Movie Reviews by Sasikanth Paturi

Here’s a list of all the movie reviews, categorized by language 🙂


English


Hindi


Telugu

Brahmastra: Part One – Shiva | Movie Review

Brahmastra was announced in 2014, back when Alia was 4 films old, and Ranbir was dating another co-actor. Post multiple changes, the pandemic, and more changes, the film was finally released six years after its intended release of December 2016. So much has happened in the world since the announcement; Alia is now about 20+ films old, and now married to Ranbir. Anyhow, whatever the delay, what matters is the output. So, does part one of this trilogy deliver?

In one of the interviews, director Ayan Mukerji stated that he was fascinated by Hollywood action movies, particularly Marvel and other superhero films, and wanted to make Brahmastra on par with such films. He does make a grand film, yes, but what does grandeur do when you have a mediocre script and absolutely no idea or vision of what you want to showcase? You get a badly screen written and directed, incoherent dud!

Shiva, played by Ranbir, is a DJ in Mumbai. He is smitten by Isha (Alia) and stalks her on their second encounter, she acknowledges, they then go to his room where he shares his life story, she cries and holds his hand. Shiva suddenly has visions, acts strange, and asks her to leave. They meet the next day, he describes his visions and resolves to travel to Varanasi to aid someone. Isha decides to travel alongside him, and that, ladies and gentlemen, is their love story.

One day, not even 24 hours, is what it took for Isha to run away with Shiva, all based on what he told her. There is no information on her parents, what she does (but for she’s rich and is from London), no further information on DJ Shiva apart from what he tells her (he could be a stalker, psycho, murderer or anything), has a daura/seizure where he acts strange and pushes her away. But she still decides to travel with him saying Shiva ke saath Isha (Parvati) hamesha rahegi! 

This ridiculously shallow love story is the base for the plotline where they discover that love is the biggest astra of them all. Now don’t ask me what an astra is, or why Shiva has these episodes, visions or seizures (whatever you want to call them). You have to suffer like I did to find out more.

Ranbir and Alia are good on screen and their chemistry is apparent. But their underdeveloped characters make them look silly on multiple occasions. Some badly written dialogues don’t help either. Not just them, every character is underdeveloped and lacks a proper arc. Amitabh is alright as guruji but looks odd performing some of the action sequences. Shahrukh Khan and Nagarjuna do justice as keepers of Brahmastra. Dimple Kapadia is underutilized. The rest of the cast and casting is terrible. Mouni Roy is terrible as the lead on-screen antagonist for she does not have the stature or the persona to breathe life into the character. Her two minions were even more ridiculous.

Music by Pritam is passable. But for Kesariya, no other track makes an impact. The background music is not to the mark either. No comments on the editing by Prakash Kurup or the cinematography by a bunch of people; I feel there was nothing they could do to make this film better. For a movie with tons of money spent on VFX, the output is mediocre. 

Is it worth your time and money?: What happens when the director has no clarity or vision of what he wants? Brahmastra! Unless you have loads of patience and undying love for the lead pair, avoid this dud. I can’t believe it has two more parts to it. 

Worth mention: The only saving grace is the chemistry between Ranbir and Alia.

Acting: 6/10 
Story-Screenplay-Direction: 4/10 
Technical Aspects: 5/10

Verdict: 5/10

PS: I was sitting next to three VFX artists who walked on the film. They too were disappointed with the overall output (including the VFX), and spoke at length about how the director made them change the effects innumerable times over the years for he did not know what he wanted. 

On another note, they confirmed that Deepika plays Amrita, Shiva’s mom, and there is a possibility that his dad, Dev, is Ranveer Singh. Now that’s something! 

