UTV Motion Pictures and Nadiadwala Grandson Entertainment Pvt. Ltd.’s Tamasha (UA) is a love story. Ved Vardhan Sahni (Ranbir Kapoor) and Tara Maheshwari (Deepika Padu­kone) meet in Corsica by chance. They both are holidaying there and decide to conceal their identities from each other and, in fact, not speak the truth with each other while in Corsica. They also decide never to meet once their stay in Corsica comes to an end. The two click like a house on fire and spend a lot of time with each other. After a few days, they return to India, convinced that they’d never meet each other, more so because they don’t even know one another’s names.

Back in India, Tara can’t forget Ved and realises that she loves him. She is mentally even prepared to leave her boyfriend for him. Quite by chance, she meets Ved in Delhi after several years, and their friendship is revived. Tara is ecstatic on meeting Ved. On his part, Ved now slowly starts falling in love with Tara. But Tara sees a different side of Ved in Delhi, completely at variance with the free-spirited, fun-loving person she had befriended in Corsica. And so, after being together for some days, Tara turns down Ved’s marriage proposal, telling him that she had loved that person in Corsica but does not love this Ved, who, to her, seems to be an ordinary human being, bogged down by the harsh realities of a humdrum life.

Devastated at being spurned by Tara, Ved starts faltering at work and is ultimately dismissed by his boss. He now begins soul-searching. Was the Ved of Corsica the real Ved? Was he happy doing the job he was doing in India or was he only acting under parental and societal pressure? Given to hearing stories from a story-teller in his childhood, Ved now goes back to the story-teller to find out the ending of his story.

Does the story-teller help him find the ending of his story? Does Ved unite with Tara? Or has she gone away from his life forever?

Imtiaz Ali’s story is quite different from the usual love stories because both the characters begin their friendship on the foundation of lies and both agree on this. While this is novel, it doesn’t make much sense because there is not enough justification to speak lies. Since the two are convinced that they would never meet once they had left Corsica, they could, as well, have spoken the truth to one another. This premise of starting a relationship on the basis of lies will not go down well with the general audience. Yes, it may excite a section of the class and youth audience but the larger chunk of the audience – rest of the classes and youth, masses, families – will either not understand the premise or will fail to appreciate it. This large chunk of the viewers will keep feeling troubled by the premise throughout the drama.

Imtiaz Ali has penned a screenplay which, like the story, caters to only a section of the audience – and that section does not even comprise the entire youth or the entire class audience. The portion, in the second half, when Ved goes haywire after the break-up, will bore the audience no end. The soul-searching drama becomes too philosophical for the general viewer’s taste. Therefore, even though there are entertaining and light moments throughout the drama, including the portion of soul-searching, the audience does not enjoy it in its entirety. The sequence of Ved narrating his story to his father, mother and grandmother and the sequence of Ved discussing his story with the story-tell­er are particularly very boring. Tara disappearing from the scene for a long time in the post-interval portion will not go down well with the audience, especially because she has made a place for herself in their hearts by then.

If the viewers can’t empathise with Ved completely, they can’t even agree with Tara’s stance. After all, if, as Tara wants, Ved were to always be the fun-loving, free-spirited guy he turned out to be in Corsica, what would he do for a living? Tara is not shown to have an answer to this but the question does trouble the viewers. So, in effect, the viewer ends up sympathising with neither of the two lovers, something which can prove quite disastrous for a love story.

The light scenes in the drama are, of course, entertaining. In fact, the classes and a section of the young audience will find the comic portions very funny. But the same comedy might appear too dull for a lot many viewers among the masses and even among one section of the youth.

Imtiaz Ali’s dialogues are very real and appealing.

Ranbir Kapoor does an exceptionally fine job of Ved. He looks the character and performs brilliantly. If he is endearing in the light scenes, he is superbly natural in the dramatic and serious ones. He has looked very handsome. His dances are graceful. Deepika Padukone is remarkable in the role of Tara. She excels in the acting department and looks gorgeous. Special mention must be made of her excellent voice modulation. Deepika’s clothes are just too lovely. She, too, dances very gracefully. Jawed Sheikh is suitably restrained as Ved’s father. As Ved’s grandmother, Sushma Seth does not get much scope. Piyush Mishra does well as the story-teller. Vivek Mushran evokes laughter as Ved’s boss. He has some really funny scenes. Teddy Maurya, Nikhil Bhagat, Aparajita Sharma, Ishwaq Singh and the others provide decent support.

Imtiaz Ali’s direction is sensitive. But, like his script, his narrative style will also appeal only to one section of the audience. Too many flashbacks confuse the viewers. Also, the pace of the drama is slow in the second half. A.R. Rahman’s music is good but that’s just not enough for this love story. It needed to be super-hit. Further, the songs have not become popular enough with the listeners. ‘Heer toh badi sad hai’, ‘Matargashtiyaan’ and ‘Agar tum saath ho’ are appealing numbers. Irshad Kamil’s lyrics are weighty. Song picturisations (by Bosco-Caesar and Ashley Lobo) are nice. A.R. Rahman’s background music is lovely. S. Ravi Verman’s cinematography is extraordinary. The foreign locations (Corsica) are heavenly. Acropolis’ production designing and Manini Mishra’s art direction are superb. Aarti Bajaj’s editing is crisp.

On the whole, Tamasha is a disapp­ointing fare for a large chunk of the audience. It will find favour with a section of the city youth and class audiences but that will be grossly insufficient to recover the investment in the film. It will, therefore, entail heavy losses to all concerned.

