• Thugs of Hindostan review: "Bugs audience into shouting azaadi from the theatre!!!"

    It was a rather sedate Saturday with hardly much to do & I couldn’t have chosen a better day to watch “Thugs of Hindostan” which I was eagerly looking forward to. Though I never read reviews prior to watching any movie, a couple of my friends did mention that they werent impressed with TOH. I have to admit that it did dampen my spirits, but I was still optimistic after all Aamir rarely falters in choosing a worthy script. Withe the Super Sunday matches just a couple of hours away, will TOH prove to be a sumptous appetizer for it or will I have the same experience as my buddies???

    The story unfolds in the late 18th century when the East India Company were slowly & steadily establishing themselves as rulers of India. Led by the ruthless British officer Clive (Lloyd Owen), their latest target was Raunakpur which was ruled by Mirza Sikander Baig (Ronit Roy). As the brave & proud king refused to bow before the company, his whole family was brutally murdered by Clive’s men. However, Princess Safira (Fatima Sana Shaikh) was rescued by their General, Khudabaksh (Big B). As time passed by, Khudabaksh, Safira & his band of soldiers proved to be a constant headache for the British. With all their efforts to imprison Khudabaksh proving to be futile, they hatch a plot to infiltrate the former’s group. They entrust the task upon the cunning Firangi Mallah (Aamir Khan) in exchange for wealth. So will Firangi nail Khudabaksh or will the latter succeed in making Firangi into a worth human being???

    The last time that Vijay Krishna Acharya had called the shots was for “Dhoom 3” which was close to half a decade back. Though it set the box office on fire, it didnt quite match upto the usual standards of an Aamir movie. So I was really surprised when Aamir decided to join hands with Vijay yet again, but when Big B was also roped in; it proved to be a casting coup that had everyone excited. Unfortunately that was the only thing that Vijay managed to do enthrall the audience with as his script & screenplay was mediocre. Apart from the fact that the characters & template of the movie looked heavily inspired from the “Pirates of the Caribbean” series such as Firangi/Jack Sparrow, Khudabaksh/Barbossa etc, the story just didnt have anything worthwhile that would have made it unique. On the technical side, the film definitely looked grand & kudos to Manush Nandan for the stunning visuals. Even the action sequences were pretty impressive while John Stewart did a praise worthy job with the BGM especially the one used for Firangi while there was another score which seemed like inspired from “Avengers: Infinity War”. The same cant be said for Ritesh Soni whose editing was far from ideal while Ajay-Atul’s music was average.

    Despite the pedestrian script, I felt Aamir did a fine job as the duplicitous Firangi who goes all out with his whacky mannerisms which is endearing for most parts. Big B had a rather stiff character to portray but he did utmost justice to it though it wasnt a challenging role for a person of his caliber. As for the rest, Lloyd Owen was ok, Fatima Sheikh wasnt quite upto the mark, Katrina didnt have much to do apart from groove while Mohammed Ayyub was wasted.

    Verdict: After a record breaking initial of more than 50 C, it has since then been on a steady slide which was understandable after all the movie was well short of expectations. This was one of those rare movies where Aamir’s judgement of the script had faltered & a classic movie from two of the finest actors in Bollywood was denied to the audience. Hopefully we will get to see them paired up again in a much better movie. But until then, it’s better not to be bothered by this mundane flick!!!

    Rating: 1.75/5

    Regards…Ben

    November 11, 18
  • Badhaai Ho review: "Badhaai to the makers for striking gold!!!"

    It’s been an eventful week with the Sabarimala issue & MeToo campaign creating waves across the nation. Bollywood has been at the centre of the MeToo campaign with Nana Patekar, Alok Nath, Vikas Bahl etc. being accused of having made sexual advancements towards their colleagues. But even as this issue is burning on, we had a couple of movies that had hit the screens this weekend. One of them happened to be Amit Ravindernath’s “Badhaai Ho” which had quite an interesting trailer due to which I decided to check it out. Hope it wont be as mediocre as “Helicopter Eela”.

    Nakul (Ayushmann Khurrana) works in a MNC & dates his colleague, Renee (Saniya Malhotra). He hailed from a middle class Delhi family where his father, Jeetender Kaushik (Gajraj Rao) worked in the Railways while his mother, Priyamvada (Neena Gupta) was a typical housewife who took care of her rather irritating mother in law (Surekha Sikri). Things moved along uneventfully in the household until Priyamvada becomes pregnant which her sons disapproved of as it made many of their friends & relatives to mock them. It even rocked Nakul’s relationship with Renee & how he as well as his family comes to terms with the arrival of the new member forms the crux of the movie.

    After the forgetful “Tevar” that released in 2015, Amit Sharma is back this time with a story rooted in reality which is portrayed with a dash of humour. The major strength of the movie is the manner in which the situations are treated with sensitivity & realism and kudos for the script goes to Shanatanu Srivastava , Akshat Ghildial and Jyoti Kapoor. Amit deserves praise for having done justice to the script as it doesnt bore the audience even for a brief moment. On the technical side, Sanu Varghese’s visuals were impressive while Tanishk Bagchi’s music & Abhishek Arora’s BGM was fine.

    Though Ayushmann might not be in the league of Rajkummar Rao, I have always been impressed with his choice of movies as he makes an earnest effort to dabble with various genres. More often than not, he invariably comes out in flying colours just like how he has done here & “Andhadhun” a fortnight back. It’s been a while since we have seen Neena Gupta in a meaty role & she was brilliant as Priyamvada as her expressions more than effectively conveyed the emotions without having to use words. Gajraj Rao was fantastic along with Surekha Sikhri, who could have easily gone overboard but handled with elan. As for the rest of the cast, Saniya Malhotra continues to impress with each performance while Sheeba Chaddha was classy as usual.

    Verdict: It has all the ingredients that will make it endearing to the audience. In all probability, it should be a winner at the box office. Though we have had movies like “Pavithram” etc., this is an interesting movie in it own way. In short, definitely give it a try!!!

    Rating: 3.5/5

    Regards…Ben

    October 20, 18
  • With Team India having demolished the Windies inside three days in the first Test at Rajkot, it pretty much meant that there was hardly anything else to watch over the weekend. That’s when I happened to come across a couple of articles that spoke highly of “Andhadhun”. Since it was directed by the brilliant Sriram Raghavan & had Tabu as one of the protagonists. I was more than eager to watch it.

    Akash (Ayushmann Khurrana) is a talented ‘blind’ pianist who aspired to make it big in the music world. Despite numerous efforts, he wasn’t able to earn a break & it was at this juncture that he meets Sophie (Radhika Apte) who offers him a job at her father’s club. His performance at the club earns him numerous fans one of them happens to be yesteryear Bollywood star, Pramod Sinha (Anil Dhawan), who invites him over to his apartment for a private concert as an anniversary gift for his wife, Simi (Tabu). But little did Akash realise that this honour would turn out to be a nightmare & change his life forever.

