Planet Bollywood

Thums Up - Thums Down for the Week - 10 Nov 2009
  TUTD DAILY: First Up….Madhur Bhandarkar’s Jail…imprisons the viewer with Neil Nitin Mukesh’s dramatic performance
  - Samir Dave
Selection based on Planet Bollywood critics recommendations           Let us know what you think about this

TUTD goes daily for this week, as we present a movie a day with PB’s trademark dhamaka style! Madhur Bhndarkar’s up first with the excellent and morose ‘Jail’!

Thums Up - Recent Films Worth Watching :-)
 PB Rating: 8.0 out of 10  Public Rating (by 411 unique users): 5.12
 Director: Madhur Bhandarkar  Producer: Shailendra Singh
 Music: Shamir Tandon, Sharib Shabri, Toshi Shabri  Lyrics: Sharib Toshi, Sandeep Nath, Ajay Kumar Garg, Turaz
 Starring: Neil Nitin Mukesh, Mugdha Godse, Manoj Bajpai,Arya Babbar, Chetan Pandit, Ghanshyam Garg
 Genre: Social  Recommended Audience: Parental Guidance
Unless you have ever been unlucky enough to be in an Indian prison, you’ve never felt the absolute grim stark madness of prisons. Bollywood films tend to stay away from showing the darker sides of prison life. It’s a world that is ripe with the possibilities of stories not only ripped from the headlines, but of drama on a universal scale of perverse humanity.

If Western jails are known for the sheer brutality of its inmates, then what are Indian jails known for? Not the revolving door jails that stars come in and out of, and not the jails with the invariably buffoonish cops ‘n’ robbers shown in most Bollywood films, but rather the true reality of the Indian prison system?

Trust Madhur Bhandarkar, who has moved from the gossip of “Page 3” to the dirty doings of the “Corporate” world to the gangs of “Traffic Signal” to the sexy undoings of the “Fashion” world, to shine his directorial vision on what has heretofore been an undiscovered world.

He brings his trademark hard hitting style to a story which on the service sounds like a cliché. Seemingly innocent Parag Dixit finds himself in jail, but why? He’s got a great life and a great girlfriend (Mugdha Godse), but winds up in Jail where he is befriended by the yoda of the Indian prison system, Nawab (the always great Manjoj Bajpayee).

Yet, from the first frame till the last, the viewer will find him/herself captivated by what is shown on screen. It’s not just the direction which is sharp and to the point. The acting by Neil Nitin Mukesh is absolutely riveting. You can see each tortured expression on his face (and through the movement of his body). He simply carries the film on his shoulders and makes this a must see experience.

One thing I must commend the director (and writers) is on the attention to detail within this movie(which there is a noticeable lack of in Bollywood films). From the booking in and registration of new inmates, to the explicit details of prison life, extra care is taken to depict everything in a realistic manner. That is primarily thanks to the excellent research conducted by the screenplay writers Anuradha Tiwari and Manoj Tyagi.

The creepy and humanistic cast includes Arya Babbar (excellent), G.K. Desai, Navni Parihar, Raahul Singh, Chetan Pandit, and Jignesh Joshi. The cinematography by Kalpesh Bhandarkar sets the right atmosphere showcasing the contrasts between the prison and the “real” world. Devendra Murdeshwar’s editing is perfect, letting no scene linger for too long, creating the right kind of momentum that propels the film and viewer to the inevitable climax. The music by Shamir Tandon is not as memorable as the music for Bhandarkar’s "Fashion", but one must understand that this is an entirely different film wherein music doesn’t have much of a place.

Yes, there’s that other feel good movie starring Ranbir Kapoor that is out there right now, and most people are going to see that, but do yourself a favor and check out Madhur Bhandarkar’s “Jail”. It’s a movie with a dark side, and one that will resonate even after the last reel. Can you say that about that other feel good movie? I bet not.

