Saturday, October 31

Aladin - Falls short of expectations, but not bad too...

Movie - Aladin (Hindi)
Director - Sujoy Ghosh
Producer - Sujoy Ghosh, Sunil A Lulla
Cast - Amitabh Bachchan, Sanjay Dutt, Riteish Deshmukh, Jacqueline Fernandez, Ratna Pathak Shah, Saahil Khan
Music - Vishal & Shekhar
Cinematography - Sirsha Ray
Art - Sabu Cyril
Editor - Suresh Pai
Story - Sujoy Ghosh, Suresh Nair
Screenplay & Dialogues - Sujoy Ghosh, Ritesh Shah
Action - William Ong
Background Score - Jody K Jenkins
Release Date - 30th October 2009

When I first heard that a movie called Aladin is being made, I thought it would be the recreation of the Arabian fairy tale into Hindi. But when I saw the first trailer of the movie, along with Love Aaj Kal, I understood that the fairy tale myth is used to narrate the story of a duffer, whose name by the way, is Aladin. The movie boasts of superlative special effects, a cool new genie played by the Big B, a menacing villain by Sanjay Dutt and some good music and great sets by Sabu Cyril. Sujoy Ghosh who made an impressive debut with Jhankaar Beats and made a horrible film Home Delivery after that, is at the helm of affairs and we expect a fresh treatment, since we cannot just ignore the guy who made the wonderful Jhankaar Beats because of one mistake. 

The story set in an imaginary city called Khwaish, is about Aladin Chatterjee, who is ridiculed all his life for his name that is taken from the hero of the Arabian fairy tale. He is made to rub lamps just for the heck of it, by his bullying friends right from his childhood to college days. A new girl called Jasmine comes to his college on an exchange programme, and Aladin falls for her on first sight. But he doesnt know how to charm her or win her heart. On his birthday, he is ridiculed once again by his friends, who make him rub yet another lamp. But to Aladin's surprise, an actual Genie called Genius comes out of the lamp and tells him that he can grant any three wishes of Aladin. An evil ex-genie called Ringmaster is also in search of the lamp, to execute his evil plans of ruling over the world with his powers. The adventure that follows is the story of the movie. 

It is a very interesting premise, something which has never come before in Hindi or Indian Cinema. But it doesnt really become something spectacular, as one expects. The movie is narrated in a simple and sweet way, something which is very basic for this kind of a movie. This works favourably during the romantic parts, but does not work when it comes to the fantasy part of it. That needed a much grander treatment. 

It is Riteish's film all the way. He is a multi-talented actor who is yet to be fully utilized by our filmmakers. He plays the duffer effectively and is outstanding in the comic scenes. Thanks to an extremely natural performance by Riteish, the new Aladin comes across as a goofy, but lovable character. Things start to spice up once Amitabh Bachchan comes into the movie with a dance number. He walks on a thin line between going overboard and being hep and cool and manages to stay somewhere in between. He plays the new, improved, wacky version of the Genie very well and we start enjoying the proceedings once he appears on screen. He also does a lot of song and dance and even fights quite effectively at this age. We can see that he has had a lot of fun playing this role. He had played a friendly ghost earlier in Bhoothnanth wonderfully, now it is his turn to play a similar, but more hep genie. Sanjay Dutt plays the menacing Ringmaster, wearing a black & red costume probably inspired by Magician Mandrake. He has his set of assistants who are a circus version of the X Men. One among them even has Wolverine-like blades coming out of his fists. Jacqueline Fernandez is extremely cute and has a fresh screen presence. She can probably be the next Katrina Kaif if she gets the right films. Ratna Pathak Shah, a wonderful actress is terribly wasted. Victor Bannerjee has nothing to do. Saahil Khan has to play an irritating character and he does that well by irritating both Aladin and the audience throughout. 

This film depends a lot on visual effects. But there are quite a few instances where the VFX is overdone. Effects are used when they are totally unnecessary. They should have kept it more simplistic. Even Sabu Cyril's excellent art work is implemented more through graphics rather than building actual sets. There are some really good use of effects as well. 

The film has good music, but almost 3 songs come back to back in the first half. Big B's introduction song, his rap number and folk number come without much gap between each of them and tires the viewer. The beautiful romantic number 'You May Be' comes in the second half and is extremely soothing, both to the eyes and the ears. There was absolutely no necessity of a song just before the climax. Without all these songs, the film would have been much better. Even though it was unwanted, Big B did a fabulous job in the rap song.

Sirsha Rai's cinematography is okay. Nothing much to boast about because the film relies mostly on graphics to do the tricks. Editing by Suresh Pai is decent and the film has some interesting cuts. The screenplay is very simplistic and becomes extremely complicated towards the end, thereby confusing the viewer. Like in the movie, the opportunity of using the three wishes are completely wasted.  Sujoy Ghosh has tried his best to narrate an engaging tale and almost succeeds in doing that. If it was a little more exciting than being so simplistic, it would have done wonders for the movie. The climax also could have been better. Having said that, the movie also has its share of lovely moments and hilarious scenes involving Riteish, Bachchan and Jacqueline. Sujoy must be appreciated for creating and handling those moments effectively. 

All in all, Aladin may fall short if you have huge expecations, but is still a decent watch. I didnt feel bored at any point of time. The movie will surely fascinate the kids, who are the main target audience of the movie. It also has some nice comic moments, without any shade of vulgarity. That aspect should bring in a lot more family viewers. If all goes well, the film could even turn profitable. All in all, a decent movie. 

Rating - 3/5


  1. Aah, here I should be reminding you about a golden rule for film critics/reviewers - You are just putting "your views" on a movie.
    Each viewer has his own mind and thinks based on that. The critic should be speaking of the treatment/details of the film. I see that you have done that really well in all your reviews, and (hope I am not flattering ;)) exceedingly well here.
    I had read Masand's review, though I saw the First Day First show (long time after Swades):),and I didnt see him showering praises on Aladin. All he said was the treatment was good but could have been better.

  2. the problem with Masand is that he gives away too much of the story and the good scenes sometimes.. so it takes the fun away for ppl who havnt seen the movie so far.. and sometimes he gives bad reviews for certain very nice movies.. like he gave a really bad review for cheeni kum and just an average rating for dev d.. i'm nobody to comment on him, but my views are not always on the lines of masand's.. one critic i like and i find very similar to my taste is Sudhish Kamath from The Hindu.. its a delight reading his reviews..

  3. Call it coincidence or just another of those Filmy Formula - The guy who gave review on Hindu on IB was Sudhish Kamath and one more to add to the list, I too love reviews given by Sudhish Kamath. Man, tell you something, move over to Chennai - 2 advantages, Lots of good Production houses and all the Worldwide relases hits Chennai Screens.

  4. I was in Chennai for 3 years during my graduation and I still miss going to the cinemas in Chennai, be it Sathyam or even Rohini.. I keep coming to Chennai quite often now also.. That place has Cinema in the air itself.. :) :)