Don 2

The King is back… or is he not?

Don 2; Source: Wikipedia

Shah Rukh Khan’s second outing as Don may not be an edge-of-the-seat thriller but it has enough action and style to qualify as an average entertainer. Directed by Farhan Akhtar, Don 2 suffers from the same old Bollywood problem – a weak script (story & screenplay – Ameet Mehta, Ambrish Shah and Akhtar himself). Instead we are offered fancy locales, exciting stunts and oodles of style… oh, and of course, King Khan.

While the first Don (2006) was a remake of Amitabh Bachchan starrer of the same name (1978); it packed a lot more punch and a killer twist in the end as compared to its sequel. The biggest strength of the film is SRK who seems to enjoy playing the bad guy. He is effortlessly cool and sinister in most sequences but has some cringe-worthy moments towards the end where his ‘love-interest’, Roma is involved. Priyanka Chopra reprises the role of Roma, the tough Interpol cop who is still licking her wounds after being fooled by Don in the first film. She has nothing much to do in the film except being called ‘Jungli Billi’ (wild cat) by Don and a little am-a-cop-and-I-can-kick-ass sequence towards the end. Lara Dutta in her brief role steals Ms. Chopra’s thunder in the glamour department and sheer screen presence. Newcomer, Saahil Shroff sadly doesn’t get enough scope and other actors including Om Puri, Boman Irani and Kunal Kapoor are fine in their respective roles.

The film’s other strength is its style quotient for which the Akhtar siblings are well known for. Don 2 is the first Hindi film to be shot in Germany (Berlin) and naturally the locales look refreshing. There are some interesting stunts including SRK’s 300 metre jump from a skyscraper (though it pales in front of Tom Cruise’s Burj Khalifa adventures that we recently witnessed in MI4) and an elaborate car chase sequence where sponsor, Hyundai’s cars prove to be the best. There is an elaborate bank robbery meets 26/11-style hostage crisis sequence that forms the second half of the film. The actors’ styling in the film is quite impressive including Don’s menacing long-haired and un-kept look in the Malaysian jail, followed by well fitted jackets and over coats. Lara looks stunning while Priyanka has some off moments, including one where she chases Don in a slinky designer gown (costume: Jaimal Odedra; hair: Walter Dorairaj, Diane Commisariat). Cinematography by Jason West is also first grade with fantastic aerial shots of Berlin, Thailand and Malaysia.

While the film scores high on style, its slow pace and the length prove detrimental (editing: Anand Sobaya). Despite borrowing heavily from the first film’s soundtrack, music director trio of Shankar, Ehsaan and Loy deliver a below average music score.

Overall, Don 2 disappoints and is certainly not a fitting return for the King. However, it is also not a bad film and is definitely a one-time watch for fans of the franchise and SRK.

My rating: * * * Three on five

– Shrey Khetarpal

Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara

Philosophy, fun and travel porn… 

Pic: Excel Ent; Source: Wikipedia

Zoya Akhtar (director) gave us Luck By Chance, a beautiful and sensitive film that sadly not many watched… I guess she realized that her off-beat sensibilities need better commercial sheen to appeal to a wider audience in India. Her next film, Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (ZNMD) is not a regular potboiler but is packaged like one (smarter though) with beautiful people who travel first class, buy Birkins and drive through exotic locations in vintage cars.

Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara is a film about friendship and discovering what you want from life… after all you only get to live once. It is a story about three friends on a road trip that changes their lives; it is a simple plot but the way it is presented is what makes all the difference (screenplay: Zoya and Reema Kagti).  The film has a light mood, many fun moments and you are constantly reminded that there’s one life to live. All this is packaged beautifully in an extended Spain Tourism show-reel! No, I am not complaining. It is almost like travel porn where beautiful images just keep coming on the screen and you start dreaming about visiting the place (cinematography: Carlos Catalan); from bright yellow corals in blue waters to wild horses running along your car; art galleries, charming cafés to the world’s biggest food fight, La Tomatina.

