Superman Stats

Friday, 10 January 2014

Tintin's Top Ten: Bollywood films of 2013 Honorable Members




Tintin's Top Ten

Bollywood films of 2013

Honorable Members


So this list is a bit wonky, while I want it to be highlighted as a positive since most of the films here are those that might not either get the due they deserve or were good but just not good enough.

Then in the list, there's also the films that just flat out were okay but a disappointment in comparison to the hype they generated or the people involved in them.

Oh yes!

You must be thinking what the hell?!

Where's the best of the year list? 

As I said before, I'm looking to expand this feature this year. As such I will have a best of year list divided into three for the best 30 films of the year where as I also decided to include an extra ten as Honorable choices (this post). 

At first I was just going to list those films and give a short summary, but I felt compelled to expand on them because one of the films on this list was one that I enjoyed the first time I watched it and was disappointed by it the second time I watched it. Still I wont deny it wasn't fun (but illogical fun), and it has made a certain Dhoom at the box office *wink wink*.

Side Note: Instead of the what it did right/wrong method used in the worst list, I went a basic way and just analyzed the film top to bottom.

 So lets just get to the meat and bones...


10. Satyagraha-Democracy Under Fire

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/0/08/Satyagraha_poster.jpgDirector: Prakash Jha

Cast: Amitabh Bachchan as Dwarka Anand, Ajay Devgan as Manav Raghvendra, Kareena Kapoor as Yasmin Ahmed, Arjun Rampal as Arjun, Manoj Bajpai as Balram Singh, Amrita Rao as Sumitra Anand, Vipin Sharma as Gauri Shankar with Indrenil Sengupta as Akhilesh Anand and Mugdha Godhse as Malini Mishra

Genre: Social-Political Drama

Best Scene: A raging and stern Dwarka enters a higher officials meeting room and slaps him in front of everyone else. Pulled off by Bachchan with his swaggering presence and booming delivery.

Best Performance: Amitabh Bachchan as Dwarka Anand

Best Dialogue: 'Enough! Naukar hai aap janta ke! Aur batameezee bardasht nahi karenge hum!'-Dwarka Anand ('Enough! Your a slave of the people! We wont stand anymore of your shamelessness') slapping the official mentioned above. 

Pros:-The writers form a really great dramatization from the basis of the Anna Hazare/Arvind Kejriwal relation and situation
          -Dialogues are really power packed
          -Smaller subplots really add to the film overall
          -Key emotional scenes are really impact full on the viewers
          -Some great characterization for lead Manav
          -A typically awesome performance by Manoj Bajpayee, well handled work of a very layered character by Ajay and an inspirationally powerful turn from Amitabh Bachchan

Cons:-All recent Jha films seem to have similar base storylines but with just changed social issues
           -At times the writers and Jha's social message becomes heavy handed while at other times the film veers into stupid filmy moments
           - Manoj Bajpayee's villainous character seems to be written in a way as to typecast him. It is just the same role he played previously in Aakrosh.
           -Yasmin's character could have been much stronger, the half baked love story seems to kill what could have been a great modern female character dead
           -Kareena Kapoor doesn't help either with a lackluster and very fake performance, while Rampal seems a bit one-note
           -The editing and pacing of the film is quite shoddy, it stretches the film unnecessarily

 Score: 6.3/10 (Story-6.1, Direction-6.1, Performances-7.9, Background score/Soundtrack-4.9)


At nearly three hours long, Prakash Jha's Satyagraha becomes a tedious ride at the cinema. A film with immense information thrown at the viewer in either the most discreet manner or with a loud blare. Uneven at its core, Satyagraha is the slow and depressing proof that the director of classics such as Mrityudand, Gangajaal and Apaharan is becoming a caricature of himself. 

Blame it on casting stars, laziness or just better cinema appearing beside him but Jha's work is becoming a lengthy and very obvious decline into mediocrity. 

Even then, a Prakash Jha film still holds your attention like no other especially when its social issues are highlighted by the ramifications they cause to people  all round.

Loosely based on the Anna Hazare Anti-Corruption hunger strike and his relationship with protege Arun Kejriwal. 

The film follows retired school teacher Dwarka Anand (Bachchan), a man of unwavering morals and ideals. His son Akhilesh (Sengupta) is on the verge of completing a construction project under the government. When Akilesh discovers that the cement being used is cheap material, he decides to report against it but is brushed off in an accident by Politician Balram Singh's (Bajpai) brother and his men. Balram to avoid controversy declares a compensation for his family, which the governement is negligent and slow in paying. Dwarka realizes corruption is afoot and gets too involved eventually imprisoned. 

From there onwards Manav (Devgan) a high flying capitalist buisnessman and Akilesh's good friend decides to free the professor through social media and the help of Anand's former student Arjun (Rampal) and news reporter Yasmin (Kapoor). With his release, Dwarka along with Manav take a stance against corruption including a hunger strike by the retired teacher. A fight for true democracy begins that will either be crushed or bring the government to its knees and either Balram or Dwarka to their death. 

The core of the plot as aforementioned remains the exploration of the dichotomy between Dwarka and Manav. An initial scene where a aloof and money minded Manav gets Akhilesh drunk establishes the difference of views between the two men. Its bolstered by the fact that both Devgan and Bachchan create an aura of force around them that is reminiscent of the cliche immovable object meets an unstoppable force. Though don't let that fool you, there is considerable depth and development to both characters. 

For Manav, few quick scenes and an item song simply establish the kind of ambitious man he is, his only goal is the betterment of himself and his position in a fast moving corporate world. He has only has money on his mind and no time to think for the rest. When Akhilesh's tragedy strikes, you see a softer side a side he would have buried deep within him long ago. Both the writing and the actor establish an unsaid back story that easily captures the audience, he's first at the top where we wish we could be, he is emotionally weak and eventually at his core he is a far better person than we could have imagined early on. Manav is also the eyes to our story, he is the view through which we (in this case the youth) explore the strength of moral value under Dwarka Anand.

At first we see Dwarka Anand as just an old man blurting long forgotten and to us unnecessary values, things that shackle us from gaining the success we need in life. Peeling his character with great detail, we notice a spine, a force withing these moralities that can move the most rigid of obstacles and create a better future for the world. 

In a way Jha since his foray with Rajneeti and now with Satyagraha explores the need for a youth oriented movement against the injustices currently boiling in India. Taken into context, it gives reason as to why Jha uses both star power and filmy sensibilities to attract a mass of the youth portion to provide his message in the film. 

Issues follow with this, as Jha seems to speak to his own perception of  what the youth is. He has the screenplay packed with false emotionally charged moments besides tunes such as the absurd anthem 'Janta Rocks' and the rising but melodramatic 'Ragupati Raghav AKA Satyagraha', he fits in an oddly clunky romantic angle wasting what could have been a terrifically crafted female character. One who could have spoken volumes to his young female audiences, but instead becomes nothing more than an afterthought. He also includes snippets of social networking that move his plot along with a slick visual element, still for an odd reason they just seem to over the top and out of place.

Too top that off, to get his message across Jha handles it with such a heavy handedness and presents it in such a overt manner that it basically flows over the viewers head. This is the same issue I had with his Chakravyuh, where Jha dictated a lengthy reasoning of his film by the end credits that it made the whole viewing practically redundant. 

How can I also forget, that the script at its base is just a carbon copy of prior average but good enough Jha films such as Arakshan and Raajneeti. This is most evident in the negative characters in Jha's work specifically that of Manoj Bajpai. 

His Balram is a mustache twirling villain of a trope as similar to both Mithilesh Singh (Aarakshan) and Veerendra Pratap (Raajneeti), the difference being that this time round Balram falls prey to a larger highlight of his caricature characteristics. 

Still what Jha does best is dialogues, here they hold that sense of depth with each dialogue highlighting the brewing political powerplay and the changing views of the characters. They also hold the audience with their filmy intensity. Jha renders these dialogues on screen like no other, visually stunning the audience into an apt reaction.  

It helps to aid the emotionally powerful scenes whether it be an old woman and her hungry children confronting Dwarka on his crusade causing more harm to the poor like her than him. Which eventually results in the climatic hunger strike. Or the somber yet dramatically loud death scene and the subsequent final confrontation between Manav and Balram. 

Each such scene with its dialogue and drama and performances holds the viewers interest, and its all thanks to Jha stringing it together in an appealing form.

On that note, the film is bolstered as I said by a superstar yet very accomplished cast. Unfortunately it's surprising unsurprising that the performances range from excellent to pathetic. 

Amitabh Bachchan is his typical dependable self. Bad script, good script or no script, there's no way at the level he is in that it's possible that he churn out a poor performance. In this case, Bachchan holds the fort with some evocative dialogue delivery and a penchant to bring out a mighty presence even in the face of adversary. While riddled with a sense of melodrama, watch out for him in the death scene as his weakening body crumbles in Manav's arms, his expressions shift with ease from pain to beaming pride and a poignant bliss of freedom. 

Along with him, Devgan stands tall in a role tailor made to suit him. He handles himself well and creates a boiling and endearing chemistry with Bachchan, playing off him very well especially the early scenes. He fits into the skin of a brash, driven and selfish Manav as easy as he does into one determined, honest and feisty one. His delivery with that deep husky voice clearly defines the heroic qualities Jha adopts into the picture. 

I mentioned how Bajpai seems to essentially play the same character in each of his ventures alongside Jha. There's a reason he is given these roles, Bajpai just exudes that slimy and slinky snake like character that Balram is. He has a knack for great comic timing especially coupled with his over the top yet equally restrained delivery, watch the scene where he traps Manav in front of a railway track and gives him a hilarious yet sinister warning. 

Arjun Rampal even with a watered down character is a bit one note, for a performer of his calibre he requires a really complex and well rounded character to give a competent performance. Here it would have been a bit redundant to do so yet it would have not only gotten another potential National Award winning turn from Rampal, but would have highlighted the other side of the situation. The angry not so well off youth, who is on the right path yet sort of misguided in values. 

The biggest disappointment however for me is Kareena Kapoor. She has grown leaps and bounds as an actor over the year, for a while she is given a really strong character work with from which she could have added her own dimensions too knowing her potential. As such its hard not to overlook her disinterest or simply easier handling of her role and taking a soft backseat to her male co-stars, harder work could have propelled her performance the way it had in Omkara where she could have easily also been an afterthought. There she showed her potential, he she shows her laziness if that is the right word to use. 

I've mentioned how idiotic on a musical front this is. It has always been his weakest point, I especially wish that Jha would stop including the obligatory B-Grade styled item songs to his films as they diminish any credibility his film hopes to accumulate. 

(For this top ten I've added a new feature where I voice my final verdict of whether I was disappointed, surprised or content with the film) 

Verdict: Disappointed.

