Archive for Hindi

Baahubali – The Conclusion

Before reading my review of Baahubali – The Conclusion, I’d suggest you read my review of Baahubali – The Beginning 

I called Baahubali – The Beginning a half-baked biscuit. Having watched it more than a couple of times in the last two years, I might have eased a bit towards the movie, but I’d still say it could have been so much more. Tell you what, remove the first half of The Beginning, with the folk love story, and we had a winner. Alas!

Come Baahubali – The Conclusion, thankfully we’re done establishing the characters, and seem to have better grip on the script, which helps us delve right into the story. The result – an epic conclusion.

Rajamouli’s “conclusion” starts off right where it ended in the first film, with Kattappa reliving the tale of how Amarendra Baahubali and Bhallala Deva fight off the Kalakeyas, and Amarendra being appointed as the king by Sivagami. Before he takes oath, our soon to be king and Kattappa take off on a kingdom tour, to understand the well-being of the people. On this journey, they run into Devasana, a beautiful fiery damsel, princess of one of the small nearby kingdoms. Amarendra sneaks into their kingdom as a nobody, and soon we have love blossoming. Bhallala interferes, one thing leads to another, and we have the interval bang.

Rajamouli succeeds to keep the entire first half gripping without losing out on the entertainment factor. The grandeur is all there, the visuals are great (barring a couple of terrible graphic blunders), and here is the director we all know about. The second half finally reveals why Kattappa killed Baahubali (#WKKB). While this is for all the obvious reasons and an easy guess for most, Rajamouli showcases it beautifully, intertwining it with some tear-jerking emotions. We’re back to the present day, and like in the first part, the story drags a bit before ending with a clich√©d yet perfect climax. Screenplay is near perfect, and overall, a grand conclusion to years of efforts from Rajamouli and team; an epic saga, but for its minor flaws, could easily be touted as a masterpiece! Don’t get me wrong, the movie has its share of noticeable flaws, but the overall big picture douses them. 

Prabhas excels as Amarendra. He couldn’t have asked for a better characterization, and he performs to the T. While I was not so happy with his looks and performance as Mahendra (Shivudu) in the first part, he ensures that he showcases subtle yet matured variation for this character. Anushka is gorgeous as the feisty princess. Who cares if they’ve digitally sculpted her when she looks so damn beautiful on-screen? And man, everyone knows that she can act. Rana has a limited screen presence, but he makes his presence felt in every aspect with a commendable job. Sathya Raj is very good, while Ramya Krishna and Nassar do justice to their roles. Subba Raju surprises with his cameo. Tamanna, who? Rest of the cast have improved their act.

On technical front, there is tremendous improvement when compared to The Beginning. Music and background score by Keeravani is better. And unlike the first film, almost all the songs are interlinked into the movie. I personally loved the title track and its use as background score. Cinematography by Senthil Kumar is spectacular, as expected. Special mention to the action sequences – they are all perfectly shot. The graphics are better, but a few make you cringe for they looked like scenes from an animation movie. Editing by K V Rao is perfect barring one shot during the climax sequence. Sets are grande, and production values are excellent.

Bottom line.. wait, did Rajamouli and team happen to read my review for Baahubali – The Beginning? They seemed to have improved or even bettered on almost every aspect I’ve highlighted. The story-telling is impeccable, and yes, now we are definitely a part of world cinema. World, look at us! ūüôā

“It‚Äôs disheartening to see a director who took this path falling back and taking the easy road.” 

Rajamouli, I take back my words. You’ve walked the tough road, and succeeded!

Is it worth your time and money?: Oh yes. I can proudly say that Baahubali – The Conclusion is one of the finest works in recent time. Watch it not just for the grandeur but for the amazingly perfect storytelling.   

Efforts are channelled in the right direction, and Baahubali is now an epic.

Worth mention: Direction, storytelling, visuals and production values.
Acting: 8.5/10
Story-Screenplay-Direction: 9/10
Technical Aspects: 8.5/10

Verdict: 8.5/10 + 0.5 for Rajamouli

Now we all know why Kattappa killed Baahubali. ūüôā

PS: I believe a bigger chunk of people loved the first movie better, but this is the winner for me!

Dear Zindagi

dear-zindagi

Four years after her directorial debut, Gauri Shinde is back with what looks like another feel good film. The trailers looked promising, but does Dear Zindagi live up to the expectations? Let’s find out!

Kaira, aka Koko, is a mid-twenties hipster who is struggling with almost everything in her zindagi. Her career as a cinematographer is in doldrums mainly because of her commitment issues with the director of her dream film, her land lord kicks her out from her apartment in Mumbai cos she’s a single girl, and she isn’t happy about moving to her home town Goa because of unresolved issues with her parents. They might not seem like a lot for a commoner, but Koko is burdened by these issues in her zindagi. She unwillingly moves to Goa where she bumps into a dimakh ka doctor (psychiatrist) Jahangir Khan. Though reluctant at first, she opens up to the doctor. With lines like “don’t let the past blackmail your present to ruin a beautiful future” he makes her realise how petty she’s being, and voila, becomes happy with her zindagi.

Gauri tries her best to keep the feel up-beat but fails on more than one occasion. The first half is vibrant yet dramatic, for everyone on-screen is trying too hard to fit into their roles. The film eases a bit in the second half, but the uncannily long therapy sessions makes you feel like you’re sitting in therapy. Her intention of making you feel like that there is always more to life starts to lose charm, and you start yawning (some folks, in fact, left the theatre). Barring these slips, screenplay and direction are alright.

Alia shines as the protagonist. She gives her best performance till date when she opens up in the latter half of the movie. Shah Rukh looks mature and fits the bill perfectly. Thankfully, unlike himself, he’s very subtle. Ira Dubey and Yashaswini Dayama are good as Koko’s friends. On the downside, her parents seemed artificial, primarily because of their pitiable characterisations. 

Music by Amit Trivedi is peppy with “Love you Zindagi” making a mark. Background score, or the lack of it, should have been better dealt with. The silence during therapy sessions was traumatising. Cinematography by Laxman Utekar is neat while editor Hemanti Sarkar was too lenient with the final cut.

Is it worth your time and money?: Dear Zindagi barely makes the cut as a feel good film. For some, it will sure seem like a lecture. Nevertheless, the performances by lead cast make it a one time watch.

Worth mention: Alia’s performance in the second half.

Acting: 8/10
Story-Screenplay-Direction: 7/10
Technical Aspects: 7/10

Verdict: 7.5/10

Manjhi – The Mountain Man

Manjhi

When a credible actor like Nawazuddin Siddiqui is playing the role of Dashrath Manjhi, your exceptions of the movie go up. However, just like he did with Mangal Panday, director Ketan Mehta makes you walk out of the theatre feeling disappointed.

Manjhi – The Mountain Man, tells the story of why and how Dashrath Manjhi from¬†Gehlaur village, near Gaya in Bihar spent 22 years of his life chiseling¬†through a mountain to carve a path. While the story is truly inspiring, Ketan doesn’t really do justice to it thanks to mediocre direction and some terrible screenplay. Instead of concentrating on the difficulties Manjhi had to face through these 22 years, Ketan focuses more on unnecessary skin-show for most of the first half. The second half of the film picks up pace initially but then feels laboured, with a number of untied loose ends. One wonders if Ketan did his homework before making the¬†biographic. The¬†story-telling is so terrible¬†that¬†Dashrath Manjhi¬†must have rolled in his grave.

While the storyline is weak,¬†Nawazuddin does total justice to the character. He is exceptionally good in emotional scenes. Radhika Apte is decent¬†as Phalgunia, but it would have been nice if she didn’t show as much skin as she did.¬†Ashraf Ul Haque, playing Manjhi’s father, looked younger than¬†Nawazuddin, and overacted on most occasions. Rest of the cast could have been better as well.

Music and background score by Sandesh Shandilya is decent, and so is the cinematography by Rajeev Jain. Editing by Pratiek Chitalia could have been better, for the movie unnecessarily drags.

Is it worth your time and money?: Nope. Manjhi РThe Mountain Man could have been a very inspiring motion picture, but Ketan Mehta makes a mess of another biopic!

Worth mention:¬†Nawazuddin Siddiqui’s acting.

Acting: 7.5/10
Story-Screenplay-Direction: 5/10
Technical Aspects: 7/10

Verdict: 5.5/10

Masaan

Masaan

Masaan is one of the most realistic movie we’ve come across this year. Directed by d√©butante Neeraj Ghatwan, the movie showcases two parallel stories, different in many ways yet carrying similar essence.¬†Direction is spot on;¬†Neeraj gets the best out of every actor, and does full justice without ever deviating from the main plot. The screenplay is engrossing, and the way the stories converge in the climax is beautiful.

