Monthly Archives: January 2018

Review: KAALAKAANDI


There's Nothing Kaala About The Film.
Neither Is There any Kaand.

1 star

Mini Review: 

If you think a story like Delhi Belly could be replicated 
or something ‘as cool’ could be made, Kaalakaandi 
will disappoint you. Three random stories in one 
night in one terribly pretentious film that tries too 
hard. Fails. 

Main Review:

It would have been fun had the doctor told Saif he had 
‘Lympho Sarcoma of the Intestines’. At least we would 
expect some fun. And they do have film references in the 
film. This way it is neither fun, nor serious. It is plain trying 
too hard to be ‘kewl’. 

And why are they all speaking English? There is barely 
any Hindi in the film. and that too in a Police Station where 
by their ‘Urban film hai, so characters are speaking English’ 
logic, the cops in Mumbai speak Marathi laced Hindi. 

Running parallel to Saif’s ‘let me do strange things because 
I’m going to die’ story is the story of a girl going abroad for 
a PhD whose boyfriend wears her thong on his face. Again, 
trying too hard to be cool. If he doesn’t want her to go 
abroad and thinks she’s going to seduce men by wearing 
thongs, would he be wearing her thong on his face? If he 
wants her to laugh by wearing her thong on her face then 
he wouldn’t be whining... Looks like they wanted to get 
the ‘this is dental floss’ dialog into the film. Meh!
 
Deepak Dobriyal and Vijay Raaz are at the heart of the 
third parallel tale. They’re ‘hafta collectors’ for a bad guy, 
wondering what it could be if they took the money instead 
of giving it to the boss. Of course there is a sharpshooter 
who wears guns like some gunslinger from a cowboy film. 
Sigh. Even though a gunslinger driving away in a Nano is 
funny, at least make the guns like they’ve been in use for 
25 years! The shiny guns look like they’ve just arrived 
bubble wrapped from Amazon. 

The stories are so asinine you know that it was ideated 
when the ‘team’ was doing what Saif tells the doctor he’s 
going to do...

The stories are so painfully predictable in their ‘coolness’ 
you expect the photographer girl to say ‘I’m a lesbian’, 
just to check that box... 

Only the person who did the special effects earns his salary. 
The rest is self-indulgent silliness. 


(this review appears on www.nowrunning.com )

Review: MUKKABAAZ


ISME एक्सन HAI, रौमांस HAI, बदले की आग HAI,
पोलटिक्स BHI HAI, जातिवाद है, AUR साला GAALI भी डाल दिए HAI,
यु.पी KI ऑथेंटिक खुसबू KE LIYE

2.5 stars


Mini Review:


Based on a true story of a hotheaded pugilist who wants to prove he is better than everyone else in the ring, Mukkabaaz puts its fist in many pies: boxing, romance, caste wars, defiance and revenge. Anurag Kashyap brings alive small town Uttar Pradesh brilliantly. But the fist through so many pies laced with too many songs becomes a feast too difficult to digest.


Main Review:


Actor Vineet Kumar deserves kudos for working hard - physically
that is - to play the part of a boxer from Bareilly, who wants that
one chance in the ring. He’s getting to be 25 years old and he will
soon miss out on competing for the state level championships,
let alone compete in the Nationals. The one big obstacle in his
path is his coach, who tends to treat boxers as his man-servants.


Hotheaded Shravan Singh falls instantly in love with his Coach’s
niece. It’s a multi-layered problem right there. The coach is
Bhagwan Das Mishra, an upper caste Brahman who is also the
local heavy, and so powerful he could make or break Shravan’s
career. Shravan is of course belongs to the Rajput community,
but as Bhagwan Das Mishra puts it scathingly: Any low caste lad
can put a ‘Singh’ after his name and assume a higher caste.
For Shravan proposing marriage would be outrageous. His
hotheadedness too makes him say, ‘We’re boxers, here to train,
not to do odd jobs for you while you lie in the Sun.


Of course he gets bashed up. After bashing up his coach’s
men. He gets bashed up several times because this is not
complicated. There’s more!


The coach’s niece loves him back! This love story is all eyes and
no words, and Anurag Kashyap’s direction is marvelous here.
The small town innocence - her saucer large eyes, his almost
brave but essentially shy ways of showing love - is most amazing.
When he realises that she loves him back, he is ready to defy the
world (especially her uncle, who has blacklisted Shravan).
His act of defiance, a wild dance at his friend’s wedding is perhaps
the finest scene in the film, and I feel terrible that it may be
shadowed by the cameo appearance of the star Nawazuddin
Siddiqui.


Yes, there’s violence on every level and the director could have
made it very ugly by simply showing the rape of the niece as
well as her mother as it oft times happens in reality, but he
doesn’t, and thankfully too. There is enough violence in boxing.
And in the perpetually angry hero needs to learn to curb his
volcanic feelings. The coach and his methods are violent too.
Sticks and bricks and steel rods used on unsuspecting
bodies make for incredible violence.  


And everything is broken by songs. The official site says there
are eight songs in the film. Feels like there must be over fifteen.
He’s training, there’s a song. She’s watching him follow her
around, listen to the song. His daily routine, there’s a song.
He’s emotional, let there be song. She’s emotional, listen to
a song. He’s attending some wedding (and we know he’s
from ‘ladke walon ki taraf se’ or the groom’s side, but that
wedding manages to add nothing to the screenplay except
get Nawazuddin his song and show us how UP weddings are)
there are not one but two songs. He’s pummeling someone in
the ring, here, listen to a song. He’s wandering about angry and
confused and searching for someone, there is a song. The
training song is apt, but the rest are local noise.

