Salman Khan Films and Kabir Khan Films’ Tubelight is a story about faith. The adage goes thus: Faith can move mountains. And that’s what the film, set in 1962, tries to prove.

Laxman Singh Bisht (Salman Khan) is a bit slow, probably because he has an underdeveloped brain. He lives in a small town called Jagatpur. Since childhood, his friends refer to him as Tubelight because, like a tubelight takes time to light up, he takes a while to understand things. His younger brother, Bharat (Sohail Khan), loves him a lot and understands his feelings. In fact, Bharat is so protective about Laxman that he doesn’t let anybody make fun of Laxman. Bharat and Laxman are orphans. Banne Chacha (Om Puri) is like their local guardian.

One day, army officer Major Rajbir Tokas (Yashpal Sharma) comes to Jagatpur to exhort young men to join the army as the growing tension on the Indo-China border could escalate into a war. While many youngsters, including Bharat, are selected, Laxman is rejected. Laxman bids a tearful adieu to younger brother Bharat when he leaves for a probable war. Unable to live without Bharat, Laxman often goes to army office Major Tokas at the base camp to enquire after his brother.

Soon, war between India and China is declared. Seeing Laxman’s predicament, concern and tension for his younger brother, Banne Chacha asks Laxman to keep his faith alive – faith that Bharat would return soon. Banne Chacha also teaches Laxman about the principles which Mahatma Gandhi stood for, such as brotherhood, compassion, faith etc. Trying to emulate Mahatma Gandhi and walk the path traversed by him, Laxman befriends a little Chinese boy, Guo (Master Matin Rey Tangu), who lives at Jagatpur with his widowed mother, Liling (Zhu Zhu). He firmly believes that his friendship with the Chinese would go a long way in ending the war between India and China. While several people in Jagatpur are anti-Chinese, there is one, Narayan (Mohd. Zeeshan Ayyub), who can’t bear the sight or mention of a Chinese. Why, Narayan even wants that Guo and his family leave Jagatpur. But Guo and his family, who’ve come from Calcutta, insist that they are as Indian as any Indian because they and their ancestors have been living in India since generations. They also speak fluent Hindi.

Tension in Jagatpur keeps mounting as the war between the two countries intensifies. Some jawans from Jagatpur are killed in the war and their bodies are received by weeping family members. Laxman’s confidence is often shaken but Banne Chacha’s philosophy about Mahatma Gandhi’s teachings prompts him to keep the faith alive. One day, Narayan pokes fun at Laxman’s talk about keeping the faith alive and he challenges Laxman to move the mountain literally, with his faith. And that happens – Laxman’s faith in himself, literally moves the mountain. Although the newspaper the following day attributes the movement of the mountain to an earthquake, most of the people of Jagatpur now consider Laxman as someone who can’t be taken lightly. From Tubelight, who used to be laughed and scoffed at, Laxman has suddenly become a person to be respected. It is now the turn of the army Major to approach Laxman to use the power of his undying faith to actually stop the war between the two countries.

Will Laxman’s faith stop the Indo-China war? Will it bring back his brother to Jagatpur?

The film is an official adaptation of Hollywood film Little Boy. The story gives too much importance to faith. There’s no harm in that but the story is so half-baked that the undue importance given to faith gets on the audience’s nerves. Showing Laxman, played by Salman Khan, as dim-witted is not an intelligent move if only because Salman’s personality and image are far more overpowering than Laxman’s character. In fact, not just Salman Khan but the story as a whole also looks fake and seems to have been written without much feeling.

The screenplay, penned by Kabir Khan and Parveez Shaikh, is kiddish. The concept of ‘faith’ becomes a joke after a point of time as everyone who meets Laxman – right from Mahatma Gandhi when Laxman was a little boy, to Banne Chacha to the magician to Liling to everybody else he comes in contact with – talks about keeping the faith alive. This hardly rings true because nobody in real life attaches so much importance to faith. Even if one does attach a lot of significance to faith, everybody around him also attaching as much importance to it looks far-fetched and contrived. Banne Chacha’s lessons to Laxman are equally half-baked. The people of Jagatpur town are shown to be mocking at Laxman during the magic show but do an about-turn – and rightly so! – when Laxman’s faith moves a bottle kept on a table. In spite of having experienced this exhibition of the power of his faith, the people of Jagatpur openly mock at Laxman once again when Narayan challenges him to move the mountain by using the power of his faith, leading the audience to wonder how many times Laxman would have to prove himself. It is on such occasions that the viewer gets the feeling that it is not just Laxman who is dumb but the township as a whole comprises far dumber people. Probably worse than that is the idiosyncrasy of the people of the town to actually believe that Laxman had moved the mountain, even after the newspaper report that an earthquake was the real cause. The ultimate madness is when none other than the highly educated army Major pleads with Laxman to stop the Indo-China war, using the power of his undying faith! The scene is unintentionally hilarious!

Laxman’s mind becomes slow when it suits the writers and works normally when it is convenient for them to show that. For instance, Laxman is aware that the Chinese army men would kill the Indian soldiers in their captivity but is dumb enough to ask whether the Indian army men would be set free if the war were to end.

