Monthly Archives: May 2018

Review: BUCKET LIST


Hum Aapke Hain Koun!

2.5 stars

Mini Review:

When you see Renuka Shahane meet Madhuri Dixit, songs and dialog from their famous film together play in your head. Does Madhuri Dixit with Renuka's daughter's heart remain a stranger? Does fulfilling the young girl's wishes make Madhuri a better person? Why is she doing what she does? If this film had been written a little more carefully, then it would not feel so much like it was a throwback of the 90s. It's moralistic, but it's fun. And yes, Madhuri Dixit is beautiful!


Main Review: 

(Channelising my inner Vandana Gupte - she plays the mother-in-law to Madhuri Dixit - for the main review) 

बहुत ही हसु आता है यह सिनेमा देख के. 

माधुरी दीक्षित वैसे ही गोड़ है जैसे वह सलमान खान के साथ दिखती थी. आणि तिची स्माइल वैसे ही किलर है जैसे आधी थी. आधी मतलब बिफोर, आगोदर। 

पण मैं पूछती हूँ की यह स्टोरी कब लिखी थी? वीस वर्ष के पहले क्या? सब कितना पुराना लगता है! आम्ही मराठी लोग बहुत ही फॉरवर्ड टाइप के होते हैं. हमारे पुणे में कितनी नौ वार साड़ी बाँधने वाली आज्जी लोग मोटरसाइकिल पर भाजी आणणे को जाती है. 

चलो सासुओं के लिए अच्छा है की बहु को पूछते हुए दिखाया है. यह करूँ क्या? वह करूँ क्या! रियल जीवन में कौन पूछता है? और सुमित राघवन जब बोलता है घर का काम करने के बाद जो  करो, मेरी तो हार्ट में अटैक ही आ गया था. इतनी सुन्दर बायको पर ऐसा धाक किस मराठी लड़के को होता है?! वह तोह शेली के तरह उसके आगे पीछे घूमता है. असो. फिल्म में गलत दिखाया है. रियल लाइफ में बायको ऐसा रूसती की गाडगीळ से सोने का हार मिलने की बाद ही मानती. 

माधुरी की स्माइल आज भी वैसा ही पावर है, बर का!

लेकिन मेक अप थोड़ा कम चलता घर के आत कोई इतना मेक अप पोत के काम करता है क्या? लेकिन मेरी एक यंग मैत्रीण थोड़ा जल के बोली, झुर्रियां छिपाने के लिए रे! वह इंग्लिश विंग्लिश में नहीं लय श्रीदेवी ने नाक पे कुछ विचित्र सा किया था? बेचारी अब नहीं है,तो हम इसी फिल्म के बारे में बोलते हैं. 

ये सारे यंग फ्रेंड्स माधुरी को 'दी' क्यों बोलते है? मराठी का अच्छा वर्ड हैं न, ताई. वह वापरने में क्या प्रॉब्लम थी?

और हार्ट ऑपरेशन का यह इतना हाथभर स्कार रहता है. आक्खी लाइफ के लिए. माधुरी के हार्ट के पास कोई स्कार ही नहीं था! दाग अच्छे हैं ऐसा आप लोग ही बोलते हैं, न, फिर ऑपरेशन का दाग क्यों नहीं दिखाया?

लेकिन वह सब छोड़ो. मुझे यह बताओ, कौन सासु आज कल पापड़ बनती है? शी बाई! नसते उद्द्योग! सब सासु आजकल किट्टी पार्टी में जाती है या फिर सीनियर सिटीजन क्लब में. यह चूक दिखाया है.

हाँ कुछ कुछ बहुत हसु आने वाले डायलॉग है. जैसे के माधुरी जब बेटी का टॉप देख के उसे पिशवी कहती है. इसीलिए फिल्म चालेल बर का!

थोड़ी वेगळी है यह फिल्म. मराठी फिल्मवाले सिर्फ शिवाजी पर बनाते हैं, या फिर विठोबा पर. या फिर इतनी गाँव वाली बनाते हैं की कौन इतने पैसे दे कर गाँव के दुःख देखने जाएगा? 

हो, आणि ते सगळे 'मी बकेट लिस्ट पूर्ण करायला गेले आणि त्यात मी माला भेटली' टाइप शिकवण इस वैरी बोरिंग हाँ. आणि माय नवरा विल पळून जाईल अगर मैं उसको बोलूं की तुम मेरी बकेट लिस्ट में नहीं हो, क्योंकि तुम मेरे बकेट हो... बाल्टी कौन कहता है यार!

वंदना गुप्ते का काम अप्रतिम हुआ है, और मुझे तो रेणुका शहाणे बहुत अच्छी लगती है. मैं तो बहुत हैप्पी निकली फिल्म देख के. लम्बी लगती है क्योंकि बहुत ओल्ड फैशन टाइप है. जरा गिलने को तकलीफ होती है. 



Review: BOOK CLUB


Old Is Gold, Comedy Is Fun, 
But Romance Is A Tad Creepy.

2 stars

Mini Review:

Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen, Diane Keaton, Mary Steenburgen, Don Johnson, Richard Dreyfuss, Andy Garcia... Awesome actors all, in a comedy that is fun and frothy up to a point. Then the whole thing becomes a tad creepy and derails with scenes of these actors getting hot and heavy. But the film is waaaay better than Last Vegas where you saw grown up (read 'old') actors tried to make out with young, nubile girls!

Main Review:

Jane Fonda is 80 years old. And she shames young actors not just by having a body that is enviable, and acting chops that will decimate anyone in the business.

Candice Bergen as a Federal Judge is brilliant. And you see why Richard Dreyfuss would want to get into the back seat of a car. 

Diane Keaton was a little annoying when she was younger, but she's okay because Andy Garcia makes her look normal.

Mary Steenburgen is paired with Craig T Nelson, and the romance between the two married folks is funny but makes you shudder imagining old people having 'the drive'.

The idea of these four girlfriends being a part of a book club is delightful and if you have close friends, you would want to see the film with them.

Romance is really wonderful when Don Johnson makes Jane Fonda jump into a fountain...

The way the film has been treated, you know they are ageist. It is like us Indians. You don't want anyone over thirty behaving like they are sexual creatures, even though you don't mind a fifty year old Salman Khan romancing 22 something heroines...I too was taken aback by the visual of Candice Bergen losing her push up bra in Richard Dreyfuss's shirt, but my sense of humor brought me right back on the lighter track when I saw his face dotted with lipstick marks!  

It's a lighthearted comedy, and it is fun to watch such good actors behave like teenagers do. I will watch it with my girlfriends, and surely when it shows up on TV. 


  

Review: PARMANU: The Story Of Pokhran


Superb Story. Shoddily Told

2 stars

Mini Review:

With American satellites keeping a constant eye on Pokhran,
India’s Nuclear site for years (India had conducted the first
‘peaceful’ nuclear explosion in 1974), there was no way they
world was going to allow India to join the nuclear nations. So
a civil services officer created a team and helped conduct not
one, but three underground nuclear explosions successfully,
one of the most successful covert operations in the world.
The idea is great, but it takes too long to build and then tell
the story.

Main Review:

JOHN'S DIMPLES ARE DEEPER THAN POKHRAN!

John Abraham needs to be applauded for choosing unusual
stories. That said, if the execution of this film weren’t so
shabby, this film would have been a taut thriller.
But hai...John's dimples...

DIANA PENTY KYON HAI?

Choosing Diana Penty to be the Intelligence officer in the team
is the dumbest decision of the year. We know Bollywood takes
certain liberties in telling of a true story, but she just ruins every
scene she is in. She looks terribly out of place, and the worst
part is that she has a walk that qualifies to feature on
Monty Python’s Ministry of Funny Walks.

WHERE IS THE FIRST HALF GOING?

Initially the film seems very tacky, with the meeting at the
Prime Minister’s office being shot really shoddily. And John
Abraham’s espousing a nuclear option seems like a very bad
propaganda. You look at John Abraham’s moustache which
reminds you of Aamir Khan’s ugly one in Talaash and you begin
to wonder if this movie is going to tank.

