Monday, December 5, 2016

Kahaani 2 review: "Kahaani is bogged down by expectations & predictability!!!"

Seems like the season of sequels hasn't ended as we had yet another one hitting the screens this weekend. Incidentally, it happened to be "Kahaani 2", the prequel of which had impressed both the critics & audience alike. Apart from a couple of guest appearances, it's been more than a year since Vidya Balan had graced the screens & since she will be playing the protagonist again, the expectations are sky high. So will the sequel be able to rise above or atleast equal the benchmark set by "Kahaani"???


As in the prequel, the story unfolds in Kolkata where Vidya Sinha (Vidya Balan) is a single parent to her handicapped daughter, Mini (Tunisha Sharma). Life moved along peacefully for the two, until Mini gets kidnapped & Vidya frantically goes in search of her after a call from the kidnapper. However, she meets with an accident & slips into a coma. Sub Inspector Indrajeet Singh (Arjun Rampal) is called in to investigate the case & is stumped by the fact that she looks like Durga Rani, a wanted criminal. So was it the same person or a dopple ganger & will Vidya wake up from her coma before it is too late???

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Sujoy Ghosh who had thrilled the audience four years back with "Kahaani" is back on the director's seat for the sequel. In between he had directed the Radhika Apte starrer "Ahalya", a short film which had wowed the audience with its thrilling script. In his latest venture as well, he has penned the script which takes up the disturbingly relevant topic of "child abuse", that very few Bollywood movies has explored. Armed with a credible thread, Sujoy executes the first half of the movie excellently as it captures the attention of the audience & steadily builds towards an even more riveting latter half. Unfortunately that's not what happens as the central theme gets sidelined & the movie culminates towards a predictable climax. The emotional trauma that the victim(s) goes through is barely touched upon & it is eventually turned into an attempt by Vidya to save her daughter in a rather passive manner unlike the prequel where she takes it upon herself to wreck havoc on her enemies. Tapan Basu has done a commendable job with the picturisation while Clinton Cereja's music blends with the movie.

Vidya Balan has rocked as the protagonist & plays both the parts with conviction though I cant help saying that the script couldnt do justice to her caliber. I would have to admit that I was pleasantly with Arjun Rampal's performance as he has done his part pretty well & is provided adequate screen space to showcase his skills. Jugal Hansraj has been in the wilderness for quite a while & makes a comeback with a decent performance, though he was reduced to a mundane villain in the climax. As for the rest, Kharaj Mukherjee, Tota Roy Chowdhury, Tunisha Sharma etc have done their parts adequately.

Verdict: The film will surely have a decent opening thanks to the response that the prequel had garnered. However, if the prequel had the word of mouth going in its favour in the subsequent weeks; that is unlikely to happen here which means the initial collections will be better but in the long run it will lag behind. The film had met the expectations in the first half, but in the latter half it spirals down to an ordinary thriller. In short, if you watch it without keeping the prequel as the benchmark, then you wont be disappointed!!!

Rating: 2.75/5

Regards...Ben

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Dear Zindagi review: "Dear Alia, you absolutely rocked!!!"

After a plethora of sequels in the past couple of weeks which more or less bordered on mediocrity (except for maybe "Force 2"), we finally have one which promises to keep the audience entertained. It happens to be Gauri Shinde's "Dear Zindagi" which has SRK & Alia Bhatt in the lead.  They were the first guests in this season of "Koffee With Karan" (who is also one of the producers) & from the lively vibe they shared, they would have dazzled in the movie as well. The promos has been quite catchy & the same applies to the songs also which has become chart busters. So did it live upto expectations???


Kiara (Alia Bhatt) is a talented upcoming cinematographer, who was on the lookout for a big break which would elevate her to the elite league. Even though her career was on the rise, her personal life seemed to be in turmoil as she was emotionally insecure. Kiara shared a rather cold relationship with her parents & also feared commitment calls which invariably meant she ended up hurting the guys with whom she was romantically linked. After one such breakup, Kiara headed back to her parents in Goa hoping that a change in environment will help to calm her nerves. But she found it hard to handle it by herself & sought the help of a psychiatrist, Dr Jehangir Khan aka Jug (SRK). How he helps her out & makes her embrace life is what the movie is about. 

