Friday, February 12, 2016


It's So Good, You'd Cuddle Unicorns

4 Bullet Riddled Stars

Mini Review:

It's got so much attitude, you'd go down on your knees and... Yes, it's exactly what you imagined what I said...

And you'll have so much fun, you'll promise to seek out the Recruiter and buy growth serum for your children to enjoy this politically incorrect, outrageous film with you. 

Main Review:

There is a reason why so many of us enjoyed watching bodies splatter against the sidewalk after falling from a height. Why we enjoyed blood and bone and gore and went, 'Wo-ah!' and slapped our thighs in horrified glee when a knife slashed the skull and broke. Why we laughed when bullet went directly into the hero's anus and his suit has the burn mark to show it did...

The laughs begin when the clever titles call the Director a 'Tool' and while you are recovering from watching a superhero (Ryan Reynolds) taking a cab, you hear him say, 'Crotch Shot!' and then we choke on our popcorn when the screen is filled with his crotch.

Okay then! This is going to be a different kind of superhero film. And he's talking to you, the audience. Telling you that this is not a superhero film but a romantic comedy.

Erm... More like X-rated full frontal in-your-face blow your brains out film! And you see nothing wrong in watching him skewer a baddie on swords like a kebob. He says so while doing it. He talks and talks and talks and at one point when you feel that you are in a girls common room with all that chatter, the story comes around.

We begin to understand how he came to be Deadpool.

And then you realise that villain Ajax (Ed Skrein) is gorgeous and the villain's sidekick looks like Sunny Leone from the Heavyweight category.

The writing is clever and the action is superlative. And Deadpool is smarter than your average superhero film. You cannot take your eyes off the screen even if it only to wipe tears rolling down your eyes from all that laughing.

This just means that you have to see the film again. And that's a good thing, eh?

p.s. The Secret Of The Unicorn? Hahahahahahahaha! Wait to find out during the end credits... It's wicked, it's adult, and you won't stop laughing when you see the rainbow come out of the Unicorn's...


Review: FITOOR

Kashmir Ki Khala Or What I Learnt From Facepalming In Fitoor

1.5 stars

Mini Review:

If you wanted to see how to take a novel about an orphan's journey to becoming a gentleman and Bollywoodise it, then you'd want to watch Fitoor. But you'd be going, 'Whaa?' so many time through the movie that you would stop caring about the story and wish they'd just show Tabu doing various things - mouthing Gabbar's dialog, pretending to be Amitabh in Deewar... Anything but this.

Main Review:

The movie is based on Great Expectations, they say, and two hours and ten minutes later, you wonder how Dickens would have fallen off the chair laughing, in a London tavern after watching the Bollywood version made by Abhishek Kapoor.

This is what I learnt about Bollywood and why I facepalmed in Fitoor.

1. Kashmir has only 2 seasons: Winter and Fall

The movie begins with delectable sweeping scenes of Kashmir and then you hear the ridiculous, 'Jannat maano kafan oadh ke so rahee thee...' 

Which child talks like that? Maybe kids who are out plying a boat late at night in the countryside littered with soldiers and jihadis... 

But no matter what happens in the movie or how many years pass by, Kashmir remains snowbound. It experiences Fall twice: once when little Noor runs down from the mansion, and the next when Katrina does the same...

2. When in love, people are afflicted with automatic asthma

Firdaus and Noor are always so breathy or is it short of breath (?) when they speak with each other you wonder if they are suffering from asthma. But I'm told that mouthing each word as if it were your dying breath makes you sound sexy, so...

Plus you also have dramatic pauses between each word to allow the other person to come closer and closer until you are actually saying the words to the loved one's hair or neck...

Valentine's day is just around the corner, so those suffering from allergies might have better luck mouthing 'ai-uh, love-uh, you-uh' or as Katrina is wont to in the film: na-uh hee-uh, mujhe-uh jaa-uh naa hoga-uh!'

3. It always snows when hero meets heroine. 

It's as if the director cannot think beyond snow globes. 

Heroine spots hero, poof! Snow begins to fall in slow-motion around her face... And her lips part (presumably seductively) you begin to think, she wants to catch a snow flake on her tongue. 

When hero spots heroine, poof! Snow begins to fall around his face too. His jaw drops and you think he's going to make snow angels with his chin...

4. There are no starving artists in Bollywood.

We have fancy artists' residencies where beautiful partially naked, stoned, drunk artists party. New artists get humongous amounts of space to build installations (don't worry, magic elves will get that giant bird and the Titanic sized shikara out of his room!)

