Tuesday, July 31, 2012

REVIEW 148: HARUD


Release date:
July 27, 2012
Director:
Aamir Bashir
Cast:

Language:
Shahnawaz Bhat, Reza Naji, Shamim Basharat, Salma Shabir Ashai
Urdu (with English subtitles)



Harud is so stark that it’s hard to believe it’s fiction and not just reality unfolding before our eyes. It’s a challenge to make a film about Kashmir because the national debate on the state is too often dominated by partisan voices speaking up for one religious community or the other, instead of speaking up for the human cause. Yet, like director Onir’s National Award-winning film I Am released just last year, Harud too manages to raise uncomfortable issues without prejudice and without bias.

An entire generation has grown up in Kashmir without knowing who Kashmiri Pandits are, says a man in Harud. Hey son, he calls out, do you know any Kashmiri Pandits? The boy shrugs. No he does not. And in that brief exchange, the film establishes the all-pervading absence of Hindus from the scene as unambiguously as it does the all-pervading presence of soldiers, bunkers, fire-arms and concertina wire in the lives of the Muslims who have remained. Clearly there are no victors among the common people in this battle. 

Harud (Autumn) is the story of Rafiq who finds a new direction to his aimless existence when one day he chances upon his missing brother’s camera. Rafiq lives in a home drowning in the din of its silences. His ageing father – a traffic policeman – is gradually crumbling under the weight of the atmosphere of suspicion that surrounds them; his still-feisty mother persists in attending meetings of the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons. This is a Kashmir where bomb blasts are as much an everyday occurrence as the man wounded by gunfire who drags himself towards the spot where you happen to be idling away an afternoon with your friends; where a frightened and depressed old man’s awkwardness could be misconstrued by the watchful eyes of the Army; where a moment of hesitation could lead to fatal consequences.

Debutant director Aamir Bashir – a Kashmiri himself – adopts a completely matter-of-fact tone in his narrative, thus underlining the tragedy of Kashmir in a way a melodramatic manner could not. I’ve read that mental illness has been one of the major fallouts of militancy in Kashmir, but nothing has brought the point home to me as strongly as this film in which Bashir’s storytelling, Shanker Raman’s camerawork, the production design by Rakesh Yadav and sound design by Nakul Kamte all collaborate to recreate that pall of gloom that seems to permeate the lives of Rafiq, his family and friends. This is no paradise. This is a permanent state of gray, punctuated by youthful dreams of escape and burnished chinar leaves falling to the ground. It must have been tempting to embellish the film with snapshots of Kashmir’s picturesque beauty, but Harud refuses to succumb. For this reason I suppose it must also be stated for the record, in this week of Kyaa Super Kool Hai Hum’s release, that Harud is a demanding film; and a far far cry from being a slap in the face of maturity.

The cast of Harud are uniformly wonderful. Thankfully, nobody is ‘doing an accent’ – the Kashmiris here actually look and sound Kashmiri. The film’s website tells me they are all either “non-actors or amateur first-timers” and that the actors playing Rafiq (Shahnawaz Bhat) and his friends were part of a theatre workshop held by Naseeruddin Shah in the state. The exception of course is Iranian actor Reza Naji (Children of Heaven) in the role of Rafiq’s tormented father. I read an interview with the director in which he said Naseer was initially supposed to play the part. I, for one, am glad that did not work out. Not that I have anything against Mr Shah, but having seen Naji’s hunched shoulders and forlorn face, I can’t imagine another human being who could inhabit that character as evocatively as he does. What a lovely film, Aamir Bashir!



Rating (out of five): ***1/2

CBFC Rating (India):
U/A 
Running time:
99 minutes



Photograph courtesy: http://www.harudthefilm.com/press.html      


Saturday, July 28, 2012

REVIEW 147: KYAA SUPER KOOL HAIN HUM


Release date:
July 27, 2012
Director:
Sachin Yardi
Cast:

Language:
Riteish Deshmukh, Tusshar Kapoor, Sarah Jane Dias, Neha Sharma, Anupam Kher, Chunkey Pandey
Hindi


I was scared after watching Kyaa Super Kool Hain Hum. No seriously, I’m not trying to take an indirect swipe at the quality of its humour. I genuinely mean I was slightly scared after watching a late show of this film at a supposedly upmarket multiplex in the city, in a hall filled mostly with all-male groups of buddies sprinkled with just a handful of couples. Those guys had obviously pre-judged the film quite accurately from its trailer, and went off into peals of laughter at every single ‘joke’ about semen, gay men, lesbian women, menstruation, humping dogs, breasts, rape, masturbation, anal sex, anuses, penises, vaginas, fellatio and Hindi words with opening syllables that sound similar to the English word “macho”, apart from children with progeria, dark-skinned people, short people, Africans, stammering, etc etc.

