Tag Archives: Shreyas Talpade

Movie Review: Kamaal Dhamaal Malamaal (2012)

0.5 Stars (out of 4)

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Even after watching Kamaal Dhamaal Malamaal, I’m not sure what it’s about. Sure, I can tell you who the characters are and what happens to them, but what is the movie about? Kamaal Dhamaal Malamaal lacks a coherent narrative and, as such, is a boring, pointless waste of time.

Without a compelling story to drive the plot along, the burden of carrying the film falls on the shoulders of its lead character, Johnny (Shreyas Talpade). Few lead characters are so woefully unsuited for the task of carrying a film as Johnny is.

Johnny is a good-for-nothing 25-year-old. He has no job, hoping instead to get rich from playing the lottery (his girlfriend buys him his tickets). He refuses to help his ailing father with chores, instead berating his sisters into doing the work for him.

The girlfriend, Maria (Madhurima), must have incredibly low self-esteem to have settled for an irredeemable loser like Johnny. Maria’s father, Peter (Paresh Rawal), hates Johnny’s dad, David (Om Puri), for stealing his girlfriend when they were young and won’t allow Johnny to marry Maria. Her three beefy brothers regularly beat up Johnny to keep him away from Maria.

One day, a buff stranger (Nana Patekar) with a big appetite arrives in town. Johnny convinces his family that the stranger is his long-lost brother Sam. They feed the stranger, who acts as Johnny’s bodyguard, when he’s in the mood. Eventually, Johnny hears a rumor that “Sam” is a murderer and a rapist, and sets about trying to make Sam leave town.

That’s the story. As I said before, I know what happened in the movie, but I don’t know why. Why am I supposed to care about a doofus like Johnny? Where’s the conflict? Sam’s presence doesn’t help Johnny get any closer to marrying Maria, nor does Johnny learn any lessons about the value of hard work from his fake brother.

There’s really nothing to recommend this movie. It’s little more than long passages of overly explanatory dialog punctuated by fistfights. All of the characters are dullards, with actor-writer Neeraj Vora reserving the only mildly amusing character — an opportunistic coffin maker — for himself.

Leave it to Priyadarshan — the director responsible for the worst film I’ve ever seen, Khatta Meetha — not to let the opportunity for some casual sexual violence against women pass him by. Why does Sam have to be an alleged murderer and a rapist? Isn’t being a murderer bad enough?

The only worthwhile element of Kamaal Dhamaal Malamaal is the song “Dariya Ho” (which itself is derivative of “Chaiyya Chaiyya” from Dil Se). I’ve embedded the video of the song below to save you from wasting your money on an otherwise worthless film.

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Movie Review: Joker (2012)

0.5 Stars (out of 4)

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Have you ever listened to a four-year-old girl tell a story? They usually sound something like this: “There once was a princess who flew to the moon, and then they ate cake, but she was really a donkey, and her dad was a mailman. The end.” That four-year-old girl’s story has better continuity than Joker.

Scientist Agastya (Akshay Kumar) is in danger of losing his research funding after his experimental device fails to make contact with extraterrestrials. He’s given one month to complete the project when his girlfriend, Diva (Sonakshi Sinha), informs Agastya that his brother called. His father is sick, and Agastya must return to India at once.

In India, Diva learns why Agastya kept his family a secret: he comes from a village whose population descended from patients who escaped from an insane asylum. Everyone in Paglapur is wacky, including Agastya’s brother, Babban (Shreyas Talpade), who speaks only in gibberish. (The film doesn’t bother to explain how gibberish-speaking Babban was able to communicate the message about Agastya’s sick father over the phone to Diva.)

Eventually the truth comes out: Agastya’s dad isn’t really sick. The local river has been dammed, and the villagers need Agastya’s help to get the dam removed so they can water their crops.

