Friday, 26 June 2015

SardaarJi :: Movie Review


Sardaarji helmed by Rohit Jugraj is a fun filled fantasy film that takes you on a joyride and further cements the fact that Punjabi Cinema is evolving and growing in stature with due course of time. Back in 2014, while most of Punjabi filmmakers were obsessed with comedy genre and were churning out mindless comic flicks one after another, Rohit Jugraj broke fresh ground and helmed a thriller Jatt James Bond (April 2014) which was lapped up by the audience. So, when it was announced that Rohit Jugraj is directing Sardaarji with Diljit Dosanjh & Neeru Bajwa playing main leads, expectations were bound to be high. Is Sardaarji able to live upto those expectations and the answer is affirmative. Trust Rohit Jugraj to offer something invigorating to Punjabi audience. If Jatt James Bond was a thriller whose basic premise revolved around a bank robbery, Sardaarji is a quirky rom-com albeit with a difference. This rom-com's premise gyrates around spirits and a Ghost-buster played by the charming Diljit Dosanjh. We have to give it to the makers for believing in this subject and offering Punjabi Celluloid, its first fantasy driven feature film. The fun quotient of the movie begins right from the beginning with a disclaimer ; No Ghost has been harmed while shooting this film. This disclaimer is evident enough to prove what the rest of the movie has in store to offer the audience ; Guffaws, rib tickling comedy, well timed comic punches. Rohit Jugraj has inter-wined comedy, romantic track, sentiments and fantasy elements in a perfect blend, although emotions & romantic track in the second half goes a bit lengthy & awry but I still give to Jugraj. Its heartening to see Punjabi filmmakers coming out of the shell and taking risk by offering something novel, vivifying on Punjabi celluloid instead of churning out same old routine run of the mill stuff. Through Sardaarji Punjabi silver screens gets to see its first charming, witty Ghost-buster in the form of Diljit Dosanjh on celluloid and he doesn't disappoint with his funny antics.  

STORY & SCREENPLAY (SPOILERS AHEAD)                         ::                   The story as well as screenplay of the movie has been penned down by Dheeraj Rattan and the credit for writing the dialogues for the movie goes to Jatinder Lall. The story of the movie is not only gripping but it also has something new and fresh to offer to Punjabi audience. The script is laden with witty one liners and comic punches remain a constant feature throughout the movie. The first half of the movie is an absolute delight and it is in the second half that the movie nosedives a bit with the usual emotional content and romantic track thrown in but overall it's a novel attempt. The film begins in England where an affluent person by the name of Bilaal is planning to get married at Craigdarroch Castle. Queen of England has promised to attend his reception but his troubles begin when the Castle is declared haunted. Since Queen has principally agreed to attend his reception, he can't change the venue. He seeks services of several ghost-busters who are shooed away by the spirit in the castle. Cut next, scene shifts to Punjab and we are introduced to a Sardaarji by the name of Jaggi (Diljit Dosanjh) with a special power that helps him in connecting with beings from another realm. He is not only apt at catching Ghosts but has also preserved them in bottles lying at his home. Bilaal comes to know about him and calls him to England so that he can free the castle from the evil spirit for getting his marriage solemnized there. Upon entering the castle, Jaggi comes to know that a spirit is residing in the castle whose name is Pinky (Neeru Bajwa). She fell down from the top floor of the castle and died there. Jaggi tries all the tricks in the book to befriend Pinky so that she can leave the castle but she is adamant not to move from there. Jaggi inquires about her past and comes to know that she was a well known dancing star before her death. Jaggi falls in for lady ghost & is finally able to woo her but Pinky puts forward a condition for her to leave the castle. She wants Jaggi to bring Jasmine (Mandy Takhar) inside the castle. Now, Jaggi starts pursuing Jasmine posing as a dance student because Jasmine is a Salsa dance teacher. He cocoons several stories to hide his real identity & motive of coming to England from her and charms her with his effervescent persona.  Soon, sparks ignite between both of them and they fall in love with each other. Will Jaggi reveal his identity & reason for coming to England to Jasmine, What is the motive of Pinky behind calling Jasmine to the castle, What is the connection between Pinky & Jasmine and Will Jaggi be able to persuade the spirit of Pinky to leave the castle is what forms the rest of the story.  
STARCAST                                                                                       ::                Diljit Dosanjh as Jaggi is so apt that it is hard to imagine anyone else who could have essayed this character of being cute, witty, funny & strong willed too in a more appropriate manner. He is simply outstanding and deserves an ovation for his performance. Throughout the movie, he takes us into him completely and we not only laugh and cry with him - we take back his emotions and innocence as we exit the cinema hall. He is such a natural actor with almost perfect sense of comic timing that helps him deliver punches which hit at the intended spot. Suffice to say, Diljit Dosanjh is the undisputed king of Punjabi Cinema. And matching him step to step is Neeru Bajwa with her portrayal of spirit in the castle. This pretty damsel is the only leading lady who could have and as a matter of fact, has managed to sustain herself in the movie despite the powerful character and performance of Diljit. Her effervescent personality infuses her character with charm and her act as a spirit is a treat to watch. She is a wonderfully charming actress and I have no qualms in saying that if Diljit is the undisputed king, Neeru Bajwa is undisputed queen of Punjabi Cinema. Mandy Takhar is effective as Jasmine. She has not only looked gorgeous but has also portrayed her character convincingly. Mandy has portrayed her character with the right amount of restraint and attitude which was required as per her characterization in the movie. Jaswinder Bhalla as usual is in top form and manages to entertain you with his witty one liners. His comic timing is impeccable and so is his on-screen chemistry with Diljit.   

