Saturday, 19 December 2015


Bottomline : On the face of it, Bajirao Mastani appears to be an extravagant celebration of love with skilfully mounted set pieces that's characteristic of a Sanjay Leela Bhansali film. Scratch that surface a bit and you'll realise how hollow the entire affair is. What could have been an epic love saga ultimately turns out to be an epic misfire.

Review : There was a time when SLB used to be a masterful filmmaker, never letting art get in the way of telling an engaging story. Khamoshi and Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam are evidence enough to corroborate my above stated views. But, of late, there has been a sense of disappointment in the fact that his movies associate filmmaking with elaborate dance pieces, excessive indulgence and an utter disregard for believable and relatable characters or situations that would strike a chord with an average viewer. Bajirao Mastani, unfortunately, is plagued by these same issues. It shares the same problems as faced with Bombay Velvet; you're left longing for more soul.

That's a shame because BM starts off promisingly enough with a powerful introduction scene for Ranveer Singh, followed by a nicely shot war sequence leading to events that herald the onset of the bittersweet romance between its titular characters. So far, so good. From here on, BM pretty much turns into a snoozefest where conversations between the leads (constantly referring to the sky, moon and blah blah) seem too out of place to evoke any kind of emotion. Perhaps, SLB could have taken cue from Ashutosh Gowarikar's magnificent and far-superior Jodha Akbar where he deftly blends rage on a battlefield with passionate love between its leads. In BM, however, SLB neither successfully establishes a heartfelt love story nor gives us many moments of tension in those war scenes.

All said and done, BM still boasts of beautifully choreographed and performed songs that are a treat to watch and it would be rather unbecoming of me to belittle the efforts gone into conceiving them on screen. Unfortunately, even the performances by the three leads could not help shake off the feeling that the film was more showy than sensitive.

I'm going with 2.5/5 for Bajirao Mastani. How I wished the makers invested more in scripting the film than staging it. 

Sunday, 29 November 2015


Bottomline : It is surprising that a film which celebrates the craft of storytelling is let down by a script that feels too familiar and lacks the emotional depth to connect well with the audience. It may be experimental in terms of treatment, but it is the poor storyline and inconsistent tone that hurts the film more than anything else.

Review; It's high time director Imtiaz Ali handed over the writing department of his films to someone who can go past the "follow your dreams" zone and come up with something more genuine and imaginative. In the past, Bollywood has delivered quite a few films on the same lines, like Udaan (which I consider the best film made till date), Wake Up Sid, Yeh Jawani Hain Deewani, etc. Imtiaz himself has recycled ideas from his phenomenal Jab We Met, but the warmth and freshness of that film are sorely lacking here. He tries his best to keep things from getting predictable by adopting a non-linear narrative, as he did with Rockstar, but when the fundamental ingredient called story is bland, the final dish turns out to be inevitably bland. 

Don't get me wrong, Tamasha is not a bad film. It has a lot going for it, like A.R.Rahman's superb soundtrack and background score, superlative performances by the principal cast and the eye-watering photography of the islands of Corsica. Imtiaz, on more than one occasions, treats some nice emotional scenes with just the right dose of maturity and even infuses humour to keep the proceedings light and breezy. But when you realise such a talented bunch of people is associated with the film, Tamasha feels like a wasted opportunity.

Alas, it is the director's incredible knack to bring out the best in actors that is conspicuous throughout the film. Ranbir, a solid actor in great form, is the real show-stealer here. He oozes sincerity and affection for a character he's played many times before, and yet pulls it off so convincingly that you can't help pity he's restricted to perform under the ambit of the dull script. Deepika is pretty fabulous as well. Take that scene in the second half where she begs for forgiveness from Ranbir and he stubbornly rushes out of the situation. It's beautifully directed and acted, and the film needed a lot more of such moments to make it a memorable experience. 

I'm going with 2.5/5 for Tamasha. It's a pretty watchable film, though it packs in more disappointments than surprises. I'm eagerly waiting for the next film when Ranbir is not left short changed by a bad script. 

