Friday, July 17, 2015

Movie Review: Bajrangi Bhaijaan - It's an Eid Treat Indeed for Both Salman Fans and Non-Fans

Disclaimer: The reviewer is a crazy Salman fan. Though, all attempts have been made to ensure that the review is unbiased, you might still want to take it with a pinch of salt.

Done with the disclaimer! Now comes the review of the much awaited movie of the year – Bajrangi Bhaijan (wistle!). It’s a movie that will make you laugh, make you cry, make you whistle and make you clap too…what else do you need?

Good music? Yes! the movie has that too. A beautiful romantic song, Tu Chahiye by Atif Aslam (though, I believe that it could have been placed better in the movie…after a few more romantic scenes may be); a devotional gem, Bhar Do Jholi by Adnan Sami and a quirky one  Chicken-Kuk-Doo-Koo by Mohit Chauhan. The viewers who expect an item song in every Salman movie will be disappointed though.

Story? It’s not something out of the box, takes time to pick up and it predictable indeed; but it has been presented well nevertheless.  The innocence and warmth of the characters in the movie is very soothing. The touch of humor in emotions or vice versa makes the script very charming. But beyond all this what touched my heart is the way messages about compassion, humanity and against baseless religious prejudices have been delivered subtly all through the movie.

Acting? I would not say that this is Salman’s best performance ever; because nothing beats Tere Naam. But the acting is heartwarming for sure. Those scenes where Salman is teary-eyed are my favorite from the movie. Kareena and Nawazuddin’s acting skills could have been used better…but then this was a Salman movie after all. Needless to say that the little girl Harshali’s acting was adorable.

Now let me come to the aesthetics – given that during its making, the movie was in news for being shot in Kashmir, I was hoping to see Kashmir’s landscape shown elaborately in the movie but that was not the case – disappointing! Or well, maybe I was so awestruck by Salman’s Black Pathani and Black Pheran look that I missed noticing Kashmir. Let me get a bit filmier as I talk about Salman’s drool worthy looks – twisting K3G’s dialogue for the same:

“Pathani Kurta Aur Salwaar
Tab Lage Mard Warna Lage Bekaar! "

 What say girls? :-P

Minus the irritating dance moves by Salman in the Selfie Song, the movie is a good one time watch. I would also add the “child-friendly” tag to the movie – no vulgarity, minimal violence and a few good lessons in compassion for the kids.

Final Verdict: 3.5/5 (from the unbiased reviewer), 5/5 (from the Salman fan)

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Movie Review: Hamari Adhuri Kahani - It's Adhuri Indeed

Mohit Suri's Humari Adhuri Kahani is the story of Vasudha (Vidhya Balan) who is leading the life of single mother since her husband Hari (Rajkumar Rao) went missing 5 years ago. Though, even when he was around, Vashudha wasn't living a life of love. All in all, she was struggling with her loveless past and lifeless present when ace hotelier Aarav (Emraan Hashmi) enters her life. They eventually for in love and just when they are set to lead a life together, Hari re-enters Vasudha's life, leaving her in a flux. The story progresses in such a way that in spite of their love for each other Vasudha and Aarav never really get to spend their life together. Their love story remains incomplete, thus the title "Hamari Adhuri Kahani" But trust me there are enough reasons beyond the incomplete love story that ensure that the movie stays incomplete. 

The movie can be divided into two broad themes - an abusive marriage and a soulful love story. However, none of the themes have been crafted well. While the story of Vasudha and Hari's abusive marriage lacked the intensity to make the audience truly pity Vasudha; the soulful love story of Aarav and Vasudha was over-dramatic to say the least. 

I must say that the movie has a few deep dialogues for sure, however, they appear to have been forced into the plot as opposed to being seamlessly integrated into the story line - my honest reaction to the way they were placed in the movie was "WTF?"

Talking about Aarav's love for Vasudha in the movie, to me it appeared more of an attempt to re-create the missing elements of his childhood as opposed to being a genuine liking for Vasudha. What he thought was love was actually his subconscious attempt to be to Vasudha what Dayal was to his mother. It appears that he was trying to complete his mother's "adhuri kahani" than his own.

Coming to the rating, I give this movie 1.5 stars, only because it was tolerable enough for me to watch it till the end.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Movie Review: Dil Dharakne Do - Its a Feel Good Movie

Zoya Akhtar's Dil Dharakne Do is a movie truly made for the family audience. It’s one of those movies where you have an enjoyable experience for the duration of the movie and then just forget about it. It’s a light family drama with some strong messages that are delivered in a way that they don't feel as heavy.

