Say No to ‘No Smoking’

After two highly controversial films, although good films, ‘Black Friday’ and ‘Paanch’, Director Anurag Kashyap is back with his next film. ‘No Smoking’ seems to be Anurag’s commercialized attempt at Bollywood. Most people would go to see ‘No Smoking’ especially since it’s made by Anurag Kashyap who is known for his intelligent film making. The director might have made the film to make people aware of the dangers of smoking but the problem is the movie is too abstract to get the message across successfully.

I’ve heard of leave your-brain-behind movies but for ‘No Smoking’ no matter what you leave behind, it still is the most bizarre and confusing movie I have seen ever! Movies like Memento, Matrix, Schindler’s List were too, but in a smart and thought provoking way. This movie was ridiculous, laughable, illogical, chaotic, confusing and totally dispensable.

Psuedo-Intelligent crap is what I would call it. It’s a different style of cinema that Hindi cinema has ever done, but that’s not always a good thing. In his bid to be different, to be “artistic”, to break the set parameters, and to rebelliously defy all that is stereotypical, Kashyap goes over the top. He has made a film, which is hard to understand with no logical progression in the story. The plot keeps flitting from one situation to another – some amusing, some ludicrous. Different is NOT always good.

I always watch most hindi movies with an open mind to take as much BS as I can handle but this movie, however much you try to extend your creative and imaginative boundaries, it leaves you confused. No matter how hard you try to understand or even remotely digest it,  it just gets confusing and exasperating. First half of movie is slight promising but second half is a complete disaster. Overall, it’s just plain torture.

K (John Abraham) is a chain smoker and an arrogant man who likes to have his way, come what may.  Yes the character’s name is just K. No name, just an alphabet. His brother an asthma patient is G. In the first scene he emerges from a dream in his bathtub. It is a dream that haunts him. He is in Siberia dying to smoke a cigarette. But Russian soldiers, keeping him housebound, won’t let him do that. And they don’t mind putting a bullet into K to stop him from smoking.

In his plush apartment, K stands in front of a mirror, lights his cigarette, puts on his goggles and admires himself. He turns a deaf ear to his wife Anjali ( Ayesha Takia ) who is sick of his smoking habit. “No one tells me what to do,” he utters to himself in the mirror with a look of vanity in his eyes.

K is a compulsive smoker. So are his friends. Enter his weirdo friend, Abbas (Ranvir Shorey), a big time smoker turned non smoker who recommends a rehabilitation center to get rid of this bad habit. The place where he sends him to, is run by some strange Guruji Baba(Paresh Rawal) with his group of weirdo followers. K visits Baba’s pryogshala in the squalid interiors of a slum. It is a visit that turns K’s life around.

You slowly begin to realize that everyone associated with this “rehab center” has a hearing aid on, is missing a few fingers and has some family member in a hospital gravely ill and so on…..and from here the vague ride begins. This weirdo friend gets a parcel from the guruji as a thank you gift for referring K to him. And this parcel contains his chopped up fingers which as soon as he places in his hands, magically reattaches itself…nerves, muscles, bones and all. Just makes me proud to see Indian movies still showing such bull-crap.

He is forced to enter into a pact with this place according to which he will turn deaf if he smokes his first cigarette. If he smokes second cigarette, K’s asthmatic brother will be put in a gas chamber filled with smoke. If he smokes the third one, his fingers will be chopped off. If he smokes again, he would lose his wife forever.

How K’s life spirals into an inevitable doom after this pact is what the remaining film is about. By the time the movie ends, it is hard to ascertain what is K’s dream and what is reality.

The movie, for the most part, has a surreal look. Sadly, the story makes no sense. Some of the sequences are truly over your head. It’s a lame attempt at being cool and intelligent.

For instance, K’s wife is killed after he is forced to smoke a cigar. He is arrested by cops and put behind bars only to wake up in his bed with his wife sleeping alongside. Later, while running away from a Russian soldier in Siberia, K dives into snow, enters into water and emerges through a tunnel into the netherworld of Baba’s pryogshala. But there, K sees his own self on the other side of a glass. “That is your body,” K is told by another inmate. Then this “spirit” or antar atma of K takes a smoke bath like the Jews who were put in gas chambers by Hitler in the portions of ‘Schindler’s List’ shown early in ‘No Smoking’. The trouble with ‘No Smoking’ is that it rests on a concept that Anurag has stretched beyond its snapping point. Till the end it is difficult to comprehend what the director actually intended to show.

