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Main aurr Mrs Khanna October 19, 2009

Posted by Shujath in Hindi, Movies, Reviews.
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Prem R Soni is credited for the Story, Screenplay, Dialogues and Direction for this film. After conceiving the film, at some point of time he seems to have come to the conclusion that a movie with all the four aspects might be very complex. To keep it simple, he decides to do away with most of the aforementioned details. When the movie ends, you practically keep scratching your head wondering if something really happened in the film and if it did how come you didn’t spot it.

Mr. Khanna (Salman Khan) loses his job in Melbourne. To recoup, he plans to move to Singapore but unceremoniously tries packing off Mrs. Khanna (Kareena Kapoor) to India. Shocked by this harsh move Mrs. Khanna sets up shop in the airport until her husband’s return. In comes Akash (Sohail Khan) who is instantly smitten by Mrs. Khanna and slowly they become close to each other. When Mr. Khanna is back Akash wants to discredit him in Mrs. Khanna’s eyes tries but fails. Inevitably Mr. Khanna confronts Mrs. Khanna about Akash but Mrs Khanna is too dumb to believe that Akash could be love with her. She then decides to confront Akash with the same question – Akash responds rather diplomatically and has an inexplicable change of heart….and the movie ends. There is a so called twist in the end which is supposed to justify Akash’s behavior – but that actually only serves to finally convince Mrs. Khanna (who still can’t believe it!!!) about Akash’s love.

The most bewildering thing about this film is that you have no clue what it is trying to say (or is trying to say something in the first place?) Why does Akash change his mind out of the blue? What about Mr. Khanna who is portrayed as a rather eccentric and unpleasant person for most of the film but towards the end he seems to be exonerated? What exactly is going on in Mrs. Khanna’s mind? What is Bappi Lahiri doing in the film? Why did Preity Zinta have such an awfully bad cameo? In a way Main aurr Mrs Khanna is the most thought provoking film of the year since the number of questions you might want to ask Prem Soni could easily exceed the size of his script.

On the brighter side, this is not really a bad watch if you discount the B-list supporting cast (and promise not to ask too many questions). Sajid-Wajid come up with a pretty good soundtrack which is quite refreshing compared to their usual dance numbers.  All the lead actors perform well but how do you rise above the script when there isn’t one. Main aurr Mrs Khanna is a one-of-a-kind movie which just seems to exist because it has to – it’s your call if you want to watch it for that.

Videsh (Heaven on Earth) March 30, 2009

Posted by Shujath in Hindi, Movies, Punjabi, Reviews.
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The theme of domestic violence isn’t new (and isn’t too exciting either) but with someone like Deepa Mehta at the helm of things one surely does expect something interesting. Watching Deepa’s film turned out to be nowhere close to a “Heaven on Earth” experience for me. It was quite a frustrating film which at times seemed intriguing but never really got me involved.

The source material for this is a play by Girish Karnad called Naagmandala – from which you can infer has got to do something with a “Naag”. It is only towards the latter part of the film that you actually grab the significance of Preity’s monologues about some incomprehensible tale about “Sheshnaag”. Till that point it turns out to be most uninteresting and irritating part of the film. Coming back to the main proceedings I couldn’t really quite understand the cause of the treatment meted out to Chand (Preity Zinta) by her husband Rocky (Vansh Bharadwaj) and mother-in-law (Balinder Johal). Sometimes the reason seems to be plain anger vented out due to their financial condition; at times it is also suggested that Rocky himself is a victim of his seemingly overprotective mother and whatever he does to Chand could be a possible reaction to his own condition. Chand’s sister-in-law also speaks to her in a tone as if she knows the reason for everything happening in that house but never bothers to let it out.

Generally films pose questions without providing an answer but Videsh expects the viewer to come up with the questions as well. The only thing I liked is the way the film is shot. It is set in Canada but all you see is from the point of view of the protagonist i.e her house and her workplace which actually looks quite scary. But I could never really understand the significance of the black and white footage used randomly – initially it seemed like it referred to a relatively happy moment in Chand’s life but that doesn’t turn out to be the case.

Preity Zinta is too good and I must say she was the only reason I could sit through this. Until recently, I’ve never thought her to be a great performer but her last few films have proved otherwise. Vansh Bharadwaj is also excellent. You have to be extremely generous to the film to end up liking it. I tried hard but I couldn’t. Watch it if you have to only for Preity. I still am surprised that Deepa Mehta made such a contrived film like this.

Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi December 15, 2008

Posted by Shujath in Hindi, Movies, Reviews.
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Blame it on Rab! – Easy isn’t it? That’s what Aditya Chopra pretty much does in every phase of what probably is the most moronic offering from Yash Raj Films in recent times. It’s a pity because the film starts off so well and I was wondering why on earth was it getting mixed reviews. Twenty minutes or so into the movie I started to know why.

RNBDJ is about this average-looking and shy Surinder Sahni (Shahrukh Khan) who happens to get married to the bubbly Taani (Anushka Sharma) unexpectedly after her fiance dies in an accident followed by her father. Both know that this is a marriage of compromise and Taani makes it clear to Surinder that she would never be able to love him. Big hearted Surinder seems completely reconciled to this fact and is happy enough to have received Taani’s promise of being a “good wife”. A few days later Taani expresses her desire to join a reality dance show and Surinder agrees. Now Surinder is happy to see Taani happy and decides to undergo a complete makeover (also rechristening himself “Raj” – what else!) just so that he can sneak into the dance rehersals to watch her “be happy”. Dumb Taani can’t figure it out because the moustache is missing. Raj and Taani slowly become friends and “kyonki ek ladka aur ladki kabhi dost nahin ho sakte” Raj proposes to Taani.

