Review: STREE


Na Horror Wale Ghar Ki Na Comedy Wale Ghaat Ki


2.5 stars


Mini Review:


There’s a tale of Chander town of a ‘chudail’ (witch) called ‘Stree’ (woman) who shows up during the four days of the local temple festival and preys on men, taking them and leaving only their clothes behind. A young lad Vicky who’s the local tailor and his two friends get embroiled in the witchy tale and begin suspecting a beautiful visitor who shows up only during the festival. Small town rumors and witty one liners make this horror tale funny, but you come away with a niggling dissatisfaction. Should they have downplayed the humor and raised the horror quotient a bit more? So many possibilities…


Main Review:


Rajkummar Rao is Vicky, the gifted tailor who can measure women just by looking at them. He is in demand. Especially during the temple festival which lasts for four nights, when the women need new clothes. But his town hides a secret: a chudail (witch) called ‘Stree’ (woman) visits their town at the time of the festival. If homes have a message scrawled on their walls, ‘Stree, come back tomorrow’ the homes are safe. But if she finds men alone, she whisks them away, leaving only the clothes behind.


The small town of Chander is brilliantly captured. They do overdo the little touches of small-townness (like the signboard on Vicky’s tailoring shop which says, ‘Azaad Auraton ki Azaad dukaan’ which translates to something like ‘Free women wear this freedom clothing’, and they have a sewing machine enshrined in the shop, garlanded as Indians do to pictures of dead family elders), but the little town is very picturesque, even in its horror.


The horror is terrific. There are bigger possibilities than the filmmakers care to explore. Vicky’s friend Jana (played brilliantly by Abhishek Banerjee) is a boon to horror films. He expresses fear when walking home alone so amazingly, it was fun to watch some newbies in the theater jump out of their skins when he comes face to face with Stree. Aparshakti Khurana as Bittu is wonderful foil to both Vicky and Jana, as the friend who always has ideas about what to do.


But the genius is casting Pankaj Tripathi as Rudra, the man who owns a bookstore, a man so educated he has degrees in every subject you can dream of is the best decision the filmmakers could make. He is so brilliant, he even makes the outrageous claims like: Stree knows everything about all men in town because she has the Aadhar link to all their cards. (Aadhar is like a social security card), and the villagers buy it too. His claim to fame? He has done ‘in depth research’ on the topics of ‘Stree’ and other ‘chudails’ and has books and material enough to see us through the film.


The writing is good, and you see brilliance sometimes. For example, when Jana brags about how deep his thoughts can be, Bittu calls him ‘Pacific Ocean’… The film crackles with one liners and if you understand Hindi the joy is doubled. The trouble comes when they want to add the elements of horror into a script that is more comedy than scary. Shraddha Kapoor shows up and Vicky falls in love with her, but it’s a gaping hole in the script logic when they cannot explain her behaviour or Vicky’s quiet acceptance of her demand for mutton. Village festivals, are observed by everyone as holy, and not even the rowdiest of crowds of young men would not want to incur the wrath of the gods or even ‘Stree’ by inviting a dancing girl, who conveniently walks off when the song is over.

So the film swings from fun to tedious and then piques your interest in the horror and lets it fizzle out, making the whole experience like finding that your expensive coffee is only froth and no brew.



(this review appears on www.nowrunning.com)

Review: STREE


Na Horror Wale Ghar Ki Na Comedy Wale Ghaat Ki


2.5 stars


Mini Review:


There’s a tale of Chander town of a ‘chudail’ (witch) called ‘Stree’ (woman) who shows up during the four days of the local temple festival and preys on men, taking them and leaving only their clothes behind. A young lad Vicky who’s the local tailor and his two friends get embroiled in the witchy tale and begin suspecting a beautiful visitor who shows up only during the festival. Small town rumors and witty one liners make this horror tale funny, but you come away with a niggling dissatisfaction. Should they have downplayed the humor and raised the horror quotient a bit more? So many possibilities…


Main Review:


Rajkummar Rao is Vicky, the gifted tailor who can measure women just by looking at them. He is in demand. Especially during the temple festival which lasts for four nights, when the women need new clothes. But his town hides a secret: a chudail (witch) called ‘Stree’ (woman) visits their town at the time of the festival. If homes have a message scrawled on their walls, ‘Stree, come back tomorrow’ the homes are safe. But if she finds men alone, she whisks them away, leaving only the clothes behind.