Thankfully, the story moves forward nicely and you understand
John Abraham’s Ashwat Raina is disgraced without any reason
and we see a clear ‘making of a hero after initial setback’ trope
shaping up nicely. His wife Sushma is played by the lovely
Anuja Sathe who performs the role of harried wife who has to
handle the home and job while the husband mopes about
really well.

THERE SHOULD HAVE BEEN MORE OF THE POLITICS

With the change of government, comes an opportunity in the
shape of the Prime Minister’s Secretary Boman Irani. He offers
Ashwat to prove himself, and gives him carte blanche to create
a team that will deliver the detonation of nuclear bombs in
safety. The idea that ‘the car is the garage, but you never know
it works, unless you drive it’ is a great analogy and is used well.
John’s team comprises a nuclear scientist, an operations guy,
an army chap and a space scientist. And yes, the Intelligence
officer who again, is just the silliest thing in the film. The
supporting cast could have been sharper and smarter. Your
begin to hate the operations guy for being dumb and the 'south
Indian' space scientist because he's munching banana chips
all the time. Ugh!

Ignore silly Diana and the movie picks up pace. How the people
learn to work as a team and organise the work is shown
beautifully. And we also see how people betray. There is a CIA
spy working in cahoots with a Pakistani spy and there are
Indians paid to betray. You want the spies to be caught so bad,
you realise that the story has perked up your interest.
The setbacks and the little wins, everything engages you.

CHAK DE WALA FEEL, SUPER SECOND HALF!

The movie is actually a thriller in the second half. Yes, the
Pakistani spy keeps saying, ‘Kanda’ for ‘onion’ which is a
Marathi word used in Bombay and Maharashtra instead of
the Hindi word, ‘Pyaaz’ which is used in Rajasthan where the
story is set. This really jars the senses. The last forty five
minutes are truly exciting and push the right patriotic buttons.
The film falls in the could have been great category.


Review: BIOSCOPEWALA


If It Ain't Broke...

1.5 stars

Mini Review:

Based on a wonderful story ‘Kabuliwala’ by Rabindranath
Tagore, this story turns a dry-fruit vendor into a
Bioscopewala, and Minnie and her dad into this modern
dysfunctional family. It is not just a stretch but the whole
film is about Minnie rediscovering ‘facts’ that everyone and
their popcorn in the audience has already guessed. You
want to slap Minnie many times, but Danny as Bioscopewala
wins your hearts…

Main Review:

Minnie (Geetanjali Thapa) has to fly down to Kolkata from Paris
because her father Robi Basu (Adil Hussain, in a short sweet
role), is feared dead in a plane crash. The plane was flying to
Kabul and the family retainer Bhola (played wonderfully as
always by Brijendra Kala) brings her back home from the airport.
She’s hot and irritated and does not like that the airlines does not
know what and whys of the plane’s disappearance. Minnie
comes across as all-curly hair and pretty face and self absorbed
because she has to deal with this ‘nonsense’. She is shown at
first to ignore her father’s call (father sits down at the airport and
writes a letter to her! Of course they haven’t heard of emails!).
Of course she tells the boyfriend she’s irritated by it all. Her father
has been stern to her and she gets flashbacks of going into the
photo studio and being scolded…

Now she has to deal with the police, the airlines and even
unscrupulous lawyers who want to cash in on the tragedy. The
cops are there to drop off an old man in their house. Apparently
the father had fought for the custody of the old man for years
and years. Brijendra Kala too is unable to say who the old man
Rehmat Khan is. Because Minnie is too self absorbed to find out
who and why the old man was a subject of her father’s
fascination. She just wants the old man out.

Danny Denzongpa plays the old man Rehmat Khan. He suffers
from Alzheimer's and the way Minnie treats someone she doesn’t
know, makes you want to slap her hard. Danny is a gem. He
emotes so well and carries the past on his shoulders magnificently.
The flashbacks show us how amazing an actor he is. He’s pining
away for his daughter who is the same age as Minnie, and despite
all these years in prison, she is still the child he has left behind
and so is Minnie.

