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A staged tragedy of desi Romeo & Juliet; Wolverine claws back

Anuj Kumar
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Issaq is a shoddy adaptation of the Bard’s tale of love
Issaq is a shoddy adaptation of the Bard’s tale of love

ISSAQ

A shoddy adaptation of Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet , this one neither has soul nor substance. Set in Benaras, the new stopover for Bollywood to create romantic tragedies, this one makes Ranjhaanaa look like a classic. Actually, the Bard’s timeless tale is just an excuse as director Manish Tiwary cooks a stale love story in the cauldron of caste rivalry and presents it as a fresh recipe to the unsuspecting audience. The whiff that the title offers doesn’t seep into the script. Rahul (Prateik Babbar) belongs to the Mishras and Bachchi (newcomer Amyra Dastur) comes from the Kashyap clan. Despite being warned, Rahul goes against the tide and as expected, all hell breaks loose. The girl’s uncle (Ravi Kishan) is out to liquidate Rahul, who despite his efforts to come out of his violent past, gets sucked into the caste politics.

With a Naxalite angle inserted in between, it seems a riveting drama on paper. Unfortunately, it remains just that! The problem is we just get to see a string of stunning visuals of the holy city, with very little to feel here. The trouble lies both in writing as well as the performances. The Naxalite layering is ludicrous, the working of sand mafia remains on the surface and the caste rivalry is just a convenient tool in the hands of the script writers (Padmaja Thakore-Tiwary, Manish and Pawan Sony). The tension on the screen never traverses through the celluloid barrier. There is plenty of posturing, but it seldom translates into real danger for the love birds. At times, the film flaunts its earthiness, with references to Jaishankar Prasad’s Kamayani and some of the dialogues highlight the rakish appeal of the region, but they don’t add up into anything profound. Nor do we get the sense of the boorish side of Benaras. It is all put on.

The boy goes in and out of the girl’s room, almost at will, without anybody noticing as long as all the hummable tunes are used. So much so that you can almost set your watch to the chapters in the script. Oh! It is fifteen minutes to intermission, let’s fire some bullets. Yes, it is that kind of film where you can attempt to read the intentions of the film-maker. Tiwary seems obsessed with stunning visuals even if it means compromising on the consistency of the storytelling. The editors have a lazy outing and there is nothing more tedious to watch on screen than a staged tragedy.

In romance, the lead players can make you forget the lack of details, but Prateik’s dialogue delivery is as staccato as the script. He overdoes the lover boy act. In trying to be casually confident it seems he is making fun of the audience for investing time in a boy who lacks purpose. Salman Khan can carry such swagger, Prateik can’t. Amyra looks the part and despite an uneven accent manages to sail through the choppy script. So does Rajeshwari Sachdev, who has returned after a long break. Amyra brings in the sweet part of the love story, but the sour part remains tasteless. The usually reliable Sudhir Pandey and Ravi Kishan are cast to chew the scenery, but there is very little substance to sustain their hamming abilities. But the biggest casualty is Prashant Narayanan. Tiwary seems to believe that shouting laal salaam turns a character into an extremist. And when he is not chanting the slogans, Prashant murmurs so much so that at couple of places Tiwary has to put English subtitles. We want to know more about his character, but like the film the curiosity dissipates into disappointment.

This Issaq is not worthy of taking a risk!

BAJATEY RAHO

There are film-makers who get inspired by life and then there are film-makers who draw from good cinema. Director Sashant D. Shah seems to belong to the latter category. He has made a louder version of Dibakar Banerjee’s Khosla Ka Ghosla .

A Punjabi family cheated by a corrupt businessman hatches a plan to pay back in the same coin and almost succeeds. The plot is worthy to be told all over again, but here, Sashant falters in creating the mood as he takes the title almost literally as the background score keeps on reminding us the title lest we forget. From accents to situations, everything is overtly dramatic here. It highlights the context so much that the plot losses its potency.

Set in Delhi, here the team is led by the formidable Dolly Ahluwalia, who is having a great time in films these days. After Vicky Donor , she has once again delivered a stellar performance. It is more difficult, for here, she is expected to be subtle when the script gives the licence to be shrill. Vinay Pathak and Ranvir Shorey take the challenge and manage to sound realistic even in the high pitch, but for Tusshar Kapoor it is just too much.

He needs to be told it is not a Rohit Shetty film and that he is not in Goa. Ravi Kishan, in his second film of the week, performs marginally better as the crook, who loves to play with the customers’ belief. It is this unevenness that makes Bajatey Raho inconsistent. It deserves credit for making an ageing widow a hero. It strikes a note when Vinay spoofs mata ka jagaran or Ranvir shows how the high and mighty treat their staff (Bijendra Kala excels), but these guys deserve to be in a more layered, more honest film. At the end of the day, it is nothing more than a time pass fare, which you don’t mind watching on a Sunday afternoon on television!

THE WOLVERINE

After the caped superheroes, it is the turn of the invincible mutant to discover his mortal side. With an eye on the Asian market, the X-Men franchise turns to Tokyo where the brooding Logan (Hugh Jackman) goes solo for the first time. He is called to meet a dying Yashida (Hiroyuki Sanada) against his wish. Once upon a time, Logan had saved Yashida from the catastrophe of Nagasaki. Now, Yashida wants to pay back by asking Logan for his healing power and, in return, offers him mortality. The deal offers Logan a chance to be one with Jean (Famke Janssen), the love of his life, who keeps returning as the ghost or we can say as the conscience keeper of the Wolverine.

The movie turns out to be an interesting territory to explore. Here is a grumpy mutant, fighting the curse of immortality and he is juxtaposed with an ailing tycoon who just doesn’t want to give up on the desires that life comes up with. At first, Logan refuses the offer, but the family fracas in Yashida clan forces him to join the battle for the successor.

Not to forget the return of evil mutant Viper (Svetlana Khodchenkova), who is in a mood to wipe out every opposition.

Yashida pinned his hopes on his grand daughter Mariko (Tao Okamoto) and Logan takes upon himself the task to take her to the saddle, but is the painful journey worth the effort?

As Logan’s healing capacity wanes and Mariko moves into his ‘infected’ heart, you get a chance to ponder whether your superhero will make it or not. That he could need a female bodyguard (Rila Fukushima) in distress. It is a cosmetic change, but a step ahead for the superhero stories nevertheless.

Talking of plastic, the increasing presence of Famke in the frames make them unnecessarily schmaltzy for a comic book franchise.

Thankfully, director James Mangold doesn’t take himself too seriously and relies on Jackman’s virility to service the demands of the fanboys and girls. Take the scene where Wolverine gets a makeover against his wishes! It is Jackman, who allows the Wolverine to take the leap of faith and make the incredible stunts palatable.

The choreography on bullet train outpaces the Samurai stuff in the latter half, but Jackman is consistent all through making us sit through the bouts of boredom in between.

Nothing great, but services the interests of the fans and wannabe aficionados of the mutant cult!


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