Director Priyardashan’s Bhagam Bhag (PG) 157min (2 stars) has all the boisterous energy of his previous work (Hera Pheri, Hulchul). It’s based on the innocuous premise of an Indian theatre group embarking on a London tour minus Anjali (Tanushree Dutta), their female lead, who has left the group due to the sleazy and somewhat threatening advances of her male co-stars, Babla (Govinda) and Bunty (Akshay Kumar). In London the search begins, and the troupe becomes involved with an Hindi speaking local police chief (Jackie Shroff), local drug barons and the sultry but suicidal amnesiac Minni (Lara Dutta). Bhagam Bhag is staid, unadventurous and painfully sexist. The lazy script, boring structure and farcical chaos are just tedious. The incessant chase sequences through London’s tourist hotspots (and, inexplicably, Oxford) may have seemed amusing on paper, but grate on screen. This will no doubt be a hit with middle-aged ‘unclejis’ everywhere.
I See You (PG) 122min (3 stars) is the debut of director Vivek Agrawal. Raj (Arjun Rampal) is the flirtatious playboy presenter of British Raj, a British-based Indian TV show, who embraces life, London and lots of girls. The story centres on his relationship with Shivani (Vipasha Agrawal), a lost soul/spirit, who is invisible to everyone but him. This blatant remake of Hollywood romancer Just Like Heaven mixes typical sweeping shots of the capital’s top tourist attractions with fresher sequences in which locals/extras bop with and lip-synch alongside the extremely likeable Rampal, while Gordon MacDonald’s cockney police inspector amusingly spouts infamous Bollywood dialogue. Some wooden acting and dodgy dubbing aside, the film’s light hearted, self-effacing tone works. This is a smart and promising debut for a media savvy diaspora audience.
Salaam-E-Ishq: A Tribute to Love (PG) 150min (4 stars) relies heavily on an A-list ensemble cast including Salman Khan, John Abraham, Juhi Chawla and Anil Kapoor. Director Nikhil Advani’s follow-up to the model modern Bollywood blockbuster Kal Ho Naa Ho promises to go one step beyond. Expect all your Bollywood preconceptions to be tested as various love stories weave and interconnect. Collective and personal narratives, numerous plotlines, all intertwine with a ‘big romance’ theme.
In Zamaanat (PG) 127min (3 stars) Kajol (Karisma Kapoor) desperately pleads for assistance from blind lawyer Shiv Shanker (Amitabh Bachchan) in a bid to save innocent Suraj (Arshad Warsi) from the death penalty. The film positively bursts with the melodrama and grandiose dialogue (this is a Bollywood courtroom spectacle, after all). Currently riding a crescendo of success, the much-revered ‘Big B’ (Bachchan’s nickname) can do no wrong. A guaranteed hit.
All films on selected release from Fri 19 Jan. See listings for details.