Tag Archives: Bobby Deol

Movie Review: Race 3 (2018)

1.5 Stars (out of 4)

Buy the soundtrack at iTunes

Director Remo D’Souza knows how to stage a big-screen spectacle, yet he seems overwhelmed by the baggage that comes with Race 3.

Most of that weight comes in the form of Salman Khan, whose stardom requires an outsized chunk of narrative space and screentime. Trying to give sufficient due to all of the other well-known cast members in the film — an admirable goal, for sure — expands the runtime beyond what the story can comfortably accommodate. Add to that the pressure of being bigger and bolder than the two previous movies in a series known for its outlandishness, and it’s simply too much.

Race 3 is a sequel in name only. Returning cast members Anil Kapoor and Jacqueline Fernandez play different characters than they did in Race 2, and the story takes place in a different narrative universe.

This time, Kapoor plays Shamsher Singh, an arms dealer living in exile in the Middle East after being falsely accused of illegal dealings back in India. He hopes to return home with the help of his stepson Sikander (Khan) and his twin children, Sanjana (Daisy Shah) and Suraj (Saqib Saleem). The family is assisted by Shamsher’s right-hand-man, Raghu (Sharat Saxena), and Sikander’s bodyguard and best friend, Yash (Bobby Deol).

Shamsher’s favoritism for Sikander has driven a wedge between the half-siblings over the course of decades, further inflamed when their mother’s will gives half of the family fortune to Sikander, forcing the twins to share the remaining half. When Yash’s new girlfriend Jessica (Jacqueline Fernandez) is revealed to have once romanced Sikander, the crew combusts.

The characters and their relationships are established via long scenes of dialogue that fall flat. Then, the Race story formula — with characters tricking one another, but planning ahead because they know their targets know they’re being tricked, etc. — kicks into full effect, necessitating even more boring dialogue. No individual character is particularly interesting, though the scheming twins had potential had D’Souza and franchise screenwriter Shiraz Ahmed pushed things in an edgier direction.

So much downtime allows one to imagine the Race 3 characters in other, potentially better movies. Shah and Saleem as creepy twins in a horror flick or sinister thriller. An action comedy starring Kapoor and Saxena, with Rajesh Sharma — who appears in Race 3 as Shamsher’s hometown friend — as their beleaguered younger sidekick. Fernandez starring in, well, anything else that utilizes her bubbly personality.

Fernandez and Shah feature in Race 3‘s most entertaining fight scene, flying through the air in a nightclub tussle. Shah has another fun bit when her long designer gown hampers her ability to kick her opponents — until she cuts a slit down the side with a dramatic flourish.

With an ace choreographer like D’Souza behind the camera, one expects mind-blowing dance numbers, yet Race 3‘s numbers are mostly forgettable (in part because of the need to accommodate Khan’s limited range of motion). The exception is “Selfish”, which stands out for the wrong reasons. Shah trained in aerial dance just for the number, yet the camera hardly captures her face, giving the impression that she used a body double, when I don’t think she did. There is also a group of backup dancers positioned so far behind the lead couple that they are often out of focus, which all but encourages the audience to ignore the lead couple in the foreground and instead strain to make out what’s happening behind them.

Action scenes throughout the film overuse slow-motion and are treated with a distracting effect that desaturates the image for a few seconds at a time. If randomly changing the image from color to black & white and back is the only way to hold an audience’s attention during a car chase, you’ve got big problems.

Links

Advertisements

Movie Review: Players (2012)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Buy the DVD at Amazon
Buy the soundtrack at Amazon

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.

Links

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: Thank You (2011)

1.5 Stars (out of 4)

Buy or rent the movie at iTunes
Buy the DVD at Amazon
Buy the soundtrack at Amazon

The more I think about Thank You, the more confused I become. The first two-thirds of the comedy are enjoyable enough, but a serious and preachy third act unravels the entire story that precedes it.

Thank You centers on the womanizing exploits of Raj (Bobby Deol), Vikram (Irrfan Khan) and Yogi (Suniel Shetty). Yogi’s already been caught cheating by his wife, Maya (Celina Jaitley). Suspicious of the other louts’ extramarital activities, Maya introduces Vikram’s wife, Shivani (Rimi Sen), and Raj’s wife, Sanjana (Sonam Kapoor), to her “best friend”: a private eye named Kishan (Akshay Kumar).

Kishan develops a crush on cute, trusting Sanjana and aims to expose her husband for the cheater he is. Raj and his buddies aren’t able to continue their deception for long, and all their secrets are revealed. Maya and Shivani are prepared to move on with their lives, but Sanjana isn’t. She wants Raj back.

Here’s where things get confusing, in retrospect. Kishan agrees to help Sanjana reunite with Raj. His plan is to make Raj jealous by pretending to be Sanjana’s new boyfriend. Presumably, Kishan’s real intention is to show Sanjana how much better he is than Raj and win her for himself.

Without giving anything away, the third act seems to indicate that a potential romance between Kishan and Sanjana was never really an option (or something that either of them even desired). The tension in the second act, at the time, appears to be whether Sanjana will pick Raj or Kishan. Without that tension, the whole second act is, in retrospect, just a big waste of time.

Perhaps sensing the shoddy construction of his parable, writer-director Anees Bazmee has Kishan explain the moral of the story with a condescending speech in the final scene. But the message as delivered by Kishan runs counter to the one that the movie had conveyed to that point. I liked the story that Bazmee actually told better than the one he apparently thought he was telling.

The real shame of Thank You‘s narrative collapse is that most of the movie is pretty funny. The set pieces are good, and the jokes translate well cross-culturally.

Particularly deserving of praise are Shetty and Sen for their performances as Yogi and Shivani, respectively. Yogi, having been previously outed as a cheater, revels in watching his two buddies get caught for the same crime. Shivani is the most put-upon wife and therefore the most eager to take revenge on her husband. Shetty and Sen take full advantage of their opportunities to ham it up.

The weakest member of the cast is Kapoor. Still a relatively new actress, everything about her performance — from her physical presence to her voice — lacks gravity. She’s pretty and stylish, but that’s not enough to make her a lead that an audience cares about.

Links

Movie Review: Yamla Pagla Deewana (2011)

2 Stars (out of 4)

Buy the DVD at Amazon
Buy the soundtrack at Amazon

The primary selling-point of Yamla Pagla Deewana (“Nutty Loony Crazy,” according to the lyrics of the title track) is that it stars Bollywood legend Dharmendra and his two sons, Sunny and Bobby Deol. But what if you didn’t know who the three leads were? Would the movie be as successful? I don’t think so.

Sunny Deol’s character, Paramveer, has lived in Canada with his mother since he was a child, after his thieving father ran off with his younger brother. After thirty years apart, Param’s mom begs him to bring her estranged husband and son back to her. He obliges and heads to Banares.

Param’s father, Dharam (Dharmendra) and brother, Gajodhar (Bobby Deol), don’t believe Param’s story. But Param gradually wins their trust, in part by acting as strongman during their heists. When Gajodhar’s girlfriend, Saheba (Kulraj Randhawa), is kidnapped by her goon brothers and taken home to Punjab, Dharam begs Param to help his younger brother.

Producer/director Samir Karnik frequently reminds the audience about the actors’ star status. When Param shows Dharam a photo of the conman in his youth — proof of his prior relationship with Param’s mother — Dharam explains that it must be a photo of Dharmendra.

Later, Saheba asks Gajodhar why he’s not fighting beside his father and brother. He says that its best to let Dharmendra and Sunny Deol handle the action, leaving the romance to Bobby Deol.

The self references are distractions that ruin the flow of the movie. If one is familiar with the actors’ previous work, it’s no surprise that Sunny does all the fighting and that Bobby gets the girl. If not, the references make no sense.

The distractions and the slow pace of the first half are a shame, as the second half of Yamla Pagla Deewana is quite good. Anupam Kher is hilarious as Saheba’s eldest brother. Jokes about the qualities ascribed to English speakers in a place where the language not common, as in rural Punjab, are both informative and funny.

