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Midnight's Children Review


Good

With an over-written screenplay and far too much material for audiences to digest, this film proves the rule that authors shouldn't adapt their own books into movies. In transferring his prize-winning novel to the big screen, Rushdie leaves in far too much detail while constantly indulging in literary touches that distract us from the story. He also adds his own voice in the form of narration to try and help us through it all. While there are moments of real power and important themes, the film is simply too dense.

The story follows Saleem (Bhabha), who was born at the stroke of midnight when India gained independence in 1947. He was also swapped with another baby in the hospital, which put him in the hands of a wealthy Pakistani couple (Goswami and Roy) while their biological son Shiva (Siddharth) grew up in poverty with a single-father minstrel (Chakrabarti). Oblivious to all of this, these people cross paths with each other over the decades as India, Pakistan and Bangladesh grapple to form distinct nations. And Saleem also discovers that he has the supernatural ability to connect all children born at that same moment, including Parvati (Saran), who becomes inextricably entwined with both Saleem and Shiva.

With its sprawling narrative spanning the entire history of modern-day India, the film feels like a variation on Forrest Gump, as Saleem's life story echoes and intersects with key events. This turns the film into an epic fable, complete with magical touches, huge coincidences and a vast array of side characters that's frankly bewildering. There's also the sense that a very big novel has been crammed into a very long movie, so we are thrown from scene to scene without getting the chance to let the people or events properly sink in. As a result, it's very difficult to feel any sympathy for the characters or anything that happens.

Continue reading: Midnight's Children Review

Midnight's Children Trailer


At midnight on August 15th 1947, India gained their independence from Britain during the decline of the British Empire. 'Midnight's Children' tells the story of how at that exact same time, a boy by the name of Saleem Sinai was born; a boy who soon learned that he was extraordinary in many ways as he possessed magical telepathic powers as a result of the time he was born. He later learns that other children born at the same time also have similar powers and he sets up a kind of club of all the Indian children born between midnight and 1 a.m. Along the way he clashes with Shiva, another Midnight Child who finds himself despising Saleem for his wealthy upbringing which is a strong contrast to his own poverty stricken life. Little do they both know, however, that they were deliberately switched at birth and fated to live the life the other son should've had. 

'Midnight's Children' is the emotional fantasy drama adapted from Salman Rushdie's 1981 novel of the same name which won the Booker Prize and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize on its publication. The author also wrote the screenplay in his feature film debut alongside director Deepa Mehta ('Heaven on Earth', 'Bollywood/ Hollywood').  It is set for release on December 26th 2012 in the UK. 

Directed: Deepa Mehta 

Continue: Midnight's Children Trailer

Water Review


Very Good
Whoever did the marketing for Water is eternally on my shit list. At the beginning of the preview for Deepa Mehta's latest film, it dramatically announces that certain people wanted to suppress it from distribution but, get this, "the filmmakers would not be silenced." It's like the back of a Rushdie book that labors on how he was almost killed for his novels: What the hell does that have to do with the movie besides to say its controversial? Knockaround Guys was in the can for a good three or four years before it was released, but that didn't make it a film of importance nor a film to stop arranging your sock drawer over. At least Water doesn't count in the same category as that.Chuyia (Sarala) is nine years old and has just lost her husband. If that doesn't creep you out enough, peep this: Widows, in Hindu culture, were sent to an ashram where they would live till their last day. It's 1930, so this ideology is still commonly considered the norm. Chuyia immediately bonds with a loner in the group, Kalyani (the radiant Lisa Ray), who hides a puppy in her hut and breaks many other rules of the ashram. One day, when the puppy runs away, they both run into Narayan (John Abraham), a handsome gentleman with glasses and a penchant for Ghandi. Narayan is persistent in his courting of Kalyani, who by Hindu tradition can not date or get remarried. Finally, she caves in and agrees to marry him, but after the agreement, a strange punch of faith hits her and things get gloomy.Underneath all the ritual and religion, Water is a simple love vs. faith story. Kalyani is soft spoken in her rebellious nature, but she does believe what Hinduism teaches the women. Her friend Shakuntala (a superb Seema Biswas), works in opposite fashion as she is first held down by belief but then opens up to belief in freedom, brought to a head when she witnesses Ghandi speaking at a train station. Mehta orchestrates these clashes of ideology deftly, especially the side plot involving Gulabi, a man who pimps out the widows to rich men, and the head mistress, Madhumati (Manorma). The love story is simple enough to work and engage the audience, but the real winner here is Mehta and Giles Nuttgens, the cinematographer. Together, they create a luminous world around the controversial lifestyle and rituals of these women.Coming into Mehta's "Elemental Trilogy" a novice, I find that her skill at direction far exceeds her writing ability. Although no line sticks out as awkward or painful, there's nothing to really remember in the language either. The film lingers in your memory for those clear, concise images, like the rain outside Kalyani's hut that seems to be constantly falling. Hindu fundamentalists will be up in arms, no doubt, but the film is artful in showing the positive side of belief and the negative responses to freedom and free thinking. In other words, it is definitely worth putting off that sock arrangement for one more day.Hey, who's thirsty?

