• Despite the hardcore and jumpscare violence, the so-so portrayal of mental illness and its consequences when it goes untreated, the eerie score played on repeat, great dialogues 90% of which are polished as punchlines, the brilliant backstory of the DC universe, and a charming performance (of a life time) by Joaquin Phoenix, Joker was an underwhelming crime drama for me. TN.

    October 09, 19
  • For a film titled War and which was released in India on the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi who advocated non-violence throughout his adult life, when you look closely into the plot, there’s not even a modicum of war element in the film. Everything that you see is what can be described as a precursor of a war (presumably between two differing nations), unless the makers want to heighten the stature of the hostility between the two soldiers and project it as war when it is merely an advanced form of paintball battle with disloyal teammates. Maybe that is it. TN.

    (Review originally appeared in the Little India Directory (Singapore).)

    October 06, 19
  • I don’t remember the last time I gave a film a full rating but I’m just positive about why A Death in the Gunj (A Death in the Echo) demands it from me. It’s simply a a fabulous film that takes its sweet time to unfold through its atmospheric appeal, set in remote Bihar and with a stellar cast you wonder how the director got them together, narrating the depressing story of a young, taciturn man with demons in his mind and loneliness on his face. More than anything – and this drama is about many things – the film highlights the influence people have on other people. The final five minutes took my breath away and I’m confident it will make you think about depression, extroversion, sex, and longing. Konkona Sensharma’s debut feature A Death in the Gunj is a masterpiece and easily one of my top 3 Hindi films of the 2010 decade. It’s crisp, it’s exotic, it’s fantastic. TN.

    October 02, 19
  • Khandaani Shafakhana (Family-Owned Sex Clinic) aspires to convey a good message (that of sex education to the masses (interior India)) but fails to do so because of its uninspiring screenplay, crass jokes (mainly by Varun Sharma), and a snail-paced narrative that takes the formulaic approach of a good-intentioned woman (Sonakshi Sinha) being assumed evil by the society for being ‘obscene’. For anyone who has been closely following Bollywood, this social dramedy will be reminiscent of other films in recent times chafing the same topic and it is just amazing how much you can predict what’s going to happen with the same prejudiced family members, the good Samaritan protagonist, his well-wishing stranger-turned-friend, and the evil corporations. Even Sinha acts like the way she has been acting since after her Dabangg (2010) days. There’s no novelty in Khaandaani Shafakhana save for its catchy name, and with that preachy undertone and mocking courtroom sequence at the end, it just adds to it being just below average. The content is good but just falls short of being handled with finesse and imagination. Badshah should probably stick to rapping. TN.

    October 01, 19
  • Blank is the type of movie that shows why a decent story needs a slightly more decent filmmaking (direction, writing, and performances) to come out as something that is remotely watchable for even the average audience, regardless of its theme and the X-factor. TN.

    September 16, 19
  • It will take a little extra patience from you but Hamid (given Urdu name) delivers as a heartwarming film about looking for closure in your personal life when things become difficult as does for this young school-going kid in this social drama who decides to take it up with god to find answers. TN.

    September 15, 19
  • In an attempt to take the story of the immortal assassin Baba Yaga ahead, John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum unleashes a flurry of tedious actions sequences that just do not end and makes the viewer go numb which is still not as worse as the lack of heroism available here to relish, the very heroism that made the first two films likable. TN.

    September 09, 19
  • There’s some real wisdom thrown around in Fakir of Venice (Monk of Venice), a story of a downtrodden building painter (Annu Kapoor) who is hired by an unscrupulous and opportunistic young man (Farhan Akhtar) to fake act as a religious ascetic from India as part of an art exhibition in Venice. The narrative introduction from the point of view of the man cements his character as snobbish as you are taken into the journey from India to Italy where the exhibitionists and connoisseurs fall for the grace of this monk who can stay trapped underground for hours at a time. Kapoor and his character steal the show as they shine light into the world of petty jobs in India and elsewhere in the world. “The world doesn’t let us work and live peacefully, does it?” quips a character when asked about why anyone would sleep under mud for a living and why there has to be a vigilant second person when someone does a stunt like that. A bit of self-reflection is also a part of Fakir of Venice as one of the character says, “I didn’t know dying would be so difficult,” but then the good points of the film comes to an end as the narrator goes on and on about why he did what he does, making you anxious with boredom. Looking at the Venetian locales is a treat but the lack of fluidity and coherence makes Fakir of Venice a film that should have stayed maybe even 10 more years back in time, in 1999. TN.

    September 07, 19
  • Nikkhil Advani’s Batla House gets repetitive as you move ahead following John Abraham’s gritty yet helpless cop character (bound by red tape) who uses his gut feelings and little investigation to go behind a bunch of students who might be terrorists. The problem with this film based on true events is that despite not wanting to it takes a stand at the end and that’s not the best way to produce a film based on true events especially when those events are still rife with debates. Nonetheless, the little bit of police procedural and action sequences are enough to keep you occupied in the first hour if you are a fan of Abraham, cop films, or the sound of gun shots ringing in your hear. Ravi Kisan steals the show with his 10 minutes of screen time, no doubt. TN.

