Tag Archives: Mausam

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

Spotlight South Asia at the Chicago International Film Festival

The 2011 Chicago International Film Festival (CIFF) kicks off tonight. This year, the fest features a special program titled Spotlight South Asia which highlights films from Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and, of course, India.

The program begins on Friday night, October 7, with a gala presentation of Mausam. Director Pankaj Kapur will be in attendance, and the ticket price includes admission to an after-party following the movie. (I speak from experience that movie goers will likely need a drink after sitting through Mausam.)

Perhaps the real highlight of the event is the world premiere of Kshay (“Corrode”) the following night. This independent Hindi film follows a woman’s obsession with a statue of the goddess Lakshmi.

Members of Kshay‘s cast and crew will be on hand for all three of the film’s festival screenings, including director Karan Gour, a nominee in the New Directors competition. Gour will also participate in a free panel discussion on Monday titled “Beyond Bollywood,” highlighting India’s emerging independent film market.

If you plan on attending Saturday night’s premiere, arrive at least fifteen minutes early to enjoy a live performance of portions of the film’s score by a sextet of Chicago musicians.

Another festival entrant from India, Patang, has an interesting Chicago connection. Director Prashant Bhargava was born and raised on Chicago’s South Side, but chose to film his first feature entirely in Ahmedabad. Chicago Sun-Times film critic Roger Ebert wrote a blog post about the movie and his decades-long friendship with Bhargava’s father, Vijay.

The other feature-length movies from India showing at CIFF are Azhagarsamy’s Horse (Tamil), Dekh Indian Circus (Hindi), Gandu (Bengali) and Inshallah, Football (Urdu and Kashmiri). Click here for a full list of movies featured in the Spotlight South Asia program.

Opening October 7: Rascals

Ajay Devgn and Sanjay Dutt star as con artists in the action-comedy Rascals, opening on October 7, 2011.

Rascals opens on Friday in three Chicago area theaters: Big Cinemas Golf Glen 5 in Niles, AMC South Barrington 30 in South Barrington and Regal Cantera Stadium 17 in Warrenville.

Last weekend’s new release, Force, carries over at all three of the above theaters. The South Barrington 30 is also holding over Mausam and Mere Brother Ki Dulhan.

Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster departs the Golf Glen 5 on Thursday after posting opening weekend earnings of a mere $9,548 from the nine U.S. theaters that carried it.

Other Indian movies showing at the Golf Glen 5 this weekend include Dookudu (Telugu), Ulagam Sutrum Vaaliban (Malayalam) and Oosaravelli (Telugu, but the theater lists its language as English).

Opening September 29: Force and Sahib Biwi Aur Gangster

Two new Hindi movies open in the Chicago area the weekend beginning Friday, September 29, 2011. The wider release of the two is the cop drama Force, starring John Abraham and Genelia D’Souza.

Force opens on Friday at the Big Cinemas Golf Glen 5 in Niles, AMC South Barrington 30 in South Barrington and Regal Cantera Stadium 17 in Warrenville. Click here for a complete list of U.S. theaters showing the movie, which has a listed runtime of 2 hrs. 17 min.

Sahib Biwi Aur Gangster is the other new Hindi film opening in the Chicago area this weekend, making its debut at the Golf Glen 5.

Last weekend’s new release, Mausam, carries over at all three of the above theaters. The South Barrington 30 also continues to devote screenspace to Mere Brother Ki Dulhan and Bodyguard.

Other Indian movies showing at the Golf Glen 5 this weekend include Dookudu (Telugu), Muran (Tamil) and Pranayam (Malayalam).

Movie Review: Mausam (2011)

1 Star (out of 4)

Buy the DVD at Amazon
Buy the soundtrack at Amazon

In the film industry, a “logline” is a single sentence that summarizes a movie’s plot. It’s an effective way to pique an audience’s interest or pitch a story to investors. Take Die Hard, for example: A cop’s attempt to reconcile with his ex-wife is derailed when her office building is taken over by terrorists.

Loglines aren’t unique to Hollywood; many great Indian movies can be succinctly summarized as well. Chak De India: The Indian Women’s Field Hockey team must overcome their own internal struggles before they can take on the rest of the world.

I’ve tried to craft a logline for Mausam, and I can’t do it. I don’t know what Mausam is about. Okay, I obviously know that it’s about two young people whose fondness for each other spans decades. So what?

In my example loglines for Die Hard and Chak De India, the conflicts that fuel the plots of both films are contained within the sentences. John McClane is at odds with both his ex-wife and the terrorists. The women’s hockey team fights internal and external battles.

Mausam‘s biggest problem is that it has no conflict. There’s no reason why the lead characters, Harry (Shahid Kapoor) and Aayat (Sonam Kapoor), can’t be together. Their parents don’t object, they’re not engaged to other people, they’re not driven apart by war or culture. Rather, their budding romance is stymied by minor obstacles and a lack of communication.

Harry and Aayat begin falling for one another in Harry’s village in Punjab, where Aayat has moved to escape violent riots in Kashmir. Then Aayat leaves in the middle of the night, without so much as leaving a note for Harry.

Seven years later (in 1999), Aayat and Harry meet again in Scotland. Actually, she spots him first but doesn’t say anything. She waits for him to notice her among all the women in Edinburgh, even though he has no reason to suspect she’d be there.

Her explanation for why she fled so suddenly years earlier? Her dad phoned and asked her to join him in Mumbai. No emergency, and she wasn’t in danger, she just moved house in the matter of a few hours on a moment’s notice.

The couple appear to be on their way to marriage when, this time, Harry is abruptly called away without time to contact Aayat.

Aayat’s excuse for not contacting Harry is difficult to believe, but Harry has no excuse at all. He has Aayat’s cell phone number, her home phone number and her home address. Rather than call Aayat to tell her why he had to leave, he phones his sister in Switzerland and tells her to go to Scotland (without calling first) and meet Aayat in person to explain what happened. Of course, Aayat has herself moved to parts unknown by then.

Harry and Aayat meet several times in subsequent years before they finally commit to a future together during a preposterous action-packed climax. The finale is so stupid, I laughed out loud.

What makes the silliness of actor Pankaj Kapur’s directorial debut such a shame is that Mausam is a great-looking movie. Harry’s hometown is a charming village out of time. There are a number of breathtaking set pieces, as when Harry races on his bicycle to catch Aayat’s departing train. Closeups of Sonam Kapoor — who’s plenty cute on her own — make her look angelic.

Kapur might yet have great success as a director, so long as someone else writes the screenplay.

Another problem that will only affect international audiences is that Mausam‘s English subtitles are translated too literally, something that doesn’t work given the different sentence structures of Hindi and English. Consequently, the jokes aren’t funny, and one must spend so much mental energy reconstructing the words into meaningful sentences that it distracts from the action on screen.

Overall, Mausam proves that style doesn’t trump substance. As gorgeous as it looks, Mausam is too boring and silly to warrant the nearly three hours of attention it requires.


Opening September 23: Mausam

After being delayed for a week, Mausam makes its debut in Chicago area theaters on September 23, 2011. The romantic political drama stars Shahid Kapoor and Sonam Kapoor.

Mausam opens on Friday at the Big Cinemas Golf Glen 5 in Niles, AMC South Barrington 30 in South Barrington and Regal Cantera Stadium 17 in Warrenville. Click here for a national theater listing. It has a listed runtime of 2 hrs. 35 min.

The great romantic comedy Mere Brother Ki Dulhan enters its third week at all three of the above theaters. Bodyguard gets a fourth week at the South Barrington 30.

Note that the Indian-Canadian co-production Breakaway — opening this weekend in India under the title Speedy Singhs — releases internationally on September 30.

Other Indian movies showing at the Golf Glen 5 this weekend include Dookudu (Telugu) and Pranayam (Malayalam).

In Theaters September 16, 2011

With the release of Mausam pushed back to next week, there are no new Hindi movies opening in the Chicago area this weekend. However, there are still a few Bollywood hits lingering in theaters.

Mere Brother Ki Dulhan debuted last weekend with a respectable haul of $399,429 in U.S. theaters. It gets a second week at the Big Cinemas Golf Glen 5 in Niles, AMC South Barrington 30 in South Barrington and Regal Cantera 17 in Warrenville.

All three theaters are carrying over Bodyguard for a third week, and Bol gets a third week at the South Barrington 30 as well.

Other Indian films showing at the Golf Glen 5 this weekend include Doctor Love (Malayalam), Mankatha (Tamil) and Vanthaan Vendraan (Tamil).