Race 2: Fast, crisp and gripping

MUMBAI: Race 2 is a film about Indian criminals abroad and more than a race, it is the game of one-upmanship between two criminals. Just when major films were going desi with their content and locations, Race 2 takes to the trend of a few years back when makers sought foreign locations. Race 2 had to follow the Race to a certain extent.

Producers: Ramesh S Taurani, Ronnie Screwvala, Siddharth Roy Kapur. 

Directors: Abbas - Mustan.

Cast: Saif Ali Khan, John Abraham, Anil Kapoor, Aditya Panscholi, Deepika Padukone, Jacqueline Fernandez, Ameesha Patel, Rajesh Khattar.

The turf is ruled by all Indian players, each wanting to be the best. Saif Ali Khan continues from where he left off in Race, John Abraham replaces Akshaye Khanna and is pitted against Khan in the game of one-upmanship. The ex cop, Anil Kapoor, is now the jack in the pack accompanied by his new assistant, Ameesha Patel, while Aditya Pancholi is the super don. Abraham, a street fighter has raked in millions with his nefarious activities with much help from his sister, Deepika Padukone. For girlfriend, he has Jacqueline Fernandez.

Khan‘s pregnant girlfriend, Bipasha Basu, has been killed by Abraham and he has sworn to avenge her death by destroying Abraham financially and literally, ridding him of his five casinos and villa and bring him on streets. What better way to ruin someone then to befriend him? So both become friends while being very wary of each other, both know the purpose of the friendship and each thinks he is one step ahead. Sending wired moles and planting bombs is all a part of the game. Nobody trusts anybody, least of all Abraham who would even kill his sister, Padukone, to usurp her share of the loot. To keep the pace of the film fast, there are car bombs and chases and all kind of action that the writer and directors can cram in.

While the heroes play their games, Kapoor and Patel provide some lighter moments with the latter having one track mind, that of seducing Kapoor, who gets his high from fruits, always munching on them. Their exchanges are always suggestive and full of sexual innuendoes. While Kapoor works on a piece of pie from the warring heroes enter Aditya Pancholi, a don no one dare mess with.

Khan decides to make his killer move, a heist on the Church in Turin to steal the shroud of Turin, the burial cloth of Lord Jesus which has been stored in a high security zone. Abraham would buy it with plans to sell it off to Panscholi. It is a tough proposition and, as Panscholi puts it, ‘forget real life, I have not even seen the idea of pulling such a stunt in a Hollywood film‘. But one can count on our script writers to put it on a platter and deliver it. The mission is easily accomplished. It is time to exchange wares against cash. Khan is offered a drink laced with poison to celebrate the success of his mission, left to die as Abraham proceeds to complete his deal with Pancholi. But, someone has changed sides again and Khan lives to take on Abraham in an action filled plane ride.

The shroud sold to Panscholi, it turns out, is an ordinary piece of cloth printed to look like the original. Abraham‘s wealth is sacrificed at the altar of the don. Yes, also his girlfriend, Fernandez chooses to follow wealth and villa and goes with Panscholi. Abraham promises to get even in Race 3!

Though Race 2 offers no novelties, the way it is woven into the film keeps the goings on watchable without dull moments. Yes, music does bring those lulls since songs are just loud sans melody or foot tapping kind. Direction is usual Abbas Mustan style with finesse and fast pace but the second half however loses steam. They are amply aided by the action coordinator. Editing is crisp. Locations are well picturised. Dialogue, when witty, is good.

The one-upmanship looks plausible because Khan and Abraham make it so; both are sincere in their roles. Kapoor helps add some star value while Panscholi is as usual. Padukone as the plotter is good. Fernandez adds oomph. Patel is okay as a duh. Bipasha Basu plays a cameo.

Race 2 has had an opportune release week of Eid, followed by Republic Day Holiday and a Sunday to crown the weekend. The entertainment starved public has responded favourably (the last one being Dabangg2 five weeks back). Hence having opened well, the film will do well sans a strong opposition for the next two weeks.

Akaash Vaani: Loose screenplay and insipid music add to woes

Producers: Kumar Mangat Pathak, Abhishek Pathak.

Director: Luv Ranjan.

Cast: Kartik Tiwar, Nushrat Bharucha, Sunny Singh Nijjar, Sana Shaikh, Gautam Mehra, Kiran Kumar, Mahesh Thakur, Prachi Shah.

Akaash Vaani is a love story with new faces; they have worked at times with some of them even going to launch stars‘ careers and being commercially successful. With high costs of production and promotions, this is a chance worth taking, especially if the banner is established and has the capacity to go it alone from production to distribution.

