Friday, February 26, 2016


Silly Fun! Almost.

1 star

Mini Review:

You know this is a terrible film. It has all kinds of racist jokes. It has stupid gags. But you laugh at the sheer bravado of the writing. It has this, 'I dare you to keep a straight face!' kind of childish thing... And some jokes do make you laugh. Their tongues might be firmly in their cheeks, but you come away gritting your teeth mostly.

Main Review:

It's a sequel to a funny one trick pony idea wallah film. It's been years since the big bad dude Osama was killed. What is it that they could now say that is funny?

The film starts out on a very dull, predictable premise, and your eyes glaze over the scenes where the real producers of the film are seen listening to a narration from a hopeful filmmaker. But before you yawn, David DoSomething shows up on screen. Whiter than white and ready to serve his country.

When the President of the United States cannot get Osama out of his head, he calls on David to come and save the day. Shazam! David Chaddha.

The transformation is so gasp inducing, you look away from the screen, and grin helplessly as you see a big mole being attached. The mole gag is clever, but used too many times to be funny...

Meanwhile in Osama bhakt land, Khaleel the Mujahid is the head of a terrorist gang. He knows he needs Paddi Singh and a fake video to prove Osama is alive. David needs to film proof that Osama is dead. Mayhem ensues because both the CIA (that's 'Cinema In Amrika' for you ignorant multitudes, you!) and Khaleel the terrorist want Paddi Singh.

Almost hilarity happens when the two rival teams cross each other in cars marked 'CIA 2' and another with number plates 'POK 1971'.

The tussle for Osama Lookalike could be fun. But a little predictable. Some bits like Chirag using the supposedly fake gun killing the security guard are really funny. But Paddi Singh kissing the dead guard is plainly not. The cameo by Ali Zafar is pointless and pukeworthy (the song 'Six Pack Abs' could prove to be the worst songs of the year).   

In the 'Not funny', 'Waste of time' checklist are pointless events like 'Vehshat' Olympics for mujahids. The funniest gag about the suicide vest is relegated to the credits.

You do laugh at certain 'Pjs' but it is never a thigh-slapping, snort the cola out of your nose laugh. Wait for it to show up on cable, then judge it for yourself...

p.s. Sikander Kher in this new avatar is funny. 


An Outsider Amongst Us

3.5 stars

Mini Review:

A quiet man at the University suddenly finds himself in the spotlight and he does not like it. How can a life be reduced by one word? Slogans and help are raised in other parts of India to help him. But then his pain is his own. And even then he knows he's the outsider. Alone. This is a tale of nuances and Manoj Bajpayee's performance is a masterclass. Unmissable.

Main Review:

If you googled Professor Srinivas Ramchandra Siras, you would open page after page after page of how we as a society failed an individual. And we continue to do so even today. The state hides behind ancient laws, and we hide behind homophobia instilled into us by years of false information propagated by self-interest groups.

A man who was doing his job quietly for over twenty years, away from home and family for thirty is singled out for being different. And it is done so shamefully, a young journalist driven by the need to see how the professor is faring. What the young journalist discovers is a man who is gentle and eccentric and old. And a victim to a systematic conspiracy to humiliate him.

Through the young reporter's eyes, we meet Professor Siras. Rajkummar Rao does a wonderful job to represent all of us, who have so much sympathy for someone who has been unfairly treated. How cleverly the script takes that sympathy and turns it into empathy! We find ourselves drowning in moments that are made unforgettable by Manoj Bajpayee.

'Aapki nazron ne samjha pyaar ke kaabil mujhe' is the song that comes out from the red two in one, and professor Siras is sitting in front of that altar of songs that mean so much. To watch Manoj Bajpayee lost in that song is a treat indeed. It's like being in a masterclass of acting. That song suddenly becomes more than just a love song. It's a cry for acceptance.

If there was any scene that should be put into a time capsule for posterity, a scene you should put into a textbook as essential for acting, this would be it.

Also the loneliness of this man, who lives in an apartment that has grills on windows everywhere, three locks on the door... No one can miss it. It is there for everyone to see. The loneliness of being Prof. Siras.

