Tag Archives: Priyanka Chopra

SRIDEVI – The Art, The Charisma (First Part)

The clock struck 12 and it was the 25th of February when I was driving the street and returning back to home after a dinner with my friend when my 19yo brother on Facebook questioned who Sridevi is. I obviously got the clue but for a couple of minutes, I just couldn’t believe that Sridevi, the queen of hearts, is no more.

Sridevi and Madhuri Dixit were the top-billed heroines of the Hindi cinema of the 80s and 90s. Both dominated the film industry, achieved marvellous success and numerous awards, and occupied the hearts of millions of fans around the world. Both were fabulous dancers and both had the quality and ability to compete with the leading male actors on box office by running the film on their own. The reason for stating this is because of the cinematic culture of India where the business of the film heavily depends on the leading male actor. These two unchallenged queens of divas never starred in a film together which speaks of an obvious professional rivalry.

My earliest memory of Sridevi is watching her in ChaalBaaz which I happened to watch on VHS. ChaalBaaz was the remake of Ramesh Sippy‘s Seeta Aur Geeta and Sridevi played a spectacular double-role. Later on, I watched dozens of films in which Sridevi starred like Mr. India, Roop Ki Rani Choron Ka Raja, Janbaaz, Aakhree Raasta, Himmatwala, Joshilaay, Khuda Gawah, Laadlaa and many more.

It is hard for today’s generation to understand the hype of Sridevi’s demise and what she meant to the Indian cinema. Her contribution is stupendous. In honour of her memory and dedication to the Indian cinema, I began writing this eulogy for Sridevi, to whose beauty I am deeply gratified, after knowing about her demise. Let me try to highlight a few segments of her career.

16 VAYATHINILE

It has been forty years to P.Bharathiraja‘s classic 16 Vayathinile which starred Rajinikanth, Kamal Haasan, and 13-year-old Sridevi. The film was about a 16-year-old village girl who wishes to become a teacher but her life is stuck between the two lovers.

The emotional performance in 16 Vayanthinile was incredible. The scenes when her character Mayil is spotted by the rich doctor, or when the doctor takes his chance on her, and a few more scenes. It is very tough at 13 to play such emotional roles. Such a sensitive scene like Rajini’s rape attempt on her showed that the actress was daring and courageous enough to grab any given role.

MOONDRAM PIRAI/SADMA

It is surprisingly strange that in the Indian cinema, we hardly see the leading ladies taking a challenge of playing the character of a mentally or physically challenged woman. Tell at least three such roles in the next 10 seconds! Tough isn’t it? The best to our memory is Rani Mukerji/Ayesha Kapur in Black, Priyanka Chopra in Barfi, or Jaya Bachchan in Koshish.

Sridevi is among the very few leading actresses to have played such a tougher role and the obvious evidence is Balu Mahendra‘s Tamil film, Moondram Pirai and its Hindi version, Sadma (released a year later). Sridevi took months in the preparation for the role of a young girl who suffered retrograde amnesia after a car accident. It was her versatility at such a young age that she displayed a stunning performance straight from the scene when she opens her eyes and widens her big eyes to see two strange people standing in front of them who are actually her parents. While the parents try to comfort her, she is unable to recognize them.

From that scene until she recovers, her mental performance and body language were unbelievable. The way she observes the puppy dog and plays with it, the funny fight scene and saree scene with Somu (Kamal Haasan). Sadma was only her 2nd Hindi film but at 20, she already had established her name in Indian film industries of other languages.

Here, I must mention the name of Kamal Haasan, and praise and thank him for his contribution to the film. Because the characters of Kamal and Sridevi in the films were one of the most unusual pairings and their extraordinary performances helped the films to be remembered for decades. Balu’s direction and their onscreen presence aided the film to conclude at one of the most dramatic and emotional ends. I recommend the readers to read Subhash K. Jha’s excellent film review for the Indian Express. In my opinion, Moondram Pirai/Sadma were Sridevi’s best performances of her prestigious career.

MR. INDIA

Shekhar Kapur‘s Mr India was memorable for not one but many reasons. Count Amrish Puri‘s unforgettable villainous role of Mogambo, and Anil Kapoor‘s title role, but Sridevi was also a major factor in the film’s outstanding success for not one but at least three reasons.

One was her comic performance in the film at numerous occasion most memorably in that Charlie Chaplin sequence.

Then her performance in the song Hawa Hawaii, her slapsticks and moves. The song made singer Kavita Krishnamurthy a stellar.

Then another song, “I Love You“. Sridevi in a blue saree for me is still more sensual than nowadays skin shows. Although both Hawa Hawaii and I Love You were one of Sridevi’s biggest hit numbers of her career but the significance of the latter is the solo show in the entire six and a half minutes of the song. Sridevi here proved that the choreography of the song can run solely on a woman with the masculine voice in the background. Sridevi’s sex appeal in the song is still considered one of the hottest choreographies in the Hindi cinema. She was just out of the world.

