Tag Archives: Love Express

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

Movie Review: Love Express (2011)

1 Star (our of 4)

Buy the DVD at Amazon

I’m tempted to cut Love Express some slack since it begins with the disclaimer: “A film by debutant artists and technicians.” But lack of experience can’t excuse an inferior product, and Love Express stinks.

While it didn’t cost me any money to watch (the full movie is legally available for free on YouTube), I can’t understand why the studio, Mukta Arts, thought it was ready for commercial distribution.

The saddest thing about Love Express is that its premise is great:

A pair of young strangers — traveling by train with their families, en route to their arranged marriage — confess to each other that they don’t want to get married. They conspire to derail the wedding plans but aren’t prepared for the consequences when their scheme works.

The premise practically pitches itself. There’s a built-in deadline — matters have to be resolved before the train gets to its destination — and the characters are forced to deal with the problem because they’re trapped on a moving train. Couple the deadline and the confined spaces with familial pressure, and you should have box office gold.

But, in the hands of an inexperienced crew, the film doesn’t come together. Some of the train interiors look cheaply constructed. The sounds and sway of the camera that are supposed to mimic a moving train are inconsistently applied. The song that accompanies the lone choreographed dance number is annoying.

Apart from the great premise, the writing is pretty bad. Dialogue is clunky and characters woefully underdeveloped. The main couple — Kanav (Sahil Mehta) and Asneet (Mannat Ravi) — have such an abrupt change of heart that even they can’t come up with good reasons why they’re suddenly in love. Kanav gets misty eyed remembering when Asneet called him “dog brain,” and Asneet proudly bears a stain on her saree from that time Kanav spilled hot tea on her.

Not only are the characters poorly written, but they are poorly acted as well. Ravi is fine as Asneet, but Mehta’s Kanav is an irritating boor. There’s little help from the supporting cast, with the exception of Roobie as Asneet’s mother.

Om Puri, the only recognizable actor in the movie, is limited in what he can bring to the table. His character, Asneet’s grandfather, is confined to his berth on the train. His actions are supposed to change the course of the film, but they feel less impactful since he never interacts directly with the main characters.

I respect the fact that Mukta Arts and producer Subhash Ghai want to open doors for artists and technicians new to the industry, but the gesture is meaningless without guidance. Having their names attached to such a dud of a film may actually do the debutants’ careers more harm than good.