Yash Raj Films’ Kill/Dil (UA) is the story of two friends who work as sharpshooters for an underworld don. Bhaiyyaji (Govinda) is an underworld don who picks up two new-born babies abandoned in the dust-bin. He raises them as his own children. Grown up in the atmosphere of guns and bullets, the two boys, Dev (Ranveer Singh) and Tutu (Ali Zafar), become sharpshooters. They work for Bhaiyyaji whose word is final for them. Bhaiyyaji is also very fond of them and trusts them with the most difficult of murders as their record is spotless. Bhaiyyaji is happy that he has two trusted lieutenants, and Dev and Tutu are having fun doing what they are doing.

One day, Disha (Parineeti Chopra) enters their life quite by chance. Dev falls in love with her and as time passes by, Disha also starts loving Dev. Of course, Disha is not aware of the criminal activities of Dev. As Dev gets more serious about Disha, Bhaiyyaji gets wind of the fact that a girl has entered his life. Bhaiyyaji is angry about this fact because he realises that Dev has started neglecting his work. He makes his displeasure known to Dev.

Soon, Dev decides to turn over a new leaf, in spite of his mentor’s warnings, and give up the world of crime because he wants to lead a peaceful life with Disha. Tutu tries to persuade him to rethink because he fears Bhaiyyaji but Dev is adamant. To help his dear friend, Tutu asks him to reform but not reveal this fact to Bhaiyyaji who would continue to think that the murders were being carried out by both, Dev and Tutu, as things would remain the same on the face of it.

Dev soon takes up a job in an insurance company, and his romance with Disha keeps blossoming. One day, Bhaiyyaji’s assistant, Batuk (Murad Ali), spills the beans about Dev’s job before Bhaiyyaji who is now livid. He asks Batuk to kill Dev. Simultaneously, he gives enough hints to Disha about Dev’s criminal activities.

What happens thereafter? Does Batuk kill Dev? Or is Dev saved? Does Disha get to know the truth about Dev’s criminal background? If so, does she forgive him or walk out on him? Do Dev and Disha marry and live happily ever after? Or does Dev rejoin the world of crime? What happens to Dev and Tutu’s seemingly unbreakable bond of friendship? Does Bhaiyyaji have a change of heart?

Aditya Chopra’s story is quite routine as one has seen dramas about making a choice between good and evil in a number of films. The screenplay, written by Nitesh Tiwari, Shreyas Jain and Nikhil Mehrotra, is good in parts only. The first half is fresh and light, making the drama interesting as well as engaging and enjoyable. However, even in the pre-interval portion, the romantic angle is a bit weak as the scenes of romance fail to gladden the heart. A number of scenes in the first part are enjoyable because of the witty dialogues, written by Nitesh Tiwari, Shreyas Jain and Nikhil Mehrotra.

The second half deteriorates once the focus shifts to the romantic track which, in any case, is weak even in the first half. The audience is left wondering how Disha had fallen so in love with Dev and had not even bothered to check his antecedents. Further, Bhaiyyaji’s opposition to Dev’s love life looks a bit too harsh if only because the foundation for the scenes of opposition is not strong enough. Agreed, Bhaiyyaji is afraid that he would lose Dev to the latter’s girlfriend, but had there been more scenes to establish Bhaiyyaji’s dependence on Dev and also to establish the latter’s indispensability, the impact of the opposition would’ve been very different. The audience also resents the relegation of Bhaiyyaji to the sidelines after interval as more footage is given to Dev and Disha. The worst part of the screenplay is the hurried climax which looks far from convincing and, in fact, ridiculous. Even the punch-packed and fun-filled dialog­ ues of the first half are missing in many portions post-interval.

Ranveer Singh is absolutely lovable as Dev. He does a supremely fine job and is fantastic in light scenes as well as emotional and dramatic ones. His dances are very graceful. Ali Zafar complements Ranveer Singh well. He plays Tutu with the right amount of feelings. Parineeti Chopra is fairly good in the role of Disha. But, having said that, it must be added that she isn’t the best choice for the character. Govinda shines as Bhaiyyaji. If he spits venom in the scenes showing his power and influence, he also evokes laughter in the light scenes. While watching him dance in the ‘Bol beliya’ song, one is convinced that he is one of the best dancers of Bollywood even today. Murad Ali (as Batuk) makes a lasting impression even though he has very few dialogues to mouth. Brijendra Kala (as the jeweller) and Alok Nath (as the boss of the insurance company) lend able support. Daljit Singh (as Babban), Jas Bhatia (as Chimsy), Manvi Gagroo (as Jenny), Qasim Khallow (as Pratty), Rajeev Gupta (as the police inspector investigating Batuk’s killing), Lushin Dubey (as Disha’s mother), master Bhavesh, master Jayraj Dalwani and master Joy Chugh (all three as young Tutu), master Aviral Upadhyay, master Atif Shaikh and master Pranav (all three as young Dev) are adequate. Others do as desired.

