Review: The Least Of These: The Graham Staines Story

Written by  on March 30, 2019

A Good Story Told Horribly

1 star

Mini Review:

So you want to tell the story behind gruesome murders but when you go tear you clothes melodramatic, you are doing disservice to the victims and also to the cause. If only the filmmakers had restrained themselves and told the story…

Main Review:

I watched the film at a press screening, which means everyone just guffawed the first time Manav Bannerjee (played by Sharman Joshi) shouted loudly, ‘I’m a journalist!’ to claim a free ride in a bus, then just shook our heads in disbelief when he stomps into the scene (which he’s been photographing) and demands to know ‘what’s in the envelope!’ and, ‘Tell me! I’m a journalist!’

Obviously no one bothered to check how journalists work. No journalist will ever do stupid things like this. No editor would hand over a camera (no matter how much money you give as ‘security’) to a new ‘journalist’ who looks more like an intern (because he just submitted essays he wrote which got him a job), and no journalist who’s taking pictures surreptitiously is going to march up to the supposed conversion ceremony and disrupt it by demanding to see the contents of the envelope. He comes across as completely stupid.

Plus who moves homes when one is not sure of a job, pregnant wife in tow?

So Manav meets editor of the local newspaper who makes it very clear that there is just one story Manav needs to follow: get dirt on Christian missionaries working in Orissa, because they convert the poor when they dole out help. Manav agrees because he thinks so too. 

Makes for very poor journalism when they have already reached a conclusion before investigations. But it does not care to show how the poorest of the poor get help when they do convert, otherwise die horrible deaths because the society gives bullshit about Karma and does not help them. There are instances where you want to understand where such deep rooted hatred for the missionaries comes from, but it’s just stated as a fact rather than shown how or why it has become such a big problem…

Anyway, more illogical scenes where Manav tells Graham Staines (played by Stephen Baldwin) that he’s going to report about all the conversions. Graham Staines tells him report about my work, not me. 

And you facepalm, because this is such a self-defeating exercise. 

Manav acts like he’s in a high school play, where he is supposed to look suspiciously at everything, narrowing his eyes, creeping about in broad daylight.

The second half of the film where the bad guy Mahendra who hears Manav speak against Christians and is inspired to do something gets interesting. The tedious, rambling encounters with the old leper who says he’s cured finally begin to mean something. You want to forgive Manav but who can forget that he touches the leper unknowingly and creates a scene in the bus, then forgets about it and coes home to hug his wife! People bathe before entering their homes when a shadow of an untouchable falls on them, so this scene that Manav creates does not compute…

The extended murder scene is simply horrific. And could have been done with more finesse. But then the whole movie is so melodramatic, the gentleness and forgiveness shown by Graham Staines’ wife seems to be out of place. One expected a over the top mourning scene bringing, ‘Why God?! Why me?!’ style which befits the rest of the film. 

The subsequent change of heart for Manav seems to be unbelievable, espcially because he thinks that the children were also recruting people to be converted… His repentence seems to be overdone because they show Manav kneeling in front of Mrs. Staines, pleading forgiveness. It reeks of a telenovella.  

I wish this wasn’t such a one sided film. The work done by Graham Staines and his family deserve a better film. The help extended by missionaries need a better champion than this film. It simply ends up being a propaganda for the missionaries and that is such a shame.






    

manishalakhe 2019-03-29 12:13:00

Written by  on March 29, 2019
Review: GONE KESH

Charming tale of adversity told well…


2 stars

Mini Review:


A sweet little film that makes several inroads into your heart. Touching, funny and everyone acts brilliantly. A story of a young girl in a small town who begins to lose her hair and has to live through razing from her schoolmates and then lives an embarrassed, fearful life as a young girl through college and work life. The whole cast does such a good job, this film deserves a watch.


Main Review:


When society is obsessed with long hair, what does a young girl do when she begins to lose hers?


