Friday, 31 October 2014

Ek Villain

Directed by: Mohit Suri
Starring: Siddhart Malhotra, Shraddha Kapoor, Riteish Deshmukh
Released: 2014
My rating: destroy every copy – horrible – bad – whatever – flawed but enjoyable - good – great – amazing

Unlike others I was not smitten with Mohit Suri´s “Aashiqui 2”, mostly because the lead characters were dumbasses. And while the level of dumbassness is not reached, Ek Villain still makes you raise your eyebrows quite a few times. (Unofficial) remake of a Korean movie I Saw the Devil (which Mohit Suri with a “How to Bollywood” handbook in hand switfly denied), that has received much praise from all sides, either did not stay true to the original, or the original itself needed an improvement on logic. Still, there was something about the story, which in spite of all, made it work.

The premise is rather simple: once upon a time a cold-blooded murderer himself, Guru fell in love and married the spunky Aisha and they were happy. But then Aisha is brutally murdered and Guru sets his mind on revenge. But who is the killer? Why did he do it? Was it a contract, a vengeance from the past? Or was Aisha simply on the wrong place in the wrong time that day? There is no mystery at all to the film, which took me by surprise as I had expected lots of twists and turns, while in fact everything is neatly lined up from the very beginning. The responsibility of a task to engage the viewer thus lies with the storytelling, which is done by numerous use of flashbacks. The screentime is quite evenly distributed among “then” and “now”, but it is never difficult to understand in which time period we are at a given moment.

The problematic bits of the film are the ones that make little to no sense. For example why in the world would a girl want to hire a man she knows nothing about (and who makes quite clear he is a ruthless killer) for one of her funny plots (why does she need to hire anyone for that matter since there seems to be no job actually)? Why does the police not arrest a man who they know is a murderer, and instead let him kill innocent women (WTF)? Why is not the police officer who risks the lives of civilians to pursue a stupid personal agenda still employed? What in the world is Aisha´s illness and how the heck does she get completely healthy after the doctors have given up on her?I could go on and on.

The reason why I liked the film in spite of all the stuff mentioned right above, is because it manages to set the mood well. Unlike most of Bollywood horrors, Ek Villain has considerable unsettling quotient, perhaps because the murderer kills with terrifying ease and clarity. The explanation for his behaviour is simple and effective. Riteish Deshmukh shines in this role like never before. His usually twinkling eyes and dorky cuteness made way to a dead gaze and expression which strangely mixes frustration and inner turmoil, even pain at times. The film belongs to him.

Siddhart Malhotra is presented in an image quite different from his previous two films, and much like in Hasee Toh Phasee he shows much promise. Sure, his face is so impossibly beautiful that it never bruises even after serious blows to it, neither it manages to be completely in agreement with his voice and situation, but the potential is slowly conquering the walls of inexperience. His character of Guru is not properly developed – a glimpse into his childhood may have been enough, but more of his criminal past should have been shown, the danger he represents more enhanced. After all, this is advertised as “a love story of a villain”, but Guru remains a conventional hero who had been wronged so let´s forgive him every crime he had commited. 

Shraddha Kapoor, a girl who is also as beautiful as a summer dream, got on my nerves for good 40 minutes. Why does Bollywood believe that a spunky, free thinking girl always needs to do silly things, talk loud and jump like a monkey all around? As the film progresses Aisha becomes bearable (and she is definitely better than what Shraddha did last year in Aashiqui 2). She is the weakest performance in the movie – even surpassed by Kamaal R. Khan in his (thank God) small role. Then again he plays a complete asshole so I guess he just slipped into his own routine.

Just long enough, moving in parts, silly in others, still more thrilling than majority of Bollywood thrillers, Ek Villain may be a less worthy (and less violent, which is actually a plus) copy of a Korean film, but among the 2014 films it stands reasonably strong.

Monday, 27 October 2014

Dulhan Hum Le Jayenge

Directed by: David Dhawan
Starring: Salman Khan, Karishma Kapoor, Paresh Rawal, Om Puri, Anupam Kher
Released: 2000
My rating: destroy every copy – horrible – bad – whatever – flawed but enjoyable - good – great – amazing

Often my readers accuse me of not being able to appreciate films which are meant to be „just fun“, films that are purposefully mindless, silly and unrealistic. They say I cannot enjoy anything that is not meaningful. And so I sat down and tried to think of a movie that was all that and I would have liked it. I did not have to think for long. A line up of such films exists and Dulhan Hum Le Jayenge (which at first confused me because the title was just too similar to Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge) is one of them. Coming out of David Dhawan´s workshop, it ranks among his better efforts, before he went into a long and fruitless period before being somehow revived by his (so far) latest outing of Main Tera Hero.

It is a story of Sapna (Karishma Kapoor), white-clad, long-haired, blue-eyed virginal niece of three rather eccentric uncles, who all make her their personal crusade by forcingly trying to shape her according to their own lifestyle. Thus the strong, wrestling sportsman tortures her with rigorous exercise, pious devotee insists on her spiritual development and the forever young disco lover just wants her to be a modern vixen. Naturally the poor girl wants nothing but to be herself, and so one day she secretly joins a group of tourists traveling to Switzerland. Among the travelers is also Raja (Salman Khan), already determined to make Sapna the Queen of his heart. But conquering her is the least of his troubles, since ultimately he will have to impress the uncles. All of them.

