Thursday, 26 March 2015

HUNTERRR :: Movie Review

Hunterrr is a quirky adult comedy that takes us through the journey of sexual escapades (spanning a timeline of 25 years) of Mandar Ponkshe portrayed brilliantly on-screen by Gulshan Devaiah through his acting prowess. In the last decade or so, Bollywood has been churning out adult sex comedies like Kya Cool hain hum & Masti which were lapped up by the masses so much so that the makers even made sequels of these movies. Though, Hunterrr also belongs to the same genre but this movie is a different ball game altogether. Where as movies like Masti & its ilk relied on obnoxiously named characters, below the belt jokes & forced gags for the laughter content, Hunterrr is devoid of all these elements. In Hunterrr, the humor quotient flows along with the narrative through its well etched characters who mouth some real quirky dialogues. It is in stark contrast to other mindless adult comedies that we have been subjected to watch in the past viz a viz its crafting and storytelling. Harshavardhan Kulkarni (writer & director) has tried to keep things as close to reality as possible without adding any dash of gloss or glamor in the movie which works hugely in its favor. He has assembled talented but not so popular ensemble starcast due to which he has been able to portray realistic looking Indian middle class milieu on-screen which lends an authentic touch to the movie. Coming back to Mandar or Vaasu, the reason why he calls himself  Vaasu is because he is an expert in sniffing out the sexual needs of women. He is so obsessed with sex and trying his Vaasugiri with various women that he doesn't believe in love or getting married. When his friends coax him to get married and leave Vaasugiri, he justifies his acts by saying that having sex is a biological need. He tries to prove his point by saying that sex is also as big a necessity as going to the loo every morning for defecating.  In fact, the evolution of Mandar Ponkshe into Vaasu (that is how he likes to call himself ) in the first half is a treat to watch but alias ! the second half fizzles out and fails to keep up the pace with the brilliance of first half. The scenes depicting Mandar's childhood where he goes to his native village along with his cousin Dilip & learns some tricks of the trade from his elder cousin, Surya are fun to watch. Surya is a carefree bird who never goes to urinals for peeing but likes to water down dry plants. It is charming to see young Mandar (Vedant Muchandi) dispense advice to his classmates on how to impress girls by saying that always go for the second best girl as uske patne ke chance jyada hote hain while he himself gets perplexed after a girl cross questions him after he proposes to her. But soon he develops the skills, becomes Vaasu who is an expert at sniffing out sexual needs of women and becomes the Hunterrr. It is only when Trupti (Radhika Apte) enters his life that cupid strikes him and he begins to think of tying nuptial knot with her leaving his Vaasugiri behind. I would also like to add here that his high libido and desperation not only provide him with various sexual encounters but also often land him in troublesome situations. To mention a few ; twelve year old Mandar has half his head tonsured when cops catch him watching a porn movie at a local video parlor, he is thrown out of college hostel when he sneaks in his girlfriend (Veera Saxena) in his hostel room, he is beaten and chased by group of young guys when he tries to hit out at one of their girl friend at a bar. It is exasperating to watch Hunterrr fizzle away in the second half because of some contrived storytelling and some sloppy editing especially when the film seems like a breath of fresh air in the first half.

