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34 reviews in total 
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4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
EMI, or: how to turn bank loans into a feel-good movie?, 20 September 2009

EMI is the story of several unrelated people and their bank loans. Ryan (Arjun Rampal) is a charming good-for-nothing DJ, who loves beautiful but demanding women, as well as a luxurious lifestyle he can afford only thanks to banks giving him one credit card after another. Chandrakakta (Kulbhushan Kharbanda) is an elderly gentleman whose love for his only son is unlimited, and who takes a huge bank credit to finance his son's studies in London, merely because the latter wants to "explose his life path". Anil (Ashish Chaudhary) and Shilpa (Neha Uberoi) are a young couple who believe married life should start with a minimum amount of wealth, and therefore borrow a lot of money for their wedding, their honeymoon, an apartment, a car, and a laptop. Prerna (Urmila Matondkar) is an elegant young woman, whose husband committed suicide, and because she is not entitled to any insurance money, she cannot maintain herself and her 5 years old daughter anymore.

After a year, all these people are in deep trouble, because they cannot repay their debts. Sooner or later, they all fall prey to Sattar Bhai (Sanjay Dutt), a merciless gangster who owns a recovery agency. Sattar, however, has a major problem: he wants to be a politician, and therefore has to take his mentor's advice: "Treat people with respect, so that they will respect you as well. Then you will win." Thus, instead of having his goons beat up his poor, insolvent clients, he decides to help hem out.

The subject of EMI (Easy Monthly Installment) is far from pleasant: the ongoing credit crisis is proof enough of what can happen when people massively take loans they can't pay back later. That is also the morale of the story: be careful with loans! Yet, EMI is a pleasant and fairly uncomplicated feel good movie, taking the loans problem from a rather optimistic angle.

Sanjay Dutt is great as always, although this is obviously not a particularly challenging type of role for him. If you need a friendly gangster, take Sanju Bhai. More than once, I couldn't help feeling like I was watching Munna Bhai 3 (or 4, if you include Hum Kisi Se Kum Nahin), although it should be said that EMI is not as good as the Munna Bhai movies. For the rest, Arjun Rampal does a great job and makes his part into something really interesting, Urmila is beautiful and fascinating, Kulbhushan gives an impressing performance as the honest, static father of a somewhat spoiled son. From the entire cast, I can't really think of anyone who did a poor job in this movie. Even Malaika Arora did not spoil anything.

The movie has a few great moments. I particularly like the scene in which Ryan teaches Sattar, hopelessly in love with Prerna, how to behave at a romantic dinner ("You don't have to kill the chicken, it is already dead!"), and the scene in which Sattar is feeding his sidekick "Decent" huge amounts of alcohol to find out what he really thinks.

All in all, EMI is not too ambitious and quite predictable, a tad moralizing as well, but sympathetic and well-performed.

Mahal (1949)
2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Haunted house movie or melodrama?, 19 September 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

A haunted house. An often recurring motive in horror movies, and here we have an early example. It differs from other haunted house movies in several ways. Even Indian cinema has quite a few of them. Thus, we have already seen an evil bhoot (spirit), a sympathetic bhoot, a frustrated bhoot, a bhoot seeking justice, a horny bhoot, a bhoot who loves kids... And here for a change we meet a female bhoot who is deeply in love. She doesn't even look like one: she is astoundingly beautiful, sings and dances, and as if that were not enough, you can have a normal conversation with her as well. Sure, at last we find out that she is not a bhoot at all, but merely the old gardener's daughter playing tricks until she loses it herself. A very pleasant surprise, at least for me; I guess I have already watched so many "real" bhoots that the possibility didn't even occur to me that this one is just an ordinary person of flesh and bones.

