Planet Bollywood

Thums Up - Thums Down for the Week - 24 Jun 2008
  `Sarkar Raj` Beats `Mere Baap`, But `Aamir` is Tops!
  - Samir Dave
Selection based on Planet Bollywood critics recommendations           Let us know what you think about this

Thums Up - Recent Films Worth Watching :-)
 PB Rating: 7.0 out of 10  Public Rating (by 410 unique users): 5.11
 Director: Rajkumar Gupta  Producer: Ronnie Screwvala
 Music: Amit Trivedi  Lyrics: Amitabh Varma
 Starring: Rajeev Khandelwal
 Genre: Social  Recommended Audience: Parental Guidance
Beautiful, riveting, intense, and gritty are just a few words to describe this remarkable movie. This film shows what Bollywood is capable of when talented individuals gather together to create a unique movie-going experience. First time director Rajkumar Gupta succeeds in transforming a brilliantly written screenplay into moving images showcasing a Mumbai minus the usual glossy sheen given to it by other Bollywood films. This isn’t the Mumbai of designer clothes and shallow individuals. This is the grim and gritty reality of the mean streets of a city whose residents struggle to survive on a daily basis captured by the lens of a hand held camera. Masterful direction combines with oddly beautiful cinematography (by Alphonse Roy) showcasing the emergence of an excellent actor on the Bollywood scene, Rajeev Khandelwal. His sensitive and subtle portrayal of a young Muslim doctor who is not your typical hero is a highlight of this film which deals with terror in an altogether human way. Beautifully imaginative, this film rises above the standard level of Bollywood mediocrity to provide a thought provoking edge of your seat thriller that all fans of cinema should experience.

 Sarkar Raj
 PB Rating: 6.5 out of 10  Public Rating (by 410 unique users): 5.11
 Director: Ram Gopal Varma  Producer: Ram Gopal Varma, Praveen Nischol
 Music: Bapi-Tutul  Lyrics: Prashant Pandey, Sandeep Nath
 Starring: Amitabh Bachchan, Abhishek Bachchan, Aishwarya Rai, Govind Namdeo, Victor Banerjee, Rajesh Shringapure
 Genre:  Recommended Audience: Parental Guidance
I had the opportunity to watch Ram Gopal Varma’s "Sarkar" and his follow-up, "Sarkar Raj" back to back and I have to tell you that one movie flows into the other quite seamlessly. That’s a credit to the director, who obviously has taken great pains to make sure both movies are consistent in tone and appearance. From the sets, to the music, to the font for the opening titles, both movies tell the tale of the rise and fall of Nagre senior and Nagre junior (Amitabh and Abhishek). After RGV’s "Aag", most people had written Varma off and were announcing the end of his career. We all know, that in Bollywood, the most popular saying is, “Never say never” and that holds true for Ram Gopal Varma as he deliver’s what is probably one of his strongest films to date. Let’s get beyond the hype of this being the first film starring Amitabh, Abhishek and Aishwarya for that’s almost incidental to the film. The true strength of the movie rests solely on the director’s vision and what a vision it is. Varma experiments with moody shading and uncomfortable angles to help deliver more of a visual impact to the viewer. Amitabh Bachchan delivers a powerful performance that builds upon his performance from the first film. It’s his movie all the way. Well, his and Aishwarya’s that is. Unfortunately, Abhishek delivers a performance that falls a bit flat and pretty much delivers the same intense angry stare frame after frame until the surprise fate of his character plays out. His acting could and should have been a bit more nuanced. Aishwarya’s role is essential even though she doesn’t have much to do, as her character sets up the framework for the inevitable third sequel in this movie franchise. Where the film falters a bit is in a slightly weaker screenplay that is less taut then the first movie. Yet, that’s a very small complaint as Ram Gopal Varma proves that he is an innovative filmmaker when he doesn’t let his ego get in the way and Amitabh proves that he is still capable of delivering a powerhouse performance that will bring the house down. Watch this film and then wait with anticipated breath for the sequel that might humorously be referred to as “Chote Sarkar”.

 Mere Baap Pehle Aap
 Director: Priyadarshan  Producer: Raman Maroo
 Music: Vidyasagar, Tauseef Akhtar  Lyrics: Sameer
 Starring: Akshay Khanna, Paresh Rawal, Genelia, Shobhana, Rajpal Yadav, Naseeruddin Shah, Om Puri, Archana Puran Singh
 Genre: Comedy  Recommended Audience: General
King of Comedy director Priyadarshan returns and with him come high expectations from the audience. When we hear the name Priyadarshan attached to a movie, we immediately think that the movie will be a rib tickling hilarious affair. Add in the amazingly funny Paresh Rawal, Om Puri, and Rajpal Yadav and you have the ingredients for hilarity. Throwing in the talented under-rated actor Akshaye Khanna as icing on the cake, and you would think there’s no way for this film to go wrong! Priyadarshan knows how to please the masses that’s for sure and “Mere Baap Pehle Aap” is proof of that; however, the movie fails to completely take off into the comedic stratosphere. Once again, that is partially the fault of the screenplay as well as the director. The story premise is interesting as Paresh Rawal plays the father to son Akshaye who falls in love with promising newcomer Genelia D`Souza whose mom Shobhana turns out to be Rawal’s long lost love. Throw in the humorous hormone crazed Om Puri as Rawal’s best friend and you have the foundation for a truly funny comedy. The film delivers the laughs, is imminently likable and will leave you smiling during the first half. It’s the second half, which will make that smile fade a bit as the movie, turns from a comedy to a “dramedy” with lots of over the top desi style chest pounding drama. All in all though, the film is worth a watch and laughingly makes it to the Thums Up section mainly due to director Priyadarshan’s handling of the talented and very likable cast. Good for a few laughs and the perfect film for some lazy afternoon time-pass.

 Summer 2007
 Director: Suhail Tatari  Producer: Atul Pandey
 Music: Gourov Dasgupta  Lyrics: Ujjayinee Roy, Vobah Singh, Gourav Dasgupta
 Starring: Sikander Kher, Gul Panag, Ashutosh Rana, Sachin Khedekar, Divya Dutta
 Genre:  Recommended Audience: Parental Guidance
This was a tough one, just barely making it to Thums Up, and a stone’s throw away from Thums Down. The reason the film is worth a watch is for the really good performances by Ashutosh Rana (who returns to the silver screen after a long gap), Sikander Kher (who has shown that he has the potential to be a really emotive actor) and Gul Panag (an actress that is not your typical Bollywood glam doll, but rather a powerful performer). The movie’s title is odd given the serious subject matter that deals with the real life story of Maharasthra farmers committing suicide due to the dire exploitive economic conditions in their village. The basic gist of the story is that spoiled rich brats are “awakened” and realize there’s more to life then money. Director Suhail Tiwari does a fair job of presenting the mess of a screenplay (yes the dreaded poorly written screenplay gremlin strikes again). Unfortunately the director doesn’t know how to properly balance the lighter song ‘n’ dance ‘n’ lovey dovey elements with the more serious beats of the story. The film also suffers from the lack of a truly engaging climax. I know that there is no real life solution to this issue, but the director could have gone a little out of his way to make a satisfying “reel” life ending to this film. Worth a watch for the premise and the actor performances, but don’t look for a completely satisfying movie-going experience.

 Director: Kunal Deshmukh  Producer: Mukesh Bhatt
 Music: Pritam  Lyrics: Sayeed Quadri & Neelesh Mishra
 Starring: Emraan Hashmi, Samir Kochhar, and Sonal Chauhan
 Genre: Thriller  Recommended Audience: Parental Guidance
Mahesh and Mukesh Bhatt are known to have the uncanny ability of making low budget quality movies, with promising debutante directors as well as featuring incredibly melodious music soundtracks. The Bhatts in the guise of Vishesh Films have found their perfect niche in the Bollywood market and their formula works (except for the oddly flat recent flop, “Showbiz”). So, it’s no surprise that Mahesh Bhatt has taken two of Indian men’s most important past times (Cricket and gambling being two, with whiskey being the third. Perhaps the Bhatt’s will cover a scandalous whiskey alcoholic’s tale in a future film.) and made an intriguing movie that has become the sleeper hit of 2008. Not only is it a return to hit status for the Bhatt brothers, but it also marks the re-emergence of serial kisser Emraan Hashmi in the kind of role that he does best, that of the sleazy guy with a heart of perhaps silver, if not gold. Yes, he’s back in full kissing form and this time the object of his lip’s affection is newcomer Sonal Chauhan who has the generic model looks and a smidgen of acting talent as is the case with most new actresses entering the industry (she does an okay job with the lighter scenes, but is unable to convey the gravitas necessary for the heavy dramatic ones). Director Kunal Deshmukh is another talented find for the Bhatts, and ably handles each scene realizing the importance of building one scene on top of the other for a cohesive whole (something that a lot of the new directors coming into Bollywood seem to lack). I’ve got to say though; Emraan Hashmi truly shines in this movie, as you go from alternately hating the character, to sympathizing with him, to wondering whether he’s truly just misunderstood. The actor delivers his finest performance and carries the movie completely on his shoulders. The screenplay deftly juggles the main plotlines of cricket match fixing with gambling addiction and what it means to love someone who is involved with the dark side. Pritam’s music is a winner, but you won’t find any mega crore song picturizations, instead the music is for the most part integrated well enough that it carries the story forward and doesn’t pull the viewer out of the film. Mahesh, Mukesh and Emraan show that a quality film beats an overhyped and bloated mega project every time. Judging by the fact that the film is the biggest hit of 2008 so far, I would think that the audience agrees with me. Match fixing never looked so good, make sure you see this film and go to the dark side with Emraan Hashmi!

Thums Down - Recent Films that Disappointed :-(
 De Taali
 Director: E Niwas  Producer: Ravi Walia
 Music: Vishal Dadlani, Shekhar Ravjiani  Lyrics: Vishal Dadlani, Abbas Tyrewala
 Starring: Aftab Shivdasani, Ritesh Deshmukh, Ayesha Takia, Rimi Sen, Satish Shah, Saurabh Shukla
 Genre: Comedy  Recommended Audience: Parental Guidance
Whatever happened to the talented director E. Niwas who brought us the mind blowing classic “Shool”? He seems to have disappeared completely what with his disastrous, “My Name is Anthony Gonsalves” and now “De Taali”. This could have been one of those small budget gems that surprise the viewer with quality and memorable performances. Alas, nothing can save the audience from going totally insane by the end of this movie (break out the straitjackets)! The screenplay is a complete mess centering around a love triangle (I think) a kidnapping (for sure) and broken hearts (watch out) all around. The cast which includes the better than this Riteish Deshmukh who tries his best to inject some soul into his performance, Ayesha Thakia who seems to be the reigning queen of B movies right now, and Rimi Sen who has different variations of the same pouty face in each frame all fail to leave any kind of lasting impact. Is this a love story? A comedy? A drama? Who knows what the original intent was, but in the end we are left with a movie that will leave all the “Taali” behind. As for E. Niwas, perhaps you’d be better off directing “Shool 2” next…

Straightforward love stories seem to be a dying breed in Bollywood. You’ve got thrillers, comedies, dramedies, love triangles…etc…Yet, the sweet straight forward love story that used to be a staple of Hindi cinema is a genre that is withering on the cinematic vine. “Jab We Met” was an exception from last year that showed that this genre still has some life in it. It was only a matter of time before someone else tried to recapture the love in a bottle for the audience again. Unfortunately, those looking for their love fix will leave this film with their flaming desire doused with the water of boredom. What is the best part of the movie? It would have to be the infinitely listenable soundtrack by Adnan Sami whose melodies stay with you even if the film does not. The love story centers on a South Indian boy and a Punjabi girl. Culture clashes abound as dosas try to mix with makki ki rotis. There was a lot of potential with this film; however, once again the dreaded poorly written Bolly screenplay syndrome strikes. There are moments that shine, and that is mainly due to the very likable lead pair of Rishi Rehan and Avantikka, but one wonders if either of these newcomers will be seen in another film again. Still, the movie has a chance at becoming a cult hit, I guess, after all it stars that mysterious oddity Chankey Pandey who is the king of oddball films. If you are really in a funk, break out the Chankey, I say. How do you do that? Why break out a hit of Chankey’s films and blast your mind to oblivion. Watch this movie when you are home one evening right before the midnight hour, then go to sleep as you forget the film and daydream about true love.

 Director: Anil Devgan  Producer: Kumar Mangat
 Music: Vishal Bhardwaj, Anand Raj Anand, Raghav Sachar, Pritam  Lyrics: Sameer, Aditya Dhar, Munna Dhiman, Shabbir Ahmed
 Starring: Adhyan Suman, Nakuul Mehta, Amita Pathak
 Genre: Romantic  Recommended Audience: General
Another day in Bolly land another love triangle. Is it a lack of imagination on the part of screenplay writers, that they can not come up with anything other than trite comedies and misunderstood love triangles. Don’t get me wrong, I love a juicy love triangle as much as any viewer does, when it’s done right. Unfortunately the only good thing that I can say about this film is that the music by Vishal is really catchy. Other than that, director Anil Devgan really fails to provide the audience with a well-made movie. The horrible senseless screenplay is partly to blame, but one can’t excuse a director who apparently lacks any sense of structuring his story properly. No matter how much gloss you drip into each frame, you can’t cover up the fact that this is just a bad movie whose story meanders along until the inevitable tidy conclusion. The lead actress Amitha Pathka does not have the proper dramatic weight. The two male leads, Nakuul Mehta and Adhyayan Suman do their best, but ultimately are bogged down by a ridiculous script and the dreaded newcomer syndrome (you know, the one where they look and act like any number of various newcomers that have been pouring into Bollywood lately). Not much to recommend here, just move along to one of the movies in the Thums Up section instead.

 Don Muthu Swami
 Director: Ashim Samanta  Producer: Shakti Samanta
 Music: Anu Malik  Lyrics: Amitabh
 Starring: Mithun Chakraborty, Hrishita Bhatt, Rohit Roy, Mohit Raina, Dolly Minhas
 Genre: Comedy  Recommended Audience: Parental Guidance
Alas, to what levels has Mithun Chakraborty sunk to? The Chakraborty family seems to be in the dumps lately what with son Mimoh’s bomb of the year “Jimmy” and now this atrocious film (ripped off from the Hollywood flop, “Oscar”. Do I really need to go into the details here? Ok, maybe a little bit. The premise itself is an interesting one as Mithun plays a South Indian Don who wants to marry his daughter off to the son of another Don….but his daughter (the wasted Hrishitaa Bhatt) wants out and will do anything to get out of this proposal. For over two hours the audience has to suffer through Mithun’s heavily accented caricature of a South Indian Don. When will Bollywood writers and directors realize that comedy takes a lot of effort to properly convey on screen? It’s just as difficult to get the audience to laugh as it is to make them cry. Unfortunately this movie will make you cry for all the wrong reasons, mainly making you ask yourself, “How could I have wasted my time with this”? Mithun Da, you and your fans deserve better than this!

 Hastey Hastey
 Director: Toony  Producer: Ashutosh Bajpai & Shiv Ram Kumar (Go Cam Films Pvt. Ltd.)
 Music: Anu Malik  Lyrics: Sameer
 Starring: Jimmy Shergill, Nisha Rawal, & Rajpal Yadav
 Genre: Romantic  Recommended Audience: Parental Guidance
Here’s another ho hum attempt at another low brow romantic (ahem) comedy that completely mis-fires into being neither here nor there. King of the B-Movies that are almost invisible at the box office, Jimmy Shergill returns to a lighter form of entertainment after portraying some heavy hitting characters in better films like, “Strangers” and “Dus Kahaniyaan”. It’s a shame that this talented actor is stuck doing a movie like this. I do hope that he at least got paid an astronomically high amount for this. Do you really want to know more? Okay, you asked for it. Director Toony (no, I am not making this up) mishandles what could have been a breezy entertainer. The two actresses, Nisha Rawal and Monishka Gupta are just about okay, but you’ll be straining to remember them after you’ve seen the movie. Rajpal Yadav is excellent as always and tries to make the best of it. The story centers about the lead character falling in love with a girl (SURPRISE!), then goes off to India where another girl falls in love with him (DOUBLE SURPRISE!) and doesn’t take no for an answer. When the girl from India traps poor unsuspecting Jimmy in a dastardly plot, true love is tested to the ever so ho-hum limits. I know, let’s put together Jimmy Shergill, and Rajpal Yadav in a movie together and let them play two men who search for love and a good film, while laughing all the way to the bank! Now, that’s funny.

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’
Archives of all Thums Up - Thums Down ...

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