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Fox Star Studios and Rajshri Productions (P.) Ltd.’s Prem Ratan Dhan Payo is a family drama. It is the story of a prince, a princess and a commoner.
Yuvraj Vijay Singh (Salman Khan) is a prince who lives in Pritampur. He is engaged to be married to princess Maithili (Sonam Kapoor) of Devgadh, who is a free-spirited girl with her family values intact. Maithili runs an NGO, Uphaar Foundation, which helps the poor. In another town lives Prem (Salman Khan), better known as Prem Dilwala because of his large-heartedness. He and his bosom pal, Kanhai­ya (Deepak Dobriyal), act in Ram Leela stage shows. Prem also contributes to Uphaar by collecting money from those who can afford to donate.

Vijay Singh has a step-brother, Ajay Singh (Neil Nitin Mukesh), who was born to his father (Sameer Dharmadhikari) and another woman. Vijay Singh also has two step-sisters, Chandrika (Swara Bhaskar) and Radhika (Aashika Bhatia), from another of his late father’s alliances. Although Vijay Singh cares and loves his step-siblings and wants to stay together with them in peace and harmony, just as his late father had hoped, he is aware that they are against him for different reasons. Ajay Singh resents the fact that as per their late father’s wishes, every bill of his has to be passed by elder brother Vijay Singh. Chandrika and Radhika hate Vijay Singh because they are extremely bitter about the fact that their mother never got to live in the palace and now, they don’t have money to lead the luxurious life being led by Vijay Singh. Since Chandrika is a self-respecting girl, she works in a school in Pritampur to make ends meet.

Preparations are afoot for Vijay Singh’s raj tilak. Maithili is due to attend the same at Pritampur. Prem gets wind of this and sets out for Pritampur with friend Kanhaiya just so that he can personally hand over the donation money to Maithili whom he admires.
Here, in Pritampur, Vijay Singh meets with a life-threatening accident. Although doctors manage to save his life, he is unconscious and it is clear that he would not be up on his feet for his own raj tilak. The royal diwan (Anupam Kher) and the royal chief security officer (Deepraj Rana) are among the few loyalists of the palace who have Vijay Singh and the royal family’s good at heart. They hide the fact about Vijay Singh’s accident from the world as it would create a bad impression on the foreign media and guests from the world over, who are expected to attend the raj tilak ceremony. They don’t intend to even reveal the news of the accident to Maithili.

Seeing the very similar-looking Prem Dilwala in Pritampur, the diwan and the security officer prepare him to pose as Vijay Singh not just in front of Maithili but also before the world till the real Vijay Singh is fine and ready to come in front of the world. Maithili, who has not been happy with Vijay Singh’s ways – probably because Vijay Singh himself has been extremely worked up about the tension in his family – begins to see a marked change in his behaviour and attitude. Of course, that’s because what she is getting to see is Prem’s humane side which she mistakes to be Vijay Singh’s transformation. Maithili now begins to love ‘Vijay Singh’ like never before. On his part, the conscientious Prem is aware of his limits and refrains himself from getting too close to her.
Soon, Prem learns of the tension in the royal family and takes it upon himself to bring the family together again. But as if this itself is not a Herculean task, Vijay Singh is kidnapped by step-brother Ajay Singh.

Will Prem be able to ensure Vijay Singh’s freedom or will Ajay Singh kill his step-brother? Does Maithili get to know that the person she has begun to love is Prem and not Vijay Singh? Does Maithili marry Vijay Singh or Prem? Does the royal family unite and live happily ever after?

Sooraj Barjatya has written a story which may not have great novelty but it, nevertheless, has its heart in the right place. The drama has romance, light moments and superb family emotions. The first half gets a little boring at places as the real drama comes only after interval. But once the second half begins, the film moves like a rocket, consuming the viewers completely for its terrific emotional appeal. The screenplay, also penned by Sooraj Barjatya, is entertaining and engrossing, more for the family audience and the viewers in cities other than the metropolitan cities and for audiences in towns and villages but a bit less for the youngsters. If the light moments bring a smile on the audience’s lips and intermittent laughter too, the emotional scenes shake them and move them to tears. In particular, the following scenes will activate the tear ducts of the viewers for sure: the one in which Prem, posing as Vijay Singh, announces that he was not just giving up his palace for sisters Chandrika and Radhika but has also made them equal partners in all his businesses and co-owners in every single property of his; the scene in which Prem Dilwala advises Vijay Singh to be a good husband; the scene in which Vijay Singh and Prem argue about family as a unit; the one in which the Bhai-dooj festival is celebrated; and, most imp­ortantly, the scene in which Prem bursts into tears when the diwan tells him that he had not got married as he never had the time which got consumed in serving the king and his family. It would be appropriate to add here that the angle of Vijay Singh and his step-sisters is the best part of the film, besides the changing attitude of Maithili in her romantic drama. The climax is very touching and also extremely fulfilling. Aash Karan Atal’s dialogues are mind-blowing and many dramatic and serious ones are so profound that they touch the heart and leave an indelible mark on it.

