Bhaggmati: The Queen of Fortunes tells the story of Shivaranjani (Tabu), a student wishing to study the real-life historical figures Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah and his supposed love Bhagmati under the tutelage of an unusual professor (Ashok Kaul, also the director ). The professor introduces her to a trustee of the Quli Qutb Shah Foundation, Aseem (Milind Soman), and the two fall in love. As Shivaranjani continues to research the story and visit historical sites, she and Assem discover the past is more real than meets the eye. Or something like that.
Tabu was the main reason I watched this film, and she unfortunately disappoints. Her acting is awkward at times, but can you really blame her? The corny dialogues are difficult enough to sit through let alone act. But as always, she is lovely! I was also highly amused by her "on again off again" unibrow.
Same scene- now you see it, now you don't!
And now you REALLY see it!
Milind Soman looks like a low-IQ beefcake in the film and acts like one too. I'm almost positive he read his lines from off-camera cue cards given that he often looks like he is looking *above* his costars. He reminds me a lot of the similarly-clueless Paul Walker.
While the first quarter of the film is all live action, the remainder is heavily animated with some live action scenes mixed in. The problem with the animation of the characters-- the central backbone and selling point of the film--is so bad it's almost beyond description. For starters, the characters' movements are jerky and stilted. This is most agonizing to watch when the animated Bhagmati does a Shiva Tandava dance song. Faces show little expression and mouths move slightly to mimic words. It was obvious that corners were being cut constantly. Or the animators were lazy. Take your pick.
Why take the time to animate three separate figures when you can repeat the same figure three times?!
... or even seven times!
Perhaps the biggest annoyance is the lack of a coherent style of animation- all the characters look completely different in style and it's obvious they are drawn by different animators. In some cases, characters completely change animation style from one shot to the next!
These first two screencaps are about 5 seconds apart...
To be fair, not all of the animation is completely terrible. Many of the landscapes and buildings are rendered beautifully.
One thing that's hard to miss is the bust size of Bhagmati! I sensed some seriously repressed urges behind all the boobies in this film. And let's not forget her little bath disrobing and peep show for Qutb Shah in the kooky romantic song. How I wish someone would upload the songs from this film...
Showing off the boobies!
Quli Qutub Shah is perhaps the most obvious victim of the randomly changing animation styles.
So what does Hema Malini have to do with all of this, you ask? She shows up in one song only and does a rather tame, mostly-seated Kathak-based expressional "dance" routine. Unfortunately, she doesn't do much actual "dancing," and the camera seems more interested in zooming away to shots of poorly-animated dancers, so it's a big disappointment. Video here. Tabu, however, has some small, decent dance segments in the film including a short pseudo-classical-based practice performance that greatly excited me! I think that may be the only time I've seen Tabu actually attempt "classical" dance.
Hema's dance also showcased one of the few times the animated characters interact with the live ones. It's also seen a few other times in the film, though not nearly as much as I expected given the hype.
Ashok Kaul as the professor is giggle-inducing as he continually spouts pretentious wise-sounding lines and ends up being some sort of savior-figure philosophizing about reincarnation near the film's end. A director stepping in front of the camera often turns into an ego-massage exercise, and this film is no exception!
Before watching the film, I had never heard of Qutb Shah or Bhagmati, nor did I know that Shah founded the city of Hyderabad and built the Charminar mosque which I've seen in so many Telugu movies but never knew the name of! I'm sure all of this is probably common knowledge to many Indians, but it's news to me!
I'll end my post with the ending shot of the film. Fabulous! ;)