Jha can and has done far better than this. His downfall began with the great if not excellent Rajneeti and seems to continue here. Hopefully he can recapture some of the substance in his films without having to compromise his agenda to aware the youth of these situations. 

His current formula doesn't seem to be working as when I watched the film on first day, I was with only a handful of viewers mostly consisting of an elder crowd. 



9. Commando

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/d/d4/Commando_%282013_film%29.jpgDirector: Dilip Ghosh

Cast: Vidyut Jamwal as Captain Karanvir Singh Dogra, Pooja Chopra as Simrit Kaur, Jaideep Ahlawat as Amrit Kanwal/AK74 with Jagat Rawat as MP and Darshan Jariwala as Major

Genre: Action

Best scene: Jamwal vs. The Foreign hitman, while it does create a convoluted climatic sequence. A fight scene is welcome anytime, just to see Vidyut Jamawal pull of his own awesome stunts.  

Best Performance: Jaideep Ahlawat as Amrit Kanwal/AK74

Best Dialogue: 'Tera adhura chutkula sunte jaa. Toh Banta ne Santa se kya kaha ke woh margaya? DISHKYAON!'-Dogra, as he kills the villain ('Listen to the end of your joke before you die. So what was it that the brunette told the blonde, that she died right there? BOOM!')

Pros:-From start to finish the film is an action packed thrill

          -The script grips you early on with its light but meaningful political subtext

          -Action choreography is a highlight. Because Jamwal does his own stunts it allows the cinematography crisp focus in the fight scenes 

          -Ahlawat is a show stealer from his first scene

          -Jamwal exudes a brilliant aura of force (pun intended). He has stunning screen presence and performs his stunt to pure perfection

         

Cons:-The climax gets too convoluted by the deus ex machina trope, multiple deaths and the addition of extra obstacles.

           -At the same time the director executes the films message poorly, such that unlike earlier it feels tacked on

           -The plot is also not wholly original, borrowing elements from the likes of Rambo

           -Plot is also flimsy, illogical and generic as expected

           -Balance of elements is off, the romantic angle is half backed where as the comedy is tonally distracting

           -Pooja gives her worst impression of a chirpy Kareena Kapoor

           -For a commercial film, the music is shoddy

Score: 6.4/10 (Story-6.2, Direction-6.5, Performances-7.7, Background score/Soundtrack-5.1) 


Dilip Ghosh's Commando is an all out action film in vein of Hollywood styled classic with Bollywood spice.

Karan (Jamwal) a Commando of the 9 Para Commandos of the Indian Armed Forces in a routine helicopter exercise  gets into an accident that causes the Helicopter to crash into Chinese territory. With the Helicopter sinking into the sea and no evidence of his innocence, Karan is declared a spy and imprisoned by the Chinese forces. On the homefront, the government refuses to acknowledge Karan as one of theirs and he faces brutal torture to reveal his presumed real motivations and allegiance to India. 

When being transferred for his court mandate, Karan attacks his captors and escapes soon reaching Himachal Pradesh. Here he meets Simrit (Chopra), a on the run girl from local political goon AK74 (Ahlawat) who wishes to wed her. Honor bound to protect her, Karan gets into a scuffle with AK74 and his men eventually resulting on him and Simrit going on the run. 

Vowing vengeance for his embarrassment at the hands of Karan, AK74 begins a deadly chase to spell doom on the couple. Unfortunately for him, he doesn't know that he's picked a fight against one of the toughest men in India; An Indian Military Commando. 

From the onset you know this is going to be more different than your average masala action film. In an age of South Indian remakes turning into mass potboiler action masala films for a family audience, Vipul Shah produced and gave backing to a very dark, faithful and somber remake to Tamil film Kaakha Kaakha with John Abraham starer Force. Here he does the same in Commando. 

We begin with the Para Commandos training and eventual capture of lead Jamwal by the Chinese. We then go onto see a visually appealing yet brutal torture scene that thankfully leaves few things to the imagination. It firmly establishes itself as something different from the action films we've been used to in the past few years. Then after that we also get an introduction to the special skills and stunt work that Jamwal brings to the proceedings.

From there on the film falls to a bit off a dip, the major situation at hand doesn't seem threatening enough for our military man who initially proves his might. It renders the title into just a hollow word dictating the action film and makes the script meander for its run-time. Even the screenplay fails to straddle a line for the villainous AK74 between under the surface menacing and comically evil. His constant barrage of jokes don't help either. 

Still for such a film I was witness to some surprising substance. There's the underlining political subtext regarding the difference between the honor code of a military man and the power-play required for politicians to salvage their own standing as well as that of their countries, it's highlighted as an evil act when Karan is left for the dead by his government but when viewed from a disengaged point it's presented as a necessary evil. 

There's also a very intriguing song sequence, one that I may be reading into too much. The mentioned sequence is a song for the villain, in fact it even includes a dream sequence where in which he sees her dancing happily for her. It also brings to front his mannerisms, where he stalks and forces in a metaphorical sense himself upon her. Here we can take it in a negative context and chastise him for his methods as we should, she also doesn't respond the way he sees fit. Yet when it comes to mainstream masala films, the same methods are typically applied by our heroes who eventually succeed where the villain here fails. No matter if the hero is a good guy (that's to us cause we see the film from his viewpoint), but for the girl he is repeating the same methods as AK74 does in this film. 

It's an intriguing method of character exploration and storytelling where it's easy to paint the attributes in a way to extract the right reaction and emotion needed from the audience. But at the end of the day both methods are same and both are wrong.

 As such was this a finger to the regressive sexism rampant within masala films or am I just reading into it too much? 

There's also other small tidbits such as a Singh is King poster dictating a forced marriage between Simrit and AK74 or a Force poster being torn apart when our hero throws the villain across it. Not depth filled but fun easter eggs, considering that the producer Vipul Shah is also the producer of the other two films. 

And of course the fact that a whole scene is set to establish that Karan isn't going just to willfully protect Simrit, rather he teaches her to use a weapon and protect herself.

Of course being a sort of masala film itself, the script and story have a lot of problems to it. Majorly this is the issue of dialogue which at times is filmy but is mostly rife with exposition. Everything is constantly explained to the viewer or actions are indirectly dictated by the characters. There's also the obvious mention of the title of the film done here in the most unintentionally hilarious way when Jariwala's Major character reprimands the minister on his actions (of abandoning Karan) by stating how Karan will fight because he's a Commando. Commando being repeated one too many times. 

Music pops up at the most inconvenient time including a cringe inducing romantic track disorienting the tense second act. Of course the leading lady has to be bubbly and chirpy, oddly conflicting against the situating specifically when she gives a hearty chuckle just hours after her families death just so as to quickly round out the film. 

Of course there's the fact that being an action film the focus has to be on action and not high quality character work or story development. In this front the film excels and how. 

Vidyut Jamwal brings his professional and stellar brand of action choreography to the work, making each action set piece stunning and bolstering it with great finesse. It works best for the cinematographer that Jamwal does his own stunts, it allows him to keep a zoomed lens rather than taking far shots to hide stunt man. The camera works in the trenches pulling off some mean and hard hitting shots but packed with crisp visuals that please the eye. 

The director also gives off a vibe that the film is sequel bait (writing off now, the film does have a sequel lined up). This is bolstered by the reoccuring plot of the Chinese trying to take down Karan once they found out he has resurfaced. 

As aforementioned the villain isn't a major threat, especially in the physical department. As such what seems like a sequel villain in the form of an assassin is rushed into the climax as a man willing to take on Karan before AK74 faces him. It muddles the plot but also does give us another scintillating action sequence revolved around Jamwal's exceptional martial arts work. 

Coming to the performances. With a very focused plot, theirs really only three actors to look at. First up is debutant Pooja Chopra, who carries herself with confidence but is essentially to over the top as a poor mans Geet (Kareena Kapoor bubbly and chirpy character from Jab We Met). 

Jamwal as the main attraction does well in the action department as expected and does give off that larger than life action hero feel. If he can refine his acting skills to a great level from okay then he can surely go on to prevent himself from being typecast or bring some much needed acting depth to generic action films. 

However the real highlight is Jaideep Ahlawat. Yes his character is a bit one note and less threatening, but Ahlawat's performance is so gleefully chilling that you fail to give a damn about the characterization in the end. He chews scenery like a pro and just lightens up the screen every time his in the frame.  Your glued to the screen every time he does something or speaks and you can't help but be mesmerized by the way he works with his expressions with the full ghost white eyes of his character.

I explained how the music appears illogically, it would help if the said music was any good unfortunately apart from fitting with its Punjabi setting, the music is downright horrendous to listen to. 

Verdict: Surprised

I expected a low budget but eventually disappointing Masala film. I came out enamored by the minute depth in the script and what is essentially a movie saving performance by Ahlawat. The under-appreciated leading man of the first third of last years Gangs of Wasseypur just elevates the film onto another level with his performance. Catch this if your an action aficionado. 


8. Nautanki Saala

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/0/0f/Nautankisaalaposter.jpgDirector: Rohan Sippy

Cast: Ayushmann Khurana as Ram Parmar/RP, Pooja Salvi as Nandini Patel, Kunaal Roy Kapoor as Mandar Lele, Evelyn Sharma as Sita Suryavanshi, Gaelyn Mendonca as Chitra Singh and Abhishek Bachchan as Himself


Genre: Romantic/Comedy
Best Scene: In the car ride when Mandar Lele realizes that his grandmother was responsible for his break-up, Kunaal's expressions are worth watching.


Best Performance: Kunaal Roy Kapur as Mandar Lele


Best Dialogue: nothing in particular


Pros:-The first half portion is laugh out loud hilarious

          -The writing creates interesting and somewhat plausible situations for characters to go through

          -The film hinges on the chemistry of its male leads and their sensational performances

          -Some of the supporting cast and an influx of great expression based comedy

          -The romantic tracks are all soothing to hear     



Cons:-Characters are very sketchily written especially their decisions at times don't feel realistic enough in film, it seems while creating obstacles the writers leave a lot of gaping plot holes

           -The second half falls into a typical love triangle plot

           -Dialogues aren't memorable         

           -Abhishek Bachahan's cameo seems self indulgent and the actor plays it with disinterest

           -The female characters are given limited roles with shoddy writing, and the actors portraying them don't perform that well either

           -While the tracks are soothing, the aren't memorable. There are too many remixed songs  

Score: 6.5/10 (Story-5.9, Direction-6.4, Performances-7.7, Background score/Soundtrack-6.1) 


As you may notice, the films score has been considerably lowered from the last time I reviewed it. The pros and cons haven't changed, it's instead because at the end of the year I put the film into context with the others and it fell woefully short. On top of that I rewatched it twice and I found it worse than before, my previous score might have been higher because I was still riding the post Vicky Donor Ayushmaan Khurana bandwagon.

