Movies en Wed Nov 16 13:29:08 IST 2022 shaitaan-review-this-hyperviolent-supernatural-thriller-is-a-boring-affair <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p><i>Shaitaan </i>is a hostage thriller—slightly scary, slightly mysterious, and only slightly interesting. You take back memories of R. Madhavan who is at his raucous best with loud, tantrik make-up, and Ajay Devgn, once again playing the self-obsessed and unfaltering liberator who nobody wants to see beyond a point.</p> <p>At the centre of the plot is Ajay Devgn as Kabir Rishi, a father fighting for the life and honour of his daughter. Vanraj (Madhavan), the sadist antagonist with supernatural powers, captures Rishi's daughter Janhvi, played by Janki Bodiwala. There is so much violence in this film that you just want to shut your eyes and close your ears—yes, like how you did while watching Ranbir Kapoor's Animal; the only difference is the violence is louder in <i>Shaitaan</i>—after a while.</p> <p><i>Shaitaan </i>has loads and loads of scenes that make you wonder at the lack of originality on the part of the scriptwriters—they promote black magic, and backward, superstitious beliefs. The only person who is convincing enough is Jyotika who plays Janhvi's mother. Devgn, as the doting father will remind you of his role as Vijay Salgaonkar in <i>Drishyam</i>; in fact, there is hardly any difference between his character in this daddy-saving-daughter film and that in <i>Drishyam</i>. He is exactly the same. For that matter, <i>Shaitaan </i>is the third such film after Drishyam and Bholaa, where Ajay Devgn plays the role of a protective father who will go to any length to save his daughter.</p> <p>A remake of the Gujarati film <i>Vash</i>, director Vikas Bahl tries to pull off a supernatural occurrence by offering a frantic sensory experience with <i>Shaitaan</i>, but sadly, fails at it due to a poor script and a lackluster execution. The entire premise itself seems too flimsy to be real—a happy family of four finds itself up against a modern-day sorcerer and his black magic spells.</p> <p>After the debacle of his last, <i>Ganapath</i>, Bahl has now tried his hand at a genre he has never had a shot at before, that is, supernatural horror. The psychological twists in the script are too juvenile for us to be interested in. This 132-minute-long film is better missed.</p> <p><b>Movie: Shaitaan</b></p> <p><b>Directed by: Vikas Bahl</b></p> <p><b>Cast: Ajay Devgn, Madhavan, Janki Bodiwala, Jyothika</b></p> <p><b>Rating -1/5</b></p> Fri Mar 08 19:05:53 IST 2024 thankamani-review-this-dileep-starrer-suffers-from-predictability <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Films based on real-life incidents have more often than not appealed to the Malayali audience, be it <i>2018</i>, <i>Pada</i>, <i>Virus</i> or <i>Take Off</i>, in recent times. Keeping with the trend, director Ratheesh Raghunandan revisits a tragic and infamous incident from 1986, which left a black mark in Kerala's political history.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b><a href="">ALSO READ: The real story behind Dileep-starrer 'Thankamani'</a></b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><i>Thankamani</i> begins with the brutal murder of a top politician, Varadarajan (Kottayam Ramesh) – in fact, the brutality might remind one of the American thriller series <i>Saw</i>. The identity of the murderer is revealed soon, as Arpitha Nath IPS (Pranitha Subhash) investigates the case, and so is the motive.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>A flashback shows Abel Joshua Mathan (Dileep) returning to his village Thankamany in Idukki district on the 'Highlight' bus (originally, Elite), after three years in Abu Dhabi. An altercation between the bus operators and the college students sets the stage for the conflicts to follow.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Dileep and Manoj K. Jayan as the antagonist Mani Peter do justice to their roles. The supporting cast of Pranitha Subhash, Neeta Pillai and others, too, complement the lead characters well.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Music, too, plays an important role. The background score by William Francis and cinematography by Manoj Pillai deserve a special mention. While the music highlights the tension in each scene, the production design unit does a great job at reproducing the late 1980s.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><i>Thankamani</i> focuses on the tragic incident, sometimes at the cost of ignoring the fringe incidents that are related to it. It paints a distressing picture of a village that did not get justice. But it suffers from predictability and cliches, which spoil the experience.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>P.G. Viswambharan's 1987 Malayalam film <i>Itha Samayamayi</i>, too, was based on this incident. Both the films have done a commendable job to keep it as close to the truth as possible.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Film: Thankamani</b></p> <p><b>Director: Ratheesh Raghunandan</b></p> <p><b>Cast: Dileep, Neeta Pillai, Pranitha Subhash and others</b></p> <p><b>Rating: 2.5/5</b></p> Thu Mar 07 17:52:33 IST 2024 dune-part-two-review-behold-the-lawrence-of-arrakis <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>In 1962, British filmmaker David Lean directed an epic biography of a white man going to Arabia, joining desert tribesmen, going native to a great extent, and using his special knowledge and skills to help them win an epic war against the Ottomans—one that ended up fundamentally reshaping the world. The film, <i>Lawrence of Arabia</i>, was a big commercial success and won several Oscars. More importantly, in the years after its release, its technical and artistic achievements redefined the very notions about the scope and possibilities of cinema as an art form.<br> <br> With his second entry in the Dune saga, French-Canadian filmmaker Denis Villeneuve could well achieve something of the sort. A primer for those who are not clued-in about the buzz: Dune is also about a white man going to the desert (albeit in a hostile planet in a distant sci-fi future), joining hands with tribesmen there, going native to a great extent, and using his special skills to win a planetary war that reshapes, well, the universe. (There is a thesis to be written on why deserts become fertile fields for cinematic artistry.)<br> <br> In every conceivable way, Dune’s scale is bigger than <i>Lawrence of Arabia</i>. If Lean’s film was essentially a proudly old-fashioned cultural adventure story set in one part of a vast, exotic continent, Villeneuve’s is a dark and dense political allegory with a violent political conflict of galactic proportions at its centre.<br> <br> The book it is based on, Frank Herbert’s Dune, is considered a foundational classic of modern science fiction. Through the book, Herbert introduced readers to a world in the distant future, where the governing system is both futuristic and feudal. A clutch of noble houses hold entire planets as their fiefs, and they in turn are governed by a brutally calculating interstellar emperor. It is a civilisation that greatly values technical and military superiority, and the most coveted commodity is melange, or spice, a psychotropic drug that extends life and enhances cognitive abilities required for space travel.<br> <br> The first entry in Villeneuve’s Dune saga, released in 2021, served as an introduction to the meaty part of Herbert’s epic. It introduced the young Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet), whose noble family is sent by the emperor to rule Arrakis—the only planet with melange deposits and, therefore, highly coveted among the noble houses. In Arrakis, the Atreides family and its standing army fall victim to interplanetary palace intrigue and are killed off. Only Atreides and his mother, Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson), survive. They flee deep into the desert, where the indigenous Fremen tribesmen are preparing for a war. They want to take back the planet from the foreign intruders.<br> <br> The first film ended with Paul and Jessica meeting the Fremen and coming to know them better. The second entry wastes no time in picking up from where the first one left. Paul and Jessica join the Fremen, adopting the Fremen way of life as far as they could, adjusting themselves in the new order of things. The Fremen lead a drugged-out existence because the spice helps live and fight in an arid and hostile planet populated by strange creatures. They also consume another drug—hope in the form of religion. They believe that a messiah will come, give them redemption and make the planet green as it once was.<br> <br> A section of the Fremen fashions Paul as a messiah candidate. Initially hesitant, Paul begins consuming the spice in life-changing proportions. The decisions he make alters not just his psyche and the nature of the war, but the Fremen way of life as well. He becomes, in many ways, the Lawrence of Arrakis.<br> <br> To be sure, this one is not really designed as a second film in a traditional movie series—the film cannot stand on its own, as <i>The Dark Knight</i> does in Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy or, to a point, <i>The Matrix Reloaded</i> does in the Watchowski sibling’s quartet. <i>Dune: Part Two</i> works more like your favourite Breaking Bad episode—part of a larger whole but a work of art in its own right, meant to be watched and re-watched, appreciated and re-appreciated, long after you are done with the first binge.<br> <br> This is a significant creative decision because films in general have been losing significance as a medium of art. “That’s not cinema,” Martin Scorsese complained of special effects-driven Marvel superhero films a few years ago. “The closest I can think of them, as well-made as they are, with actors doing the best they can under the circumstances, is theme parks.” Cinema, Scorsese insisted, was about revelation—“aesthetic, emotional and spiritual revelation”.<br> <br> Happily, for him and us, the past few months have seen bold re-assertions of what cinema as a medium can do. There was Scorsese’s own <i>Killers of The Flower Moon</i>, a thematically ambitious, 3.5-hour study of sociopathy in America; Nolan’s <i>Oppenheimer</i>, a visually and narratively engaging biography of the America’s most mystifying scientist; and Greta Gerwig’s <i>Barbie</i>, which flips the Marvel formula to convey a smart and subversive commentary on feminism and patriarchy.<br> <br> But none of these films, perhaps, comes close to <i>Dune: Part Two</i> in giving new meanings to Scorsese’s definition of cinema as an aesthetic, emotional and spiritual revelation. Villeneuve refrains from fully exploiting the plot’s sci-fi sensibilities—he could well have given it a commercially viable, theme park-like feel—and instead infuses it with a subtle mix of adventure, mystery, dread and even humour. Also, within the film, Paul’s journey is shown as a revelation to himself. From being a “young pup”, as one teacher describes him, Paul goes on to become competent in the ways of the desert, and capable and cruel in ways he could not have imagined. Jessica’s own life takes turns that compel her to face up to who she really is, and accept the truth and act accordingly. Even the one principal character who has shortest character arc in the film—Chani, the Fremen warrior who becomes the love of Paul’s life (Zendaya, in the film’s standout performance)—ends up in an identity crisis.<br> <br> Villeneuve stuffs the tale with religious, spiritual and political underpinnings—Paul becomes not just the leader of the Fremen, but their messiah as well; he eats the spice, but the spice also eats him; and he comes to learn a secret about his family that shakes not just his convictions, but also the foundations of the empire. It is a film about revelations in more ways than one.<br> <br> Villeneuve’s narrative achievements are rivalled by the craft of his crew. The cinematography, by Greig Fraser (<i>Zero Dark Thirty, The Batman</i>), is a testament to why big screens are not luxury, but a necessity. His use of colour and light is masterly—if Arrakis is shown in hues that are bright and pallid as occasions demand, the world of the Harkonnens (the house that massacred the Atreides family) are shot in nearly monochrome. Fraser also gives politically loaded visuals—a huge sporting event in the Harkonnen world invites associations to the 1936 Berlin Olympics.<br> <br> Hans Zimmer, whose work in the previous film won him the Oscar for best original score, is in his elements. Happily, his propensity for loudness has somewhat been tamed, and his striking use of electronica with natural and more traditional sounds gives an audible authenticity to the on-screen clash between the materialistic empire and the spiritual Fremen. This is arguably his best work since Interstellar, and it is complemented by the fluid work of Joe Walker (<i>Sicario, Arrival</i>) at the editing table.<br> <br> There are niggles, though. Chalamet, excellent as he is in the central role, comes a bit short in bringing the gravitas that the film’s final act calls for. And Villeneuve has not been entirely successful in avoiding, or papering over, the kooky parts of Herbert’s novel.<br> <br> But these are trivial things. With <i>Dune: Part Two</i>, the project of condensing the sprawling Dune mythology (spread across 26 books and several stories) into a wieldy and coherent series of films continues in spectacular fashion. It is a project that many legendary directors—from Alejandro Jodorowsky to David Lynch—were unsuccessful in completing. That Villeneuve has reached it thus far, and in such fashion, makes this a cinematic breakthrough.<br> <br> </p> <p><b>Movie: Dune: Part Two</b></p> <p><b>Directed by: Denis Villeneuve</b></p> <p><b>Starring: Timothée Chalamet, Zendaya, Rebecca Ferguson, Josh Brolin, Austin Butler, Florence Pugh, Dave Bautista, Christopher Walken</b></p> <p><b>Rating: 5/5</b></p> Fri Mar 01 23:24:28 IST 2024 laapataa-ladies-review-kiran-rao-marks-return-with-beautifully-crafted-social-commentary <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Kiran Rao <a href="" target="_blank">told THE WEEK</a> in February that she rejected Aamir Khan for a role in Laapataa Ladies. Having seen Ravi Kishan play the corrupt cop in the movie, it is now difficult to imagine anyone else in his shoes, even Aamir Khan.&nbsp;<br> </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The humour relies on the dialect and the Bhojpuri touch is right up Kishan's alley. This contributed to the supporting character becoming a memorable part of the movie, he was in absolute sync with the flavours of Laapataa Ladies.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The rest of the cast has also done a stellar job. The two lead ladies, Nitanshi Goel and Pratibha Ranta, justified their roles. It was a wise choice to cast newcomers to these roles as familiarity could have killed the freshness of the portrayals. Sparsh Shrivastava, as the man who lost his wife, is subtly convincing and emotive when needed. In fact, every actor leaves a mark.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The music, cinematography and editing make sure that the movie remains engaging throughout. But the MVP in the category, unarguably, is the dialogues. There are several moments in the film that make you laugh out loud. More importantly, the dialogues enable Laapataa Ladies to say its piece without being preachy and cleverly conceal jibes behind humour.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The only minor issue with the movie was that some of the characters felt slightly formulaic. However, the director has managed to balance the predictability of these familiar sorts of characters by allotting a fresh kind of interaction to each of them. There is beautifully layered social commentary in their conversations.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Kiran Rao's comeback movie, which ended a 13-year break, is a delight to watch. And we can't forget the writers Biplab Goswami, Divyanidhi Sharma and Sneha Desai, who deserve as much credit as their director.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Film:</b> Laapataa Ladies</p> <p><b>Director:</b> Kiran Rao&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Cast: </b>Nitanshi Goel, Pratibha Ranta, Sparsh Shrivastava, Bhaskar Jha, Geeta Agarwal, Chhaya Kadam, Ravi Kishan</p> <p><b>Rating:</b> 4/5</p> Fri Mar 01 22:18:11 IST 2024 article-370-review-a-well-made-paean-to-the-ruling-party <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>As far as disclaimers go, the makers of <i>Article 370</i> have done a thorough job. So thorough that anyone wishing to call the movie partisan or equivalent to a puff piece would have to think twice.&nbsp;<br> </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>However, the opening sequence is not so thorough. The voice of Ajay Devgn spits out the most nauseatingly oversimplified version of history that the makers could think of.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>But, at the end of the day, it is a movie. So, let us talk about that.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The most notable feature of <i>Article 370</i> is an additional layer of hate that has been written into Yami Gautam Dhar's leading character, intelligence operative Zooni Haksar. This helps to ensure that Haksar's flaws and emotional approach do not reflect badly on actual Indian operatives.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>For her part, Yami, who has proven herself to be a competent actor in the limited opportunities that she has got so far in her career, does a convincing job. But, there is one scene in particular in which she was perhaps too emotive.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The supporting cast was good. Priyamani does justice to her role as a PMO employee. Arun Govil and Kiran Karmakar, who played the prime minister and home minister respectively, deserve credit. The two roles that could have served the minimal purpose of resembling real-life Indian leaders got elevated due to the duo's good acting.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The rest of the cast is a mix of slightly engaging personas and caricatures of overused cliches.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The movie scores on technical aspects like sound and cinematography. And the narrative is nuanced enough to invoke the defence of artistic licence against anyone who is inclined to criticise it for propaganda.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>If it was not inspired by true events but a work of fiction, director Aditya Suhas Jambhale would have deserved credit for making a decent movie.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>But, the story being what it was, more effort was needed to ensure that it became palatable to a broader spectrum of Indians. This includes patriots who maintain that they do not have to fall in line with the beliefs of the majority, no matter how strong they are.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>For example, the characters who create problems for the Indian government in the movie could have been given more depth to balance out the narrative. This could have shown that innate humanness is the only thing that truly unites us. But they do not require any depth if the intention is only to use them as pawns to lionise the protagonists.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The second half was surprisingly engaging. But, that may just be the most dangerous thing about <i>Article 370</i>. Then again, it is just a movie. And one that was made fairly smartly.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Film: </b>Article 370</p> <p><b>Director: </b>Aditya Jambhale</p> <p><b>Cast:</b> Yami Gautam, Priyamani, Kiran Karmarkar</p> <p><b>Rating:</b> 3/5</p> Sat Feb 24 09:47:21 IST 2024 madame-web-review-dakota-fannings-marvel-entry-gets-tangled-in-own-web <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Sometimes, it's best for some storylines to be left alone. <i>Madame Web</i>'s is one like that. Sony studios, it seems, is trying hard to get more from the fringe characters around Spiderman. They are trying to catapult a hero from the margins of the Marvel universe à la Venom and Morbius.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The movie, which stars Dakota Johnson in the lead role, and Sydney Sweeney, Isabela Merced and Celeste O'Connor, is slower than most origin stories. Even as the first half ends, Johnson hasn't manifested any powers or moves that could wow the audience. Johnson's lack of emoting doesn't help much either. The other three actors seem more promising when it comes to emoting. The villain, portrayed by Tahar Rahim, too, lacked the pizzazz Marvel fans are used to.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The movie begins with Cassie (Johnson), a paramedic discovering that she has the ability to see the future. It then moves on to how her fate might be connected to the three teens, Julia, Anya and Mattie—played by Sweeney, Merced and O'Connor respectively. Despite a mystery 'ceiling guy', the plot doesn't thicken, nor does it keep you hooked.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The movie certainly won't meet the expectations of Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) fans, who are used to exemplary fight scenes and stunning reveals. Perhaps, a non-linear narration could have worked better for the movie; it could have kept the audience guessing. The direction by S.J. Clarkson doesn't live up to the expectations, considering she's directed series like <i>Jessica Jones</i>, <i>Marvel's The Defenders</i> and the Emmy-winning <i>Succession</i>.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The camera work by Mauro Fiore wasn't shoddy, but there seemed to be no need for the upside down and titled shots, especially not since Johnson wasn't swinging tower-to-tower like Peter Parker. And even while the narration seemed slow, it seemed as if the makers tried to squeeze in a lot of events in the film introducing Madame Web—Johnson's trip to Peru, for instance.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>With a mix of folklore (Las Aranas or mythical spider people) and urban heroes, and a villain that fits at least one trope, the movie could have been amazing. However, with pre-dated Spiderman outfits and a 30-something chaperoning three teens across town, it became a version of 'what if Disney made a Marvel movie'.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>There's not much humour in the film either.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The costume department, however, deserves a pat on its back, for exacting early 2000s fashion like racer backs, cropped sweatshirts and ripped jeans.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The film can be avoided though; it was heavily disappointing for the MCU fan in me.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Film: Madame Web</b></p> <p><b>Director: S.J. Clarkson</b></p> <p><b>Cast: Dakota Johnson, Sydney Sweeney, Isabela Merced, Celeste O'Connor and others</b></p> <p><b>Rating: 2/5</b></p> Sat Feb 17 12:12:30 IST 2024 mammootty-starrer-bramayugam-is-one-hell-of-a-movie <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>In Jean-Paul Sartre’s 1944 play 'No Exit' (original French title, Huis Clos), one would see three demanded souls reaching hell. They expect fire and torture devices, however, instead, they would find themselves locked in a plain room from which they cannot just leave. In Rahul Sadasivan’s Mammootty-starrer <i>Bramayugam </i>also, one would find three damned souls stuck up in an old <i>mana</i> (house of aristocratic Namboodiri Brahmins). Sartre in &quot;No Exit&quot; delves into the philosophical point of view that &quot;Hell is other people,&quot;. Presented as a period horror drama, this black and white film also presents a comparable viewpoint, where each character arrives at a juncture where they realize that hell is other people exerting power over them.