Saturday, 19 December 2015

Dilwale :: Movie Review

Dilwale helmed by Rohit Shetty takes you on predictable lanes of love, betrayal, action, melodrama making it an average masala affair. Since last flick that Rohit Shetty & Shahrukh worked together in i.e. Chennai Express was a monstrous hit, so the expectations from this movie were quite high. And when Kajol was announced as the leading lady opposite Shahrukh in this movie, expectations soared to an altogether different altitude. And, fortunately for Rohit Shetty it's the charming chemistry between Kajol & SRK that has saved this convoluted drama from going haywire. In fact, all the actors in the film have given earnest performances but the basic plot which is the pillar of strength for a movie is missing. Dilwale isn't like a typical Rohit Shetty film in many ways apart from the cars. Dilwale is more of a love story and an emotional drama between siblings. Even, Chennai Express was a love story but it had dollops of humor quotient interlaced in the narrative which is missing from Dilwale. No doubt, there is humor in Dilwale too but it is quite few and far in-between. Dilwale is more like a potpourri with Rohit Shetty throwing in a bit of everything in the movie ranging from romance, action, comedy, drama, heartache. But, there is no cohesive storyline to back up all these elements making them fall flat. Still, Dilwale can be watched once for its slick action, well choreographed songs and earnest performances by its starcast. 

Dilwale like many other Rohit's films begins in Goa where Veer (Varun Dhawan) is living with elder brother Raj naam to suna hoga (Shahrukh Khan). They own a car garage where they modify cars. Why ? Arre Bhai, It's a Rohit Shetty film where cars play a pivotal role in the movie and characters appear in-between. While going on a test drive, Veer meets Ishita (Kriti Sanon) and after a few meetings they fall in love with each other. Veer has a run-in with some local drug dealers who rough him up. There, we get a hint that amiable Raj has a violent past as Raj along with his two old trusted aides (Mukesh Tiwari & Pankaj Tripathi), raids the hideout of drug dealers and beats them black & blue. While the drug dealers threaten him of dire consequences from their boss King (Boman Irani), Raj tells them to tell their King that Kali aaya tha. Kali.....Whatta name but hey wait, there's more to come. A flashback ensues and the scene shifts to Bulgaria where Raj was Kali, son of Mafia Don (Vinod Khanna) engaged in a bitter turf war with a rival (Kabir Bedi). In Bulgaria, Kali meets Meera (Kajol) falls in love with her and takes her out on a five minutes date.  Meera ditches Kali only to fall in love with him later. After a love song and few reels, some misunderstanding ensues and Meera thinks Kali has ditched him. Confused ? Wait! There's more to follow.....Let's move ahead as now we come to know that Ishita is sister of Meera who disapproves of her sister's alliance with Veer because he is brother of Kali (who is now Raj). Now, Veer, his bosom pal Sid (Varun Sharma), Ishita and a petty thief (Johnny Lever) try their level best to reunite Meera & Raj. What happens thereafter, is a typical Bollyood Formula Film photo finish. 

Shahrukh Khan once again proves why he is known as King Khan or King of romance with his impeccable act in Dilwale.  His majestic presence lifts up some very ordinary scenes in the movie. While his younger Avatar where he romances Meera will make many a hearts go aflutter, his chiseled physique coupled with his profound voice and apt expressions lend a certain aura to the character of Kali. His eyes belie many emotions as the angst ridden Raj wanting to clear the misunderstandings with his lady love.

Kajol, as expected, is simply brilliant in the movie and delivers a memorable performance. She truly excels not only in the emotional parts but also takes you by surprise in a scene which gives twist to the movie in the first half. Her chemistry with Shahrukh has to be seen to be believed.

Varun Dhawan has portrayed the character of Veer to pitch perfection. With his endearing act in the movie, Varun is bound to increase his fan-following manifold. The best part about Varun is his chameleon like fluidity which makes him a great versatile actor. He has not only come out good in comic scenes which is his strength but also in emotional scenes especially with SRK.

Kriti Sanon not only looks like a million bucks but also portrays her character to the Tee in Dilwale. She might be just one film old in Bollywood but she has stood her ground firmly amongst stalwarts in Dilwale.

Varun Sharma is growing in strength as an actor with each subsequent movie of his. His penchant for comic timing is in full florid display in Dilwale. In fact, Varun's monologue where he explains how difficult it has become to maintain a girlfriend in today's times is a scene stealer.

Amongst ensemble starcast, noticeable performances have been delivered by Sanjay Mishra, Boman Irani, Mukesh Tiwari, Pankaj Tripathi and Johnny Lever. 

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Friday, 18 December 2015

Bajirao Mastani :: Movie Review

BajiRao Mastani helmed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali is a soulful pageant that not only smittens you but also transports you into a land of passion, grandeur, love and war making it a Big Screen watch. When it's Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Bollywood's Maximum Man, rest assured that half measures are never an option. Unbridled cinematic hedonism is par for the course. With every film, Sanjay has taken the expectations of audience to a higher altitude. This has been the dream project of Sanjay since long, hence he has left no stone upturned to make Bajirao Mastani, a grand affair. The attention-grabbing visuals, the effervescent colors, the intense drama intertwined in the screenplay and the powerhouse performances by its lead starcast, captivate and suck you into the movie right from its first frame. Sanjay does what he knows best ; using Bollywood elements like song, dance, larger-than life protagonists and their epic love affairs- and attempting to redefine the form of Hindi movies and telling them in his own auteur style. What stands out most about the film is passion ; the filmmaker's, that of his actors', and even in the film's characters. It is impossible to watch this film impassively. There are enough magical scenes, to make you feel you have to watch it a second time to soak it all in. The film and the viewer gets its biggest adrenaline rush from the strong, pulsating chemistry that the lead pair Ranveer and Deepika unfold from the time they meet till the climax of the film. There is an alluring magic in the film that will enchant you. There is exhilarating energy,  passion, thrill and romance in the movie that unspools on-screen via its characters especially Bajirao played by Ranveer Singh. Those who were skeptical about Ranveer portraying Peshwa's character because of his off-screen persona & antics, will be biting their tongues after watching his performance in the movie.     

