Review: PIHU

50 Ways To Kill A Toddler

1 star


Mini Review:


What could happen if a two year old is at home with her mother? Nothing, unless the mom ODs on sleeping pills and then everything turns into an almost disaster for the child. An open balcony, a fridge, kitchen with knives, appliances, electrical sockets and more entice the child to certain death. Unfortunately, instead of the story, the headache inducing camera angles which can be best described as toddler cam offers unintentional horror. This simply exploits the kind feelings people have towards children. And fails.


Main Review:


It becomes an exploitative film when the filmmakers put a child in harm’s way, making everyone in the audience hold their breath. But when the film has nothing more than watching a two year old move from one part of the house to another where ordinary everyday things turn into a death trap because of creepy music.

Will It Be Caramel Or Cheese?

Is she going to slip when she’s trying to climb to up a reach a milk bottle? Or fall down just like her dolly off the balcony? You are forced to choose your favorite death trap while munching on mixed popcorn. Obviously they choose a wide eyed kid Myra Vishwakarma to make you feel that same feeling you get when you watch animals in distress but rescued videos on FaceBook. But the videos are less than three minutes long and you watch and are relieved when the rescuers arrive. This film goes on and on for over an hour and a half.


Anyone who has had a child will know that childproofing a home is the first thing you do when you bring a baby in the world. Starting with who buys glass milk bottles these days, you ask why is the iron still in the socket? This home looks like it was deliberately set out to be a disaster. Evil demons in usual horror movies will be insulted if you make it so easy to die.  

Inspired By Videos Of Naughty Kids On The Net

Then the filmmakers watch more videos of babies who turn their homes into disaster zones and now take Pihu into the kitchen. Yes, the sitting in the fridge wasn’t cute enough. Of course the roti is going to burn, of course the flames are going to be on high and by now the supposed Shakespearean milk of human kindness in your heart is dry. You are bored beyond belief. You want the real life mommy (Prema Vishwakarma) who is pretending to be dead in the movie to be slapped hard for putting her child through such nonsense.


(This review appears on www.nowrunning.com)

Review: MOHALLA ASSI

This Ghat Story Is Gutless


1.5 stars


Mini Review:


Benaras has attracted all kinds of people to its ghats. Those looking for God and those looking for ganja. The film is full of quirky characters that attempt to build an exotic India. The focal point of these characters is Pappu’s tea shop where everything from lifestyle to politics is discussed. Sunny Deol plays a priest who is a stickler about tradition and the film shows how his breed is vanishing… If only the quirkiness wasn’t tiresome and the film offered something concrete to share with the world, this film would have worked.


Main Review:


The film opens with a wonderful piece of Indian classical music (a Dhrupad composition) that is an invocation to Shiva, the resident deity of Benaras. The starting credits say that a poem (rather political in nature) by India’s finest poet Kashinath Singh is included in the film. That is classy indeed, and one is forced to sit up and take notice. But it doesn’t take long for beautiful opening shots of the city waking up to descend into the commonplace when we see a smooth-talking motormouth tourist guide Ginni (played wonderfully by Ravi Kishan) pick up tourists from the railway station and bring them into town.


The film was stuck at the Censors for six years, and you soon know why: there is politics of the temple (a politically charged kindling if you talk against it), there is the unfortunate aftermath of the breaking down of the mosque at Babri (the hero believes sentiment about the birthplace of Lord Ram is more important that the law), and the rational beings discussing these things over tea are no longer relevant. The attempt to cling on to traditions is good, but the only way the film shows the new as bad is to show foreign tourists desperate for sex, show them throwing dollars at anything Indian, and Indians so greedy for money, they will lie and cheat and cook up schemes to satisfy their needs…


The banality of the events in these tourist trap places is horrifying. A character dressed up as the God Shiva (played by Daya Shankar Pandey) takes hundred rupees for posing with tourists and 200 if they should want a stream of water flowing from his hair. The hairdresser gathers information from people he shaves as to where a ‘foreign’ woman could find decent accommodation near the Assi Ghat (the Southernmost Ghat in the city, a famous landmark of Benaras, popular with tourists and worshippers alike). The cops hapless in front of the teashop regular, literally standing on a bench pontificating about how Bhang was not a drug, but a tradition of Benaras and a religious right, because Shiva consumed it…


By the time the story comes around to saying something, you are bored. Even though they use the local virulent word for ‘bastards’ as though everyone in the film was Samuel L Jackson. And that includes the women. It was not even funny to begin with, and then it gets tedious. You wonder why they chose Sunny Deol to play Dharam Nath Pandey, a traditionalist, a priest happy to teach Sanskrit to kids for a pittance. Though Sunny is adequate in the tough guy act, the language does him in. He has worked hard on the Sanskrit diction but the whole thing seems pointless in the end. Sakshi Tanwar is the stereotypical wife, praying to the Gods and cooking for the family. The end where the adamant Pandit has to accept the non Hindu Marlene as a paying guest in his home (and hence God has left him) brings back a new Shiva home… Everyone lives happily ever after is like a nothing burger.


