Wednesday, March 26, 2008

RACE - the superficial

RACE is a fantastically superficial, depressing and boring Bollywood action thriller. The film is characterised by hyper-glossy women; self-conscious slo-mo action shots; an ear-threateningly loud score; and a penchant to shoot all the stars as if they were in rap videos.

The brothers Burmwalla are best loved for their hit movie CHORI CHORI CHUPKE CHUPKE but have significantly amped up the stunts and the sex scenes since then. In this film they concoct a ludicrous tale about two feuding brothers who are both the subject of $100m life insurance policies. The brothers and their accomplicies scheme and plot to kill, defraud, bribe and triumph. They are aided by two hot chicks, and held up by a comedy double-act of coppers. The plot has so many implausible plot twists that the audience is long past caring well before the end. Still, giving credit where it's due, unlike some convoluted thrillers, the Burmwalla brothers do manage to tie up every loose end.

As we go from plot twist to plot twist we're kept busy by fast-paced, western-influenced dance numbers; some action scenes and a bit of light relief. The dance numbers are universally poor, both in terms of the songs and the choreography. Fans of Bipasha Basu will find no hit song to match "Beedi" here. And Katrina Kaif as the second hot chick is, as always, wooden and lacking in true dance ability. The action scenes are ambitious by Bollywood standards but car chases have been done better in movies like DHOOM. And overall, KRRISH had a more high-quality tech-package than RACE. Which brings us to the light relief. Johnny Lever - veteran comic actor of Indian cinema - is outstanding in his five-minute cameo. And Anil Kapoor is decent as the Columbo style cop. I even liked Sameera Reddy as his idiot side-kick.

Still, I can't help but thinking that RACE is a step back for Hindi cinema. All style but no substance and the abasement of actors better known for art-house work. In particular it's a shame to see Saif Ali Khan, who was so outstanding as the Iago character in the brilliant OMKARA, posing like a rapper. It's a shame to see Bipasha Basu, who also made a breakthrough as a serious actress in CORPORATE, take a step back to steamy love-scenes and being just a "body".

RACE is on release in India and the UAE.

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