Tag Archives: Arshad Warsi

Opening February 22: Kai Po Che and Zila Ghaziabad

There are two new Hindi movies opening in the Chicago area on February 22, 2013, though, sadly, Rise of the Zombie is not one of them. Kai Po Che is a coming-of-age story about three friends trying to establish themselves in Ahmedabad in the early 2000’s.

Kai Po Che opens on Friday at the AMC River East 21 in Chicago, Big Cinemas Golf Glen 5 in Niles, AMC South Barrington 30 in South Barrington, and Regal Cantera Stadium 17 in Warrenville. It has a listed runtime of 2 hrs. 10 min.

The political action thriller Zila Ghaziabad is this week’s other new release. It stars Sanjay Dutt, Arshad Warsi, and Vivek Oberoi.

Zila Ghaziabad also opens on Friday at all of the above theaters except the River East 21. It’s rated PG-13 and has a listed runtime of 2 hrs. 24 min.

Special 26 carries over for a third week at the Cantera 17 and South Barrington 30, which also holds over ABCD for a third week.

Other Indian movies showing at the Golf Glen 5 this weekend include Aadhi Bhagavan (Tamil), Annayum Rasoolum (Malayalam), and Jabardasth (Telugu).

Movie Review: Hum Tum Aur Ghost (2010)

2.5 Stars (out of 4)

Buy the DVD at Amazon
Buy the soundtrack at Amazon

Most Bollywood remakes of Hollywood movies aren’t strict copies of the original films. In addition to a few dance numbers or musical montages, Hindi versions usually introduce extra plot material: a romance, medical problems or a parent-child conflict. Hum Tum Aur Ghost (“You, Me and the Ghost”) — a remake of 2008’s Ghost Town — includes all of the above. It works, but it’s not an improvement.

Arshad Warsi plays Armaan, a London fashion photographer who can’t sleep because he hears voices when he’s alone. To drown out the voices, Armaan gets drunk and naps on a bench in the train station: a charmingly quirky habit until the voices take form as people only he can see.

One of those people is Kapoor (Boman Irani), who explains that he’s a ghost, as are the other voices and apparitions. They all have unfinished business on earth, and, since they’re non-corporeal, they need Armaan’s help.

Most of the tasks are trivial, complicated or annoying. Armaan decides to help a ghost named Carol (Zehra Naqvi) find her son. Not to be put off, Kapoor –whose task involves bank robbery — blackmails Armaan into helping him by temporarily assuming control of his body and making him do embarrassing or dangerous things.

Armaan’s increasingly weird behavior concerns his girlfriend, Gehna (Diya Mirza). First, she assumes he’s having an affair with his best friend, Mini (Sandhya Mridul). Then, she fears that he’s schizophrenic. It’s up to Armaan to convince Gehna that he’s not crazy, while simultaneously aiding the ghosts that only he can see.

I liked the Hollywood version of this story, which starred Ricky Gervais and Greg Kinnear. Ghost Town ends when Gervais’ character is able to help Kinnear’s ghost complete his mission. Hum Tum Aur Ghost should’ve ended similarly, when Kapoor’s issues are resolved. But it continues, focusing on the search for Carol’s son and Armaan’s disintegrating relationship with Gehna.

The additional material isn’t as emotionally effective as the story that precedes it. In fact, it goes out of its way to be extra melodramatic. There’s a predictable “shocking” twist regarding Armaan’s parentage, and there’s even a car chase, both of which are unnecessary.

Director Kabeer Kaushik mistakenly thinks that the heart of the film is Armaan’s relationship with Gehna; it’s really Armaan’s relationship with Kapoor. Warsi and Irani give atypically subdued performances which emphasize the theme that love is the most important thing in life. There’s a shamelessly tear-jerking moment when Armaan, accompanied by invisible Kapoor, pays a visit to Kapoor’s widow. I’ll admit the ploy worked on me.


Movie Review: Ishqiya (2010)

4 Stars (out of 4)

Buy the DVD at Amazon
Buy the soundtrack at Amazon

My enjoyment of most movies doesn’t hinge completely on the quality of the acting. I suppose that, when done well, you’re not even supposed to notice the acting. But the three leads in Ishqiya elevate an otherwise small and straightforward story to a work of art.

