Friday, May 05, 2006

Mistress of Spice: Review

This eagerly awaited Ash starrer directed by Paul Meyeda Bergeshas a unique premise indeed, and one can visualize the promise that the storyline offers its ethereally beautiful and expressive lead actor. ‘The Mistress of Spices’ is an enchanting and sensual fable about the romantic and personal conflicts that face Tilo, a beautiful young woman, trained in the ancient and magical art of spices. Ordained with special powers to help those that come to her, Tilo can sense people’s problems with a startling ability to look into their past and future!

Tilo works in a small San Francisco store called the ‘SPICE BAZAAR’, where, with the guidance of her spices, she finds the perfect remedy for anyone who walks through her door. For her powers to work she must obey three simple but strict rules she must only use the spices to help others, she must not touch another human’s skin and she must never leave her store. When Doug, a handsome, enigmatic architect crashes his Harley Davison outside her San Francisco store, she has to tend to his wounds, and her life is changed forever.

For the first time Tilo’s own desires are stirred is there more to life than helping others? Tilo knows the rules and her spices warn her to stay away. But Doug doesn’t have any spices telling him what to do and soon returns with flowers to ask her on a date.

No matter how hard she resists him, his persistence, honesty and friendship draws them closer and closer to each other. When they accidentally touch, another rule is broken and the spices are enraged. The spices are in no mood for either leniency or romance but Tilo is captivated by the force of love and agrees to go on a date leaving her spices behind.
The spices begin to punish her the more she falls in love and defies the rules, the more her customers suffer. All Tilo wants to do is carry on her work helping others and fall in love as well, but she is forced into a painful dilemma. If she turns her back on her way of life, all the people that she has helped will suffer, but if she doesn’t, she will lose Doug forever!

Tilo must now confront her past, her friends, her desires and ultimately the spices to decide if she can fight for a new life of her choosing or must return to the old one. So here’s looking forward to Paul Meyeda Berges’ eagerly awaited next film, which the following characters being played by a cast that’s a mix of excellent Indian and international actors. Character Tilo Played by Aishwarya Rai, Doug by Dylan Mc Dermott, Haroun by Nitin Ganatra, Geeta’s Grandfather by Anupam Kher, Jagjit by Sonny Gill Dulay, Doug’s Mother by Nina Young, Young Doug by Toby Marlow, Myisha by Caroline Chikezie, Geeta by Padma Lakshmi, First Mother by Zohra Segal, Kwesi by Adewale Akinnuoye - Agbaje, Satish Played by Paul Bhattacharjee, Hameeda Played by Ayesha Dharker, Bougainvillea Girl by Rebecca Bowden, Geeta’s Mother by Harvey Virdi, Doug’s Ex-Girlfriend by Cosima Shaw, Jagjit’s Mother by Shaheen Khan, Doctor by Anthony Zaki, Young Tilo by Bansree Madhani.


Gangster: The Movie

‘Gangster’ is not really a “gangster” movie, but a touching love story about a girl torn between her two lovers – one of them is a gangster on the run and another is a man who promises her a decent life. She makes a choice between the two, albeit a wrong one.

Presented by Mahesh Bhatt and directed by Anurag Basu, Gangster introduces newcomer Kangna Ranaut in a role that is doubtlessly difficult and challenging for any debutante. Shiney Ahuja and Emraan Hashmi are the movie’s leading men.

Simran (Kangna Ranaut) spends her days and nights drinking whisky and seeking emotional comfort in the company of Akash (Emraan Hashmi), a small-time singer in a Seoul club. Akash knows something is eating Simran deep inside. The truth is revealed to him one night by Simran herself.

The movie goes into flashback. We learn that Simran was a bar dancer living in a Mumbai chawl. One day, a gangster named Daya (Shiney Ahuja) runs into her house and hides there while escaping from the cops on his trail. No words are spoken between Daya and Simran. But a connection is made.

After that night of unspoken words, Daya begins to go to the dance bar just to watch Simran. One day he saves Simran from a couple of unruly guys, holds her hand and says out his first words – “Ghar Chalein”.

