Written by  on June 14, 2019
This Game Is Very Lame

1 star

Mini Review:

Taapsee Pannu likes video games so much she has a tattoo of the console. She is supposed to be a video game designer or a player, afraid of the dark, plus has suicidal tendencies. Her home is invaded by a serial killer. With both her legs fractured, can she face him or is it ‘game over’? Yay! Title justified. Unfortunately, the premise is so lame you know Home Alone was more interesting, the asthmatic killer is not scary at all and the film falls flat on its face.

Main Review:

Yeh Karti Kya Hai? The Flawed Character Set Up…

The opening credits are really cool. But that does not a film make. You begin to giggle when they try to set up Taapsee Pannu as a designer of game characters, or is she a game developer? Or just a video game nut? But with such cool video games available on Xbox today, it does not explain why she’s playing Pac Man that is dated! (The Pac Man championship game on the Xbox is rather awesome with choices in setting – like Manhattan, Spiral, Train station and so on – and the ghosts are cool too!)

If she’s a designer, for games, why is she drawing Super Mario type characters on a sketchbook? Game designers use graphic tablets… and don’t bother to look at her computer screen at all…

Of course I’d choose games like Recon, Doom Eternal or even Rage, which have really cool graphics and could work as inspiration for dealing with a home invader. But no! She plays Pac Man. Okay, why not use that fact and dress the home invader as Ghost or mention the word ‘ghost’ on TV where the news is announced. But that would require too much thought. This movie has that one line pitch feel…

Okay so she like Pac Man, and plays it all night because she cannot sleep. She says it too. But she does wake up on the sofa every single time from her nightmares. She has a maid looking after her.

Melodrama Central. The Killer Should Kill The Maid!

Kalamma the maid is played by Vinodhini. It looks like concern, but she’s rather intrusive (‘Your parents called, you should call them!) and even shows up sitting with her at the shrink’s. Before you ask why is the maid sitting at the session, you sigh because they show why she’s terrified of the darkness. Again. Looks like the director likes this women tied up trope. Because in the beginning of the film, a young woman was tied up (with plastic ties and plastic bag over her face) killed horribly. We were also told of several young women being beheaded and burnt etc. That part of the film looks inspired from a bad Korean serial killer film. We only have Netflix to blame for such a scene. It’s too lame to be scary.

But Kalamma offers unintended hilarity when the serial killer shows up at the heroine’s home. Oh yes, by this time Taapsee is on a wheelchair, her legs are broken. Kalamma gets a chance to be all melodramatic and googly eyed with horror and fear.

Zabardasti Ka Bhoot Trope

Remember, Taapsee got herself a tattoo? They have a creepy explanation about ashes of a cancer victim’s ashes that is meant to add a bhoot element. But the mom of the victim is creepier and it would have been more fun if she stalks Taapsee… But this ashes of cancer victim in tattoo ink only ends up logical questions: how is the tattoo studio still working if they mixed up ink meant for someone else on her? How come the tattoo person realises the mistake and does not follow up apart from, ‘I tried to call you…’

Is the ghost of the cancer woman haunting Taapsee? Apart from giving Taapsee a rash the ghost does little. The poster ‘I did not die alone’ suggests that the serial killer should be an angry cancer sufferer or a cancer wala zombie… But no. They’re disconnected. You swallow these silly things and then after intermission (completely unnecessary, since the film loses steam) the story picks up when an intruder shows up at her home. The ghost is gone now, but a greeting card (seriously? A greeting card for a cancer patient?!) serves as inspiration for Taapsee.

The Film Is Like Browsing Netflix Serial Killer Films And Picking Plot Points In A Hurry

No one knows why the door kept slamming with no visible aandhi toofaan elsewhere…No one knows why or how the killer chooses his victims, or where on the Net does he post the kill videos. Is the killer her rapist? He liked videotaping too… Here you realise you don’t care. Home Alone was more fun and this is not the scary version of that film. It’s not even interesting enough to be Groundhog Day. It just takes one decent metaphor about lives from video games and uses it. But Detective Pikachu was more fun and so was Pixels which showed us an evil Pac Man.