At about 135 minutes, the film is a bit too long and a little bit of brutal editing would have helped (editing: Anand Subaya); but at the same time the film’s relaxed pace lets you enjoy the moments and the visuals. Dialogues by Farhan Akhtar are witty and bring a smile to your face; a lot of the scenes remind you of your conversations with your friends. That’s where ZNMD wins, the film doesn’t try too hard to make you laugh or cry; it just involves you in what’s happening.

The actors have all done a fine job with Kalki and Katrina emerging as surprise packages. They fit the characters perfectly; Kalki of a SOBO girl who loves her Chanels and Hermés and is possessive of her fiancé; and Katrina of a half-Indian fashion student cum diving instructor. Both the girls appear quite natural and you don’t mind their accents as well. Amongst the boys, Farhan walks away with the coolest lines, except the poetry that wasn’t really required; Abhay is cool and Hrithik is alright. I say alright, because he’s done a fine job except a few scenes where you wonder if the brief to him was to over-act (look out for a scene involving a video-call with a Japanese client). Spanish actress, Adriana Cabrol has a small and likeable role.

Music by Shankar, Ehsaan & Loy grows on you (lyrics: Javed Akhtar); while ‘Dil Dhadakne Do’, ‘Ik Junoon’ and ‘Senorita’ songs have become extremely popular, ‘Khaabon Ke Parindey’ is a beautiful track that stays with you (vocals: Alyssa Mendonsa and Mohit Chauhan). The only funny piece in the otherwise likeable background score is a little instrumental piece from ‘Saare Jahan Se Accha Hindustaan Hamara’ that plays right before the lead actors go for sky-diving.

Overall, ZNMD is an enjoyable film if you don’t get irritated with the whole lifestyle-of-the-rich-and-famous presentation. It has an interesting theme and of course the USP, the breathtakingly beautiful, Spain. 

Nos vemos en España amigos.

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

Pic: Excel Entertainment

 

Karthik Calling Karthik

 

A good attempt, but…

Pic: Excel Ent; Source: Wikipedia

What if you got a phone call from yourself? Writer-Director, Vijay Lalwani presents an innovative concept with his debut film, Karthik Calling Karthik. Congratulations to his producers, Excel Entertainment (Ritesh Sidhwani and Farhan Akhtar) for always trying something new, whether it works or doesn’t. Karthik Calling Karthik is an interesting thriller that could have been much better with tighter editing and maybe a better climax.

Karthik Narayan (Farhan Akhtar) plays an introvert whose existence goes unnoticed at work unless someone has to shout at him. He likes a girl in his office, Shonali Mukherjee (Deepika Padukone) but is obviously too shy to even respond to her when she accidently acknowledges his presence. In other words, he is a complete loser. His life changes when he gets a call from Karthik Narayan; yes, that’s him only. I have to admit that the basic premise is extremely interesting and throughout the film there are situations that surprise you. I will not reveal the story any further as that would take away from the experience.

Farhan is good as a middle class working professional who aspires to succeed at work and also go out with the most attractive girl around. Deepika looks great with a new hair-do (something that all actors get in a film produced by Farhan… good job Adhuna!); she may not be a great actor but has good screen presence. What is good is her choice of characters of strong, modern Indian women. Shefali Shah has a short role that does not do justice to an actor of her caliber (Gandhi-My Father, Monsoon Wedding).

The music is just about fine (Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy) with ‘Uff teri adaa…’ becoming a chartbuster; it is a nice song and is shot well. Other songs were not really required as they stretched the narrative. In the technical department, editing could’ve been better as the film starts sagging especially in the second half. That’s where I blame the screenplay too; there is a very interesting build up but not so exciting resolution. That’s a problem which a lot of filmmakers face, where they do not know how to conclude a good plot line; Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes is another example where the film completely crashes towards the end.

Overall, you can give Karthik a call but don’t expect to be wowed.

My Rating: * * * Three stars on five

Shrey Khetarpal