Tag Archive: Music


Pop! goes my heart…

There was a time when popular music in India also meant Indi-pop, with its own star system and billboard chartbusters. But no sooner was the genre coming of age, it vanished into oblivion, writes Jaya Biswas

Those in their late twenties or early thirties surely wouldn’t have forgotten those evenings when we would it take a little break in between our homework and dinner to watch Chitrahaar, on Doordarshan on Wednesdays at 8:30 in the evening, which was popular because it aired a bouquet of songs from both old and upcoming films. There were no trailers or teasers back then on television so an odd song was often the only sneak peek at a forthcoming film, a peek that the nation seemed to wait for.
Every Wednesday, with baited breath we waited for Chitrahaar. Like much of the offerings on the state run channel, it was shoddily produced and often half-a-song would be edited out to make way for adverts/ news bulletins. But in the difficult and oh-so-far-way 1980s Chitrahaar, since it didn’t have to match steps with satellite music channels, was oh-so-very welcome.
But the early 1990s were a defining period for the Chitrahaar generation. We witnessed the emergence of yet another musical countdown show which made an entire generation dance to its tunes. Our loyalties almost unflinchingly shifted to Superhit Muqabala, aired on the newly launched DD Metro which promised to be more urbane than the staid and Bharatiya DD National. And it was here, in this show, more brazen than DD and more slickly produced that we first caught Alisha Chinai crooning to a shrill Made in India for a breathtakingly handsome Milind Soman. The song caught the generation as if by the collar and became the unofficial anthem of young India.
The story of the ascent of Indi-pop would remain incomplete without mentioning Biddu Appaiah, more popularly Biddu. An Indian-British music producer, composer, song-writer and singer, he not only produced and composed many such hit records worldwide, the credit goes mostly to him for managing to create a non-filmi niche in the 1990s. It was Biddu who made the Indian audience savour the real taste of pop with Pakistani singers Nazia Hassan and Zoheb, a sibling duo whose records, produced by Biddu, sold millions of copies. Nazia and Zoheb were Pakistani singers from Karachi. The group initially gained prominence with their single Aap Jaisa Koi was then featured as a soundtrack for Feroz Khan-Zeenat Aman starrer Qurbani. The song was also part of the group’s debut album Disco Deewane, released in 1981 by Biddu. The album became a best-seller. It also changed trends of music in Pakistan and was the first South Asian album that was also a hit in Brazil, Russia, South Africa and Indonesia. The duo released their second album Boom Boom in 1982 which was also the soundtrack for the Bollywood film Star, made in 1982, starring Kumar Gaurav, Rati Agnihotri, Raj Kiran and Padmini Kolhapure.
Made in India (1995), composed by Biddu, went on to become one of the highest selling pop albums of its times and Alisha, who had made some name years ago singing in Tarzan, became a household name. Biddu, also composer of the Boom Boom track, featuring the then newly minted Anupama Verma made many a heart go aflutter.
Indi-pop or Indian pop music, notwithstanding the distaste that lovers of western pop showed for its denizens, had started taking shape as a subculture. Bollywood was of course there while a singing culture with pan-Indian appeal, started to evolve outside it and very quickly too. 
Next, Biddu turned his attention to Hindi vocalist Shweta Shetty, both writing and producing the Johnny Joker album in 1993. In 1996, Biddu backed another brother-sister duo with Shaan (Shantanu Mukherjee) and Sagarika Mukherjee, producing the album Naujawan. Biddu spent the rest of the 1990s working with various musicians. Into the new millennium, he produced two hit albums with Sansara, Yeh Dil Sun Raha Hai and Habibi.
Biddu was almost a one-man army for the first few years when Indi-pop gained in prominence. But more than just the score, other factors also came into making it popular — creative videos, peppy music, pretty girls and a new group of talented singers. One must remember that Bollywood was on an overdose of Bappi Lahiri and late Laxmikant-Pyarelal, both insufferably kitschy, throughout the late 1980s. While Bollywood turned a new chapter with Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak and Maine Pyar Kiya, Indi-pop emerged as the music for the nightlife — groovy and clever melange of Indian folk and popular tunes with peppy beats and often heady rap especially of the Baba Sehgal variety in Thanda Thanda Pani. Pop music had arrived and by the time satellites TV invaded the drawing rooms, India finally had its own divas and icons slowly but steadily eating up most of Channel V and MTV’s airtime.
In fact, music videos in the country made a splash with Indi-pop. Film music gave little scope to do videos and Indi-pop took the opportunity to make expensive and often experimental (by Indian popular standards) videos, thereby managing to hold on to the increasingly remote-happy, diminishing attention induced viewership.
Indi-pop soon, perhaps too quickly, touched its pinnacle with artistes like Anaida, Lucky Ali, Mehnaz, Daler Mehndi, Leslie Lewis, Raageshwari, Ali Haider, Ila Arun, Shaan, Anaida, Asha Bhosle, Anamika, Sonu Niigaam, Shubha Mudgal, KK, Babul Supriyo, Shankar Mahadevan and bands such as Euphoria, Silk Route, Stereo Nation, Aryans making Indi-pop a convenient money-minting option with albums sales soaring higher and higher.
Anaida’s ouvre was in churning out a strong storyline in the song, well-choreographed sequences, and tight editing with an eye for the over-all impact. Even ace choreographer Shiamak Davar and superstar Amitabh Bachchan joined the league with their songs Jaane Kisne and Ek Rahein Eer Ek Rahein Beer… respectively, also remembered for the brilliantly choreographed videos. Another big hit on the small screen was Malaika and Jas Arora in Malkit Singh’s music video Gud Naal Ishq Mitha.
Actress-singer Suchitra Krishnamoorthi doled out hit albums like Dole Dole and Dum Tara. Ghazal singer Hariharan and singer-composer Leslie Lewis joined hands to form their unique band Colonial Cousins, in 1996. They fused Indian and Western musical genres which were instantly lapped up by the listeners. Their eponymous debut album broke all records including hitting platinum sales in India. The duo also won the MTV Asia Viewer’s Choice Award and went on to bag the US Billboard Viewer’s Choice Award. The album had two major hit singles, Krishna and Sa Ni Dha Pa; their videos repeatedly playing on various music channels.
Shweta Shetty came up with another one in the year 1998 named Deewane To Deewane Hai. Her album became a huge success and her gravel voice and come-hither-sexiness seem to spill out of the television. 
Siblings Shaan and Sagarika hit the jackpot with the remix of Disco Deewane, followed by Roop Tera Mastana and Love-o-logy. Sagarika released her solo albums Maa and It’s All About Love. Few years later, Shaan scored big with Tanha Dil and Tishnagi.
Baba Sehgal, who is credited as the first Indian rapper, shot to fame with Manjula, Thanda Thanda Pani and Aaja Meri Gadi Mein Baith Ja in the mid-1990s. But he went on a world tour and by the time he settled down again no Indi-pop was left. He turned to playback singing and acting.
Around the same time we saw yet another bunch of singers like Daler Mehndi and Sukhbir who made us sample the heady flavours of Punjab. Daler Mehndi switched from classical music to pop, and in 1995 his first album Bolo Ta Ra Ra… was the best selling non-soundtrack album in Indian music history. He received the Award for Voice of Asia International Ethnic and Pop Music Contest in 1994. He earned Channel V’s Best Male Pop Singer Award, which he received in 1996 for Dar Di Rab Rab and in 1997 for Ho Jayegi Balle Balle.
Sukhbir’s unique Bhangra songs were a fusion of Bhangra with rap, techno and reggae. In Oi Triesto (2002), his music was complemented by Spanish and Portuguese rhythms, while he also uses instruments like tablas, congos, guitars and keyboards. He also stated once that Daler Mehndi and Malkit Singh were his biggest competition in the Punjabi music market.
In 2000, Asha Bhosle teamed up with Adnan Sami to release a collection of love songs named Kabhi To Nazar Milao. The music was also composed by Adnan. The album became an instant blockbuster and topped the Indipop charts for most of 2001. Two songs from that album — Kabhi To Nazar Milao, whose music video featured model Aditi Gowitrikar and Lift Karaa De whose music video starred Amitabh Bachchan — became immensely popular.
Sonu Niigaam was perhaps the only singer who could successfully juggle between film playbacks and private albums. His list of non-film popular albums includes Deewana (1999), followed by Jaan, Mausam, Kismat, Yaad and Chanda Ki Doli (2005) — most of which topped the charts.
But sooner than later Indi-pop came to an abrupt, and as we now know, a definitive end. Actress-singer Suchitra Krishnamoorthi had even said that the decline of pop spelled the death of her music career.
Mohit Chauhan, now a popular playback singer and once a part of music band Silk Route, rues, “Music companies are to be blamed which simply refuse to produce Indi-pop albums in fear of incurring huge loss due to piracy. Otherwise, there is no dearth of talent or listerners.”
Suneeta Rao, once famous for her Pari Hoon Main, released her last album Waqt in 2008 which sank. Alisha, like Shweta Shetty tried making a comeback to the Indi-pop scene with Vouz Soulement in 2003. But after that failed, she went back to doing film playback. And then she struck gold with Kajra Re (Bunty aur Babli in 2005). Alisha won several awards for this song and has since scored several hits.
So, what really went wrong? According to music critics and singers, film music itself went pop and Indi-pop lost its musical exclusivity, definition and identity. Almost 20 years down the line, the concept of Indi-pop may sound worn-out and overdone, but we do carry its essence in our hearts! Those who were better performers in the Indi-pop genre — singers, video-makers, arrangers and choreographers — made a quiet but effective move towards Bollywood. And those were there for publicity and money, faded away.
Indi-pop had a short life. Perhaps because Bollywood proved to be too big to take on! Perhaps Bollywood itself accommodated that kind of music. The item number for example, remains a kind of an offshoot of Indi-pop. Many films now shoot promotional videos to go with promotional music. Is it not a legacy of Indi-pop? Perhaps it is. Or may be with the coming of a new breed of talented and smart musicians — from AR Rahman to Santanu Moitra, from Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy to Pritam — Bollywood music itself became varied, tracing influences to not only music forms in India but often outside. Somewhere down the line, Indi-pop lost the plot.
Though choreographer-singer Ganesh Hegde claims to have brought the pop music scenario with his latest album, Let’s Party, could we really forget Lucky Ali’s O Sanam Mohabbat Ki Kasam… or Pankaj Udhas’s Aur Ahista Kijiye Baatein… or Ali Haider’s Purani Jeans aur Guitar? If not, then that’s the take away from a decade of what was born and died young as Indi-pop!

