Friday, 4 August 2017

My Review Jab Harry Met Sejal | Ye Ishq haaye...

Director : Imtiaz Ali
Starring : Shah Rukh Khan, Anushka Sharma


I love journeys. I am a diehard romantic. I am a believer in magic. I am a sucker for happy endings. I can swallow implausibility when you make me feel for the characters on screen. That is why Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayeinge remains one of my all time favorites.

One hero who has made looking passionately into a woman’s eyes, till her ovaries explode, his superpower. Shahrukh Khan. A director who has won me over with his understanding of the free spirit, of love that comes to lie down with the strangest bedfellows… who puts a sufi touch to his tales, of characters travelling inside and out, their paths revealing their own internal crossroads and potholes… So on paper, JHMS had a lot going for it.

The story is of a Gujrati girl Sejal Zaveri, losing her engagement ring on a Euro trip, who decides to stay back and find it, but finds love and longing in Harry, the Punjabi Euro guide.

So, instead of a missed train in DDLJ, which I found contrived then, seems way more convincing than how this plays out in the film.

Love hath no logic, sure, but then you need passion, chemistry, a quickening of the heart… nothing happens sadly … barring one moment in a chase sequence, when Harry is hit by his feelings for Sejal. 

Anushka as a lost, confused Gujju gal didn’t convince me, specially with the jarringly off and forced accent. Shahrukh's attempts at being a jaded, foul mouthed Punjabi work only in bits and pieces. JHMS is lackluster and only so much SRK love can sustain you through this poorly scripted film.

The biggest problem is the characterization or the lack of it.

The Casanova meets the ditzy virgin, super premise, but for me to be invested in their fate and frolics, I needed more, and apart from a chuckle here and a smile there, I wasn’t moved by their travels or travails.



The ramblings of Sejal about how Harry doesn’t find her hot, Harry’s phulkari flashbacks, their frantic hops from one beautiful location to another, felt as pointless as a quickly put together budget Euro Darshan where you never enjoy a single destination…

I kept waiting that  Harry and Sejal will have that one big moment, where it will all come together, I would let out a sigh, feel a tear form in the corner of my eye, my heart bursting with emotions, wanting life to work out in the favor of the star crossed lovers... even as the "palat" moment played... it didn't happen. 

I have always enjoyed an Imtiaz Ali film. Geet to me is iconic, the dialogues of JWM were a breath of fresh air, setting a trend which many tried to follow. Highway moved me with its rawness, Tamasha with its madness and dark detours inside Ved's heart and mind left me wanting more... JHMS leaves so much to be desired, specially in the second half.  

On the plus side is the music, Safar, Hawaayen and the Nooran sisters powerful Jee Ve Soneya are my favourites. Ali gets Kamil and Pritam to give a stellar soundtrack. I wish the same could be said of the film.

This one is for the die hard SRKians (isn't that what the fans are calling themselves these days!)

My Verdict 2/5

Thursday, 26 January 2017

That 70's Show. My Review. Raees



Starring : Shahrukh Khan, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Mohd. Zeeshan Ayyub, Mahira Khan, Atul Kulkarni

Director : Rahul Dholakia

From Gaurav (Fan) to Dr. Jehangir Khan (Dear Zindagi) to Raees Alam, let’s say SRK is having a good streak compared to the highly forgettable Happy New Year and banal Dilwale. Playing three absolutely distinct characters with aplomb, one would like to believe as he keeps quoting “some films for mann (heart) and some for Dhan (Money)” he would do more for mann. Raees is of course an attempt to marry mann and dhan.

Rahul Dholakia who directed the national award winning gut-wrencher Parzania among others, and SRK coming together for a film was interesting news to say the least. The subject was Dholakia’s turf, Gujarat in the times of upheaval, add to it the era of bootleggers and underworld, smuggling and scotch, and though he claims it is not, the life and times of Abdul Lateef.

But as the trailers started hitting the screens one could see less of Dholakia and more of masala. The Gujarat prohibition backdrop, a larger than life anti-hero with a heart of gold, an incorruptible cop whose sole mission is to destroy the protagonist, a web of politician-crime nexus… Well, Raees has all the trappings of Salim-Javedesque 70’s blockbusters. There is even a doff to their Amitabh Bachchan starrer Kaala Patthar as it plays in the background of a crucial scene.  But Raees also gets trapped in its own vehicle carrying a superstar.

