Celebrating the Duds

 

The worst of Bollywood in 2010

Pic: Tees Maar Khan

Every year Bollywood churns out hundreds of movies and hundreds of them flop; only a handful of them get acceptance and are lauded by the viewers, and even fewer by the critics. Sometimes even the bad ones work at the box-office and nobody has any explanation for that, except maybe Sajid Khan as he manages to do that every time with his films (Heyy Babyy, Housefull). While the good ones will get felicitated at the multiple award ceremonies (the eternal optimist in me still believes in them a little bit); the bad ones are forgotten except by the financier or the distributor. This article is dedicated to the worst of Bollywood in 2010. Nobody really wants to make bad films or do bad work but maybe the filmmakers and actors learn something from these disasters.

Declaration: This column is the author’s expression of the pains he suffered by watching poorly made films, badly enacted scenes and other forms of torture deployed by the Bollywood-wallahs this year. The author payed through his nose to watch these films at expensive multiplexes and thinks that it is his right to give back. Should you disagree, please read no further; if you agree, do share your views on the worst of Bollywood in 2010.

RGV Ki Aag Memorial Award for the Worst Film: and the nominees based on the author’s personal views and a quick and dirty survey, are:

  • Anees Bazmee’s No Problem – Because the audience cannot be ‘Welcomed’ in ‘No Entry’ again and again
  • Farah Khan’s Tees Maar Khan – Because Khan Khan hota hai aur Kumar Kumar
  • Mani Ratnam’s Raavan – Because we had great expectations, Sir
  • Anurag Basu’s Kites – Because the controversy around the lead pair was more interesting than the film itself
  • Leena Yadav’s Teen Patti – Because you shouldn’t try to make desi ‘21’
  • Ken Ghosh’s Chance Pe Dance – Because the dancing was so bad
  • Sajid Khan’s Housefull – Because in reality Mr. Khan it is NOT your Titanic and you can NEVER make Avatar (Sajid Khan had compared Housefull to Titanic and promised Avatar on Komal Nahta’s show on ETC Channel)
  • Priyadarshan’s Aakrosh – Because if you can’t get it right then should leave Prakash Jha to make such cinema

And the award goes to Farah Khan for Tees Maar Khan. Recognition for ‘borrowing’ the story-line of an old, Italian flick (After the Fox, 1966) and ruining it with jokes that are not funny and scenes that are just randomly put together. However, I must mention the only good thing in the film – Katrina’s item song, ‘Sheila Ki Jawani’.

Click here to read full post that originally appeared on nowrunning.com

 

Bollywood’s Animal Heroes

 

And their outstanding contribution to Indian Cinema

Pic: Rajshri Productions

Bollywood’s Animal Heroes… No, I am not talking about Sanjeev Kumar from Jaani Dushman or Rahul Roy in Junoon or a shirtless Anil Kapoor; I am talking about real animals who outshone their films’ leading actors in their award-winning performances. Sadly, no award categories exist for these actors par excellence and their contribution to their films’ success went largely un-rewarded. This article is a tribute to some of the best performances by animals in leading roles.

This actor is probably the only one on this list who got the recognition he deserved. His likes became the most popular pets in the middle class and upper middle class Punjabi households. Naming one’s pet after him was like a status symbol and he literally started the trend of pet-styling in India. He is none other than India’s most popular dog actor, Tuffy the Pomeranian from Sooraj Barjatya’s 1994 blockbuster, Hum Aapke Hain Koun, also starring Madhuri Dixit and Salman Khan in supporting roles. Tuffy was not only a pet in the film but the lead character; he dressed well in fancy Nermés scarves and Golce & Dabbana sunglasses and had elaborate dance sequences picturised around him. His emotional scene where he refuses food after his mother figure, Pooja (Renuka Shahane) dies was restrained and showcased mastery over his craft. His big moment in the film is the climax where Lord Krishna himself blesses him to resolve the big crisis. Tuffy saves the day by getting two lovers together and making the film one of the biggest blockbusters in the history of Indian cinema.

Click here to read full post that originally appeared on nowrunning.com

 

Band Baaja Baaraat

 

Shaadi Mubarak –Wedding Planners of the Year

 

Pic: Yash Raj Films

Super bored of the designer romantic comedies released this year (read my earlier column, Rom Com Gone); I was looking forward to Yash Raj Films’ Band Baaja Baaraat (BBB) as the promos looked tacky (in a nice way) and fun. The film thankfully lived up to its promise of ‘Fultoo Dhamaal, Mother Promise!’ Yes, that’s the copy they’re using in the film’s promotional material. And that’s the kind of writing the film has, which makes it enjoyable. Written by director, Maneesh Sharma (story) and Habib Faisal (screenplay), the film’s strength lies in its middle class Delhi feel and the lack of polish making it so endearing.

About the lead pair, BBB has Anushka Sharma who reprises the simple yet feisty girl character again, two years after her debut as Taani in Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi. She plays Shruti Kakkar, a middle class girl from Delhi who has the dreams and the drive to make it big. Opposite her is Bittoo Sharma, played by newcomer, Ranveer Singh; a student in Delhi’s North Campus who wants to do binnesse (business) so that he does not have to manage his father’s sugarcane fields in Sahranpur. Shruti and Bittoo start a wedding planning binnesse in partnership called Shaadi Mubarak and achieve great success by leveraging each other’s strengths. However, the dream run does not last long as they break one major rule of binnesse, mixing vyaapar (business) with pyaar (love). Just like the plot, the film is great fun in the first half but loses steam towards the second only to have a predictable ending.

