Movies en Sat Mar 06 12:43:29 IST 2021 samrat-prithviraj-review-a-disappointment-on-all-counts <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Historical dramas are seldom accurate. Cinematic liberties are part and parcel of such films.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>But nothing prepares you for what director Chandraprakash Dwivedi dishes out in <i>Samrat Prithviraj. </i>It is more of a no-holds-barred nationalist propaganda than a product of cinematic excellence. One might learn more accurately about the great warrior Prithviraj Chauhan, who took on the mighty invader Muhammad Ghori, from history textbooks than this film. <i>Samrat Prithviraj</i> also happens to be the maiden attempt by Yash Raj Films to churn out historical dramas. A lame attempt, to be frank.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Based on Chand Bardai's Prithviraj Raso, an epic poem traced back to the 13th century, one would expect the film to be nuanced in its execution and delivery, balanced in its approach and enlightening in every way, so as to bring out the flavour of the Indian warrior's personality and grit. But, the film only scratches the surface, and brings to the fore the 'Hindu-ness' and 'Hindu-ism' of the epic story, while relegating its historical significance to the background. Though, thankfully, the film briefly lingers on gender equality, which was close to Chauhan's heart, that too seems forced and fake.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The set that makes for the battleground of the historic Battle of Tarain, hardly looks convincing. The tepid action sequences, desultory exchanges and meaningless dialogues make <i>Samrat Prithviraj</i> a snoozefest. The lyrics, music and dance routines are forgettable. Akshay Kumar as the omnipresent Prithviraj - he's literally in every second frame - is an eyesore. Sonu Sood as the bard Chand Bhatt is persuasive, and a blindfolded Sanjay Dutt as the warrior <i>kaka</i> emanates power and command through his body language and voice.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Manushi Chillar as Princess Sanyogita is as bland as one can be. Be it the time of her <i>swayamvar</i> when she wants to show how angry she is, or when she wants to express her love to her king. She hardly makes her presence felt in the film.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><i>Samrat Prithviraj </i>might test your patience and endurance levels. The only compelling narrative in this dull drama is that of Manav Vij's character of Ghori who itches to invade and pillage.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The film does not add anything to what we already know about Prithviraj Chauhan, who ruled in Ajmer in present-day Rajasthan and who led a coalition of several Rajput kings and defeated the Ghurid army led by Ghori in the Battle of Tarain. However, Ghori returned with an army of Turkish mounted archers and defeated the Rajput army on the same battlefield. Prithviraj fled the battlefield, but was captured near Sirsa and executed. His defeat at Tarain is seen as a landmark event in the Islamic conquest of India, and has been described in several semi-legendary accounts, most notably the Prithviraj Raso.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Film: Samrat Prithviraj</b></p> <p><b>Director: Chandraprakash Dwivedi</b></p> <p><b>Cast: Akshay Kumar, Manushi Chillar, Sanjay Dutt and others</b></p> <p><b>Rating: 1/5</b></p> Fri Jun 03 20:17:21 IST 2022 vikram-review-kamal-haasan-back-in-full-form-action-packed-thriller <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p><i>Vikram </i>opens with some intriguing scenes. A truck goes missing. A young man, Prapanchan (Kalidas Jayaram), is seen carrying a bag of narcotics on his shoulder to hide it in a warehouse . The next few minutes show Karnan (Kamal Haasan) drinking and dancing. The story then moves to show a series of killings. Later, he is killed by a group of masked men. Enter Amar (Fahadh Faasil) to investigate the murder of Karnan, father of martyred cop Prapanchan.</p> <p>Why was Prapanchan killed? Who murdered Karnan? Who are the masked men? Answers to these questions are entwined, and coupled with several twists and turns by Lokesh Kanagaraj to bring out a three-hour-long action thriller. All the leading stars including Fahadh Faasil and Vijay Sethupathi put up thrilling performances. Though Lokesh borrows a few moments from his own <i>Kaithi </i>at times, the surprises and action keep the audience hooked.</p> <p>For Kamal who has come out with several blockbusters in his long cinema career, <i>Vikram</i> is definitely one among his best where he gives space to every other actor in the narrative. If <i>Vikram</i> of 1986 was the story of an off-duty spy, the present one brings in interesting technologies and is peppered with Lokesh’s own fanboy moments.</p> <p><i>Vikram </i>is packed with thrilling moments from the very first minute. With technical superiority and terrific casting, the first half is an interesting watch, while the narration and a few long rants tire you in the second half.</p> <p>The first half is dominated by Amar and his team who investigate the murders and go after the masked killers. Fahadh is awesome as Amar. Sethupathi shines as Sandhanam, the drug lord who only wants his two trucks back. At times, Lokesh tells us that this character is similar to the drug lord Pablo Escobar. But we are often reminded us of Sethupathi's own character<i> Bhavani </i>in <i>Master.</i></p> <p>Suriya’s cameo is another interesting moment to watch out for. In the climax, Lokesh teases a sequel too.</p> <p><i>Vikram </i>had raised expectations at the box office as well as among the audience as Kamal returns to the silver screen four years after his <i>Viswaroopam 2</i>. For Kamal’s fans, it is an action-packed thriller, with their energised hero taking on the drug mafia. For the audience, it is a highly entertaining watch featuring an ensemble of leading stars.</p> <p><b>Movie: Vikram</b></p> <p><b>Cast: Kamal Haasan, Vijay Sethupathi, Fahadh Fasil, Arjun Das and others</b></p> <p><b>Director: Lokesh Kanagaraj</b></p> <p><b>Rating: 3.5/5</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Fri Jun 03 17:18:13 IST 2022 major-review-touching-tribute-26-11-hero <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>When audience step into theatres to watch <i style="font-size: 0.8125rem;">Major,</i> they have a fair idea or at least an inkling about the 26/11 terrorist attack and the role of soldiers like Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan in it. Even with the absence of surprise elements, the biopic comfortably accomplishes what it sets out to do in two aspects. First, the supreme sacrifice of the Major gets registered and so does the suffering and turbulence his family undergoes while he is loyally serving the nation. While the movie does stretch a bit when it comes to creative freedom, it props up an important question- can biopics be tweaked to do justice to the subject? If yes, then what should be the holy yardstick that would prevent the movie from falling into the bracket of fiction.</p> <p><i>Major </i>is not your regular commando movie. It is high on emotional drama and is centred around Major Unnikrishnan and his humane side. The movie opens with the scene featuring a bloodied Major Unnikrishnan, played by Adivi Sesh, in a black cat suit at the Taj Mahal hotel in Mumbai. The flashback kicks in and we are introduced to his childhood. Prakash Raj and Revathi, play his parents. As a child, Sandeep is fascinated by uniforms and dreams of becoming a soldier while his family has other plans. As a teen, Sandeep is mischievous yet caring.</p> <p>The first half of the movie is dedicated to the romantic track between the lead actor and his love interest Esha (Saiee Manjrekar) who he meets in high school. Though the romantic scenes are innocent and appealing, they also slow down the pace of the movie. The couple grow fond of each other but Sandeep’s burning desire to be a soldier drives a wedge between the two. Sandeep gets rejected by the Navy but succeeds in cracking the Army and goes to the NDA. How he wins back his love, turns into a National Security Guard (NSG) commando and lands up in Taj Hotel Mumbai on the ill-fated day forms the rest of the story. Whether it is a revelation or an exaggeration, Sandeep’s character is shown to be dodging bullets of terrorists at a time when his marriage hits rock bottom, which further elevates his character. The second half is completely dedicated to action sequences inside the hotel. Shobhita Dhulipala has a special role and plays her part sincerely.</p> <p>For a movie dedicated to an army officer, a major letdown in <i>Major</i> is overlooking military aesthetics. The way Adivi Sesh and his team move, confront or defend themselves is more cinematic than professional. Not once in the movie does Adivi Sesh sport a military cut and also does not wear the mandatory NSG helmet at Taj while the rest of his team does. Towards the end, one realises that there is a great mismatch between the actual accounts reported and what has been shown in the movie. Adivi Sesh as Major Unnikrishnan is charming and convincing. His screenplay could have been better.</p> <p>Action sequences have been choreographed well. Saiee Manjrekar fits well in her role. Revathi and Prakash Raj are at their best, as usual. Director Sashi Kiran Tikka might have passed the test, thanks to the hyper-nationalistic wave prevailing in the country and also because of the image that late Major Unnikrishnan carries. The movie probably should be judged less for its cinematic performance and more as a tribute to a fallen hero and a son of the soil.</p> <p><b>Film: Major</b></p> <p><b>Cast: Adivi Sesh, Saiee Manjrekar, Prakash Raj, Revathi, Shobita Dhulipala</b></p> <p><b>Director: Sashi Kiran Tikka</b></p> <p><b>Rating: 3.5/5</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Fri Jun 03 12:38:51 IST 2022 top-gun-maverick-review-utterly-predictable-immensely-enjoyable <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>What chance does an older generation fighter jet have in a dogfight against a fifth-generation fighter? Not much of a chance. <i>Top Gun: Maverick </i>makes this abundantly clear through multiple exposition scenes. And then, it goes on to show a dogfight between an older jet and not one but two fifth-generation fighters. Well, what did you expect from a <i>Top Gun</i> sequel?</p> <p>To give credit where it is due, the choreography of the scene is breathtaking and it is so engaging that you don't get time to think about the improbability of what is unfolding before your eyes. And that pretty much sums up the entire movie. The final mission is near-impossible; but if anyone can pull it off, it is Tom Cruise's Captain Pete &quot;Maverick&quot; Mitchell.</p> <p>The plot is utterly predictable and filled with plenty of fan service. But that still does not make it boring as the less interesting part—the story—moves along fast. The editing has to get at least some credit for making sure that the movie remained engaging, especially when you consider that more than 800 hours of footage was shot. The editor is Eddie Hamilton, whose credits include the <i>Mission Impossible </i>series and the <i>Kick-Ass</i> and <i>Kingsman</i> movies (two each).</p> <p>The cinematography by Claudio Miranda, who won an Oscar for <i>Life of Pi </i>and was nominated for<i> The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,&nbsp;</i>is stunning. The flight sequences are immersive and also authentic. The focus on the strain of flying at high speeds and the challenges posed by gravity is refreshing. The visual effects, which we know have helped elevate the shots, are difficult to spot, as they should be.</p> <p>The performances are all convincing, if not extraordinary. Cruise is, obviously, in his element and also handles the emotional scenes well. Milles Teller excels in his supporting role as Lt Bradley &quot;Rooster&quot; Bradshaw, son of Maverick's late best friend Nick &quot;Goose&quot; Bradshaw. Val Kilmer and Ed Harris shine in their cameos. Jennifer Connelly stars as Penny Benjamin, seemingly the admiral's daughter teased (referenced, but not shown) in the original.</p> <p><i>Top Gun: Maverick </i>is an absolute must-watch for fans of <i>Top Gun</i> (1986). For others, too, it is well worth a watch. But, it has to be seen on the big screen and watching the original would help you to fully comprehend the references and jokes.</p> <p><b>Film: Top Gun: Maverick</b></p> <p><b>Director: Joseph Kosinski</b></p> <p><b>Cast: Tom Cruise, Miles Teller, Jennifer Connelly, Jon Hamm, Charles Parnell, Monica Barbaro, Glen Powell, Val Kilmer and Ed Harris</b></p> <p><b>Rating: 3.5/5</b></p> Thu May 26 18:06:47 IST 2022 12th-man-review-a-drishyam-here-a-drishyam-2-there <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>A murder. Multiple suspects. An investigator. Multiple motives. Twists and turns. Finally, justice delivered.</p> <p>The storyline of Jeethu Joseph’s <i>12<sup>th</sup> Man</i> is, probably, as old as cinema itself. Even in Malayalam cinema, from <i>Yavanika</i> to Mammootty’s <i>CBI</i> series - including the latest one – there have been umpteen number of whodunits, with varying degrees of success.</p> <p>Joseph proved himself a master of thrillers with the brilliant <i>Drishyam</i>, which was remade in several languages. It also proved to be a lifeline for Mollywood superstar Mohanlal, who was suffering from a string of flops then. The film was a milestone of sorts in Malayalam cinema.</p> <p>However, the much-awaited sequel – <i>Drishyam 2</i> – suffered from an overdose of twists and turns, which left the viewers in knots, with logic and believability going out of the window.</p> <p>The Mohanlal-Jeethu Joseph duo’s latest venture finds itself between these two - it’s not as engaging or thrilling as <i>Drishyam</i>, but is far more convincing and crisper than <i>Drishyam 2</i>.</p> <p>Eleven friends, including their spouses, have a bachelor party at a resort. What starts as a pleasant outing, soon turns into a nightmare after they engage in an absurd game. One of them is found dead soon after. How the seemingly close-knit group falls apart in the face of investigation by Chandrasekhar (Mohanlal), forms the rest of the plot.</p> <p>Mohanlal sleepwalks through the role, as there is hardly anything challenging about it. In fact, it would not be surprising if the viewer, especially in the second half, thought the veteran actor walked straight out of a <i>Bigg Boss</i> episode, because of his appearance and mannerisms and the constant reference to the game!</p> <p>But, the real disappointment was the cringe-inducing ‘humour’ involving Mohanlal in the initial part of the film. And the continuing trend of sexist references in his films - <i>Aarattu</i> being one of the other culprits. That these instances, in <i>12<sup>th</sup> Man</i>, had nothing to do with his character or its nature later, is puzzling.</p> <p>The challenge for the filmmaker was to keep the audience engaged in a whodunit that does not leave the resort and revolves around only the 11 people there. Joseph succeeds in it to a great extent. <i>12<sup>th</sup> Man</i>, to its credit, does not bite off more than it can chew, and works well within its self-imposed limitations, thanks to some good performances from an extended supporting cast - Anusree, Saiju Kurup, Chandunath, Sshivada and Leona, to name a few. But, despite V.S. Vinayak’s crisp editing, at 163 minutes, the film takes its own sweet time to unmask each face, and unravel each tale of deceit and immorality, and can seriously test the viewer’s patience.</p> <p>Also, in a film where the music – by Anil Johnson – plays only a supporting role, the English songs strike a jarring note and seem completely out of place.</p> <p>Despite such aberrations, <i>12<sup>th</sup> Man</i> is worth a watch. Keep your expectations low, and you won’t be disappointed.</p> <p><b>Film: 12<sup>th</sup> Man</b></p> <p><b>Language: Malayalam</b></p> <p><b>Director: Jeethu Joseph</b></p> <p><b>Cast: Mohanlal, Saiju Kurup, Anusree, Sshivada, Unni Mukundan, Anu Sithara, and others</b></p> <p><b>Rating: 3/5</b></p> <p><b>OTT: Disney+ Hotstar</b></p> Fri May 20 14:10:18 IST 2022 dhaakad-review-this-kangana-starrer-is-action-packed-but-superficial <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p><i>Dhaakad</i> is a popcorn film; an almost-edge-of-the-seat action thriller led by an able cast, spectacular action sequences and meticulous execution. The only problem? It is as superficial as it can get. The film makes you feel as if you are passively involved in an overstretched video game that is heading nowhere and gets over before you even begin to make sense of it.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Agent Agni (Kangana Ranaut), a go-getting field officer of the International Task Force, grapples with childhood memories of her parents' murder, and has taken a vow to ensure that no girl suffers a violent childhood. She's on a mission to clamp down on and eliminate the human trafficking network helmed by Rudraveer (Arjun Rampal), a cold-blooded coal mafioso, and his aide Rohini (Divya Dutta). Agni's encounter with the duo makes for most of the climax of the film.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The lead cast of Ranaut, Dutta and Rampal, is a treat to watch. In fact, <i>Dhaakad</i> stands out for everything - from direction to cinematography to editing – but a strong and meaningful script. Ranaut impresses with her versatility in the role of Agent Agni, who “is in the business of separating bodies from souls”. But, in almost every single frame of hers, there's an overdose of bullets and gore. Complementing her are Dutta and Rampal. The space given to both of them is limited, but despite the constraints, their performance is striking. At a time when action-oriented films are mostly restricted to male actors, Ranaut's gender-bending 'action jugalbandhi' with Rampal – matching sword for sword, punch for punch, and kick for kick - is an absolute feast to the eyes.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The absence of a cogent character arc is acutely felt through the film. Sharib Hashmi does not look believable as father to little Zaira while Saswata Mukherjee seems to have essayed his part quite effortlessly. Thankfully, <i>film</i> does not digress into needless song and dance sequences; not that the music is exceedingly hummable or even noteworthy.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In fact, director Razneesh ‘Razy’ Ghai, who co-wrote the script, could have made <i>Dhaakad</i> a true-blue action film minus the fake melodrama.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Film: Dhaakad</b></p> <p><b>Language: Hindi</b></p> <p><b>Director: Razneesh ‘Razy’ Ghai</b></p> <p><b>Cast: Kangana Ranaut, Arjun Rampal, Divya Dutta, Saswata Chatterjee</b></p> <p><b>Rating: 3/5</b></p> Fri May 20 18:19:37 IST 2022 puzhu-review-mammootty-a-class-apart-in-this-slow-burner <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>“Is tomato a fruit or a vegetable?”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Puzzled? If you haven't reached for Google <i>baba</i> already, you have my respect! Some questions leave you groping in the dark. And at times, you find the answers in the darkness of your heart.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Ratheena's <i>Puzhu</i> (worm) is about this darkness in people's hearts and minds, where they hear what they want to hear, see what they are accustomed to seeing and believe what they have been taught to believe. The title of the film and the trailer had piqued the curiosity of the audience. What also caught the attention was the coming together of Mammootty and Parvathy, post their <i>Kasaba</i> episode.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The wait has been rewarding. <i>Puzhu</i> talks about a socially relevant theme, which has often been spoken about in hushed tones in this part of the world, at the right time. The film is, in fact, quite different from the first impression one gets from the teaser and trailer. Yes, Mammootty (Kuttan) plays a retired police officer and a strict father and Vasudev Sajeesh Marar (Kichu) portrays a terrified son, who is squirming under his father's unforgiving and relentless watch. But <i>Puzhu</i> is much more than a family drama. Revealing anything more about the plot will be spoiling the experience for the viewer.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Harshad wrote the script with Mammootty in mind, the director had said in an interview. So, what if he had refused this role? But he didn't. And that's where Mammootty the actor stands out. The first few minutes into the film, we realise Kuttan is a man people love to hate, but step into his shoes, and the world seems just the way he sees it. The veteran actor delivers yet another master-class in acting in a role his contemporaries might steer clear of. The conflicting emotions inside Kuttan are portrayed brilliantly by Mammootty. The climax might have suffered a bit from predictability, but his performance in the last 20 minutes or so, shows why Harshad had only him in mind for the role.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Interestingly, and fittingly, <i>Puzhu</i> is not all about Mammootty or even the brilliant-as-usual Parvathy. Appunni Sasi as Kuttappan delivers a stupendous performance. Not only is he measured in his craft, but supremely confident—a trait which works wonderfully well for the character Kuttappan. Young Vasudev, too, impresses with his naturality and originality.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the actors is Jakes Bejoy's music, which is a star in its own right in the film. It skillfully dives in and out of the narrative, which is subtle and matured. The narrative takes its time to set the stage, literally, and mythology is brilliantly woven into the contemporary storyline. It's a slow-burner, but it's probably a deliberate ploy by Ratheena. The debutant director, who has worked as an executive producer, assistant director, poster designer and production associate among others, has shown she is here to stay.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>And to cast the legendary actor in a negative role needs courage more than anything else. Mammootty has rarely done characters with negative shades—the notable ones being in <i>Vidheyan</i> and <i>Munnariyipu</i>. But when he has, they have stood out. Kuttan is no different.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>There's a reason why Kuttan regards everything and everyone around him with suspicion. There's a reason why Kuttan is what Kuttan is. Kuttan is one of us. We have seen him in our homes, in our families, around us. Despite all the progressive strides, Kuttans and their beliefs live on. And so does the puzhu (worm).</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Tailpiece:</b> Tomato is both fruit and vegetable, says Britannica. Was Kuttan, too, both right and wrong? Only the puzhu knows.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Film: Puzhu</b></p> <p><b>Language: Malayalam</b></p> <p><b>Director: Ratheena</b></p> <p><b>Cast: Mammootty, Parvathy Thiruvothu, Appunni Sasi, Vasudev Sajeesh Marar and others</b></p> <p><b>Rating: 4/5</b></p> <p><b>OTT: SonyLiv</b></p> Thu May 12 23:52:48 IST 2022 thar-review-old-wine-in-a-rustic-but-beautiful-bottle <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Bloodthirst and revenge form the underlying theme of Netflix's <i>Thar</i> directed by Raj Singh Chaudhary. This is a dark, grisly and spine-chilling film that has all the ingredients essential to keep the audience hooked right till the end. Aided by exceptional cinematography that brings to life the spooky backdrop of rural Rajasthan, <i>Thar</i> is the perfect example of how a basic, done-to-death plot based on love and revenge can be successfully milked using a combination of a captivating setting (the sights and sounds of the Thar), a stellar cast, able direction and impeccably crisp storytelling.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The five-film-old Harsh Varrdhan Kapoor had told THE WEEK that <i>Thar</i> is more of a character-driven film than a star-driven one. That is evident by way of his own portrayal of Siddharth, a vicious retribution-exacting lover with a deadpan expression who comes down to the barren and burning sands of the Thar from New Delhi to hunt down three men who mercilessly killed his girlfriend.