Queen Bee Kangana had good helper bees


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OMG, did I love this movie!  Queen has supersized Bollywood in regard to good contemporary female roles. We watch  Rani. (Kanagana Ranaut) brilliantly evolving from a place of innocence and learned helplessness vis-a-vis men,  to resilience and newly conquered strengths. Most movies that succeed in doing so don’t dare to combine drama with comedy. Queen does. That’s why you walk out uplifted and hopeful. Which, let’s face it, is the ultimate success formula. The beast (of your fears) is conquered. Off to new lands.

Many Indian movies I have seen, do the opposite. They start out uplifting and then start sagging through the second half, with intro of unforeseen dramatic events. Queen goes the other way. We start emphasizing with sweet and innocent Rani, who gets dumped a day before her wedding.What exactly motivates her to go on her honeymoon by herself, isn’t very clear, or maybe it is that seed of rebellion against becoming a victim and after locking herself in a room reliving her relationship with fiancee Vijay (Rajkummar Rao) in her mind. She remembers all that was good, and it’s breaking our hearts.

When the wedding banner “Rani Weds Vijay” gets thrown into the garbage, unknownst to her, her will to live, despite this obvious downfall, takes the upper hand. She reemerges from her 2 day exile and soon after, with the support of her loving family, she boards the plane to Paris.

Here she gets forced out of her protected childhood shell and has to switch gear to survival mode. This never comes easy. But in this movie it’s plastered with funny episodes. You cheer for Rani, you laugh with Rani and you see the West through her eyes. But contrary to many Indian films that make all Westerners and foreigners look like devils reincarnate, there is only one mean guy who she encounters. And she triumphs. Thank you, Vikas Bahl, for your kind portrayal of all foreigners in this movie. Makes it unique.

The whole cast in this movie is OUTSTANDING!! from mom, dad, grandmother and lil bro to all the people she encounters abroad. A well-chosen cast! Kudos to Parita Mandalia and Atul Mongic, (mentioned as the casting team in the credits). They found the quintessential Indian family in , people I would like to have as my family and everybody should have in their closet.. they are kind and understanding and supportive. Don’t you just love the father, played by Yogendra Tiku, the mom, (Alka Badola Kaushal), the rocking grandma (Tripita Lakhshanpal) and the lovable brother Chintu (Chinmaya Agarwal).

From Wild Wild Paris we follow Rani to Wild Wild Amsterdam, where she courageously dorms with her new pals Taka, Tim and aka Sikander (Jeffrey Ho, Joseph Guitobh, Mish Bogko) and emulates Emraan Hashmi’s lip-to-lip with restaurateur Marcello (Canadea Lopez Marco).

What I love most about her is that she never becomes anybody else. She sticks to her Rani-ness, to her Indian-ness throughout her journey of self-realization. She doesn’t alter her standards. She stays her ground and only becomes stronger. She learns about her fears. She also now opens her mind to seeing the ‘real Vijay’, his narrow-minded self. Rani sheds embellishments, biases, fears and returns to the fuzzy womb of her family invigorated and self-assured. Ready for the challenges of independence and freedom.

Every time I watched the movie, I discovered sth else, little symbolic gestures. Like the light that goes dark momentarily during the wedding dress rehearsal. Just like Rani’s life gets darkened by a cloud that then lifts and gives rise to a beautiful new day.

When best buddy Vijaylakshmi (Lisa Haydon) enters the room and the wind tousles her hair and reaches the impatiently waiting father and son duo, who want to get a glimpse of the beautiful and carefree Vijaylakshmi. So tender.

The cinematography and direction is flawless. Vikas Bahl has made it to the top. Thank you, Vikas, Kangana, everybody.

AND not to forget, letting us indulge in the foodie waves filling the theater with the spices and aromas of India, and glimpses of Her Majesty, Paris, and  Amsterdam in her upper and underworld glory. What a fun ride this was!

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Tezz: fast and not so furious


I admit, I was prepared for the worst. In India, Tezz didn’t turn exactly into box office gold and I dislike 90% of action movies, unless they make me laugh and time zooms by fast.

India’s action movies until now unfortunately have been built largely around premises of older Hollywood productions, much like a dismantled Lego set, rebuilt with the same blocks, just reshuffled. Tezz was no exception. In the first hour of the movie, and if you know your american action flicks,  you’ll get hit by stonehenge-sized deja-vus. The flashbacks which should have brought the scattered pieces of the narrative together were clumsily spread throughout the movie, not answering the fundamental question WHY? what’s motivating the antagonist Aakash (played by Ajay Devgn) who wants to blow up a train between London and Glasgow… Who can stop him? Anil Kapoor by any chance? in his role as Arjun Khanna, from the anti-terrorism squad who doesn’t have to fight only terrorists but also racial biases on the homefront.  Boman Irani? who is playing the train traffic controller and pretty wasted in that role… Who can deactivate the bomb that was never installed?

Supporting cast Zayed Khan and Sameera Reddy. Poor Zayed Khan, who is trying so hard to make it in Bollywood and whose feet never seem to lift off the ground, career-wise, has a chance here in this movie to show how amble these feet can be.

Kangana Ranaut, as Aakash’s wife Nikita, shows none of her sexy assets that we came to love in When Tanu Weds Manu… She appears in the beginning of the movie but her fate is unknown til the last 15 minutes of the movie, when she reappears not to impress but to weep a lot.