Shaad Ali’s direction is good in the first half but he loses grip over the drama after interval. His narration keeps the audience engaged and entertained at intervals. Music (Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy) is very good. The title track, ‘Bol beliya’, ‘Sweeta’ and ‘Sajde’ are appealing songs. Other songs are quite nice. Gulzar’s lyrics are very good. Choreography (Ganesh Acharya) of some of the songs is appealing but that of the others could’ve been better. Background music (Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy and Jim Satya) is quite nice. Avik Mukhopadhyay’s cinematography is very good. Sham Kaushal’s action and stunts are engaging. Sharmishtha Roy’s production designing is of a good standard. Editing, by Ritesh Soni, is reasonably sharp.

On the whole, Kill/Dil has an enjoyable first half but a dull second half. At the box-office, it will not be able to do much and will exhaust its run quite fast. If, in spite of its ordinary fate at the ticket windows, it still manages to sail safe, it would be because of the revenues it has generated and/or will generate from other sources.

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PEN, Maya Movies Pvt. Ltd. and Infinity Filmed Entertainment’s Rang Rasiya (A) is a biopic on celebrated painter Raja Ravi Varma. It is based on Ranjit Desai’s novel, Raja Ravi Varma, on the noted painter who gave faces to the various Gods and Goddesses of the Hindus.

Raja Ravi Varma (Randeep Hooda) invites the wrath of one section of religious heads when he commercialises Hindu religion and begins to sell pictures of Hindu Gods and Goddesses by printing lakhs of copies of his paintings. The untouchables and lower caste people are very happy because they are now able to pray in front of the pictures of the Gods. Before this, they were never allowed inside temples and had no idol or painting to pray in front of.

All hell also breaks loose when it is revealed that Ravi Varma’s muse, Sugandha (Nandana Sen), is a lady of easy virtues and the mistress of a rich man. Matters only worsen when it emerges that the face in the pictures of the Goddesses in Raja Ravi Varma’s priceless paintings has been inspired by Sugandha’s face. Fundamentalists set on fire the printing press where mass production of Ravi Varma’s paintings happens, because of which Govardhan Das (Paresh Rawal), the funding partner of the printing press, threatens to withdraw from the partnership. To save the business, Ravi Varma mortgages all his paintings with Govardhan Das, including a few paintings of Sugandha standing in a semi-nude state. The unscrupulous Govardhan Das prints those semi-nude paintings in large numbers and puts the copies in the market with a view to making profits but this also becomes the subject matter of the court case filed against Raja Ravi Varma by religious fundamentalists. Sugandha, who is horrified by the mass replication of her semi-nude paintings, which were only for Ravi Varma’s personal collection, is also dragged in as a witness in the court.

What happens thereafter? Does Raja Ravi Varma win the court case? Does Sugandha testify in court against the painter?

The story is not very exciting or engaging. Ketan Mehta and Sanjeev Dutta have penned a screenplay which doesn’t really make the film very commercial. Since Raja Ravi Varma and Sugandha are the ‘hero’ and the ‘heroine’ of the drama, the audience expects them to behave in a certain manner. However, the viewers feel very let down by Ravi Varma’s behaviour at several places. For one, when he leaves his wife for objecting to his proximity to the maid, Kamini, the audience feels, he has taken too harsh a decision. Again, it is so uncharacteristic of a hero to give away all his paintings to Govardhan Das as mortgage including the semi-nude paintings of Sugandha which were meant for personal consumption, but Ravi Varma does exactly that. Worse still, rather than admitting his mistake, he shamelessly tells Sugandha that she posed topless for his paintings of her own accord and was not forced by him to do so, when she comes crying to him. This behaviour of the hero shocks the audience and leaves a bad taste in the mouth. Even though he is speaking the truth, the least he could’ve done was to stand by Sugandha. His comment makes it look like he wants to wash his hands off the scandal.

Frankly, the film appears like a docu-drama which does not engage the audience. What’s also disturbing is the fact that the viewers feel for neither Raja Ravi Varma nor Sugandha. Dialogues (Sanjeev Dutta) are okay but not outstanding.

Randeep Hooda does a fine job in the role of Raja Ravi Varma. He makes the character of the painter very believable. Nandana Sen looks beautiful and acts with effortless ease. She exposes her anatomy very aesthetically. Paresh Rawal plays the unscrupulous Govardhan Das with aplomb, in a special appearance. Darshan Jariwala is effective. Vikram Gokhale does a superb job as the lawyer. Tom Alter is nice as the judge. Jim Boeven leaves a mark in the role of Fritz. Suhasini Mulay is natural. Prashant Narayanan makes his presence felt in a guest appearance. Vipin Sharma is excellent in a role which hardly gives him any dialogues. His body language and expressions are first-rate. Ferena Wazeir (as Frenny) is endearing. Rashaana Shah is good in the role of Kamini. Sameer Dharmadhikari has his moments as Sayaji Rao Gaek­wad. Sachin Khedekar, Ashish Vidyar- thi (guest appearance), Shree Vallabh Vyas and Gaurav Dwivedi (as Raj Varma) provide excellent support. Chirag Vorah is lovely as Phalke. Rajat Kapoor (in a guest appearance as the auctioneer), master Yashvardhan Kumar (as young Ravi Varma), master Anupam (as young Raj Varma), Tripta Parashar (as Poorutarthy) and the others are adequate.

