Manisha Lakhe

Manisha Lakhe

Review: SOORMA

Written by  on July 14, 2018

Soorma Starts Out As A Cool Sports Film
But ‘Chak De!’ It Is Not…

2.5 stars

Mini Review:

Sandeep Singh struggles to get himself a place in the Indian
team, and just when he’s making a name for himself as an
International hockey player, a gunshot paralyses him. His
rehabilitation comprises hard work and comes back to the
field and becomes a huge star. The biopic is delicious in
the first half, but the predictability of the second half
brings it down.

Main Review:

A little town Shahbad in Punjab has young people working really,
really hard to make it to the team, any team. But young Sandeep
is in the eye of the storm for being a slacker. And coach sir
(played with brilliant cruelty by Danish Husain) is unforgiving. He
knows that there are many kids hungry to get on to a team and
only strict discipline will get you there. Sandeep is ready to take
on the punishment meted to him, but has a rebellious streak,
which earns him severe beatings. Especially because his
attention is distracted by a pretty, sassy hockey player Harpreet
(played well by Tapsee Pannu).

His brother Bikramjit Singh is also a hockey player (but does not
get selected to the India team) discovers that Sundeep (now
relegated to looking after the crops after severe beating from the
coach) has a rare talent. That talent is flicking the ball into the
goal which earns him the title of ‘Flicker Singh’ and a place in
the Indian team.

The film has been written with a great sense of humor which
makes you want to be part of Sandeep’s family. Diljit Dosanjh
plays Sandeep Singh convincingly. He has a natural charm that
wins the audience over easily. And yes, he can dance! His
romance with Tapsee Pannu is very sweet and fun, a quality not
seen in recent crop of Bollywood films. Angad Bedi who plays the
older brother is surprisingly good. The connection between the
brothers is enviable and will bring a lump to even the most
cynical throats. The film is shot beautifully and intimately, which
makes the first half a breezy watch.

The second half though is as painful as Sandeep Singh’s
rehabilitation from a paralysing injury. It drags on and on so by the
time we reach the final grudge match between India and Pakistan,
you are tried. You do not come away as joyous and overwhelmed
as you did after you watched Chak De. You are just awed by the
fact that Sandeep Singh holds the record for the world’s fastest
flick even today, but glad that the film is over. Hockey is not cricket
in India. But definitely the choice of sport in the North. The music
is inspiring and the love song (Ishq di baajiyaan) is eminently
hummable. The Soorma anthem is memorable, but the dance
number is so Punjabi, and not easy to understand at all. Despite
many wonderful things, this film feels like a drag. Perhaps some
day, a hockey film will inspire us as Chak De did.

(this review appears on


Written by  on June 22, 2018

2 stars

Mini Review:

Sorry boss, if you want to scare the heck out of Indians, then you  have to try harder. Much harder. And we don’t need Hollywood telling us weirdness runs in the family. We know. We faced that monster way before Hollywood did. The film manages to hold our hopes because we like scary movie, we like psychological drama, and we like Toni Colette. But as the story unravels, it just becomes blah.

Main Review:

‘Is that your sister?’ A love interest for the brother with a weird mole asks him.
‘Yes.’ He answers
‘She looks retarded.’

And I went, ‘Whaaaaa?’

So she clucks. It is a bit unsettling at first, but remember that chachaji who makes those funny sounds when he’s reading the newspaper or nani who talks to herself sometimes? Well, family can be scarier than a silly girl who clucks. Only once, yes, once does the film make you jump out of your skin when the mom hears her cluck in the car…

I loved, loved, loved the idea of the mother (played brilliantly by Toni Colette) who makes meticulous miniatures. You know there’s something creepy going on when she makes a miniature of a mother she has just buried…

But after that? Blah! It becomes predictable. And the miniature of the car is not really a miniature. So you feel cheated. But everyone in the theatre is watching so intently, you don’t want to mutter rude things at the screen.