Obviously, Mahal differs from other haunted house movies even more. Usually, a new family settles in an old home, and in the beginning little happens. Somebody hears a mysterious noise or sees something odd in the mirror, weird accidents happen... little enough for the household skeptic to remain a skeptic for a long time. But here, things happen very quickly: for Hari Shankar, the love story of the previous inhabitants of the house and a certain similarity of the guy to himself are enough to persuade him. When the pretty lady bhoot starts singing songs for him, he doesn't have to think long. Hari is deeply convinced that he is the previous house owner's reincarnation, and that the bhoot is the great love of his former life. It doesn't take long before the romance starts (once more).

I should add that unlike most other haunted house movies, Mahal is not a horror movie at all. It is more like a drama movie with a touch of the supernatural. More than anything, it is about psychology. All in all, Mahal has more in common with "Kabhi Alvida naa Kehna" than with "Bhoot".

Personally, I like it when a movie has a tempo like Mahal's first half hour. I found myself wondering: if things are moving so quickly, what's going to be next? And here comes a surprise: during the following one and a half hour almost nothing happens at all. All we see is Hari's inner crisis deepening while his obsession with Kamini grows. Until his family and friends convince him to get married to another woman and finally get the hell out of that house. Nevertheless, Hari can't forget Kamini and keeps thinking of her, turning his poor wife's life into hell. That's the first half of the movie. In the second half, we know that Kamini is not a bhoot at all, but suffering from a heavy case of mythomania. Everything evolves now around the question what will happen next. Hari has pretty much lost it, and even though Kamini has already told the truth, he cannot accept that it was all nonsense. Clearly, a story like that cannot end happily, and so, Hari dies a stupid death, his friend has to spend the rest of his life with a gardener's egoistic daughter whom he has nothing in common with but this entire unfortunate history, and Kamini/Asha, instead of having the man she loves, now has two lives on her conscience and a husband she doesn't love and probably never will.

I genuinely love old movies, but there is a lot I miss in Mahal. A story like this is very, very dependent on building atmosphere, and I'm not sure the film makers succeeded in that. Granted, the camera performs true miracles at times, but as a whole, this movie reminds me a bit of a Wagner opera (about which Debussy once said: "wonderful moments, horrible quarters"). Although the music of Mahal undoubtedly belongs to the better soundtracks of old-school Bollywood, I have a feeling that there were too many songs, which made the longish movie even more longish. Although the story is interesting in itself, I have a feeling the script could have done more justice to it. Compared to other film scripts from the old days, when script writing was still an art and not merely a craft, it fails to impress.

With the actors I have a similar problem. The acting is surely not bad, but I miss that... that something. Ashok Kumar obviously does not have the kind of screen presence of a Humphrey Bogart, a Marlon Brando or a Robert Mitchum. Madhubala's role consists mostly of dancing and being beautiful. Besides, it is hard to identify with any of the characters in the movie. Hari is essentially a naive weakling, who in addition to that treats his poor wife more than horribly. Kamini turns out to be a cold, calculating would-be femme fatale who doesn't even seem to feel sorry for all the trouble she has caused. Both Hari and Kamini/Asha are sad examples of how sick and obsessive love can be. Ranjana, Hari's wife, is utterly colorless. The most reasonable person in the story is undoubtedly Hari's friend Shrinath, but at least at the beginning he is portrayed as a complete bumpkin. Together they are a bunch of egoistic, unsympathetic people, who actually deserve all the bad things coming to them.

All in all, Mahal is certainly not a bad movie, but it does not live up to the expectations raised during the first half hour, and more importantly, it could have done more justice to the promising storyline. As a matter of fact, I think this movie could be the starting point for a pretty decent remake. Not that I'm a great fan of Shahrukh Khan and Aishwarya Rai, but I'm sure they could do a terrific job here!

Krrish (2006)
4 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
If you like superheroes, than this one is a must!, 7 September 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I can't help it, but I simply love this movie. When I first heard about an "Indian superhero", my curiosity awoke immediately, even though I hadn't the faintest idea about Bollywood at the time. Since then, I've seen it many times, and always with pleasure. The entire movie is carried mostly by the Krrish character: a crossover between Tarzan, Batman and Neo, I'd say. What I particularly like in him is that in spite of his supernatural powers, he always remains a naive boy from the countryside. He cannot fly, doesn't use any gadgets, is not bullet-proof and unable to turn a person into ice with his touch... Krrish is simply a bit stronger and faster than others, and he can jump a little higher. That's about it. Yet, the credits for this charming character should definitely go to the actor playing it. Frankly, I can't imagine anybody else playing Krrish as well as Hrithik Roshan does.

