ZIYA US SALAM

HUMKO DEEWANA KAR GAYE(At Wave, Kaushambi; and Delhi theatres)She is the kind of girl to take home to meet your mom, the kind of girl to grow old with. A girl blessed with soft appealing eyes that make autumn a worthy destination. Her curvaceous lips don't have to be aquiver for men to miss a beat, and her peach complexion tells you that here is a beauty, untouched, unblemished. In the years to come Katrina Kaif, she of silky tresses, pearly smiles, is likely to mean many things to many, many cinemagoers. Here now in Raj Kanwar's film, she is a heartthrob to Akshay Kumar's automobile engineer.

As Jia, engaged to a big businessman too occupied counting his millions to care for her priceless charms, she marries innocence with vulnerability. There is seduction in her grace, wonderment in beauty. For a while she arouses dreams, fuels fantasies. And her voice does nothing to detract attention from her face, now painted with a blush, now coloured with hope. Then the realities of this long, long film dawn on the cinemagoers.

Yes, Katrina is a beautiful girl with all the gentle attributes worthy of admiration. But after an hour of unabashed eye feast, one realises that the story has not moved an inch. The lovebirds still smile and don't smooch, they still sing songs and dance but never take the next step. And their partners - they are both engaged to others you see, Akshay to Bipasha's aloof fashion designer, Katrina to a man too old to be hers - are still conveniently away. Yawn. You want the director to call `Cut!' and proceed to the next shot.

But no such luck. The lovebirds fill in the reels with Akshay managing to look quite out of sync and jaded in close-up as a soft romantic hero. Only at the stroke of interval does the film pick up pace. By then many would have lost patience and walked out. Of course, things do improve in the second half. But only to drive away the ennui that threatens to set in. Then this meandering love story becomes a mushy, syrupy exercise as the lovebirds try to come to terms with their true feelings; there is commitment on the one side, passion on the other.

You don't have be Nostradamus to guess what will happen next. Of course, if you have a stomach for Bollywood-style visual feast it is not a bad bargain. The characters all live in mansions we don't see in real life; and dance the way they have been doing since "Hum Aapke Hain Koun". And when they go to Canada, they invariably drive around snow-capped mountains with the guy still in a jacket and the girl in clothes that would hang loosely on a scarecrow in a desert! She shivers; he takes off his jacket! Enjoy the view, hum along with music that blends well with the film, with the song "Fannah, fannah" already down the rounds of the countdown shows. Admire Katrina.

Want to enjoy a film that is worthy of three hours of uninterrupted viewing? Stay away. This one offers solace in crumbs, the main course never comes your way.

BASIC INSTINCT 2(At PVR Plaza and other Delhi theatres)Big boys play at night. Right? Well, maybe, but big girls do it all the time. At least if they happen to answer to the name Sharon Stone in the celluloid world. Then the intimate act has many meanings, now a toy, now a tool, now a weapon. She uses all her charms to sail through this role of a serial killer. Yes, she kills them softly, but before that comes the wild act. And the guys are gagged the moment they feel infinity is but real.

It is an audacious plot of a woman writer who uses her words and gender to advantage. If she leaves you disarmed with her words, she stuns men into eternal silence in bed. Of course, she is not doing it all because she is a killer by habit but because as a writer she needs new ways of murder to infuse an element of novelty into her plots.

Sharon as Catherine Tramell, a writer who seldom writes, often bites - in more ways than one - is quite measured in her approach. She comes as a woman who knows her mind. And is aware of the changing contours of her body. She is quite endearing in her ways, even when she uses the words they do when they get wilder than wild. She makes a clinical talk on sex appear appetising enough!

Keeping her able company in this Michael Caton-Jones film is David Morrissey as a shrink who wants to discover how a woman can drive a man to death, and manages to get intimate at the same time. Of course, we know what happens in such therapeutic sessions: the healer needs to be healed!

Watch this sequel if you are interested in a quirky murder mystery. Else, take some time out for Sharon and enjoy an unfazed approach to the timeless act.

Hang on till the end; like at other times, the real pleasure here comes at the end.

MUNICH(At PVR Naraina and other Delhi theatres)After media, cinema is used as a vehicle for political advancement. "Munich", Steven Spielberg's film, is as unlikely to find him any favours in the world beyond the Israel-U.S. ambit as "The Schindler's List". If the first touched a chord for its biting portrayal of a tragedy, the recent one continues the age-old debate: of who is a freedom fighter, who is a terrorist. If a Palestine is a terrorist for hurling bricks and stones, is the Israeli force a mere defender of territory for retaliating with bombs and bullets. If kidnapping is a crime for one, isn't coercive detention just a euphemism for the same? On such complex loop comes Spielberg's new film that was in the running for Oscars but somehow has not found too many takers on the film circuit in India. It is a belated release that shall gladden the hearts of those who see cinema divorced from the reality, who see it as a tool of technical finesse. Or who look at cinema in a social vacuum. For others who believe that a filmmaker has a social responsibility, and he does not have be a prisoner of his belief, this is an abdication of responsibility that saddens.

Starring Eric Bana, this film starts off with the well chronicled kidnapping and death of Israeli athletes in the 1972 Munich Olympics. From thereon there are political shades, each more venomous than the other as the Israeli authorities retaliate with a secret group of its own: the guys must sacrifice everything for the cause of the nation, leave even pregnant wife at home, alone. But in this exercise, the fine line between equal and measured reprisal and irresponsible attack on the innocent gets blurred. The film, based on a George Jonas book, gets under your skin, whatever your predilection.

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