Movie Review: Gulabo Sitabo

The Coronavirus-induced lockdown has led to closure of cinemas. Since last three months, not a single star-studded film has released. But finally, GULABO SITABO is all set to be streamed on a digital platform from today and this flick has been noticed thanks to the pairing of Ayushmann Khurrana and Amitabh Bachchan. Moreover, it’s helmed by Shoojit Sircar, who has given memorable films like VICKY DONOR [2012] and PIKU [2015] with both the actors respectively. So does GULABO SITABO manage to be as memorable as the aforementioned films? Or does it fail to entice? Let’s analyse.

GULABO SITABO is the story of the rivalry between a tenant and a landlord. Mirza Chunnan Nawab (Amitabh Bachchan), 78, is married to Fatima Begum (Farrukh Jafar), who is nearly 17 years older to him. Begum owns more-than-a-century-old palatial mansion called Fatima Mahal in Lucknow, where she resides. But since she is quite old and also a bit delusional, Mirza takes care of the haveli. A part of Fatima Mahal is given to tenants, one of whom is Baankey Rastogi (Ayushmann Khurrana). Baankey’s family has been residing in the haveli as tenants since ages and Mirza now wants to drive Baankey and his family out since they are paying merely Rs. 30 as monthly rent. Mirza’s demand to increase the rent always meets with a stiff resistance from Baankey, further infuriating the former. In the absence of finances, Mirza is not even able to renovate the haveli and it’s in a completely dilapidated condition. The condition is so bad that a mere kick of Baankey leads to breaking of a toilet wall. Mirza demands that Baankey pay for the damages while Baankey makes it clear that maintenance is the responsibility of the landlord. The matter reaches the cops who tell them to take this dispute to civil court. At the police station, Gyanesh Shukla (Vijay Raaz) from the archaeology department overhears their commotion. He follows them and realizes that Fatima Mahal is a heritage property. He starts to click pictures secretly but Baankey catches him red-handed. Gyanesh however tells him and other tenants that the haveli is of heritage value and can also collapse anytime. He recommends that they allow Fatima Mahal to be handed over to their department who’ll then renovate it and convert it into a museum. In return, he’ll give them a decent-sized flat with all amenities. Mirza, on the other hand, meets a lawyer, Christopher Clarke (Brijendra Kala) who suggests that the former should sell off the mansion to solve the problems of the tenants once and for all. In the bargain, he’ll also get a handsome amount. However, it is Begum who owns the property and moreover, her siblings might also have ownership. As a result, Mirza sets off to find out who all from Begum’s side are alive and if they can give him a No-Objection Certificate over selling the mansion. What happens next forms the rest of the film.

Juhi Chaturvedi’s story is promising and novel. We have read and seen films about horrors faced by tenants. But landlord being unfairly harassed is also a reality and this is a rare film to focus on that aspect. Juhi Chaturvedi’s screenplay, however, doesn’t do complete justice to the concept. The film is laced with some interesting characters and setting and so much could have been done with them. Juhi, however, lets the opportunity pass. Juhi Chaturvedi’s dialogues are conversational and simple, with few of them being quite sharp and witty.

Shoojit Sircar’s direction is decent. He had a weak script in hand and hence, there isn’t much he could have done anyway. However, we have seen the charm of his execution in films like VICKY DONOR and PIKU. GULABO SITABO, too, is in the same zone but his direction leaves a lot to be desired. On the positive side, he captures the essence of Lucknow beautifully. On the big screen, experiencing it would have been interesting. He also extracts great performances from his actors. On the flipside, the humour is missing and it would have made a lot of difference. Also, a few developments are bewildering and this is especially with regards to the character of Mirza. On one hand, he’s supposed to be quite smart and money-minded, which made him marry Begum in the first place. But on the other hand, he’s also quite simpleton who didn’t even know the proper worth of the items he used to sell and even of the haveli in which he has been residing since many decades.

GULABO SITABO starts off on a decent note, introducing the characters (including the mansion), the relevance of the title and the world in which they reside. The background score and even the situations give the vibe of a comic caper but there are hardly any funny moments in the movie. It’s only when Mirza wakes up in the middle of street is when the film actually and finally gets a laugh-worthy sequence. Things thankfully get better from here as Gyanesh Shukla and Christopher Clarke get introduced and it adds a lot to the game of one upmanship between Mirza and Baankey. Though the film keeps one glued, one does miss something exciting or even funny to happen with the characters. That happens only in the last 10-15 minutes. The twist in the tale is definitely unpredictable and though it’s not entirely unconvincing, it ends the film on a great note.

Amitabh Bachchan delivers a smashing performance. His make-up is spot-on and the manner in which he gets totally into the skin of his character is seen to be believed. He makes an impact just through his expressions. In this regard, two scenes which really stand out are when he wakes up on the road and when he looks inquisitively as Vijay Raaz inspects the mansion. Ayushmann Khurrana also is quite entertaining but his screen time is less than that of Amitabh. This is the second consecutive time that Ayushmann has settled for an extended supporting role, after SHUBH MANGAL ZYADA SAAVDHAN [2020]. Farrukh Jafar has a significant role and leaves a huge mark. She in fact rocks the show in two key sequences in the second half. Vijay Raaz and Brijendra Kala are dependable as always. Srishti Shrivastava (Guddo) is quite confident. Others like Poornima Sharma (Fauzia), Annanya Dwivedi (Neetu), Ujali Raj (Payal), Sunil Kumar Verma (Mishra ji), Jogi Mallang (Munmun ji), Rajiv Pandey (Police inspector) and Behram Rana (Abdul Rehman) also do well.

Shantanu Moitra, Abhishek Arora and Anuj Garg’s music doesn’t have a shelf life. The theme music is catchy and works well. ‘Madari Ka Bandar’ is another song that in sync with the film’s theme. The rest of the songs like ‘Kuya Leke Aayo Jagme’, ‘Kanjoos’, ‘Budhau’ etc aren’t memorable at all. Background score is quirky and much better.

Avik Mukhopadhayay’s cinematography is excellent and captures Lucknow and especially the dilapidated mansion beautifully. Mansi Dhruv Mehta’s production design also adds a lot to the realism of the film. Same goes for Veera Kapur Ee’s costumes. None of the characters even remotely look glamorous and that goes in favour of the film. Pia Cornelius’s prosthetics make-up design is excellent and adds to the impact. Chandrashekhar Prajapati’s editing is passable. Though the film is just 124 minutes long, it seems quite slow.

On the whole, GULABO SITABO is a decent entertainer for home viewing. Despite the lack of humour and an average script, the film works majorly because of the performances, the Lucknow setting and the twist in the end.

Movie Review: Angrezi Medium

Education-based films might not seem like profitable ventures but over the past few years, several such films have tasted enormous success like SUPER 30 [2019], CHHICHHORE [2019] and HICHKI [2018]. And the film that started this trend in recent times was HINDI MEDIUM [2017]. The film was a runaway success thanks to its message, realism, humour and performances. And now producer Dinesh Vijan is back with a second part of this franchise, titled ANGREZI MEDIUM. The film has been awaited keenly mainly because it’s a comeback of sorts for Irrfan Khan, after he was diagnosed with a neuroendocrine tumour. So does ANGREZI MEDIUM manage to entertain and impress as much as HINDI MEDIUM? Or does it fail to impress? Let’s analyse.

ANGREZI MEDIUM is the story of unconditional love between a father and daughter. Champak (Irrfan Khan) is a single parent of Tarika (Radhika Madan) and is based in Udaipur. His brother is Gopi (Deepak Dobriyal) and though both have lot of love for each other, they are also involved in a legal tussle. Both run a shop named Ghasiteram Sweets and both claim to be the original shop running since generations. The matter reaches court where Justice Chheda (Zakir Hussain) gives a verdict in favour of Gopi. In a drunken state, Gopi later reveals that he bribed the judge which is why he won the case. Gajju (Kiku Sharda), a friend of the brothers, records this statement. Tarika, meanwhile, is an average student and wishes to win the scholarship offered by her school that will take her to London. She works quite hard and manages to get 85% and it makes her eligible for UK scholarship. A felicitation ceremony is held for this occasion. The chief guest here is none other than Justice Chheda. Champak, in anger, informs the crowd of the nefarious activities of Chheda, not realising that Chheda is the husband of the Principal of the school (Meghna Malik). The Principal, in anger, cancels Tarika’s scholarship. Champak promises Tarika that come what may, he’ll get her admission done, that too in the college of her choice in London. Sadly, Tarika fails to get the admission from other quotas. Gopi suggests Champak that they contact Bablu (Ranvir Shorey), their childhood friend who is settled in London. Bablu comes to Udaipur on a plane ticket sponsored by Champak. He tells Champak that he can help him get British citizenship after which Tarika can get admission easily. Champak, Gopi and Tarika reach London airport. Here, Champak and Gopi are mistaken for drug dealers. They are deported back to India while Tarika is stranded in London. What happens next forms the rest of the film.

Bhavesh Mandalia, Gaurav Shukla, Vinay Chhawall and Sara Bodinar’s story sounds interesting on paper. Their screenplay, however, doesn’t live up to the expectations. While the writers get the father-daughter bond right, the other tracks aren’t convincing and arguably, not even necessary. Bhavesh Mandalia, Gaurav Shukla, Vinay Chhawall and Sara Bodinar’s dialogues are decent and a few one-liners are witty.

Homi Adajania’s direction is decent. He gets brownie points for the scenes involving Champak and Gopi as these scenes and their performances elevate the impact. Also the scenes of Champak and Tarika at some places will be loved. The Indian audiences, especially the middle aged and senior citizens, would connect with the message of children often leaving them after turning adults. On the flipside, the film has too many subplots that are difficult to digest. Audiences will find it strange that Champak and Gopi are business rivals and even fighting it out in the court. But at the same time, they even drink and hang out together like best of buddies. Not just that, Gopi doesn’t even mind when Champak leaks his video where the latter brags that he bribed the judge! The manner in which Champak and Gopi get deported over a misunderstanding seems stupid. Tarika, meanwhile, gets settled in London and finds a job and house, even before her admission is done. She doesn’t ask Champak even once how they’ll manage to procure funds. Also the track of Naina and her mother Mrs. Kohli (Dimple Kapadia) seem totally unwanted. Audiences never come to know why they are at loggerheads.

ANGREZI MEDIUM starts on an average note, depicting the life of Champak and Tarika, and also the feud between Champak and Gopi. The latter part seems bewildering though as their love-hate relationship. A few scenes here stand out like a drunken Tarika accusing Champak of being intoxicated, the madness at the court and at the school ceremony. The father-daughter bond touches viewers. The intermission point is unconvincing. Post-interval, the film drops at places thanks to too many confusing developments and too many subplots. Thankfully, a few genuinely novel moments stand out here like Tarika turning her T-shirt into a crop top to fit in among her new London friends, Gopi tying Champak to his bed and Champak and Gopi rescuing Mrs. Kohli and later singing Happy Birthday song for her. Also the finale might leave viewers teary eyed.

Talking of performances, Irrfan Khan delivers a top-notch performance. He seems completely in form and ensures that he makes audiences laugh and moist eyed. Deepak Dobriyal too is superb and his chemistry with Irrfan saves the film to a huge extent. Radhika Madan has a fine screen presence and gives a fine performance. Her dialogue delivery, however, is difficult to comprehend at few places. Kareena Kapoor Khan looks great but is underutilised and same goes for Dimple Kapadia. Ranvir Shorey gets some scope in the second half and excels. Pankaj Tripathi (Tony) tries too hard but manages to raise laughs. Kiku Sharda is dependable. Zakir Hussain, Meghna Malik, Manu Rishi (Bheluram), Ankit Bisht (Anmol) and Manish Gandhi (Advait) are fine. Tillotama Shome (Counsellor) leaves a mark and deserved more screen time.

Sachin-Jigar’s music is disappointing. ‘Ek Zindagi’ works well as per the situation. The rest of the songs are forgettable. Sachin-Jigar’s background score is however quite better.

Anil Mehta’s cinematography is appropriate. Smriti Chauhan’s costumes are real and the transformation of Radhika once she moves to London is effective. Bindiya Chhabria’s production design is quite good. A Sreekar Prasad’s editing is nothing great and suffers because of loopholes in the script.

On the whole, ANGREZI MEDIUM works only because of Irrfan Khan and Deepak Dobriyal’s chemistry and also due to some touching moments. At the box office, HINDI MEDIUM’s goodwill and Irrfan’s comeback will ensure decent footfalls for the movie over the weekend.

Movie Review: Baaghi 3

Tiger Shroff has been in the industry since just six years but he has already become a force to reckon with thanks to his stylised and risky action stunts and a cool style. His fans have particularly loved him in the BAAGHI franchise. The first part, released in 2016, was a runaway success from day 1. BAAGHI 2 [2018] was an even bigger success, embarking upon a terrific opening [Rs. 25.10 crore] and lifetime total [Rs. 164.38 crore]. Hence, the expectations are tremendous from BAAGHI 3 where the action and scale has gone many notches higher. Interestingly, this time, Tiger’s character Ronnie is all set to battle an entire country! So does BAAGHI 3 manage to entertain and give the audiences a gala time? Or does it fail to impress? Let’s analyse.