Diganta Guha

Bollywood’s famous music director Ehsaan Noorani of (Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy fame), was seen in Kolkata, recently, for an event. This year will be a busy one for the trio. They have scored music for a number of big releases and have also composed the theme song De Ghumake for Cricket World Cup 2011. And now, Ehsaan is trying his hands at something different.
He is going to launch his signature line of guitars soon. Talking about it, Ehsaan could not hide his excitement. “I think it’s a big achievement for a musician. Thanks to Jasbeer Singh, the India distributor of the Fender line of guitars, I got this opportunity,” he said.
“I have been in this industry for quite some time now. I have done well, received global recognition. Jasbeer proposed that I launch my own line of guitars. Fender is one of the biggest brands of guitars in the world and is used by all leading musicians,” he said adding it was not an easy process. “There were lots of meetings before the deal finally worked out,” Ehsaan said. 
The musician-cum-composer confirmed that this will be purely a commercial line and he will go all out to promote it.
So what is happening on the Bollywood front? “We have our hands full. Right now the music of Patiala House is out. Then we have Don 2, Chittagong, a British film West is Best, Zoya Akhtar’s Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara and many more,” said Ehsaan. He is also meeting artists outside Bollywood and working on building global collaborations.
We have seen music, director teams parting ways but Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy have been going strong and there has never been any news about infighting or problem between them. What is the secret? “We love our work and our entire concentration remains on coming up with good music. We don’t have time for petty bickering. The moment politics creeps in, complications arise,” said Ehsaan.
Bollywood music has undergone tremendous changes over the years. Ehsaan said change was for the better. “There has been a lot of improvement in this field, production wise, technologically,” said the composer. What about hordes of new singers trying to get a foothold in Bollywood? “It’s good since everybody has something new to offer,” he added.
 What about the music scenario in Bengal? “I have followed some rock numbers from Bengal. There are many musicians from Kolkata on my Facebook list of friends. We were supposed to work with Rituparno Ghosh. But somehow it didn’t work out,” Ehsaan signed off.

 

 

Diganta Guha

 
Veteran playback singer Kavita Krishnamurthy was in town recently to perform at a concert organised by the Saradha Group of Companies. Excerpts:

There is no dearth of item songs now in Bollywood, but you are the pioneer of such numbers…
I wouldn’t call myself a pioneer. Yes I did sing songs like Hawaa hawaai, Jumma Chumma and Tu cheez badi hai mast mast. I believe those songs had better lyrics. Today’s songs just come and go, at least I can’t recall the lyrics and the antaras. 

How do you see the playback scenario these days?
Well, it’s always important for a singer to walk with time. I am not the type that says, “Oh! The old songs of my generation were far better.” You have to accept what we have today. But I do concede that there has been deterioration in terms of lyrics. We have grown up listening to Majrooh Sultanpuri and many other fabulous writers. Now we have just Gulzar Saab and Javed Akhtar. There is too much orchestra used nowadays. 

You have sung a number of Bengali songs. You should be happy to know that songs of Bengali films are again becoming popular.
That’s very encouraging. The songs are much better and more meaningful. I recently sang for a Rabindrasangeet album called Bhalobashi. It’s doing well and I have plans to sing a lot more in Bengali. 

What keeps you busy nowadays?
I am doing a lot of projects that are ‘non-filmi’. The film offers I get are all inconsequential songs. There are lots of new music directors and lyricists who have come up, but their offers are not interesting enough. But music is an integral part of my life and I am keeping that alive by singing in concerts and  for projects like spiritual albums. 