Ketan Mehta’s direction, like the film’s script, caters to a very thin sec­tion of the audience which, in filmi parlance, is referred to as the gentry audience. The large base of mass audience would not find the drama and its narration interesting enough. Sandesh Shandilya’s music goes well with the mood of the film. A couple of songs are rather appealing. Manoj Muntashir’s lyrics are appropriate to the film. Choreography (by Pappu-Mallu and Prasanna) is average. Cinematography (by Rali Baltchev and Cristo Bakalov) is of a very good standard. Nitin Chandrakant Desai’s production designing is very fine. Editing (by Pratik Chitalia) is alright.

On the whole, Rang Rasiya is too class-appealing to make any impact at the box-office. Flop.

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Cine1 Studios, Cape Of Good Films and Ashwin Varde Productions’ The Shaukeens (UA) is the story of three sex-starved oldies and their lusty quest to satisfy their carnal desires.

Laali (Anupam Kher), KD (Anu Kapoor) and Pinky (Piyush Mishra) have different reasons for being sex-starved. They are well past their prime and decide to go on a holiday to Mauritius with the sole aim of having sex with willing girls there. They rent a house belonging to Ahana (Lisa Haydon) in Mauritius. Ahana, who stays alone in the house, is scheduled to go on a trip at that time and, therefore, rents out her house. But the trip is cancelled at the last minute and she returns home no sooner than the three lusty oldies start to stay in her house.

All the three men find Ahana hot, sexy and desirable and are more than happy that she would be staying with them. They all try to woo her and get fresh with her and are happy that she has had a breakup with her boyfriend. They soon learn that Ahana is a diehard fan of film star Akshay Kumar (Akshay Kumar) who is presently shooting in Mauritius. Ahana tells them that she’d be willing to do anything for the person who could introduce her to Akshay Kumar. The three old men assume that her ‘anything’ would mean having sex with the person.

The three men try in their own ways to get Ahana to meet her idol, expecting her to sleep with them in return for the favour. Ahana first meets Akshay Kumar when Laali takes her to his shooting after paying a unit hand a bribe of Rs. 1 lakh. Ahana gifts Akshay a pair of sunglasses designed by herself and made from her toe-nails. Akshay Kumar is disgusted with the gift but Ahana is ecstatic about the meeting. She thanks Laali very much but his dream of getting physical with her remains just that. However, the other two friends assume that Laali has had his share of fun with Ahana.

Next, KD takes Ahana to meet Akshay Kumar, assuming that she had had physical relations with Laali after he had introduced her to Akshay Kumar. This time, Ahana gifts Akshay a muffler made from the feathers of pigeons. Once again, Akshay Kumar is horrified with the gift but Ahana is in the seventh heaven. Again, KD is unable to get physical with Ahana.

It is now Pinky’s turn to impress Ahana as he feels, Ahana has obliged both his friends. His attempt to get Ahana to meet Akshay Kumar for the third time goes completely awry when the film star, in an inebriated state, insults the three old men as well as Ahana who, incidentally, has brought him a jacket designed by her.

Why did Akshay Kumar behave rudely? Does he apologise for his behaviour or not? Does Ahana realise why the three old men were trying to introduce her to Akshay Kumar? Do the three oldies fulfil their carnal desires in Mauritius?

The film is inspired by Basu Chatterjee’s Shaukeen (1982). Tigmanshu Dhulia and Sai Kabir Srivastava’s story and screenplay seem to have been written in a hurry because a number of comedy scenes are not funny enough and also because the script looks disjointed. The scenes in which the three old men discuss matters of sex and girls should’ve been very funny and should’ve tickled the audience’s funny bone but many of those scenes actually fail to evoke even a smile! Also, their conversations on love, sex and lust are so in-your-face that the impact gets diluted. Had the humour been subtle, the fun quotient would’ve been higher. The constant reference to Facebook likes by Ahana is cute but it will be enjoyed more by the classes. The scenes of Akshay Kumar on the sets of his film in Mauritius are funny but again, the conversation mostly revolves around trade-oriented topics (like getting into the skin of the character, 100-crore and 200-crore clubs, endorsements etc.), greatly restricting its appeal. Of course, there are scenes which evoke laughter but they are not enough for a film of this genre. For example, Akshay Kumar making fun of himself will entertain the audience. The climax is half-baked and far from convincing. Dialogues, penned by Tigmanshu Dhulia and Sai Kabir Srivastava, are funny at places and ordinary at others.

