Downing the don
Director: Kabeer Kaushik Cast: Arshad Warsi, Pankaj Kapur, Mahima Chaudhary, Sushant Singh, Suhasini Mulay, Pratim Kazmi, Ravi Jhankal
After having promoted his debut film, Sehar, as based on the true life incidents of Arun Kumar, while he was SSP Lucknow, Kabeer Kaushik rubbishes his own claim by beginning the film with the routine declaration that itís all fictitious and any character resemblance is purely coincidental! Just a shade of magic fictionalisation might not have been a bad idea, actually, in this otherwise well-made film. Might just have worked in giving the gunshots a more universal resonance.
Which is what makes the shots in Ab Tak Chhappan, a Ram Gopal Varma product, still resonate in our ears, while those fired in Kagaar have faded into silence; both films based on real-life encounter specialist Daya Nayak. RGV and his Factory workers have perfected the trick of being starkly realistic, yet rising above it. Which is what makes the Factory produced underworld stories fascinating for the taporis on the streets as well as the kitty party ladies in posh drawing rooms.
Which would have been a fine way to go for Sehar, too. It has some very interesting work by Arshad Warsi as the SSP of Lucknow who forms a Special Task Force, which has the right to operate beyond jurisdiction area limitations, to tackle mafia gangs dealing mainly in railways contracts and tenders, but moving on to bigger things. His fine acting keeps one glued even when sequences seem documentarish or when the pace slackens, as it does very often, especially in the first half.
With him is Pankaj Kapur to bring us that occasional smile and applause for his performance. He shoots last, but he shoots the best.
Is this ominous'
Director: Robiranjan Moitra Cast:Sabyasachi Chakraborty, Locket Chatterjee, Swastika Mukherjee, Rajatava Datta
Trying to get money to make a first film thatís also Ďdifferentí could be quite a horror. And to actually make it happen is no Childís Play. But editor-director Robiranjan Moitra does it with his debut film, Mantra. A Bengali horror film!
Made with a handsome budget, the film is well made and stylishly crafted. And the directorís technical grasp never lets the packaging slip into shoddiness.
And though the story takes off on a Hollywood-via-Bollywood movie route, the film is a novel step, off the beaten path of Tollywood film scenario. Shot by cop (Sabyasachi) in an encounter, mantra-spewing tantric criminal (Rajatava) plants his own soul in a doll before dying and lives on as sinister ĎMunna Putulí.
Unsuspecting mother (Locket) gifts her son the same doll, unaware that itíll play havoc in their lives. Much mumbo-jumbo and voodoo talk later, the possessed killer-dollís evil spirit is destroyed by Locketís Ďmother powerí' tilak on forehead, trishul in hand, archetype-stereotype in place!
The entire cast throws in great performances. Sabyasachi as a dedicated detective is, as always, rock-steady in his role. Locket shines as the frazzled single-mom desperate to save her son from the diabolic doll. Rajatava appears to enjoy hamming and amuses us in the process. And Swastika impresses with her screen presence and unusual visage. Like in the scene where she lies dead, face partially covered in dusty-white in macabre stylisation, her expression is dead-pan naturally, but also weirdly paradoxical like a dramatic tragic-comic mask.
Director: Ravi Kinnagi Cast: Mithun Chakraborty, Debashree Roy, Jeet, Koel Mallick, Sanjib Dasgupta, Rajatava Datta, Bharat Kaul
Juddha is all about the baap of Bangla films ' Mithun Chakraborty ' a no-nonsense police inspector snapping one-liners like, ďTor moto goonda-der baap aamiĒ. He finds a match for verbal duel in Jeet, a local goon. When Mithun kicks off the chair and barks out orders Jeet dares him to come to his den without his uniform ' now where did we see that before' Actually, most scenes give you this feeling.
Itís not just old world heroism that excites Ravi Kinnagi; he liberally takes inspiration from the latest Bollywood trend of stylised action and sexy item numbers. Here Mithun and his jeep can be seen dodging torpedoes like frisbees and Jeet knocking the baddies off with a manhole cover, Matrix style.
Jeet Ganguly does a good job with the music, along with the remixed version of Shadher lau as a well-performed item number. A foot-tapping folk song pepped up thus is good thinking.
Post-interval itís role reversal time. An absconding Mithun is charged with the murder of his wife and Jeet, now in khakee, tries to stop him. So when Mithun takes the Aakhree Raasta, leaving behind the Zanjeer, itís up to Jeet to take stock of the situation. Mithun announces all his moves before killing, but Jeet still fails to stop him. You do get some ceetee-bajao scenes here though the new league can hardly stand up to the vintage.
Koelís job is to look good and sing songs ' with her neckline plunging deeper with every film. Debashree looks good with Mithun, but in an action film with two heroes one canít expect much from the girls.
Love under siege
Director: Shoojit Sircar Cast: Jimmy Shergill, Minissha Lamba, Yashpal Sharma, Mukesh Tiwari, Dolly Ahluwalia, Gyan Prakash, Juhi
There are no stars yahaan, which explains the empty seats. Set in Kashmir, the love story punctuated by bullets is surprisingly well made, despite some holes in the storyline. The dialogues are crisp, the camerawork ranges from good to outstanding, while the editing transits between action and romance with professional finesse.
It is also a more thought provoking film than the average Bollywood multi-starrer. ...Yahaan focuses on the tragedy of Kashmir without sacrificing the ingredients of an entertainer. There are lyrical songs, dance, romance and picturesque settings, contrasting sharply with the underlying pall of fear and sudden death. Despite a progressive tendency of the plot to slip into melodrama, Sircar successfully avoids jingoism. The treatment of perspectives is even-handed, if sometimes satirical, and pivoted by a superbly restrained performance from Jimmy Shergill.
Debutante Minnisha Lamba, as Adaa, does not always look real, but wins more than CaptainAmanís heart with her ethereal smile.