Thursday, December 30, 2010

#17: Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Se

Ashutosh Gowariker is the kind of film maker you could call a sensitive type - one who wouldn't ever be in a tearing hurry to reach a climax, someone who believes in the adage that songs could do a lot to move a story forward and someone who believes that there are numerous untold stories in Indian folklore that need to be told to broader audiences. To an outsider like me he represents someone whose intentions can never be questioned when he sets out to make a movie. In short his movies deserve that bit of respect that eludes a lot of the film-makers in India. And it is with such honest respect for AG, that I chose to watch Kheley Hum Jee Jaan Se on the very first day ahead of Rakta Charitra-2. Given his previous debacle of Whats Your Rashee, I didn't find too many takers to accompany me on the occasion but since I liked the promos with an intent as firm as Bhuvan's, I did manage to march in for the 10 p.m. show.

2 hours and 40 minutes later, I wasn't sure if I could take a call on whether I liked the movie or not. There were some things that I did like, some that I thought that could've been better and some that I thought were things so basic even Geoffrey Boycott's mum would've fared better at. The strength of the movie is the action sequence in the second half of about 20 minutes when a group of teenage revolutionaries take on the might of the British police force with superior weapons in a plan spearheaded by a Maths teacher Binayak Sen ( Abhishek Bachchan), that akin to the movie also doesn't go completely right. The boring first half is the build-up to this action sequence that has very few things going right except Abhishek Bachchan. None of the 12-13 young students who get inspired by the school teacher endear themselves to you, both Abhishek and Deepika Padukone the female lead seem to speak squeaky clean Banarsi Hindi except when taking names of each other when they fabricate a Bengali accent and Sikander Kher, the supporting actor while putting in an earnest performance doesn't really affect you much. Add to these, an insipid soundtrack and unimaginative photography and what you have is the recipe of a near disastrous first half.

If only AG would've crunched the first half by 20 minutes, we would've witnessed something that could've worked at an emotional level for us. The next 20 minutes of the second half do their best in redeeming the movie but just about. Because soon after that solid action sequence we're once again left in the lurch with these characters seeming like a bunch of headless chickens directed by AG, who didn't have so much of a clue as to how to elevate the movie to the next level. So by the time the end arrives, you feel a tad disappointed with the whole affair. There's however a wonderfully put together set of end credits that should surely count as one of the highlights of the movie.

KHJJS is adapted from a book by Manini Chatterjee titled Do and Die: The Story of Chittagong Uprising, yet another example of how AG knows to choose the stories that need to be told like he did with Lagaan and Swades and in spite of the fierce criticism he received for Whats your Rashee, I would just like to point out that not too many directors have the conviction, however misdirected and misplaced, coupled with the guts to adapt a Gujarati novel into a mainstream movie. And that is why in spite of the downer that KHJJS turned out to be, I will still turn up on Friday, first day, night show, the next time AG releases a movie.

In the meanwhile I will wait for Shonali Bose's on-screen rendition of the same story. That is supposed to be released in 2011.

Rating: 5.8/10