Enakshi Dasgupta lives with her mother and father in a small town of Siliguri and has won many certificates at school for her dance. She’s sixteen and realises that her hair loss is alarming and visible when her mum discovers lots of hair in the shower and her classmates tease her about having islands on her head.


That children can be mean is known, but this happy sixteen year old has to battle more demons. She is now so friendless, she eats her lunch alone, does not play with other kids (for fear of razing) and sits at the back of the bus where no breeze will show her bald patches to everyone. Her hair loss is so alarming she has to wear a scarf to school. Shweta Tripathi plays Enakshi with so much confidence your respect for her commitment to the role grows as you see her hair disappear completely.


Deepika Amin and Vipin Sharma play her parents. There’s lots of empathy, humor and good writing here which is a rare thing these days. And they do everything parents in a small town can do for their daughter. They take her to doctors, try home remedies and worry for her…


There is plenty of humor despite the situation that seems to serious. Especially when they try and get her married off. And when the shopkeepers chat about traveling on an airplane. While you and I are so blase about air travel, you understand how important it is for Enakshi’s parents to dream about going to see the Taj Mahal some day. Humor is stupendous when Enakshi is pursued by a young lad who is hesitant to ask her out and gets advice from his best friend. Jitendra Kumar makes for a pleasant love interest for Enakshi.


Of course, Enakshi’s test comes when she can face her inner demons and stand confidently in front of the world. Initially you think that the story is going to be predictable, but the little film surprises you.



(this review appears on nowrunning dot com)


Review: NOTEBOOK

Written by  on March 29, 2019
Creepy Ya Cute? Cannot Decide…
Lekin Kashmir is Awesome


2 stars


Mini Review:


It’s an official remake of Nicholas Sparks’ romance made by Hollywood a while ago. Except this is set in Kashmir and hence stunning. Plus the newcomers are not bad at all, and the kids are the sweetest.


Main Review:


The film introduces Zaheer Iqbal and Pranutan Bahl as Kabir and Firdous, both teachers at a small school in the middle of a lake in Kashmir. The setting is gorgeous and distracts us from the fact that Zaheer as Kabir is not really Ryan Gosling from the original story, but I suppose he has his moments, and has a decent voice.


Kabir is not a very good teacher, but the kids begin to like him, and so do we as an audience. He finds a diary left behind by the previous teacher, and begins to read, promptly falling in love with the writer, Firdous teacher.


At first the reading seems to be tiresome, but it slowly introduces the characters and we realise that we don’t really mind them. Perhaps it is the stunning setting of the film that distracts us from the premise and you don’t think that the lad is rather creepy, seeking out Firdous whom he has never met. His jealous rage when he reads that Firdous is about to get married to another man makes you pause. This is a very weird kind of love, he is jealous of someone he has never met and can burn the notebook he has really no right to be reading…


At least in the original story, Ryan Gosling is reading the diary to an old man to help him reclaim his memories, here, when Kabir actually goes to the school where Firdous is now teaching and wanders from classroom to classroom looking for a teacher with a tattoo of a star on her hand (and no one stops him!). If that doesn’t send alarm bells ringing for the safety of the children in that school, what will?


The film tackles the Kashmir situation between people and their loyalties rather well. With one father ready to convert his son to radical religious teaching and the teacher pleading with the father to help change the discourse is what earns this movie its stars. And yes, the children in that floating school are so cute, you forgive the creepy teacher who is reading another person’s diary. The kids have been cast well, and they do not annoy you as other kids do in Bollywood movies. If nothing, this movie will perhaps persuade young people to keep a diary and step away from their infernal phones.


(this review appears on nowrunning.com)

Review: JUNGLEE

Written by  on March 29, 2019
It’s what happens when you try to mix action with emotion…


1 star


Mini Review:


Remember Ong Bak? Where the young lad and the elephants share a chemistry and save their world? Well, this one tries hard to bring the story of a boy and an elephant, ivory poachers, martial arts, relationships together and makes an unpalatable mess of it all.