Salman Khan looks like a million bucks in both the roles and acts like he has rarely acted before. The honesty and integrity on his face add so much to the two characters that they force the audience to believe in the drama. To say that he is extraordinary in emotional scenes would not be an exaggeration. His look with fondness when he, as Prem Dilwala, is bidding goodbye to Maithili from the car’s front seat is to die for. In the light scenes, he is just too endearing. All in all, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that he carries the film on his shoulders. Sonam Kapoor looks glamorous and acts well. She is especially good in the emotional scene in which she overhears the conversation between Vijay Singh and Prem Dilwala. Neil Nitin Mukesh does an ordinary job and doesn’t really add much to the character of Ajay Singh with his performance. Swara Bhaskar is first-rate, making every scene of hers truly good. Anupam Kher lives the role of the loyal royal diwan. He is very nice. Deepak Dobriyal is cute and has his moments. Aashika Bhatia makes her presence felt as Vijay Singh’s younger step-sister, Radhika. Deepraj Rana is dignified and efficient as the palace security chief. Armaan Kohli is average as the CEO of Vijay Singh and the scheming friend of Ajay Singh. His villainy doesn’t have the venom it needed to have. Samaira Rao, as Vijay Singh’s secretary, is alright. Suhasini Mulay leaves a mark in a very brief role in special appearance. Sameer Dharmadhikari is okay in a special appearance. Lata Saberwal Seth (as Chandrika’s mother), Karuna Pandey (as Maharani), Brijendra Kala, Vishwa Badola, Mukesh Bhatt (as Chhuttan), Gurpal Singh (as Sardarji), Sucheta Khanna (as Sardarni), S.M. Zaheer (as doctor), Mickey Makhija (as the second doctor), master Dhruv Vinay Kumar (as young Vijay Singh), master Darsheel Vinay Kumar (as young Ajay Singh), baby Miraya Suri (as young Chandrika) and baby Hridaan V. Surana (as young Radhika) lend able support.

Sooraj Barjatya’s direction is splendid. He has handled the film with the maturity, understanding and sensitivity needed for such a drama. His honesty is reflected in every single scene of the film. He has extracted great work from out of his hero and has catered completely to the family audience. But in the process, he will lose out on a part of the youth audience which may not be able to identify with a pure character like that of Prem Dilwala and with so much of family drama. It must be added here that the traditional audience, which frequents cinemas once in, say, five or seven years, will find the film made to their liking. Music (Himesh Reshammiya) is good but, again, it caters to the fam­ily audience rather than the youth. The title song, of course, is already a major hit and it will soon become the wedding song of the season. ‘Jalte diye’, ‘Jab tum chaho’ and a couple of other songs are melodious. Irshad Kamil’s lyrics are truly superb. Shabina Khan’s choreography in the title track is extra­ordinary. Her choreography of the other songs and the choreography by Radhika Rao-Vinay Sapru in one song and by Ahmed Khan in another song is appropriate. Himesh Reshammiya and Sanjoy Chowdhury’s background music is just too brilliant. V. Manikandan’s camerawork is marvellous. Nitin Chandrakant Desai’s sets are opulent. Action scenes, choreographed by Greg Powell and Kaushal-Moses, are appropriate. Sanjay Sankla’s editing is crisp.

On the whole, Prem Ratan Dhan Payo will be loved by one section of the audience and will not find favour with youngsters initially, but it will, in the final tally, emerge as a comfortable box-office winner for all concerned. It will do huge business at the ticket windows. Despite its high cost (investment of Fox is to the tune of Rs. 235 crore), profits are assured. In fact, the film may go on to earn very well if the ladies audi­ence patronises it in a big way – which is a very big possibility.

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Is It The Clash Of Big Films Or Big Egos On 18th December?

The trade is still hoping that one of the two films – Dilwale and Bajirao Mastani – would be postponed so that the big clash on 18th December is averted.

I have seen around 50 minutes of Shah Rukh Khan and Rohit Shetty’s Dilwale. I have also seen the trailer and the song of Sanjay Leela Bhansali and Eros International’s Bajirao Mastani. Both the films hold promise of clicking at the box-office in a very big way. There is every reason to believe that Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol’s romance in Dilwale will appeal to the audience this time also as it has done so often in the past. Varun Dhawan brings in the youth factor in Rohit Shetty’s film and one doesn’t need to emphasise how popular he is among the youth today. Shah Rukh and Rohit have delivered a blockbuster in Chennai Express and so, what prevents one from assuming that Dilwale will surpass the business of Chennai Express?

Likewise, Sanjay Leela Bhansali, known for his sensitively-handled love stories and his ostentatious sets, seems to have surpassed himself in Bajirao Mastani if the trailer and visuals of the first song are any indication. He gave Ranveer Singh his first 100-crore film in Ram-Leela. There’s again every reason to assume that the filmmaker will outdo himself with Bajirao Mastani, starring the very Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukone with Priyanka Chopra in a full-fledged role this time as against a special appearance in a song-dance in Ram-Leela.

If that’s how things stand today, why are all – Shah Rukh Khan, Rohit Shetty, Kishore Lulla and Sanjay Leela Bhansali – bent on not realising the full potential of their own film? Nobody will dispute the fact that a simultaneous release will adversely affect collections of both the films. If Shah Rukh can’t claim that the opposition of Bajirao Mastani will not make a dent in the business of his films, Sanjay Bhansali, too, cannot overlook the danger of releasing his film in direct opposition of Dilwale. One may argue that Gadar Ek Prem Katha and Lagaan had both hit the screens on the same day in 2001 (June 15) and had both proved hits, so what’s the problem in releasing Dilwale and Bajirao Mastani on 18th December? But times are different today because multiplexes (which didn’t exist in 2001) bring in the maximum moolah at the box-office nowadays. Also, business today happens in two or three weeks flat and, therefore, a big film needs to open in the maximum number of shows in multiplexes to realise its true potential.

