Planet Bollywood

Thums Up - Thums Down for the Week - 27 Aug 2008
  The world goes round as Thums go Up ‘N’ Down, audiences may be under the ‘Phoonk” spell, but ‘Mumbai Meri Jaan’ forever!
  - Samir Dave
Selection based on Planet Bollywood critics recommendations           Let us know what you think about this

Thums Up - Recent Films Worth Watching :-)
 Mumbai Meri Jaan
 PB Rating: 9.0 out of 10  Public Rating (by 410 unique users): 5.11
 Director: Nishikant Kamat  Producer: Ronnie Screwala / UTV Motion Pictures
 Music:  Lyrics:
 Starring: Paresh Rawal, Kay Kay Menon, Irrfan Khan, Madhavan, Soha Ali Khan, Vijay Maurya, Sameer Dharmadhikari
 Genre: Social  Recommended Audience: Parental Guidance
Rarely amidst the steady stream of brain dead comedies, unromantic “romantic” films, and copies of Hollywood action movies, comes a film that restores my faith in Bollywood. “Mumbai Meri Jaan” is a film that immerses the viewer into the surreal reality of Hindi cinema. Centered around the aftermath following the infamous Mumbai train bombings of 07/11/2006, the movie expertly deals with the depth of human emotions by following the lives of its five lead characters. In the hands of a less capable director, the multiple storyline with a single theme narrative could have been a disaster, but Nishikant Kamat`s shows great maturity in his direction of this thought provoking film. The screenplay written by Yogesh Joshi is simply superb in the subtle way that each character is given a chance to truly come alive. The camera work also deserves special attention as it truly utilizes the medium to its fullest. Combine all of what I have previously said with a stellar cast that includes Paresh Rawal in a career defining performance (easily the best performance of the film), Irrfan Khan playing the low caste common man with aplomb, Kay Kay Menon who is detestably likable as a Hindu extremist, Madhavan as the idealistic modern man who loves his country, ,Soha Ali Khan (getting better with each movie and a true actor) as the newswoman who finds herself suddenly becoming the story, and Vijay Maurya as the partner who is a perfect foil to Paresh Rawal’s worn out given up on the world police officer. Excellent direction, screenplay, acting, and cinematography combine to give Bollywood fans one of the best films of 2008. Better than almost all films currently in release, this is one movie that you must support by going to the theater to see it. Mumbai is a city that is a melting pot of human and religious emotions. It lives, it loves, it hates, and it dies within the breath of all the people who live within it. Mumbai meri jaan…. indeed!

Reeling from the disastrous punch of “Aag” last year, RGV tried to prove that he is not just a hack, but also a talented director. The workaholic film maker who excels at pumping out low budget offbeat movies a mile a minute, sometimes inexplicably is drawn into his own hype that he can do no wrong. “Aag” changed all that and in the place of the egotistical director, we have a more humble Ram Gopal Varma who has so far this year given us the excellent “Sarkar Raj”, the so-so “Contract” and now the surprisingly good “Phoonk”. What’s amazing is that this film has found a niche audience that has given it a fair opening. But is the movie any good? Having exhausted the gangster vein, RGV goes back to his “Raat” inspired horror roots. Usually our lead handed directors are horrible at creating suspense, but RGV is one of the few who realizes that camera angles, lighting, and especially the background score all combine together to give that “scary” ambience that will make viewers jump out of their seats. There’s no need for song ‘n’ dance numbers to break the mood, or out of place comedy, instead he focuses on more natural storytelling progression where moods flow out based on the actors performances. The highlight performance is by child artiste Ahsaas Channaan and Zakir Hussain delivers another weirdly unnerving performance. This time around Ramu focuses on the double whammy of black magic and possession. Is it a perfect movie? No, there are parts of the screenplay (you know I had to bring that up) that are weak, but for the most part, you might not be scared witless, but you will be entertained. Take a chance with this film, say “Phoonk it”, I’m in the mood for something different and let Ram Gopal Varma work his black magic on you.

 Maan Gaye Mughall-E-Azam
After the amazingly good “Pyar Ke Side Effects”, I’m surprised that Bollywood producers didn’t sign up Rahul Bose and Mallika Sherawat immediately in umpteenth versions of that movie. Their chemistry together was outstanding and their comic timing impeccable. Over a year later, we finally see this on-screen couple again, this time with “Maan Gaye Mughall-E-Azam”. The music by Anu Mallik is so forgettable that the promos for the film didn’t have much of an impact. That’s a bad sign, since catchy musical tracks are the primary way films are marketed nowadays. If you’re looking for another “Pyar Ke Side Effects” than move right along, for this isn’t it. What you do wind up getting, is an at times side splitting comedy that suddenly jerks through a halt throughout the narrative. Director Sanjay Chel knows how to do comedy, but the problem is that he’s stuffed too much into the story, as it goes everywhere and nowhere all at once. Yet, the chemistry shared by the lead pair makes silver screen magic every time they appear, throw in Paresh Rawal at his best, and you have three actors that would even make the worst of movies bearable. Let’s take a look at each actor, shall we? Rahul Bose delivers another knock out performance as he excels in playing quirky characters with a slightly off-center sense of humor. Mallika Sherawat proves that she is more than just a stiletto heel wearing vixen (add this to her respectable performance in “Ugly Aur Pagli” and you have the makings of a decent actor). Paresh Rawal does what he does best. Aside from speaking Hindi Gujarati Ishtyle, he is arguably the best comedic actor in Bollywood. The three lead actors are excellent as members of an acting troupe that is out to stop a terrorist plot. Don’t expect much from this film, and you won’t be disappointed. You might not feel like a King or Queen after watching this, but at least you won’t feel like a pauper.

 Bachna Ae Haseeno
 PB Rating: 5.5 out of 10  Public Rating (by 410 unique users): 5.11
 Director: Siddarth Anand  Producer: Yash Raj Films
 Music: Vishal & Shekhar  Lyrics: Anvita Dutt Guptan
 Starring: Ranbir Kapoor, Deepika Padukone, Bipasha Bashu, and Minissha Lamba
 Genre: Romantic  Recommended Audience: Parental Guidance
Let’s put on our special rose-colored Bollywoodasize-oh-perfecto ™ glasses as we look at this beautifully filmed, sporadically well written, imperfect offering from the ailing Yash Raj camp. Director Siddarth Anand is talented, there’s no doubt about that (see "Salaam Namastey" or "Tara Rum Pum"), but even he can’t overcome the dreaded poorly written screenplay syndrome that seems to be the bane of Hindi film existence this year. That’s not to say that the film is bad, it’s not. In fact, it’s probably Yash Raj’s best offering of the year (though that’s not saying much, after the God awful “Tashan” which is mainly remembered for Kareena Kapoor’s anorexic size zero body in a bikini than for anything else and the Mary Poppins rip off “Thoda Pyar Thoda Magic” which is known for Rani’s awful skirt). Let’s get one thing out of the way first. Ranbir Kapoor is perfectly cast, and works wonders for the film. It’s his movie all the way and he exudes a charm and charisma on the silver screen that is rare to find. He fits the mold for Indian male superstars. Handsome, but not too handsome? Check! Able to dance well and go topless (yet doesn’t require a bra like Govinda)? Check! Able to overcome a badly written film and still come out on top? Check! Throws guys into fits of jealousy and women into fits of erotic yet totally prohibited behind closed doors excitement? Check! Yes dear readers, Ranbir is the next superstar (sorry Shahid, you come in a close second). Now that we get that out of the way, let’s talk about the women. Bipasha Basu is excellent in the film (looking every bit the superstar sex symbol that she is), Minissha Lamba does well in her “crying” emotional scenes (somebody please tell the costume designer that Hammer pants went out of style many moons ago and are not to be used simply to cover up a girl’s obviously curvy hips), and Deepika Padukone is just about ok (though to her credit, she has the weakest character treatment of the lot and is the one actor who truly suffers from the poorly written screenplay). The story of a man who breaks hearts left and right, then has an epiphany when rejected and goes back to apologize for his sins, has been told before, yet there’s a freshness in the way Siddarth Anand presents the material. Compared to most of the current crop of releases, this is one of the few films that will leave you with a mostly paisa vasool (though don’t expect the film to be completely worth the money). It’s a harmless film, and one that is perfectly enjoyable on a lazy summer afternoon (or to get out of the monsoon downpour).

