Tuesday, 28 February 2012


Directed by: Abbas-Mustan
Starring: Abhishek Bachchan, Sonam Kapoor, Bipasha Basu, Neil Nitin Mukesh, Omi Vaidya, Bobby Deol, Sikander Kher, Vinod Khanna
Released: 2012
Verdict: destroy every copy – horrible – bad – whatever – flawed but enjoyable - good – great – amazing

How can you take seriously somebody named Charlie Mascarenhas as a mastermind high-class, next-to-supernatural-hero thief? Even more so when he is played by Abhishek Bachchan (who just never learns)? Players (or by a more precise title „Thiefs“) was supposed to be a rocking action packed multi-starrer, but maybe it would have been better if the film was called off once people like Priyanka Chopra and Kareena Kapoor decided to say no to it, because frankly, though the cast is full of known names, none of them really sells on their own.

The „player“ Charlie with his awesome and genius mind, finds his way to super secret information about a transport of a huge amount of gold from Russia to Romania, which immediately becomes his next goal. However he´s not naive enough to think he can pull such a robbery off by himself, and so after a consultation with the best of the best players (read „thieves“), the aging and jailed Victor Dada (Vinod Khanna) he puts together a team of the best thieves with different abilities. His romantic interest Rhea (sexy but somehow boring and unpleasant Bipasha Basu) is to be useful in getting information out of certain men, then there are a master-disguiser Sunny (Omi Vaidya), explosives expert Bilal (Sikander Kher), a magician (Bobby Deol) and a hacker Spider (Neil Nitin Mukesh). And of course the super cool Charlie. However soon after actually pulling off the robbery Charlie finds out someone may have outsmarted him.... and there will be a hell to pay.
"Wait. Somebody stole my wallet. Call the police!"
What kills Players are weak and unimpressive performances, artificial dialogues and in spite of some good twist and turns a considerable level of predictability (though the last may be just my problem, I always happen to know the bad guys from the start, don´t ask me how). I actually really liked the first half, as most of the bad acting and questionable script was compensated by a well made action sequence and nice speed that did not give one too much time to analyze. However after the interval it all slowed down and somehow lost purpose and whatever thrill there was left.
We are sitting in the middle of Siberia and whole Russia is looking for us... let´s drink champagne from fancy glasses we did not forget to pack.
Abhishek is someone I never minded, but I still maintain what I´ve been saying for the past year - he needs to STOP acting cool guys with brilliant minds, because he just doesn´t deliver. Perhaps now after Player, Game and Dum Maro Dum flopped he will get the message? Unfortunatelly for him I think it is too late for him to reinvent himself (hoping to be proved wrong). Sonam has definitely improved, she does not make me cringe everytime she opens her mouth anymore, however she disappoints when it comes to anything emotional. There was NO difference in her expression whether she was flirting with Abhishek, casually serving food or wathching her father being shot. Bipasha is someone whom I fail to like, she just doesn´t pick good roles and just like with Abhishek it seems she is only good for one type of roles AKA we´ve seen it all before. Neil is by far the best, however still far from being impressive. All the actors (ironically with the exception of Johny Lever) give you the impression they totally do not care about anything, least of all about acting. 
Let´s lay down the wreaths and bury this film in some dark corner of our minds.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Chandra Mukhi

Directed by: Debaloy Dey
Starring: Salman Khan, Sridevi, Gulshan Grover, Mohnish Behl
Released: 1993
Verdict: destroy every copy – horrible – bad – whatever – flawed but enjoyable - good – great – amazing

The moment you see that on your screen you get an uneasy feeling. Regardless if you hate or love Salman Khan, he has not really been good with filmy ideas. Ever. But possibly nothing he ever came up after Chandra Mukhi was just as bad. Although I was told beforehand it was a try at sci-fi genre, and despite being generally very open to such ventures and being very tolerant overal, this film has taken the place of the most silly film I´ve seen, previously occupied by Rajkumar (with Madhuri Dixit and Anil Kapoor in the lead). There was one big hole where plot holes were meant to be. Basically nothing made sense. I keep wondering why would Sridevi even agree to make such a film!

Somewhere in space, undetected by NASA apparently, there is a golden realm where a Queen is ruling through a golden leaf that grants you every wish, and where the Princess flies through the air and is longing to go down „to the Earth“ and meet the humans. To prevent her from going anywhere the Queen decides to hand over the Golden leaf to her, thus making her a Queen. Because there is a catch you see – if she decides to go to the Earth, she has to return soon unless the kingdom will be destroyed.
"But mum! Responsibility sucks!"
The Princess is subsequently attacked by a macho guy with supernatural powers, who of course desires the Leaf, and she actually falls down to the Earth, loosing the Leaf in the process. On the Earth she encounters a little boy Raja with a sad, sad fate. His parents died a long time ago, and recently his disgustingly rich grandpa went missing as well. He is so terrorized by his evil uncle and his friends. Outraged by this injustice the Princess, who by now has began to call herself Chandra Mukhi, makes her jaddoo. Poof! Raja wakes up being an all grown up and unwaxed Salman Khan! Together with several kids Raja decides to go and find his grandfather, and very conveniently Chandra Mukhi decides to go look for her lost Golden leaf at the same place. They are chased by evil uncle and his companions as well as the macho guy who threw the Princess down from the high heavens in the first place...