Richa Chaddha and Vicky Kaushal do full justice as the protagonists. While both of them come up with brilliant performances, I was particularly moved by Vicky’s display of emotions post a death scene. Shweta Tripathi charms¬†in her brief role. Every other cast member comes up with an equally good act; be it young¬†Nikhil Sahni as Jhonta, or veteran¬†Sanjay Mishra as Vidyadhar Pathak, they are all perfect.

Music by Indian Ocean is soulful, without ever getting overwhelming. Editing by Nitin Baid is neat, while cinematography by Avinash Arun Dhaware is excellent.

Is it worth your time and money?:¬†Masaan isn’t a movie for everyone. It is a serious movie close to reality, with some notable performances and exceptional direction. If you’re a movie lover, this one cannot be missed!

Worth mention: Acting and direction.

Acting: 9/10
Story-Screenplay-Direction: 9/10
Technical Aspects: 8.5/10

Verdict: 9/10

Bajrangi Bhaijaan

Bajrangi-Bhaijaan

He might be the bad boy of Bollywood, but Salman Khan has this aura with which he can charm* people. And that’s exactly what the director utilizes to make you fall in love with Bajrangi Bhaijaan.

Scripted by Vijayendra Prasad (the same guy who scripted Baahubali), Barjangi Bhaijaan tells the story of a young Paksitani girl, and her saviour who helps her reach home. Director Kabir Khan does full justice to this simple thread by narrating it in a beautiful fashion. Instead of flexing muscles, Kabir uses charm and empathy as his way out. Yes, the script is impractical and sometimes silly, but it is showcased so earnestly that you start to ignore the flaws. The first half of the movie which establishes the characters, seems long and draggy, but the second half is truly entertaining in every sense. The direction is top-notch for Kabir was able to bring the best out of every actor. The screenplay too is neat. I loved the way he narrated the flashback episodes, as stories intertwined into the script.

Salman Khan is absolutely brilliant as Pavan. He plays the character with so much ease while portraying the right emotions and oozing out charisma. His comic timing is spot on. Kareena Kapoor Khan has a limited role, but she does well. Nawazuddin Siddiqui is perfect as the TV reporter who helps Bajrangi; he definetly is one of the finest actors in our industry. The real star of the movie is the 7 year old Harshaali Malhotra; she is stunningly cute, and her expressions are priceless.

Music by Pritam is average. Except for a couple of songs which were forcefully inserted into the movie, and should have made the cut on the editor’s table headed by Rameshwar Bhagat. Cinematography by Aseem Mishra is perfect; the way he used drones to showcase a few shots is worth a mention.

Is it worth your time and money?: It’s a super fun movie, and Salman and Harshaali will charm their way into your hearts. Unlike most of Salman’s films, this one has its heart at the right place and is definitely worth a watch!

Worth mention: All the scenes with Harshaali and Salman; in particular, the India-Pakistan cricket match episode where Harshaali acknowledges that she’s from Pakistan.

Acting: 8.5/10
Story-Screenplay-Direction: 8.5/10
Technical Aspects: 8/10

Verdict: 8.5/10

PS: It’s a treat to have this film release on Eid. What a great way to encourage religious bonding on such auspicious day! And I think India and Pakistan needs more movies like this!

*Charm here can also be read as (c)harm ūüėõ

ABCD 2

ABCD 2

There is no lack of dancing talent in India, and our dance reality shows brought this talent to our living room. The ABCD franchise takes this one notch further and presents this talent on a global scale.

Scripted, directed and choreographed by Remo D’Souza, ABCD 2¬†showcases the story of an underdog dance group who make it large at a global hip-hop competition. The choreography part of it is perfect, no qualms on that front, but the storytelling and direction are extremely mediocre.¬†While ABCD¬†established characters and then sought dancing, ABCD 2 barely establishes any; they are all just there and you are supposed to know them. This doesn’t help in the audience connect with the dance group on an¬†emotional level. Remo did try to infuse Indian spirit to get that connect, but that’s only towards the latter half. Another failing point of this unnecessarily long 154 minutes dance film is excess melodrama. Every scene is exaggerated to an extent that you almost start giggling. The dance sequences too get boring after a while for there are so many.¬†ABCD 2 proves for sure that¬†any body can dance, but not everyone can direct.

Varun Dhawan and Shraddha Kapoor put their best foot forward and perform exceptionally well in almost every dance sequence. They give the professional dancers a¬†run for their money, but they barely act. The professional dancers, in fact put up a better act than them. Prabhu Deva is good and performs with ease. Dharmesh and Raghav’s acts are commendable.