With all its crudeness, I could still have enjoyed Kyaa Super Kool Hain Hum if it had been funny. But here’s the only funny part of this story … it’s not. The film reminded me of my junior school days when kids would giggle at the very mention of “sex”, and when the use of words such as “coming” and “period” was enough to elevate any anecdote to the status of a joke. Worse, after the first quarter of an hour of this film, I could see most of those ‘jokes’ coming from a mile away. Oh wait, I just wrote the word “coming” … So witty, na?

Clearly the makers of Kyaa Super Kool Hain Hum revel in negative reviews as you can see from their film’s poster. So let me make it clear, my dear reader, I’ve enjoyed my share of bawdy and loud humour on occasion. In spite of their noise levels, I actually had fun through Bol Bachchan and Rowdy Rathore. Though Desi Boyz often defied logic, I had a good time watching it. I’m not at all embarrassed to admit that I died of laughter seeing the Hollywood film Hangover and even the prequel to the film we’re discussing right now. Yes, 2005’s Kyaa Kool Hai Hum was homophobic, shrill and low brow, but it was funny because it knew how to be cheap in a clever way. Kyaa Super Kool Hain Hum, however, is not even trying. Apparently mentioning the name “Ektaa” in a film produced by Ektaa Kapoor constitutes a gag. It seems to be becoming mandatory to throw Marathi dialogues into every film starring Riteish Deshmukh; apparently that too is hilarious. Apparently relevance to context is irrelevant, which can be the only explanation for why each time Tusshar Kapoor’s character spots director Rohit Shetty (playing himself) in this film, he starts mimicking the speech defect of the character he played in Shetty’s Golmaal series. The writing is so flat that I suspect a pre-pubescent child could do better.

I got so bored after the first 15 minutes of Kyaa Super Kool Hain Hum, that I actually counted the number of times I laughed through its 137 minutes: the final tally is eight times. That’s mostly because Riteish – one of Bollywood’s finest comedians – is capable of wrenching some comedy even out of the most godforsaken script. I wish he would give his own talent the respect it deserves, by staying away from films like this one. Riteish and Tusshar share a comfortable chemistry with each other. The girls playing their girlfriends are the other bright spot in this otherwise dreary film. Sarah Jane Dias and Neha Sharma are both easy on the eye and easy in front of the camera. The songs aren’t particularly tuneful (the exception being the UP Bihar lootne remix), but the cast throw themselves into each number with energy and verve, which marginally compensates for the fact that those numbers pop up out of the blue, with little connection to what comes before or after.

What’s the story, did I hear you ask? Oh sorry, I forgot, it doesn’t have one! Now dreading the possibility of Kyaa Uber Kool Hain Hum!

Rating (out of five): *

CBFC Rating (India):
A 
Running time:
137 minutes



Saturday, July 21, 2012

REVIEW 146: THE DARK KNIGHT RISES


Release date in India:
July 20, 2012
Director:
Christopher Nolan
Cast:



Language:
Christian Bale, Anne Hathaway, Marion Cotillard, Tom Hardy, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Gary Oldman, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Matthew Modine, Liam Neeson
English



The Dark Knight Rises is grand in many places. But every 15 minutes or so, it switches from being grand to being a film trying to impress us with its grandeur ... That’s the over-riding feeling I came away with even after watching its interesting climax, ridden with several neat twists.

So it’s not that there is no enjoyment to be had in this film. There are some excellent action sequences here and there. The art director’s vision of Gotham City is gorgeously grim. And director Christopher Nolan has roped in some lovely actors for all the supporting roles. Leading the lot is a certain Ms Anne Hathaway. That Anne is stunning to look at and can act are already established facts. As Selina Kyle, the newly introduced character in this instalment of the Batman series, she also shows us that she fills out a catsuit impeccably and can throw some mean punches. In fact, there’s not enough where that came from. Selina’s character does not get sufficient screen time though frankly, she and Miranda Tate (played by Marion Cotillard) are far more exciting than Christian Bale’s dullard Bruce Wayne / Batman.

