QARIB QARIB SINGLLE

Zee Studios and Jar Pictures’ Qarib Qarib Singlle (ua) is the story of a middle-aged bachelor and a widow who meet on a dating website and then go on a date to a few cities to know each other better.

Yogi (Irrfan Khan), a middle-aged bachelor, and Jaya (Parvathy Thiruvotu), a widow, meet on a dating website. Soon, they meet at a coffee shop. Yogi convinces Jaya to accompany him on a trip for a holiday so that they can know each other better and assess whether they are compatible enough to get married.

While on their holiday, they visit different cities because Yogi wants to meet his three ex-girlfriends. He introduces them to Jaya too. But their trip is not too smooth. They have misunderstandings and problems galore. For instance, Yogi misses the flight which Jaya has already boarded. On another occasion, he boards the wrong train and the two get separated. On a third occasion, he erroneously enters her room while she is in a state of undress.

If Yogi can’t forget his past – which is why he wants to meet his ex-girlfriends even though they have moved on in life – Jaya also can’t get over her deceased husband, Manav (Anuj Khurana). What do Yogi and Jaya finally decide? Are they compatible or incompatible?

Kamna Chandra’s story is interesting and although it moves on a single track, it is engrossing because it does not tread the beaten path. No doubt, it is a class-appealing subject because it doesn’t cater to the general mass base but that’s how it is and there’s no harm in that. The problem lies with the screenplay which is written by Tanuja Chandra and Gazal Dhaliwal. Two major drawbacks of the screenplay make the drama far less entertaining than it ought to have been. Firstly, although the film is designed as a light and breezy entertainer, the humour quotient is low. There are opportunities for the audience to laugh but they are few and far between. Besides, the pace is so slow that the drama often tests the audience’s patience. The second major drawback is that the emotional connect of the drama is missing. By the end of the trip, the viewers don’t really root for Yogi and Jaya to come together. The audience’s attitude is: if they can come together, fine; if they can’t, then also, it’s fine.

The reasons for the missing emotional quotient are several. For one, Yogi and Jaya hardly try to make the relationship work. Since the two main protagonists themselves don’t seem to be too keen to sort out their differences or to understand each other, the viewers are left wondering whether they met on a dating website or a friendship website. Not just left wondering, the viewers also, therefore, don’t want to hope for something which the protagonists themselves don’t seem to be trying for. Also, there are so many irrelevant scenes that the audience gets irritated. An instance in point is the entire sequence of Jaya’s antics after she consumes sleeping pills. Besides, the way Jaya behaves after popping the sleeping pills makes it look like she is under the influence of alcohol rather than sedatives. Besides, a drama like this ought to have been full of heart-touching moments but in reality, such moments are almost conspicuous by their absence. Rather than the screenplay flowing smoothly, several scenes look contrived – aimed to either evoke laughter or touch the heart. But because they are contrived, they fail to have the desired impact. Examples of the forced scenes: Jaya enters Yogi’s room in the night to put back the phone receiver into the cradle; Yogi, by mistake, enters Jaya’s room while she is wrapped in a towel – did Jaya not have common sense to latch the door from inside?

All in all, a fairly good story, no doubt, meant for the city audience only, has been sort of ruined by a screenplay which is written less with feelings and more with calculations. Gazal Dhaliwal’s dialogues are very good but not consistently so.

Irrfan Khan once again proves that he can rise above the script and shine his way through. He is such a fabulous actor that he puts life into every scene he appears in. To underline how great an actor he is, it needs to be said that even his rythmic snoring deserves distinction marks. His perfor- mance, in one word, is outstanding. Parvathy Thiruvotu is good in some scenes but tends to go overboard in others. Her make-up is patchy in several scenes. Neha Dhupia, in a special appearance, makes her mark in the role of Yogi’s ex-girlfriend, Anjali. Isha Sharwani, in a special appearance as Yogi’s ex, Gauri, is grace personified in her dance movements. Pushtie Shakti is good as Yogi’s ex, Radha. Siddharth Menon makes his presence felt as Jaya’s brother, Ashish. Navneet Nishan is terrific in a brief role as Mrs. Saluja. Aman Sharma leaves a wonderful mark as the taxi driver who gives Yogi a life lesson. Brijendra Kala (as the hotel receptionist) is natural to the core. Anagha Joshi has her moments as Jaya’s friend. Others lend the desired support.