Friday, 23 October 2015


Bottomline : Creating their own world of comic-book characters, whimsical situations and highly stylised set pieces, the makers of Shaandaar have taken insanity to a different level altogether that might even put an Anees Bazmee film to shame. Yet, if you're willing to overlook the silly and predictable story, there is good fun to be had in this two and a half hours of inspired lunacy.

Review: Let me start off by saying Shaandaar is the kind of film you'll either guiltily embrace or passionately despise. Imagine a world where people get into a private jet and fly miles away from life's problems, or a world where the domineering head of the family sneezes to an instant death, or a place where a bunch of characters get high over mushrooms and pot brownies and start doing the weirdest things possible. If all this seems absurd, then Shaandaar has much more in store for you. It is de facto a combination of the traits of the two production houses of the film; the elaborate set pieces of Dharma (run by KJo) and the quirkiness associated with the Phantoms (of which director Vikas Bahl is a part). However, even amidst this ludicrosity, Vikas Bahl, of Queen fame, does a good job of giving us some charming moments and genuinely funny scenes and credit must go to the actors who seem to be having a great time. It is a treat to watch the father-son pair quibble over Shahid's romantic overtures towards Alia and Pankaj Kapoor, as usual, is terrific as the person who is Nana Patekar from outside and Amol Palekar from the inside. Shahid and Alia share a warm chemistry that's easy on the eyes and Amit Trivedi's soundtrack is as unconventional (though not among his best works) as Vikas's hand at exaggerated comedy. Agreed, this is a far-from-perfect film and there are bizarre moments that stick out like a sore thumb, but Shaandaar manages to keep you engaged till the end even as madness and mayhem break loose, especially in the last 15 minutes of the film. This can, in fact, be termed as a zanier version of Dil Dhadakne Do.

I'm going with 3/5 for Shaandaar. It's nowhere close to the unabashedly hilarious Tanu Weds Manu Returns, but it has enough fun and froth to keep it afloat. If you don't mind watching a film where the actors seem to perform on their own and not to a script, then you may as well give Shaandaar a chance. 

Saturday, 3 October 2015


Bottomline : Shot in a docudrama fashion, Talvar, directed by Meghna Gulzar, is both riveting and equally disturbing at the same time. It cleverly exposes the flawed legal system while driving home the point that truth can, sometimes, be stranger than fiction.

Review: Bollywood had hit rock bottom in the last few weeks with big flicks like Katti Batti, Hero, Welcome Back bringing disgrace to an industry already accused of portraying banal cliches film after film. Finally, Vishal Bharadwaj and Meghna Gulzar have come to its rescue with Talvar, a realistic and inherently dramatic account of the Aarushi Talvar double murder case in 2008 which shook the roots of the middle class. Meticulously researched and written by Vishal Bharadwaj, Talvar points fingers at many but never affirmatively concludes how the murder took place. It could have easily taken the garb of a crowd-pleaser by offering more convenient solutions but instead digs deep into the actual facts and study of the complex emotions everyone attached to the case goes through. All this, coupled with a haunting background score (Again, by Vishal Bharadwaj), crackling dialogue (especially in the final act) and superlative performances make for an engaging piece of cinema which otherwise could have been quite a tedious affair. It is exciting to see how Irrfan unravels the mystery thread by thread to finally become convinced that the parents are innocent and it is equally disturbing to see how the people involved in a dirty political nexus act steely to prove otherwise. To be frank, the film feels longer than its two-hour running time and also gets repetitive on certain occasions, but these are just minute hiccups in a film which is gripping for most part.

However, it is the pitch-perfect casting which breathes life into this dark film. From being shocked at the demise of their daughter to being helpless when accused of killing her, Neeraj Kabi and Konkona Sen Sharma are brilliant. All the sidekicks, including the cop who rushes to the conclude it is a case of honour killing, the unrelenting helper in Kabi's clinic and many others in smaller roles strike all the right notes and succeed in keeping the proceedings as natural as possible. But the star of Talvar, undoubtedly, is Irrfan Khan. Sporting the role of an investigating officer who's hooked to the 'snakes" game on his phone even as the father breaks down during an interrogation session, Irrfan steals every scene he is in to deliver a performance that is nothing short of terrific.