Anyways now that I've got that out of the way. 

Nautanki Saala!  revolves around the Nautanki (drama) of theater actor/writer RP's (Khurana) life when one man enters it, the suicidal Mandar Lele. Essentially a nice guy, RP tries to help him and get him on his feet. But with Mandar around tragedy is definitely not far behind, whether it be giving him illegal morphine or trying to help him woo the love of his dreams; Nandini. Nandini, the only thing on RP's mind and unraveling romantic tale between RP and her complicates things. As Mandar finds out, there begins the true Nautanki with RP stuck as the Saala (Idiot) in between everything. 

So as I mentioned, I watched the film another few times picked up a lot more details. What I really liked after looking at the year in comedies in retrospect is that Saala kept it very subtle and captured the European/French style of Apres Vous (the film it's been remade from), it wasn't in your face like a lot of comedies this year. It was also not crass, yet has a certain sensual sexuality about it highlighted by the three striking leading ladies of the film and the dashing representation of the two male leads. 

It's that physical style of comedy that works so well for the film in its first half, even though not mandatory it has a certain stance of show don't tell type of storytelling and acting about it. Scenes are lit up with laughter by the subtlest of movements, expressions by the actors and lighting and camera work by the directors team. 

Examples are the aforementioned scene where the camera is at focus on Mandar's grandmother revealing the truth to RP about how she broke up Nandini and Mandar, the camera angle is placed in such a way that the audience eye also partially strikes at a Mandar in the back seat raging and seething with some really over the top expressions. 

There's also a scene where RP contemplates who he should cast for the role of the God Ram in his play, while Mandar walks out of the toilet basked in the white light of morning. 'Jai Shree Ram' blares through the speakers as we see Mandar as Ram from RP's POV, but if you notice closely Mandar himself is doing a odd slap in the air with a befuddled expression across his face. The camera eases in on him and the lights fade as we realize he's idiotically swatting a house fly. 

At these points the comedic touch ironically does what the writing as a whole fails to do; give levity to these very approachable characters. Here's a man previously on the verge of suicide and loves his grandmother, simply creating mind boggling expressions at the decisions he's made and at things that should have held no value anymore. Instead it adds reason to believe that he needed to live to learn some of this, yet he also doesn't abandon his suicidal ideas but is gradually worked towards living by RP. 

RP himself is also worked in by the necessities of plot rather than any writers inclination to add weight to his character. Here is a man who were constantly told is a good person, that's all we have for character and maybe for the sake of it lets say back story. From there on we see him be a morally sound guy and a nice man too Mandar, someone he just only saved from suicide when a normal person would have let him die. The only real depth is when he has to decide doing good as his nature or try to salvage or create good for his own selfish reasons whether it be to focus on his relationship with Chitra or be true to Nandini against Mandar's own prior ambitions. 

It's the situations here that help develop a morsel of character to its two men. Let's not even go into the female character, their basically prop dressings and reasons to instigate issues especially that of the final one revolving around the RP-Nandini-Mandar triangle. 

This is where my major issue lies, after dancing around the film and then the larger scope of the narrative for its runtime the final problem between protagonists seems poorly constructed and assembled towards its end and easily solvable. Yes the film tries to provide a sense of realism with these three not so easily ready to speak their hearts, but once the flashback framing device ends that part is also solved without any reasoning. 

This is such that, the climatic and comedic romantic sequence is undone and basically fizzles rather than creating a bang.

There's also surprisingly no real great dialogues, for a film so drenched in drama as is with RP's work place, it's fairly disappointing to see that the theatrics especially in dialogue are lacking when compared to the much stellar job of costuming with the play.

Once again let's get to my favorite part cause I don't really have much to say about Sippy's work except that he does a competent job as usual. 

The Performances! There's that real zing in the chemistry between Khurana and Kapoor that just ups the entertainment of the film. The two actors really play well off each other creating a vibe that totally demolishes the chemistry less romantic pairings between the likes of Khurana and Salvi or Mendonca. It's a two way street of course and as such it's easy to see that Khurana with a less interesting character and full on straight man compared to Vicky from Vicky Donor, is not well enough to shoulder the film. He requires his funny man Kapoor, who also does require Khurana. The two give good individual performances but make a dynamic duo when on screen together. 

As for their leading ladies, each one is passable none adding anything to the equation really. Salve is very slow and blunt in her dialogue delivery she retains a mopey expression throughout the feature though I think the fault is of her eyes, Mendoca is unmemorable and the only good thing about Sharma is that at least she doesn't get to talk much or isn't as annoying as she was in Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani in the same year. 

Abhishek Bachchan also makes a cameo as a friendly gesture to Sippy, but fobs his short performance with a visible lack of interest. 

The remix music is catchy but overall just a self promotion and highlights a sense of laziness within the music department. The stand outs here are two soulfully and well placed songs sung by Khurana himself. Sweet and frothy both 'Mera Maan Kehne Laaga' and 'Saadi Galli Aaja' will enchant the viewer. Especially with the visual flare Sippy adds to them. 

Verdict: Content 

While the score obviously fell down, I guess it had to cause of my inner blindness by the Khurana hype. There's no doubt he's a talented and finely tuned actor but Saala! isn't Vicky Donor. 

That's not a bad thing and it isn't even fair to compare them. 


Saala is one of the better comedies you'll find this year but just don't look for it too hold your interest post interval. The curse of the second half rears its ugly head because of this there are definitely better, intriguing and challenging romantic films out there worth watching from 2013.


7. Chor Chor Super Chor


http://cdn.koimoi.com/wp-content/new-galleries/2013/07/Chor-Chor-Super-Chor-Movie-Poster-Pic-1.jpgDirector: K Rajesh

Cast: Deepak Dobriyal as Satbir, Priya Bhatija as Neena, Anshul Kataria as Roni, Paru Uma as Parul, Alok Chaturvedi as Munna, Brahma Mishra as Vava, Nitin Goel as Namdev, Jagat Rawat as Amol, Chandrahas Tiwari as Purshotamdas with Megh Pant as Musa and Avtar Sahani as Shukla Ji

Genre: Crime Caper

Best Scene: When the team of thieves present their reality show Chor Chor Super Chor to a channel so as to subvert the said channels video exposing their real robbery. They turn themselves from thieves into reality show hosts in a minute

Best Performance: Deepak Dobriyal as Satbir

Best Dialogue: I really can't remember any of the dialogues. Though I'm not saying that there might not have been any good ones. 


Pros:-The first half is entertaining thanks to some comedic silent moments

          -The supporting cast is good, the chemistry between the actors is fine tuned

          -Dobriyal is a sensation and elevates the terrible script

          -Background score is utilized effectively



Cons:-The second half lags and tries too become a bit too filmy and generic in plot

           -Narrative pacing is oddly quick and disjointed, it also doesn't help that the editing is clunky

           -For a comedy, the screenplay and dialogues are a bit bland

           -There are multiple plot holes in the script

           -Some actors specifically Jagat Rawat tend to overact

Score: 6.5/10 (Story-5.9, Direction-6.3, Performances-7.7, Music-6.1)


Before I talk about the movie, I'd like to say wow! for that really fun opening sequence that highlighted the different kinds of robberies in this world. Entertaining to watch. 

Satbir (Dobriyal) for years on end has been slogging it in the gullies of Delhi as a small time thief under the tutelage of Shuklaji (Sahani) alongside many a character. He's decided to finally quit and begin for himself a life of honesty and hard work. This leads Neena (Bhatija), it's instant love and drives his determination to be a righteous man. 

Unfortunately for him Neena has a fascination with thieves, and with his help she uncovers a bit too much that gets Satbir and his friends in hot water. To save themselves, Satbir creates the hilarious reality show Chor Chor Super Chor and becomes a sensation. But for these Delhi thieves their reality is not far behind. 

I didn't really have any expectations for the film since I hadn't heard much about it, and when I did it was how the film is poorly written yet terrifically performed. Yet this is a one time worth watch. 

Like with many Bollywood movies, the film is worth watching for an entertaining first half. Here the comedic scenes have a certain silent era comic flavor to them. Scenes such as Satbir following Neena through a mall in the garb of a large samosa are highlighted by the actors hilarious expressions and the non existent score. 

With the film set in Delhi, there's the typical language and style of speaking that is adapted well. By now however we've had such a high influx of Delhi based comedies celebrating the city, that this doesn't feel as fresh. There's nothing that generally makes you laugh when spoken.

The only time you are really invested in the words are between the pack of thieves who have been given a great characteristic union. It makes the viewer feel your watching the actors as a close knit group that has know each other for years, yet even from an outside perspective you can be engaged by their banter. 

It's the second half where the screenplay begins to lag. The main ploy (and the reason for the films title), their trick Reality show is unique and interesting yet it doesn't keep the viewer invested because the script decides to derail itself into a generic form and the screenplay oddly changes tone becoming filmy. The filmy example being a lip sync song where Satbir tries to convince Neena of his love for her.

This also applies to the character work, why we should care about these people is never highlighted. Satbir does get a bit depth, but we began with him when he was reforming so basically the viewer is not so fully aware of his thought process and background regarding his characters motives (eg. as to why he's quitting the thieving business).  

Still in parts the sketches and mostly the reality scam are a laugh riot. This all due to the performers involved. Most of the thieves act out their part well, as mentioned their chemistry is well highlighted by the writing and is aptly supported by how each actor plays of the other. 

But the real showstopper is Deepak Dobriyal. An actor with immense talent, Dobriyal is well ahead of the director and scripts demands. He gets each and every characteristic of Satbir correct, right down to the tee. The expressiveness he brings to the table whenever he sees Neena or realizes his been betrayed, the swagger as he shows her up and the charisma and comedic timing when he handles the reality show. Dobriyal is a full on entertainment package that just pushes the film towards its betterment.

Verdict: Content

I didn't come in expecting anything and I wan't impressed either, this was a typically great and expected performance from Dobriyal. Scene stealing in every way. The other unknowns did well. It's a fun film but not so much a funny film to watch. 

Here's a link regarding Dobriyal and how his talent is far being wasted and not acknowleged by many a director even HIndie (Hindi Independent) in Bollywood; 

http://jaiarjun.blogspot.in/2013/08/deepak-dobriyal-and-unsavoury-samosa-on.html


6. Bullet Raja

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/b/b6/Bullett_raja.jpgDirector: Tigmanshu Dhulia

Cast: Saif Ali Khan as Raja Mishra, Sonakshi Sinha as Mitali, Jimmy Shergill as Rudra Tripathi, Chunky Pandey as Lallan, Ravi Kishan as Sumer Yadav, Gulshan Grover as Financer Bajaj, Raj Babar as Minister Ram Babu Shukla, Vidyut Jamwal as Inspector Arun Singh Munna with Mahie Gill in Item Song and Sharat Saxena as Rudra's Uncle

Genre: Masala

Best Scene: Munna's introduction in Chambal, not only does it remind you about Dhulia's Paan Singh Tomar, but Jamwal gets to show off his magnetic action skills in a film that has thus far been mediocre in that department. 

