Friday, September 18, 2009

Kambakkht Ishq: Enjoyable Fluff!

Today's transferred review is for The Bollywood Fan who just saw this film!

It is out on DVD for anyone who is interested!!!

Once again I find myself on the wrong side of the critical divide – siding with the masses. The Times of India says, ”Never has a Hindi film script ever been so derogatory towards women.” Rajiv Masand over at IBN is upset that ”…Akshay farts in Amrita Arora's face for no reason at all.” Glamsham put it like this – the film is filled with ”…stupid, mindless scenes, which challenge your mental stability.” And I was amused at the New York Times reviewer who seemed confused that there were”South Asians everywhere (but India nowhere in sight).”

Yes, Kambakkht Ishq was utterly ridiculous and going into this film expecting anything other than a collection of jokes tied together with the thinnest of plots, you will be sorely disappointed. That said, I found Kambakkht Ishq to be a very satisfying collection of jokes relying on character-based jokes, slapstick, and Bollywood meta-humor in equal parts.

Kambakkht Ishq the story of a woman who hates men and a man who loves women – and by “loves” I mean he “loves” to sleep with them and leave them the next morning. Obviously they are going to fall in love by the end of the film!

The man (Akshay Kumar) and the woman (Kareena Kapoor) meet for the first time while trying to stop their respective best friends (Aftab Shivdasani and Amrita Arora) from getting married – to each other. The chauvinism eminating from both sides breaks up the marriage and the rest of the film is spent in a battle of wills between the sexes, to see who is weaker. All of this is set against the glitzy backdrop of Hollywood, allowing for plenty of girls in bikinis and on-set action stunts. All of this would have been a disaster with a different cast.

As mentioned before, Akshay’s character Viraj does indeed fart in Amrita Arora’s face. That is the kind of movie this is and Akshay makes the most of it – willing to be the “butt”, if you’ll pardon the pun, of jokes as well appearing in his cool dude avatar. Viraj is a chronic womanizer – much as Akshay Kumar is rumored to be in real life – the kind that thinks that women are only out to hunt and spear a mate. Like all great fictional womanizers, he’s just waiting to meet the one woman who is able to resist his charms. In this case, that would be Bebo – Kareena Kapoor, who is perfectly cast as the super-model/surgeon who is able to cut out Viraj’s heart and hand it back to him.

Perhaps the main reason that the awful things Viraj says about women didn’t make me curdle in anger was that Bebo says some very nasty things back. And when he gets the better of her in a spat, she gives it right back at the next opportunity – by, for example, passing a tip to the police that gets him taken aside at the airport for an unpleasant body cavity search – and waiting around to gloat and do a victory dance. Now, if anyone but Kareena had been playing Bebo, I don’t think I would have enjoyed it this much but Kareena is tough. She’s got a steely on-screen presence that can stand-up to the most macho of heroes. Where one of the pretty young things would have cutely giggled in mock-anger at one of Viraj’s insults and faux-insulted him back while fluttering her eye-lashes, Kareena is able to spit a hateful insult right back at Viraj without a single hint of coyness.

(I like to think that I would be more subtle about checking out Bebo's ass than the girl on the right.)

And so I say backwaas to those who claim that the film is too misogynistic. (Especially you, TOI reviewer who praised No Entry while saying Kambakkht Ishq was too hateful towards women.) Sure, Amrita Arora was dumb – but so was her husband, played by a guy whom I would never accuse of ever playing “smart” or “cunning”, Aftab Shivdasani. And for every time Bebo wiggled her chest, Akshay took off his shirt – or trousers – or both. If anything, Kambakkht Ishq was rather refreshing in having the heroine so present in the story – Bebo had a lot more to do than Katrina Kaif in Welcome or Singh is Kinng. Even professional bimbo Denise Richards manages to come across as a nice person – far from that old chestnut the Gori Vamp, a type still making the filmi rounds.

