Friday, January 27, 2012


Release date:
January 26, 2012
Karan Malhotra
Hrithik Roshan, Sanjay Dutt, Rishi Kapoor, Zarina Wahab, Chetan Pandit, Arish Bhiwandiwala, Priyanka Chopra

Let me be honest and tell you right at the start that I’m not in love with the earlier Agneepath directed by Mukul S. Anand, produced by Yash Johar and starring Amitabh Bachchan. I realise that Bachchan won a National Award for it, but this is part of my least favourite phase in his career when he seemed not to have come to terms with his advancing years and had become a victim of his own image and stardom.
2012’s Agneepath produced by Johar’s son Karan is melodramatic no doubt. But the melodrama works in large parts because it’s got something the old Agneepath did not have. Someone, actually. Well, make that several someones … it’s got Hrithik Roshan who, unlike some of his senior male colleagues, seems refreshingly confident of his gracefully ageing face; it’s got debutant director Karan Malhotra who joins the ranks of the very few directors who know how to handle present-day Bollywood’s most beautiful man; it’s got Ajay-Atul’s rousing background score. Add to that veteran Rishi Kapoor effortlessly shedding his nice-guy image to deliver a typically under-stated performance as a cruel gangster, and Arish Bhiwandiwala playing the little Hrithik with natural ease, and you will know why I say that though I have many objections to Agneepath, I was still greatly affected by it.
Objection #1: the length. It’s not that entire scenes should have been removed from this film, but that at too many places especially in the second half, once a point has been made, the director still stretches the scene beyond requirement … by seconds and even minutes.
This applies most to scenes involving Sanjay Dutt playing the bad guy Kancha. Dutt relies less on acting skills and more on his physicality, make-up and camera angles to create a menacing persona ... and menacing it is, no doubt! But the script which so effectively develops Hrithik’s Vijay Dinanath Chauhan for us, fails with Kancha. Don’t give a back story if you don’t want to, but don’t give us a half-baked one in passing! Every time Kancha appears on screen, the film loses energy with its studied effort to build him up as a towering personification of evil ... with some slow motion thrown in, a long shot here, an extreme close-up there.
Objection #2: Priyanka Chopra’s role. If you need any evidence of how male dominated this industry is, watch one of India’s top female stars reduced to a minor player in this film. You may argue that a small role could be significant, but let’s face it, Hrithik is unlikely to play such a tiny part in a film that’s primarily a vehicle for its female star! Besides, it’s not the length of Priyanka’s role that’s disturbing, but its insignificance. Sure, she’s good while she’s there, but she’s hardly there! Why oh why did an actress of her stature and talent accept this film?!
Objection #3: the songs. Deva Shree Ganesha is nice and picturised on a lavish scale. Amitabh Bhattacharya’s mischievous lyrics in Chikni chameli are fun ... “Chikni chameli, chupke akeli, pauwwa chadha ke ayee.” But the rest of the songs are unmemorable and unnecessary.
The story remains faithful to the original: a boy witnesses his honest father – a village teacher and reformer – being framed and then killed by the drug lord Kancha in Mandwa, not far from Mumbai. The child grows up to be Vijay Dinanath Chauhan, right hand man of Mumbai don Rauf Lala (Rishi Kapoor). Kancha wants to rule Mumbai, Vijay wants to return to Mandwa to avenge his father’s humiliation and death. He is a victim of circumstances, moved by his parents’ ideals yet convinced that they are not for this world; an essentially good man whose bitterness is destroying him. Two important changes in this remake: Rauf Lala is a new addition and thankfully, the south-Indian-stereotype-ridden character of Krishnan Iyer MA (played by Mithun Chakraborty) has been done away with.
Agneepath 2012 is stylish, well acted, moving in many places, with engrossingly old-fashioned, well executed, chilling action scenes and a hero who makes you weep with him. Some people may find the violence too gruesome, I did not. The writers and director also show rare courage in making Hrithik and Priyanka appear for the first time about 40 minutes into the film, and yet it is arresting until then.
My problem with Agneepath is that in spite of its many powerful scenes, it didn’t form a cohesive whole for me. On the plus side, Karan Malhotra is clearly good with actors. For a while now, even as recently as Don2, the incredibly talented Om Puri has appeared disinterested in his films. Here though, as the upright policeman who reminds Vijay of his dad, he’s far more involved than usual. There’s a tenderness to Vijay’s relationship with the ACP and also with his father played by the ever reliable and likeable Chetan Pandit. In fact, the lengthy opening scene with young Vijay and schoolmaster Dinanath Chauhan is lovely, a confluence of good acting, a breathtakingly atmospheric location, excellent camera work and Piyush Mishra’s clever dialogue writing. When the boy is told that Mahatma Gandhi said an eye for an eye will make the whole world blind, he shoots back, “Mahatma Gandhi Mandwa mein paida nahin hue thhe.
Hrithik, for his part, is wise not to imitate AB senior. He is nearly a decade younger than Bachchan was in the original, and he makes Vijay Dinanath Chauhan his very own. Yes, we do get to see his fabulous body, but there’s nothing self-conscious about those scenes. And in Karan Malhotra’s able hands, he delivers a finely controlled performance which is enough to make you forgive Agneepath for the tedium intermittently caused by its length.
Rating (out of five): ***
CBFC Rating:                       U/A
Language:                              Hindi

