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Main aurr Mrs Khanna October 19, 2009

Posted by Shujath in Hindi, Movies, Reviews.
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Prem R Soni is credited for the Story, Screenplay, Dialogues and Direction for this film. After conceiving the film, at some point of time he seems to have come to the conclusion that a movie with all the four aspects might be very complex. To keep it simple, he decides to do away with most of the aforementioned details. When the movie ends, you practically keep scratching your head wondering if something really happened in the film and if it did how come you didn’t spot it.

Mr. Khanna (Salman Khan) loses his job in Melbourne. To recoup, he plans to move to Singapore but unceremoniously tries packing off Mrs. Khanna (Kareena Kapoor) to India. Shocked by this harsh move Mrs. Khanna sets up shop in the airport until her husband’s return. In comes Akash (Sohail Khan) who is instantly smitten by Mrs. Khanna and slowly they become close to each other. When Mr. Khanna is back Akash wants to discredit him in Mrs. Khanna’s eyes tries but fails. Inevitably Mr. Khanna confronts Mrs. Khanna about Akash but Mrs Khanna is too dumb to believe that Akash could be love with her. She then decides to confront Akash with the same question – Akash responds rather diplomatically and has an inexplicable change of heart….and the movie ends. There is a so called twist in the end which is supposed to justify Akash’s behavior – but that actually only serves to finally convince Mrs. Khanna (who still can’t believe it!!!) about Akash’s love.

The most bewildering thing about this film is that you have no clue what it is trying to say (or is trying to say something in the first place?) Why does Akash change his mind out of the blue? What about Mr. Khanna who is portrayed as a rather eccentric and unpleasant person for most of the film but towards the end he seems to be exonerated? What exactly is going on in Mrs. Khanna’s mind? What is Bappi Lahiri doing in the film? Why did Preity Zinta have such an awfully bad cameo? In a way Main aurr Mrs Khanna is the most thought provoking film of the year since the number of questions you might want to ask Prem Soni could easily exceed the size of his script.

On the brighter side, this is not really a bad watch if you discount the B-list supporting cast (and promise not to ask too many questions). Sajid-Wajid come up with a pretty good soundtrack which is quite refreshing compared to their usual dance numbers.  All the lead actors perform well but how do you rise above the script when there isn’t one. Main aurr Mrs Khanna is a one-of-a-kind movie which just seems to exist because it has to – it’s your call if you want to watch it for that.

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Love Aaj Kal August 10, 2009

Posted by Shujath in Hindi, Movies, Reviews.
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When a film turns out to be a rather unexpected blockbuster it could be that it really was that good or it was just able to to successfully tap into the sensibilites of a large segment of moviegoers. For me, Love Aaj Kal clearly fell into the latter category. Imtiaz Ali’s first two films (Socha Na Tha, Jab We Met) weren’t exactly super-hits during their release but today they are considered to be standout films in what is a worn-out genre.

Love Aaj Kal at its core relies on that crappy Hollywood romcom formula about two people breaking up and taking up the entire duration of the film to realize that they “truly love” each other. In this flick, there is an additional parallel story running in an earlier era where “true love” truly was true. This clever narrative does make the proceedings a lot more interesting but looking back it seems like a substitute for lack of content. There is no doubt that Imtiaz Ali has brilliant writing and directing skills this film too is no exception. His previous films were undoubtedly a lot more fun and had characters you could identify with. I might have enjoyed this film more if the “fun” part overshadowed everything else but it seemed to take itself too seriously which is the biggest complaint I have against this one. Even if it did not appeal to me, I must accept that sitting through this wasn’t a bad experience at all.

Saif is wonderful in both the roles he plays. He is probably a bit too old for a part like this – however you forget about this aspect when you watch him perform. Deepika seems to be a pretty bad choice. There is absolutely nothing wrong with her emoting but her dialogue delivery is always so bland that if you were to listen to her closing your eyes – it  sounds like a sonorous speech where the emphasis is on just getting the pronunciation of every word right. Rishi Kapoor gets another nice supporting role in what seems to be his real comeback year. The much kept-under-wraps Giselli Monteiro is cute but that’s about it. Rahul Khanna is unimpressive in a short supporting role. The visuals are beautiful (the period pieces specially) and add a lot to the film. Pritam’s score fits in nicely though there aren’t any great numbers to watch out for.

If you are a sucker for romcoms in general then you can’t ask for anything better than Love Aaj Kal – for the rest it’s just a pleasant but unmemorable film. Imtiaz Ali might not have picked the right film to make but his solid effort nevertheless shows – I am still eager to know what he makes next.

Chandni Chowk To China January 19, 2009

Posted by Shujath in Hindi, Movies, Reviews.
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Exactly two years back Nikhil Advani came out with his magnum-opus bomb Salaam-e-Ishq. He seems to have done it all over again now with the much awaited and much hyped Chandni Chowk to China. The extremely well designed promos made CC2C seem like a crazy slapstick comedy with a liberal dose of Akshay Kumar’s martial arts skills thrown in. But one really finds it hard to believe that the writer-director team of Sridhar Raghavan and Nikhil Advani could end up with such an insipid boring film.

