Friday, 23 December 2016


Bottomline : Just before you sign off on your list of favorite films this year (which, understandably, is a short one), Aamir Khan comes up with such an immensely likeable film that you're gleefully willing to overlook the occasional setbacks the film suffers on account of predictability and embrace it with all heart and full praise.

I can't recollect the last time I had this much fun at the cinema ever since Tanu Weds Manu Returns of early 2015. This inherently sincere and inspirational story employs the usual tropes of an Indian sports film, but it is filmed with such genuine affection for its characters and bolstered by such heartfelt performances (even the tiniest of characters have a moment to shine) that you can't help literally swell with pride as the lights come on which is when you realize that you've witnessed an important and a deeply satisfying film that will most likely endure the test of time.

The first fifteen minutes or so of the film feel like the extended trailer playing itself out and it takes some time to find its feet. But, from here on, when the haanikarak bapu decides to integrate training cum torture into his girls' lives, the film soars. The first half moves at a frenetic pace infused with a kind of dizzying fervor while the narrative itself is powered by an outstanding, earthy soundtrack by Pritam (who is having the time of his life after  Ae Dil Hain Mushkil and Dishoom this year) interspersed with imaginatively engaging lyrics by Amitabh Bhattacharya, arguably the finest lyricists of our times.

Director Nitesh Tiwari sinks his teeth into the film delivering a compelling drama that inspires and entertains in equal parts. He deserves praise for keeping Aamir's character on the backburner while silently fueling the film's vehicle even as the girls and wrestling at large, take centrestage.

Now, comparisons with Salman Khan's Sultan are inevitable. To be honest, Sultan was a silly film made only to cater to that section of the audience who wished to see Bhai shirtless for almost three-fourths of the film. But Dangal is much more than that. It addresses important issues like the imbalance in sex ratio of the hinterland where girls are brought up with the sole purpose of marrying them away. It is against this backdrop that the story of Mahavir Singh Phogat and his daughters plays a crucial role in shaping the thought process of that marginalized section of the society.

I'm going with 4/5 for Dangal. Few can challenge Aamir in the Dangal of Bollywood. The game, the film and 2016 have all finished in style. Take a bow, Mr. Aamir Khan!!

Friday, 2 December 2016


Bottom line : Sujoy Ghosh and Vidya balan team up yet again for Kahani 2, a moody thriller that relies heavily on atmospherics and a fabulous background score to deliver thrills but, enter the second half, and the script inconsistencies accentuate itself to the point of partially derailing what was hitherto an enthralling film.

The one thing I admired most about Kahani 2 was that writer-director Sujoy Ghosh not once tries to recreate or tinker around with plot points or characters from his previous film Kahani, instead urging the audience to judge his new film for its own merits. And that is only fair because the milieu, story, actors are all entirely different and there is literally no common thread running between the two films (Except Kolkata, of course, which is more or less treated like a character in both films).

Having said that, Ghosh wastes no time in introducing his characters or spoon-feeding us with their backstories and instead delves straight into the plot, giving us a taut first-half replete with edge-of-the-seat moments thanks to the non-linear screenplay. It is a pity, then, that his story runs out of steam too soon and the film begins to fall apart like a house of cards. The story starts to feel familiar and twists can be spotted from a mile away. Also, unlike Kahani, which had a solid gut-punching revelation in the climax, Kahani 2 feels unsatisfying and underwhelming. The only positive takeaway from here on is that the makers keep the proceedings moving at a breakneck pace, which leaves you with precious little time to carp at the film's faults.

Of the performances, Jugal Hansraj is surprisingly effective and menacing while Arjun Rampal, although saddled with a weakly written role, does a good job as the officer who makes it his business to unravel the truth. The film, in the end, belongs to Vidya Balan. Completely submitting herself to the role of Durga Rani Singh, Vidya Balan shines in every frame and it's hard to find fault with her unwavering and committed performance.

I'm going with 3/5 for Kahani 2. It doesn't quite live up to the standards set by Kahani, but definitely deserves a watch for the gifted Vidya Balan, who gives us yet another reason to believe she's possibly the finest actress in the industry.