• Chef cooks delicious food which would certainly suit one’s taste buds.

    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.
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    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 is not a great entertainer in spite of Varun Dhawan’s terrific performance.

    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 is a satire on India’s electoral system, democracy, bureaucracy, law and order machinery etc. and it hits the bull’s eye.

    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 aka Haseena Aapa’s story unravels during courtroom drama.

    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 turns out to be a tedious watch.

    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 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.

    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
  • An unconventional and funny take on erectile dysfunction in Shubh Mangal Savdhan evokes laughter.

    Shubh Mangal Savdhan, a film by RS Prasanna, is a remake of his own Tamil film Kalyana Samayal Saadham. It is a light film on a serious personal issue. Unfortunately this ‘very personal’ issue cannot be dealt in isolation. Prasanna chooses to highlight the issue of Erectile Dysfunction through this film. Especially in India, where sex and sexual problems are not discussed very openly or people feel embarrassed to discuss their sexual issues and take medical help, such a taboo topic is discussed in the film which certainly is a welcome change. Survey figures say that more than 152 million men world-wide suffer from erectile dysfunction. Latest studies report that earlier it was more prevalent in older men, but these days, it is even very common in youngsters as well. Causes of erectile dysfunction can be due to nerve pathology or at times due to psychological and interpersonal issues. The film does focus on this issue that erectile dysfunction can have severe psychological consequences as it can be tied to relationship difficulties and masculine self-image. Prasanna’s effort to explore sense of humour even amidst situations of gravity is good. The tone of the film is kept light and funny throughout. Humour in the script is brought in by using lot of cues, metaphorical references, double meaning jokes, although fall flat at times, but mostly it works in the favour of the film. Still, let me warn, some of you may not like the jokes and feel they are not appropriate. But, if taken in the good spirit, the dialogues are not vulgar.

    Mudit (Ayushman Khurrana) gets attracted to Sugandha (Bhoomi) and looking forward to express his love. But he somehow does not gather confidence to go to her and voice out his love for her. Sugandha certainly enjoys the attention showered on her by Mudit. She also expects Mudit to express himself directly, but Mudit and his family choose to send the proposal online. Sugandha finds it a very strange act since she wanted to fall in love and enjoy the whole process. She chooses to confront Mudit and their relationship kickstarts from there. Prior to engagement, during a private moment, when Mudit and Sugandha come closer, that is when Mudit confessed to Sugandha that he has ‘gents problem’ and it is illustrated visually on screen by a limp biscuit.

    What happens thereafter? Does Sugandha agree to get engaged to Mudit ? How do people in their lives react or respond, when Mudit’s personal issue no more remains ‘personal’? What happens when the family members and relatives also come to know of Mudit’s plight and ‘gents problem’?

    The premise of the film is simple. In fact the first half is developed nicely, where more focus is on the relationship between Mudit and Sugandha. But the second half nosedives and struggles to keep the humour quotient high. Fight between fathers of Mudit and Sugandha, ex-girlfriend of Mudit imposing her love upon him and the pre-climax scenes somewhere get overboard.

    But certainly Prasanna and his team must be applauded for choosing such a taboo subject and giving a hilarious treatment to the film. The best thing about Shubh Mangal Savdhan is that the setup, characters and dialogues all are believable. The film is shot in Delhi and Haridwar. The film does highlight the story of middle class families. The characters shown seem to be familiar. The characterization of Sugandha as an assertive yet sensitive girl is done well. Mudit’s awkwardness and frustration is also very much relatable. The cast also blends beautifully with their respective characters. Ayushman’s experimentation with unusual subjects is appreciable, be it his Vicky Donor, Dum Lagake Haisha, Bareilly ki Barfi or now the latest one Shubh Mangal Savdhan. Bhoomi is spontaneous in her performance. The pairing of Ayushman and Bhoomi is good. Seema Pahwa is excellent as Sugandha’s mother. Brijendra Kala and rest of the cast Anshul Chauhan, Neeraj Sood and Chittaranjan Tripathy are also very good.

    An unconventional and funny take on erectile dysfunction in Shubh Mangal Savdhan evokes laughter. Humour in the script is brought in by using a lot of cues, metaphorical references, double meaning jokes, although fall flat at times, but mostly it works in the favour of the film. The premise of the film is simple. In fact, the first half is developed nicely, where more focus is on the relationship between Mudit and Sugandha. But the second half nosedives and struggles to keep the humour quotient high and consistent.

    September 04, 17
  • Onscreen pairing of Nawazuddin and Jatin hits the target.

    Babumoshai Bandookbaaz is a dark film by Kushan Nandy. This film covers love, lust, violence, sex, gunshots, politics, and its power fights, betrayals, manipulations, vengeance, killings etc. The challenge with films of this genre is to keep the audience glued to the screen and make the film intriguing. This challenge is met by the cast of the film, be it Nawazuddin Siddique, Jatin Goswami, Bidita Bag, Divya Dutta, Bhagwan Tiwari, Murli Sharma. Their acts have certainly given new dimensions to the film. But sadly we have seen Nawazuddin Siddique in films of this genre – Gangs of Wasseypur, Badlapur, Raman Raghav 2.2 etc. Although he seems a bit repetitive in this film, one cannot deny the effortlessness with which he essays these roles and also how he adds his own exclusive flavour to various scenes.
    The backdrop of the story is set in the hinterlands of UP. Babumoshai Bandookbaaj, as the title suggests, is about a sharp shooter Babu Bihari (Nawazuddin Siddique), who works for Sumitra Jiji (Diya Dutta) and kills people. But a fall out between Babu Bihari and Jiji happens when Babu decides to pick up high-paying contract killings offered by her rival Dubey (Anil George). When he was on this mission, that is where his encounter happens with Banke Bihari (Jatin Goswami). Banke considers Babu as his role model. Babu is known in the criminal underworld for his effective and efficient shooting and killing. Banke is also on the same mission of killing three people for whom Babu has got the contract. Banke is ambitious and believes that he would one day be more ‘famous’ than Babu. Regarding the three contract killings which they both have got, they enter into a deal that whoever kills more would be a winner. Whenever Banke and Babu are on screen together, it is interesting to watch their banter. Babu and Banke have a kind of mentor-protégé relationship as well. Some predictable twists and turns lead to certain happenings which take a different course of the path for both Banke and Babu. And in this twists and turns Sumitra Jiji, her rival Dubey, Babu’s lady love Phulwa (Bidita Bag), a cobbler and Banke’s work-manager cum girl friend Yasmin, a young aspiring actress (Shraddha Das) are also involved. Phulwa’s character has learnt it hard way how to survive in this world and Babu falls for her due to her rough and blunt mannerisms.
    One cannot expect any specific message attached with such dark thrillers. But yes, in this film, it is certainly conveyed that ‘What goes around, come around’. Surprisingly, here is a film, in which one character Tarashankar (Bhagwan Tiwari), a policeman, fathers more and more boys expecting the next one to be a girl. Generally, we see this to be the other way round, a welcome change in the script.
    This dark film has its few moments of laughter. When Babu sees Phulwa for the first time, she was repairing some shoes, he tries to forcefully damage his footwear.
    Certain moments, though generate laughter, are very disturbing as well. A moment, where Babu and Banke both are arguing in front of their target that who can take the credit of the target’s killing shows how these murders are so routine for them. Banke’s assigning celebrity status to Babu is also funny. It is strange to see both Babu and Banke taking their contract killing job as any other profession. Tarashankar receiving call from his wife reminding him of some household chores when he is in midst of shoot-outs probably shows that how these manipulations and killings have become a mundane thing. Phulwa, a rape victim, offers to be Babu’s mistress if he is able to kill the men who raped her, is very much disturbing. Dead body after the killing is brought to butchers’ shop is another disturbing scene.
    It is difficult to believe that how one after getting a shot at forehead survives the death.
    If we talk about the cast, Nawazuddin, as mentioned earlier, we have seen him in such roles, but as always, he does add his own flavours. Jatin Goswami as Banke does give superlative performance. Bidita Bag is very natural in her performance and she gives an bsolutely uninhibited sensuous performance. Divya Dutta plays the local politician’s role very nicely, who is hungry for power and she also displays her lust effortlessly. Rest of the cast Bhagwan Tiwari, Anil George, Shraddha Das, Murli Sharma have less of screen time but have given noticeable performances.
    Babumoshai Bandookbaaz is a dark crime-thriller film about love, lust, violence, sex, gunshots, politics and its power fights, betrayals, manipulations, vengeance, killings etc. This film is certainly not everyone’s cup of tea. But as far as the specific genre of the film is concerned, we have seen films, even more, darker than Babumoshai Bandookbaazi in the past. What works in the favour of the film is Nawazuddin and Jatin’s pairing on the screen which hits the target. Please watch this film only if you can enjoy dark films and also a fan of Nawazuddin’s acting.

