Saturday, 28 January 2017

Kaabil :: Movie Review

                                         Image result for 31/2 stars out of five     

Kaabil helmed by Sanjay Gupta can be touted as one of his better works as it brilliantly amalgamates sweet innocent romance with riveting revenge drama taken several notches higher by the bravura performance of Hrithik Roshan making the movie worth your money spent on the ticket. Sanjay Gupta is known for making movies that are stylish, sleek and he has a penchant for technical finesse but his movies have been low on emotional quotient. This time he has collaborated with Filmkraft Productions ( Rakesh Roshan as producer) who has a flair for making masala potboilers laden with emotional content. And, the result is Kaabil, a motion picture which is a perfect blend of both immaculate style and heart warming emotions. Not to forget, Hrithik Roshan who has taken the character of a blind man as fish takes to marine life. Right from the first scene where he is making breakfast to the last scene where he converses with the cop to fetch evidence against him, Hrithik is flawless. Hrithik has imbibed and portrayed the finer intricacies of a visually impaired person in the pitch perfect manner. Pertinent to say, Hrithik is the soul of Kaabil and it is he who takes the movie to soaring heights with his convincing performance of a revenge seeking blind man.  Though, the story of a blind couple falling in love, their world turning topsy turvy with the entry of antagonists and then, the protagonist out to to seek revenge was quite clear from the promos. But, Kudos to Sanjay Gupta and his team, they have stitched the movie in such a manner that you remain glued to your seats till the very end in anticipation of what is going to happen next. After all, it is rare that you have seen an intelligent blind man taking on the mighty and corrupt and seeking revenge from them by playing mind games. We have seen umpteen revenge vendettas but what makes Kaabil riveting is its premise of a blind man seeking eye for an eye.  

                                                                               The story as well as screenplay of the movie has been penned down by Vijay Kumar Mishra. Though, the story has nothing new to offer but it is the fast paced screenplay that keeps you invested in the film. While the first half offers a breezy, cute love story blossoming between a self reliant blind couple until the baddies enter their life and play havoc. The scene before interval where Hrithik openly reveals about his revenge intentions and challenges the cops to catch him if they can is bound to attract whistles. Second half is dominated more by action and mind games played by the protagonist. The writer cleverly makes us acquainted with the protagonist's heightened sense of sound, smell, geography and voiceover skills in the first half so that we don't start using our logical skills when he puts them to use in second half. The movie begins with Rohan (Hrithik Roshan) going for a arranged coffee date with Supriya (Yami Gautam). Both of them are blind but self reliant. While Rohan is expert at modulating voice and works as a dubbing artiste, Supriya is a pianist working with a N.G.O.  Soon, they fall in love and get married. They are planning to move into their new house and lead a blissful marital life unaware of the dangers lurking in the corner. Amit (Rohit Roy) who is younger brother of a local politician Madhav Shelar (Ronit Roy) teases Supriya and a riff ensues between him and Rohan. Next day, Amit along with his friend rapes Supriya. Rohan files a report with the cops and the investigating officer (Narendra Jha) sends Supriya for a medical examination but they are kidnapped from the way as cops are hand in glove with the local politician. To make things worse, Supriya is raped again which forces her to commit suicide. A broken Rohan understands that law is not going to help him, so he decides to take things in his own hands by seeking revenge. How Rohan seeks revenge despite of being visually impaired forms the rest of the story. 

Hrithik Roshan is an actor par excellence and he has once again proved it with his efficacious act of a blind man in Kaabil. It won't be wrong to say that this is his one of his finest performances till date. He is so persuasive as Rohan in the film that you never doubt for a moment what he is doing on-screen. From the charming young man who dances with her beloved on floor to the revenge seeker who is not able to forgive himself for being not able to protect his wife, Hrithik has hit all the right notes. Truly, an award winning performance by Hrithik. 

Yami Gautam  pulls off her act as Supriya in the movie with the right amount of innocence, earnestness, simplicity and charm. It was not easy to portray a blind girl's character but to her credit, Yami has portrayed it with full conviction. 

Ronit Roy looks mean and menacing as the conniving politician. Rohit Roy makes his presence felt as Amit in the movie. Narendra Jha is apt as the investigating officer and so is Girish Kulkarni who plays the part of his deputy in the film.

The musical soundtrack of the film that has been composed by Rajesh Roshan can be rated as average as the songs seem good while they are playing on-screen but none of them manages to stay with you for a longer time after you exit the theater. But, the background score composed by Salim-Sulaiman is top notch as it ably provides a momentum and builds up a excitement. The cinematographers of the movie are Sudeep Chatterjee & Ayananka Bose who have done a swell job at capturing visuals. The editor of the movie is Akiv Ali who has kept the narrative crisp and taut. As a director, Sanjay Gupta has done a commendable job in Kaabil as he has altered his style of film-making with this movie. Almost, all of Sanjay's earlier works were more focused on singular color palettes and sleek camera angles with lots of slow mo effects but lacked that emotional connect with the audience. With Kaabil, Sanjay has hit all the right notes and delivered a film which is both emotional and stylish. With his able direction, Sanjay has turned a conventional story into an engaging fast paced dramatic film.

