Tuesday, April 18, 2006

the sanjay gupta rip-off of the year award for 2005 goes to ... [december 25/31, 2005]

Ex-Rediff staffer and Screenwriter Suparn Verma's directorial début Ek Khiladi Ek Haseena.

If you thought Sanjay Gupta had walked away with the eponymous trophy for his lively[sic] tale of an Old Boy, you owe yourself a chance to view this masterpiece. For his directorial début, ekalavya SV decides to pay Drona Gupta his due without slicing off his thumb (unless, of course, he decides not to direct another movie). His "tribute to con movies" is a mash-up of Confidence (primarily), Matchstick Men (the lottery ticket swindle), David Mamet's House of Games (most of the Koena Mitra sub-plot) and Memento (aah, that coin). Oh, and there's even this club called Sin City, but that might just be a double-edged reference to Vegas.

duniyaa me.n ikasaTh kisam ke zahar hai.n jin me.n saaTh kaa mujhapar koii asar nahii.n hotaa
(sika.ndar / gulshan grover)

Clearly, a lot of goodwill was involved as far as Feroz and Fardeen Khan reappearing for a Verma script [see also: Janasheen]. If you regarded the whole movie as a hamfest, Feroz Khan easily steals the show just as he did in Janasheen. He even manages to do competent Manoj Kumar impression at one point! That patent-pending bald-pated dialogue delivery already received its due with Javed Jaffrey did his Crocodile Dundee take in Salaam Namaste.

you know the saying: drive like hell and you get there
(jahaa.ngiir khaan / feroz khan)

Suparn Verma's towering achievement with this movie is a notorious one. He gives Kay Kay Menon what could easily the worst role of his film career. Although the actor infuses his ill-written (weren't they all?) specious character with some nuances, the miasma of the proceedings is too hard to rise above. KKM gets the dubious honour of being in one of the most glaring examples of bad editing, writing and continuity in Bollywood.

pyaar se mat dekh, ##diabetes## ho jaayegii
(qaif / kay kay menon)

Koena Mitra tries in vain to convince audiences that she's in all this for the acting. However, there is enough evidence that the only things people will remember from this flick are her figure, her jiggling samba-friendly booty and her bamboochas.

##you know##, mai.n ##guilty## bhii ##feel## kar rahii thii lekin mazaa bhii aa rahaa thaa
(nataashaa / koena mitra)

The less said about the rest of the cast the better. Anupama Verma pops in for a cameo during the father-son scene that everyone[sic] was waiting for:

(Anupama Verma enters the elevator, drops a scarf, which Fardeen lifts up for her)
Anupama Verma: Thank You
Feroz Khan   : I love the scent of a woman. Chanel?
Anupama Verma: I'm impressed
(She later leaves with a "Bye boys" call)
Fardeen Khan : How do you do it?
Feroz Khan   : Experience, son. Practice, practice and more practice.

SV decides to assert his directorial smarts by quashing any respect we might have for his writing acumen. The film is inundated with badly written and acted (aren't they all?) scenes that will leave you cringing, whimpering like an idiot, diving for cover, laughing your guts out, ... you get the idea. A few examples follow.

Let's start with a simple pearl from the oyster of non sequitur:

Koena Mitra:  tumhe.n ##bastard## bolanaa bhii aurat ko gaalii denaa hogaa arjun
Fardeen Khan: sticks and stones, sweetheart, sticks and stones

Next up is a scene that owes a lot to The Usual Suspects. This is where Mukul Deo gives Fardeen Khan the lowdown about Sikandar. There's a personal computer on the desk in the background, but it has no role to play in all this. Cigarettes are lit. And Mukul Deo begins his nonsense ( log kahate hai.n sika.ndar vo inasaan hai jo kabhii mar nahii.n sakataa bachapan me.n usake father ne mill strike se pareshaan hokar apane aap ko aur apane puure khaanadaan ko zahar de diyaa ... sab mar gaye ... par sika.ndar 10 din tak aspataal me.n apanii maut se la.Dataa rahaa) which also includes a note that sika.ndar (Gulshan Grover) also killed his wife and kids [There's Keyser Söze for you]. He then talks about some other victims including the Khan brothers and gaNapat (fear not, no one knows who they are) and drops a reference to Sin City. At this point, there's a dead pause, and then Fardeen Khan looks at MD and asks tumhaaraa ##point## kyaa hai?. MD replies kuchh nahii.n yaar meraa ##point## ye hai ki usane tujhe naashte pe bulaayaa hai tuu kuchh khaanaa piinaa mat aur kyaa?.

