Planet Bollywood

Thums Up - Thums Down for the Week - 12 Jun 2012
  Akshay Kumar gives us a rowdy time with `Rowdy Rathore` which is a masala dish served hot and spicy!
  - Samir Dave
Selection based on Planet Bollywood critics recommendations           Let us know what you think about this
 

`Rowdy Rathore` is `Wanted` redux in many ways, but still enjoyable in a popcorn candy kind of way, while Naseeruddin Shah is a must see in the cult film, `Today’s Special`.

Thums Up - Recent Films Worth Watching :-)
 Rowdy Rathore
 PB Rating: 6.0 out of 10  Public Rating (by 400 unique users): 5.17
 Director: Prabhudheva  Producer: Ronnie Screwwala, Sanjay Leela Bhansali
 Music: Sajid-Wajid  Lyrics: Sameer Anjaan, Faiz Anwar
 Starring: Akshay Kumar, Sonakshi Sinha
 Genre: Action  Recommended Audience: Parental Guidance
Yes, yes, just like many of you out there reading this from the four corners of the world, I grew up as an infant, with the masala classics of yesteryear playing in the background, whilst I focused on more important things like…toys. Now, as a grown up (shudder), I look back on those films while wearing a set of rose tinted glasses. You see, they were cheeeeeeezy to say the least, but had a lot of heart. Those films still resonate, and I feel that in the rush to modernize Bollywood to be more in tune with Hollywood standards, we’ve lost a bit of that garam masala that we used to love so much. Well, every now and then comes a film that positively wallows in that masala, and the end result is a spicy dish that is painfully delicious and a guilty pleasure. This happened with Prabhu Dheva’s “Wanted”, and now the director/dancer delivers us a tasty dish called garam tikka masala in “Rowdy Rathore”.

Here’s a secret, the South never let go of their masala films, and hence we get remakes of those original South hits in the North. Thus, "Vikramarkudu" is translated into, “Rowdy Rathore” (though not literally). This time around the producer of the film is Sanjay Leela Bhansali, whose last few flicks have resulted in some “black” and “blue” box office flops. He smartly moves into the producer`s role, and lets Prabhu Dheva do what he does best. The result is a very entertaining film that will not rock the Bollywood film hall of fame, but serves as a great way to relieve life’s stresses for a few hours and freak out with a killer performance by Akshay Kumar (who always excels at both action and comedy). Leading lady Sonakshi Sinha proves that she has what it takes to be a good actress and not just eye candy. This is no glamor doll, whose skimpy outfits would only serve to titillate the audience. She shares a good chemistry with Akshay and delivers a memorable performance.

So what’s the story? I don’t want to give too much away, but Akshay’s Shiva is a con man who falls in love with Sonakshi’s Priya (a seriously overused name for female characters in Bollywood) and fights to not only save himself but also his “daughter”, and take down the evil big boss villain, Nasser. Yes, yes, the screenplay by Shiraz Ahmed isn’t anything new, but the treatment is fresh enough to please the most jaded of viewers. Prabhu Dheva’s direction is spot on and especially thrilling is the masalalicious music by Sajid-Wajid that is just familiar enough to be ultra catchy, yet different enough to be…well…ultra catchy. This one is worth a watch or two, and who knows, someone might grow up with this film playing in the background, so that the masala heart of Bollywood can live on well into the future.


 Today`s Special
Some of you might be thinking to yourselves, “What the heck is this film and why is Samir writing about it?” Well, as long time TUTD readers know, I like many different kinds of films, some that are so bad that they are good, and some that are so bad….that they are just plain bad. Yet there are some films that are big budget thrill rides, and others that are lower in budget, slightly off kilter, and as charming as any other film. “Today’s Special” is that kind of charming film, with understated performances, that will bring a smile to your face every time you see it. Some of you might recognize the lead actor, comedian Asif Mandvi (who regularly appears on the Comedy Central program, the Daily Show). This film will resonate with NRI’s and RI’s, but don’t forget to get your MRI, when needed (have to love those abbreviations). It’s all about being lost and trying to find a direction in life. It’s about our parents and how they worked so hard to get ahead in life, sometimes working in jobs that were less than appealing. Most of all it’s a film that cherishes the fact that we are simply human and not perfect, and that life leads us into very surprising places. The film is written by Asif Mandvi and David Kaplan (based on Mandvi’s off Broadway play “Sakina’s Restaurant”). What sets this film apart from others in the same genre that focus on NRI struggles, are the performances. Mandvi delivers a fine performance as the lead character Samir, whose dreams of being a world famous chef are dashed to pieces when his father (wonderfully played by Harish Patel) has a heart attack, forcing the young chef to essentially take over the restaurant (a move the he considers a serious downgrade for him). I have to give a special mention to one of my favorite character actors, Ajay Naidu who hilariously portrays the stereotypical Indian chef who clashes with Mandvi in the beginning of the movie. Madhur Jaffrey portray’s Samir’s mother in a wonderfully eccentric manner and is a joy to watch. Yet, the best character plot and performance is by none other than Naseeruddin Shah as Akbar, the taxi driver by night, esoteric chef by day. Shah’s performance is thrilling, and he imbibes the character with an off kilter vibe that is absolutely the highlight of the film. It is Akbar (Shah) who teaches Samir (Mandvi) to feel with his heart and live life to the fullest. Watch this film for a perfect example of a character driven screenplay that allows these actors to portray fully realized people that will charm the viewer. “Today’s Special” is quite a tasty treat indeed!

