Highway seems like the befitting follow-up for writer-director, Imtiaz Ali, after his previous film Rockstar. If Rockstar dealt with the troubled life of Janardhan Jakad, Highway deals with the troubled life of two people, who together comprise the soul of this road romance (to say the least). Alia Bhatt plays Veera, a rich girl who eventually gets kidnapped by Mahabir (played by Randeep Hooda), a hoodlum living near Delhi. Much of the film starts after this event and slowly takes its own course. Mutually, the feelings begin to develop between Mahabir and Veera; and from that point, the direction their relationship takes is what Highway is emotionally made of. Many among the audience might read ‘Stockholm Syndrome’ here; traces of which cannot be denied, but on a core level this is not a love story between the oppressor and the oppressed, but a love story where both are humans and essentially devoid of love. And when love enters their life, it enables both Mahabir and Veera to discover the meanings of their own lives and helps them in attaining peace. As the name suggests, traveling is the heart of the film and definitely co-exists in a way that it almost stands as the third character in the movie, in sync with the life of both Mahabir and Veera.
They both start connecting with each other in the course of their travels, which is in reality an espionage trip and while journeying through six different states, both the protagonists start opening up to each other and their childhood issues surface. This connection and perception of each other, in a way that makes them both (Mahabir and Veera) realize the humanity in each other and the dissimilarity of their respective worlds is what in its true sense constitutes the soul of Highway. Randeep Hooda has proven himself as an actor before and although Alia will claim most of the limelight, Randeep also gives a highly matured and restrained performance. The kind only talented and experienced actors are capable of. For Alia, this is undeniably her movie and she gives a great performance which might have been difficult to deliver at this age. She clearly does justice to the role of Veera and the credit goes to Imtiaz Ali for this too. He is one of current filmmakers who understands women like no other and has developed a reputation for creating wonderful female characters.
In Highway too, he has kept his reputation alive. One of the most interesting aspect of the movie is its music. This time A.R.Rahman goes minimalistic in his approach, unlike his previous film Rockstar. Listening to the music of Highway, one tends to get the feeling that that the soul behind the music of both the films is almost the same. Highway has some really nice tracks which speak on the behalf of what Mahabir and Veera’s life are made of.
On a sincere note, Highway is a kind of film which might polarize the views again (hopefully this time to a lesser degree than Rockstar). Some might feel the minimalist treatment and a bit of unbelievability of this film quite uninteresting. But this approach stands on the other side of the cinematic range that a filmmaker like Imtiaz Ali employs in his film. We don’t get to see these kinds of films, usually, in the plethora of blockbuster films that are made at present (which are fun too in its own way!) The director has taken this story and has stamped his own signature style over it, but with the difference. The treatment of the film is more purist in its nature and takes Highway closer to pure cinema, the kind of cinema that needs to be appreciated and encouraged too. For instance, the conscious lack of background score and a very stable and secure camerawork efficiently paving way for ‘nature’ to express itself in the movie are one of the defining elements of the movie. Anil Mehta’s cinematography is fantastic. Hope that Highway will be loved by audience and critics alike and gets the appreciation it truly deserves. Definitely one of Imtiaz Ali’s best!
Imtiaz Ali’s next movie Highway is slated to release next Friday. The excitement and the buzz is everywhere and the audience is eagerly waiting to watch this movie in theaters. No surprise, the trailer of the movie is quite interesting and the songs are really fun to listen. One of the most striking aspects of the film is the casting of this road romance. Veera (Alia Bhatt) and Mahabir (Randeep Hooda) will be seen falling in love over a road trip and discovering their own self. Sounds like a perfect coming-of-age romance and discovering the true essence of life, and that too when you expect it the least!
Yesterday the whole cast and crew of Highway gathered at Mehboob Studios in Bandra to meet the press and promote the film. Imtiaz Ali, Alia Bhatt and Randeep Hooda were present at the venue and talked about their experiences of making the movie. They said that shooting for Highway was real fun and learning experience for them. Further, Imtiaz said travelling is at the heart of the movie and occupies center stage when it comes to the story of Highway. Two people from different backgrounds who take a road trip through six states and end up falling in love. Sounds like the signature romance which is seen in Imtiaz Ali’s movies like Socha Na Tha and Jab We Met. Songs of highway such as ‘Sooha saha’(sung by Alia Bhatt) and ‘Patakha Gudi ‘have already become quite popular and people are already humming it. A.R. Rahman has composed the music of the movie.