Because every family is dysfunctional in some way or the other, the Mehra family's story is one that most people will be able to relate to, in some way or the other.

The movie gets 3 stars from me. Here is why:
  • The first star is for the chemistry between Ranveer Singh and Priyanka Chopra. It is true that siblings are always the best confidants one can have. It is also true that no one understands you better than them; not only because you have grown up together but also because you share the same mad family. The sibling camaraderie depicted in the movie won my heart. It made me smile all through. This star is a shared one both for the script writer and the actors.
  • The second star is for the role that Farhan Akhtar plays in the movie. I am not talking about his on-screen role though. His most impressive contribution to the movie were the dialogues he wrote. Without those dialogues, the movie would have been flavorless to say the least.
  • The third star is for the direction and scriptwriting that ensures that the family remains the central theme and is not diluted by the romances in the movie. Had romance been given any more weightage, the movie's plot would have been a complete mess.

Well, I will not talk at length about the acting. Not because there was nothing impressive about it, but because when the star-cast includes seasoned actors like Anil Kapoor & Shefali Shah, you take good acting for granted. 

The music by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy was a bit disappointing though. It is definitely not the music that will last beyond the marketing push for the movie.
All in all, the movie is a good one time watch. If you do not go in with high expectations you will enjoy the movie.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Movie Review: Tanu Weds Manu Returns – Spark Toh Hai!

Quite a few errors of logic, overacting here and there, an obvious ending but still Tanu Weds Manu Returns has the spark that qualifies it as a good entertainer. The audience laughed in the first half (I didn’t though) and laughed louder in the second half (well, I laughed too). This at least means that the price of the ticket has been taken care of. The movie brings out the right emotions, in adequate quantity at the right time…Well, this means that the price of popcorns and cold drinks has also been taken care of. In short, the movie is a total “paisa vasool”.

Apart from the few errors of logic, which I am okay forgiving; there is this one flaw that I could not ignore. The flaw is, Pappi’s character desperately trying to make the audience laugh at every scene. The attempt to make every dialogue delivery by Deepak Dobriyal a punch line is that only thing that irritates the movie critique in me.

A heart touching song expressing the emotions of pain, betrayal, bereavement and anger could have been a bonus. Not only would that have enhanced the movie, it would have also ensured that we remember the movie every now and then. After all, movies fade but the music stays.

This said, all in all, the movie is definitely a good watch. This one gets a 3/5 from me.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Movie Review: Bombay Velvet – You Will Not Regret Missing This One

The only thing that made me go and watch Anurag Kashyap’s Bombay Velvet is the curiosity to see Karan Johar acting. Now that I have watched the movie, I still maintain that the only thing that anybody should watch this movie for is to see Karan acting – he definitely acted well, at least way better than my expectations.

Ok! On a second thought, to say that there is nothing good about the movie apart from Karan’s acting would be being extremely critical. Let me just say that there are quite a few things in the movie that are really good – the cinematography, the sound effects, the background scores and the music; however these elements at best can only play the role of enhancers in a movie and cannot hold the movie together on their own.

Let me draw an analogy here.  Make-up can only enhance the beauty of a women and cannot define her as an individual. She can chose to wear very light make-up or no makeup at all and still create a lasting impression with her poise, her unadulterated beauty and her strength of character. Likewise a movie can survive with a bare minimum quality of cinematography, sound effects, back ground scores and music but without strong screenplay and acting and direction it will fall flat.
Bombay Velvet’s biggest short coming was its screenplay. The weakness of this single element brought down the charm of the movie even when the other core elements like direction and acting were good enough.

If there is anything from this movie that will remain with me for a long time is its music – with each piece that Amit Trivedi composes I become a bigger fan of him.  My favorite one from this movie is Naak Pe Gussa.

Bombay Velvet gets a 2/5 from me. It’s a movie you will not regret missing. If you are one of those who do not like movies where you have to stress your brain to understand the flow of the story, totally skip this one.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Movie Review: Mitti Na Pharol Jogiya - Do What The Movie Title Suggests (Pun Intended)

My decision to watch the movie Mitti Na Pharol Jogiya can be best described as a data analysis error. Are you wondering what has data analysis got to do with a movie? Let me explain...

