LIGHTS. CAMERA. ACTION! Welcome to the review-blog of an Indian pichchar aficionado!


Actors: Shah Rukh Khan, Kareena Kapoor, Arjun Rampal, Master Armaan Verma
Rating: 2/5                               
Genre: Sci-Fi/Action 

The lead pair, the mega bucks, the first trailer, record number of showings, the 3D format, the SFX, Akon, Thalaivar’s guest appearance, and SRK’s marketing blitz must all add to the hype and curiosity. But the same potpourri is a recipe for failure when not cooked right. The
 plot written by Anubhav Sinha is about victory of good over evil.  Nerdy Shekhar Subramaniam (SRK) is a video game designer based in London with wife Sonia (Kareena Kapoor) and son Prateek (Master Armaan), who does not think highly of his father. So Shekhar’s idea to impress his son is to develop a new video game (a la Kinect). The bad character from the game Ra.One wants to avenge losing (in the game) to Prateek playing G.One aka Good One, in the game. Things turn topsy-turvy when both characters jump out of the video game with Ra.One (Arjun Rampal) hounding Prateek, and G.One (SRK) playing protector.

As Shekhar, SRK is not commendable. South Indian accent and mannerisms is not SRK’s cup of tea and must strongly be advised against repeating it. The wig doesn’t help either. Although Shekhar’s chemistry with Sonia is dry, his relationship with Prateek is very well portrayed. As G.One, SRK is classier, younger, muscular and actually looks like a superhero. G.One emoting, being an automaton and especially after an ‘emotion mere syntax mein nahi hai’, is implausible and is clearly a scripting error. The best part about G.One is his athletic vibe, and it is refreshing to watch SRK perform stunts. VFX is just a tool, but the ropes are tied to a real person and G.One does so much more than just punch the bad guy. Kareena as Sonia is eye candy chammak challo and looked too young to play soccer mom. Kareena shares great chemistry with G.One. Eh?! OK so I have to fizzle it out for you to let some logic in. Shekhar dies, and so. 

Arjun Rampal as Ra.One has limited appeal. His chiseled look, his suit, his stunts are greatly in tune with sci-fi villains of today. Although Shekhar’s villain is intended to be stronger than the hero, Arjun’s screentime is low, and as Ra.One does not induce fear and/or excitement. If anything, Arjun’s action is commendable in the climax. Master Armaan (yep it’s not a girl) plays tween Prateek, who is geeky enough to read video game program code(!). Prateek starts to respect his father only after his untimely death, and by hanging out with G.One. His role was etched to highlight the relationship between a father and son, and Prateek does a decent job.

Being able to handle a bunch of weighty elements called out in the beginning of the review takes a lot of spunk. Moreso for the film producer to hand over the reins to a Director whose filmography comprised 2 semi sci-fi flicks that were duds. A bold decision to cast Anubhav Sinha as Director backfires in all aspects, who has crumbled unable to use brand SRK and other valuable resources to narrate what could have otherwise been a superb story. The story is flawed, its not stressed enough how characters come out of and go back into the video game; how Ra.One is interested in fighting the player and not G.One; how Kareena is able to easily cope with Shekhar’s death and is able to move on and develops feelings for G.One; how G.One is able to emote; the list is virtually endless. Yes it’s a superhero flick with nearly no holds barred, but logic and flow helps enhance viewing experience. G.One shows up right before the intermission and he’s only there to protect Prateek and Sonia. VFX is used in controlled proportions and there are very specific instances where it is commendable. Sequences that could be awe inspiring are dampened due to westerlies like T2, Spiderman, Iron Man, etc.

Apart from the loose plot, the screenplay by Anubhav Sinha, Kanika Dhillon, Mushtaq Sheikh, and David Benullo is a complete let down. Once the expectation is established that one solid fight between G.One and Ra.One is mandatory, scenes in the interim are jumbled up without any definitive meaning and probably with a sole focus to showcase VFX expertise where possible. It would have really worked in the film's favour should G.One do more superhero than just talk. The action in general is limited and the train scene is stretched beyond need. During the initial squabble between G.One and Ra.One, there is no reason why they would both throw cars up in the air, which don’t hurt either. There's some unwanted comedy like G.One catching a bullet fired at him, up his nostril beating Dharamji's act, but still! Cinematography by Nicola Pecorini and V. Manikandan is commendable and all characters look their best. Used in coordination with VFX, this film is definitely a breakthrough in homebred Indian sci-fi cinema. Specially in the action sequences, the bike crashing, the bus accident, the train sequence, the collapse of the terminus etc are good examples. Editing by Sanjay Sharma and Martin Walsh is what’s the word, ah yes, shitty. There is a lot of chaff that was included purely to thrill certain audience pockets (read children), but the content is simply outweighed by poor chaperoning.

It’s a commonly observed relation in Hindi cinema that good movies tend to have good music. Vishal – Shekhar’s music hasn’t caught on, except a couple of songs – Chammak Challo and Dildara. Of course the music wasn’t intended to propel the story, but it doesn’t work as a great departure from the bad screenplay either. Background score by the same duo with contribution from the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra is catchy and does add excitement to those few scenes where G.One does spring into action action.

WHY 2/5:
The good: A futuristic concept although not stitched together correctly. SRK and Kareena Kapoor. The VFX. The background score. Potential for part 2. Red Chillies’ production values.
The bad: Direction. Screenplay. Editing. Much hard work in the wrong areas.

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