Tanuja Chandra’s direction is not upto the mark because neither is the comedy enjoyable enough nor are the emotions touching enough. Besides, she makes the drama very elitist in appeal. On the music side, ‘Khatam kahani’, composed by Vishal Mishra, is a truly good song. Other songs (by Rochak Kohli and Vishal Mishra) are alright. Lyrics (Raj Shekhar, Varun Grover and Hussain Haidry) are quite okay. Song picturisations (by Tushar Kalia, Shampa Gopikrishna and Rajeev Surti) are fair. Background music (Naren Chandavarkar and Benedict Taylor) is so-so. Eeshit Narain’s cinematography is quite nice. Sunil Rodrigues’ action scenes are functional. Ravi Shrivastava’s production designing and Seema Kashyap’s art direction are fair. Chandan Arora’s editing is alright but it must be repeated that the pace itself is very slow.

On the whole, Qarib Qarib Singlle misses the chance to be an entertainer. It falters because it is not funny enough and also because it doesn’t touch the heart. Overall, it will prove to be a flop fare.

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ITTEFAQ

Red Chillies Entertainment, B.R. Studios and Dharma Productions’ Ittefaq (UA) is a suspense thriller. Remake of the 1969 film of the same name, it is about two murder cases.

Vikram Sethi (Sidharth Malhotra) is a well-known Indian author who is based out of London. He is currently in India for the release of his new book. His wife, Katherine (Kimbereley McBeath), is found dead in the hotel room and since Vikram is the prime suspect, he is on the run from the police who are giving him a hot chase.

Vikram takes refuge in the home of a stranger, Maya Sinha (Sonakshi Sinha). As bad luck would have it, Maya’s lawyer-husband, Shekhar Sinha (Samir Sharma), is also found murdered that night in the Sinhas’ home, and Vikram is accused of murdering Shekhar Sinha too. Or was the murder committed by Shekhar’s own wife, Maya?

Investigating police officer Dev Verma (Akshaye Khanna) has only three days to solve the two murder cases. As investigations progress, it is revealed that a girl, who was the subject of Vikram’s latest book, had just recently committed suicide. A lot of other revelations follow.

Is Vikram Sethi the murderer? Why did he murder his wife and a lawyer? Are the two murders interlinked? Or has Vikram murdered only Katherine? In that case, did Maya murder her husband? Why? Or have the two murders or has one murder been committed by an outsider?

Abhay Chopra, Shreyas Jain and Nikhil Mehrotra have written an interesting story inspired by the 1969 Ittefaq. It is not a frame-to-frame copy of the old film, though. Since the story has many twists and turns, it keeps the audience thoroughly engaged and involved. The story is written in such a style that Dev Verma is shown interrogating both, Vikram and Maya, in parts and by turns. Therefore, the same drama is revealed from two different points of view – and the audience doesn’t know who is lying and who is speaking the truth. Some viewers might, at times, take sides with Vik­ram, some might sometimes think that Maya is right, and some others might often feel that both are lying – but it is this quality of the story which keeps the audience completely involved.

The trio’s screenplay is very engaging and it doesn’t allow the audience to think for even a moment. So much is happening so fast that the viewers just cannot allow their minds to wander. An interesting aspect about the screenplay is that humour has been knit beautifully into the tension-ridden drama, preventing the film from becoming too tense and boring. In fact, the humour keeps the viewers entertained differently from how the murder mystery keeps them entertained. Since the screenplay is well-written, the viewers find themselves trying to solve the murder mystery and getting involved in the guessing game.

Abhay Chopra, Shreyas Jain and Nikhil Mehrotra’s dialogues are excellent. The humorous dialogues evoke laughter while the others help in building the suspense and the tension.

Sidharth Malhotra does justice to his role and acts reasonably well. He looks very handsome. Sonakshi Sinha performs quite well, enough for the audience to either believe her or disbelieve her – which is what the character’s demand is. Akshaye Khanna is outstanding. As Dev Verma, he nails it completely. His voice modulation, his expressions, his nuances and his easy acting, all add up to a brilliantly noteworthy performance. His humorous one-liners are superb. Pavail Gulati lends lovely support as Chirag. Himanshu Kohli (as police inspector Gautam Kohli) is adequate. Vinay Sharma leaves a fine mark as police inspector Kadam. Ajay Jadhav evokes a lot of laughter in the role of hawaldar Tambe. Samir Sharma (as Shekhar Sinha) and Kimbereley McBeath (as Katherine Sethi) provide decent support. Trupti Kamkar (as Mrs. Kawatkar), Mandira Bedi (as Dev’s wife, Gayatri Verma), Bharat Jha (as Mr. Kawatkar), Romil (as the commissioner of police), Sandesh Upsham (as constable Gawde) and Sujata Jog (as the maid) make their presence felt. Others fit the bill.

Abhay Chopra’s direction is so polished that it doesn’t look like this is his debut film. Kudos to him for keeping the narrative so engaging and for extracting good work from out of his cast. BT’s background music (supervised by John Stewart Eduri) is lovely. Michal Sebastian Luka’s cinematography is outstanding. Bindiya Chhabria and Nari’s production designing is very nice. Nitin Baid’s editing is sharp and lovely.

