Tag Archives: Sonal Chauhan

Movie Review: 3G (2013)

3G0 Stars (out of 4)

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There’s been much discussion recently about the role the Hindi film industry plays in perpetuating negative stereotypes of women and encouraging male violence against women. Those who hold Bollywood responsible need look no further than 3G for supporting evidence. The movie is a masterpiece of misogyny and an inept horror movie to boot.

The film starts with a laughable premise. Onscreen text informs us: “4.3 billion mobile users in the world. Every minute 60 thousand calls of unknown sources of origin received worldwide… People believe these calls are spirits trying to connect to our world.” No one believes that! Those calls from “Unknown Number” aren’t from ghosts. They’re from telemarketers.

The text disappears to make way for scenes of a happy couple at a secluded lake. Then the guy stabs the woman in the eye with a lit road flare. Roll opening credits!

We don’t see the guy again until later, as the story shifts to a couple vacationing in Fiji. Sam (Neil Nitin Mukesh) makes an absurd entrance via speedboat, only to have his girlfriend, Sheena (Sonal Chauhan), accidentally knock his cell phone into the ocean. The used 3G phone he buys as a replacement is haunted.

Sheena is apparently terrible at reading people, and she laughs at the increasingly haggard-looking Sam when he confesses that he gets calls in the middle of the night from a strange woman. At first, the woman confesses her love. Then a video shows her being murdered. Then Sam starts seeing her in person, culminating in Sheena turning into the dead lady while Sam makes out with her.

This would seem to be the classic horror plot device of a ghost contacting the living to obtain posthumous justice. Typically, Sam could rid himself of the specter by finding the woman’s body and the identity of her killer. Instead, Sam becomes periodically possessed by the spirit of the man who killed the woman, during which times he tries to kill Sheena. Or himself.

Just who exactly is haunting this phone?

The identity of the woman, Chaima (Mrinalini Sharma), and her killer, Mong (Asheesh Kapoor), are revealed late in the film. I’m not spoiling anything as there are no clues to their identities earlier in the story. They are brand new characters introduced at the last minute with no connection to other side characters, despite some nonsensical retroactive continuity.

There’s no way to explain the nature of the haunting, because the filmmakers threw a bunch of horror clichés at the wall to see what would stick. The phone is haunted because of an ancient Greek cult! Fijian witchcraft! Science!

The scientific explanations are hilarious. Apparently, Mong was a programmer trying to find a way to contact the dead by getting cell phone signals to interact with the “God particle,” or Higgs boson. Here’s the thing: THE GOD PARTICLE IS NOT GOD! It is not supernatural!

Catholic symbolism is tossed about as well, though the rosary Sam wears has no effect on him when he’s possessed, nor does the priest they consult offer any useful information.

3G could be forgiven were it just an inexpertly made horror movie, but the way it depicts women is reprehensible. According to 3G, women are objects of male lust who deserve punishment (by men) for having been objectified (by men).

Take the way that directors Sheershak Anand and Shantanu Ray Chhibber portray their lead actors. There’s one shot of Mukesh emerging from the pool shirtless, but dozens of voyeuristic shots of Chauhan. Her character is introduced emerging from the ocean in slow motion wearing a bikini. She writhes around in the sand, on a bed, and on a kitchen island, arching her back and contorting her face in simulated orgasm. The camera pans across her legs, lingering on her breasts and her buttocks.

The saddest part of the film comes when, via flashback, Chaima admits to being a porn star, the “crime” for which Mong ultimately kills her. She pleads with him for mercy, saying, “You have no idea what I escaped from.” So, Chaima left a situation so bad that working in porn is a step up, yet Mong has no sympathy for her.

The film ends with another bit of text almost as dumb as that which started the film: “13000 adult clips are downloaded every minute on mobile networks worldwide… Resulting in 27% of personal relationships breaking up.”

I’m skeptical of the stats supplied by Shantanu & Sheershak, let alone the conclusions drawn from them. Their solution to the scourge of porn is typical victim-blaming. According to them, the problem isn’t due to the millions of men who download the clips, it’s caused by the women who make the movies. Kill all the porn stars, and there will be no porn!

This is exactly the kind of sexist bullshit that Bollywood is rightly criticized for. Crimes against women aren’t committed because of movies (just like video games don’t cause mass shootings), but there are thousands of men who will watch 3G and take it as confirmation of their twisted opinions: “Women are greedy, lying sluts who will do anything for money.” This kind of misogyny is toxic and needs to stop.

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Movie Review: Bbuddah…Hoga Terra Baap (2011)

2 Stars (out of 4)

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Amitabh Bachchan built his reputation as an action star in the ’70s, the types of characters he played earning him the nickname the “Angry Young Man.” Now in his late-sixties, Bbuddah…Hoga Terra Baap presents Bachchan as the angry old man.

Bachchan plays Vijju, an assassin hired by the mafia to murder Karan (Sonu Sood), a police chief determined to rid Mumbai of organized crime. In between two failed attempts on Karan’s life, Vijju befriends a young woman named Amrita (Charmy Kaur), best friend of Karan’s beloved, Tanya (Sonal Chauhan). Vijju humiliates Karan publicly for his mistreatment of Tanya. This can’t be the behavior of a seasoned assassin, can it?

From the second Vijju appears onscreen, it’s clear that this is Bachchan’s movie. He saunters through a busy airport, clad in a white suit with a colorful scarf wrapped around his neck. Vijju threatens a customs agent who draws attention to his age in front of a group of pretty girls. The agent gets off more lightly than anyone else in the movie who dares call Vijju buddah (“old man”).

The filmmakers go so far as to include a thank you note to Bachchan at the end of the film, as if appearing was a favor on Bachchan’s part, and not just another acting job.

Such narrow focus leaves the characters surrounding Bachchan woefully underdeveloped, and none of them makes even a hint of emotional progress as the story develops. Amrita is annoying, and Tanya is pouty and childish. Chauhan’s beauty aside, there’s nothing appealing about Tanya as a romantic lead.

Karan is problematic in that he’s supposed to be one of the good guys, and yet he’s as brutal as the gangsters he wants to drive from the city. He tortures prisoners, stalks Tanya and doesn’t hesitate to put innocent citizens in harm’s way for the sake of a shootout.

There’s an irritating sideplot involving Amrita’s mother, Kamini (Raveena Tandon), who was once in love with Vijju. It’s introduced abruptly, adds nothing to the story and is dropped without resolution.

Bachchan himself is as reliable as ever. He’s exciting to watch during the action scenes, and clever and charming the rest of the time. It’s too bad the rest of the film doesn’t live up to his compelling performance. Rather than creating a film specifically to pay tribute to Bachchan, director Puri Jagannadh would’ve been better off writing a solid movie, casting the superstar and letting him elevate it the way he so often does.

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