Eros International and Bhansali may argue that they had announced 18th December as the release date of Bajirao Mastani before Shah Rukh declared that he’d bring his Dilwale on that date. Eros and Bhansali may, therefore, feel that nobody can ask them to shift their release; if anybody should be moving, it is the makers of Dilwale. On his part, Shah Rukh may rewind back to the time when his Om Shanti Om had clashed with Bhansali’s Saawariya and the box-office results were there for all to see. The superstar may, therefore, argue that he has no reason to budge from the release date of December 18, never mind if he announced it after Bajirao Mastani.

Both the arguments make sense. But does that mean that both the films should stick to the release date and eat into each other’s collections by hitting the screens on the same day? Not at all!

We are talking about releasing two potential hits, not a case in the court of law. Logic comes in handy in arguing cases in courts, business sense is what should be of paramount importance in matters of finance. And whether Shah Rukh, Bhansali, Lulla or Rohit Shetty like it or not, they have to put logic aside and think of their own interest first.

The situation being what it is, who then should move from the date which, thanks to the two big films scheduled for release, seems to have become so important that one would assume, December 18 is the day when Diwali, Eid and ten more festivals fall together!?!

Before offering a solution, let it be said loudly and clearly that the question of finding a solution has arisen only and only because both, Dilwale and Bajirao Mastani, look like huge potential hits. If one of the two films was not promising enough, there would be no question of seeking a solution because there wouldn’t be any perceived problem. The trade would be putting its bets on the film which would seem to be the dark horse and would actually be pitying the expected fate of the weaker film. But that’s not the case. Everyone in the trade feels that both the films are dark horses, that both need clear fields to realise their fullest potential.

Unless something goes drastically wrong, Dilwale will be the first choice of more people, and even Lulla or Bhansali cannot deny this fact. Deepika, Ranveer and Priyanka make for a formidable trio and if they are cast in a Bhansali film, they’d, of course, be ten times more appealing but can they be more exciting than Shah Rukh, Kajol, Varun Dhawan and Rohit Shetty? Doubtful.

That being so, why would Kishore Lulla and Sanjay Leela Bhansali want to harm their own film by clashing with a film which seems – to the paying public – bigger than their own film. Please note, one is talking only of public perception here because before the films are released, the public has only its perception (based on what it has seen by way of trailers and heard by way of the film’s music) to fall back upon and decide which film it will watch first. More will opt for Dilwale than Bajirao Mastani. In the ultimate analysis, any of the two films could prove to be bigger and better than the other. But initially, perception-wise, nobody can deny that Dilwale will be the first choice for more people than Bajirao Mastani. This logic should be enough – no, not to scare Lulla and Bhansali (because the reports of the trailer and songs of Bajirao Mastani are indeed exceptional) but to make them take a rational decision to change their release date. There’s nothing to feel defeated or small or shameful about if they do shift the release date. Nobody, not even Shah Rukh or Shetty would view this, if the postponement of Bajirao Mastani happens – as it should – as a move on the part of the producers taken under fear or pressure. This would rather be an intelligent business decision which Lulla and Bhansali would live to cherish all their lives. Forget Dilwale or Shah Rukh or Rohit Shetty, the makers of Bajirao Mastani would be doing their own film and the trade the biggest favour by getting their film to the cinemas on a different date.

Frankly, every single distributor of Dilwale and Bajirao Mastani is unhappy that both the films would be clashing at the ticket windows. Every multiplex chain, every single-screen cinema in the country is hoping for a ‘miracle’ to happen and one of the two films to be shifted ahead. Ideally, a big multiplex may want to give Dilwale 35 or 40 shows a day in the first week. The same big multiplex may want to offer Bajirao Mastani around 20 or more shows per day in the week of release. How many multiplexes in India will be able to do that? In other words, how many multiplexes have the capacity for 60 or more shows per day? Hardly any! That itself should be reason enough for Bajirao Mastani to move away from 18th December and opt for either December 25 or January 22, 2016 (Republic Day week).

Although the trade is waiting with bated breath for the ‘miracle’ to happen, it is hardly going to be a miracle if it does indeed happen. For, it’s pure, simple and unadulterated business logic and nothing more than that. But yes, if it does happen, the troubled trade will definitely consider Lulla and Bhansali as the Gods who came to their rescue!

Komal Nahta

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Fox Star Studios, Dharma Productions and Phantom’s Shaandaar (UA) is a romantic comedy. Jagjinder Joginder (Shahid Kapoor) is a wedding organiser. He is in charge of the wedding of Esha Arora (Sanah Kapoor) with Robin Fundwani (Vikas Verma). Esha is the daughter of Bipin Arora (Pankaj Kapur) and Neetu (Niki Walia) and the grand-daughter of Kamla Arora (Sushma Seth) who is tyrannical, to say the least. Robin is the brother of Harry Fundwani (Sanjay Kapoor). Alia (Alia Bhatt) is the adopted daughter of Bipin Arora. Kamla Arora hates Alia and loses no opportunity to insult and humiliate her.

As luck would have it, both, Alia and Jagjinder Joginder, are insomniacs. Bipin Arora loves both his daughters and is very sad that Alia can’t sleep. In the hope that she’d be able to sleep some day and, therefore, dream too, he keeps sketching dreams for her on paper and gifts those precious pieces of paper to her. Since Alia and Jagjinder find it impossible to sleep, they bond at nights while Esha’s wedding celebrations are on. Bipin Arora, the possessive father that he is, hates Alia bonding with Jagjinder whom he can’t stand even otherwise.

