MASTI-ZAADE

Pritish Nandy Communication Productions’ Masti-Zaade (A) is the story of two sex addicts, Sunny Kele (Tusshar) and Aditya Chotia (Vir Das). While Tusshar falls in love with Laila Lele (Sunny Leone), friend Aditya is head over heels in love with Laila’s twin sister, Lily Lele (Sunny Leone). Laila and Lily are sexy girls who run a sex de-addiction centre. They are daughters of Seema (Sushmita Mukherjee) and U.R. Ashit (Asrani). While Ashit is obsessed with guns, Seema herself is a sex addict. Laila lusts for Sunny Kele and all she wants is to have a good time with him in bed. To make matters worse for Sunny, Laila’s pansy brother, Das (Suresh Menon), also lusts for him. Lily, on the other hand, is soon to get married to Deshpremi Singh (Shaad Randhawa) who is wheelchair-bound. But Sunny Kele and Aditya Chotia are not the ones to give up so easily because it is for the first time that they have fallen in true love.

Does Sunny get his lady love, Laila? And whom does Lily marry?

Milap Milan Zaveri and Mushtaq Shiekh have penned a pathetic story which is crass and embarrassingly obscene and vulgar. The story clearly seems to have been written merely to incorporate double-meaning scenes and dialogues as also to show female anatomy. Mushtaq Shiekh’s screenplay is equally terrible. The entire track of Laila and Lily’s sissy brother is irritating. Equally irritating are the tracks of the wheelchair-bound fiancé of Lily, and of Laila and Lily’s father (Asrani). The screenplay writer’s only aim seems to be to cater to the baser instincts of the audience but rather than succeeding in that, he ends up making the audience feel repulsed because the adult comedy is too much in your face. Laila and Lily and the other female actors are all treated as mere sex objects, which appears reprehensible. Rather than teasing or titillating the audience, the screenplay serves to put off the audience. Milap Milan Zaveri’s dialogues are actually sickening and will often be abhorred by the audience. Of course, the changes carried out at the certification stage are quite evident at several places.

Tusshar just doesn’t look the sex-addict character he plays because he looks too innocent. His performance is so-so. Vir Das often looks like fish out of water in the role of Aditya. His acting is also ordinary most of the times. Sunny Leone fails in the acting department in both the roles but lends a lot of sex appeal by exposing her assets. Asrani has a weak and inconsequential role; he just about passes muster. Shaad Randhawa’s track is hardly comical. Making him imitate yesteryear Bollywood heroes just doesn’t serve any purpose. Suresh Menon is too caricaturish to stand out. Sushmita Mukherjee is wasted. Ritesh Deshmukh hardly adds anything in a special appearance as both, Deep and Babagasm. Gizele Thakral leaves a mark in a special appearance as Titli Boobna. Viveck Vaswani barely makes his presence felt as the boss of Sunny and Aditya. Bruna Abdullah is ordina­ry in a guest appearance. Others pass muster.

Milap Milan Zaveri’s direction is rather weak. He seems to be under the mistaken belief that like his two heroes, the audience also has only sex on its mind all the time. The viewers would definitely have loved a film which would’ve teased them but this one leaves nothing to the imagination and says and shows so much that it actually becomes repulsive. Music (Meet Bros. Anjjan, Anand Raaj Anand and Amaal Malik) is quite good but there is not a single chart-bursting song. Lyrics (Kumaar, Anand Raaj Anand and Manoj Muntashir) are just about good enough to go with the requirements of the film. Mudassar Khan’s choreography is routine. Sanjay Chowdhury’s background music is commonplace. Sanjay F. Gupta’s cinematography is good. Narendra Rahurikar’s production designing is fair. Abbas Ali Mog­hul’s action direction is nothing to shout about. Nitin Madhukar Rokade’s editing is dull.

On the whole, Masti-Zaade is an adult comedy which fails to tickle the funny bone and also fails to titillate. Despite abundance of sex, this one will fall flat on its face because it is too obscene and in your face.

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SAALA KHADOOS

UTV Motion Pictures, Tricolour Films and Rajkumar Hirani Films’ Saala Khadoos (UA) is the story of a boxing coach and an ordinary fisherwoman who he trains to make a world champion.

Adi (R. Madhavan) is a boxing coach who trains girls. He is always at loggerheads with the wily head coach for women boxers, Dev Khatri (Zakir Hussain). While Adi is all for the boxing sport, Dev Khatri sexually exploits girls by misusing his position. To seek revenge on Adi, Dev Khatri has him transferred to Madras which is one of the weakest regions in India as far as the sport of women’s boxing is concerned.

In Madras, Adi sees potential in a fisherwoman, Madhi (Ritika Singh). Madhi’s sister, Laxmi (Mumtaz Sorcar), is actually training to be a boxer to gain entry into the police force in the sports quota. Adi, who is known for his acidic tongue and no-nonsense nature, would do anything for the love of boxing. He lures Madhi into the sport by actually paying her a daily allowance to train under him – and this be­ cause he sees in her the potential of a champion.

Madhi, initially reluctant, starts training under Adi and wins the inter-zonal tournament. She actually starts enjoying the sport and, in the process, falls in love with coach Adi who is old enough to be her father. Adi dismisses off her love as mere infatuation and asks her to be focussed in life. But Madhi’s sister, Laxmi, insecure as she is about her own career prospects and about not getting the same attention as Madhi from coach Adi, sees red in Madhi’s closeness to and fondness for Adi. Laxmi plays a cruel game because of which Madhi loses an important tournament. Unaware of the real reason for her defeat, Adi admonishes Madhi for performing so poorly and disowns her.

