• "Rajamouli delivers what he promised!!!"

    April 28th, 2017; the date that all movie lovers have been waiting for is finally here. I dont think I need to elaborate about it since it is common knowledge that it is the release date of “Baahubali 2: The Conclusion”. There has never been any Indian movie that has garnered as much pre-release hype as Rajamouli’s magnum opus. It’s a known fact that living upto expectations is no mean task & Rajamouli and his team had gargantuan expectations stacked up against them. So did they manage to scale those lofty heights???

    So why did Katappa (Satyaraj) kill Baahubali (Prabhas)??? a question that has been asked a million times & gave birth to numerous memes . Well we have the answer now but dont worry guys, I am not going to post any spoilers here. The sequel begins with Sivagami (Ramya Krishnan) instructing Baahubali to tour the kingdom to know his subjects prior to his coronation with Katappa for company. In the meantime, she was also on the lookout for a suitable bride for him but Baahubali during his journey fell for Devasena (Anushka Shetty), the princess of the Kuntala kingdom. Bhallala Deva (Rana Daggubati) saw this as an opportunity to create a fall-out between his mother & cousin. But what was his actual plan & did it actually work out???

    Rajamouli, the master craftsman is back with a bang & he has gone all out to create a movie that gives us a measure of his imagination. The extravagant scale in which it is made will surely make one to gasp in awe. The biggest plus for most parts is the well etched characters especially the females who actually decides in which track the story moves forward. The emotional sequences are undoubtedly the best & the stunt choreography is awesome (it might appear outlandish at times, but I loved it). However, the first 40 minutes could have been much more compactly picturised with the comedy track not quite hitting the mark at times & the climax was rather hurried (maybe Rajamouli didnt want to make a 2.5).

    On the technical side, the VFX was excellent for most parts but some portions didnt quite have the perfection expected. Senthil Kumar deserves praise for the mesmerizing visuals while Sabu Cyril & his team have done a mind boggling in the art direction department. M.M Keeravani has done a decent job with the music though BGM was damn good.

    What do I say about Prabhas? I havent seen any of his movies prior to the Baahubali series but frankly speaking, I cant think of anyone who could have done that character any better. Hats off to his dedication & the same applies to Rana Daggubati as well. Satyaraj scorched the screen with a brilliant performance while Nasser & Subbaraju have done justice to their roles. However, the show stealers for me were Ramya Krishnan & Anushka, both of whom have given knock out performances with the meaty role that they were entrusted with.

    Verdict: As expected, it has broken all the opening records & became the first Indian movie to collect more than 100 C on a single day. It was made on a combined budget of around 300 C & had collected more than 500 C even prior to its release through sales of its rights etc. It might be early to predict, but I believe it will be the first Indian film to gross 1000 C at the box office. In short, you definitely got to watch it & be a part of Indian film history!!!

    Rating: 4/5

    Regards…Ben

    April 29, 17
  • "Definitely not the noor of the audience!!!"

    With just a week left for “Baahubali: The Conclusion” to hit the screens, there are no other major releases in the horizon. Well it’s quite understandable after all this mammoth movie will certainly swallow anything in its path in the initial phase. However, we did have women centric movies take centre stage amidst this lull with “Begum Jaan” last week & Sonakshi’s “Noor” this weekend. To be frank, I didnt even know that such a movie was even going to release & hence had no expectations at all. Hmm…in such a scenario it should be easier to satisfy the audience in me isnt it, but did it mange to do that???

    Noor (Sonakshi Sinha) is a journalist who aspires to be the next “Barkha” but her boss assigns her to cover news on subjects which is nowhere even remotely related to meaningful journalism. Her personal life was also a mess & she spent most parts of the day cribbing about her very existence. The only people who brought a smile to her face were her close buddies, Zara (Shibani Dandekar) & Saad (Kanan Gill). But things started to look brighter when she meets Ayan Banerjee (Purab Kohli), an ace photographer & they hit off in due time. On the professional side as well, she stumbles upon an organ harvesting scam when her domestic help, Malti (Smita Tambi) confides in her about the misfortune that had befallen on her brother. Will this story be the break that Noor was waiting for???

    Based on Saba Imtiaz’s “Karachi, You are Killing me!” (which I haven’t read), Sunhil Sippy have made a movie which is a concoction of rom-com & investigative journalism. But the sad reality is he wasn’t able to do justice to either of them especially the latter one. The manner in which the protagonist goes about her job would have even made an amateur journalist cringe in embarrassment. Even when Noor messes up stuff, instead of standing up & sorting it out, Sunhil chose to make the character run away from it. The only thing that actually works (that too, partially) is the rom-com part which kinda reminded me of “Bridget Jones’s Diary”.

    On the technical side, Keiko Nakahara’s visuals were fine while the music by Amaal Mallik was average. Even though the movie is just under 2 hours, it still manages to test our patience. Sonakshi has done a fine job in the lighthearted portions but ends up short in the other parts. Smita Tambe was brilliant while Shibani, Purab & Kanan have done justice to their parts.

    Verdict: “Noor” will struggle to stay afloat beyond this weekend even though there is no other competition. Sunhil could have surely done a lot better with the basic story line that he had, unfortunately it wasn’t the case as it culminates in a muddled climax as well. In short, don’t bother!!!

    Rating: 2/5

    Regards…Ben

    April 23, 17
  • "Falls well short of expectations!!!"

    Whenever we talk about Hindi espionage movies, one of the first few films that comes to my mind is Neeraj Pandey’s “Baby”. So when it was announced that Neeraj Pandey is planning a spin off prequel titled “Naam Shabana”, I was pretty excited. The trailer further heightened the expectations as it showed Prithvi as the antagonist & Akki in a cameo, not to forget about Taapsee who kicked some serious ass. So it now remains to be seen whether it was able to live upto expectations & deliver what it promised???

    For those who have seen “Baby”, it’s unlikely that you would have forgotten special agent Shabana Khan (Taapsee Pannu) who rocked the screen in a brief role. In “Naam Shabana”, it shows as to how she was recruited into the intelligence agency. Shabana was a martial arts student who had a dark past due to which she used to confide only in her mother. When her friend, Jay (Taher Shabbir) expresses his love for her; things started to brighten up in her life until Jay meets with his death in an eve-teasing incident. At this juncture, she gets an offer from the agency that they would help her avenge Jay’s death if she agrees to join them. Shabana accepts their offer but was she really upto the challenge???

    Shivam Nair has called the shots & since I havent seen any of his previous movies, I dont have any reference as to how good he is as a story teller. However, since it is Neeraj Pandey’s production I had huge expectations especially since he was handling the script & screenplay. Without mincing words, I would have to admit that it was nowhere in the league of “A Wednesday”, “Special 26” or “Baby”. The film invests an enormous amount of time on the backstory which was far from engaging & if one expects that things will get better when the mission starts, then they are grossly mistaken. The plot is wafer thin & apart from a couple of sequences, it lacks logic and finesse with the hasty predictable climax being the prime example for it.

    One of the highlights of the movie are the action sequences which were choreographed by noted French stuntman Cyril Raffaeli. Even Sudheer Palsane deserves praise for the long shot visuals while the music was pretty mediocre. Taapsee has performed admirably as the protagonist in the action sequences though in the other segments, she comes across as rather bland. Even though Prithvi is the villain, it was more like a cameo & he gets wasted in a role which lacked substance. Akshay rocks in his brief role (included keeping the box office in mind) while Manoj Bajpayee is barely allowed to do anything significant apart from talk on the phone & keep looking on the screen.

