Magnum Opus by Sujoy

Copyright 2007 | No part of the content or the blog may be reproduced without prior written permission. Mail me at :sujoy.singha[at]gmail[dot]com

Index of Movies

I have been reviewing movies for quite some time now. Here I have the index of all those which I have reviewed on this website.

Magnum Opus Index of Movie Reviews.

As you all know, I have moved to my new website

It also has movie reviews, and the Index page is given below.

OneKnightStands Movie Review Index.

Hope you enjoy reading them.


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One Knight Stands

Check out the new site for all my latest posts on Movies, Music, Pop Culture, Humor and much more.

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In everyway possible, Ishaan of Taare Zameen Par (TZP) miraculously brings the mirror in front of me and makes me look back with nostalgia at the fond memories and even at some of the childhood dilemmas that I faced, along with the utter peer pressure which we have always been subjected to, right from Day 1 of School.The untied shoe laces, the uncombed hair, the shirts with the buttons out, and the free spirit crying and trying to let free from the shackles of the “conformity” and social compatibility. But then, this is not a personal confession, but the movie review (but a bit personal in a way) of TZP.
What makes TZP work for me is the very personal message that it carries of how children are exploited by their own parents by measuring them on the criteria of percentages and treating them as marks churning bots. Creativity and Arts are hardly encouraged enough and children face the grind of preparing for the Rat Race. TZP weaves this extremely sensitive message, which could actually fall flat as a niche topic appealing only to a handful, with a beautiful story of Ishaan Awasthi, a child suffering from dyslexia but with the gift of imagination and grabbing it into his world of crayons and wet brushes. Needless to say, Papa Awasthi is not pleased by the failure of young Ishaan at academics, given that his elder brother is a school topper. TZP spans across the imaginative world of Ishaan and his continuous struggle with the straitjacket of conformity. Subsequently he emerges triumphant with the help of his Fine Arts teacher Ram Shankar Nikumbh( Aamir Khan), and it is this journey of triumph of the honest and innocent spirit of a child which keeps our eyes glued to the screen and moistened throughout.

The opening credits remind me of the numerous stop animation shorts that we have literally grown on, and yet in a very effective way, help us to explore the imaginative world of Ishaan. The Saturn hoola-hoops, the flight to Pluto and sea horses gallop, the flight of imagination has no bounds and to put them down to celluloid is a feat in itself.
Ishaan’s imaginative universe replete with bright hues and splashed shades stirs the soul and yet keeps it real without going overboard. As in, we do not get to see any Picasso or Da Vinci , but we get to see a child prodigy’s crayon works which look like a child’s. That’s how real it is. But then, TZP, being a commercial movie, has its elements of “Bollywood” in Aamir’s intro scene as the musical Patch Adams meets Pied Piper with a playback of Shaan on Bum Bum Bole. The kids are surprisingly too musically correct, which in my case isn’t too real. Because I know, my 5th standard class wasn’t at all, by any stretch of imagination. But then, complaining about that would be just plain nitpicking.

TZP’s real spirit comes alive with its music, and vice versa. Shankar Ehsaan Loy have given soul to the body of this celluloid piece and in my opinion, this is their best work since Dil Chahta Hai. With Vishal creating the aura of the very Rock “Duniya Ka Naaraa….Jamey Raho” we sense the mechanical nature of today’s materialistic world, where early morning routines of the typical working class and their children finds accurate definition. And as Shankar enters with a classical twist to it with “ Yahaa Alag Andaaz hai…” we see little Ishaan waking up in his own pace. Instant Reaction:-the 9 inch smile-
Ye Waqt Ke Kabhi Ghulam Nahi, Inhe Kisi Baat ka Dhyaan Nahi, Titlee se Milne Jaate Hai, Ye Pedho se Batiyate Hai
( He is not a slave to time, He doesn’t care about anything, He goes to meet the butterflies, He talks to the Trees). One of my favorite on the soundtrack is the imaginative Mera Jahaan with Adnan Sami and cute,childish yet perfectly pitched Auriel and Ananya who remind me of Connie Talbot singing Somewhere Over the Rainbow. The falsetto rendition of “All I need is to be …..Freeeee….” just gives me goose bumps everytime I listen to it. And then the very relaxed and dew fresh vocals of Adnan take over the acoustic guitars in the background as he murmurs” Sapno ka buna…Sweater..”. Young Ishaan explores the streets of Mumbai all alone and yet, the song sings “ Akela Nahi Main, Khuli Aankho se Neend main chalta, Girta zyada,Kam Sambhalta “( I am not alone, I am walking in my sleep with my eyes wide open, I fall often and I am very less careful).

