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Jannat – In Search of Heaven May 18, 2008

Posted by Shujath in Hindi, Movies, Reviews.
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A day before its release, Mahesh Bhatt said in an interview that “Jannat will be Emraan’s Naam”. During his heyday, Mahesh Bhatt made films like Naam and Gumraah which dealt with the theme of vulnerable people caught in a world of crime in a foreign land, unable to let go of it and end up paying for it dearly. There are some other films of his (or from his production house) which have dwelt on the same thing (Gangster and Awarapan being the recent) but the two films I mentioned before are the ones which made a strong impact on me.

So, Jannat ventures into familiar Bhatt territory and indeed it is watchable and quite engaging at times. But somehow it lacks the emotional impact I’d expected and doesn’t stay with you too long after you’re done watching it. Arjun (Emraan Hashmi) is a compulsive gambler who gets drawn into the world of cricket betting once he discovers his “sixth sense” for predicting events in any match. Meanwhile, he has also fallen for Zoya (Sonal Chauhan) and woos her with some stupid Bollywood tricks. A bit of digression here – For anyone who has trouble believing that Emraan Hashmi is a “superstar” in his own right – here is the acid test. If someone can pull of absolute crap in style on screen and still make you like him he qualifies to be a real “star”. Watch Emraan do the same here and you’ll know what I am saying. Coming back to the story, Arjun climbs his next step on the ladder of success by becoming a “match fixer” for an famous underworld kingpin Abu Ibrahim (Jawed Sheikh) in South Africa. Now, there’s also a cop (Samir Kochhar) in hot pursuit of Arjun.

Firstly, if you decide to watch this film then please don’t have any misconceptions that this one revolves around match-fixing and that you’ll get to see how it all actually happens. It’s just that there had to be a crime backdrop for this story in this case it happens to be match-fixing. Of course, there are references to real life personalities thrown in for some masala. The weakest link and the reason Jannat falls short of being a really nice film is the love story….to be more specific it’s the leading lady – Sonal Chauhan. What she does is okay for the regular romance in the first half but she totally screws up the heavy duty moments later. The audience couldn’t help chuckling whenever she cries. In fact, in hindsight I think it would been better if the plot was something like – Arjun and the cop chasing him were brothers on opposite sides of the law. I am saying that because the interactions between Emraan and Samir are one of the highpoints of the movie.

Anyways, there are other good things which salvage Jannat – Emraan Hashmi being the primary one. This is his most uninhibited performance till now. Nothing new in the kind of role but the way he emotes and his dialague delivery is so believable and natural. He gets to play different shades in the film and he impresses in every way. Way to go Emraan! Two other performances stay with you and they belong to Samir Kochhar and Jawed Sheikh. As the young sincere cop Kochhar is top notch. One wishes he had a longer role to play here. Jawed Sheikh is there for only a few scenes but is so good – we’ve seen him before but looks like he’s finally gotten a role which suits him the best. Then there’s also the now popular “Zara Sa” number with the tradmark Bhatt-camp “Who Oh O….” strain. “Jannat Yahaan” is also nice. The male version of “Lambi Judaai” is surprisingly missing – I thought it’ll show up in the end credits but it doesn’t. Debutant Kunal Deshmukh (credited for both writing and direction) is promising.

Jannat is yet again a good offering from the Bhatts. It definitely could have been lot better but the lack of a good Hindi film in recent times makes this a nice watch.

Awarapan February 19, 2008

Posted by Shujath in Hindi, Movies, Reviews.
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One of last year’s favorably reviewed but overlooked films, Awarapan is a really well made “gangster redemption” flick. Nothing new in the theme considering that there are a lot of such films churned out by Hollywood yet this one had enough appeal for me….not because it was a great movie but it does have some great moments which leave an impact for long.

More specifically, I am referring to the extremely clever placement of the songs “Toh Phir Aao” and “Tera Mera Rishta” (Both coming from Pakistani Bands – as is the norm in Mahesh Bhatt’s productions). Watching the shootout sequences set to these beautiful tunes really pumped me up like anything and honestly that’s the main reason why I liked this movie.

I wasn’t impressed by Mohit Suri’s directorial debut Zeher but he’s been consistently improving with every film ever since. The biggest surprise is no doubt Emraan Hashmi. Prior to this one had only seen him saddled in roles where he had other important things to do than act. As a brooding gangster here, he underplays it extremely well as any A-list actor would have. Aushutosh Rana and Purab Kohli complement nicely. The thread between Aushutosh and Emraan resembles a lot like that of Gulshan Grover and Shiney Ahuja in Gangster. The ladies (Shriya and Mrinalini Sharma) have limited screen time but do quite well. Shriya actually is more likeable if you happened to have seen any of her south Indian flicks. Those standard expressions which she used in her earlier films are thankfully missing (probably the effect of acting in films where you actually understand what one is talking).

I consider to be best film to come out from the Bhatt camp after Gangster. What it lacks in content it more than makes it up with style.