Soon thereafter, the lecherous Dev Khatri includes Madhi in a cultural exchange tournament and calls her to Delhi just so that he can get physical with her. Does Madhi give in to Dev’s machinations?

A turn of events lands Madhi in police custody but Adi bails her out. Realising that she still has the fire in her belly, he includes her name in the national selection tournament as a wild card entry. Does Madhi live up to the faith Adi has reposed in her? Does she qualify for the finals in the national tournament? Does she go on to compete in the international women’s boxing championship? Does Dev Khatri raise his evil head once again? When does this happen? And what does Dev actually do and why?

Sudha Kongara has written a heartwarming story about how a coach, for the love of the boxing sport, surmounts all obstacles to make a champion out of an ordinary fisherwoman in whom he sees a spark. The story may lack novelty value as it reminds of earlier sports films like Chak De! India but it still has its own graph, its own turns and twists and its own drama. The screenplay, penned by Sudha Kongara and Sunandha Raghunathan, with additional screenplay by Rajkumar Hirani and R. Madhavan, is engaging and engrossing. Its pace is fast because of which the viewers don’t get time to think and, in fact, keenly wait for the happenings to unfold. The track of the crack in the relationship between the two sisters is novel. The climax is quite exciting. The screenplay writers have kept an emotional thread running through the entire drama, which could moisten the eyes of the faint-hearted. The best part of the screenplay is that it is very real and makes the audiences forget that they are watching a film.

Dialogues, written by Manoj Tapadia and Amitabh S. Verma, with additional dialogues by Rajkumar Hirani and R. Madhavan, are excellent and complement the screenplay beautifully.

Madhavan gives his hundred per cent to the role. He delivers a memo­rable performance, using his eyes and body language supremely effectively. His performance is so wonderfully understated that one can’t help but marvel at his genius. He has worked hard on his physique to look like a boxing coach and he deserves full marks on that count too. Ritika Singh shines in her debut role. She is a kick-boxer in real life and her knowledge of the sport comes in handy in essaying the role but even otherwise, her truly natural performance belies the fact that this is her maiden attempt at acting. It looks like she was born to play this role. Mumtaz Sorcar delivers a superb performance as Laxmi alias Lux. She makes her character very believable. Zakir Hussain is extraordinary as the lecherous head coach, evoking hatred for the character, with his lovely performance. Nasser is first-rate as the junior coach in Madras. His acting touches the heart and he adds emotional value to the drama. M.K. Raina has his moments. Kaali Venkat is very effective as Madhi’s good-for-nothing father. Baljinder Kaur is also good, playing Madhi’s mother with a lot of sincerity. Bipin leaves a mark as Inno­cent. Swanand Kirkire delivers a heartfelt performance in a brief role as the shopkeeper. All the other actors lend adequate support. Special mention must be made of casting director Mukesh Chhabra for assembling a bunch of talented actors in the cast.

Sudha Kongara’s direction is very nice. Her narrative style, like the script, keeps the audience asking for more. The fast pace is another plus point about her narration. Music (by Santhosh Narayanan) is effective and complements the story, even taking it forward sometimes and establishing the characters at other times. But the songs are not at all popular. Swanand Kirkire’s lyrics are very appropriate to the drama. Dinesh Master’s choreography is realistic. Sanjay Wandrekar and Atul Raninga’s background music is extraordinary. The duo has done a swell job of the background score which heightens the impact of the scenes manifold. Sivakumar Vijayan’s camerawork is remarkable. Tom Delmar’s action and ‘Stunner’ Sam’s stunts are lovely. Production designing (by T. Santhanam) is of a good standard. Sathish Suriya’s editing is crisp.

On the whole, Saala Khadoos is a heartwarming entertainer which will grow by positive word of mouth. But its low-key promotion and ineffective trailers have ensured a very dull opening for the film and given that the game today is of the first weekend, its box-office prospects will, unfortunately, not at all match its merits.

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KYAA KOOL HAIN HUM 3

Alt Entertainment’s Kyaa Kool Hain Hum 3 (A) is the third in the Kyaa Kool Hain Hum series. Kanhaiyya (Tusshar) and Rocky (Aftab Shivdasani) are close friends who don’t really seem to be going anywhere in life. Kanhaiyya’s father, P.K. Lele (Shakti Kapoor), has thrown him out of the house. As Kanhaiyya’s mother is dead, P.K. Lele has married Kanhaiyya’s maternal aunt (Meghna Naidu).

Kanhaiyya and Rocky’s friend, Micky (Krushna), lives in Bangkok and calls them over. As they have nothing to do in India, they accept Micky’s offer to work for him. But once in Bangkok, they are shocked to learn that Micky makes porn films by spoofing hit Bollywood films. Working as porn stars in Micky’s films are Sucku (Claudia Ciesla), Mary Lee (Gizele Thakral), Chumbankar (Andy) and Dandive (Danny Sura). Micky convinces the two friends to become porn stars in his films. Convinced, they start acting in Micky’s porn comedies.

