Movie Reviews by Sasikanth Paturi

Here’s a list of all the movie reviews, categorized by language πŸ™‚


English


Hindi


Telugu

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. πŸ˜‘

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

Thor: Love and Thunder | Movie Review

Thor: Love and Thunder

Thor: Ragnarok happens to be one of my favourite Marvel films for it was super fun. The banter and tiffs between Thor, Loki and Hulk (and maybe Valkyrie) gave us some best on-screen chemistry between the characters. Thor: Love and Thunder, on the other hand, while a fun film, lacks the spark and emotional connect that its predecessor did.

Directed and co-scripted by Taika Waititi, the film starts with the reinvented Thor at peace, yet desperate for a new purpose, alongside the Guardians of the Galaxy in a galaxy far, far away (no pun intended 😜). A distress signal brings him to earth where he finds his ex-lover, Dr. Jane Foster, as the Mighty Thor, holding his ex-hammer, Mjolnir. They soon realize that Gorr the God Butcher, having lost his child, Love, is, as his name suggests, on a god hunting spree. The rest of the film is about how Thor and the rest of the gang defeat Gorr.

While the storyline on paper is effective, it felt like the emotions were amiss in this almost 2-hour film which aims for a lot. There is a major clash between the serious and goofy elements, with no room for us to digest the former, which makes the film a little too overwhelming at times. The screenplay by Waititi & Jennifer Kaytin Robinson is a hit and amiss for there are a lot of tonal imbalances.

Chris Hemsworth is at his best playing Thor, and it feels like he was born to do this. However, his character arc could have been better developed for he seemed silly at times. Natalie Portman is mighty impressive as the Mighty Thor and does full justice. I however thought that her make-up was inconsistent (and maybe a little too much). The winner however is Christian Bale who acts his heart out as Gorr. Though he is the antagonist, his performance in the backstory makes you feel for him. Russell Crowe surprises with his act as Zeus.

Music by Michael Giacchino and Nami Melumad is alright. There are several featured songs effectively used in the movie. Editing by Matthew Schmidt, Peter S. Elliot, Tim Roche & Jennifer Vecchiarello could have been better for I felt that some value-adding emotional chunks maybe, have been left out. The cinematography by Barry Idoine is perfect, and I loved the way he bled the colours out in the scenes involving Gorr.

Is it worth your time and money?: As I said earlier, it is a fun movie, yes, and worth a watch, but not funny enough. Thor: Love and Thunder has its heart in the right place, but it aims for a lot without paying much heed to the emotional elements. Only if Watiti had spent a few more minutes on balancing the film, alas!

Worth mention: Christian Bale as Gorr the Butcher.

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

Verdict: 7.5/10

Vikram | Movie Review

Vikram

Kamal Haasan is one of India’s best actors. But lately, his movies, similar to his personal life, seem too self-focused. Does Vikram stand out?

Scripted and directed by Lokesh Kanagaraj (part of his cinematic universe), Vikram starts with the murders of a couple of NCB members and an ordinary man, Karnan. Amar (Fahadh Faasil), a black-ops squad/sleeper cell commander is pulled in to investigate, and soon realises that the murders are related to missing drug containers owned by Sandhanam (Vijay Sethupathi), a local cartel leader and a ruthless man. It all comes down to who’s Karnan and how Vikram (Haasan) is connected to the all of this.

In the first half, Lokesh focuses on establishing the characters of Amar and Sandhanam, while the entire second half is about the triangular conflict between Vikram, Amar and Santhanam. While things might seem a little confusing, Lokesh holds our interest thanks to the crisp screenplay in parts. However, some episodes involving Sandhanam and his abilities after getting stoned are ridiculous and even funny. I also thought the interval bang was not well executed; c’mon, there’s one guy and 100’s of goons and police, but not a single gun? There are a quite a few illogical sequences like these in the film.

Kamal Haasan plays his age but looks sophisticated and stylish. He has a paunch in the first song, and I was like, whoa. But even with it, he delivers sleek action sequences in the second half. Fahadh Faasil carries the entire first half by himself and does a fantastic job. Vijay Sethupathi looks menacing, but I thought his character was not well scripted. Narain continues his part from Kaithi as Inspector Bejoy and is decent. Suriya impresses with his act as the antagonist (future films) in the climax. The rest of the cast is alright.