STORY & SCREENPLAY    ( Spoilers Ahead )                                                       ::            The story of the movie has been penned down by Harshavardhan Kulkarni who is also the director of this movie. Kudos to him for penning down a storyline which is an adult comedy but not at all a sex comedy laden with all the sleazy elements. He has ably kept the storyline devoid of vulgarity and concentrated more on the sexual journey of the movie's protagonist. He has kept the narrative simple and so close to realism that some part of audience might be able to relate the journey of Mandar with theirs' or any of their friends'.  This is where his writing scores big time as you can make an instant connect with on-screen proceedings. He has ably showcased that apart from being a sex addict, Mandar has an emotional side too. His close bonding with his cousins and the way he weeps uncontrollably after the sudden demise of his cousin, Surya, shows his softer side. While Harshavardhan is able to catch hold of your attention in the first half with the character development of Mandar, his hold on the script falters in the second half. Frequent oscillations in the narrative and elongated second half spoils most of the charm that has been ably built in the first half making it an average flick, out of what could have been a brilliant path breaking adult comedy. But, Harshavardhan Kulkarni & Vijay Maurya deserve a big applause for penning down some real quirky dialogues which have added to the fun quotient of the movie. The movie begins with a telecon between Mandar Ponkshe  (Gulshan Devaiah) and his fiancee Trupti (Radhika Apte). After that the narrative begins to oscillate frequently to show the journey of Mandar turning into Vaasu. Hereafter, the narrative gets carried forward with a series of flashbacks merging into present making it a constant feature till the movie ends. Young Mandar (Vedant Muchandi) goes to his native village along with his cousin, Dilip (Kshitij Kothari) where they catch up with their elder cousin, Surya (Viraj Deshmukh) who is the smartest of all & teaches them tricks of Vaasugiri. Soon, Mandar develops confidence and goes across to propose a girl and befriends her. Hereafter, there is no looking back for Mandar who becomes a champion at Vaasugiri i.e. smelling the needs of a woman and his sex-escapades begin. While studying in college, Mandar befriends Parul (Veera Saxena) & soon she is found hidden in his hostel room getting him expelled from his hostel. He takes a room on rent so that Parul can visit him frequently out there. Now that he has become a hunter, he hunts down another married female Jyotsna (Sai Tamhankar) who lives across his building. Soon, they both start frequenting each others' houses for obvious reasons. He also hunts down another lady for his sexual desires whose name is stored in Mandar's mobile by the name of Savita Bhabhi. After he is chased by a group of boys in a pub calling him uncle & pressure put up by his cousin, Dilip (Sagar Deshmukh), Mandar decides to meet up with  prospective girls for tying up nuptial knot. After meeting couple of them, he meets Trupti (Radhika Apte) and falls in love with her. Now, the irony is that Trupti is a free spirited girl who openly brags about her past affairs & broken engagement in front of Mandar where as Mandar is afraid to disclose his past Vaasugiri to her & pretends to be doodh ka dhula in front of her. After a couple of meetings both of them get engaged. Since Mandar has truly fallen in love with Trupti, his subconscious keeps on haunting him about hiding his past from her. One fine day, dead drunk Mandar decides to go and confess about his colorful past to Trupti. Will Trupti accept him after hearing about his past Vaasugiri, Will Mandar be able to mend his ways and marry Trupti is what forms the rest of the movie.           

STARCAST                                                                                    ::             One of the main highlights of the movie is apt & natural performances by its starcast for which due credit must be given to its casting director. Gulshan Devaiah is one of the most versatile actors who has already proven his acting finesse by playing diverse characters in movies like Shaitan, Dum Maro Dum, Hate Story & Ram Leela. In Hunterrr, he got the chance to play the main protagonist and boy ! with the kind of performance he has delivered, it won't be wrong to say that he is the soul of this movie. He has carried the whole movie on his broad shoulders and the best part is that he makes you feel for the character of Mandar despite him being a skirt chaser. He is one brilliant actor who has displayed myriad number of emotions in this movie. You get to see him in various avatars in this movie ; sensual Mandar making love to Jyotsna, Flirtatious & naughty Mandar chasing Parul, sentimental Mandar crying like a child on death of his cousin & innocent looking Mandar who after falling in love with Trupti wants to go and reveal all the truth about his past and he has emoted with equal amount of finesse in all these avatars. It is definitely his best performance till date. Radhika Apte who recently garnered lot of appreciation with respect to her extended cameo in Badlapur is back with a bang in Hunterrr. She has portrayed the character of Trupti in the most natural and realistic way. She looks every inch the free spirited girl who has no qualms about disclosing her past affairs to the guy she is meeting with prospect of getting married. Watch out for her in the scene where she urges Mandar to go & strike a conversation with an unknown girl buying lingerie in street market. Her timing and acting abilities are effortless and she deserves to be seen more frequently on big screen. Another top notch performance has been delivered by Sagar Deshmukh who plays Dilip, cousin cum confidante of Mandar. His performance is as realistic and natural as it can be and it doesn't seem as if the guy is acting. Watch out for him in the scene where he accompanies Mandar to Trupti's house in an auto rickshaw but not without carrying Chicken wings in his hand. Sai Tamhankar has given an earnest & sizzling performance as Jyotsna and her love making scene with Gulshan has come out real sensuous. Veera Saxena, who makes her debut with Hunterrr has given a descent performance as Parul. Vedant Muchandi as young Mandar, Kshitij as young Dilip have delivered excellent performances. Amongst ensemble starcast noticeable performances have been portrayed by Vaibhav Tatwawdi, Neena Kulkarni, Ravindra Mankani, Suraj Jagan, Abhijit Wagh & Nitesh Pandey.

