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Movie Review: Badlapur (2015)

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Cast: Varun Dhawan, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Huma Qureshi, Yami Gautam, Divya Dutta, Vinay Pathak

Director: Sriram Raghavan

Music: Sachin-Jigar

Lyrics: Priya Panchal

badlapur movie

Dark, twisted, emotional dramas have been my thing for time immemorial. The complexity of human character has always intrigued me, so when Badlapur promos began airing, I knew I had to watch it. The only other such movie that I have seen recently is Ugly, which, by the way, was awesome. But that’s another story.

Badlapur is a revenge story and before you lift your hand towards your moth to stop that yawn, let me clarify that it is a tad bit more than what it has been meant out to be. It is not just a revenge movie but it plays amazingly well with the two sides of human character, good and bad that we are often uncomfortable to bring out in the open. Raghav (Varun Dhawan) is a simple, suave young professional who suddenly finds his world crumbling down when his wife and son are murdered in a bank robbery gone wrong. Blinded by his pain, loneliness and angst, he is driven towards vengeance. Though the culprit is apprehended, it takes multiple screen minutes and more layers than that to reveal the beauty in this thriller. Liak (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) claims he is not the one who killed Raghav’s family, so with blood in his eyes, Raaghav vouches to find the real accused, hunt him down and avenge the murder of his lovely wife and little son.

Image result for badlapur scenesThe characters are all grey and unlike the clear demarcation of the characters of the protagonists and antagonists that we are so used to viewing on the silver screen in India. Therefore, it becomes quite unpredictable to judge the characters’ next move. Varun Dhawan’s portrayal of a man driven to insanity for want of revenge is vulnerable initially, intimidating gradually and terrifying eventually. He displays utmost maturity playing an array of emotions from love, compassion, angst, rage and submission. Nawazuddin shines in his portrayal of a ruthless and crude murderer who is naïve as well. For love and to eliminate his poverty, he goes to any extent to make his life work his way. The sheer brilliance with which he carries off his character makes us place our trust in the future of the Hindi film industry, a little bit more.

Image result for badlapur scenesSupported ably by Huma Qureshi, Divya Dutta, Yami Gautam, Ashwini Kalsekar and Vinay Pathak, this thrilling and chilling narrative rises in the second half after a brilliantly crafted first half. Each character meticulously designed not just for support but also to bring out the true colours of the narrative. Cinematography by Anil Mehta and editing by Pooja Ladha Surti makes this thriller dark, intense and served cold, laced deliciously with the warmth of emotions. The brilliance of the screenplay makes the minor flaws in the direction insignificant.

Badlapur is bold, unlike so many other movies that are unable to draw the line between mainstream and parallel cinema. This one stands on its own. Power packed, fluid, warm, cold blooded, hard…all rolled into one. This one completely reminded me of Raghavan’s Ek Hasina Thi which was on the same lines….you know, the blurred line between good and evil.   If this is the kind of cinema we are hoping to experience this year then we surely are in for better days for Hindi cinema. Let’s just touch wood and keep our fingers crossed!

This review was first published in 2015 at What’s Up Life here:

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Movie Review- Lipstick Under My Burkha

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Cast: Ratna Pathak Shah, Konkona Sensharma, Aahana Kumra, Plabita Borthakur, Vikrant Massey, Sushant Singh, Shashank Arora, Jagat Singh Solanki, Sonal Jha

Director: Alankrita Shrivastava

Music: Zebunnisa Bangash, Mangesh Dhakde

Image result for lipstick under my burkha poster

This movie was touted to be the flagbearer of feminism. With its ‘in your face’ propaganda and its revolt against the much hated (for sincere movie watchers) CBFC, this one was on our must watch ever since we heard about it. Especially, when a much talked about movie is directed by a debut woman director, one’s expectation tends to soar sky high. Finally, when the movie saw the light of the day it was not any less than the middle finger shown to the detractors. Whether it was able to make the statement it had marched out to, still remains a question.


Image result for lipstick under my burkha poster

Lipstick Under My Burkha is a story of four women from different generations living in an overcrowded settlement in Bhopal. Buaji/Usha (Ratna Pathak Shah) is a middle-aged widow who owns a business and some rented houses in the area. She is necessarily the matriarch everyone looks up to. Shireen (Konaka Sen Sharma) is a mother of three who is an ambitious sales girl (on the verge of being promoted) but has been reduced to a baby making machine by her husband (Sushant Singh). Leela (Aahana Kumra) is a beautician who has big city dreams but her plans never seem to find fruition. Rihana (Plabita Borthakur) is the college going kid who is dying to find her voice, quite literally, from behind her burkha. Apart from these characters, we have Leela’s lover played by Vikrant Massey, Sonal Jha as Leela’s mother, Shashank Arora as Rihana’s boyfriend and Jagat Singh as Buaji’s swimming coach.


Image result for lipstick under my burkha posterWhat worked for the movie was perhaps a few of its scenes that tried to bring out the characters as individuals who wanted to either break free or were trying to rediscover themselves. Buaji’s scene where she is trying to remember her name, Usha (since she’s been Buaji for so many years), is one particular scene that makes you empathize with her and her lost identity. Rihana’s full blown “Jeans ka haq, jeene ka haq” was a slogan that stuck out particularly making the movie show short-lived sparks of greatness. Leela selling off her bike, which necessarily was a symbol of her freedom, was another eye damper. Shireen’s failed attempt to reach out to her husband and share the news of her promotion was something we can totally associate with. The movie may have set out to create an image of some path-breaking slogans, yet it never resurrects itself on its own.


Image result for lipstick under my burkhaWhat pulls the whole movie down are the sex scenes. All these scenes were tasteless in every way, devoid of any human emotions. What the heck, they were plain crass, to say the least- shot in the most tactless way. We may give some benefit of doubt to the director due to the various cuts that made the narrative jump from one scene to another. Nevertheless, the four main protagonists never came out of the shadow of their character to make them their own. Brilliant actors like Ratna Pathak Shah and Konkana Sen Sharma failed to bring out their own credibility to the characters they portrayed. The intersecting stories of the ladies was more superficial than profound, which it essentially begged for. The menfolk in the movie were mere props to symbolize misogyny and had rare opportunity to bring out the faults with their own characters. The mutual connect between the main characters is not evident barring one or two abrupt sequences, that should have brought out the soul of the subject. When the platter is large and there are mini portions of a zillion things, you really can’t decide how each of the morsels tasted.


Image result for lipstick under my burkhaYes, patriarchy needs to fail. Yes, feminism needs a chance. Yes, we all must speak about it. Yes, we all must learn to surface from injustice. Yes, the women have a right to explore and express their sexuality. Yes, women’s voice must be heard and acknowledged. Shouting slogans from roof-tops may not be the way chosen by the makers to raise this concern. But the women will not even find their voice passing around a fag and smoking rings in the face of the society, either. Even though the movie never attempts to find solutions (which is okay, by the way) but it never even creates a statement. It looks and sounds like a cheap flyer we are handed out on railway stations.


Related imageWhat could have been a brilliant attempt at using art to announce to the world that women are breathing, living, fantasizing, dreaming, passionate human beings, turns to be an inane attempt at glorifying the everyday struggles of women. Alankrita succeeds in making a meme of a subject that is so close to the heart of millions of women in the country. In the end, it’s as good as the cheap, tactless, directionless and tasteless novels Buaji reads to let go of her fantasies.

Completely underwhelmed by this experience!

Here’s a preview of what to expect:


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Movie Review- Okja (2017)

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Movie Review: Okja (2017)

Cast: Ahn Seo-hyun, Tilda Swinton, Jake Gyllenhaal, Paul Dano, Steven Yeun, Lily Collins

Director: Bong Joon-ho

Music: Jaeil Jung

So, when I heard that Okja was not celebrated at Cannes Film Festival (Oh, it has a Netflix tag) we were as much surprised as sorry for them. Because this is the kind of movie that we need more often, at liberal intervals, to show a mirror to the skewed power of humans over other beings, to be able to witness how the world will be deprived of all the love and to be able to observe how power hungry, wealthy businessmen do not look beyond the gold that can be offered. In fact, to testify how human greed will dispossess the world of its innocence- Okja is a reminder that we must stop now!


The story begins where Lucy Mirando (Tilda Swinton) establishes to the press (and the world) how her multi-national company has discovered (in reality, genetically engineered) a pig-like creature that they have bred and sent to 26 countries to be raised by local farmers over a span of 10 years. One such Superpig is raised by 14 year old Mija ( Ahn Seo-hyun) with her grandfather in the picturesque mountains of South Korea. The creature called Okja is a companion, pet, friend, sibling, confidante, savior and parent all rolled into one for Mija. She feeds Okja, cleans her teeth, whispers secrets in her ears and sleeps with her. The animal is massive with her body like a baby elephant and mannerisms like a dog. Her life seems to be going good until Mija is told by her grandfather that the swine is to be taken away to New York as it is the property of the multi-national company led by Nancy Mirando.


There is a contract Mija has no idea about where Okja is to be displayed, commoditised and eventually slaughtered for consumption but she does not seem to be consoled by her grandfather’s gift- a golden pig. When Mija realizes that her friend Okja has been carried away by the previously famous zoologist Dr. Johnny Wilcox (Jake Gyllenhaal) to New York for a pageant where Okja is to be exhibited, she sets out to bring Okja back. Her single-minded resolve brings her from South Korea to New York where she is reunited with her pet. Along the way she encounters the ALF (Animal Liberation Foundation) who are supposed to rescue caged animals, but with their own skewed agenda and mismanaged intent, they fail her as well. Anyhow, before Mija can take Okja back home, she has to witness the heart wrenching, gut churning display of how animals are slaughtered and converted for consumption. As much as the young girl is scarred, we as audience experience the abysmal shape of the world we have fostered for our benefits.


