Saturday, August 05, 2006

3 This Week 

Anthony Kaun Hai?

After his first two movies (Pyar Mein Kabhi Kabhi, Shaadi Ka Laddoo) bombed, Raj Kaushal took the Sanjay Gupta route. Pick a Hollywood thriller—at least he picked a suitably obscure one (Who is Cletis Tout?—shoot it stylishly, enlist a big star’s support, and hope it works. Actually it hasn’t worked too well with Gupta, but you can’t hold Kaushal’s optimism against him.

A small time hood Champ (Arshad Warsi) in Thailand, takes on the identity of a dead Anthony Gonsalves to escape from prison, and finds that a hitman Master Madan (Sanjay Dutt) has been sent to kill him. Now to save his life he has to convince the killer that he is not Anthony, and make the story sound interesting to the movie-mad assassin. (In the original he was called Critical Jim—funny!)

So there is a series of convoluted flashbacks—even stuff that is not really needed, like Champ’s broken romance and the songs he sang—which involve diamonds stolen 15 years ago, a magician (Raghubir Yadav) and his daughter (Minissha Lamba).

The story meanders on for too long, and it looks as if the director was trying too hard to be cool, instead of getting on with the crucial business of keeping the film moving. For example, a humming cop (Gulshan Grover) must sounded cute to him, but is merely annoying on screen. And a coroner called Lashwani (Ravi Baswani)—eeks! And ‘cool’ is not a trait that can be copied— you either have it, or you don’t. Sanjay Dutt has it, so his small role has zing. Minissha Lamba doesn’t have it, and Arshad Warsi (in a non-Circuit kind of role) is getting there. And what can you say about a director who can’t even think of a title on his own!

The film comes together in the last 20 minutes or so, and the reason for making the cop a film fan is justified. That and the glossy, classy look makes it a cut above this week’s other two dismal releases.

Darwaza Bandh Rakho

Satya star Chekravarathy turns director with Darwaza Bandh Rakho, which could compete for the dubious honour of being one of the worst films to come out of the Ram Gopal Varma factory—the kind of film which makes you wonder why it was made at all. Unless the aim was to provide employment to all the RGV faithfuls.

The home of a down-on-his luck stockbroker Kantilal Shah (Ishrat Ali) and his family, is picked as the hideout of four first-time criminals who have kidnapped a builder’s ditzy daughter (Isha Sharvani). At first she is thrilled to be part of this drama, but then she realizes the situation is serious.

However, this is not a gangster drama, it makes a weak attempt to be a comedy. The novice thugs (Aftab Shivdasani, Chunky Pandey, Snehal Dabhi, Zakir Hussain) , armed though they are, remain nervous as hell. And every time the doorbell rings, yet another hostage is added to the crowd in the Shah’s bungalow—a pizza delivery boy, the maid’s constable husband, a shampoo salesgirl (Manisha Koirala), a creditor and so on. Meanwhile Isha’s father has taken off to America and seems to be in no hurry to rescue his daughter.

The time the gang is forced to spend with their hostages leads to other subplots-- romance, subterfuge and regrouping of beneficiaries of the ransom money. For the climax, the director relies on old faithful, It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World.

Intermittently, Chekravarthy realizes the film is supposed to be funny, and puts in cheap little gags like a vet giving a sick man a horse injection in the butt. Compared to this puerile level of humour, the bit about one of the kidnappers going weak-kneed at the sight of the salesgirl somewhat amusing. But you can count the laughs on your fingertips.

Shaadi Karke Phas Gaya Yaar

Shaadi Karke Phas Gaya Yaar simply does not belong to this age! Such idiotic marital tales in which men are advised to keep wives in check by slapping them regularly deserve to be pelted with rotten eggs, but for that a futile visit to the theatre would have to be made, and it’s just not worth the effort.

In this tedious film directed by KS Adhiyaman, Ayaan (Salman Khan) from a traditional family, marries Ahana (Shilpa Shetty) from a liberal (read degenerate mother!) family, and she finds it hard to adjust into a joint clan. It is a perfectly valid social problem, that needs a wise and compassionate approach, not Adhiyaman’s sledgehammer like melodrama, that turns the wife into a baby making and baby-feeding machine. Ayaan tells his wife that she has to give birth to his baby, feed her for two months and then leave! The film makes a complete hash of legal and medical procedures too.

But worst of all, there is so much of this regressive family junk already on television, who needs a big screen version, that too with Salman fans cheering when he slaps or insults a woman. It doesn’t help that ‘modern’ women are painted a complete ogres, who ought to have been slapped by their husbands and controlled, because a woman’s place is in the kitchen. This is 2006, but the makers of the film seem to be referring to last century’s calendar.


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