UTV Motion Pictures, Vinod Chopra Films and Rajkumar Hirani Films’ PK (UA) is a high concept film. It is about a man’s expose on how Godmen misuse religion to fool gullible people.

PK (Aamir Khan) loses a remote control when a stranger runs away with it. He is devastated as it is the remote control which will help him reach back home. He goes in search of it but draws a blank everywhere because he knows nothing about the man who has stolen it from him. As everybody he meets in this connection tells him, only God can help him, PK tries to get God to help him. In the process, he realises that there are different Gods for different religions and the messengers of God (Godmen) try to connect ordinary mortals to God but more often than not, they fail. He also soon understands the frauds being committed in the name of God, by the Godmen. This realisation dawns upon him when he sees his remote control being passed off by Godman Tapasvi (Saurabh Shukla) as proof of God’s existence, to fool people and to prove that he (Tapasvi) is close to God.

Jagat Janani alias Jaggu (Anushka Sharma), who has befriended PK and has promised to get his remote back so that he is able to return home, is a television reporter and show anchor. She takes PK to her house. Soon, Jaggu takes PK to Tapasvi’s discourse and prompts him to question his preaching while recording all this on camera for telecast on her channel. She has convinced her boss, Bajwa (Boman Irani), that PK’s story and philosophy are newsworthy and would increase TRPs if aired on the channel. PK sparks off a virtual revolution in people’s thinking, leading to soaring TRPs for the channel, much to the joy of Jaggu and Bajwa. As a result of Tapasvi standing exposed, his followers become so critical of him that their numbers dwindle drastically. The finale, planned by Jaggu, is a live face-off between PK and Tapasvi, for the television channel.

Both, Jaggu and her boss, have an axe to grind with Tapasvi. Jaggu had been in love with a Pakistani Muslim boy, Sarfaraz (Sushant Singh Rajput), but Tapasvi had warned that he would ditch her. Her father (Parikshat Sahni), a diehard disciple of Tapasvi, had, in fact, disowned Jaggu after her affair and ultimate breakup. As for Jaggu’s boss, Bajwa, he had dared to talk about religion, on his channel, which didn’t go down well with Tapasvi, whose men had, therefore, taught him a lesson which was difficult for him to forget in his lifetime.

Does the face-off between PK and Tapasvi take place on camera? Is PK able to expose Tapasvi or does Tapasvi succeed in proving his credentials? Does Jaggu fulfil her promise by helping PK get his remote control back? Do Jaggu and Sarfaraz patch up and why had they broken up in the first place? Is PK able to return to his home?

Abhijat Joshi and Rajkumar Hirani have written a high-concept drama. Their story is very different from the films one sees everyday and although one will be tempted to say that the story has shades of Oh My God! And Koi… Mil Gaya, the fact is that there is very different stuff also on offer. In other words, the story may have shades of the two aforementioned films but there are many unique points also in the film. The duo’s screenplay is extremely entertaining, especially in the first half, keeping the audience in splits right till the interval. The first part is actually full of scenes which are inherently humorous but many of those scenes also have fantastic underlying messages. Since the drama exposes the Godmen and how they fool gullible people in the name of religion, everybody will be able to enjoy and appreciate it to the fullest. The film takes a serious and preachy turn post-interval and it also becomes a bit slow-paced. However, since the preachy portions are those which the common man can completely identify with, he won’t really resent them. The pace picks up in the pre-climax. The face-off between PK and Tapasvi is extraordinary and how it involves Jaggu and her boss also, is supremely intelligent. The scene in which Jaggu speaks to the embassy and what follows thereafter is so outstanding, so wonderfully written and and so very emotional that it will choke the viewers. All that follows after that scene is both, very interesting and very engaging, besides being emotional too. Many scenes in the pre-interval portion and several in the post-interval part are clapworthy. Special mention must be made of some scenes. The scene in which Jaggu slips her purse into the money box of the temple, from which PK has stolen money, just so that she can save him from the temple priests is outstanding and truly heartwarming. The scene in which PK helps a Sardar in need of money, by giving him cash, is simply remarkable not only because it reveals the powers which PK possesses but also because of what Jaggu sees when she follows the Sardar. Abhijat Joshi and Rajkumar Hirani’s dialogues are veritable gems and deserve full marks. Many of the dialogues are so thought-provoking while being truly funny that they will evoke loud rounds of applause.

