Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu

Average is Good…

Pic: Dharma Productions; Source: Wikipedia

“Average is good”, says Riana Braganza (Kareena Kapoor) to Rahul Kapoor (Imran Khan) and that line sums up the film for me. Shakun Batra’s Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu is not a brilliantly made film, nor is it bad. It is average and average in a good way. The film manages to entertain but not delight; people wear good clothes, look good and deal with day to day issues of life, except they deal with it by getting drunk and getting married in Las Vegas!

Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu (EMAET) is not like What Happens in Vegas, except the getting drunk and marrying a stranger part. It is also not like 500 Days of Summer, except the day-wise narrative style (linear here though). It is also not like Jab We Met, except the full of life female lead who teaches the guy how to live… EMAET is all this strung together in an interesting screenplay (Shakun Batra, Ayesha Devitre) and a refreshing treatment for a Hindi film.

Rahul is a young architect who works in a leading firm in Las Vegas; despite staying in one of the most exciting cities in the world, he leads a dull life. Riana on the other hand likes to live life on her own terms; she is a hairstylist by profession and a serial dater. Both of them meet one day, get drunk and married. As expected, cupid strikes while they help and sort out each other… this is where the director does something different (and makes the film interesting) by taking the road less travelled.

The film’s supporting cast entertains the most… Boman Irani, Ratna Pathak Shah and Kareena’s family members (whose names I do not know) are brilliant. I am usually not very impressed with Imran’s acting skills but he does well in this film as a tedious guy with parent issues. Kareena is good but I am surprised with how much more attention the director has showered on Imran as compared to her. Amit Trivedi’s music goes well with the film but nothing memorable. EMAET looks good, thanks to the cinematography by David Mac Donald, production design (read great looking houses and locations) by Shashank Tere and fabulous clothes by Manish Malhotra and Shiraz Siddique.

The film works on the rom-com meter and has some fun moments. It is short and crisp with under two-hours running time that keeps it from dragging. Go watch it for some light entertainment…

– Shrey Khetarpal

 

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Mere Brother Ki Dulhan

Like Flat Cola…

MBKD; Source: Wikipedia

Let me begin by confessing that I have been a big fan of Yash Raj brand of cinema with beautiful people dressed in designer wear, great locales, melodious music, large family celebrations and of course a love story somewhere in all this. Having said that, I also applaud the innovative ideas and fresh concepts they’ve been presenting on-screen over the last decade. However, their latest offering Mere Brother Ki Dulhan doesn’t live up to the high standards of Yash Raj romances, nor it stands out based on an innovative concept.

The film’s title gives away the basic plot, the leading man falls in love with his brother’s bride-to-be; which is something we have seen earlier in Sorry Bhai (2008) and The Family Stone (2005). Of course, all three films are different in their treatment and Mere Brother Ki Dulhan (MBKD) appeared to be a light entertainer; it is light, yes; but entertainer? No.

MBKD is a story about two brothers, Luv (Ali Zafar of Tere Bin Laden fame) who is based in London and Kush (Imran Khan), an Indian film maker. The two brothers love and understand each other so much that the elder one, Luv asks the younger one to find him an Indian bride. Here we are treated to Tanu Weds Manu style scenes where Kush and family go from town to town meeting weird girls and their families over samosas and jalebis. Finally he’s able to find a suitable match for his brother, the beautiful and rebellious, Dimple (Katrina Kaif). Luv and Dimple approve the alliance after a short video chat and the two families move into a guest house in Delhi to simultaneously plan and celebrate the wedding. Kush and Dimple immerse themselves into the wedding preparations and having loads of fun before Luv arrives. You can easily guess what happens next so I will stop here with the plot.

The problem with the film is not only the predictable story (writer, director: Ali Abbas Zafar; not the actor) but lack of any excitement and fun. The crackling chemistry we saw between the lead pair in Yash Raj’s last shaadi style film, Band Baaja Baaraat is completely missing in this one. There are good looking actors in the film but they don’t light up the screen together; plus they all appear to be trying too hard to be funny. Even the songs that usually set the tone for a wedding themed film are completely flat and boring (music: Sohail Sen).

