Friday, 29 May 2015

Welcome 2 Karachi :: Movie Review

                                       Image result for 3 stars out of 5 
Welcome 2 Karachi helmed by Ashish R Mohan is our desi version of "Dumb & Dumber" which takes you on a no-holds barred different, short & sweet journey with lot of fun quotient in the flick. The movie is a political satire and takes a dig at the prevalent socio-political atmosphere prevalent in Pakistan. Ashish R Mohan whose last directed flick "Khiladi 786" was a commercial potboiler laden with all the typical formulaic elements has attempted something novel this time for which he needs to be applauded. He has crafted a tale of two gauche Indians who land up in Pakistan via Sea route and what happens afterwards in a freakish manner. What works in favor of the movie is that the movie is not pretentious, the overall tone of the movie is middling with the silly antics of the main protagonists and other characters whom they meet during the course of their journey. Though the overall mood of narrative is witty, yet it ably brushes upon several pertinent issues ; General public across both the sides of border are saddened by the division and have affection for people living on other side of the border ( Portrayed brilliantly by Pavan Malhotra through a cameo in the movie), how politicians can stoop to the lowest of levels just to grab a larger chunk of vote bank ( When Arshad & Jackky destroy a Taliban camp with their silly antics, a Pakistani minister forcefully makes the duo to confess that they are Pakistani Intelligence officials who were inducted by his political party to curb terrorism ),  rising above oneself for the sake of humanity ( In the climax, When Arshad & Jackky foil a possible hijack attempt putting their lives in danger whilst they could have safely returned to India). Since the tone of movie is piquant, all these scenes have been captured with a dash of humor without giving them a preachy tone for which due credit must be given to Ashish R Mohan and his team. The movie doesn't spare anyone and takes pot-shots at people on both the sides of the border and doesn't even spare U.S.A. who wants to take credit for destroying a Taliban base camp with drone strike which in actual has been destroyed by the movies' main protagonists and that too by mistake. There are aplenty of gags infused in the screenplay especially during the first half which are fresh, invigorating but the movie nosedives in the second half specifically during the climax. But, overall the movie is a one time watch if you decide to stay silly laying your brain cells to rest whilst watching the movie. Two scenes from the movie ; one where Americans interrogate the lead duo regarding the drone strike on Taliban camp and second where a Minister introduces the duo to the media as Intelligence officials of Pakistan in Parliament have come out as too hilarious.   

STORY & SCREENPLAY  (SPOILERS AHEAD)                                              ::             The writing credits of the movie have been shared by Kushal Ved Bakshi, Vrajesh Hirjee, Danish Hussain along with Ashish.R.Mohan. The highlight of this movie apart from the brilliant performances by its main protagonists is its perceptive writing which leaves no stone unturned to take digs at the current socio-political scenario. On top of it, the script has been laden with boisterously funny dialogues and one-liners.The best part is that the script breezes past without any major breakdowns primarily because it sticks to its chosen line and to top it all, it delivers some quirky detours that are made all the more engaging due to the consistent quality of acting by most of its artistes. The film starts with Mitesh Patel (Dalip Tahil) booking a client's wedding party to be held on his chartered boat. The captain of the boat is Shammi (Arshad Warsi) who is assisted by the son of Mitesh i.e. Kedar Patel (Jackky Bhagnani). Kedar is quite disillusioned as his visa for U.S.A has been rejected multiple times and Shammi promises to take him to U.S.A. by boat. Mitesh orders Shammi & Kedar to take care of the wedding party and leave the shore when the wedding party arrives. As they both are dim-witted, they leave the shore when the wedding party arrives without taking them on-board. A storm engulfs the boat and they both sail to Karachi port in an unconscious state. A bomb blast takes place on the port landing the duo in a local hospital. They both run away from the hospital but not before changing their attire ; Arshad wears a doctor's coat and Jackky wears a sherwani with a bullet hole in it. On the other hand, Pakistani intelligence officials, one of whom is Lauren Gottlieb land up at sea shore where the blast took place and they catch hold of Shammi's purse making them think that he is behind the blast. Now, our dim-witted duo is out on streets of Karachi where Shammi is mistaken to be a doctor and is taken to a house where he delivers a baby taking cue from RajKumar Hirani's 3 idiots i.e. with the help of a vaccum cleaner. As they are hungry, they attempt to steal pizzas from a delivery boy which in fact turns out to be guns hidden in pizza box and this makes them land up at residence of a local don. The don is angry as the delivery of the guns could not be processed, so to make up for his losses he seeks ransom by calling Kedar's father in India. On getting the ransom amount, he arranges for their return to India by arranging their fake passports. But their worst fears are yet to come true, as while sitting at a tea stall Shammi starts cheering for India when Indo-Pak cricket match is being telecast. The crowd runs after them baying for their blood. It is than that they discover the darker side of Pakistan. Afterwards, chance encounter lands them up in the base camp of Taliban who wants to use duo as Jihadis. In an attempt to escape from there, they mistakenly blow up the base camp and co-incidentally at the same time a drone of USA is also hovering around there. What follows is a series of hilarious events where on one  side they are used by a Pakistani Minister by projecting them as Pakistani Heroes as elections are around the corner. And on the other hand U.S. officials abduct them and promise them a safe passage to India if they testify in front of media that it was US. Drone strike that destroyed Taliban camp. Will they remain in Pakistan posing as Intelligence Officials as instructed by the minister, Will they be able to return back to India is what forms the rest of the story.                 

