Tag Archives: Abhishek Bachchan

Movie Review: Manmarziyaan (2018)

2.5 Stars (out of 4)

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Emerging adulthood is a particularly annoying stage of human development. Teenage immaturity is no longer a viable excuse for bad behavior, but many emerging adults are still self-centered enough not to fully appreciate the impact of their actions and choices on those around them or even on their own futures. It was a stage I was glad to grow out of and glad for my friends to grow out of.

It’s a tricky balance to write a drama about emerging adults that feels authentic but isn’t as irritating as real life. Maybe director Anurag Kashyap and writer Kanika Dhillon get things too right in Manmarziyaan (“The Heart’s Wish“, international title “Husband Material“). Two-and-a-half hours of watching characters repeat the same mistakes because they lack the self-knowledge not to is tiresome, even with a tremendous cast in the leading roles.

Headstrong hockey player Rumi’s (Taapsee Pannu) romantic relationship with wannabe DJ Vicky (Vicky Kaushal) is the neighborhood’s worst-kept secret. Sick of the local gossip, Rumi’s family tells her to marry Vicky, or they’ll find a groom for her.

For Rumi, the solution is easy. An engagement will pacify her family indefinitely, and she and Vicky have professed their love to each other anyway. But Vicky is happy the way things are, with all the sex he wants and none of the responsibility that comes with a publicly acknowledged relationship.

As immature as Vicky is, Rumi isn’t much better. She spends far too long ignoring the reality Vicky presents to her and wishing for him to be someone he’s not. She accepts a marriage proposal secured by her family as a means of punishing Vicky, not really considering that the groom-to-be, London banker Robbie (Abhishek Bachchan), thinks he’s getting a wife, not some other guy’s spiteful girlfriend.

The first half of Manmarziyaan is so dense with material that the interval break comes as something of a surprise, resetting the story right when it seems to be nearing a conclusion. The film shifts focus from how Vicky’s immaturity ruins his relationship with Rumi to how Rumi’s immaturity ruins her relationship with Robbie. It’s too much of the same thing.

The bigger question is why Robbie thinks Rumi is worth all the trouble, since he really doesn’t know much about her. She gives him the silent treatment when he asks her questions — that is when she’s not sneaking off by herself. Why would someone as ready for marriage as Robbie is put up with her petulance for as long as he does?

Robbie claims that he wants an unconventional bride, and Rumi’s vivacity intrigues him more than other, more demure candidates suggested by the matchmaker. But when Rumi and Robbie are together, she behaves much like a conventional housewife, cooking and waiting up late for him. There’s no discussion of how her other interests — playing hockey and working at her family’s sporting goods store — fit in with married life, or how she’d spend her days if it was just her and Vicky in London, with no family or friends around. The movie makes it seem as though the only obstacle between Rumi and wedded bliss with Robbie is Vicky, but maybe the version of married life Robbie offers her is part of the problem.

It’s not the cast’s fault that Manmarziyaan doesn’t quite work. Pannu’s spiritedness is balanced by Bachchan’s steadfastness. Kaushal goes full-tilt with Vicky, especially during Amit Trivedi’s great song “DhayaanChand” (one of several songs in the film to feature the twin hip-hop dancers Poonam & Priyanka, who steal the whole movie). The soundtrack overall is quite good.

Watching the characters in Manmarziyaan repeat the same mistakes over and over brought back memories of a time when my friends and I made ourselves unhappier than we should have been by trying to force relationships to work that never could. It was a relief to grow out of that phase. I wish the characters in the film had done so sooner.

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Movie Review: Housefull 3 (2016)

Housefull32 Stars (out of 4)

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Lies. Manipulation. Betrayal. When considered from the perspective of the three female leads, Housefull 3 is a tragedy, not a comedy.

Wealthy sisters Gracy (Jacqueline Fernandez), Jenny (Lisa Haydon), and Sarah (Nargis Fakhri) live in London with their doting father, Batuk Patel (Boman Irani, playing a different character from the first two Housefull films, but with the same name). The beautiful, accomplished women — Gracy is a doctor, Jenny an artist, and Sarah a philanthropist — have grown up under the shadow of a curse: catastrophe befalls anyone in their family who marries, thus their father has forbidden them from ever falling in love.

