The Final Cut

Zoya Akhtar’s latest won’t make your heart beat faster; Spy has plenty of good laughs

The Final Cut

Dil Dhadakne Do ** ½
Dir:Zoya Akhtar
Starring: Anil Kapoor, Shefali Shah, Priyanka Chopra, Ranveer Singh, Anushka Sharma, Farhan Akhtar, Rahul Bose, Zarina Wahab

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I’ve liked both of Zoya Akhtar’s two previous directorial efforts a fair bit. Luck By Chance was an insider’s look at the Mumbai film industry and it had bite. And, true, Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara had its touristy brochure elements set as it was against the exotic locales of Spain, but I bought its characters and the bromance at its centre. It had heart. Despite its moments, Dil Dhadakne Do, lacks exactly that. The characters are recognisable but they never really seem to develop much beyond stereotypes even though Akhtar and cowriters Reema Kagti and Farhan Akhtar (dialogue) have more than enough time (the movie runs almost 3 hours) to scratch well below the surface. DDD is peppy, picture postcard pretty (Turkey serves as the main backdrop this time around) and occasionally pertinent. But without the necessary emotional resonance it just doesn’t have the potency.

DDD revolves around the super-rich Mehra family - Dad (Anil Kapoor) and Mom (Shefali Shah) appear to have run out of steam romance-wise even as they approach their 30th anniversary; son Kabir (Ranveer Singh) would rather fly his plane than take over the family business; daughter Ayesha (Priyanka Chopra) longs for respect from both her parents and her husband (Rahul Bose). As the Mehras embark on a cruise with friends and family to celebrate their 30th, secrets will be revealed and romances will be kindled and rekindled. The cast is uniformly good with Anil Kapoor and Shefali Shah (she has some of the truest emotional moments in the film) taking the honours and Ranveer able to bring a fresh innocence to his role but the movie limps to its frankly ridiculous and simplistic climax. It’s not as though the pace of the movie slackens but I had kind of gotten tired of the characters by that time. The use of the family dog Bluto as the narrator (voiced by Aamir Khan) is also an overly-cute conceit which never really works. The songs are much like the movie itself - perky and they go down easy but they won’t necessarily stay with you for too long.

Cut to chase: Lacks true heart.

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Spy ***
Dir:Paul Feig
Starring: Melissa McCarthy, Jude Law, Jason Statham, Rose Byrne, Bobby Cannavale, Miranda Hart, Allison Janney, Nargis Fakhri

With the dwindling box-office clout of actors such as Adam Sandler, Will Ferrell and Vince Vaughn, Melissa McCarthy could very well lay a claim to being Hollywood’s current top comedy star. She even managed to drag the misfire Tammy to a global box-office take of over US$ 100 million purely on the basis of her star power alone. And she seems to have formed quite a formidable partnership with director Paul Feig in whose Bridesmaids she really broke through, almost stealing the movie from the rest of the higher-billed cast. The duo followed up that hit with another smash in The Heat(also starring Sandra Bullock). Now the pair have a three-peat on their hands with Spy, an action-comedy that has McCarthy as an unlikely CIA agent going out into the field for the first time when the identities of other agents become compromised and Agency chief Elaine Crocker (Allsion Janney) has no choice but to turn to timid desk jockey, Susan Cooper (McCarthy) to stop a nuclear device falling into the wrong hands. Susan doesn’t look anything like a typical CIA spy (just like McCarthy doesn’t really look anything like a top Hollywood star) but (just as in McCarthy’s case) looks aren’t everything.

The plot has quite a few holes in it (just like any Bond movie) but that doesn’t detract from its charms. The laughs are quite a few and the movie does well to play more off McCarthy’s sweet side as opposed to the brassy comedienne that we’re used to seeing on the big screen. Great support also comes from the rest of the cast including Rose Byrne (another Bridesmaids alumnus) as a snooty Bulgarian bad-guy, Jude Law as an American super-spy, and Jason Statham gamely spoofing his own tough-guy screen persona as another Agency operative. Along with the laughs, a couple of the action scenes are quite effective as well including a knife fight between Susan and bad-girl Lia (Nargis Fakhri). The movie loses a bit of steam in its latter third but there’s still enough here to merit a look-see.

Cut to chase: Fun action comedy

[email protected]; Twitter: @KhusroMumtaz

The Final Cut