I'm going with 3.5/5 for Talvar. Unlike the absurdly melodramatic "No one killed Jessica", this one is a brave, uncompromised film that is worthy of your time.

Tuesday, 21 July 2015


Bottom line : The aptly and powerfully titled Bajrangi Bhaijaan, with all its flaws and melodrama, still stands as a film with noble intentions with its heart in the right place and a terrific performance by the cute little Harshali Malhotra.

Review : Director Kabir Khan, like all his films so far, has yet again set his story against the strained relations between India and Pakistan. But Bajrangi Bhaijaan, amongst other sub-plots, is a tale of love which drives an Indian to go the full hog and send a displaced Pakistani girl back to her home soil.

The loopholes in the script are too many and while it is evident that the director seems hell bent on squeezing a lump out of your throat, he goes overboard in the last 5 minutes of the film in a scene which bears resemblance to the far-superior Taare Zameen Par. Perhaps, it wouldn't have done Kabir Khan any harm to learn a few lessons from Aamir Khan. But where Kabir Khan scores high is the genuinely sweet and heart-warming bond the two protagonists, Bajrangi and Shahida, share. Your heart pours out just to the sight of Bajrangi carrying Shahida on his shoulders like a fatherly figure and this is the only reason why Bajrangi Bhaijaan is fun to watch, even if in parts.

Salman Khan has delivered a calculated and measured performance minus the shirt-opening and mindless action scenes, which surprisingly comes off as pretty effective. Nawazuddin Siddiqui is brilliant and has yet again shown how to hold one's own even against a man of Salman Khan's stature. The three of them together give us some of the best moments of the film. The real star of the film, however, is Harshali Malhotra. She conveys volumes through her eyes without ever uttering a word. And while it is undoubtedly hard to resist her cuteness, one cannot deny she is a good actor too.

 I'm going with 3/5 for Bajrangi Bhaijaan. It is a far-from-perfect film which despite its far-fetched scenarios, works to a certain extent because of its inherent sincerity. Make sure you carry a box of tissue papers along for the film.

Monday, 13 July 2015


Bottomline : Beautifully shot, well acted and competently directed, Rajamouli's latest flick adds yet another feather to his cap of respectable films. And with Bahubali, he takes Telugu cinema to a different level altogether. A crowd-pleaser all the way!

Review: Right from the opening scene, it becomes conspicuous that you're in for a visual treat. From the tropical landscapes of Avatar to the battlefield of the Lord of the Rings, Bahubali may appear similar to those films but Rajamouli keeps it original and riveting for most part. It's amazing to see how he manages to strike a chord with the viewers even in the most cliched of scenes we are used to seeing in films nowadays. He doesn't weigh down the film by heavy-handed direction and keeps it engaging throughout by a masterful balance between the classy and massy elements. The story was never really the strength of the film but he still rises up to the Herculean task of creating something extraordinary out of the ordinary and succeeds to a great extent. Take that scene prior to intermission, where a mammoth statue of Rana is being erected as the people exuberantly chant Bahubali's name. It's the film's best directed scene where a feverish energy transpires through the screen and I wished I knew how to whistle out loud. To be honest, the film has its share of obstacles. The romantic track between Prabhas and Tamannah is the film's weakest link, not least because of Tamannah's cartoonish performance.

Prabhas and Rana have unmatchable personalities that nicely complement their acting skills and it's hard to imagine anybody else in their shoes. Just watch how they steal the show during the roughly 30-minute battle-scene in the film's climax. Other actors like Anushka and Ramya Krishnan do a fine job too in small but effective roles.

I'm going with 3.5/5 and two big thumbs up for Bahubali. For the director's sheer conviction and vision, he deserves a huge round of applause. It's a film you really shouldn't miss. 

