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Sunday, April 24, 2016

Movie Review : Fan

Title : Fan
Language : Hindi
Year : 2016
Director : Maneesh Sharma
Genre : Drama, Thriller
Watch trailer on Youtube
Lead Role : Shah Rukh Khan

The year 2013. “World’s biggest movie star” Shahrukh Khan joined hands with hit-maker director Rohit Shetty and lady superstar DeepikaPadukone to bring on screen a film by the name of Chennai Express. As the name suggests, the major portion of the story was set in the south, especially in Tamil Nadu. Mindless humor, illogical action and horrendous typecasting were generously thrown in. The critics slammed the movie and its makers. Yet, the aam-aadmi lapped it up, and Chennai Express turned out to be the biggest grossing film of the year. The pattern continued in 2014 with forgettable Happy New Year and in 2015 with the disastrous Dilwale. King Khan scooped so low that he won the infamous Kela Awards, something presented to the worst performer of the year. People started to write him off as a serious actor.

Fast forward to April 15, 2016. Like the tagline of Fan says, it all began with a connection. Shahrukh’s transformation from an ambitious Delhi youth to being the Baadshah of Bollywood was through intense portrayal of varying emotions in movies like Darr, Baazigar, Devdas, Kuch KuchHota Hein, Swadesh, Veer Zara, Chak De, Don and My Name is Khan to name a few. That connection between the actor and scripts with a soul was never lost. That could be the reason why the actor decided to stretch himself for the dual and contrasting roles of Aryan Khanna and Gaurav Chanda when Maneesh Sharma offered  Fan to him.

SRK deserves praise for doing Fan for multiple reasons. For starters, you would not see any of his usual mannerisms or style in the role of the obsessive and ardent fan, Gaurav. Khan has pushed himself very well and has wowed the spectators with an impressive performance. Secondly, it is not a cakewalk for a fifty year old to essay the role of a teenager in a convincing manner. Prosthetic makeup, and ample use of technology including motion capture have been efficiently put into use. Then the point of consideration is that unlike any of his recent movies, Fan is not a purely commercial venture, with unnecessary masala not added to spice up things. People say an elegant heroine and romantic songs are the USP of Khan’s films. You would see neither in Fan.

So, is Fan a perfect product? A classic? Unfortunately, not so. The storyline is loosely what comes to a person’s mind as they watch the trailer of the movie. An obsessive fan of a reigning superstar and how certain circumstances, places them at loggerheads. While the pre interval portion of the movie is engaging and has depth, the storyline reduces to that of an ordinary thriller in the second half. That does not make Fan a bad movie, never. It is just that the plot could have been better executed.

The sad fact is that while a Chennai Express sets the box office ringing, an experimental attempt like Fan does not find much takers. This is not a very positive sign for the movie industry, as quality of the content would decline if money flows only in the masala path. We need to stop for a bit and analyze who is at fault – is it the audience who are ready to spend bucks for colorful entertainers but are hesitant in the case of realistic movies, or does the fault lies with the filmmakers themselves, as it were they who spoon-fed the idea that exaggerated, happy ending movies are entertainment, and realistic movies are for intellectuals? Think, and more importantly, act.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Arsha Bharatha Avengers

Indians, countrymen! Lend me your attention. For I am here to show you how Marvel Comics have exploited our vast mythology to come up with their league of superheroes, known as The Avengers.

As you may be aware, The Avengers consists of Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Incredible Hulk, Hawk Eye, Black Widow and Ant Man. What you may not have realized the characterization of each of these superheroes was influenced by our own folklore. 

drink up me hearties yo ho

I assume you to be pretty skeptical at this point. So let us introspect each of them closely (and hopefully wipe that smirk off your face).

Captain America: A veteran soldier who participated in the World War II, and then entered a state of seemingly endless sleep that lasted seven decades. He was recalled by S.H.I.E.L.D when they needed his services for another possibly catastrophic war.

Those who have read The Ramayana would be familiar with the character of Kumbhakarna, the younger brother of demon king Ravana who was awaken from his six month slumber by the Lanka troops to get him ready for the final battle with Lord Ram.

Iron Man: The billionaire philanthropist Tony Stark gets a tad unlucky when he is kidnapped. To escape captivity, he designs a powered suit of armor. When suited up, defeating Iron Man is a herculean task.

If we list out the unlucky characters from The Mahabharata, my bet is on Karna to top the list. He is a master in archery, and is literally indestructible when he wears his armor and earrings gifted by his godfather, The Sun.

Thor and Loki: Marvel themselves have confessed that these two characters have been taken from the Norse mythology. Yet if we are to consider the fact that these two half brothers fight each other, arguing who among them is the true king, one cannot be blamed if he/she is to relate Thor and Loki to Yudhishtira and Dhuryodhana.

Incredible Hulk: Here, the Marvel guys have done a smarter work, as Hulk is a culmination of 2 different avatars from our legends. The brute physical strength of Hulk is an obvious inspiration from Bheema.

But one must not forget that Dr. Banner turns into the all destructive Hulk when he unleashes the rage within. Lord Shiv is also popular for his third eye, which when opened in seething rage lets out an all consuming flame.

Hawk Eye: Hawk is a bird known for its excellent eyesight and ability to locate preys from huge distances. Hawkeye is a master in archery. Needless to say, this "hero" is the Marvel version of Pandava prince Arjuna, who is well known for his skills with the bow and arrow.

Black Widow: I must admit, here the play by Marvel is so subtle that one begins to wonder she is original after all. But on deeper prodding, we can find some similarities with Droupadi. 

Droupadi was also known as Krishna, due to her dark complexion. Krishna means black in Sanskrit. See? Also, Mahabharata suggests that among the Pandavas, Droupadi had a soft corner towards Arjuna. The Avengers too seem to follow this, by showing a special bond between Black Widow and Hawkeye.

Ant Man: The latest addition to the team has the super-power of being able to shrink down to the size of an ant, and grow up to gigantic proportions.

Lord Hanuman is also said to have the exact same powers in both The Ramayana as well as The Mahabharata.

That's it. I rest my case.