    Verdict: Since female centric action movies are quite rare in our country, it is unique in that sense. But however on saying that, more often than not Akshay’s character seemed to take centre stage as the protector, rather the backup that he is projected to be. It should be able to collect a reasonable initial but once that is over, it will struggle to remain relevant. In short, keep yourself occupied watching the finals between Federer-Nadal at the Miami Masters & Sindhu-Marin at the India Open, rather than investing time for this!!!

    Rating: 2.25/5

    Regards…Ben

    April 01, 17
  • "Desi ghost in a movie with a videshi feel!!!"

    It’s been a while since I had written the review for a movie & it had more to do with the dearth of movies which tempted me to watch. I did watch “Commando 2” & didn’t feel it was worth the time to write something about. With the summer holidays fast approaching, there are a host of movies lined up for the next couple of weeks. This weekend we have Anushka Sharma’s “Phillauri” hitting the screens & from the trailer, it looks pretty promising. Hopefully she wont be hurt by mediocre box office returns just like Kohli who had to retire hurt from the last match of the Ind-Aus series.

    The film unfolds with Kanan (Suraj Sharma) flying down from Canada to Amritsar to marry his childhood sweetheart, Anu (Mehreen Pirzada). He didn’t seem quite enthusiastic about it as he felt that they were rushing into wedlock, much to the dismay of Anu. Both their families were however moving ahead with the arrangements & one of them involved getting Kanan married to a tree to ward off the ill luck which might befall on them in future. It so happened that the tree had the spirit of Sashi (Anushka Sharma) & the ritual carried out meant he was married to her. Incidentally, he was the only one who could see her & as expected, it proves to be the trigger of mayhem. So how was Kanan going to get himself freed from Sashi or was it a figment of his imagination borne out of his weed puffing habits???

    This is Anushka Sharma’s second production after “NH10” & she has given the reins of the movie to the debutant director, Anshai Lal. It has been scripted by Anvita Dutt, the thread of which is kinda novel though there is a feel of Hollywood about it towards the climax. Unlike most movies, the first half is its weak point since apart from the initial laughs, hardly anything happens though it did have the scope for it, The second half is interesting when it focuses on the pre-independence love story & just like Imtiaz Ali’s “Love Aaj Kal”, this segment endears to the audience & I personally loved the climax (even though it was stretched a bit too much). The main drawback of the movie is its length as the subject as such wasnt explored adequately & it lacked substance.

    On the technical side, the CGI was done well, Sameer Uddin’s BGM was impressive while Shashwat Sachdev & Jasleen Royal’s music was in sync with the mood of the movie. Anushka Sharma has done a fine job along with Diljit Dosanjh, who impressed in the intense scenes. Suraj Sharma (of “Life of Pi” fame) was just about adequate while Mehreen Pirzada seemed apt for the role.

    Verdict: The film is unlikely to make such of an impact at the box office as it will cater only to the multiplex audience. But since the production cost is just 21C, it should be able to break even in a week or so. So would I suggest to watch it??? well I would if you are in a mood for a Hindi movie; but if you are in Kerala watch “Take Off” first before even thinking of anything else!!!

    Rating: 2.5/5

    Regards…Ben

    March 27, 17
  • "Bleedy hell, it's well made though the story pales in comparison!!!"

    The curtains have come down on the 89th Academy Awards & it did have it’s share of controversies that everyone would be aware of by now. More often than not, Oscars always featured some World War dramas & this year was no different with Mel Gibson’s “Hacksaw Ridge”. Over the years, Hollywood has come up with numerous WWII movies but it happened to be one event in history that our film makers barely explored even though our troops played a significant part in it. Incidentally, this week we had Vishal Bhardwaj’s “Rangoon” which is set during that period & the trailer looked really impressive. So is it one of Vishal’s masterpieces???

    The Second World Flow was in full swing as the English played an active role in it through their British Indian Army. At the same time, India made strong strides towards Independence under the leadership of Gandhiji with his principle of non-violence. However, Subash Chandra Bose wasn’t convinced with Gandhiji’s strategy & formed the Indian National Army (INA) with the help of the Japanese. Their combined forces made constant inroads in the Indo-Burma border & many Indian soldiers of British Indian Army were taken as PoW which included Jemadar Nawab Malik (Shahid Kapoor), who subsequently managed to escape. Elsewhere in the country, Julia (Kangana Ranaut) was the numero uno female movie star known for her breath taking daredevilry on screen. She worked for Billimoria’s production house & was in an affair with Rusi Billimoria (Saif Ali Khan) who ran the show. In order to lift the spirits of the forces in the war zone, Major General David Harding (Richard McCabe) coaxes Julia & Rusi to make the trip assuring them of top notch security with Nawab Malik as her personal security. But as one would expect, anything can go wrong in a war zone & that’s exactly what happened.

    Vishal Bharadwaj’s credentials as a film maker is well established with premier movies like “Maqbool”, “Omkara”, “Haider” etc. which showcased a myriad of emotions. In his latest venture as well, there is no dearth of emotions all of which is encompassed within a love story against the backdrop of freedom struggle which he has scripted in the company of Matthew Robbins & Sabrina Dhawan. The war zone has been picturized realistically & the frames looked authentic in terms of art direction and costumes. The main flaw with the movie is the inability to marry the romance with the war backdrop & that would prove to be a deterrent for many in the audience. With regard to the climax, it was hurried, a bit over the top & the CGI used was pretty mediocre. On the technical side, Pankaj Kumar’s visuals were fantastic while the combo of Vishal & Gulzar in the music department was excellent. However, Aalaap Majgavkar ought to have done a much better job with the editing.

    Kangana absolutely rocked as Julia, whose character was undoubtedly modeled after the yester year stunt queen “Fearless Nadia”. She was given a role of substance & she has done justice to it. Equally impressive were her co-stars though Shahid had more screen space. Saif Ali was an apt choice as the suave film maker but he isnt provided as much opportunity as he was given in “Omkara”. Richard McCabe has done a decent job as the cunning English General while the rest of the cast were adequate as well.

    Verdict: Though the trailer was brilliant & movie was exquisitely made, it still falls short of expectations as the story is rather weak. Another major drawback is the clima which turned out to be rather too melodramatic & over the top. In short, it is likely to struggle at the box office but I would still suggest to check it out!!!

    Rating: 3/5

    Regards…Ben

    February 28, 17
  • "Captivates the audience!!!"

    Ever since partition, our nation have constantly seen unrest at its borders as Pakistan never lost an opportunity to needle us. This has led to four fledged battles with them in 1947, 1965, 1971 & 1999; & even though we faced serious casualties, our brave soldiers ensured that we could still feel safe within our country.

    The war of 1971 was unique in the sense that it wasn’t fought over the Kashmir issue but due to the differences between East & West Pakistan, which eventually led to the formation of Bangladesh. One of the contributing factors for India being part of that war was the sinking of Pakistani submarine, PNS Ghazi off the east coast by INS Rajput. So this week we have Sankalp Reddy’s “The Ghazi Attack” hitting the screens which is inspired from that event & hopefully it will be able to give us a gripping account as to what must have happened on that day.

    The year is 1971 & India was keeping a close watch on Pakistan who was flexing their muscles on its brothers in East Pakistan, who was fighting for liberation. In order to send supplies to its forces, Pakistan decides to use the sea route but in order to do so they had to negate the threat posted by INS Vikrant. The task is entrusted to Commander Razaq (Rahul Singh) & his crew of PNS Ghazi. Indian Intelligence gets wind of it & the Eastern Naval Command at Vishakhapatnam assign S21 under the leadership of Captain Rannvijay Singh to patrol the region. As Rannvijay is known for his impulsive, hot headed nature, Lt Commander Arjun Varma (Rana Daggubati) is also accorded equal responsibilities to ensure orders are followed as per the book. This naturally causes sparks to fly between the two as Executive Officer, Devraj (Atul Kulkarni) plays peace broker. In due time, S21 locates Ghazi but how they went about their task with two contrast characters at the helm forms the crux of the movie.

    Scripted & directed by debutant Sankalp Reddy, “The Ghazi Attack” is the first submarine war movie that has been made in our country. With regard to the story, it was mentioned in the credits itself that it is a fictional creation of an incident that has been shrouded by mystery. Whatever might be the case, the story is brilliantly conveyed & executed as well. The tension is palpable & provides an edge of the seat experience for the audience in majority of the sequences in the second half. Though I found the patriotic fervour a bit too overpowering & artificial in the end, it had all the other emotions in apt measure & the director made sure that he didnt squeeze in any romantic angle or song-dance sequence into the proceedings. The interiors of the submarine were well depicted but the special effects & Madhi’s visuals could have been better.

    Rana Daggubati has acted in a mature & restrained manner which was apt for the character. Kay Kay Menon was excellent as the impulsive Captain who didnt care a shit about orders. Atul Kulkarni also deserves praise for a convincing performance while the rest of the cast seemed adequate. The reason for including Taapsee defies logic as she had nothing to do apart from look shell shocked in the doorways.

    Verdict: Having seen movies like “Crimson Tide”, “K21”, etc, this one would feel amateurish at times, but it is absolutely unfair to make such a comparison due to the disparity in production costs. However, on saying that Sankalp succeeds in making a movie which is both engrossing & interesting. It might not take the box-office by storm but it’s definitely worth checking out. In short, dont miss it!!!

    Rating: 3/5

    Regards…Ben

    February 19, 17
  • "Jolly good time for the producers!!!"

    Bollywood got off to a good start this year as “Raees” racked in the moolah to continue the money spinning spree started by “Dangal”. In the words of Annu Kapoor, this month we have “the most most saleable, commercially viable superstar” Akshay Kumar coming out with his first release of the year “Jolly LLB 2”. It is the sequel of the 2013 sleeper hit, “Jolly LLB” & Fox Studios would be hoping that this would perform better than its predecessor. So will it be able to satiate the audience like the prequel???

    Jagdishwar Mishra aka Jolly (Akki) is a struggling lawyer who does manage to make ends meet with his street smart nature taking up petty cases & other endeavours. However, his desire to make it big in his profession didnt find the support of his boss, a reputed lawyer Rizvi (Ram Gopal Bajaj) for whom Jolly’s father had also worked as a munshi. His desire to secure a chamber for himself makes him lie to Hina Siddiqui (Sayani Gupta), a pregnant lady who have been trying to convince Jolly’s boss to take up her case. He convinces her that his boss had entrusted him with the responsibility & collects the fees for it. But she soon realises that she had been fooled & commits suicide, which wakens the conscience in Jolly. Can he bring justice to her husband who was murdered in a fake encounter masterminded by Inspector Suryaveer Singh (Kumud Mishra)???

    It’s been a couple of years since Subhash Kapoor made his presence felt who has impressive movies like “Phas Gaya Re Obama” & “Jolly LLB” to his credit. As in the case of most of his other movies, he has donned multiple caps here as well with the script & screenplay also of his creation. The dialogues were humorous & ironic which was interspersed with unpleasant hard hitting facts. Just as in the prequel, the court scenes were interesting & hilarious but there were portions which lagged due to inconsistencies in the script & unnecessary placement of songs . On the brighter side, the subtle detailing given to Jolly’s wife (though she doesnt have much to do), the Kashmir politics, fake encounters etc deserves praise. Kamal Jeet’s visuals were fine along with the art direction. But the music was mediocre while Chandrashekhar’s editing could have been sharper.

    It must have been Akki’s movie, but the one that actually steals the show is Saurabh Shukla who was brilliant as the Judge. Akshay was fantastic & essays the protagonist convincingly making sure that the character is grounded without a starry air to it. Annu Kapoor is also in fine form while Kumud Mishra didnt have much scope to perform. The same applies to the female leads as well such as Huma Qureshi & Sayani Gupta.

    Verdict: It was completed in just over a month which is quite unheard of as far as Bollywood movies of superstars are concerned. Since it was made on a budget of just 30 C, it should make bumper returns & the initial box office reports also seems to be pointing towards that. It might not be exactly top notch but inspite of that it has adequate substance to entertain the audience. In short, check it out!!!

    Rating; 2.75/5

    Regards…Ben

    February 12, 17
  • "SRK's time at the box office shuru!!!"

    January is almost over & we have the first major releases of the year in “Raees” & “Kaabil” on the eve of the 68th Republic day. Since I was busy with my work commitments, I thought to watch them over the weekend after all both the trailers seemed to give the impression that it was worth watching. With the FEDAL match set to commence in less than 6 h, I decided to first check out SRK’s “Raees” which has been in the news for quite some time be it for the Pakistani actress or the clashing of the movie with “Kaabil” which was frowned down upon by Rakesh Roshan. Anywaz it has hit the screens now & it remains to be seen whether it will be able to challenge the undisputed run of “Dangal”???

    The film unfolds in Fatehpura in the 70s where Raees (Shubham Chintamani) his buddy, Sadiq (Shubham Tukaram) in their school years also doubled up as carriers for the local bootlegger. They later on join the gang of Jairaj (Atul Kulkarni), who was the kingpin in this business. With time, Raees (SRK) in Jairaj’s words due to his “baniya ka dimag aur Miya bhai ka daring” becomes the trusted lieutenant of his boss. But Raees’s dream to set up his own empire makes him loggerheads with Jairaj & Co. All their efforts to stop Raees fails, but a bigger threat for all of them was Jaideep Majmudar (Nawazuddin Siddiqui), an honest police officer who was hell bent to wipe out the illicit alcohol business in Gujarat. Will Jaideep prove to be nemesis of Raees???

    Rahul Dholakia’s credentials as a director needs no introduction as he was awarded the National award for “Parzania” in 2002 which was based on the Gujarat communal riots. His previous outing “Lamhaa” didnt make much stir at the box office; there are huge expectations from “Raees” after all it is a SRK movie. Even though Rahul & his team who had penned the script claim the characters to be fictional, there is no doubt that the protagonist is inspired from Abdul Latif, the king of illegal alcohol business in Gujarat. The first half is absorbing as SRK rocks the screen with his negative character shades. However post-interval, the character is mellowed down & made to play to the galleries showcasing him as a gangster with a heart of gold.

    In the technical department, there were some fantastic dialogues while K U Mohanan visuals deserve praise. The VFX effects weren’t exactly top notch & the action sequences could have been choreographed better. Ram Sampath’s music was ok with “Zaalima” rendered by Arijit Singh & Harshdeep Kaur being the stand out one while Deepa Bhatia ought to have done a better job with the editing in the latter half.

    Shahrukh rocked as the protagonist & carries the movie with his charisma whenever the screenplay faltered. His scenes with Nawazuddin were the best ones in the movie & the latter was brilliant as the police officer. Mahira Khan has done a very average job & her chemistry with SRK wasnt upto the mark. It was a role which could have been much better performed by any of our leading Bollywood ladies. Zeeshan Ayyub has done justice to his role while Narendra Jha & Atul Kulkarni were fine as well.

    Verdict: “Raees” is creating waves at the box office as expected as it has collected close to 60C in the domestic market in just 3 days. It’s been a while since SRK had a blockbuster & from the looks of it, this is likely to do just that. There is no doubt that the fans will love the movie while the rest can be assured that it is worth a one time watch provided you dont expect anything out of the ordinary, In short, you can give it a try!!!

