Planet Bollywood
Producer: Ravi Agrawal
Director: Isshaan Trivedi
Starring: Himesh Reshammiya, Shenaz Treasurywala, Sonal Sehgal, Zakir Hussain, Rajesh Khattar
Music: Himesh Reshammiya
Lyrics: Subrat Sinha
Genre: Romantic
Recommended Audience: General
Film Released on: 03 December 2009
Reviewed by: Ankit Ojha  - Rating: 7.0 / 10
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Public Rating Average: 5.1 / 10 (rated by 411 viewers)
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Opinion Poll: Is Himesh Reshammiyas latest soundtrack "RADIO", his BEST ever?

Writing a review of a movie that stars Himesh Reshammiya is tough going! And this is because of the sole fact that Himesh’s detractors are as many as his admirers. Writing bad about the movie would be a disgrace to his fans. Writing good about the movie would be a disgrace to his detractors. What should one do in such a case?

Expectations of another movie starring Himesh would probably have been zilch, most probably because of the immensely pathetic excuse of a movie called KARZZZZ directed by a decent director, Satish Kaushik. Whilst one expected something decent from a director of his stature (Tere Naam then), we really didn’t get what we expected. Also Aap Ka Suroor was unfortunately a surprise hit only because of the curiosity value associated with Himesh’s acting skills – that also being his debut venture into acting.

But Radio’s promotion being very apt and understated, yet reachable, has already reaped into profits for its whole team – so people would have had something to expect from the movie, also considering that the music of this movie has been fantabulous and enjoyed by both Himesh-admirers (obviously) and his detractors (now that’s surprising!).

With most of the critics already bashing the movie, and the box-office verdict already out due to the so-called ‘negative reports’, does the movie really disappoint? Read on to find out...

Radio is about a DJ called RJ Vivaan Shah, who has an exotic lifestyle, but his personal life sends his own life into a tizzy. Recently acquiring divorce from his wife Pooja (Sonal Sehgal) on grounds of incompatibility, his mind is a confused mess and his show spirals downwards. This is when he meets the bubbly cross-breed of a Parsi and a Punjabi, Shananya (Shehnaz Treasurywala), who always loses jobs at the drop of a hat. After a disastrous first meeting they soon become friends and she agrees to help him win his audience back by becoming a ‘mystery girl’ in his show. But the entry of Pooja back into his life gets his confusion back again. Now with two ladies in his life, both of whom love him dearly, what should he do? Pooja wants him back, and Shananya is ready to sacrifice. Who will win his heart? Will Vivaan get his mind back on track and choose the right person?

The story is simply put, déjà vu. But here, it is the screenplay that gets a completely different finishing touch. The non-linear way of presenting storylines via ‘chapters’ (thanks to Tarantino, again?) is actually a brilliant idea. Characterizations are not sketchy, and people are not weird and over the top. People don’t cry bawling their eyes out, dialogues are not perfect, and people really don’t sing and dance, but yes – they live life normally.

While I was a bit disappointed with Pooja’s characterization, Shananya’s layered character sketches awed me. Vivaan’s character also was really well written and should be appreciated on that aspect.

After 99, Love Aaj Kal, and Kaminey, Ishan Trivedi has joined the bandwagon and taken a bold stride of presenting a simplistic story in a completely non-linear format – at least in its first hour. While Love Aaj Kal received mixed reactions, and 99 and Kaminey were acclaimed, this one was given an immediate thumbs down due to the extreme bias many critics have toward the movie.The chapters in Radio – though Tarantino-ish – have worked out really well, and each chapter really is actually a discovery of something new in the movie – it is Vivaan’s confused journey and the events that happen around him to desperately make him realize that he needs to come out of his confused rut.

Execution deserves thumbs up simply for the way the events have been consistently arranged. While yet another movie with chapters (well-sort of!) – What’s Your Raashee? – was rejected earlier because viewers just keep dumbing down their brains when they go in for a romantic comedy, thinking that all romantic comedies are sweet and sugar-coated and musical with songs and dances. RADIO has also suffered from the same ‘tunnel vision’ effect of people not wanting to look beyond the ‘same old story told in the same old way’.

Before we discuss performances, it is very important to see Himesh here with an unbiased view. Oddly, whilst I’ve always wanted Himesh Reshammiya to stop acting in films since Aap Kaa Suroor and Karzzzz (and I really didn’t want to go for the movie fearing Himesh’s dastardly performance), I was actually overwhelmed and shocked, precisely, for the simple fact that he could act! What surprised me more was his relative understated acting. Whilst he consistently bawled and shouted in his previous attempts to perform on celluloid, this one really shows that he’s serious about what he does. He has improved leaps and bounds!