However, Batuk’s family curse is a ruse to hide a more treacherous reason for keeping the women single. The sisters’ entire lives are built upon lies told by their own father.

Despite Batuk’s warnings, the women find romance. Gracy loves Sandy (Akshay Kumar), a wannabe footballer who dreams of owning a soccer club just so he can give himself a place on the roster. Jenny loves Teddy (Riteish Deshmukh), an aspiring race car driver who can’t find a sponsor. Sarah loves Bunty (Abhishek Bachchan), an untalented rapper who wants to start his own record label.

The three men realize that the only way to finance their delusional dreams is by marrying wealthy women. They set their sights on the three sisters, vowing to do whatever it takes to get their hands on a share of the Patel fortune.

Throughout the film, the women have no idea that they are being used by their boyfriends. Their father’s lies eventually put their very lives at risk. In a perfect world, the sisters would take their money and run, ditching all of the men who’ve deceived them.

But this Housefull 3, the third installment of a franchise built on the disposability and interchangeability of it female characters. Gracy, Jenny, and Sarah are hollow shells in sparkly outfits. For them to appreciate the degree to which they’ve been manipulated, they’d have to be fully realized humans, which they are not.

Instead, the story focuses on the three loser boyfriends who feign various disabilities to deceive first Batuk and later Urja Nagre (Jackie Shroff) a recently paroled mafia don. There are mistaken identities, wacky fight scenes, and people running around flailing their hands in the air. It feels so very tired.

Housefull 3 also feels cheap, as if directing duo Sajid-Farhad were instructed to spend as little as possible in order to maximize profits. Teddy’s big car race pits him against just one other driver on a giant track. When Teddy has to fake blindness, he uses a regular walking cane, not the white cane used by blind people. The climactic fight scene takes place in a wax statue factory full of rejects from Madame Tussaud’s, including a statue of The Rock with oversized ears.

The plot is stretched to maximum thinness to lengthen the amount of time between the few important plot revelations that exist, padded out with Bollywood in-jokes and movie references. Chunky Pandey’s character Aakhri Pasta is brought back for a third time because, well, why not?

One point in Housefull 3‘s favor concerns Kumar’s character, who suffers from Dissociative Identity Disorder. Sandy has an angry alternate personality named Sundi whose sole goal is to cause Sandy suffering, but Sundi does so in ways that are more annoying than harmful. One funny sequence finds Sundi in a bathroom, rubbing liquid hand soap in Sandy/Sundi’s eyes and kicking his shin against a towel rack.

Beyond Sandy’s cartoonish internal nemesis, there isn’t much clever or new in Housefull 3, and it’s hard to see a way to freshen up the formula for a fourth time. Maybe it’s time to close the doors on this franchise for good.

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Movie Review: All Is Well (2015)

AllIsWellZero Stars (out of 4)

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Few movies have angered me as much as All Is Well. It’s cruel and offensive, making light of human suffering for the sake of an easy moral lesson.

This is a huge surprise given that Umesh Shukla is behind the camera. The last film he directed (and co-wrote) — 2012’s OMG: Oh My God — is funny, understanding, and generous of spirit. Then again, Shukla also directed 2009’s Dhoondte Reh Jaoge, a rip-off of The Producers that I also described as offensive. Maybe OMG was the aberration, and All Is Well is Shukla showing his true colors again.

All Is Well fancies itself a comedy about a bickering father and son, played by Rishi Kapoor and Abhishek Bachchan, respectively. When Bhalla (Kapoor) isn’t losing money via his unpopular bakery, he’s yelling at his wife Pammi (Supriya Pathak) and son Inder (Bachchan).

Growing up in such a hostile environment turns Inder into a complete misanthrope. After having been kicked out of the house for calling his dad a loser, he’s spent ten years in Bangkok, avoiding his parents and struggling as a musician.

