Varun’s World

Enter My Mind Here!

Review: Dev D

Dev D Theatrical Poster

Directed By: Anurag Kashyap

Written by: Anurag Kashyap, Vikram Motwane

Starring: Abhay Deol, Kalki Koechlin, Mahi Gill, Dibyendu Bhattacharya

Release Date: 6 February, 2009

Times have changed and so have the interpretations of the classic Bengali novel Devdas. This movie is the 9th movie based mostly on the novel and though I haven’t seen any other, I can say that this one surely would be one of the best. Devdas, the immortal lover, was so long depicted in the classic form but Anurag Kashyap (Black Friday, Hanuman Returns) took him to be a more modernized person, caught in the twists and tangles of love.

Abhay Deol plays the role of Dev, the son of a rich Punjabi businessman while Mahi Gill plays Paro, Dev’s childhood sweetheart. As a teen, Dev goes to London for his studies and upon returning, re-unites with Paro. Thier love story comes to a halting crash when Dev rudely ditches Paro after he is fed misinformation about her by an ill-wisher. Paro is then married off to another guy and Dev finds himself at emotionally torn apart when he realizes his wrong doings. The movie also tracks the story of Chanda (after the character of Chandramukhi), a girl who takes up prostitution after losing her place in society when she is caught in a nasty MMS Scandal with her boyfriend. It is as a prostitute that she meets Dev and the two fall in love. But the troubled lives of both continue to tear them apart and the resulting drama forms the rest of the story. And believe me, all three characters have put in a stupendous performance, especially Abhay.

Now, Anurag Kashyap does a great amount of justice to the character of Chanda, who is inspired by a Delhi schoolgirl infamously caught in an MMS Scandal a few years ago. He portrays her as the girl shunted by every single person who once cared for her due to just one mistake of hers. Even though she grows wiser and vows not to repeat her mistakes, she fails to find a place in anyone’s heart. She understands that those who watched her clip were as much at fault as she herself, as she says in the movie, half the nation got off on that video, and they turned around and called her the slut.

Whats good about the movie is that it breaks quite a few taboos in the Indian Film Industry. Drug use and sexual content have been portrayed in the movie, though not extensively, but more than any Hindi movie I can remember ever has. And these portrayals are part of the character building of the characters, and aren’t wasted as might have been by most directors.

The music is in the movie is awesome! Boasting of 18 tracks, each one is quite different from the other! So many genres have been mixed together in this movie. And the song ‘Emosanal Attyachar’ sounds even better when watching the movie!

The movie is at times a bit boring. The story either proceeds too slow at those moments or the emotional quotient is too high for the situation. Anyways, all in all its a very good movie. Don’t miss it.

I’d give it 8/10.


February 19, 2009 Posted by | Movies | , | 5 Comments

Review: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button


Directed by: David Fincher

Produced by: Kathleen Kennedy

Starring: Brad PittCate Blanchett, Taraji P. Henson, Tilda Swinton

Release Dates: 25 December, 2008 (USA); 5 February, 2009 (UK)

Inspired by the 1921 short story of the same name written by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Now this was one of my most anticipated movies of 2008, though I could only get a chance to watch it a month into this year. This review comes after another two weeks. After getting more than a dozen nominations for the 2009 Oscars, I really wanted to watch this movie and after doing so, I surely believe it deserves quite a few of those accolades!

What a beautiful movie! The story speaks of the life of Benjamin Button, a normal guy, except for the fact that he ages backward. Born as a child with the biological body of an 86 year old, the movie shows how Benjamin gropes with the realities of life and love with a brain that ages forward but with a body that’s ‘headed in the other direction’. Abandoned by his father on the day he was born, Benjamin is raised by a couple from a nursing home. He meets the love of his life in Daisy (Cate Blanchett) as a kid (but biologically much older), travels across the ends of the world as a sailor, survives an attack in the World War II among the numerous other such exciting happenings in his eventful life!

Now there are almost a dozen supporting actors and actresses with separate lives in the movie with a good amount of screen time and each one of them puts in a tremendous performance. At the end of the movie, you can’t help but recollect each and every one of them and think of the how different people can be! So many lives being portrayed is also the main reason why the movie is so long, with a runtime of about 2 hours and 45 minutes. That’s probably the only drawback, it sometimes feels too long.

