SHORT TAKES The three films that everyone was pinning their hopes on and were supposed to light up our lives turned out to be damp squibs

T he year ended with three films everyone was looking forward to turning into damp squibs. Expectations are ignited by the star cast and the previous works of the directors involved and fuelled by the ubiquitous promos. The icing is when the songs turn out to be chart-busters. The flipside is that all this will be quickly doused after the first show when fans emerge with a look that bespeaks betrayal by their Gods. The three films that I'm speaking about are “Mylaari”, “Tees Mar Khan” and “ManMadan Ambu”.

The director of “Mylaari” is the king of convoluted love stories. But here he's signed Shivraj Kumar and so he has to fulfil certain expectations. As usual Shivanna plays the butter-hearted villager who comes to big, bad Bengaluru, turns bitter and picks up the ‘long'. He swings it around spraying blood and is convicted but there's a talented writer lurking inside. The story is about how he gets out and marries his childhood sweetheart. There's nothing new so Chandru tries narrating it back and forth and for a change tries the ‘father' sentiment. Pace becomes a problem when nothing plausible happens on-screen and in “Mylaari” it seems endless. Shivanna acts with the efficiency of a factory worker who's been doing the same thing for years. He's energy personified in the song sequences though. It's high time he refuses roles that have him playing a college kid, however fleetingly.

The first time I met Farah Khan she was huddled with Shahrukh Khan at a resort in Thekkady playing ‘ Mastermind' during the shooting of “Dil Se”. She was pretty good too. While watching “Tees Mar Khan” I kept wondering if it was the same intelligent young lady I had interacted with. I must confess she showed sparks in “Main Hoon Na” and blossomed with “Om Shanti Om” but ‘TMK' is a bumbling enterprise. I don't completely blame her because the standard of comedies in Hindi cinema is abysmal. You have to take someone to tickle you if you want to laugh during some recent releases including ‘TMK'. There are sparks in stray scenes especially those involving Akshaye Khanna who plays a superstar obsessed with an “Ascar Award”. Of course there's Katrina Kaif who's delectable. She's made to overact, but nothing she does looks crude including the lewd dance movements in “Sheela ki jawani”. Shahrukh must be smiling smugly for having pulled out of this movie even sacrificing his friendship with Farah.

“Manmadan Ambu” is mediocre only because it's directed by Ravi Kumar and written and enacted by Kamal Haasan. There's a sprinkling of emotions and comedy but it just doesn't work, especially the second half. Kamal must be lauded for giving the meatier role to Madhavan who's simply superb in the scenes where he's sozzled. The film ends up as a three-hour advertisement for a luxury cruise liner. Kamal has nothing to prove but it's time to introspect about the roles and films he accepts. Every young director worth his megaphone wants to work with him. All he has to do is surrender to the one he approves of.

S. Shiva Kumar

sshivu@yahoo.com