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Sunday, 19 June 2016

Udta Punjab :: Movie Review

                                   Image result for 4 stars out of 5
Udta Punjab helmed by Abhishek Chaubey is a realistic take on prevalent drug menace in Punjab with well etched out characters that are propelled further by bravura performances and eloquent vision making it a must watch. First things first, Indian cinema has always showcased Punjab with lush green mustard fields, large hearted Punjabis and Bhangra. No mainstream filmmaker has shown that the state which was usually high on love, affection has become high on substance abuse. And, this is the most important aspect. Until and unless, you identify and accept the problem, it will be difficult for you to cure it. Several of Punjabi Gabhru (Macho) who were known for their hardworking, jovial nature have reduced down to a pauper because of addiction to drugs. Abhishek and his team have done a thorough research on the subject and have simply nailed it down with Udta Punjab. The film is so hard hitting with so many standout scenes that they leave a lasting impact on you  This is perhaps Abhishek's most meaningful film till date. Everyone has been talking about drug issue in Punjab but nobody is aware about the extent or size of it. This film has brought the issue to the forefront. Full marks to Abhishek Chaubey for making this film in such an intelligent manner that it entertains you as well as highlights the issue of drug problem.  It's been seldom that Indian filmmakers have been able to capture the authentic milieu of the region including the local lingo where the movie is based and it is this aspect where Udta Punjab scores brownie points. Everything, right from characters to settings to milieu to lingo comes across as so authentic that you forget that you are watching a film and get invested in the proceedings. Right from the first scene where a Pakistani discus player throws across a drug packet across the border to India to the last scene where a numb drug addict Balli with remorse in his eyes is standing, has been masterfully conceived and projected. In fact, the scene where a numb Balli is standing is the perfect ending for this message induced purposeful film but to give audience a breather, Chaubey shows a sort of happy ending with Alia Bhatt on beach of Goa talking to Shahid Kapoor on phone. I belong to Punjab and have seen how the youth have succumbed to drugs in the last two decades with  prescription drugs being sold over the counter in chemist shops in black. I could identify and relate with the issues that the movie raises and will whole heartedly recommend others to go and watch out this movie as its a honest attempt to depict the sad state of drug menace in Punjab  which has catapulted into a major issue. 

The screenplay of the movie has been jointly penned down by Sudip Sharma and Abhishek Chaubey where as the dialogues have been penned down by Sudip Sharma. The writers have ably done a proper intellectual recce and through research of the prevalent situation in Punjab before penning down this script which is evident during on-screen proceedings. Though, its an commercial production with good music, humor, romance being an integral part of it but the screenplay covers the entire spectrum of the drug problem in Punjab- druglords, suffering youngsters and their families, corrupt cops who are in connivance with politicians and above all the pharmaceutical companies in the neighboring state of Himachal Pradesh which supply prescription drugs to Punjab. I doff my hat to the writers for penning down such a detailed and meticulous screenplay that covers all the aspects of drug problem. Each and every character irrespective of its screentime has been properly etched out and serves a purpose in the movie. The screenplay of the movie revolves around four basic characters  i.e. a Pop Star Tommy Singh (Shahid Kapoor), a Bihari migrant girl (Alia Bhatt), a Doctor and social activist (Kareena Kapoor), a cynical Cop Sartaj Singh (Diljit Dosanjh).  I will not like to reveal the storyline of the movie as i want you to go and watch the movie at a theater near you. Instead of storyline, I would like to highlight some of the brilliant standout scenes in the movie. Alia Bhatt incidentally discovers a packet of drugs and tries to sell it in lure of money. But, when her life gets threatened in the process, she realizes the grave mistake she was about to commit by becoming a medium of  drug trafficking, she takes instant decision to destroy the drugs instead of hiding it. It shows that there are two types of demons associated with drugs. Ones who consume it and others who sell for the sake of quick money. There's another scene where the Pop Star Tommy Singh (Shahid Kapoor) who sings rap songs promoting drugs  is put behind bars as he himself is a substance addict. While in the lock-up , he meets couple of youngsters who are his die-hard fans and took to drugs after listening to his songs. The biggest irony is that those youngsters have been arrested because they killed their own mother when she refused to give them money for drugs. This scene depicts the vulnerability of young minds who get carried away by actions of their idols. 

Shahid Kapoor has once again come up with a brilliant performance as Tommy Singh. It is definitely one of the craziest characters that he has portrayed till date. As a drug user and Popstar, he fights his own demons  with aplomb in the movie. He has perfectly depicted the madness propelled by substance abuse especially in the scene where he opens fire at his manager. He is par excellence in the scene where he narrates the story of his life to live audience during a concert referring to himself and others following him as Fuddu. This scene depicts that today's young generation end up celebrating or glamorizing fools just for the sake of being cool without understanding the essence.

Diljit Dosanjh could not have asked for a better launch pad in Bollywood other than Udta Punjab. Diljit is quite endearing as well as earnest as the reformed cop in the movie. He literally puts life into the character of Sartaj Singh, the cop who wants to  wage a war against drug traffickers with his acting prowess. Diljit's character gave him a opportunity to display gamut of emotions in the movie which he has done to pitch perfection. A cop who is addicted to easy money gets shock of his life when he finds his younger brother hooked on to drugs. His romantic interludes with Kareena Kapoor especially asking for a coffee date lend some lighter moments to the movie.

Alia Bhatt might have been trolled on social media but her choice of roles are proving that she is one of the smartest, fastest learning and intelligent actress among today's generation. It's no mean task to portray a deglamorised character of a Bihari migrant girl who is forced into the world of drugs but to her credit, Alia Bhatt has portrayed the character seamlessly. She has portrayed the infections of  now-victim, now-fighter complexity with such deftness that you can't help praising her. Above all, Alia is masterly in the scene where she narrates story of her life and agonies to Shahid.   

Kareena Kapoor Khan plays the role of a doctor who also runs a rehabilitation center with effortless ease. Her character in the movie is on a mission to save the young youth of Punjab from the drug menace and she literally walks the talk in the movie, with her performance. 

Manav Vij delivers an outstanding act as Jujhar Singh. Manav's act as the corrupt cop especially his body language and dialect is so convincing that you can relate him with any of the cops you have seen in Punjab. 

Satish Kaushik is delightful as manager plus uncle of Tommy Singh and adds to the fun quotient of the movie. 

The musical soundtrack of the movie that has been composed by Amit Trivedi is outstanding. On top of it, most of the songs play at opportune time propelling the movie further. A special mention of Subrata Chakraborty and Amit Ray for their effective contribution in the field of Production Designing. The cinematographer of the movie is Rajeev Ravi who has done an exemplary job.  The way he has captured the raw, rustic milieu of Punjab through roving eye of his lens is brilliant. Also, his choice of color palettes as per the requirement of the scenes is praiseworthy. The movie has been edited by Megha Sen who has done a commendable job at the editing table. As a writer-director, Abhishek Chaubey has done an outstanding job of highlighting a real problem that Punjab is facing. With his eloquent vision, Chaubey has shown the menace that drugs can pose to individuals and society. The best part is that he has crafted the film in realistic setting, capturing the rustic flavor of Punjab and dealt with a real problem that the state is facing. Full credit to Chaubey for raking up this issue and make an interesting film about it. The clever way in which Abhishek Chaubey has concocted this tale and intersected the worlds of its four principle characters is applause worthy. 