STARCAST                                                                                                ::             A round of applause for Rohan Mapuskar, Naila Mughal ( Casting Directors) for their effective casting of lead as well as ensemble starcast as per their characterizations. Sans any big stars (apart from Arshad Warsi), lesser known actors have ably carried the weight of the movie on their shoulders by giving earnest performances. What i mentioned about Jimmy Sheirgill in my previous review of "Tanu Weds Manu Returns", stands true for Arshad Warsi also ; Arshad is also one of the underrated and underutilized actors of today's times. Arshad is a powerhouse of talent who fits into the shoes of the character that he portrays on screen with remarkable ease. It is difficult to imagine this film without the first-rate pivotal performance by Arshad Warsi. Arshad exhibits many shades of humor, nervousness as well as confidence and frustration immensely well. Arshad lights up the screen by portraying the character of Shammi to the hilt. His camaraderie with Jackky Bhagnani has come out really well in the movie and has to be seen to be believed. Jackky Bhagnani has come a long way since he was launched in movie 'Kal Kissne Dekha' by his father Vasu Bhagnani in 2009. He has evolved as an actor with every subsequent film of his. And in this movie, Jackky Bhagnani has turned out to be the surprise element by imbibing and portraying the finer nuances of a Gujarati in most amusing way. Jackky's comic timing as the silly, innocent guy having no control over his tongue is impeccable. His sincerity & hard work put in towards portraying this role can be gauged from his performance in the movie. Watch out for him in the Karachi hospital scene where he questions the man sitting next to him about the person whose photograph is hung on the wall and than displays his flair of knowing three different languages to him. Dalip Tahil is first rate as the lecherous father of Kedar who being a typical Gujju doesn't even hesitate to negotiate for the ransom amount when his son has been held hostage by a local don in Karachi. Lauren Gottlieb proves that she is not only cut out for dance numbers but can make her presence felt when it comes to acting too. Although she has given a descent performance but she needs to further brush up her acting skills especially when it comes to facial expressions. Other noticeable performances have been delivered by Imran Hasnee and Adnan Shah.   

TECHNICAL FINESSE                                                                   ::                 The musical soundtrack of the movie that has been composed by Jeet Ganguly, Rochak Kohli along with Amjad Nadeem comprises of some fast paced numbers that gel well with narrative of the movie. Couple of numbers namely " Lalla Lalla Lori " sung by Vishal Dadlani along with Shivi and " Boat Ma Kukdookoo" sung by Mika in the lead along with Shivi, Deane Sequeira & Rochak Kohli stand out amongst others. The cinematographer of the movie is Mark Nutkins who has astoundingly captured a sense of purity in the frames, luscious with light, undaunted by grain in the dark which is remarkable. The use of colors and lighting be it in frames, background, outdoors or even inside premises is so audacious that it enhances the visual appeal of the movie. A special mention of Narendra Rahurikar ( Production Designer) and Komal Shahani ( Costume Designer ) for their apt contribution in their respective fields. The movie has been edited by Steven H. Bernard who has kept the run-time of the movie to 134 minutes. His editing is crisp & taut and covers up the glitches mainly in the first half but some scenes in the second half hamper the proceedings and needed trimming. As a director, Ashish R Mohan has proved that he knows his craft well enough. He has ably portrayed the tale of two dim-witted persons and their redundant adventures with utmost finesse and in a quirky manner. The best part is that he has not attempted to vary the tone of movie at any stage by making it serious and let the silliness prevail throughout the film. He also deserves a pat on the back for extracting the best out of his cast and crew. With able assistance from his crew, Ashish has been able to recreate Karachi in such efficient manner that it is utmost difficult to differentiate Karachi from the sets that have been created. Ashish R Mohan has proved his versatility as a director by making a movie which is in total contrast to the last movie that he helmed i.e. Khiladi 786.    

CONCLUSION                                                                                               ::       Welcome 2 Karachi is a mindless comic flick that can be watched once for the silly shenanigans enacted exquisitely by its protagonists provided you don't let your logical skills come into play while watching the movie and simply enjoy, going with the flow of the movie. 

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Friday, 22 May 2015

Tanu Weds Manu Returns :: Movie Review

                                             Image result for 4 stars out of five   

Tanu Weds Manu Returns is a well made sequel by Aanand L Rai that not only begins from where its prequel ended, propels the story further in most justifiable way but is also full of plausible moments that coherently add up to the fun quotient of the movie. To helm a sequel to a successful movie is no mean task as the prequel serves as a hard benchmark. In Bollywood, several sequels have been made as well as rejected by masses and the successful ones can be counted on fingers. Fortunately, TWMR falls in the latter category as this movie has superseded the expectations and has turned out to be one of those rare sequels which is far better & entertaining than its prequel.  The movie tugs at your heartstrings right from its opening scene where marriage of Manu (Madhavan) is being solemnized with Tanu (Kangna) with famous song "Sun Sahiba Sun" from the movie "Raam Teri Ganga Maili" playing in the background. Director, Aanand L. Rai along with the able support of his writer, Himanshu Sharma and gem of an actress, Kangna has woven magic on screen. The movie in an entertaining way talks about several prevalent social messages that include women empowerment, social diktat & how marriages fall apart when expectations get bigger than the reality. A standout scene of the movie is ; Manu is having drinks with his father (K.K.Raina) & his bosom pal, Pappi ( Deepak Dobriyal) discussing his marital problems. While His father is calmly explaining him the dogmatism of bickering in the institution of marriage, the hormonal nature of women and the panacea of handling them with love when they blow their fuse, his mother is constantly bickering in the background and switching off all the lights of house and than suddenly his father breaks down the only tube-light which is glowing with a rod. This moment and several other moments like this speak volumes about the craftsmanship of the movie. The first half of the movie is a such a laugh riot and so engrossing that you don't even realize how quickly has the time passed when interval flashes on screen. It is in the second half that movie nosedives a bit but it ably recovers quickly and than it turns into an emotional roller coaster ride. The biggest highlight of this movie apart from the performances of its entire star-cast is its content in the form of rich screenplay which has captured the finer nuances of language along with culture ranging from the semi urban milieu of Kanpur to the rustic, rural ambience of Haryana. The nuances of small town families with neighbors being a privy of their on going affairs has been effectively portrayed on-screen by Aanand L.Rai and this is something that audience will make an instant connect with. The film is deeply rooted and hence makes for a delightful watch.       

