Rush. Based on real story of rivalry between two F1 drivers of 70s, dashing James Hunt played by ‘Thor’ fame Chris Hemsworth and clinical Niki Lauda played by incredible Daniel Brühl.
Like a F1 race, Rush is also a racy drive with lots of bends in the story testing the lead characters’ spirit and temperament. Both lead characters are so well developed and well played that they leave an indelible mark on your minds. Director Ron Howard masterly organizes a wonderful show of technical finesse, sharp dialogues, uncluttered screenplay and cinematic thrill of F1 racing. The love-hate-respect relationship between James and Niki is electric and every now and then you feel the adrenaline rush that they are feeling.
There is hardly any dull moment and emotional conflicts revolving around the love lives of both the racers is handled with a light hand so that you are never distracted from the main plot. I am going with fantastic 8 out of 10 for Rush. This is one of the best sports movies in recent times and will surely get a cult status in future. Rush for this.
PK. Returning after celebrating the colossal success of 3 Idiots, Rajkumar Hirani and Aamir Khan take you to the another journey of introspection amid all the cinematic fun.
Raju picks the sensitive issue of faith and religion. As usual, his hero is an outsider, actually he is alien to earth this time. Using his quick wit and with the help of master act of Aamir Khan, he creates a series of funny and though provoking scenes asking you if your faith is in God who created humans or God who was created by humans. There is terrific first half, a post interval portion with the ‘been there done that” feeling and a heart wrenching climax which sums up the things on a high note.
Anushka Shrama, Sushant Singh Rajput, Boman Irani and Saurabh Shukla provide good support but movie belongs to Aamir Khan who never misses a beat while playing this difficult alien act. This is not the best of Raju’s lot but it is much better than so many other offerings of Bollywood.
I am going with mind blowing 9 out of 10 for PK. This one is brave, funny, thought provoking and pure Rajkumar Hirani brand fun so have faith and watch PK.
Exodus: Gods and Kings. When you have a plot interesting as Exodus has, lead actor as good as Bale and visuals as stunning as Exodus has, then result should have been great but Exodus misses the bus because execution is dull and chemistry is missing between the key characters.
Ridley Scott fails to infuse the high energy level in Exodus that we cherished in cult Gladiator. Rather portraying it as a faith movie, he could have opted for showing the human spirit that goes against all odds. Apart from Bale, there is hardly any other memorable character. The length of 150 minutes feels too long.
However, great visuals and great CGI work especially in the climax help movie in not being a complete disaster. I am going with not bad 6 out of 10 for Exodus. What could have been a great cinematic experience turns out to be an underwhelming one.
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies. The master of his craft, Peter Jackson bring the finale of the Hobbit trilogy and as expected, he stuns with his command on visuals, cinematography and creation of memorable characters and action set-pieces.
Movie starts right in the middle of action where last movie’s star Smaug the dragon is furious and firing all over the city. As movie moves forward, the danger keeps on rising and you are well treated with slick one hour long CGI based detailed battle of the five armies. This is shortest and most action oriented movie among all middle earth movies so there is not a single dull moment.
You might find it underwhelming when compared to LOTR trilogy but it is still a satisfying finale. I am going with fantastic 8 out of 10 for The Hobbit 3. If you are not a fan, you will be entertained and if you are a fan then you will feel sad because the saga of middle earth movies spanned over 13 years has come to an end.
Shahid. Movies like Shahid are made because some stories are important and should be told with utmost honesty possible. Hansal Mehta does an excellent job with a touching and thought provoking story in his hands.
Rajkumar Rao playing Shahid, first a victim and then a savior, is exceptional. Court room drama is kept simple but still succeeds in thrilling you. Family drama is there but is kept concise so that you are not distracted from the main issue. All supporting actors provide ample support to the narrative. Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub playing Shahid’s over burdened brother is excellent. A water tight screenplay, authentic setup, the right length, the serious tone, all make Shahid a mini masterpiece.
