• 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
  • Raid review: "Riveting drama between two brilliant characters on opposite sides of the moral spectrum!!!"

    It’s been a while since I have written a review though I did watch a couple of mediocre movies which didnt quite inspire me to put my thoughts onto the blog. With the exam season in full swing, there has hardly been any worthwhile releases in the past one month. So apart from my work it were events like the ATP Masters, All England Championship & Ind-Aus tour of South Africa that kept me occupied. However, there was one significant release this weekend which had aroused my curiosity and it happened to be Ajay Devgn’s “Raid”. It was said to be based on a high profile tax raid that occurred in the 1980s & the trailer more than adequately excited the audience. So will it be the elusive hit the box office had been waiting for since “Padman”???

    The film unfolds in 1981 in Lucknow where Amay Patnaik (Ajay Devgn), the income tax deputy commissioner had recently taken charge. We get a sense of his honesty & uprightness within the first couple of scenes itself which has led him to be transferred 49 times in seven years. No sooner had he assumed responsibility, he is tipped off by an anonymous source about the obscene amount of ill-gotten wealth of the crooked & powerful politician, Rameshwar Singh aka Tauji (Saurabh Shukla). After being satisfactorily convinced about the validity of the accusations, Amay obtained the legal documents to conduct raid on Tauji’s palatial residence. But it was easier said than done.

    Raj Kumar Gupta is no novice to the art of direction as is evidenced by his previous ventures such as “Aamir”, “No One Killed Jessica” & “Ghanchhakar”. Based on true incidents, “Raid” is a riveting drama that has been scripted by Ritesh Shah who had also penned impressive movies like “Citylights” & “Pink”. The screenplay & dialogues are pretty much top notch for large parts, though the former finds itself in a dicey situation in the latter half. The manner in which the procedures of the raid are spelt out by the protagonist was quite novel in celluloid & the decision to make Devgn essay a realistic character rather than take on a zillion guys alone in itself was refreshing to the senses. However, the romantic songs by Amit Trivedi that has been squeezed in acted as speed breakers. As for other aspects, Trivedi’s BGM was excellent, Alphonse Roy’s visuals were fine while Bodhaditya Banerjee’s editing in the second half could have been tighter.

    It’s been a while since we got an opportunity to watch Ajay in a realistic role that utilized his acting skills. He was fantastic as the incorruptible officer who does everything by the book & giving him excellent company was the exceptional Saurabh Shukla. Ever since I first noticed him in “Satya”, I have been an admirer of his talent though very few directors have made adequate of it & Raj Kumar can be proud of that. There were a couple of others who gave praise worthy support such as Pushpa Joshi (as Amma, who was an absolute scream) & Amit Sial (as Lallan) while the others such as Ileana D’Cruz have done their part aptly.

    Verdict: Slowly and steadily, the audience have warmed upto the movie as it’s on the brink of 50C in five days. Apart from an engaging script, it was also well made aided by the performance of two brilliant actors such as Ajay & Shukla. There is no doubt that the second half was kind of a letdown but still it’s worth a watch. So do check it out!!!

    Rating: 3.25/5

    Regards…Ben

    March 21, 18
  • Padman review: "Akki & Balki tackles a relevant social issue engagingly. Period!!!"

    Ever since GST was rolled out on Doctor’s day last year, it has received a lot of flak over the taxes imposed on various products. One such item of basic necessity happened to be the sanitary pads that was imposed a tax of 12% (marginally lower than the earlier 13.68%). In a country where only 12% of the women use pads, there needs to be more impetus on the part of every Govt in power to encourage menstrual hygiene & one such act will be to reconsider the tax on it.

    At the turn of the new millennium, Arunachalam Muruganantham, the social activist from Tamil Nadu decided to come up with an alternative for the costly sanitary pads. Incidentally, his life became the inspiration for R Balki’s latest movie “Padman”. Lakshmikant Chauhan (Akshay Kumar) is a mechanic by profession who had recently married to Gayathri (Radhika Apte). Despite having discontinued his education, he was a master innovator & used it to good effect with interesting creations of his own. When Lakshmi realises that his wife puts herself to risk with unhygienic menstrual practices, he decides to solve the problem by making a low cost sanitary pad. However, it was much easier than done as his pad didnt have the deserved quality. In time, his obsession to perfect his creation virtually ostracizes him from his family and village. But he stuck on to his mission with unwavering determination & how he eventually manages to make people who ridiculed him sing praises about him forms the crux of the movie.

