Friday, December 22, 2017


Title gives the ending away, so now, timepass.

2.5 stars

Mini Review: 

You step out of the theater laden with cheese and corn: there’s flag waving patriotism, there’s good vs evil, there’s his girl kicking ass, there’s paisa vasool dialog, there’s sweaty biceps and six pack abs, there’s the gigantic gun, there’s comic relief, there’s also American drone strikes. Salman Khan fans will love the action-packed corny cheese fest that makes for a decent if predictable watch.

Main Review:

Bhabi calls Bhai 'Tiger'. Code Name Gaya Bhaad Mein.

So Salman Khan is a RAW agent living happily in Austria fighting wolves with his kid and Katrina Kaif who plays his wife (‘bhabi’ to you guys!) who kicks ass in a small supermarket:

‘Call the cops!’ she says to the bewildered white desk clerk who is learning Hindi, ‘There are muggers in the shop’

Before you say, ‘Erm… Whaa?’ Bhabi has kicked and punched them to the ground and the ‘muggers’ have not even finished the sentence, ‘Geeev meeee maaaaneeeeyyyy!’ in slow motion…

RAW head Shenoy (Girish Karnad) and his sidekick show up at Salman’s doorstep and you deja vu into 1985 when General Kirby calls in on Arnold Schwarzenegger's Alpine home (where he’s chopping wood, just like Salman) to tell him about finishing a bad guy holed up on an island.

But these days, bad guys are ISIS and their ilk and the story is in oil, so the movie brings us to the Middle East. Oooh, desert and sands and camels? No, no bomb carrying camels like in Hindi movies, but scary men with AK47s who wear towels over their heads and say, ‘Yalla, yalla!’ quite often, which means ‘Move on!’ and end up scaring no one really.

So Tiger shows up with his band of merry men to rescue nurses. Civilians, obviously, because someone has to scream for the soundtrack when guns go off…

Despite The Threat Of Drone Strikes, Tiger's Plan Seems Like The Odyssey
Tiger’s plan is so convoluted, you are grateful Bhabi shows up to kick up some ruckus on her own. Dammit! They missed the obvious dialog! He asks upon seeing her in the middle of the fight, ‘Why are you here?’ She should nonchalantly say, ‘To save the Tiger!’

But you forget, beautiful Bhabi's dialog delivery skills are practically non-existent. So be happy that Bhabi kills! She slashes necks and she cracks open skulls and bad guys who confront her have batons mostly and a sword or two. But she climbs up a torn up building rather well, so we forgive the corny story of women being made to clean the floors where they are raped. Hygiene? No! It’s a great shot of burka clad women scrubbing Moroccan tiled floor. Speaking of great shots, the bombed up part of the city is very nice. And so are the interior hospital shots.

Despite Che Type Full Graphic Design Face Wala Flag, Villain Has A Sob Story.

Why can't villains in movies be more like Gabbar? Gabbar was simply bad. No sob back story, no persecution. He liked being a daku. Here, the villain has to be villainous because 'Meri izaat'.

So the nurses are looking after Abu Usman (can we pay writers to get better villain names? A little research would have given them the Arabic equivalent of Tiger in the name ‘Zufer’). And could they not die so easily? I felt the corny,’Tiger does not hit men with glasses’ coming on several times, and that would get Abu Usman to charge at Tiger with viciousness, but no!

Oh yes, Tiger speaks about himself in the third person. There are fab one liners ('Ooparwala sar dekh ke Sardari deta hai...' great line where Tiger has to inspire his team member to do his job) which are drowned by fan screams because: Biceps!

Jala Hua Corn. Yaani Ki Boss, Kaikoo Film Mein Daala

There two walking tropes of death in action movies: One who says, ‘I’m going to raise the Indian flag when all the bad guys are dead’. He dies, of course. And the other who has been all over the newspapers giving away bytes that his role is like that of Jeremy Renner in The Hurt Locker. When you see the film, be warned, you could die laughing at him.

Bhai Ke Biceps Bade Hain, Sahi Hain! Lekin Film Kaikoo Lambi Kheenchi!

The action parts are great. No doubt about it. And thankfully there’s little romance and fans can gasp at how cool he is, lifting Katrina over his shoulder and walking with one hand in his pocket.

When the shirt comes off, though, you think people from Madame Tussauds have not been given enough credit. I’m a fan, and yet I know, it’s time to stick to the singlet…

There were cheers and whistles in the film and mostly it was good to be with Salman’s fans. But at 161 minutes, it was too much corn and cheese even for me.  

(A politer version of this review appears on )

Saturday, December 16, 2017


the imperial march should play in your head as you read the review:

It's Different! It's Not! It's Different! It's Not!

3 stars

Mini Review:

The empire is still evil and Supreme Commander Snook
is creepy in the manner of Emperor Palpitane. Thin and tall
and long bony fingers controlling the force like never before.
The rebels are at the end of their tether again, and need help.
Again. The story seems same but if you sit back and enjoy
what Star Wars means to you, then the brilliant end will
make you feel like a happy child once again.

Main Review:

Those who have watched Han Solo being killed by his son who
has gone over to the Dark Side, the villain of this film is clear.
It’s Adam Driver’s Kylo Ren. He wears that mask but does not
invoke the same fear as Lord Darth Vader when he appears on
screen. There is no music, no deep voice, no helmet wheeze…

Daisy Ridley’s Rey makes you want to hug her. She’s earnest
to a fault and there’s no one to say, ‘The Force is strong in this
one’. But you have Star Wars fables imprinted in your brain.
And she’s on the island persuading Luke Skywalker to help.

You see a glimpse of Luke’s Starfighter submerged in the water
and you want to see more of it. The Porgs try to be cute, but
they aren’t. Personally, they reminded me of pigeons who get
everywhere and nest anywhere. Was so happy to see
Chewbacca barbecue them. The crystal creatures could
go far in the Star Wars creature role bible.

Watching Carrie Fisher and Laura Dern (purple hair
notwithstanding) and Mark Hamill is such a pleasure, you know
you really are a fan of the franchise. The new characters, who
are really taking the place of the old order - Oscar Isaac who
plays Poe, a replacement for Han Solo - just pale in comparison
and don’t really make a mark.

The connect between Rey and Kylo Ren is very interesting
indeed. And the last confrontation between the empire and the
rebels (no matter what they call it now!) is awesome, indeed.

Star Wars remains visually mesmerizing. The aliens don’t have
anything spectacular to do, and yes, you don’t miss Jar Jar at all.
The lesson, ‘Let the past die..’ did not work. The past was so
glorious, they need a super fabulous story in the next movie to
keep the Star Wars madness alive. Having said that, I’ve booked
to see the film again. Go figure.

(this review appears on       

Friday, December 15, 2017


Facepalm Not Once, Not Twice, But Three Times!

1.5 stars

Mini Review:

It’s the story of a rookie cop and his dilemma: should he do
the right thing, the wrong thing or find a middle path. The
film is shot three times, each with a different ending. Something
that has been done to death. The editing is shoddy, the story
is obvious and all ploys of violence are boring. Makes you
wonder if the fourth option was for the audience to shoot itself
in the head to get away from such a terrible film.

Main Review:

With the release of Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Padmavati in the limbo,
there is a gigantic gap in Hindi film releases. That’s why films like
Fukrey Returns (last week) and now this film have found a
competition free release.

Nawazuddin Siddiqui stars in the film and he can do nothing to
save this Film School Graduation type film where everything and
everybody is trying too hard to make the script work. Or not.

Nawazuddin Siddiqui gets to play the ax murderer. His actions
are always, always parallel to fisherwomen chopping fish heads off.
Done to impress the audience, we assume.

Neeraj Kabi gets to play the cynical cop Khan who lets crooks
free and when they run, shoot them dead. The director of course
has never seen that happen in aa Hindi film, ever. Sigh.

Tannishta Chatterji gets to play a role of a poor woman suffering
from injustice yet again (she is the ax murderer’s wife who knows
nothing about her husband’s work, she just gets slapped around
by him).

Rookie cop Vijay Verma is so inspired by his dead dad’s ‘seekh’
he hesitates and he hesitates to shoot a criminal that you wish
to enter the story and pull the trigger for him.

There’s a doctor girlfriend to rookie cop who is luminescent
(Gitanjali Ramakrishna), but her role has been created so she can
bandage the chap who keeps getting hurt.

There is a bad sleazy cop, an ugly topless don (who exists to
do kushti in a buffalo barn and watch bar girls dance when he’s
not making deals with a bad politician). There’s  bar girl with a
heart of gold. There’s the ax murderer’s kid who takes his
dad’s place in the bad guy universe. There’s also some nasty
rain because crime happens only in the monsoons...

No, no, no! These are not a bunch of cliches at all!

What is worse is that the story looks pre-cellphone era.
The rookie cop asks the doc out on a date. She waits patiently
at a church (to look beautiful with all that candlelight), while he’s
taken away by Khan on an assignment. They don’t text each other?

The three choices of whether to shoot the criminal dead or no
seem to be so juvenile, when during one option the bad guy
shoot the rookie cop dead, you smother the desire to clap.
The film is tedious and boring. The director Amit Kumar has made
a similar chicken chopping intercut with people chopping short film
called Bypass which is a tad more interesting. Skip this feature film.

(this review appears on )

Sunday, December 10, 2017


It's In Assamese. But The Message Is Universal

Beyond stars


We Hide Everything. 'Take Her Inside!', 'What If People Get To Know?'

