Chehre

Vampire Owl: How many faces do we see here?

Vampire Bat: The faces of humans do not matter at all.

Vampire Owl: I am sure that it would matter to us more at some point.

Vampire Bat: The human identity is no longer significant in a world of chaos.

Vampire Owl: Well, at least we can know the lying faces early.

Vampire Bat: Well, it is the only thing that humans do throughout their lives.

Vampire Owl: I did trust too many humans, and that has made a mess. They are the true villains of all realms.

Vampire Bat: Humans are all about lying, cheating and stealing. Being the villains of the universe comes naturally to them.

Vampire Owl: Well, I would say that demons are better.

Vampire Bat: Let the zombies for eat their brains then.

[Gets an orange cake and three cups of cardamom tea].

What is the movie about? :: Sameer Mehra (Emraan Hashmi) is forced to travel through some strong winter in the mountains. He wishes to go to Delhi, but is forced to stop in the middle of nowhere, as the climate only gets worse, and his car is stuck, with trees right in the front. He searches for a hotel or a guest house to wait until the tree is removed by the authorities. He then comes across Paramjeet Singh Bhullar (Annu Kapoor) who asks him to join come to a friend’s place until things get any better, even though there are not signs of something like that happening. He is taken to the house of Jagdish Acharya (Dhritiman Chatterjee), and he also meets Hariya Jatav (Raghubir Yadav) there. Anna (Rhea Chakraborty) is already present there, helping everyone in the building, who are pretty much old. The mobile phones have no network connection out there, and the landlines also do not work, much to the dismay of Sameer who wishes to connect to his wife.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: The group of old men is also joined by Lateef Zaidi (Amitabh Bachchan), who reaches there despite the snowfall getting much worse. Sameer is surprised to see everything that happens around this house in the middle of nowhere, which is nothing less than a grand mansion of some older time period. They tell Sameer that they meet there and play a strange game in which these retired professionals of law conduct mock trials. They take some very old well known case and go on with the same. In the beginning, they talk about the case of Phoolan Devi, but later chooses Sameer as the accused. Sameer says that he hasn’t committed any crime, and is ready to face anything that is put in front of him. He is confident that he will win the game, and none of these people are good enough to pose any challenge to him. But there is more than what meets the eye to these people in the mansion.

The defence of Chehre :: What works really well for Chehre is its setting in the middle of nowhere, with snow all around, and the building is also a thing of visual splendour which we cannot avoid. Everything is perfectly suited for what is to happen next in the film. It also seems to come up with a message, even though it seems to be confused about where that is leading. But it never leaves the messages behind, that is for sure. The film does stand for the right judgment and the need for justice to be served, even though it seems almost impossible to be done when law has its loopholes. The cast is also nicely selected here, and we see the signs of the same at different moments. It does need some courage and skill to create something like this which go highly unconventional, and one cannot deny the fact that there is some good research done in the background – the risk does have its own effectiveness to go with it.

The claws of flaw :: The initial introductory dialogue by Amitabh Bachchan during the beginning itself is one of the least interesting starts to a film, and it keeps us wishing to fast forward throughout those dialogues. There are many other dialogues which were not necessary, and often goes out of the equation, seemingly just for the sake of bringing them. Too much speech here adds to the struggle, which also lengthens the film too much. When you keep talking too much without coming up with any action, people can only be confused. Preaching doesn’t always get you were you want. It also struggles to use most of its elements in the best possible manner, even though there were indeed the available opportunities. This could have been something like Pink, or something stranger than we could ever imagine, but the same is not done here. There was even scope for bringing something supernatural into the scene.

Performers of the soul :: Amitabh Bachchan controls things around here, and he makes things clear from the beginning itself. We have seen him doing this a lot, in different movies belonging to various decades. The rest of the support including Annu Kapoor, Dhritiman Chatterjee and Raghubir Yadav are very much suitable for how the game moves on. They are all different when we look at them, and have some interesting perspectives. Emraan Hashmi is also pretty much suitable for this kind of role. Siddhanth Kapoor plays a mute role, a notable one indeed. Rhea Chakraborty shows some promise, but the role is not carried on that much, even though the world could have had more for her. Krystle D’Souza makes a bigger impact, as she blends in very well to the character. There is a certain amount of mystery about her character, and even with some predictability, leaves one with more than what originally meets the eye.

