Planet Bollywood

Thums Up - Thums Down for the Week - 25 Jan 2011
  Surreal and sublime, Kiran Rao`s `Dhobi Ghat` takes the viewer on a magnificent journey!
  - Samir Dave
Selection based on Planet Bollywood critics recommendations           Let us know what you think about this

It`s been a while my friends, but I`m back to bring you the world of Bollywood films via the PB Thums Up - Thums Down Bolly-Filter. First up, `Dhobi Ghat` shows the potential of Bollywood, as the Mumbai diaries come to life courtesy of Kiran Rao and Aamir Khan. Also, check out the manic-depressive `Guzaarish` and the hard-hitting `No One Killed Jessica`!

Thums Up - Recent Films Worth Watching :-)
 Dhobi Ghat
 PB Rating: 8.0 out of 10  Public Rating (by 410 unique users): 5.11
 Director: Kiran Rao  Producer: Aamir Khan Productions
 Music: Gustavo Santaolalla  Lyrics:
 Starring: Aamir Khan, Prateik Babbar, Monica Dogra, Kriti Malhotra
 Genre: Art-Film  Recommended Audience: Adult
Kiran Rao’s debut as a director pushes the envelope of Bollywood cinema, breaking free of the usual stereotypical formulaic films we usually see, and giving the viewer a sensuously sensitive portrayal of life in Mumbai. It is the kind of film that leaves you wanting to know more about what happens to the characters after the camera is turned off. Lives come together, meeting for a moment in time, and then move forever apart, while Mumbai stands watch. Is the movie for everyone? Truth be told, it probably isn’t everyone’s cup of chai. It’s cerebral and makes the viewer work through the intricacies of the screenplay (written by the director). It’s one of those rare Bollywood films that stand up to repeated viewings.

I don’t think I need to delve into the storyline too much (nor do I want to), as it’s best to go into this film with no previous knowledge. Know this, there are five characters. The heartbroken lost painter (Aamir Khan) the NRI woman who’s come to India to take photos amongst other things (Monica Dogra), the dhobi by day rat killer by night (Pratiek), the mysterious woman whose videos impact the painter’s life in a major way (Kriti Malhotra) and the actual city itself (Mumbai).

The characters plotlines converge in an explosive manner yet retain individuality throughout the film. These are not caricatures of people you may know, or one-dimensional characters. These are fully realized creations that matter. There are no throwaway characters in this film and each actor has done an exemplary job. The director has conveyed sensuality in the way she has brought the screenplay to life. Kiran Rao is aided in this by the expert cinematography of Tushar Kanti Ray who brings the real Mumbai to life, as you’ve never seen on film before. The use of POV shots at certain key moments in the film gives the viewer even more of an intimate feeling. The haunting background score by Academy Award winner Gustavo Santaolalla (“Brokeback Mountain”, “Babel”) is a delight and works incredibly well to set the various moods throughout the film. If you are looking for idiotic comedy, big bombastic music videos, and meaningless plotlines that tie up neatly at the end, then don’t bother with this film. If you are looking for a movie that will serve up life in all its inconclusive glory, then watch this film. I applaud Aamir Khan and Kiran Rao for having the guts to make a film like this and you will too after you see it.