TECHNICAL FINESSE                                                                          ::   Another positive factor that works in favor of the movie is its technical finesse which is outstanding with effective contribution from every department. The musical soundtrack of the movie that has been composed by Nick Dhammu along with Jatinder Shah is a mixed bag of catchy & soulful numbers. One of the tracks "Taare Mutiyare" is a standout and has been sung well by Diljit. Most of the movie has been shot in U.K. and the man behind the lens as cinematographer of the movie is Parixit Warrior who has done a brilliant job of capturing the visuals. He has captured excellent visuals with the roving lens of his camera especially the aerial shots. Also, he has ably utilized picturesque locales while shooting the songs giving the frames rich and vibrant looks. The movie has been edited by Sandeep Francis who has kept the runtime of the movie to 148 minutes. The editing is sharp and edgy and the movie does not seem to linger on at any point of time. Now coming to the captain of the ship i.e. director Rohit Jugraj, he has done excellent job. He gets straight to the business right from the first frame and never looses the grip on the narrative all through the movie. He not only keeps you engrossed in the movie with his fine crafting skills but is also able to maintain the entertainment quotient of the movie alive all through. Rohit furnishes a fabulous style to the proceedings with well lit frames. As a director, Rohit knows how to juice the characters' emotions without spilling the sentiments all across the frames.     

CONCLUSION                                                                                     ::         Sardaarji has a novel plot ably backed up by well baked characters, crisp n witty dialogues, charming romance captured on picturesque locales, superlative performances and foot tapping music making it a wholesome entertainer that you can go and watch out with your family. It's a must watch for connoisseurs of Punjabi Cinema. I am giving it three and a half stars out of five.   

