Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Pichhurr Hall - Dhoom : 2

Sanjay Gadhvi is a good man. He made a good movie with a good story, good actors and good visual effects and good music and gave it a good name - Dhoom. Then the movie was released to a tumultous opening, partly due to nothing else on offer at that time being good enough. And suddenly India had awakened to the immense possibilities high-speed thrillers presented.

Hitherto the domain of Hollywood (Speed, Need for Speed, Fast and furious, Gone in 60 seconds, etc) or Far East cinema (countless pointless mindless movies with Asian casts set in China, Hongkong, Thailand, Japan, Phillipines etc), these chase-tales were suddenly the flavor of the month. Everyone and their granny pontificated that this is the future of Bollywood. Ergo, a sequel was proposed and lapped up faster than a hungry alsatian laps milk.

The cardinal rule for a sequel is that it must be bigger, grander and more stunning than the original to achieve any level of success. Otherwise, with no originality in the concept being the biggest handicap, it is bound to fail. It was this principle that led to the ditching of Jon Abraham. Jon who had played the role of the cool villain with elan had to be replaced by someone who could out-do him in all departments with change to spare. Be it acting cool, looking hot, setting the dance floor afire or making the ladies swoon, he had to do it all. These were not small shoes to step into.

And so it was quite fortunate for Sanjay that Hrithik Roshan was then riding high on the success of Koi Mil Gaya and was looking good for an encore in Krisshh. He looked good on all parameters. Taking him on was a no-brainer. And for Hrithik, this was a chance to do another role which plays to his strengths. His talent for making kids smile with various disguises and gravity-defying leaps across buildings was going to be on full display here. Add to that, the opportunity to show some groovy dance moves to reassert his position as the uncrowned king of dance in Indian movies, and Hrithik just couldn't have said no. A marriage made in Bollywood heaven.

Hrithik has indeed delivered to his promise. He has been helped by some radical chopping of the storyline to reduce the role of Abhishek Bachchan, reprising his role of ACP Jai Dixit, and provide ample footage to him. Dad Rakesh Roshan couldn't have done it any better. The only problem is, it reduced Abhishek to a bumbling idiot constantly chasing an almost-super-man. Dhoom was a success because Abhishek matched Jon in the cool quotient. Here, he is decidedly inferior. It is this imbalance that is at the core of why Dhoom:2 is not making anywhere as much as dhoom as the original movie.

Now a seriously cool hero, he can surely not be called a villain can he?, like Hrithik needs a heroine as well. And the ice maiden herself was roped in. There have been talks aplenty of their so called chemistry together. But I did not see any trace of any such thing throughout the movie. From their first encounter to their last scene together, the mismatch was obvious. Hrithik had clearly given his character much thought and knew exactly what he wanted to do in each frame that he was part of. On the other hand, Ash, as Sunehri, just could not cope up. When she is face to face with him for the first time, she comes across as someone who was trying way too hard to impress him that she looked like a rank bad newcomer to the industry.

And things didnt improve much as the story progressed. Her overt display of histrionics was consistenly overboard. One wonders if she was a very late addition to the cast and had not been given any time to acclimatise herself and understand what her character was supposed to do. A major part of the blame in this case must lie with director Sanjay Gadhvi himself since he should have spotted this problem as soon it occurred.

Uday Chopra, as Ali, the tapori from Nagpada, excels in his role of a day dreaming cop while Bipasha Basu, roped in to provide even more glamour, managed to surprise me with her clean and yet highly stylish impression of Shonali Bose, the ace markswoman who was Jai's college time crush. Her other role, as Monali, Shonali's twin sis, is a trifle loud though and seemed quite unnecessary. Why must Bollywood directors insist on having romantic interests for every hero is beyond me.

The movie is also beset with glaring oversights and mistakes. To start with, while Aryan (Hrithik Roshan) is portrayed as a master criminal who can never be caught, when Sunehri finally betrays Jai and runs away with Aryan, Jai is able to find them almost immediately.

Another quite inexplicable angle introduced in the story is Jai's wife's (Rimi in a guest appearance this time) taunting that it is impossible for him to have a fling since no girl would ever accept his proposal. A full 6-7 minutes are wasted while Jai, his wife and Ali exchange words until the sequence ends with Jai claiming that he can have an affair anytime he wants. With such a premise, one would expect to see the story develop along the lines of Jai either having an affair to prove himself right or his wife misunderstanding his meeting some girl as his attempt to have an affair. Nothing of the sort happens, and this sub plot is left hanging in mid-air without any resolution. A clear example of shoddy editing, if there was any.

A sequel most not deviate from the core theme of the movie, else it ceases to be a sequel and assumes a life of its own, for good or bad. An excellent example is the Fast & Furious series. While the storylines in all three movies are different in a lot of ways, the fundamental concept, the hero racing the bad guy and winning eventually, remains constant. This concept has been sent for a toss in Dhoom:2. There is just one brief bike chase in the movie and it fails to raise adrenalin levels at all. This one fact is enough to mark a big blot in the Dhoom:2 copybook.

In all, this movie fails to live up to the hype and expectations and certainly loses a lot of the charisma of the original in its attempt to do things better. Having said that, this movie is still quite a good effort and must be seen for the mesmerising Hrithik Roshan, if nothing else.

This is a Hrithik movie, no two thoughts about that. He rules the screen in this one. Not for a moment does Abhishek look like he can overshadow Hrithik. Right from the stunning opening sequence on a train in the Namibian desert to the many spectacular stunts that he pulls off as the story chugs along, Hrithik is sure to leave his fans happy and crying for more.

Dhoom:3 is rumored to have Shahrukh Khan onboard and he is bound to bring his own interpretation of whatever character he plays, and it is very likely to be that of the villain since there is no reason for Jai's character to be dropped, but the makers of the movie would not be ill-advised to bring Hrithik back for another stint. Whether Shahrukh likes that idea or not is another matter altogether.

And, yes, I miss Tata Young. Sanjay, please bring her back for the next one. Please.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

back home

As quite a few of my blog readers must be aware by now, I was in the United Kingdom for the past 5 months. However, a lucky break which came about partially due to Diwali and partially due to my absolute refusal to work anymore, has resulted in my getting to make a short rejuvenating trip back home to India.

And so it was that I boarded the Virgin Atlantic flight to Mumbai.
Aside: How can it still be a virgin after I rode it on my way out to the UK?

Ok bad one. Couldnt resist it. Anyway, all was fine until the plane had landed safely at Chhatrapati Shahuji Maharaj International Airport Mumbai. I mean, the flight itself was the usual boring bit, hot stewardesses, the mandatory gay steward, the choice of red and white wine and very small helpings of food, nothing more.Even when I was accosted by a chap before the customer counter who profferred to take me through customs without any checking for 20 pounds, I was not bothered too much. I mean, India is a poor country and this is obviously a fast track service designed with the time conscious traveller in mind.

Corruption, you say? What are you talking about, you non-understanding moron. All these agents had official ID tags affixed proudly to their chests. Corruption, indeed. Humphh. Though I did not have anything that customs would anyway have been bothered about is something that skipped the attention of this particular chap despite being reminded about the same about six times is probably the only sore point. He was probably new and was on on the job training I believe. He will learn enough to take in such nuances into account in future, worry you not.

Anyway, we are getting distracted. Yes, it was only when I stepped out of the ridiculously air conditioned airport terminal onto the waiting area and was met by a searing gust of hot air, a sea of humanity with silly looking placards, a feral roar emanating from their throats and an overpowering stench of indescribable quality, all in that precise order, that I realised what I had been missing sorely in these past five months.

The awareness drive was not yet over. Used as I am to spending more than a pound for my morning coffee at Cambridge railway station enroute to Norwich, I was jolted back when four beggars asked me to give them just one angrez coin to them. That coin is worth enough money to feed one of them for 2 whole days is a realisation that made me regret having those now-seemingly-ludicrously expensive coffees.And to top it all, once my taxi hit the city roads, the merry way in which people cut lanes to reach nowhere, the amount of horn blaring, the sheer number of cars and people on the roads, brought it all rushing back to me. This, nothing but this, was my India. My home.

Vande Mataram.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

The Mohinder Amarnath effect

This is the nth attempt to kick some life into the long comatose and by now certainly moribund limbs of this non existent blog of mine so please bear with me for a quick cocking of the snook at the detractors of this blog.

Ah, now that is done, let us get on with the rather important and serious business of putting down my own thoughts and ideas into the hallowed portals of this online repository. In short, lets blog !Preliminaries taken care of, I would like to remind my ever so loyal readers that this blog is merely a reflection of my thoughts expressed at that particular moment in time and is in no way indicative of my general opinion about any matter, my socio-economic bent of mind or my political leanings.

Having said that, it also does not portend to be a barometer of the general mood that I am in at the moment of putting thoughts to a post since there are myriad different factors that color my initial perception and their subsequent interpretation on my blog.Lest you fail to note that this blog is a whimsical flight of fancy for my over verbose mind, let me point you, o beloved and much loved reader, towards various past entries on this blog, made at random intervals with no regards to frequency or keeping the readers hooked, that are clear and irrevocable items of proof that this blog is indeed, only slightly more than a decidedly prejudiced and extremely biased take on life and its ever so many silly little inanities.

And even though I couldn't care less, in true television soap and good autobiographical movie tradition, this blog is not a reproduction of anything that remotely approaches reality in any form anywhere in this cosmos. Any resemblance to any living being, publication, blog or website is not co-incidental but a direct attempt by the such identified entity to plagiarise what is a most highly prized intellectual property and is a vile indicator of how far plagiarism has spread its dirty tentacles of imperialism. Any hints, comments, accusations or allegations that this blog is, in fact, the plagiarist in question, shall be summarily dealt with and prosecuted, if necessary. Beware of Dogs.

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