Blue -- Film Review

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Bottom Line: Torrid dance numbers, set to A.R. Rahman's soundtrack, are the best part of an otherwise watered-down undersea action adventure.

FREMONT, Calif. -- Pretty people suit up in skimpy swimsuits under the crystal blue waters of the Bahamas in India's most expensive ($21 million) film to date. Although "Blue" has been promoted aggressively for months, this year's big Diwali holiday release is up against an urban love story and an eagerly awaited big-name comedy that will likely leave "Blue's" revenues high and dry.

Aarav (Akshay Kumar), the playboy owner of a shipping company, and his business partner and best friend, Sagar (Sanjay Dutt), battle over whether to dive for the biggest secret cache of treasure in the Caribbean. When Sagar's estranged little brother (Zayed Khan) shows up fresh from Bangkok, trailed by a drug lord demanding $50 million, Aarav and Sagar decide to take the plunge and search for the sunken vessel.

Two love interests -- elegant former Miss Universe Lara Dutta and the ubiquitous Katrina Kaif -- catch the eye but aren't given much to do besides decorate the scenery: "Are you done talking? Now I'm going to let my gun talk!" Sagar tells Mona (Dutta) during a shootout.

There's no denying the dedication shown by "Blue's" cast and crew: Kumar had the film's title tattooed on the back of his neck; the 50-year-old Dutt, a chain-smoker and hard drinker, overcame a lung condition to shoot his underwater scenes; and Khan did his own motorcycle stunts including a scene shot on a moving train.

First-time director Anthony D'Souza has focused on making a visual, rather than emotional, impact. The story is straightforward and the characters clearly defined, though what happens to them is less than enthralling.

The film's strengths instead lie in its dazzling underwater choreography by Pete Zuccarini of "Pirates of the Caribbean" and the way Oscar-winning composer A.R. Rahman's music is used to accompany the action on-screen, including a disco number starring Kylie Minogue and a sensuous dance with Dutt and Dutta shot completely underwater (a Bollywood first).

But aside from "Blue's" gorgeous music and stars, the film is just about as compelling as watching an aquarium full of pretty fish.

Opened: Oct. 16 (Shemaroo)
Cast: Akshay Kumar, Sanjay Dutt, Lara Dutta, Zayed Khan, Rahul Dev, Katrina Kaif
Director: Anthony D'Souza
Screenwriters: Anthony D'Souza, Mayur Puri
Producer: Dhillin Mehta
Directors of photography: Laxman Uttekar, Pete Zuccarini
Choreography: Farah Khan, Ashley Lobo, Ahmed Khan
Production designer: Narendra Rahurikar
Music: A.R. Rahman
Action director: James Bomalick, R.P. Yadav
Editor: Shyam Salgaonkar
No rating, 115 minutes
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