BAAGHI 3 is the story of a man against a terrorist organization. Ronnie (Tiger Shroff) is the younger brother of Vikram (Riteish Deshmukh). Their father was a cop, Charan Chaturvedi (Jackie Shroff), who had died when both were young. Charan knew that Ronnie is braver out of the two and hence he made Ronnie promise that he’ll take care of Vikram. When they grow up, Vikram joins the police force at Lohamandi Police Station, Agra. On his first day of joining, a goon named Bajwa sets a person on fire inside Lohamandi Police Station premises. Bajwa’s senior IPL (Jaideep Ahlawat) comes to the rescue and the cops don’t press any charges. This is because IPL is a feared criminal by locals as well as the police. IPL’s main business is into kidnapping the entire families but he never asks for ransom. This has always baffled the cops. What the police doesn’t know is that IPL works for Abu Jalal Gaza, the leader of Jaish-E-Lashkar, the biggest terrorist organisation of the world. They operate out of Syria and have almost taken over the country. Back in Agra, the Lohamandi Police Station gets a kidnapping complaint. Knowing that it’s committed by IPL, they fear taking action. Hence, they decide to send Vikram as scapegoat. Vikram is terrified and he asks Ronnie for help. Ronnie accompanies Vikram at IPL’s factory, where the kidnapped people are held. Ronnie bashes up IPL’s goons by shutting off the lights. Everyone assumes that Vikram is the one responsible for beating them and for rescuing the hostages. He becomes an overnight hero. Vikram meanwhile gets married to Ruchi (Ankita Lokhande). Her sister is Siya (Shraddha Kapoor) and she starts dating Ronnie. Life is going good until the Ministry Of External Affairs sends Vikram to Syria. He’s given the responsibility of getting IPL arrested and facilitate his extradition process. It seems like a fairly easy task. Vikram reaches there and this is when he gets abducted by Abu’s men. With no other option, Ronnie now decides to go to Syria to rescue Ronnie. What happens next forms the rest of the film.

BAAGHI 3 is partly inspired from the 2012 Tamil hit film, VETTAI. Sajid Nadiadwala’s story adaptation is entertaining but stands on a weak plot. Farhad Samji’s screenplay (additional screenplay by Sparsh Khetarpal, Tasha Bhambra, Madhur Sharma) is only effective in the first half. There’s also a bit of novelty in terms of action and situations and that keeps the interest going. Farhad Samji’s dialogues are very entertaining and witty.

Ahmed Khan’s direction is average. He handles the scale and grandeur with panache. BAAGHI 2 focused more on nationalism but that isn’t the case here. There’s also a nice comment made on India-Pakistan brotherhood instead. Khan keeps the pace in control to ensure the film never drags. His direction is passable in the first half but in the second half, he slips. The biggest problem is that it doesn’t seem like Ronnie is against a country. Also, it wasn’t really a country that he is against. It is a township at best which the makers want audiences to believe is a ‘country’.

BAAGHI 3 begins on a bit awkward note. To show a kid Ronnie bashing up older kids violently, in a heroic style, doesn’t seem convincing. However, Chaturvedi’s death scene makes for a nice emotional moment. The entry of Siya is hilarious while that of adult Ronnie is too good and would be lapped up by fans. The scenes of Abu Jalal Gaza seem superficial but thankfully, the focus in the first half is on madness happening in Agra. And this makes for an entertaining watch especially how Ronnie is doing the bashing while Vikram taking the credit. The humour quotient is also nicely maintained. The scene where IPL’s men abduct Ronnie and the way the latter pretends to be scared is hilarious. And then there’s also an emotionally fulfilling scene involving Vikram and Tripathi (Virendra Saxena). The intermission point is when Vikram is taken away. One expects the film to go many notches higher especially with Ronnie reaches Syria. The introduction of Akhtar Lahori (Vijay Varma) also adds to the film. But from here, things get quite unconvincing especially the way Ronnie easily defeats the whole army of Abu Jalal. Zaidi seems tough but gets eliminated so easily and also foolishly. The climax has a twist that might be enjoyed by viewers.

Baaghi 3 | Public Review | Tiger Shroff | Shraddha Kapoor | First Day First Show

Talking of performances, BAAGHI 3 rests on the tough shoulders of Tiger Shroff and he pulls it off like a pro, as expected. The same also goes for his comic timing. And of course, his action is simply out of the world and in that regards, his fans will surely get their money’s worth. Shraddha Kapoor looks gorgeous and gives a decent performance. She goes a bit overboard in a scene or two but overall, she seems convincing as a foul-mouthed person. However, her screen time is very limited. Also, she plays an aggressive character and ideally, she should have been given a chance to indulge in action. Riteish Deshmukh plays his part well and also adds to the fun and madness. He would be loved in the climax. Interestingly, he did a similar role in his Marathi production MAULI [2018] as well which was also a partial remake of VETTAI. Ankita Lokhande gets limited scope but has a fine screen presence. Vijay Varma is highly entertaining. Jaideep Ahlawat suits the part and has a crucial role in the pre-climax. Jameel Khoury is okay as the villain but could have been more menacing. Shifuji Shaurya Bharadwaj (Mishra) is wasted. Virendra Saxena is dependable as always. Satish Kaushik (Commissioner Chatora) and Farhad Samji (Man in toilet) raise laughs. Manav Gohil (Asif), Shriswara (Hafeeza), Danish Bhat (Bilal), Ivan Kostadinov (Abu’s henchman), Sunit Morarjee (Sharad Kute), Amit Sharma (Bajwa) and Karan Singh (Zaidi) are fair. Jackie Shroff’s cameo contributes well to the film. Disha Patani is sizzling.

The music of BAAGHI 3 is decent. ‘Dus Bahane 2.0’ is a great remix and is played in the end credits. ‘Bhankas’ is well picturised. ‘Do You Love Me’ is passable; the situation demanded a fast-paced dance song. ‘Get Ready To Fight – Reloaded’ is played during action scenes. ‘Tere Jaisa Yaar Kahaan’ doesn’t work. Julius Packiam’s background score however elevates impact.

Santhana Krishnan Ravichandran’s cinematography is stunning not just in capturing Syria but also the action scenes.  Ahmed Khan’s action design and Ram Chella, Laxman Chella, Kecha Khamphakdee’s action choreography is splendid and keeps viewers engaged. The action gets a bit gory but a limit is maintained and visually looks great. Manini Mishra’s production design is topnotch. One can see that a lot of money has been spent in ensuring that the film looks like a top-class product. Aki Narula, Karishma Gulati and Ashish Sharma’s costumes (with styling by Tanya Ghavri) is appealing. Redefine, NY VFXWaala, Resonance Digital and Red Chillies.VFX’s VFX is more or less fine. Rameshwar S Bhagat’s editing is slick but in some places, it is needlessly jerky.

On the whole, BAAGHI 3 has a terrific combination of Tiger Shroff’s powerful performance, superlative action and stunning visuals. At the box office, it will surely appeal to its target audience – the Tiger Shroff fans and the audience in smaller town and cities who relish action entertainers.

Movie Review: Thappad

We are in the year 2020 but still, a lot of objectionable trends are sadly quite common. Violence against women, especially, continues despite progress of our country and growth in education and standard of living. Anubhav Sinha, whose 2.0 avatar has given us films on Hindu-Muslim unity [MULK; 2018] and caste discrimination [ARTICLE 15; 2019] now takes up this topic for his latest hard-hitting flick, THAPPAD. The trailer has already intrigued viewers because of its storyline and the association of Taapsee Pannu and Anubhav with this project. So does THAPPAD manage to be as impactful as Anubhav’s last two films? Or does it disappoint? Let’s analyse.

THAPPAD is the story of a woman fighting a tough battle. Amrita (Taapsee Pannu) is a housewife and is happily married to Vikram (Pavail Gulati) in Delhi. Vikram works in a reputed company and is desperately looking forward to an opportunity which will take him to London for work purposes. Amrita knows how much this means to Vikram. She loves him with all her heart and her entire life revolves around him and in attending to his mother, Sulochana (Tanvi Azmi). Thankfully for Vikram, he’s selected for the London stint. The same night, he throws a party in his house. All is going well until he gets a call from his superior, Thapar. He informs Vikram that he won’t be getting the desired profile that he’s looking for in London and that he’ll have to report to an authority there. This is not something that Vikram was initially assured. He confronts Rajhans, another superior of Vikram and who is present in the party. Things heat up between them and Amrita tries to pacify him. In the process, Vikram slaps Amrita. Her whole world comes crashing down. She tries to move on but is just not able to. Vikram shows regret when he realizes that Amrita has been hurt by his actions. He tries to console her but it doesn’t work for her. Amrita hence shifts to the house of her parents (Kumud Mishra and Ratna Pathak Shah). Vikram stops her and later even comes to take her back. But she doesn’t budge. Vikram then sends a legal notice to her. Swati (Naila Grewal), the girlfriend of Amrita’s brother Karan (Ankur Rathee), suggests that Amrita should show this letter to Nethra (Maya Sarao), a reputed lawyer and Swati’s boss. Nethra suggests that Amrita should solve this issue amicably. Amrita however doesn’t want to and she insists on a divorce. What happens next forms the rest of the film.

Anubhav Sushila Sinha and Mrunmayee Lagoo Waikul’s story is superb and applause-worthy. In a society where repeated acts of violence committed by husbands on their wives is fairly common, it requires guts to pull off a film where the woman has been hit just once by the husband and yet make it seem convincing. Anubhav Sushila Sinha and Mrunmayee Lagoo Waikul’s screenplay (script consultant: Anjum Rajabali) helps a lot in ensuring that the audiences get persuaded to agree with the vision of the team. They very well put out the situation and how patriarchy is deeply ingrained in our psyche, not just in case of men but also women. Anubhav Sushila Sinha and Mrunmayee Lagoo Waikul’s dialogues are acidic and sharp and add to the impact. Some of them simplify the proceedings but that goes in favour of the film. There are lot of one-liners that will surely hit viewers and make them reflect on their own wrongdoings.

Anubhav Sushila Sinha’s direction is superlative. He has not just penned a great script but he has even executed it very well. The world and mood is drastically different when compared to MULK and ARTICLE 15 but he understands it and does justice. Amrita’s predicament is well established and one is bound to get moved by her struggle, especially when even her family members fail to support her. There are also several subplots and most of them are well helmed and add to the principle plot nicely. There are a few scenes where he does a fine job like Shivani (Dia Mirza) hugging Amrita, Sulochana ignoring the slap and insisting that Amrita should attend to the guests, Amrita’s father scolding his son for misbehaving with Swati, Amrita’s mother Sandhya chiding for not getting support to continue her singing career, the confrontation between the lawyers etc. On the flipside, the second half seems dragging. The makers could have done away with the track of Sulochana living separately as it just added to the subplots needlessly. Additionally, they could have fine-tuned the track of the lawyer cheating on her husband. A section of audience might find the entire bit of Vikram not apologizing to Amrita difficult to digest. It’s strange that no one from his circle suggested that he should say sorry. It’s only in the pre-climax that this issue is raised in front of him.

Thappad | Public Review | Taapsee Pannu | Anubhav Sinha | First Day First Show

THAPPAD has an impressive beginning where all the supporting characters are introduced and the commonality is them having an ice-cream. Amrita’s introduction is superbly down. It does give one a déjà vu of Nishikant Kamat’s classic Marathi film DOMBIVALI FAST [2004] but it works very well here to depict what her day looks like. The highpoint is definitely the party sequence and the slap. After this scene, it might feel that the film is stagnating but those scenes are important to explain how Amrita’s life has changed drastically post the slap. The intermission point is great. Post-interval, the interest is maintained but this is where the film drags. One expects dhamaka when the parties come face-to-face but nothing of that sort happens. The confrontation is there and though it is sync with the film’s plot and mood, it might seem mild, especially those expecting some entertainment here. The film ends on a justified note.

THAPPAD has several excellent actors but it belongs to Taapsee Pannu without a shred of doubt. She has delivered several memorable performances and this one will surely be one of her most accomplished acts! She gets completely into the skin of character, making viewers forget of her earlier performances. You forget its Taapsee when you see her dutifully performing her housewife duties. Pavail Gulati makes a fantastic debut. He looks dashing and completely suits the part. Kumud Mishra is terrific. Anubhav Sinha always extracts a fine performance from him and THAPPAD is no exception. Ratna Pathak Shah is quite subtle and makes an impact. Same with Tanvi Azmi – her dialogue in the finale sums up the film in a way. Maya Sarao is a powerhouse of talent and is an actor to watch out for. She gets her act totally right, especially her body language. Geetika Vidya (Sunita) gets to play a memorable part and she kills it. Dia Mirza has limited screen time but it works. Gracy Goswami (Sania; Shivani’s daughter) has a fine screen presence and she dances nicely. Naila Grewal, Manav Kaul (Rohit Jaisingh), Ram Kapoor (Advocate Gujral) and Ankur Rathee are fair. Harssh A Singh (Thapar), Santanu Ghatak (Vikram’s colleague Subodh), Rohan Khurana (Nethra’s love interest), Sushil Dahiya (Vikram’s father), Siddhant Karnick (Vikram’s brother), Nidhi Uttam (Vikram’s sister-in-law) and the actor playing Rajhans also do a good job.

Anurag Dipali Saikia’s music doesn’t have much scope. ‘Ek Tukda Dhoop’ however has a nice, lingering effect. Mangesh Urmila Dhakde’s background score is magnificent. The initial sequences have a jazz style music that gives a nice touch. Soumik Sarmila Mukherjee’s cinematography is top-class. Vishakha Vidya Kullarwar’s costumes are appealing, especially the saree worn by Taapsee in the party. Jyotika Mirpuri Aroura’s make-up and hair is appropriate. Nikhil Kshipra Kovale’s production design is rich. Yashpa Pushpa Ramchandani’s editing could have been a tighter, but overall he has done a commendable job.

On the whole, THAPPAD makes a strong statement on patriarchy and violence against women and is laced with a powerful performance by Taapsee Pannu. At the box office, it will be loved and adored by its target audience – the womenfolk.

