Sunday, September 27, 2009

What’s Your Raashee?

It is perfectly understandable if a director wants to make a romantic comedy in between two historical epics. It is also not Ashutosh Gowariker’s fault that audiences have come to expect meaningful cinema for him. Madhu Rye’s dated novel Kimball Ravenswood, already turned into a TV serial (Mr Yogi) and a couple of plays, was an odd choice for Gowariker. And then to make a long, patience sapping film, that is neither comedy nor social comment, is entirely baffling.

The Indian tradition of the arranged marriage has been satirized in books and films, but it is still taken seriously by a majority of Indians, even the Westernised ones, who are expected to be ‘modern.’ So a spoof has to keep that in mind. Also, those who may accept the bizarre idea of people marrying without even properly meeting their potential life partners, would find slightly distasteful the in-built sexism of an NRI groom descending from the skies like a god to bestow green card dreams on desperate to wed desi girls.

The only redeeming feature of the wimpy Chicago-based Yogesh Patel (Harman Baweja-- helpless) is that he does not want a dowry. Otherwise, he is quite willing to get married in 10 days’ time, because his horoscope says he will obtain wealth on his wedding day, and that money is needed to pay the debts of his wastrel brother Jitu (Dilip Joshi). He is also willing to let his uncle Debu (Darshan Jariwala) short list 12 out of the 176 ‘applicants’ –one from each zodiac sign.

Why do all the girls look like Priyanka Chopra? Yogesh’s grandfather has a theory that all the girls he meets will look the same to him, because he has an ideal in his mind. As Yogesh trips all over the place meeting the Gujarati ‘applicants’, you are subjected to a whole barrage of caricatures and some badly picturised songs. The girls don’t match even elementary Linda Goodman characteristics, they are just tedious stereotypes—the businesswoman is a cold dominatrix, the dancer is aggressive, the jilted girl looks tragic, and so on—and most see him as an escape route to a better life; nobody does a background check on him! In the end, you don’t care who he marries and why.

Priyanka Chopra , with some help from stylists, gives the 12 girls a distinct personality-- the most genuine and likeable being the small town girl with conservative parents, who is given overnight lessons in English, made to wear a hybrid costume and left loose to impress Yogesh. Once she pulls off the awkward walk and snort-y laugh, the rest of the roles seem like a breeze. Yoges-bhai wants to know the girl’s Raashee, you just want to know when Ashutosh Gowariker will return to normal form.

Fast Forward

There would perhaps be a little curiosity about Fast Forward, since it is by the producer of last year’s sleeper hit A Wednesday (Anjum Rizvi). But this one seems to be hastily put together error of judgment. First- time director Zaigham Ali Sayed picks forgotten Hollywood film You Got Served as his inspiration for Fast Forward, which, right away, shows a lack of imagination. Still, with a good cast, foot-tapping music and great dances, he might have got by.

The film about a group of dancers who take on another bunch of ‘dudes’ for a ten lakh bet, at a weird boxing ring like of spot called “Cave” has nothing going for it. Vinod Khanna is the ex-con who runs the place and solemnly calls it his “karmabhoomi”. Hordes of extras hang around the Cave, cheering and clapping, when they could have stayed home and watched better dancing on the many talent shows on TV.

The two leading men Rishi (Rehan Khan) and Sunny (Akshay Kapoor) have not just to beat Vicky (Siddhant Karnick) and gang at dancing, they have to get loan recovery mobsters off their back, and sort out issues that arise when Sunny falls for his pal’s sister (Bhavna Pani) and Rishi for the villain’s moll (Sabina Sheema). The boys exist in a vaccum, not much is known about their background, upbringing, ambitions or sources of income. And they don’t know what to do with their passion for dance (the hip hop, break dance kind), except start prancing around wherever there is an audience.

The love stories are flat, the dance competition has no drama, the back-up guys dance better than the ‘heroes’ and the villain is better looking. This one would be better endured in fast forward mode.


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