Category: Movie Review

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: ***

Movie Review: Badrinath Ki Dulhania


By Bhumika Rawat

Badrinath Ki Dulhania is a typical Bollywood ‘Masala Chaat’ which tries to be different but ends up like hundred other movies churned out by the industry year after year. Based out of Uttar Pradesh this film is a story of a Jhansi boy Badri (Varun Dhawan) who stalks Vaidehi (Alia Bhatt) on the streets of Kota as if it is his favourite passtime. When she says “no”, he takes it as  “better luck next time, try harder”

In the modern times when women security and stalking are serious issues Badri Ki Dulhania gives a licence of sorts to stalkers of all age groups, specially those who are in their teens.  Even more horrifying is depiction of Badri abducting Vaidehi from the streets against her will. He literally assaults her and throws her in his car and drives off to some undisclosed location.

If it were a real life incident this would have been registered as a crime and also followed by serious penal action. But the movie features no such consequences and Vaidehi is mad only for a brief moment and then becomes sympathetic to her own abductor. Movies like Badrinath Ki Dulhania promote stalking as a bold and ballsy thing which is a cause of serious concern.

The movie has some good points as well. The movie is open and candid in its discussion over dowry and the turns and twists in life after marriage. It is not often you will see a masala film talking about such serious issues.  The only mainstream film which talked about serious issues was Rajinikanth’s recent release ‘Kabali’. But Badrinath and Kabali are poles apart.

Director Shashank Khaitan has narrated a story revolving around the issues of dowry, patriarchy and male chauvism.  He has tried to disguise his social message in a light hearted manner without sounding preachy. The first half certainly makes an impact but the second half is a complete let down.  In the second half movie takes the audiences from Jhansi to Singapore with a brief stopover at Mumbai.

Hero of the film Badri continues stalking his heroine even on the foreign soil. The director loses his grip on the film in the second half. The only high point of the film is fabulous screen presence of the lead pair and their scintillating chemistry. Varun Dhawan as Badri has tried to ape Govinda and Amitabh Bachchan but he fails to impress the viewers with his performance.

Alia as Vaidehi looks refreshing in her role as Vaidehi. Badrinath ki Dulhania is her third outing with Varun Dhawan and this is the weakest film of the three they have done together. Humpty Sharma was a better crafted and well written film in comparison to this latest release.

For right minded audiences Badrinath Ki Dulhania offers nothing new or interesting but those who are willing to kill their time on a Bollywood Masala film can watch it this weekend.

My Ratings: **


Movie Review: ‘Commando 2’

By Monica Arora

Film: The Black Money Trail: Commando 2

Director: Deven Bhojani 

Cast: Vidyut Jammwal, Esha Gupta and Adah Sharma

Genre: Action

Corrupt politicians: Check!
Black money laundering businessmen: Check!

Corrupt police officer: Check!

Corrupt police officer turning around to become the one with ‘heart of gold’: Check!

One-man fighter army to rid the world of all baddies: Check!

Hare-brained villain: Check!

Foreign locations: Check!

 That in a nutshell is the story of ‘The Black Money Trail: Commando 2’!

 Commencing with the relevant de-monetisationissue that has plagued the majority of Indians ever since it was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 8 November, the movie is a typical Bollywood cat and mouse chase between the Commando, played by VidyutJammwal and the villain, whose identity I do not wish to reveal as that is the only so-called twist around Intermission point.

 The lesser that is said about the lead trio’s acting skills, the better. Vidyut Jamwal is all body and no soul; Esha Gupta is as wooden and mannequin-like in skimpy, figure hugging outfits and stilletoes akin to her last outing in Rustom,whilst Adah Sharmah is just there for comic relief with a jarring Hyderabadi, wannabe English-speaking accent that she is muchbetter in scenes where she stays mum.

 The track is a one-line plot with the Indian government tracking a huge black money trail linked to a person who has been traced in connection with several of the biggest money laundering deals in the recent past. Of course, the son of the Home Minister played by ShefaliShah as a cameo is also amongst the culprits and eventually it boils down to a two hour-three minute long mindless journey to catch the baddies, get the money details and then get rid of them in order to save the name of all the “biggies” involved. Cut to Vidyut ‘Commando’ Jamwal who wants to nab the baddies and the corrupt policemen and politicians involved. Yawn!

 But all is not lost yet! Shot in Taiwan and Malaysia, the movie has been edited quite crisply by Amitabh Shukla and Sanjay Sharma and has very decent production value under the Vipul Amritlal Shah banner. The supporting cast comprising of Freddy Daruwalah as the tough, corrupt cop Bakhtawar; Zafar, the website hacker played by Sumit Gulati; AdilSharma as the Special Forces Director and Satish Kaushik as the corrupt businessman are very well cast and enacted. In fact, I felt that they were better than the lead trio! The plot and story by Ritesh Shah is like a flying kite: it is about to get a grip when it suddenly goes into a lull and is let loose in the second half, which is perhaps the undoing of this very average movie. 

 The only part that keeps the viewer invested are the action sequences choreographed by none other than the leading man VidyutJammwal and Franz Spilhaus. The opening sequence, a flambouyant introductory set piece, no doubt “borrowed or inspired” from several Taiwanese and Korean films is gripping and so are the chase sequences and set fights that keep on regularly emerging throughout the movie and keep viewers invested when they are busy checking their SMSs and FB postsin an otherwise insipid scenario.

 Engaging in bits and pieces owing to its slick action and mediocre plot, the movie works only in parts and could have been better and far more crisper had someone paid a little more attention to the screenplay. It will certainly do well in the ‘B and C’ grade centres, the audience that is intended for but overall it is very average and will be soon forgotten.

