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The ups and downs of <i>Aryan</i>....

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By: Subhash K. Jha, IndiaFM
Thursday, December 21, 2006
Sometimes the heart is in the right place. But the spirit meanders. And you end up watching a film that makes all the right moves... and yet fails to move the audience. Though it calls itself 'Unbreakable' Aryan is perpetually on the verge of breaking down under the weight of its own earnestness.

Debutant director Abhishek Kapoor means well. But is that enough? Kapoor fills the visuals and soundtrack with images and sounds that accentuate the protagonist's fight to survive with dignity.

That the source of inspiration for Sohail Khan is clearly Sylvester Stallone in Rocky is apparent in not just the cursory boxing sequences, but also the whole map of the marital relationship between the heiress (Snehe Ullal, barely passable) and the prematurely retired boxer Aryan who spends all his time brooding, lazing, faffing and drinking...not in that, or any order.

"It's a terrible blow to the male ego when the wife is the sole bread-earner of the family," Aryan's pal, gone from stammering inefficiency to social prosperity, counsels the jobless boxer.

The fights between the couple that follow look as staged as the boxing bouts in the end. But you nonetheless applaud director Kapoor for taking a sporty theme and converting it into a reasonably well-crafted domestic drama.

To his credit Sohail Khan is a watchable presence who excels at portraying working-class anxieties. I remember watching him do the street-smart jobless dude (a sort of Sunny Deol in Arjun, Ghayal mixed with Anil Kapoor in Tezaab and Salman in Tere Naam) in I-Proud To Be An Indian who takes on racism in the UK.

In Aryan, Sohail tackles a far more personal anxiety. The stress level is high. But the actor remains largely imperturbable...whether that's a sign of pent-up emotion or lack of the emotion, one can't say.

Aryan is a sweet little film that tells you life is neither bitter nor better... It's just a state of the mind. With occasionally, the fist thrown in. Don't try to look for too much relevance and you come away pleased with the placid proceedings.

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