Tag Archives: Dabanng

Movie Review: Bodyguard (2011)

2 Stars (out of 4)

Buy the DVD at Amazon
Buy the soundtrack at Amazon

If a film’s quality was measured by the delighted shrieks of women in the audience, Bodyguard would be the greatest movie of all time. The women at my screening went bonkers every time Salman Khan flexed a bicep or busted a dance move. When a firehose blasted Khan’s shirt off his body, I feared a riot.

Sadly, there’s little else going for Bodyguard besides Khan’s buff physique.

It’s not fair to compare all of Khan’s movies to last year’s hit, Dabangg, but that movie showed just how good Khan can be when he’s allowed to play a character who’s in on the joke: no one is as honest, charismatic or freakishly strong as the characters Khan normally plays.

Bodyguard feels like a step back. It’s as though the filmmaker, Siddique, didn’t trust the audience enough to buy Khan as more than the super-heroic caricature he’s played countless times before. Either that, or Siddique didn’t know any other way to write for the superstar.

Khan plays Lovely Singh, Mumbai’s best bodyguard. He’s so devoted to his work that he doesn’t have a personal life. Right off the bat, he saves a bunch of girls from human traffickers, causing a large amount of carnage in the process. An over-reliance on CGI effects makes the fight less impressive than it could have been.

The traffickers Lovely stops have it in for benevolent rich guy Sartaj (Raj Babbar) and put a hit on his daughter, Divya (Kareena Kapoor). Lovely agrees to serve as Divya’s bodyguard until she finishes college and moves to London. Sartaj’s only condition is that Lovely not tell Divya she’s in danger.

Lovely’s stern manner embarrasses Divya and her best friend, Maya (Hazel Keech), and the girls try to get him to loosen up. Divya invents an alter-ego, “Chhaya”, and sets about wooing Lovely over the phone. He falls for his pretend paramour and begins to let his guard down, potentially endangering Divya in the process.

For the first hour and forty-five minutes, Bodyguard is an amusing — if uninspired — action movie with a romantic subplot. But, after the bad guys have been vanquished, the attempt in the final half hour to wrap up the romance storyline comes out of left field.

While I’m all for breaking with tradition, it has to be done with an understanding of why the tradition exists in the first place. For example, when two characters fall in love, it has to be for reasons other than the fact that the movie would end on a down note if they didn’t. The ending to Bodyguard tries to buck tradition and just winds up absurd and tacked-on.

Though the music and dance numbers are pretty good (especially “Teri Meri”, the video of which I’ve embedded below), the rest of Bodyguard feels stale. Jokes at the expense of dwarves, gays and the morbidly obese are crude and tired. As usual, Khan beats up the bad guys and Kapoor looks beautiful and stylish; there’s nothing to stretch them as actors. A shame, since there’s a lot of talent between them.

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Opening October 8: It’s a Wonderful Afterlife

One new Bollywood movie opens in the Chicago area the weekend beginning October 8, 2010, though it’s technically not a true Bollywood movie. It’s a Wonderful Afterlife is a British film by Gurinder Chadha, the director of Bend It Like Beckham. The comedy about a mother in a London suburb who’s dead-set on finding a groom for her daughter features some Hindi and Punjabi dialog. It also stars Indian-American actor Sendhil Ramamurthy, best known for playing Mohinder on the TV series Heroes.

It’s a Wonderful Afterlife opens on Friday at the Big Cinemas Golf Glen 5 in Niles, AMC South Barrington 30 in South Barrington and Regal Cantera Stadium 30 in Warrenville. It has a runtime of 1 hr. 40 min.

Hindi romantic comedy Anjaana Anjaani carries over for a second week in theaters after earning $517,608 in the U.S. during its opening weekend. It continues its run at the AMC Loews Pipers Alley 4 in Chicago, Golf Glen 5, South Barrington 30 and Cantera 30.

Also getting a second week in theaters is sci-fi epic Enthiran, in all its various iterations. The Golf Glen 5 has all three versions: Enthiran (Tamil), Robot (Hindi) and Robo (Telugu). The South Barrington 30 carries over Robot, while Sathyam Cinemas in Downers Grove carries over Enthiran.