I know it’s tough, but if you are to list three of your favourite numbers, which ones would those be?
My selection doesn’t depend on the song’s popularity. It has something to do with my sentiment. There are certain songs that changed my career graph and I am very sensitive towards them. I like       Hawaa hawaai, the songs of 1942 A Love Story and of course the numbers in Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam. I would rate the songs of HDDCS as really special because they were so different and there was so much of variety in them.  
 
Who are your favourite singers from the current crop?
They are all good individually. I like Shaan, Sunidhi Chauhan, Shreya Ghoshal and KK.

What is it like to perform in Kolkata?
It’s always a wonderful experience because there is a strong culture of music here. Kolkata genuinely loves good music. It is always heartwarming to perform here.

 

 

The latest Coke ad, with the classic track, Aaj Ki Raat… has caught the imagination of Gen-Y

 

Ashok Chatterjee

Retro ads are gaining popularity with the Indian marketing gurus. Songs from the 1970s and 1980s are making a comeback in Indian commercials. Vintage is special. Success of Akshay Kumar with his printed shirt and big collars in Action Replayy and Ajay Devgn in Once Upon a Time in Mumbaai are enough evidence of the retro making a big comeback in our lives. Advertising is known to capture the pulse of the people. So, the numbers Jata Kahan Hai deewane for the Coca Cola ad, Aaj Pehali Tarikh Hai for the Cadbury Dairy milk chocolate ad or Genelia D’Souza’s New Fanta ad surely grab eyeballs. The latest Coke ad, with the retro number, Aaj Ki Raat… has caught the imagination of gen-next.
The advertisers are not only scoring high with the catchy songs but also leaving no stones unturned in recreating the perfect look and feel. Take for example the Vivel Deo ad, which shows a boy and a girl playing badminton in whites, recreating the song, Dhal Gaya Din, from the Jeetendra-Leena Chandravarkar starrer Humjoli or the Himalaya Face Wash ad where the girl dresses up in retro style or even the Biskfarm cookies ad, where a strong retro concept of patriarchal society comes across with the famous dialogue ‘Pran nath, aap kya kha rahe ho?’.
Shah Rukh Khan has also changed his looks for Dish TV advertisement. He is seen as a 75-years-old man in the ad. He looks cool with a stick.
The ads of the late 70s or 80s still have their brand recall. It is hard to forget the Bajaj bulb ad with the jingle, Jab main chota ladka tha, badi shararat karta tha. Meri chori pakdi jati, Jab roshan hota Bajaj — now, there lies the charm. When ad agencies create ads, their goal is to make a commercial that is catchy and memorable. The use of jingles is to make it linger in your head and remind you of the product.
Another television commercial, which is still fresh in our memories, is the Vicks ki goli lo khich khich door karo number. The ad caught on with the audience so much that it led to a rise in sales of Vicks cough drops. If these were the ‘funny’ ads on TV, the classic Raymonds ad which showed the ‘complete man’ still rings in our head. Advertisers feel the same old magic can be recreated with the new products as well. As ad-man Prahlad Kakkar explains, “I’ve been observing this trend for some time now. It all started with the Close-up toothpaste ad, followed by Fevicol ads and the Cadbury ads. The retro theme breaks the clutter. But if the theme is used in abundance, then it becomes a clutter in itself,” he says.
“In advertising, we have been neglecting the Silvers (the silver jubilee club). Since a healthy 35 per cent of the elderly are the target audience, these retro ads not only make the elderly nostalgic but also get the youngsters notice it. We must always remember the moot point of selling a product is to hook the viewers. And these ads are doing it fine,” Kakkar adds.
But senior account executive, Versus Communications, Rahul Mehra, who also is the manager of music band, Insomnia, begs to differ. He says, “Corporate houses are trying to woo the youth. The IT industry has altered the audience base for products. Youngsters, just out of college are earning high salaries these days, working in BPOs. They constitute a major segment of the Indian population. And this population still loves to listen to ABBA and the Final Countdown for entertainment.”
If Jumping Jack Jeetendra once ruled the popularity charts, today Imran Khan is ruling the roost. The latest Coke shadow ad, features the Break Ke Baad hero Imran doing funny act with the classic Aaj Ki Raat playing in the background. No surprises, it is the most downloaded ad today. The song takes you back to the 1973 film, Anamika.
Talking about the success of the jingles, music composer and audio producer, Drono Acharya, says, “One of the major reasons for the success of these songs is the melody. But the advertisements can go wrong if they make mockery of these golden classics.”
Bollywood singer, Kailash Kher, who has many popular jingles under his belt, refuses to believe that retro is the latest craze for ad filmmakers. “I cannot endorse the view. In order to be different, some advertisers go back to the past for inspiration. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t,” says Kher. 
The person behind successful ad campaigns like the Kamasutra condoms and Emami Fair & Handsome, Alyque Padamsee sums up the phenomenon. He says, “It is just a fad. Agencies copy any success formula. The industry is full of copycats. If one retro-themed ad clicks with the audience, everyone follow suit. Personally, I want to be original,” he clarifies.
Fad or not, retro ads surely have got everyone talking.