Punjab, known as the land of five rivers which earlier battled with terrorism is now battling with narco-terror. Udta Punjab is a must watch because it shows the new aspects that have plagued the state which is known for its green revolution. Though, some vested interests tried to sabotage the movie by leaking it online, yet the movie has opened to packed houses with audience thronging to theaters for watching it.  It's a big win for Anurag Kashyap, Abhishek Chaubey, his team and the audience who have given a deliberate and strong thumbs down to piracy. 

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Friday, 27 May 2016

Saadey CM Saab :: Movie Review

Saadey CM Saab written, produced by Sumeet Singh and helmed by Vipin Parashar which talks about the murkier world of politics is a potboiler laden with all ingredients to satiate your yearning for a message induced commercial film. It's heartening to see Punjabi filmmakers breaking away from the set pattern of making Rom-Coms or mindless comedies and trying to tread fresh grounds. The highlight of the movie is the bromance between its three main protagonists that has been effectively portrayed on-screen by Harbhajan Maan, Rahul Singh, Gurpreet Ghuggi and an equally strong antagonist act by Dev Gill. The movie showcases how plotting and scheming has become an integral part of politics with politicians stooping down to any level just to grab power. There is a dearth of politicians who used to connect with common man with a strong will to solve their problems. The movie takes a deep insight into the today's political world and ably tracks down its demons. The movie states that where as the political leaders should be working on the ground level for welfare of the people but instead they are busy plotting to usurp the power. On surface, this might look like an uncomplicated story, but scratch the exterior and there's strong current of elements ready to explode and engulf you. That is probably why Saadey CM Saab appears to exude much greater energy and exuberance than it intrinsically possesses. This movie with its able plot and spot-on characterizations is the kind of political thriller that will make you think about the kind of politics that we are subjected to these days. While the first half is thoroughly entertaining and keeps you engrossed in the proceedings, it is the second half that takes its toll on the movie. Excessively long second half especially with deliberately inserted tracks slows down the tempo of the movie. Had the second half of the movie been toned down, it would have done much favor to the movie. Though, the movie ends on a positive note by stating that however scheming or plotting one might do but it is always the truth which prevails and wins in the end. 

The story of the movie has been penned down by Sumeet Singh Manchanda and the screenplay has been written by Rajan Khera, Shekhar Gupta and Sumeet Mavi. I'll say that one of the biggest strengths of the movie has turned out to be its clever writing as erudition sits easily, spontaneously and unobtrusively on Sumeet Singh's narration. The most recognizable elements of Punjabiyat are in full florid display, hence making it a full on entertainer. The best part is that the script breezes past without any major breakdowns primarily because it sticks to its chosen line and to top it all, it offers some quirky detours that are made all the more engaging due to the consistent quality of acting by most of its artistes. Sumeet Singh has ably exposed the underbelly of politicians through couple of well written scenes. Politicians try to malign the image of their opponents by getting them implicated in fraudulent cases and if that doesn't work, they can even go down to the extent of getting them eliminated. The movie highlights that a true politician is the one who works on the ground level listening to the grievances of common people with a resolve to solve them. The story of the movie becomes all the more valuable as elections are due in Punjab next year. It gives a strong message to the people that they should and must vote for the leaders who have worked for their welfare and not just on the basis of political party or face value. The movie begins with an assassination attempt on CM aspirant, Yudhveer (Harbhajan Mann) who gets hit by a bullet. He is taken to hospital by his bosom pals i.e. Inder (Rahul Singh) and Dimpy (Gurpreet Ghuggi). Flashback ensues and we are told how Yudhveer has risen the ranks in his political party with his smart thinking and manipulative skills. Yudhveer has set his sight on CM's chair in the upcoming election but he has political rival in the form of Daman (Dev Gill) who also aspires to be next CM of the state. Present CM dies in a car accident and the party proposes name of Yudhveer for the candidature of CM in the forthcoming elections much to the disliking of Daman. Flashback ends and cut to present, Yudhveer after being discharged from hospital looses his memory and returns to his native village. Inder and Dimpy being Yudhveer's best buddies follow him to the village as they want to ensure that Yudhveer becomes next CM and not Daman. Will Yudhveer becomes the next CM of the state, Was the accident of late CM an accident or political murder, Will Daman allow Yudhveer to become next CM, Will Inder & Dimpy be successful in their attempt to make Yudhveer regain his lost memory is for you to go and watch at a theater near you. 

Harbhajan Mann has truly evolved as an actor and his fine performance in the movie proves it. We have seen him portraying sweet characters but in this movie we get to see him playing a character of a shrewd politician. It was kind of a litmus test for Harbhajan Mann to move away from his sweet, charming image n instead portray a character having manipulative grey shades and Harbhajan has passed the test with flying colors. What is more surprising is that Harbhajan looks more confident while enacting the character of a shrewd politician as compared to his simpleton character when he looses his memory. This is perhaps one of the finest performance of Harbhajan Mann till date. 

Rahul Singh who makes his foray into Punjabi films with this movie looks totally at ease while portraying the character of Inder. His body language, dancing as a Punjabi is so appropriate that not even an iota of doubt comes into your mind about him being Non Punjabi. He has made a perfect debut in Punjabi film fraternity and his confident look in the film speaks of itself. He along with Ghuggi act as support system of Mann in the film and their camaraderie has to be seen to be believed. Rahul is a complete package as an actor and wish to see him more frequently on Punjabi Celluloid. 

Gurpreet Ghuggi has shed the tag of a being a just comedian and started to do mature characters. Though, he tickles your funny bones with his witty one liners and frequent banters with Rahul Singh but he also portrays his matured side of a able friend in the movie. 

Dev Singh Gill who has appeared in S.S.Rajamouli's telugu hit Magadheera gets to play the main antagonist in this film. He has perfectly fitted the bill as the devilish and cunning politician Daman who can go to any lengths to become CM of the state. The best part about Dev is his intimidating screen presence which he has utilized to the optimum in the movie. 

Kashish Singh who portrays the character of Manvi makes her presence felt in the movie with her charming act. She looks totally cool while driving mobike and playing the love interest of Harbhajan. 

