Stanley ka Dabba

Stanley ka DabbaIt’s good to see sensitively made movies that aren’t a sob-fest come out of Bollywood. After Udaan and perhaps Taare Zameen Par (a bit of a sob-fest), Stanley ka Dabba is one that was a very good watch. Not because it dealt with the issues of child labour, but purely because of the positive attitude of Stanly (Partho).

A very well chosen ensemble cast also ensures that when Stanley is or isn’t on screen, the movie doesn’t drag or lag. Divya Dutta as the loving teacher is indeed lovable except for the occassional hamming bit. Mrs Iyer (the Science teacher) is someone all of us have had at some point during school. And much as we always hated Mrs Iyer, she did have our interests at heart.

Khadoos or Mr Verma, the Hindi teacher, played by Amole Gupte is truly a unique character. You hate him when he scolds Stanley. At the same time, he endears himself when you when he chases the kids during lunch. But in the end, you just feel sorry for him. There’s a good reason he must be chasing the food. But that’s never brought to the fore. And finally when his guilt makes him overwrought with grief, it is a touching letter he leaves behind for Stanley.

The movie’s premise is quite simple. Stanley wants to protect his background. No one at school except perhaps the principal is aware of his situation. And this isn’t made entirely apparent throughout the movie; it’s just a hint. Despite his situation, Stanley is always upbeat, always happy and intent on making everyone laugh. Not since perhaps Bawarchi has laugher been converted to tears so easily.

There was always the possibility of this being a serious film, but being handledd the way it has been, it is a pleasure to watch. It’s also hard to write a review without giving too much of the plot or spoiling it. So I’ll stop right here with a strong recommendation to watch it. Whether you have kids or not!

KwK: Yawn

Koffee with Karan (KwK) was an entertaining show. His inside knowledge of Bollywood made him the best suited interviewer in a long time. He didn’t have the finesse of Simi Garewal and thankfully, he didn’t have her stuck-up-ness either. What the show offered was pure fun. Friends chatting over coffee (or koffee).

Now, it’s back for a third run, and it’s boring. For one, most of the guests have been repeats. The combinations of guests will change and the whole show may make you feel like you are an unwelcome guest intruding on a private conversation, but it’s all still fun. If your idea of fun is watching paint dry, that is!

You know, it’s all well and good to show off that you know the guests intimately, but hey, we’re not getting anything new. One has to ask if the show is intended to give the viewer an insider’s look into the lives of these celebrities or if it’s a feel-good exercise for the guests on the show. In the second season, it was great to watch what the general public felt about the stars being interviewed. To achieve this, the KwK team visited popular destinations in Mumbai (read Fun Republic, Link Road, Andheri West). And in Season 3, they do the same. That tells me that the definitive public voice emanates from there and that the rest of us don’t matter. Not that K-Jo cares. He’s happy in his little world.

So please tell us… are we part of this conversation or are we eavesdropping? We won’t be rude, Karan… we’ll move away.

Rock On: Natural, yet contrived

Rock OnAs I watched Farhan Akhtar’s acting debut Rock On, I couldn’t help but draw comparisons with Tom Hanks’ That Thing You Do. The plot is pretty similar, the situations too. The good thing is that they are localized well.

Without questioning the authenticity of the situations (for example, if one assumes the group was together 10 years before the current time frame, that would be in 1998… when were there open air concerts at VT station in Mumbai?), one has to look at the story its telling. Which is one of friendship. But the suddenness of the break in friendship is jarring. As is the unquestionable nature of the reunion. Continue reading “Rock On: Natural, yet contrived”