MOD

After Tasveer and Aashayen , Nagesh Kukunoor once again sets the mood well but falters when it comes to taking the leap of faith. Set in a quaint hill station, Mod has some interesting characters and endearing moments but as a whole it is a film that outlives its welcome once its central conflict becomes clear.

Kukunoor's favourite Ayesha Takia is back here as a feisty young girl Aranya who repairs watches for a living. Perhaps a first for a Bollywood heroine! She is against her father (Raghuveer Yadav)'s fascination for alcohol. She makes him sleep outside the house but wakes him up every morning with a cup of tea. Cute! The father is a Kishore Kumar devotee who runs a music school and sings at weddings and has not been able to come to terms with the loss of his wife. There are some really engaging bits of dialogue between father and daughter about love and life. Kukunoor has a great knack for laughing at himself. There is a scene where a friendly fat shopkeeper is exercising with “Yeh Hausla…” (from Kukunoor's Dor ) playing in the background. After a leisurely build-up comes Andy (Rannvijay Singh). He knocks at her door to get his watch repaired but soon we realise that is yet another cute way to start a love story. As Aranya falls for a guy who at 25 doesn't know how to kiss, comes the central conflict.

There is more to Andy than she knows. But once the truth begins to unravel, Kukunoor loses his control over the script. Once again he fails to blend the realistic with the larger than life elements as the writing becomes inconsistent and appears lazy at places. The growth of Andy's character defies logic. The back story – the school days of Aranya and Andy – pan out in an implausible manner. So is the doctor's role in the scheme of things. Despite all his efforts, Rannvijay is not the right choice for the role as he fails to do justice to both Abhay and Andy.

Yadav is his usual self but it is Ayesha who makes it a watchable experience despite all odds. She is a great example of how looks don't come into the way if you are adept at acting; how a book, which is judged by its cover, becomes all the more appetising if the content is equally satisfying. However, here she is saddled with a co-actor who doesn't have the necessary skills to pull off a complicated role. And we are waiting for Kukunoor to pick up his characteristic Dor again!

MY FRIEND PINTO

Debutant Raghaav Daar's film owes its inheritance to the good old Jagte Raho kind of cinema but the problem is that in an effort to make it artistically cool the film almost becomes an affected exercise in absurdity. Michael Pinto (Prateik) is the modern day tramp once made popular by Raj Kapoor, the good-hearted fellow who is untouched by prejudice, who doesn't judge people and is always eager to lend a helping hand. Yes, like his predecessors he unintentionally creates trouble wherever he goes. Of course he rescues puppies and surprises everyone with his skills in the gambling den. The template has been tried many times and here Daar turns it into a story of one day and night in the bustling, selfish side of Mumbai. It is another stereotype where the naïve character stumbles into the world of bumbling gangsters, becomes the target of a failed actress but spreads positivity wherever he goes.

Raghaav has come up with some original ways to work the old formula but the joys are short-lived. His remark on ephemeral Facebook friends to introduce Pinto is spot on. So is his subtle way to comment on the diminishing tribe of boys who considered their parents' dream as their own. Pinto comes to Mumbai after the death of his mother who wanted to see him as a priest to spend some time with his once close friend Sameer (Arjun Mathur), who has become Sam now. Sam's girlfriend doesn't want to host him. It's New Year Eve and the couple leave Pinto at home to attend a party. As expected, Pinto manages to get on to the street and it spirals into a night of high drama. The first half drags pointlessly as Raghaav takes a long time to get into the groove. The writing and the performances improve noticeably in the second half and we leave the theatre on a happy note.

Prateik is made for offbeat stuff but here he fails to distinguish between playing a retard and a naïve. Perhaps Raghaav wanted the line to remain blurred, but it doesn't work. In the second half he appears much more assured and it helps the narrative.

Kalki Koechlin is effective in a small role and Makrand Deshpande gets his timing right as the retired Malyali don who speaks with a queer accent.

If you give into absurdity easily, chances are you might makes friends with Pinto.

JO DOOBA SO PAAR

Eastern Uttar Pradesh and Bihar are emerging as new centres where Bollywood is pegging its stories. Small-town setting, rustic language full of ribald innuendos is going well with audiences tired of unnecessary gloss.

However, here again a formula is setting in and this is an example where director Praveen Kumar is following some sort of a trend without trying to say anything original and fresh. He has come up with a catchy catchphrase – it's a love story in Bihar but has done little to justify it. The characterisation is sketchy and the screenplay has more potholes than the roads in the region it talks about.

Rusticated from college for disrupting examinations, Kesu (Anand Tiwari) is forced to join his father in his business of delivering goods. He falls in love with a foreign-returned girl (Sita Ragione Spada) of a rich father. She wants to do research in the badlands of Bihar. As expected, the girl gets kidnapped by the goons that operate in the region. The rest of the story is about how Kesu saves her bringing to focus the corruption that infests the system in a light-hearted fashion.

The writing is sloppy and the conflict far-fetched. Unlike films like Phans Gaye Re Obama that took off from realistic situations, here you never feel that something like this could happen in Bihar. A familiar face in advertisements, Anand brings his loud gestures to films, not realising that here you have much more than 30 seconds to express yourself.