Best Performance: Jimmy Shergill as Rudra Tripathi

Best Dialogue: 'Brahman rutha to Raavan!'-Raja ('If the Brahman is angered, then he can be the devil', Masala film dialogues do not translate well in English)



Pros:-Albeit being flawed, as a whole the film is entertaining

          -Dialogues are crackling and the backbone of the film, they also retain the authenticity of its setting

          -Raja is given a great character arc, his relation to Rudhra is well developed

          -Brownie Points for Tigmanshu Dhulia in at least trying to come out of his comfort zone to make a commercial film

          -Dhulia brings his rustic aesthetic and sub-textual analogy (whether it be caste systematic or the political nexus) to the film making it more smarter than normal masala movies, he also does this such as both aspects are balanced well

          -The cinematography capture the grim sense of UP while also attaining a good sheen for a commercial feature

          -Jamwal's personal work is much better than the all round action choreography 

          -Khan gives the film a certain charismatic presence and performs aptly, his chemistry with both Jimmy and Sonakshi is stellar. Even with Jamwal in their limited scenes together 

          -It is however Jimmy who steals the show in its first half and Jamwal who overpowers it in its second

         



Cons:-The films narrative tempo doesn't hit the right notes, it is also quite clunky and in cohesive even the climax reveal feels down

           -The script is unimaginative and leaves a lot of its depth for its actors to embellish with their performances

           -As expected for a masala film, the other character work is short handed. The film is littered with archetypes while what could have been a great character in Sumer Yadav is left hanging

           -The film overall feels poorly planed. The director doesn't grasp a tight ship, its all over the place and the editing, production design and camera work is a bit abysmal. The film could have worked wonders even with only 20 minutes less.

           -The director also struggles to bring together his masala elements and work with its star presence

           -Action scenes move too quickly and the flow is too smooth for the rustic flavor of the film 

           -Sonakshi's performance is repetitive and her delivery is poor

           -Music while fitting with the setting, is uninspired. The background score's don't really elevate the necessary emotions and its main track only gets traction in the films climax

Score: 6.5/10 (Story-7.3, Direction-4.9, Performances-8.2, Background score/soundtrack-5.5)


Tigmanshu Dhulia director of rustic nothern flavored politically/socially sound classics such as Saheb Biwi aur Gangster, Haasil and Paan Singh Tomar enters into the foray of mainstream masala films with his Saif Ali Khan starer Bullett Raja.

Raja Mishra (Khan) is a jobless Brahman man, in the beginning (the films scintillating credits) he gets into a scuffle which forces him to enter a wedding procession to hide from his chasers. Here at the wedding he meets Rudra (Shergill) and an unbreakable friendship is struck. When Rudra's uncle is ambushed by one of their own, Raja comes to his rescue alongside Rudra.  Raja and Rudra make the mistake of seeking vengeance against the attackers.

Now with criminal records on their heads and no where to go. Raja and Rudra become 'Political Commandos' for Minister Shukla (Babbar), going down a dark path. Raja must tread lightly with enemies surrounding him. When Rudra is murdered, Raja vows vengeance and blood soaked tale of revenge begins. 

Mentioned above, Dhulia ventures into his first out and out commericial film. For me this was one of the most anticipated films of the year, after all it's not always that you get to see a director of Dhulia's stature move from his comfort zone. Of course it's the same thing with Masala film directors like Rohit Shetty, you wont see him trying a film with a lot of depth and substance. For that reason alone I would like to salute Dhulia, from a script writing and entertaining point he makes a nice commercial film. The problem however are in the minute details as I'll discuss below. 

As with any Masala films it's the dialogues that work their magic. Dhulia seems to have adapted a classic flavor of dialogues from 70's and 80's potboiler films, the heroes speak in loud and dramatic threats constantly spouting a catchphrase or two. The likes of 'Raja and Rudra sab ke virrudh' or 'Brahman bukha to sudama, magar rutha to Raavan' are crackling and delivered with gusto. 

Theirs also an allusions to films such as Dhulia's own Paan Singh Tomar when captured chambal dacoits name famous dacoits of their times to Inspector Munna. Or when one goon early on asks 'Hamesha do hi kyu hote hai?' ('Why are there always two?!')referring to both Raja and Rudra, while making the audience reminisce about 70's Iconic Masala film Sholay.Sholay had Jai and Veeru while villain Gabbar always asked 'Kitne Aadmi the' ('How many men were there'). 

What's better is that dialogue retains the texture and authenticity of its setting, in the way speech is noted through out with a Northern Bihari accent fitting to Uttar Pradesh (where much of the action occurs). 

The film however has too much going for it, characters tend to come in and then go out quickly. There's not much development for anyone really, potential interesting characters such as a cross-dressing (though only to hide from cops on his tail) Sumer Yadav and slick cop Munna are wasted completely. Rudra and Mitali are as important to the equation as Raja's arc, where they are simply extensions of his character and defined by their relationship to him.

Mitali pops up as the obligatory love interest, with appearances in song and dance and then few romantic scenes and a vital scene to give reasoning to Rudra's death. Rudra is a staple of the early point to craft the core relationship in the film (his friendship with Raja) and give reason to the climatic action sequences and by the book revenge plot. Other characters are simply stock; like the slimy villain (Bajaj) or the once leader turned corrupt enemy (Shukla) or the mandatory item girl (Mahi Gill) and the comedic side villain (Lallan) to ramp things up.  

What Dhulia really does excellent with his screenplay is flesh out Raja and his arc in a typical but interesting masala style. He doesn't bog the character down in too much back story or evaluation rather leaving Khan to give his own stamp. 

This frees the script to focus on some of the trademark Dhulia elements, such as a half hearted but eventual well balanced and smart sub textual look in to the Political nexus running within the films larger narrative. We have a range of politically and corporate invested people who don't always see eye to eye looking in on Raja's doings as well as the larger picture focused on their profit. 

An intriguing juxtapose here is a scene where both Raja and Rudra join the corporate/politicians meeting. It highlights the differences between the characters, and therefore in a metaphorical sense the kind of sensibility Dhulia brings to his politically aware films and the generic Masala film heroes. They just don't match, they collide and work their way to a solution through their own methods. Bajaj is forced to shut the two up and conduct business, while later both protagonists kidnap him and toy around with him in stellar blockbuster fashion. 

While balanced perfectly, there's a reason that two sides don't naturally blend or work well and haven't been tried. Dhulia is unable to capture a certain pace in the narrative, the film plays a bit too fast during the action sequences and then moves too slowly when away from Raja's main narrative. Things collide and in the confusion, Dhulia constructs what seems like a sequel baiting and underwhelming climax which doesn't tie things really well. It's hard to understand why Munna in a space of few scenes willingly trusts Raja, and decides to make a life changing decision for himself. 

From a technical standpoint things just unravel. Dhulia is unable to grasp a tight rein on things, the editing is shoddy and it feels like a lot was cut out. There's poor focus on small details that eventually disengage a very engaged viewer (like my roommate who pointed out a lot of mistakes to me). At one point an extended sequence in the beggining sees Raja and Rudra freed from prison to hunt Lallan who betrayed Rudra's uncle. In between Khan's hair seems to change lengths and his beard goes from trimmed to not trimmed and trimmed again in a scene timed for a couple of hours, I might be nitpicking but it is furiously distracting and obvious. It gets worse in the second half when the lead trio go state hoping in order to avoid gang confrontations, scenes just come and go with no real connectivity each filled in by a purposely distracting song. A staple of Hindi Masala films. 

Performances however salvage the film more so than the script or the direction. Of the supporting cast the surprise entertainer is Ravi Kishan, he plays his odd ball character with style and just goes all out. I was salivating at what could have been if he had been given more screen time, it was great to also see both Grover and Babbar in the type of roles they had perfected long ago in the 80's madras cut styled action flicks. 

Sonakshi Sinha is competent and has perfected the act of being the pretty little thing in a mans world. I just wish she would stop doing such films and get on with really showing her acting prowess (like she did with Lootera). 

Saif Ali Khan playing the titular Raja is a firebrand, he oozes charisma and charm and plays off both serious and action scenes with relative ease. It's definitely not a Langda Tyagi (his role in Omkara), but Khan proves that he's also the right fit for a masala film hero with a slicker edge. 

The real showstoppers however are both Jamwal and Shergill. Jamwal etches himself in the viewers memory with the little screen time he has, he obviously pulls of the action well but presents himself as an equal to Raja with his presence. 

Due to his lengthier and time and larger scope Shergill just edges him out. The underrated actor takes hold of the chemistry between him and Khan and runs from there, he creates a likable character and is able to bring out the understanding between him and Raja well. This is another performance where Shergill proves that you don't need star power to shine. 

Onto the music. While the background score is entertaining especially when it blares through the climax, it really is used excessively where it is neither needed nor creates right atmosphere. One of the major issues with Dhulia is that he doesn't understand the true value of music in film. Yes he gets the tunes corrected to the setting, but his films never include any flavor to the songs. What's worse is that this is a masala film, and music no matter how idiotic or distracting is a vital aspect in entertaining fans. 'Tamanche Pe Disco' is remotely cool, the others just fail to live up.   

Verdict: Disappointed

I really wanted to say content, after all Dhulia went way out of his comfort zone and made a full on and very entertaining and somewhat smart masala film yet the audiences didn't catch it. 

Still besides comfort and genre there's the case of the production and editing. It is far to shoddy for a director who made a very technical masterpiece in his low budget with Paan Singh Tomar, yet here he fails to really tie up his work and carry the whole crew through it. 

Bullett Raja is my dark-horse entertaining film of the year still and I'll obviously watch it again and again, I just wish it could have been done with more conviction. 


5. Dhoom 3

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/f/f1/Dhoom_3_Film_Poster.jpgDirector: Vijay Krishna Acharya

Cast: Aamir Khan as Sahir/Samar Khan, Abhishek Bachchan as ACP Jai Dixit, Katrina Kaif as Aliya, Uday Chopra as Ali Akbar, Tarbet Bethell as Victoria, Siddharth Nigam as Young Sahir/Samar with Andrew Bicknell as Anderson and Jackie Shroff as Iqbal Haroon Khan

Genre: Action/Crime

 Best Scene: The final fight between (I believe) Samar and Jai, like Knights on their bikes they fight in the underground Chicago road. Reminiscent of The Dark Knight, because that's where the Batpod scene was introduced in the film.

