Ramgopal Varma thinks differently. This time too the maverick film-maker defies the stereotype and takes to the dense forests of Sri Lanka to meet an 'unknown' force.
But let's clear the misconception at the very start. AGYAAT is no supernatural thriller [like PHOONK] or a horror fest [like BHOOT]. This one's more of an adventure thriller that doesn't scare you at all, but makes you a participant in a pulse-pounding journey.
For any movie to succeed, it ought to keep the viewer engrossed first and foremost. AGYAAT succeeds in doing that, especially towards the second hour. You haven't witnessed a journey like the one in AGYAAT on the Hindi screen before. In the West, the most memorable film I can think of is THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT.
AGYAAT works for several factors. The dense jungle blows your mind away, the sound design and the background score are easily at par with international films, the camera movement is spectacular and of course, RGV's execution of the material is just right for a film of this genre.
But, at the same time, the culmination to the film is debatable. Of course, one would be doing gross injustice to the film by revealing the end, but it's bound to have its share of advocates and adversaries. It might bring a smile on your face or a smirk, but the fact remains that the reactions would be in extremes.
Final word? Take a trip!
A film unit goes for a shoot deep into a forest. They settle at a place with bare minimal facilities run by a strange and quirky man called Setu [Joy Fernandes]. The hero of the film, Sharman [Gautam Rode], is a completely self-obsessed man with no other concern except for his muscles and the leading lady, Aasha [Priyanka Kothari].
The team consists of the director [Howard Rosemeyer], producer [Ishrat Ali], the superstar's spot boy [Ishteyak], cinematographer [Kali Prasad Mukherjee], action director [Ravi Kale], second assistant [Rasika Duggal] and an assistant director [Nitin Reddy].
It all begins when the camera conks off... They have two days waiting for the replacement to arrive and with no form of entertainment or communication, when Setu suggests a camping trip into the forest, they jump at the opportunity. As they settle near a pond for the night, Setu hears a strange sound. He goes to investigate and never returns. After a desperate search, they discover his dead body.
Panic sets in among the unit members and they jump into the vehicle, but they being unfamiliar with the terrain results in an accident. Completely lost and trapped in the jungle as Setu, the only guy who knows the way out, is dead, they don't know which way to move to get out of the forest.
The first 25 minutes of AGYAAT are very unlike an RGV film. In a majority of his films, RGV comes to the point at the very start, but AGYAAT begins with a dream song [so unlike RGV] and the next 20 minutes are devoted to introducing the characters.
The film actually takes off when the unit decides to penetrate into the jungles and Setu is murdered. From that point onwards, the by-now-famous RGV stamp is visible in several sequences. The two deaths before the interval [Joy Fernandes and Ishrat Ali] are brilliantly executed, especially Ishrat's murder at the interval point.
AGYAAT becomes an adventure ride in the post-interval portions. Though it rests on a thin story, it's the adventure element that drives the film to its destination. There are deaths galore, but it's not blood or gore that puts you off. The murders are depicted very, very differently, leaving a lot to your imagination.
RGV experiments again, this time attempting an all-new genre. It must've been extremely difficult to shoot in the forests, that's the first thought that crosses your mind. As mentioned at the very outset, the sound design [Dwarak Warrier], background score [Amar Mohile] and cinematography [Surjodeep Ghosh] are top notch. Thee three names contribute enormously to RGV's vision.
Now to the actors! Nitin Reddy [a star in Telugu films] makes a first-rate debut in Hindi films. He dances exceptionally well [the film begins with a dance] and his confident performance make him an actor to watch out for. Priyanka Kothari shows vast improvement over her previous works. She's good this time. Gautam Rode enacts the hot-headed superstar with conviction.
Every actor in the film makes an impression, but Ishteyak, Kali Prasad Mukherjee and Rasika Duggal stand out.
On the whole, AGYAAT has an absorbing second half, but the culmination to the film would meet with diverse reactions. At the box-office, the distributors have recovered a substantial chunk of their investment from its dubbed Telugu rights and the remainder should be recovered given its aggressive promotional campaign and extensive release [700 + screens in Hindi belt]. The low-cost film, therefore, should prove to be a profitable venture on the strength of its economics!
