posted 04 Aug 2012, 12:59
162.Jism-2 (erotic thriller) ***1/2
Cast: Sunny Leone, Randeep Hooda, Arunoday Singh, Arif Zakaria
Direction: Pooja Bhatt
Duration: 2 hours, 10 minutes
Language: Hindi (A)
* Porn star Izna uses her jism to take revenge on cop-turned-criminal Kabir — but can Izna trust intelligence officer Ayaan?
Jism-2 is a sexy movie — but it's not as dirty a picture as you might expect. Surprisingly, Jism-2 hovers over sex, like a butterfly gliding across one of the many water pools the movie features. The few times the film does jump in, it lands in the shallow end. That's despite a hot start featuring amply-endowed Izna (Leone), all red lingerie, glistening high heels, tight suspenders and generous cleavage, riding intelligence bureau (IB) officer Ayaan (Singh) on a hotel room bed. The film's first make-out scene thus firmly embedded in its first three minutes, Izna wakes to a hangover and an offer.
Ayaan and superior officer Guru Saldanah (Zakaria) will give her ten crores to take revenge on Kabir (Hooda), her former lover who went from honest cop to political assassin — while also going insane. "Isi bahane turn mulk ki madad bhi kar logi," Ayaan tells Izna, who agrees. Why? Because Kabir left her one fine night and vanished.
Hence, pretending to be engaged to Ayaan, Izna moves next door to Kabir, hiding out as a musician in Galle, Sri Lanka. She walks about wearing tiny shorts, clingy tops and a wounded air, even chucking a rock at Kabir who still finds her jism and attitude irresistible. Seeking his secret data, Izna fakes leaving Ayaan to marry Kabir. But there's a problem — Ayaan's in love with Izna. And Kabir's got doubts.
Jism-2 offers several surprises, foremost being Leone's performance. As the dazzling, yet dazed Izna, Leone pulls off a tricky act that showcases both her eyes and bust in equal measure. At times, you forget Leone's physical assets, especially when she seals the film with a dynamite closing line. Sunny may be honey-trap — but despite spending most of the movie in plunging night-wear, she conveys delicacy and grace.
Hooda's act is jerkier — at times, he gazes at Izna with tenderness you can touch. At others, his head-holding anguish makes you wince. The direction is shaky — in one sequence, Kabir's practically killing a cello with his song, hacking the instrument to the screechy Ishq bhi kiya — but then, according to the IB, he is going insane.
Still, Jism-2's second surprise is the quality of Hooda's voice, almost Naseer-like at times, warm, caressing, with perfect diction. This, despite the ridiculous lines the actors mouth, like "Us jaanwar ko apne dil mein paala tha usne, she knows him best."
Zakaria's saddled with the worst. Describing his work, he says, "I'm like a mukhiya without the moustache", looking uncomfortable throughout his badly-fitting role. As does Singh, who sulkily pouts his way through, telling Izna to read their fake love story in a novel — "Especially pages 16 to 30 — aur padhne ke baad jala dena." Which, being busy, she doesn't, leaving interesting reading for Kabir to find.
Without such plot absurdities, Jism-2 could have tighter. Slicker. And hotter. Instead, with unexplained turns (how does Izna go from good girl to porn star?) and over-act-ing, it's often limp, salvaged by its last 20 minutes of suspense when Izna learns new facts about the IB.
Still, Jism-2 offers one more surprise, earning it a couple more points. It's pleasingly aesthetic, all its sensuousness clad in spa-like serenity, its lighting — golden gossamer, dusty hazes, cool, pale moonlight — actually its sexiest asset. Thank heavens for foreplay.
163.The Dark Knight Rises (action) ****
Cast: Christian Bale, Tom Hardy, Anne Hathaway, Liam Neeson, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine
Direction: Christopher Nolan
Duration: 2 hours 45 minutes
Language: English (U)
* It's been eight years since Batman was last spotted on the streets of Gotham. For him, it's Mission Retirement. But now'the city is under threat from terrorist Bane. An easy job, especially when the Dark Knight is keeping a close tab on all that's going on in his city.
