The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Of pining parents

Director Pinaki Chaudhuri’s aim to highlight the problems parents face when children leave home to pursue a career is trapped in a depressing world of fathers and mothers huddled together in Ballygunge Court, a residential complex in the heart of the city.

Soumitra Chatterjee and Mamata Shankar play an ageing couple living with their son (Bhaswar Chatterjee) and his wife (Maitreyee Mitra). Soumitra spends his day ambling around the house and grumbling about his son’s desire to study at Princeton University, while Mamata plays the super-compassionate mother acting as a go-between father and son. Bhaswar does a decent job, torn between a sense of duty towards his parents and job prospects abroad.

Sabyasachi Chakraborty is ‘daddy cool’ who drinks and smokes with his teenaged daughter (model Bidita in a lacklustre debut) and sings away his blues on the piano as his daughter leaves apologetically for higher studies. Tanushree Shankar, his wife, keeps pining for her daughter. Then there’s a cheerless couple yearning to speak to their son settled abroad but never getting past the answering machine.

Chaudhuri continues to paint a picture of abandoned parents who either listen to Rabindrasangeet or plant trees. The film takes a brutal turn with the senior most couple in the complex being robbed and killed. As if to drive home the point that ambitious youngsters are a self-seeking lot subjecting parents to depression and death.

The London locales featuring Bhaswar and Maitreyee are a welcome relief away from the claustrophobic walls of Ballygunge Court.

Mohua Das

Boys to men

Arrive early. Or you will miss the sizzling title track with the buxom belles of Bollywood. Leave late. Or you will miss the awesome foursome Girl Band do the sexy pole dance. And don’t leave in the intermission. Or you will miss the first trailer of Om Shanti Om.

And what do you do in between' Well, you stay put! Because Sajid Khan’s come up with a knockout debut. Or should we call it blockbuster debut, going by the packed 10am first day first show at INOX (Forum)' Heyy Babby is a whole lot of fun if you can discount the times Sajid goes emotional about it.

But isn’t it just a rip-off of Three Men and a Baby' Not really. It takes off on the same plot premise but goes on to explore areas unique to Bollywood. So you have the three men — Arush (Akshay), Al (Fardeen) and Tanmay (Riteish) — who sleep with anyone and everyone they can lay their hands on... until a baby lands up on their doorstep.

Bachelor lives go for a toss, jobs are lost and forget sleeping with girls, they can’t even catch a quick nap. The three men become the three stooges and unknowingly turn from bad to dad. “Hot dudes thhe, ab doodh hot karna parta hai.”

It’s here that Sajid turns the story on its head, introduces Isha (Vidya) and with her some ishq mohabbat pyaar ki baatein. This transition from an essentially Holly set-up — even the bachelor pad is set in Sydney — to a very Bharatiya prem kahani looks rusty. But just before you start to yawn it off, Sajid returns with a new bag of jokes and presses the refresh button. There’s more rona dhona towards the end but by then the dart’s hit bull’s eye and just like sister Farah (Main Hoon Na), Sajid’s scored a sureshot winner with his first try.

The man knows his Tarantino from his Truffaut but going by his debut Sajid would rather be a Subhash Ghai than a Shyam Benegal. The tributes (Chupke Chupke to Jhooth Bole Kauwa Kaate) are hilarious. The showstopper act is, of course, SRK playing Raj with Pop Anupam Kher looking for a dulhania because Sim-“ran” away.

But Sajid’s greatest victory is the kind of performances he draws from his three men. Akshay is fantastic and whenever you think he can’t get better, he comes up with an even better act. Fardeen is funny, especially when he becomes Parimal Tripathi wanting mutramukti! Riteish stays in tune all the while.

You can’t laugh enough at Boman Irani, the grandfather of the baby. It is Vidya, who becomes a tad repetitive and, yes, she desperately needs to shed a few kilos to look sexy in those chiffons.

Go watch Heyy Babyy… kal ki sochenge kal ko…

Pratim D. Gupta
(Did you love/hate Heyy Babyy' Tell

Just say ‘thank you’

The moral of Ratatouille is delivered by a critic: a gaunt, unsmiling fellow named Anton Ego who composes his acidic notices in a coffin-shaped room and speaks in the parched baritone of Peter ’Toole. “Not everyone can be a great artist,” Mr Ego muses. “But a great artist can come from anywhere.”

Quite so. Written and directed by Brad Bird and displaying the usual meticulousness associated with the Pixar brand, Ratatouille is a nearly flawless piece of popular art, as well as one of the most persuasive portraits of an artist ever committed to film. It provides the kind of deep, transporting pleasure, at once simple and sophisticated, that movies at their best have always promised.

Its sensibility, implicit in Mr Ego’s aphorism, is both exuberantly democratic and unabashedly elitist, defending good taste and aesthetic accomplishment not as snobbish entitlements but as universal ideals. Ratatouille celebrates the passionate, sometimes aggressive pursuit of excellence, an impulse it also exemplifies.

The hero (and perhaps Bird’s alter ego) is Remy (Patton Oswalt), a young rat who lives somewhere in the French countryside and conceives a passion for fine cooking. Raised by garbage-eaters, he is drawn toward a more exalted notion of food by the sensitivity of his own palate and by the example of Auguste Gusteau (Brad Garrett), a famous chef who insists that “anyone can cook.”

What Remy discovers is that anyone, including his uncultured brother, can be taught to appreciate intense and unusual flavours. Remy’s budding culinary vocation sets him on a lonely course, separating him from his clannish, philistine family and sending him off, like so many young men from the provinces before him, to seek his fortune in Paris. That city, from cobblestones to rooftops, is brilliantly imagined by the animators.

Since no Parisian restaurant will let a rat work in its kitchen, Remy strikes a deal with a hapless low-level worker named Linguini (Lou Romano), who executes Remy’s recipes by means of an ingenious (and hilarious) form of under-the-toque puppetry. Linguini’s second mentor is Colette (Janeane Garofalo), a tough sous-chef who unwittingly becomes the rodent’s rival for Linguini’s allegiance. Even minor figures — assistant cooks, waiters, a hapless health inspector — show remarkable individuality.

At stake in Ratatouille is not only Remy’s ambition but also the hallowed legacy of Gusteau, whose ghost occasionally floats before Remy’s eyes and whose restaurant is in decline. Remy — and Bird — take a stand in defence of an artisanal approach that values both tradition and individual talent: classic recipes renewed by bold, creative execution.

The movie’s grand climax, and the source of its title, is the preparation of a rustic dish made of common vegetables — a dish made with ardour and inspiration and placed, as it happens, before a critic.

And what, faced with such a ratatouille, is a critic supposed to say' Sometimes the best response is the simplest. Sometimes “thank you” is enough.

A.O. Scott
(New York Times Service)

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