On the whole, Ittefaq is an entertaining fare. Although its start is slow, collections will pick up by positive word of mouth of the class audience mainly. The film will hence keep the audience and the investors happy.

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RUKH

Eros International and Drishyam Films’ Rukh (UA) is the story of a boy who rediscovers his lost connections with his father and rebuilds ties with his family when a shocking incident turns his life upside down.

Dhruv (Adarsh Gourav) studies in a school and lives in a boarding. He is oblivious to the financial crisis in his family. His life takes a turn when he gets the horrific news that his father, Divakar (Manoj Bajpayee), has died in a car accident. Dhruv tries to cope with the tragedy but he starts to get pieces of information which make him wonder whether his father’s death was an accident or a premeditated murder. He now sets out to unravel the mystery and, in the process, learns things about his father, which he didn’t know.

Meanwhile, his mother, Nandini (Smita Tambe), tries to hide from Dhruv things which she knows. Does Dhruv get to know the truth ultimately? Does Nandini get to know what had led to Divakar’s death? Why does Robin’s (Kumud Mishra) name crop up whenever Dhruv tries to get to the bottom of it all?

Atanu Mukherjee’s story is depressing right from the word ‘go’. As it is, a young man’s (Divakar) untimely death is sad enough, and then, details about his dysfunctional family further depress the audience. The screenplay, written by Atanu Mukherjee and Akash Mohimen, moves at a leisurely pace, often testing the viewers’ patience. The first half, especially, is boring and quite dull. Although the post-interval portion is better, it is so only marginally. The climax makes one wonder why Nandini reveals all that she does to Dhruv when the whole purpose of her maintaining silence was to not reveal the truth to Dhruv. Since the audiences are hardly allowed to understand what type of a person Divakar was, they don’t feel engaged as facets of his personality are revealed one by one in flashback scenes and through dialogues. All in all, the story is dep­ressing and lacklustre, and the screenplay, dull and depressing. Dialogues (by Vasan Bala) are realistic.

Manoj Bajpayee is supremely natural and lives the character of Divakar. He acts with effortless ease and makes the character believable. Adarsh Gourav is suitably restrained in the role of Dhruv. He performs ably. Smita Tambe is natural in the role of Nandini. Kumud Mishra lives the role of Robin and underplays the character beautifully. Shubhrajyoti Barat is very effective as Jayant. Pawan Singh (as Hassan) and Bhushan Vikas (as Shinde) lend excellent support. Annapurna Bhairi (as Jayant’s wife), Ahsaas Channa (as Shruti), Ila Bhate (as Nirmala), Vedant Muchandi (as Amrit), Kannan Arunachalam (as Rangarajan), Sandesh Kulkarni (as Arif), Siddharth Chanda (as Digant), Anil Khopkar (as Ajit), Ravi Mahashabde (as Jayesh), Jayahind Kumar (as the truck driver), Yagya Saxena (as Chinmay), Shubham Rawat (as Digant’s friend), Ravin Makhija (as Bhushan) and the others lend the necessary support.

Atanu Mukherjee’s direction is okay. However, it doesn’t really add much to the script in that it is unable to camouflage the shortcomings of the script. Amit Trivedi’s music is fair. Sidhant Mago’s lyrics are quite nice. Anjo John’s background music is okay. Pooja Gupte’s camerawork is alright. Prashant Bidkar’s sets are ordinary. Sanglap Bhowmik’s editing is loose.

On the whole, Rukh is so dull, dry and dreary that it will go largely unno­ ticed at the box-office.

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GOLMAAL AGAIN

Reliance Entertainment, Mangal Murti Films and Rohit Shetty Picturez’s Golmaal Again is a horror comedy.

Gopal (Ajay Devgan), Madhav (Arshad Warsi), Lucky (Tusshar Kapoor), Laxman (Shreyas Talpade) and Laxman (Kunal Kemmu) had been raised in their childhood, in an orphanage run by Jamnadas (Uday Tikekar) in Ooty. The five children had a dear friend in young Khushi (Anaya). Actually, Khushi had been found by young Gopal (Zubain) abandoned at the gate of the orphanage as a new-born. The five friends had run away from the orphanage even while they were kids but after growing up, they still had a soft corner for Jamnadas and his orphanage. While Gopal and Laxman (Shreyas) were together, Madhav, Lucky (who can’t speak) and the other Laxman (Kunal) stayed together.

Gopal is a he-man physically but is terribly scared of ghosts. As luck would have it, the five childhood friends meet in Ooty once again, on the thirteenth day ceremony of late Jamnadas. Gopal and Laxman are always at loggerheads with Madhav, Lucky and Laxman. The five meet Anna (Tabu) and Damini (Parineeti Chopra) in Ooty. Anna is the librarian and also looks after the orphanage, after Jamnadas’ demise. She has the rare ability of seeing and talking to ghosts.