Sunday, January 8, 2012


Release date:
January 6, 2012
Abbas Mustan
Abhishek Bachchan, Neil Nitin Mukesh, Bipasha Basu, Sonam Kapoor, Vinod Khanna, Omi Vaidya, Sikandar Kher, Bobby Deol

So as it turns out I had fun watching Players. Yeah, I wish it hadn’t lazily glossed over the intricacies of the plots hatched by Charlie Mascarenhas (Abhishek Bachchan) and his troopers. I wish the directors had dumped Pritam’s tuneless songs. I wish some of the acting and dialogues had been better. But the truth is that despite all this, the pace of Players is such that I enjoyed it.
The film, as you know, is the official Hindi remake of the 2003 Mark Wahlberg-starrer The Italian Job which was inspired by the 1969 British classic of the same name starring Michael Caine. It’s the sort of clever heist flick that would appeal to the team who identify themselves rather quaintly as “director duo Abbas Mustan” in their credits. Having entertained us over the years with films such as Baazigar and Race, the “director duo” have begun our New Year with a film that is riddled with loopholes but I still say is basic paisa vasool.
Story: Charlie wants to rob a heavily guarded train carrying gold bars from Russia to Romania. To gather a team of the world’s best crooks for the job, he needs the help of his mentor Victor-dada (Vinod Khanna). The old man has promised his daughter (Sonam Kapoor) that he will not steal again, but the gold could fund an orphanage he dreams of opening, so he agrees. Enter: con artist Riya (Bipasha Basu), illusionist Ronny (Bobby Deol), explosives expert Bilal (Sikandar Kher), wannabe actor Sunny (Omi Vaidya) and computer wiz Spider (Neil Nitin Mukesh). Not a word will I say beyond this about the story, because any word would be a spoiler.
Though the basic storyline of Players comes from the Hollywood film, Abbas Mustan add enough desi ingredients (lowwe, emoshan etc) to make it their own. This is not the sort of film that particularly challenges any actor’s skills, but within the constraints of  the genre and the not-so-sparkling screenplay, I enjoyed watching Bipasha the most, followed by Neil who swings from boyish innocence to villainy to eccentricity in an amusing fashion. Abhishek is best suited to films where he is a suave city boy, but no other director handling him in such a role has got him to ease up in the way KJo did in Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna. Having said that, the scenes in Players in which Charlie does voice impressions and wears Sunny’s lovingly fashioned mask are handled well both by the actor and directors – far better, in fact, than one such scene in Don 2!
Messrs Deol & Kher stare intensely at us throughout. I expected better of Kher considering the spark he showed even in that lost cause of a film with which he made his debut, Woodstock Villa. And while it’s appalling to see a young actor becoming a cliché with just a handful of films post-debut, in Players Omi Vaidya gets the best lines which he delivers with timing that actually overshadows the otherwise grating repetitiveness of his performance. “Sona kaha hai?” asks a villain desperate to retrieve his gold. “Yahaan bahut jagah hai, jaha bhi sona hai so jaao (or words to that effect),” replies Sunny, in the middle of one of the film’s most intense scenes.
The locations in Players are lovely, and the overall look of the film is slick. But finesse comes from bothering with details … such as the actors playing tiny roles. Vyacheslav Razbegaev makes a thoroughly enjoyable brief appearance as a Russian general with a fondness for sex and Raj Kapoor! But those Indian policemen guarding Victor-dada were a bad joke!
With all these reservations, I still won’t write off Players. Because Abbas Mustan and their screenplay writers Rohit Jugraj and Sudip Sharma give it so many unexpected twists and turns at such an unrelenting speed, that you don’t get much time to think about the gaping holes while the film is on. Q: How did Victordada manipulate matters while in jail to get to a fake hospital with fake staff? Q: Where did the Russians think their general was during the train robbery? Only those of you who have watched the film will understand my questions … my apologies to those who have not. Aur jaise haar kar jeetne waale ko baazigar kehte hai, usi tarah film enjoy karke phir bhi sochne waale ko critic kehte hai! So don’t think too much and you’ll probably enjoy Players in all its loophole-filled glory!
Rating (out of five): **3/4
PS: (1) Love the cars! Dear God, I don’t want gold, I just want enough cash to buy a Morris Cooper. (2) Why does Sonam get higher billing in the credits than Bipasha, though Bips is senior and has a more substantial role? (3) Yes boys, Bipasha does have a standard bikini scene in the film. Yes girls, the scene will make you insecure about your body! (4) For a change I was not put off by Johnny Lever. The episodes involving his firangi wife and servant are borderline racist, but also – I confess – hilarious.

