Planet Bollywood

Thums Up - Thums Down for the Week - 23 Feb 2009
  "Billu" gives audiences a bad haircut as we remember Farhan Akhtar`s beautifully directed "Positive"
  - Samir Dave
Selection based on Planet Bollywood critics recommendations           Let us know what you think about this

Despite all the hype, Shah Rukh Khan`s "Billu Barber" fails to entertain, yet with no hype at all Farhan Akhtar`s thought provoking "Positive" shows audiences what entertaining cinema is all about.

Thums Up - Recent Films Worth Watching :-)
I can totally understand if you (like many of us) are totally into the whole Farhan Akhtar is an actor scene. With his excellent performances in “Rock On” last year and “Luck By Chance” this year, he’s proven to be one of the most versatile of artists that Bollywood has to offer. Yet, let’s not forget that first and foremost he is a very talented director, responsible for the classic “Dil Chahta Hai” and though he may not have been able to scale the heights of his first film, each film that he has directed after that has been technically very well done. So, let’s take a moment and look at this perhaps lost and overlooked gem of a short film that Farhan directed in 2007 titled, “Positive”. As the title indicates, the film deals with the controversial topic of AIDS, the positive in the title specifically referring to the disease itself.

This excellent short film never preaches to the audience and packs more emotional punch than most three-hour Bollywood films. Sure, the direction is marvelous, and Farhan excels at making each character shine, but the reason that he is able to pack so much of an emotional punch to the film is because of the very well written screenplay by Rajesh Devraj.

The storyline focusing on the brittle relationship between a cheating husband, his emotionally tortured wife and the volatile relationship that both have with their son is incredibly moving. What would you do if you see your photographer father always cheating on your mother with the models in his studio? Would you tell your mother? If so, how would you handle their fights? What would your relationship with your father be like and what if you were called back from abroad to deal with your father contracting AIDS from one of the numerous women he’s had affairs with?

All of these questions have no easy answers, yet this short film combines three very important aspects of filmmaking. First, an excellently written screenplay is a must. Second, the director should know how to frame a scene and elicit the best performances from his cast. Third, the cast should be up to the challenge. That third part is strikingly clear, as Boman Irani delivers a powerhouse performance as the father whose cheating leads to his ultimate downfall. Opposite him, is the very talented Shabana Azmi, whose portrayal of the suffering wife has many layers to it. Both of these actors are a delight to watch on screen. Rounding out this troika is Arjun Mathur who plays the beleaguered son dealing with his dad and mom. Throw in the beautiful cinematography by Hemant Chaturvedi and the haunting music score by Ram Sampath, and you have a short film that is so good, it feels like a full-length feature. Beautiful and emotionally stirring, “Positive” is a short film that deserves to be seen.

 Luck By Chance
 PB Rating: 7.0 out of 10  Public Rating (by 410 unique users): 5.11
 Director: Zoya Akhtar  Producer: Farhan Akhtar, Ritesh Sidhwani
 Music: Shankar, Ehsaan & Loy  Lyrics: Javed Akhtar
 Starring: Farhan Akhtar, Konkona Sen Sharma, Rishi Kapoor, Dimple Kapadia, Juhi Chawla, Sanjay Kapoor, Isha Sharwani, Hrithik Roshan, Saurabh Shukla, Aly Khan
 Genre: Drama  Recommended Audience: Parental Guidance
This one almost made it to the Thums Down section. Unfortunately the first half is ultimately tedious, fails to hold the audience’s attention, and is guilty of the worst crime in being boring. Zoya Akhtar (sister of lead actor Farhan) certainly is a talented scriptwriter, but as a director, she should have kept a better pace during the first half of the film (though she shows a lot of promise in the handling of the latter half).

Focusing on the trials and tribulations of the Indian film scene, the movie is an at times fascinating look at the face of Bollywood without the glamorous make up applied by the camera.Farhan Akhtar shows that he is able to carry off these down to earth realistic characters very well, and is immensely likable every time he is in front of the camera. He shares a decent chemistry with Konkona Sen Sharma who does what she does best; act sincerely, as the wannabe starlet who is looking for her first big break. The clever use of actors in cameos grounds the film in Bollywood reality (unreality). Rishi Kapoor is creepy with that semi permed hair and choice of premium safari suits (sort of like a desi version of Penthouse founder Bob Guccione). Juhi Chawla vamps it up as his wife, playing the stereotypical producer’s wife to the hilt. Dimple Kapadia is a natural as the dominating mother who will stop at nothing to see her daughter succeed. Isha Sharwani does what she does best; hang from the ceiling as she performs torso twisting acrobatics. Certainly, the screen sizzles whenever Hrithik Roshan (as the established superstar who accidentally gives way to Farhan) is focused on, but what does it say about the film, when the most memorable aspects of it are the celebrity cameos?

