Kaante (2002)

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Released 19-May-2004

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-Mere Yaar Ki Shaadi Hai, Saathiya,
Trailer-Seven Samurai, Princess Blade, Volcano High, Satin Rouge
Trailer-Monsoon Wedding, Tears Of The Black Tiger
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2002
Running Time 146:21 (Case: 150)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (80:10) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Sanjay Gupta
Studio
Distributor
Pritish Nandy Comms.
Madman Entertainment
Starring Amitabh Bachchan
Sanjay Dutt
Sunil Shetty
Mahesh Manjrekar
Lucky Ali
Kumar Gaurav
Malaika Arora
Jeff Davis
Ranjit Chowdhry
Morgana Di Castlebesozza
Sanjay Sippy
Gilbert Aguilera
Ike Bram
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI ? Music Lucky Ali
Anand Raj Anand
Gregor Narholz


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None Hindi Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking Yes, surely the more they smoke, the tougher they are?
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    So here we have it, perhaps the first R4 release of a mainstream Bollywood  movie. For those that don't know, Bollywood, based in Mumbai, is the Indian equivalent of Hollywood and is the epicentre of the majority of the very many movies produced in India, generally for consumption by the approx 1 billion inhabitants of India plus its countless emigrants abroad. Apparently the film output from Bollywood is far greater, in number, than its US counterpart, though the quality of many of these films is sadly lacking.

    Films have been produced there for almost as long as they have in Hollywood or other parts of the world. In general these Indian films (often in the Hindi language) have tended to be somewhat formulaic, featuring a lead actor, tall, muscular and usually usually with sunglasses, and a lovely leading lady who at first despises the 'hero', but of course falls in love with him as the film progresses (often a minimum of 3 hours!). However, falling in love in these films is never easy, and the protagonists have to contend with all sorts of obstacles including another man or woman, class or caste differences, religious differences, or a combination of all these. Many of these films have been based, often closely, on a popular Hollywood film. However, the big difference is always that amongst the epic-length of many of these films, there are at least 6 to 10 full-on song and sequences. These songs often feature the 2 protagonists, often with backing dancers, dancing and singing amidst numerous changes of costume and even location. Most often, the song sequences have little or no bearing on the plot and are there merely to add colour and spectacle to attract a wider audience. Furthermore, the music from these films is usually released before the film, and these albums often become chart-toppers which, in addition to generating huge revenue, also acts as a very effective promotion tool for the actual film. Ahhh...the magic of cinema, especially anything sourced from Mumbai.

    Recently, say in the last 3 to 4 years, this trend of formulaic films has been slowly changing, with noticeable influence from Hollywood. While this has resulted in many Indian films that have shaken off the shackles of being made to a 'formula', some of the influences adopted by Indian filmmakers have, sadly, been of the Jerry Bruckheimer school of films, i.e., overcolouring via filters or postproduction, excessive stop-motion or sped up footage, odd camera angles, and endless techno-based music, emphasising the style of the film over the actual acting or plot. Another widespread practice has been to film these Indian movies overseas, usually in Switzerland, USA, New Zealand, England and even in Sydney and Canberra! 

    So, what do we have here in Kaante? Basically the story is about 6 master criminals, specialists in their own fields of crime, who are brought together, in a jail cell no less, and plot to hatch a major bank robbery. While the story is completely set in LA, the 6 protagonists are all of Indian origin. When the bank robbery doesn't quite go to plan, amidst a major pyrotechnic display, the 6 protagonists do get away and meet in dribs and drabs at their agreed hideout, together with a captured policeman. The gang then realises that one of them is an undercover cop. But who could it be?

    Hmm...does this plot sound somewhat familiar? Yes, it is a remake of Quentin Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs, though apparently with some 'enhancements', such as 7 or so musical numbers. Hilariously, there is one particular song in which these 'tough' criminals all dance and sing with each other!

    The film does contain a couple of very popular Bollywood actors, including Amitabh Bachchan who can be considered India's Sean Connery. He is instantly recognisable, either by face or by voice, to his multitude of fans in India and amongst the diaspora abroad in the UK, Australia, USA and other parts of the world. Bachchan  has had a long career, now into its 3rd decade, and he even hosts the Indian version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire?. Another of the actors in Kaante, Sanjay Dutt, was imprisoned in real life for his connections with Islamic terrorist networks operating in India, in particular after the major bombings of the Mumbai Stock Exchange and other key buildings in the 1980s. However, being an actor of renown means that one is forgiven for slight indiscretions such as being directly linked with terrorist groups, and upon his release Dutt stepped back into his successful acting career!.

    Director Sanjay Gupta is a relative newcomer to Indian filmmaking, and perhaps as a result has gone overboard in trying to impart Hollywood style into a Bollywood film. He has used every imaginable cliché from recent Hollywood blockbusters, such as The Rock, Armageddon, Fast and the Furious or Enemy of the State, and squeezed them into his film, which results in a way over-stylised film with plenty of totally unnecessary shots (such as constant zooms of gun barrels). There's no doubt that this film looks completely different to any Indian film I've ever seen, and in fact looks far closer to many Hollywood big-budget, low brain films. This has obviously been a successful formula as this film was a major hit upon its release in India, as well as when it had limited screening throughout the world.

