Planet Bollywood

Thums Up - Thums Down for the Week - 12 May 2008
  Jimmy scares viewers more than Bhootnath
  - Samir Dave
Selection based on Planet Bollywood critics recommendations           Let us know what you think about this
 

Thums Up - Recent Films Worth Watching :-)
 Bhootnath
 PB Rating: 6.5 out of 10  Public Rating (by 400 unique users): 5.17
 Director: Vivek Sharma  Producer: Ravi Chopra
 Music: Vishal-Shekhar  Lyrics: Javed Akhtar
 Starring: Amitabh Bachchan, Juhi Chawla,Aman Siddiqui, with a special appearance by Shah Rukh Khan
 Genre: Family  Recommended Audience: General
So, will this movie stand a ghost of a chance at being a blockbuster or fade away fast to the spiritual plane of flops? Time will tell. It seems that Ravi Chopra is slowly but steadfastly losing steam. “Baghban” was a movie that struck a chord across generations and proved to be a hit. The much weaker “Baabul” suffered from lackluster direction and a weak screenplay that bored the audience resulting in a quick fade at the box office. Now, Ravi Chopra has turned the directorial reins to first time director Vivek Sharma and the product is a mixed bag, falling somewhere between “Baghban” and “Baabul” in quality the movie ultimately is simply a good timepass film. Is it a children’s movie or a socially conscious movie with a message? There are no clear answers, but in the wasteland of Bollywood releases in 2008, the movie proves to be fairly entertaining. Amitabh portrays the character of the ghost with his trademark style (one can almost say that he is the Teflon coated actor, since his performances are always a highlight of any film). The child actor Aman Siddiqui, acts well, but suffers from his character not being very well developed. Juhi Chawla proves again why she is such an underrated actress by providing a solid performance with the material she is given. The music is totally forgettable (a missed opportunity for Vishal and Shekhar to show their adaptability to different genre’s of music). Of course, none of these things matter. The majority of people will go to see this movie to see Shah Rukh Khan’s guest appearance and his performance is a highlight of the movie. It’s a testament to the superstar, that even though he is in the film for only a half hour at the most, his role/character is one of the most memorable. All in all, it’s a movie that is fairly well made, with fairly good performances. It’s a perfectly harmless movie to watch with the kids and though you won’t love it, you will come out liking the movie.

 Khuda Kay Liye
This one is technically not a Bollywood film as it is the first Pakistani film released in India in almost four decades, yet it deserves mention in the Thums Up section, due to its frank and realistic depiction of the conflicts that exist within Islamic culture. Debutante director Shoaib Mansoor deftly handles some very controversial topics such as forced marriages, forbidden relationships, and the use of the Islamic religion to wage terror arround the globe. In the vast vacuum of recent style over substance Bollywood fare (such as “Race” and “Tashan”), it’s refreshing to see a film maker use the potential power of movies in a way that gets an important message across. The director has gathered a stellar cast that includes famed veteran Naseeruddin Shah, model Iman Ali, Shaan (not the playback singer), and Fawed Afzal Khan. The clever screenplay gives each of these actors a chance to properly portray their well developed characters. Excellent direction, a wonderful soundtrack, powerful acting, and most importantly of all, a well written thought provoking screenplay all combine for a movie that will leave you with a clearer understanding of the powerful forces at play in the Islamic world.

