Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Mirzya review: "Visual spectacle that fails to connect!!!"

October is upon us & it's time for the Puja holidays which is eagerly looked forward to by students & employees alike. This year, it so happened that the auspicious days fell on the first few working days which invariably meant a long weekend. Hoping to cash in on the extended holidays is Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra's "Mirzya" that had the tinsel town gushing over the making of the movie & the performances of the lead pair. Well it wasn't surprising after all you wouldn't possibly expect them to say anything negative about Harshvardhan Kapoor, son of Anil Kapoor who was making his debut in a movie which was being crafted by some of the best technicians. There is no doubt that the frames shown in the trailer was awe-inspiring & with Gulzar having written the script; the expectations of it being a classic was nigh high. So did it deliver what it promised???

The film opens with a warrior winning an archery competition with the prize being the hand of the princess. However, it didnt seem to impress the other members of the clan & they make it amply clear with their hostile demeanor. The warrior wasn't disturbed by the events that unfolded & elopes with the princess in the dark much to the chagrin of the others who follows in pursuit. In an alternate time period, which happens to be the present day; Munish & Suchi are inseparable friends who always looked out for each other. But when Suchi gets reprimanded at school when she tried to cover up for Munshi who had forgotten his assignment, little did they realize that the subsequent events that unfolded would change their lives forever. 


Rakeysh Omprakash is a director who needs no introduction especially with movies like "Rang De Basanti" & "Bhaag Milkha Bhaag" to his credit. In "Mirzya", he has been honoured with the services of renowned lyricist Gulzar who has penned the script with the legendary tale of Mirza Sahiban being the basic idea behind the thread. The highlight of the movie is undoubtedly the magnificent visuals by the Polish cinematographer, Pawel Dyllus who has captured the Leh-Ladakh landscape & the Rajashthani deserts in such a manner that it will leave us spell bound. Equally impressive was the soundtrack by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy which blends with the mood of the movie & elevates the experience especially in the warrior sequences. But there is a limit as to how much technical brilliance can help if it doesnt have a tale that connects with the audience & that's exactly the problem here. The format which is followed is pretty much similar to "Rang De Basanti", where we have two similar stories running parallel to each other in different time periods. While in "RDB", we root for the protagonists, over here we are more bothered as to when we can relieve ourselves from the boredom gifted by the movie.

Harshvardhan Kapoor looked awesome as the warrior but he didnt quite suit the character of Munish as he failed to convey the rawness & ruggedness that was evident in his appearance. Even Saiyami Kher didnt impress me with her histrionics or dialogue delivery. If at all there was someone who deserves a mention, then it has to be Anjali Patel while all the rest were either average or mediocre. 

Verdict: Apart from technical brilliance, there is hardly anything in the movie which makes it worth watching. The movie will have to depend solely on the multiplex audience for its investment but even they are likely to stay away due to the incoherent script. In short, dont bother!!!

Rating: 1.75/5


Sunday, October 2, 2016

MS Dhoni: The Untold Story review: "Engaging though many aspects especially the lows remains untold!!!"

Cricket, the game which holds the nation together & which is like a religion in the sub-continent holds an unfair advantage in the region much to the chagrin of lovers of other sports. Being a sports buff, I pretty much follow most of the sports with unbridled enthusiasm but Cricket remains my favourite though I admit we need to give as much support & respect to Champs of other sports. It might seem like an absolute waste of time with hardly anything happening for long periods of time to many of the detractors. But once you love the game, even Tests can be engrossing; maybe check out the Kolkata Test which has Kiwis on the ropes & you will understand what I mean. Over the years, we had many legends in the game & one name which will be added to that list by the time he hangs his boots will be our Captain Cool aka M S Dhoni. In recent times, we had a couple of biopics on sports icons such as Milkha, Mary Kom, Azhar etc . So when a biopic on MS was announced & that too by the talented Neeraj Pandey, I was eagerly waiting to check it out. Will it be able to give an insight on how Captain Cool thinks & handles the challenging situations???

