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Akthar takes advantage of your expectations...
First of all, I went into this movie as a HUGE fan of the original and knowing every detail of it inside-and-out. Secondly, by the time I went to see the remake, I had already come to terms and gotten over with the fact that Shahrukh couldn't hold a candle to Amitabh and it was a disgrace that he was given the opportunity to reprise one of Amitabh's best roles ever.
Likewise, I had heard the new soundtrack enough to come to terms with the fact that I liked the original versions of "Yeh Mera Dil" and "Khaike Paan Banaras Wala" better than the remakes.
With those three things said, and BECAUSE of those things specifically, I thoroughly ENJOYED the new movie! What a great ride! Because my expectations of Shahrukh were low to begin with, I wasn't set up for disappointment -- even though admittedly, every dialogue that he copied from the original warranted a comparison to Amitabh and he fell short. But because I expected that, it didn't undermine my movie watching experience.
But secondly, and more importantly, BECAUSE I knew the original so well, the few plot twists and changed elements in the story made MUCH more of an impact on me because whenever I thought I knew what would happen, I was totally thrown for a loop -- and THAT's what made this movie great.
Farhan Akthar definitely went for this specific niche of the audience and achieved this brilliantly. If you're not as familiar with the original, you'll probably still find this movie good (if you like the genre, of course) but if possible, go see the remake AFTER familiarizing yourself with all the nuances of the original.
It'll make the ride of this movie all the more great!
Garam Masala (2005)
The Priyadarshan/Paresh Rawal combo has been golden before with the likes of HERA PHERI and HUNGAMA so I went into the movie (at an Indian multiplex) with high hopes, especially after the slick promos. Unfortunately, like HULCHUL before it, this movie was a huge disappointment.
Like others have commented, the premise of the movie, which was already stale to begin with, just gets stretched on and on without any development or additional layering. After a while, you just want the movie to end so you can go home (if I had been watching this at home, it would have been much easier to cut my losses). Akshay Kumar's performance is average at best and John Abraham should not try doing comedy again. The comedy aspects of the movie overall were pretty week. I only remember giggling like twice the entire movie. Definitely no sidesplitting belly laughs that consumed me in HERA PHERI or even to a lesser extent in AWARA PAAGAL DEEWANA. Paresh Rawal had a few of his expected classic moments, but overall, because his role and character wasn't given much room to grow, he didn't make much of an impact in this film.
Neha Dhupia, who makes only an appearance in the movie, was fun to look at while she was on screen. And some of the songs are fun. Especially the opening and closing songs of ADA and KISS ME BABY, respectively. Otherwise, you're better off just passing on this movie.
Why aren't there more Bollywood movies like this?
Terrific movie! And completely unexpected with unforgettable performances from Antara Mali and Rajpal Yadav. People do not give Antara Mali enough credit and type cast her as a wanna be Urmila Matondkar and Toy of Ram Gopal Varma. I've not seen her latest offerings yet (Nach and Gayab) which I understand are the eye of storms, however, she did her homework for this role of an innocent and naive village girl with huge aspirations and pulled it off perfectly.
Not to mention, she does a terrific Madhuri Dixit! I'm sure Mrs. Nene herself would approve
In the meantime, Rajpal Yadav brings a character to life that the audience can not help but identify with and root for. You really wish that his lovable underdog will get the girl! The cutesy chemistry of the two is enough to recommend this movie.
Add to this a refreshingly original storyline and Ram Gopal Varma's slick and tight style of film making, and you have a cute, feel good, and surprisingly fun movie to watch.
Now there's those Bachchan Bloodlines on Display!
Finally! A memorable Abhishek performance. The type expected of Amitabh's son by hardcore fans like myself when he came to Bollywood and we saw glimpses of in REFUGEE and never again. Reminiscent of the types of "Angry Young Man" performances such as in DEEWAR and ZANJEER that propelled his father to the top.
This movie is worth seeing for him alone in my opinion. Oh, and the song FANAA is perpetually stuck in my head. Sounds very Oakenfeld-ish.
On the flip-side, Vivek Oberoi is going in the other direction. After thoroughly dazzling me in his performances in COMPANY and then SAATHIYA, he's showing to be flat and one-dimensional.
Ajay Devgan was okay in his role but I think he could have done better, but I think that's because he's raised the bar with some terrific performances lately in movies such as COMPANY, DEEWANGEE, and KHAKEE. Still, I think he was miscast in this movie as a noble student leader. He's a bit too old to be a credible collegian.
As far as the actresses go, Rani Mukherjee did an excellent job playing her character, but I've been noticing that her roles of late are quite similar -- The nagging, mistreated, and argumentative wife/gf (SAATHIYA, CHALTE CHALTE).
KABHI KHUSHI KABHIE GHAM is probably the worst thing that ever happened to Kareena Kapoor as she seems to be perpetually stuck in the high maintenance, spoiled hot chick role.
