Dir. Roshan Abbas. India. 2011.

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Roshan Abbas makes his debut as director with this film produced by Shah Rukh Khan’s Red Chillies production. The film stars fresh talent and is set basically in a school, picking out four of it’s students to talk about their lives and loves during a one year period. The film plays like a musical with peppy hummable songs interspersing  the drama that ensues in their young lives. The story is simple. Tariq Naqvi (Satyajeet Dubey) is the geeky intelligent nerd expected to follow in the footsteps of his father and grandfather by getting an admission into the prestigious M.I.T. Nandini (Zoa Morani), his childhood friend, is rebellious and antagonistic towards everyone in an attempt to hide the pain caused by her parents’ neglect of her emotional needs. Tariq’s best friend Sameer (Ali Fazal) is the cool dude without a care who falls in love with the newest babe in school, a wannabe model/heroine Aishwariya Dhawan (Giselli Monteiro). But former small-time actress mom (Navneet Nishan) sees red over the match as she has bigger ambitions for her beautiful daughter. The drama that ensues revolves around the teens’ issues with their parents, teachers and peers.  A brief run-in with the police at a nightclub causes great heart burn for Sameer and threatens his relationship with Aish.

The story is kitschy alright and typically bollywoodian in narrative flourish. The out-of sync moments are covered-up by copious drama and tragic twists. The narrative pace is kept engaging. The script may not be high-stakes but it manages to involve all the common lingo and conflicts that peppers the young lives. It’s quite a simplistic take but there’s entertainment to be had in good measure.  Satyajeet  Dubey and Ali Fazal  are lively, energetic and immensely likeable. Zoa Morani gives a patchy performance – she is quite good as the rebel without pause but when it comes to exhibiting deep emotion she flounders big-time. Giselli Monteiro looks a doll but she is no actress-in-the making. The stalwarts - Lillette Dubey as Mrs Das, the English teacher, Vijay Raaz as the chemistry teacher, Akash Khurana as the prinicipal, Ashwin Thakkar as the Shakespeare scholar, Navneet Nishan as the mother who has big-time celluloid dreams for her daughter and Satish Shah as the sleazy name-changing star-maker, put in entertaining cameos. Roshan Abbas appears to have got the Bollywood masala mix half-way right. The result is simple unchallenging time-pass!

Rating:   * *  

Johnson Thomas

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