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Yet, even as the father-son duo seem to have internalised their characters as the killer and cop respectively, it is Kapoor senior who takes the cake and the cherry. He is reason enough to watch the film, and then want to watch it again. The Kapoors have much at stake with <i>Thar</i>, given it is also a completely in house production and Harshvarrdhan is still finding his feet. While Anil Kapoor as a weather-beaten officer is a natural, his son too, essays the negativity of a violent criminal in the most relatable way, except that he hardly has any dialogues to his credit. One can literally count the number of times, if at all, Harsh Varrdhan Kapoor has said anything in the film except in monosyllables. Of the supporting actors, Satish Kaushik is endearing as the physically unfit, lower-caste colleague to Anil Kapoor's inspector Surekha Singh.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Chaudhary who had earlier made <i>Shaadistan</i>, a cringing take on feminism, lends a maturity and nuance to <i>Thar</i> which is refreshing. The dialogues by Anurag Kashyap fail to hold much weight, except that every dialogue begins with a cuss word to make it look impactful. Fatima Sana Shaikh is smouldering in every frame and lends herself well to the portrayal of her character as an insignificant wife. Surekha Singh has to solve the murders carried out by Siddharth, an antique dealer, in a village called Munabao in Rajasthan and in doing so, he looks for fulfilment in the last leg of his career as an inspector.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><i>Thar</i>'s gripping atmospherics, set in 1985, is captured evocatively by Shreya Dev Dube, as the narrative unfolds in the desert's grim expanse. The film offers variety; there are criminals, opium smugglers, an antique trader, policemen and women in domesticity, yet, one cannot help but feel that some more action on the part of the leading duo, especially Kapoor junior, would have made his character so much more meaty and his performance so much more endearing. This is a film that offers a thrilling and exciting cop-killer chase across a vast barren landscape, except that the dialogues add nothing to the drama and the climax seems hotchpotch. Yet, this is a relatively easy watch, if nothing else, for the eternal appeal of Anil Kapoor and Harshvarrdhan's good looks.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Film: Thar</b></p> <p><b>Director: Raj Singh Chaudhary</b></p> <p><b>Cast: Anil Kapoor, Harsh Varrdhan Kapoor, Fatima Sana Sheikh, Satish Kaushik and others</b></p> <p><b>Rating: 3.5/5</b></p> Fri May 06 19:53:15 IST 2022 doctor-strange-in-the-multiverse-of-madness-review-the-scarlet-witch-rises-and-falls <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>An underwhelming story; an overwhelming spectacle. That would be the best way to describe <i>Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness</i> (<i>MoM</i>). But, is that not what was expected?</p> <p>After all, the plots in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) projects these days are little more than building blocks to the next big war. If that turns out to be as good as <i>Avengers: Infinity War</i> (2018), well, it would be worth the wait.</p> <p>And going by the events of <i>MoM</i>, things seem to be shaping up pretty well.</p> <p>The movie picks up where <i>WandaVision</i> (2021) left off. So, anyone who has not watched the nine-episode mini series must do so before buying tickets for <i>MoM</i>. If not, they are going to be lost and confused.</p> <p>The start of the movie is engaging. There is not too much mystery regarding who the villain is. But, for those who have not guessed it, the reveal comes early on. Benedict Cumberbatch's Doctor Strange, usually so self-assured, is unsure of how to deal with this new threat. And that makes the gravity of the situation clear.</p> <p>Strange decides he needs back up and turns to Wong, the Sorcerer Supreme. Even as their army—sorcerers and apprentices from across the world—get ready for their last stand at Kamar-Taj, it is painfully obvious that they will not last long. The fight (read annihilation) that follows though was not well choreographed and was a little boring.</p> <p>But, the audience do not get much time to think about the battle as the movie literally jumps forward. And into the multiverse we go. At this point, it becomes clear that the 2021 animated anthology series <i>What If...? </i>was also important. Those who have not watched <i>What If...?</i> will not be able to appreciate the 'multiversal quest' the same as those who have.</p> <p><i>MoM </i>is the most visually stunning movie in the MCU so far. And that is definitely no mean feat. But, it lacks punch apart from those scenes and the well-known, fearsome power of the villain. The writing is flat and the attempts at suspense are weak.</p> <p>Cumberbatch's attempt to humanise the superhero—Doctor Strange—is successful and he deserves praise for the stellar portrayal of the various Strange variants shown in the movie. The original Strange spends most of the movie being overwhelmed in fights, even the ones he wins. The one fight where he is able to go toe-to-toe with an adversary is well-conceived. The background music for this part is brilliant.</p> <p>Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch steals the show from the leading man. Olsen is phenomenal in her portrayal of the tormented former Avenger. Her characterisation fits in perfectly with the end of <i>WandaVision</i>. However, some of the dialogue was weak. Though Olsen has managed to make even those lines look convincing.</p> <p>One of the best scenes of the movie has the Scarlet Witch fighting a few familiar names in another universe. The battle was quite different from what has been done so far in the MCU. The movie/editing did the scene an injustice by not giving it enough room to breathe. But, <i>MoM</i> put the full range of the Scarlet Witch's powers on display and her character's arc came to a logical and satisfactory conclusion. It remains to be seen if, or how, the MCU brings her back.</p> <p>Benedict Wong and Xochitil Gomez as Wong and America Chavez, respectively, do justice to their roles. Though Chavez was key to the plot, she did not do too much else. But, we can expect to see more of America Chavez in the MCU going forward. It was nice to see Wong finally being given some screen time. The Sorcerer Supreme also shows of his previously underutilised skills.</p> <p>The return of Karl Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor) does not amount to much. Christine Palmer (Rachel McAdams) is given a bigger role.</p> <p>Overall, the Sam Raimi directorial is enjoyable and has just enough going on to retain the interest of the audience. It continues the tradition of mid- and post-credit scenes. The mid-credit seen sets up the future path for Doctor Strange and introduces an Oscar-winning actress and global superstar to the MCU. The post-credit scene is just a joke, but still worth sticking around for.</p> <p><b>Movie</b>: <b>Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness</b></p> <p><b>Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Elizabeth Olsen, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Benedict Wong, Xochitil Gomez, Rachel McAdams</b></p> <p><b>Director: Sam Raimi</b></p> <p><b>Rating: 3</b></p> <p><br> <br> </p> Fri May 06 17:53:36 IST 2022 flee-review-touching-refugee-memoir <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>This three-time Oscar nominated film is a gripping, heart-wrenching story based on the plight of migrants during war time. It will keep you engaged and intrigued right till the end through a seamless narrative that builds up gradually, frame by frame. As part of Zee Special Projects, <i>FLEE</i>, is a Danish animated documentary film, which launched on ZEE5 on April 29.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The best part of watching a docudrama in animation is that one gets to stay completely focused on the plot and narrative without getting distracted by the numerous influences brought in as a result of cinematic creativity. Based on the true story of Amin Nawabi, an academic refugee in Denmark, the film is recounting of Nawabi's disturbed past as a child refugee in Afghanistan.</p> <p>As told through the voice of the affected, the film throws a light on the perils faced by migrants across the world. Popular British-Pakistani actor and rapper, Riz Ahmed has lent his voice in the English version of this 90 min animated documentary.</p> <p>A Jonas Poher Rasmussen directorial, the film which feels like a refugee memoir bagged three nominations at the 94th Academy Awards in the Best Documentary Feature, Best Animated Feature Film, and the Best International Feature Film categories. The docudrama has also bagged awards at the prestigious Annie Awards, British Independent Film Awards, Gold Derby Awards, Sundance Film Festival, to name a few.</p> <p>At its heart is the struggles by Amin and his family to find a home and a normal life - as they move from Afghanistan of the 80s to Moscow and from there to Sweden and Denmark, their movement is constantly marred by intense hardship and the perpetual fear of being extradited or sent back to their country, Afghanistan. The actors are all believable and relatable in their roles and the cinematography is above par. At every juncture, the film manages to transport the viewer into the context on screen effortlessly. This is definitely worth a watch.</p> <p><b>Film: FLEE</b></p> <p><b>Director: Jonas Poher Rasmussen</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Tue May 03 12:33:34 IST 2022 cbi-5-brain-review-a-flawed-mildly-engaging-thriller <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Mollywood's own Hercule Poirot is back. Four films and more than two decades later, Sethurama Iyer is as perceptive, measured and astute as ever, and the distinctive gait and mannerisms of the character are well in place when he arrives to solve another seemingly daunting sequence of crimes.</p> <p>After the title credits that pay tribute to iconic moments in previous films in the series, the director-writer duo of K. Madhu and S.N. Swami introduces a case that baffled the CBI the most. When a minister dies under mysterious circumstances, and those connected to him, including a police officer who was probing one of the murders, get killed, the CBI steps in. The makers are aware that central agencies taking over a probe, even those that are barely controversial, are commonplace now, and so place the story safely in 2012.</p> <p>Before the release of the movie, the term ‘basket killing’ has been all over social media, thanks to writer Swami. The writer had refused to divulge more about the term in connection with the movie, and consequently, there have been a few speculations about the plot. The term did pique the interest of aficionados of the genre. As Iyer and his team probes, to the tune of that iconic background score, the death of a cop, they meet with corrupt cops, misdirection and a mysterious assassin.</p> <p>Over the course of the past two decades after the first movie in the series,&nbsp;<i>Oru CBI Diary Kurippu (1988)</i>, was released, investigation, as shown in cinema (and the scores of TV shows on several streaming platforms), has changed, for better. Sure, the brilliant investigator protagonist relies on his observational skills, insights and 'brain' to unravel the mystery, but technological developments which the audience is now familiar with have been equally resourceful to him/her. The director-writer duo has managed to keep pace with such advancements in setting up a plot device, and Iyer too, banks much on CCTV evidence and other advancements to zero in on his suspects. However, it is hard to overlook a few glaring plot holes, like a computer wizard carrying a highly advanced hacking software, in a pen drive, without encryption for the programme.</p> <p>A frequent trope in the franchise has been sexual promiscuity and/or the attempts to conceal it and a resultant crime. The fifth instalment of the movie too stays faithful to this trope, and so at the centre of the proceedings is sexual jealousy, while infidelity forms a subplot.&nbsp;</p> <p>There are a few twists and surprises to keep the movie mildly engaging, as bodies drop and new connections are unearthed. The director throws enough and more red herrings in your way, so every other character could be a suspect, or has an axe to grind. However, it is hard to overlook a few elementary things—that the method of murder shown in the movie might be inspired by an episode in the modern-day adaptation of Sherlock Holmes stories,&nbsp;<i>Elementary</i>.</p> <p>When Iyer returns to screen after 17 years, his gait and mannerisms are intact, and this appears to be a cakewalk for Mammootty. However, the film-making style of a bygone era, including the close-up shots and dramatic dialogue delivery, too, is back and the new generation of moviegoers may find all these a tad unappealing.</p> <p>The movie boasts a bevy of stars-- Soubin Shahir, Dileesh Pothan, Sudev Nair, Kaniha, Ansiba Hassan, Sai Kumar, Anoop Menon, Renji Panicker, Mukesh, Asha Sharath, and Ramesh Pisharody. However, there are hardly any characters that are well-developed or have an arc. Shahir fails to exude the charisma and menace that his character of a psychopathic computer wizard demands, and instead ends up being loud and tedious, without an ounce of nuance. The talented Sudev Nair is wasted in the role of a cop who barely has anything to contribute to the proceedings, while Sai Kumar as DySP Sathyadas is just a pissed off cop brought in for old time’s sake—there are a throwback sequences from earlier movies which have no bearing on the plot. Dileesh Pothan too has little to contribute.</p> <p>The movie also marks the much-awaited comeback of Jagathy Sreekumar. His character, Vikram, is retired and wheelchair-bound, but, offers the deus ex machina in the few minutes that he is around. It is a delight to see the actor on screen after a long time, and the move might find favour with fans of the franchise.</p> <p>If you are an Iyer fan and can overlook a few glaring inconsistencies and plot holes, the movie might engage you.</p> <p><b>Movie: </b>CBI 5: Brain</p> <p><b>Directed </b>by: K. Madhu</p> <p><b>Starring:</b> Mammootty, Soubin Shahir, Dileesh Pothan, Sudev Nair, Kaniha, Ansiba Hassan, Sai Kumar, Anoop Menon</p> <p><b>Rating: </b>2/5</p> Sun May 01 16:13:22 IST 2022 kaathu-vaakula-rendu-kaathal-review-a-tiring-watch <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>You might like both day and night. You might be a fan of both Mammooty and Mohanlal, Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan. You might like to have both biryani and curd rice. Sometimes, you might even mix coffee and tea and drink it like how Vijay Sethupathi's character drinks in <i>Kaathu Vaakula Rendu Kaathal</i>. The ‘two’ in these combos might sound normal. But if you think dating two women at the same time is unusual, then you might be wrong, and this is exactly what Sethupathi as Rambo does in director Vignesh Sivan’s <i>Kaathu Vaakula Rendu Kaathal</i>.</p> <p>The film begins with a television reality show, saying Rambo has a health disorder. We are then introduced to his past; his family believes that anyone who get married in the family would die. Rambo’s father marries a teacher, but dies on the day Rambo is born. Rambo believes that he is unlucky and feels if he is near his mother, she would also die. He moves away from home, only to learn about his mother's health condition from his aunt.</p> <p>Many years later, he is a cab driver during the day, and works at a pub at night. He continues to believe that he is unlucky. But things change when he meets Kanmani, played by Nayanthara and Khatija, played by Samantha Ruth Prabhu. He begins dating them both. All hell breaks loose when the two women learn that he is seeing them both. The rest of the story is about how he manages his relationships.</p> <p>It might be fun to watch Sethupathi playing cool when he is caught between the two women. However, the director tries to defend the character of Rambo and his decision to date two women. Sivan tries to normalise this with a touch of patriarchy. What if any one of his two women have another boyfriend or decide to date more than one person?</p> <p>While attempting to pass <i>Kaathu Vaakula Rendu Kaathal </i>as a lighthearted entertainer, the director appears to justify polyamory. A man having two wives was a familiar trope in earlier Tamil movies. Sivan too borrows this premise and ends up justifying patriarchy.</p> <p>Kaathu Vaakula Rendu Kaathal is a tiring and annoying watch.</p> <p><b>Movie: Kaathu Vaakula Rendu Kaathal review</b></p> <p><b>Directed by: Vignesh Sivan</b></p> <p><b>Starring: Vijay Sethupathi, Nayanthara, Samantha Prabhu and others</b></p> <p><b>Rating : 2/5</b></p> Thu Apr 28 19:28:48 IST 2022 jana-gana-mana-suraj-venjaramoodu-steals-show <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>When a film borrows its title from the country's national anthem, it gives away some clues. One would expect it to revolve around a socio-political issue, evoke the national spirit, or highlight something that touches the audience's conscience. Filmmaker Dijo Jose Antony's latest outing<i> Jana Gana Mana</i> does exactly this, and more.</p> <p>The political drama makes you rethink about some of the major national headlines (if you track the news) and viral social media campaigns that shook the country over the past few years. On the whole, <i>Jana Gana Mana </i>may<i> </i>feel like one of those year-end rewind of events that made headlines, because we tend to forget the biggest stories when the next 'breaking news' strikes. From campus protests, rape, dalit rights, caste discrimination in India's universities, student suicides and fake encounters, <i>Jana Gana Mana </i>packs in too many sensitive topics and raises piercing questions. Even with so many themes squeezed into one, the film does not feel unnecessarily heavy—that is where the well-written script stands out.</p> <p>Set in Karnataka in 2019, the film revolves around the rape and death of a college professor Saba Mariam (Mamta Mohandas). Police discover her charred body and it triggers public outcry and a series of protests as students demand justice for their teacher. As police crack down on the protesting students, the rebellion spills over to other campuses (including Maharaja's college in Kerala). The scenes are reminiscent of the nation-wide students' protests in 2020.</p> <p>ACP Sajjan Kumar (Suraj Venjaramoodu), who is entrusted with the probe, vows to nab the culprits and deliver justice in 30 days. Sajjan dominates the first half of the film, with numerous clap-worthy dialogues and performances. <i>Jana Gana Mana </i>is in fact, a Suraj show all through. With his body language and dialogue delivery, Suraj aces the role of a police officer handling a high-profile crime that has garnered national attention.&nbsp;</p> <p>Veteran actress Shari makes a comeback to Malayalam cinema as Saba's bold mother Shabana. Her restrained performance is notable in a role that could have gone overboard with melodrama.</p> <p>Prithiviraj Sukumaran's fans get to cheer for their favourite actor only in the second half in which he takes up most of the screen-time. If the film seemed like a crime investigation thriller in the first half, in the second half, it swiftly shapes into a courtroom drama that steers the plot in a different direction. Prithviraj as Aravind Swaminathan delivers a good performance in the scenes that are driven solely by dialogue delivery and not mass action or dance sequences. Prithviraj, who was last seen in the comedy family drama <i>Bro Daddy,</i> which he also directed, fits comfortably into the role of a middle-aged lawyer who uses a crutch. Shammi Thilakan, as advocate Raghuram Iyer who appears for the State, is a wonderful revelation and casting choice.</p> <p>Actress Vincy Aloshious delivers a note-worthy performance as Gouri Lakshmi, a students' leader with fire in her belly. Vincy, who has impressed audiences with her realistic performances recently in <i>Bheemante Vazhi </i>and <i>Kanakam Kamini Kalaham, </i>proves she is here to stay for a long time.</p> <p>Director Dijo, who debuted with <i>Queen</i>, which also revolved around rape and death of a woman, seems to be drawn to subjects of social injustice. The film also borrows heavily from yet another major news event—the 2019 Hyderabad gang rape case and the ‘extrajudicial execution’ that followed the incident. In the second half, Dijo and team raise pertinent questions about the definition of 'justice' in the country. What does it mean when a person from a certain community or socio-economic background is denied what is rightfully theirs? Why is it that the fight for justice is more traumatic for some section of people in the country? Where does media stand in the tussle between politics and crime? How does media narrative affect public perception and change the course of a case? Writer Sharis Mohammed treads carefully as he paints the current political landscape of the country—be it in the references to a minority community or the depiction of the colours of a political party's flag.</p> <p>With too many issues packed into a single plot, it feels like the film lacks a powerful antagonist. Guess one could say it is the system that is the villain here—the lust for power or 'adhikaram' as we hear many a time in the film.&nbsp;</p> <p>The dialogues in <i>Jana Gana Mana </i>keep shifting between Malayalam, Kannada and Tamil—this might get a bit difficult for a viewer who only understands Malayalam. However, all of these are given Malayalam subtitles and that deserves special mention. For those expecting a face-off between Prithviraj and Suraj after their wonderful performances in <i>Driving License, </i>this might come as a disappointment. The film's runtime could have been cut short a bit. As for Prithviraj's character, his back-story was given a rushed treatment—a part that would probably get attention in the sequel that was recently announced.</p> <p><b>Movie: Jana Gana Mana</b></p> <p><b>Director: Dijo Jose Antony</b></p> <p><b>Cast: Prithviraj Sukumaran, Suraj Venjaramoodu, Mamta Mohandas, Shari, Vincy Aloshious</b></p> <p><b>Rating: 3.5/5</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Thu Apr 28 17:07:36 IST 2022 jersey-review-shahid-kapoors-remake-lacks-the-dynamism-of-the-original <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>'Age is just a number... all you need is a fire within to make a comeback....'</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>This is the larger point that <i>Jersey</i>, a Gowtam Tinnanuri directorial makes, but falls flat while doing so. The film is so mind-numbingly slow and stretched (172 minutes) that it makes you want to either leave or take a snooze. A remake of the 2019 Telugu hit of the same name and by the same director, <i>Jersey</i> is based on a fantastic storyline - a zappy comeback of a once-successful cricketer who is now well over his prime. But the lacklustre execution and vapid delivery end up testing one's patience.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>That Shahid Kapoor, who was last seen on the big screen in and as Kabir Singh, maintains the same bearded look, dressing style and stone-faced expression throughout the film further add to the disappointment. In the character of an exceptionally talented Ranji player Arjun Talwar, Kapoor plays the role of a failed cricketer at 36 who is also a loving husband and a doting father. Having been diagnosed with Arrhythmia at 26, he is forced to give up on activities that demand physical exertion, and this includes cricket. As a result, he settles down to an everyday life around a government job with the Food Corporation of India until that too, falls apart. He soon finds himself unemployed and frustrated at leading a purposeless existence and being unable to provide for his family. <i>Jersey</i> is a scene-by-scene copy of the original, yet, it lacks the dynamism of the former.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Yet, one thing that doesn't fail to pull at the heartstrings is the chemistry between Arjun and his son Kitu, essayed by the very charming Ronit Kamra. The emotional turmoil Arjun goes through when he is unable to fulfil his son's wish for an Indian team jersey, for the lack of money, will move one to tears. Arjun's wife Vidya Talwar (Mrunal Thakur) bears the financial burden of the family and in that character she seems unquestionably relatable.