Esha Deol has yet to give any sort of performance that leaves behind an impression on me.
Although this movie got very prolonged as well as ridiculously implausible (the fight on the bridge was ridiculous) toward the end, overall it's still a worthwhile view as Mani Rathnam makes a visually slick and well directed piece, as usual.
2001, A technical breakthrough in Bollywood
Like AKS and LAGAAN this year, ASOKA is brilliant technically. The cinematography. The art direction and period costumes. The audio and visual effects are up to par with Hollywood flicks. The use of background score and lighting. Overall production is very crisp.
Along with those other films, I think 2001 has been a watershed year in terms of Indian cinema advancement...kind of like 1999 was for Hollywood movies (THE MATRIX, JOHN MALKOVICH, SIXTH SENSE). Especially, when you put it into perspective of some of the really BAD and embarrasing films of the 80's that you wouldn't have dared show your non-Indian friends. Throw in films like GADAR and DIL CHATHA HAI...that were very good movies in different ways, and you have to start respecting the Bollywood Film Industry.
Definitely worth seeing on the big screen. Would've been REALLY cool if we could've seen it in IMAX format in NYC.
Storywise, this is the really the first big budget Indian Epic that I can remember...very strongly influenced by GLADIATOR. Based in another period (3rd Century BC), An heir to the throne is threatened by the presence of a more capable, beloved, and decorated military commander who he tries to get rid of by all means necessary -- eventually getting him exiled (of sorts) where he becomes a commoner. It had the aspects of a historical epic that you'd expect -- love, betrayal, war.
The storyline got lost at times during some non-essential, tangential, and unnecessarily stretched out segments and some aspects regarding the rivalry between Asoka and his older brother Susima is underdeveloped. The movie could have been much more effective if shortened (like GADAR and LAGAAN) without losing anything. In fact, doing so would probably make it much more appealing to a Western audience. But Shah Rukh pulled off the role of Asoka very well, weakening my argument that he's a one-dimensional actor. I didn't think Kareena was the best choice Kaulwaki....although I can't really think of many of today's actresses that would have done a good job (I think Sridevi in her prime would have been awesome). And who was this new actress that played Shah Rukh's Buddhist wife, Devi? Whoa. My cousin hit it dead on when she said that she (I just looked it up on the internet, her name is Hrishitaa Bhatt) looked like an Indian Alyssa Milano (who I was totally in love with when I was 12 years old during the 80's TV show Who's the Boss?). Okay, otherwise, she wasn't very compelling as an actress...but "she looked good!"
Overall, I really thought highly of this movie for it's technical and artistic content and I would recommend either watching it on the big screen or on DVD to really appreciate the best aspects. To watch it on one of those really grainy fourthhand pirated videotapes would be a waste...
Two thumbs Up! Waaaay Up! (written 7/21/01)
Okay, okay. Those of you who know me know I'm prone to hyperbole. You all know that, too. But I *just* finished watching the movie AKS, which just came out this week, on DVD and felt compelled to sit down and write about it. I would venture to say that this is possibly his most challenging role and phenomenal performance of his career (and yes I've seen DEEWAR, AGNEEPATH, and AMAR AKBAR ANTHONY). Amitabh is both diabolical and heroic. Suave, yet disturbed. He's a badass but also scared at the loss of control; all in the same film.
In short, except for maybe comedy, he displayed the full range of his acting talent in this one.
In addition to Amitabh's performance, I was fearful that this movie would suffer from the Phantom Menace Effect (i.e. big let down after enormous hype.) After all, I've been anxiously awaiting this movie for almost two months; especially after seeing it's preview site on the web two weeks ago. Yet despite the build up, this movie gripped me; right to the very end.
Probably because I've NEVER seen a Hindi movie like this before. I think this was Rakesh Mehra's debut film. And he threw out what your idea of a typical Hindi film is. Love songs through a field. *Dishum Dishum.* Hero and heroine walking off into the sunset after the bag guy goes to jail. This movie was as close to THAT as Dubya is to Humility
This movie was dark and ominous. It was sexy. It was supernatural. It was for the most part masterfully produced. Although there were a few technical special effects that were subpar (Bollywood still can't seem to get explosions right), the closest thing that I can compare this film to is FACE/OFF, crossed with a heavy dosage of the X-FILES and SEVEN and the original BATMAN with a sprinkle of MI:2 at the beginning. Heck, I think Nine Inch Nails should have done the soundtrack
I don't think I'd seen a Manoj Bajpai film before but his role became increasingly compelling as the movie wore on. Raveena was absolutely stunning. I believe she blazed new trails as far as Hindi film actresses go by playing a provocative stripper who chooses her path not out of `majboori,' but because that's who she is.
This movie is definitely NOT for everyone. I'm not even sure this what the initial reaction is in India...especially for those that WANT lubby/dubby cookie cutter stories with happy endings. But if you want something COMPLETELY different, You guys GOTTA check this movie out!