    August 27, 17
  • Inconsistent and shallow screenplay

    Jab Harry Met Sejal is a romantic comedy film written and directed by Imtiaz Ali. When the name of the film was declared, lots of criticisms were there since it sounded similar to Hollywood film title ‘When Harry met Sally’. There is always a certain level of expectation from Imtiaz Ali. His directorial journey started with Socha na Tha which was not a great success but his further films Jab we met, Love Aaj Kal, Rockstar, Highway, Tamasha brought him in the league of critically acclaimed young filmmakers.
    Jab Harry Met Sejal’s plot is very much familiar, we have seen it in previous films of Imtiaz Ali as well as that of Shahrukh Khan’s films. These days, it is very common in films that two Indian souls meet abroad, do engage in relationships without expecting to have any commitments. But slowly physical as well as emotional entanglement happens. And if one of them is already in a relationship, the confusion part also sets in. After the introduction of a few conflicts, finally these two souls meet. The plot of Jab Harry Met Sejal is so much similar. In fact Imtiaz himself has tried the same plot earlier. So, somewhere, Jab Harry Met Sejal does not click at all, soul is missing from the film. Imtiaz Ali is a brilliant director and the way he interprets his story, does character sketching is appreciable and we have seen some of his best works in the past. But Jab Harry Met Sejal is one of his weakest works. Somewhere, he has absolutely gone wrong in keeping the tone of the film very casual even while the characters are undergoing a process of self-discovery, trying to develop the power of discretion, distinguish between what their hearts and heads want, and finally the power of reunion is also diminished due to inconsistent and shallow screenplay.

    The film begins with Harry (Shahrukh Khan), a Punabi tour guide in Europe, taking a bunch of travellers around and seeing them off finally. Although Harry explains passionately to the travellers in regard to the places, he takes a deep breath, a sigh of relief, when he finally sees them off. One of his client is Sejal (Anushka) who decides to give a miss to her flight when she loses her engagement ring. Her fiancée and family members leave whereas she seeks Harry’s help in looking out for the lost ring. Sejal speaks with typical Gujarati accent. Initial instances, where Sejal gives no option to Harry than to accompany her in ring-search, does generate some laughter. Then the whole film revolves around their journey of ring-search all through Amsterdam, Vienna, Lisbon, Budapest, Prague etc. And as it is quite predictable, during this journey both Harry and Sejal end up exploring their inner self as well as their need for one another. Harry is a loner, who has not visited his home in Punjab since last many years. He seeks solace by indulging in casual sex and a few pegs of alcohol. Sejal belongs to a business family in Mumbai and she feels that she has to finally settle down there itself with Rupan, her fiancée. During this journey, both Harry and Sejal realize that in spite of their lives apparently in a happy state, something is still missing. That is where Harry and Sejal understand that they complete one another.

    I really don’t want to say that the film is absolutely bad. But the combination of Imtiaz Ali, Shahrukh Khan, Anushka and music of Pritam should have all together created a magical piece which did not happen ultimately. Instead of stamping the film in a particular category, let me list down “What Works” and “What does not work” in the film for your to decide whether you want to watch the film or not.

    What does not work in the film:
    Both Shahrukh and Anushka are actors who generally bring lot of charm to the screen by their presence. Their pairing in ‘Rab ne Bana Di Jodi’ and ‘Jab Tak Hai Jaan’ did add value to these films, but sadly in this film their pairing does not do any wonders. And, this is indeed a sad thing that two actors and good friends off-screen as well are not able to put their chemistry into optimum level on screen (But I would certainly mention about them individually in “What works in the film” below).

    Anushka is good in experimenting with her characters (still somehow she is not at her best in this film).

    The back story of Harry’s character is not explored properly.

    A few characters are not sketched at all like that of Evelyn Sharma and Chandan Roy Sanyal.

    The overall tone of the film is casual, so dialogues lack depth and soul.

    The screenplay is a big let down.

    What works in the film:
    The message (as in the previous films of Imtiaz) is profound that one must explore inner-self and undergo the process of self-discovery. Also, one must follow heart. Also, one must strive to find out what is missing in life. “What you seek is seeking you” – the main message of the film is very good.

    Shahrukh certainly has charm, which keeps up the spirit of the film at certain low points (Although at places, he even appeared lousy).

    The conflict induced by the presence of Gas (Chandan Roy Sanyal) seemed forced one, but somehow Chandan excelled even in his 5 minutes of screen time. He leaves impact.

    Aru Krishansh Verma as Mayank is good.

    Of course cinematography does justice to the foreign locale. Beautifully captured.

    Pritam has certainly done wonders with the music in the film (although some numbers are absolutely forgettable). Songs are used contextually.

    Certain wonderful moments: When Harry and Sejal sit and listen to a concert, both of them have moist eyes. A beautifully captured scene. Another scene, where Harry enacts as Sejal’s fiancée proposing her. One more scene is very soothing when Sejal finds comfort in Harry’s arms, the love between them seems serene.