    Based on “The Sanitary Man of Sacred Land” by Twinkle Khanna, it is inspired as mentioned earlier from Arunachalam’s life. R Balki’s credentials as a director is well established with movies like “Cheeni Kum”, “Paa” etc to his credit. There is no doubt that making a movie on a social issue is not an easy task for the simple reason that it could turn out to be rather preachy. However, Balki & Swanand Kirkire has made sure that they kept the mood light wherever necessary with interesting sequences peppered throughout. They keep us engaged with the events that unfold & it was well picturised by P C Sreeram. Even Chandan Arora’s BGM & music tracks were in sync with the mood of the movie & deserves praise.

    The success of any movie lies in the hands of the audience & there is precious little that the artists can do except make sure that they always try to bring some novelty in their roles. This is exactly what Akki has been doing since the past couple of years with some wise & intelligent choice of movies. In his latest outing, he is brilliant as the protagonist as it keeps us invested in it. He has been given excellent support by Radhika Apte, who continues to impress in whatever role she appears. Even Sonam Kapoor who kinda overacts in most instances was fantastic.

    Verdict: This was supposed to be on a collision course with “Padmaavat”, but Akshay’s magnanimity meant that it’s release was postponed by a fortnight. Anywaz the decision has done both the movies a lot of good as evidenced by the box office numbers. After promotion of “Swach Bharat Abhiyaan” through “Toilet:Ek Prem Katha”, Akki has given a subtle promotion to “Make in India” through this. Kudos to both Balki & Akki for tackling a social issue both engagingly & realistically. In short, it deserves to be watched!!!

    Rating: 3.75/5

    Regards…Ben

    February 11, 18
  • Padmaavat review: "Impressive tribute....so why have the Karni Sena gone bonkers ???"

    Last couple of months had seen violence unleashed in various parts of the country over the release of “Padmaavat”. So much so, it had to be postponed by a month & required the involvement of the Supreme Court to hit the screens. Even then there has been no dearth of atrocities with one incident being the stones pelted on a school bus in Gurugram. Incidentally, ever since the project was announced, it had run into rough weather with the Karni Sena who assumed (by their own figment of imagination) that Sanjay Leela’s depiction of Rani Padmini wasnt accorded the honour it deserved. So were their arguments valid ???

    The film unfolds in the 13th century where Jalaluddhin Khilji (Raza Murad) puts an end to the Mamluk dynasty& establishes himself as the first ruler of the Khilji dynasty. He was assisted in his endeavours by his nephew and son-in-law. Alauddin Khilji (Ranveer Singh). After Alauddin thwarts the Mongol invasion on the Delhi Sultanate & conducts an unsanctioned raid on Devagiri, his uncle rewards him with a slave Malik Kafur (Jim Sarbh). But Alauddin had his eyes on a bigger prize & kills his uncle to usurp the throne. In another part of the land, Maharawal Ratan Singh (Shahid Kapoor) married the Singala princess Padmavati (Deepika Padukone) & brought her to Mewar. The news of her beauty & intelligence, travelled far & wide and it also reached the ears of Alauddin. As he always craved for unique creations, he decided to acquire Rani Padmini by any means possible. But the Rajput valour & honour was something he had not fathomed.

    Based on the epic poem “Padmavat” written in the 16th century by the Sufi poet Malik Muhammad Jayasi, the story is a concoction of fact & fiction. Even the historical authenticity of the events mentioned in the poem itself cant be verified as Jayasi himself had mentioned that he had made up the story and related it.Whatever might be the case, Sanjay Leela Bhansali has made an excellent movie in terms of richness, elegance & sheer scale. But the plot as such is rather thin & the pace is sluggish at times. However, it still keeps us engrossed courtesy of Sanjay’s mastery over his craft & the build up as well as execution of jauhar in the climax deserves special praise.

