Banking on ‘Bank Chor’ can seriously test your patience

It’s fun to watch movies based on a heist, a bank robbery or simply the Chor-Police theme, isn't it?. They give adrenaline rush, the sudden twists of fate and drama make for good edge of the seat thrill; and the action that entails is certainly what movie making is meant for. Films like 'The Bank Job', Flypaper, Inside Man, Heat,  Mad Money, Happy New Year, Dhoom series, Aankhen have been successful in giving us the sinister plans and preparation behind a crime of this nature. Bank Chor is unfortunately a misfire. A comedy that is pointless and also not funny at all.

Three young men are out to rob a bank but it turns out that money was not the only thing at stake here. Also a twist in the end that cannot be revealed, makes this film fall partly into the category of a thriller too. Sadly the viewer is neither amused nor thrilled here. 

The first half of the film is so weak in its writing that for good 30 minutes into the movie, you never understand what's on the mind of the story writer and the characters. The narrative matches the intelligence quotient of the detective Tv shows meant for little kids that I stumble upon while surfing Tv. 

The characters  Champak ( Riteish Deshmukh ), genda and Gulab are mostly dumb throughout the film and mumbling dialogues that are plain dimwitted. Also comes into the scene Amjad Khan ( Vivek Anand Oberoi ) who in the role of a dashing CBI officer is ready to shoot at his colleagues from the police department to prove his bravado on the crime scene  and crush the spirit of the criminals and not just their bones. A senior Police official delivers the most repeated dialogue of hindi cinema, – "Keep me updated Mr. Khan, Home Ministry se bahaut pressure hai mujh par". You would sulk.

In the middle of the heist where random bullets are being fired, you see Ritesh who is a hardcore mumbaikar and his partners in crime fighting over which is the better city, Delhi or Mumbai? It’s hilarious and you wouldn't stop laughing out aloud. And when you do that, you realize your neighbors are doing the same.

Some seriously bad jokes are also at work constantly to turn the film into a non-serious enterprise. A fresh breath of air in this otherwise suffocating film is actor Sahil Vaid who through this performance in the role of another 'Bankchor' adds layers into an otherwise monotonous act of robbery. He delivers poetry while shooting bullets.

Bura Jo Dekhan Main Chala, Bura Naa Milya Koye

Jo Munn Khoja Apnaa, To Mujhse Bura Naa Koye

Also, "Naye Bismil ho tum, Wakif nahin Rasme Shahadat se" being a lover of good language I could heave a sigh of relief in the process that just wouldn't end. This character from Faizabaad alongwith Genda, Champak and Gulab try to weave a sense of regional unity and empathy which was although not a requirement for this film.

What I really laughed at though was Ritesh Deshmukh and his co actors taking potshots at each other in the end and they roasting him fully.

It’s a mindless and pointless film that seriously challenges your patience.

1.5 Stars

A story of reincarnation with adolescent simplicity, puppy love & immature supervision thrown in.

Two men were in love with the same girl, in both lives, today and 800 years back. Separated by a lifetime, same things happen to them and they must meet the same end if one of them does not muster courage to alter it.

When Shiv and Saira meet in Budapest, they instantly connect. They spend 2 days and one night together. Just when we thought they were made for each other Saira asks him to get out of the house as she already has a boyfriend! She says, we hardly know each other while she had casually slept with him last night. It became obvious that the film is made to appeal to the young college going crowd that believes in ‘no strings being attached’.  There are young, good looking actors, lovely clothes, great European locations and beautifully shot landscapes with a bit of fun and romance thrown in here.

Sushant Singh Rajput as an actor has a quality that appeals to most people of all ages. In this film he exudes boyish charm, carries a romantic aura, and a vulnerability that was very  well capitalized on by film M S Dhoni. These qualities of his, work very well for this film as most of the first half is spent convincing the viewer how  adorable is the boy and girl on that celluloid. Producer turned director Dinesh Vijan probably forgot that the couple in the lead here is not Shahrukh Khan and Kajol who could carry the entire first half on their romantic histrionics. Actor Jim Sarbh makes an entry much to our relief just before the interval, cutting short the monotony of  this romance.