After many many ‘Memento’ moments, after many ‘I give up trying to follow this movie’ moments, after many’ What the F is going on’ moments, 2 hours have gone by and the movie ends when you think the movie is acually going start to make sense any moment now.

I would be crazy to rate it more than a zero.



It is the most violent, savage, cruel yet fascinating and passionate movie which will surely affect you in more than one way. It is a film that stays with you forever all attributed to it’s story telling that is just absolute perfection. There’s a savage magnificence to Apocalypto, with a kind of relentless excitement that only a few filmmakers can deliver.

Filming in the state of Veracruz and on the Yucatan Peninsula, Gibson and his production team transport viewers six centuries back in time to create an amazing ‘you are there’ effect. From the minute the movie starts till it ends you feel you are transported there. This movie is a visual communication between you and the Mayans. It almost creates an effect as though these Mayans actually existed and thrived today and they just made a movie out of them.

Apocalypto has all unknown, no-named actors. The movie itself is not over filled with dialogs or an other intrusions. It is to the point of being transparent, letting the actors and the scenery tell the story. The use of the Mayan language, with subtitles adds authenticity.

Here’s the gist : During the Mayan civilization, a peaceful tribe is brutally attacked by warriors seeking slaves and human beings for sacrifice for their gods. Jaguar Paw( the lead charector played brilliantly by Rudy Youngblood) hides his pregnant wife and his son in a deep hole nearby their tribe and is captured while fighting with his people. He then realized he is going to be sacrificed to Kulkakan, the Mayan serpent god, their hearts cut out of their bodies, their heads chopped off. An eclipse spares his life from the sacrifice and later how Jaguar Paw escapes from this fate, and his breakneck journey back to the ruins of his village is one of the most exciting sequences ever put to film.

I have no words to describe the grandiosity and magnitude of this film. For all the flak Mel Gibson has been getting in the last year, he is one genial filmmaker and he proves that over and over again. Be sure to watch the extras and bonus features in the DVD you rent. It is astounding what level of sophistication this movie deals at.

Apocalypto, like Mel Gibson’s previous films is very violent throughout. It isn’t merely fascinating, it is nothing less than one of the very best movies I’ve seen so far, and it contains some of the best foot chases in cinematic history. The whole movie will keep you hooked for the entire two hours. Ever scene will churn and twist your gut and your brain.

This movie about a civilization that is so ancient so ironically has so much relevance to times today where we desperately seek balance between violence and peace, war and life. This civilization that is said to be the most sophisticated, as depicted in this movie teaches us resilience, pride, patriotism, courage and just sheer will power. Read more about the fascinating Mayans.

Needless to say this movie gets a 10 out of 10.

Azhagiya Tamizh Magan

South Indian (Tamil) Movie Review

This is the latest blockbuster movie expectation for this Diwali season among a few other movies. So I decided to check it out. Unfortunately, I saw it last night. Yes, very unfortunately.

Let me start on a positive note by saying Vijay( usually whom I have low acting expectation of) has done his job quite well to my surprise! He has tried to get a bit out of his ‘style’ and ‘mojo’ venturing into some diversity and actual expressions. He succeeded well enough. He has decent great comedic timing and is very entertaining to watch in parts.

His dancing is astonishingly good as usual. He has outdone all his previous already pretty high class dancing skills. He is just phenomenally good ! The only highlight of the whole movie is his gravity defying, unbelievably fantastic dancing which disproves most physical impossibilities! He is getting better and better at it as time goes by. Kudos to Lawrence for the choreography without which there would be nothing left in the movie worthwhile.

Shreya the costar is astoundingly gorgeous. Nothing more to add in that front since she really can’t act. There’s no point beating a dead horse. Everyone(including the director and producer) knows that she can’t act, but that’s not what women are there in films for anymore. She does her part by dressing to the bare minimum and doing strategically (made for her) dance moves to the maximum. All looking ravishing and stunning. Balasubramaniam’s camera work is good, especially in song sequences.

Santhanam, the comedian was great to watch. He has some great timing and his presence in the movie surely added great value.

