Tag Archives: Fardeen Khan

Movie Review: Dulha Mil Gaya (2010)

1.5 Stars (out of 4)

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When a character chooses to do something he or she wouldn’t normally do, that’s character development. When an outside force makes a character do something he or she wouldn’t normally do, that’s plot-driven development. By confusing the two, Dulha Mil Gaya keeps its two selfish protagonists from becoming the heroes they’re supposed to become.

Dulha Mil Gaya (“I Found a Groom”) is primarily about Shimmer and Donsai, a model and a playboy enjoying the single life in Trinidad. Shimmer (Sushmita Sen) has a wealthy but absent boyfriend she has no intention of marrying. Donsai (Fardeen Khan) is a serial heartbreaker who lives off of his recently-deceased father’s fortune.

Donsai’s lawyer finds a clause in Dad’s will stating that Donsai needs to marry a particular Punjabi girl he’s never met within 15 days or he’ll lose his money.

When Donsai and the lawyer meet the girl in Punjab, she’s shy, conservatively dressed and wearing glasses; there is undoubtedly a makeover scene in her future. The girl, Samarpreet (Ishita Sharma), consents to wed, and she and Donsai get a quickie courtroom marriage. He leaves on a “business trip,” promising to come back for her. He never does.

After three months with no contact, apart from a monthly check in the mail, Samarpreet flies to Trinidad, where she sees Donsai carousing with another woman. Distraught, she runs into Shimmer, who agrees to help, out of a small degree of compassion and a larger desire to cheat Donsai out of his yacht.

The movie proceeds as expected. Samarpreet gets madeover and reborn as Samara, and Donsai pursues her. While Samarpreet is just happy to finally have his attention, I wanted to tear my hair out. Donsai may not know he’s pursuing his wife, but the audience does. So why are we supposed to root for him to get with Samara?

When (spoiler alert) Donsai finally remembers that he ditched a wife in Punjab, it’s only because his butler finds out about it and makes him feel guilty. Donsai doesn’t independently realize that he’s a louse. Even after the predictable “happy ending”, I couldn’t help but feel that Samarpreet got cheated out of a relationship with someone who really loved her.

Shimmer’s love story is just as unsatisfying. Her boyfriend, PRG (played in an extended cameo by Shahrukh Khan), shows up for the last 50 minutes of the movie, announcing his arrival with something like, “Everyone’s been talking about me, and now I’m finally here.” We understand that casting SRK was a stunt; you don’t have to point it out to us.

PRG is a version of his “Shahrukh Khan” character: charming, brave and irresistible. Shimmer puts off committing to him until Samarpreet gives her the stock “It’s time to give up your career and start having babies” speech. As with Donsai, Shimmer wouldn’t have chosen to marry PRG unless someone else told her to.

In addition to the problem of mistaking plot development for character development, Dulha Mil Gaya stereotypes gay men with the character Lotus, Shimmer’s butler. He wears a peach-colored suit and flounces about, exaggeratedly calling everyone “darling.” It’s not until halfway through the movie that he gets to deliver dialog without affectation.

It’s a shame that the only Hindi movie I’ve seen that portrays gays as real people is Dostana, where two straight guys pretend to be gay. They do so by being themselves, but professing to prefer romantic relationships with men rather than women. You know, like real gay people.

Note: Dulha Mil Gaya‘s listed runtime of 1 hr. 48 min. is wrong. It’s more like 2 hrs. 35 min.

Movie Review: All The Best (2009)

allthebest1 Star (out of 4)

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For the first two hours, All The Best is a tolerable if uninspired slapstick comedy. But, due to the movie’s racist final scene, it’s not worth watching.

The movie focuses on aspiring rock star Vir (Fardeen Khan), who lives off of the largess of his globe-trotting step-brother, Dharam (Sanjay Dutt). In order to get a larger monthly allowance from Dharam, Vir tells his brother that his girlfriend, Vidya (Mugdha Godse), is actually his wife.

Since the two brothers rarely see each other, the lie goes unchallenged until Dharam lands in town for a layover on his way to the small African country of Lesotho. The layover turns into an extended stay when the country experiences a military coup.

Vir turns to his best friend, Prem (Ajay Devgan), for help. Since this is a comedy, all of Prem’s ideas to deceive Dharam make things worse, especially when Dharam mistakes Prem’s wife, Jhanvi (Bipasha Basu), for Vir’s pretend wife, Vidya.

The bulk of the humor centers on mistaken identities and the friends’ attempts to keep the truth from hot-tempered Dharam. Basu and Ashwini Kalsekar, who plays Vir’s maid, Mary, are the most successful at generating laughs.

But All The Best falls back on the same cliche seen in many recent Bollywood comedies: gangsters. If one were to form an impression of modern India based solely on Hindi cinema, India would seem as overrun with gangsters as Chicago was in the 1920s, only with the gangsters more inept and less threatening than their American predecessors.

The most pathetically unfunny of the bunch is Topu (Johny Lever), the mute gang leader. He communicates with his lackeys by banging a spoon against a glass, as though he were trying to get a newly-married couple to kiss at their wedding reception. It’s the stupidest gimmick since the mute villain in Karzzzz, who communicated via a musical keypad on his wrist.

Such lame gimmicks might be forgivable, if not for the movie’s final scene, involving several characters from Lesotho. They speak in something that’s supposed to sound like Swahili, even though Swahili isn’t an official language of Lesotho. I can’t prove it, but I’m guessing the filmmakers didn’t spring to hire an actual Swahili translator, and that the words are just gibberish that’s supposed to sound “African.” [Update: A kind Access Bollywood reader, Samuel, let me know that the language is in fact Swahili.]

If that weren’t insulting enough, three of the characters are Indian actors — including Bipasha Basu — in blackface make up. Coming just a few weeks after American musician Harry Connick Jr. took an Australian comedy troupe to task for the same offense, All The Best‘s racist attempt at humor comes off as particularly crude.

For Indian cinema to be taken seriously in the rest of the world, it needs to drop these outdated, racist jokes. Bollywood’s top stars need to lead the way. Bipasha Basu should have refused to perform the scene in blackface, just as Akshay Kumar should’ve said no to his blackface scene in Kambakkht Ishq.