Music by Sachin-Jigar is foot tapping, as required. Cinematography by Vijay Arora is perfect; he ensured that all dance sequences look spectacular on-screen. 3D effects are worth mentioning. Editing by Manan Sagar is mediocre; this kind of movie can’t be over 2 hours long, and Manan should have ensured that.

Is it worth your time and money?:¬†Well, it’s a difficult question. Yes, the dance sequences are spectacular, and the leads put in great effort (but barely act). But the storytelling fails miserably. The movie length doesn’t help either. Bottom-line, give it a watch¬†only if¬†you have nothing better to do (and if¬†well choreographed dance sequences turn you on).

Worth mention: The dance sequences.

Acting: 8/10
Story-Screenplay-Direction: 6.5/10
Technical Aspects: 7.5/10

Verdict: 7/10

Dil Dhadakne Do

DilDhadakneDo

Given that I loved Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (which happens to be the second review I’ve ever written), I’ve been waiting for¬†Dil Dhadakne Do for a while now. And yes, it was worth the wait!

Scripted by Zoya Akhtar and Reema Kagti,¬†Dil Dhadakne Do¬†showcases the struggles of a dysfunctional high-society family of four – the Mehras. Kamal and Neelam are an unhappy couple celebrating¬†their 30th anniversary on a cruise with family and friends. They are more concerned about their prestige and image rather than the welfare of their kids,¬†Ayesha and Kabir, both¬†struggling to discover¬†their own identities. Zoya does a brilliant job on the direction front to bring this family to life. The quirky narration makes you connect with the Mehra family pretty soon. There are tons of moments in the movie which showcase the realities of wealthy¬†families, and¬†she does it in a charming way, without it ever getting preachy. The light-hearted humour infused into the script is worth a mention. Screenplay is spot on, and so are the dialogues penned by Farhan. My only concern was with the¬†hurried climax; after sitting through for almost three¬†hours, you’d expect something¬†better.

Anil Kapoor is absolutely brilliant as the self-made Kamal Mehra. This is the Anil I grew up watching, the one who owns the role. Shefali Shah is equally good as Mrs. Mehra. Priyanka and Anushka perform well. Rahul Bose is good, and so is Farhan in his brief appearance. But the real star happens to be Ranveer Singh, who comes up with an impeccable act. Be it his mannerisms or antics, this is a breath of fresh air. His performance in the medical ward episode is exceptional.  Aamir Khan entertains as Pluto Mehra. The rest of the ensemble cast is perfect.

Music by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy is melodious. Almost all the songs are awesomely picturized, which brings me to talk about the cinematography.¬†Carlos Catalan, take a bow. Be it the beautiful landscapes of Turkey, or the single shot sequence for “Gallan Goodiyaan” song, they were spectacular. Editing by¬†Anand Subaya and¬†Manan Mehta is alright.¬† Special shout out to Bosco-Caesar for brilliant choreography.

Is it worth your time and money?:¬†Oh yes.¬†While ZNMD dealt with friendship, DDD talks about¬†family relationship. Acting and cinematography¬†are definite plus points of this lengthy movie. I’d recommend watching it with your families; for all you know, it might¬†help you open up to¬†them a bit more.

Worth mention: Acting and cinematography.

Acting: 9/10
Story-Screenplay-Direction: 8.5/10
Technical Aspects: 8.5/10

Verdict: 8.5/10

Tanu Weds Manu: Returns

Tanu-Weds-Manu-Returns

Kangana is one of the most versatile actors we have in the industry today, and she proved her mettle with Queen. Now, she does it again in Tanu Weds Manu: Returns.

Anand Rai’s sequel starts off with Manu landing in a mental asylum because of domestic problems four years post their wedding. Tanu goes back to being herself in Kanpur, while Manu, out of the asylum, is still brooding over Tanu in Delhi. Things change when Manu runs into¬†Kusum, a Haryanvi doppelg√§nger¬†of Tanu. While the first few minutes of the movie seem ridiculous, Anand does a commendable job on direction front. Himanshu Sharma’s dialogues are witty and the screenplay is decent. The woman empowerment¬†speech was very well conceived. However, the movie starts to drag towards the climax, and the ending is too predictable.