Akshay Kumar is very good, playing himself. He is aided brilliantly by scenes and dialogues to poke fun at himself. Anupam Kher is fairly good as Laali. Anu Kapoor plays the character of KD effectively. Piyush Mishra is natural in the role of Pinky. Lisa Haydon does a splendid job of Ahana. She looks sexy and acts very ably, endearing herself to the audience, in the process. Rati Agnihotri is okay as Laali’s wife. Suparna Marwah (as Laali’s sister) and Sachin Kumar (as Laali’s son) are alright. Vineet Kumar (as Bunty) and Ankush Ratnani (as Lucky) lend lovely support. Gitanjali Mishra (as Bunty’s wife) and Sammanika Singh (as Lucky’s wife) do fair jobs. Cyrus Broacha is excellent as Akshay Kumar’s secretary. Kavin Dave (as Damodar) makes his presence felt. Gaurav Gera is okay as Bhanu, Pinky’s Mauritius dealer. Manoj Joshi, as the film director, is quite alright. Subrat Dutta is outstanding as National Award-winning director Ranjit Bahadur. Yuvika Chaudhary (as Akshay Kumar’s co-star), Rajni Basumatary (as Thai massage parlour manager Angie) and the others are adequate.

Abhishek Sharma’s direction is fair. Although the film is designed as a comedy, it doesn’t evoke laughter at enough places – and the blame for this shortcoming would rest on the director as well as the two writers. Music (Yo Yo Honey Singh, Hard Kaur, Vikram Nagi and Arko) is racy and popular. Lyrics (Shabbir Ahmed, Siddharth Banerjee, Arko and Sahil Kaushal) are fair. Song picturisations (Ahmed Khan, Ganesh Acharya and Adil Shaikh) could’ve been better. Sandeep Chowta’s background music is fairly nice but leaves something to be desired. Amalendu Chaudhary’s cinematography is of a good standard. Feroz Khan’s action and stunts are functional. Madhu Sarkar Kuriakose’s production designing is appropriate. Editing (by Rameshwar S. Bhagat) could’ve been tighter.

On the whole, The Shaukeens falls short of expectations as the subject had far more potential. It is not half as funny and entertaining as the story promises and it will, therefore, not be able to prove its worth at the box-office. Losing.

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Red Chillies Entertainment’s Happy New Year is a revenge heist film. Chandramohan Sharma alias Charlie (Shah Rukh Khan) has waited for eight years to avenge the humiliation and loss of reputation of his father, Manohar Sharma (Anupam Kher). Manohar Sharma, who used to make excellent security systems, had been framed by Charan Grover (Jackie Shroff) for stealing diamonds. While Manohar Sharma had been sent to prison for the crime he never committed, Charan Grover, who had himself hidden the diamonds, had also succeeded in pocketing the claim money from the insurance company.

After eight years, Charlie puts together his team to avenge the wrong done to his father. In his team are Nandu Bhide (Abhishek Bachchan), Tammy (Boman Irani), Jag (Sonu Sood) and Rohan (Vivaan Shah). Nandu Bhide is an exact look-alike of Charan Grover’s son, Vicky Grover (Abhishek Bachchan in a double role). Tammy is an expert at opening safe deposit vaults without keys or knowledge of the codes. Jag is an explosives expert and his nephew, Rohan, is a computer hacker. According to plan, Charlie and his team would participate in the World Dance Competition and during the final competition to be held in Dubai, they would steal diamonds worth Rs. 300 crore in such a way that the needle of suspicion would point towards Charan Grover who would be responsible for the safety and security of those diamonds.

The World Dance Competition final is scheduled to take place in the same hotel in Dubai, in which Charan Grover would be keeping the diamonds for a day in safe custody. Charlie and his men would steal those diamonds but Charan Grover and his son would be caught by the Dubai police as entry into the safe deposit vault room would be open only to Vicky Grover.

Since Charlie and his team mates don’t know dancing at all, they approach Mohini (Deepika Padukone), a bar dancer, to teach them dancing. Mohini speaks broken English but is so enamoured of the language that it takes no time for Charlie to floor her with his stylish English. Mohini is grace personified but she has a tough time teaching them to dance. Despite all odds against them, Charlie’s team is selected as the one to represent India in the World Dance Competition, obviously, by unfair means.

But is the path for Charlie and his team so easy? Since the day of the finals is the day on which the diamonds would be in the hotel, it is necessary for them to qualify for the finals but do they actually qualify? Are they able to steal the diamonds kept under the almost foolproof security? Is Charlie able to extract his revenge? Does Charlie involve Mohini in his game plan?

Farah Khan’s story is oft-repeated as revenge dramas of this kind have been seen in the past too, and heist films are not new to Hindi cinema. But screenplay writers Farah Khan and Althea Kaushal have padded up the story with a lot of anecdotes and incidents, many of them entertaining and interesting. No doubt, the first about 45 minutes, devoted to establishing the characters of Charlie’s team members, are long and sometimes boring but once Mohini comes on the scene after that, the pace picks up phenomenally. Frankly, the lengthy introductory scenes of Charlie’s team mates could have been shortened to great advantage. Anyway, after the introductions, the scenes between Charlie and Mohini are all outstanding. In particular, the way the fluent English-speaking Charlie impresses the vernacular Mohini is superb. Also, how Mohini invariably ends up overhearing Charlie, while he is criticising her and her down-market ways, is really cute.

