Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani | Movie Review

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Directed by Ayan Mukerji, whose last venture was the impressive Wake Up Sid, Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani has all the elements required to make a good film. However, Ayan falters way too often, both with the screenplay and direction, which make YJHD just an average film. The story has shades of Dil Chahta Hai, Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara and 3 Idiots, but it does not charm you like any of those. I thought the screenplay was mediocre.

But its the leading pair which make the YJHD stand out. Ranbir is brilliant as the vibrant Bunny, chasing his dreams, while Deepika is superb as bespectacled Naina. Ranbir looked at easy and charms you with his performance, and Deepika oozed out the oomph factor and looks amazingly hot. Aditya Roy Kapoor and Kalki Koechlin are superb in their respective roles. Kunal Roy Kapoor is excellent, while Farooq Sheikh is brilliant in a small yet vital role. My only problem was with Evelyn Sharma, for she was plain irritating. Madhuri Dixit sizzles in the item song (However, I don’t like the fact that she’s stooped down to doing item songs!).

On technical front, music by Pritam is a definite plus point. The foot tapping numbers are well choreographed. Background score was pretty decent too. Cinematography by Manikandan is of top notch quality while editing by Akiv Ali could have been better. The film was way too long. Though the film looked extravagant and production by Dharma was excellent, I thought the artwork and sets, especially during the item song and Manali episodes looked pathetic (They looked similar to ones in second grade movies). That apart, the extras in all the songs looked plain dumb and out of sorts, especially the ones jumping without sync and rhythm in the far background.

Overall, a decent one time watch. Deepika and Ranbir sizzle up the screen, while the rest of the cast does a good job. On the downside, a shorter film with better screenplay would have been more effective.

Is it worth your time and money??: If fun is what you’re looking for, and have the patience to sit through a long movie, then Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani is for you.

Acting: 8.5/10
Story-Screenplay-Direction: 7.5/10
Technical Aspects: 7/10

Verdict: 8/10

Charley’s Grilled Subs (Dubai) | Restaurant Review

Place: Charley’s Grilled Subs (Now Charley’s Cheesesteaks
Location: First Floor, Dragon Mart, Dubai International City
Cuisine: Fast Food
Meal: Dinner (with a friend)

After a couple of days of roaming in Dubai International City, dropped in to Dragon Mart with a friend. We were hungry, so decided to eat something before we explored the mall. The first floor food court looked pretty new with most of the places, like Subway and Pizza Hut yet to open. We stopped by at Charley’s, for their menu looked quite good. I ordered a Philly Veggie meal, with fries with cheese and ranch, while my friend ordered a regular 6″ Philly Chicken Sub.

The sub was being made in the open kitchen, so I could see what was being done. Being a vegetarian, my concern was that they would use the same spatulas as they were using to cook meat on the common hotplate, but thankfully, they didn’t. But on the other hand, the vegetables were cooked on the same hot plate. The chef gave me the option to choose the veggies I wanted, and he didn’t hesitate on the quantity. With loads of onions, mushrooms, olives, jalapenos and cheese, my sandwich was served in white bread, along with the fries.

The sub was huge and very filling. The stuffing, with the sauces, tasted very good, but I thought the bread was a little stale for it was very soggy. The fries with cheese and ranch tasted yum. My friend liked her sub as well. Overall, the staff was friendly and courteous, and it was a good meal. But for the price, which I thought was a little on the high end, I would definitely recommend this place.

Food: 8/10
Service: 9/10
Meal for 1: AED 25/-

Verdict: 8.5/10

Indijoe | Restaurant Review

Place: Indijoe 
Location: City Center, Banjara Hills
Cuisine: Indian, Continental
Meal: Lunch

Indijoe used to be one of my favorite restaurants in town about 6 years ago, but for some reason, stopped visiting it after a point. On a weekday, I finally came back to this place for their buffet. At around 2:00 PM, the place was packed. There were a bunch of guys (waiters) standing at the door, but none of them were interested on my entry, so I had to look for myself and find a table. Things were exactly the same as I remember them from the last time I was here, most of them in indecorous condition. The seat cushion was a little ripped, and in general, the place felt gloomy.