The Dark Knight Rises takes us to Gotham eight years after Batman disappeared. Bruce Wayne has retired into Wayne Manor, and Wayne Enterprises is in bad shape because the company abandoned a clean-energy project since it could have been misused by evil forces. Enter the malevolent terrorist Bane (Tom Hardy) who forces Wayne out of his reclusive existence. The ‘collateral damage’ caused by America’s war on terror, Guantanamo Bay, Occupy Wall Street … the many allusions to the American political, social and economic scenario are unmistakable.

Our protagonist here is an older Bruce Wayne, a man whose broken body does not lend itself to street battles the way it used to. There are few things more poignant than the discovery that our superheroes have feet of clay and limbs that age. This alone could have carried the film through. That it does not is a result of the combination of Christian Bale’s rather uninspiring turn as Wayne / Batman, Bane’s slightly muddled motivations plus the director and screenplay writers’ too obvious ambition to create an awe-inspiring film. And so, Gotham is a modern city but laboured efforts are made to lend a primitive feel to the goings-on. Why else, when an army of Gotham police clash with a mob of raging citizens, would just a couple of shots be fired right at the start after which all those armed men do not bother to use their weapons but instead opt for hand-to-hand combat? Is it because fisticuffs are more likely to stimulate our hormones? Well, the clash at that point between Wayne and Bane actually does provide quite an adrenaline rush … I can understand two men forcing each other to abandon their sophisticated weapons, but an entire crowd voluntarily seeming to do so just does not cut ice. Likewise, Bane’s back story feels too apparently designed to inspire wonderment, especially with its underground prison that’s not half as ominous as it’s aspiring to be.

So yes, the production values are top-notch, but the film lacks soul. Most of the cast are top-notch, but the leading man is not. Nolan’s The Dark Knight was beset with the very problems that plague The Dark Knight Rises, but it was made memorable by Heath Ledger’s hair-raisingly, heart-stoppingly, breathtakingly beautiful performance as the Joker. Perhaps if Team Hathaway & Cotillard had been allowed to dominate this film in a similar fashion, The Dark Knight Rises would have been a different story. As things stand, what we get is Tom Hardy working really hard to be a menacing Bane but weighed down by a leather face mask and the film’s all-consuming ambitions.

I genuinely liked Christian Bale in 2010’s The Fighter as the cocaine-addicted former boxing champ, but he does not yet possess the charisma to hold together a film like The Dark Knight Rises with its pretensions to being an epic. As for Nolan, he seems burdened by his own reputation. Wish he had made this a small film with a large heart. What it is instead is a big big film with little by way of passion. Except for intermittent scenes of action that enliven the proceedings (in particular, the escapes from that underground prison) and a delicious ending, The Dark Knight Rises is, for the most part, a lacklustre film.

Rating (out of five): **3/4

Release date in the US:
July 20, 2012                 
MPAA Rating (US):
PG-13 (for intense sequences of violence and action, sensuality and language)
CBFC Rating (India):
U/A 
Running time:
165 minutes
Language:
English





Saturday, July 14, 2012

REVIEW 145: EEGA


Release date:
July 6, 2012
Director:
S.S. Rajamouli
Cast:
Sudeep, Samantha, Nani
  Language:                              Telugu (with English subtitles)

If you look at Eega at a very superficial level, you may consider it just a fun and light-hearted special effects-driven fantasy. But there’s more to it than just that! S.S. Rajamouli’s film about a man reborn as a fly to take revenge on his murderer is funny, has a completely unusual concept, is a reminder to all of us that height is not might, and the special effects are path-breaking for Indian cinema (with a fraction of the budget of the average Hollywood film, I assume).

Eega takes us through the story of Nani who loves Bindu and is murdered by businessman Sudeep who in turn lusts after the pretty girl. Nani returns as a housefly on a mission to protect his sweetheart while also determined to murder Sudeep. How can a teeny insect achieve that? For the answer, let’s refer to the lyrics of one of the film’s many foot-tapping songs: “Can’t a tiny spark too small to be seen, unleash an inferno that could burn down a forest?”

Acting in a film of this genre comes with its limitations. Samantha is sweet looking and acquits herself reasonably well. Nani barely gets any screen time but for what it’s worth, he’s good too. Kannada star Sudeep, however, dominates the proceedings from start to finish and though he could have over-acted the part of the bad guy, he does not. So he is a lecherous, arrogant, murderous, paranoid and cowering fellow by turns, and looks admirably convincing through all his battles with a computer-generated fly! Of course it doesn’t hurt that he’s such a good-looking man.