Soon, Kanhaiyya falls in love with an Indian girl in Bangkok, who goes by the name of Shalu (Mandana Karimi). Before Shalu can marry Kanhaiyya, her orthodox and God-fearing father, Mr. Karjatya (an obvious reference to filmmaker Sooraj Barjatya), must meet the groom-to-be and his family. Since Kanhaiyya’s parents are in India, the porn stars pose as his two sisters and two brothers-in-law while, in a case of comedy of errors, both, Rocky and Micky, introduce themselves as his father. To add to the confusion, Kanhaiyya’s actual father and step-mother also land in his house in Bangkok even while Shalu and Mr. Karjatya are around. Mr. Karjatya’s sister, Sindoor (Sushmita Mukherjee), also lands there. She is unable to speak and so she comes with her dog who is the only one who can understand what she wants to convey by her sounds and, in turn, conveys the same by his barking. Accompanying them is Jimmy (Jimmy Moses) who is the sole person who can interpret the barks of the dog.

Mr. Karjatya is sucked more and more into the ‘family’ drama of Kanhaiyya. Alongside Kanhaiyya and Shalu’s romantic track, there are several other tracks of lust and sex between the various characters. Despite so much confusion, Mr. Karjatya doesn’t realise that Kanhaiyya and gang are pulling a fast one on him. Even though Karjatya learns of an illness which Kanhaiyya is suffering from – he becomes cock-eyed whenever he sees the colour red – he is ready to marry off Shalu to him. But then, the fact about Kanhaiyya and Rocky working as porn stars comes to Karjatya’s knowledge. He also realises the truth about the various fathers of Kanhaiyya.

Mushtaq Shiekh and Milap Milan Zaveri have written a childish story which is nothing but an assemblage of crass anecdotes and incidents abounding in double-meaning dialogues and scenes. There is absolutely no logic in the drama and not much attention is paid to continuity which seems forced in, to hold the story together. Mushtaq Shiekh has written a reprehensible screenplay which tries to cash in on poking fun at hit Bollywood films and celebrities. Even that could have been interesting had it made the audience laugh, but the humour is so forced that it hardly evokes laughter. Rather, the viewers view the jokes at hit films and persona­lities as disrespectful and as being bad in taste. Of course, there are some double-meaning jokes and scenes which will be liked by the audience, mainly front-benchers and masses, but the humour otherwise falls flat on its face. The angle of Kanhaiyya going cock-eyed on seeing red colour looks silly. The track of Mr. Karjatya’s parrot seems to have been inserted only so that double-meaning dialogues could be written around it. In fact, the viewer gets the feeling that scenes have been created to accommodate a ‘funny’ one-liner or a ‘naughty’ thought. This feeling spoils the fun of the audience in even inherently funny scenes. Absence of a cohesive script and a consistently funny and smooth-flowing screenplay are big negative points. Milap Milan Zaveri’s dialogues are kiddish and rely too heavily on rhyming to create mirth.

Tusshar does quite well but is let down by a dull script. Aftab Shivdasani’s performance is alright but, again, he is not in his element. Krushna appeals with his sense of comic timing. Mandana Karimi looks pretty but she gets limited scope to act. Her performance is alright. Darshan Jariwala looks out of place in an adult comedy but he manages to camouflage the mismatch by his performance. Sushmita Mukherjee is not funny in a role which needed her to be so. Shakti Kapoor just about passes muster. Meghna Naidu is alright. Gizele Thakral does reasonably well. She exudes oomph. Claudia Ciesla looks sexy while her performance is okay. Andy hardly impresses. Danny Sura is ordinary. Jimmy Moses makes his presence felt. Gauhar Khan is good in a song-dance number. Dinky Kapoor (as the secretary), Mukund Bhatt (as Baig) and Nargis Doctor (as Kanhaiyya’s maternal grandmother) lend ave­rage support. Ritesh Deshmukh makes a special appearance but his scene is hardly interesting.

Umesh Ghadge’s direction is routine. Handicapped by a weak script, he is unable to keep the audience suitably entertained. Sajid-Wajid’s music is a mixed bag. ‘Jawaani le doobi’ is an appealing song while the title track is fairly good. The other songs are okay. Danish Sabri and Irfan Kamal’s lyrics go well with the film’s mood. Choreography (by Vishnu Deva and Ranju Verghese) is alright. Raju Singh’s background music doesn’t add much to the drama. Manoj Soni’s camerawork is fair. Vikram Dahiya’s action and stunts are passable. Sukant Panigrahy’s production designing is average. Nitin Madhukar Rokade’s editing is alright.

On the whole, Kyaa Kool Hain Hum 3 is rather dull and will not be able to sustain the initial craze (among masses of single-screen cinemas, because of the brand) because the comedy looks contrived.

 

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AIRLIFT

T-Series Films, Cape Of Good Films, Emmay Entertainment and Abundantia Entertainment’s Airlift (UA) is based on a true-life episode when an extraordinary Indian, living in Kuwait, worked selflessly to rescue 1,70,000 Indians stranded there following invasion by Iraq in 1990.

Ranjeet Katiyal (Akshay Kumar) is a filthy rich Indian living in Kuwait. He is a ruthless businessman whose company employs thousands of Indians. He lives with his wife, Amrita (Nimrat Kaur), and little daughter (baby Adiba Hussain). He doesn’t have much feeling for India.

