Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|I See You|
Actors: Michael Maloney, Chunkey Pandey, Sonali Kulkarni, Kirron Kher, Boman Irani
Director: Vivek Agrawal
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama
An enjoyable Bollywood remake of a Hollywood romantic-comedy
H. Bala | Carson - hey, we have an IKEA store! - CA USA | 07/18/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"With the booming industry of Bollywood churning out so many pictures annually, it's not too surprising that plots and premises soon go the copycat route. Hollywood movies are often plumbed for inspiration and, sometimes, are outright plagiarized. I SEE YOU, for example, is Bollywood's clear cut adaptation of the 2005 charmer, JUST LIKE HEAVEN, which starred Reese Witherspoon and Mark Ruffalo. As remakes go, this one's actually not shabby.
Raj Jaiswal (Arjun Rampal) is the star of the London-based Indian television talk show British Raj, and, brother, does he know it. Raj, obnoxiously a confirmed bachelor, has no qualms at all about hitting on his hot, spanking new co-host. And, if that's not enough of a clue, his flirtatious personality is then layed out in the opening credits/musical number as he strolls around the London streets making nice with all the pretty British birds out and about. For Raj, life doesn't suck.
However, he's thrown for a loop when he suddenly espies a beautiful young woman (Vipasha Agarwal, in her film debut) standing out on his balcony and looking forlorn. It soon becomes clear that something weird is going on as, apparently, only Raj can see, hear, and touch this woman, whose name is Shivani. Shivani seeks his help, claiming that she needs to be reunited with her corporeal form, which had been in a hospitalized coma for the past six months and is fast nearing death. But as Raj, who is slowly falling for Shivani, strives to help her, he learns that her life is in even graver peril from sinister forces within the hospital. And, then, of course, there's the Hindi-speaking British policeman who's snooping around.
This film's dvd cover, which features the beguiling Vipasha Agarwal, is what drew me to purchase I SEE YOU, and it wasn't 'til I popped the disc in that I learned of the JUST LIKE HEAVEN parallels. For comparison's sake between the two sets of leads, I'll mention that Ruffalo and Witherspoon had much better rapport, and leave it at that. Though somewhat leisurely paced, the film kept my attention, thanks to the romantic, lighthearted and somewhat supernatural premise, the appeal of Arjun and Vipasha, and some evocative camera work (which provides several moody shots perfectly capturing Shivani's sense of loneliness and isolation).
For me, the real find is Vipasha Agarwal. No two ways about it, she's a stunner. A model from Delhi and appearing in only her first picture, Vipasha exudes grace and a sweet-natured charisma as the displaced Shivani, who's having a really extended out-of-body experience. Whenever she was on screen, my eyes simply, simply wouldn't focus on anything else. And she certainly makes for an agreeable and very unspooky bhoot (meaning "ghost"; who says you can't learn Hindi from watching Bollywood?). Vipasha acquits herself well in her admittedly unchallenging role, and, certainly, I very much look forward to seeing her once more grace the cinema screen. Oh, and did I mention that she's a stunner? Okay.
Of all the movies I've seen starring Arjun Rampal, this might be the best I've seen - and liked - him in. Oh, there's still a touch of wood in his performance, but I was disposed to like him better here (as opposed to his crap turns in DIL HAI TUMHAARA, DIL KA RISHTA, and ASAMBHAV). I like that his character doesn't intantly do the 180 degree shuffle from womanizing opportunist to all-of-a-sudden selfless, romantic hero. In fact, when he concludes that Shivani is, in fact, real albeit spectral, one of the first things he thinks of is how he could turn this to his advantage. Accordingly, he promises to help Shivani if she, in exchange, would eavesdrop on cute girls (to see if he has a shot at 'em) and spy for him at card games. So, yeah, he's decent here, even if his chemistry with Vipasha seemed to be on the tenuous side. That he also co-produces this film (with his wife Mehr) may have inspired him to put out a better product in terms of his acting.
I didn't fancy the supporting cast too much. Chunky Pandey was well on his way to warming my heart as Raj's best friend, but he does something late in the film which ticked me off, so, in this review, I'm throwing him under the bus. Former VJ turned singer turned actress Sophie Chaudhary, as Raj's television co-host, and Sonali Kulkarni, as an overzealous husband beater, just don't do it for me. However, particularly fun is Michael Maloney, who plays the just-a-tad-overdramatic, Hindi-speaking British policeman, Inspector John Smith.
The humor comes and goes. How much you're engaged will depend on how appealing the leads are to you. There's a lot of scenes involving folks thinking Raj is crazy as he talks to empty air or makes odd gestures. There's quite a bit of Raj being startled as Shivani persists on popping up right in his grill. Definitely annoying are the scenes with the faux-hip psychiatrist. But, come to think of it, the humor isn't what draws me to this film. It's the screen presences of Vipasha and, to a lesser extent, Arjun.
There's a certain carefree and whimsical air in this film. In part, it's conveyed by the lighthearted screenplay and by the always gently smiling Vipasha and the jaunty Arjun. But the songs also have something to do with it. There are two which stand out for me. The first song "Subah Subah" is sprightly and breezy and even provides cameos of a guitar-strumming Shahrukh Khan and a striding, grinning Hrithik Roshan. "Kehna Hai Jo" is simply a feel good song which made me smile.
The special effects are very minimal, practically non-existent, which is odd for a ghost story; the film makes do by having the camera simply cutting away and then cutting back and, boom, Shivani's there or not there, depending. At a mere 2 hours and 4 minutes (Bollywood films are usually longer), I SEE YOU won't surprise you too much. Shivani's ghosthood is never really properly explained, but it doesn't really bother me. Her body's in a coma, her spirit roams about. I get it. The story does stay mostly on point. There's a bad guy and his comeuppance happens too abruptly and off screen. And I do wish the final scene had gone on longer. I SEE YOU, released theatrically on December 29, '06 (hmm, maybe the timing wasn't the best), was apparently panned and didn't fare too well in the Hindi theater. Hopefully, it does better in the dvd universe. I know I'm sold on the film.
For those who care, the disc includes a 10-minute-long featurette: "Arjun Rampal on I SEE YOU." And, finally, three and a half stars for this one, mostly on the likability of Vipasha Agarwal, who, by the end of this review, remains a stunner.
How a Director has stolen his story form a book
M. Levy | Etats-Unis | 08/31/2007
(1 out of 5 stars)
"Vivek Agrawal has completely stole the story from a book "If Only it where true" also republished under the name "Just like heaven" when it was made into a movie by Dreamworks. It's really amazing that not only he stole the story, dialogues of the books (even the name of the dog in the movie is the same than in the book) and still put his name in the credit as a writer ! Shame on him and the production who does such things. Making movies by stealing stories from others !"