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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.

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Yuvvraaj November 25, 2008

Posted by Shujath in Hindi, Movies, Reviews.
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I wish I could exclaim – Subhash Ghai is back! It was my sincere belief that the showman would finally redeem himself with Yuvvraaj. Looks like redemption is another film away. Yuvvraaj is Ghai’s most disappointing film till date – if not his worst (that honor arguably goes to Kisna). A story about estranged brothers coming together would probably not be touched by any director in this day. But given Ghai’s expertise at handling these kind of themes in the past, I was expecting an old school classic from him and since it was also supposed to be an A.R. Rahman “musical”, my expectations soared.

Assuming that the rest of the film stays the same, it still would have made the cut if the director actually delivered a musical as he promised. The first frame of the film opens with Katrina playing the much publicized cello in a grandiose setting. A few other frames featuring people holding/playing musical instruments plus the usual songs are what constitute the “musical” part of this flick. A film like this filled with campy situations and (even more horrible) dialogue almost completely dispenses off with a background score and uses sombre looking sets (despite being opulent) – which undoubtedly gives the impression that this is supposed to be a film to be taken seriously. And this proves disastrous for it as there is no way any sane viewer could do that.

It is all the more surprising because Ghai is one filmmaker who knows (or rather invented in Hindi Cinema) how to incorporate a score to maximum effect. That skill of his was the primary reason his last success Taal survived. Another memorable disaster in this film is the dialogue. If you had seen the dialogue promos you should definitely have noticed Katrina’s “…..woh sirf ek hardcore anti-family man ho sakta hai”. There are equally bad gems like these (if not equally funny) but the pick of the lot is the scene where Salman gives an explanation for Anil’s altruistic actions to a policeman that it’s because he’s not just any other brother but an “Indian Brother”.

Except for Salman Khan and Anil Kapoor who provide the film’s only redeeming moments everyone else is a letdown – thanks to their lame characterizations. Zayed Khan especially needs an acting class. His character seems to have been written as an afterthought just to make it a 3-brother story. The straight from the eighties villains-vamps could have caused further embarrassment if not for their short insignificant parts. For all the talk about Katrina overshadowing everyone else on the posters, she hardly has anything to do. Many reviews have criticized Salman’s performance but I honestly feel that if it weren’t for the lighthearted feel he brings to the proceedings this film would have been unwatchable. Anil Kapoor should have had a longer part to play because it is only when he and Salman are together that the film stops from sinking further. I don’t know if his take on an autistic person is authentic or not but it is highly consistent and in tune with the plot. Mithun also appears in a brief role.

A.R Rahman would be the person to be disappointed the most out of this venture – it is the second time in a row that Ghai has squandered away his tunes. The very popular “Dost” and “Tu Muskura” absolutely make no impression in the movie. It is actually the less publicized “Mastam Mastam” which is the pick of the lot. For once the vibrant choreography does justice to the song. There’s also a short song called “Zindagi” which I liked very much. The climax song “Dil Ka Rishta” doesn’t create much of an impact but a couple of short pieces used from here in other scenes are really good.

Mithun ends the last scene of the film with the adage “Independent we live but United we stand” following which (to my utmost surprise) there was a standing ovation from the audience!!! whatever they were clapping for! As a last ditch attempt the Farah Khan style end credits are brought in but that can’t make you like what came before it. Yuvvraaj could have been a nice old-fashioned campy musical melodrama but is nowhere close. Watch it only if you are a fan of any of the big names associated with this film because even though it was below average I didn’t find it hard to sit through.