    Based on the French short film “L’Accordeur” (The Piano Tuner) in 2010 by Oliver Treiner, this flick belongs to the black comedy thriller genre that keeps us hooked until the very last scene. Sriram’s credentials as a film-maker needs no introduction with movies like “Ek Hasina Thi”, “Johnny Gaddaar” etc to his credit. He has also penned this engaging script in the company of Arijit Biswas, Pooja Surti & Yogesh Chandekar and it has got the various elements like murder, betrayal, double crossing, sex etc with a liberal sprinkling of wry humour. Just as in his previous movies, all characters have shades of grey & they are morally flawed. The unusual sequences which is a signature of Sriram can be observed right from the first shot (& be sure to watch it keenly) while his love for the past like Chitrahaar, Sholay, Scream etc., is all showcased here. Though the tempo slacks off towards the early part of the second half, it slowly regains its punch later on & finishes with a bang.

    Apart from the script, the technical aspects have also contributed significantly in enhancing the viewer’s experience. Key among them was Amit Trivedi’s music & BGM which was impressive with ‘Wo Ladki’ rendered by Arijit Singh being my personal favourite. Equally praise worthy work was observed from K U Mohanan’s smartly lighted frames & Pooja Surti’s well thought out editing. In the performance part, Ayushmann was fantastic & continues to improve with each movie. It was imperative that he was in form as he was up against Tabu who always gives a thumping performance & this was a meaty role that gave her more adequate scope to rock. As for the rest of the cast, Radhika Apte didnt have much screen space while Zakir Hussain , Anil Dhawan, Manav Vij did their parts aptly.

    Verdict: With a cracking script, skillful direction & excellent performances; it should be a winner at the boxoffice, However, more often than not intelligent movies like these fail to garner the adequate number of footfalls. Anywaz it deserves to be watched & if you are a fan of thrillers, then dont think twice. In short, dont miss it!!!

    Rating: 3.5/5

    Regards…Ben

    October 07, 18
  • Sui Daaga review: "Manages to stitch our attention onto the celluloid!!!"

    A couple of weeks back, I happened to come across an interesting video where quite a few popular stars like Shahrukh, Akshay etc. were asked to thread a needle. That’s when I realized that it was for the promotion of Sharat Katariya’s “Sui Daaga” which had Varun Dhawan & Anushka Sharma as the lead pair. Since the trailer showed both in completely different avatars, it aroused my curiosity & I decided to check it out. Hopefully it didn’t dampen my spirits after the high of Mani Ratnam’s CCV.

    Based in a small town, the film takes us into the life of Mauji (Varun Dhawan) who worked at a retail sewing machine shop. Apart from his work, his bosses were particularly interested in his ability to entertain them with his antics. Though he knew that his bosses belittled him, he looked at it as an opportunity to remain in their good books since he needed the job to support his family. Incidentally, they belonged to the artisan clan, but since it wasn’t sufficient to support the household, his father (Raghubir Yadav) opted for the job of a peon & was adamant that his sons also didn’t pursue their traditional profession. Things moved along uneventfully, until Mauji’s wife Mamta (Anushka Sharma) instills in him the urge to earn self-respect & the confidence to set up his own tailoring establishment. How they both support each other & realize their dreams forms the crux of the movie.

    This is the third venture of Sharat Katariya with his previous being “Dum Laga Ke Haisha” which was kinda entertaining. Apart from direction, he had taken on the responsibility of writing the script as well & has given us an endearing story that works for more parts. The only portion where he went overboard was the climax where it was not in sync with reality be it the fashion show sequence & the wardrobes that he had created for it. As far as the technical aspect goes, Andrea Guerra’s BGM added more impact to many of the scenes and reminded me of Hollywood underdog movies.

    Among the younger Bollywood actors, Varun Dhawan will surely rank as one among the few to look out for in the future since he does many of the genres reasonably well. As Mauji, he has given an earnest performance while Anushka Sharma who has been choosing roles carefully for quite a while has done appraise worthy job as well. As for the rest of the cast, Raghubir Yadav, Yamini Das etc have done their parts aptly.

    Verdict: As expected, it has performed quite well at the box office with the families warming onto it. There is no doubt that it has an endearing tale that makes us root for the underdog despite the climax being rather outlandish. In short, give it a try!!!

    Rating: 2.75/5

    Regards…Ben

    October 03, 18
  • Batti Gul Meter Chalu review: “Whole movie was gul!!!”

    It was one of the most exciting weekends in recent times courtesy of the high-profile matches which were on offer. This included Tiger Wood’s 80th PGA tour title, Team India’s emphatic win over the Paks & Federer led Team Europe’s successful defense of the Laver Cup. There were a couple of movies as well that I got to check out apart from the games & one of them happened to be Shree Narayan’s “Batti Gul Meter Chalu”. Since his previous putting was Akki’s “Toilet: Ek Prem Katha”, I was particularly interested to watch it after all this also seemed to be rooted in reality.

    SK (Shahid Kapoor), Nauti (Shraddha Kapoor) & Tripathi (Divyendu Sharma) were childhood friends who stuck to each other through thick & thin. Among the three, SK was a sly lawyer who was always on the lookout for some quick bucks which he acquired through the blackmail of potential law offenders. Nauti was a fashion designer while Tripathi who was the meekest among the three ventured into business & opened a small-scale printing company. However, with constant power shortages in the region; it wasn’t easy to meet the demands of the customers & to make it worse, the electricity board also slapped him with outrageous bills for illogical reasons. Hoping to resolve the matter, he took it up with the ombudsman but to no avail. In the meantime, the friendship between the trio also crumbled due to the affair between Nauti & Tripathi which SK found it difficult to accept. Even though Tripathi turned towards SK for his legal support, the latter’s frosty behavior kinda made it evident that he wasn’t keen to help him out. So how was Tripathi going to get out of this mess before he loses his entire livelihood???

    With a host of praise worthy movies to his credit, Shree Narayan has earned himself a respectable name as an editor & hopes to achieve the same as a director as well. This happens to be his third venture & just like “TEPK”, he has opted for a social issue like the lack of electricity & the cut-throat attitude of the electricity boards. He takes a considerable amount of time to set the stage & by the time, he does come to the core issue it doesn’t hit you as forcefully as one would expect. Apart from a couple of scattered chuckles, the court scenes don’t make us sit up & take notice, the blame for which also lies on Vipul Rawal’s rather average script which had the potential but fizzes out with barely a whimper. None of the technical aspects quite caught my eyes & hence doesn’t deserve a mention.

    Despite the rather uninspiring making, I felt all the three main artists has done a reasonably good job with Shahid being the pick among the lot. He has given an earnest performance with his humour & energy while quite a few like Sudhir Pandey, Farida Jalal & Sushmita Mukherjee who are proven artists are wasted.

    Verdict: With not much of a competition, the producers would have hoped that the movie will recreate the magic of “TEPK”. But with a rather uninspiring & bland script, it failed to impress the audience. In short, a rude shock to Shree who would have hoped that the people would back him after his previous praise worthy outing!!!

    Rating: 1.75/5

    Regards…Ben

    September 26, 18
  • Manmarziyaan review: "Seemed like 2018 version of Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam!!"

