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Sionara, How I Met Your Mother

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Kids, let me tell you a story about How I Came Across A Show. The year was 2005. With Friends coming to an end, people needed a new great sitcom that wasn’t a cheap knockoff of the former. Enter How I Met Your Mother, created by then relatively unknown duo of Carter Bays and Craig Thomas. It kept the friends-hanging-in-a-bar/coffee-shop crux intact, but it’s narrative was what set it apart from anything that came before it. Rip-roaringly funny, crazy  characterization, yet all the while with a solid emotional under-current, everybody knew that a worthy successor to Friends had been found.

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Cut to its series finale on present day, 31st March 2014, and that show is nowhere to be found. Gone are the guffaws, the emotional payoffs, the beloved characters. All that is left are the bare bones of a once brilliant show that wore-out it’s welcome.

Kids, let me start from the beginning. The show was about Ted Moseby (Josh Radnor) who, just like me, is trying to bore his children to death by telling them a story that eventually turns out to be quite inconsequential. His tall tale is about how he met their mother (the show’s title is a big giveaway). Most of his stories involve him hanging out in a bar with his four friends: Marshall and Lilly (Jason Segel and Alyson Hannigan), Barney (Neil Patrick Harris) and Robin (the gorgeous Cobie Smulders), who he proclaims, in the very beginning itself, is not their mother.

This guy, Ted, was an extremely desperate (nice) guy, hunting like crazy for the love of his life, all the while being in love with Robin. But there was something about him, this recognizability, this earnestness, that made you root for him to get the girl. You wanted him to find this woman and live happily ever after. But by the end, I was left so exhausted by his pursuits, I felt like slitting my throat before I ever got the chance to meet your mother. So, by the time the mother was introduced in the 9th year, I couldn’t care less about her.

Marshall and Lilly went from lovable couple to creepy like a serial killer pair. What do I say about Robin? At first, every time she flashed her charming smile, I couldn’t help but just be transfixed by her. She eventually turned into a bitch that I couldn’t care less about. It didn’t help her cause that her musical chairs with Ted went on a 1472 times too long. Barney is probably the only character that didn’t deteriorate as exponentially as the others. He went from that sleaze-bag with the funniest jokes to that good-at-heart sleaze-bag whose jokes are pretty much hit-and-miss (more misses than hits).

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To be fair to the show, it was an absolutely howlarious one till about the end of the 4th season, with the 2nd season being the best of the lot. During this duration, the show had some brilliant running gags: the pineapple incident, the slap bet, the red boots, the “blah blah” girl, Swarley, and Ted referring using drugs as “eating a sandwich” to his kids.

But somewhere along the fifth season, the show went into a downward spiral, never to recover. In fact, with each passing season, the show gathered more and more  momentum in its journey downhill, till the point where I rolled my eyes in a single episode more times than I laughed in an entire season.

Kids, to cut it short, I’ll come to the final season. When I had first heard that the entire season would be set across one weekend (Barney and Robin’s wedding) at a resort, I was suddenly hopeful. I knew that the format was going to be untenable for an entire season, but I was hoping against hope that the writers would come up with something ingenious in line with the show’s earlier days. The final result was arguably the worst season of the show. The flashbacks were poorly constructed, they hardly had anything left to say anymore, none of the new running gags were remotely funny, and the flashforwards were mostly uninteresting. The saving grace in the awful final season was Cristin Milioti’s performance as the eponymous mother, earnest, fresh-faced, charming and mildly funny, which is a compliment.

Ah, the double episode finale. It was everything it shouldn’t have been. One solitary laugh, courtesy Neil Patrick Harris, shoddy direction, emotionally manipulative, and wholly predictable. Not to brag, but two theories that I had about the show’s end both came true (*pats himself on the back with proud tears in his eyes*). But what shocked me the most were the lack of substantial screen-time for the mother and the framing device they ended up using for the finale. Considering that the creators had this ending in mind since the beginning of the show, you’d think it would be better thought out. Nope.