The director Bong Joon-ho manages to create a believable animal in Okja, of course, where CGI has played its part beautifully but never for once does the inanimate puppet seem unbelievable. The close shots of the animal’s eyes are beautiful and they seem to be speaking and understanding and explaining more than we can fathom. Though some of the sub-plots seem confusing and mismatched, yet the overall treatment is effective. The loopholes could have been filled by brilliant acting but some of the characters were half-polished like that of Dr. Wilcox (Jake Gyllenhall), who seems more clowning than convincing. His on-screen diminishing popularity and the way it has affected him to be trapped in the madcap corporation lacked the empathy that it required. Also, Jay (Paul Dano) the leader of ALF had limited premise to establish the conviction of his ambition. Lucy/Nancy Mirando (Tilda Swinton) emerges as the most hated character but her eccentricity is not full blown and therefore, she remains just ‘a villain’ and may not be remembered for the character that she is made out to be.


In spite of all its flaws, the movie wins. And the credit goes to the skillful, expressive, endearing and brave performance of Mija (Ahn Seo-hyun). The young actress makes a full-on attempt to display her affection and trust not just to Okja but to the script as well. The action/chase/heist sequence she is a part of in South Korea is beautifully shot and wonderfully captured, with John Denver’s “You fill up my senses” in the background. Therefore, a simple chase scene raises itself to the life purpose of the little girl. Her performance in the climax is commendable, where her simple one liner “I want to buy Okja, alive”, sums up this beautifully ruthless saga. We know she is going to go home safe and happy…and a little grown up. Because, in spite of what she has witnessed, she is willing to adopt another creature because she can. Now, that’s brave!


This is a story of mutual trust, between a human and an animal. That the movie aspires to fashion a similar trust between humans and how important that really is to sustain the world is how this one must be received. Okja’s escape does not guarantee that the slaughterhouses will shut shop but its is a message that killing is not justified, even if it’s just a voiceless animal. Here’s a peek into what must be expected:



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Movie Review : Mom

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Cast: Sridevi, Sajal Ali, Adnan Siddiqui, Akshaye Khanna, Nawazuddin Siddiqui (Special Appearance), Abhimanyu Singh

Director: Ravi Udyawar

Music: A.R. Rahman

Image result for movie mom poster

A mother loves her child like no other. So if a mother decides to love her child as much as to decide what is wrong and what is extremely wrong, she knows what she must chose in order to make things right for their child. This movie is just that and does not pretend to come out and cleanse the whole society of its menace. Comparing it to other movies that take the core of the theme and educate the society to fight against injustice would only dilute the substance this one is made of. Ravi Udyawar knows what he is doing with this story and he delivers just that. No path breaking formula, no screaming from rooftops to help remove dirt from the society, no candle marches, no courtroom dramas. A simple story of a mother and a daughter and the lengths at which the mother goes to make her daughter feel safe.


Devaki (Sridevi) is a biology school teacher and a doting mother of two daughters. Her eldest, Arya (Sajal Ali), is her step daughter and a relationship of trust is missing between the two, in spite of many attempts made my the mother. Anand (Adnan Siddiqui), the father, makes every possible attempt to bring them closer. But there are bigger challenges that the family needs to face when Arya is gang raped and thrown out of a moving car in a gutter, left there to die. Devki and Anand struggle to find justice in the court of law, when on the basis of Arya’s statement all the perpetrators are caught by the police, led by Inspector Matthew Francis (Akshaye Khanna). When the criminals are acquitted due to lack of evidence, Devki seeks help from a small time Private Investigator DK (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) to bring justice to the them in her own way.


We have seen many revenge dramas and some of them even close to this subject ( We hear Matr, starring Raveena Tandon, is the same premise) but the screenplay here is treated so well that it makes it a riveting watch. Sridevi carries the movie on her frail shoulders bravely. Her performance is measured and her delivery effective. When she is a loving mother, her body oozes love, when she is sad, her eyes draw you in her sorrow and when she is anguished, you weep with her. And that is what makes Devki’s character every mother, because she is all that a mother must. Like when she makes her husband understand that they need not counsel their child but simply understand them, when she says after the ‘accident’ that no one knows what feels, when she breaks down in the hospital after her daughter’s accident. Even though Sridevi takes years to sign a movie, she proves yet again that her histrionics are not to be undermined. She rules the roost in the performance department, today as well.


Even though Sridevi carries the movie efficiently, it is Nawazuddin Siddiqui who shines throughout. He has been credited with a special performance and no doubt it was ‘special’ indeed, because we can’t see any other actor pulling off the DK character with such conviction and natural ease. Nawazuddin has not only studied the character but has read through each movement, each nuance of the character which speaks when he delivers the dialogue and which speaks even when he does not. The made-up look of the character could have turned caricaturish but for Nawaz’s robust and sharp articulation, that makes it one of the most memorable of his characters played ever. The performances from other actors is in equal measure to what has been expected of them. Akshaye in his small-ish appearance is underutilised but impressive, and Adnan in Anand’s character is a perfect fit. Abhimanyu Singh only appears towards the end (majorly) but makes his presence felt. What does not work for the movie, possibly, is the predictable climax of the movie but then we don’t see it going any other way.


The problem with debut directors who claim a six with strike one is that you tend to raise your expectations from them the next time over. Nevertheless, we hope Ravi Udyawar continues displaying responsibility, sensitivity and bravery in his future ventures as well. An extra special mention to the music composed by A.R.Rahman. Now you may not be reaching out for this movie’s music album ….you know, just to listen. This movie’s music is a character in itself. The emotions created with every beat, every tune, every voice embrace the narrative like they own it and make the viewer transpose alongwith. The background score in the scene post interval when Devki is walking through dyed clothes in shades of red and yellow, fluttering in the breeze, makes you stand up for her and by her side. Applause!! Irshad Kamil’s words shine through like “Kholenge-kholenge bahon ka ghera, Jo chahe kar le andhera, Suraj jaisa khilta chehra”. The lyrics are subtle and untainted just like Devki’s love for her daughter.