Main Review:


There are not one, but three Ong Bak movies to steal material from, Vidyut Jamwal is a good martial arts action star, plus the film has been directed by Chuck Russell who has made films like Mask and Nightmare On Elm Street and Eraser. So how could all this go horribly wrong?


It does. Because they expect Vidyut Jamwal to emote. The closest he comes to that is mimicking a two by four. His film Force saved him from baring his lack of acting chops because it had lots and lots of action. Here, he’s introduced to the audience by fighting silly looking chaps videotaping a fake torture of a puppy! Who thought this up?


So Raj is a vet in the city, and his dad runs an elephant sanctuary in the… yes, you guessed it: Jungle. ‘Welcome to the jungle!’ is an actual dialog in the film! Dad wants son to come to the jungle for his mother’s death anniversary, and Raj reluctantly agrees because he’s supposed to hate his father for the death of his mother… Needless back story, but here we are, trying to summon emotion from an action star. It’s setting itself for failure right away.


There’s a journalist who travels with bags and a tent and everything else who suddenly seems to have a crush on Raj. There’s a girl, Shankara (played by Pooja Sawant)  who he left behind who is the only female Mahout in the country (she wears an elephant head nose-pin and a lapel pin so you don’t forget that), who also has a crush on Raj. There’s a Ranger (played adequately by Akshay Oberoi who seems to get stuck with such roles), a poacher who spouts Sanskrit lines from the Mahabharata needlessly (Atul Kulkarni hams it like no one’s business), there are several gangsters of various nationalities (Singaporean, Thai, Indian and yes, a blonde gangsters moll too).


The elephants are killed for their tusks, and Raj and the Ranger fight out a very badly staged fight which the poacher ends by bringing a gun to the martial arts fight and shoots them down. It would have been a relief had the hero died, but they have a rather idiotic interference by the elephant headed god Ganesh who tells Raj that he has to live. Before you can facepalm, Raj is out there, alive and avenging the elephants and dodging bullets.

This film is so awful, the one sentence where you are told that you should not buy ivory products earns a happy nod and the appearance of the baby elephant is so sweet you ignore the fact that they have the boy who played young Raj rush at the baby elephant with other kids to pet it. You just hope you forget you watched the bad cops trying to break Raj’s bones with a hammer. You just hope they don’t make a sequel.


(this review appears on nowrunning.com)   

Review: KESARI

Written by  on March 21, 2019
They Took A Historic Battle,
Turned It Into An Election Time Propaganda Film.


2 stars


Mini Review:


The final battle to the death is worth the watch, but when you see religion, patriotism, propaganda and soldiering mix in a movie timed for release during elections in India, you want to cringe but that would be politically incorrect. But honestly, the first hour and a half they need to set up the film is as dull and dry as the setting of the film.


Main Review:


The film is set in forts in the dry and dusty land on the border of Afghanistan. The film is almost 156 minutes long and only the last 20 minutes of the battle make you feel anything if at all.

But when I got back home after the screening, I checked the net, and guess what, this simple history lesson made tears flow. The film loses out so much!

Barring the last battle where you have only one hero, the rest of the film is a painful setting up of main character. We get to know of sardar Ishar Singh who is hotheaded and his first skirmish with Pathans when he saves an Afghan woman from her nasty husband and hoards of men ready to kill her, his argument with his superior officer (the trope of the rebel hero is so badly done, you see everything before it strikes the characters in the movie), his becoming a leader to the 21 lackadaisical Sikh lads inspiring them to become soldiers…