Manoj Bajpayee's persona seems to shrink in every scene, as though he is embarrassed to be there. When he's sitting at the doctor's to have his blood pressure checked, when he's sitting in his own home - his body language shows he gathers himself from occupying more space than needed. 

Imagine living an entire life hiding from people, on the fringes, afraid to breathe. Imagine being pushed out of your comfort zone, your home, unceremoniously. Again and again. And not when you are young and resilient, but when you're older and ready to retire. 

The easy bond that develops between the journalist and the professor is so natural, you forget that the professor has been accused of 'unnatural acts', you only understand the need of this quiet man to belong to someone, to belong to a society, to not be labled 'an outsider' in your own hometown. 

Does Aligarh even consider him as one its own? 

'Bachelor hoon baba! I have to cook for myself!'
'I am very much disturbed'
'We are brahmins, and you touched the daal...'

Manoj Bajpayee manages these very simple speech inflections of a Marathi person so easily and naturally, that it is hard to imagine him as a lecherous bad guy in Gangs Of Wasseypur of the boxer shorts-clad ruffian from Tevar. 

The best scene in this film is very understated and conversational. And it happens on a boat. If I could jump into the movie and hug the man in complete delight that his one gesture expressed, it would be how professor Siras reacts to Deepu Sebastian, the journalist wanting to take a picture. 

The conversation has been reported by every one who has seen the movie. 'How can a word with three letters define my life?'

Did Professor Siras struggle with being labled 'gay'? Did he not know he was not considered to be 'normal' in this judgemental world? He's told by the lawyers who are helping him fight his suspension that it's not 'a gay' but just 'gay'

He does not seems to have any space for the rest of the world. He is lost. He should have been left alone. He would have written more poems like the ones he recites from his book 'Grass under (my) feet', listened to Lata Mangeshkar songs, had his couple of drinks, taught and faded away. But the insidious campaign to malign him broke him and what we see on the screen is so tragic, your heart wells up in empathy. How can we as a society not let live?

The film is an important one because it questions everyone's role in the death of this quiet man.

The TV crew who barged into his home and filmed him in what should have been confined to his bedroom, the neighbors who watched his eviction without saying anything, his colleagues at the University who did nothing, the students who did nothing, the newspapers who printed salacious stuff without fact checking, the people who read that news and did not care what effect it had on a man's life...

The film has a wonderful support cast as well. The scared Professor Sridharan, who wants Siras to conform, Ashish Vidhyarthi as the lawyer who is fighting for Siras' rights and of course, the young journalist played by Rajkummar Rao who writes about the professor's rights. But the film undeniably belongs to Manoj Bajpayee.

I did not understand why the film claims to be a work of fiction when it uses real names, places and speaks of events that took place... And when the events seem to be frozen in a gasp, you sort of wish the film had shown us what was going on inside his head. That takes away from the greatness of this endeavor...

The film raises a question about basic rights as human beings. Who decides what is normal and allowed and legal? It will inspire many more to stand up for the rights of those who are not in the majority.

What amazes me is how the loneliness of this man is made evident again and again in the film. From the obvious scenes of his detachment in the courtroom to how he shuts himself from the world in his own home, to the subtle yet obvious song he sings at the party celebrating his win at the courts: 'Me maz harapun basale ga!'

'I have lost myself (in Krishna)' sings a lovelorn gopi. A fitting song for someone who is not really present in this world, and yet...


CGI: 10. Gerard Butler: 0

1/2 star

Mini Review: 

If the Gods of Egypt were real, they'd object to such a stupid idea behind the movie. It has superb special effects, but an inexcusable story that has been written by people who thought this was a video game. Even video games are smarter than this drivel dressed up in glitter...

Main Review:

Idiotic to think giant sized Gods choose to live among their creation - men. They can change their form and they choose to, 'Whoooosh!' grow wings. They don't build buildings to honor Sun god Ra or simply to live. They have an architect Urshu, who employ slaves to build stuff. Or is that they only make dust pyramids that they trust all the building to mortals?

So Osiris (am so sure he was wearing glasses) is all set to give up his throne to his silly, bratty son Horus (Jamie Lannister from the TV show Game Of Thrones) who seems to not really deserve the honor or care. But he bathes for it (and it's weird to see how small the 'mortals' really are) and you begin to roll your eyes.

