India Masala

Bollywood and culture in an emerging India

Himmatwala: Do not step into this time warp

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

At the end of a long monologue in “Himmatwala”, where Ajay Devgn rattles off the same sentence in five different languages, he turns to the camera and asks “mazaa nahi aaya na?” (That wasn’t fun, was it?) It’s almost as if director Sajid Khan knew what a bad film he was making, but went ahead and made it anyway.

What they say about the past being viewed through rose-tinted glasses must be true, because if this is what our films were 30 years ago, we should all be glad we’ve moved on. But not Khan. He wants to take us back to corny dialogue, garish sets and the lack of absolutely any logic in the story whatsoever.

This is a film where a mother wants her daughter to go back to the husband who physically abuses her, because a woman can only leave her husband’s home when she dies, no matter what happens. How this attitude is part of a film in 2013 is beyond me.

“Himmatwala” also has a tiger, a bumbling villain and an all-conquering hero, who seemingly does nothing for a living except playing saviour.

Bol Bachchan: All talk, no substance

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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.

In re-imagining “Gol Maal“, Shetty is taking up a gauntlet that he should have left well alone. Hrishikesh Mukherjee‘s brand of comedy couldn’t be more different than Shetty’s and in trying to combine the two,  the film ends up going nowhere.

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.

Rascals: Too much torture

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David Dhawan must really hate us. Or maybe he wants to exact revenge on his audience. That must be why he subjected us to this three-hour monstrosity that is called “Rascals”.

At their best, David Dhawan comedies can be a little raunchy, but fun. This one is very raunchy, packed to the brim with provocative shots of women in bikinis and heaving bosoms, but there is no sign of fun. This is the kind of film that makes you wish it wasn’t your job to review movies week after week.

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.

Dil Toh Baccha Hai Ji: Excruciatingly boring

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- There are many things wrong with Madhur Bhandarkar’s “Dil Toh Baccha Hai Ji”, but the worst part is that nobody seems to have even bothered to rise above mediocrity in this excuse of a film. Bhandarkar veers away from his “slice of life” style of cinema and moves to comedy, but it has the same clichés, the same dumbed-down dialogues, and strangely enough for a comedy, very crass humour that is more offensive than funny. Ajay Devgan plays Naren, an executive who is in the middle of a divorce and attracted to his secretary, who is half his age and exhibits entirely inappropriate behaviour (like asking her boss when he lost his virginity). Naren lives with two roommates – Milind (Omi Vaidya), a meek poet, and Abhay (Emraan Hashmi), a Casanova, who actually checks out girls at funerals and romances a mother-daughter duo at the same time. The film follows the three on their quest for love, but the journey is unbelievably dull and tedious and there are no funny moments. I could have spent the entire time asleep and I still wouldn’t have missed much. Bhandarkar resorts to double entendre homosexual jokes, and there are no gags or funny incidents. The guys spend two and a half out of the three hour-long film wooing the girls, and Bhandarkar drags the end interminably. He could have cut this film by an hour and it would still have been considered a long film. At the end of it, you just want to bolt for the exit door. This one did absolutely nothing for me – avoid.

Dil toh baccha hai jiThere are many things wrong with Madhur Bhandarkar’s “Dil Toh Baccha Hai Ji”, but the worst part is that nobody seems to have even bothered to rise above mediocrity in this excuse of a film.

Bhandarkar veers away from his “slice of life” style of cinema and moves to comedy, but it has the same clichés, the same dumbed-down dialogues, and strangely enough for a comedy, very crass humour that is more offensive than funny.

Golmaal 3: Thrice as painful

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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.

If that means you have the customary toilet humour, so be it. If that means you have to fit in a criminal, a bumbling police officer and five songs in a two-hour film, so be it. And if it means replacing good writing with slapstick, crass humour, who cares? As long as you can disguise swear words ingeniously, get a dog to bite a man’s backside and bring in some emotion towards the end. The laughs will come because people are in a festive mood – at least that’s the formula.

Once Upon A Time in Mumbai: Blast into the past

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Milan Luthria’s “Once Upon A Time in Mumbai” is a mostly-gripping, but dumbed-down mafia thriller that focuses on two men who dominated the Mumbai underworld for the most part of the seventies and eighties.

Despite denials from the makers of the film, it is easy to see that the story is based on underworld don Haji Mastan and his one-time protégé Dawood Ibrahim.

London Dreams: Falls short of promise

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One of my favourite films from 2008 was Abhishek Kapoor’s ‘Rock On’, the story of four rock band members who have a bitter fall out only to regroup years later.

It was a coming of age story that managed to stay in my heart for a while.

Vipul Shah’s ‘London Dreams’ has a similar storyline and a much larger scale and tone. Unfortunately, what it has in terms of budget and scale, it lacks in terms of heart.

All the Best: Adding that Diwali sparkle

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Watching three films in the space of 18 hours isn’t easy, especially when the first two are films like “Blue” and “Main Aur Mrs Khanna“.

When I settled into my seat to watch Rohit Shetty’s “All the Best”, I was really hoping for some laughs. Thankfully, I got my share of them.

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