Movies

Aiyyaa: An insult to audience's intelligence

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MUMBAI: Aiyyaa stars Rani Mukerji as the main draw when she seemed to be fading out of memory. Still this can‘t be called a woman-oriented film because for the first 45 minutes, neither the film nor Rani Mukerji shows any definite orientation. She dreams all the time and in her dreams she is either aping Madhuri Dixit or Sridevi, singing and dancing to their hit romantic numbers. You think this woman is aspiring to be a film star.

Rani Mukerji‘s parents are trying to get her married to a man of their choice but being a romantic she wants to fall in love first and marry the guy she loves. A matrimonial classified has been issued in a local paper and everyday she is paraded before a new suitor as her mother keeps repeating her well rehearsed speech about her daughter‘s virtues. Finally, a suitor says yes and a date is finalised for the betrothal.

But Mukerji has started chasing an art student, Prithviraj, who emanates fragrance from his clothes. Yet, it is not a film plugging one of those cheap perfume sprays advertised on TV where half a dozen women get ecstatic and chase a man using one such spray.

Inspired from one part, Lagnaachya Vayachi Mulgi (A Bride To Be), of a three part Marathi movie, Gandha, Aiyyaa is the story of a typically Marathi girl Mukerji, who, having been drawn by the fragrant lad, falls in love with him at the very first smell of him. Yet she never gathers the courage to tell him for two reasons: the first is that he is a very reserved and aloof guy who is never seen talking with anyone and, second, because of her typical Marathi middleclass upbringing where she may dream all she wants but cant utter ‘I love you‘. There are also stories spun around him: that he is a drunkard, heavily into drugs and has squandered his father‘s riches on his vices.

The talk around him makes Prithviraj even more mystical for Mukerji and hence more determined to win him over. The first half of the film is a total drain and so is most of second part till last 20 minutes or so when the engagement is due to take place.

verything is in place, including the suitor, but the girl is missing. She is doing her favourite thing, stalking Prithviraj. After a marathon 148 minutes, the boy opens his mouth, professes his interest in Mukerji and the last scene of engagement with new suitor in place culminates with a jamboree in a typical Marathi style.

Aiyyaa has a poor premise with Mukerji chasing a boy like a teenager and trying to entertain by making all sorts of faces or dancing in traditional Marathi outfits. If the script and screenplay are poor, the direction is amateurish. This Hindi film goes into Marathi or Tamil diatribes at will, adding to the viewers‘ exasperation. The only one with some presence in the film, thanks to his limited dialogue, is Prithviraj.

Aiyyaa is an insult to a viewer‘s intelligence.

Bhoot Returns: Varma‘s latest dud

When stars don‘t care to work with a director, the only alternative left is to cast new faces or try to dig out over the hill stars faded from memory. Since such names don‘t sell, there are budget constraints. However, these are minor hindrances if you have a solid script which, even if one does not dig too far back, has been proved over and over by films such as The Dirty Picture, Kahaani, Vicky Donor, OMG Oh My God! and English Vinglish.

Bhoot Returns has none of the above: no story, no coherent script, no stars worth spending high admission rates on. So director Ram Gopal Varma arms himself with his earlier media-endorsed hit Bhoot (which in reality was a loser in most circuits), loud background sound and 3-D effects to lure in the audience.

A posh house is vacated by previous tenants without a warning and they have vanished into thin air. The owner, staying somewhere abroad, asks his agent to find new tenants. The new tenants are Manisha Koirala, Chekravarthy and their two children, a daughter and a son. In case these four fall short in filling the screen pace, in comes Madhu Shalini playing Chekravarthy‘s sister. There is also a domestic servant who can be the first sacrificial lamb to establish the presence of a ghost in the house.

Uncanny things start happening in the house at night. Usually these are just eerie sounds and loud knocking on the main door, which, according to the convenience of the director, is sometimes on the ground floor and at others on the mezzanine. Most of the scaring that happens is done by the three, Chekravarthy, Koirala and Shalini, all three out in the dark to check what is happening and bumping into each other as loud background music blares to help them scare each other but never the viewer. This helps the film linger on for 80 of its 90 minute duration as each dull scene goes on and on.

The film did not really need 3-D because nothing jumps out of the screen to scare or involve the audience. In the event, the director indulges and uses the medium to shoot almost all his scenes from behind an object like a fan swirling above or a tree or a drawing room showpiece. His indulgence makes the performers secondary; even while the three are out in the open space discussing the odd happenings; the shot is through some leaves. Who cares what the actors are talking or what their expressions are!

Shot on one location of a bungalow, with just five characters in the cast, Bhoot Returns is a cheap product sure, but so poor as to not even assure the return of that small budget.

Makkhi: An interesting watch

When a commercially successful director attempts a different film to prove that it is not stars but the idea and its execution that finally work, the advantage is that, subconsciously, he still aims at the box office. S S Rajamouli, when taunted that he depended on stars for box office success, decided to take recourse to a story his father had told him 16 years back and came up with Eega, a Telugu film, which was later dubbed in Tamil as Naane and in Malayalam as Eecha. Together, they are reported to have grossed over 125 crore with the original version being the best among all three so far. The Hindi dubbed version now seeks acceptance from the Hindi film audience.

Makkhi is a live-action animation film, which is an arduous task in itself and all the effort would be a waste if the film did not have a convincing story to tell.

Samantha Ruth is a social worker staying with her bhabhi and absentee brother (working in Dubai). Staying in a house opposite her is a man called Nani, who has been trying to woo her for two years. She also comes to like him and finally decides to accept his friendship and later his love. Her organization, which depends mainly on donations and contributions from others, is in dire need of cash. On a suggestion, she decides to call on the big-time builder, Sudeep, who has a glad eye for pretty girls and a boast that no girl whom he wanted has ever turned him down.

Sudeep is reluctant to meet any donation-seeker first but when he catches sight of Samantha and sees how pretty she is, he turns generous and immediately writes a cheque of 15 lakh for her organization. Having done that, Sudeep soon starts finding reasons to see Samantha and seduce her only to realize that even when she was with him, her eyes were on Nani, who never lets her out of his sight. Sudeep is outraged at not only being rejected by a girl but that too for the sake of an ordinary lad. He kills Nani to get him out of his way. Nani, while dying, promises he would kill Sudeep if he as much as looked at Samantha.

True to his word, Nani is back within 10 days, born again is a common fly- Makkhi. Being born as Makkhi, the avenging bit is a bit tricky for Nani. His priorities are twofold; one to somehow convey to Samantha that he is Nani and here to protect her as well as to avenge his own death and second to let Sudeep know that is Nani reborn as a fly and is here with an agenda to kill him. He does both, in a way which looks convincing to the viewer and which in turn keeps audience interest alive. While once almost killing Sudeep in a car crash, Makkhi drives his killer crazy with rage. Sudeep resorts to desperate and irrational acts harming his business as well as sanity. Samantha now knows Makkhi is Nani and supports him in his revenge.

The main hero of Makkhi is its animation and special effects, both executed with finesse and which the villain Sudeep, effectively sinister and maniacal that he is, can‘t triumph against. A hero is only as strong as a film‘s villain is and, to his credit, Sudeep‘s villainy makes the hero of the film, technique, laudable. Samantha is effectively charming. Nani in a brief role is good. All credit to S S Rajamouli for an immensely watchable film with a common house fly as its main protagonist. Background score and cinematography are in keeping with top standards.

However, the street publicity campaign with posters of a fly could have been avoided since it is quite a put off for many.

Makkhi is a slow opener but worth watching and critical acclaim and word of mouth is the only way it can pick up some momentum at the box office.

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