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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.

Saawariya November 11, 2007

Posted by Sai in Hindi, Movies, Reviews.
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I fell in love with the theatrical trailer of this film the first time I saw it. The trailer seemed to be a small piece out of director Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s canvas for Saawariya and I was waiting with bated breath for the completed painting. Though the master paints a great picture and transforms the audience into a dream world envisioned in his mind, he falters with the content.

First, the positives. The visual style of this film is striking. Bhansali (Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, Devdas, Black) has always made visually pleasing, dramatic films. The former aspect is always the one that sticks the most in my mind. This film is no different. He creates a world of his own for this film. A city that doesn’t exist anywhere. One which borrows from many locations. A place where the weather follows Bhansali’s imagination. The film is completely shot on opulent sets that are wonderfully designed to exact specifications (the lighting choices are not the best at times) and even the sky isn’t real (visual effects are quite good). To bring this predominantly blue-green world to life, Bhansali collaborates with production designer Omung Kumar (and Vanita Omung Kumar) and cinematographer Ravi K Chandran (who were also a part of Black). The costumes (Rajesh Pratap Singh, Reza Shariffi, Anuradha Vakil) are beautiful, the choreography (Shiamak Davar, Ganesh Hegde, Mallu, Pappu) is superb and even the movements of the actors in the individual scenes seem to be choreographed by Bhansali. And the result is some brilliantly imagined and executed visuals. This film provides enough enchantment for the eyes to warrant a watch (for those that are interested in that sort of thing). My favorite scene in this film is the one where the main protagonists are jumping over puddles of water (that are also specially created).

The film is a musical in the Hollywood sense of the term (with a song popping up every few minutes and poetry replacing the spoken word) and the soundtrack is remarkable. Monty Sharma (Pyarelal’s nephew and Mithoon’s cousin) makes a commendable debut. It is hard to pick one favorite from among the two versions of Saawariya, Masha Allah, Yoon Shabnami and Thode Badmash (whose tune was composed by Bhansali himself). The quality of the lyrics (Sameer, Sandeep Nath, Nusrat Badr) is great and the singers do a superb job too. Debutants Shail Hada, Parthiv Gohil together with Kunal Ganjawala and Shreya Ghoshal do their best in rendering the painstakingly created numbers as they add their bit in creating some unforgettable songs.

Bhansali extracts good performances from the star kids in their launch vehicle. Ranbir Kapoor (Rishi Kapoor’s offspring) makes an impressive debut and the film revolves around his character. He is a charming young fellow that seems set for bigger things. Bhansali pays tribute to Raj Kapoor in numerous ways including a visual recreation of the RK banner’s logo. Even Rishi Kapoor is invoked a couple of times. Sonam Kapoor (Anil Kapoor’s daughter) is a beautiful girl and her smile is captivating. She emotes well and shows potential. Though Rani Mukherjee, who isn’t specially impressive, gets a character that is an important part of the script, I am not convinced about the necessity of its presence in the film. Salman Khan has very little to do in his special appearance. Zohra Sehgal gets a neat supporting part and she is charming as usual.

Now, the negatives. The problem with this film that it remains a short story (based on “White Nights” by Fyodor Dostoyevsky), one that can actually be described in a few lines (Boy falls in love with girl. Girl is waiting for her lover, who may never show up. Boy tries his best too woo the girl. And I’ll leave the rest to your imagination). The screenplay (Bhansali and Prakash Kapadia) does little to add meat to the story. Interestingly enough, the underlying theme is sort of like Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam revisited, shortened and reversed to an extent. The characters are clearly from the Bhansali world but they stop short of being memorable. The film does have its share of fascinating moments but not enough to make it a very good one.

This film is most definitely not one that is looking to entertain like a Bollywood potboiler. The film unfolds at its own pace but provides an experience that is firmly entrenched in my mind. I am not sure that this film will be a crowd pleaser (its business prospects might be hampered by Farah Khan’s Shah Rukh Khan starrer Om Shanti Om, which is only looking to entertain) but there will be a select few who will enjoy this greatly.