 PB Rating: 8.5 out of 10  Public Rating (by 410 unique users): 5.11
 Director: Sanjay Leela Bhansali  Producer: Ronnie Screwvala, Sanjay Leela Bhansali
 Music: Sanjay Leela Bhansali  Lyrics: A.M. Turaz, Vibhu Puri
 Starring: Hrithik Roshan, Aishwarya Rai, Aditya Roy Kapoor, Monikangana Dutta, Rajit Kapoor, Shernaz Patel,Nafisa Ali, Sanjay Lafont
 Genre: Drama  Recommended Audience: General
Would somebody please tell me what kind of depressive black hole has Sanjay Leela Bhansali fallen into? It seems to be pulling him into the gravity well of a continuous depressed state. I long for the days when SLB used colors other than black and blue. Truth be told, there’s always been a certain melancholic quality to his work. All his previous films from “Khamoshi” onwards have tragedy and sadness of epic portions. At least this sadness was wrapped up in a package with somewhat cheerful moments, but his latest “Guzaarish” though an effective and at times provocative film, leaves the viewer exhausted and craving some form of happiness by the end credits. That’s not to say this is a bad film, it’s certainly not. In fact, it’s an intriguing look inside the feelings of hopelessness that every paraplegic must feel at certain points in their lives. Euthanasia or “Ethanasia” as it is called in the film (after the name of the title character), is understandably the best (though most controversial) alternative to living in a body that has become a person’s tomb. Hrithik Roshan is brilliant as the paraplegic magician Ethan who is trying to convince the Indian court to grant his wish to be put to death. You see his greatest trick would be to disappear from this world permanently by escaping the prison of his useless body. Aishwarya Rai plays his nurse/caretaker who secretly harbors a deep love for Ethan. She does a fair job and is helped by the fact that she and Hrithik share a natural chemistry. This is not the love of lustful sighs and secret touches; this is the love of two people who come together under various tragic circumstances to have a meeting of souls. Sanjay Leela Bhansali shows that he is a master of cinematic magic by directing the film in a hauntingly beautiful and almost poetic manner (just take a look at Hrithik’s magic scenes). He is also the music director, and though the music is quite good, it unfortunately sounds achingly familiar in many places to his previous film’s soundtrack, “Saawariya”. Yet, the way the music is portrayed on film will make you appreciate it more after you’ve seen the movie. Bhavani Iyer and Bhansali write a screenplay that teeters on the abyss of emotional despair, but subtly keeps the viewer from falling in. Sudeep K. Chatterjee’s cinematography paints each scene into a memorable masterpiece of ambience. Watch it, enjoy it, and relish in the depressive state of “Guzaarish”, just don’t forget to smile a bit afterwards!

 Yamla Pagla Deewana
On the one hand you have films like “Dhobi Ghat” and “Guzaarish”. On the other, you have idiotic comedic whip cream films like “Yamla Pagla Deewana”. It’s not necessarily a bad thing to be idiotic comedic whip cream. It tastes great, and is filling for a little while but on the whole is simply a bunch of useless empty calories. Pity that Sunny Deol, Bobby Deol and Dharmendra are unable to get any other films, and so come together in a film that pretty much plays on every comedic Punjabi stereotype that we’ve seen of before. But you know what? Call me crazy, but the film is entertaining (though I am loathe to admit it). It sure is funny! What can I tell you about the story? Should I tell you about the story? Is there really a story? Who cares! I know why all of us want to see this film. It’s to see the Deols together on screen and logic be damned! Samir Karnik directs this film with a tongue in cheek attitude. Jasvinder Singh Bath has written a screenplay with Punjabi aplomb. The music is forgettable except for the title track, which plays on the nostalgic strength of the hit track of yesteryear. You know what? To analyze this film too much takes away from it. Just watch it and have fun. Sometimes in life you need some silliness, before the waves of reality come crashing down.

 Break Ke Baad
 PB Rating: 4.0 out of 10  Public Rating (by 410 unique users): 5.11
 Director: Danish Aslam  Producer: Kunal Kohli
 Music: Vishal-Shekhar  Lyrics: Prasoon Joshi
 Starring: Imran Khan,Deepika Padukone,Shahana Goswami,Yudishtir Urs,Navin Nischol, Lillete Dubey
 Genre: Romantic  Recommended Audience: General
Disparately different people come together in youthful love after the break! This is one of those films that is pretty much carried on the charms of the two lead actors. Imran Khan and Deepika Padukone effortlessly move through the wafer thin plot by Renuka Kunzru and Danish Aslam. In a nutshell, two people who are polar opposites fall for each other, argue, take a break, and realize they are made for each other in the end. Memo to Shahana Goswami, you deserve better than this! This one is strictly to watch for the charisma of the stars and the wasted good music by Vishal Shekhar. Still, it’s a fine line between “Break Ke Baad”, and simply…it’s BAD. Director Danish Aslam, needs to rethink his filmi strategy for his next film. This one scrapes by just barely into the Thums Up section, though just by a fingernail’s margin.

