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Top Ten Let-downs 2011




Here’s a list of the most disappointing Hindi films of the year. They might not essentially be flops but turned low on the immense expectations that they came with.

As we reach the yearend starts the predictable countdown to the best of the year. They might not essentially be flops but turned low on the immense expectations and promise that they came with. Here’s the Top 10 list…

1.) Aarakshan

Director: Prakash Jha
Cast: Amitabh Bachchan, Manoj Bajpayee, Saif Ali Khan, Deepika Padukone, Prateik Babbar

With Prakash Jha’s past repertoire one may reserve the right to believe that his films are social, sensible, well-researched, hard-hitting and conveys a message. But he proved us wrong with Aarakshan.

This film touched its core theme of educational reservations only partially and peripherally. Jha played safe by barely emphasizing anything about reservations beyond what is common knowledge. The issue and its implications were seen through the confines of the viewpoint of its principal protagonist (Amitabh Bachchan) and the narrative lacked any broader perspective on the national issue.

Not only does the film fail to offer any solution to the issue, it doesn’t even illuminate interlinked concerns like the debate over the extent of reservations or the aftermath of compromise on merit. Moreover the narrative very conveniently overlooks one of the most potent and prevalent hidden-agenda behind the quota system – the vote-bank politics of government. The film reeked of idealism and yet attempted to tackle a practical issue


2.) Dhobi Ghat

Director: Kiran Rao
Cast: Prateik, Monica Dogra, Aamir Khan, Kriti Malhotra

What would you call a film whose central characters comprise of an aspiring actor, a photographer, a painter and a videographer? ‘Art’ cinema! Well jokes apart and with due respect to arthouse cinema, which can be an enriching and exquisite experience, Kiran Rao’s directorial debut seems like a pretentious attempt to adapt to the prerequisites of the offbeat genre. Minimalism, as a tool, is effective when it adds merit to the medium. But here it only leads to nothingness in the narrative.

Dhobi Ghat is the kind of cinema where you expect the end-credits to appear after any random scene in the concluding reels. The long pauses, slow pacing, extended shot-taking, erratic editing and a murky look at Mumbai clearly work towards giving the film its intended artistic aura. However the story lacks the depth that could have added more meaning to this tangential look at the town. Blame it to the weak chemistry of the characters or the premature culmination of the plot but the melancholy of the characters fails to move you beyond a point.

Mumbai is predictably captured by means of ordinary people like housemaid, vegetable vendor, fisherwoman, street rat-killers to the laundryman (dhobi) – like how it is regularly portrayed to the international audience in its underprivileged glory. Unfortunately the depiction of Mumbai as an additional character in the film doesn’t add any new dimension to the narrative. All it does is give a new Indian ambassador to the world – so after dabbawala, it’s now the dhobi. Is that what you mean by world cinema?

3.) Game

Director: Abhinay Deo
Cast: Abhishek Bachchan, Kangana Ranaut, Sarah Jane Dias, Boman Irani

Coming from ever-bankable Farhan Akhtar and Delhi Belly director Abhinay Deo, Game was surprisingly a weak attempt. It only played with our sensibilities.

The narrative of Game was as much inconsistent as the continuously changing geography of the plot that kept shifting from Thailand, Istanbul, India, UK to Greece. Under the guise of an espionage thriller and a slick murder mystery, Game ended up being a formula flick driven by ancient cliched conflicts like badle-ki-aag and jaydaad-ki-ladaai.

It was too convoluted, cliched, convenient and coincidental for a suspense thriller. Surprisingly Farhan Akhtar’s dialogues only added to the corniness. The direction was mediocre and storytelling blemished with too many loose ends. Abhishek Bachchan tried too hard to be cool but he needs to ‘get idea’ of good scripts.

4.) Mausam

Director: Pankaj Kapur
Cast: Shahid Kapoor, Sonam Kapoor

What you expect to be a timeless love story turns to be an endless episode in Pankaj Kapur’s Mausam. Kapur uses actual unfortunate events from communal riots to terrorist attacks as the backdrop to symbolize changing seasons of love in his coming of age love story. And the sluggish story makes an attempt to push itself ‘only’ during these adversities. So disillusioned are you after a point that you hopelessly pray for another catastrophe to strike and thereby end your turmoil.

