Star Cast: Ehan Bhat, Edilsy Vargas, Tenzin Dalha, Lisa Ray, Warina Hossain
Director: Vishwesh Krishnamoorthy
What’s Good: Actors try to be the saving grace, but that doesn’t stay for long
What’s Bad: It took me a whole day to convince myself to get up and review this! Nope, that’s not something bad about the film; it just says a lot about how bad it’s though
Loo Break: Every song which is not Jwalamukhi or O Aashiqa is a loo break, and a lot of sequences in the second half
Watch or Not?: Not even for AR Rahman!
Jay (Ehan Bhat) is a college-level musician who works for his event-manager super-rich girlfriend Sophie (Edilsy Vargas). He loves her so much he even composes a song titled on her name (such novelty, much wow moment in the first 15 minutes). Sophie, who cannot speak, asks Jay to meet her father (Ranjit Barot, who looks astoundingly similar to Ram Kapoor).
Everything goes well initially, but then the father disagrees and asks Jay to compose 100 songs before asking for her daughter. Furious Jay takes the advice of his stoner friend Polo (Tenzin Dalha) and moves to Shillong to accomplish his to-be-father-in-law’s challenge. But, there, he meets a seductress in Sheela (Lisa Ray), who is fondly known as ‘The Jazz Queen Of Shillong’. Things go downhill after there, and how south do they go? You don’t need to watch to know that because it crosses the heights of lameness (more on this below).
Bonus material: Why the film is called 99 Songs?
Because Gareeb hero ameer heroine se pyaar karta hai. But how can ameer baap agree? So ameer baap says, oh, you want to be a musician? How will you earn? You want my daughter? Go compose 100 songs and come back. (Yes, there’s an explanation why one less song, but you’d be long gone by the time story tries to explain that.)
99 Songs Movie Review: Script Analysis
Talking about the height of going lame, AR Rahman’s penned story has a Chief Minister who undergoes ‘mann-parivartan’ after listening to a viral song (whose unidentified artist is our hero). The ‘enlightenment’ provokes Mr. CM to expose the scams of his fellow ministers. News channels across the world broadcast this viral song with a reporter saying, “duniya bhar mein badlaav aa raha hai” (the world is changing) because of this one track. It’s okay to keep certain aspects larger-than-life, but there’s a fragile line you could cross, making things preposterous, and Rahman’s story constantly shatters those lines.
Vishwesh Krishnamoorthy’s palatial screenplay just doesn’t compliment the aura of the story. In fact, one could feel how the screenplay could’ve actually fitted better with a polished narrative. What should’ve been the essence of the film, sub-plot of “hero’s father hating music”, is left as ambiguous as it can get. It emphasised more on the ‘dramatic manipulation’ over emotional connect with the characters & hence you just don’t feel bad for whatever is happening. You’re never prepared for the chaos that’s coming ahead, and thus, it exits without leaving any impact.
Tanay Satam & James Cowley’s camerawork is astoundingly good but falters due to poor lighting choices. To reflect the serious mood, shades get too dark to process with the already helter-skelter storyline. Akshay Mehta & Shreyas Beltangdy’s editing retains too much of unwanted stuff to deal with. You could’ve made the same sense without including a lot of useless clutter plots.
99 Songs Movie Review: Star Performance
Ehan Bhat is as earnest as someone can get while participating in a train wreck. His voice suits the charm he exudes for his character, but he deserved a better first film. Edilsy Vargas doesn’t get much scope as her character majorly uses her eyes to express her emotions, and that’s a tough one to crack so soon.
Tenzin Dalha gets an interesting character arc, and he proves to be worthy of justifying it wholly. With his natural touch, he manages to make you feel for his character. Lisa Ray glams up the screen for a while, and that’s about it. Warina Hussain’s came screams pure ‘elegance’ as she looks breathtakingly beautiful.
99 Songs Movie Review: Direction, Music
The two weak points of this film being
Vishwesh Krishnamoorthy’s direction and AR Rahman’s story are intertwined with each other. Just to give some benefit of the doubt to the legendary composer, I tried to look at the mess from a different angle. What if Rahman’s story was actually not-this-bad on paper, but the treatment (especially the fascinating screenplay) ruined it? What if this was treated with a straightforward attempt? Would it have been a better movie? But, all that really doesn’t matter now as we’ve to evaluate what we ultimately have, which is a substandard product.
This was AR Rahman’s own film, and hence the stakes were higher than usual. Unfortunately, what was considered as the USP of the film, its music too, falls flat like everything else. Apart from Jwalamukhi & O Aashiqa, none of the other dozen songs clicks. Even the inconsistent background score gets too overwhelming and too good at times. Yes, even getting ‘too good’ is an issue because it just doesn’t back the mediocrity happening.
99 Songs Movie Review: The Last Word
All said and done, 99 Songs is a melodious misfire from a legendary composer. I’ll be equally excited if AR Rahman decides to pen another film, but this just isn’t it.
99 Songs Trailer
99 Songs releases on 16th April, 2021.
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