It soon emerges that Robin has been pressurised by his money-minded brother, Harry, to marry Esha who is rather obese. Harry Fundwani, who holds himself out to be a multi-millionaire but is actually broke, thinks that the Aroras have a lot of money and they would financially help him and his family once the mar­riage is solemnised. On her part, Kamla Arora, the authoritarian head of the Arora family, also views the wedding as just a business deal. She assumes that Harry Fundwani is loaded with money and this marriage would change the fortunes of the Arora family which, unknown to the Fundwanis, is bankrupt. So, clearly, it is a marriage of convenience for the two families. While Esha is ready to sacrifice for the sake of her family by getting married to a boy who is clearly not of her liking, Robin shows his displeasure with the compromise he has made, by publicly humiliating Esha for her obesity, often reducing her to tears.

What happens then? Does Esha marry Robin or not? Does Robin accept her as his wife? Does Bipin Arora come to his helpless daughter, Esha’s rescue or is he too scared of his mother’s iron hand and acidic tongue to stand up for his daughter? Do Alia and Jagjinder get cured of their insomnia? Does Bipin Arora let Alia marry Jagjinder?

Vikas Bahl and Chaitally Parmar have written a story which borders on the impossible but it has its heart in the right place. Characters are exaggerated but because it is designed as a comedy, the audiences, especially youngsters, enjoy them and their antics/behaviour/mannerisms. Anvita Dutt has penned a screenplay which caters completely to the youth and the city audience. The catchword in her screenplay is entertainment and she manages to evoke laughter at many places. Credit must be given to the story and screenplay writers for having added emotional undercurrents in the seemingly fun drama. The emotions touch the right chord and a couple of them could even make the weak-hearted cry. As for the funny sequences, there are many to make the audience laugh and even guffaw sometimes. For instance, the track of bridegroom Robin devoted to exposing his vanity is supremely enjoyable. Equally entertaining is the track of Kamla Arora. The ‘Mehndi With Karan’ sequence is another highlight. The romance between Jagjinder and Alia is breezy and touches the heart. All in all, the film has a lot for the youth of the cities. It may not cater to the audi­ence of the single-screen cinemas and the small centres but what it offers to the city-bred youngsters is very entertaining, enjoyable and engrossing.

Anvi­ ta Dutt’s dialogues are excellent and will appeal greatly to the youth in the cities.

Shahid Kapoor looks very handsome and plays Jagjinder Joginder with effortless ease. He makes his character very endearing with a lovely performance. If he is natural as ever in the romantic and fun sequences, he also holds his own in the serious ones. Needless to add, his dances are supremely graceful. Alia Bhatt shines in a role tailor-made for her. She is cute and endearing and goes through her role like a seasoned performer. It must be added that Alia has worked beautifully on her dancing and she is grace personified in the dances. She looks very pretty. Pankaj Kapur is extraordinary as Bipin Arora. He adds the right amount of spunk to his role. Sushma Seth is excellent as the strict and foul-mouthed head of the Arora family. Sanjay Kapoor has his moments as the extra-loud Sindhi, Harry Fundwani. Sanah Kapur makes a wonderful debut as Esha Arora. She seems to be a born actor. She gets her expressions very right and her acting belies the fact that this is her maiden film. Vikas Verma does quite well as Robin. Niki Walia lends fair support. Karan Johar, playing himself, is first-rate in the ‘Mehndi With Karan’ sequence. Kamlesh Gill leaves a mark as Jagjinder’s boss. Teena Vellara (as Ria) and Tessa Vellara (as Pia) entertain with their comedy. Sagar Arya makes his presence felt in the role of Vipul Arora. Anjana Sukhani (as Harry’s wife), Chittaranjan Tripathi (as Vinay Arora), Shalini Chandran (as Meetu), Kabir Sajid (as Babla), Ninaz Khodaji (as Indu Arora) and Lucky Farid (as Sunny Arora) are adequate. Naseeruddin Shah’s commentary adds value.

Vikas Bahl’s direction is very fresh. He knows the pulse of the youth and caters to them with a racy narrative style. Another good thing about his direction is that he moves from one mood to another pretty fast. His use of animated characters to move the story forward is excellent. Amit Trivedi’s music is lovely. ‘Gulabo’, ‘Raita phail gaya’ and ‘Shaam shandaar’ are hit songs. ‘Nazdeekiyan’ has melody and the qawwali is enjoyable in its own way, primarily because of the lovely lyrics (Amitabh Bhattacharya). Lyrics of the other songs (Amitabh Bhattacharya; ‘Gulabo’ song by Anvita Dutt) are very nice. Choreography of the songs, by Bosco and Caesar, is young and simply too eye-catching. The choreography in the old super-hit song, ‘Eena Meena Deeka’, which is picturised on Shahid Kapoor and Alia Bhatt, is extraordinary. Amit Trivedi’s background music is nice. Anil Mehta does a very fine job as cinematographer. Amrita Mahal Nakai’s production designing is of a very good standard. Sanchari Das Mollick’s editing is sharp.

On the whole, Shaandaar is an entertaining film and will be loved by the youth, especially in the cities. It will emerge amply victorious at the box-office on the strength of youth patronage. Business in the good multiplexes will be excellent but that in the lesser multiplexes and less-maintained single-screen cinemas will be below the mark.

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Eros International and GR8 Entertainment’s Wedding Pullav (UA) is a love story. Adi (Diganth Manchale) and Anushka (Anushka Ranjan) are very close friends. Adi is due to get engaged to Rhea (Sonali Seygal). He is thrilled when Anushka makes it for the engagement ceremony at the last moment. Even as preparations are on for the grand wedding a few days later, it is decided by Anushka’s family that her marriage with boyfriend J (Karan V. Grover) should also be solemnised at the same time. J comes from abroad for his wedding.