If you looked at the overflowing food tables, you know that all the artists in that residency have sugar daddies and mommies paying them to look gorgeous and imbibe wine and dance. 

And lad who grew up tending horses and drawing embroidery designs in Srinagar is suddenly and unabashedly partying with Delhi high-society even opens champagne to celebrate his sold-out art show...

5. It is always evening in Delhi and London.

No matter what: hero reaches Delhi at night. Yes, he's meant to have breakfast, but it's artistically lit up to look late afternoon (Do artists wake up before three pm, ever?) He meets Firdaus at a party in the evening.

Yes, he buys a car and looks like it is daylight when he drives, but the asthmatic love scene plays out near the Taj Mahal late at night.

In London too, Khala Tabu comes to Noor's exhibition when the lights are switched on, Noor meets his sugar daddy in the darkness of the Wazwaan restaurant, Khala has an episode in the lamp lit hotel room...

6. Love Stories can kick logic in the head

As long as you have Arijit Singh wailing a refrain anything that remotely sounds like 'Ishq' (in this case, 'Mera Fitoooooooor!'), people are guaranteed to be so haunted, no one will notice you have strange characters coming and going in and out of the movie.

Who are the husbnad and wife who show up at Begum Khala's house and attempt to persuade her to sell? Why do they never ever come back?

Where did Talat Aziz come from? Is he the one who was supposedly engaged to Begum? Then isn't his getting his son to marry Begum's daughter a creepy incestuous thing?

How does the dog manage to survive that long? He is a puppy when young Noor and Firdaus find him, They are now 25 years old. The dog still remains young and chirpy? What are they feeding the dogs in Kashmir?

Why is Begum suddenly in a wheelchair? And why is she out there on the bench when she is supposedly the person organising Firdaus' engagement to wannabe Kurt Russell?

Who are the relatives who turn up and are being encouraged to eat at Firdaus' engagement?

Didn't Begum died in Hayworth? How come the Pakistan team of Talat Aziz and co., get visas that quickly for the funeral in Kashmir? Remember how Anupam Kher spent an entire movie trying to get his son's ashes back in Saransh. How did Firdaus manage to get the dead body back home so easily?

What on Earth is the handwritten in Urdu note doing in this century on personalised stationery? Katrina as Firdaus can barely speak properly (no, no, I'm not talking about the asthmatic way of speaking). Her hisni is heavily accented. Where did the note in Urdu show up? Jane Austen homage in the middle of what-the-dickens!

What exactly does the heroine do in Delhi? The note says she lives in Sujan Singh Park. But all she seems to do is look disdainfully at Noor's shoes at the art gallery, or show up at parties. But what is her job at the gallery? Is she co-owner? She says she went to art school, but just wanders from one art scene to another? Wearing skimpier and skimpier clothes?

Speaking of shoes, which supposed arbiter of shoes wears boots with the kurta/palazzo dupatta ensemble in the last scene? Did she have a premonition that she will be running across snow and across the rickety bridge to meet the hero in the last scene?

That brings us to the last scene. But first, a word on the gorgeous Tabu. 

Kashmir Ki Khala

Tabu is one saving grace of the movie. The paisa vasool scene (and the star awarded to the movie) belongs to her. The moment she first parts the purdah to get a better looks at young Noor, I knew that I would be able to site through anything. And trust me, even when she's over-acting, her madness is better than the vacuous romance between Noor and Firdaus. I wish someone would just edit out everything else and show Tabu's scenes. I would pay full price.

So now to the last scene. 

The movie annoys you at many levels (good guess!). But the worst is dialog. Mind you, the hero is Kashmiri. Has been traumatised as a young boy by his sister being blown to bits by a bomb. Would he ever, ever, consider it romantic to say to the heroine, 'When I first saw you, mujhe laga ki mere sar ke oopar ek bum fat gaya ho!'

Tsk, Tsk...  



How to be surprised by a Valentine's Day release

2 and a half stars

Mini Review:

You'd think a Valentine's Day release movie with Rebel Wilson will be a loud, predictable tale of people finding love in the most unlikely ways, especially because the trailer makes it look women being raunchy in New York. Thankfully it isn't. It is quite sharp in its observations, offers a conclusion about love and relationships that is not like any of the romances, and yet manages to make believe in love while you laugh at yourself.

Main Review:

That's a bar set high. The trailer was so raunchy and so in your face, I was not particularly looking forward to Rebel Wilson playing it loud and overly sexy and claiming to fuck any man. Thankfully, the movie isn't like that at all. It is about singles in New York missing all the cues on love and doing the wrong things, but it does not grate on your nerves like some other New York based Christmas/Valentine's Day movies we have seen in the last few years.