Music by Anirudh Ravichander is groovy and makes an impact on screen. The title track and the music pieces (Once upon a time & Wasted) are well used as background score. Editing by Philomin Raj is mediocre at best; films of this kind need to be sharp, but he fails miserably. The cinematography by Girish Gangadharan is top-notch. The action sequences are well choreographed.

Is it worth your time and money?:If you like action and slick films, Vikram is your cup of tea. But at the same time, the screenplay might be too much to handle at times for a regular moviegoer. Also, there are references to Kaithi/Khaidi, so it might be a little difficult for you to follow if you haven’t watched it. 

Worth mention: Kamal Haasan and Fahadh Fasil’s act.

Acting: 8.5/10
Story-Screenplay-Direction: 7/10
Technical Aspects: 8/10

Verdict: 8/10

PS: It would be great if Lokesh could combine Dilli and Vikram’s characters in the next film with Rolex as the villain, rather than making two separate sequels.

Lightyear | Movie Review

Lightyear

Toy Story series happens to be one of my favourite movie series to date, and I was excited when Lightyear was announced. But the excitement died soon once the trailer was out. Unlike the Buzz in the Toy Story series, I thought that this Buzz didn’t have the warmth and lacked the nostalgic touch you’d expect; and I felt the same even after watching the movie.

Nowhere connected to the Toy Story but for the small write-up in the titles, Lightyear tells the origin story of Buzz Lightyear and his adventures as a Space Ranger. Scripted by Matthew Aldrich, Jason Headley & Angus MacLane, and directed by MacLane (who co-directed the mediocre Finding Dory in the past), Lightyear doesn’t feel like a Pixar film. Yes, the animation and graphics are great, and the movie does follow the Pixar theme of a character venturing out into the world and learning to appreciate his friends and family. Still, the emotions and core crux of connecting with the audience were amiss in this one. At the end of the movie, all I felt was, okay, that was just another one, but that’s not what you’d expect from a Pixar film, right? (oh wait, none of their movies in the recent past have felt like that! ). The confusing timeline aspect was also too much to handle (imagine having to explain that to my 3-year-old!).

Chris Evans does his best to pour life into Buzz and make the character his own, but bottom line, he’s no Tim Allen. The rest of the voice cast is alright.

Music by Michael Giacchino is okay. Editing by Anthony J. Greenberg could have been better for even at 107 minutes, the movie seemed long.

Is it worth your time and money?: Skip this one in the theatres and wait for it on Disney+.

Worth mention: Fun episodes involving Sox.

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

Verdict: 7.5/10

Major | Movie Review

major

I’ve heard good things about Major and was excited to watch this movie. However, I wasn’t much impressed. I believe that it is tough to make a biopic on a war hero, and while Adivi Sesh (script and screenplay) does his homework and comes up with a good film, too much cinematic liberty makes this just an average film for me. Maybe I would have better connected if it were a regular film.

Direction by Sashi Kiran Tikka is mediocre. The Taj siege sequence could have been better handled, for there was pretend and over-the-top action. I am sure there were some brave acts inside the hotel during the siege, but all the team did was make it look larger than life rather than making it real for the hostages and the soldiers. A more nuanced approach would have worked wonders! The woman being “alone” episode also doesn’t add any value to the film.

Adivi Sesh puts in all his mettle to look and be like Major and does a good job. Prakash Raj and Revathi are aptly cast and do their parts well. Revathi is brilliant in the last episode. Saiee Manjrekar and Sobhita Dhulipala are alright. Murali Sharma’s act could have been toned down.

Music and background score by Sricharan Pakala is effective. At about 2 hours, editing by Vinay Kumar Sirigineedi and Kodati Pavan Kalyan is good. The cinematography by Vamsi Patchipulusu is average

Is it worth your time and money?: Major isn’t a bad movie; if anything, it’s a good action movie. But when you add the tag of it being a biopic, it doesn’t work. I am sure Sandeep Unnikrishnan did more courageous stuff than what is showcased in the movie. But, Sesh and the director make his sacrifice for the nation look more commercial and action-oriented rather than making it real and connectable. Also, too much sentiment and cinema/drama dilute the effect. 

