Bale Bale Magadivoy | Movie Review

Bale-Bale-Magadivoy

Nani has mostly chosen sensible subjects, and Bale Bale 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?: Bale Bale 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: 8/10
Technical Aspects: 8/10

Verdict: 8/10

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

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 Paksitani girl, and her saviour who helps her reach home. Director Kabir Khan does full justice to this simple thread by narrating it in a beautiful fashion. 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 first half of the movie 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 the way he narrated the flashback episodes, as stories intertwined into the script.

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

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 at the right place and is definitely worth a watch!

Worth mention: All the scenes with Harshaali and Salman; in particular, 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 😛

Baahubali – The Beginning | Movie Review

Baahubali - The Beginning

It is touted to be the most expensive movie made in India, an epic film more than 2 years in the making, the expectations are high, and above all, it’s a Rajamouli film. The result? A half-baked biscuit!

Rajamouli is definitely one of the best directors in the Telugu industry. He is a visionary, Eega was an example of that. With Baahubali, he tries to go one notch higher. He does it successfully as well in terms if grandeur, but unfortunately not on storytelling or direction.

Baahubali – The Beginning showcases the story of a young lad who discovers his lineage as we progress through the film. It starts off like most others, where the macho protagonist character is established, we then have a show-off of muscles and strength, there is a damsel whom he falls head over heels for, the damsel is in distress, he comes to her rescue, and finally there is an intertwined flashback which ends with an action packed war sequence. Rajamouli ensures that there is everything the audience wants, from muscles and the navel, to the beautifully crafted and picturized war sequence. But unfortunately, while there is creativity and novelty in probably every other sense, there is none in the storyline or storytelling. The screenplay is absolutely mediocre. Yes, I understand that it’s a two-part film, but even then, the movie is extremely patchy with no flow. The direction too isn’t really up to the mark for the characters seemed to lack emotions and are too loud at times (it actually felt like watching a TV serial on a couple of occasions). One expects better from Rajamouli.

Prabhas has put in a lot of effort and tried really hard to do justice to both the characters he plays. While he is pretty good as Baahubali, he looks miserable as Sivudu. His dialogue delivery is also not up to the mark. Rana looks menacing as the antagonist, and comes up with a good performance. Anushka does well in her brief presence, but her make-up could have been better. Tamannaah looks beautiful on-screen, and I wish the same could have been said about her acting. Ramya Krishna is great, but I think the subtlety was amiss. Sathyaraj has a meaty role and he does well. Rest of the cast is alright.

Music by Keeravani is average, with almost all songs forcefully inserted into the movie. Background score and sound mixing however are exceptionally good. While cinematography by Senthil Kumar is spectacular, the colour grading is terrible, and the visuals aren’t consistent on-screen. The graphics too are erratic. Production design and sets are very good. Editing by K V Rao could have been better; though a little over 150 minutes, the film seemed tediously long.

Bottom line, I have to agree that Baahubali is an example that we are making substantial progress in our film making processes and techniques. But what it doesn’t do is showcase our storytelling ability; while we’ve aimed to go global, our mindset still wants to cater to the mass audience. How will the mass audience scale up and appreciate good cinema if we don’t let them? It’s disheartening to see a director who took this path falling back and taking the easy road.

Is it worth your time and money?: Yes, it is worth a watch, not for the storyline or the storytelling but for the grandeur. It is a bold attempt in Telugu cinema; I only wish it had more to offer in terms of story and direction rather than being old wine in a new shiny bottle.

If only the efforts were channelled in the right direction, Baahubali would have truly been epic.

Worth mention: The visuals and production values.

Acting: 7/10
Story-Screenplay-Direction: 6/10
Technical Aspects: 8/10

Verdict: 6.5/10

Terminator Genisys | Movie Review

terminator-genisys

Terminator 2: Judgment Day was one of my favourite movies during childhood, and I grew up humming the Terminator theme music. While the third and fourth instalments were huge disappointment (for me at least), Terminator Genisys brings alive the series once more, but only to an extent.

Directed by Alan Taylor, the movie starts as a prologue to The Terminator’s  (1984) storyline, where Kyle Reese is sent back to protect Sarah Connor, yet-to-be-born John Connor’s mom, from Skynet’s Terminator. Just like in the 1984 movie, the T-800 and Kyle Reese arrive at the same time, but things are different now for we already have ‘Pops’ in the picture. Scripted by Laeta Kalogridis and Patrick Lussier, the storyline is very well-connected, but it sometimes is too much to handle. Alan does his best to keep you engrossed, but unfortunately, just like in his previous work (Thor: The Dark World), he defies logic and uses large-scale destruction to do this. Screenplay is alright.

Arnold is back, and he is back to what he does best; being a torpid actor. Nevertheless, he still charms you with his antics. He’s grown old for sure, but man, he still has the body to play the Guardian. Emilia Clarke looks great, and does well as the Mother of Dra.. oops, Sarah Connor. Jason Clarke (no, he’s not related to Emilia, I checked) is alright as John. Jai Courtney comes up with a better performance than in A Good Day to Die Hard, but he still is a mediocre actor.

Music by Lorne Balfe, supervised by Hans Zimmer is good. I liked the background score, but would have loved for the original theme to be playing for longer periods. Cinematography by Kramer Morgenthau is decent, and the 3D effects are good. The CGI work looked patchy at times. Editing by Roger Barton could have been better.

Is it worth your time and money?: Well, it might not be a great movie and it might actually feel like you’ve already watched all of it; nevertheless,you may give it a watch. Ensure that you have minimal expectations.

Worth mention: The SF Bridge episode is well shot.

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

Verdict: 7/10

Hasta la vista, baby!

Inside Out | Movie Review

Inside Out

After dealing with toys, bugs, monsters, fish, cars, rats, robots, dogs and superheroes, Pixar now makes a movie on human emotions. And boy, it was fun to figure yourself Inside Out.

Directed by Pete Docter (who had earlier directed two of my favourite Pixar films Monsters, Inc. and Up), Inside Out showcases the story of five emotions inside the head of an eleven year old girl, Riley. Joy, who happens to lead the pack, wants to ensure that Riley always stays happy and joyful; but she doesn’t realize that Riley can’t stay joyful if it were only up to her. Yes, Joy is important, but what’s the fun of Joy if you’ve never experienced Sadness; or for that matter, Fear, Disgust or Anger. While it might seem too intellectual, Pete does a brilliant job of portraying this message. Young kids in the theatre were appreciating almost every scene, and their Joy made sure it was apparent. There are tons of moments in the movie; be it mother’s interactions with father’s emotions, or the reactions of a young boy’s emotions when he bumps into a girl, it’s all depicted beautifully. Screenplay is simple yet effective.

Amy Poehler, Phyllis Smith, Bill Hader, Lewis Black, and Mindy Kaling bring Riley’s Joy, Sadness, Fear, Anger and Disgust to life. I especially loved Black as Anger.

Music by Michael Giacchino is enjoyable, and editing by Kevin Nolting is neat. While the 3D effects aren’t spectacular, no qualms on the CGI work.

Is it worth your time and money?: Irrespective of whether you like animation or not, it’s time to put aside your Disgust, Fear and Anger, and go watch Inside Out. I’m sure even Sadness will experience Joy! 😀

Worth mention: The beautiful narrations; and the islands.

Acting: 9/10
Story-Screenplay-Direction: 9.5/10
Technical Aspects: 9/10

Verdict: 9/10

PS: I loved this pic!

Inside Out - Feelings

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