The previous film ‘Rockstar‘ had some really great tracks and it seems that this time the music is on its way to being called chartbusters. By now, almost everyone has seen the trailer of the film which instantly reminds us of the folk and rural side of India; constantly speaking on the behalf of charm which is missing in the life of urban India. A travelogue by the name Highway Diaries has also been shot and is showcased on YouTube. For now, the stars are busy promoting Highway; as the release date – 21st Feb is quite near. We hope that Highway manages to enthrall the audience again with its heart-warming tale of romance discovered while traveling through six states of our very own India.
Academy award-winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman was found dead yesterday of a suspected drug overdose at his Manhattan apartment. Hoffman was one of the finest actors of his generation and his performances in movies were loved by movie-lovers throughout the world. A man whose extraordinary acting talents were uniformly praised by his peers and those who worked with him, Hoffman was very un-Hollywood in his personal life and preferred to live like a normal citizen, away from the frenzy of stardom. He is survived by his partner, costume designer Mimi O’Donnel and his three children. Previously, the late actor has spoken about his struggles with the substance abuse in an interview in 2006 and admitted his affinity for drugs which he constantly struggled with. However, his tryst with drugs never came in the way of his performances which he inhabited on screen. He won an Academy Award in 2005 for his portrayal of American author, Truman Capote in the movie Capote. Not only this, but he also got three Academy Award nominations in the following movies too; Charlie Wilson’s War (2008), Doubt (2009) and The Master which released previous year.
Actors, industry professionals and his family expressed their grief caused by the sudden death of the gifted actor. Actress Julianne Moore who acted with Hoffman in three movies (Boogie Nights, Magnolia and The Big Lebowski) said, "I feel so fortunate to have known and worked with the extraordinary Philip Seymour Hoffman and am deeply saddened by his passing”. Hollywood acting legend Tom Hanks said, “This is a horrible day for those who worked with Philip. He was a giant talent". Hollywood studio Lionsgate also expressed their grief on the actor’s death. Irrfan Khan is said to be a huge fan of the late actor and has often quoted him as one of his favorite actors. Hoffman was 46 years of age at the time of his death and joins the legacy of those gifted actors who struggled with substance abuse and died an untimely death. Previous to this was the death of Heath Ledger who immortalized the character of Joker in Batman: The Dark Knight; subsequently dying of a drug overdose in 2008. This is indeed a sad loss for both movie-lovers and cinema as Philip Seymour Hoffman was undeniably one of the most-gifted actors of our times. May his soul rest in peace.
The buzz for Imtiaz Ali’s Highway is catching up fast, and the curiosity amongst the audience is rising with each passing minute. Everybody who has watched Imtiaz Ali’s previous films want to watch this road romance, very much told in the filmmaker’s own style. The striking thing about the movie is that the film has one of the most interesting casts of the recent times in Hindi movies. Alia Bhatt in the role of Veera and Randeep Hooda as Mahabir will be seen in the movie, falling in love and finding the true essence of life. This perfectly sounds like a coming-of-age romance about discovering the meaning of our lives when we expect it the least.
Recently at an event held in Mumbai, Bollywood’s new sensation Alia Bhatt, director Imtiaz Ali and the music director A.R. Rahman, addressed the media. After all, the presence of A.R.Rahman was important, as he made a surprise announcement on the occasion. Everybody was curious to know what the surprise was going to be. Finally, he came on stage and revealed that a song in the movie is sung by the beautiful budding actress, Alia Bhatt. He added that it is a lullaby and both he and Imtiaz Ali felt that if Alia sings it in her own voice, it would feel more natural. ‘Sooha Saha’ is the name of the song. In the movie, Veera (Alia Bhatt) sings it while on the road journey and it reminds Mahabir (Randeep Hooda) of his own childhood in the movie. So poignant, and when the movie is directed by Imtiaz Ali and the music is given by the legend himself, it is guaranteed that this one too will be much loved and appreciated by the audience.
