Friday, May 09, 2008



The credits read “The Saif Ali Khan” “The Kareena Kapoor” etc. That is perhaps supposed to indicate that the ‘ishtyle’ of this ‘phormula phillum’ is like that only.

Vijay Krishna Acharya (dialogue writer of Dhoom) directing his first feature film, is like a kid at the candy store who makes himself sick eating everything in sight, and with fond ‘uncle’ Tashraj films indulging him, he gets to gobble a lot of candy; what does he have to show for it—multi-colour barf.

Acharya also seems to belong to the Seveties Bollywood fan club, so there’s a wafer thin plot, an outlandish villain (who has to marry the heroine before he can touch her) his oddball sidekicks, and a couple of childhood sweethearts, who are mercifully not given a song like ‘Jab hum jawaan honge”, a revenge motive, lack of logic and coincidences galore.

You wait for the seventies films allusions to come, and get hit on the head with the “Khush to bahut honge tum” soliloquy from Deewar, delivered by Anil Kapoor in pidgin English. By this time, you have forgotten the rather cool and likeable opening scenes, in which call centre executive Jimmy (Saif Ali Khan) is so bewitched by Pooja (Kareena Kapoor) that he agrees to teach English to her gangster boss Bhaiyyaji (Anil Kapoor). This guy is supposed to be funny—he wears garish clothes, bashes his victims to death and has for sidekicks two guys with a permanent wardrobe malfunction.

Pooja gives Jimmy a sob story, makes him steal 25 crores of Bhaiyyaji’s money and runs off with it. The gangster summons from Kanpur, an illiterate aspiring hitman Bacchan Pande (Akshay Kumar) to take Jimmy and go in search of Pooja. Bachchan is given a long drawn intro, which is when the film, that had started to unravel after Bhaiyyaji’s English lessons, comes apart completely.

How could Acharya even think that a Ram Leela gone wrong sequence with Bachchan playing a be-goggled Ravan had any novelty in it? When the guys trace Pooja, she says she has hidden the money all over the country, so they have to zig zag from Rajastan to Ladakh to Kerala to Greece (for the songs) and UP (for the bachpan ka flashbacks).

Remember how in the old movies, couple on the run used to get into a drama company, borrow costumes do a just-like-that dance number? In Tashan, the three hijack a foreign film unit and force them to shoot a song, because a cop is after them! In the end there is a typical seventies style action sequence when fire, metal or bullets don’t even scratch the heroes, while the villain’s henchmen drop like flies. In an earlier sequence, cops drop like flies too, and nobody seems to be concerned about the high body count.

Like the recent Race, everybody in this film is crooked, so the good guys are bad, and maybe the bad not so horrid. In fact, Anil Kapoor does his part with so much zest, he might become the next kinky villain in Hindi films. While Kareena (at her best) and her two suitors provide the sex appeal.

Okay, so Acharya gives the film an over-the-top visual appeal and some extravagant set pieces (just like Jhoom Barabar Jhoom—same producer, same DOP, Ayananka Bose), which, however, do nothing to make the film more endurable.


Sirf comes with a tagline ‘Life Looks Greener on the other side’ – but Rajaatesh Nayar’s debut film seems to be set in arid Mumbai landscape with no greenery anywhere.

The four couples who inhabit the film, are miserable in their own way. One can’t get married because there’s no money to rent a house; the other has a kid with a hole in her heart; two have marital problems that involve major bickering.

The common factor in their lives is a big ad campaign that is to be launched and they are all somehow involved with D-day. Nayar makes some kind of attempt to portray the problems of the middle class in Mumbai—of train and bus commutes, space crunch, sidey real estate agents, endless work pressures. Unfortunately, this has all been done with much greater polish in Anurag Basu’s Metro.

A couple of the tracks are even similar -- Kay Kay Menon reprises his role as top honcho in a big company, whose wife (Manisha Koirala) complains of neglect. Like in Metro, he picks up a young protégé Rahul (Ankur Khanna) to do some unsavoury work for him; again like in Metro, the wife is attracted to, but not involved with a younger man (Parvin Dabas), whose small town wife (Rituparna Sengupta) is an unbearable shrew. There are neighbours of the couple (Sonali Kulkarni-Ranvir Shorey) whose kid is ill, and that leaves Rahul’s whiny girlfriend (Nauheed Cyrusi). Annoyingly, all four woman nag and all four men are misunderstood beasts of burden. Not at all a fair picture of people in the city.

Understanding the woes of the middle class requires the sympathy, delicacy and a touch of humour that Basu Chatterjee of Hrishikesh Mukherjee brought to their films—Nayar just blunders through riding on clichés like city women being scantily dressed, booze-guzzling harridans as compared to the demure wife from Jabalpur. If the overdressed and hideously made-up Rituparna was his idea of comic relief, then he left the audience grinding their teeth in irritation.

Kay Kay Menon and Sonali Kulkarni (badly styled) manage to bring some strength to their parts, Ranvir Shorey is wasted in a hopeless role.


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