Planet Bollywood

Thums Up - Thums Down for the Week - 11 Mar 2009
  Kunal Khemu and Paresh Rawal will make you laugh…whether you like it or “Dhoondte Reh Jaoge” tickles the funny bone…bwa haha!
  - Samir Dave
Selection based on Planet Bollywood critics recommendations           Let us know what you think about this

Will you look for Paresh Rawal and Kunal Khemu in “Dhoondte Reh Jaoge”? Will you be able to understand what it feels like when you can’t think straight? Scared of that possessed T.V.? Look no further than this week as Planet Bollywood’s TUTD reveals all the answers to those burning questions!

Thums Up - Recent Films Worth Watching :-)
 Dhoondte Reh Jaoge
Ah, after the self-important heaviness of recent releases like “Delhi 6” and the dark sadomasochistic misery of “Dev D” it’s nice to simply see a light breezy film that doesn’t take itself too seriously. “Dhoondte Reh Jaoge” is one of those films that will make you chuckle and leave you with a quickly forgotten smile on your face. “Bwa ha ha” might not be the order of the day, but “ha…hmmm…ha” certainly is with this entertaining flick! First off, it’s great to see Paresh Rawal back on screen. Seeing him act in a film is like watching an old friend come back into your life. You just want to laugh with him, at him, and behind his back, but you love him to death. Such is the way one feels about Mr. Rawal, whose funny charm and Gujarati style Hindi dialogue delivery always tickles the funny bone. Partnered with him this time out is the under-rated Kunal Khemu (who shined in last year’s “Superstar”). This young actor may be lacking a bit in screen presence, but is a wonderfully natural actor who immediately makes the viewer feel comfortable. This is his second attempt at a comedy film, and he scores with the laughs. Rawal and Khemu play scam artists who plan on taking huge amounts of money from investors, and then making a flop film! Hmmm…sounds like a lot of the small time producers out there in apna Bollywood! They plan on spending as little as possible on a flop film that is so terrible that it becomes a smash hit. Now, the investors want their fat paychecks and the two are on the run. What follows, are on the surface, typical situations that have a familiar feel to them, but are made to feel fresh by the well-written dialogue. Soha Ali Khan plays the obligatory love interest and adds the feminine touch in a very nice performance. Sonu Sood is quirkily obnoxious as the superstar angry young man ala Amitabh Bachchan. Director Umesh Shukla, knows how to handle the laughs, and the music by Sajid Wajid sounds like “Partner” part II (they seem to be stuck in that formulaic rut). I didn’t want to like this movie, in fact, I went in to it thinking it would be horrible, but just like in real life, sometimes reel life surprises you. I know I laughed, and I bet you do too!

 I Can`t Think Straight
What happens when you can’t think straight? Do you think crooked? Do you think curved? Ok, may be I am thinking too literally, but let’s take a look at a little film that plays on the words, “I Can’t Think Straight”. The title indicates (and is confirmed by the film) that the lead character is dealing with the taboo subject (at least in South Asian culture) of homosexuality. To further the taboo factor, the film in question deals not with the usual guy loving guy topic, but rather the subject of lesbianism. Now before all the male readers get too excited, let me say that the movie doesn’t try to titillate (no pun intended) the audience, but rather is an attempt to deal with the issue in a realistic manner. Writer-Director Shamim Sarif paints a picture of Tala (Lisa Ray), a Jordanian who is going to be married off to a man decidedly not of her dreams. Her family is unaware that while they are planning the big wedding, Tala is having an affair of the heart with an Indian woman named Leyla (Sheetal Sheth). Both characters are in the process of realizing their sexual orientation, and what follows sometimes borders on the cliché, but is still captivating enough to hold the viewer’s interest. Sarif’s film certainly has flaws in the way the screenplay is unevenly plotted; however, the director/writer certainly has dealt with the subject without sensationalizing it, or falling into the pitfall of making the characters stereotypical (no bad comedy here). Of course, no South Asian related film about sexual orientation would be complete without the obligatory scenes with the parents, and we’ve come to expect that by now, yet “I Can’t Think Straight” is an interesting journey for the most part. Tired of watching “Dostana” again and again? Try this film for something a bit different and more down to Earth.