 Hope and a Little Sugar
Sandra Bullock and Harry Connick Jr. star in this syrupy sweet romance that….what is that you say? Oh! Excuse me, I thought we were talking about the Hollywood film “Hope Floats”? Ahem, that’s not what we are talking about here, instead we are talking about pioneering female director (in male dominated Bollywood) Tanuja Chandra’s (“Dushman”, “Sangharsh” and “Zindaggi Rocks” among others) latest mini-opus, “Hope and a Little Sugar”. Chandra’s movies are always hti and miss for me as the director’s films show promise, yet are brought down by weak presentations. Is it any wonder, that though she has directed seven movies as well as worked on various T.V. serials, she’s yet to deliver a film that has made a memorable dent at the box office? Her latest movie will probably be another one that ultimately fades quickly at the multiplexes and that’s a pity because this film is probably her strongest film to date and one that is worth watching. The movie deals with the prejudices between those of Hindu and Muslim faith shortly after the horrible events of 9/11. The standout performance from this film is delivered by Anupam Kher who plays the father-in-law whose paranoia against those of Muslim faith is fueled by the terrorist attack on New York City’s twin towers. Once upon a time Bollywood superstar actress Mahima Choudhry (“Pardes”) showcases her acting talent as the married woman (Saloni) who becomes the object of a would be photographer’s (Ali, played by actor Amit Sial) obsession. Ali’s Muslim religion becomes the focal point of the tensions that build up around those around him. An uncompromising look at how the terrorist activity of a few triggers built up religious tension between individuals, “Hope and a Little Sugar” will make you question the behaviour of those who hate others simply because of their personal faith.

 U, Me, Aur Hum
 PB Rating: 6.0 out of 10  Public Rating (by 400 unique users): 5.17
 Director: Ajay Devgan  Producer: Devgan Entertainment Software Ltd. (Ajay Devgan)
 Music: Vishal Bharadwaj  Lyrics: Munna Dhiman
 Starring: Ajay Devgan, Kajol, Divya Dutta, Isha Shervani, Sumeet Raghavan, and Karan Khanna
 Genre: Romantic  Recommended Audience: Adult
Perhaps “U, Me Aur Hum” should have been titled “U, Me Aur Kajol”, since the as always amazing actress is the high point of this at times uneven film. It’s gotten to the point that whenever that rare film starring Kajol (arguably the best actress of this generation) releases, people storm the cinema halls simply to see her performance. She’s probably the only actor/actress that can actually raise the bar of the film simply by her acting within it. Alas, such is the case with “U, Me Aur Hum” which is a sometimes-uneven Bollywood version of the Hollywood romantic film, “The Notebook”. Ajay Devgan directs with panache and is the perfect solid counterpoint to Kajol’s at times frenetic hyper emoting. The film is faced with the usual problem that arises for any director of Bollywood films, and that is, balancing the light hearted moments of song and dance with the depths of serious drama. That’s the only area where this film slightly falters. From a first half that is light and airy to the second half that literally drowns the viewer in melodrama, the one shining constant in this film is Kajol. Don’t miss her powerhouse of a performance in this at times riveting movie that will make you appreciate true love both on the silver screen and in real life.

 Shaurya
 PB Rating: 6.0 out of 10  Public Rating (by 401 unique users): 5.17
 Director: Samar Khan  Producer: Harish Darani
 Music: Adnan Sami  Lyrics:
 Starring: Kay Kay Menon, Rahul Bose, Jaaved Jaaferi, Minissha Lambda, and Deepak Dobriyal
 Genre: Drama  Recommended Audience: Parental Guidance
During the climax of this film, I had the insane urge to shout, “You can’t handle the truth”! The only problem is that I’m not Jack Nicholson and this film is not the Hollywood hit, “A Few Good Men”. What it is is another Bollywood movie that is an Indianized version of a Hollywood hit. Unfortunately, director Samar Khan is unable to fully realize the potential of not only the story, but also the actors that comprise his cast. Kay Kay Menon (“Strangers”) is perfect in delivering a powerfully arrogant performance and the film is a must see simply to watch this actor do what he does best. Rahul Bose is another actor who rarely gets his due as he usually stars in offbeat films (amazingly, this might be his most mainstream film to date, not counting the excellently eccentric romantic comedy, “Pyar Ka Side Effects”). For some reason, I kept expecting more from Bose, yet I wasn’t left as impressed with his performance as I was with Kay Kay Menon’s stellar acting. The other actors are just about there and that’s not their fault, but rather the fault of a weak screenplay that doesn’t develop their story arcs enough. On top of all that, just when you really get into the movie, the climax feels rushed as if the producer/director knew that they were getting to the final reel and had to wrap this up…fast. I wish I could say more about this missed opportunity. What could have been a highly taut and dramatic film instead turns into a watch once for Kay Kay Menon and forget the rest kind of movie.