Life is hunky dory till one day, suddenly, Iraq’s leader, Saddam Hussain, declares war on Kuwait and sends his armymen to wreak havoc on Kuwait and its nationals. The armymen go on a rampage, killing innocent Kuwaitis. In the process, several Indians are also murdered by them. Among those mercilessly killed is Ranjeet Katiyal’s faithful Indian driver, Nair. Ranjeet decides to escape with his wife and little daughter as also with the widow and child of his driver. But he has a change of heart when he sees helplessness writ large on the faces of his employees. Rather than making an attempt to flee Kuwait, he takes it upon him­ self to ensure the evacuation of not just his Indian employees and their families but of all the 1,70,000 Indians stranded in Kuwait. While the Kuwaiti government has run away, the Indian government couldn’t care less for its countrymen in Kuwait as it neither has the time nor the inclination to ensure their safety.

Ranjeet first gets all the Indians together in a huge school building in Kuwait and arranges for their food and stay there. The Iraqi major (Inam-ul-haq) in Kuwait issues veiled threats to Ranjeet but is also aware of Saddam Hussain’s diktat to not harm Indians as India had friendly relations with Iraq. Still, the Iraqi soldiers in Kuwait often kill Indians too. Ranjeet tries his level best to get help from India but except for one officer in the external affairs ministry, Sanjeev Kohli (Kumud Mishra), there isn’t anybody else really willing to help. Even Sanjeev Kohli finds himself quite helpless because the external affairs minister (Surendra Pal) doesn’t have the inclination to look into the matter.

Hopes are raised when news comes that Tipu Sultan, a ship from India, would soon be entering Kuwaiti waters and could be used by the stranded Indians to escape on its return journey from Kuwait to India. However, the ship’s journey is cut short before it reaches Kuwait. Anyway, Ranjeet somehow manages to secure the safe passage of 500 persons in a ship sailing from Kuwait, loaded with junk. Of course, this is just the tip of the iceberg – because 500 is indeed a small number in relation to 1,70,000 Indians who are stranded.

Escaping to Jordan is now the only option for the Indians but getting clearance from India for the same is a Herculean task. While Sanjeev Kohli in Delhi is still trying to get permission from Jordan, Ranjeet Katiyal sets out for Jordan with the nearly 1,70,000 Indians as he senses, it would be difficult to survive any longer in Kuwait. Sanjeev Kohli now enlists the support of Air India to press its civilian pilots into service to fly planes to Kuwait and airlift the Indians. At first reluctant, the pilots soon relent. And then begins the biggest rescue operation in world history.

The story, written by Raja Krishna Menon, is interesting and inherently patriotic because it talks about an Indian’s quest to save the lives of other Indians, many of who are not even known to him, the common thread tying them being their helplessness in strife-torn Kuwait. The screenplay, written by Ritesh Shah, Suresh Nair, Rahul Nangia and Raja Krishna Menon, does not exploit the story as well as it could have been exploited. Firstly, the pre-interval portion is more like a docu-drama but if the audience still doesn’t mind that, it is because it is, at core, a human drama and one which is not known to many. Secondly, the edge-of-the-seat excitement and thrill expected out of the story is more or less missing before interval. But there are some heart-touching moments post-interval which make the audience cry and also evoke patriotic feelings in them, which do make up for the lack of adrenaline-rushing thrill. The scene in which the Indian flag is put up at the Jordan airport is one which would swell the audience’s hearts and evoke claps. The scene in which the irritating Indian, George (Prakash Belawadi), hugs Ranjeet Katiyal, after repeatedly taunting him everyday, is also heart-warming and emotional. The first Air India plane taking off from Jordan with a batch of Indian passengers aboard, affords thrill to the viewers and is another emotional scene.

The screenplay could’ve had some more clap-trap moments. In other words, the enormity of the task before Ranjeet Katiyal does not come across as it should’ve. However, this is not to say that the screenplay is weak. No, it isn’t! But it could’ve been a bit more exciting for sure. The engaging second half does involve the viewers and manages to satisfy them for the sheer planning and execution of the enormous rescue operation, that too, with minimal resources on hand. Dialogues, written by Ritesh Shah, are very good and even clap-worthy at places but they lack punch at other places.

Akshay Kumar approaches the role of Ranjeet Katiyal with sincerity and understanding and performs very ably, making the drama appear real. Nimrat Kaur plays his wife ably. She has a lovely voice which she uses to her ad­ vantage. Kumud Mishra underplays beautifully and leaves a mark as Sanjeev Kohli. Prakash Belawadi is extraordinary in the role of George. In fact, his acting is so natural that the viewer feels like slapping him everytime he opens his mouth. Inam-ul-haq is entertaining as the Iraqi major. Purab Kohli makes his presence felt as the Muslim Indian in Kuwait. Feryna Wazheir evokes sympathy as the Kuwaiti girl in distress, with a little baby in her arms. Nissar Khan (as Ranjeet’s friend, Ashok), Ninaad Kamat (as Ranjeet’s friend, Kurien) and Ajay Kumar (as Joseph) lend able support. Lena Kumar is lovely as George’s wife. Kaizad Kotwal (as Poonawala) and Gunjan Malhotra (as Poonawala’s daughter, Meher) leave their marks. Avtar Gill is good in a brief role. Arun Bali (as Bauji) and Surendra Pal (as the external affairs minister) are effective. Ajay Arya (as Nair), Taranjeet Kaur (as Nair’s wife), Pooja Nair (as Preethi), Pawan Chopra (as Indian ambassador Brij), baby Adiba Hussain (as Ranjeet and Amrita’s daughter, Simran), Bachan Pachera (as the old Indian), Sanjay Bhatia (as the official at the Indian Embassy in Amman), Rajesh Jais (as the officer at the Indian Embassy in Iraq), Abhijit Bhor (as the captain of the ship loaded with junk) and the others provide the necessary support.