 PB Rating: 7.0 out of 10  Public Rating (by 410 unique users): 5.11
 Director: Rakeysh Mehra  Producer: Ronnie Screwvala
 Music: A.R. Rahman  Lyrics: Prasoon Joshi
 Starring: Abhishek Bachchan, Amitabh Bachchan, Ash King, Atul Kulkarni, Charlie Bayot, Cyrus Sahukar, Deepak Dobriyal, Divya Dutta, Gulshan Grover, K.K. Raina, Nello Del Gatto, Om Puri, Pavan Malhotra, Prem Chopra, Rishi Kapoor,Shefali Shah,Sonam Kapoor, Supriya Pathak, Tanvi Azmi, Vijay Raaz, Waheeda Rahman
 Genre: Drama  Recommended Audience: Parental Guidance
The other day, I found myself walking into the neighborhood bar, and then after having several martinis, thought I saw the Kaala Bandar looking back at me from the bottom of my empty glass. You might wonder what this has to do with Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra’s “Delhi 6”. Well, nothing really, but it’s exactly this kind of disconnect that makes Mehra’s film a bit underwhelming to say the least.

Expectations were riding high for this film after the amazing “Rang De Basanti”, but any comparison to that classic film would be unfair for this one. The only thing I will say is that “Delhi 6” completely fails to scale even the heights of the former film. Instead what we get is a film that is maddeningly on the brink of being good, but never quite makes it there.

Where can I start? The script itself (by Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, Prasoon Joshi, Kamlesh Pandey) is flawed, and for the first half of the film lackadaisically wonders from character to character. Yes, the city is amazingly brought to life and one can see that Mehra really tried to portray it as a living breathing character. The problem is, that the characters within this lively city are ultimately boring. Therein lies the true nature of why the film leaves the viewer dissatisfied and the reason for that is, the characters do not resonate. None are memorable, and after seeing the film, one quickly forgets not only the story, but the characters as well. About the only thing that is memorable about the film, is the portrayal of Delhi. Others can argue that the character development is very subtle with many layers to it, but the problem is that the layers are so subtle that they get lost within the visuals of the film.

It’s not that I don’t get what the director was trying to achieve. He was trying to make a story about a lively city with characters that truly move the viewer, as well as making a comment on the inherent evil Kaala Bandar in all of us. On top of all that, he attempted to tie the story into the classic Ramayana to give it added emotional resonance. It just seems like the writers lost control of the film (and that’s easy to do when there is no completed script on the day filming starts). The first half of the film feels like it was made up as they went along, and then the second half desperately races to tie up all the threads into one coherent whole.

The screenplay details the story of Roshan (Abhishek Bachchan) who comes to India with his dying grandmother (Waheeda Rehman) as it is her wish to spend her final days back home in Old Delhi. When he gets back to India, he meets all sorts of characters that lead what seem like on the surface to be very simple lives, but when one looks closer, the cracks begin to show. What follows is a commentary on not only emotions, but religious discord, and dishonesty as well.

What can one say about Abhishek Bachchan? It seems like he mainly excels at comedy (perhaps because that’s closest to how light hearted he is in real life), but when it comes to drama, there is something lacking. The Abhishek of “Guru” fame (his one excellent dramatic role) is not here. Instead we get an Abhishek that is trying to ape the mannerisms of an Indian American, and it comes off as flat. The director would have been better off in eliciting a more down to earth performance from Abhishek, and the writers completely miss the mark when it comes to his dialogue. Waheeda Rehman is wonderful as the grandmother, and steals every scene she is in. Her performance is one of the few bright spots of the film. Sonam Kapoor does well as Bittu, but because she and Abhishek lack the onscreen chemistry that is necessary (and the romantic angle is never fully developed), her performance does not have the impact it should.

The rest of the cast come and go, interspersed with scenes from the Ram Leela which is supposed to serve as an allegory to modern society as well as news reports of the mythical Kaala Bandar that seems to be the dark underside of humanity. Rishi Kapoor is wasted (delivering a much better performance in the recent “Luck by Chance”), Om Puri delivers his usual cranky old man performance, Pawan Malhotra is good, Prem Chopra is devilish, and Divya Dutta is the most memorable of the characters as the untouchable with a heart.

The soundtrack by Academy Award winner A.R. Rahman is excellent (as are the lyrics by the very talented Prasoon Joshi), but poorly woven into the narrative. The cinematography by Binod Pradhan is outstanding, bringing Delhi’s beautiful chaos to life.