The movie is one of the best takes (ever) on the eternal mysteries of life and death. It is a poetic interpretation of those concepts, and a near perfect one at that. The movie flows on like a melody and never revs into top gear, which is what was so nice about it. Interestingly, it portrays America over a period of almost 8 decades, with some awesome costume designs and historically accurate sets. Yes, there are a few similarities to the plot of Forrest Gump, but they are never too pronounced. And yes, what an absolute brilliant performance by Brad Pitt! He sure is one the best actors around! This movie truly tests his capabilites, as he has to play every age group with the same persona and charisma, and he does it too well! I won’t be surprised at all if he scoops the Academy Award for the Best Actor, for which he has been nominated. When you see him at the start of the movie, you are convinced that he’s a 90-odd year old, and when you see him towards the end, you feel he’s the typical teen! Whoa!

Though this movie doesn’t quite make my Best Ever list, I can completely understand why it tops that list for many! Watch it for the sake of good cinema!

My rating would be a 9/10.

February 12, 2009 Posted by | Movies | , | 2 Comments

Review: Slumdog Millionaire


Director: Danny Boyle, Loveleen Tandon (co-director)

Starring: Dev Patel, Freida Pinto, Irrfan Khan, Anil Kapoor.

Screenplay: Simon Beaufoy

Music by: A.R.Rahman

Now we all know how much buzz this movie is creating right before its Indian release and no one needs an introduction about the movie, especially after it swept the Golden Globes and Critics’ Choice Awards. With the Indian release date set at 23rd January, the movie is sure saving tons on promotion as literally every news channel I surfed today ended each bulletin with a 10 minute show on Slumdog’s run at the Golden Globe. Also, the movie’s musical is highly anticipated after A.R. Rahman became the first Indian to win a Golden Globe for his music in the movie.

For starters, this movie is different! Not like anything you might have seen from Hollywood. The movie explores deep into 18 year old Jamal’s (Dev Patel) journey from the slums of Mumbai to being the star of the nation after being one question away from the jackpot prize money on the famous Indian TV show Kaun Banega Crorepati. Before the moment arrives for him to answer the final question, Jamal is arrested on suspicion of cheating. The police inspector who interrogates him is played by our very own Irrfan Khan!

The show’s host, who in reality was Amitabh Bachchan, is played by Anil Kapoor. Incidentally, the very first question asked is one about Amitabh Bachchan. As he continously defies expectations by answering questions that not many scholars would find answerable, we get to peer into the life of Jamal and how he rages an eternal battle to wrest his love Latika (Freida) from the scum of Mumbai’s slum-bred dons.

The actors don’t particularly have a lot of screen-time and the movie is basically shown through flashbacks. Though its a very nice movie, I was heavily let down after watching the movie, basically ‘coz I expected too much from it in the first place. And that was before the Slumdog Millionaire fever had swept India. I’m sure people will find this movie extraordinarily nice, though deep down everyone who felt the pre-release frenzy will feel let down.

But one thing is for sure, A.R.Rahman is the God of modern day Indian music. No doubt about that. Hats off to that guy for the wonderful music given in the movie. But what I have seen from the Hindi trailers is that probably some additional Hindi songs have been added to the Indian version, Slumdog Crorepati. But that’s still just a doubt. Anyways, watch this movie at least once, do not miss it.

I’ll give it 8/10.

January 12, 2009 Posted by | Movies | , , | 3 Comments

Review: Ghajini

Directed By: A. R. Murugadoss

Produced By: Allu Arvind

Starring: Aamir Khan , Asin Thottumkal, Jiah Khan

The hype surrounding this movie was huge and I was one guy who really wanted to see this movie as soon as possible. But after watching it finally, to say the least, this movie is a complete dead-brainer! A movie filled with so many loopholes that it could fill the Grand Canyon, action so drub that it would remind you of the South Indian flops of 10 years ago and the goons so old-fashioned that you might wonder whether this movie was really made this year.