Raja Krishna Menon’s direction is good. He has narrated the human-interest drama in a way that the audience’s quest to know what and how doesn’t wane. Amaal Malik and Ankit Tiwari’s music is alright but the songs could’ve been more appealing. Kumaar’s lyrics are appropriate. Ahmed Khan and Arvind Thakur’s choreography is okay. Priya Seth’s camerawork is splendid. Manohar Verma’s action scenes are very real. Mustufa Station­wala’s production designing is of a good standard. Hemanti Sarkar’s editing is sharp.

On the whole, Airlift is an entertaining film which will be liked by the classes and family audiences. That it tackles a subject not many are aware of is a major plus point because that keeps the audience’s interest alive from the start till the end. It has emotional and patriotic value and will, therefore, prove to be a plus fare for its producers and a safe bet/earning proposal for its various distributors.

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CHALK N DUSTER

Surani Pictures’ Chalk N Duster is the story of two teachers who take on their private school because of the shabby treatment meted out to the teaching staff by the scheming and manipulative principal.

Vidya (Shabana Azmi) and Jyoti (Juhi Chawla) are very able teachers, teaching in a private school. Mrs. Shastri (Zarina Wahab) is the efficient school principal while Kamini Gupta (Divya Dutta) is the horrible supervisor. Soon, Kamini Gupta brainwashes the school’s owner, Anmol Parekh (Arya Babbar), to terminate the servi­ ces of Shastri and promote her (Kamini) to the post of principal.

The cunning Kamini Gupta now goes on a rampage in school, given the authority and power she wields as the school principal. In a bid to make the school of international standard, she starts creating situations so that the old and experienced teachers would get frustrated enough to leave their jobs and she could then appoint new teachers who would dance to her tunes. Supporting Kamini in her evil designs is Anmol Parekh.

To begin with, the new school principal has the teacher’s chair removed from every classroom and asks teachers to pay for their daily cup of tea! She even throws out the little son of a teacher because she can’t afford his fees. Accusing Vidya teacher of not being good enough, she dismisses her, citing parents’ complaint as the reason. Vidya teacher, who is one of the best in the school, suffers a heart attack on reading the termination letter and has to be hospitalised. The news reaches the media; a television channel reporter (Richa Chadha) exposes the school and its principal. While the entire teaching staff is with Vidya, it is only Jyoti teacher who stands up for her colleague as the others are fearful of losing their jobs.

Jyoti is about to be dismissed by principal Kamini Gupta for daring to go against her wishes but she herself resigns. She decides to expose the school and the principal before the world and aiding her is the same television reporter and her channel. However, Anmol gets support from another TV channel. An interview of Jyoti on the first television channel inspires students of Vidya teacher and even other students to come out in the open in support of Vidya teacher. It becomes a revolution of sorts when ex-students of Vidya teacher send their videos to the TV channel to express how good and efficient Vidya teacher was.

What happens thereafter? Is Vidya teacher reinstated? Does Kamini Gupta apologise?

Ranjeev-Neetu have penned a script which has noble intentions. The original story underlines the sacrifices teachers make to selflessly educate students who then move on in life and don’t even stop to think about the teachers who laid the foundation for their future. The screenplay is interesting and engaging. It is also emotional, at times. The post-interval portion, when the fight between the two teachers on the one hand and the school on the other reaches the media, is a bit too convenient but the audience doesn’t mind it if only because the intention behind the film is good. The quiz contest in the climax looks far-fetched but yet involves the viewers because the plot deals with the noble profession of teaching. In fact, the film touches the core of the audience’s heart, making them feel guilty about not having bothered about their teachers once out of school/college. Ranjeev-Neetu’s dialogues are very good and touch the heart at several places.

Shabana Azmi is remarkable as Vidya teacher. She shines in a role to which she gives her cent per cent. Her transformation from a concerned teacher, always on her feet, to a helpless patient on the hospital bed is heart-wrenching. In one word, she is extraordinary. Juhi Chawla is endearing in the role of Jyoti teacher. She especially stands out in the television interview and in the scene in which she exposes the principal in front of the school staff. Divya Dutta is excellent, first as the scheming supervisor and then as the evil principal. She gives a memorable performance. Zarina Wahab stands out in a brief role, expressing her emotions through her eyes. Girish Karnad is good as the wheel-chair-bound husband of Vidya teacher. Samir Soni lends able support as Jyoti’s husband. Arya Babbar is devious enough to be hated by the viewers, which is the need of his character. Adi Irani provides fair support. Rishi Kapoor lends star value in a special appearance. He plays the quiz master effectively. Richa Chadha makes her presence amply felt in a special appearance. Jackie Shroff also adds star value but does not get much scope. Upasna Singh is entertaining. Nikhil Ratnaparkhi is alright as the politician. Deepali, Divya Jyoti Sharma, Gavie Chahal, Sudipta Singh and master Kabir Arora lend the necessary support.

