LOVE SONIA

Tamasha Talkies, Samraaj Talkies, India Take One Productions, Cinemantra Entertainment & Media, Dynasty Consulting Group and Prime Focus Group’s Love Sonia (A) is a film about human trafficking.

It is the story of a girl, Sonia (Mrunal Thakur), who sets out in search of her elder sister, Preeti (Riya Sisodiya), who has been sold by their poverty-stricken father (Adil Hussain) to pimps for prostitution. Unfortunately, Sonia also ends up in the red light area of Bombay. The film exposes the horrendous business of human trafficking spread throughout the world, through the heart-wrenching tale of Sonia.

Tabrez Noorani has penned a very stark and disturbing tale of a non-adult girl literally pushed into the flesh trade and tormented and tortured by pimps, dealers and customers. Since the story shows reality, it is so depressing that it often becomes difficult to see the drama unfold on the screen. The screenplay, penned by Ted Caplan and Alkesh Vaja, is full of disturbing anecdotes which serve to not just shake the audiences but also push them into further depression. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that there are scenes in which the majority of the viewers would cringe because they are so stark and raw. Yes, the festival circuit audience may admire the honesty of the drama but the general viewers would often feel repulsed by the same. Ritesh Shah’s dialogues are, again, stark and real, as they ought to be in a film of this kind.

Mrunal Thakur gives an excellent account of herself as Sonia. Her performance is lovely. Manoj Bajpayee is wonderful as the brothel keeper and he makes his character detestable. Richa Chadha leaves a wonderful mark. Adil Hussain plays the helpless father of Sonia and Preeti very effectively. Anupam Kher makes his presence felt. Riya Sisodiya acts very naturally as Preeti. Sai Tamhankar lends able support. Rajkumar Rao adds star value in a special appearance and acts with aplomb. Freida Pinto lives the role of the frustrated prostitute. Mark Duplass, Demi Moore, Abhishek Bharate, Ankur Vikal, Sunny Pawar, Kiran Khoje, Barbie Rajput, Aarti Mann, Abhinav Gupta and Nikhil Raj lend decent support.

Tabrez Noorani’s direction is superb. He narrates a heart-wrenching tale of a girl forced into the flesh trade, so starkly that it actually shakes the viewers. Niels Bye Nielsen’s background music is impactful. The ‘I am more’ song, penned and composed by A.R. Rahman, is okay. Lucas Bielan’s cinematography is lovely. Production designing (by Ravi Srivastava) is excellent. Martin Singer’s editing is crisp.

On the whole, Love Sonia is a very well-researched, well-written and well-made film with excellent performances. But it is a depressing fare, at the end of the day. Hence, despite noble intentions, it will not find favour with the audience.

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MITRON

Abundantia Entertainment’s Mitron (UA) is the story of a loser.

Jay (Jackky Bhagnani) is not good at studies and, frankly, not good at anything else in particular. His father (Neeraj Sood) constantly taunts him, and Jay himself starts believing that he is a loser. It’s his hidden desire to be a chef and so, he learns cooking from an expert chef. His father doesn’t approve of this at all and would rather that he worked in a call centre.

Jay meets Avni (Kritika Kamra) quite by chance. The two strike up a friendship which then graduates into a business partnership in a mobile restaurant or, in other words, a food truck. Even before the business venture can start, Jay’s marriage is in the process of being finalised with Richa (Perlene Bhersaina), daughter of a super-rich businessman (Mohan Kapur). In the course of their joint business venture which, incidentally, becomes extremely successful, Avni starts to fall in love with Jay. She is heartbroken when she learns that Jay is going ahead with his marriage plans with Richa. Avni now decides to go to Australia, something she had always wanted to do but had given up when she decided to do business with Jay.

What happens thereafter? Do Jay and Avni go their separate ways? Or don’t they?

The film is a remake of Telugu super-hit Pelli Chupulu, written by Tarun Bhasker. It has been adapted in Hindi by writer Sharib Hashmi. The story is interesting and is laced with so much humour that it keeps the audience entertained. The adapted screenplay is fast-paced, especially in the first half. The fun quotient is very strong and there are at least ten scenes when the viewers would laugh out loud. However, the pace drops after interval, and the element of humour also reduces. The climax, however, is both, interesting and heartwarming. The good part is that there isn’t just one comedy track; several characters behave in such a way that their actions or dialogues evoke laughter. For instance, Jay’s demeanour of a good-for-nothing young man itself elicits laughter. His two friends, Raunak (Pratik Gandhi) and Deepu (Shivam Parikh), also provide lovely comic moments. Jay’s father, of course, evokes a lot of laughter. Richa’s father (Mohan Kapur) also entertains with his poker-faced comedy. Dialogues are absolutely fantastic and greatly add to the mirth and merriment. The Gujarati backdrop and Gujarati flavour of the dialogues add freshness.

Jackky Bhagnani plays Jay with conviction and earnestness. He performs ably and makes his character look believable. Kritika Kamra makes an impressive big-screen debut in the role of Avni. She also looks pretty. Neeraj Sood is outstanding as Jay’s father. Pratik Gandhi (as Jay’s friend, Raunak) and Shivam Parikh (as Jay’s friend, Deepu) lend fantastic support. Sunil Sinha makes his presence felt as Avni’s father. Mohan Kapur is lovely as Richa’s dad. In the role of Richa, Perlene Bhersaina is so-so. Bhumika Dubey has her moments as Avni’s friend, Sharvanti. Prateik Babbar leaves a fine mark as Vikram. Chhaya Vora (as Jay’s mother), Mayaben (as Jay’s grandmother), Kumkum Das (as Avni’s mother), Brinda Nayak (as Avni’s aunt), Rishi Panchal (as Purab), Pannaben (as Avni’s grandmother) and the others lend very good support.

Nitin Kakkar’s direction is truly nice. He has extracted very good work from out of his actors and he has also adopted a fresh and fun style of narration. Music (Yo Yo Honey Singh, Tanishk Bagchi, Vayu, Sameeruddin, Lijo George-DJ Chetas, and Sharib-Toshi Sabri) is very good. The ‘This party is over now’ (Honey Singh) and ‘Kama­riya’ (Lijo George-DJ Chetas) songs are already hits; they both come after the film is over, in the end rolling titles. The other songs are fair. Lyrics (Yo Yo Honey Singh, Hommie Dilliwala, Tanishk Bagchi, Vayu, Kumaar, Sameeruddin, Akshay Verma, Abhishek Nailwal and Kalim Shaikh) are in synch with the film’s fun mood. Song picturisations (‘Kamariya’ by Mudassar Khan; ‘This party is over now’ by Feroz Khan) are appealing. Sameeruddin’s background music is effective. Manoj Kumar Khatoi’s camerawork is quite good. Production designing (by Urvi Ashar Kakkar and Shipra Rawal) is nice. Sachindra Vats’ editing is pretty sharp.

On the whole, Mitron is a good comic entertainer but lack of awareness about the film’s release will greatly restrict the film’s box-office potential. It may have started slow but the good dose of comedy, and two hit songs coupled with word of mouth, will see collections grow in the weekend but that may not be good enough.

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MANMARZIYAAN

Eros International and Colour Yellow Productions’ Manmarziyaan (UA) is a love triangle set in modern times.

Rumi (Taapsee Pannu) lives in Amritsar with her grandfather (Arun Bali), paternal uncle (Akshay Arora), aunt (Vishavpreet Kaur), cousin, Kiran (Ashnoor Kaur), and others. Her parents are no more. Rumi is a firebrand girl and she is madly in love with Vicky (Vicky Kaushal) who reciprocates her love. In fact, the favourite pastime of both is to get physical with one another. However, Vicky is commitment-phobic and develops cold feet whenever Rumi talks of marriage. Under family pressure to get married, Rumi asks Vicky to get his father to her home with a marriage proposal but when that doesn’t happen, she gives him an ultimatum, threatening to marry any other match finalised by her family.

