Planet Bollywood

Thums Up - Thums Down for the Week - 22 Sep 2008
  Head on to “Sajjanpur”where you are always welcome to “Lear” at Shreyas, then get down with the ghost in “1920” but don’t forget the “Saas Bahu Aur Sensex”!
  - Samir Dave
Selection based on Planet Bollywood critics recommendations           Let us know what you think about this

Thums Up - Recent Films Worth Watching :-)
 Director: Vikram Bhatt  Producer: Surendar Sharma, Amita Bishnoi, Bhawanti Gabrani
 Music: Adnan Sami  Lyrics: Sameer
 Starring: Rajneesh Duggal, Adah Sharma
 Genre: Thriller  Recommended Audience: General
Vikram Bhatt has been the epitome of a lazy director. He usually swipes his stories from Hollywood films, and though his movies have a lot of style, they are lacking in substance. The silver mop topped director is better known for his brief affair with actress Amisha Patel, than for his body of work (especially in recent years). This year he tries to recapture the magic of his horror hit “Raaz” and forget the disaster of last year’s “Fear” with his latest, “1920”. Supernatural films seem to be in vogue on the silver screen these days. With “Phoonk” making a tidy profit for Ram Gopal Varma, all eyes are now on “1920” to see if the horror genre can reach new heights in 2008. Luckily for beleaguered fans of this genre (good horror films in Bollywood have been quite rare), Vikram Bhatt presents a film that has a frozen in time quality to it. Any film that has a castle as a backdrop automatically gives the viewers the chills and provides a setting that is ripe for a ghost to scare the audience out of their seats. The cast comprises of newcomers Rajneesh Duggal, Adah Sharma, and Anjorie Alagh and the director succeeds in getting stellar performances out of all of them. A strong screenplay (for the most part) gives the actors a chance to shine, and the directors close attention to detail keeps the viewer in the 1920s. That period setting puts a new spin on the age-old tale of possession (something that was dealt with in last year’s more contemporary “Bhool Bulaiya”). It’s that unique setting, combined with some classy music by Adnan Sami, and a well-written screenplay that gives this movie more than a ghost of a chance at the multiplex. Take your date to see this film, it’ll give you a chance to put your arms around him/her and enjoy a few spooky thrills. Perhaps Harry Baweja will get some inspiration Bhatt and make a sci-fi horror movie set in the year 2050? Now, that’s a scary thought.

 The Last Lear
 PB Rating: 5.0 out of 10  Public Rating (by 410 unique users): 5.11
 Director: Rituparno Ghosh  Producer: Arindam Chauduri (Planman Motion Pictures)
 Music:  Lyrics:
 Starring: Amitabh Bachchan, Arjun Rampal, Shefali Shah, Preity Zinta, Divya Dutta, Jishu Sengupta, Prosenjit
 Genre: Art-Film  Recommended Audience: Parental Guidance
To be filmi or not to be…that is the question. Oh pray thee what dost thou think of Ritupurno Ghosh’s “The Last Lear”? Tis a Shakespearean tragedy to be sure, directed with a skilled hand and presented with utmost love to thee. Tis wordy beyond belief, is quite tedious to bear, yet tis pleasing to thine eyes in some strange hedonistic way. The skilled thespians Amitabh Bachchan and Shefali Shah bring the wonderment of their characters to life. Preity Zinta, how I wish thee were a bit better in thy role. Arjun Rampal is deserved of a special mention as sir king of the wooden expression enacts a breakout performance and is the star who hath stolen the show. Just as Shakespeare is not everyone’s cup of tea, perhaps for those with an open mind, it will be the type of brainy stuff that will steal thine heart. Ritupurno….Ritupurno….wherefore art thou…? Whew!

 Ru Ba Ru
Let’s be honest here, this movie has zero chance at the box office due to the lack of publicity. Plus, it stars two newcomers. Randeep Hooda is known more for hard-hitting violent films (“D”) than for being a chocolate hero lover boy and Shahana Goswami (who has given an excellent performance in the recent release, “Rock On”) doesn’t have the typical glamour look of the other popular actresses in Bollywood. Another thing going against it, is the fact that it’s directed by newcomer Arjun Bali who has yet to prove himself. If that wasn’t enough, the music also, has failed to really catch on. So, why would you spend your hard earned cash on this film? Though the film is a copy of the Hollywood flick, “If Only”, it’s directed well, has excellent performances by the lead pair, and has just the right balance of drama/romance. The viewer truly believes that Randeep and Shahana’s characters are in love, and they act beautifully together. It’s worth a watch simply for their performances. If you’re in the mood for some good old-fashioned romance, then do yourself a favor and watch this with your significant other.

