Planet Bollywood

Thums Up - Thums Down for the Week - 7 Jan 2009
  Shah Rukh Khan may be king…. and Abhay Deol the dark prince, but Aamir Khan is the Emperor of Bollywood!
  - 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: 8.5 out of 10  Public Rating (by 411 unique users): 5.11
 Director: A.R. Murugadoss  Producer: Allu Arving & Madhu Varma
 Music: A.R. Rahman  Lyrics: Prasoon Joshi
 Starring: Aamir Khan, Asin, Jiah Khan
 Genre: Thriller  Recommended Audience: Parental Guidance
Are you one of those people wondering if the man with the Midas touch will ever fail? With each consecutive release, Bollywood fans wait with baited breath wondering whether this is the film wherein Aamir Khan will falter. The bad news is that sooner or later a lackluster film with the most talented actor in Bollywood will probably come out, but that’s a tale for another day. The good news is that for the time being, Aamir Khan holds on to his crown as Emperor Khan. One has to hand it to this very talented actor for he tries something different each time out. Whereas Shah Rukh Khan is always dependable in bringing us totally mainstream films, Aamir gives us mainstream with a twist. “Ghajini” is no exception to this, as it treads some dark and dangerous territory yet is still able to resonate with the masses.

Though the screenplay is well written the film’s narrative is a bit choppy and could have used some tightening up in editing. Aamir delivers a powerhouse performance as the movie rests solely on his muscle-bound shoulders. Ten months of intense physical training has given the diminutive powerhouse an even greater screen presence and makes the hardcore violence even more believable. While the violence is brutal, it doesn’t exist solely to titillate the audience, but is rather crucial to the whole love lost revenge-based screenplay. What saves the film from being a testosterone festival is the brilliant acting by Asin who plays the woman who is doomed to a tragic ending. Both Aamir and Asin share a palpable chemistry on screen that simply enchants the viewer.

The direction by A.R. Murugadoss is first class, and he showcases the acting talents of the two leads very well. The music by A.R. Rahman is visualized beautifully, and you will leave the theater with an even greater appreciation for the soundtrack. Still, everything comes down to Aamir Khan and his masterful performance. He has no need for the too obvious histrionics that other actors of his generation are prone to fall prey to. Aamir doesn’t just act with dialogue, but rather emotes from his entire body, immersing himself into the character of a man who suffers from a debilitating memory loss every few minutes, yet seeks revenge on those who have taken away his one true love. His performance will leave you breathless. So what are you waiting for? For those few who have yet to see this immensely entertaining film, don’t waste another second! “Ghajini” is one of those few Bollywood films that is worthy to be shown in theaters across the world. It’s commercial cinema, with the Aamir twist!

Sounds like Dumbo, the Disney classic doesn’t it? In reality, it’s a Thai animated film, `”Chao Praya Prah Hongsawadee” that has been dubbed into Hindi, with the added bonus of having the badshah of Bollywood Akshay Kumar involved. Smart promoting with Kumar via a music video that was strangely catchy, resulted in people being curious about what this film is all about. It’s miles ahead of “Roadside Romeo” in that the film works on many levels that will entertain children and the adults who have no choice but to watch this as well. The story is so entertaining that you’ll pardon the dated look of the computer animation, as it’s not as fluid as more recent releases in the genre. The voice casting is impeccable as Akshay Kumar, Rajpal Yadav, Dimple Kapadia and Gulshan Grover all fit their respective characters perfectly. In short, the adventures of a cute little elephant on his journey to find his cute love and become the legendary hero he is destined to be is “cho chweet” that you’ll forget the stresses of being a grown up for a while and remember what it’s like to be childishly happy with the world.