The end of the film with it’s hindu/muslim riots quelled by the black monkey and mystical appearance by Amitabh Bachchan seems more like a dues ex machina to get the writer’s out of the corner they have written themselves into. It’s interesting that they chose to add the mystical element to an otherwise grounded in reality film.

Ultimately, you’ll leave the theater after watching this movie with ambivalent feelings. Oh, and give that Kaala Bandar a banana, would you? You don’t want him coming after you!

 Director: Anurag Kashyap  Producer: Ronnie Screwvala
 Music: Amit Trivedi  Lyrics: Amitabh Bhattacharya, Shellee, Amit Trivedi, Shruti Pathak
 Starring: Abhay Deol, Mahi Gill, Kalki Koechlin, Parakh Mohan, Dibyendu Bhattacharya
 Genre: Thriller  Recommended Audience: Parental Guidance
Director Anurag Kashyap has violently taken the classic Devdas concept and turned it into a filthy dark modern masterpiece of a film with the brilliant “Dev D”.

Who could come up with the idea for this twisted and frenetic story? Why, the dark prince of Bollywood himself, Mr. Abhay Deol who is given credit on screen for the idea. Gone are any pure thoughts in this take on the classic story. You’ll need to take a cold shower after watching this film.

Paro is the kind of girl that emails topless pics to her lover, as well as engaging in some solo physical satisfaction (in what is probably the first time that any mainstream Bollywood film has tackled that taboo subject). This Paro is wild, crazy, and sexually charged. She is a force of nature that cannot be denied. I can picture none of the standard Bollywood actresses playing such a sexually charged force of nature, and so the director has made a wise decision to go with a new face Mahi Gill. Mahi plays the character wonderfully, and her every scene is a joy to behold. Upon her petite shoulders rides the crux of the film’s plotline, and she is more than able to convey Paro as not only an object of love, but also as a being fully human in her desires.

Chandramukhi (whose real name is the oddly asexual Lenny at first) is the unfortunate girl caught in a modern day cell phone MMS sex scandal that tears her life apart. After leaving India, her father watches the sex video, and commits suicide and her mother sends her back to India, where she quickly runs away to find herself inducted into the high class Delhi prostitution circle. Kalki Koechlin has an innocent yet oddly sensual look to her. Whether it is dressed as a schoolgirl that has adult relations, to playing multiple characters for her clients, or satisfying customers over the phone, she shows a fragile sense of being lost, yet at the same time is fully in control of her life. She is the perfect anti thesis to Paro, and counter balance to Dev’s insanity. Kashyap adds a wonderful touch of showing scenes from Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Devdas at crucial moments of Chandramukhi’s journey. It’s a wonderful way to show how ‘Dev D’ is the shattered realistic version of Bhansali’s more fantastical dream journey. Kashyap almost dares audiences to look in the mirror, for you might not like what you see staring back.

Then there’s Dev as portrayed by Abhay Deol. This is not your father’s Devdas, or even yours. It’s like the dark evil twin of Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay`s original. This is a Devdas that is brilliantly lost, startlingly tortured, and emotionally crippled in such a way that you find yourself revoltingly disgusted with the character. It’s a testament to Abhay Deol’s superb performance, that you feel for what would be, in the hands of another actor, a very unsympathetic character. From the first scene to the last, you are emotionally tied to him as he descends into the madness of lost love. While alcohol was the killer escape of the original, drugs take center stage to help this emotional fool on his road to oblivion.

All three characters are refreshing in that they are not the typical Bollywood caricatures or idealized versions of people, but rather all too human in their vices and frailties. The screenplay is very well written, and the cinematography is pure film noir. This film is not for the faint of heart, but for those willing to brave the shattered reality of lost love and how the modern world can make outsiders of even the best of us.

The outstanding soundtrack Amit Trivedi (Aamir) and integration of the music by Kashyap is nothing short of brilliant in the unorthodox use of songs to further the narrative. The wedding band inspired ‘Emotional Atyachar’ is already the rage, which is surprising given that it’s definitely not the typical techno dance song that is the norm at clubs. This strange song that is unbelievably catchy, is just one of more than a dozen tunes that are as captivating as the film itself.

