Friday, December 20, 2013


One star

Overacting Ki Dhoom

Mini Review:

If the camera is not chasing bikes needlessly, it concentrates on facial contortions of Aamir Khan. The audience is saved by Uday Chopra’s antics. Go figure!

Main Review:

Dhoom the movie worked brilliantly because it stayed true to the Luc Besson script of Taxi ( ), where a cop who doesn’t know how to drive enlists the help of a street smart taxi driver. Here Jay Dixit and his sidekick Ali were rather fun. And the stunts and the tumbles were all good popcorn cinema. Dhoom 2 sort of became a Tom & Jerry thing that made for a decent watch.

In Dhoom 3, they decide, fun and games is not fun any more, let’s give the audience a drama. We will have audience clapping at the dialog, shaking their fists at the screen and stomping the feet to the ‘beat’. Sigh. They forgot, Kader Khan has retired, and when you hear, ’Pakad ke rakhna, chhodna mat’ it sounds more like the ad for a popular glue rather than love between brothers.

That said, they offer this role of ridiculous dialog to Aamir Khan, and then let him have a free hand. The result: more facial contortions than Urmila Matondkar’s filmography, painted on abs, and technology that perhaps only Tony Stark and Bruce Wayne would have access to. Aamir Khan’s hamming is so pathetic, he should be henceforth called Ham-ir Khan. A b-grade horror film where the poorly paid actors put in an honest effort to be Saamri or whatever zombie creature they are supposed to be is better than Aamir’s in this movie. (Yes, there are a few ‘aww’ moments with Aamir, but most of them are when he’s being put in a box and taken far away from the audience. Don’t ask!) And at one point when Aamir tries the Clockwork Orange look ( ), you wonder where the eyelash went, and hope that Uday Chopra shows up with a ‘waapas gamdevi’ type dialog. And this happens often.

And stunts? So many bikes vrooming on the screen? And how about the Bike that gets an exo-skeleton? Naah, it looks like al Batman/Ironman reject trying to be ‘kewl’. Especially when Aamir is working out a bank robbery on a Ironman/Minority Report style transparent computer screen with graphics manipulated by hands. So much for original thought.

Yes, kahani mein twist is there, but as one of the lads sitting behind me in the audience said, ‘Now that we know the twist, let’s go home and watch the rest on You Tube whenever it shows up’. This was at the Interval.

Katrina looks good and she kisses the hero yet again at a train station. She knows the twist in the tale but we are not told how she knows it. Again, the writing is so lazy, you think Salman Khan, the Indian spy told her while singing ‘Banjara, banjara, dil mera dil mera banjara’ in the movie you should have seen.

The writing is so unimaginative, the entire Chicago PD consists of cops who aim but don’t shoot, who assume that the thief is Indian because he wrote a message in Hindi after a robbery, and the token ‘white person’ who is a villain is addressed as, ‘Mister Anderson’ again and again until you begin imagining a bizarre version of The Matrix.

Poor Abhishek Bachchan. His earnest Jay Dixit feels like he has been trapped under the fallen bike. If a real bike ever fell on you, your leg would be probably broken and skin burnt from the hot exhaust of the bike. But no one cares about this character (he did not know how to drive, isn’t it? Now he’s stunt riding sports bikes and even auto rickshaws). All attention is on Haamir who chews up the footage with more and more of his childhood angst.

Speaking of childhood, I loved the little boy (Aamir as a child), and Jackie Shroff as the dad. Loved that the bags under Jackie dada’s eyes have been ironed out (about time!), and that he still makes his presence felt even in a small role. But mostly loved Uday Chopra for the fun he was having as a sidekick.. That’s the most honest thing about the movie. The star is shared by these three. 

Epic movie lengths should be left to Peter Jackson. Here, it is just a dhoom of overacting. The spectacle of the movie might rake in moolah, but the story doesn’t rise above bleaargh.

Bottomline: Dhoom 3 is Haamir Khan’s Besharam.

Friday, December 13, 2013


half star

You Don't Know Jack Potty

Mini Review:

Focus! Focus! Sunny Leone says not once, not twice, but many times. Focus on what? A story that is stuck on repeat button? Hammy actors? Papercuts are more interesting.

Main Review:

Let’s make a movie in Goa. Use every word from maka, tuka, susegad to dona paula and cafreal in the script so it sounds authentic Goan.

