Planet Bollywood

Thums Up - Thums Down for the Week - 9 Sep 2008
  Farhan Akhtar hits all the right beats…so put your hands up in the air and ROCK ON!!
  - Samir Dave
Selection based on Planet Bollywood critics recommendations           Let us know what you think about this

Thums Up - Recent Films Worth Watching :-)
 Rock On
 PB Rating: 8.5 out of 10  Public Rating (by 410 unique users): 5.11
 Director: Abhishek Kapoor  Producer: Farhan Akhtar, Ritesh Sidhwani (Excel Films)
 Music: Shankar Ehsaan and Loy  Lyrics: Javed Akhtar
 Starring: Farhan Akhtar, Prachi Desai, Arjun Rampal, Purab Kohli, Luke Kenny, Shahana Goswami,Koel Puri
 Genre: Social  Recommended Audience: Parental Guidance
ROCK ON! Grab your air guitar and live your dreams of being a rock star; however you should know that all dreams do not come true in the way you originally envisioned them. “Rock On!!” is a clever little film by director Abhishek Kapoor (who directed the quickly forgotten Sohail Khan boxing vehicle “Aryan”) and producer/actor/singer (and probably more) Farhan Akhtar, present us with a film that has several layers to it. On the surface it’s a wry commentary on the emerging rock scene in India, and the struggling failures of a group to get their big break in the “limited” in scope Indian music industry. Look deeper; however, and you get an interesting critique on what it truly means to go from a carefree young adult who dares to do whatever it takes to make the big dream come true, to having that dream shattered and realizing that adulthood often includes the pain of losing the best parts of yourself (and your closest friends) as you settle into the mundane reality of day to day life. For most of us, some of our dreams are lost forever as we lose that innocence we used to have. Yet, sometimes in life something happens that lets us reconnect and bring back that lost spark and regain that lost part of ourselves. If all of this sounds too deep, it’s because the film works on so many levels. It’s brilliantly entertaining with a screenplay that gives each and every character time to make an impact on the audience. There are no throwaway characters here. While every reviewer out there is praising Farhan Akhtar’s acting/singing performance (and he deserves that praise), I’d like to break from the pack and mention Arjun Rampal’s excellent subdued performance as the person most haunted by the realization that his musical dreams did not come true. It’s a far better performance than the cartoon oafish villain he played in “Om Shanti Om”, and this time, the actor’s often commented on “wooden expression” works to his advantage. The music by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy is perfect and totally brings the house down. It’s perfect anthem arena rock music that has been seamlessly woven into the film. No scantily clad half naked women, or picture perfect foreign locations here, the director wisely keeps everything dark and gritty, keeping that sensual grimy feeling that makes the rock scene so appealing. Now, let’s get to Farhan Akhtar, who makes a stellar debut and carries the film on his shoulders. His singing isn’t perfect, but his strengths far outweigh the weakness in vocal quality. The music directors have wisely composed tunes that play to those strengths and cover up his weaknesses. His performance as the lead singer, whose dream is shattered not only by the music industry, but also by the unforeseen ego clash between his and Arjun Rampal’s character, is riveting to say the least. I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets some best acting awards this year. The other two band mates provide the comedy (Purab Kohli) and the drama (Luke Kenny) that carry the screenplay forward. Of course, a Farhan Akhtar film can not go by without mentioning the hair styles as each character (except Arjun Rampal’s character who doesn’t change much) goes from a crazy rock star look with longer hair and such to a more subdued shorter hair look when they are a decade older. This attention to detail really adds to the depth of the story, making the viewer believe that time has passed. Actress Prachi Desai also gives a sweet dramatic performance (without going overboard) as Arjun’s (Farhan Akhtar) wife who desperately tries to reconnect the dream that her husband has lost and to jumpstart her marriage. Shahana Goswami is very effective as the long suffering wife of Joe (Arjun Rampal). I’ve read it over and over again that this is Dil Chahta Hai 2. To be honest, it really isn’t. Dil Chahta Hai was and is a milestone in Hindi cinema as it brought India’s youth culture (finally) to film. That movie, was still quite commercial in its dealings with friendship and love. “Rock On!!” Is something different, as it raises the bar and takes Hindi cinema into the next level, bringing a realistic view of the youth culture, while never coming off as preachy. In “Rock On!!” the world is not glitzy and glamorous. People succeed, but more often than not fail in other ways. Creativity, fame and talent do not go hand in hand. Love, is often times painful, as it’s spaced between moments of happiness. Yet, the music of our lives plays forever. One of the best films this year. It’s totally rocking!

