I humbly admit I was among the ones voicing you to give up India’s test captaincy. We’re a bunch of crazy cricket fans, Dhoni. It was tough to see our team bundle out in 3 days in a format supposed to be played over 5 days. We blamed you for a batting line-up that will make a 100 run partnership only be surrendered in the next 100 runs. You were criticized for a bowling attack which would make the opposition’s tail-enders feel proud of their batting average. Given the experts we are at jumping to conclusions, for reasons best known to us, we believed removing you from captaincy will solve all our overseas woes. But now since you’ve done exactly that, it doesn’t make me happy either. Am sad because your sudden exit didn’t give me a chance to savor a uniquely remarkable man who, out of the blue, will keep a leg slip instead of conventional slips. Or, someone who’ll stand 10 feet back to Ravindra Jadeja and at the stumps to the pacer Bhuvaneshwar Kumar. Am sad because now I won’t be able to hear someone from behind the stumps, playfully sledge ”Iss ghanti ko jaldi se out karo” while Ian Bell’s batting. You must have realized this Dhoni, throughout your 6 years of captaincy career that it’s extremely difficult to make us ‘happy’, come what may. We easily transform ourselves from supremely satisfied to angry and violent to expert cricket commentators (In that order) just on a trivial but a natural transition of our team from few wins to few losses. We were not convinced either when you were first made the captain of the 2007 T20 World cup, just months after our 2007 ICC World cup debacle in the Carribean. But, our dissent wasn’t totally unsubstantiated. Afterall, what did we know about you then? Except that you were an upcoming, long-haired, powerful cricketer who struggled his way to make a place in a team studded with legends? Except that you hammered 183 against Sri Lanka a year back? Were these strong enough reasons to warrant you as a captain of our world cup team played in a format we were still alien to then? We doubted you Dhoni. We doubted that decision when you gave the last over of that memorable T20 World Cup to Joginder Sharma, a bowler who’d probably struggle to even qualify as a part-time bowler is some teams. Right from giving Ashwin the final over in a low scoring ICC champions trophy finals to discovering ”the bowler” in Yuvraj Singh to give us the 2011 World Cup, you dared to deviate from normality to make some remarkable decisions very few captains would dare. Now, when I Iook back into the hindsight, it hurts too see the same decisions which didn’t pay off, being dissected and ridiculed by our so called arm chair experts. This was probably the saturation point which prompted you to arrive at the inevitable. Right from your weird looking batting technique to you calling it a day in the middle of a series, you were you Dhoni. A poker faced, calm and a grounded leader who always trusted his instincts more than what normality demanded. Though it will be refreshing to see a young, aggressive Kohli take over the side, but the Indian cricket will soon realize what it has lost. I personally never imagined someone would be able to enter my heart which is already filled with greats like Sachins and Dravids. Yes, you couldn’t replace them. Instead, you made my heart grow bigger.
Even more eager now to see you marshal our troops at the 2015 World Cup.
Till then, Love.
-An Ardent Cricket Lover.
December is a special month for Bollywood lovers as it usually signals a Amir Khan flick. After a mediocre Dhoom 3 last year, the expectations are even higher this time; especially when you realize that teaming up with Amir is one of India’s finest Director/Producer/Storyteller Raju Hirani. Though far off from his previous gems like Lage Raho Munnabhai and 3 Idiots, PK is a winner for reasons more than one.
PK (Amir Khan) is a naked, blasphemous, elephant eared, bulging eyed alien who loses his inter-galactic transmitter ( Remoteva ) just moments after he steps on Earth. Coming from a planet where people don’t lie, he sets himself to find his remote and soon learns that only God can help him to find his device which will help him to get back to his planet. So, he moves to Delhi in search of God; only to realize there are many Gods and the ways to reach them are different. Oblivious to the different ”rules” for each God, he gets chased by religious fanatics for asking innocuous yet offensive questions making him believe his name is PK- which is actually a common tantrum hurled on him by these fanatics.
The first half is packed with some sharp dialogues which will make you smile but sting you from within. The funny looking self defence techniques and the ways in which our hypocrisy and obsession about religion is exposed will make you cringe like a child who is exposed in front of his parents for his mischiefs by a school teacher.