Strength, resilience and grit are the core of the movie and if you are expecting it to deliver a message that will change the social fabric of the country then you would be disappointed.  Mom is a silent prayer that no mother ever has to resort to anything that Devki does. The silent sobs inside the theater from all corners were a testimony to just that. If this emotion is enough for you to celebrate this movie for being just that, then go out and watch it. It is for every mother, every father and every young adult. Take a peek here:

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5 Young ‘Bad Guys’ in Commercial Bollywood Cinema

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For years villains have been an integral part of our movies. Even though the protagonists in our Hindi films have always had the last laugh, yet it is the antagonist that makes them look larger than life. Since years now, the antagonists in our movies have evolved like no other character has. While the heroes’ characters are more or less cut out from the same skin, it is the antagonist’s character that has changed many a garb, many a persona, many a mode. All these years we have had some baddies, the names of whom have been etched in our memories. These characters have been able to leave a lasting impression in our minds with the likes of Kancha Cheena, Gabbar Singh, Mogambo, Shakaal, ‘Loin’ and so many more. In fact the evolution of the baddies has made the film writers challenge themselves to chalk out characters that can be bigger than the heroes.

Now we all know that the bigger the villain, the sweeter is the revenge that the hero succeeds in getting. That’s the fodder that audience relishes the most. In spite of how powerful the baddie is depicted in the movies, the hero must be able to succeed and yet all the strength, all the manpower, all the grandeur that the villain accumulates; everything gets diminished by the much loved hero. This not only makes the audience feel that they must and they can overcome the negative in their lives but also creates an ‘out there’ character that needs to be squashed. Nevertheless, over the years, baddies have evolved into people who are not developed as the larger than life persona with added histrionics, but people who are almost like the hero with just a streak of negative that needs more of a psychological strength to defeat than physical. Having said that, it is difficult to ignore that as the heroes beefed up to take on their role as the defeater, the villains beefed up too, in order to match up the strength. In the recent years, we have noticed some superb villains who have matched up to our heroes in every way and have emerged a winner with their performances on screen.


Who would have thought that after a blink and miss appearance in the film ‘Stanley ka Dabba’, Vidyut will emerge as a force to reckon with in his debut movie ‘Force’. More than John it was Vidyut’s muscle power that was talked about in the movie. That year, Vidyut got nominated for almost all the awards for his debut. Now, we don’t just have an action hero here, we have a stuntman who is a league of his own. With having learnt Kalaripayattu since the age of 3, Vidyut is pretty proficient in various other forms of martial arts and is now focusing on Anti Gravity Yoga and Suspension TRX as a part of his workout regime. With the movie ‘Commando’, Vidyut established himself as the new age action actor who did not use a body double or cables for his stunts in the movie.

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Bestowed with good looks, Vidyut has made his presence felt in movies like ‘Bullet Raja’ and the Tamil movie ‘Thuppakki’. With successful appearances in Tamil and Telugu films, Vidyut is now busy with ‘Commando 2’ and ‘Yaara’ along with a few other projects. This vegetarian hunk is a promoter of healthy living and runs an initiative to teach self-defense techniques to women. We surely are looking forward to seeing him more on screen in 2016-17.


Tahir made a swift, smooth entry into the baddie world after making his screen debut with ‘Kismat Love Paisa Dilli’. He also made a brief appearance in ‘Kai Po Che!’ and ‘One by Two’, but it was his official film (baddie) debut with ‘Mardaani’, where Tahir made his presence felt in the most chilling way. Mardaani gave us a character, Karan Rastogi, who was ideal for women’s despise. Playing a human trafficking kingpin, he brought down chills along the spine with his psychotic representation that was loosely inspired from the American series Breaking Bad. His persona on screen was so intimidating that in spite of his good looks he was hated like no other. Without displaying any muscle power he was able to terrorize the audience by his sheer presence on screen.

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The character fetched him a Filmfare Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor and many other accolades like “The Times hotlist ’14” in the best actor in a negative role category and he won the best actor in a negative role at the Screen Awards. Currently Tahir is busy with shooting for another negative role in John Abraham and Sonakshi Sinha starrer Force 2 (scheduled 2016) and Kushan Nandy’s action thriller, Babumoshai Bandookbaaz alongside Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Chitrangda Singh (scheduled 2016-17). While we wait for him back on the screen, keep your eyes open for this firebrand performer.


Fashion-model turned actor, Freddy Daruwala is the face of the head, sleeper cells, in the A R Murugadoss’ ‘Holiday’, in a role that was played by Vidyut Jamwal in the Tamil movie Thupakki. Though the role of the terrorist was cut out to depict the new modern face of terror, the portrayal fell a little short. Yet, Freddie did not fail to impress. His good looks and sincere rendering of the role of a terrorist comes through.

