Review: REDRUM: A LOVE STORY

Written by  on August 10, 2018

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)           

Review: VISHWAROOP 2

Written by  on August 10, 2018
VANITY PROJECT #Fail


1.5 stars


Mini Review:


Wisam Ahmad Kashmiri is an Indian spy who has infiltrated deep into Al Qaeda, and has helped not just finding Osama Bin Laden, but has helped rescue American soldiers, diffused a nuclear bomb in New York. If you buy this, then you’ll see him in a fistfight underwater, and hand to hand fights all over the world, diffusing more bombs and rescuing the heroine. Alas, the pace is so slow, you may fall asleep…


Main Review:


Not too long ago we watched a 56 year old Tom Cruise outrun
everything, jump into a helicopter and climb cliffs in Mission
Impossible. So you don’t think how ancient Kamal Haasan looks
when he acts out his James Bond, rescuer of the world fantasy
as Wisam Kashmiri. Or how unfortunate it is when a seasoned
actor of his calibre has to include, ‘Perhaps I am a good actor’
as a dialog in the film.

And he was superb. Once upon a time. His ‘Thakita Thadhimi’,
the drunk dance on the well in Salangai Oli is matchless, so is
his monkey dance in Sadma. When you think of ‘sad lullabye’
you cannot but list ‘Surmai Ankhiyon Se’. A list of his fabulous
performances is endless. And even though part one of
Vishwaroop won awards, this part ends up looking like a
vanity project of an aged superstar.  


To be real, he has not aged well. And even though he is shown
kicking and fighting hand to hand and maiming dozens of baddies,
it is tiring to watch him. The close-ups and love-making scene
are a bit much to watch. And yes, the fantasy of an older man
who has two young women falling all over themselves over
him is unwatchable. You wish he had simply directed this film with
a younger man in his role. When an older person attempts to
look and act young, it’s a tad weird watch.


This film uses a whole lot of footage from the earlier film to make
us understand who Wisam Kashmiri is. And the pivot point
camera movement or the Bullet Time shot, which you first saw
in The Matrix, is helpful here. It freezes the frame and you see
the action from almost everyone’s point of view. This technique
is used again and again and again until you want to fast forward
the film and say ‘get on with it’!


The action continues from where part one left off and we are
reintroduced to Wisam and co flying to England where Al
Qaeda is about to blow up a shipwreck full of World War two
bombs (in neat stacks like you saw in Wonder Woman) with
a nuclear device (‘Eh, what?’ you say) so that London drowns
in a gigantic Tsunami. They don’t call the British Authorities
because one guy they call is stuck in traffic. Stupid? Ridiculous?
What? And of course one the two women Wisam is with is a
doctor of Nuclear Medicine! She must dive in the waters to
identify and diffuse the bomb. Of course the terrorists are so
dumb that they leave the ‘audio switch’ that will set off the bomb
right above the bomb on the jetty…


If you thought the insulting game with a political stooge played
by Anant Mahadevan was terrible, the underwater fight for the
‘audio switch’ for the bomb tops it by being ridiculous. Water
(and high tide is approaching fast) restricts movement and to
see this kind of fight without displacing any sand (there’s even
a starfish!) is silly to say the least.


The action shifts to India, thankfully (the audience is tired of
token ‘foreigners’ and a visually fake backdrop of the MI6 HQ
building in Anant Mahadevan’s office window). The story gets
predictable here, with the women in Wisam’s life getting
kidnapped by Al Qaeda guys in Delhi while Wisam is waiting
for some meetings in South Block. Don’t ask why, but watch
Jaideep Ahlawat play a scary sidekick torturing Wisam’s wife
and mother with jalebis. Thankfully the other woman in Wisam’s
life his partner Ashmita (played by Andrea Jeremiah) is dead,
and the mother (played by Waheeda Rehman) has Alzheimer’s.
The nuclear medicine doctor wife (Pooja Kumar) gets to be
plain awful when she mouths dialog like,’God will punish you!’