My Verdict: **

Movie Review: ‘Banjo’


Movie: Banjo

Director: Ravi Jhadhav

Cast: Riteish Deshmukh, Nargis Fakri,

Genre: Drama

Banjo is an African musical instrument which was modified and adapted as an Indian musical instrument known as BulBul Tarang, commonly called Banjo. The movie’s title suggests a film around the instrument or storyline that will revolve around the instrument. After all the movie is called Banjo. Disappointingly neither did I learn a thing or two about banjo nor did I get to understand why the movie is called so.

Taraat (Riteish Deshmukh) and his friends have a band in Mumbai in which Taraat is the lead singer and he plays a banjo. Christina (Nargis Fakri), who lives in New York, happens to hear a recording of the band’s performance. A musician herself, she is convinced that Tarat and his friends hold great potential and decides to make music with them. Only she has no idea who these guys are and where to find them. In the city of dreams and thousands of dreamers, will she be able to find them and bring alive her dream or go back home empty handed?

Banjo is a movie about a band and their struggle to find recognition. So for all I care the movie could have been called drums, guitar or just a band. Riteish Deshmukh’s character is of a man born and brought up in the street. He extorts money for the local politician and pays banjo as his passion. His acting is the only high point of the movie. Nargis Fakri has a comical puppy eyes expression every time the scene gets emotional making you cringe. So, now and then there are passing references to what banjo means to the character and a lot of over-drama with all the band members calling themselves banjo players where as they actually play different instruments. But any way, Id still let that go. However, what I really cannot get my head around is with all this emphasis on the banjo, I had hoped for a song where the music will be focussed on the banjo. Remember, the song ‘Mastaani’ from Baaji Rao Mastaani is a piece where the main instrument is a Banjo.  The movie has some good songs, but none of them have the banjo has a central piece.

The storyline is chaotic. Good half an hour into the movie, it starts dragging. But even then the first half is bearable. The second half is a direct spiral down into boredom. I struggled to keep myself awake and beat the urge to check the time again and again.. And to top it all, the movie ends abruptly. For a second, I kept staring at the screen to know what happens next, till the credits started rolling.

The highlight of the movie is its music by Vishal-Shekhar. The song ‘Udan choo’ sung by Hriday Gattani  has not left my mind since I saw the movie. The cinematography revolves around a slum in Mumbai with a few scenes shot with the sea in the backdrop. The setting of the movie is well captured by the cinematographer.

Banjo, will certainly not top my list of recommendations for you. So happy weekend at home folks!

My verdict: **



Movie Review: ‘Udta Punjab’

By Neha Ravindran

Movie: Udta Punjab

Director: Abhishek Chaubey

Cast: Aalia Bhatt, Shahid Kapoor, Kareena Kapoor Khan, Diljit Dosanjh

Genre: Crime Drama

Amidst undying controversies, Udta Punjab finally released on 17th June. Censor Board had decided to be the big daddy and had demanded close to 89 cuts in the original screenplay as the movie sought to openly discuss the rampant drug abuse in Punjab. However, the Bombay high court struck down the Censor Board’s stay and passed the movie with only one cut. Udta Punjab is a social-crime drama based on the brutal reality of Punjab haranguing the youth of the state.
Tommy Singh (Shahid Kapoor) is a very popular rockstar in Punjab whose lyrics are representative of his drug addicted lifestyle. Sartaj Singh (Diljit Dosanjh) is a police officer who makes a good cut out of letting drug suppliers make deliveries without legal issues. Dr. Preet Sahni (Kareena Kapoor) runs a drug rehabilitation centre and is fighting a losing case against the drug mafias. A Bihari Immigrant ( Alia Bhatt) has come to Punjab in search of better times and lands up with a packet of heroine worth crores. These four characters find their life intricately caught in a web of drug addicts and suppliers, where their every step will change their life forever.
Each of these four characters have delivered phenomenal performances. Shahid Kapoor however is a show stealer as the rockstar Tommy Singh. Shahid takes you through a drug addict’s roller coaster ride with an intensity that will keep your eyes glued to the screen. Alia Bhatt is increasingly proving herself to be one of Bollywood’s genius discoveries. As a Bihari migrant, she has impeccably copied the accent, body language and constantly moulds her character to meet the demands of the script. Kareena and Diljit share an adorable on screen chemistry which will make your heart flutter and will have you wishing to have seen more of them together. Diljit is undoubtedly going to be a Bollywood heartthrob with a smile that will have his competitors running for their money.
Cinematography by Rajeev Ravi takes you down the rustic lanes of Punjab and into the heart of the state. Music by Amit Trivedi accompanied by the lyrics by late Shiv Kumar Batalvi, Shellee and Varun Grover is a lethal combination. My personal favourite are Chitta ve by Shahid Mallya, Bhanu Pratap and Babu Haabi and Ikk Kudi by Shahid Mallya. listen to these tracks, if you haven’t already. Udta Punjab leaves no stone unturned in establishing the grave situation in Punjab. This movie will leave you feeling deeply disturbed and agitated at how things could have unravelled right under the noses of the higher authorities. I left the hall with a very queasy feeling in my stomach and was reminded of a statement made by a friend, ” If the book you are reading or the movie you are watching arouses emotions that stubbornly make way into your everyday, know that the time spent on the book/ movie was worth it.”
Udta Punjab is a must watch for this weekend. I hope this good run of movies will continue next week as well.
My verdict: ****