Dev D is like that dream of finding yourself naked in front of a crowd. That thought of that may be uncomfortable (and a bit drafty), but it’s oddly liberating! For anyone who has lost love, and fallen into the well of despair, this is the film for you. For those that are happy and in love, watch the film to see what can happen when things go horribly wrong. It will make you cherish each other even more.

 The Other End of the Line
 PB Rating: 7.5 out of 10  Public Rating (by 410 unique users): 5.11
 Director: James Dodson  Producer: Ashok Amritaj, Pete Chiarelli, Elizabeth Ingold
 Music: B C Smith  Lyrics:
 Starring: Jesse Metcalfe, Shriya Saran, Anupam Kher, Larry Miller, Michael Chen, Nouva Monika Wahlgren, Sara Foster, Tara Sharma, Sushmita Mukherjee, Jai Thade
 Genre: Emotional  Recommended Audience: Parental Guidance
In the mood for a sweet romance that defies logic and comes to a typical but emotional ending? Looking for the perfect movie to watch on a date or with a loved one? Then look no further my friends! “The Other End of the Line” will have the ladies running for the hankies and the gents waiting to wrap their arms around their gal. Similarly to the film “Outsourced”, the film’s central them revolves around a call center employee named Priya aka her American guise of Jennifer David (played by Shriya Saran) who provides customer service (and more) from India to a customer named Granger (Jesse Metcalfe) halfway around the world in America. Her fake American accent provides just the right amount of incentive to make Metcalfe’s character breathe heavy in lustful love. Claiming to be from San Francisco, Priya is actually located in Mumbai and is engaged to a wimpy guy that her parents selected to raise their financial standing. The Indian boy she is engaged to, worships his mother and Priya quickly realizes that he is not for her. Instead she starts flirting with Granger as he in turn falls for her. Turns out that Granger is an ad exec who is going to San Francisco for a meeting, and invites Jennifer aka Priya. Thinking that this might be her true chance at love, she leaves India, and flies to San Francisco to meet the future man of her dreams. What follows is an at times silly, but heartwarming tale of cross-cultural love. Shriya Saran stands out in a performance that holds the film together. Jesse Metcalfe provides the necessary beefcake and shares a warm chemistry with Shriya’s Indian sensuality. Anupam Kher is the buffoonish father who rushes to America to “save” his daughter. For fans of the “Sleepless in Seattle” genre, you can’t go wrong with this harmless romance.

Thums Down - Recent Films that Disappointed :-(
 Director: Vikram K Kumar  Producer: Big Pictures
 Music: Shankar Ehsaan Loy  Lyrics: Neelesh Misra
 Starring: R Madhavan, Neetu Chandra, Sachin Khedekar, Murli Sharma, Poonam Dhillon
 Genre: Suspense  Recommended Audience: Parental Guidance
Oh my God!! I realized the other day as I was watching the latest saas, bahu, aur clown serial on xyz T.V, that either I am hearing strange voices in Hindi, whispering odd things, or I am going utterly insane (cue repeated “zhoom” “zhoom” “zhoom” sound effects as the camera runs up to an insanely fast close up of my quivering almost insane face). It’s then that I realize, that (happily), I am not going insane, but am slowly losing my sanity while watching two and a half hours of a film in which the ghost of doom is a possessed T.V. set (I kid you not). Coincidentally patterned a bit like the Hollywood horror flick, “The Ring”, apna Bollywood version, “13B” fails to add anything to the Indian horror genre. Does the title “13B” fill your heart with terror, or does it make you think of the name of the motel room door in the no-tell motel? If you fall under the latter, then you will certainly get more chuckles than thrills with this movie. It’s not the fault of poor Madhavan, who gives it his all. His performance is probably the only saving grace of the film and it’s sad that even after all these years, this southern superstar has not been able to get that breakout role he really deserves. Vikram Kumar shows potential as the director, but once again the dreaded poorly plotted screenplay syndrome drags the film down into the dark corners of horror oblivion. Yesteryear heroine Poonam Dhillon is always wonderful to watch, and Deepal Dobriyal almost steals the show. The music by Shankar Ehsaan and Loy is fair, but will quickly be forgotten. Music should be left out of horror films, though at times there is nothing more horrific than seeing our actors attempting to dance! Still, if you want to fear the menacing television set and want to kill (pun intended) a little time, then this tedious film might be for you. “13B” or not to B, that is the question. Watch the static on the television screen and be afraid. Ohhh, now that’s spooky!