Imtiaz’s movies have always featured really nice songs and Rockstar had some really great tracks. Alia said that it is really a one-of-a-kind experience, singing for the maestro and it has helped her rediscover herself is a way that it is difficult for most people to understand. Her innocence and honesty was so genuine that it touched the audience. At the same time, A.R Rahman and Imtiaz Ali answered the questions and talked more about the music and the movie. We hope that Highway becomes yet another success and easily secures its place in the hearts of people with its flavor of romance, great music and folklore touch of rural India.
Consider this: A movie which is already being hailed as a cult classic and one of the main proponents of a certain kind of voice in cinema. Does writing about this very movie which was made 26 years ago and is getting released now needs to qualify in the context of reviewing a film? For a more clear definition (just for now ), we can call it absurdist cinema. Om-Dar-Ba-Dar is the movie which Kamal Swaroop made in 1989 and at best it can be considered as a post modernist Hindi film. If someone asks to describe Om-Dar-Ba-Dar, it is going to be an extremely difficult task as there can’t be a description of something which is so abstract in its sense. This is a happily constructed nonsense and a dream of a cinephile, full of life . Watch this movie as a sort of LSD trip and that will be the best way to do justice to the movie which has survived the test of time and not only that; even found great admirers among today’s Indian cinema’s major filmmakers like Anurag Kashyap and Imtiaz Ali among others.
The influence of Om-Dar-Ba-Dar is far reaching and its unapologetic experimental style has influenced and entertained true film lovers in a way only rare movies do. Set in Rajasthan, Om-Dar-Ba-Dar is about the adventures of Om in his grown-up years and his disillusionment with life. Om is rather a strange man whose family is even more eccentric. A father who leaves his job so that he can practice astrology, a sister who is dating a good for nothing guy and when it comes to Om , he believes that his true skill is his ability to hold his breath for long time. Does it make sense? No , it doesn’t. But wait! That is exactly the point. The movie employs absurdist storyline and non-linear narrative to satirize Indian mythology, arts, politics and philosophy among others.
Watching Om-Dar-Ba-Dar will make you feel repelled and frustrated and at the same time you will find it amazingly funny too. One of the reasons is that you might not have seen anything like this before. Even after trying too hard, the best I can come up with to describe this movie is by talking about a sequence from another Hindi movie ‘Yeh Saali Zindagi’ . In that movie, there is a sequence where Irrfan Khan is falling from a building and he says that while falling all that came to his mind was the images of those fire acrobats who jump from heights in the entertainment fair. Om-Dar-Ba- Dar is exactly the kind of film which is gonna flash in your mind in situations of such kind(read metaphor). Any work like this needs a zany situation of a similar kind to truly understand the legacy, influence and cult of something so transcendental like Om-Dar-Ba-Dar.
A movie made with such a conscious blend of style and story that imparts a rhythm to itself which is one of its kind; makes the movie endearing to watch from outside perspective and at the same time so aesthetically aware of its own reality if seen from inside. What does it mean?
Well, exactly what has happened to reception of Miss Lovely till now. The movie has got immense praise from the Cannes press, when it was showcased there; praise is justified given the nature of the movie and the dramatic tangent it attempts. But in India , it is going to be a different ball game. That has been always an interesting yet anxious property of cinema that when you take a story which is set in mumbai 80s C grade sex horror film world and tells the tale of two brothers who produce such sleazy(self-referential) films, the outcome is a cinematic experience, translated as a bit alien and surrealistic, to the point of being uninteresting at times. Miss Lovely’s virtue lies in the fact that it is the movie which pushes the envelope of Indian cinema with its immense potential and clearly steers away from the mainstream Bollywood film, even when it is set in the film world that thrived in the 80s. Funny, isn’t it? Miss Lovely is the tale of Duggal brothers (played by Nawazuddin siddiqui and Anil George) and their ambitions.