The musical soundtrack of the film that has been composed by Avishek Majumder, Goldkartz, Rishi Siddharth has all the en-trappings of becoming a chart buster with its varied tracks. The title song "Saadey CM Saab" and "Chup Kar Jaa" are the pick of the lot. A special mention of Raashid Rangrez (Production Designer) and Shabana Khanam (Art Director) for their effective contribution in their respective fields as they both have created the perfect milieu for the characters to play around. Plenty of credit for the tonal correctness of the movie goes to its cinematographer i.e. Sunita Radia. Sunita's camera has ably captured some stunning vistas. The movie has been edited by Protim who has kept the run-time of the movie to 143 minutes. I feel had the movie been more crisper say about at least 10-15 minutes especially in the second half, it would have been much better. As a producer, Sumeet Singh Manchanda has left no stone upturned to make this movie on a lavish scale which is visible during on-screen proceedings. Coming to the captain of the ship i.e. director Vipin Parashar, he has succeeded in making a political thriller whose basic premise is woven around bonds of friendship. Though, there are several messages imbibed in the movie but Vipin has crafted the movie in such a way that it comes across as entertaining and not preachy. Notably, Vipin has captured the exuberance of Punjabi youth through his characters especially Rahul's and Ghuggi's that we can relate to having or seen friends like them. The way Vipin has shot the song "Chup Kar Jaa" is worth applauding. 

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Friday, 20 May 2016

Sarbjit :: Movie Review

Sarbjit helmed by Omung Kumar which portrays the journey of a sister to bring her brother back home from across the border is marred by contrived storytelling and its the earnest performance by Randeep Hooda that elevates the stature of this movie. Sarbjit's story has all the en trappings to make for a heart felt biopic but excessive melodrama and deliberate insertion of typical Bollywood elements spoil the fun. Sarbjit Singh was a Indian farmer living in village Bhikiwind,Punjab who strayed into Pakistan under the influence of alcohol from his village which is located on the border. Pakistan authorities caught him and claimed him to be Manjit Singh, a spy for Indian intelligence agency RAW who has been working undercover in Pakistan. He was tried and convicted by Supreme Court of Pakistan for a series of bomb attacks in Lahore and Faisalabad that occurred in 1990. Sarbjit claimed that he was a farmer who has mistakenly entered Pakistan but after lot of torture he was made to sign a statement claiming that he was Manjit Singh, an Indian spy. His family especially his sister, Dalbir Kaur made persistent efforts and launched a nationwide campaign to prove his innocence. She met top politicians on both sides of the border to secure his release from Pakistani prison. This story has helluva potential to make for an engaging film but unfortunately the makers have not been able to capitalize on the same. Instead of focusing on the intricate details of Sarbjit's life story and ordeal, the film chooses to focus on melodrama offering the audience a screechy and mawkish drama. Since Aishwarya Rai Bachchan has been cast as Sarbjit's sister, so most of the screen time has been assigned to her which doesn't help the cause of the film. And, Randeep Hooda who has brilliantly transformed himself as per the character's requirements is seen in bits and pieces. Apart from that, the mediocre script doesn't offer much to the movie's actors other than scream, sulk or cry. What the film offers is the family's struggle, protests, hunger strikes, inept attitude of officials on Indian side and inhuman tortures coupled with Pakistanis baying for Sarbjit's blood on the other side. What further dampens the proceedings is the non linear pattern of storytelling. The film moves back and forth in time quite often giving it a directionless feel. It gives you a feel as if several disjointed scenes have been stitched together which at times have no bearing on each other. I've seen two back to back biopics i.e. Azhar, Sarbjit and both have failed to hit the right chords for somewhat similar reasons. Where as Azhar chose to tell a one sided story from only Azhar's point of view and chose to ignore other characters, Sarbjit chooses to focus only on his sister Dalbir Kaur enacted by Aishwarya Rai Bachchan so much so that even the character of Sarbjit's wife enacted by Richa Chaddha largely remains confined to the background. Moreover, both these biopics have tried to laden the film with typical Bollywood elements which fail to give the biopic that authentic touch. However, one particular scene when Sarbjit's family goes and meets him in prison after decades has been masterfully conceived and is bound to bring tears to your eyes. And, the movie ably raises the question and makes you wonder about the reasons of distrust between India and Pakistan and when and how will this legacy of hatred come to an end. 

The story, screenplay and dialogues of the movie have been penned together by Utkarshini Vashishtha and Rajesh Beri. They have failed to pen down the essence of Sarbjit's inspirational life story. It's truly inspirational that Sarbjit never lost his sanity despite being brutally tortured during his captivity in Pakistan spanning over two decades. And, his sister Dalbir Kaur who valiantly fought to bring him back and in a way dedicated her life for this cause. It's a pity that such inspirational story gets reduced to a emotional melodrama majorly because of its writing flaws. While watching the movie, it comes across as if the movie has been made to invoke the emotions of audience rather than depicting the tragedy. And, the disjointed screenplay adds to the confusion as one moment they talk about tracking the original terrorist who was involved in Lahore blasts based at Canada, next moment you see the same person being caught in Chandigarh. You hear about Human Rights Activists from Canada offering to help Sarbjit but they never come in the picture. It is the inconsistency in the screenplay that takes its toll on the film. The film begins with Dalbir Kaur (Aishwarya Rai Bachchan) along with other villagers frantically searching for her brother Sarbjit (Randeep Hooda) in the fields of their native village. Months later, she receives a letter from Pakistan that has been written by Sarbjit. In the letter, Sarbjit has written that how he accidentally crossed the border under the influence of alcohol and was caught by Pakistani patrolling cops. He was tortured for several months and made to sign a statement declaring him as Ranjit Singh, an Indian agent responsible for Lahore blasts. After this, movie moves back and forth in time depicting Dalbir's struggles to prove that her brother is not a terrorist.  A Pakistani lawyer Awais Shaikh (Darshan Kumaar) comes to the aid of Dalbir by taking up Sarbjit's case much to the dislike of fanatics in Pakistan. 

