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Guitar-slinger Akash wants to be a star. And he sets out on his journey,aided and abetted by reluctant sister Nisha,and loyal girlfriend Sara...

CAST: Adhyayan Suman,Anjana Sukhani,Shahana Goswami,Humayun Saeed
DIRECTORS: Hasnain S Hyderabadwala,Raksha Mistry
Rating: HHH

Guitar-slinger Akash wants to be a star. And he sets out on his journey,aided and abetted by reluctant sister Nisha,and loyal girlfriend Sara.

Vishesh Films’ latest Jashnn reminds you of the kind of low-on-stars,high-on-emotions films the banner used to make when Mahesh Bhatt was at the helm. The women are strong and needy and vulnerable,all at the same time. The men are the weaker sex,and shed tears freely. There’s also a deeply obsessive brother,and an abusive lover. And there’s some mandatory sex.

But these elements,which Bhatt used so effectively in his best films (Arth,Naam,Zakhm),are seriously diluted here. Jashnn starts off with verve,but sinks into a weepy,soppy second half. The director duo who filched a Hollywood thriller for their previous film (The Train) stays safely within homegrown boundaries,and despite the fresh-sounding dialogue,keeps everything oh-so-predictable: you know,as soon as he opens his mouth,the curly-haired Adhyayan and his pals will run from old pillar to proverbial post,and will then hit the jackpot. It’s all very Rock On. Isn’t it time Vishesh Films went back to doing original,strong content that used to be its hallmark?

For a film about music and musicians,it is surprisingly sparse songs-wise. It’s the performances which keep you going. Adhyayan is much more sure-footed here than he was in his last outing Raaz 2,where he competed with Kangana and Emraan,and came off a poor third. Anjana gets more to do than just show off burnished shoulders: she plays both girlfriend and let-me-be-free-to-lead-my-life sister. But the best part of the film is Shahana Goswami,whose love for her ‘bhai’ overcomes all else.

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Pity the film didn’t match up to her.

CAST: Siddharth Koirala,Gracy Singh,Raghuveer Yadav,Vijay Raaz
DIRECTOR: Rahat Kazmi
Rating: H

Dekh Re Dekh,which started life as Dekh Bhai Dekh till a court order prevented its use,is an odd-bod. It’s set in the middle of nowhere,populated with nowhere people,busy getting nowhere slowly.

There’s a village which has a pond,a temple,a palace and a haunted ‘haveli’,and a foursome which wants to get rich,very,very quick. Siddharth needs the money to buy himself a job,Raghuveer an MLA’s seat,Gracy an out of her hideous marriage,and Vijay – well,he’s a thief,so he needs to steal to keep his hand in.

They tumble around each other,and fetch up in a dark ‘haveli’,in which lives a long-haired woman who looks as if she’s off her rocker. Gracy,the chirpy ‘gaon ki chori’ wooed by Aamir in Lagaan,looks as if she’s at the end of her tether: anyone would if they had to roam around with poison in their bodice,waiting for a chance to use it. And poor Rahuveer and Vijay,who deserve better,appear appallingly lost.


Clearly,the film has been made for an audience. Question is,who’s going to watch it?

CAST: Daniel Radcliffe,Rupert Grint,Emma Watson,Michael Gambon,Jim Broadbent,Bonnie Wright,Alan Rickman,Tom Felton
DIRECTOR: David Yates
Rating: HHH 1/2

Yes,this is the one with the unbearable death. But,this is also the one where Harry (Radcliffe),Ron (Grint) and Hermione (Watson) discover the perils of the teens,find love and jealousy; a mysterious character called the Half-Blood Prince is revealed; we see Voldemort as a young orphaned boy Tom Riddle,not quite unlike Harry himself; and the extent of his evil genius is revealed.

Yates had one film to convey all of this,as well as build up to the final battle ahead. It was no mean task,and that explains the grim,dark look of Half-Blood Prince. Even the train ride up to Hogwarts this time is shorn of all its greenery,with a sense of doom hovering over the castle.