CBFC Rating:                       U/A
Running time:                        160 minutes
Language:                              Hindi

Saturday, January 7, 2012


Release date:
September 30, 2011
Dev Anand
Dev Anand, Naseeruddin Shah, Milind Gunaji, Divya Dutta, Jackie Shroff, Aryan Vaid

Either I’m an emotional coward or I’m a softie. There can be no other explanation for why I postponed for so long this write-up on Dev Anand’s last film Chargesheet. I think my sentimentality and apprehensions both emerged from the second the Navketan logo came up on screen accompanied by the tune of Main zindagi ka saath nibhaata chala gaya which, as you know, comes from one of the legendary actor’s most memorable films, Hum Dono.

For a logo to conjure up such happy memories, to be followed by a desperately bad film like Chargesheet genuinely hurt. The film is of such dismal quality that I don’t know where to begin. Whatever be the reason, it’s a good thing that people of my mother’s generation had stopped venturing into theatres to watch Devsaab’s films in the past decade since it would have pained them to see this one.

Chargesheet begins in Dubai where a gangster called Sultanbhai (Naseeruddin Shah) is romancing a wannabe actress called Maria. No scene could be a more telling harbinger of things to come than the one in which the don is shown looking down from his window at his moll sunbathing in a swimsuit, while through the sheer fabric of her minuscule outfit we are given a glimpse of one nipple. In that single scene the audience gets evidence of the tragically pathetic quality and the ickiness to follow, since Maria is played by the worst actress possibly in the history of cinema, even the often impeccable Naseer hams to embarrassing effect and there’s more where that transparent swimsuit came from. 

The gist of the story is that Sultanbhai finances a Hindi film with the condition that his Maria should be its heroine. The lady travels to India for the shoot where a murder takes place at the hotel the cast is staying in. The needle of suspicion points towards several people since more than one of them had a motive to kill the victim. As it happens, retired Inspector General Gambhir Singh (Dev Anand) is at the same hotel, and he of course will not rest until he solves the case since he is himself implicated in it. Thrown into the mix is an innocent local girl called Chhamchham who earns money as a street entertainer but longs to be an actress, and a waiter at the hotel who loves her but can’t afford to buy her that one expensive lehnga that she covets.

This is an unintentionally funny film for many reasons but most of all because it felt like it was stuck in a time warp. I mean, when was the last time you saw a Hindi film character slap a woman and scream the words “besharam, behaya!”? Well, it happens here. One particular scene is so reminiscent of the old days that it’s stuck in my head forever – Gambhir Singh is close to solving the murder … he is ascending a hill in pursuit of the villain … the background score is gradually rising to a crescendo … the camera takes us to Singh taking a few steps up the slope … then returns to show us precisely that same shot of Singh taking a few steps up that slope … then returns again to that same shot of Singh … and it happens again and again … and again.