<br> </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The film begins with a scene depicting two men who have lost their way in the forest, seeking shelter for the night. However, one of them inadvertently falls into the enchanting snare of a<i> yakshi</i>, who lures him to his death. The second one, Thevan (Arjun Ashokan), realises that it is a yakshi and runs, and he enters the <i>mana</i>. At this very moment, this writer too, sensed getting lured into the “world of madness” created by Rahul Sadasivan, which fortunately gave “one hell of an experience”, literally!</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Inside the old mana, which is in a dilapidated state, Thevan encounters Koduman Potti (Mammotty)—an old man—and his helper (Siddharth Bharatan). From there the film follows the perspective of Thevan, who would soon find the dark secrets about Potti and his helper. Mammootty delivers an outstanding performance, embodying an exceptionally cunning and eerie evil character. <i>Bramayugam</i> stands as yet another testament to the veteran actor's meticulousness and discernment in choosing scripts. The film serves as a testament to the extent of <i>parakaya pravesha </i>that the method actor can achieve when presented with a challenging character. Mammootty portrays Potti with a diverse array of mannerisms and distinctive body language that exudes both authority and charm.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Bharatan’s character is a stone-faced one, which hides secrets from both Thevan and Potti. And, the actor-director does justice to his character. Meanwhile, Ashokan gets a chance to deliver a full range of expressions from hope to ultimate horror. Amalda Liz portrays the Yakshi character; despite having no dialogue and minimal screen time, Sadasivan ensures that Liz's portrayal leaves a significant impact on the audience.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>When viewing<i> Bramayugam</i>, it's clear that Sadasivan's decision to present the film in black and white goes beyond its genre as a period drama. It is within the interplay of light and shadows, accompanied by the haunting music, that the filmmaker conceals the horrors. There is a clever use of graphical storytelling while the narrative takes a dip into a flashback. Sadasivan, a filmmaker who has already demonstrated his proficiency in the horror genre with his 2022 film <i>Bhoothakalam,</i> finds himself bolstered by an even more robust script in <i>Bramayugam</i>.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Renowned writer T.D. Ramakrishnan, celebrated for his novels such as 'Alpha', 'Francis Itty Kora', and 'Sugandhi Enna Andal Devanayaki'—where he deftly intertwines history, anthropology, science, and myths—serves as the co-writer of Bramayugam. Ramakrishnan's talent for seamlessly blending fantastical realms with the mundane is evident in Bramayugam as well. Moreover, the dialogues he crafted for this film serve as an exemplary model for aspiring writers of period dramas.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Shehnad Jalal—who was the cinematographer for <i>Bhootakalam</i>—did the role of Director of Photography (DOP) for <i>Bramayugam</i>. Jalal's visuals are mesmerizing and seamlessly complement the narrative and world crafted by Sadasivan. Christo Xavier's scoring and music perfectly complement the film's tone and treatment. There's a sense of minimalism evident in the arrangement of the six songs within the narrative. The art team of Bramayugam also deserves praise for their creation of a haunting and decrepit mansion, which serves as a significant character in the story.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><i>Bramayugam</i> has a major reliance on visual storytelling, but its memorability isn't derived from visual gimmicks or jump scares. Instead, it's the intricate world-building orchestrated by Sadasivan, with significant support from Ramakrishnan, within a confined yet evocative setting, that truly captivated this reviewer. Once more, the film underscores the timeless adage that content is&nbsp; king!</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Film:</b> Bramayugam</p> <p><b>Director:</b>&nbsp;Rahul Sadasivan</p> <p><b>Cast: </b>Mammootty, Arjun Ashokan, Siddharth Bharatan<br> <br> <b style="font-size: 0.8125rem;">Rating:</b> 4/5</p> Fri Feb 16 11:15:45 IST 2024 bhakshak-review-this-bhumi-pednekar-starrer-has-its-heart-in-right-place-but-fails-in-execution <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Against the backdrop of a seedy small town, Bhakshak sets out to explore two questions: how long can one remain silent in the face of injustice, and what does it mean to be a journalist?</p> <p>Profound as they may be, these are not new questions. And despite the many ways in which they have been explored—the most marked perhaps being the 1983 film Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron—a satisfactory answer is yet to be found.</p> <p><i>Bhakshak</i>, directed by Pulkit and starring Bhumi Pednekar, is not the answer.</p> <p>Pednekar plays a struggling television journalist who gets her big story one night from a source. She is skeptical at first, but her trusted camera person, Bhaskar Sinha (a delightful Kumud Mishra), snoops around to pry out enough flesh from what is just another government audit report. The stakes in this one are higher, for it takes a look a shelter home for underage girls—the ones who have no one looking out for them, as the viewer is told repeatedly. From there to getting some semblance of justice is the journey of Pednekar’s character, Vaishali Singh.</p> <p>Despite the promising premise, Pednekar is predictable in <i>Bhakshak</i>. There is a mellowness to her performance at most places till she rouses a key witness into action. It is a mellowness that does little to distract you from her repeated and inconsistent mispronunciation of one key word in the narrative. Once you have heard it, you cannot unhear it. In a language where the livelier nuances have been picked up, this is jarring.</p> <p>The movie catches many strains—wry jokes centred around the Internet, an overbearing patriarchy and a conditioned matriarchy, and individual appetite for the misery of others—but most of it is just tokenism. After a while, the labour begins to show. The film feels heavy, and not just as a metaphor.</p> <p>The camera holds the dust of a small-town environment well, and a few shots take you to the figurative asking of that repeated question of how much we should care, if at all. At the end of this three-hour-plus movie, when a final tease to the fourth wall has been made, we are honestly beyond caring.</p> <p><i>Bhakshak</i> is a film in need of better storytelling. Just having a heart in the right place does not matter.</p> Fri Feb 09 23:03:30 IST 2024 lal-salaam-review-aishwarya-attempts-to-sell-old-wine-in-old-bottle-cast-rajinikanth-vishnu-vishal-vikranth <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Cricket has been the most celebrated sport in India. The game resonates with the sentiments of a majority crowd in the country. Thus, it is no wonder that films which combines cricket with emotions always strike a chord with the audience.<br> </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In <i>Lal Salaam</i>, communal unrest is coasting in a village for many years.&nbsp; A cricket match played by two teams - two communities rather- takes a violent turn due to a set of events fuelled by hate and hunger for pride.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The violent clash affects the life of the two team captains Thirunavukkarasu aka Thiru (played by Vishnu Vishal) and Samsudheen (played by Vikranth). While Thiru runs for his life, Samsu, son of Moidheen Bhai (played by Rajinikanth) gets engulfed by hatred. How the clash is incited between the two communities and what happens to the two cricketers is the story of <i>Lal Salaam</i>.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The film suddenly moves from the village in Tamil Nadu to Bombay, comes back to the village only to again to Bombay, saying there is a communal clash. No wonder communal clash happens just in Bombay in Tamil films.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><i>Lal Salaam</i> may be Aishwarya’s comeback film. But she still seems to be a novice. Even her father Rajinikanth’s cameo as Moideen Bhai can't add strength to the long, boring plot.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Threads on communal disharmony and religious sentiments have been handled well by directors like Mani Ratnam in the past. While Aishwarya, with a cricket match and shallow characters, makes the audience sit for 152 minutes bored. As you walk out after watching <i>Lal Salaam</i>, there is no strong emotive message that you can carry but only relief that the long film has come to an end.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The plot is too long with too many flashbacks and a convoluted screenplay. The film has too many characters portrayed badly and made to cry. There are a few women of course, but no heroine. The riot after the match is central to the story, but it takes too long to know what actually happened. By then, you really get tired like the hero, who goes back thinking how everything unfolded.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Though the director tries to tell the importance of communal harmony, the screenplay is too obvious thanks to the countless films we got over the years lecturing communal harmony and secularism. Rajinikanth himself had spoken in length about communal harmony and unity in many of his films.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The director leaves off many plots and the characters fail to emote. It doesn’t say what happens to Thiru’s love.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>While Aishwarya has tried her best to combine cricket and religion, honour and dignity makes the film more complicated. Probably if Aishwarya wants to make yet another film based on cricket, she could go back to watch Aamir Khan’s <i>Lagaan </i>which weaves cricket with various themes like determination, unity and triumph.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Film:</b> Lal Salaam</p> <p><b>Stars:</b> 2/5</p> <p><b>Cast: </b>Rajinikanth, Vishnu Vishal, Vikranth and others<br> </p> <p><b>Director:</b> Aishwarya Rajinikanth<br> </p> <p><b>Music: </b>AR Rahman<br> </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Fri Feb 09 20:17:05 IST 2024 teri-baaton-mein-aisa-uljha-jiya-review-watch-it-for-kriti-sanon <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>&quot;When it comes to choosing your partner, who would you prefer - an imperfect human or a programmed robot?&quot;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>When Shahid Kapoor asks Janhvi Kapoor in <i>Teri Baaton Mein Aisa Uljha Jiya</i>, she chooses the former. This encapsulates the premise of the Amit Joshi-Aradhana Sah film, which explores love and artificial intelligence. I was instantly reminded of a similar Hollywood flick, <i>Her</i> (2013)—the Oscar nominated and Scarlett Johansson-voiced film, where a man develops a close relationship with an advanced software.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><i>Teri Baaton Mein Aisa Uljha Jiya</i>, though based on a similar theme, is a typical Bollywood affair, which also happens to be the reason why it fails to hold our attention for long. Despite a fresh pairing, with loads of blockbuster potential, the film does not really pass, although it does make the cut for at least an hour of mindless entertainment in the 2.21-hour long film.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>A love story, with a robot at the heart of it, seemed exciting when the promos came out (a welcome change, given the blood and gore that has taken the centre-stage in Bollywood off late). And that the immensely gifted Kriti Sanon was to be that robot. Sanon, it must be said, does complete justice to her part—she plays it with unparalleled alacrity and fervour. In the role of a humanoid Sifra, she comes so unbelievably close to what an actual sexy robot may look like, that, after a point, one begins to see her in and as Sifra, and not as Sanon, the charmingly hot actress wielding some serious acting chops.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>So, the story of this human-machine coexistence and conflict goes like this: Kapoor is Aryan Agnihotri, an accomplished robotics engineer who works in his aunt's (Dimple Kapadia) company ERobotics. There he meets the suave and sexy Sifra, whom he takes for a human, of course, and both develop feelings for each other, and end up having sex! The next morning, Aryan wakes up to find that Sifra is actually a robot, programmed to serve and please him. His initial shock, displeasure and despair later turn into &quot;real soulful love&quot; for the robot, and so he leaves his own wedding, to spend a lifetime with Sifra. He requests his aunt to send Sifra over to Mumbai from the US where she is being built and readied to communicate with the humans, and is still in the testing stage. Eventually, love happens, and Aryan takes Sifra home to meet his family, and proposes marriage. Flawless, beautiful, quick, smart and a pro in the kitchen, Sifra soon bowls over Aryan's family. What follows is Bollywood-ishtyle drama.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The first half is a complete snoozefest; the dialogues are bland and boring. The only thing that can keep the viewer even a bit engaged is the foot-tapping dance number and Sanon's sizzling screen presence. Shahid Kapoor sleepwalks through the role. Even the moments with Dharmendra hardly make an impact.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>This one can be best watched for Sanon, and that too, preferably, on OTT.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Film: Teri Baaton Mein Aisa Uljha Jiya</b></p> <p><b>Director: Amit Joshi and Aradhana Sah</b></p> <p><b>Cast: Kriti Sanon, Shahid Kapoor and others</b></p> <p><b>Rating: 2/5</b></p> Fri Feb 09 15:38:31 IST 2024 yatra-2-review-a-hurried-but-engaging-revision-of-ys-jagan-political-journey <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The politics that unfolded in the Telugu lands in the last decade and a half have been very eventful and dramatic, resulting in the rise or downfall of leaders and parties. It is a Herculean task to pack in the important political milestones and associated emotions that occurred between 2009 and 2019 in a two-hour movie. Yatra 2, directed by Mahi V. Raghav, attempts to capture the journey of the current Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy, from the time he was thrust onto the political stage immediately after the sudden death of his father Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy (YSR).&nbsp;</p> <p>The movie is a sequel to&nbsp;<i>Yatra</i>, which showed how former Andhra Pradesh chief minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy stormed to power in 2004 with his signature padayatra (walkathon). In both installments, senior Malayalam actor Mammootty plays YSR convincingly. To a great extent,&nbsp;<i>Yatra 2</i>&nbsp;is a biopic of Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy, played by Jiiva. The basic plot of&nbsp;<i>Yatra 2</i>&nbsp;is public knowledge, and probably that is also the USP of the film, as politics is a keenly followed subject in the southern states.</p> <p>The movie opens with the final days of YSR when he gets re-elected as the chief minister of a united AP in 2009. In the simultaneous elections held for Parliament, his son Y.S. Jagan gets elected as an MP of Progress Party (a fictionalised name for the Congress). It is here that Jagan gets a bitter taste of dealing with the high-handedness of the Delhi central leadership. The audience is introduced to the bond that the son and the father share.&nbsp;</p> <p>Post the tragic helicopter accident of YSR, a young Jagan is seen absorbing the shock of losing his father while those around him indulge in scheming and planning. It is here that some controversial revelations are made, which makes the movie interesting. For a long period, Y.S. Jagan’s opponents had alleged that it was Jagan who wished to be the CM after the demise of his father.&nbsp;</p> <p>According to the movie, it was the leaders in the Congress party who hastily wrote a letter to Sonia Gandhi to make him the CM without his knowledge. And it was senior leaders close to Sonia Gandhi who provoked and misled her into antagonizing Jagan.&nbsp;</p> <p>The film is full of real-life politicians like K.V.P. Ramchandar Rao (Subhalekha Sudhakar) who add intensity and depth to the narrative that Jagan was the victim of a witch-hunt by both Sonia Gandhi and Chandrababu Naidu (Mahesh Manjrekar). The movie also lays bare the alleged backdoor dealings between Congress and Naidu’s Telugu Desam Party (TDP) to sideline Jagan. Mirroring reality, Jagan defies the Progress Party high command and starts his own party, and then lands up in jail on corruption charges.&nbsp;</p> <p><i>Yatra 2</i>&nbsp;also has interesting details about how Jagan was asked to support a bill of the Central government in return for bail, and how he turned down the offer. The second half of the movie follows Jagan reviving himself while following his father’s strict ideals, values, and a padayatra to clinch power. The filmmakers used original footage of Jagan and YSR family in bits and pieces, which is a good value addition to the movie.</p> <p>Jiiva as Jagan gives his best shot emulating his expressions and body language. The movie’s background music is average and on many occasions fails to elevate the scenes. The screenplay is good. Whether it is showcasing his 2017 padayatra or the aftermath of the release of Jagan on bail or when he started a party, the movie looks to be in a hurry to capture all the elements of Y.S. Jagan’s political life, and in the process fails to mete out special treatment to some of his high moments.</p> <p>Though the director does try his best to keep the movie as realistic as possible,&nbsp;<i>Yatra 2</i>&nbsp;makes for an interesting watch even for those who are not political enthusiasts.</p> <p><b>Movie: Yatra 2</b></p> <p><b>Cast: Mammootty , Jiiva, Mahesh Manjrekar, Subhalekha Sudhakar</b></p> <p><b>Director: Mahi V. Raghav</b></p> <p><b>Rating: 3.5/5</b></p> Thu Feb 08 17:43:42 IST 2024 malaikottai-valibaan-review-the-film-fails-to-make-an-impact <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>I feel exhausted. The two hours and 37 minutes I spent watching&nbsp;<i>Malaikottai Vaaliban&nbsp;</i>has left me drained; as if I have fought (and lost) a wrestling bout myself. But, in reality, the thought I am still wrestling with is: what happened to Lijo Jose Pellissery?</p> <p>There is no doubt that Pellissery is one of the most technically sound and daring filmmakers in Indian cinema. In his Mohanlal-starrer <i>Malaikottai Vaaliban&nbsp;</i>too, one would find ample mind-blowing frames. But, at the end of the day, these cannot make up for a woeful script, soulless characters and excruciatingly boring narrative.&nbsp;</p> <p>It is said that a film is born on the editing table. With <i>Malaikottai Vaaliban</i>, Pellissery decided to create a film that is purposefully made slow with criminally excessive use of slow-mos. Slow-motion shots are generally used to emphasise specific moments or actions, allowing the audience to appreciate the details that might be overlooked in real time. If properly used, a slow-motion shot can intensify emotions, create a sense of drama, and heighten the impact of a scene. Pellissery himself has exemplified how to effectively use slow-motion in many of his previous films. But, in <i>Malaikottai Vaaliban,&nbsp;</i>one would feel everything and everybody is in slow motion. The result is that even some of the beautifully choreographed stunt scenes in the film fail to make an impact on the audience.</p> <p><i>Malaikottai Vaaliban&nbsp;</i>is basically the story of a touring wrestler. The initial phase of the film gave the impression that Pellissery might be trying for an Indianised version of the western genre. However, as the story concludes, it morphs into an LJP version of an Indian TV soap opera.</p> <p>A fit and physically transformed Mohanlal is believable on screen in his role as the wrestler. However, Pellissery fails to tap the swag and charm Mohanlal can bring in, in such a larger-than-life character. And, there is a total disconnect with the audience. A weak supporting cast and terribly unimaginative characters add to the mess that<i> Malaikottai Vaaliban&nbsp;</i>is. Danish Sait, as a local chieftain Chamathakan, whose ego is bruised by Valibaan, is arguably the most irritating character in the film. It seems Sait aimed for a portrayal reminiscent of the American supervillain Joker, but his exaggerated acting ends up as a comedic misstep on screen.</p> <p>Italian actor Andrea Ravera, who plays the role of a Portuguese slave trader, comes in a close second to Sait in terms of delivering an irritating performance. Fortunately, Ravera has limited screen time. Harish Perady, as&nbsp;<i>aashan</i>&nbsp;(master of Vaaliban), initially delivers a decent performance, but, as the film unfolds, his character arc takes a nosedive. Marathi actress Sonalee Kulkarni makes her Malayalam debut with the film. But, her lip syncing, especially in the song sequences, goes for a toss.<br> </p> <p>P. S. Rafeeque, the writer of Pellissery's iconic film <i>Amen</i>, penned the script for <i>Malaikottai Vaaliban&nbsp;</i>too. The writer and the filmmaker fail to offer a proper background to any of the characters, including the protagonist. This results in a weak world-building, which, in turn, results in a total disconnect with the characters. Madhu Neelakandan does a great job with the visuals and angles that a film like this demands. However, the impact of his work is nullified by some uninspired editing.</p> <p>The background score is outstanding in places, but none of the songs are particularly memorable, and some are irrelevant in the overall narrative.</p> <p><i>Malaikottai Vaaliban&nbsp;</i>had generated much excitement and anticipation as it was the first collaboration between Mohanlal and Pellissery, who have a cult following of their own. But it is unlikely that this film will satisfy either of the fans.</p> <p>Pellissery has announced a second part to&nbsp;<i>Malaikottai Vaaliban</i>.&nbsp;An oft-repeated line in the film goes like this: “Whatever you have witnessed till now is a lie... what you are about to see is the truth”. One cannot but hope that this line holds true for <i>Malaikottai Vaaliban&nbsp;</i>too. That the Pellissery-Mohanlal film I endured today is all a lie, and the 'real' one is yet to come!