Call the characters Anthony and Francis, dress them in ganjis, show them drinking beer.

Give Naseeruddin Shah a cool wig and cowboy boots and lurid green Hawaiian shirt so he will agree to do the movie. And we’ll make Makrand Deshpande a cop. So the acting department is taken care of.

For glamor, let’s take Sunny Leone. Boy, was she hot in Jism2! What? She wants to focus on her acting career? No worries. We can add that dialog too. We’ll get her to say, ‘Focus!’ But we insist on one bikini scene where she’s on all fours, saying, ‘Paisa Kahaan Hai’ (rest of the movie she can speak English, because this movie is set in Goa, men! Everybody here spiks Catlic… I mean English.

Speaking of dialog, how about we make it cool, by having things in rhyme? Kalti ya palti, sau daant ya ek. Hey, that doesn’t rhyme! Listen boss. If Naseeruddin Shah says it, it will be super brilliant.

We'll do Kurosavvy by showing same story from the villain's point of view and then from the hero's. The audience will appreciate seeing the planning and the execution of the paanch karod ki chori. Is this the story?

What about the story? What about it? Everyone is trying to steal a suitcase full of money. Suitcase is called Jackpot. (Just in case you thought it was a washing machine). The boat is called Jackpot too. But the boat is a casino, and then suitcase is empty, and the money is in a scooter. Oi! Don’t give the plot away! I don’t have to. It’s shown in the movie, five times at least. At one point you are so weary, you want to say, ‘Paisa scooter mein hai, now finish this already.

Thankfully, the Kerala style houseboat in Goa capsizes, goes under faster than you can say Naseeruddin Shah, and the funniest half star earning moment in the movie is when Naseeruddin Shah (who owns a big boat, and is in Goa) sinks in the river. You come away thinking, maybe he grew up in a waterless desert where he did not learn to swim. Maybe they should not be making movies as bad as this. Maybe I should walk into a Xerox store and give myself a papercut...

P.S. There was no press show for the movie. A FDFS ticket was purchased and the movie was watched at Cinemax, Versova in Bombay. 

(FilmOrbit is going thru a revamp, will be online soon!)


4 stars

Mini Review:

It doesn’t matter if you have seen the first movie of this trilogy or not. You will be swept away by this a thrill-a-minute action and will be craving for more. When the dragon awakens, take cover!

Main Review:

Part one of the Hobbit trilogy was fun, but it was so long ago, and you only remember bits… How Gandalf invites boisterous dwarves to Bilbo’s home and then forces him to join them in a quest.
You remember going on a wild ride to Radagast The Brown, who has birds camping in his hair… And you remember the gorgeous Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage), an heir to a kingdom usurped by a fire breathing dragon that sounds like Sherlock Holmes.

But it doesn’t matter. You’ll love the new movie so much, you will rent the DVD of the first part again and watch the second part again. Such is the adventure laden journey to the Lonely Mountain.

What is amazing about Peter Jackson’s Smaug is that you don’t get travel weary at all. There is walking and riding horses and walking some more and climbing, and swimming, and falling...The landscape of NewZealand (where the movie is mostly shot) is incredible and rich in color and texture (you will fall in love with grassy lands and fall colors on trees and waterfalls and great magical mountains). The tourism ministry must be inundated with visa applications each time Peter Jackson makes a movie like this, with queries about barrel rides in rivers…

The mythology of the Middle Earth will not sound complicated (you grew up on Amar Chitra Katha and endless repeats of the LOTR trilogy on TV), and neither will you roll your eyes and wonder if Tolkein had a lisp (or a super sense of humor) when he names his characters, ‘Thorin son of Thrain, grandson of Thror, the greedy King Under The Mountain’.

As you start watching this movie, the story and the details on characters you met in The Unexpected Journey will come back to you, just as the scary, ugly Orcs do. No matter how many times I have seen LOTR, the sight of the Orcs, and their propensity for violence makes for superb viewing. What I don’t understand though, is how Azog just doesn’t die. Come on, Mr Jackson, you are forever letting him escape, no matter how many times he going to show up in the movies?

