India Masala

Tees Maar Khan: Don’t fall for this con

December 24, 2010
Whether or not you want to sit through Farah Khan’s “Tees Maar Khan”, you should watch the end credits. The whole cast is shown “at the Oscars”, apparently getting Academy Awards for the film. The whole sequence is farcical and reeks of arrogance, especially when you consider the kind of film you have been subjected to. Yes, I did say subjected to because one of the year’s most awaited and hyped films has turned out to be a dud of the highest order. Worse, a director who showed such a lovely, irreverent, tongue-in-cheek style in her earlier films is now resorting to offensive, crass humour that isn’t the least bit funny. Khan has admitted that they have bought the official rights of the Peter Seller starrer “After the Fox”, but nowhere does it reflect in the credits. Instead, the story is credited to Shirish Kunder, who apparently can wear several hats at a time, given that he is also credited for editing, background music, screenplay, dialogue and producer of the film. The story in question is about Tabrez Khan (Akshay Kumar) aka Tees Maar Khan, an “international criminal” and the world’s most ingenious crook. You would find that hard to believe, considering he comes across as someone who is rather dimwitted, and the gags he uses to escape from the clutches of law are hairbrained to say the least. Nevertheless, Khan is asked to rob a huge consignment of antiques from a train, and decides to use a film set as a cover for the heist. He convinces Aatish Kapoor (Akshaye Khanna, perhaps the only ray of light in this film) to act in a film about a group of revolutionaries in British India, and also enlists the help of a small village, convincing the residents that they are all part of the film. Also in the scheme are his cronies, called Dollar, Burger and Soda (don’t ask!) and his airhead girlfriend Anya (Katrina Kaif), who has ambitions of being an actress. Farah Khan’s films are over the top, but in the past, that has been backed by some crackling writing and dialogues, both of which are sorely missing in this film. Some of the gags, (like using a blind albino man to play a Britisher) may be considered offensive, while others are not funny at all. The director tries to bring in some emotion in the form of Khan’s bond with the villagers, into what is supposed to be a comic caper, and ruins it further. The much-talked about ‘Sheila Ki Jawani’ is the only hummable song in the film — everything else just fades away. And the performances are uniformly bad — from Kumar, who hams it up like there is no tomorrow to Katrina Kaif, who must realise that it takes acting skills to play a bad actress. She clearly doesn’t have them. The only good thing about this film is the other Akshay, the one with an “e”. Akshaye Khanna is pitch perfect as the Oscar-obsessed superstar who will do anything to be in Anil Kapoor’s shoes at the Oscar ceremony. But even that isn’t enough reason for you to go and watch this movie. Not worth the humongous ticket prices they are going to charge you to watch this “blockbuster holiday film”.

TMK1Whether or not you want to sit through Farah Khan’s “Tees Maar Khan”, you should watch the end credits. The whole cast is shown “at the Oscars”, apparently getting Academy Awards for the film. The whole sequence is farcical and reeks of arrogance, especially when you consider the kind of film you have been subjected to.

The 10 worst Bollywood films of 2010

December 20, 2010

Shilpa Jamkhandikar looks back at the year that was and picks the 10 films that didn’t really do Bollywood any favours. And here they are in random order -

Band Baaja Baarat: This match works!

December 10, 2010
Anyone who has lived in New Delhi or been to a wedding in the city will immediately identify with the characters and milieu in Maneesh Sharma’s “Band Baaja Baarat”. The chaos, the confusion and excitement that forms a part of every wedding in India is all part of this film, and if you revel in that atmosphere, then the film will suck you in from the beginning. First-time director Maneesh Sharma shows a sure hand and confidence in his craft, as his camera winds through the lanes of West Delhi and into the lives of Shruti and Bittu, two college students who set up a fledgling wedding planning business in the marriage capital of the country. Shruti (Anuskha Sharma), the more practical of the two, makes it clear to Bittu (debutante Ranveer Singh) that she just wants a business partnership and isn’t interested in love. Bittu, who at first tries to flirt with her, soon gives up and they both negotiate the rather high-pressure world of Delhi’s weddings, graduating from Janakpuri (a middle-class suburb) to Sainik Farms (one of Delhi’s most sought-after wedding venues). All this is taken care of in the first half, but in the second half, good old love pops up in the story. Shruti, for all her practicality, falls hard for Bittu, and when he doesn’t seem interested in her, decides she can’t work with him any more, breaking up their “biness” as Bittu calls it. Fortunately, even though you can see the climax a mile away, Sharma keeps it interesting, the dialogue is sparkling with typical Delhi wit and slang and both the leading lady and man share a crackling chemistry, which helps the film considerably. There is no melodrama, and even the most emotional scenes (like the passionate one between the two and the one where they part ways) are in keeping with their characters. With this film, Yash Raj Films returns to its core competency, romance and the great Indian wedding, and truly, no one does them better. If you are a fan of either of the two, then this film is worth your while.

