Tag Archives: Shraddha Das

Movie Review: Dil Toh Baccha Hai Ji (2011)

2.5 Stars (out of 4)

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Watching Ajay Devgn’s terrific performance in Dil Toh Baccha Hai Ji (“The Heart Is But a Child”) gave me insight into why I hated Rascals so much. Devgn is a great comic actor, and to see his talents squandered in something loud and stupid like Rascals is infuriating.

Dil Toh Baccha Hai Ji (DTBHJ, henceforth) follows the exploits of three single guys. Neran (Devgn), in the midst of a divorce, moves into his parents’ old house. To help with the rent and to stave off loneliness, Neran places an ad for a couple of roommates. He gets a nerdy poet named Milind (Omi Vaidya) and a gigolo named Abhay (Emraan Hashmi).

Unlike other Bollywood movies featuring a trio of guys learning about love — such as Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara and Dil Chahta Hai — the relationships between the male characters are secondary. They get along fine, but they don’t know each other well enough for their friendship to ever be at stake.

What the guys do offer one another is differing views on love. Milind is so hopelessly optimistic that he falls for Gungun (Shraddha Das), a radio DJ who’s way out of league. He refuses to believe that she’s stringing him along for his money.

Cynical Abhay sets his sights on Anushka (Tisca Chopra), an older ex-model in need of a boy toy. He lets her shower him with gifts until a beautiful, young philanthropist named Nikki (Shruti Haasan) makes him consider settling down.

Both Abhay and Milind give their questionable advice to Neran, who’s nervous about reentering the dating scene. Neran finds himself drawn to June (Shazahn Padamsee), a 21-year-old intern at his office (he’s 38, which is middle-aged in Bollywood). He pursues her, failing to notice that she only calls him “Sir.”

DTBHJ, in an attempt to portray relationships realistically, avoids many of the shortcuts in logic other romantic comedies take. The women don’t fall for the men simply because the guys love them. Likewise, they don’t undergo radical personality changes to fit the needs of the plot. Part of the point is that Neran, Milind and Abhay aren’t seeing the women for who they are, but for who they’d like them to be.

Accordingly, it’s up to the men to change. Abhay is set up for the most dramatic transformation, but Neran’s is the most satisfying (though a little more backstory on why his marriage failed would’ve been nice). He has to come to terms with being a single dad on the verge of turning forty, before he can think about being someone’s husband again. Devgn’s deadpan facial expressions are the high points of the film.

The biggest disappointment is that Milind remains essentially unchanged throughout the movie. He’s also irritating, as is Gungun, who’s much nastier than she needs to be to drive home the point that she’s not interested in Milind.

DTBHJ falters in a few other areas as well. Jokes early on are punctuated with annoying “wacky” sound effects that mercifully diminish as the story progresses. Director Madhur Bhandarkar, as he did in Fashion, includes a gay character who is nothing more than a flamboyant, horny stereotype. It’s an unfortunate misstep in an otherwise enjoyable film.


Movie Review: Lahore (2010)

1.5 Stars (out of 4)

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Filmmaker Sanjay Puransingh Chauhan is obviously well-versed in sports movie clichés, as Lahore is full of them. But most sports movies also have a formula, and Chauhan gets the formula all wrong.

Dheeru (Sushant Singh) is an up-and-coming kickboxer poised to make his debut for the Indian National Kickboxing Team. He has a shrill girlfriend, Neela (Shraddha Nigam), and a younger brother named Veeru (Aanaahad).

Veeru is an up-and-coming cricket star who was once himself a talented kickboxing prospect. He switched to cricket because he doesn’t like violence. By the law of sports movie clichés, this can mean only one thing: Dheeru is going to die in the ring, and Veeru will have to start kickboxing again to avenge his brother’s death.

This cliché in itself is not a problem. Rocky IV and Kickboxer are examples of the revenge cliché done well. Where Lahore gets the formula wrong is that the first half of the movie is footage of Dheeru training for his fatal fight. We all know he’s going to die; just kill him already, so that we can watch Veeru train for his revenge match! It’s kind of like if the first half of Rocky IV had been nothing but training footage of Apollo Creed.

With so much time wasted on Dheeru, Veeru’s storyline is rushed. Less than a month after his brother’s death (and in just a few minutes of screen time), Veeru becomes a skilled enough fighter to represent India in a friendly tournament against Pakistan — fighting the very man who killed Dheeru.

The heavy focus on doomed Dheeru also compresses the storyline involving Ida (Shraddha Das), a psychiatric intern for the Pakistani team, and Veeru’s eventual love interest. A musical montage shows Ida befriending Neela at the tournament where Dheeru dies. We don’t get any reasons why they suddenly become BFFs, other than that the plot requires it. Ida accompanies the coffin home and helps with Dheeru’s funeral, even though she only knew him for a matter of days.

The movie asserts that forgiveness and a shared interest in sports can help heal the division between countries as antagonistic as India and Pakistan. But Veeru’s inevitable forgiveness of Dheeru’s murderer strains credulity. Who among us would be able to hug it out with the person who murdered our loved one in cold blood after less than a month?

Besides the bad application of clichés, Lahore is poorly edited. The action shifts rapidly between shots of Dheeru engaged in a kickboxing match, Neela watching nervously in the stands, Veeru taking batting practice hundreds of miles away, and the guy operating the scoreboard at the kickboxing match. It removes the tension from the action scenes and makes the fight choreography seem sloppy.

The flow is so disjointed, watching Lahore is like trying to watch TV when your channel-flipping dad is charge of the remote control.