KABIR SINGH

T-Series and Cine 1 Studios’ Kabir Singh (A) is a story of obsessive love.

Kabir Singh (Shahid Kapoor) studies in a medical college in Delhi. He is a super-bright student but his biggest minus point is that he is unable to control his anger. He falls madly in love with Preeti (Kiara Advani), a junior in the same college. He becomes so obsessed with her at first sight itself that he warns all boys of the college to not mess around with her. Since everyone in the college is aware of his temper, they steer clear of Preeti.

Preeti is a shy and docile Sikh girl but she soon reciprocates Kabir’s love because not only does she like him but she also realises that he can go to any lengths to care for and love her. Like, for instance, when Preeti injures her foot one day, he shifts her from the girls’ hostel to the boys’ hostel so that he can look after her all the time. Kabir and Preeti get physical during the time Preeti stays with Kabir in his room.

Soon, it’s time for Kabir to move to Mussoorie to another college. Preeti is crestfallen. Over the next few years, Kabir and Preeti meet one another in Mussoorie and Delhi. Their love for each other is as physical as it is sublime. After some years, Kabir becomes a surgeon of repute. Preeti also becomes a doctor.

One day, Kabir goes to Preeti’s home in Bombay to take her to his house for the wedding celebrations of his elder brother, Karan (Arjan Bajwa). Preeti’s father sees Kabir and Preeti kissing lip-to-lip on their terrace and is so angry that he actually throws Kabir out of his house. Kabir pleads with Preeti’s father to hear him out as he wants to tell him that he intends to marry her but the father is adamant. Preeti goes to Kabir’s home to pacify an agitated Kabir who then visits her house again the next day to speak with her parents. But Preeti’s obstinate father ridicules him and once again throws him out of the house. An extremely angry Kabir gives Preeti six hours to make up her mind, and leaves from there.

Back home, Kabir partakes in the wedding celebrations but is so disturbed mentally that he consumes glasses after glasses of alcohol and even injects himself with drugs. He becomes unconscious and remains so for two days, unaware that Preeti had come visiting and had been dragged back to her home by her family, and was now being married off to a Sardar chosen by her father.

Kabir is devastated when he regains consciousness and he goes to Preeti’s house to stall the marriage even as it is being solemnised. But he fails to do so. From now on, a devastated Kabir is on a path of self-destruction. Having been thrown out of his home by his disgusted father (Suresh Oberoi), Kabir drinks and does drugs morning to night. Unable to forget Preeti, he has casual relationships with several girls including film actress Jia (Nikita Dutta). His alcohol consumption and drugs intake now start affecting his performance in the operation theatre too.

His family is worried, his best friend, Shiva (Soham Majumdar), is concerned as hell but Kabir couldn’t care less. It almost seems as if Kabir is out to kill himself.

What happens thereafter? Does Kabir reform? Is he able to get over Preeti? Does he marry some other girl? Does he meet Preeti again?

The film is a remake of Telugu super-hit Arjun Reddy. The story and screenplay are penned by Sandeep Reddy Vanga and they are both excellent. The story about an obsessive lover is so arresting that it consumes the audience completely. Kabir and Preeti are, nature-wise, poles apart and yet their love for each other is so unflinching that it strikes a chord in the viewer’s heart. The story has plenty of twists and turns and keeps the audience thoroughly engaged and involved. Although Kabir is very short-tempered and hot-tempered, the audience falls in love with him because, except for his anger, his character is very likeable – he is caring, loving and extremely honest. That’s the reason the viewers are with him even when he behaves crazily or gives Preeti a tight slap.

The screenplay is fast-moving and completely entertaining. The first half has a lot of humour and fun scenes because of which it entertains beautifully. The youngsters, especially, will simply go bonkers over the obsessive love of Kabir. The womenfolk will also love Kabir’s character because every lady aspires for a man like Kabir in her life, minus the anger/temper, of course. Although the film is a love story, the family drama playing out in Kabir’s home is also outstanding and heartwarming too. Equally heartwarming is the concern of Kabir’s bosom pal, Shiva, for him. In fact, the viewer feels a lump in his throat when Shiva offers his own sister’s hand in marriage to Kabir to save him from complete ruination. If the track of Kabir’s father, concerned about the family reputation, is very good, so is the track of Kabir’s very understanding elder brother. There are some highlight sequences: Kabir’s grandmother explaining things to Kabir and Preeti; Kabir coming to blows with brother Karan; Kabir meeting his dad when his (Kabir’s) grandmother passes away; Shiva following Kabir everywhere he goes, just so that he can control Kabir and his anger; the last scene when Kabir, Karan and their dad are all dressed in similar kurtas, and their wives are all in pink sarees. The obsessiveness of Kabir is, of course, the film’s mainstay. Kabir’s reaction when he is being interrogated for professional lapses is very heartwarming.

Although the second half is tension-ridden and more serious, it never gets irritating. Yes, there are a few repetitive or boring parts but the plus points in the post-interval portion are so many and so outstanding that those repetitive and boring parts pale into insignificance in comparison. Overall, the screenplay also boasts of some very bold scenes which may shock the more orthodox audience but will be loved by the youth. The climax is very interesting and will have the weak-hearted weeping.

Dialogues, written by Siddharth-Garima, are excellent. They are also very bold and beautiful. Kudos to the CBFC for passing swear words in abundance.

Shahid Kapoor is outstanding in the title role. He has performed so brilliantly that he would be a strong contender for the best actor awards this year. He looks very good and lives the character of Kabir Singh. His biggest achievement is that he has played the character without any inhibitions, whatsoever. Kiara Advani looks extremely beautiful and acts very well. She lends a lot of grace to her character by her mature performance. Suresh Oberoi shines as Kabir Singh’s father. Arjan Bajwa (in special appearance) deserves a lot of praise for adding the perfect amount of restraint to the character of Karan. Soham Majumdar is simply splendid in the role of Kabir’s best friend, Shiva. He wins the audience over completely. Nikita Dutta lends good support in a special appearance in the role of Jia. Kamini Kaushal leaves a wonderful mark as Kabir’s grandmother. Adil Hussain has his moments in a special appearance as the medical college dean. Anurag Arora leaves a fine mark as Preeti’s father. Kunal Thakur stands his own as Kabir’s friend, Kamal. Vinay Sharma is lovely as Kalyan Sir. He gives a heartfelt performance. Dolly Mattu (as Kabir’s mother), Suparna Marwah (as Preeti’s mother), Swati Seth and Anusha Sampath (both as Kabir’s college friends), Geetika (as Preeti’s roommate) and Parakh Madan (as Preeti’s sister) provide very good support. Harsh Singh (as the lawyer of Kabir Singh) and Ankush Deshmukh (as film star Jia’s manager) lend lovely support. Vanita Kharat excels as Kabir’s maid. Amit Sharma (as Amit from the rival team of football players), Aanchal Chauhan (as Karan’s wife), Mitansh Lulla (as Preeti’s brother), Urvashi Panchal (as nurse Durga), Siya Mahajan (as nurse Rani), Gagandeep Singh (as Preeti’s husband), Abhay Raj Singh (as Preeti’s brother-in-law), Vipul Deshpande (as the hospital doctor) and Meneka Kurup (as the lady judge) are all effective. Others do as desired.

