Tag Archives: All The Best

Movie Review: Housefull (2010)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Buy the DVD at Amazon
Buy the soundtrack at Amazon

These days, it’s safe to assume that any movie starring Akshay Kumar is a slapstick comedy. Such is the case with Housefull. Yet the strength of the cast and some well-executed bits make Housefull better than the average Bollywood screwball comedy.

Kumar plays Aarush, a guy whose luck is so bad that a casino pays him to walk around the gaming floor when the house is losing too much money, jinxing the players just by being near them. When his girlfriend turns down his marriage proposal, he flies to London to commiserate with his childhood buddy, Bob (Ritesh Deshmukh).

Bob, a card dealer, is married to Hetal (Lara Dutta), who works as a cocktail waitress. Within hours of his arrival, Aarush accidentally destroys Bob & Hetal’s home, along with their pet parrot. Hetal takes pity on Aarush, who has no other family or friends. She herself is estranged from her father, Batuk (Boman Irani), who wanted her to marry a wealthier man than Bob.

The couple arranges a marriage between Aarush and Devika (Jiah Khan), the daughter of a wealthy casino owner. But on their honeymoon in Italy, Devika reveals that she agreed to the marriage only to pacify her father, who disapproved of her Anglo boyfriend. Distraught, Aarush tries to kill himself, only to be rescued by the lovely Sandy (Deepika Padukone).

Aarush’s bad luck inspires most of the jokes in the early part of the movie but becomes less important the more characters are introduced. Housefull transitions into a comedy about mistaken identities, usually involving characters pretending to be married to someone to whom they are not.

The slapstick humor in Housefull is, at times, surprisingly funny. One example is a fistfight between Aarush and a monkey. On paper, it sounds stupid. But slow-motion closeups of a human fist hitting a monkey in the jaw, followed by a closeup of Aarush taking a small monkey fist to the cheek, accompanied by a Rocky-inspired soundtrack, manage to be hilarious onscreen.

Chunky Pandey also deserves praise for his turn as Akhri Pasta, the half-Indian, half-Italian hotel owner (his father was named Spaghetti Pasta). He wears a leisure suit and speaks in a jumble of Italian, Spanish and celebrity names: “Mama mia! Gracias. Al Pacino.” Pandey takes the role far enough to sell it, but not so far as to be annoying. It shouldn’t be so funny, but it is.

Besides being a bit predictable, the movie has two big flaws. The ending scene is too long and unfunny. If a movie is going to last more than two-and-a-half hours, it had better be for a good reason.

The second problem is a moment of racial insensitivity. It’s minor compared to some other Hindi films (Kambakkht Ishq and All the Best, for instance), but it points to a lack of understanding of when a joke crosses the line.

In order to validate a lie, Hetal borrows a baby to pass off as her own. The only kid to be found on short notice is the son of her black co-worker. When Hetal’s father remarks on the unexpected race of his grandson, Aarush (who’s pretending to be Hetal’s husband) blurts out that his mother was from Africa.

That’s where the joke should have ended. But Aarush begins to jump up and down holding an imaginary spear, mimicking a Maasai tribesman.

It’s not a joke born out of malice, but it trades on a stereotype in a way that lacks self-awareness. It’s awkward enough to draw attention to itself, ruining the sense of being immersed in the movie.

* Housefull has a posted runtime of 2 hrs. 15 min., but it’s actually closer to 2 hrs. 35 min.

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Worst Bollywood Movies of 2009

There are a number of factors I considered when selecting candidates for Worst Bollywood Movie of 2009. Movies featuring racist jokes, such as Kambakkht Ishq and All the Best, obviously made the list. Incoherent plots brought Wanted and De Dana Dan to my attention, whereas Main Aurr Mrs. Khanna ignored traditional story structure and skipped the climax all together.

Ek — The Power of One deserves mention for its ridiculous title, which translates in English to “One — The Power of One”.

What’s Your Raashee? was easily the biggest disappointment of the year, coming from Ashutosh Gowariker, the filmmaker responsible for great flicks like Lagaan, Swades and Jodhaa Akbar.

2009 was a particularly bad year for Akshay Kumar. In addition to Kambakkht Ishq and De Dana Dan, he also starred in the bland supernatural thriller 8×10 Tasveer. His two other releases during the calendar year, Blue and Chandni Chowk to China, were fine but forgettable.

Because of their spectacular misunderstanding of human emotions and dubious moral messages, I thought about giving the award to either Kal Kissne Dekha or London Dreams. Kal Kissne Dekha suggested that one’s value is dependent upon one’s ability to save lives via superhuman powers, while London Dreams excused abhorrent behavior so long as it was committed in pursuit of a selfish goal.

But the ultimate winner had to be the most annoying, most cliché-riddled movie of the year, the worst of the worst. And the winner of Worst Bollywood Movie of 2009 is: Do Knot Disturb.

Do Knot Disturb, which deserves the honor based on its stupid title alone, contains all of the bad clichés that dominate Hindi comedies at the moment. The plot is based on a series of misunderstandings which could be clarified if the characters actually had conversations with one another. The jokes are written based on volume instead of quality, under the mistaken belief that what was funny the first time is even funnier the sixth, seventh and eighth time.

Case in point, the high-pitched screaming match between characters played by Govinda and Ritesh Deshmukh. The characters get spooked by something and start shrieking in girlish voices. The gag isn’t original, but it’s not inherently annoying. But in Do Knot Disturb, the characters scream dialogue at each other in those high-pitched voices for the next ten minutes of the movie.

After one minute, the gag had already stopped being funny. After ten minutes, it was unbearable. I actually walked out of the theater and only convinced myself to return out of a sense of journalistic duty. By virtue of having watched all but one minute of the movie, I can say that Do Knot Disturb is the worst Hindi film of 2009.

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Opening October 30: Aladin and London Dreams

If you can’t get enough Sanjay Dutt, you’re in luck. He’s back in theaters in one of the two new Bollywood films opening in the Chicago area this weekend.

Dutt plays the villain in a live-action version of Aladin, which also stars Ritesh Deshmukh as the title character and Amitabh Bachchan as the genie. Aladin‘s runtime is listed as 2 hrs. 12 min.

This weekend’s other opening is London Dreams, starring Ajay Devgan and Salman Khan as pals whose friendship is tested by international rock stardom. London Dreams has a runtime of 2 hrs. 30 min.

Both movies will open in the Chicago area at the AMC Cantera 30 in Warrenville and AMC South Barrington 30 in South Barrington. London Dreams will play at the AMC Loews Pipers Alley 4 in Chicago and Big Cinemas Golf Glen 5 in Niles as well.

Older Hindi movies sticking around in theaters include Blue and All The Best, both at the South Barrington 30 and Golf Glen 5. Blue will also continue showing at the Cantera 30.

Other Indian films in Chicago area theaters this weekend include the Telugu movie Ek Niranjan and the Malayalam movie Pazhassi Raja at the Golf Glen 5. Sathyam Cinemas in Downers Grove will show the Tamil movie Kanden Kadhalai.

Movie Review: All The Best (2009)

allthebest1 Star (out of 4)

Buy the DVD at Amazon
Buy the soundtrack at Amazon

For the first two hours, All The Best is a tolerable if uninspired slapstick comedy. But, due to the movie’s racist final scene, it’s not worth watching.

The movie focuses on aspiring rock star Vir (Fardeen Khan), who lives off of the largess of his globe-trotting step-brother, Dharam (Sanjay Dutt). In order to get a larger monthly allowance from Dharam, Vir tells his brother that his girlfriend, Vidya (Mugdha Godse), is actually his wife.

Since the two brothers rarely see each other, the lie goes unchallenged until Dharam lands in town for a layover on his way to the small African country of Lesotho. The layover turns into an extended stay when the country experiences a military coup.

Vir turns to his best friend, Prem (Ajay Devgan), for help. Since this is a comedy, all of Prem’s ideas to deceive Dharam make things worse, especially when Dharam mistakes Prem’s wife, Jhanvi (Bipasha Basu), for Vir’s pretend wife, Vidya.

The bulk of the humor centers on mistaken identities and the friends’ attempts to keep the truth from hot-tempered Dharam. Basu and Ashwini Kalsekar, who plays Vir’s maid, Mary, are the most successful at generating laughs.

But All The Best falls back on the same cliche seen in many recent Bollywood comedies: gangsters. If one were to form an impression of modern India based solely on Hindi cinema, India would seem as overrun with gangsters as Chicago was in the 1920s, only with the gangsters more inept and less threatening than their American predecessors.

The most pathetically unfunny of the bunch is Topu (Johny Lever), the mute gang leader. He communicates with his lackeys by banging a spoon against a glass, as though he were trying to get a newly-married couple to kiss at their wedding reception. It’s the stupidest gimmick since the mute villain in Karzzzz, who communicated via a musical keypad on his wrist.

Such lame gimmicks might be forgivable, if not for the movie’s final scene, involving several characters from Lesotho. They speak in something that’s supposed to sound like Swahili, even though Swahili isn’t an official language of Lesotho. I can’t prove it, but I’m guessing the filmmakers didn’t spring to hire an actual Swahili translator, and that the words are just gibberish that’s supposed to sound “African.” [Update: A kind Access Bollywood reader, Samuel, let me know that the language is in fact Swahili.]

If that weren’t insulting enough, three of the characters are Indian actors — including Bipasha Basu — in blackface make up. Coming just a few weeks after American musician Harry Connick Jr. took an Australian comedy troupe to task for the same offense, All The Best‘s racist attempt at humor comes off as particularly crude.

For Indian cinema to be taken seriously in the rest of the world, it needs to drop these outdated, racist jokes. Bollywood’s top stars need to lead the way. Bipasha Basu should have refused to perform the scene in blackface, just as Akshay Kumar should’ve said no to his blackface scene in Kambakkht Ishq.

Opening October 16: Blue, All The Best, and Main Aurr Mrs. Khanna

The Diwali holiday weekend brings three big Hindi films to Chicago area theaters, with Sanjay Dutt playing major roles in two of them.

The first is Blue, an undersea adventure in which Dutt and Akshay Kumar search for treasure on a sunken ship, surrounded by sharks. Kylie Minogue adds a song to A. R. Rahman’s soundtrack: the absurdly-titled “Chiggy Wiggy.” Blue‘s runtime is listed as 1 hr. 55 min.

Next is the second Sanjay Dutt starrer, All The Best. It’s a comedy involving gangsters and a plot to trick Dutt’s wealthy character into believing his step-brother is married. I can’t make heads or tails of it based on the official story summary, nor can I figure out how Ajay Devgan’s auto mechanic character figures into the plot. I have very low expectations for All The Best, which has an official runtime of 2 hrs. 24 min.

Finally, the drama Main Aurr Mrs. Khanna, starring Kareena Kapoor as the title character. After a falling out with her husband (Salman Khan), she must choose between him and another man, played by Sohail Khan, Salman’s real-life younger brother. Main Aurr Mrs. Khanna has a runtime of 2 hrs. 15 min.

All three movies will open on Friday, October 16 at Big Cinemas Golf Glen 5 in Niles, AMC South Barrington 30 in South Barrington and AMC Cantera 30 in Warrenville. Blue will also open at AMC Pipers Alley 4 in Chicago and supposedly the Milan Theaters in Waukegan (call the theater first to verify).

Entering its third week in theaters is Wake Up Sid, which has earned $611,574 in U.S. theaters so far. It will continue to play at the Cantera 30 and South Barrington 30. Also continuing for a third week at the South Barrington 30 is Do Knot Disturb. Its total U.S. earnings amount to $213,525.

Other Indian films playing in the Chicago area this weekend include the Tamil film Aadhavan at the Golf Glen 5 and a trio of movies at Sathyam Cinemas in Downers Grove: Eeram (Tamil), Unnaipol Oruvan (Tamil) and Mahatma (Telugu).