Sonal Sehgal is somewhat of a disappointment. While she was actually decent enough on the acting front, the director gave her no other job than crying and looking confused. She did whatever was given to her decently though.

Apart from the whole surprise package that Himesh turned out to be, the other surprise package in this movie is Shehnaz Treasurywala. Her ‘comeback’ with Aagey Se Right might not have given her enough scope to further demonstrate her acting skills (though she did really well), this movie has given her enough scope to showcase what she wasn’t able to perform even in her debut venture Ishq Vishk. Her emotional outbursts and the way she mouths her dialogues – they’re all perfectly nuanced and restrained. On a side note, the witty manner in which Ishan Trivedi has actually put her pronunciation mistakes ("bhot" instead of "bahut", which actually means ‘a lot’) as one of her habits is clever, and indirectly, if not overtly, shows the family and the culture she lives in.

As far as the supporting cast is concerned, Zakir Hussain is the most useless of the lot. Considering his acting prowess, the director didn’t make much use of him – and it’s a shame. Paresh Rawal is also put down, thanks to his overtly flat characterization, but since he was a special appearance anyway, that doesn’t make any difference. In fact, his reprisal of the troublemaker Ghanta Singh is hilariously likeable. It is not always that you end up getting underplayed humor like this in the theatres. His mock-serious face was the funniest of the lot – and the best part comes when he actually ends up showing his grinning side at the end of the movie.

Technically the movie was decent, considering the low budget it had to work with. Cinematography was decent, but it was the editing and motion graphics that caught my attention. These two aspects deserve brownie points, as I didn’t see any repetition of shots (compared to say Apne which had a lot of irritating and consistently repeated shots). Sound design and background score by Bapi-Tutul are good, but Himesh’s music actually takes away the cake, so much so that their background score has fear of being ignored.

Himesh’s music is brilliant, and really has perfect melody. Subrat Sinha’s lyrics are beautiful. And considering the movie has a runtime less than 2 hours, all the tracks are well blended, with “Teri Meri Dosti Kaa Aasman”, “Koi Na Koi Chahe” and “Jaaneman” getting decent picturization (with the situation being that they are music videos). Well-edited and well picturized, these songs have an impact. Other songs like “Piya Jaise Ladoo Motichur Wale” (why was the remix version used?), “Rafa Dafa”, “Shaam Ho Chali Hai” and “Daamaadji” are used in bits and pieces in the right situations, and coalesce well into the movie, thus making it a very short musical, and the music very useful to the movie.

Okay now onto some of the things that didn’t work too well in the movie. While the radio station and RJ angles got more footage, Pooja’s profession looked unconvincing. She didn’t really prove herself to be a choreographer (where is the dance?), and except for some twirls, her profession didn’t get much scope. There should also have been more of Jhandu Lal Tyagi. And Paresh Rawal should have looked more comfortable with his role – or probably he should have been given more time to improvise.

Furthermore, the heavily promoted “Mann Ka Radio” didn’t get much scope as a video, though it’s samples were overused to the point of becoming really annoying. Case in point – when the equipment of the radio station is shot right at the start of the movie, then all you hear in the background score is the repetition of the three words “Mann Ka Radio” along with some cosmic sound around four times, and by the fourth time, it gets frustrating to the point where the person shouts, “Bajne De Zaraa? What the hell?”…And finally Zakir Hussain. Nothing about him worked, though at times he was able to bring a smile or two at times.

Well that’s my review. I guess many people will pass off my honest opinion of the movie as just ‘another fan review’, but guess what? It might sound ridiculous to you but it's not – it’s my honest opinion of the movie! Very rarely is a movie slotted into the romance genre lesser than 2 hours, and this one is just 1 hour and 57 minutes, which makes the movie relatively fast paced. Also, the slotting of major events into chapters is a very novel concept, which might have been in the Tarantino school of filmmaking for a long time, but never got tried in Bollywood cinema until now. And for a hater of Himesh’s acting, this is the first movie in which I actually got to like his acting. It might not be the best movie in the romance genre, but it certainly slots into the category of one of the better, more underrated movies that should deserve appreciation (but don’t really due to mass bias for a single person). I rest my case. You rest yours after watching the movie.

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