Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Movie Review: Shakthi The Power (Hindi movie) (2002)

With a name as silly as that, I was prepared for all eventualities.

The movie: it seems is a copy of an English movie. Please……….can we have some originality once in a while.

The story: Karishma Kapoor, the orphaned daughter of a rich restauranteer, is guardianed by Tiku Talsania and ‘Flop Show’ Jaspal Bhatti in blink-and-miss roles; in Canada. In a few more blink-and-miss scenes, she manages to act silly and get engaged to Sanjay Kapoor, act silly then sing a song and get pregnant, act silly some more and have the boy grow up to a kindergarten age for it to be prepared for a bigger disaster on hand.

As an aside the pregnant KK acts not just silly but in a manner which is risky (or is it frisky…….well both) when pregnant. Which brings to mind the Preity Zinta song in Salaam Namaste when she is pregnant but dances and bounces as if she is determined to have if not an aborted foetus, at least a stirred and shaken baby. What do these girls think they are being? Cute? Tchaah!!!

Watch that here

Anyway, The saccharine-sweet Karishma agrees to a marriage, consummates it and delivers a baby in all of the first 15 minutes. That done and out of the way, the story starts. SK’s past which KK never seems to have inquired about, tumbles out of the closet. A news story about a remote Indian villages makes breaking news in their Canadian home……how? Don’t ask. And SK starts behaving alarmingly erratically. Not long after that all 3 depart to the motherland; a village in Rajasthan where SK believes his mother has been affected by the riots.

The village turns out to be a feudal setup with SKs father Nana Patekar a ruthless feudal landowner who indulges in thuggish behavior. In a lawless land, clan rivalries and enmities abound. Its not long after that SK gets killed and KK is at the mercy of Nana and his thuggish ragtag army of bomb-makers. Nana is willing to let go of KK but not his grandson, his only surviving direct descendant. The rest of the film deals with KK’s attempts to deal with a feudal setup and indeed escape from it with her son, and her wits intact. It is a promising storyline but unfortunately all else is downhill thereafter in most other departments of movie-making.

Oh, and by the way it also guest-stars Shahrukh Khan and Aishwarya Rai, the latter only for a song and the former hams his way for a substantial part of the second half to aid KK in her escape.

[v. hammed, ham·ming, hams
To overact.
To exaggerate or overdo (a dramatic role, for example).]

Some other vignettes (do you really expect hidden gems in here?) from the ……and I have to struggle to get the word out………movie.

Throughout the movie, you have to deal with Karishma, the pocket-sized dynamo of over-acting, the mistress of the above-the-top school of acting. Her role is a scream, literally. She screams her way through the movie in the hope of finally getting a scene right.

Her acting is….well, so shallow and urbanish, devoid of empathy (not through design but through inexperience). Her stock expressions seem to revolve around hysteria and hysterical reactions. Her defiance is too well manicured to seem sincere.

The placement of almost all the songs seems to have been done by a novice or an incredibly insensitive fellow. It is so discordant as to be ugly. 2 examples will suffice

1. A gruesome ‘clan vengeance killing’ is followed by a frisky song featuring Prabhu dancing an urban dance amidst pots and hundreds of extras. The setting is a traditional/conservative Rajasthani/Marwari clan based community (seemingly, incredibly displaying some Bihari/Uttar Pradeshi accents) with women the chattel of men, and we have an item girl displaying her ample midriff and dancing with Prabhudeva. WTF?? This is like a restaurant (this is the key word!) Punjabi meal, full of oil and lots of spice, giving 12 hours of rumbling stomach, burning ass and indigestion afterwords. Phew!! There I have got it out of my system

2. The song ‘Ishq Kamina’ is quite catchy. Shahrukh Khan gets to display his charisma and Aishwarya Rai (Mrs Funny Faces) her lack of it. But the placement of the song is distressing. It starts after a particularly gut-wrenching emotional scene where Karishma is separated from her son. Duh!![Ishq Kameena: Music Annu Malik. Lyrics: Sameer]

Watch it to observe Aishwarya’s lack of soul in dancing. The song, the tune, the choreography is appealing in its own way

The Editing and screenplay continuity i.e. their lack of it make us doubt the sensibilities of the movie maker.

The insensitivity in some of the scenes is intolerable, particularly those involving the child. The way the child is person-handled in the movie is shocking and deplorable……..and all in the name of art and with scarce a thought to the safety of the child. The director, Karishma and Nana should probably be under legal scrutiny for this.


Its Nana who shines through. As the feudal master with his many hues and shades he dominates every scene he stars in. His roughness, his eccentricities, his small gestures and movements, his camera presence, his identification with the persona………..all appeals. Nana Patekar is the only major character who lends a backbone to the film.

As Nana’s father, stars Chandrakant Gokhale, the veteran of Marathi cinema and father of the famous artiste, Vikram Gokhale. He impresses in a cameo role of grand-dad of Sanjay Kapoor and father of Nana Patekar. As an old man partially paralysed and unable to speak he shows a smooth ease with his craft. (Vikram Gokhale by the way, played the role of Aishwarya’s father in Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam and the police inspectors role in the Amitabh starrer Agneepath.)

And Deepti Naval, as Nana’s long suffering but surprisingly well-dressed wife shines in a way good actors shine in filth too.

What Nana and Deepti try to achieve through economy of movement and gesture and a strong empathy with the character, the younger generation: Shahrukh, Karishma and Sanjeev lose it all through lack of subtlety, hamming and over-the-top acting.

And watch out for some super crane camera shots….including those of the smallish feudal fort……wow!!

And some marks to karishma…at least she tries…..though its mostly in the wrong direction

At the end of it, about the best thing that you can say about the movie is that at least it gets over and done with.

Here are some comments I gathered from other online film reviews. Just love them

“Performance wise Karisma screams well. At times you feel like running as far as possible”
“Overall, Sridevi's first production venture is a total confusion”
“A potentially fine picture in search of a much better director”
“Karisma Kapoor, an actress of considerable range, seems constrained to tearful hysteria”
“Megastar Shah Rukh Khan, who appears in second half as a comic alcohol smuggler who helps Nandini escape, seems to have wandered in from another movie.”

This is a good review of the film (Definition of ‘good’: one that substantially agrees with mine)

An interview with Nana

Deepti Naval's website


bollyviewer said...

You're certainly one devoted movie-viewer! I began watching this with a group of friends and inspite of the great company (we were commenting and making fun of everything) and accessibility of the fast-forward button, none of us could make it past the 45 min mark. And for me the worst aspect of the film (even worse than KK's shrieks) was Nana Patekar's thickly Marathi-accented UP/Bihari Hindi. He plays the same roles over and over again in the same vein with the same kind of dialogue-delivery and yes, the same accent!

And by the way, unless advised otherwise, pregnant women are encouraged to do aerobics and other exercises (Preity seems to be doing aerobics here) - so you neednt worry about shaken/stirred foetuses!

Nirvana said...

U are right, i missed commenting on that. Nana did speak accented UP/Bihari Hindi. But the rest of his performance more than made it up for me.

As for Preity's and Karishma's antics when pregnant, i still maintain that whatever they did was quite risky for a pregnant woman to have done