Directed by: Aziz Mirza
Starring: Shahid Kapur, Vidya Balan, Juhi Chawala, Om Puri, Himani Shivpuri and Boman Puri
Have you ever had that feeling when you see a really good film that sustains you for a week and makes you so excited that you rush out as soon as the next big release comes, to try and capture that high again? That was the mindset in which I went to see Kismat Connection, and to add to this, I was watching the film at the Himalaya Palace cinema in Southall, a place I’ve walked by so many times but have never been inside so quite frankly,my excitement levels were in ascent.
Ok, so this is not a cinema review but had to say this was a pretty authentic Bollywood experience. People yammering away on their mobiles, the film not starting on time, the sound levels turning up to ear busting levels and bum numbing seats and the idiot in front of us applauding at the wrong moment and continually putting his hands on his head (thanks mate, it was nice of you to do that in key scenes of the phillum).
Anyway, i digress. I was excited about this film, after all Aziz Mirza had given us Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani which is my favourite Shah Rukh -Juhi Chawala movie (seriously, I even prefer it to Duplicate), this is Shahid’s follow up to the wonderful Jab We Met and Vidya’s to her Heyy Babyy and Bhool Bhulaiya – so no pressure at all. Add to this all that has been made of the Shahid-Vidya on screen off screen chemistry, a bitching soundtrack (which we have been learning a routine to in dance classes) and good promos, and you see why this film has garnered so much curiosity.
Kismat Connection is about Raj (Kapur), a single architect who lives in Toronto and is very unlucky. Frustrated at being unable to find a job since leaving university (many a graduate will identify with this!), on the way to an important meeting, Raj’s car almost collides with Priya’s (Balan) and Raj gets into an argument with her, preventing him from parking his car and results in his parking spot being taken by someone else. As the pair argue, a nearby painter spills paint all over the car that has taken Raj’s parking spot. But Rj is oblivious to this and continues arguing with Priya, asking her to stay out of his way. However, Raj and Priya keep bumping into each other and each time, Priya’s presence causes the unlucky Raj to suddenly become lucky. Flummoxed, Raj consults Haseena Banu Jaan (Chawala), a loopy fortune teller who advises him to the key to improving his kismet is to keep Priya near to him. However, Raj cannot stand Priya but needs luck, hence the kismet connection…
As we have seen before, taking an old story and repackaging it is a familiar story to audiences -the challenge for the filmmaker is to give a fresh perspective and engage the audience on every level so that they connect (no pun intended) to the film. Sadly, Kismat Connection fails to do this. The main culprit here is the screenplay, which is not as tight and cohesive as it should be. In essence, Kismat Connection is a very good concept and could even work as a Hollywood film but just as the film delves into a dark moment or takes an unexpected turn, it quickly reverts back to cliche or glosses over the moment, leaving little food for thought. For instance, Raj’s frustrations at being unable to find a job and losing out to a college rival are well articulated but then comedy or coincidence are used straight after lest the viewer start thinking. Similarly, the question of placing ambition over love is raised at the end of the film but not answered. It is a shame as had Kismat Connection delved into this darker side it had, it would still have been interesting and entertaining and would have raised the film above the norm. Also, themes of self belief and staying true to oneself are brought up as an after thought when they really should have been the main focus of the story.
This is not to say Kismat Connection is a terrible film. Firstly, the technical side of the film is very good, with crisp edits, nice cinematography and a wonderful use of colour and motif throughout the film. Note the signature shot of the film, with the characters in the foreground and the background simply blurred multi coloured lights blurred against a dark background. The film looks glossy and fresh throughout and shows Toronto off nicely. Secondly, the songs are quite good too, and are nicely filmed though saving my favourite song (Move Your Body Now) for the credits and adding a few too many songs in the second half does not help the film’s cause. Also, the wardrobe of the film must be noted -whilst Shahid looks trendy in his get ups, poor Vidya is aged up in a rather dull wardrobe which mutes her performance and the difference is quite apparent and sometimes spoils a nice on-screen chemistry between the two.
In terms of performances, Shahid Kapur puts in a good effort as Raj, though one cannot help feel that he has been given a role that is tailor made for Shah Rukh Khan (who incidentally provides a voiceover at the start of the film) and as such, is not given the opportunity to make the role his own, something which he does well normally and is one reason why he is so popular. Similarly, VIdya Balan is cast to type, as the engaged young girl with a conscience who looks after old people and fights to save their home from greedy developers (Lage Raho Munnabhai anybody?). Her role also does not play to her strengths either and seems more suited to Rani Mukerji, with whom Mirza made his last film Chalte Chalte (maybe Mirza wanted to make the film with SRK-Rani?). Om Puri is not given a chance to excel and Boman Irani is also wasted in a cameo. Juhi Chawala is good as Haseeno Banu Jaan, having fun with the role and sharing a good chemistry with Shahid. But again, she is criminally wasted and really does deserve a role with more substance. People often forget it was Juhi who took care of the heroine number one slot whilst Madhuri Dixit took over from Sridevi and seeing her on screen, one hopes film makers will utilise this under rated actress more. The surprise package is Himani Shivpuri, as Om Puri’s overbearing wife. Normally cast in mother/bitchy aunt roles, this role sees her taking a risk and it paying off, providing some wonderful comic relief in the film.
So does Kismat Connection connect? In some ways it does. The film does have some nice light moments, Shahid does have good comic timing and despite its logical flaws (speaking fluent Hindi and Punjabi to Canadian Nationals who not only understand nuances and puns in the languages but are able to reply with aplomb) it does entertain. But Kismat Connection does leave one feeling disappointed that the film did not fulfill its potential to the max, despite having everything it needed to do so, and whilst Shahid-Vidya fans will enjoy the film, others may wish to wait for the DVD of this one or be in the mood for a gentle time pass film.
With strong competition from Jaane Tu…Ya Jaane Na which is doing amazing business and with Mission Istanbul and Singh is King on the horizon, Kismat Connection faces tough competition at the box office and may need more than a kismat connection to stay afloat.