Monday, October 19, 2009

Movie Review: Blue

Starring: Akshay Kumar, Sanjay Dutt, Zayed Khan, Lara Dutta, Rahul Dev and Katrina Kaif (guest appearance)
Directed by: Anthony D’ Souza
Stars: **Add Image

See Blue and you’ll know how the film is symptomatic of what Hindi films suffer from today. High on ornamental value and low on substance, one has to rue how obscene amount of money gets spent on a film that no one would miss anything even if it hadn’t been made.

Yes, the film has superb production values and is truly international in its look. But beyond that, it’s literally water going down the drain. Blue turns out to be a very forgettable film, though it’s clear the makers have moved heaven and earth to make it an unforgettable one.
Like an indulgent parent who stuffs too many fancy gifts into his spoiled kid’s hands, the producer here brings everything that money can buy for his debutant director, Anthony D’Souza. This has ensured some novelty and first time attractions of course. For starters, this is truly the first underwater thriller that Bollywood has attempted. And to make it convincingly, the makers have spent lavishly on international technicians and all kinds of gorgeous locations.

Then there’s the Kylie Minogue item number for which the makers paid a bomb – the million dollar question is how many in the audience even recogonise her! Also, there’s no end to the number of cars that explode mid-air, bikes that burn or bullets that burst like bombs.

Aarav (Akshay Kumar) is a dashing young man, who owns a Fishery in the Bahamas. Sagar (Sanjay Dutt) works for him, and is also his confidant. Sagar’s life revolves around his girl friend Mona (Lara Dutta) and biker brother, Sam (Zayed Khan). The latter gets into trouble with a goon (Rahul Dev) who demands huge amounts of money to be returned back to him. Since Sam’s life is under threat, he joins his brother and Aarav in the Bahamas. Aarav has his sights set on a treasure that is hidden in a ship that lies underwater. Sagar is not willing to venture into the deep ocean for this purpose, but circumstances force all three of them to go there eventually.

The film is sleek and polished. The action sequences are well-shot and D’Souza goes about his business with a certain flair and style. There are also some funny punch lines at the start (thankfully understated) that serve the film well. The marine life and locations around Bahamas are breathtakingly captured. All this would have amounted to something if the makers would have concentrated half as much on a script, which ends up being the only absent entity in this extravagantly mounted film.

For almost close to one hour, the movie is nothing but a series of highlights ( the Kylie Minogue club number, motorbike race, the sensuous Dil Gustakh Hai number, Katrina Kaif’s entry and so on). D’Souza is so consumed with shooting pulsating action sequences and adding style to every frame, that he would have been happy to do away with a plot if he could.

Most of the film is about Dev chasing down Zayed Khan and it gets frustrating after point because the whole conflict, if one can call it that, is pretty senseless. Rahul Dev just lands up everywhere, shoots bullets at will…all leading to a suspense that most can see coming from a mile.

The water adventure is only in the last 25-30 minutes, where the three men get into the ocean. But with such a lame storyline and no feeling of connect with these characters, all you do as an audience is view their action with detached interest.
The film is quite short at one hour and fifty minutes, but in spite of it, tests your patience.
The performances are decent. Akshay Kumar seems to have a sense for everything (dressing, women, action), except a sense for scripts. Sanjay Dutt has put on tons of weight and looks weary for an action thriller of this kind. Zayed Khan plays the expected cool dude with an attitude. Lara Dutta is attractive, but once again reveals how poor an actress she is. Katrina Kaif shines in a sharp 12 minute cameo.

The music by A R Rahman is a mixed bag. The title track and Dil Gustakh Hai is a lovely composition, and very aesthetically picturised.Ultimately, though, Blue with the kind of resources at hand, could have been a truly memorable adventure film only if someone would have cared to come up with a script. The way it stands, Blue’s distributors might just be in the red.
-Sandhya Iyer

Acid Factory review

Sanjay Gupta manufactors....

Director: Suparn VermaStarring: Fardeen Khan, Irrfan Khan, Manoj Bajpai, Dia Mirza, Dino Morea, Danny Denzongpa and Aftab Shivdasani
Rating: **

Acid Factory brings with it a sense of ennui from the very first scene of the film. It is in the same, predictable vein of all the Sanjay Gupta films one has been subjected to so far. Exploding cars, outlaws, guns, violence, dim yellow lighting, pole dancers -- all reminiscent of everything one has seen before. In many ways, Acid Factory is a low budget Kaante.Yet, the concept isn't bad and could have been a riveting watch had it been treated like a psychological thriller, but both journalist-turned-director Supern Verma (Ek Khiladi, Ek Haseena) and Sanjay Gupta clearly are not interested in adding the least bit of depth to the proceedings. There's no back story to any character, their motivations are unclear, so there's an emotional disconnect you feel all along.