How it finishes :: Chehre is a mystery thriller which can surely boast about its moments, and even though known as an uncredited adaptation of a German novel named A Dangerous Game by Friedrich Durrenmatt, makes its point well within its adapted environment. During the days of COVID-19, containment, quarantine and lockdown, we all love to watch movies set in remote worlds. It is a fine decision to release this movie on Amazon Prime Video, some days after its release in the theatres, as we are yet to see the theatres being opened here. We do know that the movie could have been much better, but for now, we adjust with what we have, and enjoy it in moments. After all, the world as we know it also has had its own limitations in the last one and half years. Nothing is the same any more, and we enjoy what we have here, with less than three months to go to end another year of virus and all kinds of terror to behold.

Release date: 30th September 2021 (Amazon), 21st August 2021 (Theatre)
Running time: 139 minutes
Directed by: Rumi Jaffery
Starring: Amitabh Bachchan, Emraan Hashmi, Krystle D’Souza, Rhea Chakraborty, Annu Kapoor, Raghubir Yadav, Alexx O’Nell, Sameer Soni, Dhritiman Chatterjee

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

<— Click here to go to the previous Hindi film review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Smurfs 2

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There are times when people think that a sequel is necessary for every successful movie. Such sequels often go bad, as they are more of repetitions and imitations of the first – but this one manages to hold its ground, not with full strength; just marginally. It has forced itself on the viewers, and has often succeeded with its funny dialogues and the incredible cuteness which it has developed, with an inherent goodness and a little stupidity which gets overshadowed by their aversion towards evil, unlike the minions of Despicable Me 2. That should make this the perfect movie for kids, as there is the moral side which is strong, and everything else goes on depending on this side of the good. Well, The Smurfs 2 is highly dependent on what the first movie had given the viewers, and in the process of making this sequel, it has copied almost everything from The Smurfs and has presented it in a slightly different manner. The advantage that we achieve with the same is that this one is an even better story in morals, and it is further preachy in nature as it goes on and on. There is divine justice as well as the poetic justice, but not without the actions from our little and bigger heroes does fate and destiny dare to intervene.

The Smurfs 2 is a collection of escapism and childish fantasy. It has done enough to have almost every child drag their parents into the theatres to watch some cute little blue creatures. They have also tested the same on the older one very well, as there is a certain amount of nostagia of childhood that seem to affect the grown ups too, and if this was released before Despicable Me 2, the scope would have been higher. They had taken on New York earlier, and now they are at Paris. The little blue creatures have tried their best, but lacking in bringing innovation and originality, this movie had to try and bring a smile to the face of all the viewers, and once again, the result is effectiveness of a lesser scale. If one didn’t watch the first movie, the probability of liking this movie might even go higher. There is a good explanations of the things that go on with this world even in this movie. There are so many occasions when a predecessor’s shoes are good enough, but shouldn’t they have tried to remove the dirt in the same instead of throwing more on it, in a huge variety of colours? May be colourful dirt is good – at least its not bad or evil, and there is a little more time to be sure about that.

Years have passed after the group of smurfs got sucked into a gigantic vortex which brought them to the new world of New York City. Smurfette is shown to suffer from an identity crisis, as she is having nightmares about betraying her fellow Smurfs and getting them captured by Gargamel. At the same time, the Smurfs are preparing a surprise birthday party for Smurfette. But as nobody talks about her birthday and keeps it a secret, she feels that they have forgotten the day and don’t consider her as one of them. She feels that she is neither here nor there, as neither the daughter of Gargamel or Papa Smurf, created by one and given the life of a Smurf by Papa Smurf. She had been an instrument to distract and trap the Smurfs, but now she is claimed as one of them, but the doubts in her mind never ends. She wanders away from the village thinking about the same. Meanwhile, Gargamel has become a famous magician in Paris, but he is running out the Smurf essence and thus losing his magical powers. With his new Smurf-like creations, who are called the Naughties – Vexy and Hackus, Gargamel plans on opening a portal to the Smurf village and get the Smurf formula by kidnapping Smurfette who joined the other side. But he doesn’t have the magical powers to create a portal big enough for him to enter, and he sends Vexy who goes through it and successfully tricks the first Smurf lady through the portal as she wanders around alone.

The Smurfs are alerted, and Papa Smurf uses his magic to create crystals that would allow some of his best Smurfs to go back to the human world, but through an accident, Clumsy, Grouchy and Vanity ends up travelling to the modern world rather than Brainy, Hefty, and Gutsy. The four Smurfs arrive in the apartment of Patrick Winslow (Neil Patrick Harris) right after the birthday celebration of his son Blue (Jacob Tremblay) who has been named after them. They also meet Patrick’s stepfather Victor Doyle (Brendan Gleeson), whom Patrick hates and wishes to keep away from his family. The Smurfs join with them as well as Patrick’s lovely wife Grace Winslow (Jayma Mays) and goes to Paris where the sorcerer has set up his abode. The team manages to sneak through the backside of the magic arena of the villain, but fails to find Smurfette. Meanwhile, she joins with Vexy and Hackus in fun, and almost forget the Smurf life. Gargamel and his cat Azrael try their best to get information out of the Smurf lady, and at the same time, the human gang and the Smurfs tries to get through to the secret lair of Gargamel. In the battle for Smurf identity and Smurfy existence, there is a lot at stake including the Smurf lady as well as the whole Smurf village.