Inder’s misanthropy is most acutely directed at Nimmi (Asin Thottumkal), a brain-dead chatterbox who is in love with him. Nimmi is so oblivious that she can’t recognize Inder’s contempt for her. Her arranged marriage subplot is shoddily tacked on to the main story, in which Inder is tricked into coming home to settle his father’s debts. Everyone is an unrepentant jerk throughout, and few cinematic “happy endings” have felt less earned.

All Is Well does wrong by so many people. Dwarfs and people with dark complexions are the butt of needless, hurtful jokes. The movie — written by Sumit Arora and Niren Bhatt — has no respect for women, hence why Nimmi is portrayed as a total dumbass, desperate to marry.

No character suffers as much as Pammi, who is a human plot device. Inder returns to India to find his mother in an “old folks home” suffering from Alzheimer’s. (Note that Pathak is only 54.) The movie makes the following untrue claims about Alzheimer’s, all in the name of moving the story forward:

  • The progression of Alzheimer’s can be stalled if you keep the patient happy at all times.
  • Alzheimer’s is caused by familial neglect, somewhat on the part of one’s spouse, but mostly due to neglect by one’s children.
  • Alzheimer’s can be improved, if not outright cured, if said neglectful children move back in with their parents.

I haven’t mentioned it at this website, but earlier this year, my mother died in her mid-sixties after suffering for five years with a degenerative neurological condition. Not Alzheimer’s, but another incapacitating disease with no specific cause and with a similarly slow decline (both mental and physical) and grim prognosis.

It’s hard to watch a parent undergo such hardship without any hope of a cure and without anyone to blame for it. There was no accident, no source of infection. There was no one to yell at, no one to sue — not that it would have helped. She was predisposed to get sick, she did, and it was horrible.

So, for Umesh Shukla, Sumit Arora, and Niren Bhatt to imply that someone like my mom might suffer a terrible death because her kids didn’t pay enough attention to her is bullshit. It’s offensive, and it’s mean.

To make light of such a dreadful condition for the sake of a comedy film is beyond callous. Pammi might as well be just another prop, the way she’s shuffled from car to house, forced into a situation she can’t possibly understand. She utters only a handful of words, which is a tremendous waste of an actress of Pathak’s caliber.

There’s no reason to see All Is Well. None. Something this hateful shouldn’t be rewarded.

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Movie Review: Happy New Year (2014)

Happy_New_Year_Poster_(2014_film)3 Stars (out of 4)

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Director Farah Khan knows how to give the people what they want. Happy New Year is exactly what it’s supposed to be: loud, flashy, sexy, and tons of fun.

Everything you need to know about the film’s tone is conveyed in the first five minutes, during which a muddy, shirtless Shahrukh Khan is sprayed clean with a hose. It’s so overt that one can’t help but laugh, while simultaneously being wowed by Khan’s ripped abs.

Khan plays Charlie, a guy who’s been down on his luck ever since his father (played by Anupam Kher) was framed for robbery by Charan Grover (Jackie Shroff), a diamond merchant. Charlie’s chance for revenge comes when Grover publicly announces his plans to transfer some diamonds through Dubai, holding them in a safe at the Atlantis, The Palm hotel.

First Charlie recruits his dad’s old buddies: explosives expert Jag (Sonu Sood) and safe cracker Tammy (Boman Irani). He rounds out the team with Jag’s hacker nephew, Rohan (Vivaan Shah), and Nandu (Abhishek Bachchan), a drunk who’s a dead ringer for Grover’s son, Vicky (also Bachchan). The crew agrees to the job before Charlie tells them the kicker: they have to enter the World Dance Championship in order to get into the hotel.

Even though the plan is for Rohan to get the team to Dubai by rigging the vote, they have to at least appear like a real — if somewhat inept — dance troupe. Nandu recruits Mohini (Deepika Padukone), an exotic dancer, to help them, though she’s kept out of the loop regarding the team’s true mission.

Mohini is the film’s best comic relief. She’s enamored of men who can speak English, so she falls instantly in love with Charlie. Her eyes glaze over when he says something as simple as, “Excuse me,” and a breeze magically appears to blow her hair. During one song-and-dance number, things catch on fire or explode every time she touches him.

Padukone deserves as much credit for her fit body as Khan does for his. She’s in amazing shape, as evidenced by her athletic dance moves in the song “Lovely.”

