India Masala

Bollywood and culture in an emerging India

Satyagraha: This revolution does not awaken anyone

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

In “Satyagraha“, director Prakash Jha attempts to show a divided society and the chasm between the people and their leaders.

But Jha seems to give in to the same kind of consumerism and greed that his film’s holier-than-thou characters look down on.

Amitabh Bachchan plays Dwarka Anand, a retired teacher and an idealist. Soon after the film opens, he berates his son’s friend for promoting a capitalistic lifestyle. Anand accuses the new generation of being greedy and having selfish desires that encourage corruption.

Within minutes, a character asks another if a packet of India Gate rice has been opened. Another extols the virtues of UltraTech Cement. How can you make a film that criticises certain values and promotes them in the same breath?

Madras Cafe: An intelligence failure

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

After last year’s clever and heart-warming comedy “Vicky Donor”, filmmaker Shoojit Sircar switches genres with “Madras Cafe”, a thriller about the Sri Lankan conflict, India’s role in the civil war, and the repercussions of that war on India’s politics and history.

To try and deal with such a controversial subject is commendable and Sircar and co-writer Juhi Chaturvedi should be complimented. Unfortunately, intentions aside, “Madras Cafe” doesn’t deserve too many compliments.

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.

Chennai Express – Doesn’t reach its destination

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To get a sense of Rohit Shetty’s “Chennai Express,” wait for the closing credits to roll.

The film contains all the stereotypes that exist about those who live south of the Vindhyas, but narrated by someone who doesn’t live there. A South Indian film for those not living in the South, so to speak.

Issaq: Doomed love story

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What director Manish Tiwary was trying to achieve in “Issaq”, his version of Romeo and Juliet, only he can say. If you didn’t know you were watching a modern-day retelling of Shakespeare’s classic, you’d be forgiven for walking out halfway through the film.

The movie starts with a bizarre killing on a deserted bridge and then moves on to more bizarreness. “Issaq” is a disjointed effort, one that ceases to make any sense after the first few minutes.

Bajatey Raho: Much ado about nothing

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Shashant Shah‘s “Bajatey Raho” is a comedy about a motley group of people who try to con a businessman out of the millions he made by cheating gullible clients.

Ravi Kishan plays evil businessman Sabharwal, who owns everything from schools to dairy farms and treats his staff like dirt.

Bhaag Milkha Bhaag: The game is over

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Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra‘s biopic of Milkha Singh is one of the few sports movies to come out of the Indian film industry. It is also a perfect example of how not to make a sports biopic, and a telling comment on the compulsion of most filmmakers to “Bollywoodise” what starts off as an unusual subject and premise.

It seems Mehra and writer Prasoon Joshi started off with the noble intention of making a gritty film on India’s most successful athlete, but fell back to their Bollywood ways. They added a bit of romance here, a song there, topped off with over-the-top melodrama, and convinced themselves that this was the heart-wrenching story of a man who fought against all odds to succeed at the international level.

Raanjhanaa: Not the perfect love story

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

Director Aanand L Rai is a smart man. He plays his trump card right in the beginning and hooks you to his film. He introduces his charming hero with A R Rahman’s “Tum Tak”, a lilting number that plays out in the first few minutes of “Raanjhanaa”. What choice do you have but to hum along in the narrow lanes of Benares, where schoolboy Kundan (Dhanush) falls irrevocably in love with Zoya (Sonam Kapoor).

He pursues her brazenly and when her parents send her elsewhere for higher studies, he promises to wait till she returns. When Zoya returns eight years later, she has forgotten their adolescent romance but he is still pining for her and is ready to do whatever she asks, just to get her to smile.

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.

Yamla Pagla Deewana 2: Insanity overload

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In Sangeeth Sivan’s “Yamla Pagla Deewana 2″, the bankruptcy of ideas and creativity is so obvious that the director knows he has to resort to another hit film and franchise to try and crack a few lame jokes. So Bobby Deol and Neha Sharma fall in love over their mutual love for Salman Khan and his “Dabangg” films.

The fact that even Salman Khan’s name cannot retrieve this film from the depths of mediocrity should tell you something. Sivan resorts to all forms of toilet humour and slapstick comedy, with characters such as a whisky-drinking chimpanzee and a villain called “Dude”.

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