Teri Meri Kahaani is two love stories too many

MUMBAI: As the tagline hints, Teri Meri Kahaani is made of three love stories spread over a century. All three are love at first sight with the same lead pair, Shahid Kapoor and Priyanka Chopra playing the lovers.

The three stories happen during different eras and backdrops. The first is in 1960, the second one is contemporary and takes place in 2012, while the last one takes place in 1910; the logic, if any, behind the order of the stories is not explained and it is the choice of placing the third story that weighs heavily against the otherwise average product.

The first story is more like a fantasy love story in the 1960s. On a train journey from Poona to Mumbai, Shahid Kapoor boards a running train. The compartment that he boards has four berths, all of which are booked exclusively for the use of Priyanka Chopra. She is a film star and flashes an issue of Filmfare featuring her on the cover to make her point. She wants Shahid to be kicked out but he expresses his helplessness as the train is already running. The train is nothing like one has ever seen in India and there seem to be no stops between Poona and Mumbai! By the time they reach Mumbai, Priyanka Chopra is besotted with Shahid and craves his presence every moment from then on.

What sours the romance is the third person, Prachi Desai, a girl sharing same accommodation as Shahid but in the opposite room. Not only has she also fallen for Shahid, but she happens to be a close friend of Priyanka. There is no apparent reason but nobody seeks an explanation and the romance is over.

The second takes place in 2012 in UK. Shahid Kapoor has a live in girlfriend, Neha Sharma. Her usual problem is that Shahid has no time for her between his studies and his job. She fights with him and calls it quits. A while later, Shahid bumps into Priyanka Chopra, they both drop their belongings including cell phones and in a misunderstanding, she thinks Shahid has stolen her cell phone on the pretext of bumping into her and gets him put behind bars. She soon realises that the phones were switched and she had Shahid‘s phone instead. Apologies later, the duo is celebrating since it is also Shahid‘s birthday. Love has already happened. What follows are SMSes galore and the next meeting, which Neha Sharma decides to wreck by forwarding Shahid‘s personal pictures with her. Priyanka Chopra is offended because within hours of breaking off with Sharma, Shahid had fallen in love with her. That is not a done thing according to her morals.

The romance is curtailed. The fact that Shahid is named Krish, Priyanka is Radha and Neha Sharma is called Meera is meant to be funny!

The third romance is in a place called Sargodha near Lahore in 1910. Shahid is Javed, a Muslim whose whole-time occupation is chasing and bedding girls. This time he has scored with the daughter of a British officer; while he is closeted with her, her father turns up. As a result, Shahid is chased by policemen and while running from them, he bumps into Priyanka. She is a Sikh freedom fighter‘s daughter named Aradhana. Shahid wants her to be his by any means. To impress her father, Surendra Pal, Shahid joins a freedom march only to run away when police start laathi charge. He has lost his respect in the eyes of Aradhana and to win her back, he plays a prank on a British police officer and is sent to jail. The jail has laws convenient to prisoners: women are allowed to visit, dance and make merry with the inmates! When he gets out of jail, Priyanka‘s father has already married her off. Shahid decides to tie the knot too if only to please his father.

It is time to tie the loose ends, finish the love stories on happy notes and all three Shahids are duly united with their respective Priyankas.

To choose a period film is a tricky business and to do so without proper cause is even worse. Justifying the atmosphere and feel of an era gone by is a tough job. In the first story, the director has taken the viewers for granted, neither the train nor the stations nor Mumbai of 1960 are anywhere close. The 2012 story passes muster on this count. However, the story set in 1910 is poorly executed and the sets are patchy and shoddy. Generally too, the direction is just about average. Placing the 1910 story at the end was not wise. The film has some good tunes in Mukhtasar… and Jabse mere dilko….. Shahid Kapoor‘s one liners are witty.

While the chemistry between Shahid and Priyanka does not create magic, Shahid‘s charm and natural performance see him through. Priyanka Chopra manages with her usual repertoire of expressions. Of the rest, Vrajesh Hirjee and Prachi Desai are good and Neha Sharma is okay.

Teri Meri Kahaani is two love stories too many, all told without much effect. The emotion quotient is nil.

Having opened to tepid response, the film will find its high price tag too much to justify.

Gangs Of Wasseypur scores only on the performance front

Gangs of Wasseypur, like so many recent films, highlight a local story. This seems to be a trend among new generation filmmakers in Mumbai. Unlike the earlier filmmakers who came from many parts of India but merged into mainstream filmmaking, the new lot is staying away from the mainstream commercial format. They dabble in stories they grew up with or were privy to.