When deciding whether I should watch a certain movie that I am not very sure about, I usually go by the Book My Show (BMC) ratings. If the cumulative ratings say that more than 70% of the viewers appreciated the movie, I go and watch it. In the case of Mitti Na Pharol Jogiya the BMS rating was a 93%. "Wow!" I thought to myself, "this must be an awesome movie!". The last Punjabi movie that I had watched was the classic Punjab 1984, so I guess the recency factor also influenced my decision. I was super convinced. So much so that I booked a 9:45 am show on a Sunday morning as no other show timings suited me well. Not only this, I did not even care that the multiplex was Movie Time - Raja Garden  ( for the information of the readers not familiar with Delhi, this multiplex is one of the worst in Delhi with the most unpalatable pop corns and nachos ever). All this for a movie that was not all all worth it. I somehow sat through the first half thinking that the "amazing" part of the movie is yet to come. But by the time it was interval, I could not hold my curiosity any more. I really wanted to know what was so wonderful about the movie that majority of the viewers appreciated it, when I thought it was shallow to say the least. To put an end to my curiosity I looked at the review section in detail, I found that only 4 people had reviewed the movie (I am guessing they must have been acquaintances of the director or actors and must have put up the reviews as a favor).  So now you know why I call the decision to watch this movie a data analysis error - the sample size was clearly too small to base a decision on.

Now coming back to the movie...Cinema-goers have seen such fantastic movies on the theme of partition in the past, that not writing a script convincing enough for a new movie on the same subject is like killing the movie in the womb. This is exactly what Avtar Singh did.
Though, a good direction would have anyhow not been able to bring the life back to the dead script; however, it is sad that no attempt to save the movie through good direction was made either.

Acting by and large was lifeless too. The actors who played the role of the family of the school-going boy who crossed the border and was later falsely convicted as a terrorist in Pakistan, were very unconvincing . It appeared that they had just left it to the imagination of the audience to fill up the missing emotions in their acting. Japtej Singh and Kartar Cheema acted well though ( Disclaimer: the drool-worthy looks of Kartar Cheema might have created an unconscious bias in my mind towards his acting :P). The only good thing beyond Kartar's looks in the movie was the song Dilbara.

Watch this movie that gets a 1/5 rating from me only if you are keen on seeing Kartar Cheema on the big screen looking Oh So Sexy! in Pathani Kurta Pajamas :-). Else give it a skip, even if you were to see it on TV later.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Movie Review: Piku - What a Fresh Movie!

Let me start this review by mentioning that I am not one of those who can laugh at the drop of a hat. With the kind of sense of humor that I have, it is EXTREMELY difficult to make me laugh out loud. I can sit through most of the so called "comedy" shows and movies wondering what's in them that is making the audience laugh or for that matter even giggle when I don't  even find them smile worthy.

But Piku made me laugh...not just once but N number of times during the 2 hours. So trust my review on this one - if a movie can make me laugh, it will definitely fit the definition of comedy of most of the people. If nothing else, one thing is sure that no one who goes for the movie will come out saying that the movie was a waste of money and time. It is an extremely safe bet that ways.

It requires a Soojit Sircar and a Juhi Chaturvedi to pick up a subject like constipation and create a 2 hour long super entertaining movie out of it. I bet that even the people who find "potty conversations" disgusting will enjoy the movie from the beginning till the last "poop" of the 70 year old digestive heath obsessed dad that Amitabh plays.

The readers who are passionate about cinema may ask, “Okay, good it made you laugh. But was it a robust story? Or was it a string of comic scenes that the story writer put together and then desperately tried to make a story out of those?" To this my answer would be that the comedy is surely backed by a heart touching story line. In fact, it is a rare combination of emotions and humor blended really well. While you enjoy the humor, you will not be able to ignore the subtle messages around women empowerment, true love and duty towards aging parents that the movie delivers. I laughed throughout the movie but came out wondering if I would ever be able to be a Piku to my parents?

Actually, if you think through, you will realize that the movie it trying to deliver the same message that Baghban did in 2003; just that, Baghban used heavy drama as the route while Piku uses comedy.

Let me try bringing out the beauty of this movie through an analogy which the readers who take buying perfumes seriously will understand. Piku is a perfume with a fresh top note of humor that attracts and the base note of emotions that lingers for long even after the top note fades.

