Tere Naal Love Ho Gaya

Tere Naal Love Ho Gaya  is the exception that proves the rule. You know – the one that says all real-life couples have absolutely no on-screen chemistry together.  I know there are a few other exceptions out there (although mostly I’m thinking of Hema and Dharmendra films), but they’re few and far between.  But here, Riteish and Genelia share an excellent rapport which makes the film much better than it sounds on paper.  There isn’t anything too different in the way of plot, dialogue or even the characters but the excellent performances of the lead cast make up for a lot, with the end result of a light but entertaining romantic comedy.

Great disclaimer in the opening credits too – always good to see animal safety concerns addressed!

Viren (Riteish Deshmukh) is an auto-rickshaw driver who starts work early every morning in his attempt to save up enough money and realise his dream of running his own fleet of cars.  But he makes two crucial mistakes.  He keeps his savings under the seat of the auto, and he tells his boss Bhatti (Tinnu Anand) about his dream.  So when Viren turns up for work and finds four cars instead of a rank of auto-rickshaws he’s understandably rather upset.  In a weak moment, he drowns his sorrows in alcohol and turns up at Bhatti’s house demanding compensation for his loss just as Bhatti’s daughter Mini (Genelia Deshmukh) is getting engaged.

Mini makes the most of Viren’s drunken appearance and forces Viren to kidnap her at gunpoint in order to escape her rich but brainless suitor Sunny (Kartar Cheema).  Mini is the driving force behind the abduction and much of the comedy in the first half comes from her ruthless manoeuvring of the hapless Viren to escape pursuit and demand a ransom from her father.

I’m sometimes a bit ambivalent about Genelia. I like her when she’s not in manic, hyperactive pixie-mode and there are times here where she veers dangerously close to that. But for most of the film she plays the ruthlessly selfish but bubbly and personable Mini with charm and vivacity and provides the perfect impetus to drive Viren relentlessly out of his comfort zone.  I ended up liking her character more than I expected, particularly in the second half and I think that overall this is one of her better performances. She gets to pull some great faces and wear some lovely costumes, although my favourites are these pajamas covered in little flip flops.

Viren is totally over whelmed by the phenomena that is Mini and Riteish is excellent as the poor but principled auto driver whose life has been completely turned upside down.  I do really like Riteish.  His presence ensures that I will watch a film, no matter how dire it sounds and he’s always worth watching.  I’m very impressed that he has a second career as an architect but he’s a good actor, especially in comedic roles, and, perhaps rather worryingly, he frequently looks much better than he should in a dress.  As much as I love him though, he’s not really my idea of leading man material so I was very impressed that he did so well with his role here – despite a few fashion faux pas and a tendency to try to imitate SRK in the songs.

Unsurprisingly Mini and Viren end up falling in love during a rather strange drunken night at a wedding.  While it’s totally predictable that the two get together, the romance isn’t well developed at all and it’s just assumed that being forced together by the circumstances is enough of a reason for a relationship.  However the chemistry between Mini and Viren is convincing enough to give some plausibility to the proceedings and it’s hard to complain when they do look so good together.

The second half of the film moves to Viren’s family home where his father is the notorious kidnapper Chowdhary (Om Puri) – a man so well-known for his criminal proclivities that his mansion is called Agwaha house. But despite this clue he appears to live there quite unmolested by police or other persons of authority and is free to pursue his chosen profession as and when he wishes.  Om Puri is always good value and I liked his curmudgeonly and testy Chowdhary.  His scenes with Genelia are some of my favourites as she gradually wins his affection and as a result he continually increases her ransom price.

Smita Jayakar is also good as Viren’s mother and the looming presence of the silent Gurmeet Saajan as Viren’s uncle who keeps popping up in the background made me laugh more than it really should.  Viren also has a sister played by Chitrashi Rawat who was better than I expected given the few brief times I’ve seen her since her debut in Chak De India. The rest of the cast are all good in their stereotypical roles but generally they don’t have much to do.

Apart from the excellent performances from Genelia and Riteish there are other good points about the film.  The cinematography is excellent and Chirantan Das makes the countryside look incredibly beautiful. The interior shots around Chowdhary’s house are also well shot and there is good use of light and colour throughout.  The songs by Sachin-Jigar are enjoyable, although the item number suffers from poor choreography and rather too much of Veena Malik but the music is good. The other songs are better pictured although neither Riteish nor Genelia are particularly good dancers but what they lack in technique, they make up for in enthusiasm and since they’re both supposed to be drunk in this song the lack of co-ordination may even be deliberate.