    Just a week back, I was profusely praising Anurag Kashyap for his brilliant performance in “Imaikka Nodigal” & the maestro was back this week in his director’s apparel for “Manmarziyaan”. From the trailer, it was kinda evident that it’s quite unlike what Anurag has worked with in the past & that in itself excited me further. Interestingly, the movie featured Abhishek Bachchan who is back after a two-year break (“to re-energise” as per what he said; hmm, so it wasn’t due to lack of movies???). Anywaz his success rate as a solo hero has been patchy, pretty much like Sri Lanka’s abysmal record since Sanga & Mahela retired. So, will his movie follow the fate of the Lankans in the Asia Cup???

    Rumi (Taapsee Pannu) is an attractive, bold & free-spirited Punjabi kudi who was madly in love with the equally crazy & bindaas Vicky Sandhu (Vicky Kaushal). The latter was a DJ who aspired for a successful music career though he didn’t seem to work hard for it, while Rumi oversaw her family’s sports goods store. Their affair was known to everyone in the locality & her family after having caught them goofing around started searching alliances for her. However, Rumi’s adamancy forces them to offer some time to her, so that Vicky could seek his folks’ permission to ask her hand in marriage. But with Vicky being apprehensive of commitment, Rumi decided to tie the knot with Robbie Bhattia (Abhishek Bachchan), a UK based banker that her family had chosen for her. The question was whether Rumi & Vicky could forget everything & get on with their new lives or will Robbie be handed out a raw deal???

    Nowadays, we hardly come across directors who works in more than two projects in a single year & interestingly, “Manmarziyaan” happened to be Anurag’s third directorial venture this year after “Mukkabaaz” & “Lust Stories”. Unlike his previous movies, this hasn’t been scripted by him as it was by Kanika Dhillon who had earlier written the screenplay for “Ra One” & “Size Zero” (Telugu/Tamil). It might sound odd, but I felt like this was the 2018 version of “Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam” with carnal instincts being more prominent. Despite having a running time of 155 minutes, it still manages to keep us engaged for large portions especially in the first half. Apart from Anurag’s decent direction & Sylvester Fonseca’s visuals, there are two major reasons which makes this movie work & those are the cast as well as Amit Trivedi’s excellent music. The latter has undoubtedly produced the best soundtrack among all the movies that has released this year.

    Ever since “Pink” released a couple of years back, Taapsee has consistently impressed with her choice of scripts & praise worthy performances. She was brilliant as the vivacious Rumi & should be in pole position to claim a couple of awards for the best actress. Equally impressive was Vicky Kaushal who floored me yet again after “Sanju” & has been consistently churning out good performances. Last but not the least, Abhishek has done a fine job as well with his ability to convey emotions convincingly through expressions. The rest of the cast have all also done their parts aptly.

    Verdict: As per the latest box offices, the film made credible collections over the opening weekend making it the biggest in Anurag’s career (who usually barely make it beyond 10 C). I don’t think it will make much of an impact on the single screens & will have to depend on multiplexes for the revenue. However, it’s worth a watch & I would suggest that you guys should give it a try!!!

    Rating: 2.75/5

    Regards…Ben

    September 19, 18
  • Paltan review: "Weakest among Dutta's war trilogy!!!"

    Whenever we speak about war movies, there are quite a few that instantly comes to mind instantly such as “Saving Private Ryan”, “Hurt Locker”, “Dunkirk” etc., to name a few. In general, it would be fair to admit that Hollywood has always done an impressive job in crafting such war drama. Unfortunately, the same yard stick cant be applied to Indian movies as we haven’t explored much in that genre & among the ones that were picturised, “Border” was definitely my favorite. So when it was announced that J.P Dutta was back with yet another war saga, “Paltan” I was eager to check it out. The question was whether Dutta still had the goods to deliver another gritty movie???

    As history says, our nation suffered a crushing defeat in the hands of China in the war of 1962. This included documented reports as to how the Chinese resorted to dishonorable war tactics to defeat the famed Rajput regiment. About five years has passed but the tension between the nations shimmered at the border which led to constant skirmishes between the armies. Lt Col Rai Singh (Arjun Rampal) & his battalion was entrusted with the task of protection of Nathu La region from possible Chinese incursions. With the Chinese constantly needling his forces with the construction of bunkers & other structures into our land, Col Rai orders fencing to to be laid along the perceived border. As expected, this irks the Chinese & it eventually blown out into a full fledged war. So did our Army finally have their revenge for 1962???

    J.P Dutta is an individual who needs no introduction with movies like “Border”, “LOC:Kargil” to his credit. However, he has been keeping a low profile in recent times with his last release being the forgetful “Umrao Jaan”, more than a decade back. Apart from direction, he has also taken on the responsibility of the script & screenplay; all of which were below par to be frank. He had a compelling tale to narrate but he wasnt able to do justice to it as the conflict between the nations portrayed here seemed more like kids fighting in school. The dialogues at most instances were short slogans & the people who mouthed them didnt even an iota of expression of them. Unlike his previous war dramas which had charismatic actors, over here we are left with a bunch of earnest individuals including experienced campaigners who struggles to capture our attention. The age old problem in Indian movies of portraying foreigners like British, Pakis etc as dimwits & with a single shade in their character is repeated yet again with the Chinese portrayed as an easily agitated school bully. On the technical side, Shailesh Awasthi & Nigam Bomzan has captured the locales pretty well while Anu Malik’s music was average at best.

    None of the known names like Jackie Shroff & Arjun Rampal were worthy of their roles as they seemed disinterested & even a robot could have delivered the dialogues as well as them or maybe even better. Among the rest, Harshvardhan Rane as Major Harbhajan Singh has done a fine job along with Gurmeet Choudhary while Sonu Sood was ok.

    Verdict: Without mincing words, I would have to say that this movie doesn’t have working in its favour & is destined to tank at the box office. Except for the emotional scenes that unfold towards the end, there is nothing else that would even remotely make us empathize with the movie. In short, forget it!!!

    Rating: 1.5/5

    Regards…Ben

    September 14, 18
  • Stree review: "Unique horror comedy that keeps you hooked!!!"

    Before I pen the review, I have to confess that I am not particularly a huge fan of the horror genre. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that I don’t watch it at all, as I have seen quite a few excellent ones such as “Omen”, “Exorcist” etc. in the past. Even in our film industry, despite numerous mediocre (unintentionally hilarious) flicks there are quite a few which were pretty damn good such as “Raat” , “13B”, “Bhoot” etc. When I saw the trailer of “Stree”, I was interested to check it out as the star cast included the talented Rajkummar Rao & it belonged to the horror comedy category. So was it able to justice to its genre or is it pathetic that like most of the rest???

    The film unfolds in the village of Chanderi in MP which is believed to be haunted by a female ghost who abducts men during their annual festival & leaves behind their clothes. So this continued for many years & none of the people were able to stop the ghost. The latest victim was Jaana (Abhishek Bhattacharya) whose close buddies were Vicky (Rajkummar Rao) & Bittu (Aparshakti Khurrana). Incidentally around the same time, Vicky had befriended a female (Shraddha Kapoor) who had approached him for certain unusual supplies. This naturally arouses the suspicion of Vicky & Bittu as to whether she was indeed the ghost as she wasn’t seen by anyone else apart from the former. But how were they going to confirm it & if true, can she be stopped?

