Friday, April 29, 2016



1 star

Mini Review:

Why would anyone spend so much money and talent of young Tiger Shroff and make a ridiculous movie that is neither as powerful as The Raid: Redemption, nor is it Varsham. This is such an unintelligent dull copy that you emerge weary from the experience.

Main Review:

Martial Arts movies have a story that is so oft told, you don't have to offer any detailed explanations or back stories. We just accept a foolish apprentice learning from a master (Wax on, wax off!) who is killed by a villain with a super power. The apprentice avenges master's death by practicing hard.

Here in scenes borrowed straight out of Varsham, the hero and the heroine meet when it rains. The villain also falls for the heroine during the same rains. And with every next meeting the novelty of the romantic meet-cute goes down the drain. And twenty minutes into the movie you are soaked wet in this stupidity. Varsham be damned!

The hero is a reluctant student at the martial arts academy where the head teacher wears some Fu Man Chu style costume whilst teaching kalaripayattu. The teacher has a son (the villain!) who wears leather jackets and wanders about with a bunch of thugs. Why he lives in Bangkok and what brings him back to India no one knows, but everyone and every body is afraid of him, and that's clear. Villain in leather even kills his own dad because he wants to marry the heroine and his dad has arranged for villain to be married to some Mangalore girl. Some other lad would have been happy to just say, 'no', but villain being villain, he kills his dad.

Then leather wearing villain then abducts heroine and sets her up in his own Tower of Babel. Hero shows up to rescue heroine. But first he has to kill lots of murderous residents in that Tower of Babel. Every floor has baddies that grunt, growl and make guttural animal sounds. This could have been a copy of The Raid: Redemption, but you can hear Iko Uwais and Yayan Ruhian laughing their guts out somewhere in Indonesia whilst getting drunk. The hero who is known for his roundhouse kicks, punches and kicks his way up to the villain and forces him to remove the weird leather jacket.

I heaved a sigh of relief that the jacket came off but fell off my chair when I discovered that the villain was wearing a full sleeved tee inside! Poor man must be stifled inside! The hero screams, 'Aaaargh!' and you begin to wonder (between great guffaws) if the scream was in reaction to the awful body odor...

I wish the fights were a little more imaginative than roundhouse, punch, roundhouse, punch, roundhouse, punch... Yes, the screenwriter earns his money by writing one good line which comes out of nowhere (like the hero was suddenly mainlining on Arnie) and wakes you up. But that is only 1/2 a star worth line. The other half star is awarded to the hero's newly acquired facial fuzz that makes him look less like a princess and more like a boy. Looks like he is going to age well if he chooses better movies. But everything else is revolting. 

P.S. The 'yaya' kid is so annoying the tubby dad leaves midway. The heroine is so annoying her dad leaves the movie midway too. Conclusion: Save The World. Do not procreate.



Learn About Ramanujan, But Fall In Love With Jeremy Irons.

3 stars

Mini Review:

Srinivas Ramanujan was a mathematical genius who saw the numbers in a perpetual celestial dance. But this movie shows that men who acknowledge and polish such genius without jealousy are far greater. 

Main Review:

Bertrand Russell is famous for having said, 'I will not die for my beliefs because they might be wrong.' When you read about Ramanujan who was so confident of his theorems and ideas you want to tell him that These theorems are useless unless accompanied by proofs.

You'll wonder why after so many years we are watching a movie about this luminescent mathematician, and then come away with a deep satisfaction of having seen the magical connect of a diamond to his cutter, of Rodin to his sculpture, of Beethoven to his symphonies. We realise that this film is as much about Hardy as it is about Ramanujan. This is not a biopic in so many words, but the tale of love of two men who had the same mistress: mathematics.

The movie does not show how Indian mathematicians encouraged the genius that was Ramanujan and helped him out monetarily as well as with encouragement to pursue the subject. There are many books and online references to show how Ramanujan worked out mathematical theorems in his head. 

Jeremy Irons plays Professor G.H. Hardy who tells Ramanujan (played by Dev Patel exactly what the editor of a math journal MT Narayana Iyengar had said: 'Ramanujan's methods were so terse and novel and his presentations so lacking in clearness and precision that the ordinary (mathematical reader), unaccustomed to such intellectual gymnastics, could hardly follow him.'

Professor Hardy attempts to rein in Ramanujan's natural intellectual leaps and challenges him by making Ramanujan work out his theorems and assertions, 'step by step'. Anyone who has had any kind of formal education will remember math teachers insisting in solving problems that way too. And before we begin to smile, at that familiar phrase, we realise that a man who could simply state 120 theorems in two letters to professor Hardy, could hardly understand the reasoning behind the step by step working out of the assertions in order to prove them before publishing them as a paper.

Professor Littlewood (Toby Jones plays the part with a brilliant tongue in cheek performance) who worked with Hardy admitted after watching Ramanujan work, that he could be compared to Euler and Jacobi, 'at least a Jacobi'.

If a movie makes you come back and look up these casual references made to mathematicians (a subject that one has always found daunting and beyond comprehension), then it has achieved something remarkable indeed.

Jeremy Irons plays the role of the tough taskmaster so brilliantly, we begin to care for him as much as we care about Ramanujan. If you dig up pictures of professor Hardy you will se remarkable similarities to the professor in real life. And you will discover also that Hardy and Ramanujan published a paper together that is not easy to comprehend. But you don't have to. The film lures us with so much more than formulae.