    September 01, 19
  • There is an overlying sense of artificiality in the way Mission Mangal (Mars Mission) has been made, with abundant textbook techniques to mix comedy and drama into the proceedings of a vastly technical subject such as an organization’s attempt to send a satellite on the Martian orbit. It ends up as a series of cringe-worthy sequences. For a film that demands realism as the only single factor, Mission Mangal strays away from it right from the word go! as we see the actors fooling around in office and wherever they go. It’s a good idea by writer R Balki to refer home science as the solution to issues hampering space travel but the way they have been dramatized makes the discerning viewer coil in anger and disgust. Melodrama takes the limelight in the film that can be best characterized as a lackluster take on a historic feat, that only gets worse as you proceed watching it, eventually leading you to a specific scene where a gang of inebriated Isro scientists brawl in a metro car all of which reeks of self-righteousness. Mission Mangal is a mockery of the very subject that it pays homage to. There’s no reason to spend any money on this and I would instead recommend going through the Wikipedia page of the actual mission instead. TN.

    August 19, 19
  • Maybe it’s the London setting in the second half of Dil Juunglee (Heart Wild) that makes the romance appealing but there’s no way one call this ordinary tale of young love fresh or which lacks cliches. TN.

    August 16, 19
  • Hrithik Roshan shines in Super 30 despite his overtly off transformation into a mathematician from a poor family in Patna who goes on to develop an ingenious coaching program for Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) aspirants who are from the most marginal walks of life in the state of Bihar and which then takes a virulent turn (on its way making you emotionally weak and maybe even cry due to the sultry supply of motivational jump scenes) into a critique of one’s right to education in India and how good education is only possible for the rich, while not once attempting to focus on the basic theme of the film: teaching mathematics.

    August 12, 19
  • The artificial nature of Helicopter Eela which further translates into oversmart takes on college/teen life, single-mother-son relationship, and one’s quest a assuming a creative career makes you want to hate it. TN.

    August 12, 19
  • 5 Weddings is the perfect example of how bad filmmaking, bad concept, and an overall bad execution can eventually result in a messy, half-baked romantic drama about a PIO American landing in India to cover a bunch of weddings. TN.

    August 09, 19
  • As silly as it looks and really is, Happy Phirr Bhag Jayegi (Happy Will Run Away Again) manages to make you laugh thanks to inputs from Jimmy Shergill and Piyush Mishra, which is only second to the brilliant production design of its setting in China. TN.

    August 07, 19
  • There are a lot of things to watch and ponder about in Bharat yet none of them outsmart the final emotional message, which would have been delivered faster had Zafar not taken too long to get to the point. If you have the patience and some tissues for the tears that are bound to come even though artificially, Bharat will not just be a jingoistic, tear-jerking recipe. TN.

    August 04, 19
  • Satyameva Jayate (Truth Alone Triumphs) is a rehash of that old story about police loyalty and self-righteous fight against corruption that we have seen countless times in Bollywood itself, this time with a bit of extra family melodrama. TN.

    July 27, 19
  • Apart from the ounces of good comedy, what De De Pyaar De (Give Me Some Love) does is bust the tabooed topic of sex in India. It reduces it to an activity involving physical contact, which is how it should be, regardless of its attachment to a relationship or matrimony. I personally did not think I would find so much depth in a film presented by Luv Ranjan and I need to hand it to director Akiv Ali for really taking the comic film in that route. The plot is as insane as it sounds and has a convoluted structure but you get that idea even from its poster, so can’t blame anyone. Just looking at Devgn is funny enough for me, and I found Rakul Preet Singh a bit amateurish as the unruly character but I guess the script needed her to be. Overall, De De Pyaar De really gives you a lot of comedy to sit back at the end of a busy day and laugh at. TN.

    July 16, 19
  • There are a few scenes in Toy Story 4 that reminded me why I was so hyped when they released the first poster and why I now took the pains and spent the resources to grab an IMAX 3D ticket, but then it played out like an ordinary toy story (without the caps) that just lacks the panache and heart that the prequels had and which I dug. You know what is going to happen in Toy Story 4 and with a cliched plot line about a villain doll trying to earn the love of a human kid is all but unenterprising, it just reduces the faith I have in Pixar. Apart from a few funny scenes and the magnificent animation, this was a sheer disappointment. TN.

    June 29, 19
  • Kabir Singh is a movie that gives you adrenaline rush every time Shahid Kapoor’s arrogant and sexist and patriarchal character charges himself up because of a constant external stimuli in the film – anything and everything related to his love interest (Kiara Advani) whom he singlehandedly and forcibly makes fall in love with him, giving us one of those rare cinematic products in Bollywood that show how certain abusive relationships are born and extended without any influence of the barking society at large or the silent participants themselves. TN.

    June 29, 19