The functions leading to the two weddings and the time the people spend together makes both, Adi and Anushka, realise that they actually are more than just good friends, that they love one another. Some elders in the families of Adi and Anushka also realise this and so do Rhea and J. But nobody is willing to say this. Probably, Adi is too indebted to Rhea’s father, Kumar (Parmeet Sethi), for having given him a chance to realise his long-cherished dream of designing a motorcycle and hence cannot muster courage to call off his impending marriage with Rhea. On her part, Rhea loves Adi so much that she is in denial mode and wants to dismiss off the sparks between Adi and Anushka as nothing more than two friends being very close to one another. Anushka is hesitant to make the first move.

What happens thereafter? Are the marriages stalled or do they get solemnised as per plans? Does anybody try to present the real picture before the rest? Who is he/she?

Pooja Verma’s story is oft-repeated and moves on the predictable path without offering any novelty. The screenplay, written by Shashi Ranjan, Pooja Verma and Rahul Patel, is as routine as routine can be. The elders in the families of Adi and Anushka realise that both are in love with one another but they, quite stupidly, refuse to come forward and stop the impending catastrophe if the two were to marry the persons they are slated to marry. Why any concerned elder in the family would behave so weirdly is not explained. Again, Adi meets Anushka one evening to pour his heart out, but the latter – aware of what he has in mind – gets irritated at a minor aberration and walks away without letting him tell her what she, in the first place, was dying to hear. It is scenes like these which put the audience off the drama. Although Luv Kapoor (Rishi Kapoor) is not a family member, his proactive participation in trying to solve the mess looks a bit uncalled for, especially when the family members maintain an uncalled for silence. What’s more, the film starts on a light note but becomes so heavy in the second half that it seems difficult for the newcomers to shoulder its burden. The audience does not sympathise with any character and, therefore, does not root for anyone – something which is a big minus point in a love story. Even otherwise, the film does not have the fun and frolic of a youthful love story made with newcomers. Bharat Kukreti’s dialogues are routine.

Anushka Ranjan makes an ordinary debut. She looks fair and her performance is average. Diganth Manchale also makes a lacklustre debut. He doesn’t have the traditional looks of a hero. His acting is okay. Sonali Seygal is alright and makes her mark in a couple of emotional scenes. Karan V. Grover is mechanical. He looks okay. Rishi Kapoor is earnest. Satish Kaushik is natural. Himani Shivpuri makes her presence felt. Parmeet Sethi leaves a mark. Kitu Gidwani is good. Upasna Singh adds energy in her scenes. Aru Verma is good as Petha. In the role of Batli, Ali Khan passes muster. Neha Tomar is passable as Nikki. Tripta Lakhanpal is endearing in the role of Bijji. Aparna Ghosal (as Shammi), Radha Khandelwal (as Pammi), Julia Bruchwitz (as Roxy), Joe (as Derek, friend of J), Elena (as Paula, friend of J), Sumant Bhatia (as Khurana) and Harpreet Sethi (as Khurana’s son) provide dull support.

Binod Pradhan’s direction relies heavily on the tried and tested style of narration. Of course, the unexciting script is also a handicap he has to contend with in his maiden film as director. Salim-Sulaiman’s music is a plus point. The party songs are fast-paced while the ‘O jaaniya’ song has melody. Irfan Siddique’s lyrics are alright. Pony Verma’s choreography doesn’t add much to the songs. Rohit Kulkarni’s background music is functional. Gopal Shah’s cinematography is very nice. Kunal Bhandula and Bijon Dasgupta’s production designing is okay. Sayyed Sameer’s editing could have been much more sharp.

On the whole, Wedding Pullav will not find many takers because it is too routine, too predictable and too plastic. Flop.

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Viacom18 Motion Pictures and Panorama Studios’ Pyaar Ka Punchnama 2 (A) is the second in the Pyaar Ka Punchnama series. It is a comedy, based on the same premise as the first – that girls can mess up any and every relationship because of their self-centred nature. Anshul alias Go Go (Kartik Aaryan), Siddharth alias Chauka (Sunny Singh Nijjar) and Tarun alias Thakur (Omkar Kapoor) are bosom pals living together in a rented house. Cupid strikes all the three around the same time.

Anshul meets Ruchika alias Chiku (Nushrat Bharucha) at a party and sparks fly between them. Ruchika is self-centred to the core and she has different rules for herself and for the rest of the world. Siddharth falls head over heels in love with Supriya (Sonali Seygal) whom he meets at a wedding. Supriya reciprocates his romantic overtures and although she has no courage to tell her parents (Sharat Saxena and Mona Ambegaonkar) about her affair, she continues to date Siddharth. Meanwhile, Supriya’s par­ents, treating him as a dear friend, use him to do all their household work and, because he is an engineer, also get their electronic and electrical gadgets repaired from him. Tarun dates Kusum (Ishita Sharma) who pretends to be very clean and clear in money matters but doesn’t miss a chance to blow up Tarun’s money. She is so money-minded that she keeps poisoning Tarun’s mind against his two friends as far as finances go.

The party for all the three friends is on the verge of getting over after some courtship time.

Ruchika has a friend, Sunny (Manvir Singh), coming and staying over with her after a breakup and she starts ignoring Anshul while looking after Sunny. Why, she has no qualms even about sleeping on the same bed as Sunny. To add to Anshul’s woes are Ruchika’s friends, Tina (Karishma Sharma) and Ruchi (Rumana Mola), who keep filling her ears against him.