The small town of Chander is brilliantly captured. They do overdo the little touches of small-townness (like the signboard on Vicky’s tailoring shop which says, ‘Azaad Auraton ki Azaad dukaan’ which translates to something like ‘Free women wear this freedom clothing’, and they have a sewing machine enshrined in the shop, garlanded as Indians do to pictures of dead family elders), but the little town is very picturesque, even in its horror.


The horror is terrific. There are bigger possibilities than the filmmakers care to explore. Vicky’s friend Jana (played brilliantly by Abhishek Banerjee) is a boon to horror films. He expresses fear when walking home alone so amazingly, it was fun to watch some newbies in the theater jump out of their skins when he comes face to face with Stree. Aparshakti Khurana as Bittu is wonderful foil to both Vicky and Jana, as the friend who always has ideas about what to do.


But the genius is casting Pankaj Tripathi as Rudra, the man who owns a bookstore, a man so educated he has degrees in every subject you can dream of is the best decision the filmmakers could make. He is so brilliant, he even makes the outrageous claims like: Stree knows everything about all men in town because she has the Aadhar link to all their cards. (Aadhar is like a social security card), and the villagers buy it too. His claim to fame? He has done ‘in depth research’ on the topics of ‘Stree’ and other ‘chudails’ and has books and material enough to see us through the film.


The writing is good, and you see brilliance sometimes. For example, when Jana brags about how deep his thoughts can be, Bittu calls him ‘Pacific Ocean’… The film crackles with one liners and if you understand Hindi the joy is doubled. The trouble comes when they want to add the elements of horror into a script that is more comedy than scary. Shraddha Kapoor shows up and Vicky falls in love with her, but it’s a gaping hole in the script logic when they cannot explain her behaviour or Vicky’s quiet acceptance of her demand for mutton. Village festivals, are observed by everyone as holy, and not even the rowdiest of crowds of young men would not want to incur the wrath of the gods or even ‘Stree’ by inviting a dancing girl, who conveniently walks off when the song is over.

So the film swings from fun to tedious and then piques your interest in the horror and lets it fizzle out, making the whole experience like finding that your expensive coffee is only froth and no brew.



(this review appears on www.nowrunning.com)

Review: YAMLA PAGLA DEEWANA PHIR SE


Not ‘PHIR SE’ But ‘KYON’?


1 star


Mini Review:


Puran Singh is blessed by his ancestors and treats everyone with medicines from Ayurveda, and his family clinic has a secret medicine called Vajra Kavach that works like magic on dreaded diseases. Many pharma companies want the formula, but Puran Singh is happy doing his thing for charity. But a young woman who comes to learn from him steals the secret formula and Puran Singh now has to defend his family’s honor. The film is so loud, and so obvious, you will need earplugs as well as sunglasses, and you will also wonder why they had to make this humorless film.


Main Review:


At 147. 54 minutes, this third part of Yamla Pagla Deewana is plain unbearable. Dharmendra who is a mere shadow of the beautiful man he once was, is made to look foolish, talking to ‘apsaras’ (angels) only he can see. Of course, the audience gets to see two women dressed really oddly, their cgi images shaking and wavering like they were emerging from a lamp like a genie does, while the characters in the film see Dharmendra talk to himself. If that wasn’t enough, they have him listen to old Hindi film songs by plugging the branded player. My heart just hurt seeing the gorgeous hero of Bandini and Satyakam reduced to such ridiculousness.


Sunny Deol plays Puran Singh, the Ayurveda doctor who is powerful enough to pull two tractors. He’s even shown dispensing medicines kindly to his patients. But when he refuses to sell the formula for Vajra Kavach the medicine that cures all diseases, the pharma company boss from Gujarat pledges revenge.


Suddenly a pretty, young thing from Gujarat shows up to learn Ayurveda from Puran Singh. As the audience gasps disbelievingly, we see Puran invite the girl Cheeku (Kriti Kharbanda, in a yet another forgettable role) to stay at their home.


Bobby Deol is Kala, Puran’s younger brother, who is ready to make a quick buck. He drinks every night and we endure a very poor version of Dharmendra’s famous drunken act from Sholay again and again and again, until you wish he’d save us all from the pain by falling off the terrace.