The film opens on a loving young couple engaged in a disagreement. The wife, Krishna (Vidya Balan) asks her husband, Vidyadhar (Adil Hussain) to abandon his criminal ways. He’s non-committal, though he professes to love her. As she walks through a dark hallway carrying a sacred flame on a tray, the camera cuts to the exterior of the house as an explosion destroys one of the rooms.

We next see Krishna as she opens the gate surrounding what’s left of the house to admit two of her husband’s former associates. Khalujaan (Naseeruddin Shah) and Babban (Arshad Warsi) are an uncle-nephew pair of thieves on the run from their latest victim, Khalujaan’s brother-in-law. They arrive at the house hoping that Vidyadhar will be able to help them cross the border into Nepal. Krishna informs them that her husband is dead.

She allows them to hide out at her house until they can figure out an escape plan. Krishna’s beautiful voice, which she uses to sing old movie tunes, enchants Khalujaan, even though he’s old enough to be her father.

Khalujaan considers Krishna’s reserved nature evidence of her modesty; Babban thinks she’s hiding something. His suspicions are confirmed when Krishna reveals a dangerous plan to earn them enough money to pay off the brother-in-law and make them all rich.

Ishqiya has some of the best acting I’ve ever seen in a Hindi movie. Okay, any movie. Balan plays Krishna perfectly. She’s not your typical seductress. She’s cautious, as a woman who’s been living on her own should be, but she knows how to entice both men to fall for her. Whether that was part of her plan all along or just an impulse of a lonely woman, it’s impossible to tell.

Lately, Shah seems to only get cast in smaller, cameo roles that don’t give him much to do. Khalujaan is the meatiest role I’ve seen him play, and he’s tremendous. Shah is nearly 60, but plays Khulajaan like a teenager with a crush. The performance is both charming and heart-breaking because the odds are against Krishna reciprocating Khalujaan’s feelings.

Before Ishqiya, I disliked Arshad Warsi. In movies like Krazzy 4, Golmaal Returns, and Short Kut, I felt his performances were more loud than funny. I was happy to be proven wrong. Babban is a lech, but Warsi gives him a vulnerability that makes him a viable romantic match for Krishna. His falling for her is inevitable, and a lesser movie would make that love reason enough for her to fall in love with him. Thanks to Warsi, Babban is just charming enough that we believe Krishna could have feelings for him.

Writer-director Abhishek Chaubey does a superb job with his first movie. The story is small, and Chaubey, appropriately, doesn’t overreach. No big special effects, lavish dance numbers or distracting cameos. The attention stays focused on the three leads with straightforward camera work and a direct storytelling style.

Chaubey previously worked with director Vishal Bhardwaj on movies like Makdee, Omkara and Kaminey. The two worked together again on Ishqiya, which Bhardwaj produced and co-wrote. He also wrote the movie’s wonderful music.

In one scene, Krishna sings to herself while chopping vegetables. There’s no accompanying music, just a solo woman’s voice. The visuals and sound editing were so seamless that I was sure it really was Balan singing. Turns out it was the voice of Rekha Bhardwaj, Vishal’s wife.

The scene exemplifies all that’s great about Ishqiya. Chaubey pays close attention to small details, making the film immersive. And he’s willing to give time to such a simple scene that reveals so much about the characters. After such a terrific debut, I’m eager to see what Chaubey does next.

Note: I watched Ishqiya on a DVD produced by Shemaroo. A watermark of the company’s logo appeared in the bottom right corner of the screen throughout the whole movie. Eventually I was able to ignore it, but I found the practice annoying.


Opening January 29: Rann and Ishqiya

Two new Hindi movies open in the Chicago area on Friday, January 29, 2010. Rann (“Battle”) is director Ram Gopal Varma’s fictional exposé of corporate media corruption, starring Amitabh Bachchan and Ritesh Deshmukh.

Rann opens this Friday at Big Cinemas Golf Glen 5 in Niles and AMC South Barrington 30 in South Barrington. It has a listed runtime of 2 hrs. 25 min.

This weekend’s other new movie is Ishqiya, starring Vidya Balan as an alluring widow and Arshad Warsi and Naseeruddin Shah as the two thieves who fall in love with her.