 PB Rating: 7.0 out of 10  Public Rating (by 411 unique users): 5.1
 Director: Prabhu Deva  Producer: Boney Kapoor
 Music: Sajid-Wajid  Lyrics: Jalees Sherwani, Sameer, Arun Bhairav, Wajid Ali, Shabbir Ahmed
 Starring: Salman Khan, Ayesha Takia Azmi, Mahesh Manjrekar, Prakash Raj
 Genre: Action  Recommended Audience: Adult
Arre Yaar! Apun ka bhai, Salman is back! He’s lean, mean, dangerous, and not what he seems in this ekdum paisa vasool film. When hearing about the film, it could have gone either way, as it’s choreographer Prabhudeva’s first directorial feature, and Salman hasn’t exactly been firing on all guns (his arms or the revolver kind) in his recent films. On top of that add the already fading from public consciousness Ayesha Takia, the girl next door who never quite broke out into the superstar next door (for some reason), though she has potential. Mixing three unknowns together to film a movie that marks the return of Salman to the action genre (I keep telling you Salman bhai, do more action films, you excel as the angry young (or slightly older) man). What’s more, the film was announced as having music from the ever reliable, though slightly generic team of Sajid Wajid.

So what happened to transform a film that by all rights should have been a Turkey? Well, first off, the music released and it was fantastically entertaining. Sajid Wajid, did what they do best, and that is create simple foot tapping numbers that drive the listener to hum along, whether you like it or not! Though, to see them in a different (and more creative) avatar, you’d be better off listening to their recent release “Main Aur Mrs. Khanna”. Then the promos started hitting the air waves, and bada bing, bada boom, the anticipation grew. Yes, Salman looks younger than ever and like he’s actually putting an effort. Yes, he and Ayesha have chemistry, yes the film looks slick and yes, Sallu fans have to see this film.

So was it good for you? Let’s go over the good, the bad, and the ugly of the film shall we? Well, first off, it’s a remake of a Telugu/Tamil film named “Pokiri”, so let’s not talk about originality at all. This is simply a rock on, hard-hitting masala flick wherein our lead hero pretty much oozes testosterone on the silver screen. Salman plays gangster Radhe who is doing his best to eliminate the don king Gani Bhai’s (Prakash Raj) foes one by one (or in this case dozens by dozens). Radhe is crazy with a capital C, but loves with a capital L. You see the fair maiden Jahnvi (Ayesha Takia who does fairly well) has captured not only his heart but that of the inspector with no heart, Talpade (played by the eternally sleazy Mahesh Manjrekar). Then there’s Angelina Jolie with her double guns, er, sorry that’s Hollywood’s version of “Wanted”.

Prabhudeva brings with him his out of this world cutting edge Southern sensibilities, and relishes in the Indianness that is inherent with this kind of screenplay by Shiraz Ahmed. Producer Boney Kapoor was wise to give Prabhu free rein, as the result is a movie that is a roller coaster. Just don’t give too much thought to the plotline. During a behind the scenes snippet, Prabhu spoke about how he carefully choreographed (with the assistance of Vijayan the stunt coordinator) the fight scenes, and it shows. There’s a kinetic energy in them that seems to be giving Salman a high.

So, lets talk about Salman’s acting a bit shall we? I have to say that this is probably Salman’s best performance in a long time. Whereas in more recent flicks he seemed to be sleep walking through his performances, one gets the feeling that he put in a lot of effort with this film. He carries it well, and proves that he fulfills an aspect of super stardom that Aamir and Shah Rukh don’t.

This is a perfect holiday movie to enjoy during the festive season. It will make you cheer apna Sallu on to glory, and will leave you with a warm fuzzy feeling of gritty violence plus love in your heart!