Tere Naal Love Ho Gaya is the debut film by director Mandeep Kumar and writer Abhijeet Sandhu.  It isn’t brilliant, but it does have it’s moments and I found it an enjoyable watch with a very likeable cast.  The whole film has a feel-good flavour and it’s a good lazy afternoon movie for when you don’t want to have to think too much.  Worth watching for the excellent performances by the main leads and Om Puri’s scenes with Genelia.  3 ½ stars.

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Velayudham

Velayudham is the most entertaining film I saw at the cinema this Diwali and despite the lack of subtitles (and the presence of Hansika) it’s the film I enjoyed the most. It’s a full out masala experience and has pretty much everything; sword fights against machete and axe wielding rowdies, bomb blasts, shootouts,  terrorists, a wedding and a funeral, trains, helicopters, horse and car chases. Plus 2 heroines and a plethora of assorted and seemingly never ending supply of villains. M. Raja has added every possible ingredient and stirred well to make a fairly typical but very watchable movie.

The film starts on a serious note with a group of young journalists discovering a crime ring in Chennai. Two of the three fail to escape and are killed by the criminals, but Bharathi  (Genelia D’Souza) manages to get away despite being knifed and thrown into the river. Fate, or possibly karma takes a hand and the gang end up dead by terminal stupidity. Witnessing their final moments, Bharathi writes a statement of vengeance on behalf of a character she makes up on the spur of the moment. She signs this statement Velayudhan and leaves it by the bodies. I’m not sure what her reasoning was and perhaps the statement itself made it clear, but since I didn’t understand the dialogue I decided she wanted to let the villains know that they didn’t always have everything their own way. And perhaps the idea was to spark a little fear too.

It turns out that there is a real life Velayudhan (Vijay) – although he’s definitely not a hero. Vel is an accident prone milk man who causes total havoc in his local village. However his heart is in the right place and he is devoted to his equally scatty sister Kaveri (Saranya Mohan). Vel in turn is adored by his cousin Vaidehi (Hansika Motwani) who is determined that he won’t escape her plans for marriage. Vel’s happy go lucky nature and habit of helping people stands him in good stead as he manages to foil a number of terrorist attacks in Chennai by pure chance. In the course of one such attack he is befriended by Speedu (Santhanam) who is a petty thief and hangs around Vel in the hope of stealing his money. When Vel ‘borrows’ a costume from a jewellery exhibition and chases a gang of thieves on horseback his picture makes it onto the local media and it becomes the iconic image of Velayudhan for the public.

In true super hero style he is adopted as their saviour by the locals and they call for him whenever there is a problem. Vel initially doesn’t want to have anything to do with ’Velayudhan – crime fighter’ but eventually events conspire to make him take the on the role. The chief minister is backing the terrorists and they have an intricate and rather unlikely plot to cause a major disaster involving a train and a chemical plant. Velayudhan has to save the day, which of course he does with plenty of style and panache. There is even a Salman Khanesque moment where Vijay loses his shirt during one of the fight scenes which was appreciated by the audience!

Velayudhan switches between the serious theme of terrorism, over the top action and comedy but somehow it manages to make it all work. The scenes with Bharathi and the various criminal activities she uncovers are powerful and even moving so that once or twice the switch back to comedy with Vel feels a little jarring. However both Vijay and Genelia are excellent and their scenes together as Bharathi tries to convince Vel to take up the super hero role are the best in the film. The action scenes with Vijay are well choreographed if somewhat fantastical but I have to admit I prefer the action with Bharathi in the beginning as she tried to escape the criminal gang. This is more realistic and throughout Genelia does a good job with her action scenes. It’s always good to have a heroine who does more than shriek when there is trouble, and Bharathi is daring and brave even if not particularly good at spotting potential danger.

Although some of the comedy comes from Vel, his sister and his cousin, Santhanam as the opportunistic Speed is the main focus for the laughs and he does a fantastic job yet again. I found him funny just from his expressions alone since I couldn’t understand most of the dialogue and in general the physical comedy worked well.  R. Pandiaraajan has a small comedic role as the police inspector and M. S. Bhaskar, the other comedy stalwart pops up in the village scenes giving plenty of laughs to balance out the action. Although sometimes the action is pretty funny too.

Saranya seems good as Vel’s sister but she doesn’t have a large role to play and without understanding the dialogue I missed a lot of the interaction between brother and sister. Hansika thankfully doesn’t get much screen time either. So far I haven’t liked her in any film, and although I was willing to give her another go, she really doesn’t impress here at all. In particular she cannot dance at all and manages to make Genelia look  amazing by comparison. She is stilted and looks awkward in most of her scenes, although there are a few moments towards the end where she does manage to show a little more life. I don’t think the wardrobe team like her much either as she has some very odd outfits in the songs too.