Saturday, 20 June 2015


Bottom line : An unforgivably long and tiring film which rides solely on the back of its elaborately choreographed dance sequences accompanied by uninspired and amateurish film-making. So while the body movements are a treat to watch ( amplified by 3D), the same can't be said about the acting muscles.

Review: Given the fact that director Remo De Souza was at the helm of torturous films like F.A.L.T.U and ABCD, one would not go in for ABCD 2 expecting subtlety of any kind, either in direction or acting. The audience has a fair idea of what's in store for them. But the question that begs to be asked is for how long can one enjoy dance sans an engaging plot or even mediocre acting. What is inflicted on us is, instead, a Chak De India-ish plot ( though it would be a crime to take both names in the same breath), laughable dialogue and over-the-top drama. It takes special kind of talent to make the usually dependable Varun Dhawan appear foolish with the same expression borne on his face throughout the film. Known to have an infectious energy on screen, Varun instead appears infected, not least because of the indifference on part of the director. 

Frankly speaking, there is merit to be found even amidst such ludicrosity. At least 3 dance pieces are brilliantly choreographed, including the opening sequence and the "Bezubaan Phir Se" song. Shraddha Kapoor pleasantly surprises with her hidden dancing talent and she's particularly amazing in 'Sun Saathiya' song. All dancers display an élan on stage that's hard to miss and that's the only reason why ABCD 2 is not completely unwatchable. Sachin-Jigar have come up with a pretty hummable score that's way better than the previous film. ( The makers have shown us some mercy in doing away with a role for the pesky, rotund Ganesh Acharya ).

I'm going with 2/5 and an average rating, at best, for ABCD 2. If you're a die-hard fan of hip-hop, you may give it a try. For others, Stay Away! 

Monday, 25 May 2015


Bottomline: A crazily humorous roller coaster ride that sucks you into its world from the word go with its sharp, witty dialogue and terrific performances despite having a plot that is hardly unpredictable or novel. It has a contagious charm that's hard to describe and I can't recollect the last time I laughed so hard in a film.

Review : I have to admit that I wasn't particularly fascinated by Tanu weds Manu (first part), not least because it had weird characters and a love story which you could not root much for. But much like this month's Piku, the biggest strength of Tanu weds Manu returns lies in its writing. While the former gave us an insight into Bengali traits and emotions, the latter revels in unabashed humour with sparkling and amusing dialogues that form its backbone. It treads a familiar path in terms of story but it is the treatment which distinguishes it from your usual, predictable love story. So, while the last-minute turbulence the confused bridegroom goes through on the day of marriage is common, the bride's questioning him whether he's prepared or not for the marriage in the sixth circumambulation is something funny. There are many such instances when even a tepid scene is redeemed by sharp comic timing and brilliant acting. This sequel is, undoubtedly, umpteen times better than its prequel.

The sidekicks in the film are perfectly cast. Deepak Dobriyal as Manu's best friend, Jimmy Shergill as the man struggling to get on the wedding horse, Zeeshan Ayub as the rough, fearless advocate who'll go any distance for Tanu, and many others mine hearty laughs from the most unpredictable of situations and it is to their credit that the film races along without leaving you much time to crib about the minor hiccups and the convenient turns the plot takes, especially in the second half. Director Anand Rai has skillfully complemented the smart script by Himanshu Sharma and he seems to have mastered the art of an authentic portrayal of north India, which has become his hallmark.

There are a few portions in the second half that could have been obviated, but the witty one-liners, catchy songs and Kangana Ranaut more than anything else, make you carp less and accept the film as it stands. She's at the top of her game here and will make you feel for both her characters. She effortlessly slips into the role of a Haryanvi and dazzles with the terrific accent that may take some time getting used to. As Tanu, her awkward Hindi accent acts as a roadblock on certain occasions, but for most part she oozes sincerity in a role which comes most naturally to her. She's one of the main reasons why you should watch this film. Madhavan nicely reprises the role of a sweet, naive husband who's caught between his love for two girls with the same face, but strikingly different qualities.

