So last weekend I saw two Bollywood thrillers. One was, I guess, technically not a thriller - more like a superhero action thing - but with some definite thriller elements. The other was an international crime thriller. Interestingly, my fellow Nigerian-fan-of-all-things-Indian, Uzo, was involved in my viewing experience on both occasions. She lent me her ‘Krrish’ DVD, which I watched (I know, eons after everyone else) on my trusty laptop on Saturday (oh my laptop, how I love you!); and I saw ‘Don’ with her at the cinema on Sunday. I have been a bit short of words about ‘Don’ (it was just so good), but I think comparing it with ‘Krrish’ should be interesting anyway.
I am still trying to figure out whether or not Rakesh Roshan told his cast to act really badly in ‘Krrish’. Cos when I was watching it, all I could think was ‘bad acting’! ‘bad acting’! ‘bad acting’! Priyanka Chopra’s acting was terrible, and even Rekha’s acting was like something out of a really really really bad melodrama. Only Naseeruddin Shah, in my opinion, and the guy who played ‘Kristian’, did a halfway-decent job.
As for my demi-semi-crush Hrithik, he didn’t do too badly, especially in the second half of the movie. In the first half, he got on my nerves a bit – don’t know why… maybe it was the constant smiling and the childish behaviour (the ‘you are so selfish Dadi, you don’t love me’ tantrum was so unappealing on a grown, muscular man – I understood it, because of the way he was brought up and all that, but I still didn’t like it). By the second half, I thought his performance was much more interesting, ‘meaty’ and enjoyable. Actually, to be fair, everyone got better by the second half of the movie.
As for ‘Don’, I loved Shahrukh’s performance, I thought it was delicious and played with such relish and can’t understand why anyone would pan it (haterzzz). Anyways, loved it – simply loved it. Priyanka Chopra was actually ok in this movie, I thought she did a ok job. There were moments in which she was actually good, and some in which she was not-so-good, but generally, she was credible. Arjun Rampal was good as well, and the rest of the cast all did their bit well. Even Kareena Kapoor was alright (if a bit boring). I wasn’t exactly overwhelmed in this department (except by SRK, who tends to overwhelm me even without trying - but that's not just down to his acting), but my ‘bad acting’ radar was largely undisturbed.
Music (and picturization of songs):
The music in ‘Krrish’ was alright, nothing to complain about, but nothing particularly memorable either. The circus number, I thought, was nicely choreographed and the song is pretty catchy. The 'romantic' numbers (especially the one with a butterfly flitting around Priyanka’s head and Hrithik putting a smudge of butterfly-powder on her cheek, like yuck) were less likeable (Ed. Okay, that is so very not true. I've been listening to the songs again, and I absolutely adore 'Koi Tumse..' - it's been on heavy rotation on my player. 'Chori Chori Chupke Chupke' is good too. Both definitely better than 'Dil Na Diya'. Just goes to show you can miss good stuff the first time around. Good work by Rajesh Roshan) – but still not bad (better than 'not bad').
I don’t know why the soundtrack for Don has been so maligned. I thought it was a decent score. Very Bond-inspired, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and nice tributes to the songs from the old ‘Don’. It could have been better, true, and it’s not half as good as the one from the original movie (which was brilliant), and it’s not going on my hotlist anytime soon, but I didn’t think it was bad at all. I really enjoyed the way the songs were choreographed – I thought it was very fresh and different from the first ‘Don’. Even ‘Khaike Paan Banaraswala’ was nicely done to my mind, contrary to everything I’ve read. Sure, Amitabh did an amazing job on that number in the original (so amazing it totally freaks me out when I watch it), but taken on its own merit, I think SRK did a good job. ‘Yeh Mera Dil’ was... hmm. Some of Kareena’s choreography was just dodgy, especially the beginning part. It was just… weird and… not good. I especially enjoyed ‘Main Hoon Don’. I absolutely loved it - both the song and the picturization - Shaan is awesome on this song. And when SRK poured champagne on himself at the end of that song… well, let’s just say I had impure thoughts.
Yes, I know – not the most technically (or politically) correct category to have in an analysis of a movie, but very important nonetheless. As a great (but shallow) philosopher once said, “eye candy is a beautiful thing to behold”.
In ‘Krrish’, Hrithik was gorgeous as ever, but I wasn’t sure about the hair. Sometimes I liked it, sometimes it just looked really naff and stringy. I didn’t like his costumes for the most part. But he still looked hot - as always. Sadly, he was the only male eye candy in that movie. Tragic.
I guess in the interests of gender equity, I should mention the other category of eye candy. Priyanka, the female candy, looked as pretty as she always does, but the make-up was a bit overdone (as Filmiholic has pointed out). Still, the girl is gorgeous.
‘Don’ – oh Don, Don, Don, Don… anyone who knows me knows I think SRK is the very hotness, and this movie was no exception. He was just so cute, and he had this strut, and this bad attitude, and I loved his hair, and he was sexy in a very, very bad way. And I could go on, but I won’t – suffice to say I have added another fictional character to my ‘bad boys I love because they’re just sooo hot!’ list – Don (1978) was already there, but I think Don (2006) has to rank higher (sorry Amit-Ji, you know I love you dearly).
Happily, there was more eye candy to come. Arjun Rampal with a longer haircut and some sexy stubble – oh yes please!!! Arjun, more movies with you looking so hot and I will soon forget your more-than-occasional woodenness as an actor and add you to my Bollywood crush list. Seriously, Arjun was bahut hot in ‘Don’. And the young police officer, Inspector whatever, was also pretty cute in that serious ‘Zanjeer-ish’ (I only say ‘Zanjeer-ish’ because no one – but no one – can do serious-but-hot-young-policeman like Amitabh Bachchan did it in that movie. He was so so off-the-chain hot).
