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Drona the Drone

06 Oct
My other outfit has sparklies on it!

My other outfit has sparklies on it!

Meet Sad Sack. He looks like Abhishek Bachchan but nobody loves him. He thinks this is bad until one day he goes to some hokey magic show hosted by a low-rent Mephistopheles and every single person he’s ever met in his life suddenly jumps out at him (nuns! chefs! the mob!), trying to save his life, while yellow-suited maniacs blow poison darts at him. Next thing the poor fellow knows, he’s in some kind of serial-killer lair, studying recon photos of himself, while a garage full of crazed auto-mechanics stage the Bollywood version of Stomp on the floor above.

This can’t be good, he thinks.

Well, the good news is: he’s Cinderella and Prince Charming all wrapped into one. The bad news is: that downmarket Mephistopheles wants to squeeze him like an overripe orange.

And so we set out on our tour of a fantasy landscape decorated by what looks to be a frenzied 12 year old girl left alone in an arts and crafts store with an unlimited supply of Stick Em Stones and funky shades of acrylic paint, following a plot that’s equal parts Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings, with a generous dollop of Bolly-conventions (uske paas Maa hai!) and a pretty garnish of manga. That it doesn’t all come together like a delicious Bolly-goulash is something that should make every single person connected to this film hang their heads in shame.

***

I wasn’t really expecting much from Drona. I expected hackery. I thought I’d laugh. I did both those things. What I didn’t expect, was for it to have all the ingredients to be so much more. If I were judging this movie based on vision, I’d recommend it to anybody and everybody. As it stands, however, I’d hesitate taking children to it because there’s nothing worse than a bored little kid in a theater, pumped full of candy and caffeine.

Which is a shame because this is a movie about children. The three main characters – Drona, Riz Raizada and Sonia – are all psychologically stunted little kids, desperately trying to function as adults and pretty much sucking at it hardcore.

There’s Drona, the little boy lost, who keeps trying to reach out and connect to the world but the only thing that even comes close to him are a series of blue rose petals. He’s so shielded from life (or else he’s never so much as seen an episode of Tom and Jerry), he doesn’t know that bad guys don’t play by the rules. Nor does he care about the bigger picture, given he’s never had any picture thus far.

Riz Raizada is perhaps the most interesting character in this movie primarily because he’s smart, doesn’t waste time striking thoughtful attitudes while the world merrily burns down about his ears, and understands he is who he is, which is basically that animal-murdering seven-year-old from Australia. Remember that thing you say to little kids who keep pestering you for things –  “Want must be your master”? Well, Riz is the kid whose nanny never said it enough. He’s also a mean puppetmaster, kidnaps Rajasthani munchkins in spite of their Goth guards, and can carry out a plan to its fruition which is more than can be said for the rest of the people in this movie who’re all pretty much brick stupid. Boy, it’s a good thing they’re all so Good because it’s the only thing they’ve got going for them.

Except for Sonia who is pretty great on the surface but once had this weird dad whose parenting skills were apparently so awesome, she now pathologically craves approval. Every time she brings him up, she says “My father told me just one thing” and then tells us a completely new thing, by which we can be pretty certain that the one thing he never did teach her was Math. When Drona tries to be nice to her (and, incidentally, make up for being a total dick whose idiocy got her knifed in the kidney), she’s so crestfallen that nothing short of a sexually charged Moment will cheer her up. And her delight in being handed the shiny purple conch is ludicrous – she, like, matters y’all!

Given that Drona’s “superpowers” are basically what we know as “Bollywood hero powers” i.e. what Amitabh Bachchan did in every single action movie of his (kickass animals! the strength of a dozen men! seething emotions! sudden and advanced fighting skills with ancient weaponry!), you’d think the above characters would pretty much arrange themselves into a plot and act it out.

Instead, all the best (and darker) bits of the story take part in the animated bits while Drona and Sonia glumly trudge around the screen, a humorless duo out Saving the World and it’s all so boring, you wonder why they bother. In fact, I’m bored just remembering it long enough to write this post.

The best thing about Drona is that it turns Jaya Bachchan into stone. Literally. I might have forgiven them everything if Drona had carted her off and placed her in his garden, but they didn’t. Which is why Riz Raizada (and the wonderful Kay Kay Menon who actually pulled off the faux-hawk and the satin capes) gets a thumbs up from me. He’s the only one in this benighted movie with a sense of humor. And what did he get for his pains? A big sword in his belly.

Meh.

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10 Comments

Posted by on October 6, 2008 in Entertainment, Movies, Review

 

10 responses to “Drona the Drone

  1. Orange Jammies

    October 6, 2008 at 3:51 pm

    And I thought my dad was the only surviving human being who knew who Sad Sack is.
    Thanks for the fabulous review. I owe you 250 bucks. (err, not greenbacks, thankfully. whew!)

     
  2. Chevalier

    October 6, 2008 at 4:20 pm

    Great review…..I wish you’d talked about (A) how slowly the story seemed to progress, and why everyone was TELLING me stuff instead of SHOWING me the story in the first half, (B) that Drona doesnt really do anything to be drona – he just IS. Which is contrary to the whole ‘hero’ myth where the hero actually has to work damn hard at growing into the hero role, not just swim across a make-believe underwater pond. (C) his ‘life-long protectors’ all just die in a few seconds; Babuji wasn’t too smart about picking the right folks to protect the Drone. and yes, can’t say (D) often enough: what’s with all the uber-silly, useless women characters who wail and flail and don’t do anything?

    But I can imagine no review for such a movie could capture everything that sucks about it so badly – so thanks for even attempting to write a review.

    When even Kay Kay Menon has done a BAD job, you know the director should be banned from making any more movies….

     
  3. pitu

    October 6, 2008 at 4:41 pm

    HAHAHA Jaya Bachchan as the Anti-Ahilya 😀 I love it! If I was the director, I would turn her into stone, then have a dream sequence where Amit-Rekha sing Dekha ek khwab and one precious lil tear rolls down the stony Jaya’s cheek :-p

     
  4. sachita

    October 7, 2008 at 12:57 am

    “In fact, I’m bored just remembering it long enough to write this post”.:)

    I really wish you talk about more such duds. One isn’t supposed to wish things like this upon people they like, but the reviews or write-ups about bad movies are always such fun to read that I really wish people watch more such movies:)

    I just caught few scenes of bus itna sa khwaab.. but that was enough to make me ban Goldie behl movies for the rest of my life.

    Ps: Before somebody bites me, as proclaimed before I do like abhishek bachchan on screen but I am also aware that he is worth watching only in RGV, Maniratnam and few other directors.

     
  5. Amey

    October 7, 2008 at 10:10 am

    Come on, how many times youre parents/teachers have told you, “If you grow up to remember only one thing I taught you…” foillowed by something they haven’t said ever before? Give the poor girl a break.

    Actually, the whole “sidekicks are human too” sideline would have worked if it did not come in the middle of this movie 😉

    As for Riz, I didn’t find the whole “gustakhi maaf” thing irritating as others did. It was perfectly something a villain in cartoon/comics would say.

    What I am saying is, though I am happy about my decision not to rush to theatre to watch this one, I didn’t find myself saying, “I have started, so I might as well finish”. After all, I have a soft spot for movies which are doomed by their titles (D-Rona, Drone On… how many more ways can you make this sound worse?)

     
  6. Prasanth

    October 7, 2008 at 10:31 am

    I had warned you about this!

    Abhishek Bachchan, in a recent interview, mentioned that the director and he made the movie because both of them had been ejected from the sets of some movie when they were children for playing with prop swords and damaging them. At the outset i was tempted to treat this as a corny attempt at giving the movie a legacy and a human interest story. However, considering the care(the lack of it that is) taken in producing the movie, it is indeed possible that the movie was made merely to satisfy a whim.

    Now what if it gets nominated for the Oscars? In recognition of it’s marvelous integration of mythology, technology, the delicate fragrance of romance and the subtle yet effective nod to modern sensibilities(a woman as a body guard-wow)!!

    After all, Ekalavya was nominated.

     
  7. narendra shenoy

    October 7, 2008 at 12:49 pm

    I’m scheduled to watch this movie later in the week. God help me. A good friend compared the pain of sitting through this movie to “nut surgery” without anaesthetic, adding that next time, he’d go for the nut surgery.

    After your review, at least I’ll have something to laugh about. It is brilliant.

     
  8. Amrita

    October 7, 2008 at 3:19 pm

    OJ – not while my mom is alive, i assure you 🙂 Waaahhhh!!! Mera paisa!!!!

    Chevalier – lol, I actually began this by talking about fantasy as a genre and how it works / doesn’t work in Bollywood etc but this movie was honestly so boring, I could work up any enthusiasm for it. Those are all good points, especially the firs two: the reason for A, I think, was that moved all the interesting bits to the anime section and left the filler on screen; and B REALLY bugged me. I don;t mind if you copy things from other movies, but at least do it well.

    Pitu – :mrgreen: you are MEAN. Damn, I’d pay money for that shit. Oh, and one tear does flow down her cheek. You didn’t expect them to pass up that cliche did you? this is MAA we’re talking about!

    Sachita – hee hee, there’s a perverse sort of pleasure in writing these things but as a general rule I always feel bad about trashing other people’s work when the effort shows. But sometimes it’s just impossible not to snark! I too like Ab when he’s given decent direction.

    Amey – actually I couldn’t remember Prianka’s character’s name at the end of the movie 😳 and had to check up on IMDB. so maybe she had a point. And I thought Kay Kay could have absolutely killed in that role if the movie hadn’t sucked so much. It’s been so long since we had an iconic Hindi film villain! I think Mogambo was the last one.

    Prasanth – HAHAHAHA!!! So you did! But I do like to watch clunkers now and then, so no harm done I guess…Lord, that’s all we need to complete the kiddieness of this pic: a story about three children, made by two children. And if it gets nommed then all the other folks will probably fight like children once more like they did over Eklavya and then it’ll all be complete!

    Naren – oh this is gonna be a barrel of laughs, trust me. And then towards the climax when you fall asleep, they’ll play a soothing lullaby to make you feel better.

     
  9. memsaab

    October 7, 2008 at 4:22 pm

    In MY country (the one I rule, I mean) that seven year old boy would be put to death. By crocodile.

    I kind of want to see this movie, but I don’t really know why.

     
  10. Amey

    October 8, 2008 at 9:10 am

    Oh yeah, I want Riz-wannabes going “gustakhi maaph” now. The character had such a big potential, and KK is good. After all, what is a superhero without a supervillain.

    BTW, Drona ke paas maa nahi hai… hai… nahi hai… hai… Kinda like that joke about a blonde and the blinker 😉

     
 
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