Saturday, November 24, 2007

Dhan Dhana Dhan...Red Card!

Dhan Dhana Dhan...Goal runs against the grain of most Bollywood movies you see. How so? The pattern so far has been shoddy writing and glossy execution. Most Indian films tend to disintegrate plot wise towards the end of the second third. Even the recent Om Shanti Om is victim to this pattern.

Goal, on the other hand, is pretty decently written. There are some honking flaws - a poorly constructed twist that is unfurled awkwardly in the end, and a nebulous resolution to a bravely posed issue of race are prominent - but take those away and the writing is passable, even solid. Unfortunately its the execution that lets Goal down badly.

The story is a contrived one: Southall has a really sorry soccer club that doesn't get any respect from anyone. The City wants to sell the land to a developer. If Southall - led by Shaan (Arshad Warsi) - can get their act together and win the "league", they get prize money which happens to be exactly the amount they need to get out of jail on the lease for the next 30 years! Adbhut!

Once this rather mindless premise is removed, Goal goes on to tackle some interesting issues - primarily among them is the question: how does a person define himself? Is it by way of race or is it by way of upbringing. This is mostly realized through Sunny Bhasin (played by John Abraham having more fun than I've seen him have in recent times), a talented striker with genuine pace, who finds himself playing for the team he abhors after being shunned by someone he had his hopes pinned on (and yes, he also loses a bet). Sunny's agenda is that he just wants to play ball and wants race to be a non-issue.

Goal is brave enough to tackle the issue of second generation immigrants. It gives us a muddled resolution but not ducking the hard questions at the risk of muddying a fairly straightforward movie is admirable. There are some beautifully written scenes - particularly one in which Sunny runs into his father at a convenience store.

In all of this, several multiplex dues are paid - that do the movie a disservice. A romance is cooked up between team physio Rumana (Bipasha Basu - looking radiantly useless in the flick) and Sunny that doesn't go anywhere. There is an item song (the magnificent Billo Rani) inserted so ludicrously in the movie that it elicits tons of chuckles.

The cinematography in Goal is extremely choppy. Goal doesn't have the luxury of closed sets - its shot entirely outdoors on location. This contributes to the uneven feel of the movie. But its also in the way shots are constructed and executed - they make the dialog sound trite and heavy handed. There's is even an amateurish problem with camera focus in the film - foreground characters often appear blurry than the centered background behind them.

Like set pieces in soccer, the scenes sometimes feel like they are shot independently and then stitched together to form a movie. This often gets bad enough to the point where beats that look like they were shot for a montage are inserted into a scene without any correlation.

Besides all its shortcomings, there were two things that really bothered me about Goal.

First, the role of the women - even by Bollywood standards as observed astutely by Beth - is minuscule. Given several minor scenes to coast through, Bips is then handled with confoundingly traditional expectations by director Vivek Agnihotri.

Second, in tackling important issues of race and identity, Goal ends up spinning a "me versus them" vibe that I found simplistic and short sighted. In trying to explain why the residents of Southall hold identity so dear, it creates a world in which unity is equated with segregation.



Anonymous said...


Where did I hear that before? Hm... from the mouth of Ravi Kisan! As soon as I heard Ravi Kisan say 'Adbhut', I felt like writing an email to you right way. Someone knows how to praise a performer by using word other than 'mind blowing'. ;)

And about the movie Goal. What a disappointment. If it was not for my two female friends, I would have walked out of the movie hall in the first hour of the movie. One friend loves John Abraham and his cute butt and other one is in love with Arshad Warsi. I have always wondered how can one sit through a horrible movie just to see an actor/actress.

Coming back to the movie, I think 'Chak De India' set a very high standard for a sports based movie and it is natural to compare Goal with it.

I think the biggest problem with Goal was that director did not spend time to build any character. Niether the coach [what a waste of Boman's talent] nor the players. Compare this to Chak De India, where we are introduced to the coach and all the team members. Who can forget the hard-hitting ludhiyanvi girl Komal OR punjab di puttar Kaur. Tell me name of one player in the movie Goal [other than John/Arshad] and I will give you a prize.

Chak De India showed that the hockey is team game where as in Goal, even though coach says it's a team game, they portray John as the savior for the team.

And what was that non-sensical plot about John's father? He used to be a support of South Hall and then he gets beaten trying to save Boman and then he decides to not only stop watching the game but hates that his son plays the game. Really? How did anyone approve of this part of the story is beyond me.

And what's up with Bipasha's character? I have yet to see a girl who falls all over the guy like her character in the movie. Either that or I am idiot to not live in UK where apparently desi girls behave like this. ;)

Bottom line:
Download the video of BilloRani song. Those are the only watchable 4 minutes in the entire movie.


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Anonymous said...

Saw the movie and applaud this review. My two cents:

1) LOVED the South Asian unity theme...namely, a montage of Indian, Bangladeshi and Pakistani or Muslim characters getting along without the "jaat-paat-dharam" issues coming up.

2) I was not fully comfortable with the ending. Why not promote a non-racist, bicultural, integrated existence for desis?? For example, I would have loved to see a White guy or a part desi-part White guy on the Southhall team. However, this is not meant to minimize the racist experiences of the "Asians" in UK.

Overall, I thought it was paisa vasool. Bips looked cute (that was all her character had to do) and John impressed me with his actual soccer skills.

Anonymous said...

Also, now that Bollywood has produced films on cricket, hockey and football/soccer, here are two suggestions for future directors (You can say you heard it on Drift first.)
1) The magnum opus on "kabaddi."
2) The multi-starrer on "gulli-danda."

Anonymous said...


I like the idea of making movie on Kabbadi. Even better, movie on kabaddi match between guys and gals and yes it should be a B grade movie so that director has all the 'creative freedom' he would need for such project! Any sponsors out there?

Unknown said...

Gulzar's daughter once did a movie called Hu Tu Tu. Not having seen it, I'm not sure how much of it is in there.

But kabaddi sounds like a fun new movie. The local nukkad is about to get run over by the Delhi Municipality as part of their clean up program. The nukkadites play kabaddi in the nukkad square - and if you took that away they'd lose their identity. So they form a kabaddi team. Only they have no league to play in.

So all the nukkads of Delhi unite and form a league. Unfortunately they don't have anyone to donate prize money. So they track down a nukkad wasi who has made it big and ask him for money. He donates it and we have a league.

However, only one nukkad will go home happy.

This would star Himesh - who would be toned enough to appear in a chhadi-banyan for the games.

I would pay half a month's salary to see this.

Anonymous said...

Mind blowing script Aspi.

Please write the screenplay, I am ready to become director, let's find a producer!

Parveen Sibal said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Parveen Sibal said...

Great Idea of the Kabbadi movie : I would also pay half my salary if one team has Rakhi Sawant and the other Ms Sehrawat representing each team and music has to be by Bling Bling , who will also do a free guest appearence as a sumo.

On another note , Saw Bling Bling as a guest Judge at Lage Raho Comedy Circus , where he sang to his max on any and every opportunity , on top of it he gave a really pathetic PJ ( P for pediatric ).

Love this site !!!!!

11/24/2007 10:22 PM

Deepu said...

Seems the British Army takes its cues from the Drift:

On another note, is the music of 'High School Muscial 2' by Shankar-Eshaan-Loy (special appearance by Raja Hasan) any good?

Anonymous said...

Aspi, I loved the Kabbadi script! Hell, I would pay my whole damn salary to watch that movie come to life!! ROFL!! Although, the Image of Himanshu in a Chaddi-Banyan will haunt me forever!! UGHH!!

Anonymous said...

And saying Kabbadi-Kabbadi-Kabbadi in a nasal croon.

Unknown said...

Perhaps Rakhi Sawant should be cast opposite Himesh. Initially they would be on rival teams but the nukkad ka captain would notice that Himesh was only too eager to get caught by Rakhi and vice versa.

Love and hilarity would ensue. Too bad Yunus Parvez isn't with us anymore - he would have kicked ass in this movie.

Unknown said...

Almost forgot: Deepu, to answer your question, High School Musical has two CDs. One seems to be original compositions by SEL and the other sounds like adaptations of the existing soundtrack. The second one - although it sounds strange - is better than the first.

Both are worth passing up on. After listening to it I had a nightmare about Rishi Kapoor doing one of his college kid roles in his 30s.