Shaitan (Bejoy Nambiar, 2011): An interesting take on denial of reality by fun-loving youth. Kidnapping themselves to extort money from their parents to pay for a bribe to cover up for a hit-and-run. While the first half is dripping with black humor, the second half is too much of a thriller. A satire on Gen-Y, more than anything. As in most Anurag-Kashyap-esque films, music is definitely eclectic and creative.
Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (Zoya Akhtar, 2011): Tales of quarter-life-crisis juxtaposed with a tourist brochure of Spain. Starts slow and only the last half hour can be considered having even a whiff of drama. Stilted dialogue delivery. Caricatures abound and G-rated infantile jokes by grown men. Safe for families. The chic-consumerist lifestyle in full view, with the goal obviously being to "discover" oneself. Mr Roshan is handsomely built, but did I see some crow's feet around his eyes. Time for Botox, Sire? (going by the epidemic of cosmetic surgery in Bollywood these days). Unearned privilege and self-created problems come easy to these guys. Women are merely props: the possessive fiancee, the teary-eyed mom, the fun-loving platonic ho (whose body double rides an Enfield Bullet which is obviously ubiquitous in Spain's countryside). And I realized that Macbooks are very popular in India.
Rise of the Planet of the Apes (Rupert Wyatt, 2011): Typical Hollywood melodrama-action-preachy-sci-fi-CGI-feel-good-summer-hit. But I did enjoy the CGI shots of the Golden Gate Bridge. Americans seem to find inordinate glee in seeing police cars topple. Maybe that is the suburbia's vision of Armageddon. It is a comic book movie, where the bad guys are identifiable a mile away, and the good guys are just so CUTE and COMPASSIONATE that they seem to have held each other's hands and look empathetic with a tear of understanding all their lives. Yawn. This seems to have made a shitload of money at the box office. Sigh. To each his own, I guess.
Kamla ki Maut (Basu Chatterjee, 1989): A rather funny take on middle class moralizing about sex. Some scenes (such as Pankaj Kapur and his friend's wife seducing each other and being later found out by the MASSIVELY clueless hubby, and Pankaj Kapur's reaction thereof) are so well-done that one doesn't know whether to laugh or cry. Highly recommended.
The Next Three Days (Paul Haggis, 2010): I like such thrillers. A Frederick Forsyth kind of plot, containing a lot of intimate and real-world detail about how to break into a jail, get into somebody else's car, evade airport security, get around urban surveillance and suchlike. A slow build-up leading to an electrifying, if a little too convenient, climax.
Kalyug (Shyam Benegal, 1981): A modern retelling of Mahabharata. Well done conceptually, but in an effort to copy every part of the mythic tale, a bit labored in parts. It was mighty interesting to see the faux-cuckold Dharamraj, and the virile markers of Bhim da Kharbanda. And the reaction of Arjun when he finds about his mommy having had spiritual liaisons? Priceless. Will perhaps be enjoyable only to those who remember the details of the old tale. One cremation ceremony, too many, I felt. But. These joint family dramas are such fun! And oooh, Shashi...