Tag Archives: Nikhil Advani

Movie Review: Katti Batti (2015)

KattiBatti1 Star (out of 4)

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Katti Batti is a romance that’s uncomfortable to watch. You leave the theater feeling worse than when you entered.

The story begins three weeks after the dramatic breakup of Maddy (Imran Khan) and Payal (Kangana Ranaut). Maddy winds up in the hospital after drinking disinfectant, a drunken mistake that his family assumes is a suicide attempt.

His pushy younger sister, Koyal, and his best friend, Vinay, try to force Maddy to forget about Payal. When Maddy discovers that she’s getting married to his college nemesis — loathsome rich guy Ricky (Vivan Bhatena) — he sets out to stop the wedding, convinced that Payal still loves him.

The story of Maddy & Payal’s turbulent relationship is told via flashbacks, as Maddy routinely drifts off into his imagination even in the middle of dinner. There were plenty of times that they were happy, but there were more times when they weren’t. Goofy musical cues and some funny bits aren’t enough to classify a film this depressing as a comedy.

Writer-director Nikhil Advani’s fatal mistake is his assumption that Maddy’s protagonist status automatically makes him a good guy, when he objectively is not. A character who sincerely proposes marriage to a woman he’s only met the day before isn’t exactly emotionally stable.

It’s when things get difficult that Maddy shows his true colors. He responds to challenges with angry outbursts, and physically attacks both Ricky and Vinay. He’s suspicious and jealous of Payal, worried that she “will do something wrong” if left to her own devices.

After they break up, Maddy leaves 103 voicemail messages for Payal. When she doesn’t respond, he tries to find her by contacting not just their mutual friends but her co-workers as well. While Maddy never strikes Payal, he is possessive and controlling.

There’s a twist near the end of the film that Advani hopes will explain everything, but it doesn’t come close. By Advani’s rationale, Maddy isn’t a bad guy, he was just provoked into acting badly. But why isn’t Maddy responsible for his own actions? Acting like a madman is either a choice, or it’s cause for him to be locked in a mental institution.

But anything goes for Maddy, the center of the Katti Batti universe. His family and friends exist only to help Maddy sustain his romance, and they do so regardless of how poorly he treats them. As the movie progresses, the same question springs to mind with greater frequency: “Why are they helping this jerk?”

It’s not Khan’s fault that Katti Batti is such a bummer. He does what he can with a nasty character. Same for Ranaut, whose character exists only to be a love interest for Maddy. The rest of the supporting cast is good, too, but the material lets them down.

The twist near the end is pure movie contrivance that bears no resemblance to how real people would behave in a similar situation. Same goes for a tedious argument in which Payal interrupts a cricket match to scold Maddy for his unhealthy diet, poor aim in the bathroom, and for not noticing the new curtains she bought. The sequence is lazy, immature, and no fun at all, just like the rest of Katti Batti.

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Movie Review: Hero (2015)

Hero1.5 Stars (out of 4)

Buy the DVD at Amazon
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Hero is a tired action romance that becomes increasingly immature as the story progresses. It’s not the sparkling debut that newbie actors Sooraj Pancholi and Athiya Shetty were hoping for.

The film has the stamp of its producer, Salman Khan, all over it. Pancholi plays a miniature version of a character Khan has played many times before: a morally, sexually pure hooligan who fights his way out of trouble.

Sooraj (Pancholi) is the son of a mobster, Pasha (Aditya Pancholi, his real-life father), and is himself a goon of sorts. Sooraj only steals from other gangsters, and he distributes his stolen gains to people in need, occasionally springing for a night of dancing with his crew.

It’s at a club that he meets Radha (Shetty), a truly awful person. She’s mean, vain, stuck-up, pouty, and stupid. She is also very pretty, which explains why Sooraj makes time to scold her for being a snob instead of blowing her off, altogether.

Facing jail time, Pasha has Sooraj kidnap the daughter of the police Inspector General (Tigmanshu Dulia). Of course, the daughter is Radha. Sooraj and his boys pose as police, and she unquestioningly accompanies them to a safe house in the mountains. Only after she and Sooraj have fallen in love does she discover his true identity.

The kidnapping plot ends in the first half of the film. It’s during the second half, when Sooraj and Radha try to make their love work in the real world, that things get really stupid. There’s a ridiculous subplot about Radha’s brother inventing a fake boyfriend for her, who turns out to be very real and connected to the underworld.

Radha’s disapproving father is the real obstacle, and that gets at the heart of what’s wrong with Hero. Sooraj and Radha seem much younger than the characters they are meant to portray, who are ostensibly of legal drinking age (which is 25 in Mumbai). They act more like a pair of foolish 16-year-olds, convinced that they are Romeo & Juliet born anew.

Instead of talking with her father about her feelings privately, Radha declares them in front of a packed courtroom. When that doesn’t work, she and Sooraj stage a musical production that culminates in her threatening to kill herself unless her dad approves the relationship.

At a time when “women-centric” films are all the rage, Radha is a disappointing throwback. She’s not only restrained by her father’s wishes, but she lacks initiative of her own. When a man standing right next to her points a gun at Sooraj, she doesn’t even reach out to stop him. Her contribution is simply to shriek, “Sooraj!” while her beloved dodges bullets.

Compounding the problem of the movie’s feeling of immaturity is Pancholi’s youthful appearance. At 25, he’s baby-faced enough that he’d be playing high school roles in the US. He’s also short, which makes him appear even younger alongside the giants he fights. Instead of jumping into a leading role, it would fun to see him play the hot-headed younger brother or sidekick to an established actor.

Hero‘s redeeming factors are director Nikhil Advani and cinematographer Tushar Kanti Ray. The movie is really beautiful, especially during the first half. An opening shot of boats anchored on Mumbai’s waterfront is stunning. Advani’s affinity for contrast makes shots of the colorfully dressed characters cavorting on a snowy mountainside a treat to watch.

If only Advani weren’t saddled with an outdated template (Hero is a remake of Subhash Ghai’s 1983 film of the same name) and an aging actor-producer set on crowning his successor. Here’s hoping Advani’s next film, Katti Batti, comes with less baggage.

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