Minnie gets her father’s belongings and conducts the last rites.
Very reluctantly. She even tells people who have gathered home
that she is not connected for years with her dad. What we want to
know is why she has not opened her dad’s belongings collected
from the airlines’ office?

There are a lot of annoying things like that in the movie. If she
doesn’t want to deal with Rehmat Khan, she could easily drop him
off at some old folks home or some hospice. Why is she looking
for people who knew him? Brijendra Kala could have told her the
man was her childhood Bioscopewala! The poor retainer takes
her all over the place while she is trying to ascertain if Rehmat
Khan is innocent or no. That brings in Tisca Chopra and sundry
other people who talk about Rehmat Khan. After what seems like a
dumb pointless trip to Kabul (where she finds amid the rubble of
Rehmat Khan’s village the signboard of the cinema he ran until the
Taliban took over! At this point you want to throw something at
the screen because you have suspended your disbelief too
much). She’s so self-absorbed, even when the boyfriend shows up
in Kabul, she doesn’t even hug him!

Thankfully for one lucid moment Danny makes you forget the
stupidities of Minnie. And the credits roll. You come away
wondering how they took a wonderful story and spat out a
stupid version. Bring Balraj Sahni’s Kabuliwala (Bimal Roy
directs!) back, I say!  



(this review appears on nowrunning dot com)

Review: KHAJOOR PE ATKE


Magar Audience Aasman Se Gir Ke Seedha
Nark Mein Jaati Hai

1 star

Mini Review:

A copy of the Marathi film Ventilator, Khajoor Pe Atke
exaggerates in every possible way bringing down what
could have been a wonderful situational dark comedy to
something unsavory. A brother is about to die, and the
family gathers around to ‘be there’. Each person has his
or her own motives for being there. Alas, instead of letting
the audience decide when to chuckle and when to fall off the
chair laughing, the loud comic sounds and the constant
overacting puts you off.

Main Review:

There’s nothing subtle about this film. There’s no dark comedy
here. There’s only loud acting, ghastly music and comic sounds
that deafen you and blind you to the really, really funny bits in
the film.

The Marathi film Ventilator too had the same story. An older
person is in ICU, about to die, and relatives show up from all parts
rural and semi-urban places, to claim love and hope to inherit the
mango trees in the dying person’s care. In Khajoor Pe Atke, it is
a brother who is in the Intensive Care Unit, and his two brothers
and their oddball families, their sister and her son show up to
offer support to the soon-to-be-widow and her son.

The poster should tell you how exaggerated this film is going to
be. Everyone has googly eyes, everyone speaks as if the rest
of the world is deaf, everyone has strange quirks, everyone
overdoes the small town person wide-eyed in big city thing. If
that is not enough, everyone in the big city is ‘bad’, out to
cheat the out of towners. Or just horrified at these ‘item’ people.

Nikhil Pahwa is Jeetender Sharma, married to Sushila
(Seema Bhargawa). They have two kids a son and a daughter
Nayantara (she’s stuck by the Bollywood bug and wants to
be heroine).
Vinay Pathak is Ravinder Sharma, married to Anuradha
(Suneeta Sengupta), and they have a kid. Dolly Ahluwalia is
Lalita Didi who has a grown up son. So these nine people
show up at the hospital where their Debu Bhaiyya is in ICU
and his wife Kadambari (Alka Amin) and son Amol host them
in the waiting area.

The brothers and their wives are hoping that after the brother
dies, they will finally get a share in the ancestral apartment the
dying brother has been living in. They have to bribe the hospital
staff to enter into the ICU at will. Ganpat the hospital chap is
played by Kishore Chougule who has a finger in all the pies (he
can arrange not just the funeral, but the bhajan singers as well
as fake guests at the wake, he knows the local cops and can
rescue the lads after getting them into trouble). Nayantara has
a whatsapp love affair with Rokky Dilwala (a delightful creepy
lad played by Prathamesh Parab) because he has promised her
a role in a movie. The boys are there to stare at girls and want
to experience ‘dance bar’ delights. Kadambari eats non stop.
The dying man’s son has a girlfriend who cannot stop saying,
‘I understand you’. The worst of these ‘eccentric’ offenders is
played by Dolly Ahluwalia who brings a babaji into the ICU to
smear (and feed) ash on the dying brother.