The makeup in Chargesheet is so bad that Chhamchham – played by a really bad actress called Devshi Khanduri – has got her face plastered with pancake except for the lower rims of her eyelids which seem to suggest that this is a dark-skinned woman with gorapan slathered on! Politician Amar Singh makes a guest appearance in a role that should forever be a reminder that he did well not to opt for a career in films! The music is so bad that it’s hilarious – if you ever meet me, do ask me to sing for you the title track Chaaaaargesheeet chaaaaargesheet chaaaaargesheet chaaaaargesheet! The policemen don’t lift fingerprints off the murder scene – instead they are instructed to take photographs of every spot on which they suspect there might be fingerprints! But the biggest joke of all is that this film has been distributed by Warner Bros. Why Warner, why?!!!!!

All this would have been highly amusing and nothing more, if the film had not been produced and directed by Devsaab. And so I felt a touch of sadness even as I laughed during the scene in which actress Maria is seated on the floor of a police station, wearing a tiny top with teeny shorts, the camera staying firmly focused on her as she sits there with her bosom barely covered and her legs spread out wide … and then when she leaves the room she does not walk out of the frame but runs right into that dogged, unmoving camera so that her bouncing breasts get larger and larger on screen until all we see is her skin before the next scene comes on.

To be honest, I might have avoided writing this piece completely if I had not promised the readers of my blog (and myself) that I’d review every single Hindi film possible that’s released in Delhi in 2011. And now that I’ve kept my vow, I’ll lay Chargesheet to rest, try to forget I ever saw it and dwell instead on the immense joy I got from watching Devsaab’s Hum Dono with Sadhana and Nanda when it was colourised and re-released as Hum Dono Rangeen in 2011. I wish I could transport you to Delite cinema in Delhi where I watched it, smiling, suppressing that silly lump in my throat that surfaced at the memory of seeing Hum Dono as a little girl with my family on Doordarshan in the days when DD was our primary source of entertainment, and I sang along with Main zindagi ka saath nibhaata chala gaya and Abhi na jaao chhod kar, and cried a little, and then a little more …

Rating (out of five): You know what, let’s just avoid this

CBFC Rating:                       U/A
Language:                             Hindi 

Wednesday, January 4, 2012


Release date:
December 30, 2011
Y.P. Singh
Rajiv Roda, Bobby Vats

However courageous you may be as a director, you have to make a feature film to be acknowledged as a feature film maker. Kya Yahi Sach Hai is about the corruption in the Indian Police Service, the unholy nexus between police, politicians, power brokers and bureaucrats, and the games they play involving sex, lies and money. Now this is nothing new to consumers of Bollywood – after all, Hindi cinema has explored this theme in numerous films for decades now. What gives this film the potential to be special is that it’s directed by former IPS officer Y.P. Singh and based on his book Carnage by Angels.

So yes, Kya Yahi Sach Hai is much richer in its detailing than many we’ve seen on the subject, with touches that could have only come from either in-depth research or an insider’s eye ... a minister’s sidekick bluntly tells a policeman the going rate for a coveted posting, “sponsorships” are sought from industrialists whose bidding these policemen will do once they get the seat they seek, someone refers to the IAS as the I Am Slave service, a top cop touches the feet of a state home minister pleading to be kept on in Mumbai, and that same minister brings an honest officer to Mumbai to clean up the streets but then finds the fellow’s straightforwardness too hard to handle. Unfortunately, none of this is enough to redeem Kya Yahi Sach Hai. The film can hardly be counted as either a feature or a documentary or a documentary feature. Because it is too weighted down by its poor production quality and amateurish script to count at all.

The film begins with a waiter at a party attacking a senior policeman’s wife and wrenching her gold necklace off her. Later, we discover that this man was filled with rage because that piece of jewellery had belonged to his late wife who had committed suicide when he snatched it from her to pay off a debt to a local gambling den which in turn had offered it as hafta to a junior police official who passed it on to the town top cop’s wife. When the waiter’s back story is narrated to him, a young IPS Officer called Raghu Kumar resolves never to take bribes. Little does he realise that his honesty could end up as the biggest roadblock in his career. As a parallel thread in the story, we are also shown the life of a fellow IPS officer who accepts money and sexual favours, and is willing to prostate himself before the Home Minister of Maharashtra if that will get him a posting or award he wants. Meanwhile, Raghu Kumar is humiliated with an inquiry, suspension and the public stripping of his badges and other IPS accoutrements by a junior.

Director Y.P. Singh had narrated his own personal battles against corruption in his book, so it’s clear that he’s telling his story here. In that sense, there’s no doubt it took courage to make this film. But I found it worrisome that while attempting to paint Raghu Kumar as a faultless officer, Kya Yahi Sach Hai seems to be justifying police torture – Raghu tends to thrash the shady characters he rounds up, giving just the right amount of ammunition to his enemies looking for an excuse to get rid of him. Is it this film’s position that such atrocities are acceptable because they are committed by an officer who does not take bribes?

Also, honesty is all very well, but this policeman seems naïve. While conducting raids on people who are obviously paying hefty protection money to his seniors, he has no strategy to counter the bosses’ inevitable rage when they find out. There’s a difference between honesty and foolishness, and deifying foolishness is hardly a good way to convince young people to hold on to their integrity!

These, of course, are debatable matters. What’s not debatable is that Singh’s message would have reached the masses if a more efficient film maker had directed this film. Most of the ‘actors’ in Kya Yahi Sach Hai ham with all their might, others are so bad that you can’t even call what they’re doing hamming. And the list of technical flaws is too long to post here. In the first chapter of his book, which is available on this film’s website, Singh quotes a fictional Head Constable Bhushan Sankhe recalling his past to Raghu Kumar: “All officers used to place their trust in me. My acumen for collection was over-powering. This, coupled with my honesty in money matters made me the most fitting entity for the prime charge of collecting bribes. My conduct was sincere and impeccable.” The matter-of-factness in that statement is delightful. I wish with all my heart that Kya Yahi Sach Hai had been a film I could recommend to you.

Rating (out of five): 1/4 (a quarter star for courage)

CBFC  Rating:                      U/A without cuts
Running Time:                      146 minutes
Language:                              Hindi

Photograph courtesy:

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


Release date:
August 19, 2011
Parvin Dabas
Parvin Dabas, Kuldip Ruhil, Vansh Bhardwaj, Ashish Nayyar, Sharat Saxena, Neena Kulkarni, Anupam Kher, Kiron Juneja Sippy, Yashpal Sharma, Tena Desae, Udit Khurana, Preeti Jhangiani

Opening scene ... A voiceover tells us that when gangsters want to finish off a member of a rival gang, there’s no better time to choose than the day of his incarceration or release from jail. You can’t be sure of the person’s location at any other time. The camera takes us to Rajbir (Parvin Dabas) who is leaving jail. While Narendra Pehelwan’s people wait for him at the front gate, he exits from the back where his friends are waiting for him. “Rajbirbhai, pichhwaade ke raaste se nikalne ke liye kitna diya?” one of them asks. “Bas, pichhwaada hi nahin diya,” he replies.

The tone is set. Actor Parvin Dabas makes a remarkably assured debut as the writer-director of Sahi Dhandhe Galat Bande produced by Preeti Jhangiani. This is the story of four small-time gangsters operating in the village of Kanjhawla on the outskirts of Delhi – Rajbir and his friends who are nicknamed Doctor (Kuldip Ruhil), Ambani (Ashish Nayyar) and Sexy (Vansh Bhardwaj). Rajbir’s release from jail coincides with an agitation taking place in Kanjhawla in protest against the acquisition of farmers’ land by the Delhi government under Chief Minister Jaya Gulati (Kiron Juneja Sippy) for a factory being built by industrialist Aggarwal (Anupam Kher).

I’d recommend that you pick up a DVD of Sahi Dhandhe to find out how the bad guys try to do the right thing for their people. What’s most appealing about this film is its simplicity and Dabas’ no-frills approach to his story that lends it a quality of realism despite being entertaining. Every episode in this film had the potential to go over-the-top, but at no point does Dabas cross that invisible line. And though the issue at hand is grave, Sahi Dhandhe has an understated and appropriate sense of humour, clever dialogues that don’t sound like dialoguebaazi or the kind of clichéd crudity that we’ve come to expect in all gangster flicks, and just enough elements to keep it both enjoyable and meaningful, emotional yet light.

