Tag Archives: Himesh Reshammiya

Movie Review: The Xpose (2014)

TheXposePoster1 Star (out of 4)

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When film composer Himesh Reshammiya wrote the screenplay for The Xpose (also written as The Xposé, but pronounced without the accent), did he realize the character he created for himself to play was such a jerk?

If not, it points to a serious difference in the way Reshammiya interprets characters versus the way the audience does. This is important, given the moral assumptions present in The Xpose. If Reshammiya didn’t realize he was writing a loathsome protagonist, he probably also didn’t realize how condescending and paternalistic The Xpose is.

The framework for Reshammiya’s lecture on morality is a Bollywood murder mystery set in 1968 (“Inspired by real incidents,” according to onscreen text at the start of the film). The movie opens with an actress named Zara (Sonali Raut) falling to her death at an award show after-party. Her final swan dive is replayed a number of times throughout the narrative, complete with “splat” sound effects.

For twenty minutes, Irrfan Khan — whose character is totally unnecessary — introduces the audience to the main suspects in Zara’s death: sleazy film composer KD (rapper Yo Yo Honey Singh); his wife, Shabnam; rival actress Chandni (Zoya Afroz); Chandni’s boyfriend, actor Virman; Chandni’s director, Bobby Chadda; Zara’s director, Subba Prasad (Anant Mahadevan, who also directed The Xpose); and ex-cop-turned-superstar-actor, Ravi (Reshammiya).

Ravi is smug and annoying. His diva behavior on a movie set includes refusing makeup — “God took care of that” — and making up his own lines: “Whatever I say becomes the script.” Instead of shaking hands with his co-star, Virman, Ravi pats him on the cheek like a child.

Ravi’s condescension extends into his romantic life as well. He falls in love with Chandni while rescuing her from a fire (the point of the rescue attempt actually being to prove his manly superiority to Virman). Ravi shows his interest by chastising Chandni for smoking cigarettes and kissing her on the forehead. If he wants to be her boyfriend, why does he act like he’s her dad?

He’s downright nasty to Zara, calling her a whore and sneering at her clothes. After she dies, Ravi tells Chandni that Zara had it coming.

Normally, it’s unfair to equate an actor’s offscreen self with the part he or she is playing. But Himesh Reshammiya wrote the part of Ravi for himself, and his father, Vipin, produced The Xpose. Since Ravi is supposed to be cool — and not the douchebag he actually is — one can’t help but wonder if the character is a window into Reshammiya’s own ego and views on gender.

Reshammiya’s blindness regarding his protagonist results in an unintentionally hilarious climax in which Ravi takes control of a courtroom, against every rule of law. The judge pardons one suspect and convicts another on the spot, almost entirely on Ravi’s word. It’s so stupid that it’s laugh-out-loud funny.

Put aside the fact that the courtroom sequence isn’t remotely realistic. No one wants to turn over complete moral and legal authority to a man who — in response to Bobby Chadda’s statement that he doesn’t fear bloodshed — issues this threat: “The blood in your body won’t match what I pee once in a day.”

The quality of the acting in The Xpose is on par with the quality of the writing. Reshammiya is bland. The two female leads are dull, only showing sparks when asked to catfight in strapless dresses that threaten to fall off at any moment (they don’t).

Yo Yo Honey Singh is such a terrible actor that it almost seems deliberate. Maybe he’s doing some kind of anti-acting performance art, providing commentary on the ridiculousness of the script. More likely, he’s just a lousy actor.

Despite having two professional musicians in the crew, the music in The Xpose is horrible. Another instance of unintentional comedy is a romantic number between a man and a woman — and yet the visuals consist almost exclusively of shots of Reshammiya by himself. That scene says it all.

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Movie Review: Khiladi 786 (2012)

Khiladi_786_poster2 Stars (out of 4)

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There’s a lot to like in Khiladi 786. The well-organized plot allows for plenty of humorous turns, and Akshay Kumar gives a charming performance. Yet needless racism keeps me from recommending Khiladi 786.

During a throwaway number about forty minutes into the film, Kumar’s character dances, surrounded by a troupe of male Indian dancers wearing blackface makeup and Afro wigs, while female Anglo dancers writhe around wearing bikinis.

Kumar apparently doesn’t find blackface offensive, since he donned it himself in Kambakkht Ishq. If he did, he surely could’ve had the number changed since his wife, Twinkle Khanna, is one of the film’s producers. Since Kumar and Khanna already consider blackface acceptable, arguing with them over the obvious sexual objectification of Anglo women seems pointless.

The offensive dance number negatively affected my perception of an otherwise enjoyable movie. Kumar plays Bahattar Singh, a crook with superhuman speed and strength. Bahattar, his father, and his uncle work with the local police to stop smugglers on Punjabi highways. The work is dangerous and illegal, and the family splits the proceeds from their warrantless searches with the police.

Because seemingly everyone in the state of Punjab knows that Bahattar is thief, he can’t find a single local woman willing to marry him. This follows the family tradition of marrying foreigners. Bahattar’s mother is Canadian, his grandmother is African, and his aunt is Chinese.

(I also had a problem with the musical cues that accompany the introduction of each of the foreign women. The Chinese aunt appears to an East-Asian string-instrument theme, the African grandmother gets drums and chanting, and the white Canadian mother gets jazz saxophone. We get it. They aren’t ethnic Indians. That’s obvious from looking at them, though I’m not quite sure how jazz represents Canada. I would’ve gone with prog rock.)

Bahattar’s nuptial troubles present the perfect opportunity for marriage arranger Mansukh (Himesh Reshammiya), who’s recently been fired from the family wedding firm. He tries to fix up Bahattar with Indu (Asin Thottumkal), the reckless younger sister of a famous Mumbai don, TT (Mithun Chakraborty).

Indu knows that a woman from a family of criminals will only be accepted as a bride by another criminal, like her boyfriend, Azad (Rahul Singh). TT insists on marrying his sister into a good family, and the Singhs want the same for Bahattar, so Mansukh convinces the men of both families to masquerade as police officers.

Despite the fact that Khiladi 786 is an Akshay Kumar vehicle, the most important character is Mansukh. He’s desperate for Bahattar and Indu to get married in order to prove to his own father that he’s not a screw-up. To make that happen, he has to juggle the lies he’s told and encouraged others to tell. Mansukh’s uncle, Jeevan (Sanjai Mishra), hinders the process as much as he helps and provides comic relief.

Reshammiya plays Mansukh as animated, but not over the top. He needs to be the regular guy among a crowd of nutty criminals. Also, Reshammiya knows who the real star of the movie is.

Kumar plays much the same character as he always does: a sweet guy who’s tough when he needs to be. Bahattar notes: “Punjabis don’t come or go quietly,” which gives Kumar the freedom to act with extra exuberance. Bahattar’s superhuman speed is played to good comic effect, as he flattens bad guys in the blink of an eye.

The rest of the supporting cast is generally fine. Asin doesn’t have much to do, but Mithun Chakraborty gets to bash some heads in the final fight scene. There are a couple of side plots that come to nothing, involving characters like TT’s maid and an inspector played by Johnny Lever.

Of all the supporting characters, Azad is the funniest. Even though his name means “freedom,” he spends most of the film on the brink of being released from jail, only to screw it up and get himself thrown back into the pokey.

If it weren’t for one dumb dance number, Khiladi 786 would be a fun, harmless movie. There are just certain offenses that can’t be overlooked.

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Movie Review: Karzzzz (2008)

1 Star (out of 4)

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It’s no accident why Karzzzz is so bad. Himesh Reshammiya is both the film’s star and its music director, so the movie feels like a series of music videos. The plot, in which rock star Monty (Reshammiya) discovers he was murdered in a past life, contains so many extra characters and side plots that it’s hard to keep track of what’s really important — like, who is this bald villain with a musical bionic arm?

No Rating (violence); 153 minutes

This review originally appeared on napersun.com on October 21, 2008