The joy of watching a dark comedy is about doing really horrible
things (like trying to arrange a wedding match for their daughter)
in a straightforward way, as though they were a part of everyday
ordinary life. Kadambari eating in every scene is so brilliantly
done, you wish the rest of the scenes weren’t so exaggerated.
But Vinay Pathak cannot resist his  parodying of Amitabh
Bachchan’s Deewar dialog…

Nayantara’s audition is funny, but did it need so much
accompanying cartoonish music? The rented funeral
arrangements are funny because the man isn’t dead yet, but
you wish you did not hear the comic phone ringtone.

You end up not caring about the loud portrayal, the item number,
what happens to the dying brother, the eccentricities, the fact
that this ensemble cast could have been so much funnier had
they not been so loud…




(this review appears in nowrunning dot com)



Review: ANGREZI MEIN KEHTE HAIN


Lessons in Love and Longing In Benaras


3.5 stars


Mini Review:


A lovely story about love, duty, everyday life set in Benaras.
A grouchy, crotchety man who does his duty by his wife
and daughter announces that he has arranged for his
daughter to be married off. The daughter rebels and
questions her dad: do you even know what is love? How the
question is answered is this lovely tale of heartache and
love and new beginnings.


Main Review:


Think Sanjay Mishra. And you know he can deliver the grouchy,
dissatisfied with his life, crotchety father who works at the post
office, quite well.


Think Anshuman Jha, and you know he will do his role of small
town lad Jugnu, who is love with the crotchety dad’s lovely
daughter very well.


Think Brijendra Kala. And you know he will make a very sweet
dad to Anshuman Jha. Slightly eccentric, he is a foil to Sanjay
Mishra’s Yash.


Think Shivani Raghuvanshi whom you saw last in Titli, makes a
very pretty daughter Preeti who is in love with Jugnu and mostly
good daughter to grouchy Sanjay Mishra.


Think Pankaj Tripathi and you know he can surpass any role
given to him. In this film he is Firoz, the husband of Suman, who
is on her deathbed. Pankaj Tripathi is shown to be the man who
loves his wife so much he is willing to give up everything so she
has a few more days to live. Pankaj Tripathi’s very evident love
stuns Sanjay Mishra (who has promised to and delivers a very
important letter that would bring money for Suman’s hospital stay)
who is amazed at such display of emotion. Pankaj Tripathi is so
good at this small role, you wish he were cast as Sanjay Mishra’s
grouchy dad instead.


That brings us to last character in the story. Ekavali Khanna.
Remember this name. This actor plays the long suffering yet
quietly happy wife to grouchy Sanjay Mishra and mother to Preeti.
She is the buffer between daughter and father, the foundation on
which grouchy Sanjay Mishra can live his grouchy life smoothly.
This actor is magnificent. She is beautiful in close-ups, conveying
her hurt and love and every other emotion demanded by the role
with ease. And she’s stunningly beautiful. She’s wearing sarees,
and salwaar kameezes in the film, and you want to know where
the costume design person sourced these clothes because you
want to buy them. You also wonder, how is it possible that Sanjay
Mishra is unable to say that he loves this woman? The audiences
sighed and fell in love with her wonderful screen presence!


Sanjay Mishra is a fine actor. And you know and understand his
dilemma. The fact that he doesn’t realise that love needs to be
expressed, and he hopes ‘she understands that I love her even
though I don’t say it’ is very obvious. His ego is wonderfully written
and his change of heart is also good. Although his attempts of
wooing his wife back are so terrible, one thinks the film is going to
go off the rails and shoot itself in the foot. Thankfully the awful
sequence is just an aberration (maybe the newbie director could
not rein in the overacting by a senior actor like Sanjay Mishra) and
the film is back on track.


