• Thackeray, by Abhijit Panse, is a biopic on Bal Keshav Thackeray, popularly known as Balasaheb, the founder of Shiv Sena. The challenge in reviewing such a biopic film is that how to articulate and write about a film where the titular character’s many acts are not in the interest of the mankind. It turns out to be so difficult to appreciate the rabble-rousing politician portrayed on screen. How to appreciate the character who had a controversial life ? He had no qualms in choosing violence, indulging in hate-speech, fighting for the rights of Marathis but demonization of other communities etc. One of the strange parts of the film is that Nawazuddin is chosen for the lead character, who ends up promoting Hindutva and talking against certain communities especially Muslims. One is certainly able to see the transformation of a cartoonist to a ferocious leader through the film and there is every probability of its sequel too. The film is disturbing due to many dialogues and the way Thackeray’s life and decisions are justified. There are many instances where the leader is looking at mass turning violent and still not apologetic about the same. So, one is forced to think, how to support a leader who promoted communalism and just rationalized every act. He projects that he believes in the unity of the nation first and then Maharashtra by saying : Jai Hind, Jai Maharashtra. This is the inner conflict as a critic how to even rate and review the film which is not in favour of the mankind. But then, the film has to be taken as a piece of art.

    Now, looking at the film as simply a piece of art, Nawazuddin breathes life so effortlessly into the lead character Thackeray. Nawazuddin does not imitate every mannerism / voice of Balasaheb, but he projects the very essence of the character so brilliantly on screen.

    The film begins with Thackeray being interrogated in court for the charges against him in being instrumental for Babri Masjid demolition and his hate speech. The flash back scenes are interspersed along with the interrogation process and Thackeray’s rational statements for every situation. Thackeray’s sense of humour is also captured well. Thackeray is shown to be working on his own terms even when he is employed as a cartoonist with Free Press Journal. He chooses to resign his job than to succumb to the political pressures. Then he decides to start up his own weekly newspaper – Marmik. His father’s goodwill in the market ensures him the loan to begin with this journey. Thackeray is shown to be very shrewd and blunt from the very beginning. Thackeray grows from there to a very influential position where he was able to win people over on his sides. He first worked for the rights of Marathis. He was adamant about calling Bombay as Mumbai even before 1995. He went to extremes to achieve the power. He neither bothers about his people picking up weapons against other people nor digging up and ruining the cricket pitch ahead of an India-Pakistan match.

    January 28, 19
  • Zero, a film by Aanand L Rai, was certainly one of the awaited films of the year. This film has attracted negative feedback from most of the critics, whereas, I felt the film deserved a better viewership and feedback. Any film, especially our Indian film, has its major ingredients in terms of theme, plot, screenplay, dialogues, emotions, music, visuals, direction, mode of story-telling, character sketching of the lead protagonists as well as other characters and most importantly the actors associated with the film and their portrayal of characters. Let me speak first about what does not work in the favour of the film – it is probably the fact that certain aspects of story seem unreal, not so logical and practical. Barring this, there are so many other factors which actually work in favour of the film. First of all, Shahrukh’s energy, magic and charm are incredible. He infuses life into his character Bauvva Singh. Anushka projects her character with utmost sincerity. Katrina’s screen space is less but one cannot deny her character’s contribution to the plot. Zero has its heart in place, emotions play in its real flavour. There is love, betrayal, ambition, heartbreaks, sacrifice, repentance etc. Music and humour in the film also have enough power to engage the audience. So, the film deserves a better viewership and rating.
    Bauvva Singh (Shahrukh Khan) is a dwarf – 4.6 feet, who lives his life in Meerut with style. Bauvva is a movie buff and has a crush on the actress Babita (Katrina Kaif). He does not shy away from showering money on his friends Guddu (Mohammed Zeeshan Ayub) and gang when they read out the news of Babita’s breakup. The banter between father Ashok (Tigmanshu) and son generate add lot of humour. He looks up at the sky, counts from 10 to zero to turn stationery stars into shooting ones. Bauvva is now 38 year old bachelor looking for an alliance. Through his matchmaker, he does come across Aafia (Anushka), a NSAR scientist suffering from cerebral palsy. Bauvva is absolutely unsympathetic in his approach towards Aafia, right from the beginning. What happens, when two individuals fall in love, who are not normal as per the norms existing in and around our world? A space scientist falling in love with hardly a 10th grade Buavva and then the triangle with Babita, an alcoholic actress, in the scene – the story unravels beyond this. The film wins here, since the plot does not succumb to any sympathy, the characters don’t fall prey to the victim trap even though they all are misfits in the world as per the norms.
    How does the love between Bauvva and Aafia evolve? When and how does Babita’s character get weaved into the plot ? Yes, Bauvva chooses to come back to his love Aafia and then how the story evolves further ? The film has special appearances by Madhavan and Bobby Deol too and how they become part of the story? Watch the film to know all these.
    The dialogues have the underlying tone of humour most of the time, yet breaking many set no

    December 25, 18
  • Manto, a film by Nandita Das, is a biopic on the Urdu writer Saadat Hasan Manto. Manto lived during 1912-1955. This film depicts his life especially during pre and post-independence days and partition time seamlessly interspersed with five of his most famous and poignant short stories: Dus Rupay, 100-Watt Bulb, Khol Do, Thanda Gosht and Toba Tek Singh. The film narrates his life through these stories. Manto was known to write unpleasant truths of our society, which people generally did not prefer to write or talk about. And his writings made him a controversial writer too. Manto is best known for his stories of partition days which very genuinely covers what people went through those days. Nandita’s attempts need applause for the way she has depicted the various events, its contexts in Manto’s life through his works. Manto was an unapologetic writer and he used to pour his experiences, views in his writings. He had to even face court trials in lieu of the obscenity in his literary works, was accused of writing materials not worth of set benchmark of literature. But Manto believed in what he wrote since his writings mirrored the society. He even wrote about prostitutes, pimps, subversive sexual slavery of women etc. The film Manto begins in Bombay pre-independence and continues to his life in Lahore when he and his family shifted to Pakistan post-independence. The film recreates the old Bombay and Lahore. Kartik Vijay’s cinematography justifies the feel and era of the film. It is painful to watch the film since it covers the reality. The tragedy is that things have not changed much even after seven decades of freedom. Manto’s stories reflect lot of happenings of our today’s society too. Certainly, the feel after watching Manto is that it could have had more depth and coverage of his life, but one would feel the pain, turmoil, the transformations of Manto and his growing sense of isolation during the most definitive period of his life. When Manto in the film feels the pain of leaving Bombay and misses everything he had in India, viewers are bound to feel the same pain and agony. The film not only narrates about Manto in his biopic but through Manto and his stories, it shows the glimpse of the trauma India and Pakistan went through post partition. Even though this biopic leaves one with the feeling of wanting more, but it certainly needs to be watched.

    September 23, 18
  • Batti Gul Meter Chalu, a film by Narayan Singh, is the story of inflated electricity bills and corruption in the system. The film certainly has a very relevant message to convey but the melodrama dominates. The melodramatic depictions as well as the running time of almost 3 hours make the film weak, but one can not ignore the issue raised in the film. Love triangle between the three lead protagonists of the film in the context of the issue raised is not too strong to hold the audience engaged. The film does convey that corrupt energy suppliers don’t allow small scale industries to prosper since most of the time these businesses are plagues with load shedding and power cuts but still getting inflated electricity bills.

    The premise of the story is that a young entrepreneur Sundar (Divyendu Sharma) who starts a packaging company, gets mentally tortured with the inflated electricity bills. His childhood friend Sushil Kumar Pant aka SK (Shahid Kapoor), who does not generally have any ethical stand as far as his profession is concerned, acts as per his conscience and fights the court battle against the mighty Power Company. Shraddha who plays the role of their friend cum designer Lalita ‘Nauti’ Nautiyal joins SK in his fight against the corrupt system. The film does show that when the whole set of consumers join hand together even the mightiest corporation can become weak and end up yielding to the justice.