The unthinkable actually happens when Rumi agrees to marry Robbie (Abhishek Bachchan) who has come from abroad for marriage. Robbie is the complete opposite of Rumi as he is calm and composed, but he still takes a great liking for her. Despite being aware of a boyfriend in her life, Robbie is keen to marry Rumi. The two get married but that’s when the problems start.

What happens thereafter? Does Rumi live happily ever after with Rob­bie or with Vicky or with none of them?

Kanika Dhillon has written a very bold and contemporary love story which the youth will instantly identify with. The older generation may not subscribe to the love stories of Rumi. However, a segment of the older generation would realise that, perhaps, this is the face of love nowadays. The story reminds of Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam. Kanika Dhillon’s screenplay is very smooth and keeps the audience hooked on to the drama completely. Yes, the drama does seem to be stretched at some places but that doesn’t really take away from her engaging screenplay. The truly exceptional quality of her screenplay is that when Robbie is on the scene, the audience’s heart goes out to him, and when Vicky is on the scene, the view­ers tend to sympathise with him. Rumi, torn between the two men, also makes a comfortable place for herself in the hearts of the audiences. Kanika Dhillon has laced the inherently serious love drama with so much humour that while the seriousness is not lost, the fun quotient keeps the viewers smiling and even laughing, ensuring that boredom never creeps in. Another plus point is that the audience is unable to guess what’s in store for it because the guessing game is not easy. The climax, picturised with no background music, is not just unique in presentation but also quite impactful as far as its content goes. The womenfolk and the weak-hearted may find it difficult to control their tears in the climax. Kanika Dhillon’s dialogues are outstanding. The ‘Pyar’ and ‘Fyar’ distinction will not be understood by everyone but the youngsters will love the naughtiness in the dialogues using the two words.

Abhishek Bachchan delivers a sterling performance as the very understanding Robbie. He endears himself completely to the audience with his fine acting as the perfect gentleman. He conveys a lot through his expressions. It wouldn’t be incorrect to say that he is superb. Taapsee Pannu is truly terrific as Rumi. She adds so much spunk to the character that it’s a delight to watch her. It’s also great to see her character’s transformation so beautifully portrayed by her. Taapsee, with her sincere performance, never lets her character become sleazy – and that’s a major achievement! Vicky Kaushal is very natural and endearing. He gives his cent per cent to the role of Vicky and comes out a winner. Whether expressing love or lust or his insecurities or regrets, Vicky Kaushal does it all with the flourish of a seasoned actor. It is indeed an experience to watch this actor do justice to his roles in film after film! Vikram Kochhar (as house help Dilip) entertains beautifully, evoking a lot of laughter. Ashnoor Kaur makes her presence felt as Kiran. Arun Bali (as Rumi’s grandfather), Vishavpreet Kaur (as Rumi’s aunt), Saurabh Sachdeva (as Kakaji), Akshay Arora (as Rumi’s uncle), Neelu Kohli (as Robbie’s mother), Swairaj Sandhu (as Robbie’s dad), Rupinderjit Singh (as Babloo), Sukhmani Sadana (as Lovely Singh), Gaurav Amlani (as Raja), Poonam Shah and Priyan­ka Shah (as the twins), Sukhpal Singh (as Vicky’s father), Mala Saha (as Vicky’s mother), Amanpreet Kaur (as Sarabjit), Rajinder Singh (as lawyer Bhalla), Jasmin Bajwa (as Keerat), Navdeep Singh (as the engineer boy), Gurjit Kaur (as the engineer boy’s mother), and the others lend very good support.

