Friday, January 30, 2015


Story Kam, Baki Sab Jyadaa

1 star

Mini Review:

Shorts were jyada short, love was jyada fake, sets had jyada things, walls had jyada posters, costumes were more than jyada,  Mithunda had jyada wigs, poor Ayushman had jyada curls, film had bahut jyada songs, all actors were jyada melodramatic... Audience was laughing (with helplessness) bahut jyada too...

Main Review:

When your audience wants your hero to die, it is hardly a good sign. Especially because you are banking on his dimples to help you carry a five minute story better told here for 157 minutes through a maze of bottles and bonsai plants, wigs and plates and posters and birds and cages and candlesticks and Goldberg machines and books and over-upholstered chairs, and things...

You begin laughing when a young lady sitting next to you chokes over her popcorn upon sighting Ayushman Khurana in shorts shorter than politeness dictates. Poor girl, you think, she is scarred for life. For her sake, I will share this, so she does not ever think men should not wear short shorts. 

And you wish the coffee in your hands contained something stronger than caffeine when you see Ayushman being made to pull faces, imitating Ranbir Kapoor's Barfi act. Not even his dimples can save him. And that hat! That hat! You begin to hate that thing. But more than that you wonder why he's carrying that trumpet around... What a useless thing.

It's not just things, the whole movie is cluttered. The actors are overdressed. They overact. Each time someone speaks, they are trying so hard to prove that they are Marathi, they spout awful mixed up dialog that is fake. Now Mithun Chakraborty is brilliant as a crotchety old man in Guru, and he is totally over the top funny in Oh My God but here, in the wig that changes color and a moustache that competes with a walrus, you want to say, 'Bahut jyada ho gaya, dada!'

And the unintentional laughter continues when the old man tells his apprentice, 'There are many ways in which I need you...'

The hero, Ayushman Khurana, usually cute is so annoying, each time someone tells him 'Ja, ud ja!' you begin to laugh because you are so fed up, you also want him to fly away and never come back too. Plus, his every time his unfortunate name is mentioned (the Marathi hero's name is 'shivi' which means 'curse') you want to. Really. 

'Tu Mera Shivi Hai!' takes on funnier and funnier connotations.

In the meanwhile, it is just Intermission and you are completely lost in Sanjay Leela Bhansali's warehouse. And Ayushman Khurana begins to look like Weird Al 

And the heroine, poor girl! Not only is she made to gyrate to pointless songs, she is kuch jyada hee fake as a nautch girl. Imagine the scene:

Romantic cotton fibre flowating around in the air, and him proposing in third person, 'Marry him.', 'Marry him!', 'Marry him!' 

You try not to imagine Bollywood diva Rekha writing this dialog, but then you begin to laugh jyada loudly when the heroine says, 'But I have lost all my adaayein, my nakhres...'

The audience joins you when you chuck the popcorn at the screen. Another song! Are there more songs in this movie than Inder Sabha? That had 71 songs. I looked around for Kumar Gandharv's ghost in the dark when they ruin a deeply spiritual 'Ud Jaayega Hans Akela' by converting it to Pantomime or something out of dance dramas you were made to perform in school.

I have never laughed (and groaned) so much at a screening. You know the film was made with good intentions, but those curls, those clothes, those shorts? Jyada ho gaya...

Come to think of it, the name of the movie is rather apt in a Shakespearean way, 'Full of sound and fury, signifying nothing'. Or as they say in Bambai, 'Isme hawa bahut jyada hai, boss!'


This Birdman Flies!

3 stars

Mini Review:

Sparkling dialog, relentless dizzying camerawork, and story that defies time! As a Carver fan, I hated what Innaritu did to the author. But I loved it for the madness, for the defiance, for the drums, and for the superb ensemble cast.

Main Review:

There will be voices in the theater grumbling about the insanity of the screenplay, the wild structure and the topsy-turvy timeline, but if you allow the drums to guide you, you will enjoy this trip to the movies. 

In the movie, Micheal Keaton plays an ex-movie star who has put his everything on the line to make it as a Broadway star. And nothing, nothing seems to be going right. You can taste his failure, his fear, his loneliness...

