Saturday, November 11, 2006



There is a sepia-tinted nostalgia about Sooraj R Barjatya’s Vivah, which could be endearing or annoying, depending on which side of the conservative-progressive divide the viewer stands.

To believers in the conventional way of life, this whole system of arranged marriages and attendant rituals, the harping on traditional male-female roles, would seem quite normal. To more progressive minded viewers, the inherent patriarchy of the old way of life would appear galling.

Even though a large section of India would be considered conservative, the characters of Vivah still seem anachronistic. How many rich Delhi guys would be as pure as Barjatya’e hero Prem (Shahid Kapoor)? Are small-town girls such dumb cows as his heroine Poonam (Amrita Rao, in layers of pancake)?

From what one can see around, just showbiz is full of ambitious small-town girls (and boys), who would certainly balk at the idea of females just being allowed to help in the family business till they give birth to kids—preferably sons. Can’t but notice that Prem is motherless, which sort of suggests that once women have fulfilled their function of raising sons, they are redundant. The one nod to modernity in Vivah is that the bahus are not in purdah, though their role is mainly that of cook and meal-server.

On his father’s (Anupam Kher) suggestion, Prem goes to Madhupur to see the virtuous Poonam, whose reputation as ideal bahu material has reached far and wide--which means she is always bashful and dutiful. She is just so overwhelmed at being ‘seen’ by Prem and his family, that she does not ask him any questions, nor does she raise her eyes. Her hobby is singing bhajans, her reading tastes run to Tagore and Saratchandra and her clothes are modest salwars and saris. Prem, probably likes them bovine and agrees to marry her immediately. This upsets Poonam’s aunt (Seema Biswas), since her own daughter is dark and dowryless.

The Prem-Poonam engagement takes place, the wedding is fixed for six months later, and the film has to be padded with the fluff of picnics, coy flirting and endless songs (Ravindra Jain at his dullest). Any sensible guy would worry if his potential bride already started nagging under the guise of concern, but Prem likes it, and is rather in a hurry to get married.

Like in Hum Aapke Hain Kaun, the story takes a turn when the film is almost coming to an end, and Prem’s love is put through a severe test. Amidst a bunch of hammy actors (Alok Nath takes the cake!), Shahid Kapoor’s earnestness shines through, if it wasn’t for his genuine charm, the film would have been too syrupy to bear—especially with its three-hour length.

Apna Sapna Money Money

After making the horribly vulgar Kya Kool Hain Hum, somehow work at the box-office, Sangeet Sivan has found his formula—he stands in queue behind David Dhawan, Priyadarshan and Neeraj Vora in the crude comedy genre.

His Apna Sapna Money Money, juvenile to the extreme, appeals to the ‘tapori’ audience and maybe students looking for some laughs; the kind of audience that expects nothing more from a film than ‘timepass.’ This simple requirement is fulfilled by Apna Sapna… with its large cast of goofy characters.

Two subplots come together in a Bandra basti-- one involving a cache of diamonds transported by a moll Sania (Celina Jaitley) for an impoverished don (Jackie Shroff), which get lost in transit. The other involves a love story between garage mechanic Arjun (Shreyas Talpade) and the docile Shivani (Riya Sen), with her father Shastri (Anupam Kher) as the spoke in the wheel. To help the love birds, Arjun’s conman cousin Krishna (Ritesh Deshmukh) arrives from Goa, with an army of angry Nepalis (led by Chunky Pandey) at his heel.

Krishna first disguises himself as a pandit from Benares, while the real one is captured by the Nepalis. Later he disguises himself as a woman, and leads the half-blind Shastri almost to the marriage mandap.

Other loony characters include an inept cop (Suniel Shetty), an aspiring don (Rajpal Yadav) and a dancer (Koena Mitra) who doubles up as Krishna’s love interest.

The plot is not meant to make sense; all that is needed for such a film to hit its target is a nonstop supply of gags, which this one does at a breathless pace. That a lot of them are in bad taste goes without saying—of the crotch grabbing, bra-waving, bull-crapping (literally!) variety. Still, anyone who goes to see a Sangeet Sivan film should know what to expect and can’t complain afterwards.

Ritesh Deshmukh runs riot here, leaving behind all the other actors (some of them with not much to do). Jackie Shroff and Shreyas Talpade are wasted, but Chunky Pandey is hilarious as the leader of the Kukri gang. The girls are there for the sex appeal. Snatches from old gender-bender comedies turn up here, then again creativity or originality is not this film’s strong point. The climax has a kid with a hole in her heart waiting for an operation—can it get more clichéd than this?

Deadline- Sirf 24 Ghante

Tanveer Khan’s Deadline- Sirf 24 Ghante is a quick songless thriller, but with a plot that has predictability built into it.

The famous cardiologist Dr Goenka (Rajit Kapoor) is in Delhi to receive an award, when his daughter (Jhanak Shukla) is kidnapped. The seemingly maniacal Krish Vaidya (Irrfan Khan—menacing ) has the doctor’s wife Sanjana (Konkona Sensharma—too shrill) trapped in her own home.

What could happen in a scenario like this—obviously the frightened child in the custody of a junkie (Zakir Hussain) will cry, the hysterical mother will plead with the kidnapper to spare the daughter, more so since she has asthma. The helpless father with shout and rant and will be humiliated by the accomplice (Sandhya Mridul), who holds him hostage in the hotel room.

Krish sadistically keeps upping the ransom money till the doctor has to mortgage everything he has—strange that such a wealthy doc doesn’t have a couple of crores in the bank!

Like the recent Tathastu (taken from John Q), the abductors have a motive deeper than just money, and though it appears as if the greedy doctor deserved the torture, it is still disquieting that terrorising innocent people could be justified—whatever the cause.

It may have a valid ‘moral’ but Deadline—Sirf 24 Ghante is neither thought-provoking nor entertaining.


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