Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Wanted: Better Late than NEVER!

I'll be honest with you. When Wanted came out back in September I was very dubious about the entertainment value it would hold for me.


First of all, Salman Khan hadn't had a big hit since Partner back in 2007 and I knew this was an action film and Style-bhai hasn't been very, shall we say, "flexible" in recent years. His dancing has been more "Ajay Shuffle" and less of the rambunctious Salman of years past. Add to this the fact that he is cast opposite Ayesha Takia, who is young enough to be his daughter, and I was really uninterested.

And all of the above is true and if Wanted has been a less-well made movie than I would really would have loathed it but the truth of the matter is that Wanted is an excellent masala film - the kind that aren't really made in Bollywood anymore. Following Ghajini, I can only hope that this wave of Southern masala remakes continues - and I think it will in the near future, at least, with Kick being on the cards for 2010. Because what Ghajni and Wanted show is that there is a huge appetite for masala within the Bollywood watching community - and we want masala with OUR stars.

Wanted has it all - an evil villain (Prakash "Pran" Raj, who I found strangely attractive throughout the film), an innocent heroine (Ayesha Takia), a comedy track, an actual item song IN THE VILLAIN'S DEN, and add to this Vinod Khanna (!), good v. evil policemen, adopted brothers, and plenty of dishoom-dishoom and colorful songs and you have one of the best films of 2009.

To address my original concerns, which you out there reading this may or may not have shared, let me set the record straight. Wisely, Salman Khan decided to refrain from mentioning the age of his character. Unlike Saif's laughable "35" year old villain in Kurbaan, Akshay's "27" in Chandni Chowk to China, or Aamir's "31" in Ghajini, Radhe is ageless. He's a gruff tapori who has clearly been at this for a while and that is all we need to know - as Jacob Black says in Twilight, "Age is just a number, baby." And I appreciate that Salman declined to give himself a vanity age for the film.

Okay, now regarding Salman's dishooming ability... well, he is still very muscle-bound but Wanted shows Salman putting in more of an effort into both dancing and fighting than I've seen from him in a long time. Not only that, this is the most acting I've seen from Salman since Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam.

That's not to say that the film is perfect. This being classic rather than post-modern masala, the treatment of women is pretty awful. If you are really bothered by depictions of sexual assault than this is not your film - there is nothing too graphic but things are very strongly hinted at. Although - spoiler alert - nobody gets raped, so thank goodness for small mercies.

The romance track is okay. Ayesha Takia is gorgeous and has decent chemistry with Salman. Better is the comedy, which they all do very well. Ayesha has wonderful body language and did justice to this running gag in which she becomes Madhubala in Mughal-e-Azam.

Prabhudeva was a fantastic director and all of the shots were really nicely done. There are so many clever touches that I don't even know where to begin but framing, use of sound effects, and the aforementioned Mughal-e-Azam running joke were all phenomenal.

And now the big question: Filmi Girl, should I see Wanted? Well, if you are a fan of vintage 70s masala and are looking for a modern update than YES, but bear in mind that the treatment of women is not the best - but if you dislike silly plots, cartoonish gangsters, gratutious songs, and would find a gag in which Salman's shirt BURNS OFF dumb rather than hilarious, then stick with 3 Idiots.

5 comments:

Anisha said...

I never thought that I'd like a movie that has a scene that involves Salman putting his fingers in Ayesha's mouth and teaching her how to whistle.

But I freakin' love it. And I actually cheered when Salman's shirt burnt off :D

Emily said...

I'm still debating whether to see this, because Salman Khan holds no appeal for me and I loved the original so much. But I agree about wanting to see masala with Hindi stars -- I love Telugu movies but I don't want to have to choose between Telugu masala and Hindi "we really really really want the west to take us seriously" movies.

Finding Prakash Raj strangely attractive is totally normal. Welcome to the club!

Filmi Girl said...

@Anisha I'm glad I'm not the only one! Great minds think alike!

@Emily Prakash Raj was just such a good villain! Maybe you should give it a try for him... :D

Liz C said...

I didn't realize Prakash Raj was in this! I've decided he's the Alan Rickman of South Indian film, so there's nothing wrong with finding him hot. Thanks for the rec.

eliza bennet said...

I find Alan Rickman and Prakash Raj (lovingly called Prakash Dad by some blogs) hot too!

And Wanted was a total suprise, and a very nice one. I never read anything about it since I don't really care(d) for Salman but I got it on a recommendation of people at the dvd store.

And I loved this film very very much. I thought it was fun, exciting, sexy and funny (in a good way). I really don't like to make fun of films or watch films just to make fun of them and Wanted, thank God is not such film. While it is really intense, you sense that it doesn't really take itself seriously. I loved many many scenes and at one scene I actually applauded the hero.

Now I'm not one who thinks Salman is hot and I really don't think he is a very good actor but I simply can't think anyone better for the role (despite the age). Style Bhai owned this and I think he is a good comedian (one of the those rare actors whose comedic abilities are a lot better than their drama ones - I think comedy is harder to do) made laugh, made me go "oh no he didn't" and many reactions more.

Good job people who are involved in this film and well done Prabhudeva.

Note from Filmi Girl:

I love Bollywood - and all the ridiculous things that happen in Bollywood - but it doesn't mean that I can't occasionally make fun of various celebrities and films.

If you don't like my sense of humor, please just move on by - Trolls are not appreciated and nasty comments will be deleted.

xoxo Filmi Girl