Randeep Hooda is proving to be one of today's best method actor. After his delightful performances in Main Aur Charles, Laal Rang he hits all the right notes as and in Sarabjit. As the film moves back and forth in time, we see Sarbjit growing from a young rural farmer to an aged prisoner and Randeep has portrayed the character brilliantly. The physical transformation that he went through (loosing oodles of weight) for portraying this character is worth applauding. You can literally feel the pain of Sarbjit who is languishing in Pakistani prison courtesy the acting prowess of Randeep. Right from the body language to facial expressions to linguistic skills, Randeep has got everything SPOT-ON. I can't think of any other actor who could have portrayed the character of Sarabjit more aptly than Randeep. He has ably portrayed a character who was on the verge of loosing his sanity. As an actor, Randeep has grown leaps and bounds and i will once again reiterate that Randeep is one of the finest talents around in Bollywood as of today.     

Though Jazba was touted as comeback film of Aishwarya Rai Bachchan but i feel Sarbjit is truly the comeback film of hers. She has delivered one of her finer performances as Dalbir Kaur, sister of Sarbjit. She has enacted the ageing facet of her character with aplomb. It is over the top scenes of her character i.e. shouting, crying at several junctures that act as spoilers, yet she has carried herself well in the movie. She is brilliant in the scene where she looses her baby as she has brilliantly enacted the shocked, numb state of mind in that scene.

Darshan Kumaar once again proves his versatility as an actor by portraying his character to the hilt in Sarbjit. His act as Awais Shaikh, the Pakistani lawyer comes across as very earnest. After Mary Kom & NH 10, Darshan once again nails down his character to pitch perfection. Darshan makes the empathy of his character towards Dalbir & Sarbjit look very natural and convincing.

The musical soundtrack of the movie is quite average despite having been composed by a battery of music directors including Amaal Mallik, Jeet Ganguly, Shail-Pritesh, Tanishk Bagchi & Shashi Shivamm. The cinematography by Kiran Deohans is immensely gratifying as Kiran's camera glides across Sarbjit's inner and outer world searching for a meeting point between two worlds through visuals that suggest an uncomfortable kinship between feelings and their geopolitical counter-point. We often see Sarbjit in situations where his emotional world is manifested in interaction with himself. The movie has been edited by Rajesh Pandey who has kept the run-time to 131 minutes. I feel he could have restricted the run-time by at least 10 minutes. As a director, Omung Kumar has done an average job and has been let down by a weak, disjointed screenplay. Also, he has gone overboard with melodrama which in a way affects the efficacy of a biopic. He has tried to pack too much including jingoism instead of focusing on a straight forward narrative. A couple of emotional scenes have come out well especially the one where Sarbjit's family meets him in prison which is the highlight of the movie.

Sarbjit is a classic case where an inspiring biopic gets reduced to a average melodramatic film because of inconsistent, disjointed storyline and over the top execution. It can be watched once especially by those who like to watch glycerine induced melodramatic tearjerkers. 

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Friday, 13 May 2016

Azhar :: Movie Review

Azhar helmed by Tony D'Souza has turned to be a strictly average Bollywood film which fails to hit the right chords because of its botched up content and unadorned execution.  It's a well known fact that most of Indians are passionate about two things ; Cricket and Bollywood. And, celebrities from both these fields are idolized by many. So, when news of match fixing scandal broke out in 2000 involving Azhar's name, most of the cricket fans were shell shocked. The CBI reports clearly stated that Azhar had confessed of his involvement in the same. Mohammad Azharuddin's life story has all the quintessential elements to make for a engrossing Bollywood drama as he has been one of India's most successful cricket captain whose second marriage was with a Bollywood actress and most importantly was accused of match fixing in lieu of money. So, when a Biopic on Azhar was announced audience was looking forward to know what all happened behind the scenes especially as far as match fixing is concerned. What kind of trauma and pain Azhar went through when those allegations were leveled against him. But, disappointingly the film begins with a long disclaimer clarifying that the film is not a biopic and is just inspired by the life events of Azhar with several cinematic liberties been taken while making the movie. And, this is where the film misses its marquee. What could have turned out to be an engrossing sports drama, gets reduced to the personal life story of Azhar. And, on top of it you get a feeling that the film has been made with an intention to turn all the grey shades of Azhar's character into white. While we were hoping to get an insight on the grey dealings that occur in the name of match fixing, what we get to see is personal story of Mohammad Azharuddin unspool on-screen replete with cinematic cliches and melodrama. Though, there are references to other cricketers but they are too few and far. Also, the film looks like a P.R. exercise of Azhar as it paints him in good light while casting aspersions on characters of his fellow cricketers. Manoj Prabhakar has been shown as a cricketer who was not only jealous of Azhar but played for his own vested interests rather than country. To corroborate this the film cites an example of India-West Indies match where Manoj made a century but his slower batting rate cost India that match. It shows Ravi Shastri as a womanizer. The film shows how some senior cricketers were unhappy when Azhar was made captain of Indian cricket team. It also shows that some fellow cricketers like Navjot Sidhu and Kapil Dev refused to come in support of Azhar when match fixing allegations were leveled against him. The film also in a way justifies the fact that he cheated on his first wife, Naureen portrayed by Prachi Desai as he fell in love with a popular film actress,Sangeeta Bijlani portrayed by Nargis Fakhri. Though, when Sangeeta meets Azhar in the film she clearly states that she follows two rules ; never date a cricketer or a married man. And, two scenes later she is seen romancing a man who is both cricketer as well as married. Right from the courtroom scenes to the matches, everything lacks excitement. The film could have managed to create a curiosity with respect to the courtroom scenes especially the judgement in match fixing case but the way writers etch out the character of Azhar as a man with good traits, you can always guess what is going to be the outcome. In short, what could have turned out to be a exciting, controversial entertainer turns out to be a ordinary flick revolving around the goodness of its protagonist. 

