ALL IS WELL

T-Series Films’ All Is Well is a family drama. Inder Bhalla (Abhishek Bachchan) has had a traumatic childhood because of the constant fights between his parents (Rishi Kapoor and Supriya Pathak). His father wants to continue running his bakery but his mother wants it shut down because it fetches no profit. Inder grows up hating his father and since he is interested in music, he doesn’t want to join his father’s business.

One day, an argument between Inder and his father leads to the father asking Inder to get out of the house. Inder goes to Bangkok and several years later, he is still struggling to make his mark as a singer and music director. He has fallen in love with Nimmi (Asin) who is keen to marry him. Blame it on the bad marriage of his parents, Inder does not believe in the institution of marriage and so is prepared to sacrifice his love. Nimmi’s parents have fixed her marriage with Mohit (Harry Tangri). But Nimmi loves Inder so much that she is still trying to get him to marry her. Nimmi believes in fate and is convinced that destiny has been giving them enough indications that Inder and she are made for each other.

One day, Inder is called to India by one Cheema (Mohammed Zeeshan Ayub) on the pretext of signing the papers of his father’s bakery which is up for sale. He travels to India on the same flight as Nimmi who is visiting India for her marriage with Mohit. On arriving in India, Inder realises that Cheema is forcing his father to transfer the bakery in his name as he (father) had borrowed a lot of money from him and is now unable to repay the loan. But Inder’s father will not sign the bakery papers despite Cheema threatening to kill him.

Once in India, Inder learns that his mother, suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, is now staying in an ashram. Of course, he brings her home forthwith. As time passes by, he also learns that his father and mother had been divorced. Inder’s father also tells him that his mother had kept the gold jewellery with her brother, Kirpal (Mukund Bhatt), for safety. If they can get the jewellery back from him, the same can be used to clear Cheema’s loan, and the bakery then would not have to be transferred. But Inder’s maternal uncle, Kirpal, dies before returning his sister’s jewellery to the Bhallas. The cunning widowed maternal aunt (Seema Pahwa) is in the mood to usurp the Bhallas’ jewellery.

Anyway, Inder and his parents are on the run from Cheema who is baying for their blood. Saddled with them is Nimmi who considers this also as a sign that she and Inder are destined to unite in matrimony. Fate also brings Inder and his parents to Nimmi’s house and Inder even ends up dancing at Nimmi’s sangeet ceremony. Inder and his parents escape from Nimmi’s house when Cheema reaches there in search of them. Cheema’s men also take Nimmi alongwith them as they decide to chase Inder once again.

By quirk of fate, Nimmi once again unites with Inder and his family after some time. She is unable to reach home even as the time for her wed­ding is approaching and her to-be husband, Mohit, has reached for the marriage.

What happens thereafter? Does Nimmi make it to her own wedding? Does she marry Mohit? Or does fate intervene and bring Inder and Nimmi together as life partners? Do the Bhallas get back their jewellery? Do Inder and his father start seeing eye to eye? Do they see each other’s view point? Does the condition of Inder’s mother improve? Do the Bhallas have to transfer the bakery in Cheema’s name?

Umesh Shukla has penned a story which is very implausible. If the entire film was designed as a comedy, the implausibility factor may not have been the problem it turns out to be because alongside the comedy, the film is also a family drama where the emotions are real. Umesh Shukla and screenplay writers Sumit Arora and Niren Bhatt have not been able to keep the comedy track different from the track of the family drama. Consequently, the audience simply fails to feel the pain of the characters in the Bhalla family. In a similar fashion, Nimmi’s romantic track is written so superficially that her keenness to marry Inder loses the seriousness associated with it. The audiences are not able to decide whether they should be laughing at Nimmi’s desperation or sympathising with her.

The screenplay seems to have been written with a view to offering the viewers everything under the sun. As a result, much of the drama looks too contrived. The angle of Inder’s mother suffering from Alzheimer’s disease; the tension between Inder’s father and mother; the tension between Inder and his father; the lack of commitment to Nimmi by Inder – all of these tracks completely fail to have the desired effect on the audience because there’s no build-up of these tracks, they just pop up when required to further the drama. The bladder problem of Inder’s father is another such irritating track which creates no comedy. Likewise, there is no comedy in the scenes of Nimmi’s family members. Just showing all the members of the extended family having the same kind of frame for their spectacles is not comedy and it definitely doesn’t evoke laughter! There is no consistency in the screenplay too. For instance, Inder is thrown out of his house by his father but, years later, the father blames Inder for having deserted him! Nimmi’s parents and huge extended family are shown to be idiots who are hardly bothered about Nimmi missing from her own wedding till almost the eleventh hour. All Nimmi’s father does is to telephone her at irregular intervals and request her to come home as if that’s the maximum the father of a missing to-be bride can do and should do.

Perhaps, the only tracks which entertain the audience are those of Cheema with his goons, and of Inder’s scheming aunt. That’s because they are pure comedy tracks with no element of seriousness or sentiments whatsoever. Otherwise, the film looks like a hotch-potch drama which fails to leave the viewer rooting for anybody in particular.

Sumit Arora and Niren Bhatt’s comic dialogues are good at places but often fall flat because the situations are so silly.