    On the technical side, it is top notch in pretty much all the departments be it the visuals by Sudeep Chatterjee, costumes by Harpreet, Maxima, Chandrakant & Ajay or the art direction by Subrata Chakraborthy & Amit Ray. The BGM by Sanchit Balhara was in sync with the mood of the movie while the music tracks by Sanjay Leela were also decent. When it comes to performance, Ranveer Singh was brilliant as the flamboyant nasty no holds barred Khilji. Deepika Padukone has done an impressive job as well along with Shahid Kapoor. As for the rest, each & everyone of them have done justice to their roles.

    Verdict: Without a shadow of doubt, the film is a brilliant tribute to the valour & principles of the Rajput clan. I seriously fail to understand why Karni Sena is creating all this ruckus as the Rajputs & Rani Padmini are shown in the best way possible. Despite the restrictions, the film has fared decently at the box office & should continue to attract attention at the box office. In short, surely check it out!!!

    Rating: 3.5/5

    Regards…Ben

    January 28, 18
  • Tiger Zinda Hai review: "Salman roars to yet another blockbuster!!!"

    On the auspicious occasion of Xmas, I would like to wish each & everyone a peaceful & joyful festive season. Since there was hardly any movie that caught my eye in the past month, my blog was off the radar until this weekend. Being Xmas, a plethora of movies have released in all languages hoping to cash in on the extended weekend. The biggest release is undoubtedly from Khan, well it’s not Aamir (who invariably releases during this time) but rather Salman with “Tiger Zinda Hai”. It is the sequel to “Ek Tha Tiger” & Salman will be hoping that it will make amends for the abysmal “Tubelight”. Hmm…will the box-office go gaga???

    ISC was creating havoc in the Middle East under the leadership of Abu Usman (Sajjad Delfrooz) & all the nations were at a loss as to how to contain this terrorist organisation. ISC’s latest act of terrorism was to take 25 nurses (mostly Indian & Pakistani) as hostages & convert the Iqrit hospital in Iraq into their terrorist base. With negotiation virtually impossible with Abu, the US army decides to launch a drone attack on the hospital which would effectively decimate every living being in the vicinity. However, they agreed to hold off the attack for a week as the Indian Government through their RAW Chief Shenoy (Girish Karnad) had requested time to rescue the nurses. Since a mission of this magnitude had to be handled by the best, Shenoy gets in touch with his former agent Tiger (Salman Khan) who had vanished from the scene eight years back. Though Shenoy convinces Tiger to come out of retirement, will the latter be as ruthless as before especially with a family now ???

    Unlike the prequel, this is helmed by Ali Abbas Zafar who was last seen with “Sultan” which I personally consider as one of Salman’s finest performance. It is inspired from the actual hostage situation that had unfolded in 2014, which had earlier led to the brilliant “Take Off”. Being a Salman movie, you cant lament the fact that it belies logic after all “over the top” stuff is what he is known for. To be fair to Abbas, he has given what the audience expects with an all out action thriller. Though a shade too long, it remains true to being an action thriller with no unnecessary romantic scenes that impeded the pace in the prequel. The action sequences & Marcin’s visuals were awesome while Vishal Shekhar’s music was average.

    Tiger was a role that was tailor made for Salman with loads of action & ripping muscles. He has done utmost justice to the role & was given excellent support by Katrina who carried out her action sequences brilliantly as well. Sajjad was an apt choice as the antagonist which he performed impressively. There was a host of supporting artists as well such as Paresh Rawal, Kumud Mishra, Girish Karnad etc, all of whom have done their parts aptly.

    Verdict: Without a shadow of doubt, the audience will lap it up with glee making it yet another humongous blockbuster for Salman. It is a sure shot 250C at the box-office with the question being, how much will it eventually make. It’s an ideal choice for a bindaas time pass & if you know what to expect from a Salman movie, you can rest assured that you will be thoroughly entertained. So check it out for some high voltage action!!!

    Rating: 2.75/5

    Regards…Ben

    December 25, 17
  • Justice League review: "Despite clunky script & mediocre villain, it's still enjoyable!!!"

    Finally the eagerly awaited “Justice League”, the fifth installment in the DC Extended Universe is here. Just like millions of fans, I have been waiting to watch this ever since it was announced a couple of years back. However, I would have to admit that I was a touch concerned with the mixed reviews that I had come across. Anywaz I was really impressed with the trailer & that made me believe that Snyder will make amends for “Batman vs Superman”, which was horribly massacred on the editing board. So did the congregation of superheroes work for me???