Aamir Khan easily comes up with the best performance of his career so far. If his character is supremely endearing, his performance is truly mesmerising. He acts with such effortless ease that he makes the actually very difficult role look like child’s play! Aamir looks the character he plays. A special mention must be made of two things: his youthful look, which is rather creditable, and his uninhibited performance in scenes showing him stark naked. Anushka Sharma is first-rate in a running role. She proves to be the perfect foil to Aamir Khan and never falls short of expectations while performing opposite him. She looks very fetching. Sanjay Dutt adds tremendous star value and acts ably in a brief role. Sushant Singh Rajput is as natural as natural can be in a brief role. Saurabh Shukla is wonderful as Tapasvi. Boman Irani makes his presence felt with his star power and easy acting. Parikshat Sahni lends able support. As his wife, Amardeep Jha has her moments. Rukhsar Kabir is just too lovely in the single scene (as the telephone operator in the embassy) in which she appears. Brijendra Kala makes his mark. Manavi Gagroo (as Mitu), Rajinder Sharma (as the thief who steals PK’s remote control) and Ram Sethi (as the elderly man in Belgium) provide excellent support. Sai Gundewar (as the ticket seller in Belgium), baby Plabita Borthakur (as Jaggu’s sister), baby Tia Sharma (as young Jaggu), Sachin Parikh (as Tapasvi’s manager), Shaji Choudhary (as Tapasvi’s bodyguard), Vijay Crishna (as entrepreneur), Rohitashv Gaur (as constable Pandey), Gulshan Pandey (as constable), Ashok Vyas (as carrot seller), B.K. Sood (as old doctor in Rajasthan), Reema Debnath (as Phuljadiya), Anil Mange (who enacts the role of Lord Shiva in a stage-play), Arun Bali (as the old Sardar who fools PK), Kamlesh Gill (as the old Sardar’s wife) and Arohi Mhatre, Deepti Rege and Pragati Joshi (all three as Tapasvi’s musicians) lend adequate support. Ranbir Kapoor will draw shrieks of surprise and excitement in a tiny role.

Rajkumar Hirani’s direction is incomparable. The man shows yet again that he is the master craftsman whom nobody can touch. His narration is almost flawless and all credit to him and to his co-writer too, to tackle such a tricky topic with such élan. Very intelligently, he has repeatedly ridiculed the malpractices in the name of religion while not once poking fun at religion or any God. The best part of his narration is that it caters to all strata of society and all kinds of audience. Music (Shantanu Moitra, Ajay-Atul and Ankit Tiwari) is definitely not upto the mark. There is simply no hit song. Having said that, it must be added that the songs look appealing in the film. Lyrics (Swanand Kirkire, Amitabh Varma and Manoj Muntashir) are very fine. Choreography (Ganesh Acharya, Bosco-Caesar, Stanley D’Costa and Brinda) is fair. Sanjay Wandrekar and Atul Raninga’s background music is pretty effective. Murleedharan C.K.’s cinematography is splendid. Sham Kaushal’s action and stunts are good. Production designing by Acropolis (Rajnish Hedao, Sumit Basu and Snigdha Basu) is lovely. Rajkumar Hirani’s editing is first-rate.

On the whole, PK is an outstanding entertainer with a strong message relevant to all human beings. It will easily prove to be one of the biggest Bollywood blockbusters, probably, the biggest also. It has all chances to emerge as the first film to cross the Rs. 300-crore mark.

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Tulsea Pictures and Mantra/Runaway Entertainment’s Sulemani Keeda (A) is the story of two struggling Bollywood writers who work as a team. Dulal (Naveen Kasturia) and Mainak (Mayank Tewari) are struggling writers waiting for their big break as a writing duo. The break eludes them till Gonzo (Karan Mirchandani), son of producer Sweety Kapoor (Razzak Khan), signs them to write an arthouse film in which he would launch himself as hero. All seems well till Dulal, who has just had a breakup, meets Ruma (Aditi Vasudev), who actually makes him question his choice to sell out.

Amit V. Masurkar’s story of the slacker comedy is very different from what one sees in usual Hindi films. His screenplay is equally unusual, sometimes bordering on the weird. The first half is entertaining because it is so different and also because of the humour. But the second half becomes a bit boring. In fact, it wouldn’t be in­correct to say that the film loses steam after interval. Of course, the appeal of the script is mainly for the elite audi­ence looking for a break from the usual commercial potboilers. There is a libe­ral use of swear and cuss words, which will be enjoyed by youngsters. Dialogues, penned by Amit V. Masurkar, are very natural and add to the entertainment value, oftentimes more than the screenplay.

