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Veer January 28, 2010

Posted by Shujath in Hindi, Movies, Reviews.
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You might have seen the savage bashing this flick has received till now, so I’ll skip that part and write about a few redeeming things about Veer. For starters, when he isn’t sleepwalking through a movie Salman can pull off just about anything and Veer is a perfect example of that. No, it’s far from being a good film but ironically it’s camp quotient works to an extent to make it to the watchable category.

Honestly, I don’t know how Anil Sharma’s Gadar became such a huge hit but the only thing which I actually liked about the film is that one song (Udja Kale Kawa) – which keeps popping up at crucial moments and somehow (unintentionally) seemed to capture the true essence of the film (which was non-existent in the first place). Anil Sharma successfully repeats that in Veer with a couple of numbers – Surili Akhiyon Wali and Kanha – and that’s why I actually liked the film more than I had wanted to. Indeed, the surprise really are Sajid-Wajid who come up with an overall winning score. Apart from the two numbers mentioned before there’s the wonderful “Meherbaaniyan” track – equally well filmed (isn’t is unthinkable not to have an energetic Salman dance number!!!).

Well…that’s pretty much what I liked about the film. Coming to the performances, except for Mithun and Salman none make an impact. I would love to see both of them together again in a better film. I wouldn’t really recommend this film to anyone – except maybe for a Salman Khan fan (or if you happen to share to my quirks for Anil Sharma’s musical money-shots).

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London Dreams November 6, 2009

Posted by Shujath in Hindi, Movies, Reviews.
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When I was glancing around reviews for this film I came across many people complaining about how this is an awful “rip-off” of Amadeus. Agreed, that the basic characterizations of Ajay Devgn and Salman Khan are inspired from the latter film’s protagonists but calling that a remake or a rip-off makes me wonder if they actually have seen that film. Another recurring complaint is about how it fails to match Rock On!! – well…why on earth does one expect it be a Rock-On!! when the makers never promised anything like that.

Anyways, Vipul Shah’s latest directorial venture is a suprisingly effective old-school tale about friendship and jealousy. It doesn’t take much time for anyone to realize that the whole rock-band thing is nothing more than a backdrop to this story. Arjun (Ajay Devgn) – an extremely ambitious guy whose sole aim in life is to perform at Wembley. However, as he comes closer to acheiving his dream his limelight is effortlessly stolen by his carefree childhood friend Mannu (Salman Khan) – who ends up dealing a double blow by wowing the crowds and wooing his girl. Arjun decides to get back at Mannu by bringing him down in everyone’s eyes – albeit he also has guilt pangs for doing the same.

Most of the film is quite breezy and a lot of fun while not deviating much from the main plot but it gets rather inconsistent (and ineffective) when things start getting a bit serious. Yet, one has to applaud Vipul Shah for the mature way in which he handles the last portions of the film (especially if you’ve seen in his last two films how cringeworthy he can get when it comes to melodrama). If London Dreams fails it is only because the writing in the second half (the emotional scenes) does not do justice to the intensity of the actors involved – which is why those portions don’t seem so heartfelt. Shah admitted in an interview about excising a lot of those scenes due to the runtime which answers to an extent why that part didn’t work.

Another thing is probably Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy’s score which has its share of great and not-so-great tunes. This aspect is rather glaring because all the average numbers turn up only in the concerts (with the exception of the wonderful “Khwaab” track which I must say covers most of the failings of the second half).

But it is hard to keep picking flaws when you have the powerful duo of Ajay Devgn and Salman Khan in superb form. Ajay’s grudge in the movie is that everybody loves Salman – it’s no wonder the latter’s role is written keeping that aspect in mind. Whether you love or hate the film, you cannot but be charmed by Salman. The box office still has not been completely kind to him but the superstar has truly begun to shine again. Asin, Rannvijay Singh and Aditya Roy Kapoor are just passable.

For me London Dreams worked completely because I haven’t seen a film in a very long time which had such an authentic “feel-good” vibe about it. It could have been a lot better but given its merits the flaws are very easily forgivable. Go for it…

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.

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!

Yuvvraaj November 25, 2008

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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.

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.