 Ek Deewana Tha
 Director: Gautham Vasudev Menon  Producer: Gautham Menon, Reshma Ghatala, Venkat Somasundaram
 Music: A.R. Rahman  Lyrics: Javed Akhtar
 Starring: Prateik babbar, Amy Jackson, Manu Rishi
 Genre: Romantic  Recommended Audience: Parental Guidance
Ok, sure, I know, the film was a damp squib at the box office. I know that critics all but tore the film down (rrrrrrrip…..crassssssh……burn baby burn). I know, I KNOW that Amy Jackson really can’t act (but darn if she does look really beautiful (though her non-Indian features do pull the viewer out of the story throughout the film). Yet, there’s one reason that you (yes YOU) should show the film some love and give it a watch, and that is poor Prateik Babbar, who truly gives it his all with a stellar performance that is the sole saving grace of the film (other than the catchy music by A.R. Rahman with "Hosanna" being the standout track). Prateik is very natural throughout the film and he realistically portrays the confusion that falling in love can bring with it. His unorthodox looks and acting technique raise the film higher than it has a right to be. I know that pure love stories can be passé in this day and age of the sexy techno love/hate/thriller/action film, but it’s still nice to see what turns out to be an unconventional love story in “Ekk Deewana Tha”. The director, Gautham Menon does a fairly decent job, but the uneven story written by the director himself has a real problem with its pacing. What’s the story about? Simple directionless Hindu boy falls in love with Christian drop dead gorgeous girl who shimmies past him each day as she walks back and forth. He then proceeds to be a little creepy by stalking her until she gets frustrated with him being around all the time and falls in love with him. This is just like real life yaar! Yeah right. Throw into the mix, the girl’s crazy orthodox family and you have the gist of the dilemma. Special note to all casting directors in Bollywood, please refrain from hiring non-South Asian models from other countries to act in a desi film. It rarely (if ever works). With a better female lead, Prateik would have had more to bounce off of (quit with your dirty minds), in terms of his acting.

Dear Prateik, if rumors are to be believed, then you are romantically involved with Amy and I am sure she’s a wonderful person. I still don’t believe that she can really act in a Hindi film though. In any case, the cinematography by M.S. Prabhu is a treat, and the choreography by Brinda has an oddball charm to it. All in all, “Ekk Deewana Tha” is a flawed film, but far from the flaming wreck critics made it out to be. Prateik and Rahman’s music are the two reasons to give this film a once over, plus at least Amy Jackson is pretty to look at.


 Housefull 2
 PB Rating: 6.0 out of 10  Public Rating (by 400 unique users): 5.17
 Director: Sajid Khan  Producer: Sajid Nadiadwala
 Music: Sajid-Wajid  Lyrics: Sameer
 Starring: Akshay Kumar, Asin, John Abraham, Jacqueline Fernandez, Ritesh Deshmukh, Zarine Khan Shreyas Talpade, Shazahn Padamsee
 Genre: Comedy  Recommended Audience: General
Boy, Farah Khan’s brother Sajid Khan is quite a polarizing figure isn’t he? The director is more well known for his skewering (and on the spot) commentary as host of almost every award show in the UNIVERSE (add echo effect here), yet his work as a director contains perhaps only 25% of the wit he has shown as a host. Why is that? Yes, I get the fact that he wishes to make entertaining films for the whimsical and more tolerant (of mediocre films) masses, and doesn’t quite care for the nose in the sky “elite” filmgoers who prefer comedies like” Munnabhai” (both films) and “3 Idiots”. Yes, I get that he blatantly makes his films as middle of the road as possible. It’s almost certain that his films will have nice locales, a multitude of pop culture stars, sexy women showing off their curves, silly minor characters that pratfall into silly comedic routines, foot tapping music, all wrapped in a nice silk red bow. So, based on all of this, let’s look at “Housefull 2” as what it really is. It’s not an attempt to make a better film than the original, but more of a “to be continued” continuation of the first film in thinking only. So, you’re probably wondering what all this gibberish and gobbledygook talk actually means? Well, it’s that if you think “Housefull 2” is going to be the absolute best comedy you have ever seen in your life, well…hate to break this to you, but that’s not going to happen. If you want to have some mindless fun (preferably after throwing back a half dozen shots), then this film is for you yaar!

