Damsels in control
We hop into the swanky cars of city’s women car connoisseurs to get you a whiff of their passion
Purva Grover

Shelly Taneja & her Hyundai Accent
HAPPY TWOSOME: Shelly Taneja & her Hyundai Accent

You can fly. Feel the wind in your hair. And get whisked away in exhilarating luxury. Each time they strap the seat belt on and gear up for a ride they act as if it’s their first. Such is the stealth charm of a swish machine, they smile. Meet the city’s women behind the wheels who have been bowled over by the charms of swanky cars. And well though the sentiment behind their car buys may vary, what binds them is the sense of freedom and independence that their luxurious wheels give them.

An interior and furniture designer by profession, Aradhana Kakar’s love for finer things in life is evident in her latest and most prized possession, a burgundy- BMW. “It’s a blessing,” says Aradhana, who first drove a car when she was just 13. “It was a Mahindra jeep. I was studying in a boarding school in Mussoorie and my mom had come to visit me when I pestered her to let me drive,” she reminisces. And well, as they say, the rest is history.

Racing bets with her bro on a bike, practicing a 180 degree on a Maruti 800, laying hands on dad’s Ambassador or Fiat or bro’s Gypsy and more followed, till she saved enough money to buy herself a machine. In 2001, she bought a white Lancer for herself. “It’s never about size, it’s the mechanism that should appeal me. I would love to have a navigation system installed in my BMW,” she says. Ask her to describe a perfect day and she gets dreamy, “Slow soothing music, slight pitter-patter and me at the wheel.”

Now, if there was one thing that this young mom would particularly like to pass on to her eight-year-old daughter, it would be her passion for cars. Smiles Shelly Taneja, “I have already taught her how to change gears and I can’t wait till she is 18.” Well, for that’s what she did the day she turned 18, got hold of a license and mastered the wheel, courtesy a driving school. At 20, she was the proud owner of a Maruti 800. Today, 29, her passion spells in the cars she has driven and got bored of - a Zen, Lancer and Honda Civic.

“My mother was very keen that I learn to drive and become independent,” she says. Today, her luxurious ride is a metallic silver Hyundai Accent. And she aptly puts her passion in words for us, “A vehicle is an extension of your identity and wallet.”

Manpreet Kaur loves the trips she makes to her home in Ambala and to the gurdwaras in Patiala. Ask her why and she points to her gleaming metallic gold Honda City. “I can just keep driving for hours without feeling tired,” smiles the 31-year-old homemaker, settled in Mohali. With 10 years of exciting experience in driving, she says, “I keep exchanging cars with my husband, before this I drove an Octavia for two years.” And, keeping her busy now is the market survey she is doing to buy herself another swanky car.

And leading our swish car freak group is Naina Ulhaq. The speedometer in this 27-year-old’s Mercedes E270 reads between a 100 and 140 mph each time she takes to the wheel. “Hope, no cop reads this,” she chuckles. She confesses to be lucky to be first born and later married into a family of car lovers. “My dad gifted me my first car, a black Cielo, when I was in the first-year of college,” she tells. And, it was followed by an Ikon and Skoda in the second and third year, respectively. Seven months back, she tied the knot and is now happy to share the wheel each time her husband is tired.

An avid fan of Formula 3, her love for the colour black is evident in the impeccably clean and shining black Endeavour and black Skoda Laura that stand parked at her Mohali home. And, what’s more, Naina personally supervises the vacuum cleaning of her vehicles every day. Ask her what’s next on her wish list and pat comes the reply. “Lots. A two-seater sports car, an Audi and a Porsche.” Phew, we’ll surely be back for a ride in these swish machines!


Second Self
For city women, marriage no longer means goodbye to guy friends
Saurabh Malik

Tribune photo

MARRIAGE with one does not rise from the ashes of friendship with another.

As the bride ties the knot with her husband, she parts ways with her guy friends. No, not anymore! Well, it was something entirely unknown in most Indian households until a few years ago (remember the SRK-Salman-Madhuri starrer Hum Tumhare Hain Sanam?).

Oh yes, it was completely unacceptable to domineering husbands frowning and checking call records even at the mere mention of “his” name! But, is an established reality now in so many families across the city.

