Commando 2: The Black Money Trail...On a cold trail!

MUMBAI: Vidyut Jammwal is India’s answer to Hollywood actor Sylvester Stallone and his Rambo series which started in 1982 withFirst Blood. Jammwal made his debut in Hindi films with Force (2011). Since then, he has done half a dozen action Hindi films, a genre he is comfortable with.

When a film is made around the protagonist’s specialty rather than a theme, one tends to stitch a story around him. And if your hero happens to be one without mass following, it is tough to get a decent opening. Jammwal has yet to arrive or make an image for himself.

Commando 2 is a sequel, in the Hindi filmmaking parlance. The first one was no commercial trailblazer so the idea was to use the title and give an identity to Jammwal.  An accomplished action actor demonstrates his abilities in his first film and so making a mark in the sequel becomes difficult.

There are some high profile tycoons, represented by Satish Kaushik, who have stashed their monies in foreign banks. The monies are routed through one Vicky Chaddha. A new regime runs the government now and it wants to live up to its promise of bringing all this money back and into the accounts of poor farmers – déjà vu?

A team is formed which includes Jammwal, Freddy Daruwala, Adah Sharma and Sumit Gulati, the last being a computer wizard. They are supposed to trace Vicky and bring him back to India so that all the data is made available to the government.

There are some twists and turns as Suhail Nayyar, the son of a minister, Shefali Shah, is also involved in stashing money abroad. The other twist is about the real identity of Vicky Chaddha. As expected, the film starts with establishing the specialties of Jammwal as he tackles a building full of armed men protecting the person who knows the real Vicky and he can be found.

All this keeps the film reasonably interesting till the interval. The second half tries to cram in too much along with a lot of computer mumbo jumbo which fails to take the audience along. And once the real Vicky is in sight, it is more like a game of chor-police and outsmarting each other.

The script is convoluted and the viewer is supposed to accept many things sans logic. Direction by Deven Bhojani, who has earlier directed TV serials, is fairly good. Cinematography captures the scenic outdoors of Bangkok as well as the action sequences ably giving the film a certain finesse.  The song and dance routine is wisely avoided in this film. Action is good though stretched a couple of times. Editing is average as a further 10 to 12 minutes could easily have been chopped off.

Vidyut Jammwal excels in action sequences as expected. Adah is passable, her street brand dialogue delivery is tough to catch. Esha Gupta lives up to her role very well. Satish Kaushik, Shefali Shah, Adil Hussain, Suhail Nayyar, Sumit Gulati and Anjum Rajabali are okay in support.

Commando 2: The Black Money Trail is the kind of film meant for B List multiplexes and single screens.

Producer: Vipul Amritlal Shah.

Director: Deven Bhojani

Cast: Vidyut Jamwal, Adah Sharma, Freddy Daruwala, Suhail Nayyar, Thakur Anoop Singh, Shefali Shah, Adil Hussain

Jeena Isi Ka Naam Hai...........a lesson in suffering a movie!

Jeena Isi Ka Naam Hai comes across as a kind of biography but one does not know whose! Probably it is somebody known to the makers. But as it turns out, the film is an adaptation of the book My Little Heaven, written by the film’s producer, Purnima Mead. The story tries to blend the primitive (as in 1960s and 70s) with the contemporary. It is about wealthy vs literate, but does not commit to the era it belongs to. There are no cellphones nor computers.

Manjari Fadnis belongs to a Christian family somewhere In Rajasthan. Her father and mother think a daughter is a burden and treat her badly, more like a servant deprived of even basics even as the two sons get the best of everything.

Though Manjari is a bright student and tops her class, she is shifted to a government school to save money. Now in college, Manjari is sent to interview the college trustee, Ashutosh Rana, by her principal, Raju Kher. Rana, a local royalty, is a cruel man and his life is all about wine and women. Provoked by Manjari’s questions and confidence, he is later attracted to her. He in effect buys her from her father to make her his wife.

Despite being in love with a fellow student Himansh Kohli, Manjari has no alternative but to marry Rana. Her ordeal starts soon thereafter. She is barred from stepping out of the palace apart from other restrictions. Manjari has but one sympathizer in Supriya Pathak, the palace help.

Rana asks the doctor to abort the child if it happens to be a girl when Manjari is pregnant, much to her horror. Pathak gives her support and encourages her to flee.

Having gone through the depressing part of the film, everything turns positive for Manjari. She arrives in Mumbai and finds everything on a platter. A place to stay where even her daughter is looked after, a job in an Urdu newspaper, and a new wooer in Arbaaz Khan, an NRI who visits Mumbai every year to make his contributions to the orphanage where Manajri has found shelter as a help.

Having found a job with an Urdu paper run by Prem Chopra, Manjari is suddenly invited to the US to join a major daily newspaper. It seems Chopra forwarded some of her writings to a contact in the US and they were impressed with her writings! She joins the publication and takes up an assignment nobody else wanted. She writes a book and becomes a celebrity! She accepts Arbaaz’s love and all is well that ends well.

Nothing to mention about technical aspects or performances needed.

That is for the film and its story, not so for the viewer. For Jeena Isi Ka Naam Hai is a 171 minutes of sheer torture.

Producers: Purnima Mead, Stanton Mead.

Director: Keshhav Panneriy.

Cast: Arbaaz Khan, Manjari Fadnis, Ashutosh Rana, Himansh Kohli, Supriya Pathak, Prem Chopra, Rati Agnihotri.

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