Bajrangi Bhaijaan | Movie Review

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 Pakistani girl and her saviour who helps her reach home. Director Kabir Khan does full justice to this simple thread by narrating it beautifully. 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 movie’s first half, 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 how he narrated the flashback episodes as stories intertwined into the script.

Salman Khan is brilliant as Pavan; he plays the character with so much ease while portraying the right emotions and oozing 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 definitely is one of the finest actors in our industry. The movie’s real star 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. The cinematography by Aseem Mishra is perfect; the way he used drones to showcase a few shots is worth mentioning.

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 in the right place and is definitely worth a watch!

Worth mention: All the scenes with Harshaali and Salman, particularly 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 need more movies like this!

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

ABCD 2 | Movie Review

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 | Movie Review

Dil Dhadakne Do

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 | Movie Review

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 doppelgänger 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 | Movie Review

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 | Movie Review

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

Detective Byomkesh Bakshy | Movie Review

Detective Byomkesh BakshyPeople have been talking about the Doordarshan serial Detective Byomkesh Bakshy, and how good it was, but I somehow don’t remember ever watching it. And I’m glad I don’t, cause that kinda made me enjoy the movie without comparing it to anything.

I’ve enjoyed all of Dibakar Banarjee movies till date, and while all of his previous films dealt with reality, this is his first try at fiction. While the script does justice to the character created by Sharadindu Bandyopadhyay, I thought Dibakar faltered in showcasing it on the screen. For a thriller, the screenplay was awkwardly haphazard; I really had to concentrate to understand what was happening, and rattle my brain for it all to make sense. Yes, one needs to use their thought process to enjoy a thriller, but not to an extent when it starts to get onto your nerves. Nevertheless, I found the direction to be spot on. The climax proves the calibre of Dibakar as a director; pure genius.

The movie scores big time on acting front, with near splendid performances by almost everyone. Sushant Singh Rajput put his best foot forward and came up with a memorable act. Anand Tiwari is brilliant as Ajit, and so is Neeraj Kabi as the antagonist. Swastika Mukherjee and Divya Menon are decent, while the rest of the cast does well.

Music (by various artists) is perfect and goes well with the flow of the movie. Editing by Manas Mittal and Namrata Rao is neat, and cinematography by Nikos Andritsakis is excellent. Production values, especially the set, are great.

Is it worth your time and money??: If not for the chaotic screenplay, I think it’s a good watch. I’m actually looking forward to the sequel, and so should you!

Worth mention: The climax!

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

Verdict: 8/10

Shamitabh | Movie Review

shamitabh-poster

Both of R. Balki’s previous films (Cheeni Kum and Paa) have been different, and Shamitabh is no exception. However, this time, it gets too predictable and monotonous.

Shamitabh starts off with Dhanush accepting laurels for the performance in his début film, his speech being in Amitabh’s voice. Then we are told the story detailing a young dumb boy’s love for movies, his journey to Bollywood wanting to be an actor, and how he gets Amitabh’s voice. Balki showcases all of this in an entertaining manner. While the story seemed unrealistic, thanks to witty dialogues and perfect direction, you have a delightful first half. But come second half, the film seems like a bore, the flow goes for a toss, and the climax is clichéd. Wish Balki tried to do something different here (just like the ‘Piddly’ song).

Dhanush puts up an engaging performance as the dumb wannabe actor. His countenances when he makes it large, and his interactions with Bachchan are superb. Akshara has a meaty role and she does a good job. Her dialogue delivery was pretty good. The true star however, is not Amitabh Bachchan, but his voice. Not that Amitabh’s performance was bad, it was in fact splendid, but it’s his voice which adds life to this film.

Music by Ilayaraaja is a another asset to this film. It’s soothing and seemed just perfect. Cinematography by P C Sreeram is neat. Editing by Hemanti Sarkar could have been better; the second half seemed unnecessarily long, and could have done away with some cuts.

Is it worth your time and money??: Though the second half plays spoil sport, Shamitabh deserves a watch for the performances by all three leads.

Worth mention: Amitabh’s voice!

Acting: 9/10
Story-Screenplay-Direction: 7.5/10
Technical Aspects: 8.5/10

Verdict: 8/10

Baby | Movie Review

baby

The Wednesday was a brilliant film, while Special 26 was a good watch. Come Baby, Neeraj Pandey seems to have got lost in the world of big budget Bollywood movies. One would expect something more sensible from him.

