Friday, July 09, 2004

Hyd and Other Blues 

Hyderabad Blues 2 : Rearranged Marriage

Sometimes sequels work, mostly they don’t. The memory of the original film is so strong in the mind of the viewer that the sequel invariably impinges on it.

The charm of Nagesh Kukunoo’s Hyderabad Blues lay in its rawness and honesty. While there was a certain impish innocence in the crudeness of the original, in Hyderabad Blues 2: Rearranged Marriage, the jokes seem stale and the humour contrived.

It begins with a truly funny scene of Varun (Nagesh Kukunoor), waking up to the tinny sound of bhajans from a roadside shrine. You’d think six years after this American desi returned home to Hyderabad and settled down with the girl he loved, Ashwini (Jyoti Dogra), he’d have got used to this typically Indian alarm system. But Varun’s American accent is still in place and so is his very Western aversion to starting a family.

His friends are still the same bunch of layabouts, who drink and gamble and ogle at girls. Though best buddy Sanjeev (Vikram Inamdar) has settled into a kind of domestic bliss with Seema (Elahe Hiptoola) and two kids.

Varun has a successful career and a happy marriage, but something is still not quite right. Ashwini has a thriving medical career too, but she wants a kid. Into the existing – and frankly quiet tedious for the viewer—stalemate comes temptess Menka (Tisca Arora), who, without even having an affair with Varun manages to break his marriage.

In Hyderabad Blues, you cared for the characters and their problems—insignificant though they may have been—because they were so real. In the sequel, the same characters look jaded, whiny and exasperating. The pallu-dropping, sex guru ‘Aunty’ now palls as much as the new addition, Aswini’s gay partner. The only characters who still appear to be true to life are Varun’s stolid parents, worried that their son’s broken marriage will affect their standing in society.

Despite the earnest performances, and decent music, this rearranged marriage is a non-starter.


People just don’t give up, don’t they? Despite the failure of Indian Babu, made with the express purpose of launching ex-pressionless wonder Jas Pandher into Bollywood, his fond parents produced yet another turkey, Shikaar.

This film directed by Darshan Bagga calls itself a “musical thriller” which, by their definition means that there are lots of murders and lots of songs. But whether the murders thrill or the songs are easy on the ear (or eye) is the question that needs to be answered and the answer is no!

There is this dude, called Vijay or Rohit or something (Jas Pandher) who go around dressed in awful clothes and designer glares, offering stolen cars and even a Mussourie hotel to a bunch of villains—Danny Denzongpa, Prem Chopra, Shakti Kapoor and gang.

He romances and marries the owner of the hotel, so there are three women in all to perform the many dance numbers, the other two being femme fatales Shweta Menon and Saadhika.

Once they get there, a series of murders is committed by a man in black coat. An worried inspector with a bad memory (Raj Babbar) hangs around till the mystery solves itself—and you can see it coming from a mile.

The film is so terrible that it is amusing, and you actually feel sorry for actors like Danny Denzongpa and Raj Babbar doing such bottom of the barrel stuff.

Chale Chalo: The Lunacy of Film-making

About three years after Lagaan, comes Satyajit Bhatkal’s documentary Chale Chalo: The Lunacy of Film-making, about the making of the film. And it either an act of courage or self-delusion to actually release a documentary in the theatres, when it was best suited for television viewing; that too by people who might have an academic interest in the behind-the-scenes activities of film production

The film is watchable, a bit too long though, and traces the journey of Lagaan, from the writing to the release and after. While the pleasures and pains of making such an offbeat film on such a large canvas are apparent, one imagines, every film has similar crises (people falling ill on location) and celebrations (difficult scenes turning out well).

Bhatkal is a lawyer who was drawn into the ‘mad’ world of filmmaking, and his sense of wonder seems a little excessive at times, but he is able to capture some great moments that may never have been revealed but for the careful recording by his camera team. Recommended for the really curious.

Thoda Tum Badlo Thoda Hum

A film made by a large production house from Hyderabd (Ushakiron Movies) and directed by a fairly well regarded Esmayeel Shroff turns out to be unbearable viewing.

Thoda Tum Badlo Thoda Hum is about neighbours Raja (Arya Babbar) and Rani (Shriya Saran), who also study in the same college and hate the sight of each other. The college, is the typical filmi college, where nobody studies and the teachers are a disgrace.

For a convoluted reason, too tedious to recount, they end up writing love letters to each other pretending to be other people. You can tell they are headed for a romance and will end up with each other, but the director inflicts as much torture as he can while taking his characters through this predictable journey.

Why, for instance, should there have been an extended flashback—songs and all—about the couple Raja-Rani (such cheesy names!) are impersonating. And once they discover the truth about each other why drag the film for another 20 minutes to reach the inevitable ending?

The performances match the dismal quality of the film, and the comedy is disgusting! Sitting through this film is akin to falling off a cliff on to a bed of cacti!


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