But you are yet to see Rahul Bose of the weird eye. He is Omar,
the terrorist who first befriended Wisam and took him to
Afghanistan. He’s now suffering from radiation poisoning, so he
eats but cannot keep his food down, his voice box is affected
and so is his skin. On top of it you see super hamming. The worst
part is that he just doesn’t seem to die. He doesn’t die when he
falls off a building, by American missiles, a nuclear device, and
lives even after being shot at by the hero  He does not even die
when he gets burnt. This new age Bhishma dies only after
seeing his family in the hospital and after hearing homilies
about how as a terrorist he would have killed his own children…


And even though this is an action film, it takes effort to stay awake
through totally implausible things happening on the screen. And for
a Kamal Haasan fan, a huge disappointment to acknowledge
that vanity overtook his talent.

(this review appears on www.nowrunning.com)


Review: VISHWAROOP 2

Written by  on August 10, 2018
VANITY PROJECT #Fail


1.5 stars


Mini Review:


Wisam Ahmad Kashmiri is an Indian spy who has infiltrated deep into Al Qaeda, and has helped not just finding Osama Bin Laden, but has helped rescue American soldiers, diffused a nuclear bomb in New York. If you buy this, then you’ll see him in a fistfight underwater, and hand to hand fights all over the world, diffusing more bombs and rescuing the heroine. Alas, the pace is so slow, you may fall asleep…


Main Review:


Not too long ago we watched a 56 year old Tom Cruise outrun
everything, jump into a helicopter and climb cliffs in Mission
Impossible. So you don’t think how ancient Kamal Haasan looks
when he acts out his James Bond, rescuer of the world fantasy
as Wisam Kashmiri. Or how unfortunate it is when a seasoned
actor of his calibre has to include, ‘Perhaps I am a good actor’
as a dialog in the film.

And he was superb. Once upon a time. His ‘Thakita Thadhimi’,
the drunk dance on the well in Salangai Oli is matchless, so is
his monkey dance in Sadma. When you think of ‘sad lullabye’
you cannot but list ‘Surmai Ankhiyon Se’. A list of his fabulous
performances is endless. And even though part one of
Vishwaroop won awards, this part ends up looking like a
vanity project of an aged superstar.  


To be real, he has not aged well. And even though he is shown
kicking and fighting hand to hand and maiming dozens of baddies,
it is tiring to watch him. The close-ups and love-making scene
are a bit much to watch. And yes, the fantasy of an older man
who has two young women falling all over themselves over
him is unwatchable. You wish he had simply directed this film with
a younger man in his role. When an older person attempts to
look and act young, it’s a tad weird watch.


This film uses a whole lot of footage from the earlier film to make
us understand who Wisam Kashmiri is. And the pivot point
camera movement or the Bullet Time shot, which you first saw
in The Matrix, is helpful here. It freezes the frame and you see
the action from almost everyone’s point of view. This technique
is used again and again and again until you want to fast forward
the film and say ‘get on with it’!


The action continues from where part one left off and we are
reintroduced to Wisam and co flying to England where Al
Qaeda is about to blow up a shipwreck full of World War two
bombs (in neat stacks like you saw in Wonder Woman) with
a nuclear device (‘Eh, what?’ you say) so that London drowns
in a gigantic Tsunami. They don’t call the British Authorities
because one guy they call is stuck in traffic. Stupid? Ridiculous?
What? And of course one the two women Wisam is with is a
doctor of Nuclear Medicine! She must dive in the waters to
identify and diffuse the bomb. Of course the terrorists are so
dumb that they leave the ‘audio switch’ that will set off the bomb
right above the bomb on the jetty…


If you thought the insulting game with a political stooge played
by Anant Mahadevan was terrible, the underwater fight for the
‘audio switch’ for the bomb tops it by being ridiculous. Water
(and high tide is approaching fast) restricts movement and to
see this kind of fight without displacing any sand (there’s even
a starfish!) is silly to say the least.


The action shifts to India, thankfully (the audience is tired of
token ‘foreigners’ and a visually fake backdrop of the MI6 HQ
building in Anant Mahadevan’s office window). The story gets
predictable here, with the women in Wisam’s life getting
kidnapped by Al Qaeda guys in Delhi while Wisam is waiting
for some meetings in South Block. Don’t ask why, but watch
Jaideep Ahlawat play a scary sidekick torturing Wisam’s wife
and mother with jalebis. Thankfully the other woman in Wisam’s
life his partner Ashmita (played by Andrea Jeremiah) is dead,
and the mother (played by Waheeda Rehman) has Alzheimer’s.
The nuclear medicine doctor wife (Pooja Kumar) gets to be
plain awful when she mouths dialog like,’God will punish you!’