The story, screenplay and dialogues of the movie have been penned down by Rajat Arora. Rajat has mostly concentrated on sketching out the personal details of the film's protagonist and not focused much on the controversies. When the film opens up with Manoj Prabhakar doing a sting operation on the cricketers, you get a feel that something exciting is going to follow and skeletons will start tumbling out of the closet but alias! it never happens. He has painted the protagonist of the movie as pristine as white.  In a cricket movie, you have a urge to see what all goes inside the players room and what other fellow players of Azhar were like but they are merely reduced as sidekicks. The film in a way justifies whatever Azhar does and portrays him as so righteous that he could never be involved in match fixing. In the process, film fails to etch out the characters of others around him. On top of it, the film follows a non linear pattern of storytelling which keeps shifting from 1980s to early 2000s which leaves you a tad confused at times.  The film begins with Azhar (Emraan Hashmi) completing his 99th Test match. Meanwhile, a jealous fellow cricketer Manoj carries out a sting operation involving Azhar in a match fixing scandal. We start hearing names like Hansie Cronje, M K Sharma (Rajesh Sharma) and others who are involved in the scandal. Azhar's life is tormented as overnight he is branded as a traitor instead of Hero. B.C.C.I. imposes a ban on him from playing cricket. He decides to fight his case in court and hires his childhood friend, Reddy (Kunaal Roy Kapur) as his lawyer. He starts narrating his life's journey to Reddy and a flashback ensues. Right from his childhood, Azhar was a introvert and his maternal grandfather (Kulbhushan Kharbanda) instills confidence in him to play cricket and nurtures a dream to see Azhar play 100 test matches for India. Azhar gets selected in Indian cricket team and scores three successive centuries on his debut in International cricket. He goes for an arranged marriage with Naureen (Prachi Desai). He is appointed captain of cricket team much to dislike of some senior players. His paths cross with gorgeous actress Sangeeta (Nargis Fakhri) and they fall in love. The introvert Azhar undergoes a transformation and becomes more suave wearing expensive watches. Azhar even dedicates one of his awards to Sangeeta making his love for her come out in open domain. The court case begins where the prosecution lawyer is Meera (Lara Dutta) who was once an ardent Azhar fan. 

Emraan Hashmi has delivered an earnest performance as Mohammad Azharuddin in the movie. Though, his looks are not that familiar to that of Azhar but he has certainly caught up with some of his mannerisms. His body language, walking style are reminiscent to that of Azhar. It is definitely quite different from what we have seen of Emraan Hashmi, lately. He is at his usual best while romancing both Prachi as well as Nargis including his famous trademark lip-lock scenes. 

Prachi Desai has done an outstanding job while portraying the character of Naureen, Azhar's first wife. Prachi has put her heart and soul into the character of this simpleton woman. She is a treat to watch in the scene where she confronts Azhar and reminds him that it was she who stood by him during his struggling days and not Sangeeta. 

Nargis Fakhri does an average job as Sangeeta in the movie. She is good as far as glamor quotient of the movie is concerned but when it comes to acting, she has a long way to go. 

Kunaal Roy Kapur has come up with effective performance as Azhar's buddy as well as Lawyer, Reddy. So has Lara Dutta as the prosecution lawyer who wants to get Azhar convicted. Kulbhushan Kharbanda, Gautam Gulati, Rajesh Sharma, Manjot Singh have played their parts well. 

The musical soundtrack of the movie that has been composed by Pritam, Amaal Mallik & DJ Chetas is good. The cinematographer of the movie is Rakesh Singh who has done a swell job at capturing visuals. He has captured the outdoor locales of London as well as Hyderabad with aplomb. The movie has been edited by Dev Jadhav who has kept the run-time of movie to 131 minutes. As a director, Tony D'Souza has failed to capitalize on the story of Mohammad Azharuddin. Tony has helmed the movie in a simplistic straight forward way so as make to make his protagonist sound like having no grey areas. Had it been a regular Bollywood movie, it might have worked. But for a biopic and that too on a controversial cricket star embroiled in match fixing, this treatment seems far fetched and fickle. I am writing this because while watching the movie you get a feel that Azhar was the perfect, righteous player in the team while his fellow players had their own respective grey areas. And, when you are watching any sports film you obviously expect to watch some well executed on-field scenes which are missing from the movie.  Moreover, elements of passion, surprise, tension are missing from the film. 

Azhar had the potential to be a gripping controversial sports drama but its botched up content coupled with regular treatment spoils the fun and it ends up being a lame, timid film.         

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Friday, 29 April 2016

Baaghi :: Movie Review

Baaghi helmed by Sabbir Khan touted as love story of rebels is a heady cocktail of thrills, romance and jaw dropping action making it an entertaining watch for action lovers. The best part about Baaghi are its action sequences which have been outstandingly orchestrated and brilliantly executed by its cast especially Tiger Shroff. In fact, Tiger wins you over with his fitness level right in his introductory scene where he is shown upside down, balancing his full weight on a thumb and a forefinger. It's a treat watching this young actor so much in command of his body. As a director, Sabbir Khan scores brownie points by casting two well chiseled, brawny actors who play the characters of Ronnie (Tiger Shroff), the protagonist and Raghav (Sudheer Babu), the antagonist. Both these actors are so fit and agile that they take the fight sequences to a new level. You bet, Baaghi has some of the best action that Bollywood has witnessed in recent times. The drawback of the film is its predictable screenplay and some shoddily written characters who are introduced in the film to induce humor but instead fall flat. Sabbir Khan's last flick 'Heropanti' also featured Tiger Shroff  as the main lead, so Sabbir knows the strengths of Tiger and has utilized them to the optimum. Sabbir has given Tiger a character to portray that suits him to the TEE i.e. of a Rebel. Tiger is at his best when he is in action (fighting) and you see plenty of that in Baaghi. In short, it is the action that elevates the stature of this ordinary film to another level. 