Director Khan — who also co-wrote the film — goes out of her way to treat Mohini’s bar dancer character with respect, reminding the audience that women choose such professions for a variety of reasons that have nothing to do with a lack of morals. Padukone does a wonderful job depicting Mohini’s resolve and self-respect.

The director’s progressive gender politics come through in the amount of skin she chooses to show as well. In a reversal of Bollywood norms, there are far more shots of Sood’s and Khan’s naked torsos than Padukone’s bare abdomen.

There’s also a nice example in Happy New Year of the difference between a racist character and a racist movie. The WDC’s defending champs hail from North Korea. When uneducated Nandu refers to the champs as Chinese, claiming that “they all look alike,” Charlie immediately rebukes him for it and greets the team in Korean.

On the other hand, the movie uses gay jokes as punchlines far too casually. Explicitly gay characters are costumed outrageously, and romantic overtures from one man to another are always shown as laughable or scary.

There’s also a brief shot in the film that will at the very least be jarring to Western audiences. The hotel vault holding the diamonds is lined by dozens of bodyguards of different ethnicities. The guard next to the door appears to be a white man, and he has a tattoo of a swastika on his right arm. I know that the swastika is a positive symbol in Hinduism, and perhaps the man is Indian. But in the West, the only white men with swastika tattoos are Neo-Nazis. Either way, in deference to international sensitivities, the filmmakers likely should’ve covered the tattoo.

Those issues aside, Happy New Year is exactly the lighthearted fare audiences want from a Bollywood spectacle. The characters are motivated by love for their family and country. Dance numbers feature colorful costumes and pyrotechnics. The talented cast supplies plenty of laughs. Kudos to Director Khan for giving her audience their money’s worth.

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Movie Review: Dhoom 3 (2013)

Dhoom_3_Film_Poster3 Stars (out of 4)

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There’s something liberating about a movie that makes it clear that it’s not supposed to be taken seriously. When concepts like physics and geography are chucked out the window with abandon, the audience has no choice but to accept the world as presented and go with it. Dhoom 3 is just such a movie: ridiculous and thoroughly enjoyable.

Dhoom 3 finds Mumbai police officers Jai (Abhishek Bachchan) and Ali (Uday Chopra) in Chicago to assist the police investigation of a bank robber who leaves messages in Hindi at every crime scene. Apparently, there are no CCTV cameras in the city, because the local police are unable to identify the brazen perpetrator: Sahir (Aamir Khan), a magician with a grudge against the bank.

Jai spearheads the investigation because Ali is too infatuated with their lovely local police contact, Victoria (Tabrett Brethell), to concentrate. Victoria’s only real purpose in the movie is to appear in funny dream sequences in which Ali seduces her while surrounded by their four imaginary future children.

During the course of the investigation, Sahir revives his father’s Great Indian Circus, a stage show featuring dancers, acrobats, and magicians. His star performer is Aaliya (Katrina Kaif), whom we know is supposed to be a free spirit because of her penchant for wearing floppy hats and overalls. Like Victoria, Aaliya has little to do apart from looking sexy during performances.

The movie’s action-packed first half features a couple of great-looking chase scenes through downtown Chicago, including a race along the Chicago River that sees the return of the submersible jet ski from Dhoom 2 (physics, be damned)! The second half becomes a personal drama that reveals how Sahir has been able to pull off his heists, that — as tonally incongruous as it is — still works because Aamir Khan is so darned talented.

Because I live about thirty miles from Chicago, I’ve really been looking forward to Dhoom 3. Evidently, so had everyone else in the theater, because everyone let out a cheer when “Chicago 1990” appeared on screen at the start of the film. As a local, here’s what stood out to me:

  • Dhoom 3‘s sense of geography is hilarious. I pity the poor tourist who comes to flat Chicago expecting to see the mountains Jai stares at out of his lakefront penthouse window. Also, good luck trying to make the motorcycle ride from Chicago to the Verzasca Dam in Switzerland.
  • One place that likely will see an uptick in movie-related tourism is Six Flags Great America. Not only are a number of scenes shot there, but the characters discuss the merits of its various roller coasters by name.
  • The movie is full of product placement — Mountain Dew, BMW, etc. — but there’s one corporation that apparently wouldn’t sign off on appearing in the movie: Dunkin’ Donuts. Their stores are EVERYWHERE in downtown Chicago, but you never see any on screen, a feat that seems impossible to accomplish by accident.
  • The accents of all the Chicago characters are whack. This is a Chicago accent.

