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Love at leisurely pace



DREAMY: Lucky ... the camera beautifully captures Russia's landscape.

Lucky

The good old maverick continues to charm. The critics sneered at `Garv,' the masses liked it. The purists frowned at `Mujhse Shaadi Karoge' the cinemagoers laughed at all those pranks. With `Tere Naam,' he helped Bhumika Chawla find her feet in Bollywood. But all along, his off-screen persona has hit the headlines, hunting, driving, losing in love. All made for fetching stories and Salman Khan was hanged by the media. But like a phoenix he keeps coming back. Having outlasted his detractors, the good old maverick is now beginning to resemble the finished product every artiste aspires to be.

After more than a decade and a half in Bollywood, he evokes dreams, panders to fantasies. And girls half his age long to sing and dance with him. It is no different in Radhika Rao and Vinay Sapru's `Lucky' where Sneha Ullal, the young girl who every now and then brings on the radiance of Aishwarya Rai before slipping into ways more mundane, keeps him company. Yes, he sees her, she sees him; they fall in love!

We have seen it all. We also know that Salman is no loser, so he will get his girl in the end. But what transpires before that is a treat for the eyes with some of the finest cinematography in recent years.

And Russia's locales are all so virgin, so fetching, you feel like falling in love with the place. What a hundred cultural exchanges won't do, this film probably will for the country, the epicentre of civil uprising until not so long ago.

That violence casts its long and foreboding shadow on the film as well, where the hero and the heroine find themselves caught in the crossfire between the government and those spearheading the armed struggle. That it is their first meeting adds a dash of unpredictability to the whole affair. But as one said, they have to come out unscathed. All along, the cinematographer has a blast, and one gets acquainted with the timeless charm of Asha Bhonsle and Lata Mangeshkar's vocal chords. So, is the film a feast? No way. It lacks in pace. It lacks in mobility. Every now and then it gives you a chance to catch up with the world outside, knowing fully well that when you come back, the guy and the girl would still be hiding in some corner for their life or the girl fluttering her eyelashes, and lo! they will be lost in a dream sequence.

So, should one watch it at all? Yes. Once. For Salman Khan, who still carries a boy's face on a man's shoulders. Not to forget that wonderful landscape of St. Petersburg.

ZIYA US SALAM

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