Rajeev Masand – movies that matter : from bollywood, hollywood and everywhere else

May 9, 2008

Jimmy more? No thanks!

Filed under: Our FIlms — Rajeev @ 3:54 pm

May 09, 2008

Cast: Mimoh Chakraborty, Zulfi Syed, Rahul Dev

Director: Raj N Sippy

To the next person who tells me what a great job I have watching movies throughout the week, I have only word to say: Jimmy. This week I spent close to three hours, trapped in the darkness, suffocating in my seat watching a film that reminded me why the eighties are very deservedly regarded the worst years of Hindi cinema.

Directed by Raj Sippy and starring Mimoh Chakraborty, son of 80s dancing star Mithun Chakraborty,Jimmy is a film that’s about 25 years too late. To describe the movie as formulaic and predictable is letting it off too easily. It’s the kind of film whose characters have names like Jaswinder Kumar, Rajeshwar Vyas, Ranveer Pushp and Manveer Kaushal.

It’s the kind of film that thinks ripped jeans and black figure-hugging ganjis are fashionable. It’s the kind of film whose hero addresses his girlfriend as jaanu.

It’s the kind of film where the heroine’s father gives the hero a ridiculous amount of money to clear a debt, and the hero turns it down saying he’s above charity, convincing the old man that his daughter’s made the right choice. It’s the kind of film whose idea of comedy is Shakti Kapoor playing a sardar police officer spouting double-meaning dialogues and scratching his bum.

It’s the kind of film where the hero lands one hard punch on the bad guy and the chap goes literally flying across the room. It’s the kind of film whose characters deliver one classic line after the other – Jab tak main aapka karz nahin chukata, meri har saans aapke paas girvi hai or then Maine teri aankhen padh li hain, tu kisi ka khoon nahin kar sakta, or how about this: Tu-ne yeh ek qatl nahin, do aur qatl bhi kiye hain. Tere pita ki aatma ka qatl aur teri maa ke vishwaas ka katl.

As you may have guessed from my diatribe, Jimmy is a film disconnected from reality, a film stuck in a time warp, a film that was probably made under a rock — how else could they not have realized that nothing about this film suggests it’s been made in the same era as wi-fi internet, gelato ice-cream and blackberry phones?

For your benefit, let me attempt now to put the film’s plot into words. Mimoh Chakraborty plays Jimmy, a hard-working boy doing double shifts so he can pay off his dead father’s pending loan. All’s going well for Jimmy, until he learns he’s got a tumor in his brain, which leaves him with less than a month to live. Agreeing to be the fall guy for a murder he didn’t commit, in exchange for enough money to repay his daddy’s debt, Jimmy’s sent off to the gallows.

But moments before the noose is tightened around his neck, Jimmy realizes he’s being manipulated in a completely fake scam, so next thing you know he’s broken out of prison and he’s on the run, determined to prove his innocence.

That’s just the central story, now add to this a half-dozen sub-plots including one surrounding a police officer and his mysterious relationship with the murder victim, a best friend who’ll move heaven and earth to save his buddy from the death sentence, the heroine’s father who seems to have promised his daughter’s hand to at least two different men, and that ridiculous love track between Jimmy and the film’s heroine, a Sonali Bendre-knock off, who keeps ramming her car into his.

Jimmy is a film you can’t take seriously, it’s a film that’s so intrinsically wrong on every level that all you can do is laugh at the sheer ridiculousness of its intention and execution. I’ve seen television shows on Doordarshan that are better produced than Jimmy, don’t even get me started on the film’s abysmal camerawork and eardrum-shattering background music.

I know what you’re thinking — what about Mimoh? Well, let’s just say he knows how to move, the boy sure can dance. But pray what excuse is offered for his unkempt appearance? How do you explain that messy hair, those tasteless clothes, that far-from-flattering physique? As for his acting, look at it this way, he can only get better!