The end is horribly predictable because we love the wife’s
character so much, and it seems like a compromise because
Sanjay Mishra’s patriarchal character is ‘hero’. But all in all, if you
know someone who is unable to express their love, drag them to
this lovely little film.



(this review appears on nowrunning dot com)

Review: DEADPOOL 2


No Holy Cows Here!

4 stars

Mini Review: 

Deadpool is back. More irreverent than before and even more over the top when it comes to rules. Fourth wall? What is it? It remains shattered. The story? Gets wilder and crazier by the minute. And if you get all the references, you'll be sitting in the theater like I did, with a grin on my face...

Main Review:

Juggernaut is a villain naam ke waaste! Our superhero is the motormouth, decimating every holy cow with impunity. And that's why you have to pay attention to what he's saying. You grin and you grin and grin some more. As the references get meaner and hence funnier you realise that there's so much comic timing at work here, even though you don't see his face as he's delivering those wicked lines. You know he's as deadpan as it gets. I loved, loved, loved the writing. Especially the references to Cher!

The action in Marvel movies has been turned into a fine art. But with Deadpool, you can be ready for mayhem. But before you go,'Thanos!' you see dismemberment, slashing and bodies lying in the wake of a superhero who does not stop yakking!

We are casually introduced to the bad guy Cable, who seems to be part human, part machine, part magnet, part softy (Awww! He carries a teddy bear!)...

You will fall in love with Domino whose superpower is Luck...And there's Zeitgeist, Vanisher, Bedlam and Peter. You have so much fun watching them join Deadpool's X-Force (because 'X-Men' is so not gender neutral!). The idea that somebody lists 'hurling acid' as their superpower should make you smile.

Deadpool offers to go on a mission with the X-Men and Colossus reminds him, 'No Killing!' and discovers Russell who calls himself Fire Fist...

The story then moves from Deadpool wanting to kill himself to saving the lad to saving the planet. Things escalate so quickly and with so much irreverence that we laugh crazily enough to dislodge your neighbor's popcorn. The writing doesn't spare anyone, including Wolverine's 'Fix The Timeline'!

Ryan Reynolds is a violent, foul-mouthed savior and he makes for a great hero (what's not to love?!) because every person in the audience is wishing they could also speak their minds in their own lives.

Watch the film. I'm going to watch it in Hindi! Hope it is as brilliantly written as the English one!




Review: RAAZI


I'm Sure You Will Agree,
Raazi Is The Best Spy Films Of Our Times!

4.5 Stars

Mini Review:

How do you make a patriotic film without any bombastic
dialog and still manage to move the most cynical filmgoer
to tears? Raazi is one of the finest films to come out of
Bollywood. It is the story about a young Kashmiri girl who
marries into a Pakistani general’s family and in her own way
and at great danger to her life spies for India and practically
saves the day during the war between Pakistan and India
in 1971. It is a tale well told and brilliantly acted. Must watch!

Main Review:  

We have seen loud and bombastic Gadar where everyone wear
their patriotism on their sleeves that are rolled up to kill the enemy.
Anyone could have made a similar film with this girl spy married
off into an enemy household into a loud film where she chops
vegetables with a vengeance and proceeds to chop other family
members of the enemy general too. They could have shown her
being tied and tortured a la Van Damme. Thankfully Meghna
Gulzar does not torture the audience with a film like a typical
‘throw coins at the screen’ or ‘tear your heart and prove you are
patriotic’ type film.

She makes a film that tells the story of an ordinary girl who
chooses to put her life in danger and becomes extraordinary
without losing the audience.

The director treats everyone in the film as essential and with
respect, does not make the religious and national differences
obvious, and even when she is taking sides, does not grind the
other to the ground. The director extracts performances from
every actor so wonderfully, you come away from this spy
thriller fulfilled.