Akshay and Katrina are such good friends that Katrina agreed to be his arm candy in De Dana Dan. However, she doesn’t share the same equation with her Partner co-star Govinda.
Govinda has had two flop films, Chal Chala Chal and Money Hain Toh Honey Hain. His last hit was Partner in 2007.
Obviously, he has high expectations from Life Partner which is produced by Abbas Mustan and directed by Rumi Jaffrey. He is the only senior member in the cast that comprises Fardeen Khan, Tusshar Kapoor, Genelia D’Souza and Prachi Desai. All these actors don’t have star power as such. So for a promotional song, Govinda tried to his influence and contacts to rope in Lara Dutta and Katrina Kaif but they both refused. The two actresses appeared on Koffee with Karan together and were last seen with Chi Chi in Partner. Also, Govinda is a good friend of Salman. He thought Katrina would agree because of the Salman connection but she refused citing date issues. Over the past month, she was busy with New York promotions, post production for Ajab Prem Ki Ghajab Kahani, a few endorsement events and then she left for Europe to celebrate her birthday. Katrina has never done item songs, anyway. She wants to be seen as a serious actress so why would she do item songs?
Lara Dutta who has also done the upcoming Do Knot Disturb and Banda yeh Bindaas Hai with Chi Chi refused citing date problems. She is currently in London shooting for Sajid Khan’s Housefull. The last item song Lara did was Aisa Jadoo Daala Re in Rajkumar Santoshi’s Khakee in 2004. It was a big hit. She was also part of Phir Milenge Chalte Chalte from Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi as no smart person would refuse SRK and YRF. The song is quite popular.
Since these ladies refused the song, they had to rope in wannabe hottie Amrita Rao of Shortkut (fame?) to do the item number. The music of Life Partner is not a rage at all.
What can we say, Govinda’s career is on the downslide and no one wants to work with a fallen star. And everyone isn’t as lucky and powerful as Shah Rukh Khan to get three stars for three different item songs as he did with Kareena, Priyanka and Deepika in Billu. Our advice to Chi Chi would be to do more films with David Dhawan and Salman Khan and lose some weight to get his career back on track.
Even months after its release, Dharma Productions’ path-breaking commercial film, Dostana, directed by debutant Tarun Mansukhani continues to make news. It has been selected as the opening film for the iView Film Festival in New York.
Dostana will be screened at the Lincoln Centre for the Performing Arts on the 28th and 29th of this month. It is the first Hindi film to be screened at the iView Film Festival.
Director Tarun Mansukhani, who is currently scripting Dostana 2, is absolutely thrilled. On his Facebook and Twitter pages, he said, '(Tarun) is happy to say that DOSTANA is going to be screened at the Lincoln Center, New York as the opening film for the iView Film Festival on 28th & 29th August.'
When Tarun spoke to StarBoxOffice, he said, "The iView Film Festival is about human rights, relationship and oppression of any kind around the world. It is amazing that a film like Dostana has been chosen to be screened there because for the first time an Indian movie has been chosen to be screened at the fest and at the Lincoln Theatre which is a dream venue for any filmmaker."
"I got the call about the selection a week ago and we were working out the logistics and now everything has been confirmed. They saw the movie a few months ago and talks were going on. At that time, homosexual was illegal and a criminal offense in India. We are happy that a film like Dostana has been chosen because usually they play serious films and documentaries at the festival."
John, Boman and Kirron will attend the fest with Tarun. "We are going to be in New York from the 27th to the 30th. Abhishek Bachchan and Priyanka Chopra are shooting so they will not be able to come."
Tarun has also asked all his friends and people who liked the movie in New York to join the Dostana cast and crew there.
Dostana has already won the Screen Award for Best Jodi for John and Abhishek, the IIFA award for best performance in a comic role for Abhishek Bachchan and the IIFA for best choreography for Desi Girl for Farah Khan.
The video of the remix version of Dil Bole Hadippa, which is reminiscent of Break Free and Dhoom Again, features a super slim Rani Mukherjee in bikini tops and mini skirts.
