Friday, February 25, 2005

Four This Week! 


There are some timeless stories that can do with periodic updates. There are some stories that can and should be left buried in the period they appeared in. What made Dharmesh Darshan go back to BR Chopra’s old-fashioned morality tale Gumrah (1963) is something can only he answer, but there is nothing much in there for today’s viewer.

And if Dharmesh was so keen in remaking this film, perhaps he could have given his heroine some spunk—she comes across as a vapid, memsaab type, very inspired by Yash Chopra’s chiffon maidens.

The film begins with a long Sikh sermon delivered by a Montreal-based man (Kabir Bedi) to his foreign wife (Nafisa Ali), which, oddly enough seems to be a ritual with the couple, who must have been married for at least 30 years, but behave as if they just met in a gurdwara. High moral is ground established—the man has suitably Indianised his firangi wife who is now more Indian than Canadian—which is how it should be, is the unsaid statement; wives should negate their identities after marriage.

So their younger daughter Anjali (Kareena Kapoor) dumps her “fusion musician” boyfriend Indian Raja (Akshay Kumar) to marry her dead sister’s (Sushmita Sen) pokerfaced husband Aditya (Anil Kapoor). She moves to Delhi to be official mother and unofficial ayah to her sister’s twin girls.

For three years, Aditya does not so much as spare a glance for Anjali, speaking to her, if at all, in monosyllables. If she is bonding majorly with the kids, there are no scenes to confirm that. Why does she put up with it for so long? Worse, why does she go to the parlour and change her appearance to look liker her dead sister? Why doesn’t she tell the cackling matrons in the parlour to shut up and mind their own business? Probably because good girls are meant to suffer in silence.

Suddenly Raja turns up—and what do you know, husband exits at the airport and old boyfriend enters a split second later! If she had abandoned Raja without missing a beat, she starts singing songs with him with the same nonchalance!

It’s not as she jumps into bed with him (though post-Murder, who’d bat en eyelid?), just takes a train ride and has a coffee. But two nasties (Manoj Bajpai-Shamita Shetty) turn up to terrorise Anjali. And Anjali, instead of telling them to shut up and mind their own business, looks as scared as if she’d seen a monster under the table.

The end is the same as Gumrah though 42 years later, nobody would judge a woman harshly for leaving such a mean, cold-blooded husband, who married her knowing her heart was elsewhere, and then unleashed human snakes on her.

The kind of women who enjoy female suffering on Balaji soaps would probably enjoy Bewafaa. The kitty party ladies would probably go see it for Kareena’s exquisite wardrobe (Manish Malhotra). It is a very glossy looking film (W B Rao at work), with a couple of good songs. But also slow-paced pace with surprisingly bloodless performances.


It’s crazy, watching a movie with cops swarming all over the theatre. If there hadn’t been protests by Christian groups, Vinod Pande’s Sins would have sunk without a trace. Now, curiosity almost filled up the hall with mostly single men.

Supposedly based on a true story, the idea of Sins had the ability to disturb. Even though the sexual equation between the powerful and the powerless no longer has any novelty value, the relationship between a priest Father William (Shiney Ahuja) and Rosemary (Seema Rahmani) a young girl in his parish, could have had many dimensions than merely soft porn lovemaking.

How does the priest’s initial repentance turn into full-blooded abuse of power, when does the girl turn from willing partner to victim, how does the complex web of complicity and censure of family and townsfolk affect the two people—none of it is explored with any depth. The stewing of scandal in a small town, the overlooking of the priest’s almost criminal transgressions (he seems to behave like a don with spies and killers at his beck and call), there is so much left unexplored.

Despite the girl being a complete cow, the priest being a complete brute and Rosemary’s husband of convenience (Nitesh Pandey) being a complete loser—the film is less hypocritical than, say Bewafaa or Fun, released this week. With a shoestring budget, Pande manages an aesthetic quality (Jogendra Panda makes look like a Mediterranean seaside town) that is often missing from ‘art’ films.

Since the film shows just too much skin (the censors allowed nudity), it is difficult to judge the filmmaker’s intent – creativity can easily dissolve into voyeurism. The casting of the priest is a bit off the mark too—the model hunk Shiney Ahuja has the speech and body language of a Punjabi body-builder. However, Seema Rahmani (too stylishly dressed) with her almost Latina sensuality is a good find.

Fun Can be Dangerous Sometimes

Fun Can be Dangerous Sometimes has been made with the sole purpose of filling up the screen with as much sleaze as possible, since the censors are looking the other way.

It starts with Natasha (Payal Rohatgi) persuading her two girl friends to swap husbands, since the zing has gone out of their sex lives. But then Natasha’s husband Aryan (Sidharth Koirala) gets involved with Megha (Heena Rehman), the lonely wife of a businessman (Aryan Vaid). Megha gets killed and the film becomes a whodunit.

With the hypocrisy typical of these skin flicks, the swap happens but the murder serves as coitus interruptus, and the two bimbos saved from “paap” return contrite to their own husbands.

All the action is set in a holiday resort, and the staff provides the additional lewdness, to top up the efforts of the hopeless line up of ‘able-bodied’ actors.

If our audiences go and drool over films like Hawas, Julie and Tauba Tauba, this is what they deserve!


Vijay Ghatge turns Shafaat Khan’s successful play Shobhayatra into a film with unsatisfactory results.

A bunch of people dressed as leaders of the Indian Independence movement are waiting in a warehouse for the procession to start, in which they are to participate. The procession has been organised by a don, and things start to go horribly wrong.

A satire like this needed a light tough and a fast pace, what you get is a plodding, well-meaning film, trying very hard to make rather obvious comments on history and contemporary society. A sincere first effort, that’s about all.


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