Of course, the movie has a few weak points too, especially when it comes to the storyline. But then, superhero movies rarely have story lines that are particularly clever. Still, it is odd that Nisha managed to give birth to a son, while Rohit had been working non-stop in Singapore for two years (Krishna and Rohit are similar enough to each other to exclude the possibility of someone else doing the job for him). But okay, let's assume Rohit took a short vacation and met his wife. It is also odd that Krishna at the beginning of the movie meets a girl, who shortly after convinces him to travel thousands of miles to visit her in the very same city that by pure coincidence turns out to be the place where his father is still being kept alive artificially by the evil genius Dr. Arya. I mean, he didn't go there to save his dad, did he? Obviously, one of those typical coincidences that Bollywood seems to be fond of. How often have we seen situations like a fellow seeing the girl of his dreams in one place, and then completely accidentally meeting her again in a completely different part of the world, just a few days later?

However improbable, all these things are still theoretically possible. But how about this: after Dr. Arya witnesses his own tragic death caused by Krrish in the near future, he doesn't hesitate, goes to town, shoots poor Chris Lee whom he believes is Krrish, and returns home satisfied. But now he finds out he hasn't changed the future at all: in a few minutes, he is going to be killed by Krrish anyway. And indeed, Krrish appears. But Dr. Arya is well-prepared, because on this very moment he has a surprise for Krrish: Priya, the only weakness of the real Krrish. Could someone please explain to me why Dr. Arya would have abducted Priya, and when?

Apart from several holes in the script, I still think Krrish is a great movie. Hrithik Roshan is a fantastic Krrish, and I very much like Dr. Arya, subtly played by Naseeruddin Shah. Rekha does an excellent job as the sexiest grandmother ever. Also, it's hard to dislike Chris Lee, Krishna's Chinese friend. I'm not so convinced about Priyanka Chopra playing Priya, but several of her later roles prove at least that she is growing as an actress. Absolutely worth mentioning is also the wonderful background score by Salim-Sulaiman. The songs, written by Rajesh Roshan, aren't bad either.

All in all, heartily recommended. Eagerly waiting for Krrish 2.

Cash (2007)
4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
What a mess..., 7 September 2009

A horrible film. Simply horrible. Much worse than might be expected of a cast, most of whom have at least played a few really good roles in their lives. My expectations weren't particularly high, and I definitely didn't expect a masterpiece; but even truckloads of popcorn can't turn this movie into something remotely entertaining. I did my very best to follow the story somehow, in spite of its (to put it gently) fragmentary beginning. After that, however, all sense is lost completely, until nobody knows anymore who is chasing whom and what for. Utter chaos. The animated sequences that somehow manage to amuse in the beginning, become irritating soon. I have a strong impression that the director of this movie tries to imitate Oliver Stone's manners, but whereas Stone uses them as a means to convey something, in this case it's nothing but tricks. Add a few misplaced comic sequences to the mix, lots of action sequences that would have worked if we knew at least what they are about, and there you have it. It looks like they tried damned hard to conceal a lack of budget and a lack of script, but failed on both accounts. Expect for the title song, which is sort of funny, the songs aren't worth mentioning either. The background score is better, in my opinion. As for the acting:

Ajay: not bad, but nothing particularly good either.

Zayed: how is it possible that this actor keeps on playing in movies, despite an obvious lack of talent?

Ritesh: a nice role and well performed. The most bearable part in the whole movie, if you ask me.

Sunil: completely colorless, which is a pity, because he's too good an actor for this type of junk.

Esha: never liked her until I saw "Darling"; not too bad in this movie, I'd say.

