Film Review | Soundtrack

Film Review | Soundtrack

The din of silence

This is the story of “Bandra’s Beethoven". That label, used by a glib manager (played by Mohan Kapoor) to hard-sell the hero of Neerav Ghosh’s Soundtrack, is bereft of irony or humour. It is meant to be sycophantic, glowing, earnest, ‘soul-soup’ inspirational—largely what the entire movie also is.

Raunak Kaul (Rajeev Khandelwal) is a master turntablist who spins at a nightclub in what is implied as Bandra, the hip Mumbai suburb. One day he goes deaf. Does he plunge deeper into his cocaine-and-whiskey path towards perdition and hell? Or does he crawl back up to life and music? There’s that tantalizing promise—the promise of a man’s redemption after he has hit the abyss with drugs, bad decisions, being in love with the wrong person, and a sudden physical disability.

The writing of the Hindi remake adapts quite awkwardly to the Mumbai context. Raunak’s is not authentically a decadent ‘Charlie’ and ‘charas’ world. The director and cinematographer (Anshuman Mahaley) depends on neon hues, jagged camera angles and the music to create the drug-induced madness. The actor does not have to do a lot. The only nuance in Raunak, really, is his hallucinatory relationship with an unthreatening clown who goads him on to inebriation (in the original, it was a grizzly bear-like beast with dried cocaine stuck to its nose). There is also his past—a childhood without a father and the only child of a helpless mother, a trite Bollywood tool in this context.

The attempt to localize is of course intentional, and it is ultimately not the film’s undoing. The attempt to make Raunak’s story sentimental and inspirational, and to strip the character’s of all his foolishness and dumbness—even when he is wasted silly, Khandelwal lends Raunak a sense of importance and seriousness—is. It is a put-off, for this DJ is no tragic hero.

Raunak, a man of firm build and groomed hair, is the anti-thesis of a man swallowed by self-destructive madness. His physicality belies the rot inside. Khandelwal has performed with gusto and he makes some scenes extremely potent, but overall, he is sorely mismatched to this character. Soha Ali Khan plays a deaf girl who rescues Raunak from oblivion. She too, like Khandelwal, is inconsistent. In some scenes the character is strikingly original, and in some completely banal. Mohan Kapoor as the greedy, soulless manager, is the most convincing character here.

Soundtrack is a downer, but for a few powerful scenes—all of which are exact replicas from the movie it’s inspired from.

I will confess I am at a disadvantage here because I have watched It’s All Gone Pete Tong twice, quite by accident. And comparisons with the mediocre original is unavoidable. When it’s a remake or an “inspiration", the task of making it better or to adapt it truthfully to its context is up for scrutiny. And I judge the film largely on those terms.

The star of Soundtrack is its music. Lyricists (Kailash Kher, Majrooh Sultanpuri, Karsh Kale, Vishal Vaid, among others), music directors (Midival Punditz, Karsh Kale, Papon, Kailash Kher, Laxmilant Kudalkar) lift the trajectory of this self-aggrandizing hero by a few notches. The film is visually accomplished, if albeit too plastic at times, but the music and the cinematography momentarily achieves what neither the lead actors nor the writing can achieve.

Soundtrack released in theatres on Friday


Love Breakups Zindagi

Tedious romance

When two actors team up as producers and stars in their maiden venture, you know the film is aimed at showcasing their “talent". ‘Love Breakups Zindagi ’ is such a film for Dia Mirza and Zayed Khan.

The young actors and first-time producers could have helped themselves by getting a more experienced hand to helm their film, or a better script. Sahil Sangha, the debutant director, is also the writer of this dull and boring script.

Dull and boring: Mirza (left) and Khan lack on-screen chemistry.

Alongside unfolds the story of twice-divorced Govind (Cyrus Sahukar), who gradually woos Sheila (Tisca Chopra), an older woman who does not believe in marriage. Thank God for Sahukar. He stands head and shoulders above the rest of the ensemble. His comic timing and dialogue delivery provide the only engaging scenes in an otherwise predictable script.

The lack of chemistry between Mirza and Khan, besides uninspired editing, unoriginal scenes and poorly written characters, further damages the film. There’s a cuddly puppy that is sure to win some hearts, but it contributes little to the plot.

Inevitably, the actor-producer duo want to dazzle the audience with their industry friends—Shabana Azmi, Boman Irani, Riteish Deshmukh and Shah Rukh Khan make appearances. But once that gimmick is over, it’s back to Jai and Naina’s wafer-thin romance.

—Udita Jhunjhunwala

‘Love Breakups Zindagi’ released in theatres on Friday.