The story of the movie that has been penned down by Sanjeev Dutta is very ordinary and massy. He fails to etch out the characters convincingly which acts as a deterrent. Moreover, he has tried to project the tale as a modern day Ramayana with reference to the kidnapping of the heroine Sia (Shraddha Kapoor) by the antagonist Raghav who even goes on to say in the film that in present day Ramayana, Raam will die. The basic storyline of two guys falling for the same girl is very average and routine with nothing new to offer. Even the ploy of inserting characters ( including a blind cab driver ) to generate forced humor doesn't add value to the film. It is only the earnest performances and great action that make this movie a watchable entertainer. The movie begins by introducing us with Ronnie (Tiger Shroff) who is a rebel but fails to tell us how and why he is a rebel. Moving ahead, Sia (Shraddha Kapoor) who is an upcoming actress is kidnapped by Raghav (Sudheer Babu) and taken to Bangkok. Ronnie who needs money for treatment of a young boy takes on the task of getting Sia back for the sake of money. But has Ronnie undertaken this task just for the sake of money or there is something else.....A flashback ensues in which we are subjected to the events that led to blossoming of love between Ronnie and Sia. We are told how Ronnie arrived in Kerala to become a student in Academy of kalaripayattu where fighting skills along with discipline are taught by Guruji. Meanwhile, Raghav who is Guruji's son also falls in love with Sia and wants to marry her at any cost. Raghav is a big businessman in Bangkok who owns several fight clubs there with turnover of several hundred crores.  He not only uses money power and manipulates Sia's father (Sunil Grover) to create a misunderstanding and rift between Ronnie and Sia but also kills his own father as his father wants him to marry someone else. Flashback ends as Ronnie reaches Bangkok. To save Sia from clutches of Raghav is a herculean task as Raghav resides in a multi tower building whose each floor is guarded by well trained fighters. Will Ronnie be able to save Sia, Will the misunderstanding between them get sorted out is what forms the rest of the story. 

Tiger Shroff is a pro and definitely in league of his own when it comes to action sequences and its a sheer delight watching him perform action scenes in the movie. Mind you, he has not used a body double for any of the high octane action stunts which is exemplary. The most remarkable aspect is the flow with which he uses his build, hands, legs in perfect sync. Tiger has his own distinctive style of action which is unparalleled and none of the present day Bollywood Heroes can perform that. He seems to have worked really hard to learn these fight techniques which can be gauged from his performance in Baaghi. Whether jumping from buildings or kicking his opponents, there is an easy going unflappable attitude to Tiger's on-screen persona, as though to say, there is much more to movies than just flamboyant machismo. Tiger's sincerity in it all is quite winsome. Though, he needs to improve on dialogue delivery and emotional deftness but when it comes to action, Tiger is a star. An action star who has set real high standards for his contemporaries to follow. 

Shraddha Kapoor has delivered a power packed performance in Baaghi. There are two facets to Shraddha's character in the movie ; one being a vivacious, bubbly girl who loves chirping and dancing in the rain while the other being a strong willed girl ready to kick the ass of her opponents. To her credit, Shraddha has come out equally endearing in both. Though, we have seen her in her chirpy avatar before but be ready to get surprised by watching her perform some amazing action in the movie. Shraddha seems to have invested a lot in action training and you will realize this once you see her performance in the movie. It's good to see Shraddha pushing herself to the limits to portray a character convincingly. 

Sudheer Babu is pitch perfect and looks utmost convincing as the main antagonist in Baaghi. With his well chiseled body, he has taken action sequences to an altogether new level in the movie. To match the Heropanti and action skills of Tiger Shroff, an equally impressive opponent was needed and Sudheer Babu has perfectly fitted the bill. Though, his conventional Hero looks and charm make Sudheer Babu look like protagonist but with his acting prowess and able use of eyes and expressions, Sudheer plays the part of antagonist in Baaghi to perfection. Sudheer has made a perfect debut in Bollywood and looking forward to seeing more of him. 

Sunil Grover has given a delightful performance as the funny and mean father of Shraddha in the movie. 

The musical soundtrack of the movie that has been composed by Meet Bros, Amaal Mallik, Ankit Tiwari & Manj Music is ear pleasing and comprises of varied numbers. But, it is the background music composed by Julius Packiam which is outstanding. Julius's score is neither loud nor jarring but is apt enough to elevate the cinematic experience and provides a further impetus to the visuals we watch on-screen. A big round of applause for Kecha Khamphakdee and Javed-Eizaz for their effective contribution in action department. They have masterfully orchestrated some of the best action scenes that we have ever witnessed on Bollywood celluloid. The cinematographer of the movie is Binod Pradhan who has ably captured the scenic locales of Kerala and Thailand with aplomb. The movie has been edited by Manan Sagar who has kept the run-time of movie to 149 minutes. As a director, Sabbir Khan has done a fantastic job as he made Baaghi an entertaining film despite its ordinary and predictable storyline. Sabbir has made the film in a very slick, stylish manner and the way he has captured the action sequences is worth applauding. Sabbir knew the strengths of his film's protagonist i.e.Tiger and not only utilized them in the most effective way but also gave him a worthy opponent in form of Sudheer Babu. It is only because of Sabbir's good direction that an average script got converted into an entertaining film. 

Baaghi is a typical masala entertainer embellished with some real high-octane action portrayed effectively by its cast especially Tiger Shroff. If you have penchant for action thrillers featuring brawny men, Baaghi is cut out for you.   

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Saturday, 23 April 2016

Laal Rang :: Movie Review

                               Image result for 4 stars out of 5

Laal Rang helmed by Syed Ahmad Afzal is brilliantly conceived drama soaked in reality about illegal blood trade racket which is taken several notches higher by bravura performances delivered by Randeep Hooda & Akshay Oberoi. Few films have their heart at the right place, few capture the spirit of what heart wants to convey and fewer still stay focused on what they set out to state. Laal Rang is one of those rare films that is high on pertinent social issues (Illegal blood trade, get-rich-quick path), is cryptically funny and amusing in parts, meaningful all through and yet steers clear of homilies and sermons. It is heartening to see new age directors redefining mainstream Bollywood by doing away with typical Bollywood stereotypes. They are breaking new grounds with their choice of fresh concepts soaked in reality. And, Syed Ahmad Afzal is one of those directors who comes up with invigorating subjects while helming his films.  His last venture, Youngistaan (2014) was a love story set against the backdrop of politics in which a young man has to fine tune his personal and political life. And, now he is back with Laal Rang which talks about blood theft racket in Haryana but in an engaging manner as the script delivers several emotional detours like friendship, love, betrayal and redemption. If Kanu Behl's Titli captured the underbelly of Delhi's carjackers with aplmob, Syed's Laal Rang captures the underbelly of blood racketeers based in Karnal, Haryana to pitch perfection. Laal Rang has a story to tell, it's own story that's rooted in the place it is set in - Karnal and its adjoining areas. It's an interesting story and it belongs to its characters. But the style that it chooses to tell this story is intelligent. And Fun. But it's not germane to its story and people. Syed Ahmad Afzal has a penchant for detailing which is quite evident in Laal Rang. Syed along with his co-writer Pankaj Matta has etched out the characters replete with their characteristics masterfully and the candid portrayal of them by his actors, acts as icing on the cake. On top of it, Syed's choice of real locales to shoot the movie provides a further impetus to the on-screen proceedings. The humor laced quirky dialogues lend some of the most plausible moments to the movie. And, when Syed signed Randeep Hooda to play the role of Shankar, the protagonist, it was half the battle won. Firstly, Randeep is one of the hottest talents around but secondly and most importantly Randeep belongs to Haryana. So, Randeep's dialect, body language is so apt in the movie that we are not able to locate Randeep in the movie but only Shankar. In short, Laal Rang is a endearing watch as it presents a serious pertinent issue in a entertaining manner backed up by some bravura performances.