</p> <p><b>Film: </b>Malaikottai Vaaliban<br> <b>Director: </b>Lijo Jose Pellissery<br> <b>Cast: </b>Mohanlal, Sonalee Kulkarni and others<br> <b>Rating:</b> 1.5/5</p> Thu Jan 25 14:41:52 IST 2024 main-atal-hoon-review-the-late-pms-poetry-and-inspiring-tale-linger-on <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>One of the most significant takeaways from Main Atal hoon is the lingering memory of Pankaj Tripathi as Atal Bihari Vajpayee. A few days before the film's release, Tripathi had said that his aim as an actor was not to look Atal, but rather, more importantly, to feel Atal. In a little over two hours of runtime, he enthrals us by stepping skilfully and seamlessly into the shoes of the late prime minister, poet and statesman, that for those from Gen Z who may never have seen the late PM will know exactly what the man looked, walked and talked like. </p> <p><i>Main Atal Hoon</i> is a tribute to Vajpayee - right from his early years as a budding poet to an assertive young leader at Victoria College in Gwalior where he contested the general secretary elections to studying law at Kanpur and going on to join the RSS for a life of selfless service to the nation, the film beautifully captures each milestone in the journey of the late prime minister that played a critical role in the making of the man and in-turn shaping of the nation's destiny. This is not an impersonal, frame-by-frame account of the PM's life, rather it's a thoughtfully written script and an aesthetically crafted screenplay that takes the audience along on the protagonist's journey which in turn makes the film an endearing watch.&nbsp;<br> </p> <p>Yet, from the second half onwards to be specific, the tribute soon turns into idol worship. It becomes nauseating to see the portrayal of the late PM as a man incapable of doing any wrong, and the only such messiah who graced the Earth to free the oppressed masses of India from the Congress, which, by the way, has been shown in very poor light and unsurprisingly, so. The film is a handbook of how the Hindu right carved a space for itself to enter the echelons of power and how under Vajpayee's leadership it was able to keep the flame burning despite falling face down again and again. </p> <p>This is a deep dive into the life and times of Vajpayee, the leader whose politics and poetry we've known, but we now got to know more about — there's a nuanced mention of Mrs Ekta Kaul, his love interest from college who later became known to almost everyone at seven race courses; his yearning for a family of his own, his self-assured bearing and moments that rendered him most vulnerable.&nbsp;<br> </p> <p><i>Main Atal Hoon,</i>&nbsp;should be watched for its highly engrossing storytelling and execution, more than the politics it espouses. And if you're prepared to watch the film for what it is a film, then you might even want to watch it a second time. But then be prepared to also consume the depiction of a highly idolised version of the late PM, along with a biased portrayal of the politics of the era, reckless and frequent Congress-bashing and so on. </p> <p>Either way, you will come out emotionally charged - given Tripathi's charismatic presence, his exceptional command over the Hindi language, and his soulful renditions and recitations of Vajpayee's poetry all of which linger in the mind long after you've watched the film. In a short period, the screenplay beautifully captures the journey from the times of the early Jan Sangh to the formation of the short-lived Janata Party and the eventual birth of the BJP, without coming across as a history textbook and for that one must recognise the able direction at the hands of Ravi Jadhav. Main Atal Hoon must be watched if you want to be regaled by Tripathi and by the moving story of a coy tongue-tied young boy who went on to become India's tenth prime minister.&nbsp;<br> </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Movie:&nbsp;</b>Main Atal Hoon</p> <p><b>Cast:</b>&nbsp;Pankaj Tripathi, Piyush Mishra, Raja Sevak, Ekta Kaul, Daya Shankar Pandey,</p> <p><b>Director:</b>&nbsp;Ravi Jadhav</p> <p>R<b>ating:</b>&nbsp;3.5/5&nbsp;</p> Fri Jan 19 18:49:59 IST 2024 captain-miller-review-this-story-about-fight-for-dignity-is-a-visual-treat <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>If cinema is all about heroism, muscle flexing, masculinity, and glamour, then <i>Captain Miller</i> does not fit the bill. The men and women in Arun Matheswaran’s <i>Captain Miller</i> fight oppression, not in the Gandhian way, but with guns and fire. <i>Captain Miller</i> is filled with action from the start to the end.<br> <br> Set in the pre-Independence era, Dhanush plays Analeesan, a man who wants to fight oppression by the landed gentry in his village. Analeesan, his mother, and the others in his village are victims of oppression. The local king bars them from entering into a temple they built. His brother Sengolan (played by Shiva Rajkumar) arrives for a village festival and his mother gets killed in an attack by the upper caste. He then decides to join the army led by the British and believes that they will give him more respect than the local king. He gets rechristened as Miller and wants to be called <i>Captain Miller</i>.<br> <br> When Miller is asked to shoot the non-violent protesters fighting for freedom, he shivers and shakes, realises his mistakes, and returns to the village. But the villagers shoo him away saying his brother Sengolan was also part of the non-violent protesters. What happens next forms the rest of the story.<br> <br> If you are a fan of Dhanush’s Asuran and Karnan, then <i>Captain Miller</i> is truly a treat. Dhanush truly stands out, in every frame - when he walks in the military attire as a soldier, when he sports a long beard, when he fires at the British, or when he holds the hands of Priyanka Arul Mohan's Velmathi showing her the way to exit from the temple as a young man. You just cannot take your eyes off him. Dhanush makes the audience feel his anger and anguish.<br> <br> At one point in the film, Analeesan believes that the British gave the people respect, dignity and food. Director Arun Matheswaran comes up with some pertinent questions when Analeesan confronts Sengolan: “Who are you fighting against? After we get Independence from the British, do you think they will allow us to enter the temple's sanctum sanctorum? You are fighting for the freedom of the landed gentry?” Matheswaran’s thoughts on women too stand out. His women characters are not feeble or subservient to men. The two women characters—played by Priyanka Mohan as a freedom fighter-doctor and Niveditha Sathish as a dacoit and a rebel—are well written.<br> <br> While Matheswaran had recently said the film was based on the real-life story of the first-ever black tiger of the LTTE, the film revolves around the story of a man in Tamil Nadu, set in a different time period. Vallipuram Vasanthan aka Captain Miller was the first black tiger of the LTTE and there is a statue of him at Nelliyadi in Jaffna. The Tamils in Sri Lanka still celebrate him.<br> <br> The film is split into six chapters. The interval block chase, action sequences, and the terrific climax are visual treats. In the end, <i>Captain Miller</i> promises a sequel, leaving the audience to keep guessing.<br> <br> G.V. Prakash rocks with his background score and 'The Killer Killer' song is a musical treat.<br> <br> On the flip side, the film is a tad long, running more than two hours, and filled with guns, gunpowder, fire and bloodshed from the beginning till the end. Sometimes, it gets a little boring to watch the long chasing scenes.</p> <p><b>Film: Captain Miller</b></p> <p><b>Directer by: Arun Matheswaran</b></p> <p><b>Starring: Dhanush, Shiva Rajkumar, Priyanka Arul Mohan, Aditi Balan</b></p> <p><b>Rating: 3/5</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Fri Jan 12 21:34:32 IST 2024 merry-christmas-experimental-not-overwhelming <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Who would've ever thought that Katrina Kaif and Vijay Sethupathi would make for a charming pair and sizzle the screen with their absolutely riveting performance?&nbsp;<i style="font-size: 0.8125rem;">Merry Christmas</i>&nbsp;enthrals us by deftly exploiting the potential of the two actors and giving us a gripping noirish tale in which the journey is more exciting than the climax.&nbsp;<br> </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Kaif deftly uses her eyes and expressions to convey the most intrinsic emotions and her body language is beautifully captured to portray a beautiful woman who knows exactly what she's doing and where she's heading. The way her character develops steadily, almost rhythmically, from that of a gorgeous and vulnerable single mom to an intensely hurt and revengeful wife, is noteworthy.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Sethupathi's character offers well-measured restraint as he goes about emoting pain, grief and betrayal with a seamless ease that is just so him. There's something compelling about the chemistry between the two that keeps you hooked, you just want to see more and more of the two — stealing glances, exchanging witty one-liners, and more, but sadly, the spark between the two just seems to be fading away as we near the end of the film. As individuals, neither of the two come across as flamboyant or sensuous; they depict simplicity and a relatability that makes their act come so close to reality as if they're both simply being themselves.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>This is a delectable tale of a charming woman (Katrina Kaif as Maria) and a stranger (Vijay Setupathi as Albert) on Christmas Eve, based on the popular French writer Frederic Dard’s novel Bird In A Cage. The backdrop of Bombay of the 90s evokes nostalgia, with its ticket vending machines, cinema tickets that came with a photo of Rajesh Khanna, red and black postboxes dotting the neighbourhood and more; but the mood and tone of the film depicts deception, death and darkness. There is plenty of food for thought on offer with some cleverly written dialogues and meaningful lyrics accompanied with soul-soothing music, that is contextual and helps take the story forward.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The first half handholds one into the second and builds up the anticipation for something really solid coming up. But, the bubble bursts soon after. This film neither shocks you nor provides you with the thrill factor that Sriram Raghavan was known for, especially with movies like 'Ek Hasina Thi' and 'Andhadhun.' The end is cerebral but abrupt, one remains hopeful for something that challenges the mind and tickles one's intelligence. Sadly, that does not happen.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Actors Radhika Apte, Sanjay Kapoor, Tinnu Anand, Vinay Pathak, Ashwini Kalsekar and Pratima Kazmi lend great support to this dark, murder mystery universe. Given that I went for this Raghavan film expecting an overtly mind-boggling climax, which could make me jump out of my seat, I was a bit disappointed. It's out-of-the-box and experimental, but not overwhelming.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Movie: </b>Merry Christmas<br> <b>Cast: </b>Katrina Kaif, Vijay Sethupathi, Radhika Apte<br> <b>Director: </b>Sriram Raghavan<br> <b>Rating:</b> 3/5</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Fri Jan 12 15:50:47 IST 2024 abraham-ozler-review-jayaram-delivers-an-engaging-crime-thriller <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Midhun Manuel Thomas's <i>Abraham Ozler,</i> written by Randheer Krishnan, digs into the labyrinth of personal and professional hurdles that surround a probe in a serial killings case. Actor Jayaram plays an experienced police officer struggling to deal with a tragic past.</p> <p>The intrigue intensifies as ACP Abraham Ozler (Jayaram) investigates the murder case, revealing a cryptic chase that has everyone on edge. The film depicts various characters, all of whom are intertwined in a web of fate. Abraham has his own personal dilemmas but is trying to find his way around them.&nbsp;</p> <p>Soon after Ozler is assigned to the murder case in which the victim has been fatally wounded, two other killings with the same modus operandi follow. As Ozler puts together evidence to prevent a fourth killing, he finds many more suspects—putting him in a state of doubt about the truth behind the crime. The film delves deeply into the professional and personal lives of its characters, too, which adds to the suspense of the plot.</p> <p>Thomas's directorial skills are on display as the picture flawlessly integrates tension, drama, and mystery while maintaining a crisp storyline throughout. The first half of the film is fast-paced, producing a box packed with questions, while the second half provides a combination of emotions with suspense and intense scenes.&nbsp;</p> <p>The composers deserve special praise for the background score that elevates the scenes to another level. The frames captured by cinematographer Theni Eswar, known for Lijo Jose Pellissery’s Nanpakal Nerathu Mayakkam, and Shameer Muhammed's editing have also made the visuals top class.</p> <p>However, if you look closely at the production and thread, you will notice a recurrence of the classic police-killer film cliches that we have seen in numerous Malayalam police-killer pairings. Factors like the sad past of the investigating officer, communication of the criminal through letters or poems, views of forensic experts and a dark past that justifies the criminal’s actions add to the predictability.&nbsp;</p> <p>When it comes to the portrayal of characters, actors Arjun Ashokan, Jagadish, Dileesh Pothan, Anaswara Rajan, Darshana Nair, Senthil Krishna, Arjun Nandakumar, Aseem Jamal and Arya Salim have delivered great performances. Watch out for Mammootty's mass entry and cameo in the film.&nbsp;</p> <p>Abraham Ozler is worth a watch on the big screen for those interested in an investigation drama with medical thriller elements.&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Movie: Abraham Ozler</b></p> <p><b>Director: Midhun Manuel Thomas</b></p> <p><b>Rating: 3/5</b></p> Thu Jan 11 17:28:28 IST 2024 curry-and-cyanide-the-jolly-joseph-case-review-engaging-in-parts <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The name Jolly would be familiar to almost every Keralite now. The 51-year-old woman allegedly killed six of her family members, including a two-year-old. Netflix's <i>Curry and Cyanide - The Jolly Joseph Case</i> documentary looks at these <a title="How will the Kerala cyanide murders affect the state’s social psyche" href="">serial killings that shook the conscience of a state</a>, and beyond.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The <a title="'Curry and Cyanide - The Jolly Joseph Case': All about Koodathayi murders that shook Kerala" href="">woman allegedly used cyanide for the killings in Koodathayi</a>, which took place between 2002 and 2016. But the probe started only in 2019 when the siblings of her first husband Roy filed a case. The documentary takes an elaborate look at the timeline and events that took place, through the testimonies of people associated with the case.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><i>Curry and Cyanide - The Jolly Joseph Case</i> is set in a narrative format. It spells out the possible reasons for the murders through the testimonies of C.S. Chandrika, a gender expert, Dr V.V. Pillai, a toxicologist at Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences, and Dr Meghna Srivastav, who is a criminal and legal psychology expert.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The true-crime documentary is unbiased as it shows the testimonials of not just those against Jolly but also of her lawyer B.A. Aloor. While the story is mainly narrated by Ranji, Jolly’s sister-in-law, and the case officer in-charge K.G. Simon, it also portrays Jolly’s side of the story through her advocate.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>While it has been widely reported that it was Jolly’s brother-in-law Rojo who suspected Jolly and filed the case, this documentary portrays Ranji as the brain behind it and that she asked her brother Rojo to file the case.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The documentary, directed by the National Award winner Christo Tomy, deserves a special mention for direction and editing as it seamlessly blends the original clippings with actual photographs and the documentary shots to create a crime thriller. The music, too, complements the narrative well.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>At one hour and 35 minutes, the duration is on the shorter side. The ending seems abrupt, and certain portions or events feel rushed, leaving the viewer dissatisfied.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>For true-crime documentary lovers, it's an interesting one-time watch.</p> Sat Dec 23 13:18:01 IST 2023 salaar-review-where-logic-and-sanity-drown-in-blood <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>By now, the not-so-secret ingredients of Prashanth Neel’s products are known—a suffering mother, visuals dominated by black and grey shades, some locations of gold or coal mine thrown in, lots of menacing and bulky baddies with beard and unkempt hair, state-of-the-art weapons and of course, lots of blood that can put slaughterhouses to shame.</p> <p>In a nutshell, <i>Salaar: Part 1 - Ceasefire</i> looks like a jarring extension of <i>KGF</i>, or rather reeling under its hangover. Prabhas of <i>Baahubali</i> fame and Prashant Neel coming together under <i>KGF </i>and Kanthara’s production house, Hombale, got the movie buffs excited who were awaiting an explosive entertainer. The first part of the movie opened to packed audiences across the country and beyond. Right from the word go, it is the logic that suffers a bloody nose in the violent scheme-of-things.</p> <p>Prashanth created a ghoulish world where there is literally a king and a set of governors administering different territories. All this in a modern setup where characters drive around in fanciest cars and handling fanciest weaponry. With no police or democracy in sight in the lawless lands, we also get to see the mercenary armies from Ukraine, Afghanistan, Siberia and other countries in action. Of course, it is unfair to expect filmmakers to be realistic but Prashanth’s creative freedom seems to have fallen short of being convincing or fascinating for the audience.</p> <p>The movie introduces two young friends—Vardha and Deva—in the fictional region of Khansaara. Deva, a commoner, fights off a bully for Vardha who is the son of the ruler. Later, Vardha protects Deva’s family from his father’s henchmen by bribing them with a share in their territories by going against his father. The strong bond of friendship breaks after Deva is forcibly migrated from Khansar along with his mother due to the unfavourable situations. The two friends part ways with the promise that they will unite whenever there is a serious crisis.</p> <p>Two and half decades later, Aadhya (Shruti Haasan) travels to India from the US to immerse her deceased mother’s ashes. A set of people attempt to kidnap her whereas her father, who is unaware of his daughter’s plans, tries to shield her by approaching Deva (Prabhas) who now lives with his mother in Assam. In the process of protecting Aadhya, Deva takes on the people who are connected to Khansar and Vardha’s (Prithviraj) family. The second half of the movie dwells into the violence-laden flashback in which Vardha and Deva reunite to neutralise his opposing factions within his territories who want to lay siege the throne of Khansar, and later part ways.</p> <p>The first part of the movie ends keeping alive the suspense on how the two friends have turned into foes and are on the path of collision. The sequel is expected to answer the question along with giving clarity on the relations and tensions between a web of characters and events.</p> <p>As two friends who can sacrifice lives for each other, Prabhas and Prithviraj hardly looked their parts when sharing screen space. There is not much to talk about in terms of acting as the hero of the film is violence which comes in different forms. Prashanth tried to present different characterisations and mannerisms which leave a print but it feels like there is a loud and desperate attempt to introduce conflict at every juncture. What clearly differentiates <i>KGF</i> franchise from<i> Salaar</i> are the ‘high’ moments of heroism which are clearly missing in this flick.</p> <p>The music integrates with the plot but does not register much. The movie is strictly for those who appreciate blood and gore and do not believe in going beyond these elements.</p> <p><b>Movie: Salaar</b></p> <p><b>Director: Prashanth Neel</b></p> <p><b>Cast: Prabhas, Prithviraj, Shruthi Haasan, Jagapathi Babu, Sriya Reddy</b></p> <p><b>Rating: 2/5</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Fri Dec 22 15:34:44 IST 2023 neru-review-an-engaging-courtroom-drama <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Post the smashing success of <i>Drishyam</i> (2013), there has been much anticipation whenever actor Mohanlal and director Jeethu Joseph have come together for a film. Though the sequel <i>Drishyam 2</i> (2021) and <i>12</i><sup><i>th</i></sup><i> Man</i> (2022) did not match up to the standards set by <i>Drishyam</i>, the duo had once again raised hopes of the fans when <i>Neru</i> was announced.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The film revolves around a tragedy that befalls a young, blind sculptor Sara (Anaswara Rajan) and her journey to seek justice. Vijaymohan (Mohanlal), a lawyer who has not been practising for several years, takes up her case.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>While courtroom dramas are not a unique concept in recent years, the film keeps the audience engaged for most part. The first half might feel slow but as the film progresses, you will understand why it was necessary. The process of convincing Vijaymohan to take up the case felt repetitive and stretched out. The second half is the saving grace, as it keeps the audience guessing as the two sides engage in an interesting game of one-upmanship.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The climax, however, is predictable, as it plays to the galleries. The film ensures that there's a sense of dread and anticipation throughout, and the viewer will feel a strong sense of anger and hatred towards the perpetrator and the lawyers defending him.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>As exciting as the courtroom scenes are, a lot of the evidence produced feels dramatised. One questions the credibility of the claims and how practical would it be in a real case hearing, a feeling so similar to my reaction to <i>Drishyam</i> and its sequel. “It’s cinema after all”, as its protagonist Georgekutty says!</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Mohanlal and Siddique, being veterans, pull off their roles with ease. But it's Anaswara Rajan who steals the show.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Vishnu Shyam's music elevates the scenes, and captures the emotions beautifully.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Jeethu Joseph’s touch is evident throughout the film, reminding me of <i>Drishyam</i> and its sequel.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><i>Neru</i> is a story of courage, resilience, and justice, and an engaging watch.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Film: Neru</b></p> <p><b>Language: Malayalam</b></p> <p><b>Director: Jeethu Joseph</b></p> <p><b>Cast: Mohanlal, Anaswara Rajan, Siddique, Priyamani, Santhi Mayadevi, Jagadish and more</b></p> <p><b>Rating: 3/5</b></p> Thu Dec 21 17:27:58 IST 2023 dunki-review-this-shah-rukh-khan-starrer-fails-to-leave-a-lasting-impression <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>This 161-minute film, helmed by Shah Rukh Khan, makes one laugh and cry, but fails to leave a lasting impression. After hardcore action masala films <i>Pathaan </i>and <i>Jawan</i>, there was this strong desire to see Khan in a softer role, where his lovey-dovey eyes and the dimpled smile transport the viewer to another universe and some witty and wacky one-liners leave you wanting for more. But unfortunately, none of this happens in <i>Dunki</i>. The film simply comes across as one that is trying too hard to please.