Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Tum Mere Ho

Directed by: Tahir Hussain
Starring: Aamir Khan, Juhi Chawla
Released: 1990
Verdict: destroy every copy – horrible – bad – whatever – flawed but enjoyable - good – great – amazing

Tum Mere Ho is one of the movies trying to ride the wave of popularity which had swept Aamir Khan and Juhi Chawla post their not-exactly-debut-film Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak. Both were fresh faces, young, attractive and with notable acting talent, and their pairing was hugely appreciated. No wonder that as soon as the Qayamat fever washed over there were other projects offered to the couple, but sadly none up until Hum Hain Rahi Pyar Ke in 1993 managed to do justice to anything Aamir and Juhi related – be it their acting or chemistry. Tum Mere Ho is also, at the same time, one of the most bizarre films I´ve seen. Entertaining in a way, but ultimately falling into the category of unintentionally hilarious.
I mean..... what the hell????
The films opens with a ridiculously shot scene which is supposed to be dramatic and mysterious, yet manages only to confuse and provides one of the many WTF moments the film is full of. A shapeshifting magic snakes are nothing new in Indian films, however I´d like to keep thinking that when in human form, they look like Sridevi in Nagina, not like the lady in this film, dressed as if she was ready to attend the new Savage Garden concert. In any case, the story goes as follows: greedy guy kills a snake, believing he´ll get some secret treasure, but only manages to really annoy its mate (the shapeshifter), who, to get even with him, bites his small son. Doctors are hurriedly summoned, but alas! Too late! They proclaim the child for dead and send his body floating in the river (I´m not really familiar with Hindu rituals, but..... aren´t you supposed to burn the dead body and dispers the ashes???). An old man finds the child in the water soon afterwards and unlike doctors, who should apparently immediately go back to medical school, finds out the truth!

Indeed - the kid is alive and kicking. He keeps the boy with him, naming him Shiva, and raises him to be – very conveniently – a snakecharmer and sorcerer who, by wielding an old bone, can control flying skulls and do magic (yes, you heard right). 

I shall have this expression till the end of the film.
One day on a fair the handsome and poor Shiva meet beautiful and rich Paro and love blossoms. Are you expecting the old boring twist of her parents disapproving and that being all? How wrong thou areth! Yes, daddy is not happy, he even hires another totally ridiculously styled magician to kill Shiva with his magic lute, but when that fails, showing that obviously unless the lute would be used to beat the guy to death it´s good for nothing, he has Shiva severely punished and then comes the biggest shock of all – he reveals to his daughter that she is not allowed to love, because she is – a widow! She was married off when three years old, but her husband (of the same age) died after being bitten by the snake few days later. And her parents did what every parent would do. Raised her without ever telling her anything about it until the day her in-laws would come to take her to live with them. Because that, apparently, would not cause the girl any distress. Oh, if only there was a guy bitten by snake as a child nearby..... righ?

Juhi being all pretty of course.....
Devastated Paro does what all Bollywood girls do when they want to protect the guy they love – she totally breaks his heart by telling him she never loved him. He, in return, sings a song about betrayal to her in public, and then they part way, seemingly forever. Many tears and more tears later Shiva finds out Paro actually does love him, and follows her to her in-laws. From there it´s more and more naive and silly and WTF and shapeshifting snake lady makes a ridiculous return only to participate in a ridiculously grand „action“ scene with Aamir vs. flying snakes near the very end. Finally all falls into place (in the story, not for you as a viewer), Shiva is recognized by his parents, and considering the heated scenes he and Paro shared throughout the film (with and without clothes, some serious belly kissing involved – which both rather surprised me), I guess they did not bother with marrying again and..... lived happily ever after.

"Do you want a viper or a rattle snake as a wedding gift?!
"I think I hate you for real."
To be honest, even though I´m not against "magic" in films, this one made me shake my head in a complete disbelief, especially at the beginning, as I was really not expecting it. Unlike Nagina, where the supernatural is presented wonderfully "realistic", here it is anything but convincing. The whole necromancy bit was unnecessary and presented without a bit of mystery or thrill. Juhi was great, second half was her time to shine, at least in whatever she was given by a weak script. Aamir was good too, though most of the second part he spent sitting under a tree playing a lute more then anything else. Seeing them together was of course a pleasure, one just wishes the director would have understood what opportunities he had in his hands. He, however is not the only one we could complain about when it comes to wasting Juhi/Aamir jodi. Except for Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak and Hum Hain Rahi Pyar Ke none of their films together were good. Pity.

Thanks filmmakers. I wouldn´t have guessed the guy was evil if he wasn´t wearing that skull on his T-shirt.
I liked music, especially the title song, which is rather melodious. However the boys vs. girls dance in the snakecharmer´s village caused another huge WTF moment with all the "violent" slapping throughout. The explanation that „our girls like men who can slap them and control them“ did not go well with my feminist side.

In spite of all I actually felt entertained, so I do not regret spending my time watching the film. All in all - trashily epic. I guess this is one of those films Aamir Khan never talks about.
"Why should I? I never made this film. Go watch Lagaan now."

Monday, 23 July 2012

Rocket Singh: Salesman of the Year

Directed by: Shimit Amin
Starring: Ranbir Kapoor, Prem Chopra, D. Santosh, Gauhar Khan, Naveen Kaushik
Released: 2009
Verdict: destroy every copy – horrible – bad – whatever – flawed but enjoyable - good – great – amazing
Say what you will I´m pretty much convinced Ranbir Kapoor is the future superstar of Bollywood. And that a superstar with great acting skills and killer charisma, as well as a good script sense. Rocket Singh is not a blockbuster hit film material, yet it doesn´t take away the fact it is an interesting an unusual film, especially if you realize it is mainstream Bollywood.

Harpreet Singh Bedi, a fresh graduate, is full of optimism as he decides to start a career as a salesman. He believes he´s got what it takes. He knows how to talk to people, he knows how to convince them, he has enough of tact and diplomacy. And he is not affraid of working hard. What he does lack though is ruthlessness and most importantly the ability to adjust to the world of sales, where corruption and bribes are a daily bread for everyone in the business. Except him. Brought up by a righteous Prem Chopra, the Sikh Harpreet refuses to fall prey to the tricks and although it earns him more trouble than anything he refuses to play according to the accustomed rules. He is determined not to let go of his purity of conscience.

Finally after taking a lot of humiliation and other crap he decides to create his own company – Rocket Sales Corporation. One by one, several other employers are convinced to join hands with him and they create a truly unique bunch of people – and all including a chaaiwalla have an equal partnership. And their company doesn´t take bribes. And they always solve everything quickly and without delays, charging nothing extra. In other words Harpreet manages to run a flawless, almost utopian company – and all that in absolute secrecy. But nothing lasts forever and eventually people who have been loosing clients to the mysterious Rocket corporation find out the truth....

As a Ranbir Kapoor fan I feel proud of the boy for choosing such a film. And he performs with complete dedication. He is one of the few who do not let their off-screen image and persona meddle with his work and as a result he becomes one with the character. Indeed, I would say that during the five years he´s been in the industry he has shown a great versatility, surpassing even older and more experienced actors. Others fit their roles perfectly as well, and all together create a convincing picture of human nature. What needs to be appreciated is that even though Ranbir Kapoor is clearly the only star in the movie, no character is wasted.

The film is (apart from being an unashamed turban porn) a surprisingly realistic take on office life and relationships between bosses and employees. In a way it is one of the „follow your dream“ stories, but without melodrama and seen without pink glasses, and the troubles go beyond disapproving parents and nasty evil characters. Of course the very end is happily ever after one, but that is all. Entertaining is not the word to use here. The film is slow, especially in the first part before everything starts falling into place. I can imagine why the film did not really click at the box office, it doesn´t make for an exciting cinema watch, but it is perfect if you want to indulge in some thinking and musings about possibilities as you are clutching a cup of tea, resting on your sofa.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Dangerous Ishq

Direction: Vikram Bhatt
Starring: Karishma Kapoor, Jimmy Shergil, Rajneesh Duggal, Divya Dutta, Gracy Singh
Released: 2012
Verdict: destroy every copy – horrible – bad – whatever – flawed but enjoyable - good – great – amazing

I had severe reservations right from the moment I´ve heard the atrocious Hinglish title for the first time, but for the sake of Karishma Kapoor, whom I don´t see among the greatest of the great actresses, but still love her well enough for the intensity and experience she gave me with Zubeidaa and Fiza. And it was for her sake again that I managed to sit through the film, that turned out to be the two possibly longest hours of my life. I guess that seals her presence in the list of my favourites forever.

Karishma, looking stunning and not a day over twenty something (and better than many younger actresses), plays a supermodel Sanjana, whose really unattractive and absolutely non-leading-hero-material-ish boyfriend just got kidnapped, and since true love knows no bounds Sanjana plunges into the whirphool of thrilling situations that are not at all exciting, dangerous stunts and special effects that look like from a 90s gameboy, and enthralling past lives memories that are badly edited and badly placed. There is no shortage of some hardcore magic either – which however ultimately moves the film to a level of bad fairytales for adult people. On her search for her lover Sanjana starts seeing visions from her past life, and as it turns out few regression sessions later, her love life has always been totally screwed up by somebody else in all her births. Ultimately she finds out that once upon a time she refused a rich guy obsessed with her, and through some divine powers and abracadabra the whole ever repeating cycle of her lover (and herself) dying a violent death thanks to the refused guy started. Once she discovers the person in this birth, she finally can put an end to it.
Obesessed with me for centuries? I am flattered!
What needs to be appreciated is that whilst dealing with the ever-popular reincarnation theme, the film´s premise and the way the past lives are explored is definitely innovative. At the same time, sadly, none of them is presented well enough for us to connect with them – or the characters. All the timelines had great potential, and although the 16th century one is generally agreed upon as being the „best one“ shown, I must say I was only really touched by the 1947 one, showing Karishma as a Rajastani girl on her fearful and futile flight from the awaiting death. Alas, it was criminally short, and all too soon I was thrown back into the dullest timeline of all – the present time one, which not only bored with the lack of good cinematography and cheap special effects, it also has Karishma being completely dull and without that intensity one associates her with. She seemed extremely half-hearted throughout. It doesn´t help that in many scenes she literally has nothing to do.
A temple? I thought it was a pizza man!
Jimmy Shergil and Divya Dutta did well, and I even dare say Divya was the show stealer in all the scenes she had. Others are not really worth a mention. The casting of the male characters was mostly wrong. I have already mentioned the main male lead being completely unfit for the part, not only because I personally find him difficult to look at, but because he and Karishma share zero chemistry. Dangerous Ishq was promoted as a female centric movie, but it is far from being one. If anything it had a great potential to be an epic love story (if everything from script to direction was handled better), but to feel a love story and root for a couple throughout a movie you need to feel their connection, and here there is nothing but more dull dialogues. It was interesting to catch a glimpse of once so promising Gracy Singh as Krishna´s worshipper Meera, a character shown a bit loony really, but not without a certain charm.
And a girly complaint of mine – considering she was a supermodel, I expected to see some seriously awesome outfits, however on the costume level the film seemed terribly cheap. Music was good, very good actually, and could work as an album, it doesn´t seem appropriate for the movie though and the director let go of an opportunity to create some memorable picturizations, that possibly might have made us see some real feelings between the leading couple after all. The film was also released in 3D, something completely unnecessary and not bringing any betterment to the final product. I can´t see the point of it at all.

Dangerous Ishq remains a film of possibilities untaken, and would work better as a TV miniseries than a big screen picture. A movie about past life regression, that actually gave me a feeling that not the character, but I am in the past, lost somewhere at the point where Bollywood heroines were made to stand around screaming their boyfriend´s name while those fought valiantly against the villains.
Do not waste YOUR time with this film unless you love Karishma Kapoor.