But you are yet to see Rahul Bose of the weird eye. He is Omar,
the terrorist who first befriended Wisam and took him to
Afghanistan. He’s now suffering from radiation poisoning, so he
eats but cannot keep his food down, his voice box is affected
and so is his skin. On top of it you see super hamming. The worst
part is that he just doesn’t seem to die. He doesn’t die when he
falls off a building, by American missiles, a nuclear device, and
lives even after being shot at by the hero  He does not even die
when he gets burnt. This new age Bhishma dies only after
seeing his family in the hospital and after hearing homilies
about how as a terrorist he would have killed his own children…


And even though this is an action film, it takes effort to stay awake
through totally implausible things happening on the screen. And for
a Kamal Haasan fan, a huge disappointment to acknowledge
that vanity overtook his talent.

(this review appears on www.nowrunning.com)


Review: FANNEY KHAN

Written by  on August 3, 2018

Fanney Good Baaki Sab Unfanney

2 stars

Mini Review:

A father loves his daughter so much, is so in love with the idea of making her the next Indian Singing Star that he kidnaps the current superstar in order to get her a place in the contest. The film is based on a story from a Dutch film ‘Everybody is Famous’, but for a music based story the music isn’t up to par. What shines are performances for Anil Kapoor and Rajkummar Rao. Everyone else, especially his daughter deserve a good hiding.

Review:

The film starts with Anil Kapoor singing in a neighborhood for an orchestra at night. He’s simply sensational as he sings and dances to cheering crowd. During the day he operates a crane for a factory. He loves music so much, he names his baby ‘Lata’ after Lata Mangeshkar. He’s called ‘Fanney’ by his friends and his wife, because he is a ‘fankaar’  a man who has the ‘fan’ (pronounced ‘fun’) or the talent. Now the word also means someone who schemes and plots in order to get ahead in life, but Prashant Sharma aka Fanney Khan (played by Anil Kapoor) is a good guy, who lives for his music and his family. He wears his funky shirts with as much confidence as he wears the lungi at home and his taxi driver’s khaki shirt. His wife is played by Divya Dutta, and the filmmakers keep her like a cardboard cutout simply to ‘tsk, tsk’ her husband and pacify her daughter. We understand that a singer who is very talented wants his talented daughter to do well and dreams of a hit album for her.

It’s the kind of father every child should want to have. Someone who lives so that their child can make their dream come true. But this child, this daughter, is so ungrateful and so rude you either want to slap her really hard, or hope that she fails. The worst part of the casting is that they have picked a large sized actor to play the part (Pihu Sand). So one has to tread rather carefully because criticizing the character will be deemed as body shaming (which is done by people who laugh at her in local contests where even judges are cruel to her about her size and choice of songs). Keeping love for your child aside, why does no one from the family or friends tell the daughter Lata, that if you need a different kind of attitude and song choice (remember Rebel Wilson plays ‘Fat Amy’ in Pitch Perfect movies?). You just don’t buy the logic that the parents as well as Lata’s best friend cannot see why people are laughing at Lata.

And Lata is rude and obnoxious and demanding. For a child of poor parents, she comes across as rather entitled. That doesn’t endear her to the audience at all.

Then there’s Rajkummar Rao who plays Adhir, Fanney’s friend, who is also a nice guy with a girlfriend who borrows money from him all the time and looks like she is cheating on him from a mile away. Again, a cardboard cutout. But Rajkummar Rao is so good he does not see her rather obvious duplicity.

The friendship between Fanney and Adhir is shown really well. When the factory shuts down, they have to find other jobs. And you suddenly hear Anil Kapoor begin to talk in a Hyderabadi lingo. Before you can ask why, he has kidnapped Baby Singh the singing superstar (Aishwarya Rai who perhaps has not really acted after Iruvar, Kandukondain Kandukondain and Guru). Adhir who is at first appalled by the act, becomes a partner in crime. The interaction between the fresh at crime kidnappers and the spoilt singing star is funny at first, but gets annoying after a while. How simple are simpletons meant to be?

The second half of the film and especially the singing contest/reality show melodrama goes on and on and you begin to throw popcorn at the screen. More when the cardboard cutout villain played to the gills by Girish Kulkarni who is helped by his weird costumes of an evil manager of a singing star in weird colored lenses and a permanent leer. Since the producer and the manager have spoken of how wardrobe malfunctions increase TRPs of the show, you will watch in trepidation, not wanting to see that ‘accident’ happen to large Lata. Thankfully you are treated to a scene where Anil Kapoor is overwhelmed at seeing his daughter on stage on TV. The end is daft, but you come away relieved that the movie is over, and you come home with a great cinematic character of a great dad (with all his flaws) played brilliantly by Anil Kapoor.  


(this review appears on www.nowrunning.com )

Review: FANNEY KHAN

Written by  on August 3, 2018

Fanney Good Baaki Sab Unfanney

2 stars

Mini Review:

A father loves his daughter so much, is so in love with the idea of making her the next Indian Singing Star that he kidnaps the current superstar in order to get her a place in the contest. The film is based on a story from a Dutch film ‘Everybody is Famous’, but for a music based story the music isn’t up to par. What shines are performances for Anil Kapoor and Rajkummar Rao. Everyone else, especially his daughter deserve a good hiding.

Review:

The film starts with Anil Kapoor singing in a neighborhood for an orchestra at night. He’s simply sensational as he sings and dances to cheering crowd. During the day he operates a crane for a factory. He loves music so much, he names his baby ‘Lata’ after Lata Mangeshkar. He’s called ‘Fanney’ by his friends and his wife, because he is a ‘fankaar’  a man who has the ‘fan’ (pronounced ‘fun’) or the talent. Now the word also means someone who schemes and plots in order to get ahead in life, but Prashant Sharma aka Fanney Khan (played by Anil Kapoor) is a good guy, who lives for his music and his family. He wears his funky shirts with as much confidence as he wears the lungi at home and his taxi driver’s khaki shirt. His wife is played by Divya Dutta, and the filmmakers keep her like a cardboard cutout simply to ‘tsk, tsk’ her husband and pacify her daughter. We understand that a singer who is very talented wants his talented daughter to do well and dreams of a hit album for her.

It’s the kind of father every child should want to have. Someone who lives so that their child can make their dream come true. But this child, this daughter, is so ungrateful and so rude you either want to slap her really hard, or hope that she fails. The worst part of the casting is that they have picked a large sized actor to play the part (Pihu Sand). So one has to tread rather carefully because criticizing the character will be deemed as body shaming (which is done by people who laugh at her in local contests where even judges are cruel to her about her size and choice of songs). Keeping love for your child aside, why does no one from the family or friends tell the daughter Lata, that if you need a different kind of attitude and song choice (remember Rebel Wilson plays ‘Fat Amy’ in Pitch Perfect movies?). You just don’t buy the logic that the parents as well as Lata’s best friend cannot see why people are laughing at Lata.

And Lata is rude and obnoxious and demanding. For a child of poor parents, she comes across as rather entitled. That doesn’t endear her to the audience at all.

Then there’s Rajkummar Rao who plays Adhir, Fanney’s friend, who is also a nice guy with a girlfriend who borrows money from him all the time and looks like she is cheating on him from a mile away. Again, a cardboard cutout. But Rajkummar Rao is so good he does not see her rather obvious duplicity.

The friendship between Fanney and Adhir is shown really well. When the factory shuts down, they have to find other jobs. And you suddenly hear Anil Kapoor begin to talk in a Hyderabadi lingo. Before you can ask why, he has kidnapped Baby Singh the singing superstar (Aishwarya Rai who perhaps has not really acted after Iruvar, Kandukondain Kandukondain and Guru). Adhir who is at first appalled by the act, becomes a partner in crime. The interaction between the fresh at crime kidnappers and the spoilt singing star is funny at first, but gets annoying after a while. How simple are simpletons meant to be?

