Planet Bollywood

Thums Up - Thums Down for the Week - 5 Apr 2012
  Secret Agent Man Vinod…reporting for duty as Saif Ali Khan stuns us with ‘Agent Vinod’!
  - Samir Dave
Selection based on Planet Bollywood critics recommendations           Let us know what you think about this

Saif Ali Khan stars in and as the debonair secret agent Vinod, in ‘Agent Vinod’, a film so testosterone fueled, that your adrenaline will be pumping as you’ll be jumping to the action that will blow you away!

Thums Up - Recent Films Worth Watching :-)
 Agent Vinod
 PB Rating: 7.0 out of 10  Public Rating (by 410 unique users): 5.11
 Director: Sriram Raghavan  Producer: Saif Ali Khan, Dinesh Vijan
 Music: Pritam  Lyrics: Amitabh Bhattacharya, Nilesh Mishra
 Starring: Saif Ali Khan, Kareena Kapoor, Gulshan Grover, Ravi Kissen, Ram Kapoor, Anee Lee Roberts, Malika Haydon
 Genre: Thriller  Recommended Audience: General
Blah, blah, blah…India’s James Bond…blah…blah..blah…India’s Jason Bourne…blah…blah…blah….India’s the Saint...Look, let’s drop all the comparisons from the onset of this review shall we? Let’s go into this with a clean slate. Saif Ali Khan has worked hard to make “Agent Vinod” a big testosterone fueled action movie, and for the most part has succeeded splendidly. He is extremely likable as the title character, Vinod in a film that is expertly directed by Sriram Raghavan ("Ek Hasina Thi"). It’s the kind of film that guys can latch onto and cheer all the way through. The script by the director and Arijit Biswas is a bit convoluted at times, and the only drawback of the film is that the editing (by Pooja Ladha Surti) could have been a bit tighter so that the high octane momentum was retained all throughout the film. With indirect ties to the old 1977 film with the same name character, we are led to believe that Saif is simply the latest top agent to be called, Vinod. This Vinod is a super spy who can dodge bullets, make witty comments, and sweep women off their delicately high heeled balanced feet. Saif is simply too good yaar! He is a man’s man in this film as an agent on the trail of a weapon of mass destruction all over the world. While he goes on his “travels” around the world, he meets interesting characters like Mafiosi Khan (a non cheesy Prem Chopra) and Vinod’s unfulfilled love interest Dr Ruby (played by real live love, Kareena Kapoor). The cinematography by Muraleedharan C.K is sexy. The music by Pritam is well placed and hot. The action by Peter Heins is dishum style in a great way. You have to see this film, and by the end of it, you’ll need to apply another roll of scented deodorant, because you will SWEAT! Vinod…out.

 Don 2
 PB Rating: 6.0 out of 10  Public Rating (by 410 unique users): 5.11
 Director: Farhan Akhtar  Producer: Ritesh Sidhwani, Farhan Akhtar, Shahrukh Khan
 Music: Shankar Ehsaan Loy  Lyrics: Javed Akhtar
 Starring: Shahrukh Khan, Priyanka Chopra, Lara Dutta, Kunal Kapoor, Boman Irani, Om Puri
 Genre: Action  Recommended Audience: General
Watch as tendrils of smoke escape the flaring of my nostrils to slowly envelope my face in wicked coolness. See the way my hair is gelled up oh so right so that it spikes up and can be used as a lethal weapon. Hear the way I give my dialogue in that staccato rhythm that SRK is kn-kn-known for. Who am I? Main hoon DON! Ok, so I’ve always wanted to say that, but in reality I am just your friendly neighborhood TUTD critic who absolutely enjoyed watching the glorious shallowness of Farhan Akhtar’s “Don 2” unravel reel by fun reel. “Don 2” is like a James Bond movie on acid, and I mean that as a compliment. I’ve watched many a reviewer and fan strike the film down in the weeks since its release, and I have to disagree with all the negative naysayers. From the opening James Bond like sequence in Asia, to expansive regions of Europe, ‘Don 2’ absolutely does what its creators set out to do, and that is to create a film that rivals any of the best popcorn films of Hollywood.

Free from the confines of the original films storyline and plot, this sequel takes the character one step further in a logical direction, that of the anti-hero you love to hate. Don is still out for himself, but there’s also a bit more depth to the character. So, what’s the story about? All you need to know is that Don (SRK) wants to take out the leaders of the Asian drug cartel, and steal not just money, but the plates that can be used to make money. Along the way, there are superbly choreographed fights, car chases and lots of explosions.