Kartik Tiwari (Akaash) from Chandigarh and Nushrat Bharucha (Vani) from Dehradun join a Delhi college. Both are poles apart but since opposites attract, love happens. Over the next three years in college, their love gets stronger; when it is time to part at the end of the college, Tiwari proceeds to the US to pursue higher studies while Bharucha returns to Dehradun to attend her sister‘s wedding and, later, study for her post-grad.

Bharucha‘s family is traditional and her father, Kiran Kumar, lives a life very conscious of ‘samaj and padosi‘ and what they think! What worse can happen to a man like him when his daughter, whose wedding rituals are on, vanishes leaving only a note. She has eloped with the one she loved. Kumar is devastated, breaks down. He does all the crying and sobbing on behalf of his entire family. Whatever her sister did, it puts paid to Bharucha‘s intention of taking her parents into confidence about her love for Tiwari.

Worried that his younger daughter, Bharucha, may also do something similar, he fixes her match for an instant marriage. After all, parents always have a nice boy in mind for their girls. Bharucha puts up no resistance, calls up Tiwari to end their romance, goes ahead and ties the knot. To become a housewife, as that is what her husband said he wanted her to be, her romance has been sacrificed. But the husband is a sadist who never leaves Bharucha at ease and finds faults with her on regular basis. This is made amply clear so that one knows that she has married the villain under pressure from her family instead of the hero.

The film‘s tagline says, "Love gets a second chance". The girl gets a chance to visit Delhi while her husband is away for a week. This also happens to be the time of her college alumni meet. The star-crossed lovers, Tiwari and Bharucha, come face to face again. The romance is rekindled. Tiwari whisks Bharucha off to the kind of places where they had dreamt of spending their honeymoon.

The lovers are back together and it is time for the final showdown, which turns out to be rather tame.

Akaash Vani is a slow winding process spread over 140 minutes without any twists or turns. It takes an old fashioned route to a modern day love story. What is modern about it is that the girl is married and still takes time off to go with her college lover and finally decides to reject her husband.

Akaash Vani has a very loose screenplay with little substance. The artistes are new and music, a must in a love story, is lacking. There is not a single lip sync song while the couple romances. Bharucha, on whom the story and its pathos rest, is ineffective. Tiwari is cute, as they say about a chocolate hero, but the trends indicate otherwise. Kumar sobbing constantly is silly. Of the rest, Sona Singh is good while Sunny Singh Nijjar is fair.

Akaash Vani is not working. 

Main Krishna Hoon (Part Animation): Poorly conceived and ineffectual

Producers: Nandan Mahto, Promila Hunter.

Direction: Rajiv S Ruia.

Cast: Juhi Chawla, Paresh Ganatra, Rajneesh Duggal, Nameet Shah (Katrina Kaif, Hrithik Roshan in cameos.)

Main Krishna Hoon is a live animation film designed to attract children. It follows the same line as the director‘s earlier film, My Friend Ganesha. That is to say the God children can identify with, in this case Bal Krishna, befriending a young boy to help him overcome his adversities and to help him come to terms with the fact that he is an orphan.

Juhi Chawla is Kantaben who, aided by Paresh Ganatra, runs Ashray, an orphanage in Gujarat. The orphanage sustains by supplying papads and expects no aid from donors. One rainy night reminiscent of the Krishna Janmashtami night, a tiny tot is left in her shelter home in a plastic drum. It happens to be the night Krishna was born according to the myths. The child is aptly named Krishna.

Barren couples often visit Ashray to adopt a child. One such couple refuses to adopt Krishna because he suffers from bouts of epilepsy. The next time a couple visits to adopt a child, the fact of Krishna‘s ailment is hidden from them on Ganatra‘s advice. The couple take Krishna home but they soon return after he suffers an attack. Krishna has been pining to have his own mother and father since he visited a garden where every parent is doting on their children. (This is a rather ridiculous scene.)

Next, this child Krishna lands up at a Krishna temple and invokes the Lord. Soon the God Krishna appears and both become friends. The rest is predictable as the Lord helps Krishna get over his troubles as well as to help him fight kalyug villains. Finally, the prospective adoptive child Krishna adopts Chawla as his mother and father both.

Main Krishna Hoon is a poorly conceived film with amateurish treatment. Besides Juhi Chawla, the film has cameos by Katrina Kaif and Hrithik Roshan. These are the only positives in the film but not enough to salvage it.

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