Where Raees scores :

Shahrukh makes a great good hearted bad guy. He brings in his classic charm and charisma to the film, even as he guns his enemies down. Shahrukh gets his goods together, shining in many moments. His Raees is made believable by his getting comfortable and settled in the character, and he is clearly enjoying going all out with many hard core action sequences. He pulls off the romance alongside the unflinching killer when required with same conviction. He is endearing when cooking for his wife, flying a kite and is menacing when he decides to take revenge. His and Nawaz’s chemistry crackles.

Nawazuddin Siddiqui. He is brilliant in the film. He gives his Inspector/SP Majmudar teeth and tongue in cheek deliveries. A delight to watch a properly fleshed character in a superstar film, that too of a cop, which are mostly seen mouthing same old lines. I loved him in Raees. Every scene that has Nawaz in it, is made better by his nuances. The writers have made him quirky and even when there are no dialogues, Nawaz gets in a “see what I did there” moment.

Supporting cast : The film has a very good cast all around, from small blink and miss roles to meatier ones, Raees gets it right mostly. I have two grudges, but that is for later.  

Dialogues are another high point of the film, especially the repartee between Nawaz and Shahrukh. From the already popular “Baniye ka Dimaag, Miyaan bhai kee daring” to “ Bete ka baap bana hai, Gujarat ka nahi”, there is good old fashioned dialoguebaazi, and unlike some other underworld based franchises actually pack a punch and not make you laugh at their absurdity.

Action : The film has some well choreographed action sequences, and I don’t remember the last time I saw Shahrukh do that.

Rahul Dholakia’s understanding of Gujarat, his research on that era, the character, the detailing add to Raees. The first half is excellent.

Where Raees fails :

The stretched second half. The film loses steam, too many songs slow the proceedings.
Predictability. Like many anti-hero films in Hindi cinema, one can predict how the film is going to unravel and end. Some of the portions in the second half seem forced and further bring down the story telling.

The self-censoring of the controversial layers. I was expecting Dholakia to be braver, but alas, the riots, the blasts, all were treated in a hurried, shoddy manner, without ever scratching the surface. The film obviously wanted to stay as far away from controversy as possible.

Mahira Khan : She doesn’t add anything to the film, neither is her character given it’s due nor has she made it stand out, despite a few scenes where a better actress would have made an impression. Another casting fail for me was if you have a fabulous performer like Mohd. Zeeshan Ayyub, don’t waste him so mercilessly.

Music. With so many songs, appearing at whim at the most unrequired places, cutting into the film’s pace, it would have helped if they were better compositions. Even Laila fails to impress, and sadly same goes for La Leone.

Raees could have been a hard hitting commentary on the times it is set in, but it chooses to be more of a commercial carrier. Nothing bad in that, only it sometimes pretends to be what it is clearly not.

Having said that, I enjoyed most of it. Shahrukh and Nawaz, both made it worth the ticket price.

I would say watch it.  

My verdict : 2.5/5



Tuesday, 1 November 2016

What is love? | My Review | Ae Dil Hai Mushkil

Director : Karan Johar

Starring : Ranbir Kapoor, Anushka Sharma, Aishwarya Rai, Fawad Khan



This Review contains spoilers.

रंजिश ही सही दिल ही दुखाने के लिए
फिर से मुझे छोड़ के जाने के लिये

This Ahmad Faraz ghazal is one of my favorites… it speaks of unrequited love, love that is forgiving, angry, pleading, crying, aggressive, submissive… all at the same time… hopeless while waiting with hope… unfulfilled love is the most haunting…

Karan Johar weaves a tale of love, but unlike his other love stories, this one feels the most real… So a big fresh surprise from him, and one that I like.