Gandalf of course, must do the Gandalf thing and vanish to do his own thing after leading the travelers to something dangerous. That creepy forest of illusions is indeed creepy, though I would have loved to see more illusions…

It was a treat seeing Legolas of the single expression fame. He’s so good looking, and so fleet-footed, you will love him even more in this movie.

There’s hardly time for desolation here. I could go on about how terrifying the last forty-five minutes are; how magical the set pieces within those last forty-five minutes are; how amazing it is to see rather than hear ‘no man left behind’ speech…

And even though one part of me was expecting the dragon (menacingly voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch) to call out for Mrs. Hudson, you can be sure that you will laugh and whoop and be terrified through this 161 minute long adventure and you will still crave for more decapitated Orcs and evil. Such is its magic.   

(the FilmOrbit website is going for a revamp. will be up soon!)


half a star

Mini Review:

Imagine a Hollywood remake that makes you want to watch Sanjay Dutt and John Abraham, makes you sing like Lara Dutta, ‘Zinda Hooooooooooon Main’... because this boring official remake is just that: boring.

Main Review:

It’s the famous man in suitcase movie. It’s where an octopus is swallowed whole. It’s about vengeance so great your stomach turns…

Never do you imagine you want the hero to have an accident with the hammer and kill himself, or stub his toe at least, so you’d feel some relief from the fakeness on the screen.

A very obviously buff Josh Brolin (look at those muscular arms) sticks his tum out, pretending to be paunchy. This is so fake, Sanjay Dutt saying he’s a software engineer in Zinda is far more convincing. Sanjay Dutt’s ‘Buddhism mein red circle’ wala dialog was more realistic that Josh Brolin’s love for the baby mice.

Even stylistically, if you like the retro colors and Josh Brolin’s sharp suit, you realise that  the attention to detail is like an insult to people with ADD. The famous suitcase scene, uses a Louis Vuitton suitcase. So far so good. Tells you the kidnapper is rich. But Spike Lee might as well have used a VIP suitcase. Because Louis Vuitton (and from the size of it, this was the 1920 Malle Chaussures Shoe trunk). It has the LV monogrammed canvas, but the inside lining is never white. It is beige or brown silk padding. Even if you ignore the inside, they forgot to add the brass edges and horizontal brass straps that Louis Vuitton always used. It was a tad disappointing to see a tacky box masquerading as the most important piece of movie prop.

So what if Sanjay Gupta used silly looking men in capes dancing behind Lara Dutta when she sings, ‘Zindaaaa Hoon Maaaain, Kiske Liye!’, it is far superior to Adrian asking Josh Brolin,’You forgot to ask why I let you live’.

You know that your legs have gone to sleep (in anticipation of the fight scene), and then you go into slowly into a coma because even the gory smash-the-hammer into people scene is dull. For some reason the remove-the-tooth-with-the-hammer in Zinda was so much more visceral.

You stop wondering about the coincidence of how Josh Brolin follows that one bearded guy who ordered like a hundred dumplings. He could be taking them home dumplings to a party! But no! Josh Brolin rides a delivery bicycle to chase the big black SUV and catches everyone and their pet goon unaware… But at some point you stop caring (mine came when Chucky the friend had not moved for 20 years, neither had he aged, and he recognised a drunk person at the doorstep of his bar as a friend from 20 years ago, as if lying down drunk on the street was unique to him).

Somewhere I was thankful that the pivotal sex scene wasn’t there. I am sure it would be so boringly filmed, that falling asleep while writing the review and crashing on to the keyboard (and waking up five hours later with the keyboard imprinted on your cheek) would be more interesting.

If you wish to really experience what it is like to be imprisoned for 20 years, then see this boring film. Make sure your friends tie you to the chair and keep your eyelids propped up so you really watch it.

(the FilmOrbit website where the reviews should be is being revamped. will be up soon!)

Friday, December 06, 2013


half a star

Audience Violent Ho Jaayegi

Mini Review:

Just before the end credits rolled, I laughed out loud when Mukul Dev incited the villagers with, ‘Inko Maaro!’ That’s exactly what you will feel about filmmakers too.

Main Review:

This cinema is a paean to the Crude and the Rude. It goes against everything subtle and gentle. This movie defines paucity of civilized thought.

(Do I hear the argument, ‘This cinema is not meant for critics, it is meant for the masses’. Sure. In that case, read on.)

‘The hero’s thighs are smaller than my biceps’ claims the villain. Whattay dialog. Throw coins at the screen if you have finished admiring massaging pehelvaans and their transparent dhotis (he’s wearing black undies thank goodness, because one pajama clad henchman doesn’t), hairy armpits, an over-dose of muscle (the henchmen have found work in every movie since Dabangg) and a crowd of extra-extra large tits and super-large asses who twerk.

Woo-hoo! The masses love that? Then they’ll love the classy fantasy of, ‘Honeymoon ke liye Paris le jaaoonga, tumhari saree utaar ke aise masal doonga aur phir tumhe yahan (points to lips) mmm (add kissing sound) karoonga...Ho-hoh!’

Wow. Every woman in India (and abroad) was waiting with bated breath crammed in her choli (nary a dupatta covering her what the heroine calls, ‘ding-dong’) for such explicit rape fantasy shared by a man who flexes his pecs while being bathed by women.

But wait, there is gender equality there which you must admire, dear masses. The heroine repeats the dialog, except she’s fantasising about the hero. That makes it all right I suppose.

What is not all right are the fights. Maybe they are realistic. I tried breaking a carrom board over the head of the building watchman (for dozing off on duty), but nothing happened… It did not go through the man’s head, neither did it shatter with that deafening sound. Dammit. Must try again.

As a critic, I only see quarter star worth merit in the perfectly shampooed hair of Mukul Dev. What a pleasure to see it in full slo-mo glory through fights…

The other quarter of the half star goes to the man with iktara who runs in and out of the frame of a song that is not Gandi Baat.

I should be offering more, but I felt rather violent (as part of the masses) and violated (as a critic) after seeing this movie. In a country where filmmakers and stars rubbish reviews regularly (that’s why so many bad-cop/gangster movies continue to bomb), it is my duty to tell you of the wonderful changes watching this movie have brought. Misogyny be damned. Vo-ho! here is a list. Hope you will add to it:

1. I will now with supreme calm gouge out eyes of a live Velociraptor.
2. With my own volition step into magma to check its temperature.
3. Volunteer to diffuse bombs in the absence of a trained bomb squad
4. Walk across a minefield for the common volks.
5. Make running at the bulls at Pampalona voguish.

and to top all this voilence (that’s the hero’s enunciation, so cute naa?):

6. I will kill the spouse of an icchadhari nagin while wearing a violet dress and vomiting.

But first let me change my status message: I have survived R...Rajkumar. Now I have become Death, the destroyer of worlds.

Thursday, December 05, 2013


2 and ½ stars

Uff! Aah! Ouch!

Mini Review:

Written beautifully and directed horribly, this movie is saved by the collective talents of Farooq Sheikh and Sarika, and brilliantly supported by Satish Shah, Tinnu Anand, Sharat Saxena and Vineet Kumar.

Main Review:

With old age come aches and pains. And at the center of this movie is a couple coping with their private ache and must deal with a painful neighbor. 

UFF! That painful neighbor is so loud and so over the top that you’d either slap him when you see him next or walk out of the movie. Raghuvir Yadav (with all his talent), needed a director's firm hand in this movie. His antics are so atrocious, you wish you were not tied to your chair by your fangirl-ness for Farooq Sheikh and Sarika.

The character of Raghuvir Yadav (you later learn), is someone who laughs at life and takes chances by living it up to the fullest. Alas, he just comes across as someone desperate to look young, teeth-grittingly loud, obnoxious to the gills.

By the time you realise (along with Farooq Sheikh and Sarika) how genuinely nice the jovial oldies of Club 60 are, you have killed the extra-loud Raghuvir Yadav in many different ways in your head. Instead of being the glue that holds up the rickety old bunch together, the crassness of his character is what spoils the movie. We all know an older uncle who acts younger than his age. But he is usually the comic relief at weddings or funerals. Never the hero.

AAH! If you can get past the strident Manubhai (Raghuvir Yadav), you will be moved to tears by the pain and love and the wonderful relationship shared by Farooq Sheikh and Sarika. The parts are so well written, you actually remember the dialog about how some walls break during an earthquake and other stand, but it does not mean that the wall which is still standing did not feel the earth quake.

