Tag Archives: Suniel Shetty

Movie Review: A Gentleman (2017)

3.5 Stars (out of 4)

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A Gentleman delivers on its promise to be a funny, sexy action entertainer.

Strait-laced Gaurav (Sidharth Malhotra) wants nothing more from life than a nice house, a wife, kids, and a reliable car. While the wife and kids are still a work in progress, Gaurav is the proud new owner of the safest minivan on the market and a McMansion in the Miami suburbs. The dining room furnishings are from Pottery Barn and the kitchen Crate & Barrel, he proudly tells his guests.

Gaurav’s top candidate to fill the “wife” part of his dream is his peppy colleague, Kavya (Jacqueline Fernandez). She genuinely likes Gaurav, but he’s too boring for her taste. She wants a husband who suits her free-spending, fast-driving lifestyle.

While Gaurav gets advice from his married co-worker, Dikshit (Hussain Dalal), on how to appeal to Kavya’s wild side, the action shifts to Bangkok. A group of secret agents infiltrate the Chinese embassy, led by Rishi (also Malhotra), a dashing James Bond-type who’s a dead-ringer for Gaurav. This is the dynamic man Kavya has been dreaming of.

Following a botched safe-cracking attempt and subsequent motorcycle chase, Rishi and his crew — which includes his trigger-happy accomplice Yakub (Darshan Kumar) — return to headquarters to meet with their leader: The Colonel (Suniel Shetty). Rishi is tired of life as a extrajudicial assassin for Unit X, desiring instead a quiet family life in a home he can call his own — exactly the life that Gaurav has.

When his appeals to patriotism and personal loyalty don’t work, The Colonel offers to let Rishi go after one last job. Rishi and crew just need to intercept a package in Mumbai. Meanwhile, in Miami, Gaurav is chosen to deliver sensitive information in person to a client located — where else? — Mumbai!

Unlike previous films by the directing duo Raj & D.K. and their co-writer Sita Menon, A Gentleman is well-paced, allowing enough time to linger on details without ever feeling slow. The movie also establishes a sense of place, familiarizing the audience with the layout of Gaurav’s neighborhood and paying off that familiarity later on.

There are some great jokes in A Gentleman aimed at the US. Asked if she knows how to shoot, an exasperated Kavya says, “It’s America,” before cocking her gun like a pro. A laundromat owner named Jignesh (Amit Mistry) is tasked with finding someone, so he activates his spy network: the Desi Store Mafia Group, made up of the owners of Indian grocery stores and restaurants across Miami. My high school friend Ramya once lamented that there were no secrets within the local desi community, and attributing that to an organized business syndicate is pretty funny.

Malhotra and Fernandez suit this material, and not just because they are both gorgeous and fit for skimpy Miami attire. They bring energy to action scenes, heat to romantic sequences, and they share a nice rapport during lighter, humorous moments as well. It’s always a treat to watch Fernandez dance, and thankfully she gets a good soundtrack to dance to, including the Sachin-Jigar bop “Bandook Meri Laila.”

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Movie Review: Koyelaanchal (2014)

Koyelaanchal0.5 Stars (out of 4)

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The only info one needs when deciding whether to watch Koyelaanchal is that director Ashu Trikha includes multiple flashbacks from the perspective of an infant. Let me repeat: A baby has flashbacks in a violent drama about the coal mafia.

The fact that Koyelaanchal is about the coal mafia is the only fact anyone can be sure of regarding the movie. It’s so disorganized that it’s never established which character is the film’s protagonist. It could be the coal don, Saryu Bhan Singh (Vinod Khanna). It could be the don’s hired killer, Karua (Vipinno). It could be Nisheeth (Suniel Shetty), the government bureaucrat sent to clean up the town. It could be the baby.

Koyelaanchal begins with a glimpse into life in the title town. A bunch of people die in a bunch of separate incidents, though it’s not clear why. All that’s clear is that the police don’t care and that Saryu Bhan is the town bigwig.

Nisheeth arrives from Delhi, ready to lay down the law. He’s disabused of that notion when Karua slits a guy’s throat in front of him, and the police chief (Deepraj Rana) says the victim probably had it coming.

On Saryu Bhan’s orders, Karua attempts to scare Nisheeth by shooting at him and stealing his car. Uh oh: Nisheeth’s baby is in the back seat! Queue the interval break.