If you are looking for deeper meanings, loving relationships, and Bollywood style drama, then you need to look elsewhere, for this film doesn’t have that. What it does have is a strong screenplay (by Farhan Akhtar, Ameet Mehta, and Amrish Shah) that linearly progresses the story logically from the first film and builds upon the mythology of the narrative in a natural way. One of the weaknesses of the film is that the editing by Ritesh Soni and Anand Subaya could have been tightened up for the first half of the film. Also, the music by Shanker, Ehsaan and Loy is probably one of their most forgettable soundtracks, showing a big creative decline in the otherwise talented trio. I understand there’s really no scope for the music, but the tracks that were composed, could have been of higher quality. Simply put, “Don 2”’s music is pretty much sidelined. The cinematography by Jason West (“Rock On”) captures each locale and set perfectly. A special note regarding Farhan Akhtar’s direction, he’s shown that he has not lost his knack for directing. I for one would much rather see more directorial efforts from him in the near future.

What about the actors? This is SRK’s film all the way, and he makes the most of the annoying but charming larger than life persona that he has cultivated all these years in Bollywood. He is the star of the show…period. The fight choreographer (Matthias Barsch) gives SRK some crazy moves, and SRK carries all of them out with grace. Shah Rukh also delivers each and every line with aplomb. Priyanka Chopra’s character of Roma is greatly underwritten, but fulfills an important role towards the final reels of the film. Boman Irani is back as Vardhaan and almost steals the show. Om Puri is disappointing, but that’s due to his barely there role. Kunal Kapoor plays a pivotal role. Nawab Shah does really well as the muscle man Abdul Jabbar. Yet, there is no doubt that Farhan Akhtar has wrapped the film around his leading man…SRK.

Are you looking for Bollywood romance? Shakespearean acting? Reality? Then “Don 2” is not for you. If you are looking for story twists ‘n’ turns, excellently choreographed fight/car chase scenes, and a plot twist that truly hits you like a brick, then this film is the perfect entertainer. ‘Nuff said.

 PB Rating: 8.0 out of 10  Public Rating (by 410 unique users): 5.11
 Director: Imtiaz Ali  Producer: Dhillin Mehta
 Music: A.R. Rahman  Lyrics: Irshad Kamil
 Starring: Ranbir Kapoor, Nargis Fakhri, Shammi Kapoor
 Genre: Musical  Recommended Audience: General
Saaaaaaaadda Haaaaaaaq! Start the wind machines, catch my weeks old stubble in the right light, wherein the dark circles under my eyes give me that menacing disturbed look that can inspire a new generation. Saaaaaaaadda Haaaaaaaq! Look at the way my long uneven hair flies in the face of revolution against the establishment. Marvel at the way my clothes are the very definition of the word….. “ROCKSTAR”. Finally, watch the pain filled expression within my eyes that betray the agony of a lost love that can never be reconciled! Saaaaaaaadda Haaaaaaaq! Who am I? I am Ranbir, I am Imtiaz, I am Rahman. I am me. I am you. I am the voice of unreason. I am a….ROCKSTAR!

Ok, does that set the mood for you? Not yet? Well grab your air guitar and sing along with me that, “Rockstar is a flawed yet entertaining film that delves into some more psychological depth than we are used to from the standard Imtiaz Ali film”. That about sums up this film that has patches of brilliance, followed by a infuriating unevenness to the plot, but pulled along by the brilliant performance by Ranbir Kapoor, pulled down by the vacuous performance of Nargis Fakhri, pulled up by the amazing music by A.R. Rahman, pulled down by the uneven story beats by Imtiaz Ali, and pulled up again by the innovative framing of shots by the director…Imtiaz Ali.

The story itself focuses on Ranbir’s character going through a self-realization that in order to truly ascend to rockstar Godhood, one needs to go through the tragedy of a broken heart. Thus begins his descent into rocking madness. That’s all you really need to know, the rest as they say follows the rise and fall of many a rock star (Kurt Cobain, Jim Morrison to name two). All in all, you’ll feel equal parts exhilarated and infuriated while watching this move, yet still, like all our favorite rock stars in real life, this rock star in reel life… mystifyingly captivating.

