A sleek and hip Race. Then what?

Race saanson ki. Race dhadkan ki.
Race chaahat ki. My heart is racing on.

Saw Race last night. I seldom watch movies on weeknights, but the opportunity was there, and given the star cast of the film, I wasn't about to let it slide. Directed by Abbas-Mustan, and starring Saif Ali Khan, Akshaye Khanna, Anil Kapoor, Katrina Kaif, Sameera Reddy, and Bipasha Basu. Set primarily in South Africa, and belonging to the suspense genre.

Given that this is still a relatively new film, so I'd rather not give away too much to those of you have not seen it. But here are some of my thoughts on Race:

1. The quality of acting throughout the movie is good. If I had to pick three of the six actors who do best, I would say Anil Kapoor, Akshaye Khanna and Sameera Reddy steal the show.

2. The songs are decently placed, yet one cannot help but wonder if they add to or detract from the film. Pehli Nazar by Atif Aslam is obviously the chart buster from among the soundtrack. The film could have easily done without at least a few of the other songs. Pehli Nazar, though, is very well choreographed.

3. I enjoyed the cars that were used in the film. But they went from a Mercedes sports car to a Porsche to a Ferrari in Pehli Nazar, and then somehow worked their way back to cars less than $100k (such as the BMW Z series) in value. Hmm...maybe they did rent that Ferrari for the Pehli Nazar promos?!

4. Anil Kapoor has inspired me to eat more fruit. No question about it. Really, I mean it. From sugarcane to berries, pomegranites, apples, oranges, bananas, grapes, watermelons...you name it, I'll emulate Mr. Kapoor when I have them. Now, if only I had an assistant like Mini.

5. Speaking of Mini, played by Sameera Reddy, no one can convince me that she wasn't better overall than Katrina Kaif or Bipasha Basu. Yes, I shall make a bold statement here. I think Sameera was indeed better. She acted better (which doesn't mean much, I might add, given her counterparts), and she looked better!

6. It was good to see Johnny Lever in a film again after what seems like a quite a while, although he made only a special appearance. He is one heck of a comedian, and we can only hope to see more of him soon.

7. The production is very good. The movie is sleek, sexy, and action-packed

8. It would have been nice to have followed, at some points, one story and stuck to it. That would have been much more effective. Suspense is nice. Thrills are awesome. But when one tries to do too much, the impact is lost. I cannot help but feel that Race is a victim of some of its own thrills and spills, and way too many twists that make them feel old. I wouldn't be surprised if there was a sequel to this and Akshaye and Katrina were alive.

Yet, I am going with three stars for a good action film that is well directed and produced. The performances are above average. Sameera Reddy might be a revelation for those who have seen her on screen for the first time, but this is something I have known for a while, so no surprises there. Bipasha Basu and Katrina Kaif look stunning and act decent, but are clearly the weaker actors in the film. I can't help but think that their sole purpose is to provide the eye candy, which is sure to sell. That is precisely what I felt about the love scenes with Saif and Bipasha too. Not required at all, especially at the length of the final edit. Oh well.

Movie rating: *** (Good)

Music rating: *** (Good)
Pehli Nazar and Zara Zara work in a good dance album by Pritam. The background score by Salim-Sulaiman is fantastic!

Official website: http://www.race.tips.in/

My classification: NC-17
Given the plot, soundtrack, potential for violence, and sexual situations, this movie is obviously targeted to those above a certain age. I would encourage all to keep it that way. So, parents, if you're going to the theaters, don't take your kids with you. If you end up watching this at home some day, keep a finger on the fast forward button, especially for the songs.

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