Ra.One

Pic: Ra.One; Source: Wikipedia

Open letter to Shah Rukh Khan…

Dear Shah Rukh Khan,

Firstly congratulations for the spectacular opening of Ra.One and hope you manage to recover all the money you spent on the film. Not because it is a good film, but because you dared to dream and put your might behind a risky venture. You said it right, if you don’t make mega budget blockbusters in Bollywood, then who will?

Coming to the film, it is a major disappointment but don’t worry the masses in India are used to watching not-so-great or even silly films as long as they have their favourite stars; take the example of the recent Salman starrers, Ready & Bodyguard, and Rajnikanth’s Robot. Also, your film is a lot better than Shirish ‘Fizzle’ Kunder and Farah Khan’s masterpiece, Tees Maar Khan and Bollywood’s last sci-fi outing, Love Story 2050 (how I shudder at the thought of that film!)

You must praise your marketing team that kept the buzz alive around the film for over seven months. They did their job a little too well, as by the end of it, the whole country said, “Please stop, we’ll watch Ra.One”. They deserve a bonus. Others who deserve praise are your special effects team for creating some good sequences; I particularly like the scene where Ra.One regenerates with little Lego like digital cubes (too big to be called pixels). The few action scenes in the film are also nice and I hope the folks at Volkswagen are happy the way their cars were smashed. Kareena Kapoor did her best to look good and sizzle the screen in the Chammak Challo song; I believe that was the brief to her! Her make-up artist went beyond the brief to make her look smashing with blow-dried hair after she is rescued from a train wreck. Your villain, Arjun Rampal deserves a big fat bonus too as he proved to be the best thing about the film. Pity he didn’t get too much screen time.

Now coming to those whose payment you should put on hold. The director, Anubhav Sinha; firstly why did you hire him to lead a 150-crore project? His last film was called Cash, which didn’t earn any cash at the box-office! If it was because he wrote the story, that’s not an acceptable excuse as the story was nothing great with a concept borrowed from Hollywood (yes, we all watched Tron Legacy if not the original Tron). He did even worse with the screenplay where he had three accomplices (Kanika Dhillon, Mushtaq Sheikh & David Benullo); patchy writing peppered with crude jokes and lines that fell flat! You hired an Academy Award winner, Martin Walsh (Chicago) who edited all the wrong things (read action) from the film; part of the blame on the Indian editor, Sanjay Sharma; the film dragged and could’ve been good 20-minutes shorter. If you are thinking of a sequel, please do not work with any of them.

Regarding music, please give a show-cause notice to Vishal-Shekhar as well for doing a half baked job. One hit song does not create a great album but they just managed to save themselves with Chammak Challo, which became a bigger hit because of Akon and Kareena. Raftaarein and Dildara were also good songs but not smash-hits that are expected for a film like this. And what was that Criminal song? Choreographer Ganesh Hegde made it look like a B-grade party number focusing on everyone’s bum! Also, I hope you didn’t pay for any of the special appearances as all of them were disappointing. Priyanka Chopra, Sanjay Dutt and Rajnikanth, all were wasted in their cameos. If you did pay, please deduct from Mr. Sinha’s pay package.

Your charm worked in the film and made it watchable but your decision to wear that horrible wig in the first half is beyond me. I understand that you tried to please everyone with this film but that’s not possible. But keep trying different things, some will work and some won’t but that’s how generations will remember you, apart from the guy who brought romance back to Hindi cinema.

Sincerely,

A fan

My rating for the film: ** ½ Two and a half on five

Soundtrack

 

Nice film, which could have been good…

Soundtrack; Pic courtesy: SAREGAMA

First time director, Neerav Ghosh’s Soundtrack is an interesting film… it’s not technically perfect or impactful cinema that makes you think; it’s simply an interesting story told with above average performances. And these days in Bollywood, that’s good enough considering the trash that makes it to the big screen. I am not saying that we promote mediocrity but it’s good that certain filmmakers are experimenting with different stories, formats and genres. Soundtrack is one such film – it has a fresh story (for Bollywood), inspired by the Canadian film, ‘It’s All Gone Pete Tong’, which apparently is based on a true incident.

