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Siraj Syed


Siraj Syed is the India Correspondent for FilmFestivals.com and a member of FIPRESCI, the International Federation of Film Critics. He is a Film Festival Correspondent since 1976, Film-critic since 1969 and a Feature-writer since 1970. 

 

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Nawabzaade, Review: One woman, three men, infinite boredom

Nawabzaade, Review: One woman, three men, infinite boredom

No, I did not do that! Really! Why would a conscientious critic invert half the picture from the poster? It’s there, on their Facebook page. See for yourself. Those three upside down bodies belong to young bachelors, who go under the euphemism of princes’ sons, but are paupers in real life. They are desperate to find suitable girls to marry, but who will even look at them, let alone marry them?

Enter a family that moves into the neighbourhood. It is a large family, but the eldest child is a comely maiden who goes by the name of Sheetal (cool, literally translated). She turns the princelings’ world topsy-turvy (which would mean straight, if we invert that poster, right?). All three get into the act of wooing her, often together and sometimes solo. Realising that it would be a great move to woo her parents too, they use their charm there as well.

The three, Karan, Abhishek and Salim, are, in reality, a tailor’s assistant, a film banners fixer and a scrap-dealer, hardly the stuff Prince Charmings are made of. But Sheetal is goodness personified: graceful, soft spoken and a worshipper of countless Hindu Gods. Trouble is she is studying for her final year in college and is unprepared. Here comes help. The trio steals question papers and delivers them to her home, in the dead of night.

That’s all very well, but Ms. Sheetal is suitor agnostic, while the parents promise her hand separately to each of the hopefuls. In comes a drug dealer and his delivery boy, who go to attend a college function to sell cocaine, where the Chief Guest is the ruthless Police Inspector, Kathor. Dealer tells boy to scoot and hide the stuff, and he puts it in the bag of the nearest person, hoping to retrieve it later. Guess what? It is found at the spot where the three suitors turned booters have kept Sheetal, after kidnapping her, and mistaken to be salt powder.

When they come to their senses, they are at Kathor’s Police Station, along with Sheetal and almost the entire supporting cast. There’s a rape rap. No, no, not the dance, but a charge. As the trailer tells you, the DNA test reveals that none of the three principal accused have had sex at least for the last three months, with anybody. Kathor Singh, who is like a coconut, hard exterior, soft interior, lets them off. But whatever happened to baby Sheetal and her family? Does it matter? Are you really going to see this film?

You will have to be of the Dilphire species, for that is the name of the film Pradeep Singh wrote before he moved on to pen Nawabzaade, who too, are all Dilphire, whatever that means. In a film that is 1 hour and 52 minutes long, he could incorporate barely three or four clever twists/funny punches. One is the climax, of course. I won’t spoil it for you—whatever be the rating, climax spoilers are definite ‘no-no’s. Also interesting is the sudden revelation of the entire gathering that they all fell for Sheetal and her chessmate moves. Another is the ‘drugs for salt’ scene. Yet another is the scene where a well-endowed girl comes to the tailor where Karan works and he is all excited at the prospect of taking her measurements. But, instead, she soon cuts him to size. But then he kills these moments of inspiration by penning scenes like having the drug dealer villain worship the actor, late Premnath, who often played the villain in his later films.

Directed by debut-making, 35 year-old Jayesh Pradhan,  independent choreographer of films like Payback Turning 30!!!, Patiala House, Aarakshan, Any Body Can Dance (ABCD), Kai po che! (2013), and Satyagraha, seems to have been made in a hurry, with scant attention to detail. Language is a big victim, with dozens of words mispronounced or ill-constructed. The ease with which the con-game is played is too incredible to swallow. Narrating the story in a dozen flashbacks becomes tedious on us, though it is innovatively done, through a window, in fast, jerk zoom starts every time. Having so many newcomers alongside a handful of experienced actors has worked against the film.

Raghav Juyal (dancer; Sonali Cable, ABCD 2) is Karan. Juyal comes from Dehradun, Uttarakhand and has never taken any formal training in dance, but picked it up from watching performances on internet and television. He is relatively the most handsome. Punit Pathak (ABCD, ABCD 2) plays the tall Abhishek. He too came from TV reality dance shows. Dharmesh Yelande (ABCD, ABCD 2, Banjo), another dance prodigy, as Salim Khan, is made to play the Muslim tapori scrap dealer, hopelessly type-cast, with his Salaam Valekums (should be As Salaam-o-Alekum) and frequent references to Sallubhai.

Isha Rikhi as Sheetal, with several Punjabi films behind her, makes her Hindi film debut. Fitting the role well, she appears a little too old to be a college student. Zakir Hussain as Sheetal’s father uses a flexible method acting style to good effect, Mukesh Tiwari (Golmaal Again, Gangs of Wasseypur, Chennai Express) is the drug dealer who hams. The third senior is Vijay Raaz as Inspector Kathor, and I am beginning to tire of his blank look and playing with accents. It’s time he went back to his real acting talent, of a decade or more ago. 

You will also see gratis five other well-known faces in special appearance, adding dance value in three gyrating acts:

Varun Dhawan (Special Appearance in song "High Rated Gabru")

Shraddha Kapoor (special appearance in the song"High Rated Gabru")

Shakti Mohan (Special appearance in song "Amma Dekh")

Athiya Shetty (Special appearance in song "Tere Naal Nachna")

Sanjeeda Sheikh (Special appearance in song "Mummy Kasam")

The three wise men/unwise boys keep reminding each other that their friendship should never suffer on account of a woman, though it almost does. Wonder how and why stars like Varun and Shraddha came in to ‘help out’? For love or friendship?

Why are there so many dances and dancers in Nawabzaade? One clue: Among the producers are Ramesh Gopi Nair and Lizelle! Who? Remo D’Souza and his wife, to identify them better.

Citing the Mahaabhaarat as an example, one of the three Romeos suggests that they should marry Sheetal like Draupadi was married to the five Paandavas. Nawabzaade is far from a royal treat. Stay far from it, unless you find solace of the masochistic kind in infinite boredom.

Rating: * ½

Trailer: https://www.facebook.com/NawabzaadeTheFilm/videos/2287500144610363/

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About Siraj Syed

Syed Siraj
(Siraj Associates)

Siraj Syed is a film-critic since 1970 and a Former President of the Freelance Film Journalists' Combine of India.

He is the India Correspondent of FilmFestivals.com and a member of FIPRESCI, the international Federation of Film Critics, Munich, Germany

Siraj Syed has contributed over 1,015 articles on cinema, international film festivals, conventions, exhibitions, etc., most recently, at IFFI (Goa), MIFF (Mumbai), MFF/MAMI (Mumbai) and CommunicAsia (Singapore). He often edits film festival daily bulletins.

He is also an actor and a dubbing artiste. Further, he has been teaching media, acting and dubbing at over 30 institutes in India and Singapore, since 1984.


Bandra West, Mumbai

India



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