Friday, June 22, 2007

Chain Kulii Ki Main Kulii 

At a time when Hollywood laid out its best offerings for children, the best ‘Bollywood’ can do is a so-so Chain Kulii Ki Main Kulii, which has magic in its story but none its telling. But for its slightly bigger budget, it could have passed off as one of the humdrum products from the Children’s Film Society.

An orphanage for boys, where Karan (Zain Khan) is growing up with other ragged kids and a mean Fagin-line warden (Rajesh Khera), who keeps calling them “bloody baskets”. Karan is crazy about cricket and has been hearing stories about the 1983 World Cup victory from a kindly orphanage employee. Then in the lot of discarded donated toys, Karan finds a cricket bat, which belonged to Kapil Dev.

A few sixers in the maidan adjoining the orphanage and Karan is picked up by the losing Indian team’s coach (Vijay Crishna) to play against Pakistan. Now this demands great suspension of disbelief, that overnight a 13-year-old boy can get to play international cricket, but then this is a typical wish fulfillment fantasy.

The film moves on predictable oiled rails-- Karan’s awe at being thrown into luxurious surroundings, his friendship with the prickly Indian captain Varun (Rahul Bose), his playing great games with his “magic” bat. A touch of comedy in the form of an excitable Mandira-type commentator.

Varun has issues with his own father (very forced track) and there is some tepid drama there, when it would have made more sense to focus on Karan’s equation with his teammates—nobody seems to be jealous or resentful in the team, but the orphanage ruffian Raghav (Raj Bhansali) is, and steals the bat.

For a film made for kids, the humour is flat and the music instantly forgettable. And there’s a far superior film about an underprivileged boy becoming a cricketer available—Iqbal. Among recent English films, there’s the sunshine warm Wondrous Oblivion.

On the plus side, there’s an very natural performance by Zain Khan, who makes no extra effort to be cute. Rahul Bose looks like he’d rather be elsewhere, and Meera Vasudevan has a blink-and-miss role as Varun’s girl.

BTW the title goes back to Satte Pe Satte and a song in Masti, but has no great significance in the film, still they have given a credit for “title suggestion.”


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