We see the connect and we worry for the both of them. This is a new feeling to have as audience. We saw a movie about Stephen Hawking just last year, and despite an award winning performance we did not worry for the characters. Here, we do. We want the two of them to work out the differences in their approach to the subject and create magic. A delightful cameo by Bertrand Russell (Jeremy Northam) offers us many insights to the connect both mathematicians share.

What was really awful about the movie is the melodramatic Indian portions. You are told Ramanujan lived in abject poverty and then we are shown his mother and wife in silks and jewellery. Yes, they make for beautiful viewing, but so untrue to the characters. And before you say 'exotic India' you see a temple elephant! And of course the machinations of the mother-in-law make it all too Bollywood even if true. If you can ignore this portion of the movie, then you will certainly come back home satisfied on the account of Jeremy Irons who is forced to acknowledge that there is God in numbers...

And the movie will affect you in ways you wouldn't even think possible. I found myself looking for a cab with a number 1729 to ride back home. Why? Read up about Ramanujan. Or watch the film.

p.s. The conversations between Bertrand Russell and professor Hardy are delightful, and what I thought was a mere clever dialog of the film is real. Professor Hardy said,' If I could prove by logic that you would die in five minutes, I should be sorry you were going to die, but my sorrow would be very much mitigated by pleasure in the proof.' 


Incorrect Address. Turn Around And Leave.

1/2 reluctant star

Mini Review:

A really pathetic movie that tries so hard to be the Oscar winning Room and a Science Fiction movie about alien attack that drives your patience to the ground.

Main Review:

If you decide you want to see this movie because you watched the original Cloverfield (2008), where you watched a giant monster attack New York, then you are going to wish it would show up sooner to gobble them all up.

This film too has been shot in the same hand-held camera style, but only in the beginning. Just becomes a really poor version of Room, with John Goodman as the one who imprisons the heroine (who seems to be blessed with lots of presence of mind and is ready with all kinds of solutions to her situation), and there are hints and clues strewn all around that he has done this before. John Goodman is rough, conspiracy theorist living at a remote farm. The bunker he imprisons the heroine is like a well-stocked apartment, only underground. Just like a scene from the original film there are shelves of stocked food (see, how hard I’m trying to keep the connect?). Besides that, the bunker is equipped with an air filtration system, a garbage chute, water to bathe, a rec room…

There is another resident in the bunker, a farmhand who corroborates the story of alien attack that John Goodman has fed her. As expected, she pretends to fit in and tries to run away at every single chance she gets.

Had this character the John Goodman plays been half as suspicious as he is supposed to be, half as experienced as he is in abducting people, then he would have seen the heroine act suspicious, surruptitious and sly. The ‘acting’ was so groanworthy, you began to wish John Goodman would catch her and hit her.

The twist can be seen from a mile away: who asked you to name the film ‘Cloverfield’? Not clever at all. If you do drive into the multiplex where this is playing, reverse the car and drive away. 10 Cloverfield Lane is clearly a wrong address.

(this review appears in


Candy Crush Is Real

1 star

Mini Review:

This is the ultimate American dysfunctional suburbian story! There are as many people as there are candies in the game and as many problems crushing them. And the colors! Oh mah lord! So bright and cheerful you want to wear dark glasses just to shield your eyes from the screen. 

Main Review:

Despite the impressive star cast - Julia Roberts, Jennifer Aniston, Timothy Olyphant, Kate Hudson, Sarah Chalke, Margo Martindale, Hector Elizondo (remember the suave manager in Pretty Woman?), Robert Pine - this movie is such a tasteless candy crush you wonder why they wanted to be a part of this film at all.

So each of these stars plays the role of a dysfunctional person: a mother of two who is stuck on her ex who has married a younger woman who wears skimpy clothes, a lesbian woman who has not told her parents about her sexual orientation, a woman who has married an Indian doctor and has a child has not informed her parents about it, quintessential 'white' parents who drive around in an RV quaffing beer and fried chicken who are bigoted and racist, a man who ignores his teenage daughters because he's still mourning his dead wife, the teenage girls who miss their dead mother, neighbor hood gym-going ladies who want to fix the mourning dad with one girl or another, a young woman who has abandonment and commitment issues which stops her from marrying a perfectly good lad, a woman who has forfeited her life for her career and more... 

With so many cliches intercutting and looping without any solutions (erm, the audience has seen the solutions to these problems a mile away) you barely get any time to like a single character. You do, however want to ask Jennifer Aniston why she chose to be dressed like a frump, be a mom who will comment on doughnuts in the house? Why does she want to get back together with an ex who clearly is not interested in her? You want to ask Kate Hudson why she needed to lie to her parents in the first place even though she knows they are racist? You want to ask Jason Sudeikis why he let someone get him to wear pink pants?

The movie goes on and on and everyone's problems are resolved. But you come away with a question for the filmmakers: who says 'I have abandonment issues.' in a dialog?

Abandon this film and let it appear on cable. Even then watch it because I gave Julia Robert's legs the lone star for this movie.

Saturday, April 23, 2016


80 / 100 VERY GOOD!

3 stars

Mini Review:

‘If the son of a doctor becomes a doctor, the son of an engineer, an engineer, then won’t the daughter of a domestic worker become a domestic worker?’ A mother of a stubborn young girl who lives in a shanty town in Agra decides that she is going to prove her daughter’s statement wrong. And we get to watch a delightful film on relationships, on tenacity, on education…

Main Review:

Swara Bhaskar is one of the most amazing actors we have in the movies today. Most heroines today would not even dream of playing the role of a mother of a 15 year old because it usually spells the death of their careers as ‘heroines’ in Hindi films. Swara manages to convince us that she is can be the three job holding, hard-working maid who hopes that her child won’t have to struggle the way she has had to all her life.

The child though just wants to play and be the lazy teenager we have all been. Who wants to study when there’s distractions offered by TV and dance and movies? Who wants to study hard when it is more fun playing hooky with school-friends? Why make the effort when you can have more fun sitting in the back bench, laughing at the Principal?

Swara works as a cook and domestic help at the home of a doctor (played by Ratna Pathak Shah) who is not only her sounding board but also guide. The memsaab has a wonderful solution to bring the child out of her stupor. Reverse logic!

The movie is just so amazing because the solution brings a smile to your face. The mother uses this reverse logic on the child to egg her on to getting better marks. The child is unsuspecting and falls hook, line and sinker to the ‘project get the child to study’.

Pankaj Tripathi the principal plus mathematics teacher is simply brilliant as a sum of all teachers caricatured from our lives. Although exaggerated, he is simply brilliant.

The classmates of the daughter are all delightful too, even though we don’t know their names as actors and no listing is available right now…

The intermission comes so quickly upon us, you know you are immersed in this world and understand their language (Hindi spoken like someone less educated than you or I). It’s only in the second half that the preachiness creeps in slowly and subtly. But it’s there. There is no escaping the ‘larger message’ the film is trying to teach. You grit your teeth and bear it because you like the characters so much. The last Pursuit of Happyness style ending is so bad, you want to shake someone up and say could you simply just tell a story and allow the audience to make up their minds about the importance of never losing hope and dreaming big without you having to explain it all?

This is a precious little gem of a film, despite it’s obvious moral science lesson. Watch!

(appears on )

review: LAAL RANG

How Much Can You Depend on Randeep Hooda's Bod On A Motorbike?

2.5 stars

Mini Review:

It's a welcome change watching dark comedy on the screen. And the writing is good, the scenes are outrageous and the chuckles are genuine. There's also the smashingly good bod of Randeep Hooda and his evil grin riding on a classic motorbike. If only the the film could be held together a little smartly...

Main Review:

Stealing and selling blood for profit is not exactly something you want to chuckle at. But when the crazy haired, goggle-eyed lanky man who steals blood packs is called 'Dracula' you can only but laugh. 

Then you watch wide-eyed at Shankar. He's all-knowing, smirking, smoking, seducing 'sargana' (the head) of the blood smuggling operation. He has attitude and an obvious sexuality that makes mothers hide their daughters in the basement, and hospital admin department ladies swoon. And he owns an RX100 bike. A classic now. Yes, yes, that's Randeep Hooda. 

The young man who is the young apprentice who is super-impressed and wants to be like Shankar. Alas, Akshay Oberoi who plays the role of Rajesh, the apprentice has no other expression than 'male ingenue'. This role needed someone who could express more than amazement at meeting Shankar. He is supposed to carry the story forward, not make us want to tell him to stop staring and blink.

The writing is sharp and even though it is in Haryanvi Hindi, it is fun to hear the dialect. The supporting cast is brilliant. Neelam the Admin lady (Shreya Narayan), Babuji the Blood Bank official (Rajendra Sethi), Piaa Bajpai is Poonam - Rajesh's love interest who consistently uses plural of every word (thanks to Rapidex English Speaking Course) shine in their roles. So why is this such an average movie?

The music is so forgettable it actually gets in the way of the story. And the long, lingering shots of the motorbike are not really a homage to the classic bike but just shameless product placement. The first time the apprentice waxes lyrical about the bike, you smile because that's the awe you felt too, and you remember how you bowed and scraped so your brother/best friend took you for a ride on their first motorbike. But then you see those long rides again and again and again as well as a buying of the bike from the showroom scene too. It's unnecessary and very obviously a product placement. 

The biggest carp one could have against the otherwise fabulous script, is it does not answer the question the film starts with: the apprentice's wife needs blood at the hospital, so does he buy blood? The film waffles in many places.

But it does have the brazen boy Shankar grinning at the women in the audience with a, 'Come, ride on my bike with me' invitation. Even though it makes for amazing eye candy, it does not a movie make.





Mini Review:

Lots of money has been wasted (turning black into white?) by taking the entire cast and crew to Fiji and letting them play Secret Agent Secret Agent with the most asinine scenes that have been put together by cretins. This film is an insult to the awesome Santa Banta Pjs we enjoy.

Main Review:

The villain's name is Sonu Sultan so calling him Rehana Sultan, Tipu Sultan, Razia Sultan, Sonu Nigam, Sonu Walia is supposed to be a joke.

And this goes on and on and on through the movie even though it has fallen flat after three 'Hain? Tipu Sultaan?' 

