Dil Dosti etc
CAST: Shreyas Talpade, Imaad Shah, Ishitta Sharma, Smriti Mishra, Nikita Anand
DIRECTOR: Manish Tiwary
And what do we have here? Another slice-of-life, coming-of-age film set in Delhi University — the DU of U specials, seedy hostel rooms, Bihari boys roaming around the corridors of their college, looking for votes and 'respect' rather than degrees, and smart English-speaking lads looking for love. And if you believe Tiwary, sex.
Oodles of it. All Apoorva (Imaad) wants is to get as much as he can, as fast as he can, whether it's from a overused G B road resident (Smriti Mishra), or from a school-girl (Ishitta) who thinks people who read Sartre are 'pseudo-intellectual'. As opposed to Sanjay (Shreyas), who thinks marriage is the first step towards the bedroom, and whose views are violently opposed by his rich girl-friend who wants to be a model (Nikita).
Modern, westernised youth vs traditional, feudal mindsets: even if it's been done before, there's space for films which are about the young, and talk to the young. But Dil Dosti etc doesn't quite get where it wants to.
Jha has some of the characters down pat, particularly the Bihari sidekick of Sanjay; even, to an extent, Sanjay himself. That's because Shreyas is an earnest trier. But the director gets lost with Apoorva: maybe there are some young men who walk into college and hostel desperate to notch up numbers on their belts, but Shah is trying to be so cool and so laidback, that he doesn't really register.
Neither does the film.
Cast: Morgan Freeman, John Cusack, Jamie Anderson
DIRECTOR: Bruce Beresford
There are some movies burdened by expectations. And then there are some which take you by surprise. The Contract, a film made in 2006 which quickly moved to the DVD market, falls in the second category — a pleasantly slow film about a hired assassin and his chance encounter with a father-son duo.
Unlike last week's The Bourne Ultimatum, The Contract's professional hitman Frank Cardin (Freeman) doesn't survive almost anything, including falls from buildings and horrific car crashes. The film is about the quieter moments when two completely different and yet somewhat alike men — Cardin, a disillusioned ex-military intelligence officer fighting now for money and not glory, and Ray Keene (Cusack), a former policeman trying to ensure his son doesn't go astray — meet.
For most of the film, Cardin, Keene and his son Chris (Anderson) trudge through the scenic Cedar Pine forest with Cardin's killer friends on their heels and police trying to catch up. Beresford is vague on what Keene and Chris hope to achieve by thus marching on but it does give them enough time on screen for us to understand and like the three.
All credit for that to Freeman. In one of his few bad roles, he still commands as much respect and attention as he did when he sprang up before Jim Carrey in Bruce Almighty and declared: "I'm God."
The point where Cardin's path crosses with the Keenes in the forest is also nicely built up, down to the crashed car in which Cardin was being transported by the police bobbing on the river. The real treat, however, is the expression on Cardin's face when Keene shoots away a helicopter seconds before he is to ride it to freedom.
However, if Beresford gets the little details right, he doesn't know what to do with the overall plot. An obnoxious FBI officer is woven in, with “conspiracy” written all over her pinched forehead, just to play on the tiresome “Big Bad Washington vs the Unassuming Local Police” angle.
There is a de rigeur aside on no one knowing who they are fighting for any more, and that it was best in these times not to have any agenda.
But the biggest surprise is that at the centre of a film whose biggest strength perhaps is that it is not out to prove anything is a little outlandish idea: a conspiracy to crush opposition to stem cell research.