Cinestaan and Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra Pictures’ Mirzya (UA) is based on the legendary love story of Mirza and Sahiban. Monish (master Iteshyam) and Suchi (baby Anuja) are childhood friends. They study in the same school and same class and are inseparable. They live in Jodhpur (Rajasthan).

One day, little Suchi prompts little Monish to pass off the homework done by her as his own because he himself has not done his homework. The teacher understands this and promptly asks Suchi to show him her homework. Continuing her lies, Suchi tells him that she hasn’t done her homework. The teacher then punishes Suchi. This infuriates Monish so much that he kills the teacher, using the gun of Suchi’s father who is a police officer. Monish is sent to a juvenile remand home.

After some days, Monish escapes from the remand home. Years later, Monish (Harshvardhan Kapoor) comes back to Jodhpur but under the name of Adil. Suchi (Saiyami Kher), who had gone abroad for studies, also returns to Jodhpur. She is shown to be in love with a prince, Karan (Anuj Choudhry). Her marriage is also fixed with Karan. But old sparks are soon reignited when Adil alias Monish and Suchi meet. Clearly, Suchi is more comfortable and happier in the company of Monish than when she is with Karan.

All hell breaks loose when Suchi’s father (Art Malik) and Karan’s father (K.K. Raina) learn about the love affair of Adil and Suchi. The two love birds have no option but to elope. Do they live happily ever after?

Gulzar’s story is inspired by the legendary tale of Mirza-Sahiban but it doesn’t do justice to that story as even the parallels are depicted quite sketchily. Gulzar has written a screenplay which is pathetic and makes no sense in today’s time and age and for the modern generation. The drama is so lacklustre, so boring and so dull that it tests the audience’s patience. Although it is a love story, the romance is anything but heartwarming or even enjoyable. The viewers don’t feel for the lovers and, therefore, fail to root for them when things get difficult for them. The audience neither feels sad for them when they are separated or when they face obstacles nor feels elated when they are together. The flashes of legendary lover Mirza fighting his adversaries keep appearing on the screen at strategic points in the drama but they hardly serve to heighten the impact, which was the intention. This is the writer’s way of alluding to Mirza-Sahiban’s story but that is simply not explained to the audience which wonders why Monish and Suchi are shown in get-ups which are so different from their actual get-ups. Worse still, the flashes are repeated so often that the audience wonders if the writer was so bereft of ideas or the director was so short on imagination. The film has three layers – the present-day love story of Monish and Suchi, the love story of Mirza and Sahiban, and the story narrated by the sutradhar (Om Puri). But these three layers only serve to confuse the viewers. Shockingly, there are no dialogues between Mirza and Sahiban in the legendary love tale.

Although the film is a launch pad for two young actors, it is so dry, drab and morose that it will simply not cut ice with the youngsters who look for entertainment in a film and who should have formed a large chunk of audience for this film. Light moments are almost conspicuous by their absence. In fact, the viewer can’t believe it when he sees Monish and Suchi laughing in one scene – this, because they are always shown to be so sad. With romance being half-baked and comedy missing, the film falls short in two departments which should be key in any love story. The dramatic portions are so subdued and half-hearted that the viewers actually doubt whether any thought has gone into the scripting or it has been written without caring for the audience to which it caters. Since the romance totally fails to touch the heart, the emotions fall flat on their face. There is action, of course, but even that does not generate the excitement and thrill it should, if only because the characters fail to make a place for themselves in the hearts of the audiences.

Frankly, the audience is almost completely not with Monish’s character from the moment he takes the extreme step of killing the teacher – that too, for merely doing his job as a conscientious teacher. The scene of killing is meant to evoke empathy for Monish in the viewer’s heart but the weak script does not let that happen. The reverse definitely does happen – the audience hates the child’s audacity and that never really changes because the writer just does not address it or simply doesn’t make Monish regret his extreme action. That’s exactly the reason why the scene in which Monish (Adil) indirectly asks Suchi’s father for her hand in marriage, does not have the viewer’s heart pounding. Another flaw in the screenplay is that the writer would like the audience to go with Monish and Suchi on the basis of the days they spent together in their childhood, but the audience is just not ready to interpret the childhood bonding as love. To show two little kids in love would be found to be distasteful by many. This childhood love is the foundation for the entire love story and hence the film rests on a weak foundation. All in all, the screenplay is so poor that it will be mocked at by the youth. Gulzar’s dialogues lack fire and are barely passable.

