Friday flops from Ramu and Shahid

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By Did you like/not like any of this week's new releases? Pratim D. Gupta and Priyanka Roy Tell Did you like/not like any of this week's new releases?
  • Published 17.04.10

Sleep ki paathshaala

Audience 1: Chal yaar, nikal jaate hain…

Audience 2: Arrey AC toh chal raha hai naa…

Audience 3: Hall khaali hai, chal chhupa chhupi khelte hain…

That kind of sums up Paathshaala. The inventive gang of guys at the morning show in Fame South City couldn’t last till the end credits but as long as they were there, they kept us entertained. More importantly they kept us awake.

Well, that is the only way Paathshaala will take you back to school. Remember those boring periods when you would slip into the back benches for a quick nap? If you want to relive those days, Milind Ukey has got just the right film for you.

No, no, no this is no masti ki Paathshaala. More like one of those sleepy public service videos on DD about how education has become a business and is being commercialised through fake reality shows and corrupt media channels.

So you have the stuck-to-the-seat principal (Nana Patekar) and the so-sweet-it’s-sour new teacher (Shahid Kapur). But this is no Mohabbatein even though the English teacher chance-pe-dances and suddenly starts teaching music to the school. No, not to woo the, er, healthy school nutritionist (Ayesha Takia) but for the students to break into a dance in classes and corridors.

Now time for noble thoughts! KBC studio applause, please. Problem: Poor father cannot pay raised school fee. Solution: English teacher relinquishes his salary. Problem: No one befriends boy with black daag on face. Solution: Let the puppies show him love and the kids will follow. Problem: School being run by money-sucking trustees and their marketing-and-PR machinery. Solution: Students go on strike and make it a media event.

If only good intentions made good films.... Paathshaala really doesn’t deserve a theatrical release. Shahid must have signed the film when he wasn’t that Kaminey. But he really needs to quality-control. Paathshaala does again pop the question: why can’t we make good children’s films? Some Hairspray can help.


Horror show

For a full 30 seconds, the camera pans on the open door. As it edges slowly towards it and the deafening background score threatens to burst your eardrums, the door slams shut. Nothing happens. The camera then shifts attention to a closed cupboard. As the music reaches an unbearable decibel level, the cupboard door hinges itself ajar. Nothing happens. The next moment, the maid is seen staring in horror at the kitchen wall. As the aforementioned background music reaches the aforementioned irritating level, she merely whips out a Hanuman poster and plasters it on the wall. Nothing else happens.

Ram Gopal Varma can’t fool the audience anymore. What worked with Raat in the 90s and Bhoot some ten years later, doesn’t send a chill down the audience’s spine anymore. Doors slam shut and the actors scream. A lizard crawls on the wall and the actors scream. Someone even screams on spying a bald man! The audience merely yawns.

In fact, predictability is the bane of Phoonk 2. Predictable haunted house, predictable haunted jungle, predictable haunted people… we have seen it all before in some RGV film or the other. The reins may have been passed on to assistant Milind Gadagkar, but the unmistakable RGV stamp — jerky camera movements, weird top shots and, of course, the grating background score — is impossible to ignore.

What makes it worse? The often meandering, largely boring first half is more or less a copy-paste from the first half of the first Phoonk film. Except that the scene of action now shifts to Goa for the happy family of four. But what starts off as a fun-filled holiday quickly turns into a horror fest for the bhoot-pret-prone family. But only strange sounds, scary shadows and an occasional glimpse of the evil spirit (with a band-aid on its nose, if you care!) is what one gets to see.

What saves Phoonk from becoming a complete farce is the less yawn-inducing second half. But even here, Gadagkar wastes no time in slipping into blood-gore-violence mode. The gardener’s dismembered body is found on the railway tracks, Tantrik 1 is decapitated with his blood going pitter-patter on the floor below for a full minute, Tantrik 2 (who wears orange-tinted contact lenses) is mauled to death by a doll (the doll-maker finds a mention in the opening credits!) and the maid has a knife stuck into her belly and suspended upside down in the storeroom.

Hero 1 (Sudeep) is knifed thrice but walks around with relative ease. Hero 2 (Amit Sadh) gets locked in a room for most of the film (maybe he wasn’t paid enough). Heroine 1 (Amruta Khanvilkar) is reduced to wearing white contact lenses. Heroine 2 (Neeru Singh) is found floating in the pool after three scenes and three dialogues.

But what happens to the bhoot? Nothing. Abhi Phoonk 3 bhi toh banana hai na, boss!

Wish we could phoonk that away.