Now don’t get me wrong, I like Aamir Khan and make it a point not to miss any of his movies and after watching Memento, I had really high expectations from the movie. But all those expectations came crashing down to the Earth after watching this movie. The plot centers around a man who has Short Term Memory Loss, a condition that prevents him from making new memories as he forgets things after every 15 minutes. Sanjay (Aamir) loses his lover, Kalpana (Asin), when she is killed by Ghajini, the high ranked owner of a pharmaceutical company. Though Kalpana dies on the spot, Sanjay gets severely injured on the head while trying to save her and the injury results in Anterograde-Amnesia, a condition where he loses all his memory and is unable to make new ones. Sanjay then sets out for revenge, by collecting facts and clues about Ghajini and noting them down on Polaroid photos and tattooing them on his body.

Now, as I said earlier, the loopholes come in plenty in the movie and you can virtually see the ‘Made in South India’ watermark on the action sequences! What happens when 10 men round up Aamir Khan to beat him up with their menacing looking rods and chains? You guessed it, all of the 10 end up on the floor with immense pain delivered by Aamir’s karate chops and kung-fu kicks. What happens when the owner a small-time pharmaceutical company kills tens of people within days? Yes, nothing! What happens when you’re hiding in the closet from a group of goons searching for you? Your phone starts ringing, obviously! I really thought Bollywood had grown out of it! These things quite sum up the entire plot of the movie. And there were couple (or maybe even more) action scenes that make you laugh out loud at their impossibility and patheticity! Watch it if you are an Aamir Khan fan and you might be less-disappointed.

This movie adds to the already long list of Bollywood’s big budgeted movies of 2008 that failed to make an impact, though it seems it will also be the highest revenue earning movie of the year. It has already raked in Rs 90 Crore within the first 5 days of its release!

Anyways, I’d give it a 4/10.

December 31, 2008 Posted by | Movies | , | 3 Comments

Total Recall: Top 10 Movies of 2008

Now, we all know that 2008 was a year of big movies, including some really big sequels. So, here is a post in which I recollect the best of the best that 2008 had to offer in film. So the countdown begins here!

10 ) Burn After Reading

The Cohen Brothers returned after the Academy Award winner No Country For Old Men with this hilarious dark comedy. Though the plot’s a bit complicated, it offers good laughs, with great performances by Brad Pitt and George Clooney. The movie tells the story of a former CIA Agent (John Malkovich), his wife (Tilda Swinton) and her secret lover (George Clooney) and two gym emplyoees (Brad Pitt and Frances McDormand). A CD containing highly classified data from Malkovich’s CIA Files, secretly extracted by his wife falls into the hands of Brad Pitt while his colleague becomes fast friends with George Clooney. The rest is pure comedy! 😀

9 ) Jaane Tu… Ya Jaane Na

This could be termed as the typical Bollywood movie, but with a difference. A fresh breath into Bollywood, an industry that’s almost rusting with dead-brainers these days. The movie centers around teenage liveliness and loveliness. Marking the debut of Imran Khan and first lead-role for Genelia D’ Souza, this Abbas Tyrewala movie twisted the age old Indian taste for love stories and mixed it with well-delivered comedy. The only low-down? It’s just a one-time watch.

8 ) Iron Man

Probably the first big Superhero blockbuster of the year. Based on the comic book series by the same name, this action-packed movie set new standards in the superhero movie genre. Robert Downey Jr.’s performance was impeccable and the movie automatically won over many critics’ hearts. The movie is tells the story of Industrialist Tony Stark, a giant in the weapon manufacturing industry, whose illusions about war get shattered when he is abducted and asked to create a WMD to be used against his own nation. He then takes the cover of the Iron Man and tries to put an end to everything that he was once the center of. Amazing movie to say the least.
Continue reading

December 27, 2008 Posted by | Movies, Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

Review: Yes Man!

Yes Man Poster

Director: Peyton Reed
Producer: Nicholas Stoller
Starring: Jim Carrey, Terrence Stamp, Zooey Deschanel et al.
Based on the book The Yes Man by Dannie Wallace.

This was a not-so-big release in India during the Christmas Week, but it was one that I didn’t want to miss. Jim Carrey’s return with a well made romantic comedy was good enough to mark his return to form.

The movie premises on the story of Carl (Carrey), whose monotonous life changes for good when he is encouraged to say ‘Yes!’ to every opportunity that comes to him, by a motivational speaker who hosts a group every week to preach about the greatness of the word ‘Yes’. The concept revolutionizes his life and soon, he finds himself getting over his ex-girlfriend, learning to play the guitar, bungee jumping and even finds a new soul-mate. The movie follows Carl, as he enjoys his new found life and how he copes with it the drastic change in himself.

In all, its a funny movie, with Jim Carrey’s charisma making you laugh everytime he shows up. Great supporting roles by Zooey Deschanel, Bradley Cooper and Rhys Darby too. With an innovative script, this is a must watch for all Jim Carrey fans. But for others, I would suggest waiting for the DVDs to come out, for this genre of movies does not feel different in a movie theater compared to the DVDs.

I would give a 7/10. One of the best comedies of the year.

December 27, 2008 Posted by | Movies, Uncategorized | , | 4 Comments

Review: Quantum of Solace

Name: Quantum of Solace
Directed by: Marc Forster
Produced by: Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli
Starring: Daniel Craig , Olga Kurylenko , Judi Dench and Giancarlo Giannini
Release Date: 31st October, 2008 (UK);14th November, 2008 (USA); 7th November, 2008 (India)

Ok, so here goes. The 22nd Bond Movie of the James Bond Franchisee released in India a week before the USA release. At first look, it might sound really striking and even I wondered how this could be possible. The reason is simple. The film was slated for a November 7 Worldwide Release. But in August, it was announced that Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince (considered a rival release for QoS), which was set for a November 21 Worldwide Release, was postponed to a July 17, 2009 release. Thus, QoS releases were spread over over 2 weeks. The British date was made a week earlier, on 31st October and the US Release was delayed by a week on 14th November. This allowed the distributors to market the film over the Fall blockbuster Thanksgiving holiday weekend. In countries where film revenues would not be affected much due to lower audiences (i.e. India), the release was unaffected.

Back to movie now! This movie is a full-on action packed flick. But that’s where it loses its track, too much emphasis on the roofop chases and car crashes than the actual Bond Matter itself. Daniel Craig makes a marvellous performance as James Bond and the overall acting is good.

In the previous movie, Casino Royale (2006), the central theme was terrorism. This one focuses on environmentalism. The movie starts off from where it left in Casino Royale and depicts James Bonds’ new avatar as an emotionless killer who is hell-bent on avenging his lover, Vesper Lynd’s death. Bond also has to stop the merciless Dominic Greene’s plans to take over the water resources of Bolivia. Bond literally transforms into a killing-machine, oft against the wishes of MI6 itself.

There are a lot of changes from the previous Bond movies as well. Olga Kurylenko, the Bond Girl, has too-little screen time in the movie, though her appearances are not wasted. The martini’s neither shaken nor stirred and the most amazing absence is of the ever-green dialogue: The Name’s Bond, James Bond. Also, the issue of overtaking Bolivia’s Water Resources is not given its due importance.

But overall, though different from its predecessors, the movie is a good one. One can watch it for the high-adrenaline stunts or the great acting. Its just the script that dissapoints.

My Rating: 6.5/10. Certified Good.

November 10, 2008 Posted by | Movies | , , | Leave a comment

Review: Wanted

Director: Timur Bekmambetov
Cast: James McAvoy, Morgan Freeman,Angelina Jolie.
Release Date: 27 June, 2008 (USA)

This movie could either make you gasp loudly in admiration every 2 minutes or it’ll give you a new headache every 2 minutes. Me? I had the head-aches more often.
This movie has been dubbed ‘The best action movie this summer’, and i guess they should just remove the ‘best’ out of it. For the whole movie has just one-thing in it, slow-motion action scenes featuring bullets ripping brains and hearts to shreds. And the slow-motions makes you feel the movie would have been half in length had it not been for them.

The plot is based on Wesley (James McAvoy) who plays the protagonist. A man, who enters Bullet-Motion Mode (straight out of Max Payne, i guess) each time he’s in trouble or needs time to adjust to his target. He’s taken into ‘The Fraternity’, who assasinate world leaders and corrupt people to ‘maintain the balance of power in the world’. Wesley’s partner in action is The Fox (Jolie) and they bodyguard their leader, Prof Seltzer (Morgan Freeman).

The movie shows violence in excess, but the plot is interesting. The only thing that failed (and failed miserable at it), is the presentation. The first half-an-hour makes you feel the movie is trying to prove Einstein’s Theory of Relativity of Time. But the casting is good, which saves the movie from being disgraced. We all know about Angelina Jolie, though you may have not seen James McEnvoy many times. This guy from the award-winning movie ‘The Last King of Scotland’ does as good as he could and Morgan Freeman, as always, creates his elegant charm on the screen, speaking few but wise words.

But then again, this movie might blow your mind too, if action is your idea of a perfect movie. But i just didn’t like the repeated bullets whizzing around, the blood splattering in slow-motion the same way a thousand times and the wastage of a potentially good movie.

I would give it 5/10.

July 23, 2008 Posted by | Movies | , | Leave a comment

Review of Batman: The Dark Knight

A movie I had been waiting for sooo eagerly!! For 2 weeks, I counted down to the 18th of July i.e. the date of realease. And what I saw today justified the wait!!

Over-anxious for this movie, I watched the first Batman movie, Batman Begins twice in a week. The build up for the movie was huge, obviouly Warner Bros had done their bit in Marketing the movie!

Now, it’s been a trend of late to promote all the super-hero/fantasy movies as ‘a darker and deadlier version’. That was how Spidy 3 was, all the Harry Potters are and well, yes, that’s how Batman was being promoted! But comparing Batman:The Dark Knight to the other movies is laughable. This heart stopping action-thriller keeps you stuck to the screen the moment Joker enters and continues till the very end.

And yeah, I almost forgot! The Joker! He was the reason probably why my adrenaline was pumping at the thought of the movie, even before it released! The ghastly yet somewhat elegant looking ‘freak’ was probably the highlight of the whole movie! And what a great performance by the late Heath Ledger! His last completed role is surely one for the Oscars! His slightly tilted head, that wide, wide smile with the scars and that gory lipsmacking make him stand out as the performance of the whole movie!

Well, enough said about the movie’s pre-release build up. Let’s talk about the movie in general. The movie begins with the entry of The Joker, living up to the brutal image created of him in the Comic Book Series of Batman. As the movie moves on, The Joker exerts himself as the Classiest Criminal in the whole of Gotham, who does what he does, not for money, but ‘to watch the world burn’. Batman aka Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale), finds himself in two-minds as to his role as the hero beneath a mask and starts believing that Gotham needs a hero with a face, which it finds in the new District Attorney, Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart). Katie Holmes is replaced in this movie by Maggie Gyllenhaal, who according to me, fails to conjure the charisma of Rachel Dawes.

With perfect portrayals of The Batman, The Joker, Harvey ‘Two-Face’ Dent and Jim Gordon, this is one of the best movies of the year. With more adrenaline, meaner Bat Toys, deeper emotions and a clinical script, hats off to Christopher Nolan! A must must watch for all Batman fans and non-fans alike! A guarantee, you’ll love the movie every bit!

I would give it 9/10.
Consider the next best movie this year rated somewhere between 7 and 8.5. So now you know how big 9 is on my rating meter!

July 19, 2008 Posted by | Movies | , , , | 1 Comment

Review: Kung Fu Panda

The Indian release took place on the 11th of July, even though it had released a month ago in The States. But that doesn’t take any ‘awesomeness’ away from the movie!
A perfectly presented movie about Po, A Big Fat Panda, even though he considers himself THE Big Fat Panda. Stuck at his father’s noodle shop, he dreams and worships just one thing- Kung-Fu.
He crashlands at a ceremony where the wise Master Oogway chooses the Dragon Warrior to fight the ultimate evil in the snow leopard fighter Tai Lung, and gets selected as the Dragon Warrior. With just a fat belly and kung-fu dreams, how does he make his way to the top under the guidance of Master Shifu? And the Furious Five-Tigress, Monkey, Mantis, Viper and Crane, students of Master Shifu, feel cheated at not being chosen as the Dragon Warrior. How does The Panda gain respect and most important of all, face Tai Lung in the inevitable showdown?
This movie has it all. The perfect recipe for a rib-tickling journey through the eyes of Po. With voices by Jack Black, Jackie Chan and Angelina Jolie, you should not miss this one if you’re a Movie Buff. ‘Coz as the movie says: There’s No Price for Awesomeness and Attractiveness!!
A juicy 8/10 for Po and Co.

July 12, 2008 Posted by | Movies | | Leave a comment