I'm going with 4/5 for Tanu Weds Manu Returns. It's a nice way to spend the evening and I bet you'll return satisfied to the hilt. While it may not be a perfect film, it reinforces the fact that films are made to provide wholesome entertainment, which it delivers in dollops. Sometimes, that's not such a bad thing!!

Saturday, 16 May 2015


Bottomline : An ambitious film let down by a convoluted and conventional plot that is predictable at every stage of it. So, while the film is technically beautiful, there is a deep void in terms of thrill or urgency which behoves an Anurag Kashyap film.

Review : It is a given that Kashyap's films tend to get self-indulgent on many occasions but one can never accuse them of being predictable. Bombay Velvet, unfortunately, teeters between boring and predictable, reeking constantly of been-there-seen-that before moments and sacrificing story for aesthetic value. The inordinately long first half is over-crowded with twists and characters which are introduced every now and then and not each plot holds key significance by the end, except the "negatives" of photographs, a silly piece of evidence around which the entire film revolves which is stretched to the point of losing importance. Also, the film plods ahead without firmly establishing either a genuinely heartfelt love story or a revenge saga, as a result of which struggles to find its feet even as it junks in the usual double crossings, blackmailing, corrupt politicians and what not.

To give credit where it's due, the shootout scenes are terrifically shot, reminiscent of the kind of ebullience on display in his previous film Gangs of Wasseypur and you can't help wish Bombay Velvet had more elements from that mind-blowing film. Also, the attention to detail and excellent production design which transports you to Bombay of the sixties ensures the mood is set throughout. Then you have those trademark Kashyap moments when a guy ignorantly refers to Santa Claus as Santa Clock or that scene of telephonic silence between Johnny Balraj (played by Ranbir Kapoor) and Kaizad Khambatta (played pretty well by Karan Johar), or for that matter the scene where Kaizad breaks into a surreptitious laughter. These are only flashes of brilliance in an otherwise tiring film.

Music forms an integral part of the film. Amit Trivedi's phenomenal background score and soundtrack is one of the best works by a music composer in recent times. Devoid of any foot-tapping numbers or catchy fast-beat songs, the music stays loyal to the period in which the film is set and delivers accordingly.

Despite the shortcomings, one of the main reasons why Bombay Velvet remains watchable is the splendid acting. It features an ensemble of respectable actors like Kay Kay Menon, Manish Chaudhary, Karan Johar and of course, the two leads. Anushka Sharma does whatever possible within the ambit of her half-baked role, but it is Ranbir Kapoor who is the real show stealer. Nicely flowing with the shifting dynamics of Johnny Balraj, Ranbir is a treat to watch each time he appears on screen and with Bombay Velvet he has erased the stains of his previous debacle, Roy. Sadly, the script offers little room to emotionally invest in any of the characters, earnest as they may be in their performances.

I'm going with 2.5/5 for Bombay Velvet. It is an ambitious, scrupulously-mounted film but the unimaginative script has ultimately ripped this Velvet off its sheen. 

Saturday, 9 May 2015


Bottomline : Easily one of the better films in the year, this slice of a life journey is sure to win over you on account of its spot on casting and intuitive writing that make it rise way above the ordinary.

Review : Given that film is packed with Bengalis, like director Shoojit Sircar, music composer Anupam Roy, side actors like Moushmi Chatterjee, there is a distinct Bengali authenticity that diffuses through the screen and you can't help be bowled over by the simplicity and light-handed manner in which director Shoojit Sircar treats the film.