Diya: hard to say. I like her, but I don't know why myself.

Shamita: it took me a while before I was sure this wasn't Shilpa, but Shilpa's younger sister. They are very similar to each other, in the same way as Kareena and Karisma are. Not so bad either.

2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Average romance, completely spoiled by Aishwarya Rai, 5 September 2009

"Comantic romedies", as I once called them by mistake, are not my favorite sort of movies, but nevertheless I've hit upon instances I like a lot. Well, "Kyun! Ho gaya na..." is definitely not one of those. The story is one of thirteen in a dozen and unfolds itself without any significant surprises. Already at the very start of the film you know how it is going to end, and that the road towards that end will be tortuous. But then, that is inherent to the genre. Whether such a movie is nice or not, depends pretty much on things like humor, acting, chemistry between the actors and the like. Unfortunately, when it comes to these, KHGN turns out to be a major disappointment.

The best memories I have about it are the roles of Om Puri and Amitabh Bachchan. With both gentlemen, you are in for a real treat. Most important in romantic comedies, however, is chemistry between the protagonists, in this case Vivek Oberoi and Aishwarya Rai, and unfortunately, that is precisely what KHGN completely lacks. I don't think Vivek is to be blamed for that. He does whatever he can, playing the kind of light-hearted, immature joker we've seen him playing before, too, and generally manages well. Aishwarya, on the other hand, is deeply disappointing. I've seen her playing way below her possibilities in other movies as well, but in KHGN her acting is downright embarrassing. If there is anything at all she manages to convey with this role, it must be something like: "God, what evil have I done to Thee to deserve playing in this movie". I'm curious why. Laziness? Arrogance ("I am the Queen of Bollywood, and whatever I do, I am a mega star anyway")? Deep roots in old Bollywood traditions ("Hurry up folks, in twenty minutes I have to be at the next set")? Trouble in her real-life relationship with co-star Vivek Oberoi? Hard to tell. But one thing is for sure: this horrible performance of hers is enough to destroy an entire movie, including the good work of the other actors. A few more of these sub-standard performances, and no director will ever be willing to work with her - queen or no queen. Besides, Aishwarya is not exactly the logical choice for the role of a young girl of less than average beauty, the type of girl boys tend to neglect.

I should add that the movie is way too long for such a thin tale. During most of these 170 minutes I found myself bored or almost falling asleep. Not even because the tempo is slow, but because there is constantly too much of the same thing. Of the entire footage, no more than 100, perhaps 120 minutes is usable, and the rest can quietly be removed: it would undoubtedly make the movie more bearable.

A great asset of KHGN is the music. In my opinion, the score would have deserved a much better movie than this one.

9 out of 16 people found the following review useful:
Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi, 5 September 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi is a typical example of a romantic comedy. A sympathetic, light movie, far from being ambitious. We have seen stories like this many, many times before, notably in teenager movies. Here's the basic formula of the latter: Nerd falls in love with Beauty Queen, but she doesn't care for nerds, and so, Nerd takes off his glasses, puts on jeans, and suddenly becomes a super-cool dude. Of course, Beauty Queen does not recognize him in his new outfit, and quickly develops a liking toward Mr. Cool. But now our hero has a problem: he is leading a double life, and the girl still does not love him, but merely his creation. His alter ego also becomes his rival. After a while, the girl comes to understand that there's more in life than just coolness, and that our Nerd at least has a good heart. And so, exit Mr. Cool. Nerd and Beauty Queen live happily ever after.

Formulaic, predictable and far from innovative, but let's be fair: that's what romantic comedies like this tend to be like. That does necessarily make it bad, because at last, everything depends on the script, the characters, the acting, the jokes, etc. And here, RNBDJ should be given credit: the story differs from the above-mentioned teenager movies in so far, that the characters are a bit older, and our nerd is not a nerd, but a boring, gray office clerk. Besides, he already is the husband of the girl he loves. His problem is that she doesn't love him, and in his efforts to gain her heart, the husband becomes his wife's lover simultaneously. Funny ingredients, indeed. Yet, RNBDJ has quite a few major flaws.

