Monday, June 27, 2011

Kya Bhidu...The Jackie Shroff saga

While growing up in the 90s' back at home, i was always fascinated by a visit to the barber's shop. It was a delightful experience for me to notice so many people, come in sporting different hairdos and go out with new mane. While it came to facial hair, the barber applied copious amounts of lather on the peoples faces and rubbed them clean. But after that, came the most critical part - trimming and shaping the mustachios (for those who sported them). It is here that the barber, narrowed his eyes, picking his finest pair of scissors and a small comb and asked the customer the most distinguished question that has ever been asked to a moustached person in India - "Jackie Shroff style kar dun?" (shall i style it like Jackie Shroff?).

Jackie Shroff pretty much immortalised the "Hero with a Moustache" in India. Of course there was also Shroff's contemporary and best partner in movies, Anil Kapoor, who was another moustache weilding hero, but the elegance, the Debonairish charm and the personality Jackie Shroff commanded in his prime, was hands and heads above the rest. Infact if you look at the career graph of this actor, you may feel its always style over substance. However it is also true that whenever given a chance, Shroff has performed genuinely and given stellar performances as the leading man.  Let's look at five of my favourite Jaggu Dada movies:

1. Hero: "Jaise Asli Heera dhoondne ke liye Johri ki nazar chahiye, waise hi Asli Hero chhunne ke liye Ghai ki Nazar  jaroori hai" (Just like you need a real jeweller to find the best diamond, you need Subhash Ghai to find a real HERO). How Subhash Ghai, India's best Showman since Raj Kapoor zeroed down on Shroff to be the leading man in his new movie is astounding, Especially with Jaggu Dada's local goon history during his Teen Batti days and a wee bit role in Swami Dada, it is harder to believe how he could be the choice of a leading banner to be their leading star. However history was written, Hero went on to be a huge hit and Jackie did very well as a debutant in a leading role. The haunting flute piece remains etched in memory. So does Sanjeev Kumar, who had a hilarious supporting role.

2. Kaash: Chances are, not many people have heard of this movie. For me, this remains as an endearing performance by Jackie and Dimple Kapadia in a tearjerking melodrama. Jackie demonstrates human failure competently as the superstar turned struggling father/alcoholic. I have very faint memories also of a stupid boxing match between Jackie and Dalip Tahil. "Baad Muddat" is another thing altogether.

3. Gardish: I remember as a kid reading the next line on the "Gardish" poster - "Wanted to be a man of law, NOW wanted by Law" !! And i kept trying to comprehend what it meant. This was a favourite childhood activity, getting to know 2% of a movie from a trailer or a poster and then trying to guess what the movie would be about entirely !! My follies apart, Gardish in my opinion is Jackie Shroff's masterpiece. How a sober, calm guy ends up becoming a Goon, and without any fault of his own..remains to be seen here. Brilliant support by Amrish Puri, in a non villainous role after ages. "Hum na samjhe the baat itni si...khwaab sheeshe ke..Duniya patthar ki"" takes me into melancholy everytime.

4. Parinda: I did not credit Anil Kapoor with this movie, as one of his best performances. I will not even give that credit to Nana, although he really was the scene stealer in the movie with his crazy-eccentric Anna act. But fact remains that this is one of the best restrained performances given by Jackie in a long time. Very maturely acted and always shown the right amount of emotions (he either under does or over does that mostly). Infact in retrospection, if there ever was a leading man in 1989, who could be cast in a movie about the Mumbai underworld, it had to be Jackie. Our Man won his only "Best Actor (Lead) - Filmfare" for this film.

5. Angaar / Mission Kashmir : It was tough to pick a 5th one amongst a lot of "good but definitely not great" works of Mr. Shroff. "Angaar" was Jackie's take on the conventional "Angry young man" syndrome of Bollywood. It's a hard hitting movie, extreme measures, extreme violence, extreme dialogues and Shroff does full justice to his pivotal role. On the other hand you have him playing Hilal Kohistani, an incarnation of Pure evil, with Kohl lined eyes, brainwashing the youth to lead terror in Kashmir. This movie showed a lot of promise for Jackie, and audiences felt, he now has another area to exploit his acting - the negative area. It didn't happen though.