Best Performance: Siddharth Nigam as Young Sahir/Samar. With his low experience level, Nigam is a surprise package as he far outshines his co-stars with his charming personality

Best Dialogue: 'Bande hai hum uske, humpe kiska zor. Umido ke suraj nikle chahro aur. Irrade hai fauladi, himati har kadam. Apne haathon kismat likhne aaj chale hai hum.'-Sahir/Samar

(I don't wtf it means, but it sounds cool)


Pros: -Acharya crafts a great back-story for his lead with two very compelling characters that stabilize the narrative albeit both being archetypes

          -Using a darker vibe in vein of Dark Knight Trilogy makes this film that much better  

          -The action choreography of the film is a stunner, stunts are dazzling and really make a Dhoom on screen...

          -Production, set and costume design is beautiful and gives off a grand cinematic feel

          -Young Sahir/Samar plays his role with utter conviction far outshining his elder/experienced cast, Jackie Shroff is stellar in his cameo. Aamir does well from time to time as Samar and even Sahir

         

Cons:-The film runs for too long and lags in its second half

           -Two great characters don't make a film, at the end of the day the plot poorly shafts both franchise players Jai and Ali 

           -The films script is riddled with multiple plot discrepancies especially its climax which totally disappoints. This is a very illogical script with no foundation to at least try and vaguely explaining itself

           -It's also unoriginal in concept, the main plot point is a rip off from The Prestige

           -Its easy to notice that the film script is a mish mash of quite a few other plots from Hollywood pictures

           -…even then the action choreography is still a bit repetitive and nothing new that we haven't seen. Not showing the heists is a form of non creativity compiled with lazy writing

           -There's an excessive use of slow motion and Deus Ex Machina by the director/writer Acharya

           -Even with wasted characters its unforgivable that both Katrina and Abhishek give uninterested performances. Unfortunately at times Aamir overacts, his tendency to go overboard as Samar is a small issue but an issue nonetheless. He also holds one excruciatingly annoying expression as Sahir

Score: 6.5/10 (Story-6.3, Direction-6.4, Performances-7.2, Music-6.0)

 Bigger! Better Bolder! Dhoom 3 makes a Dhoom at the theaters. No wait, this intro has changed a bit since I got the time to view the film and analyze it properly. You see...

...Let me first put this straight, I've watched this film twice. I enjoyed it the first time, I'm not sure if it's because of all the hype. I hated the second, I'm not sure if it's because of the post release criticism. My score, heck the review here might be suspect so I would take it with a grain of salt. 

The Great Indian Circus has been entertaining people for years. Unfortunately its manager Iqbal Khan (Shroff) has been in debt for far too long, he proposes a presentation that will prevent the bank from ceasing all his assets and shutting down the circus itself. It involves his young son Sahir (Nigam) and their mystery weapon (Sahir's autistic twin Samar). Unfortunately bank owner Anderson (Bicknell) doesn't budge and Khan shoots himself to death. 

Years later Sahir has become a thief. He robs the bank and showers its money in daylight in Chicago. Chased by cops, Sahir plays a game of switch with his brother that constantly confuses the police. At the bank he leaves messages in Hindi, forcing the bank to call Indian police experts ACP Jai Dixit (Bachchan) and Inspector Ali (Chopra). 

The two now begin a cat and mouse game with Sahir/Samar. The question is whose the hunter and whose the hunted? With all these combustible elements together, there's bound to be some Dhoom! (Blasts!).

Dhoom 3...It's a film with a big question mark for me as I mentioned above. The wave of hate that the film has generated was a bit surprising yet at the same not shocking either. It's the reason I had to see it a second time, yet it confused my review further. 

So first of all the major complaint it seems is about the logic of the film, the physics is absurd and the plotholes are abundant. I don't why people from India seem to get riled up when this happens in Bollywood films, yet it's okay when Hollywood does the same. 

Look at this for an example of Hollywood physics; 

http://www.neatorama.com/2007/03/06/9-laws-of-physics-that-dont-apply-in-hollywood/#!rQpVL

Now onto a major reason I see the film has caused disappointment (apart from the hype it generated and failed to deliver for that is); 

Aamir Khan! Yes the Aamir Khan, star of the film and the man in a double role. 

Now don't get me wrong, it's not because of his performance or his star power that the film is bogged down by. It's the two different school of thoughts on the actor that I feel stretch both the expectancy and hate of the film. 

The first is that Aamir Khan is a genius actor in the garb of a mainstream Hindi cinema star. It's this overrated persona of his that he is a perfectionist and a chooser of very unconventional scripts. Yes on occasion he might be, something like Lagaan is an odd film for its time and maybe even now. He did an out and out HIndie film with Dhobi Ghaat, but I think that was done to add more value to his wife's directorial venture rather than him really understanding the kind of depth the film has. 

He like any star tries maintaining his vain image by doing mainstream cinema or molding his cinema into mainstream flavored work. He might support unconventional films but he doesn't go out of his way to lend his star power to them, look at Peepli Live for example. If he does get involved than he does make sure that the concept is made more approachable to the audience eg. when he took over director Amol Gupte's Taare Zameen Par and commercialized it with some touch of melodrama and expanding his involvement in the second half. 

Being overrated is not necessarily a bad thing, after all it means your at least rated and still quite good at what you do just not as much as your hyped to be. Khan has no doubt talent, but I personally feel a lot of people place him on a pedestal. There's no denying however that he has a stellar knack for reading great scripts, after all we wouldn't have had the likes of Dhobi Ghat, Peepli Live or Delhi Belly if he hadn't backed them up.

Onto the other side of the coin. The people who see through Khan's image and hate him for it. People who don't really enjoy the kind of accolades he collects as a supposed Hindi Independent innovator or maybe the right title is a serious cinema commercial star tag he has. This way there's tons of hate and nitpicking off the film, not to mention hatred towards his acting being one note. While it's true, it's not completely true. 

Plus yes Khan isn't such a big genius because both this film and Ghajini are watered down concepts of far superior Christopher Nolan films such as Prestige and Memento. He himself has stated that he doesn't understand Nolan's work. Hopefully Khan's next film is not titled something like 'Sapne me Sapna' ('Dream within a Dream'). 

(I may be reading into this too much. Some of the bad and good reviews or hatred might be genuine and just simply that. It's just that I felt I needed to point out the Aamir Khan opinion divide)

Onto the film itself. 

Dhoom 3's script is obviously not meant to be something full of depth and weight, the films sole focus is to really entertain with some stunning action sequences. One thing however that this film does better than the first two is give reason to the thieves mission and from there on builds a fully dimensional character(s) although based around the generic theme of revenge. 

First we have Sahir, a single goal obsessed man with a chip on his shoulder to prove himself better than his other brother. The screenplay peels the layers of this character with great detail and the use of a flashback framing device properly. We see him witness his fathers death, his seething rage at the bank and his machination to take them down. Flashback flows easily into the picture to show both his love and care for his brother, yet also a certain jealous streak he develops cause his father takes care of Samar more than him.

On the other side is Samar, an autistic yet very capable child and the not so surprising mystery of the film. It's a character built to provide Khan with some range for his acting, but one that works well in the narratives main plot. Essentially the purest character through the film, and one that retains a very proper view of the world around him yet is still vengeance bent without letting the negativity affect him. He's complicated much more by the nuances Khan brings to him than the writing does. 

Still I maintain that two characters don't necessarily make a film, no matter how compelling they are. (Sure two characters make a film, when their only two important characters/actors). Here the film fails to give us anything beyond the two brothers motives, relationship and the action. 

Both franchise players Jai and Ali are completely wasted, neither character gets any valuable screen-time and surprisingly Jai's deeper characteristics such as his instinctive genius is done away with. Where in Dhoom and its sequel he solved some oddball (read badly written) patterns in a simplistic manner, in the 3rd installment he requires some detective tricks to realize that there are two Aamir Khan's and not one. On top of that he plays dress up to toy around with Samar, not only does this make Jai come off as unlikable but for a serious cop like him it compromises the character built around him in the previous films. (Jai seems to have spent too much time with Ali, that he's essentially become a Joker).

It doesn't get worse that in all three films he hasn't caught the main thief, as such his record in a realistic is blemished far beyond salvation. This essentially compromises the key franchise player and makes any of the next films remotely engage-able. I expected with the twin twist, that Jai could finally catch a thief (Sahir) yet also the Dhoom tradition would be kept alive with Samar's escape. 

This also falls into the fact, that writer/director Krishnan Acharya had no idea on how to end the film and ended up botching his climatic attempt.    

Oh and let's not talk about Kaif's character Aliya, she enters she pulls a strip tease. Dances here and there, creates a shoddy love angle and then disappears and appears in the end. For some odd reason she dedicates her life to Samar's fathers Circus and then dances in a final item song. Basically the character is bad, but the director is smart to utilize Katrina's limited talents. 

Then again the major problem are the gaps of logic and the multiple plot holes and discrepancies. While not really a deal breaker for me, they cause to affect the screenplay which is forced to use tons of deux ex machina during each and every action sequence. The physics defying bikes constantly at the last minute end up saving both Sahir and Samar by either turning into motorboats (or is it jet-skis?) or connecting together to form a super duo bike. The lazy writing also seeps into the heist scenes, cause there's no heist scenes. 

While in a film like Reservoir Dogs it is vital to the plot that the heist isn't revealed in full (cause it doesn't matter, the betrayal of Mr Orange does). In Dhoom 3 it just comes off as unimaginative and forces the director to rest his laurels on the work of the stunt director in creating exciting chase sequences.     

Those sequences are exciting but by the time the climax approaches they get repetitive and just don't excite. Granted sometimes the action is different but it's for the worse, such as the final scene where for five minutes we witness police car pile up on top of police car. 

On a whole other level is the fact that the film is a copy of many a Hollywood pictures. A lot has been made about its similarities to last year's Magician based heist film Now You See Me. This I deny because Dhoom 3 had started shooting in mid 2012 as such a film that released closed to it in the year could not have been the basis for the film. 

There's been talk including from the makes that the Dark Knight Trilogy was a huge influence on the film, you can see it with the pardon the pun Darker edge it has, but mostly that comparison gets traction because of the black bike and the setting of the film being Chicago (where the trilogy was extensively shot, cause there's surprise surprise! there's no real Gotham city!). What it is, is an intriguing and maybe purposeful or unintentional promotion trick. This would have kept the viewer distracted from the fact that the film is a shoddier copy at least in terms of its major plot twist of The Prestige, another far superior Nolan film. 

Also it does have its influences in classic Bollywood 70's films with the said twin twist as well. 

I've already spoken about the action but I'd also like to point out one thing. Why do Indian directors feel that slow motion is some slick and mesmerizing concept? After seeing it in misused extensively in Shootout At Wadala (one of the worst for me), I beg to differ. Dhoom 3 applies the same motto here, constantly shooting some of the action in slo-mo with the loud Dhoom anthem ringing in the background. Annoying to the max.

