Tag Archives: Urvashi Rautela

Movie Review: Sanam Re (2016)

sanamre1 Star (out of 4)

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Screenwriter Sanjeev Dutta is stuck in a time warp. His previous film, Heropanti, was an out of touch throwback when it released in 2014. His latest movie, Sanam Re, is similarly dated in its notions of characterization and storytelling.

Director Divya Khosla Kumar compounds the problems by relying on goofball sound effects to set the tone. Such effects may have been the norm in Hindi films ten years ago, but they’ve fallen out of favor in all but the broadest comedies. It’s as though Khosla Kumar and Dutta are determined not to evolve.

Pulkit Samrat of Fukrey fame plays Akash, an office lackey desperate for a promotion that will send him to America. He has a blowhard boss (played by Manoj Joshi), a wacky landlord, and a sassy maid — required characters if you want to make a movie that the audience has seen a thousand times before.

A family emergency requires Akash to return home to his quaint mountain town, a snow-covered place frozen in time following the exodus of all the young people to the city for better opportunities. There’s a brief moment where it appears that the story will explore the aging of small towns in India, but that spark is quickly snuffed.

Instead, we get flashbacks to Akash’s childhood, which he spent dressed as Oliver Twist even though it was the 1990s. Akash’s grandpa (played by Rishi Kapoor) hoped his bratty grandson would one day take over his photo studio. Little Akash only dreamed of marrying his true love, Shruti (played as an adult by Yami Gautam).

Teenage Akash abruptly leaves town to attend college in the city, without so much as a goodbye to Shruti. The plot offers no explanation for his decision. It only happens as a pretext to separate the sweethearts.

Sanam Re routinely takes such things for granted, failing to assign the characters motivations for their actions. The “why” behind an action doesn’t matter, so long as the plot is advanced.

The film also takes for granted that the audience will sympathize with Akash simply because he is the protagonist, overlooking the fact that Akash is a selfish jerk. He abandons his family and friends more than once, always putting his own feelings first. As he says: “Destiny wants it. Because I want it.”

Dutta’s story is built with Akash at the center of the universe, and Shruti only exists to further Akash’s development. The reason she rebuffs his romantic overtures when they reunite as adults is cliched and predictable.

Yet there’s a reason for Shruti to exist, which is more than can be said for the character Akanksha (Urvashi Rautela). Her backstory ham-fistedly positions her as the third member of a  grade school love triangle, which doesn’t ultimately matter to the plot. Akanksha only reappears in the adult portion of the storyline so that Akash can seduce her, thus allowing director Khosla Kumar to objectify Rautela in the grossest way possible.

In keeping with her outdated styling, Khosla Kumar insists that female performers wear skimpy outfits no matter how obviously cold the climate is. In one scene, you can see Gautam’s breath, even though she’s wearing only shorts and a belly shirt.

Many of the film’s jokes are homophobic, racist, or made at the expense of overweight people. Khosla Kumar and Dutta refuse to acknowledge that they are making movies in the 21st century.

Samrat’s delivery during romantic scenes is too slimy to qualify him as a swoon-worthy leading man, no matter how chiseled his abs may be. When Gautam isn’t absurdly chipper, she’s forgettable. Just like Sanam Re.

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Movie Review: Singh Saab the Great (2013)

Singh_Sahab_the_Great_Theatrical_poster1.5 Stars (out of 4)

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Singh Saab the Great is boring and predictable. Yet I find myself unable to hate it, because it has so much in common with one of my favorite movie experiences of all time: Gunda. Granted, Gunda is a favorite because its sheer ineptitude transforms an earnest-but-terrible movie into a sublime comedy. So the comparison isn’t exactly a compliment for Singh Saab the Great (SSTG, henceforth).

Gunda and SSTG are both revenge movies. SSTG tries to twist the genre in the second half of the film by having the hero sublimate his desire for personal revenge in order to enact structural reform of a corrupt government. But the movie is unable to deny its true nature, and the climax is a fistfight between the hero and the bad guy.

SSTG‘s hero is Sunny (Sunny Deol), a by-the-books government tax collector. He gets into trouble when he shutters the factories of a local don, Bhoodev (Prakash Raj). In retaliation, the don threatens Sunny’s family, including his sister, Guddi, and his much-younger wife, Minnie (Urvashi Rautela).

The age difference between the lead couple — Deol is 57, Rautela is 19 — is so vast that writer Shaktimaan Talwar is forced to address it in the dialog. Sunny bemoans having failed to heed his uncle’s warning against marrying such a young bride. This only serves to draw more attention to the creepy age difference.

As in Gunda, the women in the movie function as sex objects, vulnerable points at which to attack Sunny, or both. Like Ganga — the love interest in Gunda — Minnie’s only duties are to berate Sunny and heave her gigantic bosom during clunky dance numbers in which Deol stomps around like a stiff.

Just like Gunda‘s vastly more entertaining villain, Bulla (“Bulla!”), Bhoodev spends most of his time in his mansion talking about things he’s going to do rather than just doing them. The movie’s single best moment is a pointless, abrupt cut to an underwater shot of Bhoodev floating in his pool, staring directly into the camera. Bhoodev then emerges from the pool in just his swim trunks, for anyone longing for a topless shot of Prakash Raj.

About half of SSTG‘s 150-minute runtime is footage presented in slow-motion: everything from Sunny and Bhoodev striding determinedly, to Guddi and her son falling from a scaffolding, to Minnie tossing her hair over her shoulder a million times. On the flip side, every shot of a vehicle in motion is sped up. Cars driving = boring. Hair tossing = something to be savored.

All of the action sequences are ridiculous and inadvertently funny. Like many so-bad-they’re-good movies, SSTG is made to be shared. Watching this with my brother, Dan, certainly ramped up the hilarity. But even solo, I would’ve laughed out loud at shots of Sunny Deol screaming while leaping ten feet straight up out of a canal.

Watching SSTG with my brother also taught me a little something about sibling relationships. I realize now that, when I got married, I was supposed to have wailed over being parted from my beloved brother. (This parting merits a whole song in Gunda. In SSTG, Guddi just cries).

I also learned that I can’t trust that my brother really cares about me until he’s impaled a couple of guys with bamboo poles and punched a guy into the grill of a truck on my behalf. Get on that, Dan.

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