    The combination of Imtiaz Ali, Shahrukh Khan, Anushka and music of Pritam should have all together created a magical piece which did not happen ultimately. Imtiaz Ali is a brilliant director and the way interprets his story, does character sketching is appreciable and we have seen some of his best works in the past. But Jab Harry Met Sejal does not click at all, a soul is missing from the film. Unfortunately, this is Imtiaz’ one of the weakest works so far. Somewhere, he has absolutely gone wrong in keeping the tone of the film very casual even while the characters are undergoing a process of self-discovery, trying to develop the power of discretion, distinguish between what their heart and head want, and finally the power of reunion is also diminished due to an inconsistent and shallow screenplay. Still, I would ask you to watch this film and decide yourself.

    August 05, 17
  • Lipstick under my burkha, a film by Alankrita Shrivastava, was in the headlines due to its release being banned in India. It is a film which focuses on women, their sexuality, their desires, their frustrations and their need to break the shackles of society in which they feel suffocated. Alankrita has made a very unapologetic film. And yes, as the media reports were there, the film is bold in terms of its theme, subject, screenplay as well as its treatment. If we compare it with the films of the west, certainly one could notice the scope of improvement. But if we take this as an Indian film, indeed, it is a first of its kind, where the film tries to depict the females and their vulnerabilities without actually defending the same. But what the film does not try to do is to show the change in any context or the situation for the female characters. The situation remains the same. As a result, the film appears neither taking any stand as such nor bringing any transformation to the characters. It just seems like the lady characters are fulfilling their desires or living in their dreams/fantasies. The end feels a little abrupt. But yes, the film is successful in making its point clear that hypocrisy exists in our society even in 21st Century, norms of our society being gender specific, and how every woman has the right to live her life and make her choices too, but she is deprived of her basic rights. The film is not taking any moral stance but taking us through the journey of women as they are. It just highlights what is prevalent in the society without trying to find any answers to many pertinent questions raised in the film. It also appears as one sided story from females’ perspectives.
    The backdrop is set in Bhopal and Alankrita chooses to have four female protagonists who all stay in the same mohalla nearby – Usha (Ratna Pathak Shah), Shirin (Konkana Sen Sharma), Leela (Ahana Kumra) and Rihana (Plabita Borthakur). Alankrita has also selected another character Rosy from a novel to share the expressions what is not shown on the screen but certainly important for the audience to understand these four characters and their feelings in a much better and explicit manner.
    Burkha is used here more as a metaphor since within this burkha, there is a woman who wants to just fly free, sing at the top of her voice, use make up, conscious of one’s looks, wants to look good, wants to enjoy sex, wants to talk sex over phone, wants to do everything which is taboo as per societal norms.
    Usha is 55-year-old widow who is known as Buaji. She even has forgotten her real identity of Usha, tells her name as Buaji when asked. She loves to read pulp novels and she meets her sexual urge through these characters’ portrayals. The interesting thing is that Usha hides these novels in between some other book and then reads. This is how she hides her own embarrassment of having the desire for sex and wanting to be sexually active. She herself feels that is it appropriate for her to think of sex or reading pulp novels.
    Another important character is that of Shirin portrayed by Konkana Sen Sharma. Shirin has 3 children. Her husband Aslam (Sushant) is now back to India, earlier he was working in Saudi. This is a typical case of marital rape. Sushant is hardly having any love for Shirin and children but every night he wants to have intercourse with Shirin. Shirin surrenders to Aslam in spite of not enjoying. Besides most of the times, she ends up reaching clinics to get abortions done. She is working as a Sales Executive but hides this from Aslam knowing that he would not allow her to work. Many females would be able to relate to Shirin’s marital rapes, sighs, tears, and longingness to have her man’s love instead of lust.
    Leela (Ahana) is a character who is gregarious, declares her love to her photographer boyfriend (Vikrant Massey), very expressive. She loves to click photos with him and even loves to record videos while Leela makes love with him. She runs her own beauty parlour. She wants to just move out of the colony where she stays and run away to Delhi with her boyfriend. She rebels against the proposal brought in by her mother.
    Rihana (Plabita Borthakur) is a college student, who belongs to a family which is into tailoring. She loves to sing and dance and just wants to get rid of the burkha. She is so submissive in front of her parents, obeys them apparently but the moment she steps out of her house, she removes the burkha and reaches college in modern outfits. She represents many girls of our society, who just want to break free of every restriction at home. And when they enter into an environment which they want, they fall into parties, boys, drugs, drinks etc. To project her lifestyle better, she even goes to the extent of stealing branded things from shops in malls.
    The story of all these four women clubbed with Rosy’s story from the novel moves in non-linear format. Ratna, Konkana, Ahana, Plabita are all good in the film. Their uninhibited ways have made the film not cross the line of vulgarity. Although this is a women-centric film, male characters support to take their stories ahead. Usha’s story moves ahead through Jagat Singh Solanki who portrays a Swimming Coach. Jagat has done many films in the past and he brings a lot of credibility to his characters. Here, in this film, he projects very well that how he gets attracted to a female and her phone talks. And as his role of swimming coach demands, he has maintained a very well-toned physique. Sushant as Aslam – Shirin’s husband is certainly wonderful. He maintains the expressions of an abusive husband. Vikrant Massey is another character who does comedy as well as serious roles quite effortlessly. And here in this film as well, Vikrant as a lover boy and boyfriend of Leela is very good. Vaibbhav Tatwawdi as Leela’s fiancée has also given a good performance. Shashank as a college mate of Rihana plays a typical boy who is an opportunist and does not shy away from breaking his commitment to a girl.
    There are many dialogues in the film which are very explicit.
    What happens to Usha, how she meets her sexual urge? How does she meet Jagat’s character? What happens to their relationship? Does Shirin ever oppose Aslam and confess that she is not in a mood to have sex without love in the relationship? What happens to Leela, she marries her fiancée or runs away with her boyfriend ? What happens to Rihana? How does she handle the peer pressure of ‘being cool’, going to parties etc. What happens to her relationship with Shashank’s character? How Rihana’s parents handle her truth?
    Being an adult film, this film can not be watched with kids. But I do suggest couples or singles to watch this film.
    Lipstick Under My Burkha without taking any moral stance is successful in making its point clear that hypocrisy exists in our society even in 21st Century, norms of our society being gender specific, and how every woman has the right to live her life and make her choices too, but she is deprived of her basic rights. It just highlights what is prevalent in the society without trying to find any answers to many pertinent questions raised in the film. The end could have certainly been better.

    July 22, 17
  • Raabta means ‘Connection’, but ironically the film fails to connect with the audience.

    Raabta, a film by producer turned director Dinesh Vijan, attempts the same old formulae of reincarnation. But films with reincarnation concept are very much made in the past as well viz. Mehbooba, Om Shanti Om, Karan Arjun, Karz, Ek Paheli Leela etc., a few of them being successful films and a few others did not do so well. According to Dr. Brian Weiss, a Past-Life Regression Therapist and author of many books, the souls move in families. Certain inputs from him convey that destiny will place us in a particular circumstance, which will encounter with a particular person at appointed time and place. This will happen with every person we have chosen to bring into this lifetime. The film Raabta has such protagonists, coincidences bring them together, but somehow the treatment given to the idea is not at all new and not different. The whole concept of reincarnation is dealt in a very lousy manner. The very meaning of Raabta is ‘Connection’ and unfortunately audience may hardly be able to connect with the film.

