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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.

Bachna Ae Haseeno August 18, 2008

Posted by Shujath in Hindi, Movies, Reviews.
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As Ranbir Kapoor kick-starts the proceedings with his dad’s energetic title song you can’t help but acknowledge again (if you have seen Saawariya) that this guy is absolute star material. And if you thought he showed some promise in his debut what you’ll see him doing here is miles ahead. Also, YRF seems to have made a conscious effort here to project him as their successor to Shahrukh Khan. Alas, one only wishes if the film could have been as good.

Bachna Ae Haseeno is about the quintessential playboy Raj (Ranbir Kapoor) who with his “Rajgiri” gives a massive heartbreak to two women at different times in his life. The first one – Mahi (Minnisha Lamba) is a DDLJ freak who is on the lookout for her “Raj” in Europe and finds one in our Raj. But Raj leaves her after a night’s fling. The second one – Radhika (Bipasha Basu) is an aspiring model who has a live-in arrangement with Raj but is ready to give up everything and get married to him when Raj has to relocate to Australia. But he gets the jitters and slips away on the day they were supposed to get married. Years later when he’s truly fallen in love with Gayatri (Deepika Padukone) and proposes to her, he is rejected (and extremely dejected)….and then he realizes what the other two girls might have felt. Following which he sets out on a redemption tour asking the earlier women in his life for forgiveness. Seems that both ladies haven’t yet gotten over him and as a result screwed up their lives in different ways. Would Raj’s forgive-me mission set things right for them and will he win back the love of Gayatri? – Of course yes! What else can you expect from a Yash Raj Film.

The good things abruptly come to an end once Raj reaches out to Radhika in the second half. Whatever happens from thereon till the end is pretty silly. The most glaring flaw however is the inconsistent handling of Gayatri’s character. In one scene she claims she doesn’t believe in marriage and doesn’t need a man in her life, a few minutes later she is singing a duet with Raj and then when Raj proposes to her she rejects him saying that she won’t marry because he might not let her drive a Taxi during nights to pay for her B-school expenses! And as we come to know towards the end she immediately realizes that rejecting him was wrong and instantly reconciles….how convenient! Looks like Aditya Chopra and Siddharth Anand just wanted to say “When good people dump someone they start feeling sorry asap and try to bring them back into their lives”.

I am pretty sure no one is going to come out this film satisfied but there are lots of factors which still make it worth a watch. For once, the casting and performances are perfect – Minnisha stands out among the ladies more so because hers seems to be the only well-defined character and she has this very cute Punjabi accent. Hiten Paintal as Ranbir’s sidekick is also impressive (apparently both their dads had similar roles in the original film featuring the “Bachna Ae Haseeno” track). Kunal Kapoor (quite unrecognizable at first) appears in a nice cameo. Vishal-Shekhar’s score is apt. The “Khuda Jaane” track stands out and works very effectively when used as part of the background score. Ditto for the trumpet piece from the title track. The foreign locales are exploited quite well too.

Bachna Ae Haseeno could have been a great flick but fails to reach its potential due to some uninspired writing in the second half. But I’d still recommend it to anyone looking for a light-hearted entertainer.

Tashan April 27, 2008

Posted by Shujath in Hindi, Movies, Reviews.
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One of the most awaited films of this year – Tashan is being thrashed all over the place by most critics and audiences. On the face of it, it is yet another of those “guilty pleasure” flicks like Dhoom 2 or Race but rather than trying to pass off its stupidity as intelligence Tashan revels in its dumbness. That’s what probably put off our “high thinking” critics and audiences. Apart from the forced “coolness” at times, I enjoyed Tashan because it was an honest flick which had its intentions clear and doesn’t deviate too far from them.

Jeetendra aka Jimmy Cliff (Saif Ali Khan) is a call center executive who being taken in by the charms of Pooja (Kareena Kapoor) ends up as an English instructor to her boss Bhaiyyaji (Anil Kapoor). Pooja and Jimmy fall in love and now she wants to get away from Bhaiyyaji; for which these two plan to swindle his money. In comes local goon Bachchan Pandey (Akshay Kumar) hired by Bhaiyyaji to trace his money and wipe off Pooja and Jimmy. A few double crossing interspersed with a couple of filmy flashbacks later everyone’s loyalties fall in place.

Writer-Director Vijay Krishna Acharya (who wrote the Dhoom films before) takes an old fashioned revenge drama, gives it a generous Rodriguez/Tarantino coating and a lot of oomph. The end product is far from the perfect blend but it still works. The locales/set design, the styling of the actors and the music/background score dominate every frame and overshadow everything else. There are 2 major action sequences choreographed by Peter Hein but they fail to impress as he mostly lifts those from some of the more prominent South Indian films he has worked for. Interestingly, in a scene when Akshay sends 15-20 men flying around (Tamil-Telugu movie style) half of the audience started clapping. Special mention for Vishal-Shekhar’s rocking score. The theme song “Tashan Mein” which keeps popping up every now and then especially helps when you tend to get restless during the prolonged second half (trimming it definitely would have helped). Rest of the songs are thumping enough and lavishly picturized. Ranjit Barot is credited for the background score and there is one particular short piece which stays with you for quite a while.

But more than anything else what Tashan relies on are the performances of its lead actors. Akshay Kumar gets the most outspoken and in-your-face role and he does full justice to it. His intro was the best of all his scenes. I would say Kareena is really the surprize package because a role like hers comes with a lot of “irritation quotient” attached and in the past she has played parts where she made even normal characters extremely irritating. Somehow this isn’t the case here and she deserves credit for that (and yes…she does don a bikini too!) We don’t need to talk about Anil Kapoor. He’s mastered these supporting roles so well and and more than his crazy Hinglish it is his awestruck reaction to Saif speaking fluent English that is hilarious. Also, he looks great in the “Lakhan” get-up pulling a rickshaw in a few scenes. However, quite a bit of what he speaks is incomprehensible (should probably have been funny if understood) and I wonder how the filmmakers overlooked this aspect. Despite the pre-release hype of having his role being a secret, Saif is the most subdued of them all but nevertheless makes his presence felt.

For me, Tashan came close to the campy B-movie I was waiting Bollywood to make and it kept me smiling most of the time. Go for it only if you can watch it with this perspective.