The dubbing in Hindi is plain awful. Taapsee’s smile after she gets the tattoo is beautiful, but she’s mostly meant to be incoherent in the film. Why should we care if she dies? The girl dying of plastic bag asphyxiation is shot really well, but it goes nowhere, so you just know they’re trying too hard. And the serial killer tries to breathe like Darth Vader – to scare us – but ends up sounding asthmatic. The film is 142 minutes long. Just feels longer.  

(A politically correct version of this review appears on nowrunning dot com)    

Review: BHARAT

Written by  on June 5, 2019
Too Swacch This Bharat Is.
Bring Back Dabanng.

2 stars

Mini Review:

Bharat is a good guy, and though he promises that his life has been more colorful than the salt in his beard, the film does not live up to that promise. In fact it is so boring, you wonder if ‘bhai’ has forgotten his fans come to watch ‘action’ not wimpy comedy. We live through his many jobs and his devotion to dad. It’s two and a half hours of being average. Fans want more.

Main Review:

It’s Eid, and therefore Salman Khan fans are out in full force to watch Bharat. There are hoots and whistles when that familiar walk on the silhouette shows up on screen, but there’s no thunder and lightning, there are no villains flying in the air, there is no ripping off shirts. It’s Salman Khan as Bharat, celebrating his 70th birthday.

He begins to tell his story to grandkids about how during partition, his mother, brother and sister and him climbed up on the train and the gorgeous father climbs down because little ‘Gudiya’ slipped back on to the platform. The father is Jackie Shroff, the Station Master who manages to give little Bharat his watch and extracts a promise, you will keep the family together and wait for dad to get to the Ration store in Delhi…

Sonali Kulkarni plays the mom who cuts a tragic figure that stitches something on the sewing machine to help make ends meet. Kabir Sajid is the little boy who plays Bharat, and alas, makes sure he’s ‘acting’ (wide-eyes, fear, happiness… His emotions are studied, but who cares, it’s Bhai’s movie!). In the aftermath of the Partition, Bharat meets Vilayati (a Muslim lad who gives us a lesson in National Integration the moment we meet him: We haven’t gone to Pakistan because this is our country and will always be so on…). Bharat and Vilayati become friends for life. Vilayati grows up to be Sunil Grover. He’s the one decent role in the entire film. He’s Bharat’s one man support system and a partner in everything good.

Yes, everything Salman does is good. After all, he’s Bharat. He even sings the National Anthem in the film (makes his fans wake up and stand in a flurry of popcorn!). This kind of forced patriotism in the film makes you want to weep.

Bharat grows up to be Evel Knievel in the Great Russian Circus. But he’s so good, he gives that awesome job because ‘many kids will want to emulate this dangerous stunt’ and chooses to wait to be employed. He’s so good, he dances with pirates on a merchant ship (no leaf chewing wicked Somali pirates here a la Captain Phillips, but pirates who dance to Bachchan songs!). He’s so good, he saves all the miners trapped in the mines a la The 33. He’s so good, he won’t marry Katrina Kaif because he cannot divide his love for the family with her… Whilst you gag at this ‘good’ guy thing, you’re hoping for some ear-splitting action a la Dabanng.

The audience sighs through tamer and tamer songs, and you see people checking their messages on the phone until the fifteen minutes to the end, when four motorbike riding goons attack Bharat with tube-lights. A roar goes up in the audience but the four go down easily. And so does the excitement.

The film has a couple of funny moments, but the ordinariness of his life needed more than Sunil Grover dressed up as Bharat Maa or his sister fall for Jawaharlal Nehru…

Katrina Kaif too has many jobs – from employment officer to supervisor in an oil field to news reader (a la Salma Sultan) and Creative Director of a TV channel to hausfrau who is really in a ‘live in’ relationship with Bharat –  and you are happy she is made to dance to some strange not so hummable Hand-pump song. Her dialog delivery remains as strange as ever. Why make her say words like, ‘namankan patra’ (candidate registration papers for election)?
Bharat grows older visibly, but his screen mom and other characters don’t. They just wear glasses. We follow Bharat’s life through India’s partition up until 2010. And you as audience watch every year go by excruciatingly slowly.

(this review appears on )