Movie Review: Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan

Over the last three decades, Bollywood has come up with quite a few films on homosexuality like FIRE [1996], MY BROTHER NIKHIL [2005], EK LADKI KO DEKHA TOH AISA LAGA [2019], ALIGARH [2016], MARGARITA WITH A STRAW [2015] etc. Aanand L Rai and T-Series are now all set to bring SHUBH MANGAL ZYADA SAAVDHAN and unlike other gay-themed films, this one is light-hearted and looks quite commercial. Moreover, it stars Ayushmann Khurrana, who has become a brand in himself. So does SHUBH MANGAL ZYADA SAAVDHAN manage to entertain? Will it succeed in becoming the first legitimate LGBT-themed hit film of Bollywood? Or does it fail to succeed? Let’s analyse.

SHUBH MANGAL ZYADA SAAVDHAN is the story of two men in love in Section 377 era. Aman Tripathi (Jitendra Kumar) is the son of Shankar Tripathi (Gajraj Rao) and Sunaina (Neena Gupta), who are based in Allahabad. Aman works in Delhi and unknown to his family, he’s a gay and is living in with Kartik (Ayushmann Khurrana). Jitendra’s cousin sister Goggle (Maanvi Gagroo) is getting married and Neena calls Aman to come back to attend her marriage. Aman at first refuses but then gives in. Kartik also joins him and they meet the entire Tripathi family in a marriage special train called Vivah Express. In the train, Aman and Kartik kiss when they assume that no one is looking. Sadly for them, Shankar sees them and he gets the shock of his life. He doesn’t tell anyone about it out of shame. At Goggle’s marriage, Aman, in front of everyone, kisses Kartik, thus astonishing the Tripathi family. Thanks to this development, Goggle’s to be husband refuses to get married. In anger, Goggle runs away. Kartik is asked to leave and Shankar’s brother and Goggle’s father Chaman (Manurishi Chadha) drops him off to Allahabad station. At the railway station, Kartik bumps into Goggle and stops her from ending her life. She tells Kartik that he shouldn’t run away and that he should fight for his love. This motivates Kartik and he decides to return to win over not just Jitendra but the entire Tripathi family. What happens next forms the rest of the film.

Hitesh Kewalya’s story is decent and had the potential to be a game-changer. Hitesh Kewalya’s screenplay however is a big culprit. Under the pretext of making situations funny, he resorts to too many difficult-to-digest situations. This was prevalent in SHUBH MANGAL SAAVDHAN as well but there, they kept a nice balance. Here, the balance is just not there. The first half is still decent. But in the second half, it all goes downhill. Hitesh Kewalya’s dialogues are witty but some of them are just over the top. It won’t be wrong to say that even the one-liners, which are supposed to be funny, take away the realism from the film.

Hitesh Kewalya’s direction is weak. The film has lot of subplots but he doesn’t put it together well. A major chunk of the film is about rift within the family and during such times, the principle homosexuality angle takes a backseat. Also, he should have succeeded completely in two aspects – comedy and messaging. Sadly in both these areas, he doesn’t do justice. Even the black cauliflower angle that provided laughs initially proved to be the biggest downer of the film in the climax. It gave a bad déjà vu of the ‘kala bandar’ angle of DELHI-6 [2009]. On the positive side, he handles few scenes with élan and some scenes genuinely raise laughs.

SHUBH MANGAL ZYADA SAAVDHAN’s starts off on a funny note and the subplot of black cauliflower appears hilarious. Devika’s (Bhumi Pednekar) scene too adds to the fun. The scene where Shankar Tripathi catches the lovers kissing brings the house down. Scenes like Aman kissing Kartik in full public view and Aman talking to his parents about dopamine and other such stuff keep the interest going. Post interval however, the film drops. The scenes are supposed to be funny but don’t make you laugh. Also it becomes too preachy and unconvincing. The makers try their best to make things interesting but it doesn’t work.

Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan | Public Review | Ayushmann Khurrana | Jitendra Kumar | First Day First Show

Ayushmann Khurrana shockingly is not in his usual form. He has always played the victim but here, he plays the instigator and an actor of his calibre should have hit the ball out of park. Shockingly, he goes overboard. The other bigger shocker is that his screen time is very limited. Believe it or not, Gajraj Rao has the maximum screen time followed by Jitendra and then comes Ayushmann! Gajraj Rao however is too good as always and performs as per the script. Jitendra Kumar fits the role to the T and few of his scenes in the first half are great. Neena Gupta is average. Manurishi Chadha and Sunita Rajwar (Champa) do justice to their respective parts. Pankhuri Awasthy (Kusum) is quite funny. Maanvi Gagroo raises few laughs. Neeraj Singh (Keshav) is decent. Bhumi Pednekar is passable while Gopal Dutt (Doctor in the train) is okay.

Music is peppy and gels with the film. ‘Pyaar Tenu Karda Gabru’ is the best followed by ‘Arey Pyaar Kar Le’, which is played in the end credits. ‘Ooh La La’ comes at a great point while ‘Mere Liye Tum Kaafi Ho’ is forgettable. The recreated version of ‘Kya Karte The Saajna’ sounds great but is not utilised well. Karan Kulkarni’s background score adds to the quirkiness of the film.

Chirantan Das’s cinematography is appropriate. Ravi Srivastava’s production design is in sync with the film’s setting. Ankita Jha’s costumes are realistic and special mention should go to Ayushmann’s look. Ninad Khanolkar’s editing is sans complaints.

On the whole, SHUBH MANGAL ZYADA SAAVDHAN is a decent attempt and makes an interesting comment on homophobia which exists in our country. At the box office, it has the chance to work with the urban audiences, especially the youth. However, it will be a challenge to bring in family audiences and the audiences from small towns and cities. The presence of Ayushmann Khurrana may give a boost to its collections.

Movie Review: BHOOT – Part One – The Haunted Ship

The horror genre has taken giant strides in the West and newer concepts have been experimented with to keep the interest going in the genre. Bollywood, however, has lagged behind. Most horror films still follow the template set by the game-changer RAAZ [2002]. But now, Karan Johar’s Dharma Productions is all set to present BHOOT: PART ONE – THE HAUNTED SHIP, and it promises to be a one-of-its-kind horror flick. Moreover, it stars Vicky Kaushal who has become extremely popular following the blockbuster success of his last film, URI: THE SURGICAL STRIKE [2019]. So does BHOOT: PART ONE – THE HAUNTED SHIP manage to scare the daylights of the viewers? Or does it fail to impress? Let’s analyse.

BHOOT: PART ONE – THE HAUNTED SHIP is the story of a man facing a scary situation while fighting the horrors of his past. The year is 2012. Prithvi (Vicky Kaushal) is a widower who has lost his wife Sapna (Bhumi Pednekar) and daughter Megha in a freak accident. He is depressed and is avoiding medication. In the midst of all this, an abandoned ship named Sea Bird gets stranded at Mumbai’s Juhu Beach. Prithvi works for a shipping company that is asked to take this ship back to the sea at the earliest. On his first visit to the ship, strange things occur and it makes him feel that the ship is inhabited. However he passes it off as his hallucinations and side effect of his state of mind. The subsequent visits however makes him sure that all this is not a figment of his imagination. During the third visit, he spots a girl at the hull of the ship. He also comes across log books and some video tapes dating back to the year 2001. As he sees the tapes, he realises that the captain’s wife (Meher Vij) and daughter Meera were also present on the ship. Gradually, Prithvi realises that the girl he encountered on the ship is Meera. He goes again to the ship and this time he comes face to face with Meera. But this time, she’s in a ghostly avatar. What happens next forms the rest of the film.

Bhanu Pratap Singh’s story is decent and could have made for a gripping scarefest. Bhanu Pratap Singh’s screenplay however is unimpressive overall. He gets the scare quotient right only in few scenes. Even in the main story, things are barely convincing. Bhanu Pratap Singh’s dialogues are passable.

Bhanu Pratap Singh’s direction is nothing great. He makes good use of his knowledge in creating a scary atmosphere. A few scenes are well executed. But most of the scenes fail to impress. Trouble begins in the first 15 minutes itself when a random couple is shown venturing into the massive ship undetected and playing hide and seek. The ship is ten storeys tall and this information is given by the makers themselves just few minutes before this scene. But no explanation is given how the lovers manage to climb atop the deck which is at such a height. This scene actually gave a clear indication that logic and common sense are not going to be the strong points of this film. And sure enough, the absurdities continue in the second half, especially the climax. Many questions are left unanswered and it is sure to baffle viewers when they come out of theatres.

BHOOT: PART ONE – THE HAUNTED SHIP begins on a fair note as Prithvi’s past and glimpses of the happenings on the ship in 2001 is depicted. The first half doesn’t have much of a story as such but it keeps you intrigued as the scary atmosphere is well created. A few jump scares also serve the purpose. The interval comes at a great point. Post interval, there’s some movement in the story and you actually get to know where the film is headed. Still, a few unwanted scenes are there, like Prithvi imagining that he’s talking to his dead daughter at the bank of a river. On the positive side, the scene in the church is excellent and one expects the film to go on a high from here. Sadly the climax is riddled with clichés and flawed developments that kill the joy completely.

BHOOT – Part One The Haunted Ship | Public Review | Vicky Kaushal | First Day First Show

Talking of performances, Vicky Kaushal is in good form. He looks very dashing and gets his act right, without going overboard in any scene. Bhumi Pednekar is decent in a cameo. Ashutosh Rana (Professor Joshi) is fine and gives one a déjà vu of his earlier performance in RAAZ. His character sadly gets a raw deal in the end. Akash Dhar (Riyaz) plays Prithvi’s best friend and has an important role. He is decent but again, he doesn’t have much to do later. Meher Vij has a superb screen presence but her performance suffers on account of bad writing. Sanjay Gurbaxani (Agnihotri) is average. The actor playing Amar looks a bit creepy which works well. The actors playing Meera and Megha do very well.

Akhil Sachdeva’s music has no scope. ‘Channa Ve’ is played in the opening credits. Ketan Sodha’s background score is horrifying and works. Pushkar Singh’s cinematography captures the mood very well. Aditya Kanwar’s production design is top-notch. The abandoned ship especially is well designed. Natashcha Charak and Nikita Raheja Mohanty’s costumes are realistic. Vikram Dahiya’s action is filmy and takes away the authenticity. Redefine’s VFX is first rate and adds to the horror factor. Bodhaditya Banerjee’s editing is dragging and could have been crisper. Ideally, this film shouldn’t have been more than 90 minutes long.

On the whole, BHOOT: PART ONE – THE HAUNTED SHIP suffers from a half-baked plot and a flawed narrative which leaves viewers confused. The end result is completely unconvincing, barring a few scenes that provide some chills. At the box office, it will be rejected by the audience. Disappointing!

Movie Review: Love Aaj Kal

11 years ago, Imtiaz Ali, fresh out of the super-success of JAB WE MET [2007], presented his next, LOVE AAJ KAL [2009]. It was a unique film for that time as it focused on not one, but two love stories, set in different eras. Also, lead actor Saif Ali Khan played the lover boy in both the tracks and that also ensured the film stood out. Director Imtiaz Ali now uses this idea once again in a film, which is also titled LOVE AAJ KAL. It features Kartik Aaryan and Sara Ali Khan and their chemistry has already become a talking point. So does LOVE AAJ KAL manage to be as excellent as its predecessor? Or does it fail? Let’s analyse.

LOVE AAJ KAL is the story that tackles the ever-changing dynamic of being in and finding love. Veer (Kartik Aaryan) and Zoe (Sara Ali Khan) are based in Delhi and they meet one night at a nightclub. Both attempt to get intimate but Veer backs off at the last minute. Veer however realises Zoe is special to him. He finds out that she works from a co-working space. He also lands up there. Zoe is at first irritated with him but she’s interested in him. Meanwhile, Raj (Randeep Hooda), the owner of the co-working space, witnesses their love blossoming in front of his eyes. Zoe shares her views with Raj that she wants to have a casual relationship and doesn’t want to get into a serious relationship so soon. At this, Raj begins to narrate his own story. This is a time when he was Raghu (Kartik Aaryan) and was a school kid in Udaipur. He is crazily in love with Leena (Arushi Sharma). She too falls for him and one day, both get caught. Her family asks her to move to Delhi. Raghu, madly in love, follows her to the capital city. He starts to work as a waiter. Zoe is enchanted to hear about Raj’s story. She decides to give love a chance. She gets a job offer from Dubai and she deletes the mail as she doesn’t want to be away from Veer. However, this is when Raj drops the bomb. He reveals to Zoe that Raghu breaks up with Leena as he turns into a playboy. This and her mother’s (Simone Singh) constant reminder that she shouldn’t sacrifice career for love gives her a jolt. What happens next forms the rest of the film.

Imtiaz Ali’s story is decent. The basic plot makes an interesting comment and if handled well, it could have made for a great romantic film. Imtiaz Ali’s screenplay however doesn’t do complete justice. A few scenes are very relatable as it talks about the complexities of today’s times. But on the flipside, it’s also quite unconvincing. Dialogues are a bit philosophical and could have been simpler yet meaningful.

Imtiaz Ali’s direction is not upto the mark. He gets a few things right. The use of graffiti on the walls and parallels being drawn between the two stories does impress. A few scenes are very well handled and bear his stamp. But there are times when one does wonder where the film is going. Some scenes don’t have the desired impact and even end up being unintentionally funny. He also leaves loose ends and a few subplots don’t get the logical conclusion. Imtiaz also doesn’t focus on backstories of his characters. This was something seen even with Shah Rukh Khan’s character in JAB HARRY MET SEJAL [2017]. In the case of LOVE AAJ KAL, Veer seems socially awkward and one doesn’t understand why that’s so.

LOVE AAJ KAL begins on a fine note as the characters of both eras get established. Yes, things do seem a bit off especially some dialogues and Veer’s behaviour and his body language. However the 90s track has a charm and keeps the interest going. One of the best scenes here is when Raghu and Leena have a romantic moment in the train. The twist in Raghu’s tale comes as a bolt from the blue. This bit particularly works because till now, it looks like a clone of Rishi Kapoor’s track from the old LOVE AAJ KAL. As a result, audience won’t see it coming. Trouble however starts from the interval point. Zoe’s outburst is weird. Post interval, the film does pick up when Veer comes to pick up Zoe. Also, the culmination of Raghu’s story is poignant. However, Zoe’s actions take the film down. The final scene is just okay.

ROFL: Kartik v/s Sara – 5 Second Challenge | Memes on Love Aaj Kal | Dating | Imtiaz Ali

Talking of performances, both Kartik Aaryan and Sara Ali Khan give their best shot. Kartik gets to do something different and excels. In a few scenes, he ups the humour quotient as well. His intense look is watchable. Sara too follows her director’s instructions to the T and in a few scenes, you do see her brilliance. However, her character is so weird that despite her best efforts, it comes across as a caricature. Randeep Hooda is dependable. But few of his scenes get repetitive after a point. Arushi Sharma is sweet and has a fine screen presence. Simone Singh is fair. Others do well.

Pritam Chakraborty’s music won’t stand the test of time like the previous LOVE AAJ KAL. ‘Haan Main Galat’ is catchy but played in the end credits. ‘Parmeswara‘ is wacky but audiences won’t be able to connect. ‘Dhak Dhak’, ‘Aur Tanha’ and ‘Shayad’ are fine. Ishaan Chhabra’s background score gels well with the film.

Amit Roy’s cinematography is quite great in some sequences. But in some close up shots, it is not upto the mark. Suman Roy Mahapatra’s production design is quite stylish, especially in present day portions. Aki Narula’s costumes are quite appealing, especially the ones worn by Sara and by Kartik in present day track. Aarti Bajaj’s editing is sans complaints.

On the whole, LOVE AAJ KAL is strictly for the youth and romantic at heart. At the box office, it will start on a positive note on the account of its novel cast and the festive (Valentine’s Day) period. The business will be decent across urban multiplexes while business at single screens may remain average.

Movie Review: Malang

The tiny state of Goa has been a great destination for our filmmakers over the years. Rohit Shetty has shot and based most of his films there. Besides, there have been films where Goa played an indispensable part like HONEYMOON TRAVELS PVT LTD [2007], DIL CHAHTA HAI [2001], KABHI HAAN KABHI NAA [1994], GO GOA GONE [2013], FINDING FANNY [2014] etc. Then there was DUM MAARO DUM [2011] which talked about the dark side and the drug mafia of this beach state. Now Mohit Suri futher explores this idea with loads of madness and romance in his style in his latest flick, MALANG. So does MALANG manage to entertain and appeal to its target youth audience? Or does it fail to impress? Let’s analyse.

MALANG is the story of love and revenge. Two tracks run simultaneously in the film. The flashback track shows Advait (Aditya Roy Kapur), with a disturbing family history, going to Goa for some fun. Here he bumps into Sara (Disha Patani) who has come to Goa from abroad to conquer her fears. Over drugs and running away from the police, they fall for each other. At first they decide to keep their relationship casual but things get serious. In the present day track, five years later, Advait has just got released from the jail. He’s now a killing machine with rage in his eyes. As soon as he’s out, he calls Inspector Anjaane Agashe (Anil Kapoor) and informs him that he’s about to commit a murder. Agashe takes it lightly at first but in no time, Advait kills a person, that too a police inspector named Victor (Vatsal Seth). Few hours later, he kills two more cops – Nitin Salgaonkar (Keith Sequeira) and Deven Jadhav (Prasad Jawade). All three work under Inspector Michael (Kunal Kemmu). He’s married to Teresa (Amruta Khanvilkar) and his marriage is on the rocks. He believes in following the law and faces trouble in solving the case with Agashe, who relies on committing encounters on the spot. Both get to work before Advait can kill anyone else. In the course of his investigation, Michael begins to follow Jessie (Elli AvrRam) who he believes is connected with the case. Meanwhile, Agashe comes face to face with Advait. The latter had the opportunity to escape but he doesn’t. He wilfully surrenders. What happens next forms the rest of the film.

Aseem Arrora’s story is decent. But it is a bhel puri of various films like EK VILLAIN [2014], MURDER 2 [2011], MARJAAVAAN [2019], RACE [2008] etc. Aniruddha Guha’s screenplay ensures most scenes don’t give a strong déjà vu of any film. There’s a lot happening in the film and the script is written in such a way that it does not bore the audience. Aseem Arrora’s dialogues are subtle but sharp and don’t go over the top in most places.

Mohit Suri’s direction is good. There’s a marked improvement from his previous films. There’s a lot of style in his execution that gives the film a fresh and a nice touch. There are lot of characters and subplots but he joins them seamlessly. Also, often, filmmakers go the psychedelic way while showing the effects of drugs on protagonists. This has become quite clichéd now and surprisingly, Mohit doesn’t go that route at all. A few scenes are very well handled, especially the present-day scenes. But on the flipside, some developments don’t work as intended whether it’s the love story or Michael’s dilemma. Even the backstory of Advait and Sara seems half-baked.

MALANG begins on a massy note. The one-take action scene is quite entertaining. The film then goes on a flashback mode showcasing Advait and Sara’s romance. It is interspersed with the present-day thrilling portions. A few portions here stand out like Agashe interrogating the African drug dealer (this is sure to raise tons of laughs), Agashe finding Nitin Salgaonkar and of course the intermission point. Post-interval, the flashback slows down the film a bit as one is more curious to see what happens once Advait is in the clutches of the cops. There’s a solid twist in the tale and though it comes as a shocker, it is also a bit convenient.

Malang | Public Review | Aditya Roy Kapur | Disha Patani | Anil Kapoor | Kunal Khemu | First Day First Show

Speaking of performances, each and every actor does fine. Aditya Roy Kapur is in great form. He looks very convincing as a fearless man with a vengeance who can take on dozens of goons. His acting in some crucial scenes could have been better but he manages. Disha Patani probably gets the most screen time ever. She looks gorgeous and delivers a heartwarming performance. Anil Kapoor provides the humour quotient. But his character is a lot more than just a funny man and the talented actor gets it just right. And he looks dashing! Kunal Kemmu’s character too has a lot of shades and he rocks the show. Elli AvrRam is decent at best. Her dialogue delivery could have been a bit better. Vatsal Seth, Keith Sequeira and Prasad Jawade are okay. Devika Vatsa (Vani Agashe) leaves a huge mark in a cameo.

The music of the film weak and a film like this ought to have super-hit music. The title track and ‘Hui Malang’ are the best of the lot and are well shot. ‘Chal Ghar Chalen’, ‘Bande Elahi’, ‘Humraah’ and ‘Phir Na Milen Kabhi’ lack repeat value. Raju Singh’s background score is dramatic.

Vikas Sivaraman’s cinematography is stunning and one of the best in recent times. Notice how the first scene (the long one-take shot) is captured and how sufficient care is taken not to show Aditya Roy Kapur’s face until the right time. Even the scenes of Goa and Mauritius are captured with perfection. Vintee Bansal and Sidhant Malhotra’s production design is a bit theatrical but works. Ayesha Dasgupta’s costumes are super stylish, especially the ones worn by Aditya Roy Kapur, Disha Patani and Anil Kapoor. The manner in which Anil wears his police shirt on a T-shirt and keeps it unbuttoned makes a unique style statement. Aejaz Gulab’s action is not too gory and seems realistic. NY VFXwaala’s VFX is fine. Devendra Murdeshwar’s editing is simplistic.

On the whole, MALANG is high on style with good performances and thrilling moments but has an average storyline. At the box office, it only has the advantage of a clear one-week window and will therefore do average business.

Movie Review: Jawaani Jaaneman

Saif Ali Khan excels in all kinds of roles but his role of a cool dude in light-themed films has been a favourite for many moviegoers. He played such characters in several memorable films like HUM TUM [2004], SALAAM NAMASTE [2005], LOVE AAJ KAL [2009] and got immense praise. Now the actor is back in this space after a hiatus with JAWAANI JAANEMAN. It’s a special flick as it’s the first production under his new banner, Black Knight Films. So does JAWAANI JAANEMAN emerge as a fine piece of entertainer? Or does it fail to impress? Let’s analyse.

Movie Review: Jawaani Jaaneman

JAWAANI JAANEMAN is the story of a 40-year-old playboy whose life suddenly turns upside down. Jassi aka Jazz (Saif Ali Khan) is in his 40s and is based in London. He’s single and in no mood to commit. By profession, he’s a real estate broker and works with his brother Dimpu (Kumud Mishra). But he spends most of his time partying and getting involved with girls. He is also about to seal a redevelopment deal that will make him the biggest broker in London. Life is going great for him until one day he meets Tiya (Alaya F). At first he flirts with her, with the ultimate aim to take her to bed. However, she drops the bomb that she might be his daughter! To make matters worse, the DNA test confirms that they are related. And that’s not all. It also comes to light that Tiya is pregnant! So Jazz finds out that he’s not just someone’s father but also to-be grandfather! What happens next forms the rest of the film.

JAWAANI JAANEMAN is a remake of an Italian film. The plot is promising and could have made for a hilarious and touching entertainer. The screenplay however is inconsistent and weak at many places. Only some scenes work and provide laughs. Hussain Dalal and Abbas Dalal’s dialogues are witty and try their best to enhance the impact.

Nitin Kakkar’s direction is average. He doesn’t keep the flow of the film organic. Some developments happen suddenly, be it Jazz developing feelings for Rhea (Kubbra Sait) or Jazz asking Tiya to shift in his house. These scenes are still digestible. But a scene in the second half where a local randomly accuses Jazz of cheating him in a property deal comes out of nowhere. Till now, viewers knew Jazz as a lazy worker but not someone who is deceitful. Hence, this revelation seems bizarre. On the positive side, he gets the emotion and humour right in some scenes. Also, he keeps the duration in check (119 minutes).

JAWAANI JAANEMAN starts off on an okay note as the viewers get introduced to Jazz and his playboy lifestyle. The film gets interesting once he gets Tiya home and she reveals the truth. It makes for a hilarious watch. Another memorable scene in the first half is when Jazz and Tiya meet Dr. Kriplani (Kiku Sharda). One expects lot more to happen but story just doesn’t move then. The intermission point is a bit awkward. Post interval thankfully there’s some movement in the story. But now the film drags. Also, the impact is weakened by property deal track. What brings some respite is the track of Ananya (Tabu) but even that loses fizz soon. The final scene of the film is heartwarming.

Jawaani Jaaneman | Public Review | Saif Ali Khan | Alaya Furniturewalla | Tabu | First Day First Show

Saif Ali Khan is completely in his element and entertains thoroughly. Such kind of a role suits him to the T and he constantly tries to rise above the script. Alaya F makes an excellent debut and puts up a confident act. She looks gorgeous and is the only actor who moves viewers to an extent. She has a promising career ahead. Tabu has a late entry but raises loads of laughs. But her character has no emotional arc. Chunky Panday (Rocky) doesn’t have much to do initially. He has a crucial scene in the second half in the hospital but it doesn’t work. Kubbra Sait is adorable and one wishes to see more of her. Kumud Mishra is dependable. Kiku Sharda is funny. Dante Alexander (Rohan) is over the top, as per the character’s requirement. Rameet Sandhu (Tanvi) leaves a mark. Farida Jalal (Jazz’s mother), Shivendra Singh Mahal (Jazz’s father) and Diljohn Singh (Grover) are okay.

Songs are all forgettable. ‘Ole Ole 2.0’ gets registered a bit as it’s a popular tune. ‘Gallan Kardi’, ‘Bandhu Tu Mera’ and ‘Mere Baabula’ don’t work. ‘Jinhe Mera Dil Luteya’ is played in the end credits.  Ketan Sodha’s background score is sans complaints.

Manoj Kumar Khatoi’s cinematography is pleasing. The locales of London are well captured. Urvi Ashar Kakkar and Shipra Rawal’s production design is superior. Sanam Ratansi’s costumes are quite glamorous and all the actors in the film look great. Sachinder Vats’s editing (additional editing by Chandan Arora) jumps at places.

On the whole, JAWAANI JAANEMAN boasts of fine performances by Saif Ali Khan and newcomer Alaya F. But the direction is weak and emotionally, the film doesn’t work. At the box office, it will be a tough ride for the flick considering the lack of buzz.

Movie Review: Panga

A small track in Priyanka Chopra-starrer MARY KOM [2014] dealt with the protagonist returning back to boxing after motherhood. It gave a nice insight of what women go through when they make a comeback in sports after giving birth and how it’s tough for them not just physically but more so, mentally. Now Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari, of NIL BATTEY SANNATA [2016] and BAREILLY KI BARFI [2017] fame, takes this aspect as a central idea for her next film, PANGA, starring Kangana Ranaut in the leading role. So does PANGA manage to touch as well as entertain? Or does it fail to entice? Let’s analyse.

Movie Review: Panga

PANGA is the story of a mother trying to fulfil her dreams. Jaya Nigam (Kangana Ranaut) is a pro at Kabaddi. She slowly rises and also becomes the captain of the Indian Kabaddi team. She is meanwhile married to Prashant (Jassie Gill) and gets pregnant just before she is to go for a major tournament. She still assures her seniors that she’ll be back soon. However, her son is born prematurely and with a very weak immune system. The doctor informs that they’ll have to take care of the baby tremendously and only then will he have a normal growth. Jaya hence gives up her dream. She takes up a job in the railways and divides her time between her work and raising her son Adi (Yagya Bhasin). 7 years pass. Jaya is finding it difficult to fulfil the responsibilities expected from her. Moreover, she meets Meenu (Richa Chadha), who was in Jaya’s team and still plays Kabaddi. One day, Adi suggests that his mother should make a comeback in Kabaddi. He persuades Prashant and both begin nag Jaya. Jaya is unsure as she feels she has grown old and is not that fit. Prashant suggests that Jaya should pretend to make comeback and a month later, she can claim that she didn’t get selected. Jaya hence begins her practice. At first, it’s difficult for her but soon, she gets enthusiastic about the whole process. After a long time, she realises she is finally living her life. Two months pass and one day, she tells Prashant that she wants to continue practicing and try to get into the Indian team. What happens next forms the rest of the film.

Divya Rao’s research and concept is fairly nice and simple. The story has a lot of potential and also it’s a bit unique. We have had sports films in the past but a film on a mother making a comeback hasn’t been tackled as a main plot. Nikhil Mehrotra and Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari’s screenplay (additional screenplay by Nitesh Tiwari) also retains the simplicity and relatability. The writing is peppered with some entertaining moments that keep the interest going. On the flipside, it could have been tighter, especially towards the second half. Also, the film gives a heavy déjà vu of DANGAL [2016]. Nikhil Mehrotra and Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari’s dialogues (additional dialogues by Nitesh Tiwari) are one of the highpoints. Some of the one-liners, especially the ones uttered by the child actor, will bring the house down.

Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari’s direction is good. It’s evident that her own personal experiences have also seeped in the film. A few sequences are very deftly handled. The finale especially is too good and would be greeted with claps and whistles. The beauty of it is that you know what’s going to happen and yet, you can’t help but feel exhilarated when it unfolds. Also, to see the way Jaya gets the support of her husband, her son, her mother, her bestie and even her neighbour is quite heartwarming and would be loved by female audiences especially. On the flipside, except for the ending, the predictability of the script does affect the impact along with the long length. Jaya’s flashback doesn’t really make it clear that she had achieved such heights of stardom. Also, Prashant seemed sad when Jaya announces her plan to do a comeback but it wasn’t the case, as revealed later on. This bit was bewildering and could have been done away with or handled better.

PANGA has a fine commencement showing the small town life with the focus on Jaya’s family and their day to day activities. A lot happens in the first half – Meenu coming back into her life, Jaya missing the sports day, Jaya getting reprimanded by Adi, Jaya’s flashback and Jaya’s practise session. The first half surprisingly is just 51 minutes long. The post interval portion, however, is almost 1 hour 18 minutes in duration and could have been shorter. It’s touching to see how Jaya balances between her passion and her family and also the politics that happens over the selection of the team. But the pace of the film is slow here and also, the training session is stretched. Jaya not getting to play for most of the matches also gets a bit repetitive. Thankfully, the climax is powerful which helps the film end on a high note.

PANGA rests on Kangana Ranaut majorly, though others also do well. The actress, as always, delivers a smashing performance and not even for a single second, does she go off character. As Jaya the mother, she’s quite adorable and convincing. And even as Jaya the player, she is effortless. Jassie Gill lends able support and his character will be loved. But he grins a bit too much, especially in the flashback portions, and it makes him look a bit of a caricature. Yagya Bhasin is a rockstar. He gets to play a great part and he uplifts the mood of the film in many places. Richa Chadha is credited as a special appearance part but she has a major role to play. She too contributes a lot to the film, not just in terms of comedy, but also in terms of much-needed moral support to Jaya. Megha Burman (Nisha Das) has a late entry but leaves a huge mark. Neena Gupta (Jaya’s mother) is passable. Rajesh Tailang (Indian national coach) is good and is an actor to watch out for. Smita Dwivedi (Smita Tambe, team captain), Kusum Shastri (Jaya’s neighbour), Sudhanva Deshpande (Indian Railway coach) and Shantanu Das (Eastern Railway coach) are decent.

Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy’s music is soulful but is not memorable at all. ‘Bibby Song’, the title track and ‘Jugnu’ are okay while ‘Dil Ne Kaha’ and ‘Wahi Hain Raste’ are forgettable. Sanchit Balhara and Ankit Balhara’s background score is subtle but rightfully loud in the scene where Adi tells Prashant that Jaya should make a comeback.

Jai I Patel’s cinematography is fine in the crucial Kabaddi scenes but in a few scenes, its quite in-the-face. Sandeep Meher’s production design is straight out of life. Rushi Sharma, Manoshi Nath and Bhagyashree Rajurkar’s costumes also add to the authenticity. Special mention should also go to Sunita Vishwas Rao (Kabaddi co-ordinator), Gauri Wadekar (Kabaddi Coach and choreographer) and Abdul Salam Ansari (Kabaddi action director) for making the Kabaddi scenes look so rich and real. Ballu Saluja’s editing should have been slick.

On the whole, PANGA is a progressive and touching sports drama that works thanks to its plot, execution, some fine moments and of course the superlative performance of Kangana Ranaut. At the box office, it faces tough competition from STREET DANCER 3D and also the holdover release TANHAJI: THE UNSUNG WARRIOR and hence it’ll need a strong word of mouth to succeed.

Movie Review: Street Dancer 3D

Dance films have been a rage in the West and in Bollywood, this genre got an establishment thanks to ABCD – ANY BODY CAN DANCE [2013]. Directed by Remo Dsouza, it starred unknown faces and yet fetched a decent opening and did good business at the box office. The series got a boost as the second part, ABCD – ANY BODY CAN DANCE – 2 [2015] starred Varun Dhawan and Shraddha Kapoor and was a Rs. 100 crore grosser and the first such film for both the actors. Now Varun, Shraddha and Remo join hands once again for STREET DANCER 3D, which is also in the same zone as the ABCD films. This time, they promise to take the dance and madness many notches higher. So does STREET DANCER 3D manage to fulfil the expectations? Or does it fail to impress? Let’s analyse.

Movie Review: Street Dancer 3D

STREET DANCER 3D is the story of two warring groups uniting for a larger cause with the backdrop of dance. Sahej (Varun Dhawan) is an Indian origin British resident based in London with his family. He and his brother Inder (Punit J Pathak) are a part of a dance group called Street Dancers. Inder had participated in a globally reputed dance performance called Ground Zero. Sadly, in the final act of his dance performance, he gets injured and breaks his knee. Two years later, Sahej travels to Punjab, India for a wedding. He returns with lot of money which he uses to buy a dance studio. He tells Inder that he got this money by performing back home. Sahej reunites the Street Dancers gang and they begin their street dance performances. In the same locality, another dance group resides called Rule Breakers. They are of Pakistani origin and comprise of Inayat (Shraddha Kapoor), Zayn (Salman Yusuff Khan) among others. Their dance is quite superior and both groups often get into tussles. Sahej realizes that Street Dancer group has to get their dance moves right. He takes the help of Nora (Nora Fatehi), a dancer in a British dance group called The Royals and also his girlfriend. She improves the dance of the group. Street Dancers and Rule Breakers often assemble at a restaurant run by Prabhu Anna (Prabhudheva) to watch the India vs Pakistan cricket match. One such time, they get into a fight and attack each other with food. They stop only when a cop (Murli Sharma) intervenes. While leaving from there, Inayat notices suspicious looking men entering from the back door of the restaurant. During her next visit, she again witnesses it and this time, she enters the same entrance and confronts Prabhu. At this, Prabhu reveals that these men are illegal immigrants from the Indian subcontinent and that he gives them leftover food. Not just that, he packs all the leftover dishes and distributes them to a colony housing illegal immigrants. Inayat is moved with this gesture. Meanwhile, the Ground Zero competition is announced again and the prize money is staggering. Inayat informs the Rule Breakers about the plight of the immigrants. They all decide that if they win Ground Zero, they’ll use the prize money to help these people return back to their country. Street Dancers too decide to participate in Ground Zero. Prabhu Anna advises both the groups to unite as that’ll help them win. What happens next forms the rest of the film.

Remo Dsouza’s story is not novel. A few developments are fine but predictable. However, Tushar Hiranandani’s screenplay (additional screenplay by Jagdeep Sidhu) is quite entertaining and very simple. It’s easy to comprehend what’s going on despite so many characters and so much of dance happening. A few dramatic sequences especially are well scripted. Farhad Samji’s dialogues (addtional dialogues by Jagdeep Sidhu) work well but one expects a lot from this talented writer especially some witty one-liners.

Remo Dsouza’s direction works for most parts. The dance sequences, obviously, are handled well. He excels especially in the confrontational sequences be it Mac (Francis Roughly) assaulting Poddy, Poddy-Sahej’s fallout, Sahej’s emotional moment with his brother Inder in the second half and Sahej’s speech in front of Inayat’s family. On the flipside, the film is a bit too long at 143 minutes. The first half, particularly, could have been shorter. Also, one wishes if some of the developments were backed by logic. It is bewildering why Amrinder (Aparshakti Khurana) and his friends blame Sahej for their bad experience in London. It was Amrinder and his pals who were behind Sahej in Punjab and they literally forced him to take them to London. So Sahej should not have felt responsible and guilty for their miserable condition. A similar illogical development can be seen in the climax. Thankfully, the film has many other plusses that compensate for these minuses.

STREET DANCER 3D begins on a visually stunning note. The introduction piece is well shot and thought of and instantly sets the mood. The introduction of Inayat is quite fun while Nora’s entry will surely soar the temperatures in this cold weather. Nothing much then happens till a point. It’s only when Sahej narrates his Punjab experience to Poddy (Raghav Juyal) that the interest lifts again. The intermission comes at a fine juncture. Post-interval, the film drops again but a nice plot point is added here when Sahej breaks off from Street Dancers. This track works well. The immigration bit is touching but logically flawed and that affects some impact. But the film has lot more to impress. The semi-final sequence is sure to be greeted with claps and whistles. The climax has enough drama and entertainment to keep viewers hooked. The film ends on a touching note with a montage of the SWAT (Sikh Welfare & Awareness Team) and their noble work in London.

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Talking of performances, Varun Dhawan as always is quite entertaining and has a terrific screen presence. And he looks dashing. Shockingly, in comparison to Shraddha Kapoor and Nora Fatehi, he pales when it comes to dance. Shraddha Kapoor looks like a million bucks and is a treat to watch. Her screen time is a bit limited however in the second half. Also, one wished to see some sort of romance between the two as that would have made their fans happy. Nora Fatehi has a very small role but it’s very crucial and it’s bigger than her part in BATLA HOUSE. She is smoking hot and her entry scene is the best out of all actors! Aparshakti Khurana is great and makes sure that he doesn’t go overboard. Prabhudheva is effortless. His dance part appears late but once it does, it takes the film to a high! Punit J Pathak is memorable. The rest of the actors playing the dancers like Salman Yusuff Khan, Raghav Juyal, Dharmesh Yelonde (D), Sushant Pujari (Shushi), Caroline Wilde (Alisha) etc do well. The rest of them are also quite good and dance well but don’t get registered much. Francis Roughly is fine in a sort of villainous role. Zarina Wahab (Amarinder’s mother), Murli Sharma and Manoj Pahwa (Chabda) are passable. Others are good.

There are almost 10-11 songs in the film and most of them thankfully are well choreographed and make an impact. ‘Muqabla’ is the best of the lot and single-screen cinemas especially will go in a frenzy! ‘Mile Sur Mera Tumhara’ comes next best followed by ‘Bezubaan Kab Se’, ‘Pind’ and ‘Garmi’. ‘Gann Deva’ seemed forced while ‘Suno Gaur Se Duniya Walo’ is missing in the film. ‘Dua Karo’ is moving and is well shot. ‘Illegal Weapon 2.0’, ‘Lagdi Lahore Di’ and ‘Nachi Nachi’ are okay.  Sachin-Jigar’s background score is a bit loud but is in sync with the film’s mood.

Kruti Mahesh, Rahul Shetty and Tashan Muir’s choreography is one of the highpoints. Each and every dance piece is novel and visual treat. Vijay Kumar Arora’s cinematography (Punjab schedule shot by Tushar Kanti Ray) is sans complaints and the dance scenes especially are beautifully captured. Tanvi Leena Patil’s production design is appealing. Costumes are quite sexy especially the ones worn by Varun (Aki Narula), Shraddha (Tanya Ghavri) and Nora Fatehi (Jerry Dsouza). Post House Studios’ VFX has played a major role here. The slow motion and light effects especially enhance the impact. Even the 3D is a treat to the eyes. Manan Ajay Sagar’s editing is good for most parts but could have been more tighter.

On the whole, STREET DANCER 3D is a terrific combination of rich visuals, amazing choreography and strong emotions. At the box office, it will appeal to its target audience – the youth and is most likely to enter the 100 crore club.

Movie Review: Jai Mummy Di

Filmmaker Luv Ranjan has launched quite a few actors, most notable among them being Kartik Aaryan. He casts them repeatedly and few of them have hit the bullseye at the box office as well. He turned producer with the 2018 super-hit flick, SONU KE TITU KI SWEETY, also directed by him. He had another hit film in 2019 in the form of DE DE PYAAR DE. In 2020, his banner Luv Films will be releasing as many as 3 films, and the first one to come out is JAI MUMMY DI. It is a long-delayed film but looks fresh and has the Delhi flavour in abundance, which gives it a chance to excel in North India. So does JAI MUMMY DI manage to be as entertaining as other Luv Ranjan films? Or does it fail to entice? Let’s analyse.

