Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Planes: Delightful for kids

Director: Klay Hall                                                                                       
Cast: Dane Cook, Stacy Keach, Carlos Alazraqui, Priyanka Chopra

Disney’s new 3D animation Planes has everything to entertain the kids right from colourful planes, to swanky races and aerial action over swirling oceans and impressive landscapes. Although the plot is predictable and involves the triumph of the protagonist against all odds, the animation is replete with the message that a fair and just competition can also be friendly competition and need not involve jealousy and sabotage.
While Planes seems to fall short of Disney’s previous venture Cars and has been hailed as a rip off by many, it does not fail to entertain. Comedian Dane Cook infuses life into the lead character of Dusty, a crop duster plane that dreams of being in the big league and racing across the globe in spite of his fear of heights. With help from a WW2 veteran plane Skipper and friends Chug (Brad Garrett) and mechanic Dottie (Teri Hatcher), Dusty participates in the international flying race Wings around the Globe to compete against planes from all over the world.
While the more powerful planes fly high, Dusty flies low over the ocean and takes the railway route instead of taking on the Himalayas because of his fear of heights. With breathtaking visuals and Dusty’s unrelenting spirit, this film is sure to win the hearts of the young audiences although it does not entirely capitalize on 3D.
The addition of international planes brings a motley group of characters to the film from the British Bulldog (John Cleese) to the smitten Mexican El Chupacabra (Carlos Alazraqui) and our very own Priyanka Chopra as the Indian Ishani among others. While Priyanka’s accent is not stereotypically Indian, the film strategically uses a repetitive sitar strain to mark her entry and also regales the Indian audience with an aerial scene over the Taj Mahal with Rehman’s Tere Bina from Guru in the background. Incidentally, Priyanka has also lent her voice for the song ‘Fly High’.

In the end, Dusty is not just the farm boy or the underdog who triumphs against all odds and cunning, but also the plane that achieves more than what ‘he is built for’. While the film encourages its viewers to not be deterred by skepticism in following their dreams, it also emphasizes the importance of empathy over a selfish victory.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Chennai Express

Director: Rohit Shetty
Cast: Deepika Padukone, Shahrukh Khan

Touted to be an action comedy, Rohit Shetty of Golmaal fame brings to screen the much speculated about Chennai express. While the trailer doing the rounds of social networking sites received a lukewarm response especially when it came to the representation of Tamil culture and Deepika’s accent, the film as such has fared much better with the first half outshining the second.
Registering an opening record of Rs. 33 crore, Shahrukh has shown that his fan base is still intact and silenced skeptics who perceived him as the aging romantic hero. While Shahrukh Khan believes in having his female co-star’s name before his in the credits, Deepika seems to have taken that lead rather seriously by giving a delightful performance that brazenly eclipses the King Khan on several occasions.

In a tongue in cheek reference to many of his earlier films, SRK’s character is again called Rahul while Deepika plays Meenamma a South Indian belle and daughter of a village don in Tamil Nadu. Rahul, a 40 year old Punjabi bachelor is entrusted with the duty of immersing his late grandfather’s ashes at Rameswaram although he is more interested in a vacation at Goa with his friends. En route the Chennai Express, he meets Meena who is on the run from her cousins who want her to get married to another don.  

While the plot is a no brainer, the film’s success rests entirely on the comedy arising from the North South clash factor. Rahul constantly tries to outsmart the South Indian mob and sometimes even does an over-the-top act to regale his audience. The vehicle chase sequences, cars and people flying in the air and muscled goons are inspired largely from South Indian celluloid violence. Although your patience wears thin in the second half, other cinematic elements bolster the film. Music by Vishal-Shekhar boasts of a couple of good tracks like ‘Titli’ and ‘1 2 3 4 Get On The Dance Floor’ while cinematographer Dudley’s picturesque scenes of the South Indian landscape are a visual feast.

If you ignore the clich├ęs and the predictability factor, this film is the perfect Bollywood potboiler and a masala flick with all the right doses of comedy, romance and action.