 Director: Kunal Shivdasani  Producer: Dinesh Vijan
 Music: Justin-Uday  Lyrics: Kumaar
 Starring: Shiney Ahuja, Kaveri Jha, K. K. Raina, Esha Deol, Mona Ambegaonkar
 Genre: Thriller  Recommended Audience: Parental Guidance
2008 seems to be the year where bad comedies and movies about terrorism are a dime a dozen. Some were good, and some were bad, so when I heard about the umpteenth movie about terrorism, I cringed a bit. Luckily director Kunal Shivdasani’s (another debutante director in a year that seems to be crowded with them) “Hijack” is good timepass. It’s obvious that the screenplay has been inspired by Hollywood’s “Die Hard” movies. Long story short, the daughter of the lead character happens to be caught on a plane that is hijacked by terrorists who demand the release of a member of their group who has recently been imprisoned by the police. It’s a high tension situation and calls for the rise of an unlikely hero played by Shiney Ahuja. To me, Shiney’s career graph has been a bit spotty, what with him delivering a powerful performance as in “Gangster” to his subpar acting in “Bhool Bhulaiya”. I think this is one actor that could benefit from a proper star vehicle. This film might not be it;however, since it has quite a few flaws. For one, the songs are totally mis-placed, breaking any tense mood that various scenes have created, not to mention the tunes are really mediocre. Second, the screenplay could have been tightened up. What should have been a non-stop roller coaster ride, instead becomes more of a wait between the excitement uneven one. Shiney’s performance is really good for the most part, and he excels in the action department. The queen of B movies, Esha Deol plays the spunky stewardess who helps Shiney thwart the evil terrorists; but her performance is typically underwhelming. The second half of the film is really when it really becomes a gripping action film, and makes this at times entertaining movie worth a watch. Catch it if you are in the mood for a light action film, it might very well “Hijack” you for a couple of hours, but don’t worry, you’ll then be released to go back to your loved ones.

 A Wednesday
 PB Rating: 9.0 out of 10  Public Rating (by 410 unique users): 5.11
 Director: Neeraj Pandey  Producer: Arjun Rizvi Film Company, UTV Motion Pictures, & A Friday Filmworks
 Music: Sanjoy Chowdhary  Lyrics: Irshad Kamil
 Starring: Naseeruddhin Shah, Anupam Kher, Jimmy Shergill, Aamir Bashir, Deepal Shaw, Gaurav Kapoor, Chetan Pandit
 Genre: Thriller  Recommended Audience: Parental Guidance
Another day, another film about (you guessed it), terrorism. Unfortunately, terrorism is a fact of life in modern day India (and countries throughout the world), as citizens live in fear of the next bombing or threat of an attack. It is a sad matter of fact, that even the most unlikely of persons can get wrapped up in the machinations of terrorism caused by religious dischord. “A Wednesday” is a different kind of terrorist movie, cut from the same cloth as the incredibly riveting “Aamir” wherein real world problems are dealt with in a realistic way. The director, Neeraj Pandey wisely leaves out the song ‘n’ dance to focus on delivering a lean ninety minute pulse pounding film that leaves a considerable impact on the viewer. There are two major contributing factors as to why this film is so good. Those are the two excellent performances delivered by veteran actors Naseeruddin Shah and Anupam Kher. Naseeruddin Shah in particular stands out as the unassuming man who literally explodes onto the scene as the terrorist who demands to be heard. Anupam Kher portrays the perfect counterpoint as the embattled (now retired) police commissioner who has to defuse a potentially deadly situation. Back up is provided by the under rated Jimmy Shergill and Aamir Bashir. This is one of those films that will not require you to check your mind at the door. Another film that along with ‘Rock On!!”, “Aamir”, “Mumbai Meri Jaan” and “Jaane Tu, Ya Jaane Na” (among others), is one the best of 2008. A must see for any fan of quality cinema.

