Movie Review: Badrinath Ki Dulhania

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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’

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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: ****

Movie Review: ‘Azhar’ by Neha Ravindran 


Movie: Azhar

Director: Tony D’Souza

Cast: Emraan Hashmi, Prachi Desai, Lara Dutta, Nargis Fakri

Genre: Biopic

Mohammad Azhruddin was a man who created history. Young boy from Hyderabad, he went onto create a record of triple centuries in his first three matches itself. He goes on to become the captain of the Indian cricket team, leading the team to win three world cups under his captaincy. He then went on to be painted in controversies of alleged extra marital affairs and match fixing resulting in a lifetime cricket ban. This movie is the inside story of cricketing legend Mohammad Azhruddin’s life.

Azhar (Emraan Hashmi) is a well known cricket star in India. He wants to fulfil his grandfather’s dream of playing 100 test matches. His wife of 8 years Naureen (Prachi Desai) is his pillar of strength and support. But stardom and fame always comes at a cost- a price to be paid for being in the limelight. Azhar is accused of match fixing and is banned from playing for India. He then falls for a Bollywood actress Sangeeta (Nargis Fakri) and goes on to have a steamy affair with her. For almost 8 years Azhar’s life is stuck in a flux personally and professionally. Will he be able to defend himself for selling his religion (cricket) or will he lose it all?

Azhar is a biography and revelation of inside stories that may put to rest several questions Azhruddin’s fans might have had all these years. Emraan Hashmi is charming as young Azhar. He has captured the cricketer’s mannerisms and gestures quite perfectly. It was welcoming to see Prachi Desai back on the ssilver screen. She essay’s the role of Azhar’s first wife Naureen. Prachi was a delight to watch in this movie. Her performance has beautifully mirrored the changing phases of Azhar and Naureen’s marriage. Though, she has been repeatedly casted as the lover or the docile wife without opportunities to explore other facets of her as an actor. Well, I am hopeful that after this movie, Prachi will get more challenging offers. Lara Dutta is splendid as the defense lawyer. Though it is not a meaty role, she manages to play beautifully with what is laden out to her. Kunaal Roy Kapur is infuses humour through his character’s antics and personality. The weakest link in the movie is Nargis Fakri. There are times, when it’s virtually impossible to make out her expressions.

The first half of the movie is its high point; the second half keeps sliding down till the climax which is the only high in the second half. The portion around Azhar’s affair with Sangeeta is shot clumsily possibly to avoid controversy, but in effect it ruins the second half. The constant true and fro to flash backs is also a little tiring considering the movie’s running time is nearly 3 hours. Songs by Amaal Malik and Pritam is soulful and beautiful.

Azhar is a decent watch! For all Azhruddin fans, this movie will be an answer to many unanswered questions.

My verdict: ***

 

 

Movie Review: ‘Fitoor’ by Neha Ravindran

fitoor-movie-reviewMovie: Fitoor

Director: Abhishek Kapoor

Cast: Tabu, Katrina Kaif, AdityaRoy Kapoor

Genre: Drama

Charles Diken’s Great Expectations is a classic novel of all times. Though, it has been remade into several movies on Hollywood, none happened to garner much positive response from the audience and critics. Fitoor is the Bollywood remake of the same novel by Abhishek Kapoor and can be at best compared to poetry in motion.

Noor is a young boy who lives in the valleys of Kashmir with his sister and brother-in-law. His life changes when he visits the mansion of a rich old lady, begum and meets her young daughter, Firdaus. He is smitten by the young Firdaus and she becomes the muse for his sketches. But they are soon separated by certain events only to meet again 15 years later. However, their lives seem to be pulled by strings held by another; a story replayed again and again, but never to meet a desired ending. What will the end of their story be?