So, this movie running just a minute more than its predecessor, is no entity which can be considered different from the first movie. Its twelve percent approval rating at the Rotten Tomatoes comes as no surprise, even as that is a little harsh considering how much goodness this movie carries, or at least attempts to hold in itself. Its best moments are recreated from the first movie, and it fails to exist as a thing of innovation. With the large number of animated movies releasing these days, this half-an-animation might be a little repetitive in a less interesting manner. We already saw The Croods, Despicable Me 2, Monsters University, Epic and Turbo making impact this year, and this movie tries to impress kids in the same way. But how much can the kids take? They have a similar movie coming up each month which gives them their good time in the theatre. It is us horror fans who have less for our liking. We are fed with one movie, once in five months or so, in the form of The Conjuring, and that too should have been cut so much that there is that new question about what the horror really is. I guess we don’t count anymore, and the animated movies are the new, profitable trend – if the superhero movies don’t have anything to say against that claim; ask our beloved Man of Steel who lost his underwear in his effort to match a Dark Knight who rises.

Smurfette is the central character of this movie, and the second significant one is Vexy, voiced by Katy Perry and Christina Ricci respectively, bringing the whole new sisterly Smurf relationship to the movie series. The best moments though, belong to Vanity Smurf and Azrael bringing good laughter through their pride and fall. Neil Patrick Harris as Patrick Winslow has a lesser role to play in this sequel as his character looks more hammered into the middle of the world as a misfit, and Jayma Mays as Grace Winslow has even lesser to do this time. Brendan Gleeson as Victor Doyle brings some fun right into the middle of chaos. Hank Azaria as Gargamel continues to keep us interested even as the villain seems to be more of a clone of what he was in the first movie. But we can’t avoid Gargamel and his sorcery that easily, as the man continues to be the villain that he was in the first movie. Azrael the cat could have had a little more screen-time to make the most out of it. The movie should have found something smurfantastic, but it takes the easy way out, as the movie starts in an ordinary manner and ends in a predictable manner. Whatever happens in the middle tries to hold this world together.

Even with some good 3D effects, The Smurfs 2 fails to get rid of all those things which might have added negatively to the first movie. But all the good things are still there. With The Conjuring on the other screen, this would attract the families with kids, that’s for sure. But the fact remains that Pacific Rim, The Wolverine and Man of Steel haven’t disappeared yet as expected. Therefore, the choices are there, and this movie has to strive hard. The big shock might be that there is the little presence of Despicable Me 2 somewhere around. But The Smurfs 2 is new and they got style, colour and a cute and easy to pronounce title which rhymes with Surf Excel, our common detergent powder which has attacked the television screens without mercy. With its ordinary moral story which keeps you smurfed, smurfized and smurfined, the question would remain if they could have waited a little more and come up with a better sequel of excellent content. The little blue creatures have more potential than this, and we can only hope that the third movie of the series would fulfill it. Until then, one has to adjust with this movie, and I am sure that it won’t bore you to death – it doesn’t make you feel awesome either.

Release date: 31st July 2013 (USA); 4th August 2013 (India)
Running time: 104 minutes
Directed by: Raja Gosnell
Starring: Hank Azaria, Jayma Mays, Neil Patrick Harris, Brendan Gleeson , Jacob Tremblay, Nancy O’Dell & a big number of voice actors including Katy Perry and Christina Ricci

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

David

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The Vampire Bat was re-introduced into this world, but he is struggling to be a movie-watcher with so many horrible movies around. David was a relief, and therefore he shall write about it, but considering the fact that only seven of the fourteen movies he watched in the last thirty days managed to be satisfactory, he surely wishes to sleep for a century and wait for that day when no movies are made. There should be discount for tickets for the Vampire Bat, for he saves so many movies of the world from being left unwatched. He is doing a great service, for which even free tickets might be not enough. May be free tea with tickets would do. The Vampire Bat shall look towards the firmament for now and wait for that moment when it starts raining movie tickets.