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Friday, 12 June 2015

Hamari Adhuri Kahani :: Movie Review

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Hamari Adhuri Kahani is a perfect example of how a descent storyline can go haywire when crafted with over pitched emotions laden with hackneyed dialogues resulting in yawn fest for audience. When an experienced director like Mohit Suri helms a movie starring good actors like Vidya Balan, Emraan Hashmi & RajKummar Rao, one expects an engaging emotional flick. But, on the contrary Hamari Adhuri Kahani has turned out to be diddly-squat.The movie turns out to be a disappointment right from the beginning and fails to hit the right chords with the audience. The movie is reportedly based on the lives of Mahesh Bhatt's parents and has been penned down by him. Undoubtedly, the story had potential but the way in which Mohit Suri has conceived and crafted this tale, it robs the story and the film of its could be plausible moments. The movie has fair amount of cliched scenes and especially dialogues which seem too outdated as per 2015. Hamari Adhuri Kahani looks into various aspects of married lady, Vasudha (Vidya Balan) whose husband has been missing for years. A rich guy, Aarav (Emraan Hashmi) enters her life and falls in love with her, brightening up her otherwise dull life. This could have been a perfect ending for a love story but Alias ! our female protagonist not only keeps on clinging to her Mangalsutra but also gets to mouth some outdated dialogues that belong to 70's era like "Main kisi aur ki malqiyat hoon". Hamari Adhuri Kahani somewhere gets confused whether to portray love as a emotion of conviviality or love as an emotion that seeks a nod of approval from society. Perhaps, over enthusiastic Mohit Suri has filled the movie with so much of over the top emotions that at times one begins to laugh even when a serious scene is playing. This is ample proof that the audience fail to connect with the movie and this is the movie's biggest drawback. To sum it up all,Hamari Adhuri Kahani is one of those films that had lurking potential with a tale of a woman who is going through troubled & abusive marriage which got dissolved while crafting and portraying the tale. The only saving grace for the movie is earnest performances from its three principle characters and a well, tightly executed climax. 

STORY & SCREENPLAY (SPOILERS AHEAD)                              ::         The storyline of the movie has been penned down by Mahesh Bhatt and the credit for writing the dialogues goes to Shagufta Rafiq. Together, they have drafted a script which is full of cliches, cheesy lines and some outrageous dialogues that are reminiscent of bygone era. The script has been laden such excessive melodramatic moments that are hard to digest in today's modern times. To quote a few dialogues ; "Woh apni Vaasna ki keemat apne pati ke khoon se chukaegi" & "Hari ki laash par main mahal nahin banaungi". These are the kind of dialogues that make you cringe in your seats. It is a pity as what could have been a good film on woman's liberation who is going through a troubled marriage has been messed up by a convoluted plot. As far as storyline goes, the film begins with old, crumbling Vasudha (Vidya Balan) almost collapsing on the streets of Bastar District. Her old, worn out husband Hari (RajKummar Rao) is talking to a doctor telling him that Vasudha visited him wearing a red dress and doctor rubbishes his claim saying it might be his illusion. Soon, Vasudha departs from this world and Hari turns up at his son's home to perform her last rites but is turned away by his son. Before leaving his son's home, Hari leaves a dairy for him to apprise him about the past of Vasudha. Flashback begins and we are taken 20 years back where Hari leaves Vasudha after a year of their marriage being solemnized. Vasudha is shown leading a reclusive life as a florist until a chance encounter makes Aarav (Emraan Hashmi) enter her life. Aarav is a big hotel magnate who owns 108 hotels. Vasudha saves him from getting caught in middle of a fire and in the process wins over the heart of Aarav who falls in love with her at first sight. He immediately offers her a job at one of his plush hotels. Affinity develops between both of them and when things begin to fall in place in Vasudha's life, Hari re-enters her life. He explains to her the reasons behind his disappearance & how he was mistakenly picked up by police thinking him to be a terrorist. Now, Vasudha seeks Aarav's help to get Hari free from clutches of law by proving his innocence. Aarav decides to help Hari for the sake of his selfless love for Vasudha. What happens thereafter forms the rest of the story.         

STARCAST                                                                            ::                           This can be touted as one of the most matured performances that Emraan Hashmi has delivered till date. As suave Aarav, he has given a restrained and subtle performance which is quite contrary to the characters that he has played in his earlier movies. He has mostly emoted through his eyes which speaks volumes about how he has grown in stature as an actor when it comes to acting finesse. Watch out for him in the scene where he can't confess his love for Vasudha as she doesn't give him a chance. He doesn't utter a single word from his mouth in that scene yet his face expresses all the emotions. Suffice to say, talented actress like Vidya Balan has been wasted in this film as her character has not been etched properly. She has done her level best to put life into the character of Vasudha. Vidya Balan's eyes were moist with tears in almost every second scene in which she appears. Though, she shows sparks of her acting finesse in scenes where she stands up against the male dominated social hierarchy. But the show stealer in Hamari Adhuri Kahani with his acting prowess is none other than RajKummar Rao. After Shahid & Citylights, RajKummar once again proves his versatility as an actor by playing a character having negative traits. His body language, eccentricity, persona, face expressions are apt enough as per the demand of his character and he hits the right notes with them. He had to display myriad number of emotions with respect to being ; a forsaken husband, jilted father, rancorous lover and to his credit RajKummar Rao has come out equally impressive while portraying all these. Despite of having negative traits, his character is able to win empathy from the audience because of Rao's earnest performance which can be hailed as a big big win for RajKummar Rao as an actor. Amongst ensemble starcast noticeable performances have been delivered by Madhurima Tuli, Namit Das, Suhasini Mooley & Saara Khan.   

TECHNICAL FINESSE                                                                        ::                    The musical soundtrack of the movie that has been composed by Jeet Ganguly, Mithoon and Ami Mishra is soulful. Two tracks namely; the title track "Hamari Adhuri Kahani" sung by Arijit Singh and "Humnava" sung by Papon are the real gems of this soundtrack. The background music for the film has been composed by Raju Singh which is apt enough and provides a further impetus to the visuals. The cinematographer of the movie is Vishnu Rao who has done a swell job of capturing the visuals. The movie is a visual treat as Vishnu has not only captured the outdoor locales of Abu Dhabi, Cape Town and Dubai with aplomb but he has captured the indoor shots with a certain degree of deftness. The editor of the movie is Devendra Murdeshwar who has kept the run-time of the movie to 131 minutes. The editing is not at all crisp, taut resulting in lot of lengthy emotional scenes which in turn keep on testing your patience. As a director, Mohit Suri has failed to deliver the goods this time. He had a good subject at hand but while crafting it, he has laden the screenplay with so much of emotional turbulence coupled with lengthy dialogues in chaste Hindi that the core issue of the subject has got dissolved in it. The movie fails to invoke any passion and hence is not able to absorb you into on-screen proceedings. 

 CONCLUSION                                                                                             ::   Hamari Adhuri Kahani comes across as a confused movie that fails to tug at your heartstrings with its cliched storytelling, heavy melodrama and hackneyed dialogues.  It's one of those rare love stories that fail to invoke any passion and can be skipped without any regrets. 

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Friday, 5 June 2015

Dil Dhadakne Do :: Movie Review

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Dil Dhadakne Do is a slick, well shot movie whose basic premise exploring different dynamics of relationships has been deftly helmed by Zoya Akhtar and the movie has been taken a few notches higher by earnest performances from its starcast along with its stunning visuals that boast of being wallpaper material. Zoya Akhtar is one of those new age directors who envisages the modern urban class relationships exquisitely and hence is able to conceive and portray them on-screen with adroitness. Her last flick "Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara" was a prima facie example of this and DDD is a step forward in the same direction. There's a concern that this film might appeal to a certain section section of the audience primarily the multiplex crowd in metros. People from the small centers might not be able to relate to it. Yes, DDD is unlike the other masala laden films that average cinegoer likes to savor, its a refined film but with a charm of its own. If one's perception of masala is beguilement, hilarity, drama & emotions, than DDD has it all. It's just that it has been conceived and portrayed in a different manner. DDD is real and can be primarily graded as a slice of the life film. Zoya's ability to infuse offbeat elements in mainstream cinema needs to be lauded and appreciated. Zoya's affinity about the intricacies of human behavior is unprecedented which was evident in her last flick and DDD strives to impeccably integrate authentic characters and bona fide situations on celluloid. There's nothing profound about DDD ; neither does it bring any insight that you and I don't already have from our own relationships. But, it connects from the word go. Maybe one gets connected with it instantly because some of the things are too close to home. The movie takes a dig and chronicles the events that take place during a cruise trip organized by a rich elite dysfunctional family to celebrate their thirtieth wedding anniversary. What makes this tale about the dysfunctional so delightful is its endearing characters that have been etched to perfection. The conflicts in the movie are bona fide and portrayed on-screen with genuine emotions. Though, the characters in the film belong to elite business class families but their concerns and problems are very relate-able. The film ably exposes the perturbing truths about a dysfunctional family and in the process volleys germane of questions at the audience ; how excessive parental control can affect the lives of their kids, why kids should have say in their lives else they might go aggressive, why a woman should remain stuck in a marriage just for the sake of social wrath even if she doesn't love her husband, why sons are given preferential treatment over daughters ? All these points might be sounding heavy but Kudos to Zoya as she has crafted a tale which raise as well as answers these questions in a jovial manner with a touch of sarcasm. Her take on lives of rich & famous who live a pompous but pretentious life has come out as very authentic and quite hilarious at times. The only thing that goes against the movie is its run-time which is 170 minutes and tighter editing could have given more edge to the movie.             

