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1.     Dhoom 2(2006)  Clever… very clever. That’s the impression  you come away with from  this  sumptuous package  of  gloss glamour glitter and  an  oomph quotient  that starts at  the neck  and goes to the naval.It’s the region above the  neck and below the  waist  which Dhoom 2  occupies  effortlessly, fluently and virilely.  If  you’ve seen  the  first instalment  of Dhoom(and who hasn’t?) you  would know  Abhishek Bachchan  and Uday Chopra carry forward  their characters. And that’s not an easy thing to  do.  Abhishek is saddled with an aura of solemnity while everyone  else has  a rolicking time. The others  whip a dhoom. Abhishek is clouded in gloom.Make no mistake. Dhoom 2 is about letting  your hair down as far as it can go.  The  carnivalesque climate  is  carried all the way to Brazil where the sweaty tropical mood is imbibed  into the characters as they play a strangely ambivalent game  of cat and mouse.Yes, there are the law-enforcers and the law-breakers.  But  how  do we tell them apart? Certainly not  by the glamour quotient which is applied to the antagonist Aryan(Hrithik) and his moll Sunehri(Aishwarya) far more intently  than  the   cop-hero Jai(Abhishek) and his sidekick Ali(Uday Chopra) as they go about their law-enforcing antics  in  the spirit  of  a chic comic strip.And if you add  Bipasha’s double  role  to the heady brew , you’ve got  a film that’s the equivalent  of  a  glossy calendar. The film moves  from  Mumbai to Brazil in undulating movements of yes-yesssssss and no  , there are  no  ‘nos’  in the know-it-all flick that fuses  furious action and  svelte skin-show  in a mix that leaves you dizzy and slightly breathless. Movies were  never  meant  to be so heady, unsteady and ready  to  rock at the drop of  a hat….not that anyone is   in  a  hat, except  Aishwarya(God bless her stunning soul!)  in one song where her Barbie-doll  movements  drive  us  krazy with a  ‘k’. Just to be kool! Crazily paced  and with superbly crafted moments  of  aerial and grounded stunts,  all centering  on the one and only Mr  Roshan, Dhoom 2 serves up a bigger brighter sexier and sassier gourmet’s dish than  the  earlier  film in the series.Director Sanjay Gadhvi doesn’t try to please the audience . The optical orgasm   happens on its own volition,   creating for us a  sense of renewed and engaging deja  vu. All the chutzpah and chirpy  glamour from the first  film  is back. Plus loads of oomph. has  there ever been a caper as  good-looking as Dhoom 2?  Has Aishwarya  ever looked and acted  more authentically    in  any  of her masala films? Has Hrithik ever given more substantial  proof  of  his magnetic star  power? Has Abhishek had a bigger chance  to serve as a  foil  in a film where’s his male  co-star gets the author-backed role?

2.     Guru (2007): Guru has a lived-in warm feeling to it. From the Gujarati village to Istanbul to the murky machinations  of  the business world in  Mumbai….Mani Rathnam’s wannabe tycoon travels  the gamut of land and emotions with an astonishing  spectrum of characters and situations to support  the  ambitions of both the protagonist and his creator.“ Mani Rathnam has made it a habit to  create  new lyrical modes of expressing cinematic exuberance without   going over-board.  In Guru he again  refrains from  toppling over in  excitement as he  recreates the life and  times of an industrialist  who  would go to any lengths to achieve his means.In weaving in and  out of  what looks like a quasi-biopic,  Mani also finds space to create a superb  love  story between Guru and his eminently  supportive wife Sujata(Aishwarya Rai) who shares  not  only her husband’s dreams  but  also some of his avarice for materialism. While Abhishek  goes with age-defying fluency  from  wild child to paralyzed orator, Aishwarya stands next to him with passionate grace. Together  the couple creates an arching yin and yang. Watch Aishwarya’s subtle play of  defiant longing  in  the  sequence where she jumps into the train taking away her  away newly-married husband. In the  sequences where she communicates her paralyzed husband’s ideas to sundry  aggressive forces , her face registers  every bit of  the wife’s determined devotion .Abhishek  moves with agile  fury  through every phase of his character’s transition from dreamer to schemer. But you wish  there was more of Mithun .Madhavan’s  earnest  performance  is marred by an excessively idealistic characterization.  Crusading journalism  is all very fine.  But marrying a girl with multiple-scleroris (Vidya Balan, wasted)  seems  more a sign of  emblematic  idealism  than  the real thing.

