Movies en Wed Nov 16 13:29:08 IST 2022 guns-and-gulaabs-review-a-mix-of-nostalgia-humour-and-lazy-writing <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Netflix's latest offering, <i style="font-size: 0.8125rem;">Guns &amp; Gulaabs,</i> is set in Gulaabganj, a fictional town consisting of vast opium fields, gangsters, corrupt cops, teenage school kids and other citizens trapped in the chaos. The seven episode comic thriller series features Rajkummar Rao, Dulquer Salmaan, Adarsh Gourav and Gulshan Devaiah in the lead roles.<br> </p> <p>Directed by Raj and DK, the show revolves around the execution of a massive opium deal in the small town during the '90s. When gangster chief Ganchi goes into a coma after slipping and falling through the woodwork of his old house, his inexperienced son Jugnu (Adarsh Gourav) is put in charge.</p> <p>The main crop in Gulaabganj is opium which is considered somewhat legal and is supplied to the authorities for export; the rest being held illegally by Jugnu’s father. A modest mechanic named Tipu (Rajkummar Rao) on the other hand hopes to not follow his gangster father's footsteps and tries to overcome his influence, but later joins the club by killing two men out of rage and later joins the Ganchi gang. Aatmaram (Gulshan Devaiah ), a hired killer slashes his victims to horrid deaths.</p> <p>In the middle of all this chaos arrives Arjun (Dulquer Salmaan), a narcotics officer who leads his life with a guilty conscience of not being the ideal father and husband, while falling prey to unnecessary character traits to fulfill his greed.</p> <p>With every man wanting to be the hero of their own stories, there is also a slight change in the primary storyline following a shift to the lives of three school boys who are backbenchers invested in playing 'FLAMES' in their notebooks and running behind their little crushes. One of them named Gangaram fall for his teacher Chandralekha, who also happens to be the love of Tipu's life, and another boy Lalkrishna is in love with a rich newcomer girl Jyotsna who outshines him as class topper and is also Arjun's daughter.</p> <p>But the chases and shootouts did not manage to keep the viewer hooked due to predictable nature of the storyline. Members of the cast also go about with their roles in isolation but never unite for what could have been an explosive moment. While trying to make the most of the old-town setup, the overuse of quirk and the struggle to initiate humour are visible. To an extent the characters seem not so well-written, especially in the case of Dulquer whose cop character seemed rather dull. The writers give him some edge, but too late into the show.</p> <p>Rajkummar's character tried to bring humour on to the table especially in scenes involving his love interest. Gulshan’s character is the quirkiest and he makes sure to have fun with it.</p> <p>The series also brings back the '90s nostalgia through evergreen Bollywood tracks and objects from the era, and every episode being named after an old song or an iconic film line.</p> <p><b>Series: Guns &amp; Gulaabs</b></p> <p><b>Language: Hindi</b></p> <p><b>Streaming on : Netflix</b></p> <p><b>Rating: 3/5</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Sat Aug 19 09:37:45 IST 2023 ghoomer-review-formulaic-but-compelling-sports-drama <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>One thing is for sure—R. Balki's latest flick, <i>Ghoomer, </i>is a highly impactful one. It is that food for thought which takes you along on a passionate journey of victory and loss and pulls at your heartstrings for long after the end credits begin to roll.</p> <p>You might choose to love the film or hate it but it is quite difficult to ignore the grit and passion of a paraplegic cricketer and the unflinching determination of her coach who gives her wings to make history, in the face of despair and hopelessness.</p> <p>The plot may seem formulaic and repetitive, but Balki, who's written the script, has given it a brilliant nuance which has elevated the film by several notches. That this is yet another inspirational sports drama is a given, but it is the parallel narrative built around tragedy, guilt, redemption and forgiveness that pushes the plot forward and makes <i>Ghoomer</i> so different and compelling. This is a moving sports drama; the kind we needed to see and the kind that keeps us gripped from the beginning to the end.</p> <p>In the character of Anina Dixit, a young, tenacious cricketer who chases her dream in the face of despair, Sayami Kher is forceful and believable. There are no frills to her character, and she shines in the simplicity. <i>Ghoomer </i>revolves around Anina, a young batting prodigy, who loses her right hand in an accident. </p> <p>This happens just a night before she is to make her debut in the Indian cricket team and leave for England. Distraught and devastated, she considers her career to be finished but just then enters the drunkard, foul-mouthed and frustrated ex-test cricketer-turned-coach, Paddy (Abhishek Bachchan) who makes it his mission to convince the girl that she can still play for the country; if not as a batsman, then as a left arm bowler.</p> <p>The entire second half of the film is how he trains and polishes her and helps her achieve the unthinkable - a prodigious batsman turning into an equally enviable fast bowler/spinner, and that too, with just her left hand.</p> <p>In one of his recent interviews with THE WEEK, Abhishek Bachchan said that he does not like any of his performances so far. He makes it a point to re-watch his past films but there has been none where he can say he's done a good job. Well, he might not say that after watching his powerful delivery (pun intended) in the role of a mad-cap coach who gives it his all to turn around the misfortune of a potential winner.</p> <p>Shabana Azmi plays the role of a loving grandma who passionately follows cricket in a bid to help encourage and motivate her granddaughter to perform better. It is heartening to see her maintain a book of Dixit's hits and misses and make the budding cricketer, energising smoothies every morning.</p> <p><i>Ghoomer </i>is a motivational saga from the real-life story of the late Hungarian shooter Karoly Takacs, who won a gold medal in the rapid fire pistol event at the 1948 London Olympics with his left hand after his other hand was seriously injured. This, the film announces during the credit roll itself. A deftly made movie, <i>Ghoomer </i>is a treat to watch.</p> <p><b>Movie: Ghoomer</b></p> <p><b>Director: R. Balki</b></p> <p><b>Cast: Abhishek Bachchan, Shabana Azmi, Saiyami Kher, Angad Bedi and Shivendra Singh Dungarpur</b></p> <p><b>Rating: 4 stars</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Mon Aug 21 16:34:53 IST 2023 gadar-2-review-a-sequel-that-we-didnt-ask-for <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Among all the things that Gadar 2 aims to achieve, it surely hits the bull's eye in one aspect—evoking nostalgia. Back in 2001, when the original Gadar was released, 'Udja Kale Kawan' became a superhit, even as Sunny Deol stole hearts as the lovable Sardar who could dance, sing, love, and fight with equal passion. That is the kind of expectation that Gadar 2 had to meet; but alas, it couldn't. This is nothing but an unnecessary sequel that ended up becoming a hotchpotch. Neither Tara Singh (Sunny Deol) nor his wife Sakeena (Ameesha Patel) have any impact on us; they are simply forgotten the moment the film is over. <br> <br> Director Anil Sharma casts his son, Utkarsh (the same little boy who played Tara Singh's son 21 years back), in a bid to take the story forward, but the plot lacks the necessary power and punch to keep us absorbed. The story goes like this; high on patriotism, Tara Singh goes on a rampage in Pakistan again, this time to rescue his son from the clutches of the cruel and venomous Major General Hamid Iqbal who wants to avenge the death of his family during Partition and 40 soldiers whom Tara Singh had killed while rescuing Sakeena from Pakistan. <br> <br> As the fear of war between India and Pakistan looms large, Lieutenant Colonel Devendra Rawat from Punjab asks Tara's help to deploy his trucks and send ammunition at the border to help Indian soldiers. In the firing that ensues, Tara disappears along with six Indian soldiers. Charanjit Singh (Utkarsh Sharma) Tara's son thinks his father may have been taken captive by Pakistan and goes to the country to bring him back. In the process, he gets captured and it is up to Tara to come to his rescue.<br> </p> <p>Everything happens so abruptly in the movie, and it almost feels like a video game being played out on a big screen. <br> <br> Utkarsh looks good in wide shots, but he fails to emote convincingly during close-up scenes. While the first half shows him as an innocent young guy aspiring to be an actor, he turns into a bearded action hero in the second half. Sunny Deol's talent sizzles on screen, both during action sequences as well as lighter, romantic scenes. However, there are multiple times when he goes overboard and comes across as garrulous and vain as if the gifted actor is trying hard to make an impact. Ameesha Patel is mostly wooden-faced, failing to convey the rage and despair her character has. <br> <br> Overall, Gadar can be missed if the other films playing in theatres at the same time are worth your time.<br> <br> <b>'Gadar 2' movie cast: Sunny Deol, Ameesha Patel, Utkarsh Sharma, Simrat Kaur, Manish Wadhwa, Gaurav Chopra, Rakesh Bedi<br> 'Gadar 2' movie director: Anil Sharma<br> 'Gadar 2' movie rating: 1/5</b></p> Fri Aug 11 22:34:17 IST 2023 heart-of-stone-review-this-netflix-action-might-remind-audience-of-amazon-primes-citadel <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>It is no surprise that Tom Harper's directorial 'Heart of Stone' could pull off many unique stunts. Starring an ensemble cast like Gal Gadot, Jamie Dornan and Alia Bhatt, this Netflix original is a promising watch for action film lovers.<br> </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Gal Gadot delivers one of her best performances portraying Rachel Stone, a spy. A character high on action, Gadot meets her fans' expectations and portrays a different 'wonder woman' in the film.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Rachel Stone is a spy among spies. She works with M16 (Parker, Bailey and Yang) and secretly for the 'Charters'. Despite her dual role, Stone remains faithful to both organisations. In one of her missions with M16, her identity as a member of the Charters gets compromised. This leads to further revelations where she learns about another mole in M16 who is after the Heart, a powerful AI device. Alia Bhatt portrays Keya Dhawan in her Hollywood debut film.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Though high on action, the action and chase scenes might remind the audience of Mission Impossible and James Bond films. Some of the action sequences seem like a tedious copy from recent releases like Citadel and MI: Dead Reckoning Part One. Rachel Stone, who is known as “Nine” in the organisation 'Charters' may remind viewers of the popular spy code name-“007”.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The movie does put effort in terms of suspense and thrill, especially in the first half. The several twists in the first half of the film make it rich in mystery and suspense. As the film progresses into the second half, the plot becomes more predictable. Except for a few lines, the dialogues sounded just average. One of the interesting ones was mouthed by Dornan (Parker), and he uses a similarly sounding line in two extremely different situations in the film. Dornan says, “It knows you better than you know yourself” while referring to the 'Heart', a powerful AI device. And says something similar while commenting about Stone.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The movie plays well with the title 'Heart of Stone'. Though the literal translation can mean a person who is stern and cruel, Agent Stone proves to be the exact opposite. Throughout the movie, Stone depends on her emotional side and gut while making decisions. At times, her gut does deceive her, but, in the climax, it's her abundant trust in herself that leads to Stone's triumph. The movie also focuses on the growing sisterhood between Rachel Stone (Gal Gadot) and Keya Dhawan (Alia Bhatt). Though their relationship is riddled with friction, they later develop a bond and hold each other’s back. The last action block between Parker (Jamie Dornan), Stone (Gal Gadot) and Dhawan (Alia Bhatt) in the film highlights the strong bond between the girls and reminds the viewers of 'Charlie’s Angels'.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Director – </b>Tom Harper</p> <p><b>Cast –</b> Gal Gadot, Jamie Dornan, Alia Bhatt, Matthias Schweighofer</p> <p><b>Rating –</b> 3/5</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Fri Aug 11 19:37:23 IST 2023 omg-2-review-akshay-kumar-pankaj-tripathi-make-a-bold-statement-question-societys-morals <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Nearly a decade ago, a film with Paresh Rawal in the lead and Akshay Kumar playing the character of god was released without much ado. Despite some controversies, the satirical comedy-drama gradually turned out to be a success.</p> <p>In OMG- Oh My God, which was a courtroom drama, an atheist (Rawal) was pitted against the organised system of godmen and self-styled gurus who mislead people in the name of religion and instill fear in them. The film did not shy away from raising questions on matters of belief.</p> <p>A decade later, OMG 2 makes another bold statement and unmasks the hypocrisies of people. This time, the makers choose to speak up on the issue of sex education. While the first installment had an atheist raising some pertinent questions, in OMG 2, it is a staunch believer, Kanti Sharan Mudgal, played by Pankaj Tripathi, who stands up against an unspoken evil –vilification of sex in society.</p> <p>When Mudgal’s son is caught masturbating in school, the child is publicly shamed and suspended from school. A broken but supportive Mudgal takes on the responsibility of addressing the shame related to self-pleasuring and sex which is still considered a taboo in the society. There begins a court case between him and the school authorities and self-proclaimed sex doctors who claim to provide treatments to increase the length of the penis, often leading to disastrous results.</p> <p>The film puts forth an argument that should have been addressed by the education board and asks for reforms that have been long-awaited in the education system. It argues for the inclusion of sex education in the school curriculum that goes beyond basic biological processes and teaches good and bad touch, consent, and the differences between the male and female genitals, respect and autonomy of a woman’s body, self-pleasuring and more.</p> <p>This is certainly an important film for parents, educators, and youngsters. It addresses how and why sex became a societal evil in the land of Kamasutra and how shame was attached to it; how the ancient Indian scriptures and monuments talk about the art of sex and pleasuring oneself and how colonialism began viewing it all as a taboo; and how the education system is in need of reforms.</p> <p>The film follows the structure of its first installment. Akshay Kumar shines this time as Lord Shiva who comes down to help his devotee in trouble. In fact, Kumar’s Shiva rendition can be labelled as his best performance in recent years—the actor had a string of poor-performing films and bad content to his credit in recent years. Tripathi is his usual brilliant self and Yami Gautam as a lawyer is a strong presence. The film does not preach but does not also trivialise the sensitive matter. Instead, it deals with the topic with utmost maturity and sensitivity.</p> <p>OMG 2 is a cinematic delight with an important message. The makers of the film deserve an ovation for time and again creating theatrical masterpieces that not only educate the audiences but also entertain them.</p> <p><b>Film: OMG 2</b></p> <p><b>Language: Hindi</b></p> <p><b>Director: Amit Rai</b></p> <p><b>Cast: Akshay Kumar, Pankaj Tripathi, Yami Gautam</b></p> <p><b>Rating: 4/5</b></p> <p><br> <br> </p> Fri Aug 11 18:49:15 IST 2023 jailer-review-this-rajinikanth-flick-is-sure-to-please-fans <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>As I get into the cinemas for the FDFS (first day, first show) of <i>Jailer </i>in my locality in Chennai, the energy around me is palpable. Sitting next to me is a young dentist who rescheduled all her appointments, and declared a holiday for her clinic, to catch the FDFS. She begins screaming and dancing as Rajinikanth opens the door and emerges out of a pooja room, nearly numbing my eardrums for a second.</p> <p>After Annaatthe and Darbar which did poorly at the box office, Rajinikanth has delivered a riveting action flick with <i>Jailer</i>. The superstar looks super stylish, with his salt-and-pepper hair and beard. Nelson Dilipkumar is back in his elements, and offers plenty of dark humour, just like his earlier flicks, Doctor and Kolamaavu Kokila.</p> <p>The film opens with the theft of an idol from a temple and the murder of a priest, giving viewers a general idea of what is to come. Arjun, an assistant commissioner who cracks the idol theft case goes missing only to be told that he is dead. His father, former cop Muthuvel Pandian (Rajinikanth) who was once a jailer, vows to avenge his son's death and protect his family. What happens next forms the rest of the story.</p> <p>Nelson retains his signature style, with plenty of action sequences, bloodshed, dry humour and a gripping screenplay. There are enough twists and turns to keep you engaged. The flashback sequences are especially delightful, reminding the fans of Rajinikanth's evergreen hit, <i>Baashha</i>. Mollywood actor Mohanlal looks even more stylish than the superstar himself. Kannada superstar Shiva Rajkumar and Jackie Shroff too come up with strong performances. Tamannaah Bhatia's cameo is a treat to watch.</p> <p>While Rajinikanth looks super stylish, he doesn't have many action sequences, as his handymen do all the fighting while the superstar mostly issues commands.</p> <p>Initially, the movie reminds you of the recent Kamal Haasan-starrer <i>Vikram</i>. The movie also reminds you of Sivaji Ganesan's <i>Thangappathakkam</i>. And of course, the film does call for suspension of disbelief very many times. Despite these flaws, if you are a Rajinikanth fan, Jailer will certainly bring a smile on your face.</p> <p><b>Movie: Jailor</b></p> <p><b>Director: Nelson Dilipkumar</b></p> <p><b>Cast: Rajinikanth, Mohanlal, Shiva Rajkumar, Jackie Shroff, Sunil, Ramya Krishnan, Vinayakan</b></p> <p><b>Rating: 3/5</b></p> Thu Aug 10 18:56:16 IST 2023 made-in-heaven-season-2-review-a-compelling-drama-with-well-crafted-narrative <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>If Season 1 of<i> Made in Heaven </i>was starters, season 2 is that delicious and zesty main course we were all looking forward to. After four years of wait, this latest offering on Amazon Prime created by the feisty team of Reema Kagti, Zoya Akhtar, Alankrita Srivastava, Neeraj Ghaywan, Anil Lakhwani, and Rahul Nair makes for a compelling binge watch.</p> <p>The script that brings to the fore the big fat Indian wedding tamasha is crisp, strong, sassy and knows how to 'hook you up' (pun intended), and then keep you there until the last credits in the last episode begin to roll.</p> <p>Interestingly, despite the gap, one is instantly taken into the world of wedding planners Karan Mehra (Arjun Mathur) and Tara Khanna (Sobhita Dhulipala), as if they are just old friends catching up on the lost time. Season 2 is a grander and denser version which is consuming in its storytelling, direction and screenplay.</p> <p>The backdrop remains the same—quintessential South Delhi and the opulent, extravagant weddings of its rich and famous. But this time, the script is beautifully crafted to give a voice to marriages of all forms—from exchange of vows between a lesbian couple, to a heartwarming remarriage of a single mother, to a buddhist wedding led by a dalit woman and an upper caste man, and more.</p> <p><i>Made in Heaven </i>2 is a multi-layered narrative that takes the route of social commentary to delve upon the times we live in. Yes, we have the grandeur and opulence of the multi-crore Punjabi weddings to gape at, but that is just in passing. The real meat here is the storyline that moves seamlessly ahead episode by episode, taking us into the varied complexities of human relationships we did not even know existed. The makers ensure that the lead pair takes their viewers along and gets them involved too.</p> <p>For instance, in the first episode you want to root for the groom who loves his dusky bride for what she is and discourages her from falling into the 'fair is beautiful' trap.</p> <p>Likewise, in the second episode, starring Mrunal Thakur you want to slap the guy for violently thrashing and abusing his bride-to-be an evening before their wedding and you really hope that she calls it off. In the third episode, Neelam Kothari and Samir Soni, both childhood sweethearts who ended up marrying different people, pull at your heartstrings when they remarry in their early 50s in a bid to reclaim their lives for themselves.</p> <p>Likewise, one wants to root for the character of Radhika Apte, an Ivy League pass-out and established lawyer who stands up for her dalit identity when marrying a man of privilege.</p> <p>The core team involving the lead pair and those around them, including Mona Singh, Trinetra Haldar, Kalki Koechlin, Shivani Raghuvanshi, Shashank Arora and Shibani Bagchi greatly add to the story and take the narrative forward. This time around the <i>Made in Heaven</i> team, both on screen and off screen, has been considerably beefed up with a lot many characters in the fray.</p> <p>We wish there was also more focus on the pink-peach extravagance —we'd have liked to ogle at the decor, gifts, cutlery, gifts, wardrobe and more that go on to make multi-crore weddings. But a bit of that is made up for in the fourth episode wherein we have a destination wedding.</p> <p>Episodes are alternately directed by Ghaywan and the Kagti-AKhtar duo, and each one is a must watch.</p> <p>Never mind, if you missed out on season 1; watch this—it is an enthralling binge-watch in itself.</p> <p><b>Series: Made in Heaven, season 2</b></p> <p><b>Streaming on: Amazon Prime Video</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Thu Aug 10 12:05:55 IST 2023 the-hunt-for-veerappan-review-a-gripping-docuseries-on-the-infamous-brigand <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>It was 2004. Almost a month before the Lok Sabha elections, when former Tamil Nadu chief minister Jayalalithaa's AIADMK aligned with the BJP in Tamil Nadu. Jayalalithaa was on a campaigning spree and roadshows across Tamil Nadu calling AICC leader Sonia Gandhi as Antonia Maino were getting popular among the masses of Tamil Nadu.