Harshvardhan Kapoor makes an ordinary debut. He tries to bring intensity to his character but is let down by the terribly poor script. He is presented so unclean that it only takes away from the excitement of watching a newcomer who is a star-son (Anil Kapoor’s son). His hair is always dishevelled, his face and clothes are always unwashed and his general demeanour is unpleasant. Surely, this is not how one would want to see a new hero. Saiyami Kher also makes an average impact in her debut role. In several scenes, she appears to be rattling off her dialogues without much feeling. The only scene in which she has looked pretty is the one in which she is dressed up as a bride. Anuj Choudhry (as Karan) hardly looks like a prince. His acting is alright. Art Malik fails badly as Suchi’s father. His dia­logues are inaudible at several places. Om Puri doesn’t get any scope and one wonders what he is doing in the film. Anjali Patil leaves a definite mark in the role of Zeenat even though she has a brief role. K.K. Raina lends dull support. Masood Akhtar has his moments as the servant in Suchi’s house. Master Iteshyam and baby Anuja are confident as young Monish and young Suchi respectively. Vikram Singh (as teacher), Geeta Agrawal (as Monish’s mother) and the others provide ordinary support.

Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra’s direction is terribly dull. He is let down by an inane script and, therefore, all that stands out in his direction are his stylised shot takings and his over-indulgence. His narration fails to involve the audience. Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy’s music comprises a good title song and others which are fairly well-tuned but none which has the hummable quality about it. For an epic love story to not have super-hit music is a minus point in the film’s report card. Besides, for a love story to not have a single lip-synch song picturised on the lovers is a poor joke – and this film does not have any such lip-synch song! The title track stands out for its excellent rendition by Daler Mehndi but its impact in the film is greatly diluted because it comes at different places and, therefore, only in parts at irregular intervals. Gulzar’s lyrics are not easy on the lips. Song picturisations (by Raju Sundaram and Mayuri Upadhya) are eye-filling but the choreography in a couple of song-dances looks repetitive. Tubby Parik’s background music leaves something to be desired. Pawel Dyllus’ cinematography is of a fine standard. Action scenes, choreographed by Danny Baldwin (horses), Manohar Verma (horses) and Allan Amin, are effective but to not much avail. Acropolis’ production designing is fair. P.S. Bharathi’s editing is quite sharp.

On the whole, Mirzya is a flop show and will meet with a disastrous fate at the box-office. It is like a lifeless as well as soulless film – dull, dry, drab and devoid of drama. It is all that a film with newcomers shouldn’t be!

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Fox Star Studios India Pvt. Ltd., Friday Filmworks and Inspired Entertain­ ment Pvt. Ltd.’s M.S. Dhoni – The Untold Story is a biopic of Indian cricket legend Mahendra Singh Dhoni. The film traces the journey of Dhoni right from his childhood to the time India won the Cricket World Cup after 28 years, in 2011, under his captaincy.

The story, penned by Neeraj Pandey, is inspired by the real-life story of the cricket icon and because there are quite a few incidents and events of his life which are not in the public domain, the story keeps the audience involved and engaged and even surprises them at places. Neeraj Pandey and Dilip Jha’s screenplay is superb. Yes, it is lengthy and, therefore, does dip at places (in scenes where he takes up a job as a ticket collector, in scenes of his budding romance with Sakshi, and some more scenes) but the dip is not alarming. It would not be wrong to say that although the screenplay could have been tighter, the length of the film, in totality, is a minor aberration only. That is also because the portions which are not interesting, are not completely boring. There are interesting bits in the boring portions too. The writers have shown the love stories in fair detail to make the drama more appealing to even people who aren’t cricket fans. Actually, the screenplay is quite wholesome – it has a lot of thrill, of course, but it also has drama, emotions, comedy, light moments, tension, romance and intrigue. The emotional scenes are varied – there are emotions which come to the fore in Dhoni’s scenes with his family members, with his friends, with his coach, and with his girlfriends. The viewers experience the adrenaline rush so many times that there’s a feeling of viewing an entertaining drama all the time. Also, there are plenty of heartwarming moments in the film, which will be loved by the viewers and may prompt them to repeat the film despite its long running time.

Neeraj Pandey’s dialogues are superb – straight, crisp and weighty. He deserves distinction marks for his extraordinary dialogues.

Sushant Singh Rajput lives the role of M.S. Dhoni. He is unassuming as the cricketer and takes success and failure in his stride with the same equanimity. Sushant deserves kudos for getting into the skin of the character and playing the role with such ease and finesse. In one word, he is fabulous. Kiara Advani (as Sakshi) looks pretty and is impressive in her acting. Disha Patani makes a very confident debut. She plays the bubbly Priyanka with élan. Anupam Kher lives the role of Dhoni’s father. His expressions are outstanding. As Dhoni’s mother, Neeta Mohindra is endearingly natural. Bhoomika Chawla lends very good support as Dhoni’s sister. Rajesh Sharma deserves distinction marks for his performance in the role of Dhoni’s coach, Banerjee. His tearful expression of sense of achievement when Dhoni wins the World Cup for India in 2011, speaks volumes for his acting prowess. Kumud Mishra, as Deval, does a wonderful and supremely sincere job. Sandeep Nahar (as Paramjeet), Alok Panday (as Chitu) and Kranti (as Santosh) lend extraordinary support as Dhoni’s bosom pals. Sanjay Dadhich (as Satya, Dhoni’s friend at Kharagpur) leaves a mark. Joginder Sharma (as …), K.P. (as Animesh Ganguly), Brijendra Kala (as commentator Tiwari), Mukesh S. Bhatt (as commentator Shukla), Shanti Lal (as Sarkar), Rajendra Chawla (as Ramesh), Mithu Chakraborty (as Mrs. Banerjee), Sarvadaman Banerjee (as Chanchal), Shishir Kumar Dutta (as Das Babu), Rohit Mukherjee (as Singh Sir), Jitin Gulati (as Gautam), Ashrut Jain (as Shabbir), Surjeet Singh (as Deepak), Moni Roy (as Robin), Neeraj Kumar Singh (as Jignesh), Rhea Pawan Sharma (as Ritu), Deepak Dutta (as Dilip Vengsarkar), Harry Tangri (as young Yuvraj Singh), Rajeev Khatpal (as Mihir), Punya Darshan Gupta (as Rakesh), Rajesh Tiwari (as Roy), Ravindra Mankani (as Jagmohan Dalmiya), Swini Khera (as Dhoni’s sister in her younger days), Zeeshan (as young Mahendra Singh Dhoni), Aryan Singh (as young Chitu), Vijay Kumar Dogra (as coach) and the others provide remarkable support.