Supreeta Singh
Imran Zahid is the latest blue-eyed catch of the Mahesh Bhatt camp. The owner of a media academy in Delhi, Zahid’s Bollywood debut will see him playing the role of assassinated political leader Chandrashekhar Prasad in Bhatt’s next venture Chandu. The film is supposed to hit the floors next month and is scheduled for a late 2011 release. Excerpts from a telephonic conversation:

Tell us something about your background. How did acting happen?
I am originally from Jharkhand. I came to Delhi in 1996 to study at  Hindu College. As for acting, it came naturally to me. I was always   interested in acting. In fact, theatre is my passion. While In college, I acted in a lot of street plays and have also trained under veteran theatre director, Arvind Gaur. The whole idea of a nine to five job never appealed to me.

How did you bag this role?
I was in Dubai for a media workshop when I met Mahesh Bhatt. This was four years ago and our rapport grew over time. Mahesh Saab wanted a new face for the role of Chandrasekhar Prasad and he chose me. Although I have always wanted to be an actor, I could never allow myself to go begging for roles. So, when Mahesh Saab offered me this role, that too without even an audition, I had to grab it. Otherwise, I was happy running my media academy.

Chandrasekhar Prasad was a Marxist leader in Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) who was brutally shot in Bihar’s Siwan in 1997. How did you prepare for the role?
In recent years, there have been very few leaders with such charisma as Chandrasekhar Prasad. As I researched about him, I was impressed by his resolve to bring about social change in Bihar. Hailing from Jharkhand myself, I could immediately relate to him and his predicament. He was shot dead while delivering a speech in his native town, Siwan, and till date his murderers have not been brought to book. Cases like those of Jessica Lall and Priyadarshini Mattoo are freak accidents but there’s such hue and cry over them. On the contrary, Chandrasekhar’s death  was a deliberate attempt by some power clique, which has recieved no attention. Today, the likes of Sachin Tendulkar, Shah Rukh Khan, and Sania Mirza are crowned youth icons. But Chandrasekhar is no less an iconic figure because he fought against all odds and gave up his own dreams for the cause of his state and country.

How are you preparing for the role?
Chandu is not a period film at all, as it is rooted in the current political scenario and that is what makes it different. It was only 14 years ago that Chandrasekhar Prasad was shot dead. His friends and relatives are still there. I often visit JNU and spend time with his friends and colleagues. The interesting thing is that the man still has a presence in the university. Students have not forgotten him. Besides, I am reading books on Communism and sifting through Prasad’s personal letters and writings to gain an insight into his psyche.

This is your first film and that too with Mahesh Bhatt.How is he as a person and as a director?
Mahesh Saab is the only person I am comfortable with in this industry. He is my friend, philosopher and guide. I was an ordinary person hailing from a small city. Can you imagine what I must be feeling now? I am indebted to him for giving me such a break. People are already talking about me. I am in the limelight. I have surrendered myself to Mahesh Saab. I will always follow his advice.

Jaya Biswas

Film: Tees Maar Khan
Director: Farah Khan
Cast: Akshay Kumar, Katrina Kaif, Akshaye Khanna, Ali Asgar, Apara Mehta, Aman Verma, Murli Sharma, Sachin Khedekar
Rating: Poor

