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``Style''... lacking in substance.

IN THE past, N. Chandra has made loud but gripping films. Occasionally over the top, often gory but almost always credible. In ``Style'', the latest from his stable, he has come up with a loose and lousy film-making you wonder if it is indeed the director of fine films like ``Ankush'', ``Pratighaat'', ``Tezaab'' and even ``Narasimha'' who has once again donned the mantle. ``Style'', which opened at cinema halls this past week as the last offering from Bollywood for the year, is a low-brow film made on a low-budget. It also offers entertainment of the lowest common denominator. Catering to the youth, this youthful film is everything youngsters should not do, should not get to see or hear. Also, thankfully, everything most youngsters in our schools and colleges do not do. ``Style'' lacks in substance. As simple as that.

This is the story of two friends in college — what they are doing in college, the stream of their study, the profession they intend to pursue are fine details better left to the imagination of the audiences — who indulge in pranks full-time. So what if most of their antics are either hackneyed or incredible? Everything in true Bollywood style, is larger than life. In between, the two good-for-nothing chaps — Sharman Joshi and Sahil Khan — lose their hearts to the objects of their ragging, teasing, tormenting. A possible marriage with richie-rich girls offers a once-in-a-lifetime chance for social and economic uplift to the bankrupt guys. How they go about winning the two tests the patience of the viewers. What's more, there are shades of ``Khel Khel Mein'', ``Khilari'' and sundry other films where either the needle of suspicion for a possible murder points towards the lead protagonists or the heroes have to live the life of a transvestite for a while to gain intimacy with the opposite gender.

Sorry, but ``Style'' is like a veteran having an off-day, much like a great Test match cricketer getting out for a golden duck in a one-day international. Yes, Chandra, if it is indeed your film, where is the heart-rending anguish of ``Ankush'', the stark violence of ``Pratighaat'', the riveting fare of ``Tezaab''? ``Style'', like ``Ankush'', ``Pratighaat'' and some other films of N. Chandra, has newcomers in the lead. That is the only binding factor. Otherwise, ``Style'' is something even N. Chandra would like to disown a few years down the line. This is one sleight gone terribly awry.


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