If you haven’t groaned enough, there is a horrible Muslim cleric who wants to behead the Afghan woman and bring the Sikh soldiers, especially Ishar Singh to his knees, remove the turban (which the Sikhs consider as holy and as a sign of pride) and hence insult them. There is a British officer who expects Ishar Singh to salute him, humiliates him by calling him ‘fucker’ and also insults his pride by saying that India’s soil only produces cowards in halting Hindi (delivered with deliberation, to show that he’s making an effort to be slow, because Hindi is ‘foreign language’). And yes, the Sikh soldiers are also super tropes: a soldier who misses his child and keeps reading a letter with the child’s palm print, a soldier who is a teenager, a soldier who does not smile and is stern, a soldier who polishes shoes and puts them away because those shoes are for his dad, a soldier who was called away at his wedding and is teased because he’s a virgin. The Afghan Pathans are tropes too: they are cruel and savage hoards, they yell when they attack, and yes, among them is an obviously gay character (who just seems to have been added because…) who wears henna has painted fingernails, makes these weird ‘come hither’ eye movements and carries a blunderbuss, killing from a hiding place…


If that isn’t ridiculous, it is the moments during a raging battle that leave you saying, ‘Why are you wasting time?’


The final battle is brave, very brave. And it’s a true story of a battle at Saragarhi where 21 soldiers fought over 10,000 marauding Pashtun hoards. But in the film they bring the battle to a halt showing how the soldiers cared for each other: says one dying soldier, ‘My mother will be alone, now!’ another tries to make the stern soldier who’s dying, laugh for one last time. There are no more bullets left so the soldiers use the gun as a stick…


The emotional scenes are so stretched, you want to intervene and say, ‘Hey! Don’t forget the enemies are baying for your blood! Get on with the dying!’

And you don’t want to ask how the heck did Ishar Singh get time to change his khaki uniformed turban wear the saffron pagdi right before battle… You have stopped caring.


Akshay Kumar plays the hero Ishar Singh, and credit must be given to him for carrying the film single handed. He spouts all the patriotic lines rather convincingly and fights rather well. But it moves only the easily persuaded people who attach national pride to everything these days. One has seen many war films that move one to tears. This film is too agenda-driven, too jingoistic to touch any real chord.


(as one twitter person was quick to point out, that blogger color is saffron too, and i should change it because of the review. remember, they made people wear the star of david on their arm once… so am not about to prove my love for my country by doing anything for anyone…)

(sans the you tube link, the review appears on nowrunning dot com)      

Review: PHOTOGRAPH

Written by  on March 16, 2019
Softee Softee Catchee Arty Audience
(But it just doesn’t work)


2.5 stars


Mini Review:


A street photographer takes a picture of a quiet girl from a well-to-do family. On a whim he sends the photograph to his grandmother who shows up to meet the love of her grandson’s life. In spite of the huge gap in their economic status, she agrees to meet the grandma… You see every set up, for every emotional moment from a mile away. The film fails at many levels…


Main Review:

Fairy Tales Are Made Here…

The premise of a poor man meets princess is an ancient fairy tale. And we’ve already seen Highway where a poor little rich girl runs away from home and meets a poor man with a heart of gold…It’s just that both these films are so implausible you begin to realise fairy tales in real life have gory endings.


A street photographer Rafi (played brilliantly by Nawazuddin Siddiqui) takes pictures of tourists at the Gateway of India. He takes a picture of a young girl Meloni (played by Sanya Malhotra, who was probably told to play the role without any expression), who walks off with the photograph, and forgets to pay him. Meloni belongs to a well-to-do Gujarati family and is studying to become a Chartered Accountant. In fact, she is a topper in the first year exams. She is quiet and participates in conversations at home only with a yes or no. Rafi spots a billboard with Meloni’s photograph among the exam toppers and tracks her down to the coaching institute. Explains that he sent his old granny Meloni’s photo on a whim (his granny has been pestering him to get married by telling all and sundry to find Rafi a bride), and that granny has decided to show up in Bombay wanting to meet the girl.