Sandeep Reddy Vanga’s direction is extraordinary. The narration of such a difficult story is not easy, and Vanga could’ve gone overboard. But he is in great command in the film. He has extracted superb work from out of his actors. He has also made the film an enjoyable wholesome entertainer. Musically, all the songs are well-tuned. The ‘Bekhayali’ song (composed by Sachet-Parampara) is a hit number, beautifully written by Irshad Kamil. The other songs (music by Mithoon, Amaal Malik, Vishal Mishra, Sachet-Parampara and Akhil Sachdeva) are all melodious. Lyrics (Irshad Kamil, Manoj Muntashir, Mithoon and Kumaar) are weighty. Harshvardhan Ram­eshwar’s background music is impactful. Santhana Krishnan Ravichand­ran’s cinematography (associate cinematogrpahy by Prince Anderson) is just too lovely. Afzal Usman Khan’s action and stunt scenes are very realistic and thrilling. Mansi Dhruv Mehta’s production designing and Pradip Jadhav’s art direction are of a fine standard. Aarif Sheikh’s editing (Mohammad Zayeemuddin is the associate editor) is suitably sharp.

On the whole, Kabir Singh is a surefire hit. The script is supremely powerful, the performances are splendid, and the narration is terrific. This one will definitely join the Rs. 100-crore club and it has very bright chances of crossing the Rs. 175-crore mark and, maybe, even joining the Rs. 200-crore club.

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BHARAT

Salman Khan Films, Reel Life Production Pvt. Ltd. and T-Series’ Bharat (UA) is the story of a family separated at the time of the India-Pakistan partition.

 

Gautam Kumar (Jackie Shroff) works as a station master in Lahore. It is 1947 and communal riots have broken out. Hindus from Lahore are all headed to Bharat (India) just as Muslims from Bharat are fleeing to Pakistan. Gautam Kumar, wife Janki Devi (Sonali Kulkarni) and their four little children, like thousands of others, are trying to escape from Lahore to India. Bharat (Kabir Sajid), who is barely 9-10 years old, is the oldest of the four children of Gautam Kumar.

 

There is just one train on Lahore station but thousands and thousands of people waiting to escape. While Gautam and Janki Devi are running with the two youngest kids in their arms, Bharat is running with Gudiya, his younger sister. But somehow, Gudiya is lost in the sea of humanity on the railway platform. Gautam Kumar climbs down from atop the train to search for Gudiya. While climbing down, Gautam takes a vow from Bharat that he would take care of the family and keep them all together in case he (Gautam Kumar) and Gudiya were to miss the train. The two, in fact, miss the train. Bharat and the rest of the family are devastated on being separated.

 

Bharat, his mother and his two kid-siblings reach the home of Gautam Kumar’s sister (Ayesha Raza Mishra) and brother-in-law (Kumud Mishra). Years pass by. Bharat (Salman Khan) is now a young man and he has a childhood bosom pal in Vilayati Khan (Sunil Grover), whom he had met when he had reached India. To make both ends meet, Bharat takes up a job in a circus where he does death-defying stunts. He meets Radha (Disha Patani) there. Radha loves Bharat and he also reciprocates. But before long, Bharat quits the circuit.

 

The employment situation in the country is bad. Bharat and Vilayati somehow manage to convince supervisor Kumud (Katrina Kaif) to send them to the UAE to work in oil fields. Kumud herself accompanies the Indian workers to the UAE and, before long, she falls in love with Bharat. On his part, Bharat also loves her and is, in fact, in awe of her. But he turns down her proposal for marriage as he fears, the promise he had made to his dad would be broken if, after marriage, he’d start ignoring his family.

 

Back in India, Bharat and Kumud start living in together (with the blessings of Bharat’s mother) because Bharat is convinced that the marriage would somehow go against his endeavour to fulfill the promise he had made to his father many years ago. After all these years, Bharat is still hopeful that he would find his father and younger sister.

 

Soon, Bharat and Vilayati take up jobs on a ship to earn a lot of money as Bharat wants to solemnise sister Mehek’s (Kashmira Irani) marriage with a lawyer (Aasif Sheikh). While they are away on the ship, Kumud leaves her new job of a news reader on TV and helps Bharat’s family look after the family shop.

 

Soon, Kumud gets a job in Zee TV. Before long, India and a Pakistani television channel decide to run simultaneous programmes in their respective countries to assist people trace their family members or relatives who may have gotten separated during the horrifying Partition days. Kumud prevails upon Bharat to participate in the programme, like many others.

 

Does Bharat find his father? Does the family reunite after so many years?

 

The film is based on Korean film Ode To My Father. The Indianised version of the story is written by Ali Abbas Zafar. The story is inherently emotional as it is about a family separated during Partition. But the problem is with the screenplay, penned jointly by Ali Abbas Zafar and Varun V. Sharma. The screenplay is very weak.

 

For one, in their quest to make an entertaining fare rather than just an emotional journey of an ordinary man, the two writers have laced the drama with humour and comedy, both of which greatly dilute the emotional core of the story. What the two writers should have done was to include a separate humour or comedy track rather than weaving the humour and comedy around Bharat and his near and dear ones. With Bharat and his close ones doing comedy or having so much fun, the emotional turmoil of the family is relegated to the sidelines. In other words, the core becomes an aside – and that’s not right.

 

Secondly, although Bharat keeps talking about his promise to his dad, he is not shown to be the family’s emotional anchor. He may have promised his father that he would keep the family together as a unit but what that presupposes is that he would be their emotional anchor. But what the viewers see him is being the family’s financial support system. After the terrible tragedy in the family during Partition, the audience is more keen to see Bharat rise to the occasion as an emotional anchor of the family. Unfortunately, there are as good as no scenes of emotions between Bharat on the one hand and his other family members on the other.

