Planet Bollywood
Ab Ke Baras
Producer: Inderjeet Films Combined
Director: Raj Kanwar
Starring: Arya Babbar, Amrita Rao, Ashutosh Rana, Danny Denzongapa, Shakti Kapoor
Music: Anu Maliik
Lyrics: Sameer
Genre: Romantic
Recommended Audience: General
Approximate Running Time: 3 hrs
Film Released on: 10 May 2002
Reviewed by: Rakesh Budhu  - Rating: 5.0 / 10
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Public Rating Average: 5.1 / 10 (rated by 411 viewers)
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Bollywood is insanely plagued with projects that could-have-been. Projects that turn out to be flaky with aspiration, the ones that had such potential. Such potential. Eight out of ten of them are newcomer films and the latest to join the gang is Raj Kanwar’s Ab Ke Baras a low-key film about rebirth.

Raj Kanwar is probably not considered as Bollywood’s greatest directors, or one of them, but the director has made a few enjoyable masaledar films. Rip offs they may be, Judaai and Har Dil Jo Pyaar Karega were box office hits, which contributed to the name he holds. Unlike his previous films, Ab Ke Baras lacked any hype, had few promotions and for the fact that introduced Raj Babbar’s son, Arya Babbar, its somewhat of a disappointment. Especially since Anu Maliik’s music had good potential. Ab Ke Baras now seems like it will just end up being another one of the many routine Bollywood flops that we’ve seen this year. It can safely be branded a big disappointment for viewers like myself who gave Kanwar too much credit and were somewhat enticed by the few stylish trailers that aired on television.

The story goes as follows. You should primarily be prepared for the first Shaheed Bhagat Singh film, but it’s just a part of his story. Certainly not the in depth dramas we expect to see this summer.

Anjali (Amrita Rao) is a young somewhat free girl. When time rolls around for her engagement which coincides with her birthday she starts to lose it, having flashbacks et al. The causes for her displacement are voices, dreams, a transport through a time passed. The voice tells her that its time she returned to her lover, her original lover. Currently overseas, Anjali travels to India to find the one she has been told about. There she bumps into Karan (Arya Babbar) who will further help her find her true love even though he logically (like the audience) sees the stupidity in her search.

They embark on their journey learning more and more about each other and their pasts until the big surprise happens. It’s Karan that Anjali has been searching for. But was it Anjali that Karan was looking for? Maybe they were looking for each other? It was the voices, it was definitely the voices. How else do two past lovers meet, fight with each other, play with each other etc? So many questions, so little time. Before we can ask any questions, the lovers are transported to their original birth.

It’s India, the past, Nandini (Amrita Rao, again) and Abhay (Arya Babbar, again)- A.K.A. Shaheed Abhay Singh, that happens later, and their struggling against the all mighty British Empire (get used to the Brits fans, you’ll be seeing more of them after Lagaan). There they meet Tejeshwar Singhal (Ashutosh Rana), the only character who somehow remains through each of the dream sequences. He is their opposition, the traitor who supports the British. There they encounter more trouble, more opposition and several more twists and turns.

Ab Ke Baras is a visually pleasant film. The cinematography by Ishwir Bidri is just excellent! The film scores most of its points in the fact that the dream sequences have been handled with a lot of panache and the periodic scene is also visually pleasant. The action sequences are also very well coordinated. The hit song, “Aaya Mahi” is excellently picturized. Anu Maliik doesn’t lend the film his greatest of efforts musically, but in comparison to his recent soundtracks, well, this one is really good! The title track is pleasant though appears clichéd in the film. Oh wait- so does the rest of the film!

Now that I’ve listed the positive, or semi-positive things about this newcomer film, the longer list consists of the negatives. The film seems like a refreshing change but is just a big bag of rehashed silliness. This is not necessarily due to the fact that the film is dealing with reincarnation. It’s happened a lot in Bollywood, but Kanwar and writers Robin Bhatt and Sutanu Gupta had enough of a plot to implement refreshing changes to the story and more importantly its occurrences. The negative characters, in the form of Ashutosh Rana, Danny Denzongapa and Shakti Kapoor are pointless and sideline the film unnecessarily. More so, the script falls apart with the interspersing of these characters and making the reincarnation theme work with them. Folks, it doesn’t happen.

Shakti Kapoor is extremely annoying. Ashutosh Rana does his role some justice. The other actors don’t really deserve mention.

I’ll say it for the hundredth time; the newcomers do a decent job. It’s annoying though. The wasted talents of the industry who choose to be introduced in aspiring hit films. Arya Babbar performs with extreme confidence as a newcomer. His looks, dancing talents and dialogue delivery are impressive. Amrita Rao comes out the real winner, with her dancing skills, innocent looks and decent acting skills.

For Amrita, I will give the benefit of the doubt as she has Tips Films Legend of Bhagat Singh in her kitty, which should exhibit her talent in a notable film. But for newcomers like Arya, Rahul Bhatt etc., one should exhibit more care in choosing films. It’s all about the films, and not about the hits. Company may not be doing extraordinary business but Vivek Oberoi is the new star in tinsel town.

It appears to be more than just reincarnating to get back revenge, but ends up being much, much, like the same old story. The typical ending doesn’t help it either. It’s just another bag of clichés. Which comes as a bigger disappointment because of the fact that this would probably be the most different film on a same subject. It’s just a different-same film. Wow, that’s an oxymoron! Forget the oxy part, a viewer ends up feeling moronic for actually giving the film a chance.

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