    Shiv (Sushant Singh Rajput) travels (or moves) to Budapest along with his best friend Varun. Shiv is supposed to be a banker, but one hardly sees him beyond chasing / flirting with girls, partying etc. He meets Saira (Kriti Sanon) who runs a Chocolate store. Both of them feel instant connect with one another. Saira does get nightmare of getting drowned. She often wonders why she gets these dreams. Saira’s character is developed as the one who is confused, although apparently cool. Zakir (Jim Sarbh) , a liquor baron, enters into the scene and events take a different turn altogether. And as it is predictable, the lives of Shiv, Saira and Zakir are intertwined from the past life itself. A love comet is also scheduled to fly across the skies for the first time in 800 years. The film takes us to their past lives. And there we get to see Rajkummar Rao in a very much unrecognizable get up. In fact, certain elements in the past life story is not very well developed. The story weaving is very poor.

    How Shiv, Saira and Zakir were connected in the past life? What purpose was left behind that the paths of three of them cross ?

    Sushant has certainly evolved a great actor but in Raabta he goes overboard at times, his acting looks a bit superficial. Kriti Sanon is beautiful and her character is almost consistent in her nature, be it in past life or present life. But could not find her character getting developed. The on-screen chemistry between Sushant and Kriti might have looked great, but this is not explored appropriately. Jim Sarbh (Neerja fame) is ok. Overall the actors are trapped in a confused plot.

    The cameo by Deepika Padukone shaking her legs on the title song Raabta does not do any good to the film.

    Raabta means ‘Connection’, but ironically the film fails to connect with the audience. The same old concept of reincarnation is dealt in a very lousy manner. The actors are trapped in a confused lot.

    June 12, 17
  • Sachin: A Billion Dreams celebrates the life of master blaster Sachin Tendulkar

    Sachin: A Billion Dreams, a biographical documentary film by James Erskine, celebrates the life of master blaster Sachin Tendulkar, his highs as well as lows, philosophy of life, value system, humility, assertiveness etc. mostly narrated in his own words. His very presence in the film makes it very special and real. It was like reliving those moments, which we have watched on television, along with the legend himself. This film shall not be reviewed keeping the box office numbers or commercial value attached to it, since the film is all about the number of centuries earned by Sachin on field, number of records created by him during his 24 years of professional cricketing career and how he and cricket became synonyms. This film certainly can’t be compared to MS Dhoni or even Azhar since the format of this film is entirely different. Audience was not happy with the superficial touch given to Azhar whereas MS Dhoni became a huge hit commercially, people loved this film. Both the real and reel Dhoni were appreciated for an honest and entertaining treatment given to the film. And here is a documentary film on one of the greatest cricket player which our country and the world has seen- Sachin Tendulkar. It is about Sachin’s life in his own words and also in words of people associated with him during his journey. The narratives by him and others add a lot of credibility to the whole film. Indeed his insurmountable achievements are very well documented, and it may appear as a replay on screen, but Sachin’s narratives do let us know what was actually going on in his mind during every victory or loss. Another unique phenomenon which is used in the film is linking the journey of Sachin with India’s positioning in the global map. Glimpses from India’s partition days to India of today’s date are shown interspersed with the film which talked about the transformation of India in parallel to Sachin’s incredible journey. The title of the film is absolutely justified, since it is not only about Sachin but about India, all those billion dreams and expectations when Sachin stepped on to the field and how Sachin aligned his dreams with the Nation’s dreams. So, for me, this is not a film, rather beyond that, depicting the very life of a living legend, a genius, who will always remain the pride of our country. If you are a cricket fan, you would certainly not like to miss this one.

    It is adorable to watch the little Sachin as a very naughty child. One can hardly believe that there was this naughty side as well to Sachin. He had tremendous energy as a child, and his brother Ajit Tendulkar introduced him to the game of cricket when he got a cricket bat as gift from his sister. Ajit, who could see a spark in his brother, took Sachin to Ramakant Vithal Achrekar so as to get coaching from him. And Sachin’s journey began at Shivaji Park. The film does talk of his strong bond with family members and friends. His father instilled a great value system in him to be a great human being first.

    Family videos shown in the film did show lovely moments of his life with Anjali and kids Sara and Arjun. His wedding video, moments of Sara and Arjun’s birth, he playing with kids, his time with friends etc. brings forth his personal side as well. Sacrifice by his family members, his wife all are also shown in the

    While watching the film, I did experience his highs, lows, his pain of losing a match, his excitement after winning a match etc. It is also great to see certain aspects of his playing various roles in life other than a cricketer viz. that of a son, brother, father, husband and friend. I did get goosebumps with the thundering applause Sachin received everytime he entered the ground to play, the kind of euphoria the very name Sachin created. His farewell speech of 2013 did move me.

    It could be possible that people who are not cricket lovers might find the tone of the film to be very plain and not very entertaining.

    Sachin’s journey does reiterate the fact that one has to be committed, honest, consistent, persistent and hard working in life. Complacency is the enemy of excellence. Especially when one plays for the country, when huge expectations are there from the player, one certainly feels tremendous pressure to perform, at the same time, it is a great responsibility. Mistakes can’t be afforded. And Sachin’s life does go through lows, be it his non-performance during captaincy, his getting removed as Indian Cricket Team’s captain overnight, match-fixing controversies of team members, people getting wild with the failures etc. Sachin believed in the value system instilled by his father that a player can’t be bigger than the team, got back in form with much harder practice. Injuries and failures used to hurt him, but then he focused on his dream of holding the world cup in his hand. What an incredible 24 years of journey from 1989 to 2013.

    Sachin: A Billion Dreams celebrates the life of master blaster Sachin Tendulkar, his highs as well as lows, philosophy of life, value system, humility, assertiveness etc. Indeed his insurmountable achievements are very well documented, and it may appear as a replay on screen, but Sachin’s narratives do let us know what was actually going on in his mind during every victory or loss. If you are a cricket fan, you would certainly not like to miss this one. Sachin is indeed not a name, it is an emotion. A tribute to the living legend.

    May 27, 17
  • Half Girlfriend is actually half-cooked, be it its romance, passion, friendship, acting, dialogues, screenplay.

