Friday, April 26, 2013

Aashiqui 2

Aashiqui 2
Aditya Roy Kapur, Shraddha Kapoor, Shaad Randhawa
Direction: Mohit Suri

Aashiqui set quite a few trends. It ushered the new-age musical on release in 1990. The soundtrack emerged as a hero, setting a template that let producers make profits casting unknown names as leads.

In turn composer duo Nadeem-Shravan emerged as superstars, dictating productions because scripts started being written to fit their songs. Their music, largely blending traditional geet and ghazal with a hint of vintage RD Burman, brought back melody after the boisterous eighties.

It is essential to understand the Aashiqui phenomenon to fathom what the Bhatts were up to this time.
Aashiqui 2 is in no way about setting trends. The film merely banks on the power of saleable music and the novelty of a fresh cast to enable brothers Bhatt, Mahesh and Mukesh, make maximum moolah within minimum budget as they have done all along.

Mohit Suri as director should have been an advantage. Mohit has proved his mettle as a storyteller with hardhitting drama such as Zeher, Kalyug, Raaz 2 and Murder 2. In Aashiqui 2 he tries mixing that idiom with smoother strains of mush.

Yet, you spot sheer lack of energy about Mohit’s treatment this time though the overall packaging is impressively GenNow. It seems the film stretches a script worth an hour to its full runtime only because it wanted to accommodate all the songs.

Aditya Roy Kapur and Shraddha Kapoor get their big breaks playing the romantic duo. Aditya is cast as Rahul Jaykar, wasted rockstar battling alcoholism. He spots the incredibly talented Aarohi Shirke (Shraddha) crooning at a bar and decides to mentor her. The narrative unfolds their blossoming romance and a couple of soothing numbers unfolds.

You don’t miss strains of Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s 1973 hit Abhimaan (starring Amitabh Bachchan and Jaya Bhaduri) in the drama that follows. Aarohi’s stardom escalates and so does Rahul’s envy. Ego comes in the way of their love.

Shagufta Rafique’s story avoids taking risks. Bhatt flicks have always been typified by a flawed hero fighting inner angst. Aashiqui 2 lets Aditya’s Rahul play to the gallery with that bit. If the budding actor struggles to get the nuances right, it is mainly because he gets a weak character to play out.

Aditya’s chemistry with Shraddha also suffers for the same reason. She looks pretty, as all Bollywood love stories require the heroine to, but she fails to add some spark.

Finally the music, the film’s real winner. A battery of three composers (Mithoon, Jeet Ganguly, Ankit Tiwari) give the film its big reason to cheer for. Also, lend a ear to newbie singer Arijit Singh. Here’s hoping Aashiqui 2 does for Arijit what the first film did for Kumar Sanu all those years ago.

It is a terribly trite and tested formula. The girl possesses a voice to kill for. The boy has a fan following to die for. The twosome sings for a living.

The temperamental, hard-drinking male protagonist is a major composer and songwriter with many a chartbuster under his belt and a humongous chip on his shoulders.

The girl – she is poor, ambitious and down to earth – struggles to make ends meet. She sings in seedy beer bars.

The boy, smitten by the girl’s soulful singing of a song that he made a name with, goes out of his way to help her find a firmer foothold in the business and get ahead in life.

And when there is so much music wafting in the air, can Cupid's arrow be far behind? It finds its mark soon enough and the duo is soon exchanging sweet nothings.

But before the boy, Rahul Jaykar (Aditya Roy Kapoor), knows it, he has been upstaged by the girl, Aarohi Shirke (Shraddha Kapoor). Her stocks zoom; he hits the skids. The more she sings the deeper he sinks.

Yes, you’ve guessed it, tension and heartburn erupt between the two. And the drama takes on a shrill edge.

Aashiqui 2, directed by Mohit Suri, isn’t a retelling of merely the 1990 hit with which Mahesh Bhatt made instant but transitory stars out of Rahul Roy and Anu Agarwal.

This story has been on the silver screen times without number ever since David O Selznick produced A Star is Born three quarters of a century ago.

In Mumbai, most memorably, it took the form of Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s Amitabh Bachchan-Jaya Bhaduri 1973 starrer Abhimaan.

Does Aashiqui 2 have anything new to offer? Nothing at all. It is a musical love story with a feel so old-world that it reeks of staleness.

There is little in the latest incarnation of A Star is Born that could be held up by its producers as a pressing enough explanation for why this musical love story, which one thought was a deal that had been done and dusted for good, had to be made all over again.

Even the lead actors aren't newcomers, so do not expect them to inject any freshness into the proceedings.

Aashiqui 2 is actually an attempt to relaunch the careers of Aditya Roy Kapoor (London Dreams, Action Replayy, Guzaarish) and Shraddha Kapoor (Luv Ka The End, Teen Patti). It does not seem likely yield the desired result.

The lead pair is at best passable. Neither of the two is a finished article yet. They give their roles their all, but the impact of their labour falls way short of the intended target.

If that isn't bad enough, the film is also weighed down by cliché-ridden screenplay.

It leaves too much to Aditya and Shraddha and neither has the wherewithal yet to be able to cover up for what the script lacks.

Aashiqui 2 is riddled with syrupy inanities that add up to insubstantial treacle. No amount of surface gloss can salvage it.

The film is obviously meant for a youth audience, which is probably not the easiest segment to inveigle.

Aditya Roy Kapoor, in his first full-fledged lead role, exudes the kind of confidence that borders on airiness. He is fine in the lighter moments, but when the drama turns intense, the chinks begin to show.

There are situations in the plot that simply aren’t convincing enough, and the young actor can do little to extract something of significance out of them.

Shraddha Kapoor, too, shows promise, but only in flashes. On the evidence available in Aashiqui, she has the makings of a star with some staying power provided she learns to stay within her limitations.

A musical love story works best when both the songs and the romance border on the inspired.

1990’s Aashiqui, despite its box office success, wasn’t such a great film. What has ensured immortality for it was its music album, which still ranks among the most popular ever produced in Mumbai.

In Aashiqui 2, some of the songs are definitely hummable, but the musical score as a whole is patchy. And the love story in which they are embedded lacks the requisite solidity. So neither film nor the music ever rises above the very, very ordinary.

Fluffy and flaky, Aashiqui 2 is simply not peppy enough to paper over its cracks.

It does not strike any chords. There aren't too many highs in its hackneyed saga of songs and sighs.
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