This time, Bhansali has showcased the Maratha history in his own impeccable style. The story of the movie has been penned down by SLB where as the screenplay and dialogues have been written by Prakash Kapadia. The movie elevates the legendary Peshwa Bajirao, 18th century warrior-hero determined to establish Hindu rule across the Bharatvarsha to the level of a selfless crusader for love in a climate of hate and bigotry. Though the movie features the key battles of Bajirao, yet its more focused on his passion for Mastani, the courageous and beautiful half Rajput, half Muslim Princess of Bundelkhand. The movie ably conveys the message that all religions preach love but love has no religion. Love, is a religion by itself and those that swear by its tenets become immortal like Bajirao and Mastani.  At its core, Bajirao Mastani is all about love. The movie tells the tale of Bajirao Peshwa (Ranveer Singh) who has won all the 40 battles that he ever fought and wants to create one united Hindu Nation. How he meets, falls in love and marries Mastani (Deepika Padukone), who is half Rajput and half Muslim despite being already married to Kashi (Priyanka Chopra).    

Ranveer Singh....Take a bow. What a performance. I have no qualms in saying that this is Ranveer's best performance till date. The ease with which Ranveer Singh has imbibed the traits of Peshwa and further portrayed them on-screen is truly commendable. Ranveer's hardwork & dedication towards enacting this role is visible from his tenacity on the character. He is virtually perfect in each & every frame of the movie. He looks very convincing as the blazing Bajirao in the fight scenes. But, the scene in which he pines for his love Mastani with sad, bloodshot eyes will be etched in your memory for a long time. It won't be a surprise if he sweeps away with the best actor trophies at most of the award functions for his performance in the movie. 

Deepika Padukone mesmerizes you with her portrayal of Mastani in the movie. She looks and enacts her part of being the warrior princess with utmost conviction. She looks fiercely determined as a warrior and passionate in the love scenes. The intense love scenes between her and Ranveer are a treat to watch. Deepika is proving her versatility by playing diverse characters as her role in the movie is in stark contrast to her roles in Piku & Tamasha which released earlier this year.     

Priyanka Chopra hits all the right notes and delivers a bang-on performance as Kashi in the movie. It's a delight to watch Priyanka emote her character's journey from being child-like innocent in the beginning to a mature lady standing tall after the second marriage of her husband. Priyanka Chopra has ably captured the finer nuances of her layered character and essayed them on-screen with her acting prowess. Priyanka's body language and her rendition of typical Marathi catch phrases lend a authentic feel to her character in the movie.

Amongst, the ensemble starcast noticeable performances have been delivered by Tanvi Azmi, Milind Soman, Mahesh Manjrekar, Raza Murad and Aditya Pancholi.

And finally, as with all SLB movies - the craft is something to look forward to. It is evident that every technical department - stunning visuals captured by Sudeep Chatterjee's cinematography, Production Design by Saloni Dhatrak, Sriram Iyengar, Sujeet Sawant, Costumes by Maxima Basu, Anju Modi, Stunts by Shyam Kaushal - has worked hard and in consonance to realize Bhansali's meticulous, ravishing frames, a signature single-source backlighting bursting through palaces and warzones. 

Sanjay Leela Bhansali deserves all the accolades for making a colorful and rich historical film on such a big canvas. His biggest attribute is his eye for detailing which is evident in each & every frame of the movie. It would not be wrong to say that he has painted the film in a myriad of colors and exrtacted the best out of his cast & crew.      

Bajirao Mastani has each and everything that you expect from a Sanjay Leela Bhansali film. Picture perfect frames, huge colorful sets, beautiful heavy costumes, emotions, poetic lines and melodrama. It's a spectacular show !

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Saturday, 5 December 2015

Angry Indian Goddesses :: Movie Review

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Angry Indian Goddesses by Pan Nalin is a intelligent, well made, must watch Indian motion picture which rakes up some real issues that are prevalent in today's hypocritical society albeit in an entertaining manner. From the surface, AIG looks like a female bonding story but scratch the surface and a diverse range of issues ranging from gender discrimination, rapes, homosexuality, legal battle and revenge crop up. The beauty of AIG lies in its well etched out characters and their respective stories. And, when you have talented staracst portraying their respective characters with aplomb, it acts as icing on the cake. Another major highlight of the movie is that all the leading ladies of AIG represent the true picture of today's modern urban women with none of them faking the sanskari culture. Though, our sanskari censor board once again plays the spoilsport by muting several dialogues in the movie which acts as a deterrent. 

The opening prelude sets the tone for this wonderful movie which celebrates womanhood as you watch Pammy (Pavleen Gujral) dropping gym weights on the guy's foot who is teasing her in the gym ; singer Madhureeta (Anushka Manchanda) attacking the interrupters during her performance ; photographer Freida (Sarah Jane Dias) quitting a fairness cream shoot ; Corporate honcho Suranjana (Sandhya Mridul) after tearing apart her subordinates, strips to her bikini and dives into a pool ; a wannabe Bollywood starlet Joanna (Amrit Maghera) fails to obey her director's instructions of being a damsel in distress during a shoot and Lakshmi (Rajshri Deshpande) catches hold of a eve teaser literally by his balls. 

The women in AIG are brave, sexy and candid. They have the guts to barge into a men's toilet, drink, smoke, use cuss words, share sex jokes and break a drinks bar with a cricket bat. But, all of them have had their share of high/lows in life and are fighting their respective demons. While, one of them who has been the college topper feels that she has just been reduced to being a mere commodity at her in-law's place ; the other is pissed off with judicial system as her brother was gunned down in front of her eyes and is still awaiting justice. Another, a budding Rockstar is miffed off because she is not able to cut down the album of her choice as everyone wants her to sing typical Bollywood songs. But, when they get together, they set the house on fire. Their sitting together, drinking and talking their hearts out is what lends the most plausible moments to the film. They are women of substance and steel....., a domineering bunch they sure are. All of them are trying to live their life at their own terms and all of them gather at one place, Goa. The reason of their coming together is impending marriage of one of them. Hereafter, begins the revelry, bonding, some masti and discovery of their own selves. 

But, remember Nalin has called his film Angry Indian Goddesses. They are angry and he tells you why right from the beginning. If the film's prelude showcases the hypocrisy of our society in perceiving women, the pre climax portions of the movie lend a further impetus to it. The dialogues spoken by a cop (Adil Hussain in an effective cameo) reek of the typical mentality with which young free spirited women are looked at. Cigarette peeti ho, Ye kapde kaise pehne hain, itni raat ko beach pe party, open jeep mein ghumti ho.....all these comments make women look like culprits rather than victims. And this takes AIG to another level, much beyond a film about female bonding, a feminist statement or a tribute to women power. It's a film that reveals the innermost feelings/desires of every girl/woman and most of the females will be able to relate with one or the other part of the movie. 