The story, screenplay and dialogues of the movie have been penned down by Syed Ahmad Afzal along with Pankaj Matta. Firstly, we have to give due credit to the writers for penning down a script based on such a serious issue which has seldom been presented on big screen. They have cleverly concocted the screenplay lending the movie certain intonation coupled with tumult. Also, the writers need to be lauded for the way they have etched out the characters. Each & every character is significant and contributes to the movie irrespective of its on-screen duration in the movie. Despite being involved in nefarious activity of blood trading, Shankar (Randeep) is shown to be a man of good traits with sound sense of humor. This is evident in one of the scenes where Shankar hails a cycle rickshaw and every rickshaw-puller on the street comes to a halt. While we think they might have done it out of fear but we soon find out that they did so out of their affection for Shankar. It is Shankar who has helped them earn extra bucks by buying their blood for trading. Most of the dialogues have a quirky feel and the one which stands out is Shankar's defining dialogue, " All work, good or bad, must be done with honesty". The movie is set in Karnal, Haryana and revolves around the blood trade business and corruption in blood banks. Shankar Malik (Randeep Hooda) runs a successful blood donation racket. He plans to become a Government insider so as to make his illegal activities easier. To execute this plan, Shankar enrols in a Medical Lab Technology course at a Government hospital. The narrator of the story Rajesh Dhiman (Akshay Oberoi) also enrols in the same hospital. Though, Rajesh is an ambitious student from a humble background but he gets smitten by the lifestyle and charm of Shankar  He is in awe with the way Shankar conducts the business of illegal blood trading. Influenced by Shankar's lifestyle and to earn quick bucks, Rajesh joins Shankar. Shankar takes Rajesh under his wings and a bromance develops between both of them. Rajesh also falls in love with Poonam (Pia Bajpai) and wants to marry her. Soon greed enters the mind of Rajesh and he has a fall out with Shankar. To make things worse, new S.P. of town, Gajaraj Singh (Rajneish Duggal) has taken upon him to shut down this ugly business of blood trading. Will Shankar & Rajesh get back together, Will Gajaraj Singh be able to catch hold of Rajesh & Shankar for their illegal activities is what forms the rest of the story.

Randeep Hooda is one helluva natural and effortless actor and his performance in Laal Rang is a bonafide testament to it. Randeep is one those rare actors who delves deep into the skin of the character that he is assigned and than portrays it efficaciously on-screen. Shankar was not an easy character to portray as despite having grey shades, the character has a charming human side to it but to his credit Randeep Hooda has essayed the complex character with effortless ease.  He looks smoking hot in the movie as the swagger who wears loud printed shirts while riding Yamaha RX 100.  I personally can't think of any other actor who could have enacted the character of Shankar in more apt way other than Randeep. The amount of visceral energy that Randeep has put into the character of Shankar is worth applauding and he truly deserves an ovation for this performance.

Akshay Oberoi has turned out to be the surprise package of Laal Rang with his impeccable performance. Akshay seems to have imbibed the finer traits of his character and portrayed them effectively on-screen. The remarkable ease with which Akshay has portrayed the transformation of his character from being a humble student to greed driven criminal is commendable. I feel Akshay is one of the underutilized actors who if given a well etched out character to portray, can prove his mettle as an actor. Akshay's bromance with Randeep in the movie has to be seen to be believed.

Pia Bajpai is endearing as Poonam who is the love interest of Akshay in the movie. Her linguistic quirks in the movie are bound to bring smile to your faces.

Rajneish Duggal delivers a power packed performance as no-nonsense S.P. who is out to destroy the blood trafficking racket in his area.

Amongst others, noticeable performances have been delivered by Meenakshi Dixit, Shreya Narayan, Rajendra Sethi and Sanjay Kumar Saha. 

The musical soundtrack that has been composed by Vipin Patwa & Shiraz Uppal has the regional feel to it which gels very well with the screenplay and on-screen proceedings. The background music of the movie that has been composed by Mathias Duplessy is excellent and heightens the kitsch of the settings. A special mention of Sachin Lovalekar (Costume Designer) and Nishi Singh (Make up stylist) for their effective contributions in their respective fields. The cinematographer of the movie is Dhirendra Shukla who has done a swell job at capturing the visuals. While on one hand Dhirendra's camera ably captures the rustic surroundings of hinterland, on the other hand it often glides down inside the psyche of its principle characters bringing their ambitions, turmoil and greed to the forefront.  The movie has been edited by Shounok Ghosh who has done a great job at the editing table and kept the run-time of the movie to 148 minutes. Some people might have a problem with the languid pace of the movie at certain junctures but i think it was important to establish the characters and their affinity.  As a writer-director, Syed Ahmad Afzal has hit all the right notes with this film. He has not only penned down a novel premise but also ably created an equally effective milieu to film the premise. Syed seems to have invested a lot while researching on the subject but his eye for detailing can be hailed as his biggest attribute. Right from the settings, costumes and dialect, everything comes across as extremely authentic with respect to milieu. For example, the poster that adorns the wall of Shankar's room is of Netaji's face that states ; You give me blood, I will give you freedom.  The best part is that Syed has crafted an engaging tale of love, bromance around the grim and serious issue of blood mafia. Any other director would have fallen prey to commercialization by sprucing up the movie with typical Bollywood en-trappings but thankfully Syed steers the film away from cinematic cliches.    

Laal Rang has a unique, interesting plot revolving around the grim and serious issue of blood mafia which has been executed with excellence and stellar performances. It is a must watch for those who have a penchant for reality soaked cinema. 

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