    This is the debut venture of Amar Kaushik, though he has assisted in a couple of projects one of which was “Go Goa Gone”; the first zombie comedy in the country. It was helmed by Raj Nidimoru & Krishna D K, who happens to have prepared the script & screenplay for the present venture. The uniqueness of this flick was that it was both hilarious & scary at the same time, with the men being the ones scared to walk in the dark unlike the normal status quo where women were the petrified group. Kudos to the script writers & Amar for being able to keep the audience engaged & they were also amply assisted by the hilarious dialogues by Sumit Arora. There is no doubt that it is a tad long & could have easily benefited if the meaningless songs were edited out. As for other technical aspects, it was executed well.

    Rajkummar Rao is undoubtedly one of the finest actors in the country, who excels irrespective of whatever role is give to him. He has done just that as the talented tailor Vicky who goes bonkers for the beautiful lass but musters up courage when he is face to face with the ghost.It’s not so often that we get to see Shraddha Kapoor in a meaningful part & she has done utmost justice to her role. Another person who gives tough competition for Rajkummar is Pankaj Tripathi, who had the audience in splits as the scholar Rudra who had answer to everything related to the ghost. Equally impressive were Abhishek & Aparshakti and the rest of the cast who deserves a pat on their backs.

    Verdict: As expected, the public loved the movie & it has reflected in the box office collections, with the gross amount predicted to breach even the 100 C mark. It’s surely a horror flick that will have you entertained with its conversational humour. In short, you will enjoy it!!!

    Rating: 3/5

    Regards…Ben

    September 09, 18
  • Satyameva Jayate review: "Truth is even a migraine will feel better!!!"

    As mentioned in my previous review on “Gold”, the second Bollywood movie that I had watched over the same period was “Satyameva Jayate”. Well to be frank, I didn’t have much of a good feeling prior to watching it as the trailer didn’t seem to offer anything new. But I still decided to check it out, hoping that it would be one of those rare John Abraham movies that was worth a try. Alas, I was grossly mistaken.

    Mumbai, the financial capital of our nation was home to over 2 lakh police officers; though a significant number among them had corruption charges slapped against them. With the judicial system proving to be ineffective against such individuals, Vir (John Abraham) a vigilante takes it upon himself to eliminate the tainted officers. As expected, this sends a chill down the spine of the force & they become the laughing stock of the media & the public, since the protectors themselves were incapable of protecting their own flock. Left with no choice, the Commissioner entrusts the case to his trusted lieutenant & the most efficient officer in the force; DCP Shivansh (Manoj Bajpayee). But irrespective of whatever moves Shivansh made, Vir was always a step ahead of him & the murders continued unabated. So how did Vir manage to do that despite the well laid plans of the former???

    Milan Milap Zaveri is a name that not many would be aware of & it’s not surprising after all he had directed just two forgetful movies prior to this (not worth mentioning). However, he has scripted numerous movies & quite a few of them are well known such as “Housefull”,”Heyy Babyy”, “Kaante” etc. With regard to his latest flick, it’s downright pathetic as it felt like a movie which should have released a couple of decades back. There was nothing that could be attributed as fresh in the plot & seemed like he made it combining quite a few yesteryear movies that he would have watched on DVD or Doordarshan. None of the technical aspects deserves mention, except for maybe the action sequences.

    How often have we seen John beat men into pulp & rip out whatever he can get his hands on. Well it’s the same thing all over again while Manoj Bajpayee was wasted in a role which didnt require a person of his caliber. As for the rest of the cast, they were average at best while the female lead essayed by Aisha Sharma was rather mediocre.

    Verdict: Surprisingly, as per box office reports it has collected close to 90 C which has got me stunned to be frank. It might have been the holidays or the lack of other credible releases, but whatever might be the case; the producers wont complain. As far as my opinion goes, it’s hardly worth wasting your time & can make you either sleep off or have a migrane!!!

    Rating: 1/5

    Regards…Ben

    September 06, 18
  • Gold review: 'Could have glittered as much as the actual gold!!!"

    About a month is about to pass since we celebrated the Independence Day & as always a couple of flicks which harped about patriotism made it’s way to the theatres. However, since our state went through the worst floods in more than a century, I neither had the time nor felt it was appropriate to pen down as to what I thought about “Gold” & “Satyameva Jayate”. The former had Akshay in the lead & it was a fictional take with a dose of reality about India’s first Olympic gold in hockey after becoming independent. I have to admit that I have a soft corner for sports dramas, but was it so good so to have become a huge hit???

    The year was 1936 & the two time defending Olympic champions British India was up against the Germans in the grand finale with Hitler in attendance. Though the team seemed flustered in the first half, the Indian team bolstered by Samrat’s magic (Kunal Kapoor) & manager Tapan Das’s inspirational pep talk (Akshay Kumar) turned the tables on their opponents & won the contest with ease. Incidentally, that was the last time the team played under the British India flag as the the next three Olympics were cancelled due to WWII. With the 1948 Olympics confirmed & the news of Indian independence turning out to be a reality, Tapan Das approaches the Hockey Federation to allow him to assemble a team for the tournament. Despite resistance from certain quarters due to his drinking problem & monetary mismanagement, he is given the permission to do the needful. Though he manages to put together a stellar team, little did he realise that partition will fragment the team in ways unimaginable.

    Reema Kagti is a relatively well known director with movies like “Honeymoon Travels Ltd” & “Talaash” to her credit, in addition to having scripted a few others as well. Her latest venture is a concoction of fact & fiction & is scripted by her in the company of Rajesh Devraj. Whenever we talk about hockey, the first name that comes to mind is Dhyan Chand & this character is portrayed as Kunal’s Samrat while Tapan Das’s role has shades of similarity with Pankaj Gupta. Some of the sequences depicted in the movie such as playing bare foot in wet conditions etc., are all inspired from real life events. The first half works better unlike the latter half which seemed pretty dramatic & over the top at times. With regard to the technical aspects, the art direction deserves praise, Anand Subayya’s editing ought to have been tighter while Sachin-Jigar’s music was fine though the placement of a few of them didnt make sense.

    Akshay has done a decent job as the manager though as a Bengali he wasnt quite upto the mark. Interestingly, quite a few others were brilliant in their roles such as Kunal Kapoor, Vineet Kumar Singh, Nikita Dutta & Sunny Kaushal. Even Amit Sadh was fine though a tad artificial at times while Mouni Roy was average.

    Verdict: As a sports drama, it doesnt quite match upto the benchmark set by “Chak De”, but still provides an engaging viewing experience. It has notched impressive numbers at the box office though it had potential to have been much better. In short, check it out!!!

    Rating: 2.75/5

    Regards…Ben

    September 05, 18
  • Vishwaroopam 2 review: "Hard to believe Kamal made this incoherent & insipid circumquel!!!"

