Archive for Sasikanth

Movie Reviews

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

Rating >= 8 – Red
Rating >= 9 – Red

English

Hindi

Telugu

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

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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

Kabali

Kabali

He’s¬†the Superstar. His movies are expected to be a treat. Fans adore and worship him, are crazy about him. But he has been disappointing them time and again in the recent past. Kabali is no exception.

Directed by Ranjith, the movie starts¬†off with¬†Kabali being¬†released from a prison in Malaysia after 25 years, where he once was regarded as the good gangster. The police requests him to stay away from the mob, but our Superstar heads straight into the (smaller) Dragons den. He does his thing, and Malaysia knows he’s back. They celebrate with a song. That’s it; those are probably the best moments of the entire film. Ranjith loses the plot right away. He seemed to have an idea of what he wanted to showcase, but that doesn’t transpire onto the screen – this is the biggest problem with Kabali. The mediocre screenplay and disastrous direction ensure we have another flop for the Superstar. A gangster film needs to be fast¬†paced and slick, but Kabali is neither. It’s a drag – Kabali going from one house to another in search of his dead wife was the biggest bore of them all. The climax was most clich√©d; and what was the post climax scene? Ranjith,¬†you’ve made a lot of enemies man!

Rajni – the name which is enough to ensure that halls are full no matter where in the world you are, the name which is enough to make people pay thousands to buy the tickets, the name which is enough to make fans go gaga – is the only saving grace of this dud of a film. He tries his best, again,¬†to keep the boat sailing, but can’t help much. Radhika Apte (who never ages) is alright as his better half. The rest of the cast, be it Dhansika,¬†Riythvika,¬†Dinesh Ravi, or Kishore, they all overact like there’s no tomorrow. Not one makes an impression.

Music by Santosh Narayan is alright. The background score (Nippu ra) is very peppy and ensures that you don’t snore. Editing by Praveen should have been crisp. A number of scenes could have made the cut. Cinematography by Murali is decent. Production values are good, but what’s the use?

Is it worth your time and money??:¬†Rajni charms you with his smile and expressions, but the movie fails to impress you on the whole. Even hardcore Rajni fans in the theatre couldn’t hide their disappointment.

Rajni – the name which is enough to ensure that halls are full no matter where in the world you are – the halls won’t be full for more than a couple of days for Kabali.

Worth mention: Rajni and the background score.

Acting: 7/10 (only for Rajni and Radhika)
Story-Screenplay-Direction: 5.5/10
Technical Aspects: 6.5/10

Verdict: 5/10 + 1 for Rajni

PS: It was nice to see Rajni not romancing anyone!

PS: The movie might be a little better in Tamil, for the dialogues in Telugu were disastrous!

Restaurant Reviews

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

Rating >= 8 —¬†Red
Rating >= 9 — Red

Serafina

Place: Serafina
Location: SLN Terminus, Gachibowli – Kondapur Road
Cuisine: Italian
Meal: Dinner (with wifey)

Serafina is an international chain of Italian restaurants with more than 30 outlets in seven countries, and comes as a new addition to the already packed Italian gourmet space in Hyderabad. Located on the third level of the newly constructed SLN Terminus mall near Kondapur, the restaurant has perfect ambiance for a night with family or friends. I dropped in with wifey for a tasting session a couple of weeks ago, and we settled at a cozy table on the outdoor seating area overseeing the bustling Friday traffic.

Having just returned from a trip from Italy, their menu looked very familiar. There were a number of options to choose from, and the greedy foodie in me wanted to try a bit of everything. So we asked the on-floor manager to bring us small portions of their best offerings.

We were to start with a small portion of the tomato, basil and mozzarella antipasti and their D. Chopra salad, which I read is named as tribute to author Deepak Chopra who happens to be a regular at their NY outlet. While we were waiting for the traditional first course, the bread basket was placed on our table.

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Served along with Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar in a grape cruet, their breads very fresh and irresistibly soft. I gulped down three pieces even before I realized so.

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The antipasti and insalate looked very appetizing. The mozzarella was fresh and went along with tomato and basil; and the D. Chopra salad which had¬†mixed greens, pears, cherry tomatoes, corn, asparagus, and walnuts salad with lemon vinaigrette dressing was alright. As appetizing as it looked, these¬†proved that I’m not a ghaas-phoos salad eating guy!

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To go along with our meal, we ordered a Virgin Pina colada and an Orange Mojito. The Pina colada was creamy, coconutty and just perfect, and the Mojito was not bad either. Forget wine, these drinks kept us satisfied.

Ordering the main-course was the tricky part; all of their pizza’s seemed interesting, and I honestly wanted a piece of everything. We finally asked¬†for the Al Porcini pizza, Tagliolini di Portofino and Lasagne. The Manager suggested we also try the Paglia e Fieno pasta, and we obliged.

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They couldn’t do a small version of the pizza, so we got the full size one and it looked yum. The crust was perfectly baked, and the cream sauce was finger licking good. I would have preferred a little more flavouring; thankfully we had oregano and chilli flakes were at our disposal. Good stuff!