The post-interval portion is far more interesting than the first half. The drama actually picks pace from the time Charlie saves the life of a child of the competing Korean team, which scene is veritably breathtaking and emotional, too. What happens at the declaration of the results of the semi-final competition, as an aftermath of the life-saving act, is both, exhilarating and emotional. The scene in which Nandu Bhide finds himself a bit short for the job assigned to him and the steps he takes to complete the task is so funny that it brings the house down with laughter. There are several other scenes of Tammy, too, which are cute and funny. The emotional appeal of the second half is a major plus point of the film and will bring in the family audience in large numbers. Similarly, the patriotic angle in the second half adds greatly to increase the appeal of the drama and creates emotions of a different kind. The pre-climax and climax are supremely engaging and a major highlight. Mayur Puri’s dialogues are very good and have the desired impact.

Shah Rukh Khan plays Charlie brilliantly. Whether it is light scenes, emotional scenes, dramatic ones or even action scenes, he gives his hundred per cent to the character and to the film, making both very believable. He is especially terrific in his scenes with Deepika Padukone and in the ones in which he bad-mouths her. He has worked on his physique and his eight-pack abdomen will add to his appeal. Deepika Padukone is a live wire and acts brilliantly, that too, with effortless ease. Her awkward English pronunciations are very funny and evoke a lot of laughter. She looks gorgeous and dances just too gracefully. She is first-rate in the emotional scenes. Abhishek Bachchan is superb as Nandu Bhide and gives a glimpse of his excellent sense of timing in comic scenes. He is, in one word, delightful. As Vicky Grover, he is efficient. Boman Irani is wonderful, as always. He is so natural that it is difficult to accept that he is acting. Sonu Sood gets very limited scope and he is alright. He exhibits his wonderful body to the hilt. Vivaan Shah, although present throughout, gets limited scope to act. As a performer, he is okay but his presence is endearing. Jackie Shroff, in an impressive get-up, lends sophistication to the character of Charan Grover. Anupam Kher is fine in a tiny role. Mohan Kapur, Rio Kapadia, Kavi Shastri, Puneet Vashishtha, Jimmy Moses, Sameer Ali Khan, Sunil Rodrigues and Anuradha Menon lend the desired support. In special appearances, the ones who add star value are Sajid Khan, Malaika Arora Khan, Daisy Irani, Dino Morea, Sarah Pope, Sarah Jane-Dias, Prabhudheva, Geeta Kapoor, Anurag Kashyap, Vishal Dadlani and Kiku Sharda. Others are adequate.

Farah Khan’s direction is very good. She particularly excels in drama and in the emotional scenes. Vishal-Shekhar’s music is good but the absence of a chartbusting song is felt very much. ‘Indiawale’ is a popular and racy number. ‘Manwa laage’ is melodious while ‘Radhe Radhe’ and ‘Lovely’ are mass-appealing songs. The lyrics of four songs by Irshad Kamil and one by Jiwan Mann and Kumaar are appealing. The lyrics of the ‘Nonsense ki night’ song (by Farah Khan, Vishal Dadlani and Shekhar Ravjiani) are quite kiddish and the song itself needs to be deleted. Lyrics of the ‘Sharaabi’ song (Kumaar, Vishal Dadlani and Shekhar Ravjiani) are okay. Song picturisations (by Farah Khan and Geeta Kapoor) are very eye-filling. John Stewart Eduri’s background music is effective. Manush Nandan’s cinematography deserves distinction marks. The rich sets and locations have been beautifully captured on camera. Action scenes and stunts, choreographed by Sunil Rodrigues and Dave Judge (for the underwater sequence) are very mass-appealing. Shashank Tere’s production design and Chandrashekhar More’s art direction deserve great praise because their efforts make the film look rich, luxurious and ostentatious. Editing (by Anand Subaya and Tushar Parekh) is sharp. Production values are truly grand.

On the whole, Happy New Year is an entertainer. In spite of the slow initial reels, the star-studded and rich film engages and entertains the audience. It will, therefore, fetch handsome profits for all concerned.

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Nautanki Films, PEN and Shikhar Films’ Ekkees Toppon Ki Salaami (UA) is the story of an honest sweeper and his two dishonest sons. Joshi (Anupam Kher) is a very honest sweeper who works for the municipal corporation. He wants his two sons, Shekhar (Manu Rishi Chadha) and Subhash (Divyendu Sharma), to also embrace honesty but they are epitomes of dishonesty because they feel, dishonesty is the best policy. Subhash aligns with the state’s corrupt chief minister, Daya Shankar Pandey (Rajesh Sharma), much to the heartburn of his principled father.

