Saturday, March 31, 2007

3 This Week 

Khanna & Iyer

It would takes a remarkable lack of imagination to even want to do a cut-rate rehash of Jungle.

In Hemant Hegde’s Khanna & Iyer a South Indian girl Nandini (Aditi Sharma) elopes with a Punjabi boy Aryan (Sarvar Ahuja) and they dive straight into Lal Dora Jungle (really!)

The fathers MLA Iyer (Mushtaq Khan) and builder Khanna (Manoj Pahwa) accuse each other’s kids of having kidnapped theirs and exchange insults of the “you idli Madrassi”, “Aye you Punjabi” variety. (Javed Siddiqi is credited with the dialogue-- unbelievable).

While this is on there is a CD that goes missing – it contains proof of a link between a minister and a terrorist called Donga (Yashpal Sharma). The CD finds itself into Nandini’s bag, which gets stolen and that’s all there is to it—why have a sub-plot that leads nowhere?

The supposedly vast jungle filled with wild animals looks like Film City, and there are no animals to be seen, except a snake and lizard or two draped over the foliage. The eloping couple carry small bags but several costume changes – the girl is actually seen wearing a frilly white skirt and a crochet shrug, hardly the kind of clothes for jungle locations.

The two are lost in forest, but cops, terrorists, tribals, a forest guard and two sets parents with one side-kick each keep running into each other as at a Page 3 party. The fathers even stop at a disco village to dance with tribal girls who emerge from lord knows where and vanish after the song (“Dil garden garden ho gaya”—really) is over.

Outdated, outlandish and ridiculous, Khanna & Iyer is the kind of film that gives small budget cinema a bad name. And if the lead pair has been discovered at some Cinestars Ki Khoj contest, then all you can say is they haven’t khoj-ed hard enough!

Delhii Heights

They spell the name of the Delhi (or Gurgaon?) building Delhii Heights. Not that the extra ‘i’ makes any difference to the loves of the residents of the building or to the quality of the film.

The film by Anand Kumar begins with a droning voiceover about Delhi (it could apply to any metro city, actually) before moving on to the building where most of the film is set. Abheer (Jimmy Shergill) and Suhana (Neha Dhupia) get married, then they sing a romantic song and then they bicker about ‘deals’ because they work for rival marketing companies.

Abheer has a bee in this golden streaked hair over everything from an innocent Holi dance with the flirt-next-door Bobby (Rohit Roy) to a contract that goes to Suhana’s company. Bobby’s bovine wife Saima (Simone Singh) puts up with his constant flirting. The building’s genial Sardar Timmy (Om Puri) minds everybody’s business. Then there’s a bunch of ‘lukkhas’ who hang around the building playing pranks.

It would tough to say what the film is about—there are two weddings, two almost-divorces, one big accident, one small accident, one arrest and no funerals. There’s a Holi song, a wedding song, a street song and a sad romantic song in which the film’s music director (Rabbi Shergill) appears like a ghost in white and the screen inexplicably bursts into giggle-inducing English sub-titles.

Why the extra half star then? Just for the film picking up a plausible urban phenomenon about two people who take their careers as seriously as their marriage.

Say Salaam India

Say Salaam India, like Hatrrick last week, must have been a quickie meant to cash in on cricket fever. The tagline ‘Let’s Bring the Cup Home’ turned out to be a joke, since the Indian team got evicted early from the World Cup.

The film written and directed by Subhash Kapoor is a formulaic underdog- winning-over-arrogant-rich-creeps saga with no surprises. Characters and situations are borrowed from Iqbal, Hip Hip Hurray and other such films.

Still, it’s worth a watch on TV if not the big screen, because of its sincerity and a fairly accurate portrayal of small town life. Students from the downmarket government school in Tejpur aspire to be part of the Under 16s cricket team. For this they have to battle not just the upper class boys from an elitist schools, but their own poverty and their sports teacher (Manoj Pahwa) who forces all the boys to wear langots and learn wrestling.

Hari Sadu (Sanjay Suri) is a gruff cricket coach who believes in hard work, and when he is thrown out of the rich kids’ school for making them slog, he comes to Tejpur to form his own team, and in 15 days trains them to be winners. His subplot includes a supportive wife (Sandhya Mridul) and spastic son.

Milind Soman walks in late into the movie as a smart coach who tests his spoilt students’ cricket knowledge by asking who is Brian Lara’s latest girlfriend! He also prefers to bribe the selectors and umpires instead of playing a straight game. Of course the Tejpur boys would whip the wealthy dudes, though the point of the film, repeated several times, is that most of today’s star cricketers are from small towns and underprivileged backgrounds.

Almost painfully earnest, the film has a few nice scenes with the Tejpur kids and some of the young actors are quite good. At least these boys bring the cup home—wishful thinking.


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