    If one is asked to name some of the finest actors that our nation has produced, then one actor who will invariably feature in everyone’s list will be Kamal Hassan. His body of work over the past 50 years is nothing short of extraordinary, due to which we invariably wait with bated breath whenever his movie hit the screens. With the legend having plunged into active politics with the launch of his political party ‘Makkal Needhi Maiam’, he has announced that he is retiring from movies. If he does keep his word, then there are just 3 of his movies left of which “Vishwaroopam 2” has hit the screens this weekend. The prequel was top notch & so naturally, the expectations are nigh high. So will it be yet another Kamal classic???

    Wisam Ahmad Kashmiri (Kamal Hassan) & his team is on the way to London to hand over the body of their deceased colleague to the family. However, their stay over there turned out to be eventful as an assassination plot had been hatched for Wisam & Col Jagannath (Shekhar Kapur) by Iyer (Anant Mahadevan), an Indian bureaucrat turned rogue. Both of them managed to escape unscathed with the Colonel eliminating Iyer while Wisam finds out that all of this was masterminded by his old foe, Omar Qureshi (Rahul Bose). To make matters worse, Omar was planning a terrorist attack on London by making use of bombs that had sank off England’s coast during WWII, which incidentally still happened to be active. It was now upto Wisam to defuse the situation but it wasnt going to be easy as he was up against a wounded enemy who was well versed with all his tactics.

    Close to half a decade has passed since the release of “Vishwaroopam” which was without doubt a stylish espionage thriller that I felt was on par with Hollywood movies. Incidentally, a significant portion of the second part was shot along with the prequel itself but unforeseen issues such as financial crisis etc delayed the release. It is essentially a one man show as Kamal has taken care of all the major responsibilities & that could essentially might have been the reason why his script was just so uninspiring. The first half of the movie was spent predominantly on flashbacks & explanations as to what actually happened in the prequel which doesn’t do anything apart from making the audience bored & confused. The actual terrorist plan seemed interesting but the manner in which it was executed was rather lame. Even the VFX, editing by Mahesh Narayan & the art direction which was fantastic in the prequel was pretty pathetic. However, it does have a couple of highlights such as Kamal’s dialogues that touched upon various topics such as religion, geopolitics etc., Ghibran’s music & the cinematography by Sanu Varghese and Shamdat Sainudeen.

    As expected, Kamal was brilliant as the protagonist especially when he delivers the lines, though his action sequences weren’t exactly great . Pooja Kumar was definitely far better in this while Andrea Jeremiah was fine in her part. Shekhar Kapur & Anant Mahadevan were ok while Rahul Bose was wasted.

    Verdict: There is no doubt that the movie will have a fantastic initial owing to the praise worthy prequel & lack of competition at the box office. But for a person of Kamal’s caliber, this movie is definitely a disappointment as the story lacked clarity & the flash backs that take up significant screen time didn’t impart anything worthwhile to the overall impact. In short, it wont hurt to give it a miss!!!

    Rating: 1.75/5

    Regards…Ben

    August 14, 18
  • Fanney Khan review: "Anil Kapoor rocks even as the film felt rather doltish in the latter half!!!"

    With the boom of television channels at the turn of the new millennium, the audiences are bombarded with a plethora of programmes. Apart from the never ending soap operas that are lapped up by the masses, another prominent programme that has captured the imagination of the public are the reality shows. The fact of the matter is more often than not, there is no “reality” in such shows as it is smartly staged with an eye on the TRPs. There is no doubt that such shows has given platforms for numerous talented individuals to kick start their career but becoming a star isnt a cake walk. Incidentally Atul Manjrekar’s debut venture “Fanney Khan” touches upon this subject in a humorous manner. The trailer was thoroughly entertaining but was the movie as good???

    Prasanth Sharma/Fanney Khan (Anil Kapoor) was the lead vocalist in an orchestra in his younger days & aspired to become a singer like Rafi. However, he couldn’t make his dream into reality & hoped that he could make his daughter, Lata (Pihu Sand) succeed where he faltered. She was definitely talented though her confidence to perform was invariably dented as she was regularly humiliated for being on the chubbier side. Since he struggled to make ends meet, he knew that his ambition to make a music album for his daughter was rather fetched. It is at this juncture that he decides to kidnap Baby Singh (Aishwarya Rai), the most sought after singing sensation in exchange for ransom with the help of his friend, Adhir (Rajkummar Rao). So will Lata become the star that her father dreamt of & if so, at what cost???

    Based on the Belgian movie “Everybody’s Famous” by Dominique Deruddere (which I haven’t watched), the Bollywood version has been helmed by the debutant, Atul Manjrekar. He has also written the screenplay along with Hussain Dalal & Abbas Dalal, which though hilarious at times cant be denied to be rather silly & a climax that could sent the wrong signals. At the same time, he does pose some serious questions with regard to whether talent has to take back seat to glamour & compromise. There is no doubt that Atul missed a trick or two in making the more entertaining & meaningful, if he had made a couple of changes. Some of them being more screen time for the hilarious interactions between Anil, Ash & Rao, more focus on Pihu’s relation with Anil etc. With regard to the technical aspects, pretty much everything was fine though Amit Trivedi’s music stood out especially the “Tere Jaisa Tu Hai” track rendered by Monali Thakur.

    Anil Kapoor was excellent as the father who would go to any length to ensure that his daughter has a successful career. Pihu Sand has done a fine job along with Rajkummar, though the latter wasn’t quite utilized. Similarly Aishwarya was an apt choice as the pop star but her pairing with Rajkummar seemed rather odd. As for the rest of the cast, they have done their parts aptly.

    Verdict: It had the makings of an hilarious entertainer but failed to realize its full potential due to Atul’s inexperience & an average screenplay, which didn’t know what ought to be highlighted & what not. It wont make much of a noise at the box office & might just be able to break even at best. So does it mean that it’s a waste of time??? Hmm..that will be kinda harsh as I felt it’s a decent time pass with hilarious sequences despite the outlandish plot & questionable climax !!!

    Rating: 2.5/5

    Regards…Ben

    August 08, 18
  • Mulk review: "Realistic take on religious prejudices!!!"

    Whether we like it or not, we live in a nation which has a significant number of people who gets easily swayed whenever the topic of “religion’ comes up. As expected, many politicians use this strategy to their benefit by taking advantage of such gullible individuals. Even though we have developed as a nation in various aspects such as science, technology, education etc., we have failed to keep religious prejudices at bay. The fact is if such prejudices are left unchecked, it is powerful enough to unleash disharmony in the nation & we are already witness to such incidents rather frequently. This is exactly what is discussed in Anubhav Sinha’s “Mulk”, but is it too preachy & filmy or a replica of the ground reality???

    Advocate Murad Ali (Rishi Kapoor) lived with his family in their ancestral home in Banaras & shared a warm relationship with everyone in the neighbourhood Things moved along smoothly until his nephew Shahid (Prateik Babbar) gets involved in a bomb blast that claims numerous lives. It turned out that he was influenced into becoming an extremist & was eventually shot dead in an encounter. The investigation team led by SSP Danish Javed (Rajat Kapoor) refused to believe that Shahid’s family had no clue about his terrorist involvement. To make matters worse, circumstantial evidence seemed to indicate that Shahid’s father Bilal (Manoj Pahwa) facilitated in the execution of his son’s plan. This creates unrest in the locality with Murad Ali & his family isolated & insulted by even their friends & neighbours. However, that didn’t deter Murad & his daughter in law, Arti (Taapsee Pannu) to seek justice & regain honour for their family who were innocent of Shahid’s misendeavours.