By quirk of fate, Gopal and Laxman have to live in the bungalow owned by Colonel Chauhan (Sachin Khedekar), near the orphanage. The bungalow is known to be haunted but Anna convinces Gopal that she and Damini would take care of him and not let him be harmed.

Meanwhile, builder Vasu Reddy (Prakash Raj) and Dubai-based Nikhil (Neil Nitin Mukesh) have fraudulently acquired the orphanage as they want to construct a building on the huge plot of land by displacing the orphans and sending them to another city. Nikhil is Jamnadas’nephew.

Vasu Reddy hires the services of Vasooli (Mukesh Tiwari) to have the inhabitants of Colonel’s bungalow vacated as he is also eyeing the bungalow. In turn, Vasooli asks Madhav, Lucky and Laxman to scare the daylights out of Gopal and Laxman so that they would run away from Colonel’s bungalow.

Even while the three friends are in the process of frightening away their two friends-turned-foes, Gopal has developed a fondness for Damini which is turning into love. Just on the day Gopal is set to express his love to Damini, the five friends learn about a horrific truth. They also learn that whom they think is Damini, is actually their childhood friend, Khushi. They are told that Khushi had, as a child, been adopted by Colonel Chauhan.

Anyway, the horrific truth prompts the five friends to unite and bring the truth in front of the world. What is the horrifying truth? Do the five friends succeed in bringing the truth in front of the world? What happens to the budding romance between Gopal and Damini/Khushi? Are Vasu Reddy and Nikhil successful in their evil plans of demolishing the orphanage and usurping Colonel Chauhan’s bungalow?

Rohit Shetty’s story is funny and cares little for logic – something he makes clear right at the beginning. Amidst all the funny characters in the story and all the fun and frolic, he brings in an emotional track when the five friends get hold of Khushi’s diary.

Yunus Sajawal’s screenplay is an interesting assemblage of funny incidents aimed at making the audience laugh. Of course, the lack of logic in the story and screenplay would irritate the class audience at times but the masses and families will be so completely taken in by the funny anecdotes that they would not question the lack of logic. In particular, a few of Sajawal’s sequences are simply hilarious and will bring the house down with laughter. For instance, the entire sequence where Gopal runs out of the Colonel’s bungalow but the other friends and Pappi (Johny Lever) are trapped inside and then, Babli (Sanjay Mishra) and Vasooli also join them is outstanding. Similarly, the sequence in which Pandu/Baba (Vrajesh Hirjee) scares Vasu Reddy, and the sequence in which Vasu Reddy addresses the orphans are hilarious. Equally hilarious are the scenes of Pappi blabbering nonsense when he has a memory loss. The sequence in which Anna pretends to be a tantrik who can ward off evil spirits is also very funny. The track of Nana Patekar is a masterstroke. However, the climax is not very effective and, in fact, leaves the audience a bit dissatisfied.

Farhad-Sajid’s dialogues complement Yunus Sajawal’s screenplay beautifully, adding greatly to the humour.

Ajay Devgn acts with effortless ease and delivers a fine performance as Gopal. He evokes a lot of laughter in the scenes in which he is shown to be scared and also when he is coy. Tabu is restrained as Anna. She looks pretty. Arshad Warsi is funny as Madhav. His sense of timing is good. Shreyas Talpade, as Laxman, entertains with his lisping. His sense of timing is also superb. Tusshar Kapoor is endearing in his mute avtaar. Kunal Kemmu is amply funny and stands out in some scenes. Parineeti Chopra is lovely as Damini/Khushi. Neil Nitin Mukesh lends able support as Nikhil. Prakash Raj is outstanding in the role of Vasu Reddy.  He deserves distinction marks for a job effortlessly done. Johny Lever, as Pappi, brings the house down with laughter whenever he comes on the scene. Sanjay Mishra, as Babli, provides fantastic comic support. Vrajesh Hirjee shines in a brief role as Pandu/Baba. Mukesh Tiwari is lovely as Vasooli. Murali Sharma (as police inspector Dande), Vijay Patkar (as Dande’s assistant), Uday Tikekar (as Jamnadas) and Sachin Khedekar (as Colonel Chauhan) lend able support. Ashwini Kalsekar hardly gets any scope to act. Zubain (as young Gopal), Lakshya (as young Madhav), Ganesh (as young Laxman), Tirth (as young Laxman), Saud (as young Lucky), Anaya (as young Khushi), Ishika (as teenage Khushi) and Diksha Sharma (as young Anna) are alright. Nana Patekar’s voice acting is wonderful. His performance in the scene in which he appears physically is very nice.