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Gauri Shinde is a person who doesnt need much of an introduction even though she just has one movie to her credit which incidentally happened to be the commercially & critically acclaimed "English Vinglish". Just as in her previous venture, this time too she has taken up the responsibility of penning the script & screenplay. One of the emphatic message in "English Vinglish" was that children need to be more understanding about their parents shortcomings while over here, parents has to understand that their presence is essential for their children in their formative years.  However, it doesnt quite impress in the same manner as this seemed to be kinda superficial & didnt make us feel invested in the story. But there are quite a couple of sequences which were brilliant be it the one where Alia vents out her anger & frustrations at her family or the climax sequence where she breaks down in front of SRK. Laxman Utekar deserves praise for his impressive frames & the same applies to Amit Trivedi for his music which was quite endearing. 

A couple of days back, I happened to read an article in NDTV which said Anil Kapoor expressed confidence that if the awards weren't rigged then his daughter Sonam will sweep the best actress awards for her role in "Neerja. Well to be frank, I doubt anyone else stands a chance apart from Alia who was brilliant in "Udta Punjab" & has given a thumping performance here as well. It was a difficult character to portray coz of the various shades, but she has done it skillfully without overdoing it. Inspite of playing second fiddle to her character, SRK has done a fantastic job as he lighted up the screen with his charisma. Almost all of the supporting cast has done a fine job such as Ira Dubey, Yashaswini Dayama, Kunal Kapoor etc.

Verdict: From the promos itself, it's kinda evident that it is a type of movie which caters to the multiplex audience. But even for them as well, the lack of an engaging script will prove to be its downfall. In short, many would find the therapy sessions repetitive & would yearn for the exit but it is still worth a watch for Alia & SRK!!!

Rating: 2.75/5

Regards...Ben


Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Meenkuzhabum Manpaanayum review: "Apart from the title, everything else is distasteful!!!"

In this competitive world, having a successful career requires hard work & commitment. More often than not, children are influenced by their parents knowingly or unknowingly to pursue their profession. Well I can vouch for that as I was fascinated by the Medical profession primarily coz of my Dad. This is all the more prominent in the film industry where many of the star kids tend to try their hand in acting, some of whom might click while others dont. The latest to join the bandwagon is Jayaram's son Kalidas who is being launched in "Meenkuzhabum Manpaanayum". Even though the promos didnt impress me, I decided to check it out as Kalidas had impressed as a child artist. So was it a decision I would regret???


Annamalai (Prabhu) was a hard working & humble individual who was settled in Malaysia & owned the most popular restaurant in the region. Since he was a widower, the only person he could call as his family was his son, Karthi (Kalidas). Annamalai absolutely adored his son but once Karthi entered into the teenage years, he found his father's affection a bit too suffocating for his liking. Depressed by his son's nonchalant attitude, he shares his concerns with his friend who suggests that they meet up with his Guru who would be able to provide a solution. As expected, the Guru provides a solution but it was something that they had least anticipated.

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This is one of the lamest films that I had watched in recent times. This abysmal movie is the debut venture of Amudeshwar  who had also penned the script (oh!!! there was a script???). The fantasy element which was introduced into the plot wasn't novel as it has already been portrayed well in Malayalam "Ithihasa" (even though it was loosely based on "The Hot Chick") & a few other movies. Even then the director could have shown his creativity & taken it in an engaging manner as the thread did have the potential. None of the technical aspects deserves specific mention as almost all of them were forgettable be it the visuals or editing while the music by D Imman was average.

It was surprising to see Prabhu act in such a pathetic manner when he played the Karthik character, as it had no connection at all to the Karthik in the first half. On the other hand, Kalidas has done a decent job when he portrayed the Annamalai character though he was pretty artificial as Karthik. Ashna Zaveri was pathetic while Urvashi & Pooja Kumar were fine. Kamalahasan in a cameo barely had much to do, but he suited the character.