    Set in Tehri in Uttarakhand, the film begins with two of the travellers in Bus – Vikas and Kalyan unraveling the story of three friends SK, Sundar and Lalita. The names Vikas and Kalyan are purposefully chosen to take a dig at the development and welfare activities of our country. Certain dialogues do project that how development and welfare activities are just on papers whereas not happening in reality in the afflicted areas. Sk is an advocate who makes money with out of court settlements. Sundar dreams of making it big through his entrepreneurial venture. And Lalita is a designer who thinks of herself as one of the best and superior designer. The first half of the film builds up the plot of how the friendship between the three gets converted into a love triangle. The second half is spent mostly in the court scenes where SK confronts with the defense lawyer Gulnaar (Yami Gautam).

    September 23, 18
  • Karwaan, a film by Akarsh Khurana, is a road trip with difference. Here, three individuals, who are different from one another, happen to travel together with a purpose. How the journey helps them to undergo the process of self-discovery and acceptance forms the story. The plus point of the film is the combination of two most effortless actors – Irrfan Khan and South Indian heartthrob Dulquer Salman. In fact the concept of the film is also nice that how one’s life itself is an ongoing process of constant self-discovery, exploration, acceptance, change etc. The film also focuses on how important it is to be tolerant towards others’ perceptions too. The minus point of the film is that in an effort to treat the concept unconventionally, the film takes a very subtle tone throughout, the screenplay has tremendous scope of improvement. It is a likeable film.

    Dulquer makes his debut in Hindi films through Karwaan. He plays the character of Avinash representing those people, who left their passion behind by succumbing to the authority figures of their lives. He always wanted to be a photographer, but yielded to his father’s command to be employed with IT Company in Bengaluru. Avinash is dispassionately living his job and life. He feels that his father is responsible for this unhappy choice which he had to make in his life. One day, he gets the news of his father’s death in an accident.

    He contacts Shaukat (brilliantly played by Irrfan Khan) to help him with a vehicle to fetch his father’s body. Shaukat decides to join Avinash to fetch his father’s body. Shaukat’s van has Majrooh Sultanpuri’s shayri written on it:
    मैं अकेला ही चला था जानिब-ए-मंज़िल मगर
    लोग साथ आते गए और कारवाँ बनता गया I

    Wrong corpse is given to Avinash. On enquiry, he comes to know that his father’s body has got exchanged with Tahira (Amla)’s mother (Cochin). Tanya (Mithila Palkar), the grand-daughter joins Avinash and Shaukat and that is how Karwaan begins. Tanya represents the youth who does not believe in any rights and wrongs, and not at all apologetic for her relationship. She lives her life like a free spirit who chooses to live life on her own terms and conditions.

    All the three characters are different from one another but the commonality between them is that all of them are emotional and sensitive in their own manners. What do Shaukat, Avinash and Tanya discover about self during this journey, and which aspects of their personality get exposed to the viewers? This Karwaan turns out to be functional for them or not? Do they realize, how they want to handle their lives ? Do they learn the art of forgiveness and tolerance?

    About the cast, Irrfan is superb. He is an acting school by himself who carries the role with so much ease. His spontaneity in delivering the dialogues is very nice. Wish him speedy recovery from the dreaded disease. Dulquer who is known for his screen presence and effortless acting in the south is absolutely comfortable in the skin of Avinash.

    August 05, 18
  • Fanney Khan, a film by debutant Atul Manjrekar, generates mixed emotions. Similar to the distorted spelling in the title, the screenplay seems distorted at places due to not-so-believable plots with less of logic in place; but one can certainly connect with the film. One can give the benefit of doubt to the film for its genre being comedy. The film Fanney Khan represents lot of such people, who dare to see dreams but find them unfulfilled as well. Then they see the same dream through their children. There is nothing wrong in this, but the desperation to achieve the same may prompt them to cause some blunders. There are also scenes of body shaming. One vital question which is raised in the film is whether it is necessary to be star? In spite of having a great cast, the film fails to create the impact it could have made.
    The film begins with the narration by Rajkummar Rao who explains about Fanney Khan, a person with whom everybody enjoys. The Titular character is played by Anil Kapoor, who is Prashant Sharma aka Fanney Khan. He is an artist by passion but had to join a factory for his job. Divya Dutta enacts the role of Kavita Sharma, Fanney Khan’s wife. She is shown to be a simple lady. Adhir, a younger colleague of Fanney Khan, is played by Rajkummar Rao. Fanney Khan is determined to make her daughter Lata (Pihu Sand) a known singer just like the celebrity singer Baby Singh aka Sumitra (Aishwarya Rai). The challenge with Lata is that she is obese which did result in humiliating comments from the audience, whenever she went on stage to sing and perform. Fanney Khan and Kavita act as strong support systems for their daughter. Fanney khan chooses a short cut to earn money so as to be able to get Lata’s dream come true. But things go awry.
    Certain scenes are absolutely unexplainable. Daughter Lata’s irritation with her father Fanney Khan is not at all justified. A celebrity is being kidnapped, but with occasional news clippings, no other actions are taken in this regard. Screenplay does not focus much on Lata’s character. Kavita is always shown to be very understanding and tolerant, in fact, this character is also not well explored. Aishwarya and Rajkummar are looking good on screen together but their chemistry was explored very little in the film. Pihu does justice to her role as Lata. Girish Kulkarni as Baby Singh’s manager excels, but again he had not much to do. The film is supposed to be based on music, but except the climax song ‘Tere Jaisa Tu Hai…….’ the other songs don’t leave much impact. There is another song with the names of a few of the famous films, it seemed interesting.
    Fanney Khan generates mixed emotions. Similar to the distorted spelling in the title, the screenplay seems distorted at places due to not-so-believable plots with less of logic in place; but one can certainly connect with the film. One can give the benefit of doubt to the film for its genre being comedy.

    August 05, 18
  • Mulk, a film by Anubhav Sinha, strikes the right chord of humanity. It does convey in the very beginning that the film is inspired from the true events. Mulk is an attempt to raise the voice against the prejudices existing in our country (as well as at a global level too). The word Terrorism is connected instantly and spontaneously to the community Muslims. But the film very strongly tries to put across the dictionary meaning of the word ‘Terrorism’ which is “the unlawful use of violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political aims”. So, as per the definition, many other activities could also fall under terrorism. Terrorism is actually criminal not communal. Terrorism does not have anything to do with the religion. But the frame of reference is in such a manner that we label a community synonym to terrorism. The film also projects a very sensitive topic in the most sensible manner. The film highlights that the Mulk is divided between ‘Us’ and ‘Them’. This very differentiation makes the whole problem even more challenging to be solved. The film did attract controversies in the social media for the statistics mentioned in the poster. This review does not focus on any statistics or data or facts or figures but this review definitely highlights that how relevant it is to have such a film even in 2018, post 71 years of independence. The film is indeed very close to the reality. Some might compare the film with Garam Hawa (a masterpiece film released in 1973). Garam Hawa dealt with the plight of those people as well as the adverse situations faced by them who chose to stay back in India itself and decided not to migrate to Pakistan. Even after so many years, the wound of partition has not healed. Mulk not only focuses on the plight of a North Indian Muslim family who chose India post-independence, but also it emphasizes on the poisoned mindset which needs to be changed, the frames of references which need reality checks. It is not that the film does not get preachy at times, it is not that at times drama gets a bit exaggerated, but these can be very well ignored since the intention of the film is too good and needs to be applauded. Not only every Indian but every human being all across the globe must watch Mulk, since it is the necessity of the mankind to have peace all across the ecosystem especially when we are living in a nation of religious, social, cultural, linguistic diversities.

    August 03, 18
  • Saheb Biwi aur Gangster 3, is a thriller – the third one in the series of Saheb Biwi aur Gangster by Tigmanshu Dhulia. The film fails to rise beyond mediocrity. It is the same old story of restlessness of ex-royal families, love, sex, treachery, power snatching, revenge, manipulations etc. The film gets very much predictable, since it has nothing new to offer than its previous two installments – ‘Saheb Biwi aur Gangster’ and ‘Saheb Biwi aur Gangster Returns’. The film has so many characters but most of them are shortchanged – be it the characters of Nafisa Ali, Soha Ali Khan, Deepraj Rana, Kabir Bedi, Deepak Tijori or the gorgeous Chitrangada Singh. Sanjay Dutt has very dispassionately acted, in fact, many of his dialogue deliveries also look very superficial. The only highlights of the film are Jimmy Shergill and Mahi Gill and their scenes together with ongoing banter, manipulations, hide and seek game of revenge etc. The plot certainly had tremendous scope, but it seems that the plot is not explored to the depth, dealt at a very shallow level. Saheb Biwi aur Gangster 3 suffers from poor screenplay and shortchanged characters.

    The film begins from where the second film in its series ‘Saheb Biwi aur Ganhster returns’ ends. Saheb – Aditya (Jimmy Shergill), is imprisoned on a murder charge. Biwi – Madhavi (Mahi Gill), who is now a Member of Parliament as well, does lot of manipulations so as to ensure that Aditya does not get bail. But ultimately Aditya also through crooked manners manages to get bail. Gangster – Uday (Sanjay Dutt) also belongs to a royal family, who is notorious for his bad temperament. He had to go on exile for 20 years. On his return to India, not only conspiracy within his family begins but also the drama begins amongst Saheb, Biwi and the Gangster.

    Saheb Biwi aur Gangster 3’s plot certainly had tremendous scope, but it seems that the plot is not explored to the depth, dealt at a very shallow level. It suffers from poor screenplay and shortchanged characters. The only highlights of the film are Jimmy Shergill and Mahi Gill and their scenes together with ongoing banter, manipulations, hide and seek game of revenge etc.

    July 29, 18
  • Veere Di Wedding, an all-girl ensemble comedy, by Shashanka Ghosh, had all the potential for being another wonderful film on friendship like that of Dil Chahta Hai, Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, but it turns out to be a disappointing take on friendship, life, love, relationships etc. It could have been really a beautiful film, if the focus was on how females bond with one another as well as with the male fraternity, their relationship issues, challenges in lives, their sense of insecurities and of course the girlie-chill-out moments. But Shashanka focused on marriage of one of the protagonists, and touched upon others’ marital / single status. The world is changing, girls’ lives are no longer revolving around just marriage, there is more to their lives, I wish, these moments were also captured. Even the girls’ friendships are showcased at a very shallow level; the depth of female bonding is absolutely missing. Shashanka did try to showcase marital conflicts, gay relationships, parents / elders’ conflicts with children, breaking of relationships due to ego hassles, losing trust in relationships due to witnessing failed relationship of parents or in and around. But none of these were handled with depth. The characters certainly seem real with them being dysfunctional, not so perfect; but shallowness in the screenplay did not do justice to the characters. Occasionally it did appear that the film is picking up, but it did not sustain for long. Even the conflicts introduced in the film were not given much attention. Veere Di Wedding misses a great opportunity to be a masala entertainer and a blockbuster.

    The four protagonists’ lives, all four have distinct characters and their own struggles: Kalindi (Kareena Kapoor) is being proposed by Rishabh (Sumeet Vyas) and Kalindi accepting the same after much of reluctance. She is unable to believe in the institution of marriage in spite of saying yes to Rishabh. Shikha (Meera Sood), mother of a child, is still struggling to accept the changes in life, when a baby is born and also struggling to come to terms with the fact that her marriage was not accepted by her family. Avni (Sonal Kapoor), a divorce lawyer, who desperately wants to get married, but finds it overbearing to deal with her mother (Neena Gupta) who keeps on pestering her to look into Bharat Matrimony profiles and to get married. And Sakshi (Swara Bhaskar), who had a lavish wedding but now heading towards divorce. Sakshi finds it difficult to handle the gossipmonger aunties and also discuss with her parents, although non-interfering, regarding failure of her marriage.

    All four of them get together when Kalindi (fondly known as Kalu) declares her marriage with Rishabh. What happens thereafter, how they stand for one another, how they question one another’s belief system, how they hang out together etc. take the story ahead.

    It misses a great opportunity to be a masala entertainer and a blockbuster.

    June 04, 18
  • Shoojit Sircar’s October has the combination of Juhi Chaturvedi’s empathetic writing and Varun Dhawan’s superlative restrained performance. The film may not have many elements of laughter, joy, celebration, music etc. but it shares a story which is full of human values. The emotions which are tapped in the film are that of sadness, grief, loss etc. The best part about the film is that Shoojit and Juhi never lose the track and insert any amount of exaggeration in the film. The tone of the film stays consistent. Yes, the pace may seem to be slow, but then, that is how life also moves when stuck in tragedy. The film takes an emotional leap towards the end. Another good part of the film is that the screenplay very clearly talks about certain human values viz. how important it is to be selfless when somebody is going through tough phase in his or her life; deeds devoid of any concrete results in sight or expectations are also important. The film can be summed up in one-liner, but the beauty of the film lies in how Juhi has captured the complexities of life, love, grief, death in a soulful manner. October may not appeal to you if your entertainment is linked to moments of laughter, but it would certainly touch your heart.

    Danish aka Dan (Varun Dhawan) and Shiuli (Banita Sandhu) are colleagues as management trainee in a five star hospital. Dan does not enjoy being trapped in mundane tasks. He keeps sharing with his colleagues and friends that he wants to own a restaurant. Shuili meets with an accident. Though she survives the accident, she slips into coma and she lies on bed simply like a vegetable. Dan and Shiuli were mere colleagues, their relationship was not at all explored prior to the accident. Shiuli’s last dialogue of her enquiry about Dan with her friend makes Dan wonder, why she was asking about him. This initially pulls him to hospital to Shiuli, but later on, he unconditionally visits her and evolves as a strong pillar of support for Shiuli’s family.
    Dan’s character is interesting, he is stubborn, persistent, consistent in nature who doggedly keeps visiting Shuili in hospital, whereas all others even his family questions him. Romance in not the underlying intention behind his visits to the hospital, which itself makes the scenes interesting. He is raw at places, innocence, cuteness also reflect. Varun has really tapped the character of Dan.

    A beautiful dialogue in the film, when Dan confronts Shuili’s uncle when he says that she might not recover and what if she wakes up and doesn’t remember who they are. Dan responds: So what, if she doesn’t remember who you are, at least all of you remember who she is.

    Banita Sandhu beautifully projects the character of Shiuli. The role might not have been an easy one for her. But she has certainly enacted very well and also captured the gloom of Shiuli.

    Another character, who gave goosebumps in certain shots, was that of Shiuli’s mother by Geetanjali Rao. A great performance by her too.

    April 13, 18
  • Abhinay Deo’s Blackmail, a black comedy film, does not turn out to be a promising film. Abhinav Deo’s Delhi Belly had become a box-office hit. He has tried the same genre in this film as well, but the film picks up only at certain shots. Irrfan Khan is a great actor and he generally brings his punches to the characters he plays on screen. But in blackmail, even his punches were missing in most of the places, could be due to the screenplay. The premise of the film is interesting that when a husband accidentally discovers his wife having an affair, how he deals with the same? Instead of confronting with his wife, he chooses to blackmail her. How does this blackmail impact his wife, wife’s boyfriend and how do they respond back is shown in rest of the film. Rather the trailer revealed the flow of the film. The film suffers from repetition syndrome.

    The initial parts of the film seemed interesting. Dev (Irrfan Khan) is trapped in his mundane routine. He prefers to play games on computer in office till late evenings rather than going back home to his loveless marriage. His wife Reena (Kriti Kulhari) is shown to be very detached towards Dev and she is just bothered to know whether Dev paid the TV bill or not. Dev has a list of his expenses written viz. loan emi, bills etc. Dev wished sincerely that his relationship with Reena improves. So, one day, he decided to surprise his wife by reaching home early and that is when he finds his wife in bed with her lover Ranjeet (Arunodaya Singh). Dev decides to blackmail Ranjeet.

    Rest of the film is all about how the events unfold when Dev starts the blackmailing. Dev’s blackmailing leads to a series of blackmails. It gets very repetitive and the film starts suffering as far as the content, pace, dialogues etc. are concerned. The subplots seemed forced.

    Irrfan Khan and Arunodya Singh rescue the film from being a boring one. Divya Dutt has done justice to her role, but her role itself seemed absolutely out of place in the film. Kriti is ok. The subplots involving Dev’s boss Omi Vaidya’s plans to capture the .market for toilet rolls did not add magic to the film. It is sad that Urmila Matondkar’s item song is absolutely forgettable.

    Abhinav Deo’s Blackmail suffers from repetition syndrome. Irrfan and Arunodaya do add value to the film with their presence. The premise of the film is interesting but it does not pick up.

    April 11, 18
  • Pari, a film by Prosit Roy, is a latest addition to the horror genre. Generally, Indian horror films have regular set patterns of execution with some creepy / spooky sound effects, revenge seeking saga, murder, extortionist bringing some remedies etc. A few of the Indian horror films which did well in the recent past are Raat, Bhoot, 1920, Raaz etc. Many times, what happens with the horror films is that it turns out to be a comedy, or it just turns out to be a screenplay with some forced logical plots. But, we have Pari, a supernatural horror film, which is with an exception of not using creepy / spooky sound effects and illogical plots, although, the screenplay gets incoherent at times. The film has reference of a supernatural creature ‘Ifrit’ of Arabic and Islamic culture. Ifrit means the most powerful and dangerous jinn. It also showcases devil-worshiping cult and women in chains. The film also addresses human issues that of romance, drama etc. Pari is certainly a different film, but it does not establish itself as one of the best engaging horror film. Pari starts slowly, it takes almost first half to build up the plot. The strength of this film is the performance of Anushka, who is horrifying, vulnerable, scary etc. Anushka is also one of the producer of this film (this is her third production attempt after NH 10 and Phillauri). Should Anushka try making a happy film next?

    The backdrop of the film is Kolkatta. Major incidents in the film are clubbed with rain too. Arnab (Parambrata Chatterjee) along with his parents is on his way back home after meeting Piyali (Ritabhari Chakraborty) as part of matchmaking process. His vehicle hits an old lady who is declared to be dead at hospital. Search for her relatives end up in Arnab’s finding Rukhsana (Anushka Sharma) in shackles in an isolated house in the forest. The external world is new for me. Circumstances shape up in such a manner that Rukhsana starts staying in Arnab’s house. Arnab’s empathy goes with Rukhsana, but as expected, story takes a different turn, where Arnab gets to know another side of timid Rukhsana.

    Qasim Ali (Rajat Kapoor) is a Bangladeshi professor, who was once heading Qayamat Andolan. His motives seem ambiguous to the viewers in the beginning. But later on, it becomes clear.

    Watch the film to seek answers to these questions. Why Rukhsana was kept in shackles? What was the intention of Qasim Ali ? What was this Qayamat Andolan all about? How does Arnab’s relationship with Piyali move ahead? How the climax shapes up?

    Pari, a supernatural horror film, certainly is different with an exception of not using creepy / spooky sound effects and illogical plots. It clubs the supernatural and human aspects. It had the potential to be a great engaging film. But it fails to be so due to slow pace, clichéd climax and incoherence in certain scenes. Watch it, if you want to watch a different film in the horror genre.

    March 04, 18
  • It is certainly appreciable that Indian films are choosing topics of social taboo and Pad Man is the latest one which talks about women’s menstrual hygiene and their need to use sanitary pads. In our country, menstruating women are treated as outcast on these days and barred from entering temples and kitchens, it is a matter of debate, since it deals with belief system of many. So, it is a welcome change, when efforts are being made to talk about such topics of societal taboo and what best media other than a film to deal with such paradigm shift needed. Pad Man is a film which is inspired from the life of Arunachalam Muruganantham, a social entrepreneur from Coimbatore (Tamil Nadu). He is the inventor of low-cost sanitary pad-making machine. His innovative grassroot mechanisms for generating awareness about traditional unhygienic practices around menstruation has done wonders for women in rural India. He has not commercialized his mini machines which can manufacture sanitary pads for less than a third of the cost of commercial pads, rather he has chosen to sell it to self-help groups run by women. As per Wikipedia, these mini machines have been installed in 23 of 29 states of India, and he is planning to expand the production of these machines to 106 nations.
    Along with many awards conferred on him, he was included in Time Magazine’s list of 100 Most Influential People in the World in 2014 and also Padma Shri in 2016 by Government of India.

    One thing which is to be noted is that Pad Man, as it is claimed by the makers, is not the first film on Arunachalam. Amit Virmani has made a documentary ‘Menstrual Man’, Abhishek Saxena made Phullu (2017) and there is another unreleased film “I-Pad” made in 2015 by Amit Rai. Twinkle Khanna had come out with ‘The Legend of Lakshmi Prasad” – a collection of four stories in 2016, out of which one story is “The Sanitary Man of Sacred Land” on which Pad Man is supposed to be based on. Of course, more the films on these subjects, it is good so as to create more and more awareness amongst people and get rid of taboo. So, Pad Man by R. Balki with Akshay Kumar and Radhika Apte in the lead is successful in creating the right buzz.

    R Balki has chosen to give fictional names to his protagonists Akshay Kumar and Radhika Apte and also he has picked up the backdrop of Bhopal rather than Coimbatore. R Balki and Swanand Kirkire as writers does mention the statistics as well in the film that only 12% of women in India use sanitary pads. They have kept the tone of the film very light without making it preachy. Sensibilities of the audience is taken into consideration. The emotions of the females, the belief system of considering oneself unsacred during menstruating days, not entering Kitchen / temples, the celebration (almost like mini-wedding) when a girl matures and the confusion of male fraternity are very well captured in the screenplay.

    February 09, 18
  • Secret Superstar, a film by Advait Chandan, is a perfect treat to movie lovers in this festive season of Diwali. Diwali is a festival of not only lighting lamps outside but it is all about how we deal with the darkness inside. This festival is also about the inner triumph and winning over one’s fears, insecurities, compulsion to succumb to situations and accepting defeat. In this film, we see a 15 year old girl who dares to fulfill her dream of becoming a singing superstar. It is about her journey to be the singing sensation through her you tube videos and finally becoming the playback singer. A very simple film but it showcases serious issues underlying in our patriarchic society. The story has lot of heartwarming moments, rather some heartbreaking moments as well. Secret Superstar is about how a teenager achieves her dreams in spite of all odds. She is not ready to play victim card but she takes up the charge of the situation and chooses the best possible option. The film has some beautiful mother-daughter moments. One gets amazed at the kind of maturity a 15 year old girl has in understanding her mother’s ordeal who constantly suffers due to domestic violence. The film prompts us to question our own existence, do we die even when we are breathing and is there any life left within us when we don’t dare to dream, don’t stand up for our rights. The film does take certain cinematic liberties, certain conflicts getting resolved in not-so-realistic manner, and ofcourse making certain scenes a bit melodramatic. But, these minor flaws don’t snatch away the potential of Secret Superstar to be a superhit. Secret Superstar showcases domestic violence, female infanticide, hypocrite patriarch society, indiscrimination between a girl and a boy child, imposing marriage on teenage girls etc. On the other hand, it also projects the spirit to live life on one’s own terms and conditions, with the feeling of power of liberation from inside, set oneself free from all negativities and toxicities around and pursue passion in a focused manner etc. Watch Secret Superstar.

    The film begins with a few students singing Antakshari in train. Insiya’s (Zaira Wasim, Dangal fame – young Geeta Phogat) entry happens with her singing a beautiful song ‘Sapna re…’. Chintan (Tirth Sharma), her classmate, seems to be smitten with her. Insiya’s mother Najma Malik (Meher Vij) waits at Vadodara railway station to receive Insiya. Insiya gets troubled to see the scar of domestic violence on Najma’s face. The initial scenes make it very clear that Insiya belongs to a conservative family. Her Father Farookh Malik (Raj Arjun) does not give a damn to his wife, humiliates her, physically abuses her for even small things. He is against Insiya playing guitar and following music. He does create hurdle for Insiya. But Najma is a big support system for Insiya. She finds out her own ways to support Insiya without Farookh’s knowledge. Still, both of them are unable to stand up in front of Farookh who just can’t tolerate Insiya’s musical interests. Insiya has her paternal grandmother Farrukh Jaffar and a younger brother Guddu (Kabir Sajjid) at home. Guddu brings his innocence to the story.

    Shakti (Aamir Khan) is an arrogant Music Director who has lost his credibility. His personal as well as professional lives are under the media scrutiny. He picks up fight with other artists as well. As per one of the dialogue of the film, he creates remix of those songs which never got released.

    What paths Insiya choose to fulfill her dream? How does Shakti become instrumental in facilitating her journey and giving a boost to her dream? How does Najma support Insiya in fulfilling her dream? How does Najma manage to fight her humiliations by husband? What role Chintan play and how he manages to grow to be a good friend of Insiya? Farrukh Jaffar plays the role of paternal grandmother of Insiya. Initially her character seems to be that of a mere spectator but her one dialogue towards the end makes her presence and character clear.

    I think, it is intentionally chosen to keep the characters not –so – perfect. For example, Insiya is not shown as a perfect daughter, sister or granddaughter. This makes the character look realistic.

    What appeared unrealistic in the film is certain aspects viz. Insiya becoming overnight you-tube singing sensation, and how she gets the support of an otherwise arrogant and flamboyant Shakti. The plot is certainly predictable, but yes, the film does keep the audience intrigued.

    Also, music could have been more soulful. Certainly some of the songs ‘Main Kaun hoon’, ‘Meri Pyari Ammi’ and ‘Nachdi Fira’ are good.

    There were many moments in the film where I had to fight my tears of joy as well as gloom. Every time, Insiya took charge and moved one step ahead towards her dream, it gave me goosebumps. The warmth of mother-daughter relationship brought tears of joy in my eyes. The abusive father’s screaming did generate anger within me.

    The best performance comes from Mehar Vij as mother Najma. She is so expressive. Zaira Wasim also gives a great performance. She brings lot of maturity to the character of Insiya. Zaira is good in projecting her vulnerabilities, her excitement, irritation, impatience and passion etc. Raj Arjun is good as father, one tempts to hate him for his typical dominating behaviour. What to talk about Aamir Khan? He is one actor in our country, whose preparation and transformation for every role is absolutely incredible. In Secret Superstar also, he has very few scenes, but his presence is felt throughout the film. He has so convincingly projected the brat, arrogant, flirt, short-tempered as well as compassionate Shakti. He loves real talents. He has his grievances of not getting his due from the industry since he has not received any awards. Tirth Sharma as Chintan is also very good and noticeable as a teenage friend, admirer and supporter of Insiya.

    Secret Superstar is the story of triumph over inner and outer toxicities which keep us away from following our dreams and passion and henceforth not living life at all. Secret Superstar is certainly superhit in terms of its content and superlative performances. Secret Superstar is about how a teenager achieves her dreams in spite of all odds. She is not ready to play victim card but she takes up the charge of the situation and chooses the best possible option. The film belongs to Zaira and Meher. A wonderful gift on Diwali, the festival of lights.

    October 19, 17
  • Chef, a film by Raja Krishna Menon (Airlift fame), is a great refreshment. It is a remake of 2014 American film by the same name Chef. Raja Krishna Menon has this uncanny knack of handling the complex emotions in a very simplified manner which touches one’s heart. This is what he did with Airlift too, which was a tribute to the human spirits that find path even amidst turbulence, gathers courage in spite of losing everything. In Chef also, Raja Krishna Menon is able to strike the right chord of emotions. His film lets us know that it is not important to be loud, melodramatic to express the emotions and make it reach people. The most complicated emotions of differences in relationships, separations, claiming ownership in relationships, sense of envy, possessiveness, the difference between ‘the need’ and ‘the want’ etc. are so beautifully conveyed in the film. There is not a single scene in the film which is negatively treated. No over the top characters. All characters are so beautifully sketched, one can see ‘self’ in them. Rather, there is so much to learn from every character. Saif’s character lets us understand that relationships are integral part of life, these need to be preserved and not to be taken for granted and be complacent. Saif’s character also facilitates us to understand that how important it is to have work-life balance, align professional success with personal success as well. Padmapriya’s character teaches us resilience and also how high emotional quotient can help us achieve balance in life. The child actor Svar Kamble’s character makes us want to restore the innocence in our lives and at the same time be sharply observant of everything happening in and around us. And the whole theme of the film uses cooking as a metaphor, as cooking food is an art, similarly, living life is also an art. One needs to have the right mix of all the required ingredients to make every moment of life awesome and be alive while living this life. Chef cooks delicious food which would certainly suit one’s taste buds. A beautiful, delightful and tasty film on cuisine of life, which has all ethos, pathos and logos in place.

    The film begins with the streets of Chandni Chowk with Saif Ali Khan’s narration in the background. His character is named Roshan Kalra, who even as a 10 year old is instinctively drawn towards food. His nose is one of the strongest sensory organ. He is shown enjoying food as well as having an interest towards cooking food. And like other parents, his father also wanted him to focus on studies and grow up to be either an engineer or a doctor, but Roshan was meant for an altogether different and unconventional profession as a Chef. He chooses to run away from home at the age of 15, and after spending a few years at Amritsar and learning cooking, he reaches America and settles there. The grown up Roshan makes entry in the film as an arrogant, narcissistic but creative Chef. He smashes a customer’s nose on getting a negative feedback about food. This turns out to be very costly for him, the post goes viral on twitter, he first lands up in lock-up and then gets fired at work. Struggling to pick up the jagged pieces of his shattered career, he decides to join his son Arman aka Arry (Svar Kamble) and ex-wife Radha Menon (Padmapriya) at Cochin in Kerala. Although all these while, he genuinely cared about Armaan and Radha, the love of his life is food and his work as Chef. Though not explicitly shown, this is why probably he is divorced and why his spending time with Armaan is just an on and off proposition. This is explained visually through a song that how Roshan and Padmapriya start experiencing emotional absence in their relationship.
    It is beautiful to see the ice-breaking happening between father and the son. Radha is a wonderful dancer who is shown training students. Biju (Milind Suman) is Radha’s friend who is very much pally with Arman too. Situations prompt Roshan to start Raasta Café (A mobile food truck). The journey of Rassta Café, right from its inception to execution, become instrumental in Roshan’s undergoing a self-evolution journey. How Roshan’s relationship with Armaan and Priya evolves, how he becomes more tolerant in his life, and how he is finally able to mix the right ingredients to make life beautiful forms the story later.

    Saif Ali Khan as Roshan Kalra has really done the role beautifully. His mannerisms and overall screen persona makes the character look so credible and affable. Beautiful Padmapriya brings so much stability to her character through her subtle performance. Her eyes speak a lot, and she has a great expressive face. She brings so much poise and confidence to Radha’s character. Svar Kamble is very good as Armaan. Presence of Chandan Roy Sanyal as Roshan’s colleague and friend ‘Ji raha hoon bas’ infuses his comic sense wonderfully, although one feels like having more of him in the film. Milind Suman brings maturity to his character Biju. Sobhita Dhulipala as Vinnie is also convincing as Roshan’s good friend who does pose questions which finally turn out the reasons for Roshan to think about a different perspective. Rest of the cast also have given good performances.

    The film does take a dig at Kerala Trade Union’s interference. In another scene, a policeman’s attempt to pose problems to street vendors and in the process earn is also shown.

    Chef’s screenplay packs many powerful moments which is all about how to live this beautiful life. The dance sequence of Saif and Padmapriya is simply awesome.

    Music is another highlight of the film. Every song is very meaningful and linked to the screenplay well. Raghu Dixit and Amaal Malik have done great jobs. Raghu does make a special appearance in the film with his power-packed performance.