Rohit Shetty’s direction is very good. He succeeds in presenting a laugh riot to his target audience. His narration is fast-paced and gives the viewers no time to think. Music (Amaal Malik, Thaman S., Abhishek Arora, Nucleya, Lijo George and DJ Chetas) is fair. Hit songs could have made a big difference to the film. Kumaar’s lyrics are okay. Song picturisations (by Ganesh Acharya and Raju Khan) are fair. Amar Mohile’s background music is decent. Jomon T. John’s camerawork is excellent. Action scenes and stunts, designed by Rohit Shetty and choreographed by Sunil Rodrigues, are pretty exciting. Production design (by Swapnil Bhalerao, Tajamul Shaikh and Madhur Madhvan) is of a high standard. Bunty Nagi’s editing is sharp.

On the whole, Golmaal Again is a very good entertainer and will do well at the ticket windows.

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SECRET SUPERSTAR

Aamir Khan Productions’ Secret Superstar (UA) is the story of a young girl from an orthodox Muslim family, who dreams of becoming a singer but her orthodox and strict father comes in the way of realisation of her dream.

Insia (Zaira Wasim), a Baroda-based school-going girl, hails from an extremely orthodox Muslim family where girls are meant to cook in the kitchen, keep the house, and look after their husband and children after marriage. They are not even expected to have a dream or aspirations of any kind. Insia’s father (Raj Arjun) is very strict and backward in his thinking. But Insia, a gifted singer, with only her golden voice and a guitar as her prized possessions, dreams of becoming a top singer. Her mother, Najma (Meher Vij), supports her but she (mother) knows, Insia would not be able to pursue her dream for too long as her father is strictly against girls being seen publicly, that too, in the world of entertainment. Further, Bombay, the city of dreams, seems to be out of their reach as they live in Baroda. Besides Insia and her parents, the family comprises Insia’s little brother, Guddu (Kabir Sajid), and a divorced paternal aunt (Farrukh Jaffer).

Insia is frustrated not just because she may never realise her dream of becoming a singer but also because she sees her mother being abused and beaten up by her dominating father day in and day out. The tolerant mother takes it all in her stride and resigns to her fate but she tries to do as much as she can to keep her two children happy. Like, she buys Insia a laptop one day, with the help of which Insia uploads the video of her first song for the public to hear. As Insia, clad in a burqua and face covered, keeps uploading songs, she becomes an internet sensation. People not just in India but from different parts of the world go bonkers over her voice. Since she keeps her identity a secret so that her father would not know about her singing videos, the media calls the singing sensation a Secret Superstar. Insia gets written about in newspapers and spoken about on TV channels but her identity remains a mystery, known only to her loving mother, little brother and Chintan (Tirth Sharma), a classmate who is in love with her.

Seeing the fire in her, Chintan tells her to contact music director Shakti Kumarr (Aamir Khan) in Bombay, because he has sent her a message of appreciation after watching her videos. But the young Insia has developed a sense of hatred towards the flashy music composer and, therefore, won’t even dream of contacting him. However, one day, Insia agrees to meet Shakti Kumarr because she has a selfish motive (other than singing) in meeting him. What is that selfish motive?

Soon thereafter, Shakti Kumarr invites Insia to Bombay to sing a song for his upcoming film. Insia travels to Bombay, records her song and returns to Baroda – all during her school hours. Chintan is the only one who knows about her Baroda trip which is, in fact, arranged by him.

Insia has to make a secret trip to Bombay once again the following week. Why?

Anyway, even as Insia sees the first ray of hope after having recorded her debut Bollywood song, she is soon devastated to learn that she may after all not be able to make singing her career. Why? Is it because her father won’t allow her to sing? Does her father get to know that she has sung a song for a film? What is it that convinces Insia that she may have to bid goodbye to singing?

What happens finally? Does Insia sacrifice her dream or does she pursue it? Does her mother help her in realising her dream or does she ask her to be her father’s obedient child? Does her father have a change of heart?

Advait Chandan has penned a lovely story about the dreams and aspirations of a young girl and about how her orthodox surroundings come in the way of the realisation of those dreams. His story is a good mix of the traditional and the modern because Insia’s father is very old-fashioned while she herself is a modern girl who uses the internet to gain popularity. The stark contrast makes the film appealing to the youth as much as to the older generation. Advait’s screenplay is wholesome as the film has family emotions, drama, music and a lot of comedy and humour. The comedy and humour – provided by music director Shakti Kumarr’s character – actually make the otherwise uni-dimensional drama, multi-dimensional and wholesome.

