Friday, July 21, 2017

Review: LIPSTICK UNDER MY BURKHA


Is This The Beginning Of A Revolution?

3.5 stars

Mini Review:

The lives of four women who live in a dilapidated old Haveli in a small town are brilliantly portrayed in this film which breaks many taboos. These women struggle to get out of the designated roles assigned them by society and we see delightful hidden personalities. In a patriarchal society these secretly rebellious women find slices of happiness even though their rights are trampled casually. The film serves reality with humor and brilliantly.

Main Review:

Small towns are congested, their airless houses filled with thoughtless people and crammed with things. In one such dilapidated haveli of a small town four women dare to dream. And director Alankrita Shrivastava shows us how their dreams can be trampled by casual patriarchy.

Rehana is allowed to go to college because her father is generous. When she comes back she stitches burkhas at her dad’s tailoring shop late into the night.

Leela’s mother has made so many sacrifices, she has to prove she is a good daughter by getting hitched to a rich guy who belongs to a large joint family and wants to wait for ‘suhaag raat’...

Shireen is a brilliant saleswoman, but has to endure a Saudi returned husband who merely uses her as a sex object

Buaji is to be just that. A matriarch to the whole haveli. But this fifty-something spinster is fed up of Satsangs. She’d rather read Bills & Moon romances that can steam up her evenings and days and afternoons and nights…

Only the audience knows their secret. And even though you know at the back of your head, their realities are going to bring their dreams crashing on the haveli floor, you hope against hope that they manage to begin a revolution. The film was stopped at every step by the Indian Censors, attempting to ban the film. How can you allow women to dream? To be sexual creatures? To be more successful than their husbands? Should they even breathe?

Indian patriarchy has long blamed western attire, make-up, and education of girls. This movie cocks a snook at traditions and expectations, showing us what women want, what women really hanker for, how empathy can bring them together, how they understand each other’s needs by just a look, a gesture.

You’ll love Ratna Pathak Shah as Buaji and Konkona Sen Sharma as Shireen. But it’s the two younger girls Plabita Borthakur as Rehana and Aahana Kumra as Leela who hold their own. Watch it and renew your lipstick if you are a girl, and buy your girl one, if you are a lad. But don’t miss this film. It’s reality served with dollops of humor.


P.S. Some might say that the male characters are uni dimensional. But then this film makes up for all the damsel in distress and arm candy roles women are subjected to endure in most Bollywood films



(this review minus the post script appears on nowrunning dot com)


Review: MUNNA MICHAEL


Nawazuddin Siddqui The Redeemer
Tiger Shroff The Young Jackie Shroff
The Film Is Blah

2 stars

Mini Review:

A lad called Munna dances like Michael Jackson, conning inexperienced club show offs into parting with money at dance offs. One day he cons a gangster’s brother and is caught by cops on the take. The gangster promises to let him go only if Munna teaches him to dance so he can woo a gal. All’s fun and dance in gangsta world until Munna falls for the same girl.

Main Review:

Nawazuddin Siddiqui should now officially be nicknamed The Redeemer. It’s great fun to watch him be the gangster Mahinder, the 42 year old hankering to have a college type Valentine day romance with the girl he is smitten with…

Now his brother Balli, is played by another actor who is perfect for any role he is given, Pankaj Tripathi. Balli gets into trouble when he is beaten up by a nightclub showoff dancer Munna who has landed in Delhi from Mumbai.

Munna is played by Tiger Shroff who has started looking better and better as his beard has grown, because he has flashes of young Jackie Shroff. Munna was found as a baby by an over the hill Bollywood extra Michael (hammed wonderfully by Ronit Roy), and has grown up imitating Michael Jackson. Munna goes to nightclubs with his crew, and makes snide remarks at club showoffs. When the showoffs challenge him to dance, he wins lots and lots of money. His reputation gets him banned from entering posh clubs and he leaves town by telling his dad, he is finally going to get a ‘corporate job’

Balli’s dude gets conned by Munna and Munna ends up facing Mahinder. Mahinder likes Munna’s attitude, and says he’ll forgive Munna only if he teaches mahinder to dance. Mahinder takes Munna to meet his love interest.

