"I am still a teenager", says Amitabh Bachchan right at the beginning of "Aladin", setting the mood for the film to follow. Young at heart and fresh in treatment, "Aladin" wouldn't have been possible without him.
Playing Genius - The Genie could have gone either way since he is expected to be whacky, quirky, a little eccentric, a bit mad and hugely lovable.
The narrative is clearly divided into two sections. If the first half is more children friendly, the second half has a lot going for teenagers and above.
There is some fun in store for children with a donkey's head replacing Riteish's, his guitar turning into a frog and him being thrown in the air after being turned into a balloon. The funny antics that follow may not have grown ups rolling with laughter, but should surely keep the smiles on.
Amitabh's 'Yo dude' act keeps the fun going. He adopts a completely different body language as the flamboyant genie, who is happy moving on with the times, and could give the younger generation a run for its money.
Meanwhile, Sanjay Dutt's Ringmaster character makes on and off appearances, though one would have expected to see more of him.
The entire past about Aladin and the Genius gets a little confusing.
The real fun begins in the second half with the battle between good versus evil. Sanjay becomes more prominent on screen, the past is unearthed, action and thrills take centrestage and the best of VFX is unveiled.
The visuals belong to the never-seen-before variety, especially the ones where Big B is shown repenting about his misdeeds. The flashback sequence is extremely well done too.
Sujoy Ghosh does well in conjuring the imaginary world of 'Khwaish' that gives the film a visual appeal. This is further enhanced by the presence of newcomer Jacqueline Fernandes.
Riteish is likeable as the young man who gets superpowers towards the film's end, hence keeping an option for a sequel.
Sanjay is good but how one wishes that he had at least a couple of dramatic scenes with Amitabh.
However, the film completely belongs to Amitabh who totally steals the show. Watch him in "Genie Rap" and you'll know why.
The story of "Aladin" is legendary and Genie and Jasmine are known worldwide. This is why it requires courage for a filmmaker to set the film in contemporary times and come up with his own take on a well loved tale.
Ghosh does exactly that as he lets his imagination go wild and spins a tale that ends up relating the past, present and future of these characters. This VFX filled entertainer is just the right recipe if one is looking for a family entertainer.
Audiences will not cry when they watch Blue but if it goes wrong, I will Anthony D'Souza tells Jyothi Venkatesh.
Are you scared that Blue is being released in competition with All The Best and Main Aurr Mrs Khanna? I really wish that I could say that I am not at all worried about competition and pray that more films should be released during Diwali, because I welcome competition.
But the truth is that I am scared, because there are only good films and bad films and not big films and small films. Bollywood tends to be incestuous, because though we keep on bickering, at the end of the day we end up hugging one another.
I wish that All The Best, Main Aurr Mrs Khanna and my own film Blue had been released one after the other separately, without cutting into each other’s throats.
Can you elucidate? I have not shown my four year old son the promos of All The Best, because if I show him the promos of All The Best, he will like to see All The Best and not Blue.
How big is Blue according to you? I still honestly have not realized how big is my film Blue, because at heart, I am a kid who feels that he is getting paid for blowing up cars.
Were you not scared to shoot with real sharks? I was not at all scared to shoot with real sharks and whales because I feel that the most dangerous species on this earth is not the sharks but Man himself.
Which are the directors who you admire a lot? Imtiaz Ali, Anurag Kahsyap and Shriram Raghavan are the directors who I admire a lot. However, if you were to ask me whether I’d be able to compete with them, all that I can say is that I would not. Instead I’d like to stick to my strength.
What is your strength as a director? Visuals, style and flamboyance are my strengths as a director.
How did you bag the opportunity to direct your debut film? I am a new director and had never even assisted any filmmaker before I bagged the opportunity to direct Blue. To my credit, I have only directed 75 ads and 25 music videos.
I had also directed the 52 episodes of the popular TV show Ripley’s Believe It Or Not. It was thanks to John Abraham, who I had literally hounded almost for three years from the time he had made his debut with Jism, who put me in touch with producer Dhilin Mehta of Shri Ashtavinayak Films.
Why did you not cast John Abraham in your film? When Dhilin asked me whether I wanted to cast John in my film, I told him that I did not want John because his image as a biker is still too storing after Dhoom and hence I wanted Akshay Kumar and Sanjay Dutt in my film.
It was Sanjay who suggested that I cast Zayed as his brother in the film. Zayed is fabulous in my film as an actor. It is a pity that he has still not been exploited to his maximum potential.
In what way is Blue similar to Jaws? Blue is similar to Jaws, Abyss and Deep, only as far as sea and action are concerned, not as far as it’s concept is concerned.
Would you agree that Blue lacks the emotional quotient? Yes. Emotional quotient is lacking in Blue because it is a film which will not make you cry. It is a roller coaster ride to great entertainment. If it flops, of course it is, I who will end up crying. The only person, who should be blamed if the film goes wrong, is me.
What kind of films do you want to make as a director? I want to make films which kids of five would see, laugh and jump. I do not have the sensibility to make art films like Uski Roti, because I remember when I went to watch that film, a guy who was bored with the film started walking in the theatre from left to right almost throughout the show.
What is your ambition as a film maker? My ambition is to make a dark romantic film, because I believe that true lovers will never have a happy ending. Romance cannot be happy by itself because two human beings can never be the same.
Even a marriage can survive only when one of the two is ready to make compromises. I am married and my marriage is a success because my wife was ready to make compromises.
Do you plan to make a sequel to Blue? Blue does have an open ending, but it is not intentional. Whether to make a sequel or not is a call which will be taken by Shri Ashtavinayak Productions who have spared no pains to make the film the costliest in the history of Indian Cinema.