 No One Killed Jessica
 PB Rating: 8.5 out of 10  Public Rating (by 410 unique users): 5.11
 Director: Rajkumar Gupta  Producer: Ronnie Screwvala
 Music: Amit Trivedi  Lyrics: Amitabh Bhattacharya
 Starring: Rani Mukherjee, Vidya Balan
 Genre: Thriller  Recommended Audience: Parental Guidance
Between “Dhobi Ghat”, “Guzaarish”, and now “No One Killed Jessica”, there’s hope that Bollywood filmmakers might be realizing that the script is king. Without an excellent and tightly written screenplay, a movie will falter, no matter how good the music or actors involved are. This outstanding production is director Rajkumar Gupta’s sophomore effort after his excellently thought provoking “Aamir”. He deftly avoids the sophomore slump and proves that he is here to stay with “No One Killed Jessica”. Basing any kind of film on a real life incident is risky to say the least. Passing a serious real life incident through the at times weak Bollywood lens can be even riskier. It’s refreshing to see that Gupta did not conform to the norm and play it safe. The movie pushes the envelope, not only in the way it has been shot, but also the way the screenplay of the written word is translated into emotionally heartfelt moments within the moving frame. The story revolves around a woman being murdered at a party. Witnesses are all over, but since the killer is a politician’s son, a wall of silence is put up. Enter the oddball character of Sabrina Lall, portrayed by Vidya Balan who fights to bring justice to her sister’s killer. Along the way, foul-mouthed reporter Meera Gaity (played with shocking effectiveness by a long lost Rani Mukherjee who shocks the viewer everytime she drops the “f” bomb) sees the light, and uses the various tricks of media to expose the killer’s guilt. The music by Amit Trivedi (“Dev D”) is eclectic. “No One Killed Jessica” is an amazing film to start off 2011 with and hopefully a sign that this will be a better year for quality Bollywood films than 2010 was.

Thums Down - Recent Films that Disappointed :-(
 Turning 30
You think turning 30 is bad? Try turning 40 or 50 or 60 or even 70! 30 aint so bad when you put it into perspective, still I remember when I was 29, the thought of turning 30 was a bit terrifying. I imagine it must be doubly so for women, or perhaps it might be a bit liberating (depending on your point of view). In India, according to ancient scriptures or older aunties (take your pick), a woman should be married with a child or two by the time they turn 30. Well, times are changing for sure, but most women who are not settled down by 30 do worry about that. There’s that good old biological clock, plus the dating pool gets a bit smaller. So, you’d think that a film focused on actress Gul Panag (a very good under rated actress that doesn’t get enough work in Bollywood) playing a woman who is at a crossroads just as she is about to turn 30 would be highly relevant and entertaining. Great premise, but the director Alankrita Shrivastava is unable to pull it together. Why? It’s that dreaded old disease of the weak screenplay. If you want to be bored for a couple of hours, give this one a try. It’s only worth a watch for Gul Panag’s charismatic performance. Otherwise….NEXT!

 Tees Maar Khan
 PB Rating: 2.0 out of 10  Public Rating (by 410 unique users): 5.11
 Director: Farah Khan  Producer: Shirish Kunder, Ronnie Screwvala, Twinkle Khanna
 Music: Vishal-Shekhar, Shirish Kunder  Lyrics: Shirish Kunder, Vishal Dadlani, Anvita Dutt Guptan
 Starring: Akshay Kumar, Akshaye Khanna, Katrina Kaif, Raghu Ram, Rajiv Laxman and Arya Babbar
 Genre:  Recommended Audience:
Somewhere while taking a bubble bath in his golden tub, Shah Rukh Khan is laughing his SRK off at the train wreck that is “Tees Maar Khan”. Farah Khan is talented, there is no doubt about that, but “Tees Maar Khan” is a perfect example of an artist whose ego told her that she could do no wrong. The film is lavish to a fault, but hollow, with a story by Farah’s husband Shirish Kunder, that just doesn’t take off. What starts off as a promisingly entertaining story falls flat on its face by the second half of the film. Akshay Kumar hams it up in every scene as the criminal who has been a thief since he was born and Katrina Kaif has nothing really to do but look “jawanilicious”. Vishal-Shekhar’s score has the mega but forgettable hit, “Sheila Ki Jawani”, but for the most part is a big let down considering how brilliant their music for “Om Shanti Om” was. All in all, “Tees Maar Khan” buckles under its own “look at me gosh darn it, I am funny” weight. You will watch this that’s a guarantee, but will you enjoy it? Back to the drawing board Farah, perhaps it’s best to stick with the chemistry you shared with Shah Rukh Khan. Still, regardless of what I write, the movie has and will make a bucket load of money. I just hope there’s no “Tees Maar Khan 2