Having doubts? Just look at housewife Rinki Sharma and call centre executive Rahul Kapoor. The two still haven’t severed the ties even though she has been married to Randheer Sharma for almost a year now.

You may find it strange if you haven’t seen them walking down the arcade aisle with a bagful of apparel for his pleasure trip to Goa. But, the reality is that Rahul continues in his position of a “pal with whom she dares to be herself” even as she dabs the make-up of a married gal.

So much so, they watch the flicks together in multiplexes (the latest being Jab We Met) and savour happy moments over steaming coffee cups in café bars — all with Randheer’s permission. He was the best man at their wedding and attends all family functions, on invitation.

Randheer’s mom does have some reservations, but it’s fine with her as long as he does not object. So, she sits down with Rahul every now and then for discussing brand equity and share-prices after giving adequate weightage to his judgment.  

Sabina Sharma’s life is not very different. Her childhood chum Ritesh Dutt is still her second self. No matter where she is with her information technology professional husband, Sabina is never far away from him.

Her inbox is full of classy jokes and “wisecracks” forwarded by the “ever-so-hilarious” Ritesh, as she refuses to relegate him to the recycle bin of her memory. Initially, there were some “stressed moments” between them. But, the problem was sorted out with the help of Sabina’s husband.

Just in case you are finding the changed attitude a bit too confusing to comprehend, ask city-based socio-psychologist Shalini Gupta. She will tell you all about the phenomenon.

“Over the years, more than a few husbands have evolved into understanding and trusting beings with movies and television widening their horizons and increasing the levels of permissibility! They have learnt to accept the fact that girls too have guy friends and there is nothing really wrong with that.”

Saluting all such hubbies, she says: “They are not reading more than what is there in the relationship and are happy extending the hand of friendship… Look at it from the right perspective and it’s really good. It saves the bride from complete alienation as she steps into a whole new world, and a fresh role, after wedding.”

Listen to her guys, she makes sense. If nothing else, it helps everyone live happily afterwards!


Shield in Style
How many do you have? Bid farewell to the boring lid and pick up a helmet that is a reflection of your attitude
Purva Grover

Photo by Manoj Mahajan

We are not talking protection. We are not talking escape from a cop chase. We are not even talking of high-speed collisions. This is not a sermon on the importance of wearing helmet or obeying traffic rules. In fact, we are talking of making a style statement, of wooing girls and of spending big bucks. So here, we’ve got a round-up on the latest in headgear for all the biker boys who’ll surely now be convinced that sporting a helmet is after all a cool idea.

The highest selling and hot favourite with the riders is Vega. “It’s the best and the lightest helmet,” vouch the young customers at New Scooter Centre-21. These are priced between Rs 600 and Rs 1,375. Next is the range in Ninja that includes pastel plain, décor, bravo and knight devil, priced at Rs 940 onwards. An imported brand Vemar’s gear is a fave with motor rallyist and is priced at Rs 1,500 onwards.

Another best pick for racers and also for riders who enjoy the thrills and spills uphill is the GP One or Bieffe. Priced at Rs 2,400, this extra durable and sturdy helmet does not bear more than a hairline crack even after a terrible crash. Tells Amarjeet from Punjab Auto Centro-21, “We sell only one or two of these in a month. These are for professional racers.” As for Vega, over 100 are sold here each month. The prices of the helmets vary with features like an open face, a full face, quality of the fiberglass shell, velvet padding, vents, viser and more. Adds Amarjeet, “All these brands are ISI marked and hence, promise a lot more protection than the cheap roadside purchases.”

And well, while some shell out for a good brand, others do it for the artwork that it bears. So, for all those whom life is incomplete without nail biting chases, there are the replicas of your fave racers. A Formula One replica of Mclaren Mercedes team and Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen are hot picks, these bears stickers of the team’s sponsors like Boss, Mobil1 and more. For Ferrari fans, there are helmets with stickers of Marlboro and KeraKoll. Both available in Vega these are priced at Rs 1,200 onwards.