The video has been choreographed by Ahmed Khan, who also did the Mere Sang and Yaaron remix videos. Rani’s costumes have been designed by Manish Malhotra, who also worked on her look in the Phir Milenge Chalte Chalte video.
A source tells us, “Shahid is a brilliant and energetic dancer and Rani, who is also a graceful dancer has matched him step for step. It has been a while since we saw her dancing like this. The promotional video is likely to be used at the end of the film.”
Our source continues, “So far we have seen Rani in Sardarni and cricketer avatars in the movie. This is her other look. The film already has wannashine starlets Rakhi Sawant and Sherlyn Chopra doing item numbers with a lot of skin show but obviously, they don’t have Rani’s class, finesse and star power. Rani doesn’t look vulgar or cheap at all. Almost all YRF movies have their heroines in bikinis; take the Dhoom flicks, Tashan and Thoda Pyaar Thoda Magic for example. The actresses have lost weight for their roles and Rani is no exception. She has lost a lot of weight and it shows. The last time she wore a costume was in Chalte Chalte.”
Payal Gidwani, who made Kareena achieve her size zero figure has helped Rani with her Yoga routine too. She told us, “Rani weighed 56 kilos but now she weighs only 49. Her hard work has paid off and the results are for everyone to see. Her problem was her lower area but now the structure of her body has changed. Her metabolism and stamina have also increased. There is a glow on her face and she looks great. She doesn’t miss a single Yoga session even if she is traveling and practices for 2 hours every morning.”
Many feel that Salman Khan has become more patient over the years.
So, has he changed? “See everyone has lots of shades to their character. You aren’t in the best of moods all the time. When we are on the sets there are times when we get hugely pakaoed. When you are already stressed and if some one troubles you, then you can be a bit rude to them.
But we realise it the next moment and are extra sweet to them. As for the media, why I deal with them in such a manner... that’s because I don’t want to be a star,” he shrugs. Well we guess it’s difficult for anyone to look at a superstar as just another normal guy. But looks like Salman has definitely taken the chill pill.
And they are grand, naturally. What might seem great for lesser mortals is not good enough for Bollywood’s reining diva.
She wrinkles her shapely nose and says, “By the year-end, I hope I can buy my own house in Switzerland.’’ The actress is distressed that Mumbai offers little privacy to beau Saif Ali Khan and her. “We find it hard to go out clubbing or even for dinner because there is hardly any place that is truly private,’’ she regrets.
She says on most evenings, when they aren’t shooting, the couple stays indoors and watches television or soaks into a movie of their choice. “It’s getting kind of claustrophobic,’’ Kareena explains. She’s determined to work harder than ever now and make sure the extra bucks that she makes will go towards her dream home in the Alps. As to how she will manage flying across continents to juggle work and pleasure, Kareena says, “I have been giving it serious thought. If Johnny Depp can stay in Paris and work in Los Angeles, then surely I can stay in Switzerland for three months a year and work in Mumbai or wherever it is that I am required to be.’’
As of today, Kareena is wrapping up Karan Johar’s Qurban with Saif at a suburban Mumbai studio, and then flying to America for a short vacation. In keeping with her position of the No 1 Bollywood heroine, she has her diary chalked out for the next six months. September has been reserved for working on those ‘abs’ and some heavy-duty physical training so she can flaunt it all in Agent Vinod.
“Lots of exciting work is happening,’’ she beams. “In October Karan’s Stepmom with Kajol will begin providing me the emotional sustenance I’m looking for in a role, then Agent Vinod starts. Here I have the opportunity to do some kickass stunts, like Angelina Jolie in Mr & Mrs Smith.”
December will mark the release of Raju Hirani’s Three Idiots with Aamir Khan, the most hyped film of the year. Shuddering, Kareena says, “Somewhere I’m a little girl who is still afraid of the expectations from each of my films. But I’m also very excited.’’ Films apart, the grapevine gup is that she’s launching her own label in January.
“I have only just begun talks with an international team on introducing my personal clothes line like Victoria Beckham. My look in Kambakkht Ishq has gone down well with the fashionistas and hence this talk of launching my own label. There is little else I can say about this now because it’s in the formative stage.’’