across three generations. The end result…feels too jaded to be true.
I have no regrets that my birth happened three centuries after the curtain came down on the European Renaissance.
After all, it’s been my blessed fortune to have lived through the glorious age of Tamil cinema, from the early 1960s through 2012.
Tamil cinema has been unjustly vilified and much calumny heaped on it in many circles including most virulently by my bibulous predecessor, old SI.
But I consider the Tamil cinema industry no less than the Renaissance that flowered in Italy and then gloriously scattered its pollen across all Europe.
Isn’t Tamil cinema following a similar trajectory by starting small and slowly extending its reach, first to Bollywood and now to America. (Word has just reached me that Tamil star Kamal Haasan, who crunches into 10-roles like cotton candy, has been held hostage in Los Angeles by Hollywood stars besieging him for acting tips on managing a single role.)
Once the delight solely of those far-sighted, noble Tamils, films like Siruthai, Singham, Vinnaithanadi Varuvaayya, Paiyya etc are now the templates on which Bollywood learns the craft, makes its money and feeds its workers.
Rumors that script writers in Mumbai have been reduced to eating grass after Tamil films flew over the Bollywood ramparts and shattered its citadels are not unfounded.
How much longer before the dilettantes in Hollywood, the Scorseses, Coppolas, Nolans and Tarantinos, take notice of geniuses of Tamil filmdom and come calling on folded knees. And who more capable than that Ultimate of Stars, Thala to carry the Tamil banner into Hollywood
If the European Renaissance had its Benvenuto Cellini, Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo, Tamil film industry has the almighty Rajinikanth, legendary Thala (Ajith), exemplary Simbhu (son of the great artiste T.Rajendar), the nonpareil Khushboo, petite damsel Jyothika and the angelic Trisha Krishnan, whose extraordinary charms remain unmatched even by the combination of my late European inamoratas Ingrid Bergman and Audrey Hepburn.
It’s inconceivable we’re not living through the Golden Age of Tamil cinema.
Velaikkaran – What a Gem
Given my extraordinary passion for the wonder that is Tamil cinema, I never miss an opportunity to see Tamil films.
On TV, in theatres, on the iPad, on the Windows PC, on my iMac and occasionally even on the iPhone, Tamil films are the dependable solace in the autumn of this decrepit matriarch.
So last night, as is my wont before summoning the sleep gods, I was flipping through the Tamil lineup on movie channel Mela when I had the immense good luck to stumble upon a gem called Velaikkaran featuring Rajinikanth.
Released to a eager audience in 1987, Velaikkaran (a Tamil word meaning lowly servant) had me reeling in a swoon, sent me into an ecstasy and caused body fluids to escape my various pores.
I was thirsty but heedlessly let my throat remain parched, nature called insistently but I resisted resolutely, the phone rang frequently but I summarily pushed it to my voice mail.
Nothing, nothing would interrupt my unalloyed enjoyment of this 25-year-old tour de force.
Incredible acting mated with a gripping story and melodious songs coupled with graceful dancing to produce an extravaganza for the eyes, ears and for all the senses.
No number of thank-yous to director S.P.Muthuraman will suffice for the timeless work of art he has painted on the screen to the frenzied delight of countless, grateful fans stretching many decades.
I will not bear the reproaches of posterity for spoiling your enjoyment of this masterpiece by revealing the story in its entirety.
But this I will not hesitate to say – Velaikkaran’s story is an unparalleled amalgam of sacrifice, devotion, love, courage, comedy, tragedy and duty triumphing over evil, greed and cruelty, and picture perfect in every respect.
Just a few minutes into the the movie, we see 37-year-old Rajinikanth playing as an equal with a bunch of eight-year-old kids in a rustic, sylvan setting. As my eyes fell on the beauty of the village, I told myself, Surely, this must be what Eden looks like.
Soon, at the behest of his grandfather, Rajinikanth’s character Raghupathy leaves for the big city (Chennai, of course) to earn a livelihood. Voila, he quickly lands a job as bellboy at a 5-star hotel.