 Dil Bole Hadippa!
 PB Rating: 8.0 out of 10  Public Rating (by 410 unique users): 5.11
 Director: Anurag Singh  Producer: Aditya Chopra
 Music: Pritam  Lyrics: Saideep Sahni, Joshilay
 Starring: Rani Mukherjee, Shahid Kapoor, Anupam Kher, Dalip Tahil, Rakhi Sawant, Sherlyn Chopra
 Genre: Family  Recommended Audience: General
Yes guys, Rani Mukerji worked out two hours every day of the week (and lost twenty pounds)in order to give her ever so excitable desi guy fans a view of her in a sort of bikini. For some, that will be all that is necessary to flock to the theater to see the film. Oh, and there’s always the ladies of sin, Rakhi Sawant and Sherlyn Chopra who display their assets for the discerning crowd. For the gals, there is always Shahid Kapoor, who spends the film pushing his hair out of the way and flexing his muscles.

Now, that we have that out of the way, let’s talk about the umpteenth romance from those purveyors of the “spinning in your wheels” philosophy, Yash Raj Films. If you are expecting something highly original, then forget it. However, if you want to see a film that is always slightly familiar (like that word that is always on the tip of your tongue) and all slightly entertaining (if in a totally harmless way) because of that, then look no further.

Rani plays the Punjabi village belle with a cricket heart of gold. She wants it all, the hero, the game, all of it. Yet, since there is no female cricket league in India, what is a talented girl to do? Aha! I got it! She’s to dress up like a man to help make her cricket dreams come true. Rani Mukerji plays the feminine Veera and the effeminate Veer with aplomb and proves that she still has what it takes in the acting department. It’s sad, that her career seems to be winding down as Bollywood producers move on to the next young skimpily clad girl. Actors the caliber of Rani Mukerji and Preity Zinta seem to be a thing of the past right now. This is her movie all the way, and she is what makes the whole stale screenplay seem oddly fresh. Shahid Kapoor plays the new caption of a losing cricket team.He acts well, but this is the type of breezy role that doesn’t really push him as an actor (for that, see “Kaminey”). For those of you wondering, Rani doesn’t look older than Shahid, and in fact the two make a believable couple. The problem is in the way the romance is handled, with the clumsy cliché of dislike turning to like, turning to love. Again, Rani excels as both Veer and Veera. Too good I say!

Rani is helped to shine by director Anurag Singh, who frames each scene with a warm colorful glow that is captured expertly by cinematographer Sudeep Chatterjee. Film editing by Ritesh Soni is very well done, especially during the exciting cricket climax (though the end of the match is predictable). Also, one has to mention the excellent work by makeup artists Mike Bates and Mike Stringer, who used prosthetics to transform Rani from Veera to Veer.

In the end, the blasé screenplay veers (no pun intended) down towards its inevitable climax that includes the man revealed as a woman, the winning of a major cricket game, and the omnipresent Hindi Bollywood trademark happily ever after ending. “Dil Bole Hadippa” won’t leave you wanting to see it again, but it will leave you with a feeling of buoyant if all too familiar happiness.

 Blue Oranges
Off the beaten track, way off the beaten track, “Blue Oranges” is an odd film with an odd title that strangely stays with the viewer even after the last reel has concluded. WARNING: This is not a film for fans of masala flicks! This one is for the ones who are up late at night and are spooked by the sounds of the night. It’s a murder mystery told in an asynchronous method that might be off putting to some but is worth the brain freeze to follow through on.

Director Rajesh Ganguly has an interesting concept, but is unable to completely execute the murder mystery’s progression to the big reveal with the proper impact that these films need. Aham Sharma does well in the lead, but the heart of the film is the performance of Rajit Kapoor who makes it all worthwhile.

To say more about the film, would be to reveal the plot, which should be experienced without any prior knowledge. The film is certainly not a classic in any sense, but worth checking out on a rainy late night, with the sound of darkness are at your door.

