Saturday, December 10, 2005

Ek Ajnabee + 2 

Ek Ajnabee

One wonders what some filmmakers would do if Amitabh Bachchan was unavailable to do their films. Who would then carry the burden of their films, since this one star alone does most of their work for them!

Ek Ajnabee can’t be imagined without Amitabh Bachchan-- since he keeps viewer’s eyes on the screen, while director Apoorva Lakhia goes ballistic with ‘technique’. Almost every scene is over-stylised to the extent that the emotional content goes missing. This jumpy ‘strobe’ editing style can quickly get on the nerves—and Lakhia empties buckets of style on to the viewer. The content, of course, is lifted from Hollywood flick Man on Fire.

Amitabh Bachhan plays former Colonel Suryaveer Singh, who is invited to Bangkok by his protégée Shekhar (Arjun Rampal), to take on the menial job of being a child’s bodyguard. The country is in the grip of a kidnapping epidemic and a rich Indian couple (Vikram Chatwal-Perizaad Zorabian) hire the alcoholic colonel to protect their little daughter Anamika (Richa Vaidya—cute as a button).

At first annoyed at the girl’s attempts at friendship, he soon starts to love her. When she is kidnapped, and he is left grievously wounded, Suryaveer promises Anamika’s mother, that he will kill all those who committed the crime.

The first half of the film, spent in building the relationship between the girl and the bodyguard, gets a bit boring after a while. But then the second half in which he goes after the kidnappers and kills them in horrible ways (putting a bomb up into the body of one and blowing him up), gets too predictable.

Towards the end the plot twists come thick and fast, but by this time, who cares! Because the film is just sporadically engaging, you pass the time wondering how the colonel fitted so many suits into a tiny bag; or why Rampal tries so hard to look and sound ‘cool’; or how come everybody Suryaveer has to deal with in Bangkok, is half Indian and knows Hindi!

Bachchan is the heart and soul of the movie—the scene in which he considers suicide raises goosebumps. Unfortunately, a couple of powerful scenes do not a movie make. Perizaad Zorabian is surprisingly good as the mother, playing her small part with grace and maturity.


After a long time, a film from the Bhatt camp takes up a contemporary issue, and is not a total lift from a foreign film – even if 8mm seems to be the obvious inspiration.

Mohit Suri integrates fact and fiction reasonably well, and though film is unevenly paced and often over-dramatic, it tackles a dark, offbeat theme.

After giving the leading man Kunal (Khemu), a ‘history’--- he is a Kashmiri refugee who has rebuilt his life in Mumbai—the film quickly goes through his romance with a Kashmiri girl (Smilie Suri), marriage, and the beginning of his trauma.

On their honeymoon they are secretly filmed and the footage flashed over a porn site. It’s not clear why Kunal is arrested and tortured by the cops, but he is accused of being a porn peddler. His wife commits suicide, and Kunal goes to Zurich to strike at the roots of the blue film empire.

The lady who runs the illicit site and ordered the filming of honeymoon couples, is Simi (Amrita Singh). Kunal is helped by a reluctant Ali (Emraan Hashmi), a sex toy shop owner, and later by porn star Annie (Deepak Shaw), who was forced into the trade.

There are the usual shots of semi nude women gyrating, but considering that the subject of the film is pornography, Suri does not make the images needlessly vulgar or disturbing. Most of the engrossing action takes place when the film is well into its second half, which is when Deepal Shaw gets her share of the spotlight, after just a fleeting presence in the first half.

Kunal Khemu is a bit gauche, but gives a sincere performance. He is almost upstaged by Emraam Hashmi as the funny helper/sidekick. It’s good to see two confident actresses leaving their mark—Amrita Singh and Deepal Shaw.

Neal ‘N’ Nikki

C’mon, tell us another! Every girl Neal (Uday Chopra) sets his eyes on in Vancouver hits on him! Why? Just because he is the producer’s brother?

Every girl in Canada goes about wearing so little, you wonder why they didn’t either freeze to death or get arrested for indecent exposure—the leading lady Nikki (Tanisha Mukerji) traipses through the film in what looks like underwear!

There is such a desperation about Arjun Sablok’s alleged youth flick, that whatever little charm the story might have had dissipates into silliness and sleaze.

Neal, small town Canadian-Indian, who is desired by every female (ha!) agrees to marry a Miss Sweety from Bhatinda, simply because he trusts his parents’ sense more than his own. But before the wedding, he wants to go to Vancouver and live it up.

His plans are foiled when he bumps into a drunk, sluttishly dressed Nikki, who demands that he take her home and then questions his intensions! Neal is picked up by a succession of women dressed in scantier clothes than Nikki, but she keeps coming in the way. Then, to make it up to him, she takes him to ‘babe heaven’, but actually uses him to make her ex-boyfriend jealous.

If Neal ‘n’ Nikki was meant to be a tongue in cheek look at how rich NRI youngsters live and behave, then it, sort of, insults them. Even the most brainless of them, couldn’t be as demented as these two.

Shot on beautiful Canadian locations, with a couple of good songs, it’s possible this film might appeal to some of the young crowd. But then again, the actors are hopeless—Uday Chopra with a permanent goofy expression and more lipstick than the women; Tanisha with a screechy voice, disheveled hair and ribs sticking out.


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