STORY & SCREENPLAY ( SPOILERS AHEAD)                                            ::             The story as well as screenplay of this film has been co-penned by Zoya Akhtar along with Reema Kagti and the dialogues of the movie have been penned down by Farhan Akhtar. Zoya and Reema have penned down the script with lot of care and concern as if borrowing incidents from real life situations. Their writing is simple, straightforward, well etched and character driven. The best part is that the script introduces the starcast as actors and not as typical heroes or heroines which makes it more believable. There are no heroic entries or over the top action. It's the characters and their constant conversations, that elevate DDD to new heights. Looking inward, Zoya and Farhan as the dialogue writer, borrow liberally from their own life and those around them. When a film or any story for that matter is rooted in true experience, it ably succeeds in transmitting the feeling easily to other person because in the end, our experiences are the same, we are raised like everyone else with families to count on, our tiffs are the same and we love no differently. The witticism, of course flows for which due credit must be given to Farhan Akhtar (dialogue writer). The spoken lines ( a brilliant fusion of of the colloquial and existential ) are so doggedly wedded to the visuals that we come out with a complete and satisfying cinematic experience, so replete with life's most luscious home truths that we want to carry the plot's bumper-sticker wisdom in our hearts forever. The film begins with Pluto Mehra, the pet dog  (voice-over by Aamir Khan) introducing audience to Mehra family. Kamal Mehra (Anil Kapoor) is a self made businessman who never looses a chance to boast about it & married to Neelam Mehra ( Shefali Shah) who despite of having major differences in their marital life pretend to be a happily wedded couple. They have two kids, a son Kabeer Mehra (Ranveer Singh) who has a penchant for flying but is being prepared to lead AYKA Industries, business empire set up by his father and a daughter Ayesha (Priyanka Chopra) who is married to Manav (Rahul Bose). Unlike Kabeer, Ayesha has a strong business acumen and has independently opened a successful online travel portal but she is not leading a healthy married life with Manav. On the eve of their 30th marriage anniversary, Mehras plan a cruise trip for celebrations and call their close friends & relatives for the same. Ironically, at the same time they come to know that their company AYKA is running into losses and is loosing its credence in the market. To end their financial woes, Mehras think of a plan and invite Lalit Sood (Parmeet Sethi), a rich industrialist to the cruise along with his family. Their plan is to somehow get Lalit's only daughter, Noori (Ridhima Sud) engaged to their son, Kabeer so that Lalit would bail them out of their financial vows. But, destiny has other plans as on the cruise Kabeer meets Farah Ali (Anushka Sharma) who is a part of dance troupe of the cruise liner and falls in love with her at first sight. Meanwhile, Ayesha is also fed up of leading a pretentious happily married life with Manav & wants a divorce but is suggested against it by her parents. On top of it, her ex-flame Sunny (Farhan Akhtar) also comes abroad the cruise fueling up her emotions. Does Kabeer get to marry Farah or sacrifices his love for the sake of dwindling fortunes of his company & pressure from his parents, Is Ayesha able to muster up courage to divorce Manav and re-unite with Sunny is what forms the rest of the story.         

STARCAST                                                                                                       ::        A word of praise of Nandini Shrikent (Casting Director) for assembling a fine coterie of actors who have enlivened the on-screen proceedings with their apt portrayal of their respective characters. One of the major factors of the film pulling you in is the frank, unvarnished performances by its starcast. Anil Kapoor takes up challenges for himself with every project he chooses to do and tries to outdo himself by pushing his limits. Anil is in terrific form in this movie, interpreting an extremely intricate and exceptional character fluently, channelizing every emotion in the book through his eyes. His typical dance moves are a treat to watch & he fits into the character of Kamal Mehra so well that you can't imagine any other actor who could have portrayed this character better than him. Ranveer Singh looks like a million bucks and acts just too wonderfully. He is completely in character and shines. It is a sheer delight to watch this young actor slip unto the shoes of every character that he portrays on-screen with an effortless ease and perform with utmost conviction. You see him in a different avatar as Kabir who is gentle, vulnerable and unsure. Priyanka Chopra excels in the character of Ayesha who is going through a troubled marriage. She has truly delivered a power packed performance by picking up every note and shade of her character rightly and enacting the same on-screen with perfection. Her on-screen sibling chemistry with Ranveer has come out exceedingly well and together both of them add up lot of plausible moments to the film. Farhan Akhtar is remarkable and excels in his layered performance. He is endearing, supremely confident and competent. Portraying the character of Neelam Mehra is not an easy job as it's a complex character with several layers attached to it but to her credit, Shefali Shah has done it with aplomb. She had to display a myriad number of emotions with respect to different relationships ; wife, mother, and mother-in-law & she has portrayed them with remarkable ease. Anushka Sharma not only looks tantalizing but has also underplayed her character in the most beautiful manner. After her high decibel performance in NH10, she has showcased immense improvement as an actress. What a perfect role for Rahul Bose! And as usual, he makes the most of it with subtlety and the right kind of emotion. Ridhima Sud has fared well and given a descent performance. It's not easy to make your presence felt with so many acting stalwarts around but Ridhima has stood her ground firmly. Another actor who deserves a mention is Vikrant Massey who was last seen in film "Lootera" alongside Ranveer Singh. Vikrant has given a subtle, restrained and apt performance. Manoj Pahwa packs a punch with his witty one-liners and adds to the humor quotient of the movie. Other noticeable performances have been delivered by Parmeet Sethi and Zarina Wahab.

TECHNICAL FINESSE                                                                                       ::            Technically, Dil Dhadakne Do is a marvel as whole of the technical crew have delivered the goods in their respective departments with aplomb. The musical soundtrack of DDD has been composed by the dependable trio of Shankar Mahadevan, Loy Mendonsa & Ehsaan Noorani which has come out as a classy album. Couple of tracks namely ; the peppy & lively title track "Dil Dhadakne Do" sung by Farhan Akhtar along with Priyanka Chopra and the romantic number "Pehli Baar" sung by Siddharth Mahadevan along with Sukriti Kakkar stand out amongst others. The cinematographer of the movie is Carlos Catalan who has done an outstanding job behind the lens. Technically, the movie boasts of some of the best camera work in recent times. Carlos Catalan, captures every single, minute detail whether in land, sea, indoors or outdoors with perfection through the roving eye of his lens. He has brilliantly used different color palates according to the characters and scenes. A special mention of Neil Patel (Production Designing) and Arjun Bhasin (Costume designing) for their apt contribution in their respective fields. The movie has been edited by Manan Mehta along with Anand Subaya who have kept the run-time of the movie to 170 minutes. Its understandable that it becomes difficult to chop off scenes from movie which has so many characters and shot so beautifully but a little apt usage of scissors on editing table would have been better as the movie seems a tad too long. Director Zoya Akhtar follows up "Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara" with another sensitive and entertaining study of people minus the usual frills associated with typical Bollywood melodrama. Kudos to her for crafting an unconventional tale minus the cliches with elements of philosophy about life imbibed in it. Zoya has this amazing knack of making her actors mouth music in every line. You don't just remember the dialogues, you remember their cadence. Also, she's fearless in the way she shoots and doesn't hide behind overcoated background scores. And that's why most of the times she is able to latch on to precious and raw cinematic moments. Overall, I have no qualms in saying that as a writer-director, Zoya Akhtar has once again reaffirmed that she is not only one of the most talented story-writers when it comes to penning down stories revolving around modern day relationships but also has the vision to translate them on-screen with her directorial skills & crafting abilities.        

CONCLUSION                                                                                                          ::    Dil Dhadakne Do is intelligent, well conceived flick that takes deep insight into the complex family relationships of today's times through well captured cinematic moments. This movie is a treat for cinema connoisseurs but if you have a penchant for formulaic laden conventional potboilers, than this movie is not your cup of tea.  

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