The real star of Piku is writer Juhi Chaturvedi (a frequent collaborator of Shoojit Sircar). This is some of the most insightful writing you've ever seen on screen. The dialogues, though delivered partly in Hindi and partly English, never seem laboured or contrived and credit must go to the actors for that. Juhi's meticulously written characters for the three leads and their exchanges make for some hilarious moments. The first half of the film is absolutely terrific where jokes keep coming thick and fast and virtually every dialogue evokes a laugh out of you. She displays affection even for the tiniest of characters like Amitabh's attendant, Moushmi Chaterjee (as Piku's aunt), Raghubir Yadav (as their doctor), all get to shine in their respective parts making each role a memorable one. In fact, the writing is so sharp that, through their conversations, she makes Piku's mother's absence felt even when she never appears on screen. Ever since he debuted with the lesser known Yahaan, director Shoojit Sircar has grown with every film of his; be it the amusing Vicky Donor or the gripping Madras Cafe. Piku, however, turns out to be his most mature film. He keeps all the actors on the leash, leaving no room for melodrama or over action. He treats even the most serious of scenes in a light-hearted tone, consciously steering clear of cliches. As a result, the film doesn't pack a punch but ends with a kind of relaxed naturalism.

The jokes in the second half, however, dry up and a kind of repetitiveness does seep in, but despite the slow pace you can't help be swept away by the characters and their situations which are so endearing to watch because they have been performed by one of the most talented bunch of actors Bollywood has. Anupam Roy deserves a special mention for his soulful, melodious soundtrack that lends a soothing touch even to the most ordinary of scenes.

As Bhashkor Banerjee, Amitabh is pitch-perfect as the hypochondriac who is eternally constipated, both physically and mentally. Irrfan is in his best form too. What else can be said about an actor who doesn't need a dialogue to convey an emotion. As Piku, Deepika does justice to the best written role of the film by underplaying her part in the only way it should have been done.

I'm still going with 4/5 for Piku and a thumbs up for Juhi and Shoojit. It's filled with moments that will stay with you long after you've left the cinema hall and more importantly, leaves a big smile on your face. How many movies these days can boast of doing that? Well, not many. Don't miss it.  

Saturday, 18 April 2015


Bottomline : A light-hearted breezy romantic journey whose situations do ring a bell with each one of us, but the lack of plot or depth never gives us room to emotionally invest in the characters, ultimately rendering it rather tepid.

Review : OK Bangaram, or OK Kanmani (as its original Tamil version goes), can best be described as Mani Ratnam's holiday film. Not that this is a new territory to him, as many scenes in the first half especially bear resemblances to his far superior Sakhi (or Alaipayuthey in Tamil). However, he only flirts with the issue of live-in relationships but never really tackles it as deftly as writer Jaideep Sahni's Shuddh Desi Romance did. Barring the two leads, other roles such as the Alzheimer-affected woman or Nithya Menon's mother, inter alia, come off as half-baked. The conversations between the actors are instantly relatable but, after a while, you can't help getting a sense of love overdose even as the screenplay drags along only to exacerbate things further. A.R. Rahman's music is easy on the ears with catchy tunes that gel nicely with the narrative. But the real problem with OK Bangaram is the absence of any tangible conflict between the actors that could have made it a more engaging watch. What we get, however, are only superficial minor fights and tensed moments which get resolved only too conveniently, like the unconvincing climax that appears cobbled up to somehow accommodate a happy ending.

To Mani Ratnam's credit, acting by the lead pair is solid. Dulquer Salman (of Bangalore Days fame) and Nithya Menon share a sizzling chemistry that's sometimes hard to resist and both actors deliver mature performances that hold the film together even when it seems to fall apart.

I'm going with 2.5/5 stars. It may not be half as endearing as Ratnam's previous films but if mushy romance is what you're looking for, then OK Bangaram is right up your alley. 

Friday, 13 March 2015


Bottomline : Brutal and unflinching, Navdeep Singh's NH 10 is that rare kind of film that sucks you into its world from the word go, mounting the tension that is so palpable at every stage of it.

Early on in the film, after being attacked by an unruly group of men, Anushka is advised by the police officer to own a licensed gun instead of being assured that she would be protected by the police. It becomes evident, straightaway, that director Navdeep Singh is interested to expose the underbelly of the society, be it the city of Delhi or the badlands of Haryana. The story, written by Sudip Sharma, is not a groundbreaking one, as we have seen films in the past on road trips going awry. And while NH 10 definitely doesn't fall in the horror category, whats sets it apart is the journey of the audience along with the characters to guess and predict what future has in store for them, which surely sends a chill down your spine as you witness the events unfolding on screen.

