India Masala

Bollywood and culture in an emerging India

D-Day: Gripping enough

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(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters)

The search for India’s most wanted criminal and a fictitious operation to capture him in Pakistan is a great idea for a Bollywood movie. Filmmaker Nikhil Advani uses this premise in “D-Day” and exploits it to maximum effect.

Advani builds a gripping tale that chronicles a covert operation to bring back Goldman, a fictional mafia don undoubtedly based on Dawood Ibrahim. He lives in Pakistan, masterminds terrorist attacks in India, is protected by the government of the country and speaks to his henchmen in Marathi (The real-life Dawood Ibrahim is from Ratnagiri district in Maharashtra).

Told for the most part through flashbacks, “D-Day” has interesting characters and even though the 153-minute film has its sluggish moments, the plot is intriguing enough to hold the viewer’s attention.

Irrfan plays Wali Khan, a Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) agent based in Pakistan who is posing as a barber in a small town. Khan, along with the mysterious Rudra Pratap Singh (Arjun Rampal) and two other agents (Huma Qureshi and Aakash Dahiya) plot the kidnapping of Goldman (Rishi Kapoor in a flamboyant role) from Pakistan.

Tezz: Slow and unsteady

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Film-maker Ram Gopal Varma, in a recent chat, said films are like products which have to be manufactured and treated accordingly. I’m sure Priyadarshan agrees. He certainly seems to make his films like assembly line products — all style, no substance.

Tezz“, similar to the Japanese movie “The Bullet Train”, is supposed to be a high-speed action thriller about a bomb on a long-distance train. Ajay Devgn plays Aakash Rana, an illegal immigrant in London who is deported to India, along with his co-workers after he is found working without a permit.

Players: Good action, bad acting

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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.

Director duo Abbas-Mustan make sure there’s plenty to keep you on the edge of your seat, and even though the film drags on longer than it should, you are still not looking to bolt from the hall.

Don 2: Don’t expect too much

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It’s been a while since Bollywood dished out a slick, fast-paced action film. Wait, who am I kidding? Bollywood doesn’t do fast-paced action films any more, we just turn to Hollywood to get our share of those. So kudos to Farhan Akhtar that he thought of attempting it — not once but twice.

While the first was a remake of the 70s hit “Don”, the sequel is an entirely new story, and doesn’t have too many connections with the previous film, except for some of the characters who make a comeback.

Force: If only muscles could act

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When a movie has at least three prominent product placements in the first ten minutes of a film, you are bound to cringe. Nishikant Kamat’s “Force” will make you wince, at least in the first half of the film, and not just because of the product placements. Thankfully, unlike most films, this one gets better — so there is hope yet.

Kamat, who earlier directed “Mumbai Meri Jaan” — on the Mumbai train blasts and its aftermath — now turns to the essential cop film. You know the drill — honest, upright police officer, out to finish the bad guys (the drug dealers in this case), falls in love with bubbly girl whose only actual function is two songs and being kidnapped by the bad guys, and lots of action scenes in deserted warehouses.

Bodyguard: Protect yourself

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Watching a Salman Khan film ‘first day first show’ is an experience in itself. I watched it in a multiplex, where there were snaking queues full of excited fans, hoping they’d get tickets for the first show of “Bodyguard”. They were hooting, cheering and screaming in the aisles even before the movie started.

When Khan made his appearance on screen a few minutes into the film, grown men were dancing and cheering him on. This is clearly a star with ample charisma and a fanatical fan following who don’t care for technicalities like good cinema. “Bodyguard”, written and directed by Siddique, is in the same mould as Salman’s earlier Eid hits “Wanted” and “Dabangg”, showcasing the star’s romancing, fighting and comedy skills, thus rendering things like the story and screenplay useless.

Singham: Ham, beef and not much else

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Rohit Shetty’s “Singham”,  a remake of a Tamil film, is a cop movie that is perhaps meant as a tribute to the 80s “angry young man” and the theme of the lone, honest police officer taking on the rotting system.

Ajay Devgn plays that honest cop — Bajirao Singham, a police inspector in a remote village in Goa who maintains peace and calm in the village by using his goodwill with the villagers. When he is transferred to “Goa city” (I always thought it was a state) after crossing paths with a don-turned-politician, Singham is confronted with a corrupt system, cynical co-workers and threats from the politician.

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