There’s much loud Gujarati people are like this and Punjabi people are like that attempts at jokes. But the only funny line is when Cheeku goes away (of course they think the audience hasn’t made the connection between Gujarati pharma company and Gujarati girl suddenly appearing in Punjab, so they show Cheeku taking pictures of the ancient Ayurvedic texts while all the Punjabis are dancing in the streets).


Yes, Punjab is the land of color and festivities but you want to wear sunglasses or you’d be blinded by the garish colors on the screen. And you hear the loud musical refrain of the famous song ‘Yamla Pagla Deewana’ so often, you just want to put your head in the nearest bucket to drown out the sounds. Poor Bobby Deol is made to be romeo, singing and dancing in outrageous clothes, even though it looks like he wants to be back in the Salman Khan film fighting shirtless in Race 3 instead.


Yes the stolen formula needs to be fought for, and Dharmendra is lawyer. Yes, the film is that obvious. Everything derails after that. And you come home wondering why they would need to do this to their countless fans. You come away Ghayal ( ‘Hurting’, also the title of Sunny Deol’s most popular film).             

(this review appears on www.nowrunning.com)

Review: YAMLA PAGLA DEEWANA PHIR SE


Not ‘PHIR SE’ But ‘KYON’?


1 star


Mini Review:


Puran Singh is blessed by his ancestors and treats everyone with medicines from Ayurveda, and his family clinic has a secret medicine called Vajra Kavach that works like magic on dreaded diseases. Many pharma companies want the formula, but Puran Singh is happy doing his thing for charity. But a young woman who comes to learn from him steals the secret formula and Puran Singh now has to defend his family’s honor. The film is so loud, and so obvious, you will need earplugs as well as sunglasses, and you will also wonder why they had to make this humorless film.


Main Review:


At 147. 54 minutes, this third part of Yamla Pagla Deewana is plain unbearable. Dharmendra who is a mere shadow of the beautiful man he once was, is made to look foolish, talking to ‘apsaras’ (angels) only he can see. Of course, the audience gets to see two women dressed really oddly, their cgi images shaking and wavering like they were emerging from a lamp like a genie does, while the characters in the film see Dharmendra talk to himself. If that wasn’t enough, they have him listen to old Hindi film songs by plugging the branded player. My heart just hurt seeing the gorgeous hero of Bandini and Satyakam reduced to such ridiculousness.


Sunny Deol plays Puran Singh, the Ayurveda doctor who is powerful enough to pull two tractors. He’s even shown dispensing medicines kindly to his patients. But when he refuses to sell the formula for Vajra Kavach the medicine that cures all diseases, the pharma company boss from Gujarat pledges revenge.


Suddenly a pretty, young thing from Gujarat shows up to learn Ayurveda from Puran Singh. As the audience gasps disbelievingly, we see Puran invite the girl Cheeku (Kriti Kharbanda, in a yet another forgettable role) to stay at their home.


Bobby Deol is Kala, Puran’s younger brother, who is ready to make a quick buck. He drinks every night and we endure a very poor version of Dharmendra’s famous drunken act from Sholay again and again and again, until you wish he’d save us all from the pain by falling off the terrace.


There’s much loud Gujarati people are like this and Punjabi people are like that attempts at jokes. But the only funny line is when Cheeku goes away (of course they think the audience hasn’t made the connection between Gujarati pharma company and Gujarati girl suddenly appearing in Punjab, so they show Cheeku taking pictures of the ancient Ayurvedic texts while all the Punjabis are dancing in the streets).


Yes, Punjab is the land of color and festivities but you want to wear sunglasses or you’d be blinded by the garish colors on the screen. And you hear the loud musical refrain of the famous song ‘Yamla Pagla Deewana’ so often, you just want to put your head in the nearest bucket to drown out the sounds. Poor Bobby Deol is made to be romeo, singing and dancing in outrageous clothes, even though it looks like he wants to be back in the Salman Khan film fighting shirtless in Race 3 instead.


Yes the stolen formula needs to be fought for, and Dharmendra is lawyer. Yes, the film is that obvious. Everything derails after that. And you come home wondering why they would need to do this to their countless fans. You come away Ghayal ( ‘Hurting’, also the title of Sunny Deol’s most popular film).             