Every once in awhile a sensitive film comes out centering on an unorthodox love story between a boy and his donkey. What!!?!? If that doesn’t grab your attention then I don’t know what will! “Tahaan” is avant-garde director Santosh Sivan’s latest, and the director of such fare as “Asoka” delivers a quirky yet entertaining film that deals with the corruption of innocence. Children are wonderfully optimistic, and view the world with rose-colored glasses, but they are also fiercely devoted to the ones they love (human or animal). These are things we lose as we grow into adulthood and the harsh face of reality looks our way. At the heart of “Tahaan” is child actor Purav Bhandara who steals every frame he is in. He’s an amazing actor, and director Sivan has brought forth an amazing performance from the diminutive star. Let’s not forget Birbul the donkey who provides the necessary “hee haw” elements of the film! The rest of the cast is a veritable who’s who of excellent character actors like Victor Banerjee, Sarika, Rahul Khanna, Anupam Kher, and Rahul Bose. Each actor is a pleasure to watch as the child goes on his quest to get back his best friend (who happens to be a donkey) Birbul. Along the way, he innocently becomes the pawn of would be terrorists. I won’t say anymore other than to recommend this movie for those looking for something off the beaten path. The innocence of the child and how he fends off the intrusion of the harshness of reality is an interesting journey for the character and the viewer of the film. Bravo to Santosh Sivan for having the courage to make a movie such as this.

 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!

Thums Down - Recent Films that Disappointed :-(
 Director: Kabeer Kaushik  Producer: Vijayta Films
 Music: Monty Sharma  Lyrics: Sameer
 Starring: Bobby Deol, Priyanka Chopra, Arshad Warsi, Ritesh Deshmukh, Irrfan Khan, Danny Denzongpa, Rajpal Yadav, & Arya Babbar
 Genre:  Recommended Audience: Parental Guidance
It’s a pity really that this film will probably not help Bobby Deol’s career in any way. Especially more so considering that this is probably his finest performance to date. For an actor that is not known for his thespian skills, that is high praise indeed. Should we pity Priyanka Chopra more? She’s given her third flop of the year, and this once promising actress is now more known for her recent item number in the upcoming “Drona” than for her acting prowess. Should we pity Dharmendra’s production house, that decided that a Naxalite turned romantic hero film titled, “Chamku” would in any way succeed at the box office? How about some pity for music director Monty Sharma, who was not able to capitalize on his previous hit soundtrack “Saawariya” with the quickly disappearing from public consciousness soundtrack for this film? I think the majority of the pity should be reserved for those viewers brave enough to seek out this film and watch it. The screenplay had potential, but the way that it is visualized/realized by director Kabeer Kaushik fails to leave the kind of impact this type of movie should have. Irrfan Khan, Riteish Deshmukh, Rajpal Yadav and Danny Denzongpa (who are all very talented actors), are all wasted. This film will probably be one that you catch on cable sometime in the near future, do watch it, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.

 Director: Mani Shankar  Producer: Sudhish Rambhotla
 Music: Karthik Raja, Shashi Pritam (Pritam & Sandeep Chowta as guest composers)  Lyrics: P.K. Mishra and Iqbal Patni
 Starring: Sameer Dattani, Sunil Shetty, Om Puri, Rahul Dev, Raima Sen, Sushant Singh, Jackie Shroff (Special Appearance)
 Genre: Thriller  Recommended Audience: General
Here we go again…. more terrorism…and a similarity to “Chamku” that cannot be denied. What’s happened to the once promising director Mani Shankar? His “16th December” was flawed but thoroughly entertaining, and the same could be said for “Tango Charlie”, but “Mukhbir” is his weakest offering so far. There’s not much to say about this film that deals with Naxalites and undercover ops. It’s tedious to watch with a terrible screenplay. Sunil Shetty (whose career is in a coma till the next “Hera Pheri” movie), Rahul Dev (as the heavy handed villain), Om Puri (who seems to be grabbing whatever role comes his way), Raima Sen (always confuse her with her sister, Rimi Sen), and lead Sammir Dattani (truly miscast) all fail to impress in any way. This isn’t even one of those late night cable flicks. Whatever you do, avoid this film at all costs. I’m still nursing the headache I got after viewing it.

This should have been titled “F” Kompany, as it fails to impress, fails to garner any laughs, and fails to entertain in any way shape or form. Ekta Kapoor gives us a flop film that stars her brother Tusshar Kapoor (another actor whose career is going nowhere). Anupam Kher, Rajpal Yadav, and Mithun Chakraborty are all sleep walking through the film. Celena Jaitley jiggles her way through another item number. Marginal talents have produced a mediocre film that should not have seen the light of day. From the annoying music, to the stilted dialogue delivery and heavy-handed attempts at generating laughter, the film is a total disaster. It’s hands down, one of the worst comedy movies of 2008, ‘nuff said.

 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!”

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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