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'Baar Baar Dekho': Unique concept robust performances ( *** )

Film: "'Baar Baar Dekho"; Director: Nitya Mehra; Cast: Sidharth Malhotra, Katrina Kaif, Rajit Kapoor, Ram Kapoor, Sayani Gupta, Taaha Shah and Sarika;

Baar Baar Dekho review

Director Nitya Mehra's "Baar Baar Dekho" is a romantic film that is uniquely conceptualised. It is technically well-packaged to give a holographic view of life, but the meandering narrative adds no meaning to the composition.

Themed live life for the moment, the film gives an insight into the life of Jai Varma (Sidharth Malhotra) a professor in Vedic Mathematics.

A day before his wedding, to his childhood friend Diya Kapoor, an artist, realisation dawns on him that his views on life and his dreams differ from his fiancee's. And, by sheer deus ex machina, a plot device, he gets transported in time, presenting his life forward.

He realises this when his mother tells him, "Woh hi din baar, baar jeena ka mauka kisko milta hai?"

How he tries to rectify his mistakes, by reliving the moments, forms the crux of the plot.

Adroitly crafted and formulaic in nature, the script unravels the plot in a non-linear manner. The characterisation and emotional manipulation, especially Jai's, is the highlight of the film.

The messages, strewn across the narrative, have a mixed flavour that has been oft seen. But the dialogue, "Without balance, like in mathematics, no equation in life is perfect," is a perfect analogy, that highlights the argument of the film's premise.

The treatment is akin to an abridged version of a well-written literary novel. For the first thirty minutes, the narrative rambles on a generic path with elaborate, high pitch, wedding preparations et al. Then all of a sudden, the tone of the narrative changes giving you snippets of Jai's life, on his honeymoon and when he is 36, 46 and 60 years old.

Visually, the film is glossy and magnificent. The futuristic production designs along with the prosthetic make-up are sleek and painstakingly elaborate, giving a realistic feel to the time and characters.

Sidharth Malhotra excels as Jai. He emotes effortlessly and convincingly portrays his dilemmas, making us believe, in his character.

Katrina Kaif as Diya Kapoor is a pleasant surprise. She compliments Sidharth by delivering an equally robust performance especially expressing how she pines for his attention. Together, their on-screen chemistry is palpable.

The rest of the cast is supplementary. Nevertheless, Taaha Shah as Jai's younger brother Tarun, Sayani Gupta as Jai's friend - Raj's wife, Rajit Kapoor as the family priest, Ram Kapoor as Diya's father - Vinod Kapoor and Sagar Arya as Nikhil Khanna a studio owner, have their moments of screen presence.

The songs merge seamlessly into the story. But the quick edits in the number, "Nachde ne saare" mars the viewing experience.

The film is worth a watch for the novelty of its treatment, performances of the lead actors and the messages.



'Akira': Fails to tap Sonakshi's heroic stature ( ** )

Film: "Akira"; Director: A R Murugadoss; Cast: Sonakshi Sinha, Anurag Kashyap, Konkona Sen Sharma;

Akira review

The biggest takeaway from this brutal depiction of police atrocity is the cop Rane. As played by Anurag Kashyap, the character acquires sharp spiky edges that pierce the plot and penetrate into a region far deeper than where director Murugadoss rests his case.

Don't get him wrong. Murugadoss means well. "Akira takes up the cause of women's empowerment. But only on a superficial level. When Akira is still a child(which is to say, she is played by little Mishiekka Arora) she takes revenge on an acid thrower by, well, learning karate (prompted by her inspiring mute dad) and throwing acid back on the guy who did it.

So there!

As simple as that. If only life was as uncomplicated. As though to make up for the paucity of clutter and plain substantiality in the first half, Akira suffers a severe midlife crisis and goes into spasms of tortuous torture scenes meant to show Akira reaching breaking point before she explodes.

Instead of Sonakshi's Akira exploding on screen, the plot crumbles and falls apart under the weight of the gross violence. Murugadoss excels at showing his female protagonists being brutalized. Iron rods are a favourite weapon to torture subjugate and almost lobotomize spirited women. In "Ghajini", Asin was bludgeoned to death because she was too sunshiny for the villain to bear. In "Akira", Sonakshi sulks ceaselessly (troubled childhood, super-troubled adulthood), until the villainous cop and his hysterical deputies, accomplices in law-sanctioned crime (one of whom at one point falls to the ground whimpering as Kashyap looks alarmed and embarrassed) take her out to a forest and decide to eliminate her because well, they got the wrong girl.

Ditto the film. It got the right girl - Sonakshi is sufficiently restrained and implosive - but it put her in impossibly sadistic situations. The scenes of her torture in a mental asylum, run by a doctor who looks like a pimp at a run-down brothel, are prolonged and unnecessary. If only the narrative, so gripping to begin with, had not grown flabby as it progressed.

Kashyap's diabolic cop's performance holds the film together. He had played a dirty lawman in his own film "Ugly". He builds on the earlier cop's role and hones the art of lawlesslness to such an extent that we miss him whenever he isn't around in this film. Sadly the actors playing his khaki-wearing colleagues emerge as caricatures of desperate criminality. You can take Murugadoss out of the South, but you can't take the South out of him.

The other very interesting character is that of a righteous pregnant cop Rabia, played laconically by Konkona Sen Sharma. She imparts a sort of stubborn idealism to her character , compounded by her heavily immobile state. Tragically her slow painful physical movement becomes a metaphor for the plodding righteousness of the script.

Though well-intended, "Akira" tends to slowA down its own virtuous journey with implausible roadblocks including a mentally-disturbed eunuch who helps Akira escape from the mental asylum where the villains lock her away while her family looks the other way. Oh yes, there is a sympathetic lover played by Amit Sadh who looks on helplessly as the villains wreak hectic havoc on the heroine.

To mend the holes in the plot, Murugadoss stuffs the storytelling with messages on the physically and mentally disabled and on police brutality. While the sermons don't get shrill the smothered cries of 'Enough!' can be heard from miles away.

That's us screaming in protest, as Sonakshi Sinha tries bravely to make her tortured character braver than what the story writers allow her to be. "Akira" is a film that could have gone very far, if only the theme of women's empowerment had not been overpowered by the Murugadoss school of villainous barbarism which does not discriminate between man and woman.

Is that what the neo-feminists mean by equality of the sexes?






Courtsey: IANS