Still, the second half of the film is much better than the first, as Farhan finally gets to take center stage, but by then, it’s a bit late in the game and the audience has already decided on whether the film is a blockbuster, semi hit or flop (at least in their minds). Shankar, Ehsaan and Loy’s music wavers from brilliant songs, to mundane melodies, a mixed bag for sure. It’s admirable that Farhan’s production company is tackling movies of a different caliber than the average garden variety Bollywood flick, I just wish “Luck by Chance” had a better first half, as it stands, it’s only half the film it could have been. Thums Up for the excellent acting, wonderful second half, and the music. Thums Down for a tedious first half that almost drags the movie to the Thums Down section.

 Raaz - The Mystery Continues
 PB Rating: 6.0 out of 10  Public Rating (by 410 unique users): 5.11
 Director: Mohit Suri  Producer: Mukesh Bhatt
 Music: Raju Singh  Lyrics: Saeed Quadri
 Starring: Emraan Hashmi, Kangana Renaut, Adhyayan Suman
 Genre: Thriller  Recommended Audience: Parental Guidance
The brothers Grimm, er I mean, the brothers Bhatt continue their winning streak with their good luck charm, serial kisser Emraan Hashmi in “Raaz 2” the sorta but not really sequel in name only. This one has nothing to do with the Vikram Bhatt directed 2002 original starring Bipasha Basu and Dino Morea. Talk about cashing in on a name! This attempt to suck the blood out of a hit franchise could have been worse, but it also could have been better.

It’s through the talents of director Mohit Suri, Emraan Hashmi and Kangna Ranaut (she of the shrilly one tone high pitched voice that can shatter ear drums, that the film is raised above the mundane. This unlikely triumvirate combined with the Bhatt’s methodology of low budget decent quality films, raises the movie to higher level. Emraan as the painter who can paint the future (a generous swipe from the popular T.V. drama “Heroes”), delivers the best performance of the film. He is the anti-hero and is best when portrayed as such. Kangna Ranaut has changed her look for this film and is frightfully decent as the woman who is stalked by the spirits of vengeance (or something like that).

Look, let’s face it, with films like this, we aren’t expecting thespian acting at the Shakespearean level. What we are looking for is to be scared by the bhoots, or perhaps the Bhatts! This film delivers on that promise, and entertains thoroughly. The music is above average, and worth seeing visualized on the silver screen. Got to hand it to the Bhatt brothers, they sure do know how to cater to their core fans. Though this film doesn’t hold a Bhoot’s candle to the original, it is nevertheless a fun romp in the dark.

 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!

 Slumdog Millionaire
 PB Rating: 10.0 out of 10  Public Rating (by 411 unique users): 5.12
 Director: Danny Boyle  Producer: Christian Colson / Fox Searchlight Pictures
 Music: A.R. Rahman  Lyrics: Raquib Alam, Gulzar, Blaaze, Wendy Parr, M.I.A., A.R. Rahman, & Tanvi Shah
 Starring: Dev Patel, Anil Kapoor, Saurabh Shukla, Rajendranath Zutshi, Freida Pinto, Jeneva Talwar, Irfan Khan
 Genre: Drama  Recommended Audience: Parental Guidance
I had to give off a chuckle when one Western media reviewer said that the actor portraying the game show host looks like Omar Sharif (the Arabic actor). The actor in question is of course Anil Kapoor, and though I fail to see the resemblance (perhaps the moustache and hair), the film doesn’t belong to apna hero Anil, but rather rests brilliantly on the thin shoulders of the young man who plays Jamal, the “slumdog” in the film, Dev Patel. The British actor totally immerses himself in the role of the poor boy who goes on a game show and wins, only to be thrown into the shadows of doubt and suspicion by those thinking that he has cheated.

