Thoda Pyaar Thoda Magic – Just for kids

By Vidya Pradhan

Short review – Silly movie, ridiculous plot, kids loved it.

Now for the longer one……

Yash Raj Films, once a production house with the Midas touch, continues to struggle to find the magic formula for success at the box office. TPTM(“A little love, a little magic”), a sugary blend of “Mary Poppins” and “City of Angels”, is at various times a kids movie, a comedy, a drama and a romance.

Ranbeer Talwar ( Saif Ali Khan) is a lonely soul who has been battered by the loss of many loved ones over the course of a short life, a fact that is dealt with quickly and competently in the opening credits. His life abruptly changes one day when he is involved in a car accident that results in the death of the parents of a large brood of kids. The judge sentences the self-absorbed Ranbeer to become the hands-on guardian of the brood and his world turns upside down. When he and the kids can’t cope any more, they send out a heartfelt prayer heavenwards for help and God( played by a portly and genial Rishi Kapoor) sends down an angel (Rani Mukherjee) to help the new family.

So far, so good. But director Kunal Kohli, whose previous credits include the enjoyable, if simplistic, "Mujhse Dosti Karoge" and "Hum Tum", stumbles at the challenge of making a kid's movie. The exchanges between the adults sparkle, but when it comes to directing the kids, the director abandons subtlety, to the detriment of the movie. Mainstream Bollywood movies are pretty childish anyway, but when they pander to kids they become positively infantile, not crediting children with even an iota of intelligence.
There are also lots of scenes that are pure pander, like the introduction of a Sikh kid( adopted) in the mix. There is also a squirmingly embarrassing scene set in L.A involving an American family which is positively insulting to Americans and could have been treated with more finesse. A doggie addition to the family is completely unneccessary.

Rani sparkles as Geeta, the angel. She wisely eschews the glamour, leaving it to an under-dressed Amisha Patel, who has some good comedic lines. Saif is his usual competent self. But his transformation to a serious actor in movies like “Being Cyrus” and “Omkara” means that he looks downright uncomfortable in the song and dance routines and the romantic scenes.

The songs by Shnkar-Ehsaan-Loy are great, though one wishes Shankar’s powerful voice did not boom out at every tender moment in the movie. One song in particular (“Lazy Lamhe”) is choreographed in a way no kids should be allowed to watch, but Indian kids are probably desensitized by now to "item" numbers.

TPTM has a kid’s fairy tale quality about it, which means adults watching the movie will have to regress for the two and a half hour duration of the movie. But it is a painless experience and worth it for the kids. There are plenty of nice special effects to delight the young ones and my kids found it easy to follow the movie by reading the subtitles. My 5 year old, who is by now a complete sucker for Bollywood romance, was even teary-eyed towards the schmaltzy end.

If you can wait, see this movie at home. It is a perfect DVD movie for the family and you even get to fast forward the objectionable song.

Thoda Pyaar Thoda Magic ( A little love, a little magic)

*ring – Saif Ali Khan, Rani Mukherjee, Rishi Kapoor, Amisha Patel

My rating – 2.5 stars out of 5. 

Now showing at Naz8 in Fremont. 

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