Saturday, June 30, 2007

Three 'A's 


Anil Sharma has obviously made Apne to cash in on the emotional appeal of getting the three Deols together, especially to those who have grown up on the macho magic of Dharmendra.

The Deol pater is highly buffed up, but his earnest son-of-the-soil attitude still shines through. He was a great star but never a great actor, so he isn’t expected to suddenly turn thespian overnight, but how can you hold the hokyness of the film against the man who can still look an evil foreigner in the eye and talk about patriotism and not sound ridiculous.

Fact is, so overwhelming is his presence (forget Kiss Kiss Ki Kismat and Metro), that the younger Deols look faded. The plot, perhaps deliberately, reflects the real-life story of the family of stars. The father has seen glory days and wants his sons to carry on his legacy. The younger one tries and fails, but the older one, despite his own problems, has to end up carrying the family crest. Now substitute ‘boxer’ for ‘actor’ and you’ve got the gist of Apne.

Baldev Singh Chaudhary (Dharmendra) used to be boxer, who was sent home in disgrace after a doping scandal—he was innocent but nobody listened. He wants his son Angad (Sunny Deol) to become a boxing champion and redeem his honour, since the younger Karan (Bobby Deol) has a paralyzed arm. Angad, burdened with the responsibility of the family, gives up the sport for the financial stability of business.

Years later, a still embittered Baldev sees hope in an ambitious boxer Gaurav (Aryan Vaid), who ditches him for a foreign coach. Karan’s arm is miraculously cured and he trains as a boxer to fulfill his father’s dream and he almost gets there, but circumstances force Angad to jump into the ring again to fight the evil black boxer Luca Gracia (Johnnie Brown).

The first part of the film is set in Punjab, where bhangra dancers turn up in costume to celebrate any occasion, and everybody looks fed to the gills with sarson ka saag, cooked by the bovine women-- Kirron Kher and the wife and Shilpa Shetty as the daughter-in-law lurking in the background in this male bonding saga, at least Katrina Kaif gets to play a doctor and look important. (At one point, she runs out of her patient’s room screaming, “someone call the doctor” as if she had forgotten she is one too!)

A lot of the film is about training to be a boxer and then actually bashing and getting bashed up in the ring, with blood spouting all over the place, hair and sweat flying in slpw motion, and bones breaking with hair-raising “crunch” sounds. The boxing scenes may be repetitive, but that’s where the heart of the film lies—and those who like watching the savage blood sport may like it. The rest will be shutting their eyes in horror.

Too long, with drastic editing needed—the family and friendship (with Victor Bannerjee and Javed Shaikh) bits need to be trimmed, and what was that about an aspiring boxer made to tell jokes!

The real warmth between the Deol men permeates the film, and for some that may be a good enough reason to catch Apne, but be prepared to grit your teeth at the overdose of sentimentality.


Mohit Suri’s Awarapan is one of those Bhatt camp conveyor belt products— noir-ish tale of ambiguous morality, set in a foreign land, borrowed from a foreign film (A Bittersweet Life from Korea) and starring Emraan Hashmi.

If at all it will be remembered in the short term, it will be for Hashmi’s growing up. Gone is the shallow ‘serial kisser’ character he was stuck with, and in comes a man, who eyes hint a life lived on the edge—he is terrific and absolutely magnetic.He plays Shivam, a Hong-Kong gangster Malik (Ashutosh Rana’s) henchman, who is given the task of keeping an eye on the boss’s mistress Reema (Mrinalini Sharma) while he is away. The instructions are to shoot her if she is unfaithful.

A flashback shows Shivam’s doomed romance with a girl (Shreya Saran) in India, who tried to get him to believe in god and give up his bad ways. Since then Shivam has been pondering over matters of the soul and is unable to kill Reema and her boyfriend (Rehaan Khan).

Malik and his gang of meanies (son, brother, nephew, etc) now get after Shivam with a vengeance, and after a stint at a monastery, he seeks his own kind of redemption.

Shot in a dark, moody style, Awarapan is one of those fairly competent but ultimately undistinguished products. If you miss it you won’t regret it, if you see it, you won’t regret it either.

Aap Ka Surroor

Himesh Reshammiya is not an actor, but he is an 'item'. A portly, garishly-dressed singer-composer, who never smiles and never takes off his cap. That's the image he has created for himself and turned into a 'massy' icon.

The film, with the absurd title Aap Kaa Suroor: The Moviee A Luv Story, is for his fans. An exercise in self-glorification with a little bit of self-parody. It's for the kind of fans who know, or want to know, why Himesh never smiles and so on. The rest would find themselves chuckling at Himesh's monster-size ego, that helped produce this film, and will probably carry it to some degree of success.

Himesh plays himself, a singer who is in Germany for a tour—where people dance to his Hindi songs without even understanding them. There he falls in love with event manager Ria (Hansika Motwani—horrendously over made-up), and has a businesswoman (Mallika Sherawat) make passes at him.

The love triangle hasn't even taken off when he is accused of murdering a TV journalist and imprisoned. With the help of his friends Sharavan and Bani (also their real names), he has to find who did it, so he can stop Ria from getting married to someone else.

It's a totally corny plot and no other actor could have carried it off—because it's Himesh as himself, the odd character becomes believable. When he tells Ria's disapproving father (Sachin Khedekar) that he is not like other showbiz types, he seems genuine. And you can also laugh off the mad scene in which three autorickshaw-walas land up in Germany with their vehicles, to help Himesh.

Prashant Chadha, may not have great writing or directing skills, but he has shot the film at very attractive locations and the songs are well-picturised. Not a single performance worth talking about—certainly not Himesh's. And of course you wonder what he's going to do for an encore. Another film with an unsmiling hero with a cap may not be received so kindly!


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