Abhishek Bachchan has limited expressions on his face to convey his feelings. He plays Inder quite superficially. Asin seems to be disinterested in her work and gives the impression of rushing through her role. Rishi Kapoor is ordinary because he has a poorly-written character. Supriya Pathak moans more than she acts and that gets irritating for the viewers. Mohammed Zeeshan Ayub is excellent as Cheema. Seema Pahwa is brilliant. Sonakshi Sinha adds star value in a special appearance in a dance number. Jameel Khan, Tiku Talsania, Harry Tangri, Mukund Bhatt (as Inder’s maternal uncle), Gurpal Singh (as Nimmi’s father), Seema Pandey (as Nimmi’s mother), Sumeet Vyas (as Ronnie), Nilesh Bhatt, Wilson Tiger, Anand Kumar and Altaf (all four as Cheema’s goons), Kenny Desai (as minister), master Siidha Daga (as young Inder) and the rest lend fair support.

Umesh Shukla’s direction, limited as it is by the script, doesn’t do much to keep the audience’s interest alive. He is unable to handle the comic and dramatic tracks effectively enough for the audience to enjoy the light moments while feeling for the characters in the dramatic ones. The pace of his narration is also slow. Music (Himesh Reshammiya, Meet Bros. Anjjan, Amaal Malik and Mithoon) is appealing. A couple of songs have melody and a couple of them are fast-paced. Lyrics (Shabbir Ahmed, Kumaar, Amitabh Verma and Mayur Puri) are good. Ahmed Khan and Remo D’Souza’s choreography is fair. Sanjoy Chowdhury’s background music is ordinary. Sameer Arya’s camerawork is nice. Kaushal Moses’ action scenes are functional. Muneesh Sappel’s production designing is fair. Sanjay Sankla’s editing leaves something to be desired.

On the whole, all is clearly not well with All Is Well. With little to offer, it will fail to make its mark at the box-office. If it still manages to control the losses of the persons associated with it, it will be due to the handsome price it has fetched for the satellite rights (pre-sold).

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BROTHERS

Fox Star Studios, Lionsgate, Dharma Productions and Endemol India’s Brothers (UA) is the story of two estranged brothers. Destiny pits the two against each other in a tournament of mixed martial arts.

David Fernandes (Akshay Kumar) and Monty Fernandes (Sidharth Malhotra) are brothers but they can’t see eye to eye. Their father, Garson Fernandes (Jackie Shroff), has just been released after serving a long jail term and, once home, he is missing his late wife, Maria (Shefali Shah). Garson lives with Monty but he also misses elder son David. It is soon revealed that David holds his father and brother responsible for the death of his mother, because of which he lives separately with his wife, Jenny (Jacqueline Fernandez), and six-year-old daughter, Maria alias Poopoo (baby Naisha Khanna).

Garson goes to apologise to David but the latter literally pushes him out of his house. Seeing David use force on their dad, Monty tries to get even with David but Garson stops the two from fighting.

David’s little daughter is suffering from a kidney ailment because of which he is always short of funds as a lot of money is needed for her treatment. The bank has refused to renew his loan and David and Jenny are nervous about how they would meet the medical expenses. Left with no other option, David, who used to be a street fighter like his father, gets back into the deadly sport of street fighting. Since street fights, which are illegal, are very dangerous, Jenny is unhappy but she also knows that they would have to supplement their family income in this way. Once David gets into street fighting, he is asked to leave his job of a Physics teacher, by the school principal (Kulbhushan Kharbanda) who is, incidentally, very fond of David. Monty Fernandes is also a street fighter and a very good one at that.

Peter Braganza (Kiran Kumar), who has been trying hard to get the government to legalise street fighting in India, finally meets with success. He announces an international tournament of mixed martial arts in India – Right To Fight (R2F) – and among the Indians selected are David and Monty.

While Garson is, of course, rooting for Monty when he is pitted against different fighters, his heart also goes out to David and he is nervous as hell each time David is in the ring. As luck would have it, the two finalists are David and Monty. While Garson had rejoiced every time David and Monty had won, he is simply not prepared for what Fate has ordained – now that his two sons would be pitted against one another in the dangerous sport.

What happens thereafter? Who wins and who loses? Why does David hold Monty and Garson responsible for his mother’s death?

The film is an official remake of Hollywood film Warrior. The original story has been written by Gavin O’Connor and Cliff Dorfman and it has a good emotional thread running throughout the drama. The emotions stem from various angles – two brothers; estranged father-son; little daughter suffering from kidney ailment. Besides, because the two main protagonists in the film are adept at mixed martial arts, the story also has a lot of action. The screenplay, penned by Gavin O’Connor, Cliff Dorfman and Anthony Tambakis, and adapted in Hindi by Ekta Pathak Malhotra, is very engaging and engrossing. Yes, the first half moves at a somewhat slow pace but the interest level of the audience doesn’t decline because there are various sub-plots and also because the drama keeps throwing up unpredictable turns and twists. The pace picks up after interval because the second half is completely devoted to the R2F tournament. The fights are not just exciting but also emotional because the writers have juxtaposed the breathtaking action with a lot of emotions. The emotional scenes may not evoke tears from the eyes except in the case of the weak-hearted but they do move the viewers. What the audience definitely misses in the post-interval portion is the track of David’s little girl and her illness. But the emotions in the intercuts during the deadly fights are very strong. Likewise, the emotions in the very last fight between David and Monty, brought out through intercuts as well as through the few dialogues they speak in the ring, are very effective. Siddharth-Garima have done a swell job of the dialogues. Special mention must be made of the dialogues spoken by the two commentators at the R2F tournament. They are very entertaining. Several emotional dialogues are also truly touching.

Akshay Kumar portrays the angst of an estranged son/brother very effectively. If he is very good in emotional and dramatic scenes, he is simply splendid in the action sequences. He looks every inch the character he plays. Sidharth Malhotra is also very good in a subdued role. He lets his eyes and body do the talking in several scenes – and to good effect. He is excellent in the MMA fights. Jacqueline Fernandez springs a surprise in a non-glamorous role and plays Jenny rather well. Jackie Shroff is absolutely outstanding in a tailor-made role. He is terrific in emotional scenes and may well bag nominations, if not awards, for best supporting actor. Shefali Shah is fantastic as Maria Fernandes. She shows that she is one of the best, in the scene in which she first meets little Monty. Baby Naisha Khanna is cute and endearing. Ashutosh Rana is a delight to watch. The scene in which he abuses David’s opponent is superb. Kiran Kumar is good in the role of Peter Braganza. Raj Zutshi and Kavi Shastri are just too lovely as the two commentators. Kulbhushan Kharbanda deserves distinction marks for his wonderful acting in the scenes showing his nervousness while watching the R2F tournament on television. Those scenes provide the audience the much-needed relief because he evokes laughter. Ashok Lokhande is natural as Monty’s coach. Master Zubin Vicky Driver is superb as David’s student, Swami. Kareena Kapoor Khan provides sex, glamour and oomph in an item song, ‘Mera naam Mary hai’. Master Arsh Gyani (as young David), master Darsheel Kumar (as young Monty), master Meghan Jadhav (as the slightly grown-up David) and master Prateik Bhanushali (as the slightly grown-up Monty) are very lovable and very good in their performances. Ramneeka Lobo acts with effortless ease as the lady in the panel discussion on television. Chandra Prakash (as announcer), Honey Sharma (as Mustafa), Abbas Haider (as Suleman), Sukanya Dhanda (as the principal’s wife) and the others lend very good support.

Karan Malhotra’s direction is wonderful. He has integrated the action and emotional scenes very beautifully and his use of intercuts is simply remarkable. Ajay-Atul’s music is not of the popular variety except for the ‘Mera naam Mary hai’ song which is mass-appealing, but the other songs also have an impact in the film. Amitabh Bhattacharya’s lyrics are weighty. Choreography of the ‘Mary’ song (by Ganesh Acharya) is lovely. Choreography of the other songs (by Chinni Prakash and Brinda) is in keeping with the film’s mood. Ajay-Atul’s background music is extraordinary. Hemant Chaturvedi’s camerawork is remarkable. Justin Yu and Eric Brown’s action sequences are of the kind never before seen on the Hindi screen. The fights are literally breathtaking. Sur­esh Selvarajan’s production designing shows an eye for detail. Akiv Ali’s editing is excellent.

On the whole, Brothers, a mixed martial arts film, may carry mixed reports but it will ultimately prove to be a paying proposal for all concerned. It will do good business in multiplexes and single-screen cinemas, and in ‘A’, ‘B’, ‘C’ and ‘D’ class centres. The national holiday tomorrow will see collections take a huge jump.

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BANGISTAN

Junglee Pictures and Excel Entertainment’s Bangistan (UA) is the story of two aspiring suicide bombers on a mission to change the world.

Hafeez (Ritesh Deshmukh) works in a call centre in Bangistan and is unhappy about the stereotyping of Muslims as terrorists. Praveen Chaturvedi (Pulkit Samrat), a devout Hindu, also lives in Bangistan. They have never met. The two reach Poland where an international religious convention is slated to take place on a massive scale. Hafeez has changed his identity and has come as a Hindu under the name of Ishwarchand Sharma. He has been trained by Muslim fundamentalists to explode a bomb at the convention and thereby ensure its failure. At the same time, Praveen has reached Poland in the guise of a Muslim, Allah Rakha, and he has come with the intention of creating mayhem with bomb blasts at the same convention.

Ishwarchand and Allah Rakha meet in Poland and become very friendly with one another. Ishwarchand has a soft corner for Allah Rakha because he (Ishwarchand) is himself a Muslim and, therefore, sympathises with Allah Rakha without knowing the truth about his identity and without letting out his own identity before Allah Rakha. Likewise, Allah Rakha, being a Hindu, is fond of Ishwarchand, taking him to be a Hindu. Allah Rakha also keeps his real identity a secret.

Then one day, each of them realises the other’s mission in Poland. Before long, their real identities get exposed in front of one another and that angers both of them so much that they end up thirsting for each other’s blood for having cheated the other. The two are arrested by the police when a bomb explosion takes place because of their fight. They are hospitalised.

The international religious convention is now underway and both, Ishwarchand and Allah Rakha, escape from the hospital to land at the venue. Meanwhile, realising that Ishwarchand may not be of much help, the religious head sends Zulfi (Aarya Babbar) to carry out the bomb explosion at the venue. But does Zulfi succeed in his mission? Do Ishwarchand and Allah Rakha help Zulfi or do they stop him?

Puneet Krishna, Sumit Purohit and Karan Anshuman have written a satire but their story is far from being funny or humorous. Their screenplay is also dull and dry and fails to evoke laughter. Why Ishwarchand fights with Allah Rakha on realising that he has been fooled by the latter is not clear – because if he has been fool­ed, he himself has also fooled Allah Rakha, that too, in exactly the same way, by concealing his real identity. Similarly, it seems strange and weird that Allah Rakha is angry with Ishwarchand for fooling him because he himself has fooled Ishwarchand in exactly the same manner as Ishwarchand has fooled him. The Muslim religious leader sends Hafeez to Poland, disguised as a Hindu, but when Hafeez/Ishwarchand has to be replaced, he sends Zulfi to the convention without any disguise, to create mayhem and destruction. It is such gaping holes in the screenplay which give the audience the impression that the writers have not worked hard on the script. Further, the whole drama looks frivolous and also purposeless although it is designed as one with a profound message. The Polish police’s inefficiency is only one instance to prove the lack of seriousness in the proceedings. Also, the making is so poor that an important convention like the international religious convention in Poland looks like the launch of a ‘C’-grade movie with only junior artistes around! The writing trio’s dialogues are funny at a very few places but routine and bland most of the times.

Ritesh Deshmukh is ordinary and doesn’t get many substantive scenes to showcase his talent. Pulkit Samrat also does an average job and, like Ritesh, he, too, hardly has any extraordinary scenes. Jacqueline Fernandez is okay in a special appearance, in an inane role. Kumud Mishra is routine as Abba and Guruji. Chandan Roy Sanyal performs quite well as Tamim but his role is silly. Aarya Babbar is more theatrical than anything else. But he does leave a mark. Tom Alter (as Imam) and Shiv Sub­ramaniam (as Shankaracharya) make their presence felt. Suhail Nayyar (as the BPO supervisor), Aakash Dabhade (as Sanichara), Megh Pant (as Haatim), Paritosh Sand (as Praveen’s father), Paromita Chatterjee (as Praveen’s mother), Andrzej Blumenfeld (as Wilfred), Sunil Vishrani (as Pandit), Kuldeep Sareen (as Mishra), Janusz Chabior (as Bobbitsky), Cezary Pazura (as Tom), Katarzyna Mos (as Cindy), Bacha Ismail (as Osama Bin Haath), Vinod Rai (as Chang­ping), Shahnawaz Pradhan (as Mirza), Tomasz Karolak (as Wilhelm), Bilguun Ariunbaatar (as Wong) and the others pass muster.

Karan Anshuman’s direction is as weak as the drab script. Although he has made a satire, he is unable to evoke laughter. His making is terribly weak. Ram Sampath’s music is not an asset although a couple of songs are alright. Puneet Krishna’s lyrics are ordinary. Rajeev Surti’s choreography is fair. Szymon Lenkowski’s cinematography is routine. Katarzyna Filimoniuk, Amit Ray and Subrata Chakraborty do a routine job of the production designing. Shweta Venkat Mathew’s editing leaves something to be desired. But frankly, it is the loose script which needs to be blamed more than the editing.

On the whole, Bangistan is a flat satirical drama which fails to entertain and will, therefore, flop at the turnstiles.

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DRISHYAM

Viacom18 Motion Pictures and Panorama Studios’ Drishyam (UA) is a thriller. Vijay Salgaonkar (Ajay Devgan) is a cable TV operator in a small town of Goa and lives with his family comprising wife Nandini (Shriya Saran) and two daughters, Anju (Ishita Dutta) and Anu (baby Mrunal Jadhav). Vijay is a school dropout and loves movies.

One day, Anju goes on a school excursion where she meets Sameer (Rishabh Chadda) who is from another school. Sameer is in the habit of taking pictures of girls on his cellphone, for which he is chided by one of the girls. After their return from the excursion, Anju is shocked when one day, Sameer shows her a video recording of herself bathing in the bathroom. Obviously, Sameer had shot the video on the sly with a view to blackmailing Anju. He asks Anju for sexual favours and warns her not to inform the police. A petrified Anju tells her mother who confronts Sameer when he comes to meet Anju behind her house in the night. Sameer is unwilling to delete the video recording despite fervent pleas by Anju’s mother. Instead, he also demands sexual favours from Anju’s mother after showing her the video clip on his phone. In a fit of fury, Anju hits Sameer on the head with an iron rod and destroys his cellphone. To the horror of Anju and her mother, they realise that Sameer has died because of the head injury. Scared to death, they bury the body in the open ground outside their villa.

On his return home from his office, Vijay is devastated when he learns of the murder. Without wasting time, he tries to get rid of the smallest of clues which would indicate that Sameer had ever come there. He takes Sameer’s car, which is parked close to his house, with a view to dispose it off. But a corrupt police officer, sub-inspector Gaitonde (Kamlesh Sawant), sees Vijay driving Sameer’s car. Gaitonde hates Vijay as the latter ridicules him for his corrupt ways. As bad luck would have it, Sameer turns out to be the son of Meera Deshmukh (Tabu), the Inspector General of Police.

Even while Meera starts investigating the case of her missing son (she is unaware that he is dead), Vijay prepares the ground to prove the innocence of his family. He trains his wife and two daughters to keep their cool if the police came investigating and asks them to not admit to the crime under any circumstances. He also readies witnesses who would tell the police that he and his family were not in town on the day of the murder. Meanwhile, sub-inspector Gaitonde, who, as mentioned above, has an axe to grind with Vijay, insists that Vijay has a hand in the case of the missing son of IGP Meera Deshmukh. Interrogations with Vijay and his family members begin and although every evidence, which they present, points to their innocence, IGP Meera Deshmukh’s reading of the situation tells her that Vijay and his family are somehow involved in the case. Sub-inspector Gaitonde only solidifies Meera’s belief. Even though Meera’s husband, Mahesh Deshmukh (Rajat Kapoor), feels sorry for Vijay and his family members for the third-degree tactics used on them, Meera is persistent.

What happens thereafter? Does Vijay crumble under the pressure and reveal the truth? Or does his wife spill the beans? Do any of his daughters give in? Or does Meera Deshmukh give up? Does Meera get to know of the MMS clip her son, Sameer, had made? Does she get to know that her son is no more?

The film is a remake of a Malayalam film of the same name and is based on a story written by Jeethu Joseph. The story is novel and interesting. Upendra Sidhaye has adapted the screenplay of the original. The first half moves at a leisurely pace and is devoted to mainly establishing the characters and the inter-personal relationships between them. The pace picks up after interval and the intriguing drama keeps the audience involved and engrossed but there are points when the pace slackens. Overall, the film seems too lengthy and it could’ve advantageously been made much shorter and crisper.

Of course, by its very nature, the drama is more cerebral because it is about Vijay’s mind games and it will, therefore, appeal more to the class audience. Again, the very nature of the drama makes it a little dry. Although it is a thriller, the exciting and nail-biting quality one associates with thrillers comes through only intermittently rather than throughout the length of the drama. This may be due to two reasons: firstly, the audience knows that Vijay, his wife and two daughters are lying after having committed a crime as heinous as murdering someone, never mind if that is by mistake, and the victim was an evil person; and secondly, the audience also feels uncomfortable that its hero (Vijay) and the super-efficient IGP (Tabu, who, incidentally, is shown to be a good cop) are working at cross-purposes. In other thrillers or, for that matter, in the majority of Hindi films, all the ‘good’ characters work in the same direction and use fair means; if at all, they work at cross-purposes, the one using unfair means does so for the good of others, rarely for his own good, but that is not the case here.

A question which keeps haunting the viewer is why the IGP and her subordinates are only after Vijay Salgaonkar and why they are not working on other theories. Despite the aforementioned shortcomings, the screenplay in the second half keeps the audience quite on the edge, especially in the scenes of interrogation of Vijay and his family members. In fact, a couple of scenes after interval elicit claps from the audience.

The viewers, however, do not experience the high expected in a thriller.

Upendra Sidhaye’s dialogues are good but could’ve been more punch-packed.

Ajay Devgan does an outstanding job of Vijay Salgaonkar. He remains true to the character of Vijay and delivers a noteworthy performance. Tabu shines in the role of IGP Meera Deshmukh. She excels as the lady in uniform and brings out the predicament of a mother also beautifully. Shriya Saran is effective as Nandini Salgaonkar. Kamlesh Sawant is extraordinary in the role of the unscrupulous sub-inspector, Gaitonde. His acting is truly praiseworthy. Ishita Dutta leaves a wonderful mark as Anju. In the role of Anu, baby Mrunal Jadhav is both, cute and convincing. Rajat Kapoor lives the role of Mahesh Deshmukh. Yogesh Soman (in the role of police inspector Vinayak Sawant), Himanshu Joshi (as Rajesh), Prathamesh Parab (as Jose), Sharad Bhutadia (as Martin uncle), Rishabh Chadda (as Sameer Deshmukh), Ajit Satbhai (as Nandini’s father), Amruta Satbhai (as Nandini’s mother), Samar Parshuram (as contractor Rane), Rakesh Yadav (as the cellphone shopkeeper), Abhay Khadapkar (as the private bus conductor), Sachin Pathak (as the lodge owner), Kishor Jayakar (as manager of Ashok Hotel), Rajesh More (as Kadamba bus conductor), Prasanna Ketkar (as Sr. PI Shrikant Prabhu), Sanjay Bhatia (as ACP Allwyn Rego), Ashok Beniwal and Arun Sakpal (both as IPS officers), Smita Inamdar (as the school principal), Tarun Shukla (as Swami Chinmayanand), Nandkishor (as the cinema projectionist) and the others lend great support.

Nishikant Kamat’s direction does justice to the script. But a faster narrative style and pace was the need of the subject as it would’ve greatly added to the audience’s excitement. Vishal Bhardwaj’s music is not of the popular variety. Although the ‘Dum’ song is fairly nice, the other songs are not at all of the kind which will come on the lips easily. Gulzar’s lyrics are of a fine standard. Sameer Phaterpekar’s background music is lovely. Avinash Arun does an excellent job of the cinematography. Sunil Rodrigues’ action scenes are very natural. Sukant Panigrahy’s production designing is effective. Aarif Sheikh’s editing is sharp.

On the whole, Drishyam is a well-made film with some exciting moments but it has appeal more for the classes. It is also too lenghty. At the box-office, it will be difficult for the film to break even despite recovery of more than 50% of the investment (Rs. 65 crore) from sale of satellite rights alone.

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BAJRANGI BHAIJAAN

Eros International, Salman Khan Films and Rockline Venkatesh’s Bajrangi Bhaijaan (UA) is a human drama which also makes a comment on the political animosity between two neighbouring countries, India and Pakistan, and what the people of the two countries desire.

Shahida (baby Harshaali Malhotra) is a cute little girl from Pakistan who can’t speak since birth. Her distraught mother (Meher Vij) brings her to a mosque in India to pray for her. While returning to Pakistan by train, Shahida gets left behind in India and by the time her mother realises this, the train has moved ahead. Shahida’s family is devastated and despite their best efforts, finds itself helpless.

In India, the mute Shahida comes across Pawan Chaturvedi (Salman Khan) and clings on to him. Pawan, a simpleton, is a devotee of Bajrangbali and is also known by the name of Bajrangi. He is honest to the core and a strict vegetarian. Since he doesn’t even know that the little girl’s name is Shahida, he calls her by the name of Munni. He keeps her with himself as the police refuse to take care of her. Bajrangi feels, Munni’s parents would come in search of her. All along, he tries to understand from Munni where she is from but meets with little success.

Soon, Bajrangi realises that she is a non-vegetarian and doesn’t like vegetarian food. Again, it becomes clear that Munni is a Muslim. Before long, Bajrangi understands that the cute little Munni is from Pakistan. He now takes it upon himself to ensure that Munni reaches her parents in Pakistan. Standing solidly behind him in his endeavour is his girlfriend, Rasika (Kareena Kapoor). Rasika’s father (Sharat Saxena), incidentally, is very particular about caste, religion etc. This means, Bajrangi and Rasika have to hide the fact about Munni’s religion and non-vegetarian diet from Rasika’s father because Bajrangi and Munni are staying in Rasika’s house.

Bajrangi is unable to secure a passport or visa for Munni to travel to Pakistan and so he tries to send her by unfair means on the suggestion of a travel agent but soon realises that the travel agent has ulterior motives. Bajrangi now decides to himself travel to Pakistan with Munni even though both of them have neither passports nor visas. They reach Pakistan with great difficulty but are soon being chased by the police there because Bajrangi is branded an Indian spy.

A Pakistani television reporter, Chand Nawab (Nawazuddin Siddiqui), also feels that Bajrangi and Munni are Indian spies but is quick to learn the truth about them. He now befriends Bajrangi and starts helping him in his mission. But the police is still hot on Bajrangi’s trail.

What happens then? Does Bajrangi meet Munni’s parents? Or does he get caught by the Pakistani police before that? Does Chand Nawab remain a true friend of Bajrangi or does he desert him when the arm of law tries to reach him?

  1. Vijayendra Prasad has written a novel story about a little Pakistani girl lost in India and how a simple, noble-hearted young Indian tries to return her to her parents in Pakistan. On the macro level, the story is also about the people of the two neighbouring countries and about politicians who keep the flame of enmity burning between the two nations. The human drama of two individuals is fantastic and the larger political and human drama of the two nations is equally dramatic and outstanding. Their juxtapositioning in the climax is mind-blowing and leaves the audience in tears.

The screenplay, penned by Kabir Khan, Parveez Shaikh and V. Vijayendra Prasad, is extraordinary. Although there are some dull moments in the first half in which the pace is also slow, the screenplay is brilliant because of the layered scripting. What is outstanding is that the screenplay tries – and very successfully at that – to include light moments in the otherwise tension-ridden drama so effortlessly that what emerges is a fantastic human drama which makes the audience laugh and cry. The pace picks up after interval and the last around 20 to 25 minutes of the film are so emotional that they’d make the audience cry, weep and sob. There are actually two climaxes in the film, one after the other, and both are so emotional that they’d repeatedly bring tears to the viewers’ eyes. The scene in which Chand Nawab shouts “Bajrangi Bhaijaan” in the climax will have the audience go wild with excitement and many among them will repeat the words in the cinema halls. If the first climax is entertaining and heart-rending for the message it conveys, the second climax will shake the audience, many of who will cry inconsolably. A very good thing about the screenplay is that every person in the film remains true to his character. For instance, if Bajrangi is shown to not lie, he doesn’t lie whatever the situtation. Another wonderful thing about the screenplay is that it blends mythology beautifully into the drama. The scenes with references to Bajrangbali and the dialogues referring to Bajrangbali will be loved by the audience. Similarly, the qawwali in the Pakistan mosque – ‘Bhar do jholi’ – will be adored by the Muslim audience.

Kabir Khan’s dialogues are very good and flow with the drama. Several of them will draw huge rounds of applause in the cinemas.

Salman Khan looks every inch the character (Bajrangi) he plays and he acts so wonderfully that he shines throughout the film. There is not a single scene in which he is out of synch with the character of Bajrangi. In other words, he doesn’t do his ‘Salmanism’ in this film even once. Of course, the audience loves his ‘Salmanisms’ but this time, they will love his performance even without the usual ‘Salmanisms’. He endears himself cent per cent to the audience. His dance in the ‘Selfie le le re’ song will be a hit with the kids. In one word, an award-winning performance by Salman Khan. Kareena Kapoor looks gorgeous and acts with aplomb. Her performance in the emotional scenes (with her eyes welled up with tears ready to roll down her cheeks) is lovely. Nawazuddin Siddiqui is outstanding as Chand Nawab. He is unbelievably funny and endearing. His acting is so natural that one actually can’t believe that someone can be so good! Another award-winning performance from the supremely talented Nawazuddin Siddiqui, this! Baby Harshaali Malhotra is extremely cute and lovable. She looks just too beautiful and innocent and wins over the audience’s hearts as soon as she comes on the scene. She delivers a noteworthy performance as the girl without a voice. Her acting in the climax will make the audience weep. This is one more award-worthy performance. Sharat Saxena is effective as Rasika’s father. Alka Badola Kaushal leaves a mark in the role of Rasika’s mother. Meher Vij makes her presence felt as Shahida’s mother. Although she has very few dialogues, she beautifully conveys the pain of a mother whose little child is lost. Rajesh Sharma has his moments as the Pakistani police officer, Hamid. Om Puri is lovely in a brief role. Mir Sarwar lends able support as Rauf. Krunal Pandit is nice as the evil travel agent. Khushaal Pawar is splendid as Chand Nawab’s cameraman. Adnan Sami is very good as the main qawwal at the mosque in Pakistan. Master Neel Tyagi is cute in the role of Deepu. Kamlesh Gill leaves a mark as the train passenger. Manoj Kumar (as the dhaba manager at Kurukshetra), Rajan Kavatra (as the police officer at Kurukshetra), Atul Srivastava (as Diwakar Chaturvedi), master Arush Shukla (as little Pawan), Najeem Khan (as the teenage Pawan), Sanjeev Jaiswal (as the shopkeeper at the bangle shop), Aneesh Kumar (as the visa oficer), Jeet Kaur (as the old lady in the brothel), Mursaleen Qureshi (as the border agent), Vijay Kumar (as the border officer), Pradeep Jangid (as the army man at the border), Manoj Bakshi (as Qureshi), Harsh A. Singh (as Shamsher Ali), Vikrant Singh (as the bus conductor in Pakistan), Sunil Chitkara (as the fat police officer in Pakistan), Habib Azmi (as Chand Nawab’s fake father-in-law), Karan Mehat (as the officer at the border in the climax) and the others lend excellent support.

Kabir Khan’s direction is outstanding. His narrative style has the audience taken in right from the word ‘go’. He adopts a racy style (never mind the few dips in the screenplay) and blends the mythological touches, the human drama and the political drama just too extraordinarily. Pritam Chakraborty’s music is very good but there is no chartbusting song. ‘Selfie le le re’ is a popular song. The ‘Bhar do jholi’ number is hair-raising. The ‘Chicken’ song is poor. The background songs, at various points in the film, are very effective. Lyrics (Kausar Munir, Mayur Puri, Neelesh Misra and Amitabh Bhattacharya) are superb. Picturisation of the ‘Selfie le le re’ song (by Remo D’Souza) is very mass-appealing. Other song picturisations (by Raju Sundaram, Ahmed Khan and Aadil Shaikh) are decent. Julius Packiam’s background music is fantastic. Aseem Mishra’s cinematography is remarkable. Production designing by Acropolis (Rajnish Hedao, Sumit Basu and Snigdha Basu) is terrific. Sham Kaushal’s action scenes will gladden the hearts of the masses and the front-benchers. Rameshwar S. Bhagat’s editing is suitably sharp.

On the whole, Bajrangi Bhaijaan is an unadulterated blockbuster. The last few reels of the drama will win the audience over so completely that the film will emerge as the biggest hit of Salman Khan’s career so far. It will score in big centres and small, in multiplexes and single-screen cinemas and will be loved by classes and masses alike and by people of all age groups. This one has all the potential to join the Rs. 300-crore club in India and thereby prove to be one of the biggest blockbusters so far.

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GUDDU RANGEELA

Fox Star Studios India Pvt. Ltd. and Mangal Murti Films Pvt. Ltd.’s Guddu Rangeela (UA) is the story of two young men, Guddu and Rangeela, who have been wronged by the local MLA and the khap panchayat. Guddu (Amit Sadh) and Rangeela (Arshad Warsi) are bosom pals who leak information about rich people to thieves who then steal money and jewellery from those identified by the duo. Gud­du and Rangeela earn by way of commission from the thieves.

One day, Guddu and Rangeela are approched by Bangali (Dibyendu Bhattacharya), a paid stooge of local MLA Billu (Ronit Roy), to kidnap Baby (Aditi Rao Hydari). Baby is the sister-in-law of MLA Billu. The duo is promised a handsome amount of money for the job, which is why they undertake it. Soon, the money they are going to get for the kidnapping is raised from some lakh rupees to several crores.

As the drama unfolds, it is revealed that Baby is out to avenge her sister’s murder at the hands of Billu. She has incriminating evidence against him, which could easily jeopardise his political career. The idea is to ask Billu to pay up not for securing the release of Baby but for hushing up the incriminating proof Baby has against him. For Rangeela, the kidnapping turns out to be a personal vendetta because Billu had shot his newly-wed wife, Babli (Shriswara), as she belonged to a different caste. Billu is the moral custodian of the village and religiously carries out and executes the orders of the khap panchayat insofar as they relate to dissuading inter-caste marriages. Rangeela had also been shot at by Billu but he had escaped. He had assumed that his wife, Babli, had been killed.

Who finally wins the cat-and-mouse game? Is Billu victorious or do Guddu and Rangeela emerge the winners? Does Billu realise that his own man, Bangali, was responsible for Baby’s kidnapping? Does Baby succeed in scaring the daylights out of Billu with the evidence she has?

Subhash Kapoor has written a story which exposes the atrocities perpetrated by khap panchayats on people going in for inter-caste marriages. His screenplay is engaing only in parts as layer after layer unfolds, but it never really arrests the viewer’s attention enough to make him wait for more with bated breath. Also, the characters of Guddu and Rangeela are not half as endearing and lovable as they ought to have been. Again, the track of Baby’s relationship with Billu has been explained in a hurry and in a half-baked manner. Once all the tracks are revealed, the film degenerates into a routine vendetta drama. Actually, there are so many tracks in the film – of Billu’s ruthlessness, of khap panchayats being against inter-caste marriages, of Guddu and Rangeela’s antics, of Rangeela’s inter-caste marriage with Babli, of Baby’s incriminating evidence against Billu, of Bangali betraying Billu, of Guddu’s romance with Baby, of Guddu, Rangeela, Baby and Babli’s revenge against Billu – that writer Subhash Kapoor does justice to none fully.

The first half moves at a leisurely pace till a little before interval when the drama becomes interesting and racy. The second half is faster but it is often predictable too. Some light moments are entertaining but they are not enough to keep the audience involved and engaged throughout. Yet another drawback is that the title, publicity materials and promotion of the film have prompted the public to assume that it is a comedy film but it actually turns out to be an action-filled vendetta film. Subhash Kapoor’s dialogues are good and inspired but not consistently so.

Arshad Warsi does justice to his role but how one wishes, his character had been more lovable. Amit Sadh is fair as Guddu but he looks too unkempt for a hero. Aditi Rao Hydari looks pretty and acts fairly well in the limited role she has. Ronit Roy breathes fire into the character of Billu, making him (Billu) believable and terrifying. Shriswara is okay as Babli. Dibyendu Bhattacharya leaves a mark in the role of Bangali. Virendra Saxena makes his presence felt. Brijendra Kala is effective. Rajeev Gupta provides laughter as Gulab Singh. Achint Kaur has her moments. Amit Sial is natural as police inspector Ajay Singh. Sandeep Goyat (as Billu’s younger brother), Amit Rastogi (as party president), Vishal O. Sharma (as Pujari), Arun Verma (as Amichand), Ashok Sharma (as Babli’s father), Manoj Bakshi, Dhirendra Gupta and Shamji (all three as khap heads), Dawood Sheikh, Vishal Dhindra, Maan Singh and Vijender Kumar (all four as Billu’s men), Tarun Kumar, Devender Choudhary, Ramesh Goel, Rakesh Bidua and master Mausam Dubey lend fair support.

Subhash Kapoor’s direction is quite nice but he doesn’t seem to be too inspired. Amit Trivedi’s music is good but not outstanding. ‘Kal raat Mata ka mujhe e-mail aaya hai’ is the best song, followed by ‘Suiyaan suiyaan’ and the title track. Irshad Kamil’s lyrics are mass-appealing. Choreography (by Howard Rosemeyer and Sada Yadav (‘Mata ka e-mail’ song only)) is fairly nice. Hitesh Sonik’s background music is alright. James Fowlds’ cinematography is appropriate. Pradyumna Kumar Swain (PK)’s action scenes are effective. Suman Roy Mahapatra’s production design and Pallavi Bagga’s art direction are very good. Arindam S. Ghatak’s editing is sharp.

On the whole, Guddu Rangeela does not offer the desired entertainment and will, therefore, remain a dull fare at the ticket windows.

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BEZUBAAN ISHQ

Gangani Motion Pictures’ Bezubaan Ishq is a musical romance. Rumjhum (Sneha Ullal) and Suhani (Mugdha Godse) are cousins. While Rumjhum lives with her parents (Sachin Khedekar and Alexandra Ashman) in London, her paternal cousin, Suhani, lives in India with her widower-father (Darshan Jariwala) and paternal grandmother (Farida Jalal). Rumjhum is a very nice girl, caring and loving. Suhani is just the opposite – loud, brash and self-centred.

Suhani demands a swanky car as her birthday gift from her rich father but as there’s a waiting period for the car’s delivery, her father is unable to fulfil his promise on her birthday. Suhani reacts so violently to this that the family has to take her to the doctor who diagnoses her with a mental disorder which has no cure. The doctor suggests, in the presence of Suhani’s close friend, Swagat (Nishant), that the family should think in terms of getting her married in the hope that marital life will probably mellow her down.

As luck would have it, Swagat’s parents (Muni Jha and Smita Jayakar), who are close family friends of Suhani’s father, are more than willing to accept the eccentric Suhani as their daughter-in-law. They are sure, Swagat, who has known Suhani for so many years, would agree to the alliance. Swagat is not very happy but he gives in.

Meanwhile, Rumjhum and her parents have come to India for Suhani and Swagat’s engagement and marriage. After the engagement, Swagat falls in love with Rumjhum while on a picnic to Rajasthan with Suhani, Rumjhum and friends. Rumjhum, too, gets fond of Swagat. All hell breaks loose when Suhani sees Rumjhum and Swagat together in a bath tub where they had landed accidentally.

What happens thereafter? Whom does Swagat finally marry? Who sacrifies his or her love?

Jashwant Gangani’s love triangle story is as old as the hills with not even a hint of novelty. The screenplay, written jointly by Jashwant Gangani and Sanjay V. Shah, is as jaded as jaded can be. Quite strangely, Swagat’s parents are shown to be oh so excited about getting their son married to a girl who is diagnosed with a mental disorder – so excited that it would appear as if their son himself had some major shortcoming. Their reason for this – of sharing problems of one another – sounds tame and rather unbelievable. Again, why Swagat himself is not able to tell his parents that he wants to marry Rumjhum and not Suhani is unclear. After all, his parents are not idiots to force him to marry a girl with a mental illness – or are they idiots?!? It is because of this weak link that nothing really creates an impact after Swagat’s parents volunteer to get their son married to Suhani. Not even Suhani’s crazy behavior and suicidal tendencies, which come to the fore after the engagement, prompt Swagat to take up the matter with his parents – and this looks so weird that the audience is unable to sympathise with Swagat. The owner of Love Nest, where Swagat, Suhani, Rumjhum and their friends stay in Rajasthan, advising Swagat at the end of their trip, also appears unwarranted. All in all, the screenplay is not only dated, it is also confused and one of complete convenience. Sanjay V. Shah’s dialogues, like the rest of the script, belong to an era gone by.

Mugdha Godse does a fairly good job. Sneha Ullal is expressionless at many times. She looks alright in the initial reels but a bit stocky in the latter part of the film. Nishant has performed quite well. Of the supporting cast, it is only Farida Jalal who stands out with her expressions and acting. Darshan Jariwala, Sachin Khedekar, Smita Jayakar and Muni Jha have roles which are not very significant, and their performances are alright. Alexandra Ashman and Soniya Mehta pass muster. Others lend very ordinary support.

Jashwant Gangani’s direction is not bad but does appear dated like the drama. Music (Babli Haque and Rupesh Verma) is good. ‘Teri masumiyat’ (Babli Haque) is very well-tuned and the title track (Babli Haque) and ‘Teri meri ankahi dastaan’ (Rupesh Verma) are fairly nice. Lyrics (Jashwant Gangani; ‘Har lamha kar party’ song lyrics by Prashant Ingole) are nice. Choreography (Rajeev Surti, Longines Fernandes, Ricky and Pappu Khanna) is functional. Raju Singh’s background music is ordinary. S. Kumar Bhagat’s camerawork is average. Kaushal-Moses’ action and stunts are too ordinary to deserve special mention. Paresh Y. Manjrekar’s editing is not bad.

On the whole, Bezubaan Ishq will be a mute spectator to its rejection at the box-office due to lack of merits.

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