Saturday, 14 April 2018


Adding yet another feather to their extraordinary cap of films, Shoojit Sircar and Juhi Chaturvedhi deliver yet another winner in October, a slow burning and piercing drama (slow being the operative word) that will leave you questioning your understanding of love, faith and suffering.

October is unlike any film Bollywood has churned out in recent times. It doesn't rely on loud histrionics and background music to drive home it's point, but instead weaves together the complexities associated with human relationships when put through testing situations with the simplicity of the everydayness in a common man's life. Despite its leisurely pace and melancholic tone, the film never feels like a slog thanks to the intuitive and keenly observed writing and sharp, focused direction. Never spoon feeding the audience with easy answers, Juhi and Shoojit develop characters with ambiguous qualities, reminiscent of the Asghar Farhadi school of films. They also extract terrific performances from each of the actors, especially Varun Dhawan, Banita Sandhu and Gitanjali Rao.

I'm going with 4/5 for October. Some may complain about the slow pacing, abrupt ending and the lack of plot. But they all are a part of the calculated move by the writer-director duo to create a rich cinematic experience. Drop everything else you're doing this weekend and go in with dollops of patience to watch October. This is minimalistic filmmaking at its best.

Friday, 6 April 2018


Blackmail is exactly the kind of fun film you'd like to watch on a lazy weekend with nothing much else to do. It has all the elements of the quirky oddball comedy; idiosyncratic characters put through outrageous situations, large helpings of laugh out loud humor and solid performances; but despite an original screenplay and a distinctively unconventional treatment, the film suffers from serious pacing issues. And that's never a good thing for films of this genre!

I won't get into the details of the cobweb of the script smartly written by Parvez Sheikh and Pradhyuman Singh Mall (a lot of which, sadly, is given away by the trailer), but the first half of the film has moments that are a serious test of patience. It takes a while before the actual plot kicks in and even once the unending series of blackmail calls begins, it's not always consistent until intermission. Post-intermission however, the chaos is intensified which results in humor that could leave you in splits, the major chunk of which is delivered by Arunodhay Singh, Divya Dutta and the witty dialogue.

Talking about performances, Irrfan Khan is in good form, though here he appears a little uninspired and holds himself back from giving us another winning performance and rising above the films shortcomings. The other supporting cast comprising Kirti Kulhari, Pradhyuman Singh, newcomer Anuja Sathe get some moments to shine and showcase their active participation in this land of absurdity. The real star of Blackmail, hands down, is Arunodhay Singh. Skillfully combining physical humor with a colorful palette of expressions, Singh makes the most of the meaty part that never lets predictability completely take over the film.

I'm going with 3/5 for Blackmail. Director Abhinay Deo falls short of delivering another Delhi Belly. The film has many strengths, but consistency is definitely not one of them. Still worth a watch!