Saturday, July 12, 2003

unfulfilled desires and wasted technical flourishes

Khwahish: The only person who would term this as "a refreshing film" would be someone who

(a) has not read Erich Segal's Love Story and its numerous filmic adaptations (including old favourites like Ankhiyon Ke Jharokhon Se)
(b) does not know much about acting abilities and the importance of a script to a film

This film was touted as a "bold" venture (because it features 17 on-screen smooches -- yes someone was counting -- which seems to be more of a bad marketing ploy (although it worked for the film, which got some good openings thanks to all those Gandhi stall people desirous of a little ogle-fest). And then there were some film journalists who loved the film for reasons as inexplicable as (a) the great performance by Mallika Sherawat (grow up please! she plays a GhaaTan with as much poise as a stinking dish rag, she knows not what acting is all about, and if she thinks that mouthing lines like "I'm feeling horny" or indulging in a clichéd diatribe on premarital sex is all about crowd-pulling, she's sadly mistaken. She just functions as the object d'ogle in the film) (b) the great singing by Asha (Himanshu Malik plays a 21-year old Rajasthani yuppie. Sure, sure. If that wasn't bad enough, they got the aging Asha to be the "youthful" voice of Mallika's character). If anything works in the film it's the scene where Amar (HM's character) is uncomfortable purchasing condoms. What is not cool is the rather awkward "bold" content in the script, the complete lack of respect for pauses and weighting of words in dialogue (a syndrome last patented in Andaaz), Lekha's nickname for Amar (Sethji), and the fact that they ripped off Love Story so blatantly and didn't even bother to acknowledge it. And yes, Asha excels in Rang Raliyaa.n, but expecting anyone to believe that Lekha could sing that is ridiculous. None of the embellishments in the plot (Lekha's being on a first name basis with her chicken farmer father Ulhas, the trip to Kerala -- the backdrop is wondrous, but the players are not) are useful at all. Shivaji Satam struggles to bring respect to a soggy can of squashed rotten bananas. Don't miss Shahbaaz Khan's howlarious cameo as Dr Mendora (yes, complete with Shahbaaz Khan doing a Big B impersonation at low speed). Any worth in the songs (music review) composed by Milind Sagar (last seen as a guest composer in Pyaar Kiyaa Nahii.n Jaataa) is lost once you catch them on screen. Do yourself a favour -- savour the best of this movie by listening to the songs online or grab a tape in the throwaway bin. Incidentally, there's an acknowledgement to Pandit for the wonderful Maalkauns number ( Raliyaa.n), wonder if it's the same Hindustani classical music exponent of the Kiraanaa gharaanaa? Before I'm done with my rant, I should probably note and wonder about the references to R D Burman that crop up in the film. Explicit references about taste (achchaa tumhe R D Burman to pasa.nd hai na? ... thank god) and gifts ... Again, unnecessary elements, neither required nor exploited (just like Ulhas being a Dada Kondke fan). Oh, and what's with freely filching Joaquín Rodrigo's Allegro Con Spirito from Concierto de Aranjuez?? TRIVIA NOTE: Mallika Sherawat was born Reema Lamba. Since her father was against her getting into modelling and movies (how wise he was!) she used her grandmother's maiden name Gill. Her last film effort was a bit role in Jeena Sirf Mere Liye. Her new name is courtesy director Govind Menon. No use ma'am, didn't help you much.

Narendra Kusnur does a good job summarizing the experience that is 88 Antop Hill, while Deepa Gumaste continues to miss the point. The film is directed by Kulshan Nandy, whose credibility at filmmaking seems to stem from the fact that he is the son of veteran journalist and media figure Pritish Nandy (who has since branched out into film production giving us Kaante and Jhankaar Beats). To echo Kusnur's concern: What is an actor like Atul Kulkarni doing in a dump like this? The film seems to be a fine exercise in using music video moves, wipes, edits and lenses (and some irritating sepia) to distract the viewer from the one large gaping hole in the whole enterprise: a plot. There's a murder, and you don't really care who did it and why. And once you find out, you probably miss it all, because you are rolling on the floor laughing your guts out at the inane denouement. Notable laugh raisers include Rahul Dev (last seen in Supari) who plays a smartass cop, and this dude who plays his deputy Apte (the Marathi one-liners and more references to Dada Kondke are mild smile-raisers in this borefest). This film shot in a time span of 40 days over 27 different locations (none of which was a nuthouse) should be classified in the surreal comedy section. Or a WhatsGoingOn.

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