Now that I’ve gotten out the positive, lets get to the negative.

This movie may not be palatable to everyone but for those who suck up this brand of humor (which involves a heavy dosage of Shakila and Namita doing whatever it is that they do best) .

The story line is wafer thin, logic is non existent and the director and write of this film are totally dispensable! There are moments of funny throughout the film, although it probably forms around just 1 % of the movie. I don’t think anyone had a plan or a idea as to how to take the movie forward or end it. They seemed to have blindly exaggerated a one line story into 3 hours of totally messed up nonsense. If they did really have a plan and this movie was it, then Tamil cinema needs some saving!

Now over to the music. It seems to be a huge hit and everyone I know is raving about it. The whole city if chennai seems to love it. I guess I’m not current generation anymore because I didn’t get what all this rave was about. It was quite unimpressive, totally abysmal and mostly just loud noise.

But then again, people tell me its ARR, it will take time to get used to and I have to listen to it another 50 times to like it. But good music in my opinion does not need 50 listenings. It should capture you immediately. You may not understand the intricacies of the song the first time, but there should be some magic or some charm to at least capture you enough to want to listen to it 50 more times. I didn’t find one song worth even a second listen. The songs were picturized quite well.

The movie is 2 hours and 51 minutes of agony. Just skip all the mess and see if you can get your hands on the video of the songs. Watch it for vijay’s dancing and shreya’s sex appeal. That’s all there is to the movie.

Just for effort of making this movie which I understand is extremely hard work with blood and sweat effort of a few hundered people, I give it a 3 out of 10.

Cheeni Kum

In the last 5 years I have increasingly been disliking Hindi movies for two reasons : artificial westernization and lack of any human sensitivity or realism. Cheeni Kum totally broke this dislike streak I am on.

It is one of the most interesting, promising,touching and hilarious movies I’ve seen a long time! This movie is as natural and realistic as it can get. It captures human sensitivity and emotions very beautifully and realistically. Being a Hindi movie, it does have a touch of melodrama at times but all that is overshadowed by the well written script that is well executed with expertly etched characters and cast perfectly and played just right by Amitabh Bachan,Tabu and Paresh Rawal. The movie has been so well thought out to the finest details that even the smaller roles played by unknown actors play an important part in adding flavor to the movie.

Cheeni Kum is a witty, sarcastic and humorous love story between an older man and a young woman. The concept of an older man – young woman although no longer a novel concept in bollywood,  is tackled with great class by the writer and director Balakrishnan. It makes this topic, which is still taboo in India, very well presented, logical and accesable to the masses.

Buddhadev (Amitabh) is a 64 yr old bachelor who is sarcastic, quick tempered, impatient, brash, egoistic, self obsessed, overly proud and overtly arrogant at the same time a passionate, emotional witty and sensitive chef/owner of one of the finest Indian restaurant in London. Nina (Tabu) is a 34 year old realist from Delhi who is equally strong-headed, proud and dynamic. Against all odds and despite being polar opposite personalities they fall in love. Apart from the older man – younger woman taboo whats wrong is Nina’s father(played by Paresh Rawal) is only 58. Of-course that becomes a huge problem with the father and the Indian ‘society’. The rest of the story is how they sort things out, how all the characters cope with their lives and how it all shapes up.

The screenplay has very uniquely witty dialogues and various unusual relationships which is a very rare find in hindi movies these days.  The first half of the movie is all plain amusement, comedy and romance and the second half is a bit more serious with a hint of melodrama. There are moments in the second half where you can almost see a ‘typical Hindi cinema’ moment with logic-less sentiment but it quickly moves back into the pleasant comedic story telling making you forget that brief melodramatic moment.

In Indian movies romance is hardly funny. It is always corny, overly dramatic and extremely cliched. In this one, witty repartees fly around , all conversations drip with sarcasm and wry humor, thanks again to the well written script.  

One of THE most important and pivotal role in the movie is played by the music and background score. It is brilliantly done by the Maestro, the epitome of pure musical genius: Illaiyaraja. He proves yet again that there is no one to beat him when it comes to background scores and precisely capturing the mood of the movie. His music steals every scene in the movie and gives life to the movie.