Another big letdown were the extras, as usual. Could they have helped the movie? maybe a litte bit.  I mean, Bollywood, I beg your pardon,  CASTING DEPARTMENTS! Come On! isn’t it getting old that all the white dudes look like nerds and act like jerks? :-) they speak English with horrendous accents.

What is this movie all about, we ask. Turns out that the central idea is not hardened criminals keeping a nation in suspense by threatening to blow up a train with 500 passengers.

Latter yes, somewhat. We remain only marginally involved in what it means to the passengers, the train conductors to know there is a bomb threatening to blow them up. We get to know only the security officer on the train and a young girl who is the daughter of the central train traffic controller. Her role fizzles out in the end. We never see her happily reunited with her parents, which is a typical little BW glitch.. characters who have been built up all for sudden disappear in the frantic pace of the movie.

No, the central theme is deportation angst, a revenge drama, raging against daddy- in- law and the justice system that pushes illegal immigrants to the limit. Innocent  Indian ex pats with no recourse to legal naturalization procedures but who want to make an honest living in the UK are mercilessly chased and deported. Huh? and therefore building up enough stamina to want to cruelly blow up a whole train, to get money to start a new life, to pay for someone’s surgery.. (the poor blind guy tapping around his hospital bed and spilling out secrets, revealing the identity of Aakash, who is smart enough to have designed intricate Plan As, Plan Bs, Plan Cs… with none of them turning out so good, but who forgot to tell the guy to shut up.  Who was the blind guy anyway? I already forgot.  His and Nikita’s story remain a little foggy but does it really matter in an action movie?

so, okay, let’s recap.  You are a nice guy. You are smart. You are in love. Your father in law doesn’t like you. He makes your life miserable. He rats you out. You end up deported. Now you come back and want to blow up a train to get rich and you hate the country? Man, I don’t know…. :-)

I f you ask me if there is anything at all I liked about the movie… Hai. The chases were really well done and kept up the speed of the movie.  Indian villains are the best. In Hollywood productions a villain is usually a villain and will always be a villain. You are glad when the hand of justice grabs him by the neck and a million bullets pierce his chest at the end of the movie. Not so in India. Bollywood gives you the lovable antagonist. You don’t really hate him, do you? Yes, he might do wrong but his intentions weren’t all so bad, at least not sociopathic from the getgo. He went astray. He started out being a nice guy and he dies a nice guy. And who has it in his heart to hate Ajay Devgn anyway?

I love my Bollywood villains. They can be black and white in their actions but in between they come in all shades of grey. Before your Bollywood villain goes down  there is always the glorious moment of redemption. They always remain human. Aakash here is no exception.

Malika Sheravat lit up the screen momentarily with her item number.

Rahat Fateh Ali Khan’s song Tere Bina, illustrating Aakash’s better days with wifie Nikita, was my favorite film moment and cut off too early.

 

 

 

 

Directed by Priyadarshan

We have seen better from him. Still, wasn’t that bad.

I still had a good time.

 

Filmography

2012 Tezz

2010 Aakrosh

2009 Billu

2007 Dhol

2004 Hulchul

2004 Vettam

2003 Hungama

1999 Megham

1997 Virasat(as Priyadarsan)

1996 Kala Pani

1994 Gandeevam

1994 Minnaram

1993 Gardish

1993 Midhunam

1992 Muskurahat(as Priyadarsan)

1991 Abhimanyu

1991 Advaitham

1991 Kilukkam

1991 Nirnayam

1989 Vandanam

1988 Aryan

1988 Chithram

1987 Cheppu

1984 Poochakkoru Mookkuthi

Tezz or the patience one needs to sit thru an action flick


Tere Bina by Rahat Fateh Ali Khan will be probably the only thing I will like about Tezz. It looks like a rehash of all kind of Hollywood action movies from Unstoppable to all of these Die Hard, Bruce Willis, Samuel Jackson, Denzel Washington kinda  flicks. Who has to stop whom to prevent a major catastrophe, a terrorist attack, a nuclear bomb with chases after chases after chases by car by bike by bus by train by plane or just by running obstacle courses..

From the trailer we can see  that Ajay is pacing around this movie looking all so serious after being innocently accused and now on the run to discover the truth. He is supported by his innocent damsel, wife or girlfriend played by Kangana Ranaut (Tere Bina is probably a song belonging to the intro of the movie where we get to know her a lil bit)  who might or might not be sacrificed. And if she does we’ll be angry, HE’ll be VERY ANGRY and carry out his mission with even higher resolve. That’s how I picture the movie. The only thing I know about it so far is that it has got mediocre reviews, which I haven’t bothered to read since I am going to see this movie in a few days and I want to maintain a shred of  a surprise factor.  Maybe Kangana isn’t as innocent as she looks in Tere Bina. Maybe she is the mastermind and is holding back a few surprising Karate moves? :-) Nah. Too revolutionary. Would be as convincing as Paris Hilton playing a nuclear scientist.

Obviously films of this kind aren’t targeting my peeps. Women. We sit through these shallow exercises in ‘figure out who’s the bad guy and why he’s doing what he’s doing’ with a sense of duty to please whoever took us to see the movie. We yawn through the car chases, gun-toting guys running wild. there will be always a woman on duty, who is sharp and can run fast too, she doesn’t have to be so pretty. and then there are glimpses of the one or two objects of desire, clad in little nothings, appearing briefly but have no part in the plot. Let’s face it, movies that are targeting men are usually one-dimensional and dull. Will Tezz be any different?

Let’s lean back and watch. I’ll tell you later. Or you tell me…