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Upperstall Review


Ajnabee

 

Hindi, Thriller, 2001, Color



Cast And Crew





It looks like Indian commercial cinema has finally come of age. At long last the term 'commercial film' is not restricted to the high budget indulgences of financers who would do just about anything to get into the niche film circles, it is not restricted to formula flicks - song, dance, song, some plot, song, song, performa…, song - and it certainly is breaking out of the mould that is trashy Bollywood to what is plain good ol' filmmaking. Proof of this maturity in the year 2001 has come in films like Lagaan and Dil Chahta Hai. Their brilliance, the film holistically being above all else, contribute to the nouveau new wave. Films like Ajnabee on the other hand, make sure that none of this happens, and that 'progress' is a French word, and the Indian film viewing audience is obviously mentally handicapped.

There is no explanation for mediocrity in this film, unless the cast and crew did it for a Swiss holiday. The audience, given some spice in the pre-release promotion has been taken for a merry ride. The film is a no-brainer. The much-hyped story with wife swapping as its highlight is rubbished in the film. Nothing out of the ordinary happens. The audience, needless to say, is left cheated; the two fellows must be thinking they pulled off a coup here trying to introduce some sleaze and we-are-so-immoral concepts never seen in Indian theaters before. Just so they know - they should practice what they preach. The audience went in hoping for some scoop and all they got was a banana. The promotions also give away the (so-called) suspense (the dead Bipasha in a post-interval song.) The characterizations are weak. Kareena's bobs back and forth from a low IQ bimbo to James Bond's sidekick (come to think of it, it's the same thing!), Akshay Kumar has to play himself, Bobby Deol has tried way too hard to play the drunk that he is, and Bipasha Basu has to look good. Well, that she pulls off.

The events that take place are extremely contrived and I don't even want to get into details deconstructing them. Details - oh how the directors need a lesson in the importance of details - plot improbabilities galore! (do they read their scripts on the day of the shoot?) Also will someone please tell them that Switzerland is a land-locked country and that you can't take a boat from Switzerland to Singapore and that people very easily recognize all indoor sequences supposedly set all over Europe, as their local hangout place in Lokhandwala… Even a person with all the imagination in the world would not believe the unbelievable (and badly) painted cardboard n' thermocol sets (especially the techie one inside the cruiser) Hell, if you don't have the budget to make it look even halfway real, then get yourself a better idea!

Cinematically, the film is as experimental as having breakfast. There is absolutely nothing noteworthy. Nothing in the film is not a standard close-up or a medium shot or a long shot (can't remember any). The directors are extremely short on imagination, and all their years of 'experience' notwithstanding, I'll wager that their first film must have been as boringly shot as this one. There is one sequence, that I'm sure they are quite proud of - its this first person perspective of a man holding a gun - straight out of the shoot 'em up computer games like Doom and Quake. Probably trying to keep up with Lara Croft eh? It's pathetic… I suppose these guys are from the school of thought that actors are king. In that case, it brings us to the issue of performances.

Performances. Yes… Now… Let's see here… Hmm… Will Kareena please stop wearing tablecloths? What's with her clothes in the film? Does anyone in his or her senses dress like that? Would you see that now…? I am talking about clothes in the performances paragraph. Sheesh.

As for the comic track - see what I mean - why do all these films have to have a 'comic track?' What? Can't the goddamn leads have a sense of humor too? Or is Johnny Lever the only person who can make Indian film-going audience (roughly one billion) laugh?

Friends, Filmmakers and Countrymen! Lend me you ears! Stop now! Sit back and review, progress and re-review your own mindsets. The audience has grown up. We get HBO on our TV sets. We know what's happening out there better than ever before. The Indian literacy rate has shot up remarkably. So have our imaginations. You cannot go on making films like this. Films, that you think you can pull off by just exciting the masses by simply treading on ethical issues that turn out not-so-immoral anyway. Stop arbitrarily stuffing in one bad song after another. Stop dressing up the ladies with ill-fitting tablecloths and most of all - stop playing safe - no filmmaker got acclaimed doing things that were done and well accepted before. And if you are not trying to get acclaimed, if you are not trying to make a difference… you're no filmmaker.




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