    The film integrates the scenic beauty of God’s own country Kerala, the life of Goa and the hustle-bustle of Chandni Chowk street and Connaught Place in Delhi.

    Raja Krishna Menon’s Chef is a great refreshment. The whole theme of the film uses cooking as a metaphor, as cooking food is an art, similarly, living life is also an art. Chef cooks delicious food which would certainly suit one’s taste buds. A beautiful, delightful and tasty film on cuisine of life, which has all ethos, pathos and logos in place.

    October 05, 17
  • Judwaa 2, a film by David Dhawan, is the remake of Salman Khan’s Judwaa (1997). David Dhawan is known for his comedy films. David Dhawan’s combination with his stars viz. Govinda, Salman Khan etc. had certainly done wonders in the past at box office and also as far as entertainment values were concerned (in nineties). Judwaa with Salman Khan was no exception to this. Judwaa 2 is just a copy of the original Judwaa, with certain changes to the dialogues so as to incorporate the contemporary what’s app jokes. In fact, 1997 Judwaa is remake of Nagarjuna’s Telugu film Hello Bother (1994), which was in turn inspired from Jackie Chan’s Twin Dragons (1992). Years went by, obviously the world has changed. The sensibilities of the audience towards a film or the plot have already changed in last twenty years. Many jokes, or situations of the earlier version shown in Judwaa 2 seemed absolutely out of context, misfit and irrelevant. So, one of the pertinent questions which arise is whether this remake of Judwaa 2 was required at all or not. One thing is for sure that Varun Dhawan is the ideal choice to pull off the double role. Varun Dhawan is one of the contemporary actor who really puts his heart and soul into the characters, which we saw in his few films especially Badlapur. In Judwaa 2 as well, although Varun Dhawan is in terrific form, but not in his original form, he imitates Salman’s style at many points. Varun Dhawan has certainly made the two lead twin characters look different through his mannerisms, but comparisons are bound to happen between the original Judwaa Salman Khan and Varun Dhawan. Judwaa 2 is not a great entertainer, although, there are certain moments, where one bursts out into laughter.

    The film begins with a businessman Rajiv Malhotra’s (Sachin) presence of mind to help the police to catch hold of a criminal Charles (Zakir Hussain). Parallelly, Rajiv’s wife (Prachi) delivers twin boys at the hospital. Charles runs away with one of the boys as a revenge, he gets caught but the child gets separated from parents. So, that is how Prem and Raja (Varun Dhawan) are introduced. Prem is brought up at London and Raja at Mumbai Versova. Prem is sophisticated music loving student and Raja is tapori. Raja also reached London along with his friend Nandu (Rajpal Yadav) with the help of Pappu Passport (Johny Lever). And that is when, challenges for Prem and Raja begin as they were born as conjoined twins, which means when they are in the same geographical location, their reflexes are same. Alishka (Jacqueline Fernandez) and Samaira (Taapsee Pannu) are the girls in Raja and Prem’s lives respectively. Confusion becomes the conflict in the script. Alishka and Samaira keep getting confused signals when Prem and Raja happens to come in front of them at different points of time. Kissing becomes an integral part of the screenplay whenever the leading girls meet the boys. The film also takes a dig at various actors by using their dialogue delivery style viz. Shahrukh Khan, Ranveer Singh etc. What happens in the film and how the story moves further is known to us. But yes, please do watch the full film for the climax scene, which has a surprise in store for the viewers.

    Varun as Prem and Raja does get maximum screen time. Tapasee certainly tries her hand in comedy after Pink, Naam Shabana, and she is good as well as far s her comic timing is concerned, but she had nothing much to do. Jacqueline does that in which she is good at i.e. giggling. Anupam Kher as Samara’s father Bakshi, Rajpal Yadav as Raja’s friend Nandu, Pavan Malhotra as Officer Dhillon, Ali Asgar as Doctor, Vivan Bhatena as Alex, one of the villain, are all underutilized in the film. Johnny Lever just appears for a scene. One of the weakest link is Samaira’s mother’s character portrayed by Upasana Singh on screen. Her character is so poorly sketched, who is shown to be flirting with her daughter’s boyfriend.

    Judwaa 2 is not a great entertainer in spite of Varun Dhawan’s terrific performance. The sensibilities of the audience towards a film or the plot have already changed in last twenty years. Many jokes, or situations of the earlier version seemed absolutely out of context, misfit and irrelevant. So, one of the pertinent questions which arise is whether this remake of Judwaa 2 was required at all or not.

    October 03, 17
  • Newton, a film by Amit Masurkar, has already created the news headlines by being nominated for the Oscars. Newton had its World Premier at 67th Berlin International Film Festival’s Forum Section. Newton is a satire on our country’s democracy and voting system. The manipulations are ingrained in the system. There is no space for an officer who wants to get the voting done as per the rule books. He has to bear the consequences for his honesty and sincerity. The best part of the film Newton is that its screenplay is full of humour, and to top it all, terrific actors Pankaj Tripathi, Rajkummar Rao, Raghbir Yadav, Anjali Patil and Sanjay Mishra (special appearance) are there. It is a visual treat to watch Pankaj, Rajkummar and Raghubir in the same frame on screen. The film is titled very thoughtfully, rather this is used as a metaphor. As per one of the dialogue delivered by Sanjay Mishra’s character, Newton was the one who nullified the difference between the sky and the earth. And explaining it further he conveys that be it Ambani or anyone poor also, if somebody falls from the top, they have to go down only. Newton did remind me of Peepli Live which was another beautiful satire on the irresponsible and sensitizing journalism prevalent in our country. It is challenging to maintain the humour even when the scenes revolve around one of the most serious and relevant topic of voting system. As citizens of this country, many times, we are not even aware how voting system is manipulated. Especially in a democratic country like ours, it is claimed that people elect leaders. Amit Masurkar shows us ‘what is unseen’ or ‘what goes ignored’ by us. The very procedure of voting becomes questionable. The film says that the system is in place, but the authenticity and credibility is missing. Newton explores it beautifully.

    The film begins with a politician doing his election campaign, asking for votes and promising mobile phones / laptops. He is shot dead on his way back after the campaign.

    Another frame, where, Newton (Rajkummar Rao) is there with parents to see a girl. He is astonished to find that the girl is a minor, and not even 10th pass. He puts his foot down and walks out of the girl’s house in spite of offered dowry. And ultimately he ends up in a confrontational mode with his father (Bachan Pachehra) over his denying to marry that girl.

    Then, we get to see Sanjay Mishra training the officials who are selected for election duty. He explains the usage of voting machines. He also adds that it is important to have integrity and loyalty. He also asks the officials not to resist and give away everything to the attackers as per their demand, in case, any polling booth is attacked. Sanjay Mishra explains to the officials that re-election can be done and if even that is being hindered by people, re-re-election can be done. Newton is one amongst the officials who are attending this session.

    During a casual chat with Sanjay Mishra, Newton explains that how he rechristened his name from Nutan to Newton in 10th standard by changing ‘Nu’ to ‘New’ and ‘tan’ to ‘Ton’.

    When an official denies going for election duty to the forest area of Chattisgarh, which is supposedly under Naxal influence / control, Newton agrees to go there without any reluctance to gather the votes by 70 odd people as voters.

    Newton and his team Loknath (Raghubir Yadav) and Shambo0 (Mukesh Prajapati) are airdropped in Dandakaranya region. Newton meets Aatma Singh (Pankaj Tripathi), an Army Officer, who has served and looked over many elections in war-torn parts of the country. Aatma tries to dissuade them from going ahead to seek voting from the voters, but Newton does not pay heed to that. Aatma was left with no option than to accompany these officers. By that time Malko (Anjali Patil), a teacher and local booth officer, also joins them.

    They all reach the election venue. For Loknath, it is another polling day, so he is very casual about the whole thing. Malko, excited in the beginning, but later she gives up. Shamboo just sleeps and does not do anything unless and until asked to. What happens afterwards ? Do the voters turn out ? Are the voters able to cast votes? Does any Naxal attack happen? Do the Adivasis, who lived in those areas for centuries, understand the whole concept of voting? What do they want in return? How does the concept of democracy exercised? What happenes to the conflict between Aatma and Newton, since Aatma is keen to get out of the place with his men before darkness descends whereas Netwon is determined to ensure polling under any circumstances.

    Amit Masurkar and Mayank Tewari’s screenplay is successful in keeping this dark comedy consistent in its humour. They have not tried to find answers or solutions to the problems pertinent in our country, but have realistically portrayed the situations. Without showing any violence or fights, the reality is felt through dialogues. One of the dialogue is: “We want to break free from both the government forces and the Maoists”. Another dialogue, when Malko is asked about her being a Nirashavadi (pessimistic), she responds – “I am Adivasi”. Malko’s character reiterates the hard fact that nothing changes on the ground no matter how many elections are conducted.

    Newton is a satire on India’s electoral system, democracy, bureaucracy, law and order machinery etc. and it hits the bull’s eye. It raises many serious questions about the manipulations and distortions that have crept into the democratic processes in our country. The film does not really seek answers, but does make its point clear. Newton makes us experience various emotions simultaneously. Powerful Screenplay packed with Powerful Performances by Pankaj Tripathi, Rajkummar Rao, Raghubir Yadav, Anjali Patil and Sanjai Mishra makes Newton a delightful and thought-provoking watch.

    September 24, 17
  • Haseena Parker, a film by Apoorva Lakhia, is a biopic on Mumbai’s Lady Don, the Godmother of Nagapada – Haseena Aapa, younger sister of Dawood Ibrahim. It was believed that Haseena took up the control of operations of Dawood’s business in India. She was notorious for running an extortion racket in Mumbai and also allegedly involved in hawala rackets in sending money from India to Middle East and vice versa. It is said that Arun Gawli Gang murdered her husband Ismail Parkar in 1991. Soon after that she entered into the crime world. Dawood had retaliated to his brother-in-law’s death by a shootout at JJ Hospital and killing innocents as well in the process. Haseena shifted to the Gordon Hall Apartments in Nagpada from where she headed the crime syndicate. She dies of heart attack in 2014. The film takes us through the journey of Haseena from a meek, 7th standard pass out daughter of an honest police constable Ibrahim Kaskar to wife of an hotel owner / actor Ismail Parker to the Lady Don’s status. But the challenge with the film is it does not really let us know who Haseena is, it is just a chronological journey of Haseena’s life. But what sort of person she was, what did she feel, and how that inner transformation from a powerless girl to powerful don happened – all these are superficially dealt with, rather what we have read in newspapers. But, the film will definitely is intriguing as far as one needs to understand the flow of events in her life.

    The film begins with the dramatic entry of Haseena Parker and a few other ladied in Burqa. . Journalists and people outside the court are having doubt whether Haseena Aapa would come for the court proceedings. And finally when she comes, people were not able to figure out who the original Haseena Parker was. Further the film unravels through court proceedings where Haseena Parker (Shraddha Kapoor) is questioned in an extortion case against a builder. Haseena, who was one amongst the 12 children (probably 7th) of Ibrahim Kaskar and Amina Bi. They used to live in a very small house. The questions by the lady Public Prosecutor (Priyanka Sethia) is arranged by the director in such a manner that its answers takes us to the flask back to Haseena’s life. Haseena was extremely attached to her brother Dawood Ibrahim (Siddhant Kapoor, Shraddha’s real brother). Her father Ibrahim Kaskar was an honest constable, who did not even shy away from making his sons Dawood and Sabir surrender before the police for their robberies. But Dawood was unstoppable, he grew to be the king of underworld very soon. Haseena is shown to have shared a special bond with Dawood. She gets married to Ismail Parker (Ankur Bhatia), owner of a small restaurant as well as an actor. When asked by Dawood that how she was after the marriage, she expressed that she could experience freedom of choice, freedom of living life after marriage. This is beautifully captured, where one gets to understand the real pain of Haseena, wherein the male fraternity have always decided for her but she was happy after marriage since she could breathe freely. Stories move further to the instances where Dawood had to flee abroad, Mumbai bomb blasts, JJ Hospital Shootouts, Haseena being mentally tortured by the police officials for her fault of being Dawood’s brother, murder of her husband Ismail Parker and then how she grew to be the Haseena Aapa.

    Shraddha looks good till she transforms into Haseena Aapa. Probably her make-up is not good, especially her cheeks look strange and also her frame looks different than the original Haseena Aapa. She does deglamorize herself for the role, but looks did not appear convincing. If we ignore her looks, she has certainly given her best possible shot to the role. Siddhant Kapoor has portrayed the role of Dawood Ibrahim well, although in the second half, his character is reduced to be the one living in posh White House in Dubai. Post intermission, he either appears in TV as a terrorist in news or else talking to Haseena over phone. One gets to miss the Ajay Devgan’s touch to Sultan Mirza and Imraan Hashmi’s Shoaib Khan in Once Upon a Time in Mumbai. Ankur Bhatia as Ismail Parker is good. Priyanka Sethia is a surprise package in the film, she is good while provoking, questioning Haseena Parker in the court and also in her verbal spats with the defense lawyer.

    Haseena Parker aka Haseena Aapa’s story unravels during courtroom drama. It is about her transformation from an innocent and meek sibling of Dawood Ibrahim to powerful lady don – Godmother of Nagapada. Apoorva Lakhia takes us through her journey chronologically but it turns out to be a collection of reports which we already have read in newspapers. The ‘real Haseena’ does not come out on screen except in one or two instances.

    September 24, 17
  • Bhoomi, a film by Omung Kumar and come-back film of Sanjay Dutt is one more film on a very disturbing topic of rape. The plot of the film is sensitive – a girl, who is brought up by her father, when grows up and is about to get married, a day prior to that she is being raped by a guy who was rejected by her. Offlate, we saw two Hindi films – Raveena Tandon’s Maatr and Sridevi’s Mom, where mothers rose heroically and at times in an unrealistic manner to take revenge against their daughters’ rapists. And in Kaabil also, same theme is used where a husband tries to take revenge for his wife’s ordeal. Here, we see Sanjay Dutt taking revenge for his daughter’s rape. The very word rape is scary, sensitive, disturbing and so whenever a film revolves around rape and revenge, it becomes difficult to review the film. But, as a piece of art, the film needs to be reviewed and on that front Bhoomi absolutely fails. It turns out to be a very tedious watch. It is sad that the victim girl is raped again and again by the society, neighbourhood. And, if the girl chooses to go to the court then she is subjected to another series of gang rapes by the advocates, witnesses etc. through the grilling processes during court proceedings. It is an irony that the men who are the culprits move freely in the society and they don’t even shy away from threatening the girl and her family / well-wishers. The film had potential, but it is beyond my understanding why Sanjay Dutt chose this one as his come-back film. We have seen him giving powerful performances in the past be it Agnipath or Vastava or Zinda… But here, a mediocre Sanjay is trapped in a mediocre film.

    The film begins with a girl being kidnapped and her juttis falling on the street. Then the frame moves back a month earlier where the titular character Bhoomi (Aditi) is shown performing in a marriage along with her fiancée Neeraj (Sidhant Gupta). The very first song ‘Jugni, will you marry me’ does not connect with the hearts. In another frame, Arun Sachdeva (Sanjay Dutt) and his brother (or friend, not clear) Shekhar Suman are shown to be drinking at home. Their conversation was intended to generate humour but unfortunately it does not happen. Bhoomi gets angry when she enters home and sees her dad and uncle drinking. She is then pampered by Arun and he persuades her to have food. These scenes could have been more powerful where the strong bond between father-daughter was to be established. Arun runs a footwear shop. Bhoomi is single-handed brought up by Arun, she stutters. Arun is very excited (though his expressions tell a different story altogether) for Bhoomi’s marriage. Vishal enters into the scene when Arun goes to his shop to distribute Bhoomi’s wedding card. Here audience got to see a very soft-spoken guy Vishal who loves Bhoomi. But later this very guy, when rejected in love by Bhoomi, becomes obsessed and joins hands with his cousin brothers (friends) for committing the crime. Dhauli (Sharad Kelkar) loves to play a game Hide and Cheekh (Shout) wherein men run behind girls and catch them to spend the nights. Oh, absolutely a b-grade film. To top it all, Sunny Leone appears in mud-clad-body in an item number. One keeps wondering that what happened to Omung Kumar, who gave us Mary Kom and Sarabjeet. Omung has not done justice to Bhoomi.