The soup and starters were not being served at the table, so I went ahead and got some for myself. On the veg front, there was Vegetable Broth Soup and for starters, there were Crispy Fried Okra, Potato Chilly Garlic Fries, Banana Fritters, Veg. Tikkies, Cabbage Bhel and Nachos with Salsa sauce apart from the non-veg counterparts.

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The soup was plain, had no real flavor and was boring. Of the starters, except for the Potato Chilly Garlic fries and the Cabbage Bhel, nothing else was memorable. The Fries had good flavor to them, while I thought the Bhel was pretty creative. The Banana Fritters were a bit soggy and oily, while the Okra and Tikki were decent.

Next I tried the Baked Spinach with Corn and Mushroom, and Mixed Pepper Polenta. I took another serving of the Fries, Bhel and the Tikkis. They had a live counter serving Omelettes as well, but didn’t try them.

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The Polenta had dried up, so I more or less got only the dcheese. It tasted alright. The Baked Spinach and Mushroom was creamy and good. It could have done with a little more flavor though.

Indijoe Restaurant Review by Sasikanth Paturi

On the Indian front, they had Kadai Paneer and Dal Makhni. I served myself some, got back to the table and asked for some Naan, Roti or whatever, and to my surprise they weren’t serving any. When I asked how come, I was told that it’s a Continental restaurant, and they don’t serve bread with Indian curries. I was asked to eat the curries with white rice or Fried rice. Weird I tell you. I instead went and got myself some white rice with Thai Green Curry, which was pretty decent. I tasted the Paneer and Dal by themselves, and thought they were good. If only they had roti!

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Next I got some Chinese food for myself – Noodles and Fried Rice with Vegetables in Hot Garlic Sauce. The Noodles tasted pretty good, while the Fried rice was so so.

Indijoe Restaurant Review by Sasikanth Paturi

On the dessert front, they had some good stuff – Orange Cheese Cake, Vanilla Pastry, Apricot Cake, Black Forest Pastry, Rice Kheer, and a Chocolate Fountain apart from Strawberry and Vanilla ice-cream. I loved the Cheese Cake and the Pastry, while the Vanilla Pastry was decent. The Apricot cake was not that great. I didn’t try the Kheer. Ice-cream with the Chocolate sauce tasted yum.

Overall, an average meal. The desserts were impressive, but everything else was just decent. Them not having bread for the Indian curries and reasoning that it was a Continental restaurant was the highlight of the entire meal. The service was mediocre; I wasn’t served with the complimentary soft drink until I half way through. Ambiance, as already mentioned, needs to be taken care off. The place was too loud as well. Give it a shot, but for the price you pay, there are many other places which serve a better buffet.

Food: 7/10
Service: 7/10
Ambiance: 6.5/10
Meal for 1: Rs. 382/-

Verdict: 7/10

Star Trek Into Darkness | Movie Review

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Is it worth your time and money??: Oh yes. I loved Star Trek Into Darkness. Though the script is a little more complicated than the first movie, J.J. Abrams did a decent job with it. The direction is pretty neat, and the screenplay is decent. Chris Pine does a very good as Kirk, while Zachary Quinto does a brilliant job as Spock. Benedict Cumberbatch is equally good as Khan. The rest of the cast did a good job. On technical front, the visuals are excellent. Most of the IMAX shots were graphic works, but good. The rendered 3D work was excellent, but shooting with 3D cameras would have made it even better. Nevertheless, I loved the effects. Music by Michael Giacchino is good, while cinematography by Daniel Mindel is perfect. Overall, a worthwhile film.

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

Aashiqui 2 | Movie Review

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Is it worth your time and money??: If you are into romantic movies with sad endings, then Aashiqui 2 is for you. Mohit Suri does a good job with a script written by Shagufta Rafiqui, but the plot could have been way better. The character of the protagonist was not well established  in the beginning of the film. It’s a very short film, and they had all the time to give some base to Aditya’s character. Nevertheless, the first half of the film is good, with the latter half kinda becoming a bore after a point. On acting front, Aditya Roy Kapoor does a decent job, but he still needs to improve on his acting skills. Shraddha Kapoor looked gorgeous and performed well. The rest of the cast was alright. The definite plus point of the movie is its music. The soulful numbers are also well picturized. Overall, it’s a decent film, but definitely had the potential to be much better.

Acting: 7.5/10
Story-Screenplay-Direction: 7/10
Technical Aspects: 8.5/10

Verdict: 7.5/10

Santosh Dhaba | Restaurant Review

Place: Santosh Dhaba 
Location: Hotel Jaya International lane, Abids 
Cuisine: Indian 
Meal: Dinner (with cousins)

Met my cousin sisters after a long time, and wanted to take them to Blue Diamond for dinner. But for some reason, Blue Diamond was closed on this day, and so decided to go hog at my other favorite, Santosh Dhaba. After struggling to park the car on this narrow lane forever, I was ready to gulp down some good Indian food. Of all the Santosh Dhabas in town (there are three – Abids, one near Paradise and Santosh Banjara), this one has the best ambiance for it looks more like a restaurant than a dhaba. It is brightly lit, and the seating is quite comfortable.

My cousin asked for Veg-65 for starters, while I ordered Santosh Special – Kofta curry and a couple of Stuffed Kulchas for main course. These guys are known for their super fast service, and food was served in no time.

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The Veg-65 tasted more like Veg. Schezuan, but the balls were a little too hard. The quantity served was pretty good though.

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The main course was served in the next 5 minutes. The Special Kofta came in a tomato based thick gravy with cashew nuts. There were a couple of Kofta balls, which were very well cooked. Overall, it was finger licking good, and I actually ended up licking my plate towards the end. The stuffed Kulcha, with tons of cashews, were excellent. These guys, by far, serve the best Kulchas in town.

Overall, a yummy meal. We weren’t really hungry, so ordered minimal food, and it was still sumptuous. The service was good, and the bill came up to a decent 322 bucks for 3 people. If you have a craving for some good Indian food, and haven’t been here already, I would definitely recommend this place. Go hog!!

Food: 9/10
Service: 8/10
Ambiance: 8/10
Meal for 1: Rs. 322/-

Verdict: 9/10

Ohri’s Banjara | Restaurant Review

Place: Ohri’s Banjara 
Location: Road No. 12, Banjara Hills 
Cuisine: Indian/Continental 
Meal: Dinner (with a friend)

Dropped in at Ohri’s Banjara for dinner the other day with a friend, and it turned out to be a dinner full of surprises. We first walked into Serengeti, but since both of us didn’t have a heavy appetite that evening, decided to munch on something at Eatmor on the ground floor. The place was pretty empty when we walked in around 8:00 PM, but got full as the night progressed.

We wanted to try their Andhra Firecrackers (veg). That apart, I wanted to have something new, so decided to order a portion of Veg. Dumplings. I’ve been craving for good dumplings in the recent past and was looking forward to them. I also ordered for my regular at Ohri’s, the Big Chill.

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The Big Chill was served first, in about 10 minutes. As expected, the drink was very good – chocolaty, with a hint of coffee flavor, and loads of cookies and cream.

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The Andhra Firecrackers were served next. I usually love this dish of theirs, but on this day, the paneer was stale, and therefore, they didn’t taste good. They infact were soggy and uneatable after a point.

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The big surprise though was when the Veg. Dumplings arrived. Traditionally, dumplings are cooked balls of dough, either based out of flour, potatoes or bread (more on dumplings can be found here). But the ones they served looked very different, so I called the waiter and made sure that he got the right order. Though he concurred, the things they served us are usually called Cutlets, which by the way, used to be very good at the erstwhile Havmor (Ohri’s Basheerbagh). I was in no mood to argue with him and decided to dig in. They tasted alright, but were a little spicy, and a couple of them were a little undercooked. My want of having dumplings down the drain!

