HASEE TOH PHASEE

Co-produced by Karan Johar and Anurag Kashyap, director Vinil Matthew attempts the marriage of two distinct styles of film-making and the result is inconsistent. The ideas that the film pushes are more serious than its tone and title. In the cover of rom com, it quietly promotes the idea of educating the girl child. Here is a mainstream Hindi film heroine whose target is not just marriage. The violence that she faces is not from outside but within. Like her father, she is also in the business of polymers. If he is selling polyester and nylon saris, Meeta (Parineeti Chopra), an IIT graduate, is looking for solving power problem through a polymer. But her family considers her a nerd, forcing her to steal and take drugs.

Matthew takes plenty of creative liberties to keep it light and within the parameters of a romantic comedy. Some of it comes naturally but when it is force-fed, the film sounds shallow. The usually reliable Parineeti falters in conveying the image of a girl with split personality. Perhaps she has been asked not to make it too real, so she is reduced to making faces.

But if you consider that she is operating in a Karan Johar universe, Parineeti proves that she is the new drama queen of the industry and in a good way. Siddharth Malhotra shines as an endearing companion, Nikhil. For a change here the boy is the emotional fool who doesn’t want to experiment with his love life. And more importantly, he doesn’t win the girl’s heart by saving her from some ruffians but by showing respect for what she is. Siddharth conveys it all with honesty. Adah Sharma is not bad as the Miss Practical and Manoj Joshi impresses as the father caught between old values and young ideas.

Coming from advertising background, Mathew manages to capture the nuances well. The dances don’t look staged and the lighter portions play out well.

However, in the middle of all the shine, Matthew runs out of meat and the film loses its voice before regaining it intermittently in the second half.

Ultimately, when Matthew takes the usual rush to the airport to sort out the confusion, you feel jaded.

The buttons that the film presses are brave. Wish the electricity of treatment were as free flowing!

HEARTLESS

Described as a romantic thriller, the film marks the debut of Shekhar Suman as a director. After lifting the thrills from Hollywood film Awake , he has indigenised the romance bit. Aditya (Adhyayan Suman), the young billionaire with a doting mother (Deepti Naval), needs a heart transplant but he is suffering from a death wish because he holds himself responsible for the death of his father. When Ria (Ariana Ayam) comes into his life, he agrees to go for the operation but not by a doctor of her mother’s choice.

He picks Sam (Shekhar Suman) only to have second thoughts but by then he is in coma and only has anaesthesia awareness left to salvage the situation.

A vehicle to re-launch his son, the director spends a lot of raw stock in showcasing his skills. The problem is he is short on content and a large portion of the film is reduced to a showreel of Junior Suman. Newcomer Ariana doesn’t have the wherewithal to pack the surprise punch she is expected to lend. By the time Suman comes to the operation table, you lose interest in the patient.

Adhyayan is easy on the eyes and renders an earnest performance. It is his scenes with Deepti Naval that provide the emotional layering to the otherwise dreary exercise.

A couple of chambers are in right shape but overall it is a sinking heart.

YA RAB

Director Hasnain Hyderabadwala looks at the Islamic angle in terrorism and asks some straight questions from both sides of the divide. If the State has to answer about the slow progress in cases related to demolition of Babri mosque and Gujarat riots, vested interests in the Muslim community are put under scanner for misguiding the youth in the name of religion. However, it is executed in a loud, preachy way, reducing the film into a strident sermon for harmony. In an attempt to balance out the equation, the screenplay suffers. Every line is underlined and every sub plot headlined. And in between the storyline becomes almost a filler.

The performances are shrill with Akhilendra Mishra leading from the front as a crafty politician who masquerades as a maulana. A usually reliable actor, Mishra needs a helmsman who could keep his hamming in check but Hasnain gives him the licence to shout out the opposition. Ajaz Khan disappoints as the head of the anti-terrorist squad. He doesn’t get the depth of the character and keeps displaying stock mannerisms that are taught in crash courses of acting.

The saving grace is Manzar Sehbai, the seasoned Pakistani actor who is still remembered for his masterful performance in Bol . Here, as the well-meaning doctor, he shows how a good actor can lace the sermons seamlessly into the performance.

Perhaps, Hasnain made the film for those who revel in Wanted and Rowdy Rathore kind of cinema. So he has packaged the much-needed message in the kind of pill that they love to pop.

LONE SURVIVOR

Like the loudmouth maulana in Ya Rab , director Peter Berg perpetuates a jingoistic propaganda for his country. Based on director Marcus Luttrell’s memoir, Lone Survivor celebrates the sacrifice of American soldiers who died after a 2005 Afghanistan mission to assassinate a Taliban warlord went haywire.

There is no other side here as Berg wants to tell us that SEALS met agony and death because they let three herdsmen go as it was against the rules of engagement. The film not only sidesteps the torture perpetuated by the American forces in the region but also gives us little idea of what the ‘enemy’ feels like. It seems as if a few invincible and noble officers are outnumbered by a slew of gun totting cardboards.

Shot in documentary style, the action is visceral and mind numbing but the way the fall of every officer is shot against the sun, you feel Berg is out to sanctify them. Mark Wahlberg plays Luttrell, the lone survivor in this battle, effectively but it is a kind of role that doesn’t test Mark’s talent.

Effective but one sided!