Fails on the text
Director: Leena Yadav Cast: Sunjay Dutt, Aishwarya Rai, Zayed Khan, Sadiya Siddique
For prize-winning author Shaukat Vashisht (Sunjay Dutt), the words have stopped coming. The critics think, he's yesterday. Desperate to get back on the creative road, he goads lecturer-wife Antara (Aishwarya Rai) towards her colleague Yash (Zayed Khan). She's his guinea pig; he the puppeteer hoping to milk a novel out of this real-life experiment. But as life takes control of the novel, the puppeteer loses grip over the narrative.
Sounds good, right' But every good idea with a great looking cast doesn't end up being a watchable flick. Shabd starts off in the mode of an experimental, anti-morality French film, but winds up like a conservative AVM productions of the 60s.
Director Leena Yadav gets the texture right, not the text. She lacks both the insight and the authority to make Shabd an intelligent film of ideas and inner turmoils that it badly wants to be. In the end, the movie chokes on its own vomit of words.
Thespians are unconvincing. Zayed's lecturer seems to have strayed from the Main Hoon Na sets. In the complex role of a Booker prize winner, Sunjay is poised. But he reminds you more of Salman Khan than Salman Rushdie. And Aishwarya is unlikely to carry this film's DVD to tempt Hollywood producers.
If there's a bright acting light, it is Sadia Siddique. As the much-married maid in the Dutt home, Sadia delights with her poker-faced, comic timing. She is a secret treasure Bollywood is yet to discover.
Princess diaries 2: Royal engagement
Director: Garry Marshall Cast: Anne Hathaway, Julie Andrews, Chris Pine. Callum Blue, Hector Elizondo, Heather Matarazzo, John Rhys-Davies, Larry Miller
Having transformed the geeky 15-year-old into a Princess in Part 1, director Garry Marshall almost transforms the still-enchanted-with-I-am-a Princess discovery, Anne Hathaway, into a runaway bride in this sequel.
But a queen is what this still-so-enchantingly imperfect and clumsy Genovian Princess has to be transformed into. And for that, queen grandmother Julie Andrews' grooming lessons, all the idiotically grinning and curtsying chamber maids, and the breathtaking collection of jewels and gowns that excite Anne into delightful whoops, are not enough. For the crown to adorn her pretty head, Genovian law says, her fingers need to flash a wedding ring first.
The script that leads to her runaway bride dash is not brilliant or hilarious. But it exudes a quiet charm which, though failing to cause any fireworks like the relationship between Anne and her husband-to-be Callum Blue, does create enough spark, like the relationship between Anne and the King wannabe, Chris Pine.
Between them all, with help, of course, from Anne's official best friend, who flies down from America and pops out of Anne's closet, and the puppies and poodles, not to forget the chickens, they manage to keep this race for the crown happening if not hip, in this modernday take on the fairytale world, with a laudatory feminist twist as well.
Rehashed, but action-packed plot
Director: Haranath Chakraborty Cast: Prosenjit, Ranjit Mallick, Arunima Ghosh, Deepankar De, Jisshu Sengupta, Soumili Biswas, Sabyasachi Chakraborty, Dulal Lahiri, Aparajita Mohanty, Debesh Roy Chowdhury, Rajesh Sharma, Arun Banerjee
Breathtaking stunts aided by edit-room sorcery. And cunning Prosenjit guises (as many as six) to match the Sanjeev Kumar act in Naya Din Nayee Raat. These are the main props Haranath Chakraborty mounts his caper on, ensuring sleek editing, smart make-up, neat cinematography, rich locales and all that counts to step up the production values. Music, though, is as pedestrian as Inzamam-ul-Haq's running between the wickets.
Chakraborty is unpretentious about his 'story', rehashing only too soon the Surya theme, as the retired colonel, Ranjit, brings up Prosenjit to combat social vices. Ranjit patently hams through, while a somersaulting (remember Agni') Prosenjit takes gravitydefying leaps in the air and blows off cars (four at a time!) simply with a disdainful tudi. TV's Arunima cuts a sorry figure and looks cramped for acting space. Jisshu is just about okay, whereas Sabyasachi's straitlaced cop sails above the average. The gaffe-littered and action-packed plot calls for a 'willing suspension' not of disbelief, but of the entire belief system. But a certain polish and technical finesse are there ' which has become Haranath's brand equity.