Watch it if you are a Katrina fan as she gets maximum scope in the film; though I’d recommend watching Band Baaja Baaraat again on DVD.

My rating: ** Two on five

 

Delhi Belly

If profanities offend you, please do not read any further…

Pic: UTV, Aamir Khan Productions

(Spoiler alert: basic plotline shared in the post)

Delhi Belly is a story of three fuckers, Tashi (Imran Khan), Nitin (Kunaal Roy Kapur) and Arup (Vir Das) who stay in a shithole in Delhi. Tashi likes to think he’s a serious journalist stuck doing fuck-all feature reporting. He has a dominating girlfriend, Sonya (Shenaz Treasury) but also gets attention from a fellow reporter with an American accent, Menaka (Poorna Jagannathan). Arup is a graphic designer in an advertising agency and doesn’t have the balls to stand up to his mean boss or his witch of a girlfriend. Nitin is a photo-journalist who plans to blackmail his landlord with sleazy pictures of him with a whore, to avoid paying the rent. Shit happens when the three get accidentally involved in a diamond smuggling racket and deliver shit (literally) to a don (Vijay Raaz).

If you do not approve of the language in the paragraph above, then please do not waste your time and money on Delhi Belly. I am not saying that the film’s only highlight is the coarse language but it is what gets the most laughs; and I haven’t used any of the Hindi cuss words the film is peppered with. Delhi Belly is certainly more than the swear words used in its dialogue but its strength is the smart writing (Akshat Verma). The film does not focus on one central character but the ridiculous situations the three room-mates find themselves in. The writer uses shock factor well, whether it’s the language or the numerous farts or the suggested blow-jobs! While the urban Indian audience is used to all this with films like The Hangover but it is certainly shocking for a Bollywood mainstream film to be so daring. The good thing is that the director, Abhinay Deo manages to keep the film light and entertaining and not let it become offensive.

All the actors have done a good job, especially Kunaal Roy Kapur and Vir Das. Kunaal actually has the title role and his expressions on the commode are priceless (and equally disgusting, coupled with the fart sound effects). The girls are good too but the real show-stealer is Vijay Raaz, who apart from being a superb actor, abuses so well that he can be awarded an honorary doctorate in profanities. I am not a big Imran Khan fan but he did a fine job in the film.

Coming back to the shock factor, Delhi Belly’s music also contributes with songs like ‘Bhaag D K Bose D K Bose’,Jaa Chudail’ and ‘Shake Your Biscuit Baby’ (Music by Ram Sampath; lyrics by Amitabh Bhattacharya, Munna Dhiman, Ram Sampath, Akshat Verma and Chetan Shashital). Music is enjoyable and thankfully plays in the background without disturbing the film’s flow except ‘Jaa Chudail’ that brings back the dream-sequence phenomenon. The much talked about item song by the film’s producer, Aamir Khan comes in the end but wasn’t really required. Cinematography by Jason West is first rate and Huzefa Lokhandwala (editor) maintains the film’s fast pace and crisp length.

There are some scenes in the film where you feel they’re trying too hard to appear cool but you quickly forget that with the next scene. Overall, Delhi Belly is a fun film to watch and it is refreshing to see our Censor board growing up. Go watch it but not with your parents 😉

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

– Shrey Khetarpal

Bollywood Wishlist

 

Expectations from the Hindi Film Industry in the next decade

Tabu in The Namesake

A lot has changed in Bollywood in the last decade and most of it for good. While bad films continued to pour in like a plague, there were many innovations and experiments that took the ‘industry’ to the next level…

Good writing finally gained the importance it deserves; casting started happening according to the characters and not based on the star power, and of course the technical improvements; Bollywood flicks covered a lot of ground in the last ten years. Specifically in 2010, the industry woke up to the power of small films that shadowed the biggies and hope this trend continues where content is the king. However, with so many improvements, there are still some irritants that we can do without.

