Film Review: Blue

Blue

Directed by: Anthony D’Souza

Starring: Sanjay Dutt, Akshay Kumar, Lara Dutta, Zayed Khan, Rahul Dev, Katrina Kaif and Kylie Minogue

When they were naming the film Blue, I’m sure they debated whether to call the film Green, not only to reflect the characters in the film’s main motivation but also in anticipation of the Diwali box office bonanza and the kind of business the film is expected to do. Sadly, it seems they did not have a Dulux colour chart to hand otherwise there is another a colour this film was closer to…

Blue has a simple premise – Aarav (Kumar) and Sagar (Dutt) are two friends in the Bahamas who are opposite in every way – whilst Seth is mature, financially not well off and in a committed relationship with Mona (Dutta), Aarav is a cocky rich man who chases skirt and even tries to chat up Kylie Minogue. Sagar is a talented diver who knows the whereabouts of the mysterious Lady In Blue statue that is rumoured to be lost at sea – but refuses to divulge or even speak about it, despite Aarav’s taunts. Meanwhile, Sagar’s brother Sam (Khan) busy raising hell in Bangkok gets into bother and comes to the Bahamas, in dire need of money. Slowly, it becomes apparent that Sagar will need to retrieve the Lady In Blue to solve Sam’s financial crisis – and in the process, confront demons of his own…

So what to make of Blue? Firstly, the cinematography and action in this film are very good- the underwater scenes are beautifully shot, almost straying into National Geographic territory and it really is a unique premise to have ten-minute sequences with no dialogue but just a menacing music to build suspense and intrigue. Some of the stunts and underwater filming look and feel more like a Hollywood film than Bollywood and if the film rips off a couple of sequences from films like Dhoom and Race, it adds its own contribution to the genre with the underwater action.

Secondly, the soundtrack is amazing. Needless to say, A.R Rahman gets it right and how but the music from the songs to the background score are polished and add value to the film in such a subtle way you’d be forgiven if you missed it. I must admit, Chiggy Wiggy has really grown on me and the song played in the opening credits sounds like it could be the next James Bond theme song. So from a technical point of view, Blue is a very strong film.

However, it seems so much money and attention was lavished on the camera work and sets that the there is no script. Instead, what we are given is at best an expensive storyboard that needs a lot of development and much tighter direction before it can claim any finesse at all. Blue can’t decide what film it is – on the one hand it tries to be a thriller, before going into all action and then in a series of the most ridiculous twist and turns not seen since Race, the last 20 minutes will test the patience of even the most forgiving Bollywood fan (ie me!)

Anthony D’Souza’s direction lacks cohesion and whilst he clearly enjoys coordinating the action and underwater sequences (and it has to be said does it well – action done badly is simply unforgivable), when it comes to bringing drama and tension out of his actors, D’Souza seems more concerned with racing the story back to an underwater scene or putting in a motorbike chase. Characterisation seems to be a dirty word in Blue but sadly, this is exactly what it needs along with a proper scriptwriter.

The styling also merits mention in that there are 5 different stylists for the film all with varying degree of success. Lara looks ravishing in skimpy bikinis and sarongs and her look is slickly coordinated and demands attention as well as giving her what her role fails to give her. Sanjay and Zayed also look good in their respective casual and biker looks. However, whoever styled Akshay needs to be sacked as styling him along the lines of Chuck Bass from Gossip Girl is an unforgivable crime against fashion. Similarly, whoever chose Kylie’s wardrobe needs help as neither her dress nor make up do justice to the petite star. But worse still is Katrina Kaif’s look, which is an absolute disaster. It sounds impossible to make someone like Katrina look awful but if anyone wants to do so, Blue is their guide – the rats tails and diamond stud under her lip were simply dismal and only highlight her even worse cameo.

Performance wise, there is a big surprise. Sanjay Dutt is wasted and it is hard to believe that the man that gave us Vaastav, Gumrah and Munnabhai is given a shoddy role. Akshay tries hard to play clever but not in a good way and exhausts much of the goodwill he spent so long building up in his career. One Chandni Chowk To China is forgivable but now Akshay really needs to give a good performance or he may find himself out of the top five heroes faster than he entered it. Lara is issued with a role that is such a stock type, the only thing she has to do is look good, which she does but it would be really nice to see her challenged. Kylie also deserves a pat on the back for a spirited attempt at an item number – the choreography overwhelms her at times and standing in the same frame as Lara does not help but she still gives it some. Katrina is dreadful in her cameo but emerges unscathed since it really is a most insignificant part.

I never thought I would write the next sentence but here goes: the surprise package of Blue is actually Zayed Khan. He actually gives intensity when needed, adds depth and even in some scenes, out acts everyone else. Sadly it isn’t a consistent performance but what a surprise Zayed is not a lost cause. A few offbeat films may see Zayed outlive his current shelf life which is no bad thing. Rahul Dev is the other surprise, in that he is given a muddled role but he not only makes it cohesive but shows Akshay how it should be done – Rahul certainly has potential that has yet to be explored and he should continue in the same vein.

I really wanted to like Blue and before its release was championing the 2 hour running time of the film (after What’s Your Rashee, a prudent editor is what Dr Bollywood ordered). However, I felt the film could have easily have been trimmed down further and made shorter, especially the second half. When you want to see less of a film, you know something isn’t right. Furthermore, this may be a film which is not to be taken seriously which is fair enough but as Dhoom 2 and Ghajini showed, even a masala film needs to have some sense to it and some backbone for the audience to enjoy it properly.

Out of the three releases on Diwali weekend, Blue was the film I was most looking forward to and perhaps has disappointed me for that reason. Although the cinematography looks amazing on the big screen, unless you are a huge fan of one of the cast or really want a mindless film to trash, this film is maybe one to catch on DVD (the making of will probably be more interesting than the film!) or on television rather than the big screen. A film that will leave you feeling blue for all the wrong reasons….

(Previously posted on www.gorafied.com on 16th October 2009)

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