The screenplay is so shabbily written that the emotions fail to move the audience. Rather, making the hero – Laxman – cry every now and then looks ridiculous, never mind if he is dim-witted. Why, the hero (Laxman) even gets slapped so many times by his friend, Narayan. The writers may like to believe that shedding tears and getting slapped goes with the character of Laxman but they have failed to appreciate that firstly, Laxman is the hero of the drama and nobody likes to see a cry-baby and a stupid hero, and secondly, the actor playing Laxman is Salman Khan who has a macho image which the weak screenplay is unable to erase from the viewers’ minds. Narayan’s repeated outburst against the Chinese family seems a bit weird, especially when Laxman, whose brother is on the border, has no problem with the family! What is Narayan’s stake in the war, for him to revolt against the Chinese family more than Laxman, whose brother is fighting the war?

For those looking for the regular ingredients of a commercial fare, the drama lacks romance. Further, only a couple of emotions touch the heart. Compare this with Laxman crying every now and then, and the audiences definitely have a problem. Why, even the bonding between Laxman and Guo fails to evoke the required sentiments. There is humour but not of the kind which will have the audience laughing loudly or even smiling from ear to ear. All in all, this Tubelight has a faulty choke (story-screenplay).

Manu Rishi Chaddha’s dialogues aren’t as heart-warming and heartfelt as they should’ve been. For a film of the magnitude, scale and canvas as Tubelight, nothing short of extraordinary and patriotic dialogues would have been ideal.

Salman Khan tries to give his cent per cent to the character of Laxman/Tubelight but he succeeds only at times. That is to say, he is able to make an impact in some scenes but leaves the audience unaffected by his innocence and dim-wittedness otherwise. He looks too bulky in many scenes, and this could’ve easily been avoided. Sohail Khan gets limited scope and is strictly okay. Om Puri lends ordinary support. Zhu Zhu, as Liling, looks pretty and acts with likeable ease. Mohd. Zeeshan Ayyub is earnest, as Narayan, but his hot-headed character doesn’t seem too justified, especially because nobody close to him is directly affected by the war. In other words, his characterisation is weak. Yashpal Sharma provides fair support as the army officer, Major Rajbir Tokas. Master Matin Rey Tangu impresses as little Guo. Brijendra Kala, as the shop-owner, and Isha Talwar, as Maya, get limited scope and are okay. Shah Rukh Khan adds hardly anything in a tame special appearance although his performance is good.

Kabir Khan’s direction is definitely not upto the mark. Khan seems to lack conviction in the drama. His war scenes are not half as effective as they ought to have been. His lack of consistency is evident when a few thousand people are shown assembled during the mountain-moving sequence but not even a hundred people when the town is shown paying its last respects to the army men who laid down their lives in the war. This further underlines how mentally imbalanced the inhabitants of the town must be. What’s worse is that some people are shown leaving the prayer meeting midway (after attending it) even as Laxman is paying his last respects to his brother! One doesn’t expect such inconsistencies and flaws from a director of the calibre of Kabir Khan.

Pritam’s music does not befit the canvas of the film. ‘Sajan radio’ is the best song and is a hit; the other numbers are melodious but not of the hit variety. Amitabh Bhattacharya and Kausar Munir’s lyrics are meaningful. Of the song picturisations, ‘Sajan radio’ (by Remo D’Souza) is appealing. Picturisation of the ‘Naach meri jaan’ song (by Shabina Khan) is alright but not noteworthy. Julius Packiam’s background score is nice but not outstanding. Aamar Shetty’s action choreography (with action supervision by Glenn Boswell) is fair when it should’ve been terrific. Production designing by Rajnish Hedao, Sumit Basu and Snigdha Basu (Acropolis) is of a fine standard. Rameshwar S. Bhagat’s editing is fair.

On the whole, Tubelight is a very disappointing fare and lacks entertainment value. Considering the star-cast, the technical team and the canvas, it is a letdown and a poor show. Although the producers have made a humongous profit by selling its India theatrical, Overseas, satellite, digital and music rights, its distributors will incur heavy losses. Of course, the release in the Eid week will help the film but the negative word of mouth will ultimately tell on its business.

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SFE International’s G Kutta Se (A) is a film about honour killing in Haryana. It also underlines how unsafe the state is for girls and how rules are different for the men and the fairer sex.

Veerinder (Rajveer Singh) has a sister, Diksha (Vibha Dikshit), and a cousin, Kiran (Neha Chauhan). Both the girls bring dishonour to their respective families when their affairs with two separate boys come out in the open. Diksha’s father and mother kill her for daring to have an affair, when her MMS video becomes public. Kiran’s father, grandmother and cousin, Veerinder, are keen to mete out the same punishment to her but she proves to be smarter than Diksha. Veerinder, especially, is shocked because he had never in his wildest of dreams thought that his sisters could have affairs.

The film begins with Veerinder and his two friends waylaying a runaway couple. Preeti (Rashmi Singh Somvanshi) has eloped with her driver because she is not happy with her husband. At the end of the journey, after the lovebirds are waylaid by Veerinder and his friends, Veerinder even has physical relations with Preeti but, unlike one of his friends, he doesn’t believe in forcing himself upon any girl.

