Tuesday, December 21, 2004

a stylish journey sans substance [being a take on Musafir] [Pune, December 18, 2004]

I marked my baptism at E-square with Sanjay Gupta's latest bright flash in the pan paean to Hollywood. This time around the most obvious source was only one (instead of the at-least-two approach), Oliver Stone's U-Turn based on John Ridley's moderately entertaining Stray Dogs. Sanjay Gupta indulges in his usual heady excessive trip on style and as was the case with Kaante, the style becomes irritating after a while (especially the variations in film speed). The downsides are several: the film visibly flounders about and inches painfully to the end thanks to the absence of a gripping coherent narrative; Koena Mitra looks bad and cheap, and has a terrible voice to match (need I even mention that the word "author-backed" would be completely inappropriate for her part?); Sameera Reddy's much-publicised bold role sadly joins the masses of Udita Goswami, Isha Koppikar, Amrita Arora, Neha Dhupia and the like (although mercifully SR is a bit more restrained). And her accent is more pronounced this time around. And why oh why are the cuss words censored after slapping the film with an A certificate? On the plus side, Sanjay Dutt is clearly having fun hamming it to the hilt. As is Mahesh Manjrekar. Anil Kapoor's sincerity soon moves to sticking out like a sore thumb in an enterprise that didn't ever intend to take itself seriously. Aditya Panscholi's tonsure is his only plus. There's a lot of harmless skin on display, and the film is just a mild exercise in family-rated soft porn. Dutt's knife is the coolest part of the film. And the soundtrack -- which I still dig -- doesn't measure up on the screen (the theatre's robust sound system was unfortunately fed a signal that was heavy on bass and little else). And pray who was the voice on the not-on-the-soundtrack female antaraas of duur se paas jo aaye? The theatre scored a minor plus by featuring all the end credits (note the typo in SHERYA GHOSHAL). And keen observers will note a lot amiss with the print in circulation, especially the second half: there's a small exchange between AK and MM about payment (reference: the preview) and another between AK and SR about an alternative plan for the night (reference: the preview; later on in the film when AK actually enters the house). Perhaps the good old VHS when I get back to the USA will come in handy.

Would some safety-conscious person do something about that spiral staircase we had to use when getting out of the hall at the end of the film?

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