 

Further, the screenplay shows Bharat romancing Radha first and Kumud later, singing songs, dancing, fooling, etc. No doubt, a man who has had a tragedy in the family many years ago will lead a normal life but if the screenplay concentrates on only his romances, songs, dances, comedy etc., the audience will not feel his pain of so many years ago. As for the sacrifice of not marrying Kumud despite loving her, the audiences wonder why after all he isn’t marrying her. His marriage in no way goes against what he had promised his father. Bharat’s remark to Kumud that he was scared that if he married her, he’d be breaking the vow he had made to his father looks too convenient and cooked-up. What’s even worse is that instead of sitting down and forcing Bharat to marry the girl he loves (Kumud), his mother tells both of them that they should do what they feel is right. Although that can never be the intention of the writers, it almost makes Bharat’s mother look selfish and self-centred. If Bharat thinks, his marriage would be taking him away from fulfilling his vow, at least the mother could correct him about his baseless presumption. In fact, Bharat should have hastened to marry a girl like Kumud as she would be a fantastic emotional support for the family. And when Bharat and Kumud opt for a live-in relationship (way back in or around 1970), the viewers wonder what, after all, is the sacrifice which Bharat is making.

 

Frankly, even if Bharat hadn’t given his word to his father in 1947, that he would keep the family united, wouldn’t it have been his responsibility to look after the family as he was the eldest child in the family? So then, what’s all this drama of being true to his word?

 

This is not to say that there are no plus points in the screenplay. Of course, there are. The entire sequence of India-Pakistan television programmes is heart-wrenching and will make women and even several men sob in their seats. But that comes so late that the audience yearns for emotional and melodramatic moments and episodes before that. Some light moments are also entertaining.

 

The first half looks scattered and so, the overall impact is not what it should’ve been. What was needed was more original light moments and also more heartwarming and heart-wrenching moments. The first about 25-30 minutes of the post-interval portion are extremely boring, dull, dry and dreary. The portions on the ship (except when Bharat and the others dance to Amitabh Bachchan songs) are the weakest in the drama and can – and should –be advantageously deleted. Emotions are abundant in the India-Pakistan sequence but in the rest of the film, their shortage is sorely felt.

 

Dialogues, written by Ali Abbas Zafar and Varun V. Sharma, are good but the need was of punch-packed, clapworthy and emotions-laden dialogues.

 

Salman Khan acts very well. He is the best as the old man and his humour in that phase of his life is very endearing. His emotional scenes are terrific. Salman’s honesty and integrity on his face help the character of Bharat a great deal. But here, it must be added that Salman’s die-hard fans will not feel elated to see him in this film. Katrina Kaif does an outstanding job. She has worked hard on her accent and her voice modulation (in her old age) and the results are fantastic. Her performance is effortless and with this film, she proves that there is lots more to her than just pretty looks. To say that Katrina has looked mindblowingly beautiful would not be an exaggeration. Her curly hair, sarees with sleeveless blouses, bindi on her forehead – they all make her look bewitching. Sunil Grover does a fine job as Vilayati Khan. He is very natural but it must be added that the film doesn’t present him in the way his innumerable small-screen fans would have wanted to see him on the big screen. Disha Patani looks hot and dances beautifully. Acting-wise, she gets limited scope as Radha. Jackie Shroff makes his mark in a brief role as Gautam Kumar. Sonali Kulkarni lends fine support as Bharat‘s mother. Shashank Arora (as Bharat’s younger brother), Kashmira Irani (as Bharat’s sister) and Ayesha Raza Mishra (as Bharat’s paternal aunt) are adequate. Aasif Sheikh (as Bharat’s brother-in-law) has his moments and he makes good use of them. Satish Kaushik acts very well but his comic track doesn’t really add much because it is too frivolous. Brijendra Kala makes his presence felt. Kumud Mishra gets very limited scope as Bharat‘s uncle. He does well. Tabu springs a surprise and adds star value. Her acting is very natural. Nora Fatehi exudes sex appeal but her track seems irrelevant and can safely be deleted. Rajiv Gupta stands his own as Gulati. Meiyang Chang is good as Jimmy. Kabir Sajid is lovely as the school-going Bharat. Aaryan Prajapati shines as little Vilayati Khan. Matin Rey Tangu is cute as little Jimmy. Others do as required.

 

Ali Abbas Zafar’s direction is very good. Some of his directorial touches (like the one in which Janki Devi realises in a couple of seconds that the man on the Pakistani TV channel is not her husband even as Bharat is still hopeful that he could be his father who he is searching for) are brilliant. However, in his quest to make an all-round entertainer, he has, to a large extent, lost sight of the film’s emotional core, forgetting that sometimes, heartwarming and heart-wrenching emotions can provide the greatest entertainment. Frankly, his very choice of the film (Ode To My Father) and the adaptation are flawed. Music (Vishal-Shekhar) is good but the absence of superhit or even hit songs is badly felt. ‘Slow motion’, ‘Aithe aa’, ‘Chashni’, ‘Turpiya’ and ‘Zinda hoon main’ are well-tuned. Lyrics (Irshad Kamil) are good. Song picturisations (Vaibhavi Merchant and Adil Shaikh) are veritably eye-filling. Julius Packiam’s background music is nice but not remarkable. Marcin Laskawiec’s cinematography is excellent. Action and stunt scenes (Seayoung Oh, Parvez Shaikh and Dave Judge) are thrilling. Production designing by Acropolis (Rajnish Hedao, Snigdha Basu and Sumit Basu) is lovely. Rameshwar S. Bhagat’s editing could have been crisper.

 

On the whole, Bharat is below-average in merits but it will do above-average business because of the Eid advantage and the Salman Khan factor. At the box office, it will not at all be able to become a landmark film like some of Salman Khan’s and Ali Abbas Zafar’s earlier films. In other words, its business at the ticket windows will fall greatly short of the high expectations. Taking into account its recoveries from satellite, digital and audio rights, its overall business will, of course, exceed its high cost, making it a paying proposal in pure commercial terms. But that’s just not enough when it’s a Salman Khan film. His fans need to feel elated but in this case, his fans will feel terribly let down.

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PM NARENDRA MODI

Anand Pandit Motion Pictures and Legend Global Studios’ PM Narendra Modi is a biopic on prime minister Narendra Modi.

The film starts from Narendra Modi’s childhood when he used to sell tea with his father, and his love for the country even then. It then traces his entry into active politics, his rise as a dependable party worker for the general public, and then his election as the chief minister of Gujarat after crossing a number of hurdles.

During his chief ministership, Narendra Modi had to deal with the Godhra carnage to investigate which a Special Investigation Team was constituted. Even while the SIT verdict was awaited, Modi’s popularity reached such heights that he was tipped to be a prime ministerial candidate in the 2014 general elections. But even that was beset with problems. A businessman (Prashant Narayanan), whom Modi had gone after, due to his illegal activities in Gujarat, was particularly anti-Modi. A television reporter (Darshan Kumar) also left no stone unturned to malign Modi but to no avail.