On a production front, the costume designs are stunning. The effort and detail put into the circus costumes are a marvel (even outside of it) and enhance essentially very not so sizzling song and dance numbers. It gives the film a magnum opus feel when you see the bright colors bursting forth in 'Malang' or the elegance flow through in 'Tu Hi Junoon' specifically that of Katrina's. Dressed like a true diva, her sparkling clothes matching her graceful dance moves. Oh and those Marvel comics shirt choices for Samar were a delight to see. 

Towards the performances. Jackie Shroff makes an extended cameo towards the beginning and he leaves a mark with his expressive body language and diction, he pushes forward a plot based on something relatable yet not logical (it's not fair to cast the bank evil as they cannot be expected to give a loan and then not be repaid for it). 

He is aptly supported by young Siddharth Nigam. The child actor plays both parts with conviction, and works in the nuances of each character with much more ease than his counterpart in Aamir Khan. He lightens up each scene as Samar and brings out the darker nature and broken child of Sahir with restraint and a smooth flow. 

Towards the present day side of things. Chopra brings back Ali with the same sparkle as before, he does well not to go over the top in comedic scenes and his reduced screen time coupled with the edgier narrative makes his presence add some levity to proceedings.

Bachchan as the other returning actor as mentioned is wasted, as such it seems the performer himself is disinterested in the film. Abhishek phones in his performance and comes off as lazy and unprofessional. Being an actor who has gone through a terrible string of flops, it's not hard to see why his role was cut down yet it seems the actors arrogance prevents him from accepting this fact. He needs to get his act straight especially if Dhoom 4 is to even have him on screen. 

Of the new actors, the female actor involved is Katrina Kaif. She gets lesser screen time than her former Dhoom film counterparts. Essentially boiling down to an extended item girl cameo. It easily masks her weak acting, but she really doesn't add anything to the film apart from being an annoying plot device that is conveniently debunked by the climax. She is set to play a major role in Prakash Jha's next female oriented venture, as such Kaif needs to up herself a level. After learning Hindi extensively for Jha's Raajneeti, now she needs to brush up on her acting skills or these are the kind of roles she'll get. 

Aamir Khan however is the main attraction, and nothing says that unlike a double role. With Sahir and Samar essentially playing twins hiding one identity (Samar's) he essentially gets to straddle a tight margin. He plays both sides with some subtle nuances and hints to character differentiation. 

Watch him in the final fight scene against Bachchan, here he skillfully takes him out and we think it's Sahir yet he doesn't murder Jai when he has an open chance. You notice Khan's red seething yet heartbroken eyes and you know this is an adrenaline fueled Samar, who feels badly betrayed by his friend Jai. There's other things to make notice, such as the way each one looks at Katrina's Aliya. 

Unfortunately Khan also overdoes it from time to time, his Samar gets a bit to over the top (at least that's what I felt, but I don't know much about how Autistic patients are). He doesn't match up to the work done by Priyanka Chopra in Barfi! or Shahrukh Khan in My Name is Khan and definitely not better than Dustin Hoffman's iconic turn in Rainman.

With Sahir his brow latches onto one annoying expression for too long, it shows his limitations as an actor and his false understanding of character times. He brings the seething blind ambition to the forefront too obviously. Still he isn't as bad as many would put it. 

In the music department, the songs are catchy but don't match up to either the score or soundtrack of its predecessors. 

Verdict: Content

As I said the first time I watched it I liked it even with its flaws. The second time I watched it I took home more positives, but more than that more negatives as well. I also got an understanding in my perspective of the films hate and nature. 

My score might be what it is, but the film I cannot deny was enjoyable. 

I'm however suspect to either pre-release hype or post-release criticism, so my analysis is basically compromised.  

For the next Dhoom, this is what I would like to see;

-A compelling arc for Jai, even a small one such as a sub plot regarding his separation from his wife (from the first two films) and his child or something.

-Even if he doesn't get the arc, can Jai at least finally catch the thief

-Set in India, because the first Dhoom was the best Dhoom and it took place in India. It prevents from illogical things such as a world hopping Indian cop duo or Indian cops being called to Chicago as translators

-This also relates to the above point; some modicum of logic

-Most importantly how about we see a female thief as the main antagonist (and not someone as useless and annoying like Sunheri from Dhoom 2). Preferably with deep characterization and played by Vidya Balan. Though if this is the case, then she shouldn't be caught.   


4. Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/3/30/Matru_Ki_Bijlee_Ka_Mandola_poster.jpegDirector: Vishal Bharadwaj

Cast: Pankaj Kapur as Harphool Singh Mandola/Harry, Anushka Sharma as Bijlee Mandola, Imran Khan as Hukum Singh Matru/Maos, Shabana Azmi as Chaudhari Devi, Arya Babbar as Baadal, Narveet Nishan as Mrs. Talwar with Ranvir Shorey and Lekha Washington in A Cameo

Genre: Social Satire/Romantic/Drama

Best Scene: A drunk Harry joins the villagers protest against him and takes it all the way to his mansion to meet their demands, once he gets sober he pulls a U-Turn and gets the villagers thrown out of his grounds. The double turn is executed with hilarity

Best Performance: Pankaj Kapur as Harphool Singh Mandola/Harry 

Best Dialogue:"Kitni baar samjhaye tujhe, kachha banyan pehnke mat jaya kar talab mein" - Matru ('How many times have I told you, don't go swimming in your inner garments')
"Toh kya utaar kar jaya karu? Kachha ya banyan?" - Bijli ('So then what should I remove and go swimming? My bra or my underwear?'). 

Sharma delivers with spunk and boldness while Khan gives his best befuddled expression making the scene a laugh riot. 


Pros:-In parts the film crafts and brings forth its satire well

          -Character exploration and shifts for Harry Mandola are executed well

          -Bharadwaj adds great flavor and texture to the films setting, dialogue and characters

          -Anushka does chirpy typically well, Azmi is hell of a vamp

          -Kapur is a master class of a performer and it comes across here



Cons:-The film really dips in the second half, by the climax the tonal and plot shift drag it down

           -Script wise this really affects the satire and doesn't make the message come across. The film comes off as unplanned and unfocused

           -Some elements feel oddly out of place. The director adds them as a false pretense of depth to the satire

           -Imran Khan is pathetic in his rugged role, he just doesn't suit it and neither has that range or aura to him.

           -One of the disappointing works of music by the usually dependable Bhardwaj 

Score: 6.6/10 (Story-6.3, Direction-7.1, Performances-7.8, Background score/soundtrack-5.3)


Is MKBKM much smarter than your average satire or is it just unnecesarily confusing, is the issue at hand. It charts the tale of foreign educated Haryanvi boy Matru (Khan). Matru fights the good fight as Maos for the villagers against the village's ancestral owner Harpool Singh Mandola (Kapur), who wishes to buy off the villagers farm land at cheap prices and turn the village into a bustling metropolis. 

Mandola however has a darker side to him, when he gets drunk he tends to become an advocate for equality growing an alternate personality altogether. He also tends to hallucinate a Pink Buffalo resembling the mascot of his favorite beer. Matru is determined to use this trick to make Mandola realize the follies of his sober mistakes, and save the village. He does this with the aid of Mandola's own daughter and his love interest, the feisty Bijlee (Sharma). 

Like I mentioned above, it's very hard to deconstruct this film. I've watched it only once and what I remember taking away from it, is a surprisingly conventional second half (in comparison to the unorthodox style of director Vishal Bharadwaj) and essentially a disappointing film. 

The problem is that the first half is internally focused on providing massive amounts of laughter linked to the socially relevant situation that faces the villagers. The plot doesn't necessarily move anywhere expect really go in depth into the political power play involved between Mandola and Chaudhari Devi and the mystery and subsequent leadership of Maos AKA Matru in keeping a drunk and much more likable Mandola on their side. 

It's the dialogues in that half that just really keep the viewer invested, as usual with any Bharadwaj film they come with a flavor of the hinterlands but also give some substance to the plot, especially in this case where they highlight the social issues and plights of the people throguh a satirical manner. The film is one of the director/writers out and out comedies, that doesn't really on an edgier narrative like his previous works. Speech heavy scenes such as Mandola's riot against himself, Maos speech or Devi's 'beta' speech will keep you rolling on the floor. 

The second act (that seeps into the second half) really ramps up things with a hilariously shot plane ride where Mandola reveals his true ambitions for the villagers and Matru and Bijlee. It's a scene that begins to further push the major romantic arc between Matru and Bijlee, when Matru himself reveals her complications to herself regarding her impending marriage with incompatible Badal.

Unfrotunately the third act is what gets annoyingly generic at least in execution if not paper. Beyond the villagers arc, it focuses on Matru's method of getting Bijlee freed from her marriage and at the same time doing this through the consent of Mandola. Parts of it gets heavily focused on the romantic arc and the film begins to lose pace. 

This in turn as aforementioned turns the plot around such that it confuses the satirical elements and the larger picture/message of the film. 

Other nonsensical things just feel forced in the film and have no real connectivity to what the director is trying to essay. Why the use of African dancers got a major scene and reasoning isn't made sense of? Was it another vital part for the overcomplicated style of the film?

On the character front, Bijlee is said to have a complex reasoning around her relationship with Baadal, she subconsciously pushes it further even though knowing that it is at a dead end. With Matru we get to see this rustic man, who hides his much more heroic identity of Maos in helping the villagers. It's an identity bolstered by the fact that he is actually far educated than Harry or the viewer realizes, eventually using his city connections to help save the villagers (a deeper meaning to this?). 

The real gem is Harry Mandola, this is man that discovers a true conscious at the end of a bottle. At his most reckless he is most sound and true. When the effects wear off, he is Harry Mandola again but in his Dr. Jekyll garb, one affected by the complications of the world around him and having none of the simple minded view of the monster (Hyde) within. These two styles are juxtaposed well in the character diction and most importantly the actor himself (speak about that later). 

Oh and before I forget to mention, in his drunken state Mandola hallucinates the pink buffalo mascot of the beer drinks, giving us some of the movie's most hilarious excursions.  

Beyond the writing there's no doubt that Bharadwaj shoots with perfection, he captures the right aesthetic of the setting and gives the film that rustic charm but also adds a nice sheen to things. He captures the village well and in comparison the shinier Mandola mansion. On a cinematography front, lighting is used sparingly to blend with the duskier tones of the corporate meeting that go on, giving of the perfect shady vibe to such situations. Unfortunately these smaller details don't really revive the viewer from their boredom as shots feel to locked on and static.

From the performances, leading man (on the promotional front) Imran Khan is once again a real disappointment. While he gets that Haryanvi accent right, beyond the directors work in pullign what he can out of him Khan doesn't seem to match the beats of his co-stars. When paired with Kapur, you can clearly notice the flaws in his skill set. He at least does a notch better than the annoying Arya Babbar. 

Azmi is deliciously malicious and even brings a modicum of dirty sensuality to her chemistry with Kapur. She plays of him well, and really amps it up in the films climax although never going overboard. This is the mark of a genius veteran actor. 

Anushka Sharma gets to play another feisty and chirpy character, she typically pulls this off with no hitch. Her chemistry with Khan is sizzling and this comes off in a passionate lip lock between the two. 

The real savior though is Pankaj Kapur, he gives his third (a hattrick) or a career best performance under Bharadwaj's tutelage. After his bone chilling turn in Maqbool and his hilariously spiteful showing as Nand Kishore in Blue Umbrella, Kapur shines as Mandola. Here he gets to play two sides of a coin, and he balances both with hints of sensational subtle nuances. 

He is rigid stiff and delivers dialogue crackling when sober. He is expressive and his body language is in a wide range and his delivery slippery (sometimes poorly undecipherable) when drunk. Both turns make the character unlikable and likable respectively, yet he also keeps them tied well enough so as not to seem off the rocker or with a sense of multiple personality disorder. 

He positions Mandola's conflicting views as one in the same man, and gives emphasis to the bottle as an opener of his real emotions. This aids well in the final twist at the end of the film. 

The major disappointment of MKBKM was the music, the ever reliable Bhardwaj fails to excite on this front. None of the music matches in tempo to his former works. Apart from th title track and 'O Boy Charlie' nothing else sound remotely tuneful. 

Verdict: Disappointed 

I'm not sure if I'd say this movie is bad, it's quite good but for a Vishal Bhardwaj film this one is disappointing. It is only really powered through by a stellar performance from Pankaj Kapur more so than anything else.   


3. Ek Thi Dayaan

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/2/2c/Ek_Thi_Poster.jpgDirector: Kannan Iyer

Cast: Emraan Hashmi as Bejoy Charan Mathur/Magician Bobo, Huma Qureshi as Tamara, Konkona Sen Sharma as Diana, Karki Koechlin as Lisa Dutt, Pawan Malhotra as Mr. Mathur, Rajatva Dutt as Dr. Palit, Bhavesh Balchandani as Zubin with Vishesh Tiwari as Young Bejoy and Sara Arjun as Misha

Genre: Horror/Thriller

Best Scene: Bobo and Misha's initial descent into hell, it's visually chilling and is expressed aptly by the child artists

Best Performance: Konkona Sen Sharma as Diana

Best Dialogue: 'I thought you were a Dayaan'-Bobo (to Lisa when they meet for coffee). Punctuated by a brilliant yet unnerving final laughter from Kalki's Lisa. 

Pros:-The first half creates a very realistic and intriguing psychological thriller

          -Cinematography and Kannan Iyer's direction is superb, he adds a hint of realism yet old school horror to the film

          -Performances are great, the best is however reserved for Konkona

         

Cons:-The second half loses incredible amount of steam

           -Bharadwaj fails to give the horror situations certain peak points in his storytelling and music, letting down brilliant work done by the director

           -There are certain loopholes in the films logic

Score: 6.6/10 (Story-5.7. Directin-8.7, Performances-7.8, Music-4.1)


Ek Thi Dayaan is an orthodox horror film presented by its director in an unorthodox manner. Bobo (Hashmi) is a star magician, whose life is slowly unraveling as he falls prey to his own darker past. He has nightmare of his dead sister Misha, and the actions of his past that brought upon a darkness on his whole family. 

As a child Bobo had a fascination with magic and witchcraft. His curiosity leads him to take his sister to hell through their apartment's elevator. Soon enough, at home a new neighbour comes along by the name of Diana (Sharma). Bobo's father (Malhotra) is enamored by her, and hires her as a governess for the children eventually getting closer to her. Bobo is suspicious of her actions, but eventually his father decides to marry Diana. Truths come across when Diana uses Misha as a sacrifice to regain her powers, eventually Bobo finishes her but she leaves with a warning of her return. 

Back in the present Bobo is engaged to be married to Tamara (Qureshi). Then Lisa (Koechlin) enters their lives, believing her to be the resurrected Dayaan, Bobo begins to break down. Is it all in his head, or it there really something much more sinister afoot?

A really thrilling horror picture that could have been something more, if the director wasn't restrained by some poor writing. The biggest thing to take away from this horror film attempt, is that debutant director Kannan Iyer shows some immense potential in mesmerizing his viewers and giving them an edge of their sear experience. 
     
He keeps the viewer invested in the first half with the way he works his camera, while the cinematography presents a very old school of Horror thought with dark yet glimmering lighting and a two tone color palette (in this case black and a deep green). 

Iyer brings forth the meat of the scripts theme of supernatural mythology without it bogging down the more realistic psychological element. Frames capture a certain essence of mental instability in the lead character, it makes the viewer intrigued and engaged when they're forced to question whether what's happening is real (in plot terms) or is it all in a young paranoid Bobo's head? It even salvages to do this beyond the early introduction of Konkona's Dayaan form. 

Iyer keeps this sense of intrigue intact even till the end, where we witness a happy ending sure but one that can be construed as actually ambiguous and as a misdirection. The final dialogue is left unanswered and all we see is a Lisa Dutt simply laughing it off, genuinely in hilarity or bone chilling is the question. 

Unfortunately it's the in between that doesn't work as well. Beyond the flashback narrative, the screenplay falters terribly. Iyer is handicapped by some very typical horror film moments, and the larger portion of the Dayaan and witchcraft mythology incorporated especially towards the end. But before that even we gets scenes that really slow down the pace of the film, the development of Bobo and Tamara's relationship is done in a misguided form. 

Illogical placements of disengaging and not so interesting songs, especially a surprisingly idiotic choreographed and lip synced 'Tote Ud Gaye' just doesn't help. Illogical things such as Bobo going paranoid and trying to cut a random woman's braid ( Dayaans are powered by their long hair braids) come of as unintentionally hilarious, rather than shocking and compelling for the character. 

The writing constantly fails in providing the right tempo for its director, it makes the very intriguing twists and plot points easy to see from a mile away. 

Among the performances, Hashmi is competent as Bobo. He plays of the haunted characteristics well bringing it forth with a range of expressions, but he is far outdone by his child artist counterpart. Kalki Koechlin is simply wasted in what is essentially an extended cameo. She does well though to keep the viewer distracted for a while. Pawan Malhotra is commendable and brilliantly understated as ever.

Huma Qureshi builds of last years GOW with another crackling performance as a totally different character, she is the surprise package of the film in more ways than one.

However typically the showstopper is none other than Konkona. She enters with an aura of eeriness and etches herself in the mind of the viewers with a goose bump inducing performance. It shows how far talented the actress is, as she really sinks into her character.  

Like with the script, Bhardwaj fails to give the music any traction and bring meaning to the film. The soundtrack is pathetic. Yet he does provide an eery score through out. 

Verdict: Disappointed

From its trailer, the film looked to have an intriguing concept. But a flawless first half is dragged down by a downright despicable second half and some really annoying story beats and obvious twists. 

The films horror was engaging but only for a few minutes. Eventually the only to take away is what Kannan Iyer decides to direct next, cause you know from his side that it will be equally thrilling.

Let's not forget Konkona's exceptional turn as a Dayaan. Scary as hell.

To note, I'm sure even though I have a vague recollection that the film failed to pass the Bechdel test. That's sad considering the three very exciting female characters. 


2. Aashiqui 2

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/f/f3/Aashiqui_2_%28Poster%29.jpgDirector: Mohit Suri

Cast: Aditya Roy Kapur as Rahul Jaykar, Shradha Kapoor as Arohi Keshav Shirke, Shaad Randhawa as Vivek with Mahesh Thakur as Saigal Uncle and Mahesh Bhatt as Rahul's Father

Genre: Musical/Romantic

Best Scene: The intro song 'Sunn Raha Hai' 

Best Performance: Shradha Kapoor as Arohi Keshav Shirke

Best Dialogue: More than dialogue, the lyrics for the song 'Tum Hi Ho'


Pros:-The first half really builds a well and interesting romantic film

          -It has a better message than the previous Aashiqui film

          -Mohit Suri has a firm grasp on the romantic portion of this film

          -Surprising good performances from the cast including the leads 

          -Mind blowing music that hits at the right moments and makes the film flow better



Cons:-The second half lags and is a bit boring

           -Characters are one-note and remain in a typical mode

           -The film isn't wholly original         

           -Dialogues have over-exposition, including humorously explaining the main conflict of the film. Most of it is oddly clunky

           -Aditya Kapur falters during the more intense scenes, his performance is good but shaky

           -The music overpowers the film and makes it pale in comparison

Score: 6.6/10 (Story-4.8, Direction-5.0, Performances-6.9, Background score/soundtrack-9.7) 


Rahul Jaykar (Kapur) or RJ as he is fondly known, is a dwindling music star. Drunken issues and scuffles at concerts has left him desperately struggling for work in the music industry. On one such concert night, he drives his car in an unknown city. Here he meets Arohi (Kapoor), a very mesmerizing bar singer struggling to catch a real break. 

RJ promises to make her a big star. After an initial struggle he gets her to the top, convincing her of her talent through his love for her. But love for them is an issue, RJ realizes that his drunken state is a hindrance to her ascension to success. Rahul is essentially torn between the solace he finds at the bottom of a bottle, and the passionate Aashiqui for Arohi. 

I'll be the first to admit that I had very little hope that the sequel to 90's musical hit Aashiqui would be anything but remotely well made or interesting to me. I really felt that the films hype relied on its sensational soundtrack, and while I'm not completely wrong I did seem to really like watching the film. 

Specifically I would say its opening extended song sequence. The film starts on a high note, where the director establishes a vibe fitting to its lead protagonist. Suri evokes RJ's pain and emptiness by the way his visuals merge and how the camera highlights Aditya's swollen eyes. Roy Kapur along with the music aptly supports this. 

Unfortunately post that high, there is little that grasps the viewer the same way. Neither Suri as a storyteller nor Kapur as a performer is able to peak that one scene, and they literally dwindle even at their best. 

The first act does well to build a romantic angle between its two leads. We spend enough time to understand the two characters, to see how their relationship blossoms and why their equation is as such. It works that the screenplay is structured with a well thought out process. 

However the second act begins to tip due to the typical Bhatt film presentation. Dialogues are used extensively without meaning and are very clunky, worse still is that a high number is exposition. One such hilarious dialogue is when an outside man sees Arohi and RJ on TV and claims;

That RJ is such a drunk, he will eventually be the girls downfall by forcing her to take care of him rather than focusing on her career.    

It's actually what occurs in the plot, especially when RJ stupidly tries avoiding it but makes it happen instead. Still he does end the film sacrificing his life, so she can move on with hers (which she eventually does). 

In this way, the film has a better message than the previous Aashiqui or classic musical film Abhimaan, in that it isn't about male ego. The original Aashiqui, the male lead started hating on the female lead because she was in a far successful position than he was in her life. It's not that a film on male ego is bad, but by the end the writing forces its female protagonist to sacrifice her career to rekindle her relationship with the man. 

Here there's no male ego at play, the message is much better as it highlights both; not to forget the good that people do for you and in return make the best of your life because of their deeds and the other more important for Arohi to learn and avoid the sins of fame unlike RJ. 

Still though, this theme of the Sins of fame seemed stretched thin considering the film is limited in its focus of Rahul's rise to fame and subsequent fall through addiction. All we see is an early montage clip, highlighted with one awards show simply turning Rahul into a drunk. It in turn just makes this too on the nose. 

The major portion of the second half and the story focuses deeply into the romantic relationship between Arohi and Rahul, it's bolstered by the director's understanding of the passionate romance element and the leads chemistry but it really just feels nothing fresh or new seen on screen. In a way it's just the same old shit stuff. This is evident more so in its character work, the film's issue as mentioned is very thin in concept and as such the characters for much of the run time apart from their relationship, straddle the same line.

Apart from really enhancing the films romantic elements, visually Suri and his team don't really match up to the levels set by their music pieces. Each song sequence is well shot and choreographed, but beyond that everything else just seems normal. The editing is also a bit iffy with just a few scenes popping in and out for no reason. A lot of the film could have been made focused, had their been cutting down of repetitive issues. 

Of the performances, the focal point is chemistry. The two leads are immensely compatible, they are actually able to make you feel as if their in love. Aditya Roy Kapur does well in the slower romantic excursions and exudes a very natural aura about him, he seamlessly shifts gears into his drunken mode. Playing it off well but never matching up to his intro scene, even though his dialogue is clunky he delivers it poorly at the dramatic juncture. Watch him when he does 'The just go away' routine, it's what put me off to this film when I saw it in the trailer. He falter, but Aditya Kapur still gives his career best performance and to me proves himself better than I thought he was. 

The supporting cast is comfortable and competent when they need to pop up. Special mention for Randhawa who shares a great rapport with Kapur, bringing out a lot about the untold friendship. 

It's Shraddha Kapoor's Arohi however that steal your heart, in every frame she's stunning as ever but beyond that the actor pulls of her act stupendously. She delivers her dialogue with conviction even the most idiotic (when she claims how she'll join RJ in his world, get drunk with him and fall with him). Watch her eyes and movement when she sees RJ steal from her or when she puts her arms forward to RJ in the 'Tum hi Ho' sequence, she provides a protective shelter yet at the same time requires solace in his arms. Kapoor goes one notch better than her debut from Luv Ka The End, and gives a scene stealing performance. 

Of course the talk of the town for this film is it's music. Soulful and heart wrenching to the core, the song sequences are brilliantly sung and remain etched in memory. What happens for the better is, that each song is brilliantly positioned in the film that it creates a flawless narrative flow. None of the music appears at distracting times, or breaks the audiences viewing. It's one of the few film to perfectly match its music to the tone and beat of the film, that is a hard thing to do when songs are varied (yes they slightly are even though most are romantic) and Vishesh films has been known for it's music so this doesn't come as a surprise. 

The issue is, that the same music overpowers the whole film. The soundtrack is just that good, that the film itself fails to live up to comparison. 

Verdict: Surprised

Indeed, even though the film wasn't as good it actually surprised me because I expected to give it a mediocre 2-4 score. The best thing it did was the placing of its music. On the performances front, both Aditya Roy Kapur and Shraddha were revelations. They were top notch especially the female lead. 


1. Ankur Arora Murder Case


http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/4/42/Ankur_Arora_Murder_Case_Movie_Poster.jpgDirector: Suhail Tatari

Cast: Tisca Chopra as Nandita Arora, Arjun Mathur as Dr. Romesh, KK Menon as Dr. Asthana, Harsh Chahya as Mr. Shekhawat, Paoli Dam as Public Prosecutor Kajori Sen, Vishakha Singh as Dr. Riya with Manish Chaudary as Defense Lawyer and Vishesh Tiwari as Ankur

Genre: Thriller/Courtroom Drama

Best Scene: When Ankur finally dies, both Tisca as the grieving mother and Menon as the faulty doctor show equal amounts of restraint in preventing their emotions or truths from flowing through

Best Performance: Tisca Chopra as Nandita Arora

Best Dialogue: 'I am god!Maut ke mu se nikala mene, aise ek ko nahi hazzaro ko jise tumhara bhagwan apne paas bula raha tha. Mujhme utni shakti hai, jitni usme hai. Agar meri ek galti ki saaza mujhe milni chahiye, to use bakshte ho?! Me to sirf tube ko istamal karna bulgaya...aur woh jo chand bhacho ko pedha hone se pelhe maar deta hai...ko hisab nahi uska?!'-Dr. Asthna 

('I am god! I've pulled thousands from the jaws of death, whom your god was taking to himself. I have as much power as him. If I am to pay the price for my one mistake, than why do you let him go free?! I just forgot to use one tube, but him, he murders children befor their born...is there no justice to that?!')

A spectacularly delivered speech that is misguided and misjudged but subjectively true


Pros:-The theme of complex morals is well established and brought out, with it the message of the film is thought provoking

          -Cinematography tries well to give sub textual character exploration

          -The director provides great scope for his actors to perform

          -Menon is an understated force of nature. Tisca Chopra is one notch ahead. While Arjun Mathur stands well against the thespians. The supporting cast is competent. Paoli Dam has never been better even if she's just ok, where as Vishaka tries her best to fight against the melodramatic moments



Cons:-All round the script is a bit too melodramatic, especially in its climax where it becomes over the top and filmy

           -Characters are sketchy and two dimensional. A lot of them are also stock

           -Tonal shifts are jarring from the romantic escape to an under the surface thriller becoming action packed

         -At the same time, the screenplay has too much going on exceeding the runtime to painfully excruciating

         -Music feels outdated

Score: 6.6/10 (Story-5.6, Direction-7.5, Performances-9.1, Music-4.0)



Dr Romesh (Mathur) is an aspiring intern at Shekhwat General Hospital, he studies under the tutelage of his idol Dr. Asthana (Menon). One such day, a single mother; Nandita (Chopra), brings her child Ankur (Tiwari) who has appendicitis. 

Prior to his operation, Ankur eats biscuits and Asthana is informed of this. He is to use a riles tube to pump out the food to prevent any backlash post the operation. Unfortunately Asthana forgets and Ankur goes into coma eventually passing away. Romesh when he discovers this, decides to do what is right. 

With Nandita in tow, the two begin a perilous struggle to gain justice for Ankur's death and Asthana's medical negligence. 

AAMC is a film with an inherently powerful and provocative message at its core. A dramatized version of real life events, Ankur Arora focuses on the concept of wrong medical practices with its conscious affecting dramatic narrative. At the heart of it all is the tale of a mother, not looking for monetary gain but for what is right. 

It's unfortunate that the screenplay decides early on to keep its focus on Dr. Romesh rather than have it establish Ankur Arora and his mothers relationship further. Romesh works well as a POV character, but his own initial failures and romantic angle don't really do much but distract from the meat of the narrative. The only good thing to come out of it is that it gives a greater character exploration of Asthana, through Romesh's eyes. 

We initially see this man as a savior to be admired, but you also get a sense of his larger than life persona and hubris. It's what keeps invested, as the viewer wishes to see him pay for his own arrogance and hypocrisy through to the end. 

Beyond that the second half wraps itself around the court case, once again her were distracted by the prosecutor own sub-plot. She is actually working alongside the defense lawyer to sabotage the case itself, but when he forces her to drop her child (who is his) she turns the table and begins to fight for Nandita. It's distracting but at least it thematically ties into Nandita's larger arc becoming a battle of two mothers. 

Her arc is splendidly charted but falters due to the heaps of melodrama Vikram Bhatt adds to the script. Things could have been played out in a subtle manner but the writing forces it to go over the top. An example is when Asthana for no odd reason reveals his mistake to his colleagues, his dialogue directs Menon to blurt it like a villain gone mad. 

Dialogue is even worse, sometimes bordering on cringe worthy. But more so than melodramatic it is high on explaining every single thing, especially with a opening narration by Romesh revealing the whole end result of the plot and thus making the film redundant.

The final nail in the coffin is a full on tonal shift, when mis-conceptualized thriller like proceedings such as a chase scene appear in between the full on well written courtroom drama. 

The director does his best to salvage things. His camera highlights sub textual character depth, scenes such as an upside down magnifying glass looking into Asthana's face metaphorically focus on his skewed morality at this point of the film. Where the screenplay turns full on OTT and filmy in its conclusion, Tatari executes it in such visual form that it gets the right emotion from its viewer nonetheless. The best thing he does however is to leave the space on screen for his actors to perform to their comfort level, he provides them the scope and range to create their own interpretation on screen. 

This is why the performances are a delight. Supporting players specifically Vishakha Singh and Poali Dam give great showings. Among the three leads, Arjun Mathur stands well alongside his more accomplished counterparts. He emotes with energy and true meaning. 

The real livewires though are the other two leads and thespians Tisca Chopra and KK Menon. Menon is a force of nature, and he plays through the film with brilliance. He exudes the arrogance with ease but his body language also presents a much more conflicted yet determined and scare individual at hand. Watch him in a scene alongside Vishaka Singh where he speaks of god and his faults, the characters viewpoint may be wrong but Menon for a second makes you believe in it with his powerful delivery. 

He is just slightly outdone by Chopra. She takes the more melodramatic portions and turns in a very genuine performance. Her range of expression highlight her grief, anger and eventual joy with simplicity. She is hard to let your eyes off from, especially when she gives great meaning in her body language in misjudged scenes such as when she in her mind witnesses Ankur's death on the hospital bed even though she wasn't there to see it. 

The biggest letdown though, is the unnecessary and god awful music of the film. None of the songs really matter and don't sound that well either. 

Verdict: Content

There were a lot of faults with the script, but with Vikram Bhatt at the helm of that it was expected. The director does his best to get the viewer invested at least. On the other end of the spectrum were the performers involved, while Mathur and Dam were surprises. There was no denying that Chopra and Menon would deliver powerhouse performances. 

I was really content with this film and due to its thought provoking message, enjoyed it more than other 6.6 films on the list.  

Next: Romance comes back with a bang! Amongst other interesting concepts! Tintin's Top Thirty Best Bollywood Films of 2013!

'Nuff Said

Aneesh Raikundalia

1 comment: