Tag Archives: Do Knot Disturb

Worst Bollywood Movies of 2011

In 2011, Bollywood produced a number of movies that advanced the role of women in film and pushed the boundaries of traditional storytelling style. This post is not about those movies. This post is about the worst films of the year. (Click on the title of each movie to read my original review.)

Video services like YouTube and Netflix have allowed smaller studios to bypass the theater distribution system and reach an international audience via the Internet. While the development is a welcome one, it doesn’t mean that every film available online merits viewing. Inept, low-budget stinkers like Cycle Kick, Love Express and Impatient Vivek aren’t worth it, even for free.

Neither is a showing on the big screen a guarantee of quality. Indie film I Am Singh made it into Chicago area theaters but left after just one week. Aarakshan, Thank You, Dum Maaro Dum and Mausam all had large budgets and star casts but failed to impress.

While a number of this year’s movies featured empowered female characters, Turning 30 did its best to undermine feminism. The movie — written and directed by a woman — features a lead character who spends most of the movie wallowing in self-pity after she’s dumped. Turning 30 ends with the appalling suggestion that self-respect and a happy marriage shouldn’t be as important to women as having babies.

This year’s worst Bollywood movie manages to combine all of the above offenses into one unwatchable mess. It’s sloppily made, despite having a budget large enough to pay an A-list cast. It’s sexist. As a bonus, it’s also full of racist stereotypes.

The Worst Bollywood Movie of 2011 is Rascals.

Director David Dhawan is a repeat offender, being the man responsible for my worst movie of 2009, Do Knot Disturb. Rascals — a farce about two crooks fighting for one woman’s affections — seems tailor-made for comic action set pieces. Dhawan even cast action stars Sanjay Dutt and Ajay Devgn as the leads, but gave them little to do besides talk.

The movie’s female lead, played by Kangana Ranaut, spends the bulk of her screentime strutting around in a bikini while whining in a shrill voice: not exactly the postergirl for women’s lib.

Dhawan set Rascals in Thailand, then cast scores of blonde women to serve as gyrating backup dancers and dark-skinned African actors to play armed criminals. Were there no local Thai actors to fill those roles? Why make those casting decisions except to appeal to racist stereotypes?

All those problems aside, Dhawan’s biggest sin in Rascals is laziness. There are numerous continuity errors and bloopers that would’ve been easy to rectify, but Dhawan didn’t bother. Perhaps he thinks his target audience members — misogynists who find two men slapping each other hilarious — don’t care about stuff like a plot that makes sense. Maybe he thinks they’ll pay their money to see heroes like Dutt and Devgn on screen no matter how stupid the story.

I’d like to believe that we moviegoers are smarter than that.

Previous Worst Movies Lists

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Movie Review: Rascals (2011)

Zero Stars (out of 4)

Buy the DVD at Amazon
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Director David Dhawan is responsible for my worst Bollywood movie of 2009: Do Knot Disturb. Dhawan looks on track to reclaim the title this year with Rascals, a movie that exemplifies filmmaking at its laziest.

Let me start with a small example of the laziness that permeates Rascals. Early in the film, a tough guy named Anthony (Arjun Rampal) walks into a bar to watch a soccer game, and he places a bet on Brazil. Cut to the TV for a shot of the game, and it’s a game between Germany and Argentina.

A mistake like that wouldn’t have been a big deal if the movie was otherwise competently made. But here’s what it tells me about Dhawan’s level of respect for the audience: he has none. He thinks that moviegoers will be happy to spend two hours watching Ajay Devgn and Sanjay Dutt slap each other while Kangana Ranaut struts around in a bikini.

The problems stem from the crap story at the heart of Rascals. The plot is essentially a dumbed-down version of Bluffmaster!, but without a moral compass. Devgan and Dutt play Bhagat and Chetan (respectively), a pair of thieves who each independently steal from Anthony on the same day. Both flee to Bangkok, where they become rivals for the affections of Khushi (Ranaut).

Bhagat and Chetan spend the bulk of the film trying to thwart each other’s advances on clueless Khushi. Anthony doesn’t reenter the story until the last twenty minutes or so.

Rascals feels much longer than its two-hour runtime. Scenes are introduced without any set-up, and frequently without narrative purpose. Despite having two action stars as its leads, there are few action scenes, but lots of boring conversations between characters. Ranaut’s shrill delivery makes these scenes almost unbearable.

It’s not entirely Ranaut’s fault that her character so irritating. Khushi isn’t written to have any sort of depth or personality: she’s a dumb sex object, as is the only other major female character in Rascals, an escort named Dolly (Lisa Haydon).

A reliance upon stereotypes is another example of creative laziness in Rascals. Women are stupid and only good for sex; white women are particularly slutty (as evidence by the suspiciously high number of scantily clad, blonde backup dancers in Thailand); men are sex-crazed.

Not wanting to let an opportunity for casual racism slip by, Dhawan includes a scene in which Bhagat and Chetan are caught up in a bank robbery. The robbers are all black Africans. In Thailand.

