India Masala

Bollywood and culture in an emerging India

Fukrey: Friendship and fun

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

The ‘Delhi film’ has become somewhat of a trend in Bollywood. You have smart dialogue, actors speaking in a Punjabi accent and chase sequences in the bylanes of old Delhi.

Mrighdeep Singh Lamba’s “Fukrey” falls in the same mould – the story of four young men who come up with a convoluted idea to get rich, so that three of them can get into the coolest college in town, knowing all too well they can’t get through on merit.

Pulkit Samrat and Varun Sharma play Hunny and Choocha, two friends who would rather spend hours plotting how to get their hands on leaked high-school exam papers than study for it. They find a willing accomplice in Panditji (Pankaj Tripathi) who promises to get them the papers, provided they cough up the money.

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.

Jolly LLB: Little justice in this legal tale

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Subhash Kapoor’s “Jolly LLB”, about a small-town lawyer who dreams of fame and wealth but develops a conscience along the way, is the film version of the saying “Don’t judge a book by its cover.”

From the cover (or in this case, the trailer), “Jolly LLB” seemed like a smart, snappy film about the David who takes on Goliath and comes away a hero. The musty, crowded corridors of the lower courts and the machinations that take place there are characteristic of the Indian judicial system and all its pitfalls are an ideal backdrop to this battle.

Dabangg 2: A sequel that doesn’t take it forward

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

It seems unfair to devote a whole review to Arbaaz Khan’s “Dabangg 2″, given that this is hardly a film. As a friend said, it’s a collection of deleted scenes from “Dabangg” that have been put together haphazardly to make the skeleton of a film.

Aiyyaa: Theatre of the absurd

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Director Sachin Kundalkar’s “Aiyyaa” is based on one of three stories in his earlier Marathi film called “Gandha”. The story, about a girl who falls in love with a man because of the way he smells, is 30 minutes long, simply and honestly told. There are are no frills, no side characters and certainly no sign of any of the absurdity that Kundalkar brings to “Aiyyaa”.

It is very difficult to slot Aiyyaa into a genre. There are strains of comedy, drama, romance and the absurd in the film. There is also over-the-top risqué humour and some raunchy song sequences that will remind you of late night music shows on Tamil channels.

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.

Ferrari Ki Sawaari: Would you please hurry up?

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Towards the end of Rajesh Mapuskar’s “Ferrari Ki Sawaari“, as the protagonist and his son are re-united and embrace each other, cry and wipe the tears off each other’s cheeks, an onlooker hesitantly asks “aap jaldi karenge zara?” (would you please hurry up?). It might sound like an insensitive thing to say, but perhaps that is what someone should have said to Mapuskar as he went about making this film.

Perhaps he might have restrained himself from writing a convoluted and at times contrived script that seems to stretch on for longer than its 2 hour 15 minute duration.

Vicky Donor: Sperm donation can be funny

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You have to hand it to Shoojit Sircar and Juhi Chaturvedi – the duo have made a Bollywood film about a topic like sperm donation without a double entendre. This also speaks volumes about Chaturvedi’s skill (she wrote story, screenplay and dialogue), because ‘Vicky Donor” is hands down the funniest film of the year so far.

Sircar and Chaturvedi, both from the advertising world, address issues such as sperm donation, infertility, stereotyping and even the aching loneliness that sets in after a spouse dies young, with such light-hearted humour and panache that you cannot help but applaud their effort.

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”.

Ladies vs Ricky Bahl: One-time fun

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You cannot help but feel that Maneesh Sharma’s “Ladies vs Ricky Bahl” is a mash-up of past Yash Raj films like “Badmaash Company”, “Bunty Aur Babli” and even “Bachna Ae Haseeno”.

The story is one you’ve seen before — a smart-talking con man takes off with suitcases of money after tricking three very gullible women.

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