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Kung Fu Yoga! (Hindi English assorted) ...Old wine in tetra pack

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MUMBAI: Jackie Chan films are known for Kung Fu coupled with comedy. The Kung Fu in his films is not about felling an opponent, it is rather going on and on as a lesson in self-defense. The kind where two Kung Fu adversaries keep going at each other while the protagonist, Chan, goes through some of his stunts and, eventually, gets the better of his rival through some device or trick and not Kung Fu.

Kung Fu Yoga has but one challenge for the viewer and that is to find Yoga in this film. There are a couple of references to this age old practice, but that is it. The film is mainly about Chan’s Kung Fu prowess seen umpteen times before.

What is new is that the theme of the film is based around India, some lost civilisation in the country and the treasure left behind.

Chan is the number one archeologist in China. Along with his Indian students of archeology, he comes across an old map of a 1,000 year old civilization in India where a treasure is waiting to be discovered. Their exploration takes them deep in to snow-clad mountains where, along with frozen peaks, they also have running water; must be freeze proof. Deep down under the snow, they stumble across gold sovereigns and other such treasures. And, there is a key to unlock the real cache.

But, no sooner have they laid their hands on the key, there comes the other claimant, SonuSood. There is some hand-to-hand combat with an attempt to make it sort of funny. While the one-to-one blended in Kung Fu is routine, the comedy falls flat.

In between, the film takes a detour to Dubai for another action sequence. Because, the way to the treasure is through one-upmanship between the Chan group and Sood and his goons.  While Sood claims the treasure to be his, Chan sermonises of the same belonging to the government!

When both parties have arrived at the treasure site, they have one more Kung Fu bout; Yoga is nowhere to be found except in the film’s title. Eventually, not the government but a saffron clad group of men and women take over the proceedings as Chan, Sood and the rest get into a dance routine to end the film on a happy note!

Kung Fu Yoga is just another Hong Kong style film trying to mix the martial art with comedy. The title being irrelevant, so is its Indian theme. Many such films on treasure hunts have been made and this film seems to have borrowed a bit from all of them. There is nothing original about this one.

Can’t say much about the direction since most of it has been executed through effects. While Chan is routine and Sood is passable, the girls, Disha Patani and Amyra Dastur add glamour. The rest are incidental.

Producer: Barbie Tung

Director: Stanley Tong

Cast: Jackie Chan, Sonu Sood, Damian Mavis, Disha Patani, Amyra Dastur, Eric Tsang, Zhang Guoli. Lay Zhang, Mu Qimiya.

Alif...urposeless

Alif / Aleph is the first character in the Arabic alphabet and also the name of the child character in this film. The title finds justification in that it is a film about education.The emphasis here is on the education of Muslim students in mainstream schools instead of madrassas, which concentrate on religious studies.

All that is fine but why have the makers messed with the theme of need for education for Muslim children by bringing in a skewed Hindu angle as if that that was a roadblock for admitting them to a school where Hindus studied!

There is a Muslim family in Varanasi where the character of Danish Hussain continues his family vocation as a hakeem. He dreams of making his only son, Saud Mansuri, a doctor. But, there are social taboos as Hussain stays in a Muslim mohalla where only madrassa education is encouraged and enforced while the English medium schools, which are located a few kilometers away, are abhorred and considered to be a Hindu domain. Hence, Hussain will have to be content with his son graduating when he memorizes all 30 chapters of Koran and becomes a Hafiz.

This is the time when Hussain’s sister, played by Neelima Azeem, much tortured and harassed by her husband in Pakistan, manages to return home to India. After some melodrama on her return, she takes charge of the proceedings and insists on admitting Saud to a mainstream English school. The boy is totally at sea as he does not even know the English alphabets but has been admitted to the third standard.

It is not the fellow students but a teacher who hates having Saud in his school and keeps framing him for various misdeeds just so that the lenient principal expels him.

Alif is a misconstrued, illogical story with no relevance even though it looks like a propaganda film made with the UP elections in mind; Jaya Bachchan is the narrator. There is no sense in depicting mohalla system as if they were concentration camps and had no access to other parts of Varanasi. And, what is the ‘convent’ school finally where Saud is admitted? It is called Al Haneef School!

The script tries to run too many parallel tracks: a dying father, an estranged sister, a suppressed Muslim community,and romance; friendship between two young boys, education and discrimination. None of these are linked or justified.

All technical aspects of the film are below par. However it has good performances by Saud Mansoori. Neelima Azeem and Raza Hussain are stagy. For whatever purpose Alif was produced, it is not delivering.

Producers: Pawan Tiwari, Zaigham Imam.

Director: Zaigham Imam.

Cast: Neelima Azeem, Danish Hussain, Saud Mansuri, Bhavna Pani, Ishaan Kaurav, Aditya Om, Gopal Gurjar and Simala Prasad.

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