</p> <p>As a correspondent working for Jayalalithaa's Jaya TV, I travelled for around 60 days during the campaign with her convoy, covering the first leg of her election campaign. At Sathyamangalam, I decided to step down from the convoy and my colleague Ramani took over.</p> <p>After spending a day at Sathyamangalam, at the behest of former minister K.A. Sengottaiyan, who was organising Jayalalithaa's campaign, I decided to go home to meet my father in Coimbatore. But all of a sudden there was a change of mind as I read the morning newspaper. I wanted to go into the Sathyamangalam jungle and work on a story on forest brigand Veerappan. This was when Operation Cocoon was at its peak and the Special Task Force (STF) was working tirelessly to nab the dreaded bandit.</p> <p>I walked into the jungle, with one of my junior colleagues Bhuvana and my camera person Radhakrishnan, enjoying the scenic beauty of the forest. Sounds of chirping birds and the sight of mist covering the trees, gave us the energy to walk up further. After a few kilometres, as we tread deep into the forest, we were stopped by a set of STF policemen. After the usual inquiry we went up further into one of the STF camps. I had a long conversation with one of the officers at the camp. It was an off-the-record chat, where he gave me details of Operation Cocoon, its progress and what kind of a person Veerappan was. But he wanted us to return to the foothills of the Sathyamangalam forest as early as we could. He took us in his Jeep to yet another camp, further deep into the jungle, and showed us how the police personnel were working in difficult times. Later, he dropped us back at the foothills. I had spent a whole day with the STF, but did not get an exclusive story.</p> <p>As a reporter, who had reported in depth on Kannada superstar Rajkumar's abduction by Veerappan, his associate Nagappa's escape, press conferences of journalist Nakkeeran Gopal, who was sent as an emissary to meet Veerappan and also Tamil Nationalist leader Pazha Nedumaran, there was always an urge in my mind to do a detailed piece on Veerappan, his life and his days in the jungle. On October 18, 2004, when my colleague was sent to report on the killing of Veerappan, I even fought with my editor for not sending me.</p> <p><b>'Hero' and criminal</b></p> <p>And now, decades later, as I watched Netflix's four-part docuseries <i>The Hunt for Veerappan</i>, directed by Selvamani Selvaraj, I am taken back to those days which came to an end with Jayalalithaa felicitating the entire STF team for killing Veerappan.</p> <p>The docuseries, which runs a little over three hours, begins with Muthu Lakshmi, wife of the forest brigand, recalling the day she first met him. She slowly shares anecdotes of him being celebrated as the 'hero'. It also features interviews of journalist Sunaad and forest officer B.K. Singh.</p> <p>Old photographs, newspaper cuttings, disturbing music and aerial shots of the deep dark jungle set the mood for the documentary about one of India's most famous outlaws. The first episode delves into Veerappan's journey from an ordinary village boy to an elephant poacher and sandalwood smuggler who was called the &quot;forest king.&quot; <i>The Hunt for Veerappan </i>strings together the accounts shared by Muthu Lakshmi, Sunaad, Singh and STF officer 'Tiger' Ashok Kumar supplemented with archival photographs, videos and audio cassettes playing messages from Veerappan. The interviews are revealing, particularly the one with officer Senthamarai Kannan and the trader who did not want to reveal his identity. The villagers also share intimate details of the sufferings under Veerappan.</p> <p><i>The Hunt for Veerappan </i>reflects the deep research work done by Selvaraj and his team before they sat down to record these interviews. The narration by journalist Siva Subramaniam, who was the first person to photograph Veerappan, shows us how Veerappan’s life changed after that.</p> <p>As much as the gripping docuseries captures the true spirit behind the police operation, it also portrays the disdain of cops in an era when technology was limited. In the beginning, however, it seems that the series is glorifying Veerappan. The second and the third part do complete justice and reveal the true story of a dreaded criminal.</p> <p>Despite the intense research and use of archival material in the docuseries, <i>The Hunt for Veerappan </i>stands out for some key omissions. Decorated police<i> </i>officer Shankar Bidari, best remembered for destroying Veerappan's gang, has not been interviewed by the makers. Vijay Kumar, who led operation Cocoon, has also not been interviewed. Yet another significant man is missing—Nakkeeran Gopal, a man who is believed to have known Veerappan up and close.</p> <p>That said, the series stays true to its title by delivering details and sticking to the timeline from 1989 to October 2004.</p> <p><b>Show: The Hunt for Veerappan</b></p> <p><b>Director: Selvamani Selvaraj</b></p> <p><b>Streaming on: Netflix</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Sat Aug 05 15:11:32 IST 2023 meg-2-the-trench-review-does-justice-to-the-genre-not-to-the-title <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p><i>Meg 2: The Trench</i>, directed by Ben Wheatley, is a movie that mirrors the director's interest areas. Wheatley has always been prominent in the thriller and horror genres, creating engaging movies like <i>Kill List, High Rise</i>, and <i>Sightseers</i>. <br> <br> Wheatley's particular interest in these genres has had a great impact on <i>Meg 2</i>, making it more thrilling, adventurous and ghastly than its predecessor, The Meg, directed by Jon Turtletaub. Jason Statham (Jonas Taylor) has been synonymous to action flicks in Hollywood. The movie plays to the actor's strengths with plenty of action scenes, making it interesting enough for lovers of the genre. <br> <br> Ever since the release of Steven Spielberg's <i>Jaws </i>in the 1970s, Hollywood has been regularly coming up with movies that feature shark attacks. <i>Meg 2</i> does take its inspiration from <i>Jaws </i>in terms of cinematography. Apart from showcasing the prehistoric creature Megalodon, the movie introduces and provides almost equal attention to a strange octopus and many lizard-like creatures, offering a confused diversion from the title of the movie. The creatures happen to be modelled after dinosaurs from <i>Jurassic Park</i>, making the additions seem repetitive and mundane. <br> <br> Cliche dialogues and unsuccessful attempts at humour are another setback for the movie. DJ (played by Page Kennedy) happens to be the sole comic relief, but most of the dialogues and scenes come across as cheesy.</p> <p><b>The plot</b><br> <br> Jonas Taylor returns in the movie as an eco-warrior who is on a mission to capture people who have been dumping radioactive waste in the ocean. Soon, his team goes to the trench in order to check the unexplored areas in the ocean. Meiying (played by Sophia Cai), Taylor's daughter, joins the team without their knowledge, making a protective Taylor angry. <br> <br> Unlike the first movie, there are three megs that are bigger than the one in the first movie. As the team escapes to Fun Island, the megs follow them, wreaking havoc and taking many lives there. But more dangers await them at Fun Island, including dangerous reptiles and a giant octopus. From an eco-warrior, Taylor turns into an action hero and single-handedly takes on the megs.<br> <br> Despite the brilliant action sequences and graphics, the poor dialogue and the many loopholes in the plot make it less engaging. While Wheatley's sequel is more ghastly than <i>The Meg</i>, and has even superior cinematography and visual effects, it does not do full justice to the title as other creatures get equal or even more limelight than the megs.</p> <p> <b>Our take<br> </b><br> Meg 2: The Trench may be appealing to genre enthusiasts, but it offers no competition to the other movies that dominate the box office currently, Barbie and Oppenheimer.</p> <p><b>Movie name: Meg 2: The Trench</b></p> <p><b>Director: Ben Wheatley</b></p> <p><b>Cast: Jason Statham, Wu Jing, Sophia Cai , Page Kennedy</b></p> <p><b>Rating: 2.5/5<br> </b><br> <br> </p> Fri Aug 04 18:37:14 IST 2023 25-years-of-karan-johar-rocky-aur-rani-ki-prem-kahani-is-a-maturely-conceived-entertainer <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>You know it's a Karan Johar classic when you see grand palatial homes, uber-rich families, spoonfuls of melodrama, an ensemble cast and well-dressed and good-looking actors onscreen. Rocky Aur Rani Ki Prem Kahani is all of that and more.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>When Karan Johar announced his special project on his 25 glorious years in the film industry with his muse Alia Bhatt as the lead, expectations were high. With Ranveer Singh's energy and Bhatt's acting prowess, it was sure to draw crowds. The film's marketing and promotion campaigns added to the hype and the fact that Karan Johar was returning to the director's chair after five years, (his last directorial venture was Lust Stories in 2018 and Ae Dil Hai Mushkil in 2016) made the film highly anticipated.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>RARKPK strikes the right chord with the audience and goes on to show how Johar has matured and polished himself over his two-and-a-half decades in the film industry. One would almost call it a feminist 2023 retelling of his Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham. Almost every scene of the film attempts to deliver a message, at times it may feel too didactic. But layer by layer, it also peels away one's conditioning, questioning the workings of Indian society, its set norms, and stereotypical notions.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Rocky Randhawa, a rich Punjabi boy from a business-class family goes on to find the love of his grandfather's (Dharmendra) life in an attempt to rekindle his spirit. Rani Chatterjee, who is the granddaughter of Jamini (Shabana Azmi) meets Rocky, and a strong attraction between the two brews. Things get intense and they end up having a casual affair. When Rocky proposes Rani, the clear demarcation between their ways of life and their families and cultural backgrounds glares at them. To understand each other's culture better, they decide to live with each other's families for three months.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Jaya Bachchan plays the matriarch of Rocky's family and is a reflection of Amitabh Bachchan's self in Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham - the all-demanding and controlling leader of the family set in their ways and unaccepting of any change. The women in the Randhawa household have no voice and dreams while in the Chatterjee family, women stand strong. The film draws on the typical cultural clash between a pakka Punjabi and a polished Bengali.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Both Alia and Ranveer deliver apt performances while Jaya maintains her angry woman stance in the film too. The parallel love story between Dharmendra and Shabana Azmi entertains the audience and is a sweet value addition.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>From questioning one's inherent notions of skin colour to giving women their autonomy back, body shaming and fighting orthodox ideals; from not perceiving men as the stronger gender to portraying a man happily following his dream of being a kathak dancer despite society questioning his choices - the film is a handbook on how to be a feminist.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>One wonders if the film tries too hard to please the audience and be politically correct one scene after the other. The overall tone and the storyline, however, impress and entertain the audience. Johar seems to have learned and grown from his previous experiences, as he recently admitted that a lot of things Rahul said (in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai) were wrong. Keeping in mind the simpler times of the day back then, no one seemed to have minded but Johar in 2023 knows better!</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Film: Rocky Aur Rani Ki Prem Kahani</b></p> <p><b>Language: Hindi</b></p> <p><b>Director: Karan Johar</b></p> <p><b>Cast: Alia Bhatt, Ranveer Singh, Dharmendra, Jaya Bachchan, Shabana Azmi</b></p> <p><b>Rating: 3.5/5</b></p> Fri Jul 28 18:52:02 IST 2023 voice-of-satyanathan-review-decent-entertainer-for-fans-of-dileeps-brand-of-comedy <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>During the 1990s and 2000s, Rafi-Mecartin was a name synonymous with comedy hits in Mollywood. This dynamic duo produced several comedy gems with great repeat value, such as <i>Punjabi House</i>, <i>Thenkasi Pattanam </i>and<i> Chathikatha Chanthu</i>. However, the duo split in the early 2010s, and Raffi continued to stick on to slapstick genre in his solo films, too.</p> <p>Compared to his solo outings like <i>Ring Master </i>(2014) and <i>Role Models</i> (2017), Raffi's latest flick, <i>Voice of Sathyanathan</i>, is a relief. However, it is clear that the filmmaker is still confined to the style of the 1990s and 2000s.</p> <p>Similarly, actor Dileep came to be known as &quot;<i>janapriya nayakan</i>&quot; with his lead roles in rom-coms and slapstick comedies during the late 1990s and early 2000s. His loud and exaggerated style suited the comedies Mollywood produced at that time.</p> <p>There is no doubt that he is an actor capable of controlled acting—as seen in his films like <i>Kathavasheshan</i> (2004) or <i>Arike </i>(2012). However, by the second half of the 2000s itself, Dileep had started to create an acting mould for himself when it comes to films tagged under the “comedy genre”. <i>Voice of Sathyanathan</i> reaffirms that Dileep has not completely broken free from that decades-old mould, and has no intention of reinventing his comedic style to suit the present age.</p> <p><i>Voice of Sathyanathan</i> follows a well-worn plotline commonly seen in cinema, where an &quot;ordinary man&quot; faces challenging circumstances, leading him to perform &quot;extraordinary&quot; feats and eventually gain recognition from the world. However, one distinctive aspect is that the protagonist encounters trouble due to his own articulation issues.</p> <p>The story begins with a simple misunderstanding between neighbours caused by a power-cut, but it quickly spirals into a series of troubles for Sathyanathan. His actions even draw the attention of law enforcement agencies, leading to suspicions about his possible links to terror groups.</p> <p>The film's first act employs more of a slapstick comedy style, but the comedic timing feels off, and the comedy lacks the sharpness and cleverness that make for genuinely amusing moments. In this portion, Sathyanathan is portrayed as a fraud small-scale businessman with a loud mouth. However, this reviewer believes that this character-building became an obstacle in the film’s third act, in making the audience believe that this man would eventually take significant risks to benefit society, even endangering his own life.</p> <p>The second act of the film is arguably the best part. During this phase, Sathyanathan finds himself confined in jails in both Kerala and Mumbai because of one grave mistake he does in his village. During the confinement phases, he would become the pet of two distinctly opposite characters—played respectively by Joju George and Makrand Deshpande. In this section, Raffi shifts gears to make the film more dramatic, and Dileep delivers a more controlled performance. Although Raffi gives the least priority to logic, he manages to introduce some decent subplots in this part of the film. Interestingly, some of the conversational jokes in this part actually worked and created laughter in the theatre.</p> <p>However, in the third act, the writing once again falters, and the moments that are supposed to make the audience root for Satyanathan end up feeling bland.</p> <p>Some of the supporting cast, particularly Siddique and Abhiram Radhakrishnan, delivered praiseworthy performances, showcasing their range as actors. Joju portrayed a “typical Joju George”—a ‘man of pain’—character in this film, too. This writer fears that the incredibly talented actor, too, is getting typecast with his choice of films.</p> <p>Veena Nandakumar, who played Sathyanathan's wife, Susan, gave a decent performance. The most cringe-worthy performance came from Ramesh Pisharody, who played a YouTuber who desperately attempts to copy the style and slang of Gen-Z social media stars.</p> <p>Ankit Menon was in charge of the film's music, but unfortunately, the background score proved to be too loud, and lacking soul at several points throughout the movie. The cinematography department also failed to leave a lasting impression.</p> <p>Overall, the film did not create a favourable impression. But if you are someone who can be content with ‘old wine in a new bottle’, you might find enjoyment in this film.</p> <p><b>Film: Voice of Sathyanathan</b></p> <p><b>Director: Raffi</b></p> <p><b>Cast: Dileep, Joju George, Veena Nandakumar</b></p> <p><b>Rating: 2/5</b></p> Fri Jul 28 17:07:21 IST 2023 kaalkoot-review-vijay-varma-is-excellent-in-this-gripping-police-procedural <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p><i>Kaalkoot</i> is one more masterstroke by the immensely talented Vijay Verma, this time as a good-hearted cop with a conscience. (His most notable performances till date have been ones that drive you to hate him - be it in the role of a womaniser and serial killer in <i>Dahaad</i>, or as the voyeur Sasya in the Netflix web series <i>SHE</i>). </p> <p><i>Kaalkoot</i> is also a feather in the hat of JioCinema—finally the platform got a show worth watching, rather bingeing on.</p> <p>Only three episodes were released as the first installment on Thursday and then each new episode releases after a gap of 24 hours. The script engages you to such an extent that one only hopes this show could be binge-watched. Also, another hope is that the succeeding episodes stay true to the mood built up by the first three.</p> <p>Coming to the story, this is a police procedural based on victims of acid attacks in a small town of Uttar Pradesh. Verma, as Ravi Shankar Tripathi is a sub-inspector who is forced to investigate an acid attack in his jurisdiction, just when he decides to quit his job. </p> <p>Created by Arunabh Kumar and directed by Sumit Saxena, it is the way the story flows that makes it an immensely watchable show. So, all the credit first goes to the writers.<i> Kaalkoot </i>does not hinge on needless profanity nor does it take the support of sex and sensuality to prove its point. Here, dialogues are hard hitting, story is direct and gripping and the actors are real.</p> <p>As the victim, Parul continues to recover in the hospital with her parents waiting on her; Tripathi is on the mission to piece together the sequence of events that led to the attack. Here even as her parents wait on her, Tripathi's colleagues and seniors get into character assassination by calling the victim a prostitute who deserved what she got, based on the evidence of a bottle of alcohol inside her purse. </p> <p>Tripathi does not agree and is trying to find his voice amid the din created by misogyny around him. Another character who lingers for long after the show is over, is that of Tripathi's mother played by Seema Biswas. She is full of heart and immediately pulls you into her small world consisting of her son and late husband, an ex-professor of Hindi literature.</p> <p><i>Kaalkoot</i><b> </b>is totally worth a watch, the first three episodes definitely were. Now, let us hope the momentum builds up further in the upcoming episodes.</p> <p><b>Show: Kaalkoot</b></p> <p><b>Language: Hindi</b></p> <p><b>Director: Sumit Saxena</b></p> <p><b>Cast: Vijay Varma, Shwetha Tripathi, Seema Biswas</b></p> <p><b>Streaming on: JioCinema</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Fri Jul 28 12:05:08 IST 2023 barbie-review-greta-gerwigs-feminist-satire-is-about-barbie-world-and-ken-happens-to-live-in-it <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>It is the release day of&nbsp;Barbie, and the theatre is full of adults dressed in all pink. Among the pink-clad audience in the theatre, only one child accompanies her mother, making one wonder if Barbie is relevant in today's world. Are today’s children no longer interested in Barbies? Is the film only for adults craving nostalgia? Do today’s children even play with Barbies? Or are they too woke to give into a stereotypical woman’s image?</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>As one enters the pink world of Barbie land, answers to these questions unfold. Greta Gerwig, who excels at narrating stories of women and has previously helmed critically successful films like Little Women (2019) and Lady Bird (2017), not only brings to life Mattel Inc’s plastic marvel and stuns the viewers, but also humanises the story of Barbie – from the fancy stereotypical image of perfection, Barbie is now a woman in a real-world grappling with issues women face in the society, fighting for her position, experiencing emotions and dealing with patriarchy.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The film begins with Margot Robbie, who plays Barbie with natural ease and excellence, stepping out of her heels with her perfectly arched feet – an iconic scene that will be remembered for years to come. She wakes up happy in her dollhouse, takes a water-less shower, steps into her closet and gets dressed and drinks coffee from an empty cup – every detail of a child’s play is captured brilliantly onscreen. As she steps out of her house and into her happy pink Barbie land, all the Barbies live in harmony and happiness, and Kens vie for the attention of Barbies. Their day usually goes driving around in pink cars and playing on the beach, followed by a girls’ party and sleepover. As opposed to the real world, women rule Barbie land – from president to authors, doctors, and even a Nobel prize winners, Barbies are everything while Kens simply live in the world of Barbies.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>One day, as the thought of mortality crosses Barbie’s mind, her perfect world starts to change and fall apart. She decides to go to the real world and Ken (Ryan Gosling) tags along. When she is exposed to the problems women face in the real world, she breaks down, and tears cloud her eyes. She realizes that the young generation of today no longer likes the idea of Barbie, and learns that her stereotypical, even fascist and a perfect image of a woman deeply scarred many little women for life.