It is now time for Joshi’s retirement and he is looking forward to the certificate of merit his employers will give him on his last day at work. Meanwhile, his sons, afraid that they would all have to vacate the accommodation provided by the municipal corporation, arrange for funds to pay a wheeler-dealer corporator so that the house could be transferred in their names after their father’s retirement.

As bad luck would have it, Joshi’s senior (Anurag Arora) accuses him of fraud and cheating on the last day of service. Why, even disciplinary action is to be launched against him. Joshi is distraught and dejected. His sons, who’ve paid Rs. 10 lakh to have the house transferred in their names, are scared that their bribe money would go down the drain as the flat would never be theirs because of the disciplinary action being initiated against their father. They try to force their father to sign a letter of apology so that their Rs. 10 lakh would not go to waste. However, the principled father is unwilling to sign. When Subhash forces his father to sign the apology letter by promising to do whatever he desires, Joshi asks him to get him a 21-gun salute, which is reserved for VIPs, as he (Joshi) feels, he has been an ideal citizen of the country. In the heat of the moment, Subhash promises to fulfil his father’s wish, knowing fully well that a 21-gun salute is not for common men. Just then, Joshi passes away as he can’t bear the humiliation hurled upon him.

Subhash’s girlfriend, Tanya (Aditi Sharma), now asks Subhash to fulfil the last wish of his father. Just then, news of the chief minister’s sudden death is announced. It is also announced that his last rites would be performed with a 21-gun salute.

Even as preparations are afoot for the funeral of Joshi, Subhash’s conscience is awakened. He suddenly realises the selflessness of his late father and appreciates the ideals and principles he stood for. He now vows to fulfil his father’s dying wish – a 21-gun salute for him. At first agitated at the younger brother’s far-fetched plan, elder brother Shekhar soon becomes one with Subhash.

How the two dishonest sons of one of the most honest persons of the city move heaven and earth to fulfil their father’s last wish is what the drama is all about.

Rahil Qaazi has penned a message-oriented drama with a good dose of entertainment. It is about the victory of the common man and about living life with complete honesty. No doubt, the screenplay, also written by Rahil Qaazi, is a bit too convenient and resorts to a lot of cinematic liberties but the entertainment quotient keeps the film engaging and engrossing for the audience. The first part of the first half is light and relies on witty dialogues to entertain. The second part of the pre-interval portion becomes very emotional and will make the weak-hearted cry a lot. The scenes in which Joshi is humiliated in the office, and the scenes in which his sons realise the sacrifices made by their father are indeed heart-wrenching. So also are the scenes in which the two sons force their father to sign an apology letter although he has done no wrong!

The post-interval portion becomes a bit too lengthy and long-drawn as also somewhat convenient. Yet, the climax has its share of emotions which are heartwarming. Rahil Qaazi’s dialogues are absolute gems and add to the fun quotient in the light scenes and the emotional drama in the serious scenes.

Anupam Kher does a fantastic job as Joshi and lives the character of the honest sweeper. He is superb. Divyendu Sharma is first-rate as Joshi’s younger son, Subhash. His acting, body language and facial expressions are just too wonderful. Manu Rishi Chadha performs splendidly as Shekhar. He gets into the skin of the character and emotes extraordinarily. Aditi Sharma is supremely natural as Tanya. Rajesh Sharma entertains in the role of chief minister Daya Shankar Pandey. Neha Dhupia is very effective as his mistress, Jayaprabha. Uttara Baokar shines in the role of the chief minister’s mother. Her character as well as acting are entertaining. Supriya Kumari does a truly fine job of Shekhar’s wife. Sudhir Pande provides good entertainment with his natural acting. Bhagwan Tiwari lends very fine support as the security chief at the chief minister’s house. Anurag Arora leaves a mark as Joshi’s senior who is honest like Joshi. Aasif Shaikh is endearing as the television journalist. Anjali Ujwane has her moments as the mother-in-law of Shekhar. Gagan Gupta makes his presence felt as the wheeler-dealer corporator. Others lend great support.

Ravindra Gautam’s direction is excellent. His narrative style keeps the audience involved, engrossed and entertained from the start till the end. Ram Sampath’s music is quite nice. Sandeep Nath’s lyrics are weighty. Pony Verma’s choreography is functional. Ram Sampath’s background music is of a good standard. Sanjay Memane’s cinematography is fine. Wasiq Khan’s production designing is appropriate. Amitabh Shukla and Sanjay Sharma have done a nice job of the editing.

On the whole, Ekkees Toppon Ki Salaami is an entertaining, message-oriented film with a strong emotional base. It has merits but due to its very poor initial, dull promotion and dull pre-Diwali days ahead, it will go largely unnoticed. Even positive word of mouth will not help much so that the film will turn out to be a resounding flop.

