Monthly Archives: February 2019

Review: TOTAL DHAMAAL


Senior Citizen Edition


2 stars


Mini Review:


A dying man gives a clue to this money mad bunch of people, mostly senior citizens. That begins the mindless comic race to Janakpur zoo where the stolen money has been kept. Each duo is worse than the other and even though the slapstick comedy does make you laugh in bits, but mostly you can see the joke coming at your from a mile away. Because the cast are stars from yesteryears, it just takes them so long to understand the joke. Kids might find the scenes with CGI zoo animals good fun, I just wanted to kill myself.


Main Review:

I'm Not An Ageist, But...


If you’d rather stay at home and binge watch National Geographic specials where animal win and foolish men die, that would be eminently more satisfying than watching this film. All the stars are just of the wrong age to play the fool. If the cast was seven, maybe even stupid and seventeen years old, the capers would be fun to watch. But when you see fifty five year olds in dungarees licking lollipops, you don’t know whether to look away or to throw up in your popcorn. Javed Jaffrey plays the simple Manav well, but it’s awful to see him do stupid things as though he were in a kiddie cartoon. But if you expect a kiddie cartoon instead of a film, then you might find a way to smile when Aadi tells his brother Manav (together they are Aadi Manav or Primitive Man, groan!) to not save him, and then gets into quicksand, and Manav of course finds a snake to throw at Aadi when there’s a clothesline (in the middle of nowhere) he could have used.


‘But there are clothes hanging on it!’ is simple logic, and you do laugh, but you have to put up with Arshad Warsi who plays Aadi, and you do kick yourself several times.

You can insert ads for joint aches and pains and stomach troubles because the oldies try really hard to be fun. Hollywood tried old men in hot tubs and the result was ghastly to watch...


God Help Us! Johnny Lever Cannot

Ritesh Deshmukh is paired with Pitobash and the only funny thing happens is when God intervenes and saves them. Don’t ask. Even Johnny Lever cannot save the film with a sketch with the helicopter made from an auto-rickshaw.


Boman Irani is the cop chasing these low lifes with a partner Vijay Patkar who has just that one physical comedy thing called the funny eye. The sequence with the train coming at them all in the tunnel could have been funnier had it been not so stretched. Now that’s an idea! They should have edited out each sketch a little more to make the physical comedy bearable.

This film is nothing but a bunch of really poor comedy skits kids do in school. But people were laughing in the theater, imagining their uncles and aunties slipping on banana peals...


Anil Kapoor and Madhuri Dixit save the silly film with their husband and wife getting divorced act but even their struggle to reach the highway with the help of the stereotype ‘Madrasi’ (played by Ali) is annoying. Some husband vs wife dialog is funny, but so politically incorrect you cringe.


And you cringe when Sanjay Mishra who is paired with Ajay Devgn behave like teens. Neither of the two can do physical comedy well and you want to tell Ajay Devgn that he needs to go back doing the angry policeman roles again. Even the freshness of Jackie Shroff being the voice of GPS loses its shine because it goes on and on and on.


Since the action takes place in a zoo, there are scenes with animals who are so badly created you wish you didn’t have to watch. Crystal the monkey gets credit. But I guess, everyone else is so bad, why not, eh?


Mahesh Manjrekar shows up too, sometimes sounding like a South Indian baddie, and other times like how the British extras in Bollywood movies speak Hindi. Was happy to see the fake gorilla beat the man with the fake accent up.

Sonakshi Sinha's Item Number Earns A Star For the Film!

The movie ends with everyone getting a bit of the money. And advice to zookeeper Esha Gupta from Sanjay Mishra with all the puns earns a star on its own: Itne saare jaanvaro ki dekhbhaal kartee ho, is jaanvar ko bhi apna lo. Yeh jaanvar hai, tumhari jaan ban-na chaahta hai, tum ise apna var maan lo!

And yes, I actually loved watching Sonakshi Sinha showing up only to dance (what a svelte figure she cuts now!) to a song that has been remixed like a thousand times...   



(A non-ageist version of the review appears on nowrunning dot com)

Review: Gully Boy


Faadu Saala

3.5 stars

Murad ki muraadein hai hadd se bhi zyaade, 
Akkha akaash chhoone ke hain uske iraade,
Baap uska sakht hai, girl uski mast hai,
Circumstances fucked uske
Story zabardast hai.

Galli se nikalneka hai, kuch toh bhi banne ka hai
Eight Mile se compare nakko,
Story toh akkha mumbai ka hai!