 Sorry Bhai!
 PB Rating: 8.5 out of 10  Public Rating (by 410 unique users): 5.11
 Director: Onir  Producer: Vashu Bhagnani, Onir, & Sanjay Suri (Puja Films, Anticlock Films, & Mumbai Mantr
 Music: Gaurav Dayal & Vivek Philip  Lyrics: Amitabh Varma & Nanette Natal
 Starring: Sanjay Suri, Sharman Joshi, Chitrangda Singh, Boman Irani, & Shabana Azmi
 Genre: Drama  Recommended Audience: Parental Guidance
Director Onir is back with his third film; “Sorry Bhai!” and I watched it with some trepidation. Onir is responsible for one of the best films in the last few years, “My Brother Nikhil”, which was the kind of thought provoking entertaining cinema that Bollywood rarely provides for its legion of fans. It dealt with the hard-hitting topics of AIDS, homosexuality and love in a very sensitive manner. So, it was that I expected Onir’s second film, “Bas Ek Pal” to be of equal quality and though the film had an interesting premise, it turned out to be a bit of a mess. I’m happy to say that Onir redeems himself quite well with his latest film that deals with a man falling in love with his brother’s fiancé. Sharman Joshi as the younger brother is a joy to watch in a non-comedic role, and proves that he is more than capable of delivering a nuanced performance. One of India’s most under rated actors, Sanjay Suri has proven himself time and time again and it’s strange that he doesn’t appear more often on the silver screen. His acting always leaves an impact, and once again he proves his mettle by playing the older brother who loses the heart (and body) of his betrothed. Chitrangda Singh is perfect and exudes the right amount of sultry heat required for this role, without coming off as a one-dimensional bimbo. Shabana Azmi and Boman Irani re-ignite the chemistry they displayed in “Honeymoon Travels Pvt Ltd”. As the parents of the two brothers, they are simply amazing together. I hope that there is some brave writer out there who can write a great romantic comedy featuring these two very talented actors. “Sorry Bhai!” is worth the watch if you are in the mood for something off the beaten path.

 Dil Kabbadi
What is it about Bollywood fans that we optimistically try to like even the most flawed of films? We’ll look for good performances, even though we recognize the script is poor. We’ll look for that one good song, even though we know deep down inside that the soundtrack is completely forgettable. What do these ruminations have to do with Dil Kabbadi? Well, for starters, this is a flawed film that is worth a watch. Now, that’s a contradiction of words! You see, the storyline of the film deals with the taboo subject of adultery and infidelity. The cast is a casting director’s wet dream come true as it features such stellar talents as Irrfan Khan, Konkona Sen Sharma, Soha Ali Khan and Rahul Bose. All of these actors could be reciting the dictionary and do it so effortlessly that it would be entertaining. Though the premise of the film is quite bold, director Anil Senior loses control of the film at some point resulting in an unsatisfying conclusion. The story focuses on two couples one of which is struggling to deal with some kinkiness or the lack of it, while the other married couple is bored with their relationship. Temptations bound all around (Payal Rohatgi, Rahul Khanna), and it’s interesting to see the lead pairs really get into their respective roles. Watch it for something a bit different and for the excellent performances, but forget about a satisfying conclusion for that is something (like true exciting love) that is hard to find in a Bollywood film.

 Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye!
 PB Rating: 6.5 out of 10  Public Rating (by 410 unique users): 5.11
 Director: Dibakar Banerjee  Producer: UTV Motion Pictures
 Music: Sneha Khanwalkar  Lyrics: Dibakar Banerjee, Manu Rishi, Kanu Behl, Mange Ram, & Amitosh Nagpal
 Starring: Abhay Deol, Paresh Rawal, Neetu Chandra, Archana Puran Singh
 Genre: Drama  Recommended Audience: Parental Guidance
I have to hand it to Abhay Deol, he’s certainly an actor that doesn’t believe in following his peers into mainstream Bollywood cinema. His choice in films has been interesting to say the least. Though he started off with Imtiaz Ali’s low key mainstream romance “Socha Na Tha”, he has quickly veered off into the land of quirky characters and offbeat cinema, best represented by “Manorama…”, “Ek Challis Ki Last Local”, and the upcoming Devdas take, “Dev D”. Either the actor prefers films that are a bit different, or his unconventional looks prevent him from taking on more mainstream projects. Either way, the audience is better off with him sticking to the off-beaten path. His latest, “Oye Oye Lucky Lucky”, is the second film by the director of the excellent “Khosla Ka Ghosla” Dibakar Banerjee. He’s taken concepts from “Bunty Aur Babli” and “Bluffmaster” and stripped away the veneer of polish that that those films had. What we are left with is a darker comedic take on the tale of a foolish con man that you can’t help but sympathize with. This film may not reach the heights of insanity that Banerjee’s first film did, but it comes pretty close. Abhay Deol is the star of the film, and he is absolutely hilarious as the thief who has no fear. The film is a must see for his performance! Manjot Singh who plays Abhay’s character as a child, is amazing. Paresh Rawal does what Paresh Rawal does best, that is support the lead character by delivering a comic performance (in three roles no less). Sure the film doesn’t have a dense plot that would take Einstein to figure out, but it succeeds at taking the viewer to the world of Abhay’s Lucky and what a darkly funny world that is. I look forward to Banerjee’s next film and to Abhay’s as well. If Shah Rukh Khan is the king of Bollywood, and Aamir Khan the emperor, then certainly Abhay is the dark prince who delivers a cool and memorable performance each time out.