Sandhya Mridul carries off her part of being the corporate honcho with the right amount of confidence and attitude. She looks perfectly poised while in board meeting or during her telephonic conversations, ably displays her vulnerable side when she comes to know about qualities of her girl child and also when she sets out to seek revenge in the climax.

Sarah Jane Dias not only displays a cool demeanor throughout the movie but also proves her caliber as an actress. As Freida, the photographer,  Sarah packs quite a punch in her character. I am sure she is gonna win lot of hearts with her apt performance in AIG.

Anushka Manchanda  literally enlivens the character of Madhureeta in AIG with her brilliant act. With AIG, Anushka has proved that she has a penchant for acting too apart from singing. 

Pavleen Gujral is at her natural best as the Delhi based, housewife,Pammi in AIG. The scene in which she confides to Madhureeta about her loveless marital life speaks volumes about her acting prowess.

Amrit Maghera has portrayed the character of Joanna to the tee in AIG proving her mettle as an actress. Her expressions while having a wet dream, while convincing Lakshmi to forget about revenge and while being teased over her British-Indian accent are so very comprehensive.

Rajshri Deshpande gets to play the most complex character in AIG with several dimensions attached to it  which she has done with effortless ease.

Adil Hussain stands out and makes his presence felt while playing a effective cameo in AIG.

Arjun Mathur shines in his guest appearance as boyfriend of Madhureeta. The concerns of his character about well being of his girlfriend were so genuinely reflected by Arjun that we could walk in his shoes. Subtle yet powerful act.  

As writer-director, Pan Nalin has conceived and crafted the tale eloquently on-screen. He scores all the brownie points for making a flawless movie where every single scene conveys, a very powerful, undercurrent message without being loud about it.   

Angry Indian Goddesses is a must watch movie for every individual who wishes to grow and come out of his/her closet.                  

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Friday, 27 November 2015

Tamasha :: Movie Review

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Tamasha helmed by Imtiaz Ali is a very brilliant picturization of  a mirage-framed farce we play with our lives in our lives till someone comes as an Avatar and makes us feel special about those things which even we feel to identify in ourselves, "The Actual Me". And, in this journey of Tamsha, Imtiaz has been ably supported by his lead starcast i.e. Deepika & Ranbir who have enacted their respective characters to the tee. Tamasha, surprisingly is happening right inside us. We are the thread-holding directors of every emotion we enforce in the name of social race and mannerism. Life becomes fake when we follow traditions without questioning and then discarding them away in the absence of our own logical reach. Modernism suffers miserably when the old is not left as a gold, it directly splits our personality. Tamasha talks about how one leads a mechanized, pretentious life just for the sake of others making his/her inner desires take a back seat. 

Tamasha has been written by Imtiaz Ali, and trust Imtiaz for coming up with something different when he pens down. Imtiaz Ali doesn't adulterate his script with quintessential melodrama and sticks to his chosen line. Tamasha tells the story of Ved (Ranbir Kapoor) who loves to hear stories and has flair towards theater but his father (Javed Sheikh) coaxes him to become an engineer. So, Ved, instead of becoming a theater personality becomes a product manager. During a vacation in Corsica, France, Dev catches up with Tara (Deepika Padukone) who has lost her bag there. They begin flirting with each other by reciting dialogues from old Bollywood movies. They make a pact, not to disclose their real identities to each other. Ved comes across as a guy with cool demeanor to Tara and she begins to like him. After leaving Corsica, Tara realizes that she has fallen in love with Ved. Years later, both of them meet again in Delhi. While Ved proposes to Tara, she dumps him because she is not able to locate the free-spirited guy who met her in Corsica in Ved. Instead, she finds Ved to be a sophisticated, mechanized guy who is not the real him. What happens thereafter, is for you to go and watch at a theater near you. 

Tamasha is taken several notches higher by the spellbinding performances of its lead starcast i.e. Ranbir Kapoor & Deepika Padukone. Ved is not an easy character to portray as he is naively leading a life which he is not happy with but to his credit, Ranbir Kappor has enacted the character to pitch perfection. There are very few, most selective, rare breed of Superstars who are also Super-Actors in complete sense. Ranbir Kapoor is one among such an outstanding in Indian Film Galaxy. He has always proved to be a wisest choice for a director to cast him in desired mold of any given story. 
In most direct sense, Ved could never get scripted unless Ganesha like unquestionable and never-tiring God of Love attends his incarnation. The Ganesh of Love here is been en-skinned by Deepika Padukone. Deepika is one Astral Performer who takes every projection of given role as a Caterpillar and transform herself as one of most Beautiful Birth of Butterfly. The sillage of her presence remains with us as a mature love, wise inner-peek, re-defined relationship and album of newly identified feelings.
Amongst ensemble starcast, noticeable performances have been delivered by Javed Sheikh as Ranbir's father and Ishteyak Khan as Auto driver. 

The soundtrack of the movie has been composed by the maestro, A R Rahman whose melodious numbers have been intelligently woven into the screenplay. The cinematographer of the movie is Ravi Varman who has made Tamasha, a visual treat. His well captured vistas have captured the scenic locales of Corsica, Shimla with aplomb. Ravi Varman's well captured frames are a treat for eyeballs. The movie has been edited by Aarti Bajaj who has kept the run-time of the movie to 151 minutes. They say, a well traveled man is most leveled man. Imtiaz Ali gifts us not only with amazing bank of locations but a story well connected and message well delivered through his films. It becomes a new time to travel while watching his presentation and New Year's Gift while we leave the theater.

