Wednesday, May 18, 2005

JBSN & Netaji 

Jo Bole So Nihaal

Rahul Rawail’s latest Jo Bole So Nihaal, gives those habitual protestors something to howl about. The hero is a Sikh of such breathtaking stupidity, that he gives all Sardars a bad name. The villain is a Catholic, so evil that he plants bombs all over the world, confesses every Sunday and then murders the priest!

Nobody in the world knows what the mercenary Romeo (Kamaal Khan) looks like, except his moll (Nupur Mehta), but he has a chance encounter with an idiot policeman Nihaal Singh (Sunny Deol) in a Punjab village. He gives the cop a fake sob story and escapes; Nihaal is disgraced and dismissed from the force for his faux pas. So Nihaal wants to nab the terrorist and bring him to the village to clear his name. Luckily, he is the only man to have seen Romeo, so the FBI takes him to America to help them trace the criminal.

Now, a batty cop (aren’t there any basic IQ requirements to get a police job in Punjab?), who does not know the language is let loose in New York with such sidekicks as a severely under-dressed bimbo FBI officer (Shilpi Sharma), and a couple of lisping relatives, one of whom pronounces ‘F’ as ‘S’ and vice versa. Whoever thought up this one must have a puerile sense of humour!

The FBI (who go about with ‘FBI’ emblazoned on the backs of their jackets) are such a bunch of nitwits, that when Nihaal is lost because he does not remember the name of his hotel, they don’t think of calling his cell phone, which his grandmother (Surekha Sikri) does from the village public phone booth. And when a car blows up in the middle of the city with a bomb meant for Martha Stewart (really!), nobody bats an eyelid.

Nihaal is such a moron, that he catches Romeo and lets him go because the FBI won’t let him take the terrorist to India. His naïve reasoning being that if “Wahe guru” wills it, he’ll find Romeo again and smuggle him out of the US. The scriptwriter certainly wills several meetings between Nihaal and Romeo, so the film goes on and on, till you can’t take Nihaal’s childish antics any more.

Rawail, appearing himself as a snowy haired “Al Fateh” boss, has had a run of bad luck at the box-office (after a greatly promising start with films like Betaab and Arjun), and this big-budget action flick might just grab the masses. However, one did expect better from him, since there are Hollywood hits like Crocodile Dundee and Rush Hour for inspiration.

The film has some good action sequences, a bit of comedy—though Sunny Deol hams through it and one can imagine the role fitting Govinda in his heyday like a glove. Other minuses are the tepid music score, nondescript female leads, weak villain and too much dependence on Sunny Deol, who does carry the film on his muscular shoulders, but is slightly overage to be cast as “innocent”. “Man on a mission” he may be, however, “cute” is not the word one would use to describe Sunny.

Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose The Forgotten Hero

A character as adventurous and dramatic as Subhas Chandra Bose needed a biopic deserving of his stature (there was one made in 1966 by Heman Gupta); and you are glad it’s Shyam Benegal doing the honours. Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose The Forgotten Hero is historically correct, and gives the leader his rightful place in the pantheon of Indian heroes.

Despite the needless protest that has arisen over a minor issue (was he married or not?), Benegal’s film is dignified and stays clear of controversy, without actually leaving out any details of the extraordinary life – his differences with Gandhi, for instance, his meeting with Hitler or even his failures.

The film, divided into three parts—concentrates on the last five years of Netaji’s life, mainly from the time he escapes from India under the noses of the British, travels through Afghanistan to Germany, from there to Japan in a submarine; his taking over the Indian National Army and fighting the British forces; his exit from Saigon in the ill-fated plane that crashed.

It’s a lot to pack in, even in a film that runs into 222 minutes, and makes for riveting viewing—though the pace varies from thriller like briskness to a documentary-like crawl. However, as can be expected from a Benegal film, the storytelling is always interesting (scripted by Shama Zaidi and Atul Tiwari) and unlike his earlier films, the scale is magnificent (just excuse the computer generated planes!)

Sachin Khedekar makes a convincing Netaji, but it’s also nice to see the Benegal ensemble of actors in full attendance – Rajit Kapur, Rajeshwari Sachdev, Divya Dutta, Kulbhushan Kharbanda, Ila Arun, Lalit Tiwari, Shri Vallabh Vyas, Ravi Jhankal, along with Rajpal Yadav, Sonu Sood, Tom Alter and Kelly Dorji plus some foreign actors.

Javed Akhtar’s appropriate lyrics set to AR Rahman’s rousing score, Rajan Kothari’s skilled camerawork, the contributions of art director Samir Chanda, costume designer Pia Benegal and make-up man expert Vikram Gaikwad towards a film that is a rewarding watch –don’t expect conventional entertainment, though.


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