    Half Girlfriend, a film by Mohit Suri, is based on the novel by the same name written by Chetan Bhagat. Chetan had not received great reviews for his novel, he was criticized for bringing forced twists and turns. This review of the film is not done on the basis of Chetan’s book versus its adaptation by Mohit into the film. The review is done purely on the basis of what is shown on screen. Certainly, some minor changes have been done in the screenplay but overall it remains the same. The concept of half girlfriend was to focus on non-committal relationships, where the boy and the girl have the chemistry of being in a relationship but not clear about the same. They might love to hang-out even during odd hours, they need one another in their lives, but not ready to accept that they have a boyfriend-girlfriend relationship. They are not ready to take their relationship to the next level. This film also showcases the story of a boy who is in love with a girl and wants to move ahead with her in life, but the girl feels that she could be more than a friend to him, but less than a girlfriend. So, the terminology used by her to define such a relationship is that of Half Girlfriend. They are not clear about their relationship status with each other. It is true that such relationships do exist, but somehow, the treatment of the subject is done in a very average manner. The film also deals with the linguistic challenges faced by Bhojpuri-laced Hindi speaking boy from Bihar who finds himself misfit amongst people speaking fluent English. Many would be able to relate with it, but somehow, it is not very convincing. It is true that our pronunciation does have regional influences. People from eastern, western, southern and northern parts of our country might pronounce the same word differently. Similarly Bihar is no exception, but what is so big deal about it. It is natural, we all have our own pronunciation, enunciation and diction. But what has been observed is that students from Bihar are the most hardworking lot in campus, be it their focus towards establishing their identity, be it their focus in civil services or be it their focus in creative areas. They are quick learners too, could be due to their persistence towards achieving excellence and prove to themselves that they are not lesser beings in comparison to anyone in this world. So, here is a film, where the lead protagonist is from Bihar, gets into one of the most prestigious college of Delhi University, still unable to get over his challenges of speaking English even after spending three years in the campus is beyond comprehension. He does not find it difficult to adjust to the cosmopolitan culture of the campus, but finds it difficult to pick up English. It is also not understandable that why the names of the place Dumrao and the college St. Stephen’s college were changed to Simrao and St. Steven’s College respectively. The very plot has loopholes, and so is the film.

    The film begins with Madhav Jha (Arjun Kapoor) rushing to a house to find that Riya Somani (Shraddha Kapoor) has left the house writing a letter to him. He travels to Delhi to hand over the letter to her mom and the story unveils as flashback during this train journey of Madhav. He is the prince of Simrao, whose mother Seema Biswas runs a school there for the underprivileged boys. He comes to Delhi to take admission in St. Steven’s College in Delhi University under sports quota (a basketball player) for BA Sociology. Riya also gets admission in sports quota. It is love at first sight for Madhav. He starts becoming friendly with Riya. Riya does take tips from Madhav in regard to the game, and also practices with him. They started hanging out together apart from game too. Madhav’s bunch of friends, especially Shailesh (Vikrant Massey) warns Madhav that he may not be a proper match to Riya who is from an affluent business family. Madhav does try to know Riya’s mind, for which her response was that she is his half girlfriend, more than a friend but less than a girlfriend. Madhav gets confused with her response. On his friends’ insisting, he does try to test her love which results in the fall out. Later the situations happen so that she chooses a different path in her life and moves away geographically. Madhav, unable to get over Riya, comes back to village after completing graduation. As it is quite predictable, Madhav and Riya’s paths cross once again. What happens to their relationship? How the story moves further? Does she become more than a half girlfriend to him ? Does their relationship status evolve? If yes, how?

    The film does try to connect with the social mission of sanitation facilities and also ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’ etc. This is a good effort, but does not blend naturally with the screenplay.

    One of the most unconvincing scenes is when Riya chooses to unwind at the top of India Gate. It is simply impossible to get away from the eyes of the security guards and climb to the top of this monument.

    Arjun and Shraddha are both mediocre in the film. In his previous films viz. Ishaqzaade, Gunday, 2 States, Finding Fanny, Tevar, Ki and Ka etc. he could bring many elements into his characters which made his screen presence very much noticeable and he did gather many positive feedbacks. But in this film, Arjun has not come out completely. It appeared as if he was not excited for this role. Shraddha looked pretty in some outfits and that is all about her. She needs to evolve a lot as far as acting is concerned. Vikrant Massey as Shailesh is good. He did deliver dialogues well. His expressions are also very good. Seema Biswas has very less of screen time and so does not have much to do. Rhea Chakraborty as Anshika (Shailesh’ wife) has a small role, but good.

    Half Girlfriend is actually half-cooked, be it its romance, passion, friendship, acting, dialogues, screenplay. The very plot has loopholes, and so is the film. The songs ‘Baarish’, ‘Thodi Der’, ‘Phir bhi Tumko Chaahunga’ are certainly a great relief in the film.

    May 21, 17
  • Hindi Medium, a satire on our education system by Saket Chaudhary, is a very relevant film. This is his third film after Pyaar ke Side Effects and Shaadi ke Side Effect. It seems that humour is his forte. In Hindi Medium, he takes a dig at our current Education System. These days education has become a business. Children’s education has become costlier than many of the professional or vocational courses in our country. Schools have the trend of charging exorbitant fees in lieu of tuition fee, capitation fee, donation, extra-curricular activities’ fund etc. ‘The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act’ or ‘Right to Education Act (RTE)’ was enforced on 1st April, 2010. When this act came into force, India became one of 135 countries to make education a fundamental right to every child between the ages of 6 and 14. This act does require all private schools to reserve 25% of seats for the children from families of low economical status. But what actually happens with this quota is still under question. This act has many other relevant clauses too in favour of students. It also makes provisions for no donation or capitation fees and no interview of the child or parent for admission. Saket has come up with a brilliant film on this. The film showcases the stress of parents in getting their children admitted into elite schools, and their efforts to manipulate things to get the admission, school management falling prey to bribe, the admission scam, the conditions of the government schools etc. This fact can not be ignored that many of the government schools in our country are underperforming due to lack of facilities, infrastructure support and resources. There is a clear cut demarcation between the English Medium Schools and Hindi Medium Schools. And also, there is a special affinity for English Language in our country i.e. whoever speaks English are supposed to have a ‘class’. A person might be very good in his / her mother tongue or Hindi, but being affluent in English only makes that person sophisticated. There is Social Divide between English speaking and Hindi speaking people. This is a mindset, which one needs to ponder upon. Saket certainly is successful in throwing light upon all these issues in a very light-hearted manner.

    The film begins with a girl – young Mita – coming to a tailor’s shop to get a designer dress stitched and young Raj (Delzad Hiwale, Chittagong & Chauranga fame) assures the girl that her dress will be stitched exactly similar to the design she wanted. There starts the love story of Raj and Mita in the backdrop of a beautiful song ‘Lafzon ke haseen dhagoon me kahin piro raha hum main huzur…’ After a period of fifteen years, we get to see that Raj Batra (Irrfan Khan) has grown into ‘the Business Tycoon’ of Chandani Chowk (Delhi) with a fashion studio. He understands the pulse of the customers. His wife Mita (Saba Qamar) does speak English well whereas Raj doesn’t. Raj calls her Mitthu fondly. She is very particular that their daughter Piya (Dishita Sehgal) studies in any one of the top five English Medium Schools of Delhi. They do apply in top five schools. And for this they do shift their base from Chandni Chowk to the posh colony of Vasant Vihar, undergo specialized training for attending interviews, handling questions and speaking English. But unable to find admission through General Quota, when Raj comes to know regarding 25% quota for the students from poor families, he decides to go to slum area along with Mita and Piya so as to clear the inspection. That is where they get good Samaritan neighbours Shyam Prakash (Deepak Dobriyal) and wife Tulsi (Swati Das). What happens thereafter is to be seen. Although there is a drag in certain areas in the second half with certain scenes of the slum, but consistent humour in the screenplay keeps the mood of the film very bright. Also, certain issues raised in the film do not see a closure.