Action comedy Dabanng continues for a fifth week at the Cantera 30.

The only other Indian movie showing in the area this weekend is the Telugu film Khaleja, showing at the Golf Glen 5 and at Sathyam Cinemas.

Tonight — Wednesday, October 6 — presents an opportunity to see some of Bollywood’s stars in a more serious light. The docudrama 1 a Minute addresses the shocking fact that, around the world, a woman dies of breast cancer every 69 seconds. In the movie, stars from Hollywood and Bollywood recount their own experiences with cancer. The cast list includes Bollywood legend Mumtaz, Kites star Barbara Mori, Indian politician Priya Dutt, as well as the film’s writer and producer, Indian-American actress Namrata Singh Gujral.

1 a Minute debuts in theaters across the U. S. tonight, followed by a live discussion by cast members. Check the film’s official website for theater locations near you.

Opening October 1: Anjaana Anjaani and Enthiran (The Robot)

This is a big weekend for South Asian cinema in the Chicago area. The new Hindi romantic comedy Anjaana Anjaani, starring Priyanka Chopra and Ranbir Kapoor, opens on Friday, October 1, 2010 at four area theaters: 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. It has a listed runtime of 2 hrs. 35. min.

But the bigger deal is the opening of Enthiran, the most expensive Indian movie ever made. Its budget of just over $35 million doesn’t seem large by Hollywood standards, but it’s a huge amount for an Indian movie. The movie, which features a soundtrack by Oscar-winner A. R. Rahman, stars Rajnikanth as a cyborg, with Aishwarya Rai as his heroine. A Slate article described the Superstar: “If a tiger had sex with a tornado and then their tiger-nado baby got married to an earthquake, their offspring would be Rajinikanth.”

To reach the widest audience possible, the Tamil-language movie is being dubbed in Hindi (this version is titled “Robot”) and Telugu (“Robo”). The Big Cinemas Golf Glen 5 will show the Tamil and Telugu versions of Enthiran beginning on Thursday, September 30, with the Hindi version opening on Friday. Sathyam Cinemas in Downers Grove also begins its run of the original Tamil version on Thursday night. The South Barrington 30 will carry the Hindi version, “Robot,” beginning Friday. The movie has a listed runtime of 2 hrs. 35 min.

Dabanng carries over for a fourth week at the South Barrington 30 and Cantera Stadium 30.

This weekend also marks the inaugural Chicago South Asian Film Festival, which starts on Friday. The festival lineup includes the terrific Bengali/English movie The Japanese Wife, with screenings being held at the Chicago Cultural Center and at Columbia College. I’m planning on attending the screening of Raspberry Magic on Saturday.

If you’re in the mood for a stage show, the Auditorium Theatre presents The Merchants of Bollywood on Friday and Saturday night. The Australian musical features songs like “Shava Shava” from Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham and “It’s The Time To Disco” from Kal Ho Naa Ho.

In Theaters September 24, 2010

With the release of Anjaana Anjaani moving to October 1, there are no new Hindi movies opening in the Chicago area the weekend beginning Friday, September 24, 2010. But Salman Khan’s latest, Dabanng, carries over for a third week at the Big Cinemas Golf Glen 5 in Niles, AMC South Barrington 30 in South Barrington and Regal Cantera Stadium 30 in Warrenville. So far, Dabanng has earned $1,068,589 in U.S. theaters.

We Are Family carries over for a fourth week at the Golf Glen 5 and South Barrington 30.

Other Indian movies showing in the Chicago area this weekend include Angshumaner Chobi (Bengali), Boss Engira Bhaskaran (Tamil), Elsamma Enna Aankutty (Malayalam) and Komaram Puli (Telugu) at the Golf Glen 5.

In Theaters September 17, 2010

There are no new Hindi movies opening in the Chicago area on Friday, September 17, but the two recent releases still in theaters are worth checking out. Fun action flick Dabanng got off to an impressive start, earning $628,137 in its opening weekend in U.S. theaters. It gets a second weekend at the Big Cinemas Golf Glen 5 in Niles, AMC South Barrington 30 in South Barrington and Regal Cantera Stadium 30 in Warrenville. All three of these theaters are carrying over the drama We Are Family as well, now in its third week.

Other Indian movies playing in the Chicago area this weekend include Boss Engira Bhaskaran (Tamil), Komaram Puli (Telugu) and Malarvadi Arts Club (Malayalam) at the Golf Glen 5. The theater is also featuring a limited run of Kings of Devon, an independent Bengali film set in Chicago.

Movie Review: Dabangg (2010)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Buy the DVD at Amazon
Buy the soundtrack at Amazon

Every movie that stars Salman Khan is essentially the same. He plays a tough guy who doesn’t play by the rules who meets a girl who teaches him the meaning of love. There are action-packed fights, some awkward scenes of courtship and a few equally awkward dance numbers.

Typically, Khan’s movies are completely serious. The only attempts at humor are when Khan’s character berates and humiliates his underlings, and the jokes almost always fall flat.

Dabangg (“Fearless”) is the rare Khan vehicle that acknowledges the absurdity of his macho, alpha-male persona. Perhaps it’s just a chance for Khan’s younger brother, Arbaaz — the movie’s producer and co-star — to take the mickey out of his big brother. Whatever the reason, it’s easily the most enjoyable Salman Khan movie I’ve ever seen.

This time, Khan plays Chulbul Pandey, a cop who shakes down criminals for money. He nicknames himself “Robin Hood,” even though he keeps all of the money he steals for himself.

Dabangg opens with a fight in a warehouse. Chulbul takes on a gang of about a dozen criminals by himself, using only a firehose as a weapon. There are a few instances of Matrix-inspired special effects, but they are outshone by the intricate fight choreography, as Chulbul is surrounded by attackers.

The rest of the police force arrives while Chulbul exits the warehouse with a bag of pilfered cash. Asked what they should tell the higher-ups about the fight, Chulbul shoots a deputy in the arm, so that the officer can claim he was wounded in action and earn a promotion. Everyone is happy, and Chulbul walks away with the money.

The scene is immediately followed by a dance number to a tune about what a badass Chulbul is: “Hud Hud Dabangg.” The abrupt transition is hilarious, and the Khan brothers know it. As a fan of ’80s & ’90s action flicks starring Stallone, Seagal, Van Damme, Schwarzenegger and the like, I assert that many of those movies would’ve benefited from their own dance numbers.

Dabangg‘s plot is formulaic, with the requisite love story and predictable double-crosses. Chulbul falls in love with a woman, Rajjo (Sonakshi Sinha), who encourages him to reconcile with his estranged stepbrother, Makhi (Arbaaz Khan), and his step-father. Little does Chulbul know that Makhi is secretly working for Cheddi Singh (Sonu Sood), the corrupt politician from whom Chulbul stole in the opening sequence.

Dabangg is well-paced and doesn’t linger over Chulbul’s emotional development. He grows as a character, but the majority of his time is spent fighting, engaging in political intrigue, and dancing.

The dancing alone makes Dabangg a worthwhile movie for American fans of action flicks who like a little levity mixed in with their butt-kicking. Plus, the subtitles add an air of sophistication. Tell your friends you’re seeing a foreign film, even if you’re really just going for the shootouts.

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Opening September 10: Dabanng

Salman Khan’s latest action flick, Dabanng, is the only new Hindi movie opening in the Chicago area the weekend beginning Friday, September 10, 2010. It has a listed runtime of 2 hrs. 35 min., and it will open at the Big Cinemas Golf Glen 5 in Niles, AMC South Barrington 30 in South Barrington and Regal Cantera Stadium 30 in Warrenville.

We Are Family, which earned $366,354 in U.S. theaters over the long holiday weekend, continues for a second week at all three of the theaters listed above. The South Barrington 30 is also carrying over Peepli Live, which has earned $754,837 during its 4-week run.

Other Indian movies playing in the region this weekend include Boss Engira Bhaskara (Tamil), Gayam 2 (Telugu) and Komaram Puli (Telugu) at the Golf Glen 5.