The First ace of the soundtrack however is Maa. Shankar Mahadevan is aged 40 plus, yet he miraculously blends the sentiments of an 8 year old in his vocals, and surprisingly enough for me, I started believing that it’s Ishaan crying out “Main Kabhi Batlata Nahin
Par Andhere Se Darta Hoon Main Maa » ( I never say it, But oh mother,I am scared of the dark). Even the coldest heart would melt down and for me, it was time to change the handkerchief. The title track “ Taare Zameen Par” shows why Prasoon Joshi is taking home all the awards next year for Best Lyricist. Innocent thoughts unadulterated by the cunning thoughts of adulthood, is what can describe the sheer sincerity of the lyrics. Take this –
Jaise Aankhon Ki Dibiya Mein Nindiya
Aur Nindiya Mein Meetha Sa Sapna
Aur Sapne Mein Mil Jaaye Farishta Sa Koi

(Like Sleep in the Box of the eyes, And a Sweet Dream in the Sleep, And in that Sleep, finding an Angel).
And then we have Raman Mahadevan taking control of the offbeat guitar strokes with “Kholo Kholo”. This is where Indian Rock just made its presence stronger in Bollywood Music. I so much love it, and I can’t stop my air-drumming. Even Ishaan’s theme set to the Youtube-ish Home video footage of kid Ishaan made me tears trickle down. Okay, I admit that I am weepy. So what?

As far as the performances go, I believe Aamir Khan is winning the award for the Best Supporting Actor. Because Darsheel Safary as Ishaan Awasthi spells magic and gives life to this character to such an extent, that we do not for even a moment get to think that a piece of filmed material is being screened. All the pranks, all the frustration, the anger, the wicked smiles, the fears and the tears are all so real, and noticeably without the “extra sugar coated” boy image that Bollywood movies are populated with. Aamir Khan, the director, or Aamir Khan, the actor. BOTH. You really know how to tell your story and dude, you’ve just outdone yourself.Give him all the awards, all the honors, and Darsheel you deserve a trip to Disneyland for this. Now where’s my third handkerfchief?

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This is that Gangster Magnum Opus everyone’s talking about. And if you haven’t laid your eyes upon it, you better do it soon. All because there’s Denzel Washington playing heroine magnet, Frank Lucas and Russell Crowe as Detective Ritchie Roberts. And oh btw, Ridley Scott is pulling the strings. Need anymore reason? This goes straight to the Oscars nominations list and SHALL emerge triumphant. Having said that, I’d also like to add, that this is Mr. Scott’s earnest tribute to the crafty art of Gangster mafia movies which Hollywood completely digs. From the Coppola’s Corleones, to the Sopranos to Scorsese’s Goodfellas, “American Gangster” gives you that familiar taste of the gangster movie, but wait, it isn’t that simple. The taste is familiar but at the same time, so very IRRESISTABLY SEDUCTIVE and CRISPY. Some might just term it as Godfather with Black People. I can just pity those ignorant people and hope they get their conscience back.

For the uninitiated this is based on the 1970’s real-life account of kingpin Frank Lucas, who rose from the dark and dirty slums of North Carolina to undermine the cartels of New Jersey with a freakishly innovative way of trading heroine which he discovers while he was watching a news story about the high strength heroin laying out American servicemen in war-zone Vietnam. Lucas flies directly to Bangkok to make a direct deal with the drug makers, thus cutting out every possible middleman in the mafia clan and even guaranteeing a monopoly in the purest product –Blue Magic.

