Sunday, February 12, 2012

Hoo: Namitha Is In This!

Last year during the Diwali bonanza of film releases, I got into a bit of bicker with another non-Indian film blogger who insisted that 7aum Arivu was not “real” masala because in “real” masala, the romance track is always resolved. My understanding of masala filmmaking, on the other hand, is that the only hard-and-fast rule in masala filmmaking is that there are no rules in masala filmmaking. There are conventions that are generally followed, sure. Most masala films have a Hero and Heroine. Most masala films have a comedy track and a villain. And most masala films end with a climatic fight of some sort... but any and all of these rules can be broken. The beauty behind masala filmmaking is that, unlike a strict Robert McKee-style narrative structure, filmmakers can do whatever the hell they want.

This is all a roundabout way of getting to the 2010 Kannada language film Hoo, which I watched earlier this week. Hoo (which translates, I think, to “flowers”) is a funny little film. It can’t be called good by any definition but it was entertaining and surprisingly unpredictable... to a point that the fellow I mentioned above would be forced to categorize it as not masala. (And I dare him to tell that to Crazy Star.)

Hoo begins in the past, where we meet little Anand and Jasmine who are BEST FRIENDS. Jasmine’s passion in life is her violin and she encourages Anand to take up a passion, too... chess! Fast forward some years into the future where Anand and Jasmine are *cough* “19” and now being played, respectively, by Crazy Star Ravichandran (50) and Meera Jasmine (30ish?). Anand has been having trouble with his family because he wants to pursue his dream of playing chess while they want him to go out and earn a proper living. They also don’t approve of his friendship with Jasmine because she’s a Christian. Jasmine, for her part, is just happy in her life - teaching violin and taking care of her adorable father (Rangayana Raghu) who runs a bakery. Anand and Jasmine spend plenty of time hanging out with her chill dad and Anand’s two comic relief buddies (Bullet Prakash and Sharan).

Things go along more or less smoothly (including an epic chess match against one Mr. Prakash Raaj playing the greatest surliest “19” you’ll ever see) until about 45 minutes in when the plot is interrupted by the frantic phone call of Dr. Pavithra Lokesh who is looking for her sister, who has run away. “She’s crazy!” exlaims the the good doctor.

Enter Anju (Namitha), running down the street like her life depended on it.

You see, the luscious Anju is crazy... with love. Her dreams keep being interrupted by a mysterious stranger. But the good doctor can’t say too much because she also has a case of the love-crazies but hers is from a past life. She’s searching for her Mallu. I’m sure it will surprise nobody to learn that Mallu and the stranger are both ANAND!

Anju and Anand meet and sparks fly. (Naturelment!)

Meanwhile, tragic circumstances force Jasmine to move in with Anand’s family. Will Anand’s family accept Jasmine? Will Dr. Pavithra snag her Mallu? Will Anand be able to decide between his heroines? And what about that chess career...

You’ll just have to watch Hoo to find out!

Let’s start with the elephant in the room - Crazy Star Ravichandran. I am completely unfamiliar with his work and I realize that a film like Hoo, from his late period, is really unfair to judge him on. It would appear that the Crazy Star is known for being a romantic hero and I will fully grant that if audiences are coming into this film with a long history of being fans of Crazy Star-style romance it may be effective. However, for this first-timer, Crazy Star seemed to be sleep walking through the entire film while his supporting cast acted circles around him. It also doesn’t help that he’s pushing 50 years old and (to put it mildly) doesn’t carry his middle-aged paunch all that well - the combination of these two factors led to a lot of unintentional humor throughout the course of the film. When the Hero appears to be as old if not older than not just the Heroine’s father but his own reel life father, I will giggle.

That said, there was much to enjoy in Hoo that was intentionally put there. Prakash Raaj’s cameo appearance as a spoiled and surly Draco Malfoy-style rich kid is priceless.

Meera Jasmine was delightful. She managed to be sweet and devoted to her friend without being overly cloying.

Anand’s side-kicks provided plenty of comedy, as to be expected from Sharan and Bullet Prakash! You get what you pay for when it comes to comedians.

Rangayana Raghu as Jasmine’s dad was precious! I loved his sappy visions of Jasmine’s mother and his good-natured cake-making scenes. He even gets to be a little serious, which was unexpected but very welcome. I might not have made it to Namitha’s entrance if it hadn’t been for Rangayana-sir classing up the Hoo with his acting.

I’m shameless enough to admit that I purchased this film for one reason only - Namitha is in it. (And we all know I love Namitha.) As Anju, Namitha really takes the film and runs with it. She dominates every scene she’s in and when she’s gone, you want her back on screen. Namitha’s comic timing is wonderful; her song picturizations are a lot of fun (even if her Kannada lip syncing needs work); and she was just a delight in every frame she was in.

The icing on the (Rangayana baked) birthday of Hoo is the always welcome Pavithra Lokesh, who added some deliciously sapphic undertones to her relationship with Namitha, as well as providing additional comedy and glamour. There is a pair of reel life sisters I’d love to see again!

Other than the performances... well, the music was strictly okay and the sets were cheap and rather unimaginative - as were the costumes. I can’t comment on the dialogues since I don’t speak Kannada. The one thing worth mentioning is the cinematography, which is sprightly and a lot of fun. For example, Anand ringing the door bell got the full camera-shake treatment as did Namitha’s existence.

I can’t recommend Hoo as quality entertainment but if you are, like me, a big fan of Namitha and you enjoy low-brow humor and you can accept the cognitive-dissonance of surly 50-year old “19” year old Hero, then you could do worse than watch Hoo. It’s not great but it’s not bad. The film is fun, has a good heart, and certainly kept me guessing until the end. I believe we call this: a time-pass!

1 comment:

aham said...

First things, you have a lot of patience you watched a movie like Hoo and wrote a comprehensive review on it is commendable.

Now coming to the movie, I havent seen the movie but am familiar with Crazy star's work a lot, cause when he started in late 80's he achieved a kind of cult status, with his mega blockbuster Premaloka in 1987 which was one of the first movies of Juhi Chawla even before QSQT with Aamir, here is a song from Premaloka

also a little info about Crazy Star some people credit him of starting college romance movies in India, i am not sure if its a fact but he is definitely credited for a lot of succcessful movies, he is also called as 'Rasika' meaning a Romantic because he did a lot of love stories, back then he was known for creative ways of shooting songs.

Another brilliant actor is Rangayana Raghu, he is superb in any role you give him,check him out in this video.

as for Namitha i havent seen a lot of movies of her,maybe i should give a try,i think there is a new Kannada movie coming,maybe i will check it out.

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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