Verdict: It's really surprising as to how Jayaram agreed to his son being launched in this pedestrian venture. There is no doubt that the film will sink without a trace, thanks to its mediocrity, STR-Gautham combo & demonetization. In short, watch it & you might end up hating fish curry as well!!!

Rating: 1/5

Regards...Ben



Monday, November 14, 2016

Achcham Yenbadhu Madamaiyada review: "STR rediscovers form with the help of Gautham Menon!!!"

Whenever a discussion about the finest Tamil romantic movies in the past decade comes up, one which is likely to feature in almost all the lists will be "Vinnaithaandi Varuvaayaa". Directed by the maestro Gautham Menon, the movie featured the lead pairs Simbu & Trisha; with the former arguably at his best along with the legend A R Rahman's brilliant music. So when the news came that the trio were joining hands again after 6 years for "Achcham Yenbadhu Madamaiyada"  the expectations had gone through the roof. The songs are already chart busters & the trailer looked interesting, but will AYM match upto VTV, against which it is going to be invariably compared???


Simbu (his character name isn't revealed as it is expected to be a spoiler) is a jobless MBA graduate who viled away time with his friends. After a couple of failed encounters with love, Simbu falls for his sister's friend Leela (Manjima Mohan) who had come over to stay with their family. When he decides to go on a tour of South India on his bike with his buddies, Leela expresses her interest to go along with him. During the course of their journey, the two gets closer but before they could confess their love; they meet with an accident which changes their lives for ever.

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Gautham Menon had announced this movie in 2013, but due to various issues the film had to be postponed quite a number of times. This is pretty evident when we see Simbu who seem to have changed quite a bit physically over this period of time. It is a bilingual & made in Telugu as "Sahasam Swasaga Sagipo" with Naga Chaitanya in the lead. Scripted by Gautham himself, the film unfolds with the mention that it is inspired from a sequence in "The Godfather, though frankly speaking such a statement wasnt required as it wasnt so evident. Anywaz it is a well known fact that he is an expert when it comes to portraying romance on celluloid. The first half is about the romance which blossoms between the lead pairs which reminds us of VTV & there are a couple of subtle references about the movie as well. In the second half, Gautham transforms it into an action thriller which is unfortunately the weak point. The climax was hurried & it lacked logic considering the way it was built up. It seemed like Gautham wanted to play to the gallery for the STR fans & the heroine was relegated to the sidelines. 

On the technical side, A R Rahman rocked the show with his music & BGM. Almost all the tracks are fine though my pick among the lot was "Thalli Pogathey" not just because of the rendition by Sid Sriram , Aaryan Dinesh & Aparna but also for the manner it was picturised. The cinematography was top notch courtesy of Dan Macarthur & Dani Raymond. Even Anthony Gonsalves has done a fine job with the editing though the second half could have been better.

Apart from the mediocre "Vaalu" last year, it's been a while since Simbu have featured in a full length role & even longer when we choose one which endeared to the audience. From a personal point of view, VTV was definitely his best & with AYM, he is back in form which goes on to prove that in the hands of a talented director, Simbu can rock the screen. Manjima wasn't the original choice for the movie, however she fitted the part & did her role quite well. Baba Sehgal might have played his character a bit over the top, but he was an apt choice while Daniel Balaji was completely wasted. 

Verdict: With no big releases in the horizon, the film should have a free reign at the box office for the next few weeks. However, it might be affected by the demonetization which is being implemented especially in the single screens where online booking isnt available. AYM does have the Gautham Menon stamp on it which will endear to the audience & with STR along with Rahman in form as well, it is definitely worth a watch. 

Rating: 3/5

Regards...Ben

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Rock On 2 review: "Lacks the freshness & zing of the prequel!!!"

