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???

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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

Regards...Ben


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???
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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 of them both emotionally & physically. In short, wont hurt to give it a try!!!

Rating: 3/5

Regards...Ben





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???

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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

Regards...Ben

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???

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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

Regards...Ben




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. 

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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

Regards...Ben





Sunday, September 11, 2016

Iru Mughan review: "Script fails to do justice to Vikram's efforts!!!

Onam is just a couple of days away as the roads & shops are abuzz with people who is getting ready for the big day. Even the film industries work overtime during this time to make sure they release their movies on this auspicious occasion to ensure more footfalls. So even though Onam might be a celebration of Malayalis like us, even our Tamil brethren do release a couple of big banner movies. So this time we have Vikram's " Iru Mughan" gracing the screens whose slick trailer had excited the audience. Well it's a fact that more often than not Tamil movies garner more collections than Malayalam in Kerala during festive seasons. But this time, will it be able to stand up to the tough challenge posted by our Onam releases since most of them had received impressive reviews???


The Indian Embassy in Malaysia gets attacked by an elderly who seemed to have super-human powers & vanquishes the security personnel with utter disdain in a matter of minutes. From the crime scene, RAW managed to unearth a clue in the form of a 'love shaped tattoo" which hinted that the killer was recruited by "Love", a chemical genius who was hell bent on wreaking havoc in the world through the sale of his drugs to terrorists. The evil mastermind was believed to have been dead four years back, when RAW agents Akhilan (Vikram) & Meera (Nayanthara) had decimated his empire. However, in the process Meera who was also the wife of Akhilan lost her life & Akhilan decided to call quits to his career. Since Akhilan was well versed with the way Love operates, RAW coaxes him to come out of retirement & finish the latter for good. So what tricks will Love have up his sleeve this time around???

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This is the second endeavour of Anand Shankar after the crime thriller "Arima Nambi" which had received both critical and commercial acclaim. In his latest venture, he has opted for a sci-fi action genre which he had scripted as well. Coming to the positives of the movie, it is stylishly shot and kudos to R D Rajasekhar for his brilliant effort. Even the music by Harris Jayaraj though not awesome, was pretty good especially the "Halena" track & the BGM was fantastic not to forget the well choreographed action sequences. Nevertheless all of this bears no purpose, if the script & screenplay isn't sound & that's exactly the problem here. The basic thread seemed fine but the way it pans out it terms of characterization, twists & climax proves that not much thought has gone into it & leaves a lot of questions lingering in the mind of the audience. Due to this very shortcoming it doesnt keep us engaged & to add to it, the film runs for more than 150 mins.

Frankly speaking, there isnt much the artists could do if the characters aren't given freshness & depth by the writer. As always, Vikram has done a fantastic job & his effort in portraying the arch rivals was praise worthy making sure that Love wasnt reduced to a mockery of such genders. Akhilan didnt offer anything that we havent seen but Love was top notch with his effeminate body language, eccentricity & killer instincts. Nayanthara had a substantial role and she looked absolutely wow while Nithya Menon didnt have as much screen space. As for the rest, Thambi Ramaiah does tickle the funny bone at times while Nasser was wasted.

Verdict: As expected, the film will have a cracking opening though will it be able to sustain it remains a question (I don't believe so). The sci-fi inspite of being technically top notch suffers from a rather lazily written screenplay. In all likelihood, it wont pose as big a threat as expected to our Onam releases. In short, watch it for Vikram especially his Love avatar but whether it needs to be in a theatre or in the confines of your home is your call!!!

Rating; 2.25/5

Regards...Ben


Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Janatha Garage review: "Predictability takes centre stage even as Lalettan & Junior NTR impresses!!!"

It's been a long weekend thanks to the holiday that had popped up on Monday. Since there wasnt much to do apart from the usual chores, I had kept myself occupied catching up on some reading, brushing up my culinary skills & watching shows like Masterchef Australia. Incidentally while surfing the net, I happened to read that Lalettan's Telugu movie "Janatha Garage" had grossed 100 C in just 4 days & he was the first Malayalam star to enter the club. To be frank, the trailer didn't seem so awe-evoking but this news tempted me to check it out. So was it different from the staple Telugu masala???


Satyam (Lalettan) opens up a workshop known as Janatha Garage in Hyderabad where apart from repairing the vehicles, he also takes it upon himself to address the grievances of the people in need. In due time, he becomes the darling of the masses and a headache for the corrupt forces with the industrialist, Mukesh (Sachin Khedekar) being prominent among them. The price for Satyam's upright & noble character was paid with the lives of his brother, Shiva (Rahman) & sis-in-law. In order to prevent any harm coming over his nephew, Anand; Satyam leaves him in the care of Anand's uncle who takes him to Mumbai. With time, Anand (Junior NTR) grows up into an environmental activist & on one of his campaigns, he shuts down an illegal quarry run by Satyam's son Raghava (Unni Mukundan). This incident brings him faces to face with his uncle even though both were oblivious about their relation. Will they join forces & if so, at what cost will it be this time???

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Though I cant claim myself to be knowledgeable about Telugu movies, thanks to my senior & close buddy Rajendra K; I was kinda aware about the renowned hit makers in the region. One such prominent director is Koratala Siva who had churned out blockbusters such as Mahesh Babu's "Srimanthudu". Since Lalettan was involved in the project, just like numerous other fans I was also pretty curious to know about the script which was penned by Koratala himself. The film shows promise early on, but the story is so damn predictable that you can claim yourself to be a Mentalist by foretelling the story even before half an hour is over. Actually, it seems to be a variant of "Jilla" with Lalettan not as much as on the same footing as Junior NTR (which is understandable). But to be fair to the director, the film does have some impressive sequences such as the interaction between Lalettan & Junior NTR. Tirru deserves a word of praise for the visuals but the music by Devi Prasad was average while the editor, Rao barely did justice to his responsibility.

It might be a Junior NTR, but I cant help being based towards Lalettan & hence I would talk about him first. As expected, Lalettan have done utmost justice to his role though I am still confused as to why he chose to take up this project as the script didnt offer anything fresh. I guess maybe the opportunity to test uncharted territory & work with talented technicians might have inspired him. Being a Allu Arjun fan, I have barely watched any of Junior NTR's movies except for maybe one (I dont quite remember the name) in which he was pathetic. However, after seeing him in this; I would have to admit he does act pretty decently & impresses with his screen presence. Actually Lalettan & Junior NTR have lifted the quality of many sequences which would have fell flat otherwise. Apart from these two, there are numerous supporting artists; all of whom have done a decent job while the female leads barely had any significance apart from being eye candy & the villainy which is entrusted on Sachin Khedekar and Unni Mukundan barely had much substance. They should have gone for someone more imposing or spruced up their roles significantly. 

Verdict: Well the verdict is already out as it seems the public is lapping it up which is responsible for the humongous numbers. Frankly speaking, I dont understand what is the big deal about this movie. It's not mediocre but it doesnt offer anything that we haven't seen from Telugu movies. In short, watch it for Lalettan & Junior NTR with the awareness that it is typical Telugu masala!!!

Rating: 2.25/5

Regards...Ben