Friday, December 02, 2016


Sab Kuch Na Kaho!

2 stars

Mini Review:

It's the story of a coma patient in a small town of Chandan Nagar, whose daughter is missing. But the police think the mother is a dreaded kidnapper and a murderer. The cops run around in circles trying to figure out the truth. But the audience has guessed and even though the pace of the film is good, you wish they had trusted you to understand the kahani without telling all.

Main Review:

Voltaire has said, 'The secret of being a bore is to tell everything.'

Kahaani 2 suffers not just from 'telling everything', but repeating the truth so many times that flickering lightbulbs, stupid cops, scenes set in the dark, dingy hospitals, uncaring nurses, annoying wives and kids just seem to be useless camouflage and lays to waste the superb talent that is Vidya Balan.

Vidya Balan plays a loving mother (Vidya Sinha) to a twelve/thirteen year old Mini who is paralysed from waist below. They live in a small town called Chandan Nagar, and the one day that Vidya leaves the child home alone, the child disappears. A phone call summons her to a location and as she runs out to get there, she is hit by a car, and goes into coma. The police try and figure out who she is, and the police officer looking after the case (Arjun Rampal) is stunned to see that Vidya Sinha is not really who she claims to be. In fact, she is Durga Raani Singh, a kidnapper and murderer.

And you saw all this in the trailer of the film. So what is it that you are looking for in the movie?

While Vidya Balan does her role credit (and she’s one of the finest actors we have), it is the minor characters who do their best and keep the movie going forward. In fact, the pace of the movie is the only thing that saves it from being the disaster it could have been.

The creepy grandmother, who is like the evil, psycho version of Suhasini Mulay is the find of the year, easily. Her character has been written beautifully. Flawless.

The hawaldaar at the police station is very obviously the comic relief guy, but his expressions are brilliant.

The demented homeless person too is someone you have seen (and walked hurriedly past without making eye-contact) and that’s why you nod your head at how he has been used in the film. You recognise the character from many movies (even Pretty Woman has a homeless person walking by, shouting about the importance of being a dreamer in Los Angeles).

The schoolteacher who is fed up of having to drag a six year old to the headmistress’s office because she slept in class…

And this is where you begin to see the flaws in the film. ‘They don’t let me sleep at night’ is such a daft thing to say. It’s like Indian parents telling their daughters to be home before 7pm (because boys turn into monsters) or that girl being out late is a sign of ‘bad character’. The assumption that sexual abuse, rape, doing drugs happens only at night is archaic. And the child sitting outside the headmistress’s office does not look sleepy at all.

That brings us to the subject of abuse. Just as Dear Zindagi is a vanilla treatment of mental illnesses this film too is a mild attempt to talk about pedophilia. And I’m not giving you plot spoilers. You saw this in the trailer. What is admirable in the story is how one victim is able to recognise the signs in another.

But if you’ve seen Steve Buscemi in Con Air, or have watched Rajat Kapoor in Monsoon Wedding will never buy the antagonist in this film who brags about sexually abusing a child. You only have to see TV shows like Law & Order Special Victim’s Unit to realise that no pedophile will brag. In fact, it is the secrecy that keeps the crime from being discovered and it is not until it is too late that anyone. Vidya Balan’s character attempts to say just that, but the antagonist is so open, so threatening in public, that you wish the filmmaker had seen Steve Buscemi sitting down calmly with the little girl at her tea party and singing ‘He’s got the whole world in his hands’. I wish they had gone back to Monsoon Wedding and watched Rajat Kapoor’s body language. He personifies Creepy Uncle.

To add to the peeve, why make ‘I’m going to change her clothes’ or ‘It’s time for lunch’ kind of obvious references? Who says that to an outsider?

And Origami. Why? What Indian filmmakers should realise that there is a reason why anyone would take refuge in Origami let alone a pedophile using paper art to seduce a child. And would a seduced child carry the 'toy' everywhere with her? Wouldn't she crumple it in fear? Bladerunner is a superb example of how Origami is used to say something. Gaff makes Origami unicorns so the audience realises that Deckard's dreams can be monitored and he may be, just maybe a replicant. But here? It just seems like a gimmick, a 'kewl' thing to do.