Meanwhile, troubled by a failed marriage and his honesty coming across as a career obstacle in a corrupt world, Detv.Ritchie Roberts emerges as the nemesis of Frank Lucas who is investigating on the emergence of a new market leader , BLUE MAGIC, and is amazed how someone can sell a product almost twice as pure as its nearest competitor at half the price. It takes a long time for the two to face each other, but as the scenes unfold, we experience an inexplicable symmetry between the two and their working minds. Both have absolute dissimilarities, but also have a clear idea of having things done their way.

The settings and the entire dark alley backdrop of 1970s New York just makes me spellbound and I couldn’t have asked for more. Of course, that is what you can expect from Ridley Scott, an ace ad-director of the 1970s era. Many would expect the NY backdrop demands the skyline shot and the skyscrapers. But this is a movie where the action is on the streets, where there are small coffee shops with green windows and clean glass panes. The winter is freezy , and so is the cold death shots that Lucas shoots on the streets. Of course, the immediate comparison with Godfather is inevitable, as Lucas moves his family from North Carolina to New Jersey, to help him run the business. The deaths are as cold blooded as you could expect, and there’s enough of unexpected and unwanted nudity onscreen surrounded with white powder and blue pouches. And for those who complain, there’s not enough Bam-Bam here for a gangster movie, wait till the climax mammoth confrontation.

The typical gangster movie would feature boring dialogues in perfect Italian accent and long silent stares with gleaming eyes. Of course, this is not the case here. The star power of Denzel Washington takes control of the screen as though he reigned it with only his smile and the simple uttering of the words “Mah Man”. It’s been a while now since Al Pacino’s “Scarface” happened. Russell Crowe on the other hand, is the rugged cop, who doesn’t have the power stare working. But yes, even his silliest jokes and nervous appearance makes you wonder, if he is the guy who played Maximus. It’s pure onscreen fire when you see these two collide, face to face. The powerhouse performance by the duo is just so convincing enough to make this a cracking of a movie, but at the end of the day, with no disrespect to the white Oscar Winner, this is Washington’s , through and through. Not only because it is called “American Gangster”, not American Cop, but because he can say “Blue Magic is a brand, like PEPSI” and he makes me believe so.
Not to be missed by people who love good cinema. Now stand up and APPLAUD. Spare me the ratings.

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O Re Paakhi…O Re Paakhi resonates in my ears and as I sit down to write the review of Sudhir Mishra’s Khoya Khoya Chand, all that flashes into my eyes is the wet paint of the film sets, the halogen flood lights, the larger than life posters, and the filled theatre screenings of 1950’s -1960’s Bollywood, build perfectly to the last inch. Khoya Khoya Chand is sincere, honest and almost perfect in technique but unfortunately what starts off as story telling ends up being a history lesson. It is so much like a long lecture which started as being interesting and colorful, until the colors became repetitive and started blinding my eye. Of course, I’d stand up and applaud the technicians of the movie again and again throughout this review for making it almost feel like being seated in a Time Machine and getting deported to an era of the pot-bellied Producer getting bullied by the Superstars, the sleazy divas, the “favourable” Superstar, the struggling writer, the non-compliant industry-outsider director, the run of the mill dialogues and screenplay and the mom accompanied struggling wannabe. All of this and much more is taken care of perfectly and this is no small feat. What OSO (the other tribute to Bollywood movie, yeah the more commercial one) tried to attempt, Khoya Khoya Chand has achieved all of that and much more and it effortlessly makes us believe in Sudhir Mishra’s vision of the Black and White era of Indian Cinema.

