Sunday, January 03, 2010

Just for the record--last 3 of 09 

Raat Gayi Baat Gayi

For those who need a film fix every week, Raat Gayi Baat Gayi may just be the best bet out of the lot releasing at the end of the 2009. Directed by Saurabh Shukla, it looks like a European comedy of manners, transposed to Indian soil.

It is an elegant looking film with lovely homes, characters that could be on your list of acquaintances, having the kind of party conversations you might hear around them. It’s a Rajat Kapoor and Gang film, the kind they have been making, perhaps for their own amusement… perchance the audience will be amused too.

Kapoor himself plays an ad filmmaker, married to an artist (Irawati Harshe), who gets drunk at a party, chases a skimpily dressed model (Neha Dhupia), and, the morning after, can’t remember what (if anything) happened. His buddy (Vinay Pathak) chucked out of his home by wife (Anu Menon) for surfing porn sites, goes along to piece together those missing hours with the girl. The hosts of the party, a writer (Dalip Tahil), his noisy wife (Navneet Nisshan) and an artist (Aamir Bashir), more of less, complete the cast.

The problem is that the film just doesn’t rise about the clever (though overdone in Hollywood) idea, and doesn’t come up with any new insights into urban life and relationships. Competent performances by Rajat Kapoor, Navneet Nisshan and Neha Dhupia…is perhaps a pleasant drawing room watch. Whether it is worth the high price of a multiplex ticket is debatable.

Accident on Hill Road

Residents of Mumbai know of a Hill Road in the suburbs which is a major street shopping destination. The Hill Road in the title of this film is some desolate stretch of land in some vague part of Mumbai where a drunk female can drive almost undetected, with a smashed windshield and a man’s bottom sticking out of her car.

In Mahesh Nair’s debut film, Accident on Hill Road, lifted from Hollywood film Stuck, Sonam (Celina Jaitly) works as a nurse in an old people’s home by day, and turns into a provocatively dressed junkie, and a drug dealer’s girlfriend by night. While driving drunk and stoned, she hits a man (Farouque Shaikh), and in a panic dumps the car in her garage with the poor victim sticking out.

She doesn’t realize that he is alive and even in that wounded state has enough fight in him to take on the silly young woman and her dumb boyfriend (Abhimanyu Singh).

There was scope for some Misery (the Stephen King book and award-winning film) kind of dark comic thriller, but Nair has no control over pace, and can’t get his cast to deliver. Celina Jaitly must have been cast for her sex appeal and is made to parade around in tight, strappy tops. Shaikh, appearing in a film after such a long time, looks bored—and you can’t blame him, since he has to spend half the film in that undignified ‘bottom up’ position.

Bolo Raam

There is an industry superstition that films released in the first week of the year don’t do well. So the only ones who dare to release their films in this week are the no-hopers—films that haven’t a chance anyway, even if they came over Diwali weekend.

The three films this week open a day earlier, hoping to break the jinx. With a film like Bolo Raam, what can one say, but that there is no tax on optimism, so anyone can dream of a hit. This film by Rakesh Chaturvedi ‘Om’ seems to have been made to launch newbie Rishi Bhutani. To prop him up are actors like Naseeruddin Shah, Om Puri, Padmini Kolhapure and Govind Namdeo.

Early on in the film Raam (Bhutani) is established as the kind of Mamma’s Boy, whose obsession for her (Padmini Kolhapure) borders on Oedipal. The song picturised on the two of them is hilariously lovey-dovey.

Then, the mother is found dead, the murder weapon is in Raam’s hand, and he refuses to speak—hence the title Bolo Raam. Cops Om Puri and Govind Namdeo, plus shrink Naseeruddin Shah are baffled. Two of these actors had starred in Aakrosh, a classic about a tribal who is accused of murder but does not speak. Suffice to say, this isn’t even in the same league, and if there is a reason why the two signed this turkey, it is not evident in the film. The newcomer is more wooden than wooden, if that is possible.


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