India Masala

Bol Bachchan: All talk, no substance

July 6, 2012

A one-line review saying “this is a Rohit Shetty” film would suffice for most movies this director churns out with billion-rupee regularity, but “Bol Bachchan” is different. This time, Shetty has attempted to remake one of Hindi cinema’s most iconic comedies, one which shares its name with the series of films that gave Shetty his first hits in the industry.

Players: Good action, bad acting

January 6, 2012

You cannot help but compare the last film of 2011 with the first film of 2012. Both have a lot in common — “Don 2″ and “Players” are both heist films, both borrow heavily from Hollywood movies and have their share of over-the-top cheesy moments. There is just one thing that sets “Players” apart — there’s a lot more action in this one.

Dum Maaro Dum: Wayward, but worth a watch

April 22, 2011
Rohan Sippy’s “Dum Maaro Dum” attempts to take a hard look at the drug mafia in the tourist heaven of Goa through the eyes of a ruthless police officer. Abhishek Bachchan plays the protagonist Vishnu Kamat, a once-corrupt officer who mends his ways and is called on to “clean Goa of drugs” by an ailing minister. Sippy uses a non-linear mode of narration, zigzagging from one character to another, lending a zippy pace to the first half of the film. Part of the film’s landscape is Lorry (Prateik) a young student who is lured into the drug trade in exchange for the dream of a life in the United States. Also criss-crossing his paths are Joki, (Rana Daggubati), a laidback musician and his one-time girlfriend turned gangster’s moll, Zoe (Bipasha Basu). Thanks to some good writing and zany dialogues, Sippy manages to keep you engrossed in the first half of the film, even though he is let down by a some-what weak performance from his lead actor. Sridhar Raghavan’s dialogue is sparkling for the most part and you can almost forgive him some school boyish lines, like “aajkal criminals bhi Facebook aur Twitter pe hai” (These days, even criminals are on Facebook and Twitter), uttered by Kamath after going through a suspect’s phone. Sippy tries to pack in too much and ends up doing no justice any of the tracks in the film. His villain is named Biscuitta and there is a sequence in which Bachchan raps his way through a couple of police encounters, which looks ridiculous and far from cool. Abhishek Bachchan doesn’t bring anything new to his character, nor does Southern actor Rana Daggubati, making his Bollywood debut in the film. Nevertheless, this one is worth a watch for the great cinematography (Amit Roy) and some good writing. “Dum Maaro Dum” could have been much better had the director seemed more in control of the film, but it is better than most of what Bollywood has dished out this year. I suggest you give this one a chance.

Dum Maaro DumRohan Sippy’s “Dum Maaro Dum” attempts to take a hard look at the drug mafia in the tourist haven of Goa through the eyes of a ruthless police officer.

Game: This one’s a washout

April 1, 2011

game1Everybody loves a good murder – and unfortunately, Bollywood doesn’t do too many of them. Abhinay Deo’s “Game” tries to fill that void, with a murder mystery about a tycoon who is shot dead on his private island.

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.

Raavan: Very little Mani, and absolutely no magic

June 18, 2010

raavanThe overwhelming feeling as one leaves the theatre after having watched “Raavan” is one of disappointment. Make that huge disappointment. Could it be that one of this generation’s finest filmmakers, is credited as director in this disjointed, mediocre effort?

Paa: Flawed but gives us a whole new Bachchan

December 4, 2009

paa1First things first. “Paa” belongs to Amitabh Bachchan. And Vidya Balan. Or actually it belongs to Auro and his mother. Because that’s who you really see on screen and that is the hallmark of a great performance.

Delhi 6: Mehra’s mirror has many faces

February 20, 2009

At the end of the first half of “Delhi 6″, a friend messaged me to ask what I thought of the film.

Dostana: A spectacular first half but nothing great overall

November 15, 2008

‘Dostana’ is a path-breaking Bollywood film alright. Maybe not for gay rights but certainly the number of times the word ‘gay’ has been used in a single film.

Drona — more flaws than fantasy

October 3, 2008

drona.jpg My most reliable test of judging a fantasy film is whether I notice the person sitting in the next seat – if I do, that means the film wasn’t gripping enough for me to be totally absorbed in it.