Talk of racing and the current reigning pattern with daredevils is a play of skulls. Other favourites include a bald eagle, black and white checkered pattern, spider web, stars and more. What’s more, the good ol’ flames too have undergone a change and the orange-red shades have given way to vibrant hues like electric blue, shocking pink and cheerful orange.

Now, if your pocket money doesn’t allow you to blow on a helmet, then pick up the plain black, silver or red ones in Studd (Rs 500 and 850), Sona (Rs 300-450), Habsolite (Rs 325) and adorn it with stickers that reflect your style. Tells Vinod Malhotra from Capt Nand Lal-28, “Almost 90 per cent of the boys go for black.” Glue on them a Hayabusa, a Ferrari, a Speed King or a Bull sticker, for as less as Rs 10-20.

And if the ready-made stickers don’t appeal you, then get a personalised one made from Popular Car Accessories-21. “From a Hondo logo to your name in calligraphy, you can get it done in either simple or radium (glows at night) vinyl tape,” says Sameer from the shop. It costs for around Rs 20 to Rs 30 for a two-inch sized sticker.

And for all those bands of biker boys, who think that wearing a helmet is not macho enough, let’s tell you that you’ll draw much more attention from female passersby when you’re wearing a helmet. So, what are you waiting for? Take your pick from the stylish gears and hit the road. 

Team spirit or spirited team?
If women do not get along, they make news. But are all men bumchums? We find out

A still from Chak De India

A team of rag-tag bunch of girls transformed into dedicated players and played as one. They emerged as winners. But that’s not the breaking news. The news is, that the 16 conjoint bum-chums don’t get along well in real life. Talk shows and excerpts from interviews (that centre around the fave question ‘16 girls on one set, must have been quite tough, read masala) with Chak De girls suggest a tale of bickering, gossiping and ego clashes. ‘How could they part?’ is asking the nation that hummed Chak De anthem along with them. But, wasn’t it a movie where actors act? It was shot, adjudged as a hit and is over. Do we expect the reel players to be stuck all their lives together? Now, that’s not fair.

Kareena Kapoor and Preity Zinta don’t get along well, we all know it by now, yet we don’t fail to pop up this question. For a very long time Aishwarya Rai and Sushmita Sen too were at loggerheads. One of the first talent hunt shows lead to the formation of a five-member girl band Viva in 2002. Differences started brewing much before the launch of their first album and today they are all busy with their individual ventures.

Talk international bands and the story of Spice Girls sounds familiar. Formed in 1994, they went separate ways in 2001 and got together again in June this year. For how long will this last, one wonders. But then isn’t it bound to happen? Restrained levels of competitions and jealousy is natural and perhaps healthy too, then why all this hype? And is it that jealousy, competition and distrust prevail more among the fairer sex or is it all terribly publicised?

And one wonders why is there more hullabaloo about strife between female lead stars than fights between male celebs. (With the exception of the cold war between Big B and SRK. Icons like them do warrant the hype) After all, men too are very much part of it, or perhaps cat fights make interesting stories. Now that’s for you to figure out. And, here’s a lil’ tittle-tattle from the world of men. Salman Khan and John Abraham fought over Bipashu Basu on a recent world tour, our Band of Boys too have split and Ismail Darbar is quite upset over the win of Himesh Reshammiya’s shishya on Zee’s Sa Re Ga Ma. Now, who said men don’t fight? — P.G. 

Art of freedom
City children take to graffiti as an art form with enthusiasm 
Parbina Rashid

Looking at the gang of boys, still in their uniforms, holding compressors and spray cans and creating fiery symbols to their heart’s content somehow did not gel with our concept of graffiti art. After all, isn’t it something that street gangs (usually with colourful streaks and awful tattoos) do on public walls while playing hide-n-seek with the stern-looking cop? Even though the Masti ki pathshala number from Rang De Basanti did something to dissipate the image of graffiti as a form of vandalism, it did nothing to promote it as an art form.

Tribune photos

So, looking at the gathering at St John’s School-26, which recently held a graffiti contest for city schools (believe it or not, most of the contestants were girls) to popularise the art form, we were a little surprised. Is it actually an art, we ask Michelangelo Francis, the brain, not just behind the competition but a club too. Yes, it has almost been a month that the school came up with its own Graffiti Club. “Graffiti is all about self-expression and though it is associated with vandalism let us assure you what you see on city public walls has nothing to do with graffiti,” tell the boys of the club — Navdeep Bajaj, Anmol Gupta, Arpan Vadhera and Arnav Sachdeva.