    Time have passed since the death of Superman but the world still mourned for their beacon of hope. Even Bruce Wayne/Batman (Ben Affleck) didnt get over his guilt & kept a constant vigil to ensure that the planet was safe. He gets wind of an alien invasion when he happened to combat with a parademon & comes across mysterious pictorial depiction of three boxes in several places as well as in Lex Luthor’s journal. He reaches out to Diana Prince/Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) for help & comes to learn that those were “Mother Boxes” of power. Incidentally Steppenwolf & his army of parademons were in pursuit of them which were under the guardianship of Amazoneans, Atlanteans & humans. In order to thwart Steppenwolf’s evil designs, Batman & Wonder Woman decides to form a league & sets out to recruit metahumans. They bring in Arthur Curry/Aquaman (Jason Momoa), Barry Allen/Flash (Ezra Miller) & Victor Stone/Cyborg (Ray Fisher) into their team. But will they be able to stop Steppenwolf, who already had two boxes in his possession by the time they joined forces???

    As is evident for most of the people by now, the project is helmed by Zack Snyder who justifiably received a lot of flak for the “Batman vs Superman” debacle. Apart from calling the shots, he has also penned the script along with Academy Award winner Chris Terrio (for “Argo”). The plot as such lacks impact & way too many things are stuffed here which made it incohesive. Just as in the prequel, the mediocre editing is to blame for that as I presume the director’s cut will be much better. However, I felt the screenplay by Chris & Joss Whedon managed to improve the proceedings with some humorous sequences & team bonding. Since Snyder had to leave abruptly towards the end of production due to a personal tragedy, Joss was also in charge of the re-shoots (surprising considering he directed “Avengers”). Another major flaw was the choice of villain, which was neither intimidating nor threatening enough.

    In an movie like this, the overload of CGI is understandable but the quality wasnt quite upto the standard that we would have expected. As for the music by Danny Elfman, it left a lot to be desired. With regard to performances, Gal Gadot was awesome as ever (I might be biased) while Ezra Miller provides the light moments with his hilarious one liners. Jason Momoa rocked as the tattooed hunk with an attitude, Ray Fisher actually makes us empathize with his character while Ben Affleck was better. Henry Cavill was fine while Amy Adams & Diane Lane were completely wasted.

    Verdict: Despite the shortcomings, I personally enjoyed the movie & that is primarily due to the screenplay which brings a light mood to the proceedings when the team bonds. As of now, it has grossed close to $282M which is a decent figure though lower than BvS. However, if you ask me; in terms of entertainment, I would place it above BvS & lower than “Wonder Woman”. In short, it wont hurt to give it a try!!!

    Rating: 3/5

    Regards…Ben

    November 20, 17
  • Tumhari Sulu review: "Helloooo...Vidya delivers a smashing performance!!!"

    The much awaited weekend is finally here as “Justice League” have hit the screens to mixed reviews. Well I intend to watch it on Sunday & hopefully it will satiate my expectations. Anywaz another movie that had grabbed my attention was Vidya Balan’s “Tumhari Sulu”. Since she plays the protagonist, I didnt to have think twice as to whether I wanted to watch it or not. The trailer promised it to be a bindaas flick with oodles of laughter. So does it deliver what it promised???

    Sulochana aka Sulu (Vidya Balan) is a middle class housewife whose hallmark was her exuberance & confidence to take up any challenge. This was very much evident from the hoards of prizes that she had won from random competitions that she participated in. The latest prize that she had won was a pressure cooker from a radio station & as she went there to collect it, she happened to come across an ad calling for candidates who were interested to become a RJ. Despite having no prior experience, being the optimistic person that she is; she decides to give it a try. As always, her husband Ashok (Manav Kaul) was her pillar of support & urged her to pursue her ambitions. Her charismatic & “happy-go-lucky” nature lands her the job though it was a late night slot that she had to fill in. How she manages her job & household chores forms the crux of the movie.

