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Wanted October 6, 2009

Posted by Shujath in Hindi, Movies, Reviews.
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Wanted might not have turned out that huge a huge blockbuster as it seemed poised to be prior to its release – the most probable reasons being that – for our “intelligent” audiences that Salman isn’t the right “Khan” and the production house “BSK” doesn’t exactly rhyme with a certain “YRF”. Never mind because Salman Khan is back and how!

Given the long tally of flops credited to his account – most being inconsequential cameos, the biggest attraction of Wanted is that Salman is really in there all over the place. Wanted is a pretty faithful remake of Pokiri in terms of the plot but it really feels more like some South Indian superstar’s over-the-top masala flick. And that works here quite well because we don’t get to see such stuff nowadays – more likely because there aren’t too many stars around to pull off such a thing; which posits the obvious question to Salman – Why haven’t you done something like this until now? Apart from its leading man, Wanted has almost nothing to offer but then who cares. On the whole, Wanted will obviously draw unfavorable comparisons to Pokiri but Prabhu Dheva’s intentions are pretty clear from scene one – which is unabashed superstar worship.

Salman Khan is definitely having a ball – be it fighting, dancing or romancing. Needless to say I cannot think of any other actor who could manage all this with such elan. Ayesha Takia even in such an insubstantial role is very impressive and her chemistry with Salman is crackling. Prakash Raj actually gets quite a meaty part when compared with the original and he’s a lot of fun. Mahesh Manjrekar is also very effective. Salman Khan seems ready to break into a dance at any moment but barring a couple, Sajid-Wajid’s tracks lack the required steam. The solid action sequences (Vijayan) are definitely the best part of this enterprise.

If you are a fan of Salman, then Wanted is the movie you’ve been waiting for; but if aren’t one then do remember you were warned!

Singh is Kinng August 25, 2008

Posted by Shujath in Hindi, Movies, Reviews.
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There have been quite a few so called “comedies” which have bombed at the box-office this year which made me think that moviegoers have finally gotten tired of those not-so-funny blockbuster comedies which had a good time at the box-office last year. I was wrong because I forgot to take notice of the fact that none of those bombs this year featured any big stars. Singh is Kinng is the first one to feature a saleable star and (unsurprisingly) despite its content has gone on to become a blockbuster.

The filmmakers had quite an interesting concept on hand but they haven’t exploited it properly. Happy Singh (Akshay Kumar) is a bumbling do-gooder who has his intentions right but always courts trouble with his actions. His village is fed up of him and they pack him off to Australia on the pretext of getting King (Sonu Sood) – an infamous Don in Australia – back to Punjab so that their community would no longer be badnaam because of his activities. Accompanying Happy is his friend Rangeela (Om Puri). However, in Australia things go haywire as King gets afflicted with a condition “which Shahrukh Khan had in Anjaam” and Happy has to take his place. And that’s when the fun begins (actually supposed to begin).

Coming from Anees Bazmee, whose last outing Welcome was quite inconsistent from being outrightly irritating to some hilarious laugh-out-loud moments, Singh is Kinng is consistently average – neither making you smile much nor making you feel why you actually paid to sit through this. The biggest complaint I have is how he could waste actors like Javed Jafferi (hardly comprehensible) and Ranvir Shorey (a role probably written with Sunil Shetty in mind). Akshay Kumar is a huge star so can afford to be repetitive but this trait of his doesn’t appeal to me much (I wouldn’t say the same about other “superstars”) but still good enough to carry the film through. The best perfomances come from the supporting cast of Om Puri, Sonu Sood (once he becomes paralysed) and Yashpal Sharma. Manoj Pahwa and Kirron Kher also lend good support. Katrina and Neha are just hanging around to look good.

Watch it if you’ve liked similar mindless (purported) comedy flicks before otherwise there is nothing you’ll lose by giving this a miss. The two title tracks were really the only things which I enjoyed the most.

Tashan April 27, 2008

Posted by Shujath in Hindi, Movies, Reviews.
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One of the most awaited films of this year – Tashan is being thrashed all over the place by most critics and audiences. On the face of it, it is yet another of those “guilty pleasure” flicks like Dhoom 2 or Race but rather than trying to pass off its stupidity as intelligence Tashan revels in its dumbness. That’s what probably put off our “high thinking” critics and audiences. Apart from the forced “coolness” at times, I enjoyed Tashan because it was an honest flick which had its intentions clear and doesn’t deviate too far from them.

Jeetendra aka Jimmy Cliff (Saif Ali Khan) is a call center executive who being taken in by the charms of Pooja (Kareena Kapoor) ends up as an English instructor to her boss Bhaiyyaji (Anil Kapoor). Pooja and Jimmy fall in love and now she wants to get away from Bhaiyyaji; for which these two plan to swindle his money. In comes local goon Bachchan Pandey (Akshay Kumar) hired by Bhaiyyaji to trace his money and wipe off Pooja and Jimmy. A few double crossing interspersed with a couple of filmy flashbacks later everyone’s loyalties fall in place.

Writer-Director Vijay Krishna Acharya (who wrote the Dhoom films before) takes an old fashioned revenge drama, gives it a generous Rodriguez/Tarantino coating and a lot of oomph. The end product is far from the perfect blend but it still works. The locales/set design, the styling of the actors and the music/background score dominate every frame and overshadow everything else. There are 2 major action sequences choreographed by Peter Hein but they fail to impress as he mostly lifts those from some of the more prominent South Indian films he has worked for. Interestingly, in a scene when Akshay sends 15-20 men flying around (Tamil-Telugu movie style) half of the audience started clapping. Special mention for Vishal-Shekhar’s rocking score. The theme song “Tashan Mein” which keeps popping up every now and then especially helps when you tend to get restless during the prolonged second half (trimming it definitely would have helped). Rest of the songs are thumping enough and lavishly picturized. Ranjit Barot is credited for the background score and there is one particular short piece which stays with you for quite a while.

But more than anything else what Tashan relies on are the performances of its lead actors. Akshay Kumar gets the most outspoken and in-your-face role and he does full justice to it. His intro was the best of all his scenes. I would say Kareena is really the surprize package because a role like hers comes with a lot of “irritation quotient” attached and in the past she has played parts where she made even normal characters extremely irritating. Somehow this isn’t the case here and she deserves credit for that (and yes…she does don a bikini too!) We don’t need to talk about Anil Kapoor. He’s mastered these supporting roles so well and and more than his crazy Hinglish it is his awestruck reaction to Saif speaking fluent English that is hilarious. Also, he looks great in the “Lakhan” get-up pulling a rickshaw in a few scenes. However, quite a bit of what he speaks is incomprehensible (should probably have been funny if understood) and I wonder how the filmmakers overlooked this aspect. Despite the pre-release hype of having his role being a secret, Saif is the most subdued of them all but nevertheless makes his presence felt.

For me, Tashan came close to the campy B-movie I was waiting Bollywood to make and it kept me smiling most of the time. Go for it only if you can watch it with this perspective.