The plot which a masala mix of producer Ramesh Sippy’s own films like Seetha Aur Geetha and Sholay along with a dash of Kung Fu Panda and Kung Fu Hustle looks like a foolproof premise for a film in this genre. Sadly, apart from the intermittent laughs CC2C falls flat. Akshay Kumar plays a simpleton cook Sidhu who is mistaken (don’t ask how) to be the reincarnation of a legendary Chinese warrior Lu Sheng; who is now on his way to China to “fulfill his destiny”. Sidhu is fooled by his friend Chopstick (Ranvir Shorey) about the reason he is being taken to China – which really is to get rid of the evil lord Hojo (Gordon Liu). Hojo is also responsible for the separated-at-birth twin sisters (Deepika Padukone).

Until everyone lands in China, things seemed to be going pretty well – the unfunny silliness at times still gels well with the tone of the film. But things go wrong only when we are expected to take the whole thing seriously. Like I said before, the film is absolutely boring for most of the time and that is its biggest unforgivable flaw. The only memorable parts of this whole (mis)adventure are those two hilarious sequences – one in the plane with Akshay and Ranvir; the other being Akshay’s initial training session with Roger Yuan.

I’ve never been a huge fan of Akshay but this is honestly the film where I really loved him. In his last few comedy flicks he might have come across as repetitive but here he shows a different slapstick side of his which really saves the film from sinking completely. Ranvir Shorey also has his moments but they are are far and few. Roger Yuan is also fine. Deepika apart from being good eye candy has nothing else to do. Unfortunately, Mithun Chakraborty is saddled with a rather loud role which he seemed clearly uncomfortable with. The action sequences have nothing new to offer if you have seen any Kung Fu flick before – the “cosmic” kicks and punches seem more like improvised flying people stunts from South Indian flicks.

The music is quite good – credited to Kailash-Paresh-Naresh, Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy and Bhappi-Bhappa Lahiri (just remixing the old hit – Bombay Se Aaya Mera Dost). I loved the “Naam Hai Sidhu” track. It’s one of those simple and earthy numbers like Haule Haule from RNBDJ which makes the film come to life whenever it is playing in the background. The end credits feature Akshay Kumar performing a self-aggrandizing rap number and ironically CC2C has turned to be the flick which might potentially be his first Box Office turkey after a long time; unless the opening weekend collections save it to an extent. Catch it only if you are a huge fan of Akshay Kumar.

Bachna Ae Haseeno August 18, 2008

Posted by Shujath in Hindi, Movies, Reviews.
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As Ranbir Kapoor kick-starts the proceedings with his dad’s energetic title song you can’t help but acknowledge again (if you have seen Saawariya) that this guy is absolute star material. And if you thought he showed some promise in his debut what you’ll see him doing here is miles ahead. Also, YRF seems to have made a conscious effort here to project him as their successor to Shahrukh Khan. Alas, one only wishes if the film could have been as good.

Bachna Ae Haseeno is about the quintessential playboy Raj (Ranbir Kapoor) who with his “Rajgiri” gives a massive heartbreak to two women at different times in his life. The first one – Mahi (Minnisha Lamba) is a DDLJ freak who is on the lookout for her “Raj” in Europe and finds one in our Raj. But Raj leaves her after a night’s fling. The second one – Radhika (Bipasha Basu) is an aspiring model who has a live-in arrangement with Raj but is ready to give up everything and get married to him when Raj has to relocate to Australia. But he gets the jitters and slips away on the day they were supposed to get married. Years later when he’s truly fallen in love with Gayatri (Deepika Padukone) and proposes to her, he is rejected (and extremely dejected)….and then he realizes what the other two girls might have felt. Following which he sets out on a redemption tour asking the earlier women in his life for forgiveness. Seems that both ladies haven’t yet gotten over him and as a result screwed up their lives in different ways. Would Raj’s forgive-me mission set things right for them and will he win back the love of Gayatri? – Of course yes! What else can you expect from a Yash Raj Film.

The good things abruptly come to an end once Raj reaches out to Radhika in the second half. Whatever happens from thereon till the end is pretty silly. The most glaring flaw however is the inconsistent handling of Gayatri’s character. In one scene she claims she doesn’t believe in marriage and doesn’t need a man in her life, a few minutes later she is singing a duet with Raj and then when Raj proposes to her she rejects him saying that she won’t marry because he might not let her drive a Taxi during nights to pay for her B-school expenses! And as we come to know towards the end she immediately realizes that rejecting him was wrong and instantly reconciles….how convenient! Looks like Aditya Chopra and Siddharth Anand just wanted to say “When good people dump someone they start feeling sorry asap and try to bring them back into their lives”.