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UTV Motion Pictures and Vishal Bhardwaj Pictures’ Haider (UA) is based on Shakespeare’s play, Hamlet. It is set in the picturesque Kashmir. Haider Meer (Shahid Kapoor) is distraught because his father, Dr. Hilaal Meer (Narendra Jha), has been taken captive by the army for harbouring terrorists in his house as one of them was in urgent need of surgery. On hearing the news, Haider returns from Aligarh, where he has been studying. Haider believes, his father would return but he is in for a terrible shock when Roohdaar (Irrfan Khan), claiming to be with Dr. Hilaal Meer in prison, tells him that Dr. Meer is no more and that the one responsible for his father’s death is none other than his own paternal uncle, Khurram Meer (Kay Kay Menon). As if that weren’t bad enough, Haider is already feeling miserable that his doting mother, Ghazala Meer (Tabu), is now in love with Khurram Meer. The two even get married later.

Is Khurram Meer really responsible for the death of his brother? Is Ghazala also hand-in-glove with Khurram as regards the death? Has Haider been misinformed? Does Haider avenge his father’s death by killing his uncle, Khurram Meer? Does Haider’s mother stop him from seeking revenge?

The story of Hamlet is adapted and set against the backdrop of Kashmir. The political climate of Kashmir also, therefore, becomes an intergral part of the story. The screenplay, written by Basharat Peer and Vishal Bhardwaj, moves at an extremely leisurely pace. While this will appeal to the evolved audience, the masses will find the drama excruciatingly slow and of the kind which tests their patience. The first half moves very slowly and remains quite boring (for the masses) till just a little before interval when Roohdaar comes on the scene. The film gains momentum from that scene and raises hope of a fast-paced second half. However, the post-interval part is also very slow. Yes, it has more drama but the whole dilemma of Haider and his mental state after he learns about his uncle’s alleged involvement in his father’s death is very class-appealing. Again, while the classes and evolved viewers would love the subtleties and the nuances in the proceedings and the various characters, the masses would not care much for them. Questions like whether Ghazala Meer was involved in the plan to eliminate her husband and, if so, was it because she was in love with Khurram even before the demise of her husband crop up in the audience’s minds but no effort has been made to address such issues. This is not a fault on the part of the screenplay writers. It is just that they have chosen not to anwser questions like the above. While the class audience will appreciate the fact that the writers have not tried to present everything in black or white, the mass audience will not take such ‘ambiguities’ too kindly. Similarly, a lot of loose ends are not tied up in the end, giving the masses the feeling of incompleteness of the drama because they are used to watching films where everything is clearly concluded in the end. For the evolved audience, however, this kind of screenplay would actually make them happy that the writers haven’t bowed down to box-office pressures.

Vishal Bhardwaj’s dialogues are inspired and realistic.

Shahid Kapoor does an excellent job as Haider Meer. He lives the character and acts with admirable ease, not once going overboard or trying to monopolise a scene. As his girlfriend, Arshia, Shraddha Kapoor is good but that’s about it. Tabu is remarkable in the role of Ghazala Meer. Her body language, dialogue delivery, facial ex­pressions are all so real that she comes out with flying colours. Kay Kay Menon is natural to the core as Khurram Meer, acting with great care. Irrfan Khan shines in a brief guest appearance. He gives the drama a fantastic boost with his presence and brilliant acting. Narendra Jha looks and plays Dr. Hilaal Meer effortlessly. Amir Bashir (as Arshia’s brother, Liyaqat) and Lalit Parimoo (as Arshia’s father) lend very good support. Sumit Kaul and Rajat Bhagat provide the much-needed relief in bit roles as Salman and Salman. Kulbhushan Kharbanda (as Dr. Hussain) and Basharat Peer (as the man with the ‘new disease’) are effective. Anshuman Malhotra has his moments as young Haider. Others are adequate.

Vishal Bhardwaj’s direction is effective but it caters to only the class audience, much like the film’s script. His narration is sensitive. Music (Vishal Bhardwaj) is good but lack of a couple of or even one hit song is sorely felt. ‘Bismil’ and ‘Khul kabhi toh’ are melodious. Lyrics (Gulzar and Faiz Ahmed Faiz) are rich. Picturisation of the ‘Bismil’ song, choreographed by Sudesh Adhana, is fairly good. Vishal Bhardwaj’s background music is extraordinary. Pankaj Kumar’s cinematography is of a very high standard. The supremely beautiful locales of Kashmir come alive on the screen with his splendid camerawork. Harpal Singh (Palli) and Ravi Kumar’s action and stunts are very good but the womenfolk might find the action too gruesome. Subrata Chakraborty and Amit Ray’s production designing is excellent. Aarif Shaikh’s editing is good.

On the whole, Haider is a class-appealing fare which will do well in premium multiplexes and high-end single-screen cinemas of the big cities mainly. It will be enjoyed by the classes but it will not be liked by the masses. Business in lesser multiplexes and lesser single-screen cinemas as also in ‘B’ and ‘C’ class centres will be rather dull. Overall, average.