Have you planned your next film? My next venture will also be an action packed film, though it will be in an entirely different league. Besides having Sanjay Dutt, Akshay Kumar, Zayed Khan, Lara Dutta and Katrina Kaif, my next film will also have three more big stars.
Will it also be a multi star film like say Salaam E Ishq? Spare me. I am not a sensible director like Nikhil Advani to set out to make a film like Salaam-E-Ishq.
Shall I say all the best to you while signing off now? Please tell me All The Blue and All The Best, because I have directed Blue and not All The Best. (Chuckles)
Cast: Sanjay Dutt, Akshay Kumar, Zayed Khan, Lara Dutta, Katrina Kaif Kylie Minogue Director : Anthony D'Souza Rating: ****
When the makers of a film proudly proclaim their product to be at par with their Hollywood counterparts, one is bound to be sceptical. More so because "Blue" is an action film, that too set underwater, which is not just a first in Bollywood but also a rarity in Hollywood.
So does "Blue" set new standards for Bollywood action movies? Does it actually get into the underbelly of the sea and show a world hitherto unexplored? The answer is yes.
Let's put it this way - "Blue" may not be the mind-blowing commercial action thriller that you would have ever seen. However, it certainly is the most innovative attempt that deserves to be acknowledged and lauded.
Action is truly the USP of the film and keeps the momentum going for "Blue" due to which one doesn't quite miss the presence of a solid storyline.
From first till the last frame, it's the amalgamation of action and an unknown world (under the sea) which brings in a novelty factor.
For those hunting for a storyline, "Blue" actually begins and ends at the basic synopsis level. Mr. Richie Rich Akshay Kumar wants a treasure to be explored and entices his employee and friend Sanjay Dutt with tempting offers.
Dutt is reluctant to take that dive into the sea even though his girlfriend Lara Dutta and brother Zayed Khan do present him enough reasons to take the plunge. Eventually he relents and the journey of "Blue" begins. Simple.
There are five key action sequences that keep the pace up for the film. Each of the three bike sequences featuring Zayed become better and better and in fact his introduction a la 'Fast and the Furious' is something unique for an Indian film.
The boxing ring sequence featuring Sanjay and Akshay does hint of "Broken Arrow", though it works in establishing their characters. Most importantly, the entire underwater hunt sequence is a breathtaking affair.
Anthony D'Souza has a strong eye for visuals and that shows. Technically, whether it is camerawork or sound, "Blue" bears an international feel. Whether it's Sanjay or Akshay, the revelation about their past isn't quite hammer strong, even though convincing.
Moreover, even though the film is a multi starrer, one does expect Akshay to be on the forefront. However, for a change, a film featuring him does allow equal screen space for other actors as well.
As for Lara and Katrina Kaif, their presence is required to make the film look good and in that aspect, they do well.
In a nutshell, "Blue" is made for those who want pulsating action, innovative stunts, glamour and some unbelievable moments that defy logic.
It mainly caters to the youth that just want some non stop action in those two hours while keeping James Bond movies in mind.
The kind of films where bikes are meant to race through traffic, cars are meant to explode, women are meant to bring on a glamour quotient, villains are meant to be suave, action is meant to belong to never-seen-before variety and technical aspects are meant to be superior to the best.
Sanjay Dutt didn't require much convincing or cajoling to come on board for Aladin.
The moment he heard the film's concept, genre and they way it was envisioned to be brought on screen, he agreed to do the film pronto. He was impatient about the film going on floors. His character is like that of evil magician Jafar in the Disney version of Aladin.
Says a source associated to the film, "Sanju baba actually became quite childlike when he was narrated the concept of Aladin. He hasn't worked in a film belonging to this genre before, the kind that involves fairytale elements embellished in a narrative that is set in today's times. The legend of Aladin and Genie is known worldwide and Sanju baba didn't require much thinking to be a part of the project. As a fun loving villain, who was capable of showing the mean side of his at any given moment, the character was tailor-made for him and he connected to that instantly when the part was explained to him."
Incidentally, it was Amitabh Bachchan himself who first had a word with Sanjay Dutt about his role of Ringmaster in Aladin.
Confirms Sujoy Ghosh, "Yes, after I had an elaborate narration of Aladin with Mr. Bachchan, we were discussing who could play the role of Ringmaster. We agreed that it had to be Dutt saab and I was supposed to contact him the next day. However, to my surprise, before I could speak to Dutt saab, Mr. Bachchan had already spoken to him. When I met him, he mockingly pulled me for not speaking to him directly. I explained that I had all the right intentions to do so but didn't have any clue that Mr. Bachchan would himself take the first step."
Kicked about the entire idea, "I still remember it was year 2006," Sujoy gets nostalgic here, "Dutt saab was so excited about donning the hat of Ringmaster. Pun intended."
Sanjay Dutt had a condition though before saying yes. "Yes, he didn't want anyone to fiddle around with his look," laughs Sujoy, "His only condition was that he wanted the moustache of Ringmaster to be kept intact. Of course, we had no reason not to agree."
Bollywood mega-starrer will have its world premiere at the third Middle East International Film Festival in Abu Dhabi
Expect the best of world cinema at the third Middle East International Film Festival to be held from October 8 to 17 in Abu Dhabi. And Bollywood will be represented by none other than Blue, the Akshay Kumar-Sanjay Dutt-Lara Dutta-Katrina Kaif movie that features Australian pop princess Kylie Minogue in a special song appearance. The promos of the movie are already burning up our TV screens, so we can’t wait to see the film.
All of MEIFF ‘s gala screenings will be held in the Auditorium of the Emirates Palace Hotel , with some of them receiving second screenings at Cinestar Cinemas at Marina Mall.