Monday, April 23, 2012

Create, procreate, recreate!

Film Review: Vicky Donor

Cast: Ayushman Khurrana, Yami Gautam, Annu Kapoor
Produced By: John Abraham and others
Directed By: Shoojit Sircar
Music: Abhishek-Akshay
My Rating : 4.5/5

Ayushman Khurrana has 'come' of age (No pun intended). If you are a cricket fan, you may remember this excessively handsome, intelligent, and witty young man from Indian Premier League (IPL) 2010. He hosted several matches and became very popular in that season. I was quite disappointed not to find him in the following years of IPL and wondered where this ‘dude’ disappeared! Not for long. The fellow did his homework right and got himself this unconventional launch as the protagonist in ‘Vicky Donor’.

How many debutants would dare to get introduced in a movie like this I wonder!! Most would prefer to get safely unveiled under a Yash Raj banner or a predictable yawn-worthy mushy drama or some multi-starrer where the Khans, Kapoors or Kumars play the lion’s share of the meaty role! That’s where Ayushman scores with a big thumbs up- for daring to debut in Vicky Donor. The debutant heroine Yami Gautam is impressive too and the two share a lively onscreen chemistry. As Ashima Roy, her acting skills are notable and some of my male friends already find Yami ‘yummy’! The lady reminds me of ‘Gayatri’—the beautiful female lead in 'Swades' who packed off from Bollywood as soon as she arrived even after a dream launch! Hopefully we will see more of the graceful Yami in Bollywood in the years to come.

The characterization in the movie is commendable. The roles are sketched to play meaningful characters and yet the treatment is light. When they gel in the story, we create a hilarious impact and yet convey a positive social message to the audience. John Abraham has surely chosen the right first film to produce! The script is novel and the approach is fresh, funny, and thought-provoking. Kudos to the director for portraying a taboo topic like ‘sperm donation’ with such √©lan and confidence!

Annu Kapoor is a doctor who runs a ‘fertility’ clinic where he helps childless couples conceive. In other words, he finds them a ‘sperm donor’. At the start of the movie, we see Dr. Chaddha (Kapoor) tensed as most of his clients complain about no pregnancy even after coming to his clinic. Some even threaten him with dire consequences. Annu tried his best to explain to the clients that even after sperm donation, 100% fertility cannot be assured. Simultaneously, he starts searching for a ‘productive’ sperm donor and chances upon Ayushman who looks to him as the perfect ‘procreation’ machine. The movie progresses with Chaddha trying to convince Vicky (Ayushman) to donate and how Vicky keeps dodging the doctor till he finally agrees to give it a shot. The scenes are knit together with great deft; and humor sprinkled here and there make the audience break into splits of laughter.

Ayushman and Yami stand out with their acting skills. Annu Kapoor is commendable. Also special mention for the ladies who play Vicky’s mother and grandmother. The scene where the two Punjabi women share a drink in the evening behaving like perfect ‘bewras’ is wonderful! The modern tech-savvy grandmom who dreams of a 42 inch flat TV and a Ritu Kumar dress is a darling. It is great to see elderly women being portrayed like ‘normal women’ with an inclination for alcohol and not getting bullied by the typical 'emotional baggage' that most Hindi movies depict all the time.

Also a special mention for the gentleman who play’s Yami’s father and the lady who plays her aunt. The Bengali duo have acted splendidly. The show-down shown between North Indians and East Indians (read Punju Vs Bong) is hilarious, healthy and in good taste. The movie takes a light-hearted dig at the ‘cons’ of each culture and glorifies the beauty of both. So on the one hand, we have the show-off Punjabis accepting a divorcee Bengali girl as their daughter-in-law. On the other hand, there is the conservative Bengali dad who encourages his daughter to accept Vicky as her husband, regardless of his ‘sperm-donor’ status. Love wins over all and cultural barriers are meaningless there—that’s what Vicky’s mom and Ashima’s father bring to the fore. The stereotyped rhetorics are absent and this tussle between the cultures is great fun! Probably that's the real USP of the movie :).

Of course the movie also has its flaws and tends to get too filmy at times. But if you overlook those, you have a racy script, a fresh concept, brilliant acting, full-on humor and total entertainment for 2 hours—that sums up Vicky Donor.

Ayushman Khurrana certainly has a very bright future ahead. He has lent his voice to one of the songs and done the lyrics for it too. Good luck to this talented new kid on the block!

The movie is highly recommended.  

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Back to School...

Saturday morning 5. 45 am! I don't remember when I saw that last. May be on a vacation to witness the Sunrise or decades ago--to get ready for school! On Feb 25, 2012 it seemed like I was reliving my school days. I was up in the morning and running to school! And all this thanks to the lovely kids of Navjivan school, Mumbai.

Though my association with the school was temporary and I met my students only on Saturdays over 4 months, we spent a lot of time having fun. I was associated with this school as a voluntary teacher on the Teach English Project, part of an initiative by an NGO, Dharma Bharathi. Thanks to the socially aware organization I work with, I met this NGO through a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiative. The introduction was through another reputed NGO- ivolunterers.

The project concluded on Feb 25 with a gala Annual Day function. The venue was an auditorium in Chembur, Mumbai and students from 12 schools that have been adopted by Dharma Bharathi participated. My students stole the show on that day. We had three performances-- a drama, duet song, and a group dance.

The group dance set the stage on fire and the audience requested a repeat performance. So, these little bravehearts waited till the end of all other performances and a rather lengthy awards ceremony to go up on stage again. They were tired, hungry and some even sleepy. But the combined energy and positivity they exuberated was exemplary. The enthusiasm to go up on stage again kept the tired faces smiling.

At the end of the program, we volunteers teamed up again and the whole gang returned back to our favorite Navjivan school laughing and singing all the way. The to-and-fro bus journey was great fun and the children never got tired of yelling, giggling, smiling and pulling pranks :). I totally understand how satisfying and yet tiring it is to be a teacher and manage 50 odd students in a class!!! At the corporate world. we make such a hue and cry about team management and project management and blah... but managing Class V to VIII students is quite a challenge :p.

When we bid adieu to the students, all of us felt very bad. Ankur Goyal from our team got the Best Volunteer Award from our school.

Prakash, Ankur, Nehal, Mahesh, Ritu, Prateek, Rakhee, Suneeta and I- along with all other vounteers - were thinking how fast these 4 months had passed. Kudos to Ajay Dhooth--the coordinator from our school who made this event a grand success. He also bagged the best Project Coordinator award at the function. 

Last but not the least, had it not been for Kajol Basu--our main support and the organizer of the whole event on 25th Feb, our students wouldn't get a chance to perform. Kajol worked relentlessly over months to bring us all together, impart sessions to us on how to teach, seek feedback from us at regular intervals and send us training material. Hat's off to the tenacity and determination, she surely qualifies to be a new age social reformer.

I hope we have another program with the students again next year. All volunteers thought 4 months was quite less to bring the children totally up-to speed with an almost new language. So, investing at least a year would be more meaningful. So, I'll wait till next year's plans open up.

Till then, I wish my students luck, love and laughter! God bless the angels always. Amen!

Here are some pics I clicked to capture moments from the D day and on the final day of rehersal:
Bharatmata- the showstopper of the group dance
Make up session

Sankesh who played Hindi Professor at the play
The awesome children as audience
A glimpse from the Group dance

and another
The 'porey porey' boys set the stage on fire

The Drama team in action

Magic show for the kids
Dance Rehersals

Volunteers chit-o-chat

Grabbing a quick bite

Naughty and lovable young heroes