Jim Sarbh has been  getting rave reviews ever since he played a terrorist in film Neerja. In this film, as Zakir merchant aka Zac, he offers layered nuances of performance, uses his body language effectively to put across the character of a psychic lover who would kill to win. But in both his lives, his Hindi dialogues with a heavy American accent took away a lot of mystique from his character. Also the character was so dismally written that Zac becomes laughing stock in most parts while he had the potential to scorch the screen like in Neerja.  

I could draw parallel between Raabta and Rakesh Om Prakash Mehra’s Mirzya as the character of Sahiba is common to both and so is Saahiba’s confused love. The scenes shot by cinematographer Martin Priess  in the beautiful island for the past life track are breathtaking, especially the fight scenes between the tribe Murarka’s head Jilaan played by Sushant singh Rajput, Kriti and Sarbh. But that is not enough to keep the interest in the film. Also the character of the oldest man in the tribe played by Raj Kumar Rao was a bewildering spectacle but could have been used more effectively in the storyline. He would mostly talk in rhyme, in an accent that to me sounded Awadhi – Muraka kabhi na haara, usey dhokhey ne maara.

The film boasts of good looking actors, great wardrobe, lovely locations, you can’t take your eyes off the screen but it’s difficult to be emotionally invested in the characters. We never cared when the characters laughed or cried. The film constantly changes its temperament. In the middle of a crisis,  the characters were cracking jokes.  

Raabta is somewhere between a thriller and a romance and tries to be a little of everything. I was mostly glued to its cinematography and styling. Rest all seemed less fascinating.

2 Stars

A film with a beautiful heart but lacking in craft.

Film Noor is based on a book called Karachi – You’re Killing me, written by a young Pakistani girl called Saba Imtiaz.

Noor is a girl who at the outset, to us, looks fine, but the narrative tells us that something is amiss in her life. There is a void, both in her personal and professional life. Is it because of a city that gives immense stress to its inhabitants, or its just Noor’s own poor destiny and personality that does not attract anything good. Or it could be a bit of both.

Director Sunhil Sippy who has been an ad filmmaker rolls out the film beautifully. It’s good for the eyes. Art direction is beautiful and contemporary. Cinematographer Keiko Nakahara takes us in the dingy lanes of Mumbai, dirty secrets, hidden wounds and pigeonholes inhabited by millions of less important mortals. The film starts to resemble the book which has been loosely translated into Mumbai – You’re killing me.

On the other hand there is Noor, a girl who has been blessed with everything material but is unhappy. She plans to change the world, do something worthwhile, make a life out of her living, but her editor sends her to interview frivolous people. Does a city like that deserve to have people like Noor actively changing it ? May be it does. Soon the lighted hearted story takes a serious turn as we find out that there is an organ harvesting racket flourishing in the city that Noor must expose. Here the narrative coupled with immature direction starts to lose grip.

Single, heavy and an accident prone woman has been brought to life on screen in a famous English film called Bridget Jones Diary.

Renee Zellweger in the lead did a marvelous job in it and did make for great entertainment. In Noor while we are being convinced that she is miserable, we fail to understand, why is she ? She got a spacious house in Mumbai, a loving Dad and truly caring friends. A difficult equation with the Boss ? Well its half the world’s problem and a perennially out of geyser could have been fixed.

What I liked best about Noor is how she looked. Sweet and smart. You could take a tip or two from the film’s stylist on casual dressing. Also you could feel the predicament of every city girl trying to make something out of her time and life. She does create magic in a few scenes and looks seriously adorable in them. But on the whole the narrative is so fickle and confusing that it’s difficult to keep pace with the changing mood of the film. Often it becomes the story of Mumbai, then Noor and sometimes Malti, the caretaker in Noor’s house. Malti played by Smita Tambe deserves a special mention with a powerful performance.

Standup comedian Kannan Gill makes his big screen debut and he does provide the film it’s best light moments. He is a complete natural and it was such a relief.

A problem area was the way broadcast media was showcased in the film. It needed to be authentic as it constituted the core theme but sting operations, expose and the finicky news editors’ portrayal was a bit faulty. Having been in News channels for 13 years, I thought, it could be anything but this.  

While Noor was right in the middle of a deep crisis she takes a break and flies to London with her friend Saad and what she had ready there was an evening dress to wear to a restaurant. Filmmakers have moved to a different era in filmmaking so such fancies be best avoided.