Minor quibbles aside, Dhoom 3 did right by Chicago. Near the end of the film is a shot of what I think is the single most beautiful sight in the world: the city of Chicago at night. I hope the movie entices a few extra people to come visit us here in the Windy City. If nothing else, Dhoom 3 is a goofy, fun way to spend three hours in the theater.

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Movie Review: Bol Bachchan (2012)

3 Stars (out of 4)

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I try not to prejudge a movie before I see it, but I was sure I wasn’t going to like Bol Bachchan. Based on the trailer and promotional poster, I expected nothing but tacky gay jokes and dumb, goofball comedy. I was pleased to discover that my fears were unfounded. Bol Bachchan is genuinely funny.

Mistaken identity comedies seem to be a dime a dozen in Bollywood, but few are executed as well as Bol Bachchan (which translates to “A Bundle of Lies,” according to the title track’s lyrics). It helps that the film has a good template to work from. It’s a remake of 1979’s Gol Maal, which is unrelated to the three Golmaal movies from the last decade, all directed by Bol Bachchan‘s director, Rohit Shetty.

Bol Bachchan‘s story concerns the unlucky fate of Abbas Ali (Abhishek Bachchan). When Abbas and his sister, Sania (Asin), lose their house in Delhi, a family friend named Shastri (Asrani) offers to get Abbas a job with his employer. The employer is Prithviraj (Ajay Devgn), the richest guy in a small town.

While on a sightseeing tour of town with Shastri’s actor son, Ravi (Krushna Abhishek), Abbas sees a boy fall into a walled-in reservoir. To save the boy, Abbas — a Muslim — breaks open the locked gate to a Hindu temple.

When Prithviraj arrives and demands details of the boy’s rescue, Ravi panics and introduces Abbas with a made-up Hindu name: Abhishek Bachchan. Since there’s nothing tough-guy Prithviraj hates more than a liar, the lies about Abbas’ identity snowball until he winds up with multiple fake mothers and a pretend identical twin named Abbas Ali.

Some background knowledge of Hindi cinema is helpful for understanding some of the jokes — such as the fact that the Abhishek Bachchan is the name of both Abbas’ fake identity and the real actor playing him — but it’s not essential. References to the original Gol Maal are woven in nicely to the new film as a way to move the action forward, not just for nostalgia’s sake. For example, Prithviraj’s sidekick, Maakhan (Neeraj Vora), becomes suspicious of Abhishek after he sees a pertinent scene from Gol Maal on television.

The film’s PG rating is well-deserved. The kids in the audience at my showing laughed in all the right places, particularly at Prithviraj’s repeated mangling of English sayings, such as: “A brother in need is a sister indeed.”

I read an interview with director Shetty in which he said that he includes car-stunts in his films because he knows kids like them. The reactions of the kids at my showing prove that quality writing is just as important. There are plenty of movies with better stunts than the ones in Bol Bachchan — a van full of people is suddenly (and obviously) empty when it launches over a ramp — so they only serve to pad the film’s runtime unnecessarily.

The song-and-dance numbers are similarly forgettable filler material. The songs themselves lack pep, and the choreography suffers as a result.

Only one dance number stands out: Bachchan’s performance as Abhishek’s pretend gay identical twin, “Abbas.” In his audition to be the classical dance instructor for Prithviraj’s sister, Radhika (Prachi Desai), Abbas writhes mock-seductively, repulsing — and in one case, enticing — Prithviraj’s henchmen. It’s really funny, and not as tacky or offensive as I feared it could be.

Bachchan’s performance on the whole is very strong, as is Devgn’s. I think both actors are at their best in comic roles, and their performances in Bol Bachchan confirm my feelings. Neeraj Vora and Krushna Abhishek are also entertaining in their supporting roles. Sadly, there’s little for either of the female leads to do apart from act virtuous and mildly annoyed at Abbas’/Abhishek’s antics.

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Opening July 6: Bol Bachchan

The colorful action-comedy Bol Bachchan — starring Ajay Devgn and Abhishek Bachchan — opens in three Chicago area theaters on July 6, 2012.

Bol Bachchan opens on Friday at the Big Cinemas Golf Glen 5 in Niles, AMC South Barrington 30 in South Barrington, and Regal Cantera Stadium 17 in Warrenville. The movie is rated PG and has a listed runtime of 2 hrs. 30 min.

Teri Meri Kahaani carries over for a third week at the South Barrington 30, having earned $671,442 in the U.S. so far. Ferrari Ki Sawaari gets a fourth week at the Golf Glen 5. Its U.S. earnings stand at $420,046.

Other Indian movies showing at the Golf Glen 5 this weekend include Diamond Necklace (Malayalam), Romeo (Kannada), Eega (Telugu) and its Tamil version, Naan Ee.

The intriguing documentary Supermen of Malegaon released theatrically in India on June 29, but not in the U.S. However, as of July 4, the film is available for streaming internationally on Mela.

Also worth checking out is the cute new trailer for Barfi!, which opens on September 14:

Movie Review: Players (2012)

3 Stars (out of 4)

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With source material as rich as not one, but two, versions of The Italian Job to draw from, Players should be a slam dunk. Wisely, filmmaking duo Abbas-Mustan take the best aspects from their inspiration and add enough new touches to make it an enjoyable Indian action flick.

My biggest fear before seeing Players was that it wouldn’t be able to hold interest for 2 hours and 47 minutes. But Players is about as well-paced as a nearly three-hour-long movie can be, hitting plot points at the right times so as not to let the action drag.

Abhishek Bachchan anchors the film as Charlie Masceranas, a career thief. He learns from a dying friend about the Russian government’s plans to transfer a large amount of gold bars to Romania. With the help of his imprisoned mentor, Victor (Vinod Khanna), Charlie assembles a team of experts to execute a daring heist.

The team includes Charlie’s sometimes girlfriend, Riya (Bipasha Basu), master of disguise Sunny (Omi Vaidya), explosives expert Bilal (Sikander Kher), illusionist Ronnie (Bobby Deol) and a hacker named Spider (Neil Nitin Mukesh).

So as not to appear to condone thievery, the filmmakers give the crew corny motivations for stealing the gold. Charlie wants to fulfill Victor’s dream of opening India’s largest orphanage. Ronnie, a former magician, wants to build a fully automated house for his daughter, who was accidentally paralyzed during one of his tricks.

Ronnie gets some unintentionally hilarious lines when he explains the end of his stage career: “Magic doesn’t do anything. It only ruins lives.”

Thankfully, Sunny, Bilal, Spider and Riya are just in it for the money. When the plan goes awry, Victor’s daughter, Naina (Sonam Kapoor), comes to Charlie’s aid.

There are some nice interactions between the team members. Sunny and Bilal are funny sparring partners, and Naina’s crush on Charlie creates tension between her and Riya. Charlie is the anchor, but this really is an ensemble film.

Besides the star cast, the movie’s main attractions are its action sequences. The gold-theft scene is tense, and the car chases are pretty good. Strange editing and artificially sped-up shots keep the fight scenes from looking their best, but interesting locales like Russia and New Zealand elevate the whole experience.

A tendency toward corniness pervades Players, to its detriment. It keeps the film from achieving the snappy sophistication of the films that inspired it. In addition to Charlie’s and Ronnie’s Robin Hood motivations, the score heavy-handedly tries to provoke emotions.

The most pandering element in Players is the needless inclusion of comic actor Johnny Lever, a regular feature in Abbas-Mustan films. I don’t find Lever funny, or more accurately, I don’t find the outrageous characters he always plays funny. That directors feel the need to pair his appearances with wacky sound effects just makes things worse. Any spell the movie could hope to cast is broken when Lever appears onscreen.

