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All the Best November 6, 2009

Posted by Shujath in Hindi, Movies, Reviews.
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Rohit Shetty’s fetish for car porn just got worse, his gags have become a lot more sillier and predictable – yet All the Best makes you laugh-out-loud for a satisfactory duration of its run-time enough to make you leave the theatre with a smile on your face.

This one’s a very traditional comedy of errors (supposed to be based on the play “Right Bed Wrong Husband” and also with a strong resemblance to the Kamal Haasan starrer Navvandi Lavvandi/Kadhala Kadhala) with the usual mix-ups and the ensuing mayhem – which is so unoriginal that you can correctly guess almost every forthcoming situation. Still, the actors seems to get their timing right most of the time and do succeed in tickling your funny bone. But beware that a film like this only works when you watch it in a theatre with a large crowd.

For me the best part of this movie is to see Sanjay Dutt back in form – especially after that horrendous Blue. He doesn’t do comedy much but has always delivered the few times he’s tried. As always Ajay Devgn manages to be very funny in Rohit Shetty’s films. Fardeen Khan and the girls have nothing much to do. Johnny Lever is quite impressive and he actually gets a meaty role after a very long time. Another surprise is Sanjay Mishra who brings down the house every time with his one note “Just Chill”. The rest of the supporting cast also delivers mostly.

If Rohit Shetty could have let gone of those unbearable car, action and song sequences All the Best could have been a memorable comedy; but I am sure he is so addicted to them that wishing something like that is a big joke. In any case this one works just fine for a lazy weekend watch.

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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.

Kidnap October 5, 2008

Posted by Sai in Hindi, Movies, Reviews.
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Kidnap has two things going for it. The first one is director Sanjay Gadhvi, whose name is now recognized post the success of the Dhoom films. The second is Imran Khan, fresh from the success of Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na. While the latter proves to be the only watchable actor in the film, the former fails to deliver.

Sonia (Minissha Lamba) is a spoilt rich kid of divorced parents (Sanjay Dutt and Vidya Malvade). She is kidnapped just before her eighteenth birthday by Kabir (Imran Khan), who has a score to settle with her father. While Kabir’s motives remain a mystery, he sets the father some tough tasks to do in order to win his daughter back. The father succeeds in his tasks but can he get his daughter back and more importantly, what does Kabir want?

When the film starts off with an imaginatively done picture story of Kabir’s past, you think it won’t be bad but as soon as the title sequence ends, Minissha comes out of nowhere singing and dancing and you know its time to re-evaluate. I couldn’t stop laughing whenever Minissha showed up in yet another sexy outfit in the kidnapper’s den. And when Dutt finally sees his daughter after eight long years, he goes “You look so..” and pauses. The audience gasped “sexy” even before he could say “grown-up”.

The film is written by Shibani Bathija (Fanaa, Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna), which means that you need to expect some overdone emotional moments that could bring unexpected laughter. With Gadhvi in place as director, you can expect a combination of babes in short clothes (one bikini sequence is a must) followed or preceded by exciting action sequences and limited logic. But there are problems here. Bikinis and cleavage don’t make anyone sexy and Lamba fails to ooze any real sensuality and her performance mars the film to an extent. An even bigger issue is watching an aged and overweight Sanjay Dutt chasing trains, climbing buildings, dancing, romancing and running in slow motion. This brings down the film further.

Imran Khan doesn’t look menacing but he is quite believable as the kidnapper and the chase sequence that he features in is the only exciting action piece. Apart from him, the casting in this film is a disaster. Malvade (Chak De) looks and performs much better than a disappointing Lamba (Bachna Ae Haseeno) but you do cringe when she has to kiss a much much older looking Dutt. Dutt better do something about his weight because it is hard to watch him in anything that requires movement. When Lamba can be seventeen and Malvade can pass off as her mother, Hrithik Roshan or Abhishek Bachchan or someone in their age group could have played the father and maybe the action sequences could have been more believable.

Kidnap isn’t trying to be much more than a masala film but it goes wrong in many ways. The plot isn’t a bad one for such a film but the casting, performances, writing, dialogue and execution leave a lot to be desired.

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.

Jannat – In Search of Heaven May 18, 2008

Posted by Shujath in Hindi, Movies, Reviews.
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A day before its release, Mahesh Bhatt said in an interview that “Jannat will be Emraan’s Naam”. During his heyday, Mahesh Bhatt made films like Naam and Gumraah which dealt with the theme of vulnerable people caught in a world of crime in a foreign land, unable to let go of it and end up paying for it dearly. There are some other films of his (or from his production house) which have dwelt on the same thing (Gangster and Awarapan being the recent) but the two films I mentioned before are the ones which made a strong impact on me.