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Next came the home-made Tagliolini in pesto sauce and this tasted equally delicious. The pesto sauce was strong and creamy, and the pine nuts added nice crunch.

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The Lasagne was a little disappointing compared to the meal so far, for the sauce was too thin and there was too much eggplant. We couldn’t taste anything but for the eggplant, not even the cheese.

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The recommended Fettuccine pasta didn’t really live up to our expectations either. It was a little too dry and not something I’d try again.

And then, it was time for the desserts; we asked for a Chocolate Mousse while the Manager recommended the Tiramisu.

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The mousse turned out to be excellent; it was as good as it could get. Creamy, chocolaty yet subtle. The white chocolate wafer was yum. Toothsome!

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Their Tiramisu came without liquor, and while it tasted alright, I wasn’t really happy for the mascarpone cheese didn’t really feel perfect. I’ve just tasted the best Tiramisu at its origins, that’s probably the reason why I couldn’t relish this so much.

Overall, a good meal with the pizza and the mousse being clear winners. They could add more variety to their starters for there wasn’t anything more than bread or cheese. While the authenticity is being maintained, I’m guessing not many folks would appreciate it for what finally matters along with¬†the food taste is the¬†pricing. While they are more or less spot-on on the taste front, the exorbitant pricing is something one needs to get used to (a single item on their menu could¬†cost¬†you thousand bucks!). Nevertheless, it definitely deserves a visit; perfect ambiance, courteous service and good¬†food is what awaits you here.

Food: 8/10
Service: 9/10
Ambiance: 9/10
Meal for 2:¬†N/A (it’s expensive!)

Verdict: 8.5/10

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

Mamagoto

Place: Mamagoto
Location: Opp. Audi Showroom, Road No. 12, Banjara Hills
Cuisine: Chinese
Meal: Dinner (with amma and wifey)

After a long hiatus, I’m back with the review of a tasting session at the¬†newly opened Pan Asian restaurant chain¬†in town¬†– Mamagoto.¬†Located on the ground floor of the same building as Zafraan Exotica, Mamagoto is a vibrant joint which boasts about its bright interiors and loud noise levels. The place was packed on Friday evening when we dropped in, and maybe because of the crowd, it all seemed too crammed. We had to wait for a few minutes before a table was arranged for us, and the on-floor Manager was kind enough to take our order while we were waiting. She helped us choose, and made sure that food was served soon after we settled down at a small table in the center of the restaurant in the ground floor.

For starters, we ordered Water Chestnut Spring Rolls and Old School Gyoza Dumplings. For drinks, I asked for a Chennai Chiller smoothie, wifey ordered a Virgin Sangria, and amma had their innovative Litchi Pop Rock.

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The Chennai Chiller was a refreshing mix of pineapple, coconut, banana and honey, blended with yogurt. I think it was the best drink of the lot. The Litchi Pop Rock turned our to be a flavoured ice-gola, and was equally good. The Orange flavoured Virgin Sangria was alright.

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The Spring rolls were served along with a tangy chilli black bean jam. The rolls were crispy, and excellent. The water chestnut taste was mild, and gave it a special taste. The jam served along was amazingly yummy (wifey never let go of it till the end of our meal!)

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We were expecting the Old School Gyoza aka lightly pan-fried vegetable dumplings with spicy momo sauce to be very spicy, but they were more or less mild. Nevertheless, they tasted very good with the stuffing being delicious.

We asked our waiter for suggestions on the main course, and he recommended we try the Spicy Bangkok Rice Bowl. I wanted to try the Pad Thai, but instead opted for the Chiang Mai Train Station Noodles.

Food was served in about ten minutes, but there seemed to be something fishy for I saw egg on the rice bowl. When enquired if the food served was vegetarian (as I ordered for veggie versions of everything), I was informed it was chicken. Confusion! They apologised, and took the food back.

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A little while later, our food was on the table, and we ensured it was vegetarian. The Spicy Bangkok Rice Bowl turned out to be regular fried rice with garlic flavour to it. Unlike the name, there was nothing spicy about it. However, it tasted pretty good. Nothing great, just good.

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The Chiang Mai Train Station Noodles looked yum, and also tasted yum. This reminded me of the amazingly awesome Kaukswe Noodles you get at Relish in Mumbai. The Coconut milk sauce with burnt onion and garlic was finger licking good. Yummilicious!

To end the meal, I asked for a Chocolate Cheese Cake and, though I’m not a big fan of caramel, picked their home-made Caramel Sponge Cake as the waiter recommended it.

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Again, there was confusion, and the waiter got back to us with their home-made Chocolate Cake instead of the Sponge Cake. I asked him not to replace it as this looked tempting. The accidental Chocolate cake turned out to be delectable; good that I avoided caramel.

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The Chocolate Cheese Cake was a combination of dark and white chocolate, and tasted alright. I would have preferred it to be more light, but no qualms.

Overall, a pretty good meal. All the items served made a mark, with the Chiang Mai Train Station Noodles making a big impression on my palate. The service team seemed a little offbeat, and it looked like the many waiters on floor were the cause of confusion all around. They need to hold fort before something goes haywire. On price front,¬†the place is definitely heavy on the pocket, and the quantity of food served isn’t a plus point. Nevertheless, the ambiance and the food make it a worthy visit¬†once in a while visit. Give it a go, and do tell me what you liked best!

And ya, don’t let the word spicy on their menu fool you ūüôā

Food: 9/10
Service: 7.5/10
Ambiance: 8.5/10
Meal for 3: N/A

Verdict: 8/10

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

The Good Dinosaur

the-good-dinosaur

After a movie about feelings having feelings, Pixar’s back with a movie on dinosaur’s having feelings; and that is The Good Dinosaur’s biggest disadvantage. Inside Out was so good that anything after it would have to be superlatively awesome, and unfortunately, this one’s just good.

Directed by Peter Sohn, The Good Dinosaur tells the story of young Arlo, an offspring of a farming¬†Apatosaurus family. Unlike his siblings, Arlo is timid and feeble. Everything changes¬†once he¬†comes across a critter (a caveboy)¬†who helps him¬†discover life and outgrow his fears. The story is simple and very predictable, and this makes The Good Dinosaur feel like a movie you’ve already watched in the past. However, direction by Sohn ensures that you connect with Arlo; you laugh with him, and you cry with him. Pixar’s family bonding is also abundant in the movie. Screenplay by¬†Meg LeFauve is neat.

Not that Raymond Ochoa did a bad job, but I thought Arlo could have been voiced better. The rest of the voice cast is alright.

Music by¬†Mychael Danna and Jeff Danna is good. Editing by¬†Stephen Schaffer is neat while¬†Sharon Calahan’s cinematography is worth a mention. On the downside, The Good Dinosaur doesn’t feel for like a Pixar movie; it could pass as one from any other animation studio.

Is it worth your time and money?:¬†The Good Dinosaur might not be a great film, but it’s worth a watch for its got its heart at the right place.

Worth mention: Direction; I loved the way emotions were showcased.

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

Verdict: 8/10

Creed

Creed

I’ve always been a fan of the Rocky franchise, and so for obvious reasons, was looking forward to this movie; and thankfully, it lived up to my expectations.

Co-scripted and directed by Ryan Coogler, Creed showcases the life of Adonis, son of legendary boxer Apollo Creed. True to his bloodline, Adonis aims¬†to make it big in the boxing arena, but wants to make his own mark, not as a Creed. In comes Rocky Balboa to help the kid, and next thing we know, he’s fighting for the championship. The story¬†is mostly predictable, but Coogler ensured to stay true to the script. I liked the way he intertwined Adonis’ battle with Rocky’s, and added Bianca’s story-line to add substance. Screenplay is neat and effective.

Micheal Jordon is good as Creed, and is impressive in the ring. Tessa Thompson is alright as his love interest. It’s a cake walk for Sylvester Stallone who reprises his role for the seventh time. Looks like he gets better on the acting front with every movie.

Music by¬†Ludwig G√∂ransson is pretty neat. I badly wanted to hear the Rocky theme (Gonna Fly Now), and while the soundtrack doesn’t compare to it, it is still effective.¬†Editing by Claudia Castello Michael and P. Shawver is good. Cinematography by¬†Maryse Alberti is excellent. I loved the way he shot the first bout in a single frame.

Is it worth your time and money?: Definitely yes. Creed is a perfect spin-off to the Rocky series, and it keeps the franchise alive. It definitely is one of my top movies of the year.

Worth mention: Excellent cinematography.

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

Verdict: 8/10

The Martian

The Martian

America has spent a lot on getting Matt Damon back; we first had Saving Private Ryan, then Interstellar, and now The Martian. Why don’t they reach out to his look-alike Mark Wahlberg instead? ūüėõ

Directed by Ridley Scott, who’s worked a set of duds in the recent past, The Martian is a movie about getting an astronaut who is incorrectly presumed dead and left behind on the planet Mars back to Earth. While I have not read¬†Andy Weir’s novel, I thought the screenplay by ¬†Drew Goddard was pretty weak. With the entire story line being revealed in the trailer, there wasn’t anything¬†gripping showcased on-screen.¬†There were also a few episodes which weren’t stitched well into the movie, and there was no effort made on¬†establishing any characters including Matt Damon’s; he’s left on Mars, and everyone’s trying to get him back – where’s the substance and/or emotion? While the direction is alright, there were no moments of awe. Too much drama towards the climax doesn’t¬†help either.

Matt Damon is very good in the lead role. He has put in a lot of effort to groom himself for the role, and it shows on-screen. While it might not be an Academy Award winning performance, it’s still a commendable one.¬†Chiwetel Ejiofor is good and so is Jeff Daniels. While the rest of the cast has big names, no one stands out for they all seemed liked pawns in a game of chess – actors without character.

Music by Harry Gregson-Williams is nothing great. Use of old disco songs seemed too monotonous after a while. Editing by Pietro Scalia could have been better. Cinematography by Dariusz Wolski is good.

Is it worth your time and money?:¬†If too much wasn’t revealed in the trailer, The Martian would probably have had more impact on the audience. Even otherwise, the weak screenplay and average¬†direction make this an average flick.

Worth mention: Acting by Matt Damon.

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

Verdict: 7.5/10