Kids, sadly, they never ended up explaining the pineapple incident, though they do reveal the mother’s name and the slap bet comes to an extremely tepid end, as does the show. You can’t help but feel sorry for the show, which turned into a victim of the network it aired on: a network that was determined to wring every single penny out of their flagship hit show, in the process tarnishing its legacy. I’m relieved that the show finally came to a merciful end. It’s spinoff, How I Met Your Dad, is set to premiere this September. Till then, ciao. *sigh*

PS: Just to get this off my chest. If this show had been about Yudhishtir, it would’ve been called ‘How I Bet Your Mother’.

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©Piyush Chopra for PosterGully.com

pchopra1693@gmail.com

Movie Review: Total Siyapaa

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So, my friend and I exit the theater after watching this film when a car passes bye, splashing dirt on our clothes and faces. My friend says to me in a tone dipped in irony, “this is exactly how I felt while watching this movie, like someone was throwing dirt in my face”. That’s when I drop to the ground, roll around in the mud, get up and say to my friend in a tone as flat and serious as John Abraham at any given moment, “this is how I felt while I was watching the movie”.

Okay, maybe my reaction may have been a  figment of my imagination. But that shouldn’t take away from the fact this movie is bad enough to trigger schizophrenic attacks in the sanest of people. I may have been the most tolerant person towards Pakistan that I knew of, but if this is the kind of films that India produces, then Pakistan ain’t sound so bad.

Yaar, the concept of an Indo-Pak love story is so ripe with infinite possibilities that even mathematician couldn’t keep track of them using permutations and combinations. Plus, the idea of setting the whole movie throughout the duration of one night made the thought even more delicious. But director Eeshvar Nivas bungles the film so blatantly that a gully cricket match between India and Pakistan would make for better entertainment. Apart from Shool all those years ago in 1999, he has not managed to make a solitary respectable film in the past 15 years. So, why should it change now?

Here, he expertly sidesteps any funny situation that could’ve arisen from the plot and setting itself, and puts the actors in scenarios that are tailor-made to make the audiences pull their hair out. The writing is extremely consistent on the pathetic side, the background music is perfectly suited for a television cartoon show, the film is as dull as watching an ant crawl up a wet wall, and it is as racist as my uncle who fought in the war against  Pakistan. At one point during the film, I rolled up the film tickets into a cigarette, clenched one end tightly between my teeth and started pulling on the other end till either the tickets tore or my teeth broke. Lucky for me, the paper quality today is deteriorating.

Serves me right for actually expecting a Hindi movie to be good. A funny trailer, a charming actor in Ali Zafar, Yami Gautum looking yummy, Kirron Kher looking in her element, and u actually started to believe that we could have a fun, light-hearted film about the amnesty between the two warring nations. But, they used up the exactly 3 good jokes in the entire film in the trailer itself. Ali Zafar plays the exact same character he has played in every film of his, barring the extremely underrated London Paris New York. While the sweet-guy-with-the-charming-smile act worked very well in Tere Bin Laden and Mere Brother Ki Dulhan , especially the latter, it falters stupendously in this film. Yami looks yummy (sorry, I just have one joke on her), but the less said about her acting, the better.

Kirron Kher, too, plays the same character of the Punjabi mother with the thick accent that she played well in Dostana and to perfection in Ajab Gazab Love (her performance was the only good thing in the latter film), but she is saddled with the worst lines of her career in this film. It’s a miracle that she still manages to make you laugh on occasion, purely through her expressions. Anupam Kher, her real-life husband, is there in this film too. In completely unrelated news, I may never be able to look at him the same way again. The rest of the actors are probably retards picked up from a mental asylum, having been promised a stroll on the London Bridge in return for acting in this film.

I usually end all reviews with a summation or a final verdict or something else that you don’t give a damn about. But since this film is the worst thing that’s happened to me this year (joint 1st position with Gunday), even though I got slammed into by a car a month ago, I couldn’t care for spending another second writing about this film (especially since in my head, I’m still covered in mud). So, just stay away it. Or whatever.

