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.

 

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.