Tag Archives: Chaiyya Chaiyya

Movie Review: Kamaal Dhamaal Malamaal (2012)

0.5 Stars (out of 4)

Buy the DVD at Amazon
Buy the soundtrack at Amazon

Even after watching Kamaal Dhamaal Malamaal, I’m not sure what it’s about. Sure, I can tell you who the characters are and what happens to them, but what is the movie about? Kamaal Dhamaal Malamaal lacks a coherent narrative and, as such, is a boring, pointless waste of time.

Without a compelling story to drive the plot along, the burden of carrying the film falls on the shoulders of its lead character, Johnny (Shreyas Talpade). Few lead characters are so woefully unsuited for the task of carrying a film as Johnny is.

Johnny is a good-for-nothing 25-year-old. He has no job, hoping instead to get rich from playing the lottery (his girlfriend buys him his tickets). He refuses to help his ailing father with chores, instead berating his sisters into doing the work for him.

The girlfriend, Maria (Madhurima), must have incredibly low self-esteem to have settled for an irredeemable loser like Johnny. Maria’s father, Peter (Paresh Rawal), hates Johnny’s dad, David (Om Puri), for stealing his girlfriend when they were young and won’t allow Johnny to marry Maria. Her three beefy brothers regularly beat up Johnny to keep him away from Maria.

One day, a buff stranger (Nana Patekar) with a big appetite arrives in town. Johnny convinces his family that the stranger is his long-lost brother Sam. They feed the stranger, who acts as Johnny’s bodyguard, when he’s in the mood. Eventually, Johnny hears a rumor that “Sam” is a murderer and a rapist, and sets about trying to make Sam leave town.

That’s the story. As I said before, I know what happened in the movie, but I don’t know why. Why am I supposed to care about a doofus like Johnny? Where’s the conflict? Sam’s presence doesn’t help Johnny get any closer to marrying Maria, nor does Johnny learn any lessons about the value of hard work from his fake brother.

There’s really nothing to recommend this movie. It’s little more than long passages of overly explanatory dialog punctuated by fistfights. All of the characters are dullards, with actor-writer Neeraj Vora reserving the only mildly amusing character — an opportunistic coffin maker — for himself.

Leave it to Priyadarshan — the director responsible for the worst film I’ve ever seen, Khatta Meetha — not to let the opportunity for some casual sexual violence against women pass him by. Why does Sam have to be an alleged murderer and a rapist? Isn’t being a murderer bad enough?

The only worthwhile element of Kamaal Dhamaal Malamaal is the song “Dariya Ho” (which itself is derivative of “Chaiyya Chaiyya” from Dil Se). I’ve embedded the video of the song below to save you from wasting your money on an otherwise worthless film.

Links

Advertisements

Retro Review: Dil Se (1998)

4 Stars (out of 4)

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

Over the years, several people have recommended Dil Se to me. Based on the DVD cover, I expected a good but fairly typical romantic drama. Boy, was I wrong. Dil Se takes the genre in unexpected directions, enhancing a well-told story with surreal dance numbers.

The couple on the DVD cover meet on a train platform on a cold night during a downpour. Amar (Shahrukh Khan) assumes that a figure huddled under a blanket is a man and asks him for a match to light his cigarette. A gust of wind blows the blanket away to reveal a lovely woman named Meghna (Manisha Koirala).

Amar flirts clumsily with the taciturn beauty, until she finally asks him to buy her a hot cup of tea. While he’s helping the sleepy tea vendor prepare the chai, a train pulls into the station. Amar arrives on the platform, cups of tea in hand, to see Meghna seated on the train with some rough-looking guys. She gives him one last look as the train pulls away.

They meet again a short time later in Northeast India, where Amar is covering the fiftieth anniversary of Indian independence from Britain, for the national radio station. What should be a happy time is marred by ongoing clashes between the army and groups of separatists. Amar interviews the revolutionaries to better understand their goals.

When, in the course of his work, Amar comes across Meghna, she pretends not to recognize him at first, which only intensifies his pursuit. Amar’s pursuit is aggressive, almost as though he feels entitled to her. Still, she doesn’t reject him as forcefully as she has grounds to. She eventually tells him that she’s married. Amar’s attempt to apologize results in him being beaten up and left in a ditch by the men who were on the train with Meghna the first night they met.

Amar is understandably confused, as is the audience. Who is this girl? Is she interested in Amar, or not? Is she telling the truth? It’s no wonder why he finds her so alluring, despite the danger to his personal safety.

There’s an aura of danger surrounding Amar as he files his reports. He’s in essentially foreign territory; he doesn’t speak the language or understand the people. His bravado masks the fact that he’s out of his element, whether talking with terrorists or walking through the desert after his bus breaks down. The only thing he understands is how he feels for Meghna.

Enhancing that feeling of disorientation are the movie’s musical numbers, arguably the best part of the movie. It’s easy to incorporate a song-and-dance number by having the characters join in a parade that just happens to be passing by. It takes guts to make the romantic leads run from soldiers as the city explodes around them during a love song.

The numbers are symbolic rather than literal. This is the ideal way to include musical performances in a movie, as it provides a visual representation of a character’s mindset. It elevates the performances beyond mere devices for selling soundtrack CDs, especially since A. R. Rahman’s amazing songwriting sells itself.

I’m not qualified to say if the choreography in Dil Se is the best ever, but I’m confident that it is some of the most challenging and well-executed. Choreographer Farah Khan demands that actors throw themselves into her dances whole-heartedly. There is no way to half-ass her moves.

The most impressive dance number in the movie, “Chaiyya Chaiyya,” takes place on top of a moving train, traveling through tunnels and over bridges. It’s nearly seven minutes long. The dance is so technically stunning and the setting so precarious, thinking about the practicalities of its filming temporarily brought me out of the movie. Still, it’s so cool that it’s impossible not to enjoy it.

Links