Bollywood strikes back after the strike with a dud that makes you wish the strike was back.
JUN 14, 2009 – AS WE CONTINUE TO REEL UNDER THE ONSLAUGHT of increasingly appalling star-children vehicles – Love Story 2050, Jimmy, and now, Kal Kissne Dekha (starring Jackky, son of producer Vashu Bhagnani) – may I proffer a theory? Could it be that all this awfulness is intentional, the concerted efforts of concerned film-fraternity fathers to ensure that their offspring lead long, happy, useful lives far from the harsh glare of the public? Here’s how. As the children of chartered accountants grow up surrounded by numbers and those of cricketers begin to wield the willow early, I suppose the houses of film folk echo with happy gurgles of “A for Aperture, B for Backlot.” And the wise father, inevitably, is stricken with fear. Having burnt his fingers on a number of occasions, with a likely succession of flops in search of that elusive hit, he wants none of this for his darling boy.
Therefore, much before the apple of his indulgent eye ripens and acquires a six pack and whitens the teeth and waxes the chest in anticipation of being anointed hero, the father summons a raft of second-rate writers and orders them to free-associate on a rancid script. “Throw in a sci-fi element with a perambulatory teddy bear in the midst of all the song and dance,” he might suggest, or else, “Let the hero have visions of the future (and yet prove unable to predict the fate of his film).” The finishing touch comes two decades later, when a C-list director is signed, someone who thinks craft is something made of cane and bamboo. The unsuspecting son – it’s usually a son, rarely a daughter – acts his heart out, thinking daddy knows best. The film is released to jeers and catcalls. And voila! The secretly delighted father steers his dejected offspring towards a rosy career in the restaurant industry.
Of course, things don’t always move according to plan. The son might prove annoyingly persistent, like Hurman Baweja. Nevertheless, this is what, I propose, leads to films such as Vivek Sharma’s Kal Kissne Dekha, which gets going when the hero, Nihal, moves from Chandigarh to Mumbai in search of an education, in the kind of college where students spend more time organising youth festivals than, you know, studying. And what promises to evolve into a clone of Ishq Vishq – which, of course, we cannot have, as that sprightly little bonbon actually worked at the box office – takes a sharp detour into taming-of-the-shrew territory, as Nihal takes on the haughty Misha (Vaishali Desai). Then, as Riteish Deshmukh shows up as Don Kalicharan, a master of disguise, Nihal uses his extra-sensory powers to defuse a series of bombs planted across the city by a terrorist ring.
Somewhere through all this, in a moment at an airport, I thought I caught a glimpse of the kids from Slumdog Millionaire — but to be fair, little green men from Mars wouldn’t be out of place amidst these shenanigans, which possibly also explains the presence of Rishi Kapoor, bewigged in a shock of silver. In what has got to be one of his worst roles – that of a Physics professor who instructs his class about the inventor of dynamite – the actor has clearly decided to simply take the money and run. Young Jackky Bhagnani, alas, doesn’t have that option. He’s made to jump through hoops like a circus animal, showcasing his skills to an unfeeling public. As scene after scene unfolds with demonstrations of his dancing and fighting and bike-riding and romancing, we begin to feel like judges at the Olympics, as if we’re meant to hold up cards with points after each event. In that vein, his film gets a zero.
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