Soundtrack is about an emerging musician, DJ Raunak (Rajeev Khandelwal) whose career in Bollywood is just about to take off when he suddenly turns deaf. The first half of the film presents Raunak’s story from the time he arrives in Mumbai till he achieves acceptance and success in the music industry. He is not only passionate about his art but is almost arrogant about his talent. His success is accompanied by a so-called ‘rockstar’ lifestyle defined by drugs, alcohol and sex. The film’s second half focuses on Raunak dealing with his handicap and finding music in his life again.

Armed with a super premise, one would expect the filmmaker to deliver an impactful film that shocks and inspires you. However, the film falters on both aspects. The first half is very long and the party sequences look tacky. Rajeev also looks a little uncomfortable playing an arrogant guy who is almost always stoned or drunk or both. However, in the second half he is very good as a man who has lost what he valued the most in his life – his music. The film’s leading lady, Soha Ali Khan is also introduced in the second half and has an interesting character. I will not reveal her role but she does deliver a good performance. Another notable performance in the film is by Mohan Kapoor, who plays the owner of the club where Raunak plays initially and later his friend cum opportunistic manager.

While the basic plot and lead actors’ performances keep Soundtrack engaging; the writers’ (Neerav Ghosh, Rajiv Gopalakrishnan, Chintan Gandhi) attempt to make it smarter and arty pulls the film down. Scenes involving Raunak’s alter-ego, represented by a Joker are boring and silly. Also, the makers did not care about authenticity at all; many sequences, especially the ones on the beach are shot at an exotic location abroad while the film is set in Mumbai. Cinematography (Anshuman Mahaley) is not impressive and the editing (Sanjey Roderick, Ambar Vyas) leaves a lot to be desired. The biggest factor that does not work in Soundtrack’s favour is its soundtrack; the music (Midival Punditz, Karsh Kale) is average and does not impress while in the film, it’s supposed to be chartbuster material. Having said that, Soundtrack is a nice film and I recommend watching it once.

My rating: * * * Almost three on five

– Shrey Khetarpal

 

Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster

Oh see, they have a script…

Meet Saheb (Jimmy Sheirgill), a royal who has the status but no money; Chhoti Rani (Mahie Gill), his alcoholic and volatile biwi (wife) and Babloo (Randeep Hooda), a local goon (can’t really call him a gangster) who becomes her driver and later, lover. Tigmanshu Dhulia’sSaheb Biwi Aur Gangster’ lives up to the interesting title and keeps you engaged till the last sequence. In a time where film makers struggle to have a basic plot or present downright stupid stuff, Dhulia’s film has an interesting story (written by Dhulia himself and Sanjay Chouhan) and some interesting dialogue (cheesy at times though). Having said that, Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster falls short of being a perfect thriller due to its length.

The film’s strength, as mentioned earlier is its writing; while the story is largely predictable, you enjoy the numerous twists and turns in the screenplay. The other good thing about the film is an interesting cast and all of them justify their roles. Jimmy Sheirgill has great screen presence and his stylist helps him get the perfect royal look and demeanour. He is also an interesting choice to play a raja who has different moral yardsticks for himself and others; you don’t dislike him and yet you do not approve of his actions. Mahie Gill is confident and brings equal amount of madness and vulnerability to the character. And lastly, Randeep Hooda who is the surprise factor in the film; he shows how much he has grown as an actor since his first appearance as an NRI in Monsoon Wedding. He is convincing as a cheeky driver who has other motives on mind. His body language changes basis who he interacts with; he is submissive with Saheb and rogue with Saheb’s Biwi. The supporting cast however disappoints a bit as no one stands out; Deepal Shaw is completely wasted in a character that doesn’t grow.

The film’s music is nothing that you’d remember but the opening track, Jugni (vocals: Babbu Maan; music: Jaidev Kumar) is catchy and has some funny lyrics. The songs, especially the one where Saheb’s mistress is introduced could have been avoided. They do not help the movie but act as speed bumps in the otherwise engaging narrative.  Aseem Mishra’s cinematography is nice and so is the production design; they help set the right mood, which could have been a challenge keeping in mind the setting and the low budget of the film. The editor, Rahul Srivastava could have been a little bit more brutal and kept the film under two-hours to maintain the pace. Overall, Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster is an interesting one time watch if you’re willing to forgive some silly things here and there.

My rating: * * * Three on five

– Shrey Khetarpal