The only negative things I have to say about the movie:

I couldn’t keep my eyes off Bachchan’s pigtail ( not in a good way!) It was the ugliest and most distracting pigtail I have ever seen. Why did they have to give him a puny pigtail?

Into half the movie, for a brief while when their “relationship blossoms” and goes to the next level, I was very worried that they were going to make this a sex comedy, instead of the mature classy comedy it was until that point but it stopped with a brief scene of Amitabh going to pharmacy to buy a condom! Thank god for that!

I rate this movie 8 out of 10.

White Light/Black Rain

On the 62nd anniversary of the bombings in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, this movie provides a graphic, unflinching look at the reality of nuclear warfare through first-hand accounts of both survivors and American men who carried out the bombing missions. I saw this movie special on HBO last night and I’m still not out of its effect. It is one the most disturbing, sad, horrific yet real, touching and emotional narration.

This film shows in detail the story of one of history’s monumental tragedies very similar to what the book “Night” by Elie Wiesel” does for the holocaust. This book is a narration by Elie Wiesel (one of the few survivors) of the horrors in the Auschwitz concentration camp and his life through it.

This movie draws a similar parallel with a heart-wrenching, compassionate and compelling story told by the 14 survivors who are still living only to re-live this horror in their life over and over again.

140,000 died in Hiroshima, and 70,000 in Nagasaki. The other surviving civilians survived only to die soon after due to the effects from the bombing. That accounted for another 160,000 deaths. 

Even after 62 years, surprisingly, most people know very little about what happened on August 6 and 9, 1945, two days that changed the world. This movie is a comprehensive, straightforward, moving account of the bombings from the point of view of the people who were there. This movie presents riveting personal accounts, it reveals both unimaginable suffering and extraordinary human resilience.

Sakue Shimohira, ten years old at the time, recalls the moment she considered killing herself after losing the last member of her family “I realized there are two kinds of courage – the courage to die and the courage to live”

Other survivors include: Kiyoko Imori, just blocks from the hypocenter, the only survivor of an elementary school of 620 students; Shigeko Sasamori, 13 years old at the time, one of the 25 “Hiroshima Maidens” brought to the U.S. for plastic surgery; Keiji Nakazawa, who lost his father, brother and two sisters, and devoted his life to retelling his story in comic books and animation; Shuntaro Hida, a young military doctor at the time, who began treating survivors immediately after the explosion and continues to provide care for them 60 years later; and Etsuko Nagano, who still can’t forgive herself for convincing her family to come to Nagasaki, just weeks before the bombing.

In addition to physical suffering, survivors were later subjected to intense discrimination from fellow Japanese, and received little or no help from the Japanese government.

The four Americans profiled are: Morris Jeppson, the weapon test officer on the Enola Gay mission to Hiroshima; Lawrence Johnston, a civilian employee of the University of California, which manages Los Alamos; Harold Agnew, a scientific advisor; and Theodore “Dutch” Van Kirk, the navigator who believed the mission would end the war and save lives overall.

With a calm frankness that makes their stories unforgettable, the survivors bear witness to the unfathomable destructive power of nuclear weapons. Their accounts are illustrated with survivor paintings and drawings, historical footage and, photographs, including rare or never before seen material.

This is a phenomenal film by a genial director Steven Okazaki. The most popular argument that aurrounds this whole monumental tragedy is “Did President Harry Truman’s decision to use the bomb shorten the war and save lives, or was it a horrendous war crime that cost the lives of more than 350,000 civilians?”

These arguments, Okazaki believes, have diverted us from looking at the horror of what actually happened, which only increases the risk that it could happen again.

Today, as global tensions rise, all this one again becomes a possibility. The urgency of the warning conveyed in this movie  by a comment from one of the four Americans: “We have opened Pandora’s box, and the genie can’t be stuffed back in the bottle.” strikes a scary possibility in today’s world.

The movie runs on HBO, and there are many shows in the next coming weeks. Click here to see when this movie airs.

As a human being, you owe it to yourself to watch this film. It is so much more than politics and war. It is a matter of life and death.

*Facts and Information from


Edward Norton and Aaron Eckhart are two of my favorites actors and they are highly underrated….which sucks big time. In this current trend of overhype and people becoming popular and getting fame/money just for the sake of it with merely no talent, here are two great actors. Greatly versatile and hence show immense diversity in the kind of movies they do. It is an absolute pleasure to watch them both on screen.