CHANDNI/LAMHE

There had to be something in Yash Chopra‘s mind that after a series of back to back failures and below average performances of his films starting from Kaala Patthar to Vijay that he chose to cast Sridevi for the first time as the leading cast to play the title role of Chandni. Yash Chopra wanted to change the action era of the 80s by making a romantic film and announced Chandni.

Being a female-centric film, Sridevi proved to be the perfect girl to play Chandni one can imagine. If the blue saree in Mr India wasn’t enough to melt our hearts, comes white churidar and kurta with a leheriya dupatta which looked incredibly simple and beautiful on Sridevi.

Sridevi made Chandni a cult classic. The legacy is that the film inspired the women to buy the Chandni white dress in Chandni Chowk. Two famous numbers from Chandni graced Sridevi’s career.

One was ‘Mere Haathon Mein’ which became India’s most famous chooriyan (bangles) song.

And then the classical tandav dance number where she turned into some mythical Goddess again in the white dress. Sridevi looked some Venus in that dance sequence but then, when did she never looked Venus?

The moment in the song Mitwa when the flute begins to play Tere Mere Honton Pe and Sridevi releases herself from Rishi Kapoor‘s arms and begins stepping to dance slowly, it is so mesmerizing! It is like an angel of love has descended down to comfort our souls.

Two years later, when the action era in Bollywood continued to race furthermore years, Lamhe happened. Yash Chopra again cast Sridevi and this time for a double role. In my opinion, Lamhe wasn’t Sridevi’s finest works. Coming from a journey where she did Nagina, Mr.India, ChaalBaaz, and Chandni, Lamhe wasn’t that wow. Considering that she had done double roles before and if double-role has to be the criteria, then the forthcoming film Khuda Gawah was a way better double performance. Sridevi did win the Filmfare award for the Best Actress but she may have won that for many films she was nominated before and later. 

Versatile actress Manisha Koirala once stated in the interview that both Lamhe and Chandni were her dream roles.

GUMRAH

In the 90s, if there was any director who really worked and improvised on Sridevi’s acting, it was Mahesh Bhatt. Gumrah‘s Sridevi was pretty different from her previous works like her reaction to her ailing mother’s death. And when she is wrongly caught for cocaine in the airport, she has a powerful facial performance of dropping into a sudden ill fate. The way she loses herself in shock after the drugs are produced from the handbag and begin screaming her boyfriend’s name in confusion is a remarkable shot. Her prison fight scene for a key with a female prison ward shows how the innocent character can bring rage and go violent. Her emotional personification, complexity to the character, her timing were top notch. Gumrah was indeed one of Sridevi’s finest works.

ENGLISH VINGLISH

Gauri Shinde‘s debut film, English Vinglish, marked Sridevi’s first grand comeback in the Indian film cinema after 15 years. And the role she played was her testimonial to her dedication towards constructing her phenomena. Just like she entered the Hindi cinema with no fluency in the language, she played the character of a small entrepreneur who learns to speak English to gain self-respect among her family.

This film set a base for Sridevi as an introduction of yesteryear’s heroin in the second innings of her age. Playing a real character role in her late 40s and giving competition to the new faces. Sridevi became an institution to the new generation and taught the fluctuation of confidence. That test of her spiral benevolence was her attribute.

How dynamic is that restaurant scene when she levels up her confidence and courage to place her order in English resulting in the cashier losing her patience in unsuccessfully cooperating with her. Dropping of coins from shaking hands in tension, and accidentally hitting the other customer were very rich scenes. It was a flawless timing where Sridevi displayed some embarrassing moments of millions around the globe.

But Sridevi summarized her entire brilliance and translated her legacy in the final speech making the viewers think if Sridevi really had English issues in real life. The way she began the speech, tried to set the tone with some words, pushed herself to built confidence and gave tips to the bride in the most simplest English was so human and natural.

MOM

Her final leading performance and confirmed to be her 300th film by many sources. Mom is one of the most vibrant and unforgettable performances by Sridevi. She plays a stepmother who wants to win her stepdaughter, Arya. Arya is gang-raped, the family is broken and loses the case in the court against the culprits. So she musters her courage and wills to get her daughter justice.

The film will annoy the viewers with the fact that if the angel of death had not followed her for a while, Sridevi in her 50s would have done wonders and gracefully stretched her already 50-year acting career. Because many leading actresses, who earned their name and reputation in the cinema, either get married and retires or sparingly shows up in their 40s and 50s.

Besides the above picks, I imagine Sridevi’s domination would have been unmatchable if she would have worked in Beta, Darr, Baazigar, Mohabbatein, Baghban, and Baahubali when/if offered. Beta was a huge miss and her rival Madhuri took the centre stage with that Dhak Dhak number. Yash’s original choice for Darr was Sridevi but she refused. Abbas-Mastan planned to have Sridevi in a double role of twin sisters in Baazigar but then opted for Kajol/Shilpa to play those roles.

Sridevi’s lack of interest scrapped her character in Mohabbatein who was supposed to be Amitabh‘s love interest. Baahubali’s character of Sivagami played by Ramya Krishnan was first offered to Sridevi which she declined due to her commitment to the other project. But the mother of all misses is declining Steven Spielberg‘s offer to play a character in Jurassic Park. And her reason was that the role was small and unworthy of her star stature. Oh, my.

Thank you for reading. This is the conclusion of the first part of the tribute to Sridevi. Please wait for the second and final part. Will be posted soon.

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Movie Review: Dil Dhadakne Do (2015)

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Dil Dhadakne Do​ is aquatic soap-opera comedy movie and compressed version of the high-society based tv serials hugely focusing on doubts, gossips, raising eyebrows, open-mouths, bedroom phenomenons, legalities of relationships…

Plot? Unmarried husband/wife Kamal Mehra (Anil Kapoor) and Neelam Mehra (Shefali Shetty) plan their 30th wedding anniversary on cruise trip. Host Kamal Mehra is a businessman of a bankruptcy-knocking company and is planning to bond their son Kabir Mehra (Ranveer Singh) with daughter of his fellow business colleague to boost business and personal relationships but the next generation family friends have their say as few among them have complicated relations. Very interesting plot innit? *standing ovation*

PLUSSES:

 

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1) Performances are first-rate. Mehra quadrangular family is amazing. All the four members of Mehras; Anil, Shifali, Priyanka and Ranvir have produced scintillating performances. It is hard to pick one or two of the best among them.

2) 30-year dry marital veterans, Mr. and Mrs. Mehra are the best on-screen chemistry to watch. Amazing timing of conversations between them.

3) Ranvir-Priyanka bro-sis dual is very natural and ideal bond to watch. Both offer very fantastic emotional support to each other, and the strength of their bond during complicated situations is the best thing to watch.

4) Dialogues are naturally flexible and approves that Farhan Akhtar is inherited with powerful writing from his father. Let me prove my point with two entirely different situations. One is the funniest vomiting scene which will LYFAO and the other is highly intense family ice-breaking conversation in medical center. Both are dramatically insane in mode of situations and timing of emotions but the dialogues in both the scenes will make you feel.

5) Dog as narrator is a very catchy innovation. Aamir Khan as Pluto the dog is a wonderful narrator and thought-provoking dialogues are written by Javed AKhtar.

MINUSSES:

1) Running time of this movie is 2 hours and 50 minutes. I repeat, 170 minutes. Exactly!!

2) Unnatural choreographed and very uninspiring songs.

3) Over-exaggeration of family relationships. Too lengthy Priyanka/Rahul Bose moments. So many parivar conferences.

4) Unusually one of the most ridiculous Final-Ten-Minute conclusion of any BIG movie.

5) Too many family sagas and none of them well-defined. Alright Mehra family is the central figure but the supporting connections all sank with absolute collapse e.g., the characters Noorie, Rana, Amrish uncle (Farhan’s dad) and even a promising character of Manoj Pahwa‘s Vinod was cut too short.

6) Farhan Akhtar’s potential role turn out to be a special-appearance jukebox. A richly deserving plot-pacing device enters the screen extremely late and instead of bring close to conclusion, expands the melodrama with his affair with Priyanka and exaggerates.

There are two highly speaking points from the fictionally existing plot which indirectly focuses on very serious issues:

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1) Dog’s autobiography: Pluto the dog is loyal pet of Mehra family. The dog is the narrator of movie where it watches the events happening in its surroundings and delivers/confesses the moral, emotional and social differences between a mute animal and a social animal.

One of the best writers in Bollywood, Javed Akhtar has penned dialogues for Pluto the dog and from Amir Khan’s voice, not only his remarkable dialogues are social satire but multi-dimensional in all walks. Pluto is a philosopher who separates his identity and differ with opinions he revolves around. That is the most impressive element of the movie.

2) Clash of Ideologies among the Generations: A tussle is hustled among the ranks not only in Mehras, but all the invitees of cruise trips where the chemistry of two generation ages to an extent. Oldies are backbiters and gossipers, high-society conservatives and admins of relationship conundrums. Contrary, their children i.e., the new generation or the new breed of friends and cousins have a different taste of humor and better understanding of complicated relationships among them.

The parental control among the Mehra pair is limited to the extend where financial benefits of business is involved. A folked up 30-year married life has a huge but bad impact on both brother and sister which mentally blocks their wish list towards the reality. Like I mentioned above, the highly intense scene in medical center between the Mehras is an ice-breaking emotional breakdown of the whole movie where all four desperately fall on heated argument.

Zoya Akhtar is a highly talented director from a richly talented family of acting and literature. But this movie is below par as compared to her previous two movies. DDD is no match with Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara. The Mehras, dialogues and pluto’s narration makes the movie attractive but the plot do not justifies or appeals the movie length of almost three hours. Could have done better.

Ratings: 7/10

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Movie Review: Mary Kom (2014)

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Considering the fact, the boxing movies are always a great pleasure to watch like Rocky, Raging Bull, Million Dollar Baby and many more, same expectations are in other movie industries. In Bollywood, I remember Aamir Khan starrer Ghulam had some meat to offer although it was not really a boxing movie. Sohail Khan’s Aryan was Abhishek Kapoor’s first directional success before he went on to make Rock On and Kai Po Che. With a new trend in Bollywood of making biographic movies on sportsmen in India and with major box-office success in Paan Singh Tomar and Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, we expect more from last year’s Priyanka Chopra starrer Mary Kom which despite a great box-office success, I found major disappointment.

Mary Kom is legendary figure in Indian sports and world of boxing. She holds breath taking CV with her being 4-times Asian Boxing Champion and 5-times World Amateur Boxing Champion!!! Phewww if that is not enough, then furthermore she is the only woman boxer to have won a medal in each one of the six world championships and first Indian woman boxer to win Gold Medal in Asian Games history which happened in Incheon 3 months ago.  

As the human factor subjects prominence in many many legendary careers of greatest and finest names in sports, Mary Kom is no different as she can easily be labeled with the same line ‘an ordinary person with extraordinary story’. But for the sake of entertainment and gleaming box office success to ensure the producers earn a calculated turnover, a true story is minced and realism is denied. 

Being produced by big-pocket names Viacom 18 Motion Pictures and Bhansali Productions, the director for such an important project is chosen a first timer!! :S Omung Kumar‘s CV is mostly of Art Direction and Production Designing. Name like legendary Mary Kom deserves a perfect bio epic movie with the most bullet details of her personal and professional life. Many chapters were ignored and many were framed into incorrect times and events. Her childhood part is ruthlessly ignored in minutes. Mary Kom as hardly 8-year-old child finds a glove in the beginning of movie and all of a sudden within a minute, 17-year-old Mary Kom is fighting in college :S How can one ignore the childhood part as she came from a very poor Manipur family whose bread and milk was by working slash-and-burn??

Despite a narrative sketch of brilliant husband-wife chemistry in the movie, one character the director failed to present was Mary Kom’s father-in-law, who was a very important figure in her biography. Her father-in-law was murdered by some gunmen back in 2006 and at that stage, Mary Kom blamed his death on herself and almost gave up her boxing career. Her husband had decided to join rebel group to take revenge of his father’s death. What an important phase of her life never screened!!!

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The final fight against her old rival is even a joke. No such incident happen such as shown in the movie as the movie sustained its root to recognize from a typical Bollywood movie. Even the event of final fight is confusing whether it was 2008 World Championship or later. If I assume it was 2008, the movie shows that her rival destroys her in first 2 or 3 rounds and then all of a sudden, the character returns in larger-than-life contest to beat her and take the title, whereas in reality Mary Kom owned her 7-1 in the final :S

Despite winning 5 world titles, the proudest moment in Mary Kom’s career was participation in 2012 London Olympics as for the first time in Olympics history, Women Boxing was included and Mary Kom was one of 36 participants among which she reached 3rd and won Bronze Medal. How in the world director never filmed this biggest moment???

If the movie is planned to watch, then there are only two reasons. One is to know Mary Kom’s life which I have reviewed above how it has been screwed. And other reason which actually is the only plus point of the movie is the soul itself – Priyanka Chopra as Mary Kom. If her mental strength was enough tested in Barfi, here she presented her physical element. Extremely tough physical exercises and her body and soul segmented between a life of boxer and wife equally raises the applauds. She surely makes you think of Million Dollar Baby’s Hillary Swank (I am not comparing ok!!). She is strong and fully ready to take on and suffer many punches in life.

In her character, the only aspect where she couldn’t catch Mary Kom probably was her Manipuri Hindi accent. That was missing. She tried her level best but that is the problem when such an important role to the artist is taught by a teacher/director but here actress has over a decade experience in her profession then the number of times Omung Kumar has sat on director’s seat while shooting.

Rating: 4.5/10

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