Dabangg 2

Lazy film-making at its best

Pic source: Wikipedia

I watched Dabangg 2 in the heart of Manhattan at a multiplex in Times Square, and did not expect the audience response I witnessed… people whistled, clapped and shouted Salman Khan’s name as the opening credits rolled with visuals from the first film (Dabangg, 2010). That’s the amazing star-power of the film’s lead actor who has the same effect on the desi audience as Edward Cullen on teenage (and slightly older) girls. The cheering returned with the first fight sequence, with the song where Malaika Arora Khan aka ‘Munni’ appears and then later with Kareena Kapoor’sFavicol’ (sic) item song. It seems everyone enjoyed the film or the whole ritual of watching a Salman flick and to be honest, I did too, but films like these are like doing a shot of tequila… you do it because everyone in the party is doing one and then you forget about it. I know, there’s little sense in that comparison but there’s little sense in cinema like the Dabangg franchise.

Dabangg 2 is nothing but an average copy of the much smarter first film. Right after the first fight sequence you know the director, Arbaaz Khan along with the writer, Dilip Shukla, are lazy filmmakers. There is nothing in the film that you haven’t seen before. Abhinav Kashyap, the director of the first film presented it as a cheesy action-comedy-romance that also surprised you at many levels. In this one, there are no clever lines (remember, “thappad se darr nahi lagta saheb, pyaar se lagta hai”) and even the action pales in comparison. It is Salman porn at best and the filmmakers are simply cashing in on that. I don’t have anything to say about the performances by Sonakshi Sinha, Arbaaz Khan, Vinod KhannaPrakash Raj and Deepak Dobriyal, as other characters really don’t matter in this film.

While I enjoyed the experience of watching this film, I wonder if I will ever look back at it as a film-buff. It fits into the convenient category created by Bollywood called, “mindless cinema” and the blame is on the audience. Yes, we may be enjoying this stuff today but we do deserve something better from our filmmakers who have become incredibly lazy and only care about the box office. Movies like Dabangg 2 are like Bollywood’s American Pie and Final Destination series and let’s not let them define what Indian cinema is all about. Come on Bollywood filmmakers, we’ll tolerate and many times enjoy these mindless flicks, but bring out the stuff that makes us think, makes us cry and makes us fall in love again with your art.

 

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Ek Tha Tiger

Hit Hai Boss!

Pic source: Wikipedia

To be honest, I did not expect much from Ek Tha Tiger. Of course, it was in my must watch list like most Bollywood movies but I was skeptical about a Salman Khan film directed by Kabir Khan. Don’t get me wrong, I do not doubt the director’s ability to make a nice film; his Kabul Express was quite good and New York was also nice. However, I had my reservations about him combining the mindless fun of a Salman blockbuster with that of a thriller. Could he create something ridiculous yet fun like Wanted that fans of Salman Bhai love? Could he stay true to the romantic-thriller genre and avoid the silliness of a regular Salman blockbuster? I was worried that the filmmaker will try to combine both and fail miserably.

Fortunately, I was proved wrong and Ek Tha Tiger managed to reach the level of a decent entertainer. The plot is less ridiculous than usual Bhai films, but there are big tiger sized loopholes (story by Aditya Chopra; screenplay by Kabir Khan & Neelesh Misra). One has to keep shunning out logic and common sense throughout the film but the director has built in enough applause worthy Bhai moments to make up for that. There are enough thrills like the elaborate opening fight sequence shot in Iraq where Tiger (Salman) sledges down the stairs in a marketplace while shooting at the enemies; or when he stops a tram from crashing, using his blazer alone! Coming back to the story, the first half is quite predictable but the chemistry between Salman and Katrina make it watchable. The real fun starts post interval where our desi James Bond, RAW agent, Tiger decides to fight for his love instead of his nation.

Katrina Kaif as Zoya is quite good in the film and you can’t help but applaud at her stunts and parkour skills (of course, there was a body double but that’s not the point). There are more exaggerated stunts that make you jump in your seat – no they’re not the most sophisticated ones but most ridiculously fun, like the usual Salman stuff. The film is shot across the world at picturesque and exotic locations like Ireland, Cuba, Thailand and Turkey. Aseem Mishra does justice to all these locations and the good looking lead pair with his cinematography. However, I fail to understand why so many slow motion sequences were there including milk being poured in a vessel!

The biggest let down in the film is its ending. The film almost ends abruptly while you’re having loads of fun and expect it to continue for fifteen more minutes. But I guess there was nothing more left to say or show so the director decided to just wrap up after a masaledaar sequence. The final montage of Salman and Katrina at popular places around the world is hilarious and could have been avoided. Music by Sohail Sen is disappointing and there is not one song I can say I liked; the one popular number, Mashallah is also done by guest composers – Sajid-Wajid. Background score by Julius Packiam is interesting with music elements from the respective countries where the scenes are set in; and also the introduction music piece for Tiger.

Ek Tha Tiger is definitely a onetime watch and if possible go in a large group to a single screen theatre to enjoy the ceeties and the hooting.

Rowdy Rathore

Rain is good, film is bad…

Pic source: Wikipedia

I enjoyed Wanted and Dabangg and Singham… so I am not against big budget masala films that have exaggerated, and at times ridiculous plots. But I am against badly made films that are made with one assumption in mind – that the audience is dumb. Prabhudheva’s Rowdy Rathore featuring Akshay Kumar and Sonakshi Sinha falls in the latter category. Mindless entertainment if done well works but that also requires some thought and not mindless collation of scenes like Rowdy Rathore (RR) – 15 comic, 12 emotional, 11½ action (½ extra for slow motion), 10 regressive, 5 sexist, 35 WTF was that, peppered with a zillion average songs (music – Sajid Wajid).

I have talked about the best ways to enjoy such films earlier  in my post about Salman Khan’s Ready; it essentially tells you to give in and laugh at the stupidity you see on screen. I tried doing all that during RR but with limited success. The first forty-five minutes of the film are unbearably bad and require all your will power and laziness combined to not leave the theatre.

At the beginning of the film, we are introduced to Shiva (Akshay), a small time thief / con-man who has this weird theme song-cum-slogan – Chin Ta Ta Chita Chita (the director very kindly explains the meaning in the second half). We are also introduced to Paro (Sonakshi), a girl from Patna who is visiting Mumbai for a wedding and falls for the first guy she sees on the streets; it doesn’t matter if he’s a thug, in fact his honesty about his ‘profession’ impresses her the most. Her hobbies include displaying her ample midriff and dancing skills. Ok, now forget Sonakshi till the last half an hour of the film where she’ll make an appearance again for 3 scenes and another dance number. At this point, the director adds a lot of confusion with an ornate wooden trunk full of teddy bears and a little girl; a case of mistaken identity (we meet Akshay Kumar 2 aka Vikram Rathore); angry weapon-wielding goons from Bihar, running around the streets of Mumbai. There is however one scene before the interval that is thoroughly enjoyable, where our hero is badly injured – has been stabbed by a 15-inch knife and has some trouble with a blood vessel in his brain. But just like Jaadu, the sunlight loving alien from Koi Mil Gaya, he regains his energy and powers with rain drops. I must applaud the special effects team for creating the most impressive first rain drop in that sequence and tracing its journey from the clouds to Rathore’s forehead.

The action shifts to a small lawless town in Bihar in the second half; and we get to solve the mystery of the mad goons who visit Mumbai with swords, axes and lathis. Writer, Shiraz Ahmed and director, Prabhudheva add everything here to make it 90s style masala potboiler – there’s abduction, rape, murder, ugly giant villain, song, dance, forced comedy, car blasts, dhishoom-dhishoom and a lot more. All this also does not make RR an enjoyable, mindless flick.

Rowdy Rathore is amongst the worst films I have seen in the recent times but it still doesn’t beat Akshay’s other best worst films – Chandni Chowk To China and Tees Maar Khan. Watch it if you are a big Akshay fan or just save your hard earned money.

 

Bodyguard

If you are bored of logic, this is the film for you…

Bodyguard; Reliance Entertainment

By now I hope everyone knows what to expect from an action-comedy starring Salman Khan… if you still look for a decent story or even logic in the film then you are really slow and should get yourself checked (seriously, a dog learns faster than you!) Also, if you are incapable of enjoying such a film without using a shred of your brain then I recommend watching it after a terrible work week / day or under the influence of alcohol. Now coming to the point; this post is supposed to be a review of Salman’s latest blockbuster, Bodyguard and I am tempted to copy-paste my review of Ready. However, in order to sustain the small readership of my blog, I will try (not promising) to write something different unlike the Salman movie template that filmmakers are using so successfully these days.

First things first, I enjoyed Bodyguard. I know I just lost 90 points on the film snob scale but yes I am guilty of helping the film earn over a billion rupees in just 4 days. Before booking the tickets I knew that the film will be a senseless collation of action scenes and crude jokes. That clear setting of expectations helped me not only sit through the film but laugh at it. Management schools and our so called spiritual gurus can use his films and apply these learnings to business and life. More about that later and back to the film for now… Since I have talked about the template to make a hit Salman film; let me share the same with Bodyguard in focus. Please note it is an exclusive reveal for the readers of this blog…

  • Choose a South Indian hit film to remake with Khanon Mein Khan, Salman Khan. If you use the same writer-director then you don’t have to pay extra royalties; economies of scale you see. Bodyguard is written and directed by Siddique who has made the film in three other languages (Malayalam, Tamil and Telugu).
  • Assign a cute name for Salman’s character – Radhe in Wanted, Chulbul Pandey in Dabangg and Lovely Singh in Bodyguard.
  • Be very careful to ensure any amount of authenticity or realistic elements should not creep into the film. Keep it as unrealistic and unbelievable as possible. Action sequences that seem impossible and even ridiculous must be incorporated. Think of stuff like a big wooden crate full of tiny thermocol balls falling on Salman and shattering into pieces. Bodyguard manages to do that very well including a nightclub dhishoom-dhishoom scene where he kills many people without the police getting to know anything.
  • Be innovative in the ways to showcase Salman’s body… usual wind is passé; think of bulging muscles leading to the shirt tearing itself like Dabangg. In Bodyguard, they use a powerful jet of water that throws his shirt away from his body.
  • Never compromise on technology as that’s the future… A killer remote controlled helicopter toy that has razor sharp rotor blades and can cut everything – potted plants, glass doors or the heroine’s delicate neck; Bodyguard nails this part. This is better than Ironman!
  • At least one character who would get beaten up by Salman, by the mob and anyone who appears in the film. This character is designed to endure any sort of humiliation and physical abuse like burning his bum with a hot iron. There is one in Bodyguard too, named Tsunami Singh (Rajat Rawail).
  • A huge list of baddies whom Salman can beat up and break their bones like twigs. They are supposed to be after his life or the heroine’s life without, please note this is important, without any solid reason.
  • Songs that have ridiculous lyrics but are catchy; these can be placed in the film at regular intervals and one need not worry about their connection with the story. Himesh Reshammiya and Pritam have done a good job in Bodyguard and you can’t help but enjoy the title track and the Desi Beat song. However, they are not as iconic as Salman’s Dabangg and Ready numbers.
  • Give a killer line to Salman that all the auto-rickshaw wallahs and cabbies can use and paint on their vehicles. Bodyguard does not disappoint on this front and has given us this gem: “Mujh par ek ehsaan karna, ki mujh par koi ehsaan na karna” (please do me a favour by not doing any favour for me).
  • The heroine – now this is where you can bring variety and there is no fixed description in the template except the low IQ clause for the character. You can either hire an A-lister like Kareena or a newbie like Sonakshi or even a not so successful actress like Ayesha Takia. This completely depends on the filmmaker’s budget. However, I must admit that Kareena looks good in Bodyguard.

The other things that are not very important are good editing and being politically correct in your writing as you can pass off anything under the garb of humour.

This is a perfect template of making an action-comedy blockbuster but ONLY with Salman Khan in the lead. 80% of the film’s success depends on his sheer presence there. His loyal fans ensure that the weekend collections do not disappoint. Do not try this recipe with Viveik Oberoi or any other actor.

Do watch Bodyguard if you are a Salman fan or are simply tired of logic in your life.

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

– Shrey Khetarpal