    Anubhav Sinha came into the industry with a bang with an unexpected hit in the form of “Tum Bin”, but couldnt quite recreate that form ever since. He had also helmed “Ra One” which was slammed by many, though I kinda liked the concept. However, I have no doubt that his latest release would be well received as it is his best work to date. Apart from calling the shots, he has also penned the script & it is evident that he has done his homework with regard to the prejudices that the Muslim community faces for some rotten apples in their midst. The movie doesn’t grow on us in the first hour, but the moment the courtroom drama starts, you can rest assured to be completely engrossed. As for other technical aspects, the manner in which the court scenes were impressively picturised by Ewan Mulligan & the presence of Taapsee reminded me of “Pink”.

    Rishi Kapoor has been lucky to get some meaty roles in the last couple of years & this one is no different as he has aced his part with elan. Giving him apt competition was Taapsee who in recent times have started to carve a niche for herself with some exceptional performances & this role will feature as one of the finest in her career. Similarly, Ashutosh Rana, Rajat Kapoor, Manoj Pahwa & Kumud Mishra have all excelled in their parts which has gone a long way in elevating the viewing experience.

    Verdict: It can definitely not be tagged as an entertainer but rather as a mirror for the society that seems to get narrow minded due to religious prejudices. It’s a movie that needs to be watched as it is rooted in reality & even as a celluloid creation, you will love the last 30 minutes. In short, don’t miss it!!!

    Rating: 4/5

    Regards…Ben

    August 07, 18
  • Saheb, Biwi Aur Gangster 3 review: "Weakest among the trilogy!!!"

    Seems like the last weekend was reserved specifically for franchise movies. If Hollywood had “MI6” gracing the screens, then Bollywood had “Saheb, Biwi Aur Gangster 3”. Both the prequels of “SBG” had garnered substantial critical acclaim & Tigmanshu Dhulia would be hoping that he could maintain the trend in the latest installment as well. With the addition of Sanjay Dutt into the mix to essay the part of the gangster, Dhulia cant be blamed if he believed that it would translate into more footfalls in the theatre. So did his plan work out as expected???

    Saheb/Aditya Pratap (Jimmy Shergill) was still in jail & was trying to buy his way out into the open world. On the other hand, his biwi/Madhavi Devi (Mahi Gill) had become MP & was doing everything within her power to keep him behind bars. But Aditya managed to get out of jail with the help of his aid Kanhaiya (Deepraj Rana) & his daughter, Deepal (Pamela Bhutoria), much to the chagrin of Madhavi. It was at this juncture that she came into acquaintance with Uday Pratap Singh (Sanjay Dutt), who also belonged to royal lineage though he had a strained relationship with his father & brother. With Aditya seeking to acquire power, Madhavi proposes a deal to Uday whereby he will kill Saheb in exchange for her help to acquire the land that he had set his eyes upon for his heritage hotel. So will Uday accept the deal especially since the biwi is known for double crossing???

    Just as in the previous editions, the basic premise was pretty much the same with the Saheb & Biwi at loggerheads with each other. It is a concoction of revenge, infidelity, back stabbing and ambition to rise at any cost. But what had made the previous installments stand out was that the whole tale was cohesive & intriguing which is sadly not the case in the latest version. The script by Sanjay Chauhan along with Dhulia, was just not compelling enough & to make matters worse, the gangster portion didn’t make any sense. Amalendu’s visuals were decent enough while none of the other technical aspects deserved special mention.

    Both Jimmy Shergill & Mahi Gill has done a fine job in their respective roles while Sanjay Dutt, who was brought in with much fanfare seemed totally disinterested & didn’t gel in the movie. As for the rest of the cast, Kabir Bedi hams, Deepak Tijori proves he is still alive, Nafisa Ali & Soha Ali Khan included for reasons only the director could answer, Chitrangada Singh wasted while Zakir Hussain does what was expected of him.

    Verdict: There is no doubt that this is the weakest movie among the three parts & the manner in which it has ended, seems to indicate that a fourth part might be in the cards. However, unless Dhulia regains his touch which he seems to have lost since “Bullet Raja”; he shouldn’t even attempt the next installment. The ploy to release the movie after “Sanju” in order to reap the benefits of the good will generated due to the sanitized biopic has completely backfired as Sanjay’s part was poorly etched & performed. In short, don’t bother!!!

    Rating: 1.75/5

    Regards…Ben

    July 31, 18
  • "Your mission, should you choose to watch it is absolutely exhilarating!!!"

    Whenever we talk about franchise movies, the first thing we think about are the actors who made those protagonists memorable. More of than not, such characters becomes the USP of the actor & he is known for that role irrespective of the plethora of other movies he must have acted in. We have been witness to numerous franchise movies such as Stallone’s “Rocky & Rambo”, Arnold’s “Terminator”, Harrison Ford’s “Indiana Jones”, Johnny Depp’s “Pirates of the Caribbean” to name a few. Another hugely popular franchise & one of my personal favourite apart from “Rocky” is Tom Cruise’s “Mission Impossible” series. This weekend we had the sixth edition of MI, “Mission: Impossible-Fallout” hitting the screens & as always, the trailer was just awesome. So can Cruise still pull off Ethan Hunt convincingly or is it the desperation of the star to remain relevant on the back of his past MI glory???

    A couple of years has passed after the capture of Solomon Lane (Sean Harris), but his organisation “The Syndicate” was still very much functional & had transformed itself into a terrorist group known as “The Apostles”. Their latest mission was to acquire three plutonium cores for a client named John Lark, who intended to blow it up in religious sites such as Rome, Jerusalem & Mecca. This was where Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) came into the picture as he was entrusted with the task of ensuring that the plutonium didnt go into the wrong hands. However, the Apostles were a couple of steps ahead of him & outsmarted him by forcing him to choose his friend’s life over the plutonium procurement. As one would expect, Ethan & his team were back in their elements in quick time, but how high were the stakes if they had to save the world yet again???

    The MI series began in 1996 & the first five movies were helmed by five different directors. However, this time around they decided to persist with Christopher McQuarrie who had done a decent job with the previous installment “Rogue Nation”. Scripted by McQuarrie himself, the story is pretty much standard affair though unlike the previous editions there was a certain degree of continuity from the previous movie. As always, the highlight of the series are the breath taking action sequences & it is no different this time as well. The fist fight in the restroom, the rooftop chase in London, the bike chase in Paris, the helicopter stunt in supposed to be Kashmir (though it is New Zealand) etc., each of them were brilliantly choreographed by stunt coordinator Wade Eastwood. All of them were exquisitely captured by Rob Hardy & the the impact of the scenes were elevated by Lorne Balfe’s apt choice of music.