In the stiffness department, Mimoh’s got competition from fellow co-actors Rahul Dev, Zulfi Syed and Vikas Kalantri, none of whom make any impression whatsoever. How many stars for Jimmy, do I hear you ask? Well, you’ve got to be joking. This film is strictly for those who enjoy some self-inflicted torture every now and then.

(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)

Ghost delivery

Filed under: Our FIlms — Rajeev @ 3:51 pm

May 09, 2008

Cast: Amitabh Bachchan, Aman Siddique, Shah Rukh Khan, Juhi Chawla

Director: Vivek Sharma

He sings and dances, arranges the furniture, and even puts the school’s lunchbox-raiding principal in place. Yes, that’s Bhoothnath for you, the friendly ghost played by Amitabh Bachchan, in director Vivek Sharma’s film by the same name.

After a failed attempt at scaring away little Banku and his family who have moved into his sprawling Goa bungalow, Bhoothnath becomes buddies with the precocious kid.

So far, not too many complaints. It’s silly and childish yes, but also very watchable. Problems arise somewhere beyond the half-way mark of Bhoothnath when this kids-friendly entertainer turns into something of a rona-dhona heavy Baghbaan rehash. You sink into your seat and cringe with embarrassment as our teary-eyed ghost goes into flashback mode and bores us with those sad stories of his neglectful son.

Despite its fairly basic plot and predictable screenplay, for the most part Bhoothnath works just fine as a children’s film. It is after all a formula that never fails when done even half right. Although it’s nothing you haven’t seen before, the adventures of Banku and Bhooth are enjoyable to watch largely because the chemistry between Bachchan and child actor Aman Siddique is so riveting.

So whether they’re pulling a gag on the school principal, or devouring “aloo parathas” that Banku’s mother is struggling to prepare, it’s this unlikely friendship between boy and ghost that is the film’s main draw.

And that’s why it hurts as hell when writer-director Vivek Sharma steers his ship in an entirely different direction as the film enters its third act. Melodramatic and needless, the track involving Bhoothnath‘s back-story is a cumbersome bore. Even Shah Rukh Khan and Juhi Chawla, who play Banku’s parents in the film, look embarrassed to be participating in such sentimental silliness.

For me Chhota Chetan and Mr India are the ultimate children’s films, at least to come out of India .Bhoothnath, sadly doesn’t compare to either. For one, both Chhota Chetan and Mr India were involving and engaging stories that had heart.

Bhoothnath, seen in its entirety, is a confused film at best. Sure it’s got its moments, but it’s hardly the kind of film you’ll remember years from now. The other reason Bhoothnath doesn’t come anywhere close to a film like Mr India is because it simply doesn’t push the envelope as far as special effects are concerned.

20 years after Mr India and the best Bhoothnath does is show us furniture flying around a room, Bachchan walking in and out of walls, a child’s arm elongating to ridiculous proportions, and some gimmicks involving dried leaves. Such a shame, one would have expected more!

Of the cast, Shah Rukh Khan in a special appearance looks uninspired and unhappy to be there, while the usually dependable Juhi Chawla tends to over-act for no reason.

Some genuinely funny moments are provided by Rajpal Yadav who plays the local drunk, but of course the film belongs to Bachchan and little fellow Aman Siddique who give the film its best moments.

Siddique is sharp and on-the-ball and he turns in a sincere performance, but if I were to pick the one single thing about Bhoothnath that’s superb, then that would be Amitabh Bachchan. He’s perfectly cast, he’s uninhibited as the scruffy, irritable ghost, and even in the film’s tedious bits he’s the only reason you stay in your seats.

I’m going with two out of five and an average rating for director Vivek Sharma’s Bhoothnath, it’s a half-good entertainer that’s saved to some extent by Amitabh Bachchan’s undeniable energy. Take your kids to the film, but make sure you don’t stay longer than intermission!

(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)

May 2, 2008

Suit up!

Filed under: Their Films — Rajeev @ 5:54 pm

May 2, 2008

Cast: Robert Downey Jr, Jeff Bridges, Gwyneth Paltrow

Director: Jon Favreau

Like me, even if you weren’t familiar with this Marvel Comics character before you went in to see the film, chances are, you’ll come out of Iron Man, suitably impressed. Robert Downey Jr plays Iron Man and his alter ego Tony Stark, the oversexed, Scotch-happy, weapons-manufacturer who’s abducted by terrorists in Afghanistan after showing off his latest deadly creation to the US military. Tossed into a cave by a band of terrorists who demand he build a giant weapon for them, Stark instead secretly begins work on a massive iron suit with some cool features which he uses to kick their asses and make his way out of there.

Once home, still scarred by the experience he just had, Stark decides his company should stop making weapons. Determined to do good, he begins working on a sophisticated version of the same super-suit, this time with even cooler features. Jeff Bridges plays Stark’s nemesis, the bald Obediah Stane, and Gwyneth Paltrow stars as Stark’s devoted assistant Pepper Potts.

Now the film’s got all your trademark superhero-movie elements like flashy action scenes and eye-popping special effects, but what really makes Iron Man more enjoyable than your average summer blockbuster is that Robert Downey Jr plays him as a character who’s got real character. He’s funny, he’s sarcastic, and he’s such an unlikely superhero. In fact, the biggest strength of this film is that the fantastic suit never overpowers the flawed guy who’s inside it.

I’m going to go with three out of five and a thumbs up for Iron Man, if all this talk of character bores you, and if all you’re looking for are some spectacular explosions and Transformers-style metal-on-metal action, you still won’t be disappointed. Iron Man will not let you down.

(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)

Boo hoo hoo…

Filed under: Our FIlms — Rajeev @ 4:00 pm

May 02, 2008

Cast: Dino Morea, Koena Mitra, Minnisha Lamba

Director: Ananth Narayan Mahadevan

Anamika is the worst kind of thriller film you’re likely to see; it’s the kind of thriller whose suspense you can predict the moment the film’s plot and characters have been set up.

Twenty minutes in and you know exactly who is hiding what secret. You can imagine then, how difficult it is sitting through the remaining two hours of this lousy film!

Faithful for the most part to the premise and structure of Hitchcock’s Rebecca, of which this film is a shameless rip-off, Anamika revolves around the newly married wife of a Rajasthani royal whose first wife was killed under mysterious circumstances not so long ago.

Constantly under pressure to step into the shoes of the first wife, and haunted by other people’s recollections of her predecessor, our protagonist finds her own marriage under threat as she becomes obsessed with unraveling the mystery behind the first wife’s death.

Directed rather indifferently by Ananth Narayan Mahadevan, the film flounders when it digresses from the original plot of Rebecca and comes up with its own ridiculous climatic twist. Indeed that twist is so obvious, a seven-year-old could sniff it from a distance.

Often even average films work because the characters drive the plot. Things turn out the way they do because the characters are who they are. Anamika might not have turned out this bad had the film’s cast performed their roles convincingly.

But Dino Morea simply doesn’t have the maturity required to play the husband who everyone’s suspicious of. He mutters his dialogues and has a vacant expression throughout, at best coming off as a model for those fancy designer suits he wears in the film.

Minnisha Lamba doesn’t do too badly as the new bride forced to confront those ugly truths, but saddled with such a one-dimensional role, there’s little she can achieve here.

But it’s Koena Mitra, cast as the housekeeper, who can’t stop glossing over the first wife’s virtues, who is the film’s final fatal flaw. To put it politely, acting is not her vocation.

Slower than a sixty-year-old on crutches, the screenplay of Anamika plods along laboriously, further slackened by Anu Malik’s ridiculous score, which includes such eardrum-splitting songs as Shagufta Diland Tera Saath, both recorded in his own distinct voice. If you’re looking for a tight, razor-sharp, edge-of-the-seat thriller, you’ve got the wrong film.

I’m going with one out of five for director Ananth Narayan Mahadevan’s Anamika, if you do decide to go see it, take a pillow to rest your head when you doze off midway.

(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)

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