Saturday, April 26, 2014


Release date:
April 25, 2014
Subhash Ghai


Mishti, Kartik Aaryan, Chandan Roy Sanyal, Rishabh Sinha, Mithun Chakraborty, Rishi Kapoor, Adil Hussain

It’s been a long time since I enjoyed a Subhash Ghai film. As a film reviewer though, it’s my job to be an eternal optimist, and I can vouch for the fact that that professional optimism often pays off. Not in this case though. Kaanchi – the story of a mountain girl who travels to Mumbai to avenge a loved one’s murder – is as insipid and insubstantial as all the films Ghai has been directing since Taal in 1999 (not counting the unfortunately unheralded Black & White in 2008). Truth be told, I’m not in love with Taal either but it was light years ahead of most of the films he’s been making since then; besides, it had Aishwarya Rai’s beauty, some lovely music and the fire ‘n’ ice of Anil Kapoor going for it. Kaanchi has, to use an acronym that’s popular these days, NOTA (none of the above).

The first half of the film is set in Koshampa, an idyllic village in Uttaranchal primarily inhabited by the families of retired or martyred defence services personnel. Among them are the firebrand Kaanchi a.k.a. Sigri (Mishti) and Binda (Kartik Aaryan), childhood friends destined for marriage. The powerful Kakda industrial family of Mumbai is eyeing their prized lands to set up a resort. Their artist son Sushant, meanwhile, falls for Kaanchi, which inevitably leads to a clash with the girl, and Binda.

Koshampa is beautiful as is newcomer Indrani Chakraborty who was assigned the screen name Mishti by Ghai, in keeping with his obsession with the letter M (after his success with Madhuri Dixit and Manisha Koirala, he re-christened veejay Ritu Chaudhry as Mahima Chaudhry for her Bollywood debut in Pardes). Mishti earlier played Prosenjit’s daughter in the Bengali film Porichoi. Kaanchi is her Bollywood debut.

Ghai knows how to highlight a woman’s loveliness. Mishti though does not yet have that X factor that put Madhuri and Manisha on the road to stardom. Some stars acquire charisma with age, so it’s only fair to give Mishti another chance, considering that here she is saddled with Ghai’s unimaginative writing, particularly the silliness of the ease with which Kaanchi brings down the Kakda family.

The problem with this film is that it’s full of itself, so impressed with its own camerawork, its national canvas and its director’s filmography. The presence of veterans Mithun Chakraborty and Rishi Kapoor as the Kakda brothers can do little to salvage Kaanchi. Kartik Aaryan who was impressive in 2011’s sleeper hit Pyaar ka Punchnama and even in last year’s lachrymose Akaash Vani, is fair enough in the acting department in Kaanchi, but he needs to be told that those body-baring ganjis just don’t suit his boyish face. Playing his bête noir Sushant Kakda is TV star Rishabh Sinha, an attractive guy who needs to work on his acting.

The only member of the cast who occasionally rises above Kaanchi’s lackadaisical script and direction is Chandan Roy Sanyal playing the heroine’s childhood friend who is now a corrupt cop in Mumbai. However, getting his character to narrate the story in flashback, and build up the girl into some sort of mythical character only further underlines the fact that this is a desperately ambitious film that does not get anywhere close to its grand ambitions.

Music used to be one of the strengths of Ghai’s films in the 1970s-90s, when he ruled the box office. Remember the memorable soundtrack of Karz or the success of Choli ke peechhe from Khalnayak? But even that department is a let-down here. Ismail Darbar and Salim Sulaiman have rolled out an uninspiring score for Kaanchi.

Nothing underlines the tragedy of the film more than the fact that Ghai thought it worth his while to feature Mahima Chaudhry in a guest appearance in one of Kaanchi’s lavish song and dance numbers. Guest appearances are meant to be pleasant surprises. Mahima just about made an impact in Pardes. Even back then it was hard to understand why Ghai was so taken in by her. How out of touch must he be with reality to think that her few-seconds-long appearance in this film, almost 17 years later, could generate an iota of excitement among the audience?

It’s always sad to watch the decline of a once successful artiste. Sadder still to write this review. There is just one word to describe Kaanchi: boring.

Rating (out of five stars): *

CBFC Rating (India):

Running time:
151 minutes 

Poster and trailers courtesy: Everymedia PR
First look trailer:                     
Video of Tu Sab Kuch Re:
Video of Thumka:
Video of Hindustan Kahan Hai:
Dialogue promos:

Related Link: 
Subhash Ghai interview by Anna MM Vetticad / Maxim magazine / November 2013

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