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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.

Heyy Babyy September 12, 2007

Posted by Sai in Hindi, Movies, Reviews.
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This film deals with the life of three bachelors who seem to have no other job except to bed one woman after another. Their life suddenly changes when a baby girl is left at their doorstep with a claim that one of them is their father. They spend their time taking care of the kid and end up losing their jobs/money. They decide to abandon the child. A near-death experience for the baby brings about a change in them and they start developing a strong bond with her. At this point, the mother takes back her child. Now the guys try everything they can to get the child back. Will the baby help unite their parents?

Akshay Kumar and Ritesh Deshmukh do fine as expected but Fardeen Khan, who I used to consider a bad actor, seems to have improved over time at least as far as comedy goes. Vidya Balan, who has made an impression with all her previous roles, doesn’t come up trumps this time. The baby is cute but has little else to do except being herself. There are a host of guest appearances from a ton of actresses who are trying to make it in the industry. And good friend Shahrukh throws in a special appearance. Composers Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy deliver a first-rate soundtrack that includes foot-tapping numbers like Hey Baby and Jaane Bhi De as well as the lilting Meri Duniya. These certainly add to the film.

Like sister Farah Khan and brother-in-law Shirish Kunder, well known anchor Sajid Khan too jumps onto the directorial bandwagon (he did direct an episode in the Ram Gopal Varma production Darna Zaroori Hai earlier). Though it has the ingredients to be a box office hit, this isn’t a good film by any stretch of imagination. Going by his efforts in television, one had hoped for a much better film from Sajid Khan but he disappoints.

The first half of this film is filled with mostly childish humor. It does bring about a few smiles but largely it didn’t work for me. The emotional aspect did not make an impression on me either. However, there was an improvement in the second half of the film and it did make me laugh. Overall, this is only an average film that is not to be taken seriously and could appeal to those who have enjoyed recent comedies like Partner very much.

As I see it, this is an eighties film with a stylistic upgrade. The writing by Sajid is amateurish and anyone whose seen a lot of hindi movies can predict what is going to happen next. Most of the emotions are conveyed through dialogue and not really developed or felt. Such a lack of subtext is a clear indication of poor writing and direction. I had expected a much better film from Sajid Khan but he makes the kind of films that he has criticized in the past (maybe a little less over-the-top). Give me Shirish Kunder or Farah Khan anyday. Shirish Kunder’s superior grip on technical aspects was clearly on display in Jaan-e-mann while Farah Khan succeeded in her aim of making a masala seventies style film that walked the tightrope between laughing at itself and making the audience laugh. I liked the episode directed by Sajid in Darna Zaroori Hai but this film is a disappointment. This film has an audience but I am not a part of that audience and I hope Sajid makes a better film next time.

Lastly, a note to Sajid: “You may like the great Hrishikesh Mukherjee and might have been acquainted with him but please Sajid, stop using his name in reference to this film”.

Ta Ra Rum Pum April 29, 2007

Posted by Sai in Hindi, Movies, Reviews.
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If you have liked films like Veer-Zaara, Fanaa and Mujhse Dosti Karoge in the past, read no further because this film might make a decent watch for you. This film will appeal to a certain section of the audience that makes films like Fanaa and Raja Hindustani super hits.

Unfortunately, I am not a part of this section and I am quite irate after watching this one. I would be willing to try my best to keep away as many people from this film as possible.

I could have almost cried from watching this film because it was so excruciating. There may have been worse films than this but there rarely has been a film that has incensed me so much.

Rajveer Singh/RV (Saif Khan) is (probably) an orphan who makes money by changing tyres at a race track. Though he doesn’t seem to have too much money or a career, neither is he willing to plan nor is he willing to save. He is the kind of guy that can pay a cabbie (Javed Jaffrey) a hundred dollar bill (when twenty dollars would suffice) to let him drive and break all the laws on the road (in New York when the NYPD is probably dead) to reach his destination (where he does not have any work apparently). On one such occassion, he meets Radhika (Rani Mukherjee) and damages her IPod while falling in love with her at first sight. Luckily for him, the real cabbie is not really a cabbie. He is the manager of a racing team and he invites RV to his team, considering his skill at risking his life while driving like a madman. RV agrees and wins his first race itself not to mention everything else after that while Radhika is watching from the stands (and he magically manages to maintains eye contact with her whenever he looks out of his car window). Radhika marries him despite the protests of her father (Victor Banerjee) who realises he is an idiot (without taking into account money or social status – RV is already rich and famous by then). RV buys a car and a home without informing Radhika and then they also have two kids (whom, unfortunately, he cannot produce without informing her – thankfully though, the production is left out this time).