 The Dirty Picture
 PB Rating: 8.0 out of 10  Public Rating (by 410 unique users): 5.11
 Director: Milan Luthria  Producer: Shobha Kapoor Ekta Kapoor
 Music: Vishal Shekhar  Lyrics: Rajat Aroraa
 Starring: Vidya Balan, Naseeruddin Shah, Saksham Malhotra, Tusshar Kapoor
 Genre: Drama  Recommended Audience: Adult
Yikes, I feel so…dirty after watching this film, and in a good way. The movie harkens back to a more simple time, before women had abs of steel, and were slightly more curvaceous than the exercise driven women of modern times. These women fueled the adolescent’s ahem “dirty” dreams for those growing up during that era. It’s a tale inspired by Silk Smitha (aka South Indian actress Vijayalaxmi), who along with peers like Nylon Nandini, Polyester Padmini, Disco Shanti, and Bell Bottomed Parveen (ok, so I made that last one up), sublimely fought for equal rights for women, all while being exploited by the male dominated film industry in India. If you were looking for a sequel to “Once Upon a Time in Mumbaii”, this aint it, instead director Milan Luthria goes for another period piece with a different sort of semi-biographical tale. Upon first glance it seems like another offbeat film of the kind that producers Shobha Kapoor and Ekta Kapoor are known for (“Love Sex Aur Dhoka” for example), but the film is surprisingly good due to the direction, music, strong screenplay/narrative, and excellent performances by the lead actors.

Writer Rajat Auroraa’s excellent screenplay gives Vidya Balan in the title role a brilliant sand box to play in. Vidya soars in a performance full of bravado and pain. The actress remains faithful to the look of the original actress on whose life this film is based. That means being brave enough to recreate the kind of full-bodied look that these actresses of the 80’s were known for. Naseeruddin Shah is wonderful as always as the aging actor who refuses to let go. Tusshar Kapoor proves that he can portray much more than the comedic buffoons he is known for. Emraan Hashmi is in full quirk mode and shines bright as the wild director who is a rebel without a cause. Vishal Shekhar’s Bappi Lahiri revival “Ooo La La” celebrates the inherent cheese factor in the songs from that era, and I dare it not to creep into your bran and enslave you with it’s nostalgic sounding melody. The cinematography by Bobby Singh keeps the viewer immersed in the 80s. All in all, the film is one of the best of 2011, and is not to be missed. It’s daring where it needs to be, and Vidya Balan proves once again that she is not merely eye candy, but a female actor on par with any other male contemporary in Bollywood today.

 PB Rating: 6.5 out of 10  Public Rating (by 410 unique users): 5.11
 Director: Anubhav Sinha  Producer: Gauri Khan
 Music: Vishal-Shekhar  Lyrics: Atahar Panchi, Vishal Dadlani and Kumaar
 Starring: Shahrukh Khan, Kareena Kapoor, Arjun Rampal, Shahana Goswami
 Genre: Action  Recommended Audience: General
Biff! Bam! POW! Zap! Oof! CRUNCH! Look, up in the sky! Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Is it SRK? No, it’s G.ONE! Is it just me or does the name G.One not really stir any feelings of intense inspiration within one’s heart? There’s the gist of the problem with “Ra.One”. At no point in time does the viewer really care about the main character. Oh, SRK is perfectly fine in the lead role as both the creator and the creation and the special effects are absolutely on par with any Hollywood film, yet the film just falls flat in terms of execution. So, what’s it doing under THUMS UP? Well, there are more plus points than negatives resulting in a movie that is worth a single watch, and maybe a couple of half watches after that (see below for more on that).

What makes super hero films so appealing? Sure, the special effects are a big part of the mix, but it’s not the heart and soul. The heart and soul is the fact that the hero is fighting against odds, for humanity`s heart, for their own soul. With great power, comes great responsibility. The best superhero films start off with the person who would be a hero, developing into the person that will be there to save us all. Unfortunately "Ra.One" is slick, and entertaining, but it lacks that essential core that all super-hero films need. The fact that Ra.One is not human only adds to the detachment, though I get that SRK was going for that Pinocchio sequence wherein the wooden boy becomes a real boy.

It also doesn’t help that the creation of the main villain Ra.One (aka Raavan) and hero G.One (aka Jeevan), doesn’t ring as being entirely plausible. Escaping from a video game is one thing, but isn’t it convenient that both have artificial bodies to escape into? The story focuses on Shekhar (SRK) whose son thinks his father is a complete nerd. In order to prove otherwise Shekhar develops a video game wherein the villain is more powerful than the hero. Somehow the program gains sentience and with a little escapism bleeds into the real world. The battle for humanity’s soul is on! Or something like that.

