Stanely ka Dabba – Heartwarming fare

Amole Gupte was credited as the creative director of ‘Taare Zameen Par’ and he was the original director as well when Aamir Khan took the mantle of directorship onto himself and directed the emotional tale. Amole Gupte was down but not out. He came back first as an actor in Kaminay and now directs this wonderful, hearwarming tale of young 9 year old Stanely in this film ‘Stanely ka Dabba’.

The film was made leisurely on Saturdays and vacations almost as a workshop so that the children acting do not miss their school and that is what this film is about. Not missing a school at any cost. To see every child in school is a goal this country tries to achieve through various methods but millions of children in urban and rural India are still deprived of basic school education. This is the underlying message of the film but the director does not even once mention it or try to push through the message through the film except a little slide in the end which informs us of the same. This is perhaps the most subtle way a message is passed across in any Indian movie.

Stanley ka dabba is about young orphan Stanely who is the darling amongst his 4th standard friends. He doesnt have anyone to give hima tiffin box to carry to school but he hides this fact to everyone and makes up stories about his family and parents. His freinds love him and share their tiffin with him however there is Prof. Babubhai Verma played effectively by the director himself. Verma is the only other guy who doesnt get a tiffin to school and he is perpetually hungry and at times bullies young kids to eat from their tiffin box. He dislikes Stanley and almost makes the young boy quit school and thats where he realizes what he has done and repents.

It is such a simple story that it is actually difficult to imagine how one can make a film out of it. But the director succeeds here in making you engrossed for little over 90 minutes or so. Stanley ka Dabba makes you smile, makes you remember your own school days and how sharing a ‘dabba’ formed some unbreakable friendship bonds that lasted lifetime. Stanley who keeps himself full by drinking lots of water is a smart young kid who does things unconventionally and is as charming as a kid can be. The movie follows perhaps the same path as Taare Zameen Par where the protagonist is disliked by all but later discovers himself. Here a serious issue of child labor is subtly introduced in the end where Taare Zameen par was more dramatic and emotional and made you shed your tears a bit more forcefully. The school scenes are also quite similar and how a good or bad teacher can influence young kids is shown by both the films. Amole Gupte perhaps tries to prove that he could still have helmed Tare Zameen Par equally well.

One of the most important character of the film is the ‘food’ in various tiffin boxes that is brought to school by various children. The food is not just that but represents the love of the mother whoc packs it every day for his young kid. The food certainly looks yummy and I felt hungry watching the film.

The film is not flawless either and drags at times in second half and there are quite a few loose ends as well with no satisfactory conclusion to the story. But it is a sincere effort on part of Amole Gupte and kudos to Fox-Star for backing such a film. Partho Gupte as Stanely is the star of the film and his simple mannerisms and natural acting and infectious smile wins your heart. He looks quite talented as well. His friends are also wonderful and Divya Dutta as loveable Rosy Miss, Divya Jagdale as strict Science teacher and Raj Zutshi as the new history teacher are equally apt for this smallish film. Background music and OST are decent. The photography is beautiful especially when you think direcot didnt use any extra light and used only natural lighting to make the film look more natural and real. Direction is superb however the script as mentioned before has some plot-holes and could have been tighter. The film could perhaps have been much better and executed in different way. It does not have the emotional appeal of Taare Zameen Par and it doesn’t have the marketing brains of Aamir Khan behind it but it has one important thing missing in today’s films and thats subtlety.

I would recommend this film to everyone with a kid inside him.

My Ratings: 7.5/10 –  Its a simple lovely film appealing to the kid within you. Watch it – Strictly For kids aged 8 to 80

Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara – Trailer

Here’s the awaited summer blockbuster. ‘Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara’ stars Hrithik Roshan, Farhan Akhtar, Abhay Deol Katrina Kaif and Kalki in a road movie set in Spain. The film directed by Zoya Akhtar relases on July 15 and promises lots of eye-candy, masala entertainment and youth centric theme of going on an all boys trip. Sounds suspiciously similar to first half of Dil Chahta Hai and Hollywood film Hangover. Hopefully Zoya Akhtar director of ‘Luck by Chance’ will not disappoint and it wont be a copy of any film we have seen but something original.