Rating: 3.5/10

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©Piyush Chopra for PosterGully.com

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Highway – Thumbs Up or Thumbs Down

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What the hell is up with Bollywood, yaar? It’s starting to behave like a pregnant woman with severe mood swings. One week it gives us a film like Gunday, a film so bad that it actually felt proud of itself for being so worthless. The very next week, it gives us Highway, an ambitious, dark, completely off-beat love story. The former brought all Bollywood supporters to their knees with shame, while the latter marks a proud moment for Bollywood, never mind if the film is good or bad.

The film follows Veera Tripathi, a girl kidnapped a day before her wedding by Mahabir Bhaati and his goons, and is held for ransom from her rich and influential father. The film is once again a road-trip film, a favorite genre of director Imtiaz Ali, whose every film so far has had a road trip angle to it. Yet it is in no way similar to any of his previous films. Some people make an off-beat film just for the sake of being different. But here, Imtiaz Ali actually wants to explore a darker theme than just show off, in the process making his most accomplished and probably his best film to date.

The film floats the idea of freedom in captivity, experienced by a girl who had lived a sheltered (unhappy?) life to date, always wanting to run away from home and the claustrophobia it represented. It explores a situation in which a kidnapped person falls in love with her own kidnapper. To show such a bold and previously unexplored-in-hindi-cinema topic, the director had two options in front of him: either show the process of falling in love gradually and take the risk of making a flabby film, or quickly establish it on the strength of his actors and risk straining people’s belief. He chose the latter option, which is quite ironical (more on that later). What works against him are the facts that first of all, he treats some scenes with an unsure hand, making the circumstances far from convincing at times. Second of all, not many Indian people are familiar with such a situation of a person falling in love with her kidnapper, which makes them more prone to not accepting what is happening on screen. Not many people know that there is actually a psychological diagnosis for such cases, called the Stockholm Syndrome (for more information, please Google it).

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But what works for him, though, are the strong performances of all the actors involved, from the two leads to the smaller players in the film. Also, this is a rare, if not one-of-its-kind case, where the interval actually works in favor of the film. I was slightly unconvinced when the lights came on during the interval. But as I thought back to the different incidents that took place during the first half, I got more and more convinced about the positions of both the lead characters.

Alia Bhatt is like a possessed woman in this film. The depth of her performance takes you completely by surprise. While she was definitely better than her male counterparts in Student of the Year, I definitely never thought she could give such a versatile performance in her entire career, let alone her second film itself. Accepting this role could have jeopardized her reputation as an actress, had she not managed to pull it off correctly. But she took the risk of going sans-makeup, pro-acting and she should reap its rewards for a long time to come. The transition from prim-and-proper in the beginning to disheveled-and-loving-it  is done brilliantly by her, and she deserves brownie points for the 5-minute long monologue she delivers during the climax of the film. Plus, she looks cute as a button, which always helps.

Randeep Hooda probably gives the  performance of his career. I’ve always known him to be a superb actor, but what he manages to achieve in the role of a Haryanvi kidnapper with past demons is worth applauding. He plays his character perfect to the T, from being a hard-ass who snaps at everyone in the beginning, to a gradually melting person falling in love with someone he shouldn’t even be talking to. Before he had met Alia’s character, he was defined by his hatred for the rich, but he finds himself changing, whether he likes it or not. This inner conflict is brought out by Hooda in a riveting  performance.

What is ironical about Imtiaz Ali taking the shorter route in establishing the love angle is that he cuts corners at such an integral junction, yet stretches the film to the point of exhaustion towards the end. 15 minutes shorter, and this film could’ve been a game changer. Instead, he tries to milk the drama to get people misty-eyed, when he could’ve arrived at the same junction by sharper editing and more impact. It was the same issue with his previous film Rockstar, where he didn’t know where to draw the line and end the film. But admittedly, he did a better job as a director on that film, although Highway ends up being a much better film.

In the end, it’s the film’s own ambitiousness that leads to it’s downfall, but better being  overambitious than having none at all. The film is nothing if not inconsistent. But it boasts of a decent soundtrack, dark humor, a novel concept and probably the strongest all-round  performances by a leading pair in a recent Bollywood movie. It deserves to be seen, if only for the debate it is likely to cause amongst the viewers.

Rating: 6.5/10

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©Piyush Chopra for PosterGully.com

pchopra1693@gmail.com

Hasee Toh Phasee Review : Sidharth Malhotra Needs Revital Pills & More

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Okay. First things first, I want to get this out of the way: this movie has the worst fucking title in the history of titles. It has absolutely no relevance to what happens in the film. The words “Hasee Toh Phasee” are just said out alo…

“OH MY GOD SOMEBODY DO SOMETHING ABOUT SIDHHARTH MALHOTRA HE’S LOSING ENERGY!!”

..ud twice by a secondary character with a lisp, who I suspect was added to the film solely for the purpose of establishing a link between the film and the title.

The film begins with Sidhharth Malhotra about to marry his girlfriend of 7 years when her sister (Parineeti Chopra), a runaway from home, returns to the scene. Adding to the problems is that she is on some kind of pills that lead her to act strangely.

In his debut film, director Vinil Matthews deserves a lot of credit. He gives the movie an unconventional setting, with the film not being a typical girl-meets-boy story. It’s more like girl-meets-boy-love-prospective-marriage-boy-meets-sister-love-marriage. He also mana…

“SOMEBODY GIVE SIDHARTH MALHOTRA SOME WATER HE LOOKS LIKE HE COULD FAINT ANY SECOND!!”

…ges to keep all the cards to his chest for the majority of the duration.

He is in no hurry to throw the 2 leads into romance anytime soon. In fact, the romantic feelings surface well into the second half of the film. He and screenplay writer Harshavardhan Kulkarni let events take their own course, concentrating on Parineeti looking to mend things with her father first. They rely heavily on Parineeti Version 2.0 (when she’s on the pills) to create most of the laughs. And wow, does she manage to do that. As the drugged-up, neurotic…

“JUST GIVE SIDHARTH MALHOTRA REVITAL PILLS YA HE’S SINKING TO HIS KNEES!!”

version of the character, Parineeti is a riot. From the body language to the expressions, she’s just exemplary in those portions. When she’s off the pills, she’s a complete contrast, solemn and sweet, which makes the whole scenario even more funny. Parineeti Chopra has managed to give 4 fantastic performances in as many films, which is 2 more than her sister Priyanka has managed to give in her entire career.

Sidharth Malhotra, on the other hand, seems lethargic at best. He’s expressionless…

“PLAY SOME YO YO HONEY SINGH MUSIC IT’LL ENERGIZE SIDHARTH MALHOTRA YO YO HONEY SINGH ROCKS LOL HE DOESN’T!!”

…hardly moves if he doesn’t have to and delivers most dialogues in a monotone. He got away with it in his debut, since he had Varun Dhawan to be compared with. But opposite Parineeti, who has frantic and infectious energy that spills over out of the screen, he looks as comfortable as if he was caught in public with his underwear around his knees.

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Blemishes in the film? The whole Republic of China subplot is amusing at first, but it gets a bit tiresome by the end. Also, there are too many songs in the last quarter of the film, which slows down the pace of the film (although, it’s after a long time that Vishal-Shekhar have impressed me with a film soundtrack, with “Drama Queen” and “Ishq Bulaava” being exceptional songs). Finally, the ending is a tad clichéd, especially since the director had managed to keep away from predictability till that point.

So, I saw this film in an almost empty multiplex screen, and I don’t blame people for not being interested in watching this film. After watching the terrible trailer, I had no intention of watching this film, till motherly affection got the better off me. From the point I sat on that seat before the film began, I didn’t regret a single moment of having watched this film. It’s fun, whacky, full of clever characters (including a guy who breaks into Anu Malik songs on the drop off a hat), and is the most fun you’ll have in a cinema hall for some time to come. A character in the film says that pimples break out on her face if she watches a film in 3D. It’s the same with me, 3D is terrible. But this film isn’t in 3D. So, preserve your skin, go with your family and enjoy this joyride, if only for Parineeti’s smashing performance and a confident debut by director Vinil Matthews.

Rating: 7.5/10

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