Film: OK Jaanu, Cast: Aditya Roy Kapur, Shraddha Kapoor, Naseeruddin Shah, Directed by: Shaad Ali, Duration: 2 hrs 17 mins, Rating: * *
If there was an award for the most faithful remake of the year, Shaad Ali’s OK Jaanu would have won it hands down. Inspired by Mani Ratnam’s OK Kanmani, this is a frame by frame rehash of auteur’s last film, which is not among his best to start with. Interestingly, Shaad Ali made his debut with Saathiya which was remake of Ratnam’s Alaipayuthey – the debutant managed to pull it off then but this time, it is an uphill task.
The subject of a young couple suffering from commitment phobia is also not exactly refreshing at this point – Ratnam had still managed to pull it off to some extent, thanks to the charming chemistry between Dulquer Salman and Nithya Menon and plus Bombay had never looked so romantic, since the movies of yore.
The setting is Mumbai again where we meet Adi (Aditya Roy Kapur) who is a video game developer and going by the reaction of his boss, he has extraordinary talent. Then there is Tara (Shraddha Kapoor) an architect with great aspirations – she might move to Paris while he might head to America to pursue their respective careers.
A quirk of fate brings them together and knowing that they will part ways sooner rather than later, they try to make the best of it, including moving into the same house owned by the elderly couple – a retired judge (Nasseruddin Shah) and his singer wife (Leela Samson, playing the same role as the original film) who is suffering from Alzheimer’s.
The issue here is that Shaad Ali brings very little to the table in terms of any improvisation. If you have seen the original, there are absolutely no surprises whatsoever here. Those who haven’t, it may be a reasonably okayish ride.
The Humma Humma remix could have easily been done away with because it looks forced in the scheme of things but otherwise, A R Rahman’s background and music score adds a certain zing.
While Aditya and Shraddha are sincere, their chemistry doesn’t really go places, much like the film itself.
Film: Haraamkhor, Cast: Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Shweta Tripathi, Irrfan Khan, Directed by: Shlok Sharma, Duration: 1 hr 30 mins, Rating: * * *
Haraamkhor is an unusual film in more ways than one – the subject is taboo, the story is off beat and at barely 90 minutes, it is crisp and to the point backed by an extraordinary performance from Nawazuddin Siddique.
It has its share of flaws but it manages to keep you interested in equal measures with both, the character and their actions.
Set in a village in rural India, Shyam (Nawazuddin) is a Math teacher who more often than not, does as he pleases. He gives tuitions to teenage boys and girls and his wife keeps a close eye with whom he interacts. Sandhya (Shweta Tripathi of Masaan fame), a young girl who lives with her mostly drunk father, who is a cop, develops a crush on the teacher. Not one to let go of this opportunity, Shyam leads her on to trysts, with windmills in the background, and escapades, till it gets too close for comfort.
The other two protagonists who play an important role are two little boys – one of them Kamal (Irrfan Khan) although much younger, has truly madly and deeply fallen for Sandhya. He is abetted by his buddy Mintu (Mohammad Samad) in scheming how to make her fall for him.
The characters and the world that they live in gives Haraamkhor an edge in making it look convincing. Shot without any frills it is also an interesting insight into the victim’s as well as the culprit’s mind – at the end of the day, it is all in the head.
The background score by Karan Gour is amongst the best heard in Hindi cinema in a while – more often than not it is overused in films but this one has it in the right measure and the climax looks far more effective thanks to the score.
The performances are from the top draw – the kids Irrfan Khan and Mohammed Samad are spot on and Shweta Tripathi as the vulnerable girl is convincing. But the film belongs to Nawazuddin Siddique who plays his character with élan. Whether it is trying to lure the girl or convincing his wife, his performance deserves kudos. For his acting, Haraamkhor is eminently worth a dekko.
Film: Live By Night, Cast: Ben Affleck, Zoe Saldanha, Elle Fanning, Directed by: Ben Affleck, Duration: 2 hrs 8 mins, Rating: * * *
Live By Night is Ben Affleck’s fourth feature as a director after three impressive outings in Gone Baby Gone (2007), The Town (2010) and Oscar winning Argo (2012). Given his track record, one does look forward to see how his career will pan out as a director. Comparisons with previous films are a bit unfair but to put it in perspective, Live By Night is not his best effort, yet it is better than most Hollywood releases.
Based on a novel by Dennis Lehane, Live By Night is set during an era when hat and coat wearing gangsters were in vogue in America, soon after World War I. Having been a part of the war, Joe Coughlin (Affleck), the son of an Irish immigrant, finds himself as a part of the mob even though he doesn’t like to think of himself as a gangster. His father incidentally is a policeman who is torn between duty and love for his son.
Joe finds himself not just on the wrong side of the law but is also hunted down by a mobster for having an affair with his moll. After serving a sentence in prison, he joins hands with the Italian mafia by selling booze in Florida but the Klu Kux Klan comes in the way of expanding his operations.
Live By Night is pretty much a standard gangster movie, yet the manner in which the story unfolds is intriguing. Joe for instance is capable of pulling the trigger in cold blood and can play the good guy, not at the same time though. He has a change of heart when he encounters a reformed preacher (Elle Fanning) who inadvertently scuttles his plans.
The film does look a bit stretched in the final lap when it takes its own sweet time to wrap it up but otherwise, there is very little room to complain. There may not be a great deal of depth to the film, but it is a worthwhile effort all the same.
Film: XXX: The Return of Xander Cage, Cast: Vin Diesel, Donnie Yen, Deepika Padukone, Directed by : D.J Caruso, Duration: 1 hr 42 mins, Rating: * *
Likable as he is, like most Vin Diesel films, XXX: The Return of Xander Cage is also one of those that don’t leave any lasting impression. In fact, it barely makes an impression while watching it. Saving the world from the bad guys is a theme that has been done to death and it becomes a drag when it is done superficially.
Diesel returns as Xander Cage, the agent who was presumed dead (he didn’t make an appearance in XXX: State of the Union) and springs to life after his mentor Augustus Gibbons (Samuel L Jackson) is killed after a satellite comes crashing down. Forget other weapons, crash landing satellites seems to be the new arsenal in the hands of the bad guys. Toni Collette plays Cage’s boss who tracks him down in order to track down the villains. Surely, if she could hunt a smart bloke like him, she could have invested some time in finding the villains but that is beside the point.
Deepika plays Serena who is a double agent of sorts and among all the flings the Xander Cage has, this is the prime one in the film. He assembles a team of experts to achieve his mission and it doesn’t take a genius to figure out the rest of the story.
XXX: The Return of Xander Cage moves in autopilot mode right from the word go and the only surprise here is a cameo by Neymar Jr. Apart from that, this is a return of mediocrity.