In the past week, the world has been rocked by two major news; Donald Trump being elected US President & the demonetization back home. PM Modi & his team came up with this bold decision in an effort to curb black money. Whether it would actually find the result that is expected remains to be seen especially with the launch of a higher denomination, but effort to rein in black money will ensure that our nation can rock on the world stage. Taking about rocking, this week we have "Rock on 2" hitting the screens which as the name suggests is a sequel.  More often than not, sequels fails to live upto expectations. Hmm...so will this also have a similar fate or will it rock the box office???


More than five years have passed since Magik has been disbanded & though all the members are still close buddies, each one was busy with their own lives. KD (Purab Kohli) who doubles up as the narrator made jingles for clients, something which he was not particularly happy with, while Joe (Arjun Rampal) was the owner of a happening club & also the judge of a music reality show. As for Adi (Farhan Akhtar), he was in Meghalaya helping out the natives hoping that it would help him overcome the guilt of being responsible for the death of a singer. Into their midst comes Jiah (Shraddha Kapoor), who has the talent to make it big but is bogged down by her father's hate for any genre of music apart from classical. Will she have the guts to stand up to her father to pursue her ambition & will Adi ever overcome his guilt???

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Almost 8 years have passed since "Rock On" had released & it did impress the audience at that time. However, the sequel which is directed by Shujaat Saudagar fails to tick the boxes that it had successfully managed to do so earlier. The biggest drawback with the film is that it doesnt connect with the audience inspite of the emotional drama that is happening between the characters. Abhishek Kapoor & Pubali Chaudhuri who had penned the script touches on the topic of neglect & troubles faced by the North Eastern people & the despise for fusion music by purists both of which came across as half baked. Even the music by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy didnt have the peppiness that was evident in the prequel. On the brighter side, Mark Koninckx has exquisitely picturised Shillong. 

On the performance side, all of them have done a decent job be it Farhan, Arjun or Purab. Shraddha who was the new addition to the team has done a fine job while Shashank Arora was wasted along with Kumud Mishra. 

Verdict: Just like the prequel, it is a movie which will have takers only in the multiplexes, But unlike "Rock On", this will not be able to satiate the audience neither in terms of the script nor the music. In short, a rather disappointing sequel!!!

Rating: 2/5

Regards...Ben




Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Shivaay review: "Desi version of Taken minus the intricate attention to details!!!"

Festivals like Diwali, Eid etc, are eagerly awaited by Bollywood hoping to cash in on the extended weekends. Due to this, film makers announce their releases usually a year in advance in order to avoid a tussle at the box-office. Even then at times, mud slinging has occurred between rival camps when both of them vie for the same dates. This year, Ajay Devgn had "Shivaay" hit the screens on the same day as "Ae Dil Hai Mushkil" & it had stirred a controversy prior to release when the "attention seeker" Kamaal Khan claimed that he was offered money by one camp to bad mouth the other (only God knows, whether anyone would seek this idiot's help). Anywaz this wasn't the first time that Ajay was involved in a controversy coz in 2012 as well, he claimed his "Son of Sardar" was denied screens in favour of "Jab Tak Hai Jaan". Well his movie came in second at that time, but will there be a shift in momentum this time around???


Shivaay (Ajay Devgn) is a Himalayan mountaineer who made a living arranging trekking expeditions. During one of the treks, he saves a Bulgarian female named Olga (Erika Kaar) from an avalanche which provides fodder for a romantic relation to develop between the two. Their relation leads to her being pregnant much to her dismay but she decides to bear the child for Shivaay. However, after the birth of their daughter, Gaura; she leaves her in the care of Shivaay & returns to Bulgaria. Gaura (Abigail Eames) was made to believe that her mother had passed away but she gets to know the truth & coax Shivaay into taking her to Bulgaria to meet her mother. Will she get to meet her after all they had no clue about her whereabouts???