Ok, Priyanka was once more the female eye candy in this film. And she was beautiful as always. As for Isha Koppikar (also beautiful, I hasten to add), all I can say is that she is a very brave woman for wearing a really really ugly dress and dancing (not very well, at that) next to Ms. Chopra. Ummm… not so smart.
I like how I have spent so much space on eye candy. It would be embarrassing and pathetic – if I didn’t enjoy it so much.
Ahh… again, not your typical category, but ‘Krrish’ deserves an award for the worst, most pathetic product placement ever. I don’t care how much money the Bournvita people or the Tide people gave the film-makers, they just should not have done this. It was just so in-your-face. It was almost laughable watching Rekha sprinkle oodles of Tide into a pot while talking to Hrithik. Or Hrithik telling that kid to come and have some Bournvita at his house so he could also become super-strong. NOOOOO… and the only 2 products in their house on otherwise empty (and new) shelves and tables were Bournvita and Tide, cleverly displayed to their best advantage. I know every movie has built-in advertising, but this was waaay too much. Were we really supposed to believe that Priyanka got her killa figure from scoffing packet after packet of Lay’s crisps? The Honda advertising, though far more subtle, was also annoying. By that point, I think I was already really irritated by the Bournvita and Tide. I never liked Bournvita (I’m a Milo girl on the rare occasions when I do hot chocolate) but I like it even less now.
‘Don’ had its share of product placement spots too – with the Motorola phones and other gadgets etc, but it was discreetly done, as far as I can remember. Reminded me of the product placement in your average Bond movie (there was definitely some Bond-spiration going on in 'Don') – lots and lots and lots of advertising, but quietly, and not at the expense of the movie.
Film-making (Directing, Script, Effects, Cinematography, Design):
I usually like Rakesh Roshan’s directing – I think he’s usually very creative, visually-minded and precise. That’s why I liked ‘Koyla’ despite all the violence – it had an edge and a clear vision. Even ‘Kaho Naa Pyaar Hai’, with its slightly silly story, had some style to it. But I really can’t relate to his vision for ‘Krrish’. I just don’t get it. It’s an ok thriller with very good special effects, but apart from some bad acting, what else was there to it? It felt really hollow. The funny bits were not funny, the sad bits were not as sad as they could’ve been, and I was generally underwhelmed. It was certainly not bad, but it could've been so much better, in my opinion.
Now, Farhan Akhtar has got a new fan of his work in me – I love the way he did ‘Don’. I think the balance between doing a good tribute to the original movie and making a new (and intelligent and fresh) movie for a new audience was something Akhtar achieved extremely well. I really don’t think it could’ve been done better. I loved all the nods to the old movie, but I loved the fact that there were enough well-placed twists to throw me off. I also love the pace of this movie – it was so well-paced that it didn’t feel as long as it actually was. The funny bits were very funny (loved the scene with Vijay and the surgeon who was about to 'scar' him), and even the slightly silly bits were amusing, and it was just fun. Good scripting.
The costumes for ‘Krrish’ were ok (if a bit boring), as were the sets, but the only thing that really jumped out at me was the coat (post-reversal I mean - the black side, not the stodgy grey) Hrithik wore as Krrish. Very nice. I liked the mask too, although how they could have thought Kristian was Krrish is beyond me. But that’s always a problem with superhero movies – how anyone fails to see that Clark Kent is Superman is another example.
‘Don’ – loved the costuming except there was way too much glittering disco-ball lame – a gold dress for Kareena, a silver one for Priyanka. Overkill. I liked the wide belts on Priyanka, but one or two would have been enough. I also liked the tie-and-shirt combos on SRK, but again, one or two would have done the trick. But other than that, great costuming. The sets were excellent – loved Don’s sheets. Nice detail.
The cinematography and special effects for both movies were really good. I liked the use of aerial shots and the panoramic-y thing (I know nothing about the technicalities, so excuse my crappy clueless lingo) in ‘Don’. There were fewer close-ups than I’m accustomed to seeing in Bollywood films, it was more all-encompassing and thus more fun. Was awesome to watch on the big screen. As for the FX, I liked ‘Don’ a bit more in this respect too, because it was edgier – the scene where they fall out of the plane and fight over the parachute, though ridiculous, was very well executed, I thought; whereas I thought the running-across-the-forest thing in ‘Krrish’ was very cool - until they did it for like the millionth time. A bit too much, it just got annoying.
General ‘Wow!’ Factor:
No prizes for guessing: ‘Don’ wins!! To be fair, this might be because I saw it in an actual cinema on a big screen with great movie-viewing company beside me. Must have enhanced the experience. I love my dear laptop, but it’s… smaller. That said, though, I really got sucked into ‘Don’ and the movie just grabbed me and held my attention. It was just very exciting. As for ‘Krrish’, I watched it in like six instalments, had to keep breaking off to eat, or sleep, or because ‘NEPA took light’ or whatever. And I never minded stopping at all. It just didn’t wow me. The special effects were nice – but, no, it did not thrill me.
Overall Winner: (in an awed whisper) Don… Don… Don… Don…
I also saw my fave hottie SRK in ‘Swades’ a few days ago. I really enjoyed his performance – it was so nuanced and engaging. But I’m beginning to think Ashutosh Gowariker needs to chill out on making such worthy-and-blindingly-obviously-so movies. He should do something less ‘worthy’ next time, just to show that he can. I mean, I may agree with the overall message of the movie (although I thought it was a bit unbalanced), but I don’t really appreciate being bashed over the head with it. Simplicity is one thing (one thing which I love, see my Hrishikesh Mukherjee post), but I don't like being hit over the head with a mallet in the name of passing across a message.