So it's not by chance that Innaritu chooses Raymond Carver. The man who changed our view of loneliness and depression and all things commonplace in all ordinary people. He gave new meaning to empathy. But the nagging voice in my head says, 'But that is done so badly in the movie, the writers needed to have really read Carver to understand him.' Carver is not fireworks and curse words and melodrama. He is as genuine as his characters - people who know what it is to work in 'non-descript' jobs, living in cheap motels - not at all like Riggin Thompson played by an angry, frustrated Micheal Keaton...

In the original story, The doctor played by Micheal Keaton has spent five years in a seminary before medical school. It alarmed me to hear so many curse words... Hardly something Carver would approve. In fact, here is how Carver himself tells us how to hear the story 'What We Talk About When We Talk About Love' Innaritu uses in the movie. And I'm sorry to say, they fail.

But if you are unaware of Carver's stories, then how Innaritu ruins the essence of the original will not matter to you. It will be just a small element of madness in a larger scheme of things. 

And what amazing madness! He experiments with a crazy camera that follows the characters relentlessly, never blinking, never stopping, always following the dialog without a pause, and you think that the movie has been shot in a single take. Delightful mostly, but as claustrophobic as the warren of corridors inside the theatre where the whole drama takes place. What glorious drama too! Everyone is a diva and everyone is depressed. Everyone has a secret and everyone is a star. It's like being a pushed into being in the middle of a crisis in an Indian dysfunctional joint family. 

The crazy camera will stun you, no doubt. But not at the expense of the characters. Each has been created with so much madness in mind, you want to be able to copy those smart comebacks and use it in your life some time. A casual flirtation between Emma Stone and Edward Norton (how awesome is that!) turns stupendous, and I will try to quote:

'What would you dare to do with me, then?'
'I would gouge your eyes out and put them in my head and then see the world the way you do...'

I was too busy clutching my heart (which was beating so loudly I am sure everyone heard) to notice if the women in the audience had all swooned after hearing something like that, or watch the men in the audience exclaiming about thinking of other things to do with her...

The theater critic who writes reviews from a pub without even watching the play and the frustration of the director of the play, the father-daughter relationship, the love hate relationship between theater and film and more, is brilliantly shown. What touched me is the agony of the man who is still looking for relevance in his own life. And that is why I suppose the movie has been nominated at the Oscars. 

If you don't remember the Carver quote at the beginning of the movie ('Did you get what you wanted from this life...'), it's okay. Do notice the little note stuck to the mirror in Riggan's room: A Thing Is A Thing, Not What Is Said About The Thing'

Get off your high horse about Carver and have fun watching this movie and being a little scandalised at the sharp dialog. Devilishly good. 


Caught Me By The Jugular

4 stars

Mini Review:

This is a mad, mad movie about a wrestler and his mentor. About a wrestler and his brother. About money and power and the desperate need to own and breed champions! About Oscar worthy performances from Steve Carell and Channing Tatum. Yes, you read the last line right.

Main Review:

Who would've thunk that the twinkle-toes star of Step Up (yes, the dance movie) who bulked up to save presidents and the western world from terrorists, would give up so much of himself and actually play a part that would mean re-shaping his body, his walk, his demeanor to something - I frankly thought - wasn't in him. Channing Tatum is a surprise as Mark Schulz the wrestling champion. 

And although the movie is about the sport of wrestling and about the struggles of an Olympics champion to remain one, if you go back to the title of the movie, you know Channing Tatum is not really the hero of the movie. It is about the man who hunts down the Fox. The man who stands tall behind the champion. Or in this case in front of the champion. 

This man is the eccentric billionaire John Du Pont, played by Steve Carell. Now I would have scoffed at the very idea, because one has seen Steve Carell play Evan Almighty, Sherman, Walt, even Gru... Roles that mean not much, or ask much from the actor. But here. Oh Mah Gawd! He is stupendous. He is so good at being bad, you want to throw things at him. He is so good at being John Du Pont, the megalomaniac, you forget that he was ever Evan Almighty. You feel sorry for him and then you want to bury him alive. You forget that this is a movie about wrestling and you wait for John to enter into the frame, any frame, and own it. 

And if you think you can 'see it coming', you would be wrong. This movie is so fabulous, you watch slack-jawed at the relationship between the wrestler and his sponsor and come out wondering if the relationships in your life are somewhat similar...


Isme Action Hai, Romance Hai, Fantasy Hai...

1 star

Mini Review:

Dragons and witches, ghostly spirits and castles, monsters and men in tights, swords and magic, a hero who looks like a poor man's Keanu Reeves... Oh! There's Jeff Bridges too, and Julianne Moore captures him with her steel tail. What's not to like?

Main Review:

When you know that the special effects giant John Dykstra (Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica, Firefox, Batman, Spiderman 2, X Men First Class) has worked on this film, you go in expecting a treat. It doesn't disappoint because your heart is in your mouth more than a couple of times. The mega humongo bear who changes size at will, the dragons, the beautiful but deadly leopard morphs into gorgeous but deadly woman, the big gentle giant (who thankfully remains just that), singing trees and talking butterflies (should have been there, they would fit right in) not to mention ghostly spirits that fly about filling the scenery...

Jeff Bridges is crusty, but his weird beard sort of kills the crush we could have had... Julianne Moore's steel tail and spine are nothing less than amazing, but she fails to instill fear. 
It's also not Ben Barnes' fault that he looks like a poor man's Keanu Reeves. Trouble is, you don't care if he's 'the one' like we do for Neo in the Matrix.

There's also a beautiful young witch made for Ben. And moonlight. And kissing. But you don't care. You wish there was a little more to the story and a lot less predictability - a movie that was promised in the trailer.

Alas, the story is so straightforward you begin to wonder if this is why there is a long list of stars who dropped out of this movie (Jennifer Lawrence, Imogen Poots) why this movie has been so delayed, and mostly why A R Rahman (rumored to have been signed up) was missing too...

It's a movie you might watch if there was nothing else to do. Even then, you'd wish for a little more of the world Jeff Bridges lives in, a little more legend and less roaring from transforming creatures...   

Friday, January 23, 2015

Review: Baby

Baybee! You Are Exhaustive And Exhausting!
But Whattay Fake Mooch!

3 stars

Mini Review:

It's a fight between Big Beard and Slim Mooch. Tense, annoying, exhausting, thrilling, fun, interesting, predictable. Beard loses, Mooch wins. And you come out having aged. Horribly. 

Main Review:

It is written. This triumph of the fake Mooch. It boldly goes where many Bollywood movies have gone before, seeking out meaner and meaner bearded terrorists, boldly traversing the known universe of hate at warp-the-audience's-mind speed. You may like it or hate it, but it keeps your attention.

Starship Baby is commanded by Captain Shredded Scotchbrite Slim Mooch, and ably assisted by Hairpiece and Small Beard (and Muscle) while reporting to a 'Head' that is fittingly bald. They all have moochs to remind us what side they are on.

The rule of the movie is clear. Anyone without facial furniture is going to be blown up by a bomb or die horribly. 

They make poor Tawde shave off his mooch so that his death can be explained off to the follicular police! Clean shaven Jamal who should have had a beard dies horribly. So does the color lens wearing slow-moving Bilal (clean shaven again)... 

Everything proceeds according to the Bible of Cliches for Terrorists & Cops Movies:

1. The politicians in a wood paneled office are skeptical about the operations of the Mooch unit. 

2. Big Beard makes anti mooch speeches from a place titled: 'Somewhere in the border area' to his bearded followers. (No, the orange beards are definitely not enthusiastic BJP workers). 

3. The city of Istanbul, Middle East Resort and Kathmandu are shown how far Slim Mooch will travel to find Big Beard.

You only wish, that the movie had been true to its bible and made sure that the annoying wife of Slim Mooch died horribly too. Had the audience been given guns instead of popcorn, at least 25% would have used it to kill her. The rest would have taken away her phone. 

But there is a redeemer for the Mooch troops who have no facial hair. Tapasi Pannu. She keeps your attention rivetted as she beats up a moochless-beardless baddie. 

4. And as is tradition, Slim Mooch will be injured and will bite the bullet like the Rambo that he is. Here Mooch gets stabbed in the hospital and we see blood oozing out of wound. But he's in the Middle East and the doctors possibly don't stitch up the patient by cauterizing wound with alcohol. But Slim Mooch is better than Rambo. He has medical supplies in his travel case. And Ray Bans to mask his pain.