They produce sex horror films and how an equally horrible turn their life takes when a young aspiring starlet enter in the life of younger brother (Nawazuddin Siddiqui). In terms of story not much is to be said; it is more of a sort of period piece rather than a concrete story told. One thing is clear with Miss Lovely; it is so conscious of its style that it does both good and the ‘undesired’ to the movie. Watching this movie might translate into a surreal and nightmarish (read cinematic) experience, but only when you happen to enter the ambition driven world of C grade films. This nostalgia might appear flat and boring to the major few and highly exciting to the minor few but then Miss Lovely can’t ask for more. This is what the film is all about and this is the reaction that the film is bound to generate.
Coming back to film, it has brilliant performances from both Nawazuddin Siddiqui and the man who comes to limelight with this movie, Anil George. He gives a genuinely captivating performance and Nawazuddin Siddiqui maintains and even extends his reputation of being one of India’s finest acting talents. Art direction of the movie is superb, recreating the 80s and the world of sex crazed horror films. Direction of the film is such that it has brought its director Ashim Ahluwalia to the world stage and the influence of world cinema can be easily seen through out the film(look out for the influences if you feel like).
Background score is really one of the stand-alone characteristics of the movie and it is orchestrated in such a way that makes Miss Lovely a brilliant ‘flawed silent film’ .Its silence both draws and alienates the viewer, constantly speaking on the behalf of the horror of lives went wrong. Guess, there can’t be any other way to it; let the tragedy speak for itself. Niharika Singh gives a equally brilliant and perfectly pitched performance in her role. Her portrayal of Miss Lovely as a mysteriously innocent girl who is victimized of her own ambition deserves genuine applause. Those who are attuned to watch world cinema and those who have an affinity for the pulp cinema of that kind, are prone to like the movie. For the rest, can’t say as Miss Lovely is a courageous and secured attempt to bring forward a story in highly stylized fashion.
Junoon starts off Mumbai Local with a discussion on cinema with Rajat Kapoor
‘What is the city but the people’ said Shakespeare in Corialanus and if we take a step back and look around us, we know at that very moment how true the words of legendary playwright are. What could be better if both the city and its people come together to create a place full of vibrance and joy! The good news is that Mumbai Local, a community arts initiative by Junoon has flagged off its first episode by holding a discussion with Rajat Kapoor, an eminent theatre and film personality. Junoon is sincerely taking the plunge to create an energized environment by slowly and steadily building generous and inclusive communities of people around Mumbai. One of the main objectives of Mumbai Local is to make the experience of arts a part of our daily lives, so that it benefits us both ways; by helping us to broaden our vision and simultaneously cultivating an enriched platform for open-ended discussions and learnings. The program invites eminent scientists and artists to speak about their crafts along with the interesting stories of their journeys and achievements. Anybody who has a hunger for learning, and can’t ask for more as listening to them is sure going to help them in finding their own insights of life. This Saturday, the program took off with its first event, ‘The Joys of Cinema – Long Take’. Bheja Fry and Mithya-fame filmmaker Rajat Kapoor, came to interact with the audience gathered in the Mcubed library, Bandra and it was quite a crowd who gathered to hear this talented actor and filmmaker speak.
Rajat Kapoor is an FTII alumnus who fell in love with cinema early in his childhood and dreamt of making films. His passion led him to secure admission in FTII, post which he came to Mumbai to assist veteran filmmaker Mani Kaul. He further spoke about not getting much work in Mumbai in the early days but how his passion helped him in sailing through the rough phase of his life where he was trying to make it in movies. Amidst all difficulties, he made National award-winning short movies, Tarana and Hypnothes. His full-length directorial debut was Private Detective: Two Plus Two Plus One in 1997 which had Irrfan Khan and Naseeruddin Shah in the lead roles. The eminent filmmaker talked about the various aspects of cinema and theatre in his usual style, often referring to himself as the reluctant actor, which the audience laughed at dismissively. He also showed the video clips from some of the seminal films of world cinema like A Band Apart (Jean Luc Godard), GoodFellas (Martin Scorsese) and Touch of Evil (Orson Welles) to elucidate a few points about the craft of cinema. Really an enlightening experience to witness him talking about the movies and it was a little difficult to believe that he had to actually email his friends for the request of money which got him a National Award for the best feature film in Hindi, Raghu Romeo (2003).