Here’s my wish-list for Bollywood in the next decade:

Better roles for better actors: There are many good actors but a lot of times they do not get the right roles to play due to silly factors like star camps, favoritism and the actors’ own choices. Case in point Rani Mukherji, a supremely talented actress who did not get any powerful roles post 2005 when she was seen in Black, Bunty aur Babli and Paheli. Hopefully No One Killed Jessica works for her and she gets better films than the Hadippas andChunari Ka Daags of the world.

Similarly for Amitabh Bachchan, it is time that he only takes up quality work and avoids films like Teen Patti, Aladinand God Tussi Great Ho. Another fine actress, Tabu deserves better roles; her performances in Maqbool, Cheeni Kum and Chandni Bar were outstanding and with The Namesake, she garnered international acclaim. She has been signed on by none other than Ang Lee for his ambitious 3D project, Life of Pi; let’s hope that Bollywood also wakes up again to her talent.

Click here to read full post that appeared on nowrunning.com on January 3.

 

Rom-Com Gone

 

Bollywood’s Romantic Comedies fail to impress in 2010

Romantic comedies or rom-coms have worked well in Hollywood and in the recent past the trend has taken off in Bollywood also with movies like Hum Tum, Jab We Met and Love Aaj Kal. With young directors at helm, the concepts are more urbane, the look more stylish and the issues more inane in these films. They have the potential to work as they provide two things to the young audience today – relatable themes, “oh! This happened to my friend” and escapism in the form of beautiful people in designer clothes at fabulous locations; however, this year has seen a spate of disappointing rom-coms. This is what I think of Bollywood’s rom-coms in 2010, starting with this week’s release, Break Ke Baad:

Pic: Kunal Kohli Productions

Break Ke Baad

The girl, Aaliya Khan (Deepika Padukone) is more believable than the guy, Abhay Gulati (Imran Khan)… she is independent, headstrong, enjoys attention but no intervention; the guy is sensitive, caring, packs her undergarments neatly in her bags and has no life other than her. Childhood romance wanes off for the girl but not for the guy; she dumps him but he follows her to win her back. From being every girl’s dream guy, Imran’s character slips into this spineless creature who is described as an ATM machine in the film as machines only give not ask for something. Deepika’s character earns the title of a cold heated b*tch (courtesy: my fellow movie watchers) to a chudail / witch (courtesy: Pammi Bua played by Lillete Dubey). Both actors try hard but their limited acting abilities and a lacklustre script don’t help; the fun elements in the first half appear repetitive and boring in the second.

The world is a ridiculously nice place in this Danish Aslam directed rom-com, where Abhay gets visa on arrival in Australia and stays on to build a chain of successful restaurants from scratch in a couple of months. On the other hand Aaliya comes armed with a full scholarship to the University of Goldcoast; checks into a sea-facing resort like accommodation for just 600 Australian Dollars for six months, gets noticed by a casting director in a college play and becomes an international movie star (really now!)

If the girls watching the film with me found it cute in the beginning, the climax disappointed them also in a big way. Break Ke Baad has a lot of smart lines, some good clothes (and some bad), good locations and an average music score (Vishal Shekhar); the film falters with a thread-bare script, the lack of crackling chemistry between the lead pair and the lamest ending in the recent past. The film has an interesting supporting cast featuring Sharmila Tagore, Lillete Dubey, Shahana Goswami and Yudhishter Urs but that’s not good enough to hold the film together. I won’t write off the film completely as the three girls who watched it with me seemed to like it but it certainly isn’t a film that can make it to anyone’s must-watch list.

