Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Entertainment in Times of Strike

The battle between the producers and the multiplexes might mean that no films will be hitting the marquee any time soon, but certainly there are a couple of DVDs you could (and should) enjoy from the comforts of your home...hence I am going to do this in more of a 'round-up' format rather than the detailed review to either persuade or dissuade your trip to the local cinema.

The President is Coming

What: One of the earlier and largely overlooked releases of 2009, this hilarious film (adapted from a play of the same name) chronicles a contest in which one 'young Indian' will be chosen to shake hands with President Bush during his 2006 visit to India. Get ready for a lighthearted running commentary on topics ranging from feminism to homosexuality and regionalism to globalization.

Who: Konkona Sen Sharma leads the way as a pretentious novelist whose lyrics poke fun at the likes of Arundhati Roy and Jhumpa Lahiri; acclaimed character artist Lilette Dubey's daughter - Ira Dubey - makes a welcome entry as an Indian version of Paris Hilton. Vivek Gomber (Rohit), Namit Das (Ramesh), Satchit Puranik (Ajay)...everyone deserves a mention, really. Hats off to debutante director Kunaal Roy Kapur for bringing together a quirky ensemble cast that is more than up to the challenge.

Warning: Certainly not a family film by any means...if you are embarrassed easily, watch it with your friends or on your own.

Verdict? The mention of George W. Bush has never spelled this much fun.


Billu Barber

What: It's the stuff child bedtime stories from your nani/dadi were made of: a small town with simpleton people interrupted by the grandeur of a popular but humble king. Albeit here it refers to a barber (Irrfan Khan) and his unbelievable friendship with superstar Sahir Khan (Shahrukh Khan playing a variation of his real-life persona). It's actually made more so with the kids in mind, but adults will find a nice message and perhaps enjoy what is at the film's sweet core.
Who: Irrfan seldom gets it wrong, and here he is able to be his unsuspectingly good self. Lara Dutta is a pleasant surprise in an ordinary role as his wife. And yes, there is Shahrukh who struts in every now and then to perhaps be a little kinder to everyone than he is in real life. But he certainly does a nice job in the climax by keeping his monologue on the restrained side (see what happens when buddy KJ isn't at the helm?).
Warning: Don't be fooled by Shahrukh's item numbers with various members of the industry's elite. Those are about the only aspects of 'commercial' cinema to be found, but rather the film is essentially about an extremely simple tale of friendship. It moves at quite a sluggish pace, so you must have patience.
Verdict? Shahrukh the producer is even smarter than Shahrukh the actor - the film does not promise great heights and therefore doesn't necessarily deliver them. Instead it is what it is: a sweet and simple film laden with a downright absurdly catchy soundtrack and welcome item number insertions featuring Gen X Deepika Padukone, Priyanka Chopra and Kareena Kapoor; ah yes, and with a proper moral of the story to boot.

1 comment:

Mannie said...

Haha, I had never heard of The President Is Coming! It sounds interesting, will definitely merit a rental...

But Billu, really? The film has no substance and has a useless plot! I feel like the writer had started with the general concept of the story, but never went anywhere with it... he just wrote an entire 2.5 hour movie script without going any further than his original idea. The story also made no sense! Billu is friends with SRK and spends the entire movie figuring out it SRK still remembers him? And the entire town praises him because he says he knows SRK? It's just such an absurd premise for a story, and I was so bored... although the songs were extremely entertaining.