I am pretty sure no one is going to come out this film satisfied but there are lots of factors which still make it worth a watch. For once, the casting and performances are perfect – Minnisha stands out among the ladies more so because hers seems to be the only well-defined character and she has this very cute Punjabi accent. Hiten Paintal as Ranbir’s sidekick is also impressive (apparently both their dads had similar roles in the original film featuring the “Bachna Ae Haseeno” track). Kunal Kapoor (quite unrecognizable at first) appears in a nice cameo. Vishal-Shekhar’s score is apt. The “Khuda Jaane” track stands out and works very effectively when used as part of the background score. Ditto for the trumpet piece from the title track. The foreign locales are exploited quite well too.

Bachna Ae Haseeno could have been a great flick but fails to reach its potential due to some uninspired writing in the second half. But I’d still recommend it to anyone looking for a light-hearted entertainer.

Om Shanti Om November 12, 2007

Posted by Sai in Hindi, Movies, Reviews.
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I knew this would be an entertaining film but it exceeds my expectations. Choreographer turned writer-director Farah Khan outdoes herself this time. If she displayed her love for Bollywood in her debut feature Main Hoon Na, that affection takes center stage this time around. This film not only belongs to the seventies masala genre that she loves so much but it also features the seventies, pays tributes to various stars and films of the time as well as the current generation and then also pokes some light-hearted fun at the film industry and the actors, all in the same film!

Farah Khan might not be an encyclopedia on Hindi films like her brother Sajid but clearly, these films have become a part of her being. The theme she selects this time is reincarnation, something that hasn’t been visited in recent times (the last I recall was Sanjay Gupta’s flop film, Hameshaa). I won’t even try to describe the story of this film because anybody who has seen a couple of films on this theme in the past can figure out the basic outline. However, Farah and co-writer Mushtaq Sheik do spring a surprise with the climax, especially once you start believing that the film is quite predictable.

The story is set around the film industry and it works as an excellent placeholder to display her love for films of two generations. This is in fact the primary reason that this film works. The best moments in the film are all woven from this aspect (and they are neatly integrated with the main storyline too) and there are some extremely howlarious moments here. The Filmfare awards sequence with the spoofed film trailers (reminded me of Grindhouse), the fake interviews and the actors’ responses is a comic gem. The Sooraj Barjatya piece is just priceless. The Manoj Kumar bit was side-splitting fun. And thats not all. There’s Mohabbat-Man, the Dhoom Tana song reliving songs from the sixties and seventies, a small bit on the entry of the Virar-ka-chokra Govinda, Shahrukh pretending to be a South Indian superstar shouting out “Enna Rascala” and “Mind It” and much much more to keep you laughing. And she makes Shahrukh poke fun at himself too.

Yes, Farah Khan clearly know how to have fun and she also understands how to show the audience a good time. In doing that, she ropes in almost all the big stars (Amitabh Bachchan and Son, Hrithik Roshan and Dad, Sanjay Dutt, Salman Khan, Saif Khan, Rani Mukherjee, Preity Zinta, Dharmendra, Jeetendra, Mithun and many more biggies) in the film industry. The great-grandmother of all item songs, the Deewangi number has twenty odd superstars (including some not so super, not really stars like Dino Morea) walking in and out of frames, doing their most popular steps and a few more stars show up in the Filmfare awards sequence leaving the star-struck audience wanting more. It is nice to see the camaraderie among the film fraternity (even if pessimists might call some of it artificial).

Farah also deserves special kudos for the end titles. She ropes in most of her crew members, including spot boys, to be on screen for a few seconds of fame. The generally neglected folks who work behind the scenes are made to feel special. And this was the first time that I’ve seen the entire audience stay back till the end of the titles.

Shahrukh Khan carries the film on his shoulders. He does all that is asked of him (though this isn’t the role that critics will admire). He acts, he cries, he mouthes poetry, he wears his underwear over his tights, he romances Deepika, he dances, he shows off his six pack and he also overacts as per the requirement. The debutant, model-turned actress Deepika Padukone (daughter of Badminton champion Prakash Padukone), is a real beauty. In fact, she is so good looking that she will get enough offers even if she was wooden. However, she does acquit herself well and is set for a promising career. Shreyas Talpade is good and Kirron Kher is super, especially in the scenes where she overacts. Arjun Rampal does fine as the bad guy of the piece.

Vishal-Shekhar’s music doesn’t appeal as much in the soundtrack but the songs suit the film well. Ajab Si is clearly the best of the lot and KK does a great job singing it. However, it wasn’t really a part of the film and hence gets used only in the background. Sandeep Chowtha is roped in to do the background score and he doesn’t disappoint. Farah Khan’s choreography isn’t her best work though she does a couple of songs well. The cinematography (V. Manikandan) is good and the sets (Sabu Cyril gets to design quite a few here) fit in with the film.

If it is not clear yet, I will reiterate that this film is not one that revels in being realistic, sensible or novel (though it is novel in certain aspects). As long as you are willing to not take it seriously, this will thoroughly entertain you. This film gives you your money’s worth and then some and it also makes you laugh much more that most films masquerading as comedies.