STORY & SCREENPLAY (SPOILERS AHEAD)                                                       ::               The story and screenplay by Himanshu Sharma is not only fresh but also engaging. The best part about the screenplay is that it progresses smoothly and quite logically so that the drama does not bore or dip anywhere. Also, the characters have been so well etched out with perfection that they genuinely invoke interest in you. And the ambiance - so real that the audience gets a feeling of watching a real and authentic drama unfold on screen. Probably, the biggest victory of a writer is that his script comes across as a very honest and straight-from-the-heart attempt which will not be lost on the audience. And to his credit, Himanshu Sharma has laden the screenplay with some real quirky one liners and dialogues which invoke aplenty of laughter. As far as the storyline goes, film begins with the scene where Tanu (Kangna) is getting married to Manu (Madhavan). Cut next, four years later both of them are sitting in front of a panel of psychiatrists and discussing their marital problems. During the discussion, Manu gets infuriated and seeing his behavior the panel admits him to St. Benedict's Asylum. After this, Tanu decides to leave for her hometown Kanpur. But, since she has a softer side for Manu so she calls up his bosom pal, Pappi (Deepak Dobriyal) to come and get Manu discharged from asylum. Manu along with Pappi comes back to Delhi & is helluva angry with Tanu for getting him admitted to asylum. Meanwhile, Tanu reaches her home back where her family is enraged to hear about her marital dispute with Manu. One room of Tanu's house has been taken on rent by a law student Chintu (Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub) who soon engulfs friendship with Tanu. Tanu wants to meet her ex flame Raja Awasthi (Jimmy Sheirgill) & goes to her house with Chintu. On reaching there, she comes to know that marriage of Raja has been fixed. Meanwhile, when Manu goes to deliver a lecture at a Delhi college, he sights upon Kusum Kumari (Kangna Ranaut) who is a state level athlete but her looks are very familiar with Tanu. He gets fixated by her and falls in love with her. He starts following her around in Delhi along with Pappi. One fine day, Kusum confronts him for following her all around and it is than that Manu reveals to her that he is going through a bad marriage and she is a look alike of his wife and even shows her the picture of his wife. Soon, friendship develops between both. In Kanpur, Tanu starts seeing Raja often and starts going out on movie dates with him. This enrages Chintu who has fallen in love with Tanu. So, an infuriated Chintu not only sends a divorce notice to Manu on Tanu's behalf but also calls him up telling him about the (supposedly) romance brewing up between Raja & Tanu. This enrages Manu further and he decides to propose Kusum for marriage. He goes to her house in Delhi where she is living with her elder brother (Rajesh Sharma) and asks for her hand. Another twist in the story comes when it is revealed that Kusum is the same girl with whom Raja Avasthi's marrige has been fixated. But Kusum agrees to marry Manu and wants to take him to her hometown in Haryana to meet her folks. On the other hand, Pappi is madly in love with a girl whom he met at the wedding of Jassi (Eijaz Khan) & Payal (Swara Bhaskar) and the girl is getting married in a few days. So, the trio of Manu, Kusum and Pappi land up at Jassi's place, kidnap the girl and take her to Kusum's hometown. Kusum's folks are so enraged after knowing that Kusum is asking to tie the nuptial knot with Manu that they are about to kill him but timely intervention by her elder brother solves the issue. On knowing that Manu is getting married to Kusum, Tanu also reaches the hometown of Kusum along with Raja, Jassi and Payal. Will Manu marry Kusum, Will Tanu realize her mistakes & able to stop the marriage is what forms the rest of the story.      

STARCAST                                                                                            ::          Kudos to the casting director for assembling a fine coterie of ensemble starcast for this movie who have portrayed their characters to the hilt. Though, the movie belongs to Kangna Ranaut. Its a double whammy for the fans of Kangna as they get to see her in two different avatars in the movie i.e. Tanu Rawat as well as Kusum Kumari & to her credit, Kangna has come out equally impressive in both these characters. Although, her portrayal of Kusum has come out as more endearing. The way she has caught up with Haryanvi dialect, mannerisms, body language and portrayed them on-screen is sheer brilliance. Kangna seems to be on a new high after her much appreciated performance in Queen and it seems she is slowly climbing up her way to become Queen of Bollywood. She is like soul of this movie and has carried this movie on her shoulders. With her apt & brilliant portrayal of duel characters, Kangna makes you think whether any other actress would have been able to portray these characters so convincingly. Way to go......Kangna. Madhavan once again excels in his character portrayal of a subtle and restrained guy. The best part about his acting is that he remains in his character so wonderfully and makes it so believable that he is able to woo all the sympathy from the audience. Had he gone overboard even in a few scenes, the effect would not have been the same. He lends sheer credibility to the character of lovelorn Manu with his acting prowess. Deepak Dobriyal is one such helluva actor that you give him any character to play, he will delve deep into the skin of the character. In TWMR, he lends a fair amount of charm to the character of Pappi that he portrays. His body language, face expressions are a treat to watch especially when he mouth-es those one liners. He is simply terrific and invokes aplenty of laughter in the frames that he is present in. He is definitely one of those brilliant actors who deserves to be seen more frequently on big screen with more meatier roles. The performance of Mohammed Zeeshan Ayuub in this movie as Chintu is simply first rate. He proves that it is acting prowess and not the length of the role which is important to leave a lasting impression. Watch out for him in the scene where after getting rebuked by Jimmy, he provokes him to kill him right there and not leave him like that because if he leaves him alive he will strike back with vengeance. Zeeshan is a delight to watch in this movie. Another actor who manages to impress you with his performance is Jimmy Sheirgill. I have always held the view that he is one of the underrated and underutilized actors who has a great screen presence and can set the screen ablaze with his talent. Rajesh Sharma has once again given an apt performance as Kusum's brother and his enraged act where he confronts with villagers to save the skin of Manu has come out as a stunner. Eijaz Khan's portrayal of flashy Jassi is effective enough. So is the act of Swara Bhaskar as Payal. Swara has portrayed the character of Payal with such ease that it becomes difficult to differentiate her from the character. Not to forget Aakash Dahiya who plays a short stint in the movie as a rickshaw puller who was once heads over heels in love with Tanu. He has enacted his short part in the most natural and effortless manner. Amongst ensemble star-cast, noticeable performances have been delivered by K.K.Raina, Navni Parihar, Rajendra Gupta & Dipti Mishra.    

