India Masala

Bollywood and culture in an emerging India

Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu: A rom-com that “gets” it

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Through the first half, Shakun Batra’s romantic comedy “Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu” follows an entirely predictable path — boy and girl meet, get drunk, get married and realise they don’t want to stay married. Circumstances dictate they must spend time together while waiting for their marriage to get annulled. At the interval, one of them even has the “I’m in love” epiphany.

Of course, you don’t mind the predictable storyline because there is zippy dialogue, some great writing and the performances are in tune with all of the above. So far, so good. But we all know the second half is where it gets tricky, and not too many film-makers know how to end well. Well, clear all doubts now.  Batra is not one of  them.

The second half of the film is even better than the first, because it adds an element of unpredictability to the mix of great dialogue, writing and acting — and what you have is a Bollywood rom-com that is funny, romantic and mature enough for today’s audiences.

Imran Khan plays Rahul, a poor little rich boy in Las Vegas, cowering from his overbearing parents and too “uptight” for his age, as a family friend tells him. He bumps into Riana Braganza, a scatter-brained, effervescent hair stylist, and on a drunken night out, the two get married. Of course, they wake up the next day with a massive hangover and the realisation they have made a huge mistake.

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.”

Tanu Weds Manu: Doesn’t soar, but will make you smile

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- Director Anand Rai’s “Tanu Weds Manu” is a romantic comedy about a meek doctor who falls in love with a feisty, rebellious Kanpur girl, as a result of which he finds himself in the middle of what can only be described as sticky situation, and staring down the barrel of a gun. R Madhavan plays Manoj Sharma aka Manu, a sweet, docile doctor, who inspite of having lived alone in London for more than a decade, wants an arranged marriage with a girl from the Indian heartland and falls in love with the first girl he sees, at one glance, while she is asleep. Kangana Ranaut plays the sleeping girl aka Tanu aka Tanuja Trivedi, who is nothing like the simple village belle Manu imagines her to be when she wakes up. While smoking a cigarette, she tells him that she doesn’t want to get married to him because she already has a boyfriend and has no intention of marrying someone her parents have chosen for her. Disappointed, Manu returns home, but when he runs into her again at a friends wedding, a fledgling romance seems to develop between two people with absolutely nothing in common. Rai’s first half is a rollicking ride and you don’t find your attention wavering at all. The dialogues, by Himanshu Sharma,are sparkling and you will find yourself laughing out loud at several places. Also, it’s a refreshing change to see a heroine who is feisty and not afraid of taking risks, and Kangna pulls her off with some aplomb, bad dialogue delivery notwithstanding. It is in the second half that the film unravels – rapidly. Manu’s intentions become too unclear, there is too much of melodrama and the script is nowhere as tight as it was in the first half. What saves this film are the interesting characters that Rai develops, not just the lead pair, but even those around them. Special mention to Swara Bhaskar and Deepak Dobriyal who play Tanu and Manu’s best friends respectively and bring so much to what is essentially a side role. In the end, “Tanu Weds Manu” doesn’t reach soaring heights, but I’d recommend you watch it any way, because it will bring a smile to your face.

twmDirector Anand Rai’s “Tanu Weds Manu” is a romantic comedy about a meek doctor who falls in love with a feisty, rebellious Kanpur girl, as a result of which he finds himself in the middle of what can only be described as a sticky situation, and staring down the barrel of a gun.

R. Madhavan plays Manoj Sharma aka Manu, who in spite of having lived alone in London for more than a decade, wants an arranged marriage with a girl from the Indian heartland and falls in love with the first girl he sees, at one glance, while she is asleep.