    What do I say about Tom Cruise??? He is absolutely brilliant & the backbone as to why this series is relevant even after 22 years. His utmost dedication to his craft & insistence to perform those unbelievable stunts that we have witnessed over the years be it the one in Burj Khalifa, Tarzan swing in Shanghai or dangling outside Air A400M, by himself without the use of CGI is what makes this series all the more endearing & thrilling to us. As far for the rest of the cast, all of them have done their parts well be it Henry Cavill, Ving Rhames, Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson etc.

    Verdict: Without doubt, one of the finest action movies to have ever released & definitely one of the best MI movies to date. What is all the more incredible is the fact that Cruise is 56 years old. Oh yes, you dont have to think twice, I didnt get his age wrong . His dedication to daredevilry & the ease with which he pulls off stunts would make anyone develop an inferiority complex, not to mention his iconic straight backed running (my personal favourite) is something you just cant afford to miss. In short, rush to a theatre near you!!!

    Rating: 4.25/5

    Regards…Ben

    July 30, 18
  • Dhadak review: "Fails to realize the potential of the thread that could have made us miss a dhadak!!!"

    It’s been a rather busy week on the professional front that I wasnt able to pen my thoughts about “Dhadak” that I had watched last weekend. I was rather interested to check it out after all it was the launch of Sridevi’s daughter, Janhvi Kapoor & Shahid’s brother, Ishaan Khatter. The trailer was quite good & the songs were rather catchy. giving indications that it had the substance to earn a decent initial. But will it be able to break even???

    The film unfolds in Rajasthan where we have Madhukar (Ishaan) & Parthavi (Janhvi) fall for each other, oblivious of the fact her family were against their union since he belonged to an inferior caste. Parthavi’s father Ratan Singh (Ashutosh Rana) uses his influence to register a fake rape attempt case on Madhu & his friends. However, Parthavi manages to turn the tables & rescues Madhu from the clutches of the police. But will the lovers be able to ever live in peace???

    Karan Johar had bought the rights for the Marathi blockbuster “Sairat” & entrusted Shashank Khaitan to remake it in Hindi. This was the latter’s third movie after the “Dulhania” series & definitely a challenge to match upto Nagraj Manjule’s efforts. Well it seemed Shashank had the dilemma as to whether he should attempt something truly original or he felt that the audience wouldn’t be able to digest the harsh reality portrayed in the Marathi version. Anywaz Shashank was rather too mellow in his screenplay & execution , which kinda denied the movie the impact that it could have made if he was faithful to the original script. On the technical side, both Ajay-Atul & John Stewart have done a praise worthy job with the music & BGM while Vishnu Rao’s visuals were fine.

    Both Ishaan & Janhvi have done a decent job in their debut outing. Ishaan oozes charm & innocence and was an apt choice for the role. It would be unfair to compare Janhvi to her illustrious mother, the incomparable Sridevi. But even then Janhvi has done no harm to her name & has given a reasonably decent performance. There is no doubt that they are far from the finished product, but for starters they deserve an applause. The rest of the cast were average & didnt have much to do.

    Verdict: Even if you didnt watch “Sairat”, you will still feel that Shashank definitely missed the opportunity to make a memorable love story along the lines of “Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak”. As per box office figures, it has managed to make a profit. In short, it’s rather predictable; which means that the story as such might not interest you but the newbies has done a decent job.

    Rating: 2.25/5

    Regards…Ben

    July 28, 18
  • Soorma review: "Flick doesnt drag but fails to score the goal convincingly!!!"

    It’s been an exciting month for sports lovers with many high profile tournaments happening across the globe such as the World Cup, Wimbledon, Champions Trophy etc. Even the film industry have sought inspiration from such athletes over the years & have made biopics on them such as “Mary Kom”, “M.S Dhoni”, “Bhaag Milkha Bhaag” etc. The latest to join this list is “Soorma” which is based on our ace drag flicker, Sandeep Singh who went through a career ending accident & rose from the ashes like a phoenix. With another biopic “Sanju” going great guns at the box office, it remains to be seen whether this will evoke similar reactions from the audience.

    Over the years, we have had some incredible hockey players & a significant number of them hailed from Punjab. Sandeep Singh (Diljit Dosanjh) was also from the same state & thrust into the game pretty young to follow in the footsteps of his brother Bikram (Angad Bedi). However, he didnt pursue it for long as he detested his coach Kartar Singh (Danish Hussain), who was an extremely tough task master. But he decided to take up his hockey stick many years later, in order to impress Harpreet (Tapsee Pannu), a fellow player; rather than love for the game. It so turned out that he gets moulded into a brilliant player under the watchful eyes of Coach Harry (Vijay Raaz) & attracts the attention of the Hockey Federation who inducts him into the national team without fail. But even before he could make a significant mark, his career was cut short by an accidental gun shot into his spine which left him hemiplegic. The rest of the movie tracks his journey from the bed to the pinnacle of the game.

    Biopics has been one of the most favoured genres in our industry in recent times & Shaad Ali, known for movies like “Saathiya”, “Bunty Aur Babli”, “Ok Jaanu” etc., decided to give it a try. The first half was fine as it basically tracked Sandeep’s journey from childhood to the time he began to make a name for himself. It’s the latter half which actually get us invested in the story & steadily builds to the climax. The highlight of the movie is the excellent star cast, each of whom was perfect for the role & gave a sincere performance. However, it does have its share of pitfalls as well & that’s primarily coz of the lack of exciting moments on the hockey field, the rather ordinary manner in which the games were choreographed, team dynamics & Tapsee reduced to merely a muse rather than the talented player that she is portrayed as. The music by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy was praise worthy & in sync with the mood while Chirantan Das’s visuals were fine.

    As mentioned earlier, each & every artist has done an impressive job. Diljit was perfect as the protagonist who exudes charm & conveys all range of emotions with utter ease. It was hard to believe that he isnt a hockey player as his body language, aggression etc all seemed natural. Angad Bedi had me stumped with his excellent act & hopefully, more film makers will give him meaty roles. The same amount of praise applies to the rest as well such as Tapsee, Vijay Raaz, Sathish Kaushik, Seema Kaushal etc.

    Verdict: Sandeep Singh was instrumental in India winning the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in 2009 & led the nation to the 2012 Olympics. However, his biopic is unlikely to make as much of an impact despite the excellent & sincere performances by the artists. It is nowhere near the league of “Chak De” even though the core story that it conveys is equally as intense. There is no doubt that “Sanju” made matters tough but if more thought had gone into the screenplay, it would have done much better business at the box-office. Anywaz, it’s still worth a one time-watch!!!

    Rating: 2.75/5

    Regards…Ben

    July 17, 18
  • "Same old formula but with a bigger star & more ways to bust money!!!"

    The eagerly anticipated World Cup is finally here & we have already witnessed a couple of high quality matches. With Eid ul Fitr also celebrated leading to the weekend, it has been an entertaining weekend. To add to the festivities, we have the customary Salman Khan movie hitting the screens & this time it happens to be “Race 3” which promises to be an all out action entertainer. So will it claim the numero uno spot in the box office just like how Federer achieved the No.1 ranking at Stuttgart???