Of course the bad guy shows up. Set (Gerard Butler in a weird Predator like costume), the god of Darkness who lives in the desert (weird, even creators of Hindu mythology got it right, bad guys live in Pataal or Narak. Desert?) and kills everyone who doesn't want to be enslaved by him (even the gods!) and blinds Horus...

Am I giving away the plot? 

Let me stop laughing before I continue. 

Bek a mortal, is a thief, who is at the crowning ceremony with his girlfriend, who is enslaved by the architect in the ensuing chaos. The thief rescues her but she gets shot by the boss (remember Obergruppenfuhrer John Smith from the TV show Man In The High Castle?) And now the thief needs Horus's help in bringing her back from the land of the dead. The thief has entered Set's treasury and stolen Horus's eye because he wishes to save his girl from slavery. Now he uses the eye to bribe Horus into getting his girl back.

Set realises his treasury has been burgled and sends creepy bull and goat monsters to get the thief back. Realises that Horus is with the 'mortal'. Yells and kills the bull monster. You are wondering why he sent these monsters when he's an all powerful god? 

Anyway, Horus and Bek set out on a journey to bring the girlfriend back. This is where we stop rolling our eyes and watch awesome CGI magic. This is also where we shake our heads sadly because it is like some primitive video game.

Level One: Ruins of Osiris's garden where snake monsters have to be fought, Horus learns lesson about humanity (sometimes it is smarter to run!)... Bonus point? Horus's girlfriend Goddess of Love joins the quest

Level Two: Knee deep river waters... Nothing happens in the waters (or does it? Who cares!), but they have to reach Toth, the God of Wisdom, who needs to join the journey so that he can help solve the riddle of the sphinx...

Level Three and Four: Baddies sent by Seth attempt to stop the little group. They are beautiful settings.

Level Five (or was it level 2?): Horus goes to his grandfather's boat in the sky and takes the waters of creation. Drops of these could shut Set's gigantic burning hole to the centre of the Earth and Set would lose his power. 

The story becomes so implausible, you don't care any more. Of course nothing goes to plan, Set breaks the little vial of celestial waters, kills old man Ra (Geoffrey Rush!) and plunges the world into darkness. 

You realise that it doesn't matter at all. Whether Bek and Horus will save the world or Set will continue to talk like someone cleaned his throat with sandpaper and that he's never heard of Strepsils. You are weary of sudden swoosh of wings, and gold being spilled. You just want Hindu gods show up with their multitasking hands and finish the job. 

Why Hollywood picks Gerard Butler is a mystery even Mr.Holmes will not ever solve.   



Thursday, February 25, 2016


It's deCaprio Vs deCrude People, deCruel Nature, deCoarse Beast!

3.5 stars

Mini Review:

Grunt. deCaprio. Grunt. Bear. Grunt. deCaprio. Grunt. Tom Hardy. Grunt. Bear. Grunt. deCaprio. Grunt. Horse. Grunt. Indians. Grunt. deCaprio. Grunt.

Main Review:

Let's bow down to Innaritu first. With The Revenant, he creates a visual masterpiece. Sweeping vistas of snow and mountains and forests and grey skies with a cold, ineffective Sun assault your senses. Long tracking shots that follow fighting Indians and trappers on horseback remind you of Innaritu's masterful craftsmanship. Ryuichi Sakamoto's distinctive sound design keeps you on the edge of your seat. Even in the moments where deCaprio is dreaming, the music is so haunting, it stays with you.

It's time to explain the 'grunts'. Had the cinematography not been so captivating, I would have counted the grunts that pass off for Hugh Glass' s (Leonardo de Caprio) speech. We understand that it is the 1800s and the language must have been crude, but so many grunts? Yes, he is hunting bears, and the bear turns around and attacks him. 

The attack is so brutal, so vehement, even though at the back of your head you know that the bear is special effects, you gasp and look away. You wonder why he doesn't play dead. You wonder where he gets the strength and the viciousness? Were these trappers as savage as the the animals they hunted?