Desi Dhaba | Restaurant Review

Place: Desi Dhaba 
Location: Glenmore Parade, Ealing Rd, Wembley 
Cuisine: Indian 

July 2022     September 2022


Meal: Dinner (with wifey and our lil one)
On: Saturday, 9 July 2022

We were at the Shri Vallabh Nidhi Mandir located on the other end of Ealing Road at Wembley last Saturday, and came across this small joint tucked in between a row of shops. It was about 5:00 PM, and given that we weren’t really hungry, decided to come back later. After a couple of hours exploring the Indian market and eateries on the street, we dropped by at around 7:00 PM, and the restaurant, given that it was away from most of the Indian joints on street, was pretty empty with just a couple of tables occupied. We made ourselves comfortable at a table for four. The place had a nice vibe to it and reminded us of a typical Indian dhaba.

A few minutes after we settled down, we were served with some fryums alongside mint chutney, garlic & herb sauce, and sweet chilli sauce. Now, this was a welcome surprise for we were starving and the fact that we had food on our table without any “do you want papad?” question thrown at us the moment we walked in. And no, we weren’t charged for them!

The fryums were crisp and satisfied our initial hunger right away; we emptied the basket in about 5 minutes.

Now for the proper meal, we ordered Tandoori Stuffed Mushrooms, Kofta Dilruba, a Butter Naan, and three Butter Chapati. We also asked for a portion of Paneer Pilau for later.

Stuffed Mushrooms | Desi Dhaba

The mushrooms were served in about 10 minutes and they looked scrumptious. The description on the menu read succulent mushrooms marinated in authentic aromatic spices, stuffed with paneer and cheese, cooked in tandoor, and boy, they were yum! Unlike another place we were at in the recent past, the quantity was great; we had about 7-8 mushrooms on our plate. Great start to our meal!

Kofta Dilruba | Desi Dhaba

The main course was served soon, and I was excited for the Kofta for it was listed as Chef’s special. With paneer dumplings in a creamy tomato gravy, unfortunately, this turned out to be just alright (against my anticipation of awesome). The Kofta balls were a little too dry and the gravy was a bit grainy. It also could have done with a little more salt to get the flavours right. Again, this wasn’t a bad dish, it just didn’t match up to my expectations.

Desi Dhaba Desi Dhaba

The Naan was soft and perfect. Our lil one who usually doesn’t prefer Naan, loved it. The Chapatis were huge and super soft. We kinda over-ordered as we couldn’t even finish the second one.

Paneer Pilau | Desi Dhaba

The Pilau was served after we were done with our bread and looked flavour packed. This was again a Chef’s special and tasted great; the paneer was fresh, and the rice was perfectly cooked. However, as with most Indian restaurants in London, it needed salt to suit our palate.

At about the time the Pilau was served, we realized that we needed another side for us to do justice to the meal, so we asked for Dal Makhani.

Dal Makhni | Desi Dhaba

And we were glad that we did for it turned out to be another winner. The dal was creamy, the spices were right, and it was lip-smacking delicious.

Mango Lassi | Desi Dhaba

To finish our meal, we ordered a Mango Lassi that turned out to be thick and perfect, the best lassi I’ve had in a while.

Overall, this turned out to be the best meal we’ve had in London thus far (Shayona was at the top of our list until we visited this place; will review it soon). We were a bit apprehensive when walking in but were totally impressed by the food and service. Our waiter, Bhumi, was super friendly and ensured that we had everything we need on the table at the right time. This is one restaurant I’d definitely recommend to anyone looking for a good Indian restaurant in town. And it is pocket-friendly. I will be back for sure, often!

Food: 9/10
Service: 9.5/10
Ambiance: 9/10
Meal for 3: £39.49


Meal: Dinner (with wifey and our lil one)
On: Friday, 2 September 2022

Given that Desi Dhaba was the best find in London thus far, it was our first choice when my brother and his partner visited us from the US. We walked in at about 8:00 PM and settled down in the centre of the restaurant. Right away, some papad and fryums were served on the table. 

I wanted to try almost everything from our last visit for they tasted yum, and I also wanted to check consistency. Therefore, in addition to what we ordered last time, we ordered Paneer Popcorn and a Veg. Platter as starters, and a Paneer Makhani with some Butter Roti and Jeera Rice for the main course.