Jahnu Barua shows us a side of ourselves we do not wish to acknowledge. And the brilliant Seema Biswas is so perfect for the role, it made me watch again because the first time I watched it I could not see most of the film because I was bawling.

Now that's something because most films numb you to any sort of feeling. The romances are trash, the action is on wire, the story a single liner, the humor is plain forgettable and central conflict? What conflict? 

So back to This Gusty Morning. I don't buy that title. Am disconnected. Maybe there is a Assamese language metaphor or story that I'm missing here... 

The beginning intrigues. Why is this man erasing markings on what is clearly answer sheets of an exam.

The lighting, the setting is brilliant. Even the window clattering against the frame tells us that something is about to happen. 

The father-daughter conversation about not everyone is alike made me pause the film and call my dad just to see how he was. He asked what film I was watching now that I had called 'just like that'. Dads are smart. I waffled, and came back to the third watch of the film, determined that I would watch it without bawling as if tears were going out of style.

The Daughter Who Is Battling Demons Herself

How does a young woman who has an unwell mother and an older father fall in love and hope to get married? The young woman is a wonderful actor. Understated to boot. No nonsense like Hindi film heroines who need a soft focus lens on them at all times.

How many actors of today can do justice as this young girl has? I have not been able to think of one.

The Film Is Brilliant

I don't think star rating will do this film any justice. Just watch it. The lumps in your throat should make you realise how much can be said in a short film.

Friday, December 08, 2017


Trailer Was Terrible, But The Film Turned Out To Be Just Fine

2.5 stars

Hai Hai Yeh Trailer...

When we watched the trailer in the movie theater, there was puzzlement all around. Why is a seemingly grown-up person doing such strange things (climbs gates, wears a bizarre wig, ride a scooter into a shop) and is this a Bollywood film? With comedic sounds making the whole experience rather dumb.    

Turns Out, It's A Short Film

Bulbul is on YouTube. Chanced upon it when bingewatching short films to get over the ghastly offering by Bollywood this week.

Not bad.

No dialog!

A silly light bulb flashes above my head. That's why the comedy sound track. Before I facepalm and go on to the next film, the luminescent heroine stops me. I watch.

Obsessed With A Lad

She likes him. And she's going to do some really foolish things to get him. I sigh and remember the first time I had a crush and he left an orange ice cream stick in my office desk drawer. The whole office sniggered as the sweet gooey, sticky orange colored liquid created a gigantic stain on my new white levis.

I'm not confessing to the dumb things I did for love. 

I turn the sound down a notch because the comic sounds are grating on my nerves.

The heroine has very, very expressive eyes. And she does the pregnant act rather well. Heck, she even yawns prettily. The lad though is in love with someone else.

The Climax Is 'Dil Ko Chhoo Lene Wala'

Time sort of stopped for me when I watched Bulbul realise that hero cannot be hers. It is perhaps the most romantic scene I have seen all this year in cinema.

I swallow a lump in my throat. Art has indeed imitated life.



Nahi Waapas Aata Toh Accha Hota!

1 star

Mini Review:

The trouble with sequels is that they need to take the story forward
or put the protagonists in a new setting. Fukrey, the original mayhem
was fun because the protagonists were losers and yet they had a
knack of getting out of trouble. This film alas has none of the
original humor, the jokes seem forced and out of really bad
Whatsapp forwards, the characters have no redeeming qualities
and despite a bigger budget the story seems forced.

Main Review:

Fukrey had come out of nowhere in 2013 and hit every funny bone
just right. Two lads who are just not good enough for girls or money
or success. They team up with a young Sardar and a lad who has
overstayed in college. But then one of them dreams up of numbers.
They play the lottery and win big. They even manage to get the
attention of a bad girl: Bholi Punjaban. She bets on them and there
are drugs and more money and cops and mayhem that was fun.

In Fukrey Returns, Bholi makes a deal with a crooked politician
and comes out of jail with vengeance on her mind. Why did she stay
in jail for a whole year you wonder, but you let it be hoping she’d go
straight for the jugular. But then vengeance gets diluted when they
show dumb things like her henchmen are now traveling in an
auto-rickshaw instead of a car.

Kaali Naagin Bum Par He Kaategi. Because Cheap Laughs.

Meanwhile we get to see more closeups of Choocha’s (Varun
Sharma) body hair and acne/heat rash filled back in the name of
humor. Sucking snake venom off anyone’s butt (they’re defecating
in the bushes) is funny maybe if you are a ten year old.
And showing it twice is even more pathetic.