The girl looks like Mamta Kulkarni but behaves like she’s channeling her inner Deepika Padukone. Meet Dolly the Dancer. She dances at some sleazy club. Of course she’s feisty and fearless and has a heart of gold.

Predictably Mahinder now begins to woo Dolly with the help of Munna. Sending her gifts, inviting her to dinner, giving her a job… But Dolly falls for Munna. Before you give Nawazuddin a chance to sing, ‘Dost dost na raha’, Dolly disappears.

The film too falls off a cliff now because there is the horrendous dance competition for the audience. This dance competition thing has never really worked for anyone, has it? The worst part is, this tribute to Michael Jackson has such poor music, and such ordinary choreography, you are glad the legend is not alive to see such trash in his name.

Tiger Shroff wears so many transparent shirts, you want to put a blanket on him and say, ‘Lad, everyone who watches Bollywood movies knows you have a six pack, you do not have to wear shirts made of lace tablecloths or sheer curtains to prove anything to anyone.’

Tiger Shroff is getting better with every film, but he does not need a dramatic pause in that one signature dialog he gets to say in every movie. Thankfully there is no ‘Hero’ flute music playing as he makes an entry into every scene. Small mercies. Nawazuddin Siddiqui does an awesome imitation of Christopher Walken doing the dance to Fatboy Slim when he finally tries to persuade the girl to become his. That, and the rest of his role earn this film the stars.



(this review appears on nowrunning dot com)

   

Friday, July 14, 2017

Review: JAGGA JASOOS


Mad Fun! It's Different, Watch It!

3 Happy Singing Stars!

Mini Review:

A Hindi Musical film is not always Mughal-E-Azam or Hum Aapke Hain Koun... This adventure caper is like a Disney Musical, the chorus bursting into spontaneous song and rhyme and brilliantly choreographed. The chases are wonderfully planned as well, and even though you don't have thigh-slapping moments of fun, you cannot help but smile. Yes, the villains are too nasty for a caper film like this one, but that fact does not hurt this film too much.


Main Review:

A young orphan boy lives under the stairs like Harry Potter,
In a hospital setting, doesn't speak 'coz he can only stutter.

He saves a stranger from the train, who in turn adopts him,
Jagga's life is magical now, he learns to rhyme everything.

And just as mysteriously, the stranger turned dad disappears
Jagga's in boarding school now, his jasoosi is good with peers

He solves a murder at school, he helps journo Katrina Kaif
Find arms smugglers, she looks older alas, no longer waif.

An annual birthday tape from dad assures Jagga all's well,
He's singing songs about mistakes, the baddies are raising hell.

One birthday, tape does not arrive but a cop with an obit does,
Jagga goes to Calcutta gets embroiled with crooked fuzz.

Katrina reluctantly helps him they go to Marakkesh
But Anurag Basu thinks everything is Bongo Pradesh.

Stop mentioning Feluda, and TikTiki is lizard not train station
But Hindi rhyme in dialog is a pretty good innovation.

An accident prone heroine makes all the chases mad fun
Reviewers expect Barfi, but this film in hundred is one.

The non-rhyme parts are a tad tedious and drag along,
Katrina and bus scene is good, so are actors, mostly Bong.   

Ranbir Kapoor as Jagga with odd cowlick is very likeable
And the surprise villain is straight outta ancient scary fable.

The film would've been shot as if it's a cartoon
With treasure maps, even stealing shrinking the moon

The smuggling of arms, Netaji and other preachy stuff
The villainy is serious and the Bengali connect- yaar, enough!

People will hate it or love it, I belong to the latter bunch
I like caper films and this one's perfect like popcorn crunch.



(If you like words, my review in prose is on nowrunning dot com)



  





Friday, July 07, 2017

Review: MOM


Sridevi Shines In The 3rd Revenge For Rape Movie This Year.

2.5 stars

Mini Review:

Sridevi is a high school biology teacher and has a perfect life with a loving husband and two girls. Her illusion is shattered when her older daughter goes to a party and is raped. With the law unable to find the perpetrators guilty, Sridevi takes on the role of an avenging angel, and teaches each of the four rapists a lesson they will never forget. It’s a terribly long-drawn out film and even though horrendously cliched and predictable, Sridevi shines.

