By Joginder Tuteja
Film: "Aladin"; Cast: Amitabh Bachchan, Sanjay Dutt, Riteish Deshmukh, Jacqueline Fernandes, Saahil Khan, Ratna Pathak; Director: Sujoy Ghosh; Rating: ***1/2
"I am still a teenager", says Amitabh Bachchan right at the beginning of "Aladin", setting the mood for the film to follow. Young at heart and fresh in treatment, "Aladin" wouldn't have been possible without him.
Playing Genius - The Genie could have gone either way since he is expected to be whacky, quirky, a little eccentric, a bit mad and hugely lovable.
The narrative is clearly divided into two sections. If the first half is more children friendly, the second half has a lot going for teenagers and above.
There is some fun in store for children with a donkey's head replacing Riteish's, his guitar turning into a frog and him being thrown in the air after being turned into a balloon. The funny antics that follow may not have grown ups rolling with laughter, but should surely keep the smiles on.
Amitabh's 'Yo dude' act keeps the fun going. He adopts a completely different body language as the flamboyant genie, who is happy moving on with the times, and could give the younger generation a run for its money.
Meanwhile, Sanjay Dutt's Ringmaster character makes on and off appearances, though one would have expected to see more of him.
The entire past about Aladin and the Genius gets a little confusing.
The real fun begins in the second half with the battle between good versus evil. Sanjay becomes more prominent on screen, the past is unearthed, action and thrills take centrestage and the best of VFX is unveiled.
The visuals belong to the never-seen-before variety, especially the ones where Big B is shown repenting about his misdeeds. The flashback sequence is extremely well done too.
Sujoy Ghosh does well in conjuring the imaginary world of 'Khwaish' that gives the film a visual appeal. This is further enhanced by the presence of newcomer Jacqueline Fernandes. Riteish is likeable as the young man who gets superpowers towards the film's end, hence keeping an option for a sequel.
Sanjay is good but how one wishes that he had at least a couple of dramatic scenes with Amitabh.
However, the film completely belongs to Amitabh who totally steals the show. Watch him in "Genie Rap" and you'll know why.
The story of "Aladin" is legendary and Genie and Jasmine are known worldwide. This is why it requires courage for a filmmaker to set the film in contemporary times and come up with his own take on a well loved tale.
Ghosh does exactly that as he lets his imagination go wild and spins a tale that ends up relating the past, present and future of these characters. This VFX filled entertainer is just the right recipe if one is looking for a family entertainer.