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Despite using cricket as the sub-plot, the film fails to grip and engage. There is absolutely no humour; in fact, going by Shahid Kapoor's staid expression and monotone delivery, the film at best manages to depress the viewer. The jokes, which can literally be counted on fingertips, all fall flat. In the role of Arjun's coach Madhav Sharma, Pankaj Kapur who is also Shahid's real life father, seems natural and believable. He delivers an exceptionally appealing performance as a coach who tries to pull his pupil from the drudgery of a morose life and places him in the centre of the action - the cricket stadium.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>While the first half is dedicated to Arjun's struggles to try his best to unsuccessfully provide his son the jersey he wants, the second half focuses on the game but fails to hold attention. The dynamics of the relationships between a father and son, husband and wife, player and coach, could have been better fleshed out to make them endearing. The backdrop of Chandigarh and the Punjabi touch present across the film adds the much-needed zest and zing to the narrative. While Mrunal's chemistry with Shahid isn’t superlative, it does not look forced at any point. Yet, the relationship dynamics could have been emphasised more for nuance.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Kamra is the only delightful takeaway from this otherwise bland film, given his delightful and endearing scenes with his father Arjun. The scenes on the cricket field have been shot well and stays true to the sports drama genre it belongs to. Only if the film itself would have been infused with some life and energy.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Film: Jersey</b></p> <p><b>Language: Hindi</b></p> <p><b>Director: Gowtam Tinnanuri</b></p> <p><b>Cast: Shahid Kapoor, Mrunal Thakur, Pankaj Kapoor and others</b></p> <p><b>Rating: 2/5</b></p> Fri Apr 22 19:35:03 IST 2022 kgf-chapter-2-review-the-monster-is-back-in-style <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>“Caution: Danger Ahead”</p> <p>It was no statutory warning. The “monster” was back, more than three years after it tasted blood.</p> <p>With Rajamouli’s <i>Baahubali</i> films redefining the scale and style of Indian cinema, others too dared to dream. One of them was Prashanth Neel. His <i>K.G.F: Chapter 1</i> catapulted Kannada cinema into the national limelight like never before. Yash’s swagger, action sequences, slick filmmaking and an engaging storyline left the viewers yearning for more.</p> <p>And Neel did not disappoint. <i>K.G.F: Chapter 2 </i>- the much-awaited sequel – is larger, meaner, louder, gorier… and longer. If the first part set the stage for Rocky <i>bhai</i>’s ascent to the top, the sequel shows what it takes for him to stay there, and dream beyond. In the pursuit of his grand plan, Rocky locks horns with Adheera (Sanjay Dutt) and Ramika Sen (Raveena Tandon as the prime minister).</p> <p>Yash, as Rocky, is as menacing as ever. The swag is intact, but so are the emotions. One minute he is the ruthless killing machine, and the next, a 10-year-old yearning for his mother. Though he turns up in crisp suits, he doesn’t mind getting his hands dirty, when the need arises. Once again, it’s almost impossible to look beyond Yash.</p> <p>Unless, of course, there’s Sanjay Dutt at the other end of the spectrum. Swag is his middle name. He gets as much the whistles and cheers as Yash, when he makes his grand entry on the screen. (Frankly, yours truly was in goosebump mode for much of the film, thanks to Dutt and Yash!). Age has taken a toll on the veteran actor, but kudos to him for bringing Adheera alive on screen. His styling plays an important part in it, but the justification for it is, well, difficult to digest.</p> <p>Giving the two a tough fight is Tandon as PM Sen, who is almost as fiery as the two, but minus the gore. And she is not finished yet. The casting coup works brilliantly for this no-holds-barred show.</p> <p>Though there isn’t much to complain about the script and screenplay, the switch between Rocky’s past and present isn’t as smooth as it was in the first film. That, and the forced (and contradictory and confusing) love angle, affects the flow of the film.</p> <p><i>K.G.F: Chapter 2 </i>is a celebration of machismo and power. It makes a feeble attempt or two to pretend otherwise, but in vain. If you liked the first part, you will love the sequel. If you didn’t, read the signage and ‘take diversion’.</p> <p>TIP: Don’t leave the hall until they switch off the lights. Wait for it!</p> <p><b>Film: K.G.F: Chapter 2</b></p> <p><b>Director: Prashanth Neel</b></p> <p><b>Cast: Yash, Sanjay Dutt, Raveena Tandon and others</b></p> <p><b>Rating: 4/5</b></p> Thu Apr 14 18:17:46 IST 2022 beast-review-another-mindless-entertainer-vijay <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>In the late 80s, a run-of-the-mill action-thriller catapulted its hero, an unfamiliar face, to stardom. The action movie landscape of that era was dominated by beefed up hunks like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone. Bruce Willis’s John McClane of <i>Die Hard</i> hardly possessed the physical attributes of the action heroes of the times; he was an average joe, quite quotidian, who looked like he did not stand a chance against an army of armed hostage takers. <i>Die Hard</i> has since inspired plenty of filmmakers, and the premise of one man against a band of hostage takers has been a familiar setting in countless thrillers.</p> <p>Nelson Dilipkumar's Vijay-starrer too borrows the <i>Die Hard</i> premise. East Cost mall is <i>Beast</i>'s Nacatomi Plaza; there is a militant group—not just any militant group, the ISIS itself—that has taken the mall goers hostage, but the hero slips away, much like McClane, and it is up to this one man to save the day. The setting is similar, the season is the same (almost Christmas), but of course, the man up for the task is no ordinary copper, unlike the protagonist in <i>Die Hard</i>. He is Indian James bond, as someone describes him. A superhero of sorts, impervious to bullets because he flies between them, proficient with weapons of every size, shape and lethality—from bare-knuckle, to knives, guns, grenades, bazooka and even combat aircraft. He is former RAW agent Veeraraghavan.</p> <p>With <i>Kolamaavu Kokila</i> and <i>Doctor</i>, Nelson has evinced his penchant for exploring uncanny characters with darker shades. The track record, of course, did help in creating hype around<i> Beast</i>. However, the director seems to be in awe of the star that Vijay is, and grants the actor all his familiar tropes, including a tribute to himself in the form of punch lines from his earlier flicks. Vijay’s Veeraraghavan is a quiet killing machine, he also a master dancer, a wisecracker, and a romantic hero. The 'pasam' quotient is sufficiently high too; this time around, the protagonist’s heart bleeds for little kids. While it is important to make your hero human (unless your hero is Iko Uwais in <i>The Raid</i>), Nelson’s Veeraraghavan is the redeemer hero that Vijay has been playing in most of his previous films.</p> <p>Every hostage drama worth its salt is full of edge of the seat moments, but <i>Beast</i> is bereft of any tension, thanks to the comedy track involving a spurned lover, a security firm owner, Yogi Babu who is a Nelson regular, and the leading lady, played by Pooja Hegde. There is also a Union minister who has an axe to grind in the whole hostage affair, but this character, too, is made out to be a clown. This time around, the director isn’t even going for the sardonic humor that he opted for in his earlier flicks, but treads the slapstick route, making it impossible for the audience to be worried about the safety of those trapped inside the mall.</p> <p>The movie also suffers due to the lack of a menacing antagonist. For most part of the movie, the leader of the ISIS group, that is pitted against Veeraraghavan, is seen in a mask. The mask does not lead to a big reveal, but a passing twist that you don’t really care anymore because of all the fun and frolic during the hostage crisis. The other baddies, the aforementioned minister, and another militant, have little to contribute to the hostage drama.</p> <p><i>Beast </i>is an out and out Vijay movie, made for the actor’s die hard fans (pun intended). The actor absolutely owns the screen, especially in action sequences. The action, of course, calls for suspension of disbelief, but the star is convincing enough in the scenes, if you are a fan. The fights are well-choreographed, especially the air battle in the climax, well-assisted by Anirudh Ravichander’s background score.</p> <p>There was some hype around Mollywood actor Shine Tom Chacko featuring in a Vijay movie, with some even claiming that he would be playing one of the antagonists. However, the talented actor hardly gets any screen presence, and is wasted in the role of one of the terrorists. Hegde looks pretty, and that’s pretty much her role —look pretty, stay pretty throughout the hostage crisis, and feel jealous when another girl looks at her man. Director Selvaraghavan shines as the government negotiator Altaf Hussain (the good Muslim trope is thus intact).</p> <p><i>Beast</i> is strictly for Vijay fans, and lovers of mindless mass movies.</p> <p><b>Movie: Beast</b></p> <p><b>Director: Nelson Dilipkumar</b></p> <p><b>Cast: Vijay, Pooja Hegde, Yogi Babu, Selvaraghavan, Shine Tom Chacko</b></p> <p><b>Rating: 2/5</b></p> Wed Apr 13 17:00:22 IST 2022 dasvi-movie-review-no-concrete-takeaways-in-this-shoddily-made-affair <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Dasvi operates on multiple plots and narratives because of which it looks like a headless chicken trying to get at least something right. Right to education, powerplay between the genders, khaps and their anti-love rules, female empowerment in the face of toxic masculinity, are all fleetingly touched upon, yet, nothing concrete emerges as takeaway despite two hours of suffering in this shoddily-made film. It is disappointing that a stellar cast—Abhishek Bachchan, Nimrat Kaur and Yami Gautam—is wasted on an unimaginative and insipid script. Yet, all three come out alive on screen in their effort to keep the viewer engaged, at least in bits and parts—in doing that, each of them succeed unfailingly.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The plot is multi-layered—rather, hotchpotch. Haryanvi politician Gangaram Chaudhary (Junior Bachchan) as the incumbent CM of Harit Pradesh, has been indicted and jailed on the charges of corruption. As the Class 8 pass-out, flamboyant, street-smart macho CM gears up for a &quot;lavish&quot; prison stay, he instructs his&nbsp;meek, docile and obedient wife, Bimladevi Chaudhary (Nimrat Kaur), to take over the reins of power until he returns. All good till here, until a painstakingly&nbsp;long in-prison drama follows, and goes on and on right into the second half.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The ex-CM has suddenly and very randomly come to realise the significance of education and has taken it upon himself to appear for his Class X exams. And that is the beginning of the farcical. Running in parallel, the inanity of Gangaram Chaudhary's antics are very well supplemented by the fantastic and riveting performance of two very able women: Kaur and Yami Gautam (as the jail superintendent and strict cop Jyoti Deswal).&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Both the women shoulder the film really well and bring in sense and sensitivity to the plot. Kaur, in her transformation from the submissive Haryanvi wife to a conniving boss lady and acting CM, is totally relatable and a treat to watch. And, so is Gautam as the no-nonsense cop who takes on the big bulls, displaying the exaggerated Haryanvi machismo.&nbsp;After watching Dasvi, one is bound to feel that the film was scripted for Junior B rather than the other way round,&nbsp;given that he is literally in almost every single frame. The star precedes&nbsp;the actor and that becomes overwhelming for the viewer; which is why, it is a relief to watch the women take the centrestage each time the frame shifts.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Yet, it is the women who walk away with the prize. Apparently for a scene with Nimrat Kaur, who&nbsp;plays his wife in the movie, Abhishek Bachchan imitated Big B's body language from <i>Khuda Gawah</i> when the latter's character Badshah Khan meets his wife Benazir (played by the late Sridevi) after several years. While Bachchan has delivered as per the script, one cannot help but wish his part had more nuance and heft to it. The music is dull, while the cinematography is above par. Dialogues are bland, except for the few husband-wife exchanges between Kaur and Bachchan. Director Tushar Jalota could have trained his lens on the contextual&nbsp;background of Haryana while he was at work, and that could have shifted the spotlight from the overbearing focus on the stereotypical Haryanvi politician as essayed by the male protagonist&nbsp;in this film.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Rating: 2/5</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Director: Tushar Jalota</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Cast: Abhishek Bachchan, Yami Gautam and Nimrat Kaur</p> Thu Apr 07 12:01:19 IST 2022 sharmaji-namkeen-review-an-entertaining-coming-of-age-drama-of-a-retiree <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p><i>Sharmaji Namkeen</i>, directed by Hitesh Bhatia, is a popcorn entertainer that pulls at the heartstrings. In the character of a loving, doting single father of two grown up sons, both late actor Rishi Kapoor and Paresh Rawal deliver an exceptional performance, and make you laugh, cry and be totally entertained, all in under two hours.</p> <p>Both the actors are equally believeable as "Sharmaji" - an adorable sexageneraian with exceptional culinary skills, who takes to cooking to keep himself occupied after being forced to accept voluntary retirement, much to his chagrin. The film was initially slotted to be completed with Kapoor in and as the protagonist, but because of his untimely demise, this did not happen. That is when Rawal took over. The two actors flit seamlessly between the scenes, as if one just takes from the other and that is a treat to watch. Who would have ever thought that two different actors playing the same role would turn out to be so entertaining?</p> <p>A retired manager from Madhuban Appliances, Brij Gopal Sharma aka Sharmaji finds life too boring and is constantly on the lookout for work that will keep him occupied. "Why do we retire at 58? I am all good, healthy in mind and body. Why should I be forced to stop working," he asks, clearly appalled by the idea of an idle life. And that is when, much against the wishes of his elder son Sandeep 'Rinku' Sharma (Suhail Nayyar) who nudges him to "enjoy retired life," Sharmaji enters a “kitty party circle” as a “specialist cook”.</p> <p>A slice-of-life tale about aging parents and their complex and dynamic relationship with their grown-up kids, <i>Sharmaji Namkeen,</i> Amazon Prime Video's latest offering, also explores the many nuances of the post retirement life, and focuses on the crucial aspect of parents embracing the notion of self-love and autonomy while negotiating the so-called moralistic expectations that are continuously heaped on them by an ever-judgemental society. The entire cast is as believable as can get and the screenplay comes across as both, convincing and exciting.</p> <p>Satish Kaushik as Sharmaji's friend, Chaddha from Delhi's Subhash Nagar, is as charming as ever when he encourages his friend to pursue his passion regardless of the "society's opinions or judgements.” It is then that Sharmaji turns into an endearing home chef who rustles up lip-smacking delicacies on demand for a group of kitty-partying women led by Juhi Chawla, enjoys a game of dumb charades with them and seamlessly becomes a part of their group.</p> <p>The editing is so sharp and precise that at times one doesn't even realise the switch between the actors as they brilliantly blend into each other. Produced by Ritesh Sidhwani and Farhan Akhtar's Excel Entertainment, the makers had even thought of the use of prosthetics by Ranbir Kapoor as an alternative in order to finish the film. "But that was not a possibility. Then next option was to cast someone else: it’s been done before, but not in Hindi cinema. We had to find a really good actor… It’s not that Rishi Kapoor is in the first half and Paresh Rawal is in the second half; their scenes are mixed throughout the film, and you will see that they just become one," says Ranbir right at the start of the film.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Rating: 3/5</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>FIlm: Sharmaji Namkeen</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Director : Hitesh Bhatia</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Cast: Paresh Rawal, Rishi Kapoor, Satish Kaushik, Juhi Chawla&nbsp;</b></p> <p><i>Sharmaji Namkeen</i>, directed by Hitesh Bhatia, is a popcorn entertainer that pulls at the heartstrings. In the character of a loving, doting single father of two grown up sons, both late actor Rishi Kapoor and Paresh Rawal deliver an exceptional performance, and make you laugh, cry and be totally entertained, all in under two hours.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Both the actors are equally believeable as "Sharmaji" - an adorable sexageneraian with exceptional culinary skills, who takes to cooking to keep himself occupied after being forced to accept voluntary retirement, much to his chagrin. The film was initially slotted to be completed with Kapoor in and as the protagonist, but because of his untimely demise, this did not happen. That is when Rawal took over. The two actors flit seamlessly between the scenes, as if one just takes from the other and that is a treat to watch. Who would have ever thought that two different actors playing the same role would turn out to be so entertaining?</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>A retired manager from Madhuban Appliances, Brij Gopal Sharma aka Sharmaji finds life too boring and is constantly on the lookout for work that will keep him occupied. "Why do we retire at 58? I am all good, healthy in mind and body. Why should I be forced to stop working," he asks, clearly appalled by the idea of an idle life. And that is when, much against the wishes of his elder son Sandeep 'Rinku' Sharma (Suhail Nayyar) who nudges him to "enjoy retired life," Sharmaji enters a “kitty party circle” as a “specialist cook”.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>A slice-of-life tale about aging parents and their complex and dynamic relationship with their grown-up kids, <i>Sharmaji Namkeen,</i> Amazon Prime Video's latest offering, also explores the many nuances of the post retirement life, and focuses on the crucial aspect of parents embracing the notion of self-love and autonomy while negotiating the so-called moralistic expectations that are continuously heaped on them by an ever-judgemental society. The entire cast is as believable as can get and the screenplay comes across as both, convincing and exciting.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Satish Kaushik as Sharmaji's friend, Chaddha from Delhi's Subhash Nagar, is as charming as ever when he encourages his friend to pursue his passion regardless of the "society's opinions or judgements.” It is then that Sharmaji turns into an endearing home chef who rustles up lip-smacking delicacies on demand for a group of kitty-partying women led by Juhi Chawla, enjoys a game of dumb charades with them and seamlessly becomes a part of their group.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The editing is so sharp and precise that at times one doesn't even realise the switch between the actors as they brilliantly blend into each other. Produced by Ritesh Sidhwani and Farhan Akhtar's Excel Entertainment, the makers had even thought of the use of prosthetics by Ranbir Kapoor as an alternative in order to finish the film. "But that was not a possibility. Then next option was to cast someone else: it’s been done before, but not in Hindi cinema. We had to find a really good actor… It’s not that Rishi Kapoor is in the first half and Paresh Rawal is in the second half; their scenes are mixed throughout the film, and you will see that they just become one," says Ranbir right at the start of the film.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Rating: 3/5</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>FIlm: Sharmaji Namkeen</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Director : Hitesh Bhatia</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Cast: Paresh Rawal, Rishi Kapoor, Satish Kaushik, Juhi Chawla&nbsp;</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Thu Mar 31 17:25:24 IST 2022 rrr-review-grand-take-tribal-valour <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Showman SS Rajamouli chose two Telugu tribal icons to market his movie <i style="font-size: 0.8125rem;">RRR</i> right from the word go. Alluri Sitarama Raju from north coastal Andhra and Komaram Bheem from the rocky terrains of Telangana are considered legendary freedom fighters of the early 20th century. In the three-hour movie, the resemblance stops at the names and the costumes of the lead actors played by Ram Charan and Jr NTR as the story has no connection with the lives of the historical figures or the real events of that time.</p> <p><i>RRR </i>has a simple plot revolving around a tribal girl which has been presented on a grand scale, a la director Rajamouli style. The movie which went on the floors in 2018 had disturbed shooting schedules due to the pandemic and finally saw the light of the day with a much-hyped worldwide release on Friday.</p> <p>The movie is set in 1920, in the time of British Raj era. Malli, a child in a Gond tribal hamlet in Telangana catches the fancy of a British lady with her tattooing skills and pleasing personality. At the behest of her husband, Scott, a high-ranking British officer, Malli is abducted by the accompanying troops and taken away to Delhi despite protests by her family. The rest of the story shifts to Delhi and its outskirts where both the protagonists are introduced through powerful scenes.</p> <p>A. Sitarama Raju (Ram Charan) is a dutiful and a courageous police officer of the British empire who aspires to rise up the ranks. Bheem (Jr NTR) as the leader of tribal hamlet is out to get back the abducted Malli. Both meet unexpectedly in Delhi and forge a special friendship while keeping their respective mission under-wraps. The first half of the movie registers more than the second half. A few visually stunning action sequences and exceptionally synchronised dance moves from “Naatu” song stand out. Ram Charan’s role is high on daredevilry and seriousness, Jr NTR’s screen personality is humble and emotional.</p> <p>The second half of the movie adds more star power in the form of Alia Bhatt and Ajay Devgan. However, it loses steam as the movie progresses narrating the past of Sita Rama Raju and his real intensions behind joining the British rule. Almost all the departments including performances, screenplay and narration seem to taper off by the time the movie ends.</p> <p>A tried and tested formula in every Rajamouli movie is to elevate the character of the antagonist and show him as a formidable challenger to a hero. In this movie, that aspect is completely missing as Scott is cast in a forgettable role and has less screen time. Alia is seen in an extended cameo.</p> <p>The performances don’t come across as out-of-the-world and screenplay at times, is dragging and unconvincing. Rajamouli not just had two tribal icons in his movie but also two actors from iconic backgrounds of the Telugu movie industry with a huge fanbase. Ram charan is the son of actor Chiranjeevi and Jr NTR is the grandson of former CM and late actor NT Rama Rao. It looked like the balancing act to do justice to both the actors shifted focus from rest of the cast and storyline. Music by MM Keeravani is a saviour.</p> <p>All in all, the movie makes for a decent one-time watch, given the effort that went into it.