Planet Bollywood
Producer: Ayesha Shroff
Director: Kaizad Gustad
Starring: Amitabh Bachchan, Jackie Shroff, Javed Jaffri, Zeenat Aman, Gulshan Grover, Madhu Sapre, Padma Lakshmi, Katrina Kaif
Music: Talvin Singh and Sandeep Chowta
Genre: Thriller
Recommended Audience: Adult
Approximate Running Time: 130 mins
Film Released on: 19 September 2003
Reviewed by: Shashi Matta  - Rating: 1.0 / 10
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Public Rating Average: 5.11 / 10 (rated by 410 viewers)
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DUPE (verb): to deceive someone; (synonyms): cheat, trick, con, hoodwink, swindle.

First thing first. It is difficult to remember being this overwhelmingly cheated by any cinematic enterprise in the twenty-something years of my affair with the movies. BOOM is as shameless an exhibition of the sheer paucity of filmmaking ideas as it is of the brazen laundering of talent and filmmaking resources. Mr. Gustad, if you did have 18 crore rupees as pocket money from the Hindujas and their ilk, this is what you should have done (in no particular order, so you have some flexibility):

    Buy yourself insurance against insanity (which in your world you probably call creativity): Rs. 1 crore
    Donate Rs. 1 crore to the "Save Amitabh" fund (I will elaborate on this one later)
    Spend Rs. 16 crore to finance each of Nagesh Kukunoor’s and Aparna Sen’s next feature film (arguably the best works to emerge from Bollywood this year are Teen Deewarein and Mr. & Mrs. Iyer). Ms. Sen and Mr. Kukunoor would probably end up making two movies each with that kind of money. Oh what a treat that would indeed be!
    Buy yourself a DVD of Manoj Shyamalan’s Unbreakable and go right to the special features where the director shows clips from home movies he made when he was a teenager. Each of those 2-3 min clips is probably a far superior example of amateur filmmaking than your 130-minute mess of a second film. And no, I didn’t forget that you would have no money left from the 18 crores to buy this DVD. This will be a gift from me to you. Just ask.

Positioned as a ‘dark comedy’ that links Mumbai’s glitzy fashion world with Dubai’s menacing underworld, BOOM generated soaring expectations among the audience and perhaps even filmmakers in Mumbai’s cliché-ridden film industry. What I am most curious about, however, is Mr. Gustad’s expectations from this appalling venture. He surely must have had some grandiose illusions. Did he think he was India’s answer to Quentin Tarantino? Or that he was single-handedly creating a sexual revolution in Indian cinema? Or perhaps that he was showcasing Indian cinema in the international arena? Whatever it was that he was expecting, BOOM only propels his illusions towards an inevitable crash-landing.

Here’s the plot for those who are still interested in knowing the gory details. A powerful underworld operation smuggles diamonds across countries, abetted by fashion models. In a catwalk-turned-catfight between two models, 30 antique diamonds are spilled from a model’s hair during a fashion show, to be lapped up by all and sundry. While the model who spills them goes underground, the model whose fight unwittingly foiled the plan, Anu Gaikwad (a tired looking, over-her-prime Madhu Sapre), and her two fashion model roomates Sheila Bardez (saucy-looking but non-talented Padma Lakshmi) and Rina Kaif (debutante dumb-belle Katrina Kaif) get caught in the web of the dons who were supposed to get the diamonds. The dons have a well-established hierarchy: Chote Mia (coke snorting Jackie Shroff with a hideously obvious hair-weave and highly affected dialogue delivery) aka Abdul 50-50 manages the Mumbai operations, Medium Mia (Gulshan Grover in the most underdeveloped character in the film, not that it would have mattered anyway) is the operations manager and younger brother to the big boss in Dubai, and Bade Mia (silver haired, sexily-evil- looking but utterly wasted clad-in-white Amitabh Bachchan), the big boss, also in Dubai, is the most wanted criminal on his side of the planet. Somewhere in this dizzy concoction are Boom Shanker (crude-mannered, loud, and sometimes humorous Javed Jaffri) who is Chote Mia’s right-hand man in Mumbai, and Alice (the still stylish, still sexy forty-something Zeenat Aman who couldn’t have chosen a worse comeback vehicle) who is Bade Mia’s all-knowing secretary. After two foiled attempts to pay the dons for the lost diamonds (the details of which are supremely stupid), the three models and their maid (Seema Biswas who does have her moments) land in Dubai to outwit the dons at their own game. What ensues is what you certainly don’t want to know. The viewer comes out of the theater, numbed and amazed at being hoodwinked and so outrightly deceived by the filmmakers.

Performances wise, there is nothing noteworthy in this project. Javed Jaffri does try to infuse comic relief, one pelvic thrust at a time, with mixed results. Jackie Shroff and Gulshan Grover, both of who gave us such subtly nuanced performances in Teen Deewarein, disappoint. Zeenat Aman, whose introduction includes an impromptu gig on Bade Mia’s table to her famous Hare Krishna Hare Ram number, will have little else to remember from this project. The three leggy models provide nothing more than flesh on display, while Seema Biswas briefly basks in the glory of a role that could have been interesting. And oh yes, if you blink you will miss the much-hyped Bo Derek sequence which is nothing more than a few seconds of Mr. Gustad’s indulgence, and also minuscule cameos by Boman Irani and designer Rohit Bahl. And now, to Mr. Bachchan. Die-hard Bachchan fans like this writer and scores of others, should start a "Save / Preserve Amitabh" fund, to prevent him from associating himself with anything remotely similar to or as sub-standard as BOOM. I still hope with unfailing regularity, day after day, that this fantastic actor-star-cinematic treasure will work some of that famous Bachchan magic again and act in a film worthy of his stature.

Technically, the music contributes little, the cinematography fluctuates from creative to downright bad, and Anna Singh’s costumes are either garish or missing (save for the carefully planned wardrobe of Mr. Bachchan). So, is there nothing redeeming in this endeavor? Sure, it does start with some promise. The zappy introductions to each character raise expectations of a cat-and-mouse thriller, but we are disappointed soon after. Bachchan’s moments with his family, his fascination with comic books, and some of Javed Jaffri’s and Seema Biswas’ scenes do hold interest, if only fleetingly. What these stolen moments battle with are huge doses of profanity, cheap humor, a senseless screenplay, and extremely bad editing. There are numerous unnecessary and vulgar scenes in BOOM. If Mr. Gustad was trying to go bold or attempting a spoof, he fails miserably. All that he succeeds in is displaying the gall to make a motion picture as dreadful as this. Enough said.

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