So, Jannat ventures into familiar Bhatt territory and indeed it is watchable and quite engaging at times. But somehow it lacks the emotional impact I’d expected and doesn’t stay with you too long after you’re done watching it. Arjun (Emraan Hashmi) is a compulsive gambler who gets drawn into the world of cricket betting once he discovers his “sixth sense” for predicting events in any match. Meanwhile, he has also fallen for Zoya (Sonal Chauhan) and woos her with some stupid Bollywood tricks. A bit of digression here – For anyone who has trouble believing that Emraan Hashmi is a “superstar” in his own right – here is the acid test. If someone can pull of absolute crap in style on screen and still make you like him he qualifies to be a real “star”. Watch Emraan do the same here and you’ll know what I am saying. Coming back to the story, Arjun climbs his next step on the ladder of success by becoming a “match fixer” for an famous underworld kingpin Abu Ibrahim (Jawed Sheikh) in South Africa. Now, there’s also a cop (Samir Kochhar) in hot pursuit of Arjun.

Firstly, if you decide to watch this film then please don’t have any misconceptions that this one revolves around match-fixing and that you’ll get to see how it all actually happens. It’s just that there had to be a crime backdrop for this story in this case it happens to be match-fixing. Of course, there are references to real life personalities thrown in for some masala. The weakest link and the reason Jannat falls short of being a really nice film is the love story….to be more specific it’s the leading lady – Sonal Chauhan. What she does is okay for the regular romance in the first half but she totally screws up the heavy duty moments later. The audience couldn’t help chuckling whenever she cries. In fact, in hindsight I think it would been better if the plot was something like – Arjun and the cop chasing him were brothers on opposite sides of the law. I am saying that because the interactions between Emraan and Samir are one of the highpoints of the movie.

Anyways, there are other good things which salvage Jannat – Emraan Hashmi being the primary one. This is his most uninhibited performance till now. Nothing new in the kind of role but the way he emotes and his dialague delivery is so believable and natural. He gets to play different shades in the film and he impresses in every way. Way to go Emraan! Two other performances stay with you and they belong to Samir Kochhar and Jawed Sheikh. As the young sincere cop Kochhar is top notch. One wishes he had a longer role to play here. Jawed Sheikh is there for only a few scenes but is so good – we’ve seen him before but looks like he’s finally gotten a role which suits him the best. Then there’s also the now popular “Zara Sa” number with the tradmark Bhatt-camp “Who Oh O….” strain. “Jannat Yahaan” is also nice. The male version of “Lambi Judaai” is surprisingly missing – I thought it’ll show up in the end credits but it doesn’t. Debutant Kunal Deshmukh (credited for both writing and direction) is promising.

Jannat is yet again a good offering from the Bhatts. It definitely could have been lot better but the lack of a good Hindi film in recent times makes this a nice watch.

Race March 22, 2008

Posted by Sai in Hindi, Movies, Reviews.
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Director duo Abbas-Mustan (Baazigar, Khiladi) are famous for their thrillers. With their latest (and biggest) film, they have created a new genre. And I’d like to call this “twister”. Remember, you read the term here first!

Jokes apart, Abbas-Mustan seem to be intent on delivering a blockbuster after their recent flops. Along with writer Shiraz Ahmed (Aitraaz, Humraaz), they fill this film with everything. Stars, style, action, humor, a bit of raunch, sexy girls gyrating to foot-tapping numbers, and most of all – the largest serving ever of twists, turns, surprises and whatever else you want to call them.

Nothing is what it seems in this film. Actually, if you pay close attention, you might be able to guess most of the twists because the directors try their best not to confuse any section of the audience. But that doesn’t necessarily spoil the fun. Because even as you guess it, the surprise is upon you and its time to figure out the next one.

Now, in case you are still wondering, the story and all its glorious twists are pointless. This isn’t something that would happen anywhere else except an Abbas-Mustan film (or its imitations, depending on the success of this film).

The film has star power to bring the audience to the theatres but the acting isn’t special. Anil Kapoor charms his way through the second half and he makes you laugh. Sameera Reddy doesn’t do a bad job with her comic timing as his dumb assistant. Saif Ali Khan and Akshaye Khanna tread familiar terrain (the latter has been in too many Abbas-Mustan films) and don’t do anything different to stand out in particular. Bipasha Basu and Katrina Kaif are passable. Johnny Lever shows up after a long time in one scene.

The film does start off at a slow pace (editor Hussain Burmawala, the brother of the directors, might have been sleeping while editing the first 20 minutes or so) and just when it begins to seem uninteresting, the first surprise spices up things. The dialogue in the first half of this film isn’t impressive. This half lacks humor but the second half fills that void. Pritam provides some hit dance numbers but the theme piece and the romantic Pehli Nazar Mein stand out (and I quite liked the Mujhpe To Jadoo number which wasn’t used in the film). The song visuals aren’t all that impressive and they seem one-dimensional. Allan Amin’s action sequences are good for the most part but a couple of them do fall short. But the action isn’t the prime focus of this film. Remember, this is no Dhoom 2 and anyone who expects it to be might be disappointed.

After reading all this, anyone should be clear that terms like sense or logic do not go well with the description of this film. Questions like “Why did he do that?” and “What was the necessity for that?” are counterintuitive. The number of surprises may numb your senses and vex you. But it can all be fun if you prepare for it. Films like Dhoom 2 and Om Shanti Om are not enjoyed for their stories or realism or character development and neither is this movie. This is an upmarket Abbas-Mustan thriller that has enough masala to go with its shortcomings and it can be a guilty pleasure.