Friday, December 29, 2006


Karan Johar captured New York quite well in his films Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna and Kal Ho Naa Ho.
Now, it's Vipul Shah's turn to show London in a brilliant light. The director has shot his latest film Namaste London in the scenic city.
The film stars his favourite actor Akshay Kumar (who starred in Shah's earlier films Waqt: The Race Against Time and Aankhen as well) and Katrina Kaif.


Karan Johar captured New York quite well in his films Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna and Kal Ho Naa Ho.
Now, it's Vipul Shah's turn to show London in a brilliant light. The director has shot his latest film Namaste London in the scenic city.
The film stars his favourite actor Akshay Kumar (who starred in Shah's earlier films Waqt: The Race Against Time and Aankhen as well) and Katrina Kaif.

Monday, December 25, 2006


The project includes six interrelated water and sanitation activities that provide a safe supply of water for good sanitation and hygiene. It works in partnership with nine organizations
The project will provide 250 poor families affected by HIV/AIDS in Moi’s Bridge, Kenya, with basic necessities: nutritional foods, antiretrovirals, training, medical checkups and a source of income.
IMC offers primary health care, training, economic opportunity, and education to women in Burundi; these combined efforts prevent the double-edged sword of disease and malnutrition


Film: Naksha
Starring: Sunny Deol, Viveik Oberoi, Sameera Reddy, Jackie Shroff
Director: Sachin Bajaj
Rating: *

A lot of actors here ham through this adventurous muddle that looks like Steven's Spielberg's "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom".

Admittedly, Sunny Deol in his comeback vehicle makes an endearing Indiana Jones. Hat in place, grin in sight, Deol is gloriously goofy bringing in references to his legendary dad Dharmendra in a sizzled (but ear-unfriendly) number, playing against Viveik Oberoi's earnest but strained step-sibling.

Alas, the duo never complement each other.

Remember Milan Luthria's "Kachche Dhaage" where Ajay Devgan and Saif Ali Khan went on a rugged adventure and discovered a brotherly bonding?

That sense of growing closeness completely eludes Deol and Oberoi...or for that matter Oberoi and his romantic lead Sameera Reddy who's on for a rugged jaunt for no seeming reason except to add oomph to the bulging macho quotient.

The screenplay by Milap Zaveri and Tushar Hiranandani apportions witticisms like plastic fruits on real trees.

The eye-catching outdoor locations are used to inviting effect by cinematographer Vijay Arora who spans through the panoramic locales with fruity relish.

But the characters are as over-the-top and uni-dimensional as electronic toys in an upmarket departmental store where the best items have been swept away at a summer bonanza sale.

What remains are the remnants of a dreadful day. And there are continuity lapses like Oberoi's off-and-on stubble that brings shame to the film's claims of being a true adventure story.

And the humour is often of the most dreadful variety. There's a particularly obnoxious queer-funny sequence where handcuffed chotte-bhai Oberoi wants his brother Sunny Deol to help him pee in the wilderness.

Forget the ecological desecration. The absolute lack of good taste stymies the flow of adventure, like the scene where the villain's moll stands speechlessly in semi-naked splendour only to burst into a song about "nashaa nashaa"...or was it naqsha naqsha?

Too numbed to react to the film's self-conscious paciness, you still applaud the debutant director for his enterprising spirit.

When was the last time you saw a children's adventure story told with loads of sporty chutzpah?

This isn't quite the ultimate adventure story that Spielberg would have made. But "Naqsha" has an interesting look and feel too it. The feel however is not even skin-deep. It's just stilted and shallow.


Film: "Vivah"
Cast: Shahid Kapur, Amrita Rao, Anupam Kher, Alok Nath, Seema Biswas, Samir Soni
Director: Sooraj Barjatya
Rating: ***

Sooraj Barjatya rectifies all the mistakes he made in his first two historic hits "Maine Pyar Kiya" and "Hum Aapke Hain Koun". The sweet coyness and almost-unbearable bonhomie of his earlier films are replaced by a far more fluent and fertile imagination in "Vivah" which nurtures Barjatya's idealistic, almost utopian view of a joint family.

Gone is the amateurish home-video feel to Barjatya's earlier familial epics. Yes, there's plenty of singing but blessedly little dancing in the long but satisfying drama of domesticated courtship.

The simple charm of the boy-meets-girl story is laced with untold moments of absolute enchantment.

In his typical fashion, Barjatya weaves together special moments between the couple as they move in and out of the domestic flock. Thankfully the joint family is kept at a far more manageable level here than in his earlier movies.

There are no irksome broods of uncles and aunts who fill up screen space and the couple in love gets ample breathing space to let their mutual feelings grow in leisurely grace.

The old-world charm of an arranged marriage is depicted well by the lead pair (Shahid and Amrita) who go through the mellow motions of falling in love similar to the adventure of an unexplored journey.

The external detailing of a small dusty town near Delhi is done skilfully - the crowded gullies, urchins running after Prem's (Shahid) car when he visits his in-laws-to-be, the sweet seller's shop and the night-time bustle compounded by distant sounds of old Hindi film songs. Art director Sanjay Dhabade's work is excellent.

