Picture Abhi Baki Hai makes mockery of Indian film industry

MUMBAI: Mere Dost Picture Abhi Baki Hai is about a man with dreams of lighting up the silver screen, making his own film some day; cinema is his obsession. While depicting the story of an aspiring filmmaker, the film takes a dig at the film industry and the way it works or rather worked till late last century. The problem is that in doing so it goes overboard and makes the mockery of the 100 year old Indian film industry.

Producer: Narendra Singh.
Director: Rajnish Raj Thakur.
Cast: Suniel Shetty, Udita Goswami, Rajpal Yadav, Shyan Munshi, Shawar Al, Neena Gupta, Om Puri, Rakesh Bedi, Deepak Shirke.

As you watch the film, you don‘t know if it is a take, a satire, a farce on the film industry and even in doing that, its ideas are old fashioned when they talk of making a 25 week jubilee hit or a 100 day runner. Whatever it is, it is juvenile. The fact that the film has taken ages in making and its protagonists are out of contention with the moviegoer is another story.

Sunil Shetty is a film buff in Banaras who bunks classes as a child to watch movies and, when through, he starts a video library, more to satisfy his own urge to watch films from all over rather than as a business. He is always chided by his father, Rajiv Varma, for his ways for, like all middleclass families, he wants his son to take up normal work and settle down. Determined to make his cut as a director, Shetty goes to join the London Institute of Filmmaking to learn the craft. A Hindi film hero that he is, he excels and tops the class! He has also worked on a script, titled Cheekh, while learning direction in London, that of a real life story of a Mumbai investigative journalist who was raped for her adventurous exposes! Hence, instead of staying back in London and making a career there since he is a topper, he returns to India to make his mark. He has a friend in Rajpal Yadav, who claims to have contacts in the film industry but turns out to be just a junior artiste.

Since there is no story as such, the film spends its first part with Shetty knocking the doors of various producers, each an out of work per day artiste like Avtar Gill, Deepak Qazir, Gopi Desai, Dinesh Hingoo; all caricatures with some or the other idiosyncrasy; this is supposed to be funny which it is not in the least. Shetty finally finds a producer in a PRO cum fixer, Rakesh Bedi, who smells his chance to turn a producer with this script. The script is approved by the reigning box office queen, Udita Goswami, who sees a national award for herself with this film. Tenth day into the shooting and Shetty‘s producer, Rakesh Bedi, has vanished. It turns out Bedi was investing underworld don Shivaji Satam‘s money; the film is now taken over by Satam himself who dictates the terms to Shetty, that is still Satam is gunned down which makes Bedi to come out of hiding.

Bedi now wants to give a commercial touch to his film and in comes jubilee hit writer, Om Puri, who mixes and matches sequences as he goes on accommodating each of his star‘s demands. The film is complete finally, it is nowhere near what Shetty had in mind but it is a hit! Shetty has arrived; he joins the bandwagon giving up all his principles of making meaningful films.

So many films have been made on film industry in 1960s and 70s and most have failed to work; Mere Dost Picture Abhi Baaki Hai is the worst film on the workings of film industry ever made. The script is primitive and nowhere close to the workings of the industry and so is director‘s approach. Performance wise, Rakesh Bedi, Om Puri and, to an extent, Rajpal Yadav are watchable; rest just fill the bill.

Mere Dost Picture Abhi Baaki Hai is a lost cause from show one, day one.

Chalo Driver is cute but sans any twists

Producer-Director: Vickrant Mahajan.
Cast: Vickrant Mahajan, Kainaz Motivala, Prem Chopra, Manoj Pahwa, Silky Khanna.

Chalo Driver would seem to be the result of finding new ideas and of being different. The film is about a restless girl, Kainaz Motivala, who is well educated, trendy and intelligent who can‘t settle in one job; she wants to do something challenging. That is when her roommate shows her a newspaper advertisement for the post of a driver; qualifications: graduate, well mannered, well dressed etc. Kainaz is convinced by her roommate that this is the different thing she is in search of, so what if she is a woman?

Kainaz lands up at the bungalow of the advertiser and joins the queue of those seeking the job only to be ridiculed and made fun of. However, she comes face to face with her to be employer, Prem Chopra, who has a couple of conditions for her as well as a hefty pay-packet and a bonus at the end of her term of six months, the minimum tenure she is expected to stay in the job.

Prem Chopra may be her employer but her boss, it turns out, is Chopra‘s grandson, Vickrant Mahajan, a stiff upper lip, upper nose and stiff neck as well. He is a tough nut to crack as a result of which he has sacked 48 drivers in 36 months. He has specifications for everything he expects his driver to know in that at what speed to drive where, setting of air-condition, not talking while driving, no music in car and so on. He tries all his tricks as well as Motivala‘s patience to make her give up her job; reason? He has had a bet with his grandfather that no driver can last with him for six months and Mahajan has never lost a bet.

Motivala decides to turn the tables on Mahajan and talks him into laying a bet with her as per which he would play the driver for two days and ferry her uncle and aunt around on sightseeing in Delhi. In the process Mahajan not only learns how unreasonable he has been with his drivers including Motivala but also falls in love with her.

Chalo Driver, a 93 minute fare, can be termed a cute theme but is made of a linear story sans any twists. Music is okay.

Chalo Driver lacks grossly on face value and promotion and has found no audience at most cinemas for its opening shows.

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