Little beyond the known
Chai Pani Etc
Director: Manu Rewal
Cast: Konkona Sensharma, Zafar Karachiwala, Gaurav Kapur, Avijit Dutt, Bhaskar Ghosh, Inder Misra, Manish Manoja, Pradeep Kapoor, Sinia Duggal, Shoumendra Bose, Tejeshwar Singh, Yuri
Chai Pani Etc could be two films, Chai Pani and Etcetra. Manu Rewal packages cliches to portray babudom in one and a love triangle involving a young set ' not chocolatey ' in another. Two Konkona Sensharmas and a Zafar Karachiwala are definitely more engaging in their quest for diverse goals and conflict of values.
There's little beyond the known in an ex-US man's travails in securing the nod to film a documentary and his brush with the governmentwalas ' in Bharat TV, you know what that is, and elsewhere. From the lazing fan and screeching steel almirah to the rickety stool, the 'powear' Amby and an officer actually trying to kill flies ' the images spew contempt not for the anger and amazement shared with the male protagonist, but because of familiarity.
The wonder with which the hero reacts to the turns on the power corridors is perhaps a more-real-than-intended depiction of amnesia caused by a stint in the West. A reminder late in the day, from an NGO-type Konkona, that things do move in this neck of the woods is a saving grace. Shuttling between a short-top, London-dreams girl and the fabindia chic, Konkona is nuanced. The first, more ethical, is bitchier. The order may be reversed for the second. Their mind in the matter (the young filmmaker in this case) is 21st century ' poise and poison.
Expectedly, there are the rag-pickers and miniature erotica in Zafar's docu and the sharpening of scissors. Spare, spare!
What a girl wants
13 going on 30
Director: Gary Winick
Cast: Jennifer Garner, Mark Ruffalo, Judy Greer, Andy Serkis, Kathy Baker, Samuel Ball, Marcia DeBonis, Phil Reeves, Sean Marquette, Christa B. Allen, Kiersten Warren
What a girl wants when she is 13 ' to be 'flirty, thirty and thriving'. That's director Gary Winick's take on a girl's life in 13 Going on 30. This film reminds one of the Tom Hanks starrer, Penny Marshal film Big, where Tom wishes he'd become a big boy and he wakes up to find a different person in the mirror. Winick, here, traces Jennifer's life from 13 to 30 in a single shot.
On her 13th birthday when Jennifer's so-called friends walk out on her leaving her crying inside the closet, she has only one wish, to become 30. And it happens.
But soon she finds out that her fast-forward life is not made of dreams. She's traded her innocence, her love, her happiness for a high-profile life on the Fifth Avenue, a top-shot job in Poise magazine and a life of the rich and famous. Oblivious of her journey in-between a bewildered Jennifer wishes for a second chance. Jennifer here is a refreshing change from the Daredevil Jennifer.
A cinderella story
Director: Mark Rosman
Cast: Hilary Duff, Chad Michael Murray, Jennifer Coolidge, Regina King.
It's not for the grown-ups, not necessarily because it's A Cinderella Story. Everyone loves a good Cinderella story. But director Mark Rosman's Cinderella Story is much too juvenile in its attempts to be funny, though Jennifer Coolidge as the wicked stepmother with her botox and breast implant obsession tries to raise the occasional tickle.
It's not for the teens, either. Just not happening enough, in spite of the text messaging romance between Hilary Duff, the Cinderella of this film, and Chad Michael Murray, the Prince Charming of her life. The reference to Hilary's healthy appetite shows too well on her to appeal to either the guys or gals. And Chad is too slow and dull for this generation on the go. While it might tickle them that it's a mobile and not her glass slippers that Cinderella leaves behind as she runs out of the Halloween ball, it just sickens them that Chad doesn't even remotely recognise Hilary as his Cinderella after the ball, just because she had a band-aid size mask around her eyes. After that they are too bored to care. And may well be fiddling with their own mobiles, messaging their own Prince Charmings, instead.
It's not for the kids, definitely. Much too slow and mundane for them, and may almost leave them feeling tricked into walking in by the charm of Cinderella's name.
John no longer stiff
Director: Sanjay F. Gupta
Cast: John Abraham, Priyanka Chopra, Bharat Dhabolkar, Shiny Ahuja, Anjan Shrivastava
It seems Bollywood can't have enough of the underworld. Karam is the umpteenth film to tackle the married-to-the-mob theme and yet another to have glamourised it at the cost of cinematic credibility. Music video expert Sanjay F. Gupta's debut film on the trials and tribulations of a hitman (John Abraham) trying to clean up his life is high on visual polish, but the stylish frames fail to hide his inability to infuse life into the hackneyed plot.
Rooted in the world of organised crime, where loyalty is supposedly expected and given but not returned, Karam seeks to be an elegy to the helplessness of people caught in such a hopeless situation. In John's case, the turning point comes when he looks into the eyes of a small girl whose life he has unintentionally snuffed out. It's a poignant moment that both the actor and his director handle creditably. Unfortunately, Gupta loses his grip somewhere between John's quiet repentance and his dilemma on being asked to kill again in return for his kidnapped wife's life.
The film's pace clearly slackens after the initial burst of plot and character development, and the moments of violence and suspense are limp in comparison to what a thriller requires. The songs affect the momentum further. The one bright spark amid these negatives is John, who seems to have overcome his stiffness before the camera. As an anti-hero rather than a villain, he is alternately menacing and vulnerable. Priyanka Chopra, who plays his wife, is efficient despite not having a meaty role.
Ritu Parna Dutta