Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 – A Not-review

November 21, 2010 at 6:56 am | Posted in Movies Shoovies | 8 Comments
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From the moment that I left office, at seven in the morning, drenched in rain from head to intermediate body parts to toe, I had a feeling that this day was doomed. When I woke up at 2 things were pretty straightforward. Skip bath – Eat dabba – Find clothes – Wear Them – Run.

Run, because we had to catch the 3.30 show of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 at Devi Cineplex. Run, because Ratatouille was on television and we had wasted 20 minutes watching it while doing the straightforward things mentioned above. And we ran. Ran to Thiruvanmiyur MRTS station, took two tickets and ran to the first floor, only to miss the local train by some seconds. The next train was at 3.30 and we weren’t carrying our wands. So we took an auto who assured us that he’ll drop us at Devi before 3.30. However, true to every autowallah’s word, he remembered mid-way that his auto needed petrol. It started raining again and we were in two minds now, whether to go late into a movie or to stay and enjoy the weather at the Marina beach. In the end, Emma Watson won. Our autowallah dropped us at a turn, pointing to some building at the end which was supposed to be Devi Cineplex. We ran(rather we swam) in the rain only to discover that the building was some bank. Another short run and a few turns, took us to another building which turned out be another cinemahall. In our third attempt we were able to locate Devi Cineplex, after exhausting the choicest north-indian(and marathi) abuses and after being drenched in rain from head to blah-blah to toes.

At 3: 50 we took our seats and Harry kissed Ginny.

HP

Now, let it be known that I love the Harry Potter series. I’ve read the books umpteen number of times(even between semester exams) and somehow the whole concept of the world being divided into Magic and non-magic folk intrigues me a lot. And one day I want to own(or rent) a Castle like Hogwarts(or at least a house like X Lovegood’s). So as a fan of the series, it is disappointing to see the books treated so shabbily, like they did in the last movie(the half-baked Half Blood Prince). I had heard from friends that this movie is far better than the last one and my expectations were pretty high. I was, unfortunately(or therefore), very disappointed at how the movie turned out to be.

Making a movie out of a 700(or something) page book isn’t easy. Making two movies out it, isn’t easy too. Because a book, like a movie, has a climax. You cannot divide the climax into two and make two movies. So one of your movies will tend be less exciting than the other. I understand that.

What I don’t understand is Mr. Yates habit of cutting scenes and not taking things to a higher level. I felt this in Half Blood Prince and again I suffered from the same. He takes a scene, builds it well and then lets it go. Which is very disappointing. Very. And this is my major grudge(and maybe my only grudge) with the movie. You may say that this is best of the lot, because this adheres more to the book and any of its previous counterparts. But that doesn’t make it a good adaptation. Not even close. I loved the First and the Fifth part of the series but this one didn’t live up to my expectations.

Warning: Spoilers and rants ahead.

Since I didn’t see the opening sequence, I won’t comment on that. My worries began when they omitted the altercation between Harry and Scrimgeour. There was zero emotion in that scene, all of them appeared so fake. It was Dumbledore’s will being discussed but there was hardly any hint of surprise on the Trio’s face. And why did they omit the shuffle between Harry and Scrimgeour? That’d have set the pace of the movie perfectly. Talking of fake emotions, Mad-Eye’s death doesn’t come as a heartbreak to any one of them. JKR has described that scene pretty vividly in the book, but the actors fail to live the emotions.

Again, Harry Potter goes undisguised to Bill and Fleur’s wedding? When they land up in Tottenham Court Road(I guess the movie uses some other street), Harry still doesn’t use the Invisibility cloak. Deatheaters march upto the coffee counter, with their back at the trio, when they could easily have stunned them while entering. This isn’t a cowboy movie Mr. Yates.

When Deatheaters stop the train(in a very X-Men-ish sequence), we get a glimpse of Neville and Ginny and then, snap. Mr. Yates doesn’t linger around in scenes where a few extra frames could have made all the difference.

And again, the trio’s plans for infiltrating the ministry aren’t given any footage at all. It appears totally out-of-the-blue.

And my biggest grudge, HOW in the world can Harry Potter walk out of the Ministry without an invisibility cloak or without being under the effect of a Polyjuice potion? Ministry guards do not attack them – why show them when they are redundant(and absolutely useless)? Only one Deatheater tackles them, the rest of the junta is just a mute audience to the show. Can  you be any more stupid? Simple logic, Mr. Yates – Please read the book carefully next time around.

There are more loopholes. How does Bathilda Bagshot know Grignewald? What happened to Peter Pettigrew, why wasn’t his death depicted? No mention of Phineas Nigellus’s painting. Hardly any mention of Snape. Hermione picks up Harry’s wand and still manages to break it. And the list goes on.

