Vantage point

Monday, January 02, 2006

Good Stories, Bad Direction

Most Bollywood movies stink. Most Hollywood movies stink as well. But there is a difference. Hollywood movies stink at different levels. Bollywood movies stink at the most basic level - they have a bad, boring story to tell.

WHich is why it is encouraging to see Bollywood movies which stink....OK, maybe stink is too strong a word... movies which don't quite make you think they earned their ticket's worth... but at least have in mind a decent story they want to tell you.

Saw two such movies over the last week or so - Bluffmaster and Shikhar.

Both movies have decent stories to tell, in two totally different ways.

Bluffmaster has been "inspired" by a lot of movies, but the operative phrase is "lot of". Since there are so many inspirations, the movie doesn't end up looking like a rank copy-paste job which Mahesh Bhatt et al indulge in. Its story manages to carve out a separate existence. But a lot is lost while portraying it on celluloid. A lot of unnecessary scenes, a lot of unnecessary deviations, a lot of unnecessary "senti", which is suicidal if you are out to make a Guy-Ritchie-type flick. The screenplay and the direction ended up doing a great disservice to the basic story.
Positives -
- The imaginative and novel use of various South Bombay locations.
- A few hilarious scenes which show that Rohan Sippy does have potential, especially the one in which Nana Patekar is aarti-ing a mirror.
- Decent "twist" in the end.

Shikhar is John Mathan's first movie after the well-times success of Sarfarosh fix years ago. Whenever an Aamir Khan movie is released, there are whispers that he does a bulk of the direction. It does seem so in the case of Sarfarosh, because it is tough to believe that the same guy who took what was a pretty run-of-the-mill story and converted it into a taut, absorbing film six years back, could take a richer story and dish out such a poor-ly envisioned product.

The story is really very good. It has a Jeffrey-Archer-business-thriller-ish feel to it, and maybe George can tell us if it is original, or again lifted from somewhere. But except for the story, everything else blows, and blows hard. First we have Ajay Devgan puting on the angry-middle-aged-man-in-weird-clothes act for the nth time. Then we have Genetic Dilemma 2 - Shahid Kapoor.

Digression - Genetic Dilemma 1 is Esha Deol. The dilemma lies in the question - how can the child of two really good looking people be so ugly? Genetic Dilemma 2 is Shahid Kapoor. Here the dilemma is, how can the child of two really good actors be so wooden?

Then we have Amrita Rao who is pulling the whole sweet-innocent-girl act for the nth time. Apparently she has sworn off skin show. I predict she goes the Preeti-Jhangiani-way in a year.

Bad acting, bad direction botch up a good story. Thw only glimmer of hope is Jawed Sheikh, who makes an impressive debut.

So all in all, the two movies were disappointing. But one must applaud he effort that went into stringing together a good story.