Anurag Kashyap’s direction is excellent. He has remained true to the story and script and has enhanced them with his narrative style. His gimmick of showing the twins (Poonam Shah and Priyanka Shah) randomly is lovely and is bound to be interpreted as a profound directorial touch by the thinking audience. Amit Trivedi’s music is excellent. Although there are too many songs and all have a predominantly Punjabi flavour, making it difficult sometimes to understand which song is which, the music creates a superb impact in the film. The songs often serve to take the drama forward and, therefore, become an integral part of the narrative. Shellee’s lyrics are weighty and meaningful. Song picturisations (by Bosco-Caesar, Navadevi-Navalakshmi, Priyanka-Poonam Shah, and Sahej Singh-Urban Singh Crew) are good. Amit Trivedi’s background music is very inspired. Sylvester Fonseca’s cinematography is excellent. Sunil Rodrigues’ action and stunt scenes go well with the film’s mood. Meghna Gandhi’s production designing is lovely. Aarti Bajaj’s editing is sharp.

On the whole, Manmarziyaan is an all-out entertainer with hit music and lovely performances. It will score very well at the box-office. Ladies and family audiences, besides youth, will patronise the film.

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GALI GULEIYAN

Exstant Motion Pictures’ Gali Guleiyan (UA) is the story of a loner who loves to spy into people’s homes and who gets easily troubled by wrong actions of people.

Khuddoos (Manoj Bajpayee) lives in an apology of a home and runs an electronics repair workshop. He loves spying and has installed hidden cameras in people’s homes to find out whether anything is amiss anywhere. He hears strange sounds of a boy being beaten up by his father in the neighbouring house but, strangely, the hidden camera does not capture any such act.

He often tries to strike up a conversation with young Idris (Om Singh) who, he thinks, is being beaten up, but Idris doesn’t pay attention to Khuddoos’ moves. Idris lives with his parents, Liyaqat (Neeraj Kabi) and Saira (Shahana Goswami). Idris has a little brother, and his mother is expecting another child.

The newborn is still-born and a distraught Idris blames dad Liyaqat for the demise as he feels that Liyaqat had been ignoring mother Saira for his mistress, Noor (Shruti Sharma).

Does Khuddoos finally confront Idris? Is Idris actually beaten up by Liyaqat?

Dipesh Jain has penned a story which would appeal to a very thin section of the audience, the kind which frequents film festivals. His screenplay is boring and repetitive and it moves at an excruciatingly slow pace. The drama is so depressing that it is incapable of entertaining the viewers in any way. The only surprise comes in the climax although it is not totally unexpected. Dipesh Jain’s dialogues are okay.

Manoj Bajpayee plays Khuddoos with understanding. Ranvir Shorey is good as Khuddoos’ close friend, Ganeshi. Neeraj Kabi lives the role of Liyaqat. Shahana Goswami gives an understated performance in the role of Saira. Om Singh does a fair job as Idris. Ashwath Bhatt (as Shaukat), Shruti Sharma (as Noor), Arbaaz Khan (as Ginny), Rajesh Joshi (as Daresi), Robin Das (as the doctor), Durga Sharma Shrivastava (as Farida), Siddharth Bhardwaj (as Shibbi), Titu Chouhan (as Shankar), baby Palak (as little Shaukat), Rajesh Gupta (as the restaurant owner) and the others do as required.

Dipesh Jain’s direction is of the kind which would appeal only to the festival circuit audience. Dana Niu’s background music is ordinary. Kai Miendendorp’s cinematography is nice. Sujata Sharma Virk’s production designing is realistic. Editing (by Chris Witt) is okay but the very pace of the drama is painfully slow.

On the whole, Gali Guleiyan will face rejection at the box-office as it holds appeal only for the festival circuit audience.

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HALKAA

Shiv Nadar Productions, Akshay Parija Productions and Eleeanora Images’ Halkaa is a story about the problem of open defecation.

Pichku (master Tathastu) lives with his parents (Ranvir Shorey and Paoli Dam) in a chawl. The little boy is ashamed of relieving himself in the open and, in the absence of a toilet at home or in the neighbourhood, prefers to defecate inside his home. This doesn’t sit well with his father.

One day, government officials come to the basti in which Pichku lives, to disburse money for building community toilets. The plan is to distribute money among only those people who would use the money for their personal gains rather than to make toilets, after, of course, bribing the officials. Pich­ku’s own father is one such unscrupulous man who is eyeing the government money for his gains.

However, Pichku and his friend, Gopi (master Aryan Preet), decide to do the impossible – build a toilet. They accomplish their mission very quietly without telling anyone in the basti. Of course, they seek outside help.

Suddenly one day, there’s a raid on people who’ve taken government funds but not utilised the same for constructing a toilet. Pichku’s father is the first to be interrogated and faces arrest as he has not used the money to build a toilet.

What happens thereafter?

Nila Madhab Panda and Nitin Dixit have penned a story which is well-meaning but which has very limited appeal because it moves on a single track, that too, which is not very interesting. Nitin Dixit’s screenplay is hardly engaging because it becomes monotonous quite early on. The drama fails to excite or involve the audience as the two kids set out to achieve an almost impossible task. There are hardly any high points in the screenplay which, therefore, moves in quite a flat fashion. The initial scenes of Pichku defecating in his home are actually repulsive. Perhaps, the only two things which offer some level of excitement, however small, are the construction of the toilet and the climax. The rest of the drama is actually very boring. Nitin Dixit’s dialogues are not half as good as they should’ve been.

Master Tathastu delivers a confident performance as Pichku. Master Aryan Preet is very natural as Gopi. Ranvir Shorey does a fine job as Pichku’s father. In the role of Pichku’s mother, Paoli Dam is impressive. Kumud Mishra lends decent support as Baba. Devender Chaudhry makes his mark as the Parryware salesman. Digamber Prasad (as Shukla), Harish Chhabra (as the Municipal Corporation officer), Hemany Verma (as the school teacher), Inderpal Singh (as the tempo driver), Jai Mukesh Sharma (as the senior officer in the Parryware showroom), Lalit Goswami (as the other Parryware salesman) and the others are adequate.

Nila Madhab Panda’s direction is unidimensional. His narration excludes everything else except the main point of making a toilet. As such, the film looks like a documentary on toilets. Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy’s music and Protique Mojoomdar’s lyrics are functional and although they are fairly nice, none of the songs is popular. Uma Gaiti’s choreography is passable. Jim Satya’s background music is ordinary. Camerawork (by Pratap Rout) is fairly nice. Boishali Sinha’s production designing and Sachin Vinayakrao Khate’s art direction are of a good standard. Archit Rastogi’s editing needed to be sharper.

On the whole, Halkaa is a poor show and lacks entertainment value. It looks more like a propaganda film. As such, it will not find favour with the public.

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LAILA MAJNU

Balaji Telefilms Ltd. and PI Films’ Laila Majnu (UA) is based on the classic folklore but is set in today’s Kashmir.

Qaes (Avinash Tiwary), son of Sarwar (Benjamin Gilani), falls in love with Laila (Tripti Dimri), daughter of Masood (Parmeet Sethi). The two families live in Kashmir and both the fathers are sworn enemies. Even while Qaes convinces his father to get him married to Laila, the latter’s father is too egoistic to relent. What Masood does instead is to get Laila forcibly married to Ibban (Sumit Kaul) who turns out to be a parasite and a drunkard.

While Qaes goes away to London after failing to convince Laila’s father and even Laila, vowing never to return to her, she herself sticks with her good-for-nothing husband who, with the help of father-in-law Masood, becomes an MLA. Four years later, Qaes returns to Kashmir when his father passes away suddenly. He chances to see Laila one day and can’t control his emotions. On her part, Laila meets Qaes without her husband’s permission. She is shocked to learn that he has not been able to forget her all these years. She decides to walk out on Ibban and settle down with Qaes, unconcerned about what her traditional family and society would think about her. But she stops herself from taking the drastic step of eloping with Qaes when the frustrated Ibban dies in a car accident. Laila chooses instead to wait for the mourning period to get over.

What happens after that? Do the star-crossed lovers unite?

Imtiaz Ali and Sajid Ali have written a story based on the folklore but set it in modern times. Since it is an oft-repeated story, the lack of novelty is a minus point. Not just that, even otherwise, the post-interval portion is very boring and repetitive. The duo’s screenplay fails to make the viewers empathise with Laila or Qaes, and that’s the biggest drawback. For, what’s a love story in which the audience does not root for the lovers. The post-interval portion is not just boring but also very depressing. Even the climax absolutely fails to emotionally move the viewers. The dialogues, written by Imtiaz Ali and Sajid Ali, are fair only.

Avinash Tiwary acts well as Majnu (Qaes). But he does not have the looks of a hero. Tripti Dimri makes a fair debut as Laila but she does not endear herself to the audience. She does not look very pretty. Sumit Kaul makes his presence felt as Ibban. Parmeet Sethi is quite alright as Masood. Benjamin Gilani leaves a mark as Sarwar. Sahiba Bali does a fine job as Laila’s friend, Ambreen. Abrar Qazi has his moments in the role of Qaes’ friend, Zaid. He looks handsome. Shagufta Ali (as Laila’s aunt), Mir Sarwar (as Qaes’ brother-in-law), Vasundhara Kaul (as Qaes’ sister), Sujata Segal (as Laila’s mother), Duaa Bhat (as Shama), Farhana Bhat (as Jasmeet), R.J. Rafiq (as Touseef), Moomin Rafiq (as Umer), master Dawar (as young Qaes), baby Hibba Shafi (as young Laila), Khawar Jamsheed (as Mudi), Shahid Gulfam (as Rasool), Zameer Ashai (as Nisar Bukhari), Maqbool Bhat and Rocky (both as Qaes’ servants), Saniya Mir (as Arshai Dilber), Iftikar (as Nimazi), Sammy Basheer (as Laila’s cousin), Saba (as Laila’s college friend) and the rest provide fair support.

Sajid Ali’s direction is found lacking. Although he has taken care of the Kashmiri accent of the actors, his narration does not keep the viewers engaged or entertained. Music (Niladri Kumar, Joi Barua and Alif band) is appealing but the songs are not as popular as songs of a love story of this kind ought to have been. The ‘Sarphiri’, ‘Mujhe fikr nahi’, ‘Ahista ahista’ and ‘O meri Laila’ songs are the pick of the lot. Irshad Kamil’s lyrics are very nice. Song picturisations (Ashley Lobo, Rajeev Surti, Raka and Imtiaz Ali) lack freshness. Hitesh Sonik’s background music is okay. Sayak Bhattacharya’s cinematography is good, at least as far as capturing the Kashmir locales is concerned. Production designing (by Khawar Jamsheed, Hashir Malik and Rakesh Yadav) and art direction (by Mohd. Zarar Alam and Krishna Thakur) are alright. Editing (Aarif Sheikh and Aarti Bajaj) is fairly sharp.

On the whole, Laila Majnu has a weak second half which will mar its box-office prospects. Lack of popular songs and a weak lead cast will also tell on its box-office performance. In the final tally, it will prove to be a flop.

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PALTAN

Zee Studios and J.P. Films’ Paltan (UA) is a war film set in 1967.

After the 1962 Indo-China war, China and India were involved in clashes in 1967 at Nathu La and Cho La, alongside the border of the Himalayan kingdom of Sikkim, then an Indian protectorate. It is a little-known chapter of India-China wars.

Major General Sagat Singh (Jackie Shroff) sends Lt. Col. Rai Singh (Arjun Rampal) to take charge at the Sikkim border. In his paltan are Major Bishan Singh (Sonu Sood), Major Harbhajan Singh (Harshvardhan Rane), Captain Prithvi Singh Dagar (Gurmeet Choudhary), Second Lieutenant Atar Singh (Luv Sinha) and hawaldar Parasar (Siddhanth Kapoor). How these six people and others in the paltan give the Chinese armymen at the Sikkim border a terrible fight is what the film is all about.

The story is based on real-life incidents of 1967. Firstly, the skirmishes between India and China in 1967 are hardly common knowledge and secondly, because this is such a small chapter in history, it is unlikely to interest the audience more than 50 years later. Writer-director J.P. Dutta may have felt inclined to make a film based on this drama for this reason – that it’s not in the knowledge of too many people. But it is this very reason that should have actually prompted him not to make the film – because what transpired in 1967 was not a war, they were skirmishes. J.P. Dutta’s screenplay is quite flat and predictable. The war drama is interspersed with the personal stories of the various armymen but even these personal tales don’t evoke the desired emotions. In fact, it is unfortunate that except for the climax, the screenplay fails to make an emotional impact on the audiences who, therefore, see it unfolding on the screen quite passively. If the emotional quotient is low, except in the climax when the weak-hearted would end up crying, the patriotic feelings also hardly get aroused among the viewers. A war drama without the patriotic fervour and with minimal emotions is definitely not a success recipe.

It would not be wrong to say that the skirmishes between the Indian army and the Chinese army often look childish and not very serious. Yes, the climax war, bombings and gun fights are impactful but prior to that, the face-offs and fights are not effective. J.P. Dutta’s dialogues are okay; they lack the power and punch of patriotism.

Arjun Rampal is fair in the role of Lt. Col. Rai Singh. Jackie Shroff does a decent job as Major General Sagat Singh. But why does he speak so many dialogues in accented English? Sonu Sood is natural as Major Bishan Singh. Harshvardhan Rane leaves a lovely mark in the role of Major Harbhajan Singh. Gurmeet Choudhary makes his presence very well felt as Capt. Prithvi Dagar. Luv Sinha’s acting is okay but his dialogue delivery needs improvement. His physique and fitness don’t befit the Second Lieutenant (Atar Singh) he plays. Siddhanth Kapoor, as hawaldar Parasar, gets very limited scope; he is alright. Rohit Roy also has a tiny role as Major Cheema. He hardly makes an impact. Abhilash Panwar (as hawaldar Laxmi­chand) is earnest. Esha Gupta hardly has a worthwhile role as Rai Singh’s wife. Sonal Chauhan is ornamental in the role of Bishan Singh’s wife. Monica Gill makes her mark as Harbhajan Singh’s girlfriend. Depika Kakkar has her moments as Capt. Dagar’s fiancée. Liao Sheng Hua Nelson (as the Chinese commissar), Liao Kuo Chi (as the Chinese officer) and Dr. Chien Ho Liao (as the Chinese officer) lend fair support. Others are average.

J.P. Dutta’s direction is not too inspired. The filmmaker doesn’t seem to be in form because he has not been able to make a drama which can move the viewers emotionally or instill the spirit of patriotism in them. His handling of the climax and picturisation of the climax song (‘Main zinda hoon’) are definitely good. Music (Anu Malik) is nice but no song is a hit. The ‘Main zinda hoon’ song is excellently rendered by Sonu Nigam. ‘Raat kitni daastanein’ is quite well-tuned. Javed Akhtar’s lyrics are inspiring. Feroz Khan’s choreography is alright. Distinction marks for the picturisation of the climax song for the emotions it evokes. Sanjoy Chowdhury’s background music is quite good. Cinematography (by Shailesh Awasthi and Nigamendra Bomzan) is eye-filling. The Leh-Ladakh locations look beautiful on the screen. Sham Kaushal’s action scenes are exciting. Dayanidhi Patturajan’s art direction is fair. Ballu Saluja’s editing is quite okay.

On the whole, Paltan lacks the excitement, emotional quotient and patriotic appeal of a war film and looks like a formula film. It will not be able to make much of a mark at the box-office.

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