Naveen Kasturia acts with effortless ease and impresses as Dulal. Mayank Tewari is excellent in the role of Mainak. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that he is quite the life of the film, entertaining the audience to the hilt. Aditi Vasudev gives a dignified performance as Ruma. Karan Mirchandani shines as Gonzo. He gives a superb account of himself. Krishna Bisht has his moments as Poky. Rukshana Tabassum is natural in the role of Oona. Dilip Prabhavalkar makes his presence felt as the CBFC chief. Razzak Khan is good as film producer Sweety Kapoor. Uday Chandra is alright. Mahesh Bhatt, Amrita Rao and Anil Sharma leave their impressions in special appearances.

Amit V. Masurkar’s direction is good. He has maintained a consistent narrative style and kept the entertainment quotient going through the first half and in a part of the second half of the film. Arfaaz Kagalwala and Anurag Shankar have come up with a zany music score which goes well with the mood of the film. Lyrics (Satyanshu-Devanshu and Neeraj Rajawat) are very appropriate. Arfaaz Kagalwala and Anurag Shankar’s background music is effective. Surjodeep Ghosh’s cinematography is really nice. Khushboo Agarwal Raj’s editing is sharp.

On the whole, Sulemani Keeda is an entertaining fare in parts and is meant for a very thin section of the audience. It is different and will appeal to youngsters looking for different cinema but its commercial prospects are, of course, weak.

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Sahara One Media And Entertainment Ltd. and Rising Star Entertainment Pvt. Ltd.’s Bhopal: A Prayer For Rain is a cinematic version of the Bhopal gas leak tragedy of December 1984 which killed thousands of people and left many more and their future generations incapacitated for life.

US-based Union Carbide starts its chemical factory in Bhopal owing to cost-effectiveness but soon, all safety norms are thrown to the winds. The factory is barely able to make profits because of which the Indians who are running it start cutting corners even at the cost of risk to the lives of workers and people living around the factory. The plant safety officer, Roy (Joy Sengupta) is very concerned about safety norms being given a go-by but the supervisor (Vinit Kumar) couldn’t care less and he even shuts off the airconditioning plant, posing a potential risk to everyone. The supervisor is aware that if he doesn’t cut down losses, the parent company in the USA would shut down the Bhopal factory. In fact, it is because of the fear of being rendered jobless that the factory workers risk their lives and report for duty every day in spite of a mishap which has claimed the life of one worker, Rakesh (Om Prakash).

Without any qualifications, Dilip (Rajpal Yadav) is given the responsibilities of Rakesh. Warren Anderson, the US-based chairman and CEO of Union Carbide, visits the Bhopal factory one day but he doesn’t do a thing about the security lapses in spite of being aware of the hazardous nature of the factory. All along, journalist Motwani (Kal Penn) has been warning people of the hazards and risks the Union Carbide plant poses but nobody has taken him seriously. He even has a visiting foreign journalist, Eva Caulfied (Mischa Barton), interview Warren Anderson when he comes to Bhopal, and publishes the interview in his newspaper to underline the risk the plant poses to people.

And then one day, the unthinkable happens. Gas fumes leak from the Bhopal factory, killing many workers in the factory and slum dwellers living in and around the factory. Eyes of the people affected by the poisonous gases begin to burn and they start vomiting and bleeding. Dr. Chandra’s (Manoj Joshi) hospital is flooded with suffering patients but the medicines are limited. The day of the gas leak is also the day when Dilip’s sister (Mamta Bhukya) is getting married.

The court case against Union Carbide goes on for years even as the unfortunate victims and families of the deceased await justice.

The film is based on a true-life incident and writers Ravi Kumar and David Brooks have written a cinematic version of the ghastly incident so beautifully that the audiences actually feel as if they have been transported to Bhopal in and around the Union Carbide plant. Their screenplay moves at a fast pace and involves the viewers completely in such a way that they begin to feel the pain of the victims. No doubt, the script is very class-appealing because of the technical jargon often used and the uni-dimensional nature of the drama. But the mass-appealing part of the film is that it moves the audience emotionally. Dialogues (penned by the duo) are absolutely stark and very natural and make a superb impact.

Rajpal Yadav plays Dilip so wonderfully that it would appear, he was born to play the role. He makes the character supremely believable. As his wife, Tannishtha Chatterjee gets limited scope but is very natural. Martin Sheen is excellent as Warren Anderson. Kal Penn leaves a lasting impression as journalist Motwani who does his job earnestly although not many take him seriously. Mischa Bar­ton has her moments as journalist Eva Caulfield. Vinit Kumar is first-rate as the plant supervisor. In the role of safety officer Roy, Joy Sengupta is terrific. Vasanth Santosham is good as Mr. Gupta. Manoj Joshi makes his presence amply felt as Dr. Chandra. As his assistant, Venk Modur is lovely. Nimisha Shankar is extraordinary as the nurse and her expressions deserve mention. Martin Brambach and David Brooks lend able support as Union Carbide employees. Om Prakash is superb as Rakesh. In the role of Rakesh’s widow, Fagun Thakrar lives her role. Satish Kaushik acts effectively as the labour minister. Lalit Tiwari provides fine support as the moneylender. Mamta Bhukya (as Dilip’s sister), Manohar Chauhan (as her bridegroom) and Vijay Gupta (as the bridegroom’s father) are adequate. Others lend the desired support.