(this review appears on www.nowrunning.com)

Review: HAPPY PHIR BHAAG JAAYEGI

Haw…Haha…Hahahahaha…Why Is This Funny…It Is, It Really Is!

3 stars

Mini Review:

In the first part of the film, Happy was chased all over Pakistan by politician Bagga and the policeman Usman Afridi. This time there’s another Happy, and she in China, chased by Chinese henchmen who think she’s the original Happy. Bagga and Afridi have also been kidnapped and they’re on the run too. If you cannot laugh at racially insulting jokes, you will laugh at the physical ones. The writing is superb and you will end up enjoying yourself immensely.

Main Review:

‘All Chinese look alike,’ the girl says and you sort of gasp because you don’t think such jokes should be made. But when you look at the situation where Harpreet Kaur or Happy is being asked to describe her kidnappers, and you have seen the Chinese gangsters dressed alike in black suits and dark glasses, you understand her dilemma. Sonakshi Sinha plays Happy with so much abandon, that you get sucked into her situation and begin to enjoy yourself.

Bagga and Usman Afridi are back too! Jimmy Sheirgill is simply marvelous as the politician Daman Singh Bagga who just stops short of being married. And Piyush Mishra plays Usman Afridi who is a policeman who attempts to explain his Urdu vocabulary misunderstood by Bagga. This misunderstanding is so brilliantly written, you wonder why the writer-director Mudassar Aziz does not write more.

Meanwhile Ali Fazal who plays Guddu and the original Harpreet Kaur ‘Happy’, are the original invitees by the gangsters are wandering all over Shanghai having missed the gangsters.

Part two is funnier than part one where you wondered why so many dishy men were enamoured by the gangly Happy (Diana Penty) who could not act to save herself out of a flower truck. This one is funny because there is a certain cat and mouse drama and you cannot but laugh at Afridi asking Bagga if his cup noodles were ‘halaal’ and then you see Chang slip and fall over the same noodles. Of course there are a few new characters. On the good side is Khushwant Singh Gill (played rather sweetly by Jassi Gill), Happy’s dad Babuji (played by Raja Bundela, on screen after a long time) and funny man Jeeveshu Ahluwalia in a funny role. On the side of the baddies is Denzil Smith as Adnan Chow who is the funniest Urdu spouting Chinese villain, Chang (played brilliantly by Jason Tham), and more…

You will leave your logic behind and not ask why two Chinese people in costumes are following our good guys gang on bicycles, singing in Punjabi. You will not wonder how good Sonakshi Sinha looks on screen, or how everyone is so wonderfully turned out even when escaping baddies. You will not roll your eyes at Piyush Mishra who behaves badly in the sex shop district, nor will you facepalm when drunk Bagga and Afridi help the baddies… You will simply laugh your head off at the clever politically incorrect writing and come home trying to imitate Piyush Mishra’s birdcall, the ‘koyal’ sound.  


(this review appears on www.nowrunning.com )


Review: HAPPY PHIR BHAAG JAAYEGI

Haw…Haha…Hahahahaha…Why Is This Funny…It Is, It Really Is!

3 stars

Mini Review:

In the first part of the film, Happy was chased all over Pakistan by politician Bagga and the policeman Usman Afridi. This time there’s another Happy, and she in China, chased by Chinese henchmen who think she’s the original Happy. Bagga and Afridi have also been kidnapped and they’re on the run too. If you cannot laugh at racially insulting jokes, you will laugh at the physical ones. The writing is superb and you will end up enjoying yourself immensely.

Main Review:

‘All Chinese look alike,’ the girl says and you sort of gasp because you don’t think such jokes should be made. But when you look at the situation where Harpreet Kaur or Happy is being asked to describe her kidnappers, and you have seen the Chinese gangsters dressed alike in black suits and dark glasses, you understand her dilemma. Sonakshi Sinha plays Happy with so much abandon, that you get sucked into her situation and begin to enjoy yourself.

Bagga and Usman Afridi are back too! Jimmy Sheirgill is simply marvelous as the politician Daman Singh Bagga who just stops short of being married. And Piyush Mishra plays Usman Afridi who is a policeman who attempts to explain his Urdu vocabulary misunderstood by Bagga. This misunderstanding is so brilliantly written, you wonder why the writer-director Mudassar Aziz does not write more.

Meanwhile Ali Fazal who plays Guddu and the original Harpreet Kaur ‘Happy’, are the original invitees by the gangsters are wandering all over Shanghai having missed the gangsters.

Part two is funnier than part one where you wondered why so many dishy men were enamoured by the gangly Happy (Diana Penty) who could not act to save herself out of a flower truck. This one is funny because there is a certain cat and mouse drama and you cannot but laugh at Afridi asking Bagga if his cup noodles were ‘halaal’ and then you see Chang slip and fall over the same noodles. Of course there are a few new characters. On the good side is Khushwant Singh Gill (played rather sweetly by Jassi Gill), Happy’s dad Babuji (played by Raja Bundela, on screen after a long time) and funny man Jeeveshu Ahluwalia in a funny role. On the side of the baddies is Denzil Smith as Adnan Chow who is the funniest Urdu spouting Chinese villain, Chang (played brilliantly by Jason Tham), and more…

You will leave your logic behind and not ask why two Chinese people in costumes are following our good guys gang on bicycles, singing in Punjabi. You will not wonder how good Sonakshi Sinha looks on screen, or how everyone is so wonderfully turned out even when escaping baddies. You will not roll your eyes at Piyush Mishra who behaves badly in the sex shop district, nor will you facepalm when drunk Bagga and Afridi help the baddies… You will simply laugh your head off at the clever politically incorrect writing and come home trying to imitate Piyush Mishra’s birdcall, the ‘koyal’ sound.  


(this review appears on www.nowrunning.com )


Review: GENIUS


Not Even Nawazuddin Can Save This Genius

1 star

Mini Review:


A writer/director launches his son in a story that is so old, it was probably written when he was born. The unremarkable lad is made to sing and dance in the most ridiculous situations and then we have to see him as patriotic action hero. Not even Nawazuddin Siddiqui as campy villain can save this terrible, terrible film.


Main Review:

SharmaJi Ka Beta Bechara Nikla…


Anil Sharma’s Gadar still plays to TV audiences and makes
people raise patriotic fists in the air with reruns. But the patriotic
narrative has changed. We have seen Raazi and even Mulk.
But this ‘will die protecting the flag’ style patriotism seems
terribly anachronistic. The story of a bright, young lad from IIT
being chosen to join RAW and then getting to face off a similar
chap gone rogue could have been good. But the story is so
entangled it twists around itself and falls flat on its face.


Utkarsh Sharma is best described as unremarkable. As Vasudev
Shastri, born in Mathura and orphaned during religious riots, they
overdo the Hindu – Krishna – Gita thing during the introduction.
You choke over your coffee when you are told he topped IIT and
the heroine (Ishita Chauhan, quite fetching in the manner of
Hansika Motwani) came second to him. He flirts and she
predictably is angry over three or is it four songs which are shot in
the style of what could be best described as glorified wedding
videos. We know now that the lad cannot dance. Or act like the
lovelorn lad. The music by Himesh Reshammiya is fine, but it
just doesn’t work with the lead pair.


You wonder if the film is going to be all about fantastical claims
about how all scientific discoveries were written in ancient Hindu
texts. Thankfully, the director remembers that he has to get to
the patriotic part and we suddenly see a sanskrit spouting
computer geek shooting guns, fighting ninja style (yes, really!)
and generally becoming a super agent sent off on a super
secret mission.

No Attempt At Logic…


No, we do not laugh when we see Nawazuddin Siddiqui show
up as villain called M.R.S, but we do wonder why is he dressed
like he’s in the Arctics: Woollen trench coats, Woollen scarves,
gloves and hats? But the hero is wearing velvet trench coats
and hoodies and gloves too, so you begin wondering if we are
going to see Polar bears in Lakshadweep (that’s where the
action is). The dialog the campy villain has to spout is all about
hating that ‘Kaalia’ (the dark guy) aka the National Security
Advisor played by Mithun Chakraborty (complete waste of his
talent, you know the role is so rubber-stamp pointless, it could
have been played by anyone used to such roles, from Anjan
Srivastava to Anant Mahadevan). MRS (nopes, they don’t
realise that it is not too macho a name for a villain who wants
to create a mayhem in India) is written like they just got stuck
with the Riddler from Batman. Nawazuddin does not make even
an inch of effort except when he begins to dance in the disco.
You wake up and wonder if the movie could be going somewhere.
But no such luck. There’s awful things like a Rubik’s cube setting
off a bomb (which of course our IIT lad turned RAW agent can fix),
Nawazuddin wearing saffron robes and a beard to pass off as a
sadhu so he can blow up Mathura…


There’s medical stuff that is so mangled you don’t know whether
to laugh or to put it down to suspension of disbelief: the hero has
tinnitus caused by bullet whizzing past his skull, and that is leading
to brain damage and schizophrenia. The spy technology is
laughable too! The heroine unknowingly wears lenses that have a
spy camera that helps hero see whatever she sees and earrings
which have microphones to help him hear what she’s hearing.
You know a man has written this part because she never ever
changes her earrings!


Over two hours and forty minutes they tell us again and again
that the lad is a ‘genius’, when he mostly looks like Mr. Pitiful.        





(this review appears on www.nowrunning.com)

Review: GOLD

Hokum Patriotism On Hockey Field

2 Stars

Mini Review:


Based on true events following the exploits of the Indian hockey team that won independant India its first Olympics gold medal in hockey. The conflict is fine, the principle characters beautifully etched, but what drags the film down is its predictability and its slow pace. At 152.42 minutes you want to turn the hockey stick into a sword and run into it.


Main Review:


Akshay Kumar plays Tapan Das, assistant manager cum talent scout cum hockey crazy person who pawns his wife’s jewellery to find good hockey players for the team. He makes you want to like the game of field hockey as much as he does, and you understand his die-hard enthusiasm and also feel his misery when he is forced to be away from the game.

The film opens with team India winning the field hockey gold at the Berlin Olympics in 1936. When the British anthem is played, the team salutes the Indian flag Tapan Das the manager, carries secretly in his pockets. It’s a fabulous, cinematic moment which makes the point that the team yearns to play for india and not the British.

The rest of the film alas, manufactures patriotism with the finesse of a sledgehammer. Plus they chose to release the  film on India’s independence day which falls on August 15. And also take advantage of the fact that on the 13th of August, 1948, the team fulfilled their hockey gold dream. And that’s why the title of the film

With the World War destroying most of the world, Tapan Das’s sports career is down in the gutters where he is frequently found in drunken stupor. Akshay Kumar plays the role of Tapan Das well. His passion for hockey seems real even though his accent isn’t. If you grit your teeth to the appearing and disappearing accent and manage to sit through that, you get to see how Tapan Das, with the support from the president of the hockey federation – a caricature Parsi person – a Mr Wadia, reuniting the old team by traveling the length and breadth of the country. Captain Samrat has retired and is coaching Gwalior Colts. The dashing Kunal Kapoor is Samrat is rather under-utilised in this small role. And you, along with Tapan Das are disappointed. But we come across the hotheaded Himmat Singh romancing his girl (of course she says cliched things like ‘win me gold if you want to marry me’). You get tired of counting cliches in the film but you find solace in the lotus pond setting where Himmat Singh romances his girl. But counting sports movie tropes does not end. There’s Amit Sadh who plays ‘prince of Balrampur’ named Raghuvendra Pratap Singh, who is a very good hockey player but arrogant and entitled. And even though the comeuppance he gets from the captain – play tennis because in that game you can take credit for the wins, but hockey is a team game – the whole character seems to be a gigantic bore. Obviously, in the end the sports brat will learn to play as a team member.

Thankfully the British leave and there is more chaos when the Muslim players leave the team and go to Pakistan. the sudden change of the players’ hearts seems very fake and you know the film has shattered by a wrecking ball called patriotism.

Tapan Das has to recreate the team as you step out and get another coffee. This time Samrat reappears to help the team and you facepalm several times at the training and team building efforts which you have seen in every sports film ever! The daftest thing is the setting: the team stays at Buddhist caves (Kanheri caves), but your disbelief is suspended so much you don’t care to ask why monks would own a hockey field.

The super pouty lips of the TV show Naagin Mouni Roy do nothing for her Monobina (Mrs Tapan Das) who makes you sigh into your popcorn when she nags and nags her husband and then coyly handa her jewellery to be pawned because she loves hockey too. For a cricket mad nation (currently) to show hockey crazy kids and entire villages listening to hockey commentary seems odd. However, you cannot not compare all half time speeches to the one Shah Rukh makes to the indian girls hockey team in a sports film which is perhaps the best of our times. In Gold, everything seems to be an also ran.