Jayant Gilatar’s direction is very good. He does justice to the script and succeeds in keeping the audience engrossed in the proceedings. Music (Sandesh Shandilya) is more functional than anything else, aided ably by Javed Akhtar’s meaningful lyrics. Shabina Khan’s choreography passes muster. Baba Azmi’s cinematography is very nice. Santosh Mandal’s editing is sharp.

On the whole, Chalk N Duster is a nice film with noble intentions but its box-office prospects are very bleak. It has some chances in states where it has been exempted from entertainment tax.

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WAZIR

Reliance Entertainment and Vinod Chopra Films’ Wazir (UA) is the story of two men whom destiny unites. It is a suspense thriller.

Daanish (Farhan Akhtar), a police officer happily married to danseuse Ruhana (Aditi Rao Hydari), loses his little daughter, Noorie, in cross-firing with dreaded terrorist Rameez (Nassir Quazi). Ruhana holds Daanish responsible for their daughter’s death and so, cracks develop in their relationship. Daanish is also distraught and seeks revenge by killing Rameez.

Pandit Omkar Nath Dhruv (Amitabh Bachchan), who has lost his legs below the knees, teaches chess to children. He is a widower who has just recently lost his grown-up daughter. Although the daughter’s death is dismissed off as an accident at welfare minister Yazad Qureshi’s (Manav Kaul) residence, where she had gone to teach the minister’s little daughter, Pandit Dhruv is convinced, the minister had murdered his daughter. He keeps visiting the police station in a bid to get justice for his deceased daughter but is saddened when he is told that the file has been closed as the death was a mere accident. Pan­ dit Dhruv used to teach Daanish’s daughter, Noorie, chess when she was alive.

Panditji and Daanish become friends after the death of their daughters. Daanish sees substance in what Panditji feels about the welfare minister’s role in his daughter’s death. Incidentally, the welfare minister projects himself to be the messiah of peace. Daanish promises Pandit Dhruv that he would secure justice for his deceased daughter. Panditji, meanwhile, tries to play peace-maker between Daanish and wife Ruhana.

One day, Panditji confronts the welfare minister face-to-face, something which doesn’t go down well with the minister. Soon, Wazir (Neil Nitin Mukesh) seeks revenge on Pandit Dhruv for having dared to confront minister Yazad Qureshi. He attacks Panditji and destroys the chess boards in his house. Panditji is shaken but will still not give up.

Wazir keeps making telephone calls to threaten Pandit Dhruv. He calls Daanish on his cell phone to inform him that he would soon kill Panditji. On his part, Daanish wants to meet Wazir and bring him and the welfare minister to book.

Soon, minister Yazad Qureshi goes to Kashmir. Panditji is also preparing to leave for Kashmir to extract revenge, even though Wazir has threatened to kill him.

Will Daanish allow Panditji to risk his life and go to Kashmir? Does Daanish meet Wazir? Who is Wazir? Does Panditji get to extract revenge? Or does Daanish get the murderer to book? Who is the murderer? Is it welfare minister Yazad Qureshi? Is he or is he not the messiah of peace? What is his past? Is there any co-relation between the accidental death of Noorie and the death of Panditji’s daughter? Does the tension between Daanish and Ruhana ease?

Vidhu Vinod Chopra has written an interesting story even though, it must be added, it is meant only for the class audience. The track of Wazir (Neil Nitin Mukesh), when the suspense is revealed, will serve to confuse the audience other than the class audience. Having said that, it must also be said that the twist in the climax is lovely and least expected. Abhijat Joshi and Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s screenplay targets only the class audience. The screenplay is engaging but, at the same time, it is slow in the first half after the initial few reels. The second half is faster and more dramatic. Bejoy Nambiar, Natasha Sahgal and Shubra Swarup are the script associates. All in all, the screenplay would engage the class audience but not find much favour among the masses. Abhijeet Deshpande’s dialogues (with additional dialogues by Gazal Dhaliwal) are very good.

Amitabh Bachchan is outstanding as Pandit Omkar Nath Dhruv. He acts with aplomb and his facial expressions are a treat to watch. He is absolutely terrific. Farhan Akhtar does a very fine job as police inspector Daanish. Aditi Rao Hydari looks pretty. She doesn’t have too many dialogues to mouth but she makes her presence felt with a meaningful performance. Her costumes and jewellery are lovely. Manav Kaul plays welfare minister Yazad Qureshi effectively. Neil Nitin Mukesh is pretty impressive as Wazir. John Abraham adds star value in a special appearance. Anjum Sharma lends able support as Daanish’s colleague, Sartaj. Seema Pahwa is brilliant in a brief role. Prakash Belawadi leaves a mark as the police inspector. Nassir Quazi is alright as terrorist Rameez. Murali Sharma has a tiny role. Nishigandha Wad is okay.