Everything is fine till Rusty enters the picture. A new bad boy racer who doesn’t mind injuring his opponents to win (did I mention that anything goes in this race including cornering and crashing your opponent). He targets RV and causes an accident putting him out for a year. Though RV’s physical injuries disappear, the mental scars still do not leave him and he ends up last on ten races continuously upon return (it would seem that Bollywood doesn’t know any positions apart from first and last). His dinosaurian ego cannot take the fact that he is a loser. He doesn’t accept the fact himself and neither does he let his children know for fear of falling from the hero status in their eyes. He loses his job and everything else because we are told he owns nothing (he buys everything on installments). He is officially poor. When the time comes to move to a desi slum in New York, he and Radhika lie to their kids that they are in a reality show about being poor and they need to be happy (or at least act that way) while they try to exist with only $2000.

Now I just cannot understand why there is a need to lie to your children about being poor? Do you want them to live in their dream worlds without ever facing reality? Do the children think everyone has a rosy life that is only filled with smiles? And pray tell me why is being poor so despicable? Is it that poor people don’t have lives or is it that their lives aren’t worth living? We already live in a society that gives undue importance to money, power and fame. Do we need movies to further emphasize these unfortunate ideas? Escapist flicks are fine but films that promote living in denial just cannot be accepted.

If that was a bad enough start to the second half of this film, some of the sequences that followed made it even worse. The pig-headed egoistic ass that Saif plays is willing to beg or cheat people for money but cannot accept help from a friend because he did leave his job and come away with him as he also has a life and a family to consider. The stupid pseudo-Bharatiya Nari that Rani Mukherjee plays in the film can beg and almost steal for her children but isn’t willing to take money or any help from her father because he points out the blatant fact that her husband cannot plan for the future or save money. Between fifty thousand dollars and living a lie (not to mention living in denial), she chooses the latter. This and much more including the complete lack of any logic and the presence of the irritating girl who plays their daughter (Angelina Idnani) was reason enough for me to squirm in my seat throughout the second half of this film almost to the point of tearing my hair out.

Like some of the other films from the Yashraj stable, attempts to milk the audiences’ emotions are in full force. This is headed by the scene where the kid is shown to be eating out of a dumpster. I am sure there are people who were moved by this scene and even a few who may have cried.

That isn’t all though. I am disappointed with a part of the audience too. When Saif almost demands $65,000 (for the medical expenses of his child) from his ex-boss who obviously is not going to part with that kind of money like almost everybody in the audience, the boss suggests that he could give him a few hundred and that he should start collecting similar donations from some of his other acquaintances. Even if he didn’t give the money, the “bad” man at least gave him a decent piece of advice, something that is commonly done in an extreme situation like this (and remember that Rani Mukherjee can’t get the money from her father who we are told is the owner of the 3rd or 4th largest database consortium in the USA or was it World?). But obviously, Saif is too big to beg from the villain. At the point when the boss starts to give him a few hundred, the lady beside me started calling the villanous man a bastard. Multiple times. Why? Why? Why?

Rusty, who causes Saif’s accident is obviously the main villain in the piece. The audience hates him for doing this. However, towards the end, Saif pays him back in the same coin and he also (presumably) dies and a part of the audience started clapping for Saif. Is something wrong with me or does the meaning of “wrong” change in your mind depending on the person who commits this and how much you like him/her or care for him/her?

Finally, I wish nobody talks about Roberto Benigni’s Life Is Beautiful while referring to this film even if Siddharth Anand took some inspiration from that film. As far as I can see, lying is the only piece of inspiration, and in that case, this film is as inspired from that brilliant effort as it is from a film like Kareeb.

If you want real positives, I don’t think there are any. Of course, the whole racing setup is new for the Indian audience (even as New York is starting to bore) and some of the racing accident sequences look good, though they are completely devoid of logic. The soundtrack (Vishal-Shekhar) and background score (Salim-Suleiman) are alright. Saif and Rani are better in the second half (Rani is particularly irritating in the first half). Among the kids, the boy (Ali Haji) is better but nothing to write about. Jaaved Jaffrey is likeable even if he isn’t as funny as he was in Salaam Namaste (and I couldn’t figure out some of his accented dialogue that was uneven through the film). I wish he had danced to a complete song instead of doing a couple of moves. That would have made at least a few minutes of this worthwhile. Victor Banerjee in a very short role actually does the best job of the lot and he seemed to be the only person from the film that could actually be real. Most of the dialogue (Habib Faisal) is raddi. The humor is only sporadically funny (I was laughing more for unintentionally funny stuff during the first half and was just too shocked/irritated/disturbed/pissed/depressed to laugh in the second half).

The main culprits for this horror are writer Habib Faisal and director Siddharth Anand. Siddharth didn’t do a bad job with his first film Salaam Namaste that he also wrote. I liked the energy and humor in that one and he did show some style (even if it wasn’t exactly original or unique). However, with this one, he joins my list of directors to keep away from that is headed by Dharmesh Darshan, Suneel Darshan and Kunal Kohli.

I believe it takes almost the same amount of talent and effort to make a money-making film that is bad and a money-making film that is flawed but worth a watch or at least entertaining. I wonder why there are a lot of folks who seem to prefer the former.

I wished for a while that I was in some reality show and that this distasteful film was not the actual one. Alas! Useless dreams like that can only be true when you are in a Yashraj film.