4 April 2008
RACE (Dir. Abbas Mastan, 2008, India) - Bollywood High Concept At It's Worst
Race belongs in the era of trashy and technically below par film making that was being churned out by the handful at the end of the eighties and beginning of the nineties, and though I had assumed quite wrongly that this type of trashy exploitation film making had become part of the past, it continues to infect film makers in Bollywood today. Directed by the so called duo team of Abbas and Mastan, Race has been characterised by one of the most expensive advertising campaigns for a Bollywood film this year, aggressively promoting Saif Ali Khan's biceps and Biphasha Basu's thighs at an easily distracted youth market. The music promos for Race have been cleverly directed to emphasis the high octaine action aspects of the film which are clearly very minor to a film which is a poor example of the contemporary thriller. Race really has nothing going for it except for well choreographed song and dance sequences which seem to appear in the narrative unexpectedly and purely in an attempt to change the mood and entertain us. Last year, Farah Khan once again with Om Shanti Om showed everybody in the industry how the musical numbers which are so integral to Bollywood films can be incorporated expressively and inventively into the narrative so that it comments upon key themes, characters and helps to further the narrative of the film. In Race, the musical numbers stand out like a sore thumb, becoming effectively dead space and increasing the film's already unacceptable running time. Abbas and Mastan are merely competent film makers who have produced a body of films which are both uninspiring and formulaic. I am in no way going to suggest that the people involved in this venture have contempt for the audience by insulting us with an array of contrived plot twists which by the way seem to go on for an entire 2 hours and 30 minutes, nor I am going to say that reputable Bollywood actors like Saif Ali Khan, Akshay Khanna and Anil Kapoor purely did this film for the money, but what I will say is this; Race is a classic example of a film which was financed not on the basis of the screenplay but because somebody thought that the idea of Saif and Bipasha getting intimate to the soulful music of Pritam would somehow work on all of the Bollywood music video channels, which of course is exactly what has happened. The screenplay for this film is awful, with dialogue that seems to have been invented as they went along, and scenes in a horribly obvious studio set that lack any sort of energy or conviction. Aside from Anil Kapoor who has real fun with his role, everybody else act as if they are auditioning for one of those bad melodramatic TV shows that appear everyday like clockwork on the Star Plus network. Race tries to imitate the Yash Raj Dhoom films but is let down by a shockingly bad script, terrible production values, mournful cinematography, and an ending which is tragically predictable. This all adds up to be Bollywood high concept cinema at it's worst.
Labels: Indian Cinema