From that moment Simran starts living with Daya. But it is not the life she had dreamt of. Being a criminal, Daya is always on the run and she has to run with him. Even Daya’s godfather Khan (Gulshan Grover) warns him to dump the girl, but Daya refuses to ditch Simran and instead earns the wrath of Khan.

Simran tries to have a semblance of normal life by foster mothering an adopted child named Bittu. But one day, Bittu is shot dead in an encounter between cops and Daya.

Daya goes into hiding in Mauritius, while Simran lives a dysfunctional life of an alcoholic in Seoul.

After hearing Simran’s story, Akash begins to love her even more and promises to take her out of the mire she is wallowing in. He promises her a decent future. In a moment of weakness, the two end up making love in the bed.

It is then Daya makes an entry and bashes Akash. Daya confesses his true love to Simran and promises he would quit his crime world for her. On the other hand, Akash wants her to come with him to India.

Simran now has to make a choice.

Director and screenplay writer Anurag Basu must be commended for making an interesting movie without having any big names in the star cast and without resorting to unnecessary gimmickry stereotypical of commercial cinema.

The backbone of ‘Gangster’ is its story, which though not unusual, still keeps you riveted to the screen until the end, solely because of the way it has been presented by the director. An equal credit should be given to the movie’s actors for delivering fine performances.

Kangna Ranaut makes an impressive acting debut, particularly considering she has hardly had any acting experience save for a bit of theatre she did in Delhi. Although there is a scope for improvement in her dialogue delivery, she does impress with her emotive range. She excels playing an alcoholic, living a dysfunctional life, passing out on the streets of Seoul, and later on burdened by the remorse of the wrong choice she makes.

Shiney Ahuja speaks only a few dialogues in the movie. But his stoic presence throughout the film is quite imposing. He is particularly superb in one sequence at the movie’s fag end when the cops catch him at the Seoul station.

Emraan Hashmi delivers a fine performance. He doesn’t overplay himself.

Right from the opening shot, the movie raises a few questions. There is a shootout in which Simran is shot before pumping bullets into someone. Who is this other person? The link is made at the movie’s end, when director Anurag Basu completes the circle of this love triangle.

Eminently Watchable.

By Nikita Desai (


Thursday, April 27, 2006

Pyare Mohan: Review

Vivek Oberoi and Fardeen Khan starrer Pyare Mohan lacks the punch of a comedy film.

Directed by Indra Kumar, the movie stars Fardeen Khan , Vivek Oberoi , Esha Deol , Amrita Rao and Boman Irani .

Given the movie’s basic story idea, ‘Pyare Mohan’ could have been an interesting flick. Two friends – one blind and the other deaf – go about their lives with fun and masti without letting their handicap become a weakness. They also fall in love and later on fight the bad guys to save their sweethearts.

Pyare (Fardeen Khan) is blind as a bat. Day or night, light or darkness makes no difference to him. He goes on morning walks, reads the newspaper upside down and can sense a man’s intention despite his inability to see.

Mohan (Vivek Oberoi) needs just an excuse to break into dance at the slightest opportunity. He is deaf and can’t hear a damn thing, but he shakes his leg to the music, be it a marriage ceremony or (mistakenly) a funeral procession.

Together, Pyare and Mohan are inseparable friends running an Archies shop. But there is something lacking in their lives. It is love.

Cupid strikes when the two meet Priya (Amrita Rao) and Preeti (Esha Deol) during a morning walk. While Pyare is smitten with Preeti, Mohan loses his heart to Priya.

Preeti and Priya perform at musical shows. Their friendship with Pyare and Mohan cements after the two heroes help them during a concert.

But when Pyare and Mohan express their love to Preeti and Priya, their proposal is turned down. Preeti and Priya admit that they have always seen Pyare and Mohan as good friends but they don’t have any romantic feelings for them. Pyare and Mohan are shattered.

Post interval, the two girls get into trouble in Bangkok where they are arrested for a murder. Not only this, an underworld don Tony (Boman Irani) wants to kill them.