As the title suggests, the film is about the sharpest conman of all Tabrez Mirza Khan alias Khanon mein Khan’ Tees Maar Khan (Akshay Kumar). Here Akshay is a master criminal who learns to steal even before he is born, the foetus fed on crime thrillers his pregnant mother watched.
What begins as a regular comedy gradually becomes the story of the great Indian train robbery undertaken by Tees Maar Khan for the conjoined conmen, played by MTV’s twin baldies, Raghu and Rajiv. They assign Khan to retrieve their loot which the government has seized. Khan pretends to shoot a patriotic train robbery film, Bharat Ka Khazana, while managing the act for real. He also picks a village and casts its inhabitants to act in his film; bluffs them into participating in a crime.
And in all this, Tees Maar Khan deceives the audience by claiming to be a funny movie. If you’ve seen the promos, you know the brand of humour (or the lack of it). And when it comes to the business of conning, it’s only talk and no shock! Though the first half is bearable, the second half becomes Tashan — Part 2, if you know what I mean.
The film’s story, put together by Farah’s husband Shirish Kunder, is a complete mess. But you can’t blame him either. After all, he had to take care of background score, screenplay, story, editing to refreshments on the sets and God knows what else, evident from the credits.
The dialogues written by Shirish Kunder and Ashmith Kunder desperately try to be humorous but fall flat at most instances. Sample this: Tube se nikli huyi toothpaste aur Tees Maar Khan ki di huyi zubaan kabhi wapas nahin jaati or Mere nange haath tumhare nange gaal par — you don’t expect such scary lines in a Farah Khan film.
There is a lot of screaming, grimacing and heaving. Here is an example of the level of the jokes — Khan as Hollywood director calls himself Manoj ‘Day’ Ramalan (Grrrr…)
The eponymous role is custom-made for Akshay Kumar and while he plays it effortlessly, he is clearly getting repetitive in his comic act (a concoction of Hera Pheri 1 & 2, Tashan, Khiladi series et al).
Akshaye Khanna as Aatish Kapoor, an Oscar-hungry actor, whose only mission in life is to groove on the Day-Ho number (akin to Anil Kapoor’s joyous leap on Jai-Ho when he was called to receive one of the Oscars for Slumdog Millionnaire), is brilliant. He is expected to act terribly and he does that with such perfection, that it gets on your nerves.
Farah’s fascination for Manoj Kumar (remember Om Shanti Om controversies?) continues in this one too. It’s high time the filmmaker realises that spoofs don’t work — not always!
Composer duo Vishal-Shekhar’s music has mass appeal. As Khan’s girlfriend in the film, Anya (Katrina Kaif) is categorically roped in only for her sex-appeal and she has oodles of it. Anya, a struggling actress is also cast by Khan in his fake film and her role in it is as questionable as her role in TMK. But Farah Khan’s raunchy choreography of the item number, Sheila Ki Jawani, portrays Kat at her sexiest best. Apara Mehta is a cheap imitation of Kirron Kher in Farah’s previous film Om Shanti Om.
Sachin Khedekar, Aman Verma and Murli Sharma as police officers are hardly amusing on screen. Salman Khan shows his ‘jalwa’ yet again in a cameo. TMK may take a smashing opening at the box office, courtesy Sheila and her jawani, but there is every chance of it fizzling out soon.
Though funny in bits and pieces, too much of hamming makes it a boring watch.

ALSO READ REVIEW: BAND BAAJA BAARAT

Diganta Guha
Film: Toonpur Ka Superherro
Director: Kireet Khurana
Cast: Ajay Devgn, Kajol, Tanujaa, Raza Murad and Mukesh Tiwari
Rating: Good

Ajay Devgn is an actor who is never short of energy. If on one hand he tries a Golmaal, he is not scared to be the maverick gangster in Once Upon A Time in Mumbaai. It is not at all surprising that his zeal and hunger for variety continues even after spending 17-18 years in the industry. 
In Toonpur Ka Superherro, he takes to animation. He is a superhero who fights for a cause on behalf of the residents of Toonpur. And guess what: all the residents are animation characters. Toonpur… is a brave effort on the part of Devgn and director Kireet Khurana.
And it certainly has a lot in it to attract kids. The best part of the movie is that even elders can enjoy it even though it tends to get stereotypical at times. And when it is an animation film obviously it will have a lot of humour and innocuous spoofs on Bappi Lahiri and Kareena Kapoor are worth mentioning.
More than the performances of the actors, it is essential to talk of the technical aspect of the film which is the most noteworthy feature of Toonpur…. In terms of plot (Khurana and Raagi Bhatnagar), it is simple and all about the good vs bad. But, the glossy look of the film and the animation techniques used are worth remembering. The action sequences are the best part of the movie thanks to action director Jack Gill. The stunts and fights are depicted with perfection, specially when a human character (Devgn) is in the thick of things along with animated characters.
An animation film depends a lot on dialogues and a screenplay that the audience can relate to. In this case dialogue writer Farooqi and Bhatnagar deserve a mention. Devgn does a decent job as does Kajol. It is also great to see Tanujaa back on screen after ages.
So, what are its chances at the box-office? The much-hyped Tees Maar Khan can cut into Toonpur…business. The two films are entirely different and so is the audience each is catering to.
Sounak, a six-year old boy was all smiles after coming out of the theatre. “Maa, I will watch the film again. Let’s watch it today only.”
Overall, the film should do decent business at the box-office, if it doesn’t then our indifference towards unique attempts will be vindicated. It’s funny and worth enjoying.