Judging by the wardrobe neither were sure of what the climate of Switzerland actually was like.
Now, you really cannot look for „meaning“ and „depth“ in this one, can you? But you can enjoy it immensely and I did. Perhaps because even the over the top performances seemed earnest, perhaps because it was cute and fluffy and funny without need to use profanities or lewd sex jokes. Maybe it was Johnny Lever dancing. Maybe I was simply in the right mood. Dulhan Hum Le Jayenge serves you comedy laced with youthful enthusiasm of the main leads and great combination of great supporting actors, and there are some hilariously choreographed (but back then highly cool) catchy songs (complete with puzzled foreign onlookers). Not all films that may claim to have the same hold my love, and I suppose many times I just go by instinct (and my, am I picky!). Some films just do not feel nice. This one does.

Unlike the horrendous Biwi No. 1, this film provides greatly for all Salman-Karishma shippers, among whom I count myself. They are one of the grossly underrated jodis. Neither of them is a stupendous actor, but they bring out the crazy best out of each other. They seem very well suited and there is cheekiness to them both which beautifully underlines their chemistry.

As usual my feminist side was not entirely happy with the movie, since there is lots and lots of men deciding for the girl in this film. Even the happy ending is ensured only thanks to Sapna´s grandfather. At few points it actually gets regressive (talking here about two scenes especially: when Sapna is immediately sexually attacked while thumbing a lift, and when Raja hits her when she is dancing with two horny men. Given both things were stupid of her, the whole thing played it on stereotype that INDIAN girls do not behave „like that“). Well, at least nobody makes a big deal out of Sapna´s change of image from baggy clothes and pigtails to sexy mini-skirts and fashionable hairdo.

So there you have it. That „pure fun“ film I like. Go and watch it. It might just be the right thing to brighten your afternoon.

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Bobby Jasoos

Directed by: Samar Shaikh
Starring: Vidya Balan, Ali Faizal, Supriya Pathak, Kiran Kumar
Released: 2014
My rating: destroy every copy – horrible – bad – whatever – flawed but enjoyable - good – great amazing

I had the best will to love Bobby Jasoos. After all, it was meant to be about one girl´s ambition. A funny, light-hearted venture starring the wonderful Vidya Balan, it was all wrapped in bright colours and promised to supply me with some sweet (and very much needed) entertainment. However even with me feeling very gracious, love never really happened. There is still lots to like about the picture.

Bilkis, called Bobby, is truly set on her dream of becoming a successful private detective, and nothing, not rejection from a detective company, not stern disapproval of her father, can discourage her. And when an opportunity comes her way, she grasps it. With enthusiasm. So much enthusiasm she actually shows why the detective company has rejected her – Bobby has no inkling about what to be a detective is about. She is supposed to find a young girl for an old man. And she does not even stop to ask him why. Naturally this comes to bite her later, which, however, I had anticipated from the very beginning. Bobby does learn her lesson, but since we are supposed to really root for her and unlike the rest of the world appreciate her intelligence and talent, the damage is done and there are dents in the character which actually made me agree with those who keep telling her she needs to learn first before plunging into something. It was really this shortcoming of the main character, combined with a very simplistic “investigation” without twists, that lessened the enjoyment for me,

Other than that Bobby Jasoos is a pleasant enough experience. It has vibrance of colours but does not go overboard with it, and the setting and the characters exclude charming warmth which at no point runs out. It is not funny enough to be a full blown comedy, but remain light-hearted from start to end. The film only has one purpose – to please. And it does just that. All the actors do a commendable job, and Vidya Balan in naturally their Queen. She, for much part, carries the story on her shoulders and proves yet again she is simply mega-talented. Not to mention super gorgeous. All her "covers" are done to perfection and if I did not know, I wouldn´t have recognized her in most of them (I decided to to question how is Bobby doing all that make up and so, because such a question is pointless in this movie). After disappointing borefest of Ghanchakkar and half-baked Shaadi Ke Side Effects, Bobby Jasoos gives Vidya her rightful screen space. I suppose that after Ishqiya and Kahaani the expectations of her movies have rocketed sky high and it is difficult to match them. In comparison this film pales nearly to insignificance, still it is a huge improvement from the last two Vidya´s outings.

Ali Faizal was a pleasant revelation for me. Handsome and with a spark, he matches Vidya and completes her performance with his comic timing. I certainly would not mind seeing lot more of him in years to come. The bit of the necessary Bollywood glitz is added to the product thanks to several songs, which are aptly used and display cute chemistry the two leads share.

Bobby Jasoos is worth a watch, and if you are in the right mood, you are bound to enjoy it with all its shortcomings. Try, if possible, to forget all you´ve seen from Vidya before, and few things can stop you from having a good time.