India Masala

Bollywood and culture in an emerging India

Once Upon Ay Time in Mumbai Dobaara: All talk, no action

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

Milan Luthria’s tongue-twister of a movie “Once Upon Ay Time in Mumbai Dobaara!” is a hark back to the gangster films of the 1980s, the ones with mafia dons, their tempestuous love lives and all the complications that came with it.

But director Luthria and writer Rajat Arora are apparently convinced that they’ve come up with something original and clever. Their smugness shows on screen and gets on your nerves. For a gangster film, “Mumbai Dobaara” has just about three action scenes and even in the most crucial action sequence, the characters are busy delivering long-drawn-out homilies on loyalty and friendship. That is what this film is, really – all talk and no action.

And as for the talk itself, Arora’s dialogue has all the creativity of the quotes that appear on Facebook feeds. They are meant to be profound. But in the film, each character talks and talks and talks some more, until you want to hit the mute button – but there isn’t one.

Akshay Kumar plays the dreaded gangster Shoaib who orchestrates cricket matches in a Middle Eastern country. Shoaib flirts with his friend’s wives, wears dark glasses all the time and keeps repeating how he intends to rule Mumbai. (What that ruling may involve, we are never told).

Special 26: The heist that almost worked

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

Bollywood hasn’t had an impressive track record with thrillers. Most have been slow and predictable while some were downright preposterous.

Khiladi 786: The other ‘Son of Sardaar’

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(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Thomson Reuters)

If it wasn’t for the chorus of “Khiladi Bhaiyya” that accompanies Akshay Kumar each time he makes an entrance on screen, I would’ve forgotten I was watching Ashish Mohan’s “Khiladi 786″. I might as well have been watching “Singham” or “Golmaal” or any of the comedies earning a box-office billion that dot our cinematic landscape these days.

Joker: The joke is on you

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Akshay Kumar, wearing an outrageous hat, is dancing with a long-haired, ash-smeared, nearly naked holy man perched on his shoulders. At times, Kumar pats the man’s stomach even as the “baba” waves a “We Love Aliens” placard. No one will blame you if you ask — What exactly is going on here?

But hold your breath, for such moments will be too many to count and by the time you see an alien dancing to an item number, your brain will be numb and nothing in life will make sense except the neon EXIT sign that will seem like the light at the end of the tunnel.

Rowdy Rathore: South Indian remix

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When Akshay Kumar fashions himself a sudarshan chakra (the ultimate weapon of destructive in Indian mythology) from a broken bamboo stick and some construction equipment and uses it to slay 20 men with axes and knives, you know “Rowdy Rathore” isn’t aiming for realistic cinema.

Once you reconcile yourself to that and realise that director Prabhu Deva is channeling his inner Rajnikanth, you can sit back and enjoy the Ray-Bans, nubile dancers and a pretty liberal use of cinematic liberties.

Housefull 2: Twice the torture

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Reviewing a movie like Sajid Khan’s “Housefull 2” is a futile exercise. In fact, I don’t think the makers of this film made it for creative purposes — this is a money-making venture, and going by the number of people who came to watch it at 9: 15 a.m. on Good Friday morning, I would say it’s well on its way to becoming a successful one.

Khan doesn’t take off from where the first “Housefull” left off — this is a whole other story. But he does keep the toilet humour, over-the-top acting and noise pollution that characterised the 2010 film. Instead of laughing gas at the Buckingham Palace, he adds a fake Prince Charles who attends a wedding at the end and persuades one of the characters to stop shooting people in the name of “the queen and the country”.

No, Thank You

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- I’m going to keep this one short because there’s really not much I can say about Anees Bazmee’s “Thank You” that I haven’t already said about films of this genre – in other words, the “leave your brains at home” films that we seem to churn out with alarming regularity. This one seems to be a re-hash of Bazmee’s earlier “No Entry”, which at least had a couple of nice songs and some funny moments. This one has nothing but offensive dialogue, bad jokes and even worse acting. Akshay Kumar plays Kishen, a modern day love doctor who spies on philandering husbands and helps their wives take “revenge” on them. The film runs on the premise that men are sure to stray, but, like the men in the movie, if they catch their wives even pretending to have an affair, they can take the high moral ground and lecture them on the sanctity of marriage. Bobby Deol plays one of those men, Raj, while Irrfan Khan and Suneil Shetty play his friends. All three are having affairs with various women and get away with it by throwing flimsy excuses at their wives, which the women gladly gobble up. That is, until Kishen comes into the picture, ensures that their wives exact revenge on them and leave the men pining. Of course, the fact that he’s been caught cheating several times and doesn’t even seem to regret it doesn’t stop Bobby Deol’s character from delivering a five minute monologue to his wife Sanjana (Sonam Kapoor) on how she’s hasn’t respected their marriage by flirting with Kishen. “At least I did it on the sly, but you are doing it openly”, he tells her. Who can argue with such sound logic? Of the cast, only Irrfan Khan looks remotely comfortable in his role, while everyone else is rank bad. Special mention to Sonam Kapoor who looks lovely but cannot emote genuinely in a single scene – especially for a woman who is supposed to be going through the heartbreak of infidelity. If you liked “No Problem” “Housefull” and “Kambakkhth Ishq”, then this might be the film for you. Everyone else, run far away from any theatre showing this film.

thankyouI’m going to keep this one short because there’s really not much I can say about Anees Bazmee’s “Thank You” that I haven’t already said about films of this genre – in other words, the “leave your brains at home” films that we seem to churn out with alarming regularity.

This one seems to be a re-hash of Bazmee’s earlier “No Entry”, which at least had a couple of nice songs and some funny moments. This one has nothing but offensive dialogue, bad jokes and even worse acting.

Patiala House: A single that could have been a boundary

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- One thing I will say for Nikhil Advani’s “Patiala House. It touches upon a subject that a lot of Indians will identify with – parents who decide that they know what’s best for their children and children straining against the leash to break out. Vikramaditya Motwane’s “Udaan” explored that theme beautifully, and Advani tries to combine it with another thing Indians can identify with – cricket. Unfortunately, he populates the story with so many other things that the main story is lost amid Punjabi wedding sequences, slapstick comedy and an insipid romance. Akshay Kumar plays Pargat Singh Kahlon, a potent fast bowler living in Southall, London, whose father (Rishi Kapoor) nips his cricketing career in the bud because he doesn’t want his son playing cricket for England. Senior Kahlon you see has been so scarred by racist attacks on his community that he hates “goras” and doesn’t want anyone in his family to have anything to do with them – so much so that he threatens to kill himself if his son plays for England. That doesn’t stop him from leaving London though, something that isn’t quite explained in the film and comes across as a major weakness in the plot. So Pargat spends his days looking morose, running a grocery shop and his night practising cricket. Also, he gets guilt trips from his entire extended family, who all have ambitions but cannot follow them because the eldest son hasn’t. When the entire England cricket team is sacked (!) and a whole new team is to be built, Pargat’s neighbour, who also happens to be a national selector convinces him to try out for the team, but he refuses. Enter Simran, an over-chirpy wannabe actress who convinces him and his whole family that they must rebel against “bauji” and follow their own dreams. Patiala House does have the germ of a compelling story in there somewhere, as well as some genuine moments, but these are few and far between. Advani couldn’t resist the temptation to make this a “masala film, and ends up diluting his main premise. The rest of the cast isn’t too impressive, and the plot has too many holes to hold true. You will have to suspend disbelief several times to actually believe what’s happening on the screen. How does a bowler who hasn’t played for any club get into the England cricket team? How, in this day and age, can Rishi Kapoor’s character not know that his son is playing for England inspite of live tv, the internet and phones? And why does crickter Nasser Hussain (playing himself) attempt to speak Hindi? Akshay Kumar however does redeem himself a little bit – he is restrained and efficient as the protagonist, even if he doesn’t take the character to another level. It’s a huge change from the avatar we have seen him in in recent times. The film though is strictly average fare. Watch it if you must.

patialaOne thing I will say for Nikhil Advani’s “Patiala House”. It touches upon a subject that a lot of Indians will identify with — parents who think they know what’s best for their children and children straining against the leash to break out.

Vikramaditya Motwane’s “Udaan” explored that theme beautifully, and director Advani tries to combine it with another thing Indians can identify with — cricket. Unfortunately, he populates the story with so many things that the main story is lost amid Punjabi wedding sequences, slapstick comedy and an insipid romance.

Action Replayy: The past ain’t pretty

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action replayyIt’s easy to romanticise the past, isn’t it? Easy to think back to the time when bell bottoms and “arranged” marriages were the norm and tell ourselves it was a much better time. The past has that intangible quality of making us all look a little better, even to ourselves. Perhaps that is why Bollywood is going back to the past so much nowadays, making films about every period but the present.

Director Vipul Shah certainly seems to believe in reliving the past in “Action Replayy”, as do his main characters but they relive it so badly you want to shake them back to the present. The past here holds no romance, there are only bad wigs and garish clothes to represent it.

Khatta Meetha: This is no gourmet feast

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Khatta Meetha” raises a few laughs and also manages pointed homilies on the state of the nation.

Khatta MeethaIt is about municipal officers and builders but is no “Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro” — either in subtlety, sarcasm or slapstick.

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