The real account of Hugh Glass comes alive in the movie. We have trappers being chased by Indians and they discover that their best tracker has been injured. They decide to leave food and a couple of people with him. One of them is the scariest person (beside the bear) the filmmaker can dream up. He's rough and crude and unwilling to take care of someone who he dislikes. And that's an understatement. He's so unfeeling and brutish, he kills.

And that's when you realise this incomprehensible man is Tom Hardy. He gives impetus to de Caprio to avenge what is lost. But de Caprio needs to recover his strength. It should have taken him longer, but at two and a half hours, the movie already makes you feel the pain. 

How his need to avenge drives him to finding out where the trappers now are is a journey that is as hellish as the snows are pristine. You stretch secretly and instinctively to make sure your bones aren't frozen in the theater. So powerful is the film that your sense of the comic forgets to count the grunts. You hope that he either gets his revenge or dies. The story flags a bit with repetitive hallucinations and the journey through the snow. But the violence and the gruesome encounters with beast and man and nature keep you staring at the screen.

For emotionally uplifting movies about wilderness treks, watch something else. This movie will put the fear of god into you and you'll think twice about snow-shoe holidays in touristy places too. And you'll look over your shoulder for bears. Even in the city.


Saturday, February 20, 2016


Investigative Journalism At Its Best

4 stars

Mini Review:

When a newspaper unearths a scandal that could shake up core beliefs, they don't sweep it under the carpet for fear of reprisal from Head Office or loss of advertising. They follow it through and create a shakedown that extends across the country and the rest of the world. The best film about journalists after All The Presidents Men

Main Review:

'How can you say no to God?' asks a victim. The journalist is gobsmacked as are we. Spotlight - the investigative team from The Boston Globe - has stumbled upon a secret that will shake up not only the largely Catholic city but would raise questions on the conduct of an institution that ought to be above and beyond reproach.

Priest who abuse are not an unknown to India. We tend to put God above country as well. Priests have been cast as villains in so many Bollywood movies that a storyline like Spotlight seemed to be... Umm... Nothing new. But when you begin watching, you realise that this is more powerful than you first thought. It is a superb ensemble cast that works a miracle. 

The new editor is Jewish. Did no one say anything about religious agendas then? Imagine Spotlight in India with a Sikh/Muslim/Christian editor? Imagine dharnas and effigy burning and chaos...

The Archbishop presents the editor with a book of Catechism... And you think, 'Niiiiiiiice!'

The victims are either too young to understand or they have grown up to be mal-adjusted adults.

'How can you say no to God?' the plaintive question takes on new meaning with every door that is slammed on the journalists seeking an answer. 

The movie reminds one of the stunning El Club, a Chilean film about disgraced priests who live quiet lives in a seaside town when their lives are disrupted by a disturbed individual who claims he was abused by one of the residents.

In Spotlight, we see how systematically the journalists find out how the Archdiocese is involved. 

When it comes to faith, it's a tough call to take. And even though the team begins the investigation on a logical note, the journalists discover how close they are to the crimes. A house in the neighborhood, an old high school friend... And the pressure on them to stop pursuing the matter is relentless. It comes from all sides. 

You realise that your fingers have been crossed and that you feel as defeated as the team is when things don't work... This has not happened for a long, long time. You almost cheer when Mark Ruffalo hands eighty-seven dollars to the man at the records office and says, 'Use your machine!'

I'm rambling. But Spotlight doesn't. The screenplay is flawless and we watch the events unfold minute after exciting minute, knowing the feeling when Micheal Keaton and Mark Ruffalo are unable to stay away from the newspaper office in the end, even though it's a Sunday and they really deserve the break..

When the phones begin to ring at the Spotlight office, you gasp a little. You realise that you have been holding your breath. You step out shocked and exhilarated, glad that a team such as Spotlight exists.   


Friday, February 19, 2016

review: NEERJA

Beauty And The Beast

3 stars

Mini Review:

The movie starts brilliantly, keeping you hooked at every turn, bringing you to the hijack of PanAm 73 quickly. The young, beautiful flight purser outwits the hijackers at every turn and when the frustration and waiting get unbearable, the beast called Jalil awakens and takes over the movie. The sagging film then comes alive again and ends on an emotional high.