Param has an interesting role as a non-resident Indian (NRI). His blonde, Canadian wife, Mary (Australian actress Emma Brown Garrett) thinks that everyone in India is crazy. Saheba’s sister-in-law, Poli (Sucheta Khanna), thinks that Canada is paradise. She reads about Canada on the Internet, in spite of her limited English skills (as betrayed by her “I Love Caneda” t-shirt). Param, as both Indian and Canadian, bridges that gap and exploits it to his advantage.

But the good points of Yamla Pagla Deewana don’t outweigh its clunkier aspects. A little less self-awareness would’ve gone a long way.

Links

Opening January 14: Yamla Pagla Deewana

One new Hindi movie opens in the Chicago area on January 14, 2011. Yamla Pagla Deewana stars Bollywood legend Dharmendra and his sons, actors Sunny and Bobby Deol, as a family of con artists who must rescue a pretty girl.

Yamla Pagla Deewana opens Friday at the AMC Loews Pipers Alley 4 in Chicago, Big Cinemas Golf Glen 5 in Niles, AMC South Barrington 30 in South Barrington and Regal Cantera Stadium 30 in Warrenville. The movie has a listed runtime of 2 hrs. 25 min.

All four of the theaters carrying Yamla Pagla Deewana are also holding over No One Killed Jessica, which earned $227,473 during its first weekend in U.S. theaters. Tees Maar Khan leaves area theaters, having earned $1,072,686 in the U.S. so far.

Other Indian movies showing around Chicagoland this weekend include Anaganga O Dheerudu (Telugu), Kaavalan (Tamil), Mirapakai (Telugu) and Prama Veera Chakra (Telugu) at the Golf Glen 5; Manmadhan Ambu (Tamil) at the Cantera 30; and Siruthai (Tamil) at Sathyam Cinemas in Downers Grove.

Movie Review: Ek – The Power of One (2009)

ekthepowerofone0.5 Stars (out of 4)

Buy the DVD at Amazon

I guess it’s not fair to expect much from a movie whose title means “One – The Power of One.” Yet I was still hugely disappointed by Ek – The Power of One.

Bobby Deol plays Nandu, an assassin whose black leather jacket, black sunglasses and dagger pendant make him look like the World’s Most Obvious Assassin. He’s hired to non-fatally shoot a politician who wants to garner sympathy votes. However, another assassin shoots first, killing the politician. When Nandu then sees his getaway driver’s car explode, he realizes he’s been set up. He uses his Super Movie Assassin Powers to evade the police, leaping off a building, onto a crane, and then onto a train.

On the train, Nandu meets the moronic Puran, who interprets Nandu’s silent indifference as an invitation to tell his life story. Puran is accidentally killed by a police officer aiming at Nandu, and, out of a sense of remorse unique to reformed movie assassins, Nandu seeks out Puran’s family to give them the bad news.

Of course, Puran’s equally moronic family assumes that Nandu is Puran, returned home after running away 18 years earlier. The family interprets Nandu’s silent indifference as confirmation that he is Puran, despite having to remind him of the identity of each family member, as if running away gave him amnesia.

Ek proceeds to abuse all kinds of bad movie cliches — the cop who doesn’t play by the rules, the bumbling gang of thugs, the guy who’s supposed to be dead but isn’t really dead. Since the movie is set in Punjab, there are the requisite scenes of a village fair, women dancing in the fields, and the main character driving a tractor.

There’s nothing to commend this film, except for the fact that it looks like someone spent good money to make it — though not on the script, obviously. Ek – The Power of One is stupid and predictable and a complete waste of time.

Opening March 27: Aa Dekhen Zara and Ek – The Power of One

Two new Hindi movies are scheduled to open in the Chicago area this Friday, March 27. Ek – The Power of One and Aa Dekhen Zara will be showing at the AMC South Barrington 30 in South Barrington.

Ek – The Power of One stars Bobby Deol as an assassin on the run from the law. He takes refuge with a family who mistakes him for its long lost son.

In Aa Dekhen Zara, a photographer (Neil Nitin Mukesh) inherits a magical camera from his grandfather. Bipasha Basu stars as the photog’s DJ girlfriend.