 

 

 

Supreeta Singh

Film: No Problem

Director: Anees Bazmee

Cast: Anil Kapoor, Paresh Rawal, Sanjay Dutt, Suneil Shetty, Akshaye Khanna, Sushmita Sen, Kangana Ranaut, Neetu Chandra

Rating: Poor

The first thing that would come to your mind after watching No Problem is a series of questions. For example, why did Anees Bazmee make this film? Why was it released for public viewing? And if it was released for public viewing, why did I have to go and torture myself with such utter nonsense? The film is an absolute no-brainer which is sure to win the ‘worst film in 2010’ award. It falls under the category of ‘comedy’ and it will make you laugh due to its incomprehensible sequence of events. The plot is as convoluted as its execution. Yash (Sanjay Dutt) and Raj Ambani (Akshaye Khanna) are two small-time thieves who rob a bank in a remote village of South Africa and flee to Durban. The bank manager, Jhandulal (Paresh Rawal) is forced to follow them. In Durban, there is a nincompoop senior inspector, Arjun (Anil Kapoor). His wife suffers from split personality and therefore has two names, Kajal and Kamini (Sushmita Sen). She hates her husband because he is such a dim-wit. There is an international criminal, Marcos (Suneil Shetty) and his team of dumb crooks. There is also a corrupt politician. The story revolves around robberies, murders and a spate of unnecessary confusions that would make you lose the thread of the plot. Anees Bazmee has been able to deliver a film that has nothing going for it. The script is inane and dialogues are meaningless. There is not a single joke or incident that would tickle your funny bone. Although the film boasts of a huge star-cast, yet none of them make an impact. Sanjay Dutt and Sushmita Sen look old and tired. Sushmita’s Kajal and Kamini are both forgettable. Bazmee has failed to tap Suneil Shetty and Paresh Rawal’s comic timing and acting prowess. Anil Kapoor is silly to the core. Kangana Ranaut provides the only comic relief with her tasteless styling and costumes, atrocious expressions and incorrect pronunciations. Neetu Chandra as the hot arm-candy and companion of Marcos is perhaps the only bright spot. Neither the music nor the cinematography lifts the mood. If you are unfortunate enough to watch this film, then a couple of things will make you suspend your disbelief. In random order: there are two talking gorillas in the film who come to Durban all the way from a South African jungle to save Yash and Raj in the middle of a fight. Suneil Shetty’s name Marcos is pronounced differently by the different characters in the film which seems to test your hearing ability. During an encounter with the criminals, Arjun is shot seven times. Two bullets get lodged in his stomach. Doctors warn that they will roam around his body and make him laugh anytime anywhere. The film’s title is nothing but an irony.

 

Jaya Biswas

Film: Break Ke Baad
Cast: Deepika Padukone, Imran Khan, Sharmila Tagore, Shahana Goswami, Yudishtir Urs, Lilette Dubey, Naveen Nischol
Director: Danish Aslam
Rating: Poor
 
Break Ke Baad, co-written and directed by debutant Danish Aslam starts off well. Over a long title sequence a la Main Hoon Na, we are introduced to the lead characters — Abhay, played by Imran Khan and Aaliya, played by Deepika Padukone — both Hindi film buffs who share their first kiss while watching Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. The first hour-and-a-half goes off like a breeze. But that’s about it.
Imran Khan re-enacts a character he’s essayed quite effectively in Jaane Tu…Ya Jaane Na. Here too, Abhay Gulati is a chocolate-faced epitome of patience. He is sensitive; the quintessential Mr Right putting up with his insolent, spoilt, self-centred childhood sweetheart, Aaliya. Imran is charming, but his character — that’s supposed to manipulate the audience into agreeing with him —doesn’t quite work.
Aaliya, who aspires to be an actress, calls her mom (Sharmila Tagore) by her first-name. She’s smart and manipulative who knows how to work her way to get what she wants. Aaliya’s ambition to follow her passion has everyone tied up in knots. Abhay’s mental conflict of working in his father’s business, despite hating it forms another angle to the story. So far, so good. 
Danish has tried too hard to be cool but the effort is glaring. The film’s weak foundation and lack of fun moments make it tedious. The concept of breaks-ups and relationships have been dealt with in far  more mature way in Love Aaj Kal (also starring Deepika Padukone), where the film starts with a break-up and then goes on to focus on the metamorphosis of the couple meeting new people, and so on. At least, it was entertaining, and the conflict in the film proceeded with ease.
The second half, where Aaliya enjoys her time at the university, making new friends and her over-protective boyfriend follows her to woo her back is too much to handle. Tired of a claustrophobic relationship, Aaliya wants space and a break-up! Abhay on the other hand disagrees.
The two friends (Shahana Goswami and Yudishtir) — the owners of the house where both Aaliya and Abhay put up in Australia, are just okay.
There is an overload of content advertising (Kit Kat chocolates, Volkswagen Beetle, Zen mobile). Nothwithstanding the mandatory big, fat Punjabi wedding, clips incorporated from Bollywood rom-coms like DDLJ, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai and other films, Aslam maintains a mellow vibe and concentrates on establishing the close friendship between Abhay (Imran Khan) and Aaliya (Deepika Padukone). And thank god for small mercies, their Hindu-Muslim status is never a subject of concern or speculation here.
It’s always nice to see veterans like Sharmila Tagore and Naveen Nischol lending some warmth to the otherwise insipid surroundings.
Lillete Dubey, as the coquettish single aunt with her tongue-in-cheek repartees, is too good.
The storytelling is superfluous, barely scratches the surface of the characters’ conflicts, preferring not to delve deeper and is unconvincingly served to the audience.
Watch it if you haven’t had enough of rom-coms already.