The music by Vijay Anthony is generally good and the songs fit into the film reasonably well, but work best when Vijay is dancing showcasing his talents alone. A song with Hansika just looks terrible and one with the two heroines dancing with Vijay is spoiled by some very strange outfit choices.

It’s Vijay’s film all the way and he delivers as an action hero although Genelia does give him some strong competition and her performance is very impressive. The film does start to drag a little towards the end where the plot becomes too focused on action sequences and loses touch with reality but it’s still a fun watch. Worth seeing on the big screen for Vijay fans and anyone who likes action packed mass masala that doesn’t require too much thought.

Sye

The first half of Sye is director SS Rajamouli’s take on West Side Story – except that instead of knives two rival college gangs fight it out on the rugby field in a reasonable facsimile of Rugby Union. There is romance but no Romeo and Juliet inspired tragedy and by the second half the film has morphed into a fairly standard sports film, underdogs and inspirational speech included. Sye is Rajamouli’s third film and was another hit, proving that no matter what the subject matter he manages to tell a good story.

The film begins with a very violent over throw of local don Narayana by Bikshu Yadhav; the wonderfully evil Pradeep Rawat in totally over-the-top villain mode.  This all becomes very relevant later on, but initially seems quite disconnected from what follows. As a bonus though, there is Ajay as one of the gang.

Next we move on to the MK College of Arts and Sciences or, as the film helpfully points out, Arts vs. Sciences. The college is split into two factions; one led by the son of the headmaster, Prithvi (Nitin)and the other by Shashank (Shashank). Science students have taken on the name of Wings and are self-confessed less disciplined than the Arts students: the Claws. I thought this was a little strange as most science students in my experience tend to be the nerdy conformist types – terrible generalisation I know but I was a science student which probably explains a lot! The hero Prithvi and his rival Shashank do a lot of taunting and grimacing at each other but there is very little actual violence – everything is settled on the rugby pitch.

Genelia plays Indu, an Arts student who acts as another point of contention between Prithvi and Shashank. Her introduction starts well enough as this rather cute song where the lyrics are made up of signs and posters Prithvi and Indu see along their route.

This pleasant introduction is totally ruined by the next scene which is probably the most ridiculous and stupid in the entire film. Getting onto the wrong bus, Indu is pursued and then forcibly tattooed by the rival Wings gang. Yes, tattooed! Never mind the difficulty of tattooing someone against their will when they are struggling, or that it would take more time than the few minutes shown to actual achieve such an intricate design, but then this act of outrage is NEVER MENTIONED AGAIN!!!! This really bothered me as I just couldn’t see that something as permanent and potentially disfiguring as a tattoo wouldn’t cause more of a reaction, but it didn’t seem to bother Indu much at all.

Moving quickly on, since everyone else in the film does, the two gangs take their rivalry onto the rugby field which is where I had my next ‘what the?’ moment. Now I’m a big fan of Rugby Union. It was the sport of choice for the guys at my school in Northern Ireland and I grew up watching the game. My husband also played for many years and it’s still my favourite sport, which was one of the reasons why I wanted to watch this film. But in all my years of watching Union games, I have never seen anything like the scoring system used here. Unless there is a strange form of the game in India (which I really do doubt), I suspect Rajamouli totally made it up. The rest of the game however did seem to mainly follow the usual rules and was fun to watch.

In another plot point that is never totally resolved, the headmaster Satyam pits the two gangs against each other to develop land behind the school as a rugby field, telling them that he will name the ground for whoever finishes first. They must have both finished together as the ground seems to end up as the MK Arts and Colleges ground. Despite Satyam’s good intentions, this accomplishment doesn’t manage to unite the two sides and with Indu rapidly becoming a bone of contention between the two gang leaders, the situation deteriorates further.  I’m not entirely sure why Nitin is wearing a vest underneath a see-through shirt here, but it really doesn’t work. Especially not with the puffy sleeves and a cap.

It all culminates in a huge fight between the two sides which the police try unsuccessfully to break up. Strangely they are about to do this by firing at the limbs of people in the crowd. Really? Whatever happened to other perhaps less potentially fatal options like water cannons or tear gas? Anyway, they don’t get the chance, as Bikshu Yadav (remember him?) shows up asserting his rights to the land, in a rather skilful display of coordinated 4-wheel drive manoeuvring.