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This is the second directorial venture of Ajay after "U, Me Aur Hum" which was pretty average & failed to impress the audience. Scripted by himself, the basic thread is definitely inspired from Liam Neeson's "Taken" & he has tried to showcase the emotional connect between the father & daughter in addition to the high octane stunt sequences. He is basically a one man army who vanquishes the enemies with his brawn while there doesnt seem to be any specific planning as everything seemed to work like clockwork. On the positive side, most of the stunts are well choreographed & gives the movie a racy feel in some portions. Aseem Bajaj has done an impressive job with the cinematography but the editing by Dharmendra Sharma was pathetic as it's damn long with numerous scenes that could have been easily chopped off. With regard to the music, Mithoon has done a decent job with the BGM.

The director in Ajay, seemed like he couldnt get enough of himself & ended up being present in almost all the scenes. He has done an earnest job as the protagonist & as always rocked in the action sequences. Abigail Eames might have been mute, but even then she performed reasonably. As for the rest, Sayesha Saigal & Erika Kaar was average while Girish Karnad was wasted.

Verdict: The box-office collection will be dependent on the single screens as the mutiplexes are likely to favour ADHM. The stunt sequences are the USP of the movie while the emotional drama wedged into the movie fails to connect with the audience. With everything at his disposal as he was both the director & producer, Ajay ought to have paid more attention to the story as it did have the potential to be a winner in all centres. In short, watch it for the action or else forget it!!!

Rating: 2.25/5

Regards...Ben

Monday, October 31, 2016

Kaashmora review: "Karthi rocks even as the horror comedy tests our patience!!!"

Diwali is here & it's that time of the year when the Tamil film industry goes into overdrive mode hoping to cash in on the festive mood. This year, the big ticket movie apart from "Kodi" that has graced the screen on the festival of lights is "Kaashmora". Directed by Gokul, this Karthi starrer had created interest in the public coz of the catchy promos which showed Karthi in two avatars that was as distinct as chalk & cheese. In one of the interviews, Gokul had mentioned it was more of a comedy movie with elements of fantasy added onto it. So was the director able to convey his vision effectively to the audience???


Kaashmora (Karthi), a fradulent exorcist along with his family made a living duping people in the name of dark spirits. As Kaashmora's fame travelled far & wide, he is approached by a corrupt & superstitious minister (Sharath Lohitashwa) to help him tide over the trying times that might come in his path. At around the same time, a man comes to seek Kaashmora's help to cleanse a haunted bungalow in Andhra. Little did he realise that he was going to confront a real ghost who wouldn't stop at anything to reach the spiritual world. 

As mentioned earlier, the project is helmed by Gokul who is said to have impressed the audience with his previous venture "Idharkuthane Aasaipattai Balakumara". Since I havent watched that, I dont have a point of reference with regard to his caliber which is a positive thing. The first half of the movie didn't have much substance apart from the gimmicks that Kaashmora's family employed to hoodwink the public which does give rise to some genuine hilarious moments. In the second half, we are introduced to the actual purpose of the movie & that's where it does manage to arrest our attention as it had a faint resemblance to "Baahubali" with Raj Nayak (Karthi) looking more like a cruel Katappa. Frankly speaking, the humour failed to produce the desired effect & the running time of close to 3 h doesn't help the cause as the audience wont be able to resist yawning. On the technical side, Om Prakash & Rajeevan deserves a pat on the back for a job well done as they had handled the cinematography & art direction respectively. Santhosh Narayanan's BGM was fine but I cant say the same about his music.

Karthi is the heart & soul of the movie and he has given a brilliant performance in both avatars. His portrayal of the evil warlord Raj Nayak was nothing short of spectacular & there is nothing between the two characters that makes you feel that it is done by the same person. So kudos to Karthi for that. Nayanthara rocked in the brief role with her elegance, poise & beauty while Vivek does manage to tickle the funny bone. As for the rest of the cast, they barely had anything to do.

Verdict: Being Diwali, the film is likely to make a killing at the box office & will emerge as Karthi's biggest hit. So the question naturally arises as to whether the movie is so good. Well Karthi was brilliant but the movie does bore for large parts until Raj Nayak & Nayan's part comes in. In short, the humour works but not for long, however the film is worth a watch for Karthi!!!

Rating: 2/5

Regards...Ben