No amount of playing comic sounds as background score makes it funny. And neither does animation inserted in the middle of a scene. 

The cast sounds enviable: Boman Irani, Vir Das, Johnny Lever, Sanjay Mishra,Vijay Raaz, Ram Kapoor, Tinnu Anand, Vrajesh Hirjee, Vijay Patkar, Neha Dhupia and Lisa Hayden and more. But what are they doing?

Ram Kapoor is a villain who does not know what 'Luka Chhipi' is. Come on! You don't know hide and seek? This is the climax, by the way.

The two heroines are made to wear leather outfits. Someone forgot to tell the wardrobe assistants that they are shooting in Fiji. Whatever happened to bikini babes on the beach concept?

Johnny Lever is a Nepali Don hiding in a cave in Fiji. Before you can ask 'why?' you are shown Ayub Khan, the Indian Ambassador to Fiji (insert car name jokes Fiat, Mercedes etc here) has been kidnapped. Indian RAW agents threaten Fiji police, get their own agents in for investigation. The Boss (Tinnu Anand) yells at the second in command so much that the second-in-command (Vijay Raaz in a pony tail) sends to yokels Santa and Banta (Boman Irani and Vir Das) to sabotage the career of his boss.

Santa and Banta have dumb encounters with 'Chinese kha raha hai' ('angrezon ko kha gaya kya?' joke does not even raise a mild hyuck) Ranjeet, and Sanjay Mishra...

Obviously Santa and Banta have, 'Belt lagao!' orders and react with 'But hum toh naade waale hain'

The snores from the audience indicates that the jokes are trite and dead, and that it is ghastly to see decent actors make an ass of themselves. The only conclusion: the actors had better be paid well for this truly shitty film.


Five Year Old Girls Wouldn't Buy This Story

half star

Mini Review:

Chris Hemsworth, Charlize Theron, Jessica Chastain, Emily Blunt play dress up and do such silly things, even five year old girls who walk around in their mommy's high heels will be bored watching the unoriginal, silly story.

Main Review:

Remember Snow White? And how though the movie wasn't much the special effects were? How you were gobsmacked at the gold melting mirror, and the evil queen's dress that turned into birds? The sequel is here to disappoint you on many, many levels.

The evil queen is dead, and Snow White rules over happy lands. So what new story could you weave? Go back a bit in time and add a character: evil queen's love lorn sister. The evil queen insists on something like, 'There is evil inside you, tap into it.' When the sister asks, 'How?', the evil queen turns her sister into... Wait for it... Elsa from Frozen! While originality begins to gasp for air, we are shown more nonsense that is straight out of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang... Flashes of deja vu continue through the movie, and you need something stronger than caffeine to stop yourself from groaning.

Indians love mythology and we made careers of stars like NTR by casting them as Krishna in movies. But even we have now confined costume dramas to the small screen (Suryaputra Karan, Sankat Mochan Hanuman, Jodha Akbar, Ashoka and their ilk). Why on Earth is Hollywood still stuck on fairy tales that are daft when told without any twist whatsoever. Is Snow White were a horror movie, maybe there would be a glimmer or hope. But they think getting stars like Chris Hemsworth and Jessica Chastain to play star crossed lovers playing with bows and arrows. Their conversation is so stilted, you can see how uncomfortable they seem 'acting'. In every scene Jessica Chastain seems so distracted, you wonder if she's still looking out Osama Bin Laden.

The funny dwarfs, the firefly like creatures, the bear/snow-leopard creature the Snow Queen rides, the goblin chief... are such cliches you emerge from the movie exhausted. Charlize Theron's dead evil queen shows up again, but even then, the story feels like they've been flogging a dead horse. You wish Surya Putra Karan shows up to shoot one last arrow that splits into two to kill that golden bird from the evil queen's dress that takes flight, and the second to the voiceover that promises yet another sequel by saying, 'Evil doesn't die, now, does it?'

Friday, April 15, 2016


If Dreams Come True, Will Nightmares?

2 stars

Mini Review:

It starts out as a great idea: a weird kid whose powers include making dreams come true. Grown ups love the beauty of the dreams but don’t know how to control his nightmares. You get goosebumps just thinking about it. But the execution is so slow, you find that you’re trying hard to stay awake.

Main Review:

I love horror films. I am willing to give in to the spook inside the closet, or the dead who have not crossed to the other side. I love haunted houses and creepy lakes and forests that swallow people. So the kid who does not want to sleep because bad things happen, is a great, great premise for a scary movie.

The little kid is chosen well. Just like Damien in the original Omen, he has a sense of the angel and evil about him. This is the same kid you saw in Room - Jacob Tremblay - and you know he has screen presence. He plays Cody, the orphan with a secret history with foster parents.

Mark and Jessie are the new foster parents, played by Thomas Jane (you saw him in The Punisher and Dreamcatcher) and Kate Bosworth (you saw her in 21 and Still Alice). They have been recently bereaved and the decision to bring a child back into their home has been tough. But they do the right thing for Cody. They remove all but one picture of their dead child Shawn.

Little boy Cody is so cute, so well-behaved, your heart immediately goes out to him. And the magic he brings home is just so amazing, you feel he is going to bring the smile back to Kate Bosworth’s face.

But the home and it’s dark colors does nothing to help heal. The director fails to get Jessie out of her misery and you see both foster parents do everything slowly and mechanically. This makes for the movie to be automatically slow-paced. Mark at least shows that he’s making an effort to lighten the heaviness at home. Kate Bosworth could have been a truly creepy mom had she been happy during the day and waited for Cody’s dreams to fulfill her own at night. But she wanders around expressionless and melancholy all through the film, and it becomes a tedious watch.

Loved the special effects the child’s dreams bring to the home, and up to a point the nightmares are creepy too. But the imagery of a moth swarm coming out of a demon face is not new, and fans of horror will not get too spooked by it. Yet the director Mike Flanagan manages to deconstruct the fears very well. This movie was supposed to be titled ‘Somnia’ as the third movie after Absentia and Oculus, but the title Before I wake is curious enough for you to explore.

If you like your horror served on a platter of loud noises and screams, then maybe you will be disappointed. I hated the really slow pace of the film, but there’s something wonderfully creepy about the premise and the promise of more horror in the last scene between the boy and his new mom which helps you come back home and check for monsters under your bed…

(this review appears on

review: FAN


3 and 1/2 stars

Mini Review:

We've all had pictures of Bollywood stars, Rock stars or Sports stars plastered on our Godrej steel almirahs at home, inside and outside. We've carefully preserved first day first show tickets in our diaries. But how far will you go to get your idol's attention? This is a wonderfully taut thriller that will keep you switching sides: sometimes for the star, some times for the fan.

Main Review:

The film is so tailor-made for Shah Rukh Khan, you cannot imagine any other star to possess the cojones to perform a self-deprecating role where his real life events are incorporated into the story. Who else but Shah Rukh can understand the madness of traveling WT (without ticket) by train to make it in big bad Bollywood?

Shah Rukh has been sniggered at, reviled for 'dancing at weddings'. The film so skilfully uses this fact and weaves it into fiction that you can only admire Shah Rukh for practically admitting that he is treated like an 'item' even though he performs a great act at these weddings.

But this film is as much about his fan as it is about him. Shah Rukh plays Aryan Khanna the superstar as well his crazy fan Gaurav Chandana. Gaurav mimics Shah Rukh at neighborhood contests, his room is plastered with photographs of the star and his parents indulge his innocent fandom. When the movie starts, you clap in appreciation because you have done the same - cut out and pasted pictures and posters of movie stars, rock stars or sports stars on your own Godrej steel cupboards, that one wall you shared with your siblings' hero pictures, you kissed their pictures in school lockers - and more.

I must confess I called up a radio station and was thrilled when my valentine's day message was accepted as a winner for a 'meet your Bollywood star valentine show', and I went to his house with 20 other fans for high tea. We met him, and I don't remember anything else that happened to my life for the next few days. So when Gaurav meets Aryan Khanna, I laughed, a little embarrassed, knowing that I must have looked exactly like that when I met the superstar in real life. That moment should win Shah Rukh all the awards.

We've seen his acting chops in Swades, and Chak De! and you loved him in as the eternal lover in Dil Se as well as Kuch Kuch Hota Hai and Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jaayenge. Here, he is everything and also plays a star hounded by a crazed fan.

Cynics will say they have seen it in Wesley Snipes' Fan, and even Arnie's Last Action Hero. But I will steer you to remember Kathy Bates in Misery, and how a fan can easily turn 'nuts'. Shakespeare was wrong when he claimed that a woman scorned was the most dangerous thing ever. Here a fan slighted by his idol turns into a monster.

You saw this in the trailer, didn't you? I did. And like most jaded people, I too wondered how a mainstream Bollywood movie could pull this off. Bollywood movies have suffered the curse of the second half for ever and ever.

But the film surprises you at every turn. You are sometimes the fan, and at other times the superstar the crazed fan is hounded. As the fan turns crazy and the star gives him the chase, you go through so many thoughts: How dare he slight the 'bechara' fan! So arrogant! Serves the Star right! Oh no! What is this Fan doing! He's so demented! What will the Star do now? Punch him! Punch him!

Yes the chases are a tad too long, but everyone in Bollywood is stuck on parkour. Sigh. But all is forgiven because we are shocked at what happens next.

And when the superstar claims his Delhi roots, there erupts a spontaneous applause amongst the audience. Now the star is going to get down and dirty, you know. But the fan is not to be taken for granted.

Full marks to Gaurav's parents, the star wife (happily surprised to see Waluscha on screen!), Gaurav's one sided love Neha  are all wonderful support system in this movie. 

You will not come away untouched, that is for sure. There are so many moments where you know 'this could be me', and others where you wonder 'could I turn into this?' You have heard fans writing letters in blood for stars, this is a tribute to that madness from a star to his fans.  

p.s. I would watch the movie again only for the montage we saw in the beginning of the film. Clever, clever technique!


