Planet Bollywood
Asambhav
 
Producer: Gulshan Rai
Director: Rajiv Rai
Starring: Arjun Rampal, Naseeruddin Shah, Priyanka Chopra, Mohan Agashe, Shawar Ali, Mukesh Rishi, Dippanita Sharma, Sharat Saxena, Tom Alter, Milind Gunaji, Arif Zakaria, Mumaut Khan.
Music: Viju Shah
Lyrics: Sameer
Genre: Action
Recommended Audience: Parental Guidance
Approximate Running Time: 150 mins
Film Released on: 23 July 2004
Reviewed by: Shahid Khan  - Rating: 4.0 / 10
 
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Public Rating Average: 5.17 / 10 (rated by 400 viewers)
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The most exciting aspect of this movie is the execution of the stylised opening credits. Split-screens and the pumping score by Viju Shah indicate that this is a fast action film that will take you on an exciting ride. It couldn´t be further from the truth.

Oh gosh, the synopsis is actually the hardest part to write up in this review. Halfway in the film, I almost lost track of what was happening. Don´t be fooled, this is no "Memento" where you have to watch again to fully comprehend the subtleties of the plot. Rajiv Rai´s "Asambhav" has no subtlety. The plot is a mess with far too many characters for the audience´s liking. In a nutshell, the story is about the president of India (played by Mohan Agashe) and his daughter (Dippanita Sharma) who are kidnapped by a terrorist, Mabros (Shawar Ali). Mabros is involved with the ISI, which comprises of Ansari (Milind Gunaji) and his witless friends. That´s not all. There is some other group called Al Hamas, which is led by Yuzan (Mukesh Rishi). Think that the list of villains has finished? No not yet. There is Sam Hans (Naseeruddin Shah) and Brian (Tom Alter) who are involved with the whole thing in some drug scam.

Watch him hide. Watch him climb the ropes. Oh look, there he goes running! Watch him hold the rifle while he pouts at the camera. Who am I talking about? Of course, none other than Arjun Rampal (who plays captain Aadit Arya). He is given the mission of rescuing the president. That´s right, only him (apart from a burger-munching sidekick). The rest of the Indian army are too busy with erm... sleeping, I guess. Oh and then there is Alisha (Priyanka Chopra). Or "Aleeeshaaaa" as she is called by one extremely annoying character (Arif Zakaria). She is a bar singer who is given a contract to sing in bars overseas. A deluded bar singer who sees herself as a pop star. Or maybe the audience is expected to believe that she is a pop star who occasionally sings in sleazy bars for the heck of it. Alisha is dragged into the whole sorry mess when Sam Hans uses her as a way of smuggling drugs into Switzerland, where the president of India is held captive. Her best friend is killed but distraught Alisha´s attention is diverted with the entrance of the hunky Aadit in her life.

Arjun Rampal looks great. And he suits the mould of the action hero very well. His character is not fleshed out very well so Arjun does not get the opportunity to actually act. Even his action scenes are limited. Most of the shots are of him running and firing and running. His true action scenes are towards the end when he tries to kill all these villains who never seem to die. There was one villain who just would not die. Each time he brought out a new weapon. "Ooh look I have this stick that I can hit you with" "Ooh look I have a gun" "Ooh look, I have this metal string I can strangle you with" The audience in the cinema seemed relieved when Arjun finally grabbed the string off him and just strangled him with it. The unfortunate thing was that the film didn´t end there and then, it goes on to even more un-killable villains.

Priyanka Chopra looks great too. Plus she dances nicely. Somehow, I was under the impression that she was playing a strong character who is not afraid to use a gun. But upon watching the film, I realised that that is not the case. She uses a gun in precisely two scenes and even there she seems scared to actually use it. Towards the end of the film, I was thinking, "at least this film does not try to copy any gimmick from ´The Matrix´". How wrong was I? As soon as that thought popped into my head, Priyanka´s character bends over backwards to avoid a shower of bullets. You see a huge close up of one bullet going past her head and then killing the femme fatale behind her. This brown bullet must be getting a lot of work in Bollywood these days. I wonder if it also has its own make up artist since it has been in an awful lot of close-up shots lately.

The rest of the cast pitch in with ropey performances. Naseeruddin Shah livens up the film with his hamming. Since there are so many other villains, the impact of this one negative character is considerably reduced. The actor commented somewhere that his character is very unpredictable; one never knows what his next action will be. I beg to differ, Mr. Shah. He is very predictable, too predictable, in fact.

The dialogues by Naeem Sha are a major letdown with inane lines and clichés. The action scenes are almost entertaining in parts but there is no particular stunt that leaves you on the edge of your seat. "Asambhav" is technically polished with fast editing and gimmicky camera editing. But even this fast editing becomes terribly annoying. The film uses the formula of a split screen panel to death. It is fine when the film uses it to show something that is useful in a story. But using it for the heck of it in the song videos is just ridiculous. As a viewer, you become cross-eyed and then just don´t know where to look. The songs are hummable but their videos are disappointing especially the one for "Mashuqa Rubi". The item girl Mumaut Khan takes this likeable song and ruins it. Someone tell her to stop doing that weird thing with her lips.

Rajiv Rai´s direction is uninspired. Therefore, his "Asambhav" ends up looking tired and dragged out. Maybe the director should take a long break and come back with a subject that really fires him up... instead of doing something that he supposes that the audience wants from him. Forget the dictations of the market for a second, Mr. Rai, what kind of cinema do YOU want to make? What do YOU believe in? Where has your excitement gone?

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