The best part of Advait’s screenplay is that it keeps the audience hooked on to the drama right from the start till the very end. The sub-plots are so interesting and engaging that they completely consume the audience. As for the emotions, they will evoke tears from the eyes of the viewers on several occasions. There are two climaxes in the film. The first climax is a family drama and it is absolutely exhilarating. In fact, there would be loud rounds of applause during the first climax and, of course, at the end of it. The second climax is a veritable tear-jerker and it would activate the viewers’ tear ducts. There are several goosebump moments in the second climax, especially when the background music (playing the tune of the film’s song, ‘Main kaun hoon’) heightens the impact of the moment and when Insia reveals her identity by doing something defiantly. The cinemas would resonate with thunderous applause and whistles in the final climax.

Shakti Kumarr’s comedy is fantastic. Whether it is his telephonic conversations or his face-to-face interactions, his comedy is often hilarious and adds a whole new dimension to the drama and the film. In fact, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that a uni-dimensional drama gets converted into a wholesome film because of the character of Shakti Kumarr.

Advait Chandan’s dialogues are extraordinary and several of them (like, for instance, the dialogue at the end of the first climax at Bombay airport) are absolutely clapworthy.

All in all, debut-making writer-director Advait Chandan has penned a mind-blowing script.

Zaira Wasim lives the role of Insia. She gives her all to the character and delivers a heartfelt performance. So lovely is her performance that it would seem as if she were born to play the role. There is not a single scene in which she doesn’t stand out. She is especially excellent in her scenes of frustration. This performance would win Zaira plenty of accolades and awards. Hats off to Zaira Wasim for a job done with a rare understanding. Aamir Khan springs an extraordinary surprise in the role of music director Shakti Kumarr. His acting is so lovely, that too in a character that is so different from the characters Aamir has played in the past, that one can’t help but admire the genius. He is so funny that one doesn’t stop laughing when he is on the screen. His costumes and his entire look complement his character. By the end of the film, he makes the character lovable and endearing. Tirth Sharma shines in the role of Chintan. His awkwardness is his biggest asset and that makes him connect beautifully with the audience. Meher Vij lends terrific support as Insia’s mother, brave in a way, yet timid too. She will become a sought-after actress after this film. In the role of Insia’s father, Raj Arjun is first-rate. With limited dialogues, he terrifies the audience and makes himself completely repulsive, which is the need of the character. It would not be an exaggeration to say that the viewers would hate him from the core of their hearts, which is the need of the character. Farrukh Jaffer is lovely as Insia’s paternal aunt. As the little brother, Kabir Sajid is cute. Mona Ambegaonkar stands her own as Sheena Sabawala. In the tiny role of her receptionist, Dianne Commissariat makes her presence felt. Shamath Mazumdar (as recordist Ali), Manuj Sharma (as Ranjeet, aide of Shakti Kumarr), Dhruv Jagasia (as film producer), Rajan Kumar (as film lyricist) and Nikita Anand Mukherjee (as Insia’s tuition teacher) provide tremendous support. Jasmeet Singh Bhatia is too good as the television anchor. Singer Shaan (playing himself) adds star value. Singer Monali Thakur (playing herself) leaves a mark.

Advait Chandan’s direction is fabulous. His mature handling of the drama is proof that he knows his job and it belies the fact that this is his debut film. Kudos to him for extracting such great work from out of his actors. Amit Trivedi’s music is very good and the songs appeal more in the film. The ‘Main kaun hoon’ song and the ‘Teri hee bani boloongi main’ (slow version) are hit numbers and will become hugely popular. Kausar Munir’s lyrics are par excellence and they deserve distinction marks because they touch the heart. Song picturisations (by Rajeev Surti and Aadil Shaikh) go perfectly with the film’s mood. The last song (end credit titles) has been superbly choreographed by Saniya Malhotra. Amit Trivedi’s background music is outstanding. Anil Mehta does a swell job of the cinematography. His camera angles and shots enhance the emotions of the scenes. Suman Roy Mahapatra and Pallavi Bagga’s production designing is lovely. Hemanti Sarkar deserves full marks for the razor-sharp editing.

On the whole, Secret Superstar is a surefire superhit. It may have started slow but its supremely positive word of mouth will take it to great and unimaginable heights. Ladies and families, especially, will adore the film and ensure that it has a long run at the cinemas. The Muslim population, especial- ly the womenfolk, will identify beautifully with the characters and become the biggest publicists of the film. Business Overseas will also be superb.

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TU HAI MERA SUNDAY

Love And Faith Films’ Tu Hai Mera Sunday (UA) is a slice-of-life film. It is about five friends who find respite in the game of football.

Arjun (Barun Sobti), Rashid (Avi­nash Tiwary), Dominic (Vishal Malhotra), Mehernosh (Nakul Bhalla) and Jayesh (Jai Upadhyay) are five friends who love their game of football every Sunday at Juhu Beach as it helps them give vent to their frustrations. One day, a senile old man (Shiv Subrahmanyam) joins them in their game. He kicks the ball into the head of an influential person as a result of which there is soon a blanket ban on the sport of football on the beach.