</p> <p><b>Movie:RRR</b></p> <p><b>Cast: NTR Jr, Ram Charan , Alia Bhatt and Ajay Devgan</b></p> <p><b>Director SS Rajamouli</b></p> <p><b>Rating: 3/5</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Fri Mar 25 13:36:41 IST 2022 jalsa-review-intriguing-film-life-chances-inner-conflicts <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Very early on in the film <i>Jalsa</i>, directed by Suresh Triveni, one is stirred, shocked and spooked. A young teenager and her boyfriend are having fun-- chit-chatting and running around on a deserted pedestrian bridge post-midnight when suddenly the girl gets uncomfortable and begins to walk away. As she stomps out and the boy chases after her, she's hit by a speeding car that flings her in the air before throwing her onto the footpath, her body badly injured and bloodied.</p> <p>The woman behind the wheels, Maya Menon (Vidya Balan) a top-notch investigative journalist working for a TV channel who is a few pegs down, takes one look at the girl she's just knocked off through her rear-view mirror and then speeds off. All the while her hands trembling with fear, guilt and rage. In a few minutes we are told that the girl who somehow magically manages to remain alive and continues to fight for her life inside a hospital is the daughter of Menon's house help and cook Ruksana (Shefali Shah). And as if offering multiple layers of morality for the audience to dissect and understand, Ruksana is the one in charge of Menon's own and only child, the physically challenged Ayush (Surya Kasibhatla).</p> <p>In many ways, <i>Jalsa</i> is a commentary on the whirlwind of emotions that envelop us in the face of a tragedy, an accident and personal loss and the interplay between our own inner morality against the overbearing context of ambition, power, class and greed. Given that Menon's public image revolves around her integrity and uprightness, it is not easy for her to accept and admit her guilt of knocking down her maid's daughter but she eventually does it right towards the end, and coincidentally her acceptance and admission come right at the time when Ruksana decides to give it back and revenge her daughter's misery by unleashing fear and dread on Menon's son when she leaves him all alone mid-sea to help himself.</p> <p>For most of the film, Ruksana remains unaware that the woman whom she is working for, whose son is under her care day and night, is the same woman who has unleashed pain and agony on her own daughter and when she finds this out, her own conscience is put to test. <i>Jalsa</i> is a film that will be relatable at so many levels for so many people; an unslottable film that speaks about life itself, to anyone who is willing to hear. It is the element of chance that's peppered across the film that makes <i>Jalsa</i> intriguing and engaging.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>Both, Shefali Shah and Vidya Balan transport the viewer into a universe of emotions; Shah as the distraught and progressively bitter Ruksana and Balan as one who struggles to hide her guilt behind layers of confidence. The casting of Surya, who has cerebral palsy by birth that has impacted his ability to walk and speak clearly, is one of the many reasons why the film must be celebrated. On his own website, Surya mentions, 'I have speech impairment, but I can still speak 3 languages (English, Hindi and Telugu). In spite of these troubles, I am a very positive, happy, hardworking, and a determined person, and I don't let my disability hinder my confidence and work!&nbsp; I have a knack for music, learning languages and cooking. I play keyboard and sing songs. I have also learned to speak basic conversational Spanish.' And that his character was not essayed by an actor but by him alone, makes <i>Jalsa</i> worth watching. The film is fast paced and keeps the viewer gripped at all times.&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Film: Jalsa</b></p> <p><b>Director: Suresh Triveni</b></p> <p><b>Cast: Vidya Balan, Rohini Hattangady, Shefali Shah</b></p> <p><b>Rating: 4/5</b></p> Sat Mar 19 10:27:33 IST 2022 bachchan-pandey-review-will-the-og-please-stand-up <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Let’s play a game. Which was the last Bollywood remake of a south-Indian film that was better than the original (forget box office collections)? Your time starts now.</p> <p>While you are at it, let me remind you of the godfather of remakes in Bollywood – Priyadarshan. The veteran director has not only put his own hit films to the sword, but also condemned those of other filmmakers to the same fate. (His unforgivable sin remains the remaking of the Malayalam cult classic, <i>Manichithrathazhu</i>,<i> </i>into <i>Bhool Bhulaiyaa</i>).</p> <p>Akshay Kumar was Priyadarshan’s partner in crime in it, reprising the lead role made iconic by none other than Mohanlal. From <i>Bhool Bhulaiyaa </i>to<i> Khatta Meetha </i>to <i>Garam Masala</i>, Kumar has played the lead in several of his films. But the actor didn’t stop at Priyadarshan, sadly. Kumar starred in other remakes like <i>Boss</i>, <i>Rowdy Rathore</i>, <i>Holiday</i>, <i>Gabbar is Back</i>, <i>Laxmii</i>….</p> <p><i>Bachchan Pandey</i> is Farhad Samji’s humble offering to that list. Kumar plays the dreaded gangster Bachchan Pandey, while Kriti Sanon plays Myra, an aspiring filmmaker, who decides to direct his biopic. How she overcomes the challenges and whether she and Pandey get what they desire in life, is what <i>Bachchan Pandey</i> is all about.</p> <p>The film is an ‘adaptation’ of Karthik Subbaraj’s genre-bending 2014 Tamil flick <i>Jigarthanda</i>. Siddharth played the lead in it. The film won two National awards, including the one for best actor in supporting role to Bobby Simha.</p> <p>So, how does Samji fit <i>Jigarthanda</i> into the Bollywood template? First, put Bachchan in the title to grab the eyeballs (even the stone ones, like B.P. has!). Is there a connection? You wish. Next, get THE REMAKE MAN on board as the dreaded gangster, and put him in a fictional place (play it safe, you know) north of India, and give him an “Awadhi” accent which is neither here nor there (all these, with the wild west music in the background). Give him a random back story, sensible or not. Throw in a couple of songs – one to show Pandey’s villainy and the other… er… Samji alone knows why. Next, bring in the ravishing Sanon and Jacqueline Fernandez to brighten up the frames. The perennial sidekick – a wasted Arshad Warsi, here – yes. And, finally, the stereotypical comic relief – Pankaj Tripathi as Bhavesh sir.</p> <p>Yes, <i>Bachchan Pandey</i> is designed to play to the galleries. Kumar, with his swag and energy despite the age, is sure to give his fans several claps-and-whistle moments. Sanon, too, has put in a commendable performance. She is more than just a pretty face in the film, and holds her own against Kumar. Warsi (made me miss ‘Munnabhai’ as the gangster, with ‘Circuit’ in tow) and Tripathi try hard to make us laugh, and they have our sympathies.</p> <p>With six writers (and that’s excluding the original one, which was Subbaraj!), <i>Bachchan Pandey</i> is a classic example of too many cooks doing you-know-what. Even the ‘twist’ fails to save this one.</p> <p><b>P.S.:</b></p> <p>Time’s up! <i>Hera Pheri</i>, you say?</p> <p><i>Ramji Rao Speaking</i>: “Hold my beer…!”</p> <p><b>Film: Bachchan Pandey</b></p> <p><b>Language: Hindi</b></p> <p><b>Director: Farhad Samji</b></p> <p><b>Cast: Akshay Kumar, Kriti Sanon, Arshad Warsi and others</b></p> <p><b>Rating: 2/5</b></p> Fri Mar 18 19:38:00 IST 2022 salute-review-dulquers-whodunnit-is-realistic-but-tepid <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The men in khaki in Malayalam film industry have more often than not been depicted as opposite ends of the spectrum. So, we either had ‘near-perfect’, moustache-twirling cops, bristling with masculine pride, or those who were evil-personified. An ordinary cop was a rarity, and was often confined to the sidelines.</p> <p>The ‘new wave’ in Malayalam cinema, however, changed it for the good. In the past few years, we had films like <i>Action Hero Biju</i> (to some extent), <i>Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum</i>, <i>Nayattu</i>, <i>Unda</i> and <i>Kurup</i> depicting real-life issues the policemen face, both professionally and personally.</p> <p>Rosshan Andrrews’s <i>Salute</i> belongs to this category, but that’s where the similarity ends sadly. Sparks were expected to fly, with Dulquer Salmaan and Andrrews combining with ace scriptwriters Bobby and Sanjay. But what we get is a tepid investigation drama stretched over 142 minutes.</p> <p>Aravind Karunakaran (DQ), a smart, young SI with ideals, considers his elder brother DySP Ajith (Manoj K. Jayan) his idol. But a botched probe into a double murder drives a wedge between the siblings. Whether Aravind succeeds in finding the real culprit (who has shades of Kurup in him!) and the brothers reunite, forms the rest of the story.</p> <p>With a storyline like this, it was up to the cat-and-mouse game, or the one-upmanship between the brothers who are also cops, to keep the audience on the edge of the seats. But there are hardly any surprises—you can tell the turns (no twists, sorry) from a mile away. The script meanders from one situation to another, thanks to one coincidence too many.</p> <p>One of the few positives is how the trials and tribulations of police job are shown without any melodrama.</p> <p>The biggest let-down was, probably, how a good cast was wasted. DQ and Manoj K. Jayan almost sleepwalk through their roles. Veterans like Indrans, Saikumar and Alencier Ley hardly have anything substantial to do or say. Promising newbies like Saniya Iyappan and Deepak Parambol are given blink-and-you-miss roles. And it beats me what Diana Penty was doing in this film! She is as unconvincing as Sobhita Dhulipala in <i>Kurup</i> and does not even get as much screen time (thankfully).</p> <p><i>Salute</i> does not have the thrills of a <i>Traffic</i> or <i>Mumbai Police </i>(both written by Bobby and Sanjay), nor the criminal creativity of <i>Kurup</i>. With a bit more depth into the background of the main characters and an engaging cat-and-mouse game, it could have been much more than a one-time watch.</p> <p><b>Film: Salute</b></p> <p><b>Language: Malayalam</b></p> <p><b>Director: Rosshan Andrrews</b></p> <p><b>Cast: Dulquer Salmaan, Manoj K. Jayan, Diana Penty and others</b></p> <p><b>Rating: 3/5</b></p> <p><b>OTT platform: SonyLiv</b></p> Thu Mar 17 19:40:14 IST 2022 pada-review-a-searing-political-drama-that-retells-an-act-defiance <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>In 1893, Ayyankali, a 30-year-old man from an "untouchable" caste rode a <i>Villuvandi</i> (ox-cart)—wearing a white lungi, white vest, a matching shawl, a white turban, and spotting a thick mustache—challenging the caste law that banned untouchables from accessing the public roads of Travancore. The defiance he had shown towards the state and the power-wielding castes was a turning point in the history of the fight for social justice by subaltern communities in Kerala.</p> <p>In 1996, 103 years after the <i>Villuvandi yatra</i>, a group of leftist revolutionaries formed a <i>pada</i> (battalion) in Ayyankali’s name to challenge the mighty Indian state and raise the needs of one of the most marginalised communities in the country—the Adivasis. Four of them—Ajayan Mannur, Vilayodi Sivankutty, Kallara Babu, and Kanhangad Ramesan—held the then Palakkad district collector W.R. Reddy hostage in his chamber for nine hours, with toy guns and fake bombs. This telling act of rebellion is retold in Kamal K.M.’s new film <i>Pada</i>.</p> <p>The film starts with a note saying it is based on real incidents, but clarifies that <i>Pada</i> is not a documentary—that there are fictional elements in it. The script by Kamal carefully weaves fictional and historical elements together to bring out a compelling tale. The most appreciable thing about the script is that it tries to explore the emotional state of every main character. Their respective backgrounds and their lives before the ‘action day' are established in a minimum number of scenes. Kunchacko Boban, Vinayakan, Joju George, and Dileesh Pothan play the main characters in this thriller.</p> <p><i>Pada</i> is arguably one of the best political dramas in the recent history of mainstream Malayalam cinema. It directly confronts the popular narrative that mainstream left parties have always been the protectors of the marginalised and Adivasis. The film does not hold any upper caste/privileged class-gaze (just as in Anubhav Sinha's Article 15) to talk about the issues of marginalised. It does not introduce a Messiah to save the poor and displaced. Instead, it portrays four ordinary men, who act in their capacity, to support the struggle of Adivasis. It should be noted the film does not try to project them as the representatives or protectors of Adivasis. It rather portrays their act as something that is intended to bring attention to the progressing protests by the Adivasi organisations like Gothra Maha Sabha.</p> <p>Kerala’s tribal population is around 50 lakh. In the 1950s, tribals lost a lot of their traditional land to settlers who came from the plains of Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Successive governments at the Centre or state did not take any action against those who encroached the land. In 1975, in the wake of the spread of Naxalism in the country, prime minister Indira Gandhi had asked the state governments to enact legislation to restore the alienated tribal land. Incidentally, the Kerala government passed the Kerala Scheduled Tribes (Restriction of Transfer of Land and Restoration of Alienated Land) Act in 1975 and included it in the Ninth Schedule—to avoid the Act being challenged in any court. Under the Act, all tribal land that was taken over by settlers—using force or through sale or lease—after 1960 became illegal. However, the state government then slept on the Act—it took almost a decade to formulate rules for the implementation of the Act. Even after 1986, the government chose not to do much for implementing the laws. However, in 1993, the Kerala High Court asked the government to implement the Act in six months. The government got over 8,000 applications involving a total area of 11,000 hectares for restoration. However, the state restored the land only in 13 cases; after that, it stopped the process saying the government action would result in conflict between tribals and settlers. The court intervened again. It asked the government to implement the Act by April 1996. This forced the government to amend the Act. The new law passed on September 23, 1996, legitimised all tribal land transactions between 1960 and 1986—watering down the original Act. This new law was the trigger for the hostage action by Ayyankali Pada.</p> <p>Kamal keeps these historical details intelligently in the dialogues, in a simple language, to give the context to the audience.</p> <p>Malayalam cinema has a notorious history of misrepresenting tribals and tribal issues. Filmmakers like Priyadarshan and Ali Akbar have portrayed tribals as "cultureless creatures", comical figures or punching bags in their films. It was in the last decade that the Malayalam film industry became more conscious and sensitised about the representation of tribals. <i>Kenjira</i>, <i>Perariyathavar</i> and <i>Pappilo Buddha</i> were some of the films that heralded this change. Mammootty-starrer <i>Unda</i> also tried to represent the issues and troubles faced by the tribals. <i>Pada</i> is the latest addition to the list of films showing sensitivity to the lives and struggles of tribals.</p> <p>Music plays an important role in keeping the tempo and thriller mood of the film. It employs an experienced cast, and they all deliver fine acting moments on screen. Kamal’s debut film <i>ID</i> also was an effort to tell the issues of the marginalised. Compared to <i>ID</i>, <i>Pada</i> has a bigger canvas and budget.</p> <p>The film tries to speak for the people who are tagged “anti-nationals” or “terrorists”, and are chased and gunned down by the state at the behest of the privileged classes. In the coming days, the film will surely open major discussions in the hyper-political Malayali cyberspace.</p> <p><b>Movie: Pada</b></p> <p><b>Written and directed by: Kamal K.M.</b></p> <p><b>Cast: Kunchacko Boban, Vinayakan, Joju George, Dileesh Pothan, Prakash Raj, Unnimaya Prasad, Kani Kusruti, Shine Tom Chacko</b></p> <p><b>Rating: 4/5</b></p> <p><br> <br> </p> Fri Mar 11 18:09:24 IST 2022 radhe-shyam-review-a-love-story-steeped-in-pseudoscience <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Can there be belief systems worse than superstitions? Try the heady concoction of pseudo science, shallow philosophy and religion that argues that everything is pre-determined. <i>Radhe Shyam </i>is all about this, with a love story set in a world ruled by these.</p> <p>The movie begins with a seer, played by<b> </b>Sathyaraj<b> </b>ridiculing a scientist because the latter questions the pointlessness of deciding the ‘right time’ for launching a satellite into the space. The pseudoscience the all-knowing, palm reading blind astrologer spouts would put even a certain bike-riding modern mystic to shame. According to him, palmistry is “99 per cent science”. This ridicule of modern science is a constant refrain throughout the proceedings. Gratefully, one percentage possibility is given to actual science, chance, and everything else there is because the show must go on, and you need to have some sort of unpredictability in the proceedings.</p> <p>The protagonist, Vikramaditya (Prabhas) is a palmist; he is hugely popular and the best there is, so much so he is called the “Einstein of palmistry”. Vikramaditya meets the then prime minister Indira Gandhi and casually tells her that she would be declaring the Emergency. But Vikramaditya isn't your average saffron shawl wearing palm reader. He is a playboy, and wears this proudly on his sleeve. He has ‘flirtationship’ (because to call it fling is meh!) with every other beautiful girl that he meets.</p> <p>The man lives in Rome with his mother, and there, he meets the beautiful Prerana (Pooja Hegde). She is the quintessential commercial movie heroine—the do-gooder, wide-eyed girl often seen in the company of children, and whose idea of an expletive seems to be “monkey fellow”. As with every commercial flick, it is love at first sight.</p> <p>They flirt a bit, he stalks a bit, and when he realises that she may be attracted to him, she tells about how he is all about flirtationship’ (goddammit, just say fling). She doesn't seem to mind much, because she has something to hide.</p> <p>When the moment of her reveal comes, he won't go for it because the man can “see” the future. He rubbishes most of modern science, because why bother with decades of accumulated knowledge from observation, experiment and research when all that is to be said and done ahead is already in the palm of your hand. The film goes on to explore how the girl and boy struggle against their pre-determined fate while staying in love.</p> <p>The director, Radha Krishna Kumar, had said it took him 18 years to complete the script. The plot, however, lacks depth and nuance, and the characters are devoid of intricacy. I wish he also had read a few books on science during those 18 years so that he would desist his constant need to deride scientific thinking and glorify pseudo-science. And, when the director, with much difficulty, tries to admit that all that is written in your palm or any other part of your body (just clubbing palmistry with Rumpology for the heck of it) or in the stars, can be proven wrong, he carefully avoids calling the “99 per cent science” baloney.</p> <p>Sure, I can take for granted a bit of myth, mythology, or story of people who choose to believe all that there is, has already been written. But when it comes along with scoffing of people who choose to side with proven science, it is hard to digest.</p> <p>The leading duo of Prabhas and Pooja Hegde sleepwalk through their roles, as the plot does not give them much to perform except to look good most of the time, and a bit desperate occasionally.</p> <p>Sathyaraj looks the part and does what is expected, <i>ie</i>. be the all-knowing sage who is occasionally shocked, and Bhagyashree as Vikramaditya's mother is, well, a doting mother. She is a dancer too. And that's about it. Jagapathi Babu is wasted in the role of a billionaire wanting to be a politician. The director brings him in, makes him look like he might go against Vikramaditya because he hates the hero’s guts, but gives him a quiet exit which in no way affects the plot. The role is just there to reiterate the “science” that you really can’t escape what’s on your palm!</p> <p>There is plenty of pastel colours in the movie, in fact it is all about pastel colours, grand palaces, good looking people, until the very end when all things become a bit dark. Well, it is a happy world (almost), but the overuse of the color-tone takes away even the last bit of realism. The cinematography is commendable, especially in the climatic sequence, which is the only attractive part of the entire proceedings.</p> <p><i>Radhe Shyam </i>is touted as a musical love story, but S. Thaman's composition is at times too loud, and other times too commonplace. There isn't any tune that will stay with you when you are walking out of the cinemas.</p> <p><i>Radhe Shyam </i>is for you if you just want to sit back, look at two good looking people, and some beautiful locations without giving much thought about plot or the absence of it!</p> <p><b>Movie: Radhe Shyam</b></p> <p><b>Directed by: Radha Krishna Kumar</b></p> <p><b>Starring: Prabhas, Pooja Hegde, Bhagyashree, Sathyaraj, Jagapathi Babu, Jayaram</b></p> <p><b>Rating: 1.5/5</b></p> <p><br> <br> </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Fri Mar 11 15:38:26 IST 2022 etharkkum-thuninthavan-et-review-suriyas-social-drama-falls-flat <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>After the critically acclaimed <i>Soorarai Pottru and Jai Bhim</i>, actor Suriya has returned to commercial cinema with <i>Etharkkum Thuninthavan (ET)</i>. Suriya dons the black robe of a lawyer again, like in <i>Jai Bhim</i>, but in <i>ET</i>, he becomes the judge and the executioner when the courts do not give him justice.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Kannabiran (Suriya) is a doting son to his parents, brother to several girls in his hometown Thennadu. He is a law-abiding citizen and a fearless lawyer who works for a social cause. The girls in Thennadu get married and go to neighbouring Vadanadu. Things turn sour between the two towns when one of the girls hangs herself. With Inba (Vinay Rai) preying on women, it is up to Kannabiran to save them.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The plot, which is based on the infamous real-life Pollachi sexual assault case, is weak, with no twists or turns. The sensitive issue of sexual assault is handled carelessly in <i>ET</i>. Though it tells the women about the police help app and how women should come out bravely and fight sexual harassment, it fails to convey the message strongly. In fact, the message is limited to the final few scenes in the film, and excet it, <i>ET</i> has nothing much to say.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Suriya looks the part, both in the lawyer's robes and in the dhoti. Priyanka Mohan as Aadhini has put in a good performance, especially in a scene where she speaks about the emotions of women, but her character ends up as one among the others. There are doses of humour, thanks to Devadharshini, who plays Aadhini’s mother Anjumani. But, other actors, including Soori, have been wasted.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Also, the film has inherent patriarchal traits though outwardly progressive. <i>ET</i> seems to depict that only men can save women, be it as a husband or as a brother or as a lawyer.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Film:</b> <b>Etharkkum Thuninthavan</b></p> <p><b>Language: Tamil</b></p> <p><b>Director: Pandiaraj</b></p> <p><b>Cast: Suriya, Priyanka Mohan, Sathyaraj and others</b></p> <p><b>Rating: 2/5</b></p> Thu Mar 10 21:30:06 IST 2022 the-batman-review-deep-into-the-mans-psyche <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Is Batman bullet-proof? He is now. For a movie that was supposed to be grounded, <i>The Batman</i> is guilty of making its protagonist, or his suit, damn near invincible. Apart from the bullets that do not do any real damage, there is also a bomb that goes off a feet from his face. As a non-superpowered individual, you would expect that to do some damage to Batman. He gets thrown back and is unconscious for a while, but then recovers and escapes from police custody. Batman's absurdly high durability in this movie is disappointing because had that been taken care of, this would have been the best iteration of Batman to date.