Watch it for every time Nawazuddin Siddiqui graces the screen with his presence and the powerful dramaturgy we get to witness; also watch it for Raghavan’s brilliance that isolates itself from the ridiculous screenplay (although rarely) and rears its consummate-elegance head every once in a coruscating while; however destroying the entire disposition of Badlapur with a song and dance ‘end-credit’ where we see a grieving ‘Raghu’ partake of a trademark mainstream musical sequence, complete with disco lights and ‘Raghu’ baring a chiselled upper torso and cramming (what he thinks are) sad emotions in to the camera as the electric guitar blares out a progression of befuddled chords. Ridiculous.
However the scary scenes eerily and witheringly transform the mood of the set-pieces and increasingly regenerate themselves into your worst nightmares.
I liked it a whole lot. Didn’t even skip forward the song and dance sequences because of Huma Qureshi. I mean she looks hot-iron-awesome even with those ‘zombie’ lenses.
It could also be the fact that the idea of witches has been scaring me senseless since I was a kid, about a couple a hundred years ago, or so it seems.
Nishikant Kamat directs this thriller as if for television. That is not to imply that Drishyam is not watchable. On the contrary the performances and the rock solid plot keep the viewer engaged to the very last scene, which, could’ve been cut short by Salagon’s character (Ajay Devgn) simply asking for forgiveness. The explanation is how the 163 minutes it takes for the direction to move the fuck on and keep up with the solid performances, including the supporting character of Inspector Vinayak Sawant played masterfully by Yogesh Sonam who fluently puts on a terrifying skin after he’s given off enough evil vibes to fill two films called Vendetta 1 and Vendetta 2. He’s that good. Stealing screen from Devgn is not an easy task but the inspector kicks and slaps his way through like a motherfucker.
Tabu is not here, she’s lost in a “Roman wilderness of pain“.
A must watch, nonetheless, if only to watch the crossover from South of the border.
2. “UGLY” (2013)
A missing ten year old named ‘Kali’ (flower-bud); A ruthless, tall and towering, suave, extremely well-dressed and groomed, angry, and ‘more disciplined than necessary’ cop, played by virtuoso actor Ronit Roy who is also on the extreme right side of the law and who keeps his wife imprisoned in their home and his pistol in an unlocked drawer (never mind), a woman who is addicted to prescription drugs and alcohol and on the verge of squeezing the trigger on a Standard Issue Mumbai Police Pistol, whose barrel is snugly fixed in her mouth as the film opens; a reckless and aspiring actor and by now (film-time) a hopeless shadow of himself, Rahul (Rahul Bhatt); his friend and casting director, a sleazy motherfucker who dresses all shiny and pimp and acts super suspicious, the brilliant Vineet Kumar Singh from Gangs of Wasseypur, 2012 who no one can trust, not even the brilliant and virtuoso director, Anurag Kashyap and an annoying at first, cop with a love for selfies and iPhones, the brilliant Girish Kulkarni, who changes gears after becoming part of ‘the operation’ and becomes one of the best portrayals of movie khakis. All of the above comes together and explodes on the screen with the acute and harsh histrionics of the actors.
A neo-noir, Ugly once again has the Kashyap stamp of ‘gorilla-style-filming’ and a goddamn maze of a plot where no body can be trusted, although from which, everyone can benefit in so many ways.
Kashyap’s direction is non-chronological, making the viewer feel as if he’s watching one too many scenes in a single frame, however that is not the case if you pay slight attention to detail.
Everyone knows how but nobody knows where thanks to the sinuous editing by Aarti Bajaj (No One Killed Jessica, 2011); editing thousands of minute of footage to make sense of, because Kashyap refuses to stop and expects everyone to keep up, and keep up they do at the cost of everything, even if it means getting beat up for real. The house/techno compliments the angled shots and restriction of space in a country that is running out of real estate. It also does wonders for slow-motion scenes that are not meant to be shot reducing the FPS on the recorder. However, it works like the clogs on a Baume & Mercier
A fierce thriller, Ugly comes across as impressive and accomplished and improvised for realism and good reason. The film also shows us the opportunist in all of us, from the grieving mother to her soft-core actress friend, Rakhi.
Ugly is based on a true story and it sends chills up my spine whenever I think of the ending and put the entire 128 minutes of the feature in grim perspective.
A must watch, if only for the steely performance of veteran actor, Ronit Roy and the crack we witness in his resolve as he slouches in his seat after disconnecting a call.
1. “TALVAR – ALT. TITLE: GUILTY” (2015)
“Ashwin, you have thirty two days to clean the rust off the sword”
CDI Cheif Swamy (Prakash Belawadi) says these words to Detective Ashwin Kumar (Irrfan Khan) as the cop takes small sips from a bottle covered in a brown paper bag and eats his spaghetti at a shabby, over-crowded road side restaurant and the Chief settles for tea. The sword he refers to is the one ‘Lady Justice’ carries in her right hand – the word ‘Talvar’ meaning ‘Sword’ in Hindi; although the English title for the film is ‘Guilty‘.