Unfortunately, the village was left off the survey maps created in the 1940s, and none of the regional bureaucrats want to claim jurisdiction over Paglapur. One of the bureaucrats compares the village to the joker in a deck of cards: it exists, but it doesn’t belong to any of the suits (or, in Paglapur’s case, states).

I think the bureaucrat’s explanation is where the movie lost me for good. What a dumb justification for a movie title. It’s not a great analogy in the first place, and the title is meant to prey on moviegoers’ mental shortcuts. “I think Akshay Kumar is funny, and a joker is someone who is funny, so Joker must be another funny Akshay Kumar movie. Take my money, please!”

The surprise for those unfortunate moviegoers is that Kumar plays the straight man in Joker. He spends an uncharacteristically small amount of time running around and screaming, compared to many of his recent roles. Not only is Kumar himself not funny, neither is the rest of the cast.

Babban’s ceaseless gibberish is particularly grating. It’s the most annoying vocal tic I’ve heard since that character in Golmaal Returns who speaks only in vowels.

All the wacky character tics — the guy who thinks he’s a king, the guy dressed like a centurion, the kid who thinks he’s a lamp — are cover for an inane plot that seems like it’s being made up as it goes along. Events happen with no consideration for how to get from Point A to Point B. Director Shirish Kunder just has everyone act nuts to distract the audience from the radical shifts in the plot.

There’s a mystery that runs throughout Joker: where are all the women? There’s not a single female villager in Paglapur — apart from Diva, who has little to do in the film besides look bemused — yet ladies materialize from nowhere whenever a song-and-dance number starts. The absence of estrogen in town may explain why Babban falls for the first woman he sees, a news reporter played by Minissha Lamba, in one of the most underused cameos I’ve ever seen.

So, what are the positives about Joker? Chitrangda Singh looks gorgeous in the item number “Kaafirana.” Agastya’s American nemesis, Simon (Alexx O’Nell), has a magnificent head of curly red hair. Joker‘s runtime is mercifully short, at just about 100 minutes. Those probably aren’t good enough reasons to spend $10 on a movie ticket.

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Movie Review: Housefull 2 (2012)

1.5 Stars (out of 4)

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When is a sequel not a sequel? Housefull 2 is a strange, boring spectacle that has nothing to do with 2010’s Housefull.

Okay, not precisely nothing. Both are wacky comedies about mistaken identities and concealing romantic relationships from one’s parents. Both starred Akshay Kumar and Ritesh Deshmukh. But Kumar and Deshmukh don’t play the same characters as they did in the first movie.

In Housefull, Deshmukh played a card dealer named Bob while Kumar played an unlucky doofus named Aarush. In Housefull 2, Deshmukh plays millionaire’s son Jolly, while Kumar plays a sleaze named Sunny. Sunny then pretends to be Jolly. Confused, yet?

Jacqueline Fernandez and Malaika Arora Khan were both item girls in Housefull and also return as different characters in Housefull 2. Fernandez plays Bobby (not Bob, Deshmukh’s original character), and Khan plays a different item girl.

Here’s where things get weird. Boman Irani plays a character named Batuk Patel in both movies, but it’s not the same Batuk Patel! In Housefull 2, Batuk seeks to marry off his only daughter, Parul (Shazahn Padamsee) to the son of his best friend, JD (Mithun Chakraborty). In the original Housefull, Batuk’s daughter is Hetal (played by Lara Dutta), which is incidentally the name of Batuk’s deceased wife in Housefull 2.

The only character and actor to make the transition from one movie to the next intact is Chunky Pandey’s funny half-Indian, half-Italian schmoozer, Aakhri Pasta.

As if all this half-baked crossover isn’t bad enough, the plot of Housefull 2 is thin and stupid. Two feuding half-brothers, Daboo (Randhir Kapoor) and Chintu (Rishi Kapoor), want to secure the richest husband in England for their respective daughters, Bobby and Henna (Asin Thottumkal). When Chintu insultingly rejects the family of one possible groom, Jai (Shreyas Talpade), the young man vows to get revenge by making sure Henna is dumped at the altar.