The second half of the film and especially the singing contest/reality show melodrama goes on and on and you begin to throw popcorn at the screen. More when the cardboard cutout villain played to the gills by Girish Kulkarni who is helped by his weird costumes of an evil manager of a singing star in weird colored lenses and a permanent leer. Since the producer and the manager have spoken of how wardrobe malfunctions increase TRPs of the show, you will watch in trepidation, not wanting to see that ‘accident’ happen to large Lata. Thankfully you are treated to a scene where Anil Kapoor is overwhelmed at seeing his daughter on stage on TV. The end is daft, but you come away relieved that the movie is over, and you come home with a great cinematic character of a great dad (with all his flaws) played brilliantly by Anil Kapoor.  


(this review appears on www.nowrunning.com )

Review: KARWAAN

Written by  on August 3, 2018

This Caravan Tried Too Hard To Be A Trip

2 stars

Mini Review:

A young man estranged from his father works at a dead end
job at a software firm. He receives news that his father is
dead in an accident. He borrows his friend Shaukat’s van to
bring back the body. But the body has been exchanged with
another. In his bid to return the body and get his father’s
remains he goes on a road trip and learns a lot about himself.
The film is enjoyable if you can ignore logic but funny
homilies do not a film make.


Main Review:

A decent debut for South star Dulquer Salmaan who plays Avinash, a bespectacled geek who works at a dead end job at a software company. He wanted to be photographer, but his father Akash Khurana refuses to pay for a photography course and scolds him and berates him… With smartphones taking better and better pictures, this backstory sounds rather lame in 2018. And there are photography courses online and in the evenings and over weekends. Instead of playing solitaire at work and falling asleep, he should have simply lived for his passion. But he’s cute, so we laugh at his caricature of a boss who yells and yells at everyone (and at him)…

Avinash receives a phone call (funny!) where a call-center type voice casually informs him that his father is dead in a bus accident and that the body needs to be collected from the cargo company. He realises that the disconnect from his dad is so great that he calmly makes arrangements for the funeral and requests his friend Shaukat (played with much lightheartedness by Irrfan Khan) to lend him his van. The two land at the airport where the cargo company guy is another caricature (lazy, on the phone, yells at underlings who are lazing too). Avinash finally gets the coffin (a long tin trunk) and it is loaded in the van. But we have to suffer Shaukat flirting and threatening two white tourists who have lost their way. Oh come on! This is 2018 and we are still talking rudely to tourists who are ‘dressed poorly’, ‘who stink’ and ‘probably only in India for the ganja’. Why was that even necessary?

It’s only at the crematorium that Shaukat discovers that the body in the coffin is that of a woman. And of course Avinash receives a call saying that someone else has his father’s body. Instead of booking the body by cargo Avi and Shaukat decide to drive the dead body to Kozhikode and exchange the dead. Google says that the journey is 8 hours by road, but the woman who has Avi’s father’s body, requests him to pick up her daughter from Coimbatore. Woah! Who asks a complete stranger to pick up their grown up daughter from their residential college simply because he sounds like a decent man on the phone?

The daughter played by Mithila Parker is the weakest link in the caravan. She is made to behave like she is like a troubled early teen, and you are expected to find her ridiculous behaviour ‘cool’. We are expected to believe that she was so drunk, she forgot that her beloved grandmother died. Cute? Who knows. Of course they find a box of remains of another dead person from that bus accident in the coffin and decide to travel to the address and hand over the box to them. Of course there’s good natured grumbling and homilies from Irrfan Khan and you smile at the smart lines, but is no one other than you worried about the decomposing body at the back of the van.

To make the journey funnier, Shaukat is being followed by a bunch of thugs who steal the van and they have to get the coffin back, and they have to stay at a hotel. You groan when the girl has to tell Avi about how good photography apps are on the phone… Avi also meets the girl from college which is a welcome relief from Mithila Parker’s dumb, rebel act. And the almost romance between Irrfan Khan and the woman in burqa at the hospital (No! You don’t want to know how they got there!) makes you smile too…

Yes there is a stop where they buy dry ice for the dead body but it seems like an afterthought. It’s important for us to learn that Avi acts like his dead father around the rebellious girl. Thankfully they reach Kozhikode and there is a prayer meeting for the dead at the hotel which is run by the girl’s mother. And soon after the two bodies are cremated, they have a party where cake is being made and a feast is cooked and they play cricket and the audience wonders if grief is so easy to overcome.