3.     Salaam-e-Ishq(2007):    Love  is a  many splendoured sting…. It takes a   creator  of  Advani’s  insouciant romanticism to  get a hang of the episodic Hollywood romance Love Actually and turn it into a full-on celebration  of the Great Bollywood Drama.Salaam-e-Ishq is both a  hefty homage and a tongue-in-cheek  spoof on Everything You Always Wanted To  Know  About Bollywood But Were Too Ashamed To Seek. It’s all here…the  frightful conflicts of  the heart(Muslim girl Vidya Balan loses memory and is nurtured back to health by Hindu boy John), the delicious sensuous twists and turns of a mid-life crisis(Anil Kapoor,  a portrait  of  restraint, learns ballroom dancing from the trying-hard-to-be-sexy Anjana  Sukhani in what’s a straight ripoff  of  Richard Gere and  Jennifer Lopez  in Shall We Dance)  , the  wonderful  cultural divide that fuels  immense chemical compatibility  between two  mismatched souls(played with  enormous warmth  by  Govinda and  Sharon in an episode that tilts its toupee to Aamir Khan and Karisma  Kapoor  in Raja Hindustani) .  a  Rajasthani   couple in a  joint family trying hard  to make out  (Sohail Khan and Isha Koppiker doing  a version  of  Basu Chatterjee’s chawl-romance Piya Ka  Ghar)…a commitment-phobic  yuppy  and his exasperated fiancée(now  why do Akshaye Khanna and Ayesha Takia remind you of  their roles in the Subhash Ghai comedy Shaadi Se Pehle?)….Yup, Nikhil Advani’s breathless romp just  gets  you so revved-up with its roomy rhythms of unfettered romance  you want  to bathe  in  the  aroma  of the  luscious lingering feelings as they  permeate  softly but strongly from characters who are largely  under-written  for optimum impact.Yes,  the Priyanka-Salman  track (with a  special voice-appearance  by Karan Johar) is broadly spoofy…but nevertheless spiffy. As the  item girl and wannabe ‘tragedy queen’   Priyanka pulls  out all stops.   Now you see her as  the consummate item  bomb, now you see her as  this made-over  Dehra Dun girl who wants   love instead  of  Karan Johar.Why should those two  be mutually exclusive options? Why can’t a girl have love  and career?  Vidya Balan’s character has both …in ample measures.  Until tragedy strikes their paradise. If the Salman-Priyanka track is  broad  burlesque, John-Vidya  is delicate and  sensitive…John expresses a childlike ecstasy  in his love for his love. After Vidya’s accident, the director cuts into happy moments from their past like sumptuous bits of filling in  a soft and carefully prepared  sandwich. The editor (Aarti Bajaj) uses the scissors  gently but persuasively.  Bits of songs, emotions, dialogues and  locales float  in and ut of the episodic narration to create unity in the dynamics of the diversity.Of course  the film isn’t as defiantly  episodic   as Crash or Babel. Often you feel Advani frantically searching for a common ground among the various couples who inhabit his delectably  vast  kingdom of  commitment  in love and marriage. There are moments   of  subdued drama  and high cinema  all through this lengthy  parable  on love which re-defines  the time space and pace  of  the Romantic Comedy with  considerable humour and grace. Sure,  you may not come to love and trust every couple  equally. But that’s the beauty of  the fragmented narrative. It creates an equality  of opportunities for characterization within unequal parameters  of  structure .

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