Pulkit Samrat, Ali Fazal and Manjot Singh had equal footage in
the original film. Their stories were fun. Here, they seem to occupy
the screen mostly having nothing to say or contribute to the story.
The heroines (Priya Anand and Vishakha Singh) too are now
cardboard cutouts and when they suddenly appear for the treasure
hunt (how did they know there was to be a hunt at all? The Lads
have not been in touch with them. And Choocha’s crush on Bholi
Punjaban is milked until death. Of the film that is.

Bechari Audience. Not. A. Single. Laugh.

Richa Chadda tries hard, but even she looks baffled at the goings on.
The super talented Pankaj Tripathi who plays Panditji, fails too because
he has to deliver really pathetic, unfunny lines. When will Bollywood
understand that speaking broken English is not comedy. Or for that
matter having African origin actors as henchmen and a dark skinned
guy giving mouth to mouth (again to Choocha who supposedly does
not brush his teeth for weeks) is more than insulting. It’s racist.   

All in all Fukrey Returns is like being offered water from Mantriji’s
pedicure bowl as a drink. It’s disgusting and it stinks.

(This review sans subheads appears on



3.5 stars

Mini Review:

The legend Bjorn Borg was supposed to be icy cool on court and
is still considered to be one of the greats. His on-court rivalry with
John McEnroe and the Wimbledon finals matches are a lesson is
tennis that is inspiring. This human face behind the two legends
is skewed in favor of Borg, but then Shia LeBeouf plays McEnroe
which makes the film a creepy watch. Or else this film would have
earned a couple more stars.

Main Review:

I’m  a tennis freak. Have bookmarked Roger Federer As A
Religious Experience by David Foster Wallace. I can miss
cheesecake if there’s Wimbledon on…

This film is about a lad who ruled the world of tennis since he was
15. Never got to see him play but the matches are on the net. And
the film catches him at his most vulnerable. When he wants to win
so bad, but thinks he cannot. And he’s beautiful. Sverrir Gudnason
as Borg has such a magnificent screen presence, we know they
had to cast Stellan Skarsgard as his coach. Young Borg too looks
so vulnerable, you want to wipe his tears away.

Personally, I just don’t like Shia Lebeouf. That’s why it is okay
to hate his guts as he plays John McEnroe. He doesn’t at all look
like young John McEnroe so his being in the film simply rankles.

That apart, I watched the tennis mesmerised, as if I had been
transported back in time. The overhead shots are mindblowingly
brilliant and watching the iconic picture of Borg on his knees come
alive on screen will bring you to tears, as it did to me.

Watching this is as good or even better than Rush or any other
sports movie. You don’t need to eat strawberries and cream (tho
it’s the weather for it!), just book your tickets and experience
Wimbledon for yourself.

(watch out you're not holding your breath too much. you'll feel
giddy emerging from the theatre like I did)

Review: DADDY’S HOME 2

Too Many Daddies Spoil Christmas

No stars

Mini Review:

Father’s kissing grown up sons on the mouth. Again. And again.
And again. Christmas gone wrong. Kids who are so badly
behaved you want to bring back the old fashioned paddling.
Moms are irrelevant because the film is about ‘Daddies’. This
is a broth called disaster. Drunk kids and ‘accidents’ with
chainsaws is not funny at all. For anyone.

Main Review:

Christmases gone wrong have given us really wonderful, funny,
heartwarming films (and I am including Home Alone in the list),
but this isn’t one of them. In fact, it is worse than the Bad Moms
Christmas that appeared a couple of months ago and vanished
in ignominy (as it should have).

This film has a gigantic checklist of everything you want to hate
about Christmas films:
  1. Fairy lights have to come crashing down.
  2. Snowman/men are built and heads will be chopped off
  3. Children get drunk on eggnog
  4. Grown-ups get drunk
  5. Grown-ups get angry and hidden thoughts emerge
  6. Someone hates Christmas songs
  7. Someone overdoes the decoration
  8. Someone thinks tree decoration is a pain
  9. Snowball fights
  10. Most loathed grownup gets hit during snowball fights
  11. Christmas tree crash
  12. Someone will get electrocuted
  13. Someone will slip in the snow, pants left behind
  14. The presents are age-inappropriate
  15. Kids will be really badly behaved.
  16. Christmas pageant at school is disastrous
  17. A Christmas carol/song will fix every problem
  18. Grown ups who fought will make up in the end
  19. Children who fought/were rude will turn new leaf
  20. Group hugs and/or songs as credits roll

Add to the list the strangest father son ritual: kissing on the
mouth making, ‘Mmmmm...mmmm...mmm...mmm!’ sounds.
It is certainly odd, but is it supposed to be funny?

If someone used this film as an excuse to mass shoot extended
families at Christmas, I would be the first one to pardon them.
The film is so bad it takes you in the ‘kill everyone’ zone.
Give this film a miss and have yourselves a wonderful Christmas.