Monday, July 26, 2004

ensemble mayhem

Deewar: Let's Bring Our Heroes Home [another priceless Hindi_title: useless_English_suffix sample, btw]. This proves that the Big B has soldered himself into strictly-for-the-$$ roles. Anyone who casts the talented and underrated Kay Kay Menon in such a thankless role deserves to get his nuts blown to kingdom come. KKM holds his ground in whatever tatters he is offered though, and his introductory scene completely without any dialogue is effective. Other decent moments include:

* The Big B's peer explaining his helplessness

* Akhilendra Mishra telling Akshaye Khanna to walk confidently

The bad moments include:

* Anything featuring Sanjay Dutt (yegads, give me a break. You expect me to believe this chunk of skunk can act???)

* Scenes featuring Akshaye Khanna and Tanuja

* The first song. Oh well, all the songs, really.

Mathematically, neither Akshaye Khanna's age nor the age of his character match up. And the background score[sic] features a riff cogged from the opening of ek pyaar ka naGamaa hai. There are other talented faces in the mix (talent lost in the marsh of mediocrity): Aditya Shrivastava, Virendra Saxena, Raghuvir Yadav, Piyush Mishra. And some familiar now-you-see-me-now-I'm-gone people like Rajendra Gupta and Arif Zakaria. The editor was asleep. Which would explain the fluid slowness of the film. And there's also the obligatory patriotic dirge [aka emotionally charged song about the country, patriotism and all that va.nde maataram-ia]. These guys deserve sepukku. But even that was part of an honourable tradition. Gah!

Aan: Men at Work Madhur Bhandarkar deserves a fate worse than hell without commercial breaks. Not for the alleged rape charge, but for descending from a promising tightly written well-acted film like Chandni Bar to a splurge of stylish stinking toilet paper like Aan: Men At Work. How can a guy who could give Tabu one of her best roles in a long time even think of Akshay Kumar and Suniel Shetty as actors? Or was MB in it strictly to get some mainstream exposure? The style hits you right from the opening quote about a man's finest hour being somewhere near the time he lies exhausted but victorious in the field of battle. A quote from Vince Lombardi. Ye kaun hai? A famous coach for the Green Bay Packers (hey M, you need to watch this film!). Baah! And then there's some more nonsense about a policeman by August Vollmer. After all this, there's this opening credit sequence in grey with splashes of some colour. The film opens with Irrfan Khan, whose opening moments echo his role in Charas. And we get introductions to some of the worst people to ever step up to the acting[sic] podium in Bollywood (Rahul Deo and Suniel Shetty -- who gets to spout some vernacular, and once you've heard that you are convinced that this guy is a language-independent mumbling bad apple), favourites from his last disaster called Satta (Raveena Tandon, Manoj Joshi), people who now belong to classic film history (Jackie Shroff), people capable of more (Om Puri, Anjan Shrivastava, Sri Vallabh Vyas, Vijay Raaz, Rajpal Yadav, Milind Gunaji -- yeah, honestly, it's just that he needs a good director), faces you didn't expect to see (Ajinkya Deo), and some people you thought had the good sense to quit the industry (Lara Dutta, Preeti Jhangiani), and then you have people who live up to all their nostalgic value and can still liven up the proceedings in such a dead enterprise (Shatrughan Sinha). The first word Shotgun ever speaks is (predictably) Kaamosh. Just for him, this film's a winner. If you can wade through hajaar scenes that ape and shame John Woo (including the use of a reflective motif!), filch stuff from bizarrre places like Bringing out the Dead, continue to exorcise clichés like murder during the Ganesh festival (a hit embellished with the background score previously used during Anupam Kher's killing in Parinda), and split screens (Brian de Palma may sue now!). And then the "speech impediment" muting of cuss words continues ... I wonder if it's something in the source print (then why bother to slap on a censor certificate anyways?) or something the DVD creators decided to exercise liberties on.

One of the strangest things about this film is how unimportant the names of all the different characters are. Count yourself observant if you remembered Rajpal Yadav's character's name.

Other moments of style include Akshay Kumar using the butts of guns to repel bullets in a chakravyuuh shootout; A fight where the antagonists repel each other with fists; When Akshay Kumar kills Rahul Dev the colour seeps away from the frames and all you see is the red bullet proceeding at ease from Akki's gun to Dev.

Most obscenities and cusses get muted although Suniel Shetty's slo-mo introductory sequence features an uncensored very slowed down howlarious bit where SS goes (say it very very very slowly) "Thok ... saale ... ko".

And we must thank this film for letting us know that the salary of a constable is Rs. 5327.96 won-lee.

And finally, the section we've all been waiting for: Die-logs

* abbe o tel\-ghii kii chhaTii aulaad. billii ke naaKun baDh jaane se billii sher nahii.n ban jaatii ... aaj ke baad dobaaraa ko_ii aisii harakat kii naa, to ye haath khaane ke laayak to kyaa dhone ke laayak bhii nahii.n rahegaa, samajhaa? (who else but shatru)

* kachchii miTTii kaa gha.Daa hai. dekhate hai.n kitanii barasaate.n jhel paataa hai (once again the shotgun himself)

* ham se bachane ke liye ##they have to be luck-key all the time. but we have to be lucky just once## (akki this time)

* arre o umaraao jaan, apane aap ko rekhaa samajhatii hai kyaa? (for its sheer flipped homage, I'd pick this as my favourite line in the film)

* and let's not forget the Amin/RGV flick nod ab tak chhappan maar chukaa hai

* we end this rant-fest with some subtitles accompanying the song nashaa. Original lyric: ek lailaa ne dil uchhaalaa hai/saare aalam ko maar Daalaa hai ... haaye haaye re cha.Dhaa (etc etc) nashaa nashaa nashaa. The subtitles: one juliet has offered her heart/she has killed the whole atmosphere ... hey, the inebriation has taken effect.

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