Ravi Kumar’s direction is outstanding. Not only has he recreated the 1984 era and the atmosphere of Bhopal effectively but has also made a humane drama from one of the most terrifying catastrophes of modern Indian history. Charlie Wuppermann and Anil Chandel’s cinematography is top of the line. Raam Shetty’s stunts are exciting. Benjamin Wallfisch’s background music is excellent. Sting and Anoushka Shankar’s music goes well with the film’s mood. Sukant Panigrahy and R. Ravindar’s production designing is extraordinary. Editing (by Chris Gill and Maria Valenta) is very sharp. Production values and other technical aspects are of a very high standard.

On the whole, Bhopal: A Prayer For Rain is an excellent film which moves the viewer. It will come in for a lot of critical acclaim but, unfortunately, its box-office results will not match its merits and the acclaim because of lack of face value and awareness among the public. The film deserves entertainment tax-exemption in every state of India.

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Eros International and Baba Films’ Action Jackson (UA) is a revenge action drama. Jay (Ajay Devgan) is in Bangkok and works for underworld don Xavier Fonseca (Ananth Raj). One day, he rescues Xavier’s sister, Marina (Manasvi Mamgai), from Xavier’s enemy, Nawab (Shawar Ali). Marina is blown away by Jay’s per­sona and guts and wants to marry him. But Jay already has a girlfriend, Anusha (Yami Gautam), and so turns down Marina’s proposal. This angers her and Xavier so much that Xavier asks his goons to eliminate Anusha, in a bid to get Jay to marry his sister. But Jay, who is now in India, manages to save Anusha and their unborn child, unknown to Xavier and Marina.

Xavier asks Jay to return to Bangkok and marry his sister. Luckily for Jay, he meets his look-alike, Vishy (Ajay Devgan), in India. Vishy indulges in illegal activities for a living and is in love with Khushi (Sonakshi Sinha). Jay introduces himself to Vishy, tells him his story and requests him to go to Xavier in Bangkok, posing as Jay for a few days because he (Jay) needs to be in India by his wife’s side in hospital.

Vishy obliges on humanitarian grounds and goes to Bangkok, pretending, before Xavier and Marina, to be Jay. Vishy takes his bosom pal, Moosa (Kunal Roy Kapur), along with him to Bangkok.

What happens thereafter? Is Vishy able to fool Xavier and Marina or do they get to know that he is not Jay? Does Jay face Xavier again? Is Jay able to avenge the murder attempt on his girlfriend (now wife) by Xavier? Do Vishy and Khushi unite in matrimony? Do Jay and Anusha live happily ever after? What future awaits Xavier and Marina?

A.C. Mugil’s story offers little novelty except that Jay and Vishy are look-alikes, which also is not exactly a novelty but is at least a bit unusual. Otherwise, the story is a routine revenge drama. The screenplay, written by Shiraz Ahmed, Prabhudheva and A.C. Mugil, relies too heavily on action so that there is a surfeit of violence, bloodshed and gore in the film. In fact, the excessive violence will put off the ladies audience and will not go down well with the multiplex-frequenting audience. But the masses and single-screen cinema audience will like the action and violence. The track of the double role comes as a surprise when it is revealed a little before the interval. The first part of the first half is slow-moving and routine. The second half is better and more fast-paced. But the fact remains that the overdose of gruesome violence does get on the audience’s nerves, barring the masses. Shiraz Ahmed’s dialogues are good but needed to be more punch-packed.

Ajay Devgan acts with admirable ease and enacts both the characters very well. He is intense in the dramatic scenes and breathes fire in the action sequences. He is quite good in the light scenes and, surprisingly, has also danced gracefully. Full marks to him for working so brilliantly on his physique because his toned body will be loved by the viewers. Sonakshi Sinha does well in the role of Khushi. Her absence for a long time in between looks odd. Yami Gautam is nice as Anusha. But she doesn’t get much scope. Ananth Raj looks frightening and performs well as Xavier Fonseca. Manasvi Mamgai makes an impressive debut. She looks sexy and acts very confidently as Marina. She exhibits grace in her dances. Kunal Roy Kapur is terrific in a light role. He provides the much-needed comic relief as Moosa. Ketan Karande looks menacing as Pedro. Puru Raaj Kumar makes his presence felt in the role of police inspector Shirkey. Razzak Khan leaves a mark as Lala. Ganesh Yadav has his moments as police office Maykar. Feroz Abbasi (as Anant Raj), Shawar Ali (as Nawab) and Jeetu Verma lend fair support. Shahid Kapoor adds star value in a graceful dance, in a special appearance. Rajesh Khattar leaves a mark in a special appearance. Others are adequate.