Neeraj Pandey’s direction is just too wonderful. His narrative style captivates both, cricket lovers and those who don’t understand cricket. Although this is a cricketer’s story, Pandey has exploited the human drama so beautifully that he has made it a wholesome entertainer. Amaal Mallik’s music is functional. The background songs stand out more for the substantive lyrics (Manoj Muntashir) than anything else. Choreography (by Brinda and How­ard Rosemeyer) is okay. Sanjoy Chowdhury’s background music is simply outstanding and enhances the emotional impact of the drama. Sudheer Palsane’s camerawork is splendid. Sunil Babu’s production design and Vaishnavi Reddy’s art direction are of a fine standard. Abbas Ali Moghul’s action scenes are appropriate. Shree Narayan Singh’s editing is sharp.

On the whole, M.S. Dhoni – The Untold Story is a sureshot hit at the box-office. It will fly high and fast – much like the ball flies when M.S. Dhoni hits it for a six on the cricket field. Not just in the first week, the film’s collections in the second week will also be outstanding.

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Shoojit Sircar, Rashmi Sharma Films and Rising Sun Films’ Pink (UA) is the story of three girls who get into an ugly battle with a group of four boys. A friendly encounter turns ugly when it reaches the court where the very characters of the three girls are under scrutiny.

Minal Arora (Taapsee Pannu), Falak Ali (Kirti Kulhari) and Andrea (Andrea Tariang) live as tenants in a house in Delhi. They all are working girls and are leading a normal life. One day, the three room-mates go out with their friend, Vishwa (Tushar Pandey), and his two friends, Dumpy (Raashul Tandon) and Rajvir Singh (Angad Bedi). The boys invite the girls for drinks and dinner and somehow manage to let things come to a stage where Minal is with Rajvir in a hotel room, Andrea is with Dumpy in another room, and Falak is with Vishwa. Rajvir, whose uncle is an influential politician, forces himself upon Minal in the hotel room and does not let go of her despite her pleas to leave her. Finally, when Minal finds herself in a helpless situation, she breaks a bottle on Rajvir’s head. The three girls run away from there while the boys, joined by a fourth friend, Ankit (Vijay Verma), head to a hospital. The injury to Rajvir’s head and eye is serious.

The girls are scared stiff and so are the boys. Both the groups refrain from making police complaints for different reasons. But the boys, out to seek revenge, start harassing the girls and even pick up Minal once and molest her in their car when they learn that she had been to the police station, contemplating filing a complaint. Even as the girls are wondering what they should do, the police land up at their doorstep. The boys have filed a complaint against them, accusing them of soliciting money for offering sexual favours and causing grievous injury to one of them. Minal is arrested and sent to the lock-up.

That’s when an old and retired lawyer, Deepak Sehgal (Amitabh Bach­chan), living in the neighbourhood, decides to step in to help the girls. He dons the lawyer’s robe once again and files a case against the four boys while securing bail for Minal. The court battle is, as expected, very ugly as all types of personal questions are asked to the girls and aspersions are cast on their characters.

What is the final outcome of the court battle?

Shoojit Sircar, Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury and Ritesh Shah have penned a story which has novelty written all over it. Not just novel, it is also extremely bold and it attempts to break stereotypes of society. In that sense, the story is also very thought-provoking because the questions raised by the prosecution lawyer, Deepak Sehgal, make the audience sit up and think. This is because his questions somewhere make the viewers feel guilty of committing a grave mistake while judging people’s characters. This is where the identification comes. No doubt, the social crime thriller, devoid of several ingredients of a usual masala film, is a class-appealing film because it is, in a sense, a very cerebral film and relies heavily on the courtroom arguments, but the issues raised in the drama are so identifiable that it may not be long before the class-appealing film also finds acceptance among the family audiences. Girls and ladies, especially, will love the story because it is completely and totally from their point of view. However, the orthodox audience and viewers outside of the big cities will not empathise with the girls and their plight because their thinking is stereotypical and it can’t be expected to change because of this film.

