Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Review: Apne

Deol Jeopardy

Director: Anil Sharma
*ing: Dharmendra, Sunny Doel, Bobby Doel, Shilpa Shetty, Katrina Kaif, Kirron Kher

We all know the favourite adage of the Doels – blood is thicker than water- but wonder why they had to take it literally and turn it into a blood oozing film like this to prove it?!Really, this film goes into very unexpected territory in the second half, making it almost unrecognizable.
Of course, this is not to say that it does not invoke the Punjabi spirit. It does. How can it not, when the whole film is set in Chandigarh, every character is a Punjabi (including the choice of the comedian who they’ve picked up from a hit television show), Shilpa Shetty gyrates to a Punjabi pop song which plays on endlessly and the only food they talk about are pinnias!

Yet, surprisingly, this is not a very indulgent, family film. In that sense, it’s miles away from the likes of sweet meat shops like Hum Aapke Hain Kaun. This is shockingly low fat. Baldev Singh Chaudhary (Dharmendra) is a cynical boxing coach, who cannot get over the ignominious manner in which he was banned from the game as a player. He wants to make a world champion out of his elder son, Angad (Sunny Doel), whom he painstakingly trains for years. But family circumstances force Angad to leave boxing and take up a more practical vocation. His father sees this as an act of betrayal and refuses to forgive him. Just when he’s feeling down and out, his media baron friend brings a proposal of a world boxing championship. Since none of his apna sons can help him win back his honour, he decides to train one of his ‘other’ students, Arjun (Aryan Vaid). But he turns out to be an opportunist who prefers a foreign coach (trust them to call him Mr Whatmore from Australia!).

So in true Million Dollar Baby mode, Baldev Singh is left high and dry and vents out his anger. However, it works out well, as his younger son, Karan (Bobby Doel) miraculously gets cured of his shoulder disability. Now, Baldev has his 'apna khoon' to take his revenge on the world that shunned him.
So far, so good. The second half resembles a reality boxing competition and gets really tedious to watch after a point. The entire action shifts to one single boxing ring and I personally saw no fun in watching a jaded Bobby taking on contestant after another, hitting punches all around. In fact, this is one of the actor’s worst performances. Don’t know if he’s doping or was sulking about not being paid in his home production but I thought he was sleepwalking here.
Of course, how can ‘veerji’ Sunny Doel not get a chance to wield his dhai kilo ka haath? What would his fans in Bhatinda think? So he too enters the ring to take his brother’s badla and has his fill with punches. In the end, I cannot quite summarize the experience of watching this never ending boxing competition, except that the kid in front of me kept asking his parents after every round, ‘ab toh film khatam ho gayee na!?’ (I hope it’s over now!)
But no such luck, because Katrina Kaif is a medical student and director Anil Sharma decides she too should have something meaningful to do.So after handling Bobby’s paralasis, she’s given his liver implant to work on.
The only saving grace in this tiresome film is Dharmendra’s performance and he truly delivers. In fact, the film’s first half is watchable and I must confess that for a minute, I did think of a three star rating. But this has a disaster of a second half, which not many families will patronize. Even a sports film should have other interesting elements besides its central track, a la Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikander. Sadly, this one takes up a theme that no one’s really bothered about. I mean, how many people would consider boxing something worth laying one’s life for? The only smart thing I found was that the international boxers weren't made to spout Hindi dialogues with their firang accents. The makers have merely opted for Hindi subtitles. That’s the way it should be.
This may not be Himesh Reshamiyya’s apna film but he’s not given it step motherly treatment either. Some of its tracks are good and thankfully do not stick out like a sore thumb. Except maybe two of Bobby’s songs, where he’s anyway in a daze.
As for queen bee Shilpa Shetty, she’s still in her Big Brother stupor and acts and sounds worse than Aishwarya Rai at her fakest! By comparison, Katrina Kaif (Bobby’s love interest) is far more natural. Really, she’s got the cutest smile I know of since Manisha Koirala. Sunny Doel is his usual dashing self.
All in all, not terribly bad, if you happen to be a fan of boxing. To the others, I’d recommend it only for Dharmendra’s wonderful, heartfelt performance. But really, the Doels would have been better off remaking Chupke Chupke.
Stars: **


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