Poor People Are Interesting…

No one understands why Meloni agrees. And you watch as she suddenly begins to be fascinated by this strange new world. In other words, this is poverty porn. She is no different from the tourists who visit slums (now a featured attraction). There seems to be no motive for her to want to live in poverty, no matter how good a guy Rafi is. She has tea with him, eats a granita from a street vendor (and promptly falls sick), goes on taxi rides with Rafi, even goes to the cinema with him. And the arty crowd will gush because he wants to hold her hand but doesn’t, because boundaries…

It’s when she goes to his home when granny is not there, I wondered about her intelligence. Bombay is a safe enough place, but what if the stalker photographer (that’s how he finds her!) turns out to be a rapist? And it’s not about his looks, you just cannot compute her behaviour. Women learn self preservation from early on. This seems to be rather irresponsible…


The film gets really tedious because there’s nothing more to this fascination with poverty. Nawazuddin begins to preen and it’s cute up to a point because the class divide between them doesn’t really go away.

But it looks like there was no script to the film and everyone was just winging it. The dialogues get more and more stilted. Farrukh Jaffar as granny is delightful with her quick change of temper and stories she has, but when you hear her go on and on about ‘maa ka dil’ (a mother’s heart) you just want to say, ‘Shut up granny!’. The lack of a scriptwriter is acutely felt. Some scenes look like they needed to come with Spark Notes. For example: Meloni’s feet are shown in a close up at least five times. It reminds you of the embarrassed heroines of yesteryear, who would scratch the ground with their toes. But why are we seeing her feet so many times?

Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Vijay Raaz are kulfi, every body else is softee…


Jim Sarbh playing a pervert again is groan worthy. Sachin Khedekar and Geetanjali Kulkarni are not best utilised. But Vijay Raaz shows up as a ghost who walks the creaking floorboards in one scene and steals the show. Rafi’s poor friends all have hearts of gold, and the poverty becomes tedious to watch after a while, even though the biryani is lazeez! The movie pretends to be arty (has a whole lot of scenes that say ‘mera nuance dekho’ in neon) but the patchy story that goes round and round will not work with the multiplex audience. This film should have gone into a streaming service rather than into the theaters.       



(the review appears on nowrunning dot com)       

Review: BADLA

Written by  on March 8, 2019

To Reinvent The Wheel
Add Mahabharat, Turn Spanish To Indian.


2. 5 stars


Mini Review:

Naina Sethi is ‘Businesswoman of the Year’ but she’s implicated in a murder. Her lawyer has sent Badal Gupta who has never lost a case and he’s helping Naina prove her innocence. An official remake of the Spanish film ‘The Invisible Guest’ on Netflix, this film keeps you involved…

Main Review:

Why Reinvent The Wheel?

The Spanish original ‘The Invisible Guest’ is quite dark and threatening and quite a decent watch, but has a huge problem. It doesn’t explain why the suspect is out free and is able to consult lawyers. Let’s say he’s rich, so the cops have let him go. But after having arrested someone from the hotel room where there’s no one but a dead body, there seems to be no plausible explanation why the police let him go. Badla is an official remake, and does try to make up for this huge plot hole by having Tapsee Pannu who plays Naina Sethi wear an ankle bracelet. But then you begin wondering: why reinvent the wheel?

Lawyers Manipulate The Truth

Amitabh Bachchan plays Badal Gupta, a hotshot lawyer who is there to prepare Naina for her day in court. He asks her to tell all, creating and recreating scenarios that happened when the police found Naina over the dead body of Arjun inside a hotel room that was locked from the inside. Naina maintains her innocence, saying that Arjun, her lover, and she were being blackmailed by some unknown person and that’s why they were at the hotel. The person was hiding inside the closet and knocked her down and killed Arjun.

But the lawyer tells her that her story needs to convince the judge and this tale of an invisible killer just doesn’t compute. Over the next two hours, we go over different scenarios with events from Mahabharat used to keep it ‘Indian’. Before I mutter aloud on how we Indians will never really get away from the epic, I smile, because Tapsee Pannu says, ‘I haven’t read it, but I know the outline’…

As the story moves ahead, we are introduced to Rani Kaur who is searching for her missing son. Amrita Singh as Rani Kaur is simply brilliant.