Zoya Hussain as Sunaina is incandescent. Jimmy Shergill
as Bhagwan Das Mishra is the best villain, but what's with his
Horror film eyes? Vineet Kumar plays Shravan Kumar Singh is
amazing. Shravan and Sunaina's dads are stupendous. And Ravi
Kisen, is a star. Watch them bring the hotch potch editing of the
story alive. Then ask yourself, who repeats the daily routine
sequence twice? And that too without change?

Now Anurag Kashyap has given us some amazing cinema. But
this khichdi of romance and revenge and sports and politics
created by several writers is on many levels just a mish mash,
tasty in parts but still a pandering to the image of ‘Anurag Kashyap
knows small town North India’. I wish I could have loved this
movie more. Then realised, I didn't care for any character enough
to love the film.

P.S. अनुराग भईया का नामे ऐक ठो संदेस: वासेपुर से काहे निकल लीये ? फेर आओ। रोमांस कर लेना इंस्टाग्राम पर। लाइक कर देंगे। फिलम में गोलीऐ ठीक लागती है।

(this review sans hindi appears on www.nowrunning.com )



Review: ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD.


Nine Days To Remove Kevin Spacey. And What An Awesome Removal!


3.5 stars


Mini Review:


Sometimes the real stories behind the movies are so awesome that you are forced to watch the film with awe. This is how I watched Christopher Plummer transform himself from the dashing Captain Von Trapp who waltzes with Maria to this covetous, miserly billionaire. Michelle Williams is a worthy adversary to the old man, and makes this film a superb watch.


Main Review:


Director Ridley Scott should take a bow for taking a stand against
the sexual predator Kevin Spacey. After having shot the entire film which
was ready for release in December, when accusations against
Kevin Spacey popped up, Scott re-shot the portions with
Christopher Plummer. Nine days. It is reported.
The result is brilliant.


Christopher Plummer plays billionaire J Paul Getty,
who made his money from Saudi oil (he purchased a tract
of land between Kuwait and Saudi Arabia) and by building
great tankers who would bring the crude oil to his businesses
in the Oklahoma and the rest of the world.


Plummer is quietly menacing as Getty, calmly defending the title
of his book, 'Any fool can become rich, I know how to stay rich.'
He tells the press: If I were to pay the 17 million dollar ransom
for my kidnapped grandson, I would end up having 14 kidnapped
grandkids.


The film is about the kidnapping of his grandson, and how
he negotiated his return. And how even after paying the
ransom, he ensured he received a tax break. Michelle Williams
plays the role of the distraught daughter-in-law whose son
J Paul Getty the 3rd (Pauly) is kidnapped while in Rome.


The film gets a little stretched when they show the interaction
between Pauly and his kidnappers. It is a tad unbelievable
that a bunch of ragtag robbers first kidnap the lad then
sell him to the mafia. You also begin to wonder why they’d want
to ‘fatten’ him…And Mark Wahlberg, what does he really do
in the film?


Enough spoilers.


Michelle Williams was bordering on boring in the film released
just last week (The Greatest Showman), so I wasn’t expecting
anything. But she shines, and how! ‘They want me to cry?’
she asks in rage that is beautifully understated. And the last shot
of the film, is sublime. Worthy of an Oscar.

Watch it also for how wonderfully the decadent 70s are brought
alive on screen. Made me want to wear bell bottoms again,
but then I was glad that style went out before everyone
earned their mum shapes and dad bods…


Review: INSIDIOUS: THE LAST KEY



Going Into The Further Is Less Creepy Now. The Demon Is Boring. But Chills, YESSSS!


2.5 stars


Mini Review:


Real life is so scary, horror films are slowly losing their appeal. That said, Insidious has always made me happy because the heroine of the series is not Jessica Alba (whose clothes get caught and fall apart) and has really cool psychic abilities (always wanted to earn that ‘I See Dead People’ tee shirt). This film loses its charm because they explain too much, and you sort of predict the outcome. This could be the last of Elsie’s. Or not.


Main Review:


I smiled each time they said, ‘She’s the psychic and we are
her sidekicks.’ in the film. It is corny, but when everything is
gloomy and ghost-inhabited, even this line makes
you laugh. Elise this time goes back to her childhood home
to battle the creepy demon whose fingers…

Ugh! That was such a scary thing, but I laughed because
I made a stupid connect with South films where fingers are
shown caressing belly buttons in a similar way.

After that you’re just drawn into the world that the film
creates and whether you want to be chilled to the bones
is up to you, really. I love the fact that this film does not
scare you with eerie music or sudden sounds. This film
allows the cold fear to seep in slowly and envelop your
heart.

Violence in families has been touched briefly and I wish
there were more films dealing with the subject in the
genre. This film uses that very well.

Of course there is a hospital room scene where
contortions happen and there’s a scene with a bible…
These predictable things bring the fear quotient down.
And if we are on a ‘logic’ track, then do ghosts need
a lantern? Can they not see in the dark?
Can they actually hold objects?

Sigh. Ignore these niggly questions, and you will love
the film. And trust me, you’ll not want to rummage for
keys in your bag. What is that hand is attached
to your keys…