</p> <p>Once we accept that Batman's armour is made of some new, high-tech, indestructible material, we can look past that and at the movie. Director Matt Reeves delves into the psychology of the caped crusader and shines light on his scars. This seems like what Batman would have been had he existed in real life (except for the durability, of course). A boy who had to watch his parents get murdered is going to have a tough time coping. No amount of wealth is going to help the healing process. Grief and rage have to run its course. This is brought out well and this younger version of Batman is very different at the end of the movie compared with who he was at the start.<sub></sub></p> <p>One of the best decisions in the entire movie was to skip the parts which have already been shown over and over again in past movies. So, we meet Batman two years into his crime-fighting career. He is unsure whether he is making a difference and there is still much he does not know about Gotham's criminal underworld. We get to learn with him and this offers us a unique insight into the city. There is no montage showing the death of the Waynes. This is also refreshing. And, the movie actually shows a lot more of Thomas Wayne than you may have expected. There are questions regarding Wayne Sr's character and allegations against him.&nbsp;</p> <p>The fighting is good. The choreography of the hand-to-hand combat is arguably better than it was in Christopher Nolan's trilogy. But the action overall may be weaker. We see very little of the awesome new Bat Mobile and in the one sequence where it gets screen time, the premise is weak. (It really should not have been so difficult for Batman to chase down and capture the Penguin.) Also, Robert Pattinson does not look strong enough to pull off a lot of the feats of strength that we see (including pushing a giant table inside his house); it is easy to judge because we see him shirtless, a lot. But, the choreography, Pattinson's intensity and the visceral nature of the fights help.</p> <p>One aspect which the movie has really explored is Batman's investigative skills. The world's greatest detective has been underused by past movies. Here, we see him visiting crime scenes and collecting evidence with his contact-lens camera. The entire movie is more similar to past serial killer movies like Zodiac or Seven than it is to Batman movies. In fact, Paul Dano, who plays the Riddler, compared his character to the Zodiac Killer. The darker version of the Riddler is a definite plus. So, is the characterisation of Selina Kyle. James Gordon is not too different from the past iterations of the character. The rest of the supporting characters, including Carmine Falcone and the Penguin, are also engaging.</p> <p>The performances are generally good. Pattinson steals the show, especially when Batman/Bruce Wayne has to be emotional. Zoe Kravitz is arguably the best Catwoman ever. Dano is brilliant, despite the fact that he is masked for most of the movie. Jeffrey Wright as Gordon and Andy Serkis as Alfred are convincing. Among the rest of the supporting cast, Colin Farell is unrecognisable as the Penguin and his performance deserves a special mention. But, John Turturro as Falcone is at times a tad disappointing. The creative choices, such as the way the movie is edited and the camerawork, is aimed to ensure that the attention remains on the performances.</p> <p>In short, <i>The Batman</i> is darker, and arguably, better than earlier iterations, despite some issues. And had a few flaws been corrected, this movie would have been quite special. The fact that these problems, like bomb-proof Batman, were not that difficult to tackle makes it all the more irritating. But the movie is still a must-watch for Batman fans and is well worth a watch for others, too.</p> <p><b>Movie: The Batman</b></p> <p><b>Director: Matt Reeves</b></p> <p><b>Cast: Robert Pattinson, Zoe Kravitz, Paul Dano, Jeffrey Wright, Andy Serkis, John Turturro, Colin Farell</b></p> <p><b>Rating: 3.5/5</b></p> Fri Mar 04 15:32:42 IST 2022 naradan-review-a-bland-melodramatic-take-on-the-business-of-making-news <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>In March 2017, a Malayalam news channel made its debut with a “breaking news” about a state minister. Their opening news bulletin was based on an audio clip that allegedly involved sexually explicit remarks of the minister to a woman who had approached him to make a complaint. The channel had edited out the voice of the woman. The clip was aired with the scroll: 'A minister who is an insult to the ministry'. Within a few hours after the telecast, the minister stepped down, but after declaring that his resignation is to “uphold the integrity” of his party and the coalition government.</p> <p>The scandal caused a huge uproar. For a few days, the channel CEO defended the clip, claiming that it was not part of a sting operation or a honey trap. However, after the case was transferred to the crime branch, the channel changed its position and announced that the clip was part of a sting op and the woman who had called the minister was a channel employee. Soon, the channel CEO and four other journalists were arrested.</p> <p>Aashiq Abu’s new film <i>Naradan</i>, starring Tovino Thomas in the lead, seems to be inspired by this sleazy episode, and many other such incidents in Indian journalism. The film follows the rise and fall of a news anchor, Chandra Prakash aka CP. The first half of the film explores how Chandra Prakash, an unmotivated news anchor, transforms himself to ascend the ladder of career success. This part of the film also tries to show how things work on a channel floor, and explores the dark side of news business. Unfortunately, the film is too bland and melodramatic. The worst part of the first half is Chandra Prakash’s transformation scene—a “life coach” who would speak in a special kind of Malayalam (read it weird kind) transforms him into a charismatic news anchor. In the second half, the film become more preachy and pretentious.</p> <p>The problem with <i>Naradan</i> is that it attempts to say a lot of things but fails to articulate any of them. Aashiq Abu’s lazy filmmaking should be blamed the most for it. Unni R.’s script tries to talk about the saffronisation of media rooms, moral policing and trial by media, and issues ordinary journalists, especially women, face in the industry. But the script fails to wrap these issues and incidents to offer a compelling watch.</p> <p>Tovino Thomas also fails to come up with a decent performance as the anti-hero. His dialogue delivery is awful. The film features Anna Ben, Sharafudheen, rapper Fejo, Joy Mathew, Vijayaraghavan, Balachandran Chullikkad, Raghunath Paleri, Indrans and Jaffer Idukki in supporting roles.</p> <p>On the technical side too, the film fails to impress— the background score is loud and monotonous, and editing is insipid. Overall, <i>Naradan</i> is a film that makes too much noise but offers very few moments to remember.&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Movie: Naradan</b></p> <p><b>Directed by: Aashiq Abu.&nbsp;</b></p> <p><b>Starring: Tovino Thomas, Sharafudheen, rapper Fejo, Joy Mathew, Vijayaraghavan</b></p> <p><b>Rating: 2/5</b></p> Thu Mar 03 17:10:41 IST 2022 bheeshma-parvam-review-this-mammootty-starrer-walks-the-talk-in-style <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>When a legendary actor-director duo reunites after 15 years of a cult classic, expectations are bound to be sky-high. It can also be a burden, which can easily weigh down the best in business. Add to it, comparisons with the iconic character and its possible shades in the latter one, and we have a tailormade situation for a make-or-break venture.</p> <p>Amal Neerad burst on to the Malayalam film scene as a director in 2007 with <i>Big B</i>, with none other than megastar Mammootty in the lead as Bilal John Kurisingal. Having worked with Ram Gopal Varma as a cinematographer in Bollywood, Neerad took Malayalam cinema by storm with his unique visual style of filmmaking. <i>Big B</i> was a slow burner, and achieved a cult following over the years for its technical brilliance and stylish narrative.</p> <p>The two were tipped to reunite with the much-anticipated <i>Bilal</i>, sequel to Big B, but Covid-19 threw a spanner in the works. The result? <i>Bheeshma Parvam</i>. The name spawned rumours that it was an adaptation of Bheeshma’s story in Mahabharat. And then, when the first look was revealed, there were remarks that it was <i>Big B</i> 2.0! After all, Neerad had been guilty of repeating himself in box-office duds like <i>Sagar Alias Jacky Reloaded</i>, <i>Anwar</i> and <i>Bachelor Party</i>. However, the actor and the director assured the audience it wasn’t either, and urged all to judge the film after watching it.</p> <p>Yes, <i>Bheeshma Parvam</i> is no <i>Big B</i>, and Michael Anjoottikkaran (Mammootty) is no Bilal John Kurisingal. Michael is the patriarch of an influential Christian family in Kochi in the late 1980s, who commands fear and respect from all because of his past. He is unmarried, and his mission in life is to keep the family together and is fiercely protective of them. Expectedly, his iron grip doesn’t go down well with some of the young blood in the family, and they join hands with an old foe to strike him down.</p> <p>But, how do you kill a man who, in his own words, chooses when to die (More shades of Bheeshma from Mahabharat)? The first quarter of the film is a nod to Francis Ford Coppola’s <i>The Godfather</i> (a tribute, one can say, to 50 years of the cult classic), and RGV’s <i>Sarkar</i>. The characters are introduced, and so is the simmering tension in the family, and the stage is set. But the similarities end there. Michael is no brooding patriarch, mouthing one-liners in his rich baritone. He can evoke a smile and strike fear in equal measure. And who better than Mammootty himself to reinvent the patriarch in his own way, which is as different from Vito Corleone or a Subhash Nagre or even a Velu Nayakar, as chalk and cheese. Mammootty, despite his age, brings in the intensity and swagger that the role deserves. Anend C. Chandran’s brilliant cinematography and Sushin Shyam’s pulsating music take it to another level. Be it his look or his body language or slang, the thespian continues to surprise one and all with more-than-subtle changes he brings into the characters, which may seem similar on paper, but delightfully different on screen. It is his thirst to experiment, which has made him part of critically-acclaimed films like <i>Pathemari</i>, <i><a title="Unda movie review: This Mammootty-starrer is a police story with a difference" href="">Unda</a></i>, <i>Peranbu</i>, among others in recent times. One gets the true measure of Mammootty the actor when one compares his range of work in recent times with that of the other icon of Malayalam cinema – Mohanlal – who has, time and again, been accused of repeating himself and seldom stepping out of his comfort zone.</p> <p><b><a title="‘Aaraattu’ review: Unoriginal mish-mash of classic ‘Mohanlal moments’ and tropes" href="">ALSO READ: Aaraattu review</a></b></p> <p>So, is Michael yet another ‘superhero’ seen in mass films? No. This god bleeds. And he needs a shoulder to lean on. Enter Ajas (Soubin). He is the surprise package of the film, and is unleashed (literally) in the second half. Such is Soubin’s aura and energy that we hardly miss Mammootty is some stretches of the latter half of the film. In fact, the cast of the film, and the way each character is treated, are what drive the film. The story is nothing new – a large family with an array of characters, a patriarch, an old foe, betrayal and justice in the end. But what sets <i>Bheeshma Parvam</i> apart is that the characters are not mere props around the lead actor - be it Ami (the ever-improving Sreenath Bhasi), MP James (Dileesh Pothan), Peter (Malayalam cinema’s Midas, Shine Tom Chacko), Rachel (Anagha), Fathima (Nadia Moidu)… the list is endless! Kudos to the scriptwriters for treating the characters with respect, especially the women in the film, which isn’t the case in most of the mass flicks.</p> <p>The only blemish is, perhaps, the treatment of the antagonist. For a character such as Michael, and an actor of the stature of Mammootty, Sudev Nair as the Bombay-returned gangster Rajan Madhavan Nair falls a bit flat. Sudev the actor is at his usual best here, but one feels that Rajan needed more screen time and action in this family drama with revenge at its heart. Even the climax is far from what fans would expect, but then, it might be a deliberate attempt by Neerad to depart from the obvious.</p> <p><i>Bheeshma Parvam </i>sets the stage nicely for <i>Bilal</i> which is expected next year. Will the Mammootty-Amal Neerad duo crack it again? Let’s wait and watch.</p> <p>P.S.: It would be a crime not to mention 1) the production design, which does a brilliant job of recreating the 1980s, and 2) the sight of two late stalwarts of Malayalam cinema – Nedumudi Venu and K.P.A.C. Lalitha – together on the silver screen (in a different avatar, though!) for the last time.</p> <p><b>Film: Bheeshma Parvam</b></p> <p><b>Language: Malayalam</b></p> <p><b>Director: Amal Neerad</b></p> <p><b>Cast: Mammootty, Soubin Shahir, Sreenath Bhasi, Nadia Moidu and others</b></p> <p><b>Rating: 4/5</b></p> Thu Mar 03 15:48:15 IST 2022 gangubai-kathiawadi-review-alia-bhatt-aces-toughest-test <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Alia Bhatt has established herself as one of the finest actors of her generation. But, when she was cast in <i>Gangubai Kathiawadi</i>, there was apprehension that she would look too young. That concern is relevant, despite the good work done to make her look older. But, her performance more than makes up for the shortcoming of being young.<br> </p> <p>The first time we see Alia, she is Gangubai. Soon, there is a flashback. The cliched transition is irritating. But, when young Ganga comes on screen, the drastic change in personality helps you appreciate the layered performance. Just the right amount of time is spent on the starry-eyed teenager's angst after she is tricked and sold into prostitution, and her transformation into an assertive sex worker—Gangu—who demands leave to go watch a movie.</p> <p>Ajay Devgn's cameo is used well to spark Gangu's rise to become the madam of her brothel. It is often said that no one can play the brooding man better than Devgn. His turn as the don Rahim Lala is just more proof. However, just when we feel Devgn has done his bit, he returns. It is an extended cameo, you see, and, at times, it feels too convenient. Every time Gangubai needs help, Lala is there to “handle it”. How did the don have so much time? But, the plot is based on S. Hussain Zaidi's book <i>Mafia Queens of Mumbai</i> and the importance of the interventions perhaps justify the screen time.</p> <p>Lala also helps Gangubai launch her conquest of Kamathipura, via an electoral win against the reigning “queen” Raziabai, played brilliantly by Vijay Raaz. The segment showing the rivalry between Gangubai and Raziabai was gripping, but felt like it got over too soon. That is the story with a lot of the segments. Gangubai goes from one to the other and has interesting interactions with other characters, who then fade into the background. The first scene with Jim Sarbh's character is pure gold.</p> <p>As is expected from a Sanjay Leela Bhansali movie, it looks stunning. The music, also by Bhansali, is good. But, the songs mostly hindered the storytelling. Only one song—'Jab Saiyaan', sung by Shreya Ghoshal—really helped the plot by breezing through the budding relationship between Gangubai and her new, young tailor (Shantanu Maheshwari). The costume design deserves credit. The dialogues, including two speeches by Gangubai, are brilliant.</p> <p>On the whole, it is a laudable effort, though not quite a masterpiece. Alia takes on the most challenging role of her career with elan. The supporting cast is strong and the quality of production demands it to be seen on the big screen. So, do not wait till it starts streaming.</p> <p><b>Movie: Gangubai Kathiawadi</b></p> <p><b>Cast: Alia Bhatt, Ajay Devgn, Vijay Raaz, Seema Pahwa, Jim Sarbh, Shantanu Maheshwari</b></p> <p><b>Director: Sanjay Leela Bhansali</b></p> <p><b>Rating: 3/5</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Fri Feb 25 15:48:39 IST 2022 valimai-review-lots-of-bikes-weak-plot-ajith-film-test-of-patience <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>For actor Ajith Kumar’s fans who were waiting to catch him on the big screen, <i>Valimai </i>is a big treat. The sound of bikes and Ajith’s gritty look make fans excited. All thanks to director H. Vinoth who is back with Ajith in <i>Valimai</i>, after his <i>Nerkonda Paarvai.</i></p> <p>The film opens with cocaine being packed and shipped. And it reaches the Pondicherry shores and gets packed into small packets to be distributed in Chennai. And then a series of chain snatchings and murders happen in the city. When the city police commissioner worries about the increasing crimes in Chennai, enter Arjun (Ajith), Assistant Commissioner of Police. Arjun is a straight forward police officer. The hero is introduced at the famous Chithirai festiva in Madurai, only to reveal how he rises from the depths.</p> <p>Arjun’s family is dependent on him—elder brother is a drunkard, younger brother doesn’t have a job, and his mother is always worried about his brothers. And then, with the family, <i>Valimai</i>, moves from Madurai to Chennai, to chase the drug mafia and bikers. As Arjun begins hunting down the drug mafia and the bikers who are in the network, Sofia (played by Huma Qureshi) joins him, in his first investigation—a suicide case. He finds that drugs, chain snatching and murders are done by the same network. When the leader of the drug gang, Karthikeya, finds that Arjun is after him, the story takes a different turn. But when the investigation reaches a particular point, his family falls in the trap.</p> <p>The very opening of <i>Valimai</i> is very interesting. Director Vinoth sets a thrilling tone with the bikes at the beginning. But as <i>Valimai</i> moves ahead, the very sound of the speeding bikes makes the audience bored. Watching these bikes, Ajith and other bikers flying in the air, might be thrilling for his fans, but for the general audience, it is too exhausting. The screenplay, too, is a drag.</p> <p>It is interesting to watch the modern cybercrime control room with many women leading the show. But this is far from the reality of cyber security in India. Every character in <i>Valimai</i>, including Huma and both the brothers feel like add-ons with no depth. The characters are either fully for the hero or completely against him. The twist comes towards the end of the first half. And if you expect that the twist will make the second half much more interesting, it disappoints you. The second half is long and tiring with just bikes and bikers again. Besides this, Ajith’s expressionless face adds to the misery. That said, producer Boney Kapoor must have spent huge amounts of money to fuel the bikes, considering the skyrocketing fuel prices in India.</p> <p><b>Movie: Valimai</b></p> <p><b>Cast: Ajith Kumar, Huma Qureshi, Raj Ayappan, Sumithra, Karthikeya, Sundar</b></p> <p><b>Director: H. Vinoth</b></p> <p><b>Rating: 2/5</b></p> Thu Feb 24 17:26:07 IST 2022 aarattu-review-unoriginal-mismash-classic-mohanlal-moments-tropes <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Not many wait for the closing credits of a film to roll out in a theatre. But if you do wait for a few moments after the last scene of director B. Unnikrishnan’s <i>Aaraattu</i>, a line appears on the screen: ‘An Unrealistic Mass Entertainer’. One might wonder if this is a dig at the Malayali audience whose palettes have evolved with what we now call the ‘new wave’ of Malayalam cinema. Whatever the intention, the team honestly sums up the movie for you with this one line that is proudly displayed.</p> <p>The Mohanlal-starrer is set in a picturesque Palakkad village called Muthalakkotta. We are introduced to four youngsters who form the ‘Muthalakotta Battalion’. These young men are very actively involved in development of the village. Vijayaraghavan plays Edathala Mathaichan, a feudal lord and a loan shark. The plot revolves around 18 acres of agricultural land, owned by Mathaichan, and his plan to convert it into a commercial plot to construct a township. The villagers and the RDO Anjali (Shraddha Srinath) are opposed to the plan. The local administration wants to lease the land for cultivation. Acting on the advice of Sathyaseelan (Sai Kumar), Mathaichan ropes in Neyyattinkara Gopan (Mohanlal), to pull off his plans in Muthalakkotta.</p> <p>As expected, the buildup to Mohanlal’s entry is massive with Sathyaseelan describing him as a ‘terror’. Gopan makes his first appearance, in a black Mercedes car. The shots are set to play to a gallery full of Mohanlal fans—slow shots, music, and mass scenes in a mundu. In the first half, Gopan mouths many dialogues in a slang that is portrayed as the Thiruvananthapuram style in movies, but it doesn’t come easy to Mohanlal. The film takes a turn in the second half and throws in some surprise elements, plot twists and more actors.</p> <p><i>Aaraattu</i> heavily borrows from Mohanlal’s mass entertainers as well as classics from the late 90s and 2000s, be it <i>Aaram Thampuran</i>, <i>Narasimham</i>, <i>Balettan</i>, <i>Chandralekha and </i>even<i> Chithram (1988)</i>. There are also references from the highly stylised recent blockbuster <i>Lucifer</i>. Add to this a heritage home, lavish dance sequences jampacked with Kerala elements and MG Sreekumar songs. It feels like Unnikrishnan may have tried to pull a&nbsp;<i>Petta</i>&nbsp;for Mohanlal. From settings to the dialogues, the film blends in many moments of nostalgia for a true Mohanlal fan, but the script falls flat. The humour also does not come through, and it feels like an overdose of borrowed elements with nothing original to contribute.&nbsp; Eyeing audiences across south India perhaps, Mohanlal’s Gopan is also made to deliver recurring punchlines in Kannada and Telugu.</p> <p>There are many women characters in the film, but few have anything substantial to deliver. We cannot even recall the names of most of them. Reminiscent of the early mass entertainers, the script is peppered with innuendo and cringeworthy dialogues. Surprisingly though, in a deviation from the usual mass thriller format, the hero does not have a romantic interest in the film. Director Unnikrishnan and Udaykrishna, who has written the film, seem to have played it safe on that front.</p> <p>Mohanlal aces the role and the action sequences. For Mohanlal fans, who have missed him in true-blue mass action roles and were disappointed by the actor’s performance in the much-hyped <i>Marakkar: Arabikadalinte Simham</i>, <i>Aaraattu</i> is a feast. Rapper Fejo’s theme song perfectly sets the mood for action scenes.</p> <p>Johny Anthony who plays Mathaichan’s legal advisor has also done his part well, managing to crack up the audience on a few occasions. And watch out for AR Rahman’s cameo performance!</p> <p><i>Aaraattu</i> is a Mohanlal show for fans who love the man in his mass avatar and don't mind the lack of depth. If you are one of those, this is an entertainer for you. If you are a Mohanlal fan who loves the man for his subtle performances, stay away from this one.</p> <p><b>Film: Aaraattu</b></p> <p><b>Director: B. Unnikrishnan</b></p> <p><b>Cast: Mohanlal, Sai Kumar, Siddique, Vijayaraghavan, Nandu, Shradha Srinath, Rachana Narayankutty, Nedumudi Venu</b></p> <p><b>Rating: 2.5/5</b></p> Fri Feb 18 19:11:49 IST 2022 gehraiyaan-review-a-soulless-affair <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>First, <i>Gehraiyaan</i> has more to it than Deepika Padukone and Ananya Panday strutting around in swimsuits and negligees. And that 'more' is a lot of boring and lacklustre dialogues, much <i>rona-dhona</i> and a pace that will put you to sleep in the first hour itself.</p> <p>The plot line is interesting—a total masala film with a love triangle at heart, with layers of greed, ego and revenge. However, a great plot is ruined by insipid and unimaginative storytelling.</p> <p>Bollywood has churned out plenty of movies with triangle love stories that have managed to move the audience and stay with them long after watching them. Take for example <i>Silsala</i> (1981), <i>Kuch Kuch Hota Hai</i> (1998), or <i>Jab We Met</i> (2007). We loved the chemistry between the leads, the dialogues made them more endearing and the music further elevated the proceedings.</p> <p>In Shakun Batra's <i>Gehraiyaan</i>, we see zero chemistry between the couples, be it Siddhant Chaturvedi (Zain) and Ananya Panday (Tia), Deepika Padukone (Alisha) and Dhairya Karwa (Karan) or between Zain and Alisha, which forms the crux of the film. It takes multiple frames of physical intimacy to really establish the chemistry the couple (Zain and Alisha) shares; there seems to be zero intellectual or witty repartee between the two, and nothing really convinces the viewers of the spark between them except for crashing ocean waves that symbolise the swelling passion between the two in the most cliched way possible.</p> <p>Yoga instructor Alisha and adman-turned-writer Karan have been together for six years, but Zain's entry upsets the chemistry between the couple. Money plays a big role in Tia and Zain's relationship, too. The former's inheritance fuels Zain's real-estate business ambitions.</p> <p>An Amazon original, <i>Gehraiyaan</i>, is a 150-minute film which seems to have been scripted to suit the stars. However, all the four leads come up with tepid performances, lacking any sort of charisma.</p> <p>When Tia tells Karan that she's planning to start pottery classes, he replies, "Mujhe laga tu potty trained hai!" (I thought you must be potty-trained.) That's why you want to be angry at those who have scripted <i>Gehraiyaan</i>.</p> <p>The film also aims to bring Deepika and Ananya on the same age platform, even though in real life the two are separated by thirteen years and obviously nobody wants to be deluded into accepting that the two are contemporaries. If you still need a reason to watch the film, do it only for all four eye candies. Because that is all there is.</p> <p><b>Film:&nbsp;<i style="font-size: 0.8125rem;">Gehraiyaan</i><br> </b></p> <p><b>Starring: Deepika Padukone, Siddhant Chaturvedi, Ananya Panday, Dhairya Karwa, Naseeruddin Shah and Rajat Kapoor<br> </b></p> <p><b>Directed by: Shakun Batra<br> </b></p> <p><b>Rating: 1.5/5</b><br> </p> Fri Feb 11 19:04:02 IST 2022 mahaan-review-vikram-dhruv-pack-a-punch-crime-drama <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p><i>Mahaan</i> opens with a distraught Vikram, screaming alone. He burns his car. Soon the story moves back to 1968, with three boys fighting over a card game. The game ends and the three get hurt. Years later, one of them, Gandhi Mahaan, played by Vikram, wants to live a normal life. But his wife Nachiyaar (Simran) and others in the family are staunch followers of Gandhi and want Mahaan to live a Gandhian life.</p> <p>On his 40th birthday, as his wife Nachi and son Dada go out on a tour, Mahaan accidentally meets his friend Sathyavan (Bobby Simha), who is a liquor baron. As Mahaan comes back home drinking, his wife and son leave him. Mahaan and Sathyavan come together and their business flourishes. Later they come to meet Gnanam (played by Muthukumar), the other boy who fought during the card game. Gnanam is a politician. Things go smooth till Mahaan’s son Dada (Dhruv Vikram) comes back. And what happens later makes the plot--weaved together with several knots, emotions of a father, son, friend, family, estranged wife and even the beggar who comes to live with Mahaan during his troubled times.</p> <p>The film opens with a Gandhian quote: “Freedom is not worth having if it doesn't include the freedom to make mistakes.” Vikram as liquor baron and gambling king is not the kind of hero people might accept. Yet, he is right. You can be a ‘Gandhi’, but yet can’t live a satisfying life as a Gandhian, guided by the morals and principles every time. Vikram embodies this dilemma perfectly.</p> <p>Every scene has the Karthik Subbaraj touch. Especially the second half, where Rocky (Sananth) comes to meet Dada. Emotions fly high as the battle rages within Vikram, showing his indecisiveness. And with Dhruv’s entry as Dadabhai Naoroji, aka, Dada, the plot thickens. Dhruv is no less than Vikram in terms of performance. Bobby Simha, Muthukumar, Sananth and Simran deliver their best.</p> <p>Shreyass Krishna’s cinematography matches Subbaraj’s thinking as the actors deliver their parts with exuberance. &nbsp;Santhosh Narayanan’s music complements the emotional scenes. &nbsp;</p> <p>In this film, Subbaraj, clearly draws a line between Gandhism and Gandhians. Here, reluctant Gandhians do not go by the moral values and principles laid by Gandhi. The difference is seen when Dhruv comes in as a beast and when Vikram shuns his non-violence attitude and begins punching.</p> <p>While the first half lacks confidence, the second half gives a new high. The Subbaraj touch that was loved in Iraivi<i>,</i> <i>Jagame Thandhiram, Jigarthanda</i> is especially visible in the second half of <i>Mahaan</i>. The film, however, is long and tires you with a runtime of 160 minutes.</p> <p><b>Film: Mahaan</b></p> <p><b>Director: Karthik Subbaraj</b></p> <p><b>Cast: Vikram, Dhruv Vikram, Bobby Simha, Simran and others</b></p> <p><b>Rating: 2/5</b></p> <p><b>Streaming on: Amazon Prime Video</b></p> Thu Feb 10 12:50:26 IST 2022 looop-lapeta-review-the-run-to-save-your-boyfriend-thrice <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>They say the third time’s a charm. <i>Looop Lapeta</i>&nbsp;is all about life giving you a third chance to correct and redo your actions for a better ending. </p> <p>Based on the 1998 German thriller <i>Run Lola Run</i>&nbsp;(Lola rennt), <i>Looop Lapeta</i>&nbsp;has an intriguing and innovating plot that many filmmakers in India haven’t dared to experiment with. <i>Game over</i>&nbsp;[2019], starring Taapsee Pannu, was based on the theme of &nbsp;time. Although time is a crucial element in both these films, <i>Looop Lapeta</i>&nbsp;has a totally different scenario and approach.</p> <p><i>Looop Lapeta</i>&nbsp;and <i>Run Lola Run</i>&nbsp;have a similar thread, but the events and storyline are completely different. <i>Looop Lapet</i>a, directed by Aakash Bhatia and set in Goa, stars Taapse Pannu (Savi) in the role of Franka Potente (Lola), but with a bit more time to collect the money. Savi, a former sprinter, has 80 minutes to run around and come up with Rs 50 lakh, compared to Lola's 20 minutes.</p> <p>Savi runs on the time crunch thrice to save her boyfriend Satya (Tahir Raj Bhasin) from the clutches of death. The film goes all out to keep its viewers glued to the screen. The main challenge with a repetitive storyline is keeping the audience engaged, which the director and his technical team have managed to do well. Priyank Prem Kumar’s play with experimental editing and a compelling background soundtrack by Rahul Pais and Nariman Khambata play a major role in keeping the proceedings entertaining. The cinematography of Yash Khanna is elegant and distinct, a style rarely seen in Indian cinema.</p> <p>The movie also has a bunch of subplots. The clumsy brothers Appu-Gappu (Manik Papneja and Raghav Raj Kakker), Julia (Shreya Dhanwanthary) and Jacob (Sameer Kevin Roy) who are lovers shoulder the subplots. The stories of Appu-Gappu and Julia-Jacob are linked with Savina-Satyajeet's narrative and the outcome is messy and bizarre, but they sure the audience engaged.</p> <p>The oblique and unusual camera angles, the difference in aspect ratios, parallel projection of actions and juxtaposing events as a collage also add up to what makes this film stand out. The unusual elements in the film make the audience feel like they are in a video game, a game of time and death.</p> <p><i>Looop Lapet</i>a&nbsp;offers a unique cinematic experience, but mind you the movie may not be for everyone, as it is a genre&nbsp;that Indian audience is not familiar with.</p> <p>The effort the actors have put in to get into this unusual predicament is commendable. While Pannu has done a good job being Savi, Tahir as Satya proves that he is such an underrated actor. Tahir was last seen in the Netflix series <i>Yeh Kaali Kaali Ankhei</i>n.</p> <p>The&nbsp;audience may be tempted, given the form of the narrative, to seek a deeper philosophical meaning in the proceedings. But, to appreciate <i>Looop Lapeta</i>&nbsp;the audience will have give in to the film's unique spirit and mood. The 132-minute runtime is not a downer only because every element is sewn together perfectly.</p> <p><b>Movie: Looop Lapeta</b></p> <p><b>Directed by: Aakash Bhatia</b></p> <p><b>Starring: Taapsee Pannu, Tahir Raj Bhasin, Manik Papneja, Raghav Raj Kakker, Shreya Dhanwanthary, Sameer Kevin Roy, Dibyendu Bhattacharya, Rajendra Chawla</b></p> <p><b>OTT Platform: Netflix</b></p> <p><b>Rating: 3/5</b></p> Fri Feb 04 19:26:51 IST 2022 bro-dady-review-prithviraj-mohanlal-family-drama <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>After the success of his directorial debut <i>Lucifer</i>, Prithviraj Sukumaran is back with <i>Bro Daddy</i> in which he also stars in a lead role<i>.</i></p> <p><i>Bro Daddy</i> is a complete family entertainer. It is a breezy one-time watch that will crack you up many times. But at many other times, the jokes and dialogues become predictable. Keeping the fun part aside, the plot is a common one, yet it takes a very different route.</p> <p>The film focuses on the relationship between two families. It starts with an introductory song sung by Mohanlal and Prithviraj, showing John Kattadi (Mohanlal), Annamma (Meena), and their son Eesho John Kattadi (Prithviraj). The other family shown is that of Anna (Kalyani Priyadarshan) where actor Lalu Alex playing Maliekal Kurian has done a good job portraying a lively father.</p> <p>The movie is a different take on Ayushmann Khurrana’s <i>Badhaai Ho</i>. While the family in <i>Badhaai Ho</i> was extremely criticised and made to feel ashamed, <i>Bro Daddy</i> asserts that late pregnancies are nothing to be embarrassed about. The movie revolves around events that follow unexpected pregnancies in families. It is also about family relationships-- between young parents and their children. Eesho and Anna make a cute pair, and have a few surprises in store for their families as wells as the viewers</p> <p>Except for a few instances, the extremely predictable movie sticks to the comical mood throughout. The last few minutes of the movie, however, seem to be rushed with a lot going on. After the first few witty dialogues, Soubin Shahir's character feels like a bit too much. It feels like the loosely written character was only placed to force the audience to laugh.</p> <p>With great cinematography and vibrant settings, the film is aesthetically pleasing. Prithviraj proves he is a versatile director and actor and it is appreciable how he has handled such a loose thread. The movie’s production seems to be a fun reunion of the veterans of the Malayalam cinema industry.</p> <p><b>Movie: Bro Daddy</b></p> <p><b>Director: Prithviraj</b></p> <p><b>Cast: Mohanlal, Prithviraj, Kalyani Priyadarshan, Meena, Lalu Alex, Kaniha</b></p> <p><b>Rating:&nbsp; 3/5</b></p> <p><b>Streaming on: Disney + Hotstar</b></p> Wed Jan 26 13:09:13 IST 2022 hridayam-review-a-coming-of-age-drama-high-on-emotions <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Vineeth Srinivasan is back with a feel-good, newage drama that most youngsters can relate to. <i>Hridayam </i>has instances from the lives of Vineeth, his wife Divya, and their college mates, and the movie was shot at KCG College of Technology in Chennai where the director and his wife studied.</p> <p>The movie<i>&nbsp;</i>follows life of Arun Neelakandan (Pranav Mohanlal), from his teenage years to till he turns 30. <i>Hridayam</i>&nbsp;does not follow the traditional structure of a ‘beginning, middle and end’, but is more focused on telling the story of Arun and the events that shape his life. The film portrays Arun’s growth from a naive young boy to a confident young father, and follows the highs and lows in his life, including his friendships, relationships, emotional upheavals&nbsp;and career choices and worries, until he becomes a family man. </p> <p>The first half introduces the audience to the college days of Arun and how he falls in love with Darshana (Darshana Rajendran). Their affair is brief and in the events that follow, they desperately try to prove to each other that they have moved on, although they still long for each other. </p> <p>After Arun befriends Selva, a studious, friendly, helpful young man, he is motivated to focus on his studies and clear his arrears. The first half ends with Arun and his friends leaving town after the completion of their course. </p> <p>You meet a mature Arun, trying to figure out what he wants from life, in the second half of the movie. He finds his passion for photography and becomes a full-time photographer after he meets Nithya (Kalyani Priyadarshan), and they fall in love. Darshana is frustrated about the fact that Arun has moved on, but soon she makes peace with it. <i>Hridayam </i>is about the journey of life, how each of the protagonists evolve, grow, and move on.</p> <p>Arun is safe in the hands of Pranav, who has indeed grown as an actor. The director had stated that working on <i>Hridayam </i>was the most exciting experience he had since <i>Thattathin Marayathu</i>. The makers were adamant that the film should be a theatre experience, as the movie gives a lot of importance of songs and background score, &nbsp;&nbsp;composed by Hesham Abdul Wahab. Two of the tracks, ‘Darshana’ and ‘Onakka Munthiri’ are a rage already. There is more for music lovers in the movie—<i>Hridayam </i>has a total of 15 tracks.</p> <p>The cinematography of the film is also commendable, making <i>Hridayam </i>a grand visual treat.</p> <p><b>Film: Hridayam</b></p> <p><b>Director: Vineeth Sreenivasan</b></p> <p><b>Cast: Pranav Mohanlal, Kalyani Priyadarshan, Darshana Rajendran, Vijayaraghavan, Aju Varghese, Annu Antony, Arun Kurian</b></p> <p><b>Rating: 3.5/5</b></p> <p><b>&nbsp;</b></p> Fri Jan 21 21:26:15 IST 2022 minnal-murali-review-let-there-be-lightning-tovino <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Malayalam cinema has always been noted for its realistic scripts and portrayal of characters. The reach expanded with the rise of OTT platforms, in the backdrop of COVID-19 induced shutdown of theatres. National and international audience doffed their hats to many a film.</p> <p>So, when Malayalam cinema’s first superhero flick <i>Minnal Murali</i> was announced, naturally, eyebrows were raised. Superhero films have never really taken off in India. Reasons range from ‘inspired’ and un-desi storylines to shoddy VFX, and more.</p> <p>Director Basil Joseph seemed to have learnt from others’ mistakes. With promising young star Tovino Thomas at the helm, the makers pulled out all stops to market the film. But <i>Minnal Murali</i> is not all marketing blitzkrieg. First and foremost, the film (or should we say, franchise?) tries to walk before breaking into a run. Literally. The story is set in a nondescript and fictional Kerala village Kurukkanmoola from a bygone era, which has its share of quirks. Jaison (Tovino) and Shibu (Guru Somasundaram) acquire superpowers are being hit by lightning on the same night. They follow their own paths before destiny brings them face to face.</p> <p>What works for <i>Minnal Murali</i> is its self-effacing humour and local flavour. Not once, except in the climax, does it try to ape the Hollywood superhero flicks or its Bollywood rip-offs. Sample this: Minnal Murali makes his first public appearance in a <i>mundu</i> (dhoti) and shirt, and wearing rubber slippers and a bird mask. Again, in the first face-off between the hero and the villain, their masks and ‘costume’ are as rooted as it can get. Also, the situations that make Jaison and Shibu do what they do, are a reflection of the society everywhere.</p> <p><i>Minnal Murali </i>may remind one of <i>Spiderman</i> (the Tobey Maguire one) because of the underlying emotions, a simple storyline and an extremely endearing protagonist. Tovino fits the bill perfectly. He has the physique and the charm to pull it off. It is his second venture with Basil Joseph, after the superhit <i>Godha</i>.</p> <p>The surprise package might be Guru Somasundaram as Shibu the antagonist. Well, not so if you see his filmography, which has gems like <i>Aaranya Kaandam</i> and <i>Joker</i>. The pain in his eyes is haunting. Yes, his actions cannot be justified. Yes, he is evil (in fact, the evil persona is almost forced upon him unnecessarily in a couple of places). But one may be forgiven for empathising with him.</p> <p>The supporting cast, too, lift the film. Be it veterans like Mammukoya, Harisree Ashokan or Baiju, or newbies like Vasisht Umesh and Femina George.</p> <p>Which brings us to the female characters in the film. Joseph and his scriptwriters Arun Anirudhan and Justin Mathew try to balance it out with ‘Bruce Lee’ Biji (Femina) at one end and Usha (the extremely talented Shelly) and Bincy (Sneha Babu) at the other, but all are, in one way or the other, stereotypical. But is it too different in the real world in the era being referred to?</p> <p>Technically, <i>Minnal Murali</i> is a winner. And so is the music by Sushin Shyam and Shaan Rahman, especially the catchy BGM.</p> <p>The show has just started and there are ample signs of more to come. Will the novelty wear off as the franchise spreads its wings beyond Kurukkanmoola? Or will the Basil-Tovino duo spring more pleasant surprises.</p> <p>Let’s wait and watch whether lightning strikes twice.</p> <p><b>Film: Minnal Murali</b></p> <p><b>Language: Malayalam</b></p> <p><b>Director: Basil Joseph</b></p> <p><b>Cast: Tovino Thomas, Guru Somasundaram, Femina George and others</b></p> <p><b>Rating: 3.5/5</b></p> <p><b>OTT platform: Netflix</b></p> Fri Dec 24 22:21:04 IST 2021 matrix-resurrections-review-reboot-in-sequels-clothes-adds-little-to-the-canon <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Driving to the theatre to watch the Matrix Resurrections, I had Rob Dougan<b></b>’s “Clubbed to Death” playing on loop, rewiring my brain to the conspiracy theory-esque “is reality fake or real” thought loops that the franchise induced when I first saw it as a teenager. Like many who throng to watch such movies, I was ready to be red-pilled.</p> <p>Keanu Reeves is back as Neo, as is Carrie-Anne Moss as Trinity. Naturally, both of them are older. Perhaps this may make it harder for a younger audience to self-insert, which is why we are also introduced to “Bugs”, the blue-haired rebel played by Jessica Henwick (you may recognise her as one of the Sand Snakes from Game of Thrones) and “Morpheus”--a flamboyant and sentient program based on the red-pill dispensing character he is named after.</p> <p>And while watching Neo and Trinity together on the big screen again may be fan service enough for some, there are those fans of the Matrix who were in it for the plot, not the romance. This is partly why the second and third Matrix films were considered a let down, as it sidelined some of its philosophical themes for a more generic “boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy regains girl”.</p> <p>The Matrix films are deep and riddled with symbolism. Thousands of academic articles have been written on its sublime and implied meanings, from it being a metaphor for trans identity (the Wachowski siblings who made the film both transitioned after its success to become trans women) to its use of Biblical themes and names.</p> <p>Perhaps it is the Animatrix (2003) that best defines the lore of the series, as that provided the context for the war between human and machine, as well as background stories of some of the characters who appear. The tragedy of Resurrections is it fails to build significantly on any of this lore, seemingly lost as it is in the limbo between being a reboot and being a sequel.</p> <p>In Resurrections, Neo has once again lost Trinity, by virtue of their memories being reset and the two of them returned to a new form of the Matrix. Now, Neo AKA Thomas Anderson, is a video game developer. The name of his video game? The Matrix.</p> <p>The movie uses this plot device to turn meta, attempting multiple times to be self-aware (at one point, the actors lament that Warner Bros was insistent on a fourth iteration of the video game being released, and possibly many more). There are brief discussions on creativity and originality and on the banality of rebooting an old franchise. While self-aware, the film invariably becomes what it mocks.</p> <p>To truly succeed Animatrix and Revolutions, the film should have better engaged with the ethics of humanity co-existing in a post-apocalyptic world with the very machines they once tried to exterminate. There are signs of human-machine cooperation in this film and some AI characters are humanised well. But the world-building, while promising, is all too brief.</p> <p>Like with the older films, Morpheus is tasked with bringing Neo back into the real world. If Lil Nas cosplayed Morpheus, the result would be this sentient programme. While Yahya Abdul-Mateen’s performance makes for enjoyable viewing, it turns the film’s tone a bit too goofy for the subject material.</p> <p>Keanu Reeves seems to sit uncomfortably in the skin of the character that made him famous. There is a bit too much of John Wick and Johnny Silverhand in his performance, and he never quite seems fully “Neo”. Though this is also partly due to the plot’s recasting of Neo as a game developer and suicide survivor, who is unsure of his true identity.</p> <p>The plot’s focus on the love between Neo and Trinity feels tired, by this point. &quot;Love is the genesis of everything&quot; reads a line from the directors in the end-credits. If you were hoping for a more reflective take on our Zuckerbergian reality from the series that invented the idea of a metaverse, this film, sadly, fails to be truly reflective.</p> <p>By contrast, the supporting character, Bugs, feels more relevant to the series. As a non-binary character, who even reflects on the unnaturalness of binary choices like red or blue pills (and therefore, binary choices like gender), Bugs’ feels like a more refreshing addition to the plot than the renewal and repetition of Neo’s love life.</p> <p>The look of the film feels true to the franchise. In the 18 years that have passed since the last Matrix film, its tropes have been done to death by far too many movies. After having seen so many imitations of Neo’s backwards-flailing “bullet time”, it is relieving to witness the original again.</p> <p>While enjoyable, Matrix Resurrections feels like a reboot in a sequel’s clothes, albeit neither look seems to suit the film.</p> <p>Does this film reflect the original vision of the Matrix series? Lana Wachowski is the solo director for this film, with Lilly Wachowski absent and seemingly not too keen on the film either (her Twitter bio reads “Not on the new Matrix film, so stop asking me”). While the ending leaves room for more sequels (and the lore certainly supports this), the film itself feels like it contributes little to the canon.</p> <p>If you want to pick up a once-shelved Matrix obsession, you may be better off watching the original Matrix films, or Animatrix, or even the cancelled video game Matrix Online (whose lore has also been deemed canon). But if you’ve seen those, and crave more green-tinted Matrix content, then this film may satiate part of that hunger.</p> <p>The red pill is supposed to wake you from a comatose state into an understanding of truth. The blue pill is supposed to let you slink back into a reality you’re comfortable in. Resurrections treads the odd line between the two, leaving fans of the franchise neither wholly re-immersed in the lore, nor satisfyingly comforted by the tropes of a feel-good action film. Watch the Animatrix instead.</p> <p><b>Film: Matrix Resurrections</b></p> <p><b>Director: Lana Wachowski</b></p> <p><b>Starring: Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Neil Patrick Harris</b></p> <p><b>Rating: 2.5/5</b></p> Wed Dec 22 22:28:37 IST 2021 83-review-ranveer-singh-devils-hit-it--out-of-the-park <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>You may not be a cricket fan. You may not have been born even when India won its first ever World Cup on June 25 1983. Yet, Kabir Khan's <i>83 </i>can give you goosebumps; not only will it compel you enough to fixate your eyes on the screen for as long as the reel keeps rolling, it will make you feel as if you are right there in the stadium each time India played, especially on the day it won the final match.