TECHNICAL FINESSE                                                                                     ::           The musical soundtrack of the movie has been composed by a motley of music directors namely Surj RDB Rythm Dhol Bass, Krsna, Tanishk & Vayu which has become a trend these days. Since music of Tanu Weds Manu was a runaway hit, so expectations from the music of sequel were supposedly high and to a certain extent the soundtrack has been able to match up to those expectations. Certain tracks like richly arranged Haryanvi track "Ghanni Bawri" sung by Jyoti Nooran, "Ho gaya hai pyaar" sung by Dev Negi  stand out amongst others. The cinematographer of the movie is Chirantan Das who has done an excellent job of capturing the visuals from behind the lens. His cinematography is plush, passionate, heightens the kitsch of the settings with warm-hued interiors as well as captures the outdoor locales with aplomb. He has ably captured the semi-urban class milieu with the roving eye of his lens. A special mention of Ankita Jha & Reza Shariffi for their contribution in apt Costume Designing. The movie has been edited by Hemal Kothari who has kept the run-time of movie to 120 minutes. Hemal's done a descent job by maintaining the tempo of the movie at a constant pace throughout without giving you a chance to go out for a loo break, As a director, Aanand L. Rai has once again proved that he knows the pulse of the audience as with this movie, he has made a hat trick of successful movies that were lapped up by the audience. The earlier ones being Tanu Weds Manu & Raanjhna. He has a distinctive style of film-making with his movies giving a very believable feel. It is not easy to direct sequel to a hit movie as the expectations from the audience are very high but with TWMR, Aanand is able to hit the right chords with the audience right from the word go. His movies have kind of rustic touch and he etches out & develops the characters in such a way that audience are able to relate to them. Aanand L. Rai has done a swell job of portraying the screenplay unto on-screen and in the process has also extracted the best from his cast and crew members. Aanand is one of those few rare directors who knows how to portray the urban middle class milieu on-screen in most efficient and endearing manner and is definitely upping the ante with every subsequent movie of his. 

CONCLUSION                                                                                            ::             Tanu Weds Manu Returns is a full on family entertainer that works primarily because the movie has got its heart and soul at the right place.  Also, the movie is an exemplary amalgamation of rich content, brilliant craftsmanship and towering performances by its entire star-cast which results in full paisa wasool experience for the audience. I am giving it 4 stars out of 5. 

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Thursday, 21 May 2015

Piku :: Movie Review

Piku is a delightful, quirky movie that gives a passe to usual formulaic elements of commercial film making and offers a fresh take on deeply layered father daughter relationship. The stand out factor in Piku is its invigorating storyline that has been penned down by Juhi Chaturvedi. Take a bow, Juhi Chaturvedi as this is one of the finest & intrepid writing that Indian Celluloid has seen after a long hiatus. It delightfully delves deep into and explores the ultimate elemental connection of life between a father and  a daughter. In an enchanting way, it talks about motion pills, discussion on shit, annoying folks and domestic helps who serve us dutifully until we perish. It is difficult to imagine bona fide sugariness from a film that talks about a grumpy old man and his peeved grown-up daughter whose most of the time is consummated in discussing remedies about his digestive problems. But to his credit director, Shoojit Sircar has been able to extract humor from the unlikeliest of situations. The script has been laden with germane of questions about the line of difference between sacrifice and duty, how dynamics of responsibilities shift from parents to children, co-operating and understanding the needs of aging parents. The relationship between Piku (Deepika Padukone) and her aging father Bhaskor (Amitabh) that has been portrayed through this movie is something we have never witnessed on Indian Celluloid before. It is a blend of both, progressively modern as well as conservative. On one hand, Bhaskor introduces his daughter as "Financially, emotionally, sexually independent, non virgin woman" to a suitor he meets in a party but on the other hand he is reluctant to see her get married and move away to a new home. As far as the storyline goes, Architect Piku is the only child of 70-year-old Bhaskor. Her life has become monotonous as her day begins with routine work in the office and ends up discussing bowel problems of her father. Being a dutiful daughter, she is ready to compromise everything for the sake of her father who is ever-worried about his constipation. One fine day, Bhaskor decides to visit his hometown Calcutta but insists on traveling by road. What all happens when a taxi service owner, Rana (Irrfan Khan) drives them to to Calcutta forms the rest of the story. What lends a further impetus to the movie is stellar performances from its star-cast. Deepika Padukone has portrayed the character of Piku without an inkling of contrivance.To her credit, we are not able to locate Deepika in the movie but only Piku. Amitabh Bachchan has given such a believable performance as a Bengali that it becomes difficult for you to digest the fact that in actual he is a Non-Bengali. His mannerisms, tantrums regarding his bowel problems are a treat to watch. Irrfan Khan as Rana Chaudhary who owns a taxi service has played his character to pitch perfection. He is such an effortless actor who can emote through his expressions without speaking a word from his mouth. Watch out for him in the scene where he expresses his displeasure without saying a word when Piku's family servant comes and sits along with him on the front seat of his taxi and than Piku alights from the vehicle and sits along side him. This unspoken affinity speaks volumes about the craftsmanship of the movie. Other noticeable performances have been delivered by Moushumi Chatterji, Jishu SenGupta & Raghuveer Yadav. The musical soundtrack of the movie has been composed by Anupam Roy who has done a brilliant job by keeping it in tandem with the screenplay. The opening title track is simply a treat for music connoisseurs. Plenty of credit for the tonal correctness of the narrative must go to the cinematographer of the movie i.e. Kamaljeet Negi whose usage of color palettes as per the requirement of the shot is praiseworthy. The movie has been crisply edited by Chandrashekhar Prajapati who has kept the run-time to 125 minutes. As a director, Shoojit Sircar has scored all the brownie points as he has presented this simple, refreshing tale of a father-daughter relationship in the most captivating way. He has ably not only portrayed the finer nuances of relationships but also infused the film with some valuable lessons without making it sound preachy. Piku explores the relationship between an aging father and his daughter on whom he is completely dependent in the most endearing way. Piku is a must watch as it portrays a very pragmatic perspective of a typical Indian family gently tugging on your heartstrings.    