bandbaajaAnyone who has lived in New Delhi or been to a wedding in the city will immediately identify with the characters and milieu in Maneesh Sharma’s “Band Baaja Baarat”.

No Problem: Avoid like the plague

December 10, 2010
We are nearing the end of the year, and everyone who’s anyone is making their year-end lists. Thankfully, I haven’t made mine yet, because how on earth could I leave out Anees Bazmee’s alleged comedy “No Problem” from my list of the worst films of the year? Thank God for small mercies. Akshaye Khanna and Sanjay Dutt play brothers who rob a bank and are on the run from both the police and the owner of the bank. Anil Kapoor plays a police officer, whose wife (Sushmita Sen) has multiple personality disorder and periodically chases him with a knife/axe/gun, for no reason whatsoever. Suneil Shetty plays a con-man who is out to recover some diamonds that he’s been duped of. All of these characters come together to form a semblance of a film. There is no story to speak of otherwise. Almost as a last-ditch attempt to save his film, Bazmee even goes back to his earlier hit, “Singh is Kingg”, in the climax of the film, where everyone is dressed in turbans and singing the title song of that film. It’s ridiculous to say the least. This 2 hour film, with gags like a farting gorilla, a seduction scene between Khanna and Kapoor and a whole host of others, is so excruciatingly painful to watch that even a dentist’s chair would seem like a more attractive proposition. I’m not expecting Hrishikesh Mukherjee style humour from today’s film makers, but the least they can do is keep it simple and real. This is not funny at any level. It’s not just that this is a bad film, what’s worse is that the makers themselves seem like they couldn’t care less. Bazmee and his crew go about the job as if they were making a home video. The reason the comedy doesn’t work is because the director doesn’t take his work seriously. This is haphazard filmmaking at its worst. Avoid like the plague.

NoProblemWe are nearing the end of 2010 and everyone’s making their year-end lists. Thankfully, I haven’t made mine yet, because how on earth could I leave out Anees Bazmee’s alleged comedy “No Problem” from my list of the year’s worst films? Thank God for small mercies.

Phas Gaye Re Obama: The kidnapping saga

December 6, 2010

Phas Gaye Re Obama
“Phas Gaye Re Obama” does not indulge in slapstick comedy, neither does it follow a formula. The beauty of this film is its storyline which is brought out impeccably as the plot unfolds.

Rakht Charitra 2: Story hidden beneath blood and gore

December 3, 2010
If you are willing to look beyond the gory death scenes, the deafening background music and crazy camera angles, there is an interesting story to be told in Ram Gopal Varma’s “Rakht Charitra 2″. The problem is, like in the first part of the film, the actual story is buried deep within, managing to resurface once in a while. “Rakht Charitra 2″, the second part of Varma’s film based on Andhra Pradesh politician Paritala Ravi takes off where the prequel left off — the rise of Ravi (Viveik Oberoi) and his ultimate fall at the hands of Suriya, the son of one of the people he killed on his quest for revenge. In a vicious circle of revenge, Suriya sets out to avenge the deaths of his family at the hands of Ravi, and the two engage in a bloody tussle, giving Varma plenty of scope for junior artistes to be killed off with scythes and pistols, in the middle of streets, in crowded courtrooms and prisons. Sporadically, the camera turns 180 degrees, the music rises to a crescendo even when nothing is happening, and an over-the-top narrator tells us why the revenge saga will never end. Like I said earlier, the battle between the two men is interesting, and the one scene where they are face to face, is one of the powerful ones in “Rakht Charitra 2″. But Varma manages to kill off that chemistry with his loud and almost jingoistic method of story-telling. Of the performances, Oberoi carries on the intensity of his performance in the first film, and Tamil actor Suriya plays his character with conviction and fire. The two leading ladies, Priyamani and Radhika Apte, do have their moments, but their roles don’t give them enough meat to really display much acting. I’m not sure the filmmaker needed to release the two films within three weeks of each other though — I think I was yet to get over the blood and gore in the last one. If you can look beyond all that, this one might be worth a watch.

