Friday, March 21, 2008

Movie Review: Race

Cast: 3 supposed hunks, 3 babes (the names don't really matter; they're all fungible)
Director: Abbas-Mustan
Rating: Approximately 1 out of any positive integer multiple of 10
If you’re the type that is familiar with the kind of movies Abbas-Mustan make, I’ll bet a million that your first words after Race will be ‘phir wahi?’ If you’re not familiar with their movies, you might just say ‘what crap’. Race belongs to that league of slick Hindi cinemas whose heroes are always the cameras and the leading ladies' dress designer. It is well shot, has some racy action sequences and the works, but at the centre has a plot which is twisted beyond

a) recognition
b) interest

The Abbas-Mustan duo is famous for this. I’m sure they run a twist-the-plot contest on the sets. They give the participants a set of characters, ask them to make as many male-female combinations as they can (once homosexuality is legalized in India, they’ll have more diverse combinations), and break, make, re-break, and re-make the combinations till:

a) They’re bored
b) The actors demand a hike in fees

Let me try to tell you the story. Ranvir Singh (Saif) is a horseracing enthusiast in South Africa. He bets on horses and wins money in multiples of a million dollars. He’s the typical confident, suave, rich, main-kabhi-nahi-haarta, main-jo-chahta-hoon-who-haasil-karke-hi-rehta-hoon hero who sports a stubble and looks mean. His biggest competitor on the field is Kabir Ahuja (Dalip Tahil). Both these guys bet on their own horses and win; they sometimes bet on each others horses and crack dialogues like “Tum aaj jeet kar bhi haar gaye”. In the middle of all this there are 2-3 songs, 2 pairs of sexy legs, and a bomb blast that kills Ranvir’s jockey. Ranvir’s younger brother Rajiv (Akshaye Khanna) is an alcoholic and Ranvir pledges to transport his girlfriend Sonia (Bipasha Basu) from his bedroom to Rajiv’s. In return for this carnal gift Rajiv would have to promise to not touch sharaab. It turns out that Sonia and Rajiv fall in love, but Sonia is only interested in the money honey. Rajiv and Ranvir’s father left them an insurance policy worth $ 50 million each. So Rajiv and Sonia decide to play bad boy-bad girl and kill Ranvir to lap up his 50 million. In the next few minutes, plans are made, Sonia is shown conspiring both against Ranvir and Rajiv, each brother asks Sonia to push the other off the roof, and Sonia finally pushes Ranvir. All this is edge of the seat entertainment- it keeps you on the edge and ready to leave.

In the second half an Indian cop Robert D’Costa (Anil Kapoor) enters the scene to investigate Ranvir’s death. Robert D’Costa (RD) loves eating a different fruit at every interrogation. RD has a moustache that looks like somebody had melted it, allowed it to drip down the sides of the face to the chin, and then re-solidified it. RD has an assistant, Mini (Sameera Reddy), whose manner oscillates between slutty and stupid at dizzying frequencies. RD is a crazy cop whom his crazier assistant considers a genius.

Oh! All this while I forgot to mention another puppet- Sophia (Katrina Kaif)- Ranvir’s secretary. It turns out that Ranvir married Sophia during a business visit and so all of Ranvir’s insurance money would be hers. They also managed to do a song-and-dance sequence after getting out of the marriage registrar’s office. Cho chad for Rajiv no? But another winner of the twist-the-plot contest suggests that it’s time to bring Rajiv and Sophia together. So now it turns out that Sophia actually married Rajiv, and so the money comes to Rajiv after all. But RD (who’s actually complicit with Ranvir), finds Rajiv guilty of murdering Ranvir and takes a hefty bribe to give him a clean chit.

Let me cut to the climax- Ranvir is alive (did some MI-2 rope stunt thanks to his buddy RD and only acted dead), Sonia is shown to be loyal to Ranvir finally, and Rajiv is too tired juggling babes around so he pants away with Sophia. The directors realize the movie is called Race, so they decide that the brother that wins a final car race will walk away with 200 million dollars. Ranvir wins. Rajiv dies. Ranvir gives RD his share. They drive away in opposite directions and thankfully vanish from the screen.

You could argue in the movie’s favour by saying you could never guess what’d happen next. Seasoned Abbas-Mustan viewers will tell you that the directors wouldn’t themselves know. The characters of Anil Kapoor and Sameera Reddy were both unbelievable and unbearable. Saif just had to looked pissed all the time. Akshaye Khanna seems to be stuck to Abbas-Mustan for life. Bipasha does well. If you’re in the habit of saying touchwood often, you might want to have Katrina around you. If Anil Kapoor and Sameera weren’t irritating enough, Abbas-Mustan gave Johney Lever a chance to make a fool of himself again. If you observe, Johney has changed his spelling, getting it closer to phoney. The action sequences are shot well, but that’s no longer a novelty in Hindi cinema. The only competition among the ladies was the length (height?) of their skirts.

The songs were all ill-timed. Three of them were inside the first half-hour. Like all cool-dude and yo Hindi songs today, many of these songs had a smattering of the Queen’s language. Songs like Zara zara kiss me touch me and baahaon mein aake ashiq banaakecome shake it…shake it…some more were so wannabe that I was almost amused.

Many people will like the movie. It’s a typical masala flick with songs, sex, sirens (not the police ones), cars, a lot of dhokha and shadyantra which is supposed to titillate jawaan guys like me. But it was just a case of been there-endured that, and beyond a point you don’t give a damn about who loves whom for what and for how long. Thank god Abbas-Mustan make films together; can’t imagine what it would be like to have both direct their own films.