Category: Movie Review

Movie Review: ‘Jab Harry Met Sejal’

If you are content to simply bask in the company of a middle-aged Shah Rukh Khan and half-his-age Anushka Sharma, the two attractive leads who star as Harinder Singh Nehra aka Harry, a Punjabi, and Sejal Jhaveri, a Gujarati, then this romance is for you. Otherwise, you would be questioning your motive for sitting through this film.

Once again, it’s hard to put too much hate on a film that clearly tries hard to dazzle its fans, but the elephant in the room here is clearly the script. Yes, this is a wonderful film to gawk at as the locales in Europe are beautiful, but you will find that you are doing just that. The plot meanders on multiple occasions and the characters, especially Sejal, is given some of the most atrocious dialogues that make you chuckle inadvertently.
Sejal is a tourist in Europe, who at the airport on her way back to India, realises that she has lost her engagement ring. Disappointed, dejected and defiant, she opts out of the group to search her ring. She ropes in her tour guide Harry in her endeavour. The premise, albeit cliched, and the setting promise an entertaining romance. But alas, it is nowhere palpable.
Imitaz Ali’s latest oeuvre seems to be mounted on an outdated, perfunctory script packed with cardboard thin characters, silly conversations and a weak plot that lacks depth, drama and the seriousness of a heart-felt romance. This makes the entire narrative seem forced and pretentious, and loses connect with the audience.
Added to the anguish are the performances. Though both the lead actors are ace performers, Shah Rukh does not seem to get out of his comfort zone. His performance lacks lustre and freshness. Anushka matches Shah Rukh with her energy levels but together their on-screen romance lacks chemistry and chutzpah. Her accent is fake and inconsistent.
Aru Krishansh Verma as Harry’s friend along with Evelyn Sharma as his love interest has nothing much to offer. Chandan Roy Sanyal as Gas, the illegal Bangladeshi immigrant thug, does have his moments of on-screen glory.
Director Imtiaz Ali seems to have taken the easy route assuming that a film with Shah Rukh Khan will automatically work. The film sorely lacks drama, interesting twists and freshness. It trudges along on an even keel throughout. The first half is watchable as it establishes the setting and characters, but the post interval half drags needlessly.
The songs “Hawaayein” and “Radha” are melodious and well-picturised, but do nothing to enhance the experience.
The film expectedly boasts of good production values and the cinematographer captures the beauty of Europe with utmost sincerity.
Overall, good actors cannot uplift a poor script and a ‘When Harry Met Sejal’ suffers from that and a lot more. With low entertainment quotient this one fails to appeal. (IANS)
Our Ratings: **

Movie Review: ‘Lipstick Under My Burkha’


The much-awaited “Lipstick Under My Burkha” is a bold and brutally honest film about the unbridled dreams of four women, trapped in their lives owing to societal norms and stereotypes.
 Set in a middle-class mohalla (locality) in Bhopal, the film centres around the lives of the four protagonists – Usha Parmar aka Buaji, (Ratna Pathak Shah), an elderly widow, who supresses her deep-seated physical desires, Shireen Aslam (Konkona Sen Sharma), a sales girl who does a job without her husband’s knowledge as she is a mere sex object for her husband who has scant regard for her feelings, Leela (Ahana Kumra), who loves a photographer Arshad (Vikrant Massey), and Rehana (Plabita Borthakur), a collegian who is a musician at heart and finds her ‘burkha’ stifling as it confines her.
How each of them lead an unhappy and uncomfortable life and secretly long to be someone else, forms the crux of the film.
Although the four protagonists are not related to each other in the film, the dexterous manner in which their lives are interwoven is laudable and speaks volumes for the cleverly crafted screenplay.
The actors portray their characters with panache and sincerity, each one becoming the character they are essaying.
Ratna Pathak Shah although distinct in her typical style, essays the sexually repressed Buaji’ with the requisite restraint and candour befitting her calibre as an actor. Konkona Sen Sharma as Shireen, is brilliant as always but does not offer anything that one has not seen her do before. It is Plabita as the split personality Rihana who steps out of her ‘burkha’ and is a different person who renders a realistic performance, as does Ahana Kumra. She is a bohemian, dauntless girl who is unapologetic about her physical needs and lives life on her terms.
Sushant Singh as the chauvinistic husband of Shireen Aslam is natural and convincing. Vikram Massey as Arshad, essays his character with honesty and is impressive. Other actors in supporting roles like the swimming instructor, Rehana’s father and Dhruv, Rihana’s friend, are equally sincere and praiseworthy.
Director Alankrita Shrivastava, manages to take the audience into the lives of her four protagonists with ease. The layered screenplay debunking myths about women in small towns and their bottled-up dreams and desires is well-written. The use of erotica which ‘Buaji’ secretly reads to propel the narrative forward, metaphorically linking it to the lives of all four protagonists is astutely handled.
There are times when the situations in the film seem a tad exaggerated and sometimes unnecessary, but presumably, Alankrita takes those liberties to establish the regularity and consistency of her protagonists’ lives.
The last scene appears a bit theatrical and forced to establish the supremacy of women over society in context of the realisation of their dreams, yet ties, in the lives of the four protagonists succinctly.
Technically, the film is skillfully mounted with moderate production values. The editing by Charu Shree Roy deserves a special mention.
Overall, the hype surrounding this film is bound to get you to watch it and disappoint it won’t. (IANS)
Our Rating: ****