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Ken, on the other hand, finds out the real world is a man’s world and that he can finally have a voice. He takes back patriarchal ideas with him and disrupts the smooth functioning of Barbie land. Kens begin to rule the Utopian Barbie land while Barbies swoon over them and serve them.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>It is when a millennial – the mother of a young girl, who would play with Barbies in her childhood—meets Barbie that things begin to smoothen for Barbie and her world. Together, they work towards reclaiming their position in the society (read Barbie land).</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Greta Gerwig’s Barbie rendition is a feminist satire on patriarchy that gives one hope and a few lessons to learn from Barbie herself – she is sure she doesn't love Ken and likes to have her own identity and wants Ken to not just be known as her boyfriend but have his own place.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Mattel Inc, the toy company that makes Barbie, becomes a part of the story partly as a villain – it is a company ruled by men who make Barbies through their vision and cannot recall the last time they had a woman CEO – a satirical take on men ruling the world and objectifying women and her image through their lens. No wonder the protagonist Barbie is a perfectly toned, attractive and slim white woman – Gerwig takes a subtle dig here. And so is Ken, a white, chiseled man portrayed by Ryan Gosling. Gerwig, being herself, does not forget to bring in inclusivity in terms of body types and Barbies and Kens belonging to different nationalities.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Though Barbie and Ken may not be relevant in today’s world and the film realises it well, it makes for a perfect watch and Gerwig’s is an honest, witty and the perfect voice to tell Barbie’s story. The film’s ensemble cast is full of many delightful surprises – Emma Mackey as one of the Barbies, Dua Lipa as the mermaid Barbie and the guest appearance of the creator of Barbie herself – Ruth Handler played by Rhea Perlman who has many words of wisdom to share and her real idea of Barbie. Both Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling excel in roles tailor-made for them and one cannot imagine anyone else but them to be Barbie and Ken!</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The biggest takeaway also remains the fact that the world cannot be a place ruled only by men (as in the case of the real world) or a place ruled only by women (as in the case of Barbie land). In the former, women live a sad suppressed life while in the latter, men have no identity and purpose. Gerwig opines without making it obvious that the world will be a wonderful place only if all men and women had an equal place and share.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Film: Barbie</b></p> <p><b>Director: Greta Gerwig</b></p> <p><b>Cast: Margot Robbie, Ryan Gosling</b></p> <p><b>Rating: 3.5/5</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Fri Jul 21 20:09:16 IST 2023 bawaal-review-a-cringefest-with-no-substance <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> Helmed by Nitesh Tiwari and Ashwini Tiwari's EarthSky Pictures and led by Varun Dhawan and Jhanvi Kapoor, Bawaal comes across more as a YouTube lesson on the Second World War for kids than a movie with substance. This is a cringefest, at best. Despite Dhawan's immense talent and aptitude to set the screen on fire with his presence, the script not only fails him but leaves one to wonder if he really reads his scripts before committing to a project. <br> <br> Coming to the storyline, Lucknow-based Ajay aka Ajju Bhaiya (Dhawan) is a high school teacher who is highly depressed about his life. He is insecure, envies his friends for their wealth and prosperity, and in order to feel in control, he lives a life based on bluffs and lies. He builds an image of himself in the eyes of everyone he knows, with a fake swag. Even the job of a history teacher seems to have been bagged by fraudulent means, given that he has zero knowledge of the subject and slaps his students when they raise doubts. His family comprises long-suffering parents (Manoj Pahwa and Anjuman Saxena), his wife Nisha (Jhanvi Kapoor), and his best friend (Prateek Pachori). <br> <br> Ajay feels he got a 'defected piece' in Nisha as she suffers from epilepsy. Their relationship as a married couple hasn't taken off and during that time Ajay faces humiliation of suspension back at school for slapping the son of an MLA in class. In a bid to set things right, Ajay decides he will teach his students about World War 2 by actually traveling to places in Europe that were most impacted by World War II — Paris, Amsterdam, Normandy, Berlin, culminating in Auschwitz. Yes, this teacher goes around posing in front of monuments and creates reels that his students back home are meant to watch and learn. Well, couldn't the teacher simply play some videos on a projector in class instead? And whatever happened to books? <br> <br> He does all these even as he wouldn't talk to his wife or have any contact with her. We are aghast by his disgust and deep resentment for his wife. He wouldn't even appear in public with her for fear that she may have an episode and embarrass him. But then, vaguely enough, by the end of the WW2 tour, he suddenly sees her for what she is—a smart, intelligent and educated woman and confesses his love for her, and just like that the film is over. It seems as if the makers weren't sure of what this should be about and so they somehow managed to fix something which has neither a head nor tail and fails to keep up its momentum. <br> <br> Janhvi Kapoor is insipid and unremarkable. Her dialogues lack punch; even those that are meant to evoke emotions, hardly connect with the viewer. Even though one could spot a few sachhire moments in Bawaal, they quickly fizzle out even before they can establish a connection with the viewer. Bawaal can be skipped for something more interesting. <br> <br> <b>Movie: Bawaal<br> Directed by: Nitesh Tiwari <br> Cast: Varun Dhawan, Jhanvi Kapoor<br> Rating: 1/5</b> Fri Jul 21 19:17:46 IST 2023 oppenheimer-review-this-retelling-of-history-is-christopher-nolans-most-intimate-work <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>A movie for true lovers of the art form! In just a few words, that is what Christopher Nolan's <i>Oppenheimer </i>is.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Ever since his breakout movie <i>Memento</i>, Nolan has been pushing the cinematic envelope, exploring different genres, themes and philosophical ideas. From psychological thrillers, superhero flicks, and science fiction cinema to a war movie, the maverick director has crafted a great line of vastly different movies. With the possible exception of <i>Dunkirk</i>, it wouldn't be all wrong to say that Nolan's works have a fascination for the abstract; and when it comes to retelling the story of a genius scientist, <a href="">known as the 'father of the atomic bomb'</a>, he gets to combine his love for the abstract with a documentary-isque storytelling. Abstract because you are delving into the mind of a great scientist who grapples with questions that are far too complex, even as we relate with his struggles and deep regrets.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Based on the biography of the scientist, <i>American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer, </i>by Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin, the three-hour-long film follows Oppenheimer through his student days, years as a professor when he dabbles with communism without being a card-carrying member of of the party, to heading the Manhattan Project, his hearing for security clearance which made the genius scientist look like a traitor, and its fallout in the life of the man who orchestrated the public disgrace of Oppenheimer—Lewis Strauss.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><i>Oppenheimer </i>begins with the confirmation hearing by the Senate of Admiral Lewis Strauss for the appointment as secretary of commerce. The movie then goes back and forth to the hearing to revoke the security clearance of Oppenheimer who was chairing the General Advisory Committee of the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) in 1953 and various incidents in the scientist's eventful life. You are introduced to a brilliant young Oppenheimer who is fighting his own set of demons—a genius theorist, he is clumsy in the lab, and a bit awkward and homesick—his attempt to poison a professor, his meeting with the great Niels Bohr, and his eventual recruitment to head the Manhattan Project and the events that follow.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Oppenheimer was a man who walked different worlds; he was a left sympathiser at one point, but became critical of the party later in his life. He was a man of who it was said, 'he couldn't run a hamburger stand' but brought the best of scientific minds together to run the most secretive facility in America, the laboratory that designed and fabricated the first atomic bombs for the Manhattan Project in Los Alamos. He could read Sanskrit, learn a new language, and give a talk in the same in six weeks. Nolan brings in all these shades of the great polymath to present you a complex, yet relatable man; someone who could be brilliant and naive at the same time. It is an unassuming portrait of a man who probably couldn't comprehend his own greatness.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Arguably Nolan's best work in terms of detailing, visual grandeur, and philosophical leanings, the director does not intend to tell you how you should feel about the invention of a weapon of mass destruction and the man behind it. He merely faithfully, and most elegantly, chronicles the events and people that led you to the same, and lets you draw conclusions. This is evident in the way scientists celebrate the bomb after the 'Trinity' test—they were celebrating a scientific innovation and not a weapon of mass destruction, and 'Oppie' was all for it. But when it is time to celebrate the bombings, Oppenheimer hesitates. He is wracked by guilt although he manages to put up a show. It is hard to watch the scenes of celebration when Oppenheimer sees the audience as victims of the bomb, but at no point the director makes you feel that the scientist(s) behind the weapon of mass destruction have it in them to direct the same to their fellow humans. They are scientists, they invent things, they are neutral, but the consequences of their inventions do haunt them.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Nolan has claimed that there is hardly any CGI in <i>Oppenheimer</i>, and if that is indeed the case, the recreation of the 'Trinity' test is certainly a path-breaking cinematic achievement; one that could perhaps rival the 1968 movie, <i>2001: A Space Odyssey</i>, by the great Stanley Kubrick. The director chooses three distinct settings for most of the actions in <i>Oppenheimer</i> to unfold—there is the black-and-white Senate hearing of Strauss with mostly indifferent and unnamed characters; there is the vast, hostile desert terrain of Los Alamos which is unmindful of the destruction and devastation the men who decide to inhabit are planning to bring to the world; and then there is the intimate, claustrophobic, shabby room chosen for the security clearance hearing where a once revered scientist is humiliated in every way possible.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><i>Oppenheimer</i> is a performance-heavy movie, and the great line up of actors—some of them like Casey Affleck, Rami Malek, and Gary Oldman get barely a few minutes of the screen time—deliver some of the most fantastic performances you may see in recent times. Cillian Murphy lives and breathes his character as he embodies the physical, psychological, and emotional transformations of Oppenheimer. As you journey on with the man, you see the fumbling (the initial encounter with Bohr, played by the great Kenneth Branagh, is endearing to watch) clumsy youngster transform into a brilliant administrator and 'performer' only to fall into despair and melancholy.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>While Murphy is indeed brilliant, it is Robert Downey Jr. as the vicious, vengeful Strauss who will blow you away. The actor is almost unrecognisable as the aging, intimidating and ambitious politician who is out to destroy Oppenheimer. Emily Blunt as the troubled, alcoholic Kitty Oppenheimer comes up with another great performance. It wouldn't be surprising if the film would have quite a few nominations for the Oscars in the acting front.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The cinematography is breathtaking, particularly the scenes of the atomic test, the long shots of the desert, and the meeting between Albert Einstein and Oppenheimer. While the film is dialogue-heavy, the director chooses to employ silence minutes before the nuclear test, except of course the brilliant background score, and it is indeed some of the finest and tense moments in the movie, although you know the outcome of the test is already out there.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>There are far too many switches between time periods and incidents, some of them in black and white, but the editing is so seamless that you barely notice the transition. The background score by Ludwig Göransson elevates the movie to a whole new level of excellence.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Watching the film, it becomes obvious that Nolan profoundly admires this lanky, chain-smoking scientist, and by the end, you would not be surprised if you, too, leave the theatre with great respect for this enigma of a man. <i>Oppenheimer</i> calls for repeated watching, and unlike <i>Inception </i>or <i>Interstellar</i>, it is not because the concept is alien or far-fetched; it is because this retelling of history with dozens of important characters who shaped the world as we know it, and events of great historical importance are so tightly packed into this three-hour-long drama that you hardly have time to register some of them.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Movie: Oppenheimer</b></p> <p><b>Directed by: Christopher Nolan</b></p> <p><b>Starring: Cillian Murphy, Emily Blunt, Matt Damon, Robert Downey Jr., Florence Pugh, Josh Hartnett, Casey Affleck, Rami Malek, Kenneth Branagh</b></p> <p><b>Starring: 4.5/5</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Fri Jul 21 17:14:04 IST 2023 valatty-review-this-experimental-film-about-dogs-is-marred-by-plot-cliches <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The Malayalam film <i>Valatty: The Tale of Tails</i> commences with a song, signalling its aim to portray the world of dogs to humans. Debutant director Devan, who also scripted the film, was reportedly seeking to narrate the story from the “perspective of dogs”. Nevertheless, the end result displayed on the screens was an old-fashioned and cliched narrative seen from a typical human perspective, but presented by a plethora of animals on screen.</p> <p>World cinema has seen numerous attempts to feature anthropomorphic animals; Wes Anderson's stop-motion animated comedy, <i>Fantastic Mr Fox,</i> is one of the personal favourites of this writer. However, when it comes to this genre in Malayalam cinema, there are not many films to boast about, though certain elements can be seen in movies like <i>CID Moosa.</i> In this context, <i>Valatty </i>stands out as a unique attempt. The film, however, does not truly transport a viewer to a &quot;dog's world&quot; as promised by the makers.</p> <p>It seemed like the makers initially scripted a conventional and cliched romance story centered around a Tamil Brahmin girl named Amalu and a Catholic boy named Tommy. Later, they substituted the human characters with dogs. However, there was no genuine effort to contemplate or understand the true nature of dogs and convey it effectively using a human language system. The film's concept held promise, considering the pressing issue of stray dog menace in Kerala. However, a highly predictable storyline and weak dialogues hamper the film.</p> <p>In <i>Valatty</i>, Tomy (voiced by Roshan Mathew) and Amalu (Raveena Ravi) are a golden retriever and cocker spaniel, respectively. Their cross-breed and &quot;inter-religious&quot; romance lead to concerns of &quot;shame&quot; being brought upon their respective foster families, prompting them to decide to elope. During their journey, they encounter a <i>naadan </i>(indie) dog named Karidas (Soubin Shahir) and a rottweiler named Bruno (Sunny Wayne), and find themselves entangled in a significant problem created by some evil humans.</p> <p>The human-animal conflict itself lies at the core of the film. However, the film marks a division between “good humans” and “bad humans”, and makes it a fight between dogs and bad humans—so that these animals could break from the clutches of bad humans to be under the submission of good humans!</p> <p>Getting the right expressions and actions from animals to narrate a story is no simple task. The filmmaker, however, managed to achieve a commendable outcome from the dogs. Had the film lived up to its promise of being a &quot;grippy and peppy&quot; tale, as suggested by its posters, <i>Valatty </i>could have offered a completely different and more engaging experience.</p> <p>With only a few exceptions, the cinematography in<i> Valatty </i>appeared unimpressive. Considering the film's unique perspective of giving a voice to the canines, there was a real opportunity to explore imaginative and innovative cinematography techniques. However, the cinematography department's contribution to the film's narrative remained rather minimal. On a brighter note, Varun Sunil's work in the music department was decent.</p> <p>As a viewer, <i>Valatty </i>personally left this writer feeling disappointed. Nevertheless, it must be acknowledged that it was a one-of-a-kind experiment in Malayalam cinema, and Friday Film House deserves appreciation for its commitment to catering to such experiments in the industry.</p> <p><b>Movie: Valatty</b></p> <p><b>Director: Devan</b></p> <p><b>Voice Cast: Roshan Mathew, Raveena Ravi, Sunny Wayne, Soubin Shahir</b></p> <p><b>Rating: 2/5</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Fri Jul 21 17:13:59 IST 2023 kohrra-review-not-just-a-murder-mystery-deeply-reads-into-punjab-and-its-culture <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>At first, it seems like a typical story of a Punjabi-Sikh NRI who returns to his Pind to get married to a desi Punjabi girl in an arranged setup. But as Kohrra unravels, it goes much deeper in addressing unresolved conflicts, and mysteries.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Paul Dhillon has got engaged to his fiancé but when his body is found in the fields with a slit throat and smashed head, a gruesome murder is established and an intense investigation begins. The twist comes when his British friend Liam too goes missing at the same time. When the cops find his fiance and her ex met on the night of the murder, they immediately suspect his involvement. However, when several questions are left unanswered, a deeper investigation follows and with each new suspect, a missing part of the puzzle is pieced together.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>On the surface, Kohrra is a murder mystery that unfogs a gruesome murder, but, a deeper reading suggests that the Randeep Jha directorial addresses several unresolved conflicts that root out of the geography where the story is placed at.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The story is deeply entangled with Punjab and its problems - the drug abuse, the obsession with going abroad, the NRI tags and the foreign-sounding names, the property disputes, family politics, shame related to sexuality and the male ego and patriarchy.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In the six-part series, Steve Dhillon is a British Indian who is back to Punjab to find a match for his son Paul Dhillon - the Western names, a mark of the NRI pride that the patriarch carries. A flashback shows him abusing his son for not being manly enough and turning a blind eye to his son's sexuality - he's a gay, in a relationship with his childhood best friend Liam.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>While Steve's brother Manna, played by Varun Badola, is a man of the pind who is close to his roots and his brother's distant feelings bother him. His love for his brother's son Paul, however, makes his own son feel ignored which leads him to take a drastic step.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The layered structure of the series brings forth stories of many broken relationships and unaddressed traumas - the investigating cop Balbir carries the guilt of his wife's death and this, pressurises his daughter Nimrat to marry and settle in an uncomfortable alliance - when she rebels and goes back to her lover, his ego leads him to brutally suppress her.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Garundi (Barun Sobti) is in an illicit relationship with his sister-in-law and his brother seemingly knows about the affair.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The greatest crime mysteries are not the ones that portray a spectacular crime story but the ones that delve deeper into the psyches, geographical impact and intertwine stories to unresolve the conflict, which is what Kohrra does.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Helmed by Clean Slate Filmz headed by Anushka and Karnesh Sharma, that has also brought own masterpieces like Bulbbul and Qala, Kohrra becomes another added feather to their hat.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The series shocks and stuns and ends up being a local narration of crime and punishment and the eventual resolution.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Series:</b>&nbsp;Kohrra on Netflix&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Language:</b>&nbsp;Hindi</p> <p><b>Director:&nbsp;</b>Randeep Jha&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Cast:</b>&nbsp;Barun Sobti, Savinderpal Vicky, Harleen Sethi&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Rating:</b>&nbsp;3.5/5</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Sat Jul 15 19:15:05 IST 2023 the-trial-review-kajols-legal-drama-lacks-the-punch <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>An adaptation of American series <i>The Good Wife</i>, Suparn Verma's eight-episode legal drama, <i>The Trial,</i> is currently streaming on Disney+Hotstar, with each episode running for a duration of 35-40 minutes each. The show stars Kajol as lawyer Noyonika Sengupta who returns to the courtroom after her high profile lawyer husband Rajiv (Jisshu Sengupta) goes behind the bars for demanding sexual favours.