Sonam Kapoor appears too juvenile for the role and lacks the maturity and range to handle a character which spans a decade and demands diverse emotions. The entire basis of this ill-fated love story heavily depends on the chemistry between Sonam and Shahid but it certainly wasn’t of the kind that one could rave about. And with their mediocre rapport, you don’t feel as much for the love birds as one should ideally have.

Marred by its unrelenting length, what Mausam serves in its three-hour runtime is so shallow and stretched that you yearn for the onset of the next season.

5.) Rascals

Director: David Dhawan
Cast: Sanjay Dutt, Ajay Devgn, Kangana Ranaut

Rascals is what one can call a ‘vacation’ filmmaking stint where everyone works on the film as if they were on a ‘holiday’ and the audience is expected to ‘leave’ their senses behind. The actors make least efforts to add conviction to their performances and the patchy writing just allows them to play as they please. Invariably the director tries to camouflage the shallowness in the story by adding depth only in the decibel levels of the dialogue delivery. 

The one-upmanship between Sanjay Dutt and Ajay Devgn doesn’t work primarily because Kangana Ranaut doesn’t share any chemistry with either men and so their persistent pursuit to get the girl falls flat. Also thanks to the dull camaraderie, the viewer never really bothers which hero would actually win the heroine in the end. The humour lacks imagination or wit and one can easily see through most of the worn-out gags. You laugh more on the corniness of the scenes than the comedy per se.

The tone of humour is consistently loud and commotional. Ajay Devgn keeps screaming most of the time and hams outrageously. Sanjay Dutt doesn’t seem interested. Kangana Ranaut is ill at ease in comedy. She struggles to hold her own and emerges as a bimbo in her act.

Rascals ended up being a silly and stupid comedy!

6.) Thank You

Director: Anees Bazmee
Cast: Akshay Kumar, Sonam Kapoor, Bobby Deol, Irrfan Khan, Suniel Shetty

In times when comedy is being redefined with rational and refreshing wit, the likes of Anees Bazmee have demoted themselves to the old school of humour. This is another comedy on the theme of adultery, perhaps with commercial considerations of reviving the success of Bazmee’s No Entry.

Akshay Kumar is ruthlessly repetitive and remains in his comfort zone. Knowing that Sonam Kapoor and Bobby Deol can’t act for nuts, Bazmee tries to balance it off by giving Irrfan Khan and Rimmi Sen more mileage. And though the two try their best to salvage the situation with their decent comic timings, the load is too much for them to handle.

Sadly this Shaadi No.1-meets-Biwi No.1 narrative is adulterated with so many tacky references that you end up saying thank you but no thank you.

7.) Ra.One

Director: Anubhav Sinha
Cast: Shah Rukh Khan, Kareena Kapoor, Arjun Rampal

Shah Rukh Khan’s superhero character takes too long to boot in this science fiction flick. G.One arrives just five minutes before the interval point by when you have already restarted your system several times, which has been hanging into nothingness. And the film’s title character Ra.One, a skeletal villain, gets a face (Arjun Rampal) even later in the second half. Is it worth the wait? Only intermittently and inconsistently!

While the sci-fi film is able to pull off some visual dazzlery, fast-paced storytelling and thrilling action sequences, it relies too much on SRK’s stardom than the script. The title character Ra.One is not half as menacing as it claims to be. Not only is Arjun Rampal inducted pretty late in the plot, being an ‘outcome’ of virtual reality he is too shallow and ineffective as the main villain

Also the film has a very crude sense of humour and surprisingly the dialogues are more vulgar than witty for a film largely targeted at the family audience. With the theory that anything sells in the name of Shah Rukh, you are served with butt-spanking, crotch-grabbing, cleavage-popping, nose-picking, condom innuendoes, gayish and garish gags. While any other actor doing that would have been tagged as ‘cheap’, girls going gaga over SRK would still like to call it ‘charming’ over here.

At best Ra.One qualified for a ‘one’ time watch.

8.) Dil Toh Bachcha Hai Ji

Director: Madhur Bhandarkar
Cast: Ajay Devgn, Emraan Hashmi, Omi Vaidya

A love story seen through the male perspective, Dil Toh Bachcha Hai Ji with three stars in its cast failed to achieve (or even come close to) what Pyaar Ka Punchnama did with its complete new cast (arriving a few months later). That’s because the latter had a brilliant story to say while the former didn’t. Surprisingly the makers should have sensed this considering both the films came from the same production house. 