What saves the film from an almost disastrous first half is the fine direction by Anubhav Sinha and the second half which focuses on the battle between villain and hero. Also, Shah Rukh Khan gives a groovy performance as G.One, while Kareena really does nothing but be the beautiful damsel in distress. Arjun Rampal is suitably evil, though had a better performance in "Om Shanti Om". The long haired moppet Armaan Verma is endearing as the lead character’s son. The music by Vishal Shekhar is also quite good with the highlights being “Chamak Challo”, “Criminal” and “Bhare Naina being the standout songs. The cinematography by Nicola Pecorini and V. Manikanandan is stunning, resulting in a smooth slick finish to every scene. Bravo for SRK being brave enough to produce an honest to God Bollywood super hero film with excellent effects; however, both he and director Sinha should have realized that a super hero without a heart is no hero at all. The audience needs to believe that the hero is above all others…and that doesn’t quite come across. The full movie is worth a watch once, and only the second half of the film is worth several watches…to marvel at the special effects. POW! Indeed!

Thums Down - Recent Films that Disappointed :-(
Loot Gaye! Loot Gaye! Loot Gaye! Hum sub loot gaye! At least that’s what I felt after watching Govinda’s latest comedy (and I use the term mildly) caper. “Loot” is a poorly directed film by Rajnish Thakur (director of the forgotten “Amar Joshi Shahid Ho Gaya” and writer of films like “Darna Marna Hai”, “Road” and “Love Ke Liye Kuch Bhi Karega”). The story is another Bollywood masala film whose lynchpin is a big huge samosa sized misunderstanding! You see, Govinda, Sunil Shetty, Javed Jaffrey, and Mahakshay Chakraborty rob the wrong place! Bwa hahahahaha! Can you believe it!?!?! Now, they’ve got this don played by the ever so creepy evil doer director turned actor Mahesh Manjrekar after them. Oh, and don’t miss poor Mika Singh’s debut as an actor. As for the gals, well, you’ve got Kim Sharma and Shweta Bhardwaj…’nuff said. The cinematography by T. Surendra Reddy is a highlight of the film. All in all, only watch this film if you are in the mood for a bad 80s comedy caper. If you want to revisit the 80s, you’re better off watching “The Dirty Picture” instead. Forget this, I am outta here!

 When Kiran Met Karen
Ah yes, what a splendid film starring Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan. The orgasmic diner scene is a veritable classic of Hollywood cinema. What’s that you say? That’s not this film? Er…oh yeah, this is something different. You see, this is the story of when Kiran met Karen and how they sort of, kind of fell in love in a tragic lovers kind of way. This very raw film focuses on something that is usually missing or overlooked by mainstream Indian cinema and that is a story involving a lesbian relationship. Yes, it’s a controversial subject in some areas, but it’s commendable that director Manan Katohara was willing to tackle this subject. Unfortunately what could have been an interesting film is strongly let down by the weak screenplay by S. Dwaipayan, Manan Katohara, and Sumita Sheth. The main story beat takes forever to get to point (the point being a Bollywood actress played by Chriselle Almeida is fed up with life, and meets a reporter played by Kelli Holsopple and sparks fly thereafter). The premise is a good one, but the actual visualization of the film, the less than stellar direction (with strange otherworldly visuals), and the at times muddy cinematography by Punit Chhabra just doesn’t gel into a good or watchable film. The lead actors fail to leave a mark or even hold your attention. You know you are in trouble when halfway through the film you wonder if you will be able to get through the whole movie without falling asleep. Watch this at your own risk…and don’t say that I didn’t warn you.

 Director: Remo DSouza  Producer: Vashu Bhagnani
 Music: Sachin-Jigar  Lyrics: Sameer
 Starring: Jackky Bhagnani, Pooja Gupta, Riteish Deshmukh, Angad Bedi, Chandan Roy Sanyal, Arshad Warsi
 Genre: Comedy  Recommended Audience: General
In the film “Accepted”, rogue students form their own university that focuses on having fun, and fooling the parents. The university turns into an actual educational experience for the miscreant students who form the student body. Blah, blah, blah…. and they lived happily ever after.

Wait a sec! Coincidentally, “F.A.LT.U” with a screenplay by Mayur Puri and Tusshar Hiranandani has almost exactly the same plot as “Accepted”! Now, how did that happen, I wonder?!? Ahhhh, you have to love Bollywood and such “inspired” film-making.

Okay, forget the fact that the film is a total rip off of a B-grade Hollywood film. If you can have that filmi amnesia for a moment and take this movie at face value than it’s not a bad film, but it certainly is far from good or great. First time choreographer turned director Remo D’Souza shows promise in his direction, but he is totally let down by the incredibly bad screenplay. It’s got holes so big in it that you can drive rikshaws through them. The characters are half-baked. Jackky Bhagnani inexplicably returns to the silver screen to deliver an okay performance (though he lacks in screen charisma). Arshad Wari and Ritesh Deshmukh look like they are sleep walking through the film. The jokes deliver semi smirks, and I guess the semi smirks kept me awake and watching the whole film till the end. The best part of the film is the hot music by Sachin-Jigar. The songs break up the monotony just enough to carry the film forward. Worth a single watch, “F.A.LT.U” is a faltu comedy at best yaar!