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Friday, 13 November 2015

Prem Ratan Dhan Payo :: Movie Review

Prem Ratan Dhan Payo helmed by Sooraj Barjatya carries forward the legacy of Rajshri films "unambiguous & unwavering" commitment of making clean family entertainers imbibed with values, traditions and love for one's family. It would be pertinent to mention here that I've watched 2 back to back movies which deal with the issue of dysfunctional family. The last Hindi movie that I saw and reviewed was Kanu Behl's Titli whose premise also revolved around a dysfunctional family albeit in a ruthless and realistic manner and the plot of PRDP also is centered around a dysfunctional family. Ironically, watching both of these movies is not everyone's cup of tea albeit for different reasons. While Titli couldn't find resonance with family crowds because of its raw & ruthless treatment, PRDP might find it difficult to strike a chord with today's young generation because of its sugar coated treatment and melodrama. But, one major factor that could tilt the crowds in favor of PRDP is its lead actor Salman Khan. It is the star power and charisma of Salman Khan that makes PRDP sail through smoothly despite its predictable and age-old plot-line. Rajshri films is a banner whose name is synonymous with making family sagas. And, Sooraj Barjatya's directorial debut 'Maine Pyar Kiya' featuring Salman Khan as the main lead Prem struck gold at the box office. Sooraj's subsequent films with Salman Khan made him retain his name as Prem and presented him as a well behaved, Agyakaari child. PRDP brings back the formidable duo of Salman & Sooraj back together after a gap of 15 years. In PRDP, though, Salman Khan retains his name as well as good traits but also displays his own trademark style of dancing, comedy which might work hugely in favor of the film. So, in a way Sooraj Barjatya despite of sticking to the cliched storyline has evolved with time as far as characterization of Salman Khan is concerned and has given him the cinematic liberty to perform his jovial antics on-screen. PRDP is undoubtedly the most extravagant film that Sooraj has ever made with larger than life sets, lavish costumes and extravagant art direction, making PRDP visually appealing & huge in its grandeur. Sooraj Barjatya's films have always been about family ties and how families sail through turbulent times together. For the audience who like to watch films laden with values & traditions, PRDP is the perfect movie to watch. It's not that PRDP is a perfect film as it has its share of flaws too. Over-dramatic sequences, too many songs, run-time of 174 minutes are some of the glitches in the movie. But, Salman Khan coupled with belief in family ties imbibed in the storyline overrides these glitches and make PRDP, a clean family entertainer. PRDP comes like a whiff of fresh air amongst today's films that are laden with violence, item numbers or crude(obscene jokes).       

STORY & SCREENPLAY                                           ::            The story as well as screenplay of the movie has been penned down by Sooraj Barjatya where as the dialogues of the movie have been written by Aash Karan Atal. Though, Sooraj has been successful at delivering clean content as far as writing is concerned but PRDP lacks in etching out characters. All of Sooraj's earlier flicks had a collage of family characters be it in form of Babuji, Bua, Mausaji and others which is missing in PRDP. This time he has centered the entire plot around Prem, maybe realizing the present day box office pull of Salman Khan.  Also, the pre climax scenes of the movie are a big let down as the characters of antagonists have not been etched out properly.  The film begins in Ayodhya where we are introduced with Prem Dilwala (Salman Khan) who is a happy-go-lucky guy and performs for Ram Leela shows. He has a bosom pal Kanhaiya (Deepak Dobriyal) who enacts the role of Sita in Ram Leela. Prem is infatuated with Princess Maithili (Sonam Kapoor) who runs a NGO by the name of Uphaar Foundation. Prem donates his earnings to her NGO and desires to meet her. When he comes to know that she is coming to Pritampur, a close by town, for the coronation of her fiancee Prince Vijay Singh (Salman Khan), he decides to travel to Pritampur to meet her. Meanwhile, in Pritampur, Prince Vijay Singh is going through strenuous times as not only his step sisters Chandrika (Swara Bhaskar) and Radhika are having strained relations with him but his younger brother Ajay Singh (Neil Nitin Mukesh) harbors grudges over him. Vijay Singh has two trusted lieutenants in the form of Diwan Sahab (Anupam Kher) and Security chief (DeepRaj Rana). Before coronation ceremony, Ajay Singh along with CEO of their estate (Armaan Kohli) plots an attack to kill Vijay Singh. Timely intervention by Diwan Sahab saves Vijay's life but he is taken to an isolated place for treatment so as to save him from any further attacks. Deepraj Rana meets Prem at a local market and he is made to act as Vijay Singh to bluff his opponents who are after Vijay's life. Prem not only falls in for Princess Maithili but also tries his level best to clear all the misunderstandings between the royal family. Will Prem be able to re-unite the royal family, Will Maithili get married to Vijay Singh or Prem is what forms the rest of the story.

STARCAST                                                                   ::         It's double the delight for Salman Khan fans as they get to see him portray double role in the movie. Salman Khan is truly the heart & soul of this film as you can't imagine any other actor portraying the character of Prem in more effective manner. Though, both the characters that he portrays in the film are quite diverse in term of characteristics but to Salman's credit, he has carried off both the parts with equal ease. It is his portrayal of Prem Dilwala that is bound to win him lots of laurels. As Prem who is funny and emotional, Salman has simply nailed it. Salman Khan has carried off this movie on his shoulders right from the first to last frame. Sonam Kapoor not only looks ravishing as Princess Maithili but has also enacted her part with supreme confidence. She has delivered an earnest performance and carries her part effortlessly. Anupam Kher once again proves his acting prowess with his effective portrayal as Diwan Sahab in PRDP. His character's concerns as well as worries for the Prince were so genuinely reflected on-screen by Anupam Kher. Anupam's frequent banters with Prem lend several plausible moments to the film. Deepak Dobriyal continues with his streak of winning hearts after TWMR. Deepak once again manages to tickle your funny bones with his impeccable comic timing. Deepak's camaraderie with Salman has turned out to be really good in the movie. Neil Nitin Mukesh literally looks like a royal Prince in the movie. He has given his best to portray the character and it's a treat watching him as the Prince in the movie. Swara Bhaskar has portrayed the character of Vijay's estranged sister with utmost conviction. Swara is one actress who always manages to leave a lasting impression with her performance. Armaan Kohli who has appeared on-screen after a long hiatus has stood his ground firmly in PRDP. As the principle antagonist of the movie, Armaan breathes fire unto his character.  Amongst the ensemble starcast, noticeable performances have been delivered by Deepraj Rana, Monoj Joshi and Sanjay Mishra.
TECHNICAL FINESSE                                              ::               The musical soundtrack that has been composed by Himesh Reshammiya is in stark contrast to Himesh's previous soundtracks. Its a typical Sooraj Barjatya kind of soundtrack which will make you reminiscent of 90's, is melodious and has couple of chart-buster tracks in it. Plenty of credit for the tonal correctness of the movie must to go its cinematographer i.e. Manikandan who has done a swell job at capturing visuals. His well captured vistas are soaked in grandeur. Manikandan has ably captured the varied, pulsating emotions of the characters and documented them in well captured frames without distracting from the story or its telling. A special mention of Nitin Chandrakant Desai (Production Designer) and Alvira Khan, Ashley Rebello (Costume Designers) for their effective contribution in their respective fields. The movie has been edited by Sanjay Sankla who has kept the run-time of the movie at 174 minutes. Editing is one department where the movie suffers as the run-time of the movie could have been trimmed. If some melodramatic scenes would have been trimmed and couple of songs done away with, PRDP would have been more engaging. As a director, Sooraj Barjatya scores full brownie points when it comes to delivering a grand film. Right from the lavish sets to the production design, everything is bang-on when it comes to portraying Royalty.  The biggest strength of the film is its simplicity while displaying the conflicts as well as bonding in the family. Kudos to Sooraj for believing and making such a film in 2015. Had he trimmed down some portions of the movie and reduced the run-time, this family drama would have made more impact.