Ritesh Shah’s screenplay is as good as the story. The screenplay is written in such a way that the audience is never aware of what has actually transpired between the boys and the girls, till quite late in the drama. Things are revealed in bits and pieces and, in the process, the viewers remain attentive from the start till the end. Showing visuals of the complete drama in the hotel room, only in the end rolling titles, is a masterstroke by the writer. Although the film drives home a message, it refrains from getting into the preaching mode, and credit for that should be given to the screenplay writer. The courtroom drama, especially, has been brilliantly written and makes for compelling viewing. There are a couple of places where the courtroom scenes become a bit too heavy, but that’s a minor aberration. The climax (about the word ‘no’) is so brief but so weighty that the audience experiences a feeling of exhilaration while watching it. The courtroom arguments, in general, are so fresh and so unpredictable that the audience enjoys them. There are several clap-trap scenes in the film.

Ritesh Shah’s dialogues are bold and beautiful. He deserves kudos for penning such heavy-duty dialogues which often shake the viewer.

Taapsee Pannu is splendid in the role of Minal Arora. She lives the role of a young, vivacious girl accused of prostitution. Her performance is outstanding. Kirti Kulhari is superb as Falak Ali. Her scenes of outburst, first on the telephone while speaking with Rajvir, and again in the court, are memorable and could evoke claps from the public. Andrea Tariang (as Andrea) is cute and endearing. Her simplicity, innocence and straightforwardness come to the fore so effortlessly that she wins the audience’s sympathy, more so in the courtroom. Amitabh Bachchan shines like few can shine. He plays lawyer Deepak Sehgal with such conviction that one would want to prostrate in front of him. This man is not just a textbook on acting but an entire university of acting. Indeed, an award-winning performance! His gait, his expressions, his body language, his pauses while delivering dialogues, his voice modulation – everything about his acting is to die for. Piyush Mishra is first rate as defence lawyer Prashant Mehra. He evokes instant hatred towards himself, so realistic is his acting. Angad Bedi leaves a mark in the role of Rajvir Singh. Vijay Verma does a very fine job as Ankit. Raashul Tandon (as Dumpy) and Tushar Pandey (as Vishwa) lend lovely support. Dhritiman Chatterjee shines as the judge. His facial expressions are just too good. Mamta Malik is splendid as investigating police officer Sarla. Pawan Mah­endru underplays excellently as Minal’s helpless father. Mamata Shankar (as Sara), Vinod Nagpal (as Kasturilal), Jogi (as police inspector Shaukeen), Swaroopa Ghosh (as Uma Di), Sudhanva Deshpande (as Javed), Sushil Dahiya (as Ranjit Sherawat), Arjun Chakraborty (as Ritwik), Savita Sharma (as Falak’s mother), Vinod Rai (as Andrea’s father), S.K. Batra (as neighbour Sinha), Rita Kapoor (as Mrs. Sinha), Alka Chatwal (as the female constable in court), Johar Kango (as neighbour Gupta), Sakshi Mehta (as Suman), Rajeev Pandey (as manager Ramakant Vijay), Amit Basoya (as waiter Mukesh), Ritesh Shah (as Falak’s boss), Arun Poorie (as Andrea’s boss), Radha Khandelwal (as the female constable of Surajkund police station) and the others lend very good support.

Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury’s direction is marvellous. He has handled the subject with the sensitivity it requires. Credit is due to him for making an engrossing and engaging film in spite of it not having all the usual trappings of a masala entertainer. He has brought out the Delhi flavour beautifully through his characters. Music (Shantanu Moitra and Anupam Roy) is effective but not of the hummable variety. Lyrics (Tanveer Qazi and Anupam Roy) are nice. Shantanu Moitra’s background music is terrific. Avik Mukhopadhyay’s cinematography is lovely. Production designing (by Meghna Gandhi) is of a good standard. Bodhaditya Banerjee’s editing is sharp.

On the whole, Pink is a very well-written, well-directed, well-enacted film that makes for compelling viewing. It is a fantastic film for the class audi­ence and will also be loved by womenfolk. It may have started slow but collections will grow (in the good multiplexes of the big cities, the growth will be very big) due to positive word of mouth and great press. A profitable fare for sure!

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T-Series and Vishesh Films’ Raaz Reboot (A) is the fourth horror film in the Raaz franchise.

Rehan Khanna (Gaurav Arora) and Shaina (Kriti Kharbanda) are a married couple. They had met, fallen in love and gotten married in Romania and had then gone away to India. They have now returned to Romania after living for some time in India. It is on Shaina’s insistence that they have moved to Romania. Frankly, Rehan wasn’t in favour of relocating. There is, therefore, tension between the two when they land in Romania on 1st January, 2016.

Shaina feels, there is something that Rehan is not sharing with her, and she thinks, that’s the reason for the tension between them. She asks him in so many words and tells him to share with her the secret he is hiding from her, but Rehan is unrelenting. Also, Shaina wants to start a family but Rehan doesn’t want to. The differences surface so obviously that Rehan decides to sleep in a different bedroom and he continues to do so every night.

