Anuj Kumar


(DT Cinemas and other theatres in Delhi and elsewhere)

Cut to the core, cinema basically is story and its execution. Here you have good old director Priyadarshan with a well-cooked story in the form of Majid Majidi's much acclaimed “Children of Heaven”. However, the man who strikes a neat balance between meaningful cinema and comic extravaganzas has this time failed to live up to his standards when it comes to executing an uplifting tale. It is a bumpy ride which appeals in bits and pieces. The good thing is it reminds you of the period when innocence was not lost on celluloid and kids were not used as miniature stand-up comics.

Set in terrorist-infested tea garden surroundings, Darsheel Safary plays Pinu, a little boy who is asked to help out his mother (Rituparna Sengupta) in daily chores by his dejected, jobless father (Atul Kulkarni). One day Pinu inadvertently loses his sister Rimjhim's (Ziyah) shoes at the grocery store. He convinces her not to tell this to their parents as they don't have money to buy a new pair and promises her that soon he will get her a new pair. In the meantime they arrive at a unique arrangement of sharing the shoes!

With his father unable to find a new job, Pinu tries to fulfil his commitment. He faces moral dilemmas, fear of God, which naturally reminds us of our brush with lie, our first temptation….

In Darsheel Safary Priyadarshan has a wonderful child actor who lends expressions to the character which are not expected at his age. Yes, Taare Zameen Par was no fluke, he is a rising star! His blemish-free interactions with the cute Ziyah Vatsani provide some of the most honest kid moments we have seen on screen. Your heart goes out to Rimjhim when she leaves her exam midway so that she can return the shoes to Pinu in time so that he can attend his school. But halfway the oversized shoe falls into a canal but Rimjhim doesn't give up.

However, Priyadarshan fails to keep the innocent crux of the tale secure. He tries hard to make us reach for handkerchiefs and the manipulative efforts show. He digresses from the main story to make a number of socio-political comments, failing to do justice to most of them. The dialogue gets dreary and the setting smells of mistaken identity. The storyline and the lingo of characters suggest that the film is set in a tea garden in Assam but Priyadarshan leaves enough hints that he has shot near Ooty. But more importantly, he has succumbed to the demands of sponsorship.

After a point the storyline becomes a statement to push a sports brand and the characters are made to run around to fulfil what they call corporate social responsibility.

From then on it is reduced to bum bum bombastic!


(Satyam, Delhi, and other theatres)

Yet another film where poor execution mars a wholesome idea! We rarely find wrestling as a subject in films but director Rajeev Kumar is hamstrung by poor strategy. Set in rural India where mud wrestling is still a rage, it is about a battle of egos between the helmsmen of two akharas played by Om Puri and Sharat Saxena.

After an interesting start in a realistic setting where we are made privy to the world of wrestlers in a light hearted fashion – the importance of abstinence, the ways of finding weakness of the opponent – Rajeev turns it into a crass comedy.

The problem surfaces when he introduces Rajpal Yadav as the post master of the village. He falls head over heals for Sharat's daughter (Nargis), who is in platonic love with Salman Khan! The post master tries to add to the acrimony between the two heavyweights but himself falls into the trap. Now if he has to marry the girl he has to beat Khali in the ring. Yadav looks too haggard for a role which required an endearing face.

Apparently Rajeev has opted for Rajpal for his size but we have seen Rajpal many times in similar situations before. He can't abstain from overacting and here again he makes you cringe. The Salman angle is too far fetched and Khali is just a bait to hook some eye ball. And like his celebrated fights, the film is a copout.


(PVR Saket and other theatres)

Sometimes a heart-felt performance fails to bail out a preposterous plot. The romantic comedy is an example. Zoe (Jennifer Lopez) desperately wants a baby in her life before her hormones dry up but she is unable to find a soul mate she can rely on. She goes for artificial insemination but for some strange reason she doesn't know about pregnancy pangs.

Incidentally, the days she gets a shot of sperms, she meets Stan (Alex O' Loughlin), the man she was looking for. As the two come together she wants to give up on her well-thought out plan as heart knows no logic but it is not that simple. The boy is not settled and is unable to come to terms with the unwarranted responsibility keeping Zoe in dilemma. Plenty of potential to work up an engrossing film but director Alan Poul largely sticks to the physical aspect of comedy. He hardly skims the emotional subtext. Sample this: Zoe drives into a tree because Stan is looking handsome. As the days progress, it becomes difficult for her to get into her shapely dresses. Lopez, to her credit, tries hard to keep it real, but Alan is adamant to keep the camera swooning over her physical charms. Alex knows what the director wants and puts his best pose forward but carries only two expressions through the film.

If a couple of genuine laughs and Jennifer Lopez constitute your idea of cinema, lap it up; else keep a plan B ready for this weekend.


(Wave, Noida, and other theatres)

Like Priyadarshan, director Allen Coulter also fails to calibrate emotional manipulation. Set in New York in the summer of 2001, this gloomy romantic drama is about Tyler (Robert Pattinson), an angry young man who has a strained relationship with his father (Pierce Brosnan). He feels the father was responsible for his brother's suicide. Even as he allows the past to overshadow his present, he comes across Ally (Emilie De Ravin) through a quirk of fate. Ally also has a disturbing past and an over-protective father (Chris Cooper) but she lives in the moment. Love blossoms, and even as you feel Tyler's wounds will heal the circumstances that bring them together threaten to tear them apart. We feel for Coulter's characters but that is the only good thing about this gloomy tale. Apart from some touching scenes betw-een Robert and his sister, the film is full of contrived melodramatic situations and it acquires incongruous proportions in the last act.

Brosnan gives a measured performance in a small role but the film belongs to Robert and he does give it all despite being saddled with some really shallow writing. The morbid atmosphere doesn't allow him to shed his Twilight image but still he manages to give Tyler a distinct identity and depth. With Emilie he creates some passionate moments that stay with you even when you try to forget the rest of the affected melodrama.