Kismat Konnection (2008): Don't blame destiny

Kismat Konnection is a good example of a film that settled for less when it could have been so much more. It's directed by Aziz Mirza, whose Bollywood works include Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman (1992), Yes Boss (1997), Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani (2000), and Chalte Chalte (2003), each of which starred Shah Rukh Khan. The first three also starred Juhi Chawla (haye Allah!). If these were the benchmarks, then Kismat Konnection wasn't too detached from their norm, and was undoubtedly better than at least one (the most recent). Alas, that is not saying much.

The film is about architect Raj Malhotra (Shahid Kapoor) who, five years following a successful academic career, continues to struggle with life. He thinks this is because his qismat (destiny) betrays him. Luck gets the better of him in about everything, until Priya (Vidya Balan) enters his life. What follows is a typical but uninteresting romantic comedy, also involving builder Sanjeev Gill (Om Puri), Raj's friend and partner Hiten Patel (Vishal Malhotra), and fortuneteller Haseena Baano Jaan (Juhi Chawla).

First, the positives, because there were two that outshone the rest: Shahid Kapoor and Vidya Balan. Shahid was good. From his past works, we know he can be very good, and that works to the film's advantage. He played his part well, which does not deviate much from his own style. Some of the comedy was well depicted, dialogue well delivered, and moments well captured. A scene involving pool was a definite highlight.

I did not think he was trying to act like Shah Rukh, and I disagree with the comparison. It's the kind of character Shah Rukh made a career of, and that is where any comparisons are warranted. Shah Rukh is also relevant here because Aziz Mirza ensured he got a cameo as narrator, introducing Raj to the audience. Or because you might recall Shah Rukh's character in Dilwaale Dulhania Le Jaayenge (1996) was indeed named Raj Malhotra. Or because in two of the four Shah Rukh-Aziz Mirza projects noted at the beginning of this post, the name of the character played by Shah Rukh was 'Raj' or some variant thereof.

Vidya Balan was good too. There were moments when she made something of little, such as the protest against Batra & Gill, the organization that threatened to tear down the community center she worked at of sheer belief in goodness. It was one of the genuinely funny moments (there were fewer overall than one would have liked), and it could have been ineffective with someone else.

As was the case in Heyy Babyy (2007), her wardrobe and look could have been better. (By now, she will hopefully have shed a few pounds -- 10 to 15 should be easy.) Unlike Heyy Babyy, though, the wardrobe and look did not appear glaringly bad, because she did have a much more prominent role throughout the film, and what most will remember her for is her acting and cuteness. Beautiful she is. She fit in well and played her part as well as can be expected. Well done Vidya!

The rest of the cast was decent. Om Puri (especially) and Vishal Malhotra were apt, and Himani Shivpuri (who played Puri's wife) provided more moments of hilarity than most (for better or for worse). Here's Haseena Bano Jaan, in what was to me as a long-time fan of Ms. Chawla what Anil Kapoor in Tashan (2008 - reviewed here) was -- hopelessly misplaced and disappointingly mediocre. This one just hurt a lot more :'(

The glaring weaknesses of Kismat Konnection were the average script and screenplay. I didn't think they were entirely unexpected given Mr. Mirza's recent works. If the effort here was to not be as boring as Chalte Chalte (starring Shah Rukh and Rani Mukherjee), that mission was accomplished, but resulted in a film that was unnecessarily loud from start to finish, and with characters more visibly excited than they needed to be. Clutter and noise that would have been better edited out extended the runtime by at least a half hour, and that does not include the music (by Pritam Chakrobarty), which was below average to begin with (here's my music review). While it did not take much away from the film, it didn't add much at all either.

Several bits of the dialogue were redundant. Some situations in the second half were similar to those that appeared in the first, while others were just left incomplete and unresolved, adding inconsistencies. The film could have been based in any city, and could have used beautiful Toronto and her surrounding areas much more wisely.

Having said that, the moments involving the attempted rescue of the community center, and the buildup to the climax they constituted, made the film surprisingly watchable. Again, credit Shahid Kapoor and Vidya Balan for rescuing the film, because it could have easily gone off-track without them. They were clearly better than the film they were in, and they shared some interesting chemistry.

