Dir: Nagesh Kukunoor
Starring: Krish Chhabria, Hetal Gadda, Vipin Sharma, Gulfam Khan, Vijay Maurya, Vibha Chibber, Ninad Kamat
Nagesh Kukunoor made a name for himself in the earlier and mid part of the last decade with some off-beat movies (Hyderabad Blues, Dor, Teen Deewarein) which, while not exactly earth-shaking and sometimes derivative of Hollywood, were well-constructed entertainments that even managed to pull at the heart-strings on occasion. Of late, though, the writer/director has seemed to have lost his mojo with his movies looking to shoehorn characters into a story idea and the end result being a mish-mash of improbable events and characters spouting trite homilies that ring hollow. Dhanak, however, suggests a welcome return to form.
The movie follows the adventures of an eight-year old boy, Chotu (Krish Chhabria) and his slightly older sister, Pari (Hetal Gadda) as they travel across the Rajasthani desert in search of Shah Rukh Khan who is reportedly shooting for his latest film in Jailalmer. Pari is convinced that Shah Rukh Khan can give them a miracle – the restoration of blind Chotu’s vision – and hence the quest to find the superstar. Along the way, the two kids find many a kind-hearted strangers (and some who are not quite what they seem) most of whom play to stereotype and the cinematography is postcard pretty so clearly Kukunoor isn’t going for grim and gritty here. But what makes the movie work is the easy chemistry between Chhabria and Gadda who are natural and naturally likable and the moments of natural humour that we get because of their believable relationship. The soundtrack is pleasant too.
This is a children’s fable – though without the bite of the best fairy-tales – but a pleasant enough one.
Cut to chase: Sweet little children’s tale.
The Shallows ***
Dir: Jaume Collet-Serra
Starring: Blake Lively, Oscar Jaenada, Angelo Jose
Hot blonde in a bikini against a nasty man-eating shark. That’s the kind of basic B-movie concept that would have some studios putting their money on the table and also drawing a certain kind of audience into the movie theatres. But director Jaume Collet-Serra manages to milk the idea for all its worth into a taut 87 minutes and with the help of some inventive camera work and a game – and athletic – leading lady (Blake Lively) takes us along for a tense little action-adventure that doesn’t overstay its welcome. Sure, there are some improbable moments and some, “Oh, come on!” sequences (and the climax is particularly hard to buy) but, overall, the movie is way better than you would expect.
Nancy (Lively) is med-school dropout (her mother’s death leaving her unsure of her chosen profession – we get this from convenient little moments of exposition) who arrives at her mother’s favourite, off-the-beaten-track Mexican beach for some soul searching and some surfing. What she finds there isn’t what she expected when a great white shark decides to make the cove his own little happy meal dining experience.
Cut to chase: Better than its basic concept would suggest.
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* Not on your life ** Hardly worth the bother ** ½ Okay for a slow afternoon only *** Good enough for a look see ***½ Recommended viewing **** Don’t miss it **** ½ Almost perfect ***** Perfection