Pk is without a friend till he meets Jagat Janani aka Jaggu (Anushka Sharma), who plays a struggling news anchor set out in search of a ”story”. She has just returned to Delhi post her failed marriage with Sarfaraz, a Pakistani working part-time in Belgium. Confirming Pk’s story is true, she decides to help him find his remote which is with Tapasviji (played by Saurabh Shukla), a rich godman who milks blind-followers with his frivolous stories about religion.
Post interval, the movie gets predictable with Pk getting back his remote and Jaggu his love (Sarfaraz); courtesy of a one to one confrontation between Pk and Tapasviji which leaves the Godman exposed during a television prime-time. Set out to re-iterate the beautiful message already given in Umesh Shukla’s Oh My God that Religion not God is our country’s real problem, the movie slightly deviates from its path with an unneccessary superfluous romance between Jaggu and Pk. But these post interval hiccups are shadowed by some stellar performances from the leads which keeps you engaged till the end. Hirani’s familiar faces Boman Irani (Jaggu’s Boss) and Sanjay Dutt are charming while Sushant Singh Rajput is very likeable in the limited role offered to him. Anushka does full justice to her well etched character Jaggu, but the real glory is left with the central protagonist Amir Khan who is by far the heart and soul of this film.
A humdinger of a last scene makes a fitting end to this movie where Jaggu’s dialogue, ”Pyaar karna seekha ke gaya aur jhooth bolna seekh ke gaya” leaves you with a moist handkerchief and a lump in your throat. You, most likely won’t like the average musical score and probably forget the message too.. but this innocent, Bhojpuri speaking , paan chewing character will stay with you for a long time. Hatsoff to Rajkumar Hirani for making this wonderful eye opener in a country which is over-sensitive about religion.
It’s getting tough to see Saif’s performances go spirally downwards in a genre he’s most comfortable with. Just in case if movies like Love Aaj Kal, Race and Cocktail have become a distant memory, we have once again Saif as Yudi Jaitley, playing the role of a rich phoren based Indian womanizer who sulks at the thought of love and commitment. He is an easy going, party drinker who had his moments of fame when his book ”Operation Payback” became a bestseller in Los Angeles (where he lives currently) 5 and a half years back. He is rich, enjoying his life with his bff Montu (Ranveer Shorey) who plays a boorish, freedom deprived, henpecked husband. Just when Yudi pities Montu for his life not being ideal like his, Yudi gradually goes since broke as he not written anything in the last 6 years. His publishers have left him and are now with the new bestseller romantic writer Aanchal Reddy (played by Ileana D Souza) who ironically believes the opposite to what she writes. Naturally, Yudi hates her but will eventually fall in love with her. The first half is really dull, save for some inspiring performances from Shorey and Vishakha (Kalki Koechlin), who is a bubbly, ever smiling girlfriend (one of the many) of Yudi.
Yudi, in hope to make money and save his sinking ship, meets Armaanji (Govinda), a rich aspiring bollywood superstar to present him with a ”kickass” rom-com script. Yudi, deprived of any new gf and still unclear about his relationship with Vishakha, hits out at Aanchal, whose modern views about relationship matches with his. The rest of the movie goes pretty predictable which begins with a lazily captured road-trip to a room sharing and eventually to a one night stand which strictly isn’t supposed to be mistaken for love or any sort of commitment. The progress in their relationship is shown in the form of a rom-com script which Yudi writes for Armaan. Yudi, like his previous failed attempts, is unable to give his life a Happy Ending, until his alter egoYogi with his prophetic words, makes him finally realize that he is in love. The ending is cliched with the protagonists realizing they are in love only when the heroine reaches the airport.
Ileana’s chemistry with Saif for most part of the movie is painfully cold, making you almost crave for her acting to be as good as she looked. You’d be almost battling yourself to resist checking your WhatsApp amidst a very poor musical score, their strip poker sessions and their dull predictable conversations, which ironically are never about their profession. In the end, much is left to be said about Vishakha and Montu and their friendship with Yudi. The film had his moments, thanks to Govinda who still possess that ooze of charm accompanied with a natural comic timing. Yet, even with a modest running time of 136 minutes, the film feels painfully long. Much more was expected from the film-makers of gems like 99 and Shor in the City, and more so from the man who has given us roles like Langda Tyaagi in the past.