Kismat Konnection is a good sample for a case study on it being difficult to overcome a weak script and screenplay, especially when elements other than the acting aren't juxtaposed well. For that, I'm going with a little under three stars for an above average film at best, one that works okay as a time-pass flick. If you are a fan of either of the lead actors, there is plenty to appreciate, enough to warrant seeing it, if only for their presence that complemented the film, because the script, screenplay, and music certainly did not. If you're not a fan of the lead actors, you might not be missing much if you stay away.

Movie rating: 2.75/5 (Above Average)

My classification: PG

Music rating: 2/5 (below average -- review here)

Official website (and picture source):


Pitu said...

Good review. I am not a fan of either leads although I think Shahid rocked in Jab we met and Vidya was phenomenal in Parineeta. Having said that, I did think that Shahid aped SRK almost entirely through the film and it really turned me off. If I can see the real thing (SRK) for the same price why would I watch Shahid? He had almost entirely copied SRK even in Dil Maange More (one of his early films). With JWM I felt he had come into his own so I didn't like the lets-go-back-to-copying-SRk thing at all.

Agree about Vidya needing to lose weight. Seriously, go to a gym, woman! As it is, she is on the wrong side of 30, if she doesn't stop being so aunty types, the lead roles are quickly going to dry up :-/

I agree with you regd the direction/screenplay, and would also like to add that the music was below avg. Azeez Mirza's music has always been brilliant. I still play the Yes Boss soundtrack so this soundtrack was a big disappointment for me.

I would have liked to see Juhi in a meatier, better fleshed out role. She has the best comic timing among actresses!

Anonymous said...

Agreed, without Shahid & Vidya, this flick would have been a failure. The music in this movie, I liked. I also think Juhi Chawla acted her part very well, although her character was very unnecessary. There were also other elements of the film that were unnecessary, such as Vidya's fiance. I watched this film twice, only because of Shahid, lol. He's too cute.

theBollywoodFan said...

Hi Pitu: Shahid and especially Vidya have way better works to their credit, as you say. As a fan of Vidya, I am starting to get concerned about her portfolio, I'll admit. As for Shahid, the SRK mannerisms are obvious, but didn't you think that had a lot to do with the character as well? I might be missing it, because I haven't seen Dil Maange More.

With you on Vidya needing to go to the gym. It should be quite easy in her case, and hopefully she's resolved it already. If she is the 'aunty type' here, then I am still bowled over by an 'aunty type', in which case I am mucho concerned now...*thanks*, LOL.

Juhi had good comic timing here too, definitely, but it was so disappointing to see her take on the role, which as Anjali notes, was unsubstantial. Juhi and I go a long, long's painful now :'(

Hi Anjali: I'm with you entirely on Juhi. Vidya's fiance was so cliche, I can't help but agree with you. Although how else they would've stretched the plot farther without it while sticking to the norm, which this film tries hard to do, would be interesting. Shahid definitely had his moments, and so did Vidya.


Anonymous said...

I think the music of the film was not too bad. Songs like Tu Hai Meri Sohniye and Tum Hi Ho were good, not?

theBollywoodFan said...

Hi Saurabh: I liked Tum Se Hi and Tum Hi Ho -- but didn't think there were any songs that stood out, so overall, it was disappointing.

Maybe, given that it was a romantic comedy starring Shahid Kapoor and with music by Pritam, we were all expecting Jab We Met? This was far from it. And even the music to Jab We Met wasn't original (Pritam at work) :'(

ajnabi said...

Awww, poor Vidya! I hate to see people picking on her *weight* in a response to a movie review instead of her actual *performance*! She's somewhere between 5'1" and 5'4"; losing even ten pounds *is* very difficult for a woman of that small stature. (I'm 5'8" and a half myself and if I lost or gained a stone nobody but myself would notice--it's just completely unjust but I love it of course.)

The thing that bugs me the most is that many actresses in Bollywood past had figures even more full than Vidya's; they were just given costume designers who made the most of their assets instead of highlighting their flaws with poor clothing choices! For Pete's sake, it's like no one knows what to do with a real woman's body any more except tell her to starve it. BTW, her more recent pics have shown her wearing a style much more suited to her body type without aging her.

Anyway, about the actual film: I'm a big fan of both the principles so this is worth a rental for me. I'm glad to have discovered Bollywood bloggers like yourself, though--otherwise I would've rushed to buy it sight unseen! LOL Thanks for the review!

Anonymous said...