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However, this isn’t a bad movie. It has its comic moments(which on most occasions are genuinely funny) and its grim moments.I was particularly impressed with some scenes. The Horcrux’s behavior before being destroyed, Hermione’s torture, the snatcher chase and Nagini’s sequence. They were visually stunning and well crafted, especially Nagini’s attack on Harry. I was almost startled on one occasion(Take that, Mallika Sherawat). So was the story of the Pervell brothers: the animated ‘The Tale of the Three Brothers’ adds a different flavor to the movie. The locations are handpicked and feel very exotic, pleasant and menacing at different points in the movie. But Mr. Yates will get some brownie points for two special sequences, which are the only things that I’ll carry home from the movie. Harry and Hermione’s dance(which isn’t a part of the book) was a worthy deviation from the book. It could have been executed better, I feel but nevertheless, full marks for trying something different. JKR would be happy. And the scene that stood out in the movie, is that of Dobby’s death. Executed to perfection. "It’s a beautiful place, to be with friends". That, Mr. Yates, absolves you from a lot of your mistakes.

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I won’t say that this is my favorite Harry Potter film but as a sequel to the Half-Blood Prince, The Deathly Hallows: Part 1 deserves a lot of praise for setting things right. And I know without a doubt, that the second part will be an outstanding success irrespective of how Mr. Yates treats it. Afterall, all isn’t well yet.

The friend who accompanied me to the movie, hadn’t seen most of the previous movies. He kept referring to Hagrid as Voldemort till I gave him a piece of my mind. However, he did make an interesting observation.The Doe Patronus sequence, he said, reminded him of Ramayana. Ofcourse, the patronus was more well behaved than Mareecha ever was, but interesting analogy I must say.

Should you give Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows a watch? – If you are a fan, you must. If you aren’t, you can.

And yeah, Emma Watson – We’d like to have the cute avatar back, so pliss to be using some Parachute hair oil and growing ghane mulayam baal.

Disclaimer: This is not a review, this is a rant-cum-reminisces post. We’ll call it a not-review. All opinions expressed are mine(in case you hadn’t figured this out already). Also troll comments on this post will be ‘Obliviated’.

Ishqiya.

February 1, 2010 at 12:18 am | Posted in Movies Shoovies | 49 Comments
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Finally.

After missing Rocket Singh, Avatar(in all D’s), Three Idiots and Sherlock Holmes(thanks to this village where it didn’t release), I was in that crappy state of mind which forces people to watch crap like Vivah thrice.

and then Ishqiya happened.

Devoid of any reasonably tolerable company and this being a not-so-family movie, I decided to go for Ishqiya alone : single and unarmed.

Going to a movie alone isn’t a good idea. You always run the risk of getting a seat in front of a row of giggling girls or aunties who come to the cinema hall to discuss family disputes. Or you may end up with a couple who add to the background score of the movie. Or uncles who scratch their armpits as they stretch and do the multiplex-yoga. But this was a watch-or-die situation. So: first day second show, last row, beech-wali seat.

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(Image courtesy: V Love Movies)

To sum it up: Ishqiya feels like having the orgasm first, followed by the foreplay.

Now for the post-mortem. Or maybe not. I am bad at reviewing a movie. Mostly I forget the best parts, ignore what the director ignored and by the time that I am home, I remember the experience and not the movie. Unless I have it on DVD or on my hard drive. Since I don’t have it at the moment, I am not even going to attempt a review. I’ll talk about the movie though.

Ishqiya for me, was an unfinished poem. It is lyrical, it entices and then, when you are gripped, it lets you go. Which hurts. At the end of it,  you even feel cheated. But when you look back at it and remember the time when it had your attention, you forgive it and marvel at  its beauty.

If promos were anything to go by, Ishqiya had Vishal Bharadwaj written all over it – Gorakhpur, Chutiam Sulphate, Rekha Bharadwaj, Gulzar, Betrayal. When you watch the movie, you realize it has Vishal Bharadwaj written, but in a few places. The rest belongs to Abhishek Chaubey. And with a debut like this, I am certainly waiting for more. And for once I am glad that Vishal and others are promoting such talents without calling it, something as banal as, a ‘factory’.

If you haven’t seen it yet, I suggest you watch it – Not for the story, not for the music – but for the characters. Each and every one of them. From the greasy don Mushtaq (played by Salman Shahid, who bears a striking resemblance to Tinu Anand in some frames) to the servant-cum-savior Nandu(Alok Kumar) – each and every actor shines in the space given to them. And this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Because the movie belongs to the trio – Naseeruddin Shah as Ifthikar(fondly called Khalujaan), His nephew Babban(Arshad Warsi) and Vidya Balan as Krishan Verma.

Naseeruddin Shah gives an impeccable performance as Khalujaan. When he’s drunk, you notice the slur. When he speaks Urdu, you notice the nuances. When he is rabid, you notice the sinews. And what comes as a bigger surprise, is Arshad Warsi, who tries to steal the show from Naseeruddin, portraying the nervous Babban, who has an eye for mischief and an innate lust in his kohl-lined eyes. And he almost succeeds.

Almost, because the movie belongs to Vidya Balan. Although the manicured look and the accent seems out of place, her background isn’t known, so I’ll give the director a benefit of doubt here.

