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Who's Anthony? Who the hell cares?

Interesting fruitless experience watching Anthony Kaun Hai last night.

And in this movie, we have Arshad Warsi and Sanjay Dutt back in action in a comic-thriller. As a genre, the comic thriller in circular flashback was immortalized in Pulp Fiction, and I was secretly glad that this movie was not trying too hard to match the Tarantinosque dialogue in Pulp Fiction.

Spoiler warning: Plot details follow

This brings one to the central plot of the film… Arshad Warsi plays the role of Champak Chaudhury, who's a petty criminal with a primary job of faking passports; and incidentally has only pretty Thai women coming to him for services. Why, I assumed time would tell, but apparently that was not one of the questions which the film answered in the end. Of course, in addition to Champak, we have Sanjay Dutt, the hit-man who hates people committing mistakes, and also loves using his gun – a gun fitted with a nice big silencer. He also owns a red Ferrari. Champak, called Champ by friends and the several pretty Thai women, is in supposed love with Rosa, who is undoubtedly hot and unfortunately not ready to marry Champ. Considering Champ’s perennial attire of dirty clothes coupled with an unkempt four-year old beard, one does not fault her decision. Champ, however desperately wants to marry Rosa, and finally, on a day of miracles, she agrees to marry him. The wedding is planned, but minutes before the wedding kiss, Champ is arrested. Woe of all woes, he is sentenced to six months in prison. Rosa, who definitely doesn’t have patience as a key virtue, stops wearing bikinis and promptly gets married to another friend and gets pregnant with due haste, notwithstanding the fact that she knew about Champ’s dealership in fake passports, and notwithstanding the fact that she had been refusing to marry Champ for the last few months.

But that is not the end of the movie. Champ goes to jail and becomes friends with Jiya’s (who happens to be the chief female protagonist) dad, a diamond thief, who used to dress up as statues and steal diamonds from the necklace of the Queen of Thailand. It’s a different matter, of course, that touching the queen in Thailand without permission is considered an act of sacrilege and frequently invites extreme displeasure and some amount of punishment. Jiya’s dad had a similar fate because he was caught as he was trying to smuggle the diamonds off at a pawn shop, and subsequently decided to stay quiet for the remainder of his time in the prison; in the hope that a life devoid of fun and laughter would bring him closer to his daughter. Soon after he meets Champ, tragedy strikes his family and he decides to leave jail with Champ’s help. Initially reluctant to help the old geezer, Champ finally agrees, lured by the story of the diamonds which the old man had supposedly hidden somewhere in Bangkok. This leads to a series of activities, culminating in Champ coming out of jail, the old geezer getting shot in a miserably shot gun-attack, Champ getting back in jail just to be closer to the place where the diamonds were buried (since the place where the diamonds had been buried was now another jail of Bangkok). Everything becomes complex and obscure now, and the plot stops making sense.

Add to this confused cast and confused direction, a super-intelligent policeman, the smartest on the Bangkok police force, a Hindi-speaking Indian (who incidentally speaks in Hindi with the members of the Thai police force), member of Interpol, who loves singing while investigating (frequently the songs are incongruous old Hindi songs), and you have the whole gamut, flitting in and out of the movie, with the end result that you know very little about each individual. In the course of the movie, you do come to know that Jiya has a homing pigeon (clearly Jiya’s love for pigeons and feeding them was hereditary) which Champ and she use to communicate during Champ’s voluntary stay in the prison. You also come to know about a freelance journalist named Anthony Gonsalves (the similarity with a character in a 70s movie of the same name is purely coincidental) who roamed around night clubs looking for scandal, and by the beginning of the second half of the movie, we finally realize that it’s this journalist who is the original Anthony and it’s just a sad case of mistaken identity. Of course, you would tend to expect a startling revelation in the end, but in the interests of having a happy and satisfying ending, such possible startling revelations are quietly shelved to the back of the table as you realize that you have just finished watching yet another movie which showed promise but failed to live up to it.

The basic plot of the film is based on a 2001 Hollywood movie, “Who is Cletis Tout?” The plot and narrative motif matches the original greatly; and although the film fails to impress as a whole, there are a few good performances. Arshad Warsi impresses in managing to carry a movie on his shoulders. Maybe the cameraman did a lousy job with the camera; because even though Arshad puts in a great performance to boot, his screen presence leaves a lot to be desired. The girl who plays the role of Jiya (I don’t know her name); is good in flashes, but at most places it seems as though she is just on commitment-fulfilling mode. Gulshan Grover plays his part well, and the mad doctor with a penchant for cutting open dead bodies and cracking dirty, commonplace jokes is good in his role. As an aside, I would also like to mention that the jokes the doctor cracks are horrid, turd-like and severely retard the movement of the film. The scene where Lucky, the spoilt millionaire brat, snorts coke and asks the girl to do the same bears striking similarity to a scene of a similar nature in Pulp Fiction. Of course, the subsequent murder scene looks hopefully insipid and not at all awe-inspiring. I never knew cell-phone cameras can actually enable shooting a movie with so many angles and zoom-settings. There are a few notable moments, primarily the Yash Chopra scene which had most of the audience in splits. The stories seem well-linked at times and sometimes strike a discordant note, but the direction is in general better than other Kaushal movies. The music is bad, with a capital ‘B’, and the songs retard the movie than take it forward. All in all, just like any other movie, it will turn out to be a waste of money – and you will feel just worse after you write a review like I did.

Postscript: The saving grace is some good cinematography which manages to outline and accentuate the natural beauty of Thailand’s beaches, primarily Krabi. There are quite a few grave errors in the use of the Thai language, which thankfully, the Thai people won’t get to see and would therefore not have to forgive; Arshad Warsi is seen in several scenes to reply to greetings as “Sawadee Khaa”, when it should actually be “Sawadee Khap” when spoken by a man. This is of course, not noticeable to the general audience, but makes a bad impression on anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of Thai greetings. In addition to that, the corny photography inside the massage parlor; the consistent absence of subtitles when there is a long-drawn Thai conversation, is irritating to say the least. Subtitles sometimes can be done away with when:
1) The screenplay is fascinating enough to omit the need for them;
2) The acting is top-notch.
In this case neither was the screenplay fascinating, nor was the acting of the highest caliber. The absence of subtitles is not justifiable.

All in all, the actual effect of a substantially poorly-made film was probably magnified by the sheer ineptitude of the previous screen-movie, KANK (Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna for the uninitiated). Anthony Kaun Hai fails to impress.

2 Responses to “Who's Anthony? Who the hell cares?”

  1. # Blogger Epiphany

    Dude u ACTUALLY watched Anthony... and KANK?? my condolences for those brain cell that died in this heroic endeavour :D  

  2. # Anonymous Sandy

    @Epiphany:

    Many thanks for the condolences. I do understand the graveness of the error. I shall try to keep myself away from the shit which is being dished out lately from Bollywood henceforth.  

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