Director Danny Boyle (“Trainspotting”, “28 Days Later”) has given a kinetic style and structure to the film as it flashes from the present to the past and back to tell a story that is as much a tale of human perseverance as it is of love and the vibrant city of Mumbai. Based on the novel “Q&A” by Vikas Swarup, the clever screenplay (adapted by Simon Beaufoy) retains the frantic pace of the book and the blissful innocence of destined young love.

The attention to detail in the film is amazing and that’s not only thanks to Danny Boyle, but also to his Indian co-director Loveleen Tandan (assistant director for “Monsoon Wedding”). She really brings forth the essence of Mumbai, while Boyle makes sure the gritty undercurrent of danger is retained within each frame of the film.

Frieda Pinto plays the love interest for Dev Patel’s character. Originally from Mumbai, the actress brings a beauty to the ugly surroundings of various scenes throughout the film. Irrfan Khan once again proves to be a true crossover artist. While other “major” actors claim to be courted by Hollywood, Irrfan has quietly made the transition and brings his talented acting to a Western audience. His role as the inspector, who investigates Jamal’s surprising and seemingly suspicious win, is picture perfect.

A.R. Rahman shines with the soundtrack, breaking the bonds of Bollywood restraint to add an amazing musical soundscape to the visuals of the film (M.I.A. fans take note, her collaboration with Rahman results in an amazingly innovative track that will leave you breathless).

The tale of the two lost loves; coming together via Jamal’s appearance on “Kaun Banega Crorepati?” ("Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" is what holds the movie together. I don’t want to say more as that would dampen the thrill of seeing this movie, but you’ll be on the edge of your seat and then feel an incredible joy as you see the brilliant ode to Bollywood “dancing” during the final credits.

Recently there have been prominent Bollywood actors and critics who have expressed that they feel that Slumdog Millionaire glorifies poverty. That is far from the truth and I find it disturbing that apna actors/critics would say that. Unfortunately, poverty exists in India, and the poverty in the film is shown realistically, not beautified in any way. It`s shown in such a way, as to make you appreciate the struggles of the lead character Jamal (Dev Patel). In fact, the film is a testament to the Indian spirit and exemplifies why we are often times a people that rise up to any of the challenges that life throws our way.

Run, don’t walk to see this film that will reinvigorate not only your heart, but also is one of the finest films of the year. In a time when the brutal terrorist attack of 11/26/08 is still bearing down on everyone’s thoughts and souls, this movie is a nice ode to the human spirit and how we should never give up and let anyone knock us down. Hope is eternal, and so is the Indian spirit!

Thums Down - Recent Films that Disappointed :-(
 Billu Barber
 PB Rating: 3.0 out of 10  Public Rating (by 410 unique users): 5.11
 Director: Priyadarshan  Producer: Gauri Khan
 Music: Pritam  Lyrics: Gulzar, Neeraj Shridhar, Sayeed Quadri, Aashish Pandit, Mayur Puri
 Starring: Shahrukh Khan, Irrfan Khan, Lara Dutta, Kareena Kapoor, Priyanka Chopra, Deepika Padukone, Asrani, Om Puri, Rajpal Yadav
 Genre: Comedy  Recommended Audience: Parental Guidance
If you bought into the pre-release hype of “Billu” (formerly known as “Billu Barber, but changed by Shah Rukh Khan due to complaints of the use of the word barber to describe…barbers (aka hair stylists). The interviews all proclaimed that this was a pure family entertainer, the promos conveyed that it would be a virtual laugh riot, and the music is bombastically danceable indicating that the female actresses would be for the most part, scantily clad. So, you had the family crowd, the comedy crowd, and the rather excitable crowd all looking forward to this movie. Well, faithful PB readers, I, your guide and seer into the inner workings of Bollywood films am here to tell it like it is. “Billu” is neither here nor there, but rather is like a bad haircut. Let me explain. Picture this: You are strapped into your chair by Priyadarshan, who shall be the director for your barber Irfan Khan. Irfan Khan is told how to cut your hair every step of the way but shows no interest in cutting your hair. Shah Rukh Khan dances around the chair distracting you every once in a while with scantily clad women, Rajpal Yadav cackles every other moment, and Asrani screams at the top of his lungs. Take all of that and you get the gist of how you shall feel after watching “Billu”.

