Friday, November 28, 2003

reviews past: balani runs lola into the ground

Anant Balani made his directorial début in a triviamonger's delight: a movie called Gawahi starring Zeenat Aman, Ashutosh Gowariker, Shekhar Kapur and Ranjeeta. Yeah. The film succumbed to gravity. Triviamongers rejoiced when he made his second movie, Patthar ke Phool, which marked the last film appearance of the late Vinod Mehra and the first of Raveena Tandon. This film tanked too, despite (or perhaps because of, in part) Raam Laxman's tinny songs sung to screechness by Lata Mangeshkar and the enthusiastically misfit S P Balasubramanium (NOTE: the infamous song invoking different road names in Bombay!). Balani then moved to television, directing A Mouthful of Sky, which featured Rahul Bose and a bunch of models/non-actors including Kamal Sidhu, and Milind Soman. And this went into the record books as India's first English soap. The title song wasn't so bad though. And recently Balani splashed back with the dismal Jogger's Park, Mumbai Matinee (which will remain a personal favourite, despite all the strange looks I get), ek din 24 ghante and the unfinished Chameli (Bose again, with Kareena -- ugh -- Kapoor. Sudhir Mishra was last heard to have stepped in to complete the film). Why unfinished? Because of Balani's untimely demise. Of these MM held the most promise for Balani. JP was tired, and ek din... has a bad title, rips off Run Lola Run, linearizes the delectable experiments with time, adds some lame angles and a very very badly placed noirish twist at the end. Bose is fine, Das doesn't do much, and the film has some of the languid quality of MM, but in more abandon. There's way too much slo-mo, the background score sucks for the most part, some of the dialogue and scenes reek, and there are strange hat tips (like the Bates Motel sign reflection running up Das' car). The film has some level of promise though. But I wonder ... (more coming soon)

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