Friday, March 25, 2016


Khach Khach Khach Khach! Action cinema ka khoon!

1/2 star

Mini Review:

Take away the poseurs that pass for the villains and his posse, take away the dude that makes faces at the camera to show he's 'baaaad', swallow the story of tourists in Goa selling their kidneys and other body parts, try not to remember where you saw the action sequences, do not laugh at the old as hills basic premise, even then you'll come away saying, 'why are we making such films?'

Main Review:

'Iski training itni brutal thee ki jo government officers dekhne gaye, woh behosh ho gaye!'

I didn't make this up, this exposition is supposed to make you fear this Rambo...Err... Rocky chap.

But Rocky is not his name, we are told. It is his code name. Whaat?

Never mind all that. That dialog is just an opportunity to show slo-mo action shots and the classic shot of hero walking away from an explosion. Alas this sequence comes too late. You are already hysterical from all the bad guys posing what they think is a matural born killers look. Their confusion may arise from not knowing what it is exactly that they do.

Drugs ka dhanda bhi karta hai 

'Russians ko maal dena hai', now you don't know why Russians will kill everybody and their uncle for what looks like two envelopes of heroine, also not clear whether it is Russian heroine that they need to pay them for, or that the Russians have paid and they need to be given that heroine. And if they are smuggling heroine in toy boxes, why are they so desperate for those two envelopes? Give some other stuff to the Ruskies, then find the thief who stole from you, no?

Body Parts ka dhanda karta hai

Seriously? And you have only what looks like just one ambulance to carve out body parts? Oh yes, to show you how awful these people are, there is one stretcher and a bowlful of entrails in a set that looks like a poor man's version of the Deadpool hospital. Remember the Shiney Ahuja horror movie set in a hospital, Ghost? They had better sets than this stupidity. You cannot just carve out body parts and sell them like fish...

Man From Nowhere

This movie is supposed to be a remake. And you can watch the broody, dark (literally) movie online. The action in the original is quiet and quick and brutal. The action here seems gimmicky in comparison, not matter how close they stick to the original. Also remakes does not mean subtitled dialog reproduced in Hindi here. It just seems too stilted. We are told Sharad Kelkar and his bunch are ANS. But what is ANS no one ever elaborates. It's not like CID - something even the kids understand. They just look like a bunch of bumbling cops who give food to a chap and then uncuff him. This after they think that they know he may have killed a big bad guy with his bare hands.

The Korean movie is almost six years old. And for an action movie, the action seems stale. Better bathroom fight award has already been claimed by Raid: The Redemption and shootouts in the bathroom are older than Rambo...

Thick Marathi Accents

It seems a trifle unkind to comment on the Marathiness of the accents but the movie is set in Goa, and they are very houseproud of the Goanness of their speech. The cop show Lakshya on Star Pravah has better police work than what you see here. And their Marathi in Crime Patrol used casually in a Hindi show is better than what you hear here. Cop in a bar, reporting on the bad guy scene is so badly done, he may have had a better chance wearing his uniform. 'He is not a bad guy, he is a Paytriuht!' type dialog don't help endearing the characters to us at all...

John Abraham's Best Scene

The half star that the film earns is for the scene where John Abraham stretches his leg and pushes the plate of the fish curry to the kid hiding under the table. Had we started with giving five stars to his physique, we would have had to cut them from the rating each time the kid (whom he's protecting) makes an appeaance. She tries hard, real hard to be prococious, ends up being slow and deliberate and boring and slow and slower and more and more annoying. 

What a pity Nishikant Kamat decided to show up as chief head villain and pose on the sofa, overdo the villain act in the elevator and in the nightclub. The knife fights were interesting up to a point, but the sound effects of 'Khach! Khach! Khach!' sounds more like apples being sliced than someone being stabbed by a knife, several times,

Fans of action films died a little here...But we will survive... And some day, Rambo will show up on the big screen, swallowing everything whole...  


Thursday, March 24, 2016


Hollywood's Karan Arjun

1 star

Mini Review:

Manmohan Desai, Yash Chopra, Rajiv Rai and their ilk would be very chuffed to watch Batman and Superman do a Vijay and Ravi over Maa! The audience grinned and groaned at every melodramatic turn. And when Wonder Woman showed up to join Batman and Superman, all that the we wanted to hear 'Tridev! Tridev! Tridev!'

Main Review:

This movie is perfect for Mystery Science Theatre The Bollywood Version!