Main Review:

Sonam Kapoor must be laughing tonight at her detractors who hoped she would do a Khoobsoorat in this movie too. She's restrained and wonderful. Really. 

Now biopics can get really smarmy and the first shot of Neerja's mother filled my heart with instant dread. What was this going to be all about? 

But the sight of Neerja getting ready for the flight and the hijackers getting ready to do their job is so creepy, it is an ominous reminder of what will happen when the flight lands in Karachi. The hijacking happens pretty quickly and you begin to think that these are trained professionals. They keep saying, 'Training for this day!' in many different ways...

Neerja manages to outwit the hijackers at every turn and the excitement keeps us high and glued to the edge of our seats. Then comes the dreaded word: Intermission.

There is something about the second half that is supremely dissatisfying. You want something more to happen, more than glasses of water being passed on to the passengers, packets of peanuts being handed out. You want to smell the fear that the crew is feeling. Not a single memorable passenger (the chap who claims 'I'm not Indian, I'm American!' meets a fitting end!) who stands out in that bunch. Not even to say I'm hungry or anything to help us fell less claustrophobic in that airplane...

There are four hijackers, but we don't see much of two of them. The story seems to have reached a stalemate. 

Suddenly the beast awakens. Jalil! One of the hijackers seems to be suffering from cabin fever. He loses it. And all the teary eyes watch in awe as he smashes the kettle again and again.

I have found a hero who will save the movie! 

Suddenly the story that was stuck inside the airplane becomes interesting. Of course Neerja saves the passengers in the ensuing chaos and loses her life. Nothing I say here will ever take away from the extraordinary bravery of the 22 year old. But when the second half of a two hour film begins to feel like the 16/18 hours the passengers spent inside that airplane, then shouldn't the film be called Jalil? 

Of course Bollywood melodrama rears its ugly head when the mom goes on and on when paying tribute to her daughter, and you want to escape instead of crying buckets. But what stops you in your tracks is the post-script of how Neerja Bhanot's bravery was acknowledged by the world. You step out overwhelmed.

p.s: hated the kids. too Bollywood.




Half Star

Mini Review:

This movie is like the tired xerox of a xerox of a xerox of a xerox of a xerox of a xerox copy of  First Daughter/Chasing Liberty/Hero/Hero Again/Hero Yet Again. It tries hard to humor the audience and you end up facepalming more than falling in Ishq for any moment of time.

Main Review:

'See this photograph, mere aka!' Terrorist Henchman gives photo to bearded Terrorist Boss reclining on a rock.
'Hmmm... She could make a great wife but I'm not able...' Terrorist Boss confesses..

'She's not wife, but daughter of Indian Prime Minister, mere akaa! We will kidnap her and India will meet our demands.' 

They all laugh and Thomson and Thompson with blackfaces (YES! SO RACIST YOU WANT TO LEAVE THE THEATRE) set out to kidnap the First Daughter.

First daughter Pout-A-Lot wears skimpy clothes and opens the door without any clothes. It's meant to be cute. If she were 5 years old. Yes. Not when you're 18.

The predictable happens. She is rescued by presentable lad on motorbike, and chased by security team of old Javed Jafferi and strange Lisa Ray (one cannot run to save his life, and the other wears impossible clothes and shoes (so does not run) and a pained expression throughout the film.

A girls falls in love with the guy who kisses her, and then insists it is janam janam ka saath. The lad who has never been exposed to the Sun suddenly begins to take his shirt off and has an attack of the conscience and sleeps on the floor asking the girl to take the bed. 

Before you finish groaning, you wonder from where did they get the clothes? They're at Sardarji's home and neither he nor his wife are the right size... they also camp with people and run off from the camp with a backpack. Wait a minute! Did they not have a thing when they left home?

You have stopped caring but then the funniest fight scene ensues: Small Terrorist Boss (Zakir Hussain) shows up to get beaten up by lad in the face. Again and again and again. But his indestructible glasses remain unharmed. 

Do you care if the Prime Minister approves all this Ishq In the Line Of Duty? No one cares. You only wish the young people would take acting lessons instead of pouting, wearing skimpy clothes, shedding shirts, wearing transparent shirts, speaking incoherently in strange accents and doing the Shah Rukh arm spread in the name of love... 

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...