Shaitaan – Not quite Devil

Shaitaan is the new ‘film-made for critical applause’ from the dark stable of Anurag Kashyap. The film set against upper middle class young generation of today’s Bombay or Mumbai deals with drugs, smoking, alcohol and just every kink today’s youth has. The generation is fearless, mindless, easily enraged and at times rudderless. The movie directed by Bejoy Nambiar is actually an upgraded version of Anurag Kashyap’s debut unrelease film ‘Paanch’ made a decade earlier.

The actors are mostly unknown and somewhat amateurish which gives a genuine look to the whole act but also at times looks like they are hamming as one does in a drama school. Kalki is the NRI suffering from a mental trauma of losing her mother who moves to Mumbai with his father and step mother whom she dislikes. Here she meets up with gang of friends Karan, Dyshyant, Zubin and Tanya. Together they do everything what today’s young generation considers hip which is drugs, parties, alcohol abuse, late night drives and midnight buffets, stealing cough syrup from a chemist and semi-porn jokes. And then they get into trouble. To save themselves from that they commit more crime and enter an endless loop of crime and violence from where the only way out is to end it all. Rajeev Khandelwal is the fiery suspended cop investigating the crimes committed by this gang.

The movie begins haphazardly not establishing any character properly almost making us believe that this is another adaptation of popular ‘Dil Chahta Hai’ but only for few minutes, and then leads into fun and games and then the big crash. By the interval the movie has a clear plot established and looks interesting but then the 2nd half it loses the plot and it becomes a mindless scenes of running around, action and violence on repeat. The story loses its key plots and the end is very predictable and the movie just fizzles out like a soda bottle. The plot about Rajeev and his wife fighting and filing for divorce and then getting back together doesnt make any sense in the film. Incidentally Rajeev’s wife doesnt utter a single word in the film. Also the main crime committed by the young gang of running over innocent people is just forgotten in the end. There are quite a few plot holes and even geography of Mumbai is wrongly depicted and only a true Mumbaikar would understand that.  The police is portrayed as almost buffoonish and police commissioner asking a suspended cop to take up the case because he has ‘good network’ is ridiculous. The cop hardly uses his network and the case gets solved by itself actually. The movie clearly had a great potential but the maker tried to put every genre of film-making into it instead of making just a thriller. It seems that the director gave away the reins of the film to the DoP and the editor and action director. The central theme of ‘there is a devil deep inside all of us’ is actually forgotten by the end and as most characters attain redemption it actually proves that whatever the devil in you does, in the end always your good conscience wins !! If only the makers had concentrated on a proper story line rather then super slo-mo camera actions we would have got a better movie.

To do something different for the sake of doing different is what hurts the movie most.

Technically this film is right up there. The photogaphy and editing is top-notch. The impossible and sometimes weird camera angles, super slo-mo shots and playing with colors makes this film technically a superior film. Background score is effective and ‘Khoya Khoya Chand’ remix and ‘Pintya’ played during key chase-action scenes fits wonderfully. The DoP does a wonderful job in chase sequences as well.

Acting wise Rajeev Khandelwal tries to break his softy image and plays a tough cop and almost succeeds as well. He is not at his best but when you compare it with others in the film, he is the one holding the film. Kalki Koechelin has talent, no doubt and she does emote well too and she is the only one with a defined character. Kirti ,Shiv, Gulshan and Neil are the other actors who as I said earlier look amateurish at times. They are decent in most scenes  but ham up a lot in real important scenes. If only there were better actors !!. Rajat Barmecha in the cameo makes a fool of himself. Even veterans like Pavan Malhotra and Rajat Kapoor ham up.

Overall the movie incidentally loved by most critics would appeal to the urban young generation for the theme but cinematically its nothing great and almost disappointing. Of course its not half as bad as other movies doing the round so its definitely worth a watch.

My Ratings : 6.5/10 –  Urban youth – under 25- generation would love it. Watch it if you have nothing better to do.

Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara – Trailer

Here’s the awaited summer blockbuster. ‘Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara’ stars Hrithik Roshan, Farhan Akhtar, Abhay Deol Katrina Kaif and Kalki in a road movie set in Spain. The film directed by Zoya Akhtar relases on July 15 and promises lots of eye-candy, masala entertainment and youth centric theme of going on an all boys trip. Sounds suspiciously similar to first half of Dil Chahta Hai and Hollywood film Hangover. Hopefully Zoya Akhtar director of ‘Luck by Chance’ will not disappoint and it wont be a copy of any film we have seen but something original.

Spain countryside looks pleasant and the 3 stars shine along with both the female leads. It does indeed look an upmarket product.

Dum Maaro Dum – Lots of Smoke, too little Fire

This week’s latest Bollywood release is Dum Maaro Dum. The movie is a big film releasing after a long while and was eagerly looked forward to with its chartbusting song, cutting-edge promos and a drug-mafia story set in exotic Goa locales starring Abhishek Bachchan in a tough cop role out to clean the drug infested, mafia driven underworld of Goa.The film also stars Rana Daggubatti, Bipasha Basu, Pratiek and Aditya Pancholi amongst many others.

The film is set in Goa and here Goa is shown in a very different light from what we are used to seeing. Director Rohan Sippy has shown a realistic view of Goa unlike the fictitious view we get in past films. Goa shown here is neither the sweet romantic Goa of ‘Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa’ or the south bombayish view of Goa as in ‘Dil Chahta Hai’. Goa’s underbelly is exposed, its drug trade, local life and sun-kissed atmosphere is thoroughly captured. Beach, beautiful women, booze and drugs they form the identity of Goa.

The first half of the film is real breezy and sets up back-stories of various characters very nicely. The movie moves at a feverish pace and sets up the meeting of all its leads at the Goa airport, almost reminder of ‘Yuvaa’ in which 3 stories collide on a Kolkata bridge. The movie also tends to remind one of gritty cop drama ‘Sarfarosh’ to an extent. The thriller is very well written by Sridhar Raghavan, at least the first half,  however in the 2nd half of the film the writing goes a bit haywire.

The movie is about Police trying to clean up Goa from the clutches of  local and international Mafias acting in various parts of Goa, ruling their various fiefdoms with the power of drug money. Abhishek Bachchan with ‘nothing to lose’ cop is the fearless cop out to topple mafia lord Aditya Pancholi’s world. Prateik is the teenager with dreams and hope and love but caught in the mafia trap, he represents what Goa was before the drug money came in, soft, hopeful, dreamy, lazy and romantic. Rana Daggubatti who has lost his past girlfriend Bipasha Basu to the greed and lure of drug money is initially a mute spectator to the sorry tale the youth gone haywire. He later gets into the act along with ACP Kamath in the hunt for the master drug-pin Micheal Barbossa. Rana represents the Goa of today which has seen it all and continues to be see the same story unfold yet again and again. The second half of the film slightly disappoints as the suspense when revealed isn’t a big shocker but almost expected and almost all the twists can easily be predicted by the viewer. The film could have been much better if the second half was handled in a better way.

Abhishek Bachchan as Inspector Vishnu Kamath lives up to his role and how much ever his critics hate him, one has to agree that slightly crooked and touch cop acts suits him very well. Abhishek is a star who everybody loves to hate and dislike partly for no fault of his, partly due to the expectations people had in him and also partly due to his lazy selection of roles. But he lives upto the role here although he needed a much better conclusion to his role in the end. Slightly disappointing to see him not in focus at the end. Telugu star Rana Daggubatti as the local Goan singer Joki has a nice presence and easy on the eye to look but has similar expressions throughout. He does have a nice role too and by the end he becomes the central figure to the story.  Bipasha Basu as the girl gone the wrong path is okay and is almost a predictable act. Aditya Pancholi is nice as the Mafia boss Biscuta and he is seen on screen after a while. Prateik as the teenage is okay and his love story with Anaita Nair looks cute, but he quickly needs to re-invent himself or else he’ll be doing this same kind of roles all the time. Also he needs to do something about his squeaky voice !! Deepika Padukone in the much hyped and publicized ‘Dum Maaro Dum’ remix song looks drugged out, which of course suits the look of the song. Govind Namdeo and Muzzamil as cops are wonderful.

Technically the film is  excellent and is very well shot and edited. The entire look of the film is superb and suits the mood and story of the film. The background score is catchy and the songs are nice. The film is smartly shot and some of the scenes are indeed dark but overall Goa is shown in a different light altogether. The concept and core idea is nice but script and screenplay goes wrong in the later portion and the ending doesn’t satisfy you completely with several loose ends. It could have been a huge bonfire in the making but leaves us only with lots of smoke.

Dum Maaro Dum is certainly a one time watch.

My Ratings –  7/10 –  Entertaining watch. Not great but good enough.