Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Faltu Four 


It’s worrisome how Ram Gopal Varma’s films are starting to move in such a small circle of repetitive plot ideas that you’d have problems telling them apart.

Go, directed by Manish Shrivastav, is a remake of Varma’s 1997 Telugu film Anaganaga Oka Roju, in the road movie genre, that Varma and his protégés hammer out with boring regularity.

Still, done with an iota of finesse, a romantic comedy-cum-thriller on the road from Mumbai to Goa might have had some entertainment value. But this one seems to say, okay you’ve seen this before, see it again and you’d better enjoy it, while the director takes a nap. The audience is bound to run out cursing… the sensible ones will judge the quality of the film from the promos and keep away.

Two brainless lovers Abhay (six-pack Gautam- bad) and Vasundhara (Nisha Kothari—worse!) elope on a bike with inadequate petrol. They take a lift in the car of a wounded man and their troubles begin. Because the man was trying to blackmail the chief minister (Ravi Kale) with an incriminating tape, and the CM has sent a long-haired hoodlum (Sherveer Vakil) to retrieve it.

A loose canon cop Nagesh (Kay Kay Menon—trying too hard to be cool) senses something fishy and jumps into the picture, along with a demented clown (Rajpal Yadav—so hammy it hurts), who boasts of being the nephew of a Bihari don.

Abhay and Vasundhara get into a series of scrapes, one more absurd and unfunny than the rest. When they are not “going” they are singing incredibly tuneless songs. At least some technical polish is expected from Varma’s films, this one just hits rock bottom in every respect. The crudity of a couple of scenes is cringe-worthy. The good news is that Factory films can’t get worse than this, so the graph might just take an upward swing. Or it will be time to start an RGV Bachao Andolan.

Chhodon Naa Yaar

Dilip Virendra Sood has the nerve to rip off cult hit The Blair Witch Project—it wasn’t a great film, but a terrific exercise in low-budget indie filmmaking and marketing. While Sood’s Chhodon Na Yaar is an example of how not to make film.

Ravi (Jimmy Sheirgill—badly in need of a good barber), Shiv (Kabir Sadanand) and Sunny (Farid Amiri) are mass communication students (at their age!), who want to make something original instead of the usual student films on child labour.

So they go to a jungle in Himachal, where, according to a legend is a temple, from where nobody returns—though there is a perfectly healthy-looking priest living there, with his rosy-cheeked assistant. Still, the villages around the jungle refuse to talk about the temple, and a guide won’t take them there.

They shoot their film without much difficulty—the priest being most amenable to starring in it—but also see the ghost of a girl who was raped and killed there. Sood throws up various balls to juggle, but all stay in the air—like the boys’ professor saying that he had lost friends in that forest; the priest asking the assistant if the killers were found; the ghostly girl appearing randomly.

The three guys run around aimlessly in a jungle, with the sound designer freaking out with spooky groans and sighs. All sorts of red herrings--the straw effigies, (that Ravi calls “images”), cross marks on trees, the villagers staring balefully—and then an anti-climax. No mystery, no horror and no suspense. A heroine (Kim Sharma) with nothing to do, and songs popping up just like that!

TV horror shows do a much better job of scaring viewers, with lower budgets, borrowed scripts and macabre imagination!

50 Lakh

Chandrashekhar Yeleti’s Telugu film Aithe was a hit and won awards, but its Hindi version 50 Lakh comes across as a low-budget amateur effort-- neither a thriller not a comedy, not enjoyable, not thought-provoking-- just very earnest.

Four boys in dire financial straits accidentally discover a mafia don’s Irfan Khan’s (Pavan Malhotra) escape plan, and kidnap him to get the 50 lakh reward on his head. Too much time in the first half is taken up by the boy’s problems – one is a gambler, one needs money to go to Dubai, the third needs money for the operation of a friend’s father, the fourth gets in for the ride.

They do the job rather too easily, while the plane they pick him up from, is hijacked by his men, in keeping with his plan (the hijackers play Antakshari with a captive minister in an irritatingly extended scene). So his gang, the cops and the Intelligence guys are in a tizzy.

None of the tension of a three-way search come across in the film, and the interaction between Irfan and the boys is quite vague too. Still, they are so needy, clumsy, scared and raw, that you want things to work out for them. Only Pavan Mahotra is known to audiences outside Andhra, and he does passable job, though he doesn’t appear to be as ferocious as his “50 lakh” reputation would suggest.

It’s commendable that the director does not succumb to the temptation of item numbers and dream sequences. The boys and their sole female sympathizer look ordinary and middle class, there is no attempt to infuse any glamour into the film. It could, however, do with some humour, pace and drama.

It’s Breaking News

It’s Breaking News has an important subject— the dumbing down and spiritual corruption of the media; how TV channels will stoop to any lengths to gather ratings.

Unfortunately, the unfolding of the story on one reporter’s awakening and redemption is done in a too simplistic and theatrical manner. Some behind-the-scenes research into how TV channels work, would have given this Vishal Inamdar film the realistic edge it needed. It seems to be a hurriedly put together project which badly wants to make a point, but all it manages is some incoherent rambling.

Koel Purie plays Vidya an entertainment reporter (very inspired by Page 3), who is suddenly elevated to the crime beat. Her experiences with a sting operation gone wrong leave her wiser and battle-scarred.

The cynical and greedy world of television has been the subject of many fine Hollywood films (like Network, Quiz Show), and a couple of Hindi films, but It’s Breaking News is not likely to add to the debate.

The performances are hopeless, production values shoddy. Pity, because the issue does need more exposure and debate.


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