Gangs of Wasseypur takes a story about rivalries in a small town called Wasseypur, which, over a period, changed its parent state few times and is located near the coal mining hub of India, Dhanbad. The birth of gangsterism is credited to legendary outlaw, Sultana Daku (who has been a subject of a couple of Hindi films earlier) notwithstanding the fact that Sultana was a dacoit, not a gangster, who looted train wagons of goods transported by the British rulers of India.

Sultana was repentant of his past and did not want his sons to take to the same life as his. Contrary to that, Gangs of Wasseypur is about dynastical enmities between two Muslim clans: Khans (Pathans) and Quereshis (butchers).

There is a third angle to the story about the local bahubali/warlord and politicians, Ramadhir Singh (Tigmanshu Dhulia) whose life has been made miserable by the Khans, who plays Quereshis against them.

The film begins with a prologue showing Quereshis ambushing the house of Khans and leaving convinced they have killed all of them. While that prologue will matter more in the second part of the film, here it creates the groundwork to take you back to 1941, the origin of the crimes and enmities.

Shahid Khan (Jaideep Ahlawat) has picked up where Sultana Daku left off. He is a dreaded train robber who has mended his ways and started working as coalmine labour at a mine owned by Ranbir Singh.

When Shahid Khan‘s wife is dying during a child delivery, the miners‘ muscleman, who treats these labourers like slaves, does not allow him to leave and run to her rescue. When he manages to reach, it is too late and he has lost his wife and is left with a new-born baby in his arms. He kills the miner‘s muscleman and at the same time, also earns the same job for himself. However, Shahid Khan is an ambitious as well as a ruthless man. He soon expects to kill Ramadhir Singh and take his place as the mine owner. His ambition causes him his life and almost that of his tiny son and cousin but they manage to run away in the nick of time.

Shahid Khan‘s son grows up to be Sardar (Manoj Bajpayee) and all the prologues and preambles later; this is what Part I of Gangs of Wasseypur is all about: the life and times of Sardar. Sardar is now grown up, told of the cause of his father‘s death and initiated into violence for revenge. He decides to play games with Ramadhir Singh and humiliate him and his MLA son on regular basis.

The enmity between Khans and Quereshis dates back to Sultana Daku days when a Quereshi dared to infringe on Sultana‘s wagon-breaking monopoly and looted some food grain wagons. He paid for this with his life and the Khans and Quereshis have never seen eye to eye ever since! So what if the story of revenge is between Khans and Quereshis, Sardar Khan is back in Wasseypur to avenge his father‘s death and his enmity is with Ramadhir Singh. The Quereshis are just silent spectators and haters of Sardar Khan until one day they are provoked into action by Ramdhir Singh, aided and armed amply with automatic guns and let loose on Khans.

Sardar Khan‘s aim is to avenge his father‘s death and kill Ramadhir Singh but lesser priorities take over and soon he is into one wife (Richa Chadha) than whoring, and then another wife, a Bengali maid, Reema Sen, as well as plundering and looting.

He follows the trends of American Italian mafia except that he is neither as brainy nor as resourceful. That means no drugs, no casinos, and no prostitution. He just takes over the local lake and its fishing monopoly! Meanwhile, the much humiliated Ramadhir Singh, who can‘t cope with Sardar Khan alone, seeks the help of age-old enemies, the Querishis and seeks revenge through proxy. Sardar Khan is betrayed and assumed dead even while he hitches a hike on a cycle cart and the rest is left for Part II.

For now, Sardar, the Khan, has been routed.

Gangs of Wasseypur aspires to be an Indian Godfather, but unlike the old classic, it has no relevance to the whole of India in that it is purely a local folk. Director Anurag Kashyap has shot the film as if for the History Channel with having an editor on the roll only to delete NG shots. For most parts, it is not a regular film but a straightforward account. The film is the director‘s dream and obsession and an editor is, at best, a nuisance. Technically and production-values wise, the film is shoddy. Songs in the background serve little purpose. The background score is inconsistent and often fails to match the events on screen.

Where Gangs of Wasseypur really scores is on the performance front. The film has some excellent portrayals and the one to lead the gang is Richa Chadha as Najma, Sardar Khan‘s first wife, followed by Tigmanshu Dhulia, who as the conniving ex-strongman is subdued yet effective. Manoj Bajpayee needs to get out of his skin and play the character instead of playing himself.

Gangs Of Wasseypur is replete with gore, violence and foul words which cuts out a huge part of its audience. The film‘s prospects thus depend on single screens. The film‘s best chances are in Eastern UP and Jharkhand and to some extent in Bihar.

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