Movie Review: ‘Jagga Jasoos’

Ranbir Kapoor as Jagga is brilliant. He lives his character on screen, which is sparkling and lively. He is aptly supported by Katrina Kaif as the London returned journalist Shruti Sengupta, who is hunting for leads in her story on the war against global terrorism. She plays the dumb-damsel with loads of bad luck on her side, to perfection. She is effortless in her comic timing and action.

Saswata Chatterjee as Jagga’s foster father Badal Bagchi, and a harbinger of “bad luck” is equally brilliant. Saurabh Shukla in a convoluted role chasing Badal is stereotypical and flat.
The plot of the film is sketchy and begins on a shaky note, but the scenes roll out seamlessly in dream-like sequences thanks to the brilliant editing by Akiv Ali and Ajay Sharma. Also, Director Anurag Basu’s frame composition shows his mastery over his craft.
The music by Pritam Chakraborty adds to the flavour of the narration. The songs in the film help to take the narrative forward as well as drive home a lesson. Striking among them are, “Sab khana khake, daru peeke, chale gaye,” and “Galti se mistake,” which is replete with philosophy and life lessons.
The choreography by Shiamak Davar is fresh and invigorating as each song is artistically presented.
Shot across terrains in Manipur, Kolkata and South Africa, Cinematographer S. Ravi Varman’s lens captured the locales in their full glory along with the animals of the region.
Overall, with a run time of two hours and forty-five minutes, there are moments when you inadvertently end up snatching forty winks. (IANS)
Our Ratings: **

Movie Review: ‘Mom’

Just when you think Sridevi has run out of surprises, she does “Mom”. A film so steeped in the angst of maternal revenge that you fear it will tie itself up in angry knots.

But no. There is a certain… what do you call it? ‘Thehrao’ — a moral narrative equanimity in the storytelling. A lot of it comes from Sridevi’s central performance as a mother craving acceptance from a disgruntled unhappy daughter. They bond after a family crisis. Out of this age-old done-to-death yarn, debutant director Ravi Udyawar weaves an exceedingly impressive saga of vendetta that leaves us disturbingly satisfied.
The hallmark of a solid revenge tale is the ability for the audience to slip into the protagonist’s mind-space and live his or her agony. Here, Sridevi doesn’t allow us a moment’s reprieve. It is hard to look away from her anguished responses to her daughter’s predicament for even a second. Yes, she is THAT effective. Nothing from her past performances prepares us for her bravura turn as a mother who will avenge the wrong done to her child, come what may.

Sridevi surrenders her personality to the mother Devaki’s role flowing along with the character’s startling deeds and misdeeds until we no longer know the difference between the two. As Sridevi evolves into a determined avenger even her body language undergoes a change. There is a shot where she stands at a policeman’s table in the second half, looking down at him with disdainful contempt, the earlier hesitation and nervousness of an ordinary aggrieved citizen gone for good.

But “Mom” is not only about Sridevi’s performance. Unlike many of her earlier films, including the wonderful “English Vinglish”, where the rest of the cast paled into insignificance, “Mom” is bolstered by a solid supporting cast. Sajal Ali as Sridevi’s daughter is vulnerable and strong. The girl holds her own before Sridevi although as per scriptural demand, they don’t have many scenes together.

The handsome Adnan Siddiqui makes a terrific husband to Sridevi. They look like a couple in joy and grief and the family breathes an easy air of unrehearsed togetherness. Akshaye Khanna is terrific as a police officer torn between duty and justice. He has one major sequence in the parking lot with Sridevi where he proves he is no spring chicken. We need to see more of Mr Khanna on screen.

And the grossly-neglected Abhimanyu Singh playing a ruthless Haryanvi lout stands out in the villainous crowd.

But it’s Nawazuddin Siddiqui as a lowbrow detective who features in some of the film’s most likeable scenes. His interactive instincts in scenes with Sridevi are on high alert. But he never tries to score over her. Rather, Nawaz plays Sridevi’s foil perfectly. He is the family man with a conscience. And he bonds with Sridevi’s character on that level without intellectualising his involvement in her problem.