    Shamsher Singh (Anil Kapoor) was one of the leading arms & narcotics dealer in the world and ran his empire in the Middle East. He was assisted in his endeavours by his nephew Sikandar (Salman Khan) whom he trusted more than his own twin children, Sanjana (Daisy Shah) & Suraj (Saqib Saleem). This naturally makes them harbour bad blood towards Sikander & plots his downfall. However, Sikander were always a step ahead of them & kept them in check with the help of his trusted lieutenant, Yash (Bobby Deol). At around this juncture, Shamsher gets wind of a hard disk that contained sexual adventures of top Indian politicians & decides to blackmail them in exchange for favours to establish his empire in the country. However, the twins found it as an opportunity to eliminate Sikander. But it was much easier said than done.

    Believe it or not, but it’s been a decade since the “Race” franchise began with the director duo Abbas-Mustan having directed the first two installments. However, unlike the previous ventures; the latest movie has no connection with the others except for the title. It is helmed by Remo D’Souza, who in my opinion is an excellent choreographer but a mediocre director. For the audience who have followed the “Race” series, they will be aware that the basic template will be a potpourri of style, glamour, double crossing & pulsating action sequences & that pattern is religiously maintained (or rather taken up a couple of notches) by Shiraz Ahmed. No one expects logic in such movies but even then it doesnt offer anything that captivates us. The action sequences choreographed by Tom Struthers (of “Inception”, “Dark Knight” & “Dunkirk” fame, was top notch while Ayanika Bose deserves praise for the visuals but Salim Sulaiman’s music was average.

    It’s an all out Salman movie & he has given the masses what they needed with a power packed action flick. Anil Kapoor is the only one who has survived from the beginning & has given an earnest performance. Bobby Deol makes a comeback from wilderness with a toned physique but seems like he forgot to flex his facial muscles. As for the rest, none of the performances deserves mention but kudos to Jacqueline & Daisy for the effort they invested in combat scenes.

    Verdict: Despite being panned by the critics, the movie galloped to the 100C club in just 3 days. With “Sanju”, still a fortnight away, it should race itself to some mind boggling numbers. If you are in for some cool action sequences, then you wont be disappointed but dont expect an iota of logic. In short, it offers nothing new apart from exotic locations, fancy cars & Salman!!!

    Rating: 2/5

    Regards…Ben

    June 18, 18
  • Parmanu: The Story of Pokhran review: "Earnest effort though it lacks detail & intensity!!!"

    Over the 70 odd years of Indian Independence, our nation have achieved numerous feats such as Green Revolution, White Revolution, ISRO’s exploits etc. One such notable achievement was India’s nuclear power capabilities which was accomplished on the back of the nuclear tests conducted in Pokhran in 1998. Apart from the fact it was a crowning moment for India, it is also one of the biggest failures of the CIA which had no clue about it despite the numerous satellites spying in the region. Though the events are well documented in print, Abhishek Sharma decided to re-create it on celluloid. So did he stick to the actual details or is it just merely fiction with an over dosage of patriotism???

    It’s 1995 & China has just conducted 43 nuclear tests which had sent our politicians into a frenzy due to the increasing might of its neighbours. Among the numerous nonsensical retaliation suggestions that are floated at the PM’s Office, Ashwat Raina (John Abraham), a IAS Officer proposes the idea that India also needs to conduct nuclear tests. His suggestion is met with ridicule & though the PM’s secretary takes up the idea, Ashwat is sidelined & it reflects in the eventual planning as the nueclear test turned out to be a failure. As one would expect, Ashwat is made the scapegoat which breaks his confidence. However, three years later he gets a shot at redemption when Himanshu Malik, the new Principal Secretary to the PM puts him in charge of the nuclear mission. How Ashwat & his team accomplishes the task under the nose of the US spy satellites forms the crux of the movie.

    Abhishek Sharma made quite a few look up & take notice of him with his debut venture “Tere Bin Laden” which released close to a decade back. However, “Parmanu” will be his first major movie in terms of budget & canvas on offer. Based on the Pokhran nuclear tests, masterminded by APJ & Co.; Abhishek in the company of Saiwyn Quadras & Sanyukta Chawla Sheikh (of “Neerja” & “Mary Kom” fame) has created a story that is more fictional than the actual truth. The whole mission seemed rather too simplistic though the tension built up towards the climax was credible. None of the technical aspects deserves a special mention as it average at best.

    John Abraham has given a sincere effort & fitted the role of the protagonist. Boman Irani was impressive in his brief role while the rest of the cast were fine as well though I felt Diana Penty wasnt quite the right choice for her role.

    Verdict: With not much competition in the first week, “Parmanu” was able to break even without breaking much sweat. However, with “Veere Di Wedding” having hit the screens this weekend; it remains to be seen how much more it will be able to collect. There is no doubt that the movie is decently crafted, but I felt it could have been more impactful. In short, you can give it a try!!!

    Rating: 2.5/5

    Regards…Ben

    June 03, 18
  • Hichki review: "Dont hichak to check out this endearing flick!!!"

    In the past decade or so, a new genre that Bollywood directors seems to be interested in are movies where the protagonists are either physically challenged or suffering from genetic and neurological disorders. Hence we had movies on dyslexia “Taare Zameen Par”, Asperger’s syndrome “My Name is Khan”, progeria “Paa” etc., to name a few. The latest to be added to that list is Rani Mukerji’s “Hichki” where she is suffering from Tourette’s syndrome. So will the movie have am engaging story that will keep us hooked???

    Naina Mathur (Rani Mukerji) is a well qualified charming young lady who is passionate about becoming a teacher. However, all her efforts to get a job in her preferred profession failed as she suffered from Tourette’s syndrome, a neurological disorder which made her interviewers skeptical of her ability to teach. After numerous failed attempts, she finally landed a job at the esteemed St. Notkers which also happened to be her alma mater. But she had a daunting task in front of her as she had to tame of class of unruly students. Will she rise upto the challenge or will she forced to opt for a different profession just like her father said???

    Based on the book “Front of the Class” by Brad Cohen & Lisa Wysocky, “Hichki” is the second movie of Siddharth Malhotra after “We are Family” in 2010. There is no doubt that it is endearing & keeps us engaged despite the predictability. It does reminds us of flicks like “Dead Poets Society” among others & the lack of novelty in the events that unfold might be a deterrent at times. None of the technical aspects deserves special mention though Hitesh Sonik’s music was fine. The heart & soul of the movie is undoubtedly Rani Mukerji, who is back on the silver screen after a hiatus with her last performance being “Mardaani” in 2014. She has done a praise worthy job & equally impressive (or at time even better than Rani) were the bunch of super talented kids. The rest of the cast such as Vikram Gokhale, Supriya Pilgaonkar, Hussain Dalal have also done their parts aptly.

    Verdict: The film will surely have word of mouth in its favour & that is reflected in the box office collections as well. As per latest reports, it has accumulated a total of 22.5 C until yday making it a viable project for Yash Raj films due to the low investment. In short, dont hichak to watch Rani & her students!!!

    Rating: 2.75/5

    Regards…Ben

    March 30, 18