We first see Harry reading the news about a bridge collapse when Dumbledore (Gambon) suddenly appears and takes him to see an old Hogwarts teacher,Horace Slughorn (Broadbent). He dangles Harry as prize student to lure Slughorn back,and it is revealed that the reason for this is a secret that Slughorn knows about Voldemort,from the time he was a student at Hogwarts.

Draco Malfoy (Felton) is also carrying a secret of his own to school,having been inducted as one of the Death Eaters by the Dark Lord.

This time there’s no fooling around,no classes by Miss Trelawney which leave even Hermione fuming,hardly any Quidditch,no quiet time alone with Hagrid or long walks to Hogsmeade. Dumbledore instead tells Harry to get as close to Slughorn as he can,and at night,gives him a glimpse of memories of his own and others involving Riddle.

However,Hermione and Ron do realise their growing feelings for each other,even as they continue to deny it,while Harry and Ginny Weasley (Wright) grow closer to each other.

While Yates handles the tender romances and little heartbreaks well,as he does the atmosphere of gloom in the persistently dark,bleak corridors of the school,the real sequences where Harry and Dumbledore take on the Death Eaters are surprisingly flat. We can see the danger,but one doesn’t feel the menace. Perhaps this is most true of the scene inside the cave,where Voldemort has hidden one of his Horcruxes – a sequence in the book that lived with you long after you had put it down. Yates barely manages to pull it through.


The screenplay also fails to do real justice to the title,with Harry making no attempt to find out the identity of the Half-Blood Prince. Truthfully that really doesn’t matter much in the film,but to those who love the book,it’s a tale of special worth in the Harry Potter series.

But then again this is a film,trying to be all that the book is,which it can never be. It neither has the luxury of words,nor of time. What it does have aplenty is goodwill,and a cast of characters that has grown with the franchise,bringing with it layers that a series could otherwise never hope to accomplish.


Two actors who continue to revel in the passing of years are Radcliffe and Felton,both playing characters who have uniqueness thrust upon them by circumstances not of their making. Hero Fiennes Tiffin and Frank Dillane have very brief appearances as the young Riddle,but even those encounters are quite disturbing.

With Broadbent,Yates has added to that illustrious cast. Just hear him describe a moment of “the most beautiful magic” he has seen — of a leaf in a bowl that turned into a fish — and you know why what Harry Potter evokes seems so real. He may not have the final flourish,but Yates gives you a glimpse of that magic – the magic of youth,love,belief,kindness,and courage.


CAST: Asia Argento,Michael Madsen,Kelly Lin,Carl Ng
DIRECTORS: Olivier Assayas

Rating: HH1/2
Sex,violence,betrayal and crime,especially when they are all interlinked,do make a heady combination,but even so,these have to be woven around a story that’s more than about them.

However,Boarding Gate has no such aspirations. While it grabs your attention as it begins with the visit by a prostitute to a wealthy,shady businessman,and it is quickly revealed that they had a strange love affair that included violent sex and him sending her to clients to ferret out information,the film spreads its roots to many,many more characters. Rather than building up the sexual tension,it dilutes it with the horizontal dissipation.

Madsen (Kill Bill) as the businessman Miles with few scruples and Argento as the prostitute Sandra who is more confused than used are quite good as they tip-toe around each other,meeting after a separation. What they have between them won’t be understood or approved by others — they barely do it themselves — but both also know it to be a special bond.

She talks about the time some Japanese clients he had sent her to spiked her drink and raped her in turns,and how Miles got turned on hearing of it,but at the same time admits she has never stopped loving him. Miles regrets the episode,adds they have seen worse,and admits for his part that he can’t sleep with other women now.

However,soon too many sub-plots jut into the story,not one of which is fully explored or really matters. Sandra,we discover,is into other dangerous businesses,like drug-running and having an affair with her married and equally shady boss.

While Argento is good,and vulnerable in a strangely fierce way,she doesn’t really have us concerned about what happens to her as she moves between continents and from one character to another. Sandra’s ambition — of buying into a club in Beijing — is also too farfetched to strike a chord. While the ridiculousness of a French girl living in Paris,putting all at stake for this dream of hers,may be deliberate,the film doesn’t evoke enough pathos about her to raise it above that.

First published on: 18-07-2009 at 12:58:09 am
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