 Bheja Fry 2
 PB Rating: 4.0 out of 10  Public Rating (by 412 unique users): 5.09
 Director: Sagar Ballary  Producer: Mukul Deora
 Music: Ishq Bector, Sneha Khanwalkar, Sagar Desai  Lyrics: Shree D, Sonny Ravan, Shakeel Azmi
 Starring: Vinay Pathak, Kay Kay Menon, Minissha Lamba, Suresh Menon, Amole Gupte
 Genre: Comedy  Recommended Audience: General
I love Vinay Pathak (in a buddy kind of way…high five dude), I really do. He’s a great actor and a true comedic talent. His work in “Bheja Fry” was truly sublime as his portrayal of wannabe singer Bharat Bhushan (the loveable buffoon) literally wormed its way into your mind. His scenes with Rajat Kapoor (who excelled as the cheating louse with the painful backache….Ranjeet Thadani) were an immersive experience to watch. The core of that superlative film were these two characters and the chemistry that they shared.

Unfortunately, in an effort to make the sequel bigger and better (supersized), Writer/Director Sagar Ballary (who also wrote/directed the first film), drops Rajat Kapoor and loses half the chemistry that made the first film what it was….a cult classic.

Instead in his place, we get a story that tries to tie into the current singing competition zeitgeist as Bhushan wins a singing competition and promptly heads off onto a 3-Day cruise. This time around Kay Kay Menon (as Ajit Talwar) is the lucky (?) soul who gets some one on one time with Bhushan. Oh, along the way we have Amole Gupta, Minissha Lamba, and Suresh Menon woven throughout the plot. Yet, the whole thing lacks charm. It’s just not….funny. Oh, you want to laugh so bad, you want to welcome back brother Bhushan with a pat on the back and a smile on your face, but this time around Bhushan is let down by the one weakness that seems to infect many Bollywood films….a weak script. I imagine that it must be difficult to write a follow up to such a quirky movie as the first “Bheja Fry”, but perhaps Sagar Ballary would have been better off keeping Rajat Kapoor’s character and setting the storyline in Mumbai…all the while keeping the story at street level. Beautiful scenery does not a movie make, and just because the film is a sequel, doesn’t always mean it has to be bigger. It just means it has to be better. Watch the film for a few chuckles, and then watch the first one to truly be entertained.

 Tees Maar Khan
 PB Rating: 2.0 out of 10  Public Rating (by 410 unique users): 5.11
 Director: Farah Khan  Producer: Shirish Kunder, Ronnie Screwvala, Twinkle Khanna
 Music: Vishal-Shekhar, Shirish Kunder  Lyrics: Shirish Kunder, Vishal Dadlani, Anvita Dutt Guptan
 Starring: Akshay Kumar, Akshaye Khanna, Katrina Kaif, Raghu Ram, Rajiv Laxman and Arya Babbar
 Genre:  Recommended Audience:
Somewhere while taking a bubble bath in his golden tub, Shah Rukh Khan is laughing his SRK off at the train wreck that is “Tees Maar Khan”. Farah Khan is talented, there is no doubt about that, but “Tees Maar Khan” is a perfect example of an artist whose ego told her that she could do no wrong. The film is lavish to a fault, but hollow, with a story by Farah’s husband Shirish Kunder, that just doesn’t take off. What starts off as a promisingly entertaining story falls flat on its face by the second half of the film. Akshay Kumar hams it up in every scene as the criminal who has been a thief since he was born and Katrina Kaif has nothing really to do but look “jawanilicious”. Vishal-Shekhar’s score has the mega but forgettable hit, “Sheila Ki Jawani”, but for the most part is a big let down considering how brilliant their music for “Om Shanti Om” was. All in all, “Tees Maar Khan” buckles under its own “look at me gosh darn it, I am funny” weight. You will watch this that’s a guarantee, but will you enjoy it? Back to the drawing board Farah, perhaps it’s best to stick with the chemistry you shared with Shah Rukh Khan. Still, regardless of what I write, the movie has and will make a bucket load of money. I just hope there’s no “Tees Maar Khan 2

Previous Weeks Thums Up - Thums Down »
 • `Why "Krrish" 3 wasn`t so super!`
 • BWAHAHAHA….`Grand Masti`!
 • ‘Besharam’ is no ‘Dabangg’!
 • `Shuddh Desi Romance` Sheds New Light on Love!
 • Ranbir and Deepika ‘s chemistry burns up the screen in ‘Yeh Jaawani Hai Deewane’
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