Thanks to more cliched  political machinations of the federation, the team finally reaches London for the 1948 Olympics, where they meet Pakistan Captain Imtiaz Shah (played by Vineet Kunar Singh from Mukkabaaz) who was a part of the joint team that won in 1936. Imtiaz mouths the 1936 team promise: we are here to avenge 200 years of slavery and to hear our national anthem when our flag is hoisted.

Yes, there are more ‘game’ cliches and you discover like in all sports films, the referees will be biased against India (and Pakistan) and despite all odds, team India will win, and the ‘foreign’ audience will cheer for India because they are ‘true sports fans’. The clever play on the field has been choreographed by Sandip Singh (whose life has been made into a biopic recently called Soorma) and the unique play in the rains is a welcome relief from the tedious sports movie story.

The winning feeling is ruined because the director chooses to end with a National Anthem being played, which forces the audience to stand up and watch the triumphant team watch the flag with pride. Of course they want you to be overwhelmed and cry. But this brand of patriotism makes you wish this was Chak De! India rerun instead.


(this review appears on www.nowrunning.com)


Review: SATYAMEV JAYATE

Pyromaniac Vigilante, Hyperventilating Cop
The Audience Facepalms.

1.5 stars

Mini Review:


The Mumbai police are in a tizzy because a vigilante is slowly killing corrupt cops. The one honest cop has been given the job to find out who it is. We know it is the hero and we are alarmed at the violence on the screen. But after a while, you just want the 80s style violence to be over and scoff at the super cheesy dialog and John Abraham’s gorgeous dimples just stop working for you.

Main Review:

The film opens with Patil in police uniform being burned alive to the tune of Hindu chant of Shiva’s anger. It is John Abraham, in a black hooded jacket, staring sternly at the fire he started. Then we see a cop asking directly for money to be wired to ‘my account’ after an accident should he let the chap who killed a pedestrian go home free. Of course, John Abraham shows up at the cop’s home and burns him too because, ‘Patil ho ya Kadri, sabki ek biradari’ (Whether it is Patil or Kadri, their brotherhood is same: corruption). You gag when you hear such cheesy dialog, but wonder idly why John Abraham is burning these bad guys.

Vikram was Colorful and Wild in Anniyan. This? Not.

It’s a reminder of the 2005 Tamil film Anniyan (which was called Outsider or Stranger in English, Aparichit in Hindi) where an upright man who cannot see injustice wears different masks and metes out justice as seen in the hellfire and damnation part of Hindu scriptures, instilling fear in wrongdoers and winning the hearts of the poor. That film was a hit but at least the weird costumes and the hero with a multiple personality disorder had an excuse for the violence. Here, the live burning of victims is plain ghastly.

Chillao, Aur Chillao! Indians Like LOUD Cinema!

The cops are terrified too, so they ask the Deputy Commissioner of Police Shivansh Rathod to report back to duty from his holiday. Manoj Bajpai, usually a fine actor, hams through a role which could have been played with the same cool as Tom Hanks does in Catch Me If You Can Remember the scene where Leonardo DiCaprio asks Hanks why he’s at work on a holiday? And Hanks, sitting alone in the dark office says, ‘I volunteered’ and asks Leo to talk to him face to face? Well, this film too uses the same sort of situation of an empty office, but we see Manoj Bajpai lose his cool and begin to yell at the vigilante.

The whole film is loud. The background music, the dialog that has the sole purpose of evincing applause from the cheap seats, the misplaced romance between a vet and the killer… And it doesn’t help when the clever DCP figures out that the vigilante is killing cops from marked police stations that are included in the title of the film ‘Satyamev Jayate’ (‘S’ for ‘Santa Cruz’, ‘A’ for ‘Andheri’ and ‘T’ for ‘Thane’ all neighborhoods in Mumbai). You idly speculate what areas is John going to attack next while laughing at the ridiculousness of word play of the third threat: I will enter ‘Thane’ and kill a cop. Now ‘Thane’ or ‘Thana’ is not just a local word for ‘police station, but also a suburb of the city. So while Manoj Bajpai and his cops are on high alert expecting a vigilante to show up, John simply beats up and burns a cop at a gas station in the area called Thane.