Spain countryside looks pleasant and the 3 stars shine along with both the female leads. It does indeed look an upmarket product.

Dhinka Chinka Vs. Ringa Ringa – War of the Item Numbers

Here is the new item song ‘Dhinka Chinka’ from upcoming film ‘Ready’ featuring Salman Khan and Asin. The song has a nice beat and rhthym and has all the qualities to be a crowdpuller. Salman with his unique dancing style and colorful background fills up the scene.

Now watch this song called ‘Ringa Ringa’ from Telugu film Arya 2 featuring Allu Arjun. Allu Arjun dances brilliantly and song is far more raunchy version of the fun and dance Hindi one.

The hindi song of course is a straight lift from the Telugu original. Apparently same music director Devi Sri Prasad (DSP) has composed both songs and hence no controversies.

You listen and decide which one’s more funky.

Books I read – Only Time Will Tell by Jeffery Archer

Jeffery Archer, the author of past bestsellers like Kane and Abel, Not a penny more not a penny less and many more have been regularly churning out novels every year now and his latest offering is one of his most ambitious project called the ‘Clifton Chronicles’ where he intends to write about Clifton family starting from 1920 till 2020, spread over 5 books. The first book of the series is ‘Only Time will Tell’, which tells the story of Harry Clifton starting from 1920 till 1940, the period between the 2 great wars.

The story begins around 1920, when young Harry is born to a hardworking mother and a missing father. Harry is a brilliant child and he gets to go to school and then college mainly due to her hardworking mother, some generous help by his teachers, guides and friends. He meets friends in school and meets a girl later with whom he falls in love, only to discover that the girl’s father does not like him for reasons which have been known to only few. There are various twists and turns and secrets which get revealed. The book has an open ended, somewhat unexpected but as this book is going to have sequels its is quite apt to build up the suspense and interest.

The style of writing is very typical Jeffery Archer and to be frank there is hardly any novelty in the story too. The story and characters are quite predictable and you almost know how everything is going to pan out by the end. The earlier part of book concentrating on school life of Harry and his friends is interesting and almost reminds you of one other HARRY we all know, but when the same story is told over and over from different character’s viewpoints it gets bit tedious and you really want to book to move forward quickly. The plot looks quite out of Kane and Abel or similar past novels of Archer.

Overall the book is a good read and hopefully the next parts of the series would be better. Although this might be author’s most ambitious project in a long time, it certainly isnt his best.

My Ratings : 6.5/ 10 –  Do read if you like Archer and his very British stories.

Dum Maaro Dum – Lots of Smoke, too little Fire

This week’s latest Bollywood release is Dum Maaro Dum. The movie is a big film releasing after a long while and was eagerly looked forward to with its chartbusting song, cutting-edge promos and a drug-mafia story set in exotic Goa locales starring Abhishek Bachchan in a tough cop role out to clean the drug infested, mafia driven underworld of Goa.The film also stars Rana Daggubatti, Bipasha Basu, Pratiek and Aditya Pancholi amongst many others.

The film is set in Goa and here Goa is shown in a very different light from what we are used to seeing. Director Rohan Sippy has shown a realistic view of Goa unlike the fictitious view we get in past films. Goa shown here is neither the sweet romantic Goa of ‘Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa’ or the south bombayish view of Goa as in ‘Dil Chahta Hai’. Goa’s underbelly is exposed, its drug trade, local life and sun-kissed atmosphere is thoroughly captured. Beach, beautiful women, booze and drugs they form the identity of Goa.

The first half of the film is real breezy and sets up back-stories of various characters very nicely. The movie moves at a feverish pace and sets up the meeting of all its leads at the Goa airport, almost reminder of ‘Yuvaa’ in which 3 stories collide on a Kolkata bridge. The movie also tends to remind one of gritty cop drama ‘Sarfarosh’ to an extent. The thriller is very well written by Sridhar Raghavan, at least the first half,  however in the 2nd half of the film the writing goes a bit haywire.

The movie is about Police trying to clean up Goa from the clutches of  local and international Mafias acting in various parts of Goa, ruling their various fiefdoms with the power of drug money. Abhishek Bachchan with ‘nothing to lose’ cop is the fearless cop out to topple mafia lord Aditya Pancholi’s world. Prateik is the teenager with dreams and hope and love but caught in the mafia trap, he represents what Goa was before the drug money came in, soft, hopeful, dreamy, lazy and romantic. Rana Daggubatti who has lost his past girlfriend Bipasha Basu to the greed and lure of drug money is initially a mute spectator to the sorry tale the youth gone haywire. He later gets into the act along with ACP Kamath in the hunt for the master drug-pin Micheal Barbossa. Rana represents the Goa of today which has seen it all and continues to be see the same story unfold yet again and again. The second half of the film slightly disappoints as the suspense when revealed isn’t a big shocker but almost expected and almost all the twists can easily be predicted by the viewer. The film could have been much better if the second half was handled in a better way.

Abhishek Bachchan as Inspector Vishnu Kamath lives up to his role and how much ever his critics hate him, one has to agree that slightly crooked and touch cop acts suits him very well. Abhishek is a star who everybody loves to hate and dislike partly for no fault of his, partly due to the expectations people had in him and also partly due to his lazy selection of roles. But he lives upto the role here although he needed a much better conclusion to his role in the end. Slightly disappointing to see him not in focus at the end. Telugu star Rana Daggubatti as the local Goan singer Joki has a nice presence and easy on the eye to look but has similar expressions throughout. He does have a nice role too and by the end he becomes the central figure to the story.  Bipasha Basu as the girl gone the wrong path is okay and is almost a predictable act. Aditya Pancholi is nice as the Mafia boss Biscuta and he is seen on screen after a while. Prateik as the teenage is okay and his love story with Anaita Nair looks cute, but he quickly needs to re-invent himself or else he’ll be doing this same kind of roles all the time. Also he needs to do something about his squeaky voice !! Deepika Padukone in the much hyped and publicized ‘Dum Maaro Dum’ remix song looks drugged out, which of course suits the look of the song. Govind Namdeo and Muzzamil as cops are wonderful.

Technically the film is  excellent and is very well shot and edited. The entire look of the film is superb and suits the mood and story of the film. The background score is catchy and the songs are nice. The film is smartly shot and some of the scenes are indeed dark but overall Goa is shown in a different light altogether. The concept and core idea is nice but script and screenplay goes wrong in the later portion and the ending doesn’t satisfy you completely with several loose ends. It could have been a huge bonfire in the making but leaves us only with lots of smoke.

Dum Maaro Dum is certainly a one time watch.

My Ratings –  7/10 –  Entertaining watch. Not great but good enough.

Asli HD to the rescue !!!

Buying a new TV is actually a simple task. You look around the biggest stores, search for the bargain and pick up what fits your room and mostly your budget. Of course every person in the decision making is to be consulted and most times everyone has different views about it. The biggest of brands or the most cost-effective ones. Good looking flat panels or standard looking TVs with perhaps better feature at lower price.

Of course the flat panels win and LED TV and 3d are the latest rage. One of the most important feature of the TV is HD or ability to display High Definition images. Of course to display HD images the television channels should provide the content in High Definition and then of course your cable guy or the DTH which you own needs to carry those as well. With recent launch of Tata Sky HD that part was taken care of but still most channels beamed their programs in regular format and having HD on your TV hardly meant anything. In foreign countries there are many HD channels and most big networks have an HD feed. Here in India there were few channels which indeed beamed HD signals including Star Cricket beaming the Cricket World cup which had an HD feed with no ad breaks and that itself was a true ‘paisa vasool’ for the owners of HD TV and HD set-top box. But the cricket world cup is over and so what now !!

Last week I heard of Star TV launching some of its key channels in HD format. Not only they would be beaming the HD signals but also shooting the content for them in HD format and hence making is the real HD format or what call it Asli HD™ . With Star Movies, Star World and National Geographic 3 of the 5 channels being beamed in HD, I am excited about viewing them in HD quality, especially movies and television shows. It sure would be revolutionary. Star Plus the general entertainment channel and Star Gold showing old Hindi movies being in HD is an additional bonus and perhaps my Mom can enjoy that too. If only they worked on some better content on Star Plus !! But thats a separate topic in itself.

Hopefully there would be many more channels coming up with HD quality feed and my investment in HD TV and HD set top box would be justified. Now that Star has taken the initiative soon all the other networks and channels would be compelled to think in this direction. So people buying a new TV, remember Asli HD is here finally in India.

Madhya Pradesh Calling…

Its the summer holidays and we are going on a short family tour of Madhya Pradesh in a week’s time now…

Here are 2 excellent advertisements which prompted us to visit the state. The superbly made ads made us inquire about the tourism facilities and we decided to do the trip. This is what a good advertisement can do.

This is the first one. Entire state is represented by the movement of eyes. What an imagination !

The second one is even more wonderful as the entire state beauty is displayed by just hand shadows. Its a Classic !!

I hope our trip lives upto the expectations built up by these advertisements.

Rio – For the Kids…

Animated movies have been revolutionized since Pixar and 3d and advancement in technology. Rio is the latest animated movie coming out of Fox studios. It is the movie from the creators of Ice Age and its sequels and is directed by the same director Carlos Saldhana. Carlos who hails from Brazil has not left any stone unturned in showcasing his native land, its people and its culture.

Rio is actually about a rare species of Blue Macaws. Blu ( voiced by Jesse Eisenberg) is a clever blue macaw domesticated in Minnesota and has lived all his life with humans, has never seen a jungle other than books  and loves his cage. But Blu is the last of the male of its species with last of the female Jewel (voiced by Anne Hathway) in Rio,  Brazil. The story is about Blue visiting Jewel in Rio amongst the beautiful surroundings of the city Rio. The pair of Macaws meet, fight, run away, get captured by bird theives and rescued by their wonderful friends and helped by many other friendly animals and birds. The story shows every aspect of Rio’s culture, its samba dances, bike ride through its narrow bylanes, its sunny beaches, its trams and mountain peaks and adventurous people paragliding around the Jesus Christ the Redeemer Statue, some rogue guys, bird-thieves, beautiful rain forest wildlife and in the end the extravaganza of the Carnival. The movie is set to superbly crafted rhythms and is as colorful as any movie can be. The aerial sequences and dances are worth the ticket price and the overall animation is top-notch. Rio is surely a magical place and made me feel like visiting it more after watching the movie.

The movie is an enjoyable ride for the kids of all ages and although the emotional quotient is not on par with many Pixar films but it is never dull or boring at any point either. The characters are all lovable. Some of the jokes are suitable for grown up audience although none being adult in nature. Get some kids along when you watch this. It is best watched in a large movie hall full of squeaking and screaming children.

My Ratings –  7/10 for the movie and 8/10 for colorful animation and superb voice overs by the leads.

Thayn Thayn – Kickass rap song

Here’s the new rap song from the upcoming film’ Dum Maaro Dum’.

The song is called ‘Thayn Thayn’ and features Abhishek Bachchan in his ACP Kamath avatar from the film, rapping in his succesful ‘Bluffmaster’ style. Preetam has scored the music.

Abhishek had a super succesful R&B song sung by him in his previous Rohan Sippy directed Bluffmaster and to bear the same results he has sung this rap song mainly for the film promotion. Very nice beat and rhythm to hear.

Watch it…

IPL 4 Predictions

IPL 4 begins tomorrow 8th April 2011, with opening match in Chennai. Each of the 10 teams play 14 games with 7 home and 7 away. Making it 70 matches. There would be 4 more maches to determine the winner of IPL 4, the final match to be held on 28th May in Mumbai. The format for the final 4 teams is slightly different with the top 2 teams getting an extra chance to qualify for the final  thus getting to the top 2 positions important in league phase.

The top 3 teams of course qualify for the Champions Trophy, later this year.

12 Cities play host to the matches. Pune team has their home base in Navi Mumbai and Kochi team plays couple of matches in Indore while Kings XI Punjab play few matches in Dharamsala. With 74 matches in 50 days it would be a tough schedule for every team, what with travelling across India

With Lalit Modi, the architect of the first 3 versions, nowhere to be seen it would be a different tournament at least from the glamor point of view. Which is good as well as concentration would be on good cricket rather than good looking models and parties.

 

 

My predictions – Mostly based on team compositions, players, captains and coaches and mostly gut feeling.

MI, RCB, PSW and CSK as the top 4 and Kochi and Rajasthan Royals the bottom 2.

Just a  wild guess. Lets see.

Let the fun begin.