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.

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Kurbaan

 

It is not about Saifeena alone…

Pic: Dharma Productions; Source: planetbollywood.com

Rensil D’Silva’s directorial debut, Kurbaan thankfully goes beyond the pre-release hype created by the film’s posters and the saree presented to Kareena Kapoor by some Shiv Sainiks. It is a film about the discord between the western world, specifically the USA and the Islamic world. Does it do full justice to the subject of ‘Islamic Jihad’? I don’t think so but it does manage to come out as a gripping thriller with a message.

Kurbaan is about Avantika (Kareena Kapoor), a Psychology professor who marries Ehsaan (Saif Ali Khan), a professor on Islam and its influence on the modern world. Avantika is extremely happy with her life till she discovers a disturbing truth about her husband. From this point onwards the film transforms from a love story to a thriller. The director takes the first forty-five minutes to set up the love story and introduces the other characters; by this time you start getting tired of the slow pace and suddenly the film picks up. There are many twists in the plot, some predictable and some surprise you, leading up to an action packed climax.

The film has many similarities with Kabir Khan’s New York; apart from the basic premise, there are similarities in the plot, however the treatment and the circumstances are quite different. I could not help but compare the two films. While Kurbaan manages to keep the tension alive throughout and the climax is several notches superior; New York scores in creating an emotional connect with the lead characters.

Saif and Kareena are both good in their characters and have a good supporting cast of Viveik Oberoi, Kirron Kher and Om Puri to complete the picture. Kirron’s Afghani accent is not convincing but the fanaticism displayed by her character is. Viveik worked hard on his American accent, which again is a bit annoying but he does a decent job.

Technically, Hemant Chaturvedi’s cinematography is good and so is SalimSulaiman’s music, which does not interrupt the narrative. Screenplay by Rensil D’Silva drags a bit in the beginning but maintains the tension of a thriller in the rest of the film. There are a few loopholes in the storyline and certain decisions taken by the lead characters seem extremely unrealistic but that’s a Bollywood film for you.

Overall, Kurbaan is one of the better films released this year. It leaves much to be desired as far as cinematic excellence is concerned but is a good one-time watch.  

My Rating: * * * Three stars (on five)

Shrey Khetarpal

 

New York

 

Entertainer with a message…

Picture courtesy: Yash Raj Films
Picture courtesy: Yash Raj Films

Congratulations Kabir Khan, Yash Raj Films, Bollywood fans and Katrina Kaif. Kabir because he has once again delivered a good film but this time it seems that commercial success will not elude him (the docu-maker’s first mainstream film, Kabul Express was critically acclaimed but didn’t make a lot of money). Yash Raj Films for supporting a project that goes beyond candy-floss romance and run-of-the-mill entertainment; also because their dry run seems to be coming to an end as after Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi’s success, this film also has opened well. Bollywood fans because after a long-long time, we have a decent film to watch. And Ms. Kaif who finally got a film where she had scope to act and yes, she delivered!

New York touches upon the subject of post 9/11 prejudices and the human rights violations committed by the US government against ‘suspected’ terrorists. The film focuses on the lives of three friends, Sam (John Abraham), Omar (Neil Nitin Mukesh) and Maya (Katrina Kaif) and how their lives get impacted after the attacks. The film highlights the plight of 1,200 men from religious minorities who were detained after the attacks for suspected terror connect. Keeping in mind a larger audience, the director keeps the torture sequences to a minimal but impactful.

Performance wise, Katrina Kaif and Irrfan Khan (as FBI agent, Roshan) shine; Irrfan because he is a fine actor and Katrina because you least expect her to. Finally, the actress got a film where she had a well defined character; she was not only convincing as an Indian-American (thanks to her accented Hindi) but was also good in emotional scenes. John Abraham is good and handles the changes in his character well. Neil Nitin Mukesh gets a tough character and it seems too challenging for the new actor; he tries hard but it shows.

There are many loopholes in the film and at times it reminds you of other movies (a scene where Katrina is frisked by a cop reminds you of an important scene from Crash, Oscar winning film on the theme of racism and intolerance) but overall the film comes together, thanks to a taut screenplay by Sandeep Srivastava. Cinematography by Aseem Mishra is first rate and music by Pritam is not memorable at all (top it with plagiarism charges).

I definitely recommend New York as an entertainer with a message. For those who would like to watch other films on similar theme, I recommend Shoaib Mansoor’sKhuda Kay Liye (2007, Pakistan) and Gavin Hood’s ‘Rendition (2007, USA). Khuda Kay Liye is a bold film about religious profiling and the contrast between Islamic extremists and liberals. Rendition focuses on the subject of extraordinary rendition where suspected terrorists are secretly and unlawfully transferred to countries known to employ harsh interrogation techniques (read torture). Starring Meryl Streep, Reese Witherspoon, Jake Gyllenhaal and Omar Metwally; the film packs extraordinary performances by the cast and a gripping screenplay. Catch these two films on DVD and for now do watch New York at a theatre near you…

My rating: * * * ½ Three and a half stars (on five)

– Shrey Khetarpal