For the main course, my friend ordered Chole Batura, while I ordered for something called Mushroom and Herbs. It took time for the order to be served, but since we were in no hurry, didn’t bother much about it. The Chole Batura was served first, and it tasted pretty good. My friend was happy with it.

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The second surprise was when the Mushroom and Herbs was served. What I thought would be a main course in fact turned out to be a thick soup. It was creamy, with loads of mushrooms, but had loads of Dill which wasn’t very fresh. This made it inedible in a way (or atleast, I found it inedible). The garlic bread served along also turned out to be very soggy. It was a big disappointment, and I actually stopped eating mid way through.

To finish things off, my friend wanted to order a Bull’s Eye, and so we did.

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It took forever for the dessert to be served. When we dug in, we realized that the brownie was not fresh and it was really difficult to cut through it. We informed  this to the waiter, and he replaced the dessert for us. But again, it was no better, and so we decided to gulp it the way it was. Other than the ice-cream with chocolate sauce, there was nothing good about it.

Overall, a mediocre meal. Except for the Chole Batura, and may be the so-called dumplings/cutlets, everything else tasted poor. To add to this, the bill came to a whopping 1300, thanks to 300 bucks of taxes and service charges. Other than the ambiance and maybe the service, there was nothing worthwhile about our visit, barring the couple of surprises. I don’t think I’ll be going back to this place for a long time, not even for my beloved Big Chill.

Food: 5/10
Service: 7/10
Ambiance: 7/10
Meal for 2: Rs. 1300/-

Verdict: 6/10

 

Peperoncino | Restaurant Review

Place: Pepperoncini 
Location: Fourth Floor, Building Opp. Ratnadeep, Road No. 12, Banjara Hills 
Cuisine: Italian 
Meal: Lunch

On a lazy Sunday afternoon, I decided to go hog at Viva ItaliaBut the scorching sun made me think over it for I wanted to go sit at an air-conditioned place. Read about this new place called Peperoncino on Zomato, and decided to give it a try. I dropped in a little after 2:00 PM, and the restaurant was empty (literally). The place looked decent, with well done interiors, a glass kitchen on one side, and a nice aerial view on the other (unfortunately of the slums).

Their menu looked pretty decent, and everything was priced more or less reasonably (for a restaurant of this size in this location). I ordered for ‘Funghi Ripieni’ (fried mushrooms stuffed with cheese and herbs) followed by a ‘Calabrese’ pizza (pepper sauce, mozzarella, onions, mushrooms, garlic and olives).

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Thanks to the glass kitchen, I could see the chefs make everything from scratch. In about 10 minutes, the starters were ready and served. First off, I was a little disappointed with the quantity (It’s maybe because I’ve got used to huge portions of everything in the recent past). Anyways, the stuffed mushrooms tasted pretty alright, but were very oily. The Tomato chutney served along tasted pretty good. On the whole, a decent start, but I honestly was expecting something better.

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The pizza was served right after I was done with the starters. It looked good, with loads of veggies on it but tasted average. Though the crust was crunchy and well-baked, the pizza was too dry and lacked flavor. Tons of oregano made it taste better. It was supposed to be a little spicy because of the pepper sauce, but I didn’t find it spicy, for probably it was unevenly smeared across the base. I asked for extra cheese, but the pizza barely had any cheese on it as well.  It was a decent pizza, but not on my list of favorites.

I had read that their desserts are pretty good, so decided to give them a try. I asked the waiter to help me pick the best, and he suggested Tiramisu, followed by Cioccolato Fondente (chocolate cake with molten chocolate in the center). I opted for the latter, and I was told that it would take a while for the cake to be baked.

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After about 15 minutes, the molten chocolate cake was served. For some reason, though it wasn’t mentioned, I expected it to be served with vanilla ice cream. It was good, but again, not satisfying. There was nothing special or ‘wow’ about it; it was just decent, and that’s what disappointed me.