Rahul Dahiya’s story lays bare the reality of Haryana and captures it in its rawest form. His screenplay progresses at a fair pace but does get repetitive at times. Since the drama is stark, it doesn’t offer entertainment in the sense in which the audience is used to. But the foul language used in the dialogues and the intimate scenes make up for the lack of regular entertainment, to an extent only, of course. Danish Raza’s dialogues (mostly in chaste Haryanvi, partly in Hindi) are very bold and laced throughout with four-letter words. But the Haryanvi dialogues are often difficult to understand. While the dialogues will be liked by the masses, they will keep the ladies and family audiences away. It must be mentioned here that by its very nature, the story and screenplay hold appeal for the elite audience and don’t have much for the masses whereas the dialogues hold appeal for the masses.

Rajveer Singh looks good and acts well as Veerinder. Neha Chauhan is alright in the role of Kiran. Nitin Pandit impresses as Dheer. Rashmi Singh Somvanshi is natural as Preeti. Vibha Dikshit has her moments as Diksha. Sandeep Goyat, Parth Sharma and the others are adequate.

Rahul Dahiya’s direction is good as it shows life in Haryana as it is. Music (Anjo John, Peter Broderick and Rutger Zuydervelt) is functional. Anjo John’s background music is very impactful. Sachin Kabir’s camerawork, with additional cinematography by Alok Shrivastava, is lovely. Art direction (Ambika Acharya and Khushal Gupta) is nice. Editing (Pranay Nillay and Sandeep Singh Bajeli) is sharp.

On the whole, G Kutta Se is a very stark and well-made film but it holds appeal for a thin section of the audience only. As such, its commercial prospects are very limited. Given its lack of promotion, the film may go largely unnoticed.

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K.C. Productions Pvt. Ltd., Kapoor Films Inc. and Ambiabhi Productions’ Phullu (A) is the story of a well-meaning young man who surmounts Herculean obstacles to improve the lot of the women in his village.

Phullu (Sharib Ali Hashmi) lives with his mother (Nutan Surya) and sister, Tara (Trisha Kale). He brings pieces of cloth from the city, which women of the village take from him for use during their periods. Phullu’s mother keeps taunting him and often asks him to go to Delhi and do something worthwhile there instead of catering to the needs of the ladies, but Phullu has the good of the women at heart and hence refuses to leave. His mother selects a girl, Bigni (Jyoti Sethi), for him. Their marriage is solemnised soon. Even after his wedding, Phullu refuses to take up a decent job.

During one of his trips to the city, he learns about sanitary napkins from a lady doctor. He brings a lot of sanitary napkins to the village but his shocked mother throws him out of the house for this. He also realises that his wife suffers from infection in her private parts because she doesn’t use hygienic sanitary pads. He is convinced that the ladies of the village don’t use sanitary napkins because they are expensive. To improve the lot of all the women in the village, he decides to himself make sanitary napkins and sell them at very affordable rates. For this, he goes to Delhi and works in a unit manufacturing sanitary pads. After learning all about it, he brings the raw materials to his village and makes sanitary pads in his house. However, all hell breaks loose when he asks some ladies to use them after his mother and sister express disgust at his suggestion to them to use it. As for his wife, she has gone to her parental home as she is pregnant with his child.

How Phullu realises his dream is what the climax is all about.

Dr. Anmol Kapoor’s story is well-intentioned but all that is well-intentioned cannot be fodder for a film script – and this story underlines the fact. By its very nature, the story will make a lot of people screw up their noses in disgust despite the noble intentions. Shaheen Iqbal’s screenplay is far from engrossing, and there are several reasons for this. For one, the audience’s sympathy does not go to the hero, Phullu, because of his rigid nature; he is not bothered that his mother is so disturbed by the odd jobs that he does, he doesn’t care that the older ladies of the village speak ill about him behind his back. In this scenario, even Phullu’s noble intentions don’t succeed in making a place for Phullu in the viewers’ hearts. Again, Phullu speaking about a personal thing as sanitary napkins to the women in the village looks idiotic. Therefore, it doesn’t break the viewer’s heart when the ladies insult him in spite of his good intentions. All Phullu needed to do was to make his understanding wife talk to the ladies. Alternatively, he could easily have given every woman in the village a free sanitary napkin for trial, with their quota of cloth pieces. Shaheen Iqbal’s dialogues are good but they would make many among the audience cringe.

Sharib Ali Hashmi does a fair job as Phullu. Jyoti Sethi is quite alright in the role of Bigni. Nutan Surya shines as Phullu’s forever distressed, disturbed and fire-spitting mother. Trisha Kale is okay as Tara. Inaam-ul-haq is excellent in a special appearance as Gyan Dev. Namya Saxena has her moments as the press reporter. Shivam Pradhan makes his presence felt as the servant in the dhaaba. Kimti Anand (as Heera chacha), Namya Saxena (as Chitra), Paras Raj Gandhi (as Pramod), Seema Parihar (as Vimla), Vandana Chopra (as the lady doctor), Nirupma Gupta (as Heera chacha’s wife), Sagar (as chemist) and the others lend the desired sup­ port.

Abhishek Saxena’s direction is good in parts but not consistently so. Music (Vicky Agarwal and Troy Arif) goes well with the film’s mood. ‘Manmatanga’ song has lilt whereas the other numbers are alright. Lyrics (by Shaheen Iqbal and Raghav Dutt) are appropriate. Troy Arif’s background music is okay. Simarjet Singh Suman’s camerawork is reasonably good. Rohit Mhatre’s editing is fairly sharp.

On the whole, Phullu is good in parts only, but its drama often looks contrived and unconvincing. As such, it will not be able to make a mark at the box-office, its poor opening and dull promotion only adding to its tale of woes.

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Y-Films’ Bank Chor (UA) is about a bank robbery.

Champak (Ritesh Deshmukh) plans a bank robbery with two accomplices, Teetar (Bhuvan Arora) and Gulab (Vikram Thapa). The three of them hold the customers and staff of Bank Of Indians hostage. CBI officer Amjad Khan (Vivek Anand Oberoi) reaches the bank to bust the robbery and arrest the bank robbers. He is waiting outside the bank for an opportune time to strike.

Even as Champak and his team are struggling to lay their hands on the cash, they realise that there is another person, who has come to the bank to loot it and who is in their midst in the bank. Jugnu (Sahil Vaid) soon introduces himself as the main bank robber and now takes over from Champak. However, there is a big difference. While Champak had all along been very kind to and sympathetic towards the hostages, Jugnu makes it amply known that he cares for nobody and nothing except his motive. Jugnu’s motive is to get hold of a hard drive lodged in a safe deposit locker in the bank. The hard drive has incriminating evidence against home minister Dongardive (Upendra Limaye) and his partner in crime, Ashutosh Sharma (Naveen Kaushik). Why, to achieve his goal, Jugnu even fires a revolver on a senior citizen in the bank, right in front of his son. The senior citizen is injured seriously.

There are several television reporters outside the bank, covering the unfolding drama. Among them is Gayatri (Rhea Chakraborty) who, at one point of time, is sent inside the bank by CBI officer Amjad Khan to negotiate with Champak.

What happens finally? Who is the real bank robber? Is he Champak? Or is he Jugnu? Or are they both bank thieves? Does Champak accomplish his mission? Does Jugnu succeed in getting hold of the hard drive? Is CBI officer Amjad Khan successful in arresting the bank robber/s?

Baljeet Singh Marwah and Bumpy have penned a rather stupid story which rarely, if ever, entertains. Although designed as a comedy, the story fails completely and absolutely to tickle the funny bone of the audience. On that count itself, the story is so poor that one does not even want to talk of lack of logic or of the weak characterisations. Besides, the story is so confused that it serves to confu­se the viewers too. Ditto for the screenplay. Writers Baljeet Singh Marwah, Bumpy, Omkar Sane and Ishita Moit­ra Udhwani have written such a shoddy screenplay that it’s a shame! The only attempt of the four writers seems to be to make the audience laugh – and they rarely succeed. This irritates the viewers all the more because they can see through the concerted effort to make them laugh with half-baked and dated jokes. If the bank thieves are shown as imbeciles, the police officers, CBI officer and media persons also seem to have zero IQs. Agreed, the film is a comedy but if such trash is dished out in the name of comedy, it no longer remains a comedy – and since it no longer remains a comedy, all sorts of questions crop up in the minds of the viewers, most of which remain unanswered. Frankly, the writers’ idea of comedy seems to be at complete variance with today’s audience’s idea of comedy. The scenes and sequences are so contrived that it gets on the viewer’s nerves. The four writers seem to be under the mistaken belief that the audience has no brains but, obviously, that’s not true. Ishita Moitra Udhwani’s dialogues are jaded and lack wit and humour. Most of them seem to have been written to evoke laughter but, unfortunately, they fail to do their job.

Ritesh Deshmukh is badly handicapped by the weak script and is unable to rise above it. His performance is barely average. Vivek Anand Oberoi is also let down by the horrible script and can hardly salvage his performance which turns out to be very ordinary. He keeps repeating the word, “Go”, so many times that one starts expecting him to say “Go” whenever he appears on the screen. Rhea Chakraborty tries to be earnest but to not much avail. Sahil Vaid acts well as Jugnu but he doesn’t truly suit the role. Bhuvan Arora (as Teetar) and Vikram Thapa (as Gulab) lend fair support. Upendra Limaye is natural as home minister Dongardive. Vikram Gokhale is alright in a tiny role as Shashank Thakur. Naveen Kaushik has his moments as Ashutosh Sharma. Sandesh Kulkarni is irritating in the role of ACP Akhilesh Aane. Baba Sehgal also gets on the viewers’ nerves with his half-baked comedy. Ramakant Dayma is so-so as the bank manager. Chef Harpal Sokhi (as the Sardar hostage), Suresh Venkat (as police commissioner Singh), Raja Balasubramanian (as the CBI chief), Hemant Soni (as head constable Sakharam), Kavish Majumdar (as hostage Mukesh), Pradeep Shukla (as Mukesh’s father), Dhaval Barbhaya (as the bank executive), Divyajyoti Sharma (as the irritating aunty among hostages), Subhashish Chakraborty (as the inquisitive hostage), Ankit Ver­ma (as the phone-obsessed hostage), Shyam (as the little tea server), Savish Sindhu (as cameraman Bittu) and Sharmila Joshi (as Mrs. Dongardive) lend routine support.

Bumpy’s direction is weak. His narrative style simply fails to evoke laughter even though the film is designed as a comedy. There are no songs in the film. Shri Shriram and Superbia’s background music is dull. Adil Afsar’s camerawork is routine. Parvez Shaikh’s action and stunts lack thrill. Aparna Raina’s production designing is alright. Saurabh Kulkarni’s editing leaves something to be desired.

On the whole, Bank Chor is a poor show all the way. It is far from being funny and, therefore, will not be able to steal people’s hearts. Its run at the cinemas will be very limited. Although the film, made at a very modest budget, will be able to recover its cost due to revenues from non-theatrical sour­ces, its theatrical business will be poor. Collections on Sunday (June 18) are likely to be adversely affected due to India-Pakistan final cricket match in the ICC Champions Trophy.

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Oddball Motion Pictures’ Behen Hogi Teri (UA) is a love story set in Lucknow.

The city is known for its elders who force guys to get rakhis tied around their wrist by girls of the locality so that the boys can’t flirt with them as they would then become their deemed sisters.

Gattu Nautiyal (Rajkumar Rao) is one such boy who lives in Lucknow and is in love with his neighbour, Binny Arora (Shruti Haasan). Unaware of their budding romance, Binny’s family members treat Gattu like one of their own and, in fact, often assign him duties which they would normally assign to the son/brother of the house. Binny also loves Gattu but she is not happy with the lack of courage he often displays. Gattu’s bosom pal is Bhoora (Herry Tangri) who is also the milkman of Binny’s family and many other families in the neighbourhood.

Due to a horrible misunderstanding, word spreads that Binny is having an affair with Bhoora. Even Gattu doesn’t have the courage to spell out that Binny is in love with him rather than Bhoora. Binny’s elder brother (Ninad Kamat) is livid. Not only does he fire his sister but he also slaps Bhoora for his audacity to romance his younger sister. Bhoora’s family also gets wind of the talk of the town, and the elders in the family now make it an ego issue. They will hear of nothing but marriage of Bhoora with Binny. Obviously, Binny’s brother won’t even dream of marrying his sister to a boy who hails from a family where crime is normal. The battle lines are now drawn between Bhoora’s family – consisting, among others, of his father (Gulshan Grover) and uncle (Ranjeet) – and Binny’s family. Supporting Binny’s brother is Gattu’s father (Darshan Jariwala). Neither Gattu’s father nor Binny’s brother nor anybody else is aware that the romance that’s brew­ing is between Gattu and Binny. Worse still, Binny is so put off by Gattu’s lack of courage that she actually decides to go ahead with the groom, Rahul (Gautam Gulati), selected for her by the family.

What happens finally? Does Binny marry Gattu or Bhoora or Rahul? Do Bhoora’s father and uncle come to claim Binny’s hand in marriage? Does Gattu tell everybody that he loves Binny as a boyfriend rather than as a brother?

Vinit Vyas and Ajay K. Pannalal have penned a slice-of-life story with romance as the base. The non-metro-city mentality of the people is beautifully portrayed. Their screenplay is both, interesting and entertaining. In fact, the screenplay is woven with abundant humour to keep the audience thoroughly engaged. However, there are a couple of sore points in the screenplay. For one, Gattu is accused of filling the ears of Binny’s brother about Binny’s affair with Bhoora, but the fact is that he has not filled the ears – why would he? All Gattu can be accused of is that he did not clarify before Binny’s brother that Binny was not in a relationship with Bhoora. So, Binny’s sister telling Binny that Gattu was to be blamed for spilling the beans does not ring true. This point can’t be digested easily by the viewers because Binny, after this twist, decides to take the extreme step of giving her consent to marry Rahul instead of Gattu. Since the base of her decision is weak, the screenplay after this point rests on a shaky foun­dation. Secondly, Binny keeps ‘humilia­ting’ Gattu about his lack of guts, but this would’ve made an impact had an incident of far-reaching consequences been shown because of Gattu’s timid nature. Since nothing of that sort is shown, the viewers are unable to appreciate why Binny is making such a big hue and cry about Gattu’s guts. Actually, Gattu’s silence in front of Binny’s brother when the latter asks him about Bhoora could have been used as a springboard for Binny’s extreme action of agreeing to marry Rahul, but his silence is presented (before Binny) as Gattu having spilled the beans.

Having said that, it must be reiterated that the comedy keeps the audi­ence entertained throughout the drama and, on several occasions, even in splits. In particular, the entire drunken sequence between Gattu and Bhoora and later, between Gattu, Bhoora and Bhoora’s uncle is hilarious. Equally hilarious is the scene after Binny’s brother slaps Bhoora. Comparatively speaking, the climax is rather tame – maybe, because the issue (about ‘making’ every eligible bachelor, eyeing neighbourhood girls, their brothers) itself is so small and, if one may use the word, ‘frivolous’ in a sense.

Dialogues (by Vinit Vyas, Ajay K. Pannalal and Sanchit Gupta) are excellent and evoke a lot of laughter.

Rajkumar Rao performs excellently as Gattu Nautiyal. His acting is simply outstanding. His expressions and body language are to die for. But the audience will not wholeheartedly accept Rao in a romantic role as a solo hero in a commercial film. Shruti Haasan is good as Binny. Herry Tangri looks rather cute and lends terrific support as Bhoora. Darshan Jariwala is splendid in the role of Gattu’s father. His sense of timing in comic scenes is enviable. Ninad Kamat makes his presence amply felt. Gulshan Grover leaves a lovely mark as Bhoora’s father. Ranjeet stands his own as Bhoora’s uncle. Natasha Rastogi (as Gattu’s mother), Reena Agarwal (as Binny’s sister, Ritu), Bhavya Dutta (as Binny’s little brother, Ajju), Meenakshi Sethi (as Binny’s mother), Som Ganguly (as Raj), Lotty Eleric (as the aunt from the marriage bureau), Alekh Sangal (as Mahesh), Naresh Gosain (as Tirchhu Pehelwan) and the rest lend able support.

Ajay K. Pannalal’s direction is praiseworthy. For a maiden attempt especially, the director has done a praiseworthy job. Music (Jam8, Yash Narvekar, R.D. Burman, Rishi Rich and Amjad Nadeem) is okay. The parody Mata bhajan is very enjoyable. Lyrics (Bipin Das, Yash Narvekar, Amit Dhanani, Anand Bakshi, Raftaar and Rohit Sharma) are alright. Song picturisations (by Vishnu Deva) are fair. Jaidev Kumar’s background music is pretty impactful. Cinematography (by Viraj Sinh Gohil) is fairly nice. Farid Malik’s production designing is alright. Devendra Murdeshwar’s editing is crisp.

On the whole, Behen Hogi Teri is an enjoyable entertainer but the screenplay defects will keep it from realising its full potential at the box-office. Acceptance of Rajkumar Rao as a solo romantic hero in a commercial film also doesn’t seem probable. The chaalu title will keep the family audience away. Although its collections may pick up during the weekend due to the comedy, its terribly poor start will completely spoil the show.

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T-Series and Maddock Films’ Raabta (UA) is a reincarnation love story.

Shiv (Sushant Singh Rajput) is a banker who wears his heart on his sleeve. His job takes him to Budapest with his close friend, Raadha (Varun Sharma). Being the incorrigible flirt that he is, Shiv falls head over heels in love with Saira (Kriti Sanon) as soon as he meets her in Budapest. Saira is alone in the world, having lost her parents in an accident. Saira often gets nightmares about drowning.

Saira already has a boyfriend, Manav (Vikas Verma), whom she dumps once she meets Shiv. Why, she even shares the bed with Shiv while her affair with Manav is on – because she feels a connection with him (Shiv). Soon, there comes on the scene Zakir Merchant (Jim Sarbh) who takes an instant liking for Saira. Shiv has to go out of Budapest for a week for office work. Zakir and Saira meet once again when Shiv is away. Zakir spikes Saira’s drink and kidnaps her, holding her captive in his huge mansion in a secluded island near Budapest.

Saira is devastated when she wakes up in Zakir’s house. It is now clear to her that Zakir is mentally unstable. He shows Saira pictures of hers, which he has. He tells her that they were together in their previous births but couldn’t marry one another and that he had always been in search of her and would now marry her. Since Saira had told him that she loved Shiv, he also informs her that he would kill Shiv. Saira attempts suicide by jumping into the sea but she is rescued. Anyway, once she jumps into the waters, Saira’s past life comes to her mind. She correlates her nightmares with her past life.

In her previous life, Saira was princess Saiba (Kriti Sanon) who was to marry Kaabir (Jim Sarbh). But warrior Jilaan (Sushant Singh Rajput) had come and declared war on Saiba and Kaabir’s village. In order to save her villagers and the village, Saiba had agreed to marry Jilaan. Soon after Saiba and Jilaan’s marriage, Kaabir had shot at Jilaan and then thrown him into the sea, letting him drown to his death. Saiba had also killed herself by jumping into the sea. In their new births, Saiba, Jilaan and Kaabir had been born again as Saira, Shiv and Zakir respectively. Destiny had once again thrown them together in this birth too.

Soon, Shiv reaches Kaabir’s mansion and sees Saira ready to slip the engagement ring in Kaabir’s finger. Not the one to give up so easily, he runs away with Saira. But the eccentric Zakir is no less. He and his men are hot on the trail of Shiv and Saira.

Will Saira marry Shiv or Zakir? Or will the love stories remain incomplete this time also?

Siddharth-Garima have written a story which is dated. For the audience of today to find a reincarnation love story interesting and believable is doubtful – more so, because the story has absolutely no novelty and is much like the reincarnation love stories of the 1960s, 1970s or 1980s. The writer duo has etched out the characters of Shiv/Jilaan, Saira/Saiba and Zakir/Kaabir so poorly that the audience’s sympathy goes to neither. The viewers hardly experience an adrenaline rush when Shiv and Saira meet or when Jilaan and Saiba wed. Likewise, they couldn’t care less when Shiv and Saira are separated or when Jilaan and Saiba’s love story ends soon after they get married. Besides, to show the villain – in this case, Zakir – as a mentally unsound person is quite an easy way out for the writers, to ensure that the audience would hate him.

Siddharth-Garima’s screenplay is long-drawn and appears to be going on and on endlessly, in circles. As if the present-day love story is not boring enough, the love story of the past birth comes as an assault on the viewer’s sensibilities. None of the love stories engages the audiences who, therefore, feel completely and absolutely disconnected from the drama. To say that the screenplay is confused and, therefore, confusing for the viewers, would not be an exaggeration. What’s more, the haunting quality of a reincarnation love story is totally missing. Instead, what the screenplay offers is frivolity and forced coolness, both of which irritate the audience. So much importance is given to sex and intimacy that it actually serves to put the audience off the love story, robbing as it does the love story of its purity. And this is catastrophic for a reincarnation film.

Frankly, there is not a single scene in the screenplay which is heart-warming. Consequently, the viewers passively watch the reincarnation drama unfold. Siddharth-Garima’s dialogues are as pathetic as their screenplay. Many of them are so terrible that they make the viewers cringe in their seats.

Sushant Singh Rajput is miscast. The role of a cool dude does not suit him one bit and although Sushant acts well, he is unable to carry off the role with the attitude that’s required. Sushant does not have the image or the fan following to carry off the role. His constant bragging about being a crowd-puller and the like seems like a bad joke because when he is unable to endear himself to the audience, what is he talking about? His dialogue delivery is so fast and sometimes so unclear that one has to strain his ears to understand him. Kriti Sanon goes through her role quite mechanically. Rather than immersing herself completely into the character, she often performs superficially or feelinglessly. Jim Sarbh is average and fails to make a mark. Varun Sharma has an inconsequential role and does not rise above it. Rajkumar Rao, as head of the Mur­aaki tribe, is wasted in a role that offers Rao nothing substantive; worse still, his get-up, as a very old man, would make him unrecognisable! Deepika Padukone exudes oomph and glamour in an item song. Vikas Verma (as Manav), Suneel Sinha (as the king), Karan Singh Chhabra (as Happy), Jashan Prit Singh (as Golu), Navneet Singh (as Lucky), Aaital Khosla (as the friend), Rachita Singh (as the astrologer), Rina Fatania (as Maya) and Tess Georgia Dimos (as Melissa) lend routine support. Geeta Agarwal Sharma (as Shiv’s mother, Gurmeet Kaur) overacts to the hilt. Vinod Chaddha (as Shiv’s father, Gurmeet Singh) provides weak support. Others barely pass muster.

Dinesh Vijan’s direction is dull. His narration is so bland that the insipid script becomes unbearable for the audience. Music (by Jam8) is a mixed fare. ‘Ek variya’ is a very well-tuned and appealing number. The remixed version of the ‘Raabta’ song is good. Lyrics (Irshad Kamil and Amitabh Bhattacharya) are of a good standard. Except for the ‘Raabta’ song, choreography (Ahmed Khan and Ashley Lobo) is nothing to shout about. Sachin-Jigar’s background music could’ve been far better. Martin Preiss’ cinematography is nice. Keecha Khamphakdee’s action and stunt scenes are functional and lack thrill. Parichit Paralkar’s production designing is nice. Editing (A. Sreekar Prasad and Huzefa Lokhandwala) leaves a lot to be desired.

On the whole, Raabta is a terribly boring fare which will meet with a disastrous fate at the box-office.

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Hindi Medium

T-Series Films and Maddock Films’ Hindi Medium is a comedy about a couple obsessed with getting their little daughter admitted to a top-line English-medium school.
Raj Batra (Irrfan Khan) owns a readymade garments shop in Delhi and lives in Chandni Chowk. Son of a tailor (Rajeev Gupta), Raj is rich but simple by nature. His wife, Mita (Saba Qamar), is too image-conscious. She is hell-bent on getting their little dau ghter, Pia (baby Dishita Sehgal), admitted to one of the leading Eng lish-medium schools in Delhi. But since both, Raj and Mita, are Hindi-speaking parents, it’s not easy for them to get admission for their daughter in an English school of stature. While the simpleton Raj sees no harm in getting his daughter admitted to a government school, his image-conscious wife is adamant that it has to be a private school of repute. The things, the Batra couple has to do for their daughter’s admission in a top-line school, and the comedy that follows has been shown in the film.
The Batras ultimately succeed in getting admission for their daughter in principal Lodha’s (Amrita Singh) Delhi Grammar School but in the low in come group category for which they have to pose as poor people. How ever, that’s not the end of their tale of woes. Something else happens on the day Pia gets admission, which dis- turbs Raj Batra’s peace of mind. What is it that has disturbed Raj’s peace? Will Raj take matters into his own hands and listen to the voice of his conscience? Or will his over-bearing wife not let him take charge?
Zeenat Lakhani and Saket Chau dhary have written a story which ex poses the hypocrisy associated with high-society people who look down upon people who can’t speak Eng lish. Although the story is basically a comic one, it also has an important and serious message about our edu cation system and about the vanity of the rich and famous. The story tackles a point which affects everybody in his/ her life and is, therefore, very relatab le. But the humour is of the kind that would appeal mainly to the class and city audiences. The comedy that hap pens when the Batras try to become cool and modern and when their des peration gets the better of them is so entertaining and so enjoyable that the city and class audiences will not be able to control their laughter. The first half has a fantastic dose of humour while the post-interval portion has a dash of emotions and a serious drama too. The duo’s screenplay is superb. The drama unfolds so logically and so seamlessly that it is sheer delight. There are a number of scenes which will bring the house down with laughter. The scene in which Raj Batra tries to sell a wedding outfit to a mother-daughter duo, the scene in which Mita Batra throws a party in her new house, the scene in which the Batra couple interacts with the consultant (Tillota ma Shome), the scene in which prin cipal Lodha’s Hindi teacher reaches Raj Batra’s house in the poor man’s colony (Bharat Nagar), the scene in which Shyamprakash (Deepak Dobri yal) reaches Raj Batra’s house – these are all outstanding scenes which will have the viewers in splits. There are many other comic seq uences which will be loved by the city-based audience and class viewers. No doubt, the climax is over-idealistic, which may not go well with the hum orous drama before that, but the cli max had to be that, to pass on the message which it does. The two writ ers need a huge pat on their backs for writing such a funny story and screenplay and yet conveying a lovely mes sage at the end of it all.
Amitosh Nagpal deserves distinction marks for his extraordinary dia logues. His is truly inspired writing and his dialogues add hugely to the come dy and humour.
Irrfan Khan is outstanding in the role of Raj Batra. The man is a class apart when it comes to getting into the skin of the character. Every single scene of Irrfan shows the actor’s brilli ance and his mastery over the med ium. Indeed, an award-winning perfor mance! It’s not just the actor’s spoken dialogues, even his expressions, his mannerisms, his sense of timing, his body language, his reactions – everything about him is tops! Saba Qamar is beautiful and plays Mita Batra so wonderfully well that it is delightful to watch her. She is first-rate and is just too natural. Her repeated dialogues about her little daughter growing up to be a drug addict and her repeated posers to husband Raj if he knew the spellings of selected English words is a very cute trait, used wonderfully well. Deepak Dobriyal appears only in the second half but the man is such an outstanding performer that he shines brightly whenever he is on the screen. His easy acting is as endearing as his selfless and helpful character (Shyam- prakash). Swati Das is natural to the core as Shyamprakash’s wife, Tulsi. Tillotama Shome plays the consultant to such perfection that it is difficult to imagine anyone else essaying that role. Her dialogue delivery, dipped in sarcasm, is to die for! Sumit Gulati leaves a mark as Raj Batra’s salesman, Chhotu. Amrita Singh lends dig nity to the character of principal Lodha with her stylish acting. Sanjay Suri and Neha Dhupia lend star value and are very good in special appearances. Mallika Dua (as the bride-to-be Dolly, shopping in Raj Batra’s store) and Kulbir Kaur (as Dolly’s mother) are terrific. Baby Dishita Sehgal is cute as Pia. Anurag Arora stands out as the Hindi teacher. Rajeev Gupta (as Raj’s tailor-father), Neelu Kohli (as Mita’s mother), Sanjana Sanghi (as young Mita) and Delzad Hiwale (as young Raj) lend decent support. Govind Pandey leaves a mark in a brief role as the factory supervisor. Rajesh Sharma (as MLA), Taran Bajaj (as the tout who gets school admissions done in the low income group category), S.K. Batra (as the principal of the gov ernment school), master Anshuman Nandi (as little Mohan, son of Shyam prakash), Sandeep Sachdev (as the rich Delhi guy) and the others lend excellent support.
Saket Chaudhary’s direction is fan tastic. He has made the film’s drama flow so smoothly and so fast that the target audience would marvel at his genius. Saket’s fantastic flair for comedy is evident in every light scene of the film. Music (Sachin-Jigar) goes with the mood of the film but a hit score would have been ideal. Priya Sarai ya and Kumaar’s lyrics are app ropriate. Song picturisations (by Ahmed Khan, Adil Shaikh and Rajeev Surti) are alright. Amar Mohile’s background music is superb. It serves to heighten the impact of the comedy scenes bea- utifully. Laxman Utekar’s camerawork complements the drama effectively. Production designing (by Mustafa Stationwala) is nice. A. Sreekar Pras ad’s sharp editing deserves a lot of praise.
On the whole, Hindi Medium is a very entertaining and fun film which will keep the audience in splits and the investors smiling. It has the strength to pick up due to positive word of mouth. Tax exemption in Maharashtra and Gujarat should help its business in Bombay, C.P. Berar and Nizam cir cuits.
Released on 19-5-’17 at Regal (daily 2 shows), Liberty (daily 2 shows) and other cinemas of Bombay thru AA Films. Publicity: good. Opening: so-so. …….Also released all over. Opening was ordinary everywhere.


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