Fitoor has been shot primarily in Kashmir. Every scene appears to be lifted out of a painting and framed into the movie. Cinematography by Anay Goswamy is picturesque to say the least and the movie ranks high on its aesthetic appeal. The songs Amit Trivedi and Komail Shayan have a soulful aura about it and stay with you for a long time. My favourite song is ‘Pashmina’ by Amit Trivedi, with lyrics that knit together the storyline of the movie. This adaptation of Great Expectations has been written by Amit Trivedi along with Supratik Sen and the duo have managed to spin a tale within an Indian setting without losing out on the essence of Dicken’s Novel.

Tabu is the show stealer in the movie. Her character, Begum, is a woman with changing moods, expressions and emotions. Only an actor with sound theatre experience could have essayed the part as well as Tabu managed. She breathes life into the movie and retains a gripping hold over its flow. Aditya Roy Kapoor has been well cast into the role of Noor, he appears lost as a small time Kashmiri in Delhi and slowly fills into his role as a famous, rich artist in the city. The transition is slowly eased into with finesse by the actor. Katrina Kaif is simply the pretty, irresistibly pretty woman on screen. Her role isn’t challenging as compared to the other two.

Fitoor is an excellent beginning to 2016 and will definitely remain one of my favourite movies. It is abstract in parts and deeply moving in others. An art film in many ways, it retains its commercial aspect to appeal to a larger audience. This is a movie you would certainly not want to miss!

My verdict: ****

Film Review: ‘Bajirao Mastani’ by Neha Ravindran

BAjirao-Mastani-1st-Day-Total-CollectionMovie: Bajirao Mastani

Director: Sanjay Leela Bansali

Cast: Priyanka Chopra, Deepika Padukone, Ranveer Singh, Tanvi Azmi

Genre: Period Film/ Historical Drama

I love historical fictions; they add colour to the black and white stories of the years gone by. Amidst the love lores of Shah-Jahaan-Mumtaz, Jahangir-Mehrunissa and such, the tragic story of Baji Rao- Mastani had been lost in the winding lanes of history. Sanjay brings to screen a beautiful rendition of the novel ‘Rau’ by N.S Inamdar, as Bajirao Mastani.

Bajirao (Ranveer Singh) is a Maratha Peshwa, a Brahmin by birth. He falls in love with Mastani (Deepika Padukone) a princess from Bundelkhand with a Rajput father and a Muslim mother. The Marathas are against this alliance for as the Peshwa is a married man and moreover, Mastani is a Muslim. Will their love win over the hearts of religious fundamentalists or will their love face a tragic ending?

Sanjay Leela Bansali is a gifted director whose every movie is a masterpiece in its own right. Ranveer is convincing as the Maratha Peshwa. His accent, dialogue delivery and body language, all scream of royalty. Deepika Padukone is simply dazzling in every scene. I found her mesmerising in this beautiful song ‘Deewani Mastani’, sung by Shreya Ghoshal. The chemistry between Deepika and Ranveer will certainty tug at your heart-strings. Priyanka Chopra on the other hand is the silent show stealer of the movie. Her role as the first wife of Peshwa Baji Rao I, Kashibai is soul rendering. She enacts Kashibai’s heartbreak, sorrow and unyielding loyalty towards her husband with subtlety and great finesse. Tanvi Azmi’s acting as Peshwa’s mother Radhabai, is fierce like a tigress protecting her curb.

Bajirao Mastani has one of the splendid sets seen in any movie and each shot is a treat to watch. Cinematography by Sudeep chatterjee will compel you to keep your eyes glued to the screen. Sanjay Leela Bansali’s direction is awe-inspiring such that certain scenes were so poignant that they stayed with me long after the movie got over. Music by Sanchit Balhara with Sanjay Leela Bansali and Shreyas Puranik is a treat for music lovers. The costumes of the movie are a true winner, especially Mastani’s costumes. However, the story was a jigsaw with missing links. A common challenge in every historical fiction is to compile the entire story into a 2 and a half hour saga. The final editing inevitably leaves out chunks of linking scenes which made the storyline flawed.

Bajirao Mastani is a poetry in motion. It has its highs and lows but it will keep you in its grasp as if each verse is translating into a beautiful painting. This one has a heads-up from me!

My verdict: ***