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Friday, 15 May 2015

Bombay Velvet :: Movie Review

Bombay Velvet helmed by Anurag Kashyap is a sagacious tale revolving around love, aspirations, greed, lust for power and above all gluttonous connivance between corporate and Government that saw Bombay transform into metropolitan which has been stitched together with grandeur and impeccable detailing. Undoubtedly, Anurag Kashyap is one of those new age directors who knows his craft well and has proven his expertise in the past by directing flicks like Black Friday, Dev-D, Gulaal & Gangs Of Wasseypur which can be hailed as coming of age cinema. Bombay Velvet is his definitely his most ambitious project so far with big stars, lavish sets that transport you to the bygone era of 1960's cocooned with intricate finesse. Neither Bombay's streets nor her morally bankrupt citizens are a pretty sight in Bombay Velvet, the latest crime thriller helmed by Anurag Kashyap. Coldly scrutinizing the shadowy motives at play during the transformation of Bombay into a metropolitan, the grittily stylized film boasts a scatter shot narrative that frustrates as much as it illuminates. As a director, Anurag Kashyap has always made movies which have carved out a niche of their own in terms of cinematic experience. If we take a look at earlier movies of  Kashyap be it Black Friday or Gangs of Wasseypur, they were packed with political and social innuendos & Bombay Velvet takes a quantum leap in the same direction. Anurag Kashyap along with his able technical crew has meticulously recreated the past era during which Bombay was spread out and carved out of seven separate islands. While the city is about to grow, myriad manipulations come into play with vested interests. Lot of people want to savor their respective slice of pie in the growing city. Some of them being ; A shrewd businessman by the name of Kaizad Khambata (Karan Johar) who goes upto the extent of using his wife to entice Government officials and later blackmail or eliminate them, City mayor (Siddhartha Basu) who uses his clout to make things work out in favor of Kaizad & his coterie, Johnny Balraj (Ranbir Kapoor) who is a henchman of Kaizad but now wants to venture out on his own.  Amongst all this, there is a love story story brewing up between Johnny & Rosie (Anushka Sharma), an aspiring Jazz Singer. While the first half of the movie is tight enough to keep you glued to your seats, things begin to go haywire in the second half with its flimsy storytelling. Johnny who has been working under the wings of Kaizad gets more ambitious and eyes a bigger chunk in the pie. In the process, the second half gets reduced to a vendetta driven drama robbing the movie of its plausible moments. In a nutshell, Bombay Velvet is a story of ostentatious ambitions, detrimental greed and consummate love which has been served up with grandeur. 

STORY & SCREENPLAY   (SPOILERS AHEAD)                                                             ::                 The story of the film has been borrowed from a book titled, Mumbai Fables that has been penned down by Gyan Prakash. The writing credits for the screenplay of the movie have been shared by Vasan Bala, Gyan Prakash, Anurag Kashyap along with S.Thanikachalam.  The script of Bombay Velvet is a collateral mix of deadly desecration of land mafia, political rivalries, tabloid wars, cold blooded murders, unrest of labor unions and selfless love between the protagonists under these extreme conditions. The story that has been adapted from the book, Mumbai Fables might have looked sound on paper but while portraying it on-screen especially with a time constraint of 131 minutes (including songs), story gets convoluted. There are too many characters in the movie who are left open with loose ends leaving us clueless in the end. While the first half of the movie is taut with audience being introduced to the lives of young Balraj, Rosie and how chemistry develops between them, it's the second half which is a let down and full of cliches. The movie begins in 1969 when young Balraj (Ranbir Kapoor) alights from a train along with his foster mother in Bombay. His mother seeks work at several places but on finding none, finally ends up at a brothel. Young Balraj catches up with Chimman (Satyadeep Misra) who is a pick pocket-er and engulfs a deep affinity with him making them friends for life. Balraj generally watches his mother being slapped, abused in the brothel which infuriates and frustrates him a lot. To vent out his frustration, he starts to fight in free for all boxing ring. On the other hand, young Rosie (Anushka Sharma) sings in a choir at Goa. A local rich guy (Remo Fernandez) takes her to his place to develop her singing skills but his constant physical abuse forces Rosie to run away from Goa and she too lands up in Bombay with an aspiration to become a Jazz singer. After watching an English movie, Balraj gets so smitten by its characters that he too dreams of becoming a big shot. He tries to rob a businessman in a bank but is unsuccessful. The businessman is none other than Kaizad Khambata (Karan Johar) who gets impressed with the skills and confidence of Balraj and hires him as his henchman along with Chimman. He even rechristens Balraj's name to Johnny. Meanwhile, Rosie begins to sing in a local club where Balraj watches her and falls in love with her at the first sight. The club is also frequented by Jimmy Mistry (Manish Chaudhury) who is a communist and editor of pro-labor class tabloid by the name of 'Glitz'. Jimmy is all opposition to the capitalists plan and hence is at loggerheads with Kaizad who is a land shark. Jimmy takes Rosie to his place. Kaizad opens up a big club house by the name of Bombay Velvet and appoints Johnny as the manager of the club. Kaizad uses Johnny as a weapon to wipe out his adversaries be it by eliminating, threatening, kidnapping or blackmailing them. With Johnny's aid (in the background), Kaizad is able to set his equation right with the mayor (Siddhartha Basu) of the town and plans to build big towers in Bombay. Jimmy gets a whiff of the shady dealings being done by Kaizad and is sure that it is Johnny who is helping Kaizad in these murkier deals by blackmailing & threatening Government officials. It is then, that Rosie is sent as a honey-trap to Bombay Velvet by Jimmy to collect the evidence and hand it over to him. But, Rosie falls in love with Johnny and refuses to help him. Things worsen further when Johnny becomes more ambitious and wants a bigger slice of pie in the deals being done by Kaizad and Kaizad comes to know that Rosie has been sent by Mistry to nail them down. Now, Kaizad not only wants Rosie dead but also tries to create a rift between Johnny and Chimman. Will Johnny be able to save Rosie, Will Johnny realize his dream of becoming a big shot, Will Mistry be able to expose the murkier deals & What will be the fate of Kaizad is what forms the rest of the story.      

