My Sunday Guardian film reviews this week:
Actors made bad jokes sound bearable
Director: Indra Kumar
Starring: Sanjay Dutt, Arshad Warsi, Riteish Deshmukh, Jaaved Jafri, Ashish Chowdhury, Mallika Sherawat, Kangana Ranaut, Satish Kaushik
Double Dhamaal is a 'family film' involving four layabouts who spend their time hatching schemes to become arabpatis, a fate they seem to imagine as being mostly about hanging out in the company of well-endowed white girls in fake belly dancer costumes. (Note: they're strangely loyal to these girls; the same ones seem to appear in every one of their fantasies: from the rather fun 'Chill Maaro' song at the beginning right until the end).
Sequel to 2007's popular crime caper Dhamaal, the film retains much of the same cast: Arshad Warsi and Jaaved Jafri as the brothers Adi and Manav, Riteish Deshmukh as Roy and Ashish Chowdhry as Boman, with Sanjay Dutt still playing their bete noire Kabir Nayak. Except Nayak now has a sultry siren of a wife called Kamini (Mallika Sherawat) and a screechy secretary-cum-sister called Kiya (Kangana Ranaut) on his team. The plot involves our heroes discovering that Nayak – whom they believed had donated all his money at the end of the previous film, thus inspiring them to do the same – has somehow become a rich businessman. They cajole, beg and finally blackmail him into making them partners in his company, only to find that he's conned them again. Left to fend with an irate bhai (Satish Kaushik) who has just invested vast amounts of money in what he thinks is a newly-discovered oil reserve in the middle of Mumbai, our heroes abscond to Macau, where they set about planning their revenge on Nayak and his girls.
What follows is a series of escapades involving off-the-wall disguises and over-the-top accents which are made somewhat bearable by the actors' comic timing. Deshmukh probably gets the pick of the crop, playing everything from a Chinese trickster called Li to a wildly rich Gujarati businessman, to an Afro-haired half-black cool dude called Tukaram Kale (really, don't ask) who becomes betrothed to Kiya (Ranaut). Warsi-in-disguise, as a Sikh called Ghanta Singh who insinuates himself into Nayak's newly-acquired casino business, isn't too bad either. But most of the jokes are just gande. Or as the film itself would have it, "Gun de".
A youth film that goes beyond the urban setting
Director: Shashi Silgudia
Starring: Nishan Nanaiah, Dwij Yadav, Sunny Hinduja, Tom Alter, Girija Oak, Ishita Sharma
'Youth' is apparently the flavour of the season. Filmmakers trying to capitalise on this avidly cinema-going segment of the audience have given us, most recently, Always Kabhi Kabhi, Luv ka the End and Shaitaan. These have ranged in quality from bad to middling to promising-but-ultimately-disappointing, and from school to college. But just like every other genre of film in today's Bollywood, none have stepped outside the upper middle class metropolitan setting. It's a pleasant change, then, to watch a film about young people whose primary preoccupations don't involve the next party, the last accident, or how to find lakhs of rupees to bribe the cops.
Cycle Kick is about young people in the small seaside town of Sindhudurg. Ramu (the quietly appealing Nishan Nanaiah) and his young brother Deva (Dwij Yadav) are orphans, struggling to survive while getting themselves an education. Ramu goes to a government college and Deva to a small school. Ramu dreams of playing football, but spends his spare time pasting film posters on walls or mowing lawns to earn money. The brothers stumble upon a broken-down cycle, and are thrilled to bits when they manage to get it into working order. But before they even have time to get used to the luxury, the cycle is stolen. The search for their cycle brings Ramu and his friends into confrontation with another gang from their college, led by the flamboyant Ali (nicely played by Sunny Hinduja). Ramu and Ali become friends, eventually teaming up to fight a football battle with the town's arrogant rich boys under the benevolent gaze of a do-gooder coach (Tom Alter).
The cycle quest and the football don't quite come together, the women aren't fleshed out (a waste of the talented Girija Oak) and some questions are left hanging, like how Ali got hold of the bicycle. But these flaws and low production values aside, this charmingly shot film successfully brings to life a quiet small town world where it is still possible to woo a girl by showing her a secret view of the sea, a world where the stakes may be small but the kick is real.