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Jaya Biswas

Film: Guzaarish
Cast: Hrithik Roshan, Aishwarya Rai, Aditya Roy Kapoor, Monikangana Dutta, Suhel Seth
Director: Sanjay Leela Bhansali
Rating: Very good
 

Hrithik fans can heave a sigh of relief and finally rejoice, for the actor has redeemed himself with his fantastic performance in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s latest offing, Guzaarish, after giving a box office dud like Kites.
Guzaarish is one of those films that is not just meant to entertain you, but makes an attempt to shake you by the intensity of its content. Like Bhansali’s Black, Guzaarish too strives to survive on the spirit of a central character — in this case a quadriplegic, whose life depends more on machines than anything else. Yet, the film tugs at your heartstrings because you can’t help but feel compassionate towards Ethan and his lifeless life. It is a simple story woven in a fascinating web of fervent sentiments, superb cinematography and interesting dialogues.
The film sees the return of one of the hottest pair in Bollywood — Hrithik Roshan and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan. Director Sanjay Leela Bansali is donning the director’s hat after three years, this time dealing with a sensitive subject like euthanasia or mercy killing.
Ethan Mascarenhas (Hrithik Roshan) used to be the best magician in town (Goa, to be precise). But a fatal accident left him paralysed and bedridden for life. But Ethan believes in the theory of ‘smile and the world smiles with you’; we see him hosting a radio show ‘Hello Zindagi’ (ironical indeed) where he spreads hope to listeners through his inimitable wit and humour. For 12-long-years, he’s being aided by a nurse, Sofia D’Souza (Aishwarya Rai Bachchan), who’s also his companion, caregiver and much more.
On the 14th anniversary of his accident, Ethan decides to make a petition to the court for euthanasia (which he humourously calls ‘Ethanasia’). This leaves his best friend and lawyer Devyani (Shernaz Patel) and Sofia in a frenzy. Meanwhile, a young lad Omar Siddiqui (Aditya Roy Kapoor) enters Ethan’s world with an earnest desire to learn magic from him. Impressed by Omar’s dedication to magic Ethan agrees to pass on his legacy to him.
The indoors as well as outdoors add so much to the film. There’s no refuting that cinematographer Sudeep K Chatterjee has created some really enthralling visuals that’s sure to stay with you for a very long time. The first half is breezy and you don’t realise when it gets over. The second half is a bit of a drag. Like Kal Ho Naa Ho, Guzaarish’s narrative is light-hearted with many funny moments. Sample this: Ethan says, ‘God pe bharosa hai, isiliye I am dying to meet him.’ Also, the scene in which Sofia gives Ethan a leg massage is hilarious.
The songs in Guzaarish are meaningful which seamlessly blend with the situations. Tera Zikr Hai Ya Itra Hai is exceptional while Udi is foot tapping.
Now let’s come to Bhansali’s recklessness. The film’s plot has an uncanny resemblance to the Spanish film, The Sea Inside (2004). Based on the real life story of a sailor-turned-poet Ramdon Sampredo, who became a quadriplegic following an accident, the film dwells on his three-decade long struggle to get the government grant him euthanasia. Sampredo, immaculately essayed by Spanish heartthrob Javier Bardem, had two women in his life, a lawyer and a nurse. One only wishes Bhansali had bothered to change the characters in this one. And not just the plot, few scenes where Hrithik is seen on a wheelchair staring at the sea is a straight lift from Bardem’s film. Again, the scene where Hrithik exhibits his magic tricks on stage is an exact copy of Christopher Nolan’s The Prestige.
Also the director must have decided to give his favourite theme ‘blue’ a break and opt for black and red instead, which again we see in opulence — be it Ash’s long frilly gowns, Hrithik’s performance attire or the stage backdrop. We don’t mind it at all!
A unique love story, passion in Guzaarish is expressed with subtle smirks and gentle smiles. Ash’s looks pretty in her classy dresses and aprons. The scene where he burst into a rapturous dance performance in a resto-bar is worth a mention. Suhel Seth as Ethan’s doctor and Nafisa Ali as Ethan’s mom do their parts well. Aditya Roy Kapoor is effortless. After Action Replayy and Guzaarish, this VJ-turned-actor is definitely making his presence felt.
As for Hrithik, Guzaarish is likely to act as the much-required springboard to bounce back.

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