Big Beard loses his facial hair and you are just told that he does horribly in some exotic land called Kashmir. You wonder why they did not kill him in Chennai, but you're distracted by someone sitting next to you texting their girlfriend, 'Killer movie hai!' 

Even though there are cool lines like (maarne ki) 'Aadat hai!', there are totally stupid characters like the Al Dera Cop which makes you want to stab yourself and die.

You know Murali Sharma gets slapped because he has no facial hair. And you also know that on the balcony he stares at Slim Mooch the way he does, because he's hoping the monkey who slaps Akshay Kumar in his moochless movies would appear and oblige him.

But Neeraj Pandey does have a knack of keeping you interested in this cliche ridden convoluted plot even though you check many times to see if your feet got nailed to the ground while you were watching Danny Denzongpa say 'plausible deniability' not once but several times... 

P.S.: For the women in the audience, there's a lad called Ashfaq who competes with Fawad Khan. He's got a beard, but he's really on Mooch's side... 


Review: Dolly Ki Doli

Dolly Different Hai. But Is She 'Good' Different?

1 and 1/2 stars

Mini Review:

This movie won't make you eat your Jimmy Choos. But it won't make you dance in them either. It's like eating Karachi Halwa or Petha from Agra. You take a bite, but swallowing it is an experience you ...

Main Review:

The story is not bad. Not bad at all. Trouble is you watch the whole movie like you watch your high school reunion group carry on a conversation on Whatsapp. It has a promise, but you read each message with increasing trepidation... Is it another smarmy emoticon ridden message or a joke or an 'inspirational' forward from the past century? You wish you could sign out the moment Malaika Arora shows up for her 'standard' item number, but you do want to know what happens to Mohammad Zeeshan Ayub's love arc in the story.

Seriously, Sonam Kapoor's wardrobe so much, so much better in this movie than in Khoobsurat, and the marketing team should have tied up with bridal magazines who could used this movie as a showcase... But the story wraps up earlier than its really economical 100 minutes and you wish you were like dadi, happy to be stoned.  

And Sonam Kapoor says, 'Jhand' without batting an eyelash, but you're still trying to recover from the implausibility of the 'only one photographer' at Indian weddings...

Again, I liked the 'cool' references to Facebook but could not believe that none of the men would want selfies with their trophy bride to be.  

A Marathi movie 'Premasathi Coming Suunn' released in December 2014 was exactly like this movie, and looking at how it was rated as good, clean fun, I suppose this one is too. But they say 'brapanty' not once, but three times and you know they've run out on jokes.

Some of the alcohol laden dialog of the various suitors is great fun but if you think that the universe of this movie is about those odd men, then Sonam Kapoor stands out like Manhattan in Meerut. 

I apologise for the number of negatives here, and I will be the first to admit that it is change from the damsel in distress roles for heroines we get to see in a movie. But we are not told what drives Sonam and the gang to do what they do. We know why Danny Ocean wants to rob the casino. We know why the bride is looking for Bill. But why is this motley bunch does what they do, we are never told. When do they stop? Why do they not stop?

Archana Puran Singh's body language when she wears a caftan is simply outstanding. The cast is decent. But Pulkit Samrat just looks plainly out of place. He's just not Dabanng enough (or comes across as clever enough) to carry that role.

P.S. This review took longer than the movie to write. That's because I've tried hard to like this movie. It is something that's different from the usual Hindi movie fare. Unfortunately, it's like watching a grown up attempt Snapchat...


Friday, January 16, 2015

Review: The Theory Of Everything

All Hail Eddie!

4 stars

Mini Review:

This is a movie on the life of Stephen Hawking. But truly, there is only one star, and that's Eddie Redmayne. He he shines, and shines. Earns every star this movie earns, no matter who reviews the film.

Main Review:

It helps that the film has been designed so beautifully, and that it is shot during an eternal summer in Cambridge. Also there's that luminous, fragile yet determined Felicity Jones who makes a wonderful foil to Eddie's genius.

But the film remains a showcase for the young man who showed up in Les Miserables and stole a scene or two from Wolverine who was transformed for that movie. And as one is wont to, one followed up online to check out his stage performance as Richard II and as Ken Rothko's fan/assistant in Red. 