The constant monologue from Vidya Balan (when Arjun Rampal reads her diary) is very distracting, and very odd Hindi: ‘Mujhe Vishwaas Nahi Hota Ki Maine Usko Aankh Maari’ is very inept translation of, ‘I couldn’t believe I just winked at her!’

If this monologue style is a homage to Mr.Robot, who knows. Is Arjun Rampal falling asleep reading that diary (listening to that stilted monologue) a result?

Unfortunately, you see the end coming a mile away. And you hate the fact that everything is explained to the audience as though we were dumb. The movie should have ended with Arjun Rampal walking out swinging his keys.

Arjun Rampal's wife and kid are so annoying, I would like to suggest an alternative ending. Arjun Rampal's annoying wife and kid get blown up in the explosion and when Vidya Balan and child reach the children's hospital, there's Arjun Rampal, waiting at the door, leaning against a column sexily, with dark glasses, holding a jacket casually over his shoulder. Nice and evil end.

But you come away from the film not hating it entirely, but not in love with it either. And that ‘okayness’ the ‘averageness’ of the film is its true crime.


Overwhelmed by Kate Beckinsale in Underworld.
What Pleather!

2 stars

Mini Review:

The fifth film in the Underworld series, Blood Wars takes the story forward from the last film. Selene the Death Dealer is caught between Lycans and the Vampires again. The Lycans are led by a ferocious and strangely powerful Marius and there is slashing and killing and swords and blood spilt when the Vampires clash with the Lycans. But nothing compares to the visual awesomeness of Kate Beckinsale in pleather.

Main Review:

If you have been a gamer, and have followed Kate Beckinsale through the five movies, you’d also be gasping in awe because she remains just as gorgeous as she was in the first film. And with every consecutive film she acquires more skills. Theo James looks like the eye candy he always was and plays David with enough emotion and angst that could be expected in a blood and gore film. Except that the sight of his hairy tum in extreme close-up when Selena extracts the tracer bullet is a bit off putting.

Thankfully we have elegant Goth soirees and a fab castle for Vampires, with chandeliers to die for.
And the leather clad Vampires and shabbily dressed Lycans do not disappoint. There is blood and bodies pile up faster than you can say Vampire. But their coven is full of traitors and machinations for power and that is rather satisfying indeed. It is not an intellectual exercise and no one is pretending that it is, so the length of the movie also seems just right.

The all pervading blue-grey world in Budapest or some such East European city keeps you in the mood for intrigue. The Lycans may be grungy and their headquarters are in a train yard… But their leader is creepy and horrific and he does make your heart skip a beat the first time and every time he transmogrifies into a beast.

The camerawork is amazing when the story takes us to the snow-clad North. The mountains and the train traveling through the white snow are beautifully shot. Of course there is more blood spilt here, but you end up saying, ‘Good fun!’

Of course you miss the deeper intrigue as you have seen before in the shape of Viktor, and you wish the traitors weren’t so easy to spot in this film. But the last fight between Marius and Selene is so good, your blood lust is satisfied too.

The fact that this movie makes you want to know more about Selene's daughter is a sign that horror of watching hapless peacenik Vampires die at the hands of a marauding Lycan horde is welcome to our jaded by comedy and superhero movie sequels. But when you're watching Kate Beckinsale stretch that pleather outfit to kill and maim Lycans, you know there is guiltless joy in horror and you are glad there is darkness in the theater and no one can see you eat samosas and finish that tub of popcorn with cheese...

Review: MOANA

Shabaash Disney!

