Sunday, September 20, 2009


Dil Bole Hadippa

Anurag Singh, making his debut takes the idea of Dil Bole Hadippa from, She's The Man, but Indianises it-- more to appeal to the NRI, than to the real Indian, who knows the rural Punjab is not at all like the movies.

Cricket is the crowd-pleasing excuse, but a lot of issues are bunged in-- Indo-Pak amity, patriotism, and of course equality for women-- making it one big, colourful, quite enjoyablePamphlet.

The story is a classic wish-fulfillment fantasy—a village nautanki girl Veera (Rani Mukherji), is crazy about cricket, and after a few gully matches with kids, believes she is a world class batsman. It can only happen in a film—she really is one. Rohan (Shahid Kapoor), a cricketer from England, is summoned by his estranged father (Anupem Kher) to help with the annual cricket tournament with his friend’s (Dalip Tahil) team in Pakistan.

Veera disguises herself as a Sikh boy, Veer Pratap Singh, sneaks into the team and becomes the star batsman. As Veera she teaches the stuffy Rohan, what being Indian is all about. Neither the comic potential of the story is fully realized, nor the excitement of the game. It is first a tribute to Punjab and then to Yashraj’s other films (Chak De India, Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi); must every film from the studio bow to Dilwale Dulhania Le Jaenge?

That said, the film has amazingly good performances by Rani Mukherji and Shahid Kapoor. For Rani it is a career-saving role, when she was being written off—and no actress would have done it as well as her. But Shahid deserves commendation for letting co-star shine. In almost every film in which the actress plays a important role, the ‘hero’ is always called upon to save the day in the climax; here it is the girl winning against all odds and getting to make the speech in the end, and almost no A-list male star would have allowed it. It’s sad then, that after proving that women can be equal to men, the film feels the need to put Rani into bikini tops and dance to ‘sexy moves’ in the end-credits song, as if to say, what went before is a lie, actresses are just fit for this!


A man assigning a hit job to the 'hero' asks if he will be able to do it. His henchman says he is “Rambo ka baap, Bruce Lee ka nana... he is the Last Action Hero."

And Salman Khan, swaggering through Wanted, is a one-man killing machine. Pokkiri was a big hit in Tamil (and Telugu), so it's not surprising that it makes its way to Mumbai in a couple of years. Directed by choreographer-actor Prabhu Deva, Wanted is an old-fashioned action film-- retaining its Southern flavour, not even updated to appeal to a pan Indian audience. Still it aims to reach a multiplex as well as single screen audience, something very few films attempt these days, or even achieve. (The first day, second show of the film at a suburban multiplex was not even half full). It is over ambitious in that sense.

It's also easy to see why the remake attracted Salman Khan (the same reason Ghajini attracted Aamir Khan). He gets to fight, do a lot of those pelvis-shaking dances-- and when he is doing this, he does grabs attention. The problem is the in-between portions. He looks bored, the romance (with Ayesha Takia) is without fizz; the humour is tasteless (too many lines derogatory to women that make one cringe). The virtually plotless film keeps chugging on the hero's 'items' (fights and dances) hoping his stardom will cover up for the lack of real content.

The film is about rival gangs, corrupt cops (Mahesh Manjrekar redefining creepy) and a twist that one can see coming a mile away. It's just an excuse to unleash a lot of action sequences-- some stylishly done, most just gruesome. Salman Khan plays Radhe, a hitman, who treats the gangsters he regularly bashes with the same wry contempt with which he talks to the girl he proclaims he loves (he sees visions of himself as Salim and her as Anarkali). That must be Prabhu Dev's idea of cool, but younger stars today achieve it with far less effort.

Whatever the fate of the film at the box-office (doesn't look too encouraging on day one), it's hardly a film Salman Khan would be proud to have on his resume, considering that other stars who are his contemporaries have moved to much more sophisticated – and occasionally relevant-- cinema. A little symapathy can also be reserved for Prakash Raj, this year's National Award for best acting, playing a batty bug-eyed villain.


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