India Masala

Bollywood and culture in an emerging India

What’s your favourite Jagjit Singh song?

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There aren’t too many people who can claim a cure for the malaise caused by Mumbai traffic. The two people responsible for that cure, at least in my humble opinion, died within a week of each other. YouTube Preview Image

Jagjit Singh and my iPod elevated my mood during many an unending traffic jam. And it wasn’t just Mumbai traffic — you could trust Singh’s voice to make most situations better.

We grew up listening to Jagjit Singh and his ghazals, and “Tum Itna Jo Muskura Rahein Ho” was a perennial favourite with many of us. As was “Hoton Se Chu Lo Tum” — they were almost love anthems back then, vastly different from today’s “Dhinka Chika”. YouTube Preview Image

Jagjit Singh may be no more but he left behind his voice for posterity. I can be sure, the next time I am stuck in another interminably long traffic jam, I can just touch the iPod click wheel and his voice will be heard again.

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.

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.

Speedy Singhs: Flat aftertaste

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Robert Lieberman’s “Speedy Singhs” is a feel-good movie that surprises you with an actual story and one that doesn’t leave the same bitter aftertaste as recent mindless comedies.

The story revolves around an Alladin-faced Rajveer Singh (Vinay Virmani) and the Sikh community he belongs to in Canada. He dreams of playing ice hockey professionally instead of working in the family truck business his father (Anupam Kher) wants him to join.

Mausam: Several seasons too old

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If director Pankaj Kapur hadn’t gone to pains to establish that “Mausam” plays out between the mid-90s and the early years of this century, you’d be forgiven for thinking this film takes place in the 20s — when there was no internet, no phones and no technology. Why else would two, reasonably well-off, intelligent people who obviously have access to technology be unable to trace each other? It makes no sense, and instead of feeling sad for them, you feel frustrated.

That, in a nutshell, is how you feel about “Mausam” anyway. The promos describe the film as an “epic” love story, but the only thing epic here is the running time. The film runs for almost three hours, during which Kapur plays out the same meet-separate-meet-separate theme till you tire of it.

Mere Brother Ki Dulhan: Fun one-time watch

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Ali Zafar’s “Mere Brother Ki Dulhan” is a slightly mindless but mostly funny rehash of an old romantic movie theme. Two guys, one girl, a wedding, lots of impossible situations and lots of songs are what make up this film.

Imran Khan plays Kush, a young Bollywood director entrusted with finding a bride for his London-based elder brother Luv (Ali Zafar), after the latter breaks up with his long-term girlfriend and decides he has had enough of relationships and wants to “settle down.”

That Girl in Yellow Boots: Stark, unsettling cinema

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Anurag Kashyap’s “That Girl in Yellow Boots” is an unsettling tale of a girl in search of the father who walked out on her as a child. Kashyap holds back very little in his narration of this tale, portraying Mumbai as a ruthless city that makes her search even more difficult than it should have been.

Kalki Koechlin plays Ruth, a British girl who comes to India hoping to find her father. She struggles in Mumbai, living as an illegal immigrant, working in a shady massage parlour, living in squalid conditions, driven only by her quest for a parent she yearns for.

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.

Agneepath: 20 years later?

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More than 20 years after he first mesmerised an entire generation with his baritone and signature dialogue, Vijay Dinanath Chauhan is going to be back on celluloid, but this time in a different avatar.

Producer Karan Johar said the original film which was produced by his father didn’t “meet commercial expectations” and he thought this one would hit bull’s eye. Directed by debutant Karan Malhotra, the film stars Hrithik Roshan as Chauhan while Sanjay Dutt plays dreaded villain Kancha.

Not A Love Story: Compelling tale, amateurish film-making

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If you didn’t know better, you would almost think Ram Gopal Varma made “Not A Love Story” just so he could give his audience motion sickness. Crazy camera angles that peer into everything from the leading lady’s skirt to hidden corners of a house dominate this film and that is what stays with you, even after you leave the theatre.

Varma draws inspiration from the sensational murder case of Neeraj Grover, a television executive who was murdered by aspiring actress Maria Susairaj and her then fiancé Emile Jerome. He even shoots in the same building where Grover was killed and makes only cosmetic changes to the actual story.

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