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.