</p> <p>She sets out to tackle life at its worst which involves facing the society’s backlash alongside rebuilding her career and taking care of her kids. The storyline is aptly summed by the three words in the show's tagline— 'Pyaar, Kanoon, Dhoka' [love, law betrayal].</p> <p>With her husband's sex tapes going viral, the family is forced to bid goodbye to their big home and lavish lifestyle. Unable to join several law firms due to the controversy, Noyonika is forced to join as an intern under her former lover Vishal (Alyy Khan) at his law firm and start her career from scratch. While paving her way through the mess created by her husband, she also has to try and outperform her companion lawyer Dheeraj (Gaurav Pandey) for a permanent position in the firm.</p> <p>With a rather mundane storyline and script, <i>The Trial</i> does not bring anything exceptional to the viewer. The only engaging points of the show are clearly the ones that portray family and work dynamics.</p> <p>The actors playing Noyonika's teenage daughters delivered an exceptional performance where they conveyed the vision of two girls deeply affected by their father’s illegal affairs. Having to grow up way sooner than the rest of their companions, their reaction while witnessing scandalous posts involving their family was something that made the viewers emotionally invested in the show. Kajol, too, does justice to her character who balances family and work and delivers a consistent performance. Kubbra Sait who is also a lawyer working at the same firm managed to play a calm and composed character who was an earnest companion to Noyonika throughout the show.</p> <p>The story has been portrayed strictly through a female gaze making Noyonika the centre of influence in the show. The show is based around her point of view and approach towards the turmoil around her. <i>The Trial</i> manages to become a decently engaging watch and ends on a cliffhanger making the audience hope for a season 2.</p> <p><b>Series: The Trial</b></p> <p><b>Directed by: Suparn Verma</b></p> <p><b>Cast: Kajol, Jisshu Sengupta, Kubbra Sait, Alyy Khan, Sheeba Chaddha</b></p> <p><b>Language: Hindi</b></p> <p><b>Streaming on: Disney plus Hotstar<br> </b><br> </p> Sat Jul 15 10:04:07 IST 2023 maaveeran-review-sivakarthikeyan-shines-in-a-film-that-offers-plenty-of-laughs <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Two days ago, during a press conference, Kollywood actor Sivakarthikeyan, fondly known as SK, was all praise for director Madonne Ashwin. The actor told the media how the director had made his previous movie, <i>Mandela,&nbsp;</i>a political satire, to tell the story of simple people. SK might have chosen to work with Ashwin based on the success of Mandela, and <i>Maaveeran </i>is a mix of entertainment and messages on social responsibility.<br> <br> <i>Maaveeran </i>opens with artist Sathya (Sivakarthikeyan) drawing a comic strip series on the story of a brave warrior who saves a princess from inside a crumbling fortress. Maaveeran is the story of Sathya, a timid young man from a lower middle-class family who wants to spend his life for his mother and younger sister. One day the local politicians representing the government ask the slum-dwellers, where the hero lives, to move to a nearby tenement. When his mother (Saritha) protests, the hero asks her to “adjust” to the situation. When his mother asks him to fight against social evil, Sathya chooses to be silent and her to do the same. The new tenement they move into is poorly built with cracks on the wall and paint peeling off. <br> <br> What does Sathya do to rectify this? Does he fight for his people or remain a coward forms the rest of the story. Sivakarthikeyan shines in the fantasy film filled with fun and laughter for over one hour. It is interesting to watch Sivakarthikeyan playing a coward. The screenplay is brilliant with social commentary that comes in the form of humorous one-liners. It is a complete laugh riot when Sivakarthikeyan and Yogi Babu come on the screen together. Yogi Babu plays Kumar, a construction worker hired to do patchwork in the government tenement. The action sequences are unique with elements of fantasy.</p> <p> <br> Vijay Sethupathi's voice-over is master class. Director Mysskin shines as a politician. Adithi Shankar as a sub-editor of a daily newspaper has a very small role to play.<br> <br> However, the movie gets boring towards the end, making the audience tired of watching a coward. <br> <br> <b>Director: Madonne Ashwin</b></p> <p><b>Cast and crew: Siva Karthikeyan, Adithi Shankar, Yogi Babu, Saritha, Mysskin</b></p> <p><b>Rating: 3/5</b></p> Fri Jul 14 19:28:10 IST 2023 bird-box-barcelona-review-a-not-so-intriguing-spin-off <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> Time and again, Hollywood has proven how instincts such as fear and survival can be channeled into a highly entertaining genre of films. The 2018, Sandra Bullock starrer Bird Box was no different. Set in a post-apocalyptic world, it saw the protagonist fighting for survival, amidst unseen supernatural entities who create suicidal tendencies in anyone who look at them. The blindfolded characters and thriller elements quickly led it to become one of the most streamed movies on Netflix. <br> <br> Five years later, directors David Pastor and Àlex Pastor make a feeble attempt to recreate the atmosphere of the original through Bird Box Barcelona. The film, released on Netflix, is a spin-off set in a parallel world in Spain. The characters and environment are new but the central plot remains the same — you see it, you die.<br> <br> The movie opens with a shot of Sebastian and his daughter Anna in the now half-wrecked city of Barcelona. Though Sebastian seems like just another survivor, we learn early on how he is different from Bullock’s Malorie. Unlike what we already know, not all victims of the creatures perish themselves. Instead, some turn into seers who live on, but drive other survivors to their peril, believing it’s a form of salvation. Having lost both his wife and daughter, Sebastian too has become a seer who longs to be reunited with his family. A grief-stricken Sebastian is accompanied by visions of Anna who leads him through his way. He then joins a group of survivors and promises to take them to a safe place while slowly taking each of their lives. But during the journey, he has some realizations which lead him to the question — is he the shepherd or the wolf?<br> <br> Mario Casas and Alejandra Howard have portrayed well the emotional bond between Sebastian and Anna. The psychological conditions of the survivors are also showcased through the notable performances of Georgina Campbell and Naila Schuberth. Despite the great performances and cinematography, the movie, however, fails to convey the horror element effectively. As the main character’s motives are revealed in the beginning itself there is no element of suspense left. There is an array of characters from different backgrounds but not all of their stories are explored well, leading to an emotional disconnect with the audience.<br> <br> A major theme that the movie touches upon is how an apocalypse can change humankind. In the war for survival, it is every man for himself. As Georgina Campbell’s Claire says, “One thing more terrifying than darkness is not knowing who you can trust.” The movie also explores the themes of faith and beliefs. <br> <br> Bird Box Barcelona may not be the most intriguing thriller out there, but it does have its moments, making it a 'one time' watch. The climax does spark some curiosity and gives an impression that the story is not yet done and leaves us with the question — what next? <br> <br> <b>Film: Bird Box Barcelona <br> <br> Language: Spanish<br> <br> Streaming on: Netflix<br> <br> Directors: David Pastor, Àlex Pastor<br> <br> Cast: Mario Casas, Naila Schuberth, Georgina Campbell, Diego Calva</b> Fri Jul 14 18:03:48 IST 2023 mission-impossible-dead-reckoning-part-one-review-tom-cruise-takes-on-a-futuristic-enemy <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>For close to three decades, the <i>Mission Impossible</i> franchise has struck a chord with the audience with its mastery over the action-thriller genre. With every new movie comes a certain level of expectation that brews within the audience as Ethan Hunt and his team engage in daring fights against all odds. Six movies (and a lot more reality-defying stunts) later some may wonder if the franchise can further rise up to the expectations.</p> <p>Yet, <i>Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning Part One </i>is all that you expect it to be and more— an action-packed thriller that makes even the deadliest of stunts seem possible. Tom Cruise once again cruises his way back to the hearts of the fans as Hunt in the seventh installment of the franchise directed by Christopher McQuarrie.</p> <p>This time around the villain, too, has evolved with time. When Entity, an out of control, powerful AI experiment poses a threat to the world's high and mighty, it is up to Hunt to put a stop to it. The stakes are higher as every global power is in a race to weaponise it. The solution to the problem lies within a key and Hunt and his trusted allies—Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg) and Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames)—embark on a mission to retrieve it. But their plans are disrupted when Grace (Hayley Atwell), a quick and stealthy thief comes into play. What follows next, in classic <i>Mission Impossible</i> style, is a series of chases and stunts. New characters join the run while some old faces return.</p> <p>Needless to say, what holds the movie together is undoubtedly its action sequences. Cruise is irreplaceable as Hunt, with his natural charisma and dedication. He has once again proven that age is not a barrier when it comes to his infamous stunt scenes. Set against the scenic backdrop of the Alps, the climax sequence is sure to leave the audience in awe. Atwell also displays a commendable performance with the right amount of vigour and energy needed to match the film’s overall pace. The duo together establish a wonderful dynamic.</p> <p>While the movie scored with the action, there were instances where it did not. With a runtime of nearly 163 minutes, it is quite a challenging task to keep the audience engaged. The movie lagged at times due to overuse of expositions and some character arcs were almost predictable. The main villain is a stateless and moral enemy but Esai Morales’s Gabriel brings in the villainous element to the plot. But there are many questions unanswered as to how the character returned and his encounter with the Entity. These we can only hope to be answered in Part Two.</p> <p>Setting aside its shortcomings, if you are here solely for the action and thrill of it, then <i>Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning Part One </i>is indeed a must watch. The audio-visual experience that the movie offers is fitting of a big screen viewing. The movie perfectly sums up the essence of all its predecessors. To quote from the movie, 'the key is only the beginning', and once again it is time for another round of wait and speculation until Part Two next year.</p> <p><b>Movie: Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning Part One</b></p> <p><b>Director: Christopher McQuarrie</b></p> <p><b>Cast: Tom Cruise, Hayley Atwell, Ving Rhames, Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson, Esai Morales, Vanessa Kirby, Pom Klementieff, Henry Czerny.</b></p> <p><b>Rate: 4/5</b></p> Wed Jul 12 15:24:11 IST 2023 neeyat-review-vidya-balans-murder-mystery-is-a-one-time-watch <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Hardly about half an hour into Neeyat one is instantly reminded of businessman and fugitive Vijay Mallya, who is currently in the UK, busy dodging extradition by Indian authorities. Ram Kapoor's character AK (Ashish Kapoor) is similarly crafted—he is a wealthy Indian businessman who takes refuge in his palatial castle in the UK while facing extradition charges for financial crimes back in India.</p> <p>In the UK he lives in uber luxury, while back home close to 10,000 employees working for him have gone unpaid for months on end and seven of them have committed suicide. One of those seven happen to be Vidya Balan's partner and now he must be be avenged for it. This is the story but it isn't so direct and in your face. Anu Menon, co-writer and director of <i>Four More Shots</i>, <i>Shakuntala Devi </i>has created a multi-layered narrative which has all the ingredients of a mystery thriller and is neatly packaged as a revenge drama that unfolds gradually, thereby keeping the viewer hooked to the film throughout.</p> <p>Set in an isolated castle, <i>Neeyat </i>can also be viewed as an imaginary tale around 'all that would transpire if Mallya was ever to declare himself bankrupt, surrender himself to the authorities...and would he really?'</p> <p>So here is Ashish Kapoor in his majestic mansion abroad, hosting a few of his close ones on his birthday party. Among the attendees is a CBI officer Mira Rao from India who's come over to help him with extradition. Next is his mind reader, his son and the latter's girlfriend, AK's own girlfriend, his brother-in-law, his daughter from his late first wife and close friends. The party begins and what follows is the most uninventive, stereotypical Hindi film trope—the lights go out. That sets the stage for more drama. A cat is killed, soon AK is found to have jumped off a cliff and killed himself, two more deaths follow and an eerie fear surrounds the mansion. 'One among us is the killer,' says someone. Balan's character as Meera Rao decides to investigate and everyone falls in line to her commands. From here the film begins to throw up one twist after the other - is Balan really the CBI cop she claims to be? Did AK really die by suicide or was it all staged? And who is Kay and what is her motive? All these and more questions are answered one by one, as the film moves at a rhythmic pace. Now, if only we had a fast film that moved at a racy pace, we'd have had a winner in <i>Neeyat</i>.</p> <p>Right at the end the film drops a googly - revealing it won't be fair. So go check it out for yourself. <i>Neeyat</i> is a definite one-time watch. Having said that, you will be reminded of multiple films you've watched before—think <i>Knives Out</i>, <i>Kahaani,</i> and more. <i>Neeyat</i> is interesting but could have been made spicier, meatier and gripping with a taut screenplay and carefully sketched out characters. In this film, everyone who's invited over to AK's party, that is all the characters that make up the film, are either frustrated, greedy, infidels, deeply miserable and vengeful. Somehow surprisingly, nobody in the film is a happy soul. As if to declare that all rich people have some deep frustrations and such is the life of the rich! If as an audience, we'd have been served some happy times as well, may be <i>Neeyat </i>could have been worth a second time watch, too.</p> <p><b>Movie: Neeyat</b></p> <p><b>Director: Anu Menon</b></p> <p><b>Cast: Vidya Balan, Ram Kapoor, Amrita Puri, Rahul Bose, Shahana Goswami, Neeraj Kabi, Shashank Arora, Prajakta Koli, Niki Walia, Danesh Razvi, Dipannita Sharma</b></p> <p><b>Rating: 3/5</b></p> Sat Jul 08 17:09:47 IST 2023 tarla-review-the-story-of-indias-first-home-chef-tastes-a-little-uncooked <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Tarla Dalal is a name familiar in every Indian household. One of the earliest chefs before the age of YouTube kicked in and quick recipes became a fashion, she went on to sell about 10 million copies of cookbooks. Conferred with Padma Shri, she would go on to give women wings to cook easy recipes while also encouraging them to dream. Years later, hers is a name that remains strongly etched in minds for being a successful homemaker who cooked her way to her ambition and independence.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>When the Piyush Gupta directorial starring Huma Qureshi as 'Tarla' released, expectations were high and nostalgia gripped families. Curiosity to see what went behind the making of the famous Tarla Dalal piqued and the two-hour film did serve the audience with her honest and humble story.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The film shows Tarla wanting to do something in life but unable to figure out her passion. As she gets married and settles with her husband and three children, years pass by and more than a decade later she realises, she failed to do anything for herself. Gradually, the word of her fine cooking skills spread and she begins tutoring women on their cooking skills. One thing leads to another and she manages to publish her cookbook and sells about 10,000 copies, with the support of her husband who encourages her to pursue her dreams. A breakthrough in her career comes when she lands a TV show with her own name.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>However, trouble in her paradise begins as the societal pressure dawns upon the shoulder of a working independent woman living in the 1970s. Dissuaded by the society for being too supportive of his wife, her husband decides to take a back seat. The more Tarla tastes success, the more distasteful things turn at home. However, good sense dawns upon her husband and he becomes the man behind his woman’s success. The rest is history.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Huma Qureshi’s strong portrayal of the character and Sharib Hashmi’s husband act is a soft treat for the audiences. The film which has an inspirational story to tell, however, could have been elevated several notches by better writing and direction. What serves is a mellowed down recipe with not many layers to unravel but a straight and oversimplified narration.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The film does get its tone right when it comes to portraying an era at least four decades ago. One cannot help but wonder if the excellent and ready-made story at the hands of the filmmakers would have been something else if polished further. There’s a lack, and the final result is that no particular scene or dialogue in the film is worth remembering. Little attention is paid to her iconic recipes that changed the course of home cooking back then and greatly influenced kitchens; rather the focus is on Tarla’s struggles to keep up with her newfound profession and household.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Overall, Tarla serves just fine but misses out on adding some salt and pepper and the final dum!</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Sat Jul 08 17:17:03 IST 2023 blind-review-sonam-kapoor-ahujas-film-is-a-half-baked-crime-thriller <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Director Shome Makhija's <i>Blind</i> is centred around&nbsp;an orphan female cop, Gia Singh, played by Sonam Kapoor Ahuja, living in Glasgow. When her aspiring musician brother dies in an accident and she loses her eye sight and her job, Gia begins to live in guilt with her support dog Elsa.</p> <p>Things take a turn for the worse when Gia accidentally witnesses a kidnapping, making her the villain's (Purab Kohli) next target. Another eyewitness, Nikhil (Shubham Saraf), is also on the kidnapper’s radar. The identity of the criminal is revealed early on and the rest of the film is a cat and mouse chase between Gia and Purab's character. Riddled with the guilt of her brother’s death, Gia sets out on a mission to fight the criminal and save Nikhil.</p> <p>Sonam tries hard to deliver a convincing portrayal of a visually challenged person, but lacks the finesse. Her natural grace often takes over, making it hard for the audience to connect with her as a tough former cop. She fights the criminal in action sequences, yet her poised demeanor makes the fight scenes look like child’s play where the criminal willingly injures himself.</p> <p>Many movies have revolved around serial killers with psychological issues rooted in traumatic childhoods, and their backstories have been explored in depth. However, <i>Blind</i>, that deals with a psychopathic criminal who kidnaps women, just portrays him as such and misses out on his trajectory. The story of Purab's villainous character remains a mystery and the audience is left guessing as to why he conducted the acts of atrocities on women.</p> <p>Though Purab’s character is dangerous and cold, the unsolved mystery around his past weakens the narrative. Other actors who form the supporting cast—Lillete Dubey whose only job is to repeat that god will take care of everything, Vinay Pathak as the Indian cop who only eats and goes after the criminal alone, well aware that he lacks the physical ability to tackle him—are underutilised talents.</p> <p><i>Blind</i>, the Hindi remake of the Korean movie of the same name, rushes through the storyline without giving enough time and space to its characters.</p> <p><b>Film: Blind</b></p> <p><b>Streaming on: Jio Cinema</b></p> <p><b>Language: Hindi</b></p> <p><b>Director: Shome Makhija</b></p> <p><b>Cast: Sonam Kapoor Ahuja, Purab Kohli, Vinay Pathak, Lillete Dubey,&nbsp;Shubham Saraf</b></p> <p><b>Rating: 2/5</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Sat Jul 08 17:12:44 IST 2023 sweet-kaaram-coffee-review-an-entertaining-road-trip <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Three women, three generations, three different stories! They are all underappreciated by the men in their lives, and this is the common factor that binds the three women who undertake an adventurous and heartwarming road trip in producer Reshma Ghatala’s Sweet Kaaram Coffee, an eight-episode Amazon Prime series directed by Bejoy Nambiar, Krishna Marimuthu and Swathi Raghuraaman.<br> <br> Sweet Kaaram Coffee isn’t just another woman-centric series. It is the story of every woman who longs to be heard and acknowledged. The bonding and chemistry between the three protagonists, played by Lakshmi, Madhoo and Santhy Balachandran, is refreshingly beautiful.