When i looked up wiki, to confirm if Jaggu Dada has any good releases coming up, i wasn't too startled by his recent condition. In the last year, there were 3 Jackie Shroff releases are - "Ek second jo zindagi badal de", "Mussa - The Most Wanted" and " Bhoot and Friends". To say that this veteran actor is loosing it, wouldn't be an irrational statement. Recent memories of Jackie, on TV are instances when he is being bashed up by Salman, in "Veer" which is being aired for the nth time, or praising magicians with "sahi hai bhidu..mast kiya ekdum" some random show. In context to the present situation, I am reminded of the war scenes in "Border", at the time when Sunny and Co. were wrecking havoc yet getting their asses kicked, Jackie kept marching from one end of his fighter plane tyo another, in a state of utter helplessness, muttering - "Can't fly in the night..Dammit...Can't fly in the night" !!!!!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Sunny Deol's Eyes (and a few of his best movies)

"Utaar ke faink do yeh wardi aur pehen lo Balwant Rai ka patta apne gale mein." - Ghayal.

"Mathura Das, isse pehle ki main tujhe Gaddar karaar deke goli maar dun...bhaag jaa yahan se" - Border.

I wish there was an option in blogger, which would make these fonts bolder, much bolder, as much as the boldness and machismo pumped into these lines by the sayer. If there ever was an instrument, which could measure the intensity and volatility of an actor's performance, it would have been destroyed by a single steely glance of Sunny Deol's ultra expressive eyes. Ahh...those eyes !! They might not be as beautiful as Aishwarya Rai's, might not be as perfectly arched and romantically deep as Shahrukh's or as crooked as Shakti Kapoor's. But if eyes were a window to one's soul, Sunny Deol's eyes surely depicted two emotions awesomely well - Hatred and Revenge !!! 

Continuing with the tradition..i would now list down my favourite Sunny Deol movies, the best 5. Not surprising though, that the new ones won't find a mention.

1. Arjun: Mamaiyya kero kero kero Mamma.... !! What memories this movie holds... For me, this movie defined youth rebellion for a long time, until "Rang de Basanti" happened. The anger of the unemployed youth, nagged at home, disrespected in society, was well portrayed by the young guns including Deol. The scene where they meet the rival gang, and the sound of whistling amidst silence, the rain scene where one of the guys is being chased by the goons, with hundreds of black umbrellas cramming the screen, remain memorable to this day. And Sunny Deol, as Arjun Malvankar, the strong, silent hero, with fire in his belly, was a treat to watch.

2. Dacait: I remember watching this movie when i was a kid and being shit angry and troubled and teary eyed looking at Sunny Deol's face, when he sees his mom Raakhi, who's gone mad and is dancing with a shaved off head..."Nacho re nacho..." !! Uff..the plight !! Too much... And just the right expressions put in again by Sunny boy !! How a simple, educated boy turns into a dreaded Dacoit, is a story well told and very well acted by Deol Senior. Another Rahul Rawail-Sunny Deol Hit Combo, after "Arjun".

3. Ghayal: Most Indians, when asked to mention THE defining Sunny Deol Movie, would immediately respond - "Ghayal".  This film over the times has become a cult classic, in the history of action cinema in Bollywood. Dialogues are still remembered and spoken. The story of yet another angry young man, wronged by the system, in search of his missing elder brother. This also marked the successful association of Deol with Rajkumar Santoshi.

4. Daamini: This is a movie, where in the traditional sense of the word, Sunny Deol isn't the "Hero" of the movie. But when we remember "Daamini" today, we would remember it for Deol, and maybe a few would recount Meenakshi Sheshadri's stellar performance too. This movie IMO should also hold the record for memorable dialogues : screen time ratio, and Deol's "Govind", the fire yeilding lawyer who returns from self hibernation, is a winner, hands down. Hands se yaad aaya - "Yeh Dhaai kilo ka haath..jab kisipe padta hai na...toh aadmi uthta nahin....(dramatic expression with palm flicked towards heaven)..UTTH jaata hai."