Siddharth realises that Supriya will never muster courage to tell her parents about him even though the parents have started groom-hunting for her. She keeps meeting prospective grooms, even exchanging text messages with them on her cellphone while all the time professing her love for Siddharth. But when her father complains against Siddharth to the police, Supriya has no spine to stand up for him.

Kusum drives Tarun nuts with her greed and selfish nature. She uses the same friends, whom she bad-mouths in front of Tarun, to make Tarun see her viewpoint.

What happens thereafter? Do all the three friends reconcile their differences with their respective girlfriends? Or is only one of them lucky? Or do two of them tide over the difficult times?

Luv Ranjan has come up with a fresh story although the premise is the same as in Pyaar Ka Punch­nama. The story flows seamlessly and the characterisations are so superbly written that just ten minutes into the film, and one falls in love with the endearing characters of Anshul, Siddharth and Tarun. Rahul Mody, Tarun Jain and Luv Ranjan’s screenplay is fantastic. For one, it keeps the audience engrossed and entertained right from the word ‘go’. Secondly, although the premise is the same as in the first film, nowhere does it appear to be exactly like the first film. Thirdly, the comedy is so fresh that the viewers have a truly fun time watching the drama unfold on the screen. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that the audience feels completely entertained, thanks to the outstanding comedy. At several times, the drama offers laugh-a-minute comic scenes which bring the house down with laughter. The lengthy monologue by Anshul is a clap-worthy highlight. The scene in which Siddharth sums up, in just two words, what he thinks about Supriya, at the police station, is another highlight scene and will be met with thunderous applause in the cinema halls. The good part about the screenplay is that nothing in the drama looks forced or contrived. Rather, it is a very free-flowing screenplay with fresh situations and comedy galore. Rahul Mody, Tarun Jain and Luv Ranjan’s dialogues are extraordinary, and the use of the language and words is so contemporary that the youth will simply adore them while identifying with them. Although a lot of swear words have been beeped by the CBFC, that doesn’t seem irritating because the beep sounds tickle the audience which understands what word has been beeped while not embarrassing the family audience.

Kartik Aaryan has an endearing and innocent face and his acting goes well with that. He absolutely shines in the role of Anshul. Sunny Singh Nijjar is cute and natural to the core. He does a fantastic job as Siddharth. Omkar Kapoor is lovely in the role of Tarun, adding the right amount of maturity to his role. He dances very gracefully. Nushrat Bharucha is excellent as Ruchika and adds a good amount of zing to her character. She looks glamorous. Sonali Seygal exudes oomph and performs very beautifully. Ishita Sharma is sexy and acts with effortless ease, leaving a distinct mark. Her solo dance is also lovely. Sharat Saxena makes his presence felt with a fine show. Mona Ambegaonkar provides very good support. Manvir Singh has his moments as Ruchika’s heartbroken friend, Sunny. Rumana Mola (as Ruchi) and Karishma Sharma (as Tina) lend excellent support. Amit Arora (as Pankaj), Swarna Mamgain (as Supriya’s friend), Kanwal (as Siddharth’s friend) and Vini Bakshi (as Ruchika’s maid) provide the required support.

Luv Ranjan’s direction is praiseworthy. He has not only extracted wonderful work out of his cast but has also kept a fast-paced narrative style which keeps the audience thoroughly entertained. Credit is due to him for making a second film on the same premise as the first and yet not making it a copy of the first. Music (Hitesh Sonik; one song, ‘Sharabi’, by Sharib-Toshi) is good but not hit. Lyrics (by Kumaar, Akram Sabri, Danish Sabri, Hitesh Sonik and Luv Ranjan) are lovely and complement the mood of the film. Choreography (by Bosco Martis, Caesar Gonsalves and Howard Rosemeyer) is eye-filling. Hitesh Sonik’s background music is excellent. Sudhir K. Chaudhary’s camerawork deserves distinction marks. Rajat Poddar’s production designing and Kailash Sahu’s art direction are of a good standard. Editing (by Akiv Ali and Ajay Sharma) is crisp and sharp.

On the whole, Pyaar Ka Punchnama 2 is a small film which will prove to be big at the box-office. Its comedy will keep the youngsters and young at heart in splits and, therefore, its distributors smiling from ear to ear. A sure­ fire hit!

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Zee Studios, Viiking Media & Entertainment Pvt. Ltd. and White Feather Films’ Jazbaa (UA) is a thriller. Anuradha Verma (Aishwarya Rai Bachchan) is a single mother and a celebrated lawyer who has a fantastic track record. She has the reputation of winning court cases and has got acquitted several hardcore criminals too. For her clients, she can adopt any means, fair or unfair.

Anuradha gets a strange phone call one day, asking her to represent incarcerated criminal Niyaz Khan (Chandan Roy Sanyal) and anyhow ensure his bail. Niyaz has raped and murdered Sia (Priya Banerjee), daughter of Garima Chaudhry (Shabana Azmi). The caller informs Anuradha that her little daughter, Sanaya (Sara Arjun), has been kidnapped and she would be set free only if Niyaz Khan is granted bail by the court.

Anuradha is devastated and she has very few days to accomplish the task in court, to save her daughter. Decorated but now suspended police officer Yohan Khan (Irrfan Khan), who is a dear friend of Anuradha, helps her in her mission. He introduces her as a writer, to Garima so that Anuradha can extract details about the fateful night when Sia was killed. All along, the intention is to get evidence which can ensure Niyaz Khan’s freedom so that little Sanaya is returned safely to Anuradha. The pressure on Anuradha is mounting as the phone calls from her daughter’s abductors continue.