It’s a film with a beautiful heart and some heart wrenching scenes but fails to be a well cooked meal.

2.5 Stars

Taapsee Pannu plays a strong female protagonist

It’s a rare thing in Hindi cinema that a kick ass film made with a strong leading woman saves itself from the shame of the intervention of a supposedly stronger hero who needs to come to her rescue every 20 minutes. Even if the director went out of his way since the beginning of the film to establish the woman as a no nonsense girl whose punches are more alluring than her curves; it’s  a tragedy that befalls and  bites into the most of our female oriented dramas. We will discuss later whether it’s at all a female oriented film or not. I was reminded of Quentin Tarantino's epic martial arts film series 'Kill Bill' with Uma Thurman in the lead. Hell hath no fury than a woman scorned. The protagonists in both the films are beautiful, young and were about to turn a new leaf in life when tragedy strikes and then her vengeance is for the world to see. Its calculated, its brutal. But while Uma Thurman's Kill Bill was stylish, smart, gutsy and a convincing thriller, lack of a good script and direction made Naam Shabana into an above average, overdramatized (in the second half), half-baked film which lacks a purpose. One of the reasons is that in this multi starrer, Taapsee Pannu out performed her character leaving the rest to sound shaky.

 

The character Shabana, played by Taapsee, lives in Mohammed Ali road, a place well known for its non-vegetarian food in Mumbai. With no father at home ( he has a story too ) and only Ammi as her companion, Shabana learns martial arts, does not crack a smile like her young friends, has a boyfriend, and is used to making all her decisions on her own. And yes, she breaks into a fist fight with the roadside Majnus at the slightest provocation ( No in Mumbai Anti Majnu squads are not active ) . She finds it difficult to express love and she has a history to prove why. A tragedy in life forces her to take up killing as a profession, also a way to avenge her misery.

 

Director Shivam Nair uses the entire first half to build this solemn, brooding character whose fists knock out multiple men with ease, but as we slip into the second half, the film takes its usual turn towards stereotypes, old bollywood styled portrayal of a villain, long stories of plastic surgery changing the villain's face and Indian spies from RAW miraculously killing nation's enemy without any proof in foreign land. Michael played by Malyalam actor Prithviraj Sukumaram is good for the eyes.  Sukumaran who has done close to 90 films down south looks handsome as a stylish flesh trader but his character is half baked, unreal and takes too unconvincing a turn to be believed.

 

No doubt, the film has a momentum which leaves no room for a loo break and will mostly keep you invested, but in many parts will make you laugh at its sheer escapism.

One would think that It’s an Akshay Kumar film but hey, Akshay is here only in an extended cameo, he comes in for some necessary reminder that a film is incomplete without a hero. Why else would he suddenly jump into an action scene where Shabana has already done most of the talking. Director fails to edge out Akshay and Anupam Kher's characters unlike in Baby where everything had fallen into place. 

 

Manoj bajpayee replicates the role of Anupam Kher in ‘AWednesday’ where he keeps an eye on the whole of the city through his plasma screens. In a scene he tells Shabana about the real reason to take her in his team ,"Women are born spies. They are born with an extra strand in the DNA". When he said that, women sitting next to me laughed. Such dialogues in a seemingly serious film often took away a bit of its seriousness.

I would like to applaud the scene where Shabana mercilessly kills a man in cold blood who had ruined a beautiful plan of her life. The half shut, blood shot eyes and a calm face just before the act sent a chill down my spine. This scene was immediately followed by Ajay Singh Rajput( Akshay Kumar) breaking into the room in his introductory scene to rescue her. While 'rescue' she did not need at all.

The expectations from the film were high after its prequel  Baby was well appreciated by both critics and box office. This one disappoints in its coherence and consistency. The speed breakers though are made up by a fast pace on the edit and a very sharp and impacting background score which sounded too loud in parts.   A little bit of more logic than style would have made it a worthy prequel though. Watch it for its first half that is fresh, breaks stereotypes and smells of unpredictability each second. The rest is all average or below.

