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Short Kut – The Con is On July 13, 2009

Posted by Shujath in Hindi, Movies, Reviews.
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Lately, Neeraj Vora and Anees Bazmee have been behind some blockbuster not-so-funny comedies but both of them coming together for a film did raise my expectations a little – especially given this was produced by Anil Kapoor. The promos also looked very promising and that’s why I picked this over other recent “blockbusters” like New York and Kambakkht Ishq to watch this week.

Yet again, I seemed to have made a wrong choice. I would atleast have been satisfied if this was in the league of the filmmakers’ previous flicks but that’s expecting too much now. Based on the Malayalam hit Udayananu Tharam, Short Kut has an interesting plot – whose basic core is derived from Sai Paranjpye’s “Katha” with a dose of “Bowfinger” towards the end. Shekhar (Akshaye Khanna) is an assistant director who finally completes his script and aspires to start directing. In comes his long time friend Raju (Arshad Warsi) who by any means wants to become a “star”. Raju believes in shortcuts to achieve anything in life and not surprisingly he ends up stealing Shekhar’s script and is catapulted to success. Shekhar is devastated and begins to lose control over his life but finally he gets a chance to redeem himself by directing a new film. The glitch however is that his film would now have to made with Raju.

Beyond the story, almost everything is Short Kut fails miserably. The most irritating aspect of this movie is the supporting cast; even if the movie were a lot more better it still could not have risen above the din created by those obnoxious characters. Their effect also seemed to have rubbed off on seasoned performers like Akshaye Khanna and Arshad Warsi who look quite tired and have great trouble getting their comic timing in place. Amrita Rao and Chunky Pandey don’t impress much either. In fact, the parts which I found funny in the trailers don’t work at all in the actual film.

Anees Bazmee and Neeraj Vora – who seem to love bombarding the message several times that “Shortcuts do not work” need to do some introspection and figure if they haven’t done the same with their own product. Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy’s score doesn’t have any instant chartbusters but for me that was one of the few things which provided some relief in this dreary experience. In line with the film’s message please do refrain from this “Short Kut”.

Welcome to Sajjanpur October 8, 2008

Posted by Shujath in Hindi, Movies, Reviews.
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Owing to lack of creativity on my side, I am lifting a few lines from an older post on this blog to describe this film. “A small minority of films manage to put a smile on my face from beginning to end. When I say smile, it isn’t due to the funny events on screen but due to the sheer joy that I experience from everything put out on the screen. This is one such film.” Welcome to Sajjanpur is the kind of film which is so hard to write about because you can’t really slot it into a genre. Call it a simple comedy or a social satire or an engaging drama….it works on every level. Maybe films of this kind have been made in the past but none which I’ve seen.

Mahadev (Shreyas Talpade) is the only literate guy (more accurately..the only one who can actually write stuff) in Sajjanpur who aims to be a novelist but has to settle for being a letter-writer. Due to the uniqueness of his profession everyone in the village has got to use his services at one time or the other. The myriad letters he composes include complaints to the district collector, appeals for money from relatives, missing father search requests, love letters (of course!) and probably the most ingenious of them all – farmer generated spam mail. Short vignettes of the people’s lives who he comes in touch with and how he inadvertently (or otherwise) gets involved forms the crux of the movie. For Mahadev however, most important of them all is Kamala (Amrita Rao) – a childhood sweetheart now married and dying to correspond with her husband who is out in the city for work since the last four years. Mahadev senses an opportunity for some subtle manipulation to get closer to her.

Filled with ample humor and tongue-in-cheek references to social issues all and sundry; Sajjanpur is a treat to watch. I’ve noticed at few places the music of the film receiving much flak but I fail to understand why. Shantanu Moitra’s tunes blend so well with the film and I had absolutely no problem with it. Shreyas Talpade absolutely rocks. As the letter-writer with a troubled conscience when seeing injustice happen or the clever trickster when it comes to his love; his is a character you’ll simply adore. Shyam Benegal’s genius is most apparent in the fact the he made Amrita Rao shine in a role like that. Given the stuff she has done before, this really is a giant leap. The supporting cast is also wonderful – Yashpal Sharma, Ila Arun, Divya Dutta, Daya Shankar Pandey and Ravi Jhankal to name a few.

Shyam Benegal’s previous mainstream ventures in the last ten years or so like Zubeida and Bose didn’t justify his reputation but with Sajjanpur he is back and how! Welcome to Sajjanpur is a film which defines the phrase “wholesome entertainment”. It’s a pity if you miss this!