Dil Toh Baccha Hai Ji: Excruciatingly boring

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- There are many things wrong with Madhur Bhandarkar’s “Dil Toh Baccha Hai Ji”, but the worst part is that nobody seems to have even bothered to rise above mediocrity in this excuse of a film. Bhandarkar veers away from his “slice of life” style of cinema and moves to comedy, but it has the same clichés, the same dumbed-down dialogues, and strangely enough for a comedy, very crass humour that is more offensive than funny. Ajay Devgan plays Naren, an executive who is in the middle of a divorce and attracted to his secretary, who is half his age and exhibits entirely inappropriate behaviour (like asking her boss when he lost his virginity). Naren lives with two roommates – Milind (Omi Vaidya), a meek poet, and Abhay (Emraan Hashmi), a Casanova, who actually checks out girls at funerals and romances a mother-daughter duo at the same time. The film follows the three on their quest for love, but the journey is unbelievably dull and tedious and there are no funny moments. I could have spent the entire time asleep and I still wouldn’t have missed much. Bhandarkar resorts to double entendre homosexual jokes, and there are no gags or funny incidents. The guys spend two and a half out of the three hour-long film wooing the girls, and Bhandarkar drags the end interminably. He could have cut this film by an hour and it would still have been considered a long film. At the end of it, you just want to bolt for the exit door. This one did absolutely nothing for me – avoid.

Dil toh baccha hai jiThere are many things wrong with Madhur Bhandarkar’s “Dil Toh Baccha Hai Ji”, but the worst part is that nobody seems to have even bothered to rise above mediocrity in this excuse of a film.

Bhandarkar veers away from his “slice of life” style of cinema and moves to comedy, but it has the same clichés, the same dumbed-down dialogues, and strangely enough for a comedy, very crass humour that is more offensive than funny.

Jhootha Hi Sahi: The truth is out and it’s ugly

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- I have a serious complaint against lovers in Bollywood films. Inspite of the fact that they know where the other stays, what he does, and the fact that they can just as easily go and deliver the “I love you” speech to their lover’s house the day after they’ve had their epiphany, they insist on hanging off a cliff or climbing a top a bridge, from where they can deliver their undying love for each other. Don’t they realise how ridiculous it looks? As you can guess, the above rant has been inspired by a scene in Abbas Tyrewala’s “Jhootha Hi Sahi”, dreary, dull rom-com that showcases perhaps the most wooden performances by a lead pair that I can remember and a lot of inane situations like the one described above. John Abraham is one half of the wooden pair, and plays Siddharth, a geek who co-owns an Indian book-store in London with two of his friends, and we are told stammers, but only when he meets a beautiful woman. He comes across Mishka (newcomer Pakhi), a depressed artist, when she calls him, mistaking his number to be that of a suicide help line. He talks to her through the night, and suddenly, she doesn’t want to kill herself any more. The two become “phone friends”, but for some reason, never quite explained in the film (or perhaps I missed it while I was yawning), he doesn’t want to reveal his identity to her. Instead, he be-friends her as Siddharth the bookstore guy, and talks to her on phone as the help line counsellor, leading a double life of sorts. The film follows a very predictable and very boring trajectory from here on. There is of course the obligatory ex-girlfriend and boyfriend, the funny friends, who egg them on and my main grouse, the epiphany in the end, which results in Siddharth clambering on London’s Tower Bridge as it closes, just so he can prove to her that he loves her. The film suffers from really bad casting, which is ironic given that Pakhi was casting director for Tyrewala’s earlier film “Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na”. John Abraham tries so hard to act, you are embarrassed for him. He is completely unfit for this role. Pakhi, on the other hand, is completely unfit to act. She has none of the qualities you expect in a leading lady; none of the screen presence and as for her chemistry with Abraham, there were scenes where she could have passed off as his elder sister. Tyrewala obviously wants to make a smart, funny film, on the lines of “You’ve Got Mail and “Notting Hill” but except for a few lines, the writing is laboured and tries too hard. His control over the movie wavers, and sub-plots are weaved sporadically into the main narrative. Also, Mishka is one of the most regressive heroines I can remember, coming across as this needy girl who doesn’t even take up a scholarship to Paris because her ex-boyfriend had promised that they would go together – before he dumped her, that is. The only good thing in this film is the performance by Raghu Ram, who plays Siddharth’s Pakistani friend Omar. Ram is funny, sardonic and responsible for the few laughs in the film. Everything else is just a drag. Avoid.

jhootha1I have a serious complaint against lovers in Bollywood films. Even if they know where the other person stays and can easily deliver the “I love you” speech at the lover’s house, they insist on hanging off a cliff or climbing atop a bridge from where they can declare their undying love for each other. Don’t they realise how ridiculous it looks?

As you can guess, the above rant is inspired by a scene in Abbas Tyrewala’s “Jhootha Hi Sahi“, a dreary and dull rom-com that features perhaps the most wooden performances by a lead pair that I can remember and a lot of inane situations like the one described above.

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