Jai is pals with Jolly, England’s most desirable bachelor. They hire their college friend, Max (John Abraham), to pose as Jolly and trick Chintu and Henna. Max accidentally gets engaged to Bobby, so Jai and Jolly call Sunny to trick Chintu. Max and Sunny hate each other, but Daboo and Chintu live in adjoining townhouses, and — OH, NO! — what if they see each other?!

This covers the first forty-five minutes of the plot. Things only get stupider and more annoying until the end of Housefull 2‘s unbearable 155 minute runtime.

In addition to the sloppy story construction, there are continuity errors throughout. Henna has a pet “crocodile” that is really an alligator. Sunny falls asleep in a raft out at sea, and when he wakes up in the raft the next morning after it washes ashore, there’s already sand on his shoes. Henna puts her finger to her ear to indicate that she’s talking on a Bluetooth headset, but she’s not actually wearing one.

All these mistakes — combined with the crap story– point to the fact that Housefull 2 is just a cash grab designed to trick people who enjoyed Housefull (myself included). A cast full of stars can’t save something this inept and nonsensical.

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Movie Review: Mirch (2010)

2.5 Stars (4 Stars)

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Mirch (“Chili Pepper”) stands out from other Bollywood fare because of its subject matter: women’s sexuality. It’s a topic that makes some people skittish, yet Mirch addresses it with a sense of humor. However, the otherwise amusing movie fails to reach its full potential.

The movie is actually a series of four short stories — two set in the ancient past, two set in modern times — held together by a framing device. A rookie screenwriter, Maanav (Arunoday Singh), can’t find anyone willing to buy his original screenplay because the subject matter is deemed too dark and not “sexy” enough. So Maanav comes up with another plan: turn four stories from the ancient Panchatantra into a film.

The four stories all feature sexually liberated women who use their wits to get the better of their jealous, promiscuous spouses. Maanav’s girlfriend, a movie editor named Ruchi (Shahana Goswami), convinces her producer boss Nitin (Sushant Singh) to listen to Maanav’s pitch, even though it appears Nitin has his own designs on Ruchi.

The four stories unfold as Maanav’s narration gives way to cinematic depiction, starting with the two historical vignettes. First is the story of a frisky wife (Raima Sen) whose manual laborer husband becomes suspicious of her eagerness to hop in the sack with him.

Second is a story of a young bride (Konkona Sen Sharma) married to an impotent old king. The bride is desperate to lose her virginity, and she chooses a young courtier (also played by Arunoday Singh, who appears in two other stories as well) to do the deed. However, the courtier will only consent if the bride agrees to do it in front of her husband.

The characters in the “real life” storyline acknowledge a need for stories set in modern times, shifting the time period forward for the final two stories. Sen returns in the third story as another devoted wife whose husband (Shreyas Talpade) tests her fidelity. Sharma likewise returns for the fourth vignette, as a wife who catches her husband (Boman Irani) trying to cheat on her.

All of the stories start with straightforward premises but end with a twist: either the wife turns the tables on her husband, or she was hiding a secret all along. In every case, the stories acknowledge the fact that women have their own desires apart from fulfilling their husbands needs. Sen and Sharma carry the movie, playing their characters as provocative rather than overtly sexual.

While the vignettes have their charms, the framing device is uneven. The interludes between the mini-movies seem to be driving toward a love triangle finale that would force Ruchi to choose between Maanav and Nitin. A new character is introduced at the last minute, seemingly invalidating the implication that Nitin was ever interested in Ruchi.

Mirch also makes the unfortunate mistake of putting a character in blackface. When the husband in the third story dons a disguise in order to seduce his wife, he covers his skin in dark makeup. It’s a crude attempt at humor that’s loaded with racist undertones. A wig and a fake mustache would have been sufficient.

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