Talvar is based on the 2008 real-life murder of a fourteen year old girl, Aarushi Talwar that made waves in the media and spread panic among the middle-class community of Noida, Uttar Pradesh in India.
During the early hours of March 16th a double homicide was committed at the residence of the Tandon’s (actual name The Talwars) in a busy neighborhood of Noida. After discovering the 45-year-old servant Hemraj’s lifeless body on the roof, the domestic help was written off as a suspect. Immediately after, the pining investigative eyes all turn to the Physician couple and the parents of Shruti, Doctors Ramesh (Neeraj Kabi) and Nutan Tandon (Konkona Sen Sharma).
“Aray sir (Oh sir), this is ‘Open/Shut’ case sir; yes sir… Case solved sir”
After the initial, sloppy, incompetent, circumstantial, at best, investigation by the UP Police, led by the brilliant actor Gajraj Rao who plays the dismissive, tobacco chewing Inspector Dhaniram and whose phone keeps blaring vulgar songs whenever it rings at most inappropriate times/visuals; the case file is handed over to the decorated detective Ashwin Kumar (Irrfan Khan), a man who is in the middle of his own mid-life crisis and takes over the case reluctantly, all along playing Flash games on his mobile phone. Once the CDI enters, the evidence starts to change and many other suspects come to light.
Meghna Gulzar (Hu Tu Tu, 1999) directs her picture with the hustle bustle of a police station, she recreates the murder scenes as the investigators build different scenarios as more evidence surfaces. She lets Irrfan Khan do what he does best, however the trademark outbursts are few and far in between.
Gulzar uses intricate dialogue by the gifted Vishal Bhardwaj (Haider, 2014) to consort her sparse direction and wide-framing of shots, combining razor sharp wit with ground realities of a Police Investigation in a Third World Country, until Detective ‘Free Games’ shows up wearing Nicholson shades (that keep sliding off his forehead on to his nose); sporting a Sanchez and blends into the character’s quirks from the very first frame.
Khan is electrifying and his investigative techniques a tad bit debatable; he brings a sense of reason to the entire untrustworthy narrative of the film; the source material, which had all the potential to blow up in the face of a lesser director. Then there’s someone who lights up the screen with her small cameo and brought a smile on this preacher’s face, the ravishing Tabu (Maqbool, 2003) as Mrs. Reema Kumar, who wants a ‘trial separation’ from her infidel detective husband, not that she is faithful to him either; and when she confesses to that part, in court, I could not help but fall for her even more. Oh, Tabu, Tabu.
Talvar could’ve been more watertight; for instance the servant quarter placement is too convenient for a plot contrivance. Yes it was like that in real life but this is a film. We watch films to escape reality.
The characters are built upon at every new lead or revelation, the performances from some of India’s greatest actors really help the film from getting where it is (starting by becoming part of Toronto International Film Festival’s Special Presentations). The DP is just right at day time and when the sun goes down, the colours change, the mood changes, the atmosphere becomes soaked in moonshine.
At 132 minutes, Talvar does a tremendous job of showing all sides of the story, even going to the extent of reanimating and reviving the vital testimonies as set-pieces that play out differently each time with the same actors and the same location. Even then the mood keeps changing from confused to convinced to doubtful, again. This film means business, it wants to get to the bottom of the bloody mess, but there is a underlying theme running throughout that makes you wonder if the rust can actually be taken off the sword?
The third act shows us bureaucracy, farewell parties, a drunk ex-CDI Chief, who does not chew his words for shit. It also determines that Detective Rapid Fire (this guy is a wit machine) has become emotionally affected by the case and his separation and the fact that the case be given to an entire new team, dismissing all prior evidence. The screenplay also approaches faux-relief since the detective’s personal life seems to be settling down.
However, the best scene of the film is a sequence where all the big wigs of the law agencies are sitting together and presenting their cases to the CDI Chief/Director with opposing hypotheses. Here we watch an actor on the top of his game cutting the serious conversation with his razor tongue and Sherlock Holmes-type instincts. Khan does not raise his voice nor does he get angry, he keeps laughing, checking his phone for the high-score, and keeps refuting and dismissing the case put forward by the new person in-charge, Detective Paul (Atul Kumar) and his boss JK Dixit (Shishir Sharma).
The scene is soaked in dry-humour, controlled emotions, dialogues that cut you in half and also bring a smile to the face. It is a scene that can be studied for its composition and the way the characters interrupt each other in a light-hearted manner in a very big hall, with each of them knowing that this is no laughing matter but if they don’t laugh, all of them will go crazy.
Talvar is a cinematic tour de force, it is highly engaging and above all a winner in achieving what it sets out to do. Even though the viewer is aware of the outcome, Gulzar keeps us guessing till the end and if that isn’t enough to be called a triumphant directorial venture I don’t know what is.
Tabu is so lovely. Oh my sweet Lord, she is so alluring, irresistible. I think the kids should make way for the queen once again; the only problem being Tabu is a little cuckoo in the head, just check out her body of work to get an idea.
“If there isn’t a reason to leave, there isn’t even a reason to stay.”