Bejoy Nambiar’s direction is very good. He has handled the subject with the sensitivity that was required. Music (Shantanu Moitra for ‘Tere bin’ and ‘Maula mere Maula’; Rochak Kohli for ‘Yaari’; Ankit Tiwari for ‘Tu mere paas’; Advaita for ‘Khel khel mein’; and Prashant Pillai for ‘Tere liye’) is melodious though not very popular. The songs sound good in the film even though they are too many of them. Lyrics (Vidhu Vinod Chopra, Swanand Kirkire, Gurpreet Saini, Deepak Ramola, Manoj Muntashir, Abhijeet Deshpande and A.M. Turaz) are weighty. Rohit Kulkarni has done a fine job of the background music. Sanu John Varughese’s cinematography is lovely. Bindiya Chhabriya and Narii’s production designing and Prasanna Karkhanis’ art direction are appropriate as per the demands of the script. Javed-Aejaz’s action and stunts are nice. Vidhu Vinod Chopra and Abhijat Joshi’s editing is sharp.

On the whole, Wazir is a well-made film but meant for the class audience in the big cities mainly. It will do fair business. Recovery of cost and even generation of profits should not be a problem because the producers have recovered 60% of the investment from sale of satellite rights alone.

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BAJIRAO MASTANI

Eros International and Bhansali Productions’ Bajirao Mastani is a historical. It is the love story of ace Maratha ruler Bajirao Peshwa and Muslim warrior Mastani.

Bajirao Peshwa is a happily married Maratha ruler, brave and with an extremely sharp mind. He has won several wars and he dreams of winning over the whole of India for the king of Maharashtra. He lives with his mother (Tanvi Azmi), wife, Kashi (Priyanka Chopra), and son, Nanaji, besides other family members.

One day, Mastani, whose father rules Bundelkhand, comes to Bajirao, seeking his help to fight the enemy. Bajirao obliges and helps save Bundelkhand from the enemy. Aiding him in the war is Mastani herself. Seeing his bravery, Mastani falls head over heels in love with him. Baijrao, too, falls in love with her. After the war, Bajirao returns to Poona and shifts into a new palace, Shaniwarwada, made for him and his family.

Smitten by Bajirao, Mastani soon follows him and comes to Poona. Bajirao is unaware of her undying love for him. Seeing red, Bajirao’s widowed mother orders that Mastani be made to stay with the lowly dancing girls. Why, she even tells Mastani that the maximum she can hope to be is a dancer in Bajirao’s court. On her part, Mastani is so madly in love with Bajirao that she accepts her position as a mere dancer just so that she can be close to her beloved. It is not long before Bajirao learns from Mastani about her true love for him. Despite their different religions and in spite of the fact that he is a married man, he marries Mastani, much to the dismay of his wife and mother. Soon, Mastani, whom Bajirao doesn’t allow to be a dancer girl any longer, gets pregnant with Bajirao’s child. Kashi is also pregnant with her second child. As luck would have it, Kashi and Mastani deliver baby boys on the same day. Of course, since Mastani has not been accepted by Bajirao’s family as the daughter-in-law, her child is also not accepted into the family. Mastani stays in a separate house with her son. Bajirao now spends a lot of time with Mastani, ignoring Kashi, in the process.

Tension between Bajirao and his mother keeps escalating till one day, Bajirao wants to transfer part of the area ruled by him, to Mastani. His mother is livid. She does not accede to his request and so, Bajirao leaves the family and renounces his leadership. Kashi, on the other hand, accepts life as it comes and continues to love Bajirao like crazy, in spite of his unfaithfulness.

Soon, circumstances force Bajirao to once again fight in the battlefield to keep the Maratha flag flying high. But his mother and elder son, Nana (Ayush Tandon), play a dirty trick on him when they take Mastani and her little son and hold them captive. Bajirao is shattered when he learns of this game while he is at war.

Does Bajirao save his second wife and their son? Or does he bow down to his mother’s wishes? Do Bajirao and Mastani ever meet thereafter? Do they unite? Does Bajirao recover from the shock about the game his mother had played on him?

The story is based on N.M. Inamdar’s novel, Rau, which is about the conquests of Bajirao Peshwa on the battlefield and about his love life with Mastani and about how his mother refused to accept his second wife as a daughter-in-law.

Prakash R. Kapadia’s screenplay and Sanjay Leela Bhansali and Mallika Dutt Gharde’s additional screenplay are very interesting and engaging, though class-appealing. The screenplay keeps unfolding layer by layer and the juxtapositioning of the battle scenes with the romantic and family drama is excellent. The writers have concentra­ted almost completely on the love story of Bajirao and Mastani, and have not dwelt too much on the relationship between Bajirao and his wife, Kashi, before Mastani came on the scene. This, coupled with the fact that Kashi is not shown to be suffering humiliation after Mastani enters Bajirao’s life, except in her own eyes, which too, she copes with stoically, is probably the reason why the audience is not emotionally shaken, shattered or moved in the entire film. The weak-hearted may feel for Kashi in her scene with Mastani but they won’t cry or weep. The grandeur of the sets is so overpowering and both, Kashi and Bajirao’s mother, conduct themselves with such dignity that the viewers do not feel miserable for them or their plight. Had there been room for overwhelming emotions, the drama would have been more enriching and heart-touching for the viewers.