Strange things begin to happen to Shaina in the new house in Romania. It is soon clear that there is a spirit in the house, which has possessed Shaina. However, Rehan doesn’t believe his wife when she tells him that there is a ghost in the house. Rehan confides in his friends, Aman (Hargun Grover) and Shreya (Suzanna Mukherjee). The three of them then meet a pyschometric expert, Trilok (Ashwath Bhatt), who confirms that Shaina is possessed.

Meanwhile, one day, Shaina bumps into her ex-boyfriend, Aditya (Emraan Hashmi), who wins her confidence by revealing all that has happened to her in the new house. He tells her that he has been getting strange dreams about Shaina and has, in those dreams, been seeing all the terrible things transpiring in her life. Shaina trusts him when he tries to help her. He even takes her to a tarot card reader but the tarot card reader is not able to help much.

What happens thereafter? Whose spirit has entered Shaina’s body? Is there really a secret which Rehan is hiding from Shaina? Is Shaina freed from the clutches of the spirit?

Vikram Bhatt has written a predic­table and half-baked story which relies on clichéd incidents to take it forward. The suspense angle in the story is the only novel part although it excites the viewers only upto a point. Vikram Bhatt’s screenplay is one of convenience. Why Rehan is so indifferent towards his wife is not clear, especially because he knows something which she does not know. This should have been a reason for him to actually treat her well. What’s more, even after it is established beyond doubt that Shaina is possessed, Rehan’s coldness and in­difference towards her doesn’t change – which seems a bit too weird. Why, Rehan doesn’t even bother to sleep in the same room as Shaina after knowing that the ghost is terrifying her. Again, Shaina taking so much time to believe Aditya when he tells her every single strange happening in the house, seems rather silly. Actually, the screenplay gives the impression to the audience that both, Rehan and Shaina, are doing exactly what they shouldn’t be doing in the given circumstances. Trilok, the psychometric expert, is brought in again, for the second time, in spite of the fact that he had effectively said that he wouldn’t be able to help further if he is disturbed the first time – which is what has actually hapened. Although there are a couple of horror scenes which scare the viewers, they lack novelty. The climax, with the characters reading the shlokas one after another, is not half as convincing as it ought to have been. Girish Dhamija’s dialogues are commonplace.

Emraan Hashmi does an ordinary job. He does not have a full-fledged role and this will not go down well with the audience which will come in expecting him to have the lengthiest role. Emraan doesn’t look fresh in the film. Gaurav Arora makes an average debut as Rehan Khanna. Kriti Kharbanda is so-so in her maiden Bollywood attempt. She looks quite good. Ashwath Bhatt lends ordinary support in the role of the blind psychometrist. Suzanna Mukherjee and Hargun Grover are adequate as Rehan’s friends.

Vikram Bhatt’s direction is fair but there’s not much he has been able to do about the deficiencies in the script. Jeet Ganguly and Sangeet-Siddharth Haldipur’s music is good but far from being hit. The title track (Jeet Ganguly) is tuneful and melodious. Lyrics (Rashmi Virag and Kausar Munir) are routine. Raju Singh’s background music passes muster. Manoj Soni’s camerawork doesn’t stand out. Razvan Puiu’s stunts are routine. Oana Marinescu’s production designing is alright. Kuldip Mehan’s editing is okay.

On the whole, Raaz Reboot is a dull and predictable fare and has little for the class audience and families but it offers some entertainment for the masses. If, in spite of its routine script, it will manage to do fair business in the first weekend in the mass-frequented cinemas, it will be due to the franchise value of the film more than anything else. Overall, collections will not sustain for too many days, even in single-screen cinemas.

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Salman Khan & Sohail Khan Productionz’s Freaky Ali (UA) is the story of Ali (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) who becomes a golf champion by chance.

Ali is trying hard to make ends meet. An orphan, the Muslim guy has been raised by a noble-hearted Hindu lady, Sulbha (Seema Biswas). Ali sells undergarments but he is unsuccessful. From undergarments to the underworld… he soon joins Maqsood (Arbaaz Khan) who works as a collection agent for underworld don Danger Bhai (Nikitin Dheer). One day, Ali and Maqsood go to Singhania (Micky Makhija) to collect protection money. Seeing Singhania play golf quite poorly, Ali taunts him and is then forced to accept Singhania’s challenge to play golf. By sheer luck, he plays the sport very well. Kishanlal (Asif Basra), known to Ali, sees this and coaxes Ali to train in the sport as he sees great potential in the man.

Kishanlal begins training Ali in golf and the man picks up the game in no time. He wins several tournaments but is finally pitted against reigning champion Vikram Rathod (Jas Arora), who is arrogant and vain. Assuming that Ali would never win the game, Danger Bhai’s elder brother (Jackie Shroff) bets tons of money on winning horse Vikram Rathod. Just so that Ali doesn’t steal the limelight from right under Vikram’s nose, Vikram injures Ali’s left arm so badly that it appears, Ali would not be able to participate in the final tournament. What happens thereafter?