Movie Review: Jai Mummy Di

JAI MUMMY DI is the story of two lovers whose mothers are sworn enemies of each other. Delhi-based engineering students, Puneet Khanna (Sunny Singh) and Saanjh Bhalla (Sonnalli Seygall), are in love with each other. Saanjh proposes to Puneet but the latter declines. He too wants to settle down with Saanjh but is afraid of his mother. That’s because Puneet’s mother Laali (Supriya Pathak) and Saanjh’s mother Pinky (Poonam Dhillon) hate each other a lot. Interestingly, they were the best of friends at one point and moreover, they reside next to each other. But they can’t stand each other’s sight. And Puneet is too scared to break the news that he’s in love with the daughter of her ‘enemy’. In anger, Saanjh breaks up with Puneet. She starts looking for suitable groom for marriage and even approves of Dev (Bhuvan Arora). Their marriage is fixed for October 16 at Diamond Hall in Noida. When Puneet’s mother Laali finds out that Pinky has managed to lock her daughter’s wedding, she feels jealous. Not wanting to be left behind, she quickly selects a girl for Puneet, Sakshi. What’s more, Puneet and Sakshi’s marriage is also set on October 16 and that too in Diamond. Meanwhile, Puneet and Saanjh realize that they won’t be able to stay happy with anyone else but each other. Hence, they patch up and think of ways to bring their respective mothers together. When nothing works, they decide to elope and get married. What happens next forms the rest of the film.

Navjot Gulati’s story rests on waferthin plot. But it’s a great idea and could have made for a fine entertainer. But Navjot Gulati’s screenplay plays spoilsport in a major way. The film is laced with poorly written sequences and not-so-funny moments. Also, the flow of scenes is not smooth. Navjot Gulati’s dialogues also add to the negative impact. Barring a few one-liners, the rest of it doesn’t have the desired impact.

Navjot Gulati’s direction is terrible. With the script, he already made a mess, but he could have covered it up with his direction. Sadly, even his execution is very bad. The film never goes on a high or goes into the funny zone, which it ideally should have. And it’s really fortunate since the concept had the promise to go all out. And the climax sadly is very thanda as one expects some major confrontation and eventual patch up. The worst is reserved for the very final scene and it totally takes the film down.

JAI MUMMY DI begins on a very awkward note, to explain the enmity between the two women. The scene may have looked interesting on paper but translates poorly on screen. The song ‘Mummy Nu Pasand’ ups the interest but it goes downhill in no time. A few scenes are bewildering. For instance, why Pinky also follows suit and shifts to Ghaziabad, that too next to Laali’s residence. The humour quotient in the film is very less and half of whatever is there doesn’t work. Ideally, any other worthy director or writer would have shown the lovers going to insane lengths to bring their mothers together and how it causes madness in the process. Here, the lovebirds hardly do anything of that sort. The intermission point tries to be dramatic but doesn’t work. Post-interval, the film keeps getting repetitive and it tests the patience of the viewers. This is despite the 105 minutes of runtime. One can’t just wait for the mothers to find out the truth and patch up. Finally, it happens in the end but ideally, it should have taken the film to a high. But nothing of that sort happens. The most disappointing bit of the film however is the reason why Laali and Pinky started fighting in the first place.

PAISA VASOOL: Sunny Singh Nijjar v/s Sonnalli Seygall – Bollywood ‘ROM-COM’ Quiz | Jai Mummy Di

Talking of performances, Sunny Singh suits the part. His acting is nothing great but he manages to pull through the role nicely. Sonnalli Seygall gets to show her acting chops. In PYAAR KA PUNCHNAMA 2 [2015], she got overshadowed by other actors. But here, the focus is majorly on her, especially in the first half, and she does fine. Supriya Pathak and Poonam Dhillon are strictly okay. Shockingly, the film ideally should have revolved around them but they don’t get the screen space that they deserve. Rajendra Sethi (Trilochan Khanna) and Danish Husain (Gurpal Bhalla) are nothing great. Veer Rajwant Singh (Vineet) is however good as Puneet’s brother. Alok Nath (Sanjog Luthra) is wasted. It’s bewildering why he was even there in the film. Bhuvan Arora is the funniest part of the film. The actor playing Sakhi is passable. Neeraj Sood (Jasbir Bhullar) is good as always. Nushrat Bharucha, Ishita Raj and Varun Sharma do well but their cameos come at a time when the viewers are tired of the film already.

Songs are forgettable, except ‘Mummy Nu Pasand’, which is catchy. ‘Manney Ignore Kar Rahi’ comes immediately after this track and doesn’t work. ‘Dariyaganj’, ‘Ishq Da Band’ and the title track also don’t manage to register. ‘Lamborghini’ is played in the end credits. Hitesh Sonik’s background score is entertaining but it doesn’t complement the scenes.

Sanket Shah’s cinematography and Tarpan Shrivastava’s production design are appropriate. Jia Bhagia, Arun J Chauhan and Mallika Chauhan’s costumes are appealing, especially the ones worn by the lead actors in the various marriage scenes of the film. Dev Rao Jadhav and Chetan M Solanki’s editing is haphazard at places and is not organic.

On the whole, JAI MUMMY DI is a poor fare owing to the weak script, lazy direction and lack of humour. At the box office, it won’t have a long run and just has this one week window to score.

Movie Review: Tanhaji – The Unsung Warrior

Off late, Bollywood has been making period dramas, focusing on the brave warriors of the medieval and early modern history of India. While films like MANIKARNIKA – THE QUEEN OF JHANSI and PANIPAT focused on the somewhat known chapters of history, the Akshay Kumar starrer KESARI was based on an incident that wasn’t known to many. Now another film joins this latter category – TANHAJI: THE UNSUNG WARRIOR. It depicts the bravery of Tanhaji Malusare, a legend in Maharashtra, but largely unknown elsewhere. The film is mounted on a huge scale and moreover, has a terrific star cast, both of which have contributed to its hype. So does TANHAJI: THE UNSUNG WARRIOR manage to give a great time to the viewers? Or does it disappoint? Let’s analyse.

Tanhaji – The Unsung Warrior Review IMG

TANHAJI: THE UNSUNG WARRIOR is the story of one of the greatest warriors of India. The year is 1664. Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj (Sharad Kelkar) has given a tough fight to the Mughals, headed by Emperor Aurangzeb (Luke Kenny), in the Deccan region. However, when things get tough for the Marathas, Shivaji Maharaj decides to sign a treaty. As part of this agreement, he hands over some 23 forts to the Mughals, including the strategic Kondhana Fort. A few years later, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj expresses his desire to recapture Kondhana. This is especially when he finds out that Aurangzeb has sent Udaybhan Rathod (Saif Ali Khan), an evil military officer, to control the fort. Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj realizes that his brave Subedar Tanhaji Malusare (Ajay Devgn) is the best man to get the fort back. But Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj refuses to even let Tanhaji know about this operation. This is because Tanhaji is busy with the marriage of his son. However, Tanhaji finds out about the plan. He persuades Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj to let him go for it. The Maharaj agrees and hence, Tanhaji keeps his son’s marriage on hold. He then begins to plan how to recapture the fort and thereby create history. What happens next forms the rest of the film.

Prakash Kapadia and Om Raut’s story is excellent and well-researched. It talks about a landmark moment in India’s history and at the same time, it has enough entertainment and drama. Prakash Kapadia and Om Raut’s screenplay does justice to the plot in hand. The script is peppered with dramatic and massy moments that keep the interest going. However, the film drops a bit in the middle of the second half. Also, the first half could have had more hard-hitting moments. Prakash Kapadia’s dialogues are simple but also sharp-worded as per the requirement.

Om Raut’s direction is quite praiseworthy and he handles the film like a pro. He does full justice to the scale and grandeur of the film. He also keeps the narrative uncomplicated and very simple to understand. And his biggest achievement is that he doesn’t make TANHAJI: THE UNSUNG WARRIOR look like the recent period films, especially the ones of Sanjay Leela Bhansali. Bhansali’s films have become a genre in itself, hence when it comes to period flicks many recent ones looked like clones of his movies. TANHAJI: THE UNSUNG WARRIOR, however, stands out. And moreover, he adds enough masala, especially in the climax, which takes the film to a high. See it to believe it!

TANHAJI: THE UNSUNG WARRIOR begins with the childhood sequence of Tanhaji and the background of the Maratha Empire. The film moves too quickly here but no complaints as the impact is made. The entry of adult Tanhaji is too good and viewers would welcome it with claps and whistles. Even Udaybhan’s introduction makes for a great watch. From here on till the intermission, the film keeps one engaged but the film here lacks action and a punch, which one might expect after the action scene in the start. But the intermission point is fine and it indicates that the second half will be better. And thankfully, the post-interval portion has a lot more entertainment. The sequence where Tanhaji and Udaybhan come face to face is electrifying. Also Tanhaji urging the Maratha soldiers to fight for him is a scene to watch out for. The film then drops again but the makers reserve the best for the finale. The climax battle is incredible and single screen audiences especially will go in frenzy!

Tanhaji – The Unsung Warrior | Public Review | Ajay Devgn | Kajol | Saif Ali Khan | First Day First Show

TANHAJI: THE UNSUNG WARRIOR belongs to Ajay Devgn and Saif Ali Khan. Ajay is perfect for the part and adds a lot through his body language and expressions. Also his dialogue delivery in confrontational scenes is spot-on. But he goes into another mode in the climax fight and viewers would surely lap it up. Also, he deserves kudos for putting together this mammoth project and ensuring that it looks like a great cinematic product, at par with international standards. Saif Ali Khan is superb in the villainous role. He is menacing but also has a goofy side and the balance is very nicely done. In one scene dipped with black humour in the second half, he gets his act totally right! Kajol (Savitri) doesn’t have much to do but her presence adds a lot to the film. Her scenes with Ajay are endearing. Sharad Kelkar stands out as Shivaji Maharaj. His personality, build and baritone voice was just right for such an important historical character. Padmavathi Rao (Rajmata Jija aau) has a fine screen presence. Luke Kenny fits the role and one wishes he had more screen time. Neha Sharma (Kamla) is decent in a supporting role. Kailash Waghmare (Chultiya) and Hardik Bharat Sangani (Gidya) are over the top but that works for their respective characters. The other actors who do well are Shashank Mahadeo Shende (Shelar Mama), Ajinkya Ramesh Deo (Pisal), Vipul Kumar Gupta (Jagat Singh), Deodatta Gajanan Nage (Suryaji), Yuri Suri (Mirza Raje Jai Singh), Nissar Khan (Beshak Khan), Arush Nand (Raiba; Tanaji’s son), Prasanna Vidyadhar Ketkar (Ghesarnaik) and Niranjan Jadhao (Trimbak Rao; spy).

The music is situational and not of chartbuster variety. ‘Ghamand Kar’ is the theme song of the film and is quite exhilarating. ‘Shankara Re Shankara’ comes at a great juncture. ‘Maay Bhavani’ is average while ‘Tinak Tinak’ is moving. Sandeep Shirodkar’s background score adds to the drama heavily.

Keiko Nakahara’s cinematography is of superior quality. Despite so much of action and fights happening, the camerawork ensures that all is captured well.. Sujeet Subhash Sawant and Sriram Kannan Iyengar’s production design is straight out of the bygone era. The sets are authentic and not needlessly grand, considering that the film focuses on the life of the Maratha soldiers and their houses can’t resemble palaces. But while depicting Aurangzeb’s residence, the designers have gone all out, rightfully so. Ramzan Bulut and R P Yadav’s action is a bit gory but is controlled and visually looks great. Vikram Gaikwad’s make-up is neat. Nachiket Barve and Mahesh Sherla’s costumes are realistic. NY VFXWaala’s VFX is splendid and there’s not a single moment where the effects look tacky. Also, the 3D is not done for the heck of it and it actually complements the narrative. Dharmendra Sharma’s editing is slick.

On the whole, TANHAJI: THE UNSUNG WARRIOR is an entertaining and a paisa-vasool film that would be loved by the masses as well as classes. At the box office, it can run riot in Maharashtra and other mass centres and could turn out to be the first Rs. 100 crore grosser of 2020. Highly Recommended!

Movie Review: Chhapaak

The number of acid attacks that have occurred over the years is alarming. What’s even more shocking is the lackadaisical attitude of the authorities in preventing such attacks and prevention of sale of dangerous substances. After all, such an act can destroy lives as it damages the face permanently. Bollywood has been attempting some brave films on various topics but this was one issue that was largely ignored. Director Meghna Gulzar, who has found respect and admiration after the back-to-back success of TALVAR [2015] and RAAZI [2018] now comes up with CHHAPAAK, that attempts to address these aspects. The film has been in the news since the time the makers revealed the look of its lead actress Deepika Padukone, while it was being filmed. So does CHHAPAAK manage to entertain and shock viewers? Or does it fail in its endeavour? Let’s analyse.

Movie Review: Chhapaak

CHHAPAAK is the story of an acid attack survivor. The year is 2005. Malti (Deepika Padukone) is a 19 year old girl who gets attacked by acid on a street in Delhi. A good Samaritan takes her to the hospital. Her face is irreparably burnt, with no chance of it getting back to its original form. Malti however is determined to get the perpetrator behind the bars. Despite difficulty in speaking at the time of the tragedy, she manages to tell the cops that the attacker is Basheer Shaikh aka Babbu (Vishal Dahiya) and her sister Parveen. The cops arrest both and Babbu confesses that he indeed got the acid thrown on Malti. Shockingly, Babbu was a family friend of Malti’s and even made the rounds of the hospital to visit her, post the attack. In the court, Malti’s lawyer Archana Bajaj (Madhurjeet Sarghi) gives a tough fight but Babbu manages to seek bail on some grounds or the other. Archana stresses on maximum punishment though the law is not clear on acid attacks specifically. This prompts Malti to also file a PIL, asking for ban on the easy availability of acids. What happens next forms the rest of the film.

