Friday, June 03, 2011


Ready for the Big Time

With the box office smash Dabangg, expectations are high for Salman Khan's Ready, with news reports of sold out sessions across India that made me wonder why the fervour wasn't propagated to this part of the world at least in Sunny Singapore, with tickets still largely available in one of the biggest halls screening Hindi films. Ready was scheduled to be part of Screen Singapore which touted its world premiere with lead actress Asin in attendance, but that was not to be since it's actual premiere was a week earlier in Dubai instead. Whether or not Asin will make an appearance for the local event remains to be seen, but from what I experienced with Ready, perhaps it was a blessing in disguise.

I was all set and ready for Ready, only for Ready to disappoint badly, with a note to self that Anees Bazmee has yet to convince me of his directorial efforts, and a reinforcing point that Hindi comedies in general would work well for anyone who speaks the language, because the wordplay in its dialogue gets sorely lost in translation. So while most of the audience members in my screening were rip roaring with laughter, I was left bewildered for the most parts since the English subtitles failed to capture the essence of the dialogue's wit. Still that doesn't mean that I can't follow the plot nor enjoy the performances of the stars, but then again, what plot?

The story was all over the place, and was excellent only in sporadic moments. A remake of a Telugu film, Ready began brilliantly after a catchy opening credits song of Character Dheela which had Zarine Khan, Salman's co-star in Veer, sizzling the screen as the item girl. We get acquainted with Salman's Prem (very popular name for at least nine other Salman Khan roles in his filmography) Kapoor, a rascal of sorts who assists friends in their relationship needs, though he's not quite Hitch in dispensing with good advice. Ready throws up a slew of cameo appearances within the first 10 minutes with the likes of Akay Devgn, Sanjay Dutt and Kangana Ranaut amongst others, and just as you're lulled into thinking the film has enough surprises to keep you engaged, it's an unfortunate spiral all the way down from there, failing to build up from the kick ass introduction.

One thing I noticed about Hindi comedies, or at least the one that I managed to catch, are that they can't seem to steer clear of fake identities contributing to a major plot point, from Housefull all the way down to Ready, now with Asin's Sanjana Singh pretending to be Prem's bride to be in taming the rascal with her appeal to his family, but in fact turning out to be using an opportunity to escape from her own marriage to the mob. So a plot got hatched of course for some long winded rescue of the damsel in relationship distress and reconciliation between feuding mob families, as well as for Prem to romance Sanjana for real, and to show off in some set action pieces that once again proves to be Salman's forte in almost every character he tackles.

This is undoubtedly a Salman Khan one man vehicle, where his star power alone guarantees a large box office opening, with fans turning up in droves to catch and lap up everything he throws on screen, be it a swagger, an attitude, an inside joke or two from his previous films (such as the names of two minor characters adopted from his flops), and in essence having no fear to even parody himself. And a shirtless moment will never be absent too, though here it was played off in a jokey day dreaming sequence (which I have to admit it worked).

But what Salman Khan brought to the table with Ready, and I believe will begin a fad and a trend on the dance floor, are his moves in the song Dhinka Chika, which sort of aspired to be the equivalent of Dabangg's belt play, but here having the hands move a little below the belt into the pockets and groin area to well, play with the fabric covering the pelvic area, combined with pelvic thrusts and bum massages. Other than that, Salman was being purely Salman the major star, playing a character he can tackle with his eyes firmly closed, or in this case, firmly hidden behind shades.

Do The Dhinka Chika!

In her second collaboration with Salman Khan after London Dreams, I think Asin may probably want to relook into her choice of movie roles from Bollywood, having to make that breakthrough in Ghajini opposite Aamir Khan, but never quite finding that same stratospheric footing with roles that don't do her acting abilities much justice, other than to show that she doesn't have two left feet from the numerous musical numbers in Ready. Other supporting characters aren't worth a shout out, because they're fairly one dimensional caricatures in treatment, with the cast going through the motions.

I know as a crowd pleasing Masala film this had served its objective, but seriously, a proper storyline won't hurt would it, and to have the locales and backgrounds a little bit more consistent, rather than to rely on green screen that drew attention to itself for poorly rendered landscapes that made Ready look a little cheap. For Salman fans only, otherwise watch at your own peril as Ready doesn't even quite match up to a fraction of Dabangg. Amongst the films of the three Khans, I was slow on the pickup of Salman's, but this one unfortunately pushes my liking two steps backwards.

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