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 .