Let’s start with the direction. Priyadarshan is an immensely talented director who for some reason seems to be a bit stuck in a one-note rut. The kinetic direction that his trademark (characterized by characters running or speeding into a scene for no reason other than to convey excitement) is very much intact. The straightforward, crowd-pleasing direction is quite evident, but there’s a sense of quiet discord within each frame. Priyadarshan seems to be trying his best to hammer the absolutely absurd screenplay into some kind of entertaining film, but the story completely fails him. It’s like a ten-minute hair cut spread out over two and a half hours. What should have been fun instead falls flat.

Irfan Khan as the lead character Billu delivers a bland performance and the weakness of his character’s storyline really hurts his attempts to endear himself to the viewer. During an interview, the actor slyly complained that Priyadarshan’s directing style is very controlling, and that he wasn’t able to express himself as an actor the way he normally would. He found it to be challenging. Unfortunately, this isn’t the Irfan Khan seen in “The Namesake” or even the one seen in “Slumdog Millionaire”, but rather one that fails to carry the film.

Shah Rukh Khan plays the superstar actor who shares a past with Billu (and never the two shall meet, till the last fifteen minutes of the film that is). He delivers his usual trademark style dialogue, and manages to instill some excitement when he is on screen. Or, it could be that during the songs he has a very scantily clad Deepika Padukone and Priyanka Chopra (throw in Kareena Kapoor as well) gyrating to some catchy music that makes the film a hit with the lonely male crowd. Sorry gals, you are out of luck, no beefcake for you this time around. That SRK, he sure is a sly producer. He knows that the songs and gals will serve to distract the audience and perhaps make people believe that the film is a hit. It’s totally another thing that the film is touted as a family entertainer, when you’ve got Ms. Padukone and Ms. Chopra showing as much skin as possible, but that’s the conundrum of apna Bollywood films isn’t it? A family film with a little bit of naughty sin is our motto! All of this can’t save Shah Rukh Khan’s performance, especially considering he has shown he is capable of more. I will say that the little inside jokes are pretty clever, but alas not clever enough (though the bit about Bollywood being a big family brought a well enacted tear to my eye).

Billu and Khan run around in circles, and what could have been a sweet movie about lost friendship, instead turns into a boring movie full of cliché’s. The problem with the film is that other than the character played by Shah Rukh Khan, none of them are very likable. Lara Dutta plays Billu’s wife, but only succeeds in being irritating. Billu’s children are so annoying, that by the end of the film and their obvious redemption, one couldn’t care less what happens to them. The same holds true for all the side characters, the rich man without a heart, the jealous barber who is Billu’s competition and others. The usual Priyadarshan suspects are around, the already mentioned Rajpal Yadav, Asrani, plus Om Puri, but all fail to really convey anything other than the fact that their characters are ultimately meaningless. Rounding out all this is the music by Pritam who is India’s premiere bubble gum dance pop composer. The tunes are catchy, but I’m already beginning to forget them.

All in all, “Billu” is an exercise in wasted potential. So many talented individuals, yet they leave you with one big bad haircut. Do yourself a favor and skip this snoozefest, instead watch “Hera Pheri” again to see what Priyadarshan is capable of.

 Chandni Chowk to China
 PB Rating: 5.0 out of 10  Public Rating (by 410 unique users): 5.11
 Director: Nikhil Advani  Producer: Ramesh Sippy, Mukesh Talreja, Rohan Sippy
 Music: Kailasa, Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy, Bappi Lahiri, & Bohemia  Lyrics: Rajat Arora, Shaily Shailendra, Kailash Kher, Bohemia
 Starring: Akshay Kumar, Deepika Padukone, Ranvir Shorey, Mithun Chakraborty, Roger Yuan, Gordon Liu
 Genre: Action  Recommended Audience: Parental Guidance
Hear that? Hai ya! It’s Akshay Kumar’s unbelievable hit spinning track record ending, as the audience karate chops him back to Chandni Chowk! Have you ever seen a film that simply made you squirm in your seat as you thought to yourself, “What where they thinking”? This is one film that will simply leave you with your mouth hanging open, and not in that amazing kind of way. Pity Warner Brothers for not being able to produce a decent Bollywood flick, as this big budget overly hyped film simply fails to deliver the “ka-pow” goods.

One doesn’t know whom to blame for this debacle. Is it Nikhil Advani, who hasn’t been able to deliver a decent film since the excellent “Kal Ho Na Ho”? Is it Akshay Kumar who fell prey to the hype roller coaster that loudly proclaimed that Akshay is Kiiiiing? One thing is for sure; the poorly written screenplay totally fails to deliver.