CHAAPAAK’s story is mostly based on real-life incidents and is quite hard-hitting. It also turns out to be an eye-opener as many wouldn’t be aware of the seriousness of the situation and that acid is so easily available in India. Atika Chohan and Meghna Gulzar’s screenplay however is inconsistent. There are scenes where the film really captivates you and moves you. But in places, the writing is not polished well while the emotional connect is missing and this affects the overall impact. Atika Chohan and Meghna Gulzar’s dialogues are sharp.

Meghna Gulzar’s direction is strictly okay. Both TALVAR and RAAZI worked so well as they didn’t just have a good story, but also great execution. But in case of CHHAPAAK, Meghna doesn’t seem to be in top form. The idea to start the film from the middle of the narrative didn’t quite work. Malti’s struggle is moving but only till an extent. A lot could have been done here but Meghna simply rushes through some key scenes. This is especially evident in the courtroom sequence. Also, an important track is that of Malti’s brother (Delzad Hivale) but hardly any time is spent on this episode. Nothing is explained later as to what happened to the brother and also Malti’s father (Manohar Teli). If Meghna had indeed given her best here, then considering the potential of the story, CHHAPAAK could have gone beyond what’s on screen.

CHHAPAAK begins on a very dry note and in a non-linear fashion. For the first 10-15 minutes, the audiences might not get engrossed. It’s only when the flashback portions commence that the film picks up. Some of the most impactful scenes of the first half are Malti seeing her face in the mirror, after the attack, for the first time, and Archana urging Malti to wake up and fight the battle. The courtroom scene keeps one hooked but one wishes it had more drama. In the second half, the romantic track doesn’t work much. Also, there comes a point when one doesn’t really know where the film is going. Meghna reserves another round of flashback in the climax and here, the film picks up again. Also, one understands the dynamic between the characters and what led to the acid attack in the first place.

Chhapaak | Public Review | Deepika Padukone | Vikrant Massey | First Day First Show

Deepika Padukone carries the difficult part with rare subtlety. She underplays her part well and in scenes where acid is splashed on her face and she comes to terms with it, the actress does a good job. But in most scenes, she doesn’t emote much and is merely the observer. One wishes she had done something in these sequences, which could have added to her performance. Vikrant Massey looks great and gives a genuinely fine performance. Sadly, he is let down by the writing. Madhurjeet Sarghi has a crucial part and plays it with élan. She looks quite confident in the courtroom scenes. Vishal Dahiya delivers a splendid performance. Delzad Hivale is wasted. Payal Nair (Shiraz) and Vaibhavi Upadhyay (Minakshi) are okay. Manohar Teli is fine and is endearing in the scene where he’s secretly having alcohol. The actor playing Parveen is damn good in the courtroom scene.

Shankar Ehsaan Loy’s music isn’t memorable. The title track is well inserted in an important scene. ‘Nok Jhok’ and ‘Khul Ne Do’ are average. Shankar Ehsaan Loy and Tubby’s background score is slightly better.

Malay Prakash’s cinematography is appropriate. Subrata Chakraborty and Amit Ray’s production design is neat. Abhilasha Sharma’s costumes are realistic, especially the ones worn by Deepika. Shrikant Desai’s hair and make-up is splendid and the prosthetic also is very well done. Nitin Baid’s editing is incoherent.

On the whole, CHHAPAAK is a brave attempt at highlighting an issue and the crime that exists in our society. At the box office, it will have a difficult journey since it is not a commercial entertainer. Its business will be restricted to a tiny section of the multiplex frequenting audience.

Movie Review: Shimla Mirchi

Cinegoers and trade experts were surprised when the trailer of the film SHIMLA MIRCHI dropped on the internet on December 26, 2019 without any intimation. The film, directed by SHOLAY director Ramesh Sippy is a long delayed romcom that is releasing five years after its making. Ramesh Sippy made the film in 2014 and it was meant to be a small and sweet romantic story set in Shimla. It is yet unclear as to why the film was delayed. However, the film which was made on a small budget is now set to release in theatres on January 3.

Without giving any spoilers, the film is about Avi (Rajkummar Rao) who visits Shimla during his holiday and falls in love with Naina (Rakul Preet Singh). Avi takes up a job in the hills to act on his love for Naina. However, his only weakness is that he is never able to confess his feelings for the woman he loves. Avi, on the advice of his friend writes a love letter, which lands in the hand of Naina’s mother Rukmani (Hema Malini). Rukmani is a woman who is struggling from low self-esteem after her husband left her for another woman and comes to the conclusion that Avi is her secret admirer. Naina who is aware of the situation plays up to this to keep her mother sane.

Talking about the film, there are no surprises when it comes to the script of SHIMLA MIRCHI. However, the script (Ramesh Sippy, Kausar Munir, Rishi Virmani and Vipul Binjola) is tight and comes straight to the point. What stands out the most, and lights up the film are the characters and dialogues in the otherwise tried and tested genre. The dialogues are good and play a huge part in keeping the audience engaged. The stark commentary on the love life of the lead actors is sure to generate some laughs. The film marks Ramesh Sippy’s return to direction after a long time — while he returned to direction after 20 years, he will see his directorial venture release only after 25 years. Ramesh Sippy focuses completely on the central characters and does not care to indulge much into the external environment of these characters. Sippy has a great hold over the plot and at no point does he deviate from the central topic.

Coming to the performances, at the time of filming, Rajkummar Rao was fairly new to the industry and has still managed to win our hearts with his performance. Those unaware of Rakul Preet Singh’s work down south will be in for a treat to watch Rakul as the beautiful small town girl who has a thousand responsibilities to attend to. However, her constant need to take charge over her mother’s life under the garb of care might get to your nerves. She does come across over the top at times because of her energy but when she shares screen with the calm natured Rajkummar Rao, it balances out well. Hema Malini is at the top of her game and puts life into the film with her infectious and vibrant screen presence. Shakti Kapoor as Captain Uncle does a great job. Though not much is revealed about his character, he will be remembered for his situational poetry.

The music by Meet Bros Anjjan sets the tone for a small town romance. The lyrics penned by Kumaar beautifully capture the mood of the film. This is also the last collaboration by Meet Bros Anjjan who are behind successful songs like ‘Chittiyan Kalaiyyan’ and ‘Baby Doll’.

The film is largely set in the backdrop of a house and a cafe. Cinematographer Jitan Harmeet Singh gives this romantic journey a dreamy affect by capturing the moods of the characters with close-ups. The editing (Vijay Venkataramanan) is very crisp except for the climax, where the audience could easily do with one less song.

On the whole, SHIMLA MIRCHI makes for a decent small town romance with impressive performances. At the box office, the low buzz and lack of promotions will ensure that the movie will fizzle out eventually.

Movie Review: Bhangra Paa Le

Bollywood is already drooling over the elder Kaushal brother. Vicky Kaushal, from a humble debut with MASAAN, is now the dark horse that filmmakers look up to. In that light, here’s Sunny Kaushal, who hasn’t exactly made it big yet, but looks consistent with his efforts. After his debut stint SUNSHINE MUSIC TOURS AND TRAVELS which didn’t quite hit the gold spot and a brief appearance in GOLD, here’s he, with his third outing, a dance drama. Does BHANGRA PAA LE turn out to be the game-changer, or does it not?

BHANGRA PAA LE revolves around Jaggi (Sunny Kaushal), a Punjabi lad and a vehement Bhangra enthusiast. He gets through to an international competitive platform and needs to win it over other contestants to exhibit the dance form to a larger audience. However, Jaggi isn’t your regular Bhangra guy. He is also trying to transcend beyond a set dance form and bring flavours of fusion by merging Bhangra with several Western dance forms. Parallel to this runs a story of Jaggi’s grandfather Kaptaan Singh (Sunny Kaushal), a warrior fighting the World War II. As it sounds, it is also about how different generations are bound together in the essence of evergreen music and dance. Then comes Simi (Rukshar Dhillon), not as Sunny’s dreamy romantic companion but as his rival. A feisty Punjabi girl with a strong grip of Punjabi folk steps, she is the daughter of a single mother. Will Jaggi manage to win the competition, will his passion for bhangra rub off on the audience is what the rest of the film is?

The story (Dheeraj Rattan) shuttles between two different time periods, trying to strike a chord with similar kinds of love, loss and agony. However, the depiction is rather forced. As a soldier who wants to come back home to his ladylove, Sunny is relatably nice. As a college guy who is unable to accept his defeat, he doesn’t impact us much. While the idea of an enthusiastic dancer upholding his art sounds good, the script, in reality, is entangled. It slips off its pace at times, and seems to focus too much on the dance part, therefore not maintaining its compactness. Also, if you are someone who has watched LOVE AAJ KAL, you will probably end up finding a gallon of similarities!

BHANGRA PAA LE marks the directorial debut for Sneha Taurani, who has earlier assisted filmmakers such as Ayan Mukerji and Mohit Suri. Her approach towards the story is fresh, but the product turns out to be mundane in many parts. It’s one thing that BHANGRA PAA LE has no extraordinary plots to offer you, but Sneha’s attempt of spinning a predictable story could result in better things.

Coming to performances, while the box office wasn’t kind to him in his first film SUNSHINE MUSIC TOURS AND TRAVEL, Sunny Kaushal’s got the mettle. You can say that, looking at how he assimilates the energy, passion and determination that his character demands him to show. Adding to that, he has certainly put in noticeable efforts to master his steps. Rukshar is great to look at when she grooves, but she yet has a long way to go in terms of acting. Rukshar and Sunny’s chemistry doesn’t cook up either. Shriya Pilgaonkar has a brief part to play, and with her sober self.

The music has been worked upon, by young, off beat and talented composers such as A Bazz, Rishi Rich and Yash Narvekar. But, 10 songs in 2 hours felt like an overdose, and none of the songs really stay with you. Rather, the background score is neat and situational, and complements the moods. The cinematography (Jitan Harmeet Singh) is clean but adds no special value to the film. However, editing (Antara Lahiri) has saved the film to a large extent. If the time lapses went wrong, we’d probably be left confused as to who was doing what.

On the whole, BHANGRA PAA LE is strictly average one-time watch with no remarkable performances. At the box office, it will go largely unrecognised.

Movie Review: Good Newwz

The word ‘sperm’ was considered taboo in Hindi movies until 2012. Then came VICKY DONOR – the story of a sperm donor – and it made the term very common and acceptable. Seven years later – after this path-breaking film – yet another Hindi movie takes to tell a genuinely hatke story – GOOD NEWWZ.

Movie Review: Good Newwz

GOOD NEWWZ has generated tremendous excitement thanks to its subject mainly, besides its eye catching star cast. The trailers have also done the trick. The question is, does the film deliver in totality? 

The plot line *without* revealing the spoilers… GOOD NEWWZ is the story of a goof-up of epic proportions. Varun Batra [Akshay Kumar] works in an automobile showroom in Mumbai. He is married to Deepti aka Deepu [Kareena Kapoor Khan], a journalist, since seven years. They are keen to start a family, but aren’t able to do so.

At the insistence of Varun’s sister [Anjana Sukhani], both decide to visit a fertility clinic run by a reputed doctor, Dr Joshi [Adil Hussain]. Dr Joshi suggests that they opt for IVF. Varun and Deepu give their go ahead.

Honey Batra [Diljit Dosanjh] and Monika [Kiara Advani], a Chandigarh-based couple, also visit Dr Joshi. Their last names leads to a confusion and subsequently, a big goof-up. 

GOOD NEWWZ has an interesting plot, but most importantly, it boasts of a smart and engaging screenplay. The writers juxtapose drama, emotions, romance and humour seamlessly in the narrative, which makes this one an enjoyable ride from commencement to conclusion.

The writers come to the point at the very start of the film, while the goof-up is well integrated in the screenplay. There’s hardly any dull moment, frankly. Sure, the film could’ve done without a song or two, but these are minor glitches in an otherwise watertight script. While the drama keeps you hooked, the dialogue only heighten the impact of several sequences. 

Good Newwz | Public Review | Akshay Kumar | Kareena Kapoor Khan | Diljit Dosanjh | Kiara Advani | First Day First Show

Raj Mehta [GOOD NEWWZ marks his directorial debut] is in total command of the situation. This is a damn difficult subject to handle when you are a first-timer, but he deserves brownie points for doing complete justice to the written material.

The director handles the second hour most admirably. A number of sequences are maturely handled, especially when Kareena and Kiara bond over paani puri or the sequence in the hospital when Akshay breaks down. 

GOOD NEWWZ is embellished with sincere and noteworthy performances. Akshay Kumar is in terrific form. His emotional portions in particular are remarkable. It’s a delight to watch Kareena Kapoor Khan after a hiatus. She’s excellent. Also, she looks stunning. Diljit Dosanjh arrives late in the film, but once he does, he takes the film to another level. He’s top notch. Kiara Advani doesn’t have much to do in the first half, but post interval, she makes sure she scores in several sequences.

Adil Hussain has his moments. Tisca Chopra is wonderful. Anjana Sukhani and the actor playing her husband are dependable.

The soundtrack is in sync with the film. At least two songs stand out – ‘Sauda Khara Khara’ and ‘Chandigarh’. The DoP captures the mood as well as the emotions well. 

On the whole, GOOD NEWWZ is a sure-fire hit. Smart writing, fantastic humour and heartfelt emotions are the three pillars of this well-made film. The fourth pillar being the performances of its principal cast. At the boxoffice, 2019 is sure to conclude with a big winner, bringing cheer and joy in this festive season. GOOD NEWWZ will live up to its title and bring good news for its investors.

