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Copy-cat buffoonery and a lumbering zombie tale

Anuj Kumar
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While David Dhawan’s Chashme Buddoor (left) works as long as the original plot is followed, Rise of the Zombie borders on boring and is more of an experimental student film.
While David Dhawan’s Chashme Buddoor (left) works as long as the original plot is followed, Rise of the Zombie borders on boring and is more of an experimental student film.

CHASHME BADDOOR

If chalk and cheese ever required an example, this is the week where both Sai Paranjpye’s Chashme Buddoor and David Dhawan’s official remake of the 1981 entertainer are in theatres. And the difference literally lies in ‘U’ giving way to ‘A’ in more ways than one. While Paranjpye’s film continues to tickle with its unaffected mirthful moments, David’s is more of an asinine rapid fire put together from cheeky SMS poetry. And when the script loses fire power, David keeps firing blank shots. This is his forte. Bring the brains so low that the audience starts taking pleasure in bursts of silliness. In a height of daftness, Anupam Kher cries maa maa in the tune of a shehnai . It starts as pure puerility but by the end of it even the purists can’t resist rolling in the mud of madness.

The simultaneous release of two films is an opportunity to understand the changed values. Three decades ago we could have an honest film about three bachelors sharing a room, which was soaked in cigarette smoke. In 2013, we are told twice about the dangers of smoking but when it comes to the cinematic language there is no check on double entendres. And the overriding mantra is if you can’t make the original, copy the original. Writers Sajid-Farhad would agree. Last week we saw their copy of Himmatwala . Here they have a better source so the results are accordingly better.

To give David his due if you put the comparisons aside, it is a comeback of sorts for the man who had lost his trademark boisterous touch in his last few films. Here he is able to revive his loud, over-the-top variety of entertainment where the one-liners keep coming and the riot of colours and fast paced editing ensures that you have little time to ask what he is up to. Of course it is not tonic for grey matter but the rhyming variety of dialogues works where mass (or is it crass) appeal matters.

Instead of relying on his old warhorses, David has this time put his money on new faces (Ali Zafar, Divyendu Sharma and Siddharth) and they have delivered the required earnestness. Unlike the original, their bonding is more of readymade variety but it suits the standard of writing on display, where the scenes have no organic link and the screenplay is just a combination of gags. Newcomer Taapsee (a known face in Telugu cinema) reprises the role of Deepti Naval. She looks the part as the girl next door, whom the boys are trying to woo but her face contorts in strange ways in crucial moments killing the fun.

The buffoonery works as long as David sticks to the original plot and Siddharth and Divyendu remain centre stage. It is in the add-ons that he fails to contribute something fresh to the plot. The romantic angle between Rishi Kapoor (replacing Saeed Jaffery) and Lilliette Dubey remains a painful distraction and when the two try to relive a hilarious moment that defines the original the contrived shine gives way to ugly parody. Then Dhawan can’t resist the temptation of unleashing a slapping mother (Bharti Achrekar) and his fetish for inserting the twin brother angle (an unabashed Anupam Kher) doesn’t help in reinventing his image. Add to it a couple of needless songs and we have a rudderless second half.

It could still be a fun outing for a generation, which is unaware that male bonding could be cool in our films even before Dil Chahta Hai happened, but for the rest the evil eye of consumerism has finally cast its spell on a gem.

RISE OF THE ZOMBIE

An attempt to take the horror genre in India away from screeching doors and spiteful spirits, it is more of an experimental film fit for a student film festival as a test for the changing tastes of horror-loving audience. Luke Kenny plays a wildlife photographer who loves to spend more time with nature than his nubile girlfriend (Kirti Kulhari). After an argument he goes into a jungle in Uttarakhand without telling anybody. After clicking some ordinary pictures he gets bitten by an insect and gradually turns into a zombie. It is not too different from the werewolf phenomenon except for the fact that here Luke officially unleashes zombies on us. However, the process is so slow that it seems like unravelling in real time. It is good to break free from the existing rules but the alternative that Luke and co-director Devaki Singh offer borders on boring. It takes them a long time to come to the point.

The long periods of silence don’t add much to the mood and the background sound is patchy. Perhaps the limited budget doesn’t allow them to experiment with the technique. So the rawness of a man turning into a zombie becomes almost literal. If you show a man eating another man’s body part it is going to evoke repulsion. There is no art in it. The real fun will perhaps begin in the sequel, when the virus will spread and zombies take the road.

Don’t waste your money on this one for Luke will provide you the recap!

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