Tag Archives: Jackky Bhagnani

Movie Review: Youngistaan (2014)

Youngistaan2 Stars (out of 4)

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Youngistaan shares much in common with the 1993 Hollywood film Dave. Both are about regular guys shoved into the political spotlight, only to realize that they are now in a position to positively impact the lives of ordinary citizens. Dave is a better movie, so watch that instead.

Jackky Bhagnani stars in Youngistaan as Abhi, a game developer living in Japan with his longtime girlfriend, Avni (Neha Sharma). They are living life to the fullest, as we learn from nearly fifteen minutes of songs and scenes of them having fun.

The party stops when Abhi’s father, the Indian Prime Minister (played by Boman Irani), succumbs to cancer in an Orlando, Florida, hospital. They aren’t really in Orlando but somewhere in Australia, so why not just say they’re in Australia? It’s not like Orlando is famous for its cutting-edge cancer centers — unless there’s some new Epcot pavilion that went in since I last visited.

On his deathbed, Abhi’s father explains the state of Indian politics to his son and makes a request. A new prime minister will be installed, but the position is temporary. With election season just three months away — and with the ruling party polling so unfavorably — the interim prime minister is unlikely to be reelected. Accepting the nomination would be political suicide. That’s why Dad wants Abhi to accept the nomination and use his short window of opportunity to make a difference.

This does not sit well with Avni, who knows that a 28-year-old prime minister will be seen as a joke. She also worries about the strain the job will put on their relationship, although she underestimates how drastic the changes will be. That’s one of the hallmarks of Youngistaan: characters are repeatedly unprepared for events, solely as a matter of plot convenience.

Abhi quickly discovers how conservatism and infighting hamper political progress, and his suggestions are dismissed. He tries to win over young voters by playing hockey, which seems desperately uncool.

Abhi’s real problem is that he and Avni insist on living together and delude themselves into thinking that no one will find out. Even though they plan on getting married someday — and they’ve already been together for three years — Avni wants to do it on their terms and not just to make Abhi’s career easier. This is dumb, especially since hiding their relationship forces Avni to live essentially under house arrest. She’s so bored, she paints a picture of a fetus (I’m not kidding).

I’ve bagged on Jackky Bhagnani in the past, but he’s okay in Youngistaan. So is Sharma, although her character is frequently reduced to a stereotypical jealous girlfriend. Farooq Shaikh plays the role of Abhi’s wise, old advisor with such scholarly aloofness that you could have substituted him with a cartoon owl and no one would have noticed.

The politics in Youngistaan may make sense to people familiar with Indian democracy, but they are too convoluted for outsiders. At least the characters state the time frame — Abhi has three months to get things done — so the stakes are clear.

Things should have been more understandable given how slowly all of the characters talk. The plot unfolds at a snail’s pace, interrupted by man-on-the-street interviews of nobodies telling the audience how they are supposed to feel. The climax is ten minutes of characters watching election returns on TV.

Given how young the electorate of India is, Youngistaan had a real opportunity to address their aspirations and motivate them to action. Instead, writer-director Syed Ahmed Afzal gives us politics as usual.


Movie Review: Welcome 2 Karachi (2015)

WelcomeToKarachi0.5 Stars (out of 4)

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When a character in Welcome 2 Karachi says, “I want to shoot myself,” it felt like he’d read my mind. Watching this alleged comedy is torture.

I’m still not entirely sure where the film’s first scenes take place. Former British Navy officer Shammi (Arshad Warsi) and his idiot friend, Kedar (Jackky Bhagnani), work for Kedar’s dad, an event planner. They discuss Kedar’s desire to move to America, preferably via a boat from London.

Kedar’s dad puts the guys in charge of a yacht party, accompanied by a dozen bikini clad white women. The boat sinks after being caught in a ridiculous CGI cyclone, and Shammi and Kedar wash ashore in…Karachi, Pakistan?