After that, he made quite a few films like Mixed Doubles (2006) which dealt with the swinging culture in Mumbai and Mithya (2008) which was a kind of underworld comedy. The audience present at the venue asked the director various questions related to his work and cinema in general. Many of them wanted to know how he approached his work and from where he finds his inspiration to make such acclaimed films. Some of them also enquired about the present and the future of cinema and wanted to know his views. He replied to every question with much clarity and understanding which only made it more apparent why he is such a good filmmaker. At the end, when The Joys of Cinema got over, everybody clapped and left the place with elated spirit as everybody who attended the event must have taken some valuable learnings and inspiration on their way back home.
Richard Linklater shot to limelight in the early ’90s as one of the most-talented filmmakers on the American independent cinema scene. A self-taught filmmaker, who left formal education so that he could make films proved his choice of life right when he made the brilliant Slacker (1991), Dazed and Confused (1993) and Before Sunrise (1995). With these movies, he was to embark upon a journey of filmmaking which would result in one of the finest love trilogies ever made in the history of cinema. Shot inminimalist style, the film focused on two characters who just happen to connect and start having genuinely meaningful conversations. The remarkable aspect of ‘Before Trilogy’ is the writing and dialogue of the movies which gave his films a natural touch and spontaneity of life. All these movies established the classic style of Richard Linklater; a conversational script, ordinary yet dreamy characters, easy-flowing dialogue, minimal use of camera and setting the films in natural locations. By large, major film critics have praised the movie, and audience around the world just love this wonderful tale of love, longing and relationships and enjoy experiencing a great story on their screens.
Below are some of my thoughts about the three films that belong to one of the most-loved trilogies of world cinema:
The first movie of the Before Trilogy, this movie tells the story of Jesse Wallace (a young American man) and Celine (a young French woman) who happen to meet each other on a train and from there onwards, this encounter turns into a conversation leading up to a level where they both realize that they deeply connected with each other. The movie ends on an ambiguous noteand we keep wondering whether they met each other again or not. The movie was inspired by a woman Richard Linklater met in a toy shop and had a long conversation with her that night. Before Sunrise opened to a high critical acclaim and many people saw this as a cinematic metaphor for their lives and relationships. Before Sunrise is a sort of movie which evokes a longing for the complete reunion with one’s love interest and instinctively sought mutual understanding through its lead characters in the film. What was really remarkable in the movie was that it treated its characters as real people and expressed a sense of finding true love as a romantic possibility, even in the fictional realm of movies.
The sequel to Before Sunrise, Before Sunset actually takes off 9 years after Jesse and Celine went separate ways at the train station in Before Sunrise. By now, Jesse has become a celebrated writer and the book he wrote inspired by his meeting with Celine, has become a bestseller. He is in Europe on a book tour when he meets Celine again. Old sparks get reignitedand they quickly find themselves talking to each other about various things in their life, not to say their relationships. Before Sunset has one of the most tantalizing yet beautiful ending of all love stories. The film ends with the sequence of Jesse sitting on the couch in Celine’s home and she just puts on the record and dances to the song ‘Just in Time’ by Nina Simone. Before Sunset was met with even more acclaimand it quickly gained the reputation of being a more mature work of Richard Linklater than the previous film. Perhaps, the beauty of Before Sunset comes from the fact that neither Jesse nor Celine have anything to lose or win in their relationshipand this aspect makes them totally spontaneous when they are in each other’s company. This movie too ended on an ambiguous note leaving the audience wondering what happened to Celine and Jesse after that. Only time was going to answer this question. Approximately, 8 years later when the third part of the trilogy, Before Midnight released to universal acclaim at the Cannes Film Festival 2013
The third part of the ‘Before trilogy’, Before Midnight released last year and opened to a positive response world-over,keeping the reputation of Before Sunrise and Before Sunset alive. The third movie has Jesse and Celine married to each other with twin daughters (which Celine conceived when she met Jesse last time). Jesse has a son from his ex-wife whom he divorced in order to marry Celine. On the other hand, Celine divorced her husband too so that she could be with Jesse. They both spend their time in countryside Greece and the film is again much about about the conversation they have with each other and their friends in the movie. They keep talking about their love, relationships, aspirations; basically everything under the sun, all collectively speaking about the relationship Jesse and Celine share with each other. The movie in the end shows that they both start having differences and arguments crop up, yet again. Celine says that they won’t have the perfect relationship as their fantasies of a romantic love will never be a real picture because of the imperfect relationship they have with each other. But in the end, they reconcile when Jesse says that he unconditionally loves herand she starts responding to his jokes. Before Midnight was made on a modest budget and did considerable business along with receiving much critical acclaim. With Before Midnight, Richard Linklater managed to make one of the most consummate film trilogies and among the finest films on love and relationships, not to say stamping his style of non-formulaic narratives and randomly meeting a person in the time frame of 24 hours with a distinct cinematic flair.