3 stars

Mini Review:

On a faraway island paradise where everyone is happy, Princess Moana cannot resist the call of the ocean. She has grown up listening to her grandmother’s stories of the ocean, about Maui the demiGod who stole the heart of mother nature and plunged the world into darkness. When darkness begins to invade her paradise, Moana has to get out into the ocean, find Maui and save the world. But impish Maui has other plans…

Main Review:

Before you read on, book the tickets now. This is a fun, frothy, adventure from Disney that does not disappoint. Kids as well as parents will love the little Moana who tends to wander off to the ocean if you let your attention wander away from her even for half a minute. You will be just as fascinated as the kids in the movie when dear old granny tells the story of the ocean. You’ll adore the way Moana fights the hungry seagulls and uses a leaf to offer shade a baby turtle making its way to the sea.

Maui is voiced by Dwayne Johnson and he clearly steals the film even though the title of the film suggests otherwise. Maui is wicked and sharp and funny and sweet and is animated beautifully. You get frustrated by his refusal to help Moana, and you are in awe of his seafaring skills when he chooses to use them.

For parents of little girls, this film is rather empowering. Moana is not just a sweet girl, a princess for her parents, but is fearless. And unlike other Disney princesses, does not need a prince charming to fall in love with in order to live happily ever after. She has courage, this Moana. Is willing to try out a daunting task, has an adventurous streak, is unafraid, and more. But she does not lose her cuteness even for a minute.

Moana is a very straightforward story and you can sit back and enjoy the spectacle of animation on the screen. And it is rather satisfying. There are just enough songs, just enough ‘wow’ moments, and lots of laughter. Hey-Hey the chicken will remind you of not one, but many people in your own life - silly, stubborn or plain bonkers. And the sea, the sea! It is not just a gigantic expanse where coconut pirates thrive, nor is it the intimidating thing from Life Of Pi. It is a living thing that partners Moana and Maui.

When the movie ends on a wonderful note, you hope daughters will be the heroes of families everywhere. To see that Disney is stepping away from the traditional ‘Prince Charming saves Damsel in Distress’ - Frozen was a wonderful start - is a great thing. Moana is another step towards creating female role models. And what a delightful role model she turns out to be. Maui too is a great character. His eyebrow raised in wickedness will keep you smiling long after the movie is over.

(this review appears on nowrunning dot com)

Friday, November 25, 2016


Shah Rukh Khan Is Hawt. For Everything Else There's A Martini

2 stars

Mini Review:

A PYT cinematographer dumps boyfriends like they change shoes. Then hates it when that happens to her. Circumstances take her to Goa (riiiiiiiiight!) and she encounters Dr. Jehangir Khan (His Hawtness Shah Rukh Khan) and he cures her of everything from insomnia to trust issues... You hate the shallowness of it all, but every time the camera is on Shah Rukh, you sigh into your seat. The last half hour is emotional, but by then you're bored out of your skull.

Main Review: 

You cannot watch a movie only because His Hawtness looks so good when he's: 
Fixing bicycles (awww! he loves kids! He fixes things!), 
Walking on the beach (I'm singing 'Suraj Hua Maddham' in my head, get rid of the patient quick!), 
Sitting on a chair (oh mah gawd, he crosses his legs!), 
Telling hokey homespun stories (cho chweet na!), 
Using the CSI New York Medical Examiner glasses (looks so stylish, but he doesn't seem to really need them, still...), 
Listening to his patient (ye gads! A man who listens!),
Bicycling (is the theatre airconditioned? Why is it so hot in here?)

That he has a screen-presence is known, but to wait for him to look directly into the camera after he's put eye drops, now rivals his standard open arms for heroine to run into them gesture. 

But this is not why you watch a movie. You want something to happen. Nothing does. Even after the Intermission (I staggered out and ignored the free popcorn for the press line and went to the pay for chai to sustain you through the tinsel tedium counter). You sympathies go out to the good-looking Kunal Kapoor who just seems to never get a break. He has a great smile, has acting chops, but somehow he ends up in such films where he gets his ex in rebound.

Aalia Bhatt, the PYT in the film, gets Ali Zafar. Who sings and sings and sings so much even you want to scream and say, 'Dude! Make out with her instead of singing to her!' Thankfully he is not poet from Ae Dil Hai Mushkil or we'd have more pouty shayari (peppered with pointless Urdu) to put up with. You like Ali Zafar's character: tattooed lad on Goa beach with a guitar. So when he begins to educate Aalia about music, holds up a vinyl which he casually puts on a cluttered table, saying, 'This is Pink Floyd's first album. Great music!' And it makes me choke on the chai. First Album! You are casually throwing Piper At The Gates Of Dawn on a table that has melting chocolate! 

Obviously the writers know of Pink Floyd, and it's cool to own a Vinyl player today, but first album? Someone, somewhere should do a little more research. Do they know how much it costs? If they did they wouldn't be casual with it. Even second pressed albums are handled like priceless aritfacts. 

Aalia's friends are nice. But their concerns seem so casual, you'd expect them to have bets on how long the new boyfriend would last rather than 'he's the one yaar', 'he's perfect for you'. Even the parents and uncle and aunt seem to be dated, as if they were the director's parents and not young Aalia's. Today's parents are a little more ambitious for their kids instead of only wanting to get them married off. Seems more like a scene from Pride & Prejudice rather than something in 2016.

And I absolutely hated the 'Gay Jokes'. 'Are you Lebanese?' the uncle asks instead of 'Lesbian'. Not funny. It spreads homophobia, does it not? Then the random, needless incident where Aalia asks a crew member: 'Do you keep saying I go to a shrink because you're telling people you are gay?' And the boy replies, 'No I'm telling myself that I am gay'. The boy is not seen again in the film. What s the purpose of that scene? 

Are there straight jokes in the film? When will Bollywood stop assuming all gay people are flamingly so and making comic tropes of them hoping people would laugh? Are gay people not being persecuted enough in real life already? 

Did I say Shah Rukh is hawt in the film? He is, he is! Sad change of subject, but needed. So Aalia is shown to have a legendary memory. *Cough!* *Cough!* You try to remember the name of the awful math teacher who beat you in middle school and you cannot. But Aali's character remembers everything about her childhood - when she was three years old she did x, y, and z - but doesn't remember the last time she spoke with her parents. She tells Kunal Kapoor she drinks only when she's in love (and when she's not) but is happily seen drinking in Goa. You don't care to remember why, because the movie makes you squirm in your chair with the homespun, un-doctorly advice His Gorgeousness dishes out...

There's a reason why sessions with a psychiatrist are private and confidential. The soul-baring is emotional. There's only one scene in the last half hour where you don't want to slap/groan at Aalia's silly concerns. Both Shah Rukh and Aalia Bhatt make the 'last appointment with Doctor' scene perfect.

You emerge from the theatre not satisfied with either the illness or the cure. Mebbe they should have had a story with substance like they did in English Vinglish, the movie about fixing memories is just too foo-foo to be memorable. 




Glad They Showed Up!

3.5 stars

Mini Review:

When aliens land on Earth and no one knows if their silent, gigantic presence is threatening or no, the US Government asks for help from linguist Louise Banks (Amy Adams) who manages to communicate with them. Denis Villeneuve directs this deeply thoughtful yet suspenseful drama about alien forces that is as satisfying as cinema can get but falters when it comes to the science.

Main Review:

Sci-Fi fans will love the idea of an all powerful alien force showing up in gigantic contact-lens like stone spacecrafts. Have they been designed by Steve Jobs, you will wonder, because the edges of the doorway are smooth like the apps on your iPhone...You’ll enjoy how armies posture and aim their guns at the things suspended quietly (or should we say ‘menacingly’?). Those who enjoy thoughtful drama will find all the right boxes checked and be wholly satisfied with the beautifully crafted screenplay by Eric Heisserer (If you have read the short story ‘Stories Of Your Life’ by Ted Chiang, you know it is too complex to become a screenplay.).

Amy Adams steals your heart as she struggles with her personal loss and at the same time attempts to fulfil her duty of communicating with the aliens. Jack Renner is at her side as the mathematician/physicist who will bring logic to the whole ‘communicate with the minds’ business.