The story is the real-life story of Narendra Modi and borrows incidents from his life. The screenplay is written by Anirudh Chawla and Vivek Anand Oberoi. The drama in the first half is quite boring as it moves at a leisurely pace and appears too stretched. This half is devoted to his childhood, youth, his entry into politics and his growth as leader of the masses. Although it has some patriotic moments, the patriotic flavour does not manifest itself fully. The second half is better and also more fast-paced and more dramatic. It also has more scenes which inspire patriotism. The scene in which a group of Muslims attend the Hindu puja kept by Narendra Modi after the communal riots in Akshardham, and where the Hindus and Muslims hold each other’s hands to show solidarity is the best scene in the film. Narendra Modi’s television interview is also a well-written scene. The climax seems hurried and although it gives a sense of high to the viewers, it also leaves them asking for more.

Dialogues, penned by Harsh Limbachiyaa, Anirudh Chawla and Vivek Anand Oberoi, are excellent at a number of places. Some of them are even clapworthy.

Vivek Oberoi acts well, especially in the post-interval portion. Of course, his performance is not of the kind which makes him appear exactly like Narendra Modi and that’s a minus point because he plays the character. Suresh Oberoi performs well in the role of the baba who guides young Narendra Modi in selecting his future path. Rajendra Gupta is good as Narendra Modi’s father. Zarina Wahab leaves a lovely mark as Narendra Modi’s mother. Darshan Kumar is effective as the anti-Modi TV journalist. Prashant Narayanan is natural as the businessman. Manoj Joshi deserves special mention for playing Amit Shah. His appearance and gait etc. resemble those of the real-life politician. Boman Irani shines in a brief role as Ratan Tata. Yatin Karyekar, Anjan Shrivastava, Kishori Shahane Vij, Sheila Gore and Sanjay Goradia lend lovely support. Others are adequate.

Omung Kumar B.’s direction is fair. He seems to be lost in the pre-interval portion but gets a grip in the second half. His handling of several scenes could’ve been much better. Music (Shashi & Khushi, Hitesh Modak) is so-so. Lyrics (Javed Akhtar, Prasoon Joshi, Sameer, Abhendra Kumar Upadhyay, Sardaraa, Parry and Luvraj) are not easy on the lips. Hitesh Modak’s background music is quite good. Sunita Radia’s cinematography is of a fine standard. Manohar Verma’s action and stunt scenes are quite thrilling. Vinod Kumar’s production designing, and Mohd. Arif Shaikh and Sharad Narayan Rathod’s art direction are appropriate. Sanjay Sankla’s editing could have been crisper.

On the whole, PM Narendra Modi is an average fare with a fairly nice second half but a poor first half. Having said that, it must be added that the film is too propagandist in nature to really do magic at the box-office. Narendra Modi’s victory in the 2019 elections will help the film’s performance at the turnstiles to an extent.

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INDIA’S MOST WANTED

Fox Star Studios and Raapchik Films’ India’s Most Wanted (UA) is a thriller.

Prabhat (Arjun Kapoor), who works for the Intelligence Bureau (IB), and his group of like-minded colleagues – Manish (Pravin Singh Sisodia), Bittu (Aasif Khan), Javed (Devendra Mishra) and Pillai (Prasanth Philip Alexander) – pool in their own money and go to Nepal to nab a dreaded terrorist, Yusuf (Sudev Nair), who has been responsible for several serial bomb blasts in India. The IB is unwilling to fund the operation because there’s no concrete evidence that Yusuf is in Nepal. In fact, the IB, RAW and other intelligence agencies are convinced, Yusuf and the other terrorists are in Pakistan or Dubai. Prabhat’s immediate superior, Rajesh Singh (Rajesh Sharma), is the only one who has cent per cent faith in Prabhat’s capabilities because of his track record. Although Rajesh Singh can’t give Prabhat formal permission to go to Nepal because the IB has declined permission, he, nevertheless, gives him an informal go-ahead.

Prabhat and his four friends join forces with four more cops – Ravi (Bajrang Bali Singh), Amit (Gaurav Mishra), Dheeraj (Sandeep Dhabale) and Santosh (Ashish Khare). The nine-member team reaches Nepal and the members put up in three different hotels so as to not attract attention towards themselves. An informer (Gurpreet Bhullar) gives them vital information about Yusuf, which helps the team to lay a trap to nab Yusuf. Just as Prabhat feels, they are very close to capturing Yusuf, he sends a request to his superior for manpower. This is also because the ISI from Pakistan has got to know about Prabhat and his team being in Nepal and it is hot on the trail of Prabhat and his team mates. Does Prabhat get help from the IB easily? Is he able to successfully nab Yusuf?

Raj Kumar Gupta has based the film on a real-life story of a group of IB officers who risked their lives to capture a dreaded terrorist. The story is interesting but the way it has been written is simply terrible. The story of the film does not make it half as exciting as it should’ve been. The biggest blunder is that after calling the film India’s Most Wanted, the story writer has given terrorist Yusuf (who is, in the film, India’s most wanted) barely five minutes of screen time!! Nothing could be more idiotic than this. With the antagonist being, therefore, merely referred to in dialogues, the hatred towards him and fear of him are not created in the minds of the audiences. What the viewers get to see on screen are mere sounds of explosion followed by dead bodies and damaged properties to indicate that Yusuf was behind the serial bomb blasts. And those are also stock shots. Similarly, Prabhat and his men seemingly do absolutely nothing while they are in Nepal except tracking down people, keeping a watch, taking information from an informer and generally preparing for another day of doing nothing. Probably because there’s nothing in the story for Prabhat and his team to do, the writer tries to show them serious about their job by making them walk and talk at above-average speed. What’s even more idiotic is how the ISI people seem to be more worried about catching Prabhat and his men than saving their own person, Yusuf, from being arrested.

Raj Kumar Gupta’s screenplay is equally stupid and seems to have been written without application of mind. Firstly, the pace of the drama is not at all what the pace of a thriller should be. The drama seems to move at a leisurely pace because nothing at all happens except in the last few minutes. So much importance has been given to the waiting-for-the-right-moment environment that the screenplay bores the viewers at many places. Moments of heroism are absolutely missing. Even though Prabhat and his team mates stay in three different hotels to avoid being noticed, Prabhat and his colleagues often plan their moves in the hotel’s corridor instead of their room/s. Why would any IB sleuth be so foolish? Again, the way several of the nine members walk on the streets or talk on the cell phone or generally stand strategically to keep tabs on someone or something, even a blind man would suspect that they aren’t ordinary humans but are on some mission or the other. Further, although there’s precious little which the nine-member team is doing constructively, Prabhat, at one point, gives them a two-line brief and asks his team mates if they had any questions! Questions? After a two-line brief? The viewers soon understand, there’s not much concrete work being done but only an impression being created about work happening. Another example of how shallow the script is, is this: Prabhat’s team member, Pillai, hears Yusuf’s voice and concludes that he is from South India. So what?!? How does it ever help Prabhat and his men to know that Yusuf hailed fromSouth India? Again, there’s a scene in which Prabhat comes into the hotel, panting for breath. It is revealed by him to his friends that he was being followed by two or three persons. So?!? Would an IB sleuth get so flustered on being followed – that too, by tiny young men? Prabhat keeps reminding his men that they were doing what they were doing for the love of their coun­try. If they are working for the IB, where is the need to drill this into their heads? Don’t they know that whatever they have to do in the call of duty is for the country. There’s also a point in the screenplay when Yusuf’s men want to track down the two cars in which the nine-member team has arrived in Nepal. Just to create that aura of urgency and importance, the instructions are given to a lady who, in turn, instructs her boys to do the job very urgently. And what happens thereafter? The boys move on the streets in groups of four and five to track two cars (!!!!). Did they think that they needed to be prepared in the eventuality that the cars attacked them? For God’s sake, they are cars which they are tracking, not human beings, so where was the need to move in groups of three and four, especially considering that the job was urgent. Looking to the urgency of the job, common sense should have prompted them to move individually rather than in groups because all they needed to do was to track the two cars. Such blunders in the screenplay rob the thriller of the thrill element. Even the climax is tame and shows zero heroism on the part of Prabhat and his team members.

