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99
Director: Krishna DK, Raj Nidimoru
Producer: Aditya Shastri, Anupam Mittal
Starring: Kunal Khemu, Cyrus Broacha, Boman Irani, Mahesh Manjrekar, Soha Ali Khan,Vinod Khanna, Simone Singh
Music Dir: Shamir Tandon

Many weeks without movies quite hurts the Indian cinegoers as Bollywood still forms core of our entertainment appetite. Finally, after a harrowing gap comes a flick, only to dismay the audiences. The release of the movie titled '99' is significant in Bollywod as the industry is in the throes of a strike by big producers against the exhibitors, especially multiplexes.

At issue is the share of revenue between the two. So, it sounded like welcome relief also to movie buffs who could escape the scorching heat of the summer sun to take solace in cinema. Its been six weeks of a lull since the release of '8X10 Tasveer.' Early reactions to producer Anupam Mittal's much-awaited '99' starring Soha Ali Khan and Kunal Khemu sounds like a bit of disappointment. But, then, maybe it's too early to tell.

A first reaction for me was that 99 falls well short of worthwhile content for an eager audience. Perhaps, that's the problem. Never have we been so dry so long. The effort can be said to be praiseworthy, or, put it this way that the intention is right. Scattered plot and juxtaposed scenes just don't connect that well.

But, I might be marred by contextual, especially from Hollywood, structured filmmaking where one expects the movie flow from the beginning to the end. The significant scene is set in 1999 - so that's why the name - when match-fixing scandal reached its prosperity peak.

Justice Chandrachud Commission was to probe the alleged controversy. Unfortunately, the commission deliberated without conclusive evidence to point a finger at corruption by cricketers. Flash back to 1999; India needed six of the last over to win in one of the matches. Close-up - late Hansie Cronje. You wonder why Mohammed Azharuddin and Ajay Jadeja were targeted!

Let's get to the crux of the story. In the flick, two directors - Raj Nidimoru and Krishna DK - try to make sense. No understanding between the two, say batsmen, and we get a comedy of errors in trying to run each other out! One would give thumbs up for a good cast and experienced actors.

There's Boman Irani, a compulsive gambler and a firm believer in borrowing money with total disregard for consequences. Rest of the stars that shine includes Cyrus Broacha and Kunal Khemu - two friends who create duplicate sim cards.

Lady luck doesn't help and they run into Mahesh Manjrekar, a bookie, who uses them as collection agents! Leading the females is the beautiful and versatile Soha Ali Khan playing a lobby manager in a five star hotel in Delhi. And, Simone Singh plays Boman's love interest with the usual endearing performance. Veteran Vinod Khanna is the brain behind match fixing.

Some shots are okay, but the scenes aren't planned or executed well at all. Poor Amit Mistry is so wasted in lackluster scenes. One recollects Amit delivering a decent performance in 'Bad Luck Govind.' Cyrus Broacha of the famous MTV Bakra act is shown much as his confused standing on the TV shows. Kunal Khemu might have proved his credentials. Boman could impress the audience with his acting skill but the movie is devoid of content.

The movie seems to enjoy symptoms of not doing well. First, perhaps a lackadaisical approach in writing a proper script that conjugates the movie. Second, the lack of publicity that has kept the halls empty. Sometimes the saving grace for Bollywood movies is their songs and music.

But this one has hardly any scope because of it genre. Overall, the movie bags a 5 out of 10 to give credit for the release that broke the strike. It might still make the financial cut as the movie opened for public in all the major multiplexes and single screen theatres.


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