If only they had stuck to the original, we would have heard Amrita Singh play the role of the lawyer questioning Naina about what really happened. Alas, it is Amitabh Bachchan who is a name the audience wants to see on the marquee…

All in all, the film is well adapted, but does feel like the plot is too convoluted, and it goes on and on, even though it lasts only for two hours.


(this review appears on nowrunning.com)

Review: LUKA CHUPPI

Written by  on March 1, 2019
Everything About Small Towns You Did Not Wish To See


1.5 stars


Mini Review:


A young couple decide to try and ‘live in’ and get caught. The family believes the fake evidence of marriage they have planted for neighbours and bring the two back home. Their unconditional acceptance makes the two feel guilty, and they make several attempts to get married for real. The set up is totally unfunny, but the attempts to get married does bring laughter, if only you can stay awake.


Main Review:


Chote Sheher = Quirky People
(The most asinine assumption ever!)

When you try and tell a ‘small town’ tale, you must understand that your assumptions can backfire if the audience does find it funny. And this film fails in the first half completely. The young man and woman, Kartik Aryan (fresh off the success of Sonu Ke Teetu Ki Sweety) and Kriti Sanon (pretty as always) have no more chemistry than a wooden bench in the park has with the trees. And the first ‘daring’ assumption made by the young woman: ‘I want to try a ‘live in’ relationship because it sounds so cool and better than getting my heart broken like I did with a previous boyfriend’ is just plain stupid because she does not realise that a ‘live-in’ relationship breaking up could be just as painful. And the second assumption that young men and women can get physical only if they are in a live in relationship or on their honeymoon is so ridiculous, you are stumped.


But in order to make it ‘funny’, the writers add a political gimmick. The young woman’s dad runs a political party whose sole aim is to separate young couples in parks and other public spaces because ‘it is against our culture’. So Kartik, he’s called ‘Guddu’ and Kriti’s ‘Rashmi’ escape to Gwalior to try out a ‘Live-in’. While the two are happy in their love nest, we see more weird characters show up. Oh yes, the two lovebirds and their friend Abbas (Aparshakti Khurana) are perhaps the only normal people you have seen so far. Guddu’s family consists of totally oddball parents, brothers (one married, the other desperate), two hanger ons (both brothers of the sister in law). Kriti’s family has a mean politician dad (Vinay Pathak) and a loud goon like brother, and a mum whose face we do not see…Of course they get the super talented Pankaj Tripathi to play one of the hanger ons, wear really ghastly clothing, and make him spy on Guddu, and run after every woman… If this has not made you cringe, then Guddu and Rashmi’s neighbours will make you puke in your popcorn. And please small towns are not populated with oddballs.

Assumption: Women make ridiculous demands.
Men will get beaten up for trying to meet the demands.


The funny part is the last half hour of the film. The two are accepted and brought back home. They feel guilty, and now Rashmi insists that she wants to be married properly, so she feels like a ‘bahu’ (daughter-in-law) of the family. Before you facepalm, the two have tried and get Guddu gets beaten up for this. Each time Rashmi escapes because her face is covered (as is the tradition). But for such laughs, are you going to give up reasoning?

Guddu staring into nothing (but looks like he’s ogling at the derriere of the maid sweeping) and his dad and brother assuming he is sex starved (now he’s married so he must be hankering after variety) is the worst kind of joke to make in 2019. It’s plain embarrasing to hear a bidaai song when Guddu is about to step out of the home to go live-in with Rashmi in another town. Who thought it was funny? And the set up to parents discovering their lie is the song, ‘Pyar kiya toh darna kya’? I mean, seriously? The film is so bad, you notice Kartik Aryan carefully throws the water (in the bath scene) over his shoulder as as to not mess with his carefully made up hair… And just so stupid peple in the audience understand that Pankaj Tripathi is in a comic role, he is given wildly colorful clothes to wear and he pulls so many faces, it’s a shame to see his talent used that way. I hope he got to keep those shiny shoes.

