Baar Baar Dekho ** ½
Dir: Nitya Mehra
Starring: Siddharth Malhotra, Katrina Kaif, Ram Kapoor, Sarika, Sayani Gupta, Rajit Kapur
Baar Baar Dekho starts off promisingly enough with a slick opening montage that takes you through the lives of best friends Jai and Diya from birth to young adulthood (where they turn out to be Siddharth Malhotra and Katrina Kaif respectively) in double quick time but endearingly so. Unfortunately, the movie, while never completely falling flat, doesn’t live up to the expectations raised by that sequence (or the film’s incredibly catchy ‘Kaala Chashma’ ditty which is all the rage these days).
Soon Jai and Diya are engaged with the former feeling rather overwhelmed with the enormity of the upcoming event that threatens to change his life forever (duh!) and possibly put paid to his ambitions of being a world-famous mathematician. This is where the main plot of the film takes over (after a catchy wedding dance number, of course). Taking its cue from such Hollywood fare as Groundhog Day, Click, and About Time, Baar Baar Dekho has Jai travelling back and forth through time to see what his future may hold for him, learn some important life lessons (no prizes for guessing what those may be) and to try and fix his mistakes before it is too late. Even if the basic setup is derivative it could still have been mined for comedy gold as well as some emotional zingers. But first-time director Nitya Mehra (she assisted Ang Lee on Life Of Pi) just about skims the surface so we never really get pulled into Jai’s dilemma and the stakes never really feel that high. The movie also starts feeling repetitive after a while (I know, that’s kind of the plot, but it still could have been handled better) and trimming about 30 minutes of its running time would have helped tremendously. Dekho certainly could have done with more of the infectious energy of ‘Kaala Chashma’ (which, by the way, only plays over the end credits).
The lead pair both look good and do what they can with the material but they don’t have that much to work with. I didn’t entirely find the movie painful but it could have been a lot better. I did like the soundtrack though.
Cut to chase: Doesn’t do enough with the basic idea.
Pete’s Dragon ** ½
Dir: David Lowery
Starring: Bryce Dallas Howard, Robert Redford, Oakes Fegley, Oona Laurence, Wes Bentley
In line with Disney’s relevant recent strategy of remaking their animated classics as live-action features (Cinderella, The Jungle Book being the most recent examples) comes the update of the 1977 live-action-cum-animation musical fantasy starring Helen Reddy and Mickey Rooney. The original was a middling effort and the remake while technically superior (the animated dragon in the previous version didn’t exactly work seamlessly with its human co-stars) struggles to rise above the average too.
The movie’s biggest drawback is that while it tells you to be open to “magic” (in the sage voice of Robert Redford) it doesn’t really make you feel that magic – it is more “tell” than “show” The storyline has echoes of E.T. (alien creature has to be freed from misguided adults and authority figures to be able to fly home) but the connection between the boy, Pete (Oakes Fegley) who is lost in the forest after an early tragedy and the dragon, Elliot (yes, the dragon is indeed called Elliot – the moniker being a carryover from the original) who befriends him doesn’t really pull at your heartstrings. Director David Lowery and his co-writers needed to add another 15-20 minutes in letting the story breathe and the characters and their relationships – including the family dynamic of the young couple (Bryce Dallas Howard, Wes Bentley) that takes Pete in – attain some depth before plunging us into the obligatory chase sequence.
More positively, the new CGI Elliot – he looks somewhat like a camel and behaves like an overgrown puppy – works quite well on the big screen and there’s enough there overall to get you through a slow afternoon.
Cut to chase: Technically fine but doesn’t really pull at your heartstrings.
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