Tuesday, June 23, 2009


99 isn't the funniest film of the year, nor is it always 'pure fun' as the black and red posters of the film would have us believe. It is however a smart, warm and generally amusing piece of work in the crime caper genre and is worth a watch.
The film revolves around 2 small time scamsters, Sachin (Kunal Khemu) and Zaramud (Cyrus Broacha), who are forced to work with the endearingly phsychotic bookie AGM (Mahesh Manjerakar). When the bookie sends our boys out to Delhi to collect payment from a congenital cricket gambler Rahul (Boman Irani), things get interesting. The money is lost, then found, then lost again and then.. err..you guessed it.. found again. The last gambit involves the gambler and the 2 crooks teaming up against a big time cricket match fixer/bookie to recover the lost money. Thrown into the mix is the scene stealing Kuber (Amit Mistry), a small time Delhi bookie to whom Rahul owes money..(is there anyone in the film that he does not?), the pretty hotel receptionist Pooja (Soha Ali Khan), who wants to break out on her own, preferably to open her own coffee shop, much like Sachin, the disconsolate Mrs. Rahul (Simone Singh), who has walked out on her husband because of his compulsive gambling habit and the big boss of the cricket match fixing game, JC (Vinod Khanna), who desperately wants to beat Rahul at cards after having lost to him earlier.
Things take some time to pick up here, so don't expect a laugh riot from the word go. The first hour is spent etching out the characters and their motivations. Its towards the middle of the film that the real action starts with the boys reaching Delhi. Not to say that the film is beyond flaw. The romantic track involving Sachin and Pooja is totally unnecessary and slows down proceedings considerably. The music isn't phenomenal either, with only the song 'Delhi Destinty' being airplay worthy. Direction wise, the debutantes Raj Nidimoru and Krishna DK are pretty good and the film is well shot, slick and well packaged. But its the actors that come up trumps here, with natural performances from Khemu, Irani, Mistry and Manjerakar. Khanna is functional while Khan is adequate. Broacha is perhaps the only weak link this ensemble, but shows significant promise in some scenes. One wonders why there was a need to further pad-up an already XXL Cyrus?

Time well spent, this film. Watch.



Saturday, June 20, 2009

A quick Kolkata trip and some lost treasures

Kolkata for a week is never enough, but this trip was somehow satisfying. The parents are in the process of moving house and there was a bit of excitement there...what with setting up the new place and all, buying some furniture, helping set up the completed portions, choosing the curtains, lighting etc. Also managed to finally tick off some long standing to-dos. But the big surprise lay elsewhere. In an old store room, locked up in a tattered suitcase. My parent's entire LP record collection. Almost all of them in good condition! Just touching the vibrant full colour packing covers brought back wonderful memories of lazy afternoons in Kanpur/Madras/ Calcutta spent listening and trying to memorise some of these very songs. A really interesting mix of music there...given dad's passion for old film music and mom's more western tilt. Some of the records I can remember from the 70 odd that I found are:

1. Tom Jones - She's a lady
2. Usha Iyer - Scotch and Soda, Love Story and others
3. Neil Diamond - The best of
4. Paul Anka - The best of
5. Boney M - The best of
6. Pink Floyd - Piper at the gates of dawn
7. James Last - Trumpet a go-go
8. Yehudi Menuhin/ Ravi Shanker - Improvisations /East meets west 3
9. Nancy Sinatra - These boots are meant for walking - original 1966 release edition

1. Satte pe Satta
2. Piya ka ghar
3. Salil Chowdhury and the Calcutta Youth Choir - Modern bengali songs
4. Anand
5. An evening with Mohd. Rafi
6. Bade Ghulam Ali Khan - Legends
7. Lata Mangeshkar - Classical evening

Here are some pics.
Now all I need to do is find a record player. Any ideas where?