</p> <p>For a storyline as strong and interesting as the one <i>Dunki </i>presents, the delivery lacks the punch and fails to connect with the audience. Khan, in the role of a lover boy badly fails the litmus test—there is a severe lack of chemistry between him and his crush, Taapsee Pannu. It is nothing like the chocolate boy lover kind of characters Bollywood movie lovers have grown up seeing (recall <i>Veer Zaara, DDLJ, Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna</i>, and many more.) In the role of a soldier in Dunki, it is the same soft dialogues oozing out patriotism and nationalism, which we heard Khan parrot earlier in <i>Pathaan </i>and <i>Jawan</i>. And in the role of a good Samaritan, he is just about any average Joe. <i>Dunki </i>does not give us the Khan we want to see, or what the trailers promised. It only gives us a strong plotline that keeps us hooked throughout the film, but does not carry us along with the characters, who just seem as though they are all drifting irectionless and lacking any enthusiasm to give their best.</p> <p>The story goes like this - Khan plays Hardyal Singh Dhillon, aka Hardy, a soldier who falls in love Manu (Pannu) who yearns to go to London to make enough money that can get her family's mortgaged house back. So the solution that the soldier suggests is, ‘Dunki maarna’ which means illegal migration to England, because otherwise she and her friends Buggu (Vikram Kochhar) and Balli (Anil Grover), all of who are chasing a 'better life,' will never be given visas to enter the UK. And so begins their illegal journey over land and underwater via Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Turkey, onwards to their dream destination, London.</p> <p>The film is set in Laltu, Punjab where everyone harbours the dream of earning in pounds. Those whose sons and daughters have made it, build a cement aeroplane on their rooftops to flaunt their UK connection. The story is fresh; it touches the crucial aspects of small-time agents exploiting vulnerable youth by fixing illegal applications for a few thousand rupees, the thriving business of Hinglish and Ingliss classes that sell the dream of a life abroad, the visa racket and more. But the execution is far from gripping. That one crucial aspect which differentiates <i>Dunki </i>from Raju Hirani's past films <i>(3 Idiots, Munnabhai</i>...) is the lack of wit and humour. One can literally count the number of times the film makes one laugh on one's fingertips.</p> <p><i>Dunki </i>does take us into a deep dive of emotions via scenes that pull our heartstrings, but it does little to do the same throughout. Except for Vicky Kaushal's very strong special performance that lasts no more than a few minutes—he leaves a lasting impression on our minds of a man who is unable to get himself a visa to London and burns himself to death after his ladylove commits suicide there, after waiting in vain for him to bring her back to India. There are only a few such memorable scenes in the film that come straight for your heart.</p> <p><b>Movie: Dunki</b></p> <p><b>Cast: Shah Rukh Khan, Taapsee Pannu, Vicky Kaushal, and Boman Irani</b></p> <p><b>Director: Rajkumar Hirani</b></p> <p><b>Rating: 2/5</b></p> Thu Dec 21 16:52:45 IST 2023 maestro-review-bradley-cooper-nails-this-leonard-bernstein-biopic <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>“<i>If the summer doesn’t sing in you, then nothing sings in you. And if nothing sings in you, then you can’t make music.’’</i></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Bradley Cooper and his portrayal of musicians are out of the league. In his directorial debut - the 2018 film <i>A Star is Born</i> - he embodied the established singer-songwriter and alcoholic, Jack Maine. His performance alongside Lady Gaga was critically acclaimed and got multiple Golden Globe and Oscar nominations.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In <i>Maestro</i>, Cooper is the real thespian. His rendering as the legendary American conductor Leonard Bernstein is majestic. The movie, which uses flashbacks mostly, portrays Bernstein's love life with his wife Felicia Montealegre Cohn, even as he had relationships with men. Cooper, thus, makes a bold move to embrace the different identities Bernstein had.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The film launches into a scene where Bernstein, playing the piano and giving an interview, stops and says how much he loved his wife. It then cuts into black and white, showing his first public performance as the conductor of the New York Philharmonic Symphony, when the guest conductor Bruno Walter was down with flu.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>The performers</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The talkie then focuses on the first meeting between Bernstein and Felicia and their subsequent life. Carey Mulligan’s characterisation as Felicia is the film’s anchor. She expresses the love through her eyes. The fondness and the turbulence are rendered beautifully, and she wins over the audience with the performance of her career.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Cooper and Mulligan redefine their acting and filmmaking skills with this film.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>But, the movie is painfully inert and has a pretentious nature when it goes into the past.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Their complicated marriage, their fights, their separation and their reunion are, however, all beautifully employed in the movie. In a particular scene, Felicia hisses and silences the maestro by mirroring his true colours.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Another actor worthy of mention is Matt Bomer, who plays David Oppenheim. He is Bernstein’s boyfriend. When Felicia is introduced to him and he comes to know about Bernstein's decision to make her his life partner, he expresses his pain subtly through his eyes. In a later scene, when David and family come, Bernstein reveals to their baby that he’s slept with both the parents.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Symbols</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Cooper, the filmmaker, uses several symbols and elements to show the life story within a limited running time. Although Bernstein’s sexuality, his triumphs, and his voyage in the musical field are perfectly blended within the silver screen, some shots and transitions feel truncated. The life depiction in the movie is poignant and is elevated when it comes to the end note.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>A noteworthy element in the movie is cigarettes. This foreshadows Felicia’s death and other turmoil in the couple's life.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Though the film is a roller-coaster ride, the love between Felicia and Bernstein is always prominent. It is never broken, even after her death. He's with her without hesitation when she is in her hard phases. When the film gradually reaches its crescendo, the transition between the past and the present is still in action. It ends with the same interview in the beginning and flashes back to the time when he and Felicia are walking in the orchard.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Cooper uses several musical pieces by Bernstein himself. For example, the piece ‘The Age of Anxiety’ is used when Felicia is diagnosed with lung cancer. 'Maestro' is the testimony to the importance of music in Bernstein’s life.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Film: Maestro</b></p> <p><b>OTT platform: Netflix</b></p> <p><b>Director: Bradley Cooper</b></p> <p><b>Cast: Bradley Cooper, Carey Mulligan, Matt Bomer and others</b></p> <p><b>Rating: 4/5</b></p> Thu Dec 21 16:25:20 IST 2023 kadak-singh-review-pankaj-tripathis-performance-is-the-only-saving-grace-in-this-snooze-fest <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Kadak Singh is that film which you cannot bring yourself to watch fully, even if it is a Pankaj Tripathi-starrer. Because even he, with all his on-screen charisma and prowess, cannot save this insufferable content that goes on and on for over two hours. By the end, one is only left trying to make sense of all that happened because Kadak Singh comes across as a khichdi - a mish-mash of a directionless psychological thriller cum family drama cum a half-baked love story that just doesn't make the cut.</p> <p>Just a few days ago, during the promotion of the film, Tripathi spoke to THE WEEK over a call. When asked what he thought about the way the film has turned out, after having watched it completely, he agreed that it is &quot;rather slow&quot; but as an actor all he could do was to perform well and that he has done to the best of his capacity. &quot;Yes, I know it is a bit slow but that's the way the film was meant to be. I have no say in it. My job is to act and I limit myself to that.&quot;</p> <p>Unfortunately, Tripathi's natural and restrained performance is the only aspect worth talking about in Kadak Singh, which is otherwise a snooze fest. At the centre of this Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury directorial is an ace investigator, A.K. Srivastava (Pankaj Tripathi), who suffers anterograde amnesia. His daughter (Sanjana Sanghi) tries her best to revive his memory by narrating her side of the story, and so do others related to Srivastava - each one helps him recall the moments he spent with them, but nothing helps. And then gradually one by one pieces of the puzzle come together, but they do so in such a twisted, difficult-to-grasp manner, that one simply finds it hard to make sense of what's going on.</p> <p>Interestingly, Tripathi tells us that it took barely a month to 40 days to finish shooting for this film, and this was followed by a few more days of edits and post-production work. Does this 'quickfix' explain the hotch-potch way in which the film has turned out to be? Streaming on Zee5, the film moves back and forth in time and space and keeps getting repetitive every now and then.</p> <p>Kadak Singh is better avoided.</p> <p><b>Kadak Singh movie cast: Pankaj Tripathi, Parvathy Thirvuvothu, Sanjana Sanghi, Jaya Ahsan, Paresh Pahuja, Varun Buddhadeva, Dilip Shankar, Jogi Mallang</b></p> <p><b>Kadak Singh movie director: Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury</b></p> <p><b>Kadak Singh movie rating: 1/5</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Fri Dec 08 20:35:15 IST 2023 daayam-review-a-coming-of-age-drama-with-a-refreshing-twist <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Movies falling into the coming-of-age genre, centred on the themes of growing up and maturation, often incorporate a level of romance—typically portraying the protagonist's first romantic experiences. The young protagonists in coming-of-age dramas are shown grappling with their one of the earliest life dilemmas or undergo their first major awakening.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><i>Daayam</i> (Inheritance) belongs to this genre, but it deviates from the usual narrative by exploring themes of 'loss' and grief instead of relying on common tropes like teenage romance and humour. <i>Daayam</i> uses them as catalysts for the protagonist's transition into adulthood and her journey of coping with new realities and realisations brought about by the loss.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Directed by Prasanth Vijay, <i>Daayam</i> narrates the story of Kalyani (Aathira Rajeev), a teenager whose life is upended by the sudden death of her mother. In the subsequent weeks, Kalyani grapples not only with the grief but also confronts harsh realisations about the patriarchal and hypocritical nature of the society surrounding her.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Vijay, a self-taught filmmaker from Kerala, explored a similar theme—disappearance of a parent—in his debut feature film <i>The Summer of Miracles</i> (2017), too. While the internationally-acclaimed film used a young boy as its protagonist to examine power dynamics in interpersonal relationships, <i>Daayam</i> extends this exploration with a 17-year-old girl at its heart.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The director attributes the genesis of the film to writer Indu Lakshmi's personal experience of losing her mother at a young age. &quot;The pain of those memories, channelled into the script, became the foundation of the narrative. Having a female writer has provided the film with perspectives that I might not have been able to explore otherwise.&quot;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In <i>Daayam</i>, Vijay employs a deliberate, unhurried pace to construct the narrative. The strategic use of silence, pauses, and a minimalist setting effectively immerses the audience in an atmosphere of a &quot;<i>marippuveedu</i>&quot; (house in mourning) attempting to cope with loss. Everyday household chores, coupled with the tumult that arises when an inexperienced father and daughter attempt to manage them, serve as tropes to scrutinise how patriarchy operates within the home, tilting the balance in favour of men.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The film delves into the pain of confronting the hypocrisy of an &quot;idol&quot;, unveiling the true nature of the character and the resulting insecurity it instils in the teenager. Towards the end, the audience witnesses her decision not to submit but to confront these challenges. However, <i>Daayam</i> adopts a subtle approach in encapsulating these themes, intertwining elements of casteism and misogyny, crafting a compelling narrative that invites reflection.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Having had its world premiere at the MAMI Mumbai Film Festival 2023, <i>Daayam</i> is currently featured at the International Film Festival of Kerala. Aathira Rajeev delivers an outstanding performance marked by exceptional screen presence. Her ability to convey a spectrum of emotions with grace is noteworthy. If you appreciate films that delve into the dynamics of power within a household, <i>Daayam</i> is undoubtedly a movie worth watching.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Film: Daayam</b></p> <p><b>Language: Malayalam</b></p> <p><b>Director: Prasanth Vijay</b></p> <p><b>Cast: Aathira Rajeev and others</b></p> <p><b>Rating: 3/5</b></p> Fri Dec 08 18:44:42 IST 2023 wonka-review-a-scrumpdillyicious-origin-story <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Remakes, prequels and sequels are surely overdone but it is safe to say that <i>Wonka </i>gets an exception as it takes us to a world of pure imagination. <i>Wonka </i>is directed by the same genius who brought Michael Bond’s 1950s children’s storybook character, <i>Paddington, </i>to life. Paul King.</p> <p><i>Wonka</i> is centered around the story of the titular character, Willy Wonka, played by Timothee Chalamet. A prequel to Roald Dahl’s 1964 book <i>Charlie and the Chocolate Factory</i>, the film revolves around the creation of the said chocolate factory. Other than the textual inspiration being taken from the book, a great amount of visual inspiration is taken from the two previous movie adaptations of the book, <i>Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971)</i> and <i>Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005).</i> We can see that Chalamet has done his research on the adaptations as he embodies the spirit of Gene Wilder and Johnny Depp’s Wonkas—more of Wilder's persona, with a splash of Depp’s whimsical nature.</p> <p>The story is set in a town in 1930s London, full of chocolate-loving, sweets-gobbling townspeople, probably making the dentist in the town the second richest after the “Chocolate Cartel”. It is surprising to see that the creator of the delectable ‘Wonka Chocolate’ himself, eats the least amount of the sugary delight. </p> <p>The childhood background of Wonka does differ a bit from the 2005 movie adaptation, showing that it was his sweet mother who motivated his chocolatier dreams, not his authoritative dentist father whom he rebelled against. The story of why and how he hired the Oompa Loompas to work in his factory is also different.</p> <p>It is refreshing to see Chalamet, who has acted in <i>Dune, Beautiful Boy </i>and <i>Call Me by Your Name, </i>just to name a few, take on a role, let alone a singing role, where he is joyful and happy for the majority of the movie. But it also should not come as a surprise to the audience as he does have experience performing musical numbers during his university days.</p> <p>The movie, during the title sequence, immediately hits the audience with a nostalgic instrumental rendition of ‘Pure Imagination’, originally performed by Wilder in the 1971 movie adaptation. Although tagged under the ‘musical’ genre, King wants the audience to consider it ‘a movie with music in it’. The seven new songs from the movie are written by Neil Hannon and performed by the star-studded cast—Chalamet, Calah Lane, Olivia Wilde, Paterson Joseph, Matt Lucas, Mathew Bayton, Keegan-Michael Key and Hugh Grant.</p> <p>The movie does give the audience, who are familiar with the 1971 movie adaptation, a sweet treat; new versions of ‘Oompa Loompa’ performed by&nbsp; Grant and also of ‘Pure Imagination’ enchantingly performed by Chalamet.</p> <p>Some questions do still remain unanswered like how he collects the exotic ingredients for his chocolates, and why he acts slightly rude towards the children in the earlier adaptations. But nonetheless <i>Wonka </i>does answer a lot more questions than leave the audience with unanswered ones.</p> <p><i>Wonka </i>does a brilliant job at creating a golden ticket-worthy origin story for the older audiences and an introductory story for the little ones, with more colour and more music than ever before.</p> <p><b>Film: Wonka</b></p> <p><b>Language: English</b></p> <p><b>Director: Paul King</b></p> <p><b>Cast: Timothee Chalamet, Calah Lane, Paterson Joseph, Olivia Wilde, Keegan-Michael Key, Hugh Grant</b></p> <p><b>Rating: 4/5</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Fri Dec 08 17:04:16 IST 2023 the-archies-review-this-saccharine-world-could-do-with-a-dash-of-masala <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Zoya Akhtar and Reema Kagti's <i>The Archies</i>&nbsp;is dipped in nostalgia and repackaged as a colourful and sanitised reimagination of the 1941 American comic, Archies.&nbsp;Familiar characters are back, Riverdale is now set in a squeaky-clean Indian town where a small Anglo-Indian community resides. The year is 1964, Pop Tates is a popular cafe and our new gang are children of independent India; they're woke, empathetic, good-looking and proudly wear their vanity on their sleeve. Yet, it takes time for the milieu to grow on you as these seventeen-year-olds — very Indian in their looks, upbringing and thought, flaunt ’70s haircuts and ’50s lifestyles as they tool around Riverdale, unconvincingly dishing out a mix of Hindi and English, with the help of bland and lacklustre one-liners.&nbsp;<br> </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>This reimagined Archieverse fails to keep us hooked in the orchestrated world because it does not feel real enough for us to be emotionally invested in the story. The screenplay looks like a patchwork of sorts, with each frame simply piled one upon the other in a rush to complete the project. It is severely lacking in seamlessness.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The first half an hour is dedicated to introductions -- we have Veronica Lodge (Suhana Khan), the spellbinding rich girl whose father is keen on establishing a hotel in Riverdale's Green Park, Archie Andrews (Agastya Nanda), an aspiring musician who yearns to go abroad, the docile and shy Betty Cooper (Khushi Kapoor) who pines away for Archie, Jughead (Mihir Ahuja), the wry, burger-munching sidekick and Reggie (Vedang Raina) who adds flavour to the group via his earnestness and composure.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Even as this Indian version of the American comic chucks the comics’ old clichés for a new pastiche, drawn from decades of moody teen dramas, what we sorely lack is the punch and spark of witty dialogues and strong chemistry between the characters. None of the star kids have been given meaty, cerebral lines. The most interesting aspect of the storyline is to see how Archie and his group turn into anti-capitalist activists.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The love triangle between the girl-next-door Betty, the rich-and-worldly Veronica and Archie seems shallow and there is very little chemistry between the three characters. In that sense, 'The Archies,' is more an ensemble show than the story of Archie, in which Agastya comes across as a flat, brooding bore. Archie’s gal pals are far more interesting. Sadly, The Archies invests all its efforts in trying to dazzle us with its over-the-top set designs, panoramic cinematography and show-shine peppered by its stylists, that it fails to give us a meaty story and a seamlessly moving screenplay.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>This saccharine world somehow feels too sweet; maybe a dash of masala would have done the film some good.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Rating:</b> 2/5</p> <p><b>Directors:&nbsp;</b>Zoya Akhtar, Ryan Brophy</p> <p><b>Writers:&nbsp;</b>Farhan Akhtar, Zoya Akhtar, Ayesha DeVitre, John L. Goldwater, Reema Kagti</p> <p><b>Stars:&nbsp;</b>Agastya Nanda, Khushi Kapoor, Suhana Khan, Vedang Raina, Mihir Ahuja</p> <p><b>Running Time:&nbsp;</b>2h 21m</p> Thu Dec 07 16:18:45 IST 2023 animal-review-violent-but-entertaining <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Animal, for all its blood and gore, is the story of a son’s aching desire for his father’s approval. Why, even its ballads are less romance, more revenge. And its female characters, for all their luminosity, are just props.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>At its heart is Ranbir Kapoor, though you are never sure if he is the titular character for the antagonist is as much of a beast as he is. Seldom does a Hindi film (which <i>Animal</i> with its multi-lingual format is not) have heroes and anti-heroes who are less than physically spectacular.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In its first half, the movie uses a clever twist, not revealing Kapoor’s full name till intermission. The son of India’s largest steel baron, he remains hungry for fatherly affection and attention. He is also a sensitive brother to two sisters and takes it upon himself to avenge a nasty bout of bullying his elder sister has been subjected to.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Yet, Anil Kapoor as the father sees only a criminal in the son he is rearing and packs him off to boarding school. In his mental make-up, you see glimpses of Kapoor from <i>Rockstar</i> and in his physical transformation bits from <i>Barfi.</i> And in the film’s closing moments you glimpse the Kapoor from<i> Sanju</i>. Yet in <i>Animal</i>, Kapoor is more than the sum of these parts.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Thereafter are twists and turns in which logic has no play. The dialogue often ventures into pedestrian territory and the humour, at one place about underwear, is clearly of the toilet variety. The action, that drew whistles from a meagre crowd on an early winter morning show is the film’s clear winner. You will spot an armoured version of the Bat Mobile and also armies of Darth Vader look-alikes. But, after a while, one action scene will merge into another till it’s all a blur of blood.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Yes, it’s a banger when the identity of the villain and his connection to the family is revealed. Bobby Deol, enjoying a scintillating second lease of life in the Hindi film industry offers a memorable thirst trap moment. And gives the younger Kapoor a knock-for-knock, bare-bodied challenge.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><i>Animal</i> is Kapoor’s film. Where the dialogue does not work, it’s that hint of the unshed tear in his eyes and the tremor in his face that does. The elder Kapoor as the father who realises his son’s torment too late, is as dependable as always.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Rashmika Mandanna is effective as a woman conflicted, and kudos to the director for retaining her natural accent. Tripti Dimri is luminescent in a part that should not come as a surprise. But both are ultimately wasted in this saga of alpha males— a repeated reference in the film.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The cinematography shines at places — such as when the red of a carpet makes up for the blood that is yet to be spilt. But the music adds little, despite its stand-alone value.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><i>Animal </i>dangles the possibility of a sequel. And if it gets to that, make sure you stay off popcorn during the show. For the squeamish among us, it will taste of blood. That’s the gory power of this paisa vasool film, which requires more guts than rationale.&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Film: </b>Animal</p> <p><b>Language:</b> Hindi</p> <p><b>Director:</b> Sandeep Reddy Vanga</p> <p><b>Cast: </b>Ranbir Kapoor, Anil Kapoor, Bobby Deol, Rashmika Mandanna, Tripti Dimri, Shakti Kapoor, Prem Chopra &nbsp;</p> <p><b>Rating: </b>3.5/5</p> Mon Dec 04 13:01:18 IST 2023 -kaathal---the-core--review--this-mammootty-starrer-is-revolutio <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p><i>Taboo&nbsp;</i></p> <p><i>(plural taboos)</i></p> <p><i>A subject, word, or action that is avoided for religious or social reasons.</i></p> <p>(Apologies for the spoilers.)</p> <p>Sexuality has always been a touchy subject in our society, and, as an extension, in our films which, more often than not, hold a mirror to the world around us. The mainstream industry has often treated it as taboo, or ridiculed it with its caricaturish portrayal.</p> <p>The Hindi film industry had gems like<i> My Brother Nikhil</i> and <i>Aligarh</i>, and the odd strand in <i>Kapoor &amp; Sons</i>, which dealt with it, and more. But they have been few and far between.&nbsp;</p> <p>Down south, in the Malayalam film industry, which is often hailed for its progressive and realistic storylines and portrayal, too, there have been mainstream films like <i>Deshanadakili Karayarilla</i>, which have put the message across without frills. In fact, when Prithviraj Sukumaran and Nivin Pauly – both of who are stars in their own right – took the plunge with <i>Mumbai Police</i> and <i>Moothon</i>, it was a coming-of-age moment for the young brigade.</p> <p>But now they have a challenger. A certain 72-year-old. A legend, who could have easily followed in the footsteps of his contemporaries who are trying to outdo each other in the ‘crore club’ race. Instead, he is reinventing himself as an actor, one film at a time. Post pandemic, he has thrown caution to the winds and is on a streak like no other.</p> <p>He is Mammootty.</p> <p>If <i>Unda </i>heralded the ‘era’, <i>Bheeshma Parvam</i>, <i>Puzhu</i>, <i>Rorschach </i>and<i> Nanpakal Nerathu Mayakkam</i> brightened his aura. And with Jeo Baby’s <i>Kaathal – The Core</i>, he has just upped his game. Mathew Devassy (Mammootty) is a common man – worked in a cooperative bank, is a party worker, has a wife Omana (Jyothika) who is employed, a teenage daughter and an ageing father. But, right from the start, one can sense there is something simmering. Baby and the filmmaker, who shook us all with<i> The Great Indian Kitchen</i>, and his crew are at their best here, slowly but surely revealing the reason for the tension in the air. There’s an election to be fought and won, but Mathew and Omana are fighting their own silent battles. Soon, the battle lines become blurred, and it turns into a war against the society’s idea and interpretation of ‘taboo’.</p> <p>For a subject which is often misunderstood and misinterpreted in cinema, <i>Kaathal – The Core</i> gets full marks for its sensible and sensitive treatment. Take a bow, scriptwriters Paulson Skaria and Adarsh Sukumaran! In fact, it’s the first time Baby is directing a film scripted by another.</p> <p>For the music though, he chose to go with his trusted aide, Mathews Pulickan. Another great decision, we must say, as music plays a role as important as any other character in the film.</p> <p>Which brings us to the characters in <i>Kaathal – The Core</i>. It’s difficult to imagine anybody else in Mathew’s shoes once you have seen Mammootty in that role. The nuances, the body language, the voice modulations… the master is truly at work here.&nbsp;</p> <p>But, the pleasant surprise in the film is the support cast. In fact, to call the other actors the ‘support cast’, is an insult really. For instance, Sudhi as Thangan will blow your mind. A man of few words, Thangan’s fleeting exchanges with Mathew are a sight to behold. Talk about unearthing a gem!</p> <p>Admitted Jyothika brings in more star value than anything else. But she holds her own as the firm yet caring Omana. The language barrier is a bit of a stumbling block in the close-up scenes. As is the touch of melodrama right at the end, but it will be nitpicking to be honest.</p> <p><i>Kaathal – The Core </i>is a watershed moment in Malayalam cinema, much like The <i>Great Indian Kitchen</i>. Both Baby and Mammootty have shattered a glass ceiling, the sound of which, one hopes, will reverberate loudly in the society and for long.</p> <p><b style="font-size: 0.8125rem;">Film: Kaathal – The Core</b><br> </p> <p><b>Language: Malayalam</b></p> <p><b>Director: Jeo Baby</b></p> <p><b>Cast: Mammootty, Jyothika, Sudhi and others</b></p> <p><b>Rating: 4.5/5</b></p> Thu Nov 23 17:02:30 IST 2023 tiger-3-review-salman-and-katrina-deliver-best-movie-yrf-spy-universe <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>If there is one thing that you know heading into this movie, it is that both Tiger (Salman Khan) and Zoya (Katrina Kaif) will beat up bad guys with élan. They do. While Tiger hits hard, Zoya's style is more technical. Why is this relevant? Because the consistency in the fighting style of its main characters is perhaps the best thing about the Tiger franchise.<br> </p> <p>Right from <i>Ek Tha Tiger</i> (2012) to <i>Tiger 3</i>, Tiger and Zoya have progressed on the path dictated to by their core skill-sets. This approach lends itself brilliantly to the fight choreography in this movie. Particularly in the case of Zoya's fights—some of her moves are quite special. Katrina seems to be taking things up a level every time she plays this character. It is undoubtedly the best role of her career. And while her detractors may argue that the superstar has not had enough good roles, action is now very much a viable genre for Bollywood's leading ladies. And going by the proof of Zoya, no actress in India does it better than Katrina.</p> <p>Salman is taking a lot more hits than we are used to seeing. Perhaps it is meant to show that Tiger is no longer invincible. But, he is still unstoppable (mostly). Also, if Tiger had found a way to get out of all the situations he finds himself in, the plot would not have needed a cameo. So, just when all seems lost for our hero, a familiar face turns up to save the day. There are no prizes for guessing who it is given that it was basically announced as part of the dialogue during Tiger's cameo in <i>Pathaan</i> earlier this year. A well executed action set piece follows, along with a few jokes for good measure. From start to end, the fight choreography is top-notch in the film.</p> <p>But, as the movie moves into the second half, the action is surprisingly relegated to the background for a while. Given the fact that the hero of this story is known and loved for his heart and his brawn, more than his brain, it was slightly disappointing to see the film trying to be smarter than it needed to be. Our hero and villain (Emraan Hashmi as a disgraced former ISI agent) try to outsmart each other, but neither come out of it looking smart enough. And then they try to settle it in a fist fight. Why not just do that to begin with?</p> <p>The portion in the second half with all of the supposed twists and turns is the worst part of the movie. In fact, throughout the plot, the 'revelations' are utterly predictable. The villain's back story has been incorporated into the events of <i>Ek Tha Tiger</i>. It is not seamless, but it could have been messier. Despite some important villainous virtues, like patience and planning, the character is just not as menacing as the plot required it to be.</p> <p>Salman and Katrina do not leave much space for the supporting characters to shine. But Kumud Mishra is still notable, just like he was in <i>Tiger Zinda Hai</i> (2017). Revathi and Simran also do commendable jobs.</p> <p>Those who leave as soon as the movie ends stand to miss out on something big. Though it has already been leaked, it is worth waiting to see the post credit scene for yourself. While you wait, you can enjoy a beautifully shot song, which also gives Katrina the opportunity to once again show off her dancing skills.</p> <p>The third installment of the Tiger franchise is everything it promised to be. The only issue is that it tries to be more at times. However, it is still by far the best movie in the YRF Spy Universe, yet.</p> <p><b>Movie: Tiger 3</b></p> <p><b>Language: Hindi</b></p> <p><b>Cast: Salman Khan, Katrina Kaif, Emraan Hashmi, Kumud Mishra, Simran, Revathi</b></p> <p><b>Director: Maneesh Sharma</b></p> <p><b>Rating: 3/5</b></p> Sun Nov 12 18:53:19 IST 2023 pippa-film-review-a-well-scripted-war-drama-minus-the-frills <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p><i style="font-size: 0.8125rem;">Pippa </i>is a well-scripted and better-executed war film, minus the frills and fancy associated with usual Bollywood films from the genre. The soldiers, officers, revolutionaires and radicalists, all look and seem real. There's no heavyweightedness of stardom associated with the actors here and the narrative connects with the viewer right from the start, when the voiceover pulls you in while providing the context for what is to come.&nbsp;<br> </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><i>Pippa </i>paints a picture of battlefield valour that shines and sparkles against the backdrop of war, patriotism, nationalism and the fight against injustice. This is not just a story of men who fight for their land and the courage they display, but also that of their personal lives. Produced by Ronnie Screwvala's RSVP and Siddharth Roy Kapur's Roy Kapur Films, <i>Pippa </i>places the 'crusader,' the 'fighter,' 'the soldier' at the centre of the plot as he navigates violence, courage and death with aplomb.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Based on the landmark Battle of Garibpur in November 1971, the 140-minute-long <i>Pippa </i>is about three siblings - two army boys and their sister, who is recruited by India's spy agency to decipher wartime messages. And in that character of real-life war hero Captain Balli Singh is Ishaan Khattar; this really has to be his come-of-age role.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Inspired by the book 'The Burning Chaffees', screenwriters Ravindra Randhawa, Tanmay Mohan and the director have added drama and melodrama in good measure, but that never overshadows the narrative, only supplements it. Son of a martyr and younger brother of 1965 war hero Ram Mehta, Balli works with his commander, Major Daljit Singh Narag (Chandrachoor Rai) and the dynamics and equation between the two is real, rugged and raw.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>He is ably supported by Mrunal Thakur, as his code-breaker sister and Priyanshu Painyuli. The name <i>Pippa </i>refers to the 45 Cavalry's PT-76 battle tank.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The story is set in a time when India faces pressure from the influx of refugees as a result of Pakistan's ruthless Operation Searchlight. The Indian war room is made up of the then Prime Minister, Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw and a spy chief. All in all, <i>Pippa </i>is a good watch and a breath of fresh air in this genre.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Movie: Pippa</b></p> <p><b>Language: Hindi</b></p> <p><b>Cast: Ishaan Khatter, Mrunal Thakur, Priyanshu Painyuli, Soni Razdan</b></p> <p><b>Director: Raja Krishna Menon</b></p> <p><b>Rating: 3.5/5</b><br> </p> Fri Nov 10 18:13:26 IST 2023 jigarthanda-doublex-review-not-as-enjoyable-as-the-first-jigarthanda <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Karthik Subbaraj is known to be a trendsetter in Tamil cinema. In a recent press conference, he revealed that the script of <i>Jigarthanda DoubleX</i> has been inspired by the old Westerns.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>If Clint Eastwood appeared in a poster in the first promo for <i>Jigarthanda</i>, the sequel has maximum references to Clint Eastwood. Alias Caesar (Raghava Lawrence), is a huge Clint Eastwood fan. His theatre is named Clintis Talkies and he carries a camera gifted to him during his childhood, thinking it to be a gun.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Like the first installment, <i>Jigarthanda DoubleX</i> evolves around filmmaking with a gangster at the centre of it all. If <i>Jigarthanda</i> redefined the gangster genre in Tamil films, the sequel goes back to cinema and politics in the 1970s. A periodic action drama set in the 1970s, with <i>Jigarthanda DoubleX</i>, Subbaraj tells the story of tribals and links it with politics. The director is a fan of Rajinikanth and he tries to weave in the thoughts during the 70s and 80s. “Can’t a dark-skinned guy become a cinema hero,” he asks, and brings in the era of cinema in the 70s, taking a playful dig at the existing trends in today’s cinema.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The film opens with an elephant lying dead and a few policemen explaining to their higher official about a forest brigand Shetttani, who targets elephants, the local tribals and the policemen. But the movie isn't about Shetttani, it is about actor-politician Jayakodi. His political rival controls the theatres and enjoys respect in the party. Jayakodi plans to kill the four men who are his rival’s strength. Kirubakar (played by S. J. Suryah), a murderer in prison, is assigned to kill Alias Caesar, a gangster in Madurai.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Suryah as Kirubakar/Ray Dasan is fantastic. Both Suryah and Lawrence bring in much energy and intensity to their performances, although the latter's body language and actions may bore you a bit. Santhosh Narayan’s BGM adds strength to the film. However, there are too many plot points that confuse the audience as the film travels from one template to another, from the hills and tribals to gangsters to politicians and comes back to the hills.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>If you had watched the first chapter of <i>Jigarthanda</i> and expected something big from Subbaraj, you are likely to be disappointed.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Movie: Jigarthanda DoubleX</b></p> <p><b>&nbsp;</b></p> <p><b>Language: Tamil</b></p> <p><b>&nbsp;</b></p> <p><b>Director:Karthik Subburaj</b></p> <p><b>&nbsp;</b></p> <p><b>Cast: Raghava Lawrence, SJ Suryah, Naveen Chandra, Shine Tom Chacko, Nimisha Sajayan</b></p> <p><b>&nbsp;</b></p> <p><b>Stars : 2/5</b></p> <p><br> <br> </p> <p><br> <br> </p> Fri Nov 10 18:07:31 IST 2023 bandra-review-dileeps-action-flick-is-entertaining-but-forgettable <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p><i>Bandra </i>promised a lot of things—the return of <i>Ramaleela </i>duo Arun Gopy and Dileep and the Malayalam debut of popular actress Tamannaah Bhatia—packaged in an action flick set in 1988 Bombay. Dileep takes on a new look as the thuggish but righteous Alen Alexander Dominic aka Ala in the film written by Udaykrishna.</p> <p>His life takes a dramatic turn when he crosses paths with Bollywood superstar Tara Janaki (Tamannaah Bhatia). Their relationship brings him to Bombay where Ala comes face to face with villains of the Bombay underworld.</p> <p>The film begins when a young aspiring director, Sakshi (Mamta Mohandas) stumbles upon the suicide of Bollywood icon Janaki in her search for a compelling story. As she investigates the truth behind the tragedy, Sakshi encounters Mirchi (Kalabhavan Shajohn), one of Ala’s old friends. It is Mirchi who narrates the story of Tara and Ala. Predictably, this story is made into a film by Sakshi, resulting in a ‘movie-within-a-movie’ scenario.</p> <p>With a handful of good action sequences—the parallel fight sequence in the tunnel, in particular, is done really well—and big colourful dance numbers, <i>Bandra </i>is a decent film to watch on the big screen. It is the writing that disappoints by being unoriginal, dull and simply boring. The storyline, despite forcing ineffective plot twists, becomes predictable and leaves the audience wondering if they have seen this before.</p> <p>The story is stretched beyond its limit in the second half as the film seems reluctant to end, moving from one potential ending to another. Too many subplots and eye-roll-worthy twists and shock elements drag the story to an underwhelming conclusion.</p> <p>The acting performances from both Dileep and Tamannaah are good but not exceptional. It is worth adding that Dileep is at his best whenever there is a hint of humour to the larger-than-life heroism and swagger of Ala. Dino Morea is convincing as the menacing Bollywood villain dressed in stylish three-piece suits, if not a tad too typical.</p> <p>It is ironic that a film that begins by stating that a compelling story is the most significant aspect of good cinema is let down by the very lack of it. Overall, a dull script, decent performances from the cast and enticing action and dance sequences make Bandra a forgettable but somewhat entertaining action flick.</p> <p><b>Film: Bandra</b></p> <p><b>Director: Arun Gopy</b></p> <p><b>Cast: Dileep, Tamannaah Bhatia, Mamta Mohandas, Kalabhavan Shajohn</b></p> <p><b>Rating: 2.5/5</b></p> Fri Nov 10 16:44:11 IST 2023 killers-of-the-flower-moon-review-scorsese-dicaprio-combo-scores-yet-again <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>In 2017, writer David Grann of <i>The New Yorker</i> delivered an investigative gem—a 250-page yarn that shed new light on the serial killings of Osage tribesmen in Oklahoma, US, in the 1920s. At the time of the killings, the Osage Indians owned one of the largest oil deposits in the country. They let white oilmen lease land from them and extract oil for a dividend, and the resultant economic boom around their territory attracted characters honourable and dishonourable—from big-city businessman, engineers and financiers, to bootleggers, soothsayers, cowboys and fortune-hunters. The oil money made the Osage Nation unimaginably rich, but the tribesmen also began losing hold on their land.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>And then the murders started. Between 1920 and 1926, as many as 60 tribesmen were killed under suspicious circumstances. Years later, the Bureau of Investigations, the precursor to the FBI, would be called into the reservation, and its investigation would blow the lid off a white-supremacist conspiracy to kill Osage Indian landlords, deprive the community of its property rights, and steal its oil wealth.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b><a title="The real story behind Scorsese's 'Killers of the Flower Moon'" href="">ALSO READ:&nbsp;The real story behind Scorsese's 'Killers of the Flower Moon'</a></b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Grann called his book <i>Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI</i>. In the very first paragraph of its first chapter, he explained the meaning of the title. “In April, millions of tiny flowers spread over the blackjack hills and vast prairies in the Osage territory of Oklahoma,” he writes. “There are Johnny-jump-ups and spring beauties and little bluets. The Osage writer John Joseph Mathews observed that the galaxy of petals makes it look as if the ‘gods had left confetti’. In May, when coyotes howl beneath an unnervingly large moon, taller plants, such as spiderworts and black-eyed Susans, begin to creep over the tinier blooms, stealing their light and water. The necks of the smaller flowers break and their petals flutter away, and before long they are buried underground. This is why the Osage Indians refer to May as the time of the flower-killing moon.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The little bluets of Grann’s story, of course, are the Osage Indians; and the creepy spiderworts are the white settlers. Grann tells this grand tale of sociopathy from the perspective of Mollie Brown, a full-blooded Osage whose ancestors were, in the 1870s, driven from their lands in pastoral Kansas to the rocky Oklahoma reservation that was, at the time, thought to be worthless. He begins the story when Mollie is 33, and is happily married to a 28-year-old white man named Ernest Burkhart. The oil deposits had by then been found, and the first batch of wells dug. The Osages were beginning to understand the magic of money.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“The amount was initially for only a few dollars, but over time, as more oil was tapped, the dividends grew into the hundreds, then the thousands,” Grann writes. “And virtually every year the payments increased, like the prairie creeks that joined to form the wide, muddy Cimarron, until the tribe members had collectively accumulated millions and millions of dollars. (In 1923 alone, the tribe took in more than $30 million, the equivalent today of more than $400 million.) The Osage were considered the wealthiest people per capita in the world.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>But most fortunes come at a price. In the Osage’s case, it was death, intermarriage and the gradual depletion of their tribe. Wealthy Osages fall prey to diseases of the body and mysterious ailments of the mind. No cases are registered. In fact, there is no system to register cases, and nor is there a proper police department in the reservation to investigate the deaths. Age-old rituals and institutions that once protected the Osages from harm, and bound them together, are gradually replaced by an alien and skewed justice system. A system dominated by white prospectors and greedy bankers, all of whom are despots who feign benevolence. As Grann’s story progresses, Mollie discovers terrifying truths about the deaths in the community, and what they mean to her tribe, family and, above all, marriage.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>As a book, <i>Killers of the Flower Moon</i> is a tight little triumph of journalism. But the new film adaptation, which carries the same title and is directed by Martin Scorsese, is anything but tight. With screenwriter Eric Roth (<i>Forrest Gump</i>, <i>The Curious Case of Benjamin Button</i>), Scorsese has moulded the story into a three-and-a-half-hour film—the kind of sprawling epic that is best enjoyed when one is sprawled out on the sofa oneself, having watched the film at least once in theatres.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>A key departure from the book is that Scorsese makes Ernest, Mollie’s husband who is revealed to be on the dark side, the main character. This poses a challenge to the audience: It would have been fairly easy for a non-Osage viewer to identify with Mollie, but with the “handsome devil” Ernest as the protagonist, an average viewer would have to really work hard to not empathise with a gambling drunkard with no scruples.