The Paneer Popcorn was served first in about 10 minutes. Balls of paneer bhurji rolled in crumbs and deep fried, these were crunchy, yes, but I thought needed some more flavour.  

While we thought that the platter will just have a couple if pieces of everything, the portions were humongous and came in two plates. The first one had the samosa, hara bhara kabab, some cutlets, mirchi bhajji, and loads of onion and potato pakoras/chips. Everything tasted good with the chips being the stand-out dish.

The other part of the platter was a sizzling plate with some stuffed mushrooms and paneer tikka. The mushrooms were yum like the last time, and the paneer was good as well. 

The Malai Kofta and Dal Makhani turned out to be as good as the last visit, but again, needed additional salt to make them palatable. The additional Paneer Makhani was a decent dish; the makhani gravy could have been better.

The Jeera rice was a disappointing dish for the rice was uncooked and had no flavour.

Overall, a very good meal again. Barring the Jeera rice, everything was delicious. Most dishes needed salt, and that was the only downside. The service was good and the portion sizes were amazing. While we were not as elated with the food as the last time, I thought it still was a great meal.

Food: 8.5/10
Service: 9/10
Ambiance: 9/10
Meal for 6: £68.91


Verdict: 9/10

Laal Singh Chaddha | Movie Review

Laal Singh Chaddha

About 15 years ago, while watching Forrest Gump on TV, I pondered on how it would be if the movie was made in India, how the episodes could be adapted, and who could replace Tom Hanks. While I concluded that it’d be impossible to adapt the screenplay, I was sure that either Aamir Khan or Kamal Hassan could do justice to the role if it was ever done. Little did I know then that Atul Kulkarni was scripting Laal Singh Chaddha for Aamir at about the same time.

Let’s talk about screenplay first. Atul Kulkarni does a good job with what I thought was undoable, adapting the script for the Indian audience. From 1983 to the 2000’s, every major Indian event has been entwined perfectly into Laal’s journey. Yes, some of the elements from the original (such as ping pong and running into celebrities) are missing, but he does a commendable job. I loved the way the chaddi baniyan business turns out to be the largest knitwear brand in India.

Talking about the direction next. Forrest Gump is a classic, and it is difficult to helm the remake of such an iconic film. Advait Chandan, on his second directorial venture does a decent job, and brings out fine performances from all but one of his cast members. Yes, he fails big time directing one cast member and that might be the biggest drawback of this movie; his inability to direct the Khan!

As I said earlier, if anyone could replace Hanks, I thought it was Aamir. But I was wrong for he’s the one who spoils Laal Singh Chaddha. Forrest/Laal is a dim-witted character, but Aamir goes overboard by showcasing it as a disability. Enlarging his eyes for no reason, he does a combination of his act from PK and Dhoom 3. This might have been bearable if this were consistent, but no, every frame had a different pathetic expression. Not just from his films, he even tried to ape Mr. Bean in some episodes. And god alone know why he was humming and grunting in few scenes! 😠 Only if Advait could direct/manage him and bring out the same innocence and empathy he did from Ahmad Ibn Umar who played young Laal. Alas!

Another problem I had with the direction was how Advait handled some episodes of the film. The Army scenes were at times a mockery (loud screaming, etc.), and the chaddi baniyan arc was overdone. In the original, the friendship that Bubba and Forrest shared was genuine and honest, but that’s a miss in this one. Nuances!

It’s a cakewalk for Kareena Kapoor Khan who owns Rupa as her own.; she does full justice to the character. Mona Singh does a commendable job as Laal’s mother. Naga Chaitanya, in his Hindi debut, is good as Bala, but I thought he tried too much to be Bubba; only if he had made the character his own like Kareena did. Manav Vij makes an impact as Mohammad. The kids who play young Laal and Rupa (Ahmad Ibn Umar and Hafsa Ashraf) are brilliant.

