Planet Bollywood

Thums Up - Thums Down for the Week - 25 Mar 2010
  The thrill ‘n’ chills flow fast ‘n’ furious as Aditya Narayan makes a fear infested debut in Vikram Bhatt`s ‘Shaapit”!
  - Samir Dave
Selection based on Planet Bollywood critics recommendations           Let us know what you think about this

Aditya Narayan makes an impressive debut in the fairly decent horror genre courtesy of Vikram Bhatt.

Thums Up - Recent Films Worth Watching :-)
Don’t you just hate it when it turns out that the girl you fell in love with has an ancient curse on her family? As if parents weren’t hard enough to deal with (and scary too), now you find out that you haven’t got a ghost (ouch) of a chance you ghoul.

Ahem, all kidding aside, my tolerance for Hindi Bolly horror movies isn’t that high, since most of them are not well made, relying on either gore or a bad background score (tum..tum…TUMMMM) to denote when the audience should or should not be scared. Plus the evil demon or ghost tends to spout some kitschy dramalogue (drama

 Love Sex Aur Dhokha
 PB Rating: 6.5 out of 10  Public Rating (by 410 unique users): 5.11
 Director: Dibakar Banerjee  Producer: Ekta Kapoor
 Music: Sneha Khanwalker  Lyrics: Dibakar Banerjee
 Starring: Arya Banerjee, Neha Chauhan, Anshuman Jha, Atul Mongia, Shruti, Amit Sial, Herry Tangdi and Raj Kumar Yadav,
 Genre: Emotional  Recommended Audience: Adult
dialogue) that makes me giggle rather than wiggle in fear.

Vikram Bhatt has been missing the mark for a number of years and has fallen far from his Aamir Khan “Ghulam” days. He redeemed himself with “1920” and seems to have found his niche in the low budget horror genre. For the most part, it’s only him and Ram Gopal Varma (with his “Phoonk” films) that are keeping this genre alive. Luckily for us, “Shaapit” is actually that rarity in Bollywood horror, a well thought out intelligent yet scary film (with the prerequisite minor flaws of course).

The story deals with love, witchcraft and all sorts of demonic hullabaloo. That’s all you really need to know about the film (that and there are flashbacks between the present day and hundreds of years in the past). The film’s strengths are Aditya Narayan (son of playback singer Udit Narayan), who graduates as host of Zee TV’s Sa Re Ga Ma, to full fledged actor. He’s rough around the edges, but really delivers a strong performance, which isn’t surprising, as he is certainly a talented artist who has grown up in the limelight. He also contributes to the soundtrack (which is actually quite good) and has a voice that’s somewhere between his dad’s and Shaan’s tonal quality. His onscreen (and offscreen, if the gossip rags are to be believed) paramour is played by newcomer Shweta Agarwal, who turns in a decent if not spectacular performance. The two do share an undeniable chemistry. The rest of the cast includes Rahul Dev playing an occultist intellectual and Shubh Joshi and of course Natasha Sinha as the spirit that goes, “BOO” in the dark. The cinematography by Pravin Bhatt is the glue that sets the mood. The music by Chirantan Bhatt, Nazam Sheraz, and Aditya Narayan is also fairly good if not groundbreaking.

All in all “Shaapit will give you some goose bumps, and is a nice way to kill a couple of hours and get your heart racing every now and then.

 Road, Movie
Is it the thrill of peeping in on someone else’s life that appeals to the voyeur in each of us? You’re not a voyeur you say? Well, how about that time that aunty came over and gossiped about family, the neighbors, or others? Did you listen with a keen ear? I’m sure you did, and that is what voyeurism is all about. Watching, listening, getting a window into another’s life. It’s subtle gossip on another level, and it’s controversial as well.

In this age of cameras on every corner and in every pocket, voyeurism has been taken to a whole new level, and this has brought out into the open even the most secret of actions or interactions between people (sexual intimacy being a prime candidate).

So it is that Banerjee’s “Love Sex Aur Dhokha” (LSD) attempts to bring light to this voyeuristic world we live in to Bollywood fans all over. Does the movie succeed? Yes and no. It’s certainly entertaining in parts, and some of it will make you move ever so guiltily to the edge of your seat in anticipation, while other parts will make you recoil in horror.

First up, the entire movie is filmed camcorder style (seen in Hollywood hits like the recent “Paranormal Activity”, “Cloverfield” and “The Blair Witch Project”), so if you don’t like skippy jerky movements, than this film is not for you. It requires a little bit of that good ole suspension of disbelief at times as the credibility of lead characters having the camera on all the time is stretched to the limits in certain scenes (particularly the last act).