Thums Down - Recent Films that Disappointed :-(
 PB Rating: 6.0 out of 10  Public Rating (by 410 unique users): 5.11
 Director: Subhash Ghai  Producer: Subhash Ghai
 Music: A.R.Rahman  Lyrics: Gulzar
 Starring: Salman Khan, Anil Kapoor, Katrina Kaif, Zayed Khan, Boman Irani, Aushima Sawhney
 Genre: Drama  Recommended Audience: Parental Guidance
I really wanted this film to be Ghai’s comeback. I was hoping to see the kind of film that a director who has fallen from grace with disasters like “Yaadein” and the totally wretched “Kisna”, would create to redeem himself in the eyes of not only his peers but also his loyal audience. Though he has directed, the smaller “Black & White” this year, “Yuvvraaj” is the true test to see if this once obviously talented director could rekindle his creative fire. Sadly, this film is not the comeback he was hoping for and if this is as creative as he can get, then I think it’s time for him to call “pack up” for the final time as director. I don’t even know where to begin. The screenplay is poorly written with no memorable dialogues or dramatic tension. The plot is wafer thin and fails to hold the audience’s interest leading to a climax that is totally anti-climactic. The set design and costumes are a throwback to the 80’s and shows a director whose vision is still stuck in a time warp. Ghai has unfortunately not been able to keep up with the times or re-invent himself. He’s still prone to have stereotypical villains who clownishly threaten the hero of the film. There’s the turbo charged wheelchair uncle who wants the wealth no matter what the cost and a plethora of other stereotypical Bollywood villains whose job is to mainly sneer at the camera (let’s not forget the scantily clad vamp who tries to distract the hero with her bare cleavage and the vicious aunty with the purple hair). Also, could someone please tell Subhash Ghai that he should tone down his cap/hat fetish? He seems to love to adorn his heroes with caps or hats, getting to the point of looking absolutely ridiculous. I kept being reminded of Dr. Seuss’ the “Cat in the Hat” every time I saw either Salman or Zayed with a goofy hat on their head. Mr. Ghai does a big disservice to A.R. Rahman’s beautiful music as not one of his songs is showcased in any way that is memorable. What about the actors you say? Well, Salman never succeeds in conveying the intensity of his character’s emotions. One begins to think that this actor who once could act very well in dramatic roles in past films (“Jaan-E-Mann”, “Garv”) has now lost the ability to emote without making everything into a joke. He looks tired in some scenes, and the only thing noticeable about his performance is that his hair changes in every shot (like some big hairy chameleon sitting on top of Salman’s head). What can I say about Zayed Khan? Not much, as his performance just comes off as artificial. Katrina Kaif in the miniscule role that she has is given no chance at acting, thus failing to prove (even after all these films) whether or not she can really act. All she basically has to do is look at the camera with a painfully perplexed expression. Boman Irani plays Katrina’s dad as an eccentric over the top fellow, the type of caricature that we have seen too many times from this talented actor and his performance falls flat. Mithun Chakraborty is in this too, as the lawyer whose hairstyle reminds you of Snoopy’s ears. At this point, you must be looking up at the title of this section to see if you have mistakenly jumped to the Thums Down section! The sole reason that this film is worth a watch and has made it to the Thums Up section is Anil Kapoor. His portrayal of the mentally challenged eldest brother Gyanesh is wonderful. He plays this simple yet pure hearted character so naturally, and with so much sensitivity that every time he is on the silver screen (or lcd monitor), true movie magic is created saving the film from being a total disaster. Ghai seems to have lost his touch as a director of the big budget films he used to be so adept at. Caught in a time warp in looks, set design, costume design (look at the lamb like pants for the male dancers in the song, “Shano Shano”), and storytelling ability, “Yuvvraaj” is a sad example of a director who has lost his way. Yes, I am a “bad” boy for writing this scathing review, but I know that Mr. Ghai is capable of much better, after all, once a showman always a showman.