As it is well known to most of the cricket lovers, MS hails from Ranchi & the movie is about his journey from that small town to the pinnacle of Indian cricket. Dhoni was the goalkeeper of his school & during one of the practise sessions , he catches the eyes of the school's cricketing coach, Bannerjee (Rajesh Sharma) who sees his potential as a wicket-keeper & coaxes him into taking up the game. His father, Pan Singh Dhoni (Anupam Kher) was the pump operator in MECON who just like any other father wanted his son to concentrate on his studies as he believed sports cannot become a form of reliable livelihood. However his sister Jayanti Gupta (Bhumika Chawla), mother & close buddies supported his passion for cricket. In due time, his exploits with the bat becomes known far & wide.But his promotion to the Indian team was still a distant dream. How he makes that big leap from Ranji to the most successful Indian Captain forms the subsequent portions of the movie.

Neeraj Pandey is a director who needs no introduction courtesy of his excellent movies "A Wednesday", "Special 26" & "Baby". Even his latest venture, he has done utmost justice as it emotionally connects with the audience due to the authenticity it imparts in its execution. The first half was fantastic as it captures the struggles of MS extremely well & also the influence of his friends & family who does whatever is possible from their side to support his growth as a player. But the second half was were the efforts of Neeraj Pandey & Dilip Jha as writers was disappointing as they chose to just eulogize the highs of Dhoni with absolutely no mention of the controversies be it IPL or equation with certain players with whom there is said to be animosity. Apart from a fleeting mention of the dropping of the seniors prior to the Commonwealth series in Australia, there is also no insight provided into what makes him Captain Cool in crunch situations or the dressing room interactions ; all of which was expected after all there was emphasis on the phrase "The Untold Story" in the title. Inspite of this, it's still a cracking movie which keeps us hooked till MS hoists that famous 6 into the stands & wins the World Cup. All the technical aspects were top notch be it Santhosh Thundiyil's visuals, the impressive CGI & catchy BGM. However, Shree Narayanan ought to have done a better job with the editing while the songs though fine proved to be speed breakers.

There is no doubt that the film has been well crafted but one of the prime reasons for that is the excellent performance of the artists who were aptly chosen,so kudos to the casting team for that. Sushant Singh was brilliant as MS in all aspects be it the calm restrained demeanor, his body language or typical Dhoni shots. As Dhoni said in one of the promotions, it seems Sushant is actually better than some of the Ranji players; I guess he is going to be the most sought after star in the next season of CCL. As for the rest, it is hard to pin-point as each one has done their part really well such as the ones who essayed the role of Dhoni's friends, Rajesh Sharma, Anupam Kher, Bhumika Chawla etc. Among the female leads, Disha Patani was fantastic while Kiara Advani as Sakshi was fine.

Verdict: The film has all the makings of a blockbuster not to mention Captain Cool has one of the biggest fan following in the country. Neeraj has showcased the journey of MS extremely well though he chose to focus on only the high points of MS's career which was kinda disappointing. But there is no denying that the film is both engaging & inspirational at the same time making it an enjoyable experience for the audience.In short, do check it out!!!

Rating: 3.5/5


Monday, September 26, 2016

Banjo review: "Credible thread which gets bogged down by its superficiality!!!"

"If music be the food of love, play on" is a famous quote from Shakespeare's Twelfth Night which emphasizes the importance of music in life. India is a nation that is blessed with diversity that is evident in all aspects be it language, cuisines, customs & even music. Musicians have always been held in high regard in our country irrespective of which nationality they belonged to which explains why many of the Pakistani artists have a huge fan base here. Even Chris Martin of Coldplay & current creative director of Global Citizen Concert announced at the event in New York last night that they will be performing in Mumbai in November. Coincidentally, this week we have a music based movie "Banjo" hitting the screens which focuses on the street musicians in Mumbai. But it remains to be seen whether it was indeed music to the ears or a migraine inducer???

Taraat (Riteish Deshmukh) is an extortionist for the local corporator who also doubled up as a banjo artist with his gang of friends for functions in their locality. Far from the slums of Mumbai in New York, Chris (Nargis Fakhri) an aspiring musician happens to listen to their music & gets mesmerized with it. She decides to seek them out to form a band & compose a couple of tracks for a music competition. However, tracking them down wasnt going to be easy & even if she did manage to, will she be able to inculcate discipline into these ruffians???


Since I am not so well versed with Marathi movies, I have to admit that I didnt know about Ravi Jadhav who is said to be a respectable name in the fraternity. He already has a couple of National Film Awards to his credit courtesy of his Marathi movies such as Natarang & Balgandharva. "Banjo" is his debut Bollywood venture & typical to his culture, he has chosen banjo music which is an indispensable part of festivals in Maharashtra. It has been scripted by Ravi along with Kapil Sawant & Nikhil Mehrotra and kudos to the trio for choosing a credible subject. However, they failed to delve into the details of it & chose to take a tried & tested path rather than offer anything unique. Vishal-Shekhar does impress with some of the tracks though it doesnt stick for long. 