STARCAST                                                                                              ::           Mukesh Chhabra (Casting Director) has further cemented his credentials as an ace casting director with this movie after his efficient casting in past movies like P.K., Ugly & Tewar. He has ably cast a fine blend of stars and motley of some real fine actors who have delivered outstanding performances as per their respective characterizations. He has created a casting coup by signing Karan Johar as the main antagonist for this movie which sounded absurd on paper but has come out very well in the movie. Ranbir Kapoor, once again proves why he is considered the blue eyed boy of the present day film fraternity with his outstanding portrayal of Johnny Balraj in the movie. Putting his much forgettable cameo in 'Roy' on the back burner, Ranbir is back with a bang. We see him in various avatars in the movie ; as a tough street criminal, a love-struck guy who falls in for Rosie (Anushka Sharma) at first sighting of hers, a violent lover who constantly squabbles with Rosie, an aspiring person who becomes a ruthless killer and to his credit Ranbir has come out equally impressive in all these. His acting in this flick is as natural, convincing as it can be which speaks volumes about his acting finesse. Matching him step by step is Anushka Sharma whose portrayal of character 'Rosie' is so cogent that it appears effortless. She seems to be on a roll after her high decibel performance in NH10 and is slowly but steadily carving out a niche for herself amongst her coterie. With her acting skills, Anushka enlivens the character of Rosie, the exploited Jazz singer. The chemistry between Ranbir & Anushka is electrifying ( especially during their fight scenes ) and has to be seen to be believed. Karan Johar makes his debut through Bombay Velvet by portraying the character of Kaizad Kambhata. And what a debut.......he looks every inch the stylish, suave and cynical mogul that he is supposed to portray on-screen. When I read that he has been signed in to play the role of antagonist in this movie, I was quite skeptical whether he will be able to carry off this role but to his credit, Karan Johar has proven me wrong and delivered a startling performance. Watch out for him in the scene where he steps out so that he can sneer at Johnny's inability to understand English language. Another actor who manages to impress with his apt performance is Satyadeep Misra. As a bosom pal of Johnny, though he remains in the background as most of the action revolves around Johnny but you can't miss him due to his intense performance which he has delivered by emoting through his eyes and body language. Manish Chaudhury, once again proves how good an actor he is by portraying the role of Jimmy Mistry with utmost conviction despite the drawback that his character is not that well etched out especially in the second half. Other noticeable performances have been delivered by Kay Kay Menon, Vivaan Shah, Siddhartha Basu, Raveena Tandon & Remo Fernandez.       

TECHNICAL FINESSE                                                                                ::    The musical soundtrack of the movie that has been composed by Amit Trivedi along with Mikey McCleary is heady, swingy and reminiscent of the 60's musical compositions. The songs replete with Jazz music are a treat for music connoisseurs. Two tracks namely Fifi sung by Suman Sridhar & Mohabbat Buri Bimari sung by Neeti Mohan stand out amongst others. The background music of the movie has been composed by Amit Trivedi who has done excellent job out of it. Amit's background music underscores every scene without hammering in the emotions. Other members of the crew who have delivered the goods are, Errol Kelly, Sonal Sawant (Production designers), Sameer Sawant (Art Director) and Kazvin Dangor, Rose Maria Tharakan (Set Decorators) who have ably kept the aesthetics as per the era shown in the film. Another person who deserves a special mention is Niharika Khan (Costume Designer) who has designed the costumes keeping dressing pattern of 1960's in mind. Together, all these with brilliant contribution in their respective fields have been able to recreate the Bombay of 1960's. The cinematographer of the movie is Rajeev Ravi who has done an outstanding job of capturing visuals. Bombay's architecture, captured from the grand well built sets, lends a wonderful edge to Rajeev's visual commentary. Dark, lingering, soulful and enigmatic - Bombay is multiple people in city's body. This varied, pulsating and intriguing temperament is what is documented in well captured frames without distracting itself from the story or its telling. The movie has been edited by Prerna Saigal along with Thelma Schoonmaker who have packaged the whole action in run-time of 151 minutes. Due credit must be given to their sharp, taut editing as their razor sharp editing is able to cover up the glitches and incoherent elements of the storyline. As a director, Anurag Kashyap completely succeeds in recreating Bombay of 1960's with clubs playing jazz music, vintage cars, styling, tommy guns and making you believe in it completely. Suffice to say, he has extracted the best out of his cast & crew but the screenplay laden with too many characters lets him down especially in the second half. This is his first attempt to drift away from offbeat cinema which he is proficient at but on the whole it looks like a half-hearted attempt as Bombay Velvet is not in the league of flicks that he has helmed earlier.     

CONCLUSION                                                                                  ::            Bombay Velvet is not that typical Anurag Kashyap kind of cinema which he is known for but still can be watched once for its grandeur, meticulous detailing that transports you back into Bombay of 1960's and power packed performances by its starcast. I am giving it 2 and a half stars out of five. 

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Friday, 1 May 2015

Gabbar is Back :: Movie Review

Gabbar is back is a slickly made, well-paced action flick that works quite well elementally because it has been served up grandly by director Krish, with a preposterous tale of law, disorder, anarchy and vigilantism. The movie is a remake of Tamil Film Ramanaa (2002) helmed by A.R.Murugadoss which was a runaway hit paving way for its remake in Telugu (2003) as well as Kannada (2005). It is really surprising that this film caught the fancy of Hindi film producers so late i.e. after 12 years of its release especially when Bollywood has been churning out Southern remakes at a rapid pace, lately. Time and again Bollywood has churned out movies that have dealt with the social issues. Sometimes the Politicians have been blamed, sometimes the police force, sometimes the medical services have come under line of fire and sometimes it is a single point of blame - SYSTEM. But who makes the system ? Is it just a name as above or it constitutes of each & every individual who consciously or unconsciously becomes a part of the system. This is a question that director Krish aims to answer in his magnum opus "Gabbar Is Back". Corruption is that illegitimate child, which nobody wanted but it still took birth, grew up and took a gigantic shape. It has somehow become an invisible yet inseparable part of our system as it exists in various forms. It is for sure that we don't like it, but the question is do we try and fight against it ? All of us have become so busy in our day to day affairs that most of us have accepted corruption as a part of system and neglect it to the core when it comes to fighting against it on a personal level. We don't want it but neglect it when we want to get our work done at the earliest. Come on man, we don't have time, just get the bloody work done somehow even if it involves greasing the palms of the officials concerned. So, before criticizing the system and Government machinery for being corrupt, we need to peep inside us and take a reality check as to how we have succumbed in front of this system for our own selfish gains instead of fighting against it. Most of us when confronted with this question will have a tailor made answer ready with them....How can one single person bring about a change. But, if one person takes the initiative and puts his front foot forward to eradicate corruption by challenging the system, many others might follow suit paving the way for a change. And, this is what Akshay Kumar precisely does in Gabbar is back by waging a war against rampant corruption in the society. In this action thriller, director Krish has portrayed that how a common man performs extraordinary feats to ensure that justice is done. He instills a sense of fear in the minds of wrong doers with the usage of his P.W.D i.e.Power Waala Danda. The movie showcases that when pushed to extreme corners, even a common man be dangerous. "Don't underestimate the power of a common man"....the dialogue seems filmy. Definitely yes, but with the apt direction of Krish and power packed performance of Akshay Kumar you not only begin to believe in on-screen proceedings but also get inspired by them. You begin to believe in the power of Gabbar, though he is not a superhero like Superman or Batman but is strong enough to eradicate the corrupt from the society : be it bribe seeking collectors or other corrupt law enforcers. And one more thing, his mantra is simple : don't chastise the corrupt but straight away eliminate them. Suffice to say, Gabbar is Back is typical commercial potboiler with all the quintessential elements of a formulaic film but its theme and treatment make it a good one time watch.  

STORY & SCREENPLAY  (SPOILERS AHEAD)                                                                           ::    The credit for the story has been given to A.R.Murugadoss as he is the one who wrote the original Tamil film "Ramanna" of which this movie is a remake. The additional screenplay as well as dialogues of this movie have been penned down by Rajat Arora who has done a good job out of it. He has structured the screenplay in such a way that it adheres to populism which will be appreciated by masses and further laden it with some real hard hitting dialogues against unbridled corruption. And, to his advantage he has Akshay Kumar mouthing those dialogues with such ferocious power evoking aplenty of passion & emotions in the audience. Like he says. "Ye system bachon ke diaper jaisa ho gaya hai......Kahin se dheela aur kahin se geela" and you can hear the applause coming in form of claps from the audience.  Rajat Arora who has proven his writing finesse in the past by writing powerful & well acclaimed dialogues for "The Dirty Picture"& "Once Upon a time in Mumbai" introduces the protagonist of this film as " Naam se villain, Kaam se Hero". The movie is set in Maharashtra where the system is so rotten that Government officials openly accept bribes, Cops are busy savoring Samosas with red chutney and private hospitals are so much into minting money that they perform operations on a patient who is already dead. A commoner who has been pushed to extremes decides to stand against all this and uses the name of a cult film character "Gabbar" to shield his real identity. Though, there are several glitches in the screenplay but the fast pace of the movie overrides them. The movie begins with kidnapping of 10 tehsildars in Maharashtra pressing a panic button in Police force and soon one of them is found hung on a pole with some files &  Audio C.D. tied to his body. When cops take down the body along with files and C.D., they are amazed to find that the files contain records of all the corrupt deeds conducted by the dead Tehsildar. When they play the C.D, they hear the voice of a man who introduces himself as Gabbar and warns them that this is just the beginning and more corrupt officials will be eliminated in future. Cut next, the scene shifts to National College where Professor Aditya (Akshay Kumar) is teaching five elements of survival to his students. While he is driving at night, Devaki (Shruti Haasan) signals him to stop as a pregnant lady has to be rushed to a hospital who delivers the baby in his car only. After this incident, Devaki and Aditya become friends going out on coffee dates. Meanwhile, a collector is kidnapped and his body is found again with files and audio C.D. Cops decide not to leak the contents of CD to media but it is sent to media by Gabbar himself making him a hero in the eyes of common people who feel that someone has the guts to stand up and act against the corrupt. While the cops are lurking in the dark about identity of Gabbar, one of the constables by the name of Sadhu (Sunil Grover) starts investigating and collecting clues about him. But, since he is a constable, none of his superiors take him seriously and make mockery of him. While walking along with Aditya, Devaki gets injured in a freak accident and on reaching hospital Aditya realizes how hospital authorities are fleecing the patients. He conducts a sting operation on their unscrupulous activities and leaks it to media. An irate crowd gathers outside hospital and a melee ensues there in which son of the owner of Hospital dies. The owner of the hospital is a big industrialist by the name of Digvijay Patil  (Suman Talwar) who gets shattered due to death of his son and wants to seek revenge. On watching Aditya in the CCTV footage, he is shell shocked as Aditya is the same man whom he had killed five years ago. Flashback begins where Aditya was married to Kareena Kapoor Khan (cameo) who dies when a building complex collapses which was owned by Digvijay. Aditya collects all evidences to nail Digvijay but is unable to do so as all Government officials are hand in glove with him. A fight ensues between the two and Digvijay hits Aditya with a iron rod leaving him for dead. But, Aditya is saved by some students and hereafter begins the journey of Aditya turning into Gabbar to weed out corrupt. Meanwhile, more corrupt officials are kidnapped and eliminated paving the way for Government to appoint an efficient CBI Officer ( Jaideep Ahlawat) to crack this case and nab Gabbar. While other Cops are in a tight spot with no information, Jaideep is amazed to see the clues that Constable Sadhu has collected to nab Gabbar and starts working on them. Will the real identity of Gabbar get revealed, Will the cops be able to tighten their noose around him, Will Gabbar be able to take revenge from Digvijay or Will Gabbar come out in open and expose himself is what forms the rest of the story.              

