Planet Bollywood

Thums Up - Thums Down for the Week - 18 Jun 2012
  Let free the hero within you with…’Arjun: The Warrior Prince’!
  - Samir Dave
Selection based on Planet Bollywood critics recommendations           Let us know what you think about this

Walt Disney brings forth what may very well be India’s best animated film (so far), with “Arjun: The Warrior Prince” a film that is as good as any live action film from Bollywood.

Thums Up - Recent Films Worth Watching :-)
 Arjun the Warrior Prince
So, when you think about amazing animated films, you probably think about either the kind that Disney has put out in the U.S. market(like “The Lion King” or “Aladdin”), and the wonderful cgi generated films by Pixar (like “Toy Story” or “Finding Nemo”. When you think about amazing animated films from India, what do you think about? Well? “Ek Anek Aur Ekta” (1972)? “Hanuman” (2005)? “Roadside Romeo (2008)? "Ramayana: The Epic" (2010)? Considering that India has such a rich heritage of fables, and also highly creative individuals, you would think there would be a lot more. Either the animated films are aimed at the very young, or the very mind numbed old. So, it’s refreshing to see that the animated field is changing (though ever so slowly) as the mindset…well…sets in that animated films are not just for kids, but a viable medium to tell all ages stories in.

With that said, the Walt Disney company presents director Arnab Chaudhuri’s “Arjun: The Warrior Prince”, which combines classic animation style with cgi special effects, and is a step in the right direction for India’s animation industry. The visuals are captivating, as is the story that focuses on Arjun the hero of the Mahabharata, in what could be termed a prequel story. The fun script by Rajesh Devraj (screenplay) and R.D. Tailang (dialogue), keeps the narrative flowing at an exciting pace. The voice cast includes performances by Yuddvir Bakolia as Arjun, Illa Arun as Kunti, Anjan Srivastav as Lord Shiva, Sachin Khedekar as Lord Krishna, and Vishnu Sharma as Bheehma. All deliver earnest vocal performances (something that is not easy to do as many times in Indian animation, the voices come out as detached and unemotional). With all that being said, the film was sadly overlooked with the onslaught of all the Bollywood live action films in the last few months, and the fact that the market for Bollywood animation movies is fairly limited. Still, anyone that doesn’t give this wonderful film a try is missing out on a thrilling action packed movie that presents the story of Arjun in a way that is easily relatable to by the audience. Also, as an added bonus, the music is by Vishal Dadlani, Dhruv Ghanekar, and Shekhar Ravjiani and adds a nice emotional dimension to the movie. So don’t be so high strung! Grab your bows and arrows, and let free the warrior in your heart with “Arjun: The Warrior Prince”!

 Vicky Donor
 PB Rating: 7.0 out of 10  Public Rating (by 410 unique users): 5.11
 Director: Shoojit Sircar  Producer: John Abraham
 Music: Abhishek-Akshay, Donn & Bann, Rochak Kohli, Ayushmann  Lyrics: Akshay, Juhi, Kusum, Swanand, Vijay, Ayushmann
 Starring: Ayushmann Khurrana, Yami Gautam, Annu Kapoor
 Genre: Social  Recommended Audience: General
Picture this: You are in a room that is uncomfortably dark with the scent of unspent passion in the air. A beautiful woman is walking towards you with a sensual smile on her face, and you are experiencing the first joys of passion in your, er….heart. Then all of a sudden she hands you a cup, asks you to fill it with your little sailors and walks away, leaving you alone….and contemplating your next step. Take the premise of a young man who can make a lot of money by donating his sperm to a fertility clinic, and how that impacts his future relationship with the woman he loves (in all its awkward glory) and you have the premise behind the smartly written and well acted film, “Vicky Donor”.

So, yesterday my mom and dad asked me, “What is this fillum Vicky Donor about beta?” I was, unfortunately drinking a soda at the time and almost spit it out. Embarrassed, I remarked that it was about this Punjabi boy, who donates sperm to a fertility clinic for infertile couple to have a chance at parenthood. He then meets this Bengali girl and they fall in love, but his donor past comes back to haunt him. They looked at me and replied, “Sounds good!”. I guess whenever we talk about sperm we have to subconsciously blush, and on top of that, Indian culture revels at being uncomfortable with matters that deal with sex or infertility. How refreshing then that John Abraham was brave enough to produce this film, that is not only a romantic comedy but also brings out into the open what is considered by many to be a taboo subject.

On top of that, we have the return of director Shoojit Sircar who returns to the director’s chair after a long absence, his last film “Yahaan” was released in 2005 (while he produced a Bengali film “Aparajita Tumi” this year). The direction combined with the witty screenplay/dialogues by Juhi Chatervedi plus a killer performance by lead actor Ayushman really keep the momentum of the movie going from beginning to end. It’s important to realize that “Vicky Donor” doesn’t settle for cheap laughs (which would have been easy to do considering the topic), but instead handles the topic of sperm donation and how it impacts not only couples but the men who are donating with great fun and sensitivity. Also, I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that Annu Kapoor and Yami Gautam also make the film immensely entertaining. Finally, the music by Abhishek-Akshay which includes tracks like, “Rum Whiskey” and “Kho Janne De” makes me look forward to more music from this duo in the future. So, in short, don’t miss out on this film, if you overlooked it due to the lack of a star cast, or big budget, it’s certainly one of the best movies of 2012. If you’ve already donated your time to it, then why not see it again? You won’t be disappointed as the film holds up to repeated viewings (something a lot of other Bollywood films cannot do).

 Rowdy Rathore
 PB Rating: 6.0 out of 10  Public Rating (by 410 unique users): 5.11
 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.

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 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.

 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!

 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

 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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