My favourite scene involves Rajbir trying to make a speech to the farmers, which had me chuckling at the start but left me with a lump in my throat. Later, in one of the film’s most telling moments, a TV journalist from the city sticks her mike into a villager’s face and asks, “Aapke hisaab se Land Acquisition Act mein kya tabdeeli honi chahiye?” to which she gets silence and a blank stare in response. And one night during a boisterous drinking session, when the gang is trying to figure out ways of helping the villagers who don’t want their help, Ambani laments farmer leader Malik’s insistence that he will keep the movement non-violent and apolitical. “Na politics na thod-phod. Yeh toh saale sharaafat mein hi mar jayenge,” he says. Nice.

The unusually long actors’ list (above) that I’ve given in this review is my way of saluting casting director Honey Trehan. The gang of four are remarkable though I’m torn between Ashish Nayyar and Kuldip Ruhil as my pick of the quartet. Among the talented supporting cast, a special word needs to be said for Neena Kulkarni who looks, talks and feels the part of Rajbir’s foster mother who does not want him anywhere near her agitation; Kher who metamorphoses from the faintly oily fellow chatting with the CM on the phone to the dignified businessman imperceptibly making a pass at a troublesome female journalist; Sippy as the politician whose son is her weakness; Sharat Saxena as Rajbir’s boss Fauji in a role that is a departure from the slimy villain he’s played a zillion times; and Yashpal Sharma (Malik) thankfully playing something other than a bad cop or goon here.

Cinematographer Anshul Choubey matches the tone of subtlety that Dabas evidently wanted to achieve with this film. His camera moves from a suburban village to the CM’s upmarket residence to Delhi University and back without giving us any grand sweeping shots of the city, yet managing to capture its feel. I wish the lyrics of the film’s songs were a little clearer, but I enjoyed the unobtrusive use of the background score by Siddhartth-Suhas. And the sound design by Subash Sahoo is so clean that we actually hear Malik’s nails scratching his stubble in one scene.

Sahi Dhandhe is not without its flaws. The end struck me as too simplistic and not entirely credible considering what we’ve witnessed in Singur, Bhatta Parsaul and other long-drawn-out farmers’ struggles. And once the lead four had arrived at a decision about their exact strategy, I felt the film should have approached its climax more rapidly, for a greater impact. Also, while most of the primary characters have shades of gray, the farmers are all painted as uniformly good folk which to me was a jarring reminder of the regular Hindi film stereotype about big bad city folk and bechare kisaan. Still, Sahi Dhandhe Galat Bande is a gently engaging film, and I hope Parvin Dabas gets to write and direct many more films in the future.

Rating (out of five): ***

 CBFC Rating:                      U/A with three audio cuts (The Censor Board really needs to stop reading casteism into the inoffensive use of words describing professions. They actually got the film maker to remove the word “dhobi” from a song!)
Running time:                        120 Minutes
Language:                              Hindi


Release date:
November 18, 2011
Ejaz Ahmed
Rajbir, Kalpana Mathur, Gagan Kang

The nicest thing I can say about this film is that I’ve seen worse! Who’s There? Kaun Hai Wahan? is the story of a young man who is haunted by his bride’s dead ex-boyfriend. It all begins when they’re on their honeymoon and Sunny Malhotra (Rajbir) sees Jay (Gagan Kang) as the watchman of the resort where they’re staying, and then again, and again. Since Muskan (Kalpana Mathur) apparently doesn’t see what her husband is seeing, she can’t know that it’s Jay who appears before Sunny. After several traumatic experiences, the couple returns to their home city Mumbai where Sunny sees photographs of Jay with Muskan and identifies him as the ghost who is driving him up the wall. Muskan reveals her past to him at this point: that Jay had been heart-broken at the prospect of her marriage and had committed suicide, preferring death to seeing her as another man’s wife.

What follows may not constitute the most original story in the world, but the concept is sufficient for reasonably worthwhile spook fare. Unfortunately, the production values of Who’s There? are below par which of course spells doom for any effort to scare us. Besides, the film does not come up with a single stunt that we’ve not seen before in a ghost story ... there’s smoke, a spirit with inflamed eyes, a camera descending a staircase, bloody water (or was that meant to be blood?) flowing from a tap, a priest who can sense an evil presence, the usual stuff. And it’s really weird that they thought up an excuse to get the heroine doing a dance number in the middle of all her trials and tribulations … one night Sunny sees her cavorting around to a song with Jay, but as he approaches them Jay disappears, and Muskan seems not to have any memory of the episode.