Somehow, the even pitch at which director Ravi Udyawar holds all the characters and their performances, goes a long way in giving this film the feel of an emotional payoff.

Though the film is nearly two hours long, nowhere does the narrative allow itself the luxury of taking a breather. The dramatic tension is relentless. Very often, the scenes are cut in a way that they heighten the drama without resorting to hysteria.

Some of the scenes featuring the negative characters could have been less blatant. One villain’s post-vendetta appearance makes us cringe.

But then subtlety is not thrust into the narrative. It flows naturally from the responses of the characters who when faced by trying times gather themselves together to challenge the status quo.

“Mom” is an important film. Though its theme is nothing new the debutant director ensures a vigorous accountability to almost every scene. You may be tempted to wonder why “Mom” seems such a special film with almost every shot exuding a freshness and a secret relevance that may or may not be revealed at any point.

It’s just so reassuring to have Sridevi around. Thank God some things never change. This is one of the best films in recent times. And not only because of Sridevi. (IANS)

Ratings: ***

Movie Review: ‘Noor’

By Subhash Jha

Though I couldn’t relate to her endless boozing and snoozing, Noor Roy Choudhary as played by Sonakshi Sinha, is someone I’ve known in passing. And that’s I would keep her if I met her. At a safe distance.

‘Noor’ is not one of the best films on journalistic ethics. It doesn’t do to the contemporary Mumbai media world what the Paul Newman-Sally Field starrer Absence Of Malice did 30 years ago. It pricks at the conscience in a rather undemanding way. ‘Noor’ takes sly and slender satirical swipes at sensationalism in journalism, more delectable for its many jibes than the actual prick at the conscience.
The prick, when it comes, is not as solidly impact-filled as it should be. But by then, Noor has established her credentials for being an aimless adrift television journalist looking for a sense of purpose. That purpose’ kind of falls into her lap with a gentle thud. Of course Noor messes it up. This is her prized USP, the ability to be absolutely and candidly self-serving without being apologetic about. She messes up and moves on.
Director Suhnil Sippy whose last feature film, the snappy and slick Snip came 17 years ago, doesn’t skip a beat. He allows his vision to meander with Noor’s sense of aimlessness, trailing her through endless drinking binges and a never-ending quota of bacchanalia with her two friends Saad (Kannan Gill) and Zara (Shibani Dandekar).
While Kannan Gill definitely needs elocution classes, Dandekar is delightfully saucy specially in the scene where she walks in to a bar to slap a man who has betrayed her best friend. I wanted to see more of her. More of Noor’s editor’s no-nonsense socialite wife played by Suchitra Pillai. And yes , more of Noor’s boss played by the ever-excellent Manish Choudhary. The last time I saw a female journalist share such tactile vibes with her boss it was in Rajkumar Gupta’s ‘No One Killed Jessica’.
Sonakshi Sinha gamely plunges into the mediaperson’s home ‘groan’ zone, mining into Noor’s insecurities and inadequacies to come up with a character who is as real as any neo-realistic urban character, like, say Alia Bhatt in Gauri Shinde’s ‘Dear Zindagi’. Like Alia, Sonakshi is not afraid to address her character’s uncertainties about her body and sexual activities.
This is a coming-of-age yarn that joyfully gets into the head and bed of its heroine, deconstructs the hoary Hindi Film Heroine, highlighting her appetites, culinary or otherwise, in ways that were considered inappropriate until a decade ago. Whatever ‘Noor’ does, she does with an unabashed ebullience where she can and often does, trip and fall on her nose.
And when Noor falls in love she really falls. The segment showing her growing attraction to a rakish photojournalist (played with splendid suaveness by Purab Kohli) is brief and brilliant. The fit of heated passion subsides quickly. This is one of the film’s prominent attributes. It rakes up issues and then quickly moves to something else.
Perhaps this mood swing in the narrative replicates the film’s protagonist’s restless energy which is killing her professional skills while destroying her personal relationships.
Sonakshi Sinha kills it, even as her character claims Mumbai is killing her. Her monologue on the smog, smut, corruption and heartbreak of Mumbai is indeed a highlight. Sonakshi throws in her weight with her character’s fight to float above the metropolis’ rising sewage level of moral turpitude.
The flow of conversational energy is the key to the narrative’s efficacy. Ishita Moitra’s dialogues add ample zest warmth and humour to Saba Imtiaz’s skimpy novel about the socio-political awakening ofA an aimless reporter. In director Sunhil Sippy’s hands, “Noor” is a lot more. It’s about the media and sensationalism, the city and the single girl.
It’s about ‘Noor’ and her friends and her father (played by veteran M K Raina, delightful) and her cat, and her conscience. Sunhil Sippy packs it all in, leaving enough breathing space for the characters to acquire a life of their own. (IANS)

