Tag Archives: Ayesha Takia

Movie Review: Paathshaala (2010)

0.5 Stars (out of 4)

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The first scene in Paathshaala contains a closeup of a boy’s crotch as he pees himself. Need I write more, or is that sufficient evidence that this is a terrible movie?

Paathshaala (“School”) strives to be the after school special version of Taare Zameen Par, a movie which itself is drearily on-the-nose in its critique of the Indian school system. Paathshaala lacks sophistication in its storytelling and bores as it attempts to make a statement.

Nana Patekar plays Aditya Sahay, principal of an elite private boarding school that’s low on funds. Shortly after the arrival of a new English teacher named Rahul (Shahid Kapoor), the well-respected principal announces bizarre changes at the school.

Sahay turns control of the school over to a management firm who want to increase the school’s profile and cash flow by entering all of the students in reality TV competition shows. Rather than studying, students spend the day auditioning for singing competitions and arranging themselves in human pyramids in the hot sun.

Why Sahay allows his school to be turned into a joke isn’t explained until the last ten minutes of the movie. The explanation is ludicrous: the school board demanded more revenue and, out of other options and not wishing to burden the staff and students with the problem, Sahay allowed the board to implement changes.

This is stupid for a number of reasons. First, there’s no reason for Sahay to keep the board’s demands secret. It would’ve been a more interesting movie had he explained the problem and the students themselves came up with the plan to compete on reality shows.

The second issue with Sahay quietly acceding to the board’s wishes is that it turns him into a villain. He assumes responsibility for the changes even as his students pay the price in injuries, exhaustion and missed educational opportunities. If Sahay loves his school as much as he claims to in a tedious speech at the end of the film, he never would’ve put his students at risk.

Sahay, however, isn’t even the focal point of the movie; Shahid Kapoor is front and center on the movie poster. Rahul is supposed to be the cute, cool new teacher. He wears jeans in class, high fives his students and plays guitar for them (though Kapoor doesn’t bother to strum the guitar as he “plays” it).

Rahul’s attempts to befriend his pupils would have the opposite effect in reality. The kids would think he was trying too hard to be one of them and dismiss him as a dork.

The rest of the teachers are mere caricatures. The nutritionist/lunch lady played by Ayesha Takia is there to look pretty. The kids are supposed to be cute but wind up as annoying screen fillers. In every respect, Paathshaala fails to make the grade.

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Movie Review: Wanted (2009)

wanted-20091 Star (out of 4)

Buy the DVD at Amazon
Buy the soundtrack at Amazon

Wanted is a movie with an identity crisis. Is it a gruesome action flick? A mafia thriller? A slapstick comedy? A scathing critique of police corruption? A romantic drama? A musical?

The film contains elements of all these genres, and as a result, Wanted is a schizophrenic mess.

Salman Khan plays Radhe, an uber-cool thug who can take down a roomful of bad guys single-handedly. He’s the kind of guy to whom you’d apply a tagline like, “Every man wants to be him. Every woman wants to be with him.”

Of course Radhe’s trumped up machismo makes him completely unrelatable and unlikable, but the filmmakers go with it anyway.

Radhe works as a hired gun with no allegiance to the feuding mafia dons who hire him. He’s got three loafer buddies who conveniently show up whenever the girl of Radhe’s dreams, Jhanvi (Ayesha Takia), walks by, triggering dream sequence dance numbers.

The beautiful Jhanvi is pursued by the lecherous, corrupt police inspector Talpade, giving Radhe plenty of opportunities to come to her rescue. Jhanvi falls for Radhe until he kills about twenty guys in front of her (hey, they shot at him first!), making her question whether he’s marriage material after all.

Eventually, the biggest don around comes to town, and things get really bloody. There are rapes, kidnappings and beatings, and the police seem unable or unwilling to do anything about it. Jhanvi has Radhe to protect her, but is that enough when the rest of the world is falling apart?

Now, don’t let me mislead you. The plot isn’t nearly as straightforward as I’ve made it seem. There are several unnecessary dance numbers, as well as a subplot involving Jhanvi’s portly landlord, whose every entrance is announced by either a dopey musical theme or elephant sound effects.

All of this nonsense occurs amidst graphic, bloody deaths and frequent instances of sexual violence against women. Mahesh Manjrekar is exceptionally slimy as Inspector Talpade, who at one point proposes to Jhanvi’s mom an arrangement in which he gets to rape both of them at will.

Immediately following this uncomfortable scene, the inspector walks outside and finds the fat landlord trying to hide behind a tiny potted plant. The inspector punches the landlord in the eye, knocking him down. When he comes up, his eye is surrounded by a circle of black makeup — an instant, comic black eye! Then the inspector does the same to the landlord’s other eye. Goofy music plays in the background.

The juxtaposition of these two scenes highlights Wanted‘s misogyny. That the movie seems to suggest that the only way for a woman to save herself from this systematic violence is to find a muscly guy like Salman Khan to protect her just worsens the insult.

Don’t worry, ladies. At least you get to see Salman with his shirt off. That makes up for Wanted‘s cavalier attitude toward rape, right?