With the combo of Amitabh, Deepika and Irfan in the movie you cannot expect the acting to be any less than fantastic. However, for me the success of this movie lies more in the direction and story than in the acting. Why do I say so? It is because of the ability of the direction and story writing to:
  •  Pass on a serious social message through the genre of comedy
  • Show the audiences the style of humor that is neither slapstick nor satire. (Well, I am actually not able to precisely define the style of humor that Piku can be classified under. Any theater/literature enthusiasts reading this, please come to my rescue - I know what it’s not, but I don't know what it is :P)
So then what is my final rating for this movie you may ask? It’s a 5/5 for this one.  But then, I wouldn't say go and watch it now! The producers and distributors of this movie would want to kill me for this but I would rather recommend that you open this bottle of freshness on the day when you need it the most - on a day when your mood needs an uplift, spray this perfume and you will feel refreshed.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Movie Review: Margarita With A Straw - Beautiful! But Not for Everyone

Rating: 4/5

Margarita with a Straw is a beautiful movie indeed! BUT it is not for everyone...

It is for those who are not judgmental...for those who believe that life is a journey where you learn from your experiences - experiences that are sweet, bitter, sour and salty...for those who believe that its okay to make mistakes...for those who believe that self-exploration makes life richer and intellect stronger...for those who understand that emotions and thoughts can be complex - that not every action or reaction can be bucketed as black or white; that there are no rights and wrongs, there are just is for those who are receptive to differences in human nature and opinions  and  yet can empathize with others..

The movie will trigger the reflective mode in you, it will bring in a storm of thoughts, some related to the plot of the movie and the others totally unrelated - it is this ability of the movie that makes it so good.

If the movie makes you reflect on your own journey of life, even when your experiences have nothing to do with those depicted in the movie, I would say that you understood the movie well.

The movie is so wonderfully crafted that it coherently puts together a number of emotions and thoughts while doing justice to all of them.

The acting, direction and story are blended so well that Margarita with a Straw gives the perfect high.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Movie Recommendation:: Punjab 1984 - An Experience Beyond Words

There are these movies that you watch; and the first thing that you want to do after watching is to tell people about the experience that they were, the feelings they brought out and much more...But then you just can't think of the right adjectives that would aptly describe the same. Punjab 1984 is one such movie.

Today as I write this review, I really hope that my limited vocabulary does not cripple me as I try and communicate the beauty of the the movie that touched my heart and left me numb for a long time. Numb not only because of the sentiments of grief and hopelessness depicted in this movie but also because of the way that they were marvelously portrayed by the actors in the movie.

So before I proceed, let me add a disclaimer - no words whatsoever can describe the soul of the movie Punjab 1984. I write this review from the heart so excuse me for throwing aside the Critics Hat and not covering all the elements that go into the making of a movie. I will only talk about what left a lasting impression on me.

Let me start with the acting then...All the actors in this movie played their part wonderfully well; I will however, mention the ones that come to my mind as I close my eyes thinking about the movie. And those actors are...Kirron Kher and Pavan Malhotra.

The movie set in the background of the 1984 riots in Punjab and the anarchy that followed, is a story of the longing and misery of a mother whose son has been wrongly convicted as a terrorist.
And what a mother Kirron Kher has played!! She makes you feel the agony...You will actually feel the heaviness in your heart all through the movie as you experience those sentiments. We have seen Kirron as a mother in several Bollywood movies off late and loved her acting in all of those. But none of those roles bring out her true potential as an actor like Punjab 1984 does. Legendary to say the least. As I watched the movie, I pledged to watch all of Kirron Kher's upcoming movies only to salute the artist in her.

Now about Pavan Malhotra who played the cruel cop in the movie. He managed to truly highlight the importance of supporting roles in movies. The roles that can significantly impact the audiences' perception  and feelings about the characters and actors in lead roles. Had Pavan not given his best to the role of a cruel cop, Kirron's character in the movie would have taken a hit - the viewers would have not been able to sympathize as much with the mother she plays.

Not giving too many details about the story I would now urge anyone who understands Punjabi even a bit to watch this movie so as to experience what cinema without glamour means and to believe that acting and direction skills can create masterpieces without any other superficial support.

For those who don't understand Punjabi, it is a pity that language barrier might prevent you from experiencing to the fullest one of masterpieces of Indian Cinema. I am nevertheless sharing with you the link to the movie with English subtitles. Even though I am sure that literal translations would not do any justice to the hard work of the script writer, its better that than missing the experience completely.