Riffing on the "pointless" motif, we have another clunker later on in the film. This time it's a scene between Sharad Kapoor (Inspector Sardesai) and Fardeen Khan (who gets to utter the classic line again):

sharad kapoor: ek baar ek aadamii ja.ngal me.n gum ho jaataa hai; aur usake saamane ek sher aa jaataa hai; aur vo chillaakar kahataa hai 'he bhagawaan; mai.n barabaad ho gayaa'; us din bhagawaan mood me.n the; bhagawaan kii aawaaz aatii hai: e beTaa, tere paa.Nv ke saamane ek patthar rakhaa huaa hai, use uThaa aur sher ke sar pe de maar'; phir bhagawaan kii aawaaz aatii hai: 'beTaa, tu ab barabaad huaa hai'
fardeen khan: teraa ##point## kyaa?
sharad kapoor: ##point## ye hai ki ab tujhe koii nahii.n bachaa sakataa

{One would think that two such explicit hints would have prompted SV to run his script through a few rewrites and an enema or two}

Then there's the scene between Fardeen Khan and Gulshan Grover.

Gulshan Grover: tum kisase Darate ho?
Fardeen Khan:   (beat) bhagawaan se
Gulshan Grover: (looks at wristwatch) bhagawaan tumhaare liye kyaa hai?
Fardeen Khan:   taaqat; ##total and complete power## [pronounced: paa-wa]
Gulshan Grover: tum duusare inasaan ho jisakaa ye jawaab hai
Fardeen Khan:   kyo.n? pahale waalaa mar gayaa kyaa?
Gulshan Grover: [approaches] (beat) pahale waalaa mai.n huu.N; mere liye bhii bhagawaan wahii hai jis me.n ##total and complete power## [pronounced: paa-war] hai (beat) ##i like that##
Fardeen Khan:   kyaa?
Gulshan Grover: tumhaarii aa.Nkho.n me.n mere liye Dar hai; jo Galat nahii.n hai

Finally, there's this scene where Sharma (Dayashankar Pandey) and D'Souza (Rajesh Vivek) are in a car waiting for a junkie dealer to show up (the scene's a completely pulverised version of a scene in Confidence):

D'Souza:  mere beTe ko ##Baywatch university## me.n pa.Dhane jaanaa hai
Sharma :  tuu ##sure## hai maal vo roz yahii.n se nikaalataa hai?
D'Souza:  har din aataa hai; aur weekend me.n to zaruur aayegaa; har ##junkie weekend## pe maal khariidate hai.n
Sharma :  ek baar ye maal haath aa jaaye na to zi.ndagii me.n ##sex## aa jaaye
D'Souza:  are usake liye to mujhe apanii saas ko maaranaa pa.Degaa
Sharma :  maar do
D'Souza:  kyaa maar do ...
{and then they rush out to get the dealer}

The songs:
Pritam Chakraborty photograph (courtesy: The Telegraph)
Pritam continues to filch tunes and riffs and blend them with catchy electronic arrangements on the soundtrack. He's getting so prolific that Karthik's dedicated a page to the man. jal jal ke dhuuaa.N begins with a riff that came straight out of Sting's Fragile, but the song's a merry lift of most of Arabiyon Ana by Yuri Markadi; then there's a.Nkhiyaa.N na maar merii (not addressed to someone named a.Nkhiyaa.N, in case you were wondering) that cogs the catchy eight-note riff from Usher's Yeah; and jhuum, which cogged from a Britney Spears commercial for Pepsi.

