Tag Archives: Y-Films

Movie Review: Mere Dad Ki Maruti (2013)

mere-dad-ki-maruti2.5 Stars (out of 4)

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Product placement plays an integral part in how movies are financed these days. Artful product placement in a film showcases the sponsored wares in a way that is obvious but unobtrusive. The product placement in Mere Dad Ki Maruti (“My Dad’s Maruti“) is gratuitous, as though the movie is really one long commercial for an automobile.

The overt commercialism is a shame, because Mere Dad Ki Maruti (MDKM, henceforth) is a pretty good movie. Created by Y-Films to appeal to a young adult audience, writer-director Ashima Chibber’s plot draws inspiration from a number of ’80s comedies, particularly Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. The story is familiar but fresh, and it doesn’t overstay its welcome.

The story centers on Sameer (Saqib Saleem), an immature college student caught up in preparations for his older sister’s wedding. As the movie begins, a brand new Maruti — an Indian subsidiary of Suzuki — has arrived in the family’s driveway. Sameer assumes the car is meant for him, until his short-tempered father, Tej (Ram Kapoor), explains that it is a gift for Sameer’s soon-to-be brother-in-law, Raj (Karan Mehra). Tej says that if Sameer wants a car, he needs to earn it by being responsible, like Raj.

Quickly forgetting his father’s rebuke, Sameer “borrows” the car to impress a girl, Jazzleen (Rhea Chakraborty). Their first date is a success, until Sameer hands the car keys to a man he mistakes for a valet. The car goes missing, and Sameer resorts to increasingly ridiculous means to replace it, aided by his level-headed best friend, Gattu (Prabal Panjabi).

Both the structure and themes of MDKM are familiar. There’s an emphasis on personal responsibility, familial love, and the bonds of friendship. Sameer and Gattu make a great comic team, and Jazzleen is a welcome addition when she’s finally let in on the secret.

In fact, the movie has a lot of really funny moments. The highlight is a dance performance Sameer’s sister, Tanvi (Benazir Shaikh), dedicates to Raj, in order to convey her unspoken feelings for him. However, her feelings border on X-rated, making for an awkward performance in front of the whole family.

For all that MDKM has going for it, it’s impossible to overlook the its crass commercialism. I’m not sure how much Maruti paid Y-Films for titular product placement rights, but it had to be a lot. There are songs and speeches dedicated to Maruti, even a musical montage in which Sameer and his family fold down the sedan’s back seats to make room for all the luggage they need for an overnight trip.

The most reprehensible scene takes place in a Maruti showroom, where Sameer and Gattu inquire about buying a replacement for the car they lost. The model they want is over their meager student budgets, but the salesman explains what great value you get for the money: comfortable seating for seven, plenty of trunk space, and two engine options. If you come in for a test drive, you might even win a car. Wow!

This sales pitch would be tacky in any movie, but the fact that this film is aimed at young people makes it reprehensible. Y-Films should be embarrassed to stoop this low. What’s next, an animated movie for preschoolers, starring Kool-Aid Man?

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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: Luv Ka The End (2011)

1 Star (out of 4)

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Luv Ka The End (“The End of Love”) is the first movie released by Y-Films, a subsidiary of the venerable Yash Raj Films aimed at producing youth-oriented movies. In its style and content, Luv Ka The End appeals to a generation of kids more interested in films from Hollywood than from Bollywood. But the movie has such a dismissive view of sexual violence toward women that it can’t be recommended.

The teen sex comedy opens on the final day of junior college for Rhea (Shraddha Kapoor) and her best friends, Jugs (Pushtiie Shakti) and Sonia (Sreejita De). Rhea intends to consummate her relationship with her boyfriend, Luv (Taaha Shah), that night, which happens to be the eve of her eighteenth birthday.

By chance, Rhea and her friends discover that Luv is the leading scorer in an online points-for-sex game. Taking Rhea’s virginity and posting video proof would cement Luv’s victory. The girls set about taking revenge on Luv before the night’s big end-of-the-school-year bash.

The predictable revenge story — where does one buy itching powder anyway? — takes up the bulk of the film and drags on longer than necessary. It’s not bad, just not as cool as the whimsically-named director Bumpy thinks it is.

Things quickly fall apart after the girls finish their mischief-making, and the tone of the film changes from light-hearted to sinister. Fair warning, spoilers ahead.

At the party, Rhea lures Luv into a bedroom rigged with video cameras, intent on humiliating him as the partygoers downstairs watch on monitors. Luv turns the tables on Rhea and ties her to the bed, threatening to broadcast her rape over the Internet.

The revolting scenario is interrupted so that a few of the side characters can make jokes. It’s appalling that the screenplay trivializes sexual violence against women by trying to lighten the mood with humor. Meanwhile, no one at the party besides Jugs and Sonia try to rescue Rhea, as everyone watches the horrifying scene on the monitors. Not even the local news crews that are on-hand to cover the party make an effort to prevent the potential rape that is occurring just upstairs from them.

Compounding the insult to women everywhere is that, within minutes of escaping Luv (to the tone-deaf cheers of the unhelpful partygoers and news crews), Rhea dances at a concert by her favorite singer. When that singer — played in a cameo by Ali Zafar — asks Rhea on a date, she says yes. That’s simply not the way someone who just survived an attempted sexual assault would react.

It’s a disappointing end to what is, for the most part, a pleasant enough film. It distracts attention from the talented cast of young actors, all of whom do a nice job with their narrow characters, and who outshine the adults in the cast.

*Luv Ka The End is currently available on Netflix streaming.

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