Saturday, July 26, 2008


Mission Istanbul

In last week’s Kismat Konnection everyone in Toronto spoke Hindi, in this week’s Mission Istaanbul, everyone in Turkey does—and without a trace of an accent at that. In last week’s Contract, an ex-soldier singlehandedly destroyed a terrorist network, this week, a journalist and a commando do so.

The more things change, the more they remain the same. Anyway, logic isn’t one of the strong points of Apoorva Lakhia’s film. It is designed to fit in as much action and mayhem as possible, and let the audience try to fit the various pieces of the puzzle together after they get out of the cinemahall. While they are inside auditorium, they are not allowed to think. And certainly not ask why? or how?

Vikas Sagar (Zayed Khan) is a serious, bespectacled TV reporter, who goes about interviewing terrorists in risky places. Just divorced from his wife (Shriya Sharan), he takes up an assignment with Al Johara channel in Istanbul.

It is run by a decidedly shady sort called Gazni (Nikitan Dheer), who has a Martyr’s Gallery of dead reporters in the office, and a 13th floor nobody is allowed to enter—enough to make a sensible man run home.

But Vikas is targeted by a strange Turkish guy called Rizwan (Vivek Oberoi), who wants the secrets of the 13th floor, because the control centre of world terrorism lies there or something like that.

The two guys run riot all over Istanbul, with the local authorities not even batting an eyelid. For variety, they are joined in a couple of scenes by a girl (Shweta Bharadwaj), supposedly an Indian Intelligence operative. (Unintended comic relief, that!)

The secrets are copied onto a pen drive and the villains now chase the two all over to get it back! Nothing makes much sense—like why in the midst of all the running and hiding, does Vikas take a bus ride.. just so he can shrug off his shirt and run through the bazaar? Or why, for instance, is Rizwan, an army commando functioning as a lone ranger? Or why, when the climax is so near, does Abhishek Bachchan appear for an ‘item’ number.

Does not matter—as long as all manner of weaponry is used to kill hordes of extras, and in the end, the guys take their shirts off for hand-to-hand combat too. The film is all testosterone and no brain—the two girls have a token presence—one to dance and drive, the other to get kidnapped so the heroes can rescue her.

The actors seem to have a good time, and the action is really well done. But just a little bit of sense would have helped.

Money Hai To Honey Hai

After making the solemn Swami, choreographer-turned-director Ganesh Acharya tries his hand at comedy with Money Hai To Honey Hai and fails again.

The film in Rat Race mould is about a bunch of disparate people being forced to come together at one place. Six losers— runaway rich guy (Govinda), failed businessman Lala (Manoj Bajpai), small time model (Upen Patel), sacked copywriter (Aftab Shivdasani), out of work actress (Hansika) and jobless designer (Celina Jaitley)— are randomly chosen by eccentric industrialist Jaiswal (Prem Chopra) to inherit his wealth. But when they get to the resort where they have been summoned, they find that they have to actually pay back a huge sum of money to the bank, and deal with Jaiswal’s villainous manager Batra (Ravi Kissen).

Acharya has gathered a fairly big cast, and even managed a few funny scenes (the spoof on Ekta Kapoor and her serials) but seems to have cobbled pieces of three different films. The first half is taken up with introductions of the characters and their problems.

Then there is a trace of a thriller in the shenanigans of the manager, and finally a piece of some old 50s ‘Workers of the World Unite’ drama. The audience can’t figure out whether to laugh, cry or applaud the belated nod to socialism from an unlikely source.

Acharya had peppered the film with a lot of lavishly picturised dances (including one where he jiggles his ample flesh), which is his area of expertise. Maybe he should leave direction to someone more equipped to handle it.

An overage Govinda (why so much English dialogue?) leads the cast of actors picnicking in Mauritius. If only the audience could enjoy the holiday too.


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