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Movie Review: Star Wars – The Rise of Skywalker (English)

The franchise of STAR WARS has always enjoyed a massive cult like following worldwide. STAR WARS: THE PHANTOM MENACE (1999), followed by STAR WARS: ATTACK OF THE CLONES (2002), STAR WARS: REVENGE OF THE SITH (2005), STAR WARS: A NEW HOPE (1977), STAR WARS: THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK (1980), STAR WARS: RETURN OF THE JEDI (1983), STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS (2015) and STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI (2017), with every new film, the expectation from the franchise has increased. The ninth and supposedly the last chapter has arrived and it brings a lot of nostalgia. STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER is destined to have mixed reactions considering the flick is the conclusion to the story that began in the year 1977.  While the franchise enjoys a huge following, we analyze whether this conclusion to the 42-year saga is the most satisfying on or a controversial one.

Movie Review: Star Wars - The Rise of Skywalker (English)

STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER begins with Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), who is now the Supreme Leader of the First Order is in search of the ancient threat called Sith Lord Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid). On the other side, Resistance leader Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac), Finn (John Boyega), Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo) and their droid friends C3-P0 (Anthony Daniels), and BB-8 are on a quest which quickly turns into a stunning action showdown between the heroes and the villains while they jump from one planet to another with light speed skipping technique. Meanwhile, Jedi Rey (Daisy Ridley) is still in dilemma about her story, her parentage as she has a dark vision which showcases her mysterious connection to Kylo Ren. The two Jedi continue to connect with each other in different ways as they Resistance prepare to fight the Emperor Palpatine. Following the orders of Princess Leia (Carrier Fisher) and lessons of Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), the space heroes begin their final journey to win the biggest battle.

STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER upped their game as the film boasts of mind-blowing and truly astounding cinematography that leaves the audience wanting for more. The visual effects are seamless which create magic on screen. From the beginning itself, the story leaves you hooked as the galactic world of STAR WARS begins with action packed scenes. The battles, the duals, the light speed jumps, everything seems seamless. Though the story is bit slow in some parts with lesser words and more emotions, it picks up in the second half with some interesting and crazy cameos. The stakes are high in this film and major focus is on Rey and Kylo Ren. However, though JJ Abrams does a marvelous job in directing this last film in the franchise, STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER does not come across as something to write home about. In fact, for the most part the film looks like a series of montages that have been developed to fill certain check boxes that appeal to the audience and fan base strung together.

Though the chemistry between Kylo Ren and Rey is worth watching, the predictability of the film’s story is a massive dampener. More often than not, the viewer is able to foretell the coming sequences, and if discerning will also more or less be able to gauge what the climax of the film will be. Despite this, STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER does have its high points, but sadly they are few and far between. For a quintessential Star Wars fan who has followed the series, this film would be more of a walk down memory lane.

Movie Review: Star Wars - The Rise of Skywalker (English)

Coming to the performances, every actor shines bright in the film but it is hands down Daisy Ridley’s show. This time around, she has matured while portraying Rey. Two instances stand out and both scenes are shared with Adam Driver. Adam Driver Kylo Ren gets his due in this film with powerful performance as Kylo Ren as he gets the audience emotionally involved in his storyline. Rey and Kylo Ren’s scenes are some of the most engaging scenes in the film with some complex lightsaber battles involved. Late Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia) returns as the makers use the limited footage that was left of her as they pay tribute to the original girl of Star Wars. Her scenes are sensitively projected. Oscar Isaac as Resistance leader Poe Dameron along with John Boyega’s Finn along and BB-8, C-3PO and Chewbecca bring banter, humor and emotions to their scenes. Oscar and John’s bromance has hits hilarious moments as they continue to be the heroes who wear their hearts of their sleeves. Dominic Monaghan, new member of Resistance, hardly has any time to establish his character. Ian McDiarmid as Emperor Palpatine is astounding. Meanwhile, Kelly Marie Tran’s character Rose Tico hardly gets any screen time besides a few moments during the final battle. We get introduced to Keri Russell as Zorri Bliss who is decent in her scenes. The certain cameos are nostalgia – filled which makes this end of the sage a memorable one.

JJ Abrams direction is crisp and tight as he delivers some of the biggest questions that were left answered during STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS (2015) and STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI (2017). JJ Abrams captures the essence of this galactic world as he brings out the best in every character especially Ren and Rey. John Williams background score is incredible. The story by JJ Abramas, Chris Terio, Colin Tervorrow, Derek Connolly is moving. JJ Abrams and Chris Terrior is impressive.

On the whole, STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER may not be for everyone but it gives a bittersweet yet endearing ending to saga which is a tribute to the legacy. The die-hard fans might enjoy some of the stunning intergalactic moments.

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Movie Review: Dabangg 3

Salman Khan’s career got a new lease of life with WANTED [2009]. But it was DABANGG [2010], that released a year later, which confirmed that he was there to stay on top for a long, long time. Audiences too loved the superstar like anything in his Chulbul Pandey act. DABANGG 2 [2012] also repeated the blockbuster commercial success of the first part, though collections didn’t grow much as response was not unanimously positive. Now seven years later, Salman and producer-brother Arbaaz Khan present DABANGG 3 and release it in the beneficial Christmas week. What’s more, massy director Prabhudheva is helming the flick this time. So does DABANGG 3 emerge as a complete entertainer that will give fans their money’s worth? Or does it fail to entertain? Let’s analyse.

DABANGG 3 is the story of a badass cop. Chulbul Pandey (Salman Khan) is now the SP of a town named Tundla. As soon as he arrives, he nabs a bandman-turned-goon Guddu (Nawab Shah) and reforms him. He then busts a human trafficking racket under Chinti Valia (Dolly Bindra). The kingpin of this business is Bali Singh (Kichcha Sudeepa). As soon as Chulbul finds out about this aspect, he goes into a shock. Some repressed traumatic memories come alive in front of his eyes. The story then goes in a flashback mode. This is a time when Chulbul’s name was Dhaakar. He comes across the picture of Khushi (Saiee M Manjrekar). She was selected as the bride for Dhaakar’s brother Makkhi (Arbaaz Khan). But Dhaakar falls for her. He meets her and wins her heart with his progressive thoughts and of course, style. At the insistence of Khushi, he changes his name to Chulbul. The alliance was fixed and all was going well. One day Bali Singh bumps into Khushi and he falls for her. But when he learns that Khushi is madly in love with Dhaakar, he gets enraged and kills her in front of Dhaakar. On top of that, Dhaakar is jailed for the murder of Khushi and her parents. In the prison, he comes across a large hearted police officer Satyendra Singh (Sharat Saxena). He helps him get acquitted and also motivates him to join the police force. As soon as he turns cop under the name of Chulbul Pandey, the first thing he does is to throw Bali Singh down a cliff. He is presumed to be dead. Hence, Chulbul is shocked that Bali survived and is now back to challenge him. What happens next forms the rest of the film.

Salman Khan’s story is weak and beaten to death. He has such great characters at his disposal but he makes good use of them only partially. Salman Khan, Prabhu Deva, Dilip Shukla and Aloke Upadhyaya’s screenplay is effective but only in parts. The film keeps one engaged but again, the script suffers because of outdated storyline. What’s praiseworthy is how they have joined the dots. Audiences get to learn a lot about why Chulbul and other characters behave the way they do. Dilip Shukla and Aloke Upadhyaya’s dialogues pack a punch in most places. A few jokes however fall flat, especially the toilet humour.

Prabhudheva’s direction is average and again, the story is to blame. He tries to add something new but doesn’t succeed in all scenes. Also, there are far too many songs that hamper the film’s pace. And shockingly, an important mystery, with regards to Bali Singh, remains unsolved till the very end. It’s bewildering why the makers chose to do that

DABANGG 3 starts off on a fine note. The entry scene of Salman Khan as expected is whistle and clap worthy and in many ways, it’s the best part of the film. The manner in which Chulbul frees the trafficked girls and even teaches Chinti Valia a lesson will also be loved. The flashback portion too commences well and is also funny. But the Bali Singh track here looks very clichéd and outdated. Post interval, the film gets a bit better as Chulbul outsmarts Bali Singh. Again, most of the parts are predictable and of convenience. The climax fight will be liked by masses, particular the shirtless sequence bit of Salman Khan.

“Salman Khan has always worked VERY HARD, You don’t…”: Arbaaz Khan | Dabangg 3

Dabangg 3 belongs to Salman Khan and he’s the one who makes the film watchable. The superstar is enjoying playing this part and it shows. His sense of humour is spot on. Also he looks dashing in the flashback portions. Sonakshi Sinha as expected lends support. She looks energetic in the songs. Newcomer Saiee M Manjrekar seems beautiful and tries her best. But her dialogue delivery is not upto the mark. Kichcha Sudeepa looks evil and menacing. But his track ought to be more terrifying for a better impact. Arbaaz Khan is fine and has a crucial part in the second half. Dolly Bindra is loud but suits her part. Nawab Shah is over the top. Pramod Khanna plays the part essayed by his deceased brother Vinod Khanna in the first two parts and slips into the role effortlessly. Bharat Dabholkar is wasted. Sharat Saxena is decent. Rajesh Sharma (S S Sharma) and Paresh Ganatra (Dabboo) try to be funny but don’t really succeed.

Sajid-Wajid’s music won’t have a huge shelf life. ‘Hud Hud’ is the best of the lot followed by ‘Munna Badnaam Hua’. ‘Naina Lade’ is sweet. ‘Yu Karke’ and ‘Habibi Ke Nain’ are forced. ‘Awara’ is not memorable. Sandeep Shirodkar’s background score is heroic and exhilarating.

Mahesh Limaye’s cinematography is spectacular and some scenes are well shot. Anl Arasu’s action is a bit gory but works. Wasiq Khan’s production design is appealing. Same goes for Ashley Rebello and Alvira Khan Agnihotri’s costumes. Ritesh Soni’s editing is not smooth, especially in the action scenes.

On the whole DABANGG 3 is a predictable revenge saga which capitalises on the star power of Salman Khan. At the box office, it has enough masala for Salman Khan fans which will result in terrific opening weekend [extending into Christmas holidays] post which it might face a slowdown at the multiplexes.

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Movie Review: The Body

One of the biggest surprise hits of 2019 was the suspense thriller BADLA, starring Amitabh Bachchan and Taapsee Pannu. It was a remake of the 2017 Spanish film THE INVISIBLE GUEST, directed by Oriol Paulo. Now another film of this master director, THE BODY, has been remade and also carries the same title. So does the Hindi remake of THE BODY manage to grip and shock viewers, just like the original version? Or does it fail to engage? Let’s analyse.

Movie Review: The Body

THE BODY is the story of a corpse that vanishes from a morgue under mysterious circumstances. Ajay Puri (Emraan Hashmi) is married to a rich businesswoman Maya Verma (Sobhita Dhulipalia) and both reside in Port Louis, Mauritius. Ajay has married Maya for her wealth. Moreover he is fed up of the way she ill treats him. Ajay runs her pharmaceutical business and is also a guest professor. During one of the lectures, he gets introduced to a student, Ritu (Vedhika Kumar). Soon they start a romantic relationship. Ajay is aware that if he asks for a divorce from Maya, he’ll be stripped of all wealth. Hence he decides to murder her and devises a great plan. Maya gets anxious while taking flights. The day she is going to be back from a long flight from Los Angeles, Ajay pours small amount of poison in her wine. It produces same kind of symptoms that one gets while suffering a heart attack. The doctors would hence conclude that she suffered the attack due to her anxiety over taking the flight. As per the plan, Maya consumes the poisoned wine and in the evening, she dies. Her body is taken to the morgue for autopsy. Trouble arises when the body disappears from the morgue. The caretaker, Tara Singh, claims that he saw dead Maya herself walking out! SP Jairaj Rawal (Rishi Kapoor) is brought to investigate the case. Jairaj himself is not able to recover from a personal tragedy. What happens next forms the rest of the film.

Oriol Paulo’s original story has loose ends but could have made for a great suspense thriller. The adapted screenplay is faulty and very weak. The film needed some really nail biting scenes. Instead the writer added clichéd and run of the mill scenes which hamper the impact. Dialogues are also nothing exciting.

Jeethu Joseph’s direction is quite disappointing. It is shocking that the director who made the original version of DRISHYAM has made this flick. The execution seems amateur and fails to really captivate the audiences. Despite the 103 minutes run-time, the film is riddled with 4 songs further adding to the disappointment. Also the shocking climax instead of impressing viewers will leave them bewildered as the whole idea of the body disappearing from the morgue seems too farfetched and unnecessary for what was the intention.

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THE BODY has a non-linear narrative and that keeps the interest going to an extent. However the first 10 minutes prove that the execution is not upto the mark. The film has some interesting moments but are not helmed well. A few sequences that stand out are Ajay being interrogated by Jairaj. The intermission point arrests attention as a horror angle is introduced. Post interval, the film remains dry with only few moments here and there that impress. The finale is unpredictable but not very logical.

Emraan Hashmi is fine but could have done better. His best scenes are with Rishi Kapoor and especially when he gets irritated with the investigation. Rishi Kapoor is a bit theatrical which wasn’t the requirement of the character. He gets the sarcasm bit right. Sobhita Dhulipalia emerges as the best performer of the film. Her role is quite badass and he does total justice. Vedhika Kumar looks glamorous and is decent. Rukhsar Ahmed (Dr Tanya) and Anupam Bhattacharya (Pavan) are passable.

Songs are a big letdown and are forced. All songs of the film – ‘Main Janta Hoon’, ‘Khuda Hafiz’, ‘Aaina’ and ‘Rom Rom’ are forgettable. ‘Jhalak Dikhla Jaa Reloaded’ is missing from the film. Clinton Cerejo’s background score fails to make any impact.

Satheesh Kurup’s cinematography is neat. Prem Navas’s production design is rich. Dipika Lal and Anirudh Singh’s costumes are glamorous especially the clothes worn by Sobhita Dhulipalia and Vedhika Kumar. Ayoob Khan’s editing is nothing special.

On the whole, THE BODY is a dry and boring thriller. At the box office, it will turn out to be a flop.

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