Monthly Archives: November, 2011

Book review: Chetan Bhagat’s Revolution 2020

To hate Chetan Bhagat and his works has become quite fashionable these days. I have seen people mock the writer cruelly on their Facebook pages. But I’m so sure they’re the ones who read him cover to cover. Much like Rihanna fans who profess their passion for rock music. I will risk a downfall in popularity and confess that I’ve read most of his books. And redeem myself by saying that I enjoyed only one, 2 States. Of course, it helped that I love racist humour. The reason I end up reading all his works is that my sister leaves them within my sight, and they’re super quick reads. Give it 4-5 hours, and you’ve finished the book. There’s a certain thrill in finishing a book, even if you haven’t enjoyed it, I think.

So yes, the book at hand – Revolution 2020. Three words: Old and boring.
Old, because EVERYONE in India is aware about the problems the author address – the rotten Indian education system and corruption. Stories of how lakhs of students compete for AIEEE exams every year is a non-story. Everybody knows that, so I didn’t enjoy half the book devoted to protagonist’s cribbing about not getting a good enough rank.
Boring, because the second half is about the now-a-college-drop-out protagonist proceeding to set up his own  business, which happens to be an engineering college. The guy has to pay bribes to just about everyone, from government officials for getting sanctions, to professors to join as faculty. Again, why would I be interested in reading the entire second half of the book about this, when I know that corruption levels in my country are at an all time high.
Bhagat adopts a style similar to Charles Dickens in David Copperfield (forgive the simile); talks about socio-economic issues at hand without offering a hint of solution.
Oh, and of course, there’s a love triangle thrown in, with the girl talking in typical Indian English. Really, now, don’t I have blogs if I want to read such SMS language. The foil to our protagonist is an AIEEE rank holder, who throws away his career to become a journalist who unearths scams, hoping to start a youth revolution in India to topple the current system and install a better one in its place. Yawn.

Why actress Sonam Kapoor launched the book (resembling a multi-tiered cake, no less) is no one's guess.

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Rockstar review. Half a star. Maybe

Bollywood film Jab We Met released in 2007 and over the years, I have lost the count of number of times I have seen the film, and thrown lines from it unsuspecting, during conversations. So when its director, an intelligent Mr Imtiaz Ali, made another film, Rockstar, that released earlier in the week, you know who went to watch it.

I stepped out of the theatre enlightened that there isn’t a better way to utterly waste two and a half hours of my life. Besides, of course, watching the film again. The 1.30 minutes you watch in the teasers are the only exciting/good bits of the film.

Now, from personal interactions with the director, I can could vouch that Imtiaz Ali is someone who believes his audience is not dumb (unlike Rohit Shetty, Priyadarshan, Sajid Khan… I could go on). He’s a man who clearly knows what he is doing. It has been nearly a day since my sensibilities were assaulted, but I’m still angry about him making such a pathetic film. I’m taking this personally, because I earnestly hoped that I would enjoy the film.

Very predictably (no need for declaring spoiler alert here), singer Jordan (Ranbir Kapoor) falls in love with Heer (Nargis Fakhri). For some reason, he doesn’t get her/ they can’t be together and that saddens him. His angst fuels his singing career and he becomes successful.

Ranbir plays his goofy self well (he’s had practice at that in Ajab Prem Ki Ghajab Kahani), although it borders dangerously close to Shah Rukh’s act in My Name is Khan and Hrithik’s in Koi Mil Gaya (which is not a good thing). His scenes when he has altercations with the police are about the only time you think the guy acts. At all other times, you wouldn’t know if it’s Ranbir or Imran Khan or some other boy. His styling though, is refreshing and notable. Perhaps the stylist has drawn inspiration from Johnny Depp’s Capt Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean series.

Nargis Fakhri.

Nargis! Oh, for the love of God, something’s wrong here. Terribly wrong. If the weak plot is this film’s worst aspect, Nargis is, without a doubt, the second. I choose to call her ‘duck-face’ (literally meant) and don’t even feel a tiniest bit sympathetic. If you thought no one else delivered dialogues worse than Sonam Kapoor, here’s our winner. And she has so many dialogues! WHY! I don’t know if anyone else noticed this, but she also moves her neck back and forth, much like an ostrich does, during every other word spoken. The only reason I won’t go on criticising Nargis what-the-Fakh-ri any more is her legs. Gorgeous unending pair of legs that girl’s gifted with. I’m wondering why Imtiaz chose to gave her numerous close-ups (thereby resulting in his audience to hate the lady), when he could’ve shown us a bit more of the legs, at least.

The scenes are poorly developed and before you realise what’s happening… Ta da! Next scene. Example: I’m certain there was a half a second’s explanation about how Janardan takes on his name as Jordan, but I’m also certain nobody got that. Imtiaz rushes us through most of the scenes without developing the characters. I didn’t get how or when or how the poor little rich Delhi girl Heer (who’s mum is played by the lovely Shernaz Patel) falls for Jordan. Or is she just using him as entourage?

Oh! And there are some scenes where Fakhri has such an orgasmic look on her face, I thought I’ll finally see why the film received an adult certificate from the Censor Board. But no, that was apparently for the middle finger that Ranbir raises.

The illustrious AR Rahman has composed music for Rockstar, and I hoped that if nothing, I can consider Rs 200 spent on good music, if not the film. But the Oscar-winner disappoints, and how! I know a lot of people will not agree with me on this one, but just as with Mani Ratnam’s Raavan, the songs in Rockstar seem rehashed too. Not as much, but it’s something like you’ve heard them before. One mandatory Allah-Maula song in a dargah, one Tinga linga number that’s similar to Giselle Monterio’s La la la la ho gayi re from Love Aaj Kal, and the works. Mohit Chauhan ups it here and there, and is the saving grace with a beautiful O ya ya ya, and makes you believe he’s the only one who can sing it so well. Maybe I’ll give half a star to the film for him. Friends insist that the songs will grow on me, like most of Coldplay’s, perhaps. But I’m going to need some serious motivation to pick up that CD.

The receptionist from Ratlam’s Hotel Decent (remember him from Jab We Met?!) makes a cameo as the assistant during Ranbir’s initial days of studio recording. Just like he had the “Ekdum kadak! Kahaan se mili?” line in Jab We Met, here too he has a killer line. “Tu gaana bajaa raha hai, ya jaane ki bajaa raha hai?” he asks Ranbir exasperatedly. He’s not really an actor, but is part of Imtiaz’s directing crew, I’ve heard.

And, Piyush Mishra (who is becoming a favourite) has a role in the film. This guy has been around in the industry since a while, but you would best recognise him as the brilliantly played Majeedbhai in Tere Bin Laden and from Gulaal. He’s also a terrific lyricist and singer. I can’t recommend Gulaal enough; he’s done a fantastic job with the lyrics, and is even better with the vocals. Do listen to Gulaal, for my sake. You’ll need to see the lyrics alongside, as there’s a heavy dose of fine Hindi vocabulary!

Ok, back to Rockstar. I’m still cringing every time I see a friend’s status update on Facebook declare that they loved the film. I’m also making a mental note to un-friend them on Facebook, at least. Yeah, so that’s how much I (un)joyed Rockstar.

PS: Probably the only other reviewer who isn’t gushing about the film is my friend Kunal Guha, who has reviewed the film for Yahoo! here.

Dump them clichés

Avoid clichés like the plague. (They’re old hat.)

Also, always avoid annoying alliteration.

Grandpa for dinner

“Let’s eat grandpa!”   :O

“Let’s eat, grandpa.”  : )

 

 

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