There is No Magic in This Fantasy Tale
By MovieTalkies.com, 30 October 2009
On an intention level, director Sujoy Ghosh's idea of modernizing the popular fairy tale of Aladin and his Magic Lamp is great. But on an execution level, as a modern day fantasy, the film mostly fails to work. It is hardly likely to appeal to either children or adults. Firstly, the director fails to create any sense of awe or work any kind of magic with either the character of the Genie or the Ringmaster. Aladin works in fits and starts but that is hardly good enough for a movie, which comes with such a lot of promise.
Also, there seems to be a lot of obscurity about what the director wants to say. The whole mystery shrouding the magic lamp, the enemity between the Genie and Ring Master are never quite clear enough. The director leaves all the explanations for a little too late in the day and even then matters are not crystal clear and to top it, he brings in some mumbo jumbo about a comet, and the magical powers it can bestow on anyone who can catch its shadow. For any fairy tale to work, the two opposing forces of good and evil have to be very clearly demarcated. Unfortunately, here the two forces if Good and Evil are not laid out strongly enough. Firstly, Sanjay Dutt's Ringmaster is hardly menacing with his weird band of warriors. Also, while it is Amitabh Bachchan's charisma which really is the saving grace of the movie, it is never clear when he becomes the messiah of the good.
Ghosh would have served his film better if he had managed to keep things a little simpler. In his enthusiasm to turn the film into a modern day fantasy tale, he gets a little too carried away and tries to do too much and bungles up in a big way. The actual story of Aladin is very simple but the take home from Ghosh's fantasy tale is a little difficult to digest.
The story opens with Aladin Chatterjee (Ritiesh Deshmukh), an orphaned kid who is bullied mercilessly by his schoolmates because of his name and is made to rub innumerable lamps to make the genie appear. Anyway, this Aladin grows up and falls in love with Jasmine (Jacqueline Fernandes) but is unable to tell her about his love. Unwittingly, she presents him with a lamp, this one finally turns out to be a magic lamp and the genie, who calls himself Genius (Amitabh Bachchan) appears and wants to grant Aladin his three wishes. It is with the help of the genie that Aladin manages to win Jasmine's heart and beat the Ring Master (Sanjay Dutt). Genius tells Aladin that he is the chosen one to look after the lamp and also about his parents who died so many years ago in their bid to find the lamp. There is a flashback which shows how Aladin's parents perished in a landslide during their encounter with the Ring Master after they had found the magic lamp. Of course, Ghose again leaves us confused as to why Aladin was the chosen one to get the lamp. Anyway, the film ends happily, like most fantasies. The Ring Master is destroyed and Aladin, Jasmine and the Genie live happily together.
The story and screenplay of the film suffer as the plot itself is shrouded in a lot of mystery. Too many loopholes which should have been plugged. But to come back to the second area of the movie, the special effects, which have been much talked about by the director in the media, well, let's just say, that the effects weren't exactly exciting and hence didn't do much to help create a fantasy world.
One would only watch this film for Amitabh Bachchan. The man is a powerhouse of talent and despite those hideous wigs and gaudy costumes that he is made to wear, he is a treat to watch in this movie. He literally rises above the script and stands tall with his performance. It's definitely not his best, but where this film is concerned, the Big B stands like a colossal. The man has a certain charisma and he plays up to it full hilt as there is very little in the way of script and dialogues to help him. The rest of the cast seems to just shrivel up in front of him.
Ritesh is perfectly cast as Aladin, as he fits perfectly into the role of Aladin Chatterjee, who is bullied by one and all. Again, getting little support from the script department, the actor makes best use of his hang dog expression to play Aladin. Jacqueline Fernandes is a treat to watch as she has a certain freshness about her which is quite appealing.
Sanjay Dutt is well cast as the villain, but unfortunately, his role has not been well fleshed out, and his portrayal of the dreaded Ring Master lacks fire. It is quite a tame performance from the actor, but he is hardly to be blamed for it.
Bringing up the rest of the cast are Ratna Pathak Shah and Sahil Khan, who are just about ok. Victor Banerjee makes a guest appearance as Aladin's grandfather and manages too makes an impact even in those few second that he is on screen.
The music department is well handled by Vishal Shekhar, who do a very good job. All the numbers are well composed and fit the sequences well. They may not exactly be chartbusters, but they are definitely very enjoyable.
Ghosh's intentions were great but somehow he is unable to execute his ideas satisfactorily. He leaves too many questions unanswered and somehow misses out on most of the dramatic punctuations in his story. There is really nothing magical about this fantasy tale.