Hey Gothamites! This is your last chance to hoot, whistle, clap, scream... and do everything possible to cheer for your iconic superhero who makes a final appearance in this epic conclusive part of Hollywood's greatest trilogy of the 21st century. So what if that hero is turning all grey! So what if we see him falling and failing each time he tries to rise! So what if the movie really makes you wait in order to get a glimDse of Christian Bale do what he
does best. For when he puts on that mask, you get your paisa's worth. The end result: You end up wanting more!
Now just in case you are expecting the Joker kinda pack of fun (yes, Heath Ledger's Joker still has an edge over this one) here, remember this movie is only and only about Batman. Precisely what we want, right? Of course, there's the new recruit Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway) who, a bundle of spiky fun, is smart, sexy and convincing as the jewel thief dressed as Catwoman. Not to miss out is Tom Hardy, the bad guy whose Bane is an evil mix of brawn, brains and digitized vocals. For the rest, it's over to Batman's holy trinity — Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman and the ever-faithful butler Michael Caine.
As for the plot, this is where all the earlier and incomplete links are joined together... till everything falls in place. But hey, remember there's Batman (Christian Bale) too! Never more vulnerable.... never seen struggling so much before — emotionally and physically — to make Gotham a crime-free city... never before so charged up!
Now for the action: Unlimited. The background score: Heart thumping. The special effects: Well, the magic of the Batmobile and the batty antics — flying, and all that — is still heart-stopping. But it is The End — all that super bang-bang stuff and the surprise! surprise! element that forces you to get back to doing all that you did when this movie began — hoot, whistle, clap, scream... and do everything possible to cheer! So Just Go and Do (read Watch) it!
164.Krishna aur Kans (animation) ***1/2
Cast: Voice of Om Puri, Juhi Chawla, Manoj Bajpayee, Anupam Kher, A K Hangal
Direction: Vikram Veturi
Duration: 2 hours
Language: Hindi (U)
* Life is a curse for the inhabitants of this kingdom that is ruled and threatened by the evil Kans. Can someone put an end to all this mess? Yes, the eighth son of Devaki... provided he escapes the wrath and injustice of his maternal uncle, Kans.
We don't really have a whole lot of films back home specially made for kids. Now that is not the only reason to watch this movie. Krishna aur Kans is undisputedly a visual delight (specially in 3D) with psychedelic, vibrant colours, and voiceovers that ain't all that bad. While Om Puri's Kans is convincing as the bad guy calling the shots, Juhi Chawla is perhaps the voice every tween would relate to. She in fact seems to be re-living the tedha-hai-phir-bhi-mera-hai Yashodan spirit all throughout. Sadly, it's Manoj Vajpayee that seems a bit unheard.
But then making up for all that are the special effects: Krishna fighting all the demons and evil spirits... Krishna playing the flute for the first time ever as autumn leaves fall all over... Krishna stealing all that makhan. Throw in some songs by Sonu Nigam, Sunidhi Chauhan, Shreya Ghoshal — though a wee bit extra for kids to handle — and the weekend shall be worth the wait for tweens out there.
Kudos to the filmmakers for bringing to life the very tale we have all grown up on. That is why mommies and daddies are not likely to complain as far as the seen-that-heard-that plot goes. Also, that is perhaps why the long, long wait for the real action starts only after the first round of the popcorn is over.
But when Krishna (he's pretty cute, buddies!) is seen in action, specially giving all those much-awaited blows to a guy triple his size, in the final shots, you won't really mind a second round of popcorn. Paisa vasool, the bachcha party is bound to say!
Just one problem: The dialogues. Analyse this: 'Vrishniyo, Anneyadawo, Bandigrihi, Rajdroh, Karanhaar, Sarwapramukh, Ardhika, Trinavarth, Jadui chitwan, Kiranyana, Awtarit, Parpurnta'... and a whole lot shudh Hindi stuff. Come on guys! We are talking (and catering) to a generation of hardly-many-words (forget difficult ones) that's growing up on FB... Twitter... SMSing. Wot say u?
165.Step Up Revolution (musical) ***
Cast: Kathryn McCormick, Ryan Guzman, Cleopatra Coleman, Stephen Boss
Direction: Scott Speer
Duration: 1 hour 39 minutes
Language: English (U/A)
* Emily Anderson (Kathryn McCormick), a girl who wants to make it big with her moves, meets Sean (Ryan Guzman), falls in love with him, and soon joins his dance troop. Perfect ending? Not really since MOB (the dance troop) has got to win a contest for a major sponsorship opportunity.
When it's the Step Up series you're talking about, you know what the deal is all about. It's not about putting on the dancing shoes, but putting on the tights. And once done, nothing can stop our bunch of street dancers from turning into Miami's most happening movers and shakers.
They are ready to show their moves just about anywhere (in the middle of a bustling street; on the top of cars). They are ready to shake a leg or two to almost any music (in this case, it's the honking of cars). They are ready to do it just about anytime (what better way to kill time in a traffic jam than go the dancing way). So if dance is what you're looking for, you are not, going to be disappointed.
But if it's the plot, then here it goes: Step Up (2006) was all about street dancer Channing Tatum getting the nuances of ballet right. Step Up 2: The Streets (2008) was all about yet another ballet dancer getting the moves right on street. As for Step Up 3D (2010), it was all about the war of street dancers. Talk of the 2012 version and it's dancing done for a cause. Of course, making up for all that lack of a great plot is the music, some great chemistry between the lead pairs — Ryan Guzman and Kathryn McCormick, winner of the So You Think You Can Dance series — and of course, the cutting-edge flash mobs.
So you think you can (handle all that)
166.Gattu (drama) ***1/2
Cast: Mohammad Samad, Naresh Kumar, Jayanta Das
Direction: Rajan Khosa
Duration: 1 hour 20 minutes
Language: Hindi (U)
* An illiterate street boy has only one ambition - to fly kites and reign supreme in the blue skies. And he will turn around everything in his small world to string his dream together.
So meet Gattu (Mohammad). A typical street kid. Dreaming of flying sky-high. But no supersonic jets or choppers in his dreams really. Like the famous seagull called Jonathan Livingston, who only wanted to fly higher and higher, what this poor, illiterate boy (living in small-town Roorkee) lives for, is a string, a brightly coloured, diamond shaped patang. And of course, some breeze to lift his spirits and help his kite soar. The only driving force in his measly existence (living under an open roof, with tin drums for walls, and odd-jobs for a paltry sum of Rs 20 a day) is his knack for flying kites. Even his chachu's (Naresh Kumar), at times, harsh and tyran-
nical pressures to work for a living don't suppress his blithe spirit.
In fact, with a few cutely devilish traits, bubbling energy and sparkling eyes, Gattu is a sweet soul, always sun-washed with hope. He has only one problem — Kali! A mysterious black patang (believed to do patang ka jaadu-tona), who has for many years, defeated all other kites in town, and no one knows who is her master.
Our Mr-smarty-half-pants who thinks on his feet, realizes that the only way to beat Kali is to fly his kite from the highest point, which is the local school terrace. And he pulls all 'strings', literally, to take on the 'black diamond' in the blue skies. Even if it means sneaking into school, pretending to be Agent Gattu', disguised as a student, lying to chachu, creating a web of ingenious stories and antics (of wafadar jasoos, aatankvadis, and barood) that leaves everyone convinced, charmed and confused at the same time. Rightly, a mind of a child is truly magical; all they need is sand to make a castle. Or a handmade kite to save the world.
Mohammad Samad's performance is heart-warming, with wonder in his eyes and playful innocence he grabs all your attention. His confined world suddenly opens doors, and as he gets lessons on gravity and goodness, science and sach ki jeet, his large eyes twinkle with amazement — like he's just spotted an ET on Earth.
Naresh Kumar plays his part well, as the austere chachu harrowed by Gattu's guts, who eventually melts and embraces him. Director Rajan Khosa has intelligently made a children's film (which has been applauded in the festival circuit) that truly crosses all age barriers. It subtly throws light on compelling issues like child illiteracy and child labour without shouting from terrace-tops or turning into a preachy docu-drama.
In one moment the story is purely simple, and in the other it's profound enough to move you, if not theatrically shock you. It's greased with a kind of paradoxical reality, yet, it leaves you upbeat. Gattu is a must-watch for children of all ages (read: grown-ups even more). And if you think you're too grown up for a kiddie film, go fly a kite. Maybe that's the real trouble with the world, too many people grow up too soon. We should just let the little one's in us rule the world.
167.Mere Dost Picture Abhi Baki Hai (comedy) **1/2
Cast: Suniel Shetty, Rajpal Yadav, Rakesh Bedi, Udita Goswami, Om Puri, Neena Gupta, Shayan Munshi, Shawar Ali Direction: Rajnish Raj Thakur
Duration:: 2 hours 5 minutes
Language: Hindi (U/A)
* Aspiring director struggles for his first Bollywood break; and ends up in a satirical look at behind-the-scenes Bollywood, in twisted fashion.
Lights! Camera!... Uh, huh, Reaction!? ... If you're 'allergic' to movies on movies, you're bound to get one. If you can digest anything Bollywood ... Picture this. So, here's a film on making films. A picture-in-a-picture. (All those harbouring a secret 70mm dream; and all wannabe filmmakers may please note) - You may throw away those books on 'All You Need To Know About Filmmaking'. Walk in right here, but wait, review abhi baaki hai. Hoo haa! Action'!
Amar Joshi (Suniel Shetty) lives, breathes and sleeps cinema. His Bollywood dream takes him from Benaras to Britain for a course in filmmaking, and of course, he lands in the Mecca of movies — Mumbai. Hereon, the picture begins. With a script for a movie titled 'Cheekh'(yup, we screamed when we heard that too) — based on a true story of a journalist who gets raped—he wanders from producer to producer, from Kamal Amrohi studios to Film City, to clinch a movie deal.
Joining him on this filmi safar is his friend and wannabe actor, Suraj (Rajpal Yadav), who believes his talent has been 'raped' by the industry, and that he's an extraordinary actor who's been made an 'extra'. So what if he can't get a single dialogue right in the Pawan Putra Hanu-man telly show (the only episode on his filmography), and at every chance he literally molests the angrezi language.
Uff, so utterly 'castrating' (read: 'frustrating'! Yeah, it all goes like that!) But hold on, it's not 'interval point' yet.
Amar suffers endless encounters with directors—some wanting to sensationalize 'Cheekh' with kaata laga items et al (obviously sex sells); others wanting the damsel-in-distress to turn into a devi. ' Some wanting her to be Chandni and/or Damini, and some wanting to change the title to 'Kiski Cheekh' ('K' factor, gettit?)
After all, the film is for the 'multisexes' (read: plexes) right? Finally, Amar meets Monti;'; (Rakesh Bedi), a filmi 'fixer' who gets him a foot in a door. Believe it or not, abhi aur bhi baaki hai (Scream!).
What follows is an endless trail of repetitive events and countless characters — Dons, starlets, music-directors, writers, actresses plus moms, action-heroes plus side-kicks, and romance badshaahs plus songs. (Double Scream!!)
Suniel Shetty, casually walks through his part, his comic timing intact, but with a script that's a series of forced episodes, even a macho man can't save the day Rajpal Yadav, is hilarious in parts (apart from adding splashes of colour with his wardrobe). Rakesh Bedi tries hard but ends up with a high-pitched, hammy performance. Om Puri is unfairly wasted; and the rest of the 'extras' seem like they're auditioning for their first break.
Director Rajnish Raj Thakur, attempts a behind-the-scenes dekho of Bollywood — an expose, a tongue-in-cheek reality check of sorts (there are a few laughs, and funny references to real Bollywood people), but eventually rolls out a mash-up of an incomplete showreel.
Get the picture? For screaming out loud...
168.Challo Driver (romcom) **
Cast: Vickrant Mahajan, Kainaz Motivala, Prem Chopra, Manoj Pahwa
Direction: Vickrant Mahajan
Duration: 1 hour 34 minutes
Language: Hindi (U)
* A chauvinistic, almost anal boss. A sexy siren of a chauffeur championing 'women's equality' and a promised joy-ride that will shift your gears.
he wants to go 'all the way'. He wants to take the backseat bet. But who takes whom for a ride? We 'dare' you to find out. Because a 'dare' is the only thing that gets a rise out of the man in the rear view. 'Driven' in top gear by a sexy chauffeur who likes her hand on the stick-shift and honking for the heck Meet Tanya (Kainaz Motivala). An aaj ki naari — modern, independent, ambitious, with oodles of attitude and tons of make-up. Her ideal job is to do something unique (Wow, what an idea! Zzzzz!); She believes if men can be makeup artistes, then women can be chauf-: feurs too (SUVs only please). So she's part-adventurous, part-feminist without a plan ('women can do anything a man can do you see'). Thus, when she sees a post of a job of chauffeur (for a high-profile client) to drive his fancy wheels, she grabs the steering opportunity. She's interviewed by her future boss' dadaji (Prem Chopra), who's floored by her guts, attitude and 'research' ('Did you know, women are involved in 37% lesser accidents compared to men?' Uh huh!); and Dadaji believes that driver-devi is the daredevil who can change the way his rich spoilt pota, Arjun (Vickrant Mahajan), looks at life — mostly anally!
She jumps into a self-designed white uniform (Driver-deui probably forgot that she was driving a car, not an aircraft), with coloured kohl-lined eyes (they change everyday, matching her moods maybe?) and reports on duty in time. Go girl! Meanwhile, Arjun turns out to be an idiosyncratic and arrogant backseat boss (his colleagues call him 'Terminator' — honk honk!), almost a slave-driver, who behaves robotically at times.
The only thing that 'turns him on' is winning a bet. So our diva-driver challenges him to play 'driver-driver' for a few days; and he takes it on. They exchange a few dialogues, turn on the ignition (by lowering the airconditioning in the car, really!), listen to some drive-music that he detests; and somehow still fall in love, like co-pilots in a romance cockpit. Chho Chweetl Of course, overnight this machine turns into man (with humanly feelings and blood gushing through his veins instead of engine oil); while 'chauffeurina' turns into a gushing girlie girl.
Vickrant Mahajan's debut is as blah as Mumbai in peak traffic, inspite of all his designer suits, he lacks the persona to pull off a high-speed debut.
In the direction area, this concept could be wittily humorous, but it's punctured by uninspiring dialogues, zombie-like expressions and speedbreaker-scenes. Kainaz Motivala is strictly average. Sweet in parts, but lacking the spunk to champion her women's lib cause. Manoj Pahwa (as her uncle) — with loud and stereotypical Punju mannerisms, entertains; the only one who makes the ride home a tad smoother.
If we dozed off at the wheel, don't blame us. Do they still say women make better drivers? Zzzzz!
169.Total Recall (sci-fi) ***l/2
Cast: Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale, Jessica Biel, Bryan Cranston, Bokeem Woodbine
Direction: Len Wiseman
Duration: 1 hour 58 minutes
Language: English (U/A)
* Douglas Quaid is bored of a life where everything is perfect and everyday is like any other day. Hence he is on the lookout for some fun perhaps a chance to live his dream for real. What better way to do that than go in for a recall session. Time for dreams to come true? Or dreams to be shattered?
And you thought it's time to recall...rewind... reboot... the 1990 movie by the same name. Well, the plot is almost same, but rest assured, Total Recall 2012 is understandably more hi-tech, racy and edge-of-the-seat kind of sci-fi thriller. But first, time for a little self-recall: Enter Circa 1990. Arnold Schwarzenegger as Douglas Quail has a dream to live on Mars. Getting him back to reality each time is his wife Lori, till realities clash with memories at the Rekall centre.
What follows next is a war on Mars... for Mars... by the Martians. Of course, the one standing tall is none other than Arnold himself as the man who is all out to get his facts in place. That's about all. Now this is exactly where the repackaged Total Recall breaks away from its predecessor.
Colin Farrell's Quaid is more quick with the kicks, good with the gadgets, great with the guns... and good with the babes. And when he is all confused, courtesy the reality versus fiction war, he looks it. Of course, he is smart to live in the moment: For him, it is not about who he was, but who he is. In this case, fighting for the right cause.
But the real surprise package in here is none other than Kate Beckinsale. Her punches do manage to give all action buffs the ample kick. As for all you playstation freaks, ample jaw dropping stuff out there — flying cars getting bashed up, helicopter chase aplenty, laser guns with special abilities to grip the victim, palm phones (literally), state-of-the-art monorails and lifts, super-tech buildings, gravity reversal moments, terrorist attacks and a clash of the United Federation of Britain with the Colony.
Finally, for the literary buffs: What would have Total Recall (both the 1990 and 2012 version) been without Philip K Dick's short story titled: We Can Remember It For You Wholesale.
So have no illusions... for Total Recall (2012) has no Martian landscape... no Martian tales... no Martians themselves, yet ample to go in for a total recall — a new memory implant, we mean!
170.Shuttlecock Boys (docudrama) ***1/2
Cast: Aakar Kaushik, Manish Nawani, Alok Kumar, Vijay Prateek
Direction: Hemant Guha
Duration: 1 hour 45 minutes
Language: Hindi (U/A)
* A shuttlecock gaming session for buddies Gaurav, Manav, Pankaj and Loveleen is the beginning of many-a-new innings....
Why shouldn't boys have all the fun!
After all, boys like Aakar Kaushik, Manish Nawani, Alok Kumar and Vijay Prateek, along with director Hemant Guha, are all out to let their hair down, be themselves and give life a chance. That is precisely the theme of this very-low-on-publicity and equally low-on-budget movie.
But who cares. You don't need money, publicity or a big star cast. You just need an idea. With no business card, no sale proposition, no office, experience or recommendation, these four boys take up a catering business — Shuttlecock catering — not so much to make money (of course, these middle class guys have a moolah issue), but also to give things a try. Pass or fail comes later. And if this is what the filmmaker had in mind while making this docudrama, it's a thumbs up. At least you tried, buddy!
Back to the movie. Unlike other not-so-good low budget guy movies that usually show suicide post failure, dirty underwears in their rooms and hunks running after scantily clad college girls, this one gets all its one-liners pretty bang on. Situational to the core. For instance, when they get their first contract, the boys realise they don't have a kitchen to cook. And when they get a kitchen, the boys realise no one knows how to cook, cut, clip and chop. What next? Watch it.
Don't go by the title. Don't go by the cast. Just go for the idea the movie is based on; Give it a shot!
171.Yeh Jo Mohabbat Hai (romance) *
Cast: Aditya Samanta, Nazia Hussain, Mohnish Bahl, Rati Agnihotri, Farida Jalal
Direction: Shree Narayan Singh
Duration: 2 hours 21 minutes
Language: Hindi (U/A)
* Two young people meet abroad, fall in love, sing songs and come up against warring families in a stereotypical story from the past.
Yeh kya hua, kaise hua, kab hua, kyon hua? If you know the answers to these profound questions asked in Arnar Prem years ago, we pray, tell us too, please! Almost four decades later, Amar Prem's maker Shakti Samanta's grandson Aditya Samanta arrives in a movie called Yeh Jo Mohabbat Hai in the hope of recreating the magic of Shaktida. However, this germ of an idea remains that, a germ. Never really sprouting into an idea, sirji. What is obvious is the complete lack of it. Making this an almost unbearable watch. Even 'Pushpa's (made legendary by Rajesh Khanna) tears would have frozen on seeing this non-amar prem kahani.
Karan Choudhury (Aditya Samanta) and Karishma Rathore (Nazia Hussain) are meant to be together (guess what... they were born on the same day. So original nat) until their warring families do them part. In the city of Udaipur, the age-old battle (of blood and business) between the Choudhury and Rathore families; is as \ popular as the purani hawelis and panoramic palaces.
Karan and Karishma meet at Krakow University (Poland), and after (predictably) bumping into each at jogging tracks (she skates into his arms. Ooof!) and ice-cream trucks, they fall in love (obviously making complete use of Poland's topography in song sequences). Oh yes, there's more. Some more forgettable songs, (sweet) nothings, (laughable) lover's tiffs, and finally the twist-in-the-tale. OMG!
The venue switches to Udaipur. Enter Tai-sa, Bhai-sa, Maa-sa et al, with saris and jewellery heavier than their roles. Of course, the romance continues — this time against the backdrop of forts and fortresses, with the help of foreign-returned friends, plus embarrassing tributes to classic love stories (read: DDLJ). The hatred between the khandaans intensifies, the lovers are in despair, bullets are fired, monotone-ous flashbacks appear and torturous (for us) tears wash away caked-up faces. But by then, we are asking yeh kya hua again!
Aditya Samanta looks too underprepared and awkward to face the big screen. His blah-blah expressions (no thanks to some hackneyed dialogues) add nothing to this uninteresting story. Tight tees, jackets, foreign locales and well-shot frames sadly don't promise a grand debut, right?
Nazia Hussain is pretty and confident, but fairly over-dramatic and squeaky during emotional scenes. And of course, in desperate need of a style make-over and a crash course in propah make-up.
Rati Agnihotri delivers a jerky performance as a typical mother. Farida Jalal walks straight out of her 'Balika Vadhu' cameo (she's called Tai-sa in both). While Mohnish Bahl plays the hum!), but even he can't guess head or tail of what the plot is all about.
So who does, really? Not the director (Shree Narayan Singh) even. With the Mother of all cliches (acting directing, costumes, dialogues), a mash of several love stories, and a fatigued formula, the director loses the plot; if there was one to begin with. The only relief for our by-now strained, pained eyes (awaiting a glimpse of hope) were the picturesque locations and fairly good production values.
Take our advice, if you have nothing to do this weekend, then do nothing.
Cast: Amit Purohit, Abhimanyu Singh, Murali Sharma, Rituparna Sengupta, Raghuveer Yadav, Vijay Raaz, Omkar Das Manikpuri, Harsh Rajput, Pitobash, Aabid Shamim, Ruhi
Direction: Manish Manikpuri
Duration: Two hours
Language: Drama U/A
* Rahul and friends take on Dantewa-da's Naxals — with music. Will guns or guitars win this deadly battle?
Right up, Aalaap is unabashedly a, movie by debutantes — its director, cast and crew are largely first-timers. This has pluses and minuses. At its heart, Aalaap is a tense drama, portraying young college students caught in a violent political face-off. But like a guitar left out in humid air, its strings sag - and snap - at times.
Set in Chhattisgarh, Aalaap opens with a college music show rocked by Rahul (Purohit), the state's best student, an annoyingly perfect young man to whom district magistrates turn when they want some 'good influence' spread about. Rahul joins the DM's right-hand man, Bachchi bhaiyya (Raaz in a short but crackling role) to win over the state's most rebellious rockers, Subhash, Brajesh and Prashant (Pitobash, Shamim and Rajput, the last eye-catch-ing with attitude and a braid), and put on a show.
Rahul's good-boy influence spreads onto the three idiots. But the foursome's suddenly thrown into a situation where before their eyes, an army truck full of friendly jawans gets blown up, a seemingly calm doctor Bharti (Sengupta) turns out to be a Red colluder and in a
town of chaos, curfew descends. The boys are traumatized by the violence — till they decide to play music across the divides.
One day, they're invited to the core of the Naxal corps where Andhra ideologue Anna Reddy (Sharma, whose dramatic heft holds the role together) watches them rock and roll. Interestingly, many of the Naxals are heavily-kohled, just one step removed from Sholay's Kaalia. But
in rather a sweet sequence, Gabbar learns to rock, albeit briefly because that's just when top-cop R P Singh (Singh) descends on the camp in a blaze of gunfire. Trapped between hostile Naxals and trigger-happy troops, will the boys survive?
Aalaap's frames are notably fresh, capturing the state's raw beauty, its gam-chchas, guitars, upwardly-mobile coffee bars and dark woods well. The editing is khata-khat quick and cameos by Yadav and Manikpuri, Rahul's rickshaw-puller father and uncle, add a little Peepli-lite to the proceedings. But there are serious drawbacks too—both Purohit and Singh are weak links in the chain, often wooden enough to rival the sal trees of Dantewada.
Some of the dialogues are heavy with | cliches. Announcing they're gonna battle • the Naxals, one guy says," Unhi ke sholon | se unhi ko raakh bana denge hum". There » is no serious analysis at all of the conflict | and while Rahul has a 'sweet girl' Su-I kriti (Ruhi), her role is as negligible in I the film as in his life. An item number I features curvaceous Miss Sri Lanka I Gamya Wijayadasa — but falls mysteriously flat.
On the upside, Aalaap makes an effort to depict people caught in troubled times. Sometimes — in a shot showing Yadav weeping without words, the blue walls of his humble home bathed in golden gloomy light, in an exchange between Bharti and Anna, in depicting a callous, clueless regime — it does that well. A lot of the time, it falters. But its sincerity helps as does its music. Debutante rock group Agnee's composed more than a passable score, particularly the number 'Paaparapa' which hums away in your mind well after you've left the hall. Good job, Agnee — welcome to Bollywood. For the others, there's still some way out of the woods.