The ensemble cast of Tiwari-ji, Upadhyay-ji, Chaturvedi-ji, Chaubey-ji and others are played by veteran actors Saurabh Shukla, Srichandra Makhija, Rajendra Gupta and Mukesh Tiwari. But all that posing and pontificating comes to nothing. Except that you do not wish to go anywhere near religion and righteousness in a film, ever.


(This review appears on www.nowrunning.com)
                

Review: MOHALLA ASSI

This Ghat Story Is Gutless


1.5 stars


Mini Review:


Benaras has attracted all kinds of people to its ghats. Those looking for God and those looking for ganja. The film is full of quirky characters that attempt to build an exotic India. The focal point of these characters is Pappu’s tea shop where everything from lifestyle to politics is discussed. Sunny Deol plays a priest who is a stickler about tradition and the film shows how his breed is vanishing… If only the quirkiness wasn’t tiresome and the film offered something concrete to share with the world, this film would have worked.


Main Review:


The film opens with a wonderful piece of Indian classical music (a Dhrupad composition) that is an invocation to Shiva, the resident deity of Benaras. The starting credits say that a poem (rather political in nature) by India’s finest poet Kashinath Singh is included in the film. That is classy indeed, and one is forced to sit up and take notice. But it doesn’t take long for beautiful opening shots of the city waking up to descend into the commonplace when we see a smooth-talking motormouth tourist guide Ginni (played wonderfully by Ravi Kishan) pick up tourists from the railway station and bring them into town.


The film was stuck at the Censors for six years, and you soon know why: there is politics of the temple (a politically charged kindling if you talk against it), there is the unfortunate aftermath of the breaking down of the mosque at Babri (the hero believes sentiment about the birthplace of Lord Ram is more important that the law), and the rational beings discussing these things over tea are no longer relevant. The attempt to cling on to traditions is good, but the only way the film shows the new as bad is to show foreign tourists desperate for sex, show them throwing dollars at anything Indian, and Indians so greedy for money, they will lie and cheat and cook up schemes to satisfy their needs…


The banality of the events in these tourist trap places is horrifying. A character dressed up as the God Shiva (played by Daya Shankar Pandey) takes hundred rupees for posing with tourists and 200 if they should want a stream of water flowing from his hair. The hairdresser gathers information from people he shaves as to where a ‘foreign’ woman could find decent accommodation near the Assi Ghat (the Southernmost Ghat in the city, a famous landmark of Benaras, popular with tourists and worshippers alike). The cops hapless in front of the teashop regular, literally standing on a bench pontificating about how Bhang was not a drug, but a tradition of Benaras and a religious right, because Shiva consumed it…


By the time the story comes around to saying something, you are bored. Even though they use the local virulent word for ‘bastards’ as though everyone in the film was Samuel L Jackson. And that includes the women. It was not even funny to begin with, and then it gets tedious. You wonder why they chose Sunny Deol to play Dharam Nath Pandey, a traditionalist, a priest happy to teach Sanskrit to kids for a pittance. Though Sunny is adequate in the tough guy act, the language does him in. He has worked hard on the Sanskrit diction but the whole thing seems pointless in the end. Sakshi Tanwar is the stereotypical wife, praying to the Gods and cooking for the family. The end where the adamant Pandit has to accept the non Hindu Marlene as a paying guest in his home (and hence God has left him) brings back a new Shiva home… Everyone lives happily ever after is like a nothing burger.


The ensemble cast of Tiwari-ji, Upadhyay-ji, Chaturvedi-ji, Chaubey-ji and others are played by veteran actors Saurabh Shukla, Srichandra Makhija, Rajendra Gupta and Mukesh Tiwari. But all that posing and pontificating comes to nothing. Except that you do not wish to go anywhere near religion and righteousness in a film, ever.