 Welcome To Sajjanpur
 PB Rating: 8.0 out of 10  Public Rating (by 410 unique users): 5.11
 Director: Shyam Benegal  Producer: UTV Spotboy
 Music: Shantanu Moitra  Lyrics: Swanand Kirkire & Ashok Mishra
 Starring: Shreyas Talpade, Amrita Rao, Ravi Kishan, Ila Arun, Divya Dutta, Yashpal Sharma, Rajeshwari Sachdev, Ravi Jhankal
 Genre: Family  Recommended Audience: Parental Guidance
Ever since his first movie, “Iqbal” (which features his best performance to date) to his witty performance in “Dor” and even to the disastrously mediocre “Bombay To Bangkok” one thing is evident, and that is that Shreyas Talpade is an amazing actor capable of delivering nuanced performances. Nowhere is this more apparent than in veteran director Shyam Benegal’s (“Zubeida”) latest film, “Welcome to Sajjanpur”. The legendary director moves away from his usual hard hitting dramatic style of film making to tackle a more lighthearted comedy and what results is a very enjoyable comedy that actually doesn’t require the viewer to leave his brain at the door. This is comedy, that doesn’t fall prey to the usual inane ineptitude of the Bollywood comedy genre. Instead, what the viewer gets is a wonderful ensemble cast of actors that work together to bring the witty screenplay to life. This ensemble cast includes Amrita Rao, Yashpal Sharma, Illa Arun (who delivers a standout performance), Divya Dutta, Ravi Kissen, Rajeshwari, and Ravi Jhankal. Shreyas Talpade serves as the lynchpin that holds the entire film together as the letter writer who uses his skills to “shape” the lives of people around him. The pleasant (if not awe-inspiring) music by the talented Shantanu Moitra (“Parineeta”) is another plus as the rustic sound of the compositions adds a simple pleasure to the film. This is one of those movies that is in danger of being overshadowed by the latest mega-hyped Bollywood film featuring empty antics and bikini clad women. If you are in the mood to see something truly refreshing, take a trip to Sajjanpur…and you will be welcomed with open arms.

 Saas Bahu Aur Sensex
Not having high expectations can sometimes be a benefit for a movie. You go into the theater and as the lights dim, expect nothing much more than to be mildly entertained. Or if you are home, you pop in that DVD (official release of course) and sit back expecting not to fall asleep. How refreshing then that the oddly titled, “Saas Bahu Aur Sensex” is a little film that packs a lot of punch. Director Shona Urvashi (part of the small circle of talented female directors in the male dominated Bollywood landscape) deftly handles the multiple storylines of the ensemble cast. Of course, the best reason to watch this film is for Kirron Kher’s (wife of Anupam Kher whose latest release “A Wednesday” is a must see) excellent performance. She is absolutely a delight to watch and the silver (or television) screen lights up every time she appears. Shona Urvashi keeps the film moving on against the backdrop of the Sensex, by keeping the focus on the human element. Bollywood purists take note: This film is presented by Hollywood powerhouse studio Warner Bros. in a sign of things to come as Hollywood invades Bollywood. Drama, broken romance, unrealized dreams, and playing the stock market come together to form a cohesive screenplay. The excellent cast features, Farouque Sheikh, Tanushree Dutta, Masumeh, and Ankur Khanna. All the actors deliver fine performances, in a movie that will leave you foaming at the mouth as you anxiously wait for word on whether your stocks are rising, or falling.

Thums Down - Recent Films that Disappointed :-(
 PB Rating: 6.0 out of 10  Public Rating (by 411 unique users): 5.1
 Director: Jaideep Varma  Producer: Sunil Doshi
 Music: Indian Ocean  Lyrics:
 Starring: Rajat Kapoor, Sushant Singh, Vrajesh Hirjee, Mandeep Mazumdar, Kartika Rane, Dibyendu Bhattacharya Dinesh Thakkar Nassar Abdulla Shailesh
 Genre: Comedy  Recommended Audience: Parental Guidance
I am sure regular readers of the Thums Up ‘n’ Down section know that I love offbeat movies that can push the cinematic envelope. “Hulla” is one movie that I thought would be something refreshingly different since the theme has to do with one’s inability to sleep due to some inane simple thing. Whether it is the dripping of a leaky faucet or in this case, the blowing of a whistle, there’s nothing that annoys more during those nebulous hours of the night. Director and writer Jaideep Varma has an interesting concept and fills it up with oddball yet interesting cast of characters (of which Darshan Jariwala of “Loins of Punjab” excels); however, the film simply fails to leave a lasting impact on the viewer. If any fault could be pointed out, it’s the weak screenplay that doesn’t fully play up the novelty aspect of the story. The lead actor Sushant Singh delivers a fine performance, but he can’t carry the entire film on his able shoulders. This could have been a wonderful little dark comedy, but it simply falls flat. Watch it in the middle of the night when the leaky faucet or neighbors next door are keeping you from falling asleep. It will probably resonate more at that time.

 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!

Previous Weeks Thums Up - Thums Down »
 • `Why "Krrish" 3 wasn`t so super!`
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 • ‘Besharam’ is no ‘Dabangg’!
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 • Ranbir and Deepika ‘s chemistry burns up the screen in ‘Yeh Jaawani Hai Deewane’
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