Monday, June 09, 2003

yet another guru, two vikrants and some diluted primal fear ... and not to forget kam akal kii chaay-pattii

As if I hadn't had my fill of people called Guru, I now had to contend with yet another dude called Guru. And not just Guru, but Guru Gulab Khatri (Akshay Kumar). Aka the desi version of Jimmy "The Tulip" Tudeski (replacing the tulip with the rose!). And then there's Anmol Acharya (Aftab Shivdasani), the desi Nicholas 'Oz' Oseransky. All this in Awara Paagal Deewana, a desi melange of The Whole Nine Yards, The Matrix, Mission Impossible II, Snatch. A lot especially, in the humvee-laden fight finalé.

A look at the two photographs on the Planet Bollywood Preview page is proof enough of the confused vision of the film: to look cool, classy, slick and mod OR to continue to cling on to Bollywood's confused mix of traditional costumes and incongruous musical numbers. And this is what describes the film best. Anu Malik, truth be told, provides a soundtrack of songs that are surprising and eclectically all over the place (dholak-based standards, infectious dance hall numbers laden with arabic riffs and vocals, standard love mush duets). The opening credits and the first Aftab song are wonderfully rendered in a postcard dissolve montage. Om Puri poorly managing to stay this side of the ham fence in a brief role, Johnny Lever as ChhoTaa Chhatrii and Paresh Rawal reprising his I_can_do_this_in_my_sleep Gujju_in_the_US act provide all the laughs. The rest is boredom. The villains are boring. The heroines are uninterested and uninteresting. And despite what a lot of people say, Akshay Kumar and Sunil Shetty are still lacking in skills germane to acting and comic timing. And their voices are another issue altogether. All in all, while still being the standard hybrid ripoff characteristic of Vikram Bhat, this is a good way to pass your time.

Another review

Where did the two Vikrants come, you ask? Well, the first is the villain of APD above, and the second is some dude at a party in the opening of Deewangee. Read the last related post, if you will, before proceeding.

Why did Anees Bazmee credit himself to a story that wasn't his at all? Deepa Gumaste echoes my concern. While the opening credit sequence features some nice graphics (faux flash), type and a predictably red-dominated canvas, the rest of the film is a tired exercise in combining the best[sic] of two worlds: Hollywood, and traditional Bollywood. So the first half of this movie is a complete desi take on Primal Fear, minus a lot of complexity of the source plot (Yes, it was pulp, but it still had more substance). The sensitive backdrop of the church is replaced by the conventional backdrop of the music industry. A sinful priest morphs into a devious music exec. Of course, there is enough motivation provided for the crime. And the heinous elements of the crime are diluted by cheesy background music (will someone please get Sandeep Chowta and ditch Raju Singh and his ilk?), bad acting, and the use of the clichéd chhappan (56) as the number of stabs (78 in the original). And Ajay Devgan, despite his abilities, can do little to elevate a role that was buried at the script and plot stage itself. If you are wondering why there are other dudes credited on the screenplay, wait till the second half, which is little more than a hybrid of all those hounded_by_a_crazed_psychopath movies (including desi clones like the Yash Chopra [see rant elsewhere] blood-and-bore fest Darr. Lifeless, and overlong. Another victim, just like APD, of the classic SSH syndrome (that's Sagging Second Half, not Secure Shell!).

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