Curious about the subject now, our research led us to the fact that historically graffiti refers to the inscriptions, figure drawing etc found on the walls of ancient ruins as in the catacombs of Rome or at Pompei. However, the initial groundwork for graffiti began around late 60s and around this time graffiti was mainly a form of expression by political activists. It was considered a cheap and easy way to make a statement with minimal risk to the artist, often at that time a hippie. Slowly gang graffiti began to arise for gangs to mark their territories. It was towards the end of the 60s, modern graffiti culture began to form. It has now actually become an art form as it now incorporates additional arts and technologies.

Coming back to the city scene, graffiti here is not about those familiar spray cans, they are using unconventional mediums like chalks, crayons and poster colours too. “Graffiti is free art and can be done with any medium provided the end result is self-expression, either in text or form,” says Harpuneet Kaur, a teacher from St. Kabir-26. One major handicap of sticking to pure form of western graffiti is that not only are the pumps and spray cans expensive, but also the spray paints are environmentally hazardous too.

Though popularising this art by organising contests among school children is a recent phenomenon in the city, majority of the students are taking to this art form with enthusiasm. “We like to make graffiti because it gives us the freedom to express ourselves and also the freedom to get messy,” say the gang of girls from Carmel Convent-9, Bhavneet, Arpeet, Ashima, Pia and Harpreet who created a graffiti on AIDS awareness. What about vandalism? Now that they know the art form, will they be tempted to go their western counterpart’s way? “No, we are the responsible lot and our creativity is confined to our school studio or at the most private corners of our homes,” the club members are quick to reassure.

With creativity meeting responsibility, graffiti has the possibility of becoming another artistic medium.


Sense & Sensitivity
Bold facts & no-nonsense presentation. These flicks may or may not rule at BO, but they stay with us for a long time
Purva Grover

Shootout at Lokhandwala

This one narrates a story sans fancy imagination. The plot is plain simple facts. The setting is no swanky locale abroad, instead there are the stark familiar lanes. The dramatisation reminds you of headlines that had spoilt the taste of your daily cuppa. Welcome to the real side of the reel world, where the number of wronged, suffered or dead decide the plot. Based on real life tragic events, these flicks get bleak openings at box office, are labelled as offbeat ventures, leave our eyes moist and teach us the lesson of life. We scanned through the Bollywood library to understand reality cinema (as we like to call it) and came back more sensitive, aware, and appreciative of these works.


Moviemakers’ enchantment with real facts found way in freedom struggle inspired flicks like Border, LOC Kargil, Legend of Shaheed Bhagat Singh, Gadar and many more. And this portrayal of hardships on silver screen kick started the trend of real scripts. And as a result, today we have Bollywood’s creative men re-opening closed files or re-visiting tragedies in search of a script.

The most recent of such flicks that moved us was Anurag Kashyap’s Black Friday. The 70 MM account of the 1993 Mumbai blasts that left the city in shambles and over 1,500 dead was quite compelling. Another recent Mumbai-based flick was Shootout at Lokhandwala that roped in stars like Sanjay Dutt, Suneil Shetty and Arbaaz Khan to chase the real-life shootout at Lokhandwala Complex. Parzania is another flick that got two veteran artistes Naseeruddin Shah and Sarika together and gave an insight to Godhra riots. And we hope to see flicks depicting the painful truth of tsunami, Uphaar tragedy and September 11 and more in future.

Black Friday

Now, if you are wondering why biggies join in these bleak projects, here’s why. One, they help in drawing audience. Second, character roles in serious flicks give them a chance to do a little more than jhatka matkas and displaying six-packs. That explains why Aishwarya played Kiranjit Ahluwalia in Provoked or Urmila portrayed the role of Puro in Pinjar. Raveena’s Daman, Madhuri’s Lajaa, Manoj Bajpai’s Satya, Tabu’s Chandini Bar and Ajay Devgan’s Gangajal too fall in this category. And there are also a handful actors who strongly believe in serious ventures like Shabana Azmi, Nandita Das, Konkana Sen Sharma to name a few.

