Tag Archives: Tara D’Souza

Movie Review: Mujhse Fraaandship Karoge (2011)

2 Stars (out of 4)

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Mujhse Fraaandship Karoge (MFK, henceforth) is the sophomore effort from Y-Films, the youth-oriented production arm of Yash Raj Films. The Facebook-themed update of Cyrano de Bergerac is more polished than Y-Films’ first effort, the clunky and insensitive Luv Ka The End. But there’s nothing in MFK to inspire enthusiasm for the production house’s future efforts.

MFK starts off on the wrong foot in the way it introduces its lead character, Vishal (Saqib Saleem), the beloved class clown at his college. Vishal and his obnoxious best friend, Hacky (Prabal Panjabi), trick an obese fellow student nicknamed Machoman (Chitrak Bandyopadhyay) into performing a striptease in front of his webcam, and they post the video online.

Shortly thereafter, Vishal publicly ridicules the grumpy leader of the photography club — tomboy Preity (Saba Azaad) — at a planning meeting for the school’s 25th anniversary festivities. Vishal targets Preity for being a “man hater” and possible lesbian, though it’s really because she’s the only student who doesn’t find his cruel jokes hilarious.

After establishing Vishal as a bully, the film sets up its premise. Vishal is too shy to speak to lovely fashion student Malvika (Tara D’Souza), so he sends her a Facebook friend request via the account of his other BFF, campus rock star Rahul (Nishant Dahiya). Malvika’s cousin happens to be Preity, who happens to have a crush on Rahul. Preity accepts the friend request via Malvika’s account.

Preity and Vishal form a friendship chatting online while pretending to be Malvika and Rahul, respectively. In the real world, Vishal repeatedly undermines Preity while they collaborate on an anniversary celebration project about love on campus. Things get complicated when pretend “Rahul” suggests a face-to-face meeting, and “Malvika” accepts.

The plot unfolds predictably but pleasantly enough, especially as Vishal stops being a jerk. Friendship blooms between the classmates, and it becomes apparent that they are better suited for one another than they are for their dream dates.

My favorite relationship in the movie is between Preity and Malvika. The characters are roommates as well as cousins, and Azaad and D’Souza have a delightful rapport. Their playful banter lightens the mood more than any of Vishal’s jokes.

There are several scenes that take place at parties or dance clubs that feel overly-long, since it’s way more entertaining to actually be at a party than it is to watch one from a distance. But the movie as a whole is a harmless way to pass the time.

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Movie Review: Mere Brother Ki Dulhan (2011)

3.5 Stars (out of 4)

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Katrina Kaif and Imran Khan have been established Bollywood stars for years, but this has been something of a breakout summer for both of them. Kaif scored big at the box office with Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, and Khan showed serious comedy chops in Delhi Belly.

Headlining Mere Brother Ki Dulhan (“My Brother’s Bride”), Kaif and Khan seem their most at ease in front of the camera. Not only do they share a charming chemistry, but they give two of their strongest individual performances to date.

Khan anchors Mere Brother Ki Dulhan (MBKD, henceforth) as Kush, an aspiring director in India who gets an odd request from his brother in London, Luv (Ali Zafar). Having broken up with his longtime girlfriend, Piali (Tara D’Souza), Luv decides to entrust his romantic future to Kush. Luv asks his younger brother to find a nice Indian girl for him to marry.

Kush enlists his parents and friends to scour Dehradun for a bride for Luv. The ideal candidate turns out to be a reformed party girl named Dimple (Kaif), whom Kush met years earlier during her wilder days. She describes her qualifications thusly: “I am correctly beautiful and appropriately sexy.” She gets the gig.

Predictably, Kush and Dimple fall for each other as they make wedding preparations. Only after Luv arrives do they acknowledge the problem: she’s about to marry the wrong brother.

The fact that MBKD feels a bit like something we’ve seen before is actually its strength. Debutant filmmaker Ali Abbas Zafar (who’s not the Ali Zafar who plays Luv) clearly set out to make a feel-good romantic comedy, and he achieved his goal.

To play up the familiarity, the opening dance number pays homage to some famous Bollywood routines of the recent past. There are plenty of dance numbers, and all of them are entertaining and well-integrated into the plot.

A few slightly unexpected tweaks to the formula are a nice surprise. While Kush is the film’s main character, Dimple does more to drive the story forward. She’s not a passive damsel in distress, but rather an impatient problem solver whose impulsiveness gets her into trouble.

In another unexpected twist, MBKD doesn’t have a villain. I kept waiting for Luv to reveal himself to be an oaf, or for Piala to turn into a “crazy ex-girlfriend,” but all of the characters are nice people. The situation — not the characters — provides the conflict. It’s tricky to pull off, but Abbas Zafar handles it well.

The advantage of this approach is that the story doesn’t get bogged down in maudlin montages of Kush and Dimple staring forlornly into the rain as a singer laments the cruelty of fate. Rather, the lovebirds recognize a problem and set about fixing it.

The lone complaint I have about the movie is that several jokes depend on cultural references that American audiences likely don’t share. There are repeated references to Complan, which I learned after the movie is a British nutritional supplement. (See Ricky’s comment below for a more complete explanation of the Complan references.) This isn’t a reason to avoid the film, but American moviegoers should know in advance that they won’t get all the jokes.

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