Sunday, December 6, 2009

My Biggest Disappointments of 2009

I had my fun with snarking films I have no intention of seeing, so now I'd like to turn my attention back to the films that I did see this year.

To qualify as a disappointment, a film had to promise me something that it didn't deliver - and in most cases this year, that "something" was emotion. I may seem a little naive or idealistic to expect emotion (or to use the PPCC term, "masala dil") but one of things I love about Bollywood IS the ability to make films that get you involved.

I understand that not everybody has my same criteria for a good film, so my list of disappointments probably won't line up with yours but I think this is worth discussing.

And unlike my list of films that bombed, these are all films that I have seen and I went in expecting something entertaining from each of them.

#5 Blue

One Akshay Kumar's five releases this year - and one of two that make up my biggest disappointments list. I can say unreservedly that Blue is all washed up.

I went in expecting something like Dhoom 2: a combination of action, comedy, romance, and fun song picturizations and I don't think I was being unreasonable in my expectations. "Chiggy Wiggy," Kylie's famous million-dollar item number, had been hyped relentlessly, and much was made of Akshay's underwater stunts. But instead of the over-the-top masala film I was promised, what was delivered was something more like The Fast and the Furious: Underwater Drift.

Blue had stunts, yes, but any momentum gained from watching Akshay and Zayed zip around on motorbikes was quickly squandered by the bloated beached whale that ate Sanjay Dutt. And when your narrative depends almost entirely on stunts to carry you through, if they don't work, your audience will have plenty of time - like I did - to contemplate how boring the characters, dialogues, songs, and narrative are.

You can read my original review here.

#4 8 x 10 Tasveer

(Poor Akki! Two in a row...)

Another wasted opportunity for masala from Akshay Kumar was 8 x 10 Tasveer. What really killed me about this one was that (unlike Blue) it had everything you would need for an enjoyable masala film but style. The director made the bizarre choice of filming everything in a Hollywoodish "realistic" style, which made the plot elements that we could normally accept with no problem, seem extremely bizarre. Imagine if somebody shot Johnny Mera Naam as a serious thriller and you can see what I mean.

No songs. No glitzy costumes. No over-the-top acting. No wonder it tanked.

You can read my original review here.

#3 Luck by Chance

I might get some flack for this one, but I don't care. Luck by Chance was an average film that had the potential to be fascinating. Much like 8 x 10 Tasveer, Luck by Chance had a problem with tone - it was half a farce about making a Bollywood film and half Page 3. Zoya couldn't seem to make up her mind if she was laughing at or with the industry and Farhan's performance was so opaque that it felt like I was watching a psychopath.

Luck by Chance ended up feeling like the bitter rant of an industry insider, full of disdain for the viewing public who enjoys the type of over-the-top films that Zoya was lampooning. Mocking your viewers is never a great way to make bank - and Luck by Chance was certainly an example in how to make a flop.

You can read my original review here

#2 Kaminey

Add this to the pile with 8 x 10 Tasveer - a masala film missing some dil. And like 8 x 10 Tasveer, Kaminey felt like a waste of talent and had me checking my watch by about an hour in and wishing I had decided to re-watch Omkara instead.

I know people really liked Kaminey, which is fine, but I don't understand where all the praise is coming from. It's certainly not a bad film but it's not a good one, either. It's just kind of average - like a middlegrade Tarentino film. And that is where the disappointment comes in. When something is built up as THE NEXT BIG THING ZOMG, I get excited. When THE NEXT BIG THING ZOMG is Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels: In Hindi, I am disappointed.

You can read my original review here.

#1 Kurbaan

Of all the films I saw in 2009, Kurbaan was the only one that was a perfect storm of DISAPPOINTMENT.

It's crimes:

* Promising me a "terroromance" in the posters and everything and yet, not having any romance in the film.

* Saif's Boxoted face.

* No song picturizations.

* A laughably bad script.

* Indulging some of the WORST stereotypes about non-Indian Muslims I've seen on the Bollywood screen in quite some time.

* Being a really bad film.

Of course, even Kurbaan had a silver lining and, for me, enjoying K.Jo.'s pissy defense of his steaming pile of shit was almost worth sitting through it in the first place. Also, there is the cold comfort that this completely tanked.

You can read my original review here and my take on the Muslim stereotypes here.


shell said...

I did mention last post that Luck By Chance was probably in my favorites of the year, but probably because I've only seen a few. I tried to watch Kaminey last week and fell asleep. I might try it again, but it's not going to rush onto my dvd anytime soon. I don't think I will ever see Kurbaan after everything I've read. While the producers and directors are turning to making more "realistic" fare, I've decided that I think I'm actually starting to prefer earlier Bollywood. I love the songs, the dances, the cheesy comedy, the evil villains, the romance. Now that's what made me fall in love with these movies in the first place.
I'd take a viewing of Duplicate over Kurbaan any day!