In this hour of need, Preeti and Priya’s dear ones turn their back to them. Only the blind Pyare and the deaf Mohan, whose love the two belles had rebuked earlier, come to their rescue. What follows is a cat-and-mouse game in which our blind and deaf heroes excel over the baddies.

Indra Kumar , the movie’s director, showed an incredible command over comedy in his movie Masti two years ago. But he disappoints in ‘Pyare Mohan’. Barring a few sequences, the humour in ‘Pyare Mohan’ is pretty mundane.

Vivek Oberoi does evoke a few chuckles in some scenes. His very opening scene, when he is dancing in a marriage and unknowingly starts dancing in front of a funeral along side, is funny. Also the look he wears throughout the movie, reading the lips of people speaking to him, gives his character a hilarious touch.

Fardeen Khan looks handsome, but doesn’t impress in comedy. There are certain scenes in which his expressions are plain wooden.

Esha Deol and Amrita Rao react more than act in the movie. Boman Irani is just about ok, playing a stuttering don, who claims his victims with a baseball bat.

To sum it up, ‘Pyare Mohan’ had the potential to be an entertaining comedy. But the writers have not been able to do justice to the script. The humour in the movie is obviously predictable and absurdly puerile.

By Nikhil Kumar


Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Humko Deeawana Kar Gaye

Save for the simmering chemistry between Akshay Kumar and Katrina Kaif, ‘Humko Deewana Kar Gaye’ has little else engaging to offer.

Filmmaker Raj Kanwar’s previous movies have bore an indubitable stamp of melodrama and romantic mush. HDKG is no exception. Riddled with by-now-obvious clichés, HDKG tells a tale of romance that keeps simmering between the two protagonists, but finds an expression only after a good number of reels have unspooled. It is about attraction and repulsion, about love and its denial. The end has the predictable union of the lovers, but not before the mandatory tear-jerking moments, punctuated by some over-the-top drama.

The movie tells the story of Aditya (Akshay Kumar) and Jia (Katrina Kaif).

Aditya is an automobile engineer already engaged to Sonia (Bipasha Basu), a fashion designer. But the two hardly look made for each other. For Sonia, her career comes first. She is a hot looking woman with a cold heart. She is put off by crying babies and doesn’t like simple romantic gestures that ought to be natural between any two lovers.

Likewise, Jia is also about to marry Karan (Anil Kapoor), a business magnate. Although Jia has had all the material comforts of life – thanks to her rich business-minded father – but she has never experienced family love. Now she is about to marry a man who thinks very much like her father.

Aditya and Jia meet in Canada. Aditya is there for business reasons while Jia is there to shop for her wedding.

What begins as a series of brief encounters between Aditya and Jia starts cementing into something serious. Aditya introduces Jia to his sister’s family in Canada. It is there Jia finds the familial love that she always longed for.

Just when the simmering love between Aditya and Jia is about to explode, the director introduces the element of misunderstanding between the two. The inevitable parting follows and the lovers drift apart never to meet again.

But fate – yes, the mighty queer thing that plays more important role in films than in real life – intervenes. The lovers meet again. The lovebirds go through the obvious emotional turbulence before they eventually become the ones of the same feather.

Well, HDKG has a few positives to its credit. Firstly, the movie is visually striking. The cinematography is topnotch and adds a considerable sheen to the movie paled by the absence of a gripping story. And there indeed are certain moments in the movie that strike a chord at heart, (Akki-Katrina sequences in the first half), but the second half keeps stretching endlessly towards the end.

The songs, that keep popping up after every few reels, only frizzle a viewer.

Raj Kanwar has apparently taken a lot of inspiration from Hollywood movies. There are certain sequences that look lifted from Hollywood flicks. Sample this – the introduction of Anil Kapoor before the interval when he mistakes Akshay as the room service guy and gives him a tip, bears a non-coincidental resemblance to a similar scene from Hugh Grant-Julia Roberts starrer ‘Notting Hill’. And there are similar noticeable lifts from movies like ‘Forces of Nature’ and ‘Titanic’.

Akshay Kumar and Katrina Kaif are the only saviors of this movie. Playing a suave and decorous man with a mellow heart, Akshay deftly conveys the intensity of the inner contradictions of his character at several places in the movie.

Katrina Kaif is getting better with every film. She is less wooden and more expressive in emotional scenes. Her natural beauty is beyond question and her styling in the film is just breathtaking. Full points to her on looks, her acting still leaves certain things to be desired. But she is coming around.

Bipasha Basu and Anil Kapoor carry their roles with ease and élan. Bhagyashree as Akshay’s sister gives an adequate performance.

In a nutshell, HDKG is good enough to while away your time. But it offers nothing exceptional.



Saturday, April 15, 2006

Shaadi se Pehle - Not Much Fun

Hearty laughs are only few and far between in this pre-marital, romantic comedy directed by Satish Kaushik.

Undoubtedly, the storyline and the basic plot of ‘Shaadi Se Pehle’ is quite interesting, although not original. The movie seems inspired from Amol Palekar’s 1979 movie ‘Meri Biwi Ki Shaadi’.

To put it simply, the movie tells the story of a man who mistakenly believes that his living days are numbered and therefore he tries to make his girlfriend hate him so that she can settle down with someone else without having to go through the pain of his death.

A story like this provides ample scope for hilarity and wit. But what ‘Shaadi Se Pehle’ serves is a series of clichéd situations marked mostly by average, non-functional humour. There are indeed some funny moments in the movie, but they are outweighed by overtly deliberate attempts to make the audience laugh.

Akshaye Khanna plays Aashish, a poor man in love with a rich girl Rani (Ayesha Takia). Aashish suffers from hypertension. Any situation of slightest tension leaves him with frayed nerves. Aashish’s love for Rani is not approved by her parents who think he is far beneath their daughter to match her as a husband.

The story begins to roll when Aashish mistakenly starts believing that he has cancer after overhearing his doctor’s conversation on the phone.

Suddenly the hypochondriac in Aashish comes to the fore. Resigning himself to his fate, Aashish decides he would not let Rani bereave over his death. He loves her too much to bring her any kind of pain.

So he decides that he will make her hate him. And for this he begins to flirt with Sania (Mallika Sherawat).

Sania is an uninhibited girl who is all over Aashish at the slightest provocation. She is also the doted one of her elder brother Anna (Sunil Shetty), a belligerent goon who can’t bear to see any wish of his sister unfulfilled.

Aashish’s gameplan works and Rani begins to hate him. She agrees to marriage with Rohit (Aftab Shivdasani), Aashish’s friend who has always harbored a crush for Rani.

Just in the nick of time before Rani’s engagement, Aashish comes to know that he doesn’t suffer from cancer. Now he has to undo what he has done.

Will he be able to get out of the mess he has created for himself? Will Sania, who has now grown strong affection for Aashish, let him go?

On paper, ‘Shaadi Se Pehle’ sounds like one potential roller coaster. But on celluloid, it turns out to be nothing more than just an average entertainer. This owing particularly to the movie’s script that is riddled with hackneyed humour. The movie’s dialogues lack the witty punch and freshness. Even the songs (by Himesh Reshammiya), save for a few, fail to keep the proceedings engaging.

The few funny situations in the movie inevitably involve Akshaye Khanna – be it his interaction with Rani’s parents, or his confiding to his friend (Rajpal Yadav) about his illness, or his scenes with his doctor, Boman Irani. Akshaye definitely shows a flair for humour. Alas, had he had a script hilarious enough.

Ayesha Takia plays a textbook goody-goody girlfriend of the hero. She merely ends up looking bubbly and shows a bit of histrionic in the second half.

Mallika Sherawat does what she is good at. She sizzles, shows her skin and keeps drooling on the hero.

Aftab Shivdasani stays mostly on the sidelines. Sunil Shetty and Boman Irani hardly make any impact, while Rajpal Yadav is irritating at times.

To sum it up, ‘Shaadi Se Pehle’ is just a timepass entertainer.

By Aparajita Ghosh
Film critic, ApunKaChoice.Com