The focal point of Eega (meaning “fly”) is the manner in which an insect defeats a strapping human being who has crores of cash, scores of employees and a palatial house at his disposal. Have you ever had a fly buzzing in your ear? Can you imagine a fly flying into your eye? Do you realise how easy it would be to keep a tiger out of a building in comparison with the humble housefly? Think about all these questions and you will know that in the battle of the wise, size is irrelevant. The eega’s ingenuity in this film is amusing and eye-opening. Where the film falters though is when it moves away from the size-does-not-matter premise by showing the eega building up its muscles and managing to pick up needles with its minuscule ‘arms’. Silly, no? Fortunately there’s not much of that happening … fortunate, because it’s not half as entertaining as watching the little creature use its brains to outwit its able-bodied human foe.

Besides, the eega in the film is a product of top-notch special effects. He does not look 100% like a real-life fly, but since humour is the selling point of this film in which an insect dances, that does not matter. It matters even less because he’s quite a handsome chap, this CG version of a bug with eyes an attractive shade of red! The film scores on the comedy and action front. What I missed though was the poignancy that could have been better achieved in the Bindu-Nani romance after the boy’s death … You know the way Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze made us weep playing the leads in Ghost? Eega manages to tug at the heart only occasionally, like when the eega first communicates with his human girlfriend in sign language, but I wish I wish I wish there was more where that came from! I suspect that the reason for this failing is that I couldn’t relate to the Bindu-Nani romance before his death. I mean, she’s supposed to be in love with him but doesn’t give him a single hint for two whole years?! Not only did that hark back to the old days when our films made a huge deal of pyaar ka izhaar karna, it was also highly unconvincing considering that Bindu otherwise comes across as a straight-talking girl, neither old-fashioned nor the sort to play games.

In the overall analysis though, Eega is a thoroughly enjoyable film that breaks new ground for special-effects driven Indian cinema. Way to go, Mr Rajamouli!

Rating (out of five): ***

Footnote: Happily for film buffs like me, Eega has been released in Delhi NCR (my home city) with English subtitles. A big salaam to the producers for having the business sense to do so, in a country where our film industries have yet to get their act together on this front while Hollywood has wisely made it standard practice to release dubbed Hindi, Tamil and Telugu versions of their films in India. Personally, I prefer subtitles to dubbed films. Not everyone shares my tastes though, so I do wish all our Indian film industries would get active with both dubbing and subtitling. Right now, it’s possible they may only draw a niche audience of dedicated film buffs, but over a period of time I bet they will create a market among non-traditional audiences too. Unfortunately, we are far far from that stage. Even subtitling rarely happens! So again, a big salaam to the producers of Eega!

Censor rating:                       U/A

Running time:                        138 minutes



Photograph courtesy: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eega         


REVIEW 144: COCKTAIL


Release date:
July 13, 2012
Director:
Homi Adajania
Cast:
Saif Ali Khan, Deepika Padukone, Diana Penty, Boman Irani, Dimple Kapadia, Randeep Hooda


Cocktail is Kuch Kuch Hota Hai revisited. Regressive messages are most dangerous when they sport a veneer of liberalism, and KKHH is a classic among such films. Karan Johar’s highly entertaining, well-packaged debut film put up the fa├žade with Rani’s little skirts and the Western designerwear crowding those college corridors. Beneath the gloss though, KKHH had a very clear point to make: that unless a woman conforms to the accepted definition of femininity, the man she loves will never realise he loves her. Or, more literally: ladies, you will lose the man who loves you unless you lose to him in basketball while wearing a sari. Ishaqzaade just recently put up a similar pretence of being forward-thinking with its gun-toting, abusive heroine. When push came to shove though, she simply rolled over and panted like a pet puppy for her man.

Cocktail reveals its true colours post-interval. It also becomes dull. In one sentence: it’s got a breezy, funny first half in which a promiscuous man and a promiscuous woman are viewed through equally – yes, equally – non-judgmental eyes; and a mostly rona-dhona second half in which the woman is reduced to a conformist who made me cringe.

The story revolves around London-based Gautam (Saif Ali Khan), an incorrigible womaniser who targets any human female below a certain age. One of them is the ultra-desi Meera who has come to London to be with her husband (Randeep Hooda). Hubby turns out to be a scumbag who married her in India for her money but rejects her when she lands at his doorstep. Meera bumps into the ultra-non-desi Veronica (Deepika Padukone), a man-iser (if there is such a word) who could give Gautam a run for his money. Veronica takes Meera into her home and they become best friends. As fate would have it, shortly afterwards she also takes Gautam into her bedroom and they become live-in companions much to the discomfort of Meera who does not like him.