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Ernest is played with much relish by Leonardo DiCaprio, whose magnetism Scorsese last used for a similar storytelling provocation—<i>The Wolf of Wall Street</i>. Also, with Ernest in the central role, Scorsese does away with the book’s air of murder mystery and the FBI angle, and parachutes the viewer right into sordid centre of the white supremacist plot to eliminate the Osage Indians.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The opening scenes show Ernest returning from World War I to his uncle William “King” Hale (Robert De Niro, matching the younger actor toe to toe), a charismatic businessman-preacher that the Osage Indians consider their greatest benefactor. Even before the film’s first quarter is over, Ernest and Mollie are married and the viewer is made fully aware of the diabolical plot at work.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Not that Mollie is sidelined. Played by Lily Gladstone, Mollie is a pillar of the community. In the old days, Osage clans had groups called Travellers in the Mist taking the lead whenever the tribe was undergoing upheavals and venturing into unfamiliar territory. Mollie is a modern Traveller in the Mist, although she realises rather too late that it was her marriage that had been the mist that blocked her vision all along.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The strong trifecta of lead performances are complemented by a delightful character ensemble. There is, among others, Scott Shepherd as Byron Burkhart, Ernest’s vile younger brother; Brendan Fraser as Hale’s pushy attorney; and Jesse Plemons as BoI agent Thomas White who cracks the case. Plemons was originally offered the role of Ernest, while DiCaprio was meant to play White. A more naturalistic and inward actor than DiCaprio, it is hard not to wonder what Plemons would have done with the role.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>One person that Scorsese would not have dared substitute in this film would have been editor Thelma Schoonmaker, with whom he has made 21 films in 56 years. A record three of them have won Oscars for best editing. Having achieved in this film a splicing texture that is as soft as moonlight, <i>Killers of The Flower Moon</i> marks their partnership’s zenith. (The editing pyrotechnics of the last half-hour of <i>Oppenheimer</i> is certainly more dazzling, but what Schoonmaker and Scorsese have accomplished with this film could well become the lasting benchmark.)</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The score by Robbie Robertson, marrying country and cowboyish elements into American Indian rhythms, is outstanding for the sense of foreboding it brings to the proceedings. (Robertson, too, had long been a Scorsese collaborator—<i>The Irishman</i> being their previous project. He died on August 9, aged 80.)</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The most innovative part in the whole film comes at the end. Instead of showing the obligatory captions about what ultimately happened to each of the principal characters, Scorsese stages a radio broadcast-like epilogue to the plot. And he himself appears in a cameo. The short gig may be tonally loud, but it somehow fits nicely with the objectives that Scorsese is clearly trying to achieve with this film.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Even better, most Scorsese films tend to grow on you with each viewing. <i>Killers of the Flower Moon</i> should be no different, even for those who do not like long movies.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Film: Killers of the Flower Moon</b></p> <p><b>Director: Martin Scorsese</b></p> <p><b>Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Lily Gladstone, Robert De Niro, Jesse Plemons and others</b></p> <p><b>Rating: 4/5</b></p> Sat Oct 28 09:46:21 IST 2023 12th-fail-review-a-heartwarming-tale-of-trials-hope-and-triumph <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p><i>12th Fail</i>, as the title suggests, is a no-nonsense, highly gripping, and heartwarming real-life story of a student from a Hindi medium school in a remote village in Madhya Pradesh who failed his Class XII exams, and yet, stays the course, persevering through battles and failed attempts, to finally crack the coveted UPSC examination, and become an IPS officer.&nbsp;</p> <p>Vikrant Massey, as the student Manoj Kumar Sharma, has delivered a compelling performance that speaks straight to the viewers. The film beautifully captures the journey of a determined, ambitious, and sharp student from the unforgiving wilds of the Chambal to the national capital’s UPSC building, and in the process, fills the viewers with overwhelming emotions of hope and belief. How can anyone in such challenging circumstances be so hopeful of a bright future? More so, how does a sixteen-year-old emerge from the circumstances that cripple him to rise to the zenith and elevate his family's social strata forever? The answer to the question is what the film is all about.&nbsp;</p> <p>The supporting cast too, is equally believeable and apt—Medha Shankar as Manoj's supportive girlfriend, Anantvijay Joshi as his friend, and Anshumaan Pushkar as a peer—bringing in a much-needed authenticity and genuineness to their characters, making the screenplay so much more enriching.&nbsp;</p> <p>As producer-director Vidhu Vinod Chopra celebrates his 45th year in Bollywood, <i>12th Fail </i>clearly stands out as one of his most promising projects till date; one which will remain evergreen no matter the year or the era in which one watches it. Known for some of the biggest blockbusters, including <i>Kareeb</i>, starring Bobby Deol and Shabana, this one adds yet another feather to Chopra's streak of films with a strong sense of rootedness and realism.&nbsp;</p> <p>The music is hummable and remains with you long after you have watched the film. All those who have ever been to Delhi's Mukherjee Nagar, which is known to be a hub of IAS aspirants, know the kind of grind one goes through while preparing for the Indian civil services. Students coming from across the country to Delhi, living on rent, sharing two rooms with six others, making schedules and timetables, and solving mock tests, all in the hope of cracking the prelims and then the mains. Many such students flunk the interview only to restart the process again another year. These are stories that will resonate with many - those who made it, but especially more so with those who didn't.&nbsp;</p> <p>This story of struggle is also one of hope, and that, in itself, is reason enough to watch this film.&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Movie: 12th Fail</b></p> <p><b>Language: Hindi</b></p> <p><b>Directed by: Vidhu Vinod Chopra</b></p> <p><b>Cast: Vikrant Massey, Medha Shankar, Anantvijay Joshi, Anshumaan Pushkar, Priyanshu Chatterjee, Geeta Agarwal Sharma, Harish Khanna, Vikas Divyakirti</b></p> <p><b>Rating: 3.5 stars<br> </b></p> Fri Oct 27 20:23:18 IST 2023 tejas-movie-review-this-kangana-ranaut-iaf-action-directed-by-sarvesh-mewara-flick-is-all-style-and-little-substance <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Sarvesh Mewara’s <i>Tejas </i>starring Kangana Ranaut strives to tell a story of courage, sacrifice and patriotism but falls flat with its lacklustre storyline and underwhelming action sequences.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The plot revolves around the Indian Air Force Officer Tejas Gill played by Kangana Ranaut. Tejas has dreamed of becoming a fighter pilot and serving her nation since she was a little girl. Fiercely patriotic and brave, Tejas sets out on a high-risk assignment to rescue an Indian spy taken hostage by a terrorist organisation in Pakistan.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Through aptly spaced flashbacks Mewara gradually unravels Tejas’ personal tragedy to contextualise her determination and rage. Even so, the plot feels thin and devoid of any real complexity.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The marker of any strong action film is a compelling antagonist, for the hero is only as good as the villain. The terrorists of <i>Tejas </i>are one-dimensional -- weak and unrealistically foolish. Thus, needless to say, they are easily defeated by the protagonist.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>It's not just the villains who meekly wither away in <i>Tejas</i>’ aura. In an effort to keep the spotlight on Kangana, the rest of the characters exist solely in the margins with very little impact on the plot. Unfortunately for the film, it is when Tejas is in the company of the other characters—her father, friends and love interest— that she seems the most nuanced.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>To her credit, Kangana puts on a fairly convincing performance, often let down by the tepid storytelling. Anshul Chauhan who plays the co-piolet is a breath of fresh air amidst the blaring background score and hollow, booming one-liners. There is no lack of swagger as well as themes of women empowerment when Tejas and her co-pilot Afiya lead the rescue mission and emerge successful. However, overall Tejas ends up being all style and no real substance.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><i>Tejas</i> is most disappointing towards the end. The fight sequence in the air defies all logic and the visual effects looked poorly done. Each time a threat arises, it is put down by Tejas without her even breaking a sweat.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The film tries to tackle too many issues all at once — from stopping suicide bombers at the Ram Mandir to rescuing hostages in Pakistan and counter-attacking a terrorist base.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>For a film that seeks to evoke goosebumps and appeal to patriotic sentiments, <i>Tejas </i>fails to tug at the heartstrings. The dialogues are hollow and often bear no resemblance to how people actually speak. The high stakes do not feel convincing and the adversities never appear insurmountable. The underwhelming action sequences do very little to salvage the film.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Film: Tejas</b></p> <p><b>Language: Hindi</b></p> <p><b>Director: Sarvesh Mewara</b></p> <p><b>Cast: Kangana Ranaut, Anshul Chauhan, Varun Mitra</b></p> <p><b>Rating: 2.5/5</b></p> Fri Oct 27 18:15:32 IST 2023 leo-review-old-vijay-in-old-bottle <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p><i>A History of Violence.</i></p> <p>A violent past. A sabbatical, either forced or by choice. A trigger. And then, the return. This template in Indian cinema is now as old as the industry itself.</p> <p>To his credit, Lokesh Kanagaraj admits at the outset that his Vijay-starrer <i>Leo </i>is ‘inspired’ by <i>A History of Violence </i>– a graphic novel in the 1990s, which was adapted into a Hollywood thriller by David Cronenberg in 2005. Talk of inspiring generations! Throw in a family in the midst, and you think you have the perfect recipe—for a disaster or a masterpiece.</p> <p>Kanagaraj had whipped up blockbusters with a similar recipe in 2019 – Karthi-starrer <i>Kaithi </i>– and in 2022 – Kamal Haasan-starrer <i>Vikram</i>.<i> Leo</i> is the third instalment in the now-famous Lokesh Cinematic Universe (LCU). The canvas has been expanding with each film, with <i>Leo </i>setting the stage for, probably, the grand finale.</p> <p>But, how do you make it large? By bringing in more big names? By weaving in more drama? By multiplying violence and bloodshed? Kanagaraj does these all in <i>Leo</i>, but still falls short of engaging the audience the way he did in <i>Kaithi </i>or <i>Vikram</i>. A story of substance is the major ingredient missing in his recipe this time around.</p> <p>With names as big as Sanjay Dutt, Arjun, Trisha, along with none other than ‘Thalapathy Vijay’, <i>Leo </i>should have been an edge-of-the-seat thriller. Instead, what we get is a string of violent and bloody albeit well-choreographed fight scenes, interspersed with doses of lukewarm family drama. The mantra nowadays seems to be more the blood and gore, more the frenzy and mass appeal.</p> <p>There are others like Anurag Kashyap, Babu Antony and Madonna Sebastian in blink-and-you-miss roles. Most of the character building seems forced. As does the LCU link.</p> <p>Vijay, though, shines. As café owner Parthiban and Leo Das. It is nothing that he hasn’t done earlier, but his intensity and energy need to be applauded. In the midst of chopping and bashing the goons, there are instances, where Vijay lets his emotions do the talking. The beginning of the second half is almost a tribute to the vintage Vijay, which will thrill his die-hard fans. Anirudh Ravichander’s beats take care of that.</p> <p>Arjun, as Harold Das, stands out in the limited screen time he gets. His swag and punches are a delight to watch. This when he is rubbing shoulders with the King of Swag, Dutt. But the Bollywood star is mostly wasted in the one-man show. Trisha, on the other hand, gets a meatier role, but is resigned to playing the perennial wife in distress, waiting for her husband to save her.</p> <p><i>Leo</i> is probably the weakest film in the LCU. Despite the highly stylised action sequences, the clichés in the script prove to be its biggest stumbling blocks. Nothing good ever comes of violence, it is said. Touché.</p> <p><b>Film: Leo</b></p> <p><b>Language: Tamil</b></p> <p><b>Director: Lokesh Kanagaraj</b></p> <p><b>Cast: Vijay, Trisha, Sanjay Dutt, Arjun, Gautham Vasudev Menon</b></p> <p><b>Rating: 3/5</b></p> Fri Oct 20 12:11:57 IST 2023 dhak-dhak-review-this-story-of-female-camaraderie-will-make-you-laugh-and-cry <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Here is a thrilling ride at full speed you absolutely don't want to miss. <i>Dhak Dhak</i> puts the spotlight on biker women and it does that quite efficiently. The women in this film, all four of them—Fatima Sana Shaikh, Ratna Pathak Shah, Dia Mirza and Sanjana Sanghi—are perfectly cast for their characters; each of them bring on board a certain authenticity and vibe, that holds the viewer in rapt attention.</p> <p>The storyline with all its well fleshed-out character arcs is foolproof, creative and gripping and the screenplay does full justice to it as it brings it from paper to screen. All four women come from diverse backgrounds and that one element which binds them all together is a yearning for adventure biking.</p> <p>They march together on a road trip to Khardung La point near Leh, known to be one of the world's highest motorable passes in Ladakh. This film is not just about that trip but more about how they all get together on that trip, rather, how, that one trip is a testament to their grit, an unflinching determination and the ambition to pursue their dreams, which remains at the back of their minds even as they are consumed by other worldly cares including domesticity.</p> <p>Let's start with the ever astute Ratna Pathak Shah who essays the role of sexagenarian grandmother Manpreet Kaur Sethi aka Mahi, who feels devoid of love and attention. But that does not bother her as much as that nagging pull of the heart that keeps reminding her to fulfil her desire of riding a bullet on Khardung La Pass.</p> <p>Then there is Dia Mirza as Uzma who feels stifled by her burqa and a dominating husband, but is a pro at fixing bikes and understanding the motor mechanics. Fatima Sana Shaikh as SKY, a YouTuber, is ever charming and relatable. She tries to battle cyber harassment and the fallout of a broken relationship and Sanjana Sanghi as Manjari is a young, wondrous kid who is just discovering the pleasures of life, particularly biking, in the shadow of a single mother. The stories of all these four women are beautifully weaved together with layers of supporting narratives, through an equally convincing supporting cast.</p> <p>Writer and director Tarun Dudeja has ensured that the discourse around patriarchy does not hold centrestage in this cleverly written plot. There are ots of graffiti, murals and street art which the filmmaker uses to subtly send across the message he wants to. Friendship, camaraderie, love, hate, anger, envy, everything is visible in the dynamics between the four women and their banter is extremely endearing. It seems organic and natural, despite the age gap between them in real life.</p> <p>Shah aces as a Punjabi woman who is straddling the time gap between conservatism and modernism, Dia brings a freshness and calmness to her role as Uzma and is literally relatable as the girl next door who might be an ace biker. All in all, together, these women make us laugh, cry and cheer for them in equal measure. <i>Dhak Dhak</i> is a must watch.</p> <p><b>Film: Dhak Dhak</b></p> <p><b>Director: Tarun Dudeja</b></p> <p><b>Cast: Ratna Pathak Shah, Dia Mirza, Fatima Sana Shaikh and Sanjana Sanghi</b></p> <p><b>Rating: 4/5</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Fri Oct 13 12:50:06 IST 2023 mission-raniganj-review-an-engaging-thriller-with-some-over-the-top-drama <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Way back in 1989, Additional Chief Mining Engineer Jaswant Singh Gill led a rescue operation to evacuate 65 mine workers out of a flooded coal mine in West Bengal's Raniganj. The task was so challenging, dangerous and a near-impossibility, that Gill's daredevilry became a legend in itself.</p> <p>In <i>Mission Raniganj</i>, Akshay Kumar plays Gill, in a script that aims to chronicle the story of the braveheart who believed that even if one worker was alive down under, it was his duty to save him. When almost everyone had given up on the thought of their survival, Gill followed his conviction that the men might be awaiting help and that without having seen with his own eyes he could not conclude that they were dead. The rescue operation which went on for three days, became significantly historical, and one of the bravest rescue operations in the country.</p> <p> The film aims to narrate this story, which it does beautifully, but not without its over-the-top 'chaotic drama' that is characteristic of every Akshay Kumar film.</p> <p>The plot is highly engrossing but the screenplay by Vipul Rawal lacks the punch to keep one hooked throughout. Dance sequences are loud and flashy, and at times, too many characters occupy the screen space leading to chaos and confusion. Yet, director Tinu Suresh Desai tries to keep the central narrative going strong and Kumar's larger than life persona adds heft to Gill's character.</p> <p>The first half is dedicated to explaining the entire structure and framework of the mines, at a reasonably good pace that does not bore you out. The second half is rather slow, and by the end of the film, one comes out thinking that this was an entirely one man driven operation, and not a team effort by everyone involved including government agencies. In terms of his own character, Kumar does exceedingly well but everyone else seems to be playing second fiddle to him, in the film.</p> <p>Supporting cast is stellar—there's Kumud Mishra in the role of a senior mining officer who works tirelessly alongside Gill sifting through government procedures in a bid to get things going, then there is also the highly able Pawan Malhotra as T.P. Bindal, a 'jugadu' who has a welding workshop. Dibyendu Bhattacharya is convincing as the pessimist and cantankerous mining officer who is against this rescue mission.</p> <p>There is no doubt that <i>Mission Raniganj</i> is a highly absorbing and engaging thriller taken from a true story, just that, if we were to ignore Kumar's imposing persona that largely dominates the narrative, we'd appreciate the storyline much more.</p> <p>Yet, one cannot deny the beautifully portrayed steely resolve of which Gill became known for, post his success with the rescue mission. Kumar internalises that emotion, beautifully. He underplays the heroism and appears very close to the &quot;real hero&quot; he essays in the film. Parineeti Chopra who plays Gill's wife (Nirdosh Gill) hardly has anything to do in the film.</p> <p>Although there are several forgetful moments in the film, it never goes astray; it largely maintains the focus on the human tragedy in question. This story of human triumph is overall, an engaging experience.</p> <p><b>Movie: Mission Raniganj</b></p> <p><b>Director: Tinu Suresh Desai</b></p> <p><b>Cast: Akshay Kumar, Kumud Mishra, Pawan Malhotra, Dibyendu Bhattacharya, Parineeti Chopra</b></p> <p><b>Rating: 3.5/ 5</b></p> Fri Oct 06 13:48:24 IST 2023 chaaver-review-this-hard-hitting-political-drama-is-a-story-of-two-halves <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Kannur has long been a hotbed of political violence in Kerala. The political violence in this Malabar district, ironically home to an ancient folk ritual called <i>theyyam</i>, which symbolises divinity in humanity, is closely intertwined with the class and caste dynamics of the region. The violence and murders in Kannur, carried out in the name of party and ideology, as well as the subsequent retaliations, have been the subject of multiple films in Mollywood over the past four decades. Tinu Pappachan's third film, <i>Chaaver</i>, also utilises this familiar theme to deliver a stylish action thriller. It follows the narrative of how innocent lives, especially those of marginalised sections, become inadvertently entangled in the violence perpetrated by politicians, as seen in films like <i>Eeda</i>, which also used Kannur politics as its central theme. What sets <i>Chaaver </i>apart is the director's decision to treat it in a highly stylised manner while exploring <i>theyyam</i> as a narrative device to convey the futility of violence.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The term &quot;<i>chaaver</i>&quot; refers to those who are deployed on the frontlines, or martyrs. The film revolves around four &quot;party workers&quot; who come together from different places to carry out a murder assigned by a party leader. The film begins with the group brutally killing a 24-year-old youth. Ashokan (played by Kunchacko Boban), a hardline party member, leads the group. During the operation, Ashokan sustains severe injuries. Unable to seek medical attention at a hospital without raising suspicions, the group turns to a young medical student (Arjun Ashokan) for help. Without fully comprehending the predicament, the medical student offers his assistance. The film then portrays the group's journey for survival, leading them to realise how they have become pawns in the hands of powerful leaders.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The film does not explicitly mention the political party to which the murderers belong, but there are enough instances in the film to indicate the party or ideology being referred to. The film strongly conveys the idea that the &quot;party&quot; is controlled by inhumane and powerful men who exploit the poor and marginalised for their vested interests. It wouldn't be surprising if one interprets <i>Chaaver</i> as writer Joy Mathew's attempt to convey his personal politics (and criticism of a particular party) through cinema.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>However, one issue this reviewer noted was the predictability of the plot in the third act. Also, the dialogues, also written by Mathew, were subpar at certain points. Inconsistencies in the Kannur slang, particularly in Ashokan's delivery, were also evident.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Overall, <i>Chaaver </i>excels on the technical front. Pappachan is a filmmaker who has already demonstrated his prowess in crafting films that may lack substance but not style. Compared to his last two movies, <i>Swathanthryam Ardharathriyil</i> and <i>Ajagajantharam,</i> <i>Chaaver</i> boasts a stronger plot with standout moments. Pappachan, along with cinematographer Jinto George, capitalises on these moments, elevating them with their superior visual sense. The film's first half is tightly edited and visually captivating, offering a one-of-a-kind interval block.