Another element that can’t be overlooked is how pointedly the movie targets a male audience. Basu and Kapoor both have a couple of forgettable dance numbers requiring to them to gyrate in skimpy dresses. Another female character is viewed through frosted glass as she showers. Almost every Anglo woman in the movie is kitted out in hot pants.

Yet the male stars aren’t required to doff their clothes, apart from a brief scene featuring Mukesh in a bubble bath. Bachchan and Deol are regular romantic leads, and Kher is clearly fit. Why not work in a shirtless shot of one of them, in the name of gender equality?

The thread of sexism isn’t limited to who’s asked to expose the most skin. Naina and Riya are both asked to play the role of seductress to aid the team, which features five men (six, including Victor) and only two women. Language denigrating women goes largely unchallenged by the male heroes.

That said, Players works as an action film. It hits the right notes often enough to sustain excitement for almost three hours, which is the primary objective of any action movie.

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Opening January 6: Players

2012 kicks off in star-studded style when the Bollywood action film Players hits theaters on January 6. The remake of The Italian Job (complete with Mini Coopers) stars Abhishek Bachchan, Bipasha Basu, Sonam Kapoor, Bobby Deol and Neil Nitin Mukesh.

Players opens in the Chicago area on Friday at the Big Cinemas Golf Glen 5 in Niles, AMC South Barrington 30 in South Barrington and Regal Cantera Stadium 17 in Warrenville. The movie has a lengthy runtime of 2 hrs. 47 min.

Given how well Don 2 has performed during its first two weeks in theaters, it’s no surprise that the 3D heist film carries over for a third week at all of the above theaters. Its total U.S. haul stands at $3,288,692.

Other Indian movies showing at the Golf Glen 5 this weekend include Beautiful (Malayalam), Rajanna (Telugu) and Rajapattai (Tamil).

Movie Review: Bluffmaster! (2005)

3 Stars (out of 4)

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After being disappointed by Dum Maaro Dum, I decided to check out the first collaboration between Abhishek Bachchan and director Rohan Sippy: Bluffmaster! The pair’s first effort is clearly the superior of the two.

Bachchan stars in Bluffmaster! as conman Roy Kapoor. His heists have netted him loads of cash, and he has a sweet girlfriend named Simi (Priyanka Chopra) who thinks he’s a stockbroker. Simi learns the truth about him when a movie producer Roy conned shows up at their wedding.

Six months later, as Roy mourns his failed relationship with Simi, he watches a pair of small-time con artists trick a doctor out of his wallet. Roy retrieves the wallet and earns the friendship of the doctor, Bhalerao (Boman Irani). One of the cons, Dittu (Ritesh Deshmukh) is so impressed with Roy’s skills that he asks to become Roy’s student.

While Roy contemplates Dittu’s offer, he begins experiencing blackouts. Dr. Bhalerao discovers an inoperable brain tumor and gives Roy just months to live. Given Roy’s history of untruths, Simi assumes Roy’s brain tumor story is a trick and slams the door on him.

Dittu, unaware of Roy’s condition, explains that a prominent hotelier tricked his father out of his life savings. Roy decides to spend the little time he has left helping Dittu get his father’s money back. It’s the first time in Roy’s life that he’s ever put someone else’s needs above his own.

What distinguishes Bluffmaster! from Dum Maaro Dum is the former’s superior plot structure. While Dum Maaro Dum is mired in flashbacks and sideplots, Bluffmaster! moves forward at a steady clip. Just as it appears Roy may have a chance to win Simi back after all, his scheme with Dittu becomes more complicated than he expected. All the while, the threat of imminent death hangs over Roy’s head.

Bluffmaster! is based on the Argentine movie Nine Queens, which was also remade in America as Criminal. Additionally, Bluffmaster! shares similarities with Hollywood films like The Game and Matchstick Men. All of these movies directly or indirectly supply the template for Bluffmaster!. Meticulous continuity is the only way to make such a complex story work, and it does so in Sippy’s sophomore directorial effort.

The acting is uniformly good. Bachchan brings charm to a character who is initially a selfish crook. Irani is stellar as an elder who sees potential in Roy and has great affection for him. Chopra and Deshmukh are solid as the skeptic and the sidekick, respectively.

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