Builds Tension. But Kitna Slow! You Begin To Anticipate Events

That’s when you realise that the pace is excuciatingly slow and the filmmaker is taking the usual route to scare the audience. The home is darker inside than the outside, there is a grave desecrated, the dead grandma belonged to a cult, there are no cops in that city or the accidental death would be investigated (and that would give the filmmaker a chance to kill the suspicious policeman… Yes, the film gets that predictable… Sigh). Then there are clues, so many clues about where the story the story is going: strange black magic symbols (du-uh!), strange women befriend heroine, Strange woman turns out to be a ‘medium’, the entire town seems to be deserted except that the school is filled with kids who sort of vanish conveniently from the frame when weird kids are about to experience something wierder.

And this film proves that ghosts always appear behind and over the person’s shoulder. They even crawl upside down on ceilings. And knowing that weird stuff is happenning, characters enter into rooms (or go downstairs) without ever switching on the lights. And of course weird kids will see weird apparitions or visions. And most of them will be pointless. in this film, you don’t know why the dead granny is shown sitting among flames…

The Unwittingly Funny Cult Scene

Seriously, dude! Your mum just killed your dad, and your sister is dead and an even deader granny has been appearing in odd places around the house. You’re barely alive. WHY, WHY, WHY are you walking towards the area which looks strangely lit by hellfire? Run from the place, already! Of course you are going to turn out to be half-blood prince or satan’s twin or something! 

This film tries really hard to be dark (literally) and mysterious and scary. But we Indians do rituals (like getting brides maried to trees and goats and what have you) that are scarier…

I left the theater laughing because the cult said, ‘Hail Paimon!’ in the same way as you heard minions say, ‘Hail, Mogambo!’ in Mr. India



Written by  on June 1, 2018
A Result Of Watching Too Much Netflix

2.5 Stars

Mini Review:

A young man dedicated to righting the wrongs of the world
around him stumbles into something sinister and way
beyond his masked paperbag avatar of ‘Insaaf TV’ on
social media. Bhavesh Joshi tries to handle the big bad
world of baddies and is outnumbered. His one time friend
then takes on the role of the vigilante Bhavesh Joshi and
tries to undo the wrongs. The movie has some really
refreshing parts, and others are so blatantly aped from
Netflix shows and movies, they sort of cancel each other
and you come away shaking your head sadly.

Main Review:

Is Bhavesh Joshi trying to be like Kick-Ass the movie? Is he
meant to be the superhero every young person wants to be or
is he a spin off of ‘the angry young man against the world’
Amitabh Bachchan movies we loved in the 70s?  

From saving trees from being chopped off to discovering how
politicians are siphoning off the city’s water supplies to resell
the water for a price, a young out of work Bhavesh Joshi and
his paper-bag mask reach everywhere. Priyanshu Painyuli
who plays Bhavesh Joshi is such a wonderful find. He’s a fine
actor and looks the part of a young lad, intense about doing
the right thing. Anyone who grew up reading Indrajal comics
will tell you about homegrown heroes like Bahadur. Of course
the film has clever lines like, ‘We’re DC not Marvel. We’re cooler.’
Harshvardhan Kapoor is the quintessential ‘Engineer who hates
the cubicle coding life who is happy to leave to go to America
because nothing can go right here’ lad. He sits at their favourite
pub making ‘how we protest marched’ into a pick-up line.
Ashish Verma plays Rajat, the third friend who is the voice of
reason, the nerd who writes ‘graphic novel’ about Insaaf-Man.
The backstory of how the friends met is good fun. And you think
the movie is going to be good.

You want to understand why the film suddenly borrows from all
kinds of shows and movies and becomes generic underdog
superhero: the need to learn martial arts from a ‘Chinese’ person,
the need to add Fast and Furious style nitrous oxide (chop shops
in Bombay would facepalm at that because they’d add Liqui Moly
Speed Tec Benzene is legal and cheaper), the need to use a video
camera (what is this, the 80s?) instead of smartphones that
upload videos directly because it was so cool in movies like
Son of Rambow.