Having said that definitely doesn’t necessarily mean that Khoya Khoya Chand is a gem of a film. Though it is accompanied by really strong performances by the main cast as well the supporting members, it fails on many accounts. The story narrates the story of a struggling actress, Nikhat (Soha Ali), who is awestruck by the glam and glitz of cinema. She willingly submits to the reigning superstar Prem Kumar (Rajet Kapoor) in return of her favours. Soon enough , she starts climbing up the ladders of success, until she realizes that she has been used when Prem announces his marriage. Nikhat finds solace in the arms of the aspiring writer, Zaffar(Shiney Ahuja). Zaffar reminds me of the villain of the same name in Disney’s Aladdin, yeah but he did not have any relationship issues, neither did he have any ego clashes. This Zaffar had all of them, including a troubled childhood resulting from a polygamist father and 3 stepmoms. The relationship between Zaffar and Nikhat goes through enough trying times, strenuous enough to make your head ache and force you to scream out “Stop you lady, and you, yes You Mr. Shut Up and listen to her for a sec”.The relationship itself is so confusing at times, and Nikhat as a person just leaves me gasping for more explanation. But then, Zaffar’s comeback and Nikhat’s sudden appreciation of him makes us feel that yeah, probably, the director has finally realized, “Okay , that’s enough indulgence for one film, its now time for a good climax “.
That’s when the climax song Thirak Thirak features in and the entire set, including the producer and the strict manager crack up, over a silly Ghungroo joke. WTF, I smiled out for no reason.

Shantanu Moitra scores an ace yet again with the soundtrack, and lemme tell you honesty, there are no mediocre tracks here. Just one ace after an ace, of course the Ace of Spades is O Re Paakhi by Sonu Nigam. Given the era of cinema depicted here, the soundtrack has an amazing jazz and blues element in it. Take for instance, the first track Ye Nigahein or the cabaret Khusboo Sa . Both are so very blues, so very intoxicating and both depict the smokes and mirrors of cinema effectively. The title track Khoya Khoya Chand features lyricist Swanand Kirkire rhyming lines to the backdrop of a 60’s rock n roll bass-line which ultimately finds climax in a beautiful qawwali. Shreya Ghosal is the next Alka Yagnik to say the least. I don’t need to say more, just close your eyes to Chale Aao and you’ll know what I’m talking about.

Talking about the performances, I’ll begin with Saurav Shukla who actually ends up being the most memorable character in the entire movie. Perfect Punjabi flavored producer with the best of the lines. Sushmita Chatterjee appears in just a couple of scenes but makes her presence felt. Vinay Pathak as the narrator, and the strict manager of Nikhat is a complete waste of his potential. He could have done so much more, but has ended being just a sidekick in this movie, almost reminds me of his Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam days. Rajet Kapoor commands the screen with his “haraami” portrayal of superstar Prem Kumar. Sonya Jehan as the yesteryears’ diva is one of the highest points of the movie. She effortlessly makes you remind of Meena Kumari ,Madhubala, and Nadira. Shiney Ahuja must have taken his urdu lessons way too seriously and it starts to irritate a bit when it gets overboard. But it helps coz he is supposed to be from Lucknow. Nevertheless, he certainly delivers a wonderful performance as the grief stricken Zaffar searching for his eternal and internal peace. There is so much credibility in his tears and his anguish , how could Nikhat resist that? This is by far Soha Ali’s best performance as Nikhat, the ACTRESS which takes us down memory lane through the pages of Filmfare 1960’s . The pages flashing stories of the actress’ rise, romance, gossips, fall from glory and eventually finding retreat in alcohol. Soha plays the character with intense credibility, thanks to the costumes, the make up and hair stylist to have made it possible. Worth mentioning is the scene when she enters the bedroom of Zaffar while he is sleeping. She is so much like Sharmila Tagore . But yes, the best performance is by the cinematographer Sachin Krishnan who blends the perfect hues with the best of settings. Absolutely impeccable. Only if Mr.Sudhir Mishra could have woken from his indulgence a bit early in the second half, Khoya Khoya Chand could have resulted in being a memorable piece of cinema, which it has failed to be.
2 on 5. Top notch music though. I am still humming O Re Paakhi.