 

2.5 stars

Phillauri is sweet and tender but takes long to come to the point

Punjab has been the rich land of folklore from where maximum love stories that Bollywood strives on, originated. Laila majnu, Sassi Pannu, Heer Ranjha, Shireen Farhad and the like. In Anshai Lal's Phillauri we see the same old world charm that films like Laila Majnu or in recent times Pinjar cast on us. There is love with longing, tenderness with suffering and sometimes love waits, for so long that a whole century seems like just a day has passed. 

In Anushka's second production what impresses us much is that the theme is fresh and point of the film simple. Love triumphs. Narrative slips back and forth sketching two eras, one in 1919 and the other 2017. One partner in the relationship is so hell bent on making it work that even unrequited love has the potential of becoming a legend of sorts.
 
Back in 1919 was a flourishing love story between two opposites. This was a time when women were not allowed to fall in love with singers, Indian freedom fighters were being shot at by the British and were secretly attended by local doctors, one of them here is Shashi's (Anushka) on screen brother. It was the time when a learned woman who could write for newspapers but could not give out her real name. It was the time when love once vowed was for keeps. The real beauty of this film is in the scenes shot in the Pre-Independence era. The old world charm is alluring and its easy to fall in love with Diljit and Anushka's characters. Though the love story had much potential but it was not tapped into. There was romance but it was constantly on fast forward mode. The real tenderness of the affair could not be conveyed for the haste in taking the story forward. 
Anushka's character is strong and as always she is natural, simple, beautiful but in this case should have been more believable. The look was fine but the language and demeanor of a Punjabi woman in 1919 was a little unconvincing. Such details can work wonders to the  impact of the film. But sure shot Anushka's performance both as the ghost and Shashi holds firmly. 

Diljit Dosanjh being a singing sensation plays a singing star here too. He is likeable in his scenes as a Punjabi munda. Sometimes careless, bohemian but mostly passionate and honest to his love. But a little more chemistry thus investing the viewer in their cause so that their long union in the over stretched climax didn't seem uncalled for,  was so necessary. The editor was made to chop off much of the romance and let his hands loose in the climax. A free hand at the edit is the only thing that has played havoc to this 2 hour twenty minute long film. The sweetness and tenderness is mowed down by a very sluggish pace of the film thereby making it seem an unending saga. 30 minutes chopped could have worked wonders here. 
  
The first half is full of humor but reveals little from the plot leaving us clueless but its only in the second half that the films starts to make good sense. 
A few moments and scenes are memorable. Dadi's constantly taking her peg remembering the insatiable sex drive of her late husband, Karan's ( Suraj Sharma) 'would be wife' played by Mehreen Peerzada who is hung upon marrying his childhood love despite his disinterest thereby reemphasizing that true love will find a way no matter what; the scenes between Anushka and her much older brother provide the real ingenuity to the Punjabi essence of the film. 

The special effects of the film are fresh, believable, soothing and good for the eye. Anushka's ghost scenes have both the beauty and the humor but the effects in the climax which take history as part of the narrative instead of trying out something new, seemed a bit stretched. I liked the climax though, you would not have seen such a beautiful looking climax in a long time though. 
The film is overbearingly long but the quickly shifting narrative keeps it interesting in most parts and the Punjabi love story which always appeals to Indians, Suraj Sharma's lovable performance and the two tracks Dum Dum and Sahiba will make it worth your while. 

3 stars. 

‘Trapped’ has the most intriguing story

Hollywood has mastered this genre with films like Cast away (with academy award winner Tom Hanks), Danny Boyle's 127 hours and Ang lee's Life of Pi. 
While setting such a film in a natural landscape like snow laden mountains, desolate islands or a rough unending sea, seems to come naturally to such themes where a protagonist battles isolation to keep himself afloat and alive; Its a totally different challenge, in fact a marvelous idea to set the film in one of the most densely populated cities in the world – Mumbai. 

While on one hand its a brave feat to battle the enormity of nature's wrath to keep alive, it's a much scarier thought that a man can almost die alone, locked up in a flat of a building located in a crowded area of a city that never sleeps. A big pat on the back of Vikramaditya Motwani who after Lootera and Udaan, in just his third film manages to tell a lucid story with simple characters in such a hard hitting way that it shall lurk on your mind for many months to come.
 