CONCLUSION                                                               ::             Prem Ratan Dhan Payo is a family drama by Rajshri Films for family audiences who like to watch clean movies replete with emotional content. Others, Watch it for Salman Khan.  

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Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Titli :: Movie Review

Titli by Kanu Behl narrates a sordid tale about a dysfunctional family of small time criminals and movie's triumph lies in its meticulous detailing, raw & riveting feel plus well etched out characters that are soaked in reality and have been enacted in the same fashion. Mind you, Titli is not an easy film to watch or digest because the crude violence showcased in the movie stays with you for a long time after you have moved out of theater after watching the movie. None of the characters in the movie are what they seem like, with every character having his own web of lies. And, this is the most striking feature of the movie. 
            The movie exposes us to the underbelly of the Delhi and some nefarious characters who co-exist with you and me, probably in whichever town we reside in. The story & screenplay penned down by Sharat Kataria along with Kanu Behl sucks you in right from the first frame of the movie. This sordid tale about survival, deceits, tolerance and cruelty repels as well as compels you. The beauty of the script is that it doesn't offer everything to you on a platter, it requires you to invest your brains and read between the lines ; Like Bawla's sexual preference (gay leaning) or Titli's change of mind in the climax. 
             Titli (Shashank Arora) is the youngest member of his family which consists of his two brothers namely Vikram (Ranvir Shorey), Bawla (Amit Sial) and father (Lalit Behl). Titli's family is beyond dysfunctional and is a weird and warped family where patriarchism rules. Vikram has taken over as the patriarch of the family shoving his ageing father into background who is confined to dunking his biscuits unto his cup of tea whenever a fight erupts in the family. Titli's mother died when he was four years old and you can read in between the lines that she was at receiving end of her husband's abuse. It's an unspoken family legacy of sorts, much like clearing of throats and lungs, gargling making loud sounds while brushing in the morning. Titli's elder brothers are carjackers who hijack cars on the highway and use Titli to assist them. Titli's brothers are ruthless while conducting their business (carjacking) and use hammer to strike their victims. Titli is fed up from all this and wants to break free. He has a dream to buy a parking place in an upcoming mall for which he needs 3 Lacs. Meanwhile, his brothers think that they need a female accomplice, so they plan to get Titli married. They don't have a female member in the house as Vikram's wife Sangeeta (Sarita Sharma) has left the household and started living separately. So, they marry Titli to Neelu (Shivani Raghuvanshi) to add a female member to their gang. But, Neelu is already in love with a married man Prince (Prashant Singh) who is a builder and when Titli comes to know about it, the manipulative side of him seizes a opportunity in it. He allows her to meet her lover but in exchange charges a fees for it .Whether Titli is able to break free and realize his dream forms the rest of the story. 
                Apart from its novel story, it is the characters and some well captured scenes and situations that remain etched in your memory for a long time. After marriage, when an unaware Neelu becomes a part of carjacking by three brothers, she is so shocked to see Vikram and Bawla's blood soaked faces and clothes after they hit the victim ruthlessly with hammer, that she pisses in her jeans sitting in the car. Than, there is a scene where Titli breaks the hand of Neelu so that his brothers are not able to take her signatures to encash her fixed deposit. Neelu willingly allows him do so as Titli is helping in her secret meetings with her married boyfriend. Titli injects her with local anesthesia so that her hand goes numb before being broken. This scene in a way sums up the movie as you are actually made up to feel the pain, the characters feel. And, it's the sort of pain that is used to numb things out. 
         Also, Kanu Behl has lent an unapologetic tone to the film's female characters which is praiseworthy. Despite being victims, they are not wallowing in victimhood. Neelu who has been forced to marry Titli never allows him to have sex with her. She loves an already married man and announces to Titli (her husband) in an unapologetic tone, "Prince Love hain mere". She makes a business deal to get cosy with her lover right under her Husband's nose. On the other hand there is estranged wife of Vikram, Sangeeta who has started living with another man. She has collected ample proofs of atrocities inflicted upon her by Vikram and files a divorce case asking for alimony. When Titli visits her with his newly wedded wife to ask for a favor, all he gets is choicest of abuses for his family and his father. Sangeeta hits out at his patriarchal family saying how his father manipulated her family by saying all lies to get her married into his household.          
                         What lends a further impetus to the narrative is the realistic portrayal of characters by its well cast actors. Shashank Arora makes a impressive debut in and as Titli. As a crestfallen member of his family with a gloomy face and carrying cold, dry eyes, Shashank makes you feel for his character. Shashank has perfectly billed the character who is fed up from his dysfunctional family and wants to break free. Ranvir Shorey personifies patriarchy at its most complex with his brilliant act. On one side, you see his brutal side with him hitting his victims with hammer getting his clothes and face smeared with blood and on the other side you see his vulnerable side when he breaks down while signing his divorce papers. He displays his angst by using cuss words and cursing his family members for using him. This is unarguably Ranvir Shorey at his best delivering an outstanding performance. Amit Sial stands out as the middle brother who often acts as the mediator between family fights. Amit packs quite a punch as the demure guy with gay leanings. Though, he doesn't speak much but when he speaks, words such as 'Laundiya' & 'Dhandha' form a part of his vocabulary, showing his chilling and scary side. Amit has truly proved his mettle as an actor with his impeccable act in Titli.  Shivani Raghuvanshi manages to impress you with her honest portrayal of Neelu. She has looked damn confident in the movie. Be it as confident girl who argues with the sales person at a car showroom, or as a newly wedded wife who thwarts all attempts of her husband to make love to her, Shivani has stood her ground firmly. Lalit Behl has portrayed the character of ageing father who has surrendered his patriarchy to his eldest son and is now content with watching Television by continuously shuffling channels. He has essayed his character of being manipulative with utmost conviction. It's a treat watching his dance steps at Titli's wedding.  
               Dark, disturbing yet riveting, Titli truly represents the evolving face of Indian Cinema. If you prefer realistic over gloss and substance over style, don't even dare to miss Titli.    

