Sunday, April 11, 2010

Film Review: Prince

This Prince ain't charming

Director: Kookie Gulati
Starring: Vivek Oberoi, Aruna Shields, Nandana Sen, Sanjay Kapoor, Neeru Bajwa
Rating: **

Increasingly, Bollywood is making showcase films that aim to push the envelope where action sequences, thrills, and grandeur go. We saw it recently in Blue where money was endlessly spent to ensure that audiences have a never-seen-before experience. The film ended up being one of last year's most forgettable, big-budget disasters. With Prince again, the makers have gone to great lengths to duplicate Hollywood and come up with the kind of hi-tech action thriller that the West makes dime a dozen.

What is predictable here is that the film aims to impress with its slickness and spectacles, while its writing is woefully sub par. Similarly, the dialogues - which should have been crisp and smart for a film of this sort -- are inane and silly. On one occasion, someone tells Sanjay Kapoor, a CBI officer not to act smart and he retorts with a cocky, "I am smart!' That's the only line I remember, the rest of them are either listless or plain bad.

The film begins with Prince (Vivek Oberoi) waking up and finding that he has lost his memory. Different people try to mis-lead him about his real identity. He also meets three different women - each of whom claims to be his girlfriend, Maya. The first half has Prince struggling to find out who he is, even as various people try to chase him down. These parts are frustrating, because the screenplay and characters do not hook you enough.

The ambition in scale is obvious, but with so much of computer generated images and gadgetry, it turns far-fetched and the sets too are uncomfortably larger-than-life. The action, with Vivek jumping off skycrapers using para shoots at will, or flying with his mobike across mountains evading a thousand bullets... all of this seems too unreal for you to connect with the film. For the longest time, you get the feeling of watching a video game, where anything and everything is possible.

Vivek is not a superhero in the film, so the suspension of disbelief that is possible in a film like Krrish does not happen here. Also, truth be told, films that aim to be all about style and action, need loades of star charisma and attitude to work. Prince is low on star appeal, among other things. Vivek is no Hrithik Roshan as we know.

The second half gets much better, as the various pieces of the puzzle start to fall in place. It's not that there's nothing in the story. The idea of a chip destroying memories is an interesting one, and in the hands of a more able director and writer, it might just have made for a riveting watch. But as it stands, the film has nothing besides its high-budget look going for it.

This is the biggest film that Vivek Oberoi has starred in, but it's not necessarily a great role. So a grand comeback for this Prince-in-waiting can be ruled out.


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