TECHNICAL FINESSE                                                                 ::             The musical soundtrack of the movie has been composed by Khamosh Shah who is a protege of music maestro A.R.Rahman. Most of the tracks that he has composed are situational which gel well with the flow of narrative and none of the songs seems to have been injected into the screenplay just for the heck of it. The music is melodious and pleasing to ears. Two songs namely Hunterrr 303 sung by Bappi Lahiri & Dil Lagaana by Altaf Raja stand out and are more catchy. The background music of the movie that has been composed by Hitesh Sonic is apt enough and syncs well with the on-screen proceedings. The cinematography of the movie that has been handled by John Jacob Payyapalli leaves a lot to be desired. Agreed that the movie has been shot in most realistic way and is devoid of gloss but the lighting and color palettes at several junctures of the movie seem inadequate. The movie has been edited by Kirti Nakhwa who has packaged the whole action in runtime of 141 minutes. There are two flaws in the editing ; first is the duration of the movie which should have been more crisper especially in the second half and secondly, the frequent oscillations in the narrative make audience loose their interest in the on screen proceedings after a certain time-span.Had the editing been more crisp, it would have done a huge favor to the prospects of the movie. A special mention of Taaneevaa Oak (Costume designer) & Sandeep Shelar (Production designer) who with their brilliant work have been able to recreate a typical Maharashtrian milieu in the movie. As a debutant director, Harshavardhan Kulkarni scores brownie points for taking up a subject that openly talks about sex rather than opting for a typical commercial potboiler script while helming his first movie. To make a good film on this subject, a director needs to craft the movie with lot of sensitivity & maturity which he has ably succeeded in. As a writer & director, he assembled talented starcast and etched out their characters to perfection who have portrayed their respective parts in the most realistic way. Unfortunately, he is let down by the stretched second half where the movie begins to falter. As a director, Kulkarni has proved that he has the crafting abilities and is here to stay.

CONCLUSION                                                                                   ::              HUNTERRR is well & honestly conceived adult comedy which doesn't offend you with its content despite sex featuring as a recurring theme throughout the movie. The movie strikes a fine balance between naughtiness and vulgarity by not offering anything sleazy. If naughty journey to adulthood portrayed in a realistic & quirky manner fancies you, you might relish this movie. I am giving it 3 stars out of 5.    

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Friday, 13 March 2015

NH10 :: Movie Review

NH10 is a neo noir genre flick that takes you on edge of the seat excitement, no holds barred cinematic journey comprising of grit, action, thrills and intrigue. The movie has been directed by Navdeep Singh whose debut movie Manorama six feet under (2007) is not only one of my favorites but is a cult flick in thriller genre and I am amazed what took him so long in coming out with his second movie. Coming to NH10, the landscape is ruthless, rugged and riveting. The emotions are primeval. Caveman tactics, with characters caught out of their hideouts kicking, dragging and screaming, are the prevalent mode of vindication. It's a tough world. And, obviously a very tough film to make. There is no state for the squeamish. And, perhaps that is the reason behind the movie's release getting delayed by a week with Censor Board objecting to usage of some cuss words and excessive violence in the movie. Herein, I would like to say that Kudos to Anushka Sharma for believing in this flick so much so that she decided to don the producer's hat for the first time by producing this film. The best part about NH10 is that Navdeep Singh has helmed it in the most realistic way. As the film progresses, it touches various social aspects prevalent in the society ; female foeticide, honour killings and the big cultural gap that is prevalent between urban & rural class especially when it comes to inter caste marriages. It also sheds light on how law and order under democracy goes for a toss when you move out from big concrete jungles out in the hinterland. Writer of the movie Sudip Sharma has ensured that the sarcastic remarks about deteriorating law & order are mouthed by cops only in the movie. When Anushka n Neil go to cops after she is harassed by some stalkers, the cop says, " Gurgaon to badhta bacha hai ji, kood to lagaega hi". In another scene where Anushka is driving with a cop in his jeep in the rural area, he says, " Madam Ji, Ye democracy to Gurgaon ke malls ke saath hi khatam ho jaati hai. Yahaan to Paani aur bijlee nahin pahunchti, democracy kahaan pahunchegi". It is hard hitting n realistically portrayed dialogues like these that add a further impetus to the narrative. Also, in a way the movie talks about women empowerment. How Anushka rubs off a filthy word scribbled down on a wall in a loo, how she gazes in the opponents eyes despite being told to look down. But, the best is saved for the last. In the climax, how Anushka lights up n smokes a cigarette before battering Darshan with an iron rod is a scene to watch out for. NH10 is a chilling, nerve wracking, edge of the seat thriller which gives you no time to breathe because of its racy narrative.             