But she shines. And how. This movie is in-your-face for people who had written her off after Kismat Konnection. Ishqiya presents Vidya Balan in her most sensual, mysterious and uninhibited avatar. There are no rules for her character. From lecherous to motherly, from scheming to gullible, she transforms into roles seamlessly. Few more movies like this and she’ll soon reach the pedestal where we keep(and treasure) Deepti Naval and Smita Patil. (this could be an exaggeration, am smitten by her raw sensuality).

So if everything is so poetic, every character so flawless, where does Ishqiya falter? Sadly, Ishqiya fails to build up on the hullabaloo created by its promos. In fact, by the time the ‘Tumhara pyar pyar, Humara pyar sex’ dialogue arrives, you have almost lost interest in the plot. This happens, I think, because the director gets confused between keeping the characters and the situation mysterious, and revealing it all in a series of related events.

You may feel that the characters in the movie are poorly etched. I am assuming it is so because the director wanted a touch of mystery around his leading men. He succeeds to maintain that till the first part and then gloriously falters. The movie is exceedingly simple and uni-directional in the first half and then it is all over the place. Sub-plots happen. New characters are introduced and suitably ignored. The equations between the trio change. All this happens in such quick and confused succession that all the charm of the dialogues or the situations is lost.

That said, Ishqiya is a wonderful start to 2010. The dialogues are the icing on the cake. Though the urdu could be tricky at times(which means that I didn’t get it), the blend of Bhopali influence and the UP wallah hindi, is a heady mix. Some dialogues are didactic, others are brutal. And to spice things up, there is profanity, which is put to good use. It not only lends a local flavour to the movie, it also makes for some genuine comic moments.

Though I feel that ‘Chutiam sulphate’ was over used and at places, only a ‘Chutia’ would have been way more effective, that is strictly my opinion. Chutiam Sulphate, as far as vox populi goes, is the cuss word of 2010. Very soon you’ll hear little beggars(or slumdogs as Danny Boyle calls them) using this in casual conversation. And if Chutiam Sulphate is the USP of the movie, so is the kissing scene between Babban and Krishna.

A kiss has been Bollywood’s nemesis. They’ve always found it easy to put two flowers together because flowers don’t emote. Hours after Ishqiya, I watched Kareena suck the soul out of Aamir Khan in a very dementor-like fashion, in Three Idiots. And I remembered the killing chemistry between Vidya and Arshad as they kiss, tease, bite, allure and then devour each other in a scene which, in all probability, can give you a boner in the cinema hall(given you are not surrounded by fat aunties discussing the recipe of Bhindi Bharta). 

Since, by now, I guess you’ve decided to watch Ishqiya, let me drop in a few lines about the cinematography. I don’t really know what cinematography means so let me just say that Ishqiya’s world is as real as yours or mine. The art director(or whoever is responsible) builds a montage of North India, joining the village to the glamorous city. He takes you to temples, to shady beauty parlours, to red light areas, to steel factories – and none of them appears unreal. Krishna’s home cross the canal(or river, not sure) has this rustic charm to it, which lends a different flavour to each scene that it features in.

Did we miss something? Music. I complained on Twitter that the song ‘Dil to baccha hai ji’ didn’t appeal to me. Over a period of time it has grown on me. I still think it isn’t the song that I’d choose to be played on my funeral but Gulzar’s lyrics and Rahat Fateh Ali Khan’s voice make it very endearing. But for me, the Ishqiya song will always be – Ab mujhe koi intezaar kahan – Beautiful. Rekha Bharadwaj’s voice lends an amateurish credibility to the lyrics which tell the tale of longing and despair. Beautiful, simply beautiful.

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(Image courtesy: V Love Movies)

Ishqiya is a movie that ‘could have been’. It  bears on its shoulder the weight of an unusual cast, a production house known for intelligent movies, music that builds the right amount of pre-release buzz and a promo that reveals and hides the best, at the same time. <insert Siddhu’s bikini analogy> To this burden, it adds bits of Naxalism, Kidnapping rackets and more. And it falls. Understandable, and forgivable. But as a valiant first attempt, as a shining debut in a sea of beaten scripts and clichés, as an experiment which takes three actors known for their supporting roles and puts them together in the lead roles in a commercial movie, as a movie which tells you that you can be real and filmy in the same 2.15 hours – as all that and more, it deserves to be seen. Like the teacher who congratulates the child who comes second with greater eagerness, you must watch this movie.

That’s all, your honour.

P.S.: Also read a ‘real’ review at – http://vlovemovies.com/reviews/ishqiya.html

P.P.S: For those of you, who’ve landed here via Google, looking for the meaning of Sulphate in Chutiam/Chutiyam Sulphate, here is the deal: Copper Sulphate – CuSO4 – was somehow mauled in the 80’s and 90’s to ChuSO4, or Chutiyam Sulphate. This actually means the same thing as ‘Chutia’ – which stands for either ‘out of the vagina’ or the more colorful word ‘cunt’ and it may also mean ‘an impotent man’. The choice is yours.

P.P.P.S: This post won the CNN IBN Reader’s Review Contest


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