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Aaja Nachle

This is not one of those posts which should be considered to be written by yet another fanboy. Rather this is a devotee writing about his Goddess. Madhuri or Madz as she would like her to be called (I guess), mother of two, aged 40, but still sizzles in her truest form. And I do not care if all those critics fail to recognize it. Probably they should get their lenses checked, or perhaps change their retinas. But that is one thing and we are here to talk about Aaja Nachle,the movie by ace cinematographer Anil Mehta. We have seen Mr. Mehta’s works as a cinematographer in many Yashraj flicks and he has captured some of the most breathtaking scenes on the Indian 70 mm. Be it the utterly urban Manhattan of Kal Ho Na Ho, or the rustic rural Bhuj as Lagaan’s Champaner, or the picturesque Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, Mr. Mehta’s artwork needs no introduction. Having said that, Aaja Nach Le ,is also spell bounding as far as the visuals are considered. But here lies the problem. It is too unreal. Of course, what else can we expect from a story by Aditya Chopra which just too fits the Yashraj run-of-the-mill mould.So you say, that well, movies are meant to be unreal, portraying a make-believe world so to say. But then, why did it take off on the real note?The problem is that we have to assume so many things that you lose count. I started doing it just for Madhuri(but of course), but I ended up getting tired. So I said to myself, well, screw it, let’s just enjoy this as a mindless dance joyride, and I started to enjoy it more after that.

For all those curious ones, the story is about a rebellious Dancer (shockingly!) called Diya who leaves her hometown Shamli when she is forced to get married and flies off to NY and becomes an established choreographer. She returns back hearing of her Dance master’s illness and discovers that the stage where her dance was nurtured faces a demolition notice. Enter the MP(Akshaye Khanna) who challenges her that if she wants to prevent the demolition, she better put up a show with the entire cast from Shamli itself. Hence, the search begins for the characters and they all fit the part to the T. The cast of course has to be as mad and varied as it could be which reminds me of yet another “cast”ing movie which told a story of “Once Upon a Time in India”( It’s Lagaan you fools. Kuch nahi ho sakta tum morons ka). The audition scene just looks like a rip off from the RDB audition scene and well, I loved the original. Here, it is pretty much forgettable. Where’s Prasoon Joshi? The ensemble jigsaw starts to take shape with the entry of some colorful characters like Ranbir Shourie, Vinay Pathak, Konkona Sen, Sushmita Chatterjee( of Karamchand fame) and of course the unputdownable Raghubir Yadav. But yet again, another assumption strikes me .The title track( yeah, the one in the news for the wrong reasons) features blue chandeliers ( Mr. Mehta has a thing for them, including breaking them in ultra slo-mo), and blue screens and absolutely gorgeous sets put up in a course of a day. Am I questioning the power of Bollywood?

Moving on, of course the entire ensemble goes through a lot of other worries, as in fitting the chemistry between the lead pair, the dance training, the corrupt MP( Akhilendra Mishra, better known as Krur Singh ‘Yakku’ from Chandrakanta), the greedy businessman (Irrfan Khan) and the challenging MP who loves Pizzas apparently.But somehow, Madz manages to swoop in and put up a brilliant show, even when Laila’s Abba is picked up just minutes before the final show ( not even the final rehearsal and all). And OMFG, the final show is so perfectly lyrical, the music is top-notch, no one forgot their lines, everyone danced in sync( hey, where did these toned bodies with the 6 packs come from? ) and my oh my, the choreography and the lights blend and flow like the satin that hangs from Laila’s window. Who handled all of that? But of course, Madhuri, I mean Diya. She must have grown so much as a choreographer. If you can do with all of the above assumptions, (I did, partially) you’ll end up grooving to Aaja Nachle. And I think everyone in my auditorium resonated with that groove.