Unlike his previous film Manorama Six Feet Under, which was an intelligent thriller betrayed by its slow pacing, NH 10 is brisk, engaging and seldom loses grip over its realistic tone that accentuates the state of anarchy and brings to the fore the disturbing and appalling issue of honour killings. There is a tangible sense of stinging truth when the eldest member in the house wishes to dismiss the killing of a family member surreptitiously as a personal matter. It is only the last 15 minutes or so of the film which is a bit of a let down, not least because the end twist can be guessed from a mile away and also because the final act turns out to be a tad underwhelming.

The film, in the end, belongs to Anushka Sharma who subserviently and convincingly pulls off a role, which is the most taxing of all the characters in the film. In a never seen avatar before, she delivers a riveting performance bringing the required pathos to a character whose peace of mind has been buried under the debris of helplessness and despair.

I'm going with 3.5/5 for NH 10. The blood and gore may be hard to digest for many. But I still recommend a watch for the competent direction and brilliant performances.

Friday, 6 March 2015


Bottomline : A throwback to the good old times of the '90s that scores high on authenticity and portrayal of characters, but at the same time never really exploits the script's full potential.

Review : Those who have seen Rajat Kapoor's 2013 gem Aankhon Dekhi would completely agree that Dum Laga Ke Haisha seems heavily inspired from the former, whether it is in the storytelling, or the actors or even the setting up of each frame. But while Aankhon Dekhi dealt with a man questioning the very reason of his existence, debutant director Sharat Katariya ( who was Rajat Kapoors's assistant director) has a charming love story to proffer to reinforce the fact that "Love comes in all sizes" and everything ultimately boils down to how we rise above all odds to look at the brighter side of life.

Sharat Katariya nicely captures the essence of Haridwar in the music, the local dialect and the amusing characters, whose conversations evoke hearty laughs on more than one occasions. He has created a small world of his own, where almost everyone in the locality know each other, where one of our protagonist can't get over the songs of Kumar Sanu, where any word uttered in one corner of the house can be effortlessly heard in the other corner and where education is seen as a very respectable credential  by less fortunate ones. It isn't surprising, then, that the film moves at a languid pace as nothing much happens by way of story or plot. But even at a crisp running time of 111 minutes, DLKH seldom feels more than a sum of its parts. True, there are flashes of brilliance like the court scene where the two families erupt into a fight over the divorce issue, or the use of the '90s songs by the lead pair to articulate their state of mind or for that matter, the good-natured banter the friends share with each other. But to pull-off a script of this nature on celluloid more convincingly, the director could have peppered the film with more substance and wit and done away with all the "taane maarna" and "moti saand" which becomes hackneyed after one point of time.

Of the two leads, Ayushman Khurrana plays his character on one note throughout the film, which despite being sincere comes off as mildly disappointing. The rotund Bhumi Pednekar, on the other hand, injects the right dosage of believability into her role and never lets it slip into the zone of cliche, making her the best part of the film.

I'm still going with 3/5. It may not leave as lasting an impression as its big brother Aankhon Dekhi, but surely stands as a respectable debut, reminiscent of the kind of innocence that has long been forgotten today. 

Monday, 23 February 2015


(I missed watching this film in the theater and saw it only now)

Bottomline : A small film with a big heart which, despite being repetitive in the middle portions, manages to strike a chord with the viewers on account of its sheer sincerity.

Review: It is unfortunate that a major chunk of Sulemani Keeda's meagre collections came from online viewing rather than from the box-office due to its release in only a limited number of theatres. It is a story about two young writers struggling to make their way into the Bollywood industry and convince a producer to launch their script. They're rejected each time, but that doesn't make them shy away from flaunting their witty poems and one-liners when they're busy hanging out with girls in search to fulfil every boy's need.

