Tag Archives: Rascals

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

In Theaters October 21, 2011

Bollywood seems to be taking the weekend off in anticipation of the release of Shahrukh Khan’s massive 3D superhero epic Ra.One next Wednesday. Rascals is the only Hindi movie showing in Chicago area theaters the weekend beginning Friday, October 21. The comedy — which has earned $261,156 in U.S. theaters so far — carries over at the Big Cinemas Golf Glen 5 in Niles and AMC South Barrington 30 in South Barrington.

Other Indian movies showing at the Golf Glen 5 this weekend include the Telugu films Dookudu, Oosaravelli and Pillai Zamindar and the Malayalam movie Indian Rupee (though the Golf Glen 5’s print may be dubbed in English).

Opening October 14: Aazaan

Aazaan is the only new Hindi movie opening in the Chicago area the weekend beginning October 14, 2011. It’s a bit of a surprise that Aazaan is opening here at all, as the bio-warfare action film features no established Bollywood stars, usually a prerequisite for securing screenspace in American theaters. Based on the trailer, it looks like it could be a decent thriller:

Aazaan opens on Friday at the Big Cinemas Golf Glen 5 in Niles and the AMC South Barrington 30 in South Barrington. It has a listed runtime of 2 hrs. and 8 min.

The only other Hindi movie showing in the Chicago area this weekend (apart from those showing at the Chicago International Film Festival) is Rascals, which carries over for a second week at the Golf Glen 5, South Barrington 30 and Regal Cantera Stadium 17 in Warrenville. Rascals earned $168,082 in its opening weekend in the U.S. — $8 of which, unfortunately, were mine.

Other Indian movies showing at the Golf Glen 5 this weekend include Khushiyaan (Punjabi) and the Telugu films Dookudu, Oosaravelli and Pillai Zamindar.

Movie Review: Rascals (2011)

Zero Stars (out of 4)

Buy the DVD at Amazon
Buy the soundtrack at Amazon

Director David Dhawan is responsible for my worst Bollywood movie of 2009: Do Knot Disturb. Dhawan looks on track to reclaim the title this year with Rascals, a movie that exemplifies filmmaking at its laziest.

Let me start with a small example of the laziness that permeates Rascals. Early in the film, a tough guy named Anthony (Arjun Rampal) walks into a bar to watch a soccer game, and he places a bet on Brazil. Cut to the TV for a shot of the game, and it’s a game between Germany and Argentina.

A mistake like that wouldn’t have been a big deal if the movie was otherwise competently made. But here’s what it tells me about Dhawan’s level of respect for the audience: he has none. He thinks that moviegoers will be happy to spend two hours watching Ajay Devgn and Sanjay Dutt slap each other while Kangana Ranaut struts around in a bikini.

The problems stem from the crap story at the heart of Rascals. The plot is essentially a dumbed-down version of Bluffmaster!, but without a moral compass. Devgan and Dutt play Bhagat and Chetan (respectively), a pair of thieves who each independently steal from Anthony on the same day. Both flee to Bangkok, where they become rivals for the affections of Khushi (Ranaut).

Bhagat and Chetan spend the bulk of the film trying to thwart each other’s advances on clueless Khushi. Anthony doesn’t reenter the story until the last twenty minutes or so.

Rascals feels much longer than its two-hour runtime. Scenes are introduced without any set-up, and frequently without narrative purpose. Despite having two action stars as its leads, there are few action scenes, but lots of boring conversations between characters. Ranaut’s shrill delivery makes these scenes almost unbearable.

It’s not entirely Ranaut’s fault that her character so irritating. Khushi isn’t written to have any sort of depth or personality: she’s a dumb sex object, as is the only other major female character in Rascals, an escort named Dolly (Lisa Haydon).

A reliance upon stereotypes is another example of creative laziness in Rascals. Women are stupid and only good for sex; white women are particularly slutty (as evidence by the suspiciously high number of scantily clad, blonde backup dancers in Thailand); men are sex-crazed.

Not wanting to let an opportunity for casual racism slip by, Dhawan includes a scene in which Bhagat and Chetan are caught up in a bank robbery. The robbers are all black Africans. In Thailand.

I won’t go so far as to say that Dhawan is racist or sexist (though I can’t figure out why he thought it was cool to have Anthony vent his anger toward Bhagat and Chetan by slapping his innocent sister in the face). I just think he’s careless. Careless about the messages his movies send, not to mention careless about details.

Details like having the characters in Rascals celebrate Christmas just days after they celebrated Valentine’s Day.

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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 August 14: Kaminey and Life Partner

The big Hindi film opening in American theaters on Friday, August 14, 2009, is Kaminey (“Scoundrels”), a dark comedy about a pair of feuding identical twins who get into trouble. Shahid Kapoor plays both twins, one of whom has a lisp while the other stutters. Priyanka Chopra plays the stutterer’s girlfriend.

In the Chicago area, Kaminey will run at the AMC Loews Pipers Alley 4 in Chicago, AMC South Barrington 30 in South Barrington, AMC Cantera 30 in Warrenville and Big Cinemas Golf Glen 5 in Niles. It has a listed runtime of 2 hrs 15 min.

The Golf Glen 5 and South Barrington 30 will also show this week’s other new Hindi film, Life Partner, a comedy about marriage starring Govinda. Its runtime is listed as 2 hrs 20 min.

Love Aaj Kal, which has earned $2,134,627 in U.S. theaters so far, continues for a third week at the Cantera 30, South Barrington 30 and Golf Glen 5 cinemas.

Other Indian movies in theaters this weekend include the Telugu flicks Anjaneyulu at the Golf Glen 5 and Magadheera at Sathyam Cinemas in Downers Grove.