The film completely lacks in emotions. Why, even the patriotic flavour is so weak that it fails to swell one’s chest with pride. Comedy is dull. Romance, of course, is completely missing. In other words, the ingredients of a commercial entertainer are either missing or not pronounced enough.

Arjun Kapoor does not impress as Prabhat. He has one fixed expression plastered on his face throughout the drama. He seems to be ill at ease while enacting the role. This is also because there is actually nothing in the drama for him to do. Rajesh Sharma is earnest but there’s only that much he can do, given the script. Sudev Nair hardly gets scope to make his presence felt although he plays the title role of Yusuf, India’s most wanted, in the film. Gurpreet Bhullar is irritating as the informer. Pravin Singh Sisodia (as Manish), Aasif Khan (as Bittu), Devendra Mishra (as Javed) and Prasanth Phil­ip Alexander (as Pillai) hardly get scope to perform. Bajrang Bali Singh (as Ravi Raj), Gaurav Mishra (as Amit), Sandeep Dhabale (as Dheeraj) and Ashish Khare (as Santosh) also get very limited scopes. Ankita Dubey (as Javed’s wife), Divya Unny (as Pillai’s wife), Mona Ray (as Manish’s wife), Shivani Singh (as Rajesh Singh’s wife), Sangeeta Raman (as Bittu’s mother) and baby Anjali Sharma (as Manish’s daughter) are okay in bit roles. Rajendra Gupta (as Sudhir Yadav), Santilal Mukherjee (as Shaumik Biswas), Jitendra Shastri (as friend), Resh Lamba (as Haddi), Deepankar Shar­ma (as Sudhir Yadav’s assistant), Amit Jerath (as senior ISI officer in Pakistan), Gurpreet Singh (as ISI man 2), Namit (as ISI Major General in Pakistan), Pankaj Raina (as ISI Senior General in Pakistan), Sanjay Bhatia (as home minister) and the rest lend routine support.

Raj Kumar Gupta’s direction is terribly weak. He has neither written a good script nor has he been able to make a thrilling film which can keep the viewers engaged or entertained. Amit Trivedi’s music and Amitabh Bhattacharya’s lyrics are functional. Amit Trivedi’s background score is fairly nice. Dudley’s camerawork is very good. Parvez Shaikh’s action and stunts are well-choreographed. Produc- tion designing (by Rita Ghosh) and art direction (by Madhumita Sen and Rajesh Choudhary) are quite nice. Bodhaditya Banerjee’s editing should’ve been crisper.

On the whole, India’s Most Wanted is a very badly scripted and poorly made film with weak performances. It will face complete rejection at the box-office – and deservedly so.

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DE DE PYAAR DE

T-Series and Luv Films’ De De Pyaar De (UA) is a romcom.

Ashish (Ajay Devgan) lives in London. He has separated from his wife since 18 years. His wife, Manju (Tabu), and two children, Ishika (Inayat) and Ishaan (Bhavin Bhanushali), live in India with Ashish’s parents (Alok Nath and Madhumalti Kapoor). Quite by chance, Ashish meets Aisha (Rakul Preet Singh) in London. While Ashish is a rich businessman, aged 50, Aisha is a fun-loving and easy-going person half his age.

Soon, Ashish and Aisha start enjoying each other’s company. Friendship turns into lust but, of course, both aren’t serious. Ashish’s psychiatrist-friend, Sameer (Jaaved Jafferi), warns him that the relationship is doomed because both are simply enamoured of what they don’t have – the old Ashish is taken in by her youthfulness while Aisha seems to be a gold-digger, impressed by Ashish’s wealth. However, it is not long before Ashish and Aisha fall in love with one another. Ashish is a very honest man and he admits to Aisha that he has not been a good husband or a good father.

Soon, Ashish and Aisha decide to get married. But Ashish suggests, the two of them visit his family in India so that they all know one another. En route to his home in India, Ashish assures Aisha that he would tell his family that the two of them had met, fallen in love and were now due to get married.

But the situation takes such a dramatic and tension-ridden turn as soon as Ashish and Aisha reach his home that he doesn’t dare to speak the truth. Ashish introduces Aisha to his parents, wife and two children as his secretary rather than his beloved. This, obviously, doesn’t go down well with Aisha. On Ashish’s insistence, Aisha stays back with the family despite feeling let down by Ashish. It’s not long before a couple of family members realise that Aisha is not Ashish’s secretary but is rather in a relationship with Ashish.

Here, Ashish’s daughter, Ishika, is in a relationship with Rishi (Rajveer Singh). Rishi and his father (Kumud Mishra) are due to come to finalise the wedding proposal with Ishika’s parents.

The wedding is finalised. But before the engagement ceremony can be solemnised, the wedding is called off by Rishi’s father because of an ugly incident. Ishika holds her father responsible for the break-up.

Meanwhile, an insecure Aisha decides to walk out on Ashish as she sees Ashish and Manju’s growing interaction. She leaves Ashish’s home and returns to London.

Is Manju happy with Aisha’s exit? Or is she not happy? Does she know about Ashish and Aisha’s romance? What happens to Ishika after the break-up?

Luv Ranjan has written a very complex story about not just love but also about relationships. One can’t help but admire the man’s genius for treading such a slippery path as the story deals with complex relationships and extremely sensitive issues. Till he treats it comically, it is sheer fun, but there comes a stage when the story takes a serious turn and becomes a family drama threatening to go ugly. The story from that point becomes even more difficult but kudos to him for coming out with flying colours in the end. Yes, the last twist may not go down well with a section of the audience but the drama right upto that point is so engaging and, for the major part, so entertaining that till then, the audience has had more than its fill of masti. Here, it must be added that the story is of the kind which would appeal more to the city and multiplex audiences than the viewers of single-screen cinemas in small centres.

The screenplay, penned by Tarun Jain, Luv Ranjan and Surabhi Bhatnagar, is exceptional. At places, the jokes are adult in nature but they’ve been aesthetically written. The film takes a while to really take off but once it does after a couple of not-so-entertaining scenes, there’s no looking back. The screenplay in the entire first half, after the initial hiccups, is replete with humour that’s fresh and extremely enjoyable. The comedy keeps the audience in splits and there are a number of scenes which bring the house down with laughter. Akash’s (Sunny Singh) entire sequence with Ashish is one such outstanding sequence. Similarly, the scenes between Ashish and Sameer, and between Ashish and Aisha are cute and very funny. The comedy continues after interval too as the scene shifts to India, in Ashish’s house. Situations become more and more complex but the writers handle them with utmost confidence and conviction. Even after interval, there are a lot many hilarious scenes – all scenes involving Manju, Ashish and Aisha together; all scenes of Ashish’s parents with the rest of the family; the scenes between Ashish, Manju and her tenant, V.K. (Jimmy Shergill), who seems to be unduly fond of Manju; the scenes between the family members; the scenes between Rishi’s father and Ashish/ Manju/entire family; the scenes between Ashish and Ishaan.

The drama takes a serious turn once Ishika’s marriage is called off. The sensitivity with which the writers handle the drama from then on is also praiseworthy. Although comedy takes a back seat from this point, the family drama and the emotions emanating therefrom are equally engaging. In this portion, the womenfolk will go bonkers over Manju’s actions and philosophy. In a couple of scenes, the viewers’ hearts dance with joy after listening to Manju’s logic and philosophy. Even as the audiences are wondering what will come out of the Ashish-Manju-Aisha mess, the writers spring a surprise in a different direction – a surprise which could moisten the eyes of the weak-hearted. The final twist in the tale is a risky one and while the youth and young-at-heart viewers will approve of the same, there would be a section which may not quite like the twist. But even that section will end up giving the drama a thumbs up if only because it is otherwise supremely entertaining and also because the twist is logically right even if it may not appeal to their traditional thinking. It must also be added here that the number of such people who would raise eyebrows at the last twist in the tale would reduce with each passing day.

The drama has comic punches galore, as mentioned above. It also has a lot of family drama. Manju’s character brings stability to the proceedings and her outburst after Ishita’s break-up with Rishi is clapworthy. Highly sentimental is Manju’s breakdown in front of Ashish in her bedroom. Her confrontation scenes with Aisha are so wonderful that you admire the philosophy in her comments.

Dialogues, penned by Tarun Jain and Luv Ranjan, are absolute gems. They are funny and crisp in comic scenes but profound and impactful in intense and dramatic ones.

Before talking about the artistes, a word here about the performances in general. Every actor is perfectly cast (casting director Vicky Sidana) and gives a landmark account of himself/herself.

Ajay Devgan looks handsome and has done a job that’s nothing short of EXTRAORDINARY. Not in a single shot does he go overboard. He is outstanding in comedy, superb in dramatic and emotional scenes, and wonderful in intense ones. In short, his performance is supremely mature. His demeanour in front of his wife, parents and children, all of whom he has wronged, is a lesson in acting. The lustul look in his eyes when Aisha is ready to sleep with him is again a lesson in understated acting. This is easily one of Ajay’s greatest performances ever, because his subtlety is the catchword here. Tabu is terrific. Her character and performance are the mainstay of the film as far as families and ladies are concerned. Her acting has a great deal of depth and she is never eager to dominate the scene, yet she impresses so wonderfully with her performance. Rakul Preet Singh is fresh and bubbly and endears herself completely to the audience with a lovely performance. She stands her own in front of seasoned actors – and that’s saying a lot. Alok Nath is simply superb. His one-liners are too good. Madhumalti Kapoor makes her presence beautifully felt. Inayat is terrific as Ishika. Her acting is effortless. Bhavin Bhanushali provides such lovely entertainment that one can’t but fall in love with him. Kumud Mishra, in the role of Rishi’s father, yet again proves that he is an actor par excellence. Whether it is his facial expressions or muttering dialogues under his breath or simply his normal scenes, he acts so brilliantly that it’s sheer delight to watch him on the screen. Rajveer Singh is good as Rishi. In a special appearance, Jaaved Jaaferi is just too natural and truly entertaining. Jimmy Shergill, in a special appearance, shines in the role of V.K. His acting is too good to be true. Sunny Singh is unbelievably splendid in a special appearance as Akash. He brings the house down with laughter in the single sequence he has. Others lend decent support.

Akiv Ali’s direction is lovely. It is difficult to believe that this is his maiden film as director. Not only has he narrated the complex drama very effectively but he has also extracted great work out of his actors. The man surely knows his craft – and knows it well! Music (Amaal Malik, Rochak Kohli, Tanishk Bagchi, Garry Sandhu, Vipin Patwa, Manj Musik and Atul Sharma) is appealing but no song is hit. The ‘Vaddi sharaban’ song is for the youngsters. ‘Dil royi jaaye’ has melody. The other songs are also tuneful. Lyrics (Kumaar, Kunaal Verma, Garry Sandhu, Mellow D and Shamsher Sandhu) are very nice. Song picturisations (by Bosco-Caesar) are eye-filling. Hitesh Sonik’s background music complements the drama brilliantly. Sudhir K. Chaudhary’s cinematography is of a high standard. Shashank Tere’s production designing is good. Editing (by Akiv Ali and Chetan M. Solanki) is superbly sharp.

On the whole, De De Pyaar De will get abundant love from the audience and will prove to be a box-office winner. It may meet with a mixed response in the initial couple of days but it will finally be remembered as a wholesome entertainer praised for its difficult subject, praiseworthy scripting, mature handling and mind-blowing acting. It shouldn’t be a surprise if the film’s remaking rights for different languages are in demand soon.

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STUDENT OF THE YEAR 2

Fox Star Studios and Dharma Productions’ Student Of The Year 2 (UA) is the sequel of Student Of The Year. It is yet another campus film – this time about one boy and two girls who fall in love with him. The first part was about one girl and two boys.

Rohan (Tiger Shroff) studies in Pishorilal School but is very keen to get admission into Saint Teresa school because that’s where his girlfriend, Mia alias Mridula (Tara Sutaria), studies. The school is very posh and only the rich can afford it. Rohan isn’t rich but he gets lucky when he gets admission due to scholarship.

In Saint Teresa school, Rohan realises that Mia has changed but he is too madly in love with her to notice that she is crazy about rich people and is, therefore, angling for a rich boy, Manav (Aditya Seal), in the school. On the first day in the new school, Rohan meets Shreya (Ananya Pandey) who is arrogant to the core because her father (Chetan Pandit) is the school’s trustee. Soon, Rohan learns that Shreya and Manav are siblings. Manav has invariably been the student of the year at Saint Teresa. But Rohan is now tough competition for Manav. As for Shreya, she taunts Rohan at the slightest opportunity.

Mia wants to win the college dance competition – and Rohan makes it his mission to ensure that his lady love’s dream is fulfilled. Even as Rohan and Mia are all set to win, a blunder in the final stage of the dance costs Mia the trophy. She is devastated and so is Rohan. The winners are Manav and sister Shreya. Mia seems to be unforgiving towards Rohan.

As if losing the dance competition was not bad enough, Rohan faces another terrible setback. And yet another setback when he is rusticated from college. Not just that, Manav humiliates Rohan and beats him up mercilessly on his last day at Saint Teresa.

Rohan joins Pishorimal school once again. He soon realises that it’s important to have an aim in life. He starts life afresh in his old school. Soon, Shreya approaches him to be her partner in a dance competition. He’s sceptical in the beginning but relents soon.

Even as Rohan and Shreya interact, Shreya starts to fall in love with him. But soon, Mia re-enters Rohan’s life. Rohan is now torn between Mia and Shreya. Or is he?

Days pass. It’s now time for the inter-school Dignity Cup competition in which Rohan will be pitted against Manav.

Will Rohan avenge his humiliation at Manav’s hands, in the Dignity Cup competition? What was the first setback Rohan had faced in Saint Teresa? Why was he rusticated from school? Does Rohan get Mia back? Or does he reciprocate Shreya’s love? Why does Shreya have a change of heart towards Rohan?

Arshad Syed’s story, with additional story by Paulomi Dutta, is not very substantive. There are a couple of really good twists and turns but overall, the drama doesn’t engage the viewers too much because it often seems frivolous and even inconsequential in the overall scheme of things. Characterisations are not very clearly etched out. As a result, the audience often gets confused about whether Manav is a good human being or evil. Mia’s money-mindedness is crystal clear to the audience but when Rohan can’t see through her, it seems strange.

Arshad Syed’s screenplay is good in parts only. He has simply not bothered to establish important things like why Mia returns to Rohan, or why Shreya’s dad is so against sending her abroad for further studies and why he has such a quick change of mind and heart. Again, Shreya’s change of heart is also unexplained. Nothing has changed vis-à-vis her relationship with anybody to warrant a change in her attitude. All in all, Arshad Syed’s screenplay is a classic case of lazy writing – leaving so many things unsaid, expecting the audience to form their own opinions.

The first half is a bit slow and although it is interesting, it seems to be set in a template – and that’s the biggest minus point. The pace picks up after interval but again, the drama never really touches the heart so deeply that it would move the audience. Frankly, the aim of Rohan in life is not clear even after he decides to set an aim in life. Is it to excel in sports? Or to excel in dance? Or to win Mia over again? Or to help Shreya in life? Or to avenge his humiliation by Manav?

Of course, the screenplay has its plus points too. The best part of the screenplay is that there are some truly cute and fun moments and there are some good twists and turns. Having said that, it must be added that the drama is more for the big cities and multiplex audiences and less for audiences of single-screen cinemas and small centres.

Dialogues (by Arshad Syed) are so-so.

Tiger Shroff excels in action scenes, stunts and dances. His agility is delightful and it is indeed a pleasure to see him dance and do action. His acting is reasonably good. Tara Sutaria makes a fair debut as Mia. She looks good and her acting is quite nice. Ananya Pandey is good in her debut role. She looks pretty (but her make-up is below the mark in some scenes) and has a good flair for acting. Aditya Seal does well but he can’t match up to Tiger Shroff. Samir Soni tries to be funny but succeeds only sometimes. Manoj Pahwa is alright as the sports coach of Pishorimal School. Ayesha Raza hardly gets scope as the school principal. Chetan Pandit is average as the father of Shreya and Manav. Rajesh Kumar and Mansi Joshi Roy are alright in their limited roles. Gul Panag makes her presence felt in a role that’s not very consequential. Abhishek Bajaj is good as Abhishek Sharma. Harsh Beniwal has his moments as Puggi. Daljeet Singh leaves a mark as Abdullah Wahab. Manjot Singh and Sahil Anand are alright as the commentators. But their commentary seems to have been shot separately rather than during the sports. Alia Bhatt has been wasted in the song-dance in the end rolling titles. For, although she adds tremendous star value, the song is not hit enough to match her star status. Hollywood star Will Smith adds star value in a tiny appearance. Farah Khan, Vishal Dadlani and Shekhar Ravjiani are good as the judges for the dance competition. Others lend average support. A word here about the supporting cast – some of the actors are not upto the mark and, in the few cases where they are, their scope is very limited.

Punit Malhotra’s direction is okay. He has not been able to make an exciting youthful film. Vishal-Shekhar’s music is a big letdown. Despite it being a young, romantic film, not a single song is a chartbuster. Frankly, each song in the film should’ve been a hit or super-hit. The ‘Yeh jawaani hai deewani’ remixed song is the best number. Lyrics (Anvita Dutt, Kumaar, Vayu) are okay. Song picturisations (by Remo D’Souza, Adil Shaikh and Farah Khan) are excellent. Salim-Sulaiman’s background music is impactful. Ravi K. Chandran’s cinematography is marvellous. Sham Kaushal’s action and stunt choreography is fabulous. Sumayya Shaikh’s production designing is of a superb standard. Ritesh Soni’s editing is quite sharp.

On the whole, Student Of The Year 2 is not a worthy sequel to SOTY. Yet, it will do fair business at the box-office due to great action, some interesting twists in the plot, and lovely dances. Because of fantastic recoveries from sale of satellite, digital and music rights, its overall report card will be positive.

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KALANK

Fox Star Studios Pvt. Ltd., Dharma Productions and Nadiadwala Grandson Entertainment Pvt. Ltd.’s Kalank (UA) is a period drama set in India in 1946 just prior to the Btitishers leaving India. It is a love story set against the backdrop of the escalating Hindu-Muslim tension in Lahore.

Roop (Alia Bhatt) marries an already married man, Dev Chaudhry (Aditya Roy Kapur), under strange circumstances. Dev is married to Satya (Sonakshi Sinha) who, in fact, welcomes Roop. But Dev tells Roop that since he loves his first wife, she (Roop) should not expect any love in their relationship although she would get all the respect. Dev is the editor of a newspaper which supports industrialisation. He is also in favour of an undivided India. Dev has been living with his wife and father, Balraj Chaudhry (Sanjay Dutt), whom he doesn’t respect at all because the latter had ill-treated his (Dev’s) mother. Roop now lives in the same palatial home in Husnabad in Lahore, with Balraj, Dev and Satya.

In the ill-reputed Heera Mandi of Lahore, which is the abode of tawaifs, lives Zafar (Varun Dhawan) who is an ironsmith. He hates Balraj Chaudhry with a vengeance and can do anything to destroy him. Zafar’s bosom pal is Abdul (Kunal Kemmu). Both, Zafar and Abdul, are against the ideology of industrialisation propagated by Dev Chaudhry in his popular newspaper because they fear that industrialisation would render ironsmiths like them jobless.

In Heera Mandi also lives Bahar Begum (Madhuri Dixit), an erstwhile tawaif who now teaches music to students. Roop is enamoured of her voice and decides to learn music, about which she has always been passionate, from Bahar Begum. The Chaudhry family is shocked to know that Roop wants to visit Heera Mandi and learn music from Bahar Begum. Although they are not at all happy with her decision, Roop stands her ground and starts to learn music in Heera Mandi under Bahar Begum.

In Heera Mandi, she meets Zafar who already has a girlfriend (Kiara Advani) and who sleeps around with willing girls, without batting an eyelid. Before long, Zafar and Roop have fallen in love with one another. Or have they?

The tension among the Muslims is increasing by the day. Balraj Chaudhry sees red and decides that the family should leave Husnabad as otherwise, the agitated Muslims would not spare them. Since Roop is madly in love with Zafar, she makes an ex­cuse which makes it impossible for the Chaudhrys to leave Husnabad.

And then, the unexpected happens. Balraj and Dev Chaudhry get to know about Roop’s clandestine affair with Zafar. Balraj Chaudhry rushes to Bahar Begum for help. Bahar Begum rushes to Roop to caution her. The tension in the lives of the Chaudhrys is escalating to unimaginable levels both, on the personal as well as professional front. In Roop’s life, there’s a veritable storm which threatens to destroy several people.

What happens thereafter? Why does Balraj Chaudhry go to Bahar Begum for help? What help does he seek from her? Why does Zafar hate Balraj Chaudhry? Why does Bahar Begum rush to Roop? What is it that she wants to caution Roop about? What is Roop’s stance? And what does Zafar want? Do Roop and Dev live happily ever after? Or does Roop accept Zafar as her partner?

Shibani Bathija’s story is interesting and layered but it holds more appeal for the ladies and classes than the menfolk and masses. There are many elements in the story which look very dated and will, therefore, not go down well with the youth. Besides, it depends too much on coincidences, something the youngsters will not approve of, more so in serious dramas like this. The circumstances under which Roop marries Dev, the back stories of Bahar Begum, Zafar and Balraj Chaudhry – are of the kind which used to be seen in films of the 1970s and 1980s but are not very modern thoughts and, therefore,  they will not go down too well with the youngsters.

Abhishek Varman’s screenplay is long-winding and looks very laboured rather than free-flowing. The first half, especially, is extremely slow and often gets boring. Also, several of the things look forced rather than believable. For example, how and why does Roop fall in love with Zafar? But the pre-interval portion does have some very nice moments. Roop going to her own husband’s office for the first time and asking for him is an instance in point. That scene is simply splendid.

The second half is more fast-paced and also more engaging. The scenes between Bahar Begum and Zafar, between Zafar and Dev, between Bahar Begum and Balraj Chaudhry, between Roop and Dev, between Zafar and Balraj Chaudhry, between Roop and Bahar Begum are all interesting and entertaining. The last about 30 minutes of the drama are very good and keep the audience completely engrossed.

If one were to talk of the ingredients of a masala entertainer, the film completely lacks in comedy or humour of any kind. In fact, the film is devoid of light moments. The entire drama is tension-ridden and even dark. Emotions are few and while the womenfolk may find tears rolling down their cheeks at a couple of places, men may not cry at all.

Hussain Dalal’s dialogues are too verbose and written in flowery language which will be mocked at by the youth of today. A few dialogues are very good.

Varun Dhawan lives the role of Zafar. He looks and plays the frustrated character with a lot of conviction. He is fantastic in the last part. Alia Bhatt delivers yet another memorable performance. Her acting is so outstanding that it wouldn’t be wrong to say, she shines in every scene of hers. She looks a pristine beauty and her costumes and jewellery will become a point of discussion among girls and ladies. But just one point here: why does she dress up more like a Muslim than a Hindu? Madhuri Dixit has done quite well, but she stands out only in dramatic scenes. She has not looked fresh, and her make-up deserves to be condemned. Her dance in the ‘Tabaah’ song is absolutely mind-blowing. Aditya Roy Kapur lends a lot of grace to his performance. He makes a fine impact on the audience. Sonakshi Sinha makes her mark in a brief role as Satya. Sanjay Dutt is just about so-so in the role of Balraj Chaudhry. Kunal Kemmu makes his presence beautifully felt in a special appearance as Abdul. Hiten Tejwani has his moments as Ahmed. Achint Kaur is alright. Kriti Sanon looks fetching and dances beautifully in a song-dance number (‘Aira gaira’). Kiara Advani is okay in a tiny role. Deepak Qazir, Vikram Kapadia and the rest provide decent support.

Abhishek Varman’s direction is fairly good but it also has some glaring shortcomings. He ought to have made a far crisper film. Secondly, he should have made the drama look more believable. In the present form, the scenes don’t create the desired impact. Pritam Chakraborty’s music is hit. The title song is extraordinary. The ‘First class’ number is also very appealing. ‘Tabaah’ and ‘Ghar more pardesia’ are good songs. ‘Aira gaira’ is mass-appealing. Amitabh Bhattacharya’s lyrics are very nice. Song picturisations (by Remo D’Souza, Bosco-Caesar and Saroj Khan) are terrific. The picturisation of the ‘Tabaah’ song (by Saroj Khan and Remo D’Souza) is truly mesmerising. Background music (by Sanchit Balhara and Ankit Balhara) is lovely. Binod Pradhan’s cinematography deserves distinction marks. He has shot the film so beautifully that it looks like a painting. Sham Kaushal’s action scenes and stunts are of a fine order. Amrita Mahal Nakai’s production designing is grand. The sets are not just ostentatious, they are also tasteful. Shweta Venkat Mathew’s editing is quite sharp.

On the whole, Kalank will be liked by women and classes but not by the menfolk and masses. The youth will mostly reject the drama. Considering the huge cast and cost, it will do just about ordinary business at the box-office, thanks in no small measure to lack of Hindi film opposition for the next two weeks. In commercial terms, around 50% of its total investment of Rs. 150 crore has been recovered from sale of satellite, digital and music rights, and recovering of the balance 50% from India and Overseas theatrical revenues may not be a problem. But just reaching the break-even point in a grand and big-budgeted film like this is surely not enough. Put differently, one doesn’t make such a costly film to just get the investment back or earn a mere 2-5% return on investment.

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