After spending the first half establishing that Karua is Saryu Bhan’s cold-blooded, mindless lapdog — he washes Saryu Bhan’s feet and drinks the wash water, for Pete’s sake — the bulk of the second half of the movie is spent on an unbelievable comedy/character redemption arc as Karua takes care of the baby.

Asking the audience to suddenly find it charming as Karua — a guy who killed a labor protestor on stage at a rally using a dancer’s scarf — gets grossed out by a baby peeing is absurd. But it’s not as absurd as the baby’s flashbacks.

The baby watches as the admittedly fit Karua does push ups on the floor of their hideout shack. The camera fades to black-and-white as the baby fondly remembers being carried by Nisheeth on his shoulders. Cut back to the present, where the wistful baby crawls over to Karua and climbs on his back. Karua resumes his push ups, giving the baby the ride he so longed for.

If that’s not enough to make you puke, Koyelaanchal is full of enough blood, gore, vomit, and urine to make you do so.

Nisheeth yells a lot, but he does next to nothing to save his kidnapped child. Saryu Bhan might be a compelling character if Trikha had allotted time for character development, instead of wasting time by having random Maoists blow stuff up periodically.

There’s nothing in it to make me recommend Koyelaanchal. The few laughs it generates are completely unintentional. (Drinking game idea: take a shot every time Karua points a gun at the baby.) Even the dramatic elements aren’t interesting enough to overcome the movie’s sluggish pace and underdeveloped characters.

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Movie Review: Jai Ho (2014)

JaiHo0.5 Stars (out of 4)

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Jai Ho is as lazy and lacking in self-awareness as a movie can be. It ignores its own shallow grasp of morality to promote the message of every recent Salman Khan movie: the answer to government corruption is a single, violent man.

Just how shallow is the take on morality in Jai Ho, a remake of a Telugu movie (Stalin) based on a Hollywood movie (Pay It Forward)? The notion of “paying it forward” — you help three people, then they each help three more people, and so on — is developed by a middle schooler in the Hollywood version, and by a man in his late forties in Jai Ho.

Of course it’s good to do nice things for other people. But the characters in Jai Ho talk about it so damned much, it’s as though the filmmakers think they invented the idea. “Generosity and helpfulness can benefit individuals and society? Who knew? Write forty minutes of dialogue to belabor the point!”

The title character, Jai (Salman Khan), who’s apparently a professional doer-of-favors, following his expulsion from the army, tries to popularize the notion of “paying it forward.” Everything is fine until his mom tells him that some people may not wish to participate, and that he shouldn’t be disappointed by that.

Jai’s realization that his idea may not be universally embraced causes him to lose his mind. In a blind rage, he attacks a guy harassing a street urchin. The guy just happens to be connected to a corrupt politician who winds up trying to murder Jai’s family. The situation is resolved by Jai fighting dozens of guys single-handedly and Suniel Shetty plowing through traffic in a tank.

Let’s get this straight: Jai’s responds to learning that there are mean people in the world by going on a violent rampage, endangering his family and friends and any unfortunate motorists who get in the way of Suniel Shetty’s tank. Way to make the world a better place, Jai!

What’s even more depressing is that violence really is Jai’s only recourse to stop the corrupt bureaucrat, played by Danny Denzongpa. The only evidence of systemic political change as a result of Jai’s gory heroics is that another politician — played by Mohnish Bahl — decides to look the other way.

The movie relies on emotional pandering in place of solid storytelling. Producer-director Sohail Khan trots out handicapped kids anytime he wants to bring the audience to tears and soldiers when he wants to stoke the fires of patriotism. Lest the audience fail to grasp the cinematic shorthand, there are musical cues and sound effects to let them know what emotions they are supposed to feel.

As with most of Salman Khan’s recent roles, his character’s only flaw at the beginning of the movie is that he doesn’t yet have a girlfriend. Daisy Shah is shoehorned into the story to fill the love interest role, even though she has nothing to do with the main plot. She’s never imperiled because of her relationship with Jai, she doesn’t partake in Jai’s do-gooder scheme, and she disappears during the climax.

There is exactly one good thing about Jai Ho, and that is Naman Jain as Jai’s young nephew, Kabir. He’s legitimately funny, and he’s by far the best actor in the bunch. Jai Ho should’ve made Kabir the main character, borrowing more from Pay It Forward and less from Stalin. That might’ve been a good movie.