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>However, in the second half, the movie undergoes a shift - from a political thriller to a survival thriller. It struggles to maintain its pace. An extended gunfight scene close to the climax hinders the film's ability to provide a satisfying conclusion that resonates with the audience. Justin Varghese's music remains captivating as ever, but in the mentioned gunfight sequence, it becomes monotonous and grating.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The film marks Pappachan's third collaboration with Antony Varghese (Pepe). Despite having limited number of scenes, his character plays a crucial role in the overall narrative. Boban delivers a commendable performance as a devoted party worker willing to go to any lengths for the &quot;party&quot;. Manoj K.U. and Sajin Gopu also portray their roles effectively. However, a loosely constructed third act becomes the film's primary drawback.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Pappachan, a filmmaker who has assisted Lijo Jose Pellissery, naturally incorporates elements reminiscent of the latter's films into his own work. Interestingly, certain aspects from movies like <i>Jallikkettu</i> and <i>Churuli</i> can be observed being repurposed by Pappachan in <i>Chaaver</i>.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>A tightly woven and more engaging third act would have taken <i>Chaaver</i> to the next level. It's highly probable that the film may face criticism from political quarters and supporters, especially upon its release on OTT platforms.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Film: Chaaver</b></p> <p><b>Language: Malayalam</b></p> <p><b>Director: Tinu Pappachan</b></p> <p><b>Cast: Kunchacko Boban, Arjun Ashokan, Antony Varghese and others</b></p> <p><b>Rating: 3/5</b></p> Thu Oct 05 15:46:51 IST 2023 the-vaccine-war-review-stellar-performances-elevate-an-engaging-portrayal-of-the-pandemic <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>In 2021, Dr Balram Bhargava, the then director general of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) which was handling all communication and research around Covid-19 in the pandemic years, published a book titled,<i> Going Viral - Making of Covaxin: The Inside Story.</i></p> <p>The book was a tribute to all those involved in the making of Covaxin—India's indigenous vaccine to fight the novel coronavirus that had wreaked havoc in India and the world. It was an ode to the entire medical fraternity that was involved in the making of the vaccine and the frontliners who played a commendable role in ensuring that the dose reached the last man standing, in the remotest of places across the country. </p> <p>However, it failed to talk about lapses in communication, the critical arguments that questioned the efficacy, impact and the sheer possibility of developing a vaccine in such a short span of time.</p> <p>Likewise, Vivek Agnihotri's latest film, <i>The Vaccine War,</i> too, toes a similar line. It highlights the seven-month journey that it took for Indian researchers and scientists to bring out an indigenous vaccine, and that it does in a convincing and engrossing way. But it fails to address the other pertinent aspects.</p> <p>In an earlier interview to THE WEEK, Dr Pragya Yadav, lead scientist at ICMR's National Institute of Virology which was the foremost institution in India to crack the genetic code of the novel coronavirus in India, had recalled the &quot;nightmarish nights&quot; during the initial days of the pandemic when an all-women team at the NIV would spend day and night at the institute in a bid to get cracking on the slightest clues that came in with the first patients landing in India from abroad. This has been beautifully and heartwarmingly captured in the film, and one really gets a good glimpse into how life was back then for our leading researchers and scientists, when the pressure to contain the virus and its spread was at its peak.</p> <p>However, going forward, the question that remains on the top of our minds is—what really happened? Was this a lab leak? A natural virus transmitted by bats? What really happened? These questions are entirely missing from the narrative.</p> <p>The portrayal of the media in its coverage of the pandemic and vaccine development does not come across as convincing, and feels as if there was only all-pervading sensationalism everywhere, which is a biased viewpoint. In a bid to highlight the scientific community's exemplary achievements, the then prevailing mood across the country has been shown to be dipped in 'negativity' and 'all pervading pessimism,' that undermines the efforts and capability of its leading researchers. This again, might not be entirely true.</p> <p>In its story-telling approach, the film offers a rewarding cinematic experience because it entertains and engrosses the viewer. Acting is stellar and the music is apt.</p> <p>In the role of Dr Priya Abraham, the head at NIV, Pallavi Joshi is convincing. But as a Malayali, she falters. Abraham's mallu accent is difficult to match; yet, in the hat of a scientist, Joshi pulls off the part well.</p> <p>Raima Sen, in the role of a fake news champion, nails the part. Girija Oak, in the character of Dr Nivedita gives us a glimpse into the lives of the frontline medical workers who braved it all. The film stays clear of any reference to the part played by the minorities in spreading the virus, viz, the Tablighi Jamaat, a religious congregation that took place at Delhi's Nizamuddin Markaz Mosque in early March 2020 and was termed to be a super spreader event. Rather the film mentions how the Kumbh Mela celebrations and rallies during that time added to the spread during the Delta (third) wave.</p> <p>The film makes its pro-government stance clear in numerous places, unapologetically. There is Dr Bhargava (played by Nana Patekar) praising the PM saying he is “pro-science”.</p> <p>As a film, <i>The Vaccine</i> War is highly watchable; but, it is definitely not an unbiased portrayal of what happened.</p> <p><b>Movie: The Vaccine War</b></p> <p><b>Director: Vivek Agnihotri</b></p> <p><b>Cast: Nana Patekar, Pallavi Joshi, Raima Sen, Girija Oak, Anupam Kher</b></p> <p><b>Rating: 3/5</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Thu Sep 28 17:03:51 IST 2023 kannur-squad-review-this-mammootty-starrer-is-a-blend-of-both-worlds <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>‘<i>Mridhu Bhave Dhrida Kruthye’</i>. Soft in temperament, yet firm in action.</p> <p>- motto of Kerala Police.</p> <p>Khaki and the Malayalam film industry have a history. On the silver screen, that is. Bharathchandran IPS and Inspector Balram – immortalised by actors Suresh Gopi and Mammootty – are household names for any average Malayali.</p> <p>But such larger-than-life portrayal of superheroes in uniform saw a tectonic shift with the release of Abrid Shine’s Nivin Pauly-starrer <i>Action Hero Biju</i> (2016), which showcased the trials and tribulations of an average policeman. It was a trendsetter of sorts, spawning a string of realistic investigative films involving humans in uniform, and staying true to the motto of Kerala Police. Films like <i>Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum</i>, <i>Unda</i>, <i>Nayattu</i>, <i>Kuttavum Shikshayum </i>have been a welcome change.</p> <p>It is to this genre Roby Varghese Raj’s <i>Kannur Squad</i> belongs. But it was also the debutant filmmaker’s biggest challenge – to retain the novelty factor. The film is inspired by a real-life police team with the same name, put together by former Kannur SP Sreejith. Mammootty essays the role of ASI George Martin who leads the team of four – the others being Jayan (Rony David), Shafi (Shabareesh Varma) and Jose (Azeez Nedumangad) – which investigates a high-profile murder case, which takes them on a cat-and-mouse chase across the country.</p> <p>The trailer had invoked comparisons with Rajeev Ravi’s <i>Kuttavum Shikshayum, </i>which had a similar storyline. One cannot deny the similarities, but the writers (one being the actor, Rony David) have ensured these are kept to a minimum. One may even be reminded of the Tamil flick <i>Theeran Adhigaaram Ondru</i> but it stands apart because of the treatment of the protagonist.</p> <p>This is where <i>Kannur Squad</i> breaks free from the pack. The presence of a veteran like Mammootty at the forefront, takes the film a notch higher. While <i>Kuttavum Shikshayum </i>was too realistic (and, perhaps, flat) to digest for some, <i>Kannur Squad</i> has sequences – the fight scenes, in particular - which raise the tempo of the film every now and then. Sushin Shyam’s pulsating background score and music help, of course. There are shades of the brilliant Mammootty-starrer <i>Unda</i> in <i>Kannur Squad</i> but ASI George Martin is not SI Manikandan. With the latest flick, the legendary actor has continued his impressive run post the pandemic, which has seen gems like <i>Nanpakal Nerathu Mayakkam</i>, <i>Puzhu</i>, <i>Rorschach</i> and <i>Bheeshma Parvam.</i></p> <p>But it’s not a Mammootty show all the way. The next character of substance is easily CPO Jayan, which Rony has written for himself. He is temperamental, flawed but as real as any other man next door. The tension in the team because of him smoulders like a dying ember before bursting into flames at a crucial juncture in the film. Azeez and Shabareesh, too, have done complete justice to their characters. Another actor who deserves a special mention is Arjun Radhakrishnan. If Shyam in <i>Dear Friend</i>&nbsp;was a spark, Ameer in <i>Kannur Squad</i> is fire. Watch out for him.</p> <p>There are hardly any female characters in the film, but it works in the film’s favour.</p> <p>The script may seem cliched (and flawed) at times, but it succeeds in holding the viewer's attention. The portrayal of efforts in zeroing down on the criminals in <i style="font-size: 0.8125rem;">Kannur Squad</i> is mind-boggling. It is through such films a layman understands the struggles of the police to crack a case. Not every mission is a success, but they have to stay firm.</p> <p><b>Film: Kannur Squad</b></p> <p><b>Language: Malayalam</b></p> <p><b>Director: Roby Varghese Raj</b></p> <p><b>Cast: Mammootty, Rony David, Azeez Nedumangad, Shabareesh Varma and others</b></p> <p><b>Rating: 3.5/5</b></p> Thu Sep 28 17:21:50 IST 2023 jaane-jaan-review-this-murder-mystery-is-worth-a-re-watch <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p><i>Jaane Jaan</i> is an engrossing murder mystery, with a difference. And that difference is in the way it is packaged. At the centre of the story, obviously, is a murder, but woven around it are compelling narratives of obsessive, possessive love, flirtatious romance, betrayal, friendship, and loads of suspenseful drama. This is a love triangle cum crime thriller-cum murder mystery, based on the famous and very gripping novel 'Devotion of Suspect X' by Keigo Higashino.<br> <br> The entire narrative is led by three main characters, all of whom are significant and integral to the story. First, Kareena Kapoor's character Sonia/Maya D'Souza is that of an estranged wife and single mother of a teenage daughter. She runs a cafe in the picturesque small town of Kalimpong. She left her abusive husband of 14 years to lead a peaceful life in this quaint town. But things turn awry when the husband returns to find her and threatens to exploit their daughter for money. That night, in self-defense, D'Souza kills her husband. Helping her dispose of the body and dodge police enquiry is Jaideep Ahlawat's Naren, a math professor who is in love with D'Souza. He stalks her, eerily listens in to her everyday conversations by plugging in a microphone through the walls, and visits her daily at her cafe but never directly expresses his feelings towards her. That is until he sees her murder her husband. Then comes in the police in the form of the very talented Vijay Verma, whose job is to look for Dsouza's husband who also happens to be a sub-inspector.<br> <br> Now, as the investigation proceeds, newer details come to light, and at all times we remain with the characters; engrossed and waiting to see what happens next.<br> <br> <i>Jaane Jaan</i> is a very interesting film which is worth a re-watch. The cast has given stellar performances and each one of them is believable and relatable.<br> <br> <b>Movie: Jaane Jaan</b></p> <p><b>Directed by: Sujoy Ghosh</b></p> <p><b>Starring: Kareena Kapoor Khan, Jaideep Ahlawat, Vijay Varma</b></p> <p><b>Rating: 4 on 5</b><br> <br> </p> Thu Sep 21 21:59:31 IST 2023 jawan-review-loads-and-loads-of-shah-rukh-khan-two-actually-yet-no-overdose <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Three and a half hours of ‘Jawan’ offers full entertainment and more. There are takeaway lessons, advice, emotions, humour, dance and loads of drama. Beyond that, there's loads and loads of Shah Rukh Khan, two of them actually; yet, not an overdose. Jawan is the kind of film you watch and forget about where you are and what time it is. This is the kind of movie that offers escapism at its best. The film takes up real issues that are timely and relevant and sends across a strong political message that makes it a film rooted to the times.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>At the heart of the film is a father-son duo - the father is Vikram Rathore an ex-army officer and the latter, Azad, is a jail superintendent who also doubles up as a Robin Hood-cum-activist. Both, exemplary daredevils, profess in their own ways a deep love for the country and take it upon themselves to fight the corrupt and the venal. Although the story in itself might not seem novel or new, what lifts it is the way it is packaged and delivered on screen.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Jailer Azad has a team of women prisoners and together they take up one heist after the other, all of which make for a thoroughly enjoyable watch. It is a reminder of SRK's ‘Chak De’ in which he is a coach to a team of women hockey players. Azad's pairing with Nayanthara and Vikram Rathore, the older SRK's pairing with Deepika Padukone, work beautifully and help in taking the story further. One has to admire the casting choices in this film and the meticulously written script in which subtle references are made to other classic SRK films (Kaveri Amma from ‘Swades, Priyamani from his Chennai Express and more). One strategic choice made in Jawan, in a bid to bring in the huge fanbase in the South, has been the roping in of South stars such as Nayanthara and Vijay Sethupathi; the latter plays the bad wolf here in the role of a menacing arms dealer-cum-businessman whose wealth fuels the machinery of the government in power.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>One thing that we do not want to take with us from Jawan is its music. It is neither hummable nor colourful. The dance sequences seem extra-long at times. Yet, the film does keep us hooked right till the end; when Sanjay Dutt walks in as an Onam-loving officer and both SRKs come together to give us a jaw-dropping dollop of entertainment.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Dialogues such as, 'Bete se nahin Baap se baat karo,' 'Jab main Villain Banta Hoon, Toh Achhe Achhe Hero bhi nahin tik Paate,' and more remind you of the SRK magic, his magnetism and aura and that undying charm that has continued to entertain us over the years. When he exhorts the audience to use that forefinger as their most important weapon when it comes to choosing the right government, we know for sure that 'Pathaan,' has returned to the screens to reclaim his identity as a loud and proud Indian. The audience in the theatre cheering for him out aloud was a testimony to that.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>&nbsp;Director&nbsp;</b>– Atlee</p> <p><b>&nbsp;Movie cast</b>&nbsp;– Shah Rukh Khan, Vijay Sethupathi, Nayanthara, Priyamani, Sanya Malhotra, Deepika Padukone, Sunil Grover</p> <p>&nbsp;<b>Rating</b>&nbsp;– 4 stars</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Mon Sep 11 16:47:30 IST 2023 goldfish-review-a-slow-paced-heartwarming-mother-daughter-tale <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p><i>Goldfish</i> is a heartwarming mother-daughter story that stays with you long after you've watched it. Anamika Fields (Kalki Koechlin) is the daughter who has just returned home after her mother Sadhana Tripathi (Deepti Naval), a person with dementia, narrowly escaped a mishap.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The story is set in the United States<b>,</b> a neighbourhood in which Anamika spent her childhood years - one gets to see the kind of close community bond between fellow Indians and Asians who reside in the neighbourhood and are always there for each other. This is evident from the fact that one of Sadhana's neighbours, Laxmi Natrajan (Bharti Patel), a retired NHS nurse sends an SOS to Anamika, when she senses that Sadhna might need someone to look after her. However, Sadhana resents help. She is a firm believer in her own ability to look after herself notwithstanding the onset of dementia.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Character arcs of both, the mother and daughter are well fleshed out - Sadhana, a music teacher, enjoys time with her students and their presence makes her feel all is well with her and the world. She reminisces the time when Pandit Ravi Shankar would play on and on until wee hours of the morning and years to attend concerts like that which indulge one's heart and mind. She is shown to have been a control freak to her daughter, often hurting the latter's sentiments in a bid for oneupmanship.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Anamika, on her part, is looking at sending her mother to a Care Home but she finds herself in a dilemma as to whether to go ahead with it or not and that forms the centre of the narrative.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Now, we come to the film's title. The <i>Goldfish</i> becomes a point of contention between the mother and daughter and adds meaning and context to the film. Many years back when she was young, Anamika is unable to let go of the memory that had scarred her for life. It was of her mother flushing a live goldfish down the toilet. Years later, when she returns home, she demands an answer. Her mother initially refutes the allegation saying that the fish had died but later on, she admits that it was indeed living and that she flushed it only to hurt her daughter. The pace is slow; the narrative is rich and deep, contextual and steady. The flow is highly engrossing as well.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>What does it mean to parent a parent? Especially when one is an estranged daughter, trying to come to terms with one's troubled childhood. As a mother's memory begins to slip away to a point when she cannot even recognise her own daughter, it is the complex emotional and psychological dynamics that come into play and this has been ably portrayed by Arghya Lahiri and Kripalani's top-notch writing and the director's deft camerawork.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Produced by Amit Saxena's Splendid Films and presented by Anurag Kashyap, <i>Goldfish</i> is an immersive watch, as is the superb delivery by two very able actors - Deepti Naval and Kalki Koechlin. However, if you're into fast and racy plots, please give this one a miss, because <i>Goldfish</i> has top be savoured piecemeal. It is slow and moves at its own pace; there is no rushing here.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Cast: Kalki Koechlin, Deepti Naval, Rajit Kapur</b></p> <p><b>Director: Pushan Kripalani</b></p> <p><b>Rating: 3.5/5</b></p> Sat Sep 02 12:10:22 IST 2023 -kushi--review--happiness-eludes-audience-in-this-movie <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p><i>Kushi</i> movie leaves you with moments of happiness only till snow-clad peaks, valleys and streams of Kashmir form the postcard backdrop of the actors, Vijay Deverakonda and Samantha. Once the movie’s locales are shifted down south, the level of interest of the audience also goes downhill.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The movie garnered interest as Samantha broke away from the cycle of acting in heroine-oriented roles to play a lead in a romantic commercial flick. Vijay, who also enjoys a huge fanbase is desperate for a hit after his pan-Indian action movie, <i>Liger</i>, died out with a whimper.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Coming to the story, Viplav (Vijay) is a central government employee who opts to work in an exotic location, away from the monotonous life in Hyderabad. He is posted to Kashmir peaking his excitement until he encounters—on the border area, poor facilities and hardships of curfews. On the brighter side, he spots Aradhya (Samantha) on a houseboat and falls for her, mistaking her to be a Kashmiri Muslim due to her Burkha attire. To get him off his back, Samantha’s friend lie about their identity of being Pakistanis searching for a lost family member.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Viplav is shown as a liberal character subtly through his choice of being fine with marrying a Pakistani or offering her beef biryani. Only later is the truth revealed to him that she is an orthodox Brahmin from Kakinada who is on an office vacation in the hill station.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Both express love for each other and decide to take their relationship forward. The only hitch? Viplav’s father is a well-known atheist and Samantha’s father is a popular Hindu scholar. Poles apart in ideologies, both even get into fights on TV news debates. With the characters now moving back to Hyderabad and Kakinada, how the lovers handle their belief systems and their respective fathers stubbornness forms the second half.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Except for the song ‘Na Roja Nuvve’, others look misplaced and sometimes, unnecessary, just like the action sequences which are cliché. Even some characters like Zoya and Thomas, a Malayali inter-faith couple don’t have much significance except to try and add novelty which falls flat. The first half is at least fresh and teases the audience with something unique but the second half is nagging, dragging and unnecessarily gloomy.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The director, Shiva Nirvana’s attempt to highlight post-marriage issues that crop up between couples leaves Samantha with very less scope for acting as she is reduced to weeping scenes. Vijay and Samantha look good on screen and being seasoned actors, have put up a good show but clearly remind the audience of uncanny resemblance to their past roles. The dialogues are average and on expected lines. The movie has some funny scenes which is the saving grace of this product that doesn’t exactly give any ‘Kushi’ to the audience.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Cast: Vijay Deverakonda, Samantha, Murali Sharma, Sachin Khedekar, Vennela Kishore, Rahul Ramakrishna</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Director: Shiva Nirvana</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Rating: 3/5</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Fri Sep 01 14:36:06 IST 2023 scam-2003-review-a-gripping-tale-gagan-dev-riar-shines-as-abdul-karim-telgi <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Abdul Karim Telgi.... This name may hardly ring a bell among the Gen Z. But for most others, this name became synonymous in the early 2000s for what would become the biggest stamp paper scam in India. It is this <a title="True story of Abdul Karim Telgi: From fruit vendor to mastermind of multi-crore stamp paper scam" href="" target="_blank">scam involving Telgi</a> that Hansal Mehta's latest web series <i>Scam 2003</i> on Sony LIV throws light on.