The first 30-40 minutes are well-made and fairly promising. Unfortunately, after that the whole thing becomes painfully predictable. The level drops and everything goes on as expected, without any particular surprises. But okay, we are dealing with a romantic comedy here, so let's not be tough. There are too many things I cannot buy, though. For example, Surinder's metamorphosis is only a matter of taking of his glasses, shaving off his mustache, a slightly different haircut and different clothes. How is it possible that his own wife wouldn't recognize him, while everybody else recognizes him immediately? Is she blind, or what? I also find the way Surinder handles his wife hard to swallow: he loves her more than anything, but yet, he keeps pretending to be the most boring husband on Earth. But then, she isn't entirely consistent in her behavior herself either. The moment when she finally understands that her husband loves her, comes way to easily, making it look like nothing but a cheap excuse for a happy end. Another weak point is Suri's fight with a Japanese sumo wrestler, especially this easy victory over an opponent who is five times heavier and ten times stronger. It would have been more effective if the wrestler hadn't left him in one piece. Looking how her husband was wounded and covered with blood, Taani might have understood something about his feelings toward her. At last, this whole dance competition was nothing but a joke, without any serious rivals and without any impressive performance. Here, the creators of the movie missed a splendid opportunity to add music and dance sequences in a fairly natural way.

A strong minus of this movie is the limited number of characters. Basically, there are only three: Surinder/Raj (Shahrukh Khan), Taani (the débutante Anushka), and Bobby (Vinay Pathak). All the rest are extras at best. Of these three, I like Vinay Pathak best. Although his role is a minor one, he plays it with so much flair and humor that he steals the entire movie. A really gifted actor, this Vinay, and a true asset for Bollywood. I find it hard to tell much about Anushka's role. Although she plays the female lead role, her character is surprisingly colorless and underdeveloped: a pretty face, nothing else. All in all, I think Anushka isn't doing bad, but nothing memorable either. And Shahrukh Khan? In my opinion, his creation of Surinder is cartoonesque, artificial and little credible. Same goes for his Raj character, although that one was at least supposed to be like that. All in all, Surinder is a matter of clothes, glasses and the like, rather than than a matter of acting. Just look at similar characters in other movies (like Tusshar Kapoor in "Gayab" or even Vinay Pathak in "Aaja Nachle" and "Dasvidaniya") and you will see how a role like that CAN be played. Sure, Shahrukh obviously has some comic talent and there are sequences in the movie where he does very well. But in general, I feel this role was just another piece of hackwork for him. Besides, he is really getting too old for roles like this.

As for the music, I'd say it is neither particularly bad, nor particularly good. A fairly good background score, one great song, the rest of the songs nothing special. Unfortunately, the video clips with song and dance have surprisingly little in common with the rest of the film (which really is a bad thing in a movie in which dancing plays a central role). To me, they are little more than grotesque showoffs of Shahrukh Khan's glitter and glamor, and all they seem to communicate is: "Hey folks, don't forget that I'm not this boring Surinder or this idiot Raj at all, because... I am Shahkrukh Khan, the superstar you all love and adore, the King of Bollywood!"

All in all, for a movie that is brought with much fanfare as the new Shahrukh Khan movie, I think RNBDJ is slightly disappointing. However, in spite of its several major and minor flaws, it should be said that it is still a nice and pleasant piece of footage, absolutely worth the effort of watching it at least once.

Kabzaa (1988)
3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Decent remake of "On the Waterfront", 5 September 2009

Kabzaa is a Bollywood movie from the 1980s, so don't expect subtlety, carefully elaborated characters, ambitious plots, interesting subplots, or highly consistent storytelling. But then, who said we can't enjoy a movie with a simple, straightforward story, cardboard heroes and a villain who is really BAD, if the actors manage to entertain? The movie begins with a young Sanjay Dutt (still known as "Sunjay" in those days) covered with blood, with four bullets in his chest and one in his head, trying to save himself. The rest of the movie lives up to the expectations raised by its catchy prelude.