Sohail Khan’s story is a routine story of an underdog who rises in life. There is absolutely no freshness or novelty in the story except for the sport of golf. But since golf is not a very popular mass sport, the appeal of the story is very limited. The screenplay, written by Sohail Khan and Raj Shaandilyaa, is clichéd and predictable. Although the drama is about an underdog and it also has a track of friendship (Ali and Maqsood), another track of coach and student (Kishanlal and Ali), a third track of orphan and a foster-mother (Ali and Sulbha) and a fourth track of different religious beliefs (Ali is a Muslim, mother Sulbha and coach Kishanlal are Hindus), the emotional quotient in the film is almost nil. This is the screenplay’s biggest failing. There is also an under-developed track of romance between Ali and Megha (Amy Jackson) which is about as exciting as under-cooked food. Although some comic scenes are funny, they have not been rounded off well. The first half is at least a bit interesting but the film becomes a tedious watch post-interval. Too much time is devoted to the sport of golf and that becomes boring because there isn’t much variety on display. The angle of Danger Bhai is far from funny. The track of Danger Bhai’s elder brother is also very weak. Why, even the conflict between Ali and Vikram Rathod is half-baked. Raj Shaandilyaa’s dialogues are very funny at places but clichéd at other places.

Nawazuddin Siddiqui lives the role of Ali and is fantastic. It is a delight to watch him give cent per cent to the character but one feels sorry that the script (with holes more than the holes shown in the golf course) lets him down so badly. Arbaaz Khan is okay as Maqsood. Amy Jackson gets very little scope. She is so-so. Asif Basra is earnest as Kishanlal. Seema Biswas does fairly well as Ali’s foster-mother, Sulbha. Jas Arora is quite nice as Vikram Rathod. Nikitin Dheer is hardly impressive as Danger Bhai. Jackie Shroff, as the elder brother of Danger Bhai, is ill at ease in the comic villainy he does. He looks quite tired. Paresh Ganatra tries to be funny in the role of Fakru but succeeds only partially. Karishma Kotak (as Aditi) is just about passable. Arvind Parab (as the kidnapped old man) irritates more than entertains. Farida Patel Venkat is quite alright as Maharani. Micky Makhija lends fair support as Singhania. Durgesh Kumar (as Babu), Dhaval Parab (as Jojo), Javed Khan (as Vikram’s caddy), Habib Azmi Shaikh (as the old man in the basti), Priyanka Mishra (as the bride), Hussain Shaikh (as the bride’s father), master Deh Nilesh Ghodasara (as the fat kid) and the others lend ordinary support.

Sohail Khan’s direction is routine. His narration is unable to lift the dull script to any appreciable level. Music (Sajid-Wajid) is okay. The ‘Banda’ song is good. Lyrics by (Shabbir Ahmed and Danish Sabri) are appropriate. Rajeev Surti’s choreography is functional. Aditya Dev’s background music is commonplace. Mahesh Limaye’s cinematography is of a nice standard. Ravi Varma’s action scenes are alright. Wasiq Khan’s production designing and Parul Bose’s art direction are fair. Editing (by Prashant Singh Rathore) leaves something to be desired.

On the whole, Freaky Ali is a dull fare as it lacks novelty. Furthermore, the audience will feel alienated from the drama as it deals with the sport of golf, which is not at all a popular sport among the Indian masses. It will flop at the ticket windows.

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Eros International, Dharma Productions and Excel Entertainment’s Baar Baar Dekho (UA) is a story about time travel.

Jai Varma (Sidharth Malhotra) and Diya Kapoor (Katrina Kaif) have been childhood friends. Friendship has turned into love. Jai, now a renowned Mathematics professor, is very particular about his career, and he has no time for other things. To him, anything that is logical is right, nothing else matters. He wants to teach in a foreign university and that’s his dream. Hence he is not very happy when Diya proposes to him; he feels, his focus would shift if he got married. But he finally relents.

Just before marriage, he gets a job offer from Cambridge University in London and he is overjoyed. He doesn’t accept the offer as he is in the midst of his wedding celebrations. A day before the wedding, Diya takes him to a new house, which would be their abode post-marriage. That’s when Jai realises that while he wanted to settle in London, Diya wanted to be in India and only India. They have a major argument and Jai even tells Diya that he wants to call off the marriage as he can’t ruin his future prospects.

Jai passes out after having champagne but when he wakes up the next day, he finds himself honeymooning with Diya in Thailand. He is shocked because he doesn’t remember getting married to Diya. However, Diya reminds him that they were now a legally-wedded couple and were on their honeymoon in Thailand. After sleeping again, Jai wakes up in London. In this way, he realises that he has jumped several days, weeks, months and even years in time. A time comes when he is in his forties, and he has two children, a son and a daughter. He is confused as hell and soon reasons out that he is probably able to foresee the highlights of the future. He feels, all what is happening to him is the doing of the priest who was to solemnise his marriage. This is because the priest had explained to the couple the meaning of the wedding vows which they would be taking. Jai meets the wedding priest who tells him, quite philosophically, that everything that’s happening to him was in his own hands and it was his own doing.  That does it. Jai is able to return back in time and correct matters. He keeps returning back in time at intervals and sets right things that he has done wrong. In the future, Jai sees his wife seeking divorce from him, and another man marrying her. He also sees that his mother has passed away.