 PB Rating: 6.5 out of 10  Public Rating (by 410 unique users): 5.11
 Director: Goldie Behl  Producer: Shrishti Arya, Sunil Lulla
 Music: Dhruv Ghanekar  Lyrics: Vaibhav Modi
 Starring: Abhishek Bachchan,Priyanka Chopra,Kay Kay Menon,Jaya Bachchan
 Genre: Action  Recommended Audience: Parental Guidance
Drona-Man, Drona-Man…. does whatever a Drona can. Swings his sword, everytime. Catches Kay Kay with this rhyme. Hey there! There goes the Drona-Man! Perhaps for a moment I thought that Goldie Behl (director of “Bas Itna Sa Khwab Hai”) would actually surprise with a genre-busting trail blazing film with mythological elements and a smattering of sci-fi, opening the doors for more films in this genre. Alas, that is not the case as this train wreck of a film completely derails the audience’s good mood. The special effects are top notch and are truly groundbreaking (though the sandstorm face scene is a complete rip off of a similar shot in the “Mummy”). Yet, like the sporadically good “Love Story 2050”, the screenplay for “Drona is its biggest weakness. The story is lacking as it feels like the director/producer poured all the money into the special effects when they should have been investing in a good screenplay. Why is it that apna Bollywood honchos don’t realized that a well-written script is the best special effect money can buy? Instead we are treated to a by the books storyline whose predictable ending is telegraphed a mile away. They say that the measure of a true hero is the villain/challenges he/she faces. Yet, the villain in this film, played by Kay Kay Menon is laughably corny. Again, Bollywood fails to realize that a villain should be powerful, perhaps even more powerful than the hero for that is what would push the main character to beat the odds. We get the usual, “Bwahahaha, I am going to conquer the world starting with India while I make cheesy jokes and parade around with my ridiculous hairstyle”! Kay Kay, do you need the money that bad? As for Abhishek, he delivers another weak performance. I do give him kudos for keeping a straight face while wearing that ridiculous Drona costume. Let’s just say, it doesn’t strike fear into the hearts of evildoers. It almost looks like Elvis Presley’s patented white costume. Priyanka Chopra as the tough broad, who can fight as well as the guys, yet has a heart that is soft and tender just doesn’t work. Another flop for this unlucky actress makes this reviewer say, “Oop Cha”! Jaya Bachchan steals the show in the few scenes she has. The music by Dhruv Ghanekar makes me feel like I am watching a T.V. commercial. Again, what could have been a powerful mythological/sci-fi/fantasy tale instead has been ground through the Bollywood cheese-o-matic machine to create a boring and ultimately waste of time film. You’d need to be a hero to have the courage to watch this film. Just pop it in the good old DVD player and skip to the chapters with the special effects, but stay away from the rest.

 Roadside Romeo
Pity poor Jugul Hansraj. The “Masoom” lad has not had much luck in the grown up world. Though he tasted success as a child actor, not even Aditya Chopra’s “Mohabattein” could give him the boost he needed in Bollywood. Luckily for him, the Chopra family are close friends, and he has been given a second chance as a director. Even luckier for him, Disney Pictures decided to partner up with Yash Raj Films to produce what can only be called India’s first big budget computer animated film. Unfortunately for him, Yash Raj has been truly hurting this year, with flop after flop indicating that the production house is severely out of touch with what the audience truly wants to see. Into this climate comes, “Roadside Romeo” and honestly, it’s not that bad, but the problem is, it’s not that good either. Now you might say that’s a contradiction, but let’s look at the bad first. When thinking of a loveable ruffian of a dog, the first thing you might think about is Saif Ali Khan, but though that may look good on paper, the fact of the matter is that his voice doesn’t really fit the lead character in the film. Voice acting is different and more difficult at times then live acting, and Saif’s vocals fall a bit flat. You never quite disconnect that this is Saif Ali Khan’s voice, and it pulls the viewer out of the film. I understand the need for a big marquee name, but in the future it would probably be better to cast an actor whose voice would be a better fit. In this case, perhaps Salman Khan’s voice would have provided the necessary playfulness. The same holds for Kareena Kapoor’s voice, as the poodle who get’s Romeo’s caboodle into gear. For lack of a better word, there’s just no vocal chemistry between the two. Also, the animation for some reason is not too fluid, as character movements come across a bit stiff at times, particularly during the dance scenes. Third, the music by Salim-Sulaiman is pretty mediocre, and quickly forgettable. Fourth, the screenplay isn’t witty enough to appeal to adults, and isn’t cute enough to appeal to the kids. The best children’s movies are the ones that are smart enough to appeal to both adults and youngsters. It’s very hard to toe that line, but Disney has done it with their and Pixar’s releases. So what’s the good you ask? Well, that would have to be the excellent Jaaved Jaaferi as the don of all dogs, Charlie Anna. This talented actor is the only one who seems to understand what it means to act vocally, and modulate his voice to match his animated character. The result is a melding of his vocals to the animated dog on screen, immersing the viewer in the character and laughing along with him. I was hoping that this film would knock one out of the park, but at the most it’s barely fun enough to kill a couple of hours. Sadly, this romeo has fallen by the roadside!