Ayan (Ranbir Kapoor) is a poor little rich boy, who can summon a private jet, but has deep abandonment issues with his mom having left him when he was two, Alizeh (Anushka Sharma) is sassy, confident and seems sorted, but as you get to know her, she has a scarred heart too, one that yearns for pain, pain that loving someone who destroys you brings… The two meet in a night-club and instantly hit it off… The first half deals with their growing friendship…. Till the point Ayan has fallen totally and completely in love with her… But she loves Ali (Fawad Khan). Of course she loves the one who hurt her…. And despite Ayan’s pleas, she drops everything and follows her heart… because, Dil toh paagal hai… a heart wants what it wants.

We have seen love triangles aplenty, Kjo himself has made them relevant again for the genX, but here he breaks his own mould. Ek tarafa pyaar gets a punch I had seen before in Raanjhanaa. But unlike Raanjhanaa, Ayan and Alizehh are best friends first. One can even think of Anjali and Rahul in a newer, hipper avatar as far as camaraderie goes, but if KKHH talks of friendship being love… our hero here puts a new spin to it. To him, as he spouts many of the Bollywood quotable dialogues… Ladka Ladki kabhi dost nahi ho sakte.

But infusing freshness in to love aaj kal as we know it, the girl just doesn’t love her best friend. She is not Anjali after all.

One of  biggest achievement of this film is Karan Johar’s. He has taken a risk, no holds barred and retold a love story which though has all his trademarks, yet is nothing like he has done before. His Ayan is under-confident, a hero who is told in the first few minutes after meeting the heroine that he is a bad kisser… he cries rolling on the pavement after finding his girlfriend twining tongues with Alizeh’s boyfriend… And she is hero-like offering shelter and shoulder to him… In a way similar to Rockstar, Alizeh tells Ayan, who is an aspiring singer hating his MBA course… that a voice void of real pain is never going to touch anyone… the day his heart really suffers being crushed in pieces… will his voice come alive…

Predictably enough his heart is shattered by Alizeh’s marriage to DJ Ali… but his dard is not enough to get the girl… For Alizeh, her love is not her best friend… First left by his mother and now by the girl who owns his heart… Ayan lashes out, angry, petulant, entitled, and finally the futility hits him as he leaves Alizeh.

Rejection is an emotion hardest to accept… dare I say, specially by men… The fact that a girl can spurn them, as if the only reason for a girl to love them back is because they have professed their feelings is tough for them to handle. As if heart-break trumps all claims of the girl that she doesn’t love them… Ayan can not fathom Alizeh’s rejection, how can she not love him? HOW?
But he is no acid-thrower, home destroyer… the hero walks away and out of her life. But not before (one of my favorite scenes in the film) cursing Ali and her, wishing a painful death upon them, his pain at being turned down lashing out sharp and hard.



So with a broken heart, as his voice finds power, he finds an alluring, older woman, a Shairaa (Poetess) Saba (Aishwarya Rai Bachchan)… Our bad kisser has come a long way as he shares passionate embraces, lingering love-making… and another triangle is born… Love and longing keeps making connections and separations… as we are introduced to her ex husband (Shahrukh) who still loves her…and it all seems unfair…. But then who said love is a safe bet, when actually in love all bets are off. The ek tarafa pyaar seems to be an ailment all are suffering from in ADHM…

Ranbir has unlearned everything as if taking his clothes off and bares himself like you have not seen before. Right in the opening minutes of the film, he sits quietly, letting his eyes, his quivering lips, his vulnerable demeanour do the talking and clutches your heartstrings… and the last few seconds… is where he strums them like an expert player… I can watch this film again just to see his Ayan. Yes we have seen this turn in Rockstar but you would see the difference, a honing and going even deeper in ADMH. The boy seems to have grown up…

Anushka Sharma, assured like never before, lives Alizeh vibrantly. She is a perfect foil to Ayan. Together with Ranbir, she brings every scene to life, making you forget it is a make-believe world, because they actually make you believe everything that goes on. This performance is pitch perfect.

Aishwarya is stunning, and shares a smouldering chemistry with Ranbir. Their scenes together crackle, even though she doesn’t impress me as the Shaira, her urdu, heavy “dialogues” not ringing true. But does she wow, oh yes!! More please, thank you.

Fawad Khan is there for a minuscule portion, wonder if his role was chopped off thanks to all the controversy. But he of course looks delicious! 