Worth mention: Adivi Sesh’s act as Maj. Sandeep.

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

Verdict: 7/10

Ante Sundaraniki | Movie Review

Ante Sundaraniki

First things first, I like Nani. He usually picks sensible subjects, but of late, it seems like he too is taking the formulaic route. Post Jersey, none of his movies made an impact, apart from maybe Shyam Singha Roy (which I thought was a decent watch). Come Ante Sundaraniki, he’s back at his favourite genre, and I was eagerly waiting to see if he still has the charm to woo the audience as he did for, say Ala Modalindi or Bhale Bhale Magadivoy

Scripted and directed by Vivek Athreya, Ante Sundaraniki tells the story of Sundar, a confused Hindu guy from an orthodox Brahmin family, and Leela, a strong girl from a Christian family. As you’d expect, they fall in love, and Sundar conceives a plan with some significant lies to convince their families for the wedding.

It’s more or less a simple story, but Vivek has handled the subject with a lot of maturity; the film is bold and addresses many unspoken topics, such as choice of pregnancy, infertility, etc., while never trying to be preachy.  Every character is very well written and makes an impact on screen. Coming from similar family background, I could relate to most of the content. I loved how Vivek (I’m guessing from his own experiences) showcased the rawness of a Telugu Brahmin household (including the cuss words ). There are some illogical sequences, but he has integrated them so seamlessly into the comedic narrative that you don’t tend to delve so much into them. Thanks to the non-linear narrative, the screenplay is compelling and keeps you engrossed all through. 

It’s a cakewalk for Nani, and he excels as Sundar. His expressions while conversing with his manager are priceless. Nazriya, a Malayalee actress famous amongst the Teluguites because of Bangalore Days, compliments Nani in every frame. She’s charming, relatable, and fits into the role with ease. Dubbing for herself added value. It’s a meaty role for veteran Naresh, and he does a fantastic job as the orthodox father (he reminded me a lot of the old Naresh from Jandhyala movies). Rohini is apt as the mother and does a commendable job in the final act. Nadhiya and Azhagam Perumal are alright as Leela’s parents. Prudhvi gets a good show after a long time as Sundar’s uncle. Harsha Vardhan is perfect as Sundar’s manager, and the cameos by Rahul Ramakrishna and Anupama Parameswaran are effective. The child artists who played young Sundar and Leela are excellent.

Music by Vivek Sagar is decent. I liked the fact that the songs are blended into the background score. The choreography for the first song with the child artist is worth mentioning.  No qualms with the cinematography by Niketh Bommi. Editing by Ravi Teja Girijala could have been crisp, for the movie seemed a little too long. Production values by Mythri Movie Makers are good.

Is it worth your time and money?: I loved the movie, and so did my better half. Ante Sundaraniki is a neat and clean romcom. However, not all might appreciate the overarching message, for I know that we still have people in our society who don’t look beyond caste, religion, superstitions, and other social issues. If you aren’t one such soul, enjoy the movie!

Worth mention: The beautiful chemistry between Nani and Nazriya (would you believe if I said there’s absolutely no intimacy between the lead pair but still it still makes an impact?), and effective storytelling.

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

Verdict: 8.5/10

Top Gun: Maverick | Movie Review

Top Gun

Top Gun, released a month after I was born 36 years ago, is considered a cult classic and remains relevant in pop culture decades after its release. Though it is an aviation-themed drama, the stylish, action-packed sequences and some of the most amazing aerial footage make it one of Tom Cruise’s best films. Does the sequel have enough meat in comparison?

Top Gun: Maverick takes off more or less where Top Gun ended. A few months after serving as a trainer at the Top Gun academy, Maverick (Cruise) moves into different roles within the Navy, not lasting at any of them for long. Thirty years down the line, thanks to Iceman (Kilmer), he gets an opportunity to train the best of the best Top Gun fighter pilots for a special/deadly mission. Part of the pilot group is Rooster (Teller), son of Maverick’s best friend Goose (from the first film). There’s tension between Maverick and Rooster, and the rest of the film is about how they succeed working together. 