The one weak point in the narrative was the turn-around in the romance. Unlike the romantic part of Tashan, the pivot point here is rather unconvincing emotionally – although I reserve the right to change my mind when I watch a second time. I won’t go into to too much detail to avoid spoiling the plot but let’s just say that Bebo’s sister and mother in the film have similar backstories to Bebo’s real life sister and mother and that contributed in large part to her impression of men as scumbags. And Viraj is kind of taken aback when he hears this and pivots the narrative around.

But Bollywood masala remains Bollywood masala and I would be remiss if I did not mention Javed Jaffrey’s hilarious turn as a campy NRI followed by some of RD Burman’s moody theme-music from the The Train and prone to terrible puns. On the female side is the somewhat underused Kirron Kher as Bebo’s marriage-obsessed aunty Dolly – who gets Jawani Jaaneman as a theme song. Boman Irani also gets a fun cameo as a doctor.

One final point I'd like to make is that it was really nice to see Akshay Kumar (41) paired opposite Denise Richards (38) and Kareena Kapoor (an older-looking 28) rather than Deepika (23) and Ayesha Takia (23) or even Katrina ("24"). These young girls only make our 40-something actors look like uncle-ji's! Rather than looking like an "evergreen" child molester (*cough* Saifu, I'm looking at you in Love Aaj Kal), Akshay looked sexy in a mature and seasoned way.

No, I lied - this is my final point - can anyone give me an explanation for all the scarves Akki has been wearing lately? It's not just in Kambakkht Ishq, he had them on during the Levi's Unbuttoned runway walk and in his last couple of films.
Here are my theories:

a) Twinkle thinks they are fashionable and so he just has to wear them.
b) He - or his stylist - thinks his neck is a "problem area" and is keeping it covered.
c) They are a way to cover up the "love bites" he gets being the womanizer he is rumored to be.

Which one do you like best?

So, yes, the songs are loud, the comedy is loud, the clothes are loud, and the acting is very loud; it all had me laughing out loud! I absolutely cannot wait to buy the DVD so I can have fun screen-capping all the ridiculous goings-on!


bollywooddeewana said...

I go with Twinkle thinks they're fashionable and he just has to wear it

Most times i'll give her props she does indeed dress him well, but other times its like 'mehhhh'

I knew not to expect much from this movie right from day one when i posted the trailer, i knew it was going to be trash fluffy humour. Its on my rental list, i had to reserve forking out for it

the old man/young girl thing a la Saif and Deepika doesn't bother me at all, i know of many such real life situations and i have lots of girlfriends who actually prefer dating older men,

it's a thing of preference i suppose, i mean look at Tom Cruise/Katie, Catherine Zeta Jones/Micheal Douglas etc.

Filmi Girl said...

Hee!! I kind of like the idea that Akki cares so little for fashion, he's just, "Whatever, Twinkle, I'll wear it. Now let me get back to kickboxing."

theBollywoodFan said...

Thanks for the link, Filmi Girl. It's here, unwrapped, and as I was saying on Twitter, I'm excited to consume (in all my shallowness) the eye candy in this one, more than anything else :) Will def. get back to you here when done with it. Cheers.

simran said...

This movie was very stupid. But I thought it was stupid in a good way :D I enjoyed it and I think people should've watched it after turning their brains off for a while instead of analyzing everything too carefully. Akki is just a really great actor :D And about the scarves...I don't really wanna think about it lol xD

S said...

Non-Hindus may not understand this but I hated the fact that a Hindu "mantra" was being played while Akshay was peeing. Had it been anything to do with any other religion we would have seen rioting on the streets but since it's being disrespectful to Hinduism, it's passed off as "funny". I hated that aspect of this movie.

Filmi Girl said...

@s I think you may be over-reacting... Bollywood makes fun of Christianity all the time (my religion) and there is never rioting in the streets.

To some extent we all have to accept that sometimes, some things will offend us.

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