Bollywood superstar Salman Khan is now in the best phase of his career. There comes a time in the life of an actor (better a hero) where he reaches the level of superstardom because his Box Office draw and mass appeal is so high, that every film of his becomes a huge Box Office success. These are the movies which create the popular charisma and star mannerisms among the hungry movie-loving audience making the actor a guaranteed success at the Box Office. Looking back at the past 5 years of Salman Khan, this elusive phase is finally a reality for him. Of course, he has given us superhit films like Maine Pyaar Kiya, Hum Aapke Hain Koun! and Tere Naam in the past, but the level of consistency he has reached is phenomenal and a true delight for the Bollywood superstar, or better still, a definitive Bollywood action superstar. His roles in the movies released in the past 5 years has established him as probably the biggest action hero of Hindi cinema in recent times. A look at the star’s career-graph would suggest that his onscreen persona has changed in phases over the years. Salman Khan found huge success with his second movie, Maine Pyaar Kiya and became popular as the quintessential lover boy with good looks.
His romantic image followed with another huge success of his career, Hum Aapke Hain Koun! The movie became a cultural phenomenon at the time and the song, Didi Tera Dewar Deewana became a blockbuster hit. After that, his career barring three hits went downhill, only to get rescued by the brilliant Tere Naam in 2003. His acting credentials were recognized by the audience in a major way as it featured Khan in the brilliant-yet-tragic role of an unfortunate lover. Next to come was what would become the finest phase of his film career. The dream run Salman Khan has enjoyed at the Box Office is great, keeping in the mind the uncertainty of the movie business. It all started with his movie Wanted (2009). Wanted was the remake of South film Pokiri and it set the tone for Salman’s later films to follow. Of course, next was the movie Veer which did not do well at the Box Office and the star needed a hit to confirm his stature once again. And then came Dabangg and changed everything and since then Salman hasn’t looked back. Dabangg was directed by debutant director Abhinav Kashyap and did wonders for him and the biggest entertainer of Bollywood. With these two movies, Salman’s onscreen charisma started taking a concrete shape of an action hero with a good heart who is also a bit of an endearing trouble-maker. Suddenly, Chulbul Pandey (name of his character in Dabangg) was everywhere and peole spoke his dialogue and tried to imitate his style enthusiastically.
Hit after hit, his next film was Bodyguard co-starring Kareena Kapoor, followed by Dabangg 2 and Ek Tha Tiger. In Dabangg 2, the actor yet again reprised the role of Chulbul Pandey while in Ek Tha Tiger, he brought an offbeat subject to mainstream commercial film by donning the role of a RAW officer. The interesting and funny thing about his movies is the absence of critical appreciation coupled with immense Box Office success. Seems that the Indian audience and Salman Khan’s fans just expect to watch their favorite superstar on screen, killing bad guys and romancing beautiful actresses in his own signature style. Perhaps he represents the aspirations of millions of Indian viewers who want to live the life of a hero, even for a moment, in a grand style. And when it is Salman Khan, the entertainment is guaranteed, for sure.
The star’s next movie, Jai Ho is releasing on Jan 24 and with this film again, he reprises the role of an action hero who lives his life for the people around him. Jai Ho is the remake of South superhit, Stalin which starred Chiranjeevi (Stalin was loosely-inspired by Hollywood film ‘Pay it Forward’). The trailer of Jai Ho is out and is already being loved by the masses. Come January 24, and the wait will be over and we all will get to watch the superstar doing what he does best on screen. Action and romance, albeit in his own inimitable style!