The locations are beautiful and the idea of finding oneself after a parent dies is good too. But the stink from the dead body permeated the film. You will enjoy it should you leave your brains (and your olfactory senses) behind!

(this review appears on www.nowrunning.com )

Review: MULK

Written by  on August 3, 2018

How Patriotic Is Your Beard?


2.5 stars


Mini Review:


How do you prove that you are patriotic? A Muslim patriarch
in Benaras battles to answer this question when his nephew
has been shot dead as a terrorist and his brother has died
following the legal and social troubles the family faces as a
result. Will his Hindu daughter in law help him get justice?
Or does religious fanaticism sweeping the nation currently
win? A delicate subject rather well tackled despite several
rather convenient events in the film.


Main Review:


The Rishi Kapoor that you remember as a singing, dancing hero
in Hum Kisi Se Kam Nahin is now a fabulous character actor. And
despite the typical Muslim beard (sans moustache) occupying his
face, he manages to emote brilliantly. He is Murad Ali Mohammed,
the head of a wonderful family – a wife (Neena Gupta as Badi
Tabassum), an NRI son, a Hindu daughter in law (Tapsee Pannu
as Arati Mohammed), a brother (Manoj Pahwa as Bilaal), brother’s
wife (Prachi Shah as Choti Tabassum), a niece (Ayaat), a nephew
(Prateik Babbar as Shahid) – and they are celebrating Murad’s
65th birthday. We have seen Murad living happily with his Hindu
neighbors. Everything seems happy until his nephew Shahid
blows up a bus after having been radicalised.


This is where we come across Danish Javed (Rajat Kapoor in a
wonderful, believable anti-terrorist cop role), who believes in
making a spectacle of Shahid’s capture so that other radicalised
young men will know that the police mean business. The police
investigation results in upsetting the delicate social balance in
the neighborhood. Suddenly, it is ‘all Muslims are terrorists’,
‘Murad and his family should go to Pakistan’. Stones are thrown
at their home, and his friends shun him. His brother is dragged
away and questioned and accused of aiding and abetting
terrorism by the prosecutor (Ashutosh Rana as Santosh Anand).


Since Murad is a lawyer, he promises his brother that his name
will be cleared. But the attacks from the prosecutor and the
comments from the judge (the inimitable Kumud Mishra) seem to
push Murad to breaking point. The trial is well written and very
engaging. There is a character who handles social media for the
prosecutor introduced but apart from a stray dialog about, ‘Do you
know what is happening on social media?’ nothing is really done.
The two Tabassums in the house have not much to do but to look
tragic. The daughter in law Tapsee Pannu looks too weepy in court,
which undermines the the legal argument she makes.


The religion, justice, civil rights arguments are decent and topical.
This is where Rishi Kapoor makes a fabulous case. But it is
Kumud Mishra who is the judge who makes a convincing decision
for the audience.


The film has been shot brilliantly by Ewan Mulligan (the long
continuous shot at the beginning will surprise you rather wonderfully).
The only thing that makes this film a tad weak is the overdoing of
facial expressions by Ashutosh Rana. His grimaces and his
meanness seem needless. His grin is meant to be evil, but had he
been reined in, the film would have been better. Danish Javed’s
prejudices are very well brought out. The subject of Hindu-Muslim
social relationships is volatile even after over seventy years of
independence, and this film strikes a balance, the judge’s words
making it plain. The trial seems to go on and on, and perhaps
they could have avoided repetitions and edited them. But the film
might appeal to ‘believers’ of both religions.


(this review appears on www.nowrunning.com )

Review: MULK

Written by  on August 3, 2018

How Patriotic Is Your Beard?


2.5 stars


Mini Review:


How do you prove that you are patriotic? A Muslim patriarch
in Benaras battles to answer this question when his nephew
has been shot dead as a terrorist and his brother has died
following the legal and social troubles the family faces as a
result. Will his Hindu daughter in law help him get justice?
Or does religious fanaticism sweeping the nation currently
win? A delicate subject rather well tackled despite several
rather convenient events in the film.