Am not a big fan of Shahid either but tend to agree that I dont see a lot of similarities between him and SRK (nobody can be half as annoying as SRK when he's "acting"). And whats all this about Vidya losing weight? Dont we have too many anorexic stars already - its nice to see a real woman for a change!

That said, this was a very disappointing movie - just didnt hold my attention at all. The only thing I liked about it was Juhi. She was sooooooo OTT with her hamming and junky clothes but its been sooooooo long since I saw her onscreen that I'll take what I can get.

theBollywoodFan said...

Hi Ajnabi: The wardrobe probably makes all the difference, yes. It's not just in the past. I really like Tabu too, who's not the skinniest (she doesn't need to be, some of us love her as she is) as beautiful as anyone else. Also see note to Bollyviewer below.

I never thought of the difficulty in losing weight, maybe my comment originated from thinking primarily that since these individuals probably spend at least a couple of hours a day at the gym because of what they do, it mustn't be too difficult if that is combined with a decent diet.

...except tell her to starve...

This is something I absolutely agree with. If my comments implied the opposite in any way, I'm sorry for not being able to articulate my criticism well enough. Vidya Balan has been in my list of top three current actresses for a while now (the only one to have been on the header or sidebard or both, throughout the time I've blogged), so I saw Kismat Konnection and found more than enough to like of her, as I usually do. And I do know some people who liked it more than I did, so I'd be curious to know your thoughts.

Hi Bollyviewer: We agree on SRK! :) There are too many anorexic stars already, agreed. My favorites (as noted in my intro post), tend to not be those, for the most part. As in this review post, I thought Vidya looked very beautiful no matter what. Maybe her wardrobe (suited to her character) was the culprit, in which case one would question the casting. Whatever the case, she has looked really good while not looking too skinny before, such as in these pictures, in which I thought she looked better. Then again, it might just be the wardrobe!

As for Juhi, her other role this year I thought was slightly disappointing was Krazzy 4, in which she had slightly more screen time. She deserves way more than she's been settling for. How about a film with Aamir again? :)

Pitu said...

I think some commentors might be right about the fashion designers dressing women properly in the past. Thing is, all the not-too-skinny actresses I know were all super tall. Hema, Rekha, Vyjanthimala, Sridevi all the way down to Tabu. They looked statuesque. So yes, they dressed better but they did have the advantage of height. The short actresses in the past were all pretty slim, barring a curvy Neetu Singh or Tanuja. But even those 2 dressed well and their bubbly personae more than made up for some of their awful fashion choices. I mean, when I watch a Khel Khel Mein, I only notice how cute as a button Neetu was, I don't notice her waist size! But does Vidya have that kind of charisma/charm? Even Juhi Chawla was never reed thin.

That said, Vidya seriously needs to tone up! She is way too jiggly :-( and about my earlier 'aunty' comment, I can't put my finger on it, but there is something incredibly aunty like about her- it ain't her weight, it ain't her age. I dunno if it's her wardrobe, hairstyle, dialog delivery, what? I mean, Juhi Chawla is like 40 and she still comes across as cute, chirpy and adorable. So why does Vidya seem so dated? I honestly dunno. But someone (maybe a fashion designer/stylist?) needs to fix it soon. Because this woman has serious acting skills but she has none of the fan following she deserves. And you need fan following to stay in the game. Otherwise you get relegated to the chhoti behen/ best friend roles. Just my 2 cents.

theBollywoodFan said...

Hi Pitu: Those are all good points. I might be biased here, but I think Vidya does have more charisma than her characters in the past couple of years (except for maybe Bhool Bhulaiyya) have allowed her to showcase. Given she's still relatively young in her career, that definitely impacts her fan following.

I was surprised at some of the scenes in Kismat Konnection, in which not only the wardrobe, but even the camerawork, did not complement her look. I blame these two primarily. She doesn't need to look slim, she just needs to not look as if she didn't put a lot of effort into her physique, which is what this film made her look like. But I'm confident she'll rebound and do her fans proud.

Again, it's not that we think every actor should be a Salman Khan or Hrithik Roshan, or that every actress should be a 'fill in the blank' (Madhuri, Tabu, Juhi work just well for me, but then there are some who totally rely on their look and are more popular today, which I fiercely disagree with). They have to define their brand, and I think Vidya's struggling with that somewhat now, sooner or later she needs to pick a path and stick to it. As you say, she's got too much to offer and deserves more following.