Riteish has always been part of multi-starers, so it felt kinda different to see him shoulder a movie on his own. He has done a decent job as the protagonist  with his body language & lends credibility to the character. Dharmesh Yelande as Grease was fine along with Luke Kenny while Aditya Kumar & Ram Menon does manage to evoke a couple of chuckles. As for Nargis Fakhri, she yet again proved as to why she should not been acting.

Verdict: Apart from the Maharashtra circuit, the film will barely make its presence felt in the other regions. Riteish's credentials as a solo hero isnt great & his cause hasnt been helped with this venture also. Despite having a subject that could have been well exploited, it turned out to be a damp squid as it resorted to predictable formulas & cliches. In short, dont bother!!!

Rating: 2/5


Sunday, September 25, 2016

Parched review: "Impressive but the theatres will have a parched look!!!"

This week our nation was rocked by the ghastly attack in Uri which claimed the life of 17 of our brave soldiers. Even as our country grapple from constant militant attacks in Kashmir we have also been plagued with many other grave problems with injustice against women being prominent among them. If last week saw "Pink" address the problems that a lady faces in the urban society, then this week we have "Parched" addressing it from a rural background. This movie has been in the news for the much talked about intimate scenes between Adil Hussain & Radhika Apte which to be frank got the publicity that it needed prior to release. So will it be able to win over the box-office just as it did at the film festivals???

The film unfolds in a Rajasthani village where women were shackled by age old traditions in a patriarchal society. Rani (Tannishtha Chatterjee) was a young widow trying to get her teenage son married off to a beautiful bride in the neighbouring village even though it meant mortgaging whatever she had. She had two close buddies, one of them being Lajoo (Radhika Apte) & Bijli (Surveen Chawla), the lead erotic dancer & prostitute in the region. Both Rani & Lajoo were financially independent thanks to the small scale crafting industry that was set up in the village by Kishan (Sumeet Vyas) which irked many of the men in the village at the idea of women becoming bread earners in the family. However, each of them had problems of their own as Rani's son Gulab disliked his mother's choice & created ruckus with his loafer friends, Lajoo was repeatedly abused by her alcoholic husband for being infertile while Bijli had to stave off the challenge posed by a younger dancer in her troupe. But whatever might be their issues, they always confided in each other which enabled them to deal with it in the best way possible. So will these three friends ever manage to break off from the living hell they had subjected themselves to day in & day out???

Leena Yadav has helmed this project who already has "Shabd" & "Teen Patti" to her credit both of which were unconventional & failed to impress the audience. In her latest venture which she has scripted as well, she has touched upon various problems that women in rural areas still face which we are pretty much aware of. What actually makes the movie click is the manner in which the characterization of the female leads has been done & the relationship they share which allows them to discuss everything with each other unabashedly. As many of us are aware, the film initially came into the news primarily due to the love making sequence & other such similar instances which was brilliantly picturised by Academy Award Winner Russell Carpenter who has movies like "Titanic", "True Lies" etc to his credit. But I felt that some of the sequences didnt add much to the story be it the mystic lover's angle which seemed more like a class on Kamasutra which the West will lap up or the Shahrukh Khan phone calls. 

Surveen Chawla was the pick among the lot as she was brilliant as the spirited female who lights up the screen with her presence inspite of an undeniable sense of vulnerability behind her bold exterior. Radhika was a natural as the battered wife & essayed the love making scenes with utmost ease while Taanisha was spot on with her characterization as well. Lehar Khan who plays the role of Taanisha's daughter in-law was impressive as well along with Sumeet Vyas. The rest of the cast, have also done their parts aptly.

Verdict: As mentioned earlier, the erotic scenes will generate a certain deal of interest in the movie but the off-beat content will not be to the liking of the majority. The film definitely deserves an audience as it does have a decent storyline which speaks about the travails of three women that are inflicted on them both emotionally & physically. In short, wont hurt to give it a try!!!

Rating: 3/5


Sunday, September 18, 2016

Pink review: "Brilliant take on the plight of independent women due to prejudices!!!"