    Rating: 2.5/5

    Regards…Ben

    January 29, 17
  • "Mr. Perfectionist & his on-screen daughters nails this excellent sports drama!!!"

    Christmas eve is upon us & what better way to celebrate it than being with our loved ones. As it is the season of giving, let each one of us do our bit to spread the message of love & brotherhood. Apart from the customary X’mas goodies, namely cakes, wine & spicy non-vegetarian dishes (started salivating??? well I did); it’s bonanza time for movie buffs as all film industries will have some major release or the other. The biggest release this year is undoubtedly, Aamir Khan’s “Dangal”, whose trailer was fantastic which has taken the expectations through the roof. So will Aamir who usually turns up as Santa bring smiles to the audience & makers alike with yet another blockbuster???

    An Aamir Khan movie is a huge occasion in itself due to his sporadic releases which always lives upto expectations. Due to this, the media scrutiny is immense courtesy of which many of you would already be having an idea that this movie is the biographical depiction of former National wrestling Champion Mahavir Singh Phogat (Aamir Khan) who trained both his daughters, Geeta (Fatima Sana (older) & Zaira Wasim) & Babita (Sanya Malhotra (older) & Suhani Bhatnagar) to become Commonwealth Champions. Mahavir had to give up wrestling in his prime to support his family but always harboured hopes that he would live his dream through his unborn son. But as fate would have it, he was blessed with only daughters. As wrestling was predominantly a male dominated sport, Mahavir presumed his dream would remain a dream until he decides to train his daughters. How Mahavir makes his dream into reality against all odds forms the crux of the movie. It was much tougher than one could expect since the mindset of the Haryanvi community which has one of the worst child sex ratios is that the girl child is not entitled to do anything apart from household chores.

    The idea to this story came from Divya Rao who was part of Disney’s creative team & which was then subsequently properly fleshed out by Nitesh Tiwari, Piyush Gupta, Shreyas Jain & Nikhil Mehrotra. Nitesh Tiwari was given the responsibility of direction, which happened to be his third venture after “Chillar Party” & “Bhoothnath Returns”. The screenplay is brilliant which was equally well picturised by Nitesh as it keeps the audience hooked to the movie. The first half is top notch as it is a proper concoction of humour, emotions, action & drama. Even the latter half is good though mid way through it gets a tad too repetitive with the wrestling sequences but the gripping conflict between father-daughter & goosebump evoking climax more than makes up for the lag.

    All the wrestling matches were brilliantly choreographed by Kripashankar Bishnoi & even people who had no idea about this sport would be adequately educated by the time they finish watching. So much so, I wont be surprised if more people would be interested to follow this sport the next time it is shown on TV. Pritam’s BGM has helped the movie immensely & even his music was in sync with the mood especially the title track rendered by Daler Mehendi which will become a rage & the “Haanikarak Baapu” song. Sethu Sriram has done a fine job with the visuals while Ballu Saluja’s editing was crisp.

    Even before I talk about Aamir Khan, I feel it is only right that I mention about the girls who were absolutely brilliant. Each one of them have done their parts exceptionally with Zaira Wasim (younger Geeta) being my personal favourite. It’s hard to believe that it is the debut venture of all of them & each one of them apart from their acting have done their wrestling sequences unbelievably well. Since it is more focused on Fathima Sana, she deserves a special mention. Now what do I say about Aamir? he knows how to choose scripts & once he takes up a project, he gives his 100% to the role which is there for all to see. His physical transformation for the movie was awe evoking & the way he has enacted his part as a middle aged father was fantastic, taking care that he didnt overshadow the others & kept his stardom in check. Kudos to Nitesh & Aamir for that. Sakshi Talwar was a surprising choice as Aamir’s wife but she proved as to why she is a much sought after artist in the silver screen. She might not have much dialogues as her expressions conveys volumes. Aparshakti Khurana & Ritvik Sahore both of whom essayed the role of Mahavir’s nephew also deserves special mention as he provides the comic relief to the movie.

    Verdict: The movie will take the box-office by storm & will break all records set by “Sultan”. Frankly speaking, I feel this is one of Aamir’s best performance to date if not the very best. Actually, it might seem like a tall ask but I have a feeling that it will usurp “PK” as the biggest blockbuster of all time. In short, it has all the ingredients that one could ask for & though I might sound a bit biased being a sports drama; I would suggest that you guys got to definitely watch it!!!

    Rating: 4.5/5

    Regards…Ben

    December 24, 16
  • "Audience needs to fekir if they want to spent time on this!!!"

    If one takes up the list of the biggest blockbusters in Bollywood, then one name which will figure prominently in the top is “Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge”. So much so, it is still running in Maratha Mandir for close to 1100 weeks. Now the man behind this timeless romance saga which established SRK as the King of Romance is Aditya Chopra. The reclusive director & chairman of Yash Raj films, have done just 3 films in the past two decades, all of which had raked in the moolah. So when Adi announced his latest venture “Befikre”, the expectations were pretty high which seemed justified after all the songs & trailers had captured innumerable number of eyeballs. So can Adi be befekir as to whether this matches his previous releases???

    Dharam (Ranver Singh) is a quintessential Delhi guy who had moved over to Paris to work in his buddy’s club as a stand up comedian. He meets up with Shyra (Vani Kapoor), who was brought up in France after her parents had migrated into the country as chefs. The duo hit off famously with their no holds barred attitude as neither of them were keen on a commitment. In due time, they break up but continued to remain friends which is when they started to realize the importance of the other. Though both of them get into other relationships, it didnt quite have the same vibe that the two shared. But will they risk getting back together & if so, is it possible???

    Aditya’s credentials as a film maker is well documented, so I guess there is no point in harping about it. But the question is, was he able to regain his touch after such a long hiatus??? The answer is an emphatic No, as his script neither offers anything new that we haven’t seen nor does the treatment engrosses us. It seemed like the mish mash of several movies that we had seen over the years & true to Yash Raj movies, it is shot in beautiful locales with the characters making constant references to their desi roots, All the technical aspects deserves browny points be it the visuals which were exquisite thanks to Kaname Onoyama or the smashing choreography by Vaibhavi Merchant. Vishal Shekhar’s music was foot thumping stuff along with Mikey McCleary’s BGM which was in sync with the mood of the movie.

    In one of the recent interviews, Adi had mentioned that he had written the script keeping Ranveer in mind & wouldnt have made the movie if the latter had refused. Anywaz I have to admit that Ranveer was an apt choice for the character as his unbridled energy & crazy attitude which even goes to the extent of showing his bare ass, carries the movie inspite of the weak script. Vani Kapoor who was last seen on the big screen more than four years back in “Shhudh Desi Romance” was full of spunk & fire. However even though the two indulge in a kissing spree & makes out with gay abandon, they just didnt have any smoking chemistry between them. As for the rest of the cast, though they didnt have much to do all of them have done a decent job.

    Verdict: The catchy trailer & brand value of Adi, will ensure a commendable opening in the multiplex. But with the script so mediocre & hardly anything happening, apart from the innumerable kisses, the number of footfalls will drastically decrease in the coming days. In short, watch the thrilling Mumbai Test match befikre but not this movie!!!

    Rating: 1.75/5

    Regards…Ben

    December 11, 16
  • "Kahaani is bogged down by expectations & predictability!!!"

    Seems like the season of sequels hasn’t ended as we had yet another one hitting the screens this weekend. Incidentally, it happened to be “Kahaani 2”, the prequel of which had impressed both the critics & audience alike. Apart from a couple of guest appearances, it’s been more than a year since Vidya Balan had graced the screens & since she will be playing the protagonist again, the expectations are sky high. So will the sequel be able to rise above or atleast equal the benchmark set by “Kahaani”???

    As in the prequel, the story unfolds in Kolkata where Vidya Sinha (Vidya Balan) is a single parent to her handicapped daughter, Mini (Tunisha Sharma). Life moved along peacefully for the two, until Mini gets kidnapped & Vidya frantically goes in search of her after a call from the kidnapper. However, she meets with an accident & slips into a coma. Sub Inspector Indrajeet Singh (Arjun Rampal) is called in to investigate the case & is stumped by the fact that she looks like Durga Rani, a wanted criminal. So was it the same person or a dopple ganger & will Vidya wake up from her coma before it is too late???

    Sujoy Ghosh who had thrilled the audience four years back with “Kahaani” is back on the director’s seat for the sequel. In between he had directed the Radhika Apte starrer “Ahalya”, a short film which had wowed the audience with its thrilling script. In his latest venture as well, he has penned the script which takes up the disturbingly relevant topic of “child abuse”, that very few Bollywood movies has explored. Armed with a credible thread, Sujoy executes the first half of the movie excellently as it captures the attention of the audience & steadily builds towards an even more riveting latter half. Unfortunately that’s not what happens as the central theme gets sidelined & the movie culminates towards a predictable climax. The emotional trauma that the victim(s) goes through is barely touched upon & it is eventually turned into an attempt by Vidya to save her daughter in a rather passive manner unlike the prequel where she takes it upon herself to wreck havoc on her enemies. Tapan Basu has done a commendable job with the picturisation while Clinton Cereja’s music blends with the movie.

    Vidya Balan has rocked as the protagonist & plays both the parts with conviction though I cant help saying that the script couldnt do justice to her caliber. I would have to admit that I was pleasantly with Arjun Rampal’s performance as he has done his part pretty well & is provided adequate screen space to showcase his skills. Jugal Hansraj has been in the wilderness for quite a while & makes a comeback with a decent performance, though he was reduced to a mundane villain in the climax. As for the rest, Kharaj Mukherjee, Tota Roy Chowdhury, Tunisha Sharma etc have done their parts adequately.

    Verdict: The film will surely have a decent opening thanks to the response that the prequel had garnered. However, if the prequel had the word of mouth going in its favour in the subsequent weeks; that is unlikely to happen here which means the initial collections will be better but in the long run it will lag behind. The film had met the expectations in the first half, but in the latter half it spirals down to an ordinary thriller. In short, if you watch it without keeping the prequel as the benchmark, then you wont be disappointed!!!

    Rating: 2.75/5

    Regards…Ben

    December 05, 16
  • "Dear Alia, you absolutely rocked!!!"

    After a plethora of sequels in the past couple of weeks which more or less bordered on mediocrity (except for maybe “Force 2”), we finally have one which promises to keep the audience entertained. It happens to be Gauri Shinde’s “Dear Zindagi” which has SRK & Alia Bhatt in the lead. They were the first guests in this season of “Koffee With Karan” (who is also one of the producers) & from the lively vibe they shared, they would have dazzled in the movie as well. The promos has been quite catchy & the same applies to the songs as well which has become chart busters. So did it live upto expectations???

    Kiara (Alia Bhatt) is a talented upcoming cinematographer, who was on the lookout for a big break which would elevate her to the elite league. Even though her career was on the rise, her personal life seemed to be in turmoil as she was emotionally insecure. Kiara shared a rather cold relationship with her parents & also feared commitment calls which invariably meant she ended up hurting the guys with whom she was romantically linked. After one such breakup, Kiara headed back to her parents in Goa hoping that a change in environment will help to calm her nerves. But she found it hard to handle it by herself & sought the help of a psychiatrist, Dr Jehangir Khan aka Jug (SRK). How he helps her out & makes her embrace life is what the movie is about.

    Gauri Shinde is a person who doesnt need much of an introduction even though she just has one movie to her credit which incidentally happened to be the commercially & critically acclaimed “English Vinglish”. Just as in her previous venture, this time too she has taken up the responsibility of penning the script & screenplay. One of the emphatic message in “English Vinglish” was that children need to be more understanding about their parents shortcomings while over here, parents has to understand that their presence is essential for their children in their formative years. However, it doesnt quite impress in the same manner as this seemed to be kinda superficial & didnt make us feel invested in the story. But there are quite a couple of sequences which were brilliant be it the one where Alia vents out her anger & frustrations at her family or the climax sequence where she breaks down in front of SRK. Laxman Utekar deserves praise for his impressive frames & the same applies to Amit Trivedi for his music which was quite endearing.

    A couple of days back, I happened to read an article in NDTV which said Anil Kapoor expressed confidence that if the awards weren’t rigged then his daughter Sonam will sweep the best actress awards for her role in “Neerja. Well to be frank, I doubt anyone else stands a chance apart from Alia who was brilliant in “Udta Punjab” & has given a thumping performance here as well. It was a difficult character to portray coz of the various shades, but she has done it skillfully without overdoing it. Inspite of playing second fiddle to her character, SRK has done a fantastic job as he lighted up the screen with his charisma. Almost all of the supporting cast has done a fine job such as Ira Dubey, Yashaswini Dayama, Kunal Kapoor etc.

    Verdict: From the promos itself, it’s kinda evident that it is a type of movie which caters to the multiplex audience. But even for them as well, the lack of an engaging script will prove to be its downfall. In short, many would find the therapy sessions repetitive & would yearn for the exit but it is still worth a watch for Alia & SRK!!!

    Rating: 2.5/5

    Regards…Ben

    November 26, 16
  • "Lacks the freshness & zing of the prequel!!!"

    In the past week, the world has been rocked by two major news; Donald Trump being elected US President & the demonetization back home. PM Modi & his team came up with this bold decision in an effort to curb black money. Whether it would actually find the result that is expected remains to be seen especially with the launch of a higher denomination, but a curb in black money will ensure that our nation can rock on the world stage. Taking about rocking, this week we have “Rock on 2” hitting the screens which as the name suggests is a sequel. More often than not, sequels fails to live upto expectations. Hmm…so will this also have a similar fate or will it rock the box office???

    More than five years have passed since Magik has been disbanded & though all the members are still close buddies, each one was busy with their own lives. KD (Purab Kohli) who doubles up as the narrator made jingles for clients, something which he was not particularly happy with, while Joe (Arjun Rampal) was the owner of a happening club & also the judge of a music reality show. As for Adi (Farhan Akhtar), he was in Meghalaya helping out the natives hoping that it would help him overcome the guilt of being responsible for the death of a singer. Into their midst comes Jiah (Shraddha Kapoor), who has the talent to make it big but is bogged down by her father’s hate for any genre of music apart from classical. Will she have the guts to stand up to her father to pursue her ambition & will Adi ever overcome his guilt???

    Almost 8 years have passed since “Rock On” had released & it did impress the audience at that time. However, the sequel which is directed by Shujaat Saudagar fails to tick the boxes that it had successfully managed to do so earlier. The biggest drawback with the film is that it doesnt connect with the audience inspite of the emotional drama that is happening between the characters, Abhishek Kapoor & Pubali Chaudhuri who had penned the script touches on the topic of neglect & troubles faced by the North Eastern people & the despise for fusion music by purists both of which came across as half baked. Even the music by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy didnt have the peppiness that was evident in the prequel. On the brighter side, Mark Koninckx has exquisitely picturised Shillong.

    On the performance side, all of them have done a decent job be it Farhan, Arjun or Purab. Shraddha who was the new addition to the team has done a fine job while Shashank Arora was wasted along with Kumud Mishra.

    Verdict: Just like the prequel, it is a movie which will have takers only in the multiplexes, But unlike “Rock On”, this will not be able to satiate the audience neither in terms of the script nor the music. In short, a rather disappointing sequel!!!

    Rating: 2/5

    Regards…Ben

    November 13, 16
  • "Desi version of Taken minus the intricate attention to details!!!"

    Festivals like Diwali, Eid etc, are eagerly awaited by Bollywood hoping to cash in on the extended weekends. Due to this, film makers announce their releases usually a year in advance in order to avoid a tussle at the box-office. Even then at times, mud slinging has occurred between rival camps when both of them vie for the same dates. This year, Ajay Devgn had “Shivaay” hit the screens on the same day as “Ae Dil Hai Mushkil” & it had stirred a controversy prior to release when the “attention seeker” Kamaal Khan claimed that he was offered money by one camp to bad mouth the other (only God knows, whether anyone would seek this idiot’s help). Anywaz this wasn’t the first time that Ajay was involved in a controversy coz in 2012 as well, he claimed his “Son of Sardar” was denied screens in favour of “Jab Tak Hai Jaan”. Well his movie came in second at that time, but will there be a shift in momentum this time around???

    Shivaay (Ajay Devgn) was a Himalayan mountaineer who made a living arranging trekking expeditions. During one of the treks, he saves a Bulgarian female named Olga (Erika Kaar) from an avalanche which provides fodder for a romantic relation to develop between the two. Their relation leads to her being pregnant much to her dismay but she decides to bear the child for Shivaay. However, after the birth of their daughter, Gaura; she leaves her in the care of Shivaay & returns to Bulgaria. Gaura (Abigail Eames) was made to believe that her mother had passed away but she gets to know the truth & coax Shivaay into taking her to Bulgaria to meet her mother. Will she get to meet her after all they had no clue about her whereabouts???

    This is the second directorial venture of Ajay after “U, Me Aur Hum” which was pretty average & failed to impress the audience. Scripted by himself, the basic thread is definitely inspired from Liam Neeson’s “Taken” & he has tried to showcase the emotional connect between the father & daughter in addition to the high octane stunt sequences. He is basically a one man army who vanquishes the enemies with his brawn while there doesnt seem to be any specific planning as everything seemed to work like clockwork. On the positive side, most of the stunts are well choreographed & gives the movie a racy feel in some portions. Aseem Bajaj has done an impressive job with the cinematography but the editing by Dharmendra Sharma was pathetic as it’s damn long with numerous scenes that could have been easily chopped off. With regard to the music, Mithoon has done a decent job with the BGM.

    The director in Ajay, seemed like he couldnt get enough of himself & ended up being present in almost all the scenes. He has done an earnest job as the protagonist & as always rocked in the action sequences. Abigail Eames might have been mute, but even then she performed reasonably. As for the rest, Sayesha Saigal & Erika Kaar was average while Girish Karnad was wasted.

    Verdict: The box-office collection will be dependent on the single screens as the mutiplexes are likely to favour ADHM. The stunt sequences are the USP of the movie while the emotional drama wedged into the movie fails to connect with the audience. With everything at his disposal as he was both the director & producer, Ajay ought to have paid more attention to the story as it did have the potential to be a winner in all centres. In short, watch it for the action or else forget it!!!

    Rating: 2.25/5

    Regards…Ben

    November 01, 16
  • "Will be mushkil for many to sit through the emotional drama!!!"

    Soon after the Uri attacks where 19 of our brave soldiers lost their lives, they were calls to cut off all ties with Pakistan on all platforms which included Bollywood as well. Well I am not going to dispute the stance that was called for, but many from the film industry including Karan Johar came forward stating that it was not right to deny Pakistani artists from performing in the country. Frankly speaking, I dont believe many of them actually mean it as their eye is only on the money they can garner from the Pakistani market & one of the easiest way to do it is to include stars from there in the movie. This is exactly what KJo did with Fawad Alam in his latest movie “Ae Dil Hai Mushkil”, the promos of which has caught the eye of the public. So was it the typical KJo movie with just glitz & glamour or was there more depth to it???

    Based in London, Ayan (Ranbir Kapoor) an aspiring singer & Alizeh (Anushka Sharma) meet up at a bar & try to make out but it turned up to be an absolute drab. However, they hit off famously to end up as close buddies in quick time after the break up with their respective partners. With time, Ayan started having feelings for her but Alizeh wasn’t able to take their relation to the next level as she was still in love with Ali (Fawad Alam) who had broken her heart many years back. When she bumps into Ali in Paris, all those feelings gets rekindled which shatters Ayan. Will Alizeh ever able to reciprocate Ayan’s unrequited love???

    It’s been a while since KJo has called the shots as his previous release was “Student of the Year” in 2012. From the outset, it has all the ingredients of a typical Johar movie such as the uber lifestyle of the protagonists, foreign locales & great music. What sets this movie apart is the pull it exerts on the heart cords which feels realistic & genuine, thanks to the terrific leads. Even the dialogues by Johar oscillated from being witty & stupid to sentimental & philosophical which added a lot to the overall impact of the movie. But where this movie falters is that it offers an undeniable sense of deja vu as it seems like a potpourri of “Tamasha” & “Rockstar”. It also comes across way too much emotional & brooding which might not be to the liking of a segment of the audience. On the technical side, everything was top notch be it Pritam’s music (almost all the tracks were awesome, “Channa Mereya” & “Bulleya” were my favourites) or Anil Mehta’s exquisite visuals.

    Both the leads were absolutely brilliant, that it’s hard to say who has aced it; though I have to say Anushka Sharma surprised me with her confidence & attention to nuances. I couldnt possibly imagine anyone else apart from her as Alizeh. Ranbir Kapoor credentials as a phenomenal actor is well established & this role just reiterated the fact that he is indeed the best of his generation, though he intends to mess up with his choice of movies. Aishwarya Rai has done a decent job but her segment with Ranbir was the weakest in the movie. Fawad Alam barely had much to do while Lisa Haydon was spot on as the bimbette. As for the cameos by SRK & Alia Bhatt, it barely had any impact.

    Verdict: KJo might had to bow down to the wishes of the MNS & even put up a message thanking soldiers (nothing more than a gimmick to be frank), but he will be laughing his way to the bank with the initial, It will have the multiplexes & overseas lapping it up, but single screens are unlikely to warm up to him. It should be a blockbuster in the long run as it’s surely KJo’s most intense movie to date & his lead pairs has just smashed it. In short, if you dont mind emotional drama then definitely go for it!!!

    Rating: 3/5

    Regards…Ben

    October 30, 16
  • "Visual spectacle that fails to connect!!!"

    October is upon us & it’s time for the Puja holidays which is eagerly looked forward to by students & employees alike. This year, it so happened that the auspicious days fell on the first few working days which invariably meant a long weekend. Hoping to cash in on the extended holidays is Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra’s “Mirzya” that had the tinsel town gushing over the making of the movie & the performances of the lead pair. Well it wasn’t surprising after all you wouldn’t possibly expect them to say anything negative about Harshvardhan Kapoor, son of Anil Kapoor who was making his debut in a movie which was being crafted by some of the best technicians. There is no doubt that the frames shown in the trailer was awe-inspiring & with Gulzar having written the script; the expectations of it being a classic was nigh high. So did it deliver what it promised???

    The film opens with a warrior winning an archery competition with the prize being the hand of the princess. However, it didnt seem to impress the other members of the clan & they make it amply clear with their hostile demeanor. The warrior wasn’t disturbed by the events that unfolded & elopes with the princess in the dark much to the chagrin of the others who follows in pursuit. In an alternate time period, which happens to be the present day; Munish & Suchi are inseparable friends who always looked out for each other. But when Suchi gets reprimanded at school when she tried to cover up for Munshi who had forgotten his assignment, little did they realize that the subsequent events that unfolded would change their lives forever.

    Rakeysh Omprakash is a director who needs no introduction especially with movies like “Rang De Basanti” & “Bhaag Milkha Bhaag” to his credit. In “Mirzya”, he has been honoured with the services of renowned lyricist Gulzar who has penned the script with the legendary tale of Mirza Sahiban being the basic idea behind the thread. The highlight of the movie is undoubtedly the magnificent visuals by the Polish cinematographer, Pawel Dyllus who has captured the Leh-Ladakh landscape & the Rajashthani deserts in such a manner that it will leave us spell bound. Equally impressive was the soundtrack by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy which blends with the mood of the movie & elevates the experience especially in the warrior sequences. But there is a limit as to how much technical brilliance can help if it doesnt have a tale that connects with the audience & that’s exactly the problem here. The format which is followed is pretty much similar to “Rang De Basanti”, where we have two similar stories running parallel to each other in different time periods. While in “RDB”, we root for the protagonists, over here we are more bothered as to when we can relieve ourselves from the boredom gifted by the movie.

    Harshvardhan Kapoor looked awesome as the warrior but he didnt quite suit the character of Munish as he failed to convey the rawness & ruggedness that was evident in his appearance. Even Saiyami Kher didnt impress me with her histrionics or dialogue delivery. If at all there was someone who deserves a mention, then it has to be Anjali Patel while all the rest were either average or mediocre.

    Verdict: Apart from technical brilliance, there is hardly anything in the movie which makes it worth watching. The movie will have to depend solely on the multiplex audience for its investment but even they are likely to stay away due to the incoherent script. In short, dont bother!!!

    Rating: 1.75/5

    Regards…Ben

    October 11, 16
  • "Engaging though many aspects especially the lows remains untold!!!"

    Cricket, the game which holds the nation together & which is like a religion in the sub-continent holds an unfair advantage in the region much to the chagrin of lovers of other sports. Being a sports buff, I pretty much follow most of the sports with unbridled enthusiasm but Cricket remains my favourite though I admit we need to give as much support & respect to Champs of other sports. It might seem like an absolute waste of time with hardly anything happening for long periods of time to many of the detractors. But once you love the game, even Tests can be engrossing; maybe check out the Kolkata Test which has Kiwis on the ropes & you will understand what I mean. Over the years, we had many legends in the game & one name which will be added to that list by the time he hangs his boots will be our Captain Cool aka M S Dhoni. In recent times, we had a couple of biopics on sports icons such as Milkha, Mary Kom, Azhar etc . So when a biopic on MS was announced & that too by the talented Neeraj Pandey, I was eagerly waiting to check it out. Will it be able to give an insight on how Captain Cool thinks & handles the challenging situations???

    As it is well known to most of the cricket lovers, MS hails from Ranchi & the movie is about his journey from that small town to the pinnacle of Indian cricket. Dhoni was the goalkeeper of his school & during one of the practise sessions , he catches the eyes of the school’s cricketing coach, Bannerjee (Rajesh Sharma) who sees his potential as a wicket-keeper & coaxes him into taking up the game. His father, Pan Singh Dhoni (Anupam Kher) was the pump operator in MECON who just like any other father wanted his son to concentrate on his studies as he believed sports cannot become a form of reliable livelihood. However his sister Jayanti Gupta (Bhumika Chawla), mother & close buddies supported his passion for cricket. In due time, his exploits with the bat becomes known far & wide.But his promotion to the Indian team was still a distant dream. How he makes that big leap from Ranji to the most successful Indian Captain forms the subsequent portions of the movie.

    Neeraj Pandey is a director who needs no introduction courtesy of his excellent movies “A Wednesday”, “Special 26” & “Baby”. Even his latest venture, he has done utmost justice as it emotionally connects with the audience due to the authenticity it imparts in its execution. The first half was fantastic as it captures the struggles of MS extremely well & also the influence of his friends & family who does whatever is possible from their side to support his growth as a player. But the second half was were the efforts of Neeraj Pandey & Dilip Jha as writers was disappointing as they chose to just eulogize the highs of Dhoni with absolutely no mention of the controversies be it IPL or equation with certain players with whom there is said to be animosity. Apart from a fleeting mention of the dropping of the seniors prior to the Commonwealth series in Australia, there is also no insight provided into what makes him Captain Cool in crunch situations or the dressing room interactions ; all of which was expected after all there was emphasis on the phrase “The Untold Story” in the title. Inspite of this, it’s still a cracking movie which keeps us hooked till MS hoists that famous 6 into the stands & wins the World Cup. All the technical aspects were top notch be it Santhosh Thundiyil’s visuals, the impressive CGI & catchy BGM. However, Shree Narayanan ought to have done a better job with the editing while the songs though fine proved to be speed breakers.

    There is no doubt that the film has been well crafted but one of the prime reasons for that is the excellent performance of the artists who were aptly chosen,so kudos to the casting team for that. Sushant Singh was brilliant as MS in all aspects be it the calm restrained demeanor, his body language or typical Dhoni shots. As Dhoni said in one of the promotions, it seems Sushant is actually better than some of the Ranji players; I guess he is going to be the most sought after star in the next season of CCL. As for the rest, it is hard to pin-point as each one has done their part really well such as the ones who essayed the role of Dhoni’s friends, Rajesh Sharma, Anupam Kher, Bhumika Chawla etc. Among the female leads, Disha Patani was fantastic while Kiara Advani as Sakshi was fine.

    Verdict: The film has all the makings of a blockbuster not to mention Captain Cool has one of the biggest fan following in the country. Neeraj has showcased the journey of MS extremely well though he chose to focus on only the high points of MS’s career which was kinda disappointing. But there is no denying that the film is both engaging & inspirational at the same time making it an enjoyable experience for the audience.In short, do check it out!!!

    Rating: 3.5/5

    Regards…Ben

    October 02, 16
  • "Credible thread which gets bogged down by its superficiality!!!"

    “If music be the food of love, play on” is a famous quote from Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night which emphasizes the importance of music in life. India is a nation that is blessed with diversity that is evident in all aspects be it language, cuisines, customs & even music. Musicians have always been held in high regard in our country irrespective of which nationality they belonged to which explains why many of the Pakistani artists have a huge fan base here. Even Chris Martin of Coldplay & current creative director of Global Citizen Concert announced at the event in New York last night that they will be performing in Mumbai in November. Coincidentally, this week we have a music based movie “Banjo” hitting the screens which focuses on the street musicians in Mumbai. But it remains to be seen whether it was indeed music to the ears or a migraine inducer???

    Taraat (Riteish Deshmukh) is an extortionist for the local corporator who also doubled up as a banjo artist with his gang of friends for functions in their locality. Far from the slums of Mumbai in New York, Chris (Nargis Fakhri) an aspiring musician happens to listen to their music & gets mesmerized with it. She decides to seek them out to form a band & compose a couple of tracks for a music competition. However, tracking them down wasnt going to be easy & even if she did manage to, will she be able to inculcate discipline into these ruffians???

    Since I am not so well versed with Marathi movies, I have to admit that I didnt know about Ravi Jadhav who is said to be a respectable name in the fraternity. He already has a couple of National Film Awards to his credit courtesy of his Marathi movies such as Natarang & Balgandharva. “Banjo” is his debut Bollywood venture & typical to his culture, he has chosen banjo music which is an indispensable part of festivals in Maharashtra. It has been scripted by Ravi along with Kapil Sawant & Nikhil Mehrotra and kudos to the trio for choosing a credible subject. However, they failed to delve into the details of it & chose to take a tried & tested path rather than offer anything unique. Vishal-Shekhar does impress with some of the tracks though it doesnt stick for long.

    Riteish has always been part of multi-starers, so it felt kinda different to see him shoulder a movie on his own. He has done a decent job as the protagonist with his body language & lends credibility to the character. Dharmesh Yelande as Grease was fine along with Luke Kenny while Aditya Kumar & Ram Menon does manage to evoke a couple of chuckles. As for Nargis Fakhri, she yet again proved as to why she should not been acting.

    Verdict: Apart from the Maharashtra circuit, the film will barely make its presence felt in the other regions. Riteish’s credentials as a solo hero isnt great & his cause hasnt been helped with this venture also. Despite having a subject that could have been well exploited, it turned out to be a damp squid as it resorted to predictable formulas & cliches. In short, dont bother!!!

    Rating: 2/5

    Regards…Ben

    September 26, 16
  • "Impressive but the theatres will have a parched look!!!"

    This week our nation was rocked by the ghastly attack in Uri which claimed the life of 17 of our brave soldiers. Even as our country grapple from constant militant attacks in Kashmir we have also been plagued with many other grave problems with injustice against women being prominent among them. If last week saw “Pink” address the problems that a lady faces in the urban society, then this week we have “Parched” addressing it from a rural background. This movie has been in the news for the much talked about intimate scenes between Adil Hussain & Radhika Apte which to be frank got the publicity that it needed prior to release. So will it be able to win over the box-office just as it did at the film festivals???

    The film unfolds in a Rajasthani village where women were shackled by age old traditions in a patriarchal society. Rani (Tannishtha Chatterjee) was a young widow trying to get her teenage son married off to a beautiful bride in the neighbouring village even though it meant mortgaging whatever she had. She had two close buddies, one of them being Lajoo (Radhika Apte) & Bijli (Surveen Chawla), the lead erotic dancer & prostitute in the region. Both Rani & Lajoo were financially independent thanks to the small scale crafting industry that was set up in the village by Kishan (Sumeet Vyas) which irked many of the men in the village at the idea of women becoming bread earners in the family.. However, each of them had problems of their own as Rani’s son Gulab disliked his mother’s choice & created ruckus with his loafer friends, Lajoo was repeatedly abused by her alcoholic husband for being infertile while Bijli had to stave off the challenge posed by a younger dancer in her troupe. But whatever might be their issues, they always confided in each other which enabled them to deal with it in the best way possible. So will these three friends ever manage to break off from the living hell they had subjected themselves to day in & day out???

    Leena Yadav has helmed this project who already has “Shabd” & “Teen Patti” to her credit both of which were unconventional & failed to impress the audience. In her latest venture which she has scripted as well, she has touched upon various problems that women in rural areas still face which we are pretty much aware of. What actually makes the movie click is the manner in which the characterization of the female leads has been done & the relationship they share which allows them to discuss everything with each other unabashedly. As many of us are aware, the film initially came into the news primarily due to the love making sequence & other such similar instances which was brilliantly picturised by Academy Award Winner Russell Carpenter who has movies like “Titanic”. “True Lies” etc to his credit. But I felt that some of the sequences didnt add much to the storyline be it the mystic lover’s angle which seemed more like a class on Kamasutra which the West will lap up or the Shahrukh Khan phone calls.

    Surveen Chawla was the pick among the lot as she was brilliant as the spirited female who lights up the screen with her presence inspite of an undeniable sense of vulnerability behind her bold exterior. Radhika was a natural as the battered wife & essayed the love making scenes with utmost ease while Taanisha was spot on with her characterization as well. Lehar Khan who plays the role of Taanisha’s daughter in-law was impressive as well along with Sumeet Vyas. The rest of the cast, have also done their parts aptly.

    Verdict: As mentioned earlier, the erotic scenes will generate a certain deal of interest in the movie but the off-beat content will not be to the liking of the majority. The film definitely deserves an audience as it does have a decent storyline which speaks about the travails of three women that are inflicted of them both emotionally & physically. In short, wont hurt to give it a try!!!

    Rating: 3/5

    Regards…Ben

    September 25, 16
  • "Brilliant take on the plight of independent women due to prejudices!!!"

    In recent years, one of the most oft seen headline in the media is the atrocities happening against our women in various parts of the country. It’s an undeniable fact that just like every nation, even we do have our shortcomings with the primary one being prejudistic misconceptions. Like it or not, an independent female is invariably looked upon with a suspicious eye by many especially if she is living life on her own terms away from her family. This week we have Aniruddha Roy’s “Pink” which highlights on this issue. The trailer was awesome & had all the makings of being a damn good film. But my doubt was whether it will turn out to be too preachy towards the end rather than being blunt???

    Minal Arora (Taapsee Pannu), Falak Ali (Kirti Kulhari) & Andrea (Andrea Tariang) were independent professionals who stayed together in the South Delhi region. On one of the weekends, they decided to attend a rock concert & by the end of it, they happened to befriend a couple of guys through a mutual friend. On the invitation of one of the guys, Rajveer (Angad Bedi); who hailed from an influential family they decided to spent some time with them over food & drinks in his resort. But things spiraled out of control as Rajveer was inflicted a severe blow on his head with a bottle by Minal when the former tried to molest her. This enrages the guys & resolves to make their lives a living hell or in their terms ” ladkiyon ki aukat”. Left with no option, the girls decide to take the legal route but it was much tougher than they had anticipated. So will their lawyer Deepak Sehgal (Amitabh Bachchan) be able to win it for them without their names being tarnished for no fault of theirs???

    This powerful movie is the directorial debut of Aniruddha Roy who has made a name for himself in the Bengal film industry. The script by Ritesh Shah is so damn impactful & Aniruddha has executed it so brilliantly on celluloid that it does make us realise the amount of hardships many of the women face on a daily basis due to the prejudistic mindset of many of the people. If the first half focused on how they are crushed emotionally, the latter half is a captivating court room drama. It runs close to 140 mins but it doesnt make us squirm in our seats. All the technical aspects were in sync with the mood of the movie be it Abhik’s visuals or Shantanu Moitra & Anupam Roy’s music.

    There isnt a single actor who hasnt given his best & kudos to the casting team for having selected such a team. Coming to the girls, I have never considered Taapsee a competent actress coz she was horrible in the few movies that I had seen such as “Doubles”, “Aarambham” etc except for “Baby”, But she totally changed my view with her brilliant performance here as the bold female who breaks down with time. Kirti Kulhari was the best I felt especially in the sequences where she explodes on the phone & in the court room where she turns the tables on the prosecution. Equally fantastic was Andrea, who might not have as many lines but whose body language was spot on exuding vulnerability. What do I say about Big B??? he just amazes us with his screen presence & reverberating baritone, all the while making sure that he doesn’t go overboard. Among the guys, Vijay Varma steals the show whenever he is on focus with his callous nature towards women while Angad Bedi fitted the bill of the spoilt brat. A special word of praise for Piyush Mishra as the prosecutor whose cold hearted attitude really irritates us along with Dhritimann Chatterjee as the kind hearted & empathetic judge.

    Verdict: It might not have the glitz & glamour of a big budget movie, but it’s hard hitting realistic movies like these that gives us a whole new experience. In all probability, it should have the word of mouth going in its favour & it truly deserves all the accolades coming its way. I just hope that each one of us watch this as it is relevant to our times & atleast make an effort to change if such prejudices are harboured. As the movie says “Her attire, relationships & sexual life shouldnt be used as yardsticks of her morality. She is the master of her own will & if she says NO…it’s a clear NO”. For me, this movie is a YES…AN EMPHATIC YES…SO DONT MISS IT!!!

    Rating: 4.5/5

    Regards…Ben

    September 18, 16