Watched a movie on the first day of release after a long time. Couldn’t help myself but review it for the two people who visit this page.
First things first. It is Dhirubhai’s life story. A bit changed here and there but it involves a village born uneducated youth, his foreign trip, his polyester mills, opposition by a parsi business family to his business, a paralysis attack and his wife and two children behind him at the shareholder meets (a la warrior brothers in 80s). It also shows the corruption endorsed by the man to get his way around in the license raj. However, adequate sugar coating is applied in the end to appease all parties.
About the movie and direction – Movie is very gripping in parts but songs often obstruct the flow. On hearing the album, it seemed that the movie had just a handful of songs (the music company gave a free disc to make up for the lack of songs) but these were enough to ruin the movie. The songs are thrown in abruptly and irritate the viewers. Even the actors in these songs are listless and look like they were forced to perform. How many times have you seen an actress stand in front of a waterfall on the top of a big rock and dance? Even the masti of Bhapi da’s bhang number is lost on screen. More about this later. Except the placement of songs and missing a few details (rear defogger in a 80s car!!), Mani sir does fine. However at times it looks like that some parts of the movie have been chopped off to fit the movie in the three-hour show time.
Rajeev Menon disappoints. To me, he is the king cinematographer. He can make barren landscapes look beautiful. In this movie he had a lot of scope. He had Turkey, a beautiful village, Bombay in 80’s to show, but he disappoints. All he does is move the camera up and down. There is a scene where camera moves up in the frame and for a fraction of a second you can see the sun in the camera. The steam of the engine wets the lens once. The biggest letdown to me was the village temple. It was in a cave of a mountain with a lake on the side. A lot of shots were in front of the cave overlooking the lake but never once Menon could capture the beauty of both the cave and lake in one frame. Perhaps this was the place where he needed a higher angle!
The actors – Mani tries to capture the Roja magic with Aishwarya Rai. Same locale, similar character and with the similar song for the entry - the village lass singing at the village waterfall. She fails when compared to Madhu. Aish gives the feeling that she is being made to do this against her wishes. She tries to show emotions but nothing comes out. Although she improves as the movie goes on.
It could have been Abhishek Bachchan’s movie. He is there in every frame of the movie. In the first half he is fantastic. All the scenes come naturally to him. Just before the second half starts, it seems that the ghost of Vijay Dinanath Chouhan came and bit his brains off. From that point onwards, small B copies the big B shamelessly. The droopy lips are formed, the hand is rested on the side of the waist and every dialogue has a ‘haih’ in it. Not that he has done it badly. He has done a fine job copying his dad but misses out on the scope to do something original and perhaps something big.
He has gained a lot of weight to portray the middle age businessman and he makes sure that the viewers get to know that the weight has been gained and it is not the padding by going topless and showing off his paunch. So much for showoff. No subtleties involved.
Mithun da shines. He has a significant role and he portrays it magnificently. Shows us glimpses of the actor that he once was. He easily outshines all other actors in the film.
Vidya Balan has been wasted. She plays the insignificant character that has been created just to tie all the main characters together. She is adequate in whatever she has been made to do. Madhavan has a small role and most of his screen space is shared with Mithun. I was so overawed by Mithun that I hardly noticed Madhavan in those scenes. The rest of the support cast is good, especially Manoj Joshi as the faithful friend. He has been growing as an actor since Sarfarosh and hopefully will get more significant roles soon. Just a word about the child actor that plays Abhishek Bachchan. He looks nothing like what small B would have looked when he was a child and moreover that boy lacks the energy that Abhishek brings on the screen. A very very poor choice. Bring over Mayur’s son J.
The music is good. Rehman does the usual and impresses again. Maybe Gulzar can get a little less aka Galib and make the lyrics more coherent. For a moment I thought that PK Mishra is back.
Overall, a larger than life story, well told. Mani Ratnam is known for making good films and this one was meant to be a movie that inspires the viewers, and at some level, it does. Definitely a once watch. The movie would be known for Abhishek Bachchan’s missed opportunity and Mithun da’s comeback.
Actually, come to think of it, although I agree with most of what you said, I think I actually liked the Vidya Balan angle(not that he used her for a miniscule role, but how he used the relationship).
I think I'll have to make a long ass post about it, but what the hell, eh?