One long weekend and two movies…both highly anticipated albeit by different groups of people…well mostly! Because there are some people, like yours truly for whom cinema is like oxygen irrespective of the language and genre!
So Friday night was reserved for Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End. I was slightly apprehensive of subjecting myself to the latest 2 hour 50 minutes long pirate extravaganza, especially when I totally hated the last installment which was too soggy for my comfort. Well, I’m happy to report that Gore Verbinski has once again redeemed himself in my esteem. Here’s the low-down. Lord Cutler Beckett has control of Davy Jones' heart, (which sounds sort of gay when you're just reading about it, but it's not — the heart's in a box). And because he's got the heart, that means he's going to rule the seas. All the pirates and their friends call on all the other pirates around the world to battle it out against the dark forces of uncool un-pirate-ness. And they do this by sailing off the literal edge of the world's map. I think. I just said, "I think," because it's very long, with a hundred characters and lots of plot, and most of the pirates, while speaking, actually sound exactly like "Arrrrrrrhh!!" so you're sort of just waiting for action to speak more clearly than words — truth be told. Eventually it does - in a way that's been designed to deliver maximum sensory blast. It's loud, the effects are cool, the action explosive, the décor opulent and there are surreal scenes of mayhem and madness -- including a mass crab-and-ship exodus, an apocalyptic-looking waterfall along with multiple Jack Sparrows and great Fish People, as well as a fantastic finale battle that'll simultaneously confuse and thrill you.
Johnny Depp's Captain Jack Sparrow's in fine flighty form and the enterprise as a whole has reconnected with some of that fun stuff that made it such a pleasant excursion when it first set sail back in 2003. Joining him are Geoffrey Rush as Captain Barbossa (as delightful as ever) Orlando Bloom as Will Turner (blander than a bowl of mashed potato without salt), Keira Knightley as Elizabeth Swann (coming off as downright tough and Pirate Queen-ish throughout) and Chow-Yun-Fat as the ill-tempered Capt. Sao Feng leading the pirates of the Singapore. The extensive passenger list also includes Bill Nighy as the heavily tentacled Davy Jones, Stellan Skarsgard as Turner's imprisoned dad Bootstrap Bill, Naomie Harris as Tia Dalma, the gypsy queen who turns out to be a true force of nature, and, most notably, Keith Richards in a brief but memorable cameo as crusty and mumbling Keeper of the Code and Sparrow's dad, Captain Teague. And I must mention the funny pirate monkey – if I weren’t so smitten by Johnny Depp, I could watch At World’s End just for the monkey! I have a feeling the ride is not over yet…so watch out for the fourth installment in a few years or even earlier!
This evening I ventured out all by myself and treated myself to a sugar-free romance. It’s been a while since I’ve watched a movie alone and believe me, for the longest time I was alone in the entire theater. It almost felt like a private screening with samosa and hot chai for snack, till noisy and late-latif desis started trickling in and messed up my reverie!
Coming back to Cheeni Kum – I’d call it a romantic comedy with a difference. While it isn’t path breaking, it is eminently watchable!! It was short and well, low on mush! Amitabh Bachchan as 64 year old pony-tailed London restaurant owner - the egotistic, caustic and cynical Buddhadev Gupta and Tabu as the strong, independent 34 year old Nina Verma, a software engineer from Delhi are the most unlikely people to fall in love. But they do and their chemistry is awesome and you want to root for them when they decide to tie the knot! Of course there’s a kabab-mein-haddi and completey over the top Paresh Rawal who’s Nina’s father and is actually six years younger than his potential son-in-law! The movie was going great till Paresh Rawal showed up post interval and made it a tedious watch! Also a monolgue by Amitabh Bachchan rationalizing why Paresh Rawal is freaking out at the prospect of his daughter marrying a man 30 years her senior slowed the movie down to a crawl!*yawn*
Watch out for the scenes where Mr Bachchan shares screen space with Tabu and Zohra Sehgal who plays his mother! The grand old lady is still such a delight to watch. Lately, I’ve been noticing a trend in Hindi cinema where strong and entertaining characters are being written for supporting roles( Khosla Ka Ghosla, Pyar ka Side Effects) – Cheeni Kum too has a wonderful collection of supporting cast – the guy playing toothy Colgate (I totally loved his accent) and Swini Khara as Amitabh Bachchan’s 9 year old friend and neighbor Sexy stand out - she undoubtedly had the best lines in the movie!
Sometimes, they say, less is more. In this case, a little less sugar made Cheeni Kum a fun caper and saved it from being too sappy!