Prabhudheva’s direction is mass-appealing. With so much action and violence, the drama and narrative style will be appreciated more by the masses. But he resorts to too many convenient links and cinematic liberties to further the drama, and this will not go down well with the multiplex-audience. Himesh Reshammiya’s music is popular. All the songs are well-tuned and meant for the masses but there is not a single chartbuster. Lyrics (Sameer and Shabbir Ahmed) are good. Choreography of the songs (‘Gangster baby’ by Prabhudheva, ‘Punjabi mast’ and ‘Chhichhora’ by Vishnu Deva, and ‘Keeda’ and ‘Bas teri’ by Shekhar V.J.) is truly eye-filling. Sandeep Chowta’s background score is effective but very loud. Vijaykumar Arora has done a swell job of the camerawork. K. Ravi Verma’s action and stunts are over the top but while they would find favour with the masses, they would appear too fancy to be palatable by the classes. R.K. Naguraj’s production design is appropriate. Bunty Nagi’s editing is alright.

On the whole, Action Jackson is for the masses more than the classes. It will prove to be an average fare at the box-office in only some circuits as it will score in single-screen cinemas and with the masses more than in the multiplexes and with the gentry audience. But in the rest of the circuits, reaching the average mark will be an uphill task. Considering that it has entailed an investment of around Rs. 100 crore (to make, promote and release), recovery of the same seems an improbability in spite of fabulous recovery from the sale of satellite rights.

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Mukund Purohit Production Pvt. Ltd. and Wisdomtree Productions Pvt. Ltd.’s Zed Plus (UA) is a political satire. Aslam Khan (Adil Hussain) runs a puncture repair shop in a village of Rajasthan. He lives with his wife, Hameeda (Mona Singh), and their little son. He is at loggerheads with his neighbour, Habib (Mukesh Tiwari), who is jealous of Aslam Khan because both the married men lust for the same woman in the village, Saeeda (Ekavali Khanna). Habib’s wife, Fauzi­ya (Shivani Tanksale), only aggravates matters between Aslam and Habib.

The mosque in the village is being looked after by one person of Aslam Khan’s very large family and when disputes over the sharing of income of the mosque arise in the family, the village panchayat rules that every family member would get to serve as the khadim of the dargah, for one day in a year. The dargah has immense following.

One day, the country’s Prime Minister (Kulbhushan Kharbanda) himself decides to visit the dargah in a bid to save his government from collapsing. As luck would have it, Aslam Khan is scheduled to act as the khadim of the dargah, on that day. The Prime Minister, it may be mentioned here, can barely speak or understand Hindi, while Aslam Khan hardly knows a word of English, the language spoken by the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister’s officer on special duty, Dixit (K.K. Raina), translates the brief conversation between the two. Besides asking the Prime Minister to do the rituals, the innocent Aslam Khan also complains of how he feels threatened by his neighbour. While Aslam Khan is speaking about his neighbour, Habib, the Prime Minister misinterprets it as a threat to Aslam Khan from the neighbouring country, Pakistan. As the Prime Minister gets the news of a favourable court order, as soon as he sets foot in the dargah, he agrees to provide Z security to Aslam Khan, in a show of largesse.

Aslam Khan is bewildered with the security provided to him merely because of the threat he perceives from his neighbour. Inspector Rajesh (Rahul Singh) and his large contingent of commandos take charge of Aslam Khan’s security. The news of the security provided by the Prime Minister to a mere khadim, owing to the threat he faces from the neighbouring coun­try, soon becomes public. The villagers, unaware of any such threat, are shocked. Soon, Aslam Khan clears the air with the Prime Minister’s officer on special duty but it is too late now, to withdraw the Z security as that would expose the Prime Minister’s stupidity. Therefore, Dixit asks Aslam Khan to pretend as if he has been provided the security cover because of a real threat to him from the neighbouring country. As time flies, Aslam Khan becomes a veritable VIP in his village. In fact, his entire life is turned upside down because of the security cover. Why, with the large security contingent, Aslam Khan now finds it difficult, almost impossible, to meet his secret beloved, Saeeda, with whom he is having an extra-marital affair. However, Aslam Khan and his family continue to enjoy the perquisites which come with the Z security.

Aslam Khan’s popularity in the village grows. The chief minister of Rajasthan sees a golden opportunity in this and announces Aslam Khan’s name as the ruling party’s candidate, in the forthcoming elections. The hapless Aslam Khan now starts campaigning for the elections. Meanwhile, the terrorist kingpin (Sanjay Mishra) from the neighbouring country sends two of his goons to spy on Aslam Khan as he is not aware of anyone of that name being issued a threat.

What happens thereafter? Does Aslam Khan get sucked into politics or does his conscience force him to reveal the truth to the voters, or, in other words, to the villagers? Do the neighbouring country’s terrorists identify Aslam Khan or not? Do the terrorists target Aslam Khan? What is the role of Aslam Khan’s wife, Hameeda, in this entire façade?

The story of the political satire is penned by Ramkumar Singh and reveals how a common man’s life can be overturned due to a mere communication gap and a resultant order of the Prime Minister. In that sense, the story is interesting and engaging but only for the class audience, because it rests on a small misunderstanding. The large mass base of audience will not be able to appreciate the inability of the officer on special duty to convey the truth to the Prime Minister and have the security cover discontinued, due to the media coverage the withdrawal might receive. The screenplay, written by Dr. Chandraprakash Dwivedi and Ramkumar Singh, is equally class-appealing. The first half has many light moments which bring a smile on the faces of the elite viewers and occasional laughter too. However, the post-interval portion loses its grip on the audience as the fun element reduces considerably. The drama becomes serious and the audience gets the feeling that it is being stretched too much, thereby further diluting its impact. Dr. Chandraprakash Dwivedi and Ramkumar Singh’s dialogues are intelligent and entertaining.

Adil Hussain does an excellent job as Aslam Khan. He plays the commoner who becomes a VIP overnight, so wonderfully that it is a delight to watch him. Mona Singh is simply wonderful as Aslam Khan’s better half, Hameeda. Mukesh Tiwari is entertainingly effective as the jealous neighbour, Habib. As Habib’s wife, Fauziya, Shivani Tanksale lends terrific support. Ekavali Khanna is natural as Saeeda. Kulbhushan Kharbanda leaves a mark as the Prime Minister of India. As his officer on special duty, K.K. Raina is first-rate. Rahul Singh provides able support as inspector Rajesh. Sanjay Mishra makes his presence felt as the terrorist head in the neighbouring country. Dr. Anil Rastogi (as the chief minister of Rajasthan), Ravi Jhankal (as minister Lalit Chaturvedi), Gyan Prakash (as paanwala BBC), Vicky Ahuja (as terrorist Munna) and Vinod Acharya (as terrorist Babu) are natural. Hrishitaa Bhatt adds glamour in song-dances. Sukhwinder Singh makes his presence felt in song-dances. Others are adequate.

Dr. Chandraprakash Dwivedi’s direction is lovely for the political satire he has made. No doubt, the script has limited appeal but given that, his narration is efficient. Music (by Sukhwinder Singh and Nayab) captures the flavour of Rajasthan, where the film is based. At least two to three songs are appealing. But it must be said that the songs sometimes look forced into the drama. Manoj Muntashir’s lyrics are appropriate. Bhushan Lakhandri’s choreography is eye-filling. Bapi-Tutul’s background music is of a good standard. H.M. Ramachandra’s cinematography is excellent. Sham Kaushal’s action scenes are alright. Production design (by Muneesh Sappel) shows an eye for detailing. Aseem Sinha’s editing is reasonably sharp.

On the whole, Zed Plus is a political satire which is well-made and which has some truly fine performances but as far as its commercial prospects are concerned, they are almost nil because the film will find appreciation among a very thin minority, referred to as the high gentry audience in a handful of big cities only.

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Benaras Mediaworks’ Zid (A) is a suspense thriller. Rohan (Karanvir Sharma) works in a newspaper office as a crime reporter, reporting to his boss, Karan (Mohan Kapur). He tries to decipher a crime story involving Maya (Mannara) who is found dead and a suicide note, written by her, is recovered by the police. Rohan had rented a place belonging to Maya’s wheelchair-bound father, and had grown fond of Maya. But, on her part, Maya had fallen head over heels in love with Rohan to the point of obsession.

Mystery also shrouds the death of a young girl, Nancy (Seerat Kapoor), as it is not clear whether she was killed in a road accident or murdered after being seriously injured in the accident. Nancy is the step-sister of Priya (Shraddha Das), who is the ex-girlfriend of Rohan. Priya left the country a year ago but Rohan is still awaiting a telephone call from her. His boss, Karan, tries to explain to him that she has walked out on him, but Rohan has still to come to terms with that.

In fact, the accident Nancy had met with was when Nancy’s two-wheeler had collided with the car being driven by Rohan himself. But since both, Rohan and Maya, who were travelling in the car, were under the influence of alcohol, they had fled the accident spot without reporting to the police. Investigations into the accident had led the police to Priya, Nancy’s step-sister. Since Priya was Rohan’s ex-grilfriend, the police investigations had brought Priya and Rohan closer once again, a fact deeply resented by Maya. The obsessive Maya had one day even seen Rohan and Priya getting too close for her comfort and had, therefore, tried to end her life. But she had been saved by Rohan. What then had led her to commit suicide? Or was it a murder made to look like a suicide? Who had murdered Nancy and why? Or was Nancy killed because of the accident? Did Maya murder Nancy? Was she jealous of Nancy? Did Priya murder her step-sister? Was the accident stage-managed? Was Priya falling in love with Rohan all over again? If not, why was Maya so insecure about Priya? Was Priya the cause of Maya’s death?

The film is an adaptation of the German film, The Good Neighbour. It is scripted jointly by Vivek Agnihotri and Rohit Malhotra. The story had the germs to be made into a taut thriller but the screenplay becomes routine after a point of time. Both, Rohan and Maya, keep screaming and shouting so much that the audience tires of their behaviour. The viewers also get the feeling that the drama has been stretched too much as, after a point of time, it meanders without really conveying too much. Frankly, the screenplay almost fails to involve the audience in the guessing game about who the killer is, which is so essential in any suspense thriller. This is, perhaps, the biggest drawback of the screenplay. For, rather than becoming involv­ed in and a part of the unfolding drama, the viewer remains a passive spectator. No doubt, the twist in the climax jolts the audience out of its passiveness but it is a bit too late in the day. Dialogues, also penned by the duo, are good.

Karanvir Sharma looks fairly good and does an average job as crime reporter Rohan alias Ronnie. Mannara makes an ordinary debut in Bollywood as Maya. She acts freely but needs to lose weight. She has exposed her body freely. Shraddha Das is quite nice and restrained in the role of Priya. She too provides oomph by exposing uninhibitedly. Denzil Smith performs ably as inspector Moses. Mohan Kapur lends good support as Karan. Rajeev Saxena (as DSP) is nice. Seerat Kapoor (in the role of Nancy), Sanjay Kapoor (as the psychiatrist), Indal Raja (as the wit­ness), Satish Barve (as Maya’s father), baby Apoorva (as younger Maya), Archis Achrekar (as the electrician) and the others provide average support.

Vivek Agnihotri’s direction is ordinary. The biggest problem about his narrative style is that he is unable to quite involve the audience in the guessing game of the suspense thrill­er. Sharib-Toshi’s music is a plus point. All the songs are well-tuned and a couple of them are very appealing. Shakeel Azmi’s lyrics lend weight. Salman Yusuf Khan and Ranju Varghese’s choreography is okay. Aashish Rego’s background music is fairly effective. Yash Bhatt’s camerawork needed to be better. Parvez Shaikh’s action and stunts are alright. Rupin Suchak’s production designing is fair. Satyajit Gazmer’s editing could have been sharper.

On the whole, Zid lacks the excitement of a suspense thriller. With the songs, human anatomy exposure and the twist in the climax being its only trump cards, its chances at the box-office appear limited, given its dull start.

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Dharma Productions Pvt. Ltd.’s Ungli (UA) is the story of a common man’s fight against the deep-rooted corruption in society. Abhay Kashyap (Randeep Hooda), Maya (Kangana Ranaut), Gautam alias Goti (Neil Bhoopalam) and Kaleem (Angad Bedi) are four fast friends who decide to take law into their own hands when they realise that the rich, powerful and influential people can easily commit crimes and yet go scot-free. The four form an Ungli gang, the name being representative of showing the corrupt system the middle finger in a bid to defy it and make fun of it. The Ungli gang takes on corrupt public servants and other corrupt people and metes out justice to those at the mercy of such corrupt people. The gang members, wearing masks to conceal their identities, then send the recorded video footages of their actions to television channels which play them for the public. Quite understandably, the frustrated members of the public laud the gang but the police is out to nab the gang members for taking law into their hands. However, with no clue in sight, the police draw a blank. Honest and upright police inspector Ashok Kale (Sanjay Dutt) is assigned the task of bringing the Ungli gang to book.