    The highlight of the film is effortless acting by Irrfan Khan. He is an actor to reckon with. He blends with every character he plays on screen and he adds lot of value to the same. Even after one leaves the theater, his acting remains in heart and mind. Saba Qamar, originally a Pakistani Actress, is also very good, natural and convincing as Mita. Deepak Dobriyal as Shyam Prakash gives a wonderful performance. His expressions are very impressive. Tillotama Shome as career counsellor is very good. Swati Das as Tulsi is also very much noticeable. Rest of the characters Dishita Sehgal, Amrita Singh (as Head Mistress of a School), Sanjay Suri and Neha Dhupia are all good.

    There are lot of scenes with which one could relate to – be it the parental pressure of getting their children’s admissions in good schools, the struggle of the middle class or lower class to be able to provide good education to their children, the social divide etc. There is a scene where Tillotama conveys a dialogue – “People book me when they are in their first trimester.” Unfortunately, this is a Reality too.

    Hindi Medium, a satire on our education system, is a very relevant film. It showcases various issues viz. Social Divide between English and Hindi speaking people, the demarcation between government schools and private schools facilities, the school admission scams etc. in a very light-hearted manner. Irrfan Khan, Saba Qaram and Deepak Dobriyal shine in the film through their effortless acting.

    May 19, 17
  • Sarkar 3 has nothing new to offer, rather none of the scenes are exciting enough to make one watch the film.

    Sarkar 3, a political crime thriller film directed by Ram Gopal Varma, the latest one in the Sarkar series absolutely falls flat. Sarkar 3 has nothing new to offer, rather none of the scenes are exciting enough to make one watch the film. The palace politics, as it is defined and shown in the film, is inexplicable. Ram Gopal Varma does not showcase any new perspective or any new aspect through Sarkar 3. The screenplay and editing are not at all deft. As a viewer, I kept wondering what is the overall idea behind making this film. The film has the same old story of a leader who with his power of influence has earned many enemies as well as supporters. It also has the story of deceit, manipulations, betrayal, playing double games etc. The mood in every frame of the film is grim. There is not a single moment in the film which is light. As far as the character sketching is concerned, even the most powerful character has been portrayed in a very weak manner.

    Sarkar 3 is the third in the series. Sarkar aka Subash Nagre (Amitabh Bachchan) is still powerful. He is a loner. His trademark hand-wave can still mesmerize thousands of people.

    The first half of the film sees Amit Sadh’s entry as Shivaji, the grandson of Sarkar. Shivaji chooses to address his grandfather as Sarkar only. Ronit Roy as Gokul and Parag Tyagi as Raman are Sarkar’s credible aids. But once Shivaji comes, troubles begin in this camp. Shivaji is in love with Anu (Yami Gautam) who is the daughter of Sreeram who was killed by Sarkar. The film moves further without any twists and turns, any major conflicts, without any unpredictability of the plot. The tempo of the film is very slow.

    We have seen Amitabh Bachchan in Sarkar and Sarkar Raj earlier. Nothing new is added, no new dimension is added to his role. He slurps tea, offers tea to his friends as well as foes when they visit him. Abhishek Bachchan’s photograph with garland is almost there in every frame.

    Amit Sadh is a wonderful actor. We have seen him creating magic in Kai Po Che, Sultan etc. but here his role is sketched out very poorly. Whereas, his role was supposed to be at par with Sarkar, but it does not happen so.

    Manoj Bajpayee has the knack of getting into any character he plays, but he did not have much to do as Govind Deshpande in the film. His character had very less of screen space. A very talented actress Rohini Hattangadi as Govind’s mother also has a very small role.

    Jackie Shroff’s role as businessman Michael Vallya is perhaps the most unexplained character in the film, though he plays the mastermind behind many conflicts but the scenes given to him are absolutely absurd.

    Rest of the actors Supriya Pathak, Ronit Roy, Parag Tyagi, Yami Gautam and others are wasted in this pointless dark film.

    Sarkar 3 has nothing new to offer, rather none of the scenes are exciting enough to make one watch the film. The palace politics, as it is defined and shown in the film, is inexplicable. Ram Gopal Varma does not showcase any new perspective or any new aspect through Sarkar 3.

    May 15, 17
  • A must-watch, a sure shot blockbuster, etched in Indian Cinema’s history forever.

    Baahubali 2– The Conclusion: The much-awaited sequel to Bahubali – The beginning is finally released and it indeed deserved all the attention it gathered prior to its release itself. Part 1 was certainly grand and spectacular, and Part 2 is even grander and visually spectacular. Since Baahubali – The beginning was immensely successful, it was very natural for the audience to have huge expectations from its sequel. Generally, when the prequel is very successful, it becomes very difficult for the sequel to set new benchmarking standards, but with Baahubali-2, it is entirely different, it has enhanced its own standard, creating new records as far as the box office success is concerned, and also superior in the craft. Filmmaker SS Rajamouli might have definitely experienced the stress to make the sequel much better than the prequel and now he can relax after making this magnificent film. This epic is certainly going to be registered in the Indian Cinema’s history for the kind of huge canvas it has used to share the story, the efforts were taken by the cast and crew to make it a visual extravaganza. A must-watch, a sure shot blockbuster, etched in Indian Cinema’s history forever. This is originally filmed in Telugu and Tamil and also dubbed in Hindi and Malayalam.
    In Baahubali : The beginning, the story was of Shiva Alias Mahendra Baahubali (Prabhas) falling in love with Avantika (Tamannaah). Shiva takes up the responsibility to fulfill Avantika’s mission of rescuing Devasena (Anushka Shetty) from the imprisonment of Bhallala Deva (Rana Daggubati), King of Mahishmathi kingdom without knowing how he is related to Devasena as well as this kingdom. While rescuing Devasena, he gets surprised when he is being identified as Baahubali. Later on, when he comes face to face with Kattappa (Sathyaraj), the truth unfolds before him in regard to his identity of being the son of Amarendra Baahubali (Prabhas in a double role) and Devasena. The first part ends up with the confession of Kattappa that it was he who killed Amarendra Baahubali. Kattappa’s confession raised a very pertinent question and the whole set of the audience kept wondering why a loyal person like Kattappa killed Amarendra Baahubali. (Invite you to read my review of Bahubali – The beginning here: lenzscope.com/review-of-baahubali-beginning)
    Now about Baahubali 2 : The Conclusion, without trying to review this epic film, let me just express that this film takes us through the answers to all those questions which we had after watching the first part: What sort of power play happens in the kingdom which resulted in the initial scene of injured Sivagami (Ramya Krishnan) trying to save the child. Who was Sivagami ? What is the story of two brothers Amarendra Baahubali and Bhallala Deva (Rana Daggubati)? How does the character of Kattappa (warrior slave of the kingdom) shape up in the film? What made Kattappa kill Amarendra Baahubali ? How did Amarendra and Devasena meet ? Was power the only reason for the rivalry between Amarendra Baahubali and Bhallala Deva ? What happens when the characters suffer from the inner conflict of making a choice between Dharma and Karma, what do they choose?
    It is not that the plot is unpredictable, we can assume many happenings of the sequel, but what makes this sequel so special is that how Rajamouli has done the storytelling, making even the most obvious so intriguing in the film. This is one of the best aspects of the film which needs to be highlighted.
    The film begins on a very lighter note with Amarendra Baahubali and Kattappa’s friendly banters, Amarendra’s falling in love with Devasena. As the film progresses, the plot gets into the rivalry of Bhallala with Amarendra, Bhallala and Bijjala Deva’s crooked ways, conspiracies, power snatching, Amarendra’s righteousness, Mahendra fighting back etc.
    Some breathtaking visuals are: Amarendra leaping into the air and shooting off three arrows in one go, the battlefield’s projection, the Mahishmathi Kingdom itself, the climax etc.
    The musical scores are integrated and in sync with the screenplay.
    If the first part saw some great performances of Prabhas, Rana and Tamannah, the second part showcased even better performances from Prabhas, Rana, Ramya Krishnan and Anushka Shetty. Prabhas has great screen presence. He is good as both Amarendra Baahubali and Mahendra Baahubali, plays both the characters effortlessly and with much ease. He is indeed a superstar to look out for in the coming days. Rana Daggubati looks huge on screen and his physical transformation to adapt to Bhallala Deva’s role is absolutely commendable. Even his body language expressed his character so well. Both Prabhas and Rana have made their on-screen rivalry look very much credible through their performances. Anushka Shetty as Devasena and Ramya Krishnan as Sivagami have given stupendous performances. Both of them are very good as headstrong, feisty and powerful women. Sathyaraj as Kattappa has done so much justice to his role, he is there in almost all the frames in the film. Nassar as Bijjala Deva does generate disliking for his character through his wonderful acting. Subbaraju as Kumara Varma is also very good. What was missing in part 2 was that of Tamannah’s character Avantika. She played a very strong and a prominent character in the first part which was not further developed in Baahubali 2 : The Conclusion. One could get to see her glimpses only in 2 hours 47 minutes of the film. This was really sad. Another character which was not given importance in the sequel is that of Sanga (Rohini).
    Rajamouli’s magnum opus Baahubali 2: The Conclusion has been designed on a huge canvas, be it its production design, visual appeal, awesome performances, background score or narration. It is indeed a visual extravaganza and a treat to watch the film on big screen. A must-watch, a sure shot blockbuster, etched in Indian Cinema’s history forever.

    April 30, 17
  • The Zookeeper’s Wife is a film with soul.

    The Zookeeper’s Wife, a film by Niki Caro, is the visual adaptation of non-fiction book of the same name by Diane Ackerman. This film depicts the plight of Jews in Poland in 1939 during Nazi invasion (World War II). But the film is not about the war crisis, but it is more about how good elements of the society choose to give hope, share love and compassion with the victims. It is about how a few people grew beyond their self-interest to help the needy. The film does make one believe in the humanity and reinstate one’s faith in the goodness. War is just the backdrop, not the main focus. The film focuses on the aftermath of the violence, and how the protagonists risk their own lives to help the people who are suffering. This is the real-life story of Antonina Zabinska and her husband Dr. Jan Zabinski, who are the keepers of Warsaw Zoo. Their lives are thrown into turmoil when Germany invades and occupies Poland. The film is about how the couple decided not to succumb to the odds and do their best possible so as to save Jews from being killed by Germans. A film with soul.

    The film begins in Warsaw in 1939. Antonina Zabinski (Jessica Chastain) and her husband Dr. Jan Zabinski (Johan Heldnberg) run Warsaw Zoo. The initial frames itself are very compassionate ones, where Antonina rides her bicycle through the main paths of the zoo.

    Antonina and Dr. Jan’s lives turn upside down when Germans invade and occupy Poland. They felt so helpless to see their animals being slaughtered or moved to Berlin Zoo by Dr. Heck (Daniel Bruhl), a zoologist and head of Berlin Zoo. Antonina and Jan were not ready to be mere spectators of the ordeal their people and country were facing. They gathered themselves and started working in a covert manner to save as many people as possible. The Zoo which was home to many animals now becomes the shelter for many Jews. Dr. Heck keeps a sharp vigil over them. How the couple extends help towards the needy and fights the danger of hiding over 300 Jewish people over the course of the entire war, keeping it a secret etc. form rest of the film.

    Actors are terrific, be it Jessica Chastian, Johan Heldenbergh, Daniel Bruhl.

    The Zookeeper’s Wife is a film depicting real-life story, where war is just the backdrop, not the main focus. The film focuses on the aftermath of the violence, and how the protagonists risk their own lives to help the people who are suffering. A film with soul.

    April 26, 17
  • PredictaMaatre is predictable and clichéd. The whole revenge saga looks very superficial.

    Maatr, a film by Ashtar Sayed, focuses on one of the most sensitive topic i.e. rape and revenge. This is also Raveena Tandon’s comeback film. Certainly Maatr as a women-centric film had tremendous potential but the whole effort falters. A lot of films in the past have handled this subject and that is why it becomes all the more important that how the subject is being differently handled in Maatr. The film certainly begins on a high note but 15 minutes into the film, the whole screenplay goes for a toss. It becomes very much predictable, clichéd. The whole revenge saga looks very superficial. It is appreciable that the intention of the film is to highlight and raise voice against the heinous crimes prevalent in our society, atrocities against women, but execution falters badly. The film has nothing new to offer.

    Vidya Chauhan (Raveena Tandon) is a school teacher. It is a function in the school where her daughter Tia (Alisha Khan) is performing. After the programme, on their way back home, they get trapped in traffic and take different route to get rid of traffic. But a wrong turn brings their lives up and down. Apurva Malik (Madhur Mittal, Slumdog Millionaire fame) and his group of boys gang-rape Vidya and Ritu. Both of them are dumped on the road. Vidya survives but Tia gives up. Vidya’s friend Ritu (Divya Jagdale) stand with Vidya during this crisis. Ravi, Vidya’s husband (Rushad Rana), is unable to deal with Ritu’s death.

    The story proceeds further to show the revenge saga, the fights against the powerful and evil elements of the society, but things are handled very superficially. Everything turns out to be in favour of Vidya when she single handedly puts up her fight against the powerful. She seems to be at the right place at right time, which is so unreal. Besides, Vidya is shown to effortlessly use revolver overnight.

