Go Goa Gone

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I like a good caper, I like zombie movies and I don’t mind copious swearing. So Go Goa Gone should have been tailor made for me. Sadly, after a promising start – featuring Chiru in Golimar! I cheered! – the film fell away into rote dialogues and predictable predicaments.  Raj and DK had a great idea but the execution didn’t quite do it for me.

Luv (Vir Das) and Hardik (Kunal Khemu) are dope smoking slackers, nominally employed but really living off their good friend Bunny (Anand Tiwari). Luv breaks up with his girlfriend Priyanka and Hardik decides that all he needs is another woman to cure his woes. So off to Goa they head, freeloading on Bunny’s business trip. Luv meets Luna (Pooja Gupta) who invites him to a rave on a deserted island. Following much recreational drug use, the boys wake up the next day to discover the party goers have become zombies with a taste for blood. The boys rescue Luna, run into Boris (Saif Ali Khan) the mafia dude who ran the party and they all hustle to get to safety.

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The first section of the film sets up the characters of Luv, Hardik and Bunny. Although different personalities on the surface, they’re all whiny boys who don’t take responsibility for much and have little clue. Luv is the more appealing as he seems to have a faint notion of how to be decent and Vir Das generally nails the right balance of silly and serious. Hardik (imagine the puns) is more self-centred and less inclined to bestir himself to make an effort. Kunal Khemu plays most scenes just for laughs, sometimes to great effect. Bunny is the good boy who wouldn’t mind being bad but lacks opportunity. The dialogue is mostly one liners, some hilarious some not, and insults. If you find calling someone ‘fucker’ over and over really funny, this is your movie.

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Pooja Gupta is very good as the smart and sensible Luna. She deals with the undead and the unceasingly horny with the same air of faint dismay, and generally runs away from trouble not at it so I approved of her. She is a very pretty girl but despite spending most of the film in micro shorts and a strappy top, she isn’t just eye candy. I loved her scenes with the boys as they each thought they were sharing a moment with her and she shut them down ruthlessly.

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Boris is a caricature. In fact, I think Saif took his character references from Bob Christo. With a bad wig, fake tatts, a dodgy accent that he maintains even after admitting he isn’t Russian, he is a charismatic presence without being in the least bit real.

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I think Boris is also indicative of the confusion within this film about whether it is a comedy or a horror or both. The gore is very gory so that was a bit darker than needed with the comedy and the horror element isn’t scary enough. The zombiefication occurred after the rave goers took a specific $5000 pill which fried their brains, but then was transmitted by bite. So there’s no logic in the threat, and it’s a really bad business model if you kill your clients after one dose. They were just shuffling zombies of varying acting ability. But there are some moments of the quirky genius I expected from the team that delivered 99 and Shor in the City. Hardik lures a zombie girl away in a brilliant filmi song inspired romp around trees and through the woods, his facial expressions totally at odds with the music and body language. They take a boat called the Tatinic to the island, the Russians subtitles are in a specific font. There are lots of details to enjoy.

There is an overt anti-smoking and anti-drug message that is about as subtle as a zombie bite. One of the warnings struck me more as an effort to placate Goan authorities for yet again portraying Goa as a place overrun with crime and drug addled ‘zombies’ than anything else. A further warning at the end was heavy handed and careless. I felt the second half just lost momentum as it needed to ramp up.

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It’s a very stylish film (except for a few zombie ravers who looked a bit like accountants), and the Sachin-Jigar soundtrack works well with the sharply edited visuals. Some subtitles are out of synch with the dialogue, which surprised me in a project that otherwise had good production values.

I laughed at some lines, but didn’t find this terribly funny especially in the second half. It’s a kind of Delhi Belly of the Living Dead, and neither as fun or frightening as it could have been. Worth a look, but not the zom-com I hoped for.

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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.