Kale takes police officer Nikhil (Emraan Hashmi) in his team. Nikhil emulates the actions of Ungli gang, thereby prompting the gang members to meet him. He convinces them that he is a commoner who is inspired by the gang’s actions and thereby gains entry into the gang. The aim, of course, is to leak the information to his senior, inspector Ashok Kale. However, police officer Nikhil has a change of heart at the eleventh hour.

There comes a stage when police inspector Akhok Kale has to himself pay bribe money to secure his posting in a coveted area. At first reluctant, he agrees to bend his principles but seeks the help of the Ungli gang to expose the corrupt placement system in the police force. Dayal (Mahesh Manjrekar) is the middleman whom inspector Kale has to pay the bribe money to.

Does the Ungli gang help inspector Kale? Is the corrupt placement system exposed? Who are the police officers who get exposed in the process? What happens to the Ungli gang? What does the future hold for inspector Kale? What happens to police officer Nikhil?

Rensil D’Silva’s story has noble intentions and is topical as corruption affects every single man in every walk of life today. However, the well-intentioned story is too simplistic which makes it unpalatable. Rensil D’Silva’s screenplay is one of complete convenience. Everything seems to be so easy for the Ungli gang that it almost makes it appear that all of us, who have endured corrupt public servants for all these years, are idiots. The Ungli gang, which should have been a source of inspiration for the common man, fails to become inspirational due to the laidback attitude of the gang members. Every time the gang’s new feat is shown on television, a few random commoners, who are interviewed briefly on the channel, are shown praising the gang. This is the writer’s idea of inspiration which, of course, is far from it. Resultantly, the drama absolutely fails to instil a sense of pride and patriotism in the minds of the audience. The screenplay is actually full of defects. For instance, the principled police inspector Kale, who, like the members of the public, should actually be secretly admiring the actions of the Ungli gang, is shown refusing to shake hands with its members after calling them criminals! Criminals?!? It would’ve been understandable if a corrupt police officer referred to the Ungli gang members as criminals but an upright police inspector doing so is just not palatable. And this, when the audience – like members of the public in the film – considers the gang members as nothing short of heroes! Moreover, although the gang gets its name from the act of showing the middle finger, not a single person – repeat, not a single person – is shown pointing the middle finger at anybody or even at the system. This, therefore, completely negates the impact of the title. This anomaly becomes a joke when viewed in its entirety. Imagine, such a bold title not being relevant at all!! Inspector Kale succumbing to pressure and agreeing to pay bribe money does not go down well with the audience. Again, Dayal allowing every Tom, Dick and Harry, who comes to pay him bribe money, into the room where such money is kept for final disbursement among all the corrupt police officers, appears to be a very, very convenient link to enable the Ungli gang to create havoc. All in all, the screenplay is shockingly childish and patently foolish. Furthermore, the screenplay does not give any character in the drama scenes to make him/her appear heroic. Milap Zaveri’s dialogues are excellent at places but contrived at others.

Emraan Hashmi does a fair job in a role which hardly projects him as a hero. Kangana Ranaut is okay in a shockingly insignificant role. Randeep Hooda probably has the meatiest role. He does well. Angad Bedi has a few entertaining moments and is alright. Neil Bhoopalam does a fair job. Neha Dhupia is earnest in a brief role. Sanjay Dutt is average in a role which, unfortunately, doesn’t suit him, given the timing of the film’s release when he is serving his jail sentence in real life. Mahesh Manjrekar is mechanical. Reema lends able support. Arunoday Singh (as Maya’s brother, Ricky), Raza Murad (as the commissioner of police), Shiv Subramaniam (as DCP Shivraman), Rajat Kaul (as Anshuman Dayal), Avijit Dutt (as Joshi), Bharat Ganeshpure (as the traffic cop), Sharad Ponkshe (as Gaikwad) and Shishir Sharma (as Mishra) lend fair support.

Rensil D’Silva’s direction is ordinary. The drama fails to inspire the audience, which was a must for a film like this. Music (Sachin-Jigar, Salim-Sulaiman, Gulraj Singh and Aslam Keyi) is alright but the absence of even one hit song is sorely felt. Songs appear to have been forced into the narrative, which is another minus point. Lyrics (Kumaar, Manoj Yadav and Amitabh Bhattacharya) are ordinary. Song picturisations (choreography by Bosco-Caesar and Remo D’Souza) are fair. The last song, in the end credit rolling titles, does not have visuals, which looks strange. John Stewart Eduri’s background music is of a fine standard. Hemant Chaturvedi’s cinematography is appropriate. Parvez-Feroz’s action and stunts are exciting. Indrani Pillai’s art direction is fair. Deepa Bhatia’s editing could’ve been sharper.

On the whole, Ungli lacks entertainment as well as inspirational value and will, therefore, flop miserably at the box-office.

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