Sexually philandering men have always been the subject of comedy in Bollywood. Look no further than No Entry, Garam Masala and Housefull for examples. What makes Cocktail seem unusual is that it also gives us a philandering heroine but handles her too with a sense of humour … in the first half that is. When interval time strikes, she crumbles into a bundle of nerves and misery, desperate for the things women are expected to crave – salwar kameezes, marriage, the works – while the man remains a cool dude even when he falls in love, I suppose because that fits the film maker’s image of neurotic, frustrated spinsters and happy-go-lucky bachelors.

It’s possible that most audience members will not share my feminist concerns. However, it would concern everyone, I suspect, that the pacy first half of Cocktail with catchy, appropriately-placed songs gives way to a slowing-moving second half that almost completely loses its sense of fun and is filled with just too many boring songs! Worse, the dramatic transformation in each character’s emotions and behaviour is so sudden as to be almost inexplicable. Some of the Hinglish dialogues sound a tad unnatural and suspiciously like they are trying hard to be ‘cool’.

Deepika plays her part with elan in the pre-interval portion but in later scenes is done in by the confused characterisation that cashes in on a widely prevalent social stereotype. She looks stunning throughout, of course … Oh god, how does she maintain that waist?!!! Diana Penty has been well cast not only because she pulls off the staid, composed Meera, but also because she’s a looker to match Ms Padukone and actually resembles her to the point that they could play sisters in a film some day. The one who has the toughest part in Cocktail though is Saif whose Gautam could so easily have gone unbearably over the top … he comes across as being rather bizarre in his womanising methods at first, but I found myself gradually drawn to his crazy character. The high point of his performance – and of the film – has got to be the hilarious scene in which Gautam’s mother (Dimple Kapadia) meets Veronica and Meera with him for the first time. That’s the scene in which good direction, good writing, good acting and good casting all come together.

Director Homi Adajania has much to explain though. Why did he pace the second half of the film so differently from the first? Does he think sexual promiscuity is the only sign of a ‘liberal’ woman? Isn’t self-assurance the mark of true liberalism? Why did he chicken out in his portrayal of Veronica as the story progressed? Why does the film specify that Gautam is 32 years old? C’mon, I love Saif’s acting, but the actor doesn’t look a day below his 41 years; his real age is further emphasised in Cocktail by the fact that his two leading ladies are gloriously smooth-skinned, slim-waisted 20-somethings; and I can’t for the life of me understand why it’s so hard to cast a mainstream Hindi film hero as a character who is the same age as the actor is in real life! Saif is not alone in this. In the recent Agneepath, for instance, 38-year-old Hrithik was playing a Vijay Dinanath Chauhan who is supposedly in his late 20s! One more question for the team of Cocktail: did the heroine in tiny skirts, who smokes, drinks, consumes drugs and sleeps around have to be a Christian Veronica while the ‘good’ desi girl wearing long skirts and long-sleeved tops is a Hindu Meera? Hasn’t Hindi cinema evolved beyond this ridiculous stereotype that ruled the 1950s-80s? Or has it not? 

Well, that’s Cocktail for you … bubbly in the first half, boring in the second, pretending to be free-thinking but actually narrow-minded and stereotypical to the core.

Rating (out of five): **1/2

Language:                              Hindi

Censor rating:                       U/A



Photograph courtesy: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cocktail_(2012_film)        


Saturday, July 7, 2012

REVIEW 143: BOL BACHCHAN


Release date:
July 6, 2012
Director:
Rohit Shetty
Cast:
Abhishek Bachchan, Ajay Devgn, Archana Puran Singh, Asrani, Asin, Prachi Desai, Guest appearance by Amitabh Bachchan

Rohit Shetty does not know this but Bol Bachchan is actually a suspense thriller. So utterly over-the-top and exaggerated are Ajay Devgn’s lines in the film, that after a while I derived much of my enjoyment just trying to predict what his Prithviraj Raghuvanshi would say next. It’s all quite crazily ridiculous, but then that’s not such a bad thing in a world where we’ve got so much to be serious about. Prithviraj is a village pehelwan-type who is so in love with English that he massacres it every time he speaks. You’ve heard that his “chest has become a blouse” from the film’s promos. Do you also know that’s his way of saying someone has done him proud? When a young man interrupts a conversation between two older persons, Pratap chides him with, “When elder get cosy, younger don’t put nosy.” He also at one point doles out this wisdom: “Hard work is the keyhole to the saxophone.” There are dozens and dozens more where that came from!  