<br> <br> Sundari is an elderly woman, filled with zest for life. But she is expected to be merely a frail, grieving widow. Kaveri, her daughter-in-law is the ideal housewife—her happiness is expected to be in the happiness of her family, although she is often taken for granted. The youngest of the three, the granddaughter Niveditha, is a talented cricketer, but her boyfriend refuses to acknowledge her career at a crucial point. Exhausted by these acts of subtle patriarchy, the trio yearns for a temporary escape. They then embark on a road trip that becomes a journey of self-discovery and togetherness. <br> <br> Set in a modern, urban background, all three characters are seen grappling with their past. The series takes the audience through multiple flashbacks which help resonate with the characters better. There are many instances that show how patriarchy turns even bold and educated women into mere puppets. In one scene, Kaveri’s husband pretends to be sick in an attempt to bring the women back from their trip. It is amusing to see how a grown man who travels the world all the time transforms into a helpless being the moment he has to take care of himself. While Niveditha’s character speaks of the insecurities faced by the youth, Sundari’s speaks for the ones who long lost their youth. On the course of the trip, which stretches from the South to the North, the women form a special bond that helps them see each other like never before. <br> <br> The interactions and conversations between the characters are very heartwarming, especially, the unconventional bond shared by the mother and the daughter-in-law. Madhoo and Santhy have done justice to their roles as Kaveri and Niveditha. But it is the grace and charm delivered by Lakshmi’s Sundari that pulls the audience. The open-minded, energetic Sundari stands out for her youthful spirit.<br> <br> Though the series begins strongly, it fails to find its footing at times. The introduction of newer characters and subplots seemed mostly unnecessary. The ending does give a feeling of content and sparks a curiosity to know more about their lives. <br> <br> The soulful music for the series deserves special mention.<br> <br> Sweet Kaaram Coffee is a feel-good series that gives you a few things to think about. Though the central issue encountered is one portrayed several times before, the approach taken by the story and characters make it unique. If you are looking for a sweet and simple addition to your watchlist, Sweet Kaaram Coffee checks the box.<br> <br> <b>Show: Sweet Kaaram Coffee</b></p> <p><b>Language: Tamil</b></p> <p><b>Streaming on: Amazon Prime Video</b></p> <p><br> <br> <br> </p> Sat Jul 08 17:22:44 IST 2023 lust-stories-2-review-konkonas-segment-shines-in-this-unexciting-anthology <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> In this anthology of four stories, there emerges just one winner—a powerful segment by Konkona Sen Sharma aided by the brilliant delivery by the lead protagonists Amruta Subhash and Tillotama Shome. There is a nuanced portrayal of the interplay of lust with class, space, and female pleasure and the power dynamic between the two leading ladies keeps the viewer hooked right till the end.<br> <br> It might be unfair to compare the second installment of Lust Stories with its predecessor, given that the stories are all unique in their own way, and told by directors who come with very different sensibilities. Having said that, while you start off with much optimism, the anthology fails to keep you hooked by the time you reach the third one. <br> <br> It all begins with R. Balki's short which tries to drive home the point, that 'sex is important for love.' A wise grandmother (Neena Gupta) advises her young and soon-to-be-married granddaughter Veda (Mrunal Thakur) to test her relationship with Arjun (Angad Bedi) for physical compatibility before committing a lifetime to marriage. Because, after all, she says, sex is the only thing that can salvage a crumbling marriage and be the fire that will keep the spark alive between the two, when everything else flies out the window, including love. If you are sexually compatible, there are higher chances that you will be together in the long run, she reasons. The youngsters take the test and are assured of a 'lifetime of happiness.' Neena Gupta makes an instant connection and the film leaves us with a resonating message: 'Let's talk about pre-marital sex as an essential aspect of compatibility.' However, the screenplay and the chemistry between the different characters on screen simply fail to take the viewer in. <br> <br> Next up is Sen Sharma’s film which stands out from the rest, more so because it places the spotlight on the oft-neglected aspect of female desire seen at a crossroads of class, stature, and space. On the one hand, there is the upwardly mobile, educated and financially independent Isheeta (Tillotama Shome) who is also a loner living by herself in a high-rise, and on the other hand is her maid, Seema (Amruta Subhash) who is married, and lives in a dingy single room, with no space to even make out with her husband without waking her kids up. One afternoon, Isheeta walks in on Seema making out with her husband in Isheta's bedroom. Shocked and stunned, she does not know how to confront her maid and takes time to process what she saw. But the next day again, and the day after that and for a couple of days, she walks stealthily into the house at the same time and finds herself reveling in a certain voyeuristic pleasure from watching them in the act. Shome, with her balanced, composed, and unhurried performance and Subhash too, with an air of assuredness about her, shine in this powerful narrative that explores female sexuality. <br> <br> Next is Sujoy Ghosh's segment helmed by a versatile actor Vijay Varma; the backdrop is interesting because it is different and all the paraphernalia resemble props on a stage. The problem is the story fails to take off and looks just as disconnected. Varma plays a man named Vijay who encounters Shanti (Tamannaah Bhatia), his ex-wife who disappeared ten years ago. What follows seems like a hotchpotch of a plot that fails to keep the viewers engaged. <br> <br> The last segment in the anthology has Chanda (Kajol), a prostitute who marries a royal but continues to love a sad, suffocating life. She silently suffers through her drunkard husband's wayward ways and lust only to fulfill her dream of sending her teenage son abroad for higher studies. In order to exact revenge on her husband (Kumud Mishra) who mistreats her and abuses her physically and sexually, she hires a maid with HIV, to get him to lust on her and eventually be afflicted by the virus. Tragically, however, she falls prey to her own plot when instead of the abusive husband, it is her son who ends up making out with the maid. The climax is moving; it hits the viewer straight in the gut and leaves you thinking about the irony of it all, long after the film is over. Yet, the punch is felt only towards the end of the film; it is a drag for a good thirty minutes.<br> <br> The sad part is, that except for one or two at the most, the directors have failed to come up with some genuinely different and unusual stories. Why can't we have real stories that linger in our minds long after the films are over? Except for the Konkona sen segment, none in Lust Stories 2 is impactful.&nbsp; Thu Jun 29 20:49:11 IST 2023 maamannan-review-mari-selvarajs-take-on-social-justice-and-discrimination-lacks-punch <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>On August 15, 2022, when the entire country was celebrating 75 years of Independence, a Dalit panchayat president at Senthakuddi village in Pudukkottai of Tamil Nadu broke down in tears soon after hoisting the <br> national flag. Though he has been the panchayat president for the past two years, it was the first time he was allowed to hoist the flag, after continuous reprisals against caste-based oppression. One of the woman panchayat presidents had even written to the deputy superintendent of police saying she wasn’t allowed to hoist the flag by the dominant community members in the village. <br> <br> Not just hoisting the national flag, in most panchayats the Dalit presidents do not even have a chair to sit on. Imagine if a MLA faces the same disrespect as these panchayat presidents. In <i>Maamannan</i>, director Mari Selvaraj tells us what this disrespect means, how a chair to sit is denied to many, particularly those from the oppressed community. <br> <br> Set in a town near Salem in West Tamil Nadu, <i>Maamannan </i>opens with the hero Adhi Veeran, played by Udhayanidhi Stalin rearing pigs in his farm. His father Maamannan, played by Vadivelu is a MLA who preaches equality and tells each of his visitors to sit in front of him. But when he is denied basic courtesy by those who elected him, Veeran gets furious.<br> <br> While <i>Maamannan </i>talks about societal oppression and explores assertion at many levels it doesn’t rage with fury like <i>Pariyerum Perumal</i> or <i>Karnan</i>. Mari’s <i>Pariyerum Perumal</i> was instrumental in bringing a new thrust to the Dalit movement in Tamil Nadu. His second film <i>Karnan</i>, starring Dhanush talked about the deeply entrenched power dynamics in the society and the quest for justice and social equality. Compared to <i>Pariyerum Perumal</i> and <i>Karnan</i>, the screenplay of <i>Maamannan </i>is very slow as the story gets into an election mode. It feels like the director himself is tired of telling the stories of oppression. The character introduction scenes, be it Leela or Rathnavel or even Maamannan are also very slow, plain, and hardly enthusiastic. Even the flashback story of the problem between Maamannan and Adhi Veeran, told in black and white, is barely gripping.<br> <br> Like his earlier films, <i>Maamannan </i>too has striking metaphors—the dogs and pigs—leaving the audience suffering an overwhelmed silence. While Vadivelu, as a MLA and as the father of a Dalit youth who fights oppression has delivered his best, the director has not used the extraordinary talents of Fahadh Faasil. As a man who rears dogs and sets them out to attack those who oppose him, Fahadh Faasil's Rathnavel ends up being just an ordinary villain in a political drama. Keerthy Suresh as Leela doesn't have much to do except to hang around the hero as he fights societal discrimination. <br> <br> The first half has a gripping screenplay, while the second half ends up being just another political drama with an election, campaign and voting. A.R. Rahman’s background music is top-notch as it expresses the anger and pain within a man who is oppressed by societal norms.<br> <br> If <i>Pariyerum Perumal</i> is the story of the struggles of a Dalit youth who is confronted with hostilities in his college and <i>Karnan </i>a surrealistic representation of the Kodiyankulam massacre in Tamil Nadu in 1995, <i>Maamannan </i>reminds me of the incident of Jayalalithaa choosing a man from the Arunthathiyar community from a constituency near Salem in west Tamil Nadu as the speaker to send out a message to everyone about social justice and equality. But the problem is that the director fits the story of a MLA from the opposition party into a film that has all the symbols of the ruling DMK, which Udhayanidhi Stalin too is part of.<br> <br> <b>Film: Maamannan&nbsp;</b></p> <p><b>Cast: Udhayanidhi Stalin, Vadivelu, Fahad Fasil, Keerthy Suresh</b></p> <p><b>Director: Mari Selvaraj</b></p> <p><b>Rating: 2.5/5</b></p> Thu Jun 29 20:12:58 IST 2023 satyaprem-ki-katha-review-this-kartik-aaryan-starrer-oversimplifies-a-serious-issue <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Satyaprem (Kartik Aaryan), who hails from a humble background, desperately wants to get married despite having no career. His eyes are set on Katha (Kiara Advani), a girl way out of his league, who belongs to a wealthy family. After a breakup and a suicide attempt that followed, she is under pressure to get married to ‘save the face of the family’. <br> <br> His father is convinced that a naive and unemployed son-in-law would be a great fit for his ‘spoiled’ daughter and so arranges a match and gives his business, a snacks and savories showroom, as dowry to Satyaprem. <br> <br> The first half of the film comfortably nestles in its romantic comedy genre with the audience in the dark as to where the film is headed. As the film progresses, the romantic comedy genre takes a backseat, and a serious tone, a pressing issue, sets in. Satyaprem finds out that Katha was raped by her former boyfriend and had to undergo an abortion. Her family, unaware of the rape, accuses her of being ‘morally loose’ and forces her into marriage to save themselves the 'embarrassment'. <br> <br> Suffering from trauma, Katha finds herself unable to consummate her marriage as memories of her assault come rushing back every time she comes physically close to her husband.<br> <br> It is then that her husband grows a conscience and decides to become the hero of her life – the same husband who never cared to be financially independent or did not hesitate to say no to dowry. <br> <br> The partly problematic film that tries hard to be an entertainer even as it preaches righteousness ends up oversimplifying a serious issue and masking it while ending up neither here nor there. <br> <br> Kiara Advani and Kartik Aaryan’s chemistry reflects well on screen and Gajraj Rao as Aaryan’s father remains in his element. However, his portrayal comes off as another problem factor as in the first half; he provokes his son to go after the girl and charm her. However, when he learns about the rape, he worries about his reputation and blames the girl’s family for hiding the fact. Supriya Pathak Kapur is yet again at her Gujarati best as she portrays an overbearing matriarch who supports her daughter-in-law. <br> <br> The film could have elevated its plot by avoiding the dramatisation, simplification and Bollywoodification of a sensitive topic. Perhaps its National Award-winning director Sameer Vidwans (whose Anandi Gopal won a National Award for best feature film on social issues) wanted to highlight another important issue of the high number of unreported rape cases in India. <br> <br> Film: Satyaprem Ki Katha</p> <p><br> Director: Sai Kabir</p> <p><br> Cast: Kartik Aaryan, Kiara Advani</p> <p><br> Rating: 3/5<br> <br> </p> Thu Jun 29 18:56:01 IST 2023 kerala-crime-files-review-a-realistic-police-procedural <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Disney+Hotstar's first Malayalam series <i>Kerala Crime Files</i>, directed by Ahammed Khabeer, started streaming on Friday. The series stars Aju Varghese, Lal, Zhinz Shan, Navas and Sanju Sanichen in key roles. With six episodes, each spanning 30 minutes, the show follows six days of a crime investigation.</p> <p>Set in the city of Kochi, the series revolves around the murder of a female sex worker who was found dead in a lodge room. Though initially the murder seemed like a case that would be solved quickly, it turned out to be quite the opposite for the dedicated police team. Left with dead-ends and the only sign leading to the suspect being a fake address, the probe team is faced with a major challenge.</p> <p><i>Kerala Crime Files </i>does not just stick to investigation or details of the crime; the show also tries to deviate from the work lives of policemen by giving us glimpses into their family lives. This not only helps the viewer develop a connection with the characters, but also brings in elements that do not restrict the show to the heaviness of a police procedural.</p> <p>A policeman’s unattainable work-life balance has been projected well by shining a light on the internal struggles of cops who are often unable to set aside quality time for loved ones. At the end of the show, we are left with no option but to empathise with the police.</p> <p>We become one with these characters, feeling the urge to unravel the motive behind the murder. Although there are moments that leave the viewer frustrated, the thrill is kept alive throughout. The director has kept the crime drama realistic with each character having his or her own fulfilling moments, accompanied by flaws.</p> <p>While every actor does justice to the characters, the five policemen stand out with their performances. Actor Aju Varghese, know for his comedy roles, surprises us with his portrayal of a diligent sub-inspector who is soft yet serious. While Lal and Shan deliver compelling performances, Navas and Sanju bring humour to the table.</p> <p>Despite a straightforward plot, <i>Kerala Crime Files</i> manages to keep the viewer hooked.</p> <p><b>Show: Kerala Crime Files</b></p> <p><b>Language: Malayalam</b></p> <p><b>Streaming on: Disney plus Hotstar</b></p> <p><b>Rating: 3.5/5</b></p> Sat Jun 24 14:14:01 IST 2023 tiku-weds-sheru-review-a-humourless-inconsistent-rom-com <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>When Kangana Ranaut announced her production,&nbsp;Tiku Weds Sheru,&nbsp;with Nawazuddin Siddiqui and newcomer Avneet Kaur in the lead, hopes were high – not only because the casting of Siddiqui promised certain quality but also because Kaur brought along both freshness and relatability owing to her TV roles as a child actor. The actors do justice to their roles in the movie, directed by Sai Kabir – Siddiqui shines as a romantic hero and Kaur excels in her debut role and displays a maturity much beyond her age.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Kaur plays a young girl, Tiku, who gets married to Siddiqui's Sheru, hoping to move out of her conservative home and travel to Mumbai to pursue her dreams of being an actor. However, her life falls apart when she discovers what her husband really is, and his financial situation. She matures overnight and even agrees to compromise to fulfill her dreams.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Though the actors do a good job, the inconsistent screenplay is a letdown as it fluctuates between being too dark, at times romantic, and sometimes just uncomfortable to watch, and mostly fast-paced. As soon as they get married, Tiku realises she is pregnant with her former boyfriend’s child. Sheru seems upset with this but doesn’t take too much time to accept the child as his own. At times, Sheru is struggling for work, and in the next scene, he is seen making a fast buck and partying hard. And, in yet another scene, you see him ending up in jail.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>A new mother and a very naive Tiku is then forced into prostitution and pushed out of her own house. In the end, like most romantic comedies, this film too wraps up with Sheru coming to rescue Tiku and they living together happily ever after. The overall theme of the film feels like an attempt to put together a third instalment of the critically acclaimed and commercially successful Tanu Weds Manu.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The most uncomfortable part of the film remains the much talked about age gap between the actors – Siddiqui is 49 and Kaur, 21. Even if we overlook the age factor in love as Jagjit Singh infamously sings ‘Na umar ki seema ho, na janmon ka ho bandhan. Jab pyaar kare koi, toh dekhe keval man’, one cannot get over how young Kaur looks – in most frames, she appears more like a teenager living with a grey-haired man lusting over her. Something in your gut churns when they kiss or when they lay on the bed together.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Kangana Ranaut should have perhaps played the role herself – a pairing of Kangana and Siddiqui would have been an unmissable delight. At the most, the film makes for a one-time watch that might strike you a number of times with its missing humour and shadiness.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Film: Tiku Weds Sheru on Amazon Prime Video</b></p> <p><b>Language: Hindi</b></p> <p><b>Director: Sai Kabir</b></p> <p><b>Cast: Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Avneet Kaur</b></p> <p><b>Rating: 2.5/5</b></p> Fri Jun 23 19:54:37 IST 2023 elemental-review-a-memorable-movie-with-some-important-takeaways <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Produced by Disney and Pixar, Elemental, directed by Peter Sohn and featuring voices of Leah Lewis, Mamoudou Athie, Ronnie Del Carmen, Shila Ommi, Wendi McLendon-Covey, is a beautifully animated movie that talks about chasing your dreams, facing your fears and finding love.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Ember (the voice of Leah Lewis) helps her father, Bernie (Ronnie del Carmen), run a small store in the 'fire' neighbourhood. Her parents, after moving away from their family, came to Element City in search of a better life. After facing discrimination in a lot of places, they finally find an abandoned building which Bernie repairs with Cinder’s (Ember’s mother) help. Ember considers it her mission to take over the shop from Bernie and let him retire as he is growing old. Along comes Wade (Mamoudou Athie), an inspector from the city who finds that Bernie built the shop without permits and writes them up. Ember embarks on a journey to save their shop with the help of Wade.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The movie discusses several relevant topics, including discrimination and xenophobia still prevalent in society. For instance, because of the discrimination that the fire beings face in Element City as the place favours other three elements— water, earth and wind— Bernie and a heavily pregnant Cinder are unable to find accommodation.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The film also shows two elements, who are not supposed to be mixed, falling in love and striving to make a life together even as they manage their emotions and outbursts.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The animation, showing the interactions of various elements, is spectacular, inviting the viewers to explore each scene and what it portrays—from the reflection of the light to the burning of fire and the vibrant colours of the rainbow. Along with the stunning visuals, the exceptional soundtrack makes the movie all the more enjoyable.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The jokes are funny, and the movie doesn’t shy away from exploring pun-based humour, especially those involving the elements; but these don't end up becoming cringe.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The interactions between each of the elements and what they can do is also explored in the film, with airships filled with air, fire molding and creating glass, water people being able to take any shape and the earth people “pruning” each other.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Not far from some of these studios’ best work, Elemental with a slightly cliched but fun story, good message, and incredible animation is certainly a memorable film that can be rewatched multiple times, in any setting, be it with family, a date or while taking a break, and may even become a part of your child’s ‘childhood.’</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Movie: Elemental</b></p> <p><b>Director: Peter Sohn</b></p> <p><b>Cast: Leah Lewis, Mamoudou Athie, Ronnie Del Carmen, Shila Ommi, Wendi McLendon-Covey</b></p> <p><b>Rating: 4/5 stars</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Fri Jun 23 18:24:22 IST 2023 dhoomam-review-fahadh-faasils-thriller-falls-flat-but-delivers-message <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Director Pawan Kumar's <i>Dhoomam</i> delves deep into the world of marketing games played by corporate tycoons who blindly focus on the profits, without a care for the potential impact on consumers. With an anti-tobacco message merged into a thriller plot, the Fahadh Faasil-starrer can be an engaging watch for youngsters—the target audience for most marketing campaigns these days.</p> <p>Avinash (Fahadh Faasil) plays the marketing head of a tobacco company run by Sid, played by Roshan Mathew. Avinash, the man behind the company’s tremendous success and increased sales, is caught off guard when one day he finds himself and his wife Diya (Aparna Balamurali) in a life-threatening trap.</p> <p>Aparna, who teams up with Fahadh after <i>Maheshinte Prathikaram</i>, does not have a major role to play in the early scenes of the film, but tables turn around when<i> Dhoomam</i> puts the female protagonist in the spotlight later. A bomb is planted inside Diya's body and she is forced to keep smoking to stay alive. Adi, in the grip of the very demon he once helped create, is clueless about who is behind this situation. Is it the company he worked for, or their market competitors? The struggle to break out of this trap, while his pregnant wife keeps smoking for survival, forms the next half of the film. Fahadh delivers a top-notch performance. Aparna, and Roshan, too, do their parts well.</p> <p>With unexpected twists and turns, <i>Dhoomam</i> takes off well, but the emotional backstory ruins the thriller mood, giving it a more melodramatic feel post-interval. Poornachandra Tejaswi’s songs were aptly positioned, be it during nail-biting moments or touching scenes.</p> <p>Though there was stimulated tension till the climax, the film fails to bring closure. <i>Dhoomam</i><b> </b>leaves the audience with an abrupt ending and several unanswered questions. Kumar's film did not live up to the hype promised by the intriguing trailer.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Film: Dhoomam</b></p> <p><b>Director: Pawan Kumar</b></p> <p><b>Cast: Fahadh Faasil, Aparna Balamurali, Roshan Mathew</b></p> <p><b>Rating: 3.5/5</b></p> <p><br> <br> </p> <p><br> <br> </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Fri Jun 23 17:48:40 IST 2023 adipurush-review-this-might-be-the-worst-retelling-of-ramayana-on-screen <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>When yet another retelling of Ramayana was being conceived for the big screen, the makers of Adipurush fell short of a good screenplay and VFX and instead ended up easing their job. They effectively brought together the landscape of Game of Thrones – its flying dragons, stone castles, dark themes, and even the White Walkers—and came up with a far-fetched idea of what Lanka was like.<br> <br> Then came heavy inspirations from King Kong and Planet of the Apes, so much so that the monkey army, Sugreeva, Bali, and even Hanuman, ended up looking like animated characters. And then there was poor casting – a very stolid Prabhas as Raghav, who doesn’t even flinch when his wife is abducted by Ravan and Kriti Sanon as Janaki, who is hardly charming. Dipika Chikhlia in Ramanand Sagar’s Ramayan and even Aishwarya Rai Bachchan in a Sita-inspired role in the film Raavan had set the bar high. Saif Ali Khan is the only actor that aces his villainous character, but he looks too out of place in a Ramayana retelling.<br> <br> The film would have been passable if the portrayal of Hanuman was engaging enough. However, Devdatta Nage fails to capture the essence of his character, and makers assign him cringe dialogues like ‘Ab Ravan ki Jalegi’ and ‘Jalegi tere baap ki’.<br> <br> Dialogues are poorly written. While Ravan gets his fair share of dialogues, Ram and Lakshman are often seen giving plain expressions as they have very little to say. What is interesting to note is the fact that Ram, Sita and Hanuman have been called Raghav, Janaki and Bajrang, and instead of chanting ‘Jai Shree Ram’ (there were enough chants from the audience though), the monkey army chants ‘Jeet waha, Raghav jaha’. However, these subtle tweaks do little to veil the agenda of the film.<br> <br> When Janaki is abducted, one of the characters says, ‘Jo hamari behno pe haath dalega unki Lanka laga denge’ and Raghav responds saying, ‘Bhagwa dhwaj lagayenge’ – a little too political for Ram and his army perhaps, as the film takes place in a time and place where democracy hadn’t set in and political parties and agendas did not exist.<br> <br> One can't blame the creative liberties; but things like Ravan laughing before his death (he is said to have apologised to Ram before dying), leather armour on perfectly sculpted bodies of men, Ravan popping up his 10 heads as if opening apps on his phone, the perfectly trimmed hair and beard of exceptionally good-looking men of Lanka who sport tattoos and pigtails, and a black Lanka instead of a golden one simply qualify as misrepresentation of the mythology.<br> <br> Ramanand Sagar's Ramayan and even the animated Ramayanas that have followed are on a much higher pedestal than the overrated Adipurush which is replete with political ideologies, misrepresentations and poor VFX.<br> <br> In all, Adipurush is a distortion of mythology and a disaster in epic proportions.</p> <p><b>Film: Adipurush</b></p> <p><b>Language: Hindi</b></p> <p><b>Director: Om Raut</b></p> <p><b>Cast: Prabhas, Kriti Sanon, Saif Ali Khan</b></p> <p><b>Rating: 1.5/5</b></p> Fri Jun 16 23:03:53 IST 2023 extraction-2-review-chris-hemsworth-returns-to-deliver-an-explosive-action-sequel <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p><i>Extraction 2,</i> the highly anticipated sequel to Netflix’s thrilling blockbuster action film <i>Extraction</i>, showcases the return of the enigmatic Australian black-ops mercenary, Tyler Rake, portrayed by Chris Hemsworth. Directed by Sam Hargrave, this adrenaline-fueled cinematic experience takes the audience on a gripping journey into the dark and dangerous world of international espionage and high-stake missions.</p> <p>In <i>Extraction 2, </i>Chris Hemsworth reprises his role as Rake, joined by his team members Nik Kahn (Golshifteh Farahani) and Yaz Kahn (Adam Bessa). The film picks up immediately after the events of the first film, with Hemsworth's character retired and recovering from his previous injuries. Fans have eagerly anticipated an explanation for Rake’s survival. However, Joe Russo’s initial explanation in the first few minutes of the movie lacks persuasiveness.</p> <p>Rake's peaceful existence is short-lived when he is approached by Idris Elba's character who presents him with a deeply personal task. This sequel delves further into Rake’s personal life and backstory adding depth to the narrative.</p> <p>Director Sam Hargrave, known for his exceptional action sequences in the first film, elevates the intensity in <i>Extraction 2</i>. While the first part featured a remarkable 12-minute single shot action sequence, Hargrave surpassed expectations in the sequel with a staggering 20-minute-long action scene.</p> <p>The narrative revolves around a pair of siblings who form a formidable duo assuming the roles of merciless gangsters within the Georgian criminal underworld. The elder brother, previously incarcerated, has managed to attract a fresh following of notorious criminals during his time in prison. Meanwhile the younger brother is unleashing chaos and exerting his influence to further his criminal expertise. Caught in the midst of this sinister criminal underworld are the incarcerated gangster’s blameless spouse, daughter and adolescent son who find themselves trapped in a precarious predicament.</p> <p>Farahani delivers a remarkable performance once again. Similarly, Bessa, Daniel Bernhardt, Tinatin Dalakishvili and Olga Kurylenko all bring authenticity and depth to their respective roles, effectively realising the potential of their characters. However, it is worth noting the performance of the Georgian actor Tornike Gogrichiani who embodies the character of gangster Zurab.</p> <p>While <i>Extraction 2</i> may lack a compelling plot, it more than compensates with its exceptional action sequences. The movie's predictable story and easily foreseeable twists and turns may disappoint those seeking a fresh and surprising narrative.</p> <p>However, for fans of action-packed films who relish thrilling sequences and intense combat, this film is a worthwhile choice.</p> <p><b>Film: Extraction 2</b></p> <p><b>Director: Sam Hargrave</b></p> <p><b>Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Golshifteh Farahani, Adam Bessa, Tornike Gogrichiani</b></p> <p><b>Rating: 3/5</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Fri Jun 16 17:25:30 IST 2023 black-mirror-season-6-review-netflix-show-tries-to-break-the-sci-fi-mould <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>After four long years,<i style="font-size: 0.8125rem;"> </i>Netflix series <i style="font-size: 0.8125rem;">Black Mirror </i>is back with its sixth season. The anthology show, created by Charlie Brooker, has been able to carve out a space for itself by portraying the terrifying influence of technology on humanity. In season 6 the dystopian series is back with five episodes; each episode centred around a unique story and concept.</p> <p>The first episode—“Joan is Awful”—is about a woman who starts off a typical day in her life. She is going through a phase where she does not feel like the main character in her own life and confides in a therapist. Later that day she finds out that her entire life is out there for the world to see on a television show, with her character being essayed by Hollywood actress Salma Hayek. How would you react if you are constantly being watched and your life is no more yours to keep?</p> <p>The next episode “Loch Henry” follows a young couple who enter a village hoping to film a documentary as part of their graduate project. But after discovering the village’s haunted past about a serial killer, they decide it would make for a more fitting topic for their documentary. The episode pushes you to rethink the definition of success, and if it is worth the human cost of bringing up dreaded ghosts from the past.</p> <p>The third episode named “Mazey Day” deals with the paparazzi culture and the carnivorous nature of the entertainment industry as it feeds into the lives of the people involved. Bo, an invasive paparazzo from LA, tries to make a living by exclusively capturing the intimate moments of celebrities which lead to a celebrity taking his own life. Despite calling it quits from the paparazzi life, Bo is hooked into taking one last photo which could assure her a giant payday by tracking down a celebrity who has been MIA. It shocks the audience by showing the power and authority paps can have on people's lives where they can totally destroy a person's life with a snapshot.</p> <p>“Beyond the Sea” is the fourth episode and also happens to be the longest—stretching over 80 minutes of screen time. Set in a backdrop where two accomplished astronauts who were known for their lives at home are made to leave on a six-year-long space mission in 1969. Far away from their homes, the duo connect with their families through android replicas of themselves. The mission runs smoothly until a horrific tragedy destroys one of their replicas, leaving the family on earth in despair. The chilling episode shows how the astronauts' lives can be as empty and dark as the infinite space surrounding them. It is a slow motion tragedy that subtly conveys how bizarre the replica experience or one’s connection with their android bodies could be.</p> <p>The final episode “Demon 79” follows the life of Nida who works in a shoe store where she often feels victimised by her colleagues. She later discovers a talisman in the basement and accidentally activates it with her blood, releasing a demon which informs her that she must end three people's lives in the span of three days to prevent an apocalypse. This episode focuses on supernatural forces, instead of technology, and what would happen if one acted according to their darkest impulses.</p> <p>The<i> Black Mirror </i>series has been one of the most thought provoking shows that satirised the impact of futuristic technology on our lives. But the latest season turns out to be an exception as it has strayed from its sci-fi roots with multiple episodes set in the past and present. From nervous breakdowns, to true crime, horror and apocalypse, season 6 of <i>Black Mirror</i> brings in all that it takes to blow its viewers' minds.</p> <p>Season 6 also delves into toxic human behaviour with the internet culture growing more invasive over the past two decades. The season divides focus between old school videotapes, digital cameras and the present day AI, data harvesting and deepfakes. The show also takes a dig at Big Tech and streaming giant Netflix, referring to it as 'Streamberry'.</p> <p>The show is a reminder that even though technology could change the future of society, human nature might still remain the same.</p> <p><b>Show: Black Mirror, Season 6</b></p> <p><b>Streaming on: Netflix</b></p> <p><b>Rating: 4/5</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Fri Jun 16 15:55:17 IST 2023 the-flash-review-ezra-millers-superhero-flick-cannot-save-the-dc-universe <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p><i>The Flash</i> is an attempt by the DCEU to explain all their movies so far and consolidate their cinematic universe into a coherent setting. And, while <i>The Flash </i>seems to be a good movie with an interesting, albeit cliche plot, it will not be able to resuscitate a drowning DC cinematic universe. Ezra Miller plays an insecure and very sensitive Barry Allen, whose interactions with not only a younger self but also people who are not from his timeline, are fun to watch but can get needlessly forced from time to time.</p> <p>The action sequence seems fine but the CGI is definitely in a hit-or-miss situation depending on the scene of the movie. While the music score is incredible, it sometimes distracts the viewer from the scene.</p> <p>The story follows the Flash who almost always finds himself cleaning up behind the Justice League and especially Batman, referring to himself as their “Janitor” at one point. However, he still considers Batman his best friend. One night when talking to his dad about the trial to be held the next day, he finds himself with the ability to travel back in time when running at superfast speeds. Following a discussion with Batman regarding how he should handle his powers, and then with Iris West on how to save his father, he travels back in time to the day his mom died and attempts to save her. Here starts the story where Barry meets his mom, an 18-year-old version of himself, a different older Batman and other characters who, though not central to the plot, play exciting roles.</p> <p>While Barry’s motivations for his actions seem clear and interesting, what stands out are the emotions that drive him. The loneliness of losing both his parents, the awkwardness from interacting with people, and the responsibility of being The Flash, all play an important role in making Barry who he is. And this is made even more clear when we meet Barry’s 18-year-old self. We see Barry’s social ineptness change into a very obnoxious behaviour, with Barry (the younger Barry) being a spoilt child who does not seem to want to listen to anyone before doing what he feels like. However, the movie progresses to show some sort of growth for both the versions of Barry.</p> <p>The interactions between the two Barrys at some points seem real and yet at other times disrupted by the janky CGI that the movie has. The movie has a varying degree of realness and crispness to its animation, with some scenes being outstanding while the rest are downright bad. It distracts one from what is going on in the scene and shifts their focus from the movie. Especially when one comes to watch a superhero movie and expects to see spectacular fight scenes.</p> <p>The movie revolves around an overused plotline where the hero wants to save those that matter to him no matter the cost. <i>The Flash </i>also tries to explore the multiversal theory even though so many other movies have been there and done that. It could seem boring, and yet it brings in a fresh perspective to the multitude of theories that we keep learning. However, this is not enough to save the movie.</p> <p>It is ironic seeing Miller play a superhero who learns to accept his fate and mistakes, given his recent disappearance from the media due to his controversial actions. Barry actively tries to “save the world” from a disaster caused by his own doing and does so while sprinkling humour throughout each scene. Most of these would crack you up, the others fall flat. Watching Michael Keaton take up the role of Batman, with his iconic lines and even more iconic suit, will definitely hit you with a wave of nostalgia.</p> <p>Yet,<i>The Flash </i>does not seem like a movie that could save what is left of the DCEU. It is a good movie with all the cameos, action and story to a large extent, but not good enough.</p> <p><b>Movie: The Flash (2023)</b></p> <p><b>Directors: Andy Muschietti</b></p> <p><b>Cast: Ezra Miller, Michael Keaton, Sasha Calle, Ben Affleck, Michael Shannon</b></p> <p><b>Rating: 3/5</b></p> Thu Jun 15 16:59:17 IST 2023 bloody-daddy-review-a-passable-action-entertainer <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The disclaimer at the beginning of&nbsp;<i>Bloody Daddy</i>&nbsp;sets the tone for what is to come. It reads: ‘In 2021, by the end of the second wave, millions had lost their lives and livelihood and the crime rate was at an all-time high. Just after the second wave, India was opening up again.’</p> <p>An isolated, locked down Connaught Place (Delhi) appears on screen soon after the disclaimer, and two cops, played by Shahid Kapoor and Zeishan Quadri, are seen chasing after a few drug peddlers. Kapoor’s Sumair is a single father who struggles to manage time between his only son and his duty as a cop.&nbsp;</p> <p>Kapoor’s Sumair, a good cop with shades of grey, derives his inspiration from various characters that the actor himself has played in the past– Farzi’s Sunny, Badmaash Company’s Karan Kapoor, a bit of Kabir Singh and a pinch of R… Rajkumar’s Romeo Rajkumar. The actor performs unbelievable action sequences that go on from the beginning till the end.</p> <p>Rajeev Khandelwal’s cop act too is praiseworthy. Ronit Roy and Sanjay Kapoor shine as the baddies. However, the three supposedly strong characters in the film fail to hit the mark as well as Shahid does. Quadri appears on screen after what seems like ages (and dealing with several controversies) in a negative role but leaves little impact.&nbsp;</p> <p><i>Bloody Daddy</i> is about a good cop gone bad and the rotten police system. Top cops are corrupt and work in tandem with the drug mafia. Almost everyone in the department appears to be in nexus with the bad guys.&nbsp;</p> <p>Like many films conceptualized and shot during the pandemic, <i>Bloody Daddy</i> too tries to bring in the struggles caused by Covid-19. Sumair wears a mask before taking on the goons, the antigen tests, financial stresses due to lockdowns, and mandatory masks make their way into the film.&nbsp;</p> <p>There is an interesting scene in the movie where Sumair packs in wheat flour in packages to make them look like drugs to get his son back from the drug lords. Upon sniffing and tasting the ‘drugs’ Sanjay Kapoor' Hameed remarks he doesn’t taste anything. ‘Kahi Covid toh nahi ho gaya hai,’ remarks his aid.&nbsp;</p> <p>To sum it up, Ali Abbas Zafar makes a few hits, some misses and some stretches in the film that is at best, a not-so-impressive one-time watch action entertainer.&nbsp;</p> <p>Film: Bloody Daddy</p> <p>Platform: Jio Cinemas</p> <p>Director: Ali Abbas Zafar</p> <p>Cast: Shahid Kapoor, Ronit Roy, Rajeev Khandelwal, Sanjay Kapoor</p> <p>Rating: 3/5</p> <p><br> <br> </p> Fri Jun 09 20:34:55 IST 2023 transformers-rise-of-the-beasts-review-a-delightful-addition-to-the-franchise <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p><i>Transformers: Rise of the Beasts</i> is a delightful treat for hard core fans and can be a rather entertaining watch for people out of touch with the Transformers lore.</p> <p>The seventh addition to the live action Transformers universe is an engaging show full of flying robot parts, fire and a little trip around the world. Directed by Steven Caple Jr, the movie embraces the <i>Bumblebee</i> route while retaining the better features of the movies before it.</p> <p>The Autobots, led by the well-loved and respected Optimus Prime, embark on yet another adventure; this time it is something that concerns both worlds. And after spending 'seven long years' on planet earth the leader, led by both love and guilt, jumps head first into a battle that has been waging for decades; this time intending to finish it. An ex-military electronics expert and a museum intern end up joining the crew as well in a race against time and imminent destruction.</p> <p>Set in the year 1994, the movie tries its best to pay its respects to the era. In the cinematic universe timeline it fits right in as a sequel to Travis Knight's critically acclaimed <i>Bumblebee</i>. With a soundtrack studded with the likes of Nas, Notorious B.I.G. and The Wu-Tang Clan to name a few, the movie goes all out to deliver an incredible music experience.</p> <p>New characters, new trials and new allies—all culminate into one hell of a cinematic fest. Including the sparkly, shiny and fun-loving Mirage voiced by the American comedian Pete Davidson.</p> <p>Peter Cullen, the remarkably recognisable and loved voiced actor of the original 1980s legendary Optimus Prime, too, returns as part of the cast filled with brilliant actors like Michelle Yeoh and Ron Perlman.</p> <p>The two main human characters, Elena played by Dominique Fishback and Tony Diaz played by Antony Ramos, were both well-written and more fully developed than most in the franchise. Though it did appear like their only purpose throughout the entire film was to run and keep running. By emphasising on the bond between the human and Autobots and with a touch of sentimental outbreaks, this new instalment adds warmth and a couple of tear-jerking episodes to the overall experience. It is pleasurable to see how the movie caters to the longtime fans' needs as well as movie watchers going in with limited ideas about the franchise.</p> <p><i>Transformers: Rise of the Beasts</i> is a great comeback from the few rather disappointing movies before it. Though avid <i>Beast Wars</i> fans might say otherwise. The Maximals, especially Cheetor and Rhinox, even after being shown as being key players get very little lines.