Bad Guy 3

Freddie won First Runners Up of Haywards Mr. India World and is deemed to be one of Manish Malhotra’s favourite fashion models. His modeling days and struggle to get him into acting brought him to play Sexy Sam in a lesser-known Punjabi film “Mummy Punjabi”. Though that’s a role he is rather embarrassed of, yet that is not the end. He is now looking forward to playing some positive characters and seeks to establish himself as a hero in the industry. We certainly do wish him luck!


Sudheer Babu is a former Badminton player and the brother-in-law of Telugu actor Mahesh Babu. He made his debut as a leading hero in Telugu Film Industry with the movie ‘Siva Manasulo Sruthi’. After Sajid Nadiawala’s team, who watched his stunts and work out personal videos in YouTube noticed him; he was approached to play the antagonist in the Tiger Shroff starrer ‘Baaghi’. His well-chiseled and bulky physique made him a worthy opponent to Tiger Shroff who is at his fittest best.

Bad Guy 4

Sudheer also got to showcase his Kalaripayattu moves in the film that were exceptionally choreographed. Sudheer had ample scope to display his histrionics as well, but he refrained from creation a caricatured version of the villain. And that is a mark of a balanced actor. Sudheer is now poised to take on very many assignments in the Hindi movies as well and we do hope to see him more often.


Of the above, Nikitin Dheer seems to have tasted success the most as an antagonist in the movies. Debuting with ‘Jodha Akbar’ playing Sharifuddin, he was instantly noticed what with his good looks and his delivery and well built frame. ‘Mission Istanbul’ came next and here as well Nikitin made his presence felt, even though the movie did not fare well.

Nikitin Dheer

With ‘Ready’ and ‘Dabangg 2’ he definitely garnered more praise as the villain with the most muscle but it was his portrayal as the main antagonist, Tangaballi, in ‘Chennai Express’ that established him well in the industry. His robust frame and on screen presence was well appreciated. In fact, that the slightly built SRK beat him up in the climax scene was rather hilariously unbelievable. Well, as they say anything is possible in Bollywood. Nevertheless, we wish to see Nikitin achieve many more milestones in the Hindi films.


This post was first published on High On Films.

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Movie Review: Dhanak

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Cast: Hetal Gadda, Krrish Chhabria, Vipin Sharma, Gulfam Khan, Vibha Chibber, Vijay Maurya
Director: Nagesh Kukunoor
Music: Tapas Relia


There’s always one thing that you can expect from Nagesh Kukunoor and that is a story that would make you smile. If Dor was the kind of movie that made your heart warm then Dhanak is the one that will totally melt it. This story of a brother-sister duo takes your heart away right from the beginning where the premise is set to have the eyesight restored for the boy as promised by his sister, before his ninth birthday. Yes, that’s what the whole story is about! Nevertheless, from here to there, this is a journey not just across miles through the desert that the duo undertake to conclude their mission but a journey of emotions and experiences, that they gather along the way. A journey that changes their lives forever.


D1Pari (Hetal Gadda) and Chhotu (Krrish Chhabra) are orphaned when Chhotu was just 4 years old and now they live with their Uncle (Vipin Sharma) and aunt in rural Rajasthan. Chhotu is vision impaired since then and his sister suggests that he would get his vision back by his ninth birthday, which is just around the corner. When Pari suggests this to Chhotu, little does she know how this would ever happen but once when she sees her idol Shah Rukh Khan on an eye donation poster, she believes it is he who can help them. As soon as she gets to know that the actor is shooting somewhere in Rajasthan, almost 300 kilometres away, they set out to meet him and have their mission accomplished. This journey takes them to various places and they get to meet an assortment of characters, some who help them and some, well….who don’t. How a little girl manages to keep her promise to her brother and keeps her resolve alive inspite of adversity is the story of Dhanak.


D2Just like Dhanak (rainbow) has many colours, we witness various shades in this one as well. It is the camaraderie of the lead child actors that binds this well written story and keeps your interest alive till the end. The various other colours are brought in by the supporting cast who are well placed and earnest in their portrayal. The child actors show tremendous chemistry throughout the movie. It is not their portrayal of hugging each other or declaring their love for each other or over the top emotional spectacle, but the cute little bickering that they have-whether over their likeness for their respective Bollywood idol or simply their contrasting individuality- that makes this movie a delightful experience. Pari, the angel, is that sweet little optimistic bubble who only knows how to look upwards and Chhotu is the mighty spirited cherub who does not let his disability define him in any way. While on their journey they do have forked viewpoints, but they do manage to come to a safe conclusion, nevertheless.


