Dear Zindagi | Movie Review

dear-zindagi

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 feeling 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 make 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 onetime 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 | Movie Review

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 clichéd; 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!

The Good Dinosaur | Movie Review

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 | Movie Review

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 Göransson 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 | Movie Review

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? 😛

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

Bhale Bhale Magadivoy | Movie Review

Bale-Bale-Magadivoy

Nani has mostly chosen sensible subjects, and Bhale Bhale Magadivoy is another good movie in his kitty. The best thing about this movie it’s rib-tickling neat comedy (which has become a rare commodity in Telugu cinema today).

Directed by Maruthi, BBM is a simple story of an absent-minded guy who always gets into trouble because of his forgetfulness. Apart from his forgetfulness being attributed to being handicapped, and a few illogical sequences, the story is full of neat humour. Direction is good, but Maruthi could have toned down a couple of sequences involving Ajay’s character. I liked the way he infused humour into almost every character in the movie; and also, the way he integrated various famous songs into the storyline. Screenplay is apt.

Nani does full justice as the lead. He puts up a natural performance and his comic timing is amazing. Lavanya Tripathi is good as his lady-love. Murali Sharma has a meaty role, and he doesn’t disappoint. Naresh is very good, and so is Sithara. Kishore does a commendable job. I somehow did not like Ajay in the movie, for his role seemed monotonous.

Music by Gopi Sundar is fresh. A couple of tracks really stand out. Editing by Uddhav is neat. Cinematography by Nizar Shafi is very good; entire movie is very vibrant thanks to use of bright colours on-screen.

Is it worth your time and money?: Bhale Bhale Magadivoy is definitely one of the most entertaining movies this year, and definitely deserves a watch.

Worth mention: Nani; and neat humour.

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

Verdict: 8.5/10

The Gift | Movie Review

The Gift

The Gift might not have big names or a star cast, but some slick direction makes it a near perfect thriller.

Directed by Joel Edgerton, The Gift tells the story of a young couple, Simon and Robyn, moving into a suburban Los Angeles neighbourhood after Simon finds a new job outside the city. They are soon visited by Gordo, a former high school classmate of Simon’s. While Gordo thinks of Simon as a long-lost friend and showers the couple with unwarranted gifts, Simon thinks otherwise. Things turn ugly when bygones aren’t bygones any more, and we have an edge of the seat thriller at hand, thanks to some smart story telling. While most of the movie is entertaining, the ending seemed a bit clichéd. Nevertheless it’s a good try by the débutante director. The fact that the movie has a positive message, especially for today’s generation, is noteworthy.

Jason Bateman is good as Simon, while Rebecca Hall does a good job as Robyn. Joel is perfect as Gordo; he ensures to downplay the character perfectly. Rest of the cast is alright.

Music by Danny Bensi and Saunder Jurriaans is good. Editing by Luke Doolan is neat, and so is the cinematography by Eduard Grau.

Is it worth your time and money?: While it might not be a brilliant film, The Gift is a slick thriller which gives you bang for your buck.

Worth mention: The message the movie conveys.

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

Verdict: 8/10

Manjhi – The Mountain Man | Movie Review

Manjhi

When a credible actor like Nawazuddin Siddiqui is playing the role of Dashrath Manjhi, your exceptions of the movie go up. However, just like he did with Mangal Panday, director Ketan Mehta makes you walk out of the theatre feeling disappointed.

Manjhi – The Mountain Man, tells the story of why and how Dashrath Manjhi from Gehlaur village, near Gaya in Bihar spent 22 years of his life chiseling through a mountain to carve a path. While the story is truly inspiring, Ketan doesn’t really do justice to it thanks to mediocre direction and some terrible screenplay. Instead of concentrating on the difficulties Manjhi had to face through these 22 years, Ketan focuses more on unnecessary skin-show for most of the first half. The second half of the film picks up pace initially but then feels laboured, with a number of untied loose ends. One wonders if Ketan did his homework before making the biographic. The story-telling is so terrible that Dashrath Manjhi must have rolled in his grave.

