Friday, June 08, 2007

3 This Week 

Mera Pehla Pehla Pyaar

Mera Pehla Pehla Pyaar, shortened to a trendy MP3, will probably appeal to audiences of the age group to which the protagonists belong—mid-teens. Anyone a little older would have seem enough films about puppy love to find any novelty in it.

Most of them are set in college, this Robbie Grewal film is set in a school, where Rohan (Ruslaan Mumtaz) leads a group of boisterous boys, energy and hormones going haywire. Ayesha (Hazel) has just moved from London—there’s an amusing scene of the boys drooling over her attractive mother (Rinku Patel)—and it turns out that her mother and Rohan’s mother are friends.

There are the usual scenes of teasing, flirting, squabbling, going on a karaoke date—the kind of stuff rich city kids do. Friendship gradually turns to love, and when Ayesha goes to Paris on a holiday, Rohan comes up with an outrageous scheme to go there and confess his love under the Eiffel Tower; she has already mentioned that she finds the idea very romantic, because her parents and ‘Tomkat’ did it.

Once in Paris, he has to make to with the little money his friends have lent him, and try to trace her. The film must have picked ideas from a foreign film set in the pre-email days, because today youngsters mail and chat online a lot, and it would be easy for Rohan to find out where she is from any of her friends, if not communicate with her directly. That would, of course, take away from the drama of the film, and the ‘aw-shucks’ moments like Rohan accidentally running into Ayesha’s aunt in Paris-- they don’t know each other and it doesn’t lead to anything, but a lot of scenes in the second half are similarly contrived.

What works here is the freshness of the cast—they look young and perky and act like real teenagers, unlike other films when actors look way past the age are made to pass off as college kids. Even the parents of the lead pair look the right age, and as youthful as today’s urban 40s would look. Rohan’s equation with his father (Kanwaljeet Singh) is at a friendly level, much like the present generation of urban teens. Event this much realism is welcome in a generic teen love story. The lead pair is attractive and likeable, though it’s too early to tell how they will fare in grown up roles, where a bigger range of expressions will be required.

The Train

Like their earlier film The Killer, Raksha Mistry and Hasnain Hyderabadwala’s The Train is also a Hollywood-inspired (Derailed) potboiler. Not an absorbing watch, it’s also instantly forgettable, without even a good performance to keep it afloat.

Vishal (Emraan Hashmi) and Anjali (Sayali Bhagat) are facing problems in their marriage due to the illness of their daughter. Fed-up at home and slipping at work in an ad agency, Vishal meets Roma (Geeta Basra) on the train, since she claims to be in an unhappy marriage too, they are drawn to each other.

When they finally have the courage to go to a hotel, they are mugged and she is raped. The hoodlum Tony (Aseem Merchant) now starts blackmailing Vishal, who can’t go to the cops and implicate Roma.

When a friend (Suresh Menon) tries to help, Tony kills him too and that gets a cop (Rajat Bedi) on Vishal’s tail. When he is at wit’s end, and Tony has taken away all the money saved for his daughter’s operation, Vishal gets a lead that helps him to fight back.

An ordinary thriller, given a flat almost mechanical treatment. It’s getting absurd now that Hindi filmmakers are setting their films abroad (Bangkok in this case), where the Indian protagonist works with Indians, romances an Indian woman; the doctor, the villain, the cop are all Indians.

The plot holes are massive and the cop, after swaggering, grimacing and chewing gum walks off as abruptly as he arrived, leaving that sub-plot dangling.

Emraan Hashmi tries to look grown up by wearing a sullen ex-pression throughout. Both the leading ladies can’t act and look unappealing. Only Aseem Merchant achieves the creepiness required of his character. The saving grace—Mithoon’s music.


Choreographer Ganesh Acharya’s debut film Swami is one of those simple, well-intentioned, plodding films, which make you wonder what was the director thinking.

The straightforward story of an ordinary man’s life from youth to old age, needed a more lyrical treatment than Acharya can manage. In the realistic style that he adopts, the obviously fakeness of the set of a village house and city apartment, the too extravagant wardrobe of a poor woman, the ease with which life’s milestones are crossed—none of this rings true.

The story is that of Swami (Manoj Bajpai), his wife Radha (Juhi Chawla), and their ambitions for their son Anand. They move from the village to Mumbai so that the boy can get a better education. Radha dies, Anand (Maninder) grows up to be an obedient son (he does the housework) and hard-working bank officer, marries, has a kid; Swami befriends a bunch of old men in the park (botched comic relief), and life goes on, sort of....

The only odd or imaginative touch in the film is Swami’s obsession with a rocking chair! Manoj Bajpai is earnest as usual, though some care could have been taken to make his ‘old’ get-up more authentic. The new actor Maninder introduced in Swami has a pleasant appearance and shows signs of talent.

And yes, the choreographer in Acharya could not resist one big dance number in a Ganpati sequence. He has made a very un-Bollywood film, which can be commended, but then Swami does not display Acharyas’s directorial abilities in too favourable a light.


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