Now director Amit Masurkar isn't particularly inclined to display how determined our protagonists are to make it big. Instead, he adopts a lighter and a more relatable tone to tell their story. While the two leads are terrific, it is Aditi Vasudev (the girl who played Rishi Kapoor's daughter in Do Dooni Chaar), as the independent photographer, who walks away with the film's best role, delivering a calculated performance whose greatness lies in its ordinariness. The real hero of the film, however, is the smart dialogue which keep the film afloat even during the dull middle portions of the film.

I'm going with 3/5. If you haven't watched it yet, make some time, 90 minutes to be precise, for it. It is refreshing, devoid of pretenses and very likeable. After all, good things do come in small packages.  


Bottomline : After the disappointing Agent Vinod, Sriram Raghavan makes a good comeback with a violent, and occasionally disturbing film, that is worth a watch for the terrific performances.

Review: "Kehte hain dushman ko maaf kar dena chahiye, lekin use tadpa tadpa ke maarne ke baad". This dialogue pretty much sums up the motif of Badlapur, a kind of slow torture which Raghu (played by Varun Dhawan) adopts to avenge his family's death. Without wasting time, Sriram sets the stage for a thriller by straightaway plunging  into the main story with a nicely shot opening sequence, leading to events which devastate Raghu's life forever. Clearly, this is no whodunit case and Sriram, instead, seems interested to focus on the emotional trauma and difficulties a man has to grapple with after suffering such a huge loss.

Badlapur is undoubtedly Sriram's darkest and boldest film, be it in terms of characterisation or story. His intuitively written characters have different shades to them, each holding pretentious motives. As a result, the biggest strength of the film lies in its unpredictability. You'll find yourself guessing what could happen next till the end. For me, the thing that stood apart was the little detailing of every scene. Like the scattered toys in the house which Raghu notices after his child's death or the scenes of Nawaz's foiled attempts to escape from prison, just to name a few. Now having extolled the film for its strengths, I must admit that it isn't an easy watch. A few obnoxious scenes do stick out as a sore thumb, and even as the screenplay drags on a few occasions one may not completely agree with Raghu's idea of revenge.

What makes badlapur consistently watchable, though, is its principal cast. In a complete transformation from his chocolate boy image to a man brooding with anger to bring the perpetrators to book, Varun Dhawan delivers his most mature and balanced performance as yet. Portraying a more complex role, Nawazuddin Siddiqui is in fine form too. He adds these little touches to his character which make it so endearing to watch.

I'm going with 3/5 for Badlapur. It's a brave, assuredly directed film but one that somewhere lacks the required intensity to qualify as an edge-of-a-seat thriller. As of now, Ek Hasina Thi & Johnny gaddar still remain the director's best works.  

Saturday, 14 February 2015


Bottomline : Arjun Rampal, in the film, apparently suffers from a writer's block. Quite similar to the plight of the writers of Roy I would say. A Tale of Torture.

Review: I learn from sources that the friendship between debutant director Vikramjit Singh and Ranbir Kapoor dates back to their college days. If that is true, Roy is a perfect example of the extent to which a friend can degrade himself for another, even if it is as dull a script as Roy. In fact, Ranbir has been assigned such a thankless role that you let out a long sigh of despair everytime he appears on screen.  I can bet! No one had their heart in this film. They wear the same tired, worn out look throughout the film as if going through an ordeal. Here the actors don't deliver dialogues. They just mumble.

The icing on the cake is the pace of the film. Long moments of silence, insignificant scenes cropping up here and there, and choppy editing only add to the misery of a film already overburdened by callous, insensitive direction which alienate the audiences further. In fact, the movie is so boring that even cars appear to be moving slowly on the streets. The dialogues are laughable to say the least and can only be enjoyed with a group of friends or in an inebriated state. The characters in the story keep seeking answers to questions. But for me the most troubling questions are; Did any of the actors read the script before signing up? If they did, then what made them agree to be a part of this dull, unimaginative and sleep-inducing film?

I'm going with 0/5 and two big thumbs down to Vikramjit Singh's debut film Roy. Even being a die-hard fan of Ranbir doesn't qualify you for watching this film. Pick up any of the recent bad films, Roy rises above all and emerges as the worst film made in living memory.