Actor-turned-model Rajbir is the most interesting of the lead trio. Regular TV viewers might remember him from that convoluted television swayamvar called Lux Perfect Bride which ran on Star Plus. The guy has a decent screen presence and looks like he could be moulded into an actor worthy of our time by a superior director with a superior script. Gagan Kang plays the spectre in Who’s There? in the menacing way numerous actors before him have done, but perhaps it’s not fair to judge him by this since it would have been tough to come up with any unique moves when the script just didn’t demand it. I think I’ll wait to see him in another film to figure out his acting skills. Kalpana Mathur does not have an impactful screen presence, but I suspect her acting may be okay in a better film. That apart, I must say I find it commendable that in a white-skin-obsessed film industry, neither she nor her makeup artist or director have tried to camouflage her deliciously dark skin with glaring lighting or pancake.

But the inadequacies of the lead cast pale into insignificance when you consider some of the amusingly bad supporting actors, the sub-standard production and lazy screenplay they are up against. The secret of a good thriller is that when the truth is revealed in the end, every piece of the jigsaw must fit somewhere. But it appears here that in thinking up ways to mislead and frighten the audience, Ejaz Ahmed (who also wrote the screenplay) forgot to tie up some loose ends. For instance, anyone who sees this film will know why I ask: why did blood/bloody water flow from that tap in that kitchen that night?

In the midst of all this mediocrity, it boggles the mind that the producers took the trouble to hire the services of singers Sunidhi Chauhan, Shaan, Udit Narayan and Kumar Sanu for Who’s There? While Narayan and Sanu are going through a low phase in their careers, Chauhan and Shaan are certainly not, which means getting them would have cost some money. Considering that the songs are not particularly memorable despite the presence of these heavyweights, perhaps it would have been a better idea to spend that money on a more talented music director. Or here’s an even better idea folks! How about going songless and using the money thus saved to up your production quality?!

Rating (out of five): -5 stars

CBFC Rating:                       A
Running time:                        115 Minutes
Language:                              Hindi

Film still courtesy:

Monday, January 2, 2012


Release date:
December 9, 2011
Rakesh Jain
Jatin Khurana, Noopur, Akansha Shivhare

If I were a Hindi film heroine, I’d be yelling: Kya ghor anyaay hai yeh?! But since I’m me, I’ll tone it down, though the sentiments are the same when I say: O cruel world! A world that leaves undeniably talented actors Arjan Bajwa, Arjun Mathur and so many others like them struggling to earn a place in Bollywood while … hmmm, how do I put this kindly? … while talentless, personality-less  people such as Jatin Khurana get to be the lead in a full-fledged production that can actually afford to travel to Bangkok to shoot! It makes me furious!

In Ye Stupid Pyar, Khurana is Abhishek, a US-based professional visiting his parents in India. While on vacation, he falls in love with a dance instructor at his gym. Neha – played by an actress called Noopur – agrees to marry him after he pursues her for a while. On their wedding night she persuades him to get his company to transfer him to Bangkok, and on the very first day there, she disappears from their home. It turns out that Neha has a past hitherto unrevealed to Abhishek and the audience!

Ye Stupid Pyar is a romantic thriller, though if there was such a genre as cheap I’d be slotting it there. I should have known nothing good could come of this film from the moment I saw the first scene in which Abhishek enters his parents’ house, walks towards his father and you hear his voice saying “Oh papa,” but you can see his lips on screen move to the words “Oh dad”. If the production team of a film takes its audience so lightly that they don’t think we would notice such glaring errors, then why should we take it seriously?

But that’s not the worst of it – it actually goes further downhill from there! The hero, it turns out, is considered handsome by not one but two attractive girls. What else would you expect from ye stupid film in which an employee phones up his boss just a day before he is supposed to return from leave to his office in the US and casually asks to be posted elsewhere … and the boss equally casually stops to think for but a moment before he agrees? If this weren’t a fictional company, I’d be applying for a job there!

The film’s far-fetched story and screenplay are matched in quality by the hero’s acting which would not find him a place in the kindergarten play of a school worth its salt. Noopur and Akansha Shivhare look like they deserve better than those tacky sets, poor songs, pathetic makeup and lighting. But perhaps that’s their punishment for agreeing to do this film in the first place. In a world where top-notch young directors struggle to get decent budgets, it’s infuriating to see good money wasted on a film that seems to have been made as an indulgence!

Rating (out of five): -50 stars

Language:                              Hindi

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