An average office goer, Shaurya, who worked in a travel agency was besotted with a colleague. In a rush to marry her, he sets out at the insistence of the girl to get a house on rent, only to be duped by a shady broker which the city has no dearth of.
 
A beautiful, spacious 1BHK flat which is a decent belonging in Prabha devi, becomes a playground of the devil. A whiff of the wind when accidentally closes the metallic door, begins the traumatic journey of a man stuck on the 35th floor of an illegally constructed building with no light, water, food and just an ugly mouse and a cockroach for company. The door never opened; until the end of this one hour 3 minute long film.  

Rajkumar Rao, an actor trained from the Film and Television institute of India gets almost all the applause here. He takes the vision of the director and writers to magnificent heights. With films like Shahid and Aligarh he had made a mark but with Trapped, he delivers a knockout performance.
 
From using the elastic of his underwear to kill a pigeon to satisfy his hunger, constantly idea-ting tricks to get out of the hell, shouting his lungs out for help till his voice gave way, putting various things in the room on fire in desperation to get noticed, using his own blood to write cards to throw in the air, to drinking his own waste; I am reminded of Tom Hanks' performance in Cast away. 

Going incommunicado with a mobile with no battery, doors getting locked from outside, being stuck in four walls with no electricity, we have often experienced such things but this strange ordeal and a direct confrontation with soon to befall- death is hair raising horror narrated brilliantly in Trapped.  A shout out to all actors to watch Raj Kumar Rao's performance. He is subtle, natural, desperate, brave, timid, all rolled in one. The transformation from an office going boy who ate no meat, was scared of rats and looked meek to a man who callously roasts pigeons, eats insects, dares to think of jumping off those 35 floors, writes letters with blood begging for help, we see humankind going back to where it came from.
 
The film has one protagonist, but many heroes. 
Director – Vikramaditya Motwani, writers  Amit joshi, Hardik mehta;  Alokananda das gupta  who gives a magnificent background score that paired with emotional intensity with all the various moods of the protagonist and definitely the  cinematographer Siddharth diwan. One hour and 3 minutes of a film set almost fully in a 1BHK flat. The monstrosity of the looming death drew us and invested us fully, thanks to the camerawork that focused on the close ups and complimented the screenplay.
   
The film also cuts sharply into the gross insensitivity that the city can be accused of. A watchman who has no clue that a man is trapped up there, a man vanished from his office one fine day, was there anyone looking for him ? 

The climax of Trapped, almost like a crescendo, is gripping. Not fair to give even a whiff of it but I was expecting a little more in the end. A wee bit more emotion, catharsis, disconnect from reality, a little more than silence. Something that set it apart from other films of the same genre or at least on the same lines. 

Apart from a few minutes of slackening action on screen, the film keeps you mostly at the edge of the seat. 

Go for it. 
3 Stars.

Alia and Varun teach a few good lessons to youth

While growing up, I had heard an Uncle say to his relatives, "the most important thing to teach our girls, is the ability to say 'No', rest everything is immaterial".

As the film unfolded, Alia's 'No' in a perennial repeat/loop mode reminded me as to how important his words were; as it forms the premise of the entire film. A qualified confident girl says 'No' to a marriage of convenience and mismatch.  Over and over again so, till the boy makes himself worth it.

When Alia who lives in Kota ( City known for its burgeoning IIT training centers) meets Varun ( living in Jhansi ) in a park, he notices only the Taj Mahal built there, while Alia notices all the seven wonders made in that park. That scene defined how Badrinath who was a 10th class dropout was an unsuitable match for a girl much higher than him in IQ, common sense and acumen. Still, Badrinath, born to a rich father feels he was on a higher pedestal just by virtue of being a man and a rich one.

 

After having met at a common friend's wedding and playing Hum Apke Hain Kaun games, the duo set on different paths but Badrinath could not get Vaidehi out of his mind. He stalks her, pursues her, chases her, relentlessly argues with her and cajoles her into marrying him, but Alia being in no mood of 'two sisters waiting to get married', shuns him laughingly.

 The film delves deep into a middle class life in small towns of India and how archaic they still are when it comes to daughters, their marriage woes and the futility of a girl's personal dreams. The father of two girls as always ( apart from Dangal) is a humble man with docile mannerisms, waiting for the day to get them married irrespective of having constructed their own identities. The father of the two sons ( Badrinath and his brother ), played by RituRaj is a male chauvinist, adheres to the 50 year old definition of a woman's status in a feudal family and vows to physically and publicly punish the girl who betrayed his son. We read of such men daily in our newspapers, well it’s a reality. Feudal men feel the irresistible urge to get back at a woman through physical might.  However, the film also goes on a male bashing spree at times, caricaturing men only in a certain light.

 

The film thrives on good visuals, art design, great costumes, DJ music ( Tamma Tamma rehash) and funny situational comedy. Varun Dhawan gets good company in Somdev ( Sahil Ved )  who reminds us of a trustworthy friend of Dhanush played by Zeeshan in the film Raanjhna. He comes up with some good comic punches to add humor to otherwise a tale of male patriarchy and long stretched chauvinistic stereotypes. The bond between them provides the best moments in the film.

 

The film works at different layers and does not work on a few. Varun says, "Vaidehi Dahej ka naam sunte hi hinsak ho jaati hai", he is a cool boy, with 'no dowry at all' attitude. He falls in love with a girl much smarter than himself and also coerces her to follow her dreams. It’s about boys who love their girls dearly but can't break out from the hard cocoon built by their father at home. They have lips stitched and cant afford a scissor. 

The film talks to the boys who turn violent after being turned down and plan acid attacks on their ex-lovers. 

 It teaches them to back off decently if the girl says "no". Though in order to teach this lesson, the narrative shamelessly dwells on the same antics for quite long. Despite a couple of clichés, there are chances of you to get emotional, particularly if you had grown up in a small town and witnessed such stories.

 

What I liked best was a scene where inspired by Alia's zest for life, passion for her career and hunger for her individuality, Badrinath remembers not his mother but his Bhabhi ( played by Shweta prasad) and draws parallels between the two women. She stood a bright chance at life too, had she been allowed to have a career.

And what was despicable after all the ranting about feminism was an overdramatic and a hurried climax set in Jhansi where Alia, despite having a flourishing career in Singapore is made to come back to Jhansi, as in unwritten Indian constitution, a boy never moves out with the girl but the girl compulsorily has to move in with the groom and his parents. One of the reasons for a girl child being unwanted.

Anyway, apart from a few clichés, predictable twists and an abrupt end, it’s a smooth and pleasant ride.

Mirzya – A Feast For The Eye But Where Is The Passion?

Sahibaan’s father who is a senior police officer while neatly doing his daughter’s hair says to her – Aasman me dekhogi to zameen par ye baal kaise banaunga. You instantly know that you are watching a film with Gulzar in its team.

In the beginning of the film a beautiful relationship between a tough police officer and his daughter whose best friend was a boy from neighborhood sets the pace. Rajasthan in all its splendid beauty, innocent middle class characters, and the best music so far in this year comforts you.

We know that we are going to watch a saga of two lovers whose legend is nothing less than that of Laila Majnu, Shireen Farhad, Heer Ranjha and Sassi pannu. Our folklore is rich enough to churn out dozens of such love stories but the portrayal of the love story should be as passionate, as heart wrenching, as emotionally moving as the love story itself.

And here is where the film begins to fall short of expectations.

Its beyond doubt that Rakesh Mehra (Aks, Rang De Basanti and Bhaag Milkha Bhaag) and Gulzar who returns to writing screenplay after many years since his last in Hu Tu Tu are master story tellers and choose to not be satisfied by anything ordinary, but something has gone amiss here.

In the legendary tale of Mirzya and Sahibaan, Sahibaan elopes with Mirzya but breaks her lover’s arrows to save her brothers from being killed by the man who never misses his target.

The beginning of the film is simply breathtaking. We have not seen an action sequence as well performed and as well shot in many years. Cinematography by Pawel Dyllas is a complete character in the film adding beauty to each and every single frame.

Munish was in tender love with Suchitra and ends up killing the teacher who hurts Suchitra, goes to a juvenile jail and then flees. Years later he is found living with a blacksmith where he is named Aadil. After the killing, Suchitra was sent abroad by her father; years later she returns to wed a prince from Udaipur and finds Aadil taking care of his horses in his stable. They quickly recognize each other and fall in love.