Talking about the soundtrack, the movie begins with Dance with Me, which instantly took me to Dil to Pagal Hai and the familiar Shiamak Davar danceroom. Only that,its Vaibhavi Merchant here who’s giving the cues. The intro song just makes the point that Madhuri cannot just only dance, but dance far better than anyone out there. A straight challenge. A few minutes later, she is dancing Kathak with her Ghungroos on to Rahat Fateh Ali Khan’s O Re Piya. This song is my favorite and well, I loved the Ghungroo sounds added to it (which is absent in the OST). The tile track Aaja Nach Le is just a forgettable number which you’d be repeatedly hearing on radios and Puja Pandals this year, because of the utterly predictable Bollywood spiced up sound in it. Nothing remarkable,except for the yummy choreography and Madhuri dancing to it.BTW, the so called “controversial” lyrics reported goes something like:-

Mohale mein kaise mara mar hai,
Bole mochi bhi khud ko sonar hai

( There is so much chaos in the society, Even the Cobbler calls himslef a Goldsmith). I really don’t get what is the fuss about. Moving on,the cast audition song Show me Your Jalwa is a typical Nautanki flavored song with the voices of Madhuri herself doing the narration and Richa Sharma and Kailash Kher displaying the power of their lungs with the powerful rendition of “Zamane ko Bida Kar De..” .Soniye Mil Jaa shows you Vinay Pathak can dance as well and he is hilarious and as usual Sukhwinder Singh does the job perfectly. The Laila Majnu sequence song “Koi Patthar se naa Mare” is just an add to the soundtrack because the musical needs it, but doesn’t add to the quality. Is Pal and Ishq Hua are both duets by Sonu Nigam and Shreya Ghosal which can be effectively recycled across any Yashraj flick. Not meaning that the songs were any bad, but well, weren’t integral or great either, and somehow I can’t remember which one was which.

The performances from the ensemble characters could have been much better, but it is too much to expect, is it? Konkona Sen is an actor of a different league and she didn’t do justice to her caliber. Kunal Kapoor looks and plays the stud he is, but well, that’s it. The love chemistry between the play’s lead pair, just didn’t work for me. Vinay Pathak as usual, brings the 9 inch smile whenever he gets the screentime, and Ranbir Shourie as Mohan,CEO of Mohan Hotel is perfect as the real Majnu/Devdas. Akshaye Khanna’s role is just limited to a few conversations but somehow he manages to pull it off. Divya Dutta and Irrfan Khan have again put up roles shorter than what deserves their potential, and still managed to shine. Raghuvir Yadav, love his unchoreographed dance and unscripted acting. But of course the movie belongs to Madhuri.

Madhuri sizzles and takes control of the entire movie and it wouldn’t be wrong to say that everybody else was just a member of a supporting cast. She can shake that leg far better than any actress we have today (I know I’m repeating myself over and over again), she can act better than any actress today, and well, she looks as pretty as ever. True that the role has been written keeping her in mind. Beat this! An uncle, probably in his 60s, says while he walks out of the theatre “15 saal pehle Dhak Dhak ki Dhadkan abhi tak nahi gayee” (I saw her Dhak Dhak 15 years ago, and I still feel the pulse).

While I’d give this movie 2 stars out of 5, add another one coz a Star is already there. Madhuri did "Show her Jalwa".

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Yippeeeee!!!! So after the Flogger Award, I just won the Blog of the Day Award. Feels jubilant. But I think I should get back to my senses. So, here's the code to be pasted.

Blog Awards Winner

Lovely. This weekend it's gonna be Aaja Nach Le. Expect a longer post than my OSO review. Peace. Thanks for the love!!!

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Apparently I've won the Flogger Award(some award for blogs...doesn't matter as long as its an award) courtesy So the badge is here.

Flogger Awards for the Best Bloggers by

And well, Congratulations to me, and thanks to Mum and Dad,SPC,all my dear friends, and of course to all the readers of Magnum Opus who have survived through the tension of my words here. Get ready for some more. This award has already given an effect of 300mg of Steroids. Shall be right back with some good reviews.

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This is a protest image protesting the recent barbaric violence at Nandigram in West Bengal,India. The brutality caused innocent lives and homeless people. To quote Wordsworth:
Have I not reason to lament
What man has made of man?

Please join the Blog Protest campaign and let the world know. For more on it read this and this.
Spread the WORD!As a blogger, that's the least you can do.

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