</p> <p>In 2020, Mehta released <i>Scam 1993</i>, which told the story of small time stock broker Harshad Mehta who makes it big on the Dalal Street only to be eventually caught for his illegal insider trading means he used to make crores.</p> <p><i>Scam 2003</i> is based on the book <i>Telgi Scam: Reporters Diary</i>. It starts off in a nondescript hamlet of Khanapur in Karnataka where Abdul Karim Telgi, makes a living by selling fruits on the train, despite being a graduate. Living by the side of the tracks in a shanty, he dreams of one day having a firm roof over his head.</p> <p>A chance encounter with an individual on the train lands him in Mumbai, the city of dreams. And it is here that Telgi chases his dreams, from starting off as a manager of a guest house to eventually becoming the kingpin of what would become the country's largest stamp paper scam that burnt a hole worth thousands of crore in the government's exchequer and led to the resignation of then deputy Chief Minister Chhagan Bhujbal.</p> <p>Telgi always wants to do bigger things in life. And despite his initial setbacks, his confidence doesn't seem to have shaken. As he says on several occasions, “mujhe paise kamane nahi hain, banane hain” (I don’t want to earn money, but make money). How he goes about it and eventually makes crores selling fake stamp papers, making friends along the way and managing the system including bureaucrats, politicians and ministers alike is the story of <i>Scam 2003</i>.</p> <p>Overall the web series makes for a gripping tale. But, it is quite slow to take off. The story begins with the shot of Telgi undergoing a narco analysis test. But, from there the directors Mehta and Tushar Hiranandani transport us to Khanapur and the first couple of episodes slowly revolve around Telgi's life in the village, his move to Mumbai and his initial struggles there. The story picks up pace from the third episode (there are five) and will make you want to watch further how the scam unfolds and how Telgi manages to keep everyone from the corridors of Mantralaya to the government's printing press in Nashik happy.</p> <p>The web series has fine performances from actors like Bharat Jadhav, Mukesh Tiwari, Shashank Ketkar, Sameer Dharmadikari, Nikhil Ratnaparkhi, Nandu Madhav and Bhavana Balsawar. They shine in the limited screen time they get. But they are all side shows.</p> <p>The story is all about the protagonist Abdul Karim Telgi played by Gagan Dev Riar. Even his wife played by Sana Amin Sheikh has little to do. He features in almost every scene in the web series and has done a brilliant job portraying Telgi. Never once do we feel he is going overboard or over acting as he goes about thinking about the next big thing.</p> <p>The catchy music, we first heard in <i>Scam 1993</i>, also features here and keeps us hooked to the tale.</p> <p>This web series is told from the eyes of Abdul Karim Telgi and should be on your watch list. You may feel bored, especially in the initial episodes. But hang in there and eventually it will keep you engrossed and intrigued on what comes next.&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Show: Scam 2003: The Telgi Story</b></p> <p><b>Directed by: Tushar Hiranandani and Hansal Mehta</b></p> <p><b>Streaming on: Sony LIV</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Fri Sep 01 11:57:36 IST 2023 dream-girl-2-this-ayushmann-khurrana-starrer-is-an-absolute-entertainer <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> The excitement for <i>Dream Girl 2</i> was built right from the time the trailer was launched earlier this month. Ayushmann Khurrana had brought along his A-game and stole hearts with his raunchy and refreshing charisma in the role of 'Pooja', the female phone sex operator in<i> Dream Girl</i> (2019). The sequel, which was released this Friday, stays true to the thrill and anticipation it built up in the trailer, its eventual preachy tone notwithstanding. <br> <br> Khurrana is the reason why one would want to watch the film as he effortlessly pulls us into his quirky cinematic universe. What is different in this follow-up film is that the serenading voice now has a face—Pooja is now a svelte woman with bangs, dressed in backless blouses and flowing sarees. In Raj Shaandilyaa's deft hands, Dream Girl 2 keeps you with it at all times. It is engrossing and entertaining; at times it does get loud but not loud enough to drive you out of the theatre. It serves the right masalas that go on to make an absolute and thorough entertainer. <br> <br> However, anyone who tries to look for logic here will end up disappointed because <i>Dream Girl 2</i> appeals to the heart and the senses, not so much to the mind. Khurrana, as Pooja, is convincingly flawless and everything from his walk to his voice to his fluttering eyelids, is impeccable. He is equally convincing as Karam (his male avatar) in the film. <br> <br> Karam and his girlfriend (Ananya Panday) want to get married but her father, in typical desi style, wants his daughter's suitor to prove his financial worth. As a solution to the problem, Karam decides to moonlight as Pooja and marry the son of a wealthy businessman (Paresh Rawal). And thereon follows a multi-layered narrative that keeps the viewer hooked to this immersive storyline with several subplots and characters that keep unravelling themselves as time passes. Part two turns into a bit of a stretch with bland jokes and annoying one-liners, but the lead pair soon regains the lost momentum. The climax is a bit of a dampener; as if the writers didn't really give it much thought and were in a hurry to somehow end the film. Several distinguished actors apart from the lead pair, including Seema Pahwa, Paresh Rawal, and Annu Kapoor, have added immensely to the narrative and the flow. At times when the story moves at a snail's pace, they come to the rescue and awaken us from our slumber. Overall, Dream girl 2 is an out-and-out entertainment that is both punchy and powerful.<br> <br> <b>Cast: Ayushmann Khurrana, Seema Pahwa, Annu Kapoor, Paresh Rawal, Ananya Panday<br> <br> Direction: Raaj Shaandilyaa<br> <br> Rating 3/5</b><br> <br> <br> Fri Aug 25 17:57:18 IST 2023 gran-turismo-review-this-racing-movie-keeps-the-adrenaline-pumping <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Want an original storyline without any formulaic hyperbole that will jolt you out of your eye sockets and make you run down the multiplex aisle screaming eureka? Well, this movie is definitely not it. But in virtually every other sense, <i style="font-size: 0.8125rem;">Gran Turismo</i> checks the right boxes, taking you careening down a race track full of thrills, spills and a whole lot of (if wee bit cliched) big screen masala that is a bang for your Imax ticket’s buck.</p> <p>Perhaps it was just a matter of time before <i>Gran Turismo</i>, the popular video game that has earned billions for Sony PlayStation since 1997 when the first version was released, got a cinematic jack-up. After all, Hollywood, and an increasing number of movie-going audiences, are getting hugely unexcited with the prospect of getting further swamped by comic book superhero franchises continuing to rule the roost offering Dolby-buffed crash-boom-bangs without a soul. So, then, why not turn towards that other post-millennial eyeball grabber — no, not social media, but video gaming, and offer a big screen crash-boom-bang version of its own?</p> <p>To its credit, <i>Gran Turismo</i> does possess a storyline with a soul, however lightly it may be textured, and however much it veers away from the original true story it is based on. Small time boy Jann (pronounced ‘yaan’, he’s Welsh) whiles away time on his racing simulator playing GT and to his surprise finds he is selected to be part of Japanese auto giant Nissan’s audacious marketing ploy to attract a new demographic, “a generation of couch potatoes” to come out and buy cars (preferably those sporting that heraldic symbol of Japan in steel) by taking sim gamers and turning them into actual race track drivers.</p> <p>Nissan’s team, including said audacious marketing ploy mastermind Danny (Orlando Bloom) and down-and-out trainer (he had to be, it’s a must ingredient in underdog formulas) Jack (David Harbour, you’ve seen him play Eleven’s dad in <i>Stranger Things</i>), try to finesse up the raw rookie recruit through near misses, fatal crashes, pitstop sledging and even lazy talk over what is a better motivational music before a race, Black Sabbath or Kenny G (Or Enya).</p> <p>The rest is history, as in the history of a hundred million underdog-trying-to-make-it-in-the-big-bad-world films we’ve seen before. But what works for G<i>ran Turismo</i> is, surprisingly enough, the juxtaposing of this familiar formula at the unique crossroad of simulated racing games and actual real world blood-and-metal races. To make the point, director Neill Blomkamp alters Jann’s bedroom sim races by conjuring up physical vehicles of different makes around him. And when he’s out racing in the physical world, the visuals are inter-stitched with graphics and console-like effects.</p> <p>Blomkamp, who shocked the world with his Oscar-nominated <i>District 9</i> (a story of aliens who came to invade the earth being segregated as a parallel to racism and apartheid) back in 2009 shows he can infuse some element of gravitas to even a formulaic big budget plot. The script is fair enough while the slick editing papers over its cracks. The BGM soars high and never misses a high point, even while ensuring it doesn’t crank up mindlessly into a decibel assaulter.</p> <p>Lead actor Archie Madekwe is fresh faced, earnest and easy on the eyes, and slips into his role with an ease which promises that his best is yet to come. And millennials may get a bit unnerved when they see who’s playing his parents — dad is Djimon Hounsou (you saw his sculpted Greek god bod in anything from <i>Amistad</i> to <i>Gladiator</i>) while the mom is, wait for this, Geri Halliwell ! You are reminded of your mortality when THE spice girl who shook her bum at the establishment in the late nineties with ‘Girl Power' sits demurely at the dinner table mouthing, “These lentils are quite nice”.</p> <p>Through the many races including the final Le Mans one, the biggest success of this movie could well be that it manages to keep audiences engaged — we’re at our seat’s edge as Jann’s car makes its life or death careening down to the chequered flag, even if we know deep down in our hearts what the outcome could only be. That could well be this film’s eureka moment.</p> <p><b>Movie: Gran Turismo</b></p> <p><b>Director: Neill Blomkamp</b></p> <p><b>Cast: Archie Madekwe, Orlando Bloom, David Harbour</b></p> <p><b>Rating: 3.5/5</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Fri Aug 25 17:06:25 IST 2023 king-of-kotha-review-dulquer-salmaans-gangster-film-fails-to-impress <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>In the realm of global cinema, numerous films have garnered critical acclaim and achieved commercial success despite being labelled as 'style over substance' productions. In the context of Mollywood, two recent examples that readily come to mind are <i style="font-size: 0.8125rem;">Thallumala </i>and <i style="font-size: 0.8125rem;">Ajagajantharam.</i> These films are noteworthy for their emphasis on visual aesthetics, artistic creativity, and cinematic techniques over the depth of their plots—or so called ‘substance—yet managing to deliver a gratifying cinematic experience.<br> </p> <p>Dulquer Salmaan-starrer <i>King of Kotha</i> (KoK) is also a film that can be tagged as a ‘style over substance’ gangster flick.<b> </b>However, it is doubtful if the film can satisfy the audience.</p> <p>Mollywood can boast about producing some commendable gangster action films, even though the numbers are lower compared to other film industries in the country. Dulquer Salmaan's debut movie, <i>Second Show,</i> which delved into gang wars and the murky underbelly of the criminal world, is a personal favourite. <i>KoK</i> also places its plot in a godforsaken land controlled by criminal gangs; it, however, failed to impress.</p> <p>With a cinematic approach that steadfastly adheres to the conventions of a 'mass masala action movie,' filmmaker Abhilash Joshiy's work essentially tells the story of a rift between two friends, whose camaraderie is forged in the crucible of violence but eventually turns to enmity. The film features an abundance of bloodshed and action. However, the stylised action and mindless violence, on their own, fail to compensate for the film's weak storyline and script.</p> <p>The success of a &quot;formulaic&quot; action film hinges significantly on the third act. This implies that the filmmaker must deliver to the audience a more substantial and grander action spectacle on screen than what was presented in the first two acts. This is a crucial aspect in which <i>King of Kotha</i> falls short.</p> <p>Furthermore, the satisfaction derived by the audience from watching action thrillers is also contingent on a filmmaker's ability to craft a formidable antagonist (or antagonists) whom the hero can confront and defeat in the climactic third act of the film. We currently exist in an era where audiences are exposed to graphic and intense scenes in action films across various industries. Therefore, a few ruthless moments alone are insufficient to elevate a villain to the status of a good or great antagonist.</p> <p>Contemporary audiences no longer find satisfaction in a cliched villain whose primary role is to dispatch a group of henchmen as mere cannon fodder for the hero. What truly elevates a villain to the status of a supervillain is his/her ability to play mind games in addition to the muscle power when engaged in a battle of wits against the hero.</p> <p>In <i>King of Kotha</i>, Shabeer Kallarackal—who delivered a captivating performance as 'Dancing Rose' in Pa Ranjith's boxing drama <i>Sarpatta Parambarai</i>—assumes the role of the primary antagonist. Despite Kallarackal's commendable performance, the character of the villain in <i>KoK</i> remains somewhat lacklustre.</p> <p>The character of 'hero' Raju, portrayed by Salmaan in<i> King of Kotha</i>, essentially embodies a psychopathic persona. Even when depicting a psychopathic or sociopathic character as the protagonist, there are nuanced approaches to garner audience support for the &quot;hero's success.&quot; However, the film opts for a more overt method of conveying to the audience that Raju is a 'morally good' psychopath. To establish this moral dimension, the film portrays Raju as someone who prohibits the sale of drugs in Kotha.</p> <p>Salmaan's commanding screen presence salvages the film on multiple occasions. Beyond that, there isn't anything particularly exceptional about the character.</p> <p>The film's backdrop is the 1980s and 1990s, a period when the filmmaker's father, Joshiy, delivered a series of remarkable action films in Malayalam. It is uncertain whether this influenced the filmmaker's decision to set his debut movie in that era. However, it seems that even if the film were set in contemporary times, the impact might not have been substantially different.</p> <p>Aishwarya Lekshmi, Anikha Surendran, Nyla Usha, Gokul Suresh, Chemban Vinod Jose, Shammi Thilakan, and Shanti Krishna comprise some of the supporting cast in the film. Despite the abundance of characters, the script falls short in providing depth to any of these roles. Gokul's policeman character serves as the narrator in the first half of the film. His voiceover at various junctures, however, becomes a source of frustration due to poor scripting.. While Gokul delivers a controlled acting performance, the dialogues he's tasked with delivering and the character he embodies remain mediocre.</p> <p><i>King of Kotha</i> clocks in at nearly three hours in duration. A more judicious and precise editing process could have resulted in a more tolerable viewing experience. Notably, the film shines in the realms of cinematography and action choreography. In a climactic action sequence, the creative camera work explores point-of-view (POV) shots, lending a unique close combat atmosphere. The background score, while loud, aptly complements the scenes that glorify the 'hero.' However, during what can be deemed as 'so-called' emotional moments, it regrettably veers toward mediocrity.</p> <p><i>King of Kotha</i> undoubtedly exhibits ambition in its scope. Its release in four different languages indicates a clear intention to appeal beyond the sensibilities of the local Malayalam audience. This film is crafted with a broader, non-Kerala audience and fan base in mind. Consequently, it is highly probable that the film may find greater resonance and success in other film industries rather than within Kerala.</p> <p><b>Movie: King of Kotha</b></p> <p><b>Director: Abhilash Joshiy</b></p> <p><b>Cast: Dulquer Salmaan, Aishwarya Lekshmi, Anikha Surendran, Nyla Usha, Gokul Suresh, Chemban Vinod Jose, Shammi Thilakan</b></p> <p><b>Rating: 2/5</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Thu Aug 24 15:40:34 IST 2023 guns-and-gulaabs-review-a-mix-of-nostalgia-humour-and-lazy-writing <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Netflix's latest offering, <i style="font-size: 0.8125rem;">Guns &amp; Gulaabs,</i> is set in Gulaabganj, a fictional town consisting of vast opium fields, gangsters, corrupt cops, teenage school kids and other citizens trapped in the chaos. The seven episode comic thriller series features Rajkummar Rao, Dulquer Salmaan, Adarsh Gourav and Gulshan Devaiah in the lead roles.<br> </p> <p>Directed by Raj and DK, the show revolves around the execution of a massive opium deal in the small town during the '90s. When gangster chief Ganchi goes into a coma after slipping and falling through the woodwork of his old house, his inexperienced son Jugnu (Adarsh Gourav) is put in charge.</p> <p>The main crop in Gulaabganj is opium which is considered somewhat legal and is supplied to the authorities for export; the rest being held illegally by Jugnu’s father. A modest mechanic named Tipu (Rajkummar Rao) on the other hand hopes to not follow his gangster father's footsteps and tries to overcome his influence, but later joins the club by killing two men out of rage and later joins the Ganchi gang. Aatmaram (Gulshan Devaiah ), a hired killer slashes his victims to horrid deaths.</p> <p>In the middle of all this chaos arrives Arjun (Dulquer Salmaan), a narcotics officer who leads his life with a guilty conscience of not being the ideal father and husband, while falling prey to unnecessary character traits to fulfill his greed.</p> <p>With every man wanting to be the hero of their own stories, there is also a slight change in the primary storyline following a shift to the lives of three school boys who are backbenchers invested in playing 'FLAMES' in their notebooks and running behind their little crushes. One of them named Gangaram fall for his teacher Chandralekha, who also happens to be the love of Tipu's life, and another boy Lalkrishna is in love with a rich newcomer girl Jyotsna who outshines him as class topper and is also Arjun's daughter.</p> <p>But the chases and shootouts did not manage to keep the viewer hooked due to predictable nature of the storyline. Members of the cast also go about with their roles in isolation but never unite for what could have been an explosive moment. While trying to make the most of the old-town setup, the overuse of quirk and the struggle to initiate humour are visible. To an extent the characters seem not so well-written, especially in the case of Dulquer whose cop character seemed rather dull. The writers give him some edge, but too late into the show.</p> <p>Rajkummar's character tried to bring humour on to the table especially in scenes involving his love interest. Gulshan’s character is the quirkiest and he makes sure to have fun with it.</p> <p>The series also brings back the '90s nostalgia through evergreen Bollywood tracks and objects from the era, and every episode being named after an old song or an iconic film line.</p> <p><b>Series: Guns &amp; Gulaabs</b></p> <p><b>Language: Hindi</b></p> <p><b>Streaming on : Netflix</b></p> <p><b>Rating: 3/5</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Sat Aug 19 09:37:45 IST 2023 ghoomer-review-formulaic-but-compelling-sports-drama <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>One thing is for sure—R. Balki's latest flick, <i>Ghoomer, </i>is a highly impactful one. It is that food for thought which takes you along on a passionate journey of victory and loss and pulls at your heartstrings for long after the end credits begin to roll.</p> <p>You might choose to love the film or hate it but it is quite difficult to ignore the grit and passion of a paraplegic cricketer and the unflinching determination of her coach who gives her wings to make history, in the face of despair and hopelessness.</p> <p>The plot may seem formulaic and repetitive, but Balki, who's written the script, has given it a brilliant nuance which has elevated the film by several notches. That this is yet another inspirational sports drama is a given, but it is the parallel narrative built around tragedy, guilt, redemption and forgiveness that pushes the plot forward and makes <i>Ghoomer</i> so different and compelling. This is a moving sports drama; the kind we needed to see and the kind that keeps us gripped from the beginning to the end.</p> <p>In the character of Anina Dixit, a young, tenacious cricketer who chases her dream in the face of despair, Sayami Kher is forceful and believable. There are no frills to her character, and she shines in the simplicity. <i>Ghoomer </i>revolves around Anina, a young batting prodigy, who loses her right hand in an accident. </p> <p>This happens just a night before she is to make her debut in the Indian cricket team and leave for England. Distraught and devastated, she considers her career to be finished but just then enters the drunkard, foul-mouthed and frustrated ex-test cricketer-turned-coach, Paddy (Abhishek Bachchan) who makes it his mission to convince the girl that she can still play for the country; if not as a batsman, then as a left arm bowler.</p> <p>The entire second half of the film is how he trains and polishes her and helps her achieve the unthinkable - a prodigious batsman turning into an equally enviable fast bowler/spinner, and that too, with just her left hand.</p> <p>In one of his recent interviews with THE WEEK, Abhishek Bachchan said that he does not like any of his performances so far. He makes it a point to re-watch his past films but there has been none where he can say he's done a good job. Well, he might not say that after watching his powerful delivery (pun intended) in the role of a mad-cap coach who gives it his all to turn around the misfortune of a potential winner.</p> <p>Shabana Azmi plays the role of a loving grandma who passionately follows cricket in a bid to help encourage and motivate her granddaughter to perform better. It is heartening to see her maintain a book of Dixit's hits and misses and make the budding cricketer, energising smoothies every morning.</p> <p><i>Ghoomer </i>is a motivational saga from the real-life story of the late Hungarian shooter Karoly Takacs, who won a gold medal in the rapid fire pistol event at the 1948 London Olympics with his left hand after his other hand was seriously injured. This, the film announces during the credit roll itself. A deftly made movie, <i>Ghoomer </i>is a treat to watch.</p> <p><b>Movie: Ghoomer</b></p> <p><b>Director: R. Balki</b></p> <p><b>Cast: Abhishek Bachchan, Shabana Azmi, Saiyami Kher, Angad Bedi and Shivendra Singh Dungarpur</b></p> <p><b>Rating: 4 stars</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Mon Aug 21 16:34:53 IST 2023