Monday, August 29, 2005



Nagesh Kukunoor’s Iqbal is the classic wish-fulfillment fantasy in which the underdog wins despite all odds – too many in fact.

What it misses out in terms of surprises, it makes up for in its simplicity, many uplifting moments and beautifully delineated relationships.

Iqbal (Shreyas Talpade), the deaf-mute son of a poor farmer (Yateen Karyekar) in Andhra Pradesh, has a cricket crazy mother (Pratiksha Lonkar) and sister Khadija (Shweta Prasad). Iqbal dreams of being a bowler, and with Khadija’s help, he gets into a cricketing academy run by Guruji (Girish Karnad), who openly aligns himself with a rich student (shades of Dronacharya-Eklayva here) when Iqbal outshines the other boys.

Iqbal then discovers a teacher in his own backyard—an alcoholic former cricketer Mohit (Naseeruddin Shah), whose career had also been destroyed by Guruji. Mohit reluctantly starts coaching Iqbal, but then acquires some of the boy’s fighting spirit and helps him to achieve his ambition.

The obstacles are stacked against Iqbal—poverty, his handicap, his father’s opposition to his playing cricket, Guruji’s machinations—but he gets over them. Even though the film moves at a fairly brisk pace, it droops in places—especially in the second half. Since the audience already knows the hero is going to win, prolonging the scenes of his difficulties just holds up the flow of the narrative.

The characters look real, and the scenes between Iqbal and his family – his sister in particular—have a heartwarming quality. Naseeruddin Shah, can, of course, be depended upon to breathe life into any character. Shreyas Talpade is an absolute natural, and he is supported by excellent performances by Yateen Karyekar, Pratiksha Lonkar and the utterly charming Shweta Prasad. The only slightly disturbing element – the way it is taken for granted that the girl child is secondary to the boy, and if she bunks school to be the ‘interpreter’ between Iqbal and the world, that is her natural duty. But that is small niggle, when the film has plenty going for it.

No Entry

Anees Bazmee, who has worked as David Dhawan’s writer on many films, has turned out to be a good disciple—if one didn’t read the credits, No Entry could pass off as a Dhawan film.

Even though it follows the old risqué trail of married men trying to deceive their wives, No Entry is not half as crude as Masti, or other recent sex comedy hit Kya Kool Hain Hum. There is a calculating air to the enterprise, however, as it uses a generous expanse of female skin to attract male audiences, but has its heart in 1950, when women were idle housewives with nothing to do but shop and try to keep their husbands on a leash. Even the sole ‘bad’ woman, has a sob story to explain her ‘sinful’ life. The philandering husband needs no such back-up.

Prem (Salman Khan), who takes advantage of his wife’s (Esha Deol) cow-like submissiveness as a license to be habitually unfaithful, tries to get his buddy Kishen (Anil Kapoor) to fool his suspicious wife Kajal (Lara Dutta) and have an affair with willing bar dancer Bobby (Bipasha Basu). (The line he uses about changing women like car models had the approval of men in the audience!)

Kajal catches him with Bobby, and to save his skin, Kishen says she is another friend Sunny’s (Fardeen Khan) wife. Sunny is about to marry Sanjana (Celina Jaitley), when he is forced to pretend to be Bobby’s husband; but to his in-laws he introduces her as Kishan’s wife, and the whole tangle of lies gets messily out of control.

The script is terribly contrived, but despite several sagging portions (the Boman Irani scenes beg to be cut), it perks up occasionally to provide some genuine laughs – the portion of Sunny’s marriage for instance, the honeymoon confusion, and the madcap cliffhanger ending.

No Entry is brainless and sexist, but the audience these days is in a mood for comedy, and if there’s one packing so many stars, foreign locations and armies of bikini clad girls, it is very likely to succeed.

Salman Khan and Bipasha Basu stand out in the crowd for their looks as well as their performances that are in sync with the crazy proceedings. Don’t miss the tribute to Govinda – the man who launched a hundred leave-logic-at-the-door comedies.

Bhaggmati: The Queen of Fortunes

It was a terrific idea, blending live action with animation, to tell the story of the legendary lovers Quli Qutub Shah and Bhagmati. But it needed a professional quality of writing and direction, not the heavy-handed effort of Ashok Kaul.

To place the story in modern times, Kaul cooks up a half-baked story of a history student Shivranjani (Tabu), who wants to research the great Qutub-Bhagmati romance, which unfolds in Amar Chitra Katha style animation. As she is wooed by Aseem (Milind Soman), she gets visions of the past—an obvious reincarnation link. Conversations between Shivranjani and her research guide (Ashok Kaul—incredibly hammy) have an old theatrical quality, that went out of style half a century ago. After watching the film going nowhere for an hour and a half, it was impossible to sit through any more.


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