While the storyline is weak, Nawazuddin does total justice to the character. He is exceptionally good in emotional scenes. Radhika Apte is decent as Phalgunia, but it would have been nice if she didn’t show as much skin as she did. Ashraf Ul Haque, playing Manjhi’s father, looked younger than Nawazuddin, and overacted on most occasions. Rest of the cast could have been better as well.

Music and background score by Sandesh Shandilya is decent, and so is the cinematography by Rajeev Jain. Editing by Pratiek Chitalia could have been better, for the movie unnecessarily drags.

Is it worth your time and money?: Nope. Manjhi – The Mountain Man could have been a very inspiring motion picture, but Ketan Mehta makes a mess of another biopic!

Worth mention: Nawazuddin Siddiqui’s acting.

Acting: 7.5/10
Story-Screenplay-Direction: 5/10
Technical Aspects: 7/10

Verdict: 5.5/10

Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation | Movie Review

Mission_Impossible_Rogue_Nation

Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol happens to be one of my favourite action movies. Brad Bird ensured that there was enough adrenaline pumping action to keep you enthralled for over 2 hours (in spite of a mediocre storyline). While Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation doesn’t have as many adrenaline rushing sequences as its predecessor, it’s still a good watch!

Co-scripted and directed by Christopher McQuarrie, who earlier worked with Cruise in Edge of Tomorrow and Jack Reacher, the film starts off with Ethan Hunt in search of the mysterious Syndicate while the IMF is disbanded and absorbed into the CIA. It’s now up to Hunt to go rogue and save the world. While the script goes haywire at times and the screenplay is lazy, McQuarrie ensures that the limited stunts are amazingly good. Be it Cruise’s jaw dropping drop into the cooling machine, or the spectacularly shot car chase followed by a bike chase, they keep you engrossed. Wish there was more to offer on the storyline for it all seemed too predictable. The screenplay too could have been crisp.

Tom Cruise is stupendous as Ethan Hunt, as expected. Is he really 53? And does he really do the stunts himself? He is the only reason the franchise is alive for so long, he doesn’t disappoint at all. Rebecca Ferguson puts up a commendable act as Ilsa Faust, while Jeremy Renner and Simon Pegg are at their usual best. Pegg tickles your ribs with his witty performance once in a while. Sean Harris is alright as the antagonist.

Music and background score by Joe Kraemer is alright; I wish there was more usage of the original MI theme. Editing by Eddie Hamilton could have been better. Cinematography by Robert Elswit, who also worked on MI4, is brilliant.

Is it worth your time and money?: It’s got Tom Cruise, and amazing stunts. It’s probably the movie every action movie lover has been waiting for. So I don’t think I need to answer the question!

But if you still need an answer, I’d definitely say yes. It might not be an awesome film, but it still gives you bang for the buck!

Worth mention: The spectacularly shot action sequences.

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

Verdict: 8/10

Masaan | Movie Review

Masaan

Masaan is one of the most realistic movie we’ve come across this year. Directed by débutante Neeraj Ghatwan, the movie showcases two parallel stories, different in many ways yet carrying similar essence. Direction is spot on; Neeraj gets the best out of every actor, and does full justice without ever deviating from the main plot. The screenplay is engrossing, and the way the stories converge in the climax is beautiful.

Richa Chaddha and Vicky Kaushal do full justice as the protagonists. While both of them come up with brilliant performances, I was particularly moved by Vicky’s display of emotions post a death scene. Shweta Tripathi charms in her brief role. Every other cast member comes up with an equally good act; be it young Nikhil Sahni as Jhonta, or veteran Sanjay Mishra as Vidyadhar Pathak, they are all perfect.

Music by Indian Ocean is soulful, without ever getting overwhelming. Editing by Nitin Baid is neat, while cinematography by Avinash Arun Dhaware is excellent.

Is it worth your time and money?: Masaan isn’t a movie for everyone. It is a serious movie close to reality, with some notable performances and exceptional direction. If you’re a movie lover, this one cannot be missed!

Worth mention: Acting and direction.

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

Verdict: 9/10