Denis Villeneuve (who has directed movies such as Sicario, Enemy, Prisoners) gives you many clues into this rather thoughtful Sci-fi thriller. Circles inside circles and events that come full circle... You just have to pay a little more attention than you would in a usual Aliens Vs. Humans science fiction movies you have seen until now. There are no aliens who want to eat humans or are just on some vengeful quest, or in search of some mineral they value more than human life. There are no heroes who will penetrate their alien vessel hovering over Earth and kill them with the flu virus or blow the mothership with clever algorithms…Politicians and people around the world react typically, but you are shown again and again that this movie is different.

In this movie, the Septapod aliens make you think. About time. About relationships. About communication. You unconsciously attempt to analyse their ‘language’ and nod your head to say, ‘I knew that!’ when Amy’s electronic pad translates the words on the screen.

How Amy Adams convinces the authorities as well as the audience that her technique of communication is right is simply brilliant. Her breathlessness and fear seem to be stupidly ‘female’ and out of place in the movie and no explanation is given. Thankfully the doubt is momentary and Louise Adams the Linguist takes over. A couple more places where the science becomes fiction and that jars your senses. But only if you are a geek and see holes in the plot bigger than the opening in the spacecraft.

The music is as awe-inspiring as the size of the alien spacecrafts. It will distract you from the doubts that creep up in your head. You wish for the philosophical end to be different and yet you sit in the theater stunned at the visual feast you have consumed. The next time your phones ring in school or office, you will look up at the sky involuntarily...

If you have teenage children and feel like they’re rather alien when you try and communicate with them, then you will love this movie just a little more than others. And you know that if real aliens did show up, you would be glad Amy Adams is on our side.

(this review appears on nowrunning dot com)


Ho Hum

1.5 stars

Mini Review:

Ranveer Shorey plays Aman, a real estate agent who wants to get rich quick. His wife Divya (Neha Dhupia) is a television producer who disapproves of his schemes. When his one cheat-deal goes wrong, he has to find an even worse idea in order to get money lost. Of course things do not go well. What the audience can see from a mile away, the characters cannot. The film starts out well and quickly degenerates into a poor cousin of Khosla Ka Ghosla or Oye Lucky Lucky Oye.

Main Review:

Remember watching a spate of movies like Oye Lucky Lucky Oye and Khosla Ka Ghosla and smiling at the shenanigans? Well, this film belonged to that time, and alas, it is not only ten years too late but it is so humorless, you just want it to be over soon.

Neha Dhupia manages to put in her heart in her character (Divya). A wife who is a reluctant partner in a dodgy scheme to make money. Her husband Aman is played by the ever unhappy Ranveer Shorey who cribs about being ‘Middle Class’ and hatches a real estate scam.

Of course when he gets caught, he loses his job after his boss literally slaps him. Now you’ve heard people in Delhi are generally physical, and yet it surprises you to see fisticuffs flying when Aman is caught.

Also, we watch Neha scolding people on the phone, but we see no real work. A TV producer who tells a person on the team to ‘edit 23 seconds of a promo’  is basically telling us that the promo must be really long…

And if they’d just added a word ‘Work’ to Visa processes they go through for Hong Kong, then the knowing audience would not cringe. Because Hong Kong offers Indians Visa on arrival.

Why am I looking at such things? Because the humorless movie just gets from ‘it’s-going-to-be-a-disaster’ to ‘why-is-this-disaster-so-slow’. The only shiny beacon is Neha Dhupia whose character grows on you, in spite of the surprise turn towards the end. The story is like so many insurance fraud movies you have seen. You can see where the story is going and wish there was even a teensy-weensy bit of humor in the story. The director makes Ranveer’s character so weak, so miserable, you don’t like him. And once the protagonist becomes dour and unlikeable, the rest of the movie is so easy to dislike. The end is obvious, and you wish it come earlier.       