Some explanations are needed here to figure out Surinder’s state of mind. Initially he seems to be an introverted guy with the usual insecurites unable to express his love to his wife. Somehow, after an image makeover all that seems to disappear. Later he wants to test Taani if she loves “her husband” or “Raj”. The answer is obvious to him but now he is kinda adamant that she love Surinder and not Raj. And this is the same man who at the beginning of the movie doesn’t object to his wife telling him that she cannot love him. At the end of all this Surinder comes across as a person who loves to indulge in a lot of self-pity and nothing else. It is even harder to understand Taani. She spends all of her time with Raj and it’s only when he proposes to her that she remembers “Oh…I forgot to tell you that I am married!”. Coming back to the dilemma – who and how does she make her choice? Raj gives the ultimate solution – Choose the one “Jisme Tumhe Rab Dikhta Ho”. Dumb Taani again takes this line literally. Because, next day she is at the Golden Temple with Surinder earnestly begging God to make an appearance in some person – guess whose face Ravi K. Chandran’s camera is focussed on when Taani opens her eyes…problem solved! Thank You Rabji!!!

Apart from this uplifting story you also get to learn a couple of brilliant insights about women like (i) The only thing which any woman wants in life is that someone love her as much as it is possible for one person to love another (ii) A woman recognizes her partner more effectively through his dance moves than his facial features and voice. Shahrukh and Anuskha are very appealing as Surinder and Taani until our lady spots the dance competition poster. From thereon I found it hard to empathize with any of them and especially towards the end I felt like pushing both of them off a cliff. Vinay Pathak as Bobby seemed like the only sane character in the film and one hopes if Surinder actually listented to what he said.

The dialogue apart from being bad has an insanely high overdose of “ji” splattered in every line which gets on to your nerves. Among the few redeemable moments are the beautifully filmed songs “Haule Haule” and “Hum Hain Raahi Pyaar Ke”. The prelude to the “Haule Haule” number which keeps appearing in the background is too good. The film is shot extremely well but the small town setting which was supposed to be conveyed doesn’t work because everything you see in the movie is a set piece except for the title sequence and one scene at the Golden Temple.

In RNBDJ, there are some movies which Surinder takes Taani out for. It is tough to find out whether those were meant to be a parody or not because at the end RNBDJ looks exactly like one of them. One more note to Adi: Please stop referencing Dhoom in your movies as if that is some cult flick which needs to be paid a tribute every time. Aditya Chopra was the creative brain behind a lot of much maligned YRF products in the last few years. When you watch his unadulterated crap in the form of RNBDJ you can guess the amount of influence he might have had in those other films.

All said and done, RNBDJ also has a large share of emotionally manipulative moments (the Sumo Wrestling scene tops the list) which should appeal to a sizeable section of the audience – and may end up becoming a money spinner. I actually would have recommended everyone to watch this one because it genuinely qualifies to be a “so bad it’s good” flick but it requires that you invest a huge amount of patience which is totally unwarranted. You might probably want to give this a try for the aforementioned reason when it comes out on TV or DVD.

Heroes October 27, 2008

Posted by Shujath in Hindi, Movies, Reviews.
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Heroes has a huge cast to boast of as its USP – a closer look and you’ll realize most of them are non-happening ones. That’s not really the issue if the film had something really nice to offer. Conceptually, it sounds quite good. A group of guys have to submit a film to get their graduate film degrees and they end up choosing their subject as “Why not to join the Army!”

As they begin their research, Saand (Sohail Khan) and Nawab Saab (Vatsal Seth) are advised by a war reporter (Mohnish Behl – on screen after a long time) to deliver the last letters of three slain Jawans to their respective families. How this journey changes their mindset is what this film is supposed to be. From each of these trips all they (and we) really get to hear trite desh-bhakti and “national pride” dialogues from each of the families. Initially our protagonists intended to hear dukh-bhari stories and laments from their hosts which they thought would buttress the point were trying to make through their film…..but on hearing the contrary their whole viewpoint changes suddenly. In fact years later they end up running a “national pride” school – whatever that means!

If this film was intended to be the director’s personal tribute to the army then maybe it works but as a viewer I had an absolutely bland cliche-filled experience. The only person I was really feeling sorry for was Sunny Deol who gets to do the most cringeworthy role in his career. It’s a classic case where an attempt to get the audience pumped up turns laughably ridiculous (more so because poor Sunny goes through the whole thing with such sincerety). Even the Mithun-Dino thread which seemed to be promising (and expectedly Mithun is in great form) is woefully underdeveloped. It’s only the piece featuring Preity, Salman and the kid which fits in well and that too mostly because of their performances. The only notable song in the movie “Mannata” (which is basically a typically Salman Khan Chunari number retrofitted to new lyrics) is also part of this thread. Preity especially is top notch.

As for the main protagonists Vatsal Seth has pretty much nothing to do except accompanying Sohail while the latter as usual shines in the comic moments (no matter how silly they might seem) but nothing much to write home about elsewhere. Before its release, the stars and filmmakers were talking a lot about how this film is absoultely not jingoistic unlike others in the genre. It’s true to some extent but that is compensated for in other ways.

Samir Karnik’s third attempt is a much better effort than his first (which I had the misfortune of watching three years back) but there really is nothing much to look forward to unless you are someone who believes that a film about “patriotism” is intrinsically good.