The story now unfolds in the everyday lives of the five friends and the new entrant. Arjun meets Kavi (Shahana Goswami), the daughter of the senile old man. He baby-sits the old man to impress Kavi. Why, he even regularly takes the old man to play football with the rest of the team. Rashid meets a new neighbour, Tasneem (Rasika Duggal), and falls in love with the divorcee and her two disabled kids while himself taking tips on cleanliness from her. Dominic, bogged down by a domineering mother (Rama Joshi), also has to now face his insufferable brother, Dennis (Suhaas Ahuja), but the brother’s girlfriend, Vinta (Maanvi Gagroo), is a sweetheart. Mehernosh has a crush on his office colleague, Peppy (Pallavi Batra), and he takes such drastic steps for her that he loses his job. Jayesh is a share broker who is fed up of his large extended family which doesn’t let him live in peace.

All the abovenamed persons come together to tell a story of hope, love, happiness and friendship.

Milind Dhaimade has penned a story which is very real, with real characters. The story unravels the lives of the five friends and people around them, and this happens in a light and humorous manner. The characters in the story are all so relatable that the audience enjoys watching them and their journeys. Milind Dhaimade’s screenplay moves at an easy pace but never gets boring or preachy. In fact, the thread of humour that runs through his screenplay often evokes laughter and keeps the audience entertained and engaged throughout. Since the problems, frustrations and typicalities of each character are diffe­rent from those of the rest, the screenplay unfolds as a mix of varying emotions, all laced with humour and comedy. Perhaps, the only negative point is that there is sadness in the lives of all the characters. Milind Dhaimade’s dialogues are lovely.

Barun Sobti shines in the role of Arjun. He acts with the ease of a seasoned performer. Shahana Goswami is so brilliantly natural that it’s fun to watch her perform. She is absolutely awe-inspiring. Avinash Tiwary is very good in the role of Rashid. Vishal Malhotra delivers a wonderful performance in the role of Dominic. He is extremely realistic. Nakul Bhalla is excellent, especially in scenes of frustration. Jai Upadhyay’s acting is good, making him endearing. Shiv Subrahmanyam leaves a mark as the senile old man. Rasika Duggal is an extraordinary actress and leaves a lovely mark as Tasneem. Rama Joshi lends superb support as Dominic’s mother. Suhaas Ahuja (as Dennis), Maanvi Gagroo (as Vinta), Pallavi Batra (as Peppy), Meher Acharya Dar (as Arjun’s sister, Shruti), Sandip Sikand (as Arjun’s brother-in-law, Dr. Prashant Govil), and baby Jia Vaidya (as Arjun’s niece, Kshipra Govil) lend very fine support.

Milind Dhaimade’s direction is first-rate. Amartya Rahut’s music is enjoyable but the songs aren’t too popular. Lyrics (Milind Dhaimade) are okay. Amartya Rahut’s background music is quite nice. Harendra Singh’s cinematography is good. Shashank Tere’s production designing is of a fine standard. Shyam Salgaonkar’s editing is sharp.

n the whole, Tu Hai Mera Sunday is an entertaining film with a good dose of humour. It deserves to do well but it will not be able to realise even half its potential at the box-office because of its limited promotion, and the many oppositions (new releases and old films). In fact, despite merits, it will go almost unnoticed.

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CHEF

T-Series Films, Abundantia Entertainment and Bandra West Pictures’ Chef (UA) is the story of a chef and how he bonds with his school-going son.

Roshan Kalra (Saif Ali Khan) is a renowned chef working in a well-known restaurant of New York. He is a divorcee but he shares cordial relations with his ex-wife, Radha (Padmapriya Janakiraman) who lives in Kochi in India. Their son, Armaan (master Svar Kamble), lives with Radha.

One day, Roshan beats up a customer for criticising his cooking. This infuriates his boss, Sunil (Pawan Chopra), who fires him from the job. Roshan’s place in the restaurant is taken by close friend and colleague Vinnie (Sobhita Dulipala). With no job in hand, Roshan comes to Kochi in India to spend time with his son.

Father and son bond over talk of food and other things. Roshan soon learns that Radha is set to marry her friend, Biju (Milind Soman). Biju offers Roshan a business proposal – to convert a dilapidated double-decker bus into a mobile restaurant. At first reluctant, Roshan finally comes around. His protege, Nazrul (Chandan Roy Sanyal), joins him after quitting his job at the New York restaurant.