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Movie Review: Thank You (2011)

1.5 Stars (out of 4)

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The more I think about Thank You, the more confused I become. The first two-thirds of the comedy are enjoyable enough, but a serious and preachy third act unravels the entire story that precedes it.

Thank You centers on the womanizing exploits of Raj (Bobby Deol), Vikram (Irrfan Khan) and Yogi (Suniel Shetty). Yogi’s already been caught cheating by his wife, Maya (Celina Jaitley). Suspicious of the other louts’ extramarital activities, Maya introduces Vikram’s wife, Shivani (Rimi Sen), and Raj’s wife, Sanjana (Sonam Kapoor), to her “best friend”: a private eye named Kishan (Akshay Kumar).

Kishan develops a crush on cute, trusting Sanjana and aims to expose her husband for the cheater he is. Raj and his buddies aren’t able to continue their deception for long, and all their secrets are revealed. Maya and Shivani are prepared to move on with their lives, but Sanjana isn’t. She wants Raj back.

Here’s where things get confusing, in retrospect. Kishan agrees to help Sanjana reunite with Raj. His plan is to make Raj jealous by pretending to be Sanjana’s new boyfriend. Presumably, Kishan’s real intention is to show Sanjana how much better he is than Raj and win her for himself.

Without giving anything away, the third act seems to indicate that a potential romance between Kishan and Sanjana was never really an option (or something that either of them even desired). The tension in the second act, at the time, appears to be whether Sanjana will pick Raj or Kishan. Without that tension, the whole second act is, in retrospect, just a big waste of time.

Perhaps sensing the shoddy construction of his parable, writer-director Anees Bazmee has Kishan explain the moral of the story with a condescending speech in the final scene. But the message as delivered by Kishan runs counter to the one that the movie had conveyed to that point. I liked the story that Bazmee actually told better than the one he apparently thought he was telling.

The real shame of Thank You‘s narrative collapse is that most of the movie is pretty funny. The set pieces are good, and the jokes translate well cross-culturally.

Particularly deserving of praise are Shetty and Sen for their performances as Yogi and Shivani, respectively. Yogi, having been previously outed as a cheater, revels in watching his two buddies get caught for the same crime. Shivani is the most put-upon wife and therefore the most eager to take revenge on her husband. Shetty and Sen take full advantage of their opportunities to ham it up.

The weakest member of the cast is Kapoor. Still a relatively new actress, everything about her performance — from her physical presence to her voice — lacks gravity. She’s pretty and stylish, but that’s not enough to make her a lead that an audience cares about.

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Movie Review: No Problem (2010)

1 Star (out of 4)

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If you’re considering whether to shell out the cash to see No Problem, ask yourself if a movie whose resolution hinges upon a farting gorilla appeals to you. If so, then you may enjoy No Problem.

No Problem is the latest in a long line of schizophrenic Hindi slapstick comedies that wrongly assume that screaming and frantic action are hilarious. There is barely a narrative holding the story together between all of the running around. Rather, there are a number of loosely interconnected subplots driving the action, involving the following:

  • Yash (Sanjay Dutt) and Raj (Akshaye Khanna), two petty thieves trying to change their ways when they rob a small-town bank out of habit. They run from…
  • Zandulal (Paresh Rawal), the bank manager accused of colluding with Yash and Raj in the theft. He follows them to Durban, South Africa, looking for help from…
  • “Supercop” Arjun Singh (Anil Kapoor), who’s also after a gang of diamond thieves led by…
  • Marcos (Suniel Shetty), who’s fencing the diamonds through a government minister. Arjun can’t catch Marcos while he’s fending off attacks from his wife…
  • Kajal (Sushmita Sen), who has daily blackout episodes in which she tries to murder Arjun. Kajal’s sister…
  • Sanjana (Kangana Ranaut) has caught the eye of Raj, who proposes to her without realizing that her father is police commissioner.

There’s so much going on — and transitions between scenes and subplots are so clunky — that it’s impossible to give the characters adequate time to develop or endear themselves to the audience. I’m not even sure who the director expects us to sympathize with or relate to.