Water Review


Very Good
Whoever did the marketing for Water is eternally on my shit list. At the beginning of the preview for Deepa Mehta's latest film, it dramatically announces that certain people wanted to suppress it from distribution but, get this, "the filmmakers would not be silenced." It's like the back of a Rushdie book that labors on how he was almost killed for his novels: What the hell does that have to do with the movie besides to say its controversial? Knockaround Guys was in the can for a good three or four years before it was released, but that didn't make it a film of importance nor a film to stop arranging your sock drawer over. At least Water doesn't count in the same category as that.

Chuyia (Sarala) is nine years old and has just lost her husband. If that doesn't creep you out enough, peep this: Widows, in Hindu culture, were sent to an ashram where they would live till their last day. It's 1930, so this ideology is still commonly considered the norm. Chuyia immediately bonds with a loner in the group, Kalyani (the radiant Lisa Ray), who hides a puppy in her hut and breaks many other rules of the ashram. One day, when the puppy runs away, they both run into Narayan (John Abraham), a handsome gentleman with glasses and a penchant for Ghandi. Narayan is persistent in his courting of Kalyani, who by Hindu tradition can not date or get remarried. Finally, she caves in and agrees to marry him, but after the agreement, a strange punch of faith hits her and things get gloomy.

Continue reading: Water Review

Fire Review


Weak
When two sisters-in-law come to realize they are married to the biggest jackasses in all of India, they do what comes naturally and explore one another. Before you get too excited, it's not too steamy, and it's not a comedy, either. What is it? Well, more soap opera than anything else, full of wringing of hands and lots and lots of talking. Snooze. Feels like a film-school special.

Lagaan: Once Upon A Time In India Review


Excellent
Welcome to Bollywood, where every film ever produced is a musical. If you're frightened by the thought, rest assured that with a population of 1.2 billion people backing a film industry that has been remarkably successful, it is no wonder Indian filmmakers stick to the formula.

Nevertheless, what has been lacking for many Americans like myself, curious to know what Indian movies are all about, is a Bollywood production with real crossover potential. If you're one of those interested people, look no further than Lagaan: Once Upon A Time In India, written and directed by Ashutosh Gowarider. Although movies like ABCD (which stands for American Born Confused Deshi), American Chai, and Monsoon Wedding have exposed Western audiences to a fascinating Indian culture, they are not cut from the traditional Indian movie blueprint. Thankfully, Lagaan is a film made by Indian filmmakers for a primarily Indian audience... but that can be enjoyed by anyone with an open mind.

Continue reading: Lagaan: Once Upon A Time In India Review

Lagaan: Once Upon A Time In India Review


Excellent

I have a new favorite musical -- and I'm not even a fan of the genre, per se.

It's a nearly four-hour long, epic Bollywood extravaganza about rain-starved Indian peasant farmers in 1893, the cruel colonial British tyrants that oppress them, and the bold, impossible challenge of a winner-take-all cricket match between the two that will determine if the farmers will have their taxes waived for the next three years -- or tripled.

It sounds ridiculous, I know. But the prolific Indian film industry has been cranking out pictures in this vein for years. They know what they're doing and "Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India" is the fabulous, whimsical, Oscar-nominated culmination of every ambitious, romantic, cinematic and melodious instinct of showmanship that country's studios have ever mustered.

Continue reading: Lagaan: Once Upon A Time In India Review

Monsoon Wedding Review


Good

"Monsoon Wedding" could be seen as Bollywood's answer to "Father of the Bride," but such a comparison would be selling short this choice culture clash comedy-drama.

Said clash is an internal one, however, between the modernized, Westernized everyday lives of an upper middle-class New Delhi family and their Punjabi rituals and traditions that include the arranged marriage at hand.

Beautiful, stunningly blue-eyed young Aditi (Indian pop singer Vasundhara Das) has agreed to the match made by her parents because she's become bewildered by her mixed-up life and wants to force herself to take a direction. This is easier said than done, since even the night before the wedding she's still being led to temptation by a lover she's trying to leave behind -- a married, egocentric and manipulative TV talk show host.

Continue reading: Monsoon Wedding Review

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Kulbhushan Kharbanda Movies

Midnight's Children Movie Review

Midnight's Children Movie Review

With an over-written screenplay and far too much material for audiences to digest, this film...

Midnight's Children Trailer

Midnight's Children Trailer

At midnight on August 15th 1947, India gained their independence from Britain during the decline...

Water Movie Review

Water Movie Review

Whoever did the marketing for Water is eternally on my shit list. At the beginning...

Water Movie Review

Water Movie Review

Whoever did the marketing for Water is eternally on my shit list. At the beginning...

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Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India Movie Review

Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India Movie Review

Welcome to Bollywood, where every film ever produced is a musical. If you're frightened by...

Lagaan: Once Upon A Time In India Movie Review

Lagaan: Once Upon A Time In India Movie Review

I have a new favorite musical -- and I'm not even a fan of the...

Monsoon Wedding Movie Review

Monsoon Wedding Movie Review

"Monsoon Wedding" could be seen as Bollywood's answer to "Father of the Bride," but such...

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