</p> <p>Apart from the impressive CGI and the well-executed plot, the movie does lag a little in the second act. But the climax makes up for it in a way. The ending scene with the heroes slowly transitioning back to normal life leaves ample room for more questions and sparks potential for the next two movies that are supposed to follow up the trilogy.</p> <p><b>Film: Transformers: Rise of the Beasts</b></p> <p><b>Director: Steven Caple Jr</b></p> <p><b>Cast: Anthony Ramos, Dominique Fishback, Peter Cullen, Michelle Yeoh, Pete Davidson</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> Thu Jun 08 18:08:31 IST 2023 scoop-review-hansal-mehta-crafts-a-brilliant-thriller-based-on-real-events <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>In 2011, senior crime reporter Jigna Vora was arrested by Mumbai Police during the investigation into the murder of journalist Jyotirmoy Dey. Dey was murdered in broad daylight by unidentified assailants in Powai in Mumbai, and later, links of his murder with underworld don Chhota Rajan emerged. <a title="Who is Jigna Vora, journalist whose arrest and acquittal inspired Netflix's 'Scoop'" href="">Vora, a single parent, spent nine months in prison</a> before acquiring bail. In the chargesheet filed, the police had accused Vora of providing Chhota Rajan details of Dey’s address and vehicle registration number when in reality she had only approached Rajan for an interview.&nbsp;</p> <p>Vora was cleared of all charges after seven years, in 2018. In 2019, she narrated her story in 'Behind Bars in Byculla: My Days in Prison' which inspired Hansal Mehta to make a masterpiece inspired by her life and story.&nbsp;</p> <p>The much-anticipated web series&nbsp;<i>Scoop,</i>&nbsp;which was released on Netflix on June 2, finds its inspiration from the case. Helmed by Hansal Mehta, the series stars Karishma Tanna as journalist Jagruti Pathak, modelled after Vora.&nbsp;</p> <p>Whenever Hansal Mehta has chosen to narrate a story, he has done so with daring honesty and bluntness that few filmmakers choose to display.&nbsp;<i>City Lights, Omerta, Scam 1992, and Aligarh</i>&nbsp;have shocked and stunned audiences not just with the naked display of truths in the storytelling, but also with some stellar performances. Mehta knows how to mold an actor in a role to make it look like the role was tailor-made for the actor. He displays this streak of excellence with Karishma Tanna as she plays the spunky journalist Pathak.</p> <p>From the pressures of breaking a story first, keeping sources close and unidentified, and chasing senior cops for exclusives, to the rivalry and the attacks on journalists for telling the truth, Mehta closely follows the life of a journalist and the culture of a newsroom, the excitement of breaking a story before anyone else and the disappointments of missing out a development in editions. His vision and understanding of a journalistic approach are passed on to his actor Karishma Tanna who delivers her career-best performance as Pathak. She chases her leads, keeps her sources close, and is always looking to break exclusives. The series goes on to show her trials and tribulations as awaits her release from Byculla Jail for nine months.&nbsp;</p> <p>Mehta also extracts some attention-drawing performances from the likes of Harman Baweja and Deven Bhojani who return to the screen after years. Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub and Tannishtha Chatterjee show onscreen what is it like to head a newsroom. Ayyub holds the act together till the end, believing in the framed journalist’s innocence and fighting for the truth alone. Harman Baweja’s cop act proves he has matured as an actor and is open to versatile roles on screen, moving away from his boy next door image.</p> <p>The well-researched series is a winner for its true-to-life portrayal of facts and events, even though it insists that it is merely inspired by the case of Vora. It was only in 2018 that Chhota Rajan and eight others were sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of journalist Dey, and Jigna Vora was acquitted, not only robbing her of her career when she was at the peak of her career but also leaving a deep scar that is unlikely to heal for a long time.&nbsp;</p> <p><i>Scoop</i>&nbsp;is a homage to journalists who have lost their lives because of the work they do. It not only brings on screen the rot in the system that leads to a failure more often than not but also highlights how in the race for an exclusive story, fake news can damage a whole system and more importantly, a person’s life and career. The courageous storytelling ends with a spine-chilling final credit that displays pictures of the likes of Gauri Lankesh who have been killed for their journalism.&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Series: Scoop</b></p> <p><b>Platform: Netflix</b></p> <p><b>Language: Hindi</b></p> <p><b>Director: Hansal Mehta</b></p> <p><b>Cast: Karishma Tanna, Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub, Harman Baweja, Prosenjit Chatterjee</b></p> <p><b>Rating: 4.5/5</b></p> Sat Jun 03 11:12:51 IST 2023 zara-hatke-zara-bachke-review-chemistry-between-sara-vicky-kaushal-makes-it-a-one-time-watch <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>A young couple, happily married for two years, yearns for a house of their own. The ancestral house in which they currently live along with their extended family is too small for privacy and romance. Desperation is high but funds are low and the possibility of owning a flat of their own is nil. <br> <br> However, Kapil Dubey and Saumya Chawla Dubey won't give up. What happens next is the germination of an idea that forms the central narrative of the film—they decide to apply for the Central government's Jan Awaas Yojana, which promises a house through its lottery system. So what if it is meant for the needy and the Dubeys, a middle-class family from Indore doesn't qualify, there is always a way to circumvent the system and that is exactly what the duo does. <br> <br> College sweethearts yoga teacher Kapil and chemistry professor Saumya lie through their teeth, take huge loans, use all their savings in bribes and even get a divorce, all to become eligible for the scheme that will provide them with their dream home. <br> <br> Saumya, sick and tired of the nosy Dubey uncle and aunty, who shift to their house for an indefinite period, starts looking for a space outside their mohalla. She comes across the PMJAY and meets with a corrupt official, aptly named Bhagwan Das (Inaamulhaq) who advises them to get a divorce to qualify for the scheme. <br> <br> As the scheme gives preference to women, if she can divorce her husband, she could qualify for a house. This leads to a comedy of errors, which is layered with multiple narratives to keep the flow and momentum going. <br> <br> However, Zara Hatke Zara Bachke (ZHZB) is far from being a family entertainer that leaves us with bouts of laughter. In fact, the dialogues are so bland that they fail to evoke any reaction from the viewers. Which is sad because had the punchlines been spunky enough, the film could have been a huge entertainer especially because the chemistry between Sara Ali Khan and Vicky Kaushal is electrifying. And that is the only good part about the film. <br> <br> Yet there are heartening moments when you just want to go 'Awww!' Like those that bring out the day-to-day battles of a middle-class existence - he is conservative when leaving tips, will never leave the cold drink bottle half full, will buy just one Thumbs Up for him and Saumya to share to save some money, bargains with vendors and treats his wife to a chocolate every single night. Although ZHZB feels like so many films one may have watched in the past, especially in the 90s, this one offers some soft moments one can take back and also a light-hearted take on love marriages and familial equations. For these reasons alone, the film is watchable. But not a second time.</p> <p><b>Director: Laxman Utekar</b></p> <p><b>Cast: Vicky Kaushal, Sara Ali Khan, Inaamulhaq</b></p> <p><b>Duration: 132 minutes</b></p> <p><b>Rating: 2.5 stars</b></p> Sat Jun 03 11:13:32 IST 2023 spider-man-across-the-spider-verse-review-stunning-sequel-with-fleshed-out-characters <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The much-awaited sequel to <i>Into the Spider-Verse</i> is finally here and it is a must-watch for any fans of the franchise. After <i>Into the Spider-Verse </i>stunned us all with its impressive comic-book-esque animation and a soundtrack to match, <i>Across the Spider-Verse </i>carries on that legacy in an amazing manner. The characters seem thoughtful and fleshed out and as the Spider-Verse slowly unravels itself, the plot slowly but surely thickens.</p> <p>The first movie left off with all the Spider-Men (and women and of course, who can forget Spider-Ham) being returned to their respective universes after stopping the collider, defeating Kingpin and saving the universe, but from these ashes rises a new threat in a villain unlike Miles Morales has ever encountered. Not just some “new villain of the week” but an interdimensional threat, and Miles must find a way to stop him. However, that is not all.</p> <p>As we meet and interact with Gwen Stacy, Peter B. Parker and some other old friends, we get a glimpse into lives in their respective universes, their interactions with their families and the situations they face by being a Spider-Person. Each story seems meaningful with some fleshed out to the extent of maybe overpowering our main character. But they all play their role in making these heroes who they are.</p> <p>We also get to see Spider-People from other universes, like our dear Pavitra Prabhakar and Miguel O’Hara. These new characters bring with them their own charm and spice to the movie, and one is sure to find the Spider-Person of their liking among the vast ocean (if I might) of them. Exploring these universes with their animation style and quirks sure are memorable. The amount of cameos the writers have added is no laughing matter; with easter eggs from various comics and movies, you have to keep your eyes peeled and brush up on your knowledge because if you don't, you’ll miss out.</p> <p>Carrying over from the previous movie, the animation pulled off by Sony-Animation-Studios and others is so unique, it will leave you thirsty for more. From the fluid movement of the characters to the vivid colours of open portals and glitching people, from the breathtaking sceneries of each new city like New York and Mumbattan to the emotions each character displays, each detail is vivid and full of life. The audio in the movie adds so much depth to every scene, from the stellar and upbeat fight scenes to swinging across the city and especially the scenes filled with emotion.</p> <p>Apart from all this, it tries to bring in important emotional themes, in a way that not only children and teens, but even adults can connect with. It explores various topics like personal growth, love, the importance of trust and family and how loss can affect a person. The relationship Miles has with his parents and with Gwen, that of Gwen’s with Miles and her parent, growing up feeling different, losing people you love—all these scenes try to bring an emotional depth to the movie that works to a large extent. With these comes the humour that Spider-Man is known for. Acting on the situation and making light of it seem to be their vibe and most, if not all, jokes land beautifully and are sure to leave you giggling in your seat.</p> <p>But the pacing of the movie interferes a bit with the experience. It seems intentionally slow while trying to set the scene for something bigger. The movie is by no means a drag and will leave you on the edge of your seat, but the pacing of the story and characters seem deliberate and while very exciting, slightly unsatisfying. However, the way the movie ends seems to explain the reason for this and probably leaves you exactly where the writers planned, wanting for more.</p> <p><b>Movie:</b> Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse</p> <p><b>Directors:</b> Joaquim Dos Santos, Kemp Powers and Justin K. Thompson</p> <p><b>Cast: </b>Shameik Moore, Hailee Steinfeld, Oscar Isaac, Jake Johnson</p> <p><b>Rating:</b> 4/5</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Thu Jun 01 16:14:07 IST 2023 the-little-mermaid-review-the-live-action-remake-is-highly-enjoyable <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> Walt Disney's live-action remake of the 1989 animated classic 'The Little Mermaid' didn't fail to keep up with the authentic and delightful escapist fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen. The 23- year-old American singer, songwriter, and actor Halle Lynn Bailey, who had faced massive racist backlash ever since the release of the trailer, splendidly essays the naive little mermaid, silencing her detractors. <br> <br> Melissa McCarthy, who plays treacherous sea witch Ursula in the film, had said she &quot;doesn't have any patience for the racist backlash to the film&quot;. The cast and crew of the film had said fans can expect a modern take on the tale even as the message stays the same, and director Rob Marshall and producer John De Luca deliver on the promise.<br> <br> Bailey's mermaid princess Ariel has a thirst for adventure and wants to know more about the world beyond the sea. She makes a deal with sea witch Ursula to impress Prince Eric, trading what she values most, her voice. Even as the classic tale takes a modern form, its shape and intent stay the same, and Bailey's phenomenal voice enhances the charm of the proceedings.<br> <br> Alan Menken, who worked on the original film's soundtrack, returns to give a new rendition of the classic songs, including 'Part of Your World', 'Under the Sea', 'Kiss the Girl', 'For the First Time', and 'Poor Unfortunate Souls'. The Broadway musical style that the movie adopts adds to the allure of the film.<br> <br> The movie is visually stunning with grand the rich CGI underwater world and coral life, and beautifully designed mermaid costume with iridescent scales and gossamer fins.<br> <br> Jonah Hauer-King plays charming and sensitive Prince Eric, with a warm voice and demeanour. Javier Bardem as the Mighty King Triton, Awkwafina as the quirky and flighty Scuttle bird, Jacob Tremblay as the adorable little Flounder who's also Ariel's bosom buddy, and Melissa McCarthy as the dark, flamboyantly, and maliciously devious sea witch, are a treat to watch.<br> <br> Despite the few changes, the live-action version stays true to the original. The movie's final message, &quot;worlds of sea and land should live in harmony,&quot; is indeed a relevant one for all times.&nbsp; Fri May 26 19:41:08 IST 2023 live-review-weak-take-on-a-relevant-issue <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Fake news is the bane of today's society, which cannot be simply wished away. V.K. Prakash’s <i>LIVE</i> focuses on this evil - the film is about a girl whose life turns topsy-turvy by a fake news that goes viral, thanks to a media tycoon who manipulates it for vested interests.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The film begins with Amala (Mamta Mohandas) being given the district's best doctor award. She also has a YouTube channel, where she posts videos on medicine and more. However, she starts getting anonymous and inappropriate messages at night, following which she decides to file a police complaint. But her husband Sriram (Soubin Shahir) is reluctant, and, instead, slut-shames her.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>There's a parallel storyline, too, of Anna (Priya Prakash Varrier), who lives with her grandfather, having lost her parents early. He wants Anna to become a doctor. In fact, Anna's mother and Amala were friends in college, and so the latter gives her all the help and support she can.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The first 45 minutes of the film might make it seem that it revolves around Amala and the anonymous cyber-criminal. But things turn on its head one night, and Anna becomes involved. Enter SJV (Shine Tom Chacko), the media baron, who uses Anna's predicament for his personal gain. How their fates are intertwined forms rest of the plot.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The film manages to keep the audience guessing about the villain – the cinematography and the background music help. Though the film has its share of twists and turns, the lack of an engaging screenplay and unconvincing character sketches let the film down a bit. Despite the shortfalls, it's worth a watch for the relevant theme it deals with.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Film: LIVE</b></p> <p><b>Language: Malayalam</b></p> <p><b>Director: V.K. Prakash</b></p> <p><b>Cast: Mamta Mohandas, Soubin Shahir, Shine Tom Chacko, Priya Prakash Varrier and others</b></p> <p><b>Rating: 3/5&nbsp;</b></p> Fri May 26 18:16:14 IST 2023 fast-x-review-an-engaging-addition-to-fast-and-furious-franchise <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his family hit the streets again in this maddeningly mind-blowing spectacle of cars, cool weapons and colossal civilian property destruction. The tenth addition to the Fast and Furious franchise focuses more on the messy history that intertwines the lives of Toretto and Dante Reyes.<br> <br> The movie opens in Los Angeles where the Toretto family gather around Abuelita Toretto, the majestic matriarch of the family. With what seems like a foreshadowing prophecy, she makes a toast to the goodwill of everyone and the never-ending legacy of their family. Dom is also seen to be training his son to uphold the decade-old legacy of their family. The team then gets split and sent on a mission to Rome with Roman as the mission's leader. Everything goes downhill from there.<br> <br> From hijacked trucks loaded with bombs, gold plated cars to exquisitely choreographed annihilation of the streets of Rome, the scenes are a treat to watch. Stunts that defy the laws of physics and mechanical engineering are not surprising anymore in the world of Fast and Furious, after all the whole world witnessed Roman and Tej drive a car to space. Everything can be satisfactorily summarised in the words of Agent Ames himself, &quot;If it could be done in a car, they did it. If it violates the laws of god and gravity, they did it twice.&quot;<br> <br> A very interesting addition to the mix this time is the follow-up of the Hernan Reys story (The antagonist in Fast Five). Jason Momoa is Dante Reyes, the sole heir and successor to the insanely rich drug lord. Calling Reyes's son a madman on wheels would be the understatement of the century. The venomous thirst to uphold his family legacy, instilled in him by his late father, plays a huge role in motivating him to quite literally blow apart a whole city just to see Toretto suffer.<br> <br> Fast X features all the usual jaw-dropping spectacle that one would expect from the 22-year-old franchise. It is interesting to see how former antagonists are given a new role to play. Cipher, ever since her introduction in Fast and Furious 6, was notorious for being loyal to nobody and working solo. In Dante's own words, she barely has anyone she lives for or cares about, &quot;not even a kitty cat&quot;.<br> <br> It is interesting to see the same Cipher, a criminal mastermind and cyber-terrorist with no worldly attachments, work together with Letty Toretto to execute a prison break. The overarching theme of family is still relevant here. It is the trademark of the Fast and Furious series after all. The eerily saddening lines of &quot;you can't save everybody&quot; and the trolley problem-esque split-second decisions that heavily weigh on the main Torettos conscience are, as pointed out by Dante, the biggest pitfalls of having a huge family.<br> <br> The whole plot of Fast X centres around a few highlighted tropes. A mad man out to avenge his only family, a team of ragtag street racers who grew to be each other's family, and treacherously swaying loyalties. One witnesses the law going berserk, justice flowing down the drain, heroes being branded criminals and a new era taking shape right in front of their eyes.<br> <br> Fast X is a Pandora's box of expected surprises but it is still worth the watch. The rumoured to be triology's part one leaves the viewer adequately hanging, wanting for more. Fans have made peace with the fact that a lot of questions will remain unanswered. With the resurrection of characters as a running theme, it is quite understandable if the fans do not want to print out an obituary notice for their favourites just yet.</p> <p><b>Film: Fast X</b></p> <p><b>Director: Louis Leterrier</b></p> <p><b>Cast: Vin Diesel, Jason Momoa, Michelle Rodriguez, John Cena</b></p> <p><b>Rating: 3</b></p> Fri May 19 12:56:27 IST 2023 dahaad-review-vijay-varma-portrays-cyanide-mohan-with-ease <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In the autumn of 2009, a school teacher Mohan Kumar was arrested from a small village on the outskirts of Mangaluru. Dressed in plain formal clothes, the modest-looking man would teach physical education to primary classes in South Karnataka. He was a family man living a middle-class life with no reason for anyone to suspect.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>When the gruesome murders of 20 women were uncovered and linked to each other, the police tracked down the serial killer and found it to be the unlikely Mohan Kumar. Shortly after, the story of the serial killer spread and he came to be known as ‘Cyanide Mohan’, for he would elope with women in their mid-20s or early 30s and give them contraceptive pills laced with cyanide and ask them to take it in a public toilet before they went ahead to marry. A few hours later, their dead bodies would be recovered from the public toilets.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Actor Vijay Varma, who brings to life this serial killer character as Hindi literature professor Anand Swarnakar in Amazon Prime Video’s&nbsp;<i>Dahaad,</i>&nbsp;plays the role with Kumar’s ease and modesty, yet a passive aggressive approach that convinces the audience of Varma’s intentions.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The initial episodes entail the story of two missing women and a made-up case of ‘love jihad’ that is further fuelled by ‘yellow-flagged guardians of the religion’ who want to save their daughters from the clutches of men from another religion (an Altaf). Even as the missing girls are of legal age to marry, they seek justice and the arrest of Altaf, when the police realise the case is much beyond that of 'love jihad' as other girls go missing.