Anushka is impressive and appears extremely confident, while Ranveer nails the character of Bittoo with his look and mannerisms; Bread Pakore Ki Kasam like he says in the film. A special mention for the supporting cast, mostly unknown actors who fit the characters well; a flower vendor who looks like a flower vendor and not Anupam Kher type actor in bad make-up.

Coming back to the writing, the dialogue is sharp, witty and colloquial; all Dilliwallas can relate to the wrong use of English and Punjabified pronunciation. A large part of the film is shot in Delhi’s residential areas, making it look more relatable. Come to think of it, this kind of depiction of the city is not new but we have loved it again and again in films like Khosla Ka Ghosla, Oye Lucky Lucky Oye, Do Dooni Char and now Band Baaja Baaraat. Special mention for the production designers, Sonal Choudhry and T P Abid for retaining the Delhi feel and designing the kitschy wedding sequences, the USP of Shaadi Mubarak. Camerawork by Aseem Mishra is nice and some of the wedding sequences look like actual shaadi videos only. A big disappointment is the music by Salim Sulaiman, which fails to match the film’s energy.

Overall, Band Baaja Baaraat is a fun watch and if you’re looking for a light entertainer this week, then go for it.

My rating: * * * Three stars on five

– Shrey Khetarpal

 

Small Films, Big Impact

 

Low budget films worked where star studded mega-budget ventures failed in 2010

Tere Bin Laden; Source: Wikipedia

Every year there are mega-budget Bollywood films that shatter existing box office records but unfortunately there are only a handful of them; for every blockbuster like Dabangg, there is a mega-dud like Kites also.

Then there are big commercial hits that are so bad that their success can only be termed as embarrassing. As usual, this year also had a mix of such films, more debacles than successes in terms of the content or the box office performance. However, this year, we saw a number of small budget films where the content was the ultimate winner and they performed decently well commercially also; keeping in mind their low production costs and revenues through theatrical run and satellite rights.

It would be right to say that 2010 belongs to these well made gems that delivered on the promise of good cinema.

Topping my list is director, Vikramaditya Motwane’’s debut film Udaan. Click here to read full post on nowrunning.com where the article originally appeared on December 5, 2010.

Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey

 

Good intentions may not result in a good film

Pic: Ashutosh Gowarikar Productions

Lagaan’s Bhuvan, Swades’ Mohan Bhargava, Jodhaa and Akbar are some of the most memorable characters seen in the Indian cinema in the last decade. All these characters were created and brought alive by the same man, Ashutosh Gowarikar who became one of the most sought after filmmakers because of these characters and films. This is where the director fails with his latest offering, Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey (KHJJS). The film’s screenplay is adapted by Gowarikar himself from the book, ‘Do and Die’ by Manini Chatterjee, which is based on the Chittagong (in Bengal) Uprising of 1930. KHJJS presents the facts and happenings that led to the historical incident and what happened after that. In trying to cover these events with so many characters, the filmmaker does not focus on a few leading ones and as a result you do not connect with any as a viewer. It is not that he does not set the context but he tries to do that with all the characters and there are over twenty-five of them.

If Surjya Sen (Abhishek Bachchan) is the central character, then very little time is spent on building his story; it is revealed in the beginning that he is the leader of a freedom fighters’ group but in the rest of the film he just appears in between the sequences passing orders or looking somber. Kalpana Dutta (Deepika Padukone) is another revolutionary but again it seems that the director forgets about her in the middle of the film. If only some time was spent on developing these two characters, probably one would have related to them more. What kind of people were they; were they angry or scared or hurt at different occasions; all that is left to the viewers to decide. The uprising began with a group of sixteen teenagers approaching Surjya Sen to help them get their play-ground back, which the British soldiers had taken over. They want the freedom to play and in the bargain willing to help free Chittagong and the country. The first half of the film is all about introducing all these characters and them getting ready for the attacks on British establishments; the second half focuses on the attack and then what happens to each of the characters. Despite the two-hour fifty-five minute running time, the film does not do justice to any of them and makes for a tedious watch.   The good thing about the film is that not many people were aware of the Chittagong uprising and it has helped create that awareness; however as an entertainer the film does not work.

Performance wise, Abhishek and Deepika are very average and from the rest of the grown up supporting cast, only Vishakha Singh who plays Pritilata shines; Sikander Kher as Nirmal Sen is also fine except he doesn’t have many impactful scenes. The teenagers are very good and are the only ones you feel connected to, more because of their innocent motive and age.

Music by Sohail Sen is not very memorable and the only song you remember is the title track as that got played in the promos all the time. In the technical department also you do not see anything spectacular, cinematography is fine (Kiran Deohans) while editing is abrupt at times (Dilip Deo). Neeta Lulla’s costumes seem sponsored by a washing powder brand as they are very clean and white for the most part. Imagine a group of teenagers playing football and their dhotis stay absolutely white! However, in one scene you can notice a deliberate ink stain on Abhishek’s kurta as he is shown writing on his desk. The only thing that comes to your mind is, “Daag acche hain”. The dialogues are in flawless Hindi with the actors using a few odd Bengali words here and there and pronouncing ‘a’ as ‘o’ while taking names. Of course the film could not have been in Bengali keeping in mind the commercial aspect but at least their manner of speaking Hindi could have been adopted well. Maybe they really spoke good Hindi back then but am not aware so would not comment any further.

KHJJS is not what I’d like to remember Gowarikar for and like his last year’s disastrous film, What’s Your Rashee? I’d like to forget this one also.  I hope the director of Oscar nominated Lagaan comes back with a film worthy of this tag.

My rating: * * ½ Two and a half stars on five

– Shrey Khetarpal