What happens in the end? Does Jai marry Diya or not?

Sri Rao’s story may be novel but it is too confusing for the Indian audience to digest. The viewer doesn’t understand whether Jai is actually transported in the future or it is his dream or just his imagination. Again, going back and forth only serves to confuse the audience even more. Although it is a love story, the viewer is hardly concerned about the two lovers and their separation/divorce. This is because he (viewer) is so confused about what’s happening that he doesn’t get the time to empathise with the characters. Even otherwise, the story doesn’t make the character of Jai and Diya lovable enough. The screenplay, penned by Sri Rao, Nitya  Mehra and Anuvab Pal, is no better than the confusing story. Since the drama is of the kind the Hindi audience hasn’t seen before, explaining every aspect of it was what was needed. But the screenplay simply doesn’t attempt to do that and only serves to confuse the audience even more than the story. The philosophy that one can be cautious if one is aware of the future is so obvious that one wonders what the film is trying to convey besides the very, very obvious. Getting the priest in the drama at regular intervals may have been done to make matters simpler but the purpose is hardly achieved. Again, repeating the same scene, as the starting point, every time Jai goes back in time, not just becomes confusing but also irritating for the audience. The light scenes are so weak that the comedy often falls flat on its face. Emotions are conspicuous by their absence. Romance is far from being heart-warming. As a result, the writers appear to be trying too hard to impress with a screenplay which goes over people’s heads. Anvita Dutt’s dialogues are not too impressive.

Sidharth Malhotra does only a fair job and seems to be miscast in a role which required a far more seasoned actor. He looks handsome. Katrina Kaif’s acting is average. Although she looks hot, sexy and beautiful, she is given more than she can shoulder. She has been made to unnecessarily scream in normal scenes. Her dances are supremely graceful. Besides the lead pair, no actor gets any great scope. Sarika, as Jai’s mother, is ordinary. Ram Kapoor looks like he is playing a character he has played in several films earlier. He hardly adds anything to the character of Diya’s father. Sayani Gupta is earnest as Jai’s friend, Chitra. Rohan Joshi is quite nice as Chitra’s husband, Raj. Taaha Shah Badusha is so-so as Jai’s younger brother; he gets almost nil scope. Rajit Kapur makes his presence felt in a special appearance, as the priest. Alys Torrance ( as Diya’s mother) hardly has anything to do. Master Jason D’souza (as little Jai), baby Naisha Khanna (as little Diya), Faisal Batliwala (as young Jai), Tunisha Sharma (as young Diya), Shruti Gupta (as Shruti), Smriti Gupta (as Shreya), Kirti Adarkar (as Suman), Bhaskar Patel (as Prof. Dr. Ramamurthy), Varun Sharma (as Jai’s son, Arjun), master Abhishek Singh (as young Arjun), baby Naomi Costello (as Jai’s little daughter, Naina), Sagar Arya (as Nikhil Khanna), Hussina Raja (as the grown-up Naina), and others lend ordinary support.

Nitya Mehra’s direction leaves a lot to be desired. Her narration of the confusing script does nothing to simplify matters for the audience. Music of the film is the biggest plus point. At least four songs are hit/very appealing. ‘Nachde ne saare’ (composed by Jasleen Royal, penned by Aditya Sharma), ‘Sau aasmaan’ (music by Amaal Malik, written by Kumaar), Kaala chashma (original music by Prem Hardeep, recreated by Badshah, lyrics by Amrik Singh and Kumaar) and ‘Teri khair mangdi’ (composed by Bilal Saeed, written by Kumaar) are the best numbers. ‘Kho gaye hum kahan’ (composed by Jasleen Royal, written by Prateek Kuhad) and ‘Dariya’ (composed and penned by Arko) are also appealing songs. Song picturisations, especially  of ‘Nachde ne saare’(Ganesh Acharya), ‘Sau aasmaan’ and ‘Kaala chashma’ (both by Bosco-Caesar) are excellent. Choreography of ‘Teri khair mangdi’(Atul Mongia) and ‘Dariya’ (Longines Fernandes) is okay. Background music (by Sameeruddin) is too intruding and loud. Ravi K. Chandran’s cinematography is excellent. Foreign locations are very eye-filling. Production designing (by Sharmistha Roy and Fali Unwalla) is of a high standard. Amitabh Shukla’s editing could’ve been better.

On the whole, Baar Baar Dekho is too confusing a film to be understood and enjoyed by the public. Despite hit music and a good-looking lead pair, the film will meet with a poor fate at the box-office. Its poor initial is another minus point.