Thums Down - Recent Films that Disappointed :-(
 Jimmy
 Director: Raj N Sippy  Producer: Nawman Malik, Salman Malik
 Music: Anand Raj Anand, Bappa Lahri, Vijay Verma  Lyrics: Ranbir Pushp, Virag Mishra, Anand Raj Anand
 Starring: Mimoh Chakraborty, Zulfi Syed, Aashish Vidyarthi, Ehsaan Khan, Rati Agnihotri, Vikas Kalantri, Rahul Dev, Shakti Kapoor, Nilofer, Gargi Patel, Pooja Singh, Vallabh Vyas
 Genre:  Recommended Audience: Parental Guidance
Jimmy…..Aja….Aja…Aja…..so I can slap you on the head and make this horrible movie go away! A launch of a superstar’s son should be grand in scope and dazzling to the senses. Sadly, this sorry excuse for a movie has none of that. Mimoh is woefully inadequate and needs to refine his acting…not to say that he doesn’t have potential, but I’m not sure if blatant attempts at becoming the next superstar will be his forte. The screenplay is horrendous and the writer should have gone back and copied…. I mean be “inspired” (to use a popular Bollywood term) by one of Mithun Chakraborty’s “classic” films (“I am a disco dancer” becomes, “I am a freestyle dancer” or something like that). The director, Raj N.C. Sippy fails to provide the visionary direction for the movie, and so it degenerates into a stereotypical masala flick style that was thought dead and buried a long time ago. Did I mention the leading lady, Vivana? No? Unfortunately, looks are not everything, as an actor should have some acting talent as well. Let’s see, a bad screenplay, a bad leading pair, bad supporting actors, horrible music. Better luck next time Mimoh, I hope that your nascent career survives this disaster of a debut. I’ll be dancing my way to the disco and praying for you. At least one thing is for sure, there’ll be no “Jimmy” part two in the near future.

 Sirf - Life is Greener on the Other Side
Watch out everyone, here comes “Life…In a Metro” part II. When “…Metro” became a hit last year, it was only a matter of time, before Bollywood came out with a slew of carbon copies, but just as in real life, in reel life each copy has a little bit less of what made the original so special. This time around we have four couples that are suffering from individualistic problems that threaten their marriages. The main theme this time around focuses around the question as to whether it’s worth chasing after money to the detriment of everything else. I really wanted to like this movie, especially for the excellent cast that includes Kay Kay Menon, Ranvir Shorey, Ankur Khanna. the return of Manisha Koirala (an excellent actress whose career was strangely cut short), Nauheed Cyrusi, Sonali Kulkarni and Rituparna Sengupta. Four couple, four stories, yet the screenplay fails to deliver a satisfying resolution to all of them. First time director Rajaatesh Nayar (who joins the growing list of debutante directors this year) shows promise in the way he sets up the film pre-interval, but it’s post interval that everything falls apart as no amount of window dressing can cover up a weak screenplay. The movie’s not a total disaster, and worth a watch…but I just can’t give it a Thums up as it’s quite obviously a film that could have been much better, but in the end just couldn’t deliver a memorable impact. Then again, life does look greener on the other side, so I think I’ll just watch “Life...In a Metro” or the under-rated, “Mumbai Salsa” instead.