No, this isn’t some cartoon starring an elephant! This is an often times very dark and violent film in the tradition of Satya. I know what you are saying! Not another Hindi gangsta film, but this one is different in that it’s actually very entertaining. Plus, it features Mithunda (Mithun Chakraborty) in what may be one of his best roles in recent times. Director Ashuu Trikha really handles the intensity well. The screenplay by Ikram Akhtar is stellar, which gives this film depth that it otherwise wouldn’t have. The story focuses on a killer with no soul as he goes on a murderous spree from the time he is ten till he reaches adulthood. His name is of course…Bond, James Bond…er, I mean Baabarr (ok so the name doesn’t exactly strike fear into the hearts of other men). Portrayed with a serene viciousness by Sohum Shah, the character literally jumps off the silver screen. Enter the one man who can stop Baabarr, and that is S.P. Dwiwedi (apna Mithunda). Urvashi Sharma provides the delicate feminine touch, while Om Puri is at his gravelly voiced best. Each character has his or her own story arc, which means that we get to see fully developed plotlines for them. The story moves at a brisk pace going this way and that, till the climax literally blasts the viewer away. Baabarr will easily be passed by what with all the big releases lined up, but do yourself a favor and watch this intense and disturbing little film. It’s definitely not your typical masala flick.

Thums Down - Recent Films that Disappointed :-(
 Yeh Mera India
Here’s a perfect example of a film that has bitten off more than it can chew. Director N. Chandra’s “Yeh Mera India” or "YMI" is supposed to deal with the hot topical issues that are threatening to destroy India from within. The film does that, but in such a heavy handed manner that by midpoint, the viewer simply loses interest. It’s a shame though, since the directory obviously cared about the topics covered in the film (he’s written the story and screenplay as well). His cast includes stellar actors like Seema Biswas, Rajit Kapoor, Anupam Kher, Atul Kulkarni, and Rajpal Yadav. Yet, the film simply doesn’t have the kind of visceral impact a social cause based movie should have. I love my India…..I really do, but I just can’t bring myself to love this film.

Manoj Kumar’s film “Upkaar” is given a dust off for a remake that doesn’t go anywhere near the quality of the original. Arbaaz Khan and Sohail Khan play two brothers from a small village in Punjab. One goes of to the big city, one stays back, until the evil filthy rich businessman (who is the villain of the piece) comes back to literally steal the family farm away. Finally the brothers are united against the mob of terrifying miscreants that will settle for nothing less than their blood. Normally, I love throwbacks to older movies as it appeals to the Bollywood cheesy heart that beats within my soul, yet even I couldn’t bring myself to find anything good about this film. Arbaaz and Sohail are okay as are the other actors (which include such B movie staples as Dia Mirza and Jackie Schroff), it’s just the story which drops to nonsensical levels (particularly during the second half), that totally fails to deliver. Balle balle, miss this one and dance your way to the Thums Up section for some real entertainment!

 PB Rating: 3.0 out of 10  Public Rating (by 410 unique users): 5.11
 Director: Piyush Jha  Producer: Sudhir Mishra Production & Big Pictures
 Music: Justin-Uday, Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy, Sandesh Shandilya  Lyrics: Kumaar, Neelesh Mishra, Prasoon Joshi
 Starring: Parzun Dastur, Ayesha Kapur, Sanjay Suri, R Madhavan
 Genre: Social  Recommended Audience: Parental Guidance
Sikandar is one of those films wherein the viewer wishes that it were better and keeps on trying to jump-start the film as each reel goes by. Unfortunately no amount of optimism can save this movie. Other than very enjoyable music by Shankar, Ehsaan, and Loy (with the mesmerizing “Dhoop Ke Sikke”), the film has little to offer, though the concept is very intriguing.The plot (set in Kashmir) focuses on a young Muslim boy named Sikandar, whose parents are murdered by terrorists. The boy is somewhat of an introvert and is bullied by other kids at school. One day he finds a gun, and from then on waves it at whomsoever he feels threatened by. Of course, this makes him a prime candidate for the local chapter of fantatics ‘r’ us and soon he is being mentored by a terrorist leader. Once he is ready he is given a mission to assassinate a local leader who preaches non-violence. Along the way, Sikandar’s friend Nasreen (Ayesha Kapoor) tries to stop him from falling down into a well that he will not be able to crawl out of.