Despite all the indications that the movie opens in the UK — Shammi’s British Navy discharge, talk of traveling from London to America, a boatload of white women — they must have been in India all along. Otherwise, their arrival in Pakistan would make no sense. Not that sense has much value in Welcome 2 Karachi.

The movie is casually violent to a jarring degree. While the guys are still passed out onshore, a bomb explodes next to them, killing dozens of people. They joke around in a morgue. When the guys seek help from the Indian embassy, they trigger gun battles between several other embassies: the US and Iraq, Israel and Palestine, and Russia and Ukraine. Because ongoing conflicts with civilian casualties are hilarious.

Lowbrow jokes based on offensive generalizations are tossed about without care. Every Pakistani is violent. White women are scantily-clad sex objects. Americans are buffoons keen to take credit for military victories they didn’t earn. India is always the best, yet the first thing Shammi and Kedar request upon their rescue as accidental heroes is joint US-UK citizenship.

Lauren Gottlieb plays a Pakistani spy, but the fact that she’s actually a white American means that Kedar and Shammi can hallucinate her performing a sexy dance number in a bra top and hotpants.

Her character doesn’t do much to drive the plot forward, but then again, neither do any other characters. Stuff just happens, and characters drop in and out of the narrative at random. By the time Shammi & Kedar’s redemptive arc peaks with them having to rescue a plane full of deaf Paralympians, I wanted to barf.

As poorly constructed as the story is, the technical execution in Welcome 2 Karachi is worse. Every bit of CGI — from the cyclone to the plane taking off — looks cheap. The voice dubbing is wretched. It’s easy to tell which characters have been dubbed because their lips don’t match the words they speak.

The movie has particular trouble with its American characters. The dubbing is so bad that the same character’s voice changes from scene to scene. A high-pitched Southern accent becomes a flat, middle-American accent the next.

Also, why is the American embassy in India staffed by Aussies, and the American embassy in Pakistan staffed by Brits?

Welcome 2 Karachi‘s single biggest problem is that its main characters are annoying. Almost every character who meets Shammi and Kedar eventually tells them to shut up. If everyone else in the film finds them that irritating, imagine how annoying they must be to a bored, confused audience.


Opening May 29: Welcome to Karachi

On new Hindi film opens in the Chicago area on May 29, 2015. The comedy Welcome to Karachi stars Arshad Warsi and Jackky Bhagnani alongside So You Think You Can Dance‘s Lauren Gottlieb, who plays a Pakistani spy. Movies in which Warsi is the marquee star don’t often release in North America, so this is a surprise.

Welcome to Karachi opens on Friday at MovieMax Cinemas in Niles and AMC South Barrington 30 in South Barrington. It has a listed runtime of 2 hrs. 11 min.

Tanu Weds Manu Returns carries over for a second week at the AMC River East 21 in Chicago, Regal Gardens Stadium 1-6 in Skokie, MovieMax, Regal Round Lake Beach Stadium 18 in Round Lake Beach, South Barrington 30, Regal Cantera Stadium 17 in Warrenville, and AMC Loews Woodridge 18 in Woodridge.

Piku gets a fourth week at MovieMax, Cantera 17, Woodridge 18, and South Barrington 30, which also carries over Bombay Velvet for a third week.

Other Indian movies playing in the Chicago area this weekend include Masss (Tamil) and Pandaga Chesko (Telugu) at both the Muvico Rosemont 18 in Rosemont and MovieMax, which also carries Gaddar: The Traitor (Punjabi), Rakshasudu (the Telugu version of Masss), Lailaa O Lailaa (Malayalam), and 36 Vayadhinile (Tamil).

Opening March 22: Rangrezz

Pickings remain slim in Chicago area theaters. Only one new Hindi movie opens locally on March 22, 2013, and it’s not the one I wanted. Instead of the creepy-looking Bipasha Basu/Nawazuddin Siddiqui horror flick Aatma, we get Rangrezz, producer Vashu Bhagnani’s latest attempt to turn his son, Jackky, into a Bollywood star, against the wishes of audiences everywhere.

Rangrezz opens on Friday at the Big Cinemas Golf Glen 5 in Niles. It has a listed runtime of 2 hrs. 20 min.

The Golf Glen 5 is the only theater in the Chicago area carrying any Indian movies this weekend, including the Hindi films The Attacks of 26/11 and Kai Po Che! (which has earned $1,080,384 from four weeks in U.S. theaters), as well as Paradesi (Tamil) and Romans (Malayalam).

Just four weeks after its theatrical release, The Attacks of 26/11 joins the catalog of films of available on Eros Now on Friday. Like 3G, it’s considered a premium title that’s free to subscribers or available for a 48-hour rental for $1.99.

Movie Review: Kal Kissne Dekha (2009)

Kal Kissne DekhaZero Stars (out of 4)

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Kal Kissne Dekha is a movie about a young man with a special power: the power to bore an audience to tears by relying on Bollywood cliches.

The young man in question is Nihul (Jackky Bhagnani), a country boy who can see the future. He leaves his lonely, heartbroken mother and heads to a university in the city to become a scientist.

As is the case in many Hindi films these days, Nihul is supposedly the most awesome guy ever. He doesn’t do anything to warrant this status; it’s simply that he’s the protagonist and the plot demands it.

However, there’s a group of cool kids at college who don’t like the flashy newcomer. The mean guy and the snobby girl pick on Nihul until his psychic ability allows him to save their lives. Only then do they realize how fabulous Nihul really is.

In between motorcycle chases, fight scenes and dance numbers, Nihul falls in love with the snobby girl, Nisha (Vaishali Desai). Not for any good reason, mind you, but because the plot demands it. Then the requisite gangsters, gay stereotypes, terrorists and incompetent policemen show up, just to make sure no Bollywood cliche is left behind. It’s as though the film was written by checking items off of a list.

Kal Kissne Dekha is writer-director Vivek Sharma’s second effort, following last year’s forgettable Bhoothnath. I’d appreciate it if he’d stop making movies, and not try to see if the third time is the charm. Sharma’s storytelling style insults the audience’s intelligence by relying on cliches and stunts in place of even the barest hint of character development. And he shamelessly includes two of the young stars of Slumdog Millionaire in brief cameo appearances in order to capitalize on their fame.

If Sharma insists on writing and directing more movies, he needs to abandon two themes present in both of his efforts to date. First is the notion that the only route to popularity is by using a supernatural ability to save someone. In Bhoothnath, the young protagonist relies on his ghostly pal to pull the school bully out of a well, thereby winning the bully’s friendship. As a moral to a story, it’s a pretty depressing one for those of us without superpowers.

The second bizarre theme is that disaster befalls those who dare move out of their parents’ homes. It’s blatant in Bhoothnath, but it also crops up in Kal Kissne Dekha, as when Nihul tells his mother, “I never should have left home.” It’s a conservative message that doesn’t mesh with the fact that, by moving to the city, Nihul gets to study science, make friends and meet his girlfriend — stuff he couldn’t have done in his small village.

Opening June 12: Kal Kissne Dekha

Finally, Bollywood is back in the Chicago area. One new Hindi film opens this weekend, while another enters its second week in theaters.

New this weekend is Kal Kissne Dekha. The movie stars newcomer Jackky Bhagnani as Nihal, a psychic college student who comes to the aid of Meesha, played by fellow newcomer Vaishali Desai. The film also features performances by Rubina Ali and Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail, two of the cute kids from Slumdog Millionaire. Kal Kissne Dekha opens Friday, June 12 at the AMC South Barrington 30 in South Barrington and at the Big Cinemas Golf Glen 5 in Niles.

Carrying over for another week at the Golf Glen 5 is the comedic thriller 99, which stars Kunal Khemu, Boman Irani and Soha Ali Khan.

Here’s the trailer for Kal Kissne Dekha: