India Masala

Bollywood and culture in an emerging India

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.

Prateik Babbar and newcomer Amyra Dastur play star-crossed lovers from families at war. Director Tiwary stages the doomed love story (in more ways than one) on the ghats of Benares where Rahul meets Bacchi.

When Bacchi’s family finds out about the love affair, the girl’s uncle (Ravi Kishen) sets out for revenge. It’s a chain of events that leads to destruction and chaos.

Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani: A fun, breezy film

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Deepika Padukone has obviously never gone on a trek before. Why else would she be wearing a mini-skirt and fur boots on the Himalayas? She’s also got perfectly set, blow-dried hair during these treks, and even after a day of playing Holi during the festival of colours, which would render most of us looking like something the cat dragged in, Padukone looks radiant. But that is the world she and other characters in Ayan Mukerji’s “Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani” inhabit.

These are pretty people falling in love, travelling to picturesque locations, having epiphanies while attending expensive destination weddings and following all the clichés Bollywood loves to propagate. And yet, you cannot help smiling as you leave the cinema hall.

Ishkq in Paris: Love gone wrong

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Preity Zinta’s comeback Bollywood film features the characteristic Zinta elements her fans have loved over the years. Effervescence and her famous dimples. Both are present in “Ishkq in Paris”, albeit in heightened form. Zinta is a little too bubbly, too jumpy and flashes her dimples far too often for them to be endearing. It’s like enthusiasm on steroids.

To counter her obvious efforts, co-star Rhehan Malliek narrows his eyes each time he is expected to show some emotion.

Aashiqui 2: Tuneless tale

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Mohit Suri may have done the impossible and crammed every single romantic movie cliché in “Aashiqui 2”. There are traces of the 1973 hit “Abhimaan” along with the original “Aashiqui” (1990). Director Suri tries to inject an intense vibe in his new film, but fails miserably.

Rahul Jaykar (Aditya Roy Kapoor), a rock star who is slowly slipping away into oblivion thanks to his alcoholism, spots Aarohi (Shraddha Kapoor) singing in a Goan bar. One look and he is smitten, convinced of her talent and ready to take her to Mumbai to make her a star.

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.

Cocktail: The mix isn’t right

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You know that time when you chance upon this new product at the supermarket? Maybe it’s a new drink or a bottle of jam — it comes in a really nice looking bottle and looks so enticing that you have to pick it up and bring it home. And then you open it and realise it only looks good on the outside. The product is past expiry, the fizz has gone out of the drink and all you are left with is a nice looking bottle. Yes, that.

Homi Adajania’s “Cocktail” is definitely one of those films you shouldn’t judge by its cover (or poster). This is supposed to be a light-hearted attempt at tackling the oldest trick in the romantic comedy book — the love triangle, but Adajania forgets to infuse any freshness into the story.

Teri Meri Kahaani: A love story that needs direction

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As they sit sipping coffee at a roadside café in London, Radha (Priyanka Chopra) tells Krissh (Shahid Kapur) “sometimes life is a suitcase but you feel like it’s a lunch-box” (or was it the opposite?), and if you are sitting in the audience, you might be forgiven for going “Huh? Did she really say that?”

Be prepared for many such moments during this two-and-a-half-hour film that claims to be an epic love story spanning three eras. Director Kunal Kohli is obviously trying to tell you that love does not change, whether in pre-independence India or London in 2012.  If only you didn’t have to watch this film to find out.

Ishaqzaade: A rugged love story

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At first glance, Habib Faisal’s “Ishaqzaade” has a lot going for it — there’s some great casting, good direction and performances. The milieu is different — arid, rugged, rural India and this is about feisty, gutsy lovers who are smart enough not to view the world through rose-tinted glasses.

At the halfway mark, Faisal sets up the film so tantalisingly, you can only wonder what surprises he plans on throwing at you. But the second half is somewhat of a let-down. The story goes haywire, characters act out of character, and the whole film sort of ends in a whimper, when it should have ended with a bang — which is how it starts.

Jodi Breakers: The ‘Headachers’

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‘Tis the season for romance — at least in Bollywood. After “Ek Main aur Ekk Tu“ and “Ekk Deewana Tha“ this month, comes Ashwini Chaudhary’s “Jodi Breakers“, another film that attempts to bring together romance and comedy and hopes to leave you with a warm, fuzzy feeling in your tummy. And fails spectacularly, I might add.

R. Madhavan plays Sid, a divorcee, who after his split turns into a divorce specialist, “breaking up” couples when one of them wants out. Bipasha Basu plays Sonali, his partner who, of course, falls hopelessly in love with him.

Ekk Deewana Tha: Never-ending nonsense

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Sometimes even the worst films can redeem themselves with a moment of lucidity. Just as you are struggling to make sense of Gautham Menon’s “Ekk Deewana Tha“, the heroine — in a fit of emotion — tells the hero “there is nothing here, no chemistry or anything at all. Nothing”. And just like that, she hits the nail on the head.

This almost three-hour romance is the cinematic equivalent of listening to someone scratching their nails on a blackboard. You want to pull your hair out and tell them to stop it already. Unfortunately, Menon seems to be in no mood to listen. Just when you think it’s all over, it goes on for a little bit more.

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