Together, Roshan, son Armaan and Nazrul set up a restaurant in the bus and conduct trial runs in Kochi. But Roshan’s heart is in Delhi – where he had grown up and from where, as a teenager, he had run away from his family as his domineering father (Ram Gopal Bajaj) did not want him to pursue his interest in cooking. So, Roshan decides to take his mobile restaurant to Delhi. Since Armaan has school holidays, he insists on accompanying his dad because he loves him and also because he likes to help his father with running the restaurant. The mobile restaurant has a stopover in Goa and then in Amritsar. Once in Delhi, Roshan calls on his father who doesn’t seem to have forgiven him for running away in his teen days. For Armaan, it is the first time ever that he meets his grandfather.

Before long, it is time for Armaan to return to Kochi. Does he return or does he continue to live with his father in Delhi? Does Roshan’s dad forgive him?

The film is a remake of Jon Favreau’s film of the same name. The story, at the core, is of the bonding between a father and his son. Of course, since he is a chef, the backdrop is that of restaurants and food. In that sense, the film offers only partial novelty.

In the name of screenplay, Ritesh Shah, Suresh Nair and Raja Krishna Menon have served a half-hearted drama which never touches the heart. For one, right in the beginning, the audiences get put off Roshan Kalra when he beats up a customer for complaining about the quality of food served in the restaurant. Whoever does that? Not a hero, for sure. And it’s not even as if the customer is abusive. After the incident, Roshan feels that the customer may have been right but he doesn’t have the courtesy to apologise for his deplorable action. Right from that initial scene, the audience’s sympathy never really goes out to Roshan – whether in his interactions with his father, son or ex-wife or even customers later on. In other words, there’s something terribly wrong about the characterisation. One can’t hope to win over the viewers by presenting a hero for whom the audience’s heart doesn’t beat. Even otherwise, Roshan Kalra talking of principles in life, being a good human being and all that simply doesn’t cut ice with the viewers – if only because he himself had run away from home in his teens, and he had beaten up a customer for probably speaking the truth!

Rather than a fast-paced screenplay, the trio dishes out a screenplay which moves at a leisurely pace. Since the writers haven’t cared to explain why Roshan and Radha had divorced and also because Roshan comes across as badly behaved, his bonding with son Armaan also fails to evoke the sympathy (among viewers) that it should.

Actually, the audience gets the feeling very early on that the drama that’s going to unfold will be half-baked – and that’s exactly what happens. By interval point, it is clear to the viewers that the tadka is missing in this dish (film). And by the time the film ends, the viewers realise that leave alone tadka, the dish (film) has been made without so much as a recipe (good screenplay). Instead of scenes evoking emotions, the three writers have penned some funny dialogues which sound oh-so-cool and which would appeal to, perhaps, 2% of the audience. Whom did the writers think they were writing the film for? Cool jokes, ‘English’ humour and dude-type behaviour are all fine but Ritesh Shah, Suresh Nair and Raja Krishna Menon should’ve realised that they can never fill in for emotions. All in all, the screenplay is shoddy and terribly weak. And one more point – was it necessary to show food in every other scene simply because the film is titled Chef?

Ritesh Shah’s dialogues are ineffective as, like the screenplay, even they fail to evoke the desired emotions.

Saif Ali Khan seems to be miscast in a role that required an actor with a far more sober image. But with his Casanova image, Saif Ali Khan’s performance doesn’t ring true, his characterisation only adding to his tale of woes. His gyaan-giving scenes fall flat on their face. Also, he has looked stocky. Padmapriya Janakiraman looks attractive and acts very well. Master Svar Kamble gives a natural performance but he does irritate in the scenes in which he talks like a grown-up would (director’s fault, not Svar’s). Chandan Roy Sanyal is very real but he hardly gets any scope to perform. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that the talented actor has been wasted. Milind Soman is okay as Biju. Sobhita Dhulipala makes her mark as Vinnie. Dinesh P. Nair doesn’t impress as Alex. And why does he behave like he’s the boss when all he is is the bus driver? Is that another example of cool writ­ing? Ram Gopal Bajaj makes his presence felt in the role of Roshan’s father. Avtaar Singh Sahani lends able support as the Delhi restaurant owner. Pawan Chopra is good as Sunil, Saif’s boss in New York. Master Shaurya Chopra is nice as young Roshan Kalra. Raghu Dixit (as himself) is fair. Others are alright.

Raja Krishna Menon’s direction is below the mark. Like the script, his narration absolutely fails to involve or engage the audiences. Raghu Dixit’s music is so-so. No song is very popular. His background music is okay. Ankur Tewari’s lyrics are nice. Choreography (by Dimple Ganguly and Vijay Ganguly) is average. Priya Seth’s camerawork is alright. Anuradha Shetty’s production designing is okay. Shivkumar Panicker’s editing leaves something to be desired.

On the whole, Chef is a poor fare which simply fails to touch the heart. It would appeal to a very thin section of the elite audience, but for the majority, it would be only as exciting as the prospect of feasting on stale food. At the box-office, it will prove to be a debacle.

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