The relationship with an ungrateful son that Suhasini Mulay’s character tries so hard to keep, and how her husband (Satish Shah) thinks it is a pointless, thankless task, is beautifully written too. Zafar, played by Tinnu Anand tells you the story of an old parent whose grown up son lives thousands of miles away. There is gentleness in the writing which is amazing, but when it translates into a scene, and is brought together as a movie, you wish it had been done with a little more care.

Instead of allowing the wonderful characters he has created to draw the audience, the writer-director opts for cheap laughs provided by Raghuvir Yadav’s clothes and his tacky jeep and the overly sexual banter between the elderly friends. This is the very first time I was touched by the characters and identified with their troubles and at the same time repelled by the crassness of Raghuvir Yadav’s character, the ever annoying, ever-present comic background score.

I would have loved to know more about the man in the club who starts drinking at ten in the morning, about the happy Nalini Doctor who doesn't mind flirting with Manubhai, even a little more about how Dhillon met his Maya or why he was not marrying her, why Zafar Bhai did not want to go to Australia. All these interesting things are barely touched upon and as they say in Bombay, ‘Raghuvir Yadav bahut footage khaata hai.’ We got that he is loud, he whistles at girls on the road, drives a loud car, why does the director need to use a sledgehammer to drive home that crassness, again and again?

All is not lost, direction wise. I loved how a reluctant Farooq Sheikh is shown slowly getting used to and begin to actually socializing with the 60s bunch.. 

Why Farooq Sheikh used to be such a heartthrob is still evident. Even though he's now rather jowly and portly, there is something amazing about his brand of acting. And Sarika? Once she was just considered to be stunning. Now she’s simply stunning and a stupendous actor as well. 

OUCH! What a treat it is, to watch these stars shine again. But do wait for this movie to show up on TV. it would be easier to mute (or cut the volumen) the parts where Manubhai shows up on screen.


3 and 1/2 stars

Hunt Me A Revolution Fantasy

Mini Review:

The Jennifer Lawrence juggernaut grows with this second of the Hunger Games trilogy. Watch it because you need a bit of awesomeness in your life.

Main Review:

I read the Hunger Games trilogy because I was hoping for something, anything to keep my inner teenager alive (Harry Potter was grown up and Twilight’s blood lust was never really my thing). The first movie introduced us to Katniss Everdeen and she instantly became hero for a generation of young girls who needed a role model.

We needed someone who did not wear pink. Someone who did not mind her dress burning up. Someone who could kill.

Catching Fire starts building up ever so slowly. Reintroducing us to the evil of grown ups, President Snow (could anyone else play evil as well as Donald Sutherland? He is brilliant) and the cruel Commander Thread, the helpless grownups like Effie (What awesome costumes Elizabeth Banks gets to wear. Look out for the sigh-inducing butterfly costume!), and each of the characters who will be a part of Hunger Games Two. The ever so affable Woody Harrelson plays the drunk mentor just as well as he did in the earlier movie. Lenny Kravitz of the golden eyeshadow creates awesome costumes for Katniss this time around as well.

But when the games start, you realise, that the teenage you were (I grew up watching Back To the Future) is a wet Diwali firecracker compared to what teenagers today are watching. More than once I was jolted out of my seat with the challenges the kids in the arena faced.

This is not for the faint-hearted grownups and certainly not for little kids. I don’t care if these are special effects. The ferocity of the creatures had me cringing for the rest of the movie.

No. Let me correct that. The movie truly pushes you down a gigantic mountain and you gather sticks and stones of your assumptions about movies for teens, you collect your fears in barf bags because this movie is about literally killing competition, you grasp all the cliches you can and then ignore them because it is okay that you can predict who dies and who lives, because it is a visual spectacle and not just another teen movie.

Some crotchety folk will complain about how it gives you a taste of the fire and then it sort of keeps you guessing. But my only complaint so far about this movie has been the boys who Katniss likes. Peeta Mellark looks tame next to Katniss, and the lesser of the Hemsworth lads, who plays Katniss’s love interest Gale is relegated mostly to the mines and is shown getting beaten up all the time. Are we saying strong women end up with less than equal, lame lads?

Watch this movie, and the third, and then buy the DVD so you can watch them all together. And play a drinking game (Tang please. Or anything age appropriate) each time Jennifer Lawrence is seen without her bow...