Why wouldn’t the Vampire Bat be disapponted. He had to watch Race 2 – old wine in an old bottle, while Kammath and Kammath and Lokpal were old wine in older leaking bottle. Natholi Oru Cheriya Meenalla was more like fish out of water gasping for air. While Da Thadiya had fish evolved with legs and thus made good contact with the people of the land, this little fish could make not keep people of the land or a flying Vampire Bat interested. Midnight’s Children had already lost its battle in a comparison to the novel. The Vampire Bat has been digging his own grave so that he could be buried in there forever, until something called David came to his attention. Then he went to watch it in Hindi and ended up watching it in Tamil. But it is not something he complained about, as he enjoyed the movie and considered it the best Indian movie he watched so far this year even as there is a long way to go.

What do we know about David in movies? There was the 1988 Malayalam movie David David Mr. David starring Balachandra Menon and Sumalata. But that would be totally unrelated to this one. Then there was King David of Bible, the ruler of Israel. The righteous king even with all his flaws, the warrior poet was mostly responsible for the Book of Psalms. But that was never the beginning, as the story of David and Goliath might be of more popularity. How it would relate to the upcoming Malayalam movie of the same name will be another story. Back to the original story, there stood Goliath, the strongest and the tallest of all, and there was young David with his sling and stones. Then fell the strongest; and the weak became strong. This has been repeated in the history with the rise and fall of huge empires all around the world.

The Hindi version has three Davids, but here there are only two to deal with. The first one belongs to 1999 Mumbai. He is a musician just like the Biblical figure. But his peaceful life is disrupted when his father, a priest is attacked by an anti-Christian group as part of communal politics. The second one belongs to 2010 Goa, a fisherman leading a happy life. He falls in love with a deaf and dumb girl who is soon to be married to his good friend. Both of them have to make decisions which will change their lives forever – one of them seeking revenge while the second one seeking love. But both of them would be committing their own acts of evil which they might repent for the rest of their lives. The battle is between the conscience and desire – between goodness and the basic desires. The world around plays a major part in dragging them to both sides. But eventually what triumphs forms the central point of the story.

Both Davids have to face their own inner demons which take the form of Goliaths – one of revenge and the other of lust (the one-sided infatuation based on looks could never be termed as love, but as sin – for King David himself had committed adultery with Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah and later married her). The same David had killed her husband, a murder which one of our Davids would have also committed. Even as the external opponents, the minions who are responsible for this situation of revenge to be created – they look stronger in the case of the musician, but the internal demon would work better in the case of other. The ultimate result of the battle against the two demons occur only in the end, even as the scene is shown to be set right at the beginning of the movie. It is the battle of the two Davids against two Goliaths, both internally and externally. This is a battle which is fought both physically and mentally, but is finally won in the mind.

Vikram has once again proved that he is such a versatile actor. Even as he is shown mostly as an alcoholiac, his character is never boring or withour passion. Jiiva has come up with a strong performance too. There are moments of pure awesomeness in the movie. The rest of the cast has successfully supported these two, on whom the stories are based on. It might not still be found an entertainer but I never found it boring at any moment. The transition between the stories are quite well done, and as both of them keeps the interest-level high, there is not much of a confusion in the change. Last year, we had Cloud Atlas which had too many stories to deal with. After that experience, one couldn’t be blamed of being confused and left in a slough of strange thoughts. This one has just two – both of them simple and never leaving the audience in an abyss. This is an inner journey of twins of the situation who never meet.

There are the messages of morality, making it nothing less than a morality play indirectly transformed to suit the modern world. There is good and there is evil – but as said in Anne Rice’s Interview With the Vampire: “Evil is always possible, and goodness is eternally difficult”. In the same book, Vampire Lestat had also added that “Evil is a point of view”. As the movie agrees with the first, I wouldn’t say the same with the second. If there was something like a point of view involved in it, the first choices would have been to succumb to revenge and lust. The first one would have been righteous payback and the second one irresistible eternal love. Some of the jokes are too foolish to suit the philosophy of the movie, but the rest add to the lighter side and throughout the movie, there is this eternal battle and the question “to be or not to be”. But our musician is no Hamlet and the man you saw at the beach is no selfish lover. There is a warning though – if you are allergic to moral advice and preachy tone can give you head ache, this movie might create no waves in your head filled with that “point of view”.

Release date: 1st February 2013
Running time: 127 minutes
Directed by: Bejoy Nambiar
Starring: Vikram, Jiiva, Isha Sharvani, Tabu, Lara Dutta, Sheetal Menon, Nishan, Nassar, John Vijay, Shweta Pandit

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.