Saturday, October 29, 2011

Ra One loses, G One wins: My Review of Shahrukh Khan playing Superhero in Bollywood movie!

SRK as G One: Indian movie Superhero
I have just watched Shahrukh Khan’s ambitious movie Ra One. I am not going to say that either it’s a great movie or a bad one. But yes it’s entertaining.

I do regret reading so many reviews before watching the film. I should have gone straight walked to the cinema hall rather than getting influenced by others’ opinionated views that do affect us. As I'd got influenced, I don’t want to do the same.

For the critic in me, it could be a ‘long video game’ or a ‘Bollywood-Hollywood synthesis with a touch of Rajinikanth style stunts, new age techniques and the Indian kitsch’.

For the child in me, it was engaging, interesting—at times scary [yes there is very much a child in me, the one who has read Phantom and Mandrake in Hindi-English Indrajal comics, as much as Tilism Hoshruba in Urdu], and riveting for the last half-an-hour.

For the youngster in me, it was a movie that offered a new story, perhaps the tale not woven well, no great music and lacking the finesse of real great movies. But despite the flaws, it does seem to work by the time it ends. At times, you get a feeling that everything was too surreal and you think that it was a tad too predictable.

The real action is in the last 30 minutes or so. Yes, the train scene is clear imitation of Rajinikant’s Endhiran [Robot] and for that lift-up there is a tribute [it was much needed] to ‘Rajini Sir’ from Shahrukh in the midst of the movie.

Amazing Animation: G One stops the train that has ran into Mumbai VT!
Now, an admission, I have never been a die-hard Shahrukh Khan fan. I belong to the generation that grew up on Amitabh Bachchan.

But lately I have realized that the country is divided in people who either love him or simply hate him.

I belong to neither of the sides. Many friends say that they just don’t like him, his facial expressions irritate them or that his acting puts off.

I think SRK cleverly saw the void--the need for an Indian movie superhero, and being aware that children like him more, he took the plunge. He got the role tailor made for him, putting all the ingredients of a masala movie, and then launched the publicity blitz.

Some other hero may not have carried this kind of sci fiction sort of computer game movie. It needed SRK, who has been with us for the last 20 years and has come to symbolize popular culture, to lift it. To his credit, he manages to pull it off.

Though we have had TV serials like Ramayana and Mahabharat where divine & mythical  characters were seen burning the devil with deadly rays and fighting while flying in air or even the genie tales, but trying it in a mainstream movie in India was always risky.

 Chammak Challo enlivens movie. All other songs are forgettable in Ra One
That probably seemed easier with characters like Flash Gordon or Fauladi Singh in the comics or animation heroes in 'He Man’ series or the ‘Superman-Batman’ movies.

So you can give credit to SRK for his attempt in making the movie and trying to play a superhero.

The story goes like this: The kid wanted his father to make a computer game where the villain is more powerful than the hero. The father obliges but the villain Ra One comes out of the game to kill the father [the programmer--Shahrukh Khan] and then hunts for the player [Lucifer].

Aah, I am again reminded of my childhood. Do you remember the Mandrake series where his half-brother, the often faceless, Lucifer [Cobra or Vishdhar], comes back to settle old scores. Remember the hood without face in some comics!

Did the script writer had memories of that popular comic series in his mind and took the name from there? The two sides of the same coin: one good, the other evil. Sorry I again drifted from the subject and went back from movies to the world of comics.

I have always been bad at video games. Always found tough to graduate to the next level. So the last 20-odd minutes, provided some thrill when G One has to reach a particular level and then overcome his capabilities to fight with Ra One, the powerful monster, and defeat him.

In between there are a few comical scenes, the presence of Satish Shah, SRKs accent as a Tamilian, the animation scenes, the sole popular song Chhammak Chhallo where Kareena might allure you with her curves and cleavage, until the racy end. SRK's piercings and the airport scene maylook gross but it could be appealing to his gay fans.

G One gets ready for the final battle with Ra One
In the meanwhile, there is some melodrama and tragedy, ‘Funny scenes’, which are perhaps not as funny.

The 'crotch scenes' every now and then, that appeared repetitive. Also there was a widowed Kareena Kapoor’s ‘Karva Chauth’ episode with SRK’s robotic lookalike from the game.

Finally G One wins. SRK was long dead but the animated SRK, G One, dies fighting and then resurfaces at the end, a la Hollywood movie style so that there could be a possibility of the sequel in future.

So go and watch the movie with an open mind. There is chance you may genuine like it or might return dazed, feeling as if you are just back from the virtual world. But don’t go by self-appointed critics’ opinionated reviews [what about this one?]. had nearly half-a-dozen articles and pieces on Ra One in the first two days itself. Strangely, contrary to their style [they carry two reviews--one positive and a harsh reviews], almost all of them trashed the movie and even termed it a flop on the first day.

I think I would have enjoyed a bit more had I not read some much about the film. The hype perhaps led to this and it’s a double-edged sword anyway as expectations were raised too much. What do you expect of a movie, after all?

A Crumbling Mumbai Railway Station: That's the Best Scene in the Film
I don’t think every flick can be a masterpiece that could be rated high on all parameters.

There was visual delight, the ultimate being the crumbling scene of Mumbai CST [earlier VT], a hallmark of computer generated animation.

Box office reports suggest the movie is earning enough of crores to keep him in race for Bollywood’s top slot.

Do we, the cine-watchers, need to think in terms of hit or flop, when the film has just been released! I think I am not disappointed after watching the movie. It was different and it did entertain me. In the end, it was victory to good guy, which most of us like.

Isn’t that enough! What’s your verdict?