So, let’s get to it, “Housefull 2” is a film that is half “housefull “ and half “houseempty”. First let’s analyze the housefull part. The movie itself is more fun than it has a right to be given the considerably weak screenplay/story/plot. The fun resides in the charisma of watching the cast interact. By that, I mean the male cast, as the female cast is basically window dressing (aside from Asin, who makes a commendable effort). Akshay Kumar, John Abraham, Ritesh Deshmukh , and Shreyas Talpade are all fun to watch. They are utter goofballs, and their chemistry works. The older cast that includes Rishi Kapoor, Randhir Kapoor, Mithun Chakraborty, Boman Irani (who is not that old), are also fun to watch…sharing a goofy but endearing chemistry. The first half of the film has the trademark “housefull" humor. The direction by Sajid Khan is his usual, he’s got that certain style that fits in with the kinds of films he makes. Let’s face it, it’s probably easier directing action that trying to direct a spontaneously comedic scene and Mr. Khan knows what he is doing in that regard. Note Mr. Khan, next time try an action film, something different to keep your creative juices flowing. Yeah, right. I know that’s not going to happen, instead we will probably get “Heyyyyyyy Babbbbbbieeeeeeeeee 2 ½”.

Now, the “houseempty” half: The female cast is disappointingly hard to watch (other than Asin, who is the only saving grace). Jacqueline Fernandez, Shazahn Padamsee, Zarine Khan do not emote. If you take away the, “I’m leering at you as a male audience member in a creepy manner” effect their “beauty” has in the film, there is a palpable void in terms of their acting. The music by Sajid-Wajid is thoroughly disappointing. Yeah, yeah yaar, I know…others will say that it fits the scenes. I won’t. The music is atrociously bland. This is especially disappointing considering that Sajid Khan’s previous films had really fun music. To be honest, I can’t even remember a single tune…it’s all one big generic mess. The screenplay by Sajid Khan, Tushar Hiranandani, and Farhad Sajid has the potential for a wittiness that is never fully realized. The cinematography by Manoj Soni is fairly nondescript. Finally, the second half barely turns the film into a cohesive whole.

So, to summarize, “Housefull2” is a fun if flawed film, about four men marrying four girls, whose four fathers will clash with everyone to generate comedic scenes of laughing power. Or something like that. It’s worth a single watch, just to see the spectacle of it all and you will find yourself chuckling against your will. In the end, I can’t give the film a Thums down, as it fulfills its mediocre challenge, which is to be as general of a comedic film as possible. Fluffy and fun like a cloud that floats away at the slightest breeze, “Housefull 2” will keep you entertained and smiling for the most part. Just don’t expect it to rock your world yaar!


 Agent Vinod
 PB Rating: 7.0 out of 10  Public Rating (by 400 unique users): 5.17
 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.

Thums Down - Recent Films that Disappointed :-(
 Bittoo Boss
 Director: Supavitra Babul  Producer: Kumar Mangat Pathak; Abhishek Pathak
 Music: Raghav Sachar  Lyrics: Kumaar, Luv Ranjan; Aseem Ahmed Abbasi
 Starring: Pulkit Samrat; Amita Pathak
 Genre: Comedy  Recommended Audience: General
What to say about this film? I am rarely at a loss for words (as my lengthy TUTD diatribes can attest), yet this film leaves me totally flabbergasted (now there’s a word you don’t hear every day)! “Bittoo Boss” is like an itchy rash that won’t go away for a couple of hours. The film could have been a smart, funny small romantic comedy, but instead is just grating to sit through. The direction by Supavitra Babul is so-so, and nothing out of the ordinary. The screenplay by the director and Gautam Mehra rings hollow. The music by the once promising, Raghav Sachar is so mundane that it drags the film even further down the drain. The story itself focuses on Bittoo (played by small screen star Pulkit Samrat of “Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi”), the videographer that everyone wants at their wedding. The girl of his dreams Is Mrinalani (Amitha Palak who is wasted here). Bittoo will do anything to prove he is the man of his girl’s dreams. Honestly, I thought the film would have been much better, I usually enjoy films like these, and who doesn’t love weddings? Yet, from the first reel to the last, I kept hoping for something that would make this worth watching. Though the lead pair try their best, with a particularly strong performance by Pulkit Samrat, the film unfortunately sinks the both of them. “Bittoo Boss” is definitely not a career notch on anyone’s belt. Thums way down for this one.

 Bheja Fry 2
 PB Rating: 4.0 out of 10  Public Rating (by 405 unique users): 5.11
 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.


 F.A.L.T.U
 Director: Remo D’Souza  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!


 Tees Maar Khan
 PB Rating: 2.0 out of 10  Public Rating (by 400 unique users): 5.17
 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

 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.

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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