    As far as the cast is concerned, we have seen much better performance from Raveena Tandon. Anurag Arora as Inspector Jayant Shroff is good. Rest of the actors Rishad Rana and Divya Jagdale have given average performances. Probably the screenplay needs to be blamed.

    Maatr is a film with the right intention to highlight and raise voice against the heinous crimes prevalent in our society, atrocities against women; but the execution falters badly. The film has nothing new to offer. It becomes very much predictable, clichéd. The whole revenge saga looks very superficial.

    April 24, 17
  • Rajkahini, the original version, is certainly more intense in comparison to Begum Jaan, but this film can’t be just ignored or written off.

    Begum Jaan is a film by Srijit Mukherji, which is a remake of his own Bengali film Rajkahini (2015). The film delves into one of the darkest phase of partition of our country. The film does mention the tragedies which happened on either sides of the border. Radcliffe Line is to be erected as the boundary between the newly formed nations of India and Pakistan. The officials face a challenge when they find a brothel which needs to be demolished to draw this boundary. Begum Jaan takes us through the journey of those 11 women and 2 men, the inhabitants of the brothel and the fights they put up for their rights to live in their house. Rajkahini is certainly more intense in comparison to Begum Jaan, but this film can’t be just ignored or written off.

    The film begins with the narrative of Amitabh Bachchan. The opening scene in this Hindi version is different in comparison to that of Bengali version. When a scene from Manto’s book of gang rape of a girl during partition times form the opening scene of Rajkahini, eve teasing and efforts to molest a girl in a bus in the year 2016, decades after independence, becomes the opening scene of Begum Jaan. Is this to tell the audience that years have gone by, certain things still remain the same – women becoming the victim of men’s lust. Begum Jaan does focus on women’s fight against many elements of our society: patriarchal system, the social stigma attached with sex workers, the hypocritical men and their double standards, the right to live, concepts of secularism etc. With the opening and closing scene of Begum Jaan, Srijit does talk about hard-hitting reality that even after decades of partition and independence, the fight against social injustice is not over. Begum Jaan does force us to question and rethink about our past as well as present.

    Begum Jaan (Vidya Balan) is the owner of brothel, which has 13 inhabitants – 11 women and 2 men. Salim (Sumit Nijhawan) and Sujit (Pitobash Tripathy) are the two men in the brothel, Begum’s bodyguard and caretaker respectively. Amma (Ila Arun) is the senior most person in the brothel, who keeps sharing stories of empowered females to Laadli (Gracy Goswai) who created history and left their mark in the world viz. Rani Lakhsmibai, Meera, Raziya Sultan, Rani Padmavati etc. It does become part of plot development. Rest of the inhabitants are Rubina (Gauhar Khan), Gulabo (Pallavi Sharda), Jameela (Priyanka Setia), Amba (Ridheema Tiwary), Maina (Flora Saini), Lata (Raviza Chauahan), Rani (Poonam Rajput), Mishti aka Indrani Chakraborty (Shabnam). Master and Party worker (Vivek Mushran) is a regular visitor to brothel and keeps showering them with gifts. These women are all victims of abuse, violence, rape and these trauma become the connecting thread amongst them. All they have is their togetherness. Freedom means nothing for Begum Jaan.

    The officials chosen for execution of border construction from either sides are Iliyas (Rajit Kapoor) and Harshvardhan (Ashish Vidyarthy). Through their characters, many intricate facts are conveyed, be it the relationship getting sour between childhood friends, plight / ordeal of people on either sides of the border etc. There are shots where only half of their faces are shown on screen – a metaphor of aftermath of partition, how incomplete people might have felt losing their possessions, family in spite of freedom being restored.

    Other characters Raja Ji (Naseerudin Shah), Inspector Shyam (Rajesh Sharma) and Kabir (Chunky Pandey) become important part of the film.

    Feisty Begum Jaan and other inhabitants of the brothel are not ready to pay heed to notices issued to her to vacate ‘Kotha’. They are very loud and clear that it is their house. How they all put up brave fight forms the rest of the story.

    There are many dialogues in the film which hits one hard.

    Srijit through his film Begum Jaan does talk about hard-hitting reality that even after decades of partition and independence, the fight against social injustice is not over. Rajkahini, the original version, is certainly more intense in comparison to Begum Jaan, but this film can’t be just ignored or written off.

    April 24, 17
  • Noor is a one-time watch, Sonakshi shines but the film falters

    Noor is a film by Sunhil Sippy. This film is based on the book “Karachi – You are Killing Me” by Saba Imtiaz. The film’s plot had tremendous potential but the movie does get lost in the midway. It starts as if it is focused on Noor’s journey, but later, it shifts to focus on many issues viz. the shallowness attached with today’ journalism, organ trafficking, how ethics and humanity are dying in the world, environmental issues, how unsafe the cities have become etc. This is where the film also becomes shallow, lacks depth. In spite of Sonakshi portraying the titular character very well, the film is unable to adopt a focused approach to storytelling. But certainly, it is a feel-good film.

    The eponymous character Noor is played by Sonakshi. As her name implies (Noor means ‘Light’) she is seeking light/brightness in her professional as well as personal life. She starts her day with the statement ‘I hate my Life’. She keeps whining about everything in her life: a faulty geyser, her domestic help Malti’s (Smita Tambe) frequent leave, priority given to her cat Dimpy by her father, her weight gain, her twitter followers less in number than her weight, not excited in doing regular stuff, irritation on being asked to interview celebrities like Sunny Leone etc. She is a topper in Journalism and interested in doing issue-based Journalism, but her boss Shekhar (Manish Chaudhary) keeps drifting her attention to the topics which attract TRPs. Noor is not too happy with her personal life too. She does miss love in her life. Her friends Zaara (Shibani Dandekar) and Saad (Kanan Gill) do pep up her life. She has support system at home in her father (played my MK Raina) and her housemaid Malti. Noor meets Ayan Banerjee (Purab Kohli), a journalist cum photographer and falls in love with him.

    Situations so happen that Noor gets ‘the story’ which she was looking for. She does cover the story, but that changes her life forever. It becomes a learning point for her that as a journalist, she just can’t get carried away but she needs to be responsible too.

    What happens thereafter? What story does Noor get to handle? What events transpire after that? How does Malti become an important thread of the story? What shape does Noor’s relationship with Ayan take? How Zaara, Saad and Noor’s father support her during a crisis? Does Shekhar ever agree with Noor’s desire of doing issue-based journalism and what support he extends?

    Sonakshi enacts Noor very well and she is very much likeable in the film. Her style statement is also appropriate as per the character. Kanan Gill who makes his film debut with Noor is natural and spontaneous. MK Raina does play his role of an empathetic, supportive father very well. Shibani Dandekar as Zaara has small role, but she is also good. Smita Tambe is very much noticeable and good as Malti.

    The film Noor begins as her transformational journey of how she changes her statement from ‘I hate my life’ to ‘I love my life’. But the screenplay which later gets deviated by focusing on multiple issues, lacks the initial quirkiness, becomes shallow, lacks depth. A one-time watch.

    April 24, 17