I am going with fantastic 8 out of 10 for Shahid. Watch it with patience, watch it for its relevance and watch it because some movies are worth watching for their honest story.
Ankhon Dekhi. It is not just another off beat movie from Rajat Kapoor. Instead, it is his big leap as a film maker. He teams up with versatile Sanjay Mishra and result is incredible thought provoking film.
Ankhon Dekhi centers around Raje Bauji, played by Sanjay Mishra who, after a dramatic incident, decides that he will only believe what he sees with his eyes. This one little idea changes Bauji for ever. The strength of the movie is its sharp performances and authentic down town setup. Then there are delicious dialogues, delicious sequences of people first questioning Bauji and then following him blindly. All supporting actors including Rajat Kapoor also do an excellent job.
This movie is about feeling and experiencing what Bauji felt and then doing your own interpretations. I am going with fantastic 8 out of 10 for Ankhon Dekhi. It is about extra ordinary tale of an ordinary person.
Highway. It is most personal work of Imtiaz Ali. He deliberately cuts down the frills from the execution and focus only on the characters and their feeling about themselves.
Highway’s strength lies in the authentic characterization and right casting of its lead characters. Randeep Hooda as goon from Haryana and Alia Bhatt as daughter from a super-rich family from Delhi look, feel, talk and act like that they are wearing their characters on their souls. Their acting in each and every frame is up to the mark. Being a road movie, Highway succeeds in taking you to a beautiful journey that does not want to end.
But unfortunately, screenplay is predictable and does not have too many surprises to keep you engaged. I am going with good 7 out of 10 for Highway. Watch it for Alia and Randeep’s performance, watch it for Imtiaz Ali’s understanding of his characters. Watch it for a beautiful journey but do not care about the destination.
The Wolf of Wall Street. Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio, whenever they are together, you know you shall be ready for a cinematic treat and The Wolf is no exception.
Playing a morally wrong character, Leonardo DiCaprio displays best of his acting skills. His performance in each and every scene is so animated and delicious that you may like to rewind some of the scenes just to enjoy them again and again. Martin Scorsese like a master of his game never let the intensity go down. Supporting actors like Jonah Hill and special appearance from Matthew McConaughey are icing on the cake. Screenplay is full of surprises and dialogues are sharp.
Like Goodfellas, The Wolf is seen from the eyes of the wrong side and keeping everything authentic and comic works big time for this movie.
I am going with fantastic 8 out of 10 for The Wolf of Wall Street. It is one hell of an entertainment for three hours.
Interstellar. It is hard not to expect anything but the best when you are watching a Christopher Nolan movie. After all, he has earned this high level of expectation from his every movie.
Interstellar, is his most ambitious work. When other film-makers try to make you believe that there might be other planets for us to live, Nolan goes two steps further and show you such three planets. This movie is a grand cocktail of science fiction, human emotions and their never ending survival instincts. He succeeds big time except for the middle portion involving character of Matt Damon. If you can forgive Nolan for this, then Interstellar is one of the rare cinematic experience that will be cherished forever.
Nolan deliberately avoids CGI and that’s why all the special effects feel so real. Performance wise Matthew McConaughey is more than brilliant and keeps you glued to the screen. Second best are the robots which are simple and more humane than humans in the movie.
I am going with fantastic 8 out of 10 for Interstellar. To Nolan, you want to give a perfect 10 for his ambition and fearlessness. Like Spielberg, he is bound to go into history as most influential film maker for current and coming generations.
Happy New Year. After debacle called Tees Maar Khan, Farah Khan teams up with Shahrukh Khan again and result is similar to their last venture Om Shanti Om. Happy New Year makes you feel happy but there is nothing new or fresh about it.
Fortunately movie has a plot to talk about where a team of losers led by Shahrukh himself plan a heist while faking themselves as a dancing group. Movie has its moments because Abhishek Bachchan and Deepika Padukone has got a knack for comic timing and their characters make you chuckle. Farah Khan in her usual spoof style film making creates few moments of laugh as well as irritation.
Shahrukh Khan is here in his comfort zone but an actor like him should aim much better at this stage of his career. Sonu Sood seems pretty uncomfortable in comic avatar. Boman Irani is competent as usual. Movie is around half an hour extra long. The first hour could have been easily trimmed for more impact.
I am going with not bad 6 out of 10 for Happy New Year. If you don’t mind brainless entertainers in the name of cinema, Happy New Year might satisfy you.
Haider. After Maqbool and Omkara, Vishal once again seeks inspiration from Shakespeare and this time he picks Hamlet and gives us one poignant and beautiful piece of revenge drama set in the backdrop of struggling Kashmir.
The strength of Haider lies in powerful performances of its actors and above all Tabu. Tabu embraces her character so well and makes it so mysterious that you are confused whether to sympathize or not with her. Shahid as Haider, Kay Kay Menon as his evil uncle, Irrfan Khan as mysterious helper and Shraddha as Haider’s love interest, all give their best. Surprisingly, the movie is laced with dark humour. You won’t be able to forget the die hard Salman fans named Salman and Salman and a bunch of aged grave diggers singing “Aao Na, So Jao Na”
But Haider is a beauty with flaws. Vishal looses its grip in last half an hour and lets movie wander for extra 15-20 minutes before taking it to the grand finale. There are few unexplained sequences like what was the military mission all about?
I am going with strong 7 out of 10 for Haider. Watch it for Tabu, watch it for its emotional complexity and watch it for carefully done Oedipal undertones.
Bobby Jasoos. Vidya Balan sparkles as ever but everything else is so normal. As Bobby she is residing in the heart of Hyderabad and wants to a be a detective but such dreamy things never come easy.
Movie scores in setting up the messy atmosphere of Hyderabad and many small struggles that Bobby faces. First half raises your curiosity as she deals with her big money client and when she consistently struggles to find her father’s acceptance for her unusual job because she is a girl. Side characters initially help making things interesting but as time moves on they convert into unnecessary distractions from the main plot.
Second half disappoints as things get more messy and too much time is spent on distractions. The detective movie starts wandering sometimes as a love story or family drama. Low production values becomes more visible especially in songs. The dream song is totally out of the place. And if it wasn’t enough, the underwhelming climax leaves you unsatisfied at the end.
I am going with not bad 6 out of 10 for Bobby Jasoos. It is recommended to watch under the comfort of home to enjoy Vidya Balan’s strong performance.
Mary Kom. The biopic on five times world champion lady boxer Mary Kom is like watching a boxing game that does have some nice punches but fails to knock you out completely at the end.
The true story has great potential where Mary Kom fights her father in the name of love for boxing, finds a father like coach to take her to places in boxing, gets married, has twin sons, has a husband who is her biggest fan, husband pushes her to go into the boxing ring again and she re-writes the history. Priyanka Chopra does a terrific job as Mary Kom. She is in full form whether as a boxer or as a mother or as a lover.
What movie lacks is one adrenaline rushing song and some nail biting boxing game barring the last one. Movies ticks of all aspects of a struggle of a player but fails to raise the dramatic tension. The relationship with her coach or her husband is handled well but does not come across as core strength of the movie.
I am gong with good 7 out of 10 for Mary Kom. It is no Chak De India or Bhaag Milkha Bhaag but it deserves a watch for its intent and Priyanka Chopra.
Mardaani. It’s a welcome change. A heroine oriented violent movie from YRF without a single song and without any distractions from the main plot during those crisp and tight 1 hour and 50 minutes. Rani Mukerjee after a long time gets a fresh and meaty role in form of a lady police officer from Mumbai crime branch who starts investigating a women trafficking crime for her own reasons but soon finds the bigger and ugly picture.
Movie gains its strength from its reasonably short length. From the scene one, without wasting a minute you are introduced to tough and quirky Shivani Shiviji Rao and before you settle down, she is playing the cat and mouse chase game with her nemesis played by newcomer Tahir Raj Bhasin who is also at equal ease and full of fire power.
Although movie does not dare to go into much detailing of the heinous crime and also somewhat fails to exploit the emotional connection between Rani and her doctor husband. But still using a linear screenplay and funny one liners here and there, movie holds itself together to keep you interested in the proceedings.
I am going with strong 7 out of 10 for Mardaani. At the end, you feel satisfied and movie sends its message right that women are not to be taken for granted.
Bhootnath Returns. The sequel to well received Bhootnath is very different from its original and mostly in good way. Bhootnath played by always amazing Amitabh Bachchan returns to earth, becomes friend with poor kid Akhrot played by superb Parth Bhalerao and fights face to face with corrupt politician played by ever dependable Boman Irani.
The good doesn’t stop here. Nitesh Tiwari of Chillar Party fame directs the well written story with conviction and emotion so that you can easily relate to the pain and agony of who are at the receiving end of cancer named corruption. The fresh ideas like Bhootnath using his power to get the haunted buildings freed from ghosts and ‘you are not required to be alive to contest an election’ stand out.
However, as movie progresses the solutions become more simplistic and less charismatic. Parth’s performance is outstanding specially being in the company of big talents like Big B and Boman. He makes you laugh and cry with equal ease. His cracking chats with Big B and emotional scene with his mother before the climax are just one of the many good evidence of his acting prowess.
I am going with strong 7 out of 10 for Bhootnath Returns. It deserves a watch for some witty ideas and towering performances.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. There is a ape in every human and there is a human in every ape. This line describes the whole idea behind consistently engaging and imaginative sequel to the well respected Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Taking a jump of 10 years from the last movie, dawn is about the survival of the fittest among apes and humans.
Caesar, the amazing creation of combination of acting skills of Andy Serkis and new age motion capture technology is the heart of the story. He leads, and bleeds for the apes. Apes have become almost human. They have families, the conflicts, the trust issues with humans and the rules to govern their wild colony. These tiny details make Dawn a unique piece of cinema. All jungle scenes are done so well that they make real footage of National Geographic seem ordinary. All apes and humans characters make you root for them even the evil ones. Caesar’s elder son’s emotional journey is soothing and his younger’s son’s first encounter with humans is heart warming. At the same time, ape Koba’s encounter with two humans guarding the weapons and his ever rising conflict with Caesar is chilling.
For nitpicking, apes riding horses seems somewhat hard to believe and 3D does not add any value in the story telling apart from the massive destruction scene in the climax. Running for more than 2 hours, dawn is a high voltage action and fiction drama that leaves you amazed.
I am going with fantastic 8 out of 10 for Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. It is the most sure footed blockbuster of Hollywood this year so far. Don’t miss it!
Ek Villain. Mohit Suri takes a break from Mahesh Bhatt productions and directs a movie for another intelligent producer Ekta Kapoor. As usual, he gets inspired largely from a foreign movie, this time it is Korean thriller “I Saw the Devil”. He puts an Indian love story and supports the narrative with highly hummable songs. The love story and emotional connect works big time but thrilling parts are a bit lazy and hazy.
Guru played by very good looking and versatile Sidharth Malhotra is a ruthless assassin. He meets the all good girl Aisha played by gorgeous the girl next door Shraddha Kapoor. Predictable but enjoyably and sensibly both fall in love. In fact emotional scenes are very well handled and provide enough to root for the characters. In a parallel world, Rakesh played by super Ritesh Deshmukh is living two lives, living a below average life with his nagging wife and cute son and killing innocent ladies who dare to belittle him. Two lives coincide and you have a cat mouse chase between Guru and Rakesh. Story lacks logic sometimes but impressive performances, soulful music and fast pacing let you forgive the flaws. Remo as Guru’s Godfather and KRK (yes, Kamal R Khan) as Rakesh’s friend are heavily miscast. Intervention by useless police inspector in Guru’s revenge story is annoying and does not serve any purpose. Connect between Sidharth and Rakesh’s kid works as a fresh twist to old revenge drama concept.
I am going with good 7 out of 10 for Ek Villain. Far from perfect, movie fails somewhat in exploiting its huge potential but actors trio and music makes it a very descent one time watch.
Holiday: A Soldier is Never off Duty. Akshay Kumar after a long time gets a meaty role where he is doing bone crunching action more than jaw breaking comedy. Captain Virat played effortlessly by Akshay is home on his holidays but finds himself at the center of a serial blasts scheme by a terrorist group. He takes the matter into his own hands and runs a one man army from start till end.
Movie works pretty well whenever it sticks to its central plot. Action scenes are very well cut and thrills embedded with firing dialogues makes it an interesting watch. What works in favor of the movie is the linear screenplay with not confusion around who is who. Sonakshi Sinha does well in her mandatory heroine role. Govinda in a listless cameo falls flat and seems totally out of the place in otherwise well knit story. Songs also do not help and interrupt in the thrilling fun. Songs and Govinda episode convert a two hours worth thrilling story into a two hours and fifty minutes entertainer. Sumeet Raghvan as Akshay’s dumb friend is good and evokes few light moments during thrills. Despite its evident flaws Holiday is consistently watchable because of Akshay Kumar. Confrontation scene in climax between Akshay and his counterpart played by Freddy Daruwala does satisfying end to growing tension.
I am going with strong 7 out of 10 for Holiday. After a long time you can enjoy Akshay doing what he does best.
How to Train Your Dragon 2. Being a sequel of a much loved movie, Dragon 2 walks on the tight rope of maintaining the fun quotient of Dragon 1 and providing some new fresh ideas which can make Dragon 2 memorable. Movie improves in the stunning imagery and usage of 3D effects considerably. Dragons’ flight scenes would be hard to forget especially by new kids in the audience. Characterization of humans and dragons both is done with much care. But it is hard to ignore the fact that fun quotient has been lowered and movie takes a darker way in second half in providing few key twists and turns. Burdened by high expectations, Dragon 2 falls short of being a milestone movie but dares to take new chances. The chemistry of our hero Hiccup and his dragon Toothless remains the strength of the story. I am going with generous 8 out of 10 for How to Train Your Dragon 2. It has its flaws but is very well saved by excelling in visuals and characters department. Watch it in 3D for full impact.
Lagaan. It’s not everyday affair when something like Lagaan happens. When Bollywood entered the new millennium, it was still craving for a turning point which takes Bollywood to international stage. Ashutosh Gowariker came with an idea which defies Bollywood norms by leaps and bounds, Aamir Khan is hooked by the idea as an actor and takes the risky decision of producing the movie on its own so that idea gets the much deserved heart felt treatment and what happened later is a history now. Lagaan year after year is considered the Bollywood’s bravest effort of the new millennium.
In its unbelievable plot where our hero a villager played by Mr. perfectionist Aamir Khan accepts the challenge of egoist British Commander Officer to play a cricket match in which if village wins, they need not to pay taxes for next three years. Even with a run time of 3 hours and 40 minutes, movie never gets out of steam, in fact gets better with every passing moment. An array of colorful characters played by credible actors, the mesmerizing music and back ground score of maestro A.R.Rahman, soulful lyrics of Javed Akhtar, a water tight screenplay with not a single out of the place scene and the genuine feeling of honesty and simplicity, all these factors make Lagaan an outstanding movie of modern times. First half is a smooth journey of introducing characters, the challenge, the team making and the match preparation. Second half is a like watching a nail biting cricket match. The movie is a perfect example that with full commitment and hard work, Bollywood can create the international level cinema with ease.
Lagaan turned out to be an inspiration for audience and its makes alike. After Lagaan, Aamir Khan appeared into Taare Zameen Par, Rang De Basanti and 3 Idiots. Ashutosh made Swades and Jodhaa Akbar. I am going with mind blowing 9 out of 10 for Lagaan. It’s a sin for any movies fan to miss Lagaan.