It’s never very clear exactly why Bikshu Yadav wants this land so much, but he tortures and kills the legal owner to get it. There is a very unpleasant scene where he threatens a pregnant woman, which was really quite nauseating, but thankfully threats is as far as he goes.

The appearance of an enemy finally gets the Wings and Claws start to work together. You add together wings and claws, and you get Eagles – of course!

Rather sensibly advised by Prithvi, the Eagles decide to fight their enemy by subterfuge rather than by direct opposition. They use a variety of techniques to ruin his drug and alcohol businesses, derail his political career and even manage to stop his nights of passion with his mistress.

However they are too clever for their own good and are ratted out to Bikshu Yadav  by Venu Madhav, who appears periodically throughout the film in a rather silly comedy role. This leads to a final show down rugby match which is attended by a huge crowd and is also televised. Not only that but they even have a third umpire and there’s even a hakka. I loved the drums and team mascot for the Bulls and the half-time inspirational speech by the Eagles coach. Even if it was a mish-mash from the classics, political speeches and other sporting films – but then again aren’t they all?

The film improves a lot in the second half where there are fewer totally ridiculous moments, and the story is more engaging. There are some clever ideas but overall the film is quite patchy and jumps around between the two different themes. The violence perpetrated by Bikshu Yadav is an abrupt contrast to the college story and for me this keeps disrupting the flow. Genelia really doesn’t have much to do in this film other than be the love interest and the reason for the two gangs to finally fight it out. Her character is annoyingly complacent with the antics of Prithvi and Shashank and finally is almost totally sidelined in the second half of the film. Nitin and Shashank do well as the two college kids, but are totally overshadowed by Pradeep Rawat who revels in as much violence as possible. I am a fan of Ajay and I love to see him turn up as one of the villains, since he always seems to be having such a great time being one of the bad guys. The various actors playing the students do a good job of creating a typical college atmosphere and stalwarts of Telugu cinema Tanikella Bharani and Nassar provide good support for the younger cast.  I was somewhat surprised that one of the songs Chantaina Bujjaina is a remix of the classic Hindi song Duniya Mein Logon Ko from Apna Desh but it didn’t work here quite as well as it might have.

Overall Sye is not a bad film, but it’s not a particularly good film either. Worth watching for the final rugby game which really is the high point and just bumps the film up to 3 stars for me.

Temple says:

I didn’t see any West Side story qualities in Sye, just a bunch of college boys with nothing better to do. Had there been stronger dramatic tension or real animosity between the school factions in the first half this would have been a better film. The rivalry between Arts & Sciences was childish and not terribly interesting as basically, the group members were pretty interchangeable. And to Heather’s point about the Science geeks being the quiet good kids…well, I was an Arts student and the Engineering parties at Melbourne Uni back in the day were legendary. The first half meandered from silly pranks to macho posturing and back again. It wasn’t until the rowdies became the common enemy uniting the college that there was any drama.

One of many problems I had with Indu’s character was  the supposed love triangle. It didn’t work as Shashank and Prithvi were pretty much the same so it didn’t matter which one got the girl. I actually really liked Genelia’s performance in this – Indu was energetic and engaging, not crazy bubbly. And she tried to dance which is always fun. Unfortunately her character is one of the most stupid I have ever endured. I was glad when Indu stuck to cheerleading in the second half as I was in danger of tearing an eye-rolling muscle. Prithvi constantly tricked her into inappropriate behaviour and it made me dislike the pair of them intensely (her for being so dumb and him for being an arsehole). Nitin and Shashank were, as I said, virtually the same in terms of their characters. Neither of them really stood out, apart from Nitin’s hideous song outfits. Certainly when Pradeep Rawat is in full throttle, I think you need a hero with a bit more testosterone.

And back to the dancing – a friend of ours once tried to teach a dance step with the instruction ‘sit into it lower and try and move like a really sexy duck’. I think perhaps someone said the same to Genelia in the ‘Duniya Mein’ remake but it turned out more funky chicken than sexy duck. I will never forget the look on Jag’s face when she saw the results and I think the choreographer for this may have felt a bit the same.

I have issues with a rugby try that was clearly not a try (especially when it is called a touchdown and is under the Chicago Bulls basketball team logo), as well as the bizarre scoring and some other things which were at odds with the bits they got right. I guess a proper college team played most of the games, which did make it more enjoyable and realistic, although the actors’ rugby scenes were noticeably less believable. The haka was both impressive and so very wrong.

Despite the woeful story Rajamouli has an eye for great set shots and action sequences, and really understands the tempo of a story. This was surprisingly enjoyable at times, but the good bits are few and far between. I give this 2 ½ stars.