5. Border: J.P.Dutta's multi-starrer has been IMO the best war movie bollywood ever made. War, here meant fighting our neighbours, and the action involved here, was more emotional, rather than the technical CGI sequences hollywood specialises in. We do not need 50 animation smart assess to blow up a tank spectacularly on screen. A howling Sunil Shetty (Maahh....Shakti...Maahhhhhhhhhh) punctured with 16 bullets is enough for this. And when it comes to emotional action..who better than Sunny Paaji ?? Amongst a bevy of heroes, Sunny Deol stood out with extra ordinary screen presence. Remember the scene where he gives the Pak general a mouthful or where he counsels young tongue protruding Akshaye Khanna, Deol is superb. Garland of grenades and heavy launcher on thy shoulder...there marches my bollywood soldier !!

What did i miss? "Gadar - Ek Prem Katha" comes immediately to the mind. This is one movie, where after Border, Sunny Deol took the Pak thing into his own hands, and didn't need the army to emerge India victorious. This movie also raced with "Lagaan", another bollywood legend, and bitchslapped it to turn victorious at the Box office race back then. "Ghatak" was a worthy successor to "Ghayal" but somehow also resembled the 10 movies Deol did those days, which you couldnt differentiate from one another while being played on cable television. "Arjun Pandit" had an interesting premise, that of a "Negative Hero" (another bollywood cliche). He has also been an integral part of Rajiv rai's entertainers "Tridev" and "Vishwatma". Off late i havent seen any of his new stuff and i doubt any of them would make it into a list of "10 best Sunny Deol movies". I'd read about "Ghayal Returns" a few days back. Hope it returns well and soon. Can't wait to see the Real action man again. "Kab aayegi yeh Taareekh? Tareekh pe taareekh .........................!!!"

Friday, June 3, 2011

Anil Kapoor or The Act of Moving your Thumbs Perpendicular to your Ears, over your Mane..and saying - Aye Jhakaassss !!!

Aye Jhakaassssss....... !!! Kya Bolaaa !!!

The hero does a fine act of a roadside tramp/local goon/small time hoodlum, mouthing these dialogues. These lines aren't crass, they are not vulgar and they are not at all wannabe cool. Over a period of time, these dialogues have become endearing, just like the protagonist we identify them with - Anil Kapoor.

The first thing that comes into my mind when i remember Anil Kapoor is Hair. Hair here, hair there, hair hair everywhere !!! He was once described as a barber's nightmare by his leading lady Dimple Kapadia, while they shot for steamy scenes in Jaanbaaz. However, leaving the hair raising issues aside, when i look at the career of this man, which has spanned more than 3 decades now, i can only stand in awe and admire his body of work, the variety, the talent and energy he brought on screen. I thought of listing my 5 favourite Anil Kapoor films here on my blog, a process i would like to repeat with several other stars later. Quite a difficult task, but here goes the list:

1. Tezaab (1988) - I have gone on and on about Tezaab in one of my previous blogs. It is one of my favourite hindi movies. As i'd said earlier, this movie has everything a masala potboiler should contain. I can watch Tezaab, any given time. I also remember the dialogues pretty well. The transformation of a young student into a tadipaar criminal, has been portrayed really well by Kapoor. Be it his loverboy scenes or the cold hardened look of Munna, he plays this role to perfection. Complemented equally well by Madhuri Dixit, for whom this movie was the elevator to stardom. The surprise factor was Chunky Pandey's "Babban", the lovable side-kick. Generous mention for Kiran Kumar's "Lotiya pathan" too, who had some of the best dialogues in the movie. Sample this - "Lotiya jab deta hai toh ehsaan nahin karta, aur jab leta hai toh lihaaj nahin karta".