What made me sigh into my coffee was the Korean style fights
where baddies just keep coming at the hero their weapons
raised, and then you realise you need to sigh many more times
because the filmmakers have chipped away at the magic trying
to make a superhero movie. Without giving away the plot, let
me ask you computer engineers out there. How do you suddenly
know how to repaint motorbikes? Drive one (when he drives a
car mostly)? How can you re-jig the motorbike? How is it that
the office in Atlanta doesn’t care if the team lead has not
reported and connect with the Bombay boss? And why does
he do a Peter Parker staring at Mary Jane?

Harshvardhan Kapoor is boring. And his petulant, ‘Teach me!’ is
hysterical. Thankfully you are distracted by the underrated talent
of Nishikant Kamat (His ears are spectacularly cinematic too.).
He makes a great villain. It’s just that when people are already
in power, they don’t need such a scheme that involves so
much Semtex to get contracts issued in their favor. You realise
you have blown off everything in the coffee cup with your sighs.

The film is too long (155 minutes) to get to this point. There are
some good parts (the idea that Bhavesh Joshi is out there) and
many pathetic ones. It cancels out what could have been a
great straight to Netflix or Amazon show.

(this review appears on nowrunning dot com)            


Written by  on June 1, 2018

1 star

Mini Review:

This movie about guns and baddies is so slow you could
answer all your pending emails and the story would not have
moved an inch. A local politician and a local baddie rule a
small town with guns. The politician lusts after the wife of a
local chap. The machinations to kidnap her are so pathetic
and the posturing with guns is so ridiculous, you want to fast
forward the whole thing and be done with lust and guns
and whatever…

Main Review:

When you think about why someone needed to tell this story,
you come up with no answers. The story is so sketchy,
everything looks so stretched you wish you had a remote
control to fast forward the whole thing.

The movie begins ordinarily enough. The setting is Chambal,
the dreaded dacoit infested region. They say the waters of
the Chambal river turn anyone into a ‘dhaakad’ or ‘a heavy’.
A girl is getting married when dacoits show up to loot the
wedding. But wait! The dacoit is actually kidnapping the bride.
He’s Kadak Singh (played by Kay Kay Menon, wearing a large
handlebar moustache and yellow contact lenses). The bride’s
dad Shambhu, is none other than Jackie Shroff, who uses his
own gun to stop the looting and kills his daughter instead.
The cops show up and arrest Jackie Shroff (who looks the part
of a guy who could handle a gun, is taken away). Since
Shambhu is gone, Kadak Singh and his bad political crony
Ram Vijay Tripathi (played rather hammily by the hitherto infallible
Pankaj Tripathi) take over the area and become petty dictators.

Kadak Singh’s atrocities are witnessed by a young lad called
Radhe, who unwittingly saves Kadak Singh by refusing to identify
him as the killer in a police lineup…Then there’s Radhe’s
heartbreak over a teacher Miss Rosy (Mahie Gill who is predict-
ably clad in barely there blouses) who is raped and killed by the
sleazy Ram Vijay Tripathi, who then goes to jail. Radhe grows up
to be a namby-pamby Jimmy Sheirgill who marries Lalli (Shriya
Saran, who is dressed up too scantily to be village belle) who in
turn is ogled at and is wanted by the sleazy politician… So
Kadak Singh and Ram Vijay Tripathi hatch a convoluted plan
to first give Radhe a job, send him to do accounts in nearby
villages and then to make merry with Lalli. That takes at least
45 minutes to accomplish. You wonder why they don’t just
shoot Radhe and get on with the lust program? Then you
realise you don’t really care.