Music by Pritam is good. I personally loved “Main Ki Karaan” and Sonu’s version of “Kahaani”. Editing by Hemanti Sarkar could have been better for the film seemed longer than it should be. Forrest Gump at 142 minutes had more meat in it than this 170 minutes film. The cinematography by Satyajit Pande (Setu) is great. The VFX team needs to be commended for the de-ageing job.

Is it worth your time and money?: If you walk in without expectations or haven’t watched the original, you might actually like the film. But for me, Aamir spoils the show. I ignored him on the screen to survive!

Worth mention: Every scene which didn’t have Aamir in it. 😑

Acting: 5/10 (it might have been 8 or 8.5 if it weren’t for Aamir!)
Story-Screenplay-Direction: 6/10 
Technical Aspects: 8/10

Verdict: 6.5/10

Sita Ramam | Movie Review

Sita Ramam

From the trailers, Sita Ramam seemed like a romantic love story from the 1960s, with a war backdrop. Does this age-old romance work in the current era?

Scripted and directed by Hanu Raghavapudi, Sita Ramam narrates the non-linear back-and-forth story of Afreen (Rashmika), a Pakistani student from 1985 who reluctantly travels to India to handover a letter written 20 years ago by Lieutenant Ram (Dulquer) to a woman named Sita (Mrunal). While trying to locate Sita, she learns about Ram, his heroics in the Indian army, his undying love for Sita, and a little about how she’s connected to them.

From the first frame, it is clearly evident that Hanu wanted to create a love story like Roja, a Mani Ratnam classic. While combining war and the army into love stories is not new, I thought Hanu tried too hard to make everything fit into the storyline. He succeeds with the love story element; an army officer receiving letters from strangers claiming to be his family when he says he’s an orphan is well conceptualized, and how this ignites Ram and Sita’s love story is beautifully handled. The twists and turns along their journey and how it’s integrated into the army operations work well until a point, but eventually starts to feel artificial and unrealistic, primarily because of the slow pace of the film. Movies like these need to have a crisp screenplay and keep you engrossed all through, and that’s where this movie falters.

Dulquer Salmaan is brilliant as Ram. His characterization makes you fall in love with him. Mrunal Thakur scores big on her Telugu debut; she looks lovely and utilizes her expressive eyes effectively. Sumanth has a meaty role and does justice. Rashmika’s act could have been better; it felt like she did the film just for the heck of it. There are numerous actors from across industries in the film but almost all of them either have a single frame or are under-utilized.

Music by Vishal Chandrasekhar is alright but nothing great. Editing by Kotagiri Venkateswara Rao is decent considering the slow screenplay; at almost 2 hours 45 minutes, the film is too long, but I doubt he could have done anything about it. Cinematography by P. S. Vinod and Shreyaas Krishna is a major asset to the film. The Kashmir valley is stunningly picturized, and so are the buildings and frames of the 1960s. Production by Vyjayanthi is commendable.

Is it worth your time and money?: Sita Ramam is a beautiful love story with its moments, but it falters because of its slow paced and shoddy screenplay. So, watch it if you have the time and patience.

Worth mention: The chemistry between the lead pair.

Acting: 8/10
Story-Screenplay-Direction: 6/10
Technical Aspects: 7.5/10

Verdict: 7/10

Restaurant Reviews by Sasikanth Paturi

Here’s a list of all the restaurant reviews! 🙂


London


Hyderabad 


RoW

Dhaba 49 | Restaurant Review

Place: Dhaba 49 
Location: 49 Chippenham Rd
Cuisine: Indian 
Meal: Take-away
On: Tuesday, 28 June 2022

Dhaba 49 happens to be the closest Indian restaurant to our place, but we never, for whatever reason had the opportunity to dine in here over the last four months we’ve lived in London. However, come last Tuesday, utilizing Just Eat’s Cheeky Tuesday offer, we ordered a Paneer Butter Masala, a couple of Butter Naan, and a Pilau Rice.

Though the place is about 500 meters away from our house, it took about an hour for the order to be delivered. (I actually cancelled an order a while ago cos it said the estimated delivery time was about 90 minutes).