Most people might find Stephen Hawking's genius hard to comprehend but Eddie Redmayne makes it accessible. He is no more that intimidating robotic voice you heard in Physics class, drowning you by the colossal weight of the words. You did not see the humor because you were so busy trying to grasp the concepts. In fact, the movie brings out the humanity in someone you thought was leagues away.

Yes, you will want to read more about Hawking (Wired magazine brings some brilliantly written articles about the prof), and that's a good thing too, because his life has truly been miraculous.

The movie is a biopic and most biopics make me slump in the theatre seat with coffee, wishing there was something stronger than caffeine in the cup. But The Theory Of Everything makes you sit up and pay attention. You like this young man who announces that he is going to work on 'Time'. Is it because he is socially awkward? Is it because he has that bright spark in his eye when he tells the girl that 'he's studying to be a cosmologist'

And Eddie Redmayne makes you hurt when he falls down, makes your fingers ache when his do, and when he insists that 'everything is normal' you are frustrated at him.

No one - yes, I confess - no one, has managed to bring out so much emotion from this usually cynical viewer of cinema. And this film works because there are no sides taken, no judgements passed. And the cast performs flawlessly.

I have said too much already. Go book tickets. Watch a fabulous star being born: Eddie Redmayne.

p.s. I've thought and thought if there's any Bollywood actor who could have done justice to this role, and I don't think there's anyone. Not Irrfan not Aamir...


Thursday, January 15, 2015

Review: The Imitation Game

Gobsmackingly Engaging!

4 stars

Mini Review: 

If you use any computing device, then set it aside and go back to a wonderful homage to the father of computing: Alan Turing. Marvelously scripted, and even more brilliantly portrayed, this fine film will make you stand up and applaud.

Main Review:

There are movies meant for popcorn and stolen kisses. And then there are movies like The Imitation Game, which keep you engaged from the very first question, 'Do you want to play?'

And then it takes you back to the war. Not the sand filled war Americans seem to be waging with 'savages', but the one that took over world and gave us heroes who worked behind the scenes to save lives.

Or did they?

Did they play God? How did a bunch of gifted crossword puzzle solvers save the world?

The Avengers it is not. There are no spectacular special effects, no larger than life Hulk smashing his way through aliens, nothing. It took crazy cryptographers led by Alan Turing to smash the unbreakable Enigma.

You are frustrated when they are, you laugh with them, and your heart is yanked out and smashed by a sledgehammer when you see how draconian laws treated people. I have not felt so moved in a movie as I did in this one. The father of computing, treated like that?!

But then you want to throw something at the screen, for something else entirely. This movie has Keira Knightley. The weakest link. Now don't get me wrong. She was brilliant in Atonement and even Dangerous Method and Hole. But here, she is just a simpering miss and I couldn't, just couldn't take her seriously. 

There should have been five stars... But they had to choose her... Sigh. 

Review: Paddington

Barely Bearable!

1 star

Mini Review:

If Paddington is a lovable bear that gets into mischief, then there aren't enough funny parts for the kids. And if it is a story of being homeless and around mean people, you'll find kids wailing and clutching you in fear.

Main Review:

When movies meant for kiddies, speak of dead parents and scary orphanages, being homeless, being alone out on your own in the snow and the rain, you should know that the kids in the audience are going to erupt in wails of 'I want to go home!' and 'I want to go to the bathroom'... Embarrassed parents would be shushing and hushing them up with promises of chocolate...

And that is exactly what happened at the preview theater where the movie was screened. It started with a man with a funny mooch (funny according to grown ups, scary for the kids, as he's had a gun and he was hunting bears!), and the kids curled themselves into the seats, not opening their eyes until Paddington was named and accepted by the Browns.

The fun of Paddington in the bathroom was short, and the rest of the story had the kids screaming, 'mommmmmmmyyyyyyyyy'...

For grown ups too, the movie sends out mixed signals: am I supposed to love the concept of a fun life on a Triumph changing into a station wagon life because one is now 'mom'?

When a fun movie distracts you so much, then perhaps it's a failure.

And when I got home, I was terrified to look at my teddy bear. Did the very baaaad lady stuff my huggy bear too? I want my mommmmmm!  