Overall, an average meal. Food, ambiance and service were all decent. However, my want of going and enjoying a meal at a cool place was foiled for the place was burning hot, and I was sweating all through out. Since the place was empty, one air-conditioner was turned on only when I walked in. Midway through, when I complained that it was too hot, they turned another one on. The place was huge, and I was their only customer, but you don’t try to save on your electricity while the customer is sweating do you? The place has the potential to be huge, but it needs to work for it. And being empty on a Sunday afternoon doesn’t speak much either.

Give it a shot, but don’t expect too much. Probably my high expectations thwarted my experience. I’d suggest dinner, cos then you might enjoy the view.

Food: 7.5/10
Service: 8/10
Ambience: 7/10
Meal for 1: Rs. 650/-

Verdict: 7/10

Greeku Veerudu | Movie Review

Greeku-Veerudu

I am clueless on where to begin, for Greeku Veerudu was that bad a movie. It’s a story we’ve seen in many a films – a rich spoiled playboy (read Nagarjuna uncle) comes to India from New York (shot using green screen and graphics) to understand the importance of family and love. Now one can argue – how bad that could that be?? According to me, this one defines bad. The script is the same old-fashioned one which probably worked 10 years ago, with K. Vishwanath playing the same old grandfather role, saying no to love marriage initially, but later realizing his mistake, the aunties and their loser husbands, one bad guy with a loser son, and uncountable number of side characters. Dasarth has lost it, understandable, but what seemed more strange is why would others (read producer and actors) make a film with the same old formula, that too with an older Nagarjuna.

Talking about Nag, I did like his looks to an extent in the ads, but he looks really old in the film. The only place he looked good was in “Greekuveeruda” song, where in he has a different get up. On acting front, he is the saving grace of the film. Nayanathara looked glamorous, thank god for that. Brahmanandam has the routine bakra character, while the rest of the cast are put in just for the heck of it.

On technical and production front, the film is a disaster. Music is mediocre, but the background score is painful. Thaman needs to learn how to score for such bad movies. Editing by Marthand Venkatesh is sloppy, just like the screenplay. But what surprises me the most is the cinematography (Ani Bandari). Most of the film had graphics using static background – New York, airport scenes, outdoor scenes in India, climax shot in a village — all graphics. And the graphics were so bad that I felt like I was watching a second grade movie. I’m glad that they shot few scenes at least in real locations.

Overall, it’s a boring and dull film you’ve seen many a times – only thing different is an older hero. They claim it’s a family entertainer; forget entertainer, but in a way it shows how better off your family is compared to the dumbass one in the movie. Unless you are a diehard Nag fan, stay away please!!

Is it worth your time and money??: No, please skip it!

Acting: 6.5/10
Story-Screenplay-Direction: 2/10
Technical Aspects: 3/10

Verdict: 3.5/10

PS: Am glad Naga Chaitanya didn’t do the film. I (and almost everyone who watched the film) would have been dead by now if it were him as Greeku Veerudu!!

Swamy Ra Ra | Movie Review

Swamy Ra Ra

Written and directed by Sudheer Varma, Swamy Ra Ra is an average flickThe story is a potpourri of a couple of Hindi flicks, which are in turn inspired by a few Hollywood classics. Caper films have a very thin story line, and it is very important for the director to make sure that every character is connected while maintaining the pace of the film. Though he was able to do the latter to an extent, Varma introduced too many characters which made it all look patchy after a point. A faster screenplay would have been appropriate. The film started off well, but the unnecessary romance track, and a weak second half are its negatives.

Acting by Nikhil, Swathi, and rest of the cast is decent. Music by Sunny is good, but he should have avoided copying the title track straight off from the Hindi flick they borrowed the story line from (Shor in the City). Editing by Kartika Srinivas is alright, while cinematography by Richard Prasad deserves a special mention. However, the number of slow motion shots should have been much less for their effect was lost after a point.

Acting: 8/10
Story-Screenplay-Direction: 6/10
Technical Aspects: 8/10
Is it worth your time and money??: Swamy Ra Ra is a decent effort in making a Telugu caper film. 

Verdict: 6.5/10