99 | Movie Review

Monday, May 25, 2009

Like an oasis in a desert, 99 stood a chance to quench the thirst of avid Hindi movie goers who have been waiting endlessly to watch a Bollywood movie. Does 99 deliver? Not exactly but with the dry spell of Bollywood not expected to end soon, I would recommend it. The movie is not good but not BAD either. It appeals to you in parts, appears loose in many and with no star power or strong story to back it up, has little chance at the BO.
I feel that some more publicity could have helped the film because it really had a free run with no major releases lined up. I think the producers didn’t have all the money to do it but they still could have done much more. It doesn't take much to create a web presence for a film. I didn't find enough wallpapers for this film when I googled. If the producers could risk earning the wrath of the whole industry by releasing the film against the wishes of the Producers’ association, they should have at least promoted the film well enough to earn enough money to last a life time ;)
Coming to the film’s content, 99 is about two crooks who dream of hitting the century of their lives to move away from being mere crooks but are caught in the mess of a jinxed 99 that makes them fall short of delivering the knock-out punch. The film has a backdrop of the match fixing scandal in cricket that rocked the country in early 2000. The two crooks are played by Kunal Khemu and Cyrus Broacha. Kunal is a good actor and has age on his side. I think he needs just one good break from a big banner to break into the ‘star’ category. Cyrus is seriously irritating in the movie. I don’t know if the character was designed that way but the goofy MTV brand of humor does not work well for me in the movie. Bomman Irani, who plays a gambler, is good again as he always is. He gets into the character so well that you never think of him as a filmy character. The two ladies – Soha and Simone play fillers. Vinod Khanna is ordinary while Mahesh Manjrekar is good as a goofy goon from Mumbai. But I will reserve most of my accolades for Amit Mistry who plays a petty Delhi extortionist named Kuber. The guy has outshone everyone in the film. Watchout for the scene where he is whacked by Kunal at Irani’s house. Simply hilarious!
The direction is ordinary most of the times. The story and script are okay but some finer nuances of relations and mannerisms/traditions of Delhi wallahs have been picked superbly. I liked the scene where Bomman Irani confesses about his dealings with bookies. It looked like a natural conversation between a husband and wife. The Pooja, Neha, Dimple naming tradition of Delhiites and their fraudulent ways shows the good observation skills of the writer. Besides these, the director has also picked things like the early days of mobile phone, the days when there were no CCD's and Barrista's, the India-South Africa Cricket series of 2000 and the Y2K issue to give the story a bearing in the year 2000. It is amusing to see how our lives have changed within a short span of 9 years. But at places it gets overboard. There is too much of an emphasis on trying to show that the film is based in the year 1999-2000. The film falters on delivering a complete package and thus falters on packing a punch.
Music is passable. There are a couple of songs like the Delhi Destiny and Kal ki Tareh which are quite hummable but we have been hearing songs like these for quite some time. Thankfully, songs do not stop the flow so you don’t mind them playing in the background. They were much better than the inane dialogues that Cyrus gets to mouth. I seriously feel that he should do what he is best at on TV. Films require a different mindset. So a funny man on TV does not necessarily translate into a funny man in cinema. Remember Shekhar Suman?
99 is nowhere close to being a revelation in the small budget film category. But I will still recommend it because of two reasons. One, it’s been a long-long time since we had any film released and two, it will not make you come out of the theatre grimacing. With the IPL now over, this film could be your excuse to have one more time pass evening with friends. For others who value their money more, wait some more. Hopefully, one of the warring parties (producer-multiplex owners) will accede defeat and the viewer would get the respite from this long dry spell. I could literally see cob-webs on the screen running the film. These are the days of a recession of different type in the ‘recession-proof’ industry as it was claimed. Hope it comes out of it soon.


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