There’s another reason why the audience does not feel empathy for any character in the film, by and large. In traditional Indian upbringing as much as in our growing up on Hindi films, one has come to accept some stereotypes. For instance, it is a given that the first wife is the nice one, the ‘heroine’, whereas the other woman or the second wife is evil or, in that sense, a ‘vamp’. Based on the same analogy, a man who marries his mistress even though he has no problem with his first wife is considered to be a ‘villain’. Given this thought process of Indians, Bajirao and Mastani will be viewed by a section of the audience (read, mainly masses) as villain and vamp. One’s sympathy naturally cannot go to them. One’s sympathy also does not go to Kashi because she is not shown to be in a pitiable state (as explained above) or with Bajirao’s mother (who is a very strong lady, again, as mentioned above). So, a chunk of the audience will not know whom to empathise with, which will probably alienate them from the film’s content. Of course, the classes, the elite audience and even a section of the mass base of audience will overlook the above argument because it will be taken in by the grandeur of the film, its making, takings, sets, costumes etc. But a section of the audience (more so, among the masses) will not be able to overlook this point which, therefore, will come in the way of its complete enjoyment of the film.

Prakash R. Kapadia’s dialogues are among the high points of the film. Each dialogue is a gem and many of them pierce the heart. The dialogues could easily pick up awards because they greatly add to the dramatic impact of the film.

Ranveer Singh gets into the skin of the character of Bajirao and delivers a memorable performance. His Maha­rashtrian diction is lovely and he seems to have worked very hard on getting it right; the best part is that the effort doesn’t show at all. His physique is excellent and his get-up suits him and the character wonderfully. His expressions are splendid. Whether in romantic scenes or dramatic ones, whether on the battlefield with his enemy or in the bedroom with his partner, whether in emotional or light scenes, Ranveer is exceptional. Deepika Padukone looks beautiful, gorgeous, glamorous and regal, as Mastani should look, and does the fullest justice to her role with an outstanding show of talent. Every inch of her being appears to be smitten by Bajirao. Her costumes are extraordinary. Her dances are supremely graceful. She is especially mesmerising in the ‘Deewani mastani’ and ‘Pinga’ songs. Priyanka Chopra is fantastic as Kashi. She acts with a rare understanding and doesn’t once go overboard. Her intelligence lies in not trying to overshadow anybody, which makes her performance even more appealing. She looks fetching. Her Maharashtrian diction is flawless. Her dance in the ‘Pinga’ song is terrific. Tanvi Azmi lends outstanding support as Radha Maa, mother of Bajirao. Her dialogue delivery and hand gestures are superb. She delivers an award-winning performance. Ayush Tandon leaves a mark as Nana Saheb. Mahesh Manjrekar (as Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj), Milind Soman (as Ambaji Panth), Vaibhav Tatwawadi (as Chimaji), Yateen Karyekar (as Krishna Bhatt) and Zila Khan (as Ruhani Begum) provide great support. Raza Murad (in a special appearance as Nizam of Deccan), Aditya Pancholi (as Panth Pratinidhi), Benjamin Gilani (as Raja Chhatrasaal), Ganesh Yadav (as Malhar Rao), Sukdha Abhijeet Khandkekar (as Anutai), Anuja Anil Sathe (as Bhiutai), Snehalata Vasaikar (as Bhanumati), Kartik Ahuja (as Nasir Jung), Anmol Bawdekar (as Shiva Bhatt), Sachin Rawal (as Tukoji), Shabbir Ali (as Bangash), Tejashree Manohar Dharne (as Shalubai), Swarangi Mukund Marathe (as Jhumri), Mrunmayi Arun Supal (as Gopika­bai), Vivek Ghamande (as Veer Singh), master Rudra Soni (as young Nana Saheb) and master Jason D’Souza (as little Shamsher Bahadur) are suitably adequate.

Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s direction is brilliantly imaginative. He has made a painting on celluloid. Each frame is a visual masterpiece. His narrative style is excellent. He has extracted the best out of his actors. His handling of the story, devoid of comedy or light moments, may find less favour with a section of the youth and with a section of the masses but that is not a fault; rather, it is his honesty to the script which has made him keep the drama absolutely to the point. Music (Sanjay Leela Bhansali) is extremely melodious but that mesmerising quality is missing in the songs. The ‘Deewani Mastani’ and ‘Pinga’ songs are the best. Lyrics (Siddharth-Garima, A.M. Turaz, Prashant Ingole and Ganesh Chandanshive) are heavenly. Picturisations of the ‘Pinga’ and ‘Deewani Mastani’ songs (by Remo D’Souza) are absolutely outstanding. Other song picturisations (by Pandit Birju Maharaj, Ganesh Acharya, Pony Prakash Raj Verma and Shampa Gopikishan) are eye-filling. Sanchit Balhara’s background music is extraordinary.

Sudeep Chatterjee’s cinematography is par excellence. Production design (by Sriram Kannan Iyengar, Sujeet Subhash Sawant and Saloni Ankush Dhatrak) is mind-numbing. The sets are rich, luxurious and a veritable visual treat. Sham Kaushal’s action and war scenes are terrific. Rajesh G. Pandey’s editing is super-sharp.

On the whole, Bajirao Mastani is a visually delightful entertainer and a cinematic masterpiece. Unfortunately, it holds more appeal for the classes and multiplex audiences and less for the masses. This will reflect adversely in its commercial report card because a film with an investment of the kind made in this project needed to be universally appealing, nothing less than that. Its collections are bound to pick up due to positive mouth publicity. In commercial terms, however, its very high cost on the one hand and an ordinary initial on the other, coupled with the fact that it has released in direct opposition of Dilwale, will not see it making profits. Rather, this masterpiece could, quite unfortunately and tragically, even entail losses to the persons concerned.

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