Saturday, December 31, 2005

Bluffmaster: a much-delayed review

Tell me what a good movie means, to you, and I'll tell you where a good movie's playing.
That, in essence, is the magic of cinema. Or, perhaps, of all art.
Because, that all good art speaks to you is only half a truth. The whole truth being that ALL art speaks to you. Or tries to. If you find yourself speaking back to the piece in question, if you begin to 'engage' in the apparently one-sided conversation, you have what you call a good film.

To my mind, a good film has to be one of three - amusing, touching or thought-provoking.
A truly great film has all three elements. A timepass film has one. A repeat-value film has two overlapping elements. A half-way decent film tries hard, but sometimes falls into the cracks between these.

Bluffmaster is what I call a one-time-repeat-value timepass movie.

It walks a tight-rope between fun and sentiment, between slick and real, and emerges pretty much unscathed, smelling of stardust. Here's why I recommend it:

1] Because Abhishek Bacchan really has started looking really hot. He's finally made it to 'lust object' category, which means that women can stop paying attention to his histrionic skills and just focus on how hot/cool he is. He doesn't have his father's acting skills, not yet, but he's working on it and is already at the stage where he slips into a character's skin without the loose folds showing. Or at least, has the wisdom to pick roles that he can handle with ease.

2] Priyanka Chopra is looking as hot as she's ever looked. She's wearing nice clothes. She's comfortable in her chracter's shoes; she's not hamming. She fits. And characters 'fitting' is half the battle won.

3] A lot of humour.
Some of it is wit-based humour, which is rare in Indian movies. And some of it is just good, old-fashioned, improbable nonsense that you can't help giggling at. Like the scene in which Ritesh Deshmukh is trying to con Boman Irani into believing that he - Boman Irani, that is - has been shot. And then there is Nana Patekar's impossible character - the dangerous 'shark' who begins his day by doing aarti in front of the mirror.

4] The setting is contemporary; the treatment is contemporary. Including the romance between the hero and heroine, which is a welcome relief.
For instance, when Priyanka's character is angry with Abhishek, he tries to win her back - turning up at her work-place, turning up at her apartment. He does not sing mournful songs under her balcony, and she does not sob alone in her bedroom. The heroine is like most independent young career women, and moves on to other men.

5] It is a love story, which makes for easy resonance. But it is not just a love story. It is the story of a con-man, who happens to be in love with an intelligent, headstrong, woman. It is the story of a young man confronted with imminent death, and that's also a game all of us have played in our heads: What if you had only a few months to live? And, paradoxically, not much to live for?

6] It is shot beautifully.
Bombay - the grittiness, the harsh greys and concrete, the sea, the Gateway, the beach, the cheap shack, the skyscrapers, the swank hotels, the pubs, the C-grade cinema halls.... it looks real. It's beautiful.

7] The music is good. The songs don't interrupt the flow of the story. They're pacy and good-looking. (In fact, the last 'item' song that's all the rage right now, arrives only when the credits roll at the end. Nobody wants to leave the hall, of course, as long as that number's playing!)

8] There's a twist in the tale.

9] Most importantly, the 'pace' is right. Many a good script is doomed when the narrative begins to drag. Thankfully, the director (Rohan Sippy) has not resorted to slick-tricks like jump-cuts, or deliberate convolutions of plot in an attempt to control pace. Also, there are no parallel sub-plots side-tracking the story, nor irrelevant flashbacks into the hero's unhappy childhood.

Like any good story, Bluffmaster unfolds smoothly, taking care to carry you along so that you don't feel breathless, bored or confused. Which is why it gets my vote. And an unlikely, much-delayed review. Two years later, I will have forgotten all about it and will, possibly, even wonder what was wrong with my sensibilities. However, two weeks after I saw the movie, I'm sitting here, saying that it's worth watching a second time. Which is something, no?


Vijayeta said...

YES! To all the 9 points. A loud, cheery YAYYY! to point no. 1 ;)
And i'd also like to add a couple of points of my own...ahem!...
10. The music of the film (apart from all things mentioned in point #7) is high on the experimental quotient. And it works! This is the first time a Bollywood film has used true-blue techno-house ambient music as the score.He's experimented with Swedish-Dutch musicians and different sounds while keeping the original voices for the remixes.

11. As a director, Rohan Sippy's personal stamp is all over the film. The music from his father's films (Do aur do Paanch) and the scene from Shaan, towards the end. Also, a part in the film also has his own last film playing on the screen, while the taxi in which Abhishek chases Ritesh, is the mainstay of Rohan's next film (Taxi 9211, starring John A.)To most people these might not be really major things, but i guess bits like this do add another layer to the film.

P.S. Have a great 2006, babes!

Anonymous said...

Music, yes. twist in the tail, yes. Wit????. Even the places where dialogs were kind of funny were destroyed by nana's deadpan delivery.
have a great year. enjoy:)

Anonymous said...

Let me summarise my opinion of Abhishek Bachchan:
There are 2 kinds of ppl in this world:
Those who think Abhishek B is un-sexy and those whose IQ is a single digit

david raphael israel said...

there's a third kind also in the world: those unfamiliar w/ the actor in question. (But this kind isn't, I guess, located on your continent.)

happy new year Annie -- glad to see you're (back to) movie reviewing after all.


Jayesh said...

Hey a lot of convergence between my review and yours on Bluffmaster. Completely agree on the pace, feel and naturalness of the movie.

Check mine at

Nachi said...

Puh-lease. Dialogues taken from Ocean's Eleven and a "twist" ripped from Anger Management do not a good movie make.

Monica Mody said...

okay Annie, you've overcome the professional-reviewer induced apathy and convinced me to watch this movie.

Anonymous said...

Achchha khasa post-mortem kar diya hai aapne....:)

ak said...

It is something indeed.

1conoclast said...

The review is better than the movie. And I'm not saying that the movie was bad. It's just that your review draws one's attention to the finer points of the movie; things that I had missed while watching the movie. That doesn't bode well for the director, but it does bode very well for your reviewing skills!
I also think that you like this movie so much because you may not have followed the umpteen movies that Hollywood makes in this genre; but I'm sure you have an equally eloquent answer to that one!

smriti said...

haven't watched the movie babe...but your review makes me want to. though knowing you i am afraid of going ahead and issuing the dvd...if in the mood you will make anything sound most have life and words twisted around your gut.
i will tell you what i think of the movie but the review...five stars for it!!

Annie Zaidi said...

smriti, my love, mmuuaah!

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