Given all the effort that went into making each song video a standalone non sequitur wonder, the makers of this sorry flick could've easily created a release of said videos with a minor theme connecting them. Why subject us to this 2-hour-plus lard? The film's opening titles are graced by a dame in a suit cavorting around to jhuum. Let's also not forget the irritating CG coin floating about. The second song yaaro.n is dedicated to the "friends celebrating together" cliché and some Jack Daniels. It also gets chopped to fit the video, which means that if you're musical bone's going to get rattled. As if it wasn't bad enough that a.Nkhiyaa.N na maar merii owed its existence to a filch, they decided to attempt a desii take on the video for Christina Aguilera's Dirty. In keeping with the trend to include one ear-and-neck-sniffing, soft-core, family-friendly porn sequence, the makers have Fardeen and Koena getting PG-jiggy in a hotel room while jal jal ke dhuaa.N plays in the foreground. The makers even circulated an MMS of this scene in an attempt to build up some publicity. There's lots of sniffing, kissy-kissy, PG-rated disrobing, pinning to the wall, fondling of bare knees, a collaborative shower and suggested fellatio, all culminating in a scene where the two are in bed, well-showered, deflowered and covered in green sheets and backdrop. Some of the most howlarious subtitles are on display here:

lyric:    ehasaas pasiine se hai nam
subtitle: beads of sweat, moist all feelings ...
lyric:    sholo.n se Tapakatii hai shabanam ... zaraa ...
subtitle: in raging flames, we find the calmness of dewdrops ...

Just when you thought the songs were over, the filmmakers decide to try and tempt you to sit through the end credits, which run over a video of Fardeen and a gang of extras living a video game dressed in faux Kevlar and shooting guns and blowing things up. Somehow the lyrics of nashaa nashaa weren't begging for these visuals.

##Shetty## ke pass jaanaa; vo ##graduate## hai ##spelling mistake## nahii.n karegaa
(arjun / fardeen khan)

Other subtitular niceties: laal chii.nTiyaa.N are man-eating ants; the subtitling department continues to exhibit poor-to-non-existent English comprehension skills by streaming it's your time when the girl on screen's saying it's showtime!; the trend of subtitles to be more offensive than the spoken words is evident when an innuendo-laden question bachche to ho.nge naa? gets subtitled as I hope you've got 2 left!; sirf arjun chaahiye? usakaa to ham shaam ko hii ##encounter## kar dete hai.n becomes why don't we kill his friend Shyam?. Man! I pity the people whose understanding of flicks like these hinges only on the subtitles -- now you know why I'm a bit warier about watching foreign flicks: their subtitlers may be in incompetent cahoots with our brood here.

vo registaan ke us uu.NTh kii tarah hai jisane saalo.n se paanii nahii.n dekhaa;
to agar paanii bhii usake saamane chalakar aaye to use vo kiicha.D hii lagegaa
(arjun / fardeen khan)

Product placement: All this, and we have irritating product placement for Red Bull (wait for that scene where Koena Mitra asks for a Red Bull and Fardeen Khan enters with two. Whoa! That's Red Bull not Bisleri water.

Suparn Verma first came to my attention with Chhal (and then some more trivia), a movie that retroactively became my favourite Hindi film of 2002. Then the promising team went on to make a dismal remake of American Pie called Yeh Kya Ho Raha Hai (yeah, I know, that title should've said it all!). While Hansal Mehta vanished from the scene, SV, meanwhile, got some more screenwriting feathers: Qayamat (that would be The Rock in Hindi), Zameen (jingoistic vacuous Bollywood action masala mix fuelled by an interesting premise that derived from the 1999 Flight IC-814 hijack), Janasheen (the father/son Khan-fest that scored really high JaDe points), Karam (the directorial début of cinematographer Sanjay F Gupta that deserved to have been so much better ... more on that if I ever get around to going down the long road of pending posts). There was also this other film called Shaadi.com starring Fardeen Khan and Celina Jaitley, but I don't think that took off (what took off instead was a film just mentioned that featured CJ doing her own stunts by standing in a body of water dressed in a bikini and playing[sic] a violin). Only time will tell if Chhal represented a flash in the pan or was a portend of latent talent (aah, anagrams!). Meanwhile, it's time to applaud the winner.

Incidentally, a Hansal Mehta/Suparn Verma collaboration called Anjaan was supposed to hit the marquee in November last year, shortly after this rip-off. Does anyone know more?

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