Yes yes, if you stop to think, it’s all quite silly, but the film’s leading men seem to be having such a good time that it’s hard not to be drawn into the madness. It starts off rather dull though – that’s when the writers get characters who know each other well to discuss their back stories with each other in a way real people never would. Perhaps they couldn’t think of a better device to give us a backgrounder. The story is about Abbas Ali (Abhishek Bachchan) and Sania (Asin), siblings from Delhi whose financial struggles prompt them to move to their uncle’s village of Ranakpur, Rajasthan. The uncle introduces them to his boss Pratap (Ajay Devgn) who offers Abbas a job … except that he does not know his employee’s real name because circumstances led to a lie as a result of which Abbas was introduced to Pratap by the name Abhishek Bachchan.

I’m not telling you more of the story, but since you already know that Bol Bachchan is a remake of Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s Amol Palekar-Utpal Dutt-starrer Golmaal, you may as well know this too: that while Utpal Dutt’s character hated men without moustaches, Ajay’s Pratap  in Bol Bachchan hates lies and liars; the Bindiya Goswami equivalent in this film is played by Prachi Desai who is Pratap’s sister; and a mujrewaali played by Archana Puran Singh steps into the role of Dina Pathak’s character from the old film. Bol Bachchan’s music by Himesh Reshammiya and Ajay-Atul is an absolute downer, which gave me an ache in the heart because Aane waala kal sung by Kishore Kumar for Amol Palekar in the old film is one of my all-time favourites! Know this too … that Hrishida provides only the skeleton for this film which is far far far removed from the understated mania of the original. Bol Bachchan is, in contrast, a comedy of errors completely in the Rohit Shetty mould with hard-core action scenes featuring fisticuffs and big cars against a background score that’s often too loud for its own good. But the overall effect, it has to be said, is quite a bit of fun.

It’s not often that Abhishek Bachchan relaxes and completely lets his hair down before the camera. Here though, Shetty has managed to get him to do both to good effect. When the actor performs “Kathak” it looks unforgivably like a blend of bhangra, garba and nothingness, but who cares, right?! Also, Bachchan jr’s transformation from Abbas to Abhishek to the third supposedly homosexual character he plays in the film is interesting because although his interpretation of “gay” subscribes to the stereotype, he stops short of being offensively caricaturish the way so many Hindi film portrayals of homosexual men have been.

Prachi is effective in a small role, and her designer for the film really needs to tell me where they went shopping for all those lovely outfits. Asin, on the other hand, is so marginal to the proceedings that she needs to do a serious rethink about the choices she’s making in Bollywood after having made such an indelible mark in southern Indian cinema. Asrani is endearing as ever.

However, the scene stealers in Bol Bachchan are Ajay Devgn and Archana Puran Singh. The latter is an absolute hoot as a woman struggling to play a sedate mother while being an incorrigible seductress in reality ... though it’s a sign of the industry’s inescapable sexist ageism that heroes in their 40s act as the lovers of heroines in their 20s without batting an eyelid, but 49-year-old Archana is considered “too old” to play 36-year-old Abhishek Bachchan’s sister, but the right age to play his mother! Ah well … if she doesn’t mind, why am I protesting on her behalf?!

It’s lovely to see Ajay’s evolution in comedy from the days when he deadpanned his way through David Dhawan’s Hum Kisise Kum Nahin to the rollicking time he’s having in Bol Bachchan. His acting, his characterisation by the writing team, and the absolute and deliberate defiance of logic in the writing and delivery of his dialogues are what make Bol Bachchan worth a watch.

For the most part, the director and the actors keep the pace just right … There are scenes that intermittently fall flat though, the most important of those being the one in which Abhishek and Ajay try to do a flashback to Amol and Utpal in the original Golmaal … nope, I’m afraid these gentlemen are not good mimics. What they are though, is having a blast. And surprise surprise, the film also has a neatly woven in message of secularism that comes in the form of the very backbone of the story – Abbas/Abhishek’s lie. Although it is stated loud and clear it does not for a second sound like lecturebaazi. Arrey waah, Rohit Shetty…aap se yeh ummeed nahin thi!

Rating (out of five): **3/4

Language:                              Hindi

Censor rating:                       U/A


Photograph courtesy: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bol_Bachchan