How Long Do We Suffer?

Then you realise there are 11 letters left in the title of the film! Are we going to endure 11 more murders? You begin to sink in your seat at the realisation of how thin the plot is, and pray for a twist in the plot. One comes at the Intermission. But everything is downhill after that. The backstory is so ghastly and so pathetically patriotic, you want to be killed by a stray bullet. The corrupt cops are very corrupt (one even has gold teeth made from money from bribes!) and John Abraham is good even when he’s burning up people (we know he’s playing Veer, and he’s extracting revenge for his cop dad unjustly killed).

The film is so boring, during the item song ‘Dilbar Dilbar’ one shot has the belly dancer emerge from the sand and you are reminded of the Graboids in the film Tremors and your laughter is drowned by the deafening sound of the song. The oath of allegiance that cops take during their swearing in ceremony is said so many times, you know you can repeat it verbatim in case you are asked. The film is that tedious. An obvious manipulative release for Independence Day, this film hopes you will want to salute good cops. But you don’t fall for it one bit. And even if you have previously fallen for John Abraham’s dimples, you come away unimpressed with his seething.


(this review appears without subheads on www.nowrunning.com)

Review: REDRUM: A LOVE STORY

Redrum Murdered Cinema

1 star

Mini Review:

A ‘rock star’ Daksh comes under the scrutiny of the Narcotics department who want to find out who supplies him with drugs. The Ghalib spouting cop asks Daksh’s manager plus girlfriend to help them. Daksh has rage issues and in an angry fit he kills the girl and hides the body in the attic. They claim the film is based on an Edgar Allan Poe’s story: The Tell Tale Heart, but you know it’s based on every cinematic cliche they could think up of and you know you can never get 100 minutes of your life back.

Main Review:

The Tell Tale Heart is a creepy psychological horror short story which convinces you, the reader that the narrator is sane even when he tells you he has murdered someone.

Now this film is nothing like the story. The protagonist Daksh (Vaibhav Roy, you have seen him in Hindi TV serials) sings in bars and is spotted by a girl who thinks that he is ‘hot’ and decides that she is going to become a manager and promote him because he has a great voice. The film opens with a song ‘Imtihaan’, which is soulful and melodious. For a moment you think this small film just might turns out to be good.

But you begin to cringe when they try to pass off two chairs and a table in someone’s home as a coffee shop where the girl and the singer meet for a date. Everything goes downhill from there because the filmmakers use a sledgehammer to tell the story of his childhood and his rage against his mother to excuse his drug habit now.

A narcotics officer who spouts poetry by Ghalib (overdoes it, actually) finds Daksh’s name in a notebook found on a drug dealer. The drug dealer was carrying an exercise book of all his contacts and their telephone numbers with him at a drug exchange! You wonder why they he doesn’t have a cell phone like most people do! The cop is played by Tom Alter (who died in September 2017) who doesn’t have to do much but use his voice to spout poetry. He is even made to walk all over the house where he suspects a murder has occured. Anyone who has seen cop shows on TV will tell you that he is walking over evidence and destroying it!

Daksh falls in love with a girl at the bar who begins to manage his shows (and him). Her name is Aarika (Saeeda Imtiaz) and she is clueless about Daksh’s drug habit. He acts weird around her though, and his fits of rage should have given her some idea that Daksh’s behavior is not ‘normal’, but she seems to be clueless overall. Daksh keeps going into flashbacks of his mother who brought ‘uncles’ home and ruined his childhood and propelled him to use drugs. Yes, the poor filmmakers make the hero snort lines in bathrooms, rub ‘white powder’ into his gums and snort from his hand too (too much Netflix has been watched, obviously, because the scenes seem to be hurried and overdone)

In a rage Daksh kills his girl and hides her body in the attic. Then he brings it down and decided to cut her up. We begin to see her ghost and wonder where the film is going now. The cop shows up, convinced that Daksh has killed the girl. Daksh stabs the cop, and then kills himself. The dead girl opens her eyes. What?

Looks like they ran out of film stock, perhaps realised that the story was going nowhere, and that the very loud horror movie sounds had made the audience run towards the exits. What a waste.

(this review appears on www.nowrunning.com)