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Friday, 30 October 2015

Main Aur Charles :: Movie Review

Main Aur Charles is a intelligently conceived crime thriller flick by Prawaal Raman and is as hypnotic as the principle character of the movie that has been enacted with panache by Randeep Hooda. Though, the makers claim that that this is a work of fiction with a disclaimer in the beginning but there is no iota of doubt that the movie is based on the famous Charles Sobhraj who is also known as 'The Bikini Killer' or 'The Serpent'. Since the makers didn't have rights from Charles to make a biopic on him, so they have cleverly concocted a tale on the version of Amod Kant, the cop who worked on Sobhraj's Tihar jailbreak case. Hence, the movie is not a biopic on him but is centered around his escape from Tihar jail and how he is caught again. The story follows a non-linear way of narration which requires you to invest your brains whilst watching this movie. Hollywood has made several cult films based on serial killers but on the contrary Bollywood hasn't been able to explore this genre in justifiable manner. Though, several films have been made on serial killers in Bollywood too but very few were able to hit at the right spot. Main Aur Charles is one of those rare Bollywood movies that explores the genre in most justifiable and able way. The movie is not about Charles Sobhraj but about his hypnotic charisma which he encashed to the optimum by manipulating people around him. The movie ably showcases a certain life period of Sobhraj - the half Vietnamese and half Indian con artist, smuggler who racked up a series of convictions for murder and robbery in the 1970's, and who is currently lodged in a prison in Nepal. Such was his hypnotic charm that right from Princesses, law students, Jail staff and even Criminal Psychologists, fell prey to it and very few remained insusceptible. Prawaal Raman has crafted his character in the movie meticulously with lot of detailing and this is something which works in the favor of the movie hugely. And, an uncanny resemblance of Randeep Hooda coupled with his acting prowess has acted as an icing on the cake. 
                                                                                        The story as well as screenplay of the movie has been penned down by Prawaal Raman who has done a swell job at it. It is no mean task, penning a script that holds your attention while its intention is to throw you off the mark. To the credit of strand remains untied. Taut and refreshing, the script of Main Aur Charles keeps you on your toes with its tendency to throw surprises at several junctures. Moreover, I feel when a director helms a film written by him, his vision gets crafted on celluloid in the most justifiable way. The film begins with a non-linear pattern of narrative by showing Charles (Randeep Hooda) escaping from Thailand after a dead tourist is spotted at a beach wearing a bikini. After that, the film moves on to Charles's infamous jail break from Delhi in 1986. Charles escapes from the prison with three other convicts. The case is handed over to Amod Kant (Adil Hussain) who begins investigations into the case by visiting the jail and suspending the Jail warden (Vipin Sharma). Amod Kant detains Meera (Richa Chaddha) who is a law student on the suspicion of aiding Charles in his escape from prison. Charles moves to Mumbai from Delhi and a Mumbai cop Sudhakar Zhende (Nandu Madhav) who had arrested him in the past is directed to track him down. Soon, Charles moves to Goa after committing a con in Mumbai and Sudhakar follows his trail. One day, an unknown caller calls Sudhakar informing him about Charles's presence at a party. Sudhakar goes to the party and arrests Charles. Amod Kant flies to Mumbai and after taking custody of Charles, brings him back to Delhi. Won't like to spill the rest of the story as what transpires next is a mix of shocking revelations. 

                                                                                     Succinct to say, all the actors have been cast perfectly as per their characters in the movie and they have portrayed their respective characters with utmost conviction. Leading from the front is......Randeep Hooda. Randeep is a powerhouse of talent who has been underestimated & underutilized by our film Industry. But, Main Aur Charles gave him an opportunity to play a complex character and Oh Boy! he has ably carried the movie on his broad shoulders. Pertinent to say, Randeep is the soul of this movie. Randeep Hooda along with the technical brilliance of the movie hold the key to the film's efficacy. To his credit, we are not able to locate Randeep Hooda in the movie but only Charles. And, this is the best compliment an actor can get for his performance in the movie. His hard work towards portraying this it in form of dialect, body language can easily be gauged from his on-screen performance. Same holds true for Adil Hussain who has essayed the character of Amod Kant with effortless ease. Adil has truly delivered a subtle, mature performance which speaks volumes about his acting finesse. Whether be as the tough cop relentlessly chasing Charles or as the husband who is miffed at his wife over her questioning about Sobhraj's charming exuberance, Adil nails it to perfection. Despite being on hot trail of Charles, Adil displays a cool demeanour which is hallmark of a fine actor. Richa Chaddha has ably portrayed the character of Meera, a law student who is lovelorn about Charles upto the extent of being stupid. She has literally lived her part as you can feel for her when she keeps on saying 'Mera Charles' despite knowing that he is a convicted crook. Tisca Chopra shines as Amod Kant's wife. Tisca is one fine actress who always manages to leave a impression with her effective performance. Nandu Madhav is apt as Sudhakar Zhende. Vipin Sharma is another good actor who has proven his versatility by playing diverse roles. In this movie, he provides some comic relief by playing a jail warden who is in awe of Charles. He addresses Charles as Charles Sir & tells Charles's female friends to feel at home while they are partying in his jail office. Not to forget, Shaanti who plays the part of a  princess and becomes a victim of Con-game played by Charles. Shaanti looks every inch the charming princess that she's supposed to portray on-screen. 