D3Even though the fable is more on the verge of reality it still focuses on how fairytales can come true with a little bit of will power, fearlessness, benign intentions and innocent imagination. Nagesh Kukunoor has been able to bring out the child characters so beautifully that you are bound to feel the magic that ensues throughout. With the tiny little messages sprinkled throughout the narrative, like, ‘believe in others‘, ‘trust your instincts‘, ‘look inwards for magic‘, you, as an audience, are forced to evaluate your own beliefs as you practice in today’s world. Their infectious goodness and well spirited humour makes you smile at their banter, support and strength. Rajasthan has been brought to vivid character by the rustic and realistic cinematography of Chirantan Das. The music from Tapas Relia is honest just like the movie and forms an extension to the beautiful narrative.
This is story-telling at its best- surely Nagesh Kukunoor is a gem at it (Dor is other brilliant example). It is simple without being simplistic, it is a feel-good adventure without being rickety, it is dazzling without being disconcerting. This one surely has its heart in its right place and promises you ample smiles even as you walk away from the auditorium. Do watch it with your whole family- they deserve it!
Here’s why:

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Movie Review: Baaghi- A Rebel For Love

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Cast: Tiger Shroff, Shraddha Kapoor, Sudheer Babu, Sunil Grover
Director: Sabbir Khan
Music: Amaal Mallik, Meet Bros, Ankit Tiwari, Manj Musik, Julius Packiam


When you are an action loving cine-goer and something like Kalaripayattu, Kung Fu and bone breaking action is served then there is  nothing that can stop you from loving this one. Obviously a no-brainer, this baaghi3one does not intend to bring any thing new for the audience in terms of story/script/screenplay however there is entertainment bharpoor. From the initial shot to the end, the movie belongs to Tiger and his sincerity comes through in every shot.


While watching the movie, I was constantly reminded of Kung Fu Panda (the first outing) where Po, the most unlikely of the Kung Fu master comes to learn from Master Shifu and how he turns around to becoming the best at what he’s there for, while Tai Lung, the previous favourite remains a foe. Now here as well Ronnie (Tiger Shroff), an arrogant lad, comes to learn Kalaripayattu from his teacher/guru who baaghi4teaches him in ways that Shifu adopted as well and when he becomes proficient, he learns that there is a Tai Lung he is required to fight with, who took his strength for granted. Along the way comes Sia (Shradhha Kapoor) who is obsessed with rain and finds instances to meet with Ronnie over and over again while on the sidelines there is Raghav (Sudheer Babu) who falls for her charms as well and wishes to win her over even of it means kidnapping her and taking her off to Bangkok.


Ronnie takes it upon himself to bring Sia back from the clutches of Raghav after fighting and crashing the massive army of fighters the latter has. The first half of the movie fizzes past with song and dance sequences and showcasing the skills material arts has taught baaghi5Ronnie, but the second half is primarily where Ronnie gets to exercise his strength. It is amazing how a beaten to death story (since Ramayan era!), unimpressive dialogues, non-convincing emotions and distorted sequence of events still keeps you hooked on to your seat. The credit solely goes to the histrionics displayed by Ronnie on screen with utter sincerity. And oh, by the way, e also get to see Sia throw in some punches just like Tigress in Kung Fu Panda!


baaghi6Shabbir Khan does not deviate from the masala formula and gives us a movie that is half baked but Tiger Shroff’s hard work and grit sails it through. Tiger has shown immense growth since his debut (and his last release) and he does his best in this tailor made role. The craft that he displays in the action sequences is well choreographed and Tiger moves like a well rehearsed dancer. His moves are lyrical and crisp. He makes all the high end stunts look like a child’s play and that’s the beauty. If there is one this that we would want more from him is to see him emote well. Nevertheless, Tiger surrects a movie that would have otherwise dwindled. Having said that, I would not ignore the hard work put in by the rest of the cast as well. Sudheer Babu looks menacing as the antagonist. And it is always a bonus if the villain stands as tall as the hero of the movie and Sudheer barely fails at that.


The music of the movie is a mixed bag and only some of the songs like Cham Cham, Sab Tera and Agar Tu Hota are worth a mention. The cinematography is great throughout the movie, whether it is Kerala or Krabi. If you are still guessing whether you should watch this one or not, well, our only opinion is that if action is your thing, you would enjoy it. Here’s proof:


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Movie Review: The Jungle Book

Published / by moviemassala / 7 Comments on Movie Review: The Jungle Book
Cast: Neel Sethi, Ben Kingsley, Bill Murray, Christopher Walken, Idris Elba, Scarlett Johansson, Lupita Nyong’o
Director: Jon Favreau
Music: John Debney
Book adaptations are always a challenge, nevertheless, this remake of  the 1967 classic of the same name, is one of the best we have seen in the recent times. Nostalgia overpowering, when we walked into the theatre to watch this movie, we were expecting to meet friends we had left behind somewhere in the childhood. Those familiar voices, those familiar characters, the familiar story, the familiar jungle came rushing back. And we embraced it with the similar warmth that we felt every time “Jungle-Jungle baat chali hai” played in the distance.
TJB2One might argue, how a repeated classic can rake up the same emotions every  time. Well, my friend, that’s the magic created by Rudyard Kipling almost 100 years back that ceases to diminish its effect on young minds. The story is so relatable and inspiring that you are forced to pay attention to every minute detail on screen. Not only is the CGI to perfection but the cast of characters seems to fit the bill perfectly as well. Jon Favreau has ensured that some of the best voices are cast so as to leave a lasting memory of the characters. With the nostalgia factor riding high with this one, not much has been ruffled in the screenplay (I liked that Ka was given a female voice, inspite of the character being male in the original).
TBJ3The centre of attraction, naturally, is Mowgli which is played by Neel Sethi in the most adorable act. Neel has been able to bring Mowgli to life as if the role has been written for him. He not only acts well, but his comfort with the camera is amazing. Not even once do you feel that this is his debut outing. The courage, the humour, the innocence that the character required is projected so very well by him. We’re sure, good projects coming his way would be done with great justice by him in the future as well. The voice of Ben Kingsley as Bagheera is quite commanding. He is the one who is the mentor/guide in Mowgli’s life and shares wisdom with him like “If you can’t learn to run with the pack, one of these days you’ll be someone’s dinner.” Baloo with the voice of Bill Murray is the one who shows the fun side of the jungle to Mowgli. Nevertheless, he has his own share of wisdom to share with him, “They want to send you to the man-village? I say, you can be a man right here!” And the song by Terry Gilkyson between them “The Bare Necessities” is great, especially because it is sung by the artistes themselves.
TJB1The other artistes did justice to their part as well, like Scarlett Johansson the voice of Ka, Lupita Nyong’o the voice of Raksha and Giancarlo Esposito the voice of Akela but it is the voice of Idris Elba as Shere Khan with that menacing tonality that made for an impressive character. His voice was simply perfect for the air of threat that emanates from Shere Khan. We are a fan of Christopher Walken who plays the voice of King Louie and he surely means business. We are amazed how he takes every character and fits into it so beautifully. King Louie threatens but endears. His ignorance is winsome though he is the one who does his best to destroy Mowgli.
THE JUNGLE BOOKThe action in the movie is amazing too. From the first sequence when Bagheera is chasing Mowgli to when Mowgli is being chased by King Louie in the ancient temple and every other sequence in between, everything looks so surreal. It has a kind of a dreamlike quality to the way the jungle is portrayed. Where the wolves and the other animals gather for a meet, to the trees to the waterfalls to the man-village to the ancient temple, looks like we are one with the characters in the jungle- like the whole of the jungle is a part of our life. Amazing what CGI and animation can do to our world. Much appreciation for the animators and the vision of the director.
The narrative of the story is sprinkled with a great deal of wise lines that can be life-lessons for young children. This one is surely a must watch for kids who get a chance at understanding the epic-ness of this story and for the adults who revisit the treasure of nostalgia that it brings. We hope we have made a strong case for you to go watch it. Here’s what to expect:

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Priyanka Chopra: Stiletto trotting all over the world

Published / by moviemassala / 8 Comments on Priyanka Chopra: Stiletto trotting all over the world

Over the last few years Priyanka Chopra has been taking the international entertainment by storm. She has been creating a niche for herself in an arena that is predominantly white. In spite of how much Hollywood is tolerant of the artistes of colour it has been always a toughie for Indian artistes to make way into mainstream international entertainment. Of course, we have had the likes of Om Puri, Naseeruddin Shah, Neena Gupta, Anil Kapoor, Irrfan Khan and so many others who have exhibited their talent overseas, however, we are yet to see an Indian actor play a female main protagonist in a series or a movie. Priyanka Chopra is well way ahead into making that change, what with her successful appearance in the international entertainment arena.

Priyanka-Chopra-1Emerging from Miss World pageant winner in the year 2000, to a successful career in mainstream Hindi films, to an International singing sensation and finally to a Hollywood heartthrob. She has done it all, one might say. But Priyanka definitely does not stop at just that. She seems to be jet setting across the world to make her footprints visible from the moon. An actress, singer, producer, philanthropist, she dons many hats and yet her head never seem to rest. It is so exciting to see her always on the move, always ready to take on exciting new projects, always keen on joining hands with the best names in the business.

Her reeling success can be attributed to her will to succeed, especially in the times of adversity. We are witness to how she has always risen like a phoenix when the media had written her off, or not so completely. She kicks off to a new journey even before she has completely closed the door behind and that is what makes her a force to reckon with. Jet-setting all over the world she pauses for just a while, seemingly to breathe in just enough to sustain herself and then packs her bags off to gain some more.

Her recent debut as a presenter at the Oscars was one such event that turned the course of her life as an entertainer. That brief stint at the Academy stage made more headlines than her National Award for the film ‘Fashion’, I guess. Her dresses, her demeanor, her coy smile and her overall personality triumph all make her one much sought after personality even in the Hollywood circuits. But she is not at all just that and one might not want to compare her appearance to that of other celebrities on the Cannes Film Festival Red Carpet. Her courage and wit emanates from the way that she walks, talks and manages her liaisons within India and abroad.

Priyanka-Chopra-2That she is a fine actress cannot be refuted either. Her choice of cinema and her body of work speaks volumes about the kind of statement she wants to make for her audience. Even from her earliest remarkable performance in Aitraaz she had carved a space for herself in the industry. Subsequently with films like FashionSaat Khoon Maaf and Barfi she further strengthened her position as a fine actress. Her (not so popular) outing in What’s Your Rashee may not have garnered numbers at the box office but that did not stop the critics from appreciating her work. Her portrayals of 12 different characters, stark from one another, were not only admirable but also evinced that she is capable of pulling off any character on screen. Her physical makeover in Don further helped her create a niche for herself and she was considered as one of the fittest actress in the country. Her appearances in Mujhse Shaadi KarogiKamineyAgneepath made her a favourite to play the girl next-door image. Playing a strong character like Mary Kom, in the movie by the same name, she was able to prove that no feat is tough for her to achieve. She was not only convincing in that role, what with going at length to transform herself physically,but she also gathered great respect from masses and critics alike for her acting prowess. Her recent conquest in Bajirao Mastani made the whole country love her even more.

Her exceptionally varied choice of characters and the roles that she has picked up all the years has made her a favourite for her audience and critics alike. She has had her share of failure as well but she has been able to bounce back ever so strongly, all the time. Taking on new challenges like establishing herself as an international singing sensation was no mean feat. Her being nominated for her single “In My City” at the World Music Awards is a major achievement in itself. Her philanthropic activities as a UNICEF Goodwill ambassador for Child Rights saw her promoting various causes around the globe and she continues to be extremely vocal about women and child issues. She managed to make the whole world sit up and take notice when she grabbed a role in the ABC television series Quantico and became the first South Asian actress to win a People’s Choice Award.

Priyanka-Chopra-3“Nowhere to go but everywhere to be…” when she says this, you just want to nod your head and say, ‘ah well, we know!’ So when she appeared on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon and beat him in the wing-eating contest we were like, ‘wow! that’s our Punjabi kudi’. And that’s just the least bit about her that we are so proud of. She is so much more that just a pretty face and she has been able to prove that time and again with her conquests. She is presently shooting for Quantico and the movie Baywatch (where she plays a negative role) simultaneously and we wonder how she manages all of that, especially when it involves traveling every few days. But that’s who she possibly is. Having all that on the platter and doing much more than what is laid out makes her an achiever all through the way. Her tireless pursuits are just about to yield results now, seemingly.

The government of India just honored her with Padma Shri, the fourth highest civilian award, in 2016 and that is a matter of great pride for this self-made woman. Stiletto trotting all over the world, Priyanka emerges as an accomplished international star. And she seems to have just begun! Go rule the world, girl!

This post was first published on High On Films.

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Movie Review: Kapoor & Sons (Since 1921)

Published / by moviemassala / 3 Comments on Movie Review: Kapoor & Sons (Since 1921)

Cast: Rishi Kapoor, Ratna Pathak Shah, Rajat Kapoor, Fawad Khan, Siddharth Malhotra, Alia Bhatt

Direction: Shakun Batra

Music: Amaal Malik


When life gives you lemons…ah, well. Just be prepared, life is going to give you lemons, in abundance sometimes. This movie out here is one such lemon, which is fresh, fragrant and enjoyable but sometimes gets pretty sour. The story of Kapoor & Sons is the star of the move and the well-placed actors lend much help to elevate the characters they portray in the movie. After Shakun Batra’s last outing (Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu), I was looking forward to this one. Especially, because that was one movie that I thoroughly loved, and have watched multiple times.
k3The story is set in the lush green countryside in Cunnoor where Harsh (Rajat Kapoor) and Sunita (Ratna Pathak Shah) live with the eldest member of the family Mr. Kapoor (Rishi Kapoor) who is practicing playing dead for days. It’s when he suffers a heart attack that the sons Arjun (Sidharth Kapoor) and Rahul (Fawad Khan) come rushing back home from abroad. Rahul is an established writer/author and has a real estate business as well in London. Arjun is a struggling writer who has just quit his job to pursue writing and is presently a bar tender at a New Jersey bar.
k2Now that they are all together under one roof, we get to witness their insecurities, grudges, jealousies and pain. The bickering parents are struggling through a financial crisis and heart break/cheating. The siblings have their own grudges they have not been able to overcome and the granddad is trying to bring the family together, holding on to a wish of having everyone in a single frame titled Kapoor & Sons. On the surface the family drama seems simple but within its complex sub-plots is hidden lies that make the family comfort each other less and confront each other more.
k4Tia (Alia Bhatt) the neighbor is that one piece in this jigsaw that manages to bring them all together is her subtle, chic way. She is like a whiff of fresh breath that brings some light-hearted allure on screen. With her amidst the Kapoors, she manages to play her character just apt to be adored. Fawad playing the ‘perfect’ child of the family makes for a perfect impact and Sidharth with his confused, brooding-self manages to hold his character watertight. Rishi Kapoor is just too charming, even when he is playing a dirty old hag with heavy prosthetics. It is the characters of Ratna and Rajat that held my heart and I could relate to the most. The couple has managed to bring a flickering marriage to life beautifully. Their angst, their negativity, their absurdity, their grief, all shine through beautifully by their portrayal of a couple struggling to get their marriage and family together.
k5As far as the technical aspects go, the cinematography is beautiful especially in exhibiting the lush beauty of Cunnoor and the camera movements during the arguments as the characters shuttle from one room to another is exceptional. The screenplay is faultless as well. Not even for a moment you feel that the scene is off track. The music is likeable too with “Bolna” shining all the way, especially since it played in the background.
With tears and laughs galore, this one is a winner all the way. I am sure Karan Johar is extremely proud of the way the work has turned out. And of course, the message that the movie tries to deliver comes through as well- whether you love them or you hate them, it is the family that binds you, no matter what. And when they are not there, well, that’s when you realise how they hold you together. A must watch with the whole family.
Here’s what to expect:


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