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November 17, 2009

'Ajab' Prem ki not so 'Ghazab' kahani

Given the hype and promotion surrounding the release of this movie, not to say anything about the rumors surrounding the lead pair; you would have to have been living in a cave for the past few weeks not to have heard about this one. So, what is this Kahani all about, and is it worth a watch?

Prem(Ranbir Kapoor), a simple small-town guy, runs a Happy Club in the town with his bunch of cronies. He stays happy and lives life to the fullest, uniting distressed lovers and getting scolded by his father and shielded by his mother, something seen in countless Hindi movies. Prem’s life turns topsy-turvy when Jenny (Katrina Kaif) comes to town and he falls for her immediately. As the two get acquainted with each other, a series of incidents follows, some humorous, others romantic. Just when Prem starts to think about settling down with Jenny, she tells him that her boyfriend (Upen Patel) is waiting for her. Heartbroken, he sets out to unite the two, as that is the right thing to do. There’s nothing too ‘ghajab’ about this kahani, honestly speaking.

The screenplay increases the quality of the product a little, embellishing it with dialogues and situations that sometimes make it hard for you to stifle a smile. Cases in point, the Saawariya spoof, the Katrina top incident and the ball dance.

Raj Kumar Santoshi attempts a new genre in Ajab Ghazab, the rom-com. People have harkened back to Andaz Apna Apna, but the two films are as different as chalk and cheese. While Andaz Apna Apna was a slapstick comedy that would have gone wrong in a less experienced director’s hands, this is a romance with parts of comedy that has been the main bread-earner of studios like Yash Raj. Santoshi slips into this mode effortlessly, and nowhere does it seem like this is his first attempt. The problem is, unlike the screenplay that did add to the movie, Santoshi’s direction does not add to it. He just plays out what he got like how he got.

Ranbir Kapoor is a class act. This is yet another movie where he performs brilliantly. He rises above the average story and actually makes it work. Be it the comedy scenes, the romantic scenes or the dances, he does it all with aplomb and charms the females in the audience while he’s at it. It’s fair to say then, that this movie would have failed without him. This Prem is surely ‘Ajab-Ghazab’.

Katrina Kaif has grown better as an actress with time. Watch her in APKGK, and compare it to her earlier works and you’ll see the difference. She may not be the finished article yet as far as acting goes, but she’s getting there. And she looks STUNNING! Sigh. The supporting cast, featuring Smita Jayakar and Darshan Zariwala as Prem’s parents, Govind Namdeo as Upen Patel’s father and Zakir Hussain as a madcap gangster, does a commendable job. Upen Patel expectedly disappoints, and you wonder if he was meant to.

Pritam delivers another hit soundtrack with APK… The songs fit well with the narrative and don’t jar on your ears. Main Tera Dhadkan Teri, Tera Hone Laga Hoon & my favorite, Tu Jaane Na are all chart-busters. The Salim-Suleiman duo does a decent job with the background score. Goofy and romantic sounds expectedly fill the background for most of the duration of the movie.

The cinematographer does a good job of showing us the small-town. After all, there are only so many ways you can portray the same city on celluloid. The editing is good and consistent, save for one occasion when Katrina is suddenly shown to have been kidnapped. To be fair to the filmmaker though, it could have been deliberate. The visual effects, though present for only a short duration, are good.

Final Verdict: Despite claiming to be a ‘Ghazab’ kahani, APKGK is a run-of-the mill rom-com that only rises above the regular product courtesy of the great performances and taut direction. The end result: it’s a one-time watch for the excellent performances. Did I mention Katrina looks stunning? Sigh! 3 out of 5.


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