</p> <p>I cried when the team lost and grinned when it won. There was a loud, roaring round of applause inside the theatre where I went to watch the film, when Man Singh (Pankaj Tripathi) is given the pass for his team to enter Lords to play finals against West Indies. At that very moment, you feel the blood rush through your veins, especially because at the beginning of the tour nobody had ever thought that the team could reach that far. Their return tickets to India were pre-booked on the assumption that they will not even reach close to the semis, leave alone the finals.</p> <p>The very thought of winning the World Cup was considered "too ambitious," best passed off with a mocking laugh. When Man Singh was prepping to leave for England, a comment was made: "Kya karna hai jaakar?&nbsp;Is baar East Africa bhi nahin khel raha...haraoge kisko? (What is the point of going there? This time East Africa is also not playing...whom will you defeat?" Such was the toxicity that prevailed. Nobody believed that the Indian cricket team could win a World Cup. It was unthinkable. But one person believed. And he made his team believe in it, too. Kapil Dev, the then captain of the Indian cricket team led his 11 teammates to victory at Lord's and made history forever.</p> <p>Each time he appeared before the press, he reiterated his conviction, "We have come here to win," much to the chagrin and amusement of the British press and the desis who worked in England at the time. "Let the world criticise, compare, ridicule and say that we reached the semis through sheer fluke.... we will answer them all through our game. I will not issue any statement. My cricket will talk," said Dev, the captain whose charisma, temperament, body language and of course, his signature grin, have all been brilliantly portrayed by actor Ranveer Singh in an electrifying performance. The entire cast, especially the team of 11 essay the role of the original players with exceptional accuracy and detail as if breathing life into players who created history by doing the unimaginable.&nbsp;</p> <p>The film is a compelling watch - you don't want to miss a single frame, a single dialogue or even a single song. Everything is crisply put, with no unnecessary masala. Every minute is accounted for. As Kabir Khan told THE WEEK in an interview, "our research was thorough. The film came out exactly the way I had imagined it and we left no stone unturned in ensuring that we recreate history exactly as it played out 37 years back." Despite having heard about India's first ever World Cup victory at the Lord's numerous times ever since we were kids, that profound feeling of a nation's victory; of an underdog's unimaginable success and the emotional high of achieving the world's greatest title - 'World Cup Winners' is something that this film has managed to bring out.</p> <p>Of all his earlier films, including <i>New York</i> and <i>Bajrangi Bhaijaan</i>, this is Kabir Khan's best delivery so far and it is also Ranveer Singh's most "close to real" performance. He is Kapil Dev in the film, until you remind yourself that this is Ranveer Singh and not Kapil Dev.&nbsp;</p> <p>The screenplay is exceptional. Music is timely, powerful and evocative. There is a young Sachin Tendulkar and a retired Kapil Dev. There is fun, there is drama, there is humour and so much more. <i>83</i> is a film that will remain in our hearts forever. Just like India's World Cup victory that has remained etched in our memories forever.&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Film: 83</b></p> <p><b>Director: Kabir Khan</b></p> <p><b>Cast: Ranveer Singh, Pankaj Tripathi, Ammy Virk, Tahir Raj Bhasin, Jiiva, Saqib Saleem, Jatin Sarna, Chirag Patil, Dinker Sharma, Nishant Dahiya, Harrdy Sandhu, Sahil Khattar, Boman Irani, Adinath Kothare, Dhairya Karwa, Neena Gupta</b></p> <p><b>Rating: 4.5/5</b></p> Tue Dec 21 13:07:41 IST 2021 pusha-the-rise-review-allu-arjun-starrer-loses-direction-after-take-off <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Telugu actor Allu Arjun chose the most de-glamorous look of his career to make a pan-India debut. <i>Pushpa</i> which was released in five languages including Hindi sees the actor in a rugged avatar playing a rural character. Director Sukumar, who is known for dishing out many successes with his creative and technical brilliance, too, is testing his luck in Bollywood and other languages by choosing a plot that is endemic to Telugu states.</p> <p>For decades, red sanders, found only in the forests of Rayalaseema, has remained in news for large-scale smuggling and its huge price in the international market. Occasionally, politicians' names would also crop up in this crime.</p> <p>Taking a cue, Sukumar weaves a story on Pushpa Raj (Allu Arjun), a red sanders smuggler. The plot is based in Chittoor district, a fertile ground for red sanders. Being ambitious and a daredevil, Pushpa starts off working as a labourer involved in chopping and transporting red sanders in Seshachalam forests. His sidekick, Jagadesh Bhandari meets him during this process and is seen throughout the movie. An encounter with the local police force led by a sincere officer played by Shatru brings Pushpa into the thick of action as he tries to save the booty. He comes into contact with kingpins of the smuggling racket, Konda Reddy, Jolly Reddy and others and joins hand with them to emerge as a major player.</p> <p>Quite predictably he meets his ladylove, Srivalli (Rashmika Mandanna) while carrying out his illegal activity. The second half completely banks on elevating the heroics of Pushpa who clashes with the bigwigs of the smuggling world like Managalam Sinu (Sunil) and his men. Lengthy fight sequences and dragging romantic tracks slow down the pace of the movie. Fahadh Faasil, playing high ranking police officer Shekhawat, is brought in to infuse life back into the movie.</p> <p>What one cannot miss is the way smuggling has been normalised in the entire movie. The scenic locations depicting eastern ghats have been captured well.&nbsp;</p> <p>With <i>Pushpa</i>, Sukumar continues the streak of showcasing lead characters with physical defects. In his last Telugu movie<i>, Rangasthalam</i>, actor Ram Charan who played the lead was shown to have hearing impairment. In this movie, Allu Arjun has an abnormal body posture. Though both movies are set in rural backdrop, the latest fare from Sukumar runs more on characterisation of Pushpa (Allu Arjun) unlike <i>Rangasthalam</i> whose scoring points were the drama and plot.</p> <p>Allu Arjun did his homework well, giving a mature performance maintaining subtlety. One of the biggest drawbacks of the movie is the music which is mostly forgettable.&nbsp;</p> <p>The Rayalaseema slang mouthed by the characters stands out and is one of the highlights. However, the movie loses its direction in the second half with unconvincing scenes and illogical encounters between the characters. The long duration of the movie (3 hours) adversely impacts the overall experience of the audience. Despite good performances by the artists and camera work, there is a lot to be desired.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>A former Physics lecturer, Sukumar has to get his equations right if the sequel of <i>Pushpa</i> has to rise up to the audience's expectations.</p> <p><b>Movie: Pushpa: The Rise</b></p> <p><b>Director: Sukumar</b></p> <p><b>Cast: Allu Arjun, Rashmika Mandanna, Fahadh Faasil, Sunil</b></p> <p><b>Rating: 3/5</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Sat Dec 18 22:59:57 IST 2021 spider-man-no-way-home-fun-fan-service-but-mcus-cracks-starting-to-show <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The multiverse is a concept about which we know frighteningly little, says Doctor Strange in <i style="font-size: 0.8125rem;">Spider-Man: No Way Home</i>. It is an admission as the Marvel Cinematic Universe feels its way in the dark. With <i style="font-size: 0.8125rem;">No Way Home</i>, it is starting to look messy, but before the MCU dives into the deep waters of the multiverse, it has produced another entertainer with arguably the most entertaining comic book character of all time.<br> </p> <p>As expected, <i style="font-size: 0.8125rem;">Spider-Man: No Way Home</i> is loud and crowded, yet thrilling in the way it builds up for a stunning, emotional final act. Director Jon Watts has made his name in Hollywood with this trilogy, and though the future of the web-slinging hero is uncertain—Sony and Marvel are yet to decide on the future of the collaboration—Watts has tied up things well despite the overbearing expectations of the MCU.<br> </p> <p>(Certain plot points will be discussed but only those already referenced in the trailers.)<br> </p> <p>The film explores how Peter Parker's life has been turned upside down, yet again, as everyone knows he is Spider-Man following the events of <i style="font-size: 0.8125rem;">Far From Home</i>. He is the most popular superhero in the world, now that the Avengers are disbanded. Life is hard for Parker and those closest to him, and he wants out. So he goes to the one man known to possess powers to alter reality: Doctor Strange.<br> </p> <p>This is where it starts to get sticky. Magic makes things annoyingly convenient and at several points in the film, it feels like a couple of spells could have just solved a lot of matters—like it does in other parts of the plot—hence the inconsistency is baffling.<br> </p> <p>Moreover, Doctor Strange, who is presumably the new leader of whatever is left of the Avengers is no Tony Stark. While Stark's technology is still saving the world, Strange is starting to look erratic and tentative in his decisions, very unlike the sagely Sorcerer Supreme of the Infinity War films.<br> </p> <p>Things go haywire when Parker messes with a spell. Some of his goof-ups are reminiscent of Star Lord's big blunder in <i style="font-size: 0.8125rem;">Infinity War</i>—great fodder for a whole episode of “How it Should Have Ended”.</p> <p>It is no secret now that the multiverse opens up and classic villains from previous iterations of the webbed hero make their return. It is refreshing to have legendary thespians like Alfred Molina and Willem Dafoe back on screen, and though crowded, the villains of the past show more depth this time around.</p> <p>Parker is faced with a moral dilemma on how to deal with these bad guys, and he goes through a rollercoaster of emotions and thoughts as people around him enforce their views on him.<br> </p> <p>The elephant in the room is obviously the big question of whether Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield reprise their roles of Spider-Men from other universes. Honestly, the less said about it the better. Whether they are in it or not, it is pure entertainment.<br> </p> <p>Of Tom Holland, it must be said that he delivers another excellent performance as Peter Parker. Holland's face has been everywhere over the last few months as the team aggressively promoted the film. The Brit gets a lot of flak for simply being a bumbling millennial. Yet, his emotionally charged turn in this film, in addition to the quirks and silliness that is synonymous with Parker, is a joy to watch.<br> </p> <p>The same must be said of Zendaya and Jacob Batalon, who do well in their supporting roles. The chemistry, or the lack thereof, between Zendaya and Holland still feels odd though. The previous Parker-MJ pairs fair better in that regard.<br> </p> <p>With a run time of 2.5 hours, <i style="font-size: 0.8125rem;">No Way Home</i> could have been tighter. Villains go to unnecessary lengths to explain their origin stories, our heroes chit-chat excessively during crucial scenes and catchphrases are repetitively emphasised.<br> </p> <p>Where the film scores is Michael Giacchino's score. The smooth transitioning of the soundtrack as various characters are introduced and as the plot twists and turns brings feels epic-like and even nostalgic at times.<br> </p> <p>The ultimate motive of the film as a standalone one seems to be the fan service. To flirt with the expectations of hardcore Spidey fans, be it those of the comic books or those of Sam Raimi's films—let's face it, there are no fans of the Andrew Garfield movies. There is even a nod to a popular meme from the first Raimi movie.<br> </p> <p>Until now, the animated film <i style="font-size: 0.8125rem;">Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse</i> has been a standout example of a Spider-Man film that came closest to the comics. The animated spin-off is a classic, replete with the humour, action, excitement and colour that the comics possessed. It surpassed all expectations and even possesses bragging rights of introducing the concept of the multiverse while MCU was yet to venture into it.<br> </p> <p>On that front, <i style="font-size: 0.8125rem;">No Way Home</i> does well, too. You are treated to several “literal chills” moments, which makes the hype all worth it.<br> </p> <p>Yet, when looking at the bigger picture—it is after all a part of a bigger narrative—the film is not entirely solid. The MCU is starting to show signs of cracking under the weight of its own legacy and expectations.<br> </p> <p>After the euphoric highs of MCU's phase three, most of the films and series of phase four seem to have lost the intensity and attention to detail, making it difficult to take them seriously. <i style="font-size: 0.8125rem;">Loki</i> and <i style="font-size: 0.8125rem;">WandaVision</i> were good, as was <i style="font-size: 0.8125rem;">Black Widow</i>. The rest seem to be shallow fillers while we waited for the bigger projects to kick in.<br> </p> <p>The big one is here, and it is a fun ride. But the inconsistencies will gnaw at you. The next big release is <i style="font-size: 0.8125rem;">Doctor Strange In the Multiverse of Madness</i>. Though we get a glimpse of it in the post-credits scene, things are starting to look messy.<br> </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Film: Spider-Man: No Way Home</b></p> <p>Director: Jon Watts<br> </p> <p>Cast: Tom Holland, Zendaya, Benedict Cumberbatch, Willem Dafoe, Alfred Molina<br> </p> <p>Rating: 3.5/5<br> </p> Thu Dec 16 12:48:20 IST 2021 marakkar-review-this-mohanlal-starrer-is-a-mixed-bag <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Biopic of a mystical but historical figure. Check. One of the biggest stars in south Indian cinema. Check. A prominent yesteryear Bollywood hero. Check. More popular names from down south. Check. Big budget. Check. Hype generated. Check.</p> <p>A flawless and a must-watch film then? Err….</p> <p>Few films have generated such hype in Malayalam cinema recently as Priyadarshan’s <i>Marakkar: Lion of the Arabian Sea. </i>Most of the reasons are listed above. The uncertainty over the theatrical release, along with reports of an OTT release instead, added to the frenzy.</p> <p>The magnum opus starring Mohanlal is based on the life and actions of Kunjali Marakkar IV, the legendary naval chief of the Zamorin of Calicut. The costliest film in Malayalam film history was made for the big screen. Period.</p> <p><i>Marakkar </i>has all the highs and lows of a typical historical film. The production design handled by the irreplaceable Sabu Cyril takes the viewer back in time to the era of the Zamorin and the Portuguese on the Kerala shores. Though, to a careful eye, the shades of a contemporary brush are hard to miss on this extravagant canvas, be it the language used or the costumes worn (interestingly, one of the three National Awards that the film won was for costume design).</p> <p>As a visual spectacle, Priyadarshan’s film scores high. Be it the elaborate sets or the battle scenes between Marakkar and the Portuguese army (which might remind one of the sea battles in <i>Pirates of the Caribbean</i> series), Priyadarshan has left no stone unturned, going by Malayalam’s cinema’s technical standards. Even the storm scene in the sea is pretty convincing.</p> <p>The performances are the other high point of the film. It needed someone of Mohanlal’s stature to carry the film, and the veteran actor does what is expected of him. He is out of his comfort zone and it shows in places, but kudos to the actor for taking up this challenging project despite his limitations. (It’s hard not to notice shades of Robin Hood-esque Ithikkara Pakki in Lal from his cameo in <i>Kayamkulam Kochunni</i>.) Along with Lal, Hareesh Peradi as Mangattachan and Nedumudi Venu as the Zamorin, deliver power-packed performances, which linger on in your minds. In fact, the way Venu owns the role, it shows the vacuum the late veteran and versatile actor has left in the film industry. For Peradi, it is definitely the best role in his career. See it to believe it. Another veteran actor who leaves his mark yet again is Siddique. Arjun Sarja is another bright spot in the stellar cast and brings the gravitas required for the role. Most of the others add to the casting coup.</p> <p>Surprised that there’s hardly a mention of the female actors, which includes proven actors like Suhasini and Manju Warrier and promising young talent like Keerthy Suresh and Kalyani Priyadarshan? Watch the film, and you will know why.</p> <p>A word about Pranav Mohanlal, though. The son portrays his father’s younger self in the film. The lad has improved a lot from his <i>Aadhi</i> days, though he is not yet done with showing off his parkour skills! His performance is like a promising trailer of what to expect from him as an actor in his upcoming film <i>Hridayam</i>.</p> <p>The disadvantage for <i>Marakkar</i>, or for any mythological or historical drama now, is that the comparisons with <i>Baahubali</i> films are bound to be there. In fact, S.S. Rajamouli has set the benchmark so high with the films, it’s almost impossible to come anywhere close to it. <i>Baahubali</i> films scored with the original though fictional script and mind-blowing detailing. <i>Marakkar</i> doesn’t have the luxury of the former, nor the patience for the latter.</p> <p>Also, the son-of-the-soil versus the foreigners is a template as old as time now. Be it in Prithviraj’s <i>Urumi</i>, Chiranjeevi’s <i>Sye Raa Narasimha Reddy</i> or Mammootty’s <i>Kerala Varma Pazhassi Raja </i>(And we are not even treading into Bollywood). The filmmakers keep discovering a new ‘India’s first but forgotten freedom fighter’ every other day. But that is not to say that the tale of the Marakkars need not be told. However, creative freedom and dramatisation have often proved to be the undoing of many a historical film. History is never complete, and in the world of cinema, the holes are plugged as per the wishes of the one who wields the camera. <i>Marakkar </i>follows the same time-trodden path. Unsurprisingly so.</p> <p>The first half, which starts with Pranav’s extended cameo and ends with a Lal-esque ‘climax’, seems like a film in itself. The second half is where the rest of the story unfolds, but drags on, testing the viewer’s patience, before the crescendo is reached, literally.</p> <p>And there’s even a bit of <i>Gladiator</i>-like ending, complete with a soulful song, thrown in at the end.</p> <p>Just another ‘inspiration’ in a film on an inspiring figure.</p> <p><b>Film: Marakkar: Lion of the Arabian Sea</b></p> <p><b>Language: Malayalam</b></p> <p><b>Director: Priyadarshan</b></p> <p><b>Cast: Mohanlal, Nedumudi Venu, Arjun, Suniel Shetty, Manju Warrier and others</b></p> <p><b>Rating: 3.5/5</b></p> Thu Dec 02 16:56:26 IST 2021 antim-the-final-truth-review-a-poor-remake <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Isn’t it funny when someone advises you not to do something which that person is already doing? This is exactly what the protagonist in the latest Bollywood flick, <i>Antim: The Final Truth, </i>does.<i></i></p> <p>Salman Khan's Rajveer Singh is an upright police officer who asks criminals to shun violence, but beats them up on a whim. The film starts with the voiceover from the protagonist, highlighting the plights of the farmers who are forced to sell their land to the rich at a low price and have to work for them or leave for cities in search of livelihoods. Sakharam Patil (Sachin Khedekar) is one such farmer.</p> <p>Though Patil accepts his fate and moves to Pune, his son Rahuliya (Aayush Sharma) isn't the one to forgive and forget. Rahuliya joins hands with some anti-social elements, antagonising his father and his girlfriend.</p> <p>The film, being Aayush Sharma's second outing after the disastrous <i>Loveyatri, </i>does have a strong antagonist, and the actor does a decent job.</p> <p>Mahima Makwana, playing Manda, gets enough screen time to leave a mark in her Bollywood debut.</p> <p>Salman Khan, as the law-abiding police officer Rajveer, failed to create an impact. Of course, the character has the usual coolness of the actor, but lacks the gravitas expected from such a role. Mahesh Manjrejkar, who played Manda’s drunkard father, fared better in the Marathi original.</p> <p>Songs of <i>Antim</i> might be peppy enough individually, but do nothing to uplift the proceedings. The background score fitted the tone of the action flick.</p> <p><i>Antim, </i>a remake of the Marathi hit <i>Mulshi Pattern</i>, fails to recreate the impact of the original film. It is clear that the makers wanted to make a few changes to the original, but in the process, the essence of the Marathi flick appears to have been lost. The original was a fight between sons of two farmers who lost their land, and how they chose to accept the reality differently.</p> <p>Despite the few flaws, if you are a Salman Khan fan, and know what to expect from a Salman Khan film—action, dance and a few punch dialogues—you may not be totally disappointed with <i>Antim.</i></p> <p><b>Movie: Antim: The Final Truth</b></p> <p><b>Language: Hindi</b></p> <p><b>Director: Mahesh Manjrekar</b></p> <p><b>Starring: Salman Khan, Aayush Sharma, Mahima Makwana</b></p> <p><b>Rating: 2.5/5</b></p> Fri Nov 26 19:12:52 IST 2021 spencer-review-the-portrait-of-a-princess-as-a-woman <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Diana is beautiful, she is angry, elegant, sad, gorgeous, and she is mad. If you walk into <i>Spencer </i>expecting a royal drama, you would be in for a disappointment. <i>Spencer </i>is, in essence, a self-portrait. A portrait of a princess as a woman, portrait of a woman on the edge.</p> <p>Right from frame one of this film by Pablo Larrain, you can sense her agony. Nearly every frame captures the people's princess, not as she was viewed in public, but as she viewed herself, a caged bird. Or, a pheasant, bred, only to be shot. Languishing, wasted.</p> <p>On the whole, one could say that the movie is a cross between a mono-act and an opera performance. This is mainly because of the striking background music. The background score by Jonny Greenwood is startling and captivating. Greenwood has made use of classical violins and a spattering of jazz to capture the mood of the story, which has been done brilliantly, for right from the beginning one is acquainted with the princess' agony.</p> <p>Kristen Stewart truly has transformed as Diana. It might, however, be too early to suggest that the actor, who shot to fame with the <i>Twilight </i>movie series, has peaked with this performance. One could call it the actor's second break-out moment. Stewart has carried the movie quite enjoyably on her shoulders. </p> <p>The person, the idea and the topic have been widely discussed over the years, since the fairytale wedding, post which she was given the title, Princess of Wales. And yet, the film offers a fresh perspective to tales and incidents that have only been written about in dailies and tabloids, the perspective of the Princess of Wales. So, for a true fan or for someone who has been following the princess' saga, this truly is a treat. It holds up a mirror to the dark corners and crevices of her life, including her battle with an eating disorder and mental health issues, which might seem to fit to be dismissed as a 'poor little rich girl' syndrome, but, in reality, can be debilitating. </p> <p>One may argue that Larrain's <i>Jackie </i>was a much better self-portrait. Jackie, after all, had her husband's blood splattered on her, but the two are incomparable and stand out in their own right. The faceless 'firm' does not have much of a role in the film, except for when Jack Farthing as Prince Charles says the line, “The thing is, Diana, there has to be two of you... There's the real one and the one they take pictures of. You have to be able to make your body do things you hate... For the good of the country... the people. Because they don't want us to be people. I'm sorry, I thought you knew."</p> <p>This dialogue pretty much sums up what life at the palace was for Diana, who always felt like a third wheel in a marriage, where her husband, as was common knowledge, had feelings for another woman. The cinematography by Claire Mathon is superb too, capturing Norfolk during Christmas 1991.