Thursday, April 14, 2005

insan [april 04/05, 2005]

From director K. Subaash (who TF?) and producer Keshu Ramsay (representing the reoriented Ramsay Brothers production house) comes another welcome addition to the JaDe project. Insan is mostly a tired reminder of the assembly line flicks that inundated the 80s and 90s featuring communal discord, violence, murder, vengeance and pointless song and dance sequences. This film revisits that bygone era with renewed vigour and a "naaTak in generals" look that makes it look more like a sad production for DoorDarshan than a movie for the cinema hall (perhaps it was appropriate that I was watching a video tape!). Onward ho!

the characters and players: Ajay Devgan is Inspector Ajit Rathod, an enraged righteous inspector grieving the death of his skinny wife Sonali (played by the emaciated thong-thrashing Koena Mitra). Devgan gets to smoke cigarettes in his patent-pending style, behave like a clichéd patriot, indulge in a heart-rending flashback, and find a chance for second love with Lara Dutta's Meghana. The only thing we really know about Meghana is that by the time the climax is due, she is a TV journalist/reporter. Tusshar plays a struggling actor sick of star kids and their tantrums (the irony, the irony). For his efforts on the screen, he finds his foil in another struggling actress Laila. Akshay Kumar plays Amjad, a fast-talking wise-cracking rickshaw driver. Akki is the only one who makes good in this enterprise. Lacking any measured acting abilities, he simply lets his lines gush at the speed of silver lightning with a now-trademark style; and somehow it works (which only indicates how sorry this whole affair really is). The object of his affections is Henna, played by the scarecrow Esha Deol. Rahul Dev plays the villain of the piece, Azhar Khan, Amjad's disillusioned-now-sociopathic brother.
Also on the roster playing parts that are barely written out even in the basic form, or parts that have been done to death are the late Laxmikant Berde as Laxman, Archana Puran Singh and Sharat Saxena as Henna's parents, Asrani as a director, Vivek Vaswani as a lecherous movie producer, Viju Khote in a short uncredited appearance, Mac Mohan as the short-lived Parvez, Beena as Amjad's mother, Himani Shivpuri as Laila's aunt. The award goes to this dude (whose name I didn't catch) who plays Masoud Ali (Azhar's comrade, now in prison) �- this guy uses a Sanjeev Kumar imitation to deliver his lines.

the song and dance: Himesh Reshammiya delivers yet another disgustingly cheap-catchy tune with chunarii re. Dude, don't you have any other way of getting a dance number out? The other songs in the film give the various players a chance to shake a leg (or in the case of Koena Mitra, shake everything in a distributed fashion). kuchh garamii kuchh sardii (rain rain rain) makes its way to the bad lyrics bank (see also: on the roof in the rain), and despite the lyrical references, fails to fulfil the need for a rain song. Fake sets abound in jab se (rabbaa) (as well as during the climax) and is tarah diiwaane features Koena Mitra's jiggle-a-thon.

classic sequences: patriotism: Ajit Rathod arrives at Masoud's cell at night. Masoud has said a lot earlier in the day, and the presence of his superiors had forced Rathod to stay silent. He has now come to proffer his response. He gets Havaldar Ram Singh to hold up a tricolour (one of those kiddie versions), gets Havaldar Bashir Ali to hold up a printout(?) in Urdu of a précis (it would appear) of the Indian national anthem and then gets Masoud to recite it and then salute the flag. While this tasteless, brain-dead and pointless, I wonder why none of those political organizations concerned about national pride had anything to say about this.

classic sequences: torture: This sequence is enough to make the film worth the watch.

Here's the set-up. Masoud has just been captured. He is sitting on a chair near the centre of a room. The only other people in the room are Rathod (Devgan) and his associate. An interrogation is in progress, and Masoud is not talking. Rathod now steps in to guarantee results (taking generous stylish drags of his cigarette).

Rathod: tumane kabhii ##carrom## khelaa hai? ... (at this point, he realizes that perhaps the game was banned in the place that Masoud came from) dekhaa to hogaa. kabhii kabhii ##right side## kii goTii ko nishaanaa lagaane ke liye ##striker## ko ##left side## se maaranaa pa.Dataa hai. ise ##ricotiation## kahate hai.n. (note: the actual word, in case you were wondering, is ricochet)

Rathod then proceeds to demonstrate by firing at the plate on the front of a cell door. After a splash (cheap CGI) of light, the bullet rebounds (mercifully this is hinted at using sound) to knock off a soda can strategically placed there at the beginning of the scene.

Rathod: ye ittefaaq nahii.n tha. ##wasn't a fluke##. phir dekhanaa.

Rathod proceeds to demonstrate again. This time the victim of the bullet is on the other side. He then slowly brings his face closer to Masoud's.

Rathod: mai.n jaan gayaa huu.N ki tum jaan gaye ho ki mai.n achchhii tarah jaanataa huu.N ki ab mujhe golii kahaa.N chalaanii hai aur tumhe.n kahaa.N lagegii. ye ##incident## nahii.n ##accident## hogaa.

other lines of dialogue: The film gets an 'A' certificate, and perhaps that is enough to explain the use of the word Tharakii. And there's a moment when Avinash (Tusshar) gets his family jewels kicked and Amjad notes avinaash, tere akroT gaye. And we have Pakistani terrorists played by extras who can't speak Urdu to save their lives.

contributions to history: Lashkar-e-Jihad is the terrorist group that Azhar and Masoud belong to. At one point, a reference is made to the Gujarat riots and credit is claimed for the September 11, 2001 disaster in the USA.

miscellany Notice the product placement for Pepsi. The prisoner's outfit that Avinash (Tusshar) dons at one point in the film bears the number 420. Titles of fake movies include Krantikari and Mughal-e-Azam: the Love Story 2005. Before the end credits roll, a few words pop up on screen: The world is my country. All mankind are my brethren. And to do good is my religion. After all there is but one race -- humanity. Should we begin to address the fact that mankind is a singular collective?

trivia: Apparently, this is a remake of a Telugu film called khadgam directed by Krishna Vamsi. Vamsi, married to Ramya Krishna, has one Hindi film to his credit, Shakti � the Power, an adaptation of his Telugu flick Anthapuram, which in turn merrily lifted material from Not Without My Daughter. Another remake raajaa?

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