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Review: American Sniper

Hollywood Ka Dabanng!

one star

Mini Review:

Yet another American in Iraq story. True, but trite. It's almost like every Hollywood hero wants to play soldier (just like Hindi movie stars). Thankfully their shirts don't come off and they don't sing around the minefield...

Main Review: 

For the last few years Hollywood has been going on overdrive feeding us true stories about the 'Ai-raaq' war, painting the enemy as 'savages'. Looks like they've found their Dabanng and Wanted and R. Rajkumar and Singham. Movies like Hurt Locker have even won accolades.

This movie gets Bradley Cooper to bulk up and show up steely eyed and even kill 'savages'. He's a Navy SEAL and a sniper with the highest number of kills to his name. Now that's a real story, and like all dramatised 'true stories', American Sniper pushes all the right buttons. The hero is a star, on the war-front and in his personal life. But how many times have you seen a soldier saving a woman at a bar and then end up marrying her? How many times have you seen a Catholic lad turning soldier for God and Country? How many times have you seen siblings save each other in a war situation? How many times have you seen a soldier talk about 'when I go back I will marry her', or 'when I go back I will go back to the farm of my childhood' and then be the first man who is blown up to bits. The hero of course has promised to help his family...

Predictability aside, the scene where the flag is folded and handed to the widow or the mother of a soldier still makes one's heart well up and tears fall. One is not immune to the scene no matter how many times one has seen it in the movies.

The war scenes have been shot rather well, although you wonder why the drones are used only for surveillance and not to bomb the enemy.

Scenes with little children murderous or not always make me queasy and two in the movie have been placed rather well. They keep your heartbeats at pause and you are forced to participate in the situation. 

At the heels of Unbroken, which is shot beautifully, this movie seems to work only at the heartstrings. Both movies work with cliches even in the villains. Just that the the single minded Syrian sniper Mustapha in this movie wins a star all by himself with his long, curling lashes. But why he's fighting in Iraq, why he turned into a soldier after having been an Olympian gold medalist, why is his family located in the middle of a war... These are questions that are not answered. He's just shows up as a bad guy who kills American soldiers in the head. But such beautiful eyelashes...

Hey! I'm trying to find something good here. It's directed by Clint Eastwood, after all. But then I'd rather you go back to your DVD collection and watch Grand Torino all over again. This war movie is Hollywood's Dabanng.


Friday, January 09, 2015

Review: Tevar

Yet another Zombie film...

One Star

Mini Review:

What could have been a fun small town caper film, turns into this ghastly copycat DabanngSinghamRRajkumarActionJackson filled with zombies.

Main Review:

'We're bunking to see this movie because anything will be better than Pooja ma'am's lecture' chorused the college kids who entered the first day first show (9.15am at PVR ECX) with me. The lady sitting next to me knows someone who produced the movie, 'I'm not diplomatic, so I don't get invited to previews,' she said.

Aah, well. I just might save you readers from bad cinema, I think, and I begin to fill the seat like Col. Nathan Jessop standing tall on the borders...

Not bad, I think. Hero saves the day with Kabaddi. Even though Vrajesh Hirjee is a friend and he has written and sung this Kabaddi anthem for us, I am clueless about the game. So I sort of like the hero who plays Kabaddi (despite the thigh slapping!).  

Niiice, I say, when I meet Pinki in the movie. I think she is going to be like Dee Dee (cartoon Dexter's annoying sister) or like Candace (Phineas's sister from Phineas and Ferb) ... 

Alas. the movie does not let the idea of 'Pintu Bhaag Gaya' blossom at all. I wanted to know why Pintu ran, where does he go to when he runs, how could he be kept confined to a room when his sister expects him to answer the phone which was downstairs.

But I realised that I had been temporarily blinded by Pinki and I should have remembered that this was a Hindi film after all. And not just any film, but a zombie film. Half the star awarded to this film goes to Pinki. And the second half to whoever thought up a great character quirk, a character picks out peas from her food and puts it aside. Unfortunately, this brilliant character quirk has been given to Sonakshi Sinha, who is in her zombie role.

Uff! What is this 'zombie', 'zombie' thing?