    Scripted & directed by ad-man Suresh Triveni, the film gives us a slice of reality with the incidents that happens in the life of a middle class household. The best part was undoubtedly the husband-wife relationship, as both of them look out for each other & keeps their romance alive. It’s a feel good movie that doesnt delve too much into the problems that arise in Sulu’s life after she takes up the job. The tensions that her husband faces in his job & the problems that her son finds himself in at school, all of which affects the dynamics in their life. But Suresh has opted to wade over it & keeps the mood light throughout the whole 140 minutes. There are quite a few tracks in the movie that has been handled by many individuals, but my favourite was “Ban ja Rani” by Guru Randhawa. As for other technical aspects, all of them were aptly executed.

    Vidya is the heart & soul of the movie, & she has nailed her performance yet again. The way she expresses array of emotions with utmost ease makes her a delight to watch. Equally impressive was the performance of each & every artist irrespective of how brief their role was, as they have done utmost justice to their roles. Manav Kaul pleasantly surprised me with his act as I never thought he would be able to pull it off so effectively. Neha Dhupia continues to grab eyeballs whenever she is given a substantial role & hopefully more directors will cast her.

    Verdict: It might not a glitzy type of movie or one with mass heroes, but it is surely one that will entertain the audience. There is no doubt that it will have positive word of mouth in its favour & should be able to make decent collection at the box-office. In short, do check it out for Vidya & her exuberance!!!

    Rating: 3/5

    Regards…Ben

    November 18, 17
  • Qarib Qarib Singlle review: "Engaging rom-com showcased over a road trip!!!"

    Over the years we have had numerous Malayalam movies being remade in Hindi which has fared satisfactorily at the box-office. However, not many technicians from the Malayalam industry has been able to make a mark in Bollywood except for a few like Priyadarshan, Sabu Cyril etc. It’s even tougher for an artist to break into Bollywood, which is the reason why very few appear in more than a single movie. In recent times, Padmapriya appeared in “Chef” & this week we have Parvathy in Tanuja Chandra’s “Qarib Qarib Singlle” along with the dependable Irrfan Khan. To be frank, they did seem like an odd couple at first glance & it remains to be seen whether their combination will endear to the audience???

    Jaya (Parvathy) is a widow who has been single for quite a while that her friends tells her that she must have turned virgin. She was rather unsure as to whether she wanted to be in a relationship again but decided to give it a try courtesy through an online dating site. This led to her meeting up with Yogi (Irrfan Khan), a rather loud, instinctive, no holds barred type of character who considered himself a worthy Urdu poet. In simple words, their personalities were pretty much like chalk & cheese. As expected, Jaya wasnt keen to take it beyond their first meeting but Yogi’s charm & her urge to meet his exes whom he claimed still loved him, makes her embark on a journey with him. Little did they realise that it was a journey towards their self discovery.

    Tanuja Chandra is a well known director who has been off the radar for quite a while. However, mention of movies like “Dushman” & “Sangharsh” gives us ample proof about her capabilities. Her latest venture is about two charmingly different mature individuals finding each other in the premise of a road trip. Over the course of their trip from Hardwar to Jaipur & finally to Gangtok, we are hooked onto the manner in which their equation with each other changes. Kudos for that goes to the script by Tanuja’s mother. Kamna who has movies like “Chandni” ,”1942-A Love Story” etc to her credit. Equally impressive was the screenplay & dialogues by Ghazal Dhaliwal. With regard to other technical aspects, all of them were fine especially the music by Rochak Kohli & Vishal Mishra which was soothing to the ears & didnt impede the flow of the movie.

    As usual, Irrfan was brilliant as the loud Yogi coz in the hands of a lesser artist; it would have come across as rather artificial & superficial. This makes it really difficult for his co-star to match upto him, but Parvathy (whose acting credentials in Malayalam & Tamil speaks volumes about her) matched him step to step in pretty much all the sequences. As for the rest, they have done their parts aptly in their brief screen space they were allotted.

    Verdict: It is undoubtedly one of the finest rom-coms in recent times as the characters endears to the audience. An impressive script & odd looking couple enacted by brilliant performers, makes it a winner for ones who loves normal relatable movies. It is not a money spinning mass flick but you can rest assured you will be entertained. In short, do check it out!!!

    Rating: 3/5

    Regards…Ben

    November 13, 17
  • Thor: Ragnarok review: "Both the audience & producers will be in splits!!!"

    Just a fortnight more before the much awaited “Justice League” hits the screens, but before DC could make their move; Marvel has come out with the sequel of the “Thor” series. This is the 17th movie of the Marvel Cinematic Universe & as per the weekend collection reports, it has taken the box-office by storm. To be frank, I have been so engrossed in the build up towards “Justice League”, that the Marvel trailer didnt quite blow my socks off. However, when I checked it out; I have to admit it was indeed the most hilarious Marvel movie to date.

    A couple of years have passed since the battle of Sokovia & Thor (Chris Hemsworth) was imprisoned by the fire demon, Surtur in Asgard. The God of Thunder manages to escape from the clutches of Surtur, who claimed that Asgard will be destroyed in the prophesied Ragnarok when his crown was put into the Eternal Fire. Thor averts the impending doom (or so he believed) & goes in search of his father, Odin (Anthony Hopkins) along with his brother, Loki (Tom Hiddleston). Based on what Surtur had said & with the help of Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), they locate their father on Earth. It is then Odin reveals to his sons, that he is dying which in turn will lead to the rise of his daughter Hela (Cate Blanchett). She had fought shoulder to shoulder with him on various conquests but her evil designs made him imprison her. As he predicted, his demise releases Hela from prison & she lands in Asgard to claim the throne. Both Thor & Loki are forced to flee from there as their efforts to stop her proved futile & they end up on the planet Sakaar where the former gets imprisoned by the Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum). How Thor escapes from there & forms a team along the lines of Avengers, to rescue Asgard forms the crux of the story.

    As in the case of the prequels, the latest edition of “Thor” is directed by yet another individual, who happens to be Taika Waititi. The Kiwi is known for his horror comedy “What we do in the Shadows” (which I havent watched) & has brought that humorous streak to this venture. It turned out to be the USP of the movie as the screenplay by Eric Pearson was hilarious from the start to the end. The general mood of the movie was along the lines of “Deadpool” & it would be fair to say that it would totally entertain the audience. In terms of the plot, it’s pretty engaging though the highlight definitely is the interactions between the characters such as Thor, Hulk etc. All the technical aspects were top notch & each and every individual in charge deserves praise.

    Chris Hemsworth was awesome as he embraced the humour element with ease & gives a smashing performance. His partner in crime, Mark Ruffalo aced his part as Taika utilised him effectively by giving us ample exposure to both Banner & Hulk. Tom Hiddleston was rather underused, though in the opportunity provided he has done justice. Cate Blanchett was a natural for the role while Jeff Goldblum rocked as the Grandmaster. Among others, Tessa Thompson was fine while Taika’s portrayal of Korg was a scream.

    Verdict: There are no two words about it, except that it is an absolute entertainer. The plot as such might not seem too heavy. but when you have a screenplay as engaging; there isnt much to complain. In short, dont miss it!!!

    Rating: 4.25/5

    Regards…Ben

    November 07, 17
  • Ittefaq review: "Sluggish early on but finishes impressively!!!"

    November is here & this month boasts of some impressive movies lined up that I have been eagerly looking forward to for quite a while. Among them is “Ittefaq” which has hit the screens this weekend & has got Akshaye Khanna in the lead along with Siddharth Malhotra & Sonakshi Sinha. Interestingly, it is produced by SRK & Karan Johar among others; & from the looks of it, it seems like a stylized murder mystery. So will it do justice to the genre that it proclaims & give our money’s worth???

    The story unfolds on a rainy Mumbai night with the police hot on the heels of Vikram Sethi (Siddharth Malhotra), acclaimed writer based in Britain; for the suspected murder of his wife. He had flown down to Mumbai along with his wife for the launch of his second book, but before that event could materialize, his wife gets murdered in the hotel. Naturally Vikram was the prime suspect & that argument bore weight when he evade the polices. He eventually meets with an accident & seeks shelter in an upscale apartment which belonged to the lawyer, Shekhar & his wife, Maya (Sonakshi Sinha). Soon enough, the police tracks him down & discover Shekhar being murdered in the residence. The case was entrusted upon Inspector Dev Verma (Akshaye Khanna) & he had to solve both the murders in the span of three days. Even though, the initial circumstantial evidence painted Vikram to be the culprit; it wasnt exactly an open & shut case especially since both Vikram & Maya narrated different versions as to what transpired in the apartment. So were both the murders mere coincidence or was it connected???

    The project has been helmed by debutant Abhay Chopra, who as some of you guys might have suspected belongs to the famed Chopra lineage. So it’s quite natural for him to be influenced by his accomplished relatives which might be the reason why he had decided to remake Yash Chopra’s (uncle) “Ittefaq” (1969). The basic premise is the same except for a couple of changes that Abhay has incorporated in the screenplay. Even though it has a running time of just 107 minutes, the early part is rather sluggish as the script fails to impart the urgency. However, the latter half picks up the pace & culminates in a predictable yet thrilling climax. Michal Luka’s frames were exquisite while Nithin Baid’s editing could have been crisper.

    Akshaye Khanna was fantastic as the cop which he underplays it convincingly both in his body language & dialogue delivery. The same cant be said about the other two leads namely Siddharth & Sonakhi. The former looked rather unsure early on & lacked conviction, but from the second half onwards he was bang on in conveying his emotions. However, Sonakshi’s role didnt quite have any variations which meant it was a rather one dimensional performance that wont make the audience connect.

    Verdict: The genre & lack of huge stars, invariably means it will be a slow mover at the box office. Whatever it manages to garner will be solely based on whether the audience were hooked onto the murder mystery. Frankly speaking, it’s a movie that deserves praise for the effort it has gone into it as it will surely interest the audience for large parts. In short, give it a try!!!

    Rating: 2.75/5

    Regards…Ben

    November 04, 17
  • Secret Superstar review: "One of the finest portrayal of mother-daughter relationship!!!"

    Whenever we talk about Aamir Khan movies, we invariably associate it to be a creation that breeds quality. This is exactly the reason why his movies which appears once in a couple of years are received with much fanfare & expectations across the globe. His last release was “Dangal” which smashed all Bollywood box office collection records. However, his latest release “Secret Superstar” which is bank rolled by his production house has him in a supporting role. The trailer & the music has been impressive and with Aamir involved in the project the expectations are nigh high.

    Insia Malik (Zaira Wasim) is a 10th grade student with a passion for music who resided in Vadodara with her family. She dreamt of becoming a singer & with the talent that she possessed it wasnt a dream that was impossible to achieve. With a loving mother, Najma (Meher Vij) who constantly encouraged her & a doting younger brother, it felt like she had the freedom to pursue her dreams. But it was easier said than done, especially with an abusive father who lost his temper at the smallest of reasons & inflicted physical torture on his wife. Since her father detested her musical leanings, she decides to upload her music videos on Youtube under the name “Secret Superstar” as she was clad in a burqa so that her identity remained unknown. In due time, her videos became viral & she received offers from the music industry to become a playback singer. But will she have the courage to reveal her identity lest her father knows about it???

    This is the directorial debut of Advait Chandan after having served assistant for projects like “Dhobi Ghat” etc. He had taken on the responsibility of penning the script as well which focused on the bond between mother & daughter against the backdrop of dreams & domestic abuse. Despite the presence of a huge star like Aamir Khan, the director made sure that the focus is on Zaira & how along with Meher they tide over the challenges in their lives. Almost all the tracks by Amit Trivedi was in sync with the proceedings & didnt seem like a sore thumb at any point, with “Nachdi Phira” rendered by Meghna Mishra being my personal favourite. Equally praise worthy were the lyrics by Kausar Munir while Anil Mehta’s visuals were fine as well.

    Both Meher Vij & Zaira Wasim were equally brilliant & it would be hard to choose between the two. They have done utmost justice to their roles as their performance endears to our heart. They were adequately supported by Raj Arjun as Insia’s father while Tirth Sharma (as Chintan) & Kabir Sajid (as Guddu) were excellent. Last but not the least, what do I say about Aamir Khan??? This guy is an absolute legend & brings his A-game whatever might be the role that he takes up. He was fantastic as Shakti Kumar, the arrogant lecherous conceited yet harmless music director with a heart of gold.

    Verdict: This is undoubtedly one of the finest movies that had been picturised on the bond shared between a mother & daughter. It might not take the box-office by storm as it is not a flashy entertainer. The protagonist’s path towards stardom might seem a tad too easy but you can rest assured that the screenplay will moisten your eyes & also bring a smile to your lips. In short dont miss it!!!

    Rating: 3.75/5

    Regards…Ben

    October 22, 17