2. Saaheb (1985) - If there ever was an "A" in a dictionary, Music Director Bappi Lahiri never bought it. All "A"s in his songs tended to become "Aye"..just like "Yer bine chen kehan reeeee....Sone nehin Chendi nehin yer toh mila, ayere pyer ker le...". Maybe i am exaggerating a wee bit, but who hasn't had fun with Bappi da. This song, one of his most popular ones, was used in "Saaheb", an otherwise simple story of a young goalkeeper, who sacrifices his dreams for his family. Very well acted again by Kapoor as the yuppy youth, getting reprimanded by Dad and family and yet rising up to the occasion when his family needs him the most. Great performances by Raakhee Gulzaar as the Bhabhi. The chemistry of the leading pair(Amrita Singh being the Heroine) is awesome, something they carried forward in "Chameli ki Shaadi" as well.

3. Viraasat (1997) - This movie was an official remake of "Thevar Magan". I havent seen the original. But for me, this is one of Anil Kapoor's best performances. Again a transformation here from a City boy into the headman of his clan, sporting inch wide mustachios, Anil Kapoor performed this role wonderfully. Watch out for the last scenes of the movie and the power packed scenes he delivers. Tabbu was excellent and a great supporting role by the Late Amrish Puri.
P.S - Has a wonderful stick fight scene.

4. Meri Jung (1985) - I dont have any idea, why Anil Kapoor looked so tanned in this movie. I mean what was the idea behind that ? The movie was a great one though. This one sees Kapoor play the Angry young man. However this angry young man doesnt break the law, he is a man of law himself and strives hard beyond an amnesia struck mother, a love struck sister and a Thunder Struck Javed Jaffrey, to bring Thakral (Amrish Puri), the lawyer who framed Kapoor's innocent father for murder, to justice. Pretty awesome movie, baring a few loopholes, somethings we have learned to live and love in bollywood. The piano plays some great tunes, Javed jaffrey in his debut makes some killer moves and i just have to mention Parikshit "Brrotherr" Sahni over here, just for kicks, for no reason, even though he has a very small role in the movie.

5. Taal (1999) / Raam Lakhan (1989) - Ok, i couldnt decide between the both. I have a tie. In both these movies, Kapoor isn't the central character. Ram Lakhan, being a two hero movie, and other performances aside, the best that you will still remember out of it as you think would be the endearing Lakhan. Be it dancing with awesome energy to "Dhinaa Dhin Dhaa...." or acting as the corrupt cop, Kapoor's Lakhan is an immortal part of cinema. Taal, saw him in negative shades as Vikrant Kapoor the Music Maestro, wicked, funny and yet very much likeable. Vikrant cheats tunes from folk singers, yet is fair enough in letting go of the leading lady in the end.

I have had to leave out so many other movies out of the list. Anil Kapoor has to be a specialist in remakes of South Indian cinema (something that nowadays Salman Khan is getting quite good at). So for a "Viraasat", i had to leave out "Nayak". He was equally good in "Lamhe", though Sridevi nailed the movie, and i personally do not like a moustache less Anil Kapoor :) (which is not the reason why i didnt consider "Jhooth Bole Kauwa Kaate" !!). "Parindaa" was more of a joint effort by the screenplay, Nana Patekar besides Jackie Shroff and Kapoor. "Pukaar" just missed out by a whisker. "Mr. India" was more fun than acting prowess. The kids were great and Kapoor anyways was mostly invisible, so won't qualify :) !! Awesome comic timing in "Khel" (copy of Dirty rotten scoundrels) and "Deewana Mastana" alongwith Govinda.

Other generous mentions would be Eeshwar, Benaam Badsha, Armaan, Kala Bazaar and Mashaal. Ohh..and here's an interesting yet useless piece of info - Anil Kapoor's "Woh saat din" having released in my hometown after a year of its release date, was supposedly my first movie in a theatre (read - baby taken to the theatre by parents, sleeping during the movie and crying intermittently much to the disapproval of the audience). And, No, i wasn't seven days old then !!