Ravi (Sanjay Dutt) and Ranjit (Raj Babbar) are brothers. Ravi is a good-for-nothing without a job and without a purpose in life, Ranjit is a successful lawyer who works for the local don, Velji Bhai (Paresh Rawal). Velji Bhai wants to purchase a piece of land owned by Ustad Ali Mohammed (Alok Nath) at any cost, but the latter intends to use it for building a children's park instead, and thus refuses. When Ravi is sent out by Velji Bhai to persuade Ali Mohammed with violence, he is so impressed by the man's kindheartedness that he starts protecting him instead. Velji Bhai, of course, is furious...

The story is very similar to that of another movie, Ghulam, made ten years later by Mahesh Bhatt's nephew Vikram Bhatt. Both movies are based on (let's avoid the word "remake") Marlon Brando's all-time classic "On the Waterfront". Whatever one may think of Bollywood-style remakes, it means at least that we can't complain about a bad story. And indeed, unlike many other Bollywood movies from the same period, Kabzaa is a movie one can watch without ever getting bored: the tempo is decent, drama and action sequences follow each other quickly enough to keep one's thoughts from drifting away. Fortunately, Bhatt refrained from inserting obnoxious comedy elements, and the obligatory love stories are kept to a minimum. Still, it is the actors that make this movie worth watching. Sanjay Dutt, Raj Babbar, Paresh Rawal and Alok Nath all give fine performances. The two female roles, played by Amrita Singh and Dimple Kapadia, add little of value, but at least they don't spoil the movie, which is already an achievement in itself.

3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Nice try, but no cigar..., 20 August 2009

Raj Rai lives in England with this brother Suraj, his sister-in-law Radha and his cousin Neetu. Relations between Raj and his brother are tense, as the latter blames him for the death of his son. Raj has a unique gift: he can see the spirits of deceased people. One day, he discovers the ghost a mysterious woman is persecuting the family. He also finds out that all the subsequent events are somehow related to the number "8", the number of Shani (Saturn)...

Here we have the ingredients for a nice supernatural thriller like the Sixth Sense, that might even have worked. Alas, it doesn't work, and the whole thing becomes a failure. The plot is a mix of various subplots and other wild ideas, and it looks like the script writer couldn't choose which path to follow. Therefore, the story simply doesn't stick together. Now, there is a lot I can buy in movies like this, but there should at least be some internal consistency. We have a dead boy and an angry ghost who has all kinds of reasons to be angry at the family, we have this mysterious number 8, we have a fairly bad love story... But none of these things actually come together. It looks like most of these things were simply added to the mix to add some mystery. A good example of how NOT to write a script.

The acting is bad. The only person who deserves respect for his role is Raj Tara, who plays the male protagonist. Obviously, this role was his debut (and as far as I know, it was also his last role), but he should be given credit: he really does his best, and manages to play his role convincingly, naturally and with humour. Unfortunately, that's about it. Gulshan Grover is an actor I generally like a lot, but in this movie he plays with the engagement of a shuffling hospital clerk on Monday morning. Meghna Naidu is good at being voluptuous, but she should stay far away from any real acting. If playing in erotic movies is her specialisation, that's what she should stick to. Padmini Kolhapure and Surbhi Purohit (another debut) give performances that are acceptable at best.

At last, the creators of this movie shouldn't have tried following the Bollywood convention of adding song and dance numbers to the movie. It doesn't even remotely fit the story, and neither does the whole love thread trying hard to justify it. Besides, except for one song, the music is pretty bad, just like the rest of the movie. All in all, a major disappointment.