 Director: Atul Agnihotri  Producer: Percept Picture Company
 Music: Sajid Wajid  Lyrics: Jalees Sherwani
 Starring: Salman Khan, Sharman Joshi,Sohail Khan,Katrina Kaif,Isha Koppikar,Amrita Arora,Gul Panag
 Genre: Drama  Recommended Audience: Parental Guidance
Just say Goodbye, to Atul Agnihotri’s second film “Hello”. Though his first film, “Dil Ne Jise Apna Kaha” was enjoyable in parts, it was obvious that there was room for improvement in Agnihotri’s direction style. This time around, he’s roped in author Chetan Bhagat and attempted to adapt the writer’s best selling novel, “One Night @ the Call Centre” (his recent “3 Mistakes of My Life” also looks very promising). The main problem with “Hello” is the screenplay (written by Bhagat and Agnihotri). What could have been an excellent adaptation of a well-written novel instead is turned into a boring movie that never quite gels enough to leave an impact on the audience. Multiple storylines are always tricky to handle in an ensemble film. Anurag Basu did an excellent job at this with the wonderful, “Life in a Metro” last year, but for every good multiple character driven film, we get a dozen that just fail due to the screenplay and direction. “Hello”, unfortunately suffers from not only a poorly written screenplay, but also lackluster direction. Don’t have any high hopes that Salman or Katrina have substantial roles in the film. They don’t. Salman looks like he’s got a killer hangover from having too many whiskey shots, and Katrina Kaif plays an otherworldly character in an obvious promotional ploy (Salman is the director’s brother in law and…Katrina is for lack of a better description, the girlfriend in law) to bring audiences to the theater. Pity the actors who have really put their all into the film, specifically Gul Panag, Sharman Joshi, and Sohail Khan (yes, believe it or not the youngest Khan brother acts quite well). Isha Koppikar, Amrita Arora, Arbaaz Khan, and Sharat Saxena, all of who are just about ok, round off the cast. Perhaps, in the hands of a more capable director, the film could have turned out to be a crowd pleaser. The topic is definitely current and there’s an extreme curiosity about call centre culture. It’s too bad the director dropped the ball. Don’t say “Hello”, just say “GOODBYE”!

 PB Rating: 4.0 out of 10  Public Rating (by 410 unique users): 5.11
 Director: Sanjay Gadhvi  Producer: Shree Ashtavinayak Cine Vision Pvt. Ltd.
 Music: Pritam, Sanjay and Sandeep Vyas  Lyrics: Mayur Puri
 Starring: Imran Khan, Sanjay Dutt, Minissha Lamba, Vidya Malvade, Rahul Dev, Malaika Arora, Amrita Arora, Reema Lagoo, Raj Zutshi
 Genre: Thriller  Recommended Audience: Parental Guidance
I wish that I was kidnapped while watching this film, at least that would have broken me out of the dazed glaze of boredom that I felt throughout this tedious exercise in Bollywood excess. First off, the king of empty style over substance, director Sanjay Gadhvi shows that he is unable to deliver the goods outside of the Yash Raj camp. There’s certainly a lot of style ‘n’ sass in this film (as evidenced by the clever storyboard drawings at the beginning of the film), but the screenplay by Shibani Bathija is not well written enough to keep the audience’s interest. A movie like this should have non-stop thrills and a feeling of rollercoaster like movement to what should be a climax that leaves the audience breathless. Instead we get a film that has a few excellent sequences but is for the most part vacuous. Can someone tell me who in their right mind thought that casting Vidya Malvade (who was just seen as a young woman in last year’s Chak De India) as the mother of an eighteen year old would be believable? In that same vein, in whose eyes does the mature faced Minissha Lamba look like a vivacious teen? These two are woefully miscast and though Bollywood films always require a certain suspension of disbelief, it is hard to believe these two in their respective roles. Sanjay Gadhvi tries his best though; as he basically strips Lamba down to get the juices flowing for all the frontbenchers as she traipses through the film showing her sinfully toned body (here`s another starlet that has joined the bikini brigade). He’s done it successfully before with the “Dhoom” films (specially with the sexing up of Aishwarya Rai), but it’s getting to be a gimmick that fails to cover up that the character is not well written. The saving grace of the film is Imran Khan, who in his sophomore effort (after the excellent “Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na”) shows that he is a talent to watch out for. The film is worth viewing just for his performance. As to Sanju Baba, he basically coasts his way throughout the film, as if he’s dialed in his performance via long distance. Let’s make a special mention of Pritam’s music; then again, the less said about it the better (other than the excellent “Mit Jaaye” by the brothers Vyas). It’s a shame that this film will be gone and forgotten soon, for it had the potential to be a really good action thriller. Instead we get a film from a director who really needs to reinvent himself. Perhaps Gadhvi will try again to “Kidnap” audiences with “Dhoom 3” next time.

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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