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An alcoholic singer, a time-travelling accountant and a superhero

Anuj Kumar
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Aashiqui 2:Shraddha Kapoor’s role seems too good to be true, while Aditya Roy Kapoor fails to deliver.
Aashiqui 2:Shraddha Kapoor’s role seems too good to be true, while Aditya Roy Kapoor fails to deliver.

Aashiqui 2

Our cinema seldom has space to weave stories around characters who lack willpower, but Mahesh Bhatt has often tried to play with uneasy souls, either addicted to the bottle or success. His protégé Mohit Suri tries to combine the two but fails to capture the highs and lows that come in the company of spirits.

It is supposed to be sequel to Aashiqui , that musical hit of the ‘90s which gave transient fame to Rahul Roy and Anu Agarwal even when many of us wished that the performers didn’t come out from underneath the huge jacket that covered the posters and that just the songs played on. Suri should be credited for recreating the same feeling! Apart from that, there is as much of a link between the two as between any two films from the Bhatt stable.

This is not the first time that the camp is dealing with the issue of alcohol addiction. It is not the first time that they are dealing with mentor-protégé relationship in the backdrop of the music industry either. Tanuja Chandra’s – another Bhatt protégé – Sur remains a more honest effort.

And Aditya Roy Kapoor is no Anil Kapoor or Anupam Kher who could strike chemistry with the bottle. In the introductory sequence when he puts his shades on in the middle of the night, one gets curious to know this animal called Rahul Jayakar – a singing sensation who lost his buzz because of the booze. But Suri doesn’t put enough weft in his past that would entice us to invest in his present, where he tries to give life another chance in the company of a bar singer (Shraddha Kapoor). Obviously, the two fall in love but Rahul’s dwindling career comes in the way and his fascination for the bottle turns it into a promising love triangle.

Time and again, Suri tries to tell us that no he is not making an Abhimaan or tweaking Sur or for that matter trying to imbue elements of Thikana in a different setting. However, in trying to lift ideas from different sources, the narrative acquires a staccato tone. The device of parents’ dependence on daughter’s income fails to create a flutter and the contrivances of jealousy and dependence between the two lovers are too generic to surprise you.

The girl is too good to be true. When she decides to embrace the ‘disease’ of her beloved, one doesn’t know whether she is in true love or is she an ideal borrower, who is trying to repay the loan even when the interest rate is surging for no reason. And when the ‘will he give up or will he not’ episode stretches for too long, you simply stop caring.

What Nargis Fakhri was to Rockstar , Aditya is to Aashiqui . He fails to make us fall in love and believe in the story. Because of him, the complexity of the relationship doesn’t come through despite support from the dialogue and music departments. Somebody needs to tell him that unkempt hair or an unshaven look doesn’t make you the suitable candidate to play an alcoholic.

At one point Aditya’s father (Mahesh Bhatt’s voice), asks about his well-being over the phone and he replies, “I am a little lost.” It defines the second half of the film. With a voice that is reminiscent of her immensely talented aunt Padmini Kolhapure, Shraddha lights up the screen with a smile that gives you a license to commit a hundred sins. Through her performance she keeps on reminding Aditya what eyes can do for an actor but the boy simply doesn’t react. Perhaps, his goal is just to be a step better than the Roy, who was the face of the first Aashiqui . And with music that is almost at par with the original, it might still be able to take in a section of audience, which is still learning to hold its glass but for me the half empty part is too glaring to invest in the winsome wine that Shraddha brings along.

Shree

TV star Hussain Kuwajerwala makes a much-delayed debut with a science fiction thriller where the director has got a gripping idea but not a gargantuan budget or a competent support cast to execute it. An accountant (Hussain) is picked by a secret society to be the guinea pig for their experiment on time travel.

The experiment succeeds and as expected it is going to be used to fulfil some evil designs. How the accountant uses his new found strength to counter the plan constitutes the rest of the story. To his credit, director Rajesh Bachchani has been able to impart some intelligent twists to the tale as the narrative shifts from dates. Can you stop death if you know the future; the director asks some existential questions through the thriller and along the way breaks some stereotypes regarding the depiction of female characters in our films. Here is a heroine (Anjali Patil provides good support to Hussain), who wants to go office without taking a bath. How often do you see that? However, things don’t add up into something compelling, for the film lacks the technical finesse both in writing and execution. Rajesh talks of a fissure in time but the way he explains it comes across as a loosely written chapter in Manohar Kahaniyan . Then he tries to justify time travel as something as simple as a jump from the roof top. In times of Inception it is silly deception!

Iron Man 3

Robert Downey Jr. is back with a no-holds-barred action spectacle helmed by Shane Black to satisfy the guilty pleasures of fanboys who don’t seem to have had enough of Tony Stark and his suits. Of course the world is in danger and the villain is obviously named Mandarin (Ben Kingsley in prime form). But it is not as simplistic as it seems, as Black and co-writer Drew Pearce manage to bring some layers of substance between the boom boom stuff involving Downey Jr. and his new bête noir Guy Pearce with Gwyneth Paltrow providing some much needed ‘Pepper’ to the proceedings. Black has conjured up many light moments which tell you what unchecked technology can do to your relationships and your sense of self worth.

A superhero feeling anxious and edgy, a child making the Iron Man malleable, an African-American comes to the rescue of a white American president and a girl saves the day for the superhero, these are tropes which have become fairly regular in this genre as the makers try to humanize the superhero. Once they used to marvel but here Black is ready to grapple with the question – what makes the superhero: the suit or the spirit. The point is the statements and the dilemmas are not overtly headlined and most of them are part of the narrative flow. Of course the gloss quotient is intact. In fact at some points it becomes so in-your-face that you start feeling is there any iron left in this Iron Man or the metal is just reduced to a pop metaphor.

But the real leap that the third edition of Iron Man makes in the genre, is that for once a mainstream superhero film from Hollywood tries to look for the villain within and succeeds in finding one. It is a fictional story but it does try to take away the one-dimensional flow of information on the war on terror and takes some of the masks off in the process. Yes, they call them non-state actors but are some of them actually actors? It is for this self appraisal that one cannot gloss over the third entry of Iron Man in our space. And mind you this time he has come here before showing his sleight of hand in the US.

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