Friday, 28 August 2015

Phantom :: Movie Review

Phantom helmed by Kabir Khan is an efficacious edge-of-the seat thriller with enough twists and turns which not only keeps audience hooked in till the end credits roll out but also makes you believe in the movie's tagline i.e. "A story you wish were true".  The movie raises a pertinent point in context to horrific 26/11 attacks that jolted the city of Mumbai in 2008. Phantom raises the point how justice has been denied to the victims with none of the masterminds behind the blast having been caught, let alone convicted despite Indian authorities knowing their names as well as their present locations. The point that Phantom seems to make is that it isn't just trained killing machines, but also the nation as a whole, that can, and should, do 'anything', concomitant damage be darned. Can't have hate-spewing terrorists hiding in our neighboring country threatening our sovereign nation, can we ?  Phantom unabashedly reinforces the mainstream media's worst stereotypes and constantly plays on the collective fears of a populace that is only too willing to find and hang scapegoats for the troubles of our contentious times. There are numerous references to attacks of 26/11, U.S. killing Osama Bin Laden in Abbottabad (Pakistan), and to other actual figures and incidents that have made the headlines in recent times. It is pertinent to mention here that as a director, Kabir Khan has done thorough research on the subject before making this movie which reflects on-screen. Kabir Khan's 'Phantom' is a mixture of old school Bollywood formula, slick modern execution and bouts of intense suspense with some bombastic, social commentary. It has reasonably realistic depiction of spy work shot at some sane locales of Syria, Gulmarg, Oval cricket ground in Lambeth, Vancouver giving it much required authentic look. Phantom ups the body count and delivers the goods when it comes to gritty action, non-stop thrills coupled with style. What mainly works here is sense of urgency. The movie's protagonist sticks to the mission and even though he's larger than life, he remains in a fairly realistic mode. Overall, Phantom is perfectly eccentric action thriller - a seemingly intelligent slice of Cinema that delivers several crowd pleasing moments of action mayhem that include cocktail of chase scenes, intrigue and espionage.          

STORY & SCREENPLAY (SPOILERS AHEAD)              ::                         The movie is based on author Hussain Zaidi's book Mumbai Avengers on the aftermath of 26/11 Mumbai attacks. The story as well as screenplay of the movie have been penned down by Kabir Khan, Parveez Shaikh in coordination with Hussain Zaidi's book.  The screenplay of the movie has got several layers attached to it with lot of thriller elements and surprises thrown in at several junctures which work superbly in favor of this flick. The film begins with actual footage of 26/11 shown on screen. Cut next, car of Daniyal Khan (Saif Ali Khan) is hit from behind by a person and a car chase ensues on streets of Chicago. After a heated argument and scuffle, the man is plunged into icy water of a river by Daniyal for which he is arrested. This is followed by an array of flashback sequences throwing light on Daniyal's past. Daniyal used to work for Indian army and after being court martialled, he is living a secluded life. Meanwhile, a Pakistani terrorist is caught trying to sneak in on Indian soil. India's RAW comes to know that Pakistan based terrorist group is planning another attack on India. When RAW's chief Roy (Sabyasachi Chakrabarty) is discussing about this with his team, a newly recruited sharp and intelligent RAW officer Samit Mishra (Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub) comes up with a plan. He suggests that an operative be sent on a covert mission to eliminate all those masterminds who were behind 26/11 attacks. He believes that this would be a lesson for all the terrorist groups and would instill a sense of fear in them. Since this is a covert operation without the approval of Indian Govt., so no member of RAW would be involved in this and all the assassinations should look like natural or accidental deaths. They begin searching for the right man for this job and their search ends at Daniyal Khan. They choose him because Daniyal is an ex army officer who is not only trained enough to carry out this covert operation but also is off radar as he is living a secluded life. After much persuasion and to regain his past glory (dismissed from Army), Daniyal agrees to do the job. At the onset of mission, he catches up with Nawaz (Katrina Kaif) in U.K. Nawaz who earlier used to work for RAW, now works as a security consultant and also works on special assignments for Indian Intelligence. Nawaz helps Daniyal in tracking down his first target. Daniyal is ably successful in eliminating two of the perpetrators in US. and U.K. Soon, a chemistry develops between Daniyal and Nawaz who now enter Pakistan to kill the remaining and main perpetrators. Meanwhile, Pakistan Intelligence comes to know about Daniyal's involvement in the killings and his entry into Pakistan and they go all out to nab him. Will Daniyal be able to accomplish the mission, Will he and Nawaz be able to come out alive from Pakistan is what forms the rest of the story.  

STARCAST                                                                            ::                   I would like to applaud Honey Trehan (Casting Director) of Phantom for choosing the appropriate actors as per their characterizations. Each and every actor, however small his/her part might have been has been able to leave an impact while portraying the character on-screen. This is Saif Ali Khan's most credible performance in a long time, and reminds us the actor he can be. Saif stays true to his character, never once loosing control, be it in his expressions, demeanor or attitude. He's razor sharp and there's never a dull moment when he is on screen. From his dialogue delivery to his body language, Saif is spot on. Saif has fared exceptionally well during action sequences too. Katrina Kaif not only looks ravishing but also gets to prove her mettle as an actress in Phantom. Katrina is effortlessly enigmatic as Nawaz who works on special assignments for Indian intelligence. Katrina lends a crackling and corrosively sharp edge to to the central character of a tough-as-nails woman when dragged into mug's game. Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub is one fine actor who is proving his versatility as an actor with every subsequent film of his. After his quirky portrayal in TWMR, slapstick Cheema in last week's release 'All Is Well', Zeeshan is back with an impeccable performance in Phantom. He is one of those rare versatile actors who gets deep unto the skin of his character and comes with an effective performance as per the role assigned to him. It is real treat watching him perform as Samit Mishra in this movie. Sabyasachi Chakrabarty has given an earnest performance as RAW chief and portrayed his character with utmost conviction.  

TECHNICAL FINESSE                                                ::                  The musical soundtrack of the movie that has been composed by Pritam Chakraborty is average with one of the tracks 'Afghan Jalebi' standing out amongst others. Julius Packiam's background score is the heartbeat of Phantom as it instills the necessary emotions at the opportune moments in the course of narrative. The cinematographer of the movie is Aseem Mishra who has done an outstanding job as Phantom is definitely one of the best shot and visually appealing films in recent times. The movie has been shot across Beirut, Gulmarg, Lambeth and Vancouver, hence providing him a bigger canvas to showcase his skills and Oh Boy! Aseem has grabbed the opportunity with both his hands and delivered enchanting vistas. His lens has captured every location beautifully and Aseem has captured every sequence with such grandeur, scale that it enlightens the experience of watching a high adrenaline film. Some of the aerial shots captured by him are a treat to watch. Aseem has ably captured lot of scenes on live locations like bursting streets to keep the authenticity of the script intact. A special mention of Rajat Poddar & Sukant Panigrahy for their effective contribution as Production Designers. I would also like to applaud the work of Sham Kaushal (Action Director) of Phantom for he has orchestrated not only the best of raw action but some high octane stunts in the movie. Suffice to say, Sham's well choreographed action and chase sequences are one of the major highlights of Phantom. Sham has truly delivered the goods when it comes to action sequences. The editor of the movie is Aarif Sheikh who has kept the run-time of movie to 147 minutes. His editing is racy, taut and never provides for a dull moment throughout the movie.  As a director, Kabir Khan has made an edge-of-the seat film that is at par with any mega budget Hollywood thriller you've seen. He's displayed his mastery over the craft via his earlier flicks like Ek Tha Tiger, Bajrangi Bhaijaan but with Phantom, he pushes the envelope further. There are certain limitations in the story but Kabir keeps the screenplay so tight that there's not a single dreary moment. Kabir has added scale to the movie wherever required and that adds magnitude to the movie. The best part about Kabir Khan's directorial skills is that he gets straight to the point right from the word go and manages to entertain the audience without adding any extra frivolous elements in Phantom. 

CONCLUSION                                                                  ::            Phantom is puissant thriller cladded with some real high octane action coupled with exceptional cinematography. It's a movie which stays true to its genre and subject making it a good one time plausible watch making you think ' A story you wish were true '. 

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Friday, 21 August 2015

Manjhi The Mountain Man :: Movie Review

                                              Image result for 4 1/2 stars
Manjhi - The Mountain Man is a inspiring cult biopic that chronicles the life events of Dashrath Manjhi essayed by a plausible Nawazuddin Siddiqui and crafted eloquently by Ketan Mehta making it a compelling watch. It's quite sad & disheartening that most of our writers and filmmakers keep on weaving tales around fictional heroes and making films on them whilst ignoring the real life heroes of India like Dashrath Manjhi. So, to begin with Salutations to Ketan Mehta for his genuine intentions in giving silver screen shape to the heroic deeds of one of the many unsung heroes of India i.e. Dashrath Manjhi. Had Ketan Mehta not helmed this movie, many from the present generation would have been deprived of coming to know about the heroic feat of this ordinary man who cut a mountain single- handedly over a period of 22 years for the sake of his love. The beautiful irony of Dashrath Manji's life that this consummate biopic captures so ably, is that he really didn't aspire to anything, he did it simply because of the compelling circumstances and by the virtue of his personal traits. Coming to his traits, it will be gross injustice to his exemplary traits if I continue my review without giving you an insight on them. The movie ably showcases all of them during its run-time & I would elaborate on some of them :
Selfless Eternal Love : We have heard of several legendary love stories where the lover gets killed or kills himself/herself for the sake of love but here is a lover who died a thousand deaths during a span of 22 years while cutting down a mountain that was responsible for his wife's death. He did this to ensure that no one else in the village has to go through same hardship in future.
Will-power : No one imagined or dared to cut down a  treacherous mountain just by using a chisel and a hammer but Dashrath Manjhi with his will power made it possible.
Determination : Dashrath faced innumerable hardships while cutting down the mountain which have been depicted in the movie but with his strong determination, he managed to complete the task in 22 years.
Perseverance : He was frequently taunted by others who even called him mad. He was cheated by Government officials who siphoned off the grant allocated for cutting the mountain and even put him behind the bars but nothing could relent him from completing the task.      
In a nutshell, it's a solid biopic drama by Ketan Mehta , one that doesn't unnecessarily glorify it's subject. Yes, it shows Dashrath Manjhi's extraordinary achievement but it doesn't portray him like a cliched cinematic hero. But apart from Ketan we must not forget one name who has made this movie a not to be missed Biopic i.e. Nawazuddin Siddiqui. Nawazuddin doesn't 'play' Manjhi. The actor occupies Manjhi's mind body & soul and he has delivered a superlative outstanding performance for which he deserves an ovation. 

STORY & SCREENPLAY (SPOILERS AHEAD)           ::                The story as well as screenplay of the movie has been penned down by Ketan Mehta & Mahendra Jakhar  History is created in several ways and one of them is Cinema. And if Ketan Mehta's Manjhi-The Mountain Man seems like a near flawless homage to the relentless spirit of India's unsung Hero, it is partly because the story, so nimbly woven into a pastiche of drama, emotion, humor, pathos, inspiring love by Ketan & Mahendra, who show no hurry to keep pace with on-screen Manjhi's breathless spirit. The story about indomitable spirit of Manjhi unfolds in this exceptional biopic at its own volition. The synergy in telling the story seems subliminal. Still. we the audience, fed week after week on mediocrity masquerading as cinema, are riveted to the story of Dashrath Manjhi for over two hours of playing time. The writers have paid due attention to minute details of Manjhi's milieu, culture and the politics of class and caste-ism. To top it all, the movie has been peppered with some real hard hitting dialogues like " Bahgwan ke bharose mat baitho, ka pata wo humre bharose baitha ho". The film begins in Gehlaur (Bihar) with Dashrath Manjhi (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) challenging a mountain to break it down. After that the film keeps on oscillating between past and present showcasing the life events of Dashrath Manjhi. While young Dashrath is married in childhood, his father (Ashraful Haq) decides to sell him off to village Mukhiya (Tigmanshu Dhulia) as bonded labor due to non payment of taxes. Young Dashrath runs away from home to Dhanbad where he works in Coal mines. He returns back to his native place after 7 years and on his way back meets Phaguniya (Radika Apte), falls in love with her and marries her. One fine day, Phaguniya falls from a mountain and dies on the way to hospital because a big mountain separates the village from the hospital. The death of his wife jolts Manjhi so much so that he decides to break down the mountain on his own with a help of a chisel and hammer. Hereafter, the movie depicts the hardships faced by Manjhi in order to break down the mountain.

STARCAST                                                                                  ::                  Kudos to Vijai Singh (Casting Director) of the movie for choosing the effective actors who have further portrayed their respective characters with utmost conviction. Each n every actor chosen by Vijai Singh has contributed to the movie by giving earnest and realistic performance. Needless to say, Nawazuddin Siddiqui is the soul of this movie. To his credit, we are not able to locate Nawazuddin Siddiqui in the movie but only Dashrath Manjhi. He truly lives through his role and portrays a myriad number of expressions in the movie. Right from the carefree Dashrath who falls in love with Phaguniya to the determined Manjhi who takes up the challenge to break up the mountain, Nawazuddin hits the right notes every single time. It's not a mean task to depict a lifespan of a character without going overboard but with his immense talent, Nawazuddin makes it looks effortless. It's definitely award(s) winning performance by him. Radhika Apte once again proves her acting prowess by portraying the character of Phaguniya to hilt. Radhika Apte, who although has a short but powerful role has once again managed to impress and that too as a village belle. She looks every inch the feisty, charming young woman that she is supposed to portray on-screen. Radhika is on an up-spree and is proving her versatility as an actress as her character in this movie is in stark contrast to the characters she played in her last 2 flicks i.e. Badlapur & Hunterrr. Tigmanshu Dhulia makes his presence felt as Mukhiya of the village. His firm body language, dialect and facial expressions make him pitch perfect for the character he has essayed in the movie. Pankaj Tripathi is another fine actor who manages to leave a impression as Mukhiya's son. He is assiduously convincing as lecherous, sordid upper caste antagonist with a glutinous smile embedded over his face. Late Ashraful Haq who died recently has done a commendable job while portraying the character of Dashrath's father. He has ably emoted the worries and concerns of a father regarding stability of his son. Prashant Narayannan proves his acting caliber by playing an effective cameo in the movie. He is one actor who needs to be seen more frequently on big screen. Gaurav Dwivedi has given an earnest & praiseworthy performance as the upright journalist. Gaurav not only convincingly looks every inch the character that he is supposed to portray on-screen but his interactions with Nawazuddin are a treat to watch. Gaurav  perfectly imbibes the features of a typical semi-urban journo and is a talent to watch out for. Not to forget, Deepa Sahi Mehta who in her effective cameo plays the role of Late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in the most graceful manner.

TECHNICAL FINESSE                                                               ::           The musical soundtrack as well as background music of the movie that has been composed by Sandesh Sandaliya is excellent and absolutely in tandem with the inspiring theme of the movie. The cinematography by Rajiv Jain is immensely gratifying as his camera glides across Manjhi's inner and outer world searching for a meeting point between the two worlds through visuals that suggest a comfortable kinship between feelings and their geopolitical counter-point. We often see Manjhi on-screen in situations where his emotional world is manifested in interaction with mountain around him. Rajiv has done a swell job of capturing visuals. A special mention of Nitin Chandrakant Desai (Production Designer) & Wafisha Rahman (Costume Designer) for their effective contribution in their respective fields. The movie has been edited by Pratik Chitalia who has kept the run-time of the movie to 120 minutes. The brilliant unsparing editor Pratik follows no predictable pattern which is something daring but has worked well and paid off. The film has been very stylishly cut by Pratik but not at the cost of loosing that simplicity, the innate asceticism of the unsung hero. Director Ketan Mehta has undoubtedly given a befitting tribute to India's unsung hero Dashrath Manjhi by making a cult biopic with a mix of myriad emotions that will evoke a range of sentiments in your heart while watching this movie. An average director with cinematic palate and sensibilities could have easily fallen into the trap of glorifying Manjhi's achievement. But Ketan has chosen to portray emotions over victory and hardships over glory of his protagonist to narrate an absorbing tale. There are no exaggerated dramatic flourishes here, no playing to the galleries.    

CONCLUSION                                                                             ::          All in all, Ketan Mehta's Manjhi - The Mountain Man is certainly a movie worth watching for many reasons. The movie makes an earnest attempt to tell a biopic in an engaging and the most sincere way it could have been told.  One of the most touching & inspiring love stories backed up by bravura performances and eloquent direction needs to be seen on Big Screen.  I am giving it 4 1/2 stars out of 5. 

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Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Singh Is Bliing :: Official Trailer

Watch the Official trailer of "Singh is Bling" starring Akshay Kumar. The movie brings back the formidable duo of Akshay Kumar & Prabhu Deva back after their last successful flick Rowdy Rathore.   

Monday, 17 August 2015

Dildariyaan :: Official Trailer

Sharing the Official Trailer of upcoming Punjabi Flick "Dildariyaan" directed by Pankaj Batra. Pankaj who has earlier helmed "Naughty Jatts" & "Goreyan Nu Daffa Karo" promises to take audience on a joyride with this upcoming flick of his which is touted as funniest, exciting yet very routed love story. 

Friday, 14 August 2015

Brothers :: Movie Review

Brothers helmed by Karan Malhotra has everything you could possibly want from an inspirational-but-grounded sports movie ; Brooding themes of brotherhood, redemption and guilt, a scrappy underdog beating the odds and of course the Big Competition at the end. A lot of this works ; director Karan Malhotra knows his sports movie tropes well, and how to to hit them to maximize their impact. The film pertinently works because of Karan's obvious affection for sports movies cliches (he has an affinity for extreme closeups of fighters' sweaty, blooded, anguished-but-proud faces that does the trick every time) and mostly, excellent performances by most of the actors. The big competition at the end is undeniably exciting --and the fight scenes are shot in a way that makes sense whether you're a Mixed Martial Arts fan or not. Brothers, an official remake of Hollywood flick Warrior (2011) is quintessentially a tale of two estranged brothers. One brother's a school teacher who struggles to keep home and family together in hard economic times. The other's a brooding brute, home from the war, living with his long estranged father. Both grown men have daddy issues, issues hinted at in bitter, perfunctory conversations between the brute and his recovering alcoholic of a father. The film's sports-movie journey takes us to the big winner-take-all tourney that both brothers enter, each with a need to win. That destination is entertaining, but it is the journey and the people who take it that recommend this fine film. Brothers depicts a tale of remission and restitution primarily as physical confrontation between two antagonized brothers who have strayed apart due to a deplorable event in their childhood. While the first half is an emotional tale having some standout scenes like when Jackie comes to Akshay's place to ask for forgiveness and Jacqueline allows him to catch a glimpse of his granddaughter. And, when young Sidharth is accorded a warm welcome into Fernandez household by young Akshay and Shefali Shah who sings a birthday song for him. The second half is where all the action unfolds with your adrenaline pumping. Brothers is amalgamation of some heavy duty typical Bollywood melodrama with Mixed Martial Arts that has been supported by earnest performances and exceptional fight sequences making it a descent one time watch for Cine-lovers.   

STORY & SCREENPLAY                                       ::                       Since Brothers is a official remake of  Hollywood flick Warrior, the credit for writing the story has been given to Gavin O'Connor along with Cliff Dorfman who wrote the original story for Warrior (2011) where as the credit for adapted screenplay has been given to Ekta Pathak Malhotra. Keeping penchant of Indian Cine audience in mind, Ekta has tweaked the screenplay and spruced up the script with lot of drama and emotional quotient where the audience feels involved in the story. Apart from a tearful Jackie catching glimpse of his granddaughter for the first time or young Akshay welcoming a visibly disturbed young Sidharth into his house, Ekta slowly cooks up the camaraderie between the two estranged brothers towards the climax and also the scene where Jackie Shroff is pushed off by a fighter enraging his estranged son Akshay Kumar. These are the moments that will draw applause from Indian audience. The movie begins with Peter Breganza (Kiran Kumar) announcing that he is going to organize a world renowned R2F (Right to Fight) tournament which comprises of MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) in India. Simultaneously, we see Gary Fernandez (Jackie Shroff) getting released from jail after serving a sentence for accidentally killing his wife Maria (Shefali Shah). He is received at the gate by his son Monty (Sidharth Malhotra). His other son David Fernandez ( Akshay Kumar) is a physics teacher & married to Jenny (Jacqueline Fernandez ) and has a daughter whom he has named Maria. The irony is that David's daughter is suffering from a serious kidney ailment and that is the reason why he is forced to opt for underground street fights to raise more funds for her treatment. Gary goes to David's house to seek forgiveness for his past deeds but David is relentless. It is than that through a series of flashbacks we are taken into the past of  Fernandez family and to the events that led to Maria's demise. Gary was a name to reckon with when it came to MMA and his sons have imbibed the same qualities. With the announcement of R2F, both brothers sign up and qualify for the tournament having their own personal reasons. While David wants to win the tournament for the sake of its prize money which is 9 Crores so that he can raise funds for his ailing daughter, Monty is in it to prove himself as a better fighter and earn more respect in eyes of his father. What is the reason behind sour relation between two brothers, Will David forgive his father for his past mistakes, Will both brothers face each other in the tournament and who will eventually win the tournament is what forms the rest of the story.  

STARCAST                                                                ::            A round of applause for Panchami Ghavri (Casting Director) who has chosen the apt starcast who have further portrayed their characters to the hilt as it is more of a performance oriented film. Jackie Shroff as Gary Fernandez has come up with one of his finest performances in Brothers. Gary reeks of desperation ; he's on a crusade for forgiveness and to salvage a connection with his sons. When we arrive into the life of former volatile violent alcoholic Gary, he's gentle, subdued but subtly exudes an intense temper ; he's tortured and it's etched on Jackie Shroff's face. Jackie's performance is powerful, redemptive and heart breaking. As David, Akshay Kumar's physical presence is astounding which intimidates his opponents. Akshay has ably portrayed the character of David who's another fractured and tortured soul, unable to forgive his father's past indiscretions. It's quite heartening to watch Akshay leaving his Khiladi antics behind and delivering fine, substantial performances lately. There's a fluent dexterity in his body language when he is fighting or training making his act a treat to watch in the movie.  Sidharth Malhotra's 'every man' underdog Monty is a fighter in every sense of the world. Sidharth's face looks like a fighters face. Though Monty is a brooding brute but fiercely determined. Monty rides the underdog arc but Sidharth Malhotra gives it the necessary reality so much so that it doesn't feel manufactured. Sidharth deserves a round of applause for developing the apt physique required as per his character and further on portraying his character with right amount of intensity. Jacqueline Fernandez not only looks like a million bucks but portrays her character with utmost conviction. She has played the role of a mother for the first time and has done full justice with her character. Jacqueline is slowly but steadily making her presence felt in the film fraternity with by delivering fine performances. Shefali Shah performs her cameo in the movie with shrill theatricality which speaks volumes about her acting finesse. Shefali proves that length of a role is not a necessity to leave a lasting impression. Same goes for Ashutosh Rana. Ashutosh is one of those versatile, natural actors who always manages to leave a impression with his acting skills. Amongst ensemble starcast, noticeable performances have been delivered by Kiran Kumar, Kareena Kappor, Harsh Suri & Meghan Jadhav.
TECHNICAL FINESSE                                                    ::                            The musical soundtrack of the movie that has been composed by Ajay-Atul is average with one of the songs "Mera Naam Mary Hai" making it to the chart busters. The cinematographer of the movie is Hemant Chaturvedi who has done an excellent job. Plenty of credit for the tonal correctness of the movie must go to the cinematographer of the movie i.e. Hemant Chaturvedi who has captured stunning visuals with the roving eye of his lens. His camera has not only captured the exceptional fight sequences with aplomb but his usage of color palettes as per the requirement of the scenes is praiseworthy. A special mention of Suresh Selvarajan (Production Designer) for his brilliant contribution in his field. The movie has been edited by Akiv Ali who has kept the run-time of movie to 158 minutes. Some people might find the pace of the movie to be languid in the first half and find fault in the editing but I feel it was necessary to for the felicitous introduction of characters.  As a director, Karan Malhotra has proven his mettle via his last flick which was a remake of Agneepath. This time too he decided to helm a remake albeit of Hollywood flick Warrior. I've always held the viewpoint that it's not an easy job to helm a balanced and entertaining remake as the original film serves as a hard benchmark while filming the movie. But Karan Malhotra has been able to do the same effectively not once but twice. He has ably extracted the best from his cast n crew. Karan's eye for detailing can be attributed as his strongest point as in every scene, the ambiance he sets, the mood he creates, the pitch of it all shows the director's potential with regard to attaining finesse in the matter at hand.

CONCLUSION                                                              ::           A bare-fisted sports thriller with lots of Bollywood drama thrown in, 'Brothers' pits two brothers on a collision course with destiny, in ring.  It's a descent one time watch for brilliant amalgamation of family melodrama with sports background coupled with laudable performances delivered by some of its starcast.

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Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Shaandaar :: Official movie trailer

Watch the official promo of Vikas Bahl's much anticipated "Shaandaar". 

Friday, 7 August 2015

Bangistan :: Movie Review

Bangistan produced by Excel Fims and directed by Karan Anshuman is a spoof / satire on religious fanatics which works predominantly in parts as the film keeps on oscillating between being a satire and a preachy film on religious harmony. Karan Anshuman who has been a renowned film critic fails to impress much with his debut outing as a director. He had a good script at hand infused with some relevant messages for today's times but unfortunately he could not translate it unto on-screen eloquently. The problem with the movie is that it tries too hard to be funny and that's the reason why most of the gags fall flat. The movie is based in a fictional land called Bangistan where religious fanatics are luring and using gullible citizens to propagate their hidden agenda of hatred. In Bangistan, Hindus and Muslims hate each other to the core and some religious leaders take advantage of this hatred for their vested interests. It's not that as a film Bangistan can be written off completely because it has some moments of brilliance but Alias ! they are too few and far. In today's age when terrorism has become a global threat, the movie ably sheds light on how youth are being brainwashed to sacrifice themselves for the sake of their religion. The film raises a pertinent question whether it is wise enough to go to any length for the sake of faith in a religion or be a responsible citizen having faith in humanity. Like when the protagonists of the movie inquire about the religion of a Bangladeshi cab driver in Poland, he replies that he is "Citizen Hussain" having no religion. Similarly, in the film Jacqueline Fernandes says that she follows no religion as humanity is bigger than all religions. So, the movie which looked liked a fun filled laugh riot from its promos works better in sequences where these messages are delivered in a subtle way. Though, the movie has its share of fun moments too with the distinguished ones being ; scene at the airport where both the main protagonists who are in the garb of each others religion express a desire to be searched thoroughly where after being stripped down, they both realize they are wearing identical underpants. Kumud Mishra who is cribbing that USA has given nothing to them asks for a diet Coke. But, the best scene of the movie is where both the protagonists of the movie who are fanatics of two different religions but in garb of each others religion indulge in a verbal spat. Unintentionally, they end up highlighting the goodness of each others religion by reciting verses from the holy books. This standout scene proves that how religion is being mistreated, misread to spread venom of hatred in the society that we are living in.          

STORY & SCREENPLAY (SPOILERS AHEAD)              ::               The story of Bangistan has been penned down by the trio of Puneet Krishna, Sumit Purohit and Karan Anshuman. The script has been written with honest intentions to showcase that two individuals who are fanatics when it comes to their own religion are howbeit humans having same kind of values. How some religious fanatic leaders are misguiding the youth by spreading the venom of hatred for their own political mileage. The intentions of the script were right but the screenplay gets muddled up somewhere between trying to be a satire with a preachy message. The film begins with introduction of a fictitious country by the name of Bangistan where South Bangistan is dominated by Hindus where as North is occupied by Muslims. People of both the parts are full of hatred for each other with killings being the order of the day. Meanwhile, a video call is held between two religious heads of Bangistan namely Imaam (Tom Alter) and Shankracharya (Shiv Subramaniam) who discuss about promoting peace & harmony at 13th World religious conference scheduled to be held at Poland. Now, some religious fanatics have a problem with this and they decide to send suicide bombers to Poland to hog the limelight. In South Bangistan, a devout Hindu and a struggling actor Pravin Chaturvedi (Pulkit Samrat) is chosen by chief (Kumud Mishra) of 'Maa Ka Dal" to be the suicide bomber of their outfit. Similarly, in North Bangistan Hafeez Bin Ali (Riteish Deshmukh) who is an ex call center employee is assigned the same task by chief (Kumud Mishra) of 'Al Kaam Tamaam'. In order to conceal their identities, both suicide bombers rechristen themselves as Pravin becomes AllahRakha and Hafeez becomes Ishwarchand Sharma. Both of them fly off to Poland where they first have a conversation at the airport & than end up being neighbors in the same building. They keep on bumping into each other and eventually become friends. Will Pravin be successful in this suicidal mission or Hafeez, Will they have a change of heart is what forms the rest of the story.      

STARCAST                                                                             ::            Kudos to Abhishek Banerjee and Anmol Ahuja (Casting Directors) for choosing the effective actors sans any big stars who have fitted the bill and portrayed their characters to the hilt. The movie gives ample scope to Riteish Deshmukh to showcase his skills and he grabs the opportunity with both his hands. Riteish has a penchant for comedy and is known for his comic timing in his previous films. But, in this movie Riteish has ably shown his emotional, intense side too along with his funny antics. He has given a earnest performance which makes his character look believable for which he needs to be applauded. Watch out for him in the scene where he has a change of heart and tries to convince Pulkit for not indulging in act of self destruction. He has enacted this role with tremendous amount of subtlety and restraint. Pulkit Samrat has pulled off this role with visceral amount of passion and energy. He has enacted his journey from being a devout Hindu who performs the role of Hanuman in local Ramleela to becoming a suicide bomber with right amount of aggression. Pulkit has perfected fitted into the shoes of his character which demanded him to be preposterous as well as benevolent at the same time. Jacqueline Fernandes has not only looked stunning but manages to impress during her brief stint in the movie. She gets to mouth one of the better dialogues of the movie with pitch perfection and the dialogue is " All religions expect you to be good human being. I try to be that every single day of my life". Wish she could have a meatier part to play in the movie. I've always held Kumud Mishra in high esteem as an actor and he proves me right by portraying dual role in this movie to pitch perfection. He looks equally impressive as Hindu as well as Muslim religious head who is working for his vested interests. Chandan Roy Sanyal who is a versatile actor has given an apt performance as the cab driver. But, the surprise package of the movie has turned out to be Aarya Babbar. Though, he has a short role in the movie but he manages to overshadow everyone whenever he appears on-screen with his perfect comic timing. Aarya is able to raise aplenty of genuine guffaws in the movie which speak volumes about his acting finesse. In the ensemble starcast, noticeable performances have been delivered by Tom Alter, Shiv Subramaniam, Akash Pandey & Aakash Dabhade.    
TECHNICAL FINESSE                                                           ::          The musical soundtrack of the movie that has been composed by Ram Sampath is nothing to write home about as none of the songs stay with you once you exit the theater after watching the movie. Though, the background music of the movie is apt enough to enliven the on-screen proceedings. The cinematographer of the movie is Szymon Lenkowski who has done an astounding job and definitely deserves all the praise for the same. Szymon definitely knows, recognizes, acknowledges and records beauty in every form right from architecture of Poland to sizzling beauty of Jacqueline.. A special mention of Katarzyna Filimoniuk, Amit Ray (Production Designers) and Lukasz Trzcinski (Art Direction) for their effective contribution in their respective fields. The film has been edited by Shweta Venkat who has kept the run-time of the movie to 135 minutes. Though, her editing is crisp but she could have trimmed down some scenes especially in second half. As a director, Karan Anshuman has done a fair job which could have been much better given the potential of script. The biggest flaw of the film is that it lacks consistency and works only in patches. It seems as if somewhere down the line Karan got confused whether to helm an out & out comical satire or a film infused with messages which has affected the final product. Had Karan Anshuman stuck to one chosen line of projection, the result might have been better.  

CONCLUSION                                                                       ::        Bangistan is a prima facie example of how a good script with honest intentions can go haywire if not crafted eloquently. Though, the movie does have its moments where it shows promise but they are too less and too far.

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Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Angrej :: Movie Review

Angrej directed by Simerjit Singh is a well made, ambrosial Punjabi flick which not only satiates the craving of Punjabi Cine audience but is a prima facie example that Punjabi Cinema is evolving in stature with time. The movie makes you nostalgic as it takes into the hinterland of Punjab that existed in 1940's in the most apt manner for which Simerjit Singh & his team deserves a big round of applause. During those times, Falling in love was an obvious forbidden act since the marriages were solemnized in most concealed rituals where brides and grooms were kept visually anonymous from each other. The movie in a jovial way showcases those times when the manner in which lantern used to be blown off by the groom on the first night was the only method to express whether the bride has turned out to be a desired one or not. The story as well as screenplay of Angrej that has been penned down by Amberdeep Singh is a collateral mix of innocent love, emotions, drama, wit, traditional wedding rituals making it a winner all the way. Angrej tells the story of its protagonist Angrej (Amrinder Gill) who dared to love and that too not once but twice during early 1940's. He falls in love heads over heels with a girl Maadho (Aditi Sharma) and meets her at secluded spots with the help of his bosom pal Aslam (Binnu Dhillon). Though, Angrej is madly in love with Maadho but she is not. At the same time, a rich guy by the name of Haakam (Ammy Virk) enters Maadho's life and she gets smitten by him. One fine day, Angrej catches Maadho along with Haakam and his heart gets broken. Maadho tells him that her parents want her to get married in an affluent family. A dejected Angrej finds solace in the company of his friend Aslam who tries his level best to pep him up. Meanwhile, Angrej along with his family travels to another village for the wedding of his cousin. At the wedding, he meets Dhan Kaur (Sargun Mehta) who is a charming, intelligent girl. On observing Angrej's behavior, Dhan Kaur is able to make out that Angej is dejected in love. On top of it, Maadho along with her family arrives at the marriage function. Dhan Kaur who has developed a liking for Angrej tries her level best to make things work out between Angrej and Maadho. Will Angrej & Maadho get married, Will Angrej be able to understand Dhan Kaur's feelings towards him is what forms the rest of the story. On the acting front, Amrinder Gill who proved his acting mettle via his last flick "Goreyan Nu Daffa Karo" is back with a bang. His subtle, restrained act as the main protagonist Angrej is a treat to watch. His innocent face expressions coupled with his dialogue delivery are bound to bring smile to your faces. Amrinder Gill is slowly but steadily honing his acting skills and is proving to be a dark horse in the long run. Do i need to write about acting abilities of Binnu Dhillon ? Binnu can be hailed as king of comic expressions and when it comes to comic timing, he virtually gobbles up everyone else present in the scene. Aditi Sharma who has done some Bollywood movies before, makes her presence felt in Angrej by giving an earnest performance. She has fit into the shoes of a typical Punjabi village girl effortlessly. But the actress who wins you over with her commendable performance in Angrej is Sargun Mehta. Sargun has made a smooth transition from appearing in TV Soaps to Big screen. She has portrayed the character of a strong, intelligent, emotional girl with utmost conviction which speaks volumes about her acting finesse. With her charming exuberance Sargun wins you over and by the time you exit the theater, you have already fallen in love with her character. Ammy Virk has also made his debut with this film and has come out impressive. He lends a certain charm to his flirtatious character with his acting skills. Not to forget, Anita Devgan ( Amrinder's mother) and Sardar Sohi ( Maadho's father) who with their apt comic timing are able to raise many a guffaws in the movie. Another aspect which makes Angrej a winner all the way is its brilliant technical finesse as each of the technical department has delivered the goods to the tee to recreate the bygone era. They have ably conjured up the era of 1940's with usage of perfect props, costumes, sets, dialect and music. The musical soundtrack of the movie composed by Jatinder Shah has all the ingredients in it to make it a chart buster. All the songs are good with "Kurta" standing out amongst others. The movie boasts of some enchanting visuals that have been captured intricately by its cinematographer, Navneet Misser. Navneet's usage of color palettes while filming the movie is audacious enough so as to represent romance in that era. A special mention of Raashid Rangrez (Production Designer) & Manmeet Bindra (Costume Head) for their effective contributions in their respective fields. The movie has been edited by Omkarnath Bhakri who has kept the run-time of movie to 137 minutes. His editing is crisp, wafer tight and never allows a dull moment to appear on screen. Now coming to the captain of the ship i.e. director Simerjit Singh who has really impressed with this movie. He has not ably extracted the best from his cast and crew but also crafted the story line eloquently on-screen. He has ensured the perfect detailing as per the era reflected in the movie and makes you reminiscent about the bygone era about which you have only read or heard. It is not easy to helm a movie that is set in bygone era while maintaining the interest of the audience alive but Simerjit Singh has done it and done it meticulously. Angrej has everything that you want in an entertaining movie ; rock solid content, striking performances, foot tapping music, heart warming banter, cultural values executed in luminous way. So, what are you waiting for......Go & watch Angrej at a theater near you at the earliest. It's a movie not to be missed.       

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