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The story that has been inspired from 'Cyanide Mohan' finds actors Sonakshi Sinha and Gulshan Devaiah portraying the roles of police officers investigating the case. Gulshan Devaiah as Devilal Singh plays a cop with restraint and professionalism. While Devaiah’s acting prowess is not unknown, Sinha surprises with her Anjali Bhaati – a young female Dalit cop fighting the caste system and patriarchy, which is extremely prevalent around her by being an unabashed part of the system.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Gulshan Devaiah and Vijay Varma packed in a crime thriller together prove to be the biggest draws and Sonakshi is at her refreshing best without overdoing any bits.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>She makes her stance abundantly clear – she is educated, independent, fearless, yet is faced with sexist and caste remarks in every walk of her life – be it her workplace, her marriage prospects, victims who refuse entry to her citing her caste and even the serial killer who declare she must be punished for being born a low caste. Her mother is grateful when she manages to find a groom for her daughter and pays the pundit extra when he manages to find her a match even after their caste dilemma.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The theme of caste discrimination and patriarchy is further explored in the eight-part series when Anand Swarnakar targets women of only low caste and meek backgrounds and calls them ‘loose’ for agreeing to be with a man easily and justifies his doing.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>What wins is the fact that every character in the series has a story of their own and does not exist to push the story forward or be a prop to the protagonists. Anand Swarnakar’s wife is in the middle of an extra-marital affair and plans on leaving her husband, Anjali Bhaati is in a relationship while battling the pressures of getting married, Devilal Singh’s wife feels neglected and suspects him of having an affair, cop Kailash Parghi is dealing with the dilemma of having or not having a child. Yet, the series does not deviate and end up becoming an overall mess but packs the action and intermingles the stories together to make it one whole good clear script; director Reema Kagti and screenwriters Kagti, Zoya Akhtar and Ritesh Shah deserve credit.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The series that could have been heavy and overwhelming with the social messaging, intertwined plots and stories emerge as a fair play. It concludes with Sinha (Anjali Bhaat) finally unmasking her dalit identity and changing her surname to her original one - Meghwal and proudly wearing her caste as a badge on her sleeve as she manages to put the serial killer behind the bar.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Web Series:&nbsp;</b>Dahaad on Amazon Prime Video</p> <p><b>Language:&nbsp;</b>Hindi</p> <p><b>Director:&nbsp;</b>Reema Kagti, Ruchika Oberoi</p> <p><b>Cast:&nbsp;</b>Vijay Varma, Gulshan Devaiah, Sonakshi Sinha, Sohum Shah</p> <p><b>Rating:&nbsp;</b>4.5/5</p> Sat May 13 18:07:05 IST 2023 love-again-review-priyanka-chopras-rom-com-is-a-snooze-fest <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>You could put together all the rom-coms one may have watched in your lifetime and the result would be James C. Strouse's <i>Love Again.</i></p> <p>There is nothing extraordinary or even slightly different about this girl-meets-boy trope; everything is so predictable and obvious that you might feel you've already watched this multiple times before. Here is Mira (Priyanka Chopra Jonas) who's lost her boyfriend John to a car accident two years back and cannot get over him.</p> <p>In a state of despair and as a coping strategy she starts conversing with him via his number which is reassigned to the work phone of a music critic Rob Burns (Sam Heughan). Mira begins to pour her heart out to Burns, thinking that she's communicating with John. Burns, on his part, single and critical of lovey-dovey romances, finds himself being pulled in by the mysterious texts which somehow seem to be speaking straight to his heart. He never replies to her texts; only reads them and over a period of time even connects with them.</p> <p>Now, the point is to somehow make him less cynical and more believing in love and to do that, we have the legendary Celine Dion whose soul-touching ballards are everything love and red hearts. As a journalist of the <i>New York Chronicle</i>, he is to interview Dion and that interaction sparks in him the fire to find out this mysterious girl who's been sending him texts; who knows maybe she's the one for him after all!</p> <p>While the premise is a total pull-in, it is the execution that fails the viewer.</p> <p>A remake of the German film <i>SMS fur Dich—</i>based on Sofie Cramer’s novel by the same—<i>Love Again</i> is aimed at being a romance saga dipped in sugar syrup but actually ends up being a snoozefest. Most of all because its dialogues fail to have any impact - they lack humour, punch and a natural delivery. Because the film is slow paced, we'd have liked for its protagonists to keep us hooked via interesting, meaningful and intellectual conversations since their time together makes up for most of the film. In fact, Dion is the only one we'd have liked to see more of because she is her natural best on the big screen. She's sarcastic, no-nonsense and quick witted. During her meetings with Rob, she instills in him the confidence to find new love post his broken engagement and the courage to seek someone out.</p> <p>Yet, the viewer is left wanting for more. We'd have liked to know more about Mira and Rob, we'd have loved for them to have more &quot;engaging conversations,&quot; and explore love on so many emotional levels. <i>Love Again </i>doesn’t care to explore this aspect.</p> <h5>Movie: Love Again (English)</h5> <p><b>Director: </b>James C. Strouse</p> <p><b>Cast: </b>Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Sam Heughan, Celine Dion</p> <p><b>Rating: </b>2.5/5</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><br> <br> </p> Sat May 13 16:19:58 IST 2023 the-mother-review-a-lackluster-mothers-day-treat-from-jennifer-lopez <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> Revenge action thrillers are one of the most overused genres in Hollywood, and 'The Mother' is another addition to the long list. Jennifer Lopez plays a cold-blooded female assassin, known only as 'The Mother.' She has severed ties with her daughter and remains a distant figure who merely oversees her daughter's well-being. However, when her daughter is kidnapped, she emerges from hiding and risks everything to save her child. <br> <br> Directed by Nicki Carlo and written by Misha Green, Andrea Berloff, and Peter Craig, the movie is entertaining enough with some spectacular action sequences. However, the cliched plot fails to offer anything new. Adrian Lowell and Hector Alvarez, the antagonists, feel hurriedly written. <br> <br> 'The Mother' is never named in the movie. She is not portrayed as someone who is capable of being gentle and chooses to show her affection by teaching the child how to survive while at least two different parties are vying for her life. While she is not capable of expressing love, 'The Mother' still wants to be part of her daughter's life. There is also no mention of the father of the child. <br> <br> Although not exactly a ground-breaking film, the acting is generally quite good. The CGI could have been better. The filmmakers didn't attempt to make the mother wolf seem more realistic. Although a frantic mother figure has an exciting emotional draw, barely anything was done to explore the character more. <br> <br> Despite its flaws, it is entertaining to see the transition of Jennifer Lopez from a rom-com lady to a badass action hero.<br> <br> <b>Film: The Mother<br> Director: Nicki Carlo <br> Cast: Jennifer Lopez, Lucy Paez, Omari Hardwick, Joseph Fiennes, Paul Raci, Gael Garcia Bernal <br> Rating: 2.5/ 5</b><br> <br> Fri May 12 20:22:48 IST 2023 the-kerala-story-review-a-chalice-filled-with-anti-muslim-venom <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>One of the maxims of movie criticism is to never pay much attention to the publicity material. Or to the backstory of those making the film. Abiding by this maxim is certainly the nicest thing you could do for&nbsp;The Kerala Story&nbsp;and its director Sudipto Sen. After all, floating on the internet are trailers of his past efforts such as&nbsp;The Last Monk&nbsp;and&nbsp;Guruji: Ahead of Time, some of them put up by Sen himself, in what is clearly a case of self-sabotaging the plans of making wider audiences watch his films<i>.&nbsp;</i></p> <p>There was a point in The Kerala Story’s publicity drive that gave the impression that Sen had finally got the art of promoting his movies right. The movie was gaining buzz—there is no such thing as bad buzz, really—and it seemed that it might just become&nbsp;<i>The Kashmir Files</i>&nbsp;of Kerala politics. But then, around the time of the previews, Sen began to give ridiculous sound bites, insisting that he had made a coherent film based on meticulous research and at least one botched RTI query. Cleverer filmmakers would have said they had employed the broad brush of artistry to try and paint an intricate reality, but Sen would have none of it. He seemed to want the world to know that he had bitten off more than he could chew. Which is why ignoring the film’s pre-release clamour is an act of kindness.</p> <p>But then, you also find limits to your mercy when your Friday trip to the movie theatre involves wading through angry protesters to reach the hall, claim the seat next to an elderly gentleman, and spend the next few minutes explaining to him where the&nbsp;<i>Adipurush</i>&nbsp;teaser ended and the&nbsp;<i>IB71&nbsp;</i>trailer began. “A lot of these type of movies are getting made; it’s difficult to keep track of which is which,” he says. I nod in agreement. The director Steven McQueen once said that watching films was a communal experience. Boy, wasn’t he profound!</p> <p>The film starts, and you know Sen is in his element when you see the words ‘The Kerala Story’ plastered across a visual of what seems to be the Hindu Kush in Afghanistan. A burkha-clad woman is being smuggled across the unforgiving desert, and we learn that she hails from a verdant Kerala village. Cue canoes, rivers, paddy fields, temples and, of course, kathakali. Nobody can accuse Sen of not doing homework.&nbsp;</p> <p>We learn that the woman in the desert is Shalini Unnikrishnan, whom Adah Sharma plays as the epitome of the beautiful—but most importantly gullible—Hindu Malayali village girl. Shalini’s story unfolds in a fashionably non-linear manner. The older Shalini has become the inmate of a UN-run detention centre near the Iran-Afghan border.&nbsp;</p> <p>She recounts to anti-terror officials how she converted to Islam, became Fatima Ba, and joined the Islamic State in Syria. The story of the younger Shalini, meanwhile, unfolds in a nursing college in Kasargod district, “where sharia is the law of the land”, and where she befriends two Christian girls and a scheming Muslim woman. Incidences of Fatima’s travails in Syria and Afghanistan are juxtaposed with the road to hell she takes in Kerala. She and a Christian girl double-date two Muslim boys—dreamboats who turn out to be dastardly deceivers.&nbsp;</p> <p>The story, co-written by Sen, is apparently based on the story of a group of young men and women that moved to Syria to join the Islamic State between 2016 and 2018. Much of the details regarding what happened to them are in public domain, and Sen and his co-writers seem to have made good use of them.</p> <p>But their intention is not to throw further light on how they were radicalised and what motivated them to undertake the journey. It is obvious that the writers have no interest in character exposition at all; instead, they mould the contours of the case into a chalice filled with anti-Muslim venom that would fill viewers with fear and loathing.</p> <p>Throughout the film, there is not a single Muslim character that comes across as humane, and not one non-Muslim character who is not a victim of the Islamist conspiracy.</p> <p>As propaganda, though, <i>The Kerala Story </i>is quite inept. Sen is no Riefenstahl or Griffith who could push the filmmaking envelope even while peddling unsavoury stuff. At best, he is perhaps India’s answer to Uwe Boll—a director who wears his incompetence and total lack of subtlety as a badge of pride.</p> <p>The sweep of the story is also not matched by the film’s production values. We see a high-security terrorist incarceration camp built with corrugated roofing sheets. Whatever money thus saved has obviously been poured into Shalini’s hostel room, with its double-panelled curtains and faux decorations. Oversized mugshots of Marx, Lenin and Stalin dominate the home of the Communist father of a Christian girl who falls prey to the Islamist plot. The girl herself later blames the father for her fall—he had not been mindful about teaching her about her own religion and culture. The father weeps, and so must the viewers.&nbsp;</p> <p>The gaze of the film is distinctly North Indian. Sen’s Kerala is a place where Diwali is a big festival and the beach is a fixture in everyday life. And just as one of the characters in the movie starts a diatribe against Communists, Sen brings a B.T. Ranadive memorial to the background, as if to drive home the point about the Calcutta Thesis.&nbsp;</p> <p>Unfortunately, despite his sledgehammer sensibilities, Sen has not bothered to hire Malayali artists to dub for Sharma and others. At least a couple of proverbs and dozens of lovely expressions die gruesome deaths as Sen’s cardboard characters speak in Malayalam.&nbsp;</p> <p>In his own way, Sen has made an unsparing film.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Fri May 05 20:37:19 IST 2023 guardians-of-the-galaxy-volume-3-review-best-mcu-movie-since-2019 <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Rodent, hamster, triangle-faced monkey, fox, puppy, rabbit—Rocket has been addressed differently by almost every new character he has come across in the Marvel Cinematic Universe films. Chris Pratt's Peter Quill/Star-Lord addressed him as a “talking raccoon”. But Rocket, voiced by Bradley Cooper, did not identify himself as a raccoon. He was a genetically and cybernetically engineered raccoon-based life form with genius-level intellect. In Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (GotG3), he finally learns that he is indeed a raccoon and embraces that identity.</p> <p>It is the origin story that we did not know we needed. However, it turned out to be an engaging and emotional journey. Director James Gunn's last Marvel movie—he has been made co-chairman and co-CEO of DC Studios—took the best of the two past Guardians movies and mixed them with the best of past Marvel flicks. He also carefully steered clear of any reference to the multiverse—Marvel can clean up that mess later, he seemed to be saying. What works best for GotG3 is that it is very much its own story. These have been in short supply in the MCU recently, with multiple movies being used primarily as a way to take forward the ongoing Multiverse Saga.</p> <p>We check back with the Guardians, now working out of their headquarters in Knowhere. The start is good because it sums up the premise of the story pretty quickly and there is not much delay before Adam Warlock (played by Will Poulter) is introduced. The character was teased in the post-credit scene of the second Guardians movie and was also shown in the trailers of GotG3. The encounter with Warlock leaves Rocket wounded and, because of his genetic modifications, the Guardians are unable to heal him. They are forced to go in search of the file on Rocket in order to save his life.</p> <p>That search leads them to Rocket's creator, the High Evolutionary—hereafter referred to as HE. And HE means business. Portrayed by Chukwudi Iwuji, HE sees himself as a visionary, and that allows him to destroy entire civilisations without second thoughts and continue his pursuit of perfection. Iwuji's performance deserves special praise, but some of the dialogue could have been better. All the other performances, too, are good. A quick shout out to Sean Gunn, the director's brother, who is back as Kraglin, but now wielding Yondu's arrow. However, it has to be said the cast was put in great positions to deliver stellar performances because of how the characters have been developed since the first Guardians movie in 2014.&nbsp;</p> <p>The humour is effortless. The same cannot be said for other recent MCU movies such as Thor: Love and Thunder, in which forced jokes failed to land. But, again, there is a strong foundation in place. GotG3 also managed to move beyond the razzmatazz and has genuinely well-executed emotional scenes. The music continues to be good. And the fight choreography and special effects have been executed with the usual flair.&nbsp;</p> <p>It remains to be seen whether Marvel can lure Gunn back from DC. But, for now, it is safe to say that Gunn has said his goodbye in grand style. He did that by completely ignoring Marvel Studio's grand plan and making his own movie, which is, undoubtedly, the best MCU movie since&nbsp;<i>Avengers: Endgame</i>&nbsp;(2019). GotG3 is a must-watch for anyone who has ever enjoyed this genre of movies. If you have fallen out of love with the genre in recent years, the Guardians might just hook you back in.</p> <p><b>Film: Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 3</b></p> <p><b>Language: English</b></p> <p><b>Director: James Gunn</b></p> <p><b>Cast: Chris Pratt, Chukwudi Iwuji, Bradley Cooper (voice), Pom Klementieff, Dave Bautista, Karen Gillan, Zoe Saldaña, Vin Diesel (voice), Will Poulter, Sean Gunn</b></p> <p><b>Rating: 4.5/5</b></p> <p><br> <br> </p> Fri May 05 17:49:07 IST 2023 2018-review-malayalam-movie-kerala-floods-indeed-everyone-is-a-hero <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>It has been said that the memories that you wish to forget are the toughest to leave behind. For every Keralite, the year 2018 is one they wish to forever put away.</p> <p>However, the death and devastation that the August of 2018 brought along in the form of rain fury and subsequent floods are hard to forget, especially for those who suffered the loss of dear ones. The only possible takeaway from this great agony has perhaps been the realisation that when pushed to a corner by a force that is impossible to tame, the state and its people tend to possess the indomitable spirit and altruism to fight back as one formidable unit.</p> <p>It is this spirit of courage that <i>2018: Everyone is a Hero</i> seeks to celebrate.</p> <p>Disaster thrillers are among the least explored genre of movies in Mollywood (save for <i>Malayankunju</i> in recent times), or Indian cinema for that matter. Possibly for a good reason. It is hard to sit through an hour or two of absolute mayhem and near-hopelessness that crush the human spirit even when you know the darkest hour will pass for those whom you root for, and there is, in all likelihood, light at the end of the tunnel.</p> <p>Directed by Jude Anthany Joseph and starring an ensemble cast, including Tovino Thomas, Kunchacko Boban, Aparna Balamurali, Asif Ali, Lal, Kalaiyarasan, and Vineeth Sreenivasan among others,<i> 2018</i> recounts the days of death and misery that the rains and floods brought along, even as it pays tribute to ordinary men and women whose heroics need to be cherished forever. Joseph has been the man behind a few feel-gooders (<i>Om Shanthi Oshana</i>, <i>Sara</i>), but he leaves his comfort zone to come up with a decently crafted disaster thriller that has plenty of hair-raising moments.</p> <p>The movie begins by recalling the great flood of '99, even as it focuses on the daily lives of a few ordinary men and women in various parts of the state and elsewhere. The reality of rain means something different to each of these—for the fisherfolk, it is the season of scarcity and danger; for some it reminds of the school days and cosy, wet June and the months that follow, and for some others it is another season of moving to a relief camp.</p> <p>In the first act, you see several such ordinary people, and it even gets tad boring and artificial as there are too many characters to keep track of—there is a deserter who realised that the dangerous Army job isn’t for him and wants to land a job in Dubai, an aspiring model who is not too proud of his fishermen family, a Tamilian who despises Keralites, an NRI youngster whose marriage appears to be crumbling, a reporter who seems to have a sense of what is coming, a sibling rivalry, a blind grocery store owner, a Polish couple and a crafty taxi driver, and many more. But you know what fate has in store for all these men and women who go about, taking each day as it comes.</p> <p>And when it comes, it is brutal, and almost nobody is prepared for it. The director does not want to project the rain fury as the 'revenge of Gaia' and give a commentary on the same as movies in this genre often tend to do. Neither is his focus on the state machinery that managed to rise to the challenge despite the initial stupefaction. The film is a tribute to the sheer triumph of the will, coupled with the innate altruistic inclination of people to be empathetic in the face of a catastrophe.</p> <p>Of course as the water begins to rise, you know what is to come because most Keralites have been part of it in one way or another. The timid deserter would eventually turn heroic, the youngsters who were often scolded for being too busy with their phones would use their tech skills to coordinate rescue operations, the fisherfolks would turn superheroes.... While the deaths, desperation, and destruction that the floods bring along are hard to watch, the triumphs of the unlikely heroes comfort you.</p> <p>Most of the actors come up with fine performances, especially in the third act. Tovino as the timid youngster who manages to win the hearts of those who used to mock him, Sudheesh as the man trapped in a house along with his family, and Kalaiyarasan as the man caught in a moral quandary, stand out.</p> <p>The director and his team, especially the art department and cinematographer Akhil George, do a great job in recreating the floods and subsequent ruination without resorting to the frequent use of found footage. The background score makes the torment and anguish all the more atmospheric and real.</p> <p>The movie’s tagline says it all. This isn’t the story of extraordinary people; this is the story of, and tribute to, ordinary people who became extraordinary because of their willingness to risk their lives for total strangers.</p> <p><b>Film: 2018</b></p> <p><b>Director: Jude Anthany Joseph</b></p> <p><b>Cast: Tovino Thomas, Kunchacko Boban, Aparna Balamurali, Asif Ali, Lal, Kalaiyarasan, Vineeth Sreenivasan</b></p> <p><b>Rating 3.5/5</b></p> <p><br> <br> </p> Fri May 05 15:38:15 IST 2023