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Eros International and Colour Yellow Productions’ Happy Bhag Jayegi is a love story.

Daman Singh Bagga (Jimmy Shergill), a corporator, is engaged to be married to Happy (Diana Penty) in Amritsar. However, Happy runs away from the marriage on the day of the engagement even as the celebrations are on, because she loves Guddu (Ali Fazal) and wants to marry him. Since her father (Kanwaljeet Singh) is against her marriage with Guddu, the plan is that she would escape in a truck of flowers sent by her boyfriend. Guddu does nothing for his livelihood and is fond of music.

As luck would have it, Happy lands in the wrong truck which reaches Lahore in Pakistan, in the house of ex-governor Javed Ahmed (Jawed Sheikh) who is obsessed with the idea of seeing his son, Bilal (Abhay Deol), enter politics and change the face of Pakistan. On his part, Bilal has no political inclinations whatsoever. Bilal is to be married to Zoya Rehmani (Momal Sheikh), daughter of Zia Rehmani (Manoj Bakshi).

By the by, Bilal and Zoya understand Happy’s plight and decide to get her married to Guddu in Pakistan itself and then deport the two to India. Towards this end, Bilal and police officer Usman Afridi (Piyush Mishra) come to Amritsar in search of Guddu. They bring Guddu to Lahore under the pretext of making him a singer. But no sooner does Guddu leave for Lahore, Bagga gets to know the truth – that his runaway fiancée, Happy, is in Pakistan and that Bilal would get her married to Guddu. All along, Bilal has to hide the truth about Happy and Guddu’s Indian origin from his strict father as well as from the Pakistani media.

To stop the wedding from taking place, Bagga leaves for Lahore. He is accompanied by Happy’s father.

What happens in Pakistan? Does Guddu marry Happy? Or is Happy forced to wed Bagga?

Mudassar Aziz’s story is quite different from the usual love stories one sees in Hindi films. Since there’s also a track of Bilal seemingly falling in love with Happy, it becomes a love story of a girl and three guys. The drama in the first half is quite interesting and consumes the audience but it becomes slow and a bit boring in the second half. The climax is again quite engaging. Mudassar Aziz’s screenplay emphasises on comedy and is funny throughout. However, the screenplay looks contrived at several strategic points, which comes in the way of the viewers’ full enjoyment. For instance, the track of Bilal and Zoya deciding to get Happy married off to Guddu comes all too suddenly and, therefore, looks a bit forced. Similarly, Happy disappearing in Lahore before her wedding looks like a weak link included only so that the drama can be stretched. However, it must be said to the credit of the writer that despite the contrived twists, he has kept the comic flavour of the screenplay alive, which ensures that the audiences feel entertained, the forced scenes notwithstanding. The post-interval portion, in which there is all-round confusion, is not as hilarious as it ought to have been. Mudassar Aziz’s dialogues are lovely and add to the humour quotient.

Abhay Deol is eandearing in the role of Bilal Ahmed and acts with effortless ease. He is natural as ever. Diana Penty looks chic and performs well enough to make a mark. Jimmy Shergill is effective as Daman Singh Bagga and it is fun to watch him express his frustration every now and then after Happy has run away. Ali Fazal does a fine job as Guddu and is cute. Momal Sheikh makes her presence amply felt as Zoya Rehmani. Piyush Mishra is remarkable in the role of police officer Usman Afridi. His patent dialogues and his chaste Urdu add to the fun element in the film. Jawed Sheikh leaves a mark as ex-governor Javed Ahmed. Jagat Rawat (as Fakhru) and Ayesha Raza Mishra (as Rifat Bi) provide fantastic support. Kanwaljeet Singh has his moments as Happy’s dad. Manoj Bakshi makes his mark as Zoya’s father, Zia Rehmani. Gaurav Dixit (as Bagga’s sidekick, Dimpy), lends lovely support. Nilima Sharma (as Reeto), Ashu Sharma (as Winkle), Rana Pratap Sengar (as Rasheed), Tasha Bhambhra (as Amjad), Lankesh Bhardwaj (as Rajinder), Surjeet Singh Rajput (as Moin), Neetu Pandey (as Ishtiyaq Khan), Manu Rishi (as Sardar) and the rest are adequate.

Mudassar Aziz’s direction is fairly nice. Credit to him for having kept the thread of comedy and humour running throughout the film. Sohail Sen’s music is nice. The ‘Yaaram’ and ‘Gabru’ songs are appealing while the other numbers also have lilt. Mudassar Aziz’s lyrics may not be easy on the lips but they are, nevertheless, good. Raju Khan’s choreography in all but one song is fair. The ‘Gabru’ song, choregraphed by Caesar Gonsalves, is quite eye-filling. Sohail Sen’s background music is effective. Saurabh Goswami’s cinematography is of a nice standard. Wasiq Khan’s production designing is appropriate. Ninad Khanolkar’s editing is sharp.

On the whole, Happy Bhag Jayegi is good in parts only, but the contrived screenplay will do the film in. In the final tally, it will not be able to do much at the box-office.

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