</p> <p>This definitely could land Greenwood an Oscar, if not Stewart or Larrain.</p> <p><b>Movie: Spencer</b></p> <p><b>Stars: 3/5</b></p> <p><b>Director: Pablo Larrain</b></p> <p><b>Cast: Kristen Stewart, Jack Farthing, Timothy Spall</b></p> Fri Nov 19 21:04:36 IST 2021 bunty-aur-babli-2-review-the-sequel-manages-to-get-some-laughs <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>A complete comedy entertainer that focuses only on making you laugh without any regard for logic, that is what <i>Bunty and Babli 2</i>&nbsp;is. A sequel of 2005 hit movie <i>Bunty Aur Babli, </i>the film is insipid, saved only by the comic timing of the actors.</p> <p>The sequel is a game of one one-upmanship &nbsp;between the pros in this game (original Bunty and Babli) and the new con artists. The new generation couple shines in the first half, and the second half belongs to the veterans.</p> <p>The movie starts in 2021, and Vimmi (Rani Mukerji) along with her son and husband Rakesh (Saif Ali Khan) leads a peaceful life, away from their life of trickery. They are now focused on their child, and crime has no more part in their lives. While Rani-Saif pairing is enjoyable, it would be be unfair to say the original Bunty (Abhishek Bachchan) was not missed. </p> <p>The story takes a slow turn when a new con couple (Siddhant Chaturvedi and Sharvari) starts looting and tricking people under the name ‘Bunty and Babli’. From coning some with fake passports to leasing river Ganga, the new ‘Bunty and Babli’ become a&nbsp;headache for the police department. </p> <p>The police arrest the Vimmi and Rakesh, but soon realize that there is a new con couple in town. </p> <p>Rani Mukerji is the star performer in the movie. From dressing in loud colors to bringing back the 90's looks with a modern touch, the actor has managed to create quite a few chuckles. Saif too manages to keep up with her, and together they are fun to watch. Siddhant Chaturvedi too comes up with a credible performance.</p> <p>While the film pales in comparison to the 2005 predecessor, it manages to entertain, thanks to the comic timing of the lead actors.</p> <p><b>Movie: Bunty Aur Babli 2</b></p> <p><b>Director: Varun V. Sharma</b></p> <p><b>Starring: Saif Ali Khan, Rani Mukerji, Siddhant Chaturvedi and Sharvari Wagh</b></p> <p><b>Rating: 2.5/5</b></p> Fri Nov 19 22:19:44 IST 2021 kurup-review-an-engaging-crime-thriller-with-some-interesting-revelations <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>It is not easy for a movie maker to keep the audience on the edge of the seat if the plot is already known or the story of the person or incident the film is based on is widely covered on the media. But Srinath Rajendran’s <i>Kurup</i> is an exception.</p> <p>The story of Sukumara Kurup, one of the most wanted criminals from Kerala, who faked his death by murdering a man who resembled him for the insurance money, has fascinated people from the state for decades. What awaits you in theatres is not just how the crime unfolds, but plenty of twists and suspenseful moments that are highly entertaining.</p> <p><i>Kurup </i>is a slow burner, but the brilliant performance of Shine Tom Chacko as Bhaskara Pillai compensates for the lag in the initial proceedings. The movie begins to be much more engaging in the second half. Even though Pillai’s character gets a negative portrayal, the speculations that the character of Kurup would be glorified in the movie have been proved wrong. The movie also throws light into a few areas of Kurup's life that are relatively unknown, and the climax will throw at you a few surprises.</p> <p>Dulquer Salmaan as Kurup is a delight to watch. His looks, swag and smirk lend credence to the wily character that he is portraying. Dulquer manages to effortlessly assume new styles and identities as Kurup goes on the run. The stylist too deserves a cheer for transforming the actor as he sheds identities and assumes new ones. There is also a Dulquer and Sunny Wayne combo moment, if you are a fan of the two.</p> <p>Director Srinath Rajendran manages to craft a realistic and engaging thriller. The screenplay and dialogues does not overpower the narration with 'mass' moments.</p> <p>The other actors, Tovino Thomas, Indrajith, Surabhi Lakshmi, Anupama and Sobhita, too have come up with credible performances.</p> <p>The only drawback is the juggling narration that lagged in the first half. At a run-time of two hours and 30 minutes, the movie would have benefitted some more if edited tighter.</p> <p>If you are still debating on watching this movie on the big scree, I recommend you to grab a ticket at the earliest. The BGM, songs and setting of the movie is perfect for viewing on the big screen.</p> <p><b>Movie: Kurup</b></p> <p><b>Director: Srinath Rajendran</b></p> <p><b>Starring: Dulquer Salmaan, Sobhita Dhulipala, Tovino Thomas, Shine Tom Chacko, Indrajith Sukumaran, Sunny Wayne</b></p> <p><b>Rating: 3.5\5</b></p> Fri Nov 12 18:24:03 IST 2021 eternals-review-chloe-zhao-weaves-likeable-new-faces-into-mcu <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>In&nbsp;<i>Eternals,&nbsp;</i>China-born filmmaker Chloé Zhao brings a refreshing gaze to the Marvel Cinematic Universe: A humane one. In an industry dominated by the male gaze, this proves sufficient to make <i>Eternals </i>feel different from the usual Marvel fare.</p> <p>With no context, it can be easy to enter the theatre expecting yet another cynically-engineered superhero flick, churned out by the CGI film factory that is the Marvel Cinematic Universe, of which this film is part of “phase four”.<br> </p> <p>Phase four is many things—a bid to keep audiences engaged post-<i style="font-size: 0.8125rem;">Endgame</i>; a device to introduce new actors into a roster that had already crossed a decade on screen; a way to tell comic book stories that have not yet been told. With the average revenue per Marvel movie at just under a billion dollars, a cynical view of phase four would see it as a means to make $4 billion with four movies in 2021.<br> </p> <p>But Zhao, as the first Asian woman to win a Golden Globe, the first to win an Oscar, and now, the first to direct a Marvel movie, has proved that an MCU movie can be bigger than the sum of its superheroes, one that can tackle questions like the purpose of human existence, whether life on earth carries more value than life elsewhere—and the pros and cons of super-beings protecting humans against themselves.</p> <p>Besides this, she imbues the latest addition to the MCU with a moving undercurrent of human tenderness and emotional intelligence.<br> </p> <p>The film introduces the “Eternals”—non-ageing beings who have nurtured mankind for over 7,000 years. Sent to Earth by a deity-like being called Arishem, the Eternals are tasked with protecting humans by eradicating a monstrous group of beings called “Deviants”. They do this, several thousands of years before the present. With this mission seemingly accomplished, they expect to return to their home planet, only to be ghosted by Arishem. With nought else to do, they remain Earthbound and pass millennia watching mankind advance from the Mesopotamian era to the modern age, abiding for the most part by the instruction not to interfere in its affairs—which spared them the responsibility of getting involved when Thanos was doing his thing.<br> </p> <p>For an undying and involuntarily neutral being, human history is a painful tapestry to experience. Zhao skilfully turns the camera onto&nbsp;<i style="font-size: 0.8125rem;">Eternals</i>&nbsp;star-studded ensemble cast, as they witness everything from the dawn of agriculture to the genocide of the Native Americans and the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. Despite witnessing the worst deeds man has to offer (most human history is a dark tale in hindsight), they maintain their love for humanity.<br> </p> <p>A “love for humanity” is increasingly a scarce thing on cinema screens. Rather, the inverse seems more popular. We see it in the rise and perennial popularity of anti-hero protagonists, from&nbsp;<i style="font-size: 0.8125rem;">Joker</i>&nbsp;to&nbsp;<i style="font-size: 0.8125rem;">The Umbrella Academy,</i>&nbsp;as well as in the motivations that drive some villains to tear down societies; from the nihilism of&nbsp;<i style="font-size: 0.8125rem;">My Hero Academia’s&nbsp;</i>Tomura Shigaraki to the environmentalism of&nbsp;<i style="font-size: 0.8125rem;">Batman Begins’&nbsp;</i>Ra’s al-Ghul. It is telling that the Malthusian mission of Thanos to eradicate half the universe’s population found many takers.<br> </p> <p>The Eternals love and hate each other. Sometimes, they fight the ones they love; sometimes they love the ones they fight. Zhao’s camera dwells intently on these moments; less attention is given to blockbuster battle scenes, though these are peppered liberally through the film.</p> <p>The ensemble cast of actors are a refreshing bunch to witness, and in their depicted struggles, they help answer the above questions.<br> </p> <p>One sees familiar faces from&nbsp;<i style="font-size: 0.8125rem;">Game of Thrones in&nbsp;</i>Richard Madden (playing Ikarus) and Kit Harington (playing Dane Whitman). Harrington’s main character energy shines through, despite only brief moments in the film. Madden shines as a sort of Marvelesque Superman; his power uncontested by almost everybody except Thena. Ma Dong-seok, of&nbsp;<i style="font-size: 0.8125rem;">Train to Busan</i>&nbsp;fame, proves immensely likeable.<br> </p> <p>Gemma Chan takes the lead as Sersi and delivers an intensely emotive and convincing performance—the best of any female lead the MCU has given the spotlight to yet.<br> </p> <p>Angelina Jolie imbues Thena with a powerful aura. Salma Hayek exudes a subtle yet calming presence as Ajak.</p> <p>A slightly sore thumb emerges in the form of Kumail Nanjiani, whose comic relief seems forced, his character not yet wholly extricated from his role as&nbsp;<i style="font-size: 0.8125rem;">Silicon Valley’s&nbsp;</i>Dinesh. While it is commendable to see a South Asian character in a Marvel line-up, was a Bollywood dance sequence starring him really necessary? But then again, perhaps every film must offer you, the audience, something to groan against.<br> </p> <p>Zhao, who has evidently fought to make Hollywood a more inclusive place, has put together the most diverse Marvel line-up yet. The ensemble cast of heroes includes South Asian, Latina, deaf and LGBT characters. That the result feels nimble and unforced illustrates how diverse casts can be added without it seeming shoehorned.</p> <p>Amongst the acting performances, the highlight is Lauren Ridloff’s portrayal of Makkari, a deaf superhero with lightning speed. Within the confines of an exposition-heavy film, the voiceless Makkari proves most convincing, perhaps carrying the most “empathy” among the case, besides Sersi herself. That many of the Eternals learned sign language to communicate with her is a heart-warming and compellingly world-building aspect of the film.</p> <p>The film suffers from an over-abundance of exposition. It begins with a wall of text setting up the premise, breaking the &quot;show, don't tell&quot; rule in favour of assigned reading material. The actors take visible time to warm up to their roles; the first scene starring them seems almost like watching a group of videogame non-playable characters (NPCs) interact poorly. The revision of human history to suit its plot seems somewhat patronising, though one can hardly fault the film for abiding to its comic book script.&nbsp;</p> <p>Visually,&nbsp;<i>Eternals&nbsp;</i>packs a moving expanse of cinematic moments, spanning ancient Babylon to contemporary India (with a neat visual of the Gupta Empire thrown in). Raman Djawadi delivers a moving score, though his work here lacks distinctive moments.</p> <p>The fight scenes are well choreographed but hardly unique. The addition of 3D could also have been avoided, given that it adds nothing to the abilities of actors, and at best adds little more than some brain confusion to action sequences.</p> <p>Ultimately,&nbsp;<i>Eternals</i>&nbsp;adds promising new lore to the MCU; it introduces a talented array of actors to headline its sequels (for which one or two have already been set up in the post-credits scene). At some level, it adds new stakes, heroes and villains to an MCU still reeling from the loss of Iron Man and Thanos.</p> <p>The pandemic has cost most of us the experience of watching a Marvel film in a theatre. If you are fully vaccinated and looking to experience the magic of Marvel’s cinema again,&nbsp;<i>Eternals</i>&nbsp;is up to the mark. And, if you are developing a growing fixation on the filmography of Chloé Zhao,&nbsp;<i>Eternals</i>&nbsp;may end up her most popular film yet.&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Movie</b>:&nbsp;<i> Eternals</i></p> <p><b>Director</b>: Chloé_Zhao</p> <p><b>Starring</b>: Gemma Chan, Richard Madden, Kumail Nanjiani, Lia McHugh, Brian Tyree Henry, Lauren Ridloff, Barry Keoghan, Don Lee, Harish Patel, Kit Harington, Salma Hayek, Angelina Jolie</p> <p><b>Rating</b>: 3.5/5</p> Sat Nov 13 12:44:24 IST 2021 sooryavanshi-review-a-diwali-treat-for-bollywood-action-movie-lovers <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>What do you expect from Rohit Shetty? A romantic movie? An action flick? A comedy caper? Well, a Shetty film is indeed all these!</p> <p>For Bollywood commercial movie lovers, Akshay Kumar-Rohit Shetty combination is certainly one to look forward to, and hence there was much hype surrounding the release of the cop drama, <i>Sooryavanshi</i>. This was also a film that promised to bring back people in large numbers to cinemas, post the COVID-19 gloominess.</p> <p>Even before the release of the trailer, the cine goers were sure that Shetty was &nbsp;cooking up a delicious (commercial) cinematic treat. He had, in <i>Simbaa, </i>announced Veer’s (Kumar) entry into the fourth installment of his cop universe.</p> <p><i>Sooryavanshi </i>opens with a happy couple on their way to meet their son, Veer, &nbsp;but dies in a terrorist attack. It doesn’t come as a surprise that Veer grows up to be ‘Veer Sooryavanshi’ (Kumar), an Anti-Terrorism Squad officer. There is of course the typical Shetty mas entry of the hero, on a helicopter this time. </p> <p>As Veer goes undercover to find 600kg of RDX hidden away in Mumbai and to foil an attack by terrorists, you see that he is forced to prioritise his job over his family. As the movie progresses, you are offered plenty of chances to hoot and whistle as the other heroes in the universe, Ranveer Singh's Simmba and Ajay Devgn's Singham, make their grand entries. The the comedic exchanges between Simmba and Veer are perfectly timed and offers a respite during the otherwise intense proceedings.</p> <p>The 145-minute movie doesn't only leave craving for more, perhaps another installment in the universe, but also raises a few pertinent questions about terrorism and the intentions of people who seek to destroy the harmony and secular fabric of India.</p> <p>It is impossible not to applaud for 54-year-old Kumar’s dedication, as he has performed 90 per cent of the stunts in the movie. The actor looks effortless in both action and comedy sequences. </p> <p>The leading lady, Katrina Kaif, tries hard to make her presence felt with a doctor-patient love affair. &nbsp;The makers have even tried to recreate Akshay Kumar and Raveena Tandon’s famous number ‘Tip Tip Barsa Pani’ with Kaif, but it does not work quite well. </p> <p>Other actors in the movie, Jaaved Jaaferi, Gulshan Grover, Abhimanyu Singh, Niharica Raizada, Sikandar Kher, Nikitin Dheer, Vivan Bhatena, Kumud Mishra, Mrunal Jain and Rajendra Gupta have done their parts well. The baddie, Jackie Shroff, is particularly impressive.</p> <p>On the musical side, Daleer Mehndi's ‘Aila Re Aillaa’ is sure to find some space in your favourite playlist. </p> <p>Shetty has once again proved that when it comes to making larger-than-life action flicks, he is the best out there. With the customary flying SUVs and logic defying action sequences, <i>Sooryavanshi </i>is everything that you expect from his cop universe in this Diwali season. </p> <p><b>Film: Sooryavanshi</b></p> <p><b>Directed by: Rohit Shetty</b></p> <p><b>Starring: Akshay Kumar, Katrina Kaif, Ajay Devgn, nveer Singh</b></p> <p><b>Rating: 3.5/5</b></p> Fri Nov 05 19:49:13 IST 2021 annaatthe-review-rajinikanth-fans-deserve-better-than-this <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The name itself was a statutory warning. Two hours and 43 minutes was on the higher side, but more the minutes, the merrier. Because it’s a ‘SUPERSTAR RAJNI’ film!</p> <p>What better than a Rajinikanth film to draw the viewers back into the theatres after a hiatus like never before. A quintessential Rajinikanth film ticks all boxes—'mass’ moments, punch dialogues, drama, emotion (every hue), songs, fights and the all-is-well ending. So, it was the perfect recipe to lure in the family audience and youth alike to the theatres, to lift the pall of COVID-19-induced gloom among the film lovers and theatre owner.</p> <p>But nothing prepares you for <i>Annaatthe</i>. Yes, those extra letters were a clear indication of the drag it was going to be! The trailer more so. But what’s life without hope. The film is set in a Madurai village, of which Kaaliyan (Rajinikanth) is the president. He is a do-gooder. Check. Everything that moves in the village respects him. Check. He sings. He dances. He spouts wisdom at the drop of the hat. He beats up wrongdoers at will. Check. Check. Check. Check. The template is as ancient as the silver screen itself.</p> <p>Kaaliyan and his sister Thanga Meenakshi (Keerthy Suresh) are inseparable, and swear by each other. Melodrama follows. You need not have even watched Ajith-starrers <i>Vedalam</i> or <i>Viswasam</i>, both by <i>Annaatthe</i> director Siva, to know where the film is headed. But wait, not so soon. So, we have Prakash Raj bursting on to the screen as the typical villain, only to disappoint us later. Pachakili (Soori) as the stereotypical sidekick, trying to tickle our funny bone, but in vain. We have Rajinikanth’s yesteryear heroines Meena and Kushboo dropping in to humour us, but instead, leaving the audience wishing it was just a bad dream. In the midst of all this mess, Pattu (Nayanthara), a lawyer, falls for Kaaliyan. Don’t even ask how. More melodrama follows. Honestly, at times, it felt like an extended soap opera minus the ad breaks!</p> <p><i>Vedalam</i>, and more recently, Jyothika-Sasikumar-starrer <i>Udanpirappe</i>, too, dealt with sibling love, with varying degrees of success. But, <i>Annaatthe</i> is let down by bad writing more than anything else.</p> <p>Only towards the end of first half, does the film take a meaningful turn, raising our hopes. The scene shifts to Kolkata, and our questions are answered, though not in the most convincing manner. It’s time for the villain to make an entry. Wait. More the merrier, isn’t it. So, Siva throws in another for fun. The two villains—Manoj Palekar (Abhimanyu Singh) and Uddhav Palekar (Jagapathi Babu)—are half-brothers and sworn enemies. Kaaliyan, who arrives in Kolkata from a remote Tamil Nadu village to save his sister, takes on two of the fiercest gangsters in a city unknown to him, singlehandedly. Sigh.</p> <p>There are ‘Rajini moments’ in the film, with D. Imman’s BGM, which give us the goosebumps. But you can see these moments from a mile away. And these are simply not enough to hold a film together. It’s high time the directors realised that casting Rajinikanth alone cannot make or save a film.</p> <p><i>Annaatthe</i> has some of the biggest names in the south Indian film industry, but almost everybody is reduced to a mere caricature. Even Rajinikanth—charming and likeable as ever—looks only a shadow of his former self despite bringing in an energy to the role as only he can. While his <i>Kabali</i> and <i>Kaala</i> had their heart in the right place, <i>Petta</i> and <i>Darbar</i> tried to milk the nostalgia cow and fell flat. <i>Annaatthe</i> belongs to the latter category. With all those extra ‘n’, ‘a’ and ‘t’.</p> <p><b>Film: Annaatthhe</b></p> <p><b>Language: Tamil</b></p> <p><b>Director: Siva</b></p> <p><b>Cast: Rajinikanth, Keerthy Suresh, Nayanthara, Prakash Raj and others</b></p> <p><b>Rating: 2/5</b></p> Thu Nov 04 19:33:01 IST 2021 jai-bhim-review-suriya-shines-in-this-gripping-milestone-tamil-cinema <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>As the film opens, a few tribal men emerge one after the other from a prison. They are herded into a police van and taken away. The men are then charged with crimes they did not commit. The IG of Police, responding to pressure from his political bosses, resolves to close all pending cases in Tamil Nadu. The tribals fall easy prey to the police inspector’s ploy.<br> </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The film is set in Kammapuram, a village in the&nbsp;Virudhachalam district, 225km north of Chennai. Rajakannu, a man from the tribal community, is taken into custody by the police for a theft case. He is then found dead. Jai Bhim is set in this backdrop. Rajakannu (played by Manikandan) and his wife Senkanni (played by Lijomol Jose) are Irula tribes living in one of the most backward regions of the state. One day, Rajakannu goes out to work for one of the village heads. His job is to catch a snake in the latter's home (Irula tribes are known as expert snake catchers). Days later, a burglary happens in the residence. Police go on the lookout for Rajakannu. They take his wife and other relatives into custody, and they are tortured. After the police find Rajakannu, they ask him to confess to the crime, and torture him once again. After that, the police officers state that Rajakannu and his two other relatives escaped from the lockup.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The film then moves on to the struggles of Senkanni in the courtroom. Advocate Chandru (Suriya) takes up the case. What happens to the case and Rajakannu makes up the rest of the story.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Director Tha. Se. Gnanavel should definitely be appreciated for taking up the cause of Irula tribes, who are a semi-nomadic ethnic group without even a community certificate or recognition from the government. Bringing it into mainstream cinema is altogether a new effort. Gnanavel has carefully sculpted each scene, as he tells the story by standing in the shoes of those affected. In the scenes where the Irula tribes are picked up by the police, the audience themselves feel like as if they are being taken away by the police for enquiry. The dialogues and acting are very emotive.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In the beginning, it might seem like a documentary, talking about the tribes, but after the first half an hour, the movie takes a different turn when Senkanni comes to fight for her rights and find her husband. It may be called a courtroom drama. But the crux is caste atrocities and police brutality.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Lijomol Jose as Senkanni, in her lonely battle for justice, delivers a stunning performance. And when she turns her back and refuses to bow to the system of dominance and power, her execution is stellar.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Suriya is also a brilliant watch. He moves out of this comfort zone as an actor and lives the character of advocate Chandru. If you had watched Suriya as an aspiring entrepreneur who wants to launch an airline in <i>Soorarai Pottru</i>, Jai Bhim is a different beast entirely. Gnanavel has played out every scene and every frame emphatically, driving home a point on police high-handedness and how it affects the lives of common people.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Two other strong aspects of the film are cinematography and background music. The songs travel with the story to make the script that much stronger.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>There is bold depiction of police brutality and custodial torture in&nbsp;<i>Jai Bhim</i>. Sometimes, the boldness can become slightly disturbing.&nbsp;But Jai Bhim is not a film that can be forgotten after emerging out of the theatres. It creates a deep scar. It is not your usual film, but a milestone in Tamil cinema.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Rating: 4/5</b></p> <p><b>&nbsp;</b></p> <p><b>Cast: Suriya, Rajisha Vijayan, Prakash Raj, Lijo Mol Jose, Manikandan, Rao Ramesh</b></p> <p><b>&nbsp;</b></p> <p><b>Director: Tha. Se Gnanavel</b></p> <p><b>&nbsp;</b></p> <p><b>Released on: Amazon Prime&nbsp;</b></p> Tue Nov 02 08:52:27 IST 2021