STORY & SCREENPLAY  ( Spoilers Ahead )                                             ::               The story, screenplay as well as dialogues of the movie have been penned down by Sudip Sharma. As a writer, Sudip knows the rugged North Indian hinterland of blood savagery and abuses which he has penned down with finesse. He transports us out from the civilized society where we live in and takes us to rugged hinterland where lawlessness, casteism still rule the land and mindless belief in patriarchy leads to honor killings. His edgy, taut n racy script amalgamated with social issues is a winner all the way. No wonders, after hearing this script Anushka decided to produce this film. The movie begins with a corporate working couple, Meera (Anushka Sharma) & Arjun (Neil Bhoopalam) going to a party in Gurgaon. During the party Meera gets a call from her office and decides to leave for her office alone late night. On the way to office she is stalked by some lecherous guys leaving her traumatized. Arjun also gets disturbed to see her in this state and moreover, a sense of guilt is prevailing over him for not accompanying her during that fateful night. So, in order to relieve her from this stress he plans a getaway by booking a cottage on the outskirts of city and celebrate her birthday there. Soon, they hit the road i.e. NH10 happy and romancing which is short lived. En-route to the cottage, they decide to make a stopover at a Dhaba where a hapless young girl approaches Anushka with a plea to help her else she will be killed. However, Anushka ignores her and proceeds to the loo for a smoke. When she comes back to have food with Arjun, six men packed in SUV embark on the dhaba and start beating up that girl and a boy mercilessly. Arjun stands up and walks upto the man Satbir (Darshan Kumaar) who is beating up the couple and inquires about the matter. Satbir replies that she is his sister and it is their family matter. After beating them up mercilessly, they bundle them up in their SUV and are about to leave when Arjun again approaches them. This time, Satbir punches Arjun hard in his face and tells him to mind his own business before zipping away in his vehicle. Soon, Arjun n Meera also resume their journey with Arjun feeling frustrated for not being able to help the couple. After covering a short distance, Arjun finds Satbir's empty vehicle parked aside on a deserted road. Despite Meera's warning, he alights from the vehicle to lookout for them and soon Meera follows him. Hereafter, both of them witness the barbaric activities of Satbir and his accomplices who finally kill the couple for the sake of honor killing. Since Meera n Arjun have witnessed the killing, Satbir n his accomplices go after them. Now, begins a cat and mouse chase game and a melee ensues. Arjun gets critically injured and it is left for Meera to get them out of this difficult situation. Will they be able to come out of this situation safely, Will they be able to nail down Satbir & his accomplices is what forms the rest of the story.