Scripted by Peter Craig and Justin Marks, the storyline is similar to the predecessor but stronger and sans the drama. Director Joseph Kosinski handles the relationship between Maverick and Rooster, and the banter between the Top Gun candidates in a suitable manner. Rooster and Hangman (Powell) remind you of Maverick and Iceman from the first film. The subtle romantic thread between Maverick and Penny (who didn’t make an appearance but was just mentioned in Top Gun) and the climax stood out for me personally. The screenplay by Ehren Kruger, Eric Warren Singer and Christopher McQuarrie is alright. I, however, felt that the pace of the film was a bit slow at times, especially in the parts where there was a wee bit of drama. 

Tom Cruise, what can be said about this guy! Though age shows in a couple of frames, he looks dashing as ever (I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t smitten by him while watching the movie). Miles Teller has a vital role, and he delivers.  Jennifer Connelly is good as Penny, and so are Jon Hamm and Monica Barbaro. Glen Powell makes an impression. Ed Harris and Val Kilmer make cameos.

On the music front, the Top Gun Anthem and Danger Zone reused from the original make an impact, and so does I Ain’t Worried by One Republic. I thought the sound mixing could have been better, especially for the film’s first few minutes (including the main titles). Editing by Eddie Hamilton could have been tight. The cinematography by Claudio Miranda is exceptional. The electrifying aerial shots are very well choreographed. 

Is it worth your time and money?: A big yes. Top Gun: Maverick is a well-executed film that, in many ways, is better than its predecessor. Tom Cruise holds the fort (like in most of his movies) and ensures you are in for a ride! Watch it in IMAX or at least a big screen for the best experience.

Worth mention: Cruise’s charm and the spectacularly shot aerial sequences.

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

Verdict: 8.5/10

Mimi | Movie Review

Mimi Poster

Director Laxman Utekar’s previous film Lukka Chuppi was a decent flick and the trailer of Mimi looks promising. But does the movie live up to its expectations? 

Scripted and screen-written by Utekar and Rohan Shankar, Mimi, a loose remake of the 2011 Marathi film Mala Aai Vhhaychy! (which was remade in Telugu as Welcome Obama in 2013), tells you the story of a young damsel from Rajasthan, wanting to make it big in Mumbai. In want of quick money, coordinated by a local taxi driver Bhanu, she agrees to be a surrogate mother of an American couple. Few months into the pregnancy, the couple backtracks when they get to know that the unborn child might have Down Syndrome. The rest of the story is about how she handles the situation, and whether she gives up on the child. 

Utekar does a good job handling the subject, infusing humor in most of the scenes. However, the reasoning for the doctor revealing that the child might have a disability, knowing that they might change their decision, seemed contrived and unconvincing. Also, Mimi’s parent’s reaction when they get to know about the pregnancy could have been better showcased. They are super upset in the first instance, and the scene turns comic when Mimi lies that Bhanu is the father. Some of the dialogues are well-written and impactful. 

Kriti Sanon gets a meaty role, and she excels playing Mimi. She should be commended for taking up such a challenging role. Manoj Pahwa and Supriya Pathak are alright as her parents, but their characters could have been more powerful. The showstopper however is Pankaj Tripathi. With perfect yet subtle comic timing, this is one of his best performances.

Music by A. R. Rehman is not the best, but passable. I liked “Hututu” song in particular. The background score was a little uneven though. The cinematography by Akash Agarwal, and editing by Manish Pradhan are good. A little over 2 hours, the film’s length is just about perfect. 

Is it worth your time and money?: It’s a good watch, yes. After Pagglait, Netflix has another good film under their belt. 

Worth mention: Pankaj Tripathi is at his best!

Acting: 8.5/10
Story-Screenplay-Direction: 7/10
Technical Aspects: 8/10

Verdict: 8/10

PS: I liked the fact that they set up the story in 2013 when foreign surrogacy was still legal in India (banned later in 2015).

I also came across a few comments on social media that the film showcases Down Syndrome in a bad light. I agree to disagree on that point for I thought that the entire episode was dealt with maturely. Yes, they still showed it as a disability, but Mimi rejects the idea of abortion and decides to carry the child to term. If anything, the American couple is shown as small-minded fold who return for the child when they realize that he’s alright. 🀬