    As a side note, the more serious Indian cinema, often considered 'arthouse', tends to come from Bengal or New Delhi. We're quite lucky in Australia that SBS television screens the occasional Indian movie and tends to balance them well between the popular (Bollywood) offerings, as well as the far more serious (and unmusical) arthouse cinema.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    I cannot understand why this film has been transferred to DVD in the ratio of 1.78:1 and not in its theatrical ratio of 2.35:1. This really makes many of the scenes look cramped, and spoils the lovely 'wide' aspect of the original. You can compare the feature with the trailer, which is presented in 2.35:1.

    The transfer of the main feature is 16x9 enhanced.

    The transfer is sharp throughout. Shadow detail is a little lacking in parts and it was occasionally hard to distinguish dark foreground objects from the shadows in the background. It's hard to tell whether this was the intent of the Director and/or Cinematographer, or was a result of a poor transfer. I suspect the latter.

    Grain is quite apparent in many scenes, such as at 18:20. There is no low-level noise.

    The director and cinematographer have chosen to instil a very rich colour palette of yellows, blues, and reds into this film which has lent the film a music video appearance, somewhat reminiscent of many of the films from the Bruckheimer/Simpson stable. This extreme colouring has been transferred quite nicely to DVD, with no trace of oversaturation or colour bleed.

    There were a number of examples of telecine wobble, resulting in the picture jumping, usually at a reel change point. Examples of this were at 19:17, 53:53, and 67:20.  A particularly horrid example of telecine wobble, resulting in momentary loss of picture focus, was at 98:30. Reel change markings were often evident, though only as semi-circles due to the 'narrower' picture format on the DVD.

    There was very slight aliasing evident in some scenes, such as on the frame of the sunglasses at 41:34.

    There was a scattering of positive and negative film artefacts throughout. These included white and black marks and even the occasional faint vertical scratch. Though never particularly bad, there were still more than one would expect from a recently released movie.

    The subtitles were only in English, and were burned into the print rather than using the DVD player's subtitle capability.

    This is a dual layered disc with the layer change at 80:10. It was reasonably well executed at a scene change, except for a 'clicking' noise on the soundtrack immediately after it.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The only soundtrack provided on this disc is in Dolby Surround 2.0 and is reasonably good. However, it would have been far nicer to have this explosive thriller presented with its original Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack.

    Dialogue, in Hindi and English, is clear at all times and in sync with the actor's lip movements.

    The music, by Anand Raj Anand, is different to the usual Bollywood soundtrack, although it does have the 'compulsory' half-a-dozen song and dance sequences. In general, the music is heavily techno based with constant pounding by synthesisers, which does help drive the action along quite nicely.

    Although this is only a Dolby Surround soundtrack on the DVD, the rear speakers are well used to support ambient noise, many effects and the music. It's obvious that this soundtrack was downmixed from what would be a very 'surroundy' 5.1 mix.

    The subwoofer is used to support explosions and gunshots though not with the impact I would have expected, perhaps again due to the downmix from Dolby Digital 5.1.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Theatrical Trailer

    The original trailer for Kaante presented in 2.35:1 letterboxed with Dolby Surround. Nice to see how the film looks in its original format. Runtime 2:38.

Bollywood Trailers

    Trailers for 2 forthcoming Bollywood DVD releases:

Madman Propaganda

    More trailers for DVD releases from Madman Films

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    There is an R1 'official' version of this film available, though I'm unable to confirm content details. However, given the very limited appeal of this film in mainstream release in the West (globally I mean, not just Perth!), I dare say that the R4 transfer has probably been copied from the R1 release. Furthermore, the R4 release is apparently coded for all regions.

Summary

    Kaante is quite different to most Indian mainstream movies, and in fact looks and sounds very much like some of the recent Hollywood blockbusters, except for the Hindi dialogue and the compulsory song and dance numbers! The acting is pretty good, in an overly macho way, and the story moves along quite nicely.

    It's surprising that this R4 release has been somewhat poorly treated, with a 1.78:1 ratio instead of the 2.35:1 of the original film, as well as only a Dolby Surround rather than a 5.1 soundtrack. I consider this unforgivable in a 'full price' official DVD of a recent release. In fact, I'm aware that 'less-than-official' versions of this film are available easily on DVD in the original theatrical ratio, with 16x9 enhancement, and have Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtracks. I think we've been somewhat 'cheated' with this release.

    The extras are limited to a large number of trailers.

    Is this worth buying or renting? I would have to say that unless you were one of the many fans of Amitabh Bachchan, or a Hindi speaker, or had an interest in seeing an Indian remake of Reservoir Dogs then perhaps this film won't offer much to you. Yes, although much of the dialogue is in English, and subtitles are provided for all Hindi dialogue, bear in mind that this is nevertheless a 'real' Bollywood production, not a western-oriented Indian film like Monsoon Wedding, East is East or Bhaji on the Beach. I found the below-par video and audio transfer very disappointing.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Satish Rajah (don't read my bio!)
Wednesday, March 03, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-344 Multi-Region, using Component output
DisplaySony KV-XA34M31 80cm. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationDenon AVR-2801
SpeakersMain: Mission 753; Centre: Mission m7c2; rear: Mission 77DS; Sub: JBL PB10

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