Director Neeraj Pandey’s Baby has nothing new to offer. Like most of the thrillers, Baby starts off with an episode where the our hero, a secret intelligence officer, saves the day by fighting tons of goons all by himself. Thanks to the big budget, this happens in Istanbul. Next we are told that there’s a bigger terrorist attack planned, and our hero and his team need to fight more goons (all from the neighbouring country). They first go to Nepal, and then to Saudi Arabia. Forget Hollywood, the same plot has been used in so many Hindi movies till date. Even the screenplay has nothing new in store; in fact, its at times stupid and illogical. The only plus point of this otherwise predictable and long movie are its witty dialogues. Pandey also succeeds in inserting humour in some episodes. These apart, Pandey disappoints big time (given the expectations). Direction actually is way below par, especially in the first 30 odd minutes.

Akshay Kumar shines in one of the sensible roles he’s played in recent times. While he looks good with a moustache, it could have been better groomed (for it looked more like a sticker on his face). Danny Denzongpa does a good job as the mission head. Rana and Taapsee have minimal screen presence (about 10 minutes each), and while Tapsee does a perfect job, Rana was expressionless. Anupam Kher entertains in a small role, and so does Murali Sharma. The guy who played the Maulana, Rasheed Naz, did good.

There’s only half a song in the movie (apart from the end-credit song), and both of them are decent. Background score is neat. Cinematography by Suddep Chatterjee is good. Editing by Narayan Singh could have been better. For a thriller, the movie was a little too long. Also, the second half being twice as long as the first doesn’t help in engaging the audience.

Is it worth your time and money??: Baby isn’t really a bad watch. But at the same time, it doesn’t match up to your expectations either. While the actors are a plus point, the mediocre screenplay and direction play spoilsport. Give it a watch only if you have nothing better to do. Actually, walk in without any expectations, and you might actually enjoy it.

Worth mention: Acting and cinematography.

Acting: 8/10
Story-Screenplay-Direction: 6/10
Technical Aspects: 8.5/10

Verdict: 7.5/10

PS: It was funny to watch Akshay signalling a guy on the street to not to look into the camera (or at him) while in a shot. What the *beep* was the director doing?? :O

PK | Movie Review

PK

3 Idiots was a great film and it would have had to be something extraordinary to beat it. The expectations were super high, and after almost 5 years in the making, PK delivers, but does not excel.

All of Rajkumar Hirani’s three movies to date have had a social message, and PK is no exception. This time it’s about religious extremism. While a little jittery in the first few minutes, the next 90 minutes are absolute fun. Almost every episode makes you ponder over religious beliefs while making you roll in your seats. These 90 minutes are pure brilliance on direction front and showcase why Hirani is one of the finest directors in our industry. But then come second half, the script goes haywire, especially the talk show and the embassy episodes (both seemed goofy). Hirani and co-writer Abhijat Joshi also falter on screenplay in this half of the movie. Nevertheless, it’s a bold attempt on their front to showcase such extremism, and they need to be commended for their work. If only they excelled with a better ending!

The character is perfectly etched for Aamir and he is outstanding. Him carrying the same expression till he starts speaking Bhojpuri is worth a mention, and even otherwise, this probably is his best performance after Rang De Basanti. Anushka Sharma could have performed better (or rather should have underperformed), but she still is bearable. Sushant Singh Rajput impresses in his brief appearance and so does Sanjay Dutt. Surprisingly, Boman Irani has limited screen presence (for a Hirani film) and he is good. Saurabh Shukla is impressive as the godman.

Music by Shantanu Moitra, Ankit Tiwari and Ajay Atul is decent. Lyrics by Swanand Kirkire and Amitabh Varma need special mention for they are apt for the situations. Editing by Rajkumar Hirani could have been better. Cinematography by Muraleedharan is neat.

Is it worth your time and money??: There are a lot of expectations from an Aamir Khan movie, and they become ten-fold when the director is Rajkumar Hirani. While PK excels in most parts, the message is lost down the lane, and the ending seemed patchy. However, it is still a good movie thanks to some brilliant acting by the perfect Khan. While religious fanatics might not enjoy it, PK is a good watch for the rest.

So do you have company dhabba (stamp) on you?? 😛

Worth mention: Undoubtedly Aamir as PK. Him apart, the temple, church and mosque episodes are epic.

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

Verdict: 8.5/10

PS: I was just having the same discussion about religion with my mom the other day – God and religion are man-made concepts which help us live in sanity but not someone/something which punishes or instill fear in us. While I couldn’t convince her entirely, the movie helped in conveying my point to her 🙂