Jung (2000)
2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Jung: a movie that could have been nice, 18 August 2009

The idea is promising enough. Police inspector Veer Chauhan's son is deadly ill, and the only person who can save him is Balli, an extremely dangerous criminal who was locked up in jail thanks to Chauhan's efforts. Initially, Balli refuses and even starts poking fun at Chauhan. After a while however, Balli pretends to have changed his mind, but seizes the opportunity to escape from the hospital and disappears. For his son to survive, Chauhan must find him quickly. However, his partner, "bad cop" Khan, is determined to find him first and "kill him in action".

Call it unlikely, but at least it makes for some good storytelling; worse cases of coincidence are perfectly normal in Bollywood movies. Besides, the DVD cover with Sanjay Dutt locked in chains looks more than promising. And indeed, the beginning of the movie has quite a few really good moments. Sanjay Dutt is terrifying in his role of a chained prisoner who pretty much resembles Dr. Hannibal Lecter. His friendly conversation with the boy, as well as his subsequent actions, make for some really good cinema. Enough to give me the goosebumps, anyway. But unfortunately, this is where it ends. I have never seen a potentially great movie derail to such an extent. After Balli's escape, we watch Chauhan and Khan constantly getting into each other's way, while Balli is making a quick career as a crime lord. And in no time Balli's character evolves from evil impersonated into a good-natured, Munna-Bhai styled kind of don who wouldn't hurt a fly. Shilpa Shetty and Raveena Tandon serve as attractive female decoration.

I would recommend watching this movie until the moment right after Balli's escape, as an unfinished masterpiece of some sort. In this first part of the movie, Sanjay Dutt is awesome, while Jackie Shroff does a decent job as inspector Chauhan. Anything that comes after that is nothing but a horrible mistake. If it is true that director Sanjay Gupta left the production half-way, than this must have been the moment. Believe me, the rest of the movie is not worth the effort of watching it even once.

Kaal (2005)
3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Exciting story about a killer tiger, 18 August 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Krish, a biologist from National Geographic, is sent out to investigate the case of a killer tiger haunting the Indian jungle. On his way, he joins a group of youngsters who are out for adventure and some hunting. Deep in the jungle, they meet the mysterious Kali, who warns them to go back. Of course, they refuse, and the more they get lost, the more the plot thickens. For a horror flick from Bollywood, Kaal is not a bad movie at all. It is, in any case, way beyond the monsters-with-faces-like-pizzas kind of horror that used to dominate Bollywood in the 1980s and 1990s, and unlike horror flicks of the "who's next?" type, it keeps you focused from the beginning till the end, and at times really manages to surprise. Sure, there are things we always know in advance: if there are a few better known actors and a few unknown, we all know who is going to be eaten first. But that's a minor thing.

Before watching Kaal, all I knew was that it was some sort of Indian "Jaws" with a tiger instead of a shark. And I am grateful for that, because otherwise the appearance of Kali, a mysterious inhabitant of the jungle, might have evoked the wrong kind of expectations. I for one found myself utterly surprised when he turned out to be the "bhoot", the ghost he had been telling about, himself. A fascinating character! What I like best about him is the fact that he never hurts anybody, on the contrary, he keeps warning everybody. Nobody dies because of Kali or a tiger. All those who die, die merely because of their own stupidity. They should have listened to Kali.

The film has another huge asset: the excellent background score by the duo Salim-Sulaiman. That said, there are a few decisive minuses as well. First of all, the movie begins with a completely idiotic video clip featuring Shahrukh Khan in a wet shirt, which has nothing in common with the movie whatsoever. They might as well have filled the same space with a commercial, or, for that matter, with a black screen. Another weak point are the characters. Ajay Devgan does an excellent job as Kali, but the script fails to work out any of the other characters. Even calling them flat or cardboard would be too much, because frankly, there's no character in them at all. Vivek Oberoi manages best, but John Abraham fails to impress and especially the women (Lara Dutta and Esha Deol) serve no other purpose than being pretty and constantly afraid. This poor characterisation has a major disadvantage: you can't identify with the characters and never really care if someone dies or not. But all in all, the exciting plot makes up for this weakness. It didn't stop me at all from enjoying "Kaal".

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