 Karma Aur Holi
In order to maximize the effects of this sadly lacking in color film, I watched it on Holi itself. It wasn’t the best way to spend this ‘Holi-Day’ (ouch), but I certainly must have earned some good Karma points for putting myself through the torture. You may have heard about this film and the controversy surrounding it? It seems that Sushmita Sen was very unhappy with this international venture, and proceeded to run a smear campaign against it, to which the producers responded by spreading the rumor that Ms. Sen is shown in an explicit sex scene in the film. The promos showcased that supposed scene, which comprises mainly of Ms. Sen’s quivering lip as Randeep Hooda (who was her boyfriend at the time) hovers over her. Ms. Sen says one thing, her co-star Suchitra Krishnamurthy issues a rebuttal and the tabloids have a field day. Director Manish Gupta is not a very well known name, but he did direct the very enjoyable (though filmed on a shoe string budget) “Indian Fish, in American Waters”, a film you should definitely track down and watch. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for his latest, which totally fails to entertain in any way. While “Indian Fish, in American Waters” had an odd charm about it, this film is pretty much a disaster. I wish there was something positive that I could say since Mr. Gupta is obviously talented and capable of better. What makes this film even stranger is that one of the producer’s is Drena De Niro (famed Hollywood actor Robert De Niro’s daughter). Does this feel like a very weird dream yet? If not, let’s throw in an oddly miscast Naomi Campbell (yes indeed, that supermodel with the anger management issues) and you get an even more bizarre film that is laughable due to her phoned in performance. You will find neither the beautiful colors of Holi, or gain any good Karma by watching this film. Awful, derivative and clichéd, your best bet is to simply move on to one of the films in the Thums Up section rather than watch this movie.

 Kisse Pyaar Karoon
“Kisse Pyaar Karoon”, will make you feel like never falling in love again. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, Arshad Warsi is a very talented actor, but Bollywood does not know what to do with him. When will the powers at be wise up and simply give him a solo film that focuses on his most famous character, Circuit from the Munnabhai series? I know, they could call it, “Short Circuit”. See the way you felt when you read that? I bet you cringed, and that’s what this film will make you feel like. It’s all about three friends, who are buffoons. Enter the vamp (Udita Goswami in a decent performance) who tempts the richest one of them into the trap called love. Alas, she soon finds herself thwarted by the bhai bhai camaraderie of the trio. Arshad Warsi, Aashish Chowdhry and Yash Tonk fit the roles, but the screenplay lets them down. Ajay Chondhok provides the lackluster direction that fails to inspire the viewer. Daboo Malik returns from exile to pen the music, which is just barely passable. All in all, this is the film for those bleary eyes insomniac romantics out there. Watch it at your own risk, but be warned, for you’ll quickly be cured of your insomnia and find yourself back in bed, fast asleep.

 Bad Luck Govind
Oh..haha…haha…oh…haha..haha! I’m sorry; I’m trying to really raise some honest laughs while watching the film, “Bad Luck Govind”. The premise is interesting, in that one poor unfortunate soul is the unluckiest slob on the planet. If he’s part of your gang, what do you do with him? Why you send him to be part of the rival gang so he brings bad luck to them. Hmmm…I think I have some friends like that. Doesn’t that sound funny!?!?!?!? Ahem, if you aren’t chuckling yet, then don’t bother seeing this mess of a film.

 Kaash...Mere Hote
Run! Run! Don’t look at this film! Whatever you do, if you want to keep your sanity, you’ll stay away from this warped love stalker film. In another version of the classic, I love you, I’ll kill you genre of film, this film falters from the first frame to the last. Kumar Sahil in a debut performance is totally unconvincing as the male lead for whom all women lust. His acting is wooden, but is made even more one-dimensional by the unconvincing amour of his co-star Sneha Ullal who looks beautiful but is an emotional black hole. Pity poor Rajesh Khanna who finds himself stuck like a fly in amber, the once icon of the 70’s is now reduced to films like this. What’s worse, after you watch this film, you’ll want to stalk the director and screenplay writer in the hopes that they never make another film like this again.

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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