 God Tussi Great Ho
 PB Rating: 5.5 out of 10  Public Rating (by 410 unique users): 5.11
 Director: Rumi Jaffery  Producer: Afzal Khan
 Music: Sajid-Wajid  Lyrics: Jalees Sherwani, Shabbir Ahmed, Sajid Farhad, Deven Shukla
 Starring: Amitabh Bachchan, Salman Khan, Priyanka Chopra, Manisha Koirala, Sohail Khan, Satish Kaushik, Anumpan Kher, Dilip Tahil, Sanjay Mishra, Beena Kak
 Genre: Comedy  Recommended Audience: Parental Guidance
How one wishes that “God Tussi Great Ho” was truly a great movie, but unfortunately it isn’t. Still, I found it more enjoyable than the bombastic vacuum like comedy of “Singh is Kinng”. Whereas the Akshay starrer ground to a halt whenever he wasn’t on screen, this film retains the viewer’s interest mainly due to the excellent ensemble performances by Salman Khan, Rajpal Yadav, Amitabh Bachchan who gives Morgan Freeman a run for his money and the always-enjoyable Anupam Kher. If you’ve seen the Hollywood flick, “Bruce Almighty” then you know the basic premise of this film. Man complains to God, God actually listens, Man gets God’s power for a little while and mayhem ensues! If ever there was an actor suited to this kind of role, it’s Salman Khan who gives an energetic and manic performance as the lead character. Honestly, I think that he’s just playing himself on screen, and it’s sad in a way that he is seemingly most comfortable in comedic light hearted roles than serious ones (for a real laugh, watch Salman’s “hilarious” crying scene towards the end of “Khamoshi”). Priyanka Chopra once again misfires and is just about ok in the film. Her performance showcases the exact reason why this actress has not achieved more success than she has. She really needs to work hard at polishing her acting skills. Forget the music, because I already have. The movie looks like it’s ghost directed by David Dhawan and perhaps that because it’s directed by his main writer, Rumy Jafrey. He does a capable job, but hopefully the roughness that is evident with this film will smoothen out by his next. So, why does this squeak by into the Thums Up section? Though it’s not perfect, this film is thoroughly enjoyable light entertainment that ultimately leaves a pleasant impression on the viewer. In other words, it’s harmless and not annoying in the least, a nice change from the other rather loud and obnoxiously mindless blockbuster that’s raking in the money currently (hint: initials SIK).

Thums Down - Recent Films that Disappointed :-(
 My Friend Ganesha Part II
Animation in India is still in its nascent stage, as such we get films that truly push the boundaries of Indian animation like the evergreen “Hanuman” and we get films that are trying to blatantly cash in on the emergent (mythological) animation craze with little thought given to quality. Sadly, “My Friend Ganesha Part II” falls into the latter, as it hold little of interest to either kids or the adults that are dragged in to see the film. The first part was an interesting experiment in live action/animation fusion and was slightly enjoyable. This second part however fails to better the first part in almost every respect. Yes, it’s cute to see a more modern version of our beloved Deity Ganesha playing the drums while wearing a hood or dressed in modern cool kidz clothing, but cuteness only gets you so far. Missing the pathos of the first film, this one instead goes all out to annoy the audience by being a poor clone of the first movie. The annoying maid (Upasna Singh) that was the worst part of the Part I is back in a longer role (Because no one demanded it!). The animation is bad, rushed, and unprofessional. Master Ali plays the suffering and heart-tugging child who is alienated by his constantly fighting parents. The maid is a Ganesha devotee and is there to save this poor child (and seduce the child’s father as well…don’t ask). Are we so bereft of ideas that we need to write a Bhajan based on a Christmas carol and have Ganesh on a sled ala Santa Claus? You want to like this film so badly, but the bizarre story, poor animation and listless direction make you want to read an Amar Chitra Katha Comic instead!

 Singh is Kinng
 PB Rating: 7.5 out of 10  Public Rating (by 410 unique users): 5.11
 Director: Anees Bazmee  Producer: Vipul Shah
 Music: Pritam  Lyrics: Mayur Puri
 Starring: Akshay Kumar, Katrina Kaif, Neha Dhupia, Javed Jaffrey, Kiron Kher, Ranvir Shorey, Kamal Chopra, Yashpal Sharma, Om Puri, Sonu Sood, Sudhanshu Pandey
 Genre: Comedy  Recommended Audience: General
Be aware, the age of marketing and hype is in full Bollywood swing, as this train wreck of a movie really shows. It doesn’t matter if the movie is good or not as long as the promos are slick and you have the man with the Midas touch (Akshay Kumar) as the lead actor. Regardless of what kind of bullet review I write for this film, I know that you are going to see this movie, as you should, but be warned, that you will leave the theater with a migraine instead of a warm fuzzy feeling inside. There’s no doubt about it that Akshay Kumar is very good as Happy Singh. His comic timing is impeccable and his likeability is at an all-time high. What is most painfully annoying is that he’s the only good part of this film. Director/writer Anees Bazmi has taken the Bollywood mindless comedy genre to new heights of witless stupidity. When you can count the number of funny lines/situations on one hand for a two and a half hour supposed laugh riot blockbuster of the year, you know there’s something really wrong. Katrina Kaif sure is one lucky actress. All she basically has to do is look beautiful (as glossy as the film itself), and spout dialogue in stilted Hindi. I can’t help but feel that she is capable of better, but she delivers what the screenplay requires of her (which is not much). The music by Pritam is peppy and the videos are shot well. Other than that, the film is a vacuum with supporting characters like Ranvir Shorey (in a rare poor performance), Javed Jaffrey (who is just annoying), and Om Puri (who seems like he just showed up to collect a paycheck) providing more groans than chuckles. I wanted to like this film, I really did, but it simply hurt to watch it. Thankfully Akshay partially saves the day; otherwise this would have been a more painful experience than it was. I like a mindless film as much as the next person, when it’s funny and keeps the viewer’s interest, but this film tries too hard to be a blockbuster until it almost becomes a parody of itself. Lavish sets! Beautiful women! Punjabi Pride! Bhangra dance music! Just enough laughs to keep you from walking out of the theater! If that’s your cup of tea, then by all means go for it. Watch out for the inevitable sequel. Perhaps they should call it: “Singh is Kinng 2: Happy go Lucky all the way to the bank!”

 Money Hai To Honey Hai
My oh my, how the comedy genre has fallen in 2008. It seems like the Planet Bollywood Thums Down section has been populated mostly by bad comedy flicks this year. Everyone loves a “check your mind at the door” brainless comedy every once in awhile. After all, you really don’t want to strain your brain on serious dramatic subjects all the time, do you? A nonsensical comedy can be fun, fun, fun! Let me tell you a joke, because I have a better chance of making you laugh than this entire two and a half hour waste of time film. Director Ganesh Acharya has probably realized that while David Dhawan and Priyadarshan seemingly make the brainless comedy look effortless to create, it actually requires a good amount of serious work. It seems like the first thing that most Bollywood screenplay writers do when writing a comedy script is to see how many inane misunderstandings they can use within the film. Once they’ve identified these, the entire movie is built around misunderstanding upon misunderstanding. This film is no different. Sadly, one hoped that Govinda’s follow up to his stellar “Partner” (2007) would have been equally funny, but this film doesn’t showcase the actor’s talent, but rather his weaknesses. Number one amongst those is the fact that he has a tendency to ham it up without strong direction from the director. Acharya repeats his “Swami” lead actor as Manoj Bajpayee returns to the silver screen. Surely he deserves a better film than this, as his acting is completely without impact. Add a veritable giggling gaggle of bad B movie actors like the mono syllabic Celena Jaitley, the stone faced actor who annoys more than entertains Upen Patel, the dull middle aged bimbo schtick of Archana Puran Singh,the non existent acting of Hansika, the fading fast at the multiplex Aftab Shivdasani and you have the makings of a rather big disaster. I know, I mention this a lot, but can we have a decent screenplay? Not here certainly. The entire film is pointless and it looks like Govinda will have to rely on David Dhawan to resurrect his career again. This film is neither worth the “Money” nor will it leave you with the sweet taste of “Honey”. Spare yourselves a headache and watch “Raja Babu” again if you want to see Govinda in a funny movie.

 Director: Afzal Khan  Producer: Afzal Khan
 Music: Ismail Darbar  Lyrics: Anand Bakshi
 Starring: Ajay Devgan, Sanjay Dutt, Manisha Koirala
 Genre:  Recommended Audience: Parental Guidance
Hey Bolly fans, let’s hear it for “Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam” part II! If ever there were a film that had a HDDCS hangover than its “Mehbooba”. From the color saturated hues, to the lavish sets, to Ajay Devgan, to music by Ismail Darbar (some of the songs sound like lifts from his own HDDCS album), to the queen of the nineties Manisha Koirala, to a thinner younger looking Sanjay Dutt (as a fun loving casanova) and a love triangle to thrill viewers of all ages, it’s a veritable homage to HDDCS for the most part. This one will test the patience of even the most die-hard of Bollywood fans. Let’s forget the fact that the film was canned yet sitting on the shelves for many years, it’s simply totally dated. To be fair, any film that is delayed by so many years has zero chance to connect with the audience at the multiplexes and that’s what has happened with this movie. This one has it all, from annoying relatives, to funky hairstyles, to overly dramatic chest thumping (“Hai, Hai”!) drama. Wish I could tell you about the strengths of this film, but there really aren’t any, because there’s nothing new to be seen. Save yourself the trouble, and go see "Kismat Konnection" or "Jaane Tu..Ya Jaane Na" instead, as you kiss this “Mehbooba” goodbye.

 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…

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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