Filmi Girl said...

@shell I just couldn't get into Luck by Chance - it really rubbed me the wrong way. :)

martoufmarty said...

Of these I've seen Luck By Chance and Kaminey, both which I really enjoyed.

But... WHAT - Kurbaan had no songs??? There goes any motivation of seeing it. Maybe I'll find a torrent or something. No way I'd spend money for it now ;) It just sounds like a terrible film all around.

oneknightstands said...

oh dear,..Luck By Chance was a delight to watch especially Chintu jee and Koko played their parts exceptionally.

As for Kaminey, the delight in watching it is when you actually understand the silly little details in the silly side characters and their own characteristic dialect. The Bengalis, The Marathis and the Mumbaiyas. The entire environment built around them is just spot on, and the mesh of characters woven into the crazy storyline - it was brilliant. I won't call it a disappointment by any standard.

On a totally different level, I wouldn't consider Kurbaan or even London dreams a dissapointment - just because I did expect that level of crappyness [ if that is a word].

I'm very very excited about 3 idiots. :)

Filmi Girl said...

@oneknightstands Clearly we have very different tastes in films because I wasn't impressed with either Kaminey and Luck by Chance - which were both disappointments by my standards.

And I'm skipping 3 Idiots because I really don't want to see Aamir acting like a 22-year old. :D

What films were you disappointed in?

eliza bennet said...

The reason I like Tasveer 8x10 so much is its great cinematography. I love clean looking films and Kokunoor delivers them (Dor was also like this). I also liked the acting in Tasveer. The twist and the rest were all not really good - and the stunts outright funny for a seasoned HK action fan but the film overall entertained me very much and I'm thinking that I'll watch it again sometime purely to enjoy visuals.

I'm very curious about Kurbaan (and your take on it which I didn't read since I'm staying away from the spoilers).

I want to watch 3 Idiots since Mr.Hirani is a very good director and he is wonderful at melodrama and I liked the book and see what he has made of it.

To answer your question my biggest dissapointment was DBH since I somehow built up the anticipation and ended up severely dissapointed with a lazy film. I really like Rani but the film neither entertained me nor evoked any sort of emotion other than awe for Rani's artistic skills.

Emily said...

I'm still curious about Kurbaan because I just can't believe that a movie can look SO AMAZING in the trailers and stills and whatnot and be that bad...right? (Don't answer that! :-D)

Agree about Kaminey; to listen to some people it was the Best Movie Ever Made in India but I didn't think it was all that great. Shahid did a good job but I much prefer him as candyfloss loverboy. I can't help it; I'm 12 years old at heart!

I think my biggest disappointment this year was Billu (though there are still a lot I need to catch up on before I can say that officially). Other than Shah Rukh's item songs it wasn't worth it.

Filmi Girl said...

@eliza I guess I wasn't expecting much more from DBH than Shahid in a v-neck sweater and Rani being perky and that is exactly what it delivered. :)

@Emily re: Kaminey Exactly. It's not that I think it's a bad film per se but it's not a work of genius. It's a mildly enjoyable film in the manner of Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels or something. If that is what I had known it was going to be, I wouldn't have been disappointed but the fact that it was sold as ZOMG!TEHBESTEVER!1!!111! and it is clearly NOT the greatest film of all time makes for a disappointed Filmi Girl.

And re: Billu I might be the only person who enjoyed that one, too. I thought it was cute! ;P

eliza bennet said...

I liked Billu too (but I thought it would have been more interesting with SRK starring as Billu and Salman or Aamir starring as the superstar.

And Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels is actually a fave of mine but I didn't think about it when I watched Kaminey (of course now that you mentioned it I see resemblences). Kaminey is sort of the film I enjoy, Indian or otherwise and I agree that it was not masala but I'll argue that it has dil.

moviemeh said...

Luck by Chance ended up feeling like the bitter rant of an industry insider, full of disdain for the viewing public who enjoys the type of over-the-top films that Zoya was lampooning.

Gosh, if it were doing that, how did he convince all those stars to participate in it?

I took it more as affectionately poking fun at things which happen in reality if Bollywood gossip/ news is to be believed.

Filmi Girl said...

@moviemeh That might have been her intention but it didn't feel that way to me. :) That's all I'm saying...

moviemeh said...

Oops, SHE not HE. And thanks for the clarification :)

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
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