And if you’ve been avoiding serious movies, as you want to go back home smiling, then here’s a reason to let your eyes go moist. The idea behind a 70 mm projection of human atrocities is not to push you to contribute to the PM Relief Fund or to spoil your evening, but instead etch in your mind a li’l more than just the facts of the events. And then, when you can weep, cry and howl with the bahus, bhabhis and saas’ each day for an hour for years in a row, then why not shed a few tears for real people? Well, so here’s hoping that tinsel town continues to do its bit for us and transform us into responsible audience. 

Diwali may be over, but the festive mood still continues
The show goes on
Saurabh Malik

The great Indian festival of Diwali is over. Nevertheless, the revelries continue. Nay, not just for the little rag-pickers and scavengers rummaging around the streets swathed with half-burn pieces of red paper looking for unexploded crackers. But, also for so many other teenyboppers out to celebrate the festivities of life.

For them, it’s no more lull after the bang as ‘universalisation of festivals’ helps them gear up for celebrating Christmas, New Year and St Valentine’s Day in a row. That’s right, folks! “In your case, the feeling of emptiness may have started to creep in with the conclusion of Diwali celebrations,” says ex-Capt Rajneesh Talwar, who runs a shop on the Panjab University campus, “but for the youngsters, it’s far from over as Christmas and Valentines are all their festivals.”

Even Halloween’s an occasion to shake, rattle and roll. They pull out money for cutting footloose with their partners on the dance-floor illuminated with psychedelic lights in the discotheques across the city during special bashes.          

“Attribute the phenomenon to card and music companies relentlessly promoting these occasions for commercial gains. Or call it the youngsters’ quest for something more. The choice is yours. The fact remains that the party of life continues right till mid-February,” says Suneel Anand of Andy’s Fast Food-37. “No wonder, twinkling lights keep on garlanding more than a few shops in the city till then.”

The fact that the Heritage Market-22 had taken the Municipal Corporation’s permission to continue the shopping fiesta well after Christmas, provides a testimony to the growing popularity of the occasion, he adds. Well, the market had to wind up the festival midway because of ‘high charges’, but that’s another story.

In any case, you continue to get special discounts and offers on exclusive goodies. Shruti of Raga-22 has already picked up nice silvery stuff from Mumbai and Delhi for the Christmas bashes. You can take home the knick-knacks for as less as Rs 500. The Jewels-11 too has come up with a special collection of chuck jewellery.

Just in care you do not have enough dough for a new rich look, you can take the jewellery on rent for the parties, says Chetan Kumar of the Jewels. “That way you enjoy and save money at the same time.” Now guys, put on your dancing shoes and get ready to jive your way to celebrations. For, it’s still party time.  

Classical vocalist Ujagar Singh attributes his success to purity of thought and dedication
Going places
S.D. Sharma

The organisers reluctantly invited four-year-old Ujagar to perform at a concluding function of the NSS as a filler. But once he took up the stage, the child managed to create a spell on the audience. Delighted at his musical talent, his father Tara Singh, a professor of mathematics, put him under the tutelage of Jaspal Singh, his present guru.

Years later, Ujagar, now 25, is doing his M. Phil at Punjabi university. He has won recognition at International Folk Festivals in London, Malaysia and Singapore. Though trained in classical music, his versatility and perfection encompasses other genres of music like Gurmat sangeet, geet, ghazal and Punjabi folk.

Ujagar maintains that with its tradition in the folk, devotional and popular form of music, Indian classical music has many enriching cultural contexts and the classical stream has seized and refined the select aspects of folk music. The melodic content in perfect rhythmic patterns make these forms complimentary to each other and a performing artiste must have the expertise to render all forms with ease.

“This is what my guru Jaspal Singh and my mentor Rajinder Singh Gill has taught me and I follow that,” he says. Systematic learning and strenuous riyaz have been the success mantra for Ujagar Singh. He claims to have established an all-time record for winning 373 medals for his school at the Punjabi university campus. He maintained the tradition of excellence by winning three gold medals for three consecutive years while representing Mahindra College. Earlier, he had also participated in six music events in which he won gold and silver.

However, the adulations never made him content and complacent. Rather he strived hard to excel in his chosen field. Ujagar held his supremacy in classical vocal while representing North India Inter Universities at the national meets from 2001 to 2004.

“The purity of thought, Riyaz with dedicated, discipline and blessings of guru and music lovers are my assets,” concludes Ujagar before submerging into the drone of taanpura. 

Write to Renee
at lifestyletribune@gmail.com or C/o Lifestyle, The Tribune, Sector 29-C, Chandigarh

I am a 26-year-old girl in love with a guy across the border. I don’t see any difference in our cultures or our way of thinking. We both love theatre and Urdu poetry. I met him on one of my trips to Pakistan and would like to get married to him. The only problem is I am not sure how our families would react to this, I tried bringing up the subject with my parents and they got extremely hassled. I feel religion has no part in a heartfelt feelings. How can I convince people around me.

Neha Virmani, Gurgaon

You do not need to convince anyone but your own self. The fact that you are two people with similar interests does make things easier. Allow your family to meet him as a friend. I’m sure he’ll come up with something and win over their hearts. Moreover it is your life and if you are convinced then its fine. Public opinion is not very important but yes you must get your parents to agree on the matter.

I am a 23-year-old guy on lookout for a job. I am in love with a 27-year-old girl and want to marry her. Though, I have not yet had the courage to tell her about my feelings, I do know that she reciprocates my feelings to some extent. We are neighbours and have grown up together, but the fact that she is four years elder to me is preventing me from making the first move. I am scared that she might reject me.

Anshu Bhadwar, Ambala

If two people like each other then age should not really be the criteria. I think you should go up to her, may be she too is hesitating over the age issue. You will only get to know her reaction once you speak to her. The worst-case scenario would be that she would gently turn you down, after all she is your childhood friend. If you are genuinely fond of her I’m sure she’ll return your affection.

I am a 34-year-old single guy. I have had many girlfriends but somehow I have not been able to sustain a relationship. Each time I get close to a woman she seems to want to run away from me. This could be because of my possessive relationship, I like my girlfriend to dress up in a certain way and look sober. I don’t like girls in modern outfits and I feel that girls get turned off when they hear my viewpoint. Do you think I need to change?

Aman Verma, Chandigarh

You sound confused. You want to get married but want to treat your partner as a possession and not as an equal. You can’t be saying things like “You wear these kind of clothes” or “ You get more sober”. After all, the girl has a right to her own identity. She possibly cannot live her life at your terms and conditions. I think you need to chill a little and learn to accept people the way they are.  

Health Peg
Sitting longer is risky too

Remaining seated at a place for extended periods is as bad for health as smoking or over exposure to the sun, say scientists. Professor Marc Hamilton of the University of Missouri says people who have to remain seated at their desks for hours in their workplaces, and then place themselves in front of the television after reaching home, are increasing their chances of heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and obesity.

“The dire concern for the future may rest with growing numbers unaware of the potential insidious dangers of sitting too much. These studies demonstrate a significant impact of inactivity on a par with smoking. I view exposure to sitting...like an oncologist views exposure to unnecessary sunlight,” he said. “People who break up their sitting time - walking to a colleague rather than emailing him, for instance - have a lower risk of diabetes,” Professor David Dunstan said. — ANI 

Diamond girl

Aussie pop star Kylie Minogue is the new face of Spanish jewellery brand Tous. The 39-year-singer, who modelled a signature piece of Tous jewellery during her documentary film White Diamond’s premiere, has established a contract with the Barcelona-based brand. “I was immediately attracted to Tous. It’s a fabulous brand, rich in heritage and I am excited to be a part of it all. The more I learn about the company and its history, the more I appreciate the Tous brand,” she said. Minogue will feature in the company’s print, outdoor and online ads, which will be shot this month only. — ANI  

first day first show
Farcical Extravaganza
Rajiv Kaplish

Moolah rage has turned celluloid into a battleground. It’s a fight of bloated eccentricities. Nearly Rs 150 crore is riding on two magnum opuses. There are fireworks outside and stampedes inside cineplexes and multiplexes. Brand Saawariya vs Brand Om Shanti Om.

While the maker of one thinks he is a reincarnation of late Raj Kapoor, the creators of the other owe their allegiance to the Subhash Ghai School of Film making. One is paying tributes to the musicals of the 70s, the other is singing paeans to the melancholic cinema of yore. If Saawariya had a star-studded premiere in Mumbai, Om... was premiered in an exclusive London theatre. Pre-release campaigns were outrageous to the point of being pathetic. Desperate for publicity for their respective films, Shah Rukh Khan, Farah Khan, Deepika Padukone, Sonam Kapoor, Ranbir Kapoor and Sanjay Leela Bhansali judged contests, attended talk shows, sang and danced on various TV channels and sashayed down the ramp. Death of meaningful cinema. Birth of farcical extravaganzas.

A Big Yawn

Let’s talk of the Bhansali variety first. For its ballyhooed brilliance, Saawariya does not deliver, either at the emotional level or the spectacle level. In fact, spectacle freaks who were looking for a stunning visual treat may be disappointed at the lethargic pace of the film which tells the story of two star-crossed lovers, Raj (Ranbir Kapoor) and Sakina (Sonam Kapoor) who are victims of their circumstances — Raj’s unrequited love for Sakina who considers him no more than a friend; her pinings for Iman (Salman Khan) who had fallen in love with her and had gone away with a promise to come back to her.

An extraordinarily ordinary romantic tale, it gets our responses only by the performance of debutant Ranbir Kapoor. Take away Ranbir and the flick will be a Tsunami of a disaster. His child-like innocence, though exaggerated at times, touches an emotional chord in you. But, he is let down by the story which hardly offers him any scope to demonstrate his acting abilities. Newcomer Sonam Kapoor, daughter of actor Anil Kapoor, who looks like Juhi Chawla in frames, is a big disappointment. A victim of indifferent acting, her melancholy and pain unfolds with absolute unease in front of the lens. The speed at which Rani Mukherji is playing a prostitute in film after film does not augur well for an otherwise accomplished actor. She is wasted in a role, which should not have been there in the first place. Salman Khan’s appearance is restricted to five minutes and his vocabulary is limited to one word Aslam-Alaikum. Monty Sharma’s music is appealing and songs like Saawariya and Masha Allah have the potential of becoming huge hits.

Bhansali is not a poet behind the camera but a magician whose magic fails to work. Ranbir Kapoor may not have been able to drop his towel, courtesy the Censor Board, but we throw in the towel and make it to the exit.

Showing at: Fun Republic, Batra

When disco causes dard

Om Shanti Om
Reincarnation is at the core of Om Shanti Om. If The Reincarnation of Peter Proud and Subhash Ghai’s Karz had only one rebirth, Om ... has two — those of Shah Rukh Khan and Deepika Padukone. SRK and Farah Khan rewind to the seventies, take an idea from here, take another from there, garnish it with opulent sets and a monster is born. And reborn.

In the first half, SRK is Om Prakash Makhija, a junior artiste under the spell of a superstar, Shanti (Deepika). Both perish in a studio fire ignited by baddy Mukesh Mehra (Arjun Rampal) and are born again as Om Kapoor and Sandy to take revenge on the villain. So much type. So little to write about. What can you write about a much-touted nine-minute song sequence featuring 31 stars, which is stolen from John Jani Janardan of Manmohan Desai’s Naseeb? But where was the need to gather so many actors and waste their and the audiences’ time? Or, SRK’s rippling torso in Dard-e-Disco, which, in fact, gives us dard. Garish sets are set on fire twice to show how reckless you can be if you have a lot of money to throw.

Shah Rukh abysmally fails to lift the proceedings from the rut of mediocrity. Prakash Padukone’s daughter, Deepika, who makes her debut, though easy on the eye, fails to impress in her role which is limited to the first half and half-an-hour in the second half.

Arjun Rampal is the man to watch. After a long time, we have a villain who is not only good looking but also a consummate actor. Kirron Kher and Shreyas Talpade are victims of overacting. It is a masala potboiler that will appeal only to a particular section of the audience.

Showing at: Fun Republic, Piccadily, Kiran

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