Ishqiya opens on Friday at the Golf Glen 5.

Salman Khan’s Veer enters its second week in area theaters after earning $334,562 in the U.S. in its opening weekend. The movie carries over at the Golf Glen 5, South Barrington 30 and AMC Cantera 30 in Warrenville.

The super hit 3 Idiots sticks around for an amazing sixth week, having already earned $6,294,393 in U.S. theaters. It continues to run at the Golf Glen 5, South Barrington 30, Cantera 30 and AMC Loews Pipers Alley 4 in Chicago.

Chance Pe Dance leaves theaters after two weeks, having earned a disappointing $164,188 total in the U.S.

Other Indian films in Chicago area theaters this weekend include the Telugu movies Adurs and Namo Venkatesha at the Golf Glen 5, and Goa (Tamil) and Palery Manickyam (Malayalam) at Sathyam Cinemas in Downers Grove.

Movie Review: Short Kut (2009)

shortkut2 Stars (out of 4)

Buy the DVD at Amazon
Buy the soundtrack at Amazon

The message of Short Kut: The Con is On is that there’s no short cut to success. The message seems ironic, coming from a clone of the Malayalam film Udayananu Tharam, which itself was a remake of Bowfinger, an American movie that also featured Short Kut’s tagline: “The Con is On.” But Short Kut makes its point in amusing enough fashion, even if the villain does get more screentime than the hero.

The film begins with the hero, Shekhar (Akshaye Khanna), deciding to finally write and direct his own Bollywood film, after working twelve years as an assistant director. He’s adamant that he succeed on his own merit, so he keeps his relationship with superstar actress Mansi (Amrita Rao) a secret.

While Shekhar finishes his script, his former pal, Raju (Arshad Warsi), shows up to crash in Shekhar’s apartment. Raju is convinced he’s a superstar actor just waiting to be discovered, though everyone else knows he’s a talentless leech.

Raju steals Shekhar’s script and gives it to a producer who declares it so good that it would be a hit even if a total idiot played the lead. To prove his point, the producer gives the role to Raju. The film is a hit.

The rest of the story deals with the damage Raju’s theft does to Shekhar’s ego and his relationship with Mansi. However, the lovebirds don’t get as much screentime as Raju, whom fame has turned into an insufferable megalomaniac.

It’s easy to write scenes for Raju; the audience knows he’s a buffoon, and it’s fun to see him get his comeuppance. But there are a few scenes where Raju is cruel for cruelty’s sake, and it’s uncomfortable to watch. Worse, it distracts from the genuine struggle Shekhar is going through.

Short Kut drags in its second half, but it’s a watchable movie, overall. There are some nice scenes between Shekhar and his junior-artist friend, Anwar, as well as between Shekhar and Mansi. Unfortunately, the English subtitles disappear during a pivotal speech by Mansi, but the rest of the movie’s translation is pretty good.

Opening July 10: Short Kut

This is the fourth consecutive week of new Bollywood releases in the Chicago area since the strike ended. Opening in theaters on Friday, July 10, 2009 is Short Kut: The Con is On, a movie about a small-time actor (Arshad Warsi) who steals a script and becomes a Bollywood star. Hilarity (allegedly) ensues when the script’s writer (Akshaye Khanna) gets his revenge.

Short Kut will run at the Big Cinemas Golf Glen 5 in Niles and at the AMC South Barrington 30 in South Barrington. It’s runtime is listed as 2 hrs 19 min.

The AMC South Barrington 30 and the AMC Cantera 30 in Warrenville will both continue to run New York and Kambakkht Ishq. Both movies have already earned nearly $1 million in the U.S.

Kambakkht Ishq is also getting a second week at the AMC Loews Pipers Alley 4 in Chicago and at the Golf Glen 5.

Other Indian movies playing in the Chicago area this weekend include Bhramaram (Malayalam), Oy! (Telugu) and Made In China [which may be a rerelease of Chandni Chowk to China, I’m not sure] at the Big Cinemas Golf Glen 5. Sathyam Cinemas in Downers Grove is showing the Telugu film Gopi Gopika Godavari.

Here’s a trailer for this week’s new release, Short Kut: