Tag Archives: Mukesh Bhatt

Movie Review: Aashiqui 2 (2013)

Aashiqui_23 Stars (out of 4)

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Sibling producers Mukesh and Mahesh Bhaat are the main perpetrators of Bollywood’s tendency to call any new film a sequel in order to trade on the reputation of a previously successful film. I’m almost willing to forgive them in the case of Aashiqui 2: a focused, well-told story that deserves to be seen, even if it has nothing to do with the 1990 hit Aashiqui.

Aashiqui 2 jumps right into the downward spiral of rockstar Rahul (Aditya Roy Kapoor). Having squandered most of his fame by being an unreliable, quarrelsome drunk, Rahul is ready to quit the music biz. Unfortunately for stars like Rahul, they are industries themselves as much as they are artists. Rahul’s best friend and manager, Vivek (Shaad Randhawa), isn’t about to let Rahul walk out on the gigs he’s secured for his temperamental diva buddy, no matter how lowbrow they are compared to the stadiums Rahul once played.

After bailing on a gig after a fight with an audience member, drunk Rahul winds up in a hotel bar. He’s blown away when he hears one of his songs being sung by the young woman who fronts the hotel’s resident cover band. Convinced that he can turn the singer, Aarohi (Shraddha Kapoor), into a star, he gets her to return to Mumbai with him.

Rahul’s focus on Aarohi’s career at the expense of his own drives a wedge between him and Vivek, but Rahul’s hunch about Aarohi is right. She makes it big, and the couple falls in love. However, Rahul’s alcoholism prevents them from enjoying her success.

The straightforward plot allows a lot of time for character growth. A character as complicated and potentially loathsome as Rahul — a rich guy willing to throw away a life others would kill for — needs time to grow on the audience. He gets that time, and the audience is able to appreciate the overpowering hold that alcohol has on him.

After his grating performances in Action Replayy and Guzaarish, I was ready to write off Aditya Roy Kapoor as hopeless. I’m glad I didn’t, because he has turned into a fine actor. He humanizes Rahul, giving insight into the troubled artist’s ever-changing moods. Even as Aarohi’s success validates his instincts and pleases him emotionally, it reminds him that he used to be the one in the spotlight.

Shraddha Kapoor is at her best during the film’s many dramatic scenes, but she struggles during scenes of Aarohi’s success. Whenever she’s in front of an audience, Aarohi looks like she’d rather be anywhere else. Her reaction to autograph and interview requests is, “I’ll do it later.” I doubt that a performer as standoffish as Aarohi could achieve the kind of popularity she supposedly does.

The supporting cast is solid, especially Mahesh Thakur as the fatherly record producer Sehgal. As Aarohi contemplates abandoning her career to help Rahul dry out, Sehgal asks her, “If your love was his cure, then why hasn’t it worked yet?”

Since the movie is about a pair of singers, the soundtrack plays a prominent role in Aashiqui 2. While the songs are good, the soundtrack lacks variety. Virtually every song is a power ballad, including the one Rahul opens his concert with at the start of the film. (Who opens a show with a power ballad?)

During that same scene, it’s not clear why the guy in the audience who starts the fight has such a problem with Rahul, whom he claims ruined his life. The same guy shows up again later as a now-successful singer, still holding a grudge against Rahul. This subplot requires more explanation.

The few hiccups in Aashiqui 2 don’t derail the plot, and the focus stays on the characters, where it belongs. This is a smart film that knows just what it wants to be and delivers. I’m just sorry it didn’t get the wide U.S. theatrical opening it deserved.


Movie Review: Murder 3 (2013)

Murder32.5 Stars (out of 4)

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The trailer for Murder 3 poses the question: “How well do you know the person you love?” The film’s conclusion is a depressing: “Not very well.” Nevertheless, Murder 3 does evoke some fun chills along the way.

Randeep Hooda plays hot-shot fashion photographer Vikram. The movie begins with Vikram watching a “Dear John” video recording of his girlfriend, Roshni (Aditi Rao Hydari), telling him that she’s leaving because she feels she doesn’t know him any more. Vikram heads to a bar to drown his sorrows, and a pretty hostess named Nisha (Sara Loren) takes pity on him, even though he acts like an ungrateful, drunken bastard.

They hook up the very next night at his beautiful but creepy mansion outside of the city. The next morning, the police, including Nisha’s ex-boyfriend, Kabir (Rajesh Shringarpore), show up with a report on their ongoing investigation into Roshni’s disappearance. Kabir makes it clear that he thinks that Vikram made Roshni disappear, and Vikram’s relationship with Nisha adds urgency to his search for the truth.

Vikram’s eagerness to start a relationship with Nisha would make sense if Roshni had left him a long time ago, but he tells the police that the two of them had only moved into the mansion a few weeks ago. So Roshni — his great lady-love who he’s shown romancing in South Africa via flashbacks — has been gone a matter of days, and he’s suddenly in love with Nisha?

All of this — the police investigation, Vikram’s apparent fickleness, and the fact that his bathroom appears to be haunted — should make Nisha run for the hills. She doesn’t because she is a total moron. It’s hard to think of another movie character so oblivious and ditzy who wasn’t specifically written to be so.

The best example of Nisha’s bubble-headedness is the morning after her she has sex with Vikram. Nisha walks into Vikram’s bathroom and sees two toothbrushes sitting in a glass. Even though Vikram claims to be single, this would seem to indicate that someone else lives with Vikram and shares his master bathroom with him.

Had Nisha been smart enough to connect the dots, she would’ve realized Vikram lied to her, gotten her stuff, and left for good. What does Nisha the Moron do instead? She uses one of the toothbrushes to brush her teeth!

The movie would’ve been in real trouble had Nisha the Moron been the main character throughout the whole film, but fortunately the second half of the movie deals with the truth of what happened to Roshni. It’s riveting and tense, pulling at the audience’s emotions more than the mild jump scares of the first half of the movie.

Aditi Rao Hydari is terrific as Roshni. She’s excellent in both flashbacks to happier times and in the wrenching scenes when her world goes to hell.

Hooda is also good showcasing the two sides of Vikram. He’s super creepy in the present-day scenes, and perhaps too much so. Any woman with half a brain would peg this guy as trouble, so he could’ve dialed it back a notch.

Loren is not totally at fault for playing Nisha as such a dimwit. If writer Mahesh Bhatt and director Vishesh Bhatt didn’t want Nisha to seem so dumb, they should’ve added some backstory to explain whatever crippling self-esteem problems or daddy issues drove her into the arms of a nut like Vikram.

If one can get past Nisha’s frustrating vapidness, there are some decent thrills to be found in the second half of Murder 3. But if you’re looking for sweet, romantic Valentine’s Day fare, look elsewhere.