Friday, February 13, 2009

Bollywood Hype x 3

Billu Barber (2009, Priyadarshan)

So much for the controversy regarding the title. Even though the title has the word "barber" in it, the film actually utilizes barely ten minutes of the character’s profession. Sure there are scenes in a barber shop but it could easily have been set in a chai stall or a corner store. There is a warm hearted story hidden in this film but like most bollywood films the final product is ruined because of needless songs and producer intervention. In this case since the producer is Shah Rukh Khan, the film ends up being an ode to a best of SRK’s filmi moments. In Billu Barber SRK plays Sahir Khan, a mega Bollywood star. Even though SRK takes on a different first name, he still manages to insert clips and posters from most of his films in Billu Barber and uses his “King Khan”. When he is not busy promoting himself, SRK also uses the film to clarify his positions regarding the rivalries with Aamir Khan and Akshay Kumar. It is hard to know if a different director would have had the strength to prevent SRK from hijacking the film and making it into a self-promotion tool. The only recent exception seems to be Shimit Amin whose Chak De India managed to prevent SRK from hogging the camera and gave the young actresses a chance to shine but there are plenty of other directors in Bollywood like Farah Khan, Aditya Chopra or Karan Johar who pander to SRK’s every need. It is unfortunate to see Priyadarshan’s name added to that list now.

Another disappointing aspect of the film is that Priyadarshan took the easy way out and borrowed elements from his Malamal Weekly film, another comedy set in a village and tried to implement a similar style of comedy with identical themed jokes. The only saving grace of the film is Irrfan Khan and a charming Lara Dutta. Even though all the songs are quite bad, Deepika Padukone looks stunning in the opening video. Ok, stunning does not do justice. She sizzles...while the rest of the film is stuck in averageness.

Rating: 5.5/10

Luck, by Chance (2009, Zoya Akhtar)

Over the last decade or so there have been quite a few films made about the cut throat and ruthless nature of the Bollywood film industry such as Rangeela, Main Bhi Madhuri Dixit Banna Chahti Houn, Om Shanti Om, Khoya Khoya Chand, Superstar, Bollywood Calling and King of Bollywood. These films were either in the form of a parody or even tried to show the serious side of things. Plus there were also two very good documentaries such as Bollywood Bound and Sunset Bollywood. Was there place for one more film to be added to this list? Zoya Akhtar thought so and decided to try her luck by setting her debut film about Bollywood’s film studio system. Unfortunately, her film has nothing new to add to the existing view of tinseltown. In fact, her film verifies all the cliches and images people have about Bollywood. There are some moments of genuine delight in the film but in the end Zoya takes the easy way out and reduces her film to a tabloid gossip tale of stardom and affairs. Sure there are some inside jokes and some real life Bollywood actors play a parody of themselves such as Sanjay Kapoor and Dimple Kapadia. But overall, the film is a run of the mill effort and not something one would expect from someone whose family has been involved with some memorable efforts in Indian cinema.

Rating: 7/10
Chandini Chowk to China (2009, Nikhil Advani)

Akshay Kumar’s Singh is Kinng was one of the most hyped Bollywood films of 2008 and it also turned out to be one of the worst films of 2008. And Akshay Kumar’s Chandini Chowk.. kicked off Bollywood’s 2009 calendar year with as much hype but thankfully the film is not as inept as Singh is Kinng was. Even though Chandini Chowk.. is B-grade film that brings back memories of the worst of Bollywood from the 1970’s and 80’s, the film does contain a few hilarious scenes where Akshay Kumar is able to show why he is the current comedic master in Bollywood.

Rating: 4/10

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