The film is pegged as a smart, fast-paced thriller. So when it begins, you have all its main characters (Dino, Danny, Aftab, Fardeen and Manoj) trapped inside an acid factory. There has been a gas leakage, resulting in all of them suffering from a temporary memory loss. None of them remember how they came inside or who they are. Each one is wary of the other, not knowing whom to trust.
Meanwhile, their boss (Irrfan Khan) is on a mission to collect a hefty ransom from one of the characters' wife (Kareeb actress and Bajpai's wife Neha makes a lovely appearance in a brief role, after years of hibernation). He is unaware of the leakage or the memory loss and keeps calling at the factory to inquire about girlfriend Max (Dia Mirza) who has not recovered from the impact of the explosion yet. At first, you wonder why the main door is locked and if they all have a common enemy. But as the film progresses you realise that these are really two warring groups with none of them knowing which side they are fighting on, due to the memory loss. Then the question is, why is the factory door locked in the first place?
There are many such questions popping up in your mind. Fardeen Khan, who is an undercover cop, gets trapped too. It's hard to believe he would give his senior officers absolutely no idea about his whereabouts. But since the film moves at a reasonably good pace, it doesn't give you much time to think and that is what one fathoms both Gupta and Verma were counting on.

Suparn Verma opts for a screenplay where the action moves back and forth in time. Sadly, the flashback scenes are extremely tame and don't add anything to the central drama or suspense. Also, since you don't know anything about the characters till the very end, you are quite simply not invested in them to care about what happens to their lives. The film could have been a smart thriller, if only the makers had concentrated less on the stylish action sequences and more on the characters. The tension does not build up even after Dia Mirza is introduced. Her tough woman act looks forced most of the time.

The only two characters who make their presence felt are Fardeen Khan and Irrfan Khan. The latter, by virtue of being such a superior actor, makes all his scenes interesting, something that cannot be said about the rest of the cast. Dino Morea in particular is quite poor.

Unlike many films one has seen this year where the concept itself was a dud, here one must concede that Supern Verma had something interesting to work with. He keeps it mildly engaging at times, but for most part, this is a very unsatisfying watch because the audience is not given anything to invest in the film.
-Sandhya Iyer

'It would be safe to have very high expectations from 3 Idiots'

Boman Irani talks about his character in 3 Idiots and how he’s excited about how the film has turned out. The actor also has two other interesting films coming up, Shyam Benegal’s Abbaji and a comic caper Fruit & Nut

It’s a rare actor whose personality and charm shines through all his characters, and yet, each of these roles remain so distinct and memorable. From Let’s Talk to Khosla Ka Ghosla, from Munnabhai MBBS to Lage Raho…from 99 to Little Zizou, Boman Irani in a short span has essayed a whole array of wonderful characters, making him quite easily one of the most interesting actors of this generation.

His next big one is 3 Idiots with Raj Kumar Hirani, who introduced him with Munnabhai MBBS in a role that has gone on to attain a cult status. Their second venture, Lage Raho Munnabhai was even more successful. Now, the actor is super excited about 3 Idiots, where he plays a mean-spirited professor to Aamir Khan, Madhavan and Sharman Joshi.The film as one is aware is inspired from Chetan Bhagat’s Five Point Someone and the point of reference for Boman’s role is the character of Cherian from the book. “We’ve remodeled it. I’m called Veeru Sahasrabuddhe in the film, also referred to as ‘virus’. I’m thrilled with the way the film has shaped up. Raju has done it again. It’s turned out to be a wonderful film,” he says.

But considering how monstrously successful Hirani’s previous two ventures have been, 3 Idiots would have to live up to a lot of expectations. “Raju is successful each time, because he strives for excellence. It’s a touching, fun film. It would be safe to say that people can have a lot of expectations from 3 Idiots,” says the actor.
Even though Boman was a villain of sorts in both the Munnabhai films, he was also strangely likeable for his quirks. How different will his character in 3 Idiots be? “He’s the meanest of them all in this film. Lucky Singh in Lage Raho… looked like a teddy bear by the end of it. In 3 Idiots, he’s plain nasty. You don’t want to be anywhere near him. The guy is full of ego, full of himself. He’s painful, with no sense of humour…very unfeeling.”

And yet, the character is not without other interesting shades. “He wants his students to excel…and do well in life. As long as there is a chink in his armour, you know there is hope. You also feel bad for the guy, thinking how he has so completely lost the plot of humanity,” he observes succintly.
3 Idiots is Boman’s pet film presently, but he’s also very excited about his Shyam Benegal film, Abbaji, that is to be screened on October 18 at a London film fest soon. The film recounts the story of a father who takes leave from his work to find a bridegroom for his daughter. “It’s my first film in the lead,” says Boman, adding, “It’s a very charming and moving film.” The film is set to release in February next year.
The other film that is coming up for Boman is Fruit & Nut, which he describes as a “completely bizarre, mad-cap comedy”He plays a character called Harry Holkar who imagines himself to be an ex maharaja and wants to reclaim his city. “He’s a harmless fool. It’s a very unpretentious, crazy, comic caper,” the actor tells us.Much like a magician who pulls rabbits out of his hat, Boman comes closest among today’s actors to surprise you with his ability to come up with delightfully original performances each time. Hence, one can safely hope that all of Boman’s three films will be a treat for his fans.

-Sandhya Iyer