                                                                            The musical soundtrack as well as the background score of the movie that has been composed by Aditya Trivedi not only gels wells with the narrative but also provides a further thrust to on-screen proceedings. The cinematographer of the movie is Anuj Rakesh Dhawan who has done a swell job at capturing visuals. Trippy Goa's party culture, even in the rundown bits, lends a wonderful edge to Anuj's visual commentary. Long shots, wide camera angles and apt usage of color palettes as per the requirement of the shots by Anuj is praiseworthy. A special mention of Salim Asgar Ali, Josie Paris (Costume Designers) and Jeetendra Kawa (Production Designer) for their effective contributions in their respective fields. The movie has been edited by Nipun Gupta who has kept the run-time to 123 minutes. Nipun has done great job at the editing table as he manages to hold your interest despite the non-linear pattern of narrative. As a director, Prawaal Raman, with the skills of a master storyteller, amalgamates a mysterious charming person's story in a thriller format. With his adroit direction, Raman not only springs many surprises but also concentrates on fine detailing. There are no exaggerated dramatic flourishes here, no playing to the galleries. Unlike other biopics or period films which have conveniently and lazily restored to antiques, artifacts and vintage songs, Main Aur Charles simply and effortlessly emerges from the character and his persona. 

Main Aur Charles is a 123 minutes epical noir with its unescapable gritty tone. It's a well made thriller and if you have penchant for slowly cooked up crime thrillers moving at a languid pace, this one is cut out for you.     
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Saturday, 24 October 2015

Shareek :: Movie Review

Shareek helmed by Navaniat Singh rakes up the age old but pertinent issue of family feuds owing to land disputes albeit in able, entertaining and thought provoking manner. There's no denying the fact that several sons have lost their fathers and several mothers have lost their sons because of land disputes in hinterland of Punjab. Possession of land to plough has been a bone of contention between extended families leading to rivalries between them. These rivalries get passed on from generation to generation with court cases pending in the court related to land disputes. Several members of these families opt to take law unto their hands and don't shy away from killing members of their extended families for the sake of land. This very scenario has been ably captured by Navaniat Singh and his team on the celluloid. It's not that this subject is new to Punjabi celluloid. In fact, this issue used to be the favorite subject of Punjabi film makers, a couple of decades ago. But, what sets Shareek apart from films of its ilk is its treatment and the way it sticks to its chosen path without any deviations. When you walk-in to the theater to watch a Punjabi movie made on this subject, you expect lot of blood savagery coupled with choicest of abuses, gory violence, heavy duty melodrama. But thankfully, Shareek sails smoothly avoiding cinematic cliches. It's not that these elements are not there in Shareek, they are, but in measured and restrained quantity. The movie definitely makes you ponder with respect to sibling rivalry which has made brothers kill their own brothers for the sake of land. Well written detailed script, powerhouse performances and eloquent direction make Shareek a must watch movie for Punjabi cine lovers. 
                                                                  The story as well screenplay of the movie has been penned down by Dheeraj Rattan who has done a swell job at it. He has ably etched out a collage of characters, each having his/her own distinguished traits and it is through these characters that Shareek offers its most plausible moments. Dheeraj has ably painted the grim side of Punjabiyat where brothers are fighting and killing each other just for the sake of land. He has not only explored the depths of this issue but also has highlighted the need for its eradication. The story revolves around rivalry between members of a clan over a piece of land. While one family comprises of two brothers namely Guggu Gill & Jimmy Sheirgill, the other family is represented by Mukul Dev, Kuljinder Sidhu and their other two brothers. Rivalry becomes more fierce when Mahie Gill enters the scene as Kuljinder Sidhu proposes Mahie for marriage and she accepts. But later, she falls in love with Jimmy Sheirgill and decides to tie nuptial knot with him. So, the rivalry which was restricted to land now involves a woman also. One fine day, while diverting water to their fields Kuljinder & Mukul kill father of opposite clan. In retaliation, Jimmy Sheirgill beats Kuljinder Sidhu to death. To prevent situation from getting worse, Guggu Gill sends Jimmy along with one of his sons to England. After 10 years, Guggu Gill's other son gets married. They also win the case filed in the court pertaining to land. Mukul Dev is not able to digest the happy fortunes of his Shareek's family & gets Guggu's son killed in a road accident. After hearing this tragic news, Jimmy returns back to his village from England. I won't like to spill the rest of the beans as what happens thereafter is for you to go and watch at a theater near you. 
                                                                                       Major impetus to Shareek has been provided by its talented and well cast actors who have portrayed their respective characters to the hilt. Leading from the front is Jimmy Sheirgill as Jassa who has ably carried the movie on his shoulders. It was not an easy character to portray as Shareek illustrates Jassa's journey from being an exuberant youth to matured wise person. To portray this journey, an actor needed to display gamut of emotions which Jimmy has done with remarkable ease. Jimmy literally enlivens his character on celluloid which speaks volumes about his acting skills. Be it as doting brother, affectionate uncle, jilted lover or a brooding person, Jimmy has hit the right notes every time. Jimmy has enacted the movie's principle character with panache and delivered an exemplary performance. Matching Jimmy step by step is Mukul Dev. With his brilliant performance in Shareek, Mukul Dev has shown us the actor he can be. I've always held Mukul in high esteem as an actor & knew he would nail it if given an well etched out character to portray. And, Shareek gave him that opportunity which Mukul didn't let slip away from his hands. As the Shakuni minded antagonist, Mukul lends a certain aura to his character. He has ably emoted myriad number of emotions in Shareek proving his versatility as an actor. His frequent banters with Jimmy lend several plausible moments to the film. Kuljinder Singh Sidhu who proved his mettle as an actor in 'Yoddha' is back with a bang in Shareek. He has ably essayed the character of 'Pali' who is the most short-tempered member of his clan. With his apt face expressions and body language, Kuljinder breathes fire into his character proving his prowess as an actor. Though, Kuljinder's character is restricted to the first half of movie, yet he manages to leave a lasting impression. Mahie Gill not only looks ravishing but has also portrayed her character in the most effective manner. Guggu Gill has given an apt performance as elder brother of Jimmy. Simar Gill & Oshin Sai have played their respective characters with conviction. 