RC2If you are willing to look beyond the gory death scenes, the deafening background music and crazy camera angles, there is an interesting story to be told in Ram Gopal Varma’s “Rakht Charitra 2″.

Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey: A story worth telling

December 3, 2010
Ashutosh Gowariker seems to have made a career out of period films – both “Lagaan” and “Jodha Akbar” told stories of our past, and in some way, the fight for freedom. Gowariker touches on the same theme again in “Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey”, but this time he chooses to tell a story closer to our times – just 80 years ago in fact. Based on journalist Manini Chatterjee’s book “Do and Die”, “Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey” tells the story of the Chittagong Armoury raid, led by school teacher-turned revolutionary Surjya Sen (played by Abhishek Bachchan) and his band of followers, the majority of which are teenage boys. In a small town in Bengal, Sen plans a simultaneous raid on all English establishments in Chittagong, dreaming of “breathing in fresh air” again. He gathers a motely crew, including two women Kalpana Datta (Deepika Padukone) and Preetilata Waddedar (Vishakha Singh) and a group of teenagers. The group studies plans, carries out reconnaissance, and goes over the plan over and over again. When the plan is put into action though, things don’t always fall in place. Gowariker handles this film in an understated manner – there aren’t fiery speeches or jingoistic dialogue. Unfortunately this understated tone sometimes lapses into a languid pace and there are parts of the first half that you wish were better controlled. The second half is definitely pacier and will keep you engrossed, inspite of some bumps on the road. One of the biggest weaknesses in the film are the performances – as the protagonist, Abhishek Bachchan doesn’t seem to muster up the fire needed for this kind of performance. Some of the supporting cast, especially Sikander Kher also don’t deliver the kind of intensity you’d expect in a film like this. Gowariker gets the setting right, and even though the film wasn’t shot in Chittagong, the southern coast of Maharashtra does form a fitting backdrop to the film and right from the cars to the footballs of the 30’s, it all seems authentic enough. KHHJS is not a perfect film, but Gowariker’s biggest strength is that he chooses a story worth telling. For that reason alone, and to get a glimpse into a much-ignored part of our history, this film is worth a watch.

KHJJS 1Ashutosh Gowariker seems to have made a career out of period films – both “Lagaan” and “Jodhaa Akbar” told stories of our past, and in some way the fight for freedom. Gowariker touches on the same theme again in “Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey” but this time he chooses to tell a story closer to our times — just 80 years ago.

Break Ke Baad: Insipid romance

November 25, 2010
A day before watching “Break Ke Baad”, I heard director Danish Aslam say in a television interview that he and co-writer Renuka Kunzru worked on multiple drafts of the script, polishing it to such an extent that “there was no way we could make a bad film”. I want to ask him, how bad was the first draft Mr Aslam? Because even after multiple drafts, the script is shoddy, the characters are one-dimensional and every scene is filled with bad dialogue. What could have been a smart, sassy comedy about a couple that needs some space becomes a film about a whiny girl and her doormat boyfriend and suddenly you aren’t that interested any more. Deepika Padukone plays Aaliya, who after treating her nice-guy boyfriend Abhay (Imran Khan) like a butler suddenly decides she wants to study abroad and “take a break” so that she can focus on her career and “find herself”. Given that all she does is drink tequila shots, party on the beach and act in college plays, I am not sure if the “focussed” part of her character comes across, even though we are assured many times, by several characters in the film, that Aaliya is a “focussed girl”. Instead of accepting her decision to break up, Abhay decides to woo his ex-girlfriend, drops everything and comes to Australia and decides to move into the same PG accommodation she is staying in, hoping to convince her of his love. Throughout the film, Abhay comes across as a weak person, someone who cleans up after his girlfriend, solves her every problem and basically behaves like an over-protective hen. No wonder she wants some space. Aaliya on the other hand comes across as an air-headed, spoilt brat. These are people who can afford to do nothing in life but live off their parents’ money, think that “focussing on life” means partying on a beach, miraculously get roles in international films after one lousy college play and open several restaurants in a foreign city within year. Why would you have any sympathy for them? Director Aslam makes sure his actors look great, but everything else seems to be on the periphery. The film is too long-drawn-out and at some point I lost track of whether Abhay and Aaliya were together or had broken up. And I didn’t care. Of the cast, Imran Khan brings the exact same expressions he had in “I Hate Luv Storys” into this film. Deepika Padukone looks good and seems to be improving in the acting department, so there is a silver lining there. Special mention to Lillette Dubey, who in a miniscule role as Abhay’s much-married aunt, steals the film’s best lines. Watch this film only if you have a penchant for sappy romance or for the clothes and locales. Everything else is just not worth the ticket price.