    The name Bhoomi might have been chosen metaphorically to show the patience of earth, but in many scenes, the characters have become mere spectators. Editing also seems weird.

    What happens to Bhoomi? What happens to her marriage with Neeraj (Sidhant Gupta)? How does she handle the turmoil of her life? How are the characters of Dhauli, Vishal, Jithu (Riddhi Sen) weaved in the story ?

    Certain questions which are there in my mind: Why Sanjay Dutt’s character had to be a drunkard? How did Aditi’s stuttering add to the script? Why Sanjay kept the same emotion on his face and maintained dopey monotone? What happened to Shekhar Suman? He has given a very dispassionate performance. Even, where the audience is supposed to laugh, his dialogues and mannerisms don’t generate any humour. And post –interval, his character vanishes for a pretty long time, whereas that was a crucial time, when he was supposed to be shown to be with Bhoomi and Arun; is it editing problem or the screenplay did not have it? Why the hell Arun had to eat lice while making Bhoomi’s hair? Initial proceedings in the court were focusing more on the love angle of Neeraj and Bhoomi rather than focusing on rape, why so ? Why did the villain characters lost their power every now and then?

    The film does highlight that minors can commit rape but not punished since he is not 18. It also shows a different kind of response towards the tragedy. But that is it!!!
    Bhoomi turns out to be a tedious watch. Mediocre actings trapped in mediocre script. The film does not pick up at all, be it in terms of story, screenplay, dialogues, acting, performances. Such a sensitive topic handled in an absolutely insensitive manner. Skip the film !!!

    September 24, 17
  • Simran, a film by Hansal Mehta, is inspired from the real-life sensational story of Indian-American Sandeep Kaur. She is known as “Bombshell Bandit” and “Gambling Queen” and currently serving a 66-month jail sentence in the United States of America for robbing banks. The film Simran is based on Sandeep’s life, about an ordinary girl pulling off heist like bank robberies in an absolutely unassuming manner and that too without any weapon. Sandeep used to wear wigs, fitting tracksuits and oversized sunglasses while she used to threaten bank tellers regarding her carrying a bomb, and demanding cash in return for not detonating it. Indeed an interesting premise and certainly Kangana is a great choice for the film. The film picks up very nicely in the beginning, Kangana’s quirky, eccentric, carefree, comic timing makes it an interesting watch, but somewhere the film loses its sheen especially post intermission. The focus was completely on the central character of Kangana and in this process, rest of the characters were ignored or not justified. And this does not turn out in the favour of the film, some shallowness has creeped into the film. Most of the critics are appreciating Kangana’s acting brilliance and blaming poor screenplay. But the fact is that the original screenplay was altered to the extent that the film turned out to be a bit different piece than what was conceptualized (https://www.thequint.com/entertainment/simran-kangana-ranaut-changes-to-script). Kangana is good and she has the potential to carry a film solely on her shoulders, but her presence in every frame and not so powerful character sketching of supporting cast makes a few links missing.

    Director Hansal Mehta and National Award winning editor Apurva Asrani have collaborated on many successful projects in the past viz. Shahid, Citylights and very much critically acclaimed Aligarh. Apurva turned into full-fledged screenwriter with Aligarh. So, when the duo of Hansal-Apurva collaborated with Kangana Ranaut for Simran, the film was bound to do wonders and it was one of the most awaited films since the time it went to floors in 2016. But offlate, the film was in news headlines due to controversies. Kangana’s explosive interviews regarding her affairs and breakups hogged the headlines. Prior to this, conflict between Apurva and Kangana erupted over the writing credits of Simran. Apurva had penned the story, screenplay and the dialogues for Simran and he had no qualms in accepting the fact that Kangana did give her valuable inputs as far as some scenes or dialogues were concerned. But Kangana was credited for the ‘Additional Dialogues and Story’ which appeared before Apurva’s name on the poster. This had to be corrected later when Apurva assertively responded. Apurva is an immensely talented writer who has given so much depth to the characters of Citylights, Shahid, Aligarh etc. In Simran, only Kangana is given importance, whereas rest of the characters are not sketched properly, and this definitely is not Apurva’s style of writing. So, a food for thought, how much an actor should intrude into the creative space of the writer? A writer is also an artist who visualizes the story coming alive on screen, the director executes and the actor makes it happen on screen. Every member of the cast and crew has their own strengths and better the collaboration-better the film. After watching the film, I just wished that the trio Hansal-Apurva-Kangana’s synergy remained intact atleast till the film was complete and ready for release.

    Praful Patel (Kangana) is working in the housekeeping department of a hotel since seven years. She belongs to a Gujarati family settled in Atlanta. Praful has accumulated money to buy her own house and she manages to locate a property at a very reasonable price under Minority Reservation quota. She has a love-hate relationship with her father Mohan (Hiten Kumar). He keeps blaming her for many aspects of her life: her divorced status, her not complying with the norms of the society, her not contributing to household expenses etc. Her mother Kumud (Kishori Shahane) does come forward to her rescue and keeps pacifying Mohan as well as Praful. Praful’s life takes a risky turn when her cousin Ambar (Aneesha Joshi) invites and takes her to Las Vegas for her bachelorette party. Praful gets surprised when she finds that Ambar was there to spend time with her ex boy-friend before saying final good bye. Praful gives both of them space and heads to walk in the streets of Vegas so as to ‘do sin in the sinful city’. She reaches Casino and comes to know regarding gambling. She tries her hand at Baccarat (a card game played at the casions). Initially she wins and that gives her confidence to pamper herself at beauty saloon and buys beautiful dress, lipstick etc. with the won money. Later, she ends up losing her money. She empties her savings and puts the money in the gambling, borrows money and loses that as well. Although Praful comes back home, she is haunted by the lenders. Meanwhile Sameer’s (Sohum Shah) proposal comes for her. Praful reluctantly meets him, but she is not interested to fall in love with this nice guy.

    How Praful handles the lenders? How does she commit robberies? How does she manage to escape form the eyes of the police department? Does Praful’s relationship with Sameer progress further? Why the title of the film Simran whereas the protagonist is Praful Patel? Does Praful mend her ways? What about her turbulent relationship with her father? What about her job at the hotel? Is she able to get over her addiction towards gambling and robbery? Watch the film to find out.

    The tone of the film is kept light and comical. The humour is very good at certain places viz. Praful’s befriending the bartender, flirting with the ‘hot’ guy, bargaining for a cap at Vegas street etc. Robbery scenes could have been improvised. The robbery scenes seemed too comfortable as well as repetitive although the intention was to take advantage of the fear in the minds of people toward terrorism. It seemed so convenient for Praful’s character to dodge the bank staffs and the police department.

    Two songs ‘Meet’ and ‘Baras ja’ are very good.

    As far as the cast is concerned, Kangana is a brilliant and powerful actress and she displays her terrific side in Simran too. Hiten Kumar and Kishori Shahane do their parts very well. Sohum Shah as Sameer could have displayed more passion. Rest of the characters’ presence on screen and their contribution / links to the story is very less.

    Simran has indeed an interesting premise and Kangana’s quirky, eccentric, carefree, comic timing makes it an interesting watch in the beginning, but somewhere the film loses its sheen especially post intermission. Her presence in every frame and not so powerful character sketching of supporting cast makes a few links missing. After watching the film, I just wished that the trio Hansal-Apurva-Kangana’s synergy remained intact atleast till the film was complete and ready for release.

    September 24, 17