You do chuckle because each attempt to get married is stupider than the first. But you come away having lost two hours of your life…


(this review appears on nowrunning.com)

Review: LUKA CHUPPI

Written by  on March 1, 2019
Everything About Small Towns You Did Not Wish To See


1.5 stars


Mini Review:


A young couple decide to try and ‘live in’ and get caught. The family believes the fake evidence of marriage they have planted for neighbours and bring the two back home. Their unconditional acceptance makes the two feel guilty, and they make several attempts to get married for real. The set up is totally unfunny, but the attempts to get married does bring laughter, if only you can stay awake.


Main Review:


Chote Sheher = Quirky People
(The most asinine assumption ever!)

When you try and tell a ‘small town’ tale, you must understand that your assumptions can backfire if the audience does find it funny. And this film fails in the first half completely. The young man and woman, Kartik Aryan (fresh off the success of Sonu Ke Teetu Ki Sweety) and Kriti Sanon (pretty as always) have no more chemistry than a wooden bench in the park has with the trees. And the first ‘daring’ assumption made by the young woman: ‘I want to try a ‘live in’ relationship because it sounds so cool and better than getting my heart broken like I did with a previous boyfriend’ is just plain stupid because she does not realise that a ‘live-in’ relationship breaking up could be just as painful. And the second assumption that young men and women can get physical only if they are in a live in relationship or on their honeymoon is so ridiculous, you are stumped.


But in order to make it ‘funny’, the writers add a political gimmick. The young woman’s dad runs a political party whose sole aim is to separate young couples in parks and other public spaces because ‘it is against our culture’. So Kartik, he’s called ‘Guddu’ and Kriti’s ‘Rashmi’ escape to Gwalior to try out a ‘Live-in’. While the two are happy in their love nest, we see more weird characters show up. Oh yes, the two lovebirds and their friend Abbas (Aparshakti Khurana) are perhaps the only normal people you have seen so far. Guddu’s family consists of totally oddball parents, brothers (one married, the other desperate), two hanger ons (both brothers of the sister in law). Kriti’s family has a mean politician dad (Vinay Pathak) and a loud goon like brother, and a mum whose face we do not see…Of course they get the super talented Pankaj Tripathi to play one of the hanger ons, wear really ghastly clothing, and make him spy on Guddu, and run after every woman… If this has not made you cringe, then Guddu and Rashmi’s neighbours will make you puke in your popcorn. And please small towns are not populated with oddballs.

Assumption: Women make ridiculous demands.
Men will get beaten up for trying to meet the demands.


The funny part is the last half hour of the film. The two are accepted and brought back home. They feel guilty, and now Rashmi insists that she wants to be married properly, so she feels like a ‘bahu’ (daughter-in-law) of the family. Before you facepalm, the two have tried and get Guddu gets beaten up for this. Each time Rashmi escapes because her face is covered (as is the tradition). But for such laughs, are you going to give up reasoning?

Guddu staring into nothing (but looks like he’s ogling at the derriere of the maid sweeping) and his dad and brother assuming he is sex starved (now he’s married so he must be hankering after variety) is the worst kind of joke to make in 2019. It’s plain embarrasing to hear a bidaai song when Guddu is about to step out of the home to go live-in with Rashmi in another town. Who thought it was funny? And the set up to parents discovering their lie is the song, ‘Pyar kiya toh darna kya’? I mean, seriously? The film is so bad, you notice Kartik Aryan carefully throws the water (in the bath scene) over his shoulder as as to not mess with his carefully made up hair… And just so stupid peple in the audience understand that Pankaj Tripathi is in a comic role, he is given wildly colorful clothes to wear and he pulls so many faces, it’s a shame to see his talent used that way. I hope he got to keep those shiny shoes.