Thursday, April 14, 2016


mirror, mirror on the wall,
sniggers brazenly at me,
i’m shopping at the mall.

mirror, mirror on the wall,
my wallet’s fat too, don't laugh,
call me ‘madame’, maybe ‘doll’!

mirror, mirror on the wall,
my weight is actually perfect,
if only i were six foot tall.

mirror, mirror on the wall,
my oakleys on, “it fits!”
i say to the girl in the hall.

mirror, mirror on the wall,
i’m not mutton dressed as lamb,
wipe that expression, what gall!

mirror, mirror on the wall,
a martini is fixed,
you take the call,
is this a villanelle at all?

easy, isn't it?

no explanation,
no reasons,
no apologies,
you simply delete
a person
from your address book
that's tough darling.

it would have been easier to say
i fell out of love, or,
the magic's gone,
or, i met someone else.
or, i just wanted an affair

Saturday, April 09, 2016


Hammy Naseeruddin Shah Probably Did It For The Bacon

0 star

Mini Review:

Naseeruddin Shah showcases his stupidity (and perhaps avarice for money they may have paid him) when he dons dreadlocks and stars in the ridiculous thing called Blueberry Hunt. It's a one line idea: Pot growing recluse battles assassins who have come to steal his stash from his remote farm. The idea falls apart within ten minutes. And you come away respecting the star less.

Main Review:

I'm rather ticked off. What the devil prompts Naseeruddin Shah to act in such an idiotic film? WHAT WAS HE THINKING?

Was it the money? Must be. What else could prompt him to ham it up-till the gills, mumbling incoherently what seems to be more extempore shiite than dialog. Did they direct him to ham it? Even if they did, where was discretion? Brains?

Was it this obvious pride that the film would turn out to be a single man masterclass in acting? The only thing you will remember is his tying and untying of the silly dreadlocks he wears. The presser said proudly that the dreadlocks were Naseer-ji's idea! Why? Because he's a man who grows marijuana. Clearly his addled brain associates dreadlocks with marijuana. Ugh! The small film like Saving Grace dealt with the same topic with so much finesse and humor. No dreadlocks!

Then we are told, he does not want to have anything to do with the film. Such a shame to first 'do' the film, and then publicly refuse to endorse it, no? He was there, fully conscious that this film rode solely on his supposed talent as an actor. 

He must have been so chuffed! Someone wants to make a film with only him and a dog! And the filmmakers should know better. Dogs can sense intruders better than cameras. This dog was probably fed up listening to Naseeruddin Shah mumbling about retiring from his forest life to the city of Bombay where his lost love lives. Bleaaaargh!

He got away with it in Sona Spa and we laughed at his ridiculous antics in Himesh Reshamiyya's recent Teraa Surroor. But this film is unforgivable.

The story is some one line elevator pitch. A pot growing recluse who lives in a remote forest like area. His 'buyer' gives him some implausible story about some guy he has dushmani with wanting to kill him and recluse. So the daughter of the dushman is drugged and brought to the recluse's home. The dushman sends two assassins one after the other to kill recluse and steal his crop. Recluse kills them and gets killed. The girl screams initially but falls for some gobbledegook about 'this bracelet will send an alarm on my sat phone if you are further than 50 ft from me'. 

But there are so many holes in the story you just cannot believe they made this film without using a smidgen of common sense. The place is so remote, there is no cell phone coverage or electricity we are told. But the man and his dog watch Bugs Bunny cartoons on a TV, the cottage has electricity (and not a single bulb generated by a portable gen set) for a coffee grinder, and he has a gas connection. The census ladies show up at his home! 

The funniest scene in this drudge is the scene when the assassin shows up with a rifle to kill Naseeruddin Shah and comes face to face with the dreadlocked man himself, who has a rifle of his own. Now they cannot kill each other at such close distance with rifles, so they back up to aim.

Do I need to say both die, and then out of nowhere North-Eastern singers show up and take Naseer's soul into the light, singing something...

What happened to the girl? I'm sure she's in denial about this film as well. I was just glad Naseeruddin Shah's awful hamming was over.


Come here, let me slap you!

1 star

Mini Review:

No matter what role he's playing, Jake Gyllenhaal has this smug expression which seems to say, 'Look at me, I'm so talented my eyebrows can win Oscars'. And in this movie he 'acts' so entitled, you want to slap him and say, 'If you're so intellectual, why are you taking everything so literally?' This problem is, that this 'clever' film treats the audience like morons. Just not cricket.

Main Review:

So Jake Gyllenhaal's character cannot grieve in the traditional way and shows up to work at the investment firm the day after his wife's funeral. His father in law, the head of the firm tells him to go home. He comes back, his parents are there, and dad leaves him with one piece of advice, 'When something doesn't work, break it down and find out why.'

And all fans of Jake Gyllenhaal go 'How cute! See! He's tearing apart everything from the leaking refrigerator at home to his computer at work and the loo door at work and then proceeds to simply bash the house his wife has lovingly created.'

It falls more in the region of stupid than intellectual. So the filmmakers decide to mask it by having Jake write to Customer Service of a vending machine company (the pack of peanut m&ms gets stuck) venting all his feelings about not really feeling grief at his wife's death and wanting a refund for the quarters swallowed by the hospital machine.

Of course the Customer Service is manned by a pothead Naomi Watts who begins to stalk him. They become friends and she sort of giggles at his 'break everything down' antics. Even potheads would know that letting a strange new friend spend time with her own strange kid. The playing with the gun scene is so stupid, you begin to hope the kid aims the gun at his head instead of the bulletproof vest. 

