Hero

Remaking old classics is the latest trend to hit Bollywood. This week will see the release of HERO (directed by Nikhil Advani), which is a remake of the Subhash Ghai's 1983 cult film by the same name. Will Nikhil Advani's HERO match the expectations that have been set by Subhash Ghai's HERO or will it turn out to be a villain at the box-office, let's analyze.

HERO starts off with a normal day in Mumbai, which is followed by the 'heroic' entry of Sooraj (Sooraj Pancholi) who is an extremely 'large hearted' 'gunda' who cannot see pains and sufferings. So, when the villainous Changezi (Chetan Hansraj) and his henchmen torture the helpless, Sooraj stages a heroic entry and beats the henchmen black and blue. Sooraj's friends aka his 'partners in crime', who are dead against his large heartedness, convince him to go clubbing to celebrate. That's when Sooraj meets the free spirited Radha (Athiya Shetty). It is in the club where Sooraj picks up a dance only in order to prove Radha that they are in no way 'Losers'. He also lands up fighting with Radha's 'pile-on' boyfriend and saves her from being dragged along with him. All of this impresses Radha very much and she almost falls in love with him instantly! On the other hand, Radha's father (Tigmanshu Dhulia), an Inspector General of Police, is on a war path and loggerheads against Pasha (Aditya Pancholi), who has been imprisoned for being the mastermind in the killing of a journalist. Despite repeated attempts of requests and tortures (in that order), when Pasha refuses to budge, the IG declares that he has hardcore evidence against Pasha which will nail him forever. That's when Pasha tells his 'protege' Sooraj to kidnap Radha, but keep her safely. Not the one to negate his 'Baba's' (as Sooraj fondly calls Pasha) words, Sooraj immediately sets into action and disguises himself as a 'police-escort' and kidnaps Radha, takes her to a snow clad area. As time passes by, Sooraj and Athiya fall for each other. And when Athiya comes to know about Sooraj's background, she convinces him to reform his life using the 'Control+Alt+Delete' formula and 'Enter' into a new life. Does Sooraj listen to his ladylove and surrender himself before the cops or will he listen to the call of his duty towards his 'Baba', does IG become successful in nailing Pasha forever, what ultimately happens to the lovebirds Sooraj and Radha and their love story is what forms the rest of the film.

Nikhil Advani, who had been handed over the responsibility of remaking the 1983's cult classic film HERO (which was directed by Subhash Ghai), lands up making a irreparable remake in the form of his version of HERO. And the biggest and the main problem with HERO is its absolutely lame screenplay. While Subhash Ghai's writing kept you interested right till the end, Nikhil Advani-Umesh Bisht's screenplay in the remake is so convoluted (especially in the second half) that you are befuddled as to what exactly the objective behind making the film was. The story is more or less similar to the original. Without mincing any words here, it has to be HERO's director Nikhil Advani who needs to shoulder all the blame for making an almost mash up of the original classic. Nikhil Advani's last film D DAY was a highly critically acclaimed film. HERO is no patch on his last film. It is obvious that there were multiple minds working on cooking up this tasteless drama and the end result isn't appetising.

In the acting department, even though there's nothing much to appreciate; debutante Sooraj Pancholi has a nice screen presence and a solid physique. Though he carries only one expression throughout, he is reasonably good in the action scenes. One does notice that, in the film, his transformation from a local ruffian to a nice guy is totally missing. Athiya Shetty too is decent in her part but will need more time to find her comfort zone. Having said that, to be fair to the debutantes Sooraj Pancholi and Athiya Shetty, the duo have a nice screen presence but they have their limitations. Tigmanshu Dhulia, on the other hand, in an attempt to reprise Shammi Kapoor's tough-dad-cop persona, is gloriously miscast. We all know that he is a fine actor, but he falters big time in the film. Sharad Kelkar as Athiya's brother is decent. Aditya Pancholi as the villainous Pasha is average. Vivan Bhatena does a Shakti Kapoor and he holds a magnetic appeal.

The music of Subhash Ghai's HERO was truly memorable. Each and every single song (even music pieces) are part of the collective consciousness of the movie loving audience. Music of Nikhil Advani's HERO is a total let down. The only saving grace in the music department is the much publicised 'Main Hoon Hero Tera' sung by Armaan Malik, which is reasonably good, but is mostly used as a filler. And, then there's the much talked about Salman Khan's version of the same in the end (for his fans of course).

While Tushar Kanti Ray's cinematography is good, Ritesh Soni's editing is average. Ravi Varma and Dave Judge's actions are one of the positive highlights of the film. Umesh Bisht's dialogues are boring. The only dialogue that stands out is 'Pyaar karne vaale kabhi darte nahin, jo darte hain vo pyaar karte nahin' (which was anyways a part of the song in original HERO).

Nikhil Advani's HERO has been aggressively marketed and no corners have been cut to ensure that the promotions reach all across. If only the same amount of passion was invested in writing a nice dramatic entertainer. All the hype may result in a somewhat decent start at the box office, but the word of mouth isn't going to be flattering at all.

On the whole, HERO fails the litmus test of rehashing a classic for the Generation Next. It appeals in very small measures and is not an ideal weekend entertainer. If you a die-hard Salman Khan fan, you may want to patronise, else avoid.

Welcome Back

When a certain movie clicks with the cinegoers and also enjoys a strong recall value, many filmmakers encash on it by making sequels. There have been many such films that mirror this trend. Franchises like DHOOM, TANU WEDS MANU, MURDER, DON, GOLMAAL, HOUSEFULL have been very successful with the film loving audiences. While some of the sequels hit goldmine at the box-office, others bit the dust. This week's release is WELCOME BACK, which happens to be the sequel to the 2007 hit comedy WELCOME. Will this film repeat the box-office success of WELCOME or will it bite the dust, let's analyze.

WELCOME BACK starts off with the picturesque Dubai and the grand entry of the 'now-transformed-but-still-unmarried' Uday Shetty (Nana Patekar) and Majnu Pandey (Anil Kapoor). Just as these dons start enjoying their reformed 'clean' lives as respectable members of society, there enters Babita aka Rajkumari Chandni (Ankita Shrivastava) and her gorgeous mother Poonam aka Maharani (Dimple Kapadia). Even though they claim to be the princess and Maharani of Najafgadh, the actual fact remains that they are thugs of the highest order whose main motive is to con the rich men and siphon off their money. Unaware of their background, Uday and Majnu fall in love with the Rajkumari, so much so that there comes a situation when their best friendship is at stake. Just when Uday and Majnu initiate their matrimonial meet with Rajkumari and Maharani, there enters Uday's 'poor' father (Nana Patekar in a double role), who 'thrusts' the responsibility of his daughter Ranjhana's (Shruti Haasan) marriage to Uday and Majnu. Seizing this opportunity, Maharani lays a condition that her 'princess' daughter's wedding with either Majnu or Uday will happen only after Ranjhana's wedding. In the meantime, due to certain circumstances and situational misunderstandings, Ranjhana falls in love with Ajju bhai (John Abraham) who is a Mumbai based goon and also Dr. Ghungroo (Paresh Rawal)'s step son from Mrs. Ghungroo (Supriya Karnik). In order to create a good impression before Uday and Majnu, Ajju 'disguises' himself as a decent, sober, well-mannered guy when he comes to Dubai. But when Uday and Majnu discover Ajju's true identity, hell breaks loose and they seek the help of the deadly Wanted Bhai (Naseeruddin Shah) in order to eliminate Ajju. Things take an unexpected u-turn when they realize that Wanted Bhai's only son (Shiney Ahuja) is not just a drug addict, but also blindly in love with Ranjhana. Will the 'still-bachelors' Uday and Majnu ultimately find love, will they ever discover Maharani and Chandni's true identities, will it be Ajju or Wanted Bhai's son who will win over Ranjhana and a comedy of errors is what forms the rest of the film.

Director Anees Bazmee (who also doubles up as the film's writer) needs to be patted on the back for having handled an ensemble cast (read 'plethora of stars'), all under one roof, with utmost ease. All those who loved WELCOME will not be disappointed with WELCOME BACK. WELCOME BACK does not really have a uniform storyline, but yet the whole affair turns out to be very funny. The film looks lavish and has been shot at very grand and expensive locations in Dubai, which definitely makes this film for a big screen watch! The best part about the film is that, Anees has equally balanced the craziness between the first and the second half of the film. The flip side of the film is that there are too many plots and sub plots, which ends up confusing the viewers at times. Had it not been for a handful of stretched subplots, the overall film would have been tighter and a sheer delight to watch. Though the screenplay is not very strong, it is the 'individual scenes' that work in the favor and progress of the film. Despite the film being lengthy overall, it manages to entertain with its non-stop humor. Though certain scenes in the film take you on a high comically, there are some sequences where the humour doesn't quite work. All in all, even though the film does not have any story as such, still director Anees Bazmee has smartly integrated the scenes around the WELCOME franchise. WELCOME BACK bears the quintessential 'Anees Bazmee stamp' throughout.

The comedy scenes and one-liners in the film are brilliant. Do not miss the 'graveyard scene' with Anil Kapoor and Nana Patekar. Also, their interactions with Paresh Rawal and Naseeruddin Shah are simply outstanding.

Despite being an ensemble cast, it is the inimitable Nana Patekar and 'jhakaaas' Anil Kapoor who carry the film on their shoulders, both of whom are in full form. This duo pulls all stops to come up with yet another memorable show with WELCOME BACK. While the entire first half of the film belongs to Anil Kapoor, Nana Patekar and their antics, the second half gets taken over by the talented Naseeruddin Shah. It is really nice and endearing to see him do such an out and out comedy film after a long time. Paresh Rawal, on the other hand, chips in his set of trademark style comedy and delivers a powerful act. The seasoned and 'the ever-dependable' actor that he is, Paresh makes no mistakes in tickling your funny bone with his antics and performance. The film sees the veteran actors carry the film with ease and make it a laugh riot. John Abraham, on the other hand, has a meaty role and he does his part well. This film will see him playing a typical 'Mumbaiyya tapori'. This role comes as a breather amidst all his 'macho-action' roles. Amongst the ladies, Dimple Kapadia is as gracious as ever with her in her role. This versatile and talented actress is extremely funny in her role of a con-artist. On the other hand, Shruti Haasan and the debutante Ankita Shrivastava perform their parts decently. Shiney Ahuja, in his 'comeback role' does leave an impression on the audience with his decent portrayal. Hopefully, this film will help him get the much needed 'welcome back' from the film industry.

While the film's music (Anu Malik, Meet Bros & Anjjan, Mika Singh) fails to impress and is a big letdown, it is the background score (Aadesh Shrivastava) that has the film moving. The film's actions (Abbas Ali Moghul) are executed really well. The entire climax sequence (directed by Firoz Nadiadwallah) is very sleek and has never been done before in any Bollywood film so far! The film's cinematography (Kabir Lal) is very impressive. The film's editing (Steven Bernard) could have been more tailored in order to make it more entertaining. Had the film's length been shorter with a deletion of a few scenes, the film wouldn't have suffered the lag. Special brownie points to the film's dialogue writer (Raaj Shaandilyaa) for coming up with hilarious situational one liners that will leave the audiences in splits.

On the whole, if you enjoy slapstick comedy that defies logic and have enjoyed WELCOME, then WELCOME BACK is surely a paisa vasool entertainer for you.

Phantom

Bollywood has witnessed many a 'novel' idea of adapting a book into a movie. There have been many testimonies to the same in the form of novel-turned-movies. This week's release PHANTOM too is an adaptation of journalist-turned-author S.Hussain Zaidi's best seller 'Mumbai Avengers'. The film mirrors the prickly issue of cross-border terrorism, which has affected India for decades now. Will PHANTOM prove to be a Box-Office goldmine or will it spell disaster at the ticket windows, let's analyze.

PHANTOM starts off with the visuals of the 26/11 Mumbai attack. This is immediately followed by a high octane car chase sequence between Daniyal Khan (Saif Ali Khan) and an unknown man in Chicago (US) who bangs his car and tries to drive away. Daniyal finally gets hold of him but accidentally kicks him off the bridge into the river below. This, then, leads to an array of flashback events, which establishes the connection between Daniyal Khan's past to his present day life. The flashback states that, after being dismissed from the Indian army, Daniyal goes into a hibernation of sorts, living an isolated and secluded life of his own. In the meanwhile, when India's RAW (Research and Analysis Wing) learns about Pakistan based terrorist group Lashkar's yet another plan of attacking India, they plan a secret operation, off the books, to take down all the accused and masterminds behind Mumbai attacks. After much research they decided on hiring Daniyal Khan for this job. The RAW officials believe that Khan is like 'Phantom', he has no records and is completely off the radar. As a part of the mission, he meets up with the beautiful and talented Nawaz (Katrina Kaif) in UK where she works as a 'Security Consultant'. The duo however gel well after Daniyal's first two missions in UK and US. Thereafter this duo's journey traverses from Beirut, Syria and finally Pakistan. Even though Daniyal Khan's mission happens to be a 'top secret' and 'highly confidential' one, the Pakistani officials sniff out his plan before Daniyal Khan reaches his ultimate goal of killing Hariz Saeed (Shahnawaz Pradhan), the mastermind behind the 26/11 attacks. Does Daniyal Khan become successful in his life threatening mission, why does Nawaz help him in his mission, are Pakistani authorities able to catch hold of Daniyal Khan, is what the rest of the story is all about.

With BAJRANGI BHAIJAAN proving to be one of all time blockbusters, it becomes absolutely needless to say that all eyes are on director Kabir Khan and his latest film PHANTOM, with expectations flying sky-high. Kabir Khan, who is not a newcomer to this political genre (KABUL EXPRESS, NEW YORK, EK THA TIGER) has attempted to keep the flag flying high with PHANTOM. In this film, besides being the film's director and script writer (alongwith Kausar Munir), Kabir also doubles up as screenplay writer (alongwith Parveez Shaikh). Even though the film is an edge-of-the-seat thriller, the film does not have any 'typical' Bollywood masala. PHANTOM is not an anti-Pakistan film, but, it is anti terrorism. One cannot but deny the fact that PHANTOM does have a few traces of EK THA TIGER, but it flies high on its own merit. While Kabir Khan becomes extremely successful in establishing the film's story in the interesting and suspense filled first half, the second half seems slightly stretched. Though the film doesn't have the typical Bollywood song-dance routine or humour, it runs high on patriotism. It plays on the anger and condemnation that every Indian has over the attacks of 26/11 on Mumbai. The film offers a hypothetical solution to the terror menace and about bringing these terrorists responsible for Mumbai attacks to justice. The film, whose strength is its gripping pace, ends high on emotions and patriotism. PHANTOM, without a doubt, a very well made film by Kabir Khan. The film is very real and international, both, in its look as well as content.

The film's protagonist Saif Ali Khan is decent and is convincing in the role of Daniyal Khan. His performance in PHANTOM is bound to surpass his (similar) performance in AGENT VINOD. His performance is very focussed, clinical and precise, as the role demands. Katrina Kaif, on the other hand, offers able support to Saif Ali Khan's character in the film. This film sees her performing realistic action scenes, unlike her handful of previous 'action' films. The other actors like Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub, Sabyasachi Chakrabarty, Rajesh Tailang and others offer their able support to the film.

The film does not have any mainstream songs (Pritam Chakraborty), except for the hummable 'Afghan Jalebi'. On the other hand, it is the film's background score (Julius Packiam) that helps immensely in making the film emerge a complete winner. The film's cinematography (Aseem Mishra) is outstanding. The film's editing (Aarif Sheikh) is good. The flip side of the film is that its screenplay (Kabir Khan, Parveez Shaikh) could have been a bit tighter. The action sequences (Peter Pedrero) in the film are very well executed.

On the whole, PHANTOM is a good action film which runs high on patriotism and will appeal to every Indian worldover. Highly Recommended.

Kaun Kitne Paani Mein Movie Review - Evaporating Effect...

Expectations:

Remember those romantic films which portrayed the 'Khandaani Dushmani' between two warring families followed by the romance between the second generation of these families. Then there were films like 'Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak', 'Saugandh', 'Sanam Bewafa' and many more where the movie begins with a death of two young lovers leading to family rivalries leading to next generation romance which gets opposed by the families. With changing times this genre shifted its base from big screen to the smaller one and after a huge gap comes up a film 'Kaun Kitney Pani Mein', which deals with two warring communities with a backdrop of water issue attached to it. Thus, let's find out whether this age old formula will work in today's times or might end up being another small film with a one liner theme attached to it.

Kaun Kitne Paani Mein Movie ReviewStory:

'Kaun Kitney Pani Mein' is a story based in the dry lands of Orrisa, where an area of upper cast people owned by Raja Saab (Saurabh Shukla) does not have a single drop of water to drink, whereas another area led by politician Kharu Pehelwan (Gulshan Grover) is flourishing in every way. People from both the areas hate each other as they have an ugly past related to lovers from both communities. Raja Saab wants to sell his dry land, but due to non existence of water finds it hard to get a buyer. Thus, he hatches a plan with help of his son Raj (Kunal Kapoor), where he has to trap Kharu Pehelwan's daughter Paro (Radhika Apte) and make her fall in love with him. Raj seeks out on the mission and what happens next is what the entire film is all about.

Screenplay & Technicalities:

The story starts with age old romance between the upper and lower cast young lovers leading to their death followed by the rivalry between the communities. We have seen many films based on this topic but the water issue connected to this film makes if different and unique in terms of its concept. The movie takes lot of time in establishing its plot and when it comes on its right track, seems enjoyable and interesting. There are some good scenes involving Gulshan Grover and Kunal Kapoor, followed by almost every scene featuring Saurabh Shukla. The whole characterization of Saurabh Shukla is interesting and the best part in the film. Sadly, the unique theme and good performances gets diluted due to weak screenplay and super slow narrative style. The climax is overdramatic and kiddish, ruining the whole impact of the film.

Kaun Kitne Paani Mein ReviewMusic & Direction:

Music is above average and 'Chala Murari' is entertaining. 'Rangabati' reminds you of the 90's style item songs.

Director Nila Madhab Panda directed 'I Am Kalam' which won plenty of awards and here, he comes up with a good one liner concept but presents it in a slow, bland and lethargic manner. He adds minute details to his characters which makes them interesting and enjoyable. Wished he had worked a bit more on the screenplay, the whole impact would have been more encouraging.

Performances:

Kunal Kapoor looks good and does a decent job. Radhika Apte is fine in her part. Saurabh Shukla is outstanding and shines out as the best of the lot. Gulshan Grover lends good support.

So bol meri 'Filmi Khopdi' iss film mein kitna hain Dum???

Dum??? Well, the basic plot line is interesting and has some decent performances attached to it. The movie will be a great watch over the small screen due to its slow narrative part and dragging screenplay. Sadly, due to weak screenplay, slow happenings and terrible climax the whole uniqueness ends up with an evaporating effect.

Rating - 2.5/5

Phantom Movie Review - India Fights Back With Vengeance...

Expectations:

If we look at the villains of our Hindi films, most of them have been the lusty lovers of the heroine or have killed some family member of our beloved heroes/heroines. Besides these personal references, there have been socially/politically relevant villains in our films right from the evil zamindar, to the corrupt minister, followed by the underworld don or a rich businessman from an upper cast. Along with these villains the Britishers were too, one of our favourite villains, popularly known as 'Goraa' or 'Angrez' followed by the Pakistan army.The reason for these villains, especially the international ones were due to the trouble we had to face in past and thus connected instantly with our audiences. The latest to join them are the anti-national elements or terrorist where our heroes eliminate them. Initially it started with indirect references followed by some direct or striking similarities in films like 'D-day', 'Baby', etc. The latest to join them is 'Phantom' which is based on the Hussain Zaidi's book, 'Mumbai Avengers' and has real references of the Islamic terrorist as villains who had masterminded the 26/11 Mumbai attacks. Thus, let's find out whether director Kabir Khan will be able to do justice to such powerful theme, or might end up being a weak clone of films like 'Baby' and 'D-day'.

Phantom Movie ReviewStory:

'Phantom' is a story of Daniyal Khan (Saif Ali Khan), who after being court martialed from the Indian army is approached by the top members of our defense service R.A.W (Sabyasachi Chakrabarty & Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub). The top members of R.A.W want to avenge the terrorist attacks which happened on 26th November in Mumbai. They want Daniyal to kill the top terrorists associated with the attacks and show it as an accident. Daniyal along with Nawaz Mistry (Katrina Kaif) sets out for the mission and what happens next is what the entire film is all about.

Phantom Movie StillScreenplay & Technicalities:

The story as we all know is inspired from the book 'Mumbai Avengers', but has been extremely modified in its cinematic avatar. It has shades and references with 'D-day' and 'Baby' but despite of those instant resemblance the movie has its own story to narrate. The movie starts with a low note without any conviction in forming this mission, but as the story moves ahead the movie sets on a thrilling roller coaster ride with lots of high and some low points in the middle portion of the film. The first half has back to back three missions and leaves no breathing space for you to think or even blink. The second half starts on a slow note followed by slow undercurrent and the final mission, leading the aftereffects. The thriller part in the finale portion is of top notch and keeps you glued to the silver screen. The only problem is that most of the missions gets accomplished very easily, thus the conviction and connect factor gets a bit diluted. The Indian government support and R.A.W agents planning lacked the intensity. All the missions are brilliantly narrated followed by few good emotional scenes featuring Katrina Kaif and Sohaila Kapur followed by Katrina narrating her childhood experience at the Taj Mahal hotel leading to Katrina's entry in the submarine. The dialogues are crisp and direct reference to the evil masterminds adds up as a positive point in the film. The cinematography is superb and the movie has been shot on many exotic locations (Beirut, Kashmir, etc) giving the film a whole international premise attached to it. The editing could have been a little better in the middle part of the film.

Phantom Movie WallpaperMusic & Direction:

The music by Pritam is not memorable. 'Afghan Jalebi' is foot tapping and interesting. Background music works as an additional screenplay in the film.

Director Kabir Khan delivers a hard hitting film which will remind you of his best films 'Kabul Express' and 'New York'. The movie is extremely high in most of its portion and equally low in few of them. The direct reference of Islamic terrorists as villains (Hafiz Saeed, David Headly, Sajid Mir and Lakhvi) is daring and path breaking. He ends up delivering a fine film with good message attached to it which probably is a wish of all true Indians.

Performances:

Saif Ali Khan is great in his part and probably one of his finest performance in recent times. Katrina Kaif looks gorgeous and performs well in her part. Sabyasachi Chakrabarty, Sohaila Kapur and Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub lend good superb.

So bol meri 'Filmi Khopdi' iss film mein kitna hain Dum???

Dum??? The movie might not be as hard-hitting as 'D-day' or highly patriotic and entertainer like 'Baby', but nevertheless has its own style and merits to cherish. The secret desire of a true Indian is captured in this film where India fights back with vengeance and deserves to be watched by everyone who were disturbed by the terror happenings in our country.

Ratings - 4/5 (Have added an additional star for the daring usage of the direct references in the film)

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