(this review appears on nowrunning dot com)


Written by  on June 1, 2018

Trope Ka Bazaar

2.5 Stars

Mini Review:

Four friends come together as grown ups when one of them,
Kalindi, decides to get married. The couple thinks it will be
a small, intimate do, but it turns out to be a great Indian
over the top shindig. The friends find their troubles magnified
under the glitter and after lots of boozy nights and days
discover how love triumphs all. You want to facepalm
several times but it’s all frothy and bubbly as Champagne…

Main Review:

Alas, You need a man for a shaadi… warna yeh ladkiyaan
hee Enough thee ji!

Kareena Kapoor is Kalindi Puri, hesitant about marriage because
she has seen how her parents fought and fought.

Sumeet Vyas is Rishab Malhotra who lives with her in Sydney
but because he’s ‘desi’ he wants to marry her. Kalindi says yes
and the two fly to India for the wedding.

Sonam Kapoor Ahuja is Avni, a divorce lawyer (her mum is
played by the gorgeous Neena Gupta) who dreams of getting
married having kids and doing the whole family thing. Of course
she’s going to go through men like a sieve (and teenagers in the
theater are going to squeal and scream because a lad returns her
undies to her!) (grown ups will roll their eyes many times at the
predictability of it all)

Swara Bhaskar plays Sakshi Soni, the rich girl who owns a
Bentley, is a motormouth,  but is having a hard time in her
marriage because her husband catches her (Insert many
squeals from teenagers here). And yes, the trope is well played.

And as all movies go, you need a friend who is extra-large so
the writers can bung in politically correct things about not body
shaming someone. But Shikha Talsania carries her role rather
well, despite being called ‘Mother Dairy’ by her unkind friend.

Kitna Facepalm karoon? Predictability ka sale, Harrods
type tha, but…

As if this much predictability wasn’t enough, you have to add

Manoj Pahwa and Ayesha Raza as Rishab’s OTT parents who
are part of a large OTT family. There’s glitter and gota and shiny
lights and sequined dresses! That dress was the funnest thing
I have seen in a Hindi film. One star for Kareena Kapoor for
wearing it. And for sitting on the moon with Sumeet Vyas.

The other super scene, that earns it own half star is the child
imitating the mother scene. It goes on for too long, but it’s fun.

One half star for the beautiful red quilt in Bhandari’s room. He’s
too wonderfully sleazy to have such good taste. I expected a
Formula One or an English Premier League quilt.

Despite the predictability of the whole wedding, ‘problems’ these
poor little rich girls have (which can only be solved by girlfriends
and a trip to foreign lands), the film comes across as real when in
the last twenty minutes the pieces of these platinum edged puzzle
pieces begin to fall into place.

Of course Kareena Kapoor is delicious and an amazing actor. She
holds this trope bazaar together. In the end, love wins and there’s
a wedding and more partying and more boozing…   

(btw, wrote this review in my Desigual blue and white summer dress and Valentino Camustar rockstud leather slingbacks)


Written by  on May 26, 2018
Hum Aapke Hain Koun!

2.5 stars

Mini Review:

When you see Renuka Shahane meet Madhuri Dixit, songs and dialog from their famous film together play in your head. Does Madhuri Dixit with Renuka’s daughter’s heart remain a stranger? Does fulfilling the young girl’s wishes make Madhuri a better person? Why is she doing what she does? If this film had been written a little more carefully, then it would not feel so much like it was a throwback of the 90s. It’s moralistic, but it’s fun. And yes, Madhuri Dixit is beautiful!

Main Review: 

(Channelising my inner Vandana Gupte – she plays the mother-in-law to Madhuri Dixit – for the main review) 

बहुत ही हसु आता है यह सिनेमा देख के. 