'Tumhari maa mere kabze mein hain!' 

You've heard villains make this threat and watch the reluctant hero do what he's been asked to do...

But you don't want to see that ancient threat made to Superman! 

'Paap se dharti fati, adharm se aasmaan, atyachaar se kaampi insaniyat, raj kar rahe hain haiwaan' 

You miss this dialog when you watch Batman and Superman are battling the big bad mutant evil...

And when Wonder Woman shows up, you stand up in the theatre and say instinctively, 'Tridev! Tridev! Tridev!'

But this is not the only instance where you think you are watching movies you've grown up to love.

It would made a better movie had Diane Lane showed some spunk and screamed at Lex Luthor, 'Mere Karan Arjun aayenge! Zaroor aayenge!'

There's a standard Soviet bad guy just like we have Prakash Raj in the movies. Lex Luthor has the rejected by classmate on Facebook look. Although he wears cool clothes, I wish he had taken lessons from Nana Patekar or even Shah Rukh Khan from Baazigar...

Amy Adams, I'm sorry to say, might earn the wrath of all hardworking journalists everywhere. Can you imagine Christian Amanpour in the middle of the African desert, surrounded by scores of men with guns, protecting an obvious big bad mercenary, 'Are you a terrorist?'

And she walks everywhere in impossible high heels: in the desert, at the office, when she's playing deep throat, even when she's throwing away Batman's spear, when the three real superheroes are battling the mutant... The only time we don't see her wear those same stilletoes is when she's in the bath.

What's worse, she's forever snogging Superman. Even in the middle of battle, and he's just been smashed to bits because he's inhaled Krypton gas thing, all she wants to do is kiss him.

I liked the Batmobile chase, but in this movie the big bat is now the big bad bat. I hated his hatred. Never thought he'd be Lalita Pawar in his 'Khunnas' against the Supe. Never thought he'd hate sharing limelight. Although Jeremy Irons as Alfred is really, really cool, I almost yearn for Amitabh Bachchan's voice calling him, 'Daddu!'  

And no matter how many comics one has read, the moment Superman and Batman look at Wonder Woman who lands between them, the little demon with a Dalip Tahil voice inside me says, 'Kam kapde pehen-na tujhe pasand hai, aur teri is ada pe marna hame pasand hai!'


Monday, March 21, 2016

review: BUS 657

A Crap Film By Any Other Name...

1/2 star

Mini Review:

Released as Heist in the US, we are presented the film as Bus 657. No one knows the logic behind name change. But borrowing from Shakespeare, alas it doesn't smell better. 

Main Review:

'Hello! You look pissed off!'
'Yes, just got fired from casino floor. Boss won't loan me money for my child who is in hospital.'
'I don't know you, but I could use you to steal from the casino.'
'I don't know you either. But yeah. Let's.'

Of course they recruit two more idiots one of whom panics and runs away with the getaway car. So the three thieves, one new recruit shot and now bleeding, catch a bus.

They hijack bus and we see deja vu of Speed, except the bad guys are on the bus and the cops chasing bus down highway in formation. There are hostages on the bus who are so stereotypical you groan when you see pregnant woman, runaway child, wannabe army type, one silly chap, one colored person, one Asian person...

So the good hijacker (one with kid in hospital) and bad hijacker argue while the third bleeds away... 

Cops refuel the bus, as goodwill gesture, the hijackers let pregnant woman and child leave. Casino owner sends crooked cop... Of course the good hijacker manages to send stolen cash to hospital, good cop smiles and does nothing, bad hijacker and bad cop die, and to top them all, the casino owner (played by Robert de Niro as though he were sleepwalking and hated the clothes he was made to wear) knowing that the man had stolen money lets him go because he has cancer and his daughter doesn't care...

If there ever was a pukeworthy story, this would be it. The tensions are fake, the conflict laughable, the protagonist moves by ridiculous lines from a dying kid ('Papa, I want you to be my hero!')

And when the reveal is made, you facepalm so hard, you make your escape before the credits finish rolling and the lights come on. Who knew ones fingerprints would appear on ones forehead so easily?!


Friday, March 18, 2016

review: Eye In The Sky

Americans Cry, Brits Dither, Africans Die

1 and 1/2 stars

Mini Review:

There are terrorists in a home preparing two suicide bombers and the American and British military joint operation is spying into the preparation. They have missiles to bomb the place but... The movie is so clunky in dealing with the crisis that shows up in the form of a little girl that we groan at the Americans weeping and the Brits dithering over the decision...The end is so predictable you hate the idea of Alan Rickman's last film to be this one.

Main Review:

To bomb or not to bomb is the question the American and British joint military operation needs to answer. The fly in their ointment is a little girl selling bread right next to the wall behind which there are identified international terrorists outfitting two recruits with bomb vests. They have Hellfire missiles ready to be fired.

Except, the American soldiers (one man and the other a woman) operating the missile armed drone and its camera are weeping so much they give Nirupa Roy serious competition.

While the Americans weep over the possible fate of a little girl, the British are talking. And talking. And talking some more. You feel like Alan Rickman - exasperated - at listening to politicians quibble about rules of engagement, how there is no precedent, how decisions should be 'referred up', why military decisions are no bigger than political decisions... You want to tie them in an unceremonious bunch and put them all in a room next to where the Hellfire missiles are going to land.

The more you look at the movie, the more you realise that the nature of war has changed so much, laws may be inadequate to accomodate situations that presence of drones and long distance warfare can bring to the viewing galleries where politicians and generals can watch the results in real time.

So the arguments the politicians make are valid and up to a point tense, and interesting movie moments. But like all Bollywood movies which show politicians or civil servants choosing to cover their backsides first, this movie too falls prey to the obviousness of the moments. You can actually hear people groan because the arguments go round and round in the same place.

You can see the end coming from a mile away. But the milk of human kindness inside you has dried up, and although your heart wells up, you wish Helen Mirren, the helpless Colonel in charge of the operation would just forget legalities and press the 'send' button herself. This could have been a great war movie, but isn't. And the weepy soldiers make you want to slap them real hard. 

The one star goes to Alan Rickman who elevates the movie with one dialog: Don't dare tell a soldier he does not understand the cost of war.


review: Kapoor & Sons

Kahani Ghar Ghar Ki

3 stars

Mini Review:

We've come a long way from Hum Saath Saath Hain to Kapoor & Sons, and boy, am I glad! Two brothers come home to be with an ailing but lusty, sprightly grandfather and end up tearing and the darning the fragile family fabric. Suffers from the second half drag in the story, but well worth a watch.

Main Review:

I've always hoped someone would remake the delightful 'Antonia's Line' some day. Our culture is perfect for the story of generations that have grown with lust, lawlessness and love, faith and compassion. We also live with family rivalries where brother can kill brother and bloodlusts go deep. But our filmmakers choose only to show 'Hum Saath Saath Hain'. We have seen fluff in the name of stories and everything is picture perfect and dressed in designer togs. With this movie, thankfully, we actually get into a dysfunctional home and learn that families are the same. It is really Kahani Ghar Ghar Ki.

Brother against brother. Timeless tales. Here, when one brother is made to feel 'second best' you understand his angst. You also appreciate how the brothers are shown to be happy together when they share a cigarette, or protect a parent. 

The parents have their own set of problems. They're trying to make ends meet, their relationship is strained, they want to keep these from the sons during the visit.

The sons and the rest of the family are getting together for the ailing grandfather's wish for a family photograph. Now grandpa is a wonderful, made-up with prosthetics Rishi Kapoor, who is the glue that keeps his family from falling apart. His twinkling eyes see everything, and he does as much as he can to keep the film breezy. When he cannot, Aalia Bhatt does. She has a home, but no family. And she offers a hand to the younger grandson Arjun (wonderfully played by Siddarth Malhotra) whose frustration is easy to identify with. Fawad Khan plays the older grandson, who is perfect and can do no wrong. I smiled to hear him called Rahul. 

Rajat Kapoor, the father of the Rahul and Arjun is in a role he can do in his sleep. But is very annoying to see an actor of his calibre do the same old role in practically every movie: a cheating husband, a frustrated family man... But his wife, played by Ratna Pathak Shah is so amazing, you forgive her choice of husband. 

The filmmakers seemed to have loved showing family arguments so much that sometimes they grate on your nerves. The Marathi play Wada Chirebandi manages these cracks in relationships in silences. But this is Bollywood's baby step taken towards showing a dysfunctional family, and all is forgiven because Aalia Bhatt is so effervescent, she brings love into the equation. And Arjun's photographer friend and his body builder brother are delightful people to watch in the film.

The second half where secrets are spilled, relationships broken and mended should have been a better watch, but the story lumbers on. You don't want to see title cards that say, 'Four Months Later', 'Four Years Later'. You take shelter in coffee. You want Aalia to come back, not to kiss the lad, but to hold hands in friendship because she is in love with lad who won't ever will love her back. The chemistry in the shady restaurant, in the shed where the 'fuse is blown' is way more than the chemistry between the other two. To understand it better, watch the movie. It drags in the second half, but we've forgiven worse mistakes.

And the movie reminded me of an ee cummings poem titled: 'anyone lived in a pretty how town'

anyone lived in a pretty how town
(with up so floating many bells down)
spring summer autumn winter
he sang his didn’t he danced his did.

Women and men(both little and small)
cared for anyone not at all
they sowed their isn’t they reaped their same
sun moon stars rain

children guessed(but only a few
and down they forgot as up they grew
autumn winter spring summer)
that noone loved him more by more

when by now and tree by leaf
she laughed his joy she cried his grief
bird by snow and stir by still
anyone’s any was all to her

someones married their everyones
laughed their cryings and did their dance
(sleep wake hope and then)they
said their nevers they slept their dream

stars rain sun moon
(and only the snow can begin to explain
how children are apt to forget to remember
with up so floating many bells down)

one day anyone died i guess
(and noone stooped to kiss his face)
busy folk buried them side by side
little by little and was by was

all by all and deep by deep
and more by more they dream their sleep
noone and anyone earth by april
wish by spirit and if by yes.

Women and men(both dong and ding)
summer autumn winter spring
reaped their sowing and went their came
sun moon stars rain

p.s. Remember to buy plain popcorn. Some tears will add the salt and the sweetness will come when you are laughing along with the characters in the film.

p.s. After watching the movie, I stepped out only to see someone from the audience try the pecs twitch. Came home giggling.


Friday, March 11, 2016


Slooww Brroody Nonnssensse

Not even worth stardust

Mini Review:

Only Himesh Reshammiya can walk in sloow mottion in reaal timme. He is an assassin who doess noot moove a musscle. This whhole moovie is so baad, eeven still shhots plaayed at filmm speedd will give us morre aaction. Whhy did Naseeruddin Shah, Kabir Bedi, Shekhar Kapur stoop soo loww?

Main Review:

Land mines buried in Earth have more acting talent than the entire cast of this ridiculousness.

One can actually picture how these actors prepped for the movie:

Naseeruddin Shah: Do you know who I am? I will not move an inch. I will deliver your insane dialog sitting in one place.

Kabir Bedi: I will be head of police, but will not wear Khaki. It's not my color.

Shekhar Kapur: I want to travel foreign country, and I'm claustrophobic so I don't want to be shown sitting in a diplomatic office. It's okay to show me walking about beside trams.

Monica Dogra: If I have to call anyone 'My almost ex husband' then you'd better show me as skilled labor in foreign country. And I want a good hair person.

Vague Heroine: If I have to walk about showing my midriff in every frame in a country where everyone is trussed up in woollens, then take me foreign with castles. (She says this in sign language because the audience does not know if she can speak anything other than: I don't want to talk about it.) 

(Director's note: No emoting is required, madam, just hide your face in Himeshbhai's manboobs, or attempt to look far away when I say, 'Meena Kumari!')

Shernaz Patel: Can I simply hold my head with my hands and cry? Also I want breakfast.

Himesh Reshammiya, Hero: I'mm brrooody, duudess. Bass, I will lookk deepp intoo cameraa. Yahii meraa magiic haii. Pluuss Gyym memmbbership liyaa hai toh boddy diikhhanna paddegga.

(Director's note: I will use so many cuts, so many flashlights you just raise gun sideways and ek hee saath, eight people can be killed. The dying people will be reaction shots in slow motion. Flmfare bas mera hai, this year!)

Villain: Please, please, please can I do, 'Ataa Majhi Satakli?' Please, please? 

(Director's note: Isko kidhar se laaya be? ok.)

Himesh Reshammiya, Music Director: People still love my songs. Remix. I'm superhit.

White Foreigners in the film: Tsk, Tsk.

Indians in Dublin: Paagal hai kya? Hum ghar par hee theek.

Dialog writer: If you don't take me to foreign, then I'm giving you only three pieces.

(Director's note: Yes bhaisaab! We will make you famous by putting them in trailer)

Dialog writer: Please add scene where Himeshbhai shows how Azamgarh ka tamancha is better than U2 ki Guns and Roses.

(Director's note: You mean Clint Eastwood ki Magnum! And no, we cannot call this movie Guns 'N' Roses. If we do, Slashbhai has promised to start rumor that he's dead)

The only thing that keeps you awake in the movie is Himesh Reshammiya's music. It's remixed, but still original. 

The rest is like I said, makes stepping on land mines a better proposition.

p.s. The story? Himeshbhai is a broody assassin who makes out with exotic dancer, confesses to his wife to be. Wife to be is pissed off and books her tickets to Ireland to be with her Facebook friend. Sauce for goose is sauce for gander, no? In Ireland she lands and cops find drugs on her, jail her. Nobody believes she was carrying books for her facebook friend, who never meets her. Himeshbhai goes on rescue mission. His help? Naseeruddin Shah who chooses to live in a jail and run his 'how to escape from jails' business. Himesh follows advice, writes 'cut wrist' on his baniyan and shows cleavage to his girl in jail. Girl escapes with Himeshbhai. We see picturesque Ireland. But after reaching coast, Himeshbhai tells girl, you go alone. I'm going to kill the guy who did this to you (HOLE in PLOT: How does Himeshbhai know Facebook Frand is in Dublin only?) Anyway, he finds villain, plays Russian Roulette and kills baddie by cheating. Both return home. Himeshbhai is free to brood again.  

p.s. prediction: 'Cut Wrist' baniyaans are going to shake up e-commerce in India.




2 stars

Mini Review:

A bunch of talented actors - Abhimanyu Singh, Sanjay Mishra, Pankaj Tripathi, Akhilendra Mishra and even Ravi Kissen - come together for a satire on the 'Baba culture'. A film that is sometimes sharp but mostly overdone. Perfect timing for a movie, what with a colossal 'global cultural festival' being conducted by a spiritual baba at the cost of the environment...

Main Review:

If this film weren't so garish and in your face, it would have been a sharp commentary about scammy Babajis, their political machinations and a host of stupid 'followers'. We have loved Oh My God where Paresh Rawal gave us a memorable, witty Kanjibhai who sues God. Aamir Khan's PK mirrored the problem of people blindly following Gods and godmen. We have seen our political leaders fall at the feet of Godmen, win elections on the platform that they will build temples and establish superiority of one religion by razing the place of worship of another. We spend thousands on pilgrimages and offer hard earned money because we invest in a supposed 'afterlife'. 

The filmmakers may not know it, but the timing of this release is perfect. A spiritual baba with millions of followers will be hosting a 'Global Cultural Festival' on the banks of the Yamuna, building parking lots and stage on the river with no regard for the environment and with the consent of god-fearing politicians...

The story of this movie takes off very rapidly. We see a police officer trapping a criminal in an 'encounter' situation who escapes (but of course!) and is helped by babas downstream. His associate has figured out that religion is the business to be in. And they get into the 'baba' business and soon put everyone else out of business. 

My trouble with the movie starts here. The two do not seem to have a brain between them, and yet they figure out a con that expands and expands and expands. They look more like someone's henchmen. So for them to have figured out this con seems to be very unlikely. It needs a team to run a spiritual foundation.

But there are less sophisticated babas whose ashrams are not 'designer minimalistic yoga retreats' but full of marigold and color and bhajans and chanting. 

The filmmakers choose the latter and show us all possible cliches. The maroon robes for certified bhakts, scantily dressed massage ladies headed by a Bollywood gay bhakt, the money counting machines, shady gun deals for the Defence Minister (no less!), milk and rose petal baths for Global Baba even darshan lines organised. If you can look beyond some of them (I groaned, others gagged) the story is actually quite clever.

The exchange between Police Chief Jacob and Global Baba starts out with a 'catch me if you can' and ends menacingly with, 'The animal people of your faith eat is sacred to us. Imagine what will happen to the fragile peace which holds the community right now, should I choose to make a little speech about it?'

There's lots of ugly flotsam and jetsam in the film. How does Global Baba's original associate Damru Baba suddenly turn lecherous? The baby babble and lisp is cute and creepy, but why did they make him lecherous too? Just ugly unnecessity. Why does Bhola Pandit (the ex most-popular baba) give up the fight for being better baba so easily? The journo with a sob story, the creepy double crossing politician make this movie less than Oh My God or even PK.

The why have I given it Two Stars instead of just a One or even a half?

One Star for the best timing ever (I am given to understand that the film went through the censors long time ago), what with the well connected babaji flouting every rule for his cultural fest.

Second is the star for choosing a topic and making you realise that despite news about babajis going to jail for rape, and drugs and lies, people still flock to these ashrams for spiritual guidance. The satire could have been sharper and better written, but then we say that about so many movies... Maybe you will watch it when they play it on tv.


review: RACE

10 Seconds To Win Gold, 
2 Hrs and 14 Minutes To Win Hearts

2.5 stars

Mini Review: 

This is a heart warming tale of an Olympian, Jesse Owens, a young man who struggles to achieve his dreams of becoming a champion athlete and he does, winning not just the race against the competitors from around the world but also the race of color which meant all kinds of discrimination and victimization. It's a movie that deserves to be seen, tax-free.

Main Review:

'In those ten seconds, there is no black or white, there is only win or lose.' Jesse explains to the man from NAACP who is trying to persuade Jesse from refraining participation in the Berlin Olympics to show solidarity with oppressed Black people in America and others discriminated against elsewhere.

You have seen how awful, vicious and rampant the discrimination against African American people was in so many movies. Even today America has not been able to offer true equality and is struggling to support equal rights with hashtags like Black Lives Matter. We Indians can be just as racist and casteist and communal. So this movie brings us all a message of hope and is like a prayer because it puts sports above such petty politics. In fact, when Carl 'Luz' Long, the European Champion behaves like all sportsmen should, you feel a lump in your throat.

A Black man winning not one but four gold medals at the Olympics, right under the superior nose of Adolf Hitler was a slap to the Reich. And the architect of the games Joseph Goebbles (is it legal for the bloke playing him to be so handsome!) makes his displeasure felt as he forces the Americans to drop the two Jewish athletes...

But what keeps you glued to the seat is the marvelous coach-student relationship. Jason Sudeikis is Larry Snyder, coach at the Ohio State University. He makes Jesse into the winner that he becomes. The journey of the coach - who could have been an Olympian, and the student - who could be an Olympian if he does not allow the pressures from his family, his Race get in the way of winning, is amazing. 

We watched 'Bhaag Milkha Bhag' not so long ago and some of us came back hating the song and dance and the extended romance in what was meant to be a sports movie. But when you see Jesse Owens wait in the rains to persuade his reluctant girl to marry him, you want to go step into the story, right into the shop and ask her why she's making him wait out in the rain for so long.

Hollywood knows how to keep even the training simple and believable. Easier to believe Jesse running through a dingy neighborhood than watching Bollywood Milkha Singh drag a tyre in picturesque Ladakh.

The politics of Olympics at that time in America is shown marvelously as a debate between Jeremy Irons and William Hurt. Both sides present a logical argument. But even better is how Hitler's personal favorite Leni Riefenstahl is shown negotiating between Goebbels and the Americans.

Yes, it is a predictable tale of a sports person. But what is worthy is watching how impeccable his manners are, and how he has to fight a battle to remain honorable throughout his life. Jesse Owens was not recognised by his nation as amazing once, I hope he will earn much more now that his story is being told, and so beautifully.


Friday, March 04, 2016


2 and half hour selfie from a wannabe Kamal Haasan 

1/2 star

Mini Review:

Prakash Jha has done a Dashavataram to us. Not only has he rehashed the original Ganga Jal, but diluted it by appearing in every frame, every scene, all through the movie, and ruining it by pretending to know this thing called acting.

Main Review:

He is so bad, he's the villain (Oh, wow!)

He's so sneaky, he can appear in every scene (whoah!). 

He's a crack shot, and can shoot a baddie from a hundred paces (wow!).

He's contrite, he's the good uncle, he makes deals with bad guys, he can make things 'all right', he knows how to persuade villagers to sell their land, he also has a big heart beating inside of him which turns him into a good cop (super wow!)

He has integrity and has principles (wow!) which put him the center of the scene where he's surrounded by baddies and he gets to spout out blood like Amitabh Bachchan when he's punched by the bad Vidhayak (Manav Kaul) which lands him in the hospital. But wait for the 'wow!' reaction.

He steals the thunder from under Priyanks Chopra's pretty nose by speaking the best dialog: 'Vardi ko haath nahi lagana' (wow!) 

(Damn! he heard that 'wow' from the audience, and says it not just once but three times!)

He's so good, Priyanka Chopra visits his bedside, wide-eyed and grateful and she says,'You are so good! You have hid the files and the kid so well, nobody in the police force has been able to find them,' and he smiles a wan smile, 'Yeh to mera farz tha!'

Now you can say, 'Wow!' until you choke because all this talk about 'Farz' is so 'Farzi' and 'acting' as if he's terribly injured, but you see him ready to fight in the next scene. 

Priyanka Chopra is showcased with makeup in every frame. She looks like pretty accessory. And that's what she ends up being. What's more, when she's having a conversation with another officer, beating up baddies or reading files, the super cop-director steps in, even though he doesn't have to say anything. He gobbles up practically every frame of every scene by being there. 

Ajay Devgn was awesome as the upright police officer and even the bad cops Yashpal Sharma, Mukesh Tiwari, the other helpless cops and the big bad guy Mohan Joshi were great in their own way. Even the story, where locals take law into their own hands and pour acid into the eyes of who the public deems guilty, is a better story than people lynching baddies in public. Here Prakash Jha wants to be every cop. This Dashavataaram fails.

Never before has one wanted the bad guy to beat the hero to death. This time you will find yourself cheering for the baddie, and swing an imaginary hockey stick at the super cop-director yourself. 

This is such a colossal waste of money and talent like Manav Kaul, Murli Sharma (why did the pressers say he was 'effiminate'? Because he wore nail polish in one scene?) and most of all, Priyanka Chopra. Most people wanted to see Priyanka Chopra in action. Not this self-indulgent, needless self-promotion. 

p.s. We should not say 'wow' and more but vow to watch Quantico because poor Priyanka Chopra...


So Many Cliches 13 Hrs Are Not Enough

1.5 stars

Mini Review:

With all due respect to the soldiers and the ambassador who lost their lives in the vicious attacks at BenGhazi. But the film is full of cliches as read in Commando comics of yesteryear, and war film tropes you have seen ever since cinema was invented. Wait for it to show up on cable.

Main Review:

For thirteen hours eight soldiers on contract saved the secret CIA base no one was supposed to know exists, in a gunbattle to rival all gunbattles, these brave soldiers fought wave upon wave of gun totting, America hating, armed to the teeth locals. They got no air support from any of the American bases and no help from the local affiliates who were bribed and primed for such an attack.

This incident took place when Libya was just discovering life after Gaddafi. And what we see on screen is nothing short of a miracle. But this is not as savage as Black Hawk Down, or as sharp as Hurt Locker. This is a beautifully shot predictable film you have seen so many times.

The soldiers are gruff, rough and roguish, and yet they all have softer sides when they Skype with their families. You know the one soldiers with the cutest, chubbiest baby will die.

The Station Chief hates having these soldiers around because his CIA men and women are Harvard educated data analysts, and they don't want to be seen as participants in a conflict. You know he will be grateful when the soldiers he hates save his life.

There will be a gentle person not connected with the combat who will do heroic things. You know he or she will show extraordinary courage or add a bit of humor to the serious stuff that is happening in the movie.

There will be men who look like thugs and might just be the kingpin baddies. You know they will turn out to be 'friend' nor foe, and help soldiers.

The terrorists will be better equipped and the American soldiers will fight with clever tactics and win. You know you will facepalm at the obviousness of their 'clever' solution. 

There will be one nervous soldier who will do exactly the opposite of what is said to him. You know he will turn right when he's been told to go left. And also the Ambassador will be trapped in the strongroom... What good is a strongroom that can be set on fire?

There will be nervous soldier who will not find the right buttons to switch off when ordered. He will admit on the radio that he's nervous. You know it's a cheap tactic to keep you saying, 'Oh no!' and then at the last vital second he will find the right button to switch the lights off.

Even in deaths, there are so many cliches you would laugh had it not been a real story.

You know what the soldiers have faced in unknown parts of the world, fighting unknown people for causes that seem distant... You respect them. But the movie is too long drawn to earn any of that. Such a pity...  


London has fallen and nobody want to pick it up!

1/2 star

Mini Review:

Gerard Butler has a great hundred pack. Of carbines. To pump never ending bullets into a city filled with terrorists. He drags the terrified POTUS along with him, and destroys everything he goes through. And his film destroys London with very, very bad CGI. 

Main Review: 

Someone please tell Gerard Butler that it's not cute to play a first-time father, who is gruff Secret Serviceman again and again. We Indians are used to watching Salman Khan pretend he's 25 and romance a 21 year old. We are used to watching Aamir Khan play naked alien, but given how amazing an older Clint Eastwood was running alongside the President's vehicle without pretending to be young, it's a bit much to watch Gerard Butler destroy so much property in the name of killing terrorists and saving the President.

It's really funny to see him take out carbine after carbine to empty it into the bad guys. In which secret pockets did he keep them? 

It's also stupid and silly to see poor Aaron Eckhart being dragged into the den of terrorists because Gerard wants to finish them off. In fact the President even protests: Why are we going to the embassy? You know they will ambush us!

Butler replies: Precisely.

You have stopped rolling your eyes, because you liked how the motorbike borne terrorists died spectacularly. But the rest of the bullet-fest is stupider than the Koreans attacking the White House.

And it's a bigger sin to destroy London with bad CGI. 

The story is so laughable, you wait for the stupidity to end.


The terrorists have generators! 


The rest of the city is in darkness.


The real answer: it's like Bombay. They're set up, but not connected.

While you laugh at the hecklers, the movie has destroyed your faith in action movies. Might as well stay at home and watch the news channels. 

 p.s. India mein hota toh Gerard Butler ki blanket daal ke dhulai karte. but not before you fix his sandpaper voice with Strepsils. We want to hear him scream in agony.

Review: ZUBAAN

Zubaan Says One Thing, Brain Another

2 stars

Mini Review:

A gentle, young lad who sings in the Gurudwara in Gurdaspur with his dad, leaves his past behind and becomes tougher under the protection of a real estate tycoon in Delhi. But this carpetbagger needs saving, and an uber urban angel shows up, toked up to bring the lad to the righteous path. All the groanworthy scenes are covered brilliantly by the music that's magical.

Main Review:

Spiritual music explodes like a little black hole in your heart and sort of expands to suck in all logic. So while the music seeps inside you, you watch as the gentle boy with a great smile becomes this rough young man who gives up on his past. He's come to Delhi because he wants to be like his childhood mentor, who taught him to never give up. 

How the young man infiltrates into his mentor's work life as well as his home is a tale worth watching. He has long learned to live with abuse - for his stammering. And now he learns to live with the abuse from his mentor's son... 

Vicky Kaushal, whom you saw in Masaan, is an earnest performer as Dilsher the young man from the village. You don't like what he does to get to the top, but you understand his motivation. The mentor, played wonderfully by Manish Chaudhari is a clever man too. He has a different set of motive to allow the young man from the village to enter his work life and home life. The love hate relationship the mentor has with his son and the adoration of Dilsher is a wonderful triangle. 

But when the son spouts rubbish about the family pet dog and why he killed the poor thing, you want to roll your eyes and tell him to shut up. Why would he explain himself to someone who has been beaten up? Isn't it enough that he hates the fact that his dad likes Dilsher? Remember Sid from Toy Story? He steals toys and creates mutant versions, but they don't give explanations why he's like that. Gabbar Singh in Sholay is a bad guy. He doesn't confesss to a back story of deprived childhood to reason away his 'badness'. The mentor's son looks like he's had too many sessions on the couch and is throwing explanations of his behavior to everyone.  

The film loses even more connect to reality, in fact. it plummets the film into 'what the...' territory when Dilsher meets the uber urban chick Amira (played by Sara Jan Dias). Rich and drugged and drunk, Amira invites Dilsher to a night in the desert celebrating the life of Dhruv tara... When you watch this indulgence you wonder what the filmmakers were smoking themselves. In fact every encounter with Amira is made out to be weird and wonderful but is all half-baked nonsense. And anyone who has ever been drunk or drugged out of their brains all night will tell you how waking up in the morning stone cold sober, driving and offering homilies like 'Tumhari zubaan kuch keh rahi hai' is well nigh impossible.

The heart of the film is in the right place. When Dilsher learns that his own machinations to become as much a 'lion of Gurdaspur' are nothing compared to how he has been used, he takes refuge in music. Yes, he turns into a male version of Amira, though less drugged. 

You are just glad the self indulgent film is over. You do wait for the song to end. You admit that the idea of 'Zubaan kuch kehtee hai' is a great idea: He does not stammer when he sings (the actor forgets to stammer as the movie progresses, but then the film has other problems which are bigger). Zubaan is saying the right things, the heart of the music is beating perfectly. I wish the brains were connected too...