Filmi Girl said...

I'm glad I read your review before wasting my time watching a dull film. :)

I was a little shocked at the comment on Vidya's weight, as to me she doesn't appear to be very large. I think the problem is - as it looks like other commenters have noted - that costume designers are not dressing her well. I prefer the plump look to the skeletal look - Rani Mukerji always looks beautiful even with "jiggly" bits. Acting depends on so much more than looking thin. Can't the heroine be a bit plump - even if it means she has to cover up a bit? You can always bring out the former models for the item numbers!

theBollywoodFan said...

Hi Filmi Girl: Thank you for stopping by. I don't believe the Vidya Balan concern goes beyond this film -- it certainly hasn't to me in any of her previous works. Regardless, I would not hold that against an actress or film (didn't here, that's not what made the film good or bad), unless it interfered with the character. Given her role here, it should not have. And for the most part, it did not. But the wardrobe and cinematography somehow made it seem awkward (especially in one sequence, in which it was glaring). Which is a shame, because I agree with everything you've said, including the bit on Rani.

Can't the heroine be a bit plump - even if it means she has to cover up a bit?

Absolutely, and well said here. In fact, I'd rather have more heroines cover up more any way -- to me, it just oozes more class. The combintation of such class and good acting skills is way hotter than pop culture seems to want to define. I didn't even think Vidya was 'plump' here, just looking slightly overweight.

I guess I should have made it clearer that my comment in the review (which included a note on the acting more than making up) originated as a response to major criticism of her elsewhere (leading to a decline in popularity), with which I sadly cannot disagree absolutely. They really should've done a better job with her wardrobe, for which they (including Vidya) are accountable.

Maybe I'm being harsh and terming it a 'concern' where I normally wouldn't, because Vidya is a favorite. Like I did with Aamir and his look and weight in the first half of Fanaa (2006). This was brought up to him, because he's very vocal in encouraging his fans to be critical of his work. He did not disagree (in fact, he apologized!). I don't think Vidya will either, as she did after Heyy Babyy. Oh well. In the bigger picture, one film matters not! What does matter is the acting, and there has never been a question mark surrounding Ms. Balan and her talent.


PS: And I don't even want to get to item numbers, LOL. About less than five percent of them (if even that many) probably don't add more than you-know-what to a film. If there's one thing about another favorite, Kareena Kapoor, that has bugged me over the last couple of years, this is it :( Yet, we all know how much publicity she's gotten since her number 'It's Rocking' in Kya Love Story Hai (2007)...just not fair, but that's just how it seems to work these days, and I dislike that, to say the least.

I'm still counting on Vidya to be the next Kajol or Tabu, because I can't think of anyone else from her class getting there (or having the potential) any time soon. Oh wait, Konkona Sen is about the only other one I can think of right away.

Pitu said...

Haan but Konkona has very ornery looks and no glamor, na? Right now my hopes are pinned on Deepika Padukone. I thought she was fantabulous in OSO and in the serious/dramatic bits she came across as a seasoned performer, not a debutante. Add to that a beautiful face, great figure, lovely dancing skills and the woman could just zoom to the top!

theBollywoodFan said...

Hi Pitu: Deepika has a long way to go, and I'll be rooting for her as well. She was way better in Om Shanti Om than in Bachna Ae Haseeno. Her role and the script (and SRK) probably had to do more with that. Let's hope she keeps up, as you say, she's got much in her favor.

I think Konkona Sen is right up there with anyone else, especially for her acting talent (she specializes in a genre I love, maybe that's why I like her so)! And some of us do think she is 'hot' (she's got a good personality, and that carries over into her acting) and glamorous in her own right. Gracy Singh falls in a similar bucket too. Sadly, we don't hear her name any longer :'(

Which validates your earlier point about Vidya needing a fan following fast and striving to be a populist at her stage, to chart a course for the long term. Sad, but true. And it's as much for the people who consume film as for those who make them. *Sigh*

There likely won't be another Kajol any time soon, unless Genelia D'Souza can pick up from where she left off in Jaane Tu.

Oh well, yeh baatein hoti raheingi...they're all good :)

S said...

I didn't really hate this movie as I did had its charm..I guess both Shahid and Vidya helped because they were pretty good in the movie....

theBollywoodFan said...

Hi Reviewer: I thought the acting here was a lot better better than in Bachna Ae Haseeno, which had the better script.