Main Review:


The Rishi Kapoor that you remember as a singing, dancing hero
in Hum Kisi Se Kam Nahin is now a fabulous character actor. And
despite the typical Muslim beard (sans moustache) occupying his
face, he manages to emote brilliantly. He is Murad Ali Mohammed,
the head of a wonderful family – a wife (Neena Gupta as Badi
Tabassum), an NRI son, a Hindu daughter in law (Tapsee Pannu
as Arati Mohammed), a brother (Manoj Pahwa as Bilaal), brother’s
wife (Prachi Shah as Choti Tabassum), a niece (Ayaat), a nephew
(Prateik Babbar as Shahid) – and they are celebrating Murad’s
65th birthday. We have seen Murad living happily with his Hindu
neighbors. Everything seems happy until his nephew Shahid
blows up a bus after having been radicalised.


This is where we come across Danish Javed (Rajat Kapoor in a
wonderful, believable anti-terrorist cop role), who believes in
making a spectacle of Shahid’s capture so that other radicalised
young men will know that the police mean business. The police
investigation results in upsetting the delicate social balance in
the neighborhood. Suddenly, it is ‘all Muslims are terrorists’,
‘Murad and his family should go to Pakistan’. Stones are thrown
at their home, and his friends shun him. His brother is dragged
away and questioned and accused of aiding and abetting
terrorism by the prosecutor (Ashutosh Rana as Santosh Anand).


Since Murad is a lawyer, he promises his brother that his name
will be cleared. But the attacks from the prosecutor and the
comments from the judge (the inimitable Kumud Mishra) seem to
push Murad to breaking point. The trial is well written and very
engaging. There is a character who handles social media for the
prosecutor introduced but apart from a stray dialog about, ‘Do you
know what is happening on social media?’ nothing is really done.
The two Tabassums in the house have not much to do but to look
tragic. The daughter in law Tapsee Pannu looks too weepy in court,
which undermines the the legal argument she makes.


The religion, justice, civil rights arguments are decent and topical.
This is where Rishi Kapoor makes a fabulous case. But it is
Kumud Mishra who is the judge who makes a convincing decision
for the audience.


The film has been shot brilliantly by Ewan Mulligan (the long
continuous shot at the beginning will surprise you rather wonderfully).
The only thing that makes this film a tad weak is the overdoing of
facial expressions by Ashutosh Rana. His grimaces and his
meanness seem needless. His grin is meant to be evil, but had he
been reined in, the film would have been better. Danish Javed’s
prejudices are very well brought out. The subject of Hindu-Muslim
social relationships is volatile even after over seventy years of
independence, and this film strikes a balance, the judge’s words
making it plain. The trial seems to go on and on, and perhaps
they could have avoided repetitions and edited them. But the film
might appeal to ‘believers’ of both religions.


(this review appears on www.nowrunning.com )

Review: SAHEB, BIWI AUR GANGSTER 3

Written by  on July 27, 2018

Let’s Use Sanju Baba 
Baki Sab Chal Jaayega… 

one star

Mini Review:

Third of the Saheb Biwi Gangster films, the fine conspiracy that made the first film such a good watch has descended into the gutter. At first you are shocked. Is Sanjay Dutt so gullible that he doesn’t understand that his role in this film ruins his carefully whitewashed image in Sanju? After 20 minutes, you don’t care. 

Main Review:

Except for Jimmy Shergill, the cast of the film – Kabir ‘Sandokan’ Bedi, Deepak Tijori, Sanjay Dutt, Zakir Hussain – look like they’ve bloated beyond recognition. Did they drown in alcohol between shots? In fact the music of Purana Mandir ‘the Saamri track’ should play in your head (as it did in mine) each time there were close ups of Kabir Bedi and Sanjay Dutt.

Sanjay Dutt is a disgraced Rajasthani prince who runs a nightclub called House Of Lords in London. He was asked to leave home because he was in love with a nautch girl (why did he leave her behind?). He makes money on the side by playing Russian roulette again and again. He’s an expert. And you don’t have to be a film expert to figure out that Biwi will seduce Sanju to get his help and kill Saheb. Sigh. 

Sanju is shown to be violent and unpredictable and still in love with the nautch girl (played by Chitrangada Singh) who skypes love songs to Baba. Oh yes, Baba has his own track that probably was sold to him during narration…   

When Will You Kill Saheb?

