PRINCE. Director: Kookie Gulati. Players: Vivek Oberoi, Nandana Sen, Aruna Shields, Niroo Singh, Sanjay Kapoor, Isaiah.  Music: Sachin Gupta. Theatrical Release (Tips Films).

Prince movie poster with Vivek Oberoi

Prince movie poster with Vivek Oberoi

The hi-tech/sci-fi thriller domain within Hindi films has always been catch-as-catch-can real estate. For everyDhoom, Don (2008), Koi Mil Gaya and Krrish succeeding at the box office, there is a Jaane Kya Hoga (about human cloning!), Dastak or a bunch of even lesser known titles that miss audience triangulation. To be good, a techie entry must effortlessly assail cool gadgetry, and inspire periodic ooh-and-aah special effects without compromising the plot’s core good vs. evil paradigm. Prince is that rare genre-busting movie that conjures up decent technical wizardry without losing its sense of purpose (or even higher purpose, for that matter). For the record, theMatrix franchise cemented the image of a black-leather clad, stoic protagonist who has powers beyond the grasp of average shoppers and is resourcefully cunning when it comes to outsmarting either one or overwhelming legions of morally corrupt villains. Prince fits that motif like hand in glove. Waking from a deep slumber, a brawny guy (Oberoi) learns that he has been shot and that he has lost all memory (shades of The Bourne Identity, anyone?) His efforts to regain his identity—soon learning that he is indeed the arch-crime fighter Prince—lead him to a villain’s nest of vipers. Everyone wants the same thing, a micro-chip that has the software to tap and store nothing short of a full human memory—the same chip, incidentally, that also holds Prince’s memory.

The somewhat contrived story, the spotty acting in parts, and a gang of bad guys, who sport mean looking guns and yet are unable to nail their moving motorcycle-thief target from what seems like a few feet away, are salvaged by a few interesting elements. Newbie filmmaker Gulati’s film gets a decent bounce from a huge marketing effort by the music label Tips, who produced the film. Prince also benefits from the curiosity surrounding the Bond-like hero romancing three different beauties (Sen, Shields, and Singh) all claiming to be Prince’s lost love. There is also the dastardly Saarang (Isaiah), the perfect embodiment of B-film villainy.

What should also not be dismissed is the hot combo of music-man Sachin Gupta teaming up with Rawalpindi-based and suddenly-everywhere singer Atif Aslam. Here the cross-border twosome create  “O Mere Khuda,” and “Aa Bhi Ja Sanam.” Aslam has respectable range and has carved a niche in a very short time.

Finally, there is the stunning South African backdrop. With high waterfalls, sub-tropical deserts and the thunderous shoreline around the Cape, Prince could be a South African video postcard with a Mumbai postmark. Going against the current—no studio dares sizable releases against the April/May tide of IPL cricket matches around the sub-continent—Prince managed a surprisingly decent opening in India. According to buzz, Gulati is already planning a sequel. If one doesn’t expect earth-shattering revelations, Prince is valiantly inviting.

Entertainment Quotient (EQ): B

Globe trekker, aesthete, photographer, ski bum, film buff, and commentator Aniruddh Chawda writes from Milwaukee.

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