Banner:    Telebrands Entertainments India Pvt Ltd
Cast:    Sohail Khan, Sneha Ullal, Indra Kumar, Puneet Issar, Gulshan Grover, Kapil Dev
Direction:    Abhishek Kapoor
Production:    Poonam Khubani
Music:    Anand Raj Anand

More than a decade ago, Sohail Khan was planning to turn director with a script that would star Jeetendra’s nephew Abhishek Kapoor in the lead. The project didn’t materialize; Sohail made his directorial debut with AUZAAR [Salman Khan, Sanjay Kapoor], Abhishek too got launched as an actor by someone else. Now, Sohail and Abhishek team up in different roles: Sohail is the actor, Abhishek the director.

Let’s face it! On face value, ARYAN doesn’t generate curiosity, like one of those biggies around the corner. But the film, starring Sohail Khan in the lead and directed by actor turned director Abhishek Kapoor, takes you by complete surprise as the reels unfold.

If the promos of ARYAN give an impression that the film is all about boxing, you’re partly right. Boxing is an integral part of the storyline, but the film has much more to offer. It’s also about the relationship between a husband-wife and the ups and downs in their relationship.

In most cases, you do notice some raw edges when you watch a film directed by a first-timer. But Abhishek Kapoor seems to have done his homework pretty well and the deft handling of the subject matter deserves highest praise. In fact, his handling of the emotional, tense and thrilling moments in the film will leave you spellbound.

Without doubt, ARYAN is one of the most stylish films, with content to match!

Aryan [Sohail Khan] was born to fight. He is the college champ and under the tough training of Coach Ranveer Singh [Puneet Issar], he dreams of winning the nationals. His love, Neha [Sneha Ullal], is more than just his better half. She is his support system, his strength. He needs her to be around every time.

Life takes a turn and Aryan chooses to give up his dreams and marry his love instead. They have a kid and start living a common man’s life. Life moves on and so does Aryan. He takes up a job as a sports commentator, but life is never the same for him. He hits a low professionally, as well in his married life.

One day, his ex-coach asks him to get back into the ring and gives him the courage to face the world head on. Aryan decides to follow his dreams again, but he isn’t the man he used to be. His support system, his wife, has left him. Will Aryan be able to achieve his dreams?

The Sylvester Stallone starrer ROCKY has had its share of admirers in Bollywood. Years ago, Raj Sippy captured the sport on celluloid in BOXER and now, Abhishek Kapoor does so in ARYAN. While Sippy’s version of BOXER was well shot too, the film lacked a strong emotional side that would balance the combat in the penultimate reels. That’s where ARYAN really scores!

ARYAN starts off as a routine love story, of a rich girl and a poor guy, but the emotions come to the fore as the husband and wife go separate ways. And the rift in the relationship is very well depicted here.

Another highpoint of the film is its penultimate 30-minute climax fight, where the protagonist not only has to crush his opponent in the boxing ring, but by winning the match also earn respect in the eyes of his wife and son. The fight-to-finish boxing sequences are outstanding and a never-seen-before experience on the Hindi screen.img514/1857/aryan1612063qp8.jpg

Anand Raaj Anand’s music is soulful. ‘Jaaneman’ and ‘Chhuna Hai Aasman Ko’ are two tracks that stand out; the former for melody and the latter for the overpowering spirit. Ranjit Barot’s background score is electrifying. Cinematography [Neelabh Kaul] is topnotch. In fact, the cinematographer along with action co-ordinators Chris Anderson and Mahendra Verma and editors Renjit B. Vattakattu and Shakti Hasija deserve distinction marks for the penultimate fight. Something like this has rarely been seen on Bollywood screen before!

ARYAN gives ample scope to Sohail Khan to portray the gamut of emotions and Salman’s youngest brother proves that given an opportunity, he can rise to the occasion. He gets to portray three diverse shades in the film — lover boy, husband and frustrated man — and his performance stands out all through.

Sneha Ullal, who made her debut in LUCKY, shows improvement over her debut performance. However, she looks too young to carry off a mature role. Puneet Issar [excellent], Satish Shah [effective], Supriya Karnik [vicious to the core] and Inder Kumar [menacing to the hilt] compliment the lead characters. Farida Jalal is okay. Suved Lohia has the trappings of a natural actor. Fardeen Khan, in a special role, is first-rate.

On the whole, ARYAN is a well-made film that combines style and substance beautifully. Unfortunately, the box-office will sing a different tune altogether! Reasons: [i] Not-too-attractive face-value, [ii] Delayed release and [iii] Oppositions in KABUL EXPRESS this week and BHAGAM BHAG next week. To sum up, despite strong merits, ARYAN will be knocked down in the box-office ring!

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