You do feel for Neha Dhupia and feel terrible when her character gets caught in Ranveer’s web of lies. But empathy for one character does not a movie make, no?

(this review appears on nowrunning dot com)

Friday, November 18, 2016


Eddie Redmayne Is A Truly Fantastic Beast  

3.5 stars

Mini Review: :

Eddie Redmayne and his magical suitcase bring alive magic that J.K. Rowling has penned as part of Harry Potter history. In 1920s New York a visitor with an interesting suitcase shows up in search of a person who will sell him an exotic creature. He breaks all rules of the magic world and Tina Goldstein of the Ministry makes many futile attempts to contain him and his fantastic creatures. What we get to a spectacular ride with an awestruck muggle… Good in 3D but even better in 2D

Main Review:

Set in New York where street corner evangelists rant against witches, we accompany the terrifically cute Eddie Redmayne and his magical suitcase in his search for some creatures who have escaped. The city is already being terrorised by ‘a black cloud with white eyes’ that has broken buildings and uprooted roads, toppling cars and mangling scaffoldings and train tracks.

The ministry of magic is worried, they know it is some evil magic but they don’t know who is responsible.

Eddie Redmayne is so cute, so British, you begin to like his demeanor as he doesn’t really look at you when he speaks at you. You love the sharp, witty writing and he delivers the lines rather cutely. He is rather cute, you realise. Yes, even when he walks everywhere with his suitcase, you know he is cute. Yes, the word ‘cute’ needs to be used again if only to emphasize the immense likeability of his character. Even the very rotund Mr. Kowalski is compelled to respond to the cuteness when Eddie calls him with a hand gesture from inside the suitcase!

No! Shan’t give away the secrets of the suitcase. You will want to make those discoveries yourself.

The magic is what you have come to expect from Potter films, but I cannot resist telling you that you would want to rush out to a concession stand and buy an apple strudel after you watch it being made in the movie.

Yes, the pace initially is slow, but patience pays, and you are soon ‘oohing’ and ‘aahing’ at the goings on. The dark magic scenes are rather gobsmackingly scary for little children, but grown ups will understand the motives of the dark magic and know how it operates. The reveal is surprising and makes you look forward to the sequel.

The special effects are superb. Spectacular in fact. And the fantastic creatures are so endearing, you wonder if there are plush toys in the market already. 

(This review appears on nowrunning dot com)

Review: TUM BIN 2

Will Cure Anyone Who Says They're In Love.

1.5 stars

Mini Review:  

Girl loves Boy1. Boy1 loves Girl. They sing love song on Scottish Mountains. Boy1 goes skiing, presumed dead in an accident. Girl cries on Papaji's shoulder (everyone calls him 'papaji' and he sounds like a universal daddy, but is Boy1's dad). Boy2 shows up and Girl and everyone falls for Boy2. Boy2 and Girl sing many love songs. Then to create confusion, Boy1 returns alive and well. Who does she choose? You wish they were all dead. The movie is that terrible. You listen to songs on your phone.

Main Review: 


(They shouldn't have mangled love into this silly putty mess.)
Boy1 is gareebon ka Siddarth Malhotra with a Shah Rukh hangover. Looks like lads working out in your neighborhood gym and gets that mildly electrocuted anti gravity hair from the same neighborhood salon where famous producer was once seen... Oh yes, he has those bee-stung lips which does look nice on some creatures, but here, it looks like a swarm of bees had a go at his lips. 

Thankfully he has a skiing accident and is off the screen after one love song with Girl.

The Girl cannot act to save her life. Her kissy face is the same as looking at lasagna face is the same as missing Boy1 face is the same as confessing to loving Boy2 in a Gurudwara. She bicycles furiously on a bike that seems to be pulled by invisible strings and moves slower than it should. Like a wit in the theatre said: Her bicycle chain seems to have come off! 

She lives in Edinburgh, but dresses as though she's in sunny California. And junta on the street are dressed to the gills in warm clothing. We know Chiffon Sarees In The Snow is a Hindi film trope, but those scanty baby doll dresses are very cold inducing. Speaking of cold, each time she's talking to Boy2, it seems to be snowing outside. But when they step out, there's sunshine! Magic weather!

Talking of Boy2, he's again a clone of the gym lads looks wise. But the moment he opens his mouth, oh dear Lord, he sounds like a book of motivational quotes where each quote ends with an ellipse. 'Har lamha aise jiyo jaise bas woh lamha hee poori zindagi ho...', 'Shayad jo khushi tum dhoond rahi ho woh is lamp post par lean karne se mil jaaye, ya phir mujh mein dikh jaaye, tum dhoondti raho,,,', 'Life ne mujh se jo cheen liya main sochta hoon ki mera saath us cheez ke saath bas utna hee thaa...'

The Girl falls for such homilies, but he gets to kiss her only after dragging her to the edge of a cliff and  jumping into the cold Scottish sea. I visualised hypothermia and some whiskey to revive them, and songs a la roop tera mastana around a fire... But no! he gets to kiss her instead of getting slapped.

Then Boy1 shows up nursed to health by French nuns in Scottish mountains. Don't ask. But I did wonder about kilts and big Scottish men... No luck.  

The Girl confesses of her love for Boy2 to Boy1. he accepts that fact. But Boy2 cannot understand why Girl can choose him, so tells Girl, you must love Boy1. Each one wanting to palm off the Girl to each other pissed off those of us in the theater, and makes Girl teary eyed. But she asks: Who are you guys to decide whom I should love. I almost stood up and clapped. But her kissy face put me off. 

Manoj Muntashir's beautiful lyrics have been sung rather nicely. But songs cannot save the pathetic film. Sangam (Raj Kapoor, Rajendra Kumar and Vyjayantimala) and Saajan (Salman Khan, Sanjay Dutt and Madhuri Dixit) too had wonderful songs, but they also had actors who could carry a role.

The only other wonderful part of the movie is Kanwaljit who plays Papaji who mouths dialog like, 'Har zindagi ke apne apne dukh hote hain, ' and managed to make me sob into my cappucino. And also the two sisters Gurpreet and Manpreet and their suitors, and the Pakistani tehzeeb wala dialog wali mom are all amazing roles. The family scenes look real and feel real. But then they want to make a love story.

We laughed so much at that love, it made me puke into my neighbor's popcorn. It would have been a better movie had the two lads flew away into the sunset and their plane was blown up by some random violent terrorist (brother to the random dholi bajane wali Jasleen). 

This movie has cured me of 'love'. And the six couples who showed up to neck during the screening looked so shell-shocked when the lights came on, I felt bad for them. Not.




Review: SHUT IN

Lock It Up And Throw Away The Key

½ Star

Mini Review:

Poor Naomi Watts! She plays a recently widowed shrink who has to look after a stepson who has been rendered catatonic in the accident that killed her husband. Not only is she alone, but is traumatised by a missing patient (the boy you have seen in the Oscar winning movie ‘The Room).
As her fears grow, you wish there weren’t so many sudden loud noises, creaking doors and hiding in the closet scenes to make you yawn through this silly scare flick.

Main Review:

Naomi Watts must have realised at some point that her terrified face can only do so much to keep the audience interested in this cliche ridden tale of horrors.

Creaking doors, suddenly shutting doors, howling wind, rattling windowpanes, horrible dreams from which you awake with a sudden start, needless walking outside searching for the ‘boy’... the cliches are endless. And you hate it when you yawn loudly at yet another hide-in-the-closet or something is in the closet scene.

Oh yes, not to forget how the storm outside is going to mean power cut and if it is wintertime in Maine, then it would be blue-white snow covered rural scenes, with scary leafless trees looming like ghostly arms reaching out to you, should you decide to wander about in the night. And she does! She is searching for her missing patient, a young deaf boy who has run away from his foster home. Of course there will be raccoons who scare the heck out of her (but not you, the audience) and you feel for her - am sure she did not know it would be such a tiresome laughable script - because she’s earnest. But then there are a whole lot more questions than scares. The biggest one? She’s forever skyping with her shrink (Oliver Platt) telling him her fears and he diagnoses her problem over skype! Now would you want your shrink who needs a shrink herself?

Jacob Tremblay is not getting typecast. Soon he’ll be relegated to B-grade horror films (which this one is, alas!) wandering about houses like a ghost, looking lost, staring at houses and people and things creepily....

And Hollywood! No matter how fetching the heroine and her winter wardrobe is, we the audience are fed of scenes that take you into their closets. I said that before? The director repeats such scenes so many times, you want to whack everyone in the head and ask, ‘If you are so paranoid about ‘something scary is in there’, then shouldn’t you be running away from the cupboard/closet instead of investigating it?’ And that The Conjuring has already done and dusted with the clapping from the cupboard scene.

The movie gives you ample time to count creaking doors. It works like counting sheep… This film is that much of a yawn.

(This review appears on nowrunning dot com)

Review: FORCE 2

The Villain Who Talked Too Much

2.5 stars

Mini Review:

Have you ever come across a villain who talks so much you know the hero is driving like a man possessed just to get away from his bak-bak! Well, Mumbai Police officer ACP Yashvardhan (John Abraham) and RAW agent KK (Sonakshi Sinha) have to deal with the most talkative villain ever on our screens. Ever. No amount of violence to finally put him out, shut him up is then bad.

Main Review:

John Abraham's angry ACP once again kicks, punches and shoots his way to the baddie, his biceps flexed permanently, his dimple flashing rarely. As they say in Hindi cinema parlance, 'John ki entry dhaansu hai!' He has to get his man to a court hearing, and he shows up in a white shirt (takes a couple of minutes to come off, hallelujah!) and yesssssssssss! The muscles are all there and we've heard so much about him being a fitness freak, that we gape in awe at his muscleness!

But when it comes to the mission, he has to play second fiddle to a RAW agent (Sonakshi Sinha) who is a stickler about protocols and obeying orders. The mission is to catch a baddie who is having field agents killed one by one.

And he talks... So much we know immediately that he is an Indian with a grudge.

This is a paint by numbers cops and robbers film, and it delivers fast-paced action from the word 'go'. Nothing wrong with a bullet-fest and bombs blowing up and double crosses and gun-shot wounds and chases on rooftops. Nothing wrong at all. But the film could have done with a dose of humor, which could have made the film immensely enjoyable (there are a couple of moments, but not enough).

Thankfully there’s no romance between the two lead actors to dilute this relentless action-packed bullet-riddled Budapest fest.

Speaking of women agents, it's not an original idea. You have seen in scores of spy movies before. The woman agent either turns out to be super efficient and can hit better than the hero, or she’s a stickler for rules and becomes more of a roadblock than help. But the woman spy is always given some skill that makes the partnership equal in some way. Unfortunately, Sonakshi Sinha is not given any extra skill that enamors us to her. She seems strident about following rules and her data analysis seems to be wrong every time. But she does kick butt. She was good in Akira, and she looks even better in Force 2.

The villain (even when he's not on screen), is talking... Or you imagine him to be talking.

The problem lies not with the paint by numbers thriller where the good guys are chasing the baddie. The problem lies with giving the villain too much screen time. Where is the good old fashioned duct-tape when you need one? The taunting, the baiting by the villain just did not work and though the surprises are many, you just want to fast forward to the next set piece.

The parkour and the video game style killing of the villain’s goons goes on and on, but the end makes it worthwhile. You want to ask how the villain affords these henchmen, and you groan at his never-ending emotional response to everything. It’s an overdose. You want an unrepentant Gabbar Singh like villain, who does not need a sad, pathetic history to be a bad guy.

P.S. Death comes too easily to someone who talks so much. I imagined a torture scene where the villain is tied to a chair, mouth shut by duct tape, and John lets him say one word and shuts the tape back again! what fun!