The film sounds really interesting doesn’t it? On top of all this, Piyush Jha has handled the direction really well. Plus the child actors are stellar. Then why is it in the Thums Down section? Let’s take a look.

Without spoiling the plotline for those that actually want to see the film (whatever the reviews say). The story takes a turn for the worse during the second half with revelations about characters that do not make any sense, and an ending ripped off from a Hollywood film. The message is pure, but the dreaded weak screenplay syndrome that afflicts many a Bollywood release muddles it. It’s a shame, because what could have become an important film that would shine the spotlight on Kashmir, instead becomes a quickly forgotten movie that resonates with the failed hopes of what could have been.

 Aagey Se Right
 PB Rating: 7.5 out of 10  Public Rating (by 410 unique users): 5.11
 Director: Indrajit Nattoji  Producer: Ronnie Screwvala
 Music: Amartya Rahut, Ram Sampat (Guest composer)  Lyrics: Hitesh Kewalya, Munna Dhiman, Shadab Akhtar and Manish Hariprasad
 Starring: Shreyas Talpade, Mahie Gill, Soniya Bhatt, Kay Kay Menon
 Genre: Comedy  Recommended Audience: General
Unfortunately, “Aagey Se Right” is just so wrong. What should have and could have been a really interesting movie focusing on two quirky characters (and a gun) turns into a mish mash of different underwritten characters that fail to capture the attention of the audience. I feel bad for Shreyas Talpade, who is the only saving grace in the film. We all know that he’s an excellent actor, but he can not save this film by himself. If he doesn’t stop this downward spiral in his career, he won’t be around much longer.

The director Indrajit Nattoji shows promise, but where this film fails is at the screenplay level. The story just does not work. Even the usually dependable Kay Kay Menon fails to deliver a noteworthy performance. As for the rest of the cast, Mahi Gill does well, as does Bharti Achrekar, but that’s simply not enough. If you think about seeing “Aagey Se Right”, then perhaps you’d be better off turning left and up towards one of the films in the Thums Up section!

 Director: Deepak Tijori  Producer: Deepak Tijori
 Music: Monty Sharma  Lyrics: Sandeep Nath
 Starring: Sunny Deol, Arjun Rampal, Udita Goswami, Sagarika Ghatge
 Genre: Thriller  Recommended Audience:
Are you crazy like a fox? Feeling foxy tonight? Want to dance the fox trot? What does this have to do with the movie, “Fox” directed by Deepak Tijori (the actor turned director)? Absolutely nothing, except they might all be more entertaining than the film, “Fox” which tries too hard to be a thriller, but lacks the snap crackle pop needed and instead turns into a mediocre mish mash of infinite proportions.

Unfortunately for Arjun Rampal, the film will do absolutely nothing for his career, and breaks his recent winning streak at the box office. His acting is wooden, and he seems to have drifted through the film. That’s probably the fault of the director and the fact that the screenplay is poorly written. You see, Rampal plays a ruthless lawyer who wins every case until he develops a heart and changes his mind. He wants out, but the classic Hindi villain of the film (cue evil laughter in Hindi), has something else in mind. Now Rampal’s character is on the run and can only be helped by super cop Sunny Deol (pulled out of semi-retirement for this poor film). Udita Goswami returns to the screen because nobody demanded it. She does her usual distressed sex appeal show. The music by Monty Sharma, is so forgettable that I can’t find the words for it. Just goes to show that Sanjay Leela Bhansali is perhaps the only one capable of bringing out the talent in Monty, who just can’t live up to expectations with other directors. All in all, this fox goes nowhere fast. Perhaps Deepak Tijori could revive his acting career? Direction just doesn’t seem to be his forte.

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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