Kangana is brilliant being herself as Tanu, while she does a perfect job as Kusum. Her Haryanvi accent is as good as a local; it was really difficult for me to understand most of it at times. She might walk away with honours again this year for her performance. Madhavan is flawless as the 40 years old initially struggling with his over-hyper wife, and later as the guy yearning for her attention. Deepak Dobriyal overacts, while Jimmy comes up with a subdued performance.

Music by¬†Krsna Solo and¬†Tanishk-Vayu is alright, with ‘Banno’ being the best of the lot.¬†Cinematography by Chirantan Das is worth a mention, while editing by Hemal Kothari is neat.

Is it worth your time and money??: Tanu Weds Manu: Returns isn’t a great movie. But it still¬†works¬†thanks to another exceptional performance ¬†from Kangana. Baring some flaws in the script and the very predictable ending, it’s still¬†worth a watch.

Worth mention:¬†Kangana’s performance as Kusum in the climax, and Rajesh Sharma’s speech on¬†women empowerment.

Acting: 8/10
Story-Screenplay-Direction: 7.5/10
Technical Aspects: 8/10

Verdict: 7.5/10 + 0.5 for Kangana!

Piku

Piku

After hilarious Vicky Donor and an engrossing political thriller Madras Cafe, Shoojit Sircar now comes up with¬†heart-warming tale of Piku. It¬†might be¬†Mother’s Day weekend, but this one is sure to impress any parent.

Piku, played by Deepika, is a headstrong independent woman in her 30’s. She lives with her father, played by Amitabh, who happens to be a hypochondriac, especially obsessed about his bowel movements.¬†The story, written by¬†Juhi Chaturvedi is simple, and Shoojit does justice to it by keeping it simple. The chemistry between all the leads is amazing. Though a number of episodes¬†focus on bowel movements, they never make you uncomfortable. Dialogues are brilliant;¬†I especially loved the ones written for ‘not a virgin’ episode. I also thought that the climax was very well conceived. Screenplay by Juhi is neat.

I don’t think there is a need for me to talk about Amitabh’s acting. As expected, it was brilliant. His Bengali accent seemed almost perfect. Deepika does total justice to the title role. There’s no glamour associated with her character, yet she looks stunningly beautiful. It’s more or less a cake walk for Irrfan; this guy can play a variety of roles at ease. The rest of the cast, be it Moushumi Chatterjee or Raghuvir Yadav, is equally good.

Music by Anupam Roy is subtle and soulful; it never gets too loud. Cinematography by Kamaljeet Negi is very good; he showcased Kolkata so beautifully that I wanna make it my next travel destination. Editing by Chandrashekhar Prajapati is good. The only irritating part of the movie is the excessive, unnecessary branding!

Is it worth your time and money?:¬†As already mentioned, it’s a charming¬†tale showcasing the struggles of headstrong father and daughter. While some might find it too slow or even¬†cumbersome (because of excessive mention of bowel movements), I feel it’s a good watch. If not for anything, it deserves applause for the¬†brilliant acting by the three leads.

Worth mention: The witty dialogues and the father-daughter chemistry.

Acting: 9.5/10
Story-Screenplay-Direction: 8.5/10
Technical Aspects: 8/10

Verdict: 8.5/10

Margarita With A Straw

Margarita With A Straw

Margarita With A Straw is not a regular film. It’s one which showcases the realities of life very¬†realistically, without sugar-coating it.

Director Shonali Bose tells¬†the story of a young teenage girl who happens to be discovering her sexuality. Oh ya, she also happens to be suffering from cerebral palsy, but this doesn’t stop her from wanting to explore and do things every other girl her age would want to do. Shonali showcases this all naturally, without ever drifting from the subject. While direction is spot on, the screenplay is snail paced and one wishes for the film to move faster.

Kalki, hats-off! She’s absolutely brilliant and brings life to a character very difficult to portray. I don’t think anyone else would have dared to take up this role; she does justice to it to the T. Sayani Gupta is equally good in a challenging role. Revathi is outstanding as the mother, while the rest of the cast is perfect.

On technical front, music and background score by Mickey McCleary is good. Editing by Monisha R Baldawa is neat while cinematography by Anne Misawa is decent.

Is it worth your time and money?:¬†It’s not a film which can be enjoyed by everyone because of its storyline. But it’s also a film everyone needs to watch just to get out of the shell we’ve built around ourselves, to face reality. If not in the theatre, must watch on DVD.

Worth mention: Acting by Kalki Koechlin

Acting: 9.5/10
Story-Screenplay-Direction: 8.5/10
Technical Aspects: 8/10

Verdict: 8.5/10

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