Film Review: Bollywood Venetian escapade loses plot in the city of romance

The movie has a short 98-minute run time. (Image supplied)
Updated 13 February 2019
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Film Review: Bollywood Venetian escapade loses plot in the city of romance

CHENNAI: Director Anand Surapur’s Bollywood film “The Fakir of Venice” has a great theme, a magical location and two fantastic actors in Farhan Akhtar and Annu Kapoor.
Yet the movie’s short 98-minute run time feels stretched, mainly due to the script’s poor development of the main characters.
Based on a true story, the film premiered at the Venice Film Festival back in 2009 but, strangely, only hit the theatrical circuit last week. Sadly, Surapur’s work has not aged well.

Set in one of the most romantic cities in the world, Adi Contractor (Akhtar) and Sattar (Kapoor) arrive in Venice as tourists of sorts, but with the motive of making quick money.
Akhtar, playing his debut role, is perfectly cast as an Anglo-Indian trickster and movie production fixer, who gets the chance of a lifetime when a Venetian gallery commissions him to find an Indian fakir (religious ascetic who lives on alms) to pep up its installation art exhibition.
After a fruitless search for a holy man, Adi finds one, but a fake, in his own backyard in Mumbai. He is Sattar, who has spent most of his poverty-stricken life scratching a living by entertaining passersby by burying himself in sand.
Adi drags Sattar to Venice, where the man is touted as a sage with divine powers. However, Adi’s deception starts to unravel when Sattar becomes unwilling to cooperate with the con trick and turns to drink.
To pull off their plan, the two men must learn to shed layers of deceit and move toward understanding themselves, and each other.
The story has a message that cannot be ignored, but there is still a tendency to view it as mere exotica.
The film is poorly shot, despite the dream location, and with Rajesh Devraj’s shoddy screenplay reducing the lead parts to caricatures, the narrative gets lost in the multitude of waterways and alleys of Venice.
It is quite possible that Akhtar and Kapoor would now be embarrassed to admit they were once part of this Venetian escapade.


REVIEW: Second season of Sacred Games mirrors the ills of today's India

Updated 17 August 2019
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REVIEW: Second season of Sacred Games mirrors the ills of today's India

CHENNAI: The first season of “Sacred Games” last year was a hit, and the second edition, which began streaming on Netflix on Aug. 15, may be even more so.

The eight episodes explore some of India's most pressing current issues such as a nuclear threat, terrorism and inter-religious animosity dating back to the country's 1947 partition. It. It also addresses how religious men can indulge in the most unholy of acts, including helping corrupt politicians.

Some of the greatest films have had conflict and war as their backdrop: “Gone with the Wind,” “Casablanca,” “Ben-Hur” and “Garam Hawa,” to mention a few. The second season of “Sacred Games” also unfolds in such a scenario, with terrorism and inter-communal disharmony having a rippling effect on the nation.

Directed by Anurag Kashyap (“Gangs of Wasseypur,” “Black Friday”) and Neeraj Ghaywan (“Masaan,” which premiered at Cannes in 2015), the web series, based on Vikram Chandra's 2006 novel, unfolds with Ganesh Gaitonde (played by Nawazuddin Siddiqui) escaping from prison and finding himself in Mombasa. He has been carted there by an agent of India's

Research and Analysis Wing, Kusum Devi Yadav (Amruta Subhash), who forces him to help find Shahid Khan (Ranvir Shorey), the mastermind behind bomb blasts and terror attacks.

In Mumbai, police inspector Sartaj (Saif Ali Khan) has just two weeks to save the city from a nuclear attack, which Gaitonde had warned him about. Both men love Mumbai and do not want it to be destroyed. But religious extremist Khanna Guruji (Pankaj Tripathi) and his chief disciple Batya Ableman (Kalki Koechlin) believe that only such a catastrophic destruction can help cleanse society and bring a cleaner, saner new order.

A narrative of deceit, betrayal, love and longing, the second season has a plodding start, but picks up steam from the fourth episode, with Sartaj and his men racing against time to find a nuclear time bomb that could wipe out Mumbai. Crude dialogue and a constant doomsday atmosphere could have been avoided, but riveting performances by the lead pair – Khan and Siddiqui (though he is getting typecast in this kind of role) – and nail-biting thrills make this Netflix original dramatically captivating.