Main Review:

A strict biology teacher, Devaki (played beautifully by Sridevi) confiscates a cell phone from a male student. He has just sent a sex video to a female student in the same class. She throws the boy’s phone out of the window (what?! No teacher will ever do that!) and keeps the girl student’s phone.

We see her at home serving dinner. Oho! The girl student from class is her older daughter. There’s some strange thing going on because she does not call Sridevi, ‘Mom’ but ‘Ma’am’. Aah, the stepmom angle. Sridevi’s husband (Adnan Siddiqui, very competent) assures Sridevi that he will fix everything between the mother and daughter when he comes back from his New York trip and they take their annual holiday.

The older daughter Arya (Sajal Ali, shows flashes of brilliance) is to go to a Valentine’s Day party at a farmhouse with her friends. Sridevi asks her to come back in good time. The kids go to the party where the same boy who sent Arya the sex clip on the phone tries to dance with her. Arya rebuffs him and his older cousin and decides to get home in a cab because her friend who has the car cannot be found anywhere and the girlfriend is very drunk. She gets kidnapped by the boys she has rebuffed and is raped and thrown into a ditch and left to die.

Sridevi is frantic when Arya does not come back home and the police assure her that they will try and find the missing daughter. A creepy man at the police station says he can help. But Sridevi says no. He gives his card to the mom. When Arya is found by a morning walker Sridevi goes to the hospital…

Arya is alive, but barely. A case is registered on her complaint but as you saw in Kaabil and Maatr (both released earlier this year) the law is unable to bring the perpetrators to justice and they go scott free. And as it happens in the two earlier movies, the onus falls upon the protagonist (Sridevi in this film) to extract revenge. In Kaabil, Hrithik Roshan (he’s blind, hence his revenge is empowering too) knows the rapists and plots each death one after another. In Maatr, Raveena Tandon is also raped by the bunch along with her daughter and against all odds, she plots and carries out the death of all the rapists. In this movie, revenge is given divine blessing by dialog like ‘God made mothers because he could be everywhere at the same time’. But Sridevi is helped on her revenge journey by the creepy detective and the police officer assigned to Arya’s case. The creepy detective is played by none other than the ‘lemme-ham-it because balding head with long hair isn’t ‘cool’ enough’ Nawazuddin Siddiqui.

The baddies are tackled one by one, and the ever-suspicious cop played by Akshaye Khanna seems to arrives too late to every crime scene. It takes the awful hamming of ‘I’m a villain, watch me be villainous’ Abhimanyu Singh and his very cliched anger against Sridevi for Arya to realise that Sridevi is really the mother of all mothers.

The director probably does not need to tell Sridevi how to be in the scene. She is simply stupendous. Her backing off from a screaming Arya and going to the balcony to prevent herself from breaking down is a scene that is masterclass in acting. Sridevi’s helplessness at discovering that her relationship with her daughter is now irretrievable is goosebump inducing. But everything else in the film seems to be so long drawn and tiresome, that you wish she could kill them a la Uma Thurman in Kill Bill.

A R Rahman’s music is not phenomenal and you begin to question why in songs does the word ‘doooor’ (far, in English) is always sung out long drawn… The cinematography is good (especially in Kufri, shown in the last segment of the film). It seems tedious simply because Bollywood seems to think women (and blind man) wake up to revenge only of their wives or daughters (or themselves) are raped. That’s a sad way to make woman-centric films.


P.S. Is Nawazuddin Siddiqui overdoing the humor? Is his 'wanting to get laughs' overshadowing the role he's playing? The legendary Pran apparently wanted song sequences after Zanjeer... Is Nawazuddin going the same route? I wonder...



(This review sans the postscript appears on nowrunning dot com)



Review: GUEST IN LONDON


Trash Smells Better Than This Farty Production

Zero stars

Mini Review:

Kartik Aryan works for a software firm in London and is attempting to get married for citizenship when his uncle and aunt show up to stay. Looks like they’re never leaving. Oddly, he doesn’t remember having met them, ever. But culture demands, he be respectful. It’s supposed to be comedy, but with his uncle farting all the time, you don’t really care for anything that happens to any character. It’s plain awful.

Main Review:

So when people from India show up at your office, claiming to be an aunt and an uncle, what does a Punjabi lad do? Takes them home, of course. Doesn’t realise that he is living with a girl who is to marry him so he can get British citizenship. The uncle and aunt are played by Paresh Rawal and Tanvi Azmi and they call the Kartik Aryan (Pyar ka Punchnama fame) ‘kakka’ (‘son’ in Punjabi) with every sentence that you don’t really know (or care) what his screen name is. And Paresh Rawal farts. Every two minutes in the film.

And the ‘overstaying guests’ thing is so badly done, and the jokes about Pakistan and Kashmir and African American babies are so offensive you wonder who thought they were funny. And between that are the farts. There is a funeral song which is a sung to the tune of ‘Baby Doll Main Sone Di’, and a ghazal about farts.

And we don’t talk about how tacky the backdrops created by a special effects team are. Such a shame that Paresh Rawal hams it to the gills. And the connect to the events on 9/11 is in really poor taste. The supposed ‘emotional connect’ fails because the explanation given is: (we tried to get rid of you - the uninvited guests - because ‘We are like fake dog lovers. We say Tommy come, when we want and Tommy go when we don’t want the dog. We didn’t know how to treat you.’

Yes, that’s an actual dialog from the film. If you threw stones at this rabid dog of a film, no one would arrest you.


P.S. The director has made Atithi Tum Kab Jaaoge. Plan was to watch the film after watching Guest In London. But the films turned out to be so bad, I am skipping the Atithi film. The only time I laughed was when Paresh Rawal says Kartik Aaryan looks exactly like Ajay Devgn.



(this review sans the postscript appears on nowrunning dot com)



Review: SPIDERMAN THE HOMECOMING


Rather Fun. Thankfully Nothing Like Earlier Films


2.5 Happy Stars


Mini Review:


Spiderman is so much cooler, and sharper and smarter in this version than five earlier films. He’s not whiny, not mean, and he does not want to make you want to slap him because he’s unsure about who he is. Of course adding the Avengers to the formula makes the film that much sassier. Watch it!


Main Review:


First, a confession. I have hated the Spiderman because he’s a schoolboy who is good at nothing, and is plain rude to his uncle and aunt and MJ. Then Tobey Maguire’s  bulbous eyed awe and Andrew Garfield perpetually sullen expressions did not help.


So went into the theatre with trepidation. I had liked Spiderman showing up in Captain America Civil War. Hopefully this Spiderman would have the same sass.


And he does! Tom Holland who appeared as Spiderman in Captain America Civil War continues to be Peter Parker in this film. He’s under Tony Stark’s wing, his intelligent suit created by Avengers technology, but he’s still not officially an Avenger.


Thankfully, he’s not whiny about it. He’s rebelling and stepping out every night. Mostly stumbling into situations which make you laugh. No, seriously. It is such a refreshing change to see a young lad who has powers that should give him his the superhero status he desperately wants, but is not accepted as one of the big guys for some reason.


The movie picks up where the last Avengers movie left off. With New York destroyed by Loki’s hoards. Ultron’s avatars, someone has to salvage. Enter Michael Keaton. YES! The one and only! He adds the much needed spice to the Spiderman franchise with his vicious vulture wings. Spidey’s school too is more interesting than MJ tripping in the canteen or school kids bullying someone in the halls. Peter Parker is part of the school mind decathlon team. But his mind is not on anything. He’s waiting for that all important phone call from Ironman.


Jon Favreau as Happy is the connect between Ironman and Spiderman, and Marisa Tomei is Aunt May, and you wish there was more of them both…


The pace of the film is quite fast and furious. The story seems stretched in the middle, but then as all superhero films do, the end is swift and wonderful. All in all, a fun watch


PS: It's a Marvel franchise. Please wait for extra scenes after the film ends. Yes. Plural. 'Scenes'.