Monday, January 21, 2008

Who's better? Deepika or Sonam

Never before have two Bollywood debutantes generated this much buzz about themselves.

Their histrionic abilities were being predicted and dissected with minute precision even before they gave us glimpses of their mettle. They were being pitted against each other in almost every department — be it looks, dancing abilities, sex appeal to even their chemistry with their respective co-stars. And why not? They both come from illustrious backgrounds. One from a well-respected filmi family and the other is the daughter of a former sportstar.

Yes, Sonam Kapoor and Deepika Padukone had a lot to live up to. So, now that their debut vehicles have docked at the box office, the question begging an answer now remains: How do they measure up against each other? A few hours after their movies Sawaariya and Om Shanti Om released, BT conducted a poll getting the vox populi on the fate of Bollywood’s newest czarinas and here’s presenting the results...

Has what it takes, but...

“Pathos, longing, tearful eyes that are forever searching and above all mystique — elements that make Sonam Kapoor’s introductory scene in Sawaariya one of the best ever!”

Most had this to say as far as first impressions of her go. But sadly, introductory scenes don’t maketh a film. With a crescendo already built up in her first scene, it could only be down, down, down for the rest of the two hours 10 minutes, yet Sonam valiantly tries and perseveres...

While her look is quite distinct in the flashback portions, where one sees her in more colourful garb vis-a-vis her ‘thousand shades on blue-meets-black’ look that is omnipresent throughout the rest of the film, the overall impression people had of her is of a character far older than the one she portrays.

But one thing that Sonam has is tremendous screen presence. You can’t seem to take your eyes off her. And the chemistry with both her co-stars, Ranbir Kapoor and Salman Khan is noteworthy.

Full marks for her oomph factor especially in a scene where a mere exposed leg drew in the oohs and ahhs far more than her amply revealed midriff and cleavage did! Her dialogue delivery too is flawless and voice modulation perfect for the simpering Sakina that she is made to portray.

Despite her two minute kathak performance, many felt that Sonam has what it takes to be a good dancer as she is full of poise and grace, like a young Waheeda Rehman — but only in the dancing department. This analogy reminds one of another point as far as Sonam’s body language goes. She has the same languorous, bordering-on-gawky gait that Tabu has.

Sadly for Sonam, it’s thumbs down in the emotions department. Her jerky performance in the emotional scenes is what one viewer described as “mind-numbingly irritating”. With a one dimensional character that Sanjay Leela Bhansali has etched for her, leaving no scope for versatility, Sonam does display an ease with comedy when given the chance.

Much ado about something!

She came, she acted and she certainly conquered. Deepika Padukone has made her stamp in the big, bad world of Bollywood. Despite her debut film Om Shanti Om not living up to its exceedingly high expectations, the debutante has managed to create some ripples (barring the ripples that Shah Rukh Khan’s six-pack generated!).

Bottomline: the model can act; she was definitely much better than Aishwarya Rai, Sushmita Sen and a host of other actresses when they started out. More significantly, she can emote (without looking fake or overacting). The scene where her character Shantipriya dies in the fire is commendable.

Playing a double role (of contrasting characters in two different generations) is also quite a challenge for a first-timer. But Deepika took on the dual role well. From the graceful and elegant actress of the seventies, Shantipriya, Deepika smoothly transformed into the bubbly, carefree Sandy of 2007. Deepika scores on versatility.

The first impression is the last impression, especially in the highly competitive world of Bollywood. And the doe-eyed beauty definitely has immense grace and poise on screen. There truly is an ajab si ada in her aankhen in the song Aankhon Mein Teri... And her long legs are hard to miss in the second half.

The pressure to prove her worth must have been immense, but Deepika has sailed through. She got a role where she makes the audience laugh, cry and dance with her, of course with lots of help from SRK.

And when a film is directed by choreographer Farah Khan, it’s just not possible that the heroine can have two left feet. She gets a six on ten for her dancing skills. Regarding sharing a chemistry with his co-stars, SRK had once said that he is now capable of even romancing a rock, but he didn’t have to try too hard here, because Deepika and he looked quite the couple on-screen.

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