Dhaba 49 Naan

The Paneer Butter masala (PBM) had too much ginger and was a little too tomatoey for my liking. The paneer however was fresh, so we managed to empty the box. The Butter Naan could have done with some more butter.

Dhaba 49 PilauThe Pilau rice was decent, but again, like with almost every Indian restaurant in London, bland. I wish people added a little more salt while cooking the rice, or at last after. The rice, also, was too oily.

Overall, a mediocre meal. I read good reviews about this place online but maybe because of my expectations, was disappointed. PBM is the basic Indian dish for any vegetarian, and according to me, it tells you how good or bad a restaurant is; if you can’t get your PBM right, you can’t get anything right! While Dhaba 49’s PBM wasn’t totally bad, there is room for improvement. Also, the hour waiting time is a bit too much especially when they are so close by.

I’d definitely dine at this place sometime soon, once my extended family comes by. Until then…

Food: 7/10
Service: N/A
Ambiance: N/A
Meal for 2: £16.50 (offer)

Verdict: 7/10

Portobello Health Foods | Restaurant Review

Place: Portobello Health Foods  
Location:  269A Portobello Rd 
Cuisine: Fast-food 
Meal: Take-away
On: Saturday, 25 June 2022

Looking for Vegetarian food options near my place on Google, stumbled across this small Vegetarian/Vegan joint on Portobello Road. Given that this was a Saturday, headed out to try this place as well as to experience the Portobello Road Market.

We walked in at about 3:00 PM and saw this large spread of offerings from different cuisines. It is an order-your-meal kinda place where you pick anything you want from the offerings, in either small, medium, or large boxes. There is a small seating area in the store but that would cost you extra 60 pence.

Portobello Health Foods

We opted for the large box as we wanted to try a bit of everything, and this gave us more scope to do that. We asked for some lasagne, grilled mushrooms, beans, rice, vegetables, broccoli, a couple of other things I don’t remember, and loads of potato wedges.

The overall meal tasted good, but some of the items were a little too bland. I wish they had some kinda condiments and sauces to make things wild. The large box cost us about 10 quid, the medium is £8.95, and the small is for £7.2. I am not sure if these prices are justifiable, but for the variety, maybe it deserves a try once in a while.

Food: 8/10
Service: N/A
Ambiance: N/A
Meal for 1: £9.95

Verdict: 7.5/10

Apna Adda | Restaurant Review

Place: Apna Adda
Location: Leicester Square
Cuisine: Indian

June 2022     July 2022


Meal: Take-away
On: Thursday, 2 June 2022

After a fruitful day of celebrating Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, we were looking for a place to quench our hunger. Felt like eating Indian (again), and decided to drop in at Saravana Bhavan at Leicester Square. There was waiting, and while we did that, I looked at their menu and realized that everything was overpriced (as we just dined at SB at East Ham a few days ago which wasn’t expensive at all). So looked for alternates in the area and found this small Indian eatery right around the corner.

Apna Adda

A couple of blocks away from Empire Cinemas (Cineworld), located right next to Bella Italia, you’d probably miss this unless you look closely. Apna Adda is a small shop with just a couple of tables. Having realized that dining in will not be possible, we decided to do a take-away, and ordered a portion of Veg. Spring Rolls, Veg. Hakka Noodles, Kaju Curry, and a couple of Naan. I was told it would take about 30 minutes for the order to be ready.

We explored the Piccadilly Circus area for a while, picked up the food, and hopped on a bus home. Our lil one was hungry, so we opened the Spring Rolls on our way. 7 small rolls were served along with some sweet chilli sauce, and they tasted alright. They probably were frozen ones you get at a supermarket, which justifies the size and more or less bland taste.

We were really excited to try the noodles and didn’t waste any time dug in the moment we reached home (without clicking any pictures). Unfortunately, they turned out bleh. With excessive soy sauce, they had a strong taste which I did not enjoy.

The Kaju Curry however was yummy. Loaded with cashew nuts (Kaju), the tomato gravy was perfect. I would have maybe preferred it a little spicier though. The Naan was decent, but the corners were a little too thick.