There are two tracks, one set in Punjab of hundreds of years ago and one in contemporary times. Lovers are the same, their stories and their end is the same. Aadil and Mirzya played by Harshvardhan Kapoor and Suchitra and Sahiban played by actress Tanvi Azmi’s niece Saiyami Kher. There is Mehra’s quintessential intertwining of two tracks drawing parallels between the two. In the background there are colorfully dressed dancers who mirror through their dances what the characters and the viewers are feeling.

The film is beautiful, music is hair-raising but the actors often fall short in giving the depth that such a magnificent love saga deserves. There is no conflict and no catharsis. For us who have seen Chetan Anand’s Heer Ranjha, Laila Majnu and Ek duje ke liye where the lovers’ wretched misery leads them to desperation and then miserable deaths while still holding each others’ hands, this one seems shallow. The longing, the heavy hearts, the tears, the passion, the pain of separation and meeting again, eloping and submitting to brutal death is missing. You don’t feel for the love story because you never got invested in it.

Saiyami’s Kher makes an impressive debut and she is completely comfortable in front of camera, very natural and very expressive. Harshvardhan chooses a rather unconventional film for his debut but manages to stand his ground. Very few dialogues given to him add to his mystique on screen.

Anuj Chowdhry who plays Suchitra’s fiancé shines with the correct body language of a prince and later a betrayed lover.

A scene where a panther attacks the prince, his would be princess and the stable boy Aadil is quite handsomely executed with great visual effects.

This film is a technical marvel, very ambitiously scaled, has the best music of the year by Shankar Ehsaan Loy, director Mehra’s intention to make a classic was a beautiful idea and this one was set to be a master of all shades but falls short in the basics; the story telling and relationship between the lead characters. If it could move us even half of what Heer Ranjha did or Laila Majnu did, one would be gratified. There are 15 songs in the film out of which Yeh Wadiyan Doodiyan Kohre Ki, Teen Gawah Hain Ishq Ke, Aave Re Hitchki will haunt you for a long time.

Thanks to Rakesh Mehra for even attempting such a lofty subject from our literature with an intention to raise the standard of our commercial films. This one is a onetime watch.

2.5 Stars.

A great idea falls short in execution, yet entertaining!

Banjo is the story of four fast friends who live in a chawl in the complex city called Mumbai. The four boys ( Riteish Deshmukh),  Grease (Dharmesh Yelande ), Paper ( Aditya Kumar ) and Vaajya ( Raja Menon);  these characters are common, one of us but rare in their abilities to dream and be happy about their daily lives.  These friends have a passion in common, in their pastime they play Banjo, an instrument that was once fashionable and common but slowly lost its glory. Far away in the busy city of New York, there was Nargis Fakhri, another music lover who wants to collaborate with the four musicians for a music competition.  The film is about this ambitious girl trying to find them and finally make magic, but the spark, difficulties, magic behind this tumultuous journey is missing in parts.

The film’s most important aspect is its cinematography by Manoj Lobo. The film looks good and the camera well explores the chawls, the dirty sea side, the beautiful sunsets and the life of millions of people in the harsh yet comforting city of the financial capital of India – Mumbai.

Director Ravi Jadhav who had earlier directed small budget but tremendously powerful films like Balak Palak and Natrang could not save the film from the influence of a below average performance by Nargis Fakhri and an inconsistent screenplay.; though Nargis looks very good in the film. The end is hurried and irrational. The only thing that saves the film is the tremendously entertaining and well delivered scenes between the 4 fast friends. There is innocence, naivety and fun in all these scenes. In particular the scene in which Riteish’s character is drunk and talking to the old man who he calls father is tremendous. I would go to the extent of saying that this is Riteish’s best scene of his entire acting career.  In this film Riteish proves that he has the makings of a good actor, if explored well.

Music of the film is by acclaimed Music duo Vishal and Shekhar. Considering the film is a musical, the films’ overall score falls a bit short but the songs like Udan Chhoo, Rehmo Karam and Bappa are hummable.  Last it happened with a film called London dreams.

Galiyan Chhoti hain magar Ummeedein badi.; a dialogue that sums up the spirit of this film.  Go for it expecting it not to be a masterpiece.

2.5 Stars.