BKBA day before watching “Break Ke Baad”, I heard director Danish Aslam say in a television interview that he and co-writer Renuka Kunzru worked on multiple drafts of the script, polishing it to such an extent that “there was no way we could make a bad film”.

Guzaarish: Slow death

November 19, 2010
Guzaarish: Prepare to die At one point in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s “Guzaarish”, the protagonist of the film, Ethan Fernandes, sings “it’s a wonderful world” while his mother is being buried. It’s a poignant moment, one where you feel the pain of the man. It’s also one of the very few genuine moments you will find in the film. Everything else, like Aishwarya’s Rai make-up in the film, seems fake and loud, and as a result, puts you off. The emotions, the set design, the dialogues, Hrithik Roshan’s beard are all out of this world, residing in some alien world that only Bhansali inhabits. I’m from Goa (where the film is set) and I can assure you, I don’t know of too many Goan women who wear Victorian skirts, have elaborate hairdo’s and bright lipstick, all the while nursing a paraplegic man. Actually, I don’t if women anywhere do that. The said paraplegic man is played by Hrithik Roshan, a former magician, who after a magic trick gone wrong, is paralysed from neck down and confined to a wheelchair for the last twelve years, we are told. He seems unfazed by his plight though, hosting a radio show from his run-down mansion, with the help of his loyal nurse Sofia (Aishwarya Rai, wearing said Victorian skirts and lipstick), who, when she is not helping him brush his teeth, is primly embroidering sheets. One minute he is telling listeners to live life to the fullest and the next, he asks his lawyer friend (Shernaz Patel) to file a euthanasia (or as he calls is Ethanasia) petition in the court, asking for permission to die. The rest of the film chronicles his efforts in this direction. It is also peppered with more characters that seem out of the world, including a young man keen to learn magic and talk as loudly as he can (Aditya Roy Kapoor), Ethan’s doctor, Dr Nayak (Suhel Seth), and Ehtan’s mother, who says she cares for her son very much, but lives far away from him, never calling or visiting. The problem with all of this is that it seems designed to get your sympathy. The fly on Ethan’s nose, him getting drenched because of a leaking roof, the death of his mother, the accident, all of it seems too melodramatic, too put on. It’s almost as if Bhansali is determined to extract every little tear hidden in yours eyes. The only one’s he managed to extract out of mine was when I was laughing at the sight of Suhel Seth jumping into Ethan’s bed to hug him. You are never told the reason why Ethan decides to die after twelve years of living life as a paraplegic. What triggered the decision? The climax gives us no answers, instead we are subjected to a long “thank you” speech, which is boring to say the least. In a film with over-the-top performances (watch Patel have a row with Rai, all the while nibbling a slice of bread and some tea and you will know what I mean), Hrithik Roshan is the saving grace. He bring a trace of sanity to Ethan’s sometimes crazy behaviour, and uses his face to convey his emotions so well that you are almost willing to forgive him the crazy laughter and the Jesus-like appearance. He is the only reason to watch this film. guzaarish

Golmaal 3: Thrice as painful

November 5, 2010

golmaal 3If you’ve seen the earlier two “Golmaal” films, you have a fair inkling of what the third one is about. These are custom-made films, tailored to the “festive mood” when filmmakers think audiences will laugh at anything and pay any amount of money if you promise them a fun-filled entertaining film.