The film starts out rather innocuously enough with Alice (Dakota Johnson) showing up in New York freshly single. She meets Robin (Rebel Wilson) who is rapturously single. There's Tom the bartender who is carefully single, Meg who is single but wants not to be, and a host of other characters who either want to change their single status and cannot or who change their status but hate it or...

Well, like the proverbial Alice in Wonderland, Dakota Johnson also discovers herself in the process of finding love. 

Now if this were a regular romantic comedy, you would think A was meant for B, C was made for D and E was tailor-made perfect match for F.   

But it wouldn't be a good movie if everything went to plan, would it? 

Not once do you miss the popcorn because there's plenty of hasty making out sessions on screen, plenty of 'aww' moments and lots and lots of scenes that will make you sigh and sink deeper in the chair and you realise that the end is exactly what you were hoping for. 

There is sunshine and rain, and many, many giggles. And even though the movie is called, 'How to be single', it is a wonderful little Valentine's day movie.

Friday, February 05, 2016

Review: The Finest Hours

Chris Pine, Wild Waves, Chris Pine, Chris Pine...

2 and 1/2 stars

Mini Review:

The bravest rescue at seas ever unfolds in front of us. Making the impossible rescue operation a delicious watch is Chris PIne who manages to look heroic and vulnerable at the same time. It is nothing less than exhilarating to watch the little boat brave the large waves crashing into the breakers and the rescue... 

Main Review:

When the news of two oil tankers breaking into half reaches the Coast Guard, the weather outside is at its worst. The flurry of snows is turning into a storm, and the possibility that young Bernie Webber is going to be able to rescue anyone that stormy night is near zero.

Plus, he owes the town a debt. Everyone thinks that he was at fault when a rescue mission in the past went horribly wrong because of his misjudgement. This time, no one believes that he will be able to steer his crew of three past the deadly breakers... In fact, they hope he dies trying.

Goaded by the unforgiving weather and even bigger guilt, Chris Pine takes the little boat to the broken tanker.

Now the story of the broken tanker and the 33 men on it is amazing too. When the water begins to pour in, you are swept into the story of the men who are trying to keep the water away from the air vents. We watch as the young Engine Room hero (Casey Affleck) attempts to bring order to chaos and rebellion in that broken ship.

I was terrified for the little rescue ship as much as I was scared for the big broken ship. But in the middle of all this there is the annoying girl Chris Pine is in love with. I have never understood women who fall in love with soldiers and warriors who begin whining about safety and cry, 'come back!' just when you need them to be as courageous as the warriors themselves. So we see this woman whine and whine and one kept hoping someone would slap her...

The rescue is a great watch and even though this is a Disney film, death is shown. That's new, isn't it?

Many people say that it would have been better as a documentary, but how many people watch documentaries on TV? I loved the drama in the film. It shows us how powerful nature really is. I came away awed in the true sense of the word. And of course it helps when there is Chris Pine...



Dhai Kilo Ka Action!

Dhai kilo stars

Mini Review:

Using flashbacks from the original is a great idea because there's little emotional content that gives you a high here. Ghayal Returns to save teenagers from a ruthless businessman who has the police as well as the politicians in his deep pockets. It is in the action that the power of this film lies. It's very raw filmmaking, but you forgive the CGI because Sunny Deol is an awesome action man even today!

Main Review:

We've been spoilt by CGI that makes apes look almost human, it makes us believe cities can be destroyed by gigantic todal waves caused by earthquakes. it creates worlds where blue animal like creatures live in peace. And then we see Ghayal Once Again where the CGI is so poor you don't want to acknowledge it. 

But you look at Ajay Mehra (Sunny Deol) and his newspaper called Satyakam (reminds you of the gorgeous Dharmendra...) and you want to give the film a chance. The movie starts haphazardly showing people doing things so randomly you wonder how they are going to bring the whole thing together. Kids chatting with each other, newspaper business heads partying with scantily dressed women, newspaper tycoon raping a young journalist who then commits suicide, politicians shaking hands with big businessman who 'rules' the city...

But Ajay Mehra has a batcave. (That itself should earn stars for the movie!). He runs his hi-tech sting operations from there and gets the rapist newspaper man to confess... 

I loved the idea of a batcave in Bombay. You wonder what happens in the monsoons...

Soon we discover that the four teenagers have unknowingly shot a footage that will get the big ruthless businessman, his wild, mad reckless son, the politician into jail. The ruthless businessman has South African henchmen who chase and capture and beat up the kids, but not before they tell everything to Ajay Mehra.

Ajay Mehra shows up as avenging angel beating up the bad guys in chase scenes that are spectacular. The heart-stopping train fight is something one has not seen in movies for a long, long time.

The teenagers have a good action set piece in the mall, even though it borders on the implausible.

'When Balwant Rai had killed his brother, Ajay Mehra wreaked havoc in the city,' shouts the politician, 'And you did what?'

The big businessman is blinded by power and will not listen. Of course Ajay Mehra shows up dramatically (don't ask how he got into 'that' mode of transport) and saves the day.

But the best part of the movie is when Ajay Mehra (yes, yes, it is Sunny Deol) raises his proverbial 'Dhai Kilo ka haath' and slaps the wild lad. It is tailor made moment for whoops and whistles.

What actually tells us that his hand must be powerful indeed is when you have the whiniest kid this side of the Mississippi hang on to his hand and swing when she tries to stop him from beating up bad lad. 

The teenagers are saved, the bad guys led away by the same cops who were shooting at Ajay Mehra, the politician vanishes from the scene, the bad guy's family looks grateful when Ajay Mehra spares their lives, Ajay Mehra recovers from the fighting in a hospital, the audience has got over dialog that differentiates mercenaries and missionaries (don't ask! don't ask!) ... And all is well.

You have a slight headache from the raw, amateurish direction, but you have enjoyed the action. This man may look his age in close ups and when emoting, but his hand, his hand of the dhai kilo is still young and can pull a knock out punch!

p.s. thank gawd there are no songs and awkward dances. that is here . 

p.s. the movie does not come with a disclaimer that there are no similarities with the ugliest building in Bombay and its occupants at all... Brave, very brave!



Sanam Tere Muscles Ki Kasam

1 1/2 stars

Mini Review:

'It's a soppy love story, you won't like it,' they tell me. I love the 'love story' part of it. It's different. It's refreshing. And it has been shot with love. The colors are brilliant, the friend-zone love story is really nice. But this film too is cursed by the demon of the second half. The soppiness smothers the story until it stops breathing.

Main Review:

I know dads like Jayram Parthasarathy, who will dab vibhuti on their daughter's forehead and make impossible demands like: unless vibhutihead nerdy older daughter finds an IIT-IIM Shastri boy, younger daughter will not marry. 

But I'm ancient. And to see such a dad is like flashback of a time even further than DDLJ. Now comes the interesting part. The nerdy daughter has spine. Played by the Pakistani actor/VJ Mawra Hocane who has rather delicious hands (fault lies with Eddy Redmayne and The Danish Girl!).

There's a muscled, multi-tattooed obviously shirtless, jobless lad who drinks beer (in public and broad daylight!) and exercises. He also has the propensity to making out with girls in the landing area of the building old fashioned lad and family live. There are several complaints about this shirtless bundle of muscle. And the nerd and the muscle are caught in a misunderstanding and instead of dragging the girl by her hair and lock her up in her room, the stern father announces: she's dead to me! I will do 'Pind daan' and perform last rites, he announces. And neither muscle boy nor nerd girl say a word. 

Muscle boy finds her a house to live (in Bombay, that soon? Who are you kidding?), and she doesn't go home because 'How could Nanna do this to me!), helps her buy household supplies (does the job at the library pay so much?), sings a bhang song (Kheench Meri Photo), even becomes a member of the library (Catcher In the Rye is a good book for someone's just out of the prison is her claim) (I gagged on the popcorn here, but the love story goes into friend-zoned zone, so I watch), even helps her get a makeover.

Makeover king (Vijay Raaz) lives in Dharavi (all the designers buy from him, we are told). He helps nerd become bird with a snap of his fingers. She even snaps up an IIT-IIM Shastri boy who works in the same building as the library. Muscled lad faals deeper into the friend-zone when he helps her buy her trousseau as well as drive her to the family court to get her married...

I wish muscle lad had acting chops. He just poses no matter what situation he's in. And he's expressionless. No wonder nerd girl has not noticed anything puppy-dog like thing about him. And then we learn that the movie is going to end like Eric Segal's Love Story, and we watch as the audience begins to ask questions like: Can you detect a brain tumor from a routine blood test you take for a Visa application? Who was playing the hospital bills? Do hospitals give discharge to terminal patients because 'You're showing improvement!' and let them walk away alone? Who was paying for all those cars and taxis the girl was driving away in? Why were they going to honeymoon in the city? Why had the girl paid for the honeymoon suite for two days? Why was the makeover queen so ugly? How was the Go Pro camera transmitting live feed of the shaadi? How did the jobless lad pay for that equipment? Do the filmmakers not know removing an IV is not just pulling off the 'pipe' off the drip? When will she die? When will the movie end?

It is painful to watch the love story that goes on and on and on from one implausible thing to another. If there are stars given to the film, they are all for the attempt the heroine makes to make the strange story likeable, for how beautifully the movie has been shot (despite the two random Buddhist monks going walkabout). Muscleboy has been shown with a tattoo on the neck which looks like the Maruti Vitesse logo, which is very distracting. You begin to read all his tattoos and they make no sense. Neither does the movie. 

p.s. I did like it a lot in the beginning. I do love 'love stories'. But when Romeo's muscles get in the way, I wish he were the one to die of muscle atrophy instead of the brain tumor we are subjected to...      


Friday, January 29, 2016


Saala Predictable

2 stars

Mini Review:

An out of favor firebrand boxer turned coach is sent off by authorities to a bunch of losers to coach them. (No, no, this is not Chak De! new movie!) He spots a diamond in the rough, trains her to become world champion. (No, this is definitely not Mary Kom!) Bah! Humbug!

Main Review:

Why then the two stars? Madhavan's muscles, the young girl Ritika Singh's earnest efforts, and Nasser who actually is the most interesting character in the movie.

It's a sports underdog movie. You've seen Rocky slur thru seven movies with the same theme. I'm not even going to mention the baseball movies and the karate movies and cricket movies (remember Iqbal?). You've heard Shah Rukh give the 'I'm the only gunda here'speech. You've also watched the sleaze and the machinations of the Sports Authority Of India (SAI) officials in Mary Kom

So you think if Rajkumar Hirani is backing this movie, there must be some merit to the film. Alas, eating mixed popcorn in the darkness of the theater is more unpredictable and exciting. Because you never know what you're getting, caramel or cheese...

So Madhavan gets into an angry physical altercation with the sleazebags of SAI and is sent off from Hissar (spelt Hisar on screen for some reason) to Chennai. Chennai supposedly has never produced a boxer and their infrastructure is non-existant. 

Of course we see his biceps drive the motorbike down the countryside, we don't miss his biceps when he crosses his arms as he watches the girls fight. We are distracted by his biceps as he curses every fighter and says they're a bunch of losers 

Of course he spots a rough diamond. She is angry and supposedly smelly (a real Bombay fisherwoman would have chopped off Madhavan's fingers for giving her money to buy soap because she 'smells') and a good boxer (poor Mohammed Ali... gets quoted and quoted so much you start imagining him as the invisible Yoda).

And then you mark the mental checklist you've seen in all sports movies. The annoying training scenes. Of course the 'being jaded' is your state. Some of the audience is getting primed by the loud music and the earnest endeavor by the young newcomer Ritika Singh to clap. The Indian flags and the patriotism will come. Wait for it... Wait for it...

Bingo! Wild Card Entry to world championships. And yes, there is sleazeball head coach to settle his beef with Madhavan's biceps in his unique way... Leave the girl (who is almost in the finals) or else I will finish her career!

Madhavan's gorgeous eyes are filled with emotion as he resigns... and his student is allowed to fight, and win!

The trouble with the opponent, and I feel strongly about this. Why are we still making Russians the villains in boxing movies? 

And why do female students always end up having a crush on the teacher? It's bad enough coaches are found groping and molesting the students in real life. By writing a stupid romance/crush into the story they just ruined it for me. Yes, Madhavan needs to get pissed off at the crush but it could have been just as easily been another facet to the sisterly rivalry (student tells her sister i will throw the match then you will win and maddy overhears, does not see the sisters get into a fight where student injures herself, and Maddy gets mad when she loses the match.). There were so many options. This love aspect is just so annoying in a sports film. 

Nasser is the magic in this movie. He holds the khadoos coach and his even angrier student in both hands, keeping them from killing each other (and two angry people make for a very loud film) and bringing them together by telling each one goo things about the other.

The young girl is put through the paces as expected, but come across more real than Priyanka Chopra did in Mary Kom.

The movie ends on a Mera India Mahaan type note with a hysterical announcer dancing in the commentators box, Madhavan crying, winning student crying, sister crying, mother and father crying, Nasser crying, audience crying (inspired from many real stories it says on screen)...

p.s. Watch the movie when it appears on tv. Give me Chak De! any day!