It’s to the credit of Tamil Nadu and the sweet waters of the Cauvery that grandfathers in the state drink that they look not a day older than their grandsons.
No sooner does our Superstar’s character Raghupathy arrive in Chennai than the tremors start and destinies of some key people living there begin to be changed.
Of course, changing destinies, off-screen and on-screen, has been Rajinikanth’s metier since he so kindly made this planet his home.
In short order, the traitorous hotel manager and his evil father, the hotel housekeeping manager (Amala), hotel owner Raj Kumar and his mother Savithri (K.R.Vijaya) and dozens of bad characters, all have their destinies indelibly altered by Raghupathy.
The elan with which Rajinikanth walks, talks, fights, makes ‘wide’ eyes at the beautiful babe Amala and, above all, the way he fires off English is so rare to behold that it makes the Halley’s Comet seem like a frequent visitor.
And how wonderfully does Raghupathy turn the commonplace bicycle into a weapon of mass destruction in the fight scene when he rescues his Mudarali (employer) from the gang of hoodlums.
It’s to the credit of the film’s producer K.Balachandar that he paired 37-year-old Rajinikanth with 18-year-old Amala.
What’s a 19-year difference when your soul-mate is God! By the way, the sight of Rajikanth’s Raghupathy staring wide-eyed at the lissome Amala is one for the ages.
Music for the Gods
When Amala’s character ‘sings’ Vaa vaa vaa on the snow-capped peaks of Kashmir accompanied by Rajinikanth dancing a la the majestic ballet dancer Rudolf Nureyev, so enchanting was the scene that it seemed like the duo added an extra chapter to the form of dance itself.
Behold the grace in their steps in the below video. Who can hold a candle for this timeless dance.
Mock me all you want you but I have no embarrassment in admitting that I wept after listening to Thottathullai Pathikatti.
Insensitive ears only hear the sounds of music in this song but to yours truly this song and the magnificent accompanying dance represents the eternal essence of the Tamil soul.
Watch how beautifully the extras sway their hips to the song below.
If you want to know what a young White girl is doing suddenly in the middle of the song, well, they call that racial integration in America, my dears.
Sarath Babu has delighted audiences in Mullum Malarum, Muthu and dozens of other fine movies, often playing second fiddle to Rajinikanth.
But his second fiddle as the hotel magnate to Rajini’s servant in Velaikkaran leaves all his other second fiddles in the dust, makes ‘em seem like, well, fourth fiddles.
In a scene that would have Karl Marx spinning in his grave over the fatal blow to his life’s work on class conflict, hotel magnate Rajkumar befriends the servant Raghupathy as the latter is about to return to his village, pleads with him to stay and insists there are no distinctions between them. Stick it up, Marx.
Eschewing her trademark smiles, Tamil Nadu’s Queen of Smiles Punnagai Arasi K.R.Vijaya dons the role of a mother who forsakes her own son to care for the son of her late husband’s employer to keep a promise.
Motherhood redefined, as only a devoted Tamil widow can.
Amala’s character is a woman of many-talents, as only a Tamil woman can be. An able manager at the hotel, devoted caretaker of her blind brother, passionate lover and ferocious fighter.
After seeing her pummel the villains toward the end of the movie, I quickly sent a text message to Nagarjuna urging caution. After all, it’s still not clear, even to Telugus after all these years, whether Nagarjuna is playing the hero or villain in his movies.
Truth be said, I learned more about photography watching Senthil’s antics with the camera than I did in all these years with my point-and-shoots, SLRs and DSLRS. Senthil plays a photographer and Rajinikanth’s buddy in this gem.
To recount the many merits of Velaikkaran, its splendid photography, its moral message, the two villains, the classic humor, the item dancer/crooner Pallavi, etc would require more storage, higher memory and greater bandwidth than this server can support.
And so not without regret I stop my ode to Velaikkaran but not before heartily recommending this rara avis to you all.
Watching Velaikkaran was a turning point in my life vis-a-vis Tamil movies and I promise it’ll be the same for you too.