Based on a true story ‘Calling Sehmat’ written Harinder Sikka,
Raazi is the story of a 20 year old Sehmat (Alia Bhatt, truly
magnificent) who agrees to continue the work of her father
Hidayat Khan (Rajit Kapoor, very convincing), a Kashmiri who
spies for India by supplying information to Pakistan. She
agrees to undergo training and is then married off into the
family of a Pakistani General Brigadier Syed (Shishir Sharma,
brilliantly played!). The general’s sons are also in the army.
Sehmat is married to the younger son Iqbal Syed (Vicky
Kaushal, rather upright and a good foil to the delicate Sehmat),
and the older brother Mahmood (Ashwath Bhatt, wonderfully
suspicious and yet upright amy officer) is married to Munira
(Amruta Khanvilkar, rather lovely). There are also other
Pakistani generals and their wives (Why list the actors?
Because they make a wonderful family.). And not once are
you made to hate them because they are Pakistani.

The tensions between the two countries was very high, what
with East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) wanting to secede from
Pakistan and India helping their ‘Mukti Bahini’ (freedom fighters).
In this situation, it was but natural that the Pakistani army would
plot to decimate the Indian counterpart. The story is told so well,
you don’t hate the enemy at all. But there’s Sehmat, the new bride
who finds time to quietly find out what’s being discussed in the
meetings at their home and transmit the information back to India.
The situation that Sehmat finds herself in escalates very rapidly
and we are afraid for her, we don’t want to see her die. We begin
to root for her ingenuity and gentleness.

On the Indian side, Jaideep Ahlawat is great as the trainer to
Sehmat’s spy. The Indian spies in Pakistan (who, alas have
small roles are not credited anywhere online, but are brilliant) are
the rickshaw chap, the flower seller and the grocery shop man.
Roles you would not consider important, but are well acted.
Sehemat’s mother Teji (Soni Razdan) does not have to say
much, but conveys a lot.

The wedding is delicious and we learn to appreciate everyone in
the family. The gentleness is conveyed in her relationship with
her husband Iqbal so beautifully we forget for a while that she’s
a spy. The sweet romance between the two of them is something
you cannot miss. And he’s not shown to be some sex-crazed
monster simply because he’s the enemy.

Alia Bhatt has proven herself in Udta Punjab but here, she’s not
just innocent, but spectacularly beautiful (her dress designer
should take a bow for making lace edgings of her salwaar
kameez and her gorgeous dupattas and the color palette
stunning). And she can act (understatement of the year). She
leaves everyone in the Bollywood pantheon way behind.

Yes, this could have been a five star movie, except that there
are some obvious ploys that could not but be a part of the film.
Sehmat’s training is predictable as in any underdog training to
be hero film. Then there’s the suspicious servant Abdul (played
by Arif Zakaria) whose actions are predictable. And just to
nitpick, Sehmat’s last emotional outburst has been added to
show off her acting talent. Was just not necessary.

But the film remains an amazing tribute to all the people who
sacrificed their lives without needing any kind of acknowledge-
ment. The film is patriotic, but amazingly so. And the story just
seeps into your bones - just like the Mere Watan song - and
stays with you long after the movie is over.




(this review appears on nowrunning dot com)

     

Review: HOPE AUR HUM


Heart Is In The Right Place
But So Exhausting And Dull


2.5 Stars

Mini Review:

Everything old is eventually replaced by something new,
and it’s best to adapt. Whether it is an ancient photocopier
or a big old house. This is a lesson that this small feel-good
family film that has the heart in its right place brings on
the big screen. They try really hard and even though little
scenes from the film are good, the film drags on and on
and you wish it had been made for TV movie instead.

Main Review:

Old man Nagesh Srivastava is stuck on his ancient photocopier,
it occupies space which could be turned into his granddaughter’s
room. Son Aamir Bashir and daughter in law Sonali Kulkarni try
to persuade him gently to let go of the machine whose spare
parts cannot be found. The grand daughter tries hard to help him
get that missing lens too…

But it is the cricket-crazy grandson who steals the show. This little
boy is Kabir Shaikh and he is just brilliant. When he’s comment-
ating ‘Gupta dadu pavilion ki ore stretcher par ja rahe hain’ as the
mourners take away the dead neighbor Guptaji away for a funeral.
The little boy is better than most Bollywood actors when he feels
guilty of leaving a kid inside a big trunk back at his grandma’s
home. His guilt, his fear, his inability to share the event with his
parents, the joy at solving the dilemma are brilliantly acted by
this little boy.

Just like the old photocopier, there is grand old palace like haveli
which is being given to a hotel chain for redevelopment, there is
a son who hankers for his old phone because there is data on it…
Every problem is solved nicely but it takes so long you begin to
lose patience.

Thankfully Naseeruddin Shah who has in his last appearances on
the big screen is usually unrestrained and hammy is not. His
performance is restrained even though his conversation with the
old photocopier is annoying.

The drinking with dad scene between Aamir Bashir and
Naseeruddin Shah is sweet. So is Sonali Kulkarni’s apologetic
but guilty for throwing away the old photocopier scene where
she offers her father in law tea is heartwarming. The granny
(beautiful and graceful Beena Bannerjee) who teaches the cricket
crazy grandson how to play the old gramophone record player is
such a wonderful scene. Events you have experienced if you are
living with a family that includes older parents. The only annoying
part is played by the younger son, who comes bearing expensive
gifts from Dubai. His connect to an old phone seems to be illogical
and his story seems to be too forced in the film.

And when the aerial shot shows us how isolated and stand alone
grandma’s palace is, you wonder where the kids who were playing
hide and seek and cricket come from?  

This film has a decent slice-of-life feel and it comes to the screens
a week after 102 Not Out - the movie that received big publicity, and
starred two fabulous actors. But it should have gone straight to television.




(this review appears on nowrunning dot com)

Review: THE PAST


Should Have Kept The Story Buried There

1 star

Mini Review:

A novelist and her sister are in a bungalow in Lonavala
which is haunted. Before you facepalm at every cliche in
the horror genre you will see in this film, spare a thought
for the actor Vedita Pratap Singh who gives the role of a
girl possessed her everything. She’s very good, but the
rest of the story and other actors are terrible. Could have
been a good fun scary story but ends up being silly.

Main Review:

Yes, there is one moment where the sister jumps out of the
cupboard that is surprising. But it is too late, too little.

The story is straightforward. A publisher asks a writer to write a
novel based on his story, and offers his Lonavala bungalow for
the writer (and her annoying sister) to write in peace and quiet.
Of course the bungalow has a caretaker Shambhu (who is very
conveniently absent when the hauntings begin).

Let’s list horror film cliches that crowd the film after the two girls
reach Lonavala. The writer begins to hear things. The writer
obliges us with a swimwear scene. You hear more strange
noises, the writer (Vedita Pratap Singh) explores the bungalow.
She sees the ghost, the ghost enters her body with a jerk, she
does bones of the neck cracking action, her hair that is in pretty
curls suddenly turns into something out of evil ‘Hairspray’ -
teased beyond belief. When the ghost occupies her body, the
writer’s eyes suddenly become wider and dark circles are
added around her eyes.

The writer goes to the ‘cupboard’ and suddenly is out on the
street seducing some passing motorist, calls him in for coffee
and yes, there is a gratuitous lovemaking scene. When she
wakes up, she does not remember anything. That’s when we
realise that the ghost enters and goes out of her body at will.

The sister realises something is wrong when her sister suddenly
grabs the bowl of chicken and is then shown sitting on top of a
cupboard eating like an animal. The sister has called the writer’s
best friend and her fiance. Of course the ghost attempts to
seduce the poor fiance. They call Jane the exorcist and then a
Hindu exorcist (what is Rajesh Sharma doing here, you wonder!).
There is a crucifix (and the Lord’s prayer) as well as a pocket-
sized trishul (the three pronged spear that Shiva carries). There
is levitation (after all what is a ghost film without levitation?!)

The film has so many cliches you feel terrible for the lead actor
Vedita Pratap Singh. She does her best, but the story around
her is so terrible, you sigh and wait for the evil doll to be
destroyed. Yes, there’s that cliche too. The terrible horror films
that Ramsay Brothers made still rule Indian Halloween!




(This review appears on nowrunning dot com)