                                                                                 Another highlight of Shareek is its melodious music composed by Jaidev Kumar. The songs come at the opportune moments during the on screen proceedings, hence never hampering the narrative. 'Dil Kafira' and 'Mere Saiyan' stand out amongst others in the soundtrack. The cinematographer of the movie is Harmeet Singh who has done an excellent job of capturing the visuals with roving eye of his lens. His cinematography is plush,passionate, heightens the kitsch of the settings with warm-hued interiors as well as captures the outdoor locales of London with aplomb. The movie has been edited by Manish More who has kept the run-time of the movie to 141 minutes. Manish has done a descent job by maintaining the tempo of the movie at a constant pace throughout its run-time. As a director, Navaniat Singh has hit the right chords with Shareek. With his deft & adroit direction, Navaniat etches out and develops the characters in such a way that audience are able to relate to them. Navaniat has done a swell job of portraying the screenplay unto on-screen and in the process has also extracted the best out of his cast and crew. 

Shareek stands tall amongst mindless entertainers being churned every other week in Pollywood and is a descent watch for thought provoking message ably infused in the film.    

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Friday, 23 October 2015

Shaandaar :: Movie Review

Shaandaar which was supposed to be the most grandeur work of director Vikas Bahl has turned out to be his most tepid work till date and is quite Un(Shaandaar) in stark contrast to its title. I felt so restless while watching this movie that i felt i needed some fresh air. Trust me, I have watched worse, really and even survived the ordeal of watching them. I survived Katti Batti, Welcome Back, even Mr. X in 3D. But this one beats all of them to a frigging punch. 20 minutes into the movie and I was like...WTF (Pardon my language). 1 hour into the movie and I could watch several members from audience making their way out of the audi of the multiplex. Thankfully, interval flashes on screen and the reviewer in me cajoles me to remain seated with the hope that things might improve in the second half. Post interval, I am still fiddling with my smartphone checking out & replying to my WhatsApp messages. Simultaneously, I am scratching my head thinking as to how, why and for whom this movie got made.....perhaps, only the makers could answer my queries. Reason being, I went in to watch this movie with huge expectations. And, why not, when you have experienced, established production houses like Dharma Productions & Phantom backing this project, a talented, versatile director Vikas Bahl helming this flick and some really good actors like Shahid Kapoor, Alia Bhatt, Pankaj Kapoor featuring in the movie. But, what you get to see on-screen is a supposedly fairy tale with lot of animation thrown in getting killed by cinematic cliches and all its jokes falling flat. Anyone who has seen Vikas Bahl's Queen would have expected Shaandaar to be a delightful movie, given that he was provided with bigger glossy canvas to play with courtesy Dharma Productions but no one would have even thought that Vikas will make such a mess of it with such a drastic drop in storytelling and directorial skills.
                                               The story has been written by Vikas Bahl and Chaitally Parmar and the dialogues have been penned down by Anvita Dutt (all of whom were part of writing Queen). Shaandaar is one of the most mind-numbing stories, sorry, did I say stories ? Damn, that will be misleading. Because there is neither any story nor any screenplay. There are only banal sequences, funny, only to the writer/director. The supposedly fairy-tale has two nocturnal s i.e. two creatures (let me have the liberty to call them creatures) who can't sleep at night in the form of Alia (Alia Bhatt) & Jagjinder Joginder (Shahid Kapoor) who meet and eventually find solace in each other's company. The story features two families i.e. Aroras and Fundwanis who are bankrupt and decide to get their kids married to save their sinking ships , oblivious about the financial condition of each other. But, the kind of designer costumes, stretch limos, expensive jewellery and the lavish destination wedding they organize makes you ponder that if this is the lifestyle that bankrupts live with, let me be a bankrupt soon. To add to your woes, there are several other caricatures apart from the 2 insomniacs in the form of characters. There is a gold loving Sindhi who is always boasting about his connections, his younger brother who has precisely eight and a half pack abs and is the groom There is a maha Khadoos granny for whom marriages are simply business deals and her goatee bearing son who has adopted a girl child who is insomniac. He also has a biological daughter who is a real fatso having no qualms about it and is the bride. There is no coherent storyline in the movie and it looks as if several scenes have been stitched together to make and present this film to the audience. Save me from the ordeal of jotting down the plot of this film for you. 
                                                     The only saving grace of this movie is the performances by its actors. Shahid Kapoor has effortlessly portrayed the character of Jagjinder Joginder who is an insomniac but an able wedding planner & organizer. He not only looks handsome but tries his level best to keep you entertained with his acting mettle and dancing skills. Alia Bhatt has really evolved as an actress and her performance in Shaandaar is a prima facie example of this. She truly lives her part in the movie proving her prowess as an actress. She has enacted her part with utmost sincerity and confidence. There is no denying the fact that Pankaj Kapoor is one of the finest, versatile actors that we have today and he proves it in Shaandaar with his impeccable performance. Though, his character has been shoddily written but he still breathes life unto his character with his own signature style of acting. His frequent banters with Shahid Kapoor (his real life son) lend some plausible moments to the film. The film also marks the debut of third Kapoor i.e. Sanah Kapoor ( Pankaj's daughter & Shahid's sister in real life). Sanah has effectively portrayed the character of a obese bride whose weight makes her the butt of many people's jokes. Sanjay Kapoor has essayed the caricaturish character of a typical Sindhi who is always boasting about his connections with aplomb. 
                                                As a director, Vikas Bahl has proven his forte in the past by directing two diverse flicks i.e.Chillar Party & Queen. While the first was a children's movie, the second was centered around a female protagonist who wants to break free and explore herself. Both of Vikas Bahl's previous flicks belonged to different genres. So probably, he wanted to break fresh ground with his third outing but has completely failed this time. Weak storyline (or simply lack of storyline) coupled with sloppy editing has let him down badly. On a lighter note, I was wondering how will Vikas Bahl respond post the debacle of Shaandaar. At the very moment, I remembered a dialogue from the movie in which Alia Bhatt says to Pankaj Kapoor, "How Cool ! Main aapki naajayaz aulaad hoon". It immediately brought a smile to my lips and made me think whether Ajay Bahl will say, "Shaandaar, Meri naajayaz film hai". (It has been Ghost directed by someone else). The finesse and the potential of a director that Ajay showcased in his previous two flicks is totally missing from this film. 
                                                                          Shaandaar is a movie that can be skipped without any regrets, instead take your family for an outing this weekend. Trust me that will be a breeze in front of this nonsense that spools out mercilessly for 145 minutes.
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