That Mahie Gill will drop her pallu is a given. But she was believable when her loneliness led her to having an affair with Randeep Hooda. Here, she is as seductive as a used tissue. 

So when she and Zakir Hussain (plays father to Saheb’s second wife whos is comatose) ask Sanjay Dutt, ‘Purana Kila tumhare naam kar rahe hain, saheb ko kab maroge?’ you know subtlety is dead. 

Sanjay Dutt does not have to say, ‘Russian roulette ka game khel ke…’

All is not this bad though. If you get through really trite dialog about ‘rajwade’, ‘hamari ijjat’, ‘parampara’, ‘privy purses’ you will discover that there was a great possibility of toppling the wife’s need to kill her husband: the possibility of friendship between two characters hated by their respective families: Sanjay Dutt and Jimmy Shergill. 

Of course that would be another film. 

Here, the ‘game’ is played at the party in front of everyone else, and of course in the middle of ‘let’s switch guns’ double cross game, where everyone is wincing each time the trigger is clicked, we see Deepak Tijori dressed up in a plastic apron a la Dexter walking purposefully to kill Chitrangada Singh. You just laugh. 

The followng bloodshed should have finished the movie, but there’s more to come the filmmakers say. I just hope the box office bomb will deter them from making any more Mahie Gill pallu drop movies. 



(I’ve tried to write this review all day, but had to step away from the computer to upchuck)








Review: DHADAK

Written by  on July 20, 2018
Dhadak Has No Pulse!
2 stars


Mini Review:


A vanilla remake of the hard-hitting Marathi film Sairat,
Dhadak is just an overly long story about a runaway couple.
While Sairat was raw and gritty, the caste divide between
the lovers very obvious and cruel, here it gets a makeover.
The first half has a romance made tolerable because of the
lad Ishaan Khattar, but the second half is like the girl (Janhvi
Kapoor) annoying and unable to get out of a scene intact.


Main Review:


How delightful is the boy Ishaan Khattar! You saw him shine in
Majid Majidi’s disastrous Bombay story, Beyond The Clouds, and
now here. He is Madhukar here, and we are told by his dad, ‘Stay
away from the girl… They are of different caste… You will be in
trouble…’


The girl is Parthavi, the local politician’s daughter sassy and pretty.
She knows the lad has been following her around, and just like
Sairat (set in a small town in Maharashtra), this film too makes the
same mistake. Udaipur is a small town – usually hotbeds of gossip
and telltale folk – and yet no one reports the romance to the rich
dad, not even to curry favor.


Well, the songs by Ajay Atul are sweet but Rajasthani they are not.
The kids are caught kissing and are separated and beaten up and
the girl comes to the police station and at gunpoint drags the lad
away to freedom. Of course they have not thought about the
consequences.


Sairat really got gritty here, and took their penniless state to really
cringe-inducing levels where you could not pop a kernel of the
multiplex popcorn without feeling guilty. But these two runaways
find shelter immediately and then a way out. And yes, the awful
pointless reference to writer director Sachin Bhowmick is
unmissable. Did they not find a different Bengali name? Sachin
Bhowmick wrote way better characters than this film can count.
They needed a vertically challenged Shridhar Watsar who plays the
comic relief Purushottam to ham it out in every scene. Even
Parthavi’s brother (in Sairat, he’s called Prince, even though his
actions are anything but) is a cardboard bad guy. Ashutosh Rana
gets to glare at the camera and his ‘badness’ is unmissable. I wish
they had thought the story through to really adapt to the setting
in Rajasthan.


The end is too long coming. And the iconic slapping scene in
Sairat shows us how poverty and helplessness can dehumanise
anyone and kill the storybook idea of romance, does not shock you
here at all. Anyone else in the lad’s place would have slapped the
boring heroine much earlier. You are relieved to leave the theatre,
hoping the young actress will sign up for acting lessons if she wants
to step into her mother’s shoes (she’s late Sridevi’s daughter). But
Ishaan shines, and you hope he gets better scripts than Dhadak.
There’s no heartbeat here, no pulse. Dhadak just flatlines.  



(This review appears on www.nowrunning.com )