The evil characters have all one quality in common: they are all incredibly idiotic and incapable of actually doing something evil. Heck, none of them even managed to kill the kids! And "ruling the world" is apparently limited to make things go boom with the Golden Leaf. And you can spend a whole day like it. But the good guys are not much smarter anyway. For example it is totally cool to forgive people who tried to kill you and your grandson repeatedly. And Sridevi basically tells us the best thing when face to face with death is to start dancing. Every single time. She is in her „let´s be cute“ mode throughout, something that does not necessarily work for her in this, and instead of innocent and good she comes across as immature and silly. True enough, her expressions are adorable, but somehow you feel cheated knowing what she´s capable of. She and Salman were hugely criticized as a couple, under a pretext that she is too old for him. I beg to differ. Sridevi is only 2 years older than Salman and if the story was different, they would actually create a nice jodi. However what betrays them as a couple is the main and most important twist of the whole thing.
"Yesterday I played with a teddy-bear. Today I´ll have sex with Sridevi. Oh yeah!"
The idea of little boy completely skipping growing up and the very next day romancing a grown woman in a very physical way just felt pedophilic. Even more so since he actually changes back into a boy in the end. One of the songs clearly implies that Chandramukhi and Raja most probably indulged in physical love – which basically makes you sick. He is just a boy imprisoned in a adult body after all! I don´t think I´ve ever seen anything more wrong in any film ever.

Songs were plenty and badly forced into the story, but on their own they were quite good and so a highlight. The technical aspects and special effects did not stand the test of time, be it the lasers flashing from Sridevi´s eyes or even the depiction of the spacy kingdom.

WTF-ery of the first class, that did not forget to show that even the beings from outer space need Hindu Gods to solve their problems.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Stanley Ka Dabba

Directed by: Amole Gupte
Starring: Partho Gupte, Divya Dutta, Amole Gupte
Released: 2011
Verdict: destroy every copy – horrible – bad – whatever – flawed but enjoyable - good – great – amazing

There are huge, lavishly told stories that hardly touch you. And then there are little stories that go straight to your heart. Just like the rather unglamorously named Stanley Ka Dabba. You might just be surprised what all can be told and shared in a tale about somebody´s lunch tiffin. Or a lack of it, which is exactly the case of Stanley, an 8-years-old boy from Mumbai.

Stanley seems to be lucky enough. He is bright, full of original ideas (that unfortunately not always go down well with all the teachers), eager to learn. And yet he is not a typical nerd who would get rejected by the rest of his class. On the contrary – he is hugely popular among all his classmates. He also has a special place in a heart of his English teacher miss Rosy – and in return he has a huge childhood crush on her. However one of the teachers is constantly annoyed with Stanley.
Some boys have bruises from fights. Some boys are like Stanley.
„Khadoos“ as he is nicknamed, is more than for his Hindi lessons known for unashamedly eating the lunches of his students (and other teachers as well, just more respectfully). One brief sight of a nice, shiny, metal dabba (tiffin), one sniff of food, makes him loose control over his thoughts and actions. He does not care one bit for what his students must think, he devours all he can. And he is thus deeply bothered upon realizing one of the students never brings any food to school – Stanley. Nobody has ever seen Stanley´s own dabba. Instead the boy usually disappears during lunch time, saying he´s going home to eat, but instead he can be found in the bathroom, drinking water to deceive his own stomach...

It is the simplicity in which the story is told that makes the whole film so engaging. Almost a perfect picture of a childhood, but seen from point of view of someone who already has the pangs of growing up behind them. Yet it all stay innocent because innocence and mischievousness reflect in Stanley´s dark eyes. Partho Gupte is so incredibly natural in front of a camera one could easily believe he didn´t even know he was being filmed. It is rare for child actors to show so much feeling without being superficial. But Partho is not the only one to be praised in this matter, as all his friends are wonderful as well. Those little guys have talent. Moreover they beautiful „clicked“ together and their little group feels honestly genuine. It was refreshing to see a movie about friends who actually are not jealous of each other, it was nice to see children not being selfish. 
Tujhe Dekha To Yeh Jaana Sanam Pyar Hota Hai Deewana Sanam!
The picture is complete with the characters of teachers – each being distinctively different from one another in their attitude towards pupils. Sweet and loving miss Rosy is in harsh contrast to strict and cold science teacher, and then there is of course Khadoos, who is a bit of both – just completely loosing it at the mere mention of food. His scenes with Partho are truly stirring a sadness. When he bans Stanley from going to school because he doesn´t have a dabba he could loot, he is naturally highly unlikeable. But once Stanley actually shows him who is the bigger person, you don´t feel any satisfaction, instead you pity Khadoos, because apparently, he has learned his lesson, and his change of heart is very much apparent.

Stanley Ka Dabba shows you a fragment of life of a boy, whose real story is actually quite larger and much much more sad. Yet it does not sadistically linger on Stanley´s true state of living (revealed at the very end only), nor it shows him as mentally and emotionally crippled by his living conditions. It is in the end a story of someone small, bit with big dreams and a big heart.
Need to mention the opening titles are clever, amusing and sad.