Lisa Haydon is adorable as the ditzy, cotton candy for a brain girlfriend of Ayan. She has made the most of the cameo. 

Oh and SRK!! In just a one scene special appearance he has made me go all weak kneed and ogly eyed. Still has it, my Shahrukh. 

SPOILERS Ahead

So problem kidhar hai? You must be wondering… This film is let down by the weird and banal twist in the second half, where a stage four cancer stricken Alizeh barring the shaved head, looks as fresh as a Daisy. This twist takes the film plunging down with it, as if to remove a person from the equation, permanently is the only solution. this spells sudden death for a movie that was extremely engaging thus far. What is even more banal than the twist, is the treatment of it all, the glamorization, the Kjofication left me disappointed.

Go watch it, because despite the problems, this film is definitely worth a watch, and offers a lot to love.

My Verdict : 3/5



Saturday, 17 September 2016

No, Non, Nein, Net, नहीं... My Review PINK

Starring : Taapsee Pannu, Kirti Kulhari, Andrea Tariang, Amitabh Bachchan, Angad Bedi, Raashul Tandon, Vijay Varma, Tushar Pandey, Piyush Mishra, Dhritimaan Chatterjee, Vinod Nagpal

Director : Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury




Note : MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS 

Years ago I was returning from work at 3 am, it was December, foggy... I got out of my colleague's car and was walking towards my house, I was stopped by the police patrolling my neighborhood who just refused to believe I was returning from work at that hour, that too in a car with a man. They wanted so many details, I almost felt I have committed a crime and they will arrest me. Yup, true story, Delhi in the late 90s. 

Let's cut to the chase just like the film PINK chooses to do. Having breasts and Vaginas is not a choice, just like having a penis isn't. This is how men and women are born. But the society forces diktats on the female sex, taking away the choices, only from women... WHY? Why do women have to suffer and be branded the "Weaker" sex, even in today's world, the women are the ones who have to adhere to a million codes which are apparently there to keep them "Safe". Anyone who chooses to question these codes is quickly branded in various insulting ways "Slut", "Loose", "Bitch", "Inviting", "Solicitous", "Whore"... and these are the nicer ones mind you. 

Women in a patriarchal world are "owned", given gender specific roles, tiny claustrophobic boxes assigned to them, in which they must fit. If not, they are the deviants. They are to be "punished", and abused, if not physically, then mentally, all morals applying only to them, they are "shown" their place in the food chain, in an order established by men. 

Yes, there are exceptions to the rule. While women have proven to be the worst enemies of women in many cases, and men have stood up for women's rights time and again. But let's admit that the condition of women, is largely pathetic when it comes to their freedom to ( oh of that the list is endless). We are far far behind in accepting women as equals, and we live in a world where they are seen through a separate lens altogether. 

And this is not a rant. It is coming from years and years of seeing, being there, seeing us judged, scoffed at, dismissed.. and I find myself still fighting, jumping to the defense of my gender... being grateful still to have escaped the worst... 

And this brings me to one of my favorite dialogue of the film "Hamare desh main Ghadi ki suiyaan ladki ka character decide karti hain". So not only is a girl of questionable character if she comes home late, she is also seen as giving clear indications of being "available" if she wears certain clothes, talks in a friendly fashion, shares a drink with you, touches your arm while talking or simply agrees to hang out with you. These are not fictional statements the film is choosing to make, this is the reality. Pick up the newspaper, and you know what a regressive world we are living in the 21st century. From Chowmein to jeans, everything is blamed for the increased number of rapes and sexual abuse, anything but the fact that men believe the girls "asked" for it, that is is okay to commit this crime, after all the first reaction of most would be to lay a barrage of questions on the girl, making her feel like the perpetrator rather than the victim.

Pink is not mincing words, it is not shying away from speaking the truth, and speaking it loud and clear. It has a strong voice, which doesn't waver, stays on track and delivers a sucker punch. 