(This review appears on www.nowrunning.com)
                

Review: THUGS OF HINDOSTAN

Dregs Of Hindostan


1 star


Mini Review:


It’s 1795 and the British are taking over Indian principalities mostly by cheating their way. In one such instance a young princess escapes with the help of a loyal servant, grows up and avenges the death of her parents. They introduce a cheat who double crosses not only the freedom fighters but also the English. The story is straight from the bottom of the creative keg, and they take 164 minutes to bore you to death. This attempt to pirate the Caribbean franchise fails so badly, it does not blow up, the audience kicks itself to death.


Main Review:


The single star given to this film is for having the chutzpah to sell such a ghastly idea to Yash Raj Films.


Imagine if the only reaction the film gets out of the audience is the gasp when Katrina Kaif displays her shimmery backside in a Dussehra number, and the rest of the time they are too bored to even crunch popcorn loudly. Let us count the cliche ridden story:


All British dudes are bad, and their Hindi is hilarious. Clive, the very bad British dude gives speeches about the ritual of killing Ravan every year in a desperate Anglicised Hindi. When did they start caring about Indian festivals? We know he is bad because he drank tea and said, ‘Is chai mein barood ki boo aa rahi hai!’ People got paid to write this!


And they wrote and they wrote for Aamir Khan to overdo the smart talker who betrays anyone for money. They wrote so much that Amitabh Bachchan (in chains, inside a prison) actually says, ‘Bol ke maaroge kya?’ (Will you kill us with so much dialog?).   


Aamir Khan plays Firangi, a burro riding smooth talker who betrays anyone for the right amount of money. Obviously never short of surma, his exaggerated eye-popping act becomes annoying within minutes. But it’s an obvious ploy the audience can see from a mile. He infiltrates the good guys to betray them and the big good guy changes his heart. This is such a tired plot, you forgive them for putting Amitabh Bachchan in a character that is a cross of his Eklavya role mixed with Jhoom Barabar Jhoom character! This is what happens when an art director is allowed to run amok with costumes.


Of course the director is enamored with the idea of a donkey riding character, they even try and give him a little scrubbing effect on film that a DJ does when he scratches the vinyl back and forth. Three times in the introduction and I prayed that they did not do this every single time Aamir showed up on screen… Thankfully they forgot about this special effect. They had many to take care of… And horribly. The eagle that appear every time Amitabh Bachchan appears, the small burning boat that rams the big ship, the fires started by burning cannonballs, the rifle fires, the burning baddie, and of course the sets – the ships as well as the fort – look so fake you are reminded of the movies of yore when big rocks tumbling down would just bounce off because they were glorified craft projects…


So the Brits are cruel and ruling over Indians who mostly cower and hand over lagaan (I mean something like that) and there’s a bunch of freedom fighters called Azaad (yes, yes, we know it’s an idea that cannot die!), they hide all the way in Krabi and attack the Brits and steal their ships. A miracle they did not show the ships kept away as in Moana (Disney animation film 2016)… That they borrowed heavily from the Pirates of The Caribbean franchise is a given, but how badly, you have to see to believe it.


The princess Zafira (Fatima Sana Sheikh) grows up to be a country cousin to Bahubali’s princess Devasena who is awesome with bow and arrows. Thankfully she has little to show when it comes to acting, because she fails even when she avenges her parents. She blubbers into Amitabh Bachchan’s able chest, and we are saved from seeing bad acting. There goes trope of strong woman…


The other woman in this big production is Katrina Kaif who plays Suraiyya who dances and the Brits love her. So blah, you wish they had quietly slipped in a bald Sanjay Dutt nodding in approval to her ‘Chikni chameli’ redux, just to stir the audience. And as all paint by numbers movies have it, there’s a medicine woman who fixes Aamir Khan’s wound. I wished for Homer Simpson like epiphany (from Simpsons The Movie) from Aamir, but they missed that opportunity of overacting…


Khuda Baksh aka Amitabh Bachchan is given lots of opportunity to seethe and snarl and overdo it too. When they show him tied up to lethal looking contraption like Dharmendra in Sholay and Katrina dances her dussehra dance, you want to scream, ‘Basanti! In kutton ke saamne mat naachna!’ but this is not Sholay alas. There are more choreographed fight sequences danced to never ending music.     


In the end the bad Brit dude meets his end, the fort is won back and is handed to princess, the bodyguard is still alive and the smooth talking chap escapes with the ship (which is self navigating in the computer generated seas). Of all things Katrina shows up as stowaway and demands that they steer the ship to Calcutta where she wants to buy a dupatta, if you please. That is all the audience can take. Thankfully. The great Indian pirated film is over.  
(this review appears on www.nowrunning.com)