I love slapstick comedies. The goofy Tom Hanks movie The Money Pit is in my DVD player, and The Naked Gun remains one of my all-time favorite films. In fact, an early scene in which Arjun tries to arrest Marcos bears a suspicious resemblance to this scene from The Naked Gun:

But No Problem only goes for cheap laughs that rely on characters running in fast motion and illogically failing to recognize one another. If the dialog is funny in Hindi, the humor didn’t translate into English. The subtitled dialog is boring and excessive.

No Problem is the rare case of a movie that could’ve benefitted from more dance numbers to distract from the dull plot. Instead, the few dance numbers that exist are marred by a surfeit of distracting Anglo backup dancers, most of whom resembled chubby transvestites.

At its worst, No Problem crosses the boundaries of good taste. A male character in drag escapes the romantic advances of another man by declaring that he has AIDS. Given how the disease is ravaging sub-Saharan Africa, it is a tacky and thoughtless attempt at humor.

I enjoyed one of director Anees Bazmee’s previous films, the goofball comedy Welcome. That movie succeeded primarily because of its supporting characters, played by Nana Patekar and Anil Kapoor.

No Problem squanders its supporting cast. Suniel Shetty looks like he barely wants to be in the film. Sushmita Sen’s homicidal wife comes the closest to generating laughs, but even her character isn’t taken far enough.

The killer spouse subplot has a strange element to it. Arjun and Kajal have a young daughter whose role is to scream and cry while her mother tries to murder her father in front of her. What’s funny about watching a child suffer? The character isn’t essential to the plot (no, the clichéd instance when she floats away holding too many balloons doesn’t count), so there’s no reason for her to be in the movie.

It’s just another example of how No Problem misses the mark in an attempt to make a safe, unimaginative comedy.

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Movie Review: Tum Milo Toh Sahi (2010)

1 Star (out of 4)

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There’s a nice idea at the core of writer-director Kabir Sadanand’s Tum Milo Toh Sahi (“Let’s Meet First,” according to the subtitled translation of the title song’s lyrics). Sadanand wrote a story of six incomplete individuals who find happiness when they work together toward a goal. Unfortunately, he neglected to make any of the characters likable.

The action in Tum Milo Toh Sahi takes place primarily in the Lucky Cafe, a hangout for college students. The cafe is owned by Delshad (Dimple Kapadia), a grumpy grandmother who scolds her customers and ends every caustic command to her employees with, “Idiot.”

One of the few people Delshad is kind to is Anita (Vidya Malvade), the miserable wife of a workaholic. When her husband, Amit (Suniel Shetty), complains that Anita is as unhappy in their gorgeous new house as she was in their dumpy one-room apartment, we believe him.

Amit works for Blue Bell, a national chain of Starbucks-like coffee houses bent on eradicating the competition. When the company announces a plan to acquire the Lucky Cafe, Amit takes charge of the project in the hopes of paying off Delshad with a minimum of fuss.

Delshad refuses to sell, so Blue Bell wages a campaign of corporate terror to force her out of business. Amit participates willingly, at the expense of his marriage.

Delshad gets some unexpected assistance from Subramaniam (Nana Patekar), an equally grumpy retired law clerk; Shalini (Anjana Sukhani), a snobby college girl; and Bikramjeet (Rehan Khan), a naive hick. Shalini and Bikramjeet are superfluous characters, but Delshad’s relationship with Subramaniam makes some sense. Both of them missed out on love  in their youth because they were focused on their careers and family obligations.

Unfortunately, all of the characters exhibit extreme forms of the single traits they are supposed to exemplify. The defining characteristic of Delshad, Amit, Subramaniam and Shalini is that they are all mean. It’s not fun to watch, and it blurs the contrast between the evil corporation and the regular people being trampled on. The regular people need to be virtuous in the face of powerful opposition, not jerks who kind of have it coming.

Tum Milo Toh Sahi has a number of other problems. The music is cheesy adult contemporary pop, and there’s too much of it. Every mention of Blue Bell is accompanied an annoying vocal theme, and there are several bland musical montages.

The English subtitles are poorly translated. More accurately, they’re poorly transcribed from English to English. Amit, speaking in English, mentions that he’d like a croissant (said with a mild French inflection). Croissant is transcribed as the non-word “crosone” — another reminder that Tum Milo Toh Sahi needed a lot more work and attention to detail before it went to print.

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