The demolition of things doesn't stop there. He takes the bathroom lamps in his in-laws' home. Also buys a bulldozer on ebay and brings down everything in the home his wife created. The wife is supposed to be a woman who is a kind soul, who looks after special needs children. Hardly someone who might choose to have a chrome and steel home. But the filmmakers consider the audience to be less than smart so they choose to have a glass house. Also because glass breaks spectacularly, yes?

By the time Jake realises how to grieve, we have googled Reign Over Me (Adam Sandler does a better job of showing he cannot grieve and finds an unlikely friend to bond with!), Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close (where a little kid does a better job of reacting to grief) and even Remember Me (the air stewardess who has to chaperone kids whose parents are in the 9/11 tragedy). It's not like grief has be expressed in tears, and no one knows better than the melodrama loving Hindi film audience. It's just that no one goes around destroying property to evince any kind of sympathy from the audience.

Staring into the mirror and discovering you are Jake Gyllenhaal might be intellectual for some, but a pothead who says, 'I'm not sleeping with you because I have a son' make you want to go watch mythological tv shows. They have the universe demolishing idiots in many gory ways.

review: LOVE GAMES

'Roses Are Red, Violets Are Blue,
Sex Is Messy, Love Can Be Too!'

1 star

Mini Review:

When the cheesy headline actually plays as a song loud and proud, in the movie, you have a sneaky feeling that you are being had. That the director might be playing a prank on you and you are watching a parody erotica. But there are so many illogical convoluted twists you realise that they're serious. It offers many unintentional moments of laughter.

Main Review:

Imagine someone injecting a strong dose of muscle relaxant into your lips. And in the lips of someone you wanted to kiss. And then you both tried to kiss. 

The result would be what you will see Ramona and Sam do on the screen. 

It's not erotic. Not even remotely. So you start wondering if the filmmakers playing an elaborate joke on you and when Ramona calls Sam 'Jittery Pants', you have to try real hard to not imagine anything cartoon-like. 

Let me be honest here. I actually liked the premise: When loving gets dull, add a bit of spice, maybe even a dangerous challenge to resuscitate the relationship. And things never go as planned, do they? 

It could have been a cool erotic thriller. But they choose to go, 'We're page 3, dude! Like, seriously!' 

So there's penthouse apartments, rave parties, Gucci bags, and high heeled stilettos (make the women walk as though they were camels), blingy mini dresses, multiple coke snorting scenes, psychiatrists...

Sam is so bored in his affair with already married (and recently widowed) Ramona that he goes back to cutting himself with nearest handy piece of glass. Ramona asks,'Have you read the book 'Love Game?'

Sam who looks like he works really hard at the gym (where he lost his comb)and has no time to read books. He answers truthfully, 'No.'

Ramona's perpetually dilated pupils dilate even more and she explains to background music that makes us believe she is naagin!

'We go to a party and choose the happiest couple. You seduce the wife and I the husband. As proof of seduction we send each other a video. Whoever uploads video first, wins. Loser has to buy a week's supply of cocaine for the winner.'

Of course the lad wins. Ramona is pissed off. Threatens she is never going to let him go, and even shoots at him a couple of times because he cannot stop laughing and crowing about his win. Of course they kiss in anger. It looks more like people slurping up a bowl of pho rather than two people kissing passionately. But this is erotica, so maybe they kiss like that in farmhouses and penthouses, so you wait until the camera pans away to next couple.

The famous criminal lawyer husband (Hiten Tejwani from TV soaps) is a jealous, abusive husband of a pretty woman who comes back from a party alone to his wrath. Boss, if you are jealous, then you'd better keep your wife at home and in a burqua, no? Why would you throw her out of the house for going to a party and then wake the poor gal up (she's sleeping in the car) only to order her to 'wear something nice to tonight's party'. 

Turns out, Ramona and Sam have chosen them to be the next victims. And both leave party with them separately. Ramona with Hiten to the farmhouse and Sam to... Wait! To the hospital! He discovers pretty woman is woman of substance (and not just a substantial rack encased in bling), a surgeon, no less! She is smart enough to guess his seduction routine and tells him off. And to keep us interested in her body, takes her blouse off, shows us her lacy bra and then red welts from 'I am afraid of my powerful husband...'

Sam is now in love. Much to the chagrin of Ramona. The plot gets convoluted when Ramona tries to separate them by telling the husband. The husband throws alcohol at another party over wife's head and threatens to kill her. Sam brings miserable pretty woman to guest house and tells her she is safe. 'I have kept shampoo in the bathroom and have switched the geyser on.'

You are digesting the banality of that dialog when bad things just happen and we see Ramona get into more hissy fits. Now Sam is not even making out with her (are we at the beginning of the movie, then?) and then we wake up from the banality when we hear:

'Tum toh fire brigade ban gaye ho. You come only in emergencies!'

Conscious that we are watching an erotica, this statement makes you turn to the person sitting next to you and hi-five, 'She said 'coming'!

Then it gets better and better as Ramona tries all her little blackmailing tricks. 'Let's make lust on the carpet when pretty girl surgeon is asleep on the bed,' Ramona says.

'What if she wakes up?' Sam is horrified.

'Then you'll be dead. Dee-Ee-Dee, dead!' Ramona spells out in glee.

