BAND BAAJA BAARAAT

Known for its lavish wedding sequences, this time Bollywood takes a pause and goes behind the scenes of the business of big fat Indian wedding. After “Rocket Singh”, this is Yash Raj banner’s second film which celebrates the entrepreneurship of young India without resorting to the big banner extravagance and stereotypes.

Habib Faisal’s (who announced his arrival sometime back with “Do Dooni Chaar”) screenplay has the spark of Jaideep Sahni’s writing. He cannot sustain the tempo in the second half but he still manages to pull enough strings of the heart with a story that is refreshing and deserves to be told.

Shruti Kakkar reflects the new middle class girl who is looking for space on the celluloid cluttered with the upmarket confused lot. Once termed as behenji, now she wants to have a career before taking the tag of a homemaker and the career need not be a reality show or a white collar job. She has got ideas of her own and it doesn’t start from a fashion makeover. Thank God! Shruti is training to be a wedding planner while completing her graduation from Delhi University.

On one of the assignments, she comes across Bittoo, another character who is ignored by our filmmakers. He is raw and rustic, college is just a time pass for the boy for whom culture figures only in agriculture. But this doesn’t mean he is a sex-starved brute, who sees every girl as an object, or a goofy simpleton. He might call it binness or offer biskut to his swindling boss, but he is not a caricature. The two bond over bread pakodas and as Shruti nips Bittoo’s romantic ideas in the bud they decide not to mix business with pleasure. Shruti’s planning and Bittoo’s earthy execution gives their company, Shaadi Mubarak, a flying start.

As they gradually rises from organising loud Janakpuri weddings in the lanes to staging understated Sainik Farm extravaganzas we have plenty of aha moments. The banter is believable and the situations reflect the reality of this recession-proof industry. The film is set in an outspoken world but says plenty of things in subtle one liners. Aseem Mishra’s cinematography captures down town Delhi in all its hues and imparts a tangy flavour to the absorbing text.

The casting is spot on as Ranveer Singh, despite his limited screen presence, looks coming straight from the sugar cane belt of Western Uttar Pradesh. Anushka is improving with every outing. She is an interesting mix of the old world elegance and today’s energy and here looks convincing as the rather blunt Delhi girl, who finds girls of her age group, giggly. Their effervescence is infectious and the first half passes like a breeze. And when the all important physical intimacy happens, we go into the break with a lot of anticipation. When we return, we thank god once again that one sequence of intimacy doesn’t result into peristalsis!

However, debutant director Maneesh Sharma fails to create a concrete conflict even as Shruti fails to place love in her business plan when it suddenly drops in unannounced. Yes, this is an interesting situation to play with and Shruti and Bittoo’s behaviour remains consistent through the feeble crises but the emotional fracas between the two pans out in a rather casual fashion so much so that the solution could be arrived at anytime after intermission. As the predictability sets in, the pace slackens and even the spark diminishes from between the lines. A couple of engaging subplots – one wanted to see a competition to Shaadi Mubarak but the film never ventures in that direction – could have saved the day.

Like “Rocket…”, “Band…” is also being projected as a dhamaal film, which it is not. At the end of the day it is a love story but the brain is not expected to be on a break. Once again it raises issues of commitment and integrity that surround the young generation but doesn’t skims the shiny surface. The skewed projection perhaps failed to give “Rocket” the desired flight. Let’s hope “Band…” finds some listeners at the box office.

NO PROBLEM

Success makes you bold to experiment. For Anees Bazmee the daring seems to be in taking the sense out of the script with each outing at the box office. “No Entry”, “Welcome”, “Singh Is King” may have diminishing level of sense and sensitivity, but they faced no problem whatsoever at the turnstiles. However, one can’t stick the neck out for this one.

We know Bazmee has a flair for making the bizarre work but in his last three outings he took off from issues one can somewhere relate to. If “No Entry” was about infidelity, “Welcome” had an interesting premise of gangsters finding it difficult to find a match for their sister and “Singh Is Kingg” had an unbridled Punjabi passion to it. Here there is nothing one can hang on as it is just a series of disjointed gags. A few of them do work, but most of them make you cringe. It reminds of the era when scenes were written on the sets. And music, which has been a strong point of Bazmee’s films, sorely disappoints here.

To be fair to him, Bazmee has again concocted enough characters to stir up a mad cap formula! A South African village where people speak Hindi, a bumbling police officer (Anil Kapoor), who remains agile after receiving almost a dozen bullet shots, his wife (Sushmita Sen) has a split personality, an eccentric bimbette (Kangna Ranaut) who compares herself with Ferrari, two con men (Sanjay Dutt and Akshaye Khanna) whose plans backfire every time, a gangster who imparts electricity every time he touches somebody, a couple of apes on the loose…there are enough out of this world characters to play with. Then there is more. Amidst all the chaos we have Vijay Raaz as a morose character who wants to give some piece of advice to the US before he dies.

But unfortunately, this time Bazmee hasn’t seasoned it well. There is no semblance of story or screenplay in this big budget venture and some of the gags take a sadistic tone. Bazmee’s penchant for skin show takes an in-your-face tone and the entire film works on the same note. In the absence of emotional connect, the strident pitch sounds disconcerting. We are used to shrill comedies but when three conmen are on a mission to steal, they are not expected to speak at the top of their voice. Of the star studded cast only Anil Kapoor has given a few rib tickling moments as he endears as the police officer who is carrying two bullets in his belly. The rest of the big names are hamming big time.

If “Comedy Circus” makes good cinema for you, there is “No Problem” for you.

FASTER

Vengeance is a safe tool for filmmakers who rely on ‘mind blowing’ action and for this hard hitting cocktail Dawnye Johnson is the suitable man! Here, The Rock, as Johnson is popularly called, bulldozes this average film to the realm of watchable. His wooden expressions make us believe that he is untouched by mortality and when his body does the talking we listen. To being with director John Tillman Jr keeps it simple. The hero is called driver, the supposed villain is called killer. What do you expect from such a film – a flurry of well crafted action sequences and Tillman delivers them pronto.

Driver is an ex-con who is out to avenge his brother’s cold blooded murder during a heist where they were double crossed. As he shoots his killers one by one, Driver’s photo makes it to television networks and it doesn’t seem difficult to nab a killer with plenty of tattoos, a shaven head and somebody who drives a vintage car in broad daylight but logic is the last thing on Tillman’s menu and honestly with Johnson’s larger than life persona we don’t mind the misplaced aggression.

An aging drug-addict police officer (Billy Bob Thornton) whose self confidence is on the wane is after him perhaps for one last hurrah. How he gets such an important assignment just two weeks before retirement is never suitably answered?

Then there is a good looking-gadget obsessed professional assassin (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) also on his trail. Of course there is more to it than what meets the eye but “Faster” falters when Tillman gets ambitious attempts to give this one dimensional action thriller a cover of ‘70s noir and a sensitive soul by introducing us to the shadows in the lives of the officer and the assassin. The fun diminishes as we can see through the pretence and when gangster-turned-evangelist repents in front of Driver, we squirm at the textbook style of Tillman. Ultimately, the freshness that he imbues to the form couldn’t translate into the content.

The Rock is solid but he is walking on shallow ground!

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Films about usJanuary 22, 2011