The film’s story is taken from any numerous stereotypical martial arts films that have come from China in the past decade, with a little bit of “Kung Fu Hustle” thrown in for good measure. It could have been a roller coaster ride from beginning to end, but it seems like the writers and director had no idea what kind of film they wanted to make. Is it a complete comedy? Is it a martial arts action film? Is it both? Instead what we get is a film whose first half showcases Akshay’s brilliant comedic talent (which isn’t enough to save the film), but does little to move the story forward and a second half that changes tone to become a hard core martial art’s film that is rushed towards its inevitable conclusion.

It’s sad to say, but Hollywood’s “Kung Fu Panda” did this genre of storytelling better. Akshay Kumar is one of the highlights of the film, and his sequences are very well performed, whether it is comic timing or action timing. He gives a good performance as the buffoonish oaf who may be the reincarnation a great Chinese warrior and who is the only one who can take down the big boss. The film is worth a watch just for him. Deepika Padukone basically serves as window dressing, as she plays (in a ludicrous story twist) two twin sisters separated at birth whose father has seemingly been murdered by the vile villain of the film. Ranvir Shorey is unfortunately just not up to par and his comedic scenes fall flat. Gordon Liu as the inanely named villain Hojo doesn’t really have much scope and fails to convey the menace necessary for the role.

Hopefully Akshay Kumar doesn’t give up on his wish to make a really good Bollywood martial arts film. It’s too bad that “Chandni Chowk to China” lacks the karate chops to be that film.

 PB Rating: 5.0 out of 10  Public Rating (by 410 unique users): 5.11
 Director: Ajitpal Mangat  Producer: Manmohan Shetty, Ajitpal Mangat
 Music: Anu Malik  Lyrics: Syed Gulrez, Amitabh Varma
 Starring: Harman Baweja, Amrita Rao, Anupam Kher, Gulshan Grover, Dilip Tahil, Brett Lee
 Genre: Social  Recommended Audience: General
Sadly, this film will not make you feel victorious in any way, shape or form. Before I begin writing about what’s wrong with the film, let’s focus on the one bright spot in an otherwise poor film, which is Hurman (formerly known as Harman) Baweja. After the horrendous flop of his first film “Love Story 2050” in which the actor seemingly channeled Hrithik Roshan in every frame, Hurman wisely breaks away from roshan-itis to come into his own as an actor with this movie.

Unfortunately the film is so average, that no matter how hard the actor would have worked; his efforts would have been in vain. One would think that a film focusing on the exciting world of Cricket would be a rip-roaring edge of your seat winner. Not so with this film, as the story falters. The basic premise of a cricket player’s fall from grace and ultimate redemption is one that we have seen many, many times. It’s the formula for this genre of movie; however, other stories have wisely amped up the character development and excitement. Yes, the cricket scenes are well filmed, and the direction by Ajitpal Mangat is fairly good, but the screenplay is just not gripping enough. Real life Cricket players have been roped in for the game scenes, and that works well, but when the game is not on, the film has no game at all. Amrita Arora is ok, as she is quikly becoming the queen of average B movies.

The music by Anu Mallik is not worth this sentence to write about. On the whole, the film will probably cause Hurman aka Harman to change his name once again in the hopes that he might eventually have a hit film. Might I suggest Herman?

 Director: Rohit Nayyar  Producer: Ram Kishore Saxena
 Music: Afsar-Sajid  Lyrics: Shahab Allahabadi
 Starring: Mansi Dohval, Shubh, Hrishitaa Bhatt and Ramkishore Saxena
 Genre: Drama  Recommended Audience: Parental Guidance
I had high hopes that this film would be the underdog that would really rock Bollywood; however, that’s not the case. The theme of the movie is interesting focusing on a theatre group who is not only dealing with the loss of funds, but a lead character who is diagnosed as HIV positive. The concept of the film is intriguing but the script is terrible and the direction by Rohit Nayyar is not impressive. As for the actors, Subhashish shows promise, Hrishita Bhatt won’t win any awards for her acting, and it’s sad to see Seema Biswas wasting her talent with this film. The best part of the film is the outstanding soundtrack by Afsar-Sajid, and one hopes that this music director duo is given another shot at fame with a chance to score the music for a better film. My advice, don’t reach for the sky with this movie!

 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.

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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