THODA PYAAR THODA MAGIC. Director: Kunal Kohli. Players: Saif Ali Khan, Rani Mukherjee, Amisha Patel, Rishi Kapoor, Akshat Chopra, Shreya Sharma, Rachit Sidana, Ayushi Burman. Music: Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy. Theatrical Release: July 2008.

With the same leading cast, the same producers, and a similar child-centered plot to that of the very disappointing Ta Ra Rum Pum, Thoda Pyaar Thoda Magic seemed positioned to be a comparable flop. But Thoda Pyaar Thoda Magic surprises—and you actually leave the film with a smile on your face.

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Ranbeer Talwar (Khan) is a successful, yet stoic businessman who one day kills a couple in a car accident, leaving four orphaned children behind. An unprecedented court ruling makes Ranbeer their legal guardian. And so Vashisht, Iqbal, Aditi, and Avantika move into Ranbeer’s home, with only one motive in mind: to take revenge.

The film then takes on a magical element. When God (Kapoor) notices Ranbeer and the children living together miserably, he sends his favorite angel, Geeta (Mukherjee), to make them into a real family. A la Mary Poppins,Geeta arrives at the Talwar household with her bag full of tricks. What follows is a comic, heart-warming tale of how this unlikely bunch becomes a family.

TPTM is Mary Poppins meets Hum Hain Rahi Pyaar Ke. This wholesome film is a breath of fresh air—something you would actually not mind watching together with your children. Khan plays his character convincingly, and his metamorphosis into a “loving father” is gradual and subtly portrayed. Mukherjee’s entry song, “Bulbula,” filmed in the clouds of heaven, overdoes the innocence and playfulness of her character, but she maintains a light cheerfulness throughout the film, and doesn’t nettle you with her take on the magical angel. Patel, playing Khan’s rich, spoiled, designer-brand-clad bimbo girlfriend is annoying, but rightfully so. Her hot number, “Lazy Lamhe,” makes you wonder if the film is so “family friendly” after all. Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy’s music, while disappointing as an album, works for the film. The CGI in Bollywood cinema has vastly improved, and the song “Beetey Kal Se” is fun to watch for both adults and children.

Kohli gets highest accolades for the performances of the four children. It’s so easy to overdo the smart-alec comments of young children, and make their characters annoying enough that the audience no longer sympathizes with them. But Kohli has kept the true essence of today’s children: they are intelligent and know how to talk back, but at the end of the day, they are still just kids who want the love and attention of their parents—or in this case, their guardian. The young Sikh boy, Iqbal (Sidana), is particularly fantastic in his role.

TPTM is an entertaining children’s film, and a recommended one-time watch for all families.

Antara Bhardwaj is an independent filmmaker based in San Francisco.

 

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