I won’t go so far as to say that Dhawan is racist or sexist (though I can’t figure out why he thought it was cool to have Anthony vent his anger toward Bhagat and Chetan by slapping his innocent sister in the face). I just think he’s careless. Careless about the messages his movies send, not to mention careless about details.

Details like having the characters in Rascals celebrate Christmas just days after they celebrated Valentine’s Day.

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Movie Review: Aladin (2009)

AladinPoster3 Stars (out of 4)

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There aren’t many kid-friendly Bollywood movies released in the United States, and those that have opened here, like Saawariya and Roadside Romeo, have disappointed. Aladin is a delightful update of the classic fairytale that will amuse the whole family.

In this live action version of the story — which differs significantly from the animated Disney film — Aladin (Ritesh Deshmukh) is a lonely college student. His parents died under mysterious circumstances when he was young, and he lives alone in the book-littered home of his deceased grandfather. Fellow students tease him because of his name, demanding that he produce a genie from a lamp like the fairytale dictates.

Aladin’s crush on Jasmine (Jacqueline Fernandez), an American exchange student, appears destined to go unrequited until she buys him a lamp from the “Ancient Thing Store” as a birthday gift. He’s goaded into rubbing the lamp which, naturally, contains a genie.

The genie, named Genius (Amitabh Bachchan) is close to retirement and is eager for Aladin to use his three wishes before his genie contract gets renewed for another million years. The duo sets about trying to woo Jasmine on Aladin’s behalf. But Genius doesn’t know that Aladin is in danger from an evil ex-genie named Ring Master (Sanjay Dutt), who’s eager to regain his powers and take over the world.

One of Aladin‘s best features is that it looks terrific. The fictional town of Khwaish is a perfect fantasy city: narrow cobblestoned streets that wind uphill through buildings made of sand-colored bricks. Dance numbers are colorful and the special effects are relatively seamless.

As for the characters and plot, writer-director-producer Sujoy Ghosh keeps the story true to tradition, while giving it his own spin. Deshmukh does a great job as Aladin, a likable guy with such simple desires that he’s incapable of misusing his new-found power.

Ring Master is also a fitting villain. His motives are clear, and he’s got a group of creepy circus-inspired henchmen to help him, including a lion tamer, a firebreather and, inexplicably, a Star Trek Klingon.

The writing in Aladin is solid, especially for a Bollywood comedy (see my review of Deshmukh’s other recent film, Do Knot Disturb). Several scenes are laugh-out-loud funny, and there are no extraneous plot threads or characters.

For parents of children who don’t understand Hindi, Aladin is a good introduction to movies with English subtitles, even if it is long at 2 hrs. 12 min. The story is familiar, so all that’s required is that the child be old enough to read English with some speed: third or fourth grade, perhaps. There’s no objectionable material, and no “gross” kissing (this is Bollywood, after all).

One note to parents who themselves aren’t familiar with Bollywood films: it’s worth telling kids that Amitabh Bachchan, who plays the genie, is one of the coolest guys in Indian cinema. He was an action star when he was younger and has always been a lady’s man. It’s the only way to explain why a man old enough to be a grandfather is rapping about “shorties.”

Opening October 16: Blue, All The Best, and Main Aurr Mrs. Khanna

The Diwali holiday weekend brings three big Hindi films to Chicago area theaters, with Sanjay Dutt playing major roles in two of them.

The first is Blue, an undersea adventure in which Dutt and Akshay Kumar search for treasure on a sunken ship, surrounded by sharks. Kylie Minogue adds a song to A. R. Rahman’s soundtrack: the absurdly-titled “Chiggy Wiggy.” Blue‘s runtime is listed as 1 hr. 55 min.

Next is the second Sanjay Dutt starrer, All The Best. It’s a comedy involving gangsters and a plot to trick Dutt’s wealthy character into believing his step-brother is married. I can’t make heads or tails of it based on the official story summary, nor can I figure out how Ajay Devgan’s auto mechanic character figures into the plot. I have very low expectations for All The Best, which has an official runtime of 2 hrs. 24 min.

Finally, the drama Main Aurr Mrs. Khanna, starring Kareena Kapoor as the title character. After a falling out with her husband (Salman Khan), she must choose between him and another man, played by Sohail Khan, Salman’s real-life younger brother. Main Aurr Mrs. Khanna has a runtime of 2 hrs. 15 min.

All three movies will open on Friday, October 16 at Big Cinemas Golf Glen 5 in Niles, AMC South Barrington 30 in South Barrington and AMC Cantera 30 in Warrenville. Blue will also open at AMC Pipers Alley 4 in Chicago and supposedly the Milan Theaters in Waukegan (call the theater first to verify).

Entering its third week in theaters is Wake Up Sid, which has earned $611,574 in U.S. theaters so far. It will continue to play at the Cantera 30 and South Barrington 30. Also continuing for a third week at the South Barrington 30 is Do Knot Disturb. Its total U.S. earnings amount to $213,525.

Other Indian films playing in the Chicago area this weekend include the Tamil film Aadhavan at the Golf Glen 5 and a trio of movies at Sathyam Cinemas in Downers Grove: Eeram (Tamil), Unnaipol Oruvan (Tamil) and Mahatma (Telugu).

Opening October 9: Acid Factory

One new Hindi movie is set to open in Chicago area theaters on Friday, October 9. Acid Factory, a remake of the 2006 Hollywood thriller Unknown, will play at the AMC South Barrington 30 in South Barrington and Big Cinemas Golf Glen 5 in Niles. Acid Factory‘s runtime is listed as a mercifully short 1 hr. 45 min.

Entering their second weeks in theaters are Wake Up Sid, which earned $355,532 in U.S. theaters last weekend, and Do Knot Disturb ($124,573). Both films are showing at the South Barrington 30, Golf Glen 5 and AMC Cantera 30 in Warrenville.

Among slightly older Bollywood releases, the South Barrington 30 is carrying over Wanted and What’s Your Raashee? ($236,926 total U.S. earnings) for another week, while the Golf Glen 5 will hold over What’s Your Raashee? and Dil Bole Hadippa!.

Other Indian movies showing in the Chicago area this weekend include the Telugu films Ganesh at the Golf Glen 5 and Mahatma at Sathyam Cinemas in Downers Grove.

Movie Review: Do Knot Disturb (2009)

doknotdisturbZero Stars (out of 4)

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With the world in the middle of an economic crisis, there is one easy way consumers can save money: don’t waste it on Do Knot Disturb.

The movie stars Govinda as Raj, a businessman trying to hide an affair from his suspicious wife, Kiran, played by Sushmita Sen. Kiran owns the company Raj works for, so if he were to get caught with his mistress, Dolly (Lara Dutta), he’d lose his high-paying job as well as his marriage.

Raj hires a waiter to pose as Dolly’s boyfriend in order to trick a private investigator hired by Kiran. In return, the waiter, Govardan (Ritesh Deshmukh), gets an upgraded private hospital room for his ailing mother, as well as a chance to play house with the lovely Dolly.

Dolly also has a jealous ex-husband, played by Sohail Khan, who shows up to slap people. Slapping is the foundation to many of Do Knot Disturb‘s attempts at humor.

The movie’s other attempts at comedy center around men making lewd gestures at women. When the male characters aren’t slapping each other, they’re trying to grope or hump the nearest female character. It’s best to leave the kids at home for this movie, unless you’re looking for a way to broach the topic of where babies come from.

Based on the way jokes and dialog are constructed, I assume that the makers of Do Knot Disturb think that the only people who would see their movie are idiots. That would explain the following exchange between Raj and Kiran:

Kiran: Who is he?
Raj: Who is he?
Kiran: Who is he?
Raj: Who is he?
Kiran: Who is he?
Raj: Who is he?

Many other jokes rely on the comedic theory that things are funnier in threes. Repetition of the same bad jokes doesn’t automatically make them funnier. In this case, it just serves to make the movie feel a lot longer than 2 hrs. 6 min.

Early into the film, I had hopes that the movie would be, if not funny, at least not annoying. It didn’t take long for me to lose any optimism I had. After one scene in which Raj and Govardan spend ten minutes shrieking at each other in high-pitched voices for no reason whatsoever, I actually left the theater.

I convinced myself to go back in and watch the end of the movie, hoping that there would at least be some explanation for why the title contains a deliberate misspelling. There wasn’t. The filmmakers just thought it would be clever to replace “not” with “knot.” But guess what.

It’s not.

Opening October 2: Wake Up Sid and Do Knot Disturb

The Diwali holiday movie season is in full swing, meaning two more Hindi films will open in Chicago area theaters this weekend.

Wake Up Sid features Ranbir Kapoor as Sid, a directionless guy who meets an attractive, motivated writer played by Konkona Sen Sharma, forcing Sid to rethink his slacker lifestyle.

In Do Knot Disturb, Govinda plays a businessman trying to cover up his affair with a model (Lara Dutta). When he hires his friend (Ritesh Deshmukh) to pose as his girlfriend’s boyfriend, identities get mixed up and comic wackiness ensues.

Both movies will open on Friday, October 2 at Big Cinemas Golf Glen 5 in Niles, AMC South Barrington 30 in South Barrington and AMC Cantera 30 in Warrenville. Wake Up Sid has a runtime of 2 hrs. 18 min., and Do Knot Disturb has a runtime of 2 hrs. 6 min.

But those aren’t the only Hindi films showing in the Chicago area this weekend. The Golf Glen 5, Cantera 30 and South Barrington 30 are all carrying over Dil Bole Hadippa! and What’s Your Raashee?, which opened last Friday to disappointing first week earnings of only $169,005 in the United States.

The South Barrington 30 is also carrying over Wanted for a third week. Salman Khan’s latest has earned $332,816 in U.S. theaters so far.

Other Indian movies playing around Chicago include the Telugu film Ganesh and the Malayalam film Loud Speaker, both at the Golf Glen 5.