Friday, June 29, 2007
With Shraddhanjali, his directorial debut, Anil Sharma proved that he could make you moist-eyed. With Hukumat, he proved that he could pull off a vendetta fare with gusto. With Gadar, he proved he could handle a love story with two neighboring countries as the backdrop with remarkable ease.
Apne, his new endeavor, is all about familial bonding. In a way, the storyteller goes back to his roots in his new outing -- emotions.
Apne casts a father [Dharmendra] and his two real-life sons [Sunny, Bobby] in roles that suit their personalities. Besides, the backdrop of boxing makes the conflict in the story look convincing.
Apne is rich in emotions and a number of sequences, especially those between Dharmendra and Sunny, are electrifying. Also, the boxing matches [Chris Anderson] are pulse-pounding and you clench your fists tightly due to the tension that's depicted on screen.
But Apne has its share of shortcomings as well. Ideally, the film should've had a concise format of 2.15 hours, instead of 2.54 hours. Besides, the screenplay, although tight at most times, succumbs to mediocrity at places. Music too is another aspect that should've had a lingering effect, since it's not everyday that the three Deols come together.
To sum up, Apne is desi at heart and holds appeal for those who swear by desi flicks. A worthy effort nonetheless!
Baldev Singh Choudhary [Dharmendra] won a silver medal in the Olympics and made India proud. His only dream was to make history by becoming India's first World Heavyweight Boxing Champion. But sometimes dreams get shattered before they can be realized.
When in the U.S., fighting for the World Heavyweight Championship, the betting mafia conspires against him and gets doping charges leveled against him, which gets him banned from boxing.
For an athlete nothing can be worse than doping charges. Baldev wants to get rid of this stigma and pain by training his elder son Angad [Sunny Deol] in the sport of boxing and make him a World Heavyweight Champion and create history which eluded him.
But Angad has some other dreams, other aspirations, other commitments... Karan [Bobby Deol], the younger son, a musician, in spite of wanting to fulfill his father's dreams, is helpless. But the story takes a turn when Karan decides to live his father's dream. The situation spirals out of hand subsequently...
Apne grips you gradually. Anil Sharma and writer Neeraj Pathak open the cards at the very outset. The uneasy relationship shared by the father and son [Dharmendra, Sunny], Dharmendra's failed ambition, the turning point in the tale [when Bobby steps in to fulfill his father's dreams] make the goings-on watchable. The narrative only gets absorbing when the focus shifts to the boxing ring and the opponent [Luca] steps into the picture.
But there's a flip side too. The choreography of these sequences [in the boxing ring] is so real that it can be off-putting as well, especially for the faint-hearted. Also, the climax is well crafted, but, ideally, it should've ended when Sunny overpowers the opponent. The subsequent portions [Bobby's liver problem] only add to the excessive length.
Director Anil Sharma handles the emotional sequences brilliantly. In fact, a number of scenes bear the stamp of a solid storyteller. The screenplay [Neeraj Pathak] is taut, except for a few loose ends. Himesh Reshammiya's music is a complete letdown. Barring the title track, the remaining songs are uninspiring. Kabir Lal's cinematography is topnotch. The lush green fields and locales of North India give the film a rich texture.
Apne belongs to Dharmendra. No two opinions on that. The veteran roars like never before and proves yet again that he's a magnificent actor. Sunny is first-rate. Bobby is alright, but the one complaint that you hold against him is, why didn't he work on his physique when he accepted this role? If he's playing a boxer, he can't afford to show his flabby chest and stomach.
The leading ladies don't have much to do. Shilpa at least gets a few scenes, while Katrina is there to flutter her eyelashes only. Kirron Kher is superb yet again. In fact, she has a far meatier role than the two ladies. Divya Dutta is wasted. Victor Banerjee is natural. Jawed Sheikh gets minimal scope. Aryan Vaid is alright. Luca is excellent.
On the whole, Apne is rich in emotions and has the potential to strike a chord with families. Those who love emotional fares are bound to take a liking for its theme. At the box-office, it has the power to grow with a strong word of mouth. Business in North India will be the best. However, trimming the film will only elevate its status.