Let me explain. Zombies are supposed to be brainless. So are films like these. Zombies wander the streets, hungry for human flesh/brains. Films like these sorely need brains too. Zombies do only what zombies do. This movie too is full of stock characters and situations that go through the motions as zombies do.

As Col. Nathan Jessop whose job is to stand guard at the borders of cinema and protect you from bad movies, I have made a little checklist of zombie things and zombie people. If you find more than five in any movie this year, stay away from it:


1. Small Town in the cow belt.
2. Politicians or relatives of politicians in the cow belt town
3. Good Policeman, bad policemen
4. Damsel in Distress played by Sonakshi Sinha
5. Extras running with swords
6. Extras traveling in SUVs
7. Extras who are called 'Kakdi', 'Toap', 'Burbak', 'Pehelwaan' and so on
8. Anyone wearing a gamchha (the red and white chequered scarf)
9. Anyone saying, 'Phonwa', 'Dekh Lenge', 'Thakur, 'Bhaisaab', 'Katta'
10. Ganga Aarti performed by pandit who sports big mooch
11. Bad guy as played by Manoj Bajpai.
12. Any characters called 'Bhaiyyaji', 'Bahubali', 'Bhowji', 'launda'
13. Deepti Naval wrapped in shawl playing mother
14. Holi, Mela, Not-so-giant wheels, candy floss, mithai ki dukaan, 
15. Songs with words like, 'Saiyyan', 'Pardes', 'Radhe', 'Sawan', sung Shubha Mudgal style
16. Fight Scene where villain gets slapped by hero and loses his hearing
17. Hero's horizontally challenged friend with funny name
18. Hero's over-sexed friend (so we suffer dialog like, 'Chhat par Chhed kyon kar rahe ho!')
19. Hero's joblessness
20. Someone taking credit for 'background score'

And why drag a zombie through mud and blood? Pointless last hour. Filled with cliches of fight during Holi, Rain, Small alleys...  

You know the director has an eye for detail when the camera catches picture of Krishna and Radha on the wall when they're running in the rain, how the overhead hanging light shines on the two when they're hiding from the baddies (in the rain) and so on... No matter how nice the touches are (loved how Sonakshi hides behind a door that has a chain lock), the movie begins to put your brains through a cheese grater.

Yes, what could have been a fun caper when Pintu runs away again and again, turned out to something so bad, I came out feeling rather numb



Review: Taken 3

Quite Taken In...

1 star

Mini Review:

Watching a movie to review when you're smitten by the lead character is a daft thing to do. But despite being wholly predictable, the movie makes you want to know how the hero will win...

Main Review:

Ever since Liam Neeson picked up the phone and spoke his mind, one has been smitten by the swift vengeance he wreaks upon the men who kidnapped his daughter. Not since 
John McLane met Hans Gruber at the Nakatome Towers during the holidays had we rooted so much for the hero.

But that was the original movie. The sequel (Taken 2) took us to Istanbul and as most sequels make you feel, you wanted to ask, 'whyyyyyy?'

So I entered the preview theater with fingers, eyes and toes crossed. Having read Pete Bradshaw's review had not helped...

But when the lights dimmed and I saw Liam Neeson buy a giant stuffed Panda for his daughter's birthday, I forgot everything else.

I will be the first one to admit that it is wholly predictable. The car chases, the guns and the bullets and the baddies falling like nine pins... You've seen it before. And I'm usually the first one to groan out loud. And then you wish Luc Besson had seen this wholly unrelated but appropriate poster.

A tired sequel is a pain to watch. But there's something so honest about the character of Bryan Mills that you are willing to give him a chance to beat up the baddies and save his family, one more time (Or have something other than the ghastly PK play the theatres).

Honestly, you could watch Liam Neeson assure his daughter, 'It's going to be okay.' on TV. and save your arteries from the multiplex samosa. But I like his vulnerability as a father and the assured violence as a protector on the big screen.

Doesn't help, eh?

Well, as they ask a reviewer, again and again, 'Kitne star diye?' before they book their tickets, my suggestion is to look at the stars in the movie. There is but one. He's Liam Neeson. And he's far easier on the eye than the goggle-eyed alien staring at you from the billboards.

One part of me hopes there won't be any more sequels of Taken. But there is that grandpappy role Liam Neeson would be just perfect for...