LSD covers three stories that are linked by the barest of story threads. The first about a film student falling in love with his lead heroine is corny, kitschy and darkly disturbing (especially at the end). This is the highlight of the film and worth watching. There is no sex involved or anything titillating, but the story captures the attention of the viewer on many different levels. Strange isn’t it, but the strongest story is the one that focuses on Love.

Sex is next, as we move onto a bet made between two people on who can bed one of the women who works in the same convenience store as they do. Security cameras are installed everywhere and record everything. Ultimately during a moment when the woman in question is distraught over the death of a friend (tied in to the first story), she gives in to the man’s advances and has sex with him on the floor of the security room. The cameras capture them, and the video finds itself on the web (thanks to the guy), resulting in scandal. It’s this part of the film that begins to get tedious, and one feels impatient waiting for this to end.

Dhokha is the final act and deals with journalism, suicide attempts, casting couch, and betrayal. It’s harsh (language-wise) and deals with the hot topic of the casting couch in entertainment. It’s not bad, but by this point in time, the viewer has grown weary of the camcorder affect, and the storyline is just about entertaining enough to keep the voyeur in us interested.

The acting by Anshuman Jha, Shruti, Raj Kumar Yadav , Neha Chauhan, Amit Sial, Arya Devdutta, and Herry Tangri is adequately raw, but you’d be hard pressed to remember any of them (or any standout performance), after seeing the film.

In the end, the first act is the most powerful and uses the camcorder filming technique well. The other two parts begin to try a viewer’s patience, resulting in an entertaining, but uneven film. The excellent soundtrack by Sneha Khanwalker is for the most part relegated to the background with the exception of the title song that is rolled out during the end credits. Editing by Namrata Rao is what holds the film’s three stories together. Ekta Kapoor should be commended for moving away from the mindless comedies she is known for producing and trying out something on the edge. Despite its weaknesses, “Love Sex Aur Dhokha” is a film worth seeing (as it breaks new ground) and one that will leave you with a paranoid feeling that you are being watched.

 PB Rating: 7.0 out of 10  Public Rating (by 410 unique users): 5.11
 Director: Ram Gopal Varma  Producer: Sheetal Vinod Talwar, Madhu Mantena
 Music: Jayesh Gandhi, Dharmaraj Bhatt, Sandeep Patil, Bapi-Tutul, Sanjeev Kohli  Lyrics: Vayu, Sarim Momin, Sandip Singh, Prashant Pandey
 Starring: Amitabh Bachchan, Ritesh Deshmukh, Paresh Rawal, Mohnish Behl, Manisha Koirala, Rajat Kapoor, Gul Panag, Raima Sen
 Genre: Social  Recommended Audience: Parental Guidance
Crown prince of Bolly darkness Abhay Deol continues on the dark path with his follow up to “Dev D”, “Road, Movie” directed by Dev Benegal. It’s a fascinating and flawed film that beautifully conveys the line between hope and hopelessness amidst the breathtakingly stark beauty of Rajasthan. This is definitely not a feel good, lift me up kind of movie, and if you are looking for clear cut answers and neatly tied up resolutions by the end of the film, then you better hit the road right now, because you won’t find it here. If; however, you like to mix in a lot of quirkiness with your regular diet of Bollywood masala films, than this is the road you need to drive down and explore. Personally, I sometimes enjoy existential quirk every now and then.

Dev Benegal wrote the screenplay of this film that follows the journey of a young man who is trying to escape his dreary destiny following his father’s footsteps as a door to door hair oil salesman. To make a long story short, he finds himself driving a mobile cinema truck and winds up joining forces with an feisty orphan (Mohammed Faizal Usmani) and a tubby drifter (Satish Kaushik in a wonderfully restrained performance), and Tannishtha Chatterjee (as a village belle that is searching for water across the desert).

The plus points of the film, the interactions between Abhay Deol’s character with Usmani and Kaushik, the beautiful cinematography by French cinematographer Michel Amathieu (breathtaking) and the excellent background score by the very talented Michael Brook. The negative points include a hallucinogenic story that meanders from the middle to the end, with a fantasy fair that just couldn’t be real, and a water crime-lord that becomes a true man by Abhay Deol rubbing hair oil into his head (don’t ask). The romance between Abhay and Tannishtha’s character is natural, but fleeting and not worth the effort to get invested in.

This could have been a really cool cult classic, but instead is worth one watch, and then quickly relegated to the, “Man, did I dream that or what” category. As it is, it barely screeches into the ThumsUp section…..but just barely.

 PB Rating: 7.5 out of 10  Public Rating (by 410 unique users): 5.11
 Director: Abhishek Chaubhey  Producer: Vishal Bhardwaj, Raman Maroo
 Music: Vishal Bhardwaj  Lyrics: Gulzar
 Starring: Naseruddin Shah, Arshad Warsi, Vidya Balan
 Genre: Thriller  Recommended Audience: Adult
Have you heard of a director named Ram Gopal Varma? Once an avante-garde directory, he fell victim the worst of enemies, his own ego. After the disastrous Sholay remake of a couple of years ago, RGV (as he is affectionately known) has been busy with his disaster recovery plan. This plan has included films like, “Phoonk” and “Sarkar Raj”, now comes “Rann” a striking hard hitting film on the underworld of media manipulation.

It’s all about the ratings, baby! In this age of sensationalism that we live in, a news story is only worth its weight in gold if it brings in the ratings and ad revenue. The story focuses on Amitabh Bachchan’s character Vijay Malik who is the ethical man caught in an unethical world. His news channel’s ratings have fallen into the gutter, and now is in danger of being used by a politician (Paresh Rawal) who one day dreams of being prime minister (by any means necessary).

Amitabh’s performance is admirable, and this is his second movie, following the incredible “Paa”, in which the legend truly takes his acting to another level. Hats off to RGV for coming up with a mature story that focuses on a mature character. It’s something we don’t see enough of in apna youth oriented fashionista world of Bollywood. Paresh Rawal is devilishly good as the creepy minister, and the jugalbandi between him and Amitabh is wonderful to behold. Mohnish Bahl, Gul Panag, Rajpal Yadav, Suchitra Krishnamoorthy, and Simone Singh round off the ensemble cast with riveting performances.

I have always said and still maintain that RGV is one of our most talented directors, his camera angles, attention to detail, his realization of the importance of cinematography (Amit Roy has done a stellar job) and the background score, all combine to give his films a look that is on par with international cinema. This film is well worth a watch, so “Rann” don’t walk and go see the movie. Now, where’s “Sarkar Raj 3”?

Thums Down - Recent Films that Disappointed :-(
 Director: Chandan Arora  Producer: Indian Films-Studio 18
 Music: Amit Trivedi, Shailendra Barve, Yuvan Shankar Raja, Swanand Kirkire  Lyrics: Various
 Starring: Siddharth, Aditya Panscholi, Vidya Malavade and Padmapriya
 Genre: Thriller  Recommended Audience: Parental Guidance
Ahhh…. I believe that I have passed into the pearly gates of Heaven, while watching a film that combines the rocking talent of Vishal Bhardwaj (this time as producer) with Naseeruddin Shah, Vidya Balan and the highly under-rated Arshad Warsi in a film that breaks new ground and shows that a solid screenplay is always the winning ingredient. Vishal Bhardwaj, fresh off his hit “Kaminey” takes the producers seat and let’s his protégé Abhishek Chaubey direct the action. The result is a wild bronco ride of a film that goes into the darkest emotions of the heart.

I don’t want to reveal too much of the story (by Bhardwaj, Chaubey, and Dhawan), but it focuses on two thieves (Naseeruddin and Arshad) and the widow of their friend (Vidya Balan) in a three way triangle free for all.

On top of all this, the music by Bhardwaj himself is outstanding, especially, “Dil To Bachcha Hai Ji” which will bring the melodies of Raj Kapoor and Shankar-Jaikishan back to the forefront of your mind. The multitalented Bhardwaj also handles the hard-hitting dialogues. The cinematography by Mohana Krishna is amazing and captivating.

Chaubey deftly directs the talented cast, with a story that will have you twisting ‘n’ turning this way and that. At no point does he lose control of the proceedings, and this newly minted Bollywood director does his mentor Vishal proud and adds another feather in Bhardwaj’s cap.

Hmm…. at first thought a movie centering around the “exciting” world of carrom competition and the devious forces at play doesn’t seem very…well…. exciting. I am sure there are fans of the board game around the world (I am one of them), but do we really need a movie about this?

Well, in the hands of a good writer, this could have been a cool film about a new topic that hasn’t been really covered by Bollywood before; however, what we get is a story that falls apart from the first reel onwards. The film is named after the heavy piece on the carrom board that is used to strike the other pieces into the corner pockets.

Honestly, the best part of the film is the eclectic soundtrack that is well worth a listen or three. The movie itself is a bit of a mess, with a story that fails to strike a viewer’s heart in any way.

It seems the director Chandan Arora wanted to strike gold with a unique story, that ultimately fails due to the way it is presented to the audience. Siddarth plays the title character who is hooked on carrom and winds up facing his arch nemesis Aditya Pancholi. The two leads do a really good job, and perhaps the film is worth wasting a couple of hours to watch them, but ultimately “Striker” fails to win your heart over. If you really want to have a great time, play the game of carrom instead and shout, “ribbon it off the wall, and pocket the queen!”

 Toh Baat Paki
Smile for the camera and say cho chweet! Ho hum, another day, another remake of a Hollywood film Bollywood ishtyle. This time around it’s a remake of a remake of an Asian film that has a cool premise. Man with a secret past takes pictures that when developed (or digitized) shows the ghost of a tragic figure from his past. Interesting right? Sure, for the first few minutes, but then director Sangeeth Sivan can’t quite figure out how to keep the sense of horror going.

Instead we get cheesy clichés, with some fairly good acting by Shreyas Talpade that is not able to hold the film together. Chalk faced ghosts and a story that just doesn’t hold any punch leaves the audience with a feeling of fright all right, as the realization sinks in that they have spent their hard earned money on a bogus film that should never have been developed. Shreyas, this can’t be the only films that are coming your way. You’ve proven that you are better than this! Boo-yah!

 Dulha Mil Gaya
 PB Rating: 4.0 out of 10  Public Rating (by 410 unique users): 5.11
 Director: Mudassar Aziz  Producer: Viveck Vaswani
 Music: Lalit Pandit, Pritam  Lyrics: Mudassar Aziz, Kumaar
 Starring: Fardeen Khan, Sushmita Sen, Shahrukh Khan (Guest Appearance), Mohir Chadda Ishita Sharma, Johny Lever, Bina Kak, Suchitra Pillai, Viveck Vaswani, Howard Rosemeyer Parikshat Sahni, Anushka Manchanda, Tara Sharma
 Genre: Comedy  Recommended Audience: General
Ok yaar. Now laugh. Now stop. Now laugh. Now stop. Now Laugh. Arre, now stop yaar! Not fun is it? Well, you’ll be quite unhappy if you watch “Toh Baat Paki”, a cookie cutter of a comedy film that seems to have been blandly created in the generic Bollywood comedy factory.

The unnecessarily convoluted story focuses on one sister trying to set up another with a man only to find another man who is a better prospect after the first man has already won her sister’s heart. Got it? No? Don’t worry; it’s not worth the brain drain.

It’s been such a long time since we’ve seen the talents of Tabu on the silver screen, what a shame that this is the film that breaks her hiatus from Bollywood films. She deserves better than this and is the one bright spot in the film. As for the rest of the cast, Sharman Joshi follows up “3 Idiots” with this. ‘Nuff said.

Director, Kedarh Shinde’s heart may have been in the right place, but the film is not entertaining and will quickly be forgotten. “Toh Baat Paki”? Nahin!

 Accident on Hill Road
Ahhh, what can a nubile young woman want, other than to meet the man of her dreams so that she can shout out loud, “Dulha Mil Gaya”!?!? For that matter, you know that for Indian men, Indian wife is Indian life yaar!

So let’s make another movie on (you guessed it) finding the ultimate soul mate and the hoops we jump through to do that. Director (and writer) Mudassar Aziz drops the ball all the way down with this mess of a film that is tedious and unrelenting in its lack of creativity.

Hear that sound? It must be that truck of cash backing up to Shah Rukh’s house for appearing in a film like this. For SRK fans that are used to his appearance in high caliber films, this will go down like a rock in water. His character (the millionaire with a heart), appears after the interval and he looks like he has sleep walked through the movie.

The film centers around Fardeen Khan, Sushmita Sen, Ishita Sharma (with a literal screeching howl moment featuring Johnny Lever), and Shah Rukh Khan as fireworks fail to ignite when their crosses path.

The only saving grace of the movie is the excellent performance by Sushmita Sen who shimmers. It’s worth watching the film with one eye open just to see her act, she’s that good. Alas, one actor cannot save an entire movie. It’s better to stick with the real life dulha/dulhan dreams than the reel life dream, “Dulha Mil Gaya”.

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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