I loved Edward Norton in

-Primal Fear
-Fight Club
-The Score
-Death to Smoochy
-Red Dragon
-The Italian Job
-The Illusionist
-The Painted Veil (his most recent one)

 and Aaron Eckhart in

-Erin Brockovich
-Nurse Betty
-Supspect Zero
-Conversation with other women
-Thank you for smoking (My Review)

His upcoming movie is ‘No Reservations’. It looks like yet another steroptypical romantic comedy, but I’m going to watch it, just for him.

Thank you for Smoking

This movie is an absolutely rare, astute and witty comedy that will make you laugh and think real hard.  It is directed by Jason Reitman based on the novel of the same name by Christopher Buckley. Its a wise, sly, smart cruel yet funny take on spinning of truth and absolute perfection in PR which is the current trend in society. Apart from all this, what I loved about this movie is its style. Its like none other.

Plot : “Nick Naylor(Aaron Eckhart-my favorite but generally underrated actor) is the chief spokesman for Big Tobacco, who makes his living defending the rights of smokers and cigarette makers in today’s neo-puritanical culture. Confronted by health zealots out to ban tobacco and an opportunistic senator (William H. Macy) who wants to put poison labels on cigarette packs, Nick goes on a PR offensive, spinning away the dangers of cigarettes on TV talk shows and enlisting a Hollywood super-agent (Rob Lowe) to promote smoking in movies. Nick’s newfound notoriety attracts the attention of both Tobacco’s head honcho (Robert Duvall) and an investigative reporter(Katie Holmes).  for an influential Washington daily.Nick says he is just doing what it takes to pay the mortgage. Along the way, he brings his own son and attempts to teach him the ways of a lobbyist, but even more importantly, the ways of a human being living in the Unites States of America. But he begins to think about how his work makes him look in the eyes of his young son Joey (Cameron Bright).”

Nick Naylor is not egotistical or conceited but merely an objective observer of his own excellence. It is the purpose of the movie to humble him, but he never grovels, and even in a particularly nasty situation is still depending on his ability to spin anything to his advantage.

“Thank You for Smoking” targets the pro-smoking lobby with a dark appreciation of human nature. One of my favorite scenes in the movie is the first one where Nick Naylor(Eckhart), a spokesman for the Academy of Tobacco Studies is on “The Joan Lunden Show”(a mock talk show) , sitting next to bald-headed little Robin, a 15-year-old boy who is dying of cancer, “but has stopped smoking.” Nick rises smoothly to the challenge: “It’s in our best interests to keep Robin alive and smoking,” he explains. “The anti-smoking people want Robin to die.” Totally makes sense doesn’t it? He says “what do we the tobacco company gain out of this boy dying? It only means that much less sales for us. If he were alive he would be smoking more. The anti-smoking people on the other hand want this boy dead to prove their point”.  There are a million more such dialogs in this movie that’s the pinnacle of this movie’s excellence.

I love this kind of movie! It’s a breeze to watch, it’s packed with all kinds of fantastic witty, exciting and smart dialogue. It features a ton of engaging actors playing entertaining characters. It’s talking about something that isn’t commonplace in movies nowadays. Its one of those very few movies where once you’re hooked, it keeps you on there throughout and keeps adding more wit and excitement. Eckhart’s speech to the young kids in school is priceless.  Another of my favorite scenes.

Aaron Eckhart is just something else! He always was one of favorites and he never disappoints. This movie is a classic example. Phenomenal is the word to describe him. Somehow he makes his lead character, an anti-hero  – the man hired to convince everyone that smoking cigarettes is “all good” , finaly sympathetic, likeable and goddamn charming! 

Everyone knows cigarettes can kill you, but they remain on sale and raise billions of dollars in taxes. The target of the movie is not much about tobacco but more about lobbying in general. Which along with advertising and spin-control makes many evils palatable to the people. How can you tell when something is not good for you? For ANY product, great efforts( and millions of $$) are invested to convince you it is harmless or beneficial as much they lobby that its harmful. Consider the ” incredible egg” or the “Drink responsibly.” Prescription drug prices being doubled “to fund research for better health.

Irony?  Yup, that’s world today. Life of Ironies.

This movie gets a 9.5 out of 10