Movie Review: ‘Naam Shabana’ 

By Meetali Kutty 

Title: Naam Shabana

Director: Shivam Nair

Cast: Akshay Kumar, Tapsee Pannu, Anupam Kher, Manoj Bajpayee

Genre: Thriller, Action

This film aims to be a spin-off of the popular film Baby, but fails to match up to the expectations of the audience. While Baby was a taut film with a gripping narrative and well paced scenes, Naam Shabana lags in parts, with a slow first half and a rushed ending that feels unsatisfying.

This film is centred around Shabana, played by the wonderful Tapsee Pannu, and the tragedy that shaped her life and made her join the espionage service in search for retribution. Tapsee plays her character with zeal, and is equally stunning during her action scenes or when showcasing raw emotion. The interesting part of the film is it is helmed by a strong woman lead (although overshadowed in the credits by Akshay Kumar in a guest role!)

Shabana is a girl who enjoys martial arts and being with her family. She is pursued by a young man who she inevitably falls for but who she loses under tragic circumstances. This tragedy allows Manoj Bajpayee, the leader of a shadowy organization, to recruit her and help her get revenge on those who wronged her.

Akshay Kumar’s cameo role seems tacked on, but is sure to be a crowd pleaser as the theatre erupted into applause when he arrived. There are plenty of plotholes in the film such as why they would choose a rank newcomer to the system to chase one of their most sought after criminal masterminds, or how a complex medical procedure seems as simplistic as a dental visit. There are lighter moments in the film that serve well to break up the tension, but overall the plot lacks the intricacies of the far superior Baby.

Tapsee Pannu is the shining star of this venture, and manages to breathe life into the material. The item numbers seem forced, and are surely placed there for some appeal to the masses, which in my mind seems to be a wrong step. The directing is up to par, but the movie is let down by the script, which could have used more fine tuning, and lacks tension. Manoj Bajpayee is also good in his role, and fits into the universe of the film smoothly, while Akshay Kumar’s performance feels a little flat. The cinematography of the film is also vibrant and adds some depth to this lackluster fare.

This film could certainly have taken a few tips from Baby!

Verdict: **

Movie Review: ‘Trapped’

By Troy Riberio
Director Vikramaditya Motwane’s film ‘Trapped’ is a minimalist survival film. It is the compelling tale of a man trapped and stranded on the 35th floor of a newly constructed, unoccupied building, in the heart of Mumbai.The film begins on an unassuming note with Shaurya, a shy and timid guy, falling in love with his colleague, Noorie. In his bid to start a new life with her, he shifts from a shared accommodation to a flat in one of the unoccupied skyscrapers. That he is an illegal tenant, is a separate issue.

Designed to cater to an intelligent audience, the film has all the trappings of this genre. It is well made and engaging, but nevertheless, seems contrived simply because the entire setting is far from subtle. What starts of like a realistic film ends up like a fabricated drama — on the face, breathlessly rushed and manufactured.

This is evident, as the director has taken enough measures to ensure the mise-en-scene is perfect. In one of the earlier scenes when Shaurya is leaving his shared accommodation, the television set is on in the background and the host of a television programme states, “a… and the great survive”. This predictably lays the foundation for the events to follow.
Also, what makes “Trapped” seem utterly fabricated is that the story takes place sometime in Mumbai and the time in the film universe seems timeless. So the sudden downpour that enables Shaurya to fill his refrigerator with water seems like deus ex-machina for the plot.
Also, the thrilling factors are trimmed, especially when Shaurya escapes from the flat by scaling down the grills.
The film drags. There are moments of pure agony that make you squirm, waiting for the torturous moments to tide-away. Interestingly, these moments along with the scenes when the tables are turned with Shaurya being a timid guy to a hunter, are probably the best flashes of the film.
As Shaurya, this is Rajkummar Rao’s canvas and yet it is not one of his best performances. An excellent actor, he is stifled with the limitation of the script. He appears dim-witted and portrays a gamut of emotions that are blatantly cheerless, gloomy and far from being intelligent. He excels in being frantic, anxiety driven and desperate. But the desperation comes across as a half-hearted attempt, probably because of the script.
Geetanjali Thapa as Noorie is natural and sincere.
On the production front too, with a simplistic approach, the apartment is not congruent to a flat in a newly constructed apartment. And the background score fluctuates from being realistic to over-the-top.
Overall, the film makes you feel trapped in the auditorium. (IANS)
Rating: ***