Sunday, September 13, 2009



There are so few realistic films about young people and hardly any from the point of view of girls. Rupali Guha’s commendable debut film Aamras looks at a group of girls on the threshold of adulthood. It is a vulnerable, happy and confusing time- when they are about to step out of school into a more independent environment.

Jiya, Pari, Rakhi and Sanya are best friends – all from very different backgrounds, but that has not come in the way of their friendship. Pari (Ntasha Bhardwaj) is the richest of the lot, happily subsidizing the poorest, Jiya (Vega Tamotia). Rakhi (Maanvi Gagroo—best of the lot), the chirpy daughter of a restaurateur and the quiet Sanya (Aanchal Sabharwal) are the ones that keep the peace when things flare up—as they do on a school picnic to Mahabaleshwar.

During the course of the two-day trip, Jiya falls in love with a tour guide Johnny (Ajay Singh Choudhary), Pari’s heart is broken by a classmate, who makes an MMS of her, and it looks like the bitterness will carry over. Other crises hit, and at the end the girls are wiser and their friendship stronger than ever.

A lot of coming of age films like this regularly come out of Hollywood, but it is a relatively under-utilised genre in India, or it is from the male perspective (Dil Chahta Hai, Rock On). So Aamras is a brave attempt—in fact, it has potential for a sequel of the Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants kind.

Still, it is all a bit superficial--too many tracks are thrown up, without reason (the invisible builder threatening Jiya’s mother, the Jiya trying to sacrifice her art scholarship); a few issues are not even touched upon (having a serious romance with a stranger at 17). Some things like Pari trying to control Jiya’s life are baffling. But the four young actresses are so spirited, their joie de vivre so infectious, that you don’t mind the flaws (ordinary music, tacky styling). Rupali Guha is Basu Chatterjee’s daughter—a chip of the old block.


Somebody coined a term ‘Violence Porn’ – which describes Baabarr aptly. Graphic violence, a psychopath turned into a ‘hero’—no real attempt to understand the characters, the milieu or the implications of making these cynical, cruel high body count films, that serve no purpose.

Baabarr cannot be called entertaining; it’s pretentious-sounding voice-over stating that certain parts of the country live by the gun, says nothing new. For social relevance, there is the usual blame vote bank politics kind of explanation, but seeing this film, you’d think, people in UP just run around the streets shooting each other, and nobody gives a damn. If it is true, then the film should be an indictment of this, not an endorsement. Baabarr (Sohum), one of six brothers from a butcher family in a UP mohalla, picks up a gun and shoots a man when he is just a dead-eyed 12-year-old and grows up to be a heartless killer.

It is not in any way enjoyable to watch a succession of men—some good, some not—being killed by Baabarr and his brother (Mukesh Tiwari), just because they felt like it. The cops, honest Dwivedi (Mithun Chakraborthy) and corrupt Chaturvedi (Om Puri), are unable to curtail Baabarr’s bestiality or his appalling warfare with rival gangster Tabrez (Sushant Singh).

Almost everything about gangsters has already been revealed by the films of Ram Gopal Varma and his imitators; crime-infested UP has been seen in just as gritty and realistic a format as this, in films like Haasil, Seher and Omkara. Ashu Trikha, maker of unremarkable films like Deewanapan, Sheesha and Alag, seems to have made a desperate attempt to make film that will at least get him noticed—if only for its gruesome violence. No reason to recommend this one, really!


In the wake of investigations showing that Ishrat was shot dead in a fake encounter, the issue of innocent Muslims being victimised as terrorists takes on a frightening significance. But Mohan C Sharma’s Ruslaan is so badly written and directed, that it leaves no impact at all.

Ruslaan (Rajveer) spending carefree days with loving parents, friends, garrulous fiancée (Megha Chatterjee) and precocious sister, is suddenly arrested as a suspect after the Mumbai train blasts. The cops, in a hurry to pin blame, neglect proper investigations that would have proved Ruslaan’s innocence and put him through third degree torture to extract a confession (done in a more harrowingly effective way in Khuda Ke Liye and New York). The first half of the film has many pointless scenes, and by the time the actual drama gets under way, the inept actors have already made the viewer lose interest. Earnest, but shoddy, this one has zero box-office prospects.


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