STARCAST                                                                                         ::  The actors, in keeping with the no holds barred raw ambiance that the film exudes, take recourse to express the minutest of emotions. Due credit for this must be given to Jogi who is the casting director of this movie for choosing the apt starcast. Anushka Sharma, who made her debut with Rab ne bana di jodi (2008) has featured as leading lady in just eight movies in past seven years but has evolved as an actress with every release of hers. In NH10, it is Anushka who has stolen the show with her pure, deliberate, ferocious star power. The striking thing about her performance as Meera is how tightly coiled and tense it seems ; she's ready at a moment's notice to kiss or kill (or both), never passive, never merely a photographic subject. Troubled and brooding, angry and helpless, frustrated yet committed - she plays it all with uncharacteristic maturity. You can literally feel the pain n agony that her character undergoes in the movie through her effective portrayal. Anushka, who's very close - if she isn't there already - to becoming the star amongst stars in her generation. Her every gesture is fascinating. Neil Bhoopalam got a great opportunity to play the main lead in this movie and Oh Boy ! he has caught this opportunity with both his hands by giving an earnest performance. Neil fits into the narrative with minimal fuss, neither dominating the proceedings, nor getting overwhelmed by the weight of the script. But, the icing on the cake is the performance of Darshan Kumaar. In NH10Darshan gets to play a character which is in stark contrast to his portrayal of Onler Kom (a loving, caring husband and a doting father) in Mary Kom. If he excelled in Mary Kom by bringing just the right amount of sensitivity to his part, here he excels by doing exactly the opposite i.e. by bringing the right amount of goriness and brutality to his part. His expressions, body language and especially dialect are a treat for audience and these are hallmarks of a fine actor. Deepti Naval leaves a mark during her brief appearance as Ammaji who is not only the Sarpanch of a village but also mother of Satbir. Another actor who deserves a mention is Ravi Jhankal. He has portrayed the character of Satbir's savage uncle with utmost conviction who is always advising him to be more ruthless. He taunts Satbir for killing the boy with bullets whereas he deserved to be butchered with rod.

TECHNICAL FINESSE                                                                     ::          The soundtrack of the movie that has been composed by a battery of composers including Bann ChakrabortySamira Koppikar, Ayush Shrestha, Savera Mehta, Sanjeev-Darshan is radically different yet engaging. Chhil gaye naina sung by Kanika Kapoor & Le Chal Mujhe are the tracks which stay with you for a long time. Karan Gour's background music underscores every scene without hammering in the situations and is not that loud and jarring. Plenty of credit for the tonal correctness of the narrative must go to Arvind Kannabiran's brilliantly unadorned cinematography, which locks in on the stunning visuals of violence and action without falling into the mistake of making the frames look prettier than the grim situation that they are meant to capture. Arvind's cinematography uses cluttered garish spaces to create a sense of spiritual emptiness during times of tremendous stress and anxiety. A special mention of action directors Armin Sauer & Abdul Salaam Ansari for orchestrating the apt action sequences in the movie. Editor Jabeen Merchant imbues a raw style mood to the footage. But the sense of cinematic expansiveness is retained in the way the camera moves through the characters' restless lives, searching for positions of comfort in a situation laden with desperate anxiety. Jabeen has neatly packaged the action in runtime of 115 minutes with crisp n taut editing. The direction by Navdeep Singh is unblemished in every aspect of filmmaking & he deserves full marks for making a film with very strong sensory perceptions. We have seen some road trip gone awry thrillers earlier too but none could come close to the brilliance of Navdeep's subject, vision and treatment with which he has created this film. Kudos to Navdeep, as a director he has managed to keep a tight rein on the proceedings all the way upto a nail biting climax. He has also ensured that the movie does not look unconvincing or goes over the top at any place and maintains a tight grip.  

CONCLUSION                                                                                           ::       NH10 portrays a rare synthesis of real life credibility and cinematic flamboyance where-in narrative's over all mood is one of urgent crises point reached with optimum energy. It is one of the best thrillers I have seen in a long time which has come out good minus those jarring BGM & raunchy item numbers. I am giving it 4 stars out of 5.    

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Thursday, 12 March 2015

A must watch debate where Arnab meticulously rips apart and exposes the chunks in the armory n ideology of AAP

A must watch debate where Arnab meticulously rips apart and exposes the chunks in the armory n ideology of AAP making Ashutosh go jittery. Ashutosh gets so baffled that deviating from the topic,he starts questioning the credibility of Arnab and is given a befitting reply by him. AAP, a party prone to leveling allegations on its opponents every other day has become the laughing stock when they are asking others to authenticate when they facing the heat. Watch how Ashutosh gets hyper, counters Arnab on not running Bank scam tapes and his lies are exposed right there by Arnab asking him to apologize. One of the panelists clearly says that AAP has been caught with its pants down and within one year of its formation, this party has taken a u-turn on all its ideologies with intra party bickering, removing couple of its main founder members from its core committee and now finally found indulging in horse trading. Way to go, AAP.