In recent years, one of the most oft seen headline in the media is the atrocities happening against our women in various parts of the country. It's an undeniable fact that just like every nation, even we do have our shortcomings with the primary one being prejudistic misconceptions. Like it or not, an independent female is invariably looked upon with a suspicious eye by many especially if she is living life on her own terms away from her family. This week we have Aniruddha Roy's "Pink" which highlights on this issue. The trailer was awesome & had all the makings of being a damn good film. But my doubt was whether it will turn out to be too preachy towards the end rather than being blunt???

Minal Arora (Taapsee Pannu), Falak Ali (Kirti Kulhari) & Andrea (Andrea Tariang) were independent professionals who stayed together in the South Delhi region. On one of the weekends, they decided to attend a rock concert & by the end of it, they happened to befriend a couple of guys through a mutual friend. On the invitation of one of the guys, Rajveer (Angad Bedi); who hailed from an influential family they decided to spent some time with them over food & drinks in his resort. But things spiraled out of control as Rajveer was inflicted a severe blow on his head with a bottle by Minal when the former tried to molest her. This enrages the guys & resolves to make their lives a living hell or in their terms " ladkiyon ki aukat". Left with no option, the girls decide to take the legal route but it was much tougher than they had anticipated. So will their lawyer Deepak Sehgal (Amitabh Bachchan) be able to win it for them without their names being tarnished for no fault of theirs???


This powerful movie is the directorial debut of Aniruddha Roy who has made a name for himself in the Bengal film industry. The script by Ritesh Shah is so damn impactful & Aniruddha has executed it so brilliantly on celluloid that it does make us realise the amount of hardships many of the women face on a daily basis due to the prejudistic mindset of many of the people. If the first half focused on how they are crushed emotionally, the latter half is a captivating court room drama. It runs close to 140 mins but it doesnt make us squirm in our seats. All the technical aspects were in sync with the mood of the movie be it Abhik's visuals or Shantanu Moitra & Anupam Roy's music. 

There isnt a single actor who hasnt given his best & kudos to the casting team for having selected such a team. Coming to the girls, I have never considered Taapsee a competent actress coz she was horrible in the few movies that I had seen such as "Doubles", "Aarambham" etc except for "Baby", But she totally changed my view with her brilliant performance here as the bold female who breaks down with time. Kirti Kulhari was the best I felt especially in the sequences where she explodes on the phone & in the court room where she turns the tables on the prosecution. Equally fantastic was Andrea, who might not have as many lines but whose body language was spot on exuding vulnerability. What do I say about Big B??? he just amazes us with his screen presence & reverberating baritone, all the while making sure that he doesn't go overboard. Among the guys, Vijay Varma steals the show whenever he is on focus with his callous nature towards women while Angad Bedi fitted the bill of the spoilt brat. A special word of praise for Piyush Mishra as the prosecutor whose cold hearted attitude really irritates us along with Dhritimann Chatterjee as the kind hearted & empathetic judge. 

Verdict: It might not have the glitz & glamour of a big budget movie, but it's hard hitting realistic movies like these that gives us a whole new experience. In all probability, it should have the word of mouth going in its favour & it truly deserves all the accolades coming its way. I just hope that each one of us watch this as it is relevant to our times & atleast make an effort to change if such prejudices are harboured. As the movie says "Her attire, relationships & sexual life shouldnt be used as yardsticks of her morality. She is the master of her own will & if she says NO...it's a clear NO". For me, this movie is a YES...AN EMPHATIC YES...SO DONT MISS IT!!!

Rating: 4.5/5


Monday, September 12, 2016

Baar Baar Dekho review: "Ek Baar is sufficient!!!"

After the disappointment of  "Freaky Ali",  I was hesitant as to whether I should watch "Baar Baar Dekho" though I have to admit I did like the trailer which seemed interesting. The lead pair i.e Siddharth Malhotra & Katrina Kaif made a cute couple & the movie seemed to be a take on relationships with Farhan Akhtar & Karan Johar involved in it as producers. With the US Open Final wrapped up much quickly than expected by Stan The Man, I didnt have much to do & hence decided to check out the flick.

