Thursday, 24 July 2014

Film Review - Kick

Just for Kicks

Film: Kick

Cast: Salman Khan,Jacqueline Fernandes,Nawazuddin Siddiqui

Directed by: Sajid Nadiadwala

Duration: 2 hrs 26 mins

Rating: * *

The similarity between Salman Khan’s film and a children’s animation film is that, irrespective of the content, the target audience is generally happy with whatever is thrown at them. In fact, a six or eight year old might have an alternative opinion about an animation film but rarely will you get to hear a varying opinion from bhai’s fans.

And it is not very difficult to see why. The man has a larger-than-life persona on and off the screen and some directors know better than others how to exploit it. From that point of view, producer turned director Sajid Nadiadwala is in full throttle in his debut venture Kick.Salman’s fans will surely be delighted. As the actor says, “Main dil mein aata hoon samaj mein nahin” – whatever that is supposed to mean.

For the rest, it is all about looking at your watch and counting the minutes. 

You don’t expect a Kurosawa or Bergman-like experience in a Salman Khan enterprise. If you come out with your marbles intact, it calls for a celebration.

Apart from Salman Khan playing Salman Khan, he also plays a badass named Devi Lal who likes to beat up eve-teasers – the audience has seen that drill several times before but yet they lap it up. And if you thought the grand entry of the hero was done away with in the 80s, then think again. You see him making an entry in super slow motion as his face appears on the screen. Trends in film making don’t apply to bhai - he is a trend unto himself.

In Kick, he is not exactly gainfully employed; his full time job appears to be pursuing his love interest Shaina (Jacqueline Fernandes) who is a psychiatrist and appears to be more exasperated than her patients.

Devi also has another avatar: he transforms into Devil, a Robin Hood character who also has full backing from his dad (Mithun Chakraborty). Randeep Hooda plays a cop in hot pursuit of Devil who is targeting the evil guy (Nawazuddin Siddique). It helps to have a villain who can hold your interest and who, at times, with his evil laugh and quirkiness, is more enthralling than the hero.

When it doesn’t take itself seriously, the film is watchable but the moment it switches to serious mode, as it does every now and then, you want to hit the fast forward button. A car chase on the streets of Warsaw shows the Rohit Shetty has serious competition when it comes to blowing up cars.

And just for the record, I haven’t seen a movie where the title is mentioned so many times in the film. As a part of the dialogue, if someone were to ask, “What did you have for lunch today?” am pretty sure the answer would have been “Kick”.

The film is well shot by Ayananka Bose and it is obvious that big bucks have been spent in making it. Even though I am far from being a Salman Khan fan, I can see why he has such a fan following – he aims to please and does it well. Now, only if someone could cobble together a sensible story for him rather than just rehash South Indian films. At times, Nawazuddin Siddique is one up on Salman; in some of the scenes he is deliciously evil.  

But all in all, this is just another Kick in the wall.

Published in The Navhind Times, Goa on 27th July 2014

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Film Review - Pizza

Not So Crisp

Film: Pizza
Cast: Akshay Oberoi, Parvathy Omanakuttan, Rajesh Sharma
Directed by: Akshay Akkineni
Duration: 1 hr 47 mins
Rating: * *

A remake of the super hit Tamil horror flick directed by Kartik Subbaraj, Pizza is different from the Ram Gopal Varma, Vikram Bhatt kind of films but only marginally. It starts off with a promise with very unusual opening credits which are terrific, but the second act treads on a very familiar path. There are way too many of those boo moments and instead of creating suspense and fright with the unseen, those ‘scary faces’ are repeated so often that you want to take that axe and knock those ghosts down.

Besides, the structure of the film also has an issue, it tries to be way too clever on the home run – yes the revelation is intriguing and only if this smartness was spread uniformly throughout the film, this Pizza would have been very edible.

Kunal (Akshay Oberoi) and Nikita (Parvathy Omanakuttan) are a couple who are still setting down in life. Finance is an issue because he is a pizza delivery boy and she is a writer who specializes in horror stories. While at work, he goes to deliver a pizza to a lady (Dipannita Sharma) and discovers that unlike Hotel California, he can neither check out of her house nor can he leave. Dead bodies, strange sounds and paranormal activity it is all happening. 
This is where the film loses its plot - after all, there is only so much you can take of the same dead bodies again and again.

It tries to redeem itself by some twists and turns at the end but that doesn’t quite make up for the lapses before.  Plus, what good is a story that deceives the audience for a large part of the film only for the sake of doing so?

With some trimming they could have still saved the day – chop off the middle parts and those standard scary moments and cut to the chase straight away. At least that way, the chances of losing the audience’ attention is slim. Less is always more when it comes to horror.

The Tamil version relatively is more taut and gripping, this one is not junk food but it is just about edible.

Published in The Navhind Times on 20th July 2014

Film Review - Hate Story 2

Cull Bill

Film: Hate Story 2
Cast: Surveen Chawla, Jay Bhanushali
Directed by: Vishal Pandya
Duration: 2 hrs 7 mins
Rating: * 1 / 2

The success and skin show of Hate Story prompted the film makers to make a sequel – Hate Story 2 doesn’t have any sleaze and we were never quite expecting it to have any story anyway. This is just another revenge drama inspired by a host of films right from Khoon Bhari Maang (1988) to Tarantino’s Kill Bill (2003). She comes close to doing that but  the heroine should have wiggled her big toe, that homage would have been fun.

Much like The Bride, Sonika finds herself buried alive in a coffin but manages to sneak out. In flashbacks we are told that she was a demure girl once upon a time who also happened to be the mistress of a politician Mandar (Sushant Singh). When she falls in love with her friend from the photography class (Jay Bhanushali) and escapes to Goa, Mandar bhai gets very very angry and literally sends her underground.

When she is back on her feet she is seeks vengeance, there is no Deadly Viper Assassination Squad to take care of here, just a bunch of few ordinary thugs. Defying the laws of science, one of them also succumbs to death with a LPG tube in his mouth and given the rising cost of LPG, it is not the cheapest option to kill.

Neither the characterization nor does the story has much to write home about – they are stereotypes all the way. There is no rational or justification how the main protagonist transforms herself from a shy person to gun totting glamour girl.

The leading lady doesn’t leave much of mark on her performance and Sushant Singh does the scowling and growling that is demanded of him. From being a tale of retribution Hate Story 2 ends up as a farce. 

Published in The Navhind Times on 20th July 2014

Film Review - Amit Sahni Ki List


Almost Listless

Film: Amit Sahni Ki List
Cast: Vir Das, Vega Tamotia, Anindita Nayar
Directed by: Ajay Bhuyan
Duration: 1 hr 55 mins
Rating: * *

Amit Sahni Ki List is your run of the mill romantic comedies with a formula that has been pretty much done to death by now.  A guy keeps searching for the right girl all his life and when she comes, another one follows suit leaving the bloke all confused as to which one to choose. There is still ample scope to make a charming film from that one line brief but alas, you could write a program to launch a satellite while watching the film and still follow it to the tee.

Vir Das plays Amit, an investment banker who has everything going for him, almost. He is particularly finicky when it comes to women, they must posses certainly qualities, he has a list of criteria to be fulfilled and being a Sachin Tendulkar fan being one of them.  In most cases the relationship ends on a sour note, till he meets Mala (Vega Tamotia) who sweeps him of his feet. With all boxes ticked on his list, they get engaged and then he meets Devika (Anindita Nayar) who also fits the bracket. Like several other countless heroes before, Amit can’t make up his mind, which girl to chose.

The execution is particularly dull, while it tries to be all hip and urban (like the mother who keeps using text lingo like IMHO, LOL) there is very little connect with the characters, particularly Amit Sahni. You don’t know if you should like him or hate him for whatever he does. 

Vir Das is best suited as a supporting actor, he can’t quite carry off a film on his own but Vega Tamotia shows some spark. Amit Sahni Ki List tries hard to achieve something but ends up being listless.  

Published in The Navhind Times on 20th July 2014

Film Review- Planes - Fire and Rescue

On Auto Pilot

Film: Planes –Fire and Rescue
Voices of: Dane Cook, Ed Harris, Julie Bowen
Directed by: Roberts Gannaway
Duration: 1 hr 23 mins
Rating: *  * 1 / 2

Not many sequels are released within a year of its predecessor but the Planes franchise seems to be in a hurry at the moment. Planes, released last year was no great shakes and now we have a sequel which is very much in the same mould. Like any other animation film, kids might like it but beyond that, it doesn’t offer much.

From being a crophopper to becoming a champion racer Dusty (voice of Dane Cook) had come a long way. He is waiting for the next racing season to start but his irreplaceable gearbox might be having some trouble. As a result, he decides to join the fire fighting team since they are in need of someone. For that, he has to undergo special training and since there are lots of fires spreading around, Dusty has to prove his mettle to become a certified fire fighter.

Since the story is anyway on thin ice, it just meanders initially before settling in for a decent climax. While the colorful animation looks good, there isn’t enough to back it as far as the plot is concerned. This Plane is certainly on auto-pilot. 

Published in The Navhind Times on 20th July 2014