माधुरी दीक्षित वैसे ही गोड़ है जैसे वह सलमान खान के साथ दिखती थी. आणि तिची स्माइल वैसे ही किलर है जैसे आधी थी. आधी मतलब बिफोर, आगोदर। 

पण मैं पूछती हूँ की यह स्टोरी कब लिखी थी? वीस वर्ष के पहले क्या? सब कितना पुराना लगता है! आम्ही मराठी लोग बहुत ही फॉरवर्ड टाइप के होते हैं. हमारे पुणे में कितनी नौ वार साड़ी बाँधने वाली आज्जी लोग मोटरसाइकिल पर भाजी आणणे को जाती है. 

चलो सासुओं के लिए अच्छा है की बहु को पूछते हुए दिखाया है. यह करूँ क्या? वह करूँ क्या! रियल जीवन में कौन पूछता है? और सुमित राघवन जब बोलता है घर का काम करने के बाद जो  करो, मेरी तो हार्ट में अटैक ही आ गया था. इतनी सुन्दर बायको पर ऐसा धाक किस मराठी लड़के को होता है?! वह तोह शेली के तरह उसके आगे पीछे घूमता है. असो. फिल्म में गलत दिखाया है. रियल लाइफ में बायको ऐसा रूसती की गाडगीळ से सोने का हार मिलने की बाद ही मानती. 

माधुरी की स्माइल आज भी वैसा ही पावर है, बर का!

लेकिन मेक अप थोड़ा कम चलता घर के आत कोई इतना मेक अप पोत के काम करता है क्या? लेकिन मेरी एक यंग मैत्रीण थोड़ा जल के बोली, झुर्रियां छिपाने के लिए रे! वह इंग्लिश विंग्लिश में नहीं लय श्रीदेवी ने नाक पे कुछ विचित्र सा किया था? बेचारी अब नहीं है,तो हम इसी फिल्म के बारे में बोलते हैं. 

ये सारे यंग फ्रेंड्स माधुरी को ‘दी’ क्यों बोलते है? मराठी का अच्छा वर्ड हैं न, ताई. वह वापरने में क्या प्रॉब्लम थी?

और हार्ट ऑपरेशन का यह इतना हाथभर स्कार रहता है. आक्खी लाइफ के लिए. माधुरी के हार्ट के पास कोई स्कार ही नहीं था! दाग अच्छे हैं ऐसा आप लोग ही बोलते हैं, न, फिर ऑपरेशन का दाग क्यों नहीं दिखाया?

लेकिन वह सब छोड़ो. मुझे यह बताओ, कौन सासु आज कल पापड़ बनती है? शी बाई! नसते उद्द्योग! सब सासु आजकल किट्टी पार्टी में जाती है या फिर सीनियर सिटीजन क्लब में. यह चूक दिखाया है.

हाँ कुछ कुछ बहुत हसु आने वाले डायलॉग है. जैसे के माधुरी जब बेटी का टॉप देख के उसे पिशवी कहती है. इसीलिए फिल्म चालेल बर का!

थोड़ी वेगळी है यह फिल्म. मराठी फिल्मवाले सिर्फ शिवाजी पर बनाते हैं, या फिर विठोबा पर. या फिर इतनी गाँव वाली बनाते हैं की कौन इतने पैसे दे कर गाँव के दुःख देखने जाएगा? 

हो, आणि ते सगळे ‘मी बकेट लिस्ट पूर्ण करायला गेले आणि त्यात मी माला भेटली’ टाइप शिकवण इस वैरी बोरिंग हाँ. आणि माय नवरा विल पळून जाईल अगर मैं उसको बोलूं की तुम मेरी बकेट लिस्ट में नहीं हो, क्योंकि तुम मेरे बकेट हो… बाल्टी कौन कहता है यार!

वंदना गुप्ते का काम अप्रतिम हुआ है, और मुझे तो रेणुका शहाणे बहुत अच्छी लगती है. मैं तो बहुत हैप्पी निकली फिल्म देख के. लम्बी लगती है क्योंकि बहुत ओल्ड फैशन टाइप है. जरा गिलने को तकलीफ होती है.