You do chuckle because each attempt to get married is stupider than the first. But you come away having lost two hours of your life…


(this review appears on nowrunning.com)

Review: TOTAL DHAMAAL

Written by  on February 22, 2019

Senior Citizen Edition


2 stars


Mini Review:


A dying man gives a clue to this money mad bunch of people, mostly senior citizens. That begins the mindless comic race to Janakpur zoo where the stolen money has been kept. Each duo is worse than the other and even though the slapstick comedy does make you laugh in bits, but mostly you can see the joke coming at your from a mile away. Because the cast are stars from yesteryears, it just takes them so long to understand the joke. Kids might find the scenes with CGI zoo animals good fun, I just wanted to kill myself.


Main Review:

I’m Not An Ageist, But…


If you’d rather stay at home and binge watch National Geographic specials where animal win and foolish men die, that would be eminently more satisfying than watching this film. All the stars are just of the wrong age to play the fool. If the cast was seven, maybe even stupid and seventeen years old, the capers would be fun to watch. But when you see fifty five year olds in dungarees licking lollipops, you don’t know whether to look away or to throw up in your popcorn. Javed Jaffrey plays the simple Manav well, but it’s awful to see him do stupid things as though he were in a kiddie cartoon. But if you expect a kiddie cartoon instead of a film, then you might find a way to smile when Aadi tells his brother Manav (together they are Aadi Manav or Primitive Man, groan!) to not save him, and then gets into quicksand, and Manav of course finds a snake to throw at Aadi when there’s a clothesline (in the middle of nowhere) he could have used.


‘But there are clothes hanging on it!’ is simple logic, and you do laugh, but you have to put up with Arshad Warsi who plays Aadi, and you do kick yourself several times.

You can insert ads for joint aches and pains and stomach troubles because the oldies try really hard to be fun. Hollywood tried old men in hot tubs and the result was ghastly to watch…


God Help Us! Johnny Lever Cannot

Ritesh Deshmukh is paired with Pitobash and the only funny thing happens is when God intervenes and saves them. Don’t ask. Even Johnny Lever cannot save the film with a sketch with the helicopter made from an auto-rickshaw.


Boman Irani is the cop chasing these low lifes with a partner Vijay Patkar who has just that one physical comedy thing called the funny eye. The sequence with the train coming at them all in the tunnel could have been funnier had it been not so stretched. Now that’s an idea! They should have edited out each sketch a little more to make the physical comedy bearable.

This film is nothing but a bunch of really poor comedy skits kids do in school. But people were laughing in the theater, imagining their uncles and aunties slipping on banana peals…


Anil Kapoor and Madhuri Dixit save the silly film with their husband and wife getting divorced act but even their struggle to reach the highway with the help of the stereotype ‘Madrasi’ (played by Ali) is annoying. Some husband vs wife dialog is funny, but so politically incorrect you cringe.


And you cringe when Sanjay Mishra who is paired with Ajay Devgn behave like teens. Neither of the two can do physical comedy well and you want to tell Ajay Devgn that he needs to go back doing the angry policeman roles again. Even the freshness of Jackie Shroff being the voice of GPS loses its shine because it goes on and on and on.


Since the action takes place in a zoo, there are scenes with animals who are so badly created you wish you didn’t have to watch. Crystal the monkey gets credit. But I guess, everyone else is so bad, why not, eh?


Mahesh Manjrekar shows up too, sometimes sounding like a South Indian baddie, and other times like how the British extras in Bollywood movies speak Hindi. Was happy to see the fake gorilla beat the man with the fake accent up.

Sonakshi Sinha’s Item Number Earns A Star For the Film!

The movie ends with everyone getting a bit of the money. And advice to zookeeper Esha Gupta from Sanjay Mishra with all the puns earns a star on its own: Itne saare jaanvaro ki dekhbhaal kartee ho, is jaanvar ko bhi apna lo. Yeh jaanvar hai, tumhari jaan ban-na chaahta hai, tum ise apna var maan lo!

And yes, I actually loved watching Sonakshi Sinha showing up only to dance (what a svelte figure she cuts now!) to a song that has been remixed like a thousand times…   



(A non-ageist version of the review appears on nowrunning dot com)