The director's sincerity of purpose shines through in every shot of the crowded but genial gully. Alok Nath has a perennial warm smile towards his surrogate daughter Poonam (Amrita) and Seema Biswas does the balancing act between a shrewd step-mom and a practical mother.

The enchanting relations between these characters, with a chirpy little sister (newcomer Amrita Prakash) thrown in for sisterly solidarity, are delightful.

But there's more here. Barjatya takes hold of all the strands of bustling emotions and harnesses it into a narrative that is polished and absorbing.

Every component of his vision holds together with remarkable fluency. The dialogues are in fluent but understandable Hindi and talk about values that seem to have been lost in the melee of ruthless ambitions in big cities.

The film takes us back to small pleasures like the bride and bridegroom's families sleeping on the floor, playing games together, their friendly banter and mutual respect.

But an unholy fire creates a crisis in the last half-hour. That's when Sooraj Barjatya shows effectually how much he has matured as a creative artist.

The sequence where Prem marries Poonam as she struggles between life and death in her hospital bed is an expression of the purest form of romance. The drama at the end is handled with tremendous care.

"Vivah" is about the sanctity of marriage and the importance of commitment between two individuals. Yes, the central romance is naively visualised. But the sneaked-in romantic moments between the to-be-married couple and their stubborn resistance to modern courtship games makes you crave for the idealism that Barjatya portrays.

There is no physical intimacy between the two beyond a touch and no e-mail or mobile connectivity.

"Vivah" is a delicately structured romance between a couple that decides to fall in love after their marriage has been decided by their parents. The supporting cast led by Anupam Kher and Alok Nath as loving and amicable fathers-in-law adds to the central romance.

The film predictably concludes with the marriage and the groom, on the wedding night, tells his new bride who suffers from burn injuries: "Come let me do your dressing."


Cast: Amitabh Bachchan, Hema Malini, Rani Mukherjee, Salman Khan, John Abraham, Om Puri, Sarika
Director: Ravi Chopra
Rating: * 1/2

When you have everything going for you, including a top star-cast and a powerful socially relevant theme, it isn't easy to mess things up. But "Baabul" does exactly that.

Just why or how director Ravi Chopra manages to make a monumental mess out of a potentially explosive drama is a matter worthy of an inquiry commission.

Years ago Raj Kapoor had cast Padmini Kolhapure as a carefree girl who's transformed into a weeping widow in "Prem Rog". She finally marries her beloved from the past amidst a tumult of societal protest.

Writer Achala Nagar adopts the same framework but she forgets that times have changed and widow remarriage isn't quite the burning issue it used to be two decades ago, especially in the case of modern families like the one shown in this film.

The first half of the film, where Avinash (Salman Khan) marries Mili (Rani Mukerji), is replete with loud celebratory songs. The choreography, artwork and cinematography are more suited to the social dramas of the 1960s than a contemporary work.

It's shocking to see how clumsily Ravi Chopra handles the familial inter-relationships and how much of his inspiration comes from tried-and-tested cinema.

The buddy-buddy bonding between dad Amitabh Bachchan and son Khan has been done in films as diverse as Vipul Shah's "Waqt" and Karan Johar's "Kabhi Alvidaa Na Kehna", not to forget Yash Chopra's "Kabhi Kabhie" in a much earlier decade.

It's in the second-half when Bachchan goes husband-hunting for his widowed daughter-in-law that the director gets a grip on the main drama. It may not be too late to salvage the widow's wrecked domesticity but it's certainly too late to save the film from its catastrophic conventional drama.

"Baabul" is filled with superfluous scenes of family bonding, seen mainly through clumsily choreographed songs. The characters are too busy posing and preening to get under the skin of the roles.

Bachchan and Rani, however, make a genuine effort to light a spark in the dark. There are flashes of genuine drama between the two after Avinash's death but moments of tragic resonance are often frittered away in pursuit of glamour.

Ravi Chopra's previous film "Baghban", about old age and negligence, worked mainly because of the superb chemistry between the lead pair - Bachchan and Hema Malini.

In "Baabul", one feels Bachchan and Hema Malini are being forced to fake the couple's camaraderie. Their singing and dancing fails to recreate their "Baghban" magic.

As for Nagar's dialogues - it's been a while since we heard anyone in a mainstream Hindi film scream, "Ruko ... yeh shaadi nahin ho sakti!". That's what poor Om Puri, playing Bachchan's super-conservative brother, is reduced to doing.

Puri should consider himself to be lucky. At least he gets to speak. Some of the supporting cast, including Sarika who plays a silently suffering widow, barely get to open their mouth in this otherwise over-talkative film.

Salman and John, as the two men in the leading lady's life, are cocky and self-conscious respectively. The clothes they wear, the songs they sing and the dialogues they mouth could probably be held responsible.

The onus of sustaining the drama falls entirely on Bachchan and Rani. The latter's growth as an actor since Sanjay Bhansali's "Black" has been steady and remarkable. Rani proves that she is far ahead of her contemporaries despite the film's basic flaws. If you must watch the film, watch it for Rani!