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

Pic: Dharma Productions

I Hate Luv Stories

Well what do I say… doesn’t the film’s title says enough? Boy meets girl, girl believes in candy-floss-romance and the boy hates luv stories (please note, he doesn’t hate love stories, smart!) Directed by Punit Malhotra, the film was produced by Dharma Productions and worked well on the box-office, however I am yet to meet anyone who luved this film. Sonam Kapoor plays Simran, a die-hard romantic whose clothes match her boyfriend Raj’s (Samir Dattani) shirts or vice-versa; she is an art director working on a big ticket romantic flick, directed by a Karan Johar like film maker. Jay (Imran Khan) hates such cinema but is still assisting on the film; he also shows off his newly acquired abs to Bruna Abdullah in a song, to make us believe that he is the new age Casanova. Opposites attract and Simran falls for Jay but Jay hates luv stories, end of chapter one. In chapter two, Jay realises his mistake as he luvs love stories but Simran goes back to Raj who buys her white gerberas daily (remember, daily one red balloon in Dil Chahta Hai?) Chapter three… you know what happens. Punit Malhotra and Sonam Kapoor’s twitter squabble with Shobhaa De after she ripped apart the film in print was more interesting than the film itself.

My rating: * * Two stars on five

Pic: Cinergy Productions

Jhootha Hi Sahi

It was Abbas Tyrewala’s next directorial after the hugely successful, Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na; John Abraham’s first production with music by maestro, A R Rahman. The expectations were sky high with an interesting working title, 1-800-LOVE. The film eventually came out as Jhootha Hi Sahi and all the expectations came crashing down. The music did not work very well (though I like the Cry Cry song) and everyone wondered who this mature actress opposite John is? She turned out to be the director’s wife who was also credited for the script – Pakhi Tyrewala. After all, it is all about loving your family, eh… wife. The film tried to recreate the magic of American sitcoms like Friends and How I Met Your Mother but somehow couldn’t manage to get the same chilled out feel on-screen largely due to the weak screenplay. Having said that, I love the way London’s beautiful summer is captured in the film.

My rating: * * Two stars on five

Pic: PVR Pictures

Aisha

Fantastic promos, an interesting cast, great publicity stills and a peppy soundtrack… Aisha looked like it is going to be the ultimate chick-flick to come out of Bollywood. Inspired by Jane Austen’s Emma, the film ended up to be more like a documentary on the lifestyles of the rich and famous young Delhites. The film surely has great clothes on showcase but one can go to Delhi’s Emporio or Select Citywalk mall to see that or can watch The Devil Wears Prada again. Sonam only looked good and Abhay Deol was wasted in this Rajshree Ojha directed film. Producer, Rhea Kapoor is now thinking of desi Alice in Wonderland with sister Sonam and more fabulous clothes. Hmm…

My rating: * * Two stars on five

Pic: Eros International

Anjaana Anjaani

Two suicidal protagonists, Aakash (Ranbir Kapoor) and Kiara (Priyanka Chopra), who decide to have some fun in the last few days of their lives and end up falling in love. They are both poor but wear trendy clothes, visit hep night clubs at New York’s Times Square and Las Vegas… I quite like their lifestyle actually! They try to die by wrapping cling-wrap around their faces (now you know why it isn’t a toy, keep it out of reach of children) and jumping off a bridge, but they don’t. Fifteen minutes into the film, you start praying for them to die so that the film gets over but they don’t; instead Zayed Khan is also unleashed by director, Siddharth Anand on us to increase the Chinese torture. Both Priyanka and Ranbir are good actors and promising stars but they should look hard at the scripts they choose. Siddharth Anand on his part is creating a library of mediocre rom-coms.

My rating: * * Two stars on five

Pic: Yash Raj Films

 

Pyaar Impossible

As a policy I cannot comment on a film I haven’t seen; and I could not drag myself to the theatre for this one after watching the trailers only, despite all my love for Yash Raj Films.

Pic: Yash Raj Films

 

Band Baaja Baaraat is the last rom-com to hit the screens before the year ends, am hoping the year ends on a bright note for this genre.

 

Shrey Khetarpal


PS: Don’t think that I don’t like romance / rom-coms as a genre; I am just a disappointed film buff. Click here to read my earlier post on the best romantic films according to me.