Ranveer Singh ki energy role ko poora fit hoti,
Tareef karoon toh kitnee, har picture uski hit hoti,
Aalia ki soorat angel ki, zubaan devil ke khala ki
Vijay Raaz gar baap ho tera, suicide note likh le pakki
Sher jaisa bhai mile toh sapne poore honge nakki
Sky frame mein aati jab toh film mein tadka lagta hai,
Surmein wali aankhon ka sapna, sach jo hota dikhta hai

Underdog toh phir bhi gully ka saala kutta hai
Jab thoda story sag hoti, chai peene ko dil karta hai

Luck By Chance film toh dhaansu thi,
Dil Dhadakne Do (rich logon ki) baasi biryani thee,
Lekin abki baar, zoya akhtaar dilayegi bukhaar
Saala rap wali story ka.

Gully ki life ko camera capture karta hai,
Attitude alag hai baap poverty porn nahi lagta hai,
Ek inch bhi breathing room film deti nahi hai,
Quiet moments ki cheekh dil ko cheer deti hai,

Murad ki wounded aankhein were sex on toast,
Toast par lyrics ka makkhan, famous from coast to coast,
Safeena ke reactions were bhai, a slap on me face,
Her love for Murad, bole toh vicious grace,
Kalki as Sky madam banati alag sa mood kya,
Vijay Verma bana Moin uska acting very good kya,

Maaf karna baap huye hum film se inspire,
Likh dee humne bhi aake Review Rap on fire!
Bakwas si, simple si, bole toh tukbandi hai,
Tukbandi kya hai excuse hai, pageviews badhane ki,
Book karo tickets, ab kis baat ki deri hai?


(a saner version of the review in prose in on nowrunning dot com) 

Review: AMAVAS


So Bad, It's Fun

1.5 stars

Mini Review:

Rich man Karan takes his girl Ahana to a castle he calls summer home so he can propose to her. But the castle is haunted by the ghost of his girlfriend past. Ahana realises that he could have killed his girlfriend and that she too could be in danger. Many horror tropes later, you realise that it’s the slow pace of the film that’s the real killer.

Main Review:

You have to admire Sachiin Joshi. He has enough self esteem to romance not one but two women taller than him. He plays Karan the rich lad who takes Ahana to a castle that is their family summer home to propose to her. Ahana is played by Nargis Fakhri who has for some reason, decided to play the role as if she’s asthmatic and breathless all the time.

Of course the castle is haunted by a ghost! The caretaker cum manservant called Gotti (Ali Asghar with fake protruding teeth that have nothing to contribute to the horrors of the movie) makes sure the saheb and memsaheb are fed. He is supposed to be comic because of the lame jokes he makes, but like Sachiin Joshi, the audience also groans every time he mouths his stupid dialog. When he says that the house is haunted by a ‘lady bhoot, who sings’ you too react just like Nargis Fakhri who says, ‘I don’t believe in God, so I don’t believe in ghosts.’

And when Karan falls down the stairs (the ghost pushed him down) Ahana screams, ‘Oh god! Are you all right?’

You do want to say, ‘He just fell down the stairs, and is lying there practically inert. You ask him if he’s all right?’

The ‘lady bhoot’ haunts both Karan and Ahana alternatively when they are asleep. By the way, it seems to be always night at the castle. And as it is in horror movies, not one person actually switches on the lights to see who is there in the corridor.

You know nothing is going to happen until they have bored you to death with sudden loud noises and doors opening with creaks and groans, and transparent curtains blowing in the wind… You are about to give up when the movie wakes up and there is possession of body by dead rejected lover who has been making out with Ahana, has killed Karan’s first love (played rather sweetly by Navneet Kaur Dhillon). The dead rejected lover is Samir (Vivan Bathena who seems to like playing these pointless friend turned rapist roles) has been buried in the grounds of the castle…

The last twenty minutes of the film make you whoop with delight because it’s like a mish mash of all things horror. There’s Wolverine/Hulk style clothes tearing off, eyes turn white and evil and blood vessels explode on his face when Karan shows his possessed self, possessed Karan walks on walls and hangs like a bat, he even levitates, the possessed Karan is blinded by an ‘Om’ (Hindu religious symbol) tattoo, then possessed Karan bites the tattoo off the arm of a living girl who then gets killed, possessed Karan decapitates the servant, is terrified of a sheet printed with holy symbols, and is finally defeated when temple bells ring on their own (God intervenes, don’t ask!)... But is the evil spirit of the rapist friend really gone when Karan jumps into the fire and we see him burn up like the Terminator? The camera pans to a sobbing and shivering Ahana being saved by the cops. On her arm is the threat of a sequel! The evil spirit claw marks…

I came away smiling at all the terrible tropes I had witnessed, only to realise that two hours and fourteen minutes of my life were never coming back...  

(this review appears on nowrunning.com)

Review: FAKIR OF VENICE


Great On Paper, Fuckall As Film

1.5 stars

Mini Review:

Adi Contractor, a man who can procure anything is given a task to find a fakir who can bury himself in the sand head first and bring him to Venice, Italy as art installation. He persuades Sattar to play the part. What could have been a fabulous satire on the world of art ends up being tedious because it is directed badly, except for a masterclass in acting by Annu Kapoor.

Main Review:

Annu Kapoor is an effortless actor. He simply chews up the scenery - be it Venice or Bombay, and he decimates his co star Farhan Akhtar without even trying. That said, he plays the title role of the fakir (holy man) in the film. And he’s brilliant. The one star that the film earns goes to his talent.

Farhan Akhtar plays Adi Contractor (not at all as Parsi in his mannerisms as his name indicates except for one word ‘Gadheda’ meaning donkey) the procurer of all things for production houses, who is given the task to find a fakir who can do a headstand with his head buried in the sand. He is given money to travel to Benaras to find one such holy man.

You know they mean his search in Benaras is meant to be funny, but the way it it shown, it just isn’t. Perhaps it is funny on the page. Perhaps a better director could have visualised the search for the fakir differently (the naked fakir who can lift weights with his genitalia could have been funny had the tout not mentioned it before).

So Adi finds Sattar through a tout, and watches Hameeda (Sattar’s sister) bury him in the sand except for hands joined in a namaste. Adi takes pictures and sweet talks the artist in Italy into accepting Sattar as a holy man who buries himself. Sattar explains that his sister and he have been earning money in that manner ever since they were kids, and that breathing through wet sand on the beach is not difficult. Sattar is poor and twenty five thousand rupees seems like a great idea, and Adi does offer him alcohol as well, which he seems to love.

It was a bit weird to see a Muslim man shown to be so used to drinking, because Islam does not allow the consumption of alcohol. However. Sattar is simply amazing as he subjects himself to the makeover into a holy man with a beard with stoic resignation. You wonder why he agrees to this bizarre demand that he spend seven days buried in the sand as art installation.

What ruins the film is the assumption that poor people don’t understand what it means to travel abroad and when Sattar says, ‘There are too many foreigners in foreign country’, you are meant to laugh. There are so many domestic workers traveling abroad these days, that it rather insulting rather than an innocent observation. This movie feels so dated on so many levels, you wish they had directly released it on a streaming service. (The film is rumoured to have been made in 2006/9, and is finally getting a release now)

But you suffer through the goings on in Italy, which are as ridiculous and as predictable as they can get. You see ‘Yoga’ hippies, foreigners incredulous to this holy man act, cheesy drag queens, reporters who think Sattar is being exploited, a sleazy TV producer, a party and a foreigner falling in love with a poor Indian man… It just gets tedious to see Adi being rough on the poor man, and Sattar being stubborn and drunk and not letting on. The digression into death (and the meaning of) could have been stronger. The sudden change of Adi’s rough character into someone making up for his bad behavior, is questionable. And with every scene you want to say, ‘How stupid is that?’ Prime example: Sattar is bleeding all over his white tee shirt from a cut, is drunk like a skunk, and coughing blood, and the super concerned Italian reporter asks him, ‘How are you feeling?’ and offers him more wine after dressing his wound. What?

The film makes you want to run out of the theater like Sattar, screaming, ‘I want alcohol! I want alcohol!’   


(This review appears on nowrunning dot com)


 

Review: EK LADKI KO DEKHA TOH AISA LAGA


Could Have Been Mind Shattering, 
But Happy To Watch Mind Questioning...

2.5 Stars

Mini Review:

A pretty girl is in trouble when she bumps into a young man who rescues her. Or does he? As in all love stories, he chases her down to a small town in Punjab. Will her secret destroy her family, or will she be accepted for who she is? Charming but superficial film about gender identity.

Main Review:

Oh No! Another Bollywood Wedding Film!

The movie starts with a wedding and you hope and pray that the whole movie is not going to be just another wedding themed story from Bollywood. There is a song and dance and haldi and mehendi and reception, and you see shiny happy people. But when you see Balbir Chowdhary
(a magnificent Anil Kapoor) going about the wedding interested in the food, and you see him dance, your eyes glaze over and you remember everything from Ram Lakhan to 1942 - A Love Story…

One Of The Best Meet Cutes In Bollywood

We then get to know Rajkummar Rao who plays Sahil Mirza, a playwright who wants to make a mark on his own instead of depending on his rich parents, rehearsing in the theatre and the effervescent Juhi Chawla who plays Chhatro who is their ‘caterer’ but who aspires to be an actor.

Yes, we have noticed the beautiful Sonam Kapoor at the wedding who reluctantly participates in the wedding events, and now she makes her way to the empty theater, obviously running away from something or someone. The meet cute between Sahil and Sweetie (she’s Punjabi, and they have names like that!) is so well written, it deserves a star on it own. You will find yourself getting engaged in their instant chemistry and both Rajkummar Rao and Sonam Kapoor deserve kudos here. We panic with her and him as they both make a run for the train with an angry young lad chasing her.

But at home she looks like a completely different person, defeated and quiet. And this is where you begin to wonder what happened to the girl who spoke with a stranger and dragged him to the metro… She’s hiding a secret which her brother has guessed and he is terrorising her to mend her ways because he won’t have it. Also because society won’t have it.

Sahil, on the other hand, is stuck on the girl he tried to rescue from her brother. Her brother? Sweetie’s angry brother Babloo is played by this wonderful actor Abhishek Duhan (you saw him last in Pataakha and Sultan). He alarms you when he’s chasing his sister in Delhi, and he is the voice of unreason. The voice of ‘society’, the antagonist in the story.

Sahil lands in the small town of Moga in Punjab, in search of the girl he tried to rescue. Of course the misunderstanding becomes deeper when Sweetie’s family think she is in love with a Muslim lad. Predictably, her phone is destroyed by her brother, and she is imprisoned at home. Thanks to the happy ensemble cast of Brijendra Kala (man servant) and Seema Pahwa (kitchen help) and Sweetie’s granny called Giftie (played by Madhumati Kapoor), Sahil meets Sweetie and yes! There is a fabulous romance between Sweetie’s father and Chhatro (Anil Kapoor and Juhi Chawla). That deserves a star on its own.

A very drunk Sahil confesses his love to Sweetie and a very exasperated Sweetie confesses that she is in love with another, who happens to be a girl.

Why Does A Damsel In Distress Need A Man To Rescue Her?

It is here that you decide it’s okay for a man to rescue a girl or not. The story alas is predictable and Rajkummar Rao takes it upon himself to rescue her and out her gracefully not only to the family but the whole town. Now it’s a tough world out there as India has just begun to accept Homosexuality legally. There are still many in the LGBTQ+ communities who don’t come out to their families let alone to the whole village, so the plan in the film seems to be horrific.

And it irked me that grandma keeps telling Anil Kapoor that his interest in cooking was 'jananiyonwala kaam'. It's Punjab! The men have been cooking kukkads for generations there. We have seen men as well as women cook and serve food in the Gurudwaras. And this belief that men who have the propensity to cook aren't manly is Bollywood, not Punjab.

But this is Bollywood, and nothing will go wrong as long as we deal with the subject with loads of sweet smiles and hugs from beautiful, rich people. Trouble with the story is that this ‘outing’ should have been private and personal, and they choose to make it a spectacle. Anil Kapoor confronts this outing in a great cinematic ‘acceptance’ montage. And young actors could learn from him. He’s brilliant. And you have tears in the eyes as he realises how unfair and blindsided he has been to his daughter’s anguish and loneliness. I wish there had been a mother who could have added another layer and a side to her childhood. Would a mother have guessed her daughter’s sexuality, and would her reaction been different?

The visual of Sonam Kapoor in a glass box, asking to be let out is a very strong image to take home. The half star is earned for this visual. The film is by no means a great friend to the LGBTQ community. But it is a step in understanding the lifestyle differences we are just beginning to acknowledge in the society in India. As they say, ‘Baby Steps.’

This film, could have been, as Juhi Chawla deliciously says,'Mind shattering!' but we should be happy the subject is now mainstream and is at least being discussed. We will get it right soon!


(the review appears on nowrunning dot com)