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Fox Star Studios’ Bang Bang! (UA) is an action-packed love story. Rajveer Nanda (Hrithik Roshan) steals the Kohinoor diamond from London and returns to India. He makes it amply known to underworld don Omar Zafar (Danny Denzongpa), through his (Zafar’s) men, that he has the expensive Kohinoor diamond, the intention being to meet Omar Zafar. Although Rajveer pretends that he wants to sell the diamond, he doesn’t actually sell it, making Omar Zafar’s men follow him for it. Hot on Rajveer’s trail are Omar Zafar’s men on the one hand and the police on the other.

In trying to meet Omar Zafar, Rajveer has to escape, both, the police and Zafar’s men while securing the Kohinoor diamond. Quite early on, he meets Harleen Sahni (Katrina Kaif) in a chance encounter. Harleen, who works as a receptionist in a bank, is on a blind date and mistakes Rajveer for her date. The two hit it off well and start enjoying each other’s company. Harleen, of course, can’t fathom why so many people are after Rajveer and why he keeps gunning down people. Anyway, she learns part of Rajveer’s reality even as their romance blossoms.

And then, Rajveer gets a chance to meet Omar Zafar. What happens thereafter? Why was it so necessary for Rajveer to meet Omar Zafar? Is there some back story? If so, what is it? What is the whole truth about Rajveer? Is he a thief or a noble soul? Does Rajveer and Harleen’s love culminate in marriage?

The film is an official remake of the Hollywood film, Knight And Day. The screenplay for the adapted story is written by Sujoy Ghosh and Suresh Nair. At the outset, it must be said that the story and screenplay offer hardly anything by way of novelty. But frankly, the other things that the film offers are so, repeat, so overpowering that the audience doesn’t even think about the lack of novelty in the subject. Among these ‘other things’ are the presentation, the action and stunts and the dances but more about them later. The screenplay is very fast-paced and keeps the audience engrossed and involved throughout. Yes, the more discerning viewer may question how Rajveer can do just about anything and that too, so easily, but the masses will not even get time to think on those lines. And when the reality of Rajveer is revealed in the end, the questions do get answered to a large extent.

The romance between Rajveer and Harleen is very cute and heartwarming. Actually, the actors playing these two characters are so good-looking that half the job is done with the casting itself – the audience roots for the two, right from the word ‘go’. There are a number of light moments in the first half and they are truly enjoyable. Action takes over in the post-interval portion and that will more than satisfy the masses. Emotions, of course, could have been far more pronounced. Abbas Tyrewala’s dialogues are very nice.

Hrithik Roshan looks like a Greek God. He has taken off his shirt in a number of scenes and his bare torso is to die for. He acts wonderfully, dances excellently and is unbelievably agile in the action sequences. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that he has surpassed himself in the two song-dances. Katrina Kaif looks very pretty and also delivers an excellent performance. Her sense of timing in comic scenes is lovely. Danny Denzongpa stands out in a role which isn’t too lengthy. Pavan Raj Malhotra is very effective in the role of the secret service agent. Javed Jaffery makes his presence felt in a brief role, in a special appearance. Jimmy Shergill has his moments, also in a brief role, in a special appearance. Kanwaljit Singh, Deepti Naval, Vikram Gokhale and Ankur Vikal provide adequate support in guest appearances. Kamlesh Gill is cute as Harleen’s grandmother. Partha Akerkar (as Robert) and Pradeep Kabra (as Big Man) are effective. Pratik Dixit shines in the role of Karan. Others lend the desired support.

Siddharth Anand’s narrative style caters to all classes of audience. His direction is very good and he has succeeded in keeping the viewers involved, right from the start till the end. He doesn’t let the audience’s thoughts wander anywhere. Vishal-Shekhar’s music is already hit. ‘Tu meri’ and the ‘Bang Bang’ song are very fast-paced numbers. ‘Meherbaan’ has lilt and melody. Lyrics, by Vishal Dadlani, Anvita Dutt and Kumaar, are perfectly in synch with the film’s mood. Choreography of the ‘Tu meri’ and ‘Bang Bang’ songs (both by Bosco-Caesar) is truly mesmerising. Special mention must be made of Hrithik Roshan’s outstanding dance movements in both these songs. Ahmed Khan’s choreography in the ‘Meherbaan’ song is eye-filling. Salim-Sulaiman’s background music is wonderful. Sunil Patel’s cinematography, with additional cinematography by Vikas Sivaraman and Benjamin Jasper, is extraordinary. The film looks like a Hollywood film, thanks to the camerawork, can­vas and action/stunts. The foreign locations are heavenly. Parvez Shaikh’s action and stunts (with action consultant Andrew Armstrong) takes one’s breath away. Action of this kind has not been seen on the Hindi screen. The water action sequence is out of this world. The chase sequences are just too lovely. Dipankar Dasgupta’s production designing is veritably superb. Editing, by Akiv Ali, is sharp.

On the whole, Bang Bang! is a super-hit because it offers entertainment galore and has something for everyone. It will break a lot of box-office records and could end up joining the Rs. 200-crore club.

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