Madhur Bhandarkar’s first attempt at making a lighthearted ‘feel-good’ film got an adult censor certificate but it certainly turned out to be a certified childish attempt at comedy. The film tried too hard to be funny but became bland and repetitive after a point. The pacing was too laidback, proceedings too predictable and the graph of the narrative never picked up.

Emraan Hashmi was in his comfort zone. Ajay Devgn seemed uncomfortable. Shahazn Padamsee irritated with her constant childish demeanour. And the only (unintentionally) funny moment in the film is whenever actor Aditya Raj Kapoor attempts to speak any casual line.

It’s good that Madhur Bhandarkar is sticking to his brand of expose cinema (making ‘Heroine‘ next), because this juvenile attempt has exposed his weakness in handling other genres.

9.) Mere Brother Ki Dulhan

Director: Abbas Ali Zafar
Cast: Katrina Kaif, Imran Khan, Ali Zafar

It’s more than obvious with a self-explanatory title like Mere Brother Ki Dulhan that the story of the film would be about a guy falling for his brother’s bride-to-be. Predictability seeps in this Yash Raj romantic comedy from the title itself.

When Imran Khan does a takeoff on the three ruling Khans of Bollywood in the opening credits, you somehow sense that the film has defined its domain. And it isn’t long before you realize that the narrative is taking the route of Shah Rukh Khan’s Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge. By the time the boy comprehends his love for the girl, she is already engaged to someone else. Only this time it’s the boy’s brother – so it’s more of an inhouse affair!

With Imran Khan restricted in his range and the immensely talented Ali Zafar being reduced to a second fiddle and grossly underused, it’s left up to Katrina to save the ship which she ably does as far as the average script allows her to.

Mere Brother ki Dulhan was relatively old and familiar entertainment.

10.) Tell Me O Kkhuda

Director: Hema Malini
Cast: Esha Deol, Dharmendra, Vinod Khanna, Rishi Kapoor

Life seems to have come full circle for Hema Malini. In an attempt to reintroduce daughter Esha Deol with Tell Me O Kkhuda, the yesteryear dreamgirl does a spinoff on Dil Aashna Hai (1992), a film with which she attempted to launch herself as a feature filmmaker. And the outcome is the same – dud!

A girl who learns she’s an adopted child sets on an aimless, endless and pointless journey to find her biological parents. She has managed to preserve her 24-year old hospital birth tag (phew) that wins her paternal prescriptions from the municipal hospital. And every time the hospital is refurbished, she gets new options for Daddy dear!

Hema Malini’s direction is slack, shallow and lacks the dramatic punches when the scene demands and, on the contrary, gets melodramatic when not required. There is no palpable tension when the protagonist confronts any of her prospective papas for the first time. And by the time Esha Deol walks with ‘four fathers’ in the climax, you realize that this dull drama dates back to your ‘forefathers’.


Sridevi dies at 54 of cardiac arrest: India, Bollywood in shock




Sridevi no more, and a part of my childhood dies with her

Sridevi died on Saturday night after suffering a cardiac arrest at the age of 54. Called the first female superstar in India’s male-dominated film industry, she made over 260 films in a career spanning 45 years.

As a starry eyed schoolchild, I would spend hours trying to get the steps of Morni Baagan Maan right, in front of the mirror. As a girl, not even 7, I was too young to understand the complexity of the lyrics or the depth of the feeling that the Lamhe song held within it, but it was she, Sridevi, her fluid dance moves and the play of emotion in her face that had me entranced. I would try to turn just like Sridevi, get her hand mudras right. Again, it would take me years to understand there was nobody like Sridevi. The twinkle in her eye, the charm she could switch on as cameras turned towards her or the movie star charisma that was part of her personality — Sridevi lived what her Mr India song said, Bijli Girane Main Hoo Aayi.\

Sridevi as a child actor in Thunaivan.

Sridevi as a child actor in Thunaivan.

My experiments in front of the mirror were not extraordinary, nor were they one of a kind. Lakhs of children across India were trying to emulate Sridevi — for some (like me) it was her dance, for others it was the fact that she was a superstar when women rarely had the word super attached to them in any form in the industry. And for almost everybody, it was her ability to light up the frames she inhabited.