The court case begins. As arguments progress, Anuradha Verma proves in the court that besides Niyaz, there was another man in Sia’s house on the fateful night and that man was Sam (Siddhanth Kapoor), son of politician Mahesh Maklai (Jackie Shroff). She presents the events of the night in such a way that it appears that either of Niyaz or Sam could have murdered Sia. Even while she is arguing her case in court, she is surprised to see a criminal (Abhimanyu Singh) whom she had saved in an earlier court case, present Sam in court. Much to the embarrassment of his father, Sam admits in court that he had brought home Sia’s dead body which was then disposed of by his father. The court now orders the arrest of Sam and politician Mahesh Maklai.

Does Niyaz Khan get bail? Does Sanaya return home safely? Who is the person behind the telephone calls to Anuradha Verma? Why does the person want Niyaz Khan to be set free from prison?

The film is based on Shin-Yeon Won’s Seven Days. Sanjay Gupta and Robin Bhatt have penned a screenplay which is full of holes. No doubt, there are thrilling moments which leave the audience stunned but the flaws in the screenplay question the very foundation of the script and make the thrilling scenes look like small change. Anuradha Verma, right in her introductory scene, is shown as a lawyer who can go to any lengths to defend her client – and this, even if the client is a hardened criminal – and this is a well-known fact. That being so, what was the need for the kidnapper to abduct Anuradha’s daughter? Even without the abduction, Anuradha would’ve taken up Niyaz Khan’s case and tried her best to secure bail for him for a fee, of course. What’s more, law gives every lawyer the right to fight for his/her client irrespective of whether the client is the guilty/accused or the complainant. Had Anuradha Verma been an upright lawyer and had she refused to take up Niyaz Khan’s case, the kidnapping of Sanaya to pressurise her to take up Niyaz Khan’s case would’ve made sense. But the writers have made it amply clear before the abduction that Anuradha has no qualms about arguing for criminals and winning cases on their behalf. Also, Anuradha Verma could only argue the case in court, the judgement would still be for the judge to deliver. Wouldn’t it be more worthwhile for the kidnapper to abduct a family member of the judge rather than an even otherwise willing lawyer?

Again, when the identity of the kidnapper is revealed towards the end, the audience is left wondering why the kidnapper had to pretend to be in favour of a death sentence for Niyaz Khan while working towards securing his bail. Obviously, the drama has been built solely for confusing the audience, not any character/s in the drama. Anybody with even very basic knowledge of screenplay writing would agree that this is one of the most silly ways to write a screenplay. Even otherwise, the revelation of the suspense in the end has only academic interest because all that had to happen has already happened even without the identity of the kidnapper being revealed. For all the audience could care, the kidnapper could’ve been anyone!

Another drawback of the screenplay is that the emotional part of the drama – after all, a lawyer has to win a court case to ensure that her little daughter is alive – fails to move the viewers. The angle of the kidnapped Sanaya takes a backseat post-interval and this has a negative effect on the minds of the audiences who get to see a super-confident Anuradha arguing in court as if she was under no great pressure. What the writers could not bring out in the courtroom drama is mother Anuradha Verma’s mental trauma. Yohan Khan’s character is more of a catalyst than anything else and considering that the character is played by Irrfan Khan, his fans will feel disappointed because he doesn’t have any heroic scenes.

Kamlesh Pandey’s dialogues are very good. In fact, the dialogues he has written for Yohan Khan are truly entertaining and, to an extent, make up for the terribly weak screenplay of Sanjay Gupta and Robin Bhatt.

Aishwarya Rai Bachchan acts well but does go overboard in some scenes, mainly those in which she is required to scream and cry. Irrfan Khan once again delivers a lovely performance, making his presence felt wonderfully despite playing just a catalyst. Shabana Azmi leaves a mark as Garima. Chandan Roy Sanyal is effective but gets limited scope. Atul Kulkarni has his moments. Abhimanyu Singh is natural. Jackie Shroff makes his mark in a special appearance. Siddhanth Kapoor is quite nice as Sam. Priya Banerjee is okay as Sia. Sara Arjun lends decent support in the role of little Sanaya. Shivraj Walvekar is lovely as ACP Rokde. Deeksha Kaushal (as the dancer in the discotheque), Dadahi Raj (as Parmar), Ankur Vikal (as Vijay), Pramod Pathak (as Satnam), Sangeeta Kanhayat (as Nazia), Rajat Kaul (as Benny), Kaizad Kotwal (as Dr. Satish), Rajiv Kachroo (as Joe), Taran Bajaj (as Sunny Locksmith), Shahnawaz (as Ram) and Sanjay Gurbax Singh (as lawyer Boman) lend adequate support.

Sanjay Gupta’s direction fails to create the right kind of impact. He has concentrated too much on making a stylised film but that has not taken care of the emotional side of the drama which remains dull. Music (Sachin Jigar, Arko Pravo, Amjad-Nadeem and Badshah) is good but the manner in which the songs are incorporated in the film, it doesn’t do justice to them. For instance, the ‘Bandeya’ song (which is rather melodious) comes in the end rolling titles and that too, without visuals! Lyrics (Sanjay Gupta, Arko Pravo, Amjad-Nadeem and Badshah) are appropriate. Ahmed Khan’s choreography is alright. Amar Mohile’s background music is impactful. Sameer Arya uses his camera effectively to capture the drama. Javed-Aejaz’s action scenes are interesting. Wasiq Khan’s production designing is appropriate. Bunty Nagi’s editing is good but the fast cuts tell on the emotional impact of the drama.

On the whole, Jazbaa will fail to deliver at the box-office and will entail losses to all concerned. Class audiences may find the film interesting but that will just not be enough.

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