Saturday, February 24, 2007

Ghost Rider:Movie Review

(Pic: NYT Movies)
This one is a strong contender for this year's Razzle awards. The story of a motorist with a burning skull for a head, eliminating demons by using iron chain as a lasso, is a complete non-starter. But this film achieves a higher purpose, of making the audiences empathize with the plight of the hero with the flaming head, by packing stupid dialogues, dumb stunts, most lousy special effects, undecipherable plot and a terrible climax in two long hours. Fittingly, the film reaches an end, with the Ghost rider killing the Villain by looking deep into his eyes and a short while later, delivering the clear threat of a sequel. If you are a bike lover, like the friend who came with me to PVR Priya in Delhi, appreciate the Harley Davidson on display outside, and skip the film.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Between Federer and the French Open Crown

When he won Australian Open so authoritatively, the pundits were convinced that Federer will get his grand slam should he win French Open this year. But is the Swiss player really unstoppable? I prefer to think not! Generations of Spanish players have successfully denied players like Sampras and Courier, their chance at the Grand slam. Federer himself was thwarted twice by the young and muscular Rafael Nadal at the Roland Garros. So I think this year will be no different.

Here are some reasons

  1. Rafael Nadal
  2. The last 8 of 9 French open winners were players who did not win any other grand slam. Federer is more vulnerable here than at any other Grand slam.
  3. Every year the clay court season produces new players, who bump off the big names; for many of them knocking off Federer will be their ticket to fame. He will be sort of a "trophy" to win in every tournament he enters.
  4. Some formidable opponents like Baghdatis, Ivan Ljubičić and Safin, on their good days can stop the Federer Juggernaut; they will have their best chance here.

All said and done, the way Federer rolls over the opposition, as he did with Roddick and Gonzalez recently, bestowed him a certain aura among his contemporaries. Whenever someone becomes so dominant in any sport, there are complaints that he is killing interest in the game. This may be true, but if Federer somehow wins this one, I don't see anyone stopping him from emulating Rod Laver. Personally, I am sick of him already, so I wish that does not happen.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Black Friday: Movie Review

Be warned, Black Friday is not your regular Friday bollywood release with all those mandatory stars and song sequences. It is a gripping account of a city and its people wreaking havoc on themselves in the name of religion.

The 1993 Bombay blasts brought terrorism into Indian lives much before the western countries had to face this problem after 9/11 and the London blasts. Black Friday relased after 2 years of “postponement” by the Government, brings alive the conspiracy and events, of that story. The film, based on Journalist S.Hussain Zaidi’s book by the same name, brings alive a Bombay, where a Maruthi 1000 cc was the major symbol of affluence. Despite the long delay, the technical values are quite good. The band “Indian Ocean” which scored the music for their first full length feature film does a wonderful job with the background guitar music. The background song “Bharam Bhaap Ke” which depicts the plight of a fleeing Badshah Khan stays in the mind, long after the film.

Director Anurag Kashyap exhibits a wonderful command over the cinematic medium and fine balance in treating such a sensitive issue. The story unfolds in a series of chapters, in which the Director weaves a tapestry by skillfully integrating all the plot threads. Though most of the actors turn out good performances, Kay Kay Memon and Pavan Malhotra stand out in their roles as the cop Rakesh Maria and Tiger Memon. Made in a documentary format, this film never goes overboard with violence or rheotoric, but successfully depicts human fallibilities in its many dimesions

The film begins with a police interrogation, where Gul Mohammed tries in vain, to inform the police about the impending tragedy. The first half of the film focuses on the blasts and the systematic police investigation which unravels the conspiracy and the people involved. The lengthy chase sequence where one of the suspects, keeps trying to escape getting caught, is both realistic and funny. In the pre-interval scene, the cop Rakesh Maria’s dialogues bring out the helplessness of a police force, trying to enforce the rule of law in an imperfect democracy. The post-interval portion focuses on the motives and events that culminated in the tragedy and places the issue within the larger context of cross border terrorism, hindu bigotry and muslim alienation.

By striking at the heart of India’s financial capital, Tiger Memon tell his co-conspirators, he will evoke fear and respect for Indian muslims in hindu minds. Since then, Gujarat riots, the 2nd Bombay blasts and so on, only reinforce the film’s central message that wanton killing of innocent civilians will evoke nothing but revulsion and hatred, and result in a vicious cycle of violence. This is a must watch for all those who like good cinema.