Jai (Siddharth) is a mathematician who was recently offered a position in Cambridge to do research on vedic mathematics. He had a steady relationship with his childhood sweetheart Diya (Katrina) but when she expresses her desire to take their relation to the next level & proposes to him, he develops cold feet. Eventually he blurts out his reluctance to tie the knot on the eve of their marriage which breaks Diya's heart. He finally sleeps off wondering what the next day lay in store for him after this sudden change of events. Surprisingly, he wakes up only to realise that it's been a couple of days since they got married though he doesnt recollect any of it happening. The very same thing happens yet again the next day but this time he was almost 10 years into the future. Was it just a dream or did he actually suffer from memory loss & why was this happening to him???


From the manner the film pans out, there is an undeniable similarity to "The Time Traveller's Wife" & also seems to be inspired from "A Christmas Carol". This might be the debut venture of Nitya Mehra but she comes with a great deal of experience having worked as assistant in projects like "Life of Pi", "The Namesake" etc. It has been scripted by Sri Rao with the screenplay drafted by himself & Nitya. The storyline as such is fine but the execution wasnt quite upto the mark especially for sequences showcasing the distant future. There is no moral preaching here which was the problem with movies that dealt with marital discord except for a subtle message that the small things in life is what actually matters. On the technical side, Ravi K Chandran impresses with his visuals while the music tracks done by a host of individuals was soothing to the ears. The make up department ought to have done a much better job as this seems like the efforts of some paltry budgeted drama company.

Both Siddharth Malhotra & Katrina Kaif have done reasonably well as the protagonists especially when the movie focused on their present ages. But the older they became, both of them struggled to portray it convincingly as it appeared more like they just wore make up with no significant change in body language. It's been a while since Sarika had appeared on screen & she has done a fine job along with Rajit Kapur. As for the rest such as Ram Kapoor, Sayani Gupta, Taaha Shah etc, they have done their parts adequately.

Verdict: The movie will surely have a decent opening in the multiplexes though it will suffer in the single screens. However, realistically speaking I dont think this will be able to accomplish much apart from break even as it's a type of movie which wont be palatable to many. In short, it wont hurt to watch it ek baar !!!

Rating: 2.5/5


Freaky Ali review: "Expecting creativity from a Sohail production is freakish!!!"

Apart from the Onam releases, the Bollywood movies that had hit the screens this weekend were "Baar Baar Dekho" & "Freaky Ali". I wouldn't have even bothered watching the latter one as it was a Sohail Khan production which invariably lacks any kind of sensibility or logic. However, since Nawazuddin Siddiqui was playing the lead & it belonged to the sports genre (which is incidentally one of my fav); I decided to check it out. So was it a wise decision???

Ali (Nawazuddin) was from the ghetto who struggled to make a livelihood as none of his modest jobs failed to strike gold. After his latest venture also bit the dust, he decided to team up with his buddy Maqsood (Arbaaz Khan) as an extortion debt collector for the local thug. During one such collection drive, they ended up at a golf course where the industrialist was struggling to make putts even after repeated efforts. This makes Ali to mock at him which infuriates the guy & asks him to put his words into action.  Incidentally, Ali manages to putt the balls with ease which catches the eye of the caddy, Kishan (Asif Basra) who also happened to be Ali's family friend. Seeing his talent, Kishan coaxes Ali to allow him to be his trainer with their first target being to get selected into the Golf Tour. So how Ali rises through the ranks forms the crux of the story. 


Inspired from Adam Sandler's "Happy Gilmore" which was a hilarious comedy, this one barely managed to draw a couple of chuckles. Scripted by Sohail Khan & Raaj Shaandilya, there isnt anything which could be said to be original or atleast treated in a refreshing manner. The argument of class disparity that the Champion places when Ali takes up the sport, jokes on obesity, misogyny, etc all reeks of influence from movies of a bygone decade. None of the technical aspects impresses & we are left flabbergasted as to how talented artists like Nawazuddin & Seema Biswas agreed to be part of this project. 

There isnt much that Nawazuddin could do especially when the screenplay is downright mediocre. To be frank, he didnt quite seem the talented golfer that he is made to appear while brother's love might have made Arbaaz take up his role. Asif Basra has done a fine job, Jas Arora seems more like a veteran rather than a Champion, Seema Biswas hams it up royally & Amy Jackson (oh..she was there???) well nothing apart from flash smiles which is the most she has ability for.

Verdict: Unless people think in the same manner as I did, there is very less chance that this will make any tremor at the box office. With a screenplay as pathetic as this, there is not going to be any word of mouth going in its favour. In short, don't even bother watching!!!

Rating: 1.75/5