 No Problem
Hey you! Yeah you! You know what my problem is? You don’t?!? Well, let me tell you something, my problem is that I’ve got no problem. Got it!? Confused? Well, let’s just put it this way, this unfortunate wreck of a film will astound you with the banality of it’s acting, direction, music and story. No way, can you watch this sober, or even drunk. I wonder what the usually reliable Anees Bazmee (“No Entry”) was thinking. For that matter Anil Kapoor, Sanjay Dutt, Akshaye Khanna, Paresh Rawal, and Kangna Ranaut must have checked their brains at the door to sign up for this train wreck of a film. You got a problem with that!?

 Isi Life Mein
Zzzzzzzz…wake me when Rajshri Films actually joins the 21st century. I was looking forward to some kind of family magic when hearing about this film. Perhaps, I thought that the venerable production house was going to have the kind of hit that “Maine Pyar Kiya” gave them back in the day. Unfortunately, “Isi Life Mein” is instead the final nail in the coffin in terms of Rajshri Films viability as a dependable movie production house. It’s a shame, because their television serial “Yahaan Main Ghar Ghar Kheli” has all the magic that their films seem to be lacking. “Isi Life Mein” is another stale boy girl romance. This time around the film is directed not by Sooraj Barjatya (who seems to be pretty much retired), but Vidhi Kasliwal (who apes Mr. Barjatya’s directorial style). Akshay Oberoi provides a flat performance as does his co-star Sandeepa Dhar. Salman Khan’s cameo is more exciting than most of this film. Come on Rajshri Films, you can do better than this! Until the film division is relevant again, I’ll be watching “Yahaan Main Ghar Ghar Kheli” where the true Rajshri spirit is alive and well.

 Action Replayy
 PB Rating: 7.0 out of 10  Public Rating (by 410 unique users): 5.11
 Director: Vipul Shah  Producer: Blockbuster Entertainment, Hari Om Entertainment, PVR Pictures
 Music: Pritam  Lyrics: Irshad Kamil
 Starring: Akshay Kumar, Aishwarya Rai, Aditya Roy Kapoor
 Genre: Comedy  Recommended Audience: General
Ok so, wasn’t this just an awesome movie. I mean, Michael J. Fox was great as the time traveling kid who has to save his parent’s relationship in the past. Oh, and Christopher Lloyd is a blast as the crazy (yet unbearably funny) scientist who creates the time machine. So awesome yaar! It feels like 1985 again! Woo hoo! What’s that? We’re not talking about “Back to the Future”? Why, when I saw “Action Replayy” it felt like I was reliving that Hollywood blockbuster. The stories are almost identical, though the Bolly-Regurgomatic machine has regurgitated “Back to the Future” into “Action Replayy”. In this Hindi version, we have nerdy Akshay Kumar whose son (played by Aditya Roy Kapur whose hair is almost a living creature) travels into the past to get his parents together and change his dad for the better. Boman Irani plays the mad scientist whose glassy glossy U.F.O. type time machine is the best part of the movie. The special effects for the time machine are outstanding. Yet Vipul Shah’s latest is a huge let down considering his past efforts with Akshay have been really good (“Waqt”, “Namastey London”). The one original (if you can call it that) part of the film is that instead of the fifties ala “Back to the Future”, the son goes back to the seventies in hypnotic Technicolor. Akshay is fairly ok in the film, Aditya Roy Kapur give it his all, but his magically changing hair is a distraction, Aishwarya Rai could do this kind of role in her sleep, Neha Dhupia is relegated to the background, Om Puri is simply shouting all the time, and Kirron Kher is just about there. The music by Pritam is a letdown except for the track, “Zor Ka Jhatka” which is insanely catchy. Watch this if you like to torture yourself for a couple of hours.

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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