 Pranali
 Director: Hirdesh Kamble  Producer: Nikhil Mathur/Harward Entertainment
 Music: Kailasa (Kailash Kher, Paresh Kamath, & Naresh Kamath)  Lyrics: Anil Pandey
 Starring: Nargis, Upyendra Limaye, Raman Trikha, Sudha Chandran, Vinay Apte, and Hemant Pandey
 Genre: Art-Film  Recommended Audience: Parental Guidance
Lost potential, that’s all one can say about this movie that deals with the unique topic of Devdasi prostitution with an underlying topic of legalizing prostitution in India. Despite a strong premise, newcomer director (yes, another new director) Hirdesh Kamble who wrote the lackluster screenplay with Manoj Pandey, is not able to present the subject in a memorable manner. Stereotypical characters start off with the lead actress Nargis, who plays a single mother prostitute who wants to get her child educated but finds both she and her child are shunned by society. What could have been a powerhouse movie that deals with the harsh reality of Devdasi prostitution and sex workers all over India, instead turns into a mess of a film which made even sadder, since the soundtrack was composed by Kailash Kher (a very talented musician) and the dance sequences were choreographed by the famed Saroj Khan (with assistance from Pandit Birju Maharaj). Not worth even a one eyed watch, skip this movie and move up to one of the films from the Thums Up section instead!

 Anamika
 Director: Anant Mahadevan  Producer: Bhanwar Lal Sharma
 Music: Anu Malik  Lyrics: Sameer
 Starring: Dino Morea, Minissha Lamba, Koena Mitra, Aarti Chhabria, Achint Kaur, Prithvi Zutshi, Gulshan Grover
 Genre: Thriller  Recommended Audience: Parental Guidance
King of the thrilling Hindi Bollywood films Dino Morea returns to the silver screen having survived his previous release, “Bhram”! This time around Minissha Lamba along with Gulshan Grover, and Koena Mitra join him as they try to thrill the viewer. The music also fails to impress considering it’s the return of acclaimed music director Anu Malik. Alas, nothing is as much of a letdown as a thriller that isn’t thrilling. Unfortunately “Anamika” fails to ultimately “wow” the audience and though it starts off strong, limps to the final reel unenthusiastically. More and more, we are seeing films from Bollywood that are lacking the ability to hold interest from beginning to end. The cast particularly Dino and Minissha try their best and the director Ananth Narayan Mahadevan is talented; however the film’s USP which should be the mystery is anything but mysterious. When the audience figures out what’s going on before the characters in the film, you know there’s something wrong. Not a bad film by any means, and perhaps on a cloudy rainy day or night…. it will give you a chance to snuggle up to your loved one, but don’t expect much.

 Mr.Black Mr.White
 Director: Deepak Shivdasani  Producer: Bipin Shah
 Music: Tauseef Akhtar, Jatin-Lalit, Shamir Tandon  Lyrics: Sameer
 Starring: Sunil Shetty, Arshad Warsi, Sandhya Mridul, Upasna Singh, Vrajesh Hirjee, Tania Zaetta, Sharat Saxena, Mahima Mehta
 Genre:  Recommended Audience: Parental Guidance
What do you mean you are not laughing yet?! You need to laugh. You must laugh! Laughing is mandatory while reading this! Laughing yet? Why not!?! How about now!? No? Come ON! It’s not hard! How about now? No?! Then you must be watching Mr. Black and Mr. White. Director Deepak Shivdasani needs to laugh a little more and realize that true comedy comes organically within the framework of the film’s story. Again, wasted potential seems to be the order of the day for most of Bollywood’s recent releases. Suniel Shetty (king of the mumbled lines) and Arshad Warsi (who brought the house down as Circuit in the Munnabhai movies) lack the chemistry in order to pull this comedic caper off. Is there anyone out there besides Rajkumar Hirani that can harness Arshad Warshi’s talent? The screenplay features the obligatory misunderstandings, the obligatory don, the obligatory…everything (yes, the pre-requisite beauties are in there as well). I wish there was more I could say about this mis-fire. Perhaps it’s best that it fades away fast, as really, it’s only good for a few tepid laughs. It’s the sort of cookie cutter run of the mill comedy rut that Bollywood has gotten into. This is Mr. Laughter, signing off.

Previous Weeks Thums Up - Thums Down »
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