STARCAST                                                                                                     ::            A special mention of Anmol Ahuja & Abhishek Banerjee (Casting directors) for choosing the apt starcast as all the actors have been perfectly cast as per their characters in the movie. Although, it won't be wrong to say that the movie belongs to Akshay Kumar. With his dynamic portrayal of Aditya / Gabbar, a vigilante leading from the front, Akshay Kumar gives ample proof that he has really matured as an actor. After Special 26, Holiday & Baby, he seems to be on a roll and in all these movies he has played the role of a protagonist who is out to weed out corruption albeit in different avatars. I can not think of any other star who could have played this role with such ease and conviction. He is one actor who has both massy as well as classy fan following and when he mouths those dialogues against corruption, they reverberate in your mind drawing loud cheers from audience. He looks equally convincing and at ease while he is preaching about the ill effects of rampant corruption prevalent in the society or mouthing dialogues like..Gabbar ke Taap se tumhein ek hi aadmi bacha sakta hai....Khud Gabbar. Khiladi Kumar is at his best in this movie and he has carried the movie single-handedly on his broad shoulders. Shruti Haasan looks beautiful but Alias ! the limitations of her character restrict her to be just a glam doll and add to the oomph factor of the movie. She shows sparks of being a fine actor despite her screen time  being limited. Watch out for her intensity in the scene where she rebukes Ahlawat for locking up, beating students & aides of Gabbar. Another actor who surprises you with his fine performance is Sunil Grover as Constable Sadhu. We have seen him lighting up the small screen by playing the role of Gutthi in "Comedy Nights With Kapil' and making people laugh to their wits end. Here, he plays a serious character and pulls it off with full might. You really feel for him when he becomes a butt of jokes of his superiors despite his genuine efforts to crack the case. Jaideep Ahlawat once again proves how fine an actor he is by playing the role of CBI officer to pitch perfection. His firm body language, mannerisms are in stark contrast to the negative character that he portrayed in his earlier flick "Commando".  It takes a while for you to ascertain that he is the same actor who played that casual, rogue character in "Commando"...these are hallmarks of a fine actor. Suman Talwar as Digvijay Patil gets ample of screen time to showcase his skills but he fails to impress as his acting is too loud which is reminiscent of his performances in South Indian movies. Moreover, his frequent attempts at glorifying himself by saying " Digvijay Singh Ek Brand Hai" begin to irritate you after a certain juncture. Another actor, who manages to impress you with his performance is Vikas Shrivastava who stands tall amongst the coterie of Cops trying to solve the case of Gabbar. He is another fine actor who needs to be seen more frequently on big screen with more meatier roles. Kareena Kapoor Khan & Chitrangdha Singh light up the screen with their cameos which are restricted to songs itself.  

TECHNICAL FINESSE                                                                            ::   The soundtrack of the movie that has been composed by Chirantan Bhatt, Yo Yo Honey Singh & Manj Music has got catchy tracks packaged in it. "Teri Meri Kahani" sung by Arijit Singh & Palak Muchal is easy and pleasant to listen and "Aao Raja" sung by Neha Kakkar, Yo Yo Honey Singh along with Teflon is typical Bollywoodish catchy number. The background music of the movie has been composed by Amar Mohile who has done a fine job out of it. The BGM of this movie is not that loud and jarring which is usually the case with movies of this genre but is apt enough to provide a further propulsion to the visual commentary of the movie. Indeed, another real Hero of this entertaining film on the violent end of that much-abused emotion called Humanity, is cinematographer Nirav Shah. Nirav's unerring eye for a detailed lush and vivid emotional and physical landscape has made this movie a visual treat for your eye balls. The movie has been edited by Rajesh Pandey who has kept the run-time of the movie to 130 minutes. The editing of the movie is racy, taut and the movie never comes across preachy despite the fact that the subject of the movie has an underlying tone of the same. Another person who deserves a special mention is Stunt Shiva who is the action coordinator of the movie. He has orchestrated some real high octane stunts and fight sequences which are a treat for action lovers. As a director, Radhakrishna Jagarlamudi (Krish) has proven his mettle by making an entertaining remake of "Ramanaa". It is not an easy job to make a perfectly balanced & entertaining remake because the original film serves as a hard benchmark while filming the remake. It is tough to replicate something while maintaining the interest of audience in the same. Krish has done this job to a more-than-satisfying extent. Krish has ably kept the pace of narrative racy so that glitches in the screenplay are covered up and given most of the screen time to Akshay who has utilized it to optimum. 

CONCLUSION                                                                                                ::  GABBAR IS BACK but this time not as an antagonist but as a protagonist with the will to weed out corrupt from the system. It is a high-voltage drama, full on masala entertainer  amalgamated with the biggest issue of prevalent times ; corruption and is a descent one time watch for its slick pace and a towering performance by Akshay Kumar.

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