When we recover from her spelling abilities, we see that there are deaths. But only because surgeon is truly fed up of her husband and Ramona of the lovesick Sam. Instead of Sam, the surgeon dies. We cackle in mirth as we see poor Sam cry his acting career into hell. But then we remember the house rule: heroines in Hindi movies cannot die.

There's more twists and turns in the plot than the Western ghats. In spite of 'I love lust, Sam', 'I'll give you one day for rona-dhona', 'I like sunbathing with a dead body, but I'll help you push a car off the cliff', all ends well for the surgeon and Sam. 

You come away wondering how you would use the phrase 'Jittery Pants' in a sentence in real life.

p.s. Had this film been made with a little more finesse, it could have been a watchable thriller. 

Friday, April 08, 2016


Trust In Jon Favreau, Just In Him!

3 and 1/2 stars

Mini Review:

When your childhood favorites grow up, this is what they look like, sound like, feel like - as you see them in Jon Favreau's The Jungle Book. It thrills you, makes you gasp in surprise and in wonder, it even terrifies you in parts. But what makes you happy, really happy from the inside is the joy of meeting Mowgli, Bagheera, Baloo and even Kaa. 

Main Review:

Watching this movie is such an amazing visual experience, no amount of explaining how advanced this CGI is, which makes for the scariest Shere Khan, the ginormous King Louie, the slithery Kaa ever. Technology so brilliant, you forget you are watching the usually hateful 3D, and drown happily in the IMAX version of the movie you watched on 21 inch screens at home. The Nippon Studios version of the 2D animated Jungle Book. I have always loved the Disney version where you sang 'Bare Necessities' loudly with all your friends in summer and 'Trust in me!' to each other by elongating the 'S' sounds just as Kaa did.

Scarlett Johansson seduces you in this version as Kaa, but briefly. And you sway in the seats, not because you are hypnotised by her, but because it's a familiar hisss! 

The voices of Bill Murray and Ben Kingsley make you sink in your chair and sigh. Mowgli will be safe when Baloo and Bagheera are there to save him. I was especially impressed with Lupita Nyon'go who is the voice of Raksha, Mowgli's wolf mom. But it's Shere Khan who enters the frame with his burnt face and puts ice on your heart.

I was terrified to watch Shere Khan really tear up the scenery. Idris Alba's usually sexy presence is turned into a fearful one as Shere Khan. The way Shere Khan climbs up the wolf hill and casually kills Akeyla, the leader of the wolf pack is not easy to digest. The fact that Disney has made a departure from it's usual sanitised way of showing death is at once applause worthy and a tad sad. You wish for the days of innocence, but know inside that kids today are playing really violent video games and can deal with death and separation as never before.

And now to admit that King Louie is not fun and games either. He's big, he's more orange than you ever remember and fiercer. I was biting my fingers really hard to stop myself from screaming out in fear. I realised that I was holding my breath when Louie had chases Mowgli and breaks down the pillars of the magnificent Monkey Temple. I don't especially enjoy watching monkeys, and when the packs attack Bagheera and Baloo, it is fearsome.

But there are so many moments of love and sweetness that you come away from the magnificence and the ever green story of a boy who is unafraid of the jungle and has the best friends who get drunk on honey and teach him that the 'Bare Necessities of life will come to you!'

The story has changed a bit too, and you understand why they don't have too many Man Village scenes. You love the huge elephants and understand their purpose in the movie. The story ties up neatly and your heart swells up with pride because you too can recite the law of the jungle! 

I came away with Selena Gomez's version of 'Trust in me' playing in my head. Gone was the fear Shere Khan instilled. Gone was the sorrow of losing Akeyla. Gone was the alarm at the red flower spreading destruction. I was seduced completely by Jon Favreau's very, very grown up Jungle Book.

Friday, April 01, 2016


ALL It deserves is a GIANT zero

1/2 star

Mini Review:

Apart from it's mildly interesting special effects, this film has nothing going for it. Least of all the sulky young adult heroine who is never happy, never satisfied and never sure of what to do next. Forget being confident or taking into confidence the bunch of people who chose to escape with her. This post apocalyptic world is so terrible you don't care for its fate. Relegate this movie to the depths of also rans.

Main Review:

At the heels of Hunger Games and Maze Runner trilogies, came the Divergent series. This movie series too talks of a post nuclear holocaust world. Just like the other young adult fiction it divides the world into types and there are watchers and DNA manipulators who are watching the kids. The Giver had so much of substance than this crap.

What is so amazing is that they chose a permanently sulky girl to lead the motley bunch to revolution. There is no happiness on her face, and no gratitude toward her friends who risk as much as she does. She doesn't show any compassion or love (Hunger Games is a stark contrast) and looks like she does not trust anyone or believe anyone. Even when she kisses the hero, it looks like she is doing this because she was asked to kiss. Now who can identify with such a miserable character?

And her accent didn't endear her to me at all. The more I heard her say, 'Comin', 'Givin', 'Takin', 'Growin', 'Fallin', the more I wished for the voice coach from 'Singing in the Rain' would show up to tell her there is a letter 'g' that needs to be pronounced at the end of each of these words. 

The movie plot is so convoluted that you want to tell the villain, 'If you had gas that erases memories, and you have the technology, then why didn't you gas them all first and then fix everybody?' It would have saved us all the boring two hour ride with a miserable unhappy girl.