Minal, Falak and Andrea. Three young, single, working girls sharing a flat in a South Delhi colony, meet a bunch of guys, one of them known to Minal when they attend a rock concert in Surajkund (Haryana). They decide to have dinner with the boys and have a drink. What follows is a nightmare, with Rajveer (Angad Bedi) trying to force himself on Minal (Taapsee) and when her pleas to stop, her insistent Nos fall on deaf ears, she bangs a bottle on his head in the heat of the moment and they all flee the scene. They are scared, trying to convince each other that somehow they will escape unscathed and the men will not seek revenge... But no such luck. This incident leads to them being harassed and threatened, to the point where they have no option left but to file a police case. Predictably, their lives are turned upside down as the politically connected Rajveer and his cronies leave no stone un-turned with the help of their lawyer and police to prove that the three girls are prostitutes and it is just a case of them falsely implicating the "Izzatdar" Rajveer in a sexual abuse case, and trying to extort money. Their only hope turns out to be an elderly lawyer Deepak Sehgal (Amitabh Bachchan) who stands tall and fights their battle, to not only bring out the truth of what happened that night but also lay bare the ugly face of our hypocritical society, the double standards of men and the sheer shamefulness of way society looks at women and treats them.

I liked that the director did not cast a woman as the defense lawyer for the girls, instead we have a man, who fights for them, showing that if men change their attitude, their mindsets, they can be the real partners to women. Also a smart move to cast Amitabh Bachchan, considering this film needed a big name to make it saleable considering its subject and treatment. The character of the female police officer, who bend backwards to help the case of the politically connected perpetrator exposes the reality further. 

Taapsee, Kirti and Andrea fit well into their roles, all adding an extremely real feel to the proceedings, shorn of make-up and glamour, they are very much the girls next door. If you are familiar with South Delhi's various colonies and the girls sharing rented accommodations there, you would immediately see how bang on the director is with the casting and characterization.  When you see a brave and confident girl like Minal become a bundle of nerves as she is put away in lock-up, you know what the system can do to the bravest of us if we get in the way of its ulterior motives. Rajveer represents the majority of patriarchal bull headed men who believe good girls don't drink, socialize, have a life, a mind of their own... as he says "Aisi ladkiyon ke saath aisa hee hona chahiye" 

PINK can not be placed alongside a regular Hindi film because  to me it's not a vehicle for entertainment. It is a film where the message is right, and even when the craft falters, the film succeeds in staying focused on what it wants to say. Sometimes craft is just holding the mirror up, without the hand wavering, staying strong and brave. 

Coming to the acting, Bachchan brings the gravitas, the resolve, the feeling of "he knows what he is doing" to the proceedings. I can not think of another mainstream actor of his caliber and mass appeal doing this role. His tired eyes, his wavering voice in the first half, his enigmatic presence around the girls as their neighbor works for me.  Barring the weird face mask he uses when he goes for his walks, his some kind of mental illness and the mysteriously ill wife, I loved him in PINK. 

In the girls, Taapasee is over all believable as a gutsy, independent working girl. Kirti Kulhari is powerful and layered, Andrea adds so much vulnerability as a young girl from Meghalaya and her words ring true as she says in the court room : "Girls from the North-East are treated even more badly" (by society in the north). Angad Bedi is very good as Rajveer Singh, hoping to see more of him. Dhritimaan Chatterjee is terrific as the judge, so much grace he brings to the proceedings. I found Piyush Mishra going OTT in many places, but he totally convinces as the lawyer who will say anything to save his client. 

PINK is a cathartic experience for women, those who can speak up and those who can not... against the myriad injustices they live with everyday... In the darkness of the theater they would feel empowered by the victory of truth and the fact that it speaks of issues which Hindi films rarely address and lay bare with such gale force.  

PINK takes all arguments and then boils them down to a single word - NO. As we hear Bachchan say, No is a complete sentence. Nahin main "magar" nahi hota... When a woman says no, it means no. Period. Whether she is your girlfriend, your wife, or a prostitute....  A woman has the right to say no, and that NO is what must be respected, accepted and not taken as anything else. NO MEANS NO. 

PINK is a voice that must be heard.  I say Yes! Go watch.

My Verdict : 3.5/5








Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Ae Dil Hai Mushkil Teaser


Directed by Karan Johar, with a cast boasting of Ranbir Kapoor, Aishwarya Rai, Anushka Sharma and Fawad Khan, ADHM trailer looks very interesting. Enjoy!