wogma rating: Add to that never-watched 'To Watch' list (?)
Aashayein gives John Abraham loads of scope to emote and he manages a bit here and a bit there. But looks like the actors, writer/director, Nagesh Kukunoor and thus the audience lose it as the movie slogs along to the end. The metaphors are thrown at your face and explained in excruciating detail. And yet you don't know why the director/writer did what they did.Read more
Nagesh Kukunoor and John Abraham - 3-4 years ago, these two names would be most unlikely to be found together in one sentence, let alone in one film's credits. John Abraham carried the image of a hunk. But, a glance through some of the titles he is associated with in these years, and I realized just how wrong that image is. It is no surprise now, that he appear in a Nagesh Kukunoor film.
Also, in these years, Nagesh Kukunoor tried a little off-track yet "commercial" stuff and disappointed big time with Bombay to Bangkok and 8x10 Tasveer. And failed miserably at the box off too. Yet, it's very difficult for me to write-off the maker of Teen Deewarien, Iqbal and most importantly Dor. And Aashayein sounds like a deserving candidate too since its being propagated as an emotional film. It also sounds like the entire story revolves around one character, that played by John Abraham, so there is lots of scope for character development. fingers crossed
Meanwhile, my respect for John Abraham has multiplied manifold, ever since No Smoking. In fact, even his commercial films, are not the typical ones, there's always something 'different' about them. I understand his choice of films though doesn't make him a good actor. Adjectives like 'furniture', 'brick', 'frozen', etc have been used to describe his acting. And they somewhat hold true even now. He still has that 'model' stance and walk. This reminds me of this discussion with my husband about the next big "star" in Hindi films some 4-5 years ago.
He: mark my words, John Abraham will be the next big thing. Me: I hope not!
Today I'm willing to eat my words, just because he lends his names to projects other "stars" might not easily do. Also, he comes across as a very sincere person in his interviews. For instance, for Aashayein even dumb sentences like "This film is special for me", "This is my most challenging role" sound less fake than otherwise. Because along with those inane lines, he makes the right noises -
Conforming isn't my cup of tea. How boring is life if you conform. And how dull life would be if all I did was chase success. Sure, I want it. But I also want to take the untrodden path. It's the deviations that make my life exciting. Some of what I did last year might not have worked. But the fact that there was debate about them was enough for me. At least the kind of films I do make people curious.
Along with my selfish motivation of watching a good film from and wishing well for one of the directors I like, I really hope this film which was ready for release 2 years ago, doesn't suffer from the jaded look 'stuck' and 'on-hold' films suffer from. Fortunately, the beginning is right, the music still sounds reasonably fresh.
Milliblog - "Shiraz-Pritam triumph in Salim-Suleiman territory."
Hindustan Times - "A decent album that has much potential."
Music Loud - "8/10"
Filmfare - "The other problem with the OST is that it’s full of ‘sad’ numbers"
Glamsham - "AASHAYEIN is a well-etched compilation of Indi-pop flavored soundtracks with quality singing talents from big-names in the business."
Sounds like this will be enough till release time - August 27, 2010. Till then,
- meeta, a part of the audience
Aashayein stars 50 people whose days are numbered by some fatal disease. Almost all have come to terms with it. Some smile artificially. And a handful spit venom. How they coexist and come to love each other is what Aashayein could have been about. And I agree, that would have been plain boring and the base story needed something additional and Nagesh Kukunoor has that on the platter too. Just that the spoon-feeding of how and why it is different didn't entirely appeal to my taste buds. And of course they went berserk with the "metaphors" as the end approached too.
Symbolism remains symbolism if it's left to interpretation. Some parts of the film feel like a 'Metaphor 101' class, to teach us, the ignorant audience, the basics of film-reading. It is very painful to see a double and triple display of what the writer meant by showing a particular sub-pot, as if to make sure that even those in the audience dozing don't miss it. I was in awe when some of the metaphorical stuff started. But they rub it in too much and the charm goes away. Oh and, it becomes more and more ridiculous. So, it ends up making you laugh instead of making you think.
Also the writer makes things unnecessarily awkward too often. Usually, I blame the execution for the uneasiness the actors/director felt in a particular scene. But, here the writing felt forced and you could sense how hard the script had to go against its nature to make room for a 'different' situation/action/reaction. A simple thing like a hug between two characters came across as if one of them is being forced into it.
It almost felt like the writer was on an emotional up and down. He has created this world with different characters and their quirks. He digs a little deep into their emotions, panics at what he sees (also panics at this perception of the audience's reaction) and surfaces to breathe. And this jagged script becomes a pain to swallow. And all you remember is that pain and forget some of the most beautiful moments and relationships that he creates.
Anyway. There is a takeaway from the film. Anaitha Nair, this little girl was the life of the film. She played the blunt, toxic, vulnerable, teenager Padma so casually, that you feel compassion towards her wicked character. Exactly what you are supposed to feel for her. That doesn't mean John Abraham didn't do well. It's just that, if a man is dying you are supposed to feel sorry for him, not drool at him. Emotions don't particularly show up very well when he tries them on. But the man tries hard, only problem is the effort is too transparent.
A touch of humor in the dialogues, the songs, especially the lyrics, and some of the close-up shots also go into the "saving grace" list. But...
With a heavy heart, I have to say Nagesh Kukunoor doesn't crack it with Aashayein either. I wouldn't say the film starts off well. It has its share of cliché's, badly written scenes. Like the rest of the film, the beginning too, escapes under the guise of calling the action/dialogue filmy and doing it anyway. But there are glimpses of above-average thought - both qualitatively and quantitatively - being put into some of the scenes. There is hint of a soul and as fate would have it, the hope dies as the post interval period starts.
- meeta, a part of the audience
Thumbs up, by Saibal Chatterjee, NDTV : ...While the emotional resonance of this tragic situation is easy to comprehend and respond to, the film does not ever jump out at you in a desperate attempt to tug at your heartstring... full review
Thumbs up, by K N Gupta, SmasHits.com : ...Anaitha Nair of 'Chak De India' and 'Well Done Abba' plays brilliant despite being relatively new in the industry, by her warm relationship with John.... full review
So-So, by Baradwaj Rangan, Blogical Conclusion, The New Sunday Express : ...Aashayein has plenty of solid laughs, a couple of terrific romantic moments (a marriage proposal with merely two lines of dialogue is a low-key charmer), a handful of rousing (and, yes, crowd-pleasing) eccentrics, truckloads of snappy dialogue, and a story that’s more than a little universal.... full review
Thumbs down, by Noyon Jyoti Parasara, AOL INDIA : ...Unfortunately, while Mukherjee kept things simple and drove home his message, Nagesh got caught in his own web of thoughts, resulting in no clarity in the end results.... full review
Thumbs down, by Bollyfan, Cinemaa Online : ...If the first half, that I’ve summed up so far was a murder of two classics, the second half is Nagesh’s psychotic assault on the audience’s sensibility, patience and intelligence. ... full review
Thumbs down, by Manisha Lakhe, Film Impressions : ...Aashaayein is a convoluted story which gets so painful, you wish someone from The Expendables running on the screen next door would come in and shoot all the characters in this one... full review
Thumbs down, by Deepa Garimella, fullhyd.com : ...you can get people like Girish Karnad to mouth whatever you consider philosophy, and you can take the help of abstract symbolism; but unless you're a Hrishikesh Mukherjee, you have to work hard... full review
Thumbs down, by Mihir Fadnavis, india.com : ...So many terrible things happen to the people in 'Aashayein' that when the last awful scene comes - something so resounding and meaningful that it instantly, horribly cheapens the rest of the movie - you get almost numb to it... full review
Thumbs down, by Shilpa Jamkhandikar, Reuters : ...or a film that is supposed to tug at your heartstrings, this one barely manages to touch them and except for a few moments, hardly any of the characters or their stories make an impact on you.... full review
Thumbs down, by K K Rai, STARDUST : ...The audience will be surprised to watch this John Abraham, who is purely identified with the cancer- stricken character of Rahul and entirely different from that muscled- bollywood hunk which we all know... full review
Thumbs down, by Pratim D Gupta, The Telegraph : ...Yes, the ones Rahul will play Patch Adams to. His partner in philanthropy, the Amelie of the film, is another cancer patient — the 17-year-old Padma (Anaitha Nair).... full review
Thumbs down, by Nishant Mehta, The Tossed Salad : ...But the man to watch out for is John Abraham. The director has been successful in scripting a new character for the hunk and he stands up to the expectations, barring few scenes.... full review
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This page has additional observations, other than the ones noted in the main review.
Bhaskar (John Abraham) finds out he's suffering from cancer (don't miss the Anand reference here), a few days after he wins a HUGE sum while gambling. He walks out of his regular life into seclusion only to meet new people.