Friday, November 29, 2013


1 star

Dum Dum Bullet

Mini Review:

This color-by-numbers North Indian Goondas Are Cool movie is as teeth-gratingly predictable as the South Cool Cop remakes every Bollywood hero has made. Tigmanshu Dhulia misfires. Audience dies of boredom.

Main Review:

Take a little notebook and let’s make a checklist. It’s a Tigmanshu Dhulia film, so it will be set in Gawalier, ya phir Benaras, Kanpur ya phir Nukhlow (yes, we’re phonetically original like that).

Angreji will be spoken, and while the item number will be phor locals who spik englis with paan laced jubaan, the great director will surprise you with one goonda character who speaks English like he just had tea at 10 Downing Street. (Your mind’s eye can almost see members of the durbaar at the Director’s den rubbing their hands in glee for having 'ideated' such a character.)

Speaking of item numbers, please someone, hammer that last nail in the coffin of an actor who was considered to be spunky and brilliant when she showed up in Dev D and who is now reduced to pukeworthy gyrations in tacky costumes to lyrics like, ‘Don’t touch my bawwdy, o mor-e saiyyan’. Alas, you want to say, no one would want to touch it. Not even with a barge pole.

So we’ve ticked language, location and item number. Now for the cast. Every person you saw in Tigmanshu Dhulia’s earlier films has been given a part here. Jimmy Shergill, Vipin Sharma et al. Not a single surprise there. But yes, you’ll wonder as a fellow critic (must be a fan of Sonakshi Sinha) did. How can she not carry a plate of laddoos for the hero? It made me come back from the movie and check her other movies. He’s right. She does appear with a plate of laddoos in her other films. So half a star for doing something unexpected there.

But yes, why is Sonakshi Sinha accepting these vapid roles? Where she sings a romantic song in a garden to the hero and he keeps visualising his male friend smiling lovingly back at him? When you see the silliness of singing forgettable songs with yellow taxis of Kolkata (so cool in Kahani), you miss the tulip fields and chiffon sarees in Switzerland type songs.That romantic track was as pointless as the visit to Mumbai so they could tick-mark a disco song in the movie.

And apologies to the audience who might want to see wholesome on the screen. But it would be nice if the heroine was a tad slimmer. I mean, slim enough to fit into the cupboard, perhaps? And why is the audience expected to laugh at a hero who is afraid of flying when he is with the heroine but when flying alone, he has no such fears to be overcome?

So the predictability check list is growing. Add to that, the hairless cleavage of the hero. Here I must give half a star to the unpredictable bronzer the make up person has used on that cleavage. Saif Ali Khan’s cleavage was sometimes Fair and Lovely and at other times Florida Tanning-Bed Bronze. And with Jimmy Shergill, their joint hair lengths kept fluctuating so much it reminded me of Salman Khan’s hair in Veer.

Thankfully the bullets from goonda guns behave as predictably as if they were taught by Stormtroopers in Star Wars. You are subjected to the sound and fury of a blazing gun battle for fifteen minutes, and then the baddie says, ‘Hamare chaar aadmi mar gaye.’ Practically no one dies. Of course, there is a sleazy Chunkey Pandey who betrays the uncle. Could you get any more predictable than that?

And then the hero needs some same ole revenge thing. The audience would have been happier had the director killed the heroine instead of the hero’s love interest. The bromance has so much more chemistry, so many more possibilities…

But no one’s thinking. They just want the audience to whistle and clap (like the stupid construction workers who are all in the way of bullets, but not one gets killed) when the hero’s satin shirts never get singed even when he stuffs his gun into the front of his pants. Has no one ever fired a gun ever? Gun barrels get really hot to touch when they are fired as much as they are shown to do in these movies. You've seen smoke come out of barrels, yes? It’s a fact. Each time the hero pumps bullets into a hundred baddies, and then shoves his gun into the waistband, I cringe…

But most cringeworthy is the end of the film, where the director of a fine movie like Paan Singh Tomar begins to explain again and again who lives and who dies. 

'He rendered the audience stupid with the whole whole movie', my head says to my disenchanted heart, 'that’s why he needs to explain the twist naa…'

I can’t even kill myself with those guns that have been stuffed in those creepy crotches, I shudder as I emerge from the movie. And sigh as I realise that even if I did wipe the gun with a sanitizer, the dum dum bullets would not let me die. What tedium this has been…