My romance with Sridevi began long before I understood how to tell good films from bad; at that age I either loved them or hated them. So, when, early on a Sunday morning, as I got up to incessant messages, tweets and Facebook posts full of grief, I went back to my childhood. It was a child again who was mourning the loss of her star.

Sridevi as the quintessential Yash Raj heroine in Chandni.

Sridevi as the quintessential Yash Raj heroine in Chandni.

Indeed, Sridevi’s death has taken away something crucial with it — a part of my childhood. Whether it was her act as a child-woman in Sadma, the luminous double role in Lamhe, the quintessential Yash Chopra heroine in Chandni or the bubbly Hawa Hawai of Mr India, Sridevi managed to bring a certain je na sais quoi to every role she played.

Among the yellowing photographs and fading memories is a photo of me with my friends with a fruit hat a la Sridevi in Hawa Hawai. Maybe it was a day during summer vacation when time hung heavy on our hands. But I remember how disastrous the first attempt with a straw hat and a bowl of fruit was. We were rescued when the friend’s mother emerged and gave us a tongue lashing that only mothers are capable of. Then, being a Sridevi fan (who isn’t?), she helped us fashion the hat.

For every Lamhe, Sridevi also did duds like Roop Ki Rani Choron Ka Raja but managed to bring a certain charm to it.

For every Lamhe, Sridevi also did duds like Roop Ki Rani Choron Ka Raja but managed to bring a certain charm to it.

Then came Madhuri Dixit, and the gaggle of girls divided into Team Madhuri and Team Sridevi. I was a staunch member of the latter and many a evening, we would spend in fraught debates on who was better. Sridevi had been around for decades. Starting as a child artiste at the age of 4, she had worked in Telugu, Malayalam and Kannada films before she decided to shift her focus to Bollywood. She was a star here as well. Madhuri, IMHO, was a novice.

There were chinks in her career but it was still 90s Bollywood and actresses — even the one called the first female superstar of Bollywood — had to take the good with the bad. The pulpy papers of those times were full of how the leading actors of those days would cower before her. They may or may not have been true but they fuelled my imagination as a fan.



She definitely left a stamp on my career. I believe that years of defending her against Madhuri fans (you know who you are) made me pick up the job of an entertainment reporter. I came across her on many occasions in my career and always found her a picture of grace and poise, standing out in the sea of beauty that is Hindi cinema.

And today, she is gone, in a moment that appears was written by an unfeeling screenwriter. Or maybe, it is the fan inside me who is not ready to say goodbye. Oh, what it would be to watch her once again in a dark theatre with the lights dimmed.

Sridevi made 264 films over 45 years, and while not all of them will stand the test of the time, her charisma will. I would remember her as the effervescent Chandni, the middle class mother in English Vinglish but mostly as Hawa Hawai — who wore fruit hats and solved crimes as an intrepid journalist.

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The Great Sanjay Leela Does Disservice To Cinema With Propaganda And Dishonest Portrayal Of History In Padmavat



I saw the film more than a week back and I was flabbergasted and disgusted by what I had seen.

It wasn’t until my mentor and friend Promod Puri, the founder an former publisher-editor of Canada’s oldest South Asian English language newspaper  The LINK, wrote his review online that I felt compelled to add to the debate about one of the worst forms of propaganda in a Bollywood film I’d ever seen.

The great Bollywood writer-director Sanjay Leela Bhansali has basically put himself in the gutter with this outrageous Rajput Hindu propaganda that glorified the individual suicide the Sati (mass suicide as in Padmavat called Jauhar).

Looking back at the Hooliganism and blockade of the film by extremist Hindu and Rajput groups – it seems like a conspiracy given that the film actually shows the Muslims as evil blood thirsty monsters and I’m not even talking about the actually monstrous Khilji played by Ranveer Singh.

It should be the Muslims who should be appalled and disgusted at the polar opposite portrayals of Muslims and Hindus. It’s the Muslims who should be protesting and saying the film should be banned!


Given that the film is produce by Viacom India which is now 51 percent owned by billionaire Mukesh Ambani, I think the “Show” if extremism might have been planned ahead so that Muslims in India don’t actually think the film is anti-Muslim which it clearly is.

Writer-Director Sanjay Leela Bhansali is a good if not great filmmaker but here he comes across as Hitler Propagandist  filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl who made pro-German propaganda films during Adolf Hitler’s reign.

Films like Padmavat are extremely irresponsible at a time in India where there continues to be a divide among Hindus and Muslims  in Modi’s India.


And the film is really laughable as it tries to reconstruct history from a Hindu perspective when in reality the great but blood thirsty madman Khilji defeated the Rajputs. And no matter how much the film may try to sugarcoat it, the Rajputs were no match for the brutal strength of Khilji at a time in human history when brutal and maniacal strength was the Warrior’s code.

Take the brutal rulers of Europe and Asia – they were no different than Khilji!

I lost a lot of respect for director Bhansali as it seemed like he was just a puppet pulling someone else’s strings with much dishonesty and disgrace!


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Celebrity News

Aamir Khan say there is no Intolerance in India, urges Modi to reign in people spreading hatred




Days after his intolerance remarks, Bollywood star Aamir Khan today said India is “very tolerant” but there are people who spread hatred and appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to rein them in.

The actor also believes that he still continues to be country’s brand ambassador even though the government may have discontinued his services, saying India is his mother and not a brand.

“Our country is very tolerant, but there are people who spread ill-will…Those who speak of breaking up this vast country, such people are present in all religions, only Modiji can stop them. After all, Modiji is our PM, we have to tell him,” he told Rajat Sharma in his ‘Aap ki Adalat’ show on India TV, according to a press release issued by the channel.

Aamir said a sense of security comes from the justice system, which should ensure speedy justice, and from elected representatives who should raise their voice when something goes wrong.

“After all, law is equal for all, and nobody is above law. Unfortunately, there are some people who spread negativity and hatred. If I am not wrong, our Prime Minister has also expressed concern. His slogan is ‘sabka saath, sabka vikas’,” he said.

The actor, who hit headlines with his remarks that his wife was thinking of leaving India over growing intolerance, also replied to megastar Amitabh Bachchan’s remark that he damaged India’s brand identity by his statement, saying there was a feeling of insecurity due to growing intolerance.

“I had said in my interview that there was a sense of depression, a sense of despondency, a feeling of insecurity and intolerance was growing. But these are entirely two different things,” he said.

He added that he was “wongly quoted” and said, “I never said India was intolerant, I was wrongly quoted…To say about rising intolerance and to say India is intolerant are two different things.”

Claiming to continue serving as India’s brand ambassador even after government discontinued him, the superstar said, “For me, my motherland is my mother, it cannot be a brand. I can never view my mother as a brand. It could be a brand for other people, but not for me. Till this date, I continue to be India’s brand ambassador, even the government may have discontinued me.”

He said for 10 years he was brand ambassador for ‘Incredible India’s Atithi Devo Bhavo campaign’ and never charged a penny for all his public service campaigns for the country and nor will he charge in future.

Aamir also asked media and news channels not to air news about violence on TV as it creates an atmosphere of fear.

“Every Indian is infected with fear. I would also appeal to media not to highlight such violence, as it creates a sense of insecurity and fear among common people,” he said.

On his wife Kiran Rao expressing her intent to leave India due to insecurity, Aamir said he and his wife were not going anywhere and have been born here and will die in India, but said, “After all, Kiran is a mother, a mother always worries about her children.”

“Often we speak so many things among ourselves, but that does not mean, we take 100 per cent action on them. Now was that our intention. Kiran has actually expressed a feeling, an emotion, and we were born here, and we will die here. We are not going to leave our country, let me make it clear,”he said.

The superstar went on to say that whenever people try to divide, “we should become alert, and should beware as to why we are being reminded that we are Muslim, Hindu, or Sikh. After all, we are all Indians. We have to be on our quard.”

Seeking to clarify that there was intent on his or his director’s part on purportedly denigrating Hindu religion in his film ‘PK’, he said, “It was only a character playing the role of Shiva in a play, who was made fun of, in a particular situation. After all, Lord Shankar is Almighty, how can we dare to make fun of him?.”

The actor said he fully empathised with the cause of Kashmiri Pandits. “My heart cries even today for them. It is shameful, and I appeal to people living in the Valley to bring the Kashmiri Pandits back.”

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