Overall, an okay meal. Our Indo-Chinese experience was mediocre while Indian food turned out to be good. Reasonably priced, they have quite an extensive menu. I’d definitely try this place again, hopefully soon!

Food: 7.5/10
Service: N/A
Ambiance: N/A
Meal for 3: £22.46


Meal: Dinner (Take 2)
On: Thursday, 7 July 2022

Dropped in here last week for dinner before a movie, and ordered a Vegetable Biryani. I then settled at a table on the street where there were quite a few entertaining performances to keep me engaged while the food was being prepared. 

Biryani

In about 10 minutes, the Biryani was served alongside some raita. This was dum-style Biryani with the curry at the bottom and rice on top, garnished with some coriander and fried onions. While the rice was perfect, I thought the curry was a bit on the spicy side, which made me sweat at the end of my meal. It may not be the best Biryani, but wasn’t bad either.

Food: 8/10
Service: 8/10
Ambiance: 8/10
Meal for 1: £6.95


Verdict: 8/10

Aladin | Restaurant Review

Place: Aladin Indian Restuarant  
Location:  Brick Ln, London 
Cuisine: Indian 
Meal: Dinner (with wifey and our lil one)
On: Sunday, 26 June 2022

On a lazy Saturday afternoon, we were in the neighbourhood to get our Indian groceries but were hungry as well, so we decided to hog first. Brick Lane is a street full of Indian and Bangladeshi food joints, with people calling out to you while walking on the street to try their restaurants. This was pretty late in the day for lunch (around 4:00 PM), so most of these eateries were empty. Not wanting to be the only patrons, we decided to walk into a restaurant that had at least a few tables occupied, and this turned out to be Aladin.

Located right opposite Brick Lane’s Food market (Upmarket) which houses some international food stalls, Aladin is a sizeable joint spread across two shops and is pretty much on the busy street so can be loud at times. We were led to a table of 6 where 2 seats on either side were already occupied by a couple of girls, and we were like, what? Then the guy separated the table to make it a 4+2 seater with little gap between them. We settled down uncomfortably, for I felt that we were intruding into their space. Almost all the tables were similarly placed, cramped next to each other. On the bright side, the place was brightly lit and looked spacious, thanks to the mirrors on the walls.

The entire staff seemed to be in a hurry which gave it an impression of a fast-food joint rather than a dining restaurant. One of the many guys came with the menus, and without even giving us any breathing space. asked if we wanted papad. I said no without thought, and he removed the pre-set plates from the table. We eventually asked for the papad while placing our order, and he got the plates back along with some condiments

Papad

For the main course, we ordered Paneer Pasanda/Korma, a Butter Naan, a couple of chapathis, and a Vegetable Biryani.

Paneer Korma

The food was served all at once in about 15 minutes. While the Paneer Korma was decent; the gravy was little on the sweet side and could have been more refined. Naan

The Naan was full of butter, soft, and tasted good.

Biryani

Vegetable Korma

The Biryani was served alongside some Mixed Vegetable Korma. The Biryani, while good, could have had more vegetables and little more masala (and salt) for it tasted bland without the korma, which in itself was alright.

Still hungry, for the portions weren’t that great, wifey decided to get a portion of Garlic Rice which was served in a few minutes. This had a lot of garlic, yes, but was dripping in oil. Again, needed salt.

Overall, an average meal. The food was decent but the experience wasn’t great. The hustle around us was getting too much to handle. To add to this, a scribbled note was presented to us as the bill for a whopping 40 quid, which I later, after stepping out of the restaurant, realized was at least 7 or 8 quid more than what we should have been charged for what we ordered (and if I read the scribble right, we were charged £2.5 for the papad!). This place is apparently voted as “One of the World’s Best Curry Houses'” in London, but I highly doubt they can be anything with this pathetic service.

Food: 7.5/10
Service: 4/10
Ambiance: 6/10
Meal for 3: £39.75

Verdict: 6/10

Aladin Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato