Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Just Enough Magic

The world of entertainment is all about guilty pleasures, and Thoda Pyaar Thoda Magic is about as close as one can get to exactly that...2+ hours of simple, enjoyable fun, albeit the type you may not want to admit to having.

It is, after all, a film made for children - one that borrows from an array of prior children's films, be it Mary Poppins or The Sound of Music, or India's own Mr. India or Raju Chacha. But despite its lack of originality, the film scores through just the right amount of sweet, heartwarming moments, as well as recognizing where and when the 'magic' quotient should end.

It also works for its performances, primarily from the lead pair who did not quite weave magic with their last bachcha-oriented outing, Ta Ra Rum Pum. That Rani is the best mainstream actress in the industry at the moment is no secret and, while this may not be a highly demanding performance, she approaches it with enthusiasm and wit. Saif, too, is seen in far more appropriate territory after the debacles that were Race and Tashan.

It will pain me oh so much to say that even Amisha Patel, the world's worst actress in my book, plays her part...correctly. She is meant to be overtly annoying, and she very much is that. The children are cute and likable enough, with special mentions to the two middle ones, Aditi and Iqbal.

What doesn't work? The music, for starters...Pyaar Ke Liye is the only track one walks away with, and that is also perhaps because it is shoved onto the audience in loud outbursts ever so often to create a mood. Lazy Lamhe is a sorry excuse to show off some sensuality...wasn't this a kid's film?

Verdict? Let's face many Hindi films can you watch with your whole family nowadays? Even if you don't want to tell your friends you saw it, not to mention it's utterly predictable, it's still worth a watch for making a sincere attempt at classic, wholesome entertainment.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Kismat (Dis)Konnection

Typically my reviews are thorough and detailed, but I've been told I need to make a marked effort to shorten my analysis to hold the attention of my faithful readers. As a result, I'm going to get straight to the point...Aziz Mirza, best known for his work with Shahrukh Khan in Raju Ban Gaya Gentlemen, Yes Boss, Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani and Chalte Chalte, returns for the first time in a long time without Shahrukh by his side. And to make up for his old pal's absence from the film, he seems to have 1) coaxed Shahrukh into narrating the beginning portions of the film and 2) cast the undisputed King Khan clone, Shahid Kapur.

What we end up with is a strangely half-baked effort from an otherwise competent filmmaker. It's simple and sweet, sure, but for some reason there is something largely missing from Kismat Konnection. One is certainly the chemistry between alleged off-screen pair Shahid and Vidya Balan. Vidya not only looks too old opposite the ever baby-faced Shahid, but the two look far from on-screen lovebirds.

The next thing missing is a powerhouse performance from either of the leads. Shahid tries, but he tries a little too hard. He puts on his best Shahrukh expressions and essentially does a repeat of his Jab We Met performance. Vidya acts reasonably well, but her wardrobe remains ever atrocious, and the woman just looks some 15 pounds too heavy to be a leading lady.

The third and also important factor that's missing is good music. Save for Atif Aslam's new gem Bakhuda Tumhi Ho, there is no other track that really sticks with you